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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Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (Flash Impressions)

Happy Saturday!

Fool_Moon

Summary

I’m going to do my best Alex Jones impersonation and start with an apology: “I’m sorry 

alex jones 2

Surprisingly relevant Alex Jones meme.

but if I’ve been sucking Jim Butcher’s dick for the last several weeks then this is the point where I have to pull out and spit a bit.  I started this flash impressions series with Grave Peril because I have access to the audio-books of all the series sans book one and two which I have visual versions. At the time of beginning this series, I was listening to Grave Peril whilst reading Fool Moon and had already read Storm Front (of which I may or may not cover, I haven’t decided yet).  I thought I was going to finish Fool Moon soon after Grave Peril. But I didn’t. Then I finished Summer Knight and thought I was gonna be done with Fool Moon soon. But I didn’t. The pattern repeats until I have literally read 5 books in the time it took me to finish Fool Moon. I’m a slow reader but that wasn’t the issue here.

 

I know everyone I’ve talked to says that the first two books in the series are “meh” which is so well established that Jim Butcher himself has an introduction on the audio-book version of Grave Peril acknowledging his awareness that the series didn’t “really pick up speed” until [Grave Peril].”  Since I started the series so late (my first book was Skin Game and I detail the rest of my non-chronological experience in my post about Grave Peril, I had a lot of trouble understanding this wild concept that there were “meh” Dresden Files books, but in the face of the truth I was forced to believe.

I haven’t been looking forward to this one, folks but in the name of [at least semi-] completionism this one is necessary but more importantly I think it’s necessary for the sake of understanding: what changed from Grave Peril on that was so different in original books?

A Story: Why is Kim Delaney looking for information on a set of 3 magical circles?

B Story: Who’s going around killing people during the Full Moon?

C Story: What does Marcone have to do with everything?

Thoughts

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

So my primary thought about this book is the strength of the “A, B, C story” format that I’ve noticed that Butcher uses.  The trend I’m noticing is that the A Story is usually a continuation of a story line from a previous book which links this book to the rest of the series and the B and C stories are intimately linked and lay the groundwork for future books’ A Stories.  I realise that Fool Moon was Butcher’s second book, like ever, and as a fellow writer I’m aware of how rough things can be in the beginning however I felt the strength of the A Story could have been maintained if he kept Kim Delaney as Dresden’s apprentice until maybe Death Masks so we’re able to develop a real relationship with them as a partnership. My thought was that Butcher could have her killed by Nicodemus or one of the Denarians whilst running a lead behind Dresden’s back in a way to try and be helpful, that way we can really pull out Dresden’s senses of loss.  Book 3 he loses his girlfriend Susan, Book 4 he loses his long-lost-thought-dead first love Elaine, then by the time we get to book 5 Dresden is pretty heart broken and has grown a sort of affection towards his apprentice through sheer bonding (and maybe she always had a crush on him or something) so when we lose her to the Denarians not only does it cement in our mind that Dresden has to be emotionally fucking broken but now Harry has a FIERY HOT HATE for the Denarians which would raise the stakes with everything that eventually happens with Dresden and his accidental relationship with Lasciel.  This would also help reinforce Harry’s reluctance to take Molly under as an apprentice AND reinforce his extreme reluctance to take her as a lover (despite his other reasons being that he knew her since she was a child and that she’s his best friend’s daughter AND Charity would probably murder Dresden). However such is the nature of the printed word: it usually could have been done better but it lives as is. As for stories B and C, they stand up well enough. They play the roles they normally do in the other books and that is apart of the formula that works so well in the Dresden Files books.

The rest of my thoughts on the book are kinda miscellaneous:  

-Detective Rudolph flips a bitch after this book which is okay in that it felt necessary since Dresden doesn’t have an antagonist on the police force after he and Karen kiss and make up. however his staunch non-belief in the supernatural isn’t explored up to the point in the series I’m at (currently reading Proven Guilty) which is odd because he was literally at ground zero when the loup-garou Harry MacFinn is LITERALLY tearing through brick walls and eating a lead breakfast.

I understand it could be a case of extreme denial via trauma of something he doesn’t understand and from necessity (it’s mentioned many times that if you’re at all involved with the police force and you start spouting off things about mystical beings or magic that you’re going to do time in the mental ward for “psychological evaluation” to see if you’re still “mentally fit” for the job) however they don’t say that either. I guess it’s just up to us to make those assumptions, eh?

