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Were you the kind person who purchased computer things off my Amazon Wish List?

June 18, 2012

I REALLY need to find out who purchased two things off my Wish List – a graphics card and a disc drive. The graphics card was purchased weeks ago, I am assuming, and I guess this disc drive purchase was more recent. They were very kind, expensive purchases. But I have not seen EITHER of those products arrive at my apartment. If you purchased either of those for me, thank you, but I don’t want your money to have been wasted! I am trying to contact Amazon, but if you have any tracking information, please check it! I wish I knew who you were so I could be more direct with you personally. E-mail me if it was you! marzgurl@marzgurlproductions.com

What I Need to Build a New PC

April 28, 2012

I guess this was a long time coming.  My current PC appears to basically be on its last legs.  Even if my friends are capable of helping me repair the current PC, the parts are all so old that, quite frankly, I may as well just buy all new parts.  The fact is, I need to either get the old computer up and running ASAP or purchase something entirely new right away, or else my job doing video reviews is totally blown.

Now, quite frankly, I’m lazy, and not a genius when it comes to building PCs.  I don’t want to work too hard.  So, I’ve come up with a couple of options here.  For starters, I could just buy a pre-built PC.  I know, that sounds awful.  I’m not thrilled with the idea, either.  But everyone who once helped me build PCs and once lived nearby sorta isn’t that nearby anymore.  That’s my lazy option.  I’ve thrown a PC that I’m okay with onto my Amazon Wish List.

My second option is to follow a guide and try and get something pretty great out for fairly cheap.  This seems like a likely option.  I’ve settled on following this specific guide.  If you don’t like it, sorry, this is what I’m sticking to because it’s clear and simple to follow.  I’m not going to start mixing and matching other things on a whim.

I’ve searched for the items on this list and have listed them on my Amazon.com Wish List.  Now, frankly, I may not even need every single piece.  Some pieces from my old PC may still be salvageable, such as my hard drives and my disc drive.  So, here’s the order of importance on each of these items:

Processor
Motherboard
Graphics card
Memory
Power supply
Case
Optical Drive
Storage
*Monitor (Maybe, if it was the cause of some of my problems with my current PC, which I’m not certain of) 

So, let’s say I get all of these things. Without the cost of a monitor, everything in that list, new directly from Amazon/Newegg, is $980.89.  If we cut out, say, the optical drive and the storage, we can get rid of about $138.94.  The rest I’m pretty sure I’d want new.  I know for a fact that my mouse and keyboard are fine, so I’m not concerned about them.  I’ll worry about the monitor last of all.  Despite some issues happening before my PC puttered out, I still believe it was actually functioning.

Until I get the parts I need, I’m going to be doing some very rudimentary video reviews.  Like, these things are going to be bad.  Like, real bad.  Of course, I’ll make sure that’s widely known.  Maybe it’ll even become a running joke.  But I’d rather not be doing that for terribly long.  I’ll be working hard on some side projects, like daily vlogs and extra reviews (as crappy as they’re going to come out), and my MarzGurl Hates Hats wall calendar is still available (those who’ve received theirs seem very pleased with it!).  That having been said, if you are able to help me get this functioning PC up and running again, I admit I will not turn down the help.  My Amazon Wish List with the things I need to build this PC is right here (and listed off to the side of this blog page) and my PayPal is open for donations, both here and on the side bar with the Amazon Wish List as well.  Any help you can give is greatly appreciated, and I’ll happily be personally E-mailing you if it turns out you can help.  

Hoping to be back in shape fairly soon!  I’ll keep you guys posted on how I’m functioning.  Until then, look forward to a vlog tomorrow and a new (crappy) review on Monday.

Introducing the MarzGurl Hates Hats Wall Calendar, On Sale Now!

April 20, 2012

I talked about potentially releasing this calendar over on my Twitter feed, and it got a surprisingly good reaction.  So, I’ve gone ahead and done it!  Introducing the MarzGurl Hates Hats wall calendar!

Image

I initially wanted to sell an 18-month calendar since we’re already somewhat into the middle of the year, but it looked like I didn’t have the option to sell that at mass scale.  But don’t worry!  I have plans to make a 2013 calendar as well as soon as the option becomes available.  For now, I hope you will enjoy my uncomfortable misery and travel through the year with me as I wear embarrassing headgear.  Head on over to CafePress and pick up your MarzGurl Hates Hats wall calendar today!

Picking Apart Twilight, The Novel – Chapter 16

February 27, 2012

Chapter 16 – CARLISLE

As I sit here in the JFK International Airport with a layover to Buffalo on my way up to Ontario, Canada for Con-G, I realize that I’ve actually not written about a Twilight chapter in two months. Now seems like as good a time as any, considering I won’t exactly be going anywhere any time soon. Ugh… I rather wish I was in Canada already instead, though.

When last we saw our… ugh… “heroes”, they were on their way to visit with Carlisle, so that Bella could start learning a bit of vampire history. This is actually an intriguing idea to me. Carlisle continues to prove time and again that this story should REALLY be about him, and not about the young man who has fallen in love with his food.

But Carlisle can’t stick around to tell his story. Oh. So much for THAT idea. Instead, he leaves the story-telling in Edward’s hands, since he apparently knows the story just as well as Carlisle does. Frankly, I’d have far preferred it if we had heard the history straight from Carlisle’s first-hand experience, but I guess at this point I’ll just have to take whatever I can get.

So Edward shows Bella a wall covered in photos and paintings from ages long past. London in the 1650’s. And frankly, the story is not nearly as deep as I was hoping (wait, what am I saying? Was I HOPING for something deep out of Twilight?). What I mean by that, though, is that Edward mostly repeats a fair hunk of information we already heard. Carlisle got turned into a vampire, and he hated it, so he became a doctor. I guess it’s somewhat interesting that in all of this we find out that Carlisle tried to kill himself a numerous abundance of times. Then he decided to eat deer. Oh. We’re back to this again. I already know this.

What’s “interesting” is the part where Carlisle decides to swim to France.

“He began to make better use of his time. He’d always been intelligent, eager to learn. Now he had unlimited time before him. He studied by night, planned by day. He swam to France and-”
“He swam to France?”
“People swim the Channel all the time, Bella,” he reminded me patiently.

Oh, yeah Edward, you say that like normal people DON’T have to undergo intense swimming training for an extended amount of time to be able to swim the 21 hours it takes to get from one side of the English Channel to the other. Oh, yes, it’s just a common occurrence. That’s why it’s considered an extremely challenging sport, right? Right.

That’s when some more information comes up.

“Swimming is easy for us-”
“Everything is easy for you,” I griped.
He waited, his expression amused.
“I won’t interrupt again, I promise.”
He chuckled darkly, and finished his sentence. “Because, technically, we don’t need to breathe.”

“You don’t have to breathe?” I demanded.
“No, it’s not necessary. Just a habit.” He shrugged.
“How long can you go… without breathing?”
“Indefinitely, I suppose; I don’t know. It gets a bit uncomfortable – being without a sense of smell.”

So, no breathing, not a big deal, just mildly uncomfortable. But aside from Bella’s temporary amazement, learning this still does not terribly shock or frighten her. Edward questions this, as well he should. He keeps revealing all kinds of crazy ridiculous stuff to her, and she isn’t even in the least bit phased. It’s stupid, really honestly stupid. Doesn’t Edward realize he’s dating an idiot? Maybe he does. Maybe he thinks she’s an easy lay, I don’t know. Oh, wait, nevermind, he’s celibate. Alright, she’s an easy food catch. That must be it.

So, back to the story of Carlisle, he apparently chilled out in Italy for a bit while he practiced getting kickass at human medical practice and shit. It also just so happens that he hung out with a real chill dude by the name of Francesco Solimena. You know, just this incredibly prolific Italian painter during the Baroque era.

Francesco Solimena

The dude apparently liked to paint not only Carlisle, but three other Italian vampire buddies of his. Aro, Marcus, and Caius. And you don’t know it yet, but these chaps are all members of the Volturi, the super secret special awesome band of vampires who hang out in Italy and run the way vampires work across the world. But that’s jumping ahead a book, so just pretend I didn’t say that. You guys totally don’t know that yet, and you have no further reason to care about any of these names. In fact, Carlisle can’t make them eat deer, and they can’t make him eat people, so the bros split up. Oh boy, any exciting information about any of the far cooler vampires won’t be anything we get to hear about any time soon.

