Archive for April, 2009
“I tried to avoid telling you this. I didn’t think I could change things. But maybe I can.” -Daniel Faraday
I’m going to be honest with you. I didn’t love this episode. As the final “thud” resonated, telling us that the show, and Daniel for that matter, was over, my gut reaction was that it wasn’t a very good episode at all. The writing seemed forced, the pacing was horrible, and there were just too many characters that seemed, well, out of character.
On further inspection, the story was better than my initial reaction acknowledged. I was expecting a counterpoint to “The Constant”, one of the best episodes not only in the series, but possibly in television history. Instead, “The Variable” more closely resembled the “Greatest Hits” of Charlie Pace.
So, what was the overall gist of the episode? Was it that the Losties, and the Freighter Folk for that matter, are all pawns in a universal course correcting game of chess, being maneuvered by… well, who? Eloise Hawking? No, she seems as much a pawn in the game as all the rest at this point. Widmore? Same deal. He’s playing out his part as well.
No, I believe the two gamesmen, the chess playing duelists, are Jacob and an as yet unseen “man behind the curtain”.
A “bad twin” perhaps?
“Just like Adam and Eve. Said you’d set me free, you took me to the sky. I’d never been so high. You were my pills, you were my thrills. You were my hope baby, you were my smoke…You dropped a bomb on me.” ~The Gap Band
So what was Dan’s master plan to change everything? Why, Jughead of course. The supposedly uber-genius, if somewhat befuddled, Daniel Faraday was hellbent on unleashing nuclear fury by way of a hydrogen bomb right smack dab on top of the Swan. You’d think that his maniacal plan ended with a mommy delivered bullet (notice that nobody goes for a head-shot on this show… that could spell trouble if the ‘zombie season‘ becomes a reality), but don’t be so quick to jump to that conclusion. There’s another man on the island looking for his destined path… and his name is Jack Sheppard.
So, the idea is to nuke the Swan back into the Stone Age, so that there is no Swan, no button to push, therefore no Desmond to not push said button, which in turn leaves no crash of Flight 815.
Yeah right. I’m not buying it, and neither is Kate. But this is the road we’re on, kids. And Jack is going to pick up that gauntlet… I still think that Jughead is going to be exploded, though I now see that my big “The Incident” theory is off the mark… but just the same, da bomb is going to go off and set the stage for season six… the ramifications of which are going to be unexpected and far reaching.
“The music is reversible but Time is not. Turn back. Turn back. “ ~ ELO
“Mama, didn’t mean to make you cry. If I’m not back again this time tomorrow, carry on, carry on…as if nothing really matters.” ~Queen
So what did Dan accomplish other than play right into his mother’s plan? That would be nothing, I surmise. Whatever happened, happened… or, does planting the bomb dropping seed in Captain Jack set up The Variable he was so sure was now a possibility?
He was all about cultivating in this episode… from dropping a different sort of bomb on Pierre Change, not only about the troubled Swan construction, but that little nugget about Miles being his little boy all blown up… to carrying through with his doomsday message to little Charlotte.
Oh what a tangled web? Dan sure made a mess of things, not the least of which was him throwing a monkey-wrench into Sawyer and Juliet’s playhouse.
Sawyer always gets the best lines and Holloway delivers them perfectly, from “Your mother’s an Other?” to his pining remorse that everything was just peachy until Jack and Co. returned and messed everything up.
And kudos to Elizabeth Mitchell who had a great moment herself just after her man let a “Freckles” slip out. Her deadpan delivery of the fence codes was cold and vengeful. I loved it.
Alright… I have to give props to Hurley too. That Fonzie bit was hilarious.
I guess the writers didn’t completely drop the ball… Still, having a janitor, especially a new recruit be handed the keys to the gun cabinet was just about as contrived as things get.
I expect better…
“In my rear view mirror the sun is going down
Sinking behind bridges in the road
And I think of all the good things
That we have left undone
And I suffer premonitions
Of the holocaust to come.”
Next week we play “Follow the Leader”, the final episode before the explosive two hour finale of Season Five. A “holocaust to come”? Maybe, but also a rebirth perhaps, a new direction for the show as we bravely stride toward the end of one of the greatest series in television history.
A final piece of advice to our time-beleaguered castaways, especially to James Ford-Sawyer-LaFleur… aim for the head, my friend. Aim for the freaking head.
