Friday, August 31, 2012

A Literate Adult's Return to the Valley of Twilight, Part Seven: There’s no crying in vampire baseball, though there ARE super awkward conversations about infant death and attempted suicide.

Read Part One here, Part Two here, and Part Three here, and Part Four here, Part Five here, and Part Six here.

My childhood included many trips to Jacobs Field to see the Cleveland Indians play. Though I didn’t realize until later how offensive that team’s name and mascot must be to Native Americans (sorry, Jacob), it took me very little time to figure out that baseball is a boring-assed sport. The players spend the vast majority of the game just standing around and occasionally spitting. 

I’ve always preferred sports that involve a lot of movement, like soccer and basketball. I would have assumed that with their crazy speed, vampires would share my preference for exciting sports. I would have even understood if they loved touch football—that way they could tackle each other with their awesome strength. But baseball? Really?

(My apologies to anyone who really likes baseball. It is, as Edward pointed out, the American pastime.)

A few hours before baseball adventures are due to commence, Edward drops Bella off at home. They arrive to find Jacob and his father, Billy, waiting. If there’s one thing I appreciate about Twilight, it’s that Jacob is barely in it. He obviously likes Bella but Twilight is the Edward and Bella show—it’s not until later books that Jacob starts acting like this:

Shirtless, always shirtless.

Edward calls Jacob a child before he leaves, and reminds us all of what a creepster he is:

I bridled a little at the word child. “Jacob is not that much younger than I am,” I reminded him.

… “Oh I know,” he assured me with a grin.

Is this supposed to be charming? Because it sounds like an admission of pedophilia to me.

Once Bella gets rid of Jacob and Billy, she takes a minute to ignore one of her human friends. Jessica calls to talk to Bella about the dance that she missed:

“It was so much fun!” Jessica gushed. Needing no more invitation than that, she launched into a minute-by-the-minute account of the previous night. I mmm’d and ahh’d at the right places, but it wasn’t easy to concentrate. Jessica, Mike, the dance, school—they all seemed strangely irrelevant at the moment.

Oh, Bella. Don’t pretend that you’ve ever found your human friends to be relevant. You’ve never given a shit about them.

After a “Spanish Inquisition” which consists of Charlie asking perfectly normal parent questions like when Edward is coming over and where he will be taking Bella, Edward and Bella head to a clearing to play some vamp ball. On the way Bella tries to make out with Edward. This bugs Edward because making out makes him want to bang kill Bella and premarital sex murder is wrong.

Bella accuses him of being mad and Edward says he’s not (even though he totally is), and this is how Bella responds:

“Then why?” I whispered, remembering the black moods that pulled him away from me, that I’d always interpreted as well-justified frustration—frustration at my weakness, my slowness, my unruly human reactions…

If I read this out-of-context, I would think it came from an issue book about battered women, and that by the end the heroine would rightly realize that the guy she’s with is an abusive fuckbag. That book sounds way better than this one. I wish I were reading that book.

A tip to my ladies: Don’t be like Bella. If the guy you like acts like a dick to you, it’s not because he’s justifiably frustrated by how weak or stupid you are. It’s because he’s a dick.

The American Vampire Pastime commences and Edward’s vampire mother, Esme, and Bella have a bizarre conversation while they watch the game:

“Well, I do think of them as my children in most ways. I never could get over my mothering instincts—did Edward tell you I had lost a child?”

“No,” I murmured…

“Yes, my first and only baby. He died just a few days after he was born, the poor tiny thing,” she sighed. “It broke my heart—that’s why I jumped off the cliff, you know,” she added matter-of-factly.

“Edward just said you f-fell,” I stammered.

“Always the gentleman.”

This is, like, Bella’s second conversation with Esme EVER. They met earlier that day. Imagine that you’re at a barbecue with your new boyfriend’s family. This is your first time meeting them and so you are nervous. This is also the first boyfriend you’ve ever had, and you really like him, so you really, really want to make a good impression. Things seem to be going well when suddenly your boyfriend’s mom is like, “By the way, I lost a baby once and then I tried to kill myself. Aren’t these burgers delicious?” The fuck would you say to that?

