Once Bitten

bitemebooks
Mood: Snarky
Drinking: Tea

It was really only a matter of time before curiosity won out over better judgment and I picked up the Twilight books.

I’m a sucker (heh) for all things vampire. Dracula, Lestat, Angel, even the incredibly boring Bill from those Sookie Stackhouse novels. I’ve loved them all, to varying degrees.

I remember seeing Twilight on the shelves in a bookstore a few years ago, with its fairytale-suggestive cover. I picked it up, read the back jacket copy, and dismissed it as too teenage for my tastes.

But then it became more than a book, it crossed over into phenomenon territory, Harry Potter territory, and my curiosity was piqued.

Speaking of Potter, I put him off for 4 whole books, but was finally coerced into reading by a 10-year-old. With Harry, I was pleasantly surprised. J.K. Rowling created a beautiful, fully-realized world, with actual plots and character development.

Stephenie Meyer, however, created a big pile of crap.

I had trouble settling into reading the first book because Meyer’s writing is so terrible. Really, laughably awful. In fact, I’ve read better fan fiction! And yet, the concept of vampires going to high school was intriguing enough at the beginning that I slogged on through it, pausing here and there to roll my eyes in disbelief at the prose.

A friend recently suggested that of course I finished all 4 books in the series because I, like “everyone else”, fell in love with Edward, the vampire hero, in the first book. Except that I didn’t. How could I? Meyer gives you nothing to fall in love with. He’s a caricature of a 13-year-old’s bedtime fantasy.

And then she goes and mucks about with vampire lore, ridding herself of all garlic, crosses, and coffins to create a whole new vampire legend. And I would be fine with that, if her new vampires weren’t so silly. For example: The reason Meyer’s vampires live in Forks, Washington, under the cloudiest skies in the country is not because, like your usual Whedon or Rice vampire, they will burst into flames in the sunlight. No. Meyer’s vampires, when touched by sun, sparkle.

I will pause so you can guffaw.

Yes, her vampires are so beautiful and glittery, they must hide from the sunlight because their skin is so iridescent, it would dazzle all humans and thereby reveal the vampire secret identity.

I guess I prefer my vampires a little less sparkly. And a little less stalkerish.

I remember being a teenager and dreaming of having a boyfriend who thought I was utterly fascinating, who was entranced by everything about me, who loved to just sit for hours and watch me breathe, who wanted to be with me every moment of every day, no matter what kind of mood I might be in.

It was a pretty little fantasy that quickly hit the wall of reality when I actually got a boyfriend and had to face the fact that I really wasn’t all that fascinating all the time, and that having someone around underfoot every single second of the day would only wipe the bloom off the rose that much faster.

I grew up, I grew out of it, and I came to understand that love was more complicated than I had imagined, but it was better, too.

Meyer apparently never outgrew her fantasy, and she bequeaths her vampire Edward with all the attributes of a perfect teenage dream. He is pretty. He has great hair. He’s mysterious. He’s slightly dangerous. He plays the piano. He’s a vegetarian (he only sucks the blood of animals, not humans). He never sleeps, so he has plenty of time to devote to staring at the object of his inexplicable, immortal ardor: a human girl with brown eyes, brown hair, and average everygirl tendencies, Bella.

Bella is quite possibly the most boring heroine I’ve ever come across. She narrates all four books, and constantly harps on Edward’s perfection and her own comparative inadequacies. It’s the old “why does he love me?” quandary, times ten.

The thing is, Meyer never really answers that question to the reader’s satisfaction. She never gives a good enough reason for why Edward does love Bella, and why then readers should love her, too.

Bella remains a hapless, accident-prone damsel in distress, self-absorbed, co-dependent, utterly obsessive in her fixation on Edward, and yet somehow profoundly boring.

I kept returning to that underlying issue as I read each book. I wasn’t in love with Edward, and I didn’t give a shit about Bella. I’m still not sure how I made it through all 4 books.

There’s also the love triangle with a werewolf (of course).
Pages and pages and pages wasted on that angst-ridden drama, only to resolve it neatly and all-too conveniently in the final book.

Wasted pages an apt description for this entire series of books. Meyer’s writing does improve somewhat — it would have to, as she churned out these 4 books in just 3 years.

