Sunday, September 30, 2012

Short Post and a Song #21: Why I'll never be a cool writer.


Me, every morning: "I'm not ready to be awake yet. I want to finish my dream where … where something COOL was happening. I think. Goddamn it, now I don’t remember what I was dreaming about.”

This is why I will never be one of those cool writers who write books based on their dreams.


~*~*~*~*~


"He Loves and She Loves" by George and Ira Gershwin




I've been a bit hooked on instrumental scores from movies these days. Songs with words can get a bit distracting while I write, and movie scores often pack more of an emotional punch for me. "He Loves and She Loves" is originally from the play Funny Face, but Woody Allen used this instrumental version on the soundtrack of the film Manhattan.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Literate Adult's Return to the Valley of Twilight, Part Eleven: I fell down some stairs.

Read Part One here, Part Two here, and Part Three here, and Part Four here, Part Five here, Part Six here, Part Seven here, Part Eight here, Part Nine here, and Part Ten here.

After over two months, I have finally finished reading Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Why, you might ask, did it take me so goddamn long to read a book targeted at tween girls?

Well, first I would chastise you for your foul language because I am a lady. And then you would call me hypocrite, and you would be right.

Then I would tell you that I read books for a living. I spend my subway rides and weekends reading manuscripts. I’m always reading at least one book for fun, if not two, and work to find time to read them. Twilight cut fun book time in half, and Dune by Frank Herbert happened to be the other book I was reading at the time. If you haven’t read Dune before, let me just tell you that it becomes terribly addicting in its second half and once I reached it, I couldn’t help abandoning Twilight until I had reached the end of Dune.

(I still have several more books to read in the series, which I will get back to as soon as I finish writing this post.)

But now Twilight is over. Bella didn’t die, unfortunately, and we didn’t get to see James die either. Bella did, however, get a broken leg, four broken ribs, some cracks in her skull, tons of bruises, and lost lots of blood—probably because not one, but two vampires bit the fuck out of her hand.

Bella wakes in a hospital room and Edward tells her how the Cullens chose to explain Bella’s injuries to the doctors:


“You fell down two flights of stairs and through a window.”


Yep, they went with the old “fell down some stairs” excuse. That still doesn't explain Bella’s vampire-mangled hand, though. So, really, that story would only work if Bella fell down two flights of stairs and through a window and then got attacked by a ferocious dog with a fetish for attacking hands and nowhere else. But instead Bella’s hand is simply ignored—maybe the doctors think the stairs bit her.



Photobucket
The Cullens should have just said that Bella joined a fight club.


Bella’s injuries were supposedly incurred at a hotel, and Edward assures Bella that Alice has fabricated all the evidence they’ll need to prove this story. Never mind the fact that hotels have security cameras, not to mention employees and guests who would have noticed if a girl fell down two flights of steps and through a fucking window.

Edward kisses Bella and this happens:


He leaned in slowly; the beeping noise [of the heart monitor] accelerated wildly before his lips even touched me. But when they did, though with the most gentle of pressure, the beeping stopped altogether.


A peck on the lips from Edward makes Bella’s heart literally stop beating. That’s just … I can’t even make a joke about it. It’s a joke all on its own—as is this entire book, really.

Bella’s mom shows up and Edward pretends to sleep. Instead of addressing the fact that her seventeen-year-old daughter ran away from Washington to Arizona and is now horribly injured, Bella’s mom all, “Your stepdad and I are moving to Florida—isn’t it awesome? Also your new boyfriend is so cute!” (I’m paraphrasing but not by much.)

Renee’s all excited for Bella to move to Florida but Bella insists that she wants to stay in Forks. Even though she supposedly JUST ran away because of how fucking much she hates Forks. But whatever—all Renee really seems to care about is that Bella’s in looooooove.

In the Epilogue Bella is back in Forks. Alice dressed her up all fancy and Edward is in a tux, and he says he has a surprise for her. Bella’s hoping Edward is planning to turn her into a vampire, because what’s eternity without sunlight, sleep, or food coupled with a dependence on blood to live if you get to have a hot stalker for a boyfriend? But instead he’s taking her to prom.

