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    Wednesday, December 17th, 2014
    3:02 pm
    A byte out of the apple
    I am very pleased by Obama's decision to normalize relations with Cuba. The embargo is as old as I am, and I think time tells us that it hasn't worked. It impoverished the target nation, but it did virtually nothing to alter its political course. A one-nation embargo, in particular, doesn't work very well. Growing up in Canada, Cuba was a popular tourist destination. I look forward to a day in the very near future when I can travel there on my US passport. I hear it's nice. Like many Caribbean nations, there is an ugly underbelly juxtaposed against the part the tourists see, but I think an influx of cash and the possibility that the American tourist industry will be able to invest in Cuban destinations will have more good sides than bad.

    I finished and turned in my latest writing project, which hasn't been announced yet, but it's good fun. I've done this a couple of times before, and it's always different.

    Last night we watched Codebreaker on Netflix, the 2011 documentary about Alan Turing, the father of modern computing. Turing is the subject of a couple of recent movies, including The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. His is a tragic story of a man whose contribution to the war effort saved countless lives and may have shortened the war since cracking the Enigma code allowed D-Day to happen when it did. And yet his personal life made him an outcast -- he was chemically castrated as part of a plea bargain that kept him out of jail. The movie is a combination of documentary that features people who knew him from the Bletchley Park days, as well as friends and relatives, and dramatic re-enactment of his sessions with a psychotherapist wherein he struggles over what he can reveal, since much of his life is covered by the Official Secrets Act. One thing I didn't know: the documentary claims that the Apple logo comes from the fact that Turing committed suicide by taking a bite out of a poisoned apple, the remains of which was found next to his body. (The logo designer considers this origin story an urban legend, however. Turing did eat a cyanide-laced apple, but there's no indication Apple was inspired by this incident.)
    Monday, December 15th, 2014
    4:23 pm
    The Wild Trail

    We saw a couple of good movies this weekend. First was Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon. It’s about a young woman who went a little nuts after her single mother dies of cancer who decides to purge herself and get life back on track by walking the Pacific Crest Trail, which goes from the Mexican border the full length of California and into Oregon, at least. It’s based on a memoir, so there’s a lot of truth in it, but some movie simplifications, too. (For example, in the real life the character has two siblings, but only one in the film.) I was reminded a bit of Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, where he tried to do the Appalachian Trail, though with less angst and hardship. A woman by herself has some unique potential dangers to face. The support cast is excellent, too, including the guy who played Dan Dority on Deadwood, the guy who played Skinny Pete on Breaking Bad and the guy who played the minister on Gracepoint. And a fox, who plays her spirit guide, I guess. But the movie rests mostly on Witherspoon’s shoulders, and she pulls it off.

    Last night we watched Nebraska on Netflix. It’s about an old geezer (Bruce Dern) who thinks he’s won a million dollars in a Publisher’s Clearinghouse-type sweepstakes and is bound and determined he’s going to Lincoln, Nebraska (from Billings, Montana) to pick up his windfall because he won’t trust the post office with all that money. And if no one will take him, dammit, he’s going to walk. So his son agrees to take him, even though everyone knows there’s no money. Bob Odenkirk (Saul from Breaking Bad) plays the other son, and Stacy Keach shows up as an old “friend” of Dern’s. The trip takes them back to Dern’s hometown. Once the story gets out that he’s a millionaire in the making, all manner of people from his past crawl out of the woodwork with hands out. It’s a poignant story and funny as hell, too, especially the scene where the two brothers decide to reclaim an air compressor that was loaned out decades ago. I don’t identify with the dysfunctional family in the least, but I understood them. It’s a road movie, and the two main characters learn a lot about each other along the way (although it’s the son whose eyes are opened the most.)

    I started reading The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson this weekend. I had the pleasure of meeting Ms Benson at Necon last summer. When I heard she was a guest of honor, I expected her to be somewhat standoffish, a real celebrity amongst us regular folks, but she turned out to be very accessible and friendly. Had a good talk with her about foreign crime TV shows in the courtyard one night. I’m really enjoying this novel, which is set in the real world, where there are witches. A lot of the material she uses reminds me of a novel I wrote a few years ago where a character gets involved in Wicca and Tarot as a way of coping with a loss. The cover makes it look like a YA novel, but it isn’t.

