Dead Beat by Jim Butcher (Flash Impressions)

Happy Saturday!

deadbeat_large

Summary

THIS IS IT, FOLKS! THIS IS IT! IT’S THE MOTHER FUCKING ZOMBIE T-REX EPISODE! 

Sue_facing_Chicago
I’m disappointed that in every “Dresden rides Zombie Sue” picture, none of them feature Butters in his polka suit. 

I have been looking forward to this book pretty much since I started the Dresden Files.  I don’t think I was aware that the zombie t-rex meme was literally a scene from one of the books but when my friend Brad who Introduced me to the series told me so, I have been deeply excited for it.  I figured this would be a nice contrast to the last post about Fool Moon (book 2) which might be the weakest book in the series.

A Story: The Black Court blackmails Dresden (via Murphy) into finding The Word.

B Story: What the fuck do zombie herding Zombies want with Butters?

C Story: Is Shiela Harry’s new squeeze?

Thoughts

(***spoilers ahead, duh***)

My primary thought here is summed up in the scene where Butters and Dresden are are in The Beetle and Dresden screams in pure elation to be alive and general horror of the given situation they just barely escaped.  This scene reminds me so strongly of the scene in Rick and Morty S03E06 “Rest and Ricklaxation” 

From here on out I will never be able to unmake the association between Rick/Dresden [the cynical type who understands the nature of everything] and Butters [who kinda knows about the nature of everything but has an unrelenting sense of innocence])

This leads into my next thought that up to this point in the series Dresden has been over his head every single book. However there has always been a MacGuffin or a piece of information that allows him to forge a piece of plot armour/weapon that enables him to survive. Though this is the first book where I was thinking to myself “for realz how is Dresden supposed to get out of this one? He literally threw a car on his nemesis and he didn’t die. And there’s like 3 more of them. Plus they can summon zombies AND ghosts AND corpse steal AND  mind control. Srly.” So for the first time in the series he is completely out muscled, out brained, and out magiced (is that even a word? Well it should be). I felt Dresden was so cornered I was getting sympathy claustrophobic until he agreed to let Lasciel help him, which is when things really change.

Speaking of change, apparently Marcone changed future history by saving Dresden’s life, as according to Guard Dresden was supposed to die by the ghoul in that back alley (which would have made for an anti-climatic climax to the series(1)) however now this makes for some interesting implications in the future. As in, will Marcone have to pay a price for altering someone/something’s “grand plan” and almost more importantly regardless of why Marcone says he saved Dresden and subsequently changed the future, a question is raised: why does Marcone keep saving Dresden’s life so regularly? Is it because he senses Dresden is a man who is running out of not completely evil options and will eventually view working for Marcone as the “least of his evil but necessary options” which would benefit Marcone greatly? Or is it because Marcone has someone in his network who is invested in keeping Dresden alive and by proxy Marcone is keeping Dresden alive, again to protect his (Marcone’s own interests)? Or does Marcone have another secret that wasn’t revealed to either us, the reader, or Dresden via the soul gaze? Or, speaking of soul gazes, did Marcone see something in Dresden when they soul gazed that fundamentally changed him/confirmed something he suspected about Dresden (since we have never seen the soul gaze from the perspective of someone looking in on Dresden but from the reactions throughout the series it’s something pretty goddamn profound).  As you can tell, the Marcone Mystery is really wearing at the back of my mind throughout this series.

At this point in the series Dresden has begun a noticeable descent into darkness: he has voluntarily used hellfire more than a couple of times, has accepted a decent amount of help from Lasciel, and has not only memorized The Word (a tome of dark, mostly necromantic, magic), used necromancy (even though it wasn’t on a human and therefore

the-bird-is-the-word
This is some deep shit.

wasn’t a violation of The Seven Laws of Magic and maybe the most notable/significant is Dresden’s promise to Mavera of the Black Court who incited this whole search for “The Word” that if she EVER threatens him or one of his friends again, he will not stop in the face of anything to become an Evil Overlord Demi-god and his first victim will be Mavera. This to me shows a crack in his morale armour making a specific exception to break everything he believes in to exact justice on an evil creature.

Speaking of dark magic, Cassius uses (or should I say wasted) his death curse on Dresden saying “Die alone”. However as Dresden’s father tells him in a dream, if i recall right, what we all kind of know after a certain point in life: we all die alone. Just like being born, or even life from your own perspective honestly, is a journey you have to walk in some sense alone.  Friends, lovers, family aside, we all have to live in our own personal cage alone the entire time. Sometimes we have company but they’re always intrinsically separated from us in our personal journey as we are them by the same bars that bind all of us individually. In that ironically sad way, we are all united in the fact that we face both life and death alone. So as pessimistically as it sounds, I am viewing it as an optimist that Cassius wasted his death curse on Dresden by “cursing” him with the infallible fact that the fact is: we all die alone and therefore Cassius changed nothing.    

