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— and the blood and the metaphors and the drunken night —

— and the blood and the metaphors and the drunken night — published on 1 Comment on — and the blood and the metaphors and the drunken night —

I zipped through Innocence by Jane Mendelsohn, a metaphor-drugged story about Beckett, a young teen girl who grieves the death of her mother. When her father marries the school nurse and Beckett gets her horribly painful period, she suspects sinister and blood-related hunger lurking beneath the surface of her new stepmother. Eventually Beckett determines that her new stepmom is out for blood and that she, Beckett, is the Last Girl of the horror films, who must either confront the monster or become its culminating victim.

As you can see by the reviews on Amazon, this book is either a work of transcendent genius or a piece of unreadable, pretentious fluff, depending on the perspective of the reader. I personally liked it.

I liked getting insight into Beckett’s poetic, racing, unhinged mind. I liked the vivid descriptions of New York City at night that so perfectly captured the shining promise and loneliness of looking in at lighted houses from the outside. I liked the portrayal of grief as an unmooring from reality, and I liked Beckett’s climactic realization that dissociation would never help her, that she had to “go inside” and face the horrors inside her own mind. I liked the sensual descriptions of night and sex and death. I liked her smart-ass joker boyfriend Tobey and his gentleness. I appreciated the overall structure of the plot, in which the first half was unhinging and creeping dread and the second part was Beckett coming back to herself and into her own power. I was very satisfied when Beckett drank the blood and accepted adulthood without the murderous, draining aspects exemplified by her stepmom. I thought that Innocence worked as a feminist vampire fairy tale.

I acknowledge, however, that the book has its flaws. Innocence depends too strongly on similes, at the expense of character development for the secondaries. I think, for example, a greater background on her father and her dead mother would have helped give Beckett’s grief and disorientation more emotional heft. Relatedly, Mendelsohn tries to cram too many allusions into this slight book. Beckett ritualistically calls on Alice [Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland], Dorothy [The Wizard of Oz], Persephone [queen of the Underworld], but the ensuing imagery  and thematic structure of the novel does not bear comparison to any of the stories these characters come from. In fact, Innocence, with its conflict between a hungry replacement mom and a young teen just growing into her sexual partner — not to mention all the temptation, desire, death and blood — reimagines the Snow White story. Of all the tales she could have centered on, Mendelsohn should have made this obvious choice and run with it. Mendelsohn could have strengthened the story with a few references to this fairy tale, instead of a few forced scattershot intrusions from largely irrelevant tales.

I think of this book the way that I think of my favorite movie, Labyrinth. Labyrinth is full of promising elements, strong themes and interesting, dark, poetic, weird sexual strains. Some of them work — i.e., the polymorphously perverse portrayal of Jareth — and some don’t — i.e., the idea that stupid, staring Sarah is an active, maturing heroine. In the same way, Innocence bursts with a mess of fascinating, powerful elements. Some don’t work [e.g., forced allusions to irrelevant tales, development of secondaries], but some do [Beckett’s character arc, Beckett as a sympathetic personality, the characterization of New York City, the condensed and disjointed style]. To compare it to another vampire novel, it’s like Dracula. Some of it’s good; some of it’s dreadful, but it has its moments of inspired originality. Either way, it has staying power; it’s memorable.

“Tiresome sex” and the Anita Blake series.

“Tiresome sex” and the Anita Blake series. published on 4 Comments on “Tiresome sex” and the Anita Blake series.

Apparently the Anita Blake series started off interesting and slid into porn. For example, an Amazon reviewer savages Narcissus in Chains, a midstream book in the series, as follows: “This book brings in a new character, the male Nimir-Raj of another were-leopard pack, with whom Anita immediately has sex. And there’s mental sex, virtual sex, interspecies sex… it gets downright tiresome. You never knew sex could be this boring.” HAH!

Maybe I should go back and read some of the earlier books in the series? I keep confusing them with Nancy Collins’ Sonja Blue series, which memorably has vampire protagonist at odds with her vampirism, personified as a sleek and crazy killer that squats in her mind and talks to her under its breath. I would reread Collins again just for Sonja’s internal dialogs.

Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, aka Chris Moore can’t write female characters worth shit.

Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, aka Chris Moore can’t write female characters worth shit. published on 2 Comments on Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, aka Chris Moore can’t write female characters worth shit.

So I finished Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, which was grotesquely overrated, unfunny and generally stupid. It’s about a pretentious loser of a wannabe writer, Tommy, and his vampire girlfriend Jody. 

I cannot emphasize enough how dull and jejune this book is. All the characters are unironic, lazy stereotypes, from the gormless callow youth who somehow snags a sexy lady [Tommy], to the funny stoner coworkers, to the Wise Fool homeless man who helps to defeat the evil vampire [the Emperor], to the overbearing mother [Jody’s mom]. I get the feeling that Moore wants to coast on his supposedly witty writing, but he tries too hard to be funny, so both characters and joke come across as stale and desperate, rather than fresh.

Furthermore, Moore can’t write a convincing female character worth shit. Jody, who has the most interesting character arc as she learns how to be a vampire, has about as much personality as a paper bag. She doesn’t have an original thought in her head. For example, her first realization after she turns into a vampire is “I need a man.” I can think of many possible reactions — “I need medical care/answers/my friends/my family/my significant other/a drink/a shotgun/revenge/a nap/a moment to think/a cup of O positive/a way to calm down” — that would be believable responses to being vamped. “I need a man” is not one of them. “I need help and some sort of unquestioning stability; therefore I will exploit a lovestruck patsy” is conceivable, and it’s pretty clear that this is Jody’s plan, but “I need a man” is just a stupid false note. The only way “I need a man” would make sense is if women were dependent, weak, flaccid creatures without turgor pressure who needed men to provide life support and exoskeletons for them. Since they aren’t, Moore just reveals his limited understanding of what women think about. Boooooooring.

Up next: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris because I like both vampires and mysteries.

Wow, look at the detail on that dust!!

Wow, look at the detail on that dust!! published on 1 Comment on Wow, look at the detail on that dust!!

Two years ago, I picked up an idea online for how to make a cheap light box. A light box is a device to diffuse light around objects that one is taking pictures of, thus mitigating the effect of crappy amateurish lighting rigs [read: desk bulbs]. Following the guide posted on Strobist, I chopped up a cardboard box and tissue paper to create the following:

Then I tried to take some pictures. The light box successfully diffused the light to such a great degree that I achieved accurate, in-focus, highly detailed pictures of the dust on Velvette’s face.

Two photo sessions later, I finally squeezed out a decent shot of my most beautiful doll ever. I’ve also decided that I’ve reached the limits of my camera’s macro capabilities and therefore want a more powerful camera. Some non-yellow lights would be good as well, especially if I’m going to start taking pictures of dolls again.

World Wide Words

World Wide Words published on 1 Comment on World Wide Words

Michael Quinion, a speaker of British English, writes essays about the origins of unusual words and slang. I followed a link to his site because I wanted to find out the approximate date of one of my favorite adjectives, copacetic. Its age is indeterminate, but I did find many other fascinating tidbits on the site.

I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space!

I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space! published on 1 Comment on I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space!

Megan Gedris takes on pulpy conventions of the 1950s in I Was Kidnapped…, a high-spirited, brightly illustrated space chase, featuring charming naive Earthling Susie and a band of lesbian pirates with fabulous hair. Thrill to their visits to unknown planets! Laugh as they outwit the incredibly doltish Male Man! Cheer as the sexual tension mounts! It’s like the Rocky Horror Picture Show…only in comic form…and without any music…and I mean that in the best way possible.

LHF 1.3: “Offended Vampires”

LHF 1.3: “Offended Vampires” published on No Comments on LHF 1.3: “Offended Vampires”

And we’re back with a new ep of LHF, in which Will has a fight over the phone with one of Anneka’s grandmothers. Leave a comment on the site and don’t forget that you can subscribe to the LJ feed at All the cool people are doing it. [Apparently there are only 18 cool people in the world… :p ]

That’s NOT a Mick Jagger doll!

