TIME Television

The Strain Moves the Sexy-vs.-Scary Needle for Pop Culture’s Vampires

Fear is back, when it comes to vampires

Graphic by Heather Jones for TIME

It’s been a not-so-fearsome few years for vampires. Thanks to YA fare like Twilight and Vampire Academy, vampires are now the go-to sexy beasts — especially male vampires struggling oh-so-diligently to resist attaching their lips to some lady’s neck. In the pilot of FX’s new show Married, premiering July 17, the vampire-fantasy trope is so established that it’s ripe for parody.

But the reign of sexiness in vampire land just got a serious challenge: The Strain, also from FX, which premiered Sunday.

As James Poniewozik noted in his review of the show for TIME, it’s “an oozy, disgusting vampire drama” full of “gross-out depictions of vampiric biology.” These vamps are meant to be scary, not sexy. So, in honor of the new addition to the vampire canon, we took a look at how some of our favorite bloodsucking shows, movies and books stack up.

TIME Books

Amazon Gave Panelists Talking Points to Answer Questions About Hachette

'Bosch' Photocall At MIPTV 2014 In Cannes
Michael Connelly (L) and 'Bosch' star Titus Welliver (R) pose on April 7, 2014 in Cannes, France. Didier Baverel—WireImage / Getty Images

Amazon Studios has provided its panelists with talking points should the matter be raised

On Saturday, Amazon Studios, Amazon’s original video content production arm, will present its upcoming slate of original programming to the Television Critics Association. That line-up will include Bosch, an adaptation of Michael Connelly’s best-selling series of books about LAPD detective Harry Bosch, which happen to be published by Little, Brown and Company, which is part of Hachette, the media company involved in an ongoing and public dispute with Amazon. The dispute has most noticeably manifested itself in shipping delays for Hachette titles on Amazon, but it looks like the retailer is prepared for Bosch to be another reason for consumers and critics to be curious.

TIME received a copy of the talking points provided by Amazon to the Bosch panelists, with suggested answers for questions about the show as well as about the Hachette dispute. And it looks like any attendee hoping to ask such a question is likely to be disappointed: the creation of Bosch the series has nothing to do with the book’s publisher.

  • For a question about how the dispute has affected the series, the suggested answer is that there has been “zero disruption in Michael [Connelly’s] involvement in the series or our filming schedule.”
  • For a question about personal feelings about the dispute, the suggested answer is “I don’t know the particulars on that situation.”
  • For a question about why Michael Connelly, who is also a co-writer for the show, is not on the panel, the suggested answer is that “scheduling conflicts” are the reason for his absence. (Connelly is scheduled to be at a writer’s conference in New York City this weekend, TIME has confirmed.)

An Amazon spokesperson tells TIME that panelists scheduled to talk about Amazon series — not just the Hachette-adjacent one — were generally provided with such talking points, which is a fairly standard procedure and not surprising. Talking points are commonly designed to help with questions that the participants may not know the answers to; the sample questions are not about creative matters but about details like the way the budget for Amazon shows compares to the budget for shows on a platform like Netflix.

Plus, the sample Q&A provided by Amazon is a suggestion, not a requirement, says the spokesperson. “We’re not trying to tell people what to say,” she said.

TIME Books

Don’t Worry, Brazil. You’ve Still Got a Shot at the Quidditch World Cup

Harry Potter and his crew cheer on once-rival Viktor Krum's Bulgaria

Brazil may have a chance to redeem their 7-1 World Cup loss to Germany—at least in the wizarding world. The Harry Potter fan site Pottermore Friday began live-blogging the Bulgaria-Brazil Quidditch World Cup, with updates from Rita Skeeter and Ginny Potter.

Viktor Krum, Hermione, and Neville Longbottom all make appearances in the updates from Pottermore, where J.K. Rowling released Tuesday a new story about Harry and his friends. While Ginny Potter (who has apparently chosen to take Harry’s name after their marriage) focuses her commentary on the skilled Brazilian chasers, Skeeter’s commentary strays more towards gossip about Dumbledore’s Army.

“Neville Longbottom is already on his feet cheering, even though nothing has really happened yet. Is he drunk?” Skeeter ponders.