Until finally Carlisle comes to America. And then Edward happens. Really, that story wasn’t all that great. Edward DOES, however, reveal some freaky information about this one time when he became a rebellious vampire teenager and wanted to eat people.

“…I wasn’t sold on his life of abstinence, and I resented him for curbing my appetite. So I went off on my own for a time.
“Really?” I was intrigued, rather than frightened, as I perhaps should have been.
…”That doesn’t repulse you?”
“No.”
“Why not?
“I guess… it sounds reasonable.”
…”…If I followed a murderer down a dark alley where he stalked a young girl – if I saved her, then surely I wasn’t so terrible.”

And Bella isn’t scared. She isn’t upset and angry that she’s dating a man who has killed numerous people in his lifetime. Screw the fact that he has to eat, unlike his “dad”, he has indeed KILLED PEOPLE. And Bella is a PEOPLE. At least, she thinks she’s people. Why are you too stupid to be afraid?

We’d come to a stop in front of the last door in the hall.
“My room,” he informed me, opening it and pulling me through.

AND NOW YOU’RE LETTING THE MURDERER EASILY WHISK YOU AWAY TO HIS ROOM! WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU SILLY STUPID FOOL!?

So, there they chill and listen to smooth jazz and giggle and snuggle, when Jasper and Alice walk in and invite them to go play baseball because the weather is just right – thunder-stormy. They apparently can only play the great American past-time when there’s thunder out. I already know the reason why that is, but we don’t get to find out until the following chapter. And so you will wait for me to get there!

This chapter… ALMOST dipped into some interesting information. But, once again, it managed to pass it right on by. And Edward reveals his history as a murderer of human flesh to Bella, and she doesn’t bat an eyelash like the dumb, vapid fool she is. This is just getting repetative and angering. You know, like it wasn’t at all angering before this chapter.

Coming up next is Chapter 17, The Game!

(No, I don’t play “The Game”. Nobody lost. You’re probably actually playing The Game completely wrong. Get over it.)

Picking Apart Twilight, The Novel – Chapter 15

December 25, 2011

Chapter 15 – THE CULLENS

Edward Christmas stocking

Merry Christmas! What better gift to receive than that of the gift you never wanted? More Twilight! By the way, I don’t know why this stocking exists. It shouldn’t, but it does. Hello, nightmare fuel.

You’ll remember that in the last chapter, Bella fell asleep in her room lying in Edward’s freezing cold embrace. She likes that, apparently. So, she wakes up and remembers, “Oh, yeah, that happened.” As it turns out, Edward stayed the night. Or, to be more precise, he left at some point to change clothes and freshen up and then came back. Bella’s dad is gone for the day, so they’re free to talk and do as they please.

“You were very deeply asleep; I didn’t miss anything.” His eyes gleamed. “The talking came earlier.”
I groaned. “What did you hear?”
His gold eyes grew very soft. “You said you loved me.”
“You knew that already,” I reminded him, ducking my head.
“It was nice to hear, just the same.”
I hid my face against his shoulder.
“I love you,” I whispered.
“You are my life now,” he answered simply.

Man, the things wrong with this exchange. For one, the both of you are too young (er, yeah, I guess Edward could be considered “young”) and immature to be in “love” so quickly, but I suppose it IS somewhat realistic for young first-loves to not really know any better. But secondly, Bella tells Edward that she loves him, and… well, he doesn’t EXACTLY acknowledge it. Sure, he says, “You are my life now,” but that’s not really the same thing as, “I love you.” Also, your life should never be all about somebody else, but that’s just extra personal nitpick.

A couple of pages go by where they talk about eating breakfast. Thrilling, I know. This is soon followed by Edward presenting the idea of introducing Bella to his family. Bella’s afraid, not that the family will eat her, but that they won’t like her. Priorities, not very straight. Edward says that his sister Alice saw with her magical vampire powers that Bella would be coming, but he phrases it very strangely.

“So did Alice see me coming?
His reaction was strange. “Something like that,” he said uncomfortably, turning away so I couldn’t see his eyes. I stared at him curiously.

Bella notices his response, but chooses not to be too terribly concerned about it. If that were me, I’d be questioning it up and down. But then, I’ve also been known to not be able to let go of things like that very easily and badger it out of people, so, maybe that’s just my irritating personality.

“And you should introduce me to your father, too, I think.”
“He already knows you,” I reminded him.
“As your boyfriend, I mean.”
I stared at him with suspicion. “Why?”
“Isn’t that customary?” he asked innocently.
“I don’t know,” I admitted.

This is frustrating. I somehow just sort of feel like she shouldn’t have had to ask “why”, that she should have known what was customary and what wasn’t. I realize that she grew up in a broken home with a somewhat flighty mother, but she’s also a reader of many a classic literature. Shouldn’t she have a slight understanding of what’s customary when it comes to relationships and what isn’t? I feel like she SHOULD be well-educated enough, but she doesn’t ever act like it for some reason. I guess being educated isn’t the same thing as being smart.

“Are you going to tell Charlie I’m your boyfriend or not?” he demanded.
“Is that what you are?”

I’m pretty sure you both said you were going out with each other several chapters back (under the teenage connotation of “going out”, you know, not necessarily “going out to places to do things” but “going out meaning you’re an item”) so, yes, he’s your boyfriend. He’s BEEN your boyfriend. I mean, unless you don’t want him to be, I suppose.

“I was under the impression that you were something more, actually,” I confessed, looking at the table.
“Well, I don’t know if we need to give him all the gory details.

What? What in the hell are you guys talking about? Something more? More than your boyfriend? Like what? He’s not your fiancé, he already told you he didn’t think it was possible for the two of you to marry. Is there something between dating and engaged? Like, promised, maybe? But… there was no promise, so… what? And, Edward, what “gory details” are you talking about? The context sort of insinuates that you’re taking about the details of your relationship, but nothing has happened. You’ve kissed once and very timidly danced around the idea that you’re physically attracted to one another. I mean, I SUPPOSE you could give up the details that you’ve been standing in Bella’s room every night for months on end, maybe that’s what you’re getting at, but I’m not so sure. Maybe he’s talking about the fact that his daughter is going steady with a vampire, but in context I don’t think THAT’S what he’s talking about, either. So… what the hell, you two? What the hell?

“Will you be?” I asked, suddenly anxious. “Will you really be here?”
“As long as you want me,” he assured me.
“I’ll always want you,” I warned him. “Forever.”
He walked slowly around the table, and, pausing a few feet away, he reached out to touch his fingertips to my cheek. His expression was unfathomable.
“Does that make you sad?” I asked.
He didn’t answer. He stared into my eyes for an immeasurable period of time.


Isn’t it a little early to determine how long you’re going to want someone? No wonder he won’t answer you! You’ve totally caught him off guard, and surely he’s finding your behavior a little bit rash. And, his expression is “unfathomable”? Then what are we, the audience supposed to think of the look on his face? It means I have no idea what the look on his face is saying! I can’t get a mental picture for that!

Bella gets dressed. Puts on a skirt, even.

“You are utterly indecent – no one should look so tempting, it’s not fair.”
“Tempting how?” I asked. “I can change…”
He sighed, shaking his head. “You are so absurd.” He pressed his cool lips delicately to my forehead, and the room spun. The smell of his breath made it impossible to speak.
“Shall I explain how you are tempting me?” he said. It was clearly a rhetorical question. His fingers traced slowly down my spine, his breath coming more quickly against my skin. My hands were limp on his chest, and I felt light-headed again. He tilted his head slowly and touched his cool lips to mine a second time, very carefully, parting them slightly.
And then I collapsed.

So, we almost slip into romance novel territory, but we just barely miss when Bella passes out. Great. If the series continues to write itself like this, it’s going to be a very long read. This isn’t fun or entertaining.

“Yesterday I kiss you, and you attack me! Today you pass out on me!”

