Monday, April 30, 2012

Handsome, Smart and Deadly

The real Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy is the one serial killer who still to this day, terrifies the shit out of me. Maybe because when he started his killing spree in the early 1970's, I was about the same age as many of his victims. I can see how easy it would have been for those young woman (and me) to get sucked into his charm, good looks and intelligence.  Let's face it, if someone who looked like Charles Manson approached me, with those wild eyes and crazy talk, I would get the hell out of Dodge as quickly as possible.  But Ted Bundy looked like the guy next door. He was clean cut, educated and articulate. He was the kind of guy my mother wished I would bring home. The kind of guy I might have stopped to help or given directions. The sort of young man one might meet at a campus Greenpeace rally.

I'm not sure what I would ask him, given the opportunity to reach beyond the grave. Maybe the one question we all want to ask serial killers:  WHY?  Or maybe how did he choose his victims. Not all of his victims were college age. Several were younger. But how did he choose them? I want to know. Why were Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman chosen to be bludgeoned in their beds and not the girls who lived on another dorm floor. And what was it about 12-year-old Kimberly Leach that said "pick me!"

I don't believe these women and girls were picked at random. Something caught ole Ted's fancy. I want to know. I want every woman to know.

Mark Harmon as Ted Bundy in The Deliberate Stranger

In 1986, Mark Harmon played Ted Bundy in a TV movie titled The Deliberate Stranger. I remember seeing that movie and being terrified right down to my socks. Harmon was eerily spectacular in the role, and it certainly made you think twice about the packaging of serial killers. It's a movie still relevant today and I encourage everyone to check it out if you haven't already seen it. It's an education.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sometimes, they come back...

by Chris F. Holm

I'm kind of a scripted TV addict - the weirder and cultier the show the better - which means I'm no stranger to mourning characters who've fallen victim to creative burnout or cancellation. And sure, I could rend fabric and shout to the heavens about the untimely televisual departures of poor Sydney Bristow, Ted Crisp, Joel Robinson, or Isaac Jaffe, but I won't. Because I know there are worse fates than being cut down in one's prime.

See, some folks come back wrong. Folks like Twin Peaks' Dale Cooper, and Firefly's Hoban Washburne.

Be warned: spoilers for long-dead entertainments abound below. If you're not familiar with Twin Peaks or Firefly, I beseech you to turn back, and watch them both immediately instead. Beyond here be dragons.

When Dale Cooper came breezing into the town of Twin Peaks back in '89 to investigate the murder of a high school student by the name of Laura Palmer, he didn't seem to have a care in the world, except perhaps to find a room both clean and reasonably priced:
Little did he know that just months later, he'd be trapped in a strange realm known only as the Black Lodge, imprisoned by his own evil doppelganger (yeah, the show gets weird quick), who escapes the Black Lodge to unleash... well, I don't know what. See, before the bad Dale's nefarious plan reached fruition, Twin Peaks went off the air, leaving fans forever wondering what became of our two Dales in the wake of so shocking a cliffhanger.

Or so we thought, until the movie was announced.

I can't tell you how giddy I was at the thought of all the mysteries of Twin Peaks finally being answered, Dale's fate chief among them. Only that's not how the movie went. Not at all. No, in true Lynchian fashion, questions were dodged, new ones were thrown on the pile, and continuity went out the window, all in favor of an ending more thematically resonant than actually sensical, one in which Dale and Laura meet in the Black Lodge, or perhaps simply the Red Room, or maybe a Red Robin (yummm), shortly after Laura's death, and several months before Dale's even scheduled to arrive in town. Point is, I have no effing idea what happened. And suddenly, a riveting cliffhanger of an exit for a beloved character was erased in favor of a resounding, "Huh?"

The transition from small to silver screen was no kinder to Hoban "Wash" Washburne. Pilot of the titular craft in Joss Whedon's short-lived space-western Firefly, Wash was the crew's conscience and comic relief both.
Firefly, too, was cancelled before its time, and like Twin Peaks, fan fervor resulted in a movie deal. Unlike Twin Peaks, whose movie served as an inessential companion piece to the series - one only the most obsessive of fans could love - Serenity proved every Firefly fan's dream. It was thrilling. It was good. It brought closure to the series in a satisfying way.

But it also introduced the saddest phrase in the entire Browncoat (yes, Firefly fans have their own nerdy label) lexicon: "I am a leaf on the wind."

I'll not include a clip of the moment that line was uttered. Some spoilers are simply too unfair to share. Suffice to say, it's the most controversial moment in the movie, and one that made me wish, if only for a moment, that Firefly had been allowed to rest in peace.

Many of the entertainment losses we mourn are sad but bearable. Though the shows, books, or movies end, the characters live on in our minds (and, in the darker recesses of the internet, the occasional creepy work of slash-fic, but that's a post for another time.) Perhaps it's a kindness to allow them to continue to.

Because sometimes, the alternative is even worse.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Book 'em, Duffy!

Criminal Minds is having a changing of the guard on Saturdays. Beginning with us two weeks from today will be Agatha nominee Alan Orloff. In the meantime, we welcome Tom Schreck, author of the Duffy Dombrowski mysteries, as a guest.

Who would I mourn?

That’s easy.

Steve McGarrett, the original Steve McGarrett, of Hawaii Five-0, was the coolest man on television.

His hair never moved. He rarely smiled. He drove a bigass Mercury.

And when all was said and done, the bad guy caught and justice served there were no high fives, no “Hoohas!”, no “Who’s the man!”

No, there was not.

There was simply:

“Book ‘em, Danno. Murder One.”

Then cut to absolute best TV theme song and the image of a bunch of Hawaiians paddling in that funky eight-man canoe in the Pacific.

Fucking awesome.

Or how about the climax of the twelth season when McGarrett finally comes face-to-face with his arch enemy, Wo Fat.

Steve was rocking the denim leisure suit, his hair was piled high and the spit curl was just so. And there he was chock full of karate, hands fixed like blades and somersaulting his ass off. We’d waited for Fat to get his and now he was, up close and personal.

Opening up a can of McGarrett on his Fu Manchu ass!

I’m sweating just thinking about Five-0. Chin uttering his monosylabbic responses to Steve and Danny just before McGarrett yelled “Get 50 uniforms and seal this rock off!”

Keep Rockford in LA, let Kojak have New York,  and Karl Malden and Michael Douglas can patrol the city by the bay.


If you’re coming to the big island watch your step.