    Only one more episode left of The Affair, which stars Ruth Wilson (Luther) and Dominic West (The Wire, The Hour). I swear this show gets under my nerves more than many horror films. My mother used to hate scenes in shows like Matlock or Murder She Wrote where the good guy is creeping around in the bad guy’s house, searching an office by flashlight, because she was sure the good guy would get caught. This show is something like that, except it’s a couple of philanderers who aren’t exactly all that discreet. It’s also a mystery series, because there’s a murder, and the identity of the victim is kept secret for a long time, let alone the identity of the killer. It has an interesting he said/she said structure that is revealing in the way that it reflects how Noah and Allison remember certain events. What was said, what they wore, what they did. There’s a lot to wrap up in one more hour.

    Originally published at Bev Vincent. You can comment here or there.

    Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
    1:41 pm
    I've had a fairly productive writing period these past few weeks. Can't remember the last time when I've had so many firm commitments, along with the usual on-spec writing. I turned in a four-story mini-collection of reprints that will appear sometime in 2015. Also my X-files story to Jonathan Maberry. Then, finally, a story for the Book 38 horror anthology.

    About the latter: I was invited to pick from a list of the world's most abandoned and haunted places and submit a 2500-story. I chose the Willard Asylum in upstate NY and wrote a story featuring a brother-sister duo who've featured in a few of my previous tales. After my research, including watching a few videos taken by urban explorers, it took a while to get the story in sequence, even though I always had a fairly good idea of how it was going to go. I pulled it apart and put it back together again several times, but I finally got there in the end, and I turned that story in over the weekend. 2500 words is quite brief, but I find the exercise in winnowing a 3200 word first draft down to the cut-off refreshing. Everything must go! My writing becomes much more direct and entire sentences and paragraphs that don't contribute to the story get lopped.

    Book 38 launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign this week. As these things go, there are a number of rewards if you help fund the project, which already has a commitment from a publisher, as I understand it, and will be released be released in trade paperback and eBook format on May 1st, 2015. Among the other authors in the anthology are the following names, some of which you'll probably recognize: Craig Spector, Rich Chizmar, Tim Waggoner, John Urbancik, Gary McMahon, Charles Day, and a host of others.

    I've done a bunch of book review recently. Can't remember when I last posted a list:

    I have one more to do this week, then it's on to the next project, which is a continuation of a story that was begun by someone else and will be completed by two others. I also got a couple of stories back into circulation over the weekend, something I've been lax about of late. I think I have about 10 out there in the submission-sphere at the moment.

    Tonight is the end for Sons of Anarchy. Always a sad moment when a series ends after so many years, and I've been following it since near the beginning. It's had an interesting arc. At first, the fascination was with Jax because he appeared to be a good man trying to do the right thing in a culture that made that kind of behavior difficult. He despised some of the things his step-father did and tried to get a compass bearing on what his father wanted for the motorcycle club. He failed, and in doing so he turned into everything he hated about Clay Morrow. Worse, though, he was betrayed by his mother, who has sent him on a collision course with Mayhem. She's never been a terribly good influence, but her rash act at the end of the previous season, and the lies she and Juice told to cover that up, sent SAMCRO and Jax on a mission of vengeance for all the wrong reasons against all the wrong people. It's not Shakespearean so much as Greek mythological. Patricides, matricides and just about every other "icide" you can imagine.

    Season 5 (or 5a, if you insist) of Haven came to an end last week, too. They shot 26 episodes back to back (to back...), but are splitting the output into two batches of 13. Apparently there are contractual benefits to calling it a single season. For example, the actors can't renegotiate a better deal in the middle! It's been a wild ride, with a significant expansion of the mythology, and just when it seemed like there might be a calm moment for the troubled community, Duke let loose an epidemic of new Troubles and Vince & Dave stumbled onto something in the woods. William Shatner will be on four episodes in 2015. My theory is that he will play Mara's father.