She… attacked him? I realize that was two chapters ago, but I don’t recall Bella ever attacking Edward. Not even verbally. Any time she might have ever had reason to get mad at Edward, she doesn’t, because instead of getting mad, she gets flattered or forgets about things. I have no idea what anybody is talking about anymore.

Edward’s home is described as being outside of the main city of Forks, somewhere long past a bridge crossing the Calawah River. Well, there DOES appear to only be one bridge out of Forks that crosses the Calawah River, so this must be riiight abooout…

…here. Well, at least it looks like Meyer looked at Google Maps before writing.

They get up to Edward’s enormous, fancy home in the middle of the woods. They sit inside Bella’s truck for a second.

“Wow.”
“You like it?” He smiled.
“It… has a certain charm.”
He pulled the end of my ponytail and chuckled.
“Ready?” he aksed, opening my door.
“Not even a little bit – let’s go.”

I’m confused about this, the way that Edward opened Bella’s door. In one second Edward is pulling on Bella’s ponytail, and the next he’s opening her door. How is he doing that? Did he reach across her in the car after tugging at her and open her door from the inside? Huh, that’s awkward… Or did he suddenly teleport outside without the book telling us? And if he did, at what exact point did he tug at her ponytail? And when he’s outside the door, is he just shouting, “READY!?” so she can hear him through the door? Or did she roll down her window? Is he reaching in the window to tug at her hair? If her window is rolled down, it certainly seemed like she didn’t roll it back up.

We get re-introduced to Dr. Cullen and his wife Esme, who is the only member of the Cullen family she had never met before. Bella gushes about her beauty, just like she does about every member of the Cullen family. It makes me wonder, what exactly is it about vampire venom that causes people to suddenly be beautiful? Especially if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, how does the venom know exactly how to repair and reform the human body into something pleasing to the eye (and nose and ear)? I’d really like to see these things get explained, because as it stands, it simply sounds ridiculous.

Two of the Cullens don’t like that Edward and Bella are together, so they aren’t there. But everybody else is.

“Even Jasper, though…”
“That’s really my fault,” he said. “I told you he was the most recent to try our way of life. I warned him to keep his distance.”

So, I don’t get it. Jasper shows up, but he’s the only one there who doesn’t come all the way up to Bella, because he’s not so good at not eating people yet. And yet it’s okay for him to go to school every day around hundreds of other students that he has to sit nearby all day long? Please. Where’s the consistency?

Also, Edward plays the piano. Really well. And it’s insinuated that he’s composed music. He’s even composed a piece for Bella, apparently. Seems a bit obsessive, but okay. Bella doesn’t respond at all to the fact that Edward has written a song for her. She seems to respond to very little.

“Alice seems very… enthusiastic.”
“Alice has her own way of looking at things,” he said through tight lips.
“An you’re not going to explain that, are you?”
A moment of wordless communication passed between us. He realized that I knew he was keeping something from me. I realized that he wasn’t going to give anything away. Not now.

And just why not? And why don’t you pursue the answer? Again, I wouldn’t be satisfied knowing that somebody was keeping something from me.

This is where Edward brings up that he’s heard that other vampires will be coming to town. These guys eat people, so he wants to keep Bella safe, even if he thinks that those vampires won’t necessarily come all the way into town. This is slightly different than the way the movie portrays this event, as the movie admittedly better intersperses the visitors’ killing of humans outside of town throughout the first half of the movie, better setting up something to be afraid of. Here, however, the subject is barely a paragraph, more than halfway through the novel in chapter 15. It makes me wonder whether I should actually be afraid of the subject or not.

Finally, Bella gets a tiny bit emotional over Edward’s piano performance.

“Thank you,” I murmured. I realized there were tears in my eyes. I dabbed at them, embarrassed.
He touched the corner of my eye, trapping one I missed. He lifted his finger, examining the drop of moisture broodingly. Then, so quickly I couldn’t be positive that he really did, he put his finger to his mouth to taste it.

Weird. Weird, weird, weird. So, he can’t taste your blood, so for now he’ll just drink whatever he can get. Don’t accept that. Tell him to stop.

The family keeps a wooden cross in the house. The characters state that it is indeed ironic, but I’m unsure whether Meyer included it in the vampires’ home because she thought it would be an interesting characteristic or if it’s because it’s yet another subtle way of slipping her personal beliefs into her work of fiction. Considering how many other little things have slipped in thus far, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the latter.

Edward spends a couple of pages telling the story of Carlisle, who was born in London in the 1640s, and whose father was a religious leader who sent his son off to fight werewolves and vampires, and thus got him tangled up in becoming a vampire himself. Frankly, this is the most interesting piece of information the book presents to us, and it’s presented with the most depth of anything written thus far. Currently, Carlisle seems better elaborated upon than our two main characters. Though, if Carlisle is from London, I slightly wonder why it is that he doesn’t speak with an accent. I mean, maybe I’m just looking too hard. Maybe he had all kinds of time to work on an American dialect. But I find it interesting that, in the movies at least (and yes, I know, I’m reading the book not watching the movie) that Jasper is presented as having a southern accent because he was a southern soldier in the Civil War. Surely, he’s had enough time to NOT sound southern, but he’s held onto it, despite the fact that they live in Washington and their supposed last living location was Alaska. Again, it just seems like more details that don’t feel like they remain consistent.

He smiled. “I expect you have a few more questions for me.”
“A few.”
His smile widened over his brilliant teeth. He started back down the hall, pulling me along by the hand. “Come on, then,” he encouraged. “I’ll show you.”

Show her what? Questions? Answers to questions? I don’t know, that response seemed poorly worded, in personal opinion.

But that’s the sentiment we’re left with at the end of the chapter.

Mostly, this chapter continues to present us with Bella’s over-obsessed behavior for Edward, a couple of Edward’s creeper tendencies, and more of Stephenie Meyer’s poor writing capabilities and under-elaborated scenes. After a chapter like this, I need a good stiff spiked Egg Nog. And I don’t even drink. Next up, Chapter 16.

Picking Apart Twilight, The Novel – Chapter 14

December 13, 2011

14. MIND OVER MATTER

Edward is driving Bella home in her truck after a whole lot of time staring at one another and breathing all over each other on top of a mountain.

He had turned the radio to an oldies station, andhe sang along with a song I’d never heard. He knew every line.
“You like fifties music?” I asked.
“Music in the fifties was good. Much better than the sixties, or the seventies, ugh!” He shuddered. “The eighties were bearable.”

Forgive me for saying so, I know I’m just projecting my own personal opinion here, but frankly I think Edward’s taste in music is awful. Totally stupid. What, there was NOTHING good playing for two decades? Yet there was something great about the ’50s and the ’80s? Your choices are either ’50s… or ’80s? Somebody tell me how that makes any sort of sense. I’m just gonna sit back and assume that we’re hearing Meyer’s personal taste in music, and that her taste in music blows. After all, her Twilight Playlist includes two Linkin Park songs and “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” by My Chemical Romance.

He looked into the sun – the light of the setting orb glittered off his skin in ruby-tinged sparkles – and spoke.

BLEAUGH! Aside from the fact that the author is illustrating the irritating fact that her vampire sparkles, it’s written so… so… I don’t know, does it make anyone else sick just reading it? “The light of the setting orb”? “Ruby-tinged sparkles”? I’m pretty sure she was trying too hard to make it sound artsy and poetic.

“I was born in Chicago in 1901.” He paused and glanced at me from the corner of his eyes. My face was carefully unsurprised, patient for the rest. he smiled a tiny smile and continued. “Carlisle found me in a hospital in the summer of 1918. I was seventeen, and dying of the Spanish influenza.”
He heard my intake of breath, though it was barely audible to my own ears. He looked down into my eyes again.

Okay, back up. Let me address everything wrong with these two paragraphs. Earlier, Bella asked him to tell her just how old he was. He doesn’t. He just says when he was born – 1901. I’m assuming this is in order for the reader to be able to better project herself into the story. That way, he’s always as old as the date the reader is reading the book. But, personally, I think that’s lazy. In the world of fiction, be that movies, books, theatre, what have you, you should always assume, unless otherwise stated, that it is “Present Day”. Or, in some cases, some stories will even outright tell you that it is “Present Day”. But as I’ve learned in theatre classes, what “Present Day” ACTUALLY means is that it is presently the date in which the work of fiction was published. In this case, that would be the year 2005. So how old is Edward? 104. There. Was that so hard?

