Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I went to C2E2 and all I got was this crappy con crud

C2E2 stands for Con Crud Easter Edition
Oh, that heading isn't really true. It is true that I have strep throat, but I'm going to go on the record as saying it was totally worth it. The best part of C2E2 was meeting up with my special ladies from Geektress and my special gays from Comic Book Queers. If you are not following both of these groups on both facebook and twitter, you should do so now. Hijinx and shenanigans are abundant in both organizations.
So, being at McCormick Place with thousands of my people was good for my soul and mind, if not so much for my immune system. The best part of the con happened within the first 10 minutes of hitting the floor. I geeked out on the lucky folks at the Random House booth and got a few ARCs to read and review both here and at Geektress in the coming weeks. I also got on their press list, so hopefully, there will be many ARCs in the future as well.
Look at that puppy - that's A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin, and it's not even finished. When I saw this on Suvudu, I had to stop myself from licking the computer screen.

Speaking of Suvudu, head on over to their site or to Geektress to take a look at my thoughts on their 2011 Cage Matches. I'm a little miffed over some of the results, but ah well. It's all for funsies.

Other highlights from C2E2:

Laura and BK of Geektress bought me one of these:
I bought this guy right here:

Much like my husband, his name is Dave and he looks cat-like.
I actually bought a few Ugly Dolls and nerdy onsies for all of the babies that were born in March. I had 4 friends give birth this month, three of them on the same day. Effing babies, man.

I said "hey" to Katie Cook. If you don't love her now, get to steppin' and check her out already.

Garth Ennis photobomb!!!!!!

Remember the time The Punisher killed, like, everything? That was awesome.
Also, pay close attention to the shirt I'm wearing. You like that? You can get one of your very own by going here and making with the clickity.

We at Geektress love the boobies.
And finally, on Sunday, there were all kinds of shenanigans and a very excellent panel discussion on LGBT comics, featuring some folks at Prism, hosted by StevieD of Comic Book Queers. Hot oil, AIDS babies, gay Punisher, and lots and lots of amazing LGBT writers and artists to check out.

I'm sure I'm forgetting things, but the crud is getting to me. I need a nap. And I need to hurry and finish Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss so I can give you all my two cents whether you asked for them or not.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dexter Season 1 is ruining my Weight Watchers plan

OMG Deb! Look up! Your brother is a murderer!!!

So, uh, yeah... I finally saw season 1 of Dexter almost 5 years after it first aired on Showtime. I like my television shows to marinate for a while before I get into them. I started watching Lost in season 3 and The X-Files at the tail end of season 2. I have a hard time watching television from the beginning as it airs. I like to know a show is nice and developed before I invest my time. Because I'm picky about my television. Yes, even the trash television. I can only watch one or two shows at a time, so I choose them carefully. Right now, these shows happen to be Dexter and RuPaul's Drag Race.


I like Dexter a lot. I had my doubts at first. Suspension of disbelief can be a tricky thing. I'm still not entirely on board with the idea that Harry taught Dexter how to be a conscientious serial killer as opposed to getting him psychiatric help, but whatever. There wouldn't be a show if Harry hadn't had incredibly fucked up ideas about how to raise a child.

But Dexter has really surprised me, and I'm not often surprised in terms of storytelling. If a plot point catches me off guard, the narrative is a good one. In season 1 of Dexter, I knew who the ice Truck Killer was ahead of time, but only kind of. The big reveal about how he was connected to Dexter came out of nowhere. But, pesky suspension of disbelief again, why the hell would Harry take one kid out of a blood soaked storage unit and not the other one? I hope there's more to this story in future episodes.

Only one of you will grow up in a loving family. The other one can fuck off.
Dexter has superb plot development and witty writing. I love the first person narrative, which is really unique to television and usually done badly. But this works. Dexter doesn't quite break the fourth wall, and without his thoughts made clear, this would be an entirely different program.

Writing engaging main characters takes talent. If we're going to stare at the same person for 43 minutes (with commercial breaks) a week, then we better like him or her. But what makes Dexter great instead of just good are its secondary characters. They're like grace notes - not always noticeable when present but the piece would suffer for their absence. And in their absence, we realize just how important they are. For example, I get really bummed if my favorite secondary character isn't featured in an episode.

Dear Mr. Batista: My husband would like his wardrobe back. Kthxbai.

