Monday, May 13, 2013

Cerulean Sins--chapter 53-54

So we watched Cloud Atlas for the first time today. All I can say is mind=BLOWN. OH MY GOD WAS THAT A GOOD MOVIE. Non-linear storytelling FTW.  The music. The special effects (With the exception of the Somni senario's AWFUL makeup) the locations. THE FACT THAT THEY MADE ALL FIVE STORIES INTERESTING.

However, I did find the one discussion point re: the actors in "yellowface". IDK how big a deal this is. On the one hand, they...did not strike me as believably asian. I do not think anybody sane could put Keith David and Hugo Weaving in prosthetics and expect us to buy them as ethnic Koreans. Given that both Halle Berry and Doona Bae appeared in "whiteface" in senarios where people of their ethnicity wouldn't fit the narrative (Given that Vyvyan Ayrs was intended to be a flaming asshole, it wouldn't fit for him to have married a black woman, and the same stands true for the Pre-Civil-War era senario. A narrative about a white man realizing that he's a predujiced asshole loses a lot of power if it's revealed he's marred to an asian woman.) (ALSO: HUGO WEAVING IN DRAG. I HAD TO POINT THIS OUT. THEY CAST LORD ELROND AS THE SOCIOPATHIC NURSE) it seemed less an effort to whitewash people of ethnicity and more an effort to provide a rounding of the narrative.

THAT SAID: It's problematic to use white people to play asian roles. It's not okay to stick white people in roles intended for people of another ethnicity. They could have likely made more of an effort to cast ethnic people in the ethnic roles.

Second THAT SAID: They used the same prosthetics for every actor in the Korean scenario who was not Korean. This includes Keith David. Who is a black man.  And if those prosthetics were intende to convince you that these actors were ethnically asian, those prosthetics were fucking horrible. Hugo Weaving did not look asian. Hugo Weaving did not look human. Hugo Weaving looked, if anything, like Jocelyn Wildenstein after another round of reconstructive surgery.

I guess (and please correct me if I am missing the major issue, because again: dumb white chick) that the arguement is sane respectful racial bounderies vs. the demands of a narrative that requires the same actors to take every possible role (again. They put Halle Berry and Doona Bae in whiteface so that those actresses could play white roles in the white scenarios, and of course, HUGO WEAVING. IN DRAG.)

If I were in the role of writer for that movie, I would not know which was more important. Do I respect racial bounderies and cast ethnic actors when said casting damages my narrative, OR do I stick with the narrative and take the heat?

(If they had not put Doona Bae in whiteface for the end of the pre-civil war scenario, I would have a different opinion. But the narrative seemed to be about the connection between souls and I don't know if it would have had the same visual impact if they had cast different actors for the love interests.)

I am sure you all have opinions, and that they are all better than mine. So Discuss. do I have to review shit again? I do? Fuck.

It's a murder scene. Good fucking Christ.

Look. I have NO official knowledge of crime scenes. Most of what I know comes from true crime books that are ususally slanted so that the police will keep talking to the writers. BUT GOOD FUCKING GOD can we have ONE crime scene that isn't an utter fail?

Having learned from the last crime scene, Zerbowski meets Anita at the door with booties and an ENTIRE BOX OF RUBBER GLOVES.


Also, we find out that the killer changed his MO and moved into the bathroom.

In my thoroughly inexpert opinion, writers, ESPECIALLY crime writers, put too much emphasis on both MO and the ritualistic nature of a crime. These are two different, and very simple, things. MO=Modis Operandi. Meaning these are things that a criminal does to make his crime flow easier. Just like you've got a workflow habit for, say, working on an excel spreadsheet, a criminal has a method for a crime. It implies a habit in the method of crime. A change can mean a lot of things. They got interrupted, they realized they were about to get caught, or they've refined their method and removed risky and/or unnecessary steps. The ritualistic nature of crime is another thing blown out of proportion by mystery writers. This usually only surfaces IRL in ways that even REMOTELY resembles fiction when the killer is a sexual sadist and/or rapist, and the so-called ritual is a part of the fantasy. IRL this means that the rapist/murderer might talk during the kill, or ask the victim to preform an action, or bind the victim a certain way. IRL this results in funky ligatures and victims that report being told to tell their rapist how much they enjoyed the sex. In BOOKS this results in stories about a murderer that kills their victims via poetry with drugged ink (which was the last time I ever read serial murder mysteries because WHO THE FUCK GOES THERE)