Moving on to a brighter subject, the nature of white and black magic, is thrown in to an interesting new light when Kumori (Cowl’s, one of the Necromancers, apprentice) tries to justify Necromancy with her personal “perversion” of the black art using it to bring one of Marcone’s people who was at the brink of or beyond death back to life allowing him a “second chance”.  I don’t know if Dresden is convinced but I feel like his fundamental ideas about Necromancy has been challenged similarly as when he learned that his mentor and sort-of father figure, Ebenezar McCoy, holds the office of “Black Staff” for the White Council (ie he is the go to guy to “pervert” the use of white magic to kill people for the White Council, or maybe he uses Black Magic to kill, at this point in the series (I’ve read through “Proven Guilty” book 8 and some future books) we don’t know how he kills as the “Black Staff”. All we know is that it makes Kincaid so mad that he has an almost show-down duel with him on sight.

Whilst on the subject of Kincaid, holy shit: I mean the groundwork for it is laid (pun not intended) for Kincaid and Karen, in Blood Rites to hook up however it still surprised the hell out of me.  Mostly because when Dresden has used The Sight on Karen and Kincaid, he always sees Karen as an avenging angel figure and then at the end of Blood Rites he sees Kincaid as a 20 foot (6.098 meteres) fucking demon.  Talk about a match made…somewhere other than heaven. However maybe Karen is getting dark enough to be attracted to someone that dark, because if I remember correctly the first time we see Dresden use The Sight on Karen (by accident) she was a blazingly white and clean avenging angel but as the series progresses and he sees Karen again with The Sight, multiple times, he sees her as progressively more blood stained and worn by the horrors she’s seen and had to commit (because of Dresden).  This even more makes me wonder not only “What do other wizards see when they use The Sight on Dresden but what does everyone see that’s so profound when Dresden Soul Gazes them? Wheels within wheels…

The rest of my thoughts are kind of miscellaneous:

-I have to say I am really disappointed that Shiela turned out to be Lasciel in disguise. I’ve been rooting for Harry’s…Hairy…

bad joke

-Pro-foreshadowing: When Dresden is being attacked by the former Denarian Cassius “Snake boy” attacks Dresden and Dresden thinks “Gee right now would be a great time for a knight of the cross to show up and save the day” and then A WILD BUTTERS APPEARS! Which, since I’ve read Skin Game, I know Butters will become the next wielder of Fidelacchius or the Sword of Faith.  I heard in an interview that Butcher was planning, originally, to kill the poor little bastard in Ghost Story.

wild butters

Speaking of Butters, The Zombie T-Rex was made possible BECAUSE of his polka suit and because of Butter’s and his polka suit the “Best Dresden Contraption Award” goes to: Blood Rites and Dinosaur Sue (the Zombie T-Rex).

I really liked the Erl King and how he respects Dresden as a “fellow predator/hunter” and invites Dresden to join The Wild Hunt and I really like how Dresden turned him down creating, inadvertently, another figure who wants to kill Dresden but is so much of a background character that I can see us, the collective reader, forgetting about the Erl King until he pops up again.  

Conclusion

In conclusion Dead Beat was one hell of a fucking ride.  It was like a good punk rock show: hard hitting, fast as fucking hell, and deeply satisfying that you got out the other side (mostly) unharmed(2).  I had trouble understanding how Butcher was going to top himself after such a fucking amazing book but he pays the bill with Proven Guilty with a less “overly epic” novel but a book that my boyfriend described as a “more intimate book”.  

Stay tuned for next week when I cover the heartfelt, intimate, and at times troubling (not in quality but in the way Butcher makes you feel for the characters) eighth book of the Dresden Files: Proven Guilty or as I refer to it as “How Dresden overcomes temptation and gains an apprentice”

-fin

Footnotes:

  1. It would be annoying to see the series, with so much potential, end here with such banality. Maybe if it was me, sure a ghoul throwing a shuriken into my leg would end my story given my bitch status but this is mother FUCKING Harry Dresden.  Don’t try to a fly a pair of Hoover flags (“‘Hoover flag’ was an empty pocket turned inside out” source: Hooverville wiki) and try to sell me an early death for Dresden. He clearly has way more entertaining strife to come.
  2. For the record, I am frequently spinning one or many NOFX cds when I’m writing these/writing in general. If you haven’t listened to them yet, I’d recommend either their their concept album “The Decline” or the politically hard hitting and hilarious “The War on Errorism” 
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Flash Impressions: Summer Knight (Dresden Files)

Happy Thursday!

summer knight cover art

Alright folks, I’m powering through these books like crazy thanks to audible (this isn’t sponsored, however if anyone for audible is reading this I don’t yet have any sponsors).  I finished Summer Knight a couple of days ago and what a fuckin trip it was.

