45 Books in 2018 #37: The Vampire Lestat By Anne Rice

I think my favorite part of diving into a new series is figuring out the parts of the series the author is most interested and how they diverge from the things that am interested.

For example, when I was reading the Dune Chronicles, I was interested in the bonkers court politics and weirdo religious structures. Frank Herbert, appeared more interested in governmental philosophy and deconstruction of mythos. In The Dark Tower I was interested in the ways that connections to people change us and our goals. Stephen King was interested in meta textual wankery. (I am also interested in meta textual wankery, btw. That’s why I love The Dark Tower) And with The Vampire Chronicles it’s clear that Anne Rice is interested in the ways that myths function, the nature of evil and good and what truly makes humans, well, human. am interested in SEXY GAY VAMPIRE ROCKSTARS.

Luckily, The Vampire Lestat gives me sexy gay vampire rockstars, as well as ruminations on humanity and good and evil and myths and blah blah blah. Sure, Lestat’s life story is kind of interesting, and the fact that he’s always been a theatrical little bitch makes a lot of sense. (Plus he’s just good at everything. Just because. He’s freaking Lestat OK?) And, OK, it’s a little weird that the first person he made into a vampire was his Mom, and then his boyfriend…I mean, that’s actually really weird, but whatever.

This book RULES. I am so so glad that I’ve decided to read this series. I’m wildly in love with this mythos and these characters. (Louis and Lestat get back together at the end! SQUEE!) And even though Lestat’s chosen one status is a little bit much (and not at all in line with his description in Interview, but as someone who is used to characters taking over on their own, I can forgive this) I’m really looking forward to moving through the rest of the books.

Up next is Queen Of The Damned, because I am powerless against the power of a good fantasy series.

Happy Halloween Y’all!

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45 Books In 2018 #36: Practical Magic By Alice Hoffman

The mid to late 90’s were a really great time to be a preteen girl who was vaguely into witches. Hocus Pocus had been a Halloween TV staple for a few years, the Halliwell sisters fought evil in San Francisco, Sabrina Spellman was learning how to use magic and four outcasts found friendship and terrifying power at a slumber party one night.

But none of those others stuck with me like Practical Magic did. I loved that movie, and it’s my Halloween time staple and has been for years. (With all apologies to the Sandersons, the Owens sisters would beat their asses.) So when I started my “Spooky books written by ladies” project for October (likely continuing well into November!) I figured I’d pick up the novel the movie is based on.

I really enjoyed the book, and I’ll always love seeing the way stories are tweaked and streamlined for their film versions. The book is a little sketchier and episodic than the movie, not to mention a good deal more in the realm of magical realism. The magic of the Owens family is more factual and subtle, and their outcast status much more pronounced.

But this is a lovely story about sisters, and family and love and the way people surprise you by being their for you. It’s also creatively written, reasonably honest about the tiny and big ways men hurt women and women excuse it or understand it in one another instinctively and do their best to heal it.

Also there’s magic and a lot of sex. It’s a pretty fun quick read that felt good on the icky fall nights that we’ve been having lately.

Up next is The Vampire Lestat, because, I mean, come on, we all knew that this was going to happen right?

Happy Halloween week!

45 Books In 2018 #35 & The Epics Project #7: Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Another book sitting on my shelf for years, another false start ages ago, and finally, a commitment to get through it.

I’m so glad I did. (Kind of a theme this year, I guess.) Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell, is an incredible piece of fantasy fiction, and possibly the most British book I’ve ever read. (And that is saying something.) Susanna Clarke wove a world of words and history and magic that I felt completely absorbed in.

The story begins simply, Gilbert Norrell is the last magician in England (not really) and had decided that he wants to begin the work of returning magic to his land. Like a good man of the era (height of the Napoleonic Wars) he knows this must be done respectfully and in service of King And Country, so he begins by striking the ancient rites and superstition from the record, and proceeding academically.

He slips up once though, which becomes hugely important later. He calls on the aid of a fairy to help him bring a young woman back from the dead. Of course, any one who knows anything about fairies could tell you how this would end, but alas, Lady Pole is stuck heading to Faerie to dance all night long at the behest of her rescuer. (Who also, through a wish, winds up ensnaring her husband’s servant, Steven Black, the son of a Jamaican slave woman.)