There’s honestly not a whole lot to be said about the baseball game itself. Two reasons are given for why these vampires love playing baseball during storms. One is how noisy it is when the vampires hit the ball:

The crack of impact was shattering, thunderous; it echoes off the mountains—I immediately understood the necessity of the thunderstorm.

That’s ridiculous. A bat hitting a baseball would just never be loud enough. The ball would break first. And as I mentioned earlier, there are plenty of better, more fun sports for the Cullens to choose from that don’t include hitting balls with bats.

Reason two:

Carlisle ran into the ball, and then raced Jasper to first base. When they collided, the sound was like the crash of two massive falling boulders.

Am I alone in the fact that I have no idea what two huge boulders crashing together would sound like? Because I really don’t. I tried to find a sound effect on the interwebs and found this, which I find hilarious for whatever reason:

Read Part Eight here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fuck You, Car, That's MY Pizza: My Earliest Memory

I have to go into the office every day yet again this week. So I'm going to be the laziest of fucks and repost something on here that I posted on Twitter last night. The wonderful and talented artist Marlo Meekins is making a comic of her earliest memory and suggested that others make their own comics as well.

You guys already know I can't draw. I've kind of accepted that these clumsy hands are far better suited to writing than making pictures. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to force you to look at my terrible attempts at art from time to time.

So without any further ado, here is my earliest memory done in the shittiest artwork that markers can draw:


Thanks to Marlo Meekins for the awesome suggestion! You kids should definitely check her out. Her tumblr is on my Ninja Champions of Writerlyhood list on the right sidebar since in addition to drawing super super well, she's also pretty damn funny.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Short Post and a Song #16: My sincerest apologies to Tina Fey.

I'm just gonna go ahead and let this photo of a display table in a local Barnes & Noble do most of the talking today:

I'm sorry, Tina Fey. I'M SO SORRY. Though the fact that your pile is smallest does give me some hope for humanity as a whole.


"Fantasia/Atreju's Quest" from The Neverending Story soundtrack

I was not just a little obsessed with the movie The Neverending Story as a kid. I was A LOT obsessed. I was so obsessed that I considered naming my firstborn son Bastian. I was so obsessed that I tried blending a raw egg with orange juice because Bastian's dad does it in the movie. (It was disgusting.)

It's been years since I watched the film, but I've been listening to its soundtrack a lot lately while working on Moorhouse. I was too blown away by Falcor's awesomeness the first hundred times around to realize how incredibly good this movie's soundtrack is.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Literate Adult's Return to the Valley of Twilight, Part Six: B&E’s and invasion of privacy do not equal sexy romance, Bella.

Read Part One here, Part Two here, and Part Three here, and Part Four here, and Part Five here.

Bella genuinely made me chuckle on page 301. Edward had just been sniffing her neck a whole lot. I can't say neck-sniffing came up much on my own adolescent make-out adventures. I guess Stephenie Meyer had to get creative with her sexual tension-y scenes since her characters couldn’t do anything remotely sexual with those raging hormones because Mormonism.

During the erotic neck-sniffing, Bella and Edward have this conversation:

“I thought you were desensitized.”

“Just because I’m resisting the wine doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the bouquet,” he whispered. “You have a very floral smell, like lavender … or freesia,” he noted. “It’s mouthwatering.”

“Yeah, it’s an off day when I don’t get somebody telling me how edible I smell.”

I found this to be a legitimately funny reaction to Edward’s weird behavior. Like, if this were the only thing I ever read about Bella, I could entertain the idea that she is a clever, worthwhile character deserving of having four long-assed books written about her.

Unfortunately that didn’t make me forget how Bella had been acting just forty pages earlier:

But I couldn’t answer. As I had just that once before, I smelled his cool breath in my face. Sweet, delicious, the scent made my mouth water. It was unlike anything else. Instinctively, unthinkingly, I leaned closer, inhaling.

Well, goddamn it, Bella. You seem to want to eat Edward’s face off just as much as he wants to eat yours! If I hadn’t already read this series, I would wonder if this was one of those unreliable narrator things, and it would turn out that Bella was a zombie the whole time. Don’t you hate it when you imagine something way cooler than the book you’re reading turns out to be? Oh, Zombie Bella. The adventures you could have had. You could’ve eaten the faces of all those humans at school that you hate and ignore (even though they’ve been nothing but nice to you).

