Monday, August 11, 2014

Stroke of Midnight chapter 7, Elsie chapter

So, where were we?

I CLEANED OFF THE REMNANTS OF THE MAKEUP THAT I HADN’T cried away. Got the lipstick that still looked like clown makeup off, and even gave Frost a makeup cleansing cloth so he could do his own face . We were clean and neat and presentable when we started back to the crime scene. know, being off the grid for about a month let me forget the pleasures of reading Laurel K. Hamilton. Namely, realizing that the author seems to have no idea whatsoever how normal people behave. Merry has been wandering around the fairy mounds with her lipstick smeared across her face for hours. She never, not once, took time to clean up her own face.

I do not wear makeup, mostly because I hate cleaning the damn stuff off. I get that it's a pain in the ass to mop lipstick off everything that isn't lips (Which is why I like that lipstain stuff, and the stuff that flakes off after a few hours. It looks real shitty when you take it off, but at least you don't get neon red stains on your nice blouses)


And see, silly me, I assumed that sometime between her interview with Aunt Crazy and her phone call to the FBI razor blade, she'd taken a quick trip to the bathroom to clean off the lipstick. BUT NO. WE MUST SEE THE EVIDENCE THAT MERRY IS SO DESIRABLE HER BOYFRIENDS SMEAR HER LIPSTICK IN FRONT OF THE PRESS. FOR PAGES.

We needed to have finished the questioning of the witnesses before then in case they said something that we didn’t want the human police to know. I wanted justice, but I also didn’t want to make the bad publicity worse by sharing some dark secret with the human world.
You know what these books are like? They're like those e-surance commercials that riff on Geico while making fun of old people. THIS ISN'T HOW THIS WORKS. YOU DO NOT GET TO PICK AND CHOOSE WHAT WITTNESSES TELL THE POLICE AND STILL GET TO CLAIM THE HIGHER GROUND.

They get stopped by random guards...but we take a break from that so one of Merry's men can make out with her hair.

I have finally crossed over to the dark side and begun watching Game of Thrones. I am neither impressed nor unimpressed (In a nutshell, FUCK the Lannisters with one notable exception, I like Daneryes but good fucking God she and Sansa are both dumber than a sack of potatoes, I am an eternal Jason Moama fangirl, and I'm pretty much just watching in the hopes that Arya Stark and Tyrion Lannister take her brothers and run off into the woods somewhere.)  But what it has made very clear is that Laurel K. Hamilton has no fucking clue what epic means and the comparison between ASoIaF and Merry Gentry is about as apt as a comparison between good beef jerky and road kill toads.

Also: why are they standing in the hallway thinking about going to the press conference? Why are we having another press conference? Was I smoking something last month when I thought there was plot here? WHAT IS GOING ON.

...uh, halucinations about dead trees, apparently. Merry touches Mistral with the magic ring of fertility and this happens:

The tree represented the Goddess, and the power of faerie; the hill was The Hill. We stood at the center of the world, but the center of the world changed at the thought of the gods. In this moment , this was the center, and Mistral and I stood at that center.

Christ, Laurel. WORDS SHOULD NOT WORK THIS WAY. You're at the center but it's not the center because the center changes and I'd advise you to use your fucking thesaurus but I already know how well that'll go.

And then we get an etherial voice going "YOU ARE THE CHALICE" and I guess that would be kind of meaningful...but no. Nope. Sorry. Merry's messianic complex is not interesting. At all.

“If I am not real, then you cannot kiss me.” “You cannot be real.” “You were always my doubting Thomas, Mistral.

I'm sorry. Thomas is just my favorite deciple (and Peter, because I'm pretty sure Peter's nickname was "fuck up" behind his back. Pretty much everything from the Garden of Gesthemene on is "How can Peter fuck up this time?") because (according to my personal headcannon) he loved Christ too much to believe in the resurrection without personal proof.

And I really, REALLY do not like seeing one of the more dramatic characters in the Gospels being pulled out here to draw yet another paralelle to further facilitate Merry's rise as Fairy Jesus. It's kind of like getting slammed upside the head with a bedpan.

When they're done making out in the relm of fairy LSD, Merry and Mistral are...sigh...grinding in public with poorly described genitalia.

He whispered against my face, and I could not focus enough to see him. “Do you want to ride the storm?” His breath was hot against my skin

Do you want to ride the storm. Good greif, that's like something a twelve year old would say. That's not romantic, that's a billboard for a thrill ride. You know, there is a self published book about a were-rollercoster (The chosen were-rollercoster. Because it's red) and all I could think when I read that was Well, Six Flags ought to sign up for that ride.

And thank god, the chapter ends there.

And now...Elsie.

There's a long episode involving her grandfather's watch that I'm going to skip. The gist of it is that Arthur took it, broke it, blamed it on a slave, and Elsie spoke up for the slave and got Arthur in trouble and oh isn't she sorry but that's EXACTLY HOW EVERY EXCHANGE BETWEEN ARTHUR AND ELSIE GOES.

And no one punishes Arthur for taking the watch and lying about it because everybody who isn't this book's incredibly narrow definition of Christian is a horrible person who will ruin their children.

Seriously. That's what the book is trying to say.

And then we have more pages about how horribly everyone else treats her because of how she told on Arthur.

Meanwhile Elsie's Aunt Adelaide tells Horace he's being an ass to his own kid. He promptly blows his top and bites her head off.

All that Adelaide had said was true; yet Elsie never complained, never blamed her father, even in her heart; but, in her deep humility, thought it was all because she was "so very naughty or careless;"
This is probably the biggest error this book--and this branch of Christianity--makes. Humility has been interpreted for years as an undervaluing of one's self and talents, a kind of self-depreciating sabotage of anything remotely resembling confidence and self-esteem. The reason for this is glaringly obvious--the less confident an individual is, the easier they are to manipulate. The less self-esteem a person has, the more likely they are to compromise their values and safety to preserve a relationship. Elsie's undervaluing of her own self-worth is being presented as a positive character trait, rather than as a symptom of gross systematic abuse and negligance.

The biggest danger of this kind of thinking is that it makes your self-worth something utterly dependent on how other people perceive you, which leaves you wide open to many forms of manipulation and abuse, not to mention depression as you continually fail to measure up.

Thing is, I don't see that the Bible--specifically, the gospels--or the early and/or saner teachings of the church place any emphasis on the undervaluing of the self. Instead, there's a strong warning about the polar opposite, yet equally unhealthy attitude--the undervaluing of other people. Drawing your self-worth from how much better you are than the other, constantly calling attention to how much better you are, and generally trying to make those around you feel like shit so that you feel better about your own self is just a symptom of the same illness. It's not even really an opposite--both traits are founded in the same issue--a poor sense of self-worth. And there are many, many places in the bible where the value of the individual is, if not outright emphasized, then at least highlighted. Probably the corniest is "love your neighbor as yourself". If you don't love yourself, how can you love your neighbor? Christians are not commanded to devalue themselves or anyone else--ever. For any reason. If anything we are required to do exactly the opposite--value everyone, equally, no matter what, no differences and no excuses.

Holding up the battered psyche of an abused little girl as an ideal attitude is sick.

 And fortunately the chapter ends there without any massive infarctions on the part of any adult.

...that won't last.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

I am still alive

Sorry for the long silence, guys. Combination of personal and job related factors (plus own laziness) conspired to make me not want to do shit for several weeks. Wanting to pull the entire world over your head and vanish forever tends to do that.

Don't worry. Updates will now try to resume on a regular schedule. I think.