Em Are Eye

I just received my contributor copy of Close Encounter of the Urban Kind, edited by Jennifer Brozek. You  should check it out if you get a chance — it’s about urban legends that actually have alien explanations. My tale is called “The Fingernail Test,” inspired by…well, you’ll have to read the story to find out. Each author was given some room to explain why we chose the urban legends we did, and how our stories arose from it. I look forward to reading the other contributions.

The Edgar Awards are a week from today. If there is wireless in the convention center, I may tweet from time to time, but the folks from Murder By the Book (who are also nominated for their Busted Flush Press books), will definitely be updating their feeds, so if you’re curious about how things are going next Thursday night and my Twitter feed is silent, check out the MBTB feed.

This morning I had a close encounter of the magnetic kind–my first ever MRI. I had no idea what to expect because, as we all know, what you see on television is usually a simplified version of reality. The note on the procedure order said that MRIs take an hour, so I thought I was going to have to be stock still for an hour. As predicted, reality was different than expectation. For one thing, the cavity into which you are inserted is smaller than it appears on TV. Much smaller. Your elbows rub against the walls (cushions were graciously provided) and the top of the machine, with the two-way speaker, is only a couple of inches above your nose. I’m not claustrophobic, but I can see how people who don’t like confined places might be…troubled. I was given a bulb to squeeze in case I was overcome and wanted a fast exit. I was also given earplugs, because it’s REALLY LOUD in there. In fact, my main impression of the experience was the sound.

Instead of an hour, the MRI took only twenty minutes, and consisted of six scans in total. A one-minute scan, three three-minute scans, a three-and-a-half minute scan and a four-minute scan. Sometimes I was repositioned laterally between scans, but not always. The loud noises were interesting…banging and clicking and repetitive wonking noises that made me think of 2001: A Space Odyssey or A Clockwork Orange or the scenes in Room 23 from Lost. Most of the time I kept my eyes closed and concentrated on the sounds, doing my best to estimate the passage of time by counting. In almost every case, the scan finished well before I finished counting mental seconds. At the end of the experience,  I was left wondering what happens when claustrophobic people close their eyes when in uncomfortable surroundings. I was free to imagine I was anywhere, with my eyes shut.

I don’t get the scan results until next week, to see if they provide any insight into what’s causing my lumbago. Because of my very early date with the supermagnet, I didn’t get any work done on the novel this morning.

Lilja posted an excerpt from my introduction to The Book of Lilja on his website. Also check out Editor of the ‘Night': A chat with Bill Breedlove, editor of When the Night Comes Down. Bill says some very kind things about me. In part, “I am really excited to see the reaction to his fiction, because I think he is a supremely talented short story writer…I think a lot of people who have read only Bev’s nonfiction will be very surprised by his story ‘Knock ‘Em Dead’ which is essentially a very dark comedy.”

Law and Order: SVU — new depths of ridiculous. Not only was it another public service announcement episode about the dangers of eating meat, the resolution of the homicide was hilarious. I try to imagine the real culprit slitting that girl’s throat and I just laugh and laugh and laugh.

On the other hand, Justified is my new show of the season — I’m getting a great kick out of it. The language is spicy and the plots and dialog are terrific. This week, a woman commits a murder using details she learned from a show on the Discovery Channel. Of course, the crime isn’t as easy as they think it will be–the intended victim lives longer than expected, and the greater conspiracy falls apart from greed and conscience. The resolution of the Hitler paintings subplot (featuring Robert Picardo, who I always recall as the holographic doctor from Star Trek: Voyager) was priceless and unexpected. I like Raylen’s visits with his incarcerated, born-again former friend–they’re almost therapeutic. And it seems like everyone who lives in that Kentucky town is saving money to move elsewhere.

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