Next, Bella is “carefully unsurprised”. What does that even mean? It says she’s being patient, waiting for more. Does being carefully unsurprised mean that she wasn’t surprised? Or that she’s trying her damnedest not to look surprised, and that she actually IS surprised? Is she just saving her surprise for later? Seriously, what does this even mean?

Then, she gasps when she finds out he was dying of the Spanish influenza at the age of 17 in 1918. Why? What’s surprising about that? You do know he died at some point in order to become a vampire, right? Or are you suddenly realizing that the date 1918 was, like, a really long time ago? Maybe I’m over-reacting, and maybe she’s just shocked that he was dying of something so horrible and painful and she was concerned about how awful his death was. I don’t know, the book doesn’t make her shock terribly clear. I honestly don’t really know what she’s surprised about.

Edward tells Bella about how Carlisle was a doctor monitoring him at the time, how he’d “saved” Edward, after his parents had already died from the flu. He describes it as being painful, but refuses to give more details. I think Stephenie Meyer just didn’t want to have to, you know, be an author and describe the pain.

One by one Edward describes how Carlisle saved his family members lives – how he wouldn’t have changed them and turned them into family members if they were well and alive enough to make the choice themselves. Frankly, I think if you’re dying you wouldn’t want somebody else making choices for you. At least, I wouldn’t. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t want to live forever. And if I were to wake up after falling off a cliff to find that somebody decided for me that I was going to live forever with a bunch of other freaks I’d never met before, I’d be pretty pissed and ask for them to kill me. But, you know. That’s just me.

Edward describes the weird, unnatural ways that Emmett and Rosalie as well as Alice and Jasper fell in love. It doesn’t particularly sound real and loving to me, but I guess we aren’t here to read about other couples. Alice apparently has similar magical sparkly vampire powers to Edward. She has visions – sees the future, that sort of thing. But not always accurately, as the future isn’t always set in stone. It’s an interesting ability, but I still don’t understand why she has it, just like I don’t understand why Edward has the ability to read minds. I also don’t understand why only a small handful of vampires appears to have any magical powers at all. Why is it selective? And why isn’t it the same power in all vampires? How do you get that? How does that even work? Can vampire venom really give you magic? See, there’s lots of ideas that I MIGHT have bought, but I don’t because they’re unexplained. And just because something is fictional or magical doesn’t mean that it can’t be explained. I think it should be, even, even if it can’t REALLY work that way. After all, it’s fiction. I don’t want to believe it happens “just because”. Fantasy and sci-fi should have its own rules. When it doesn’t, it falls apart. Like this, for example. This is the world of Twilight falling apart. Not that it was ever being held together in the first place, but…

Blah, blah, blah, we stay in the North because it’s sunless, there aren’t many like us, most are nomads…

A couple pages later, they’re at Bella’s house.

“I want to stay with you.” It was easier to say in the darkness, knowing as I spoke how my voice would betray me, my hopeless addiction to him.
“Can’t I come in?” he asked.
“Would you like to?” I couldn’t picture it, this godlike creature sitting in my father’s shabby kitchen chair.
“Yes, if it’s all right.” I heard the door close quietly, and almost simultaneously he was outside my door, opening it for me.

YOU FOOL! HE JUST TRICKED YOU INTO INVITING A VAMPIRE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE! Wait, actually… I’m sure that was thoughtlessly written in and won’t ever be an issue. Sorry, book, please continue.

He reached the door ahead of opened it for me. I paused halfway through the frame.
“The door was unlocked?”
“No, I used the key from under the eave.”

Now the creeper vampire knows where your hidden keys are. You are also completely unphased by the fact that he knows this, meaning he’s been watching and paying very close attention to you, maybe even coming into your home. Bella, it’s alarming how unalarmed you are.

“I was curious about you.”
“You spied on me?” But somehow I couldn’t infuse my voice with the proper outrage. I was flattered.

Rage face

…”How often did you come here?”
“I come here almost every night.”
I whirled, stunned. “Why?”
“You’re interesting when you sleep.” He spoke matter-of-factly. “You talk.”
“No!” I gasped, heat flooding my face all the way to my hairline. I gripped the kitchen counter for support. I knew I talked in my sleep, of course; my mother teased me about it. I hadn’t thought it was something I needed to worry about here, though.

She only becomes upset that he’s been watching her unannounced every single night for the past God-knows-how-long when she learns that he’s heard her talk in her sleep!? What kind of backwards human being are you, Bella? Are you even really human? Did you become vampire without anyone, even yourself, knowing it?

“Don’t be upset!” he pleaded.

Don’t be upset!? Why shouldn’t she be? Of course, that’s going to work on her because he’s using his super powers of godly beauty to manipulate her emotions.

…”You did say my name,” he admitted.

“Don’t be self-conscious,” he whispered in my ear. “If I could dream at all, it would be about you. And I’m not ashamed of it.”

You… don’t know that.

Bella’s dad arrives back home. Edward poofs away. For a couple of pages Bella does a tremendously terrible job at acting like there’s nothing she’s hiding. And then it’s several more pages of Bella and Edward quietly trying to hide the fact that there is a vampire boy up in her bedroom while they get lovey-dovey. This takes entirely too long.

He lay, smiling hugely, across my bed, his hands behind his head, his feet dangling off the end, the picture of ease.

It’s the first night the girl has actually invited you into her house, and you decide to sprawl across her bed? Girls, get this through your head – don’t date a boy like this in high school.

He lifted my chin, examining my face.
“You look very warm, actually.”
He bent his face slowly to mine, laying his cool cheek against my skin. I held perfectly still.
“Mmmmmm…,” he breathed.
It was very difficult, while he was touching me, to frame a coherent question. It took me a minute of scattered concentration to begin.
“It seems to be… much easier for you, now, to be close to me.”
“Does it seem that way to you?” he murmured, his nose gliding to the corner of my jaw. I felt his hand, lighter than a moth’s wing, brushing my damp hair back, so that his lips could touch the hollow beneath my ear.
“Much, much easier,” I said, trying to exhale.”

Just screw! Okay? Just hurry up and get down to it!

But, still, it just continues to paint this picture in my head of Edward putting on all these moves and working his magic vampire charms while Bella isn’t exactly asking for it. Granted, she’s not saying “no”, but the relationship still seems very forced from one angle.

He keeps touching her and breathing on her and being all disgusting and she likes it and junk, I guess because teenage girls really don’t have the brains to know that feeling good isn’t happiness. And then they talk about earlier in the forest. Ugh. Again? Really? Now, actually, this part is written kind of vaguely, so it’s a little difficult for me to tell whether they’re talking about his lust for her blood or his lust for her body, but I’m assuming that because it’s written so vaguely they must be talking about sex, because Meyer won’t just outright say that the two of them are horny.

“It’s not easy,” he sighed. “But this afternoon, I was still… undecided. I am sorry about that, it was unforgivable for me to behave so.”
“Not unforgivable,” I disagreed.

That’s not a sentence, Bella.

“Thank you.” He smiled. “You see,” he continued, looking down now, “I wasn’t sure if I was strong enough…” He picked up one of my hands and pressed it lightly to his face. “And while there was still that possibility that I might be… overcome” – he breathed in the scent at my wrist – “I was… susceptible. Until I made up my mind that I was strong enough, that there was no possibility at all that I would… that I ever could…”

Sex, or blood? Reader, you make the call.

I’d never seen him struggle so hard for words. It was so…

…Stupid?

…human.

Oh. Not the word I would have chosen. But okay.

…”I’ve had the scent of you in my head all day, and I’ve grown amazingly desensitized. If I’m away from you for any length of time, I’ll have to start over again. Not quite from scratch, though, I think.”
“Don’t go away, then,” I responded, unable to hide the longing in my voice.
“That suits me,” he replied, his face relaxing into a gentle smile. “Bring on the shackles – I’m your prisoner.” But his long hands formed manacles around my wrists as he spoke. …

This imagery is also increasingly disturbing. They’re NEEDING each other increasingly. For one, you should never NEED a person as badly as they’re starting to need one another. You know, like you’re incapable of living for yourself, being self sufficient. But then there’s imagery of prisoners, shackles, manacles… it’s awful. And despite claiming to be her prisoner, he grabs HER by the wrists instead, insinuating that she’s equally his prisoner. This is not healthy. This is not okay. This is not good.

