this & that

I suppose it’s a sign of a lazy writer when I have to sit here and stare at the WordPress form for ten minutes before deciding I have no real topic and then thinking, “A ha! I’ll write about how I have nothing to write about! That’s never been done in a blog before, right?”

So instead, you’ll get a random assortment of thoughts until I can come up with something better to write about.

I’m still trying to decide what to do for Halloween Month (a.k.a. October) this year. I abandoned my plan to review every Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween movie after nearly going insane from just four Friday the 13th films. Besides, I’d like to get away from the movie reviews this time around and focus on some more original content. I’m working on an original story, and this time, I’ll finish it before posting it.

Speaking of writing, I’m currently working on a collaborative novel with Kate Racculia. The idea was to see if we could egg one another on and actually finish something for once. It’s a kind of fantasy-themed thriller, set at a kids’ summer camp in 1991.

Other things…I read Baltimore or, the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire last week. The book was a collaborative effort between Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and author Christopher Golden. It’s a Gothic vampire novel, set in a kind of alternate history World War I. The prose is heavy and the story tragic, definitely not for those who prefer their fiction light-hearted. But for those of us who love Gothic horror, Baltimore (inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s bittersweet fable “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”) is a wonderful revisiting of those old Gothic classics. Best of all, it’s lavishly illustrated by Mignola himself, who produced 150 pieces of art for the novel.

But let’s not forget Christopher Golden, a Massachusetts-based author whom I had the good fortune to meet on Tuesday evening when he did a reading at the Barnes & Noble in Framingham. Golden is a funny, entertaining speaker, and in Baltimore he does a lovely job of adapting the dark, Impressionistic style of Mignola’s art to prose. I highly recommend the novel.

I also read Scott Smith’s The Ruins. Smith wrote the novel A Simple Plan, which was adapted into one of my favorite films (though I haven’t had a chance to read the novel yet). Like its predecessor, The Ruins is a thriller, but this time the mood is horror rather than noir. I’ve been describing it people as The Descent meets Algernon Blackwood’s “The Willows.” (I generally try not to describe artistic works in terms of other works–a practice gifted to us by Hollywood–but sometimes it’s just the easiest way to get the point across.) I definitely recommend it to horror fans, but beware–there’s not a lot of the characterization found in a writer like Stephen King, and there’s not much about the origin of the horror either. It’s more like a survival story that happens to have a preternatural antagonist…it’s not so much scary as it is creepy and genuinely horrific.

CSI: Miami continues to be my guiltiest pleasure. I’m working my way through the entire series on A&E. Why can’t I stop watching? I think it’s Caruso. His eccentric performance is mesmerizing. As my cousin (and future best man) Mike put it, “He always does the sideways stance…puts his hands on his hips…and delivers the cheese.” DG and I often point out certain things that would make for a great drinking game, such as Caruso’s tendency to walk out of frame after delivering a parting shot.

The show’s formula becomes really evident when you watch five or six of them back-to-back (not that I’ve, uh, ever done that…recently…like last weekend or anything). My personal favorite is how often a suspect is forced to reveal some part of their body that has been marked in some way, proving they committed the crime. I’d say that happens on at least thirty percent of the episodes. For the viewer, determining who the killer is relies less on the evidence given in the episode than on who would be the most surprising or dramatic, or sometimes simply “who did we see earlier in the episode that we forgot about?” But Caruso and the other actors (particularly Emily Procter and Eva LaRue) keep me coming back time and again.

And get this…it’s this decade’s Baywatch, the most popular American television show in the world. I guess cheese is the true lingua franca.

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