On Page 292, Edward and Bella get back to her house after their hike and he opens the door for her. Bella asks if the door was unlocked and Edward’s like, “No, I used the hidden key that I know about because I’ve been stalking you for weeks now and breaking into your house to watch you sleep." 

Bella has a reaction to Edward’s creepsterhood that no number of amusing jokes could make up for:

“You spied on me?” But somehow I couldn’t infuse my voice with the proper outrage. I was flattered.

You were flattered? You were flattered this guy has been sneaking into your house and watching you sleep?

I know you haven’t dated much before, Bella, but that’s just not how we do things. Generally a dude respects that your house isn’t, you know, his house, and waits for you to invite him over. That is also usually a rule with vampires too but like half of vampire myth is (conveniently) exactly that in Meyer’s version of vampire events.

Bella, a dude was sitting like two feet from you while you slept every night for weeks and you didn’t know about it. He listened to super secret stuff you said in your sleep! And, by the way, have you forgotten that he had to fight the urge to murder you that whole time?

Bella gets upset when Edward mentions that Bella talks in her sleep, and I hoped she would finally react like a normal person to this stalkery:

“No!” I gasped, heat flooding my face all the way to my hairline. I gripped the kitchen counter for support. …

His expression shifted instantly to chagrin. “Are you very angry with me?”

“That depends!”…

“On?” he urged.

“What you heard!” I wailed.

I had such a strong response to this that I couldn’t help yelling at Bella in the margins:

Next time we’ll be discussing vampire baseball. I hear from Eternal Sparkle Hunk himself that vampires fucking love baseball because it is “the American pastime.” 

Thanks, Edward. I totally get the link between bloodsucking and a fondness for hitting balls with bats during thunderstorms now. Good talk.

Read Part Seven here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Past Jillian has a weird fucking sense of humor. We have that in common, she and I.

Like many other pretentious writer types, I have a writing notebook that I carry around with me everywhere. It's even a Moleskine, because it reminds me of Hemingway and fishing and boats and shit, and also because I like that it has a pocket. 

I mainly use it for chapter outlines and smaller sketches, though every so often I write down jokes. The outlines are usually fine and my sketches are the same poor artwork as always, but the jokes can be pretty hit or miss. Every so often I find a good one, so recently I read through the notebook on the lookout for things to use for Short Posts. 

Flipping through the notebook, I found this scrawled with absolutely no explanation:

The only difference between The Princess Bride and Robin Hood: Men in Tights is mustache.

I have no idea why I wrote this. Was it a joke, or simply an observation? It's important to note here that Cary Elwes, the actor who plays Wesley in The Princess Bride and Robin Hood in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, has a mustache in BOTH movies.

Neither of these films is wanting for mustache. Or HANDSOME.

And yet even though I have no idea what the context for that sentence was supposed to be, and I see that it's not only nonsensical but WRONG, reading it makes me laugh every time. So good job on your weird fucking joke that no one but me would probably find funny, Past Jillian. Well played.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Moorhouse Conceptual Sketches

Hey there my bros and my brolinas. I hope everyone’s having an awesome Thursday. I expected to have to go into the office today but found out yesterday that it wouldn’t be necessary. I am also off to Mister Dancy’s family’s lake house tomorrow for the weekend. So I’d say it’s been a pretty good day so far.

I’ve been working a lot on Moorhouse, my current WIP, and have been having quite a bit of fun with it. So much fun, in fact, that taking time away from it to write a blog post is something that I am not particularly in the mood to do today.

To solve this problem, I’m gonna force you to look at some of my conceptual sketches for Moorhouse. I’m not going to claim any level of artistic ability, but they can give you a good idea of how I work my stories out by sketching. 

I showed you sketches like these once before. That time they were actually a prize for entering my Out-of-Context Dialogue contest early. The prize for that contest, by the way, was a sense of writerly community. Yeah, I kind of suck at giving prizes. (Sorry, Robert.)

