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Know Your Vampire Show

vamps

Pop culture became saturated with vampires, say, around when the Twilight movies started filtering in. So, it was only a matter of time before the vampire craze would reach television.

Two shows popped up around the same time: True Blood and The Vampire Diaries. Both are filled with good, old fashioned, cheesy vampire drama.

If fact, both shows are quite similar, though the main difference is probably that The Vampire Diaries airs on the CW, a network that is home to mostly teenage dramas, and the other, True Blood, airs on HBO. So, sex and stuff.

Both shows center on a female protagonist who falls in love with a vampire right off the bat. Both shows feature another vampire lurking in the shadows, waiting to jump all over that female the minute her love wains for the first vampire dude. Both shows feature the female protagonist’s troublesome brother. Both sets of siblings are orphans.

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For those needing a psychedelic, constellational battle of the heavens set to William Shatner’s cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” here’s your fix.

Happy Birthday, Freddie.

Food for Thought

Wendy MacNaughton at the New York Times recently explored what famous writers relied on, food-wise, for creativity.

Favorite Snacks of Great Writers

Illustration by Wendy MacNaughton

I like drip coffee and cranberry bagels. What food fuels your creativity?

Let me tell you a story…

audiobooksI spend a lot of time in my car – about 8 to 10 hours a week, sometimes more, depending on my schedule. I also spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to occupy myself during those hours.

Lately, I’ve turned to audiobooks. Ideally, it would be a great way to spend that time. So far, though, it’s been a little hit-or-miss. There’s an extra factor involved for me to invest time in an audiobook. Not only does the story need to be compelling, but so does the person who reads it.

I’ve listened to some great audiobooks. Bossypants, read by Tina Fey. The entire Harry Potter series, read by Jim Dale (who holds the Guiness Book record for most recorded character voices in a single audiobook: 146). Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, read by Stephen Fry.

I’ve also listened to some not so great books – several with teenage narrators whose readers drone on and on in nasally, quasi-adolescent voices. Stuffy british accents. Men trying too hard to speak like women. Women trying too hard to speak like men.

This is all to say:

I’ve got two Audible credits to use, with no idea how to spend them, so I need recommendations from you, my fellow barkers. What have you listened to and liked?

Willing Suspension of Disbelief

My boyfriend came home one night a couple weeks ago and described to me a t.v. show he had watched while he was at a friend’s house:

“It’s got that guy from Lord of the Rings and he hangs out with this dog, who is a regular dog to everyone else, but to what’s-his-face, it’s a Australian guy in a dog suit.”

That’s basically the conceit of the show Wilfred.

It’s based on a series of the same name from Australia, and it stars Elijah Wood as Ryan, who, in the first episode, is trying to commit suicide by downing a bottle of pills. While he waits for the pills to kick in, he meets his neighbor and her dog, Wilfred. Ryan thinks the pills are making him hallucinate, because Wilfred is a guy in a dog suit who smokes, drinks, and talks, but when he finds out that the pills are fake (his overbearing doctor sister gives him sugar pills so he won’t abuse them), he seems to let the issue drop.

Wilfred is protective of his owner, Jenna, and manipulative towards Ryan, but he forges a friendship/mentorship with him anyway.

As I watch this show, I’m constantly reminding myself of why I shouldn’t buy in to it all. It’s a man in a dog suit, after all, doing all the things a normal dog would do, plus various other more human vices. And I wonder why Ryan, after finding out the pills aren’t making him hallucinate, doesn’t pursue this issue further.

But then I just watch, because the strength and complexity of the characters is too much, and the show is really, really funny.

It’s the same in television, movies and fiction: readers/viewers are more likely to buy in to your gimmick if you’ve got the strength of character, emotion and story to back it up.

Rocking the Poetry Vote

I got an email last week from Rattle, reminding me to submit to their 2011 poetry prize.

It was different, though, than the usual contest reminders I receive. The contest is different than the usual contests I see:

…here’s the news: We’ve increased the number of paid finalists from ten to fifteen poets — each receiving $100 and publication in our winter issue. As the competition expands, more people deserve to be paid; that just makes sense.

Not only that, but for the first time this year YOU get to vote for the $5,000 winner. After selecting 15 finalists in our usual blind review, we’ll publish those poems in our winter issue, and include a ballot in the back. The winner will then be chosen by popular vote among all entrants and eligible subscribers.

Logging all those votes is going to be a massive undertaking. Are we nuts? Have we been watching too much American Idol? No…we just have faith in the ability of our readers to make the best choice possible. At Rattle we’ve always felt that everyone should have an equal say in what poetry is and what it should do, and the idea of one or three authoritarian editors judging which poem out of 8,000 deserves a huge prize doesn’t quite feel right.

So my question is: are they, in fact, nuts?

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Now Steaming

In my house, we rely on Netflix for a majority of our television entertainment. I love when I can find a title in the slew of tv and movie choices that has an unusual or unique story or storytelling style. Here are a few examples of what I’ve found recently:

“Babies”

There really isn’t anything more entertaining than babies. These film makers got it right when they left off the normal documentary-style voice overs and interviews. Maybe it’s just me (a 20-something female whose baby alarm has been ringing for the last couple years), but this is just an awesome documentary.

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You win this one, Trebek.

My favorite TV show is Jeopardy. When 7 p.m. rolls around, if the television is on, it gets turned just in time for the theme music to kick in, the contestants to be introduced and the categories to be revealed.

One of my greatest ambitions is to be on Jeopardy (big dreams, I know). I do the online test every year, and even though I’m pretty sure I get no more than 25 percent of the questions right (that test is hard), I still hope to one day stand behind the contestant podium and tell Alex Trebek my best anecdote.

But there’s one problem – in all my Jeopardy dream scenarios, I get stuck on the anecdote part. What would my interesting story be? Could I make it up? Would Alex Trebek know if I was lying?

NPR’s All Things Considered recently did a story on the anecdote development process, which made me feel a little better, for when, you know, I get to be on the show.

So, here’s your challenge: You’ve got 30 seconds. What interesting anecdote would you tell Alex Trebek?

Look Ma, I’m showing, not telling.

When I was about 12 or 13, I took a tape recorder I used to tape songs on the radio and decided to make my own recording. I had just learned what vibrato was, and wanted to practice it by singing a Backstreet Boys song. After re-recording my breathy rendition of “I Want it That Way” over and over, I finally got bored with it, and moved on to some other pursuit.

A while later, my dad found the recorder and listened to the tape. He played it for my sister and I, and said, “Who is this singing? It’s very good.”

Obviously, he knew who it was. My sister and I don’t sound anything alike, and I’m sure my face was a hot, beat red as I listened to my own voice played back to me.

But there was no way in hell I was going to admit that the singer was me. No. Way. In. Hell.
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