“Isn’t it supposed to be like this?” He smiled. “The glory of first love, and all that. It’s incredible, isn’t it, the difference between reading about something, seeing it in the pictures, and experiencing it?”

Book, you really have no idea.

“Very different,” I agreed. “More forceful than I’d imagined.”

Oh, then we’re all agreed, this is unusual. Good, I’m glad we’re all on the same page (that page being 302).

“That was the first night I came here. I wrestled all night, while watching you sleep, with the chasm between what I knew was right, moral, ethical, and what I wanted. …”

I see that doing the right thing wasn’t more powerful than what you wanted. Especially since you kept coming back. You know, he admits right there to her face that he struggled with the idea that sneaking into her room and watching her sleep every night probably wasn’t the right thing to do, and Bella is STILL flattered by the idea. It’s pretty enraging to me. And all because he was jealous of Mike, whom Bella was obviously treating like a puppy the whole time. It’s disgusting.

“For almost ninety years I’ve walked among my kind, and yours… all the time thinking I was complete in myself, not realizing what I was seeking. And not finding anything, because you weren’t alive yet.”

Yep. About a century of your true love not even having been born. I realize they’re both teenagers in body, but sitting and thinking about nothing but the numbers, the age difference is quite staggering. He should have had numerous life experiences, should be a well-matured person, but it seems this is simply not the case. They should be on completely separate paths in their lives, even ignoring the fact that he’s a vampire and she’s a human. The age should have total lifestyle differences. But… ugh, that would be GOOD writing, wouldn’t it?

Bella’s dad checks on her. She pretends to be asleep. They continue to cuddle and shit.

“So if you don’t want to sleep…,” he suggested, ignoring my tone. My breath caught.
“If I don’t want to sleep…?”
He chuckled. “What do you want to do then?”
I couldn’t answer at first.
“I’m not sure,” I finally said.
“Tell me when you decide.”
I could feel his cool breath on my neck, feel his nose sliding along my jaw, inhaling.

Just like every other time before now, don’t bother getting too excited. In fact, ladies, proceed to begin punching yourself in the ovaries. Because NOTHING. HAPPENS.

“I still don’t understand how you can work so hard to resist what you… are. …”
…”That’s a good question, and you are not the first one to ask it. The others – the majority of our kind who are quite content with our lot – they, too, wonder at how we live. But you see, just because we’ve been… dealt a certain hand… it doesn’t mean that we can’t choose to rise above – to conquer the boundaries of a destiny that none of us wanted. To try to retain whatever essential humanity we can.”

Again, here, he’s talking about bloodlust. But frankly? I think it’s just another way of illustrating the religious idea that God didn’t intend for man to be separated from Him and that we’re supposed to be better than something. Probably sex. That’s just my interpretation. But, come on, nowhere in these paragraphs do they talk about eating people. I think it’s pretty easy to see a religious comparison to the human race. And considering Meyer’s background, I don’t think I’m stretching that idea too terribly far.

“Why can you read minds – why only you? And Alice, seeing the future… why does that happen?”
I felt him shrug in the darkness. “We don’t really know. Carlisle has a theory… he believes that we all bring something of our strongest human traits with us into the next life, where they are intensified – like our minds, and our senses. He thinks that I must have already been very sensitive to the thoughts of those around me. And that Alice had some precognition, wherever she was.”
“What did he bring into the next life, and the others?”
“Carlisle brought his compassion. Esme brought her ability to love passionately. Emmett brought his strength, Rosalie her… tenacity. Or you could call it pigheadedness,” he chuckled. “Jasper is very interesting. He was quite charismatic in his first life, able to influence those around him to see things his way. Now he is able to manipulate the emotions of those around him – calm down a room of angry people, for example, or excite a lethargic crowd, conversely. It’s a very subtle gift.”

I have to admit – this is the first actually INTERESTING idea I’ve heard so far in this entire book. Strong sensitivity to people’s thoughts becoming mind reading? Okay, interesting. Slight sensitivity to forthcoming events becoming seeing the future? Okay, cool. Charisma becoming emotion manipulation? That’s something. But the other stuff… So, are compassion, passion, and pigheadedness considered “super powers”? Those sound incredibly useless. And when Bella turns into a vampire, what in the hell is she going to bring over with her? The ability to kill the personality of anybody in the room?

“So where did it all start? I mean, Carlisle changed you, and then someone must have changed him, and so on…”
“Well, where did you come from? Evolution? Creation? Couldn’t we have evolved in the same way as other species, predator and prey? Or, if you don’t believe that all this world could have just happened on its own, which is hard for me to accept myself, is it so hard to believe that the same force that created the delicate angelfish with the shark, the baby seal and the killer whale, could create both our kinds together?”

Oh my God, Edward is a creationist. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that a vampire doesn’t know his own lineage. It doesn’t exactly seem as though there are nearly as many vampires as there are humans. How difficult would it be to trace? In any case, this solidifies it. Twilight has a very LDS undertone message. The vague mix of bloodlust representing bodily lust and the idea that a higher force created both humans and vampires suggests that there’s some other story to be told here, not just one of a romance between a vampire boy and a human girl.

And then the subject of marriage comes up.

“Well, I did wonder… about you and me… someday…”

Whoa, whoa, whoa, girl! Slow it down now! I think you’re a little love-drunk! How long have the two of you been together? And how long has it been since you first kissed? Like, a couple of hours? Good lord! Maybe I should be blaming this on the magical vampire beauty powers Edward has or something.

“I’m curious now, though,” he said, his voice light again. “Have you ever…?” He trailed off suggestively.
“Of course not.” I flushed. “I told you I’ve never felt like this about anyone before, not even close.”

Ever… ever, what? Ever lusted? Ever had sex? Ever masturbated? What? See, I just can’t stand how the author chooses to dance around the subject. I know she’s trying to avoid being lewd, but it just makes it all the more confusing. You know, like not telling your kids about sex. Then they get confused and try to figure it out themselves. You do your readers no favors by trying to dance around the subject!

“I know. It’s just that I know other people’s thoughts. I know love and lust don’t always keep the same company.”
“They do for me. Now, anyway, that they exist for me at all,” I sighed.
“That’s nice. We have that one thing in common, at least.” He sounded satisfied.
“Your human instincts…,” I began. He waited. “Well, do you find me attractive, in that way, at all?”
He laughed and lightly rumpled my nearly dry hair.
“I may not be a human, but I am a man,” he assured me.

That… doesn’t entirely make sense… but I think I see where you’re going, book. And it’s… nowhere. Because for the final time this chapter we’ve danced around the topic of sex, but we aren’t actually going to address it.

More tired than I realized, exhausted from the long day of mental and emotional stress like I’d never felt before, I drifted to sleep in his cold arms.

Eesh! No thank you! Give me warm sheets, blankets, comforters, pajama pants, and thick wooly socks any day, but NEVER cold arms. There’s no way I’m getting to sleep being wrapped up in cold.

Geez… man… this chapter is a whole bunch of just sitting and talking. Most of it feels incredibly unrealistic, and again the number of times the dialogue dances around the topic of sex is astounding and outrageously frustrating. Not because I necessarily want to read vampire/human pornography (I can pick up something that easily from Wal-Mart), but because it’s written so unrealistically and is not straight-forward with its readers, most of whom will probably be young, impressionable girls who will then be confused about their feelings of lust. It really helps no one in the end. Avoidance is not nearly as powerful as education. Book, I don’t think you understand that.

Can you believe there’s still ten more chapters? Next up is chapter 15 – The Cullens.

Picking Apart Twilight, The Novel – Chapter 13

November 23, 2011

Many, many thanks to Mochita-chan over at deviantART.com for the artwork!