So today you’re getting some of these sketches for free. Considering the quality of the artwork, I still feel like I’m getting some kind of deal here.

Since I will be away this weekend, there won’t be a Short Post and a Song on Sunday. But if you want to stop by and leave YouTube links to the songs you like in the comments of this post while I’m away, you totally should. I’m always on the lookout for new music and would very much appreciate suggestions.

All right, you crazy kids. Prepare your eyes for mediocrity, and I’ll see you next week!

My ability to draw scenery leaves much to be desired.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Literate Adult's Return to the Valley of Twilight, Part Five: Stabby Sadness

Read Part One here, Part Two here, and Part Three here, and Part Four here.

It’s worth noting that I read The Host by Stephenie Meyer much more recently than my first reading of Twilight and really enjoyed it. I grew quite attached to the two protagonists: Melanie is one of the few humans who managed to survive an invasion of alien parasites, and Wanda is the alien who took control over Melanie’s body after Melanie was captured. The book delves into this Invasion of the Bodysnatchers idea in a cool, very un-black-and-white way and the bond that develops between these two women stuck in one body is fascinating to watch.

So, there, Stephenie Meyer. I don’t think you're incapable of writing well, or of creating female characters that I can respect. I just don’t think you did either of those things in the Twilight books.

Speaking of female characters I don’t respect, let’s see what Bella’s been up to these days! The whole book has been building up to Bella and Edward hanging out alone on this one Saturday when there’s a dance that neither of them are attending. They were supposed to go to Seattle but end up deciding not to do so. Seriously, who needs to watch The Wire when Meyer is serving up gripping plot points like these?

Anyway, the day before Bella and Edward’s first real date, Bella feels rightfully afraid about the whole He might murder me thing. She assures herself that Edward wants her to be safe—so much so that he broke into her house to get the keys to her truck so she wouldn’t have to walk home from school alone. After all, everyone knows that if your boyfriend will commit a B&E on your behalf, he most definitely would never murder you.

After cooking up that bit of questionable logic, Bella thinks this:

Besides, since coming to Forks, it really seemed like my life was about him.

Yes, Bella. Through no fault of your own, your entire life has been about Edward since you arrived in Forks. It’s not like you have been ignoring the many, many humans who seem quite interested in being friends with you. It’s not like you can’t go a page without ogling Edward so much that I feel like the boy should file for sexual harassment.

Your life is about Edward because you make it about Edward, Bella. So unless you’re gonna go all meta on us and start blaming Stephenie Meyer, you can’t put the blame for that on anyone but yourself. And you definitely can’t use it as one of your reasons to justify going off alone to an unknown location with a guy who’s made it abundantly clear that he might try to kill you when you get there.

Edward’s reaction to the fact that no one—not Bella’s father or friends—knows that Bella is out with Edward makes me like him a lot more:

“Are you so depressed by Forks that it’s made you suicidal?” he demanded when I ignored him.

“You said it might cause trouble for you … us being together publicly,” I reminded him.

“So you’re worried about the trouble it might cause me if you don’t come home?” His voice was still angry, and bitingly sarcastic.

Damn straight, Edward! That bitch is crazy. Why do you like her so much, again?

Actually, I totally get what Edward sees in Bella: She’s hot, and he can’t hear her thoughts. That’s really enough. Imagine, for a moment, that you have spent a century reading the thoughts of everyone around you. Then, suddenly, you meet a chick whose mind you can’t read and whose face also does not look like an ass. You would fall in love with this lady by default. No matter how boring she actually is, this chick would seem like the most interesting, mysterious person in the world to you.

So you could say I was feeling a bit more sympathetic toward Edward than usual. But then this happened:

He turned then, with a mocking smile, and I stifled a gasp. His white shirt was sleeveless, and he wore it unbuttoned, so that the smooth white skin of his throat flowed uninterrupted over the marble contours of his chest, his perfect musculature no longer merely hinted at behind concealing clothes.

They’re going hiking. What guy, in the history of the world, has ever worn a button-down sleeveless shirt unbuttoned to go hiking?

Real hiking is nowhere near that sexy.

