Monday, January 25, 2010

The Why of the Hate

Twilight is a worldwide phenomenon.

And I hate it.

A lot of people ask me why I hate Twilight so much. Why, when I love P. N. Elrod's The Vampire files, Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and stupid 80's B-movies like "My Best Friend is a Vampire" and "Vampires Anonymous"*, did I spew so much bile over the vampire "masterpiece" that is Twilight.

Well, I'll tell you. It's BECAUSE I love P. N. Elrod's The Vampire Files, Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and stupid 80's B-movies like "My Best Friend is a Vampire" and "Vampires Anonymous".

I hate Twilight because I know so well what good vampire stories are like, and they are NOT Twilight.

Vampires have fangs. Vampires can be killed embarrassingly easily, and so have to make up for it by being crafty and charming. Vampires walk a thin line between human and beast. Vampires crave blood. Vampires personify humanity's darker impulses for sex, violence and dominance. Vampires, in short, ARE FUCKING MONSTERS!

And Meyer has done nothing less than castrate the vampires in Twilight. Oh, sure her "evil" vampires like James are still pretty beastly,** but in a tired, animalistic way. The true terror of the vampire doesn't lie in its monster side, but in its human side. The perversion of the familiar and the safe, of the charming and romantic. This is the essence of the modern vampire: a creature of guile and deception which, and this is crucial, DOES. NOT. SPARKLE!

But Meyer misses the point! Her "vampires" are basically angsty X-Man villains (not like Magneto, more like Stiltman). They're bland and pretty and utterly empty. And, you know, that's not necessarily a bad thing if you work it properly, but then you would be Scott Westerfeld and the book you'd be writing wouldn't be Twilight, it'd be Uglies. This? Is not Uglies.

But the biggest crime, the number one reason why I hate Twilight with the burning hot intensity of 1,000 suns, is because it isn't bad.

That is, it isn't always bad. There are genuine glimpses of real talent, of wit and charm, of actual characterization. The scene where Bella's father gives her the truck is actually a personal favorite. It's beautifully staged, perfectly executed and fun to read. But it and scenes like it are few and far between. I get this painful feeling like Meyer started out wanting to write a proper story, but decided revision was too much work and settled for her rough draft. And the rest of the world settled right along with her. I'm mad that she has such potential and she didn't even try to reach it.

Her characters are flat and lifeless, okay. They're almost completely static, undergoing no personal journeys and learning NOTHING. Okay. I'm fine with that. Let this book suck in an ordinary way, and we can forget the whole thing and move on.

What kills me is that they didn't HAVE to suck! If she had just tried even a little, they could have been great. But being inside of Bella Swan's head is like having a root canal that never ends. She's melodramatic, melancholy, self-obsessed and deluded to a point even teenagers rarely reach. There's nothing about her to relate to. She actually pushes the reader away, something I didn't think possible. Her endless whining and obsessing. If I wanted to read a neurotic, emo-girl's diary I'd surf LiveJournal.

Edward is worthless as a love interest. Aside from being a psychologically twisted, emotionally abusive pedophile...he's boring. I literally have nothing else to say about him because he has no character to speak of! He's empty!

Jacob is lack-luster and awkward, moreso than his age requires. Charlie is virtually non-existant (I consider him the most heinous example of wasted potential in the whole book), and Edward's family are...well they're set pieces, basically.

And yet Meyer's books are treated like legitimate literature. It actually hurts me to see people championing Twilight like it's the next Harry fucking Potter, and knowing that the majority of the reading population is willing to settle for mediocre rather than demand excellence.

What I can't understand is why good YA authors, even great YA authors like John Green love Twilight so much. I mean, Meyer's tripe and books like An Abundance of Katherines are lightyears apart. They shouldn't even be on the same shelf!

And that, readers, is why I hate Twilight.



*Yes, I know "Vampires Anonymous" was done in the 90's. Stay focused, people.

