Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Vampire Diaries Season Three, Episode Twenty: Do Not Go Gentle

Esther in Rebekah's body shows up and hands Klaus the fake stake.  He unceremoniously throws it into the fire and declares that they are leaving Mystic Falls with Elena.  She begs for the opportunity to go the dance and Klaus rightly rejects the idea.  It's was nice to see a thousand year old vampire act like a thousand year old vampire.  She manages to convince Klaus to attend the dance by telling him that Caroline will be there.

In the gym, Caroline is preparing for the dance when Tyler shows up.  She is happy to see him but worried about Klaus finding out that the sire bond is broken.  Apparently, Tyler is jealous about Klaus' interest in Caroline and intends to make himself seen, though Caroline assures him that he has no need to be jealous.  His big plan is to pretend that he is still sired.

Caroline then has a heart to heart with Matt and she is worried about all the time he is spending with the ever so precious with Elena.  It seems that she is worried that Matt will have his heart broken but Matt assures her that he is just Elena's friend. 

Continuing to spread wisdom, Caroline also has a chat with Elena.  It seems that Elena has planned to go the dance as a girl team with Caroline and Bonnie.  It sees that Bonnie has invited Jamie and so Elena has to change her plans.  Caroline suggests that she invite Stefan because she is purely on team Stefan.  Elena is unsure but in the end she decides to ask Stefan to the dance.  I understand that Caroline is a vampire but team Stefan really?  I never thought I would say this, but how about team Elena?  Stefan just spent the summer running around murdering people but supposedly he is Elena's true love?  I hate the way that violence is so quickly forgotten simply because a vampire is the one that is doing it.

Esther changes back to her body, leaving Rebekah in a coffin.  She asks Alaric for his ring but he is resistant because he sees that as his one protection against death.  Finally, Alaric consents and melts down his ring to make the stake indestructible. Without the spell, the stake would burn after only killing one vampires, and it's Ester's plan to make sure that all of her children die. Alaric is sure that the plan is perfect and that Damon will never figure out that something is up.

At the dance everyone is having a good time, until Damon shows up to tell Elena and Stefan that something has gone wrong with Alaric.  Elena gets called outside and there she meets Esther.  Esther asks her to come with her but Elena says no, until Esther makes it clear that she can either come willingly or come against her will.  Elena sends Jeremy inside to get Damon and Stefan and then leaves with Esther.  When Damon and Stefan come outside they realize that the area around the school has been salted and they cannot leave.

Inside the gym, Klaus makes his appearance and he interrupts Caroline and Tyler who are dancing together.  Though Tyler wants to say no, he steps back so that Klaus can dance with Caroline.  Klaus tells Caroline that he is leaving and that he would ask her to come with him, but suspects that she would say no.  He makes it clear that her small town life and small town boyfriend will not be enough to make her happy.  He suggests that in 50 years, or 100 years they will meet again and be together.  Klaus then attempts to leave and realizes that he is trapped on the school property.

The Secret Circle, Season 1, Episode 20: Traitor

Last episode, Cassie’s grandmother, Jane (also known as She Who Has Common Sense, the only one in the whole of Chants Harbour) died so we begin with a funeral (and presumably a town wide mourning for such a dramatic reduction in their average IQ). Cassie gets to be slow motion and tragic – but she’s an angsty multi-tasker so also gets to talk about Diana’s new status as fellow Blackwell spawn (and Cassie’s half-sister)

It seems Blackwell has blamed the death on witch hunters – which is causing Jake to run around screaming angry frets, Faye to flirt with Jake (classy, Faye, real classy) and Dawn to try and manipulate John to get her power back (also classy). To continue the classy, Faye and Jake use magic to steal Dawn’s (Faye’s mother) happy pills (ah, respectful treatment of depression right there, it seems).

 And Adam comforts Cassie (not like that, you dirty people) which leads to Cassie kissing him – because, of course, she’s still in love with him. This causes a string of apologies from Cassie. Cassie also flares at John for having Diana (but he claim it was after Amelia and John split up) and reaffirms her determination to kill the witch hunters.

To up the angst levels a little more, Diana asks her father (Charles) if she could be John’s daughter and it turns out, yes, she could be. But, as he points out – he was there when she was born and he raised her from birth – that makes Charles her father. Charles also demands she stays away from John Blackwell. Cassie and Diana have some more angst –  and Diana is less trustful of Blackwell

Faye and Jake are getting hot and heavy when they check the pills they found – and lo, there’s a crystal in there. They now have 5 crystals – they only need 1 more from Adam’s family. But it’s under a cloak and Adam’s grandfather is already dead (so probably good – the evil ones live, the dead die). Also, of course, Dawn’s crystal is already drained from all that pesky elder killing and will need recharging.

Adam goes searching with Melissa, the eternal servant, also giving Adam the chance to share his angst over the Cassie kiss with Melissa (upgraded to agony aunt). Thankfully, Melissa has brought booze. After a series of awful steps (no, really, we have conflating sleight of hand with magic and writing your uncloaking spell on the thing you have rendered invisible – SO YOU CANNOT READ IT. Oh and an uncloaking spell that reveals granddad’s porn collection). They find out that the crystal is at the school.

Recharging the crystal involves everyone but those 2 gathering at the Magic House (infinitely less cool than the Bat Cave and it’s more of a shack then a house) and more angst as Diana reveals John is her father. And the table eats one of the crystals – yes, eats it. In the words of Faye (who does have some of the best lines) “we just got out magicked in our own magic house!” And Jake finds ash and calls witch hunters – so the witches were out magicked by the anti-magic people

Jake decides the best plan is to speak to Isaac – a witch hunter – and negotiate with him for the crystal back since Isaac hates magic and disapproves of Eben (chief witch hunter) using magic and demons and stuff. Yeah I’m not even touching why speaking to the most anti-magic of the witch-hunters is the best plan to get their magic crystal back. They’re not going to tell John because of Diana’s new angst and the general suspicion caused by the revelation that John slept around. So instead meeting the witch hunters without telling anyone is so much more sensible.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Charmed Season Three

The major theme in season three was love and romance.  Now that Piper and her white lighter boyfriend Leo have determined that they do indeed love each other, Leo proposes.  Unfortunately, the powers that be do not believe that a White lighter and a witch should be together.  They decide that their love is meant to be and they attempt to get thwart the rules and get married anyway.  The course of life and love of course does not run smooth and several incidents occur which stop the marriage.  When they do finally have authorization for a ceremony, it is stopped when Prue's other half decides to break loose and in the process destroys Piper's wedding cake and takes off with a guy on a motorcycle. Piper has a huge fit and declares that she and Leo are not meant to be married.  Her ghost mother and human father talk to her and finally Piper consents and the wedding finally occurs with her dead grandmother officiating.  By the time these two finally got married, I had reached the point of not really caring anymore.

