Monthly Archives: October 2012

R.I.P. Progress Report #8

The purpose of R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII is to enjoy books and movies/television that could be classified (by you) as: Mystery. Suspense. Thriller. Dark Fantasy. Gothic. Horror. Supernatural. Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.

I have to say, R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII has been great. I don’t comment much, but I’ve visited and added many new blogs. It’s been a joy to celebrate the dark genres with you all!

Mockingbird Lane (2012) – Reruns of The Addams Family and The Munsters were pretty influential to me. My love of the spooky/kooky comes from them. Barry Sonnenfeld’s The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993) were spot-on reboots, capturing the macabre nature of the Addamses. The 1998 The Munsters Today didn’t work as well. The Munsters, despite their quirks, were a 60s family on a 60s sit-com. The Munsters Today needed to update both, but didn’t. I was dubious when another reboot was announced. With Jerry O’Connell as Herman? And…Eddie Izzard as Grandpa? I was heartened by the involvement of Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Dead Like Me) and Bryan Singer (X-Men, Apt Pupil), but then sort of forgot about the series. Until it showed up on Hulu’s front page.

Mockingbird Lane is not The Munsters. There’s no way you could do the goofy, innocent comedy that was the fish-out-of-water family living at 1313 Mockingbird Lane in the 2010s. Instead, this is a lush, macabre, funny family drama. Herman and Grandpa don’t get along and disagree on how to raise Eddie, whom Herman fears is more Munster than Herman is. Lily is, of course, caught in the middle between her father and her husband. Eddie is going through some changes, many exacerbated by moving to a new neighborhood and a new school, and  poor Marilyn is the black sheep of the family. Despite their differences, they’re all reliant on one another. Especially when Marilyn needs to do the “day” work and Herman needs the occasional new body part that Grandpa can, uh, obtain and install.

There are nods to the original show, especially in the decoration of the house and Marilyn’s very blonde, very fifties outfits, but the series isn’t afraid to move past the original. It’s certainly more graphic with Herman’s awake and very open-hearted surgeries and a scene where the just-out-of-coffin Lily is dressed by a host of spiders (winning the EWW! award from me). The acting is good. Eddie Izzard makes it feel like this version of Grandpa was written just for him. Jerry O’Connell is utterly sincere and a tad sappy as Herman, but he is the heart of the show. If he didn’t care, we wouldn’t either.

This show hasn’t been greenlit by NBC. The pilot reportedly cost $10 million and NBC is understandably unsure about it. If I had never been a fan of the original, how would I feel about a horror/comedy/drama about two vampires, a Frankenstein’s monster, a pubescent werewolf, and a girl living in suburbia? The pilot is open-ended and characters like Lily and Marilyn don’t get much of a story. Honestly, I’m not even sure where the story might go. But it would be an awfully fun ride.

If you’re in the US, you can watch Mockingbird Lane on Hulu.

Since it’s October, this post is also a part of Blogger Dressed in Blood!

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (10/29/12)

It’s the last three days of October. Where did the month go? NaNoWriMo looms large and this blog is going on semi hiatus during November. I have intentions of keeping up with reviews, Throwback Thursday (featuring writing-aspected books), and maybe writing a Friday writing summary. This is The Writerly Reader after all. If you’re joining the NaNo insanity in November, you can find me on the NaNo site as Katen.

This Week I’m Reading:

Since I’m endeavoring to write a historical fiction about him, the next three days and probably the next couple of weeks with be filled with

David P. Abbott’s Collected Works*

as curated by me via Google Books.

Plus, some more history of Omaha, NE. Omaha is my hometown, as well as Abbott’s, and it’s amusing to me how much history is lost on the young. When I was a kid, I couldn’t have given two figs about the history of anywhere including my place of birth. It was all dates and names. It’s only now that I’m interested in the stories, the best parts of history.

*There is a two-volume set of Abbott’s notes and writings entitled House of Mystery The Magic Science of David P. Abbott,edited and expanded by Teller and Todd Karr. It’s $100. A little too steep of a price for me at this stage of the game.

The Usual:

Aside from Poetic Edda & two chapters of A Clash of Kings, I’m probably not going to worry too much about keeping with poems and short stories. On average, I’ve hit my goals with shorter works.