Norrell is eventually joined by Mr. Jonathan Strange, the kind of peppy idle gentleman in search of a career that peppers the novels of Miss Austen. Strange has recently married and is curious, but mostly for curiousities sake.

Now obviously, things spiral out of control, and poor Arabella Strange pays the price, and somehow, this yarn about fairies and magic and you know Napoleon, becomes a story about the people that often pay the price for the meddling and misunderstanding of well meaning white dudes. (HINT! Two young women and black man were brought up earlier!)

But for all that I love when a book gets social justicey, all of that is moot unless you can hold together the main narrative. And it pretty spectacularly does in this case. The details of this world are gorgeous, well described and terrifying. The Fairies are never seen as anything other than evil and then bored, the magicians are constantly convinced they’re on the right road even when it’s quite clear that they aren’t.

Anyway, up next is Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman (Because I figured I should read yet another book that I know the movie it’s based on by heart…) (Also, more spooky lady books.)

45 Books In 2018 #34: Interview With The Vampire By Anne Rice

OK, confession time, this is a repeat! But I read it in high school so that barely counts.

Plus I’m diving into  The Vampire Chronicles as a whole, which means that I just had to start at the beginning. Also, it was a good way to get into the spooky mood for October, a reasonably easy read. So, I dove in, back into the magical, sexy, world of Anne Rice and Louis and Lestat and Claudia. (And Armand, people forget Armand. They shouldn’t, because he’s my favorite, but they do.) (And it’s only a little bit because Antonio Banderas plays him in the movie.) (Also, yes, I know that in the early days of the internet, Anne Rice was kind of an asshole to people, that’s why I’m going out my way to take the books out of the library rather than buy them and support her! SEE! Je suis woke, or whatever.)

I know the movie Interview With A Vampire by heart, because it’s awesome. (It’s my third favorite Tom Cruise performance, after A Few Good Men and Top Gun.) I didn’t remember the book once, but I was shocked by how faithful to the book the movie is, details are fudged, timelines are streamlined, but it follows the A-B-C of the thing very well. Louis is a feckless aristocrat, Lestat falls in love with him (this is much more explicit in the book, the gay stuff, SOOOO GAY!) turns him into a vampire, he becomes a feckless vampire. They change Claudia into a vampire and raise her as their daughter. (GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY!) Then Claudia goes crazy and she murders Lestat (OR SO SHE THINKS) they go to Europe, they meet Armand and the Paris vampires. (ARMAND!) Armand falls in love with Louis. (GAAAYYYYYYYYY) Lestat comes back, and the Paris vampires kill Claudia, and Louis and Armand run away and live together for a while, and then they find Lestat and again and then they break up.

There’s a lot of detail and cool world building and spooky scenes but the story is pretty basic. But I loved reading it again, and I’m waiting on The Vampire Lestat and The Queen Of The Damned to come in for me to pick up from the library.

I’m sticking spooky for the month of October, and with books written by women, since I haven’t read enough of those this year. So, I’m picking up Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell, which Aless gave me for Christmas years ago and I haven’t gotten to.

More gay vampires on the way, but for now, I’m happy to dive into some magic.

Riverdale Season 3: It’s All Or Nothing

Riverdale Season 2 was a lot of things. “Hilarious,” is definitely one. I don’t know that “good,” is a word I’d use though.

I was confident going into season 3 though that the show could turn it around, and if it can’t, I’ll keep watching because it’s kind of the only teen drama game in town…(and as you all know, it’s my favorite genre.)

But the season 3 premier gave me some serious hope, as the show seems to just be going with the whole, “this show is so dumb…I love this show,” thing, and in the meantime, was able to hit some classic Archie comics beats, while still being it’s own weird wonderful dumb thing.

Archie Iconic Thing #1: Archie’s Bowtie

Before Greg Berlanti decided to make him sexy this is what Archie Andrews looked like:

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The bowtie was kind of a thing. Anyway, as Archie sat trial for murder in last night’s premier, (Sure, whatever…this show is so dumb, I love this show so much) he looked like this:

Chapter Thirty-Six: Labor Day

BOWTIE! Look at his dumb face!

