Monday, August 30, 2010

BLOGGING ECLIPSE, pt. 14: Ordnance Tactics

Previous entries can be found in the directory (updated 8/30).

Chapter 10: Scent

Bella and Edward are in mid-playful-argument because Edward is leaving for Jacob's visit; she doesn't understand why they refuse to be around each other. Still holding out for that threesome, eh Bella? When Edward hugs her goodbye, he buries his face in her hair and then laughs. I see what you are doing there, Edward – that's the most polite way of marking his territory he can think of. (And that last sentence was the most polite way of expressing that sentiment I could could think of.) Bella starts doing the dishes and Jacob comes in; there's a running gag where she keeps spilling water all over herself around him, getting soaking wet. Read into that what you will. She observes that Jacob is, as always, half-naked. It's becoming a joke now, like S, Meyer is feeling guilty. Well, starting to feel guilty; she still wants to titillate. This is having your ab cake and eating it too. “Is it so impossible to wear clothes?” Bella says, before mentally admitting that his muscles are “impressive.” See how you can straddle that divide? See how that's what she said?

Jacob explains that it's more practical to just carry around one item - “My clothes don't just pop in and out of existence when I change – I have to carry them with me when I run.” S. Meyer has decided to address the “Incredible Hulk Problem” head on, then. Jacob has a cord around his ankle that he apparently uses to keep his jorts fastened to his wolf-self. Why the jorts, if it has to be one item? Why not make it a jumpsuit, Jacob? All of the werewolves could do it, like a team uniform. Then at least they could go into convenience stores and the like. Do you think Jacob's cutoffs are the kind where the pockets stick out the bottom? I hope so.

He grinned. “Does my being half-naked bother you?”
“No.” I answered too quickly, but I felt like I had a responsibility to all women and gay men in that moment.

Bella starts blushing, which she says is “left over from embarrassment at my own stupidity” and not at all to do with Jacob's abs. I like that Bella's denial is even extending into the narration – she does not speak those lines aloud. Jacob goes and gets the scent of the intruder, and then returns to help Bella with the dishes. He asks her, “What's it like – having a vampire for a boyfriend?” which seems like a line entirely written here so it will show up in a movie later so it can be used in the trailer for said movie. I've been re-watching Weeds, and in the first season Mary-Louise Parker gets stuck with a lot of lines like, “I'm just a mother selling weed in the suburban town of Agrestic!” I guess in case people were just tuning in. This whole conversation is a little like that. But there's a “fuck you” to vampire purists in there too: Jacob asks if they kiss, and Bella says yes.

“You don't worry about the fangs?”
I smacked his arm, splashing him with dishwater. “Shut up, Jacob! You know he doesn't have fangs.”

Take that, Anne Rice! Go bitch about this at the next D&D game, nerds! Jacob continues to question her. (“Is his dick ice cold?”-Where this is heading) Bella gets frustrated. “I scrubbed a boning knife with more force than necessary,” she says. Boning knife! That's some symbolism right there if I've ever seen it. (“If there's a boning knife in the kitchen in the second act, some people will bone by the fourth book.”-Anton Chekov) Jacob brings up Bella's upcoming conversion; she tells him the plan is after graduation. Jacob's fists clench – one of them closing around the knife he was drying off.

So for a while in high school I was working as a cold-side chef at a restaurant, and my friend Brian got a job there too. It was my job to train him, and naturally I was a little too cavalier with my demonstrations. Midway through the day I went to get the pit out of an avocado, and tried to do it with the tip of the knife while holding the avocado in one hand. I don't know exactly what happened, but obviously the knife ended up in my hand rather than the avocado pit. So yeah, all of S. Meyer's descriptions of the deep gash in Jacob's hand hit a little too close to home for me, it's hard to know if it's well written or not. I was mostly just cringing and feeling phantom pains in my hand and scanning the page.

Bella starts insisting they go to the hospital, which Jacob refuses. “You look like you're going to pass out, and you're biting your lip off,” he tells her. It's been a while since we've had a good lip bite! This scene is written like we are all supposed to have forgotten that werewolves can heal, but Bella is the only one who has. Remember that scene in New Moon where Jacob offers to cut himself to show Bella? She doesn't! So when he shows her the pink line where the gaping cut was seconds before, it all comes back to her. She gets out some bleach and starts systematically scrubbing away the blood around the kitchen, like Dexter in a kill room. “We're a bit sensitive to blood around here,” she says. Though I would imagine werewolf blood would not be particularly tempting to a vampire anyway. Jacob says he's going to take off, and goes to hug Bella goodbye. He pushes her away immediately, since she reeks of vampire, nice work Edward. As he leaves he invites her to a party at La Push tonight (talk about short notice! Werewolves have no tact) and Bella is again noncommittal. Jacob bristles this time.

“Is he your warden now, too? You know I saw this story on the news last week about controlling, abusive teenage relationships, and –”

Between this and the jokes about Jacob's constant nudity, there's a weird tension in this chapter. The universe of Twilight is fundamentally bizarre and morally reprehensible, but until now it never seemed like S. Meyer knew it was bizarre and reprehensible. So we could at least give her the benefit of the doubt – the story is batshit because she is also batshit. But the more it seems like S. Meyer is aware of what she is doing, the less sense any of it makes. It's like in Inception when Ellen Page brings the two mirrors together, and Leonardo DiCaprio warns her that the more dream-like (and in a sense, self-aware) she makes the dream the less structural integrity the whole thing has. It's bad enough having Quil Ateara fall in love with a two year old child unwittingly. But to do it wittingly is even worse. I thought S. Meyer was accidentally warping the minds of a generation of teenage girls. Is she doing it on purpose? This dream is collapsing.

Edward returns as Jacob leaves, asking if they got into a fight. Bella insists they didn't, and Edward indicates the bloody knife sitting on the kitchen counter. “Dang! I thought I got everything,” Bella shouts. Dang?

Edward picked up the mail on his way back in – he has an acceptance envelope for Bella. From Dartmouth. Sure, okay. I'm not saying Bella isn't ivy league material, but the fuck-up after fuck-up driving the action in New Moon isn't the strongest endorsement. Hell, her narration isn't the strongest endorsement. I guess college admissions essays rarely have scenes of dialogue, so that minimizes the damage she could have done. My aforementioned friend Brian just graduated from Dartmouth, so I asked him for a react quote to this development.

(617): As a Dartmouth alum, how does it feel to know that in Twilight: Eclipse, Bella gets accepted there?
(202): Never been more proud of my alma mater.

It's very strongly suggested again that Edward bribed the school and Bella will be staying in the Edward Cullen dormitory (which will not be co-ed, obviously), so I'm sure Dartmouth's admissions office is proud too. Bella resists, and Edward tempts her with how proud it would make her parents if she attended for just a year. Dang, he's good. It starts to work, but she shakes it off and maintains that she will be sending a deposit to the University of Alaska, but only as an alibi. When I had to cash in all of my savings bonds and close my checking account to make my first tuition check it was hard enough, and I at least was actually going to college for my trouble. “This whole secrecy and deception thing is kind of a pain,” Bella observes.

Edward's expression hardened. “It gets easier. After a few decades, everyone you know is dead. Problem solved.”

Ouch. But Bella doesn't wilt. Good for her. I don't know if we're supposed to be hoping she won't choose to be a vampire – we're not, right? So far the only reasons against are “it's not nice to upset your parents” and “it's nice to be a parent.” I'll take immortality please, I think my mom will understand.

Bella has to go and re-adjust the washing machine, which gets thrown off balance by the single towel inside. That's a nice detail – who hasn't had to deal with a washing machine like this? (“There are benefits.”-Betty Draper) It's what makes this video so cathartic:

Bella asks Edward to find out where Alice put her pillow and clothes – Edward seems perplexed by the request. He immediately concludes that the vampire intruder must have stolen the items in question; they had her scent on them. (That he doesn't have to ask Alice if she cleaned Bella's room is a little creepy. Edward must do routine brain-scans on Alice, something no normal brother with a sister as whorish as Alice would do.) Bella's not going to get her pillow back? That sucks! I mean, it's also scary that yet another person seems to be after her or whatever, but her pillow? DANG! Edward gets the newspaper and the headline again advertises mass death in Seattle – the police have “no leads.”

“Carlisle's right... yes...very sloppy. Young and crazed? Or a death with?” he muttered to himself.

Obviously it's not that sloppy, if the police have no leads! Edward is convinced it's more than one newborn vampire, and that the Volturi will soon intervene. And nobody wants the Volturi coming for a visit; they're like your relatives who live across the country and only come home every five years and you just do everything in your power to avoid going to that fucking cookout. Edward fears his family might have to do a preemptive strike.

“We don't want to step in unless it's absolutely necessary. After all, it's not our responsibility.”

Right. Dozens of people are being slaughtered just MILES away, and you have super-strength and near invulnerability. What was it that Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker again? “With great power comes hiding from responsibility?” Is that right?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

BLOGGING ECLIPSE pt. 13: I Am A Breathing Time Machine

Previous entries can be found in the directory.

Chapter 9: Target

Bella goes back to her house and Charlie in the morning; he makes a big deal out of the fact that Jacob called and left a message: I'm sorry I'm such a dick. Charlie urges her to accept the apology, but Bella declines. Good.

“That's not very attractive behavior, Bella,” he said. “Forgiveness is divine.”

I thought Charlie was a cop, not my grandmother. By the way, telling your friends you wish they were dead: also not attractive behavior. While we're at it we should also add “dogmatically and nonsensically insisting on marriage and no sex before said marriage despite numerous otherworldly elements that one would assume would make registering with the state irrelevant” to that list. “Clawing off the face of your spouse in a bout of (admittedly) magic-induced rage,” is very unattractive behavior, as is “murdering the friends and security guards of your (admittedly) rapist-murderer ex-betrothed.” And “falling in love with a two year old child” deserves a spot near the top. This book is full of unattractive behavior, come to think of it – nobody is really in the position to cast the first stone. I guess Charlie sort of would be, so whatever.