Throwback Thursday (10/25/12)

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books!

Noting that book blogging onften focuses on new releases, here’s how Throwback Thursday works:

  1. Pick a book released more than 5 years ago.
  2. Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it.
  3. Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
  4. Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!

Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie by Wade Davis

In 1982, Harvard-trained ethnobotanist Wade Davis traveled into the Haitian countryside to research reports of zombies–the infamous living dead of Haitian folklore. A report by a team of physicians of a verifiable case of zombification led him to try to obtain the poison associated with the process and examine it for potential medical use.Interdisciplinary in nature, this study reveals a network of power relations reaching all levels of Haitian political life. It sheds light on recent Haitian political history, including the meteoric rise under Duvalier of the Tonton Macoute. By explaining zombification as a rational process within the context of traditional Vodoun society, Davis demystifies one of the most exploited of folk beliefs, one that has been used to denigrate an entire people and their religion. (via Goodreads)

I’m not a fan of zombie fiction. There’s a few instances here and there, but generally, I find zombies as monsters to be kind of boring. They are a method of increasing peril and not much more. Once you’ve watched the first two Romero films and Shaun of the Dead, what more is there? What I am intrigued by is the real phenomenon of Haitian zombies.

From my original entry, 09/21/2008:

There was some reason, about two or three years ago, that research into Haitian zombies was important to me. Can’t remember now why, but it’s still an interesting subject and one that intrigued me before I got on a research kick. Davis seems to be “the” guy in this field. I watched The Serpent and the Rainbow ages ago and was fascinated by the concept that there might be a non-supernatural aspect to zombies; that they might actually exist and be a useful tool within a society. Unfortunately, the film goes rather stupidly supernatural at its end and undermines any credibility. Still, I was surprised to find that the film was based on a book. Or at least shared the same title as a book. I eventually tracked down that book, as well as this one both by Davis, through PaperbackSwap.

Several things that struck me about Davis’ research. He’s very conscientious about cataloging what’s in “zombie powder” and how it might be administered, but he seems to miss a few points that play into the behavioral aspect of zombie-dom. First, that even though someone might be able to survive a fairly nasty neurotoxin as well as being interred for a length of time, brain damage is probably likely to occur. That a zombie forgets his family, past, etc. shouldn’t be surprising. Second, Davis related the myth that salt can restore a zombie to his previous levels of cognition, breaking the spell, if you will, or at least enraging the monster. Despite not finding any reasonable explanation for why this should be, salt is nevertheless withheld from the zombie. Now, it is extremely unlikely that all salt is withheld. A man can’t live without salt. But let’s think about being denied extraneous salt and being made to work out doors in a hot humid atmosphere. I’ve been mildly dehydrated and probably suffered from slight hyponatremia while watching ultimate frisbee in Florida. About all I was inclined to do by the end of the afternoon was lay in a tent and listen to other players heckle. Withholding salt might just be a way of keeping a man pliable.

I’m also surprised that they (academia, historians, popular media, whomever) seemed to think that if zombies could be made, they were being made in a random fashion. Random fear-inducing behaviors really don’t go over well in societies. Davis does a good job of showing how the practice is tolerated within Vodoun and Haitian society. How such a seemingly strange and terrible practice can be an accepted part of a society is valuable to me as a world builder.

This is a fairly academic work, but on a pretty interesting subject.

Book # 32*

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Ebba Segerberg (Translator)

I don’t quite remember why I decided to read this book. I had watched both the Swedish movie and the US remake. I liked both and, if you know the movie, you know there’s some ambiguity surrounding the Eli/Abby character. Maybe I was interested in how Lindqvist drew the character in the novel versus his screen adaptation. But, I don’t really remember. Regardless of what my picking rational was, it was a good choice.

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night….

The book Let the Right One In has a few more threads than the movie and therefore some of the plot takes a while to get going. The payoff is that we know the characters better and that makes some of the ending events all the more horrifying. We also get to know Eli more, including some history.

It’s always tough to judge writing when translation is involved. Occasionally, the way something was expressed felt a little awkward. More plot means more characters and sometimes keeping everyone straight was a challenge. On the other hand, as a writer, it was nice to read a story that had more than one thing going on.