And Ron doesn’t seem to have let go of the hard feelings about his now-wife Hermione once dating the Bulgarian seeker Viktor Krum. “Harry Potter is cheering every well-hit Bulgarian Bludger, whereas his supposed best friend Ronald Weasley appears to be gnashing his teeth in chagrin,” Skeeter notes.

Ron (and Brazil) may be in for a relieving ending—the Brazilian Quidditch team led 50-20 as of press time.

TIME movies

Watch: Here’s the Trailer for Reese Witherspoon’s Wild

The film is based on Cheryl Strayed's wildly popular memoir.

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Reese Witherspoon optioned the rights to the book for her upcoming movie even before it became a New York Times bestseller and was selected for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.

Now the trailer is out for the film, Wild, based on Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Starring Witherspoon and directed by Dallas Buyers Club’s Jean-Marc Vallée, the film tells the story of Strayed’s 1,100 mile trek to find herself.

Watch Witherspoon play Strayed in the trailer above.

TIME Books

Self Helpless: Why Do We Keep Searching for the Perfect Advice Book?

Illustration by Luci Gutiérrez for TIME
Illustration by Luci Gutiérrez for TIME

Like most recovering overachievers, I have a complicated relationship with self-help books. That is, I approach the entire genre with a mixture of interest and dread. While I am certain I can become a better version of me with the help of someone who has a research staff and a lucrative book contract, I know my relationship with the self-help book of the moment will end badly. It always does.

Everyone wants to be better at something. Right? Wasn’t this very country founded 238 years ago on the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of flat abs? I dare you to name someone who does not want flat abs. And yet they are so difficult to attain, unless you are an Olympic swimmer or under the age of 10.

This is the problem with self-help generally: real change is hard. So while you could fill whole libraries with the books that have been published in an effort to help us all get flat abs, when it comes to said books, there’s no such thing as strength in numbers. There is only strength in crunches, planks and other core exercises you probably wish didn’t exist. But if you are a recovering overachiever, the drive for self-improvement remains so persistent that it creates a selective memory in which all failed attempts at effectively using self-help books–to attain flat abs or to do just about anything else–are magically erased, along with the pain of childbirth and the tragedy (for me and all the other vans in the world) of the Dutch losing the 2010 World Cup final. Which explains why, when Daniel J. Levitin’s The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload landed on my desk, I thought, Oh goody, something that can help me become a better me at work and at home!

After spending decades in consumer magazines, I can say with certainty that after flat abs, what Americans want most in life is organized closets. And I know, as Levitin does, that you cannot have an organized closet without first having an organized mind. His book is full of amazing tidbits, like the chart that compares the average global temperature with the number of pirates in the world. What does that have to do with organizing? Who knows? Levitin is a professor, and he easily summons up lots of diverting facts to illustrate how distracted we are. For example, he knows that women’s cortisol levels spike when they are confronted with clutter but men’s don’t, which gave me a fantastic idea for my own self-help book: How to Live Happily With a Man Who Doesn’t Notice the Pile of Crapola at the Bottom of the Stairs.

Did Levitin’s book change my life? Well, first I need a leave of absence from work to finish it, as it is 512 pages long. Which brings us to another problem with self-help: those most likely to own self-help books are those least likely to have time for self-help books. Years ago, when my children were small and the working-mother routine felt particularly Sisyphean, my well-meaning husband gave me a book called How to Calm Down. It sat on my night table for six months or so until I realized that what would calm me down most was less time spent awake. I do, however, have an awesome framed photograph of my middle son holding the book and laughing maniacally. So it was good for something.

The one self-help book I have ever been able to get through is Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, because the margins are very wide and half the book is fill-in-the-blank exercises, so the part you actually have to read is quite short. If you haven’t read it, here’s the key takeaway: when your child comes home and says, “I’m so mad that my math teacher took away my phone when I was texting in class,” you are not supposed to problem-solve or scold or, heaven forbid, call the school. You are just supposed to say, “Wow, it sounds like you’re really mad.” That’s right: parenting as parroting. Weirdly, it totally works, in part because it’s such an easy concept that even time-pressed lunatics can remember it.

