Wednesday, June 29, 2011

BLOGGING BREAKING DAWN, pt. 45: Let Garrett Be Garrett

Last time, Caius interrogated various ancillary characters who continued to affirm that the Cullens were innocent. If the infant-sized glove does not fit Renesmee, you must acquit! This time, he continues to realize his dream of being a lawyer (in elementary school Caius starred as head prosecutor Peter Pan in a mock trial of Captain Hook) until Garrett interrupts him and stages an impromptu Glenn Beck episode on the battlefield, bringing everything to a screeching halt. Seriously.

Chapter 37 (fucking cont'd): Contrivances

Aro starts saying that even though no law has been broken, Renesmee may pose a danger still. Maggie, whoever that is, shakes her head “with slow anger.” I FEEL U GURL. But here is where I will give this book a little credit. We have been enduring, for hundreds of pages, a deluge of rhetorical conceits. (Like: In this chapter, Bella just watched Aro watch Garrett subdue Kate knowing that Aro had knowledge of Kate's power, which he learned through Edward's memories, and Bella wondered what Aro's reaction to Garrett's overcoming said power would be—if he would realize Bella's shield power was so potent or if he would draw some other conclusion. YES THAT IS HOW S. MEYER WRITES THINGS.) The rhetorical conceit that Aro now introduces is kind of an interesting one: for centuries, he says vampires stayed secretive out of “convenience.” But now, it's a matter of national security. “The raw, angry century has given birth to weapons of such power that they endanger even immortals,” he says. Therefore, he seems to suggest, desperate times call for desperate measures; the ambiguity surrounding RNSM cannot be allowed. Aro is trying to ram through his very own Patriot Act.

(The USA PATRIOT Act is an acronym: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. Did you know that? What would the acronym be for the VAMPIRE act? Assuming the Volturi/S. Meyer had their act together enough to form a coherent system of government, I mean. Violence Against Many People Is Really Essential?)

Garrett, the American Revolutionary vampire (never forget) steps forward and asks to speak. Aro gives him permission, and he proceeds to get all Patrick Henry on our asses. It's sort of cool, in a way, after you shake out the unavoidable Tea Party associations that now come with his kind of rhetoric; he speaks to the Volturi's witnesses, of whom he recognizes several fellow nomads who “answer to no one,” and indicates that the Volturi are trying to broaden the scope of government. Again, interesting. But what is it doing here?

(Also, uh, is this book becoming a weird criticism of the Bush presidency, post 9-11? It came out while he was still in office. However, book three opened with a quote from Bush defender Orson Scott Card, so maybe it's just supposed to be a hazy rejoinder against general tyranny in the same way that Tea Party types can say we should put Mexicans and gays in concentration camps or whatever and then say Obama is the Orwellian one.)

Garrett's speech touches off the penultimate arc of this scene—something else happens soon that negates all of it, but we'll get to that—so it's a little unclear to me why he has such an important role. Why isn't this critical speech being spoken by Edward? Carlisle? Bella? Our main characters stand aside while Garrett and Aro write an AP US History final exam. It's totally bizarre and wrong.

Of course, the same old sexual politics we have been dealing with for a thousand pages resurface in Garrett's speech, too. He tells the witnesses that the Cullen family's (he stresses the word “family” over “coven” like a true values voter) golden eyes are a testament to their bond, that they have found something better than “mere gratification of desire.” Uh-huh. But the overall appeal is a good one. “The Volturi care nothing for the death of the child,” he says. “They seek the death of our free will.” He only uses the word “freedom” once, and never mentions Obamacare! Bully for you, Garrett!

At the end, Aro calls Garrett a “revolutionary,” which Garrett bristles at. “Are you my king?” he asks. YA BURNT ARO. Aro says he was only referring to his time of birth: “Still a patriot, I see.” S. Meyer clearly thinks that basing Garrett in the Revolutionary War era is the most clever thing she has ever done, and she would like to be congratulated for it. But you know what? Now that I think about it, it actually MIGHT BE the most clever thing she has ever done. So bully for you, too, Stephenie.

If Aro is the George Bush or whoever in this situation, he makes the perfect next move: he asks the people (his crowd of witnesses). Invoking regressive public opinion has been the bread & butter of the Right for years—that well is only now running dry. But anyway he throws in some push-poll* language just in case: “Do we put our world in jeopardy to preserve their family intact?” That's a redundant phrase, Aro. A couple of vampires testify that they think Garrett is right, and then they run away. Hahaha okay, bye guys? The rest of the Volturi witnesses stay and don't say anything, and Bella guesses that a few are just too confused to decide whether or not they want to stick around. TELL ME ABOUT IT!

(*For the uninitiated, a push-poll is a political dirty trick used to A. bolster opinion in your favor and B. create unfavorable associations for your opponent. If Michele Bachmann were to pay for a poll with a question like “If Barack Obama paid for your daughter's abortion, murdering the beautiful child growing inside of her, would you be more or less likely to vote for him?” then that would be a push-poll.)

Aro wanders back to his gang and asks them if they think preserving their world is worth dying for. They creepily whisper affirmative responses in unison. Then, Aro calls a meeting with his brothers, and Bella seizes the brief opportunity to tell Jacob about running with RNSM and all the plans she's been making. (Dude is probably so excited. Bella tells him that she chose him because he loves RNSM so much. UGH UGH UGH UGH UGH. FUCK YOU FOREVER S. MEYER) Of course, this is also the first Edward has heard of Bella's back up plan, and he watches in horror. Bella confesses she had to keep it from him to keep it from Aro, and Edward has a look of agonized resignation as he figures it all out. Good luck, Robert Pattinson.

Then Bella tells Jacob he will always be her best man, whatever that means, and “a teardrop the size of a baseball” comes out of his eye. How do you not burst out laughing when you see a baseball sized tear? And then the most insane fucking thing ever happens: Edward puts his head against Jacob's wolf-shoulder and says: “Goodbye, Jacob, my son.”

AHHHHHHHHH WHAT THE FUUUUUUUUCK? This is some Oral Biography of Buster Casey shit, you guys. Edward, that is the grossest thing I have ever heard.

“Is there no hope, then?” Carlisle whispered. There was no fear in his voice. Just determination and acceptance.

Carlisle is the least father-like father figure ever. He's taking his lead from Bella now? God. His response touches off a bunch of murmured goodbyes amongst the Cullens and their allies, and again Garrett manages to steal the show:

“If we live through this,” Garrett whispered to Kate, “I'll follow you anywhere, woman.”
“Now he tells me,” she muttered.

I sort of love that? But again, what is it doing here? I mean, I know I have given up on liking any of our main characters, but has S. Meyer given up too?

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Friday, June 24, 2011

BLOGGING BREAKING DAWN, pt. 44: Feeling Yourself Disintegrate

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Last time, the bottom dropped out AGAIN. I keep thinking it can't get any worse, any more poorly thought out or incoherent, and then it does. Most recently, we learned that the wolves aren't actually wolves but are actually shape-shifters who chose the form of wolves. Does that do anything for you? Did you derive any satisfaction from learning it?

