An Almost Made Up Poem

American Vampire Makes Readers Remember When Vamps Were Scary
May 22, 2012, 5:26 am
Filed under: Book Review, Uncategorized | Tags:

Skinner Sweet does not sparkle and definitely does not want to play nice. In the comic series “American Vampire”, creator and writer Scott Snyder collaborates with Stephen King to develop the first 5 issues of this chilling vampire story– about the devilish first American Vampire, Skinner Sweet. Sweet is unlike any modern vampire protagonist. He is not misunderstood, heartbroken, or even remotely nice in his human life. Sweet was always a monster, a renegade, and most of all a depraved son a of a bitch. He was a murderer, a pretty seasoned bad guy with a gun and taste for senseless killing.

The first 5 issues center around two stories. The first is Skinner’s origin story which is set in the Wild West era. Skinner is a gun-touting outlaw that pisses off the wrong people and ends up being turned into a vampire, the first American vamp. This curse turns this awfully cruel human into an almost invincible badass. Sweet’s type of vampire is different, evolved, and ready to take revenge on all the people who made him transform. Somehow, I found myself liking Sweet, with his pompous attitude and ruthless behavior. He was, after all, exactly what a vampire is meant to be: utterly frightening. The second story is that of a 1920’s starlet, Pearl Jones, who is trying to make it in Hollywood. Her dreams are shattered when she experiences the ugly side of show biz, full of blood-sucking vampires, and I don’t mean talent agents. Pearl and Sweet share a common enemy and unique powers. Skinner Sweet seems to be immediately drawn to her and her spunk. Their bond seems to be one that will be revisited and might serve as a  means to deeper insight into Sweet’s psyche.

After watching “Twilight” (don’t judge me there was nothing on and I was sick and those vampires and werewolves look dreamy after lots of Vicodin) and “True Blood” ( and yes, I know they are books too, but no, I did not read them), I realized the modern vampire has become a satire piece or subject matter for Tween porn. After reading “American Vampire”, I am reminded of what a vampire was initially…the gore, the darkness, and the evil– these elements were made to be frightening not sexy. Much how “Interview with a Vampire” reveals how humanity can still live in such a terrifying creature, “American Vampire” shows the audience another perspective to this classic story of the vampire. Perhaps we are the real monsters, monstrosities only restricted by our moral constructs. More specifically, “American Vampire” challenges the reader to see the ugly in Americans and relish in the awful of it all. Rather than turning away from the bad and the ugly, or encouraging the reader to better themselves before they turn into metaphorical vampires, “American Vampire” let’s the reader feel completely comfortable with loving the hedonistic, bloodsucker Skinner Sweet. After all, he’s as American as you and me.



Reaper Fever: Why I’m Obsessed with Mass Effect
May 12, 2012, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized, Video Games | Tags: , ,


I use to really be into video games, being a Nintendo gal myself. I loved all things Zelda and Mario until I was about 21.  I stopped playing video games once I started Grad school, because well, I would have never graduated otherwise.  Once I moved to Oakland, got a full time job, and settled in my “adult life” (snooze). I started seeing how video games had evolved.  What started a pixelated plummer chasing after a pink princess turn into full-fledged epic games with awing graphics.  I know that games like Zelda and Final Fantasy had all those story elements in place, and they pioneered the RPG type play. However, I completely missed when video games began looking like movies while I was on hiatus from playing.

I began feeling I was missing  out on something, so I started playing once again. Diving deeper and deeper into obsession as I played Dragon Age and its less superior sequel, I found that my love of video games had been reignited. However, nothing would compare me for how epic Mass Effect was as a game and story.

As an avid reader and self-proclaimed snob (at times; part time really), I really didn’t understand how close a video game could come to duplicating that wonderful feeling of enthrallment I experience from reading a book, waiting for its characters to develop, watching the story change. That was until Mass Effect. I really loved Dragon Age with all its medieval geekery: mages, rogues, warriors, fighting in the classical battle of good versus evil. However, Mass Effect was the first video game that drew me in like a well-written novel.

Mass Effect’s story is basic and rather simply executed. You are in a future where aliens and humans coexist throughout the Milky Way; you’re Lieutenant Sheppard of the Normandy, who’s mission is to stop the Reapers ( inorganic life forms that ruins all organic life it chooses to destroy). Save the earth: easy enough objective. The plot has been done a million times, but this time it is done in an video game that looks like a work of art and stars a cast of characters that are as inviting as any Oscar Wilde character. You follow this story throughout 3 games. This game does not go on and on like Zelda. There are no more princesses to save at the end of the 3rd game. Instead, there’s a  definite conclusion (which is completely up to you).

You are completely part of this journey.It certainly sucked me in like a good novel. And like a good novel, short story, or novella, whenever you try to summarize it to someone it never sounds as good as when you let them read it for themselves. The simplistic and formulaic plot does not do justice to how you feel as a player. I can tell you “The Metamorphosis” is about a guy who turns into a bug or “The Stranger” is about a guy who kills someone, but that wouldn’t tell you what those stories are really about. The same goes for the Mass Effect trilogy; there are layers of political and social issues that arise as you play, adding to your experience and making you face tough moral and political issues that don’t just apply to this galactic imaginary world.

I loved the trilogy’s ending. I know there’s been a lot of hoopla about the ending of the Mass Effect trilogy, but honestly, after reading so many novels, I never expect happy endings nor do I need them. I crave the story. Mass Effect delivers a story that fulfills my intellectual needs while letting me shoot things. How much more awesome can that get?!  So, let me get back to saving the world and later, I’ll read some Murakami. Maybe I’ll get an idea for another RPG about a very intricate, complicated character and his adventures exploring his adult life.