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Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook For Mortals, Chapter 6 The Moon or “Total Drama High School”

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The Handbook For Mortals publicity melt-down train seems to have finally derailed, sliding sideways into the station where it shall rest until the next big convention. Which means we can jump into the recap with both feet!

Trains have feet, right? VICTORY, MY METAPHOR WORKED!

The Big Damn Angel Rewatch S01E01 “City of Angels”

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In every generation, there is a chosen one. No, shit. Wrong show. What am I supposed to do, now? I guess I’ll just have to recap every episode Angel with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Angel is still a dick.
  2. Cordelia is smarter than everyone.
  3. Sex is still evil.
  4. Sunlight isn’t nearly as dangerous as it was in Sunnydale…
  5. …but its danger is certainly inconsistent.
  6. Vampire/demon rules aren’t consistent with the Buffyverse.
  7. Xenophobia and cultural stereotypes abound.
  8. Women are disposable and unrealistic.
  9. Vampires still @#$%ing breathe.

Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 5 The Emperor or “Dive And Blush And Blush And Dive And Blush And Blush And Blush.”

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The Lani Sarem “Sorry Not Sorry” tour has rolled right on into Vulture. Now, after the attack on readers and authors of color in YA that Vulture published earlier this year, I could give less than half a fart what they have to say about anything. But a lot of people who knew this story was being written promised it would be a good one. Writer Lila Shapiro doesn’t disappoint. Because the recap chapter this week is so short, allow me to pick out some choice quotes for you (although many of you have already skewered it in the comments on the last recap).

Her father died when she was a baby. She and her mother moved often, ten different states in Sarem’s first 19 years. Wherever they went, Sarem tried out for local theater productions and TV commercials, but all the best roles went to other girls. She realized that if she wanted to be a star, she’d have to write the script herself.

This explains so much, not just about the self-insert character she plans to play in the movie, but about her attitude toward other women who are performers. Women like Sofia prevented her from attaining the stardom she wanted, so they are obviously evil (as outlined in today’s chapter).

For about a decade, Sarem paid the bills by taking on entertainment gigs in Vegas and on the road. She worked at David Copperfield’s theater for a while.

So, for all those who’ve wondered in the comments, yes, she had practical experience working at a theater for a real live magic show. And somehow, none of that practical experience made it into her book.

“When I started writing, I really wanted all the things that I couldn’t have at that moment,” she said. “I wanted somebody’s love story to work out. I wanted this character to have all the things I was lacking, and then live vicariously through her.”

I suppose it’s refreshing to have someone admit that their character is 100% self-insert, rather than insisting everyone is reading too much into and they’re like, oh my gosh, so different. But this is more or less the same reason everyone writes fiction; they want to see something happen that didn’t happen, whether it’s a bullied high school girl using telekinesis to kill her classmates at the prom or a single-minded sea captain steering his whaling ship and crew to their doom. So, it’s not so much she wanted this stuff to happen to the character and she would live vicariously through the character. It’s that she wrote a wishful-thinking autobiography.

Thomas Ian Nicholas was also interviewed for this story:

Later, I spoke to Nicholas as well and asked what drew him to the script. He mostly spoke about himself, saying he was from Vegas and that his great-uncle was John Scarne, a Vegas magician who served as Paul Newman’s hand double in The Sting.

This more or less confirms, in my mind, that what we’re dealing with at the heart of this con job are two people who’ve lived in proximity to fame but never actually breached the barrier to it, thinking they have far more potential and cachet than they actually do.

The entire article is a gem and provides some dismayed chuckles from second-hand embarrassment as Sarem and Nicholas claim to have sold an impossible number of books at comic conventions, compare their scam to women’s suffrage (yes, really), state that three different editors worked on the manuscript, and insist that Nicholas’s star power has been the driving force behind the book’s overwhelming and totally valid success. But it all ends on a sour note; Wizard World has invited Sarem and Nicholas to all seventeen of their conventions in the coming year. Though they may have become infamous rather than famous, they’re still profiting, while legitimate authors couldn’t buy the type of welcome that’s being rolled out for them.

True Blood Tuesday: S05E02, “Authority Always Wins”

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Due to my stunning incompetence, this week got recorded with the wrong microphone. I could hear the mic and I could hear audio through the headset, but Audacity was set to record off the internal mic. So, I have so many apologies for the volume and sound quality, background noise, and metallic snipping throughout the whole thing. But I had such a fun time watching this episode and it felt so great to be back, I just thought, you know. Fuck it, we’ll do it live!

The file is here. Hit play when the HBO sound and logo fade.

Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 4 The Empress, or “Star Trek Season 1 Episode 14 ‘Court Martial'”

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In Handbook For Mortals news this week, I visited my local Barnes & Noble, hoping to get a glimpse of the twenty-three-hour #1 New York Times Bestseller in the wild.

I started in Teen Fiction, but I couldn’t find anything between Sáenz and St. Claire:

A bookshelf where "Handbook For Mortals" might have been shelved.

But obviously, a bestselling YA phenomenon with a major motion picture in the works wouldn’t be on the same shelves as just any old YA. I decided to check the endcap.

An endcap in the YA section of Barnes & Noble, where Handbook For Mortals is NOT displayed.

That’s when I saw the table full of “must read” books for teens:

One side of the "Must Read" table for teens. No Handbook For Mortals.

Well…maybe it was on the other side?

The other side of the table. I'm sure you're sensing a theme here, so, no, Handbook For Mortals isn't on this side, either.

As I did another perusal of the Teen section, I realized I’d checked in the wrong spot, originally. Clearly, Handbook For Mortals belonged in Teen Fantasy & SciFi. I took a look.

The Fantasy and SciFi shelf where Handbook should have been.

Obviously, what had happened was Handbook For Mortals had sold out completely. I went to the info desk to see if they could tell me where all their copies had gone. The guy there had never heard of the book.

Someone working at Barnes & Noble had never heard of the #1 New York Times Bestselling novel Handbook For Mortals? But what about any publicity being good publicity? This employee had no idea about the controversy making this book so talked about, and said no one had ever come in looking for Handbook For Mortals, at least, not while he was working. He told me he could order it and showed me his computer screen, where about 2,500 copies were available from Ingram warehouses. For a New York Times bestseller, Handbook For Mortals doesn’t seem to have that many extant copies.

Let’s head into this chapter, which is going to actively try to gaslight you before the end.