Bella’s annoyed since she hates dancing and school and humans, but gets over it quickly enough. She studies her classmates while she dances with Edward:


I caught a glimpse of Jessica and Mike dancing, staring at me curiously. Jessica waved, and I smiled back quickly. Angela was there, too, looking blissfully happy in the arms of little Ben Cheney; she didn’t look up from his eyes, a head lower than hers. Lee and Samantha, Lauren, glaring toward us, with Conner; I could name every face that spiraled past me.


Bella’s looking around at these people like she hasn’t spent the previous four-hundred-and-ninety pages ignoring them with all her might. This is the first time half of these people have ever been mentioned—I’m pretty sure Bella is just making their names up.

And so the book ends with Bella really wanting to be made into a vampire, and Edward wanting the opposite of that. Jacob shows up for a minute and it's not important, just like all his other appearances in this book.

And that’s it! It’s finally over! Having finally reached the end, did I ever locate the quality in the book that made me like it so much the first time? No, not really. It’s written better than Fifty Shades of Grey and Bella isn’t quite as stupid or implausible as Ana. But Twilight is still an overlong, tedious story that sells creepy, I’d-kill-myself-if-I-lost-you obsession as true love to teenage girls.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this trip through the valley of Twilight with me. Though reading Twilight again was far from enjoyable on my end, I’m glad I did it. I’m not sure why I liked Twilight the first time around but I’m proud that I seem to have grown out of whatever it was. 

I'll leave you with a crude artistic rendering of the only explanation for Bella's injuries that actually makes sense:




Sunday, September 23, 2012

Short Post and a Song #20: Just call me Jilly the Kid.


My left brown boot has been kind of broken since I received the boots in the mail; its gold buckle jangles with every step I take while the right boot remains silent. Sometimes this annoys me, and sometimes it makes me feel like I'm starring in my own personal Spaghetti Western.


~*~*~*~*~


"Resolution" by Jon Brion




I was so, so impressed by the clay animation in the movie ParaNorman and was equally affected by the film's delightful score. I've been listening to the entire soundtrack a lot while writing and have grown particularly fond of this track. I just love all the places that "Resolution" goes—the xylophones at the beginning, the stunning violins toward the middle, and the plucky bass at the end. If you haven't seen the movie, you need to remedy that problem right away. ParaNorman is funny, terrifying, heart-warming, and makes me wish it had come out when I was still a kid.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Literate Adult's Return to the Valley of Twilight, Part Ten: Apparently stating your exact plan of escape in front of your enemy is the "perfect ploy."

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

When we last left Bella, she was sneaking away from Alice and Jasper so she could go to her mom’s house and call Psycho Vampire James. He says that he’ll kill Bella’s mom if she doesn’t do this. James hasn’t given us any reason to believe he won’t kill Bella’s mom if Bella DOES do this, but I get that Bella has to try just in case she might be able to save her mother. This relating to Bella thing does not feel awesome—I wouldn’t recommend it.

Bella goes to her mom’s house and uses the key hidden under the eave to get inside. I assume that this is how James got into Bella’s mom’s house as well. Back on Page 292, Edward told Bella that he had been sneaking into her house for weeks to watch her sleep (not creepy at all, nope, nope) by using a key that was also hidden under the eave.

I’m going to ignore the fact that an eave is the “overhang at the lower edge of a roof” and would therefore be very difficult to reach without the help of a ladder. There would be fifty of these Twilight posts if I took the time to harp on every little thing that has bothered me in the reading of this book.


Still, here’s a Google search of “hide key under eave.” One top result has to do with musical keys and the other two are about Twilight because hiding keys under eaves is a thing that literally no one does in real life.


All that aside, why in the fuck would you leave a key hidden outside a house where no one is currently living? That’s like saying, “Hey, burglars, come and take all my shit!” Vampires did not have to use any of their sneaky vampire powers to break into either of Bella’s houses—they just took advantage of the fact that neither of her parents seem to understand the idea of home security very well. Stop being so lazy and carry your keys around with you like everyone else, Swan Family.

Bella calls James and he tells her to go the dance studio and it’s all very anticlimactic. Thanks to Alice’s future-telling, we already knew that was where Bella was headed. So narratively speaking, the trip to Bella’s mom’s was pretty pointless.

But now we’ve reached the dance studio and made it back to the prologue at last! Bella finds a TV playing an old home movie of when she was visiting her grandmother for Thanksgiving when she was twelve. Bella leaned too far over the edge of the pier in the video, causing her mother to cry “Bella? Bella?” So basically it turns out that Bella’s mom is still in Florida, and James used this recording of her voice to trick Bella into thinking she’d come back to Phoenix early.