You might expect otherwise, but the sight of Edward’s beautiful vampire-chest sends Bella into an instant depression:

He was too perfect, I realized with a piercing stab of despair. There was no way this godlike creature could be meant for me.

Bella, Edward is walking around in a sleeveless, unbuttoned shirt for no reason. I’m gonna go ahead and guess that he likes you (and possibly also doesn’t understand proper hiking attire). Still, Bella spends the next few pages being all “Woe is me, my boyfriend is beautiful.” By the time she said this…

I tried to keep my eyes away from his perfection as much as possible, but I slipped often. Each time, his beauty pierced me through with sadness.

…I had started doodling again from boredom:

I originally thought I would be done with this book in four posts, max. But I greatly underestimated how little time I would have for non-work reading. Since I started reading Twilight I have read five books for work, and also half of Dune while I was on vacation. So basically I’ve read about nine books.

What do you say, guys? Are you up for a few more posts of Twilight adventures? (Say no, please say no. Then I won’t have to finish.)

Read Part Six here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Short Post and a Song #15: I've also been known to diagnose myself with lupus on occasion (even though we all know it's NEVER lupus).

I have vampire-pale skin and bruise extremely easily, so this happens roughly three times a day:

(Notices a bruise on my leg) I don't remember where I got this. That bruise looks bad—how could I not remember getting it? Is it cancer? Oh God, is it CANCER? I’m only twenty-four. I can’t have cancer. What am I saying? I’ve always had a weak immune system, eat shit, and never exercise. I could TOTALLY have cancer.

(Roughly five minutes of mental panic, sometime during which I begin to run out of steam)

Eh … it’s PROBABLY not cancer.

(Shrugs and eats a bag of potato chips)


"Valerie" by Amy Winehouse

In this age of over-overproducing, Amy Winehouse was able to sing like that with no digital enhancement whatsoever. While sitting down. Fun singing fact—it’s much harder to do while sitting because using your diaphragm to breathe becomes about twice as difficult. Bet you’re all feeling super sad about Amy Winehouse and the state of the music industry now, huh?

You’re welcome.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why "Charley Horse" is the Worst Name for a Muscle Spasm EVER

The Dan Before Time and I both woke up when we heard what sounded remarkably like several gunshots last night. 

I like to think that we were mistaken, but to tell the truth it is entirely possible that gunshots were exactly what we heard. My neighborhood is a bit strange, you see. You walk one direction and it looks like Edith Wharton herself designed this patch of Brooklyn. But if you walk the other way everything starts to look a bit more like that Rape Boulevard Bella wanders onto in Twilight.

Apparently the universe decided it wasn't bad enough for me to be rudely awoken by possible death happening outside my window at three in the morning. Because about a minute after I woke up, I got a terrible Charley Horse in my calf.

It was probably not an awesome moment for Oscillating Dan either—one second he heard gunshots and the next his girlfriend was writhing around on the bed, screaming incoherently. He asked me repeatedly what was wrong but it was a few minutes until I could even utter the words "Charley Horse" through gritted teeth.

Now, about six hours later, I know what I should really be concerned about is what the hell happened outside my apartment building last night. But all I can think about is how infuriatingly named Charley Horses are. These are extremely painful muscle cramps and/or spasms. They should not be called a name that would be right at home on a children’s cartoon about barnyard animals.

Charley Horse: Hey there, boys and girls! Today we’re gonna learn how to count to ten, and I’m also going to rip up the inside of your leg like some kind of demonic paper shredder! It’ll be a hoot and a half!

And then, of course, Hooty the Owl would hoot because that’s what he always does when Charley Horse utters the magic catchphrase.

These muscle spasms are horrible enough. The childish name we must call them when explaining our ailment to others just makes them so much worse. So I’m calling for an official end to the term “Charley Horse.” I have a few suggestions for replacements, but please feel free to add your own in the comments:

“Fiery Deathgasm”

"Lava Legs"

“This is what really happens when your stupid kid steps on a crack”

“Freddy Krueger of the Leg”

I may be able to do fuck-all about gun control in my neighborhood. But this. This is a problem we can solve. C’mon, commenters. Let’s change the world—one Fiery Deathgasm at a time.