    Looks like CBS got the use of a prison set and decided to make the most of it on Sunday night. First, The Mentalist had its "Orange is the New Lisbon" episode (my name for it, not theirs), and then the CSI team investigated a body found in a prison laundry. And then an interesting development at the end of Castle. Looks like Rick will have to strike out on his own in 2015, at least from an investigative point of view.
    Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
    10:41 am
    Tan Friday
    We don't do Black Friday. And for Cyber Monday, the only things I bought were eBooks for myself! Instead of engaging in hand-to-hand combat with other shoppers over flat screen TVs at Costco, this is what we did (see photo). For the whole weekend, in fact. We went down to Surfside Beach, about 90 miles from where we live, on Wednesday evening and stayed there until late on Sunday.

    The previous two weekends were abysmal. Temperatures in the forties, grey and rainy. However, luck was with us. All four days were in the seventies, with partly cloudy skies. It got a little cool when the sun went down, but that wasn't a problem: our rental property had a good heating system (once we got the vents cleared of dust that set off the smoke detector the first time we turned the heat on). It was a non-traditional Thanksgiving, in most ways. We did have family visitors one afternoon, but other than that it was as off the grid as you can get. We did some reading, soaked up the rays (I'm a little pink, thank you for asking), playing games, cooking meals and relaxing. We only left the place once, and that was to get more wine!

    While we were away, I heard about PD James's death. It was fun hearing Ian Rankin tell some brief tales about her on Twitter. I've been reading her books for decades, and always enjoyed them. She and I were nominated in the same category for an Edgar Award a few years ago. I was sure I was doomed, being up against her, but I went to the banquet in part hoping to get the chance to meet her. Alas, she didn't make the trip over to NY for the ceremony. And neither of us won the award.

    One of the books I read last week was 400 Things Cops Know: Street-Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman by Adam Plantinga. Crime writers like George Pelecanos and Lee Child had commented on it favorably and the cover blurb is by Joseph Wambaugh. Plantinga is a 13-year veteran of two different police departments, now a sergeant. The book is 400 anecdotes and observations, bundled into rough groupings (What Cops Know About Juveniles, What Cops Know About Hookers and Johns...) that give readers some insight into a cop's life. I imagine most cops could put together something similar, except Plantinga can write really well. The anecdote format doesn't give him a lot of opportunity to show off his writing chops, but it shines through. It's droll, witty, amusing, sardonic, resigned, introspective and sharp. I enjoyed the heck out of it, and read many of the passages to my wife after they made me chuckle. If you're writing about cops, this is a great reference book.

    One of the things I worked on while on vacation last week was the short story I'm writing for Jonathan Maberry's series of X-Files anthologies. The first, X-Files: Trust No One, comes out in March, with stories from Brian Keene, Tim Lebbon, and others. My story, "Phase Shift," is slated for the second book in the series. It's a lot of fun playing in someone else's sandbox. I got to do it before, with Doctor Who: Destination Prague. For research and prep work, I binged through the first two seasons. My story is set in the midst of the second season. I wanted to familiarize myself primarily with the technology. Did they use cell phones (yes, but big suckers with retracting antennas), email (yes, but on Windows 3.1 computers), or the Internet in general (yes). Video conferences cost $150 an hour, by Mulder's estimate. Only 20 years ago, but my how things have changed.

    I can't remember when I first encountered Rocky Wood, or even when I first met him face to face. I do recall, however, a series of "last meetings." The first was at the World Horror Convention in Austin in 2011. Rocky had been diagnosed with ALS the previous year, but he was still in pretty good shape. However, he thought that his doctors wouldn't allow him to travel outside the country by the end of that year. We said goodbye, thinking we'd never see each other again. Happily, that proved not to be the case, and he got to go on a series of adventures and trips after that, and continue his work on books and as president of the HWA. I saw him again in 2012 at the world premiere of Ghost Brothers of Darkland County in Atlanta, and then at World Horror in New Orleans last year. His most recent publication was the 2014 update to Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished, just out from Overlook Connection Press. In fact, I received my copy from Dave Hinchberger on Sunday evening, just hours before Rocky succumbed to complications from ALS. To the outside world, at least, he never seemed to let the disease slow him down. He had a plan early on to raise money for the devices he would need as it progressed, and he kept on going. It was an honor to know him.
    Friday, November 21st, 2014
    2:02 pm
    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.