Bella goes upstairs to do laundry and feels like something is amiss when she enters her room. Her pillow is gone, and a few clothing items she left scattered around are nowhere to be found. At first she assumes Alice cleaned and did laundry when she picked up Bella's things for the slumber party, but she doesn't find anything in the washing machine or the dryer. Bella goes searching for a red blouse in particular, but the doorbell rings and she goes to meet Edward. She answers the door with a smile, but Edward has a fierce, “shit is real” scowl on his face. Someone has been in the house – an unfamiliar vampire.

They talk in hushed anguish in the kitchen, and Charlie comes in and mistakes the situation for a fight, which obviously makes him happy. When they leave he's totally going to call Billy with the good news. In another, better book, that whole scenario could be played for that kind of laughter that eventually becomes sadness: Billy and Charlie are both alone, so they get too involved in silly teen dramas in order to distract themselves from their searing pain. But I'm pretty sure S. Meyer is just trying to be goofy here. WOCKA WOCKA. Bella and Edward leave in short order, calling Emmett and Jasper and dispatching them to come investigate further.

The rest of the Cullens and Bella hold an impromptu strategy meeting at Chez Cullen; when they arrive everyone is standing “still as statues in various poses of stress.” So like, a Ralph Lauren ad or something. Alice and Edward have an argument over the fact that Alice failed to see whatever happened; she complains that he's got her watching too much at once as it is. (Notably, Bella doesn't like hearing Edward speak harshly to Alice but says nothing about his sister's retorts. That's because you love Alice, Bella! When are you going to see that? If Edward is going to insist on no longer being an angry, controlling asshole the Team Alice movement is going to be that much more difficult to maintain.)

Everyone wants to suspect the Volturi or Victoria or Voldemort or some other Villainous Vampire, but it doesn't make sense that Alice wouldn't have seen them. Jasper and Emmett return with a scrap of plant – Carlisle smells it and says it's no one he's ever met before. Dude can remember the scent of everyone he's ever met? That's some nose you got there, Carlisle. That's one of the powers vampires have that I would not like: a supercharged sense of smell. Seems like more trouble than it's worth, no?

There are a few interesting character notes in this scene – Rosalie sits tense in the back of the room for most of the conversation, which at first just seems like aloof and bitchy Rosalie being aloof and bitchy. But she sighs with relief a moment before Emmett and Jasper come back in – she was just worried about her man! That's sweet, even if she fell in love with him because he looked like a giant man version of the baby she never got to have. Later, Esme proposes that maybe this vampire meant no harm, picked up the Cullen scent around Bella's house and went to investigate. Emmett asks why he or she wouldn't have just come to Chez Cullen directly. Esme has a very motherly moment.

“You would,” Esme said with a fond, sudden smile. The rest of us aren't always so direct."

But for the most part this chapter is just pages and pages of various Cullens speculating. Carlisle and Esme are cautiously optimistic; Edward and Alice are not. Ashley Greene, Peter Facinelli, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Elizabeth Reaser and Jackson Rathbone all read this chapter with crossed fingers: maybe I will actually have some lines in this movie!

Bella is overwhelmed by how many vampires there are in the world. Why? There's like, fifteen so far. How hard is that to believe?

How many times did the average human cross paths with them, completely unaware? How many deaths, obliviously reported as crimes and accidents, were really due to their thirst?

Um, it's still a crime if a vampire kills someone, Bella. Does she know that? It seems like she should know that. As they head back to Bella's house, Edward reassures her that everything will be fine, and she will never be alone – one of the Cullens will be watching her at all times. That's kind of weird, isn't it? It turns Bella on; when Edward leaves for a while she's comforted looking out into the rain and knowing that one of them (she names Alice specifically, Alice is outside getting wet, you are welcome) is out there watching (“If I'm going to be out here in the rain you should at least take your top off.”-Alice Cullen).

Next morning Charlie goes fishing (with “Deputy Mark” who I'm sure is an important character who will be mentioned again, just kidding) and Bella tells Edward she wants to let Jacob off the hook. (But not Quil right?) Edward takes the news with “an easy smile.” WHATTA GUY!

She calls the Blacks and Jacob picks up and apologizes profusely. He wants to get together – Bella is noncommittal, thinking about this new vamp and all.

He's not thrilled with me, is he?” Jacob's voice was ashamed, rather than bitter, for once.

Good for him, learning a little contrition. She puts him on the phone with Edward (do Edward's mind reading powers work over the phone?) and the two of them talk, not sounding entirely hostile for once. Bella (and the rest of us) only get half of the conversation so it reads like an unfunny Bob Hope sketch for a while. The long & short of it is, Jacob and Edward, acting as werewolf and vampire diplomats, are going to redraw the treaty-borders so the wolves can help keep up watch at Bella's house. Jacob's chances of seeing Bella naked just increased five-fold. And Jacob is coming over now, to get the scent of the vampire intruder (Scent of The Vampire Intruder is my new band name). Everyone is getting along, united by a common foe. THAT SURE WAS UNEXPECTED.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

BLOGGING ECLIPSE, pt. 12: No, Non Je Regrette Rien

Last time, Jacob told Bella that Quil Ateara had imprinted with a two year old girl. So, he's fallen madly, obsessively in love with a baby. Somehow Bella resisted the urge to bash her head on a rock and get out of this nightmare forever. Where's the kick? Where's the kick? Previous entries can be found in the directory.

Chapter 8 (cont'd): Temper

“You are fucking kidding me, motherfucker,” I hissed, picking up a sharp object and heading toward Quil's house. “That asshole is DEAD, Jacob. DEAD. I am going to fucking END him.”

Okay, well, that is how Bella should have reacted. Instead she's shocked into silence.

“Claire is two,” Jacob told me.
Rain started to fall. I blinked furiously as the drops pelted my face.

Jacob points out that Quil is not actually aging, so he just has to wait a few decades and this girl will draw parallel to him. Bella is “horrified,” talk about an understatement. Jacob tries to placate all of us. It doesn't work.

“There's nothing romantic about it at all, not for Quil, not now.”

He likens the feeling of imprinting to a shift in gravity. “When you see her, suddenly it's not the earth holding you here anymore. She does.”

I'm sorry Jacob, but I was taught that shifts in gravity were supposed to lead to awesome fight scenes, not calls to Child Protective Services.

Joe Gordon Levitt is about to imprint on your FACE, Mr. Projection

And it gets worse. It just keeps getting worse.

“Quil will be the best, kindest big brother any kid ever had...And then, when she's older and needs a friend, he'll be more understanding, trustworthy, and reliable than anyone else she knows. And then, when she's grown up, they'll be as happy as Emily and Sam.”

Awesome. He will be the best big brother ever, until she grows up and he fucks her. Just like all great big brothers! And precisely when will these role-shifts occur? When will Claire be old enough to be Quil's wife? Thirteen? Fourteen? Never? Never would be the appropriate age, I think. Also left unsaid: whether or not Claire will have a face still.

“Doesn't Claire get a choice here?” Bella says. Oh, good point Bella! “Nope,” Jacob says. In so many words:

“Of course. But why wouldn't she choose him, in the end? He'll be her perfect match. Like he was designed for her alone.”

That is so how it works, Jacob. Girls always fall in love with their obsessive childhood babysitters! You can totally make any girl of any age fall in love with you out of sheer force of will. (How did S. Meyer meet her husband, by the way?) If the love doesn't take right away maybe Quil can keep Claire locked in a basement or something UNTIL SHE LEARNS TO APPRECIATE HIS SMOTHERING AFFECTION. I don't know, I'm just spitballing some ideas here! Anyway, Bella is fighting to keep the vomit out of her mouth, so naturally Jacob uses this opportunity to segue into another romantic overture. Nice work, Jacob. “I'll never see anyone else, Bella. I'll only see you. Even when I close my eyes and try to see something else.”

And he's not done yet, gang. Bella somewhat alarmingly pushes past the whole thing about she should probably call the police on Quil and goes out on her motorcycle with Jacob instead. Later they go to Jacob's shed to hang out; they drink soda and make stupid jokes about the shed being “Washington's little Taj Mahal.” Ha ha ha HEY WHAT IS THE AGE OF CONSENT IN INDIA? STILL NOT TWO, RIGHT? WHERE IS QUIL RIGHT NOW? IS SOMEONE KEEPING AN EYE ON HIM, OR BETTER A GUN ON HIM? Everything is normal between Jacob and Bella for all of thirty seconds. But Jacob brings up the treaty and Bella's plans for immortality. In flux though said plans may be, she lets slip that it might only be a few weeks away. Jacob loses his shit, but more than normal. What happens is Bella points out that Edward isn't aging past seventeen and says, “what else can I do?”

His words cracked like snaps of a whip. “Anything. Anything else. You'd be better off dead. I'd rather you were.”

OH NO YOU DIDN'T. “Fuck you!” Bella shouts (well, she should) and climbs onto her motorcycle and zooms off. Good. And that is the last we see of Jacob Black. Right? Guys? Please?

Bella gets soaked in the rain on her way back to Chez Cullen, where Alice is waiting in the garage. She's sitting on the hood of her Porche, apparently saying goodbye to it.

“Jasper and I didn't even get to fuck in the backseat,” she sighed.

She notes that Bella looks like she could use a hot shower – lesbian slashfic authors, start your engines – and asks if she wants to talk about what happened. “You wouldn't even fucking believe me if I told you,” Bella says. I still think Bella needs to make a few phone calls to some state agencies. Instead she goes to sleep.

She wakes up in the middle of the night, realizing she's been transported from Edward's couch to his ridiculous bed. He's there and, she finds his lips in the dark in a paragraph that I will concede is sort of sweet. She can't bring herself to be angry with him, and he apparently isn't angry with her. What is going on? How did these two change back from the self-absorbed nightmares they became in New Moon? They make out instead of fighting, and Edward even cops a feel:

His hand curved around my elbow, moving slowly down my arm, across my ribs and over my waist, tracing along my hip and down my leg, around my knee.

