September 3, 2014 by Heather
Oh, hello there and good morning. Love You to Death – Season 5: The Unofficial Companion to The Vampire Diaries is out October 1st – where did this year go? oh, right, Crissy and I were writing the book – and our most excellent publisher, ECW Press, is giving away 10 copies via GoodReads. Who doesn’t love free stuff? Get on that.
On a personal note, I’m particularly excited about LYTD5 hitting shelves in less than four weeks because the sheer amount of behind the scenes information and personality included in this volume is downright overwhelming. Crissy and I continue to be humbled by Team TVD’s process and generosity. Even if season five wasn’t your favorite, I guarantee you’ll come away from LYTD5′s interviews with bucketloads of insight and new info. So, you know, buy our book, purdy please?
July 9, 2014 by Heather
Mix Title: Melancholia – A Black Celebration
1. Depeche Mode “Black Celebration”
2. Blur “Death of a Party”
3. Portishead “Mysterons”
4. Lush “Light from a Dead Star”
5. Bauhaus “Who Killed Mr. Moonlight?”
6. Kristin Hersh “Your Ghost (feat. Michael Stipe)”
7. Cranes “Lilies”
8. Mazzy Star “Roseblood”
9. Tori Amos “Blood Roses”
10. Jack Logan “Shrunken Head”
11. Rasputina “Transylvanian Concubine”
12. Black Atmosphere “Muscle in Plastic” (Bauhaus cover)
1. Depeche Mode “One Caress”
2. Annie Lennox “Love Song for a Vampire”
3. Duran Duran “Winter Marches On”
4. Duran Duran “The Chauffeur”
5. Super Furry Animals “Gathering Moss”
6. Joy Division “Twenty Four Hours”
7. Catherine Wheel “Black Metallic”
8. Yaz “Winter Kills”
9. Nine Inch Nails “A Warm Place”
10. Duran Duran “Do You Believe in Shame?”
11. Radiohead “Street Spirit (Fade Out)”
I met Molly when I was thirteen through a Prodigy bulletin board dedicated to YA author L.J. Smith. She was the founder of the first LJS fanclub – which had the approval of LJS herself – and would put together amazing newsletters that she mailed to members through snail mail, because that’s what you did to connect with kindred spirits who lived hundred of miles away back in the early nineties. For someone who is now exhausted by more than five unanswered emails in my inbox, I have no idea how we had the energy for the epic pen pal friendship that ensued, beginning with weekly letters and quickly escalating to giant overstuffed manila envelopes twice a week, decorated inside and out, full of 30+ page letters (usually with illustrations) and – yup – mix tapes, lots of ‘em.
When I met Molly, I was gleefully ripping off Columbia House and BMG record clubs with a variety of aliases. I’d sign up for the 12 free CDs – usually chosen based on a single, when radio and MTV mattered, or buying blind because I liked the album art – and then never buy a single CD to fulfill my “buy eight CDs” (at nearly $25 a pop) obligation, positing that I was underage and therefore my “contract” not legally binding. If my parents knew what I was doing, they never said anything, or they were in denial about their pre-teen daughter’s burgeoning criminal tendencies. But I was accustomed to sneaking my music. I was raised in a fairly strict Christian household for most of my formative years, so the music I had been exposed to up to that point came courtesy of illicit, late-night, ear-pressed-to-my-tiny-purple-boombox sessions with pop radio (Roxy Music’s “More Than This” and Madonna’s “Open Your Heart” were favorites), or dancing around to Cyndi Lauper and Tiffany in friends’ bedrooms when we got sick of playing on the Slip n’ Slide.