As for the rest of the self-help volumes on your night table? Face it: they are dusty markers of inadequacy, reminders of the better you that will never be. They mock you, just like the fancy cookbooks with recipes for things like coq au vin that you will never learn to spell, much less make; the glue gun you absolutely will never use to DIY anything; the set of Rosetta Stone CDs for a language that it turns out you can get by fairly well without. Taken together, these little failures are all quite bad for your self-esteem. And you will certainly never get flatter abs if you don’t take care of your self-esteem problem first.

Van Ogtrop is the editor of Real Simple and author of Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom

TIME Books

Rainbow Rowell’s Landline is a Screenplay Waiting to Happen

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Landline by Rainbow Rowell St. Martin's Press

Landline offers another reason to get excited about Rainbow Rowell—even if it falls short of her other books

Rainbow Rowell made a name for herself penning last year’s funny and heartfelt young-adult fiction novels Fangirl and Eleanor & Park, the latter of which is headed to the big screen and has already been labeled “the next The Fault in Our Stars.” (As if a great YA novel can’t stand on its own.) Her fourth book, Landline, is the best-selling author’s first novel of adult fiction since her 2011 debut, Attachments, but the labels aren’t worth stressing: Landline might not have any teenage protagonists, but it does have all the pleasures of Rowell’s YA work — immediate writing that’s warm and energetic — even if it’s not her strongest love story to date.

In Landline, out now, television writer Georgie McCool gets stuck at work the week of Christmas while her fed-up husband Neal takes the kids to Omaha for the holidays, leaving Georgie to wonder if the rift in their marriage has finally reached its breaking point. When she discovers a magical landline in her childhood home that connects her to a Neal from the past, she has a chance to save their marriage — or save them the trouble and prevent it from happening.

If that all sounds like a great premise for an offbeat rom-com, you’re right — Landline probably should be. Reading the dialogue-heavy novel at times feels like reading a script that’s meant to be fleshed out on screen later. While moments of stream-of-consciousness narration captured the intense, messy thoughts of two teenagers falling in love in the excellent Eleanor & Park, similar moments and inner monologues border on repetitive in Landline. That’s not to say grown-ups with kids can’t ever think like teenagers (or vice versa), it’s just that these characters aren’t Rowell’s most memorable: Georgie’s back-and-forth fretting about Neal doesn’t have the same stakes when readers don’t get to know the couple or their marriage as well as they did, say, Cath and Levi, characters from Fangirl who felt so real and complete it’s no surprise they’ve inspired volumes of fan art.

There are other frustrations. Rowell has a knack for toying with readers’ instincts — leading them toward one conclusion for pages and pages and then suddenly and thrillingly confirming or subverting those suspicions — but one of Landline’s twists, if you can call it that, is too predictable to be truly satisfying. The novel also sets out to explore a number of worthwhile questions, like whether Georgie can achieve the oh-so-elusive work-life balance, but instead of answering them all, it leaves a few hanging.

Despite these complaints, though, Landline won’t do much to diminish enthusiasm for Rowell or her upcoming projects. When the author announced she’d be handling the screenplay for the Eleanor & Park movie, Rowell was up for the challenge. “I have never written a screenplay” she told MTV, “but I had never written a book before I wrote a book. I’m going to do my best.” If Landline is any indication, she has little to worry about. The book’s most enjoyable moments — like the quippy banter between Georgie and her family — are the same ones most deserving of a screen adaptation.

TIME Television

George R.R. Martin Has a Message For Anyone Who Thinks He Won’t Finish A Song of Ice and Fire: “F**k You”

George R.R. Martin at the "Game Of Thrones" Panel - Comic-Con International 2013
Wrtier George R.R. Martin speaks onstage during the "Game Of Thrones" panel during Comic-Con International 2013 on July 19, 2013 in San Diego, California. Albert L. Ortega—Getty Images

The author said he finds the question offensive — and punctuated his remarks with a middle finger

For all the endless hand-wringing from Game of Thrones fans — and there’s plenty of it — the greatest common concern is that author George R.R. Martin won’t finish all of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels. Martin is 65 and he’s not known for his fitness; add to that Martin’s slowed writing pace and a seemingly endless string of publicity obligations for HBO, and it’s not too much of a stretch to understand why Thrones fanatics have some doubts.