Throwing a bunch of ideas at a wall and seeing what sticks is a perfectly fine thing to do in private. But you don't just just take the WHOLE WALL and EVERYTHING ON THE FLOOR and just publish it without considering ANYTHING, Stephenie! Did you ever stop and think that real other humans would have to read this?


My big problem used to be that I did not understand why no parent had ever complained about the regressive sexual politics and subliminal messages in Twilight. I am still outraged at that, but my primary issue now is more basic: I do not understand how or why someone allowed this to be published. That Breaking Dawn got published makes me question ever wanting to be a writer. I thought that unlike a lot of industries, publishing would be a meritocracy. It can't be. Either it's random and cruel and Hobbesian, or S. Meyer is somebody's cousin. Like a young baseball fan who finds out his favorite player is on steroids, my worldview is shaken.

When I was a senior in high school, I felt like my parents deliberately distanced themselves from me, emotionally, in order to aid in the transition. I don't know if they really did, or did it consciously, or if I unconsciously did it myself, but anyway this is sort of how I feel about Twilight now. For a while, in the middle, I could see how people liked it; I can't anymore. I feel lost; I'm questioning past defenses. You want to say Twilight is gay and vampires don't sparkle? Fine. That's a more defensible position than mine.

Chapter 37 (cont'd): Contrivances

So here's what this chapter is: it's a series of mini-trials, with Caius and Aro acting as prosecutors from the law firm of Dewey, Cheetum, & Howe). They interrogate various characters we don't care about, looking for an excuse to destroy the Cullens. When Aro informs Caius that the werewolves aren't werewolves but are actually shapeZZZZZZZZZZZ—I fell angrily asleep for a second there, sorry—he also gives his brother a meaningful glance while telling him not to waste time with “false accusations.” Bella realizes that they are going down a checklist, looking for an effective strategy. This is also what S. Meyer is doing. And it isn't working for anybody.

Caius brings Irina forward again and interrogates her; he asks about her motivation for coming to the Volturi in the first place—did she have it in for Carlisle? She explains that the Cullens sided with the wolfpack—sorry, the SHAPE-SHIFTER PACK—over the killing of Laurent, and that's why she got mad and called 5-0. Bitches be crazy, right? (Why couldn't it have been a dude who impulsively ratted out the Cullens?)

“So the Cullens sided with the
shape-shifters against our own kind—against the friend of a friend, even,” Caius said.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: do you give a shit about any of this? Irina makes a stand though, and says she bears no ill-will against the Cullens or the wolves—I MEAN SHAPE-SHIFTERS—now. And then she seals the deal: “There was no crime. There's no valid reason for you to continue here.” That does it for Caius, and he signals a few Volturi members who swoop in and immediately kill Irina. Everybody stands there shocked while Caius pulls out a “carved and ornate” silver object which basically turns out to be a super-powerful zippo lighter that he uses to burn Irina's remains. Okay, so long Irina! Whoa!

(I mean, who the fuck is Irina anyway, but at least S. Meyer killed SOMEBODY.)

If you remember, which you probably don't and why would you, Kate and Tanya are Irina's sisters. So they charge forward in a rage and the Cullens move to stop them. Rosalie gets flattened by Kate's shock power (she has a shock power, by the way), and so does Emmett (“Don't tase me bro!”-Emmett). But then Garrett locks his arms around her, enduring shock after shock until Bella finesses the fabric of her shield between them and Kate is subdued. The only problem is: Bella already did that shit! She converted her dome-shield into a shield that wrapped around each person a few pages ago! And that should have protected them from each other's powers in the first place! UGH OH WELL.

And my attention returned to the weight of the stares that pressed down on our moment of chaos.

YEESH. Bella wonders if the Volturi understood what happened with her moving her shield between Garrett and Kate and all. Hey, why aren't you worried about US? There are other stares pressing down on this moment of chaos, girl! Just as confused as the readers are the mob of witnesses the Volturi brought along. Bella feels like Irina's swift death unsettled them; she watches Aro glance worriedly behind him. “His need for an audience had backfired badly.” Ha! I'm not saying EVERY SENTENCE in this chapter also applies as a criticism for S. Meyer, but uh, most of them do. Still surveying the other nameless, shapeless vampires, Bella assumes that after they've all been killed the Volturi will have to track down and kill their own witnesses, too. For them, and for Jacob, RNSM, Alice, and Jasper, Bella says, “Demetri had to die.” She cares about the witnesses, too? Oh my god! It only took four books for Bella to learn compassion for strangers!

Caius moves on to Amun, while Edward's fists ball up so tight “it looked like the bones in his knuckles would split through his diamond-hard skin.” Is that supposed to be sexy? Because that strikes me as an extraordinarily childish gesture. I'm picturing Edward as a Peanuts character. Amun boringly affirms the details of the Cullen story, and then asks Aro if he can leave. “I gave my witness. I have no more business here,” he says. Good instinct, Amun. Get out while you still can.

So there are two ways they can play the character of Amun—these roles were apparently cast, which means Melissa Rosenberg resisted the (I'm sure overwhelming) temptation to cut the last 300 pages out (but Bill Condon can still do the noble thing and spare us)—either play him as a rational actor, staying out of the conflict for good reason, or play him as an over-the-top coward. An over-the-top Arab coward, no less. Which is why I am certain the second way is how they'll go with it.

The great Wendell Pierce (of Treme and The Wire and the upcoming Horrible Bosses) is, as it turn out, playing J. Jenks in Breaking Dawn pt. 2. Which means the black actors in the series so far have been the guy who hits Bella with a car, the bad vampire who gets ripped apart by wolves, and the criminal ID forger. GUHHHH thanks, Summit Entertainment!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Here, Read This Infuriating Fucking Thing

Yesterday Slate published a bewildering, rambling missive from two YA authors who discussed their craft, or, you know, lack thereof. This morning many YA experts are complaining about this entitled, bizarre, loathing-filled article (which is probably why Slate ran it in the first place), but I thought we should discuss it a little here. I'm not really sure how to summarize this thing, though. Here's how it starts:

Young-adult books are being sold to an audience that can't vote, yet they're being written by people commonly referred to on the Internet as "the olds." We should know. We're two of them. Both of us have made our living writing. One of us in journalism (Grady) and the other in literary fiction (Katie). But then Katie's publisher pitched her on doing a Y.A. series, mostly because she's somewhat immature and teenager-ish anyway, so why not turn that weakness into a strength?

One of the authors has a background in journalism? ARE YOU SURE? What the fuck kind of paragraph is that? At first it sounds like this is going to be a piece about how ironic it is that old people write about kids. Is that ironic, Alanis? Did you know that Chappelle's Show had some white writers? But that thesis, if it is one, is jettisoned. In favor of...uhhh?

