intertribal: (tongue)

Dude: Letting people down is my thing, baby - find yourself a new gig, this town ain't big enough for two of us
I don't have the right name, or the right looks, but I have twice the heart
Dudette: If I spilled my guts, the world would never look at you the same way
And now I'm here to give you all my love... so I can watch your face as I take it all away
Both: I know I'm bad news, I saved it all for you.  I want to teach you a lesson in the worst kind of way -- still, I'd trade all my tomorrows for just one yesterday.

I have no idea what's going on in this video, but I've always loved this song.  When I heard it I immediately associated it with my "super-couple," the one I've been writing about since middle school.  For a while I was going to have their first book be my first book - I had worked exhaustively on the outline, written sizable chunks of the story, was living and breathing the characters - and then earlier this year, I decided I couldn't write their story now.

You see, my "super-couple" have always started off as best friends.*  The exact details of their unconscious coupling has changed over the years.  In the first version (the middle school one), the guy had always had feelings for the girl, and she is eventually convinced after some dangerous encounter to give the relationship a shot.  In the second version (written while I was in college), there was mutual unspoken tension that was never acted on because the girl was afraid of intimacy and the guy was afraid of commitment, and when it finally is acted on, it's when the guy has a girlfriend an ocean away.  In the third version (drafted last year), they start a FWB relationship that emotionally destroys the girl and initiates a cycle of jealousy/revenge/sabotage.  Their relationship has gotten progressively darker each time - I almost wondered if I overdid it with this last version, because the guy is such a selfish asshole and the girl is so pathetic.  Her friends stage interventions repeatedly and they never work.  Anyway, the thought of writing about these two right now is just like "NOPE NOPE," - I am just not in the right emotional state.  I know some writers are all about "spin that angst into writing gold!" but I need writing to function at least a little bit as an emotional escape for me.

So I'm writing the story about Americans studying abroad in Indonesia instead.  It's going well so far.

Other songs I've associated with my super-couple over the years (they have a lot of problems):

  1. "Limp" - Fiona Apple: "You feed the beast I have within me/ You fondle my trigger then you blame my gun."

  2. "Suspension Without Suspense" - No Doubt: "Now that I've/ forced you off, do you hate me?  Do you want revenge?"

  3. "Nothing Better" - Postal Service: "Don't you feed me lines about some idealistic future."

  4. "Push It" - Garbage: "I was angry when I met you.  I think I'm angry still.  We can try to talk it over."

  5. "Paradise Circus" - Massive Attack: "It's unfortunate that when we feel a storm we can roll ourselves over cuz we're uncomfortable."

  6. "Slide" - Goo Goo Dolls: "I wanna wake up where you are, I won't say anything at all."

  7. "Closer" - Nine Inch Nails: "I wanna fuck you like an animal."

  8. "Ways & Means" - Snow Patrol: "Maybe I can do it, if I put my back into it.  I can leave you if I wanted, but there's nowhere else that I can go.  Maybe I won't suffer, if I find a way to love her - I'd be lying to myself, but there's no way out that I can see."

  9. "Drowned World / Substitute for Love" - Madonna: "Traveled round the world, looking for a home, I found myself in crowded rooms, feeling so alone/ Should I wait for you, my substitute for love?"

  10. "Sometimes It Hurts" - Stabbing Westward: "God, I hate myself when I try to get over you."

  11. "Filth Noir" - Zeromancer: "Sometimes you just have to risk it all to get what you want."

  12. "Leif Erikson" - Interpol: "You come here to me, we'll collect those lonely parts and set them down."

  13. "Teardrop" - Massive Attack: "Love is a verb, love is a doing word."

* Same first initials too.  Same last initial as well, on his part.
intertribal: (city)
I watched Norwegian Wood a few months ago (haven't read the book, I know, a thousand suns of shame).  I didn't think that I would ever be in the position of relating to the girl described as "outgoing and lively," but man, I was definitely Team Midori.  Maybe because like Midori, I've been hurt too much in the past and I just want to be happy now.  So Midori is in love with the main character, Toru Watanabe, who is depressed and attached to this suicidal girl Naoko who's off at a resort-sanitarium.  And I have no idea how it is in the book, but in the movie it comes across like he's just kind of like, man, I know Midori likes me, but I don't know what to do about it, so I'm gonna do nothing and just sit here quietly with my dark thoughts, blahrghgh. So there's this part where Midori finally tells him, "I'll wait, because I trust you, but when you take me, take only me"... fuck it, I'll just post it.

I'm reading through the Goodreads quotes from the book and they're a little eerie.  Especially this and this.  And this letter is from here (I guess this is from the book?  It almost made me cry though):

midori toru
intertribal: (peace)

"It just goes to show you, you have to go with your first instinct.  If you were originally thinking A, then go with A.  It's good to know that sometimes your gut is right."

Bonus Nostalgia Songs on a Theme (and One Non-Nostalgia Song):
"Stories" - Trapt
"Letters" - Stroke 9
"Little Talks" - Of Monsters and Men
"All Good Naysayers, Speak Up! Or Forever Hold Your Peace!" - Sufjan Stevens
"Big Talk" - Speakerhedz

* Either MTV's most cynical or most idealistic show yet.

intertribal: (Default)

I promised Lindsey I would write this entry.