    Originally published at Bev Vincent. You can comment here or there.

    Monday, November 17th, 2014
    2:48 pm
    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.
    Tuesday, November 11th, 2014
    3:22 pm
    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.

    Friday, October 31st, 2014
    1:26 pm
    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.
    Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
    2:35 pm
    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.
    Monday, October 27th, 2014
    2:14 pm
    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.

    Originally published at Bev Vincent. You can comment here or there.

    Friday, October 17th, 2014
    12:23 pm
    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.
    Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
    1:29 pm
    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.

    Originally published at Bev Vincent. You can comment here or there.

    Monday, September 29th, 2014
    12:32 pm
    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.

    Originally published at Bev Vincent. You can comment here or there.

    Thursday, September 18th, 2014
    2:21 pm
    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.

    Originally published at Bev Vincent. You can comment here or there.

    Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
    1:45 pm
    I need a moment

    On some crime show I saw recently, a man suspected of murder has just been told his wife is dead. After being subjected to a brief but intense grilling, he tells the detectives, “I need a moment.” On the off chance that he’s innocent and they may have just broken devastating news to him, they leave him to himself in the interrogation room.

    When I heard today that Graham Joyce had died. I needed a moment. I won’t say he lost the battle with cancer, because—as he so eloquently stated in this BBC Radio 4 piece—he rejected that language. He had the same peculiar breed of cancer that my father did, so I knew the prognosis wasn’t great, but still we hope. Alas, it was not to be.

    I was introduced to Graham Joyce the writer by Peter Straub. The first time I met Peter, at a book signing in Dallas in the late 1990s, we went to dinner at a barbecue restaurant after his event. We talked about who we were reading, and Peter mentioned Graham. Naturally, I took the recommendation seriously, and thus began my adventure in the fascinating, ambiguous, magical, terrifying and amazing worlds of Graham Joyce. I’ve read virtually everything he’s written—except for a couple of his YA books—and I’ve never been disappointed.

    When I started to write novels, it was Graham more than anyone else that I wanted to emulate, not that other guy with whom I’m most strongly associated. I was and continue to be fascinated by the manner in which he was able to present both sides of a possible supernatural occurrence. It either happened or it had a logical, mundane explanation. Both interpretations were valid, both for the characters and for the reader. It’s something I attempted to capture in the first novel my agent tried to sell. Clearly I hadn’t quite learned the lesson well enough yet.

    The first time I met Graham the man was, I believe, at the World Horror Convention in Chicago in 2002, though we had already exchanged email by that point. I was at the Subterranean Press booth in the dealer room when Bill Schafer opened a box that contained Graham’s chapbook, Black Dust, fresh from the printer. I bought the first copy, and Graham passed by a few minutes later and I got him to sign it for me.

    Our paths have crossed a number of times over the years, in person and online. He was a Guest of Honor at Necon one year and he fit right in to that quirky event. I remember a World Fantasy Convention (Albuquerque, I believe) where he arrived at the  hotel late in the evening straight from his transatlantic flight, to discover that he was scheduled to do a 9 pm reading. I think he’d had a little courage on the long flight, so he was a tad disoriented. I knew where his reading room was, so I got him there on time and he regaled us with an excerpt from his latest work.

    I wrote a long essay about Graham’s work for a book that never materialized. I can’t recall at the moment to which point it is current, but I should go back and look at it some day to see if it’s worth an overhaul. I always recommend The Tooth Fairy and Requiem to people, but you can’t go wrong with any of his novels, and he got stronger and more amazing over the years.