LKH usually manages to avoid the killer poetry, which is one area where I've always liked her books. Murders in them are ugly, brutal and graceless affairs, and they do not usually have gimmicks. (In case you can't guess, unbelievable murder scenarios are a pet peeve of mine. WHO THE FUCK KILLS VIA HAIKU?) but there's still an unbelievable emphasis on how KILLERS ONLY WORK THIS ONE WAY.

He's killed three people. He crucified one and he liquified the other two by raping them to death. I think it's safe to say we're still figuring things out.

And it must be said:

The room was red. Red, as if someone had painted all the walls crimson, but it wasn’t an even job of painting. It wasn’t just red, or crimson, but scarlet, ruby, brick red where it had begun to dry, a color so dark it was almost black, but it sparked red like a dark garnet.

STOP DESCRIBING THINGS LIKE THIS. It's red. But it's not red. But it's a shade that would be "red" if you put it in a paint box, only it's not red. But it just sparkles red. Only, you know, it's not fucking red. Okay?

Basically, the walls and floor are covered in blood like something out of a bad anime/CSI episode. We also apparently have to know where the bathtub is, and what size, and the shower stall, and the toilet, and everything else because saying "THIS IS A BATHROOM" is not enough to give you a picture of the average american toilet. We have to know how this specific model flushes.

If the bathtub is not an infinity pool, I am not interested.

Then we move on to Anita's reaction, which takes two fucking pages to finish.

If I have one issue with true crime shows and books and media representation of crime, it's that everything is all about the criminal and the public's reaction to the crime, and not about the victim. Without googling, I dare you to name one victim of Ted Bundy, Dennis Radar or Gary Ridgeway. You don't know who they are. They're not the ones who get 24 hour media coverage and documenatries. We do not give Georgianne Hawkins made-for-TV movies. Nobody cares who Opal Mills was. Nobody is writing books about the Otero family. I get that we ought to respect the family's privacy and that they might not want these things written about, but I also know a lot of victim's families spend their lives screaming to the heavens about their dead loved ones, and that nobody seems to be listening. Meanwhile, we give 24 hour coverage to the criminals themselves. Because it's a lot easier to make a bad guy look interesting than it is a good girl.

The fact that we've gone four pages and discussed the gore and how it has affected Anita, and we haven't even found out the victim's sex yet? Yeah, I don't like that.

Zerbowski says "Who was the girl this morning" and for a second I think we're finally going to talk about the victim (Hair color. Eye color. Skin color. Clothing. ONE personal detail that would make me think "This is a terrible event, a good human has died and now Anita must go kill the bad human to make up for it."). But no. He's referring to Cherry.

Anita's sex life trumps a dead rape victim.

Anita then says that she needed a longer vacation because this shit was so bad.

Dave Reichert worked the Green River case from the early 80s to 2001. He might have taken a few vacations here and there, but he never quit the case. Ever. Because he had a board with all the victim's names on it, or with the Jane Doe number for the unidentified bones. Because, you know, he understood that the case wasn't about how tired he was. It was about the dead victim and the potential victim who was still alive.

Oh, but Anita is a little queasy. I am sure the victim would feel a lot of sympathy if she hadn't come down with a severe case of Raped and Dead.

They speculate about the bathtub for a while, and then decide that two people died in the bathroom. Given that we haven't addressed the issue of body parts--we've been  focused on describing the blood in generous detail--there could be FOURTY people dead in that room, and we the reader wouldn't know.