You skipped all of the good parts, Edward! But then he pulls Bella's leg up around his own hip. See how S. Meyer just cleverly avoided saying Bella is now straddling Edward? I see what you are doing there. “I felt suddenly warm,” Bella says. I'm not even going to go there, you already did it anyway. As it turns out, Edward has a nickname for his dick: The Ire.

“Not to bring on the ire prematurely,” he whispered, “but do you mind telling me what it is about this bed that you object to?”

The gold blankets? The butterfly decals? There is a lot to object to, but maybe we should start with the rest of the room. Bella is almost too horny to answer, though. “It's unnecessary” she manages to choke out as he climbs on top of her.

“That's debatable,” he disagreed. “This would be difficult on a couch.”

Whoa, what is going on? What is “this”? Bella is just as confused as we are. “Did you change your mind?” she asks. Translation: “Are we finally going to fuck?” Bringing it up is enough to shut Edward down. “I was just trying to illustrate the benefits of the bed you don't seem to like. Don't get carried away.” (If Edward thinks you can't do that on a couch he just hasn't tried hard enough.) Bella doesn't like having a taste of her own cock-teasing medicine.

“If we're not going to get carried away, what's the point?” Bella says. That's basically the thesis statement of this entire blog so far, nearly 200 posts later. Edward maintains that sex is too dangerous. Mind you, we're still not saying the word “sex,” here. If we can forgive those heavy layers of euphemism, we get some appealingly frank (for Twilight) moments. Bella says she is going to literally die if she doesn't have an orgasm soon (again, in so many words).

“I'll tell you what's dangerous,” I said quickly... “I'm going to spontaneously combust one of these days – and you'll have no one but yourself to blame.”

Somewhere in the house, Alice says “AHEM,” as loudly as possible. Edward apologizes for giving Bella the wrong impression. I think his penis has an even newer nickname: “I don't mind if you want to give me the wrong impression again,” Bella says. But Edward keeps apologizing instead, saying it was silly to have made Alice hold Bella hostage (“Silly and hot!”-Joey Tribbiani).

Bella asks if he's angry she went to La Push. Edward says no, and seems shocked at Bella's suggestion that he would take Alice's Porsche away. “Of course not. It was a gift,” he says. She asks if he wants to know what she did (as in ditching school and hanging out with Jacob), and Edward says she doesn't have to tell him unless she wants to. Whoa. Why is Edward a likeable guy all of a sudden? Compared to Jacob and Quil he already would have seemed like a saint, but now he's like the saint who also killed Hitler. Who is the patron saint of suicide? Any Catholic readers less lapsed than I am?

“I decided that you were right. My problem before was more about my... prejudice against werewolves than anything else. I'm going to try to be more reasonable and trust your judgment.”

“Wow,” Bella says. “Holy shit. This is fucking nuts,” she continues (more or less). We're all very surprised. Edward asks if she's going back to the Rez any time soon, and she says no. She tells him about Jacob wishing she was dead, and he hugs her and says, “I could quite literally kill him for saying that to you.” Tell him about Quil, Bella! But she's far too preoccupied something that came up a few chapter back: the part of Rosalie's story about all the vampire pussy in Denali. At first he doesn't want to answer, and Bella threatens to ask Alice. This happens:

“It's late,” he said. His voice had a little edge to it that was something new. Sort of nervous, maybe a little embarrassed. “Besides, I think Alice stepped out...”

He doesn't want to tell Bella that Alice and Jasper are christening the Porsche after all! I swear that is literally what it is for once. I see what you are doing there, S. Meyer, and I like it! Bella assumes the worst about the sluts in Denali, that some kind of super-ultra sexy Rosalie times 1000 was grinding on Edward all the time. It sounds like she's right: a girl named Tanya made a pass at Edward and got rejected. He reassures Bella: “I prefer brunettes.” So were there any brunettes in Denali? He kisses her until she gets too distracted to ask that question. “You're quite adorable when you're jealous,” he says. Of course he's the kind of dude who gets off on that.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

BLOGGING ECLIPSE, pt. 11: You're Kidding Me, Quil

Oh boy. This book has finally gone off the deep end. And I mean wayyyyyy off. We're jumping from a wading pool to the middle of the fucking Pacific Ocean. We're going way the fuck 'round the bend. We're going so the fuck far 'round the bend, we won't even be able to see the bend anymore. The bend will be a dot to us. Little did I realize that Rosalie remembering fondly the sexual glares she got from men at age twelve and her later admission that she was attracted to Emmett because she reminded him of a giant baby were just appetizers, fucking mozzarella sticks before S. Meyer dropped a fucking T-bone steak on our heads. We were building toward the crescendo of motherfucking Chapter Eight, we just didn't know it at the time. Buckle the fuck up.

Previous entries can be found in the directory.

Chapter 7 (cont'd): Unhappy Ending

Rosalie again tries to impress upon Bella the consequences of becoming a vampire: it comes with a mandatory hysterectomy. “You have the choice that I didn't have, and you're choosing wrong!” she says. Somewhere, Alice snorts in disgust and goes back to having great unprotected sex with no threat of conception. Rosalie laments that she and Emmett can't grow old together, surrounded on a porch by grandchildren.

“SO THE FUCK WHAT?” -Alice Cullen, Bella Swan, Everyone Else

I refuse to believe that immortality, super-strength, and super-beauty are overrated. ADOPT! Rosalie's value system is even more fucked than Edward's. “You're too young to know what you'll want in ten years, fifteen years,” Rosalie says. But Bella will only get old enough to regret her decision if she gets older, Rosalie! I know that is a cheap, Pascal's Wager-like way out of the argument, but it also happens to be true. (Unlike Pascal's Wager, that's right I said it, want to fight about it, theologians?)

On the way to school the next day, Alice promises they'll do something fun that night. She worries that if Bella is miserable all weekend Edward will take her Porsche away. Atta girl, Alice. Look out for number one. The rest of these people are beyond saving. Between classes, Mike Newton takes Edward's absence as an opportunity to ask Bella out again. Atta boy, Mike keep fucking that chicken. It's almost like the supporting characters know they are being more marginalized than ever in this book, and in response they are getting desperate. Speaking of weird, Pirandello-lite moments, Bella doesn't get a chance to verbally castrate Mike because suddenly Jacob zooms in out of nowhere on his motorcycle.

Atta girl, S. Meyer! This development is predictable but still somehow unexpected; it reads like Jacob is literally invading the text, tacked on to a totally unrelated chapter like this. He shouts to Bella to get on his (wait for it) bike, and she runs to him, leaving school and Mike in her dust. As they speed off, she sees Alice too far away, shouting “Fuck you, cunt!” (probably).

Chapter 8: Temper

On the Rez, Jacob praises his own ingenuity, which amounted to hearing from Bella that Alice couldn't “see” his decisions and taking advantage of that fact. Still, for Jacob putting 2 and 2 together like that is a giant leap forward. I'm not saying Jacob Black is stupid, but one time he got locked in a mattress store overnight and he slept on the floor. They walk along the beach, and Bella asks jokingly what the latest “pack scandal” is. Jacob stops walking. She realizes something scandalous really must have happened, and Jacob tells her that Quil imprinted.

“That's three now. The rest of us are starting to get worried. Maybe it's more common than the stories say...”

He turns and stares at Bella, apparently attempting to force himself to imprint on her. Gross, I think! It doesn't take, obviously, but he grabs her hand and keeps walking. Bella takes a second to think about how it is probably a bad idea to hold Jacob's hand, but does it anyway because of course she does. If there is some kind of other version of imprinting, where you are irrationally compelled to cock-tease someone with unceasing effort forever, Bella must have imprinted that way on Jacob.

Bella wants to know why it is a big deal that Quil imprinted. Soon she'll be wishing she never asked. Jacob says Quil has been hanging out at Emily's place a lot, and Bella jumps to the conclusion that Quil imprinted on Emily. “No,” Jacob says. It's much worse. Emily's cousins came down for a visit recently, and Bella jumps to the conclusion that Quil imprinted on a cousin and Emily doesn't want one of her family members to get her face ripped off too. That would be understandable, but Jacob says that isn't it either.

But clearly we're building toward something. Did Quil imprint on a guy? Wouldn't that be refreshing? Of course that is not what is about to happen.

Jacob appraised me with narrowed eyes. “Try not to be judgmental, okay?”

I'm bracing myself. Are you bracing yourself? It doesn't matter.

“Claire is two,” Jacob told me.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

BLOGGING ECLIPSE, pt. 10: The Blood-Splattered Bride

Last time, Edward bought a bed at the Ed Hardy store. Previous entries can be found in the directory.

Chapter 7: Unhappy Ending

That night, someone knocks on the door to Edward's room while Bella mopes on the couch, refusing to sleep on the nightmare bed. Hard to blame her. She assumes Alice is coming in (wishful thinking?) but matter of fact, it's Rosalie. If we were ranking ill-defined characters, I suppose Rosalie Hale would be behind Emmett, who in my mind's eye is a muscular blur, and Esme, who in my mind's eye is a maternal blur, but she is definitely in the top five ill-defined characters of this series. Therefore my reaction to this development isn't a positive or a negative one; I feel nothing about Rosalie. The door might as well have been opened by a gust of wind. There are literally more well-defined weather patterns in this book. But all of that changes now. Sort of.