    Later this summer, PS Publishing is releasing 25 Years in the Word Mines, The Best of Graham Joyce, a collection of his short fiction. I had already sprung for the signed edition (which has a chapbook containing extra stories). Sad to think that this is probably the last we’ll hear from such an exceptional author.

    Originally published at Bev Vincent. You can comment here or there.

    Friday, September 5th, 2014
    11:14 am
    Ellie Hatcher, Jack Reacher and OJ Simpson

    I received word yesterday that my short story “The Best Defense” took third place in the mystery writing competition sponsored by the Law School at Hofstra University and Mulholland Books. The story is a courtroom thriller (the main character had to be a lawyer, per the rules), and the judges were two lawyers and a law school graduate: author Alafair Burke (daughter of James Lee Burke), OJ Simpson prosecutor and author Marcia Clark, and thriller writer Lee Child, creator of Jack Reacher. There were over 130 submissions, so I’m quite pleased by this. Only the first place winner will be published, so now I have to submit the story somewhere for publication.

    I’ve been watching Hemlock Grove on Netflix while I exercise in the morning. It’s cute and has my interest, so I think I’ll stick with it. Makes the 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer go by faster, at least.

    The kidnapping scenes in this week’s The Bridge were pretty odd. If you’re going to kill someone in a few minutes, do you go to the trouble of helping them go to the bathroom? And Marcus didn’t even give the guy a chance to surrender. Bam! Bit of a blood bath at the end, too.

    Part Four of my Haven retrospective is now up at News From the Dead Zone. This installment looks at the events of Season 3, together with an episode guide, a list of Troubles and a list of Stephen King references. I have two more installments to put up before the new season begins on September 11.

    This post is brought to you by WordPress 4.0—I took the plunge and upgraded.

    Originally published at Bev Vincent. You can comment here or there.

    Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
    2:51 pm
    Culture clash

    It was supposed to rain a lot this weekend.  It didn’t. We did have a couple of good showers, but nothing near what I was expecting. Instead, it was hot and very humid. The humidex added 20° to the mercury temperature at times, making it feel like it was over 110.

    So, as you might imagine, a great portion of the weekend was spent in air conditioning, except for a round of yard work yesterday morning and a carpentry project with my daughter that is finally getting off the ground.

    My summaries of Season 1 and Season 2 of Haven are now up. I’m working my way through the seasons as a way of catching up before Season 5 premieres in just over a week.

    We went to see The 100 Foot Journey on Saturday. Originally we planned to see Calvary, but it turned out that movie wasn’t showing anywhere within 40 miles of us. The Mirren film was good, though. Charming and quaint. It’s about a family from India who move to Europe after a tragedy. They start out in England, but it’s not to their liking, so they strike out for the continent trying to find a new place to set up a restaurant and settle on a village in the southwest of France mostly because of serendipity. The place the patriarch chooses is directly across the street from a Michelin-rated French restaurant run by Mirren. Thus begins a clash of cultures and palates, with some romance thrown in for good measure. Light entertainment, but it sure did leave me craving a good Indian meal. One scene struck us in particular: the young Indian chef makes Mirren an omelet (her test of a chef’s merits). Filmed from behind, we see a slouching Mirren straighten her neck and then her back as she tastes the unexpected concoction. No words at that moment: it’s all in body language.

    Then we watched The Railway Man starring Colin Furth and Nicole Kidman. It’s about a man obsessed with railways who was part of the POW group that were forced to build the Burma railway line by the Japanese during WWII—an event that was fictionalized in The Bridge on the River Kwai. This story is based on a memoir, so was presumably closer to the truth. Furth’s character suffers terrible PTSD. His greatest venom is reserved for a Japanese translator who oversaw his torture. When he finds out that the man is not only still alive all these years later (1980) but running a museum at the prison camp, he decides it’s time to return to Burma and confront and perhaps kill the man. The Japanese officer is played by Hiroyuki Sanada, who was recently in Spiral is currently plays on Extant. A powerful story with a redeeming finale.