Archie Iconic Thing #2: Everything About Archie’s Car

Archie’s Old Gillopie (am I spelling that right?) is also a think in the comics. And boy oh boy, was I psyched at the end of season 2 when Riverdale introduced it! So we see Bughead and Varchie driving around in it, and even more importantly Archie and Betty working on it in his garage! Riverdale has jettisoned so much of Betty and Archie’s dynamic in favor of Bughead (worth it) and Archie trying to be a gangster or a vigilante or whatever. (Less worth it) so seeing them work on his car, and Betty in her overalls warmed my heart.

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She is precious and perfect and must be protected

Archie Iconic Thing #3: Cheryl’s Pool Party

So, like I get that they’ve set Riverdale somewhere in the midwest, (Archie’s mom, Molly Ringwald, is in Chicago after all) so they couldn’t have it be a beach party, but the pool party get the gist across. The Archie gang is at the beach, like, kind of a lot. But the Beach Boys playing as everyone danced and tossed footballs (Is Reggie not a raging douche anymore?) did it.

Archie Iconic Thing #4: Hiram trying to break Veronica and Archie up

Look, no matter the version, Hiram Lodge does not like that Andrews boy around his daughter. So he tries to break them up. Usually he like, cuts off Veronica’s allowance, or enrolls her in private school, but in Riverdale it involves framing Archie for murder.

Tomato, Tomahto, really.

Not Archie, but Still Iconic:

Fred punching Hiram in the face at the courthouse, as cameras roll. Straight up Dylan McKay move.

Cheryl shooting at Ghoulies with her bow like she’s on Arrow or something.

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“You have failed this city”

Also Cheryl walking into Pop’s reminding everyone who the real star of this show is.

 

Lucky 13

Doctor Who_S11_Costume Reveal

I haven’t watched Doctor Who in almost two years. It’s been more out of attrition than anything else. I fell behind and never got caught up.

I also was happy with leaving the show behind with the delightful “The Husband’s Of River Song,” which gives me a warm feeling even when I think about it.

But, we were given a perfect on boarding point this week with the new season, with a new Doctor and a new show runner, oh yeah, and The Doctor is now a she.

I liked a lot of things about “The Woman Who Fell To Earth,” (but then again, I also like “Dinosaurs On A Spaceship,” so what the hell do I know?) but I mostly loved it as a showcase to get to know Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor. Thirteen feels really fun, she’s compassionate, we know that much (isn’t the Doctor always so?) and she’s handy. (She built her new screw driver! It’s very cool and alien looking.)

I’m looking forward to getting to know Thirteen, and our new companions, Ryan, Yaz and Graham. I’m also going to (slowly, most likely…) watch the two years I missed. Though the Doctor explaining that five minutes ago she was a white haired Scotsman was kind of completely wonderful.

I hope we get the TARDIS back soon.

New York Comic Con: Of Friendship And Becoming Who You Are

There’s a quote from the final season of Sex And The City that I often come back to. Carrie is sitting with her friends, having a final Cosmopolitan before leaving to move to Paris with The Russian, and she says simply and with quiet emotions, “Today, I had a thought, what if I’d never met you?”

Six years ago, I had a work buddy who talked  me into going to New York Comic Con, and Sunday night I sat in a food court in Koreatown, eating condensed milk ice cream laughing and planning another adventure with an incredible group of people, and I realized how lucky I was to find Aless, and by extension, Jess, Lora, Melvin, and Alex.

“What if I’d never met you?” I thought to myself as Lora, excitedly rattled off group cosplay ideas and chatted about road trips and Melvin suggested animes I should watch and Aless picked the wilted leaves off her Poison Ivy corset and Kal-El lead us all in a song he’d learned at school.

I’ve had a hundred  moments like that over the past few years, knowing these people, who have taught me to be open about the things I love, to not apologize for it. I always feel full after I’ve hung out with them. (And not just because we’ve usually eaten a bunch of really good Asian food.) And to explain, this was a new feeling for me, or at least, one I hadn’t had in a while, when I started hanging with this group.

Anyway, I’d wanted to write a newsy, silly snarky write up of New York Comic Con (CROWDED! Costumes! Zach Levi made me cry!) but I couldn’t help just feeling grateful to have these people.