It’s been a long time since McGarrett visited me on Wednesday nights and I’ve gone through every Kubler Ross stage dealing with it. A man’s man, and like Old Spice, unmistakably masculine.

And in real life Jack Lord hung out with Elvis.

It just doesn’t get cooler.



Tom Schreck writes the Duffy Dombrowski Mysteries and his newest release THE VEGAS KNOCKOUT, will be available on May 15. Visit  www.tomschreck.com and “like” his fan page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DuffyDombrowski for a chance to win a Kindle Fire.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Edgars, Malice, and more--oh my!

by Meredith Cole

TV? Who has time to watch TV? Today I'm going to be a diva and totally ignore the question because I'm in New York City for the Edgar Awards this week. Squee!

Wednesday night I got to congratulate fellow criminal mind Tracy Kiely on her Mary Higgins Clark nomination. If you haven't read her book, Murder Most Persuasive, yet, do it. It's hilarious. I also got to chat for awhile with Mary Higgins Clark, who is totally charming. And visit with lots of friends like Molly Weston, Rosemary Harris, and Ellen Crosby.

Thursday night was the Edgar banquet. First of all, it's a total thrill to see the mystery community get dressed up. Second, I got to see other wonderful criminal minds who took pity on me when I said I had to blog tomorrow. Thanks y'all!

Hilary Davidson, Me, Michael Wiley

Here are two of my favorite ladies who I grabbed for a quick photo op. Molly was in town to accept the Raven (which is given to great friends of the genre). I was treated to some wonderful Southern hospitality by Molly when I went to North Carolina on the Unarmed and Dangerous tour.
Me, Molly Weston, Rosemary Harris
And last, but not least, I got my photo taken with Lee Child, because who wouldn't want their picture taken with such a charming guy?

Me, Lee Child, Dana Kaye Litoff
So that's my Edgar week. Hope you enjoyed the photos!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Characters  Wanted

Isn't that the catch phrase of one of the cable networks?  If it isn't it should be.  I'm about to sound like an old guy but it seems to me TV used to have characters on it.   Seriously, I basically miss all the old characters. Once upon a time you had to act - or at least pretend to act - or sleep with the director  - to get on TV. Now you just have to act like a freak who missed their meds three of the last four days.  When did people screaming at each other become entertainment?

Cue up the band.

Boy the way Glen Miller Played...

I'm serious - the likes of Archie Bunker, George Jefferson, J.R. Ewing, Gopher... No I'm serious has there ever been another character on TV named after a small ground dwelling rodent.   What?  Oh yeah, I forgot about the Beaver.  Man what's with naming people after rodents?

Songs that made the Hit Parade...

Seriously - we don't even have Dick Clark anymore.   If you don't have Dick Clark you can't have any Hit Parade.  How can you have any Hit Parade if you don't have Dick Clark?    What's that you say?  Oh, right we have Ryan Seacrest.  Good point.

Warning - the author may have hit his head before writing this blog.

Guys like us, we had it made...

Wait a minute - I just this channel called Nick at Nite - it seems to have re-runs of Dallas and The Dukes of Hazard and The Rockford Files and even What's Happening?  A re-run of Rerun - can anything really top that?

You know what? This is awesome - now I don't have to mourn any characters - they can live forever, either on their own reality show or as I remember them in beautiful technicolor and 80's style, except...  Hmm.. how do eight adults and a bunch of Kids live in Southfork Ranch in what appears to be a three bedroom house.  And to be honest - these guys are oil billionaires but I have a better pool than that and I rent.  And how come I'm thinking a cool Love Boat episode would have involved them getting torpedoed and swimming to safety on Jurassic Park Island?  Well...at least the General Lee still travels as the crow flies but I don't know - them pants are awfully tight - and I'm not talking about Daisy Duke's shorts. 

Oh well - Boss still cracks me up.

Those were the days...




Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Al Swearengen: An Appreciation

By Hilary Davidson

First, let me admit that that I'm a bad-luck charm. If I love a television show, you can pretty much count on it being cancelled. Take, for example, the phenomenal Terriers, which lasted all of one season. I enjoyed Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies, and look what happened to them. Journeyman, Damages, and Rome are all victims. I thought The Ben Stiller Show was the funniest thing on TV, so it got the gong.

Deadwood actually survived three seasons of my love, which is a rare thing. I still miss it, and there's no character I miss more than Al Swearengen. I was already a fan of Ian McShane's before the show aired (thanks to Lovejoy, which I — fortunately — discovered after that series had been filmed; also because of the film Sexy Beast), but nothing prepared me for the wonder of Al.

Who could have imagined that this twisted wreck of a human being would end up being so lovable? Al is a foul-mouthed, vile-tempered, murderous, thieving, scheming pimp. He's generally embarrassed by his good impulses (he takes care of a crippled woman named Jewel, giving her a job cleaning his whorehouse, but he verbally abuses her, too... though, to be fair, Jewel's got an awesome mouth on her; Al generally doesn't mind being sassed back by loyal employees). When Al is being compassionate, he's no less scary than when he's being bad. One of his kindest acts is the mercy-killing of Reverend Smith, a man who'd lost his mind and was in agonizing pain; when Al smothered him, he said, "You can go now, brother" — which was about as sentimental as Al ever got.

Here he is in all his brutal glory. (Note to those offended by cursing or graphic violence: DO NOT WATCH. Also, this is definitely NSFW. Consider yourself warned!)


R.I.P. Al Swearengen. I'm not the only one who misses him, am I?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gotta Have A Code




By Reece Hirsch

Which TV character’s loss do I mourn?    Well, there’s Jim Rockford, Tony Soprano, Vic Mackey and the entire cast of “Northern Exposure.”  But I have to say that I’m still mourning the loss of Omar Little of “The Wire,” as portrayed by the great Michael K. Williams.

