Stormy weather

It’s been a crazy week, weatherwise. Down below freezing in the early days, then back up to almost 80° and now we’re facing a fairly severe storm tomorrow afternoon that threatens to bring hail and, perhaps, tornadoes. Of course, this is nothing like getting 6-8 feet of snow over the course of a couple of days, but still. Good weather to “hunker down,” stay indoors and work.

Because I have no shortage of work to do. I honestly can’t remember when I’ve had so many things on the go at the same time, all of them destined for publication. I have a story due at the end of December that’s finished in first draft. I have to trim a thousand words from it, so there’s that. Another is due in mid-December. I’ve been working on that one for a couple of weeks, but I think I finally have a handle on its structure. This morning, I wrote nearly a thousand words at the beginning that launches it much better than before. I put my next Stephen King Revisited essay on the dashboard for when Rich is ready to tackle The Shining. I have a couple of other projects in the works that I can’t even talk about that much.

So I’m taking all of next week off from the day job to make sure I’m on top of these obligations. By the end of November, I’d like to have most of these well in hand so I can focus on the project Brian Keene and I are doing together during December. Time just keeps on slipping by so fast, though. It seems like just a few days ago we were handing out treats, but that was 3 weeks ago.

Very interesting to hear that William Shatner will be appearing on four episodes of Haven this season. I’m looking. Forward. To that.

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A Capitol Weekend

My second contribution to Stephen King Revisited went live today: Second Coming, my historical essay about ‘Salem’s Lot.

We had a getaway weekend in Austin. The weather wasn’t great, so we didn’t get out and about all that much, but we stayed downtown and had a fine dinner at the original Eddie V’s.

We’ve seen a batch of movies over the past week or so, too. First, we saw A Walk Among the Tombstones, starring Liam Neeson and based upon the Matt Scudder novel by Lawrence Block. It’s a decent adaptation, though of course Scudder has been amped up a little. Not quite into superhero mode, but a cut above the ordinary human being Scudder is in the books. It was an interesting choice to step into the series so late in the game. In the early books, Scudder is still drinking. Eventually he quits and attends AA meetings regularly. This movie introduces his Irregular companion, TJ, though he came into the book series sooner, and ignores Scudder’s companion Elaine and his long-time underworld friend, Mick Ballou. Some decently threatening antagonists.

Then we saw Rudderless, which is one of those films that you should not read about very much before you see it. It stars Billy Crudup as a man who lost his son and later reconnects with him when his ex-wife delivers a box of demo CDs of songs the son had written and recorded on his computer. He teaches himself a song or two and decides to present them at an open mike night, where he encounters another young man (Anton Yelchin from Hearts in Atlantis) who shoe-horns his way into Crudup’s life, convincing him to form a band with him and a couple of friends. This is William H. Macy’s directorial debut, and it also stars Macy’s wife (Felicity Huffman) and Laurence Fishburne, with Selena Gomez in a small part that could have been played by just about anyone. We were surprised by the reaction some reviewers had to the film. It delivers a hell of a wallop 3/4 of the way through that changes everything. It definitely provides food for thought, but I won’t say anything more about it than that.

We saw White Girl in a Blizzard, the story of a teenage girl whose bored and restless mother (played by Eva Green) vanishes one day. Christopher Meloni plays the father. The story jumps around in time, with the daughter (Shailene Woodley) coming of age and going off to college, only to have the past stirred up for her again each time she comes home to visit. She gets involved with the investigating officer (Thomas Jane) and gets naked a lot. I’m not quite sure what the movie was really supposed to be about. The ending comes as no big surprise (well, maybe a small surprise that shakes up expectations) and then it just sort of dribbles off into nothing. It has a bit of that Gone Girl vibe, but only a smidgen.

Finally we saw Magic in the Moonlight in which Colin Firth plays a pompous magician who also debunks shysters and frauds in the roaring twenties. A friend challenges him to find out how a supposed psychic played by Emma Stone is doing what she’s doing, so he travels to the Côte d’Azur to spend some time observing her communicate with the dead. It’s a Woody Allen film, perhaps one of the few of his that I’ve enjoyed, although it did have its slow moments. It’s amusing that Firth’s character is totally baffled by Stone’s shenanigans and even comes to believe that his worldview is totally wrong. The solution to the mystery is fun, but the ending is pretty much a foregone conclusion from the moment Firth and Stone’s characters meet up. An amusing distraction for a rainy afternoon.