The other major romance of he season was between Phoebe and Cole the half human half demon.  Cole original appears in the lives of the Charmed ones to kill them.  He even travels back in time to try and thwart the birth of their great great great great grandmother but is stopped in time.  With each effort to kill the Charmed Ones, he becomes more conflicted because he is falling in love with Phoebe.  For her part, Phoebe knows that Cole is keeping something from her, but she cannot figure out what.  In the end she of course finds out about his demon heritage but cannot bring herself to vanquish him because she lurves him.  This means that she must lie to her sisters about vanquishing Cole.  Phoebe gets turned into a banshee because of the pain she feels at losing Cole and though he killed an innocent they decide they cannot live without each other.  Lord the angst.

Alyssa Milano, who played Phoebe and Julian McMahon who played Cole have absolutely zero chemistry between them. It was absolutely painful to watch any scene in which they declared their love or kissed.  At times I found myself closing my eyes.  This has to be some of the worst casting ever to make it to television.  Shannen Doherty and Julian McMahon, actually had much better chemistry. If that were not enough, having to deal with the oh, he's evil, no, he's good I swear, back and forth was tiring and at times outright boring.

In this third season, the sisters powers begin to increase.  Piper now has the ability to vanquish and speed up molecules, while Phoebe can levitate.  Phoebe is the youngest Halliwell sister but despite being in her final year of college, she has actually regressed rather than matured.  Her character is absolutely infantalized.  This includes her famous pouty face, and a high pitched voice. They try to cover this infantialization by occasionally having Phoebe spout something she learned in class but it simply makes her appear like a little girl pretending to be a grown up, rather than having her be the adult woman that she is.

Review: Thread of Death by Jennifer Estep. Book 5.5 in the Elemental Assassins Series

 This is book "5.5" because it's a novella between book 5 and 6.

Normally I don’t like short stories or novellas, so I was in two minds about reading this book or, maybe, just maybe, moving on the next one. Or maybe reading it without reviewing it because I know my own personal dislike for the style would skew my opinion.

But I was really pleasantly surprised. This book worked – not only did it work but I’ll go so far as to say the series needed a short story at this point. After the last book, Gin had just defeated her arch-nemesis. This had been books and books in the making. The build up and the execution was also pretty involved and pretty epic.

Which leaves a problem of where to go from there. What do you do, introduce a new Arch-Nemisis? What, so soon? It looks contrived shouldn’t she have some time to live first. But then – can you write a full book about a “day in the life of Gin Blanco”? Maybe, but following up with that after the epic plot of Spider’s Revenge would be a bit of a climb down to say the least.

So we have the novella. And it’s just perfect for what the plot needs. We see Gin recovering, hints of some of the aftermath of what happened (including the fact that she isn’t physically healed and that the victims aren’t all mentally healed either – which is an important point that is often overlooked).

And of course, there are consequences to destabilising the corrupt city of Ashland’s criminal power structure. People are manoeuvring to get into the top spot that has now being vacated which will, no doubt, include much plotting and many deaths,.

And, of course, we see the foreshadow of a different world for Gin Blanco – one in which it is commonly known she is the Spider – and the assassin who took out the most powerful elemental in the city. Aside from the fact that anyone who takes out a crime boss is usually expected to step into their shoes and Gin has no intention of leaving her BBQ restaurant.

All in all, this book is just perfect for the series. We’re getting the new themes set in place, we’re establishing exactly where the city stands now. We have a reminder of what enemies she had who are still alive and an introduction to the new antagonists that are encroaching on the scene.

And we have some nicely written action to remind us just how much Gin kicks arse. We also see her using her magic more casually which I really hope is a sign of things to come – as it was definitely something that frustrated me inearlier books.

All in all, it’s a short story, but it’s what the series needed and essential to maintain the pacing of the series, I think. It's also well paced and developed - too many short stories I've read are either hurried or just don't have enough concrete plot for their existence - they have an idea and they try and stretch it out into an actual book. This got the balance perfectly.

I didn’t expect to like it, I read on the assumption that I wouldn’t enjoy it but needed to get through it in case any new information was revealed – it was a great surprise.

The International Day Againt Homophobia and Transphobia isn't a Marketing Tool

'929' photo (c) 2009, Sarah Murray - license:


Often in the writing blogosphere we see various forms of Blog Hops and blog tours and similar promotions to draw attention to authors, their books and let readers connect with authors who may interest them.

One upcoming blog hop is Hop against Homophobia

This is a blog hop of authors of the M/M genre. It allows writers in the m/m genre to gain attention to their M/M books and offer M/M prizes. The site itself explains its purpose:

the purpose is to get readers to a) see your name b) see your books and c) have the option to follow your blog to get to know you as an author and to be kept up to date about your future work.

And to start it off they’re going to set things rolling on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

So, what is The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia? Well, it’s pretty much exactly what it says. It is a day where we fight against the damage these bigotries do. It is a day when we look at the damage these bigotries do.

And let us never underestimate the power of this bigotry. There are still a horrendous number of countries out there where being GBLT is a crime. In some of them you will be tortured or executed. Others will imprison you for years and, of course, should you serve your sentence you face being returned to prison since, of course, people don’t stop being GBLT.

People are killed for being GBLT. People lose their jobs for being GBLT (often without any recourse in law). People lose their homes for being GBLT. People are denied any legal partnership rights for being GBLT, people are denied medical care for being GBLT, people are vilified and attacked and destroyed for being GBLT. People turn to drugs and alcohol because of anti-GBLT bigotry and countless GBLT people are driven to suicide every year by anti-GBLT bigotry.

In short, homophobia and transphobia are devastating forces out there and any campaign to battle them (Including this day) is vital and precious and very very important (though we can have debates about the effectiveness of individual days, that is a different discussion).

