A scooter at midnight during the war

There is always a war…

Down in San Bruno, California
there are renegades and vampires
running gun and overrunning every street.
There are always women in the crosswalks
shepherding their invisible children
to non-existent schools.
These women drink hard liquor for no pay,
because that’s their little piece
of The American Way.

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So long as we're talking vampires…

Let’s blame Anne Rice

Or, more specifically, if we’re going to start bitching about teenie-bopper bloodsuckers (which, I agree, are a true scourge), then really, we need to blame Lestat, Rice’s tortured antihero from Interview with a Vampire, published in 1976.

In 2009, Entertainment Weekly cited Lestat as the most influential vampire ever. “Foppishly charming, endearingly tortured, and always trendy no matter what the century, he became the template for all culturally relevant vampires since,” the article said.

Make no mistake: this most recent plague of brat-packish vampires is more about “commercial viability” than “cultural relevance.” A quick look at Barnes & Noble’s shelves tonight showed no less than five shelf-segments—fifty four-foot shelves—of “teen paranormal romance.” Good god. Continue reading

Nota Bene #100: Il Planetario di Figaro

Wow, 100 issues of Nota Bene! Props to Russ for helping me for a while with this nifty little S&R feature. Never mind all that now, let’s get on with this issue. “What splendid buildings our architects would be able to execute if only they could finally be less obedient to gravity!” Who said it? Continue reading

The Strain: A new vision of vampirism

ArtsWeek_Halloween

Strain-coverAnyone who’s seen Guillermo del Toro’s recent movies—Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy movies (and a two-part The Hobbit on the way)—probably expect anything spawned by that mind to be boldly imaginative. Del Toro takes risks and he paints large while paying attention to the most meticulous details.

So when del Toro teamed up with Chuck Hogan to write a vampire trilogy, fans understandably expected something crazy, crazy, crazy good.

With the first part of that trilogy, The Strain, fans do indeed get something good—but it lacks the crazy, crazy, crazy.

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Zombies: The new media darlings

ArtsWeek_Halloween

Zombie: Don't worry. Only people with brains get eaten. You're safe.
Zombie: Don’t worry. Only people with brains
get eaten. You’re safe.

They aren’t sexy. They aren’t romantic. They aren’t tragically doomed.

In fact, they’re ravenous, violent, and virtually unstoppable. They ooze all sorts of bodily fluids. And they want to eat your brains.

So how come zombies are getting such mainstream media treatment?

As a culture, we love and loath things that go bump in the night. We have to have boogeymen, for all sorts of reasons. Because they touch deep psychological fears in profound ways, our boogeymen serve as a kind of moral check on behavior that laws and rules just sometimes can’t. At the other end of the spectrum, we seem to have a lot of fun being scared. Boogeymen do that for us, too. Continue reading

Vampires and late-night TV spots

by greg stene, phd

Okay. It’s 3:21 in the ayem. The bright digital numbers in the dark tell you that. The generalized anxiety of impending death sometime in the next three decades or so (if the game gets played out that long and some bus doesn’t take you out while you’re on your way to the life insurance company offices to add another $50K onto the policy) … slammed your eyes wide open and you know, like so many other nights before, that there’s no sleep coming just by hanging in bed.

The only way out of this is to let the TV work its early-morning trank-effect on you with the white noise of meaningless dialog and visuals. Continue reading