I recently decided to re-write a series of books I first wrote in junior high and high school (I wrote one book a year).  They were really quite terrible in too many ways to mention, but I was also a teenager.  I wrote most before I read anything truly good.  I decided this mostly because I think I had some really fun ideas in those books, especially pertaining to politics and religion, which are my favorite subjects, and like I "owed it" to the skeleton of this seven-novel series to not just let it crumble in obscurity (born in lust, turn to dust).  I think I also decided to do this because these characters were people I knew, long-forgotten friends who saw me through my most hormonal, unstable years.  And I missed them.  We've been through a lot together.  I named the series after Walton Ford's "Sensations of an Infant Heart" (this is the only thing I've ever written to Harper's Magazine about - I emailed the woman in charge of the art department and said, "So I have this picture from your magazine of a chained up monkey strangling a parrot and I have no idea who it's by, please help?" and she wrote back, "Oh, it's Walton Ford.  What a picture, amirite?").  I think I knew while writing it that it was juvenile and half-baked and that I wasn't ready for the story I was trying to tell.

I started publishing short stories a couple years after I finished the last book of this series.  I don't feel very much for my short story characters.  This enables me to do to them what I could never have done to these first proto-characters, my Adam and Eve.  It enables me, supposedly, to view them objectively.  There are some that have stayed with me more than others, like Lizbet from "Pugelbone" and the unnamed narrator from "Intertropical Convergence Zone," because they were drawn from places close to me emotionally - Lizbet was drawn from my blood, the army guy from, well, my dad and Suharto and other larger-than-life Indonesian men from my childhood.  But most of them are pawns.  I like to think they're reasonably well-rounded, but it's entirely possible that they read a little cold and distant because of this wall I put up.  I put the wall up for reasons that I thought were good: I was way, way too invested in my proto-characters, it got in the way of the story, and in the end their characterization suffered for it. "Are You Hurting The One You Love," indeed.  I know that Kill Your Darlings refers to words, but after this series I decided to use it with my characters.  These characters' next permutation were still near and dear to me, but much less so.  Because I was also becoming a better writer throughout this whole process, I associated the technique with good writing.

And I think this affected the way I read other books and watched movies/television, too.  I stopped getting emotionally involved with other people's characters.  I had gone through a period where I was very involved in fictional characters - incidentally, at the same time I started writing my overly-emotional series - and I was embarrassed by that side of me.  Sure, there were characters I liked, a lot, like Dale Cooper and Audrey Horne from Twin Peaks and Starbuck and the Agathons from Battlestar Galactica.  I think I only ever fell in love with Billy Budd, of all characters, after the calamity of The Song of Roland (and yes, they all end up dying, always), and maybe a little bit with Yossarian.  It took me a long time to find a female character I genuinely liked, and then I found myself much more sympathetic to a whole host of them: Eleanor Vance from The Haunting of Hill House, the narrator of The Bell-Jar, April from Revolutionary Road, Lily from Run, River.  But for the most part I appreciated these books and movies for other reasons - words or stories or ideas.  A lot of my favorite stuff, like A Sound and the Fury and The Violent Bear It Away and almost everything I've read by Cormac McCarthy, were populated entirely by noxious, terrible people. I wanted to see their worlds collide, I wanted to watch them climb over each other and go up in flames, but there was no visceral attachment.

Then I decided to rewrite this series.  Around then I started watching The Tudors (I know, I know), and I got all invested in the tragic queens.  I've gotten invested in television characters before though - I think it's an effect of spiraling melodrama, it catches you up the way sports catch you up - so that in and of itself was not worth much.  But I did end up writing a story based on Jane Seymour and Anne Boleyn, because they wouldn't get out of my head.  And then when I came back to DC this semester, I started watching that free Netflix series, House of Cards.  And I "met" Peter Russo.

Everyone I know who watches that show - and my sample size is all male, for what it's worth - loves the main character, Francis Underwood, because he's "boss" and callous and cool and is in control of everyone.  I think Francis is evil and horrible and shitty, but I totally fell in love with Peter's character.  I would start episodes being like, "Peter, you'd better not [insert stupid thing here]."  And Peter is a terrible judge of character and an addict, so there's a lot of "Oh Peter Russo no" in the show.  Peter is weak, while Francis is strong.  Peter has big dreams and really deep lows, while Francis is always level-headed, rational, logical, focused on the prize.  At the time I wasn't sure why I loved Peter so much.  I decided later that he reminded me of who my male proto-character was turning into, and man, I always loved/hated that guy - and it recently occurred to me that my proto-character evolved this way because he's like the id version of myself: the volatile, angry and depressive mess driven by resentment and self-hatred.  Starbuck is the female version of this, which is I think why I like her.  And my female prototype, the stoic good girl, is my super-ego side that most people see on a daily basis while I work and study and listen to people's problems.  This is a surprising realization, to say the least (and not one I was at all expecting), but may go along the way toward explaining why I keep writing this duo over and over, until the end of time.

Organizing and planning the rewrite is like a drug to me now (the outline for the first book - thankfully I scaled it down from seven to three).  I do think that the edited/overhauled version has a lot of potential.  I think it reflects how much older I am now - the characters and their relationships and the context they operate in are all vastly changed, having been boiled down to their core and seen for what they really are: damaged people, in many ways, the full extent of which I couldn't quite fathom as a high-schooler.  I also think it picks at a raw nerve in me, and I've always picked at wounds.

I still can't shake the feeling, though, that real writers don't write this way - not the ones that end up living relatively healthy, balanced lives, anyway.  I know that Caddy was Faulkner's heart's darling, but Caddy was barely ever on-page and never heard from directly - which mitigates, I would think, the detrimental effect of an emotional attachment to one's own creation.  Because writing is business, right, it's politics and nothing personal?

intertribal: (hey i heard you like the wild ones)
I've been all about the doomed marriage/suburban collapse stories lately.  I don't really have an explanation other than some sad attempt at self-education.  I read Revolutionary Road this summer, and just finished Run, River by Joan Didion - and need more like them.  The titles do not have to start with Rs.  An older-set, psychedelic variant that has stayed with me: The Sheltering Sky.  I also read The Slap this summer, which is a little different compared to the first two, and in a way the most depressing because the characters were drawn much less sympathetically with the least self-awareness (or so it seemed to me) compared to the first two.  But seriously, I am not one to care about sympathetic characters.

