Tag Archives: existential angst

Guilty Pleasures

My current book is kind of vampire porn. Less self-absorbed than an Anne Rice offering, less explicit than Vampire Vixens, the first Anita Blake novel is of the approximate quality of a decent Buffy novelization but rated PG-13 for adult themes. (So, a lot like Season 6, except for the part where Buffy novelizations are, as a rule, trashy.) The thing is, I heard that it turns into a real train wreck somewhere down the line, plus I have a soft spot for the undead as entertainment. So, here I am.

In an alternate 1990s where our hero raises zombies for a living, vampires are lobbying for the right to vote, and bachelorette parties can be held at the vampire strip club Guilty Pleasures, it’s easy to be jaded. But even an ex- vampire hunter can be caught by surprise when the police and the city’s master bloodsucker both want her to find a criminal who has been murdering very powerful vampires.

Will vampires be slain? Will there be existential angst? Will there be a variety of possible love interests? Will our heroine have skills that are incongruous with her appearance, thus causing people to constantly underestimate her? All this, and a promise of more zombies to come in future books. So that’s alright, then.

Door to Alternity

If you’re in any way interesting, you don’t remember that I read the first book of a Buffy/Angel crossover trilogy in December (at least, not before I reminded you just now), because you’ve had other, better things on your mind. Like, say, tax season, or how the Iraqi election contributes to the stability of that region.

A few days ago, I finished reading the equally engrossing second book of the Unseen trilogy, Door to Alternity. (As before, there are inevitable spoilers through the first several seasons of Buffy, so stop now if you want to avoid them.) Much as The Burning had lots of fire, this book has lots of doors to alternities. (An alternity, sensibly, is an alternate reality but without so many syllables.) The third of the trilogy combines the thrilling danger of randomly appearing monsters swarming over Sunnydale, teens (disaffected and affected alike) disappearing into glowing portals all over LA, and a turf war between Mexican street gangs and the Russian Mafiya. (As you can see, only a couple of key changes have occurred in the greater Southern California area in the ten years since the events chronicled in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.) Against this thrillingly dangerous backdrop, the authors have included the kinds of Buffy tropes you’d expect of a Scooby gang frozen in emotional time for the summer: Xander and Anya sure do talk about and have lots of sex, Buffy, Riley, and Angel sure do spend a lot of angsty thought over their non-existent triangle, and Spike sure does want that chip out of his head.

It was approximately three months between when I read the first book and the second. By comparison, it was approximately two months between when the two books were released. I can’t say I know they were written two months apart as a result of that publication spacing, but I also can’t say I’d be surprised to learn that it was so.

Shaun of the Dead

mv5bmtu2nja0ndk0nv5bml5banbnxkftztcwota0otqzmw-_v1_sy1000_cr006211000_al_Back some time ago, one of my first ex- girlfriends returned to Dallas after a few years’ stint in the Air Force and being married and then divorced. Because of how badly her current life sucked, she was looking to reconnect with elements of her previous life, and I was one of the addressees on that particular email. Then, because of how lazy I am with email, about a year went by. But I found myself unexpectedly in Dallas yesterday, so we got together for a movie and a catching up.

The thing about her is, she really wanted to get married, back in the day. I say this not out of a sense of disgruntlement or even armchair psychology, but by simple math. She was married, at age 18 and mere moments after high school graduation, about 10 months after she broke up with me (who wanted to get through college first). I know all of this seems dreadfully pointless, but I like to set a good background.

Anyway, after making me promise to give her veto power if I picked a chick flick, we settled on Shaun of the Dead. This is the story of me. Well, okay, it’s not, and I’m very bitter about it, because it should be the story of me. It is pretty much dead on with how I imagine that my life is going, and how it ought to go.

Shaun is 29, has a go nowhere job, and spends the rest of his life commuting back and forth with other dead-eyed Brits, playing video games with his roommates, and taking his girlfriend to the same pub every night. As girls in movies are wont to do, she gets fed up and asks for a change, which he flubs as hopeless 20-something slackers in movies are wont to do, and then she dumps him. This is well-trodden cinema fare.

But then, the lucky bastard wakes up the next morning to find that zombies have taken over the landscape, and it’s up to him to fight them off and gather his loved ones together for safety until everything is back to normal. Herein lies my existential angst. I now have cinematic proof of what I’ve always believed, that every problem in my life would be solved by a handy mass dying off of the population due to zombification and subsequent assault on the living.

So, right, the review. It was really funny. A bit gory. A couple of jump in your seat scares. Plus the whole theme they had going where it was impossible to tell that anything happened at first because the dead-eyed zombies were an exact match for the dead-eyed Brits. Good stuff. Most people don’t get ‘zombies as social commentary’ right, but this one does the job. Better movie than the Resident Evils, even without any shoulder-mounted rocket launchers.

Although the movie was great, it’s not really the best part of the story. No, that came early in the zombie onslaught, when Shaun picks up the phone to call his girlfiend and gets a busy signal. “She’s engaged,” he reports to his roommate, who replies “That seems a bit fast, doesn’t it?” Even as Shaun glared at him for making a joke at a time like that, I was awash in schadenfreude sitting there next to Kim, sharing a popcorn. I don’t think she noticed, though.