That’s NOT a Mick Jagger doll! published on 3 Comments on That’s NOT a Mick Jagger doll!

Medicom Toy is making a Mick Jagger doll. I think it would be a better likeness of Cher instead. Hell, I made a more convincing Mick Jagger by painting some big gorgeous lips on a DML Jennifer. The accompanying Keith Richards doll has a better likeness but, for some reason, both sculpts seem immune to gravity. Even in their youth, the members of the Rolling Stones had fascinatingly mobile and lumpy faces that quickly showed the ravages of their addictions. I see no stretching and wrinkling on these portraits. Very disappointing.

I am so disappointed with the Bones writers.

I am so disappointed with the Bones writers. published on 1 Comment on I am so disappointed with the Bones writers.

Bones, which I have previously mentioned as a favorite time-passer, succeeds as a show for one reason and one reason alone: the chemistry among the leads. Deschanel as Bones and Boreanaz as Booth collaborate in a perfect mixture of pathos, comic timing, barely suppressed desire and complementary types of intelligence, a testament to their skill and to their dual magnetism. The actors who play the secondaries at Bones’ lab — Angela, Hodgins [I have a crushy crush on T.J. Thyne], Zach and Sorayan — play off the primaries and each other well. For example, a constant source of entertainment for me was the perpetual King of the Lab tension between Hodgins and Zach. At the same time, Hodgins and Zach’s outrageous experiments also provided comic relief and an outlet to show that, just because the guys were nerds, they were not entirely devoid of baser passions, such as the passion to engage in pissing contests. In conclusion, I like Bones because it makes me feel smart when I watch it, and plus the characters are generally warm, funny and engaging. After the play between Bones and Booth, I like the play between Zach and Hodgins.

…Which is why I’m really annoyed with the Bones writers for writing Zach off the show in the final ep by making him an apprentice to a serial killer. I see how the clues built into the season pointed to the killer being someone on Bones’ team, but the clues just provide a means for Zach to be a serial killer. The crime lacks motive. Why the hell would Zach apprentice himself to a serial killer? As an introverted, emotionally detached, extremely stereotypical intellectual, he always seemed to have found a family of accepting and jocular peers in Bones’ team, people who respected him, loved him and gave him a home. I emphasize the familial atmosphere because I always saw the team as giving outcasts a safety net and a haven from the uncaring world precisely so that such geniuses would NOT implode and become criminals. So Zach evinced no weak personality, no susceptibility, as far as I can tell, to the seductive wiles of a serial killer. Perhaps Zach could have been exploited through his shame over being an Army reject, but that storyline was dropped in season 2, and the writers made no effort to tie Zach’s development into a murderer with his experiences in the Army. In fact, the writers didn’t tie Zach as serial killer to much of ANYTHING, especially not 3 seasons of character development that pointed Zach anywhere BUT toward serial killing.

I am pissed at the writers of the show because this finale development of Zach as murderer ruins the show for two reasons. 1) It’s completely out of character for Zach. 2) It removes Zach from the show, thus damaging the show’s core chemistry and one of its greatest strengths. 

And WHY did they do this? In an interview with, Eric Millegan, who played Zach, offers a revealing explanation: “Oh, I’m following the fate of my character. It wasn’t my choice — it was a creative decision to shake things up and make a good season finale.”

In other words, the writers tossed character continuity and show integrity out the window in favor of blowing their wad. They thought that Zach as serial killer sounded nifty — never mind the complete lack of believability and set-up! — and that it would make for a truly awesome season finale, so they really reduced the quality of the show.

Series creator Hart Hanson backs up my interpretation in another interview where he tries to justify the development with two excuses. 1) The writers’ strike prevented us from actually showing Zach becoming Gormogon’s apprentice. That’s understandable, but it still doesn’t address why Zach’s character acted so…well, out of character. Hanson’s second excuse: 2) Oh, we just did that to piss viewers off. So Hanson basically admitted that there was no narrative logic to the development beyond that of pissing off viewers. I’m all for pissing off viewers, but only under the strictures of narrative requirement. The narrative of Bones season 3 did not require Zach to become a killer. The writers failed the test of narrative requirement.

Stephenie Meyer hurts my brain.

Stephenie Meyer hurts my brain. published on 3 Comments on Stephenie Meyer hurts my brain.

Eclipse is a big fat turd, mind-boggling in its display of authorial ineptitude. I’m seriously stupefied by the abounding incoherence. In Twilight and New Moon, the characters had some consistency, no matter how repulsive and stupid they were. In New Moon, however, said consistency went out the window, with Edward and Jacob suffering the most. Also I the reader suffered when Bella took her stupidity to new lows.

Edward…well, he flipped his shit. I found his character mildly interesting in the first two books because he was basically always fighting a hard-on. Suddenly he stops fighting his hard-on and basically browbeats Bella into marriage so he can avoid having sex out of wedlock and they can do the nasty soon soon soon. I thought his character was all about balancing out his hunger with rationality, not giving into it. So, from a purely objective point of view, Edward failed his Consistency Test, whether I liked him or not. And I don’t like him. Since he failed as a purely structural device, we don’t need to go into his disgusting personality: his disabling Bella’s truck so she couldn’t go see Jacob when she wanted to, not to mention his constant physical restraining, mouth-covering and otherwise squishing of Bella — examples of him abusing her by merely existing.

Jacob failed his Consistency Test and flipped his shit too. In book 2, he really came into his own as an energetic spot of real character development in an otherwise dull series of mood swings that were trying to pass as a plot. Book 3, however, sees his cheerfulness and ebullience disappear for no apparent reason to be replaced by the volatile, surly traits of a sexually assaulting pervert. I really don’t see how that came about because it wasn’t in his character. Yet book 3 shows him equal to Edward in mind-fuckery, violating Bella by kissing her against her will, pretending he’s gonna die unless she gives him a hug, etc., etc., etc. For a book that is supposedly about a love triangle and Bella’s decision between two guys [Meyer insists that Jacob is Bella’s “other option”], book 3 doesn’t actually offer Bella any choice of guys. Both Edward and Jacob are sneaky, pissy, controlling, tempestuous, manipulative creeps.

Bella has flipped her shit too. Well, I thought she had flipped it when, in book 1, she conceived of an overwhelming desire to become a vampire. But now she’s really flipped it. She pauses to think about the consequences of her vampirization. This is a promising sign. Maybe she’ll think about the loneliness of living far beyond her parents and other family, about the transient lifestyle needed to avoid human suspicion, about her sacrifice of a normal human life [possibly including college, graduation, dating, marriage, family of her own], of the constant struggle with addiction to human blood, of the danger she may be to her human loved ones as a feral “newborn.” Right?  Right…? Wrong. Bella worries occasionally about going nuts as a new vampire, but mostly she obsesses about having sex as a human with her darling Edward. Yes, that’s right, folks. She actively dismisses concerns about her future trajectory as a human being, the temptations of blood-drinking, the danger of being a newborn vampire. And, even more incredibly, she doesn’t even think about her parents and family at all. No, all she focuses on is getting her rocks off. The narrow-minded, selfish, heartless, immature and actively stupid behavior of this character amazes me. Why does the entire cast of this series fawn over her as if she is a saint? She really is an ungrateful, wretched human being. I’m trying to think of some charitable means of reforming her to introduce a little compassion into her soul, but my imagination fails me, primarily because I loathe her so much that I can’t think of any benefit to her continued existence.

Zombie babysitter doll!

Zombie babysitter doll! published on No Comments on Zombie babysitter doll!

Coming soon from Sideshow Toys, which is radically inconsistent in terms of quality from toy to toy, is the dead cute zombie babysitter. I personally think she just became a vampire while being consumed by flesh-eating bacteria, so her decay was halted, but so was her healing. Yuck.

