Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

I Hope Everyone Has A Safe And Fun Halloween!

By the way, I have a guest post at Castle Macabre, the horror blog that my good friend Michelle has.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mailbox Monday for 10/29/12

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme created by Marcia at Mailbox Monday 

I received hardcovers of A Christmas Home by Greg Kincaid and Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann from the publisher, Crown, for review.

I received a hardcover of These Things Happen by Richard Kramer for an upcoming TLC Book Tour.

The lovely Beth of Beth's Book Reviews sent a lovely package to me.  She included paperbacks of Black Plumes and Pearls Before Swine by Margery Allingham and Black Orchids by Rex Stout.  She also included some wonderful homemade cookies that I can't stop eating.  The made some wonderful cakey chocolate chip cookies and maple cookies.  The lovely tin of apple cider tea was lovely as well.

On a trip to a used bookstore, I picked up paperbacks of Man Missing and Wolf in Man's Clothing by Mignon G. Eberhart.  I also got The Emperor's Snuff-Box by John Dickson Carr.

I picked up a $5 DVD of The Exorcist from Wal-Mart.

I picked up two DVDs at Barnes & Noble for 50% of each, "I Confess" and Vertigo.

I'm only showing one cover, but on a trip to the flea market, I picked up 22 Doctor Strange comics.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Case of the Lucky Legs by Erle Stanley Gardner

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Perry Mason stared at the telegram...


He turned his attention to his desk.  It was a picture of a beautiful girl - from the tops of her silken-clad legs down.  Clipped to it was a slip of paper which read "The Girl with the Lucky Legs."

It looked like a most delightful case.  But that was before the famous lawyer-detective found himself right up to his neck in a swirl of locked door, swindles and murder!

When a young woman enters a beautiful legs contest, where the winner gets a movie contract, she has no idea what about to happen to her life.  After winning, she is taken to L.A. and left to fend for herself.  The business leaders of her town who were talked into financing the contest, were cheated out of the their money, and now two different suitors are in the city trying to find her and avenge her humiliation.  When the man who pulled off the con is found dead, it looks like there is no lack for suspects.  It could be one of two girls that fell for the scam, or it could be a young lady who came in second.  It could be one of the two suitors arriving in town, one who threatened the guy, the other who is willing to do anything to win the girl.

When Perry is hired to find the young lady in the picture, he didn't know that he was about to be mixed up with murder, blackmail, a frame up of unbelievable proportion, and be wanted by the police for hiding a fugitive.  Of course that last bit is pretty much standard fare for the attorney.  He knows the law, and how far he can push it.  Sometimes the cops think he's pushing it beyond it's borders, but Perry always manages to come up on top in these matters. It's when he's the most effective and dangerous.

This was an ingeniously layered mystery that seemed unbelievable at first.  How can anyone killer be able to control so many twists and turns without it being too contrived or sloppy.  Most authors would not have been able to pull this off, but Erle Stanley Gardner seems to do it effortlessly.  Most literary detectives would look like a fool in such situations, but Perry Mason comes across as confidant in his abilities to solve the caper.

Challenges: VM (Cherchez le Homme)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Favorite Fictional Character --- Rosemary Woodhouse

It's only one more week till Halloween, and I'm not sure what's scaring me more.  I've been watching a ton of scary movies and I've watched the last three presidential debates.  I don't want to offend anyone, but if you know me and my politics, you can probably figure out which one of the two candidates scares the snot out of me.  It's as if the writers in Hollywood are being challenge for creativity.  One of the two men seems to rival the scariest alien chameleon, in how he is able to morph into whatever he thinks people want to hear.  But anyway, I digress.  I will leave the politicking alone, and introduce you to one of the most tragic heroines to ever grace a horror movie.

I'm going to admit right up front that my favorite sub genre of horror is the satanic conspiracy, especially those books and movies that seemed to pop up during the 60s and 70s.  For what ever reason, I just can't seem to get enough of them.  I'm always a little unsure in my head which movie hooked me first.  I know it's either The Sentinel (1977), Satan's School for Girls (1973, or Rosemary's Baby (1968).  I know others would list The Omen (1976) or The Exorcist (1973) as their first experience, but I'm pretty sure I didn't see either movie until I was an adult.  One thing I do know, it's Rosemary's Baby that has left the biggest impression on me, mainly because of the wonderful job Mia Farrow did in portraying Rosemary Woodhouse.