And so, partially due to an unusually hectic week and partially from sheer laziness, I’m going to reprise this tribute to Omar in verse that I posted here at Criminal Minds in January 2011:

The Ballad of Omar Little

This is the story of the outlaw Omar Little
The man, the legend, the poet, the riddle
He made his living robbing crack dealers wealthy
With a crew that was tough, well-armed and stealthy

In court, a lawyer accused Omar of exploiting the culture of drugs
Saying that robbing dealers still made him one of the thugs
Omar replied, "I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase, but we're the same
Two different players, but it's all in the game"

Omar loved Brandon and he didn't care who knew
Their love was tested, and turns out it was true
Brandon was captured and tortured by Barksdale's crew
They wanted Omar's hideout but Brandon refused

Stringer Bell's boys struck back at Omar
Taking a shot at him outside church from afar
They blasted away, but Omar did not go down
The only casualty was his mama's Sunday crown

But fair is fair and right is right
And even a fool knows not to involve Omar's mama in such a fight
If you come at the king, you best not miss
So Stringer moved to the top of Omar's most-wanted list

In dapper Brother Mouzon Omar found an unlikely ally
Mouzon quickly concurred that Stringer must die
Omar pumped his sawed-off shotgun and Mouzon drew a bead
And when the smoke cleared, all Omar said was, "Indeed"

But you can't wage war with everyone
If you hope to live many days in the Baltimore Sun
Like so many gunslingers before him who achieved renown
A kid trying to make a name shot Omar Little down

Omar played the game hard, but he played by his rules
He never robbed civilians like those other fools
And so, to Omar I dedicate this ode
Because, in the end, yo, man gotta have a code

Sunday, April 22, 2012

DANGER Will Robinson!

Okay, gang. You’ve got me here. I can’t think of a single thing to write about this week’s question. I guess I can see the Beav going postal, or Anne Shirley opening a detective agency. Maybe Frank Hardy will turn into a serial killer and it will be up to Joe to track him down. It would be nice to see Nancy Drew devote all of that cleverness to evil. How about instead of that robot shouting, “Danger, Will Robinson,” he shouted “Danger Will Robinson!”

Hey, I like that. Imagine Will Robinson, child-prodigy (and don’t we all just love that) finally deciding that he really is so much smarter than his dad (It is, of course, understood in the series that he is way smarter than his mom and sisters cause they’re just girls, dontcha know) and deciding that it was time he got his due recognition.

I mean look at this face: doesn't it just scream EVIL!

Of course it’s a bit of a problem this being stuck on a planet somewhere – LOST IN SPACE – but maybe our Will can hitch a ride with a passing starship or freighter. Having abandoned bossy Mom, stupid sisters, sanctimonious Dad, and of course the evil Dr. Zachary Smith. Hum, didn’t Dr. Smith spend a lot of time in the company of Will Robinson? I wonder what lessons in evil he was imparting behind that paper mache rock. So, one day Will, who is of course super super-smart, manages to hitch a ride on a passing space ship. Being a developing serial killer and criminal mastermind, he decides to leave on his own, after telling his rather dim-witted mother that he’s off collecting rocks or something. He leaps about the passing space ship at the last minute, gasping out that all his family died in the initial crash. Only the ROBOT, who was, did you know, a Class M-3 Model B9, General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot, was fast enough to follow.

And thus, for the next sixty years Will Robinson wanders space wreaking death and destruction wherever he goes, followed only by a ROBOT shouting “Danger Will Robinson!”

 This off the cuff-plotting can be rather fun.

 A quick reminder that this week sees the release of my newest book, Gold Mountain: A Klondike Mystery. It's the third in the Klondike Gold Rush series from Dundurn Press. Available in paperback as well as all e-book formats.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Eddie Munster, '70s-Era Paranormal Vigilante

Speaking of Eddie as Gabi wrote, I imagine Eddie Munster, the lycanthropic son of Lilly and Herman Munster hitting the road on his rebuilt flat head Indian motorcycle after he graduated high school in the early ‘70s. His older “ugly” cousin Marilyn had left home a few years before him after her boyfriend was killed in ‘Nam. She wanted to find her way in the world. Marilyn wound up in New York where it turned out many men didn’t find her gruesome at all but quite alluring. Her self-confidence restored, she eventually became the editor of a glossy fashion mag. She would always dutifully call or write home to the folks but hadn’t been in touch in the last month.

Eddie rides his motorcycle back east and begins asking around for his cousin at the magazine and a couple of coffee shops he knew she frequented in the Village from her letters. At first he’s stonewalled; told that Marilyn simply resigned one day saying something vague about going to live in the country. But he’s slipped a note by the shy Heather, who’d been Marilyn’s intern at the magazine.

They meet later at CBGB’s on the lower Eastside, catching the opening act by a ribald comic and street performer calling himself Jack Bump. Heather says there may be something funny going on at the mag. Off in a corner of the joint, she shows Eddie some picture proofs she smuggled out of some the upcoming layouts to run in the magazine’s special Halloween issue. She tells him they look normal to her but when Marilyn saw them she gasped and said she had to find out what was going on. With his enhanced senses due to his wolfish nature, Eddie can see certain demonic symbols and patterns that are meant to register sub-consciously on the brain. As the two leave they’re set upon by three toughs who are really ghouls. But Eddie is no slouch and calls on his wolf power to battle the three. He defeats them, but Heather is badly wounded.

Eddie gets her to the hospital then using his sense of smell, hunts down the photographer who took those pics – having met him briefly when he first visited the magazine. Indeed as he leaves the hospital as dawn breaks, the special issue of the magazine is being put out by newsies on their newsstands. It takes a few false trials, but Eddie tracks the photog, Helmut Ravenswood, to a secret lair below Times Square where he and his followers are about to sacrifice Marilyn to their evil deity. Enough of the magazines have been distributed and viewed, thus on a subconscious level, as the images are recalled by would-be models (who because of the bird-like diets and speeding on coke, pretty much can only think of the pictures they see in these magazines as this is what they’re striving to be) is a chant to aid in the demon’s return to our realm so it can enslave humanity.

A werewolfed out Eddie busts in, having scored a .357 in his sojourn in Manhattan’s underworld, blasting and rending his fangs on Ravenswood’s minions. It turns out Marilyn, who has gotten free, swings a pretty mean left hook – she is a young woman living alone in the Big Apple after all. The two heroes are about to be eaten by a minor demon Ravenswood has summoned but suddenly one of the walls to the lair bursts in and in come the tricked out Muster Coach driven by Herman Munster. Lilly and Grandpa, packing a bazooka, had driven out in the souped-up car as they were worried about Eddie and Marilyn.