13 – CONFESSIONS

Edward in the sunlight was shocking. I couldn’t get used to it, though I’d been staring at him all afternoon. His skin, white despite the faint flush from yesterday’s hunting trip, literally sparkled, like thousands of tiny diamonds were embedded in the surface. He lay perfectly still in the grass, his shirt open over his sculpted, incandescent chest, his scintillating arms bare. His glistening, pale lavender lids were shut, though of course he didn’t sleep. A perfect statue, carved in some unknown stone, smooth like marble, glittering like crystal.

BLEEEEEAAAAAH!

Welcome to chapter 13, which was written by Stephenie Meyer after she had a dream about a teenage girl and a vampire who loved her but thirsted for her blood. This is the chapter she wrote first, and then based the rest of the book and back story around it. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the chapter that is THE SOURCE of everything that we later identify as being wrong with the Twilight series.

It’s the moment, from paragraph one of this chapter, where we slowly begin to realize that Edward is a vampire, but in name only, and certainly not because it fits any previous description of what a vampire has been known as over the course of fiction. After all, what vampire is capable of reading minds? What vampire is capable of seeing the future? Oh, right, we haven’t gotten to the vampire with that magical power yet… anyway, what vampire has magical, mythical powers like that?

Add to that the fact that NOW apparently vampires do not have adverse effects to sunlight. It’s certainly bad for them to be seen in sunlight, but not for the reasons you might have expected (if you knew nothing about this story already). No, stepping out into the sunlight in front of humans would alert them to the fact that they are inhumanely gorgeous and sparkly like billions of African blood diamonds. How horrible would that be, if man only knew! I mean, that would of course alert humans to the fact that there is something wrong with the Cullen family. But don’t you think that maybe people would just think, “Huh, well, they’re already painfully beautiful and fashionable… maybe they just really like glittery makeup, too.”

Several paragraphs of gooey loving staring and Bella running her fingers over Edward’s body are written about on the next couple of pages. It’s mostly dumb and slow and boring to read, if not icky to some audiences.

I lightly trailed my hand over the perfect muscles of his arm, followed th faint pattern of bluish veins inside the crease at his elbow.

Is that possible? Let’s think about it. Why is it that, when we look at the veins in our arms and hands, they appear to be blue? It should be due to how much oxygen the blood in the body is getting. But does that even happen in a vampire? Does he even have blood of his own? Does it even move? I mean, I recall hearing that later on Meyer describes vampires as losing their fluids upon turning (though, this is then RETCONNED in Breaking Dawn when Edward is able to inseminate Bella, but that’s an atrocity all on its own).

Bella seems to attempt to kiss Edward. But he freaks out and jumps to the edge of the meadow, slowly calms down, and then comes back to her. He explains that, as a vampire, of course he’s interested in her for much more than just her pretty face and *chortle* great personality.

“I’m the world’s best predator, aren’t I? Everything about me invites you in – my voice, my face, even my smell. As if I need any of that!…
As if you could outrun me,” he laughed bitterly.
…”As if you could fight me off,” he said gently.
…”Don’t be afraid,” he murmured, his velvet voice unintentionally seductive. “I promise…” He hesitated. “I swear not to hurt you.” He seemed more concerned with convincing himself than me.

Oh, yes, you make a BEAUTIFUL case for yourself, Edward. You make startling, threatening announcements about what an amazing killing machine you are, then follow it up with, “But it’s all cool, I promise.” It’s a good thing the girl you’re choosing to pursue is a complete dunce, otherwise that approach most likely would have failed.

Ugh, more pages of staring at one another unceasingly, more explanations of, “I’m dangerous, you shouldn’t want to be around me,” “Oh, it’s fine, I want to be with you,” blah, blah, blah.

“How do I explain?” he mused. “And without frightening you again… hmmmm.”

Okay, personal pet peeve, but is it really necessary to have four m’s in “hmm”? I mean, I know it isn’t really a real word to begin with or anything, but still… that just makes it sound like he’s elongating the sound of his thinking for entirely too long.

Edward compares his desire for Bella’s blood to either an alcoholic or a heroine addict aching for a very specific brand of his weakness. He only further continues to solidify the idea that Bella is an object to be consumed. Literally, she serves as his food. He encourages her to keep that in mind. And really, yes, she and the rest of the book-reading audience should keep that in mind. But it seems like neither she nor the young fans of the book really keep this in mind.

What’s bizarre is that it seems like none of the other vampire siblings have ever really had this sensation before, never smelled a human so uniquely delicious to them. Well, save for Emmett, apparently. And he freaked the hell out and ate the person, apparently. So, with very little history of this ever happening, and the one time it did happen it had disastrous results, there’s no reason why any of this experience should appear romantic at all. But Bella is convinced that she’s in love with him anyway and isn’t afraid. This either means that she’s stupid, or she’s falling for all of Edward’s natural weakening features – the gorgeous body, the light-colored eyes, the sparkly skin, the delicious-smelling breath, all of it. And if it’s the latter, that would indicate that Bella isn’t even falling in love of her own free will. It means that she’s been manipulated into it, and why would anyone want to be in a loving relationship with someone who doesn’t actually freely love you back? You know, unless you’re a crazy, manipulative tool. Oh… Is that the answer?

“I thought it would make me deranged that first day. In that one hour, I thought of a hundred different ways to lure you from the room with me, to get you alone. …
You would have come,” he promised
I tried to speak calmly. “Without a doubt.”

Alright. That’s it. That’s the deciding dialogue. She’s just under his magic vampire spell. This is about the farthest thing from “romantic” I can think of.

There’s SEVERAL MORE PAGES of just how tormented Edward is about the idea of killing her, drinking her blood, revealing the vampires for who they are, and ultimately feeling guilt that he hurt his precious Bella… though I can’t figure out any more deep reason why he’s so interested in her past the fact that she smells delicious and he’s wigging out because he can’t read her mind.

Then comes the other stuff. The gross stuff. Or, at least the stuff that SHOULD be gross, if they’d ever even actually say what it was.

He raised his free hand and place it gently on the side of my neck. I sat very still, the chill of his touch a natural warning – a warning telling me to be terrified. But there was no feeling of fear in me. There were, however, other feelings…

…Uh huh…

And I couldn’t make myself be afraid. I couldn’t think of anything, except that he was touching me.

…Okay…

He opened his eyes, and they were hungry. Not in a way to make me fear, but rather to tighten the muscles in the pit of my stomach and send my pulse hammering through my veins again.

…Alright…

“I wish,” he whispered, “I wish you could feel the… complexity… the confusion… I feel. That you could understand.”
…”Tell me,” I breathed.
“I don’t think I can. I’ve told you, on the one hand, the hunger – the thirst – that, deplorable creature that I am, I feel for you. And I think you can understand that, to an extent. Though” – he half-smiled – “as you are not addicted to any illegal substances, you probably can’t empathize completely.
“But…” His fingers touched my lips lightly, making me shiver again. “There arre other hungers. Hungers I don’t even understand, that are foreign to me.”
“I may understand that better than you think.”

Oh, G- so, are we gonna get it on, or what?

“Can I show you something?” he asked, sudden excitement flaring in his eyes.
“Show me what?”

Sly grin.

Oh. Oh, he just want to take her for a run through the forest. That’s cool, I guess.

Bella climbs onto Edward’s back and he runs the two of them at lightning speed back to Bella’s truck. This takes a couple of pages.

And then his cold, marble lips pressed very softly against mine.

That. Sounds. AWFUL.

Seriously! Who wants that!?

And then realize that three books later they’re gonna get quite a bit more intimate, she’s still gonna be human, and he’s going to be absolutely frozen. I can’t imagine a more uncomfortable experience.

Blood boiled under my skin, burned in my lips. My breath came in a wild gasp. My fingers knotted in his hair, clutching him to me. My lips parted as I breathed in his heady scent.
Immediately I felt him turn to unresponsive stone beneath my lips. His hands gently, but with irresistible force, pushed my face back. I opened my eyes and saw his guarded expression.
“Oops,” I breathed.
“That’s an understatement.”

He laughed aloud. “I’m stronger than I thought. It’s nice to know.”
“I wish I could say the same. I’m sorry.”