**I did read the book. That's why I'm so full of hate. I know that of which I speak.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bully to You

So tonight after I got home from buying some fish (YAY FISHIES!) I watched The Pit Boss on Animal Planet. I gotta say, I like it.

But it did bring up some shit that drives me up the wall, and that's the surge of hate out there directed against pit bulls.

Pit bulls are far and away my all-time favorite large breed dog. One of the most endearing things about Kilo is how his forehead mysteriously looks pit bull-ish, even though he hasn't got a drop of pit in him. One of my regular customers at work has a pit he brings by every now and then and she is the biggest dork and the biggest sweetheart I've ever met, and I've known a lot of sweet, dorky dogs. Hey, I live with one.

My beloved memoirist Jen Lancaster has a pit named Masie, who is also a dorky sweetheart. In fact, my whole animal-strewn life I have never met a single aggressive or antisocial pit bull. I have been bitten once. It was by a lab/setter mix named Roxie or Rocket or something, and that was 'cause I was trying to take her toy away while she was playing with it. But I digress.

The fact is, a dog's breed has nothing to do with it's behavior. The meanest, most aggressive dog I ever met was a 9 pound Pomeranian/chihuahua mix named Benji. I hated that dog. The sweetest dog I ever met? Probably my poor, sweet Maddie before she died. She weighed 70 pounds and was half German Shepherd. The big dork downstairs is probably a close second. He weighs 85 pounds and is a Neapolitan Mastiff/Yellow Lab mix. And right now we're deciding whether we want to adopt a 50 pound English Bulldog/Pit Bull mix. Yep, I'm on the verge of my very first pit bull ownership experience!

So what are pits really like? Well, they're hyper. Bullies have a lot of energy. They're loyal. See, pits used to be the most popular family dog in the country, because they were bred to have loyal, devoted attitudes toward their owners. A bully will do just about anything to make his or her owner smile. They're affectionate. A bully hates to be ignored, and will climb on your lap so you make with the cuddles now. They love to lick hands, faces, whatever they can reach. Their tails never take a holiday (I walked this red pit bull at my sister's local shelter, I swear he didn't stop wagging once the entire time I was with him). They're smart. Bullies are quick to learn new tricks, and even quicker to figure out ways to trick you out of a cookie. They're gentle. Bullies used to be famed for their tender interactions with children, and when the American Canine Temperament Testing Association tested pit bulls, 88% of the dogs tested passed. To give you some perspective, the Golden Retriever scored 84.6%, and the Bearded Collie? Only 53.3%. Source for all that information right over here.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, which is the pit bull's proper name, get's a bad rap, and they're not the only ones. Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Mastiffs and other powerful large breed dogs have the same stereotype. And because of it, loving, gentle dogs are left for dead in kill shelters because of a criminal element, bad press, and a bad name.

So, yeah. I'm going to have a pit bull some day. A pure breed, which isn't hard because the shelters are swimming with them. And it's gonna get me dirty looks, and threats from my neighbors, and it will probably lose me the security deposit on whatever apartment I move into. I'll have a hard time getting homeowner's insurance, I'll be interrogated by people who see me walk my dog, and it'll be worth it. Because I'll have saved an innocent dog from death, and I'll use all of these conflicts as opportunities to spread the word about how wonderful pit bulls actually are.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oh the Oddness of Me

I have this...habit. Sort of a quirk. Ganesh alone knows where it started. I talk to books.

But I don't just talk to them, I ascribe personalities to them. I refer to them by their author's first name. For instance, say I'm reading the latest Dresden Files novel, and I'm keeping it close at hand while I do something else. Let's say I'm sitting on my bed, and as I shift from one position to another (probably because my foot fell asleep while I was messing around with my laptop), the book slides off the bed to land with a thunk in the space between my bedframe and the wall.

My standard response to this situation is to roll my eyes, give a disgusted snort, and hiss "Dammit, Jim!"