I've mentioned before the way S. Meyer makes tentative stabs at writing the Cullens' dialogue as though they were from another era. Despite Bella's protestations to the contrary Edward rarely if ever speaks in “the gentle cadences of an earlier century,” but Alice occasionally employs expressions and syntax that at least have a 1920s flair about them. Rosalie's dialogue early on in this chapter is the closest to “gentle cadences” we've ever come; she's very turn-of-the-century snob. “He so rarely leaves you alone” Rosalie says of Edward, “please don't think I'm horribly interfering.” One could argue that the Cullens have claimed in the past to be exceptionally good at adapting to new eras, so writing this way doesn't make any sense – Rosalie should be saying “For shiz, homeboy never let you outta his sight, yo” - but one could also argue that the Cullens let their guard down around Bella. One could also argue that no one cares; S. Meyer has bigger problems than her ability to convincingly write deliberately anachronistic dialogue. Are you ready for the most irritating origin story ever written, by the way?

Rosalie wants to tell Bella why she thinks she should stay human. “Did Edward ever tell you what led to this?” Rosalie says, gesturing at her super-sexy vampiric body.

“He told me it was close to what happened to me in Port Angeles, only there was no one there to save you,” I shuddered at the memory.

Interestingly, this is not actually something we've heard before (even though Bella apparently has), that Rosalie was essentially gang-raped to death. Of course we can't actually say “gang rape” - this is another chapter written to sail over the heads of younger audiences, which is fine. Younger audiences don't need to hear about gang rape. Not that S. Meyer is doing them any favors elsewhere. (Insert long rant about the bizarre values imparted by this series, obsession being equated with love, domestic abuse leading to stronger relationships and so on.)

Rosalie proceeds to tell the (supposedly) sad tale of her lost potential – from the start it's clear that she's coming at this from a pretty weird mental space. She says her story doesn't have a happy ending, but none of their stories do. “If we had happy endings, we'd all be under gravestones by now.” Uh, okay Rose. I think Alice (dead in a mental hospital?) and Edward (dead of the flu?) and Esme (dead of suicide?) and Emmett (dead of bear attack?) and Carlisle (dead of vampire attack?) would beg to differ!

So Rosalie was the child of a well-off family with aspirations to be more well-off still in the midst of the Great Depression. So assholes, basically. They saw Rosalie as their ticket into higher social circles; if her parents were alive today they'd be trying to get her a reality show. Rosalie, however, was happy with her status.

“I was thrilled to be me, to be Rosalie Hale. Pleased that men's eyes watched me everywhere I went, from the year I turned twelve.”

WHOA NOW, S. Meyer. Back up. Twelve? Are we sure you want to keep this sentence in your book? The one that millions of people (and plenty of twelve-year-olds) will read? Okay. Rosalie paints a picture of herself as the most self-absorbed horror show on the face of the earth, and she is simultaneously apologetic and nostalgic about it: “I was silly and shallow, but I was content.” Uh-huh. The longer the story goes on, the more ideologically incoherent Rosalie gets. Not unlike this series as a whole.

“I also wanted the material things in life. I wanted a big house with elegant furnishings that someone else would clean and a modern kitchen that someone else would cook in...And I didn't see any reason why I shouldn't get these things.”

Okay, that's all well and good, and Rosalie seems to express remorse for these attitudes. But the ultimate moral of Rosalie's story is still that she is sad that she never ended up getting those things – she was raped by her husband-to-be and his drunk friends and left to die. She wanted to live a life of rich bliss in a Sam Mendes-like domestic hellscape and was denied the opportunity to be the center of that hellscape. Instead she was granted immortality and (one would think) the ability to see the error of her ways, but she neither asked for nor apparently wants either. She still wants the hellscape, even though she knows it is a hellscape! She wants to go back and be a rich asshole and pop out babies and complain about having to fight WWII for the damn Jews! And ultimately, she wishes she was dead (Hey Rose, I don't want to be an asshole, but... There's The Volturi).

Rosalie doesn't understand the irony inherent in a phrase like “ignorance is bliss.” And that would be fine if it seemed like S. Meyer did, but the central problem of this story – I learned something, but actually I learned nothing – isn't really acknowledged. Unless you count all of the “what?” and “huh?” I wrote into the margins.

Rosalie was also super jealous of a poor friend of hers who had a baby. She tells Bella that despite her young age she was ready for motherhood, but she doesn't exactly convince me of her maturity here. Her reasons essentially amount to “my friend's baby had really cute dimples.” Babies were her next “must have” accessory. Babies were so in that fall. So the message she seems to be sending Bella is “get out while you still have fully-functioning lady-parts.” That Rosalie's threat (you won't be able to make babies!) isn't greeted by immediate, derisive laughter from Bella is gallingly sexist, but what did you expect, exactly? All along we've been wondering what exactly the drawbacks are to being a vampire, and here they finally are. You can't start a family the way god intended. This scene needs Alice as a counter-balance.

“Um, hello, babies are disgusting and I've never had to use a condom in my life.”-Alice Cullen

But she is too busy getting laid or high or both to trifle with these bitches. Rosalie keeps talking. I'll sum it up for you. There was this guy, see, and his name was Royce, see, and he was a real mover-and -shaker at the bank. When Royce saw Rosalie, well, she was suddenly sitting pretty, a life of wealth and splendor rolling out before her. Wedding bells started a-ringing soon after Royce started a-courting. But you see Royce, he liked the sauce. And see here: one night Rose was walking home too late at night and she ran into Royce and a couple of his boys and they were all three-sheets and then some. One thing led to another and our Rose found herself lying in the street bloodied up and dying. That's when this cat Carlisle came along, sensing something amiss. Carlisle was the local MD, see, but he and his family didn't mingle much with society. So Rosalie was surprised to find the guy was no ordinary doctor at all, no ma'am, no ordinary doctor at all.

I could point out that Rosalie's story slowly degrades into S. Meyer telling the story herself with an extra layer of quotation marks -

“'Here's my Rose! Rose!' Royce shouted, laughing with them.”

- who tells a story like that? But whatever. When you get past all of the ideological incoherence, the end of Rose's story is pretty cool. She becomes a vampire at the Cullen house, aware enough of her surroundings to hear Edward complaining about Carlisle's decision to save her. Carlisle defends the choice, saying it was “too much waste” to let Rosalie die. “I mean, she's so hot,” he says. Okay, well, that's what he was thinking. It is moderately interesting to learn that at the time, Edward pretended to be Esme's brother. I'm never terribly impressed by S. Meyer's explanations as to how the Cullen's stay inconspicuous. I feel like she should have watched The Wire before she wrote this thing. Or maybe I just shouldn't have watched The Wire. I'm probably the only person wondering about the Cullen family's cell phone policy. Do they their toss burners every two weeks? (“I do, but only because my dealer makes me.”-Alice Cullen) It seems strange to me that Rosalie would still have her original last name – Jasper seems to have adopted it also – especially since apparently it was known in plenty of social circles a few decades ago. Plenty of those people would still be alive. Not in Forks, I guess, but still. It seems reckless. Avon Barksdale would not approve.

"The game is out there, and it's either play or get played, Carlisle."

Anyway, Rosalie mentions that she has a better record than most of the rest of her family – she has never tasted human blood. She says her record is a thousand times better than Edward, bringing back that bad taste in all of our mouths that comes from imagining Edward as a vigilante with a code. It's not the vigilante part that bothers me, it's the idea of what Edward's code would be.

“You are a murderer/child molester, so you have to die.”-Dexter Morgan
“You had sex out of wedlock, so you have to die.”-Edward Cullen

No mention of Alice or Jasper's record. I bet before they found the Cullens they were in the Manson Family or something. But Rosalie has only killed five people: the five men who raped her. Our Rosalie went on a roiling rampage of revenge, see? She hunted down the dastardly doers of the deed, leaving Royce for last and least. She found him well fortified, driven nearly mad with panic as he learned of the mysterious deaths of his brothers-in-arms. She made short work of a couple of his guards -

“Oops – seven murders,” she corrected herself. “I forgot about the guards. They only took a second.”

Ah Rosalie, always having a condescending attitude toward servants, even in your one shining moment. Oh well. Still this whole scene is pretty badass – Rosalie stole a wedding dress to wear when she killed Royce; that is pretty awesome. We have to cling to these details because Rosalie gets ridiculous again pretty quickly, confessing that she didn't like Bella at first because Edward found her attractive, whereas he'd never felt that way toward Rosalie herself. That's a nice wife you got there, Emmett.

Edward was also never tempted by the clan of vampires up in Denali, where Rosalie suggests that there were plenty of females for the taking. “He was balls deep in a vampire pussy,” she says. Bella's mouth tightens into a “hard line.” It's weird that she's troubled by the idea that Edward could have gotten laid a few decades ago and isn't troubled by the fact that he was a confirmed bachelor for literally a century. But whatever. Bella reminds Rosalie that she has Emmett – and Rosalie admits that what attracted her to him in the first place is that he looked like a giant version of her friend's baby. Perfect.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

BLOGGING ECLIPSE, pt. 9: Lay Lady Lay

Previous entries can be found in the directory.

Chapter 6: Switzerland

Bella drives back from the Rez feeling overwhelmed by the weight of all the exposition Jacob threw at us in the last chapter, but still happy for having visited her friend. BUT THEN.

It came out of nowhere. One minute there was nothing but bright highway in my rearview mirror. The next minute, the sun was glinting off a silver Volvo right on my tail.

Cue Jaws music. Here's Edward at his most romantic; he's stalking his love on the highway, presumably after racing back across the state at top speed in a rage. You know, because of love. She's too afraid to look at his face. Just like Romeo & Juliet, huh? It's basically a direct homage to that scene when Romeo got exiled and Juliet visited Tybalt and then Romeo came rushing back like a mad man in his Volvo.

Bella mocks herself for being a total pussy as she keeps driving and avoiding his gaze, but I don't think it's the worst thing in the world to hide from your jealous, violent, unstable boyfriend when he's in one of his moods, you know? She drives straight to Angela's house, and when she stops Edward keeps driving. Obviously he doesn't want any witnesses.

