We had a quiet Christmas week. I couldn’t even get through to my siblings because they were without power for six days, until the weekend. We cooked some great food (I made a traditional tourtière that turned out really well), watched movies, read books, went out not at all.
One of the books I read was Spirit of Steamboat by Craig Johnson. It’s a novella that takes place on Christmas Eve, and features his series protagonist Walt Longmire who has been brought to the screen in the Longmire TV series. The story is about Walt and his old boss, together with several other people, getting a WWII bomber into the air so they can transport a seriously injured girl to Denver during a blizzard. It’s a harrowing and chilling story. My wife especially appreciated the accuracy in both the aeronautics and the medical descriptions. Apparently this was supposed to be a short story but it kept getting longer. I haven’t read any of his novels. Now I shall have to.
I wrote a few book reviews to get caught up last week: Cockroaches by Jo Nesbø, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith and The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons by Lawrence Block. I’m currently reading Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell. I’ve had it for a while but am just getting around to it now.
I didn’t accomplish much on the writing front. I wanted to finish a story for the next Tesseracts anthology, and I thought I had a great idea, but I just couldn’t get it to go anywhere, and the deadline was today. I still think the idea is good, but it needs to ferment a while longer. I did get my next column for Cemetery Dance finished, though. It was also due today.
Yesterday I received my contributor copy of the PS Publishing 30th Anniversary edition of Pet Sematary. I wrote the afterword and Ramsey Campbell wrote the introduction. Good company to keep. It’s a handsome volume, and I’m pleased to have been a part of this neat project.
We watched a couple of less-than-glowingly reviewed movies on Christmas Day. First there was Elysium, which I thought was not bad. We discussed afterward whether the film would have succeeded without such a big, trustworthy name in the main role. The character was, after all, a criminal, albeit a reformed one. You’re on Damon’s side right away, so that helps you overlook the shadier aspects of his personality. We also wondered how the second ship managed to land on Elysium without challenge. But, on the whole, it was pretty good. Then we watched The Lone Ranger, which was pretty dire. I don’t know who decided that this should be a slapstick comedy, but I hope they got a lump of coal in their stocking this year. The title character is, for the most part, a non-entity, and Tonto is a wisecracking buffoon. Granted, the film had its moments, but it was far too long. I’m not entirely sure it would have worked as a straight dramatic film, either, but as a comedy…meh.
After watching Michael Palin’s Himalaya, we’ve gone on a Palin travel documentary binge. We went back to the beginning to see Around the World in 80 Days, which I saw when it first aired in the late eighties, and then I found the follow-up from 20 years later when he tracked down the crew of the dhow that took him to India. We are now near the end of The New Europe, in which he travels through countries that used to be behind the Iron Curtain. So many places inspire the following reaction in us: I want to go there.
What did people think of Darabont’s Mob City? I watched the whole thing over a two-day period. Not bad. I could see it coming back for another season. They crammed a little too much plot into the Doctor Who Christmas special for my liking, and I didn’t find it nearly as heart-wrenching as the 11th Doctor’s swan song. Was glad there was a surprise cameo by, well, a surprise character, but on the whole I’m looking forward to seeing Clara and the new guy, with his oddly colored kidneys.
So, until next year, be well, and have a safe and exciting eve.