Also, Run, River is so good!  I almost gave up on it while reading the first part but once the story goes back into the past it improves by leaps and bounds.  I think it's really about women operating in society than doomed relationships, although there's plenty of those - Lily is the inept, broken one, whereas Martha is the emotional, normal one.  I think some of the most interesting segments take place when Everett, the repressed and order-obsessed man (Lily's husband/Martha's brother), is out ignoring problems at home and Lily and Martha, who start off disliking each other, are flailing at each other.  At one point Martha tells a guy she meets at a wedding that he is disgusting and she is just as bad as Lily for sleeping with him, and when he asks who Lily is, she replies that Lily is her sister and he isn't fit to say her name.  Lily marries Everett basically because he is the first to ask and she thinks it's what she's supposed to do, and so ends up with a guy she can't actually "talk out loud" to; Martha falls so recklessly in love with Ryder Channing that she's essentially crippled from being able to accomplish anything else.  Then I guess there's Francie.  Francie gets druuuunk.

intertribal: (everything i do i do it big)
... and still living like a 4 dollar vic.

It's been a day of near-misses, travel-wise (almost missed my train back from Bandung to Jakarta, because I left my phone at my "Tante Marjie"'s house... then, thought that I was leaving Jakarta for Bangkok/L.A. Tuesday afternoon, when really I am leaving tomorrow afternoon).  Natnari "Whan" Sihawong is officially my patron saint of travel, for forcing me to realize the correct date. Also, I can now pack a suitcase at record speed.

But: I have come to realize, just in time, that things could be a lot worse, in all aspects of my life.  So, that's a pretty good thing to realize for one's birthday, right?  And I declare that this coming year of my life will be tahun vivere pericoloso.  The year of living dangerously, as Sukarno says.  ~Ambiguities Galore~  And in the meantime...

intertribal: (Default)
Last year I read this sweet little article on Jezebel, "How Tragic Kingdom Saved My Life," about the writer's therapeutic "relationship" with the No Doubt album, and I remember thinking, hmm, I'm so obsessed with carving albums up into patchwork playlists (and leave the dregs behind!) that I don't really have any especially meaningful albums.  I think that's started to change a little - I can't imagine carving up The XX (The XX) or Loveless (My Bloody Valentine) because they're like 40-minute songs - and now I have discovered The Birthday Massacre's fourth album, Pins and Needles

The Birthday Massacre is one of my guilty pleasure bands - they're so ridiculously Hot Topic with their Goth!-Alice-in-Wonderland aesthetic that they seem kind of embarrassing for a 24-year-old pre-professional - and I can't say they're musical geniuses by any stretch.  I would not have discovered them had it not been for Pandora, which suggested to me "Lovers' End" and "Happy Birthday" off Violet.  Today Pandora suggested "Two Hearts" off Pins and Needles and I was instantly in love:

Obviously I was particularly drawn to the lyrics: "Two hearts beating, one beats the other while the other just looks away."  Yesterday I admitted in therapy that I'm attracted to people that seem damaged - instead of wholesome, normal, well-adjusted, generally sane, like they could go live in a little box made of ticky-tacky and be satisfied - because I see myself as damaged and dangerous, and at least if they're already messed up, I won't feel so guilty about the inevitable damage I will do.  This is what I was thinking about while dancing (painfully sober) at a bar/club in Farragut North on St. Patrick's Day (the song I declared to be "my song": a techno remix of "Somebody That You Used To Know.").  My friend Alicia was ecstatic as we left because she hadn't gone clubbing in a while - whereas I went to Pure and The Bank in Vegas this past weekend, and besides which I feel no great difference between a silver-glitzy club and a bar with a dance floor, so there is zero novelty for me - and I just ended up feeling claustrophobic and anxious to get home, which is I guess what happens when I go clubbing sober. 

So anyway, Pins and Needles.  Is very listenable, to start with, and has TBM's trademark sound, which I cannot describe as anything other than like, deathpop, although wikipedia calls it synthrock (they say that about almost everything I like, though).  They are named after Clive Barker's Imajica, which tells you something.  They go with Jack Off Jill/Scarling and Kidneythieves in  my head-catalog.  And this album in particular sort of perfectly describes the contrasting elements in my life - the high-pitched pop of everyday tasks and my "upwardly mobile" trajectory and my happenin' friends and contacts, vs. my melancholy, downward-sloping heartbreak.  And the words.  Even the title Pins and Needles pretty much accurately describes my existence. 

From "In The Dark": "I'm in the dark, I'm alone around you.  I've never been here before, nobody here to get me through."

From "Always": "Repeating words until they're true: it slows the breathing.  Pretend they never came from you: it kills the feeling.  I'm not what you want:  you said what I never could."

From "Pale": "I'm looking at a face, a pointed chin towards the sky in arrogance./  Imitation, a fabrication, a pretty fake, but counterfeit, an empty carcass behind the artist, is there a trait of innocence?/ And much to our dismay, they're ignorant.  The more that we make up, the more it fits./  This doesn't feel right, feels like everything's further away.  Dead as the nightlife.  Hindsight, watching another mistake.  We never feel right."

From "Control":  "Two-faced, too poised to shed a tear/ A new trend: indifference."

From "Shallow Grave": "She was always good for nothing when the good broke bad.  All she's got to lose is everything she never has.  Every back turned to her./  She never fooled us because she could never fool herself."