But she is not a good writer, by any stretch. You’d hope that she’d make up for it by at least being a good storyteller, but she doesn’t pull that off, either.

For me, one of the most ridiculous storylines in the entire series is this: Bella, who is a virgin (of course), wants to make love to Edward. But he won’t have sex with her because he’s afraid he will hurt her with his vampire super-strength (super penis!). Ok. I can possibly accept that.

But then Meyer, who is a Mormon, takes it to a whole new level of crazy: Edward, who is really about 80 years old, and therefore was a human in a much more genteel time, really doesn’t want to have sex with Bella UNTIL THEY ARE MARRIED.

For real. A vampire with a puritan (or Mormon) moral code. Pardon me while I die laughing.

Overall, Meyer’s overarching plot points, if you can call them that, are much ado about nothing. She’ll blather on and on and on about pointless details, with excruciatingly long conversations between Bella and her two men, Edward and Jacob, and then *bam* throw some sort of dramatic conflict with other, non-vegetarian vampires in toward the very end in order to resolve some half-assed plot points.

In the last book, there’s this big buildup for chapters and chapters to a final battle, and then when you actually get there, the battle just disappears. The vampires talk it out instead.

Gah! Most. Boring. Vampires. Ever.

I just kept thinking, as I plowed my way through this mess, “How in the HELL did she ever get published?” Followed quickly by, “And who the HELL are her editors? They should be fired!” Followed immediately by, “And why the HELL am I reading this garbage?”

Bottom line: Meyer’s books are the most self-indulgent, poorly-written, ridiculously-contrived, juvenile fantasies I’ve ever had the misfortune of reading. Edward groupies can bite me, because no amount of fanatical raving is going to make these books any good.

They say curiousity killed the cat, and all that, but in this case, curiosity killed off more than a few of my brain cells.

Oh, I can’t wait for the movie!

-Lo, twice shy.

The Eyes Can’t Be Trusted

Mood: Sobered up
Drinking: No, thanks

The vampire fangs weren’t the only thing that made him hypnotic.

Something about the way he moved, full of predatory confidence. Something about the way he watched you from across the room, as if you were the most fascinating creature on the dance floor. Something about those fangs.

I was new to the scene when I met him. Just discovering the thrall of the black cotton mafia. I hadn’t done my time with Louis and Lestat yet. But the fangs, they got me. The fangs and his green fishnet shirt. He called it his “Madonna phase” that night. But Madonna never looked that good.

It didn’t hurt that he was a “bad boy” and that I was in my “bad boy” phase. For about 6 months, he was my #1 crush. My pulse took a crash course in speed racing whenever I saw him. I was so enamoured, I even wrote a poem for him, folded it in squares, and slipped it to him on the dance floor between JukeJointJezebel and Queer (the heftybag remix).

But once I got over the lure of those fangs, I realized that somehow, we had made a connection. And somehow that connection turned into a friendship. So that even now, eight years later, I can pick up the phone and call him and there will be a friend on the line.

My friends at the time thought my crush was ridiculous. What did I see in this underage roadie-turned-lead singer who spent more time on his eyeliner than most girls? The guy who had a dentist fit him for prosthetic, pointed canines. The club kid who got high in the boys room. The rockstar wannabe who taped razorblades to his mic stand (and used them on himself). The “freak” who got beat up by frat boys in alleys just because he looked weird. The poster boy for piercings — literally. (His photo was all over the tattoo shop on Belmont so you could look at it and say “I want that kind of hole in my head.”)

But all of that, it’s just what he looked like.

The person he actually was far more shocking.

He’s the guy who held my hand, just sat and held my hand, because he found out I was having a bad day. He’s the guy who took a whole box of my poetry books to show off to his friends. He’s the guy who always has an extra grin and a big huge hug for me, for Boy, and all my friends. He’s the guy who married the gorgeous girl of his dreams one warm night in New Orleans — and then posted giddy photos online. (He’s still married and still giddy about her, too.)