At the door, Bella runs into Ben, who is Angela's boyfriend or whoever - he's leaving to meet up with Austin, who is also apparently a character in this book. A long time ago I mentally dismissed most of the Forks High Gang as not worth the mental Rolodexing, and for the most part I was right. What do we know about Angela? She is quiet and she has a lot of graduation envelopes to mail. That's it.

And that second part isn't even true for long, as she and Bella sit down and get to work. (But not before Bella condescendingly surveys Angela's house and feels reassured by her “easy human dramas.” Nice, Bella.) After a while Angela asks if there is something wrong; presumably Bella's all nervy and jumpy as she silently dwells on the beating she's about to get from Edward. Our narrator experiences a sudden urge to talk to “a normal human girlfriend,” to “moan a little bit, like any other teenage girl.” Knowing as we do how all teenage girls get trapped in bizarre love triangles involving supernatural douche bags with anger problems. Bella paints Angela a humanized portrait of her troubles, and it's still enough for Angela to see that Edward is totally Lime Green Jell-O of Jacob. Bella protests and says Edward thinks he's dangerous, but Angela shakes her head knowingly. Someone in this book is knowing?

“Bella, I've seen how Jacob Black looks at you. I'd bet the real problem is jealousy.”
“It's not like that with Jacob.”
“For you, maybe. But for Jacob...”

Who is this girl? She caught up awful fast! Is she Bella's guardian angel, suddenly coming in to knock some sense into her? Not that Bella listens - if she was George Bailey she'd have jumped off a bridge by now. Angela gives up and moves on to talking about college – Bella realizes that Angela and Ben (who she apparently also gives a shit about?) will be in Seattle soon, where the baby vampire is still a-killing. And she'll be a baby vampire too.

I can't wait for Bella to start killing some fucking innocents. Any moral ground this book once could have stood on has long since eroded. The lack of sex is now more of a perverse game than a religious necessity, right? I'm pretty sure S. Meyer's Mormonism stopped at the water's edge while the rest of her bruised psyche forded through. So let's get on with it.

They finish with the envelopes and Bella drives home, nervous that Edward is going to pop out like Michael Myers or something. Charlie's sitting in front of the TV, but he shows so much interest in Bella's day that she realizes he already knows she spent time with Jacob. Charlie is pulling for Jacob so hard it's kind of weird. Like maybe he calls him at night and gives him tips as to how to get in Bella's pants. Bella tries to find something to do in the kitchen, fearing that Edward is waiting in her bedroom; when she finally gives up and climbs the stairs, he's standing in the corner of her room, “hard” (his face!) and “tense.” He doesn't talk for a long while.

“Hi,” I finally said.
His face could have been carved from stone.

Tell us something we don't know, Bella! S. Meyer tries to get way too much fucking mileage about of the statue metaphors. I've had it. Edward's face can't be like a statue under ordinary circumstances if you are going to employ essentially the same phrase to indicate anger. He finally graces us with his voice, telling Bella he almost broke the treaty today rushing over the borderline to find her. That would have been pretty stupid. I mean, the idea of a vampire/werewolf borderline is fundamentally stupid, especially since we've seen that Jacob can apparently cross over to Forks High without any trouble, but to chase Bella into wolf territory with no suspicion of anything in particular is especially stupid. After all – Edward's fear is that Jacob might turn into a wolf too close to Bella, correct? Trespassing would be a pretty easy way to make that happen. no? I don't want to tell Edward how to do his job, but seriously, what a fuckwad.

Bella tries to make up fast, and weirdly succeeds without taking her clothes off. I have to say, I wasn't expecting Edward to be at all gracious about any of this. He's still not exactly enlightened, but he diffuses fast enough and hugs Bella and sighs. And to Bella's credit, she doesn't back down when he tells her she won't be seeing Jacob again. Bella has a backbone? What is going on here? They end up at kind of a friendly stalemate, neither one of them seeming like as much of an asshole as they seemed before. How did that happen? Bella declares her own body to be neutral territory.

“I refuse to be affected by territorial disputes between mythological creatures.”

Her vagina is Switzerland, basically.

“You are... well, not exactly the love of my life, because I expect to love you for much longer than that. The love of my existence. I don't care who's a werewolf and who's a vampire. If Angela turns out to be a witch, she can join the party, too.”

Sounds hot. Edward makes plans to go hunting the following weekend, Bella makes plans on the DL with Jacob. “It wasn't sneaking around,” she tries to convince herself. But when she gets off work on Thursday and walks out to the waiting Volvo, it's not Edward inside. It's ALICE. YES.

Alice is sitting in the car blaring music Bella doesn't recognize (so, not Linkin Park or Nickelback, ZING) and she's too busy singing along to pay any attention to Bella for a while. Can vampires get high or what? Because how do you explain Alice's behavior throughout this book so far?

“Bella!” Alice said suddenly. “What if like, the color that I know as blue is like, what you think of as green? And so our whole lives I've been seeing your green as blue, but we just have different names for the same color? Isn't that fucking heavy?”

Bella has to shout over the “wailing” music so I'm just going to pretend Alice is listening to Bitte Orca for my own edification. Eventually she turns down the volume and tells Bella that Edward left on his hunting trip early.

“All the boys went, and we're having a slumber party!” she announced in a trilling, singsong voice.

Alice's enthusiasm is perhaps too tinged with menace for Bella to see it as innocent. “You're kidnapping me, aren't you?” she asks. Alice rather unapologetically confesses as much – Edward bribed her by buying her a Porsche like she stole in Italy. Here's your S. Meyer vocab word of the day, by the way:

“Sorry,” Alice said, not sounding the least bit penitent.

In the Cullen garage, Alice shows off her car and “stroke[s] her hand down the length” of it (you're welcome). Bella contemplates the enormity of the bribe and realizes Edward intends this to be the first of many slumber parties whenever he is away. Bella sort of rightly points out that this is insane but Alice doesn't give a fuck. I can't begrudge Alice for betraying the sisterhood here; she's had it with both of these assholes and is just taking what she can get from them. It's what I would do, too.

That night, Alice puts on Bella's favorite movies and insists on giving her a pedicure. “I wondered if she was working from a list – maybe something she'd compiled from watching bad sitcoms.” Let's hope it's a list she compiled from watching bad porn instead (Alice pouts when Bella announces she wants to go to bed, so you never know what might have been next on the agenda. "Pillow Fight!?-Joey Tribbiani).

Alice tells Bella she's sleeping in Edward's room, and we get to once again laugh at Edward's interior design skills. Bella thinks about sleeping on his “black leather sofa” and also realizes that his gold carpet is thick enough that she could sleep there. Home & Design magazine is basically beating down the Cullens' door to photograph this place. I'm sorry, did I say Home & Design? I meant Tacky Fuckwad Feng Shui Quarterly. And it gets worse.

First though, Bella calls Jacob to cancel. He gripes and says "bloodsucker" and blah blah blah. I don't understand why Bella's entire night with Alice and other female Cullens is reduced to a paragraph and her tenth conversation with Jacob about the tension between wolves and vampires unfolds over three pages. Mortal enemies, sticky love triangle - we fucking get it.

Then Bella uses Alice's cell phone to call and (sort of) comically threaten Edward. She goes up stairs to his room feeling righteous, but Alice follows her. Don't get excited. Alice is just coming to watch Bella react when she sees that Edward has filled most of his bedroom with an enormous iron bed. This guy.

The coverlet was a dull gold, just lighter than the walls; the frame was black, made of intricately patterned wrought iron. Sculpted metal roses wound in vines up the tall posts and formed a bowery lattice overhead.

Edward decorates like a rapper in the late nineties. Edward makes Kanye West's design sensibilities look like Siddhartha Gautama's. The liquid connecting Edward's synapses is Miller High Life.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

THE BITERION COLLECTION: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

On paper, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is the ideal film for a guy like me. I like music, I like poking gentle fun at hipsters, I like pop-culture references, I like Edgar Wright, I even like Michael Cera, I think Mary Elizabeth Winstead is pretty, and my frame-of-reference for videogames stops around 1996. The trailer for this movie looked fantastic, and I fully expected to love it. And yet, I guess didn't or whatever.

I blame part of that on the films already released this year. The action in Scott Pilgrim is great, but it's basically on par with Kick-Ass in terms of both visual coherence (which is really important in these Michael Bay days) and creativity. Scott Pilgrim has plenty of visual jokes and witty lines, but Toy Story 3 made me laugh more. Scott Pilgrim is visually inventive and arresting, but not nearly so inventive and arresting as Inception.

But it isn't just weak by comparison. Every individual element of this film is appealing: the video-game logic and imagery, the kinetic, maybe even muscular editing, the cast (with Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Alison Pill and Aubrey Plaza holding it down in particular), and the wide-range of 90s-centric, 20-something cultural anchor points. But it doesn't add up. The whole is somehow not as great as the parts.

For one thing, despite the fact that this movie ought to be for a guy like me, it (oddly) skews younger. It's especially weird because when you consider the references (late-80s video games, The Smashing Pumpkins), I should really be on the young end of the target age bracket. So why does this movie go to such great lengths to avoid any swearing? Why does it tip-toe carefully around issues of sex? Why is it rated PG-13? I don't have any problem with PG-13 movies (like, uh, Inception), but Scott Pilgrim calls attention to it's own censorship in a way that doesn't feel nearly as intuitive as the rest of the surreal elements of the film. [Kind of spoiler-y and nitpick-y for the rest of this paragraph.] Scott and other characters can wield weapons and fight with super-human strength, and this is never addressed as unusual. It's just the way this world works. Yet in another scene, Aubrey Plaza's character repeatedly swears at Scott and a black box appears in front of her face as each swear word is bleeped out. "How are you doing that with your mouth?" Scott asks her. For some reason, this one unusual part about this wholly unusual world is called attention to. And other swears in other scenes are also obscured by sound effects (like a popping noise from a cord connecting to a guitar) rather than the self-conscious black box. It's inconsistent and awkward. This movie is already gunning for a niche-market (it was only playing four times today at the gigantic AMC on Boston Common) and one would think most of that niche is over 17 by now.