Quality-wise, this conception looks pretty good with head in-scale…but why are there bendy arms? Why ruin a perfectly good fig with arms that can’t do anything?

Antidote to bad vampire novels: The Silver Kiss

Antidote to bad vampire novels: The Silver Kiss published on 1 Comment on Antidote to bad vampire novels: The Silver Kiss

After reading Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, I needed to wash my brain out with a vampire novel of higher quality. Since I've practically memorized Carmilla and Dracula at this point, I chose instead a modern classic: The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause. It tells the story of petulant, artistic and sensitive Zoe, 17, who feels as if her world is imploding because her mom is dying of cancer. She meets Simon, a sympathetic badass vampire bent on vengeance against his brother for killing their mom. Simon helps Zoe deal with her mom's demise, and she helps him achieve revenge.

Good things about The Silver Kiss: Klause writes in a fast-paced style, but with frequent flashes of poetry in her use of unexpected adjectives. From the title onward, she creates a fascinating atmosphere of magic and melancholy.  Her portrayal of the grieving Zoe's mood swings is accurate and compassionate, anchoring the book in a drama that readers can easily identify with. Unlike Meyer, who can't write an appealing, active character to save her life, Klause shows both Zoe and Simon as broken-hearted characters who think way too much and thus have a common bond that explains their attraction. Finally, Klause's use of vampires as a metaphor for the grieving process illuminates both Zoe's stories and vampire myths in general, offering a believable reason that such deadly humanoid parasites could be sympathetic.

Bad things about The Silver Kiss: Zoe does not read as a 17-year-old to me. Even making allowances for her grief and general strain, I find it hard to believe that her constant whininess and snappishness would come from someone over 15. Klause should have made her 15; I don't think the story would have suffered. Relatedly, I sympathize with Zoe because I've experienced death and know how it can punch one in the gut, but still…while sympathetic, Zoe is a hard character to like and follow along with. Simon is a bit better, although Klause tries too hard [e.g., in the scene where he beats up drunken doofuses and steals one of their leather jackets] to make him edgy. These lapses are forgivable, though, when compared to the main problem of the book: the ending. I accept Simon's suicide/sacrifice, but I reject Zoe's sudden confidence and lack of fear about dying. All along, Klause depicts grief as a tangle, and it's never unknotted so simply and completely. Even if Klause had written that Zoe "wasn't SO scared any more" instead of "wasn't scared any more," that would have been better.

Nevertheless, The Silver Kiss is a vivid, nuanced novel about vampires.

New Moon, the sequel to Twilight, is, however, not. It's just more of the same sluggish melodrama that we saw in Twilight. A coworker who borrowed Twilight from me summed up my feelings toward this series well when she said, "I finished Twilight. I stayed up late reading it." Thoughtful pause. "I didn't like it very much."

Next up: Blood-Sucking Fiends: A Love Story by Christopher Moore.

I get vy a cow; I get vy a horse; but I don’t get viaduct. Viaduct?!

I get vy a cow; I get vy a horse; but I don’t get viaduct. Viaduct?! published on No Comments on I get vy a cow; I get vy a horse; but I don’t get viaduct. Viaduct?!

I got some ducks to make a 3-D version of the Make Way For Ducklings statue in Boston Public Garden so my LHF characters can hang out there.

1:6 WILL!!!!!!! I FOUND HIM!!!!

1:6 WILL!!!!!!! I FOUND HIM!!!! published on 1 Comment on 1:6 WILL!!!!!!! I FOUND HIM!!!!

The stylized, androgynous, not-too-harsh features, the full lips, narrow face…it all matches!  The accurate hair is just an added bonus.

This is a Hot Toys 1:6 version of some dude from the Resident Evil franchise.

Dammit — I need to stop whacking off and get to work. I wonder if the local comics stores have him in stock.

I miss my 1:6 Will doll.

I miss my 1:6 Will doll. published on No Comments on I miss my 1:6 Will doll.

Maybe I should figure out how to put his head on his body…or make him a new head or something??? 

EDIT: Hmmmm, maybe I should get an Obitsu Slim male body and put another Galadriel head on it…Or that Obitsu Slim Male head that I did as Jareth a while back… Or a Beka Valentine…I know I have one of those bonking around…  

EDIT 2: Or my blue Lilith doll, who already has the appropriate smirk and lots of makeup…or a CG01 head…The head matters less than does the fact that I find a 1:6 Will doll… Maybe the PB head I painted as Frank a while back?

Night Watch and Day Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko: Just can’t get into ’em.

Night Watch and Day Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko: Just can’t get into ’em. published on 1 Comment on Night Watch and Day Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko: Just can’t get into ’em.

I don’t know what the hullabaloo is about Sergei Lukyanenko’s series about the Others: Night Watch, Day Watch, Twilight Watch, etc. It’s about the LIght and the Dark in stalemates, each monitored by police forces from the opposing team, which sounds like it could be an interesting premise. 

However, what some people see as sharp, edgy urban fantasy I see as pointless action at the expense of character development. What some readers interpret as a fantastic revamping of fantasy I think of as retreaded fantasy cliches executed with little originality or flair and, even more damningly, very little sense of humor. What some read as a fast pace I read as a simplistic plot line with no subtlety or twists.

Additionally, the clunky translation by Andrew Bromfield states the obvious and uses too many exclamation points [“Things were looking really bad now!”]. Thus books [I’ve sampled Night Watch and Day Watch so far] seem immature and overwritten. 

Besides, in Night Watch, on top of not giving a key vampire a name, but just calling her “the vampire girl” dismissively throughout an entire chunk of the novel, Lukyanenko also succeeded in making vampires particularly dull, a crime that I can never forgive. Though, in the preface, the vampires truly seemed evil, seductive and magical, they flattened out in ensuing pages. His prefaces always start off exciting, but then the rest of each book falls flat. Bait and switch, BAIT AND SWITCH. 🙁

Hot draggy Campari commercial

Hot draggy Campari commercial published on 1 Comment on Hot draggy Campari commercial

Excuse me while I sit here drooling over the way the man dramatically wipes his lipstick, making it trail across his face like an exposure of his secret skin and the way the woman discloses her bound breasts with a fluid movement, shucking her shirt as if it’s petals of a flower. Found at Sociological Images.

Today California, tomorrow the world!!! Or at least the rest of the 50 states…

Today California, tomorrow the world!!! Or at least the rest of the 50 states… published on 1 Comment on Today California, tomorrow the world!!! Or at least the rest of the 50 states…

California Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban!!! An excerpt from the decision reads:

In Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco (2004) 33 Cal.4th 1055 (Lockyer), this court concluded that public officials of the City and County of San Francisco acted unlawfully by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the absence of a judicial determination that the California statutes limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman are unconstitutional.

So, because California has no heteros-only marriage amendment in the constitutional, marriage, full civil marriage with all state-granted rights and privileges pertaining thereunto, is now LEGAL in California! Having one of the trend-setting, largest, most influential states on our side will surely increase the pressure for recognizing the constitutionality of gay marriage on the state level AND the national level and thus, by extension, the unconstitutionality of the stupid, illegal DOMAs on the state and national levels. Excelsior, people! Excelsior!

Clothes on, clothes off, clothes on, clothes off…

Clothes on, clothes off, clothes on, clothes off… published on No Comments on Clothes on, clothes off, clothes on, clothes off…

You know where most of my time, energy and money goes regarding my dolls? This goes for 1:6 action figs, BJDs and my digital models. It goes to CLOTHES. I spend the most money not on the basic figures themselves or sets or accessories, but outfits. And I spend time not on scripting, lighting, posing, shooting or editing, but dressing and undressing.