From "Sideways": "How can you criticize when you're not here to compromise?  Words fade as time goes by without you."

From "Midnight": "I can't decide which one of us will leave here alive.  Your fingers breaking as I place them over mine.  The only thing I need is time to change your mind, I said./ I can't decide which one of us is dreaming tonight.  I'm just a shadow in the light you leave behind.  The only thing I need is time to change your mind, I said./  It's always darker at the end of every answer, like a finger down the back of your throat."

From "Pins and Needles": "It's been so long, feels like pins and needles in my heart.  So long, I can feel it tearing me apart./ It's always a nightmare, it's never a dream."

From "Sleepwalking": "Wait, dear, the time is getting late here.  I'm all washed up and graced with feigned applause, dressed in a cheap facade.  I'm looking for a place I'll never see again.  A night turns to a day, a street I've never walked on.  I was never here, just a faint reflection.  A day turns to a month, a second of affection./  Faking, there's nothing here worth taking.  Just my reflection fading on the wall, not the fairest one of all."

From "Secret": "I woke up as I waited.  Bleeding slow, there was no way to make all this blow over, so I started writing the ending.  I said too much.  And you just kept on pretending for both of us.  I could never speak anyway.  What you wanted to hear, I couldn't convey./  All the days that I've counted, you'll never know."

I don't know if Pins and Needles will save my life, but it certainly gives my inner turmoil some voice.  It's alienation in a busy city, it's walking back to the metro at 2 a.m. alone, it's being "pre-professional" at all in this city of berserker networking, it's the pure sadness of unrequited love, it's the chase.
intertribal: (cuz every now and then)
"The Prisoner's Dilemma differs from the Stag Hunt in that there is no solution that is in the best interests of all the participants; there are offensive as well as defensive incentives to defect from the coalition with the others; and, if the game is to be played only once, the only rational response is to defect."

"The fear of being exploited most strongly drives the security dilemma; one of the main reasons why international life is not more nasty, brutish, and short is that states are not as vulnerable as men are in a state of nature."

"States that can afford to be cheated in a bargain or that cannot be destroyed by a surprise attack can more easily trust others and need not act at the first, and ambiguous, sign of menace."

- Jervis, "Cooperation Under The Security Dilemma," 1978.
intertribal: (Default)
In honor of the short story I just submitted that I'm crossing my fingers for, here's a song I started to associate it for God only knows what reason (probably because I am weird).  Sadly, the only wedding in my story appears off-screen, there are no motorcycles, and no leather.  Oh well.  You can never have too much of the '80s, right?  Don't answer that.

My actual "soundtrack" was a combination of The Hills Have Eyes music (by Tomandandy), like such, and "Proven Lands" off There Will Be Blood (by Jonny Greenwood).  I'm really obsessed with "Proven Lands."  It's like the music of capitalism. 

This song actually fits the story better in theme and atmosphere and such - "Das Tor" by Faun.  I actually didn't look up the translated lyrics until now - I just felt that the song worked with the story: "And when the night is at its darkest, then we shall look at each other, and laugh and laugh and laugh doing so, then we shall look at each other.  And then shall be a meadow with many-coloured flowers.  I shall give you a flower and you shall give me one.  And then we shall run, run through the gate, through the gate to the eternal day, to the eternal day.  I shall give you my hand and you shall hand me yours.  The night, it shall be no more, only a meadow with flowers." 

You have to listen to it to feel how... unreal and dreamlike all this is, or how unworldly.  Like this is a vision that will not be achieved on the earthly plane, or is a pre-death hallucination, or something. 

All this makes the story sound like a romance, but it's not one in any conventional sense.  
intertribal: (book of black valentines)
1.  My mother and I are going through the basement.  She finds a manila envelope stuffed with old pictures from the 1940s-1960s of her nuclear family growing up.  The ones from the 1950s really do make them look like a "perfect American family" - tight-lipped but proud father, demure homemaker mother, and the older brother (my uncle) looks like he could be an athlete of some kind, tall with a crew cut and good-looking enough, and the younger sister (my mother) looks like a cute sunny little blonde girl with her hair in a ponytail.  It changes, though.  My uncle goes to college, becomes scrawny and awkward-looking in his journey toward becoming an English professor, and marries a homely blonde girl who looks too young to be pregnant in the late 1960s and he will eventually divorce when she gains too much weight.  My mother has an awkward period in middle school but she's really pretty around the time she's graduating high school, 1965.  She's got long dark hair that she's ironed straight and she's got this open, intelligent-looking face, like she's always thinking about something beyond the picture being taken.  Sort of a Colleen Corby type.  This is the time when she discovered atheism, tried to dismantle the pep club despite being its president, and decided to go to a hippie college (Antioch).  As I'm admiring one of the pictures, she points to the dress she's wearing and says, "That yellow dress.  That's what I wore when I did this pageant thing."  I'm all, "A pageant?" and she's like, "Yeah, I stood up there and sang a Bob Dylan song and played my guitar.  'The Times They Are A-Changin'', I think."