The Munsters make quick work of Ravenswood – who Grandpa knows from the old country. As the lair burns, they exit in Times Square to a Halloween parade of ghosts and ghoulies. The Munsters blend in and join the festivities and saunter away as fire trucks can be hear approaching.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Little Acorns

Usually, I write my blogs a bit ahead of the calendar. This week, however, I've had a chance to read a couple of my fellow bloggers entries prior to putting fingers to keyboard. The Cleavers (is the name telling?) have made a lasting impression on several of us. Maybe it's time the Behavioral Analysis Unit at the FBI scheduled a Nick at Night marathon training session. No one has mentioned Eddie Haskell yet, (showing the depths of the selection pool) but maybe because he was the most obvious choice. I do remember reading somewhere the actor who played the sniveling brown-noser grew up to be a police man. I don't remember specifically but I'm guessing Rampart division in LA or maybe New Orleans.

I'm wondering about the less than obvious fictional kids who might have lurking latent character flaws. Kitten from Father Knows Best, maybe. So sweet. So cute. Daddy's little girl. The neighbors probably talk about how nice she was. Baking cakes and going to sleepovers. Can't you see little Kitten as Serial Mom? Maybe it's the name. Can you overcome a psychic scar like becoming a thirty-year old referred to as a house pet? Wouldn't that explain a train wreck mug shot and a year's worth of TMZ headline court coverage? Poor Meatloaf. Not fictional and not a kid, but probably doomed. It might be time to pull his rap sheet.

There are others. Some are my favorite characters of all time. Anne Shirley of Green Gables fame. Could she be one of the bad seeds? If you take a look at her background, it seems like the ground might be fertile for development of abnormal psychology. Abandoned in childhood. Sent to live with strangers. Bullied in school. Getting her friends drunk at age 13. Red hair. You tell me. Should Anne's alibi be checked for major crimes committed on Prince Edward Island? Can we clear a few cold cases with the help of Lucy Maud Montgomery? It doesn't seem like a stretch.

How about Bennetts of Hartfield? Could this motley crew challenge the Beaver colony for dark shadow supremacy? Let's take an inventory. If these charming young ladies were hiding a dark side and we could pull the curtain back, what would we discover? Surprisingly, I can imagine the entire quintet as felons on a mission. Jane seems like the soccer mom hooked on ADD medication. Elizabeth feels more like the insider-trading in the quaint English countryside (Martha Stewart with a parasol) sort. Kitty could easily be the Winona Ryder of the family helping herself to ribbons and buttons gal and Lydia, well, Heidi Fleiss better look out. But my money for the real dark horse, the genuine don't turn your back sibling is Mary. A plain girl in a family of flowers spending her time pounding on a piano which fate can strip from her at a moment's notice when she isn't trudging her way through the moral quagmire of Fordyce's sermons. Don't you think this might be how Lizzie Bordon spent her youth? I, for one, would never accept a plate of boiled potatoes from Miss Mary Bennett. And I wouldn't turn my back.

I'm suddenly wondering how any of us survived grade school.

Thanks for reading. I hope you can still spend time with your favorites without being unnerved by their previously unrevealed shadows.

Gabi

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Children's Programming

By Michael

When I was a young kid in the 1960s, I hated most children’s television.

I did love the cartoons and remember my earliest ideologically-driven fight being with one of my four-year-old friends over which cartoon to watch: Popeye the Sailor (my choice) or The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show (his). Captain Kangaroo also was okay, but only because he had a bowl haircut that looked much like my own and had a friend named Mr. Green Jeans. And Bozo’s Circus was great, mostly because it aired from Chicago, where I lived, and the Grand Prize Game promised extraordinary riches to kids like me.

But Romper Room creeped me out. I could deal with saying the Pledge of Allegiance with a wild-eyed hostess and with the snack-time prayer, but I knew not to trust the Magic Mirror. The hostess would stare through an empty plastic ring and chant like one of Shakespeare’s witches,

Romper, bomper, stomper, boo.

Tell me, tell me, tell me, do.

Magic Mirror, tell me today,

Have all my friends had fun at play?

Then, of course, the hostess would claim to see the children in “Televisionland”: “I can see Billy and Tommy and Debbie and Susan . . . .” In later episodes, the kind of spiraling special effects that used to represent hallucinatory and mesmeric experiences in films would accompany the appearance of the Magic Mirror. I remember feeling relieved when the hostess failed to see “Michael.”

My mother claims that I liked Mr. RogersNeighborhood, but it aired only from 1968 when I was already seven, so I’m pretty sure that she either is mistaking me for my younger brother or is the victim of one of those swirly, spirally things you could get sucked into on Romper Room.

I like to believe that I had good taste as a little kid. I still prefer Popeye over Rocky & Bullwinkle, though flying squirrels have risen in my opinion. Bozo now scares me as much as Mr. Rogers, and I only wish I still had enough hair to wear it like Captain Kangaroo.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Killers in our Midst

by Tracy Kiely

There are certain child characters that give you the chills. There is something just “off” about them. It might be the dull gleam in their eyes. It might be the odd curve of their mouth when they smile. It might be the way they laugh uncontrollably - at nothing. It might be anything. But, when we meet them, we just know that they are on a course set for evil. There are many such characters I can name; Oliver from The Brady Bunch (creepy lurker), Wayne from The Wonder Years (psychopathic bully), and Danny Partridge (umm, he grew up to be Danny Bonaduce. 'Nuf said). But, in my mind there are two characters that just reeked of the cologne Red Flag. They are:

Judy Hensler from Leave it to Beaver

Granted, at first blush little Judy Hensler with her tight pigtails and lips permanently pursed in stern disapproval at any sign of childhood high-jinks doesn’t seem the killing type, but all the warning signs are there. Her over-the-top do-good behavior is nothing more than a cry for attention from authority figures. However, Judy’s inability to get the “The Beaver” into any real trouble or, more importantly, get Miss Landers’ much sought after approval eventually begins to chip away Judy’s soul. By high school, Judy embarks on a campaign to “out” her rule-breaking classmates and sends anonymous notes to her teachers detailing all her classmates “crimes.” When her efforts are ignored and in some cases openly mocked, she takes matters into her own hands. At first, her “punishments” are petty – slashed tires, spray painted taunts, egged homes. However, when those efforts fail to get the hoped for results, Judy ups the ante. Bodies begin to pile up and soon the residents of Mayfield are terrified – none more so than The Beaver and his old pal, Lumpy.