And these authors have decided to use this day to shill their books. They’re using this day about bigotry against GBLT people for marketing. Worse, not only are they appropriating this day for marketing, the actual purpose of the day they are using does not even remotely have to be involved

From the site itself:
- Talk about the International Day Against Homophobia in your May 17th blog entry (as little as just a mention – your choice).
--- Add the colorful Hop Against Homophobia image to your blog/website with a link to the official hop site:

There, you don’t have to actually do anything about homophobia or transphobia or talk about the day or what it actually aims for – don’t let silly things like that put you off. Don’t let the actual purpose of the day get in the way of your marketing. No, so long as you mention the name (all the better to appropriate it properly) and then you’ll get a giant anti-homophobia rainbow banner as well! Sure you don’t actually have to do anything about homophobia or transphobia, but you get the banner. I wonder if it comes with cookies?

Let me repeat this so we can be abundantly clear – no part of this blog hop requires acting or speaking against homophobia or transphobia, nor does it require being a GBLT member or ally (and no, being part of the M/M genre is not synonymous with allydom. Using us does not make you an ally, writing these books does not grant automatic status as a supporter - far from it). It is not about GBLT rights –it is about advertising, marketing and giving away free M/M stuff to attract more readers and followers

Thursday, April 26, 2012

True Blood Season 5: Waiting Sucks - Sam/Luna

Review: Torment by Lauren Kate, Book 2 of the Fallen Series

Luce has just escaped a battle between the forces of Demons and Angels and has now been moved into hiding – even from her parents and friends. She is now at Shoreditch, an exclusive school in California, but also one with a secret – this is where Nephilim are sent to train, the children of Angels and Demons.

Separated from Daniel who is pursuing his own agenda he won’t tell her about (including a truce with their one time enemy, Cam), Luce is left to try and assimilate into this new setting with her supernatural classmates, all the while pursued and harried by enemies she knows nothing about (because no-one bothers to tell her) with unknown motives (to her anyway).

But she also seeks a connection with the past lives Daniel remembers but she has lost – through the use of the shadowy Announcers, she fumbles her way to try and find some knowledge of who she was and who she and Daniel were. And through that, she hopes to find exactly what their relationship is now.

This book is called Torment and I am sorely tempted to say it is named appropriately. I am so utterly frustrated by the way the book progressed, the general lack of story and the behaviour of the characters

The last book was very long and very slow. We had an awful lot of foreshadowing with Luce’s life in a reform school – it was mundane, there were clues but it was primarily an introduction. As I said in my last review, the book didn’t seem to start until the very closing pages – that’s when we had angels, demons and grand epic plot line actually started.

So I opened this book with a vague hope that we were now in the world of angels and demons and the plot would follow along those lines. Instead I find that Luce has been moved somewhere for her own safety. Another school. Yes, it’s a school with a special class for Nephilim (people with Angelic/Demonic blood) run by Angels and Demons but, ultimately, she’s in a school and we’re largely back to square 1. I think Daniel and Cam are out there doing interesting things – but Luce is at school, involved in a lot of school drama (making new friends, making new enemies and meeting a cute boy) but not doing much more than playing with the Announcers. All the desperate high school drama, a climax, then back to school again. And in this school she has plenty of time to think – and think she does. About Daniel and their “relationship” (sure, he remembers their past lives of love, she doesn’t. She’s known him for a few weeks – and most of that he was shunning her), about her relationship with her family and about her past lives. Endless reams of thinking – but none of it going anywhere, just circling monologues of angst.

Which brings me to the next element of this book I found immensely frustrating – everyone is mushrooming Luce. No, that’s wrong – “mushrooming” means keeping someone in the dark and feeding them shit. Luce doesn’t even get shit. She is ordered by her oh-so-loving boyfriend to remain on campus like a good girl. He doesn’t tell her why beyond “keep her safe” he refuses to fill her in on the enemies, he refuses to explain why they have enemies and what they want, he refuses to explain his truce with Cam, he refuses to explain what the difference between angels and demons actually is, he refuses to explain why he is the linchpin in the battle between Heaven and Hell, he refuses to explain why he’s having trouble choosing, he refuses to explain why she matters, her past lives, the beginning of their relationship – ANYTHING. She is given orders and dropped, ignorant, into this new place and just expected to obey.

The thing is, 80% of Luce’s angst (and, therefore, 80% of this book – because seriously, that’s all this book is, Luce endlessly angsting about her relationship with Daniel and related issues) cold be addressed if someone would talk to her. Or at very least if she could ask some questions and make them stick. She asks a few, but she accepts the brush off. She has been moved by near strangers to the other side of the country with zero contact with her friends and family for reasons no-one will explain, with consequences no-one will explain and she has to learn things no-one will explain. There is no reason presented why Luce needs to be kept so ignorant and all it does it cause further angst and misunderstanding on her part.

And this leads to the next thing that irritated me. Luce doesn’t object to all this! Even when her new teachers put her under house arrest she doesn’t start throwing things and demanding an explanation as to why she is there and who these people are and what the hell gives them the right to effectively hold her prisoner when no-one has explained a damn thing?! She asks questions and gets irritated with Daniel when he orders her to obey but she never pushes their refusal to answer.

But the truly irritating part of this is that she DOES disobey (yay!) but in the Spunkiest of ways. While someone is actively hunting her – she knows this because she’s seen it, let alone being told and the other girl at school who looks like her has been victimised TWICE – she STILL decides to wander off campus without telling anyone!

Blood Ties, Season 1, Episode 4: Gifted

We open with Vicki in a comic book shop reading Henry’s graphic novel  - and being bothered by creepy geek boys in a classic “zomg a woman in here” moments. But then Henry arrives and we get back to some proper flirting.

To the plot we find a mother (Celeste) and her daughter (Sarah) planning to move – the daughter doesn’t want to, has a temper tantrum and then we get a whole lot of shaking and some very bad CGI attacking the mother

At work Vicki is fighting a losing battle about being considered the “supernatural” detective – but gets a case to find Steve Jeffries. An elderly woman wants to find her son-in-law who was estranged from her now deceased and murdered daughter, leaving an orphaned daughter (Sarah) behind.

At the police station she learns more about the murder – an open door and wounds inflicted by claws and teeth. And that Vicki’s own run-away dad makes her rather testy about men who leave their families.

Sarah is currently living at the Cobb Academy – her boarding school for gifted children (she’s an artistic prodigy) and Vicki finds out that the relationship between Sarah and her father is fraught to say the least. She goes on to search their house (bringing Henry along for no apparent reason…) and finds a picture drawn by Sarah of a monster killing her mother – before her mother died.