Later, in junior high, I had a friend named Jenniffer (two Fs) who had a pink and gray bedroom and lots of Esprit bags and not only turned me on to this new YA book series called The Vampire Diaries, but whose mom let us watch hours of MTV. She also had the Violator rose tattooed on her breast which I thought was just the coolest. So our favorite past-times became buying books on Celtic “magick,” wearing crystals, and buying bath oils with flowers floating in them because we thought we were witchy, and waiting breathlessly for another Anton Corbijn-directed Depeche Mode video to pop up in MTV’s rotation so we could sing along at the top of our aforementioned not-so-breathless lungs and argue which song we loved more, “Halo” or “Policy of Truth.” (It’s “Halo.”) Not long after that, I saw Tori Amos’s “Crucify” video on MTV and, at the risk of hyperbole, it changed my little vengeful teenage girl heart – but that’s a story for another time.
I bought a lot of straight-up garbage in my CD club days, like 4 Non Blondes and C + C Music Factory, and a copy of The Commitments soundtrack, because everyone of my generation bought that soundtrack, and that’s why you can usually find at least 10 copies in any used record store. I didn’t even see the movie until I was in college. (Turns out it’s pretty fun.) But a lot of aural seeds were planted, too. I loved Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World,” and The Wedding Album, and fell headlong into a full-on obsession that abated enough in my twenties that I was finally, painfully, reluctantly willing to part with my insane Duran Duran seven-inch collection. I visited my local video store to rent and re-rent their documentary Sing Blue Silver until the guy who owned the shop finally just gave it to me. And maybe I was in love with John Taylor, who can say? (Everyone could say.) I realized crappy British bands were leagues better than crappy American bands, and that I loved INXS more than Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Soundgarden combined. I contained a lot of strange musical multitudes that would eventually shoot me down wildly varied paths of discovery, and at thirteen, I now had Molly to drag along with me, and vice versa.
Molly and I started discovering newer and better music, often with the guidance of Sassy magazine, which we read as if it was the Bible. Sometimes, late at night, when I am overcome with adult ennui, I think about the fact Sassy existed at all and it blows my mind, but I digress. So many of the books and albums I devoured during my freshman year of high school were courtesy of the Sassy review section – Katherine Dunn, Jeffrey Eugenides, Patrick McCabe, Banana Yoshimoto, Magnapop, Adorable, Jale, Luscious Jackson, that dog. Around the same time, I was going through a hardcore David Bowie phase, which led to a T. Rex phase, and that all ultimately led to my local college radio station (which I eventually DJed for, years later) and hearing a Bauhaus song, “In the Night.” The next day, a friend’s senior boyfriend drove us to the mall so I could buy Bauhaus’ The Sky’s Gone Out and Weezer’s blue self-titled. And then I promptly went home and recorded them to cassette for Molly.
I still have all of Molly’s tapes, ranging from Enya and Clannad (who knows? We were babies) to Joy Division and Curve, studded with one-hit indie rock wonders pilfered from CMJ compilations and great, heaping handfuls of the BritPop we fell madly in love with (and still love). The mix tape featured above is the final mix I ever received from her, some time during my senior year, right after the release of Blur’s self-titled in the States. Molly loved Blur like no one else I knew, mostly because I didn’t know many people who’d heard them until “Song 2,” but her love was deep and true. She quite rightly identified “Death of a Party” as the best song on the album, and I still feel it’s a vastly underrated gem, full of dark n’ hazy piss and swagger. As a result, the song makes me think of her and being 18 years old and graduating and, most of all, knowing life was changing; that I was changing, and how much I had already changed.
This mix tape not only represents the end of an era, as we both became wrapped up in equal parts educational ambition and hormones, but it’s a retrospective of the best aspects of our fumbling towards musical ecstasy, my teenage gothdom, our friendship, and how exciting it was to check the mailbox when I got home from school. The music here is why I traded my Keds and stacked socks for fishnets and Docs, why I bypassed the movie blockbusters for weekly attendance at Rocky Horror, gravitated to stupid, selfish boys who wore makeup and played in bands and gave me handwritten letters. It’s why my girl friends and I clung to each other harder and laughed when someone yelled “lesbians!” at us in the school hallway, and why I still like to lie on my floor with big, fat headphones and blast music into my head that razes a few layers off of my soul and makes me feel alive with its utter bleakness.