2.  After a dinner I spend quizzing her about my dad's political beliefs, my mother gives me a copy of my dad's political science dissertation.  She pulls out an entire magazine file.  The papers are wrapped in plastic, but this isn't a bound copy.  I'm like, "That whole thing?"  Yep.  It's 700 pages.  700 pages.  My mother's never read it, and she doesn't even know she's in the acknowledgments until I read it to her - "my friends at Cornell University, especially" (my mother).  It was submitted in 1983, so they were already in a relationship.  The dissertation is called State and Society: Indonesian Politics Under the New Order (1966-1978).  The theory among my dad's family and my mother is that he got the Fulbright to go to the U.S. because he was involved in student activism in the 1970s and dating a disapproving military leader's daughter, and "they" wanted to get rid of him.  God knows, though - that's how the mythology goes, anyway.  I'm reading the introduction and holy crap, it is dense.  It's an incredible contrast to the Educational Administration dissertations I edit in my job, which are mind-numbingly boring and obvious and simple - I can't help but think my dad's dissertation could stand to be a little more understandable, maybe written a little more naturally, because as it is I have difficulty keeping all the concepts straight, and this is the introduction.  But I will do my best.  I remember trying to read this in high school and just giving up because I didn't understand the words, pretty much.  Now I know the political science terminology, and I have at least heard of the people he's talking about, so I have a better shot.  The dedication page reads:
To those who suffer in
their struggle to reduce
human misery
3.  Back in the basement, my mother is going through a stack of books, some of which are ours, some of which came from God Knows Where.  She picks up a big red hardcover and says incredulously, "A hymnal?"  Incredulous because she's still an atheist.  I'm like, "Oh, I might want it," because I was just looking through online copies of The Lutheran Hymnal the other day for use in my novel, and my mother's all my-kid's-weird-but-whatever, and I say, "What religion?" and she says, "Lutheran."  So of course I start screaming "YES!" ecstatically, and my mother realizes it's for the novel and then we're both laughing in triumph.
intertribal: (strum strum)
I haven't read much in the way of Twilight (like a few excerpts), but I own the soundtrack to both movies because they are pretty freaking awesome IMO.  "Eyes on Fire" by Blue Foundation is one of my favorites from the first (which I never would have ever found otherwise), and off the second, "Hearing Damage" by Thom Yorke.  Keep in mind almost all these songs are used sloppily in the movies, because the movies are like way out of its league compared to the soundtracks.  But see, that's my issue with the whole Twilight movie franchise.  Elements of it - cinematography, music choice, setting - seem to belong in a way better movie.  And then you see Pattinson and you remember they're albino Fortune 500 vampires and you're like, "oh, man."

Then of course there's the classic Twilight song, "Decode" by Paramore.  I'm a sucker for the pop song that tries to be epic (I like Shiny Toy Guns for similar reasons), so naturally I'm a big fan of "Decode."  My favorite part is near the end where she's all, "I think you know!" and the electric guitar goes "rarr, rarr, rarr, rarr"... yeah, I can't narrate music.   But it's basically like this dramatic musical telenovela bitch slap, and it's great. 

So I was trying to listen to the lyrics, and I convinced myself that this song was a bad choice for Twilight, because it's actually about a couple that is having serious problems.  There's "How did we get here?/  I used to know you so well," there's "Not gonna ever own what's mine when you're always taking sides/ But you won't take away my pride, no not this time."  My favorite, though, was: "But you think that I can't see what kind of man that you are/ if you're a man at all."  It's like, ohhhhh, burn.  And I wanted it for my OTP.

Then I looked it up and it turned out Paramore's Hayley Williams wrote it for Twilight.  So "if you're a man at all" literally implies that he's a vampire.  

Sigh.  And that's what I get for listening to the Twilight soundtrack, badam-ching.

P.S.  Saw Splice the other night.  It's definitely an uncomfortable movie, with a rather uncomfortable (perhaps problematic?) narrative arc as well, but I don't think it's going to poison the wells of society or anything.  I think I'm going to come down somewhere in the middle on this one.  Well-made, but didn't know where to go with the premise (and hey, don't I know how that goes!).  Still, some interesting things to say about sexuality and parenting. 
intertribal: (blue nails)
Anybody know of the manga Uzumaki by Junji Ito*?  I'd been wanting to read it for years, and when I mentioned this on [ profile] ontdcreepy, I was told it could be read online - so of course I sit down and read half the whole thing (me: "egad!  manga can be read online for free?  what a brave new world we live in!").  It is fucking psycho.  It's about this little town that's cursed by... spirals.  Spirals, the most "mystical" shape, the most "perfect" shape.  Mesmerizing, undying, self-perpetuating... and found everywhere.  I'm hard-pressed to classify it beyond "horror," because the real antagonist here is the spiral.  It's incredibly graphic and horrifying but also, you know... captivating, as much as I hate to say it.  Some chapters (like Jack in the Box) are just damn creepy/horrific/awful/High Octane Nightmare Fuel, but others (like Medusa, or even The Snail) have a real aesthetic grace to them.  

Which makes sense, because the spiral itself isn't some kind of evil entity - it's more of an unknowable entity, with very real ties to the phenomenon of love (Twisted Souls, The Snail, The Scar, Jack in the Box... um... all of them, really).  Hence the obsessive behavior of those afflicted (that continues after death), the irresistible draw of the spiral, the self-destruction, the way the spiral twines and intertwines.

Ah, it's great stuff, and I really recommend the series - but be warned there is serious Disturbing Imagery therein, and some of it may hit one of your squick points.  I decided to take a break after Chapter 11 (The Umbilical Cord), because that was just viscerally awful, and I had to read like three volumes of Dragonball to get back to my happy place.