When Rosemary married Guy Woodhouse, she wasn't expecting much.  She wanted a loving relationship, a kid or two, and a nice home to start her new life in.  When they find the perfect apartment, their neighbors seem nice, if a trifle odd, and everything seems to be going the way she always wanted it to.  What she is unaware of, is her husband's growing desperation to hit it big.  He's been a struggling actor for so long that he is willing to do anything, including selling his soul to the Devil to make it big.

Of course poor, timid Rosemary has no idea this is going on behind her back.  When she becomes pregnant, she welcomes the news and gets ready to welcome the newest Woodhouse into the world, not knowing that he is really the son of Satan.  Through the odd behavior of her husband, the bizarreness of the neighbors, and some large leaps of imagination, Rosemary eventually comes around to the realization that she is having the Devil's baby, and from there she goes crazy.

Now I could leave it there and not really explain why I love a woman who started off so passive and meek, and ends up in the deep end with no lifeguard on duty.  It's because of the way she was brought to life by the actress who played her,   Mia Farrow did such a phenomenal job portraying a woman who has her life ripped out from underneath her that I can't imagine another actress in the roll.  Rosemary starts off as the submissive, mild wife who is willing to do anything to please her husband.  It's only with the revelation that things might not be what they seem, the a more dominant aggressive Rosemary emerges.

I don't know if it's the idea of a maternal instinct kicking in, or if it's the influence of Satan's see inside her, but the new Rosemary becomes quite the fighter.  As the pregnancy develops and complications occur, she starts to overcome her fears and fight for her baby.  She starts to suspect the neighbors of making her ill and it's only after she does her own research, that she discovers the truth of what is happening to her.  What really fascinates me though, is how her journey comes full circle.  

Rosemary has become this fierce presence that is willing to take on Lucifer for the life of her baby, when she fails, she is even willing to kill her own child to stop him from wrecking havoc on the world.  But once she seems him, surrounded by his group of admiring cultists, her whole facade crumbles.  She becomes the meek woman who wants nothing more than to have her family, whole and intact.  She once again subjugates herself to her husband, or at least that is the way it appears at the end of the movie.  I have never read the book so I'm not sure how it compares, but her complete full circle transformation in the movies fascinates me every time I see it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Murder in Pastiche by Marion Mainwaring

Synopsis From Back Cover:

When a notorious gossip columnist is murdered aboard luxury liner Florabunda, the Chief Officer is sure the crime will be solved in no time.

For on the passenger list, by coincidence, are nine world famous detectives:  Jerry Pason, Spike Bludgeon, Trajan Beare, Atlas Poireau, Sir Jon. Nappleby, Broderick Tourneur, Miss Fan Silver, Mallory King and Lord Simon Quinsey.  In such a spot what murderer could hope to get away?

I've never been a huge fan of mystery parodies.  Maybe it's because I really hated Murder by Death, the really horrible parody movie from 1976, from the first time I watched it.  Now I know many people who love the movie, I just can never get into it.  I even tried watching it again once I was done with this book, I still can't stand it.

As you can tell by the names in the synopsis, this is a parody to rival all parodies.  It takes nine famous literary detectives, changes their names, and sets them on a boat where a rat like man is bumped off by a person or persons unknown.  If you are familiar with a good swath of detective fiction, you should be able to figure out who they are by the names, if not, the author takes it too another level.  She breaks the book down into sections, each section details the steps an individual sleuth takes to solve the case.  She not only uses the methods the detective would use, but she tries to duplicate the style of the actual authors who created the originals.  Now this wouldn't be a parody if the author didn't exaggerate the style and methods of both the creation and the creator.  She takes their quirks and makes jokes out of them, she takes their personalities and makes them into cartoons.

I think this is where mystery parody loses me, what I enjoy about most of the "real" detectives are their quirks and strange methodology.  Even if I whine and cry about a certain detective's egotism, I wouldn't have it any other way.  With the detectives I love, I don't mind that certain words get used too much or that every mystery they investigate can be solved using the same unique technique.  It's what makes Golden Age detective more interesting and different from the generic cozy mystery sleuths of today.

Now I'm not saying Murder in Pastiche was bad, it was okay.  They mystery and the motive I found to be clever and worthy of such a collection of heroes.  Other than the over the top Spike Bludgeon section, I didn't mind the author's version of these classic characters.  I just think that I prefer the original over the parody.