I have a barrelful of deeply emotional and aesthetic reasons for enjoying dolls, but I would like to add a simple, not-so-profound one to the list. Dressing up and down is FUN. Dressing one’s own human self up and down is often limited by available funds or available sizes, while dressing small replicas of people up and down tends to be cheaper and less hampered by sizing problems. Besides being less expensive and also easier than dressing oneself up and down, dressing dolls up and down also offers the pleasures of an open-ended puzzle in which one keeps rearranging elements to achieve some desired solution or look. 

Furthermore, dressing dolls up and down provides a challenge — to successfully dress/undress the doll — than can be as simple or as complex as one wishes. For example, one can have a general goal [i.e., winter clothes suitable for a background character] or a more elusive, yet specific goal [i.e., something for a male character that highlights gender ambiguity and play without crossing into the stereotypical territory of transvestite or drag queen, while containing high levels of pink and orange, as well as high heels and something form-fitting]. [The last is usually my general set of provisions when choosing clothes for Will.] Because the level of sophistication is determined entirely by the doll owner’s level of interest, doll dressing/undressing can, in many cases, be both a challenge with a series of obstacles and a deeply satisfying endeavor.

Dressing dolls up and down seems to be such an integral part of the way that doll owners use their dolls that I sometimes think that people get dolls solely to take their clothes off and put them back on. Clothing removal and addition is a major way that people play with their dolls. It’s a version of the child’s game of “dress up,” which entails formulating strange outfits from the leftovers of hand-me-downs and old costumes. By this analogy, doll dressing/undressing furthers no greater goal [i.e., the dolls aren’t necessarily dressing up to go somewhere] and has no deeper meaning. It’s simply an end in and of itself.

P.S. Purveyors of paper dolls understand the sheer joy that comes from dressing/undressing dolls, and they exploit this to its logical extremity. Paper dolls remove the extraneous details from a doll — articulation, eyes, hair, even its very three-dimensionality — in favor of a mere base upon which different outfits can be applied.

Twilight as fan fiction

Twilight as fan fiction published on 5 Comments on Twilight as fan fiction

Twilight is fan fiction, and from this fan fictional identity derives both its strengths and its weaknesses.

While fan fiction may be strictly defined as unauthorized literary activities with someone else’s characters, I would also define as fan fiction a self-insertion story where the writer uses time-worn literary devices to stick him- or herself into a story, thus fulfilling his/her wishes. This definition of fan fiction thus includes Twilight.

Fan fic of the self-insertion type almost always features a Mary Sue, an idealized character whose high levels of beauty, virtue, personal magnetism and general magic create a narrative vortex from which not even the strongest plot can escape. A bastardized author surrogate, the Mary Sue is not a realistic self-insertion because the Mary Sue’s ideal qualities have no bearing on the author’s actual real-life personality. Nevertheless, Mary Sue can still be seen as a self-insertion because she represents the author’s transparent ideal of a perfect character who receives all the benefits of the narrative.

In her entertaining and informative overview, Too Good To Be True: 150 Years Of Mary Sue, Pat Pflieger lists the common traits of a Mary Sue. Bella Swan, protagonist of Twilight, has almost all of these traits, suggesting that she is a transparently obvious Mary Sue.

To summarize Pflieger’s list:

1. “Her name is distinctive, symbolic, or descriptive — and sometimes uncannily similar to that of her creator.” Isabella Swan certainly counts as a distinctive name. Because Isabella was the name of a Spanish queen and because swans are connoted as graceful, beautiful, pure birds, the symbolic weight of Bella’s name pushes her clearly into idealized territory.

2. A Mary Sue is “physically striking.” In Bella’s case, her black hair and extremely pale skin form a fascinating aesthetic contrast recognizable from thousands of versions of Snow White. With her slight stature and light weight [115 pounds, I think], she epitomizes dainty, frail, childlike femininity.

3. A Mary Sue has excellent brainpower: intelligence, cleverness, psychic powers and/or empathy. While no one can, by any stretch of the imagination, call Bella intelligent or even clever, she does possess a certain type of mental magic. First, for some reason, she is impervious to vampiric mind-reading. Second, she also has enough empathetic perception to realize that Edward is full of bullshit a vampire. Her mental shielding abilities and her sympathetic insights into vampires count as Bella’s special brainpower.

4. A Mary Sue is tough. While Bella may not have much grit, gumption or backbone, she certainly is tough as in indestructible. Nearly crushed by a van, bitten by a vampire and flung across the room, Bella suffers a variety of slams throughout Twilight. But, by the end of the novel, she still has enough energy to limp to her prom, despite several casts.

5. A Mary Sue may have elements of whimsy in her character or things about her that others find endearing. Though I personally am not amused by this, Edward seems quite enchanted by Bella’s tendency to injure herself and faint at inopportune times. Stephenie Meyer may be attempting some whimsy here, but it’s hard to tell.

6. “In these stories, Mary Sue is the center of the known universe.” Despite having no known redeeming qualities, Bella attracts admirers the way that carrion attracts rotting meat. When she wanders in to high school in Forks, guys immediately introduce themselves to her, as do girls. She soon has at least four male admirers, including 2 mortals, 1 werewolf [Jacob, who I knew was a werewolf from the very first time I saw him] and 1 vampire. In time, the entire Cullen clan is orbiting around her, going to drastic lengths to keep her alive. Furthermore, the climax of the book occurs because evil vampires are hunting…guess who? Bella, of course. With a posse of mortal groupies, a gang of vampires catering to her whims and a group of evil vampires setting her in their sights, Bella is an object for 90% of the cast of Twilight.

Dramatically named, stunningly beautiful, unusually empathetic, indefatigably full of endurance, charmingly klutzy, not to mention charismatic to good and evil characters alike, Bella is obviously a Mary Sue.

In fact, Stephenie Meyer even says as much on Web site where she writes in an essay called The Story Behind Twilight, “For my vampire (who I was in love with from day one) I decided to use a name that had once been considered romantic, but had fallen out of popularity for decades [emphasis mine].” While Meyer claims elsewhere in this essay that her characters “won’t shut up” and that they behave like invisible friends, she tellingly does not ever say that she is “in love” with Bella. Did you get that? She is just “in love” with Edward.

Some simple math shows us how this casual statement proves Twilight is a self-insertion fic. Meyer is “in love” with Edward. Bella, her character, is “in love” with Edward. Since Meyer wishes to experience the type of all-consuming lust and passion that she only dreams about [aforementioned essay describes how the climactic chapter and central concept of Twilight came to her in a dream], she uses Bella to get into the story and experience being “in love” with the sparkly glitter vampire. Bella is [an idealized author surrogate for] Meyer.

Some time later I will discuss how Twilight as fan fiction informs the work’s strengths and weaknesses.

Previous discussions of Mary Sues are here [Mary Sue quiz] and here [why Mary Sue has to die]. A general discussion of literary tropes is here [ applied to LHF].

Previous entries in the series on my Twilight mini-obsession are here:  #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5.



Enemas for inspiration

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Nick Lowe, in an article entitled The Well-Tempered Plot Device [in an old 1986 issue of Ansible] in which he is ranting against hackneyed sci-fi/fantasy, terms worn-out literary devices [e.g., red kryptonite] as “little enemas to the Muse.” HAH! Poor Muse, don’t eat cliches, or you’ll leak plot out your ass.

Dark Needs at Night’s Edge

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While I was at W**-M**t buying my own copy of Twilight, I noticed an infestation of OTHER vampire romance novels all over the bestsellers shelves. I poked my head into Dark Needs at Night’s Edge by Kresley Cole because it sounded vaguely promising. Neomi, insubstantial and glammy ghost ballerina, is bound forever to haunt her property, unseen by all. Fortunately, entertainment arrives in the form of Conrad, a slightly looney vampire whose specialties are frothing, gnashing and — hooray! — viewing Neomi. Plot ensues.