For those of you who don't know, the author of The Dresden Files is Jim Butcher.

And yet, for some books, this simply doesn't work. For those, for some arbitrary reason, I refer to them by their protagonist's first name. Like, were I to reread the Uglies trilogy, and I'd misplaced the book somewhere, you're very likely to find me wandering through the house calling out: "Tally! Tally? Where are you?" (Unless I'm reading the fourth supplemental novel, in which case the name I use is "Aya".)

The scary part? I think I almost half expect the book to respond with a slightly dusty-sounding "Here I am! You left me on the counter by the bathroom sink!"

You'd think the protagonist vs. author thing would be if the protagonist was one gender, and the author another. But that's not the case because I refer to my newest Border's purchase, Graceling, as Katsa even though the author's name is Kristin Cashore (btw? GO READ GRACELING! FR SRS!) I think maybe it has to do with a few factors, like how strong the protagonist's perspective is. Sometimes the main character infuses every aspect of the novel. Other times, it may have to do with how connected I feel to the author. I've read every single Discworld novel ever published, and a few of Sir Terry Pratchett's other works. I read about him and watch his interviews online, and I own The Hogfather on DVD. So I call all of his books "Terry". Likewise, I've been a member of Jim Butcher's fan forums and even talked to him personally online. So all of his books are Jim. Phillip K. Dick is a huge part of the sci-fi universe, and therefore an intrinsic part of my life, so his books are all "Phil or Phillip". And being a Nerdfighter, I feel incredibly close to John Green, so all of his books are "John".

But even then, sometimes the main character trumps the author. And it's still weird, talking to books like they can understand me. But I like the way it makes me feel connected to something wonderful. Especially right now, when I have Azar Nafisi's memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran sitting beside me. It's probably my favorite book, and I get this warm feeling whenever I pick it up and murmur, "Let's go, Azar", and for a moment it feels like this wonderful, inspiring woman is walking beside me wherever I go.

Y'know, it kinda feels like an incredibly lonely, and at the same time remarkably connected mentality. I'm alone enough that I feel comfortable talking to inanimate objects, and yet as long as I have them, I'm never truly alone. Odd.

I wonder if it'll still be possible to feel that connection when physical books are rendered obsolete by things like the Kindle. I'll miss them when they're gone.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Growing Restless

So...I have this idea. It's a stupid, crazy idea, but it is an idea.

And it won't go away.

Here's my life:

I have 1 dog.

I have 1 brand new nephew.

I have 1 metric butt-ton of classes I still need to take to get my associate's degree...and then I need to figure out how to pay for my bachelor's at a real school.

I have a job that I hate.

I have no idea what I want to do once I'm out of college, nor what skills I have to offer to potential employers.

I make about $130 per week after taxes.

I am stuck in a rut.


Here's the idea: I want to just forget about all of that, the dog the nephew the job the classes the fact that I'm POOR, all of it. And I want to get on a bus and go...somewhere. I just want to pack up the most important things I own, get on a bus, and go.

Hey, I did say it was a stupid idea. Thing is, it won't go away. I want to go to Portland, OR (except the job market apparently SUCKS), but mostly I want to go to Victoria, BC (that's in Canada, for the self-centered Americans among us). Point is, I just want to go. I want to make a bee-line for the horizon and not look back. I want a fresh start, I want to be on my own, away from all the homey touches around here that make me feel like a child. And the more frustrated I get with my crappy job, and the more depressed I get with how much more I need to do for college, and the more my newest family member makes me feel tied securely to my home town, the more this insane get up and go idea appeals to me. I want independence. I want the chance to grow up, by force if necessary. I'm 20. I want to feel 20, not 15 (which is the oldest I can manage to feel these days).

I want to get away from my family, my friends, from everything familiar. I'm starting to feel smothered by it all. And I can't get it out of my head. I want out!