Challenges:  VM (Golden Age Girls)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mailbox Monday for 10/22/12

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme created by Marcia at Mailbox Monday 

I received a trade paperback of Blood Line by Lynda La Plante for an upcoming TLC Book Tour.

George McGovern, 1922-2012

I woke up this morning to new that one of my political heroes, the former senator and presidential candidate, George McGovern had passed away.  A true liberal, in every way, McGovern fought for the issues I cared about and never apologized for his beliefs.

He started his public service career as a pilot in World War II.  He served with bravery and distinction, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross.  He started his political career in the 1950s in the House of Representatives, before moving to the Senate.  He ran for president in 1972, but was beaten handily by Richard Nixon.  I think many of us would like to believe things in this country would have been so much better had McGovern won.

George McGovern was a true public servant who should be thanked and honored for his years of service.  He will be missed.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Mr. Shaitana is famous as a flamboyant party host.  Nevertheless, he is a man of whom everybody is a little afraid.  So when he boasts to Hercule Poirot that he considers murder an art form, the detective has some reservations about accepting a party invitation to view Shaitana's "private collection."

Indeed, what begins as an absorbing evening of bridge is to turn into a more dangerous game altogether....

I can think of very few characters that leave me both elated and annoyed at the same time, Hercule Poirot is one such character for me.  I really seem to have this bizarre love/hate relationship with him, that thankfully seems to be shared with his creator, Agatha Christie.  He is such a pompous, egotistical little guy, that I should be really disgusted by his attitude.  Fortunately, or not, his superiority complex is so well deserved, that no matter how annoying he can be, I can't help but excuse his irritating manner.  He deserves to act in such a fashion, because the man is brilliant.  He may be eccentric, egocentric, and just a bit of a dandy, but he's earned it all.  I take my hat off to him and his mustache.

In Cards on the Table, Poirot is invited to a dinner party to see Shaitana's "collection" of real life murderers.        When Poirot arrives, he is greeted by his host and a few of the other guests, who are not part of the collection.  Along with Poirot, Shaitana invited three other guests who are involved in the business of murder, but who don't commit murders themselves.  Along for the ride are Colonel Johnny Race, Superintendent Battle, and mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver.  Shortly thereafter, the showcases arrive, four men and women who Shaitana thinks committed murders that they got away with.  When the dinner party separates for bridge, the four suspects to one room, the four detectives to another, the party seems to be winding down.  When the party ends with Shaitana dead in a chair by the fireplace in the room the suspects were playing in, it seems that his "joke" bit him in the ass.

It seems it's up to Poirot and the others to figure out what happened and which of the other guests are actually guilty of murder, maybe more than one.  The investigation takes some winding turns and a few other bodies show up to muddy the waters, but in true Poirot fashion, the reality of the crime is never far from his little grey cells.  He, with the help of the others, puts all the pieces together and shows us all why he deserves to have an ego that's bigger than he is.

Challenges:  VM (Golden Age Girls)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Favorite Fictional Character --- Jack Skellington

If you know me, you know that my two favorite days are Halloween and Christmas.  If it were possible I would designate every Monday as Halloween and every Friday as Christmas.  Every once in a while we could have Thanksgiving on Wednesday, as long as I didn't have to eat turkey all the time.  I'm not sure how it even makes sense for me to love both days so evenly, especially since they are both so different.  One celebrates everything that is dark and twisted, the other celebrates everything that is love and life.  Maybe because they are so different that they speak to both aspects of myself.  So when I'm able to get both things in one, I feel as if I've been uplifted to Xanadu.  I fell in love with The Nightmare Before Christmas the moment the curtain went and the opening credits began.  It was this magical world filled with some of the most amazing characters I've ever come across, so when it came time to pick one for this post, I was a little stuck.  But I couldn't do this without taking about the Pumpkin King himself, Jack Skellington.

The first image of Jack Skellington is when he's entering Halloween Town on his triumphant return from another terrific Halloween on Earth.  The denizens of the town are singing about his extraordinary abilities to put the fear into us normal humans.  But he can tell that something isn't quite right with him.  Once he is out of the view of his subjects, his face falls and his true feeling come out.  He just doesn't feel it anymore, there is no magic in scaring people, he's lost the love of the game and he doesn't know how to get it back.  As he wonders the woods with his faithful dog, Zero, he comes upon what he thinks must be the answer.

