Friday, March 20, 2009

Yes, bought the DVD

... at midnight.

... actually bought two of them. My cara spoza knows why I bought the second one.

Question: can the vampire baseball game go to 14 innings on the DVD please?

Yes, you won't be hearing from me in a while.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Låt den rätte komma in

... or, "Things to do while waiting for your Twilight movie DVD order to come through".

Here's the story. It's a love story. In a town where the sun is forever obscured, a brunette girl moves into town and meets a pale, unearthly boy. Girl gives her heart to boy. Girl shouldn't give her heart to the boy, of course.

Sounds familiar so far?

But in this case, Låt den rätte komma in ("Let the Right (one) (Come) In"), the girl, Eli, is the vampire ("12 years old, more or less" ... more or less by about 200 years), and the boy, Oskar, is just a boy.

And, unlike Twilight, the "standard" vampire rules apply. You know: sunlight being deadly, vamps needing an invitation to komma in your home, etc.

Here's what's compelling about this movie: everything! Eli and Oskar have that sincerely 12-year-old love. They love each other. They love each other. But they don't know it. They're 12-years-old, more or less, so they don't know what "love" is, right? They don't know what "love" feels like. It just feels nice and scary and weird. You know, that feeling, right? It's exactly the feeling you have, being in love.

But they'd do anything for each other.

They love each other.

And, unlike Twilight, Låt den rätte komma in does not flinch from the bald consequences of being a vampire. Eli's thirsty; Eli needs to drink. People die — either on the edge of a knife wielded by her bumbling but earnest father-figure assistant or by her own hands and teeth — people die, that is, ... if they are lucky.

And Oskar has his own troubles. Yes, at school, but his home life, like Bella's, is that of a broken family. But, even though his parents try their best, they are no Renée and Charlie.

Bella was very, very lucky, compared to Oskar. And Oskar's parents are loving and well-intentioned, too.

The horror of this movie is not Eli being a vampire. The horror of this movie is ...

Well, what are you doing? Why are you still reading this entry? Why aren't you at Best Buy buying the DVD or Blockbuster renting it? Just buy or rent the thing: it's money well-invested. Just watch the thing (again, in my case): it's time well-invested.

It's almost an insult to call Låt den rätte komma in a "vampire" movie, because it asks the fundamental questions: what is life? What is love? If it takes a vampire to see you as alive, as a person, to love you completely for what and who you are — unlike all your school "mates" — is she not, then, worthy of your love in return? If she needs you so much that she's willing to kill for you, yes, but she's also willing to die for you, putting her life in your hands, time and again, would you turn away from her, just because she's something she can't help being? But, not only die for you, but do anything: like eat a sweet you bought for her? Even though she knows how very sick she'll get by doing it? Or run away from you when you cut yourself? Or apologize for being so cold as she holds you, because she's forgotten how to be warm?

And why does Eli love you, Oskar? Maybe because you are worthy of being loved? Maybe because you are a nice boy, after all? Sweet, kind, caring, funny ... smart? Thoughtful and alone, but reaching out for something ... for somebody to love? In short, everything the world despises and belittles ... everything beautiful. Everything Eli sees in you, and loves.

Låt den rätte komma in could not have a better title. For Eli and Oskar, two outcasts in a world that's lost its way, have let the right one come in. Eli and Oskar let each other in ... into their hearts.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Decline and Fall of our College Youth

... is Twilight, of course. That is, according to a report by Ron Charles in Sunday's Outlook section (March 8, 2009): "On Campus, Vampires Are Besting the Beats". The gist of the article is that a literary critic, Alice Echols, notes that the reading habits have shifted from the good old days of the beat generation to the bad old days of the Twilight generation.

Now, I was around during that time, and I don't recall them being particularly good nor recall the college youth being particularly different than today's college aged young whipper snappers, but let's leave the ad hominem argument of age aside (meaning, let's leave aside that the age of something determines its goodness or validity) and let's not examine what the ideal kids those days were reading.

Let's look at what kids these days are reading, which according to the article, backed up by sales figures, is Twilight.

Like the lead pipes and coliseums of ancient Rome, Twilight is being blamed for the fall of our great society. Because why? Because it happens to be the current big thing, and because Steph appears to be too sweet to strike back when stung by criticism (or, more often, by slurs or smear campaigns).