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The truth is out there

One of the rules I’ve learned in the writing biz is that he who hesitates might miss out on opportunities. I heard last week about an editor who had a couple of open slots in a themed anthology. He was looking for proposals. Rather than dithering around, I contacted him within hours of the announcement. I found out this weekend that my proposal was accepted. So now all I have to do is write the story. It’s interesting in that I know better how it ends than how it starts. That never happens.

Winter is coming, or so they say. Current forecasts have us below freezing for 6-8 hours on Friday morning. So long as there’s no precipitation, that shouldn’t be a problem. But if it rains…

The accompanying photo is of the Sai Wan cemetery in Hong Kong where Commonwealth soldiers who died there during WWII are buried, along with a memorial wall (the building at the top) for all those whose remains were never identified. One of my uncles falls into that latter category. My grandmother had several sons involved in that war. One landed on the beaches of Normandy, one spent the war afloat and a few of them went to Hong Kong, two of them ending up as POWs in Japan. My father tried to enlist, but he was too young and his faked ID apparently didn’t fool anyone.

Yesterday was my 19th wedding anniversary. We had a nice dinner with our daughter and her boyfriend. The day before, my wife and I went to the “downtown” section of our suburb and saw two movies and had lunch on a patio (probably won’t be doing that this weekend). First we saw The Judge with Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall, plus Vera Farmiga and Vincent D’Onofrio. A decent family drama about an insufferable lawyer long on the outs with his father who returns home for his mother’s funeral and ends up having to defend his father. There is a lot of family and local history to unravel. The movie’s a tad on the long side, but we liked it. Then we saw Interstellar, which is even longer. It wears its 2001 influence on its sleeve, without that earlier film’s obsession with itself. It has some Doctor Who wishy-washy timey-wimey stuff near the end, but it’s a decent thriller with some fascinating set pieces and a moderately strong emotional core. Some of the science is as solid as a film can get and some of it will wrap your head in knots trying to rationalize it. Fun, and definitely one for the big screen.

 

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The Incredible Journey

I’m always fascinated by how my concept of a story I’m working on can change and morph over time. The one I finished yesterday is case in point. I agreed to write this story for a themed anthology. I chose a location. For a while, I thought I was going to write it in tweets. The max word length was 2500, so I imagined 20 or so tweets to tell the story. Sort of a “found tweetage” idea. I honestly thought that’s what it was going to be, but I never wrote a single tweet.

Instead, I picked two characters who’ve taken me on adventures before. A brother and sister who’ve so far been to Centralia, PA and Cheshire, OH in published stories. (A third story is on hold with another anthology.) These two have an interesting family story that establishes the baseline for these adventures. Some day, when I get enough of them, I might put them together into a collection. Anyway, the first draft is about 20% over the limit, so I’m going to have to do some slicing and dicing.

Several weeks ago, Rich Chizmar and Brian Freeman approached me to see if I was interested in being part of a project that launched today. The idea behind Stephen King Revisited is that Rich will read all of King’s books in publication order (including collections, Bachman books and non-fiction) and blog about the experience. In fact, the blogging part was King’s idea after Rich told him what he was going to do. They asked me if I would write an accompanying essays that puts each book in its historical context. Rich estimates that he’ll read two to three books per month, which means we’re going to be at this for at least the next two years! My first essay, How Carrie Happened, went up today, along with Rich’s introduction to the project. His blog about Carrie should be up in a few days, with ‘Salem’s Lot to follow by Thanksgiving. I’ve been working ahead: I have my first five essays ready to go. Check it out. Sign up for email updates. Comment on the blogs. It’s going to be an interesting journey.

I’m enjoying American Horror Story much more than I thought I would. The teasers didn’t do much for me but the story, so far, is decent. Glad to see Elementary back, too. The murder method in the first episode was a tad preposterous, but it was mostly something to hang the interpersonal drama off.

The episode of Haven that airs tonight is the one being filmed when my daughter and I visited the set in June. The scene we saw takes place in a house (a real house, not a set), and I suspect it’s from late in the episode. A couple of major characters are handcuffed together. The scene also features Chris Masterson, Lara Jean Chorostecki, and Kris Lemche. It was raining really hard outside during filming. A gully washer. I’ll be curious to see if any of that external sound is audible.

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This kid

I finished the first draft of a short story I’ve been wrestling with for a couple of weeks. It came in long, so some of it’s got to go, but I’m happy to have it down. I’ve known for quite a while how it was going to end, but for some reason it just took me a while to get there. Plus I was working on other things—one of which you’ll find out more about in a couple of days. Part of an ongoing project that sounds cool.