This one was hilarious, primarily because of Conrad. If you follow the link, you can read an excerpt from the book, which portrays his internal monolog as follows: “Tales of his insanity spreading once more. I’ve never missed a target — how insane can I be? He answers himself: Very fucking much so.” To such inane rhetorical questions, Cole also adds constant, redundant commentary on the action: “Just as his hands are about to meet around the Lykae’s corded neck, the beast claps something to his right wrist. A manacle? Clenching harder, he grates out a rasping laugh.” Furthermore, Cole makes Conrad curse constantly, just in case you haven’t realized how BAD-FUCKING-ASS he is, okay? Conrad, incidentally, does not come across as particularly bad-ass. He comes across as a weirdo with a puppet show in his head.

I can’t tell you what happened in the rest of the book because I didn’t have time to finish it, but I assume that Neomi and Conrad had sex [somehow] and then lived happily ever after, at least until Neomi caught a whiff of his internal monolog and laughed so hard that she dissolved.

Vampires are people too in Vivian Vande Velde’s Companions of the Night

Vampires are people too in Vivian Vande Velde’s Companions of the Night published on

Velde reimagines the vampire romance genre with Companions of the Night, a 1995 story of teenaged Kerry, whose trip to the laundromat to retrieve her little brother’s teddy embroils her in torture, kidnap, robbery, arson and murder. When she defends Ethan against vicious kidnappers, she discovers that she got more than she bargained for, as Ethan is sneaky, unreliable and vampiric. Nevertheless, she must trust him and even adopt some of his tough, duplicitous ways if she is to rescue her family from an unhinged vampire hunter.

This was much more a book about action and suspense than about supernatural events. Though Ethan introduces Kerry to a world of standard vampiric tropes, much of the book focuses on the secretive and destructive acts he and Kerry must perform to follow and capture the unhinged hunter. Thus Ethan and the rest of the vampires seem no more dangerous than any mortal gang that survives by doing nasty things under most people’s radar. The strong similarities between vampires and members of criminal gangs illuminated Velde’s vampires as people who are living out the worst of their human nature. I personally liked this conception of vampires being all too susceptible to human failings. 

Even though I liked Velde’s perspective on vampiric nature and heroine Kerry, who, though victimized by vampires, retains some cleverness, suspicion and ambivalence throughout the book, I didn’t find Companions of the Night engaging. With such an evocative title conjuring up friendship or, at the very least, close, strongly emotional ties, the book should at least have a little feeling, right? Since we follow Kerry, we should feel her panic, her confusion, her attraction toward Ethan, her anxiety about her missing family. But we don’t. Instead of sincere emotion, we get lots of frenetic action, which is fascinating because we’re trying to figure out how all the pieces of the puzzle will fit, but I don’t really care if they do. 

Somewhere between the melodrama of Twilight and the jumpy action of Companions of the Night, there’s a great vampire novel. However, I have yet to read it. Maybe it doesn’t exist. Sob!

Vampires, ghosts and spirits in a Thai light bulb commercial

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Check it out. The first creature that appears in this commercial, the krasue, is a variant of the self-detaching, flying mananagal or penanggalen — a southeast Asian type of vampiric creature — that I’ve mentioned earlier. I love how dismissively the family reacts to the mythical beings. 

Today’s word: “pillowy”

Today’s word: “pillowy” published on No Comments on Today’s word: “pillowy”

Lev Grossman describes the style of Stephenie Meyer, whose garbologous vampire train wrecks are the object of my current mini-obsession, as “pillowy…distinctly reminiscent of Internet fan fiction.”  A beautifully evocative adjective, yes? Still rather vague in this sentence, though. I think of a “pillowy” book as one you can take to bed: a comfortable, predictable story that leaves you feeling warm, unchallenged and happy. Since “pillowy” literally means “like a pillow” or “soft,” Grossman seems to have something in mind more along the lines of “squishy, sentimental and lacking in true substance.” I’d argue that Meyer’s books are “pillowy=comfortable and soothing” because they are “pillowy=sentimental and light.”

I also think “pillowy” should be removed from its derogatory relegation because it’s perfect for so many other things: the warm rounded curves of the Green Mountains, the gentle hills of cumulus clouds on a summer day, the layered mounds of petals in a rose flower, the frothy and cool sensations of Key Lime pie, the undulant stillness of floating in a calm body of water, the comfortable portions of a loved one that you like to rest your head against and, of course, the yielding mountains of bedclothes upon which you drop into dreams.

Previous entries in the Stephenie Meyer series are here: #1, #2, #3 and #4.

I’m trapped in the Labyrinth with only a pink computer for communication. Also Jareth is being mean.

I’m trapped in the Labyrinth with only a pink computer for communication. Also Jareth is being mean. published on No Comments on I’m trapped in the Labyrinth with only a pink computer for communication. Also Jareth is being mean.

I’m about 10 years late to the game, but this checklist for writers of Laby fanfic makes me crack up. It reminds me of the episodically long fanfic via E-mail I did with one of my friends during my first year of college and into the summer. I don’t even remember what the plot was, but Jareth kept dragging us back and forth out of the Labyrinth. If I recall accurately, the Labyrinth was losing magic, and, for some reason, my friend and I had to be the ones to fix it. 

The one clever innovation we had was that we would write each other messages and occasionally IMs as if we were in plot [“I just had the weirdest experience; Jareth yanked me into the Labyrinth again…”], and I believe there was some writing in character from Jareth’s point of view too. He, by the way, was immature, selfish, explosive, infuriating, manipulative, annoying and thoroughly unredeemable, which proved problematic as we struggled to find a justification for helping out the King of the Dickwads Goblins.

Anyway, we stopped writing after HUNDREDS of single-spaced pages. As we trailed off, I was stuck in the Labyrinth with only a pink computer for a communications device! OH NO!!! The non-ending ending amuses me because it makes me think of something like Dispatches From The Labyrinth. 

Now I’m getting nostalgic. I should look back at that file. [Yes, I still have it all in one file and NO YOU CAN’T READ IT.]

“I can see — hah! — right through you!”: review of Death Becomes Her

“I can see — hah! — right through you!”: review of Death Becomes Her published on 1 Comment on “I can see — hah! — right through you!”: review of Death Becomes Her

Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn’s impressive physical comedy — with rubbery, expressive faces and slapstick timing — really make Death Becomes Her.  Competing for the affections of plastic surgeon and undertaker Ernest [played by Bruce Willis], Madeline [Streep] and Helen [Hawn] characters ingest a magical elixir that guarantees perfect youth. Unfortunately, the formula does not guarantee perfect invulnerability, so Madeline and Helen prevail upon Ernest to do their heavy-duty make-up and maintenance. Will they tempt Ernest  to immortality? Will they be able to keep themselves together [literally]? Who really ends up with immortality in the end? 

With dry wit, the script deftly skewers the modern equation of youth with beauty and happiness; Streep and Hawn, masters of zingy delivery, drop bons mots that kept me chuckling. They play their constant goat-getting with such relish that the fact of their misery goes slightly less noticed until the end, when they attend Ernest’s funeral and learn that, through his kindness, charity, sense of humor and good works, as well as his descendants, he has truly reached immortality.

On a vampiric note, I enjoyed Death Becomes Her for its investigation of the flip side of immortality. Madeline and Helen’s physical fragility exemplifies a damning and unexpected consequence of living forever. [I particularly liked Madeline’s confrontation with the medical establishment. Her controversion of all laws of physics drives the examining physician to drink.] Meanwhile, Ernest, who thinks of immortality as boring, lonely and pointless, provides the philosophical argument for a finite lifespan.

[Filed under “vampires” for treatment of immortality.]

The trashiness is MINE!

The trashiness is MINE! published on 3 Comments on The trashiness is MINE!

Having acquired my own copy of Twilight, I can now revisit its wonderfully horrible fan-fictional melodrama any time I wish. HUZZAH!!!

There are some very unintentionally revealing articles about author Stephenie Meyer that I want to analyze, but I can’t do it now, so I’ll just link to them:

Stephenie Meyer: A New J.K. Rowling? by Lev Grossman, Time, April 24, 2008.