I feel like I'm suffocating.

Halp.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bianco is sick.

I changed his water, and it seems to have helped.

God I hope he pulls through.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bianco Got His Groove

Coolest thing about my fishy? He always swims to the front of the tank when I sit at my desk. Then when I leave, he swims back to his plastic plant, where he likes to chillax.

He was having some stomach problems when he first came home, but they seem to have cleared up for the most part. I've figured out that he prefers two pellets to three, and a bloodworm dessert. I think he has a hard time getting down the third pellet, and they are kinda big for his little mouth.

It's fun to feed him one pellet at a time. He hangs around the surface, biting the bubbles, until I drop his next morsel. He plays with his pellets a bit, but he inhales bloodworms like a little scaly vacuum.

Mom just got a beta of her own. I think she's calling him Larry, which is weird. He's stunning with these blue-ish color-shifting scales.

Bianco is such a good fishy! I kinda hate that I can't feed him tomorrow, but it's best to let Bettas fast for a day so their digestive systems can recover and even out. But he gets foods again on Sunday!

Oh, and I get to spend Monday and Tuesday with my boyfriend, which is also cool.

As long as I can get home in time to feed my fish.

LadyG: Getting her priorities straight since 1993!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Introduczione!


Everyone, this is Bianco:


He's kinda hard to see, but he's in the top left of the picture. My mom's digital camera is made of suck and won't take a non-blurry picture to save it's life, so I had to use Hugh's onboard camera, hence the weird angle.

Bianco is a male pastel opaque veiltail betta. And he's GORGEOUS! Right now he's living in an aquaview 360 2 gallon tank, but I'm going to upgrade him to a 5 gallon as soon as I have the money. He eats betta pellets (reluctantly) but only, apparently, if he get's a freeze-dried bloodworm chaser. I'm thinking of switching his diet to flakes. Or maybe switching brands.

Right now he has a plastic plant with no sharp edges, but as soon as his aquarium regulates and starts to grow some nice, healthy bacteria (yes, bacteria in a fish tank is a good thing. For the most part) I'm getting him a live plant. That white smudge in the back is a Greek ruin. I think it's a doorway. Anyway, that's why I refer to his new tank as his Loft Apartment in Athens. ^.^

So, yeah, I've been bitten by the fish bug. I love keeping fish. It's like The SIMS only eleven billionty times more rewarding. I hope to get a pleco for the 5 gallon, because they usually get along with betas as long as there's plenty of algae to munch on. Then I want to take Bianco's current tank and put a couple of Tetras or Danios in it. For now, though, I'll settle for a new surge bar so I have someplace to plug in Bianco's new heater. Grrr! All the technological advances of the past few decades and we still haven't found a way to heat a fishtank without a handy wall socket?!

Bianco is awesome. Ever since I set up his tank, I've been using my laptop at my desk instead of on my bed so I can have him next to me when I type. He always swims to the front of the tank when I sit down, then when I leave he swims around to the back to lounge around in his plant. He kept coming right up to the glass when I was trying to take his picture with the digital camera. I would've gotten some amazing shots if the stupid camera would've cooperated. Ganesh I need one of my own.

Oh, and my boyfriend. He is an idiot. He sent me an e-mail midweek saying he needed to talk to me in person, but we couldn't get together until Sunday, so I spent the rest of the week trying not to convince myself he was going to break up with me. I finally get to see him, and the whole thing was a FALSE ALARM!!! He was just unsure about how "emotionally available" he was, and whether or not I was happy in the relationship. I wanted to punch him in the neck!

GRR! BAD BOYSHAPEDTHING MAKING GIRLSHAPEDTHING WORRY FOR NO REASON!

And then he wondered why I put him in the doghouse. Men.

Okay, that's it. Enough rambling and stupidity. I'm going to glare at the clock until 9 pm when Leverage comes on. Yay, Hardison!

Sigh...and me without any orange soda...