Friday, October 22, 2010

Vampires. No Twilight, I Promise.

More station identification time. I don't like the way the Theory Of Justice entries are coming out, so I'm moving them to Monday, to give myself the weekend to chew over the text. Non-Theory of 2666 updates will be Wednesday and Friday. Also: I will be galavanting around Europe come the middle of November so there will hopefully be at least one guest post.

My (incomplete) history of vampires is as follows.

the Count
Count Chocula
Interview with the Vampire.
Blade 3
Vampire: the Masquerade
Vampire State
BPRD 1947

I think of vampires as frightening beings that paralyze. The fact that they could blend in with people and could in fact, be those people is terrifying to me. They could turn on you at a moment's notice and change your life completely. They're terrifying because of their capacity to lurk and seduce. Maybe it's different for other people. Or, maybe that's what makes them really cool for other people.

But after re-reading BPRD 1947 for maybe the twentieth time (it's the only collected edition I have in this country) I realize my history with vampires is a little longer than I recollect offhand.

Like many American children, my introduction to vampires was Sesame Street's Count, a vampiric hand puppet that taught counting. (It made sense at the time. I can't explain it now using logic. There was a vaguely Eastern European accent.) He was nice. He was far less sinister and and far more silly. Chapelle's Show reinterpreted the Count as a pimp, which, (god damn it, why can't I find it on youtube?) makes significantly more sense and is easier to explain using logic.

The next one that I can put a name to is Count Chocula. He wasn't sinister at all, but instead laughable. Okay, I'll take that back. He was probably sinister to my teeth. Aside from that? Nah.

Interview with the Vampire. I read it. I don't remember much of it except being scared by it. I remember it being a page turner and that these beings were hundreds of years old with more history and labyrinthine motivations than anyone could understand who wasn't marked for death. It was my first taste of the real thing. I remember this one being real good.

Blade Trinity was the only Blade movie that appealed to me, mostly because I was a teenager a time when a movie designed to appeal to a teenager would appeal to me. My point: Who wouldn't want to be an untouchable badass firing kill shots at evil creatures with a kickin' soundtrack? (Embarrassing emphasis added.)

The torture scene (NSFW, 2is minutes in) was surprisingly effective for a PG-13 movie and not just because the Green Lantern Deadpool Ryan Renolds was shirtless. It was a scene that was baudy and scornful. It contained the ubiquitous ultimate ante, an innocent white girl, but played with a cunning twist: The girl wouldn't be murdered, but instead, Ryan Renolds' character (a former vampire) would be turned again and starved for blood so bad that the girl would be thrown in for his cell and he would feed on her.

Yeah, the ante being we're gonna make you kill a girl while you in theory have some self-control is hard to call. (I think she was five years old. I don't remember why.)

Dublin, I heard that Bram Stoker based his visions for vampires on the people that all had some disease that made them sickly and pale. That's really it. I don't remember the name of the disease, even. Other things happened.

Vampire: the Masquerade is a much longer story, which intersects with the continuity at different points. I'll hit the high notes. Senior year in college, being an outsider to a group that really caught the blood sucking bug.

The best moment, though, was being at Gen Con 2009 and having a discussion with a person twice as old as I was about whether vampires would move if they didn't agree with the way a particular community was run, in a mobile home that was re-converted for a local blood drive in the convention center.

(Our doctors knew we were crazy. I didn't care. I ate their sugar and drank their orange juice. Suckers.)

I thought yes, he thought no. We didn't get much further than that. Looking back on it from a gameplay perspective, it would probably mess with the mechanics of the game if vampiric citizens just left a city without starting a crazy violent feud. The game wouldn't be exciting without conflict and the easy way to fuel that conflict is to give vampires a limited number of safe spaces to be in and make those safe spaces constantly up for grabs.

Hell: Why couldn't vampires move? It would make life easier for the citizens. I forget what his counter argument was, but I distinctly remember the feeling of embarrassment and pride of being brazenly obtuse and nerdy in front of people who weren't in on it.

Next in line, and almost recently, the third and final arc of Captain Britain and the MI:13, Vampire State. There's so much to say, but I'll just say for the story, Dracula's back and he's undone by his own arrogance. As for images, I'll tease this: vampire ICBMs fired from the moon. Paul Cornell's writing keeps it all running at a speed that says drive it like it's stolen, while Leonard Kirk's art plays it straight, drawing the figures in a traditional comic book style no matter how ridiculous the posture.

Finally, BPRD 1947. Vampires and the supernatural are omnipresent and terrifying threats in the Hellboy universe. There's an apocalypse that always barreling down on the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Development in the present day, but as the title suggests, this is set in the immediate post-WWII European environment. Turns out a vampire has been killing Nazis out in the open, and the newly formed operation is dispatched to kill the vampire.

The vampire dies via having his throat slit, with the killer saying the only thing that could undo his fellow vampires is hubris.

But there's one part of the vampires that makes sense to me and that is their taking the long view on just about everything. They will live longer than us, know exactly how to attract us and how to romance us. (Yes, especially that way.) But there's always a distance between themselves and the human bodies, the knowledge that we will burst, bloom and wither and die all in the time it takes a clan to set up a city.

It's...a cagey reminder, at least for me, of my place, the limits of my affectations but also that I am going to die and I do not know when. Yes, tomorrow isn't promised, but as Life Long Tragedy would say, it's sure as fuck coming. I should get to work on that tomorrow, then.

See you there.

I've managed to avoid Phoenix. Apparently they're huge. Never heard them, don't care. But! I do like Daft Punk, and when they show up at a Phoenix gig in Madison Square Garden., I pay attention. (Perhaps Madison Square Garden is a bit big for a gig, but that's an objection based on vocabulary choice.) I have a history with Daft Punk and writing, so here's a tip of the cap to that history. Plus, watch the drummer around 5 minutes in. He is fucking stoked to playing with Daft Punk and it shows.

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