Stephenie Meyer [The New Time 100: #74] by Orson Scott Card, Time, May 5, 2008

The Story Behind Twilight by Stephenie Meyer,

There is no such thing as a good vampire movie.

There is no such thing as a good vampire movie. published on 2 Comments on There is no such thing as a good vampire movie.

I am firmly convinced of this. I just saw the teaser trailer for Twilight [previously mentioned here and here], in which Bella, a mortal, falls in love with Edward, a douchebag vampire. Because the trailer usually provides a condensed view of the movie’s tone, cinematography, plot and acting abilities, I have no faith in the upcoming film. It appears that it will consist of people standing around looking dyspeptic and occasionally making hammy, passionate proclamations, all with portentous special effects and no sense of humor whatsoever. Regrettable, really, when Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are each young actors known for actually doing some good acting.

Wait…I take back what I said about there being no good vampire movies. Nosferatu is good.

A vampire romance train wreck: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

A vampire romance train wreck: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer published on 16 Comments on A vampire romance train wreck: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I eagerly devoured Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, which I mentioned in a previous entry, and hoooooo boy, it was even better than I expected, which is to say that it was gloriously horrible!

The narrator Bella kept whining, tripping over things, fainting, making uninformed decisions and brushing off her human friends in order to be with the vampire Edward. All other characters both mortal and immortal hovered around Bella adoringly, but I don’t know why. She was just a zero with strongly suicidal impulses who defined herself solely in relation to Edward.

As for Edward, he was constantly described as a paragon of physical beauty who was good at everything he did, from schoolwork to sports to music, but he didn’t have much personality. Despite Bella’s insistence on his charisma, goodness and gentleness, however, he was severely lacking in redeeming qualities. Moody, unpredictable, domineering, condescending and supercilious, Edward constantly laughed at Bella, teased her for her weakness and spouted sexist, macho assumptions that he should take care of her by dictating her every movement. Never has such a supposedly perfect exterior concealed such an amazing black hole of character development.

Because Twilight so clearly follows the lineaments of a modern romance novel, as I read, I constantly compared Twilight to Warrior’s Woman by Johanna Lindsey, one of my favorite books that I love to hate. It’s a romance novel about a police officer from a liberated egalitarian society who crashes on a planet full of hierarchical hunters whose society subjugates and controls women. She meets “dominant maleness personified” [that’s a quote from the book], and they spend most of the book torturing each other physically and psychologically until they finally admit that they really enjoy this sadomasochistic lust. In a very general sense, then, Warrior’s Woman provides the template for Twilight’s plot, in which a woman feels a burning attraction for “dominant maleness personified” and, after fighting internally, finally admits that she likes being possessed and objectified.

Warrior’s Woman differs from Twilight, however, by making this plot actually work. No matter how much the characters piss me off with their sexist assumptions, they always remain psychologically consistent and therefore believable. Most importantly for me, Tedra in Warrior’s Woman relishes the attention from Challen, no matter how torturous it seems. She looks cheerfully forward to reaming him out and to him punishing her; therefore the entire story is basically her telling her inner feminist objections to shut up so she can be happily dominated. Whether you agree with Tedra’s mindset or not, Lindsey takes pains to show the reader that Tedra and Challen both enjoy his dominance, her submission and their adversarial relationship. They eventually agree that they prefer their kinky master/uppity slave relationship, and they accept it.

Frank from RHPS would like to remind you, “Don’t judge a book by its coverrrrrrrrrr!”

By contrast, the domination/submission plot in Twilight never really works because Meyer never convinces the readers that Bella consents to this type of relationship with Edward. Bella is an independent, assertive character, at least in the beginning; she chooses to move by herself from Arizona to Washington to live with her dad. She toughs it out at a new school and takes over kitchen duty from her dad, all actions that suggest a person with grit, stubbornness and a need to control her life and the lives of those around her. She’s used to caring for other people, and she gives no indication that she wishes for someone to be “dominant maleness personified” for her.

So, initially, Bella has no interest in or predisposition toward a submissive role. All of this flies out the window, however, when she hooks up with Edward, who rescues her, physically overpowers her, tells her what to do and otherwise keeps forcing her into the submissive position. Her great lust for him short-circuits her assertiveness, but she always feels uncomfortable when her dominates her. For example, all throughout the book, Bella makes it clear to everyone in earshot that she doesn’t want to go to the prom. Naturally, because he’s some sort of second-guessing, mind-fucking idiot, Edward surprises her by dragging her to the prom at the end of the book [p. 484]:

My face and neck flushed crimson with anger. I could feel the rage-induced tears starting to fill my eyes. … “You’re taking me to THE PROM!” I yelled.

It was embarrassingly obvious now. If I’d been paying attention at all, I’m sure I would have noticed the date on the posters that decorated the school buildings. But I’d never dreamed he was thinking of subjecting me to this. Didn’t he know me at all?

…He pressed his lips together and his eyes narrowed. “Don’t be difficult, Bella.”

…”Why are you doing this to me?” I demanded in horror.

…I was mortified…

I’d guessed there was some kind of occasion brewing. But PROM! That was the furthest thing from my mind.

The angry tears rolled over my cheeks…

If you pay attention to the bolded phrases, you’ll notice that Bella does not want to go. She is furious at Edward because his assumptions about her prove how little he actually knows her desires. She also feels terrified because she is being forced to do something that she obviously doesn’t want to. Edward beats her down by beguiling her with the Captivating Vampire Eyes of Magical Hypnotism, but that doesn’t erase the fact that Bella was absolutely panicked. This sort of thing happens throughout the book — Bella says she doesn’t want to do something, but Edward forces her into it anyway — but never so disturbingly as in this passage. Bella’s long-standing objection to prom, her terror when she realizes that she’s being taken, even her framing of the event — something she is “subjected” to — suggests a violation and deep betrayal akin to rape. This is why Twilight’s plot of humiliation and submission doesn’t work. We have no indication that Bella accepts the role placed upon her. In fact, she vehemently rejects it, but, for some reason, Meyer thinks it’s romantic to violate and betray her heroine over and over again.

Guilting you into expensive vacations: An ad for Orlando, FL attractions

Guilting you into expensive vacations: An ad for Orlando, FL attractions published on 2 Comments on Guilting you into expensive vacations: An ad for Orlando, FL attractions

So I was flipping through the “Orlando Official Vacation Guide 2008,” a glossy publication of the Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Most of the pages cover conspicuous consumption, such as resorts, golf and shopping, although there are 6 pages about “Heritage,” including a pitch for the Orange County Regional History Center, which tells the “story of Orlando — from the Seminole Indians to Mickey Mouse — through interactive exhibits.”

Anyway, the “Attractions” section is fronted by a two-page spread that tries to guilt readers into consuming said attractions. I’ve scanned the pages below because I’m most interested in the way that the ad copy defines childhood, the supposed “problems” of childhood and “Attractions” as the cure.

As we know, every good story — and every good ad — starts with a problem. If a problem doesn’t truly exist, the ad must make you think there’s one. That’s why this ad spells it out in the very first sentences: “Childhood is fleeting. Our kids are more grown-up then we ever imagined being at their age.” The ad sympathizes with parents, who look at their children from a befuddled distance. The ad assumes that the experiences of today’s supposedly mature kids are literally outside the scope of the clueless parents’ imaginations.

Not only clueless, the implied parental readers of the ad are also powerless. “You wish you could tell them not to be in such a rush,” the ad goes on, “…but then you would just sound like a parent.” The unstated message is that you don’t want to sound like a nagging, bossy, know-it-all parent, do ya? DO YOU? The ad bullies you into not communicating with your kids, which makes its portrayal of a generation gap more problematic. If the ad suggests that you should refrain from talking to your kids, as a result, your kids will seem perplexing and distant. They might seem beyond your imagination. In other words, the very problem the ad describes — kids being foreign and supposedly mature and distant to parents — occurs due to the ad’s exhortation that you not sound like a sanctimonious parent. In other words, the ad is creating the aforementioned problem AS YOU READ IT. It’s rather sinister. It seems as if the ad is prescribing how to raise your kids wrong.

