Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Hey everyone!

It's been a little while since my last post! Boy where does the time go? I can't really give any good excuses because...well I can't.

And yet don't we all suffer from this? This horrible contradiction of joys and pains that causes us to spend the littlest time on the thing we love most to do? For me it's writing. I love, love, love to write. I used to spend hours non-stop writing, plugged into my music, chugging out image after image, working on characters, always amazed and delighted to see what came next. It earned me a typing speed of 98 words per minute. Well, and also some stories, you know, that too.

Yet these days it seems harder and harder to find the time. And not only the time, but the energy. I think you all know what I mean-- you work excruciatingly hard to give yourself a little free time later in the day (or in the week if your schedule is anything like mine!!) but by the time you get to that couple of hours of liberty...you're completely and utterly wiped. You don't want to think about anything, not even the thing you love to do. Because writing is hard work! It takes brain cells and stuff! And where did those brain cells and stuff go? Straight into the project, assignment, work shift, moving muscles to stay standing business. We're so exhausted that after doing all of the things we have to do each day, at the end we just want to stare mindlessly at the TV/computer/fish tank or collapse straight into bed. We don't want to expend one more ounce of energy in the exercising of our minds.

A sad, true, and puzzling dilemma. I certainly don't have an answer for it yet. My answer is to wait until you have a long enough break that you can spend a good two to two and a half weeks completely vegging and then yank your detoxed brain out of the jacuzzi for some productivity that is creative and worth something to our muses (which, face it, bagging groceries for $8.00 an hour or solving probability equations don't quite cut it). I had this last week off-- except for one homework assignment that I didn't begin until a day before the break was over, I had nothing to do. Well, some chores and lists and to dos. Some emails, visits, future planning, studying...wait, what happened to that having nothing to do? Er....well anyway! Spent enough time vegging and reading and cooking that I felt, at the end of it all, marginally revitalized. It wasn't long enough though. One week out of the prior 9? Hmmm...something here seems uneven! But unfortunately that's the reality of life, and I'm told it only gets worse from here.

BUT when school has finally ended, even though my mind will be occupied with *new* highly stressful things, like a full-time job, paying bills, etc. and so forth and all that that implies...I will no longer be required to memorize probability equations, soliloquize on philosophical topics I really couldn't be less interested in, or memorize mounds of information to spit back on this essay or that exam. No more summer vacation? No more weeks and weeks of classes building up to one final explosion. I think it evens out a bit.

But we'll see, won't we? Me, I plan to be fully and thoroughly pleased when I graduate and get my first full-time job. And my spare time will not be engaged in searching for a job, working on my internship cover letters, hoping my GPA and volunteering is enough to get me a job, or studying for my classes forever and on end. I will be writing, for me. Me me me!!!

But until then, the majority of my writing will be at the whims of my tapioca brain. Should the spur come between now and the summer, then hoorah for the muse! If not, though, for now I've bowed down the to pressure of the student's life and will wait patiently to do some real literary damage over the long months I am given to recover.

One last thought....I find it odd and sinister that we have to have three months out of the year to 'recover' from school...............................recover, as in from damage...*eerie music* Spoooooooky.....and not at all surprising to any student past the high school level.

Next post I will be exploring the joys and hysteria (I meant hysterics! Really! Truly! Why are you laughing?) of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams. We will discuss the 42 ways to mix a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.

Yes. That makes sense.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Anne Rice-- Not What It Seemed...

Hello everyone!

Sorry it's been such a long time. Things have been crazy in multiple ways over here, but I'm taking this tiny break in my hectic-ness to sit down and take a deep breath. Hooray literature-- it keeps those air ways open!

Today's subject: vampires.

You know...I've never been *really* into vampires. As with my relationship with many mythical creatures, I prefer the ancient as opposed to the modern interpretations. No sparkling for me. For me, vampires burst into flame or char into ash when exposed to sunlight. Or they do something else equally life-ending; maybe their blood turns into stone or their bodies dissolve. Either way. They're certainly not always pretty boys, though we won't rule that option out. To me the ideal vampire is ethereal, strong, dark, quiet or flamboyant depending on how immortality has twisted him...but they aren't...they aren't Edward Cullen, ok? They live for eternity and they spend that eternity in darkness preying on what they once were: you'd be a bit messed up in the head too. In fact, I think the best vampires are a bit insane. I sure would be. Can you imagine drinking blood? Mmm...yummy....?