They make a joke about the 64 thousand dollar question and inflation. Anita puts her gloves on and goes to fish around in the bathtub.

Because that's what a cop would make you do.

Because it's not like special trace evidence could be floating around in the pinky blood water.

And the entire discussion about fishing in the bloody bathtub is about how much it grosses out Anita. GOD FORBID A WEREWOLF EVER DROP A BODY IN A LAKE. Then Anita would have to deal with a one to two week old floater. know, I just realized every case I can think of in this series has been fresh? As in, fresh enough you can pin the time of death down to a couple hours? In most cases it's "Uh, this happened last week. Maybe" but Anita manages to get the cases in the deep woods where the blood is still all drippy and they could possibly have brought in the super glue tent and fumed the body for prints, if they weren't too busy playing "catch" with the body's internal organs.

The chapter ends with Anita finally entering the bloody bathroom.



Anita is holding onto the door .Anita is holding onto the door. The floor is slippery. We are holding onto that motherfucking door and hey, the blood looks just like an Easter Egg dying kit!

So...the victims?

Oh, yeah, and they let a detective, not a crime scene tech or the medical examiner, mind, but a detective, on his first fucking week on the job--you know, the "fuck up" week where the boss hides all the pointy objects and designates a trainer/shadow?--fish through the bathtub for the body parts.


Oh, but the "techies" are going to filter the tub for evidence. AFTER everybody's put their hands in it.

Anita is going to contaminate the crime scene with leopard hair and her own epithelials. And that's just for starters.

Oh, and the best part? They had Anita fish around in the tub and handle evidence she has no business touching so that Zerbowski and another Random Cop can win a bet.


Seriously. Would you like to be the detective who has to explain to the District Attourney that you compromised chain of custody to win a Benjamin? How about the more important group of people here, the victim's family. "Yeah, we would have liked to catch the guy and go to trial and make sure nobody else died the way your daughter did, but we had to let our magical consultant handle the body parts outside of a controlled enviroment because, you know, I bet Dave over here fifty bucks she couldn't touch it, but she's a manly manly girl-man-girl and she did it, and her manly-ness trumps your family's right to have answers."

Fuck all these people. Sideways. With a shovel.

The chapter closes with the introduction of an FBI agent named Bradly Bradford.

Bradly. Bradford.

LKH got paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for this book alone.


  1. Linda Ann Healy, Karen Chandler, Margret Bowman, Brenda Ball, Denise Nasland, Janice Ott, Kimberly Leach (Leech? I couldn't remember without googling) and Georgann Hawkins.

    Linda Ann Healy was studying to be an educator for special needs children. Brenda was last seen outside the Flame Tavern in my home state. Kimberly Leach was on her way to get her backback out of her classroom when Bundy grabbed her. Janice had a boyfriend and a pet dog, iirc. Margret Bowman's favorite book was The Secret Garden and she was in the middle of sewing a dress. (I think! This is all from memory)

    Gary Ridgeway (I am from Seattle) Maria Malvar is sadly the only person I can recall by name, though the stories surrounding a couple other girls come to mind.

    BTK: Vickie Wergele, who was playing the piano just before she was murdered. She was married. Shirley Vian had two small children. Nancy Fox.

    But to be honest I studied Bundy, and have more than a passing interest in BTK and Ridgeway and I am just trying to show off a little. :P

    That's all from memory, I might have gotten a couple of details wrong. But I try and think of the victims, because like you I've felt frustration about the cult of serial murder.

    1. *applauds*

      Seriously. I totally want to give you hugs and cookies right now.

  2. ALSO you touched on something else that really annoys me: no one in LKH's world behaves like actual law enforcement personnel.

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  4. If you find victims interesting check out "I Survived BTK"
    In media the killer brings the interest, that's all media cares about.