Tag Archive | Social Commentary

Vampires Don’t Sparkle

For a long time, the undead have been sort of a hobby of mine.

Vampires, when I was a teenager, were the shit. They were super bad-ass and cool and I wanted to be one in the worst way. I even went so far as to buy a pair of those plastic molded-to-your-teeth vampire fangs. They weren’t nearly as cheesy as the white plastic vending machine chompers I’m sure we all had at some point. These, when properly done, were fairly convincing.
These things were state-of-the-art (sort of) and billed as movie quality (not quite). They cost me $50 at a time when $50 actually meant it was really expensive. Of course, for some, $50 for vampire fangs is way too much even now. I saw the value. I even bought them out of season. Those and make-up which would make my skin pale and nigh-translucent thanks to a trick taught to me by a guy down at Costume Spotlight on the South Side (still a kick ass costume shop which I fully endorse). Come fall, I worked a haunted house, and it was awesome.
I used to wear these fangs all the time. I took them to school on occasion. I would wear them just sitting around the house to wear them. When I LARPed a Vampire: the Masquerade game (for which I had almost all of the source material), I sometimes wore them. They were key components in many Halloween costumes I’d devised after that point. When the plastic molding wore down, I found out from a friend that you could use simple dental adhesive to stick them on to your canines. I bought a tube of PolyGrip and kept on trucking. They looked even cooler when applied this way.

Yes. I was a huge dork. Huger than huge, even. Shit, who am I kidding, I’m still a huge dork.

I haven’t worn the fangs in years. I think I may have even lost one. I would still see them in costume shops around Halloween in their little coffin-shaped box and I sorta pined for them even though I’d given up on vampires ever being truly cool again.
I started my vampire career reading the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles, jumping on the bandwagon around the time Interview With the Vampire was released in theaters. Those books made vampires truly awesome (for the early 90s, that is). That first run, up through book five, Memnoch the Devil, shaped vampires as something kick ass in my mind. Flying around, kicking people’s asses, reading thoughts, setting people on fire with your mind… Lestat even wound up being immune to the sun. Tell me that wasn’t a bad-ass vampire.
The only problem I had with the books were that they were slightly homo-erotic, which was excusable in the amount presented in The Vampire Lestat but was glaringly opaque and abundant in by Tale of the Body Thief (at which point, I just said “ew” and squirmed a bit, but still couldn’t put the book down).
That whole thing isn’t my bag, and her books slowly became more and more populated with those particular overtones, which is why I quit right after Merrick (I had actually resigned myself to quitting halfway through that particular train wreck). Things stopped being cool and started to sound a lot more like Anne Rice’s self-serving character erotica. Like, she’d always wanted to see Marius poke Armand, so she wrote it down and sold it. Kind of a shitty way to suddenly shift gears on the fans. I asked for vampires kicking ass not licking ass, Anne, kthx.

Beyond just the literature, when I was a teenager, I was collecting White Wolf gaming books by the ton. I had just about every Vampire: the Masquerade book and most of the other World of Darkness series. I was fascinated by a secret world of vampires and, as I mentioned briefly, got to the point where I joined a local Live-Action Role Playing group where I would run around in the middle of the night on a Saturday and pretend to be a vampire. Yes, it’s as nerdy as it sounds.
At least I didn’t dress up. I wore street clothes, because my character was a normal dude who just happened to be a vampire. I couldn’t get into the whole “dark servant of the night” get up. If I wanted to walk away from the game and go to get a cup of coffee or something to eat, I wouldn’t have to look like I just stumbled out of a Goth club. I never got into wearing the clothing, but loved it (still do) when the chicks dress up like that. So hot. I digress…
Of course, I found this game (this particular LARP, I should say) late into my love affair with vampires, so it was kinda ancillary. Something to do when you’re too young to even think about drinking at a bar and don’t feel like sitting around in a Denny’s chugging coffee and playing cards all night.
By my senior year in High School, I was done with vampires. I had moved on to other things. I’d started getting into comics (again) and writing my own stuff. By the time I was in art school, I was done with the whole thing.
Of course, I would gobble up the occasional Anne Rice novel as something fun to read (I still liked the characters) in between everything. That was about where it ended, though.

Years went by. I figured I was over it.

Then came Twilight. And, oh, was I pissed. My passion for vampires was initially reinvigorated by my disgust with and hatred for this very series.
What kind of garbage is this, I thought. Vampires who can walk in the day and not burst immediately into flames in an overly-descriptive manner? They do what? They fucking SPARKLE?!? What kind of crap is this?
Oh, and they’re so depressed and emo about being vampires that they could just cut themselves. Blah blah I love this chick blah blah not gonna do anything about it because I’m a vampire blah blah unrequited love blah blah obsession blah blah love blah blah.

