I finished Archie Meets Nero Wolfe by Robert Goldsborough while waiting for my car to be serviced this weekend. Car is seven years old and has just over 35,000 miles. I joke (though it’s almost true) that I change my oil once a year whether it needs it or not. Since I hadn’t brought another book with me, I plowed through Bright Orange for the Shroud by John D. Macdonald on my iPad. I’ve been rereading the Travis McGee novels in sequence over the past couple of years. This is #6 out of 21, so I have a way to go. They’re fast reads, but I love those books. I can’t remember when I first read one (I do remember buying The Green Ripper when it was a new hardcover in 1979) but I must have read each of them at least three or four times over the years.
I finally received my contributor copy of The Spirit Of Poe last night. Haven’t had much of a chance to look through it yet, but the timing is good. My friend Danel Olson invited me to speak to his horror/gothic fiction class next week and my contribution to this anthology is a good one to read to this audience.
Survivor’s back tonight!
Another mid-season series break last night. This time it was Covert Affairs, which is on a four-week hiatus. I don’t know how good the show’s ratings are, but I think it’s really well done. It’s far more serious than Burn Notice, which is good but formulaic and over the top. The spy craft in Covert Affairs is credible, and the dangers realistic. I thought it was Rachmaninoff’s friend who alerted Lena, so that was a good twist. And the final five minutes were tense with a good pay off. It wasn’t cold blooded murder after all.
I’m liking this new Nero character on Sons of Anarchy. The scene where he played chicken with the people following Jax was great. “Sorry. I don’t get out much,” he said. We are being lead to believe that he’s a good guy. Former gang banger, got clean in prison, read stuff, treats his call girls and employees respectfully, pays them decently, and visits his handicapped son. Too good to be true? The lead up to the wedding (officiated by a john judge) in a brothel was nice character development. Gemma even got over her umbrage long enough to dig up her wedding rings. Good on Opie for adding himself to the mix at the end of the episode. Staying close. Unser and Clay really do look like they’re living on borrowed time. They couldn’t even muster up enough energy to slap each other around without running out of breath.
I’m almost halfway through the first season of The Wire. It’s more of a slow burn than The Shield. It reminds me a little of Rubicon (which I loved) and The Hours (which also starred Dominic West). There are lots of scenes in Baltimore’s projects, but there’s not the level of gang violence seen in The Shield. And while some of the cops may be lazy or prone to taking (legal) shortcuts, there’s not the rampant corruption seen in The Shield. There are rumors that one character has more money than he should, but that’s it. McNulty is driven, like Mackey, but he’s totally by the book. He has a couple of good members on his team and a couple of screw-ups. Then there’s Lester Freamon, sitting there, minding his own business, carving dollhouse furniture. Nobody’s paying much attention to him, but he’s listening and observing. He’s the only one who thinks to write down the phone number on the wall, and he goes out and finds the first known picture of Avon Barksdale. Finally McNulty realizes what he has. Then there’s Pryzbylewski, the guy who accidentally discharged his gun on his first day with the task force and who is later seen photocopying a telephone. He’s smart enough to crack the gang’s phone number code, though, so there may be hope for him yet. I think I expected the show to be grittier, so it took me a while to readjust my expectations. I like it well enough, but it doesn’t have the same sense of tension that permeated every minute of The Shield. Vic and the boys were always trying to stay out of serious trouble, which made the program compelling.