Caillou

I know, I know. How, you wonder, could this seemingly harmless little boy be a killer? Well, I’ll tell you. It begins at home with simply horrible parenting. Seemingly every episode of Caillou begins with a voice over observation such as “Caillou was unhappy.” Caillou’s unhappiness could be triggered by just about anything; his sister Rosie inheriting an old shirt of his or his inability to trash his room with his toys. Rather than sit his ass down and explain to him that he cannot fly into a tantrum or sulk every time he doesn’t get his way, his parents hug him and tell him that they are sorry for not better understanding his feelings. Really? Are you kidding me? By age seven, Caillou is a full-fledged brat who is shunned by the other children. By middle school, his constant tantrums and disruptive behavior result in his expulsion from the public school system. His parents, still drinking from the cup of denial, place him in an expensive private school. Their budget already stretched with court mandated therapy sessions, his mother is forced to return to work, which in turn results in a cessation of adult supervision (not that it was great to begin with). Both parents end up on various prescription drugs to help them deal with their feelings of failure; drugs that Caillou steals and uses himself. By senior year, Caillou is an addict, a bully, and a thief. When he is arrested for drunk driving and grand theft auto, he is sentenced to five months in prison. His parents use this time to sell their house, change their names, and leave town. Upon his release, Caillou flies into a rage at the realization that his family has abandoned him. He spends the rest of his days traveling from town to town killing men in sweater vests and women in shapeless clothes.

The signs are there. Wake up and smell the cologne. And lock your doors.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Huck Finn, PI

by Josh

Fun fact: Tom Sawyer did grow up to become a detective. In his later years, Mark Twain wrote a novel entitled (wait for it) Tom Sawyer, Detective in which the lovable scamp, now 17, solves a murder. This accounts for the portrayal of Tom Sawyer as a crimefighter in Alan Moore's brilliant graphic novel series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

But wouldn't Huck Finn make for an even better detective? Can't you imagine that riverboat scoundrel, as perceptive a character as any in American fiction, walking the streets of turn-of-the-century New Orleans, solving the crimes deemed too uncomfortable for the corrupt authorities to touch. He would never have a steady girlfriend or even a steady office but stability has never had much appeal to Huck. He might even have to cross paths with his old friend from his younger days, Tom Sawyer, who has now become an upstanding member of the United States Secret Service. Tom tries to keep the heat off his dirty-dealing well-intentioned pal but it can't be long before the two men square off.

This is the New Orleans of Storyville, of the Chief Hennesey Riot, the Robert Charles Riots. This is the New Orleans of the Black Hand Gang. The birth of jazz is on the horizon.

I don't know about you, but I'd love to read these stories.

Monday, April 16, 2012

There Was Always Something Hinkey About The Beev

By Sue Ann Jaffarian

The cast of Leave It To Beaver
As soon as I read this week's question, Theodore Cleaver aka The Beaver popped into my head.  I'm not sure why, but I am willing to go with my gut and examine the possibilities.

For those of you not part of the Baby Boom era, Theodore Cleaver was a kid in a TV sitcom called Leave It To Beaver that ran from 1957-1963. It was part of my childhood and we never missed an episode. I also watched them in reruns for years.

I'm sure most of you think Beaver would have made a great detective. He was nosey and always getting into jams, just like most modern fiction amateur sleuths, but I'm wondering if he might have taken a different path had the series run longer.

The Cleavers represented middle-America in the 50's. Dad worked an office job and Mom stayed home and cooked and cleaned in high heels, hose, and pearls (and I'm betting also a girdle). Older brother Wally was an athlete, handsome and popular. Younger brother Beaver was kind of goofy and well-intentioned.

Or was he...

First of all, MY mother certainly never cleaned in a dress and heels. Right there I'm suspicious about just how wound tight this TV family was behind the scenes. Was June Cleaver repressed? Did she secretly wish she'd finished her education and started a career instead of a family. Maybe she was a closet lesbian and over-compensating. After all, she and Ward Cleaver had very proper twin beds.  And how come she was always saying "Wait until your father comes home?" Didn't she have the authority to discipline her own sons? 

And what about Ward? He was always having heart-to- hearts with Beaver over his misdeeds in the den. Inquiring minds want to know what really went on behind those sliding doors. Off camera, was Beaver berated? Was his spirit beaten out of him?

And how difficult was it for Beaver to live in the shadow of his older, more stable brother. Wally was the kind of guy you wanted to bring home to mother. Had to be hard living up to a sainted older sibling when you couldn't go a week without getting into trouble. That alone could scar a kid for life.

My favorite episode was the one where Beaver climbs up on a billboard advertising soup from a steaming bowl to investigate the steam, and gets stuck. I can see it all now, years after the TV cameras are gone: Whitey and Larry have both landed lucrative careers and moved away; Wally is some big shot sports reporter on TV; Ward Cleaver embezzled money from his office and disappeared; June burned her bra, got tattoos, and is marching on Washington; and Beaver, frustrated with mounting student loan debt, a broken marriage, and no job, climbs up on the same billboard and starts taking shots at folks, starting with Eddie Haskell and Mrs. Rayburn.

At least that's how the show would play out today...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Don't Fear the Reaper

by Chris F. Holm

Before I dive into this week’s question, let me first get this out of the way: that Davidson chick is messed up. I mean, for real. Every picture you’ll ever see of her, she’s flashing this dazzling smile, as if she walks through life with candy-coated unicorns pirouetting through her mind to “Walking on Sunshine” on an endless loop. And then she goes and writes stuff like this. Kind of makes you wonder where that smile really comes from, doesn’t it? But I digress.

Where were we? Ah, yes: How wouldn’t I like to die?

At first blush, this one seems like a softball: there is no shortage of truly awful ways to die. But I’m a writer, for God’s sake; there’s a certain pressure to perform here – to give y’all a little something you haven’t seen before. Do I go glib, and answer “in obscurity?” Do I cite The King, whose decades-long fall from Graceland reached its terminal nadir with the indignity of being found dead on the john? Do I get all ripped-from-the-headlines and mention these poor saps, who succumbed to fumes while cleaning a septic system just miles from where I hang my hat? Or do I play it straight, and attempt to compete with Hilary “Horrific Death” Davidson? I’m paralyzed by indecision.

But wait – a thought! (Yes, I have them on occasion.) I’ve long posited in interviews my horror stories reflect my own worst fears: perhaps the answer to the question at hand lies in the darkest recesses of my published prose.

Looking over my bibliography (what? I can’t be expected to remember everything I’ve ever written), I’ve published four horror tales to date. It seems to me we needn’t concern ourselves with ancillary characters; psychologically speaking, I assume I’d pin my worst fears on those characters I’ve asked the reader to identify with. Is that assumption sound? I haven’t the faintest. But I have taken upwards of one undergraduate psychology classes in my life, so I think I’m on pretty solid scientific ground. That decided, let’s see how my protags fared, shall we? (It should go without mentioning that spoilers abound.)

