Monthly Archives: February 2009

Danse Macabre

So, here’s a possibly interesting tidbit about Danse Macabre. When I first knew of its existence in hardback, I wasn’t yet halfway through the series, and it looked like a lot of change was in store ahead. Anita was going from a zombie animator and vampire killer and unofficial detective to federal marshal? Cool beans! Pregnancy scare? Sure, fair enough, she’s got a boyfriend and maybe a second one. This would have been 2006, I guess?

Also, that probably wasn’t interesting at all, but it was pretty much the only thing I could think of to type that wouldn’t be dripping with vitriol, and it seems fair to give my readers a safe haven wherein they can decide to not keep going.

Because, Jesus God, this is a fucking terrible book. It spans 48 hours leading up to a vampire ballet performance, which latter part might have been pretty cool to watch, I guess? It was ten of the maybe fifteen pages where I didn’t want to claw my eyes out of my head while reading it, anyway, so I can’t help but look upon the scene fondly, y’know? In the meantime, there are these five hundred pages spanning these 48 hours, in which nothing of any interest happens. Anita might be pregnant, and she’s going to be sure to be strong about it except for fighting with all of her friends, or maybe that should be the definition of strength instead of an exception. But she also just might carry a bunch of impossible virii and be way stronger than anyone yet suspects, instead of being pregnant. All those Master Vampires they’ve invited to town for the ballet might have been a bad scary idea that will destroy their lives, or maybe they’ll gain all kinds of new power by having giant vampire orgies instead. She’ll certainly have to manage the expectations and feelings of her myriad emotionally crippled boyfriends, sure the normal ones like Richard and Nathaniel and Jason, but let’s not forget all the awesome non-names we can throw around, like Haven or Wicked or Truth or London or Asher or for fuck’s sake Requiem! And as if that weren’t bad enough, the Master of Chicago is named Augustine, which would be like a breath of fresh air except that he’s older than perennial fan favorite Jean Claude, and yet everyone calls him Auggie. AUGGIE!!!!

It’s like… well, I know I’ve mentioned Mary Sue before, but to sum up right quick, Mary Sue is a character in Star Trek fan fiction from probably the ’70s, who was written as a stand-in for the author, and she shows up every main character you’ve heard of on the Enterprise, she’s the one person with all the special skills and talents to save the day, plus pretty much everyone wants her in the worst way. It’s not that Anita Blake is a Mary Sue kind of character. It’s not THAT SIMPLE. It’s like, in these last few books, Anita Blake is the character that the original fictional Mary Sue would have written, if she herself were an author in addition to her many space-faring talents.

The worst part? I actually finished the book. I don’t exactly know how. I mean, at the beginning, I wasn’t angry, I just wanted to quit because it was so unpleasant. But it felt at that point like I was having an unfair personal reaction to some story elements, so I persevered. Eventually the relief of that part of the plot fading out of prominence got me through the interminable middle section in a bull-rush. And by the time I realized that every time I read more than a page at a sitting, I got angry, I was a) almost finished and b) didn’t have access to the next book I wanted to read. And by the time I solved that problem, I was really almost finished, and the old idiotic completionism had kicked in. But, seriously, I think I accidentally got a little drunk on Wednesday night because I was reading, and if I couldn’t focus on the book, I wouldn’t have to read anymore. I don’t so much no longer care about these characters as I sincerely want them all to die in a fire. And I’m in the unique position of being able to make that happen. But it seems like I shouldn’t?

Anyway. Here’s what does happen: Anita gets threatened in dreams by the First Evil, or the Queen of the Damned, or someone like that. The Mother of Night, there we go. Anyway, she’s the very first vampire, and she’s been waking up gradually for a few books now. And then later, Anita talks to a guy who was made a vampire by that one chick, and who might be the Arthurian Merlin instead of just a vampire with a similar name, and who is certainly the first dude in a long time that might be more powerful than our merry band of sex-starved heroes. Which might matter, except he wants to sign on with them instead of oppose them? I guess I just ruined the book, but if I can tell you every single plot event that occurred in only two-ish sentences, it may just be that someone else ruined the book first.

God! I can’t stop being pissed off about this!

And all the fucking horrible verbal tics! “That wonderful Gallic shrug that meant everything or nothing.” “[This or that sexual pecadillo] just flat did it for me.” The repetition between thought and action, along the lines of, say, someone asks a question, then our author types, “I didn’t know the answer to that. ‘I don’t know the answer to that,’ I said.” I mean, the first few and others that I thankfully can’t recall offhand, there’s no reason for you to read them and understand how, after a dozen books of the same phrases over and over again, I am boiling with fury at the memory. But that last repetition thing? Who is possibly allowed to write like that?!