This twist would be good if I could believe any of the steps James must have taken to get there. First of all, how did James know where Renee’s house was? This is not something Bella ever mentioned in her conversation with Charlie. James does make a vague comment about Victoria finding out more about Bella, but how did she do this? When did these vampires even learn Bella’s last name, which would have at least made a Google search possible?

Even if I decide to believe that somehow James knew where to find Bella’s mom’s house, I simply can’t imagine him chilling on her mom’s couch watching home movies and just hoping he might find a clip of Bella’s mom sounding worried. And why in the hell would Bella’s mom keep a video of Bella almost getting hurt anyway? “Aw, Bella, let’s watch that video where you almost died again and get lost in the nostalgia of a more stressful time.”

James launches into his Evil Explanation of his Evil Plan, and I laughed out loud at this:


“…I’d heard you say you were going home. … And wouldn’t it be the perfect ploy, to go the last place you should be when you’re hiding—the place that you said you’d be.”  


Goddamn it, book. Stop acting like Bella is a ninja spy because Bella gave away exactly where she was going when she knew James could hear her. It wasn’t “diabolical,” nor was it the “perfect ploy.” It was stupid, plain and simple.

We learn that James is hoping Edward will want to avenge Bella after James kills her. Edward reminds him of this other vampire that he knew who loved a human in an insane asylum. And holy coincidence, Batman, that human turns out to have been Alice! Everyone thought Alice was insane because she had psychic visions even as a human and James had planned to kill her. But the vampire who loved Alice turned her into a vampire before James could get to her. So James killed her vampire maker instead.

This whole story of a psychic girl in an insane asylum in the 1920s and the vampire orderly who adores her doesn’t sound like a half-bad book to me. Why didn’t Stephenie Meyer write that book, instead of simply inserting the story as a too-coincidental, too-convenient motivation for James to want to kill Bella in this book?

James beats the living shit out of Bella and films it. He plans to leave dead Bella and the video at the studio for Edward and the other Cullens to find. Even I have to admit that this is pretty chilling. James may give teenage Bella way too much credit for her terrible plans, but he does do psycho quite well.

In the midst of being beaten up, Bella passes out. When she wakes up, James is dead and Carlisle is tending to Bella’s many wounds. Bella’s hand is burning because James bit it, so Edward sucks the poison venom out of Bella’s hand and she passes out again.

James wasn’t in this book for long, but he was still Twilight’s only antagonist. His being after Bella drove the only real action that didn’t involve lingering stares and sexual tension. And yet the big climactic fight where Emmett and Jasper kill James happens off screen. Also, even though seven Cullens didn’t manage to kill James back in Forks, suddenly two of them can in Phoenix.

Fuck this book.

I kind of meant for this to be the last Twilight post since I have in fact FINALLY finished the book. But it turns out I still have quite a bit more left to mock in the book’s final chapter and epilogue. So we’ll wrap this book up next week.

In the meantime have a good weekend! Have a drink, have two, and raise your glasses in the honor of the fact that I don’t have to read about sparkly vampires anymore!  

Read Part Eleven here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Literate Adult's Return to the Valley of Twilight, Part Nine: I would watch Room Detective

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

To give those of you who haven’t read Twilight some idea of the pacing of this book, let me first summarize what happens in several weeks, AKA the first 300 pages:


Bella arrives in Forks. Forks rejoices. Bella gets asked out by some dudes but the only one she likes is Edward, even though all he ever talks about is how much he wants to kill her. Bella does poorly in gym class. Edward saves Bella from death-by van. She goes to the beach and Jacob exposits that the Cullens are all vampires. Bella uses the Internet. Edward saves Bella from rape-by-sketchy-dudes in Port Angeles. Edward and Bella plan to go to Seattle this one Saturday when there’s a dance but end up going to a meadow instead. They kiss. Edward spends the night at Bella’s but they don’t bang or even make out because Mormonism.