Summary

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

 

Basically Dresden is approached by a beautiful woman as a client whom we later learn is Mab, the Winter Fae Court’s Queen, about the murder of  who we later learn is the former Summer Knight. In the meantime the White Council is converging in Chicago to discuss the implications of the war they believe Dresden has started between them and the Red Court Vampires when he barbecued several of their members including a noblewoman, Bianca, whilst under the social contract of being a “welcomed guest” (supernatural beings, particularly the ones who live for very long times, are very sensitive to the customs of “host” and “guest” responsibilities(1)).  Dresden didn’t want to take Mab’s case but the White Council inadvertently pressured him into it (accept or die) as it would forward their own interests in their own war. Dresden takes and solves the case which leads him getting deeply involved in a war between the Winter and Summer Fae Courts and ultimately ends up, mostly, getting over Susan in the interim (or at least beginning the road of healing).

Thoughts

So we finally meet Elaine which for me, like a being who sees time as a whole rather in a sequence due to my introductory experience with the Dresden Files, seemed like a long time coming because I kept hearing about Dresden’s first love but had no context to who she was.  This seemed rather appropriate because, from what I’m told, exs tend to magically pop up when you’re going through a post-break-up apathy and you end up looking much worse off then they left you or something. I don’t know much about this since for some reason or another I never run into my exs.  

However I do know plenty about how rough the apathy of a post-break-up can be, the last one sent me deep into a downward spiral where I hit rock bottom but unlike the NOFX song “It Ain’t Lonely at The Bottom” it did hit back hard enough to send me half across the world on a journey of self discovery and generally trying to avoid having to pay rent for a while so I could focus on my writing and rebuilding a life.  I didn’t exactly fight an existential war involving elemental beings and forces threatening my life however the way Butcher portrays Dresden’s decent and first step towards recovery, I was able to relate in rather unexpectedly emotional ways.

This existential war between elemental forces, The Winter and Summer Courts, threatened the entire existence of life on Earth which Dresden playing a key part in helping to restore the balance lead to a line between Dresden and another character who darkest timeline memesays something like “wow I heard you helped save the world recently” and Dresden says something like “It wasn’t all that, it was more like stopped a 30-50 year decline of life via a disappearing winter.” Which made me think that if we live in the darkest timeline , maybe the Summer and Winter Fae Courts do exist and the summer court won because if we are in the darkest timeline either Harry doesn’t exist or is evil and would help facilitate an in balance.  

Conclusion

This book was excellent but it stands out in my mind because of a unique feature added to the beginning and end of the audiobook version being this classic piano detective noir background music playing which set a mood for the book in a way that nothing else done in the audiobooks thus far have done.  I’d like to see more intro background music but from starting Death Masks it doesn’t seem to be a continuing theme.

 

Stay tuned! I’ve already begun the next book “Death Masks” which is crazy.  With Audible I am crushing some books because I can listen to books whilst at work but no one cares that I’m “reading” at work because I just have earbuds in which seriously makes my job much more tolerable.  

 

Footnotes:

  1. I believe this stems from the Greek concept of “Xenia”, meaning “guest-friendship”, which was so important that somtimes Zeus was known as “Zeus Xenios” or “protector of guests”.  This is a reoccuring theme in Western culture from “Breaking Bread” at the Last Super to Tea/Coffee Politics in the UK/US (respectively).

 

Thursday Night at the Cinema presents: Patrick (H) Willems

Happy Thursday!

I’ve been thinking lately about how I’m stuck in a YouTube rut: I listen to the same handful of albums on repeat (Ramshackle Glory’s “Live the Dream”, Streetlight Manifesto’s “The Hands That Theive” and “Everything Goes Numb”, interspersed with NOFX’s “Pump Up the Valuum, Wingnut Dishwasher’s Union’s “Burn the Earth! Leave it behind!”, The Mad Caddies’s “Quality Soft Core” and “Rock the Plank”, and for some balance UNKLE’S “War Stories”, “Where Did the Night Fall?”, and “Never Never Land” [but only the first 30 minutes or so, for some reason I have never finished the album which has always been an unconscious decision]) and I watch the same YouTube channels (Acursed Farms, Film Theory and Game Theory [but only Mat Pat’s, for some reason I really cannot get into Gaijin Goomba’s videos], Alternative History Hub, and Numberphile).  Part of the reason for this is being a working father, family man, and writer doesn’t leave much time for much else (no complaints though, family life and love has been my best adventure yet).