So, let's see the danger these books pose to us: the oblivious criticism is that the books are light, uninspired romantic fluff, that does not allow kids to explore their worlds, for, after all, the protagonist is a weak, swooning, codependent girl living in a fantasy world.


Or, perhaps not? How does Bella live?

Does she love the man she's with (which was one motto of the Beat generation)? Despite his failings? Accepting his goodness, as he does not?

Does he treat her with respect? With dignity? That is: as a person and an equal, and not an object? Does he, by his actions, show the men of those 22 million buyers of the Twilight books how to do the same for their true loves? So much so that when I lavish praise on my cara spoza she "complains" that I'm "getting all Edward" on her? — far from being an impossible ideal, as Edward has often been labeled, he's resetting the higher standard of behavior in courtly love!

Back to Bella: is she studious and attentive in school? So much so that she maintains a 4.0 average through personal crisis? Does she never criticize friends or enemies in school? Does she speak up when her friends are put down in the cafeteria?

How does she treat both her parents? Does she love her dad? So much so that she that she watches the TV with him? Does she love her mom? So much so that it comes out in every word as she describes her to Edward? So much so that she'll throw herself into a taxi cab, past two inescapable vampires, to trade her own life for that of her mother?

Does she fight for what's right? In every book, does she throw herself in front of the danger she believes she's created? Even though others willingly, forcefully, assume the protective rôle? Is she strong enough to stand up for herself? Marrying before the sex? Keeping the baby that's killing her? Even though everybody think she's out-to-lunch crazy-stupid for doing those things? Is she strong enough to stand up for what she believes in the face of everyone she loves telling her to do the opposite?

In short, isn't Bella truly the "every-woman"? As it were: a strong, independent woman. Bella's strong enough to be everything for everybody else (well, nobody's that strong, but Bella wins a trophy in my book for trying her hardest), and still have strength left over to be the person she is.

Is this the critique, then? That the Twilight books put forward a character, like Bella, that is not a good rôle for our youth? If that's the case, then here's one Twilight Dad saying: we need more Bellas in the world, not less.

If Twilight is spoiling our youth, then I say, if this be spoilage, read on!

"One Dozen Roses"

There was a contest called the "Eddies and Bellies" (you know: for Edward and Bella ... cute, no? Sigh! I did not invent the name; I'm just reporting it). One of the categories for which one could vote was something like: "Twilight Fan Fiction Story Which Everyone Must Read".

Well, that one has an obvious nominee: One Dozen Roses. As the Swiss would say: mais bien sur! which roughly translates as: "Me, Being Sure!" ... or something like that.

Anyway, everybody: stop what you are doing and go read that story. Come on now, don't just stand there, gaping, go read it.

Have you read it yet? Yes? Good!

Chapter 2 has Bella screaming at the sight of a rose in her bedroom. Well, now, most of you would think Bella would swoon! — not scream — you would think she would scream if it were Rosalie waiting for her in her bedroom.

I cannot agree, and neither could Bella after Rosalie had saved Bella's life for the umpteenth time, but that's neither here nor there for this entry.

What is here for this entry is the following: as you read in chapter 4, the totally-obvious "mysterious" rose giver rains rose petals all over Bella's bedroom as she's sleeping. Actually, I did this for my wife when I was dating her, ... something like the petal shower, that is.

Nowadays, I give her two dozen roses on random occasions (keeps her on her toes), but back in the day, before you were born, my dear sweet and young readers, I strew a dozen red roses over the sidewalk leading up from her driveway (actually her Aunt's and Uncle's driveway) up to her front door.

Of course, she totally missed it, just like Bella. She had groceries in her arms, and she wondered why the sidewalk was crunch-crunch-crunching beneath her feet. I wasn't there for the moment when she looked down (I had strewn the roses earlier that day and then made my escape to work), but I was told she had to go back to the store to buy more eggs.

My cara spoza: she's such a cutie!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Alice: Hyperactive Shopaholic, or ... ?

Singing: "Go Ask Alice..When She's Ten Feet Tall..." by Jefferson Airplane.