On to the pathologist – still dragging Henry. The pathologist points out the body has been mauled by an animal that left no fur nor salvia. She points out the police ignore things that are strange and don’t fit (as Vicki used to). I really liked her – her eccentric thinking looks a little fantastic and silly, but when considering this is an actual world with supernatural creatures it shows just how no nonsense she is and how she, as a scientist, isn’t going to let her preconceptions cloud the evidence that is in front of her. I love her “if it existed… does it?” line to the picture of the creature she’s presented. Not shock or horror or doubt – just simple curiosity.

She finds the father, Steve, but he’s utterly uninterested and hostile to the idea of looking after Sarah. Returning to the school we learn that the monster is “buttercup” a stuffed toy and that Lauren, Her art teacher was worried about the art Sarah was producing. This leads to Cobb’s “gifted” students in their special room testing magical abilities – and Cobb manipulating Sarah into setting “buttercup” on Lauren – causing another load of shaking and bad GI attack.

Consulting with the father basically confirms everything – Sarah is telekinetic and Cobb is using her powers to kill people – and drive the father away. Still despite original reluctance (and us seeing more of Vicki’s father issues). On tom the school to reunite daddy and daughter with evil Mr. Cobb on the sidelines to manipulate some more poor CGI deaths before the ultra ultra twee ending. And Celluci arrests Mr. Cobb for – well, whatever it’s for I’d love to see the court case

Cover Snark: Dinners Up! Come and get Your Belly Meat!

In the world of Urban Fantasy we face many supernatural beings that find humans tasty tasty treats. Of course there are vampires that drink blood - but there are also zombies, werewolves, predatory fae and a whole host of supernatural nasties that want to chow down on the sweet human flesh.

So why is this outfit so common? Is there a shortage on t-shirts? Are we rationed down to bras only? Why, in this world with lots of snacking monsters would you want to show this much prime belly meat?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Game of Thrones - 13 year old consultant

This short video makes a strong statement about the ways in which women are ridiculously reduced to sexual objects in HBO's Game of Thrones

Review Being Human U.K. Season Three Episode One: Lia

George, Nina and Mitchel move into a former bed and breakfast in Wales. George and Nina are excited because the house has a basement that one of them can change in, while the other changes in the woods.  While they are downstairs checking it out, Mitchel sees Annie on the television again.  They have moved her to a secure room and she is absolutely terrified of what is going to happen next.  He promises her that he will come for her.  What I find interesting about this dynamic is that George and Annie seem content to mourn Annie and move on, while Mitchel refuses to stop until he gets Annie back.

In restaurant, Tom and his father McNair discuss seeing a werewolf movie of all things.  McNair is worried that the movie will trivialize werewolves and he is concerned about the nudity.  Tom responds that there is a woman wearing a bra.  McNair then goes on to complain about the price but Tom promises to sneak in through the fire exist.  McNair consents saying that is what he used to do as child.  He gets up to pay their bill saying that he is going to visit the broken down carnival that they passed in the hopes of collecting copper wiring.  This gives us a really good understanding of just how poor the father and son are.    As McNair walks down the street some men jump out of a van and kidnap him.  Tom tries to catch up, but they are far too fast for him.

That night George and Nina decide to have a little fun because Nina bought some lingerie.  They have a few missed starts when George gets a pen in the stomach and then Nina gets her hair cut in his glasses.  They are just about to warm up when Mitchel comes charging into their room to grab their radio because he is desperate to contact Annie again.  George is upset that Mitchel ruined the mood, and for Nina this confirms everything she thought about sharing a home with Mitchel to begin with.

The next morning, Nina, George and Mitchel are at the local hospital (must be nice to be able to pick up a new job so easily) to wait for patient Sean Hancock, who was diagnosed a year ago with malignant melanoma to die.  Nina demands that both George and Mitchel be respectful to Sean.  George is worried that Mitchel is doing this so close to the full moon, but Mitchel is adamant that they are running out of time to save Annie. As they wait for him to die, Mitchel does a crossword puzzle and George starts to pray.  George's praying disturbs Mitchel but George simply says deal with it.  When Sean dies, Mitchel tries to open the door but finds that he cannot and so he tells Sean to take his time.  On the other side of the door, Mitchell finds himself alone.  He is met by a guide, whom he immediately asks to take him to Annie. 

Mitchell is taken from room to room where he is forced to confront the people that he killed.  In each situation he has an excuse for his actions.  It is only when he is taken to what looks to be a train that he realizes that the woman who has been his guide, is one of his victims.  She introduces them one by one and he says that he is sorry.  He tries to deflect the blame by reminding them that another vampire was with him, that he didn't choose this curse and finally that they don't understand that hunger.  Finally, he is forced to admit that he did this for the pleasure of it and that he is a monster deserving of any punishment that they can dream up for him. He begs once again for Annie and is finally told that he will be released with Annie and that his destiny is to die at the hands of werewolf and that is why he is being sent back.

George goes into the woods dragging a chicken preparing for that nights full moon when he comes across Tom, who is also dragging a chicken.  He goes racing after Tom but loses him when he comes across a group of people who have clearly gathered to have sex in the woods.  He tries to tell them that he is looking for a young boy but they mistake that for a desire on the part of George to have sex with a man.  I know that this was meant to be funny,  but considering that in three seasons, Being Human U.K. has only had one episode with two gay male characters I hardly find reducing sex between two men to be amusing. The police arrive and arrest the entire group even as George yells that he has a medical condition. George manages to leave a message on the answering machine before his cell phone is taken from him.

Review of Game of Thrones Book One In A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R. R. Martin

Though there are many problems with HBO's version of A Game of Thrones, I must admit that it is compelling viewing.  It has often been my experience that there is normally a large difference between a text and a film version and with that in mind, I set out to read A Game of Thrones.

Martin set his world in an alternate medieval history where dragons, earth based religions, the dead walk the earth. In this alternate world summers can last for decades bringing bounty and comfort however the ominous statement that winter is coming is continually uttered.  The wall is 700 feet high and 300 miles long.  It is all that keeps the  seven kingdoms safe and is guarded by the nights watch, who are men who swear to guard the wall, never to marry or produce any children.  So seriously is this oath taken that Lord Eddard Stark beheads a man who deserts.  