In “The Toll Collectors,” a hardened criminal comes face-to-face with the gruesome undead visages of those he’s killed. He flees in terror, finding sanctuary in a dank, abandoned highway tunnel (this one, in fact.) But as he plunges through the darkness, he steps on something alive, squirming – a rat, he presumes – and loses his footing. He loses consciousness a while, and when he comes to, he has no idea which way he’s facing. So terrified is he of his once-victims, he’s unable to move, for fear he may strike out in the wrong direction, and wind up heading back toward them. The story leaves him lost in the darkness, presumably forever – but it does leave him alive, if only to suffer further torment.

“The Well” stars a young girl who spends two weeks trapped at the bottom of the titular aperture. She goes a little mad down there, forced to survive on whatever creepy-crawlies she can find. And by the time a friendly fireman is lowered down to collect her, she’s so very hungry that she… well, never mind what she does to him: the point is, she doesn’t die.

The protagonist of “A Better Life” wants nothing more than to rid his rickety old farmhouse of the scratching in its walls, which he mistakenly attributes to mice – and he does, at vulgar cost. He lives, too, though I suspect the reveal at the end of the tale shall haunt his every waking moment until he dies.

And finally, the main character of “A Native Problem” is a man of science, sent to the wildest depths of the Amazon rainforest to investigate a strange illness that leaves its victims with an unquenchable appetite for human flesh. When we part ways with him, he’s still very much alive… if hungry. It’s not clear at story’s end what will win the day – his humanity or his gnawing, endless craving.

So yeah. No death-related insights there. And as it turns out, my crime fic’s no more illuminating. Lots of guilt, regret, handwringing, and torment, but damn little in the way of phobia-plucking death scenarios. It seems I’m far less worried about how I’ll die than how I’ll live. Which isn’t to say I’m particularly looking forward to shuffling off this mortal coil. I’m reminded of Woody Allen: “I am not afraid of death – I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

Oh, and for the record, if I was gonna compete with Hilary and mash all my phobia buttons along the way, let’s just say my nightmare demise might feature a giant doll-headed cockroach with a rusty syringe…

***

Chris F. Holm really isn’t as morbid as this post might lead you to believe. If you’d like to read any of the stories he’s so callously spoiled, you can download his acclaimed short collection 8 POUNDS, which features “The Toll Collectors,” “The Well,” and “A Better Life,” or pick up BEAT TO A PULP: ROUND ONE, featuring “A Native Problem.” Or you could just check out his debut novel, DEAD HARVEST. There aren’t any doll-faced cockroaches in it, he swears.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Oh, Death

by Meredith Cole

It's true. Mystery writers are obsessed with death. We spend hours at conferences talking about great ways to kill people. Not that WE would actually do it to anyone, we're just curious. And we might need a creative way to knock someone off someday in a book.

So how would I not like to die? You name it, really. All the women in my family live until their 90's, so I've always figured that if I avoid mob hits, asteroids and texting drivers, I'll live long enough to know my great-grandchildren. I hope so, anyway.

Which reminds me of a joke: I want to die like my grandfather, peacefully in my sleep. Not screaming terrified like the other driver.

I think the worst deaths are the undignified ones. Or is all death undignified? Anyway, there is something remarkably horrible about someone dying on the toilet or in ladies undergarments. I still remember reading a story about an elderly man whose outhouse broke and he spent a week in the, er, hole, until he was rescued. He described snakes and rats and, um, the smell. I imagine he prayed for death. But luckily the mailman thought to peek down there when he didn't see him for awhile and he was spared. That's the kind of death I'd like to avoid.

Instead I'd like to die surrounded by loved ones, and have a chance to say something profound and meaningful to all of them. Without too much pain, please. And definitely no sewage.

But for the last word on death, I'll leave you with this amazing rendition of "O, Death" by the incredible Ralph Stanley.







Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The one way I really don't want to die...

Here's my thoughts on this. Since I don't want to consider the circumstances of my possible demise (until proved otherwise I'm telling myself I'm immortal - It's a pretty cool game since if you turn out to be wrong you'll never even know about it - unless there is life after death in which case I would know but technically I'd still be alive and thus actually still correct in my thesis)

The truth is I think about living a lot more than dying - so my list goes like this.

I don't want to die having been unsuccessful.

I don't want to die not having mattered or made this world a better place.

I don't want to die without having pushed the limits of everything I can do. Not all the time mind you but when its called for.

I don't want to die with dreams I never attempted to fulfill.

I don't want to die thinking I should have had more fun.

I don't want to die fearing anything.

I don't want to die regretting anything.

I don't want to die thinking I could have done better at the things that matter.

I don't want to die for a very long time.

Basically, I want to live as long as I can and as much as I can. And if that moment ever comes, be satisfied with what I've done.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

This Wretched Flesh

By Hilary Davidson

"What is one way you really wouldn't want to die?" Do I have to pick just one? All of the painful ways are definitely out, as is anything long and lingering. In fact, I think Dorothy Parker summed things up correctly in her poem "Resume":

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

You don't really want me to tell you the one way I'd be truly terrified to die, do you? I've got some really dark ideas rattling around my head. Seriously, have you read any of my short fiction? (Speaking of which, I'm thrilled to say my story "The Other Man" is up for a Spinetingler Award for Best Short Story! Congrats to all of the nominees — you can read everyone's stories here, before you vote.)

Where was I? Right, warning you off reading my real answer to this question. You don't want to go there. How about looking at these sweet photos of baby animals instead? You'll sleep better. Trust me.

Are you still reading? You shouldn't be. Shoo!

You don't want to read about Ugolino della Gherardesca. If his name doesn't mean anything to you, consider yourself blessed. Because once the story of his death lodges itself in your head, it will be there forever. Just like it is in mine.

I discovered Ugolino at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. I was nineteen and traveling by myself for the first time, wandering through a city famed for its beauty. The sight of this tremendous sculpture created by Rodin stopped me dead. In its center was a man on his hands and knees, with dead and dying bodies surrounding him. The expression on that man's face was unforgettable: it was a mask of torture, both agonized and completely without hope. At the time, I had no idea that it was based on the death of a real person; the same museum hall that features this sculpture boasts images of Greek and Roman legends, and I filed Ugolino away with Orpheus and Leda and others who came to sad, albeit mythical, ends.