-Harry is just so damn whiny about the physical abuse he takes in this book.  I’m not saying I’m some super-soldier-glutton-for-punishment-juggernaut or something because I’m not(1), but seriously there were entire fucking paragraphs where Harry is going on and on and on about how he is hurt, tired, and is losing the will to continue fighting much less living and it came to such a whining pitch fever by the final battle that I was literally struggling to push through the final climactic battle of the book.  Harry does this through the series but mercifully he gets much tougher and only mentions it at times when it raises the tensions and sparingly at that.

-The scene with Harry consulting the demon chaunzaggorogth is…strange at best.  I’m not really sure how I felt about a demon “putting on an act” for the laughs, then practically pulling out a pair of reading glasses and sitting down cross legged to get down to business now that he’s filled his “sufficient struggle quota”, then getting genuinely mad when Dresden sends him back? It all was a bit bipolar/humanizing for a demon-consultant compared to the other demons he’s dealt with who are usually more consistent in either being smooth until provoked or generally creepy in their cool anger.  

-Where did the FBI agents get their belts? For real. Dresden goes on about how only a very powerful wizard could have made these but that’s never explored in the rest of the book nor at any point in the series up to the point I’m at (currently reading “Proven Guilty” book 8(2)) are were-wolves of any flavour presented as antagonists.  In fact the only were-wolves we see in the Dresden universe are Billy and The Alphas who by the end of this book become Dresden’s allies.

Conclusion

“First is the worst, second is the best, third is the one with the treasure chest” is only 33% accurate in this first trilogy of the Dresden Files series.  I remember liking Storm Front okay which is a vastly superior (comparative) superlative to Fool Moon. That being said, I now know why the first two books of the series are so far disregarded to nearly be completely discounted as cannon however Fool Moon has served as an excellent comparative learning tool in my journey to experience this entire series and pick it apart for it’s literary quality.  

Anyway stay tuned for next week when I cover a much better book (possibly the best yet) “Dead Beat” because you haven’t experienced zombies until Butcher has done them up. I mean fucking Zombie T-Rex…awesome!

Footnotes:

  1. Honestly, I’m a bit of a bitch. I couldn’t handle getting my junk waxed without crying out in blood curdling pain generally reserved for people who are actually experiencing torture like bamboo shoots being tucked under one’s fingernails.
  2. ***UPDATE*** Okay now that I’m further in the series, they have mentioned once about “Where did those FBI Agents get them belts?” however as of Ghost Story book 13, not counting but I have read the first anthology “Side Jobs”, they still haven’t gotten back to that particular story thread, I recognise it’s not technically a plot hole since it is acknowledged but not addressed plus loose ends become a more regular move later on in the series as a way, I’m guessing, to build up to the “bigger bad” of the series, however I am keeping track Butcher

Abstract Realisation ft Wisecrack

Happy Thursday!

work 4 brains

Would you rather work for brains or do you harvest brains directly?

After watching a recent episode of Wisecrack(1) about the zombie apocalypse and talking with a friend about virtual reality I got to thinking about the abstract of a realistic mass social survival situation.  This Thursday Night at the Cinema, I invite you to consider this question and whilst watching: What makes life beautiful, the ability to survive against abject realistic conditions or the ability to create complex things granted digital abstract resources?

 

 

 

The Walking Dead: Why Do We Love the Zombie Apocalypse? – Wisecrack Edition”

 

I will leave this, admittedly abrupt, piece on another question (which I may also revisit in a future post when I have more time and when I’m not moving countries): What makes the colour of the flower beautiful, is it the colour itself or our ability to perceive the colour of the flower that makes it beautiful?

Working to have a comic ready this week, next week is still looking shifty with regard to regular posting with flying and the holiday but the week after is looking more solid now that I have my living situation worked out.  I am rewriting my resume and composing a portfolio and will be looking for work.  If you like my writing or think I’d like writing for a publication you like, please feel free to contact me.

Footnotes:

  1. I love wisecrack. No judgment.  Admittedly I don’t watch all their content but their “The Philosophy of [insert pop media]” and “The Hidden Meaning behind [insert pop media]” video essays are consistently on point.   

 

MC Chris is Legit

mc chris

Who wouldn’t want to see a cartoon staring this guy?