“Twenty rules for writing detective stories” (1928)
(Originally published in the American Magazine (1928- sep),and included in the Philo Vance investigates omnibus (1936).
by S.S. Van Dine (pseudonym for Willard Huntington Wright)
THE DETECTIVE story is a kind of intellectual game. It is more it is a sporting event. And for the writing of detective stories there are very definite laws unwritten, perhaps, but none the less binding; and every respectable and self-respecting concocter of literary mysteries lives up to them. Herewith, then, is a sort Credo, based partly on the practice of all the great writers of detective stories, and partly on the promptings of the honest author’s inner conscience.
1. The reader must have equal opportunity with the detective for solving the mystery. All clues must be plainly stated and described.
2. No willful tricks or deceptions may be placed on the reader other than those played legitimately by the criminal on the detective himself.
3. There must be no love interest. The business in hand is to bring a criminal to the bar of justice, not to bring a lovelorn couple to the hymeneal altar.
4. The detective himself, or one of the official investigators, should never turn out to be the culprit. This is bald trickery, on a par with offering some one a bright penny for a five-dollar gold piece. It’s false pretenses.
5. The culprit must be determined by logical deductions not by accident or coincidence or unmotivated confession. To solve a criminal problem in this latter fashion is like sending the reader on a deliberate wild- goose chase, and then telling him, after he has failed, that you had the object of his search up your sleeve all the time. Such an author is no better than a practical joker.
6. The detective novel must have a detective in it; and a detective is not a detective unless he detects. His function is to gather clues that will eventually lead to the person who did the dirty work in the first chapter; and if the detective does not reach his conclusions through an analysis of those clues, he has no more solved his problem than the schoolboy who gets his answer out of the back of the arithmetic.
7. There simply must be a corpse in a detective novel, and the deader the corpse the better. No lesser crime than murder will suffice. Three hundred pages is far too much pother for a crime other than murder. After all, the reader’s trouble and expenditure of energy must be rewarded.
8. The problem of the crime must he solved by strictly naturalistic means. Such methods for learning the truth as slate-writing, ouija-boards, mind-reading, spiritualistic se’ances, crystal-gazing, and the like, are taboo. A reader has a chance when matching his wits with a rationalistic detective, but if he must compete with the world of spirits and go chasing about the fourth dimension of metaphysics, he is defeated ab initio.
9. There must be but one detective that is, but one protagonist of deduction one deus ex machina. To bring the minds of three or four, or sometimes a gang of detectives to bear on a problem, is not only to disperse the interest and break the direct thread of logic, but to take an unfair advantage of the reader. If there is more than one detective the reader doesn’t know who his codeductor is. It’s like making the reader run a race with a relay team.
10. The culprit must turn out to be a person who has played a more or less prominent part in the story that is, a person with whom the reader is familiar and in whom he takes an interest.
11. A servant must not be chosen by the author as the culprit. This is begging a noble question. It is a too easy solution. The culprit must be a decidedly worth- while person one that wouldn’t ordinarily come under suspicion.
12. There must be but one culprit, no matter how many murders are committed. The culprit may, of course, have a minor helper or co-plotter; but the entire onus must rest on one pair of shoulders: the entire indignation of the reader must be permitted to concentrate on a single black nature.
13. Secret societies, camorras, mafias, et al., have no place in a detective story. A fascinating and truly beautiful murder is irremediably spoiled by any such wholesale culpability. To be sure, the murderer in a detective novel should be given a sporting chance; but it is going too far to grant him a secret society to fall back on. No high-class, self-respecting murderer would want such odds.
14. The method of murder, and the means of detecting it, must be be rational and scientific. That is to say, pseudo-science and purely imaginative and speculative devices are not to be tolerated in the roman policier. Once an author soars into the realm of fantasy, in the Jules Verne manner, he is outside the bounds of detective fiction, cavorting in the uncharted reaches of adventure.
15. The truth of the problem must at all times be apparent provided the reader is shrewd enough to see it. By this I mean that if the reader, after learning the explanation for the crime, should reread the book, he would see that the solution had, in a sense, been staring him in the face-that all the clues really pointed to the culprit and that, if he had been as clever as the detective, he could have solved the mystery himself without going on to the final chapter. That the clever reader does often thus solve the problem goes without saying.
16. A detective novel should contain no long descriptive passages, no literary dallying with side-issues, no subtly worked-out character analyses, no “atmospheric” preoccupations. such matters have no vital place in a record of crime and deduction. They hold up the action and introduce issues irrelevant to the main purpose, which is to state a problem, analyze it, and bring it to a successful conclusion. To be sure, there must be a sufficient descriptiveness and character delineation to give the novel verisimilitude.