Martin has mostly remained quiet on the subject, but in an interview with Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger this week, he issued a Targaryen-worthy response: “I find that question pretty offensive, when people start speculating about my death and my health,” he said. “So f**k you to those people.” The author even added a middle finger for good measure.

The Song of Ice and Fire scribe is currently working on the sixth novel in the series, which is slated for seven books — though Martin’s editor hinted at the possibility of an eighth book last month.

Part of the trouble for Martin is that the author only works at home, not while traveling or on the road — two things that occupy a considerable amount of time, not to mention his occasional writing obligations for the show itself. Of course, Martin need not finish the books for the HBO show to move on (and the show has increasingly diverted from certain of the book’s plot points), but it’s unlikely that fans — those of either the book or the TV show — want to find out what Westeros is like without him.

[Tages-Anzeiger via Warming Glow]

TIME Books

How Harry Potter’s Characters Have Changed

Check in on 'the Boy Who Lived' to see how his thirties are shaping up

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It’s only been seven years since J.K. Rowling finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but the titular boy wizard would turn 34 this year, according to a new story by the Scottish author.

Rowling treated Potter fans in June when she penned dispatches for a 2014 Quidditch World Cup on her site Pottermore in Ginny Weasley’s voice, but it was Rita Skeeter who broke the big story on Tuesday.

Writing as her gossipy animagus journalist, Rowling follows Dumbledore’s Army as they watch the Quidditch World Cup, giving readers a glimpse into their favorite characters’ futures without so much as a crystal ball for divination.

TIME Books

Harry Potter Characters: Where Are They Now?

Emma Watson aka Hermione Granger Getty Images (2)

All the updates from a tabloid dispatch from "Rita Skeeter," and some we imagined ourselves...

J.K. Rowling just can’t quit the Harry Potter series. The author penned an official update on her website Pottermore Tuesday, in the tabloid-esque voice of Daily Prophet gossip correspondent Rita Skeeter.

If you haven’t the time to read all 1,500 words of Skeeter’s breathless dispatch, here’s a quick guide to where your Potter favorites are today — and a little commentary on what characters she left out might now be up to:

Harry Potter:

It turns out that Harry is not quite a millennial. The famous wizard is on the cusp of his 34th birthday and his hair is actually showing signs of gray. (Why, JK? Why?) Potter has two young sons, James (after his father) and Albus (after Dumbledore), and —according to the Deathly Hallows epilogue— a daughter named Lily Luna. His marriage to Ginny is intact, although his face shows signs of fresh struggle. Potter has an ambiguous scar over his right cheekbone that he got while working in the Auror department of the Ministry of Magic.

Ron Weasley:
Rowling has proven that her characters really can’t have it all in the hair department. According to the article, his “”famous ginger hair appears to be thinning slightly.” But at least he is still happily married to Hermione with two kids, named Hugo and Rose. While Ron began his career with BFFL Harry in the Ministry of Magic, he now co-manages his brother Geoge’s wizarding joke shop Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. He also shows “no obvious signs of mental illness,” so that’s good.

Hermione Granger:
Unsurprisingly, Hermione kept her last name and acts as the Deputy Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. The mother of two also has to answer annoying media questions about work/life balance (and perhaps immigration law?). Even witches have to Lean In, I guess.

Ginny Potter (Nee Weasley)
Too old for nicknames, Ginerva is a journalist covering the Quidditch World Cup at the Daily Prophet. Start tweeting, media scene. She’s just like us.

Viktor Krum:
Still a Bulgarian seeker. Still friends with Harry. And our guess is that he is still in need of a good pair of tweezers.

Neville Longbottom:
Neville became a popular Herbology teacher at Hogwarts. He is married to a woman named Hannah, who is rumored to be on the hiring track as a Matron at Hogwarts. They lived above the Leaky Cauldron and like a good Ogden’s Old Firewhisky every now and then.
Editor’s Note: Neville may also do light modeling when Hogwarts is on break because LOOK AT HIM:

BRITAIN-ENT-CINEMA-FILM FESTIVAL
British actor Matthew Lewis, played Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter AFP—AFP/Getty Images

Luna Lovegood:
Luna Lovegood married Magizoologist Rolf Scamander, whose father Newt wrote Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We wish them well on their hunt for Crumple-horned Snorkacks. They have twin sons.