I’m also appreciative of how the young characters are handled. My biggest beef with much of YA fiction is that, as an adult, it doesn’t mean much to me. The angst and heartbreaks of growing up seem to be handled pretty superficially. Non-“YA” fiction with young characters project these things in a way that still resonates with me as an adult. Off the top of my head, the other example of this that I can think of is Stephen King’s “The Body.”  I’m fully open to the notion that not all YA is like this, but my opinion is reflective of my experience of it this far. As always, I’m feeling out the reasons that some things catch with me and some thing don’t.

Lindqvist wrote the screenplay for the original movie and I find the adaptation very good. All the dramatic beats remained intact. The story still told well, but in a more compact form. The US version of the film shorted the title to Let Me In, which is okay, I guess. For the book though, Let the Right One In fits so much better. All these characters, every single one, makes the choice of whom to let in.

Format: Trade Paperback
Procurement: PaperbackSwap
Bookmark: Calling Card, mine, not filled out

* My numbering is out of order because I wanted to get my impression of Every House Is Haunted out closer to its release date.

Blogging Triple Play!

R.I.P. Progress Report #7

The purpose of R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII is to enjoy books and movies/television that could be classified (by you) as: Mystery. Suspense. Thriller. Dark Fantasy. Gothic. Horror. Supernatural. Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.

Lots to do in this final week of October. Finish work on one manuscript, ready myself for NaNoWriMo, finish reading some books. Wait a minute, that’s a week of total awesome-ness!  Since it’s October, this post is also a part of Blogger Dressed in Blood!

I really like Tor’s blog. Sure, it’s a publisher’s website and they want you to purchase product, but it’s also a hub for sci-fi/fantasy/horror news, commentary, art, and lots of great free fiction. This week is Ghost Week at Tor which is happiness for me. Ghosts are one of my favorite fiction tropes. Thus far, they’ve featured two ghost stories.

“The Terrible Old Man” by H.P. Lovecraft – I’ll be honest; I’m not a Lovecraft fan. I’ve found his writing to be too ornate, too oblique. Elder gods just don’t do it for me. (Although I can’t escape H.P.’s influence on me. “He who will not be named” does not evoke Harry Potter for me and, due to its tentacle-rich logo, this restaurant will always be known to me as Fish House of the Elder Gods.) This story was a nice, short, classic creepy house story. And one with the old-fashioned notion of the bad-guy getting their just deserts.

“Too Fond” by Leanna Renee Hieber – A lovely ghostly romance. I’m not familiar with Leanna Renee Hieber, but I suspect I will be reading her in the future. Yeah, if I’m reading a romance, it probably involves a ghost. Doubly great, a Scottish ghost.

Se7en was my favorite David Fincher movie until I saw Zodiac (2007). That’s not to say that Se7en isn’t great, but to me it’s more of a gimmick movie. Se7en has this ever-present darkness and rain (except for the ending) that are maybe too pervasive. The characters are easy foils for each other. The killings, based on the seven deadly sins, are too narrative and well executed. Se7en is too much of a fiction for me.

Zodiac is a more grounded movie, grounded in the 1960s-70s’ Zodiac killings. While the movie primarily follows cartoonist and writer Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), the lives and fates of many other characters are woven in and out of the narrative, most notably journalist Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) and inspector David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo).  The crimes, committed in several counties in California, vaguely fit a pattern. The investigation is hampered by multiple jurisdictions and lack of communication. The police and press work with and against each other. In the meantime, whoever might have been the Zodiac Killer fades away and becomes a cold case. Yes, for me, the movie based on real life where the killer gets away is more satisfying than the well-told fiction (even when the latter has a good twist ending).

I adore the writing in this movie. It’s witty and sly, and not just when Robert Downey Jr. is on screen. Like Se7en, it has a character that reveres books. The acting is excellent and the cast is filled with great character actors in small parts (Elias Koteas, Brian Cox, Clea DuVall, Donal Logue, John Carroll Lynch). The look and soundtrack of the movie are firmly placed in late 60s and early 70s California. While the pacing is rather deliberate, there are several scenes which make my skin crawl every time I see them. I can’t say that for Se7en or what might be Fincher’s third movie in a loose crime trilogy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (10/22/12)

Today I’ll be finishing up my read of Eric’s current project, The Ysenoid (not its real title), and then finishing up Dark Water. I have about 80 pages left.