Now let me run you through everything that happens the very next day after Bella and Edward hang out in the meadow, AKA pages 300-400:


Edward and Bella go to Edward’s house and Bella meets his vampire family. Edward exposits how all the members of his family became vampires. Bella goes home and Billy warns her to stay away from Edward. Edward meets Charlie. Most of the Cullen family plays vamp ball while Esme and Bella make extremely awkward conversation. In the middle of the game, three vampire baddies—Laurent, James, and James’ girlfriend, Victoria—show up. Everybody seems to be getting along fine but then some wind blows and the vampires realize that Bella is human. Laurent says his group won’t hunt in the Cullens’ territory, but then Edward, Emmett, and Alice drive away with Bella super fast. Between Edward’s mind-reading and Alice’s future-telling, they know that James wants to kill Bella SO MUCH and will never stop until she is dead, and neither will his girlfriend. Bella goes home and tells Charlie that she has to go back to Phoenix RIGHT THIS SECOND and, miraculously, he allows this. The group goes back to the Cullen house where Laurent is chilling with the other Cullens. Laurent tells the group how dangerous James is and then leaves. Edward and Bella say a tearful goodbye, and then Alice, Jasper, and Bella take off in a Mercedes toward Phoenix.


After three hundred pages of nothing happening, suddenly EVERYTHING happens in a single day. Generally there’s a rising and falling of action in a book—not this sudden flight into space from a plateau.

I will allow some shitty drawings to illustrate:


Good Plots


Twilight Plot


So Edward’s vampire siblings kidnap Bella and take her to Phoenix, where Bella said in James’ presence that she was going as part of her “diabolical” plan. Even though if Bella hadn’t said that, it would have made it MUCH HARDER for James to figure out that she was going to fucking Phoenix. Bella cries on Alice’s “granite” neck and it sounds extremely uncomfortable.

They stay in a hotel and wait for Carlisle to call Alice and report back on the successful killing of James and Victoria. Even though Alice is psychic and would know instantly anyway. Alice sits and waits and draws pictures of dance studios. If she had stayed in Forks, she could have predicted where James and Victoria were going and made the killing of them much, much easier. And Bella and Jasper could’ve hung out with Charlie at Bella’s house, and Jasper could’ve used his powers to manipulate people’s emotions to make Charlie feel okay about everything. And then James would be dead now and this book would be over and I would be reading other things.

Damn it, Alice. Damn it, Carlisle. Damn all of you.

Bella gets to talk to Edward and damn near orgasms on the phone. (Naw, not really. But the Mormon version of that.) Edward tells her that they managed to lose James. (This would not have happened had Alice been there. Okay, I’ll shut up about it now.)

Victoria is back in Forks or something—I don’t know; like Jacob, she doesn’t really matter in this book. Edward says this to console Bella about the fact that there’s a psychotic James on the loose:


“You don’t have to worry, though. He won’t find anything to lead him to you.”


Uh yeah, aside from the fact that James could hear Bella when she said EXACTLY where she was going. I don’t know where James was when Bella was telling Charlie this, by the way. Nor do I believe that at any other point in this book it has been made clear that hearing through walls is a power that vampires in this world possess. But considering the fact that the entire rest of the plot hinges on James being able to hear through walls, I’m going to go ahead and guess that he can.

Alice has visions of James in the dance studio where Bella took classes ten years prior. I took dance classes ten years ago too and I most certainly would not recognize a sketch of the studio where I practiced. Bella, on the other hand, remembers all kinds of shit:


“That’s where the bathrooms were—the doors were through the other dance floor. But the stereo was here”—I pointed to the left corner—“it was older, and there wasn’t a TV. There was a window in the waiting room—you would see the room from this perspective if you looked through it.”


So, kudos, I guess, Bella, on your uncanny memory of random rooms. Maybe you can have a TV show called Room Detective where you solve crimes by recognizing sketches of rooms instead of murder suspects.

Bella worries about her mom and leaves her a message warning her not to go anywhere or do anything until she talks to Bella. Bella leaves this message on the machine at her mother’s house in Phoenix because her mother doesn’t have a permanent phone number on the road.

Bella’s mother is on the road with Bella’s stepdad, who plays baseball (and would thus get on famously with the Cullens). She has a daughter living far away after seventeen years of living in Phoenix together. In the few descriptions we get of Bella’s mother, we learn that she is the type to worry and email repeatedly when she doesn’t hear from Bella for a few hours.

Are we really to believe that Bella’s mother would not have a cell phone with her so that her daughter could reach her without having to bounce a message back to her from Phoenix? This book published in 2006—that was well into the age of cell phones. Bella uses Alice’s fucking cell phone to call her mother.