I wonder if we got a hint about what will happen with Jax on Sons of Anarchy. He’s always been obsessed by his father and now there’s an indication that John Teller might have run his motorcycle into a transport deliberately, supposedly to save his MC and his family. Does the same fate lie ahead for Jax? Even his strongest supporters are starting to wonder if he’s in control. And was I the only one who thought for a moment, when Gemma found the dead birds in her bed, that Abel was responsible? That kid is getting ready to explode and it’s hard to know exactly what’s going to happen when he does. Is he the one who is going to be Gemma’s downfall? Because Gemma deserves a downfall: everything bad that’s happened this season has been a result of her deadly impulsive actions. It was fun to see her squirm for a while when she was summoned to the cabin, sure that she was about to be executed.

The amazing child actress, Millie Bobby Brown, who played Madison on Intruders (and then something other than Madison) was a guest star on NCIS this week. She started out as the child of the victim and then turned into so much more at the end. The kid has a future. Ever since we saw her on Intruders, I’ve suggested she could play the lead in a feature adaptation of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.

I finished the first season of Case Histories, the BBC Scotland adaptation of Kate Atkinson’s novels. It’s in six parts, with each pair adapting one of her Jackson Brodie novels. They’ve tweaked things a little, moving Brodie front and center in places where he wasn’t quite and relocating everything to Edinburgh (the first book was set in Cambridge), but they maintained the sense of random and coincidence that makes her novels so appealing and charming. I’m glad they resisted the urge to tie things together neatly. Amanda Abbington (Watson’s wife on Sherlock and Martin Freeman’s real wife) is the DC who has a love/hate relationship with Brodie. The little girl who plays his daughter is a precocious cutie, and there’s an engaging teen-aged nanny in the third part, a Welsh actress who has this Billy Idol twist to her upper lip from time to time. It was good enough for me to get the second season. They’ll run out of novels in this one, so some of the stories must be original. Edinburgh looks very nice on this series.

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First World Problems

When my daughter and I visited the Haven set, we saw a couple of other actors that we weren’t allowed to talk about because their appearances hadn’t been announced yet. The first was Chris Masterson from Malcolm in the Middle, brother of Danny Masterson from That 70’s Show who was the cameraman on “Shot in the Dark,” the Darkside Seekers episode of Haven last season.

The other was Lara Jean Chorostecki, the Canadian actress who plays Freddy Lounds on Hannibal. While we got to talk to Emily Rose and Lucas Bryant for a while, and I got to hang out with Kris Lemche in the morgue, we didn’t get much of a chance to interact with these two as they were in the middle of filming an intense scene. I did get to say hi to Lara Jean when she wandered back to “video village” between takes, but she was concentrating on her work. Still, it was neat seeing her in person. Like they often say: she is somewhat smaller in person than she appears on screen.

We voted in the mid-term elections this on Saturday morning. These are my first mid-terms since becoming a US citizen. Quite a lengthy ballot, with federal, state and local items. We got to vote for the Justice of the Peace who officiated at our wedding back in ’95, though she was running unopposed. A guy named Sam Houston was on the ballot: how could anyone in Texas not vote for him?

I like to try new recipes from time to time. This weekend I made my first blackened dish. I found a good concoction of spices and made blackened salmon. It was really quite good. As a side benefit, I also confirmed after 19 years living in our house that the smoke detector really does work. Next time I think I’ll do my blackening in the back yard. With advance warning to the fire department.

We watched a movie called The Last Weekend on Saturday. It’s one of those “everyone comes home for the weekend and exposes their dysfunctions” films. Patricia Clarkson plays the mother and Chris Mulkey the father and Tahoe plays Tahoe. They have two adult sons, one of whom writes for a TV series and the other who just got fired by making a typo that cost his company $30 million. You get the sense that there’s something bad going on in the background. Are mom and dad going broke? Does one of them have a fatal disease they’re trying to tell people about? As it turns out, the big family “crisis” is that they’ve decided to sell one of their two vacation homes. Quelle domage! It almost seems like the writer is poking fun at this sub-genre of movies. It’s the Labor Day weekend, after all, not exactly a holiday known for family reunions. But if he’s taking the piss, he’s not doing a terribly good job of it. The characters are self-absorbed and unlikable, starting with Clarkson’s character, who is snarky to the max. There are some moderately interesting subplots, but it all seems too much like first world problems. Not recommended.