And today I found out that he’s the guy who just spent two days loading food, water, and supplies onto semi trucks headed for New Orleans. Who put together a New Orleans Charity CD to raise money for gas to get the trucks to New Orleans. Who spent the hours after the storm, after his last-minute flight to Louisiana was cancelled, emailing and calling everyone he knew to make sure all his friends in New Orleans were okay, were safe, were alive. Who was frantic with worry for the people and the city he loved.

To those who thought he was nothing more than a freak, a drama queen, an attention whore, a vampire boy, I say — yeah? Well, he’s not the one who sucks.

In the aftermath of a bitch named Katrina, we’re all seeing what really lies beneath. The apathy and amazing arrogance of the man who “leads” this country. The absolute incompetence of the powers that be. The courage of the destitute. The incredible will to survive that beats deep within all of us. And the compassion, the heart, the endless energy of an erstwhile “bad boy” who just wants to do his part. Hell, he wants to do more than his part. I think he’d drag the whole goddamn city to safety if given the chance.

There are so many unbearable stories in the news right now. So much sorrow. So much horror. So much to be ashamed of. But then I think about my friend Jeff. About how well he loves his friends. About how far he’ll go to help them. And it gives me enough hope to make it through tomorrow.

-Lo, who sends this one out, with love, to the Damnits.

Bored Now, not live but in color!

Mood: Deleriously Exhausted
Drinking: Cuppa tea

Breaking News: Cinepoem #2 is up! It’s live and alive and shiny and new and here.

You must go see it. It’s called “Bored Now” and yes, I am a vampire Willow fan. And if you don’t recognize that reference, you never loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (All bow to Joss Whedon, geniusgod.)

A mild warning that Cinepoem #2 is a long one (7-ish minutes), so it might cause complications for you dial-up folks. But well-worth it, in my self-absorbed opinion.

In other cinepoem news, we just finished our 3rd video shoot a couple of hours ago. (We being my beloved S, who has a starring role, and my favorite M & M.) Cinepoem #3 is very different from the other two, but that’s the idea. We’re trying to make them all their own special thing. Anyway, #3 is called “Slow Roast” and it’s set in a diner. So we spent the day eating pancakes and watching me pretend to be a waitress. Buckets of fun. We’ll start editing that one soon, so by the time you’re all bored with “Bored Now” (or by the time your dial-up finally downloads it all), we’ll have a shiny new cinepoem for you.

But that’s getting all ahead of the game. So go check out “Bored Now”.

-Lo, who’s going to go to take a nap now. Showbizness is so exhausting.

P.S. Hey V (a.k.a. “New Friend”)… If you’re reading this, I did get your gorgeous photos and fabulous emails and I shall be writing you back soon. After I am all napped and refreshed and able to type coherent sentences. Promise!

Object

Mood: Restless
Drinking: Not at the moment

Object

secretly,
i want the men
to look at me.
women, too.
but i don’t want to know
when they’re looking.
just tell me when it’s over.

i sneak peeks
at myself
on the sly.
in mirrors,
in windows,
in spoons, even.
i want to see what they see.
myself from the outside.

do i seem tall?
small?
or do they glance over once
and think nothing at all.

are they looking at eyes?
breast size?
or do i remind them of someone
they physically despise.

i wait sometimes
poised on a streetlight corner
hoping for a telepathic driveby.
all my receptors are open.
my eavesdroppers are standing by.
i’ve cranked the volume
to deafening decibels
but i still can’t hear
what they think of me.

at home again,
i let the mirror do her worst.
armed with calipers
and red wax pencil,
i calculate the errors
unflinchingly:
-10 for celluloid thighs
-5 for accusing eyes
+2 for well-designed brows
-6 for an ass that goes “pow!”

i put that high school algebra
to real life use (for once)
and figure in the x-factor.
(where x=the understanding
that objects in the mirror
may be more fucked-up than they appear.)

-9 for unclaimed emotional baggage
-6 for obscure childhood trauma

i take the numbers out for a run.
we work up a sweat
and settle the score.
(it turns out to be a round,
rather voluptuous number.)

but still i cannot get the angle right.
distracted by some trick of light, i
look away from the mirror. and
that’s when it happens.

when my best face is finally forward,
there is no reflection.

-Lo, who thinks vampires take self-portraits to doublecheck their hairdos.