Thomm Quackenbush, author

02.24.02 1:00 a.m.

Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.


  - Marcus Aurelius  




Previously in Xenology: This primitive plane is all that is real. The other world is a dream, where we are trapped playing out our fantasies... I mean, M and I went to Mid-Hudson Pagan Network meeting that were also attended by JeanMarie. I babysat Delaney. I took various psychology courses with Dave. I get a job working at a library with crazy people. The Archangel tells people that he is an archangel, fabulously wealthy, and a faith healer, yet he uses the public computers at the library to download naughty items.
Queen of the Damned
I just got home from having seen Queen of the Damned with Emily, Melissa, Liz, and her boyfriend. It was, without a doubt, one of the worst movies I have ever had the misfortune of witnessing. It was so reprehensible that Melissa, Liz, and her boyfriend walked out when the Vampire Lestat walked in sunlight. I wanted to walk out with them, of course, but M insisted we see this atrocity out until the end.
Now, M, Melissa, and I are pretty big fans of the Vampire Chronicles. But I am going to try to criticize this movie just as a movie, completely unrelated to the books (as it was, frankly). I have not read Queen of the Damned for years, so I was willing to let minor things slip. There is almost no attention paid to character relationships. As such, you really don't give a fuck that major characters - who should go on and write more books in the series - blow up (radically changing the facts of a work pretty much divorces it from the original). All of the vampires were so very ugly. You may think this is a petty squabble, but the point of Ricean vampires is that they are immensely beautiful and seductive. Characters who are crucial to the plot aren't even introduced. I knew who they were, but a thought is never paid to telling the audience their names or identities. The red-haired twins are not twins (Mekare is left out) and not red-haired. The casting was arbitrary, as the actors do not resemble their literary counterparts. The accents are terrible and ill-fitting. They ignore the history of all of the vampires, which contains important plot points. As such, the audience has no idea why Maharet is crying blood, why Akasha is so important, why we should care about any of the vampires, etc. They never mention that Akasha is the first vampire, and thus they can't merely chop her to bits or all vampires would turn to dust. That is one of her strengths, that she can walk rather fearlessly, knowing no vampire will harm her. So audiences are left wondering why someone didn't just lop her head off on sight. That's pretty damned important. The dialogue is ludicrous at best. A twelve-year-old could have done better. None of the vampires are the least bit likeable or sympathetic, when Lestat should be charming enough to intrigue the Devil. Character motivation is completely different (in the book Lestat does not and would not want to be human, he is never really alone, Akasha is killing nine out of ten men on earth and all the excess vampires to create paradise, the vampires try to stop Akasha so she doesn't kill more). The mythology of Rice's universe is changed (powerful vampires can walk in daylight, vampires can teleport, and all vampires can fly). The movie just doesn't make sense and I am sure Anne Rice is furious that her amazing book got so mangled (Melissa informs me that if they waited a month before filming, the screenwriting rights would have returned to Anne Rice and she could have written the script). The only thing the movie had going for it was nice scenery, passable effects, and a decent soundtrack.
If I had paid to see it, I would have demanded a refund. That was a waste of two hours of my time. I kept deriding the movie, with liberal comparisons to the hindquarters of various mammals. We knew it would be bad, but this was beyond reckoning.

Friends and Parents
At my age, I have started having friends who are also parents. This certainly has its upsides, because I can practice my parenting skills on their kids and get to leave at the end of the night. Sometimes I even get paid to watch the kids, which is always nice for a struggling college student (though, owing to decent financial planning, I don't struggle very much at all).
Last Tuesday, my friend JeanMarie invited Emily and me over for dinner. Well, initially, she just invited me, but when I told M that I was just feeling like skipping it and doing some work for school, M decided that I needed a night out and thus had me ask JeanMarie if I could bring her.
It was nice, as JeanMarie is a fairly open-minded and interesting woman and one of the Pagan-related people who doesn't annoy us. Her daughter Delaney was there, whom I have baby-sat on occasion and who calls me by my full name always. The problem arose that M and I wanted to hang out and talk to JeanMarie, but one of us always had to be appeasing and playing with Delaney. Four-year-olds, especially around company that they do not see often, are notorious attention hounds. So we ended up having to essentially baby-sit in order to be around JeanMarie, which was the point of hanging out. Delaney is a great kid, but we wanted adult time. (Which is funny because my "adult time" with other people seems to involve toys and cartoons.)
So, I am certainly far from ready to be a parent, which I doubt comes as a surprise to any of you. I have trouble committing to a girl I see a few days out of the week, I'm not ready to deal with a roommate that I can't kick out for 18 to 23 years.
I feel that there was another point to this subject, but I've lost it. If found, please return.