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Haven Redux

Back in June, when my daughter and I visited the set of Syfy’s Haven, we got to meet a couple of guest stars for that episode but weren’t allowed to say anything about them. Today, one of them has been named in an article: Kris Lemche, who was in the Season 4 episode “Shot in the Dark” as Seth Byrne, the host of the guerrilla program Darkside Seekers (i.e. Ghost Hunters), is back in an episode that will air on Halloween in the US.

Lemche is a really funny guy. We enjoyed watching him do his bit in the scene that was filming that afternoon. However, the unit publicist asked if I would sit for an EPK interview after lunch and warned me that Kris was going to “crash” the interview. And he did: he dropped in on me while the camera was rolling (we were set up in the morgue!) and sort of hijacked the interview for a while. He’s fast and funny and smart, so I had to have my wits about me to keep up with him. I wasn’t sure how well I did, but my daughter later said I was funny, too. I’m not sure if any of that footage will show up somewhere, but I hope it does. It’s all sort of a blur, now.

I was pleased to meet the other guest star that day, albeit very briefly during a break between takes, but I can’t say who it was yet. The actor is a regular on a popular TV series, though.

Last weekend we saw A Winter’s Tale. The trailer and cast intrigued us, though we knew nothing about it. It’s based on a Mark Helprin novel, adapted and directed by Akiva Goldsman, who I interviewed a while back for The Dark Tower Companion. It has Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Will Smith, William Hurt and Colin Farrell.  I’ve never been terribly impressed by Farrell, but he was quite good in this, which gives me more hope for S2 of True Detectives. The story is a fable/fairy tale with time travel and the devil and a winged horse. It has some cheesy moments, but we liked it well enough. Better than the 13% Rotten Tomatoes score might indicate.

I posted a brief review of Big Driver at News From the Dead Zone, which premieres on Lifetime tomorrow evening. Some of the reviews I’ve seen have been disparaging, but if you liked the novella I think you’ll be pleased. It’s a gritty and brutal revenge story and Maria Bello has a strong performance. Joan Jett, well, she tries hard.

I really liked Foxes’ jazzy rendition of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” in last week’s Doctor Who. The story wasn’t bad, either, although Clara’s turnabout at the end seemed unmotivated. I don’t mind that she’s sticking around, it just seemed abrupt. I liked the influence of Murder on the Orient Express, where everyone on the train was there for a reason, too, although the external shots of the train were a bit campy. Why wouldn’t it go in a straight line in space?

Good finale to Intruders, leaving a door open for renewal. It’s a strange story, but ultimately it mostly came together at the end. The little girl was the main star, in my opinion. She really sold it.

More bodies on Sons of Anarchy. SAMCRO is running out of places to bury them. I can’t wait to see what happens with Juice and Gemma. Surely Juice will use what he knows to save his life.

I got a big kick out of what happened on Survivor this week. Dude decides to throw the immunity challenge without having a clue how to organize a coalition. Worse, he managed to mostly annoy people so he ended up being the one voted off. Perfect.

I’m watching Hinterland on Netflix as I work out in the morning. A Welsh cop drama, four 90-minute episodes. The usual setup of the new cop with a dark history being dropped into an existing department. Small town crimes that are generally rooted in the past. Lovely scenery, decent stories, and lots of Welsh. It was even filmed in Welsh at the same time the English version was made. When I’m finished, I’ll probably go back to Hemlock Grove. I hear the second season is worthwhile.

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Burgundy — it’s not just a color

This is the nicest time of year in southeast Texas. It’s cool enough that most of the pesky critters have gone away. I can open my upstairs office window in the daytime and not be overwhelmed by heat or humidity. My wife and I have been taking lots of local bike rides. It’s nice.

Last night we watched A Year in Burgundy, which sounds like it might be a follow-up to A Year in Provence, but it isn’t. It’s about that unique wine district in France and documents the 2011 season, from spring through winter, to show how different wineries and families create their hallmark wines. We aren’t exactly wine experts, but we’ve grown to appreciate wines more since our trip to Sonoma a few years ago, so we found it quite fascinating. Though there are subtle differences in the way the vines are treated, the real difference happens after the harvest. Those secrets the vintners guard jealously. We grow with the doors open and ferment with them closed, one man said, which reminded me of King talking about writing with the doors open and revising with them closed. Only two kinds of grapes are grown in Burgundy: all whites are Chardonnay and all reds are Pinot Noir. French laws forbid them from irrigating their fields, so they are very much at the mercy of the elements. It’s amazing the damage hail can do to a crop. Timing the harvest is as much an art as a science. It’s quite a process.