Anna Kendrick, the justification for including this review on this blog, is Anna Kendrick-y as always. Her comedic chops have been well-established. She doesn't get to do much (she's in this about as much as she is in Twilight), but she is very good at making the most of short lengths of screen-time. Her interactions with Kieran Culkin are particularly funny - the movie could have used more of both of them. One of the more clever things this movie does is incorporate several of the bland anecdotes we all found compelling in high school as earnest dialogue; at one point one character informs the others that we only use about 10% of our brain's potential. Directors use Anna Kendrick the same way.

I don't mean to sound like I didn't enjoy this movie - I did. And a few hours later, retrospectively, it almost seems better than it did at the time. Leaving the theater the whole thing felt slight and airless, which is probably due to a dragged out and self-undermining denouement. But that's something to discuss when more people have a chance to see the movie. If you waited for the DVD I wouldn't blame you. This is the best Michael Cera film I've seen, and Edgar Wright's most creative. The music is pretty good, and pretty loud. I'm getting my bass guitar out of the basement. And I just might dye my hair pink like Ramona.

Were it not for the giddy and morbid Kick-Ass or the assured and mind-blowing Inception, it would probably be one of my favorite "big" movies this year, but I'd like to think those films illuminate the problems with this film rather than obscure its merits. And maybe it also means I'll never like anything again. Thanks, Christopher Nolan. At least when I watch Twilight movies I don't have that problem.

Previous entries can be found in the Biterion Collection directory.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

BLOGGING ECLIPSE, pt. 8: Arrested Development

Previous entries can be found in the directory.

Chapter 5: Imprint

Still on the Rez, Bella asks Jacob about what's new. It turns out our old friend Quil Ateara has finally joined in with the wolfpack, and he is pumped as all get out. Why not, right? He's got all of his friends back, he's privy all of the Quileute secrets, and he's a FUCKING WEREWOLF. Quil's enthusiasm makes more sense than Jacob's angst; just like the vampires, there are almost no drawbacks to being a member of the wolfpack. And we learn a few more details in this chapter that mostly sweeten the deal. Jacob is still bemused. “It's so Quil,” he says. Is that the Twilight equivalent of “That's so Raven”? It is now, anyway.

Bella gets a really personal history of Sam Uley's love life, courtesy of the hive-mind abilities of the wolfpack. Recall that they can all hear the others' thoughts; there are no secrets between werewolves. I know that doesn't sound like a good thing, total loss of privacy and all, but it's a totally equal exchange between all involved. So Jacob knows about Sam Uley's complex love life, but Sam Uley knows about every sexual scenario in which Jacob has imagined Bella. Having totally honest relationships is the ideal, isn't? But we almost involuntarily lock aspects of ourselves away. What if you couldn't? It would suck for a few days, and then you'd get over it.

Bella pushes Jacob into telling her why Sam Uley hates the Cullens so much. He says it's a long story, and she reminds him that she is in no rush to leave.

“Will he be mad at you?”
“Yes,” I admitted. “He really hates it when I do things he considers... risky.”

Switch “risky” out with “naughty” and you've got the start of an Edward/Bella BDSM Fan Fiction right there, just saying. Jacob very slowly explains that Sam Uley used to date Harry's daughter, Leah. It takes Bella aback a bit to know this.

It was just that I'd seen Sam with Emily, and I couldn't imagine him with someone else. The way he looked at her... well, it reminded me of a look I'd seen sometimes in Edward's eyes – when he was looking at me.

Good. I'm glad Edward's mannerisms are similar to that of a known domestic abuser and obsessive. Sam was dating Leah back when he first transformed into a wolf, an act that freaked him out so much he couldn't change back into a human for two weeks. He vanished from the Rez, a search party went out, and when he finally returned rumors flew everywhere. He couldn't tell Leah what he was and their relationship strained, but Jacob says they were making it work. How were they making it work?

“Sam, why do you keep disappearing for days on end and coming back without any clothing? Why are you constantly running a fever?” Leah demanded.
“I can't tell you,” Sam said slowly.
“Oh, okay.” Leah said.

But then one day Leah's cousin Emily came down to visit. Bella is rightly like, “AW NO HE DIDN'T.” Jacob is like "hold up."

“Don't judge him just yet. Did anyone ever tell you... Have you ever heard of imprinting?”

As if S. Meyer wasn't unconvincing enough at writing “true love,” now she's decided to undermine herself further with some Injun magic! Because sometimes, it turns out, werewolves just fall in love with someone just by laying eyes on her. It doesn't happen very often (as always, S. Meyer also finds a way to make one of her plot rules flexible enough to ignore it whenever it is convenient) but it happened to Sam Uley. And how did Emily fall in love with a guy who broke her cousin's heart?

“She was real angry, in the beginning. But it's hard to resist that level of commitment and adoration.”

Oh, he just WORE HER DOWN! Perfect! Jacob also says that “weirdly enough” the whole thing where Sam ripped off Emily's fucking face was what really brought them together. PERFECTER. “Weirdly enough,” indeed, Jacob. Weirdly enough, my heart is so warmed right now by this wonderful story that my blood is LITERALLY boiling and my skin is melting off!

See, Sam felt really bad, and soon Emily “was the one comforting him.” She felt bad about how bad he felt, and that made her love him. That's how it works! Magic spells and mutual anguish builds relationships that last a lifetime! These two continue to be a model couple, like Sid and Nancy, or Ashley Greene and Joe Jonas, or Phil Specter and that lady he shot. But don't worry guys, Sam Uley feels really bad about hurting Leah, and Jacob & the boys have to deal with his misery every day. Damn that Injun magic!

Bella asks the obvious question: has Jacob imprinted? He says no, and Bella internally breathes a sigh of relief. She's glad Jacob doesn't claim there is some “mystical, wolfy connection” between them; dude is rape-y enough as it is. This is the most sensible thought Bella has had in months.

Jacob's standard bitterness about the Cullens resurfaces a few times during the conversation, and at one point Bella tells him to grow up.

“I wish I could,” he murmured quietly.

That's right folks. Werewolves don't age! Ha! Does it say something about S. Meyer's level of maturity that she only seems capable of writing characters who are literally stuck, development-wise? Even her ostensibly mature characters find reasons to not be mature. Naturally Bella freaks the fuck out when she hears that Jacob has ceased getting older, crying “tears of rage” and subsequently getting the song “Tears of Rage” stuck in my head. Her pathetic tantrum is interrupted by two more facts from Jacob (always with the werewolf facts, this kid). First of all, he will continue to age again as soon as he gains enough self-control to stop transforming into a wolf for good. That explains Sam Uley's eerily serene personality, but apparently even he hasn't gotten a grip on it yet. Secondly, Jacob says he has physically matured past his actual age anyway. He places himself physically at 25. Hear that, ladies? Bella reminds us how she used to talk about how big and veiny Jacob had grown (you're welcome, I'm so Quil) in New Moon in case we don't buy it yet.

For a minute, at least, Bella and Jacob fall back into their old, fun selves. Or maybe they fall back into the old, fun selves they always claim to have once had; I don't actually remember a time when they were fun. But Jacob mentions that Bella must understand the whole wolf thought-reading thing because of Edward and she tells him (“a tiny big smug from old habit”) that Edward can't read her thoughts.

“Weird,” Jacob said.
“Yeah.” The smugness faded. “It probably means there's something wrong with my brain,” I admitted.
“I already knew there was something wrong with your brain,” Jacob muttered.

There's an artfully written (ha! But really, sort of) section in which the two of them sit silently and watch the sun come out from behind a cloud. But eventually Jacob starts dissing Edward again, calling him a “disgusting parasite.” The insults in this book are really lacking in color. Bella is frustrated with all of it. The posturing, not the lame insults. But that's the real crime.

“See,” I explained. “I don't care who's a vampire and who's a werewolf. That's irrelevant. You are Jacob, and he is Edward, and I am Bella. And nothing else matters.”
His eyes narrowed slightly. “But
I am a werewolf,” he said unwillingly. “And he is a vampire.”

God DAMN it, Jacob. I can see we're not getting anywhere with this today.

Monday, August 9, 2010

WRITING ECLIPSE: Alice Cullen Reads Jacob Black's Fortune

First of all, congratulations to Ashley Greene, who apparently won "best scene stealer" at the TCAs. And now for some fan fiction. Previous entries can be found in the directory.