17. A professional criminal must never be shouldered with the guilt of a crime in a detective story. Crimes by housebreakers and bandits are the province of the police departments not of authors and brilliant amateur detectives. A really fascinating crime is one committed by a pillar of a church, or a spinster noted for her charities.
18. A crime in a detective story must never turn out to be an accident or a suicide. To end an odyssey of sleuthing with such an anti-climax is to hoodwink the trusting and kind-hearted reader.
19. The motives for all crimes in detective stories should be personal. International plottings and war politics belong in a different category of fiction in secret-service tales, for instance. But a murder story must be kept gemütlich, so to speak. It must reflect the reader’s everyday experiences, and give him a certain outlet for his own repressed desires and emotions.
20. And (to give my Credo an even score of items) I herewith list a few of the devices which no self- respecting detective story writer will now avail himself of. They have been employed too often, and are familiar to all true lovers of literary crime. To use them is a confession of the author’s ineptitude and lack of originality.
(a) Determining the identity of the culprit by comparing the butt of a cigarette left at the scene of the crime with the brand smoked by a suspect.
(b) The bogus spiritualistic se’ance to frighten the culprit into giving himself away.
(c) Forged fingerprints.
(d) The dummy-figure alibi.
(e) The dog that does not bark and thereby reveals the fact that the intruder is familiar.
(f)The final pinning of the crime on a twin, or a relative who looks exactly like the suspected, but innocent, person.
(g) The hypodermic syringe and the knockout drops.
(h) The commission of the murder in a locked room after the police have actually broken in.
(i) The word association test for guilt.
(j) The cipher, or code letter, which is eventually unraveled by the sleuth.
Oh my stars and garters… thankfully I live by the old adage that rules were made to be broken… I suggest you do the same. – BF
”To be a scientist is to commit to a life of confusion punctuated by rare moments of clarity.
When I leave the office at night, the confusion comes with me.
Ruminating over these equations, seeking patterns, looking for hidden relationships, trying to make contact with hidden data — it’s all uncertainty and possibility engaged in an endless chaotic dance.
Every so often the blur resolves, but the respite is short lived; the next puzzle demands focus.
This, really, is the joy of being a scientist.
Established truths are comforting, but it is the mysteries that make the soul ache and render a life of exploration worth living.”
—Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe
So, what’s planned for the rest of this week on The Occult Detective?
- Thursday morning will bring another chapter in Lost In Translation as I pore over “The Variable”.
- May Day will be huge as I finally post my interview with Occult Detective fan favorite Thomas E. Sniegoski
- A May Day bonus post will feature another foray into the arcane world of the Winchester Brothers as I dissect “The Rapture” in the newest Supernatural Tendencies.
- What, there’s more? I hope to have an announcement or two, if not this week, then assuredly next. With me, you just never know. And knowing’s half the battle. Does that mean we’ve already lost?
Hans Holzer, known as the Father of the Paranormal, died Sunday at his Manhattan home after a long illness.
Dr. Hans Holzer, PhD, authored over 145 titles including Murder At Amityville, which was the basis for the 1982 film Amityville II: The Possession.
Having earned his PhD from the London College of Applied Science, he spent over five decades traveling the world to obtain first hand accounts of paranormal experiences, interviewing expert researchers, and developing parapsychological protocols and terminology such as ’sensitive’ and ‘beings of light’.
I first came across the work of Dr. Holzer in the 70s, through Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of… actually. This led me to books in the local library such as Ghosts I’ve Met, The Lively Ghosts of Ireland, Possessed!, and The Psychic Side of Dreams. These were invaluable to me and Hans Holzer’s work inspires me to this day.
He will be sorely missed.
I take a measure of joy today, however, knowing that Dr. Holzer has finally made the journey across the great divide for himself, and his questions… questions he asked all his life… have finally been answered.
writing from the Haunted Hoosier Heartland
Outlining book three in the Wolfe and Crowe Investigation series.
Here’s a wee bit of an update on FRESH BLOOD, the Burning Effigy Press anthology I’ll be appearing in, debuting May 29th.