And, besides, there's no shame in Y.A. these days. Since 1999, the market has grown by 25 percent, and all the big authors are doing it: Patterson, Grisham, Bushnell. At this point, the next likely candidate is a Y.A. book from Jonathan Franzen. It would be very meta: The Corruptions. By the time the kid finished it, he'd be 35.

I'm 60% sure that is supposed to be a joke, but it's going in so many directions I can't make heads or tails of it. And the writing gets way worse.

Our series, The Magnolia League, is, in some ways, the high-school experience we never had, where everyone is witty and good-looking and their problems are more like, "My evil grandmother is torturing my dead mom's soul!" rather than, "I have a lot of zits." It's an opportunity to relive high school in a more perfect manner.

"In a more perfect manner"? I'm having trouble imagining an uglier phrase, not to mention the issue with something being "more perfect." And here's where it becomes most relevant to our interests:

It would be creepy if we included explicit sex scenes with glistening young skin and heaving young bosoms, but we keep it on the clean side. This isn't Twilight. No slutty werewolves here.

Did you just scream? It's okay if you did. I'll let literary agent Sarah LaPolla take this one:
Amen! They go on to write about how much they hate writing the few sex scenes they do have in their books, and how they made fun of each other for how bad the writing is and use the worst lines as email signatures. Way to own your own writing, you fucking cowards! Holy shit! AND THEN they talk about the "crazy" timetable for writing YA fiction and how they barely have any time to write more than two drafts before it has to be published. They say YA isn't like their MFA background with all the rumination and the literary effort and all that bullshit. (Is this article hating on YA fiction or serious fiction or both? Why are they writers?)

But readers in Y.A. don't care about rumination. They don't want you to pore over your sentences trying to find the perfect turn of phrase that evokes the exact color of the shag carpeting in your living room when your dad walked out on your mom one autumn afternoon in 1973.

OK, so I'm 24 and I can barely remember being 20 but I know for sure my teenage self would have resented such a statement. My nine-year-old self would have resented it! From there, they talk about how much they hated being part of the "real" literary world, and how getting messages from fans on Facebook is better than being "anointed by The New Yorker." ("Who care about awards?"-A guy who just lost an award) There's a confusingly-worded section where it sounds like they say they want "to make out with" their fans, but I'm pretty sure they're talking about their former, adult fans, not their new teenage fans. And then they compare being a YA writer to being the socially acceptable version of a pedophile! Really?! Yes, really. That happens:

It's sort of weird how, at a time when a reliable scare story is, 'Are internet predators coming for your children?' that we are being paid good money to be literary predators and come for people's children. Only we do it with a nice marketing campaign and books about Southern debutantes with occult powers, rather than an old van with the windows blacked out.

The other day I walked past a girl with a t-shirt from like, her high school's graduation. It read 2011 Trojans: We Made It Thru. My point is, people need to think about how the words coming out of their mouths actually sound. Go read this alienating, horrible piece of shit at Slate, and then read the comments! They're great!

(Thanks, Kim and Mufasa)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

BLOGGING BREAKING DAWN, pt. 43: Fluorescent Half Dome

As the prolonged standoff between the Volturi and the Cullens continues, I continue to ask: how sure are we these dudes are evil? We are told so by Edward in New Moon, sort of, I mean he kind of implies it at us, but the evidence did not really come down in his favor. Back then, Aro and the gang were nothing but reasonable—they tried to talk Edward out of suicide, even!—and they let our heroes go in peace. Yes, they did kill a bunch of innocent humans right after that, but let's fast forward to Breaking Dawn: the Cullens are now allowing their many guests to hunt all over Washington and Oregon, killing innocent humans, too. On balance, the Cullens and the Volturi are doing equal amounts of evil.

(And in fact, it is indicated somewhere that older vampires don't have to feed very much, right? So the gang of recruits on the Cullen side is probably doing more damage to the human population than the Volturi are, at the moment.)

Putting humans aside, let's look at vampire-on-vampire violence. In these books, the Volturi have killed exactly one vampire: Bree Tanner. Edward has murdered Victoria and James, Jacob has murdered Laurent, Seth Clearwater has murdered Riley, and the rest of the Cullens and wolves have murdered an indeterminate number of newborns. Advantage: Volturi.

Of course, the Volturi could prove me wrong. They could bust out some straight-up evil shit in this chapter. Except no, spoiler alert: instead they listen to Carlisle and behave reasonably. WHOOPS.

S. Meyer seems to think it is enough to hear from Edward that the Volturi's thoughts are evil. This is a relatively typical religious point of view—that sinning in your mind is just as bad. Sorry Stephenie, but that is not enough for me. Actions speak louder than thoughts. Even for Edward.

Chapter 36 (cont'd): Bloodust

So Irina gets brought forward to testify about the baby she saw, and of course she looks over at Renesmee and is like oh, uh, she looks bigger! Caius, a Volturi brother who has been important for the last ten seconds and will continue to be for the next five, gets really angry. Aro steps back in, takes Irina's hand, and confirms that the child in her memory is smaller. Well yeah, eye-witness testimony is notoriously unreliable, Aro! Dude should know that by now. I mean, I know Irina is right, but this moment of hesitation on Aro's part means there probably won't be a fight. Carlisle sighs in relief, and I just sigh.

Aro insists on getting “every facet” of the truth, and asks to read Edward's thoughts. Aro is totes a Twi-hard; he wants to see the bed-breaking sex scene too! As Edward steps forward to share all the dirty deets, Bella has a sudden fit of rage.

My muscles tightened, and I acted automatically...The shield blew out from me in a bubble of sheer energy, a mushroom cloud of liquid steel.

Bella can feel the “points of bright heat, dazzling sparks of light” surrounding her, like S. Meyer is sending notes to the visual effects team for the film adaptation. Seriously though, isn't this kind of a big problem, that all of the action is internal and invisible? This scene is 100 vampires standing around in a clearing while Bella thinks really hard; she notes that the full realization of her powers has gone totally unnoticed by everyone else in the clearing (and everyone in the movie theater).

Bella can easily follow Edward with her shield, but pulls back so that Aro can penetrate him (you're welcome). It happens, and Bella realizes (more or less) that Aro has seen her naked from every possible angle. And here's where it stops feeling even a little like Aro is a bad guy: Edward asks if Aro understands the sitch now, and he replies that he does: “I doubt whether any two among gods or mortals has ever seen quite so clearly.” He delights in the idea of Renesmee and asks to meet her. “What an addition to our histories!” he exclaims. And then he informs Caius that “the justice we intended to deliver no longer applies.” Well, okay then. Can we all go home and end this book now? No?