Each family in A Game of Thrones has a motto and sigil by which they live. The families that we see the most of are the Starks who are led by Lord Eddard of Winterfell and the Lannisters who are led by Tywin of Castlerock.  For Eddard duty and honour are his two primary concerns and eventually his undoing when he comes to serve as the hand of the king.  The Lannisters are a devious, wealthy family who always put self interest above everything else.  The trouble between these two noble families begins when Bran, Eddard's son discovers Jamie and Queen Cersi engaging in incestuous sex.  Not wanting to be discovered, Jamie throws Bran from the roof leaving him disabled for life.   The situation then escalates when Catelyn takes the dwarf Tyrion Lannister captive in the belief that he is responsible for the injury of her son.  While in the Kings service, Eddard discovers that the children the world believes were sired by Robert Baratheon the king, and birthed by his wife Cersi are in fact the product of her incestuous relationship with her brother and king slayer Jamie Lannister.  Robert is betrayed and summarily executed by Joffrey.  This quickly leads to a declaration of war with the Lannisters on one side, the Starks on another and Roberts brothers, Stanis and Renly fighting as well for their right to the throne.

If that were not enough, the nights watch is suffering from a lack of men and crumbling facilities. Eddard's son Jon, joins the night watch because he cannot see a future for himself within the Stark household.  Almost immediately he is pulled between the vow he swore and the family he still loves.  His vow cannot be easily cast aside because the others have made themselves known and with winter coming, it is only a matter of time until they become a real threat to the seven kingdoms. 

To the east the last Targaryens - Viserys and Daenrys are struggling to regain what they deem to be their rightful thrown from Robert who they consider to be a false king and usurper.  To that end with the help of Magister Illyrio, Viserys promises his 13 year old sister to Khal Drogo, the leader of the war hungry Dothraki.  In return for Daenrys hand in marriage, Drogo promises to help Viserys regain his throne.  As a wedding gift Daenrys is given a horse and three petrified dragons eggs.  The eggs are fitting because the Targaryens are considered dragons and had used the mighty beasts to win confrontations though now, they have long since been considered extinct. 

As you can tell from my brief summation, there are many political sub plots in A Game of Thrones.  There are a lot of characters and at times it is easy to get lost and forget exactly which parties are aligned.  The standouts however are: Robert Baretheon (the King), Cersi Lannister (the queen) Jon Snow (Roberts legitimate son) Catelyn Stark (Eddard's wife) Rob Stark (Eddard's Son) Sansa Stark (Eddard's oldest daughter) Arya Stark (Eddard's youngest daughter) Tyrion Lanniester (the dwarf) Joffrey Baretheon (King Robert's heir)  Khal Drogo (khal of a Dothraki tribe), Daenrys (the last Targaryen).

Wednesday Reboot: Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow was released in 1999 and stars, Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci and Miranda Richardson. It was directed by Tim Burton and fits quite well with the rest of his movie credits. It is based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. 

Ichabod Crane, played by Johnny Depp is a police inspector determined to bring scientific investigation to police work. The movie begins with the discovery of a body in the river which Crane wants to investigate, but the local magistrate believes that it is a simple case of drowning, because of the circumstances in which the body was found.  When Ichabod suggests performing an autopsy, he is accused of being a heathen.  Crane not content, decides to argue his case before the law.  The judge sees Crane's position as disrespectful to the court, and so is he sent to a small town named Sleep Hollow which has reported four murders.

Though Crane has a strong belief in science he is an extremely haunted man.  Throughout the movie he has flash backs to his childhood which include dances with his mother whom he lost at the age 7.  He has was appear to be puncture wounds on his hands but he cannot remember how came to have these wounds. We further learn that because of the circumstances by which his mother died he is now an atheist and sees religion as pure superstition.

When Crane arrives in Sleepy Hollow, he does not believe the claims that a headless horseman is responsible for the deaths, though he told a violent tale about the death of Hessian, and so he sets about using science to attempt to determine the real murderer. 

In his investigation, he meets Katrina Van Tassel, a white witch.  When no man well journey with him to the horseman's resting place, Katrina joins him.  Katrina is an extremely interesting character. Not only does she perform witchcraft when evidence of such would most certainly lead to persecution, she is strong and direct.  I suppose my only issue would be the fact that she continually asks Crane whether he believes her actions are wicked.  This can be read as a test to see exactly how liberal of a man Crane is, but I also believe that it can be assumed a gauge to test the acceptance of Katrina's performance of femininity.

When Crane initially discovers that  Katrina has cast a spell employing what he believes to be the evil eye, he declares her the murderer.  What love he felt for her he relinquishes, sure in the knowledge that she was possessed and did not act of her own accord.  Katrina's punishment is being left in the town of Sleepy Hollow.  It is not until he checks the spell book that she gave him as he is leaving town that Crane realizes that he is wrong.  Katrina is redeemed because she sought only to do good.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: A Kiss before the Apocalypse by Thomas E Sniegoski, Book 1 of the Remy Chandler Series

Remy is a private detective, making his bread and butter following cheating spouses and similar petty investigations. One such investigation leads him to a pair who commit suicide, driven to the edge by the apocalyptic dreams the man is plagued by. They commit suicide but, miraculously, they don’t die.

Except it’s not miracle – and Remy should know, because he is an Archangel. Disillusioned with heaven, he hasn’t so much Fallen as withdrawn from Heaven, turning his back on a paradise he no longer wishes anything to do with.

He has little choice when the pattern continues and people stop dying. Their souls screaming for release, they’re trapped in their bodies. Israfil, the Angel of Death, has gone missing and his job is undone. And if that weren’t bad enough, Israfil is the guardian of 5 scrolls that begin the apocalypse – should their seals be broken.

Remy has to find Israfil and his scrolls in an investigation that takes him through the dregs that
Heaven and Hell both don’t touch; Fallen Angels, Shunned Angels, Banished Angels and disgruntled immortals.

On a personal note, Remy’s own family is falling apart. His wife of several decades is old and dying slowly from cancer. Of course, she can’t die until Israfil is found – but is Remy really ready to let her go?

The author has clearly done a lot of research. There is an enormous amount of angelic lore here, from angel names to the different choirs – there’s a vast amount of work gone into this and it’s really wonderful to see. It shows in the story – the world building is truly excellent and you can feel the mythology behind it. I really can’t stress enough how well done this world is and how real it feels.

Similarly, Remy is a very good character. He has strong connections to his family with really well represented emotional bonds – even with Marlowe (a talking dog that is really well done as well – you can believe this is a dog. It’s not funny or witty but exactly how you’d expect a dog to think and talk). His reasons for Falling are reasonable, his friendships true and his actions make sense and really fit with who and what he is. Like the world, he feels very real and very well put together.