He discovers the gateways to all the the other holidays, and through sheer luck, he falls into Christmas Town, and neither holiday will ever be the same again.  He thinks he's found what he's been missing, something new and different that sends warm chills up his undead back.  Instead of enjoying Christmas for what it is though, Jack decided he must make it is and "improve upon it."

It's only after things go horribly wrong for him that he begins to understand that Christmas and Halloween are more than just places or the actions of one night.  They are both special and unique feelings and sensations that all of us cherish for different reasons.  It's the classic coming home story where the protagonist has to go through a lot to realize they were already home.  In the end Jack, much like myself, understands that it's okay to love both holidays.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Case of the Borrowed Brunette by Erle Stanley Gardner

Synopsis From Back Cover:

A Brunette on every corner!

Perry Mason and Della Street counted eight in succession, standing on corners a black apart, before pulling up to the curb to investigate.  That's how they met Cora Felton, the eighth brunette, and Eva Martell, her roommate, and Adelle Winters, the chaperone who carried a .32-caliber revolver as a persuader.

It wasn't just curiosity for long because Mr. Hines, who paid Eva $50 a day to wear another woman's clothes, was found dead with a bullet in his brain, and Perry Mason himself was suspected by the police of hiding the killer.  To get out of that jam he had to find a lot of right answers, quick, from a lot of wrong people.

It had been a while since I've picked up a Perry Mason book, but with the Hallmark Movie Channel showing a couple of episodes a day, I was feeling a burning desire to delve into the Perry Mason that exists on the page.  Now I'm not saying I don't love Raymond Burr as Perry Mason, cause I do.  I had the hugest crush on him as a kid, hence my life long love of all things Mason related.  But the Perry in the books is just a bit harder, which makes him just a bit sexier.

This time around, Perry gets mixed up with a scheme that seems to have no purpose.  Why would Mr. Hines want Eva to pose as another woman?  There doesn't seem to be anything illegal at first, but when Mr. Hines ends up dead and Adelle's gun is found in a garbage bin, everything is turned upside down.  It quickly becomes apparent that the woman Eva was impersonating was up to no good, and that Mr. Hines was in on it.  But is she the murderer, or did Adelle or Eva do it?  It's up to Perry, with the help of Paul Drake, to find out what is going on before someone else ends up with a bullet in the head.

It was an intriguing mystery that kept me guessing almost the entire time.  There were a few times that I thought I knew who the killer was, but then something else would happen and I would start second guessing myself.  In the end I did figure it out before the big reveal, but some aspects of how Perry figured it out never even dawned on me as important.  What I really enjoy about this series is that none of the plots feel rehashed, I'm sure a few are, but Gardner was adapt at making them feel fresh.

Challenges:  A-Z, VM (Cherchez le Homme)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Arlen Specter, 1930-2012

I'm not going to say too much about the life and career of Arlen Specter, but I did want to take notice of his passing today as he lost his latest fight with cancer.  As a star prosecutor and a U.S. Senator for just around 30 years, Arlen Specter served his country faithfully and with honor.  Love him or hate him, and I have cause to do both, he was a dedicated public servant and he deserves our thanks.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

4th Annual List of the Sexiest Vampires

Now that the weather has turned a bit chilly, it's time to start thinking of ways to keep warm during those cold nights.  When the wind is howling and the shadows outside your bedroom window start to look ominous, we all like to hunker down in bed, warm and secure.  Now I'm not advocating that a vampire is the best choice for a companion during such an endeavor, but with some of these killer men and women, how can it be an altogether bad decision?  I promise I won't judge.

Now don't worry if your favorite didn't make this year's list, chances are they were included during 2009, 2010, or 2011.  If not, it's only a matter of time before your personal creature of the night makes the list.

The Men

Shane Powers, as played by Angus Sutherland in Lost Boys: The Tribe.  

Elijah Mikaelson, as played by Daniel Gillies on The Vampire Diaries.  

Eric Northman, as played by Alexander Skarsgard in True Blood.

Black Hat, as played by Karl Urban in Priest.

Jerry Dandridge, as played by Colin Farrell in the remake of Fright Night.

The Women

Sonja, as played by Rhona Mitra in Underworld:  Rise of the Lycans.  For those keeping score, this is the second time a character played by Rhona Mitra has made the list.

Valerie Sharpe. as played by Jeri Ryan in Dracula 2000.