It was only a few months later, while I was reading Dante's Inferno, that I discovered Ugolino had been a real person, not a fictional character. He was a count from Pisa who lived in the thirteenth century, when Italian city-states were hard at war with each other. He was a Machiavellian long before Machiavelli was actually born. He maneuvered himself into a position of great power within Pisa, but made some fierce enemies along the way. When he finally lost power, his enemies had a truly horrific revenge. They locked Ugolino up in a tower and threw the keys into the Arno river, leaving him to a slow death of starvation.

But it was actually worse than that. Because his enemies didn't lock Ugolino up alone.

Ugolino was left in that tower with his two sons and two grandsons.

Dante's rendering of the scene is particularly devastating. He imagined the children begging for death, and that they would even welcome being cannibalized:

'Father our pain', they said,
'Will lessen if you eat us you are the one
Who clothed us with this wretched flesh: we plead
For you to be the one who strips it away'

But even that isn't as awful as what came next. Dante put these words in Ugolino's mouth:

Already going blind, groped over my brood
Calling to them, though I had watched them die,
For two long days. And then the hunger had more
Power than even sorrow over me

The nightmare is so vast and so vivid, it's painful to contemplate. To be walled up in a prison and left to starve to death is a horrifying prospect, but imagine having the people you love best trapped along with you, without any chance of escape or release. Imagine watching them slowly suffer and die, knowing that there's nothing you can do to ease their pain. Then imagine being alone with their bodies as you're crushed under the weight of your own guilt — and your own unending hunger.

Is there any death more awful than that?

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Ick Factor


By Reece Hirsch

How would I definitely not want to die?   Mystery and crime fiction is full of hard deaths, but the one that immediately sprang to mind when I read the question is found in the first chapter of Colin Harrison’s excellent The Finder.

Two young Mexican women who work for a cleaning service have parked their Toyota in a parking lot by the beach in Brooklyn to drink jug wine and play the radio.  They’ve unwittingly been helping a third woman steal corporate secrets from the trash cans of Manhattan office towers.

A truck pulls up close beside the Toyota on the driver’s side so the door can’t be opened.  On the passenger’s side, a man appears and holds that door closed.  Another truck, a garbage truck, pulls up behind the Toyota and a chain is attached to the rear bumper.  In front, the car’s tires are wedged against a curb.

The Toyota’s sun roof is smashed and a pipe from the garbage truck slides into place as raw sewage pours through the sun roof, filling the car.  Being trapped inside a car and drowning in raw sewage?  That’s a very bad way to go.  Drowning is horrible and being trapped in an enclosed space makes it worse, but I think it’s the extreme ick factor that really caused that scene to stick with me.

No one knows how they’re going to meet their end, but even if I were to die in some Final Destination-style Rube Golberg chain of calamitous events involving a table saw, a live power line, a nail gun, a roller coaster and a rabid fruit bat, I could look back from the afterlife, and say to myself, “Well, it could have been worse.  It could have been Chapter 1 of The Finder.”

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Adult Literacy and A Winter Kill



I'm not going to answer the sociopath question. How's that for being a sociopath! Instead I'd like to tell you a bit about an adult literacy project I am involved in.

Over 10 million Canadians are working at marginal levels of literacy

Over 90 million Americans are functionally illiterate.

My new book, A Winter Kill, has just been released by the Rapid Reads imprint of Orca Publishing.

Literacy (or lack thereof) is a serious problem in your country and mine. For many reasons there are adults out in the world who can’t read properly. Whether because they had undiagnosed learning disabilities at school, because English isn’t their first language, because they didn’t have teachers and parents who encouraged reading, they reached adulthood lacking what might be the most essential skill in the world today.

The ability to read.

Because they can’t read they face enormous difficulties. Government or legal documents are a minefield, most jobs are out of reach. Understanding a newspaper can be impossible.

Fortunately, anyone can learn to read. At any age or in any environment.
However, it can be very hard for an adult to admit that they can’t read and to seek help. They’re embarrassed to be seen reading children’s books.

So the people at the Canadian children’s publisher Orca decided to create line of short, fast-paced, easy to read adult books. They called the imprint Rapid Reads.
Rapid Read books are not only aimed at adults with literacy problems, but at immigrants struggling to learn English, reluctant readers, and anyone in search of a good book that can be read in one sitting.

A Winter Kill is short at 15,000 words (my other books are between 80,000 and 100,000 words). A normal reader can read it in about 45 minutes.

It’s an adult book, with adult themes and adult language aimed at adults. It just happens to be written at a Grade 2 – 3 level.

It’s short and plainly written. A mystery stripped down to its barest form, with no subplots, no flashbacks, only one point of view, very little character development.

When I went to Africa in November I discovered another purpose for a Rapid Reads book. I faced a series of airplane trips. At the beginning and end of each one I had to turn off my e-reader. Now, I can’t last more than a minute without having something to read. Fortunately, I had a Rapid Reads book, small and compact, tucked into my bag. Out it came, perfect for those times when I had to put away the book I was reading. (A Winter Kill is be available in e-format also).

If you or your library are involved in adult literacy or know anyone who is, pop over to Rapid Reads and find out more about their books. http://rapidreads.ca

When rookie police constable Nicole Patterson discovers a body on the edge of town, she’s drawn into a murder investigation that’s well beyond her experience and expertise.

A Winter Kill available from Amazon.com, Amazon.ca. And, as always, your favourite independent bookstore.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Do Sociopaths Dream They're Androids?


Submitted by Gary

Herewith are the ten questions asked while utilizing the Voight-Kampff machine on a subject. It’s from the film Blade Runner based on Philip K. Dick’s classic novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? A forewarning, like in the movie, things might not be what they seem -- and a tip of my hat to Jon Ronson’s book, The Psychopathic Test as well. I might have changed or added some to the questions Rick Deckard asks suspected androids who like a sociopaths, these replicants are said to lack the comprehension of empathy.

"I'm not a peace officer," Rick said. "I'm a bounty hunter." From his opened briefcase he fished out the Voight-Kampff apparatus, seated himself at a nearby rosewood coffee table, and began to assemble the rather simple polygraphic instruments...

"This" -- he held up the flat adhesive disk with its trailing wires -- "measures capillary dilation in the facial area. We know this to be a primary autonomic response...This records fluctuations of tension within the eye muscles.”