* He came up with Tomie, you may have heard of her.  He also did Gyo, which I really want to read too, though I suspect it's like incredibly grotesque.
intertribal: (so fuck this shit)
I've been reading the Dear Author "F Reviews" - many are quite hilarious - and kind of got mesmerized by the review for a book I won't name to prevent spoilers (even though the book is two years old). DA is a romance site, but they review a variety of genres, and this book is more thriller than romance, although there is a romantic relationship at its core. It's also part of a series. And anyway, the very unhappy review by Jane says in part:
It seems to me that you [the author] are afraid to allow your characters to experience happiness. That prolonged happiness would somehow negatively impact on your writing... I won’t ruin the ending, but I will say that I am sorry that I ever read you. That I spent over $100 in your career along with years of waiting and hours of reading. I am sorry that you have chosen your path. If this makes me a child who can’t handle the realities of life, so be it.
Of course, I want to know immediately what this horrible ending was. People were guessing throughout the comments, and were starting to admonish violence done toward female characters. Then people started linking to a "letter" the author had written. The author made potential readers jump through a hell of a lot of computer-loops to get to this letter, but I jumped through them and read it. The letter revealed that the person who died was not one of the female characters, but the main male character - the hero/husband/all-around-good-guy. The letter also revealed that the author felt this was a necessary move on her part, for the sake of the story and the process and the other characters and all. I don't think she did it to shock readers, and I think she felt very bad about it - partly because of her own link to the character, and partly because she knew her fans loved the relationship and loved the hero.

The response to this - on DA - was much like Jane's:
Oh. My. Effing. God. I just read her letter and I’m bawling like a freaking baby. Why would she do that? And Jane, I’m with Casee, your letter was nowhere near harsh enough. Goddammit!
OH.HELL.NO. I cannot believe she did that. Hell, I haven’t even read these books and I’m still pissed off at her.
I’ve never read these books but I can see why you feel like you were kicked in the stomach.
Frankly what made the books a must read for me was the relationship and where it was going! I really hate it when authors do this — I still remember when Sandra Brown did it — I’ve never purchased another book by her either!
Jane A., I had forgotten about Another Dawn! OMGawd, I was soooo mad when I finished that book. I would have been happy never reading it and assuming that the h/h of Sunset Embrace had their HEA.[Happily Ever After]
I was so upset after reading the letter that I had to get the book out of the house.
Have cried all day and night and can’t get this horrible, cruel ending out of my mind. If I wanted this kind of ending I would read Nicholas Sparks.
It goes on for 300+ comments. The thread essentially becomes a wake - a place for readers who've just finished to come and cry/vent. Months later some of the "mourners" come back and say that they will continue with the series after all - can't turn their back on the other characters. The thread started in July 2007 - the latest post is October 2009! There are a few other types of comments - some that reaffirmed the author's right to do what she wanted with her characters, others that appreciated the "gritty" quality of this ending, and one so far that was upbeat because the hero "got what he deserved."

I can't really talk about my own writing in relation to this subject, because I epically suck in this regard - it's one of those things I have to work on. But I can tell you exactly why I have to work on it - because my first reaction to this thread was:


Those that are close to me know that I have major, major issues with this type of ending. And I ran into this ending over and over and over during my oh-so-impressionable early teens. DBZ, which started all this, emotionally destroyed me and turned me into what I can only describe as a crazy person while I was in middle/high school. The Song of Roland was the nail in the coffin (the image of Roland blowing the horn so hard that he spits up blood is burned into my brain at this point). And this surely did fuck with my head. I hated The Iliad something awful after Hector died. Although I don't hate it so much anymore, there are chapters I won't read again. It still makes my throat clog.

As I got older, this became less of a problem - I just didn't get attached to heroes. They started looking more like jackasses anyway. I started really psycho-analyzing the heroism cult, and war, and that's how I became interested in militarism and fascism. [A crash course in all this: songs by the band Hole, esp. "Reasons to Be Beautiful" and "Jennifer's Body"] It was good for me, I think; I needed that. And at this rate, I'd say there's little chance of me picking up, say, Sword of Shannara and becoming attached to Richard Rahl. Besides which, "grit" is so "in" these days that mourning the death of a character makes you look like either a wuss or an idiot for liking such an unlikable, clearly-asking-for-an-axe-to-be-thrown-through-his-head character in the first place. If the story has made it clear that anyone can die and someone will die every fifth page, it's hard for the "but X can't die!" mentality to creep in.

But I will tell you this: if Aragorn had died at the end (and I don't mean the end end, although yes, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen" has made me cry, thank you very much), I might have had to burn my copy of The Lord of the Rings.

At this point I can pretty much map out how I got this particular complex. It's predictable and obvious. And I can guess how other readers came to similar complexes, especially in romance sagas. Here's a hint: many of them suggested one of the secondary female characters they found annoying instead. But I haven't come across these feelings for a while now, so seeing these readers' little crystallized wake is a trip for me.

Okay, I will say a bit about what this means for my writing: Stephen King had a good point with Misery, but I wonder if Stephen King ever had a Misery Chastain - the character he kills off - in his reading life. I suspect the answer is no. It's harder when you've had to mourn.
intertribal: (you are the blood)
From the NYTimes "Idea of the Day" blog:

“Vampires have overwhelmed pop culture because young straight women want to have sex with gay men,” Stephen Marche writes in Esquire. “Not all young straight women, of course, but many, if not most, of them.”

Marche thinks today’s vampire stories — whether their gay themes are implied as in the “Twilight” series or explicit as in HBO’s “True Blood” — are “symptomatic of something much larger: a quiet but profound sexual revolution and a new acceptance of freakiness in mainstream American life.”

So that's why I don't like vampires!  Gee, Esquire, thanks!  I think Joseph Hale has the best comment:

I think it signals a widespread acceptance that people want to have sex with the dead.

I end this post with something completely unrelated - a German artist, Ottmar Hoerl, "is posing 1,250 garden gnomes with their arms outstretched in the stiff-armed Hitler salute in an installation that he calls a protest of lingering fascist tendencies in German society," even though Germany bans the display of Nazi symbols.  A court decided they were "clearly satire."  Hoerl says "the fascist idea, the striving to manipulate people or dictate to people ... is latently dangerous and remains present in our society."  To Hoerl:  you're absolutely right!  And it's not just Germany!

intertribal: (busy)
On the front page of the NYTimes:

If that's too small, it says "Experts say Senator John Ensign may have violated ethics laws by helping an aide get work after having an affair with her husband."  The real story, of course, is reflected in the article itself: "the senator was having an affair with Mr. Hampton’s wife, Cynthia, a member of his campaign staff," and Ensign was finding a job for Cynthia's husband.