    Speaking of Extant, we did a five-episode binge on Sunday afternoon to get caught up. We also watched the first episodes of Doctor Who and Intruders, based on the Michael Marshall Smith novel and starring Mira Sorvina and John Simm. The latter has a 10-year-old actress playing a nine-year-old character, and she is astonishingly good. She is both herself and a previous personality, so she gets to switch between little girl and menacing mystery man. I’m impressed.

    Our last viewing of the weekend was Darby’s Rangers, the next installment in our gradual James Garner marathon. This, too, is based on a real WWII event about the formation of an elite group of Army Rangers who were trained by British officers and sent into battle in North Africa and Anzio. It’s funny and campy until it gets deadly serious. The second half is far superior to the first, but there are some interesting moments along the way, including the impact billeting soldiers had on some British families.

    Originally published at Bev Vincent. You can comment here or there.

    Monday, August 25th, 2014
    3:17 pm
    Who wants to make a circuit?

    So I heard from a bunch of people in Germany last week who saw me on Meister des Grauens, the VOX channel’s 2-hour documentary about King. I haven’t seen it yet, but Robin Furth and author Stewart O’Nan also contributed, along with a bunch of German authors and celebs. Instead of subtitling the English dialog, they did voice-overs, so it will be interesting to hear me speaking German.

    The Lilja and Lou Podcast in which we discuss Haven and Under the Dome is now available. I also posted the first segment of a six-part series I’m doing as a build-up to the launch of Season 5 of Haven. The next four segments will look at the individual seasons and the final one will summarize what we know about the main characters after four years and where things might go next.

    I posted my review of the new Ian McEwan novel, The Children Act this weekend.

    I finally got a chance to see Season 4 of The Killing this weekend. I had to do a little Googling first to remind myself what exactly happened in Season 3 and where things were left. It was pretty good. Condensed to six episodes, they didn’t waste much time. Joan Allen was a force to be reckoned with as the head of the military academy. I was intrigued by what they didn’t show. Even though Netflix had a lot more latitude than AMC (Holder’s language was saltier), they did not show the brutal crime scene. This made it even more impressive when we see it later, with the bodies removed but the blood still in place. It was like a Pollack painting. Jonathan Demme directed the final segment. I would have been happy, I think, if the finale had ended with a certain character driving off from the house, but it did go on and wrap things up more neatly. Perhaps a little too neatly.

    I liked this week’s installment of The Leftovers a lot. It was a flashback to the day leading up to the momentous event that’s at the heart of the series. We get to see the two main families—the Garveys and the Dursts—in “happier” times. No one was really all that happy, but things were better than they are now (in story time) three years later. It was a little like a Lost episode seeing all of these familiar characters in different lives. And there is still an air of mystery, even though the inexplicable hasn’t happened yet. What drove the deer crazy? Why are there cracks appearing around future-Chief Garvey? Who were the four older people in the car looking for? What was Patti sensing? And, most importantly, what must it have been like to have your partner vanisher while you’re having sex?

    Originally published at Bev Vincent. You can comment here or there.

    Monday, August 18th, 2014
    4:02 pm
    Whoa. Rented lips.

    I’ve been very busy lately, hence a paucity of updates. I have about seven things all going at the same time and I’m hoping to get at least a few of them knocked out by the end of the month. I don’t think multitasking is all that efficient.

    Mason James Cole is the pen name of RJ Sevin who, many years ago, published my story “The Smell of Fear” in Corpse Blossoms. He has a new book out called Buster Voodoo, which I liked a lot. You can read my review here.

    I’ve been listening to the audio version of the Ice Cold anthology from the MWA that contains my story “The Honey Trap” recently. I’ve had a few of my stories released on audio, but this is the first one I’ve heard from a big audio distributor. The stories are read by different people. Mine is narrated by actress Meredith Mitchell. I enjoyed my story all over again. It’s a cool experience hearing it in someone else’s voice.