Dances With Bunnies
I am taking a Developing Adolescents class right now with a teacher I have chosen to label Dances With Bunnies. The class itself is remarkably easy, given that Dave taught me everything DwB would already (She was baffled when I asked if something related to Vygotsky's levels). New Paltz wouldn't accept a class called Child and Adolescent Psychology as being the same material as one called Developing Adolescents, so it is almost entirely review. I'm not complaining, understand.
DwB is very flaky. During the last class, she tried to teach us how to use the Asian energy healing art of Reiki and showed us a photograph of the aura of her fingers taken with Kirlian photography. I, of course, know about all this and don't particularly think it has much to do with the course description or educating us on the formative years of an adolescent. Yet it is such fun to listen to her lisping thinly veiled New Age spirituality at us. What a student learns is not always what the teacher is trying to convey.
On the Kirlian photography subject, she mentioned that she heard a lecture given by one of the only surviving members of the original experiments. I raised my hand, suppressing a smirk, and asked what they died of. Her answer? Cancer. Well, I asked, how'd they all get cancer? Kirlian photography. Ooooh.
We are reading a book called Indigo Children that states that a new species of children far superior to humans is being born now (sounds like Village of the Damned). They are also, by the way, the children that are killing other children. And they eat very little. There is a special book for the care and feeding of this new species. Think I'm joking? Click here. Fear, people. Fear.
She also has told us about the sweat lodges she has been to where a woman lost her identity and thought she was an otter (she swam up stream and had to be rescued from drowning), how she believes invisible alien beings are constantly around us guiding us (if we eat enough fruit, we can see them. Fruit vibrates at a higher level, you see), and there is no nature or nurture (this from a woman supposedly teaching me developmental psychology) because souls are eternal. I just watch her for the entire period and grin. The rest of the class takes notes on these subjects, evidently.

Bibliotecha
The library is remarkably hilarious.
The Archangel has taken to telling patrons that he is starring in a feature length movie in LA that will be coming out next year. Bear in mind, he is not from the mental institution down the street. It would just be funny that he maintains this patently false status, except people believe him. He has taken to giving autographing session at the library. It is quite easy to disprove that he is in a movie in LA. Watch. Where is he now? NY. Where is the movie being filmed? LA. That's more than 3000 miles. In addition, future movie stars do not spend their time harassing personnel at a public library to use a public computer to download programs and porn. This reasoning doesn't seem to occur with our patrons.
Of course, we still have our regular crazy people that I end up having to deal with because I am good with them. I don't mind the really crazy people, because I can twist their lack of sanity back at them. Such as Shoeshine Joe, who loudly asks our patrons to be his friend. I informed him that, if he really wants to be my friend, he would leave and stop asking our patrons to be his friend. He smiled and said, "I'm doin' good?" I smiled, pointed at the door, and said, "You're doing great." Everyone else in the library has trouble getting him to leave, so I feel like I have a valuable skill.
Then there are the normal patrons who, as I have stated, lack a certain degree of logic. Today, a woman complained to me that our movie selection hasn't been updated in many years and asked when we would get new movies. I told her we would get new movies when the community approved funding for a new allocation of movies, so she should vote "yes" when the vote comes up. She responded that she would not vote "yes" if we didn't have new movies for her. I stared at her hard until she left.
There is also a group in the community that does not want the library to move from our location near the bad part of the city to a new location with a parking lot and more space for books. Most of the staff, for this reason, dislikes them. So, where did they choose to hold their only meeting? In our library, of course. We had all of these people, who had never once set foot in the library, asking us where the community room was. All of these phone calls from people in better sections of surrounding towns asking us where our library is located. If these people were ever patrons of the library, it would be one thing for them to tell us that we cannot move. However, it is idiotic to say we cannot go where we could help more people and provide more services.
Then we have the people who will drop their children off in front of the library before it opens and not pick them up until is closes. We are not a babysitting service and, should a child get hurt, we can do very little legally. Someone could abduct one of these Lost Boys, and the library couldn't do anything about it. Given the community we service and the presence of the mentally infirmed, these are very real threats that are being ignored. Abandoning one's child everyday at the library is a form of abuse. It is certainly dangerous. All these kids do is run around, knocking down books, and throwing tantrums when they cannot play on one of the computers because patrons are ahead of them. It irks me to no end that some people can be so careless with their children.



Soon in Xenology: I try to make Scarf Girl my friend or at least learn her name. I tell you of my experience in changing my major.



last watched: Queen of the Damned
reading: The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer
listening: New Times, Violent Femmes
wanting: people to be a whole hell of a lot more careful with their children.
interesting thought: a child's life can be destroyed in two minutes.
moment of zen: creamy mashed potatoes with gravy.
someday I must: write more fiction.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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Works by Thomm Quackenbush

Anthologies

Find What You Love and Let It Kill You by Thomm Quackenbush
Pagan Standard Times: Essays on the Craft by Thomm Quackenbush
A Creature Was Stirring: A Twisted Christmas Anthology by Thomm Quackenbush
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