S. Meyer, always her own worst enemy, immediately starts trying to dig herself out of the hole she didn't even have to dig into in the first place. “This should have been good news,” Bella says. But she hears a “double meaning” in Aro's instruction for Caius to “ponder” what has happened. What could the double meaning be? Did he kind of do a headfake “L” sound so that it could have also been “plunder”? Bella brings RNSM forward, flanked by Jacob and Emmett. Felix and Demetri also come forward like this is the coin toss at the beginning of a football game. Then, inexplicably, Bella flirts with Felix for a few lines.

I smiled wryly at the mountainous vampire. “Hey, Felix.”
Felix chuckled. “You look good. Immortality suits you.”

Aro and the others pause for a second to appreciate how sexy Bella is, and then Bella removes her (wait for it!) mental shield from RNSM so she and Aro can chat. The shield “ripple[s] out behind [Bella] like a cape.” Again, good luck, Bill Condon. (The fact that we're not going to see how they handle this shit until November 2012 makes me not even want to see it. Move up your release date, Summit!)

Somewhere along the way, S. Meyer decides she doesn't even have to try and convince us anymore. If she wants Aro to be evil she can just change a club into a spade, and so that is what she does, right there in the middle of the page: Aro assures RNSM that he's not going to hurt her family, and Edward and Maggie (WHOEVER THAT IS?*) react “at the lie.”

(*Was Maggie introduced as a vampire who can tell when people are lying? I can't even remember. If so, she is literally in this book solely for that “hissing” above. And S. Meyer is the dumbest writer in America.)

It's almost as if S. Meyer realizes, at the end of this chapter, the mistake she has made by only telling and never showing w/r/t Aro's/The Volturi's evil. She she can't go further than this chapter if she doesn't make a course correction. And of course, going back and REVISING is out of the question—I am absolutely certain that she did not re-write so much as a single page of this book. So Aro just abruptly turns evil. He makes several earlier offers of peace and Edward does not react at all “at the lie." Then suddenly, the fifth or sixth consecutive olive branch is the one he doesn't really mean. I don't buy it at all, but again, we're supposed to take her word for it.

Chapter 37: Contrivances

Indeed! So I guess the football game analogy was apt, because at the start of this whole shebang the Cullens and the Volts gathered about a hundred yards apart. Then Edward et al met Aro in the middle. Now, instead of heading back Aro waves his team forward, moving the line of scrimmage so that everyone is only fifty yards apart. Bella and Edward retreat back to their huddle. Caius starts babbling some of the dumbest ancient-villain-speak I have ever heard, asking Aro how he can “abide this infamy” and that sort of crap. Shut up, Caius. But he's trying to call an audible (if I may extend my football metaphor as far as I can take it).

The Volturi become aware that the pitchfork-wielding mob they brought with them has stopped thirsting for violence and has instead started whispering confusedly amongst themselves. I feel your pain, guys. Bella flexes her shield into a dome and realizes that if any bad guy comes under her umbrella, it will go back to only protecting her—they'll be insider her magnetic field or whatever. Oh no! So she concentrates really hard, and, within that same page, manages to get her shield to wrap around each person, clinging to their forms like fabric. OK. WHY IS THIS EVEN IN HERE, THEN? S. Meyer introduces an imaginary problem and then solves it before it has any impact on the story; it's like she's trying to convince us how hard she thinks about this stuff. The problem is, she thinks really hard about the mechanics of Bella's magic shield but doesn't think really hard about what makes a satisfying dramatic arc. PRIORITIZE, LADY! Then Bella realizes that if she concentrates on shielding Jacob, all the other members of his pack are protected too. OH COOL WAIT I DON'T FUCKING CARE EVEN A LITTLE BIT. This is like, fucking page 700.

And then the same pattern of “inconsequential problem is brought up and then solved immediately” repeats. Caius starts complaining about the werewolves, saying that “the Children of the Moon” are vampires' sworn enemy and here the Cullens are cooperating with them. Edward points out that it is the middle of the day, and that Jacob and his ilk are not “Children of the Moon.”

Edward's jaw clenched and unclenched, then he answered evenly, “They aren't even werewolves. Aro can tell you all about it if you don't believe me.”


Sunday, June 19, 2011

WRITING BREAKING DAWN: Alice Cullen Paints A Fence

OK, for real: I want to start posting some of this shit on Twilighted. So check out the directory here, and tell me which stories you think should go over there. Let's see how long it takes me to get banned!

"Alice Cullen Paints A Fence"

“Alice Cullen what did I tell you?” Esme put her hands on her hips and stared down at her daughter.
Alice tossed aside a bloody limb and looked up innocently. “We were just having some fun,” she whined.
“Well, you might have had fun, but I don't think these people are enjoying themselves anymore.” Esme gestured sternly around at the blood and gore and bones in her daughter's bedroom.
“I made it real enjoyable for them for a while there.”
“I'm sure you did. But now you're going to be punished. Ain't no way around it.”
Alice sighed. “But Esme, punishment don't work on me!”
“I know, but you're just going to have to take your licks on this one. And I don't want to hear anymore moaning.”
“Usually when I take my licks there's a lot of moaning,” Alice said.
“You're gonna paint that there fence out back,” Esme said, pointing out the window. “It needs a new coat.”
Alice sighed and stood up. “Alright then.”
“Yes ma'am?”
“Put some clothes on.”
“Okay, ma'am.”

Alice Cullen approached her brother Emmett, who was watching a basketball game on the TV while holding a basketball in his lap.
“Emmett, how would like to do something really cool?”
“Well, based on your description I'd say I'd like it just fine,” he said with an easy grin.
“I think painting that fence out yonder would be a real good time,” she said. “I already got you the paint, a few brushes, this here smock.”
“A smock! Badass!” Emmett said, standing up. The basketball bounced across the floor as a realization dawned on him. “Wait a minute, are you fixing to trick me into doing your chores for you?”
Alice sighed, caught red-handed. “Yessir.”
“Well, what do I get in return?”
“I'll give you a...say, how's about a... blowjob?” Alice offered timidly.
“Sold!” Emmett said. He started for the backyard.
“I'm going to see about finding you a few assistants,” Alice said.