    Yesterday afternoon, I spend an hour and a half on Skype with Lilja and Lou, recording segments for forthcoming episodes of their podcast. We talked mostly about Haven: where the show is at the end of Season 4 and where it might go in Season 5. We also discussed my visit to the set in June. Then we moved on to Under the Dome, about which many feelings are mixed. I’m not sure exactly when the podcast will debut, but it will probably be before Haven Season 5 begins on September 11.

    The day after I visited the Haven set, I spent nearly two hours in front of a camera for an interview with VOX television for a documentary about Stephen King. The show is called Meister des Grauens and it will air in Germany this Thursday evening. Here’s the trailer for it. I don’t expect to be able to understand much of it when I get a copy.

    Our slow-motion marathon of James Garner movies continued last weekend with The Children’s Hour and The Thrill of it All. The first starred Audrey Hepburn and Shirley McLaine in a film based on a play by Lillian Hellman. It’s about two close friends who run a school. One irate kid starts a whisper campaign about an inappropriate relationship between them after she’s punished. For 1961, it’s a surprisingly frank movie, although the word “lesbian” is never uttered. It’s an interesting story, but I found the acting to be melodramatic and unconvincing. There were several young children actors, too, and they weren’t terribly good. Garner was his reliably solid self as Hepburn’s fiance. The second film is vastly different, a comedy in the Doris Day / Rock Hudson mold about a housewife who suddenly becomes the star of a series of TV commercials, turning the household dynamics upside down. It’s light and frothy (literally) and funny. Doris Day is impressive: she has a very credible acting presence that matches well with Garner’s. There’s a cameo by the actress who played Mrs. Kravitz on Bewitched, too. Some improbable scenarios, but all in all entertaining.

    I’m not sure that I saw the Happy Days episode that debuted Mork, though I probably did. I certainly watched Mork & Mindy. I even had a Robin Williams comedy record that I listened to several times and it never ceased to be funny. He was running on all throttles and when his mouth got ahead of his words he said, “Whoa. Rented lips,” which is a phrase I used to haul out every now and then when I stammered. I can’t say I’ve seen every movie he did, but I’ve seen a lot, including some of his darker performances, such as the ones in One Hour Photo and especially Father of the Year. He was better when a director was willing to reign him in a little, or a lot in some cases, but his mind always seemed to be going at the speed of sound, if not the speed of light. Put him and Jonathan Winters together and you risked achieving critical mass. I’m sorry he’s gone.


    Originally published at Bev Vincent. You can comment here or there.

    Friday, August 8th, 2014
    11:53 am
    Dreaming of October and Hemingway

    I don’t often remember my dreams in great detail, but I woke up this morning with last night’s dream bouncing around in my head. I visited a guy who in my dream I knew to be Ernest Hemingway, even though he looked little like him at any point in his life. (In fact, I think he looked like a young Kasey Kasem.) I was young, and felt the need to contribute to the conversation, so I asked him when he moved to Chicago. He talked about how famous he was for suicide—that there had been many attempts. And then he showed me something on YouTube. He had taken a video of a bunch of surfers all riding a wave together and PhotoShopped (VideoShopped?) himself into the scene. “It’s gone viral,” he told me, with no small amount of pride.

    So, it was only slightly surreal when I issued a Tweet about my dream this morning and a few minutes later I received a notice that Ernest Hemingway was now following me on Twitter.

    I’ve known about this for a while but now that the table of contents has been announced I can say publicly that my story “The Boy in the White Sheet” will be in October Dreams II from Cemetery Dance. The story reveals what happened after the events of my first published story, “Harming Obsession.” I often wondered over the years what took place the day after the end of that tale, which is also my most-reprinted story, and I finally came up with a story. I’m in good company in the anthology: among the marquee contributors are: Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, Robert Bloch, Stewart O’Nan, Joe R. Lansdale and Al Sarrantonio, along with some of my Necon friends, such as Elizabeth Massie, Matthew Costello, Kealan Patrick Burke, Sephera Giron, and many more. Looks like it will be a massive volume.

    Originally published at Bev Vincent. You can comment here or there.

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