I still know Molly, though we’re Facebook friends more than friend-friends these days. She made the permanent move to London after 9/11, pursued her career, fell in love, and now has a beautiful kid, while I married too young, moved halfway across the country, ended the marriage, and am trying to figure out what the hell to do with my life now that I’ve been gradually letting things go. Except this tape – this tape I will keep forever, because it’s a time capsule of that other time I found a new path. And it makes me smile.
My plan is to make this a blog series, featuring friends and favorites sharing their own mix-related memories, be it a tape they received or a tape they made for someone else. Buzz me on Twitter @dieslaughing if you’re interested in doing a guest post! And much love and thanks to Molly Templeton for suggesting I open it up to contributions. You’re the best, lady.
Category Mix(ed) Emotions | Tags: Annie Lennox, Bauhaus, best people, Black Atmsophere, Blur, Catherine Wheel, Cranes, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Jack Logan, Joy Division, Kristin Hersh, Lush, Mazzy Star, mixes, Nine Inch Nails, Portishead, Radiohead, Rasputina, Super Furry Animals, Tori Amos, Yaz
April 9, 2014 by Heather
About a year and a half ago, Eve messaged to say she wanted to do a painting for me as a housewarming present. I’d just moved into my own apartment, striking out on my own after nearly ten years of marriage, so it was a fresh start and she wanted to commemorate it – because she’s just that gracious and wonderful of a person. My living room walls have remained bare in preparation for the paintings I knew I would be receiving. Turns out today was that day.
I met Eve through Vampire Diaries fandom and we’ve known each other about five years now. Turns out I had been familiar with her much, much longer than that, being a devotee of a certain LiveJournal interior design community that Eve was frequently featured on. The thing is, I’m incredibly picky about what goes up on my walls, so despite having signed TVD posters and the like, those are put away in a safe place until I can get them properly framed. But, even then, I am much more of an artwork person, so when Eve offered up an original painting, I knew I wanted something fandom-related, but subtle – immediately known to a hardcore fan and filled with meaning for myself, but just something beautiful to look at for anyone else.
I chose a quote from the Vampire Diaries season three episode “Our Town,” and easily one of Klaus Mikaelson’s most memorable speeches ever. Then, as Eve was in the process of doing the painting, she knew I was madly in love with the scene between Klaus and Cami in The Originals season one episode “Girl in New Orleans.” So she did a second, smaller painting with more Klaus dialogue.
Please excuse my remarkably crappy camerawork here. Rest assured these grainy snapshots do not do the paintings justice. The colors are so vivid and rich in person. You can click on the images to see bigger versions.
Thank you, Eve! I’m thrilled to have your art in my home, and the rest of you should check out Eve’s blog, The Modachrome Home.
April 8, 2014 by Heather
If you know even a tiny bit about me, you know I’m a pretty hardcore Alexandre Dumas fan, and to say I’m excited about the BBC’s new TV series The Musketeers would be understating the amount of hand-flailing I’ve been doing since the show was announced. I’ve been meaning to reread The Three Musketeers for a while, and now my dear friend Kate, siterunner of Read the Screen, is giving me the perfect excuse to do that and share my ridiculous love for Dumas’ stories with the internet. She’s kind of the best, right?
In honor of the BBC America premiere of The Musketeers on June 22nd, Kate is hosting a Three Musketeers readalong. So if you’ve been meaning to refresh your memory on this French bromance adventure classic, or if you’re reading it for the first time and wondering why on earth it’s called The Three Musketeers when there are four strapping swordsmen featured on the books and posters, join us! Get the schedule and other details at Read the Screen.
I tried to break the book up at a leisurely enough pace that you can get through sections quickly, no matter how busy your schedule. Kate has the breakdown at her site, and we’ll be doing weekly progress posts so we can all discuss the gleeful brand of swashbuckling bananas this book dishes out every few pages. If you’re worried you need a particular edition, no worries – I have recommendations for the best and most readily available versions.
If you’re intimidated by the classics – don’t be! We’ll have fun, promise.