MC Chris is great. He’s a nerdcore rapper which basically means he writes songs about star wars, becoming a zombie, and robo-tripping on prom night.  He has been trying to put out a cartoon for a really long time now, The MC Chris Cartoon, but it keeps getting shut down and that’s deeply frustrating.  Check out the pitch ^^^ it looks really really funny.

Here’s a list of some of my favourite songs by MC.

Fett’s Vette – The first rap song I memorized.

I Want Candy – who doesn’t?

Reese – I’ve tried memorizing this song but I can’t even keep up with printed lyrics.  Dude looses me towards the end of the history of chocolate/peanut butter riff.  He’s just so fast.

MC Chris is Dead – Don’t let him vomit on you.

Pizza Butt – “Is it delivery? No it’s Digiorno, microwave it and put it in a porno!”

DQ Blizzard – I don’t even know where to start..

WiiD – He’s a big fan of the green stuff.

Older Crowd – “PLEASE PARK IT MARGARET, I MUST DANCE”

Kill It – MC Chris you are my hero

I realize there is probably at least one person who reads my tag line “A literary blog…kinda” and think “Carbs! This toon(1) leans heavily on the ‘…kinda’ bit.” and sure I’ll give you that, but you want literature? Look at some of these lyrics. They’re poetry.

I’m a devious degenerate
Defender of the devil
Shut down all the trash compactors
On the detention level

Take this stanza from Fett’s Vette.  Look at the alterations of “devious degenerate” and “defender…devil”.  Notice the rhyme between “devil” and “level”.

World’s Fair, Chicago in the year of 1893,
a man named Milton, a disaster outta Lancaster, P.
Inspired by the Germans and their chocolate making machinery
he invented milk chocolate or stole it from the Swiss, that’s history.

So Milton built a factory, and a town and a park and a school for orphans,
made bars and kisses and chips real cheap so poor peeps could afford them.What a great depression – Nine-Twenty, not funny, no money in the pocket,
‘cept Pennsylvania where Milton kept on cranking out chocolate.

The Mr. Goodbar and then a World War and Milton did his part.
Made anti-aircraft guns and sent the soldiers chocolate bars.
Meanwhile they had a ship in, was secretly dipped in peanut butter
in his Pennsylvania basement. It was so exciting, cue the lightning/thunder.

Name’s Harry Burnett, you can bet my ass didn’t go to Harvard.
Be hold up in a cup, couldn’t have done it without George Washington Carver.
“I was living the high life – champagne, limousine, it was a trip,
then I died of a heart attack – all for naught, I was bought in fifty-six.”

Now please fast-forward to the seventies, scientists discover Penuche.
Peanut Butter’s too oily, Pieces takes their part in the food chain,
and their name is commonplace in the latest interview with a lady named Witherspoon.

Or take the history rift from Reese.  Notice the rhyme scheme in the first four lines, shortening brilliantly shortening “Pennsylvania” to “P.” to fit the rhyme.  Notice the slant rhyme in the next stanza between “pocket” and “chocolate” and more so notice the use of the “f” sound tying the entire stanza together from “factory”, “orphans”, “afford” and “funny”.

It goes on and on and it’s not only extremely entertaining but a sign of his linguistic talent.  MC Chris is not only a rapper but also a voice actor and a generally creative mind. My intent with this post is not only to raise awareness of this underrated sub-genre of hip-hop and this artist but also to hopefully bring to attention the cartoon pitch that MC Chris has been trying to make a reality for over 3 years now, a pitch I am invested in being a fan of his work.  I know I don’t have the money to back his cartoon but I hope that in raising more awareness about the pitch that maybe someone of influence will notice the potential.  Besides, aside from Rick and Morty there aren’t many genuinely creative, funny, and intelligent western adult cartoons.

If you watched the pitch and liked it, share it (don’t worry about sharing this specific post, the pitch would get lost in the word vomit).  If you liked any of his songs or all of them MC just began his Ten Year Tour with MC Larz and Mega Ran and is coming to St Louis on the 10th of November at the Fubar off Locust and the tickets are really cheap (like 15$ cheap). If you’re not a St Louisian, no worries: here’s a list of his tour stops.

mc chris tour

Anyway I know most of my audience are aspiring artists or writers so if nothing else, take a bit of advice from MC Chris: Never give up, Never surrender, Keep fighting the good fight until the end of the night. And don’t forget to check the ring, yo.

Footnotes:

  1. The proper gender neutral pronoun for cartoon or otherwise creatively created beings inc stick figures, animatronics, mascots etc.