Sarah Shagal, as played by Sharon Tate in The Fearless Vampire Killers.

Dracula's Bride, as played by Monica Bellucci in Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Elena Gilbert, as played by Nina Dobrev in The Vampire Diaries.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Town That Forgot How to Breathe by Kenneth J. Harvey

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Something strange is happening in the seaside town of Bareneed.  Mythical creatures are being pulled from the sea, perfectly preserved corpses of long-lost villagers are washing up on the shore, and resident of the town are suddenly overcome by a mysterious illness that is making them forget how to breathe.

This was one of those books I picked up when our second Borders location was closing, something I still can't believe ever happened.  I was perusing the fiction aisles and since I couldn't see the cover, it was the title that jumped out at me.  Once I pulled it off the shelf, I no longer cared what the book would even be about, I was in love with the cover.  I really wish this picture could do it justice, but it doesn't even come close.  There are so many details done in a glossy black that just shimmers and captures the eye.  The best part is something you couldn't even begin to experience through the picture, the images and title all have this wonderful texture to them.  I love to run my hands over the cover, spine, and back.  This is why I can't do ebooks, I would be missing out on this wonderful tactile joy.  You can feel each splash of water, you can see the light play over the splashes, highlighting some, then others as the light changes.  You can't get that from a electronic screen, so you can keep your ebooks, I'll stick the real deal.

Maybe you have guessed by know that my focus on the cover is my subtle way to avoid what's inside the cover.  It's actually something I've been avoiding for a while now, I actually started this post a week and a half ago.  It's not the I hated the book, that would be better than what I'm feeling.  In reality, I'm pretty damn neutral on it.  I'm so neutral, I have nothing to say, zip, zero, zilch.    At this point in time, I would be hard pressed to name even one character, without cheating.

I can remember enjoying the story for the most part, especially in the beginning.  People stop breathing, not because they can't, but because they don't remember how.  Mermaids, krakens, fairies, and ghosts are starting to appear all over town, and bodies that have been in the sea for decades (or longer) are washing up on shore as if they just fell in.  It's once the author tried to tie in a message that I sort of lost track of where I was or what was going on.  I get human advancements, especially electricity or radio waves have probably interfered with our environment in ways I can't even begin to imagine, I'm just not sure this was quite the right avenue to explore those concepts.  Now I know the book was supposed to deal with life and death, our ties to the past and the world we live in, and I think there was even a hint or two about how we should treat each other.  That all got lost for me in this strange hodgepodge of genres, themes, and realities.

I know for a fact, and I could even name of few of them, that some of my fellow bloggers would love this book.  They would be able to get lost in the story, be terrified by some of the happenings, and maybe even learn a lesson or two.  I'm just not one of them.  So for now, I'll be happy running my fingers over the cover, getting lost in the texture and beauty that resides on the surface.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Favorite Fictional Character --- Ichabod Crane

When it starts to get a little chilly out, when the nights start to get a little longer, when the wind gets a little crazier in the night, when the shadows start to suggest things your brain doesn't want to think about, and when the slightest noises start to creep me out, I love nothing more than to put A DVD in and allow myself to get as scared as I've ever been.  Now some of those movies, may not bet the typical horror movies most minds turn to during the month of October.  Since I was a kid, some of the scariest scenes have been found in cartoons.  Who can watch the "Night on Bald Mountain" scene in Fantasia and not be scared.  As a kid, it terrified me.  Leave it to Disney to be the creator of some of my favorite Halloween images.  Today's Favorite Fictional Character post comes from another Disney creation, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.  We will be leaving the Mr. Toad part out of this post, though I have nothing against Mr. Toad and friends.  Instead I will focus on Ichabod Crane, the wandering school teacher who settles down in Sleepy Hollow.

I must admit, and I'm ashamed to say, that I have yet to read Washington Irving's tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  It's an oversight I always mean to correct, but have yet to do so.  So today's post will not be about the character found amongst Mr. Irving's pages.  Nor is he the police inspector played by Johnny Depp in Sleepy Hollow, not one of my favorite Burton films.  Instead, my focus is on the Disney version, the gangly school teacher who struts into Tarry-Town and sets all the heads wagging in bewilderment.

Our Ichabod Crane is tall and lean, has shovels for feet, and a nose a bird could land on.  His knees stick out, his ears flap in the wind, and his ponytail could be used to pop a balloon.  He has the oddest shape, but all the women seem to fall for him anyway.  He has the voice of an angel, and even gives some of the local women voice lessons.  Of course they are after him, more than improving their voices.  He is the nerdiest of nerds, who still gets the women.  He is every gawky kid's hero.