The story itself is an interesting ione – I’ve read other stories with the disappearance of the Angel of Death before and they tend to follow the same pattern, but the amount of lore that’s included, the enemies that are behind it (which I was completely surprised by and didn’t expect even slightly) and the bringing in of several other elements from the deeply research world – the Grigori, the Black Choir, Lazarus, Francis mean it’s anything but clichéd. I love when someone takes a story and adds so many twists and different aspects to it making it a completely original story even if the basic concepts are ones you’ve read before.

My main criticism of the story is one of pacing. I think there is a lot of work to try and get the full emotional impact and to truly emphasise Remy’s emotional bonds, especially with his wife and, to a lesser extent, Marlowe.  The problem is that the world is ending – literally ending. We have the horsemen of the apocalypse lurking over the planet, seas are receding, people are dying but being trapped in their bodies – everything is ending. And Remy is walking the dog and visiting his very ill, elderly wife. Yes, it’s understandable that he loves them and we do need to see the full impact and power of that love. The problem is that the world is ending – and this is utterly destroying the sense of urgency that you’d expect from a stopping-the-apocalypse story.

Despite this complaint, these powerful scenes do carry a lot of impact. They’re really well written and extremely touching – the bond he shares with his wife is poignant and painful and is a nice take on the idea of an immortal and mortal relationship. In most books we see when they’re both very young or some supernatural means makes the mortal partner immortal – but here we have the end of the relationship. His love continues right until the end of her life, but there are clear and painful consequences of an unaging angel falling in love with an aging human – it’s really well done.

Inclusion-wise the story falls very flat, this Boston is entirely straight and the only POC we see are bit characters. There’s also a huge white default issue with descriptions – when Remy sees 2 children playing, for example, he’ll say there was one girl and one Asian boy. The only women we see are, again bit characters who have few lines and his wife who is extremely ill with cancer in a care home. Now this isn’t a story that focuses on other people than Remy, it’s very much a one character book – but I think even his dog gets more attention than any minorities.

All in all I liked the story and absolutely loved the world. Now we have this vast world building and huge amount of research revealed I really want to see what more is coming, what more we can expect. It’s a great stand alone book, but as the first book in a series it’s truly excellent – laying down a good character, an amazing world and some really good plot hooks. All in all, it’s one of the best Angel urban Fantasies I’ve read.

Once Upon a Time. Season 1, Episode 19: The Return

In fairyland we see children playing  - including Rumplestiltskin’s son. And Rumplestiltskin is a rather… over-protective father and inclined to use his vast magic to protect and avenge even petty slights against his son.

We learn that the ogre war which was raging in the fairyland was stopped basically by Rumplestiltskin walking into the middle of the battlefield and telling them to. But his son is disturbed by Rumplestiltskin’s constant use of magic, especially to hurt and kill people. He wants his father to get rid of the power so he won’t need more power to protect himself. Runmplestiltskin makes a deal – if his son finds a way to get rid of his power without killing or harming either of them (the only way he knows is to kill Rumplestiltskin with the dagger with his name on) then Rumplestiltskin will take it.

Playing with kids, Bael speaks to one of the child soldiers who knows of a bigger, darker power than Rumplestilskin - Rulgorm. And it becomes more urgent to him when he finds that Rumplestiltskin has killed their maid for knowing about the dagger.

Bael doesn’t speak to Rulgorm but does speak to the Blue Fairy who tells him that she can’t change him – but if they go somewhere without magic, Rumplestiltskin will lose his power. Rumplestiltskin doesn’t seem overly thrilled with the idea of being weak. And when the portal is opened to a world without magic, Rumplestiltskin can’t do it – on the cusp of the portal he lets go of his son, lets him go through but doesn’t follow.

He is now driven to find his son – and design a curse that will let him reach him no matter the cost

In the real world we start with August having some kind of seizure and calling someone to say they need to accelerate their plan. Curious – especially since August seems to be someone who is pushing to break the curse. This leads to him recruiting Henry for a scheme involving Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin) – with Henry distracting him so August can snoop around his office – except he’s caught and shuffled out. After all, one does not pull a fast one on Mr. Gold.

And Regina is certainly learning that dealing with Mr. Gold isn’t easy – her deal with him to kill Kathryn and blame Mary Margaret has all fallen apart because Regina was careless about the wording. Oh I do so love Gold – he’s good, he’s so very very good (and he has some wonderful one liners as well). Regina is confused as to Gold’s motives – after all he made the curse – but Gold isn’t one to divulge his secrets easily.

In the hospital, Emma is visiting the newly reappeared Kathryn – who is not dead (doctored DNA evidence aside) and has been kidnapped and drugged while she was away. And she and David have an oh-so-sweet reunion and forgiveness session.

On the Mary Margaret’s welcome home party (because it’s hard to find a “Yay, You’re not a murderer!” banner) but that’s ok, Henry has a card that says pretty much the same thing. David is also trying to join the party but Emma is keeping him away from Mary Margaret after he expressed doubt about Mary Margaret’s innocence which, naturally, upset Mary rather. Emma also plays word fencing with Gold (suspecting him of the kidnapping) which never works – but Gold is asking after August.

And since August has snooped in his office of course Gold has to go have a snoop round August’s hotel room – and finds a picture of the magical dagger that kills Rumplestiltskin and steals his powers. Gold follows him and meets up with the Mother Superior who is talking to August – apparently August is seeking his father in town.

Gold goes to Dr. Hopper (Jiminy Crickey) for some therapy about his estranged son and receives some heartfelt advice from a  rather confused doctor – and finally we get Gold confronting August, his son. Ever since he let him fall through the portal he has sought a way (there you go Regina, a motive for the Curse from Gold) to join him. August forgives him and as proof of reconciliation, Gold takes him to the dagger and gives it to August

Game of Thrones, Season 2, Episode 4: Garden of Bones

We start in the Lannister war camp where 2 soldiers are deciding who is the best sword in the Seven Kingdoms and making gay jokes about Loras and Renly – until a surprise attack by Robb and his army taking out the camp. One of his advisors is pushing for him to torture the prisoners for more information –but Robb won’t give the Lannisters and excuse to abuse his sisters

And we get some rough field surgery of a Lannister soldier to remove his leg – with Robb willing to help even though it’s the enemy. The doctor who treated him has little time for lords and their wars and the cost they bring to common people. Especially since Robb has no plans for the Seven Kingdoms after Joffrey is deposed.