Alright. So. Meyer obviously wants to describe just how horny these two love birds are, but doesn’t actually want to SAY as much. That’s pretty frustrating and insulting. But then, on top of that, it only further goes to prove that Bella is, interestingly enough, the hornier of the two. It seems to come up consistently over the course of the stories. She just continuously appears to be weak and thoughtless, completely under Edward’s power, even to a point where even Edward is kinda like, “Whoa, hey babe, hold back and chill a second.” If he has this power over women, and he actually doesn’t particularly want it until after marriage, doesn’t he get annoyed by it after a while?

And finally, Edward convinces Bella that he should drive her home rather than him driving her truck.

“You’re intoxicated by my very presence.” He was grinning that playful smirk again.
“I can’t argue with that,” I sighed. There was no way around it; I couldn’t resist him in anything.

Man! Don’t, like, even TRY to fight back or anything. She’s under the influence, and she likes it. Ladies, if you fall in love with a vampire, kiss your free will goodbye. Not like you’ll care by that time.

Good lord, just… All of that was twenty-six pages. TWENTY-SIX PAGES! Twenty-six pages of intense brooding and staring at each other and gushing waves of estrogen and testosterone trying desperately to escape and intertwine with one another but being written in such a way that you’ll either find it supremely disgusting or you’ll find yourself incredibly frustrated because it teases you with disgusting romance and dances around the topic of lust without actually appropriately addressing it. If you’re stupid or aren’t paying attention, you could just about miss the whole thing.

There’s so much not happening mixed with a huge tease and a dash of “What in the hell is a sparkly vampire?”. And the whole chapter just reads like a Harlequin romance novel. It’s pretty much enough romance novel to last me a lifetime. Remember, people. This chapter was the basis of the entire book, based on Meyer’s sexy vampire dream. If that doesn’t speak volumes of this piece of fiction, then I don’t know what else will shake you up about it.

And still, the novel continues. Next up, chapter 14 – Mind Over Matter.

Do You Like Vlogs? – Breaking Dawn Part 1

November 23, 2011

Josh and I talk entirely too long about Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1, much like the vlog rants from Doug and Noah this past week.  We think we’ve covered nearly every problem, but we challenge you to listen to our arguments against the movie.  Yes, it’s long.  We know.  Dare you listen?

 

MarzGurl Visits Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 Premiere

November 21, 2011

Only just now realizing that I hadn’t cross-posted this over to my blog, when really, it’s my blog audience that needs to see this the most. Here you go!

MarzGurl Visits Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 Premiere

Cool Story, Bro: My Oni-Con Weekend with the Earthbound Papas

November 14, 2011

I had wanted to write this blog quite some time ago. Oni-Con took place in the last week of October. And my entire reason for wanting to be down there was solely to see the Earthbound Papas. Well, who are they?

Quite simply, this is the most recent band headed by lead keyboardist, Nobuo Uematsu, best known for his long-standing compositions from the Final Fantasy video game series, among many other titles and projects. I’d grown up on the games and his compositions, and I’ve always thought Uematsu was an incredibly talented man, probably highly under appreciated by anyone outside of the gaming industry. So I made my plans to head down to Galveston to attend the event.

I spent a good hunk of my Friday waiting outside the door to the panel room where the Earthbound Papas Q&A session would be. I was the first in line, and couldn’t wait to take my seat, front row and center. The band walked passed me as the hour of the start of the panel approached. I was excited, but I hadn’t yet seen Nobuo. I assumed that they would take him in some other way, perhaps so he wouldn’t get mobbed by the line that swiftly grew behind me. But finally, I saw him approaching from down at the end of the hall. I said nothing, not wanting to cause a ruckus. And, as fangirlish as it sounds, I got inwardly giddy and excited as he walked only feet away from me and into the panel room. It surprised me how it seemed that so few people behind me appeared to actually recognize the man. But finally, we were allowed in. And I took my seat right in the front row. Fantastic!

I was thrilled to be able to pose a question to the band myself, regarding an awesome contest that the Earthbound Papas are holding. They have this remix contest going on through their official web site. Remix the track they have posted, and if they like yours the best by the end of the contest they will work with you on their next album. How cool would that be to work alongside Uematsu and crew? I was rather pleased to be one of the few people who actually DIDN’T ask a question solely of Uematsu or related to Final Fantasy. There were so many FF-related questions, and I suppose that’s really no surprise, but I can easily imagine that Nobuo probably gets sick of it after a little while. One question, for example was from a girl cosplaying as Sephiroth asking Nobuo about his inspiration for composing “One-Winged Angel”. How many times do you think he’s heard that question? There was also the question, “Everyone, what is your favorite Final Fantasy game?” I was happy to hear a total of none of them respond with “Final Fantasy VII”. Another question posed to the whole band, however, was, “Which song is your favorite to perform?” One of the other band members responded with, “One-Winged Angel,” to which Nobuo followed up promptly with, “UGGGHHH!”

Nobuo himself has an amazingly cheerful personality. His English isn’t fantastic, but he seemed to love using it wherever he could. During times where he heard somebody bring up his previous band, The Black Mages, he would suddenly jump in, and with a deep, villainous voice, slowly and deliberately state, “BLACK MAGES NO MORE!” He was always all-smiles, always laughing. One question came up directed at the band: “What is your favorite food?” I don’t rightly recall what Nobuo’s exact answer was. It was a traditional Japanese meal, though. But after making that statement, he followed it up with, “…and steak.” Everyone laughed. It was obvious Nobuo had done his research on Texas. But he passed the microphone over to the next member, who said, “Ramen. …And steak.” And as the other three band members listed off their favorite foods, each one of them finished with, “…And steak.” “…And steak.” “…And steak.” Nobuo himself seemed particularly obsessed with steak. From that point on, it didn’t matter what the question was. He simply had to end his answer with, “…And steak.” He was asked if he’d ever return to Texas. He said something to the extent of, “I need to come back because I was told that if I come to Texas I need to try the steak! I still need to eat this famous Texas steak!”

It was great just being in the presence of the Earthbound Papas. And that felt like a successful Friday. But the experience wasn’t nearly finished.

Saturday was the day of the Earthbound Papas concert. Just trying to figure out how to line up was craziness in and of itself. It seemed that two lines were forming at the door to the main ballroom. And as it turns out, the original line I chose to be in was NOT chosen to be the official line. I eventually was instructed to move to the end of the other line. So, I wouldn’t be first in line. No big deal. I wasn’t sure how they would be doing seating, anyway. If they were going to be putting everyone in seats and telling everyone to move all the way down to the end of the row, I certainly wouldn’t want to be the first in line for that reason. But then, not long after that, we were told that the line would need to relocate from one side of the door to the other (nevermind the fact that that’s where I was originally standing). So, rather than calmly directing the line to the other side of the door, the volunteer staff yelled out, “Everybody, move over there!” As you can imagine, this caused people to tear off down the hall to the other side of the door, getting out of their original positions in line, and cutting into places where they weren’t before. It was pretty infuriating. But I was still pretty satisfied with where I was standing.

It would still be a couple of hours before the show started. I made friends with a couple of people in line, some of which had some really interesting pieces of material they wanted Nobuo to sign later on after the concert. It felt really good to talk to other people about Nobuo’s music, and really go toe-to-toe in knowledge. There were plenty of people whose knowledge of Nobuo’s Final Fantasy work rivaled my own, but I really felt that I was one of the few people who were there for every one of his songs, including the tracks the Earthbound Papas performed from Guin Saga, Blue Dragon, and Lost Odyssey.

The line for this concert was amazing. It stretched from in front of the door, down the hall, out the door, outside, out in front of the building, all the way around, back inside the front doors, and ended just about where it started. It was a crazy circle of a line. I considered myself incredibly lucky to be standing where I was!

Well, finally, four o’clock hits, and that’s the time listed on the schedule for the concert to start. And we actually get let in on time! How amazing! The line quickly rushes the door. And I quickly see that there are indeed no seats for the concert. The stage is set up with a barricade a few feet away. And, luckily for me, I was close enough to the front of the line that I was able to run right up to just barely off front-row-center. A perfectly good position for me! The band didn’t quite appear ready. They were just standing there, off to the side of the stage! They were really great with their audience, though. They saw us coming in, waved at us, gave us peace signs, rock fists, thumbs up, all that good jazz. A member of convention safety was overheard saying, “Oh, no. This isn’t right. Everybody, all you guys, need to go back outside. You’re not even supposed to be in here yet.” Everybody I was hanging out with and anybody else up that close to the front row who heard him just scoffed. Like, did he see the predicament he was in? We all looked behind us. There were already a hundreds of people piling up to the front, with hundreds more still coming in the doors, who heard no such message. What, did he really think he was going to get everybody back outside? Logistically, that was a complete impossibility. On top of that, even if you DID manage to get everybody back out the door, what were you going to do? Tell everybody to line back up fairly in the positions you’d been standing in the last three hours? Hah, I think not! Luckily, it seems like the staff realized very quickly that getting us back out the door wasn’t going to be an option.