This Week I’m Reading:

Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold

The response to Glen David Gold’s debut novel, Carter Beats the Devil was extraordinary. He hypnotized us with his portrait of a 1920s magic-obsessed America and of Charles Carter—a.k.a. Carter the Great—a young master performer whose skill as an illusionist exceeded even that of the great Houdini.

Filled with historical references that evoke the excesses and exuberance of Roaring Twenties pre-Depression America, Carter Beats the Devil is a complex and illuminating story of one man’s journey through a magical and sometimes dangerous world, where illusion is everything. (Goodreads)

On loan to me from Ken, it would probably be good if I got it back to him at league finals (on the 16th).

Short Story of the Week

It’s ghost week over at Tor. I love ghosts. I don’t believe in ’em, but I enjoy the concept.

The Usual

A poem, a section of Poetic Edda  & two chapters of A Clash of Kings.

Writing This Week

I need to finish this polish of Luck for Hire by the end of October. I have eight chapters left and probably a chapter or two to write. I’m shooting for a chapter a day.

My Own Readathon

I missed Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon last weekend. Today, I’m going to hold my own. Silly? Yeah, I suppose, but it’s a long way until the spring readathon, and I really need a weekend to decompress. Don’t know if I’ll make it 24 hours. I’m going to a thing tonight at ASU and there’s a football game which I’ll probably listen to, but I just want to enjoy myself, mostly alone, and engage in one of my top five activities.

Reading List

  • Two chapters of A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin Done
  • A section or two of Poetic Edda. Done
  • A poem or two. Done
  • The Ysenoid – This isn’t entirely a goof-off weekend. I’ll be reading my husband’s manuscript.
  • Finish Dark Water by Koji Suzuki
  • Start Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold

Progress

09:31, Saturday – Starting Line

10:31, Saturday
Book: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin, starting on pg.86-108
Total Pages Read: 22
Food & Drink: Quaker Soft Baked Oatmeal Cookie, yesterday’s coffee remnant (blech!).
Noise: Planes outside.
Environment: Backroom.
Other Activity: This post.

11:29, Saturday
Book: Poetic Edda, starting at pg. 103-111; Cooking for the Dead by Peter Chiykowski, Sleeping Beauty and the Vampire RoseZombie wedding chant  Rhea Rose
Total Pages Read: 33
Food & Drink: Toasted Hazelnut Coffee, Mini-Twix
Noise: Same.
Environment: Same.
Other Activity: Updated blog tags/widgets. Fought with Kindle Cloud Reader, Caught up with Facebook.

12:32, Saturday
Book: Dark Water by Koji Suzuki, pg. 191-202; Ysenoid, pg 1-10
Total Pages Read: 54
Food & Drink: Mini-Snickers, water, remains of an engery drink I forgot in the ‘fridge.
Noise: Same.
Environment: Same.
Other Activity: Talked to Eric a tiny bit.

16:11, Saturday
Book: —
Total Pages Read: 54
Food & Drink: Made “dinner”: Spanish rice, leftover fried chicken, tomato salad. Diet Mtn Dew. Mini-Twix.
Noise: Nebraska/Northwestern game.
Environment: Same.
Other Activity: VOTS scores. Football game/EQ2.

17:23, Saturday
Book: Ysenoid, pg 11-24
Total Pages Read: 67
Food & Drink: None
Noise: 31 Flavors of October Playlist
Environment: Same.
Other Activity: None.

23:04, Saturday
Book: —
Total Pages Read: 67
Food & Drink: Cherry Coke Zero
Noise: —
Environment: —
Other Activity: Attended Great Debate: Origins of Deception

00:04, Sunday
Book: Ysenoid, pg 25-35
Total Pages Read: 77
Food & Drink: Red Baron Pizza Bread, 2 Mini-Twix, Mini-Milky Way, Water, Caramel Apple Coffee
Noise: Horror Music: 31 Flavors of October Playlist
Environment: Same.
Other Activity: Checked the internet.

01:08, Sunday
Book: Ysenoid, pg 36-51
Total Pages Read: 92
Food & Drink: Vodka
Noise: Horror Music: Music from Sherlock
Environment: Same.
Other Activity: Short nap.