Okay. Okay. I’m stopping now. Fuck!

Push (2009)

You know what’s cool? There are just so many movies right now that have science fiction and/or superhero themes going. And it’s much like the present horror renaissance, in that so many genre films coming down the pipe means a lot of them will be not so good. But the whole point of that is that you inevitably end up with the real gems now and again. Which brings us to Push, which in all honesty looked from the previews like someone had watched Jumper and said to themselves, hey, I can make that movie too!

And, okay, instead of teleporters and evil paladins, they have telekinetics and future-drawers and mind controllers and a whole host of additional powered people, plus the U.S. government and the Triads. And they all run around Hong Kong, trying to find a drug that the consistently-talented Dakota Fanning’s mom says will bring down the feds. Who are kind of evil, maybe? But not as bad as the Triads.

Here’s the thing. It has plot holes you could drive a truck through, and it is at core a little bit silly. But it was damn fun! And it had drunk Dakota Fanning! I’m pretty sure that in the next five to ten years, she is going to be an incredible actress, and good for her. And ultimately, I kind of figure that whoever made Push was basically making Jumper again. What I forgot to consider until the movie made me realize it is that it’s possible to make Jumper again, but to make a good version. And that is pretty much what this was. Yay, that.

Black Hawk Down

First Netflix movie in quite a while, I am thinking! I’ve been watching some TV there, so that’s part of why, but certainly my extremely slow usage rate is involved as well. I’m so glad there are now lots of streaming options, as it makes my membership almost valid again, monetarily. Anyhow, what I saw was Black Hawk Down, the moderately (and perhaps excessively) true story of a peace-keeping mission in Somalia in 1993 that went entirely pear-shaped.

And, you know, it was in no particular way a bad movie. It’s chock-full of actors that have since gone on to be awesome, plus several more who already were. It was pretty damn dramatic, and tense and actiony with all the shooting and the explosions and the certain death lurking around every corner, and, y’know, that was the problem. I went ahead and watched it because I had it, and I couldn’t guarantee things would change anytime soon, but I was just not in the mood for a story about tragic, hopeless odds, and the non-overcoming of adversity. Heroism galore, yes, but it still left me entirely depressed, and that was with realizing I wasn’t in the mood for it and doing internet stuff at the same time instead of focusing my full attention.

In the unlikely event that I see it again and (more importantly) am ready to see it, I’ll try this review again, because it’s just completely unfair as presented.

Tales of the Vampires

Back when Buffy and Angel were over and nobody had yet realized that they could continue the show via comics, Joss Whedon and some of his close writer friends got together to write up some ancillary material and dump it into a few graphic novels. One such outcome is Tales of the Vampires, in which an agreeable connective story (about a vampire who is, um, telling some tales about vampire-kind to some young Watchers-in-training) surrounds a reasonably high number of micro-stories that vary between so-so and surprisingly clever. As you’d expect, the Whedon-penned connective story is the best, with Jane Espenson’s entries an easy second choice. The art, as usual for old-style Buffy comics, isn’t really to my taste, but it’s never really that bad either. Mostly, though, it reminds me I should really ought to catch up on the monthly Buffy shipments I’ve been getting.

Ultimate Fantastic Four: Devils

In Devils, the Fantastic Four once again tangle with their first enemy, the Mole Man, an event which might turn out to have unintended and far-reaching consequences. I’m not really sure I trust the storyline to go anywhere, though, since it was part of an annual, which issues tend to be further than usual outside the main story arc of any Marvel comic I’ve read. (On the bright side, they are never completely separated from it, either, which still keeps them ahead of my expectations.)

But then they tangled with a Renaissance alchemist called Diablo. And a lot of other alchemists who were less evil but also had a lot of magical powers nevertheless. So, apparently, there’s magic in the Ultimate universe, not just lots of freaky science accidents. I guess I’m less okay with this than I expected, and probably because it’s taken so long to appear. Still, it’s a comic, and I’ll get over it here soon. More disconcerting was how containedly episodic the entire sequence felt. I won’t really know if I’m wrong about that for quite a while, but it might be worse if I am, since it really wouldn’t make any sense to dig the storyline up again, so solidly was it concluded.

Well, okay, there was one reasonably cool loose end. And time travel, which is always fun, even when there are no apparent consequences.