“I can't believe I'm doing this,” Jacob said sarcastically.
“Can you?” Alice said quietly, shuffling the deck of tarot cards.
“What?” Jacob said sarcastically.
“You keep imbuing your words with this sarcastic tone, but for the life of me I have no idea what the intended meaning could be.” Alice set the cards down on the table and sighed. “If you say something sarcastically, you're purposely undermining the sentiment of the words you are actually using, do you see? So you can't truly mean something and say it sarcastically at the same time, which is something you nonetheless try to do all the time.”
“What?” Jacob stared at Alice blankly.
“You are being sardonic, really. You're trying to express contempt for the things you are forced to say. But you still really mean them. If you'd sat down and said 'I'm REALLY looking forward to this fortune-telling,' then that would have been an appropriate use of sarcasm. You wouldn't have actually meant it.”
“I still don't understand.”
“Never mind,” Alice said quickly, waving her hand dismissively and reaching for a cigarette. “Let's not discuss it any further. Okay. So, your fortune.” She flipped over the first card in the deck with a flourish: the three sailors.
“What does it mean?” Jacob asked, real curiosity brightening his eyes.
“That depends. What month were you born again?” Alice moved the card around with her hand, following it with her eyes.
“Okay, and how big is your bicep?”Alice glanced up at him curiously.
“How does that apply?”
“It doesn't I was just curious. The card means you're gay.”
“The cards don't lie, Jacob. You like having sex with men. It's okay, I do too. You couldn't have picked a better place to live. There are quite a few nice pieces of man-meat around here.” Alice gestured around the windows of Jacob's house, leaving a thin ring of smoke around herself for a moment.
“Tell me about it,” Jacob said.
Alice grinned.
“I don't mean that in a gay way,” he said defensively.
“How could you not mean that in a gay way?” She mumbled as she flipped over the next card: the clock.
“And this one?”
“Usually it predicts the time a person will die. Paired with the three sailors, it means you will die at age three.”
“I already lived past the age of three.”
“Oh, right.” Alice stared at the deck of cards absent-mindedly. She really had no idea what she was doing. “It means your dick is three inches long.”
“No it isn't!” Jacob protested.
“The cards don't lie.”
“Yes they do!”
“Prove it,” Alice said, unsubtly licking her lips. Normally she wouldn't be so forward, but she felt like she needed to paint this picture for Jacob in broad strokes. Very broad strokes. Fucking Jackson Pollock splatter-strokes. When he didn't make a move, she unbuttoned the top button of her shirt and drew another card: death.
“That looks bad.”
“No, no.” She smiled, lying. “It symbolizes virility. The cards are saying you'd be very good in bed.”
“Well, the cards don't lie,” Jacob said sarcastically.
“Or do they?” Alice stubbed out her cigarette and looked Jacob in the eyes. It was sort of like looking at a wall, she mused. Or a pile of bricks. Jasper could be so intellectual sometimes, it was frustrating. This Jacob was an appealing young brute. “Hey, look over there!” she shouted suddenly.
Jacob looked around for what she was pointing at while Alice scanned through the deck at lightning speed, finally moving a card from the middle to the top of the deck. Jacob turned around.
“What am I looking at?”
“Oh, there was a dog. I thought, maybe, it was one of your friends. But it was a normal dog.”
“Very funny. What's the next card?”
Alice turned it over: the lovers. “It means,” she said very slowly. “That you are going to have sex. Right now.”
“Huh?” Jacob was startled. “With who?”
“Um,” Alice gave him a sideways look, and when he didn't catch on, simply pointed at herself.
“I'm not going to have sex with a bloodsucker,” he said sarcastically.
“So, you mean to say that you really are going to?” Alice asked.
Jacob thought about it. He really should stop using words he didn't understand, but it seemed to be working out okay this time. “Yes?”
“See? You're learning,” Alice said, standing up.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

BLOGGING ECLIPSE, pt. 7: Eagle On A Pole

Previous entries can be found in the directory.

Chapter 4 (cont'd): Nature

Bella goes to work at Newton's and for some reason we get a lengthy introduction to Mike's mom. She's “the last person I'd think to ask for help in a sports equipment store,” Bella says, because she has, for instance, fingernails “polished by professionals.” She's in the middle of a conversation with Mike, telling him he can't go to Seattle with Tyler (strip club trip, probably) because of the murder spree going on up there. So where does she go to get her nails done? But the whole page and a half ends up feeling like a distraction because Bella is immediately informed that business is slow today so she can go home. Is business ever not slow? Why do I find it hard to believe that Newton's makes a lot of money? A lot of hikers come to Forks, you say – I'm sure that brings in lots, knowing as we do how hikers are such avid consumers.

As Bella leaves, Mrs. Newton asks her to throw a stack of flyers in the dumpster for her. On her way back out to the truck, the image on the front of the flyer catches Bella's eye. It's a campaign to “Save The Olympic Wolf,” and Bella over-identifies with what sounds like a goofy sketch of a sad wolf, “howling in grief.” (Now I'm howling in grief.) That Three Wolf Moon shirt would totally work on Bella. She makes a snap decision to visit Jacob - recall that Edward is away on a hunting trip. Somewhere, too far away, Alice just looked up and went “FUCK!” Bella realizes that if she moves fast enough, the Cullens won't be able to stop her. A couple of lively paragraphs evoke the urgency of the trip rather well; I found my eyes moving across the page very quickly, which is one of those things that's so tricky it's probably more luck than anything else. Short words and iambic pentameter probably help, but the rest of it is voodoo. But S. Meyer ruins the goodwill she just earned by slipping into present tense YET AGAIN, TWICE ON ONE PAGE. “As long as I moved fast enough, I should be able to capitalize on it,” Bella says. A few lines later, she concludes, “This must be beyond where Alice was allowed to follow.” Set that off in italics or something, at least, S. Meyer!

She pulls into Jacob's driveway and he's out the front door before she's out of the car. Somewhat appealingly, he greets her with unreserved enthusiasm. It's nice to see Jacob behaving like he did before he got all grim and rape-y, even if it doesn't totally make sense he would suddenly be this way again. Bella's circumstances are obviously totally different now, too. S. Meyer is sort of suggesting to us that around Jacob, Bella reverts back a few years in maturity level. (That is basically exactly what happened in my freshman dorm room. Instead of going out and trying to meet girls, my three roommates and I played a lot of Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64, which eventually expanded into playing “Goldeneye” in AOL chat when we should have been studying at the library - “Zac entered the chat.” “Sam: No you didn't because I left a proximity mine in the doorway of the chatroom and blew you up.” - which itself expanded into a real-world Goldeneye game we would play on the fifth floor of the library, where we'd crouch behind bookshelves and shoot at each other with imaginary guns or wait until someone went to the bathroom and then we'd leave a paper proximity mine on the floor on the way out. I was nineteen. We also used to play a great game called “cliffhanger” where one of us would hang off of a lofted bed by one arm and everyone else would try to pull that person up. It sounds stupid, but seriously, it was so much fun.) Bella doesn't strike me as the kind of girl who ever went through a “burning ants with a magnifying glass” phase – old soul, remember? – but maybe Jacob brings out the inner-child Bella never had or something. I don't know, why am I writing this book for S. Meyer? But Bella feels like someone who might “do something really stupid for no good reason.” I'll take that over someone who does really stupid things for the purpose of doing seeming intentional damage to her personal-and-inner life.

They catch up and it's kind of nice, but Jacob eventually brings up Edward, and the fact that they are together again. “You forgave him for all of that?” Jacob asks.

I took a deep breath. “There was nothing to forgive.”

I know that's supposed to be like, a Great Romances kind of a line, but it's a little more Great Co-Dependent Abusive Relationships kind of a line, you know? Why was there nothing to forgive? Jacob brings up the way Bella looked that first night Sam Uley dragged her ass out of the woods. “It would be exhibit A.”

“Nobody's on trial.”
“Maybe somebody should be.”

Atta boy, Jacob! Regretably, they don't keep up the court rhetoric any longer (“Objection!” I shouted.) But Bella tells Jacob Edward's real reason for leaving – he wanted her to stay away from the vampires – and Jacob is taken a bit aback. I like that S. Meyer keeps giving us these moments where Jacob or Edward realize that the other guy is not necessarily the worst guy in the world. I mean, they are two of the worst guys in the world, don't get me wrong. But relative to each other, they're not. Think of this as like, when two super-villains are thinking about joining forces. “Maybe this other guy is good at trying to kill Batman, too!”

Bella recounts the end of New Moon for Jacob, who was not around. The only kind of funny part is that Jacob refers to Alice as “the fortune-telling bloodsucker.” But after she's finished she gets Jacob to tell her about the incident involving Emmett that took place while she was in Florida. Jacob basically tells a longer version of the exact some story Edward did – and when Bella tells him as much he again seems surprised, like he has to keep re-adjusting his expectations of Edward. Welcome to the club, Jacob, we've been at this for three books!

Jacob says at one point the Cullens chased Victoria back to where the wolves had once been. “Would have been the perfect ambush if we'd known where to wait,” he says. So you're saying if the vampires and werewolves had learned to work together, they could have accomplished something? Well, I'm sure that's never going to happen. There's an irritating section where Jacob keeps trying to describe members of the Cullen family and Bella keeps interrupting him with their names, as if we don't know them already.

“Then their leader and the other blond male –”
“Carlisle and Jasper.”
He gave me an exasperated look. “You know I don't really care.”

THANK YOU, Jacob. But of course, nothing about this book can hold my goodwill for very long. Jacob starts in talking about how if Alice had never seen Bella's swan (get it?) dive off the cliff, none of the Cullens would have ever come back and he'd probably be getting BJs on the reg from Bella by now. Well, that's not exactly what he says. He also says Sam Uley is mad at her for getting back together with Edward.

Jacob's eyes flashed up to mine. “He thought you were the one person in the wold with as much reason to hate the Cullens as he does. Sam feels sort of... betrayed that you would let them back into your life like they never hurt you.”

So basically Sam is mad at Bella for doing exactly what Emily did. I'm willing to see this as a genuine character note and not S. Meyer's mistake. Like in Sam Uley's weird brain, staying with Edward is like Bella is repeating Sam's own mistakes, which, perversely, makes being with Jacob the right decision. I can see a coherent, sociopathic ideology forming in Sam Uley.

“A man's gotta have a code.”-Omar

Then Jacob, like Edward before him, gets philosophical. Oy gevalt.

“You see it everywhere,” Jacob said, his voice suddenly distant. “Nature taking its course – hunter and prey, the endless cycle of life and death.”

I'm already picking up weird echoes of Edward's Intelligent Design speech that sets up the Lion & Lamb, Smiths-song passage of Twilight. But Jacob takes it another way. They watch an eagle pull a fish about of the water.

“And yet, you don't see the fish trying to plant a kiss on the eagle. You never see that.” He grinned a mocking grin.

I can think of about a million things Bella could have said to shut Jacob up right then and there.

“But that eagle gives unbelievable oral.”