God, that's a LOL.

Update: they caught it!
intertribal: (kings of the wild frontier)
Dedicated to my uncle's mysterious second wife, Mary Ann(e). She and my uncle were both English professors. I never knew Mary Ann(e). My mother did - she briefly lived with Mary Ann(e) and my uncle between educational pursuits - and says only that Mary Ann(e) was intense and intriguing and smart and hard to live with. They had no children. She's quite long dead, possibly of suicide (my uncle had to go identify the body), and my uncle has a drawer-full of love letters they exchanged. I was there when his third wife found them in the basement.

My uncle is now working on marrying wife #4.

"Pictures of Mary Anne" - Swans
intertribal: (cernunnos)
Since it's the French Open Finals this weekend, I present to you my first uncomprehensive guide to tennis champions.  This one is devoted to tennis champions in love - arguably the most pathetic piece of tennis analysis possible, but you know, what can I say, I'm a girl.  And no matter what anybody tells you, tennis is all about human interest stories.  Future uncomprehensive guides might include traumatic family histories, "injuries," and the insanity of the French (and if I'm discussing Justine Henin, all three!).  Depends on what I'll feel like.

I. Andre Agassi + Steffi Graf = ♥ ♥ ♥.  My earliest tennis memory was watching Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras on tv with my mom.  We were in Indonesia.  I was very small.  I asked my mother who she was rooting for, and she said she liked Agassi more than Sampras.  Being the impressionable kid I was, I turned this one remark into lifelong support for cow-eyed Andre Agassi, and lifelong hatred for Pete Sampras and his gross lolling tongue.  Just like being a Husker fan formed my fundamental opinions about football, being an Agassi fan formed my fundamental opinions about tennis - that serve and volley is more exciting than power tennis, and that a good flexible return can and will outlast any narrow-minded onslaught of aces.  In my defense, Sampras grew up into a Republican married to a soap actress named Bridget, and Agassi grew up into a Democrat married to my first favorite female tennis player, Steffi Graf.  For those not in the know, Steffi is undisputably one of the best female tennis players in history (and perhaps the best).  When I first started watching the grand slams and rooting for these two, I - and the rest of the tennis world - had no idea they would end up together.  I mean, it certainly didn't seem likely.

Wimbledon, 1992                                                      Wimbledon, 2009
Andre was the wildchild of tennis, the one who refused to play in Wimbledon because he refused to wear all-white.  He dated Barbra Streisand and married Brooke Shields, and while he was making tennis exciting for young audiences (including my mother), the establishment found him annoying.  Steffi was the introverted princess of the court, tall and austere and very private.  The most dramatic thing to happen to her was externally-imposed, when a psycho stalker of hers stabbed Monica Seles during one of their matches.  Andre finally decided to wear all-white and play Wimbledon for the first time in 1992.  He won the championship.  On the women's side, so did Steffi.  It was their first meeting - Andre had a crush on Steffi, but Steffi thought Andre was just another psycho on account of his wild-eyed look and long hair.  Nothing came out of that champions' dance.  Years later (1999) they both won the French Open, both coming up from behind. That time Andre was more zen, with much less hair. He'd divorced Brooke Shields, and had been making it clear to Steffi - by asking to practice with her, etc. - that he was still interested.  After that champions' dance, they started dating. 

They're now retired philanthropists who live in Vegas with their two adorable little blonde children, Jaden-Gil and Jaz (and a shitload of money).  The whole family is basically the cutest thing ever, they get invited to present trophies at Grand Slams, and commentators want the kids to grow up so they can start destroying everyone else on the court.  In other words, everybody loves them, and they love everybody. Life is good.

II.  Roger Federer + Mirka Vavrinec = ♥ ♥ ♥.  While not as fortuitous as Andre and Steffi, Roger and Mirka are still a power tennis couple and on account of still being on tour, are my new obsession.  Federer is my favorite active player and one thing I really like about the guy is Mirka.  I've recently come to the conclusion that male tennis stars either marry other tennis players (Andre) or aspiring model/actresses (Sampras).  Andy Roddick, Tommy Haas, and Lleyton Hewitt (who threw away a perfectly awesome tennis player, Kim Clijsters, and therefore deserves his shitty results) followed Sampras' model.  They all suck, btw.  Andy Roddick in particular needs to get put out of his misery.  Federer, on the other hand followed Andre's model.  Mirka is no longer an active tennis player because of a nagging foot injury, but she was one of those many Eastern European little girls who Martina Navratilova gave a racket to, and she met Federer when they were both on the 2000 Swiss Olympic team.  They've been together ever since - yes, 9 years, and by together I mean inseparable.  This year Mirka became pregnant, and they got married in a little civil ceremony in his hometown, Basel. 

Cute as a fucking button.

It's remarkable how happy Federer is when he talks about her.  And no wonder - he says that Mirka has provided a calm center to his life, and has been there for him throughout his massive ups and downs.  To quote someone on the internet, these two are definitely at home with each other (enough that Mirka's his manager!).  You can tell how Federer is doing in a match by watching Mirka's expression - she's still there courtside at every match, even though the baby's due in September.  As Federer says, "She loves tennis and she doesn't pull me away from tennis, she actually pushes me to it which is fantastic."  And that is why tennis/tennis couples work better than tennis/model couples.  They understand and love each other's priorities.  Now if Federer can just win some tournaments, that would be great.  Okay, R-Fed?  1 more match for the French!  And for god's sake, don't make the missus too tense this time!
intertribal: (and now the prom king)
Watched Kill Bill on Sunday before the Oscars.  The only problem: I really wanted Bill and Beatrix to end up together.  I did not want Beatrix to kill Bill.  I think this means I didn't get something. 

