July 2, 2010

For My Sister, Who Has Been Ill

When you are better, Torch will take you to see The A-Team! (Spoiler: You won't see any of the above dance moves in it.) Three cheers!

In honor of you, here are five life lessons The A-Team taught us. We learned something, suckas! Don't say we didn't.

Everything Five Things I Need To Know That Can't Hurt To Know I Learned From The A-Team.

1. Fools deserve your pity.
2. Drink your milk, it's good for you.
3. Be a team player.
4. It's great when plans come together.
5. There is no such thing as too much jewelry.


June 30, 2010

Here There Be Vampyres

(Because bastardizing three of my favorite things results in punny titles.)

On this, the precipice of the film version of Stephenie Meyer's Eclipse, I pause to do my vampiric duty in shaking my head at 'kids these days' and reminiscing (in my rocking chair on my porch while yelling at the kids to get off my damn lawn, naturally) about the vampires of yore.

First, I can no longer use the word 'twilight' without grimacing. For that alone Stephenie Meyer really ought to be held accountable. That is a crime. Twilight was once a lovely word. Evocative, moody, perfectly suitable for that time between evening and nightfall. Now... grimace.

To be fair, in my pre-teen day the most popular vampires were probably The Lost Boys. Kiefer Sutherland and his merry band of leather-jacketed vagabond hellions. Daredevil delinquents rabble-rousing to a pounding soundtrack only to ultimately be offed by the Coreys Deux. Still, all things considered and the 80s being the 80s, The Lost Boys remains a classic even if its mythology is questionable and its actual vampires less undead than gratefully dead -RAWK-. I would take Kiefer and Co. over Edward Von SparklePout any day. Then again, I have both taste and age on my side. Comparatively, I mean.

Reaching farther back, past the sheen of pop culture, I remember when vampires were monsters. They were never, I think, intended for swooning mass consumption by a largely underage audience. Anne Rice is partly to blame for their rebirth into the erotic but despite the beauty and ambiguous sexuality of her vampire anti-heroes, she still understood that their nature was first monstrous and only secondly alluring. The appeal was always underscored by the horror. They could not find true pleasure in anything but blood. Deprived of everything human, they yearned for the life held in veins, companionship and some form of redemption or even death and instead found insanity, loneliness, and damnation. And that is the truth of the vampire, clothed though it may be in the marble flesh of seeming perfection.

Before Anne Rice allowed her vampires to question and brood and be lovely in spite of their hideous nature, vampires were monsters pure and simple. Every culture has a vampire folklore underpinning it and though they all manifest differently and are called by different names, the through-tale of corpses rising after death to feed off the blood of the living has been a staple myth for centuries. Literature first embraced the vampire as a better-dressed and more articulately elegant version of a zombie but they always brought death, destruction, fear, and suffering. They were never a loving force or a protective one but were shadows come to life, night terrors feeding off your very pulse. A host of celluloid vampires pay homage to this time-honored tradition: offering vampires who are truly monstrous creatures, undead and stalking and impossible to escape. If they look beautiful, it is only to ensnare their human prey. Beneath they are calculating threats. Nosferatu, The Shadow of the Vampire, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Salem's Lot, From Dusk Till Dawn, The Hunger, 30 Days of Night.

Along with eroticism, vampires have long been associated with doomed romance. The love born of the monstrous ends in disaster. Mina is forced to kill Dracula in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Catherine Deneuve's Miriam is ultimately destroyed by her decayed lovers in The Hunger. The vampire as threat, as animated blood-seeking corpse, as destructive force, as monster is the point. No matter the beauty, no matter the epic span of the romance, the vampire is the unholy undead. No good can come of the alliance between corpse and mortal.

And ultimately what is lost in this generation's feverish adoration of the brooding, sparkling, loyally abstinent boyfriend-vamps of Twilight is the horror. Each generation has it's take on vampires. No two, like decaying snowflakes, appear alike. Yet all, until now, even Anne Rice's beloved Lestat, have been some kind of monster. There has been something in them to fear - either overtly and outright (as with the predatory shrieking creatures in 30 Days of Night) or subtly (as with Interview With The Vampire's quietly woeful Louis). What is there to fear in Twilight except an elite group of vampires in Europe who challenge the status of the do-gooder Cullens or the revenge-driven fury of Victoria? This generation sees vampires as accessible, as matinee idols to worship or as potential boyfriend material. The monsters among them are aberrations, not the norm.

That, to me, is the tragedy. Because whatever else vampires gave us, they gave us nightmares. They fueled our fear of cemeteries and sent prickles up our spines in the dark. They hunted us. They terrified us even as we were drawn to them in fascination. And we loved it.

June 28, 2010

Bond. *cough* James Bond.

I've been ill recently so have spent inordinate amounts of time buried under duvets on the couch watching Bond films back to back.

Ten things I've learned from Pierce Brosnan's Bond:

1. Straighten your tie after nearly being garroted.
2. Defy authority but only in a way that ultimately serves Queen and country.
3. I absolutely need a camouflage-shield for my BMW.
4. I need a BMW first.
(What happened to the Aston Martin? I prefer the Aston Martin.)
5. If your phone can't drive your car, you're doing tele-communications wrong.
6. Media moguls are generally up to no good.
7. Cuban genetic reconstruction technology is virtually Trek-like.
8. If you shoot a villain in the head but don't kill him, you'll turn him into an invincible super-villain.
9. Don't trust women.
10. Unless they're foreign spies like you.

Life lessons for the 90s version of the first world double-o agent in all of us.