At Kings Landing Joffrey’s supporters are making up outlandish tales for how Robb is winning the war – and blaming Sansa for the loss and having her attacked and beaten in court – until Tyrion arrives and brings the awesome with him – reminding dear Joffrey that the “Mad” King Aerys thought he could do whatever he wanted with impunity as well before he was killed. He also has some masterful threats for the Kingsguard as well and kind tenderness for Sansa. Despite that, Sansa cannot trust even Tyrion.

Unfortunately then Tyrion and Bron discuss getting Joffrey laid to help temper his sadistic tendencies, oh no Tyrion, cling on to the awesome. Why do I think A prostitute will be involved soon?

And yes, the next scene there are 2 women in Joffrey’s rooms who proceed to make out with each other for Joffrey’s viewing pleasure. Joffrey is still a sadist however, and forces one woman to brutally beat the other.

Back with Tyrion, his cousin Lancell brings a writ from Cersei  to order the release of Pycelle. Oh, Cersei, Lancell is no match for Tyrion who threatens to tell Joffrey that Lancel is sleeping with Cersei. And Tyrion has another spy and agent.

At the travelling court of King Renly, Littlefinger has arrived to deal with him. Renly makes his contempt for the man utterly plain. Baelish tries to offer a secret compact with Renly, but Renly doesn’t have much truck with him.

That night, however, he meets Queen Margaery, and starts making several digs about Margaery having to sleep alone and Renly sleeping with Loras. Margaery has to subtly declare her loyalty to Renly for Baelish.

Then Baelish gets to meet Cat the Spunky, she who he has always loved who is Very Displeased with him and finally holds him at dagger point – wow, for the first time I’m driven to cheer Cat.  But Baelish says the Lannisters have both her daughters and Baelish is saying they will trade the daughters for Jaime Lannister and that they should take the opportunity before the war turns against Robb. As a sign of good faith Tyrion Lannister has sent Ned’s remains.

Later King Renly (and Cat) meet King Stannish, Renly’s older brother and another claimant to the throne – and he’s accompanied by Melisandre, priestess of the Lord of Light. They bicker for a while and Cat decides to scold them for their sniping. Stannis in turn is not impressed with Catelyn talking to Renly when Stannis is the heir that Ned Stark supported.

Stannis gives Renly an ultimatum – despite Renly having the much much larger army – he has 1 night to support Stannis or be destroyed.

Later we see Stannis and Ser Davros talking – and us learning the full extent of Stannis’ inflexible justice. He wants Ser Davros to smuggle Melisandre ashore. In the cave she stripes naked (of course) and reveals that she is heavily pregnant. The torch flares to life and Melisandre gives birth to a shadowy, skeletal creature.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fangs for the Fantasy Podcast, Episode 63

This week we discuss the Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones and our book of the week, Flip This Zombie by Jesse Petersen.

We also mock Tami about her porn We also discuss the issue of “null” female protagonists in Urban Fantasy – especially YA – and what these character-less characters imply. We discuss several trends of these protagonists – including the habit of even the strongest female protagonists being victims or limited


Review: Flip This Zombie, by Jesse Petersen, Book 2 of the Living with the Dead Series

Sarah and Dave are zombiebusters – trading with their fellow survivors in the badlands to clear out pods of zombies that are in inconvenient places. It’s a lucrative job (in so far as anything is lucrative after the zombie apocalypse) and they’re beginning to gain some minor celebrity status.

So much so that they have been noticed by Dr. Barnes. A government scientist holed up in a working facility who thinks he has that most precious of holy grails – a cure for zombies.

Sarah and Dave (and their new companion, Robbie, a kid they saved who brings his own drama) are now tasked with finding and capturing living zombies – far easier said than done. Especially since there is a new kind of zombies out there- bionic zombies who don’t seem nearly as mindless as the ones they’re used to killing

It’s more complicated in that Dave does not trust Dr. Barnes and a rift develops between he and Sarah as her hope clashes with his cynicism.

This book had an interesting story that added some more twists to the zombie tales. I’m not entirely sure if they have been done before (they feel like stories that should have been done before) but I haven’t read them. It was an interesting concept and (largely) held together (I think David’s seeing of the brand on the neck was too early to maintain any kind of mystery and it just served to undermine Sarah). I won’t say the ending was predictable – it had interesting twists that were unexpected for one – but nor was it a complete surprise either. Still, the journey was fun and interesting even if the destination wasn’t unexpected.

The very concept of zombie hunters in the badlands is such a fun one. And it nicely adds a new element to the whole post-zombie-apocalypse survivor meme. Usually we see  survivors hunkering down, hiding, trying to find a safe place and scratch a living in the new, harsh world. There's lots of running, lots of hiding, lots of fear and lots of despair. People fight when they have to but run when they can - ultimately, safety is the goal. Having Dave and Sarah hunting down the zombies, exterminating them is a wonderful twist to the idea. They're not running in fear, this is their day jobs and while things are bad and scary they've taken it in stride and are now dealing with it. They're professional, capable and fit well into the world they've found themselves in. It makes both of them great characters and adds more depth to a setting you can examine as an actual setting rather than a horrific background of fear that the characters have to navigate

There are also elements and scenes that I just love – Sarah’s love of weaponry, the horde of zombie guinea pigs the idea of libraries being some kind of shrine – these are nice elements that added fun and depth to the book

I’m saddened that the interactions between Sarah and Dave are much worse in this book than in the first book. The excellent bickering that we got between them now felt more like Sarah fighting to be reasonable and calm while Dave sniped and sulked. It felt like Sarah was tip-toeing around his ego, his temper and his general flounciness. Dave in general seems to have developed several traits that, while I can understand them, are making him much less likeable. His “giving up on hope” has made him surly to the point that no-one can have any real conversation with him without him attacking them. He has become even more over-protective of Sarah and keeps questioning her actions for her safety and trying to restrict her. She repeatedly refers to his Neanderthal-like behaviour but it’s played more as cute and loving than irritating. And his jealousy got on my very last nerve – it was unnecessary and it was overdone and made his realistic objections just look discountable because of his pouting.

It reached a point where, even though I disliked the kid and Dr. Barnes I was almost sorry about the ending because it validated Dave and all of his pouting temper tantrums.

Dresden Files, Season 1, Episode 4: Rules of Engagement

Nicki Slovak is a beautiful woman who is looking for a man – and has arrived at Harry’s shop (along with some corny voice overs of attraction) to get Harry to find him. A Donald Primko who took $22,000 from her Aunt Freda – and Aunt Freda doesn’t trust the police. But does think harry can find him with a used toothpick.