Edward decides to come to Phoenix on a plane (he can do that, apparently, while Bella and Co. had to drive for days, but whatevs) and Alice and Jasper plan to meet him at the airport.

Alice’s next drawing presents Bella with a legitimately heart-wrenching conundrum, or what would be one if the steps to get us there hadn’t been so contrived: Alice draws Bella’s mother’s house. This means that at some point, James will be there.

Then Alice’s cell phone rings and she gives it to Bella. Bella hears her mother’s voice saying “Bella? Bella?” and then James comes on the line and tells Bella that her mother came home early. (Charlie mentioned that Renee was due home in a week when Bella left.) James says he’ll kill her mother if Bella doesn’t get away from Alice and Jasper and sneak to her mother’s house so that she can call James and he can tell her to go somewhere else (the dance studio). James warns that if Bella brings anyone with her, he’ll know and he’ll kill her mom.

I’ve got to admit that this is a relatably shitty situation. Bella knows James could kill her mom in, like, a second if Bella sends one of her vampire friends in to rescue her. On some level she knows that she probably won’t be able to do anything to stop James from hurting her mother, but Bella has to try just in case this might save her.

So Bella leaves an extremely melodramatic letter for Edward in which she apologizes for the millionth time how this whole situation is her fault, when it’s really not. James is a crazy fuck who happens to get off on the idea of hunting humans that vampires love, Bella. Like rape-by-sketchy-dudes and death-by-van before it, this is a senseless thing that is out of your control. The way you continuously claim fault for them is exhausting. Just scream, “I’m being SELFLESS,” and you will be less obvious.

Bella tells Alice to give the letter to her mom. I know Bella’s assuming that her mom will be at the dance studio but still laughed at the thought of Bella’s mother reading:


Don’t be angry with Alice and Jasper. If I get away from them it will be a miracle.


Then Bella loses Alice and Jasper in the airport, goes home, and heads to the dance studio alone without any weapons. Sweet, simple Bella.

Read Part Ten here.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Short Post and a Song #19: The Trar


The Trar


SpiderDan and I were on our way to dinner last night when we spotted this glorious automobile. It is a mullet in car form: Business in the front, hillbilly pickup truck in the back.


~*~*~*~*~


"The Infanta" by The Decemberists




There's not a whole lot to be said here. This is just a really good fucking song. So good, in fact, that it was deemed awesome enough to be used in one of the best montages in one of the best shows on television.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Labyrinth

So you extra-observant Velocininjas may have noticed that I took the synopsis of Moorhouse down from the Books page. Don’t worry; I’m not giving up on the book or any such nonsense. Quite the opposite, in fact.

I did take a bit of a break from writing the book for a few months. I'll admit that I was intimidated. Originally this was a story I imagined writing after I had already written many, many others and was a weathered veteran with a lifetime’s worth of experience at my disposal. At twenty-four, I just didn’t feel ready. But after months of feeling scared that my writing skills weren’t up to the task, I decided to simply get on with it. This is a story that I never stopped thinking about, and I knew it would haunt me until I wrote it all down.

I’ve since done heaps of terrible sketches (some of which you’ve seen) and made playlists for each of my main characters. I made notes across four or five different notebooks—not because I filled the notebooks, but because I tend to settle for the closest writing surface available to me when I happen upon some new facet of my book’s world.

I recently went back to writing the actual book and it’s going quite well. But as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not using an outline to guide my way on this one. I know where I want the story to end up, but I’m discovering the twists and turns of the journey there as I write. As I wander through the labyrinth of writing this book, it’s felt strange having a synopsis posted on the blog. Putting a synopsis on this blog makes it seem like Moorhouse is this fully formed sculpture when in fact I’m still chiseling away at the stone.

Whew, I haven't stayed serious for that many paragraphs on this blog in a long time. I’ll make up for it next week when you will be getting not just one, but two straight posts of Twilight adventures. After two long months, we’re finally finishing this book. Maybe Bella will die in the end!!

(Naw, we all know she’s not going to die. I can dream, though.) 

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Plight of the Decorative Towel




I’m so sorry, buddy. The way your owner oppresses you is criminal, amoral, and downright unconstitutional.

I know what you want. You want what all towels want. What they need.

You want to dry wet things.

That is what you were born to do. And by God, it is your right to fulfill your life’s purpose.