I thought I was going to vomit.

A friend of mine told me about the existence of these books. I told her that they sounded lame as all hell. She tried to convince me that they weren’t. I still refrained from picking them up. I’m proud to say that the closest I’ve come to reading one of Stephanie Meyer’s glorified rolls of toilet paper is reading the synopsis of them on Wiki, just to see how dumb and emo the story really was.
I find myself appalled that and entire generation thinks that this is what vampires are; whiny little bitches who complain about being immortal and cry because they can’t find true love. Then again, I suppose the shoe fits. That seems to be the mantra of these pathetic children anymore. Whine about things and maybe something good will happen. Make sure to do it in a high-pitched, snotty sounding voice and it may just come to pass. Then, when something good does happen, you can complain about how it wasn’t what you really wanted anyway and whine some more.
Stephanie Meyer and the cast of the horrid movies based on her wretched excuse for a series of novels should be burned alive for their crimes against society. They’ve taken something awesome and have turned it into something completely, totally, and unforgiveably retarded.
But, there is hope, vampire fans. Charlaine Harris has brought us hope riding on the back of HBO and carried by Anna Paquin.

True Blood looks to possibly wash away the sins of Stephanie Meyer. I know that it cannot stop the juggernaut that is Twilight fandom, but in the heart of this old vampire-lover, it has rekindled the fact that vampires can still be completely bad-ass.

The Southern Vampire Mysteries (or the Sookie Stackhouse novels), a series of almost a dozen books and short stories by Charlaine Harris, is the inspiration for True Blood in case you didn’t know. I will say that, if you’re following the TV show, and if the TV show is following as close to the book series as I’m assuming it is, you will not want to read the books for fear of massively gigantic spoilers. I just read one while checking Wiki to make sure I had the author’s name spelled right and peeking at a character bio of Sookie herself. Trust me, stay away if you want to preserve the surprises in the series.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t read the books. I’m planning on picking them up and possibly making them a winter project. Reading is fundamental and I’ve never been one to really care too much about spoilers, unless they’re disappointing. But, then I’m just mad at myself in hindsight.
I admit, I did not give True Blood a chance when I first read the synopsis. A new show about vampires suddenly popping up in the post-apocalyptic Twilight era didn’t exactly sound promising. Sounded more like a ratings grab to get ahold of that teeny-bopper emo fuckhead lonely soccer mom audience that Stephanie “the mother fucking anti-christ” Meyer seems to attract. I ended up only really catching the last few episodes of the first season and missing what were probably some important details. I’ve since gotten the skinny from friends regarding what I missed, so it’s all good.
Now, well into season two, I can say that I’m addicted and I can say that vampires are officially out of the emo kid dungeon and are now back where they are meant to be: at the top of the supernatural creature food chain.
If you are or ever considered yourself a vampire fan and you’re not watching True Blood, fucking start. They have successfully “de-gayed” vampirisim and made it what it’s supposed to be again: super bad-ass immortals beating the shit out of each other and engaging in centuries-long chess games to try and be the last one standing.
Oh, and there’s also Daybreakers coming soon. Vampire apocalypse movie. Check out the trailer. They have it at IMDB. Looks pretty rough and totally not Twilight.

It’s just nice to see that the evolution of a trend can come full circle, especially after going so far off the map. It gives me hope that the entertainment industry might actually be able to pull itself out of the shit hole of crap shows they’ve been throwing at us for the last five years. So few are actually worth watching and True Blood is one of them. I suppose I should know better than to doubt HBO original programming.

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

And Taxes

I read an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the other day talking about being a green parent.
I wasn’t reading it out of particular interest. I just happened to be in a position where I was, um, isolated and out of things to read, if you catch my drift.
One of the blurbs I caught in the article called for parents to spend the extra bank and buy an actual wooden crib rather than one made out of wooden composites. The reasoning behind it was that the faux-wood incorporates some sort of degrading something or another that releases a microscopically insignificant amount of a form of formaldehyde gas which can potentially harm the environment and (brace yourself) possibly your baby!!!

Cue the dramatic score.

Every day, something comes out in the news that’s good or bad for you. I realize that I’m certainly not the first to talk about this. I will admit it. In response to a newspaper article like this, I feel it necessary to have my opinion tossed on the pile.