I’m about halfway through the second season of Bron/Broen, the Danish/Swedish series that has been adapted over here as The Bridge. I vastly prefer the Scandinavian version. The main characters are quirkier and more interesting. I feel that in the American version they’ve forgotten how idiosyncratic Sonya is. In Bron, Saga is full-on weird. Completely socially inept. It’s fascinating to see how different the actress is from her character. And her “partner,” Martin, is few people’s idea of a leading man. Overweight, grizzled, balding, grey, woebegone. But he and Saga make an interesting team. The second season is about eco-terrorists.

I liked the most recent Doctor Who. It was a tense thriller with plenty of thrills and chills. The idea that the Doctor would step aside and let humanity decide its own fate was interesting, even if Clara decided to override humanity’s decision at the last second. I wonder, though, if the “leak” that Jenna Coleman would be leaving at Christmas is a red-herring. They certainly seem to be building towards that with her increasing frustration with the Doctor, but I wonder. This Doctor is much more disconnected from humanity than the recent batch. It’s almost like there was some kind of short circuit during that regeneration.

We’re caught up with Intruders, too. That little girl continues to impress. She’d make a great lead in The Girl Who Loves Tom Gordon, if anyone were to decide to make that movie.

Haven is moving to Friday nights in the US. At 6 p.m. Central. What a strange, strange time for a TV show to air. Canada still gets it on Thursdays, but a week after the Syfy appearance.

I’m sort of tickled to hear that Twin Peaks will be back, albeit not until 2016. My first thought was that I had to tell a friend of mine the news, because I knew he’d be jazzed about it, too. Then I remembered that he was no longer with us. Funny how things like that happen.

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The Old Man and the Ocean

I posted my review of What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe, former NASA robiticist and author of the xkcd webcomic, this weekend. The book is fun and funny and educational.

I’m back on my Travis McGee re-read, up to #8, One Fearful Yellow Eye. It’s been over a year since I read #7, but I intend to get through them all again eventually. This one I don’t remember as well as some of the others. It’s set in Chicago and is about an old friend whose husband liquidated several hundred thousand dollars in assets before is anticipated death, and no one knows where the money went.

We watched All Is Lost, starring Robert Redford, on Netflix this weekend. A guy is sailing in the Indian Ocean, hundreds of miles from anywhere, when things start to go bad. First, his boat collides with a container full of shoes that must have been washed off a ship. Then his electronics go out. Then…and then…and then…It just goes from bad to worse to worse still. There is a bit of “dialog” at the beginning, as Redford’s character, known only as “our man,” narrates the letter he writes to loved ones back home before tossing it overboard in a bottle. From that point forward, there is no dialog (other than a couple of Hey! Over Here!’s and an expletive or two). Our man does not talk to himself. He does not ruminate over his condition out loud. There are no subsequent voice-overs. In fact, until things get really bad, he is quite serene and placid. He even shaves at one point. But this is a taut, tense drama, man vs. nature more than anything else, but survival at its utmost. Highly recommended.

Yesterday we saw My Old Lady in the local cineplex. It stars Kevin Kline, Kristen Scott-Thomas and Maggie Smith. Kline’s character, a recovering alcoholic with three divorces behind him, thinks his recently deceased father may have left him the solution to all of his economic woes. He inherits a substantial apartment in Paris, conservatively worth €12,000,000. However, there’s a catch. The apartment is attached to a viager, which means that not only can Maggie Smith’s character live there until she dies (she’s 92, but in fine fettle), the apartment owner has to pay her  €2400 per month. He doesn’t have two pennies to rub together, so this is an unpleasant shock. There are many more to follow. Smith’s character’s daughter (Scott-Thomas) hates him. There are family secrets the two women know that Kline’s character does not (and a couple vice-versa). This isn’t entirely a feel good movie, and it’s not at all farcical, though it is funny at times. The emotions that are exposed are too raw for that. There are bottoms to hit before any of the characters can arise again. It is filmed in Paris, which made us nostalgic to go back again. What a lovely city.

We also got caught up on three episodes of Doctor Who. I had seen “Listen” already, but my wife hadn’t, so we watched again. Still charming. Then there was the one about the bank job, which was fun. Finally, the one about the caretaker. Were we not meant to understand how they escaped from their predicament in the opening scene? It felt like we missed something. Maybe it’s not important—maybe it was only meant to show the extremes to which Clara puts herself by frolicking around in time and space. It’s interesting that the Doctor doesn’t really seem to care for himself all that much (underscored in the bank heist episode), and it’s a wonder that Clara still does because he’s not very good with her any more. He seems to have lost his touch with her. Maybe it’s the eyebrows getting in the way.