My favorite book where vampires make their cool mark is Wildwood Dancing by Patricia A. McKillip. They are dark, quiet, sultry, but calculating and incredibly emotionless beneath their alluring exterior, which, though very deep, is only slightly erotic. No ridiculous leather, my friends. I can understand wanting to look enticing in order to lure your prey, but that hook doesn't work for every kind of fish. And really, if you think about it, what immortal creature would spend that much time in such a ridiculous get up? If I were immortal, you can bet that after a while I just wouldn't care what I looked like anymore. I'd probably spend most of my time in loose fitting renaissance pants and a t-shirt. Anyway, I found the vampires in Wildwood Dancing to be mostly sardonic and softly fierce in nature. They were velvety, to be sure, and a bit seductive, but they kept themselves to themselves. In essence, they were believable, even for fantasy.

Another good example of excellently executed vampires is in the Japanese movie Moon Child, directed by Takahisa Zeze. The vampire Kei is found by Shou, a young street child trying to stave off death and starvation through theft, accompanied by his friend and brother. After being taken in by Shou, the vampire raises the children and teaches them how to survive in the violent, gang-filled world of Malepa. The bond between Kei and Shou is incredible, just like what you would expect of a muddled father-son, brother-brother, friend-friend relationship. In Moon Child the vampires remain real people despite their immortality and blood lust. They are the most realistic portayal of what vampires may be if they really existed: tired, sarcastic, weighed down with their own cares and worries, and subject to depression. I mean, if you were to watch all of your friends, family, and anyone you ever knew grow up and die time and time again, you'd be pretty depressed too.

Anyway, this all started with me because I had a dream during the winter holidays about vampires. A family member encouraged me to write it down into a story form, and so I did. Turned out to be a great hit. Who'd have known-- definitely not me! But after reading it, a good friend bestowed me with "Interview with the Vampire" by Anne Rice in order to give me another interpretation of vampires to add to my repertoire and just for the fun of it.

Anne Rice for me falls under the same category as Stephen King: they're recipe writers. They know what's good and they stick to it. Now that in and of itself isn't so bad-- it's a lot like type-casting with actors and actresses. Sometimes we mourn it and would like to see something new and different from our favorite artisans, but in the end what they're good at is essentially what they're good at. They just have to be careful of falling into those ever present 'self-cliches'. Stephen King I think does this more than Anne Rice, for I have found "Interview" to be a lot more entertaining than I thought it would have been.

It doesn't read like the world's best novel or like a piece of chocolate cake. But still I find myself flipping so slowly through the pages that it feels like a world has gone by when I come to the end of a chapter. And yet I cannot stop flipping those pages. Each one is weighted with the world of the vampires, filled with such description and meat that it takes some great strength to get through each page. And yet, still, it is 'easy' reading. I don't know how Rice does this. Perhaps that's why she's sold so many books. But this book is inexorably drawing me further and further into the story, and I found myself the other day even contemplating reading another one of her books once I'm done with my list of books to complete! Shocking!

There are some awkward parts, I think, that simply come from the challenge of writing in first person with transitions to third, as well as from the simplicity of the form. But the tale of Louis, Lestat, and Claudia is engaging from the first page to, I'm sure, the last. I have not yet finished it, but I'm pretty sure it will be.  The characters are believing and engaging: each has his or her own faults, banishing the horrible cliche of perfect, incorruptibly smooth creatures of the night. Louis has the tendency to being a worrier, a coward, and overly sensitive. Lestat is ridiculous and foppish at times, comes across as not very bright, and spends a lot of time convincing himself by convincing others of his power. Claudia is childish in agreement with her body, if not her age, quick to lose her temper, manipulative, and impatient. But don't you see? That adds *depth* to the characters. I wouldn't call them protagonists. They're not the antagonists of the story, but as they are I don't find myself rooting them on at any point. I am instead pulled without knowing it along the deep river that follows their story, for good or ill, just out of the burning curiosity of seeing what happens. And *that* is what makes a good tale.

So, my friends, the moral of this story is: don't judge a book by its cover. Or its author; or its content. A vampire story can still make great reading despite the rush and drivel of today's vampire-obsessed masses. Anne Rice, for all of her infamy and social cliche, is still a good writer. And "Interview with the Vampire" is an intensely deep, thought-provoking story.

Why don't you give it a try? Take a bite, as it were...(see what I did there? Yes, you may laugh or groan now...)

Until next time. Perhaps I will finish "Interview" before I write again. If so, we've got some legends and fairy tales on the way from other parts of the country...