Time for some magic – and, of course, Bob asking after the physical features of dear Nicki in the creepiest of terms. Anyway, one scrying later and Harry arrives where he thinks Primko is – and finds a body that is horrifically burned and smells of brimstone with a flower branded into his hand.

This points to the man being killed by Hellfire, which means the High Council, the ruling body of Wizards, is going to get involved to see exactly what Harry is getting up to. In comes Morgan, one of the enforcers of the High Council and not one of Harry’s biggest fans.

Then Murphy and the police arrive to see Mr. Crispy and question Harry about him. He reveal’s Nicki’s name which turns out to be fake (her real name is Caryn Harris). Now there’s the problem with working with the police – the High Council won’t allow anyone to reveal the supernatural exists to someone who doesn’t already know which means he can’t tell Murphy what’s happening or why Harry should be involved.

They search her house and find a man in it who has super strength, the ability to burn Harry’s drumstick/wand to ash and the ability to lock Murphy in a room. He is looking for a chain but is chased off before he reveals more.

Lab work shows no accelerant or explosives were used on Mr. Crispy and that he was hit by a 900 degree blastwave – akin to a jet engine. They also find finger prints of her boyfriend in her flat, Matthew Jacobs – a thief known to the police. Harry gets lots of awkwards, unproductive questioning with Murphy and Caryn

Dresden does a little spell on Mr. Crispy to reveal that he’s not Matthew Jacobs or even human – he’s a Hellion as he tells Morgan when he shows up. Morgan isn’t surprised tells him about Sirota (a hellspawn that corrupts souls and creates new Hellions) – the man Harry fought at Caryn’s flat.

Next stop, a visit to Sirota and a little epiphany – Matthew Jacobs is the one who sold his soul to Sirtoa to become hellspawn – but the Chain of Sin that controls them and binds them to Sirota has been stolen, which also means he’s an uncontrolled Hellion unrestricted by treaties, accords etc.

Despite this harry refuses to deal with Sirota and is Most Unamused by the High Council’s willingness to do so. But Caryn has been “rescued” from prison which leads to more awkward conversation with Murphy since he can’t reveal anything to her. All his activity doesn’t impress Bob much either – who thinks he should let the whole thing go.

He doesn’t of course and we have a nice confrontation with Harry, Caryn and Matthew and a hockey stick. Yes, a hockey stick, I think it may supposed to be a wizard’s staff. This programme seems to get its props from Wal Mart. Anyway, bitterness about the props aside, harry ends up unconscious (should have got a decent staff, Harry).

Waking up with Bob trying to talk him out of being a hero, some hints that Matthew has a conscience and recognising where the burn on Mr. Crispy’s hand comes from – the door handle of a church. Holy ground burns hellions which is where he finds the Chain and a lecturing nun.

And, predictably, Bob reveals the truth of the ritual Matthew was casting – it was to turn him human again and return his soul. And, of course, Harry has the chain because there’s no way he would make a deal with Sirota. Using a special summoning they call Matthew to take a visit – and yes, he does love Caryn – but he fears that Sirota will hunt down Matthew and Caryn.

Face Off: Best Bro Team

'Bromance' photo (c) 2008, oFace Killah - license:

Aidan and Josh from Being Human U.S

Aidan and Josh first meet in an alley after Josh is beaten up by a couple of werewolves.  They quickly decide to try and live like humans and rent a house together.  What they don’t plan on is the house they choose to rent being haunted.  Annie becomes the third wheel between Aidan and Josh.  Though the show is sold to the viewing public as an ensemble cast, much of the previous season two saw Josh and Aidan coming together to help and support each other while Sally was pretty much forced to deal with her issues alone.

There were plenty of disgusting male bonding moments this past season to help cement their friendship, like Josh deciding to congratulate Aidan on the fact that they were both going upstairs to get laid and Aidan pulling the whole bros before hoe’s routine when he decided to dump Julia after learning that she was Josh’s ex fiancée.  Like all true male friends they have difficulty expressing their feelings for each other but both did manage to tear up briefly when Aidan decided to run from the vampires.

Damon and Stefan Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries

Unlike many of the couples in this face off, Damon and Stefan are actually brothers. When Damon first arrived in mystic falls, Stefan saw him as pure evil and even went as far as to lock him in the cellar and take away his magic sunlight ring.  The animosity between the two began when they both fell in love with the same woman.  Proving that these two are incapable of finding separate partners, they are once again fighting over the same woman.  Damon continually mocks Stefan for his desire to avoid blood and the rejection of his vampire nature, while Stefan attacks Damon for being a loose cannon.  The brothers are constantly at each other’s throats and have at times had physical altercations but the moment an outsider threatens then all of a sudden it becomes I lurve you forevah because we are brothers.  There is nothing that Damon or Stefan would not risk for each other, that is when they are not fighting over Elena.

Damon and Alaric: The Vampire Diaries

The unwritten code of the bro-team requires one always to forgive the actions of one’s bro. And could there be greater forgiveness then forgiving your bro for murdering you? Ok, they had a little down time for a while, it was barely a speed bump in their friendship. That’s a high bar set there.

And, of course, these 2 engage in the most manly of bonding - drinking copious amounts of alcohol. In fact, have we ever seen these 2 together in a scene when they haven’t got either a drink or a stake in hand? Despite being somewhat of a bit character originally, it’s now impossible to imagine Damon without Alaric - where would he be without Alaric to snark to?

In the latest season they even have a hobby in common - random, motiveless murder! This joins their other hobbies of whittling, trying to convince Elena not to be irredeemably foolish (they fail) and having the worst possible taste in women.

Jason Stackhouse and Andy Bellefleur from True Blood

Jason and Andy tend to function like a modern day Laurel and Hardy.  They first began to team up in season two of True Blood when Bon Temps was threatened by the maenad. Andy and Jason were one of the few who remained uninfected.  Even in a time of peril however, Jason took time to point out that Andy was jealous of his sex appeal.  Though Andy sort of blunders through his job, clearly Jason has a level of respect for him because he quickly develops a desire to become a cop, which Andy actually helps him to fulfill, despite his best instincts. Interestingly enough, when Andy who was the straight man in that relationship falls off the rails due to his addiction to V [vampire blood] it is Jason who attempts to keep him in line while the rest of the town simply wishes for Andy to disappear.  To be honest neither of the two of them are very bright and combined they still don’t equal one intelligent person but somehow they get by.