Bella Cullen lit a new cigarette with the end of her old one and picked up the newspaper again.
“Mommy!” Renesmee hollered from another room. “C'mere!”
“What is it, precious?” Bella sighed.
“Jacob did funny thing! Lemme show you!”
“Oh for fuck's sake honey, we've talked about this! You can show me LATER!” Bella snapped.
“You're losing your patience with her far too easily,” Edward said gently, from his position on the fainting couch nearby. He casually turned the page of his Bible.
“I've had about enough of your shit, too.” Bella mumbled.
“I heard that,” Edward said quietly.
Bella flashed him a murderous look and whispered, as low as she could, “I hate you.”
“Heard that, too,” Edward said woundedly.
“Knock the fuck knock!” Alice said from outside.
Bella was out the door with her arm hooked through Alice's, leading her away from her cottage, before Alice really knew what was happening.
“Tell me we're going to Vegas or something,” Bella said. “Please!”
“'Fraid not,” Alice replied. “Fact is, I need a favor.”
“Fuck, I'll do near anything to get out of that godforshitting cottage.”
“Well, I convinced Emmett to paint the back fence for me--”
“How'd you ever swing that?”
“I mighta promised a sexual favor or two,” Alice said, making a “jerking-off” hand gesture. Then she moved her still-gesturing hand toward her mouth and started pushing her tongue against one cheek. She continued with the miming act for a few seconds, cupping imaginary balls and finally spitting out of one corner of her mouth, wiping her chin, and grinning at Bella, who slow-clapped in response. “Anyway I was hoping you could perchance... lend a hand.”
“Fuck Emmett? Sure,” Bella said breathlessly, taking her hands from her hips and unconsciously pushing up her breasts.
“Well,” Alice said, stunned by this turn of events, “I'll let you fuck him IF you pitch in painting that there fence.” She pointed and smiled.
“Fair's fair,” Bella said. She set off in the direction of the backyard.

Alice shook her head and returned to her house and knocked on her sister Rosalie's door. She answered with narrowed eyes.
“How would you like to watch Emmett have sex with Bella?” Alice asked.
“What?” Rosalie said, appalled. “How dare you? Where do you get off?”
“On the bed, on the couch, in trees sometimes, underwater on occasion,” Alice replied.
Rosalie stood waiting, tapping one foot.
“C'mon, think about it,” Alice pleaded. “It will be fun! And the look on Edward's face when he reads Emmett's thoughts?”
A smile crossed Rosalie's lips. “Bella will actually let me watch? That would be...interesting, I guess.”
“If you'd be so kind as to help them paint the fence...” Alice suggested.
“In the backyard?”
“Yep, just the way Emmett likes it,” Alice winked.
“Yeah, well—hey, how do YOU know that?”
“I have my ways.” Alice nodded at a seemingly normal looking teddy bear on the dresser.
“Christ. Is there a CAMERA in there?”
“High definition.”
“That's fucking disgusting, Alice. I'm your kin.”
“It ain't disgusting at all. You've got a slamming body, girl.”
Rosalie grinned despite herself.

Alice danced down the staircase, triumphant. Her mother Esme was standing at the back window watching her siblings Bella, Emmett, and Rosalie paint the fence.
“I reckon I have to hand it to you,” Esme said. “You sure found your way around this punishment.”
“Or have I?” Alice asked, looking toward the living room.
“Alice!” Edward called. He pushed through the front door, livid. “You and I are about to have an abrupt conversation. I can hear Emmett and Rose: You have my wife planning to violate her sacred marriage bonds!”
Alice laughed. “You think she hasn't violated them before? Why do you think I am mentally reciting Greek poetry right now instead of thinking about the hike Bella and I went on two weeks ago?”
Edward gasped. “You have made me a cuckold! I challenge you to a duel!”
This time both Esme and Alice laughed. “Oh god, are you serious?” Alice asked when Edward didn't react. “Edward—I would, I mean, I would fucking OWN you. I would tear your ass apart.”
Esme nodded solemnly. “She would.”
Edward processed that for a moment. “You must stop her,” he said quietly.
“I most certainly shall not,” Alice said, putting her hands on her hips. “Bella is her own woman. But, I'll make it up to you.”
“How?” Edward asked.
“I'll give you a blowj--”
“No,” Edward stopped her.
Esme giggled and then put her hand over her mouth. She turned back to stare out the window, but when she saw what her children were getting up to in the field now, she had to avert her eyes. “Oh goodness. I'll be in my room,” she said.
“I will let you... drive my car!” Alice offered.
“I bought you that car,” Edward countered.
“With my money,” Alice noted.
“Still, no.”
They stood silently for a few minutes, Alice considering favors and then foreseeing Edward's denials. She sighed when she realized what she had to do. “Okay Edward. You got me. Two hours of Bible study.”
“Really!?” Edward could scarcely contain his joy.
“I'll be there with bells on. I'll even wear underwear this time.”
“This is going to be great!” Edward rejoiced.
And they all came happily ever after. Except Edward.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


When we last left our heroes we were back in the clearing, waiting for the fight to start. This clearing feels like it should be more thematically important than it is, right? The Cullens played baseball there in book 1, fought the newborns there in book 3, and now whatever this is is about to happen there. So what does the clearing like, represent? Does it have anything to do with the meadow where Edward and Bella used to hang out? Are these open nature-spaces related? What ever happened to that meadow? I suspect it's probably useless to ask these sort of broad, thematic, reader-guide-in-the-back-of-a-paperback questions about these books; they have no real answers because all the depth and shading is accidental. It's like S. Meyer tried to write Twilight in accordance with Dogme 95.

Bella decides to wear the big diamond that Aro gave her to the battle as a show of good faith. Fuck, if it turns out that diamond is some kind of super magic McGuffin I'm going to be pissed. Like if Aro sends a death spell at Bella and it reflects off the diamond and kills him? Hahaha. THE DIAMOND IS A HORCRUX! What would be shitty about that is if it happens, it won't be a total Deus Ex Machina. It will be an event that was (at least moderately) presaged earlier in the book.* We did hear about that necklace once, after all. If Bella's after car plays a role too, then, well, fuck, I don't know if I will be happy or not. That might be the only way I will be satisfied: If Bella's fucking after car runs over Jane and Alice gets out and takes off a racing helmet and Bella hops in the passenger seat and they drive off into the sunset.

(*Earlier in the book, not earlier in the series. Nothing was presaged in earlier books at all.)

Yeah, I've just had a horrible realization. The big drawback (I mean, drawback indicates there was a positive side to it all, and there wasn't, but whatever) to the messy accumulation of plot details in the second half of this book is that one of those details will probably be important. Something about J Jenks or Garrett or that guy Allastair or that vase Alice broke is going to be the key to resolution. That's like minimum-level effort, as a book writer, so of course, S. Meyer is going to do that. There is no way it could be anything well earned because, well, nothing has or could possibly be well earned from here. Peace will come in the form of a deus-ex-fiftypagesago. (Or, oh god, it will just be something from fucking nowhere.)

“If there's a gun on the wall in the first act, someone needs to shoot it ten pages later. Then in the third act, five new characters bring five new guns.”-S. Meyer

Chapter 36: Bloodlust

“They came with pageantry, with a kind of beauty,” Bella says. (“Yeah, I come like that too.”-Alice Cullen) They come “in a rigid, formal formation.” They float along “in perfect synchronicity from the trees.” They're a “dark, unbroken shape.” OK WE GET IT. This entrance goes on for another fucking page, and Bella counts 32 emotionless black shapes drifting toward them lazily.

“The redcoats are coming, the redcoats are coming,” Garrett muttered mysteriously to himself and then chuckled once. He slid one step closer to Kate.