I also watched a screener of Big Driver, the Lifetime adaptation of King’s novella from Full Dark, No Stars, which airs on October 18. It stars Maria Bello, with appearances by Olympia Dukakis and Joan Jett. There was a lot of concern that, given the venue, the story might get watered down. I’m here to tell you it isn’t. The first half hour has some scenes that are very difficult to watch, and King’s story is 99% there, although a few things are switched around and some scenes condensed. Jett is okay, not great, but Dukakis is fun and Ann Dowd from The Leftovers is fine. I’ll have a longer (p)review closer to air date.

I’m also nearing the end of Season 1 of Hemlock Grove. At 30 minutes a day, while I’m on the elliptical, I should be pretty much done by Friday.

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22 more years on the chain gang

As of today, I have worked for 25 years for the same company, the so-called “day job”. The business’s name has changed a couple of times over the years, but it’s the same place. I’ve meandered through a variety of roles and positions within the company over that quarter of a century, which is not quite half my life, but almost.

All I need is another 20-22 more years to match the record my father set working in the paper mill. He had a head start, though.

I learned one more cool thing about that short story contest sponsored by Hofstra Law School where I finished third. As you may recall, the only stipulation was that the crime story had to have a lawyer as the protagonist. Well, as it turns out, I finished third behind a law school professor and a trial lawyer, so I figure I’m in good company. Given that the judges all went to law school, I must have gotten the details mostly right.

I’ve been on a good reading run lately. There’s Buster Voodoo by Mason James Cole (RJ Sevin), The Children Act by Ian McEwan, The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood, and The Day of Atonement by David Liss, all reviewed at the hyperlinks. I really enjoyed Liss’s book, which is a revenge novel set in Lisbon during the Inquisition that incorporates a number of historical incidents that impact the plot.

Then I decided to take the plunge into Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy. I tore through Annihilation, which is relatively brief, and am now in the midst of Authority, which is longer. It’s a fascinating story that is Lost as told by Poe or Lovecraft crossed with Under the Dome, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the allegorical works of C.S. Lewis, but the fusion is very much its own thing. It’s about a coastal region, called Area X, where something strange happened 30 years ago. Exactly what happened is being doled out slowly, but the government agency known as Southern Reach has been sending in teams to explore ever since. There’s an impenetrable border around the place with one massive entrance. Many of the people from previous missions have died or gone missing, whereas others have showed up back at home with no recollection of how they got there or what happened while they were “away.” The first book describes the most recent mission and the second one deals with the aftermath back at Southern Reach. I can’t wait to see where this is going.

I got my wife addicted to The Blacklist, so we’ve been bingeing on that for the past several days. We should be through the first season by the time the new season begins next week. I’m meandering through Hemlock Grove in 30 minute chunks as I do my time on the elliptical trainer in the morning. It’s funny to see Famke Janssen in two different, very different, roles at much the same time—she’s also on season 2 of The Bridge.

Speaking of which, Annabeth Gish went from getting (spoilered) on The Bridge to becoming the new police chief in Charming on Sons of Anarchy. I wonder if there are odds makers taking bets on who survives the series finale. I think it would be the funniest thing in the world if Wayne Unser, the character with a terminal illness, ended up as the last man standing. I didn’t like his odds after Juice got his hands on him, but that ended up okay.

Lots of people talking about the “Listen” episode of Doctor Who, which I quite enjoyed. So far I’ve like three out of the four Capaldi episodes. I wasn’t so hot on the second one. I like the ambiguity inherent in “Listen.” The Doctor hypothesized a species of aliens that were so good at hiding that no one knew they existed, but his hypothesis couldn’t be tested—or at least it wasn’t. In the best Graham Joyce tradition, there was both a rational and a supernatural explanation for everything that happened. The shape under the sheet could have been an alien or a prankster, for example. But that’s not what people have been discussing. The big thing was the fact that SPOILERS AHEAD Clara went back to the barn in Gallifrey when the Doctor was a little boy scared of the dark and basically gave him the tools he needed to become the Doctor. Sure, it was all wibbledy-wobbeldy relative to canon and lore, but I found it a touching scene. I gasped when I realized what was happening. To me, the episode’s biggest mystery was how the hell Clara was able to run in those heels. But she did.

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