1. It’s your birthday. Someone gives you a calfskin wallet. But would you prefer rattlesnake skin?

2. You’ve got a little boy. He shows you his butterfly collection plus the killing jar. What do you do?

3. You’re watching television. Suddenly you realize there’s a wasp crawling on your arm. Do you try to squash it or flick it away?

4. You’re in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise, Tony, it’s crawling toward you. You reach down and flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t, not without your help. But you’re not helping. Why is that?

5. Describe in single words, only the good things that come into your mind about your mother.

6. In a magazine you come across a full-page photo of a nude girl. Are you envious or sad?

7. You show the picture to your significant other. They like it and hang it on the wall. The girl is lying on a bearskin rug. Are you angry?

8. You become pregnant by a man who runs off with your best friend. What do you do? Or what if you’re the man who ran off?

9. You're watching an old movie. It shows a banquet in progress, the guests are enjoying raw oysters. The entree consists of boiled dog stuffed with rice. The raw oysters are less acceptable to you than a dish of boiled dog.

10. What’s worse, a serial killer who takes individual lives or a Wall Street manipulator who destroys many jobs and livelihoods?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Who's That Girl?






Gabriella Herkert


Catnapped and Doggone




I goofed on the calendar and thought we were still doing the Proust questionnaire and it turns out we're really supposed to be writing a sociopathic questionnaire. Are they the same? Can I use what I've already written to good effect? Let's see. I'll do my answers first and then the flag-raising call security answers I'd be on the lookout for.


Your most marked characteristic?


Red hair. SP: Anything but red. Aren't all these people Joe normal brown-haired guys?




The quality you most like in a man?




Looks. My shallow period lasted a good long while. SP: See Ted Bundy. I think this one might still work.




The quality you most like in a woman?




Toughness. SP: Okay, this one makes me look bad. Aileen Wurnoss was no shrinking violet.




What do you most value in your friends?




Honesty (with general exceptions for hairstyles and fashion choices). SP: This one could also go with honesty because then you'd know when that friend was on the verge of calling the cops.




What is your principle defect?




Honesty. Go figure. SP: Whew. Another quality I think takes me out of the top ten most wanted list. These guys seem like born liars.




What is your favorite occupation?




Lawyer. Realism came early to me, I guess and I really wanted to be Atticus Finch. SP: Uh oh. Back in trouble. These aren't generally your good-hearted never hurt a fly sorts.




What is your dream of happiness?




To not worry about the rent. SP: What the heck do these people dream of? Their victims? Fear? Getting away with it? I feel yucky all over.




What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?




Hunger. SP: This seemed like a rational choice but I start to think about Hanibel Lecter and I wonder.


What would you like to be?




Successful. This was before I realized that word was one of those meaningless blanket things that, without specificity, is unhelpful. SP: Successful is such a big, useless word. It fits everyone.




In what country would you like to live?




Germany (give me schnatzel and streudel every day). SP: Hello, Joseph Mengele.




What is your favorite color?




Grey (How pathetic was this?). SP: I see sociopaths in neons, maybe prints. Definitely those weird golf pants.




What is your favorite flower?




The easy, obvious rose. SP: Creepy rituals are found in every part of the garden.




What is your favorite bird?




The ruffed grouse. My uncle taught me how to make their call (like a tennis ball falling and hitting the ground) and I’ve been fond of them ever since. SP: Wouldn't the real crazies go with, say, the common crow? You know who you are!




Who are your favorite prose writers?




Jane Austen, James Michener. John Jakes. SP: Not Elizabeth Bennet, obviously, but Centennial and Hawaii (Poland, too, now that I think about it) were full of possible rule-breaking role models.




Who are your favorite poets?




Edna St. Vincent Millay, Shakespeare. SP: Do sociopaths read poetry?




Who is your favorite hero of fiction?




Phillipe Charboneau of John Jakes’ The Bastard. SP: Murderer, dark childhood, elimination of enemies -- yep, it's a guide for the wrongdoer in all of us.




Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?




Still Jo March. This might be the only thing that hadn’t undergone serious change in the preceding seven years. SP: A reprieve from matching the sociopath answer-for-answer. Who would they migrate toward? I don't know. This ones a toughie.




Who are your favorite composers?




Music for one hundred, Alex. I didn’t have any although I was listening to a lot of, ouch, Madonna. SP: This has to be heavy metal or punk, right? It couldn't be Holiday. Could it?




Who are your heroes in real life?




George Brett of the Kansas City Royals. Honestly, where did this come from? SP: I suppose these nutters might like baseball, too.




Who are your favorite heroines of history?




Jenny Lind, Helen Keller (Tough women, remember?). SP: Aren't these the answers you'd give if you were trying to prove you weren't a sociopath (or a Russian sleeper agent, for that matter).




What are your favorite names?




Anything normal. I always thought if I had kids they’d be called Ryan (after my favorite babysitting customer of all time) and Amalia (after great-grandma with the mashed potato hair). SP: Trouble, Will Robinson. See how "normal" sociopaths fade into the background in the hair question.




What is it you most dislike?



Liars, cronyism and chauvinism. SP: At least I limit my dislikes. I'm not sure they would.




What historical figures do you most despise?




Idi Amin, Joseph Mengele. SP: Despise in an admiring sort of way.




What event in military history do you most admire?




Guillaume the Conquerer, 1066. He was French, you know. SP: Guillaume the Conquerer, 1066. Blood, lots of it.




What reform do you most admire?



Women suffrage. SP: Equal opportunity in all things, I suppose.




What natural gift would you most like to possess?




I’d like to be able to draw anything that doesn’t look like a bad cartoon. SP: I can't help but think of John Wayne Gacy and his clown drawings, here.




How would you like to die?




A long time from now. SP: Wouldn't everyone?




What is your present state of mind?




Anxious, stressed. Okay, this one hasn’t changed that much, either. SP: Are these people stressed? I know they respond to stressors.




To what faults do you feel most indulgent?




At 20, not very much. In my defense, I think I was harsher in applying the standard to myself but there wasn’t a lot of forgiveness there and then. SP: Another place of common ground.


Maybe checking for sociopathy was what Proust was really doing with this questionnaire thing. He says it's just Vanity Fair, celeb easy feedback, but he's really making sure he's not living next to the "he seemed so nice" guy. Or girl. Or me. I guess I'll have to be glad it's not science or I'd be on my way to a secure facility right now.


Thanks for reading and not reporting me.


Gabi