Instead you toil on the rack beside your brothers and sisters. You watch person after person wash their hands at the sink. You watch their hands bathe in that glorious water and hope that maybe, just once, that someone will find it in their hearts to share their water with you.

But no one ever does. Instead these people search around the bathroom for Ugly Cousin Alvin. Ugly Cousin Alvin is the only towel your owner deemed suitable to dry wet hands.

The only time you’re ever even touched is when your owner fluffs you up and mumbles something about how “pretty” you are.

You are worth so much more than your looks, Decorative Towel. I hope that you know that. You could absorb moisture and aid people in the process of washing their hands with the best of ‘em.

If only you could. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Short Post and a Song #18: Squirrels Are Everywhere


On my way back from my morning coffee run, I saw a young boy and his father standing in the middle of the sidewalk. The boy looked plainly terrified and his dad was trying to comfort him. When I passed by, I overheard this exchange:


Dad: I don't think there are many squirrels around here, bud. I think we're safe.

Son: We're NOT! Squirrels are everywhere.



~*~*~*~*~


"Jack's Lament" by Danny Elfman




Danny Elfman composed the music AND did all of Jack Skellington's singing in The Nightmare Before Christmas, forever cementing his place in history as Musical Badass Extraordinaire. The entire soundtrack is on my WIP's playlist and the sadness of this song goes straight to my heartstrings each time it plays. The clay animation in this clip is also just stunning. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Beautiful vs. Homeless: The Haircut Gender Divide

I was supposed to get a haircut several months ago and ended up having to cancel the appointment. Instead of promptly scheduling another appointment like a responsible adult, I've simply chosen to indefinitely ignore the fact that I need a haircut. At this point my frustration with my split-ended locks is finally beginning to outweigh my extreme laziness, and I don't expect I'll be counting myself amongst the hippie-haired for much longer. 

It astounds me that I've managed to go this long without anyone (except me, in my head) telling me that I need a haircut. Dango Starr can barely go a few weeks without everyone around him pelting him with phrases like "Get a haircut" and "Seriously, get a haircut, bro" and "You look like Screech from Saved by the Bell." 

These months of non hair-shearing have gone very differently for me. Not only have I not been told to get a haircut—I have been excessively complimented on how long my hair has gotten. These people seem visibly upset when I inform them that I hate this rat's nest and plan to have it hacked off at my earliest opportunity. Their puppy dog eyes well up and they cry, "But, but, it's so PRETTY."

I don't think this is so much about the fact that I look better between haircuts than Danbacca (though I'm sure that's a factor). I think it's more of a gender thing. Just look at the evidence.


Evidence

This is the reaction girls get when they wait too long to get their hair cut:




This, on the other hand, is the reaction that guys get when they do the same thing:




Girls get complimented on super-long hair, even if it's just as gross and scruffy as a dude's mullet. This appears to be one of those times when women come out on top of the gender divide. Enjoy it, ladies! You may have to shave your legs every goddamned day, but you can let your hair grow to the floor! 

And guys—I don't know what you're still doing here. Get yourselves to your barbers, you disgusting vagrants.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Literate Adult's Return to the Valley of Twilight, Part Eight: Kidnapping is never always the answer.

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

And just like that, after nearly 400 hundred pages, this story suddenly has stakes! I’ve only read the first 50 Shades book, but I’m pretty sure that trilogy never gets there. And so E.L. James is bested by Stephenie Meyer once again in the competition of Which of these mega-bestselling books is slightly less awful?

There are some new vampires in town, and one of them has a huge vampire boner for Bella. It’s similar to Edward’s vampire boner for Bella, but this dude James doesn’t also have a heart boner for her like Edward does. So basically James just really, really wants to kill Bella. (You and me both, James. You and me both.)

Edward’s sister, Alice, can predict the future and Edward can hear people’s thoughts, so between the two of them they know that they absolutely have to get Bella the hell up out of Forks, and fast. So Edward forcibly straps Bella into an off-roading harness in his Jeep then proceeds to drive a hundred-and-twenty miles an hour (seriously, think about how fast that is). When Bella insists that Edward take her home, his brother, Emmett, holds Bella’s hands like handcuffs.

Once again, Bella does not respond appropriately to any of this:


“You have to take me back—Charlie will call the FBI! They’ll be all over your family—Carlisle and Esme! They’ll have to leave, to hide forever!”