What? Is this an American Revolution allegory now? When did THAT happen? Again: which one is King George, Garrett? Also: “muttered mysteriously”? Does Bella like, not get the reference? This is pretty basic US History, girl. (Does S. Meyer think that's an obscure reference? Hahahah.)

And then a whole bunch of other vampires come in. WHAA? The Volturi, it turns out, brought their own witnesses: an angry “horde” gathers at the edge of the clearing. Okay, fine. What's another fifty or sixty vampires? Fuck it! Let's bring in a million more! Bella realizes that this means there is no way to survive the fight and there's no way Jacob and Renesmee will be able to flee even if Demetri is killed. Uh, if you say so! I mean, I don't see why, seeing as how you didn't know how many Volturi were coming until ten seconds ago, but WHATEVER. ("Oh, there are fifty? I was expecting forty. We're fucked.")

What I am hearing is that there are two possible outcomes now: fighting (and losing and dying) OR avoiding a fight completely (and living). And neither outcome requires that whole J Jenks diversion we just endured. SO WHY DID IT HAPPEN? What the hell was all of that even for? I'm going to publish my own version of Breaking Dawn containing only the parts that have bearing on the plot. Even with all the explicit Alice and Jasper sex scenes added in, it will be 400 pages shorter.

Edward does a brain scan of the Volturi and confirms the widely held suspicion that the Volturi are on a “destroy and acquire” mission. Well, of course; no one ever guesses wrong. Then a bunch of new wolves come out of the woods. There are sixteen of them now. Sure, why not? Why not add A MILLION MORE? Nobody other than Bella even reacts. (S. Meyer is trying to build some kind of Tolkienian battle scene, so she thinks we care about like, number of troops and arms and shit, apparently. Hit point levels? Can we get some HP in here?) Bella realizes some of the wolves are very young, and are going to die, and is suddenly filled with a murderous rage. Everything turns red—she's hulking out!—and she actually smiles as she growls. So this is that moment from Book 3's preface, then. Is something badass going to happen? That certainly seemed like what was promised. But nope!

“Chagrin” gets used, quite appropriately, multiple times in this chapter—for the first time when Aro looks over the Cullen's group and doesn't see Alice there. Remember when I argued that Aro was a meta-textual twi-hard? We all wish Alice were here, Aro. Carlisle steps forward and greets him in a friendly fashion; Aro is like, “weird that you're being so friendly since you've raised Dumbledore's Army to kill me.” And Carlisle is like “just touch my hand and you'll know homie don't play that way.” And then Caius breaks in and S. Meyer gets as much dialog she can out of the notion that Renesmee is being mistaken for an immortal baby. This is basically how it goes:

“You have an immortal baby!” Caius said.
“Actually what we have is a--” Carlisle started.
“An evil killer infant imbued with eternal life!” Caius said.
“If you just hear me out you will understand that she--”
“Is an 8 pound 4 ounce cuddly ball of death!”

And so on. Actually it's dumber. Carlisle manages to get a full explanation out and Caius just says “Artifice!” and brings out Irina. Okay. Irina is all dazed like they pumped her full of valium, and when she can't focus Caius slaps her across the face.

It couldn't have hurt, but there was something terribly degrading about the action. It was like watching someone kick a dog.

I like how Bella empathizes and calls Irina a dog in the same breath. So I have been listening to How Did This Get Made? which is a great podcast hosted by Paul Scheer in which he and his panelists try to “make sense of the movies that make no sense” (Battlefield Earth, The Last Airbender, Fast Five, etc). One sticking point for them is movies set in the future in which characters still use modern English idioms. Why, in the year 3000, would someone say “Hey guys”? Similarly, why would the isolated, invulnerable Volturi use a slap in the face to show impatience? It's a small complaint, but just because we have so many huge, macro problems with the end of this book (so many, in fact, that I am having trouble keeping track of them all) doesn't mean the little problems aren't also everywhere, all the time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


If the battle for gay rights is the civil rights battle of our time, which I believe it is, it makes sense that X-Men would be re-invented for our era and our issues. Except you can't just totally swap out one political issue for another. Professor X is Martin Luther King and Magneto is Malcolm X, and the gay rights movement doesn't have an analog for either. So what X-Men: First Class does right where X-Men: The Last Stand went wrong is it finds the right places to insert the gay stuff (no homo) and leaves it out elsewhere. Magneto is still Malcolm X and Professor Xavier is still MLK, and the gay thing is another, added dimension. They're black in different ways, but gay in the same way. Does that make sense?

Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy totally CRUSH IT in this movie, don't they? I think they should get a joint best actor nomination. Seriously. They're a scene where Charles/Professor X (McAvoy) is helping Erik/Magneto (Fassbender) hone his power by accessing different portions of his memory, and that shit is straight-up MOVING. (Fassbender is like Prince or something in that he makes traditionally feminine stuff--like crying, even--seem super masculine. Dude is a one-man gay rights movement, big ups Fassbender!) Earlier, McAvoy goes full season 1 Don Draper on a lady by giving her a speech about evolution that is really about boning, and then a few scenes later goes full season 4 Don Draper, drunkenly mangling the same speech. It's perfect. There's also a scene where Erik/Magneto fucks some German expats up in an Argentinian bar (it eerily recalls a similar and similarly great scene featuring Fassbender in Inglourious Basterds) that is just TOPS, okay? I could watch it forever.

If you haven't seen this movie you really should. I think it might be my favorite movie of the year so far? It is definitely my favorite X-Men movie ever. The only other contender at the top is Bridesmaids. This is Rose Byrne's year, huh? By the way: am I the only person who thinks Rose Byrne is more attractive than January Jones? ("Everyone's a Jackie or a Marilyn"-Peggy Olson. Shut up, Peggy.)

There was one political moment that seemed over the top. Kevin Bacon's villain character mentions the future he foresees for mutants: harassment, hatred, slavery, etc. But when he says "slavery" we cut to a reaction shot from Darwin, played by black actor Edi Gathegi (Laurent in Twilight & New Moon). Really? REALLY!? There's also one CGI shot that seemed like it wasn't ready for primetime: a shot of a boat in water that looked straight out of Titanic II (Maybe it was rushed? I feel like I was just reading about this movie being cast; apparently Matthew Vaughn works quickly. And that goes double if he knocked up January Jones HEYOOOO). There's also a few words that January Jones can't seem to say convincingly, primarily "sugar" and "honey." I'd love to hear her do that old Archies tune. But anyway those are my only complaints. (The rest of the political jokes are spot-on, including one involving Oliver Platt and Nicholas Hoult that is way too great for me to give away.) This movie is good!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