March 26, 2014 by Heather
Saturday night was The Vampire Diaries & The Originals panel at PaleyFest 2014. I’ve spent the past few days getting a general feel of the online reaction to the event, which was broadcast by Paley via livestream, particularly in regards to fan behavior. It bums me out that there’s a lot of negativity surrounding what I considered to be a very fun night, but I can concede that I was there in the room, feeling the vibes, so was in 100% roll with it mode. (I also had a jumbo cup of wine.) As much as I enjoyed myself, I can acknowledge there were problems.
I attended the first PaleyFest TVD panel in 2010 and this year could not have been more different than that initial experience. (That year, it was Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson in attendance.) Four years later, TVD’s popularity is well-established and tremendous and, as a result, the vibe of this panel was much less subdued. The energy surrounding The Originals was also not at all what I expected, but I think this was me in my own little bubble of how I personally experience the show. I mean, of course Joseph Morgan and Daniel Gillies should elicit that level of screaming, but that’s how I react on the inside, so hearing it vocalized was startling, to say the least. In this case, Gillies’ bemusement and graciousness as he walked out to rafter-shaking screams conveyed my own feelings exactly. It was awesome and overwhelming and gratifying to see these people receive the adoration they earned, whether it was the newbies of The Originals or the veterans of The Vampire Diaries.
In the spirit of complete honesty, I normally loathe the audience Q&A portion of any event because the potential for time-wasting and secondhand embarrassment is high. I understand why most events have and want audience participation, but I would not complain if it was done away with entirely in favor of solid, knowledgeable moderators. But I always hold on to a sliver of hope that there won’t be the contingent who uses their mic time to beg for photos or hugs or whatnot. (In 2010, a girl got up and asked if she could give her headshot and resume to Williamson. The backlash was swift from both him and the audience.) When even Ian Somerhalder, who might be one of the most accomodating TV stars on the planet, seems a bit annoyed at the touching and photo requests, that’s a real problem.
You would hope it wouldn’t be necessary to have a conversation about fan and event etiquette, but I’m going to put this as simply as I can: These events are about them, not us. There’s a certain level of interaction at these things that creates a nice give-and-take between the panel and the audience, but when screaming every time an actor opens their mouth drowns out the content of what they’re saying, it’s like a bevy of pop-up ads as you’re trying to read an article – annoying. Also PaleyFest, by nature, is not just about the actors, but the creators and writers and production itself. It’s meant to be a celebration of all aspects of the show and opportunity to hear real insight into what goes into bringing the show to our screens and the story as a whole. It’s okay to be excited and show favorites the love, but it’s important to be mindful that these people are on stage for a limited time and other people paid for an expensive ticket to hear what those people have to say.
That all being said, a good moderator can make all the difference in the world. I have nothing but the highest of praise for BuzzFeed’s Jarett Wieselman, who’s been a longtime fixture in TVD reporting and now also covers The Originals. It was apparent from the start that he was not only a true-blue fan of the show (you’d be amazed at how many panels I’ve attended/seen where it was painfully obvious the moderator had never watched the show), but he knew how to get the most out of the hour and the number of panelists. Every single member of The Originals panel had their moment, and this resulted in some deeply insightful commentary, such as when Phoebe Tonkin had obviously taken some of the unfortunate fan!hate thrown her way to heart and admirably defended Hayley’s motives and ability to grow as a character. Another highlight was Gillies and Michael Narducci discussing Elijah and Klaus’s relationship in a way that was like a new mission statement for the show. And then, of course, there was Claire Holt emphatically stating that we had not seen the last of Rebekah Mikaelson, which was a nice moment of catharsis for the audience, and Joseph’s playful-but-deadly-serious response to the Klaus and Caroline situation. The entire hour was a mix of that elevated discourse and playful banter, and it made me love the show all the more.