... but not in front of Alice (née Mary Alice Brandon ... hm, I wonder if her father is a Colonel?). Ma chère cousine (which is French for «ma chère cousine») named Michele will happily shred anyone who sings "Michele, ma belle" to her, as she's heard it probably more than you ever will in your existence ... even if you are a vampire. So, I'm sure Alice has heard "Go Ask Alice", too. No sense antagonizing the one and only vampire that is pivotal to the success of each of the four books of the Twilight series.

I think, like for Rosalie, and like for Emmett, much, in fact, most, of the community has missed the boat on her. Most of the fan fiction out there portrays Alice as a hyperactive shopaholic. But how many times in the actual books did Alice go shopping? Once? Maybe even twice? Name the times she went shopping, dragging Bella from place to place.

Can you do it? I don't think anyone can. But there's the image of the hyperactive shopaholic that everybody attributes to their image of Alice.

I don't buy it.

One of the best pieces of fan fiction in the world is called "You've kept me waiting" by the author Mandi1. You cannot read it online, because the real mandi1 has disappeared along with her stories (and now she's back. Yay!)

Dammit! (I did make a copy locally of this story and her "The Real C.J.Rae" which still hasn't been republished. Boo!)

That story does do a good job of portraying her true to her own voice. Wise. So wise, in fact, that she sees all the world's sadness, and all of her own sadness, and refuses to succumb to it. She refuses to let joy submit to bleakness. She sees the bleakness in the world, with eyes wide open, and smiles and manufactures joy, even when it's so hard to do.

I think Alice does get Bella. I think she gets Bella more than most people, and I think Alice sees that Bella does not need someone else to cry in her beer with (well, because, firstly, Bella is underage and so her own dad would have to throw her in the clink, and, secondly, vampires don't drink ... well, vampires don't drink beer, that is), and I think she sees Bella as a person who also does not need another person's set of problems thrown all over her — just as Edward and Jacob decide to do to her.

"Oh, look, there's a cute, suffer in silence, girl. Lemme just dump all over her so she falls in love with me!"

No. Alice works hard to be chipper, so Bella gets a break once and a while and can smile. And when Bella refuses to go with the happy game plan?

Alice, menacingly: "Bella, we can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way." Eclipse, wedding plan discussion.


How many vampires kidnap Bella? One: Alice. And in a yellow porsche, no less.

DITTO on the non-messing-with-age.

And speaking of a (stolen) yellow porsche: who was it to cause Dimitri and Felix to back down? Not Edward. Alice. (NM, Volterra). Jasper could beat or hold his own against every vampire except one. Which one? Alice.

Bella and Angela may connect in a way that two tuning forks do. Ping one and the other one vibrates in sympathy. But Alice? She knows sadness, she has lived sadness, and she rejects it. For Alice, she refuses to allow Bella to wallow in heart-ache. Absolutely refuses this for her Bella, her best friend, and absolutely refuses any other ending that the happy one.

Remember, the tide only turned in the stand off with the Volturi because of Alice's determined and concerted effort throughout the entire preceding part of Book III in BD.

Alice. Hyperactive shopaholic? Sure! That's a nice, easy, facile façade for everyone to believe, and she works harder to maintain that image than anyone else in the world, just so that the ending is a happy one, and that all eyes are not looking at the ballerinesque busy-bee in the background, but the White Queen and her knight in shining armor in the fore.

... AND she gets the yellow porsche, and that's a nice bonus ...

"Go ask Alice ... when she's ten feet tall ..." Indeed!


So, now I've written myself into a corner. Don't you see? Because when Alice shows up in one of my stories, what am I going to do? How will I write her as Steph writes her: seeing the futures, but not deus ex machina, aware of sadness, but fiercely (but not forcefully) cheerfully happy, and short, sweet, and absolutely the most dangerous and unstoppable vampire in the world ...

I just don't know right now. So your prayers for me in this matter are gratefully appreciated.



Okay, I'll take this as an answered prayer. Eowyn77 wrote a story called Bright Ideas that cut right to the chase, balancing the determination of Alice with her sweetness, her sprightliness with her wisdom, and finally representing her gift realistically: powerful but not deus ex machina.

I'll take this answer in gratitude. You should, too! Read this story, it'll do you a world of good for your understanding of our Alice.