I should note that I generally do not go for unhealthy relationships.  I don't ship Clarice and Hannibal Lecter.  I actually tend to support very healthy (if flawed) on-screen relationships.  But god, they're just so equally fucked up.  What the hell is killing one of them going to do?  This is why I hate revenge.  But then again, I didn't really go for the whole "I'm a mother, and all I care about is my child" transition either.  Of course, I wouldn't know, but I don't think it's as simplistic as Tarantino makes it out to be.  It's not like she's even cognizant of giving birth to this child that she changes so completely for.  

Sigh.  Well, I've been enjoying the soundtrack to Lost Highway, at least.  It's so kooky and Western-ish.  We all know how I love the Neo-West.  It's what I like about Kill Bill too (the Asia parts = meh).  I've also been listening to the Across the Universe soundtrack.  It's made me realize that I like the Beatles' music - just not when they're the ones making it.  I like their lyrics and their basic melodies.  But I don't like their "style," I guess?  Then again, I've always liked Oasis' version of "I Am The Walrus" much, much more than the original.

Jesus Christ, they're having an all-military Wheel of Fortune and one of them guessed "African Samoa". 

African Samoa.

African Samoa.

What's the world coming to?  We don't even know our own colonies anymore!

intertribal: (drive fast dress in black)
So, the Oscar Noms are out.  And we're back to our regularly-scheduled Oscars: crappy, mundane, and appealing to the saccharine better angels of our nature.  Remember last year?  When there were movies like No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood and The Assassination of Jesse James and 3:10 to Yuma and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly in the running for awards, and even the standard fare was the fairly un-standard Atonement?  Remember how great that was?  Well, no more.  I mean, look at that Best Picture list.   It's about as propagandistic as the Oscars get. 

I suppose in some ways this old way is better, because actually having a horse in the race last year was too tense for my taste.  I think the best movie I saw this year was Synecdoche, New York, and of course it's not nominated for anything, because that's the kind of movie that scares the Oscar committee.  Actually, no, I have one horse - Encounters at the End of the World, for Best Documentary.  That's a tie with Synecdoche, New York for my favorite movie this year.  But Encounters won't win for the same reasons Synecdoche wasn't nominated: too existential, too lacking in a conventional narrative, not "life-affirming" enough. 

So I guess I'll be watching for the dresses again. 
On the homefront:


Good news 1.  Apparently Obama's going to close down Gitmo Bay.  Amazing, right?  I thought so. 

Good news 2.  Caroline Kennedy is Outie McOuterson.  For the record, I don't care if it's illegal housekeepers, taxes, a sick uncle, or the stench of nepotism.  I would be happy enough never hearing from anyone with the surname Kennedy ever again.  Ever. 

Good news 3.  None.
intertribal: (absolute light)
1.  People who write slavery fanfiction or slavery fiction need to make sure to read something along the lines of Alienation and Social Death by Orlando Patterson.  Just so everyone understands that social death is not hot or fun.  As some guy in my Colonial Encounters class shouted today after listening to a bunch of girls defending Friday as more a subject than a slave to Robinson Crusoe because of sentimental attachment between them, or some passing veneer of respect on Crusoe's part, "that does not take away that he's still a slave!  He's a slave!  He's enslaved!" 

2.  Stephanie Meyer needs like, a lot of help.  Because if you're trying to encourage crossbreeding you do not want to write your heroine breaking her spine during the ensuing childbirth.  This after the vampire hero has shredded pillows, destroyed the headboard, and beaten up the heroine during sex (it's okay, she was in a state of rapture/unconsciousness).  That's not encouraging.  That's called "don't try this at home".  It's also called "not the start to a happy family". 

3.  No one species is like-OMG-so-much-cooler than any other.  You know the story about Prometheus assigning every creature special helpful attributes, and how humans didn't get anything except a ginormous brain?  That applies to the special made-up species too.  When vampires (or whatever) are portrayed as just the coolest race ever (and yeah, they're always "races" not "species", because we're living in the Fourth Reich apparently) whereas humans are dumb and weak and useless, all I can really wonder is where Darwin is in all this, and why the hell vampires haven't taken over the world and enslaved little human clans to breed with each other and create an endless supply of human blood.  I usually conclude that people who idolize some mythical race, and usually weirdly turn out to be closet rabid Christians (Stephanie Meyer, Anne Rice - atheists don't write this worship-of-magical-being stuff), are much like Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins in that they hate humans, hate life, and hate Earth, and just can't wait to be rid of it all. 

Oh, I shouldn't have brought up Left Behind. 

Because really.  What the hell do these uber-cool ultra-races see in humans that would make them want to breed with them, if humans are such piles of dog shit?  Or is it just the cracked-up supermen that can't handle a superwoman, and so decide to go after something they know can't threaten them? 

4.  Same with the sex.  And the OMG. 

Look, I write about this same exact stuff.  And that's probably why gross, unresearched (and quite frankly, uneducated) presentations of it bother the hell out of me. 


Also, the Autumnal Equinox issue of Cezanne's Carrot is live and it contains my story about constantly reincarnated test animals, "On The Island".  Speaking of reincarnation this story has been reincarnated in the form of rewrites like a million billion times.  I arbritrarily named every section of the story after four great Criminal Intent episodes.  Also, I won one of the Editors' Prizes for the issue, woo!
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