Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Quickie chat about Salem



As with most new shows I find that the first episode doesn't ever live up to the hype, and this was no exception. That doesn't mean I won't watch anymore, but it does remind me that I need to reserve judgement until I'm a few shows in, otherwise I risk missing out on a really good paranormal program. After browsing the internet for awhile it seems obvious that the ratings for WGN were good but the reviews were mixed.

Is Salem going to be the new American Horror Story, which draws me in each season with masterful plot twits and incredible characters while continuing to horrify with fascinating scenes of blood and death? Or are we looking at the another Witches of East End, a show that was more beautiful people acting magical while having sex and keeping secrets that I could care less about and little to do with powerful witches that lead interesting lives?

Thoughts?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Another Oldie But Goodie


The Firebrand, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Book Description:

"Blending archaeological fact and legend, the myths of the gods and the feats of heroes, Marion Zimmer Bradley breathes new life into the classic tale of the Trojan War-reinventing larger-than-life figures as living people engaged in a desperate struggle that dooms both the victors and the vanquished, their fate seen through the eyes of Kassandra-priestess, princess, and passionate woman with the spirit of a warrior."

This is another mythology based book that reads like action and fantasy. First published in 1987, this book tells the story of the fall of Troy, through the eyes of Cassandra, the mythical figure doomed to always see the future, but never be believed. 

Mythology would portray her as a person shunned- a seeming lunatic, raving about destruction and doom, and being laughed at and scorned. But in Bradley's version, Cassandra becomes a more realistic person. She is a headstrong, tomboyish sort of woman, who speaks her mind. At a young age, she discovers that she has the gift of prophesy and that she must serve Apollo at his temple.  Being the sort of woman who acts too much like a man, and speaks her mind in defiance of the men in her life, she is often disbelieved and her opinions are dismissed. So, this Cassandra makes more of a statement about how women have been treated historically- that often we were labeled "crazy" if we were independent, out-spoken or stubborn. 

 You follow Cassandra through the course of the Trojan War, so you will see many familiar events throughout the story, even if you weren't familiar with her myth before. There's King Priam and his wife, Hecuba, Paris and Helen, Achilles and Ajax...all of the people we know are there, and some you may not even know yet! Plus you get to see life inside the temples, based on what we know from history, and a fairly realistic explanation of the centaur myth.

There's a lot to love here- a strong female character, constant action and suspense, tragedy, passion, history...this one has stayed on my list of favorite books. So check it out and give an old book some love!



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sex Criminals, Volume 1 Review

Release Date: April 29, 2014

Comic Description: 
"Suzie’s just a regular gal with an irregular gift: when she has sex, she stops time. One day she meets Jon and it turns out he has the same ability. And sooner or later they get around to using their gifts to do what we’d ALL do: rob a couple banks. A bawdy and brazen sex comedy for comics begins here!

By Matt Fraction (Satellite Sam, Hawkeye) and Chip Zdarsky (Prison Funnies, Monster Cops).

Named one of Time Magazine's top 10 graphic novels for 2013.

Collects SEX CRIMINALS #1-5
"

Angie's Review:

This is actually really funny. As long as you don't mind graphic sex jokes, anyway. 

 The comic introduces us to Suzie, who as a young teen, discovers that time literally stops when she has an orgasm. She has recently lost her father, and her mother is grieving and won't talk sex with her, and the school library mentions nothing about time freezing. So, she talks to the school "dirty girl" and gets more info than she cares to know about sex positions, but what she realizes is that she seems to be alone in this gift. And that is something Suzie has been a lot lately- alone.
But, years later, as a twenty-something,  she hooks up with a guy who can freeze time too. Naturally, they can't get enough of each other. But when Suzie's library starts to run out of funding, her new boyfriend suggests that they use their gift to save it. All they have to do is have sex, freeze time, rob a bank and walk away scot-free. Right? 


Maybe not. It seems that there are other people with their gift, and they have been watching Suzie and Jon. And the others have rules about using their gift- rules that Suzie and Jon are breaking.