MTV Movie Awards Videos

Here's a video from Jon Paula which is a rather definitive account of the MTV Red Carpet, Movie Awards, and afterparty (I, unlike Jon, had no trouble recognizing dozens of celebrities on the carpet, though! Twi-hards, we go hard) from our perspective. The actual red carpet interview reel is being prepped by Ryan and will be available shortly. Meanwhile I have been posting my vlogs from the trip, which were filmed with an iPod and are therefore much less pretty than Jon's videos. HOWEVER, they do have lots of Kira and Christi and Ryan in them, and they're pretty! My videos plus Jon's other two, which are also great, are after the jump. Click the YouTube icon to go to the main page and watch them in HD, if you please.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

BLOGGING BREAKING DAWN, pt. 41: Finish Your Collapse And Stay For Breakfast

S. Meyer has always maintained that the idea for Twilight came to her in a dream, which is a line I have never really bought. Sure, it makes for a punchy soundbite in interviews, but you don't write a whole fantasy series based on one stupid dream you had. Or do you? Lately, the way we've been following Bella through meaningless, disconnected task after meaningless, disconnected task—and the way the cause of this vampire alliance has become increasingly vague with every new detail—has made me finally come around. Yes, this is like reading someone's boring dream; you constantly forget where you came from, and nowhere you're going makes any sense. But then it was like maybe my special power wasn't going to stop the bad people, and anyway I had to go and get the documents from the weird lawyer, and then we were in this field and it was snowing... And of course, the worst elements of the dreamer's subconscious always break in: my nightmares always involve home invasion and head trauma, S. Meyer's books are about child molestation and domestic violence. Go figure.

Anyway, maybe we'll revisit the “dream theory” of Twilight when we finish up—an end point that is rapidly approaching!

Chapter 35: Deadline

Bella's slipping out of the house one evening, and Edward tries to casually let her go. She can tell he is suspicious but also probably realizes his wife has a good reason to keep her thoughts from him. Or she's cheating on you, Edward. In the car, Bella watches the falling snow and tells us that they estimate the Volturi will arrive in two days. There are still almost a hundred pages left, though! God, please tell me we're going to get to this fight sooner rather than later. OR, oh man, what if the book ended right before the Volturi showed up? I might have to respect that, in a begrudging way.

Bella wonders why Alice made her go to J Jenks' shady office instead of his legit one in the first place—I guess this is in case we were wondering the same thing—and concludes that the sketchier surroundings were supposed to be a part of Bella's clue. “I'd had to go the route that made it clear I was up to no good.” It's like S. Meyer is asking us to pat her on the back.

“The weed is better in that neighborhood, that's the only reason I sent you there.”-Alice Cullen

She arrives at a restaurant and is taken to a private room. The maitre d' gasps when he helps Bella out of her coat and reveals her “oyster satin cocktail dress.” Is that a good or bad gasp? J Jenks shows up and mentions what a pleasure it is working with Bella over Jasper—that it's less “unsettling.” (He also indicates that he has worked with Jasper for many years and thus understands he doesn't age.) Oh no, is J Jenks black? Is that why confederate officer Jasper Whitlock treats him like garbage? I'm happy that Wendell Pierce is in Breaking Dawn, but if he's fucking J Jenks—if the only three black characters in the film series are the evil vampire, the guy who crashes his car into Bella and the criminal ID forger—well, then Wyck Godfrey is going to hell.

So here's where the J Jenks thing doesn't make any sense at all. Last time, when Bella met with him, he looked at the picture of Renesmee and told Bella her daughter looked at lot like her. Bella mentioned the father, and J Jenks rightly pointed out that Jacob, the man in the picture, was not him. Before that, he mistook Bella for Jasper's wife and she corrected him. This time, he begs Bella to stay for a moment and chat, and proceeds to say that over the years, he has “developed a very healthy level of respect for Mr. Jasper and the entire family.” Okay, well, it didn't really seem like last time he had ANY SENSE of the entire family AT ALL. And then this happens:

“If you could just assure me that you are not planning to kidnap the little girl from her father, I would sleep better tonight.”

What? Who does J Jenks think is the father? What? Either this sentence is supposed to mean that J Jenks, knowing the Cullens are a bunch of criminals, are now in the baby-stealing business, or it's supposed to be some kind of ironic final Edward/Jacob/Bella joke, wherein Jenks is mistaken that Jacob and Bella are planning to run off on Edward. But neither explanation makes any sense or is at all clear. It's crazy how this book has transitioned from being stupid and evil to instead being boring and nonsensical. Is this S. Meyer's way of getting revenge on us for complaining before?

“You guys thought THAT was bad, well, get a load of THIS!”-S. Meyer

Bella comes home and finds Kate (who?) and Garrett (who?) arguing about the nutritional value of animal blood. Oh ha ha I DON'T GIVE A FUCK I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THESE FUCKING PEOPLE ARE SHUT UP S. MEYER. She goes upstairs.

I could smell that I was the first one to enter Alice and Jasper's room in a long while, maybe the first since the night they'd left us.

It's just old lube and stale weed in there. Bella finds a small bag that once belonged to Alice and puts the IDs and some loose cash in there, planning to strap it to RNSM before the fight. Wait, it's a bag that used to belong to Alice? CHECK IT THOROUGHLY.

“Wow, your mom left us two hundred grand, fake IDs, and... is this a crack pipe or a dildo or both?”-Jacob

Bella realizes that (I have to take a deep breath every time I start trying to summarize this shit) if Alice saw Jacob and RNSM getting away, that means Demetri will die before the Cullens go down in the battle, which also means Alice and Jasper will be safe from tracking and could hook up with Jacob and RNSM down the line. I love me some Alice & Jasper, but those two are not fit to take care of Jacob and RNSM. They're too permissive!

“Love is love, baby!”-Alice Cullen
“Except inter-racial marriages.”-Jasper Whitlock
“Hey, Bella left some of my condoms in here! Double-bag it, Jake. Even Nessie's venom will do a number on latex.”-Alice Cullen

In an effort to help Alice find RNSM in future, Bella thinks really hard while she writes “Rio De Janeiro” on a slip of paper and puts it in the bag. GUHHHHHHH. Also what's the age of consent in Brazil?

I crossed my fingers that—since it was unlikely that his high school offered Portuguese—Jake had at least taken Spanish as his language elective.

First of all, that's a pretty racist assumption. “No way that poor Injun school offered diverse language courses.” Second of all, Bella, sorry, but Jacob's Spanish notebook is full of sketches of you giving him head.

Bella tells us that Carlisle and Edward wait for two days in a clearing for Godot—I mean Aro—to arrive. She and Edward don't have a “last grand scene of farewell.” “Nor did I plan one,” she says.

To speak the word was to make it final. It would be the same as typing the words The End on the last page of a manuscript.

Place your bets now: will this book end with “The End”?

Monday, June 6, 2011

The MTV Movie Awards Open Thread

So! The MTV Movie Awards were last night, and Eclipse won basically everything, right? Did you guys watch? I did, though I almost got locked out because we were stuck in the press section. I hopped the barricade and went in through the front. With the celebrities!