As for the TVD panel… I have no idea why a Twitter question about Klaroline was asked when 1) it had already been addressed during the OGs panel, and 2) Paul, Nina, and Ian were onstage. How about asking them questions tailored to their character arcs this season, and not just love triangle stuff? Frankly, I am tired of watching panels that don’t do anything but pay lip service to the tremendous job Nina Dobrev, in particular, has done in seasons four and five of TVD. And, believe it or not, there are fans whose interest in these characters extends beyond shipping. (And some don’t care about couples at all! They do exist.) A show with a mythology as rich and crazy wackadoodle as this deserves a diversity of questions. And here’s the thing: Every single panelist was trying to work past the pandemonium. They were all in a great mood, they were joking but willing to talk, but if you were looking for sharp insights, that didn’t really happen (not for lack of trying). It was, however, very entertaining to see the “Name a person who’s died on TVD” round play out, especially when Ian – whose character has probably killed the most people on the show – seemed confused on how the game worked, kept blanking, and Paul quipped, “It’s a good thing you’re pretty.” Hilarious. And it bears mentioning that Julie Plec pulled double duty, sitting on both panels, and she never ran out of interesting things to say. I love the actors, but I’d pay good money for a producers/writers panel, too. (Someone make that happen.)
That all being said, I do think applying a disdainful “screaming fangirl” tag on all TVD (or Originals) fans does a large portion of the fandom an injustice. And, frankly, those fangirls are a huge part of the base that makes the show as huge it is. If that’s how they’re experiencing the show, more power to them. As annoying as the audience may or may not have been at PaleyFest, and how we may need an etiquette reminder now and then, there was no denying that thrum in the room, and it’s important that the actors and creators experience that. And it absolutely does not discount how you yourself experience these shows if screaming cast adoration is not your bag. Do I get frustrated with the shipper fighting and nasty back-and-forth, sometimes in my own blog comments? Yes. Very. But I’ve learned that the most important thing I can do for my own peace of mind – since I’ve been in the thick of this for over five years now – is not to make sweeping generalizations about groups who engage with their fandom in ways I don’t, provided that engagement is not deliberately hurtful or illegal.
I feel that if I can’t justify what I like without trashing an aspect of what I like – “I like the Vampire Diaries, but the fans are nuts” is something I hear from others a lot – then I might not truly be enjoying that thing. And I want to enjoy this thing. Because while screaming over actors is part of the overall game, I get a lot out of the conversations I have about these shows with other fans. That’s my happy place. And there’s more than enough room in fandom for us all.
February 14, 2014 by Heather
Yesterday was a big news day: The Vampire Diaries and The Originals were both renewed by the CW, which is fantastic news, and Crissy and I were able to (finally!) reveal the cover art for Love You to Death 5, as well as who is writing our foreword. (Spoiler alert: It’s someone awesome.) In case you are wondering what our thought process was on the LYTD5 cover, it went something like this: KATHERINE KATHERINE KATHERINE. KATHERINE.
And we also posted an update about a possible guide for The Originals, which I encourage you to read if only to understand the obstacles we face in putting out these companion books. In short, it’s not easy, and a lot of work for little return other than our personal sense of pride and kind words from readers. Wanting to do something and being able to do something do not always align, sadly, but it doesn’t mean we’ve given up.
Hope you like the LYTD5 cover as much as we do!
January 8, 2014 by Heather
My friend Abby (who now has a blog at abbygrams.net, check it out!) has been asking for a (new to her) song every day since January 1st, so I thought I’d make her a wintry playlist of songs and amuse myself in the process.
Category Vital Listens | Tags: Ane Brun, best people, covers, Elbow, Jesca Hoop, M83, Mark Lanegan, monthly playlists, music, Neko Case, Piano Magic, Radiohead, School of Seven Bells, Shearwater, Soulsavers, Underground Lovers, video, Yoshida Brothers, Zola Jesus
January 1, 2014 by Heather
Conversation I had at a party last night…
Friend: Do you have an resolutions?
Me: Not really a resolutions person, but my friend Dianne does something I think is awesome – she chooses a word, like an attribute, and reinforces it in her life throughout the year. I think it’s simple and clever, so I’m thinking about doing that. But I can’t decide on a word.