Our intrepid hero has one little fault though, well two of them actually.  First of all, he's a little greedy for the "gentle" life.  He likes food, and when I say he likes food, he really likes food.  You wouldn't guess it by looking at him, but the man can put away whole chickens and still leave room for a pie or two.  He would love to settle down, well let's face it, with a rich wife who would be able to provide the life he so wants to live.  He thought he found it in the lovely Katrina Van Tassell, who seems to enjoy the attention a bit too much.  Or maybe she just likes to play him of her other suitor, Brom Bones.  She's a little minx who loves to watch the two men chase her over fields of golden wheat.  I'm not sure whether Ichabod is attracted to Katrina's look or her father's wealth the most, either way, he's set on winning her affections.

That brings us to Halloween night, and poor Ichabod's other fault.  He's superstitious to the core.  He won't walk under a ladder, cross the path of a black cat, and knows what to do when the salt is spilled.  He's a full fledged believer in spooks and spirits, and doesn't want to cross them.  It's a weakness Brom Bones is only too willing to exploit.  On Halloween Night, at the Van Tassell's party, Brom Bones tells the story of The Headless Horseman.   It's a story that Brom Bones hopes to scare the bejesus out of Ichabod to the point he will give up on Katrina, and leave her to Brom.

Now I'm not going to tell you what happen next, though I must say, every time I watch it, my pulse picks up and I sit up a little straighter.  Even though I know what comes at the end, I get nervous and a bit twitchy.  I urge Ichabod across that covered bridge, hoping against hope that somehow the end will change.  It never does, and deep down, I don't want it to.  Now you could choose to believe the rumors about his happy life in another town, but I don't.  I know what happened to poor Ichabod, and I'm so glad I get to witness it every Halloween.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mailbox Monday for 10/8/12

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme created by Marcia at Mailbox Monday 

I received an ARC of Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia Macneal as part of an upcoming TLC Book Tour.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Victory Lab by Sasha Issenberg

Part Of The Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

The Victory Lab follows the academics and maverick operatives rocking the war room and reengineering a high-stakes industry previously run on little more than gut instinct and outdated assumptions.  Armed with research from behavioral psychology and randomized experiments that treat voters as unwitting guinea pigs, the smartest campaigns now believe they know who you will vote for even before you do.  Issenberg tracks these fascinating techniques - which include cutting edge persuasion experiments, innovative ways to mobilize voters, and statistical models predicting the behavior of every voter in the country - and shows how much our most important figures, such as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, are putting these techniques to use with surprising skill and alacrity.

I don't often have the experience of reading a book about politics that scares the hell out of me, and fascinates me at the same time.  There isn't a lot about politics that I find scary, well not that I want to say on here.  I know some of my blog readers have very differing political views, so I will leave that for Facebook.  The mechanics of politics, don't normally install a sense of doom in me in quite the same way as the idea of certain people holding office.  Now I'm not saying The Victory Lab is a harbinger of the End Times, but some of it had me wishing I could move to a small remote cabin in the middle of the woods and hide from those who's job it is to convince me to vote a certain way.

I'm amazed by the rapid growth int he campaign industry and the way political consultants, with a lot of accuracy, can figure out who will vote, how they'll vote, and what can get them to change their minds.  As a political junkie, I found The Victory Lab to be fascinating look at the history and the current applications of this information and how it is collected.  As a private individual who would like to think I'm unique and can't be quantified in such a manner, I find the whole concept to be utterly baffling and confusing.  When I really think about it though, I must admit that the men and women who get paid to figure this stuff out, know what they are talking about.

Now for the giveaway.  I have one copy, generously offered by the publisher, up for grabs.  If you are interested in entering, please leave a comment with your email address.  The giveaway is, I believe, only open to residents of the US.  You will have until 11:59 pm CST, on October 18th to enter.  I will use to pick the winner. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Favorite Fictional Character --- Mr. Hood

I can never put my finger on it, but there is something about the month of October that has had me in it's spell as long as I can remember.  It could be the cooler temps, which I wait all summer for.  It could be the leaves on the trees first turning color, then falling to the ground with the wind.  It could be the nights that get longer, the days that get shorter, and the sun that isn't so bright.  It could even be the fact that I somehow give myself to indulge in horror movies, ghost stories, and the general creepiness that Halloween brings to the mix.  I have a feeling it's a mixture of all that, plus a little something extra.  When I figure out how to describe that extra little bit that makes October my favorite month, second only to December, I'll let you know.  