Damn it, Bella, these people are kidnapping you. Your chief concern should not be the fact that your disappearance will force the Cullens to come out of the vampire closet.

The Cullens explain that Bella can’t go home because James has her scent and will follow it to her house. Then Bella flips out over Charlie’s safety in a way that almost makes me respect her for a second. Bella suggests that she go home, tell Charlie she wants to go back to Phoenix, and they run. Then the tracker will follow them and leave Charlie alone. They decide that Alice and her brother-husband Jasper will go with Bella to Phoenix while the others stay to get James off Bella’s trail.

There are seven Cullens and one James. James does also have a girlfriend, but that is still seven against two. Why can’t the Cullens just kill James now? If they worked together I’m sure they’d be able kill him in no time. And then this family with this HUGE secret that they’re trying to protect wouldn’t have to kidnap a minor and take her across state lines.

Actually I don’t get why the Phoenix part is necessary at all. James is a tracker. He’s going to follow Bella wherever she goes—we know this. Edward points out that when Bella tells Charlie that she’s going back to Phoenix, James will know that’s where she’s going. This is Bella’s “diabolical” (Emmett’s word) response:


“And you’ll make it look like that’s a ruse, obviously. He’ll know that we’ll know that he’s listening. He’ll never believe I’m actually going where I say I’m going.”


Actually, Bella, there’s a good chance he’ll think that you’re going EXACTLY where you say you’re going. Do you really think that James’ll be like “Hmm, this teenage chick says she’s going to Phoenix. But that’s too simple! She must really be going somewhere else and is just trying to trick me, that clever vixen”? No, Bella. This is what James will think: “Hmm, this teenage chick says she’s going to Phoenix. Whelp, I guess it’s time for a road trip to Phoenix!”

Seriously, Cullen family, just kill James now and be done with it.

But I guess that would be kind of anticlimactic. And then I wouldn’t have nearly a hundred more pages to read, and that would obviously be a terrible, horrible tragedy.

(Stupid Cullens, can’t get together for some family vampire murder so that I can get back to reading Dune…)

Bella tells Charlie that she hates Forks so much that she has to leave RIGHT THIS SECOND. She packs all her stuff to go back to Phoenix by herself even though her mother is not there and Bella is a minor. Charlie makes some half-assed attempts to stop her (“Bells, you can’t leave now. It’s nighttime,” he whispered behind me) but then Bella says this:


“Just let me go, Charlie.”


That’s apparently exactly what Bella’s mom said when she left Charlie back when Bella was little. Is it just me or is this … not a string of words that one would remember for fifteen years? It’s not very specific and I highly doubt that’s the only thing Bella’s mom said when she left.

But these five bland words prove Charlie’s undoing and he lets his daughter who (say it with me) IS A MINOR walk out of the house with all her things late at night with the intention of driving all the fucking way to Phoenix.

Here are a few parting Absurd Adverbs for you grammar nerds out there:


I was hideously frightened of the empty yard.


“Hideous” means “causing horror.” It’s completely unnecessary to imply that meaning twice by saying a person is “hideously frightened.” It’s like when Americans say “paninis” and they’re really saying “sanwicheses” in Italian.


“If you didn’t smell so appallingly luscious, he might not have bothered…


First of all, gross. Second, Edward is ONCE AGAIN blaming Bella for something that could in no way possibly be her fault. This time it’s how she smells. THERE’S NOTHING SHE CAN DO, EDWARD. Third, “appalling” means “causing extreme dismay, horror, or revulsion.” Jamming that adverb up against “luscious” makes no sense.


We stood there, the others looking away from me as the tears streaked noiselessly down my face.


Salt water moving down a person’s face doesn’t make noise—crying does. I may be nitpicking at this point but I am so ready to be done with this book.

Read Part Nine here.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Short Post and a Song #17: Stellar Parenting


Once again I'm letting a photo speak in lieu of a real Short Post. I'll get back to writing jokes eventually, maybe. This was taken a few weeks ago in the sculpture garden on Governors Island:






~*~*~*~*~


"Last Nite" by The Strokes





This song randomly came up while I was listening to one of my enormous Grooveshark playlists and it helped me to crack a certain character in my current WIP. Sometimes songs can do that—they help you realize things about your characters that words never could've described. It's also just a super fun song, and difficult not to dance to.