I was sure that an awards show would be sort of uninteresting from the inside, what with the commercial breaks and everything else, but it wasn't! It was a very quick, efficient show! A very quick, efficient Twilight-awards-distribution machine!

Robert Pattinson was very strange. Kristen Stewart was awkward in an occasionally charming way. Taylor Lautner was smooth and gracious as always. Dude is a very efficient smoothness and graciousness machine.

And of course the big thing was the Breaking Dawn trailer. It was fine! They definitely brought a little more to the table than Harry Potter and Super 8, I mean, their exclusive clips were just re-cut trailers, no? Here is a link if you missed it (at least I think it is, hotel internet is too slow to make sure). WHAT DID YOU THINK? WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT IT!

Oh and then Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner kissed. Kinky! And then Robert Pattinson botched a joke about fucking Reese Witherspoon. Also kinky!

Other stuff: I thought Jason Sudeikis was funny! And Reese Witherspoon dissed Blake Lively HARD. YA BURNT BLAKE LIVELY. I will write more later, obviously I have lots to tell you, but let's forget me for a second and get some perspective; I have no sense of how the world reacted to the show. My guess is sort of indifferently? Like, people who hate Twilight must REALLY hate these awards. But forget those people, what do WE think?

Friday, June 3, 2011

This Is Happening

[Photo credits: Christy Little, Zac Little, Ryan Lewis]

This Is The Weirdest Thing Ever

So I'm about to leave for a plane to LA and the MTV Movie Awards. For real. Follow me on Twitter for up-to-the-minute stuff, but I'll try to keep you posted here, too. Here's a video of Ashley Greene and Kellan Lutz leaving The Roosevelt on Thursday, where I will be Saturday night. DAMMIT! SO CLOSE! I will wring your heart yet!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

WRITING BREAKING DAWN: Alice Cullen's Christmas Vacation

Alice Cullen sat up with a start on the sixth floor of one of the high rises and immediately made sure her clothes were still on, and intact.
“You don't think I an honest man?” Scratch said wryly. “Think I'm gonna tap that without your express permission?”
“Oh, not you. And it's not really that,” she said softly. “I was just making sure I didn't drool on this top or anything. It's one of my favorites. When I left home I didn't have a lot of time to pack."
“When the heat come it come fast,” Scratch observed.
Alice Cullen nodded solemnly and rolled her shirt sleeve back down.
“What I tell you though?” Scratch said, putting his needle back into a worn brown leather case. “Good package this time 'round.”
“True dat,” Alice said.
They were quiet for a minute, listening to the music blaring in the courtyard below.
“What you runnin' from these days, Alice? Is this for real or--” Scratch was used to his friend showing up at all hours with crazy claims like aliens were following her or some shit. He didn't mind, she brought money and pussy and didn't ask much in return but for some conversation. And Scratch liked to converse almost as much as he liked those other things.
“This is for real,” she said. “There's this vampire imperial guard, basically, called the Volturi. And they're gunning for my family; they're all going to get killed in a few days. These evil dudes are bringing their wives out of their fortress and everything, and while my family has formed an alliance with many nomads, it's unclear if that will stop the Volturi, or if my sister Bella's shield powers will be helpful or harmful.”
Scratch scratched his head. “Bitch, you are so high.”
Alice giggled. “Wanna fuck?” she asked in a low voice, letting the k sound really click.
“Sure, baby.” Scratch unbuckled the belt from his arm.
“Keep that nearby,” Alice said.

Two hours later, Alice strode through the courtyard toward the orange couch where Bodie, well, where Bodie held court.
“What's good, Bodie?” Alice squinted up at him.
“You know,” he said, hopping down from his perch on the back of the couch. “Micromanaging as usual. Boss man came through 'bout an hour ago, none of the little hoppers at they post, so boss man chewed me out. Now I'm all up in it.”
“I told you you were fine. I see no 5-0 around here for the rest of the day.”
“Well, he doesn't know you,” Bodie said. “So he ain't taking your word for it.”
“Well then I guess I won't tell him about what's going to happen to him in two weeks,” Alice said coyly.
“Whoa whoa whoa. What's going to happen?” Bodie asked, concerned.
“What, you're not ready to move up the ladder one rung?” She took out some lipstick and applied it gracefully. “Make room at the top! Hey, where can a girl get a soft pack around here? Menthols?”
“Alice, don't fuck with me.”
“Nothing's going to happen, I was kidding. His boo is pregnant, that's all.”
“Which one?”
“He's got more than one? Oh you n—”
“Hey!” Bodie interjected.
“I was going to say 'Oh you naughty young men.”
“Sure you were, white lady.”
“For fuck's sake, I'm blacker than you, Bodie.”
“You street as fuck, I'll give you that. Sticking around for a while?”
Alice shrugged. “I was thinking about catching a movie.”
“Where your man? Mr. Jasper? I know he doesn't like coming around here. He racist.”
“Yeah,” Alice sighed. “But you should see his dick.”
“Rather not,” Bodie spat.
“Anyway he's in our hotel room. Chained to the radiator.”
“What? Why!?”
“Sheeeeeeeit. For fun, Bodie!”
“How long he been there?”
“About...three days now,” Alice said. “Since he gave me my Christmas present.”
“What he give you? You're not the kinda girl needs diamonds and all that, are you?”
“Oh, I most certainly am. But no, he gave me an... unconventional gift.”
“I'm waiting.”
“I want to tread lightly here, because I know this is a sensitive issue with y'all big tough gangsters,” she said. “Let's just say he ate mad pussy.”
Bodie snorted. “That's a Christmas gift for you guys? If so I feel bad for you."
“Well, it sort of was by accident. Because it turned out Christmas had come and gone while he was doing it.”
“Damn,” Bodie said. “Well, homeboy must not have done a good job if you locked him up afterwards.”
“Oh no, this is his reward.”
Bodie laughed. “I will never understand white folks.”
"Most of us don't understand ourselves," Alice replied, making a jerking off hand motion for some reason.
"That's some wise shit, Alice."
But her eyes were suddenly far away.
"Alice, whoa, you okay? You shoot some bad shit? Alice?" Bodie shook her a few times.
"Bodie, your boss just made a decision," she said, her face grave. Then she broke into a big smile. "You're getting points on the package!"
"No way. Bitch, are you kidding me?"
"He only pretended to be mad about the hoppers. Really, he's impressed with the operation you've got running here!" Alice danced with joy around Bodie.
"You sure about this?"
"One hundred percent. Within the week."
"I'm gonna buy you something big and shiny, Alice."
"Hit on someone your own size," she said, punching his shoulder.
"You sure you don't want to work for me? Be my lieutenant?" Bodie grinned.
Alice sighed. "I promised Jasper we'd see Gettysburg next."
"Is that in the suburbs or something?" Bodie asked.
"It's the site of a famous--yeah, basically," she said. "Speaking of which I am going to need a lot of heroin for the road."
"Good news," Bodie said. "It's in stock!"