The ad goes on to list symptoms of the “grown-up kid” syndrome. “Teens” are attached to “the video-game controller,” that is, plugged in and pacified by electronic media. “Tweens” are “hard-to-impress.” Already their young hearts have been jaded and toughened. 

Fortunately, the ad has just the prescription for shocking your kids out of their stupefaction. With the attractions available in Orlando, your kids can “ride their own rollercoaster” or go on “spine-tingling thrill rides.” That ought to shake ’em up.

But the biggest benefit of all, the ad promises, is that the attractions allow you to “reconnect” with your family. In fact, it is “easy” to do so at these attractions because “you’ll be the coolest parent ever for bringing them to this amazing place.” Instead of a maturer, older, wiser presence who provides loving guidance and discipline tempered with the wisdom of increased years, you, the parents/readers, are going to be “the coolest!” The attractions will “take you to the edge of your own childhood” so that parents and children can be equals in their glee. Attractions erase the vast differences in power, knowledge and experience between parents and children, and, so claims the ad, that’s awesome! With everyone running around like kids, the kids come out of their jaded shells, and the parents finally have some fun, and everyone’s happy. Right?!

I find this conception of family bonding through enforced regression problematic, to say the least. If your kids seem distant and preoccupied, sucked into electronic media, it is probably not the best idea to drag them off to a multimedia consumption fest. Here’s a novel concept — maybe you should try talking to them, even though you’ll probably come across as a dorky, uncool parent. I do believe, however, that children do not really benefit from hip, with-it parents who are just one of the gang. I mean, we have to treat our kids with respect, not talking down to them, addressing them as intelligent beings, but we can neither deny nor forget the power differential. We are older; we have more experience and knowledge. Though our children challenge your authority and, of course, have experiences that we will never have, they do depend on us for love, guidance and support. Often that love and guidance manifests itself as sternness, rules, restrictions, sacrifices and words that “make you sound just like a parent.” I do not have a problem with purely hedonistic vacations and rewards as such, but I do find this ad’s insistence on good parenting = consumption orgy = acting like a kid highly suspect.

Likely flashbacks for LHF establishment

Likely flashbacks for LHF establishment published on 2 Comments on Likely flashbacks for LHF establishment

 suggested on the LHF site that I redo some of the 9 seasons of LHF that I did with dolls in order to re-establish the characters’ back stories in this reboot of LHF. The mere thought of redoing those tons of stories fills me with exhaustion, but I think judicious use of flashbacks could help. Following is a list of things that I’d like to flash back to:


Will, cohabitating with Mark, has writer’s block and a singularly crass view of his vampiric existence.

Anneka and Will’s first conversation goes from death to sex. I’ve also always found it highly interesting, essential and problematic that date rape initiates their relationship.




In the plotline that eventually leads to Anneka’s demise, Dom hates Will with the envious hatred that only a loser can muster. Unfortunately, his friend Caveat dies in the fallout from their vendetta, a fact that I have always regretted.

Dom, continuing to be a douchebag, decides that vengeance is the answer to his grief over Caveat’s death.


Anneka and Will, on the outs, run into each other in Chinatown. Dom interrupts their friendly fire. Will delivers the smack-down on Dom. The douchebag kills Anneka. Will intercepts.


Baozha finds the Season 4 Pieta. Chow watches over Anneka’s resurrection and makes sure Will doesn’t do unseemly things to her body.


Pippilotta’s mini-arc in eps 6.3, 6.4 and 6.5 gives her a lot more depth, explains some of her motivations and makes her a good foil for Anneka. [I can’t believe I just said “mini-arc.”]


Will asks Mark if Mark thinks that Will is gay. Lots of bons mots from Mark. NB: It is probably not a good idea, if you are a guy, to ask your male ex-boyfriend if said ex thinks you are gay. Later, Will is pissed that everyone thinks he’s gay.


The familial melodrama between Janet, Velvette and Viktor [and, tangentially, Sibley] carries this season in 8.1 [hello, Viktor!], 8.3 [wow, Janet has a personality!], 8.8 [love Janet’s door!], 8.9 [zotz to head, Janet!] and 8.10 [watch out, Sibley!]. It explains how Velvette wound up taking care of Janet and how Viktor wound up with Sibley.

Shot for a broken leg: Why horses don’t do well with injured limbs

Shot for a broken leg: Why horses don’t do well with injured limbs published on 2 Comments on Shot for a broken leg: Why horses don’t do well with injured limbs

Eight Belles, second-place finisher at this year’s Kentucky Derby, fell down with two ankle fractures after the race. She was then killed. A resuscitated Slate article, discussing another racehorse killed for having a broken leg, explains why horses with broken legs are frequently killed by their owners. Basically, there are several risk factors for a horse with a broken leg.

1. Little blood circulation below the knee of equine legs means that a break could disturb the blood connection between the broken part and the rest of the horse’s body, depriving the broken part of full immune responses and thus making it more likely to become infected.

2. Post-injury antibiotics are a tricky business. Too few, and the horse won’t feel the effect. Too many, and the horse gets life-threatening shits or ulcers.

3. An injured horse may favor its healthy legs, thus causing laminitis, in which the hooves separate from the bones and the horse walks on the soft flesh of its feet. Ow. To get the full impact of this disease, remember that a horse’s hooves are basically highly adapted toes. Their hooves are basically their toenails which, over the years, have developed into protective caps for the ends of their feet so that their feet can bear punishing weight and shifts in position. Laminitis means that the horse’s protective caps are coming off, which leaves the horse in the equivalent position of a human being doing ballet en pointe in bare feet without toenails. Yuck.

4. In a reason that is most fascinating to me, a horse will rarely heal from a broken leg because it will just not stay still enough to allow the bone to set. Damn fidgety equines!

The execution of broken-legged horses underscores the harsh reality of horse design and the brutal nature of racing horses. It also makes me wonder how broken legs would affect centaurs??

LHF 1.1: Anneka and Will are so in love …not!

LHF 1.1: Anneka and Will are so in love …not! published on No Comments on LHF 1.1: Anneka and Will are so in love …not!

And LHF is live! Or dead! Or undead. Anyway, the first ep is up, in which Anneka and Will are getting along swimmingly. HAR! Go see. Leave a comment on the site. Remember, you can follow the LHF feed at .

LHF launches tomorrow!

LHF launches tomorrow! published on No Comments on LHF launches tomorrow!

For a ton of just-added character sketches, please visit the cast page to link to them all. Each sketch contains a mini cartoon to enliven the dull biographical details. I made too many to count, so just head over and flip through them. Then leave a comment. I fixed it so that you can leave comments now.

 is now on my list of known readers, which also includes damsel_ophelia, dollsahoy, batchix, freak42 and stevie_stever! That makes 6. Hooray!

Remember — you can add LHF to your friends list by following its feed here:

I started off with 12 subscribers [from a previous iteration of LHF], and now I’m up to 15. Perhaps some of my known readers are subscribing…


 gave me a friendly shout-out in her blog today, in which she admits, “I’m fairly excited to see what new stories she’ll be telling.” I’m excited too!

You can now leave me comments on LHF!

You can now leave me comments on LHF! published on No Comments on You can now leave me comments on LHF!

Now you can leave comments on my comics! Go to to find and comment on the latest eps.

Remember — you can also add LHF to your LJ feeds so it appears conveniently on your friends list:

Two cast members, one post: Minerva and Leonora

Two cast members, one post: Minerva and Leonora published on 2 Comments on Two cast members, one post: Minerva and Leonora

Minerva Artemisia Freshkill Richardson is a mortal.

She is Anneka’s paternal grandmother. She was born in 1921. She is now 87.