The first band to show up on stage before the Earthbound Papas was a band called Otokage. Or, as I lovingly called them, “Naruto: Live in Concert”. They’re a ninja-themed J-rock band. They seemed pretty standard, as far as J-rock is concerned. Had a decent gimmick. But they weren’t really my thing. The lead guitarist spat water on me. It was an interesting experience.

Finally, however, the band we were all there to see took the stage! All dressed in rather earthy, hippie clothes, the Earthbound Papas gave a fantastic performance. Nobuo tried to speak as much English as he could, somewhat unsuccessfully without the assistance of cue cards. It felt great, knowing every single song in the playlist, humming along if there weren’t lyrics, singing every word if there was. I was probably the only person who knew the lyrics to the songs from Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey! In the middle of the performance, Nobuo stopped and said, “This is a song everybody knows. …I hope.” So we sat and waited in anticipation. When we finally heard…

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality

Oh, yes, they began performing Bohemian Rhapsody. And the crowd went absolutely nuts! There wasn’t a silent voice in that crowd, I’m sure! Nobuo had great energy himself, too. He was all smiles and had lots of personality, even if he was mostly confined to the space behind his keyboard. Sometimes he would venture away from it, like when he would go up to the vocalist for the song Eternity and silently mimic shouting into an invisible microphone just like the vocalist.

But the show didn’t stop once the concert was over. There was still one thing left to accomplish. I knew after the encore was over I was going to have to tear out of the concert and get to the other end of the building for one reason and one reason only – autograph session time. But, as you can imagine, with me being pressed up against the gate up at the front row and hundreds of people behind me, this wasn’t going to be easy. I waited only until I was absolutely sure the encore was over, then risked the idea that they would come up for a second encore (which they didn’t) and shoved my way through hundreds of other people behind me to get out the door and race down the hallway to the other end of the building, where the line for the autograph session was already starting to build. Now, granted, there would be an autograph session the next morning, but I didn’t want to have to wait and take my chances. What if I managed to be too late the next day? Then I wouldn’t have any opportunities left at all. No, it had to be tonight.

I stood in line with the friends I’d made while waiting in line for the concert. We gushed over how great the performance was, and just how much Nobuo’s music had meant to us over time. One guy was carrying a song book for the full score of Final Fantasy VI. Another brought an original NES cartridge of the very first Final Fantasy released in the States. Someone else ahead of me brought 3-D WorldRunner, one of the very first games Nobuo had ever composed for. It was an incredible mix of things people had brought to sign. I was upset with myself. I owned a physical copy of the Earthbound Papas’ debut album Octave Theory, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out where I’d placed it before it was time to leave for the weekend. It was really disappointing, but in the end I decided I’d just have them all sign their page in the Oni-Con program guide.

But something truly awful and disheartening happened before I could even get that far. After quite some time of waiting, a volunteer staff member came up to the man directly in front of me, put her hand between him and me, and said, “Anyone behind this guy right here will have to come back tomorrow at 11!”

I could have died. I was so depressed and disappointed. Now, granted, I somewhat thought that this might happen. After all, there were a LOT of people in line for these autographs. Hell, the line stretched out FAR beyond me and the group of people I was standing around with. It stretched back so far that I couldn’t even see where the line went anymore. Now, had the cut-off ended anywhere else, I would have understood. Like, if it were way ahead of me, then okay. Or, if I was much farther back toward the end of the line, alright, fine. But the thing that killed me is that it was DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME. I just stood there for a couple minutes in disbelief, even though I’d just heard I wasn’t getting in tonight. I knew I’d have another opportunity the next day, but I wasn’t prepared mentally to wait for that. I really wanted to get it done now.

But one of the guys I was hanging out with basically said what I was thinking. “Well, I’m not walking away yet. I’m just gonna stand here for a little while. The worst they could tell us is, ‘No, go away’.” So, we all shook our heads and agreed. And, wouldn’t you know it, another volunteer staff member came up directly behind OUR group instead, placed her hand there, and shouted again, “If you’re standing behind this guy right here, come back tomorrow at 11!” And the realization slowly hit us. We did it! We were the last ones in line for these autographs! What an amazing come-from-behind turn of events! I had gone from my lowest possible moment to the greatest high you could possibly imagine in a matter of minutes. This was going to happen. I was going to be able to go one-on-one for just a brief amount of time with Nobuo Uematsu!

I had been told one very important thing before going to Galveston that weekend. “Don’t be a pussy. Talk to Nobuo, and use your Japanese.” You have no idea how intimidating an idea this seemed. It’s true that I went to school for Japanese, and that I came back with a cool certificate and that I’d taken a JLPT test and am certified in incredibly basic Japanese, but that didn’t make it any less intimidating. My Japanese is NOWHERE near perfection, and it needs a metric ton of work. And trying to speak to someone who heavily influenced and inspired me was going to be difficult in any language, let alone one that is not native to me. Sure, I could pansy out and just tell him something in English and let his translator do all the work for him. But, you know what? What I was told was right. I needed to challenge myself. For my own sake, to get over my petrification of using Japanese at all, I needed to do this.

Eventually, it was my turn to speak to Nobuo. He was the first one out of all of the band members, so I had no time to look at him and think about it. I had to do this now. I’d hardly given any thought to what I wanted to say. I started with some really simple things in Japanese. I held out my program guide, page already turned to the Earthbound Papas spread. “Sign this, please.” Nobuo seemed unsure of where to sign it, since the page was covered in text and photos. But it didn’t matter to me where he signed, so long as he did. I told him, “Anywhere is fine.” So, he began to place his signature to the page. And in my head, I’m watching him sign the thing, and it’s all going in slo-mo, and I’m thinking to myself, “You idiot! He’s halfway through his signature! If you don’t say something now, the moment will be gone and you’ll regret it forever!” And my tongue feels all slow and fat as I start, but I finally manage to get out in Japanese, “That concert was the greatest.” And he looks all taken aback and asks me if I’m serious… I’m pretty sure I said something else, but in the moment I’ve lost memory of what I said, and he and his translator complimented me on my Japanese, but I did the polite thing I was always told and said to them, “No, I still have a long ways to go.” I was thrilled. I thanked Nobuo, and Nobuo thanked me. The exchange was incredibly brief, but you have no idea how satisfying it was to address this fear of mine, and to say, “I did it! I exchanged words with one of my greatest heroes!” This man has held presence in my life for pretty much as long as I’ve been alive and playing video games. This was an incredibly triumphant moment for me, no matter how small it may appear on the outside.

Talking to the other band members was pretty great, too. When they heard me using Japanese, they decided to speak to me in Japanese, too, rather than going to their interpreter first, which was fun. The drummer actually recognized me from the front row! All the other band members noticed I was carrying a pizza box (I’d been smart and kept myself fed while waiting in line for the concert). I offered each of them a slice, and while none of them took one, they all laughed as I offered it to them in Japanese. Whether it was because they thought it was cute or thought I sounded stupid trying to speak Japanese, I didn’t really care at that point. The experience was fun. Some of them attempted to try to autograph the pizza box. Heh, that would have been cool, but not nearly as cool as the end result on that particular page of the program guide.

I basically considered my weekend over after that night. I left back in the direction of San Antonio early that next morning, more pleased than you can imagine. I plan on eventually getting this page picture framed, as a reminder of this awesome story, a story of a great night at the front row of a fantastic concert, pushing my way through massive crowds, and in the face of adversity finding myself achieving when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to. What a fantastic story! What a great event!

Thank you, again, Uematsu-san and the Earthbound Papas! It’s a set of memories I’ll never forget!