But instead she suggests that the fish was trying. “I mean, sometimes Edward has me tied up in the dungeon and I really want a kiss, but usually I'm blindfolded.” Jacob says he can't understand how they can love each other – he advises her instead to “look within your own species.” Oh boy. I like the arrogant portrait of Jacob painted here – he doesn't see this as the pot calling the kettle an unnatural freak. I'm reminded for some reason of that Dave Chappelle sketch about the black KKK member. (Is there a more compelling cultural figure of the aughts than D. Chappelle, by the way? He starts a wildly successful comedy show, and is so bothered by white frat guys shouting 'I'm Rick James, bitch' that he quite literally goes crazy and disappears. There's something both tragic and admirable about that. Dave Chappelle is a modern Brutus.) Again, it's still hard to know how much S. Meyer understands and how much is accidental moral ambiguity. Our author is still not Jenji Kohan or even Mattew Weiner, you know? But it feels like maybe she's starting to become self-aware. Not to give too much away, but how much S. Meyer understands about what she's writing is about to become really important again.

Anyway, Bella points out that he is as much a freak as the Cullens. (“Nobody is as much of a freak as me.”-Alice Cullen) He keeps maintaining that it's “not the same.” And then it gets really gay-parallel-y.

“They shouldn't exist. Their existence goes against nature.”

This coming from the werewolf, Twilight's own Ted Haggard all of the sudden. “What I am was born in me. It's a part of who I am, who my family is.” This kind of blindness is maddening and becoming more and more prevalent in real life – "with me it's different" - I don't need it invading Twilight, too. Bella doesn't harshly dismiss him like she really, really should. When he points out that he is still human and holds her hand to his chest to feel his heartbeat, she melts. If Bella was being courted by any guys with even a modicum of skill, she'd have fucked them a long time ago.

“Oh Jacob,” I whispered, reaching for his hand.

She says Jacob is in pain, and she doesn't know how to help him, “but I knew I had to try.”

Jacob had become a part of me, and there was no changing that now.

So she takes off her pants. Just kidding.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

BLOGGING ECLIPSE, pt. 6: Plane Crash In C

You may have noticed that I am not, at the moment, feeling particularly bound by chapter breaks. That is mostly because these first few chapters are really long. I know this probably makes reading along more difficult, but in each post we will always finish at least one chapter. So there's that. Also: there is a lot going on in these chapters! So if I don't address something, bring it up in the comments. Previous entries can be found in the directory.

Chapter 3 (cont'd): Motives

Faced with the realization that Victoria is going to kill her again (I really have no idea why this is a realization, hasn't the Victoria threat been a threat all along?) Bella starts to hyperventilate and freak out. Jacob's notion that Bella should be kept in the loop about everyone trying to kill her is sort of undercut here, isn't it? “Better frightened than lied to,” Jacob says. I'm not so sure about that! Bella is doubly frustrating for those of us who advocate for gender equality: she's not treated fairly, but she doesn't really deserve to be anyway!

Meanwhile, Edward and Jacob's parking lot stand-off is attracting the attention of the student body, who are really hoping either a fight or a threesome will break out. Jacob maintains that Bella could handle more than Edward gives her credit for. I think he means the threats, not two dicks at once. (“Why not both?”-Alice Cullen) “And she's been through worse,” Jacob says.

And that's when Jacob starts basically beating up Edward with his mind. His eyes narrow, “like he was trying to do a difficult math problem in his head,” (So, for Jacob: 2+2. Hey-O!) and it becomes clear that he is deliberately thinking about how much Bella suffered when Edward was gone. His thoughts seem to cause Edward physical pain; it reminds Bella of Volterra and Jane. There is no way to avoid that rhyme – Jane's name rhymes pain! – it's like you know it's coming and you have to just stand there; this is S. Meyer at her most low-rent JK Rowling. But hey, maybe Jacob and Jane will get together some day!

Maddeningly, seeing Edward hurt makes Bella feel guilty. He's the one who left you! “I'd rather Victoria killed me a hundred times over than watch Edward suffer that way again,” she says. So the obvious thing to do, if preventing Edward's suffering is so important, would be to stay away from Jacob. Why do I feel like that's not going to happen? Maybe it's not actually that important? Maybe Bella shouldn't be so hyperbolic?

Edward informs them that the principal is on his way out to the parking lot, so they'd better wrap it up. Jacob decides to speak his character notes aloud.

“A little trouble makes life fun. Let me guess, you're not allowed to have fun, are you?”

Last I recalled, Jacob was really angry at Bella, right? He is openly hostile for most of this exchange, but then he just drops it. He invites Bella to come be his friend again, saying, “I miss you ever day.” I guess we should give S. Meyer credit for at least the head-fake toward the New Moon incarnation of Jacob. Still, that got resolved pretty quickly! Bella has a pang of affection for Jacob - “to wrap around his big, warm [wait for it...] waist in a silent promise of acceptance and comfort.” Poor Bella is torn. She loves Edward, but she wants to fuck Jacob so bad. What's a girl to do? “Edward's shielding arms had become restraints,” she says. Yeah, we got that the first hundred times it happened.

“See what I'm doing here?”-S. Meyer

The principal finally does show up, and Jacob grins while he gets admonished for trespassing. S. Meyer's idea of what a cool bad kid is like seems almost entirely based on Happy Days. Like, literally Jacob is going to hop on his motorcycle now and go get a milkshake. He salutes the principal (showed him! What a SQUARE!) and takes off.

Bella and Edward get to English, where their teacher is “reciting a Frost poem.” Oh hey I wonder which one? Bella and Edward proceed to talk in a series of notes back and forth, irritatingly displayed in different sets of fake handwriting font. (Fake handwriting font is a little too YA-ish for me. It's a little too YA-ish for nine-year olds, really.) Edward's explanation (which we basically already understand: Victoria tried to come to Forks again, they didn't catch her) is all-the-more irritating. “Victoria seems to have some instinct for evasion,” he says.


Bella is pissed, thinking that the Cullens, the wolves, and Charlie were at risk while they were away in Florida. There's a kind of funny bit where he says he wouldn't have sent her alone because with her luck “not even the black box would survive.” She raises the point that even if he'd been on the plane with her and it had crashed – say, the engines exploded – he wouldn't have been able to do anything. Edward begs to differ:

“I'd wait until we were close enough to the ground, get a good grip on you, kick out the wall, and jump. Then I'd run you back to the scene of the accident, and we'd stumble around like the two luckiest survivors in history.”

I have to admit, that's pretty hot. I'm wet. It's weird that I came pretty close to forecasting this also. The teacher is suddenly at Edward's desk, asking Edward if he has something to share. I had teachers who did this kind of thing, but I'm pretty sure even those teachers knew they were being ridiculous and cliched. Edward hands the teacher “a perfect transcription of his lecture” and the poor sucker walks away (showed him! What a SQUARE!). Later on, Bella overhears Tyler, Mike, and some other boys betting on who would win in a fight between Edward and Jacob, or “the big Indian” as they call him. They lament that nothing serious happened today, but conclude that it isn't over yet.


And they decided to discuss it further over a soda pop at Arnold's.

Chapter 4: Nature

Bella at least acknowledges that in retrospect S. Meyer's last reveal was kind of stupid. “I knew that essentially nothing had changed. Okay, so Victoria had not given up, but had I ever dreamed for one moment that she had?” Uh-huh. That's what I thought.

Bella has apparently taken this concern to the Cullens: Isn't it a good idea to vamp me before she gets here? But for some reason no one comes through for her this time. Bella's recollection of it kinda reads like a childrens' picture book: The Girl Who Wanted To Become A Vampire:

“Carlisle had said,” There are seven of us, Bella. And with Alice on our side, I don't think Victoria's going to catch us off guard.”

Alice had rolled her eyes and said, “I'm offended. You're honestly not worried about this, are you?”

I thought S. Meyer had agreed to stay away from past-perfect tense. But anyway, Bella says “Edward's response had been the most frustrating of them all.” See what I mean about the kids' book? This is like the part where you have to give the mouse a whole cookie factory or something. Edward says he'd make her a vampire now if she married him. Of course he would say that. And of course Bella resists for no particular reason. Again, if this is so important to Bella she should just drag his ass down to courthouse and get it over with!

One weekend, Edward goes hunting. Bella wakes up on Saturday to a note from him: “Look after my heart – I've left it with you.” After she finishes vomiting, she contemplates her “big empty Saturday with nothing but my morning shift at Newton's Olympic Outfitters.” It's irritating that Bella thinks she has LITERALLY nothing to do without Edward. How long has she known the guy? What did you do before? Read a book! Learn an instrument! At the very least go get high with Alice! Speaking of Alice, Bella mentions that she'd spend the night “if I was pathetic enough to ask her to.” A million lesbian slashfiction authors just fired up their laptops.

She also mentions a plan to see Angela later to help her with her graduation announcements. I still don't get why this is a big deal. I graduated in May and my announcements are still in a desk drawer. The point is, though, that her day isn't actually empty! So there's really no reason for her to be so filled with apathy and dread that she apparently eats her cereal “one Cheerio at a time.” Then she starts organizing the magnets on the fridge, but can't get the last two to line up. “Their polarities were reversed,” she says. Bella finds this moment deeply symbolic. “I could have flipped one over, but that felt like losing.” Why not flip one over? Why would that feel like losing?

So many different things facing Bella are The Worst Thing facing her. It actually wouldn't be that hard to fix half of this shit! If you can't bear to see Edward in pain, break if off with Jacob. If you want to be a vampire, just fucking marry Edward in Vegas! (Bella's resistance to marry Edward feels like an element wrongly incorporated from some other book. Bella wants very badly to spend her entire life and then some with Edward, she plans on never seeing anyone in her family again anyway, and she has been cast forever as an old soul just like Edward. She is reacting like a typical girl in more typical circumstances would, but S. Meyer has worked pretty hard to convince us that Bella is not a typical girl under typical circumstances! This subplot is eroding the rest of the book!) Bella finally ends up holding the magnets together in her hands, a kind of dark indication of where we're going next. I hope you guys didn't get tired of Bella being manipulative in New Moon!

"There's no need to be so inflexible," I muttered.