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Friday, October 10, 2014

Guest post: "How I like my vampires" by Scott Burtness

Today the series on how people like their vampires and whether vampires are a metaphor for something in our society continues with a guest post by none other than Scott Burtness, author of the horror-comedy Wisconsin Vamp and mastermind behind this month's Vampire Books for Blood fundraiser for the American Red Cross. Thunderous applause and foot stomping for Scott! And now Scott explains where John Hughes films and vampires intersect.

"How I like my vampires" by Scott Burtness

How do I like my vampires?

Hopping.

Seriously, the hopping vampire from Asian lore and more recent pop culture is hilarious. Take a dead, rigid corpse, dress it in Qing Dynasty robes and baubles, stick its arms out, clawed hands grasping, and have it hop menacingly toward its intended victims. Not walk, prowl, creep, stalk, run, sprint, dash, barrel, saunter, amble, hoof it, mosey, or sashay, mind you.

Hop.

You gotta admit, it’s flippin’ hilarious.

When I think of the vampires I really like, and not just the,” Sure I like a burger,” kind of like, but “I love me a burger with Applewood bacon, aged Irish cheddar, homemade barbeque sauce and fresh-from-the-fryer onion rings on top with a side of tangy coleslaw and paired with a nice pint of Brooklyn Brown Ale” kind of like, I think of the ones that highlight the quirks in all of us. Reginald from Johnny B. Truant’s “Fat Vampire,” Joe from Steven Luna’s “Joe Vampire,” the earnestly blonde Harmony Kendall from Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series, and even unfortunate Derek from the movie “Afflicted” all shine a light on the unflattering what-if’s of being a vampire.

It’s easy to like the always cool under pressure, inherently badass, unfathomably sexy and impeccably dressed vampires. When you think about it, though, aren’t they a little too easy to like? Where’s the challenge? Ponder that over a pint and you’ll start to glean why I’m so drawn to the misfits, the odd balls, the undead antitheses of their glamorous, blood-sucking counterparts.

I also blame John Hughes. And just to be clear, I’m talking about the 1980’s “Sixteen Candles,” “Weird Science,” “Breakfast Club,” “Pretty in Pink,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” John Hughes, not the pandering hack of the late ‘90’s John Hughes.

I grew up on movies that celebrated the odd, the unusual, the unwanted, the underdog. They were my heroes. Their struggles were amplified by their awkwardness, their triumphs all the more worthy of celebration because their odds of success were so damn low to begin with. Is it any wonder, then, that I’d look for the same off-kilter but still redeeming characteristics in vampires? Nope.

Are vampires metaphors?

Sure. They’re also similes, analogies, wrapped in antonyms, rife with idioms, swathed in symbolism and allergic to homilies. Depending on the vampire, they can represent our greatest hopes, our darkest fears, and even our most twisted desires. They can serve us an extra scoop of moral fiber, or follow a moral compass that spins more than a coked-up DJ. No matter what kind of role model you’re looking for, there’s a vampire that fits the bill. It’s part of why I was excited to write “Wisconsin Vamp.” Writing about Herb Knudsen, a bowling truck stop diner cook in Wisconsin turned vampire, gave me a chance to gaze at the myriad of things vampires can represent through the bottom of a beer mug.

Poor Herb. The guy can’t even spell metaphor, but even he will hopefully become a role model for some impressionable schlub out there.

You can connect with Scott on Twitter, Facebook and GoodreadsHis book is available in paperback and ebook formats on Amazon. Be sure to also check out Vampire Books for Blood on Facebook and at the Twitter hashtag #VampBooks4Blood!

1 comment:

  1. This is a great article, Scott. We don't usually think of the odd ball vampires. I have a few books to add to my TBR now. :D

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