George Weasley:
George is the wealthy co-manager of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.

Charlie Weasley:
Bachelor. A dragon wrangler. Fan fiction in 3…2…1…

Percy Weasley:
Percy is the Head of the Department of Magical Transportation. Obviously.

Bill Weasley:
In spite of scarring from a werewolf encounter, he married Fleur Delacour. They have a beautiful daughter named Victoire who likes making out with Harry’s godson Teddy Lupin.

But of course, Rowling couldn’t get to all of our favorite characters. Here is our own fan-fiction guess at what some unmentioneds are up to right now (with apologies to Rowling):

Dudley Dursley:
Dudley is currently nursing a minor credit card debt due to excessive Candy Crush habits and Type 2 diabetes due to excessive candy eating habits. On the bright side, however, his temperament has improved and Harry is on the family Christmas card list.

Draco Malfoy:
Malfoy is married with children and works as the head of a ethically precarious division of Gringotts Bank. His robes are always perfectly tailored and monogrammed.

Cho Chang:
Cho is a defense against the Dark Arts tutor.

Molly Weasley:
The grandmother of 12 has a booming Etsy business for her knitting.

Moaning Myrtle
Still in the Hogwarts girls’ bathroom terrorizing witches about their periods (and just about everything else)

Rita Skeeter:
Rita will be a “journalist” until the very end. Although the Daily Prophet gossip columnist is currently under investigation for wand tapping.

TIME Books

Can Hermione From Harry Potter ‘Have It All’?

11/00/2001. Film "Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone"
Hermione Grainger (Emma Watson) WEINBERGER K./GAMMA—Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

An aside by Rita Skeeter gets at a pretty profound question

It’s commonly accepted that “having it all” — the catchall phrase for a person, usually a woman, having a fulfilling career and family life all at once — isn’t easy. Anne-Marie Slaughter famously thinks it’s possible, but not in today’s world. The CEO of Pepsi, Indra Nooyi, says it’s just not possible. Kim Kardashian, apparently, believes it can be achieved if you work really hard — despite any evidence to the contrary.

But maybe it’s even harder than anyone thought — so much so that even magic doesn’t make it easy.

In her newly released update on the denizens of the Harry Potter universe, which arrived July 8 in the form of a Rita Skeeter gossip column posted to Rowling’s Potter hub Pottermore.com, author J.K. Rowling included this tidbit on the life of Hermione Weasley (née Granger):

After a meteoric rise to Deputy Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, she is now tipped to go even higher within the Ministry, and is also mother to son, Hugo, and daughter, Rose. Does Hermione Granger prove that a witch really can have it all? (No — look at her hair.)

This is unsurprising: Rowling has made clear in the past that the question of “having it all” is one with which she’s wrestled. Rowling has said in the past that Molly Weasley’s lack of a day job doesn’t make her “just a mother”; that there’s a level of equality possible in the wizarding world that’s rare in ours, since there’s no question that both sexes can be just as good at spells; and that Hermione — who Rowling says is an “exaggeration” of herself — shows how difficult it is to live up to external ideas of what’s expected of a woman. Those familiar with Rowling’s pre-Potter days will may also see a real-life parallel, as she’s described her status at that time as “full-time mother, part-time worker, secret novelist.” As Hermione and her creator—and even the actress who played her—have learned, fame and money can make working women busy in a different — but still imperfect — way.

But, in a way, the answer to the question of having it all is buried in that snippet about Hermione — and the answer is “yes.”

After all, Rita Skeeter, in whose voice Rowling has presented her latest story, isn’t exactly a reliable narrator. Rather, she’s invested in putting Hermione down, and her proof that Hermione can’t have it all is one that Rowling herself has already countered. Hermione’s hair is unruly, and we know that even witches are subjected to unrealistic standards of beauty (well, unrealistic for non-veela witches, at least), but we also know that there are magical ways to fit in. A little Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion could make Hermione’s hair lie flat, but in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hermione notes that it’s just too much of a bother to spend a lot of time every day worrying about her hair.

If Hermione’s hair doesn’t match Rita Skeeter’s standards, that’s her prerogative — and that sounds, in terms of having it all, pretty magical.

 

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