We live in, as Hunter Thompson said, a Kingdom of Fear. It seems like every five minutes, there’s something else to be afraid of in this country stemming largely from the Western philosophy’s deeply instilled fear of death. Were it not for this looming dread, we would largely not care.
The paranoia of our society has some people tilting so hard at those windmills that they wind up walking around wearing surgical masks as if there’s going to be a pandemic-level outbreak at any given moment. These same people also fool themselves into thinking that it’s going to drastically increase their survivability if they wear a surgical mask everywhere they go.
We are so afraid of death that we have teams of scientists working around the clock to figure out the next big thing that could very well kill us all. The History Channel has been running specials pretty much every weekend regarding different methods of apocalypse, all of which end with the utter destruction of humanity with so-called “experts” touting that just about every one of them is right around the corner.

If you ask anyone from the World War II era, and there are quite a few still around, what things were like as far as health concerns, they’ll probably be able to tell you that four out of five doctors preferred Lucky Strike brand cigarettes. Some of the more gruff gentlemen, especially those that served, would tell you that if you smoked those cigarettes with a filter on them, you were a pussy.
We’ve come along way from there to the Truth campaign (which, incidentally, is sponsored by Big Tobacco).

To the modern generation, these old-timers must seem like cavemen.
They ate bacon and unprocessed red meat with reckless abandon, they drank like fish, they smoked like chimneys, their water was not necessarily purified, there were no airbags, they did not use Purel every five seconds, and they absolutely did not fist-bump. Even after all of that, it may shock some people to hear that they have survived. They lived well into their later years, most of them. Sure, some died at 60, but others are now over 90, my grandmother included.
These people are made of iron. Why? Certainly not from being overly careful as to what they ingested. There are some in their 90s who refuse to give up smoking. More power to them, I say. You’re fucking 90. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.
I saw an advertisement that came out of the 30s proclaiming jar-kept tapeworms as a miracle diet. Not that this was necessarily a good thing, but this just illustrates how little they cared about what they put into their bodies back then. I’m sure everyone who took up the tapeworm diet was pretty well rotten in the ground before I was even a consideration in the eyes of the universe.

My real point here is this:
Are we, by being overprotective of ourselves due to an overlying fear of death, setting ourselves up for doom? There are enough people in the world who do not realize that washing your hands every five minutes with anti-bacterial soap, or pouring on the Purel after touching any surface, could be contributing to the mutation of dangerous strains of bacteria that may someday overcome these such antiseptic agents. That study is real. Look it up.
Are we, by processing our food and irradiating things to make sure that all we ingest is pure and 100% germ free, setting ourselves up for a plague by weakening our immune system to the common, everyday, here-to-fore disregarded germs we would have normally taken in on a regular basis eating older school food? It already happens when one of us from the world of processed foods (myself included) eats or drinks something considered “organic”. The lack of preservatives and other germ-preventing agents gives me a stomach ache just thinking about it. That’s not a disgust factor, that’s just real. It’s happened to me and it ain’t pretty. If you try to grow an apple tree after the apocalypse (if you happen to be a survivor) expect this pain.

Are we, by taking too many preventative measures against every conceivable cause of death, not just tempting fate to come up with something ultimately more sneaky and horrible with which to kill us all? Stop global warming and you’ll still have to worry about the giant asteroid. Stop the giant asteroid, you’ll have to worry about nuclear holocaust. Create world peace, you’ll wind up back at global warming again.
The more we fight, the more we attempt to preserve ourselves and try to stop the death train, the crazier the causes of death are going to become. Hear me out, here.
Once we get to the point where we can stop the potential world ending scenarios, the peace of mind is going to last a grand total of five minutes before someone else comes up with something to worry about on a global scale.

What’s the conclusion, then?
Stop worrying about dumb shit like what’s in your damn crib. It worked for you and you turned out ok. Your kid should be just fine if you can’t afford the extra hundred or so bones in this fucked up economy. The whatever microscopic gas released from its decomposition will not harm or kill you, your baby, your dog, the spiders that live in the corner of your room, or the ever-present microbes crawling on the rail of the crib itself.
When you die, you will die, and there won’t be much you can do about it. Kick and scream though you might, to die is to die. You can’t really object when it’s your time.
Scary as it sounds, it’s the flattest of all facts. Ben Franklin said the two constants in life are death and taxes. Well, you can dodge taxes forever if you’re smart, but death is completely unavoidable.
I’m not saying it’s a good thing, I’m just saying not to worry about it. Death is sad, yes. Death is scary, yes. But there’s no sense in letting it dominate your life. If all you worry about is injury and sickness and death, you are NEVER going to have a life. Ever.

Sorry to be such a downer on my third entry here, but it’s something I’m passionate about. Bear with me. I only hope to inspire the carpe diem philosophy. I promise, there will be a brighter and more fun entry ASAFP.

Keep fighting the good fight. Until you drop.

—end transmission—