Minerva lives in Burlington, Vermont. In her prime, she was a teacher of classics at the Endless Lake Boarding School. She was also an author of coffee table books and an environmental activist.

In her prime, Minerva’s strengths were her indefatigable energy and quick mind. Her weaknesses were her obliviousness to others’ feelings and her impetuosity.


Leonora Ashby Cox was a mortal. She was Will’s mother. She was born in 1844 and died in 1900.

Leonora lived in West Somerville, Massachusetts with her husband Will Sr. and her son Will. She was an author of fairy tales.

Leonora’s strengths were her imaginative storytelling and her devotion to her son. Her weaknesses were her imaginative storytelling and her devotion to her son.


Oh God, it’s so beautiful!

Oh God, it’s so beautiful! published on No Comments on Oh God, it’s so beautiful!

Stayin’ Alive for H3 is a beautiful digital outfit. I try not to buy clothes for my digital people any more, but I think I’m going to cave because this is EXACTLY Will’s style. There are also disco ball and disco floor props. Whhhaaaa hooooo!

Notes to self re LHF publicity

Notes to self re LHF publicity published on No Comments on Notes to self re LHF publicity

Awwww yeah, I have 5 readers now: damsel_ophelia, dollsahoy, batchix, freak42 and stevie_stever!

And, just so I don’t lose it, here’s my open ticket requesting an update to the LJ feed for LHF.

LHF cast: Velvette

LHF cast: Velvette published on 1 Comment on LHF cast: Velvette

Velvette Crush is a mortal.

She is Will’s “fag hag,” in his words. She was born in 1982. She is now 26.

Velvette lives in Porter Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts with her half-sister Janet. She is a fashion designer and fetishwear model. However, she would rather be writing depressing songs and accompanying them on her guitar.

Velvette’s strengths include her sweet temper and her outrageous sense of style. Her weaknesses include her general melancholy and her lack of self-confidence.


LHF cast: Mark

LHF cast: Mark published on 1 Comment on LHF cast: Mark

Mark Berringer is a vampire.

He is Will’s ex and Anneka’s employer. He was born in 1937 and vamped at the age of 43. He is now 71. He is affiliated with the South Enders.

Mark lives in the South End, Boston, Massachusetts. He is the proprietor of La Bibliotheque Souterraine. However, he would rather be organizing his coin collection or gardening.

Mark’s strengths include his vast knowledge of vampire culture and his sympathetic ear. His weaknesses include his barely suppressed desire for Will and the fact that he is a huge push-over.


“You have to be GAY for that poor dead boy and bring him into the light.”

“You have to be GAY for that poor dead boy and bring him into the light.” published on 2 Comments on “You have to be GAY for that poor dead boy and bring him into the light.”

I am so pissed at the latest ep of my favorite currently running show, Supernatural. It takes a set-up with meta-humorous possibilities and flushes it down the toilet with a send-off of homophobic cliches. The conceit is that a team of amateur doofuses, the Ghostfacers, wish to film a reality show of their investigation of a haunted house. Their investigation becomes serious when an actual murderous ghost shows up. Fortunately, Sam and Dean arrive to save the doofuses and dispatch the ghost. You can find details at Television Without Pity’s blow-by-blow summary. I’d like to concentrate on the goddamned stupid fucking homophobia.

One member of the Doofus Brigade, Corbett, has a crush on another member, whose name I forget, so I will call him Blond Guy. I have no problem with Corbett’s stereotypical infatuated actions [smirking, complimenting, lingering glances] in the early part of the ep, nor with the rest of the Brigade’s discomfort with Corbett’s interest in Blond Guy. But that’s about the only part of the ep I don’t have a problem with.

Troubles begin when the murderous ghost takes Corbett hostage. Ghost also takes Sam hostage, but only kills Corbett. Corbett then appears in an endless replay of his death, which can only be resolved by the Blond Doofus snapping Corbett out of it and making him realize he’s dead. The Other Doofus Guy urges Blond Guy to be “gay for that poor dead boy and send him into the light” [or something like that]. Other Doofus insists that Blond Guy is the only one “brave enough” to do so. Blond Guy then bullshits to Corbett about how much Corbett meant to him. Corbett realizes that he is dead. Touched by the Blond Doofus’ admission of feelings for him, Corbett saves his friends by attacking the murderous ghost. Both the murderous ghost and Corbett dissolve and go to hell. One of the doofuses closes the reality show ep by remarking that he’s learning that “gay love can pierce through the wall of death and save the day.”

In the wake of this ep, this is what I have learned:

1. Gay guys are simpering, pathetically enamored, wibbly, weak individuals. They have little composure, little gumption, little bravery, little self-restraint and little strength.

2. They are also expendable.

3. In fact, in the overall calculus of horror movies, if you line up a bunch of innocent nubile female heterosexual virgins next to a gay guy, the gay guy is going to get it because he is more vulnerable. This ep proved that indirectly by putting both a gay guy and a nubile young woman on the Doofus Brigade and then making sure that the only one who bit it was the gay guy.

4. Homosexuality is more horrifying than murderous spirits. Notice how the only circumstances in which bravery is explicitly invoked are the ones where Blond Guy is encouraged to “be gay for” Corbett’s dead and tortured soul. So apparently you don’t have to be brave to enter a haunted house or to search for your kidnapped friend or to confront a murderous ghost; such challenges are nothing compared to the excruciating torture of a straight guy admitting to another guy that he cares for him.

5. Homosexuality is such a threat that it must be completely killed, then silenced, effectively erased. Corbett dies once by the hand of the murderous ghost, but it’s not enough that he’s the only Doofus Brigadeer who croaks. No, he has to go further and become the Saintly, Self-Sacrificing, Repressed, Unfulfilled Character when he saves his friends by attacking the murderous ghost. So, not only does Corbett die, but he also completely destroys his soul in defending his friends. I don’t care what his motives were because the fact remains that he meets the same end as the murderous ghost. In the show’s calculus, the murderous ghost was a murderous pervert, so he deserved to die. By the same logic, because he met the exact same end, Corbett must have deserved to die as well. But what did he do to merit death? Answer: He was gay. 

So not only was Corbett killed and his soul destroyed, but then, at the very end of the ep, Dean and Sam erase the ep covering the Doofus Brigade’s adventures so that no one will know the circumstances of Corbett’s death. Dean and Sam remark that, with this destruction of evidence, “no one will ever know the truth” about the Ghostfacers. Well, no one will ever know the truth about Corbett either. He died once by the ghost’s hands, a second time by sacrificing himself and then a third time in the erasure of the video footage that told his story. By implication, homosexuality is as pernicious as the evil spirits that Dean and Sam eradicate, and those who practice it must be killed, then killed some more and killed again. Truly, this is the most disturbing aspect of the ep, reminding me of those medieval punishments of hanging, drawing and quartering. Of course, being hung, then drawn, then quartered, is overkill because the dead person is already dead after the hanging, but you still need the drawing and the quartering to really punish the remains for the extra heinous crime. Corbett’s self-sacrifice and the erasure of the tapes function as his drawing and quartering, excessive, spectacular violence heaped upon his already dead self just to reinforce how bad his crime of homosexuality was.

Ghostfacers ends up illustrating how silence can kill. It’s pretty obvious to me that the Doofus Brigade killed Corbett with their own stupid homophobia. They allude to this fact at the end of the ep when they say that they have learned something about themselves, but they remain oblivious to the sinister extent of their viciousness. They didn’t just fear Corbett; they drove him away and, in some sense, killed him THREE TIMES with the force of their revulsion. I find that deeply disturbing, truly horrific and very unsettling that the ep doesn’t even realize its true source of horror. Instead, we’re meant to approve of Corbett’s self-sacrifice and Dean and Sam’s erasure of the Doofus Brigade’s tapes. We’re supposed to laugh and ignore the venomous hate seething at the core of this ep.

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