Accurate representation of my music tastes.

 

What my YouTube feed mostly looks like.

Because of this rut (I mentioned before about refocusing my blog but my intentions, like my life, things don’t always turn out the way I was expecting) and I had mostly all wrote off all the other columns (unless someone wants to write with me on this blog, still accepting applications, all you have to do is reach out with a couple of writing samples [CONTACT ME PAGE], no pressure though but there are benefits(1)) particularly “Thursday Night at the Cinema”  because it’s so new and requires time, which as I’ve mentioned becoming a family guy has made me prioritise my projects dramatically.

family guy free time meme
This is the “Family Guy Transformation” experience

However I recently discovered Patrick (H) Willems, specifically I discovered this guy on a  Friday (which is usually my “work Friday night shift because, despite my [mostly] self-proclaimed talent and education, I STILL work in kitchens”) which when I work night shifts I have a hard time staying awake/productive through the day because my brain is like “Bro, you need to sleep until you go to work then stay up for hours after your shift”.  So I did my usual Friday morning ritual “get my son on the school bus, make my fineacee coffee, then eat breakfast before going into my office to ‘work’(3)” and I kept falling asleep to Willems’s videos but thinking to myself “these are douchebag brain memefucking brilliant! I need to revisit these later”. Usually when this happens I usually forget or don’t revisit because rut but this particular Friday I had an unusually, but not entirely unexpected, shitty Friday night at work and after getting home and bitching to my fiencee and my boyfriend(4) for a whilst about my night I went back down to my office to roll some cigarettes and I remembered Patrick (H) Willems’s videos and decided to revisit them whilst trying to unwind and I was GREATLY rewarded.

patrick-willems
I feel like this is an accurate representation of PHW.

Patrick (H) Willems (I will refer to him as PHW from here out) is one of the rare YouTube creators whom I feel deeply reluctant to call a “creator” as that term is just so damn vague but I would more feel comfortably refer to as a true “director, cinematographer, writer, and visionary”.  His videos range from the “TL;DR I have too much time and will explain [X] series to you” videos to original shorts that parody greats like Wes Anderson to original content like “The High School Reunion”. The guy is a fucking renaissance man in his field. I won’t lie to you and say I’ve watched all his content (because I haven’t) but I doubt I will because he does include vlog kind of material and honestly I visit YouTube almost exclusively because it is literally an incredible place to find young (as in experience) independent documentarians and filmmakers covering such a diverse body of subjects from theoretical mathematics (Numberphile) to people who over analyse movies/games (Mat Pat of Game and Film Theory) and literally everything in between (I wish I had a better example for “something in between” but again, rut; maybe Grickle?).

grickle
Gickle is fucking great.

In the following I’m including  what I consider a highlights/cross-section cut of PHW’s body of work:

EXPLAINS:

VIDEO ESSAYS:

PARODY:

I highly encourage you all to comment and debate in the comment section, whether related or not, about this piece.  Any and all feedback is deeply appreciated.

I want to let the three of you who regularly read this blog that I am making, slow but regular, progress with my novel.  I have the remainder of part one (of five) outlined so I can now make progress on the regular rather than flailing about anxiously without a direction. Now that I have part one of the novel outlined, I plan to finish the chapter I’m working on then I will begin drawing panels for act II of “The Adventures of Fin & Louie: Reluctant Partners in Crime”.  I promise I am making progress towards finishing these projects. In fact, if you want more and haven’t caught up on Act I of “The Adventures of Fin & Louie: Looking for a Friend in All the Wrong Places” you can view them all here THE ADVENTURES OF FIN & LOUIE.

Stay tuned because there is more to come.

-fin

Footnotes:

  1. I can’t pay you but I will write you an excellent recommendation letter when you do seek paying employment and you will get free promotional material, when I have money and time to make it (I have ideas but money is the main struggle).
  2. Usually includes a cup of coffee whilst I intend to watch a couple of youtube videos in my feed then write but I usually fall back asleep. Yes I do have a bed in my office because sleeping areas are surprisingly important to this insomniac (INSERT LINK TO INSOMNIA BOOK PREVIEW).
  3. Both my home and sex life is exactly as interesting as it sounds.