I adore Angel Batista. And because I adore him, he'll probably die fairly quickly. Mr. Two Monkeys and I are about 3 episodes into season 2, and Angel has discovered Oprah. I haven't laughed so hard at television in a long time. And the humor of this show with a horribly grisly premise is part of what makes it so good. I can laugh at Angel and his character does not cheapen the show. On the contrary, Angel may say and do funny things, but he has his own tragic story that only catches minutes of camera time here and there.  All of the not so major players have fully developed lives that do not revolve around Dexter Morgan. And the glimpses we get of these lives are just enough to keep us wanting more without overwhelming the main point of the show, which is: Dexter kills killers and becomes conflicted about this as time goes on.

The only character I don't like is Rita. I really hope she grows over time, and yes I know what happens to her later. But by the time she meets her nasty end, I want to be sad that she's gone. I don't know - maybe part of my issue with her is that I know she dies so I don't want to get too attached. But damn if she isn't the whiniest, most co dependant character on pay TV.

"Dexter, I have to poop, but I thought I would ask your permission first. Is that okay with you?"
Grr. I really, really hope she matures as a character. I understand - her ex often beat her into submission and she's very put upon. Rita's character is one of frailty, and this is why Dexter is attracted to her. I get this. But Rita's problem solving skills are almost nonexistent, and when she isn't harassing Dexter with her poor decision making abilities, she's nagging him to go to NA. I know that part is in season 2, but damn woman, he does everything for you. Just let him kill people once in a while.

Overall, I like this show a lot. There are the disbelief issues - the other major one being how the hell Deb doesn't know her brother is messed up. She was engaged to the Ice Truck Killer and was raised with another serial killer. How does she not sense something, anything, is amiss?

"Where did that dead body come from? It was there when you got here? Oh, okay."
But yeah, I look forward to watching the rest of the series, albeit long after everyone else. I just hope there aren't as many donuts in subsequent seasons. Another question I hope gets an answer: How do all of these characters stay so thin while eating so many donuts?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Dresden Files: Significant Stuff Finally Happens

I've been using my nook to read The Dresden Files since Christmas time. So, isn't it ironic that I post the picture and link to the amazon page?  I'm an equal opportunity book whore.

I've been liking The Dresden Files pretty well so far. The books have their issues. Big bads get defeated too easily after a crazy buildup of their invincibility. The dreaded deus ex machina shows up in every book in one form or another. There aren't many drastic consequences to drastic actions taken by Harry & Co. Until now.

Blood Rites is the sixth book in the series and the one where I feel like the characters have finally made some significant progress. So far, these books have felt like straight up supernatural crime stories that get wrapped up in the end and the next book moves on without anyone changing. Plot points get brought up from one book to the other, but overall I think the first five books would work well as stand alones. Butcher does do a good job of going over major facts from previous books without bogging readers down with redundancy.

A lot of readers, and Butcher himself, feel that Grave Peril, the third book, was the jumping off point for multi-book plot lines, and to an extent that is true. The White Council and the Red Court go to war in Grave Peril, which is important, but not to the individual plot lines of each book. At least not yet. I do have another 6 Dresden books to read. But some of the actions in Blood Rites have seriously lasting repercussions that change the overarching story. We learn a lot more about Harry's mother and the brother he never knew he had. Harry takes a physical hit that he does not recover from. He's also forced to question his entire upbringing (which actually kind of pissed me off because Harry can sometimes be really dense and so stubborn he crosses over into stupid). Our favorite incubus, Thomas, takes an emotional hit that he does not recover from. Actually, he takes multiple hits. I'm only about 30 pages into Dead Beat (book seven) and know that Thomas is no longer the vampire we met in Grave Peril.

I like risk. I like when characters take huge risks and they don't always pay off. Or maybe they do pay off but the character comes out of the situation worse for wear. I'm big on character period. I don't always find the plots of the Dresden books very interesting, but I enjoy the character development and world building enough that I'm not too bothered. I like to see characters change and grow. I like for their actions to have permanent consequences. This is why I have a hard time sticking with any long running non-indie comic book for very long. Nothing ever sticks - not even death. And this is why I like George R.R. Martin so much, even though he's slow as hell. When he kills someone off, they stay dead. When a character loses a body part, it stays lost. Retconning the consequences of any given action in a story, cheapens the action in question. I hate that.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say without spoiling Blood Rites is that stuff happens beyond the "murder on a porn movie set" plot. Stuff that characters don't bounce back from. Stuff that will change the story as we know it thus far.

I'm taking a break from the Dresden books for a bit, because I finally got this in the mail:

I got the actual 1000 page book because sometimes, I like my nerdery old school.
 But I'm looking forward to continuing with Dresden once I've gobbled up Wise Man's Fear and have to wait another 5 years for Rothfuss' next book. I'm excited about where Butcher's characters are going. I have a total girl crush on Murphy and would continue reading The Dresden Files for her character alone.