Friend: Maybe your word should be “decisive.”
2013 was a challenging year for me. I kicked off the year with no debt other than student loans, and have finished the year with a car payment (after my old car was stolen for the third, and final, time) and thousands of dollars in hospital bills from two emergency surgeries. As financial security was a huge contributor in my marriage ending, I have been struggling with that uncomfortable and overwhelming feeling of being in the hole, again; a feeling connected to a lot of painful memories that I’d managed to distance myself from after striking out on my own last October.
I let those emotions get the better of me in the latter half of 2013, but the cold, logical side of me knows this is nothing insurmountable. I am still better off than I was two years ago in every sense, and I need to refocus on the positive. Strangely, this kick in the ass came about three weeks ago, in the form of an astrologist.
I know, I know. Stick with me.
But first, a side story (if you follow me on Twitter, you might remember when this happened): About a year, year and a half ago, I was at work when a customer grabbed my arm – a petite, older woman who was dressed as if she’d come to my store straight from a tennis lesson. Now, normally I would ask any stranger to kindly remove their hand from my person, but before I could say a word, she blurted, “What’s your sign?” Surprised, I told her Aquarius. Immediately she said, “Oh, no. No. You’re not an Aquarius.” Bemused, I assured her I was most definitely an Aquarius, told her my birthday, and all the while she had me pinned with this look I can only describe as shrewd. “Honey, you are a Leo. Is Leo your rising sign?” No, ma’am, according to a chart done many moons ago, I was Gemini rising. She seemed frustrated with me, and 100% convinced that she was correct. She said, with utter conviction, that I radiated Leo, from my hair to my demeanor, and that I should get another chart drawn up. I said okay, thoroughly amused at this crazy woman and the randomness of the situation.
Back to three weeks ago: I had an astrological chart drawn up – and, as it turns out, a correct one. Turns out Gemini is not my rising sign. Guess what? Yep, that “crazy” woman was right – I’m an Aquarius with Leo rising. Here I was, getting a chart drawn up for shits and giggles, and I was gobsmacked. All I could think about was that woman and her gently superior tone of voice as she assured me that “my fiery aura” was “all Leo.”
Do I believe in astrology? I don’t believe the stars predetermine my life, but I view this entire series of interactions as a prism through which I can parse out my own psychology. Sometimes you need a complete stranger to put things in perspective, whether they intended that outcome or not. The point is not that I am a Leo rising (though that’s fun to know!) but that my brain is nudging me towards this Leo thing as a way of going, “Hey, maybe these are the attributes you need to work on or incorporate?” Or at least that’s how I am choosing to interpret it in the New Year.
When my friend joked that my word for the year should be “decisive,” she had no way of knowing that the two words I was leaning towards were the Leo-esque “determined” and “resolute.” Yes, all three of those words mean the same thing.
I think that’s a good sign for 2014.
November 28, 2013 by Heather
Another year, another Thanksgiving. Looking back on the last year, I could not have predicted the huge changes that would occur, the opportunities that would arise, or the outpouring of love and support I would receive during one of the most challenging times of my life.
Thank you. Thank you to my family, my friends, and to perfect strangers around the world who offered a kind word when I needed it most. Whether we know each other personally or not, please know that encouragement has meant everything to me.
For those who are celebrating the holiday today – I hope it’s a wonderful day full of good food and those you love. And to everyone else I wish the same, even if it’s just another Thursday for you.
October 24, 2013 by Heather
As promised, I am writing weekly reviews for The Originals at Vampire-Diaries.net, and it only took four episodes to remember that I should mention it in this space. It’s a busy television season already!
I’ve added an index (accessible from the menu above) for easy linking, and will of course add new links as they go live. In the meantime, here are the reviews so far:
On the LYTD and other stuff front, there should be news of the breaking variety going live soon. Exciting! Keep an eye on LoveYouToDeathTVD.com.