What October means for Wordsmithonia, is the idea that I get to play a little more than usual.  I'll be posting some extra posts during the month, featuring some of my favorite Halloweenish topics, plus my Favorite Fictional Character posts will be presenting some of my favorite characters this month makes me think about.    Today's character, Mr. Hood was a villain I was introduced to in the first Clive Barker book I ever read, The Thief of Always.  

The Mr. Hood you see in this picture, is not the Mr. Hood we are introduced to in the beginning.  That Mr. Hood is the mysterious benefactor of the Holiday House, a retreat for kids to escape their boring lives at home.  He is the invisible presence that runs the house and allows it's magics to work.   I guess you could even call Mr. Hood a dream catcher.  He hears the daydreams of kids who want nothing else but to escape the day by day routine of their lives.  He sends out "recruiters" to introduce the idea of Holiday House to the kids, a place where all their dreams will come true.  It's with the arrival of Harvey Swick to the Holiday House, that the action of the book begins.

Harvey is a bright lad, one that Mr. Hood takes a close interest in.  Harvey, like the rest of the kids, quickly become enraptured in the house and all the delights it has to offer.  Every day, brings all four seasons to the house.  The mornings are taking up the spring.  The afternoons are full of the laziness that summer brings. The  early evenings bring the delights of fall, including Halloween every night.  The nights are taken up by winter, and all the joys that Christmas can bring.  Mr. Hood does everything he can to make sure the kids are happy every moment of day.  The get every toy they could ever dream of for Christmas.  They get to dress up, and sometimes turn into, any monster their fevered minds dream up for Halloween.  They are given everything they could ask for, but have no clue the price they are paying.

You see, Mr. Hood isn't doing this out of the goodness of his heart.  In actuality, those poor kids are having the lives sucked out of them to feed Mr. Hood.  It's not physical hunger that Mr. Hood is sating, since he has no real body.  It's time that this creature needs to feed upon, time stolen from the kids he lures to the house.  You see everyday that goes by in Holiday House, is a year in the real world.  Years are stolen from them before they even begin to realize something is wrong.  Once they do, it's almost always too late.  Before they know it, they are joining the others in the bottomless dark lake, no longer human.  

If you hadn't notice, I threw in that almost always for a reason.  You see, Harvey Swick is about to be Mr. Hood's downfall.  What started off as a unlimited feast for Mr. Hood, is about to test him in a way he never thought possible.  Harvey and friend, managed to escape from Holiday House, only to find out the horrible truth once they returned home.  Their parents were old and, years ago, had given their sons up for dead.  Harvey, the strong willed young man that he is, understands the only way to get back what was stolen, was to return to Holiday House and confront the man who stole it from them, Mr. Hood.

Mr. Hood, the greedy individual that he is, understands what he has in Harvey.  He is willing to do whatever it takes to make Harvey stay at Holiday House, even tempting him with an apprenticeship of sorts.  He wants to train that mind to be what he is, but Harvey had other plans.  He overwhelms Mr. Hood with wishes, straining the powers that hold Mr. Hood and his house together.  Once the pressure become to much, it shatters the house and leaves Mr. Hood an automaton made up of the remnants of his home.  Let's just say that taking a body, wasnt' the best idea Mr. Hood had.  It makes him easier to kill, which Harvey proceeds to do with only a limited amount of trouble.

I must admit that after reading this post, you may be wondering why I chose to focus on Mr. Hood and not Harvey.  It's simple really, even though Harvey is the hero of the tale and wins the day in the end, Mr. Hood is the ultimate villain.  He is the perfect predator that all parents should fear.  He is the man who can lure our kids away with the promise of fun and excitement.  Forget the stranger in the van offering a kid a piece of candy, this is the creature that can lure the kid away with the promise of their own unlimited supply of toys and candy.  He is the individual that stalks our kids and uses their own dreams against them.  Despite his defeat at the end, he causes untold damage and sucked the lives out of countless kids.  He robbed them of their youth to feed his own cravings.  He is the predator we will never see, the ultimate bogeyman.  And for that, he deserves our respect and our fear.