I wasn't sure if I would like this, initially. I flipped through an issue at the comic store one day, and it seemed weird. Well, it is weird, but it's also very very funny. So, I was pleasantly surprised with this one. I will keep reading for sure.
But do know- it is not for kids. I mean, it seems like that should go without saying, but there are graphic scenes, plenty of swear words, and descriptions of sex acts. It's not just a story that "talks about sex, but you don't see anything." Nope. You see stuff. Hilarious, sexy stuff.
I give it 4 stars.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Desmodus

Melanie Tem's DESMODUS (1995) takes a unique approach to vampires as a natural species evolved separately from us. Tem portrays a vampire community entirely detached from human society, interacting with our kind only where absolutely unavoidable. To the first-person narrator, Joel, his clan members are "people" and Homo sapiens the dangerous outsiders. (The novel doesn’t explain why these creatures adopt human-derived names and, apparently, speak no language except English.) Essentially intelligent, humanoid bats, they can pass unnoticed within human settlements only by covering themselves in voluminous clothing and taping down their ears. Besides their wings and ears, their other nonhuman features include fangs and long, curved nails, as well as less visible details such as echolocation, nocturnal activity, the anticoagulant in their saliva, and the ability to detect heat waves. From Joel’s perspective, his people’s vampire bat traits don’t arouse the revulsion the human reader may feel. He views behaviors such as feeding blood to infants by mouth-to-mouth exchange as ordinary facts of everyday life. Unlike most fictional vampires, his species leads a gregarious communal life, tightly knit to the point of claustrophobia. Their babies, like infant bats, stay together in a communal nursery where mothers visit to feed them, each locating her own child by calling to him or her. Joel finds the nursery, "fur-lined with the little writhing bodies of all those eternally ravenous babies," unsettling, but from masculine nervousness, not human-like squeamishness.

One of the most peculiar characteristics of the Desmodus species is their seasonal cycle of migration and hibernation. While the females, after an orgy of feeding and mating, withdraw into hibernation, the males migrate south each winter. To keep the clan together and safe, the vampires have adopted human technology; the men drive huge, temperature-controlled trucks that shelter the dormant women. Females store semen from mating until the optimum time for ovulation, a process under conscious control to ensure that babies are born in the spring. Besides conserving energy, hibernation supposedly bestows upon women a "life-changing or -centering, hallucinogenic" experience, "connected directly to the divine.” Females live much longer than males and display "greater stamina, discipline, creativity, productivity, and all-around class.” Males are assumed to be, by comparison, irresponsible and dull-witted. As far beyond ordinary women as women are beyond men, the near-mythical Old Women remain permanently dormant, shrouded in a transcendent altered state of consciousness.

Tem's vampires take pride in their ability to survive without killing. Upon finding a shriveled, bloodless rabbit, Joel’s mother reacts with extreme displeasure to such lack of self-control. The Desmodus clan regards human beings, in contrast to themselves, as potentially dangerous creatures who might at any time try to exterminate the vampires if that species’ existence became known. Having to venture into a human community for any reason provokes anxiety, and the rumors that some of their kind have even lived in disguise amid human society horrify them. Joel and his male friends leer over the presumed nymphomania of human females, who are sexually active all the time instead of having estrus seasons like vampires. Like many other stories of vampires as naturally evolved creatures, this novel emphasizes that we’re all animals, but in DESMODUS, the vampires are the standard against which other species are measured.

Oddly, young Rory, Joel's nephew, who has "little use for anybody who wasn't 'like me,'" brings home the only individualized human character in the novel, Ernie, as a sort of pet. When Joel questions Ernie about his reasons for staying with the clan, Ernie says he is estranged from his family and has nowhere to go. A pair of misfits in their own families, Rory and Ernie form a tenuous union. As for Joel, he tolerates Ernie but has no respect for him, since the human boy is "a stranger" and "an alien.” Joel becomes an outcast from his clan when he assumes the gender-bending role of caretaker for the out-of-season infant born to one of his young female relatives, Meredith. Possessed by an unexpected love for the baby, whom he names Eli, Joel flees with the newborn when he discovers a secret females hide from males: Women feed upon the brain fluids of infant boys, a habit that probably accounts for the stereotypical mental backwardness of men. Rory, eager to feed on the baby, too, makes himself into an outlaw by pursuing Joel and Eli. Ernie, in turn, follows Rory. Joel conceals himself and the infant in a cave, reminiscent of the underground caverns where their race evolved. From this point, Joel’s story becomes visionary, drawing upon the ancient mythology of his people. Although Ernie plays a role in Joel’s discovery of forbidden secrets, otherwise the human world is irrelevant to the important concerns of his life. If you’d like to read about vampires that are creatures of neither romance nor traditional Gothic horror, but simply alien, try this book.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt