Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Incubus Dreams--chapter 9-10

Cool shit for the evening: A co-worker at work usurped the restaurant's speaker system after hours and introduced me to the freakiest shit ever.  It's an album called Mashed in Plastic, and it's basically pop music mashed into theme songs from David Lynch movies. I am completely in love, and the best part is the music is free.

It's over here. I recommend it.

So in the next chapter Anita goes back out to the parking lot. We've entered and left this reception, what, three times each? One murder, one meltdown, and one attempted sexy thing involving Nathanial.

This is not riviting. STOP TALKING AND DO SOMETHING. 

Anyway, who should Anita run into but her old friend Ronnie. Ronnie used to be awesome, but she stopped because LKH hates girls she didn't like Anita dating a sexually manipulative, physically abusive, mind-controlling asshole vampire like Jean Claude. She's totally envious, ya'll. Ronnie would love to have her every will and whim overridden by Jean Claude's sexcapades.

Seriously. At this point my head cannon for this series is everything after Obsidian Butterfly is a brainwashing session, only instead of using addictive drugs Jean Claude is using the Ardeur to break Anita's resistance, and his already-washed followers to feed her the stuff he wants her to internalize. Everybody Anita's demonized since are the people telling her HELLO THIS PERSON IS NOT HEALTHY OR SAFE TO BE AROUND.

Oh, and Ronnie is fighting with her boyfriend the wererat, because apparently Louie asked her to marry him and she said no.


We'll come back to that. Anita and Micah and Nathanial are now going to fight over how Anita didn't kiss Nathanial right because she was embarissed to do so in front of all her cop buddies. Well, she kissed him in front of Jessica Arnet. Yeah, but that was just to prove that Nate was hers. She was marking her territory, ya'll. Nate's actual feelings totally don't matter because she doesn't want to be in love with him, but it's fine for her to sleep with him because Fuck If I Know.

Can this woman please enter into one fucking relationship because she wants to? PLEASE?

And then everybody is all like "Well, let's feed the ardeur right now" and Anita is all "WE ARE AT A WEDDING RECEPTION" and they're like "So?" and she's like "HAVING SEX IN THE PARKING LOT WOULD BE TACKY." and they are all like "SO?"

So basically we have a bunch of under-socialized, manipulative idiots slowly breaking down all of Anita's bounderies because HOW THE FUCK SHOULD I KNOW. There aren't even reasons for this shit. It's basically "Inhibitions? Morals? THESE ARE BAD! LET US HAVE A WANTON ORGY IN THE NEAREST VEHICLE IN THIS PUBLIC PARKING LOT!" while the plot is enjoying its vacation to Bermuda. There certainly is no member of the plot family here.

Then Jason drags Anita off and berates her for playing with Nate's feelings the way she is. This is relatively acceptable RIGHT UP UNTIL he starts going "He doesn't want anyone else, can't you understand this?" and Anita kind of stews in guilt, and everybody involved in this chapter is a terrible person. Anita sucks for stringing Nate along when she clearly has no intention of being in a permanent relationship, Nate and Jason suck because they're trying to manipulate Anita into a relationship she doesn't want, and Micah sucks because he just does. 
End of chapter

At the start of the next chapter, Ronnie has driven off without Louie, so we're gonna get an info dump about how horrible it is for poor Louie to be in love with Ronnie and she doesn't want to marry him. Just like with Anita and Nate! Oh, dearie dearie me, how horrible of these females to not want to be in a relationship with hot men. They both surely need to shape up and submit their emotional desires to the feelings of their partners.

Gag me.

“She says she doesn’t want to marry anyone. She says, if she married anyone, it would be me, but she doesn’t want to. She doesn’t want to.” The pain in his voice was so raw, it hurt to hear it.

Maybe she's seen too many bad marriges. Maybe she's come out of bad relationships and she doesn't want to risk getting pinned into another. Maybe she's got some plan on the side. Maybe she's being blackmailed. IT DOESN'T MATTER. THE FACT THAT YOU LIKE SOMEONE DOES NOT OBLIGATE THAT PERSON TO CONFORM TO YOUR DESIRES.

Real love is not that "I'll hold onto you forever" nonsense. That's obsession. Love is letting go and letting the other person be whoever that other person is without placing unreasonable demands on their life or behavior.

And then, of course, the conversation segues into "Maybe Ronnie stopped being your friend because you're living with people and she's not."

Yeah. That's totally it. I'm sure. It couldn't be because most of Anita's boyfriends are toxic, and they are slowly making her toxic too.


They see Louie into Jason's car, because having Louie and Anita together when the Ardeur rises would be bad, and Anita starts thinking about Nate...and this goes into Treasure Island, which she's reading to Nate and Micah, and then we start talking about how Nate cried when Charlotte died in Charlotte's Web, and then we start talking about werewolf movies because Fuck If I Know.

This takes up three whole kindle pages. One of which is a discussion about werewolf movies, and how werewolves react to werewolf movies, and how the other shifters feel left out, and there's this one really obscure movie that nobody knew about until Anita found it and now they're going to have a marathon--

They get into the car and Anita is all like woe is me, and the phone rings. It's Marianne, Anita's witchy friend from Tennessee. She got some kind of premonition and has decided that Anita absolutely needs to have a Tarot reading. Done over the phone.

Tarot is one of my hobbies, though I'll admit I like studying the meanings more than I like doing spreads. The symbolism and connections and stuff is more than a little mind blow-y. But there are two reasons why I don't bring my tarot stuff out in public. One: It's flakey. Two: It's complicated and a lot of the meanings and connections I use probably aren't kosher, and Three: IT IS BORING. Trying to explain how the four, five and six of Pentacles flow into each other is the kind of thing that makes your brain shut off, if just bringing up the word "Tarot" didn't do it in the first place.

So even understanding that my reading style is different from "normal" readings (I guess. I've never really talked to anybody else about Tarot) this next part is PAINFUL for me to read. Technically most of those cards could work that way if you squint at them sideways and then define them by the "Baby's First Tarot Deck" book that usually comes with the kind of decks you buy at Barnes and Noble (Barnes and Noble has a few really good decks, but the books that come with them usually contradict each other and universally suck.) but for fuck's sake, don't change the definitions between paragraphs.

Basically, everything about this passage pisses me off in unfunny ways.

And the gist of it all is...Anita, your life sucked before, but now it's wonderful and fine and you have a wealth of lovely men in it, so you need to shut up and stop pushing for your morality and just enjoy it, and then a bunch of random stuff on the dead woman because Marianne pulled the eight of swords out of the deck and OF COURSE THAT MEANS MURDER (...okay, that's actually a really good meaning for that eight.)

(Seriously. I am biting my tongue SO HARD trying not to rant on this.)

Yeah, LKH could literally stack the deck for this reading scene and we get Anita Needs To Love her Menz and murdery gobbledeegook. Obviously, she didn't get along with that tarot deck she bought.

The chapter ends with everybody going inside.

I'm now going to go do a shot of something high proof and try to finish the Table of Contents for the omnibus.

Also: Plot. Let me know when we find it, plz.


  1. Co writer and I have a character sort of like Nate. I love that character type. So how LKH handles it really makes me mad. He isn't an object even though he likes to be objectified. It's Anita's responsibility to care for him and help him get his needs met. He's child-like and slave-y but that does not mean she can manipulate, ignore, and reject him at every turn. In fact it should mean she's that much more vigilant about NOT doing those things. She needs to act like a leader and decide what is best for them to do, together, then do it. She's abusing him right now.

    1. *yep*

      He is HIGHLY submissive and he needs to learn how to balance that with healthy self-interest. And he needs to learn how to do that from ANYONE OTHER THAN ANITA.

      The whole "Let's abuse each other emotionally and call it love" circle jerk in this series is pretty damn gross.

    2. It's like, if you're going to show a dysfunctional relationship the other characters have to react like it's dysfunctional, otherwise the whole thing becomes garbage.

    3. I'm actually going to play on dysfunctional relationships with Exiles...mostly because I've watched those relationships evolve with family members, and I've watched them end, and I've become OBSESSED with dysfunctional personalties in an attempt to understand WHY WE CANNOT JUST LET GO (short answer: because we understand on a survival level that our sex partner might kill us if we try to leave. The long version takes hours, and would require you to read a John Ringo novel and watch a couple of True Crime shows.) and I don't like how textbook dysfunctional relationships can exist and not be called out by the other people in the book. The main character does not necessarily need to listen, but there really ought to be a moment where a mouthpiece character should call the Viewpoint on their shit, ya know? I'd have fewer issues with Twilight if Charlie/Carlisle/Esmee/Renee/ANY CHARACTER EVER had called Edward and/or Bella out on how unhealthy their relationship was.

    4. I bet I have watched every true crime show there is, at this point.

      Would that Ringo novel be Paladin of Shadows per chance? I haven't read it but I greatly enjoyed the OH JOHN RINGO NO blog.

      This is my thing too, wanting to showcase dysfunctional, non standard, twisty turny uncomfortable making behavior. It's the same impulse that lead me to get degrees in forensic psych. Why are we so fucked up, essentially?

      Also agree that to be real and to be less offensive, other characters need to call out harmful stuff. This is one of my MASSIVE problems with Anita Blake (I would also call LKH an inspiration of mine, because I want to do so much of what she does but BETTER) in that NO ONE around her ever sits her down and gives it to her straight. NO ONE intervenes to keep her from abusing Nate, who is so painfully, achingly vulnerable. In fact, the characters around her don't even tend to talk to each other. Everyone is there solely to react to Anita. That is inherently creepy.

    5. Actually, it'd be "Here there Be Dragons", which has more than its share of OH JOHN RINGO NO moments, but also a lot of good ones. Like this one.

      In that book, one character tells another character that human beings do not have a binary "Flight or Fight" reflex. It's trinary--Fight, flight, submit. Our first choice is to flee, our second choice is to fight, but if we feel that neither option will let us escape the situation alive and relatively unharmed, we submit to it and wait for the circumstances to end.

      The problem is that manipulative abusers know how to use that instinct for their own ends. If a woman believes that if she runs or fights, she'll die, she will continue to perpetuate an unhealthy situation--ie, stay with an abusive husband--rather than run. Submission is safer than running or fighting. It takes extreme circumstances--usually the belief that even submission will eventually cause death, or the introduction of a secondary victim, usually a child--to motivate the abused victim to flee or fight. And what is SERIOUSLY depressing is, over and over and over again this instinct to submit is proven correct. The most dangerous point in any abusive relationship is when the victim attempts to flee or fight. I know of one specific case where a woman declined a proposal by a man, was abducted by that man, fled his apartment after he'd drunk himself unconscious, stayed with a relative for several weeks before returning to her home in another state, and was murdered by the man who proposed to her within hours of returning home. And he desecrated her body to punish her for trying to escape him. I know of another case with the genders reversed. We are literally hardwired to submit to abuse because submission keeps us alive.

      The way to fix this is to provide victims, BOTH male and female, with circumstances that make flight--or possibly fight, but I believe fight is safer from a social standpoint--a safe choice. If a person DOES believe running will save them THEY WILL RUN. Running is ALWAYS our first choice. The question we should be asking abuse victims is not "Why didn't you run?" but "What could we have done to help you run sooner?"

      Anita is a badly written character in a broken universe. No one will ever treat her correctly, and she is just close enough to true to continue to be scary as fuck. I know women like Anita. I wish I didn't.

  2. Oh, dear, you are doing THIS book. This is the last AB book I actually read, and it has some sex scenes that broke my brain. >_<

    And plot? Hahaha!!! The plot in this book is like Sasquatch, so good luck finding it.

    Be strong, CW, you can do this! Though you will totally be wishing you did the dino book by the end. I am definitely looking forward to the snark, though!

    1. I have booze. I will be okay. I think.

      (We're doing the dino book next)

  3. Oh gods, the Tarot bollocks. I remember this one now!



      And then I realized that this was a literally stacked reading, as in LKH picked a spread that sounds like a HIGHLY modified Celtic Cross and then picked cards that she figured would be meaningful to her character's issues, and she couldn't go any deeper than your average cold reader. IN HER OWN FICTION WHERE SHE CONTROLS EVERY ASPECT.

      Also: no reversed cards and no "bad" cards. Whee, we get the Devil, misdefined as temptation (yeah, that IS one of the meanings, but Materalism and Addiction would be more applicable to Anita's current mental state). Big whoop. You want scary in a reading, how about a nice, fat 9 or 10 of swords paired up with the Tower? That reads as "Overwhelming nightmare that will probably upset the foundations of your beliefs/lifestyle/life in general" and would be the kind of thing I'd introduce halfway through the first act. Probably with the Star and Death thrown in. Hope, and you'd get to spend the whole book wondering of Death=Death or if Death=life-altering transformation.

      On that note I've wanted to write a story where I just draw cards, brainstorm on what I drew, and then write until my brains fall out. I haven't found the right premise. Yet. But I'm going to do that one day.

    2. The cards + writing thing sounds cool!
      I don't pull my deck out as often as I should; it's great for doing readings for other people but I second-guess myself so much I find it nearly impossible to decide when I'm done shuffling.
      And yes, she should definitely have spent a little more time on her research into the cards. And everything else for that matter...

    3. I love my decks. I collect them. I'd say my main two are the Shadowscapes deck (Stephenie Pui-Mun Law. IT IS FUCKING GORGEOUS) and this AWESOME Steampunk deck are my main two. I usually use the Majors from one deck (usually the Steampunk deck, because it's got this serious edge to it) with the other deck as an anchor reading. I don't usually put a whole lot of weight in future readings--hindsight lets you make a lot of connections post fact. It helps make really shitty times a little easier to handle, but it isn't going to help me not fuck up, ya know?--so I usually stick with what I call "temperature" readings. IE: This is my life RIGHT NOW.

      (...says the woman who hasn't brought her decks out in a SOLID YEAR)

    4. Oooh, cool - you do know about the Aeclectic site with most available decks on it, correct? I looked up the Shadowscapes deck and it is lovely!
      I have the Jui Guoliang deck with Chinese art - http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards/chinese/
      I've tried a couple of others but this one really works for me. I started out on this repro ancient French deck of my mother's, but although it worked for her it was only a teaching tool for me. Cool art though.
      I also have a set of unicorn cards for gentle reminders on keeping positive :)

  4. Honestly, it’s not like she’s breaking up with Louie, she just doesn’t want to marry him. You can be together with someone, even for life, and not be married. Heck, that’s the only option LGBT folks had until pretty recently. Other reasons Ronnie could have for not wanting to be married:

    - Doesn’t want to be married in this country until EVERYONE has equal marriage rights
    - Doesn’t want the state involved in her relationship
    - Doesn’t like the idea of being legally bound to someone, even someone she wants to be with
    - Knows that sometimes even people who love each other do get divorced, and has seen how messy that is even when it’s a civil, mutual thing and doesn’t want to go through the legal shit for that
    - Doesn’t want to go through the legal shit for getting married in the first place
    - Doesn’t personally believe in marriage at all for other political reasons
    - Thinks that her relationship doesn’t need a legal mandate to be recognized/real
    - Doesn’t want all their property to be shared

    NONE OF WHICH MEANS SHE EVEN WANTS TO DUMP LARRY. SHE JUST DOESN’T WANT TO MARRY HIM. And if Louie feels he can’t be with someone long-term without marriage, that’s just fine, but it is also just fine for Ronnie to feel the opposite. In which case, they should break up, and that’s sad, but if they’re ultimately incompatible in this regard, then it’s better for them both.

    Re movies: In a world where werewolves and other werebeasts have always been real and always been known to be real, I doubt werewolf movies would be the same as they are in our world, and I doubt other shifter breeds would be neglected. Honestly, that alone would be a really neat aspect of this world to explore (representation in media for monsters) but all the hints we've gotten suggest that it's the same as ours (which is both boring AND illogical)

    1. I vaguely remember one of Ronnie's reasons being that she didn't want to only sleep with one guy for the rest of her life. Does no one in this universe get the concept of negotiated playtimes within marriage but Anita? Also, does that mean they've been open to outside fun all this time but once the rings are on the friends-with-benefits are off? So many unanswered questions. On. Every. Freaking. Page.

    2. (which is both boring AND illogical)

      Which neatly sums up LKH's worldbuilding skills in general.

    3. I remember re-reading SUNSHINE for the eleventh time (That book is SERIOUSLY my life if you subtract the supernatural parts. I relate to EVERY OTHER SINGLE THING, including the bread making. Because I was a baker and OH MY GOD I SO KNOW THIS) and in the first few paragraphs there is this thing about a housekeeper who could beat godzilla into submission, and how governments never see the cleaning help on "Giant Marauding Creature Matters", and after this re-read I realized that in this universe GODZILLA COULD TOTALLY BE A TRUE STORY and it made that house-cleaning service into the scariest thing ever.

      ...Yeah. LKH could never manage that kind of double-think.