Burning Effigy is extremely thrilled to announce the launch of a new offshoot to our horror chapbook line. The series, titled FRESH BLOOD, features three terrifying tales by a talented trio of up-and-coming horror scribes. We hope to make FRESH BLOOD a new yearly tradition. Here’s what the inaugural edition will be offering up:
Growth Spurts by Dave Alexander
Twelve-year-old Kendall’s body is going through changes, and he’s not
happy about it. But when a very long, mysterious hair sprouts in the
middle of his chest, he discovers that there are much worse growing
pains than puberty. He’s about to meet the monster within…
Left for Dead by Kelli Dunlap
When Susan’s 8-year-old daughter is brutally attacked, she becomes
consumed by her need for revenge but mere punishment is not enough.
Susan learns that sometimes those being given the lessons are not
those doing the learning.
Mourn Not the Sleepless Children by Bob Freeman
From the Highlands of Scotland comes a gothic tale of horror and
redemption, where the “Wickedest Man in the World” must stand face to
face against an unimaginable evil… an evil that hungers for human
flesh and blood.
Watch this space for details on how you can order your copy.
Father Rainey stared into the pernicious night and not for the first time questioned his faith. It came with the territory. As the ecclesiastical liaison to the Chicago Police Department’s Occult Crimes Taskforce, he saw more than his fair share of human depravity. This night’s horrors were no different. Lighting a cigarette from a crumpled pack in his great coat, he exhaled the twisted knot that had sought to put a stranglehold on his stomach, releasing it into the chilled October air.
“Never easy is it Father?”
The priest turned to meet the face of Detective Andrews, the thirty-something Mick with the face of an angel but eyes that were as dark and as cold as any lost soul you’d ever chance upon. Andrews was a man who had seen too much in too short a time. It wrecked his marriage, alienated his children, and introduced him to a dependency for alcohol that was slowly killing him. Once Rainey would have cared. Those days were long gone. It came with the territory.
“Easy?” Rainey responded. “No, I suppose not.”
“The boss wanted me to get your general impressions of the scene before CSU tears into it,” the detective said nonchalantly. He was fumbling with a silver flask and taking a nip. A little bump, Rainey thought. It was something to keep the hands steady in front of his superiors. Everyone leaned on some kind of crutch. The priest’s own nicotine-stained fingers were a testament to that caveat.
“Self-styled Satanists,” Rainey lied. “Teens perhaps, maybe a little older. Typical influences. LaVey, rock and roll, and B movie horror flicks.”
“You don’t?” the priest fired back, eyebrow cocked to give the impression of seriousness. Rainey had been playing this game far longer than Andrews.
“The way they carved up that girl…” the detective began. He took another swig of cheap vodka. “I don’t know, Father? Just seems a little more… organized. And a hell of a lot more vicious.”
“One over-zealous member,” the priest answered, trying to lead the detective from his line of deduction. “I’d bet next Sunday’s collection plate that the rest of the hooligans shit themselves when the knife came out and actually drew blood.”
Rainey tossed his spent coffin nail into the bushes.
“One sociopath playing at Satanism with a bunch of misfits, Detective Andrews. Nothing more.”
“Alright,” Andrews said with a nod of the head, “you’re the expert.”
Rainey removed another cigarette from the confines of his coat, lit it, and took a long drag while watching the detective depart. It was better this way, he thought. No sense in starting a panic. Not yet anyway. He flipped up his collar against the wind and strode confidently away from beneath the shadow of St. Paul’s.
If this night was going to start making sense, he needed to see a man about a horse.
Intrigued? Want more?
“Queen’s Gambit” is continued in Coach’s Midnight Diner: The Back from the Dead edition. Available now at amazon.com
being an addendum to my Incidental Theory
and where I totally go off the reservation
and throw out one huge, far-out rumination
I’ll assume that you’ve already read my theories as to the ending of season 5… you know, the one in which I state that we will in fact fade to black as the Jughead is detonated and the tremendous plume of a mushroom cloud rises up from the island… I theorized that we will see a montage of the Losties and the pivotal points in their lives that linked them to the island all along…
What I didn’t state, though I’m sure I implied, was that the oft mentioned “Zombie” season of Lost, an ongoing “joke” by Team Darlton, I believe, has more than a bit of truth to it.
Yes, I believe that with the end of season 5, at the conclusion of “The Incident”, everyone on the island will be killed.
The neat thing about the island is… this doesn’t mean their stories are over. They will, in fact, be resurrected in much the same manner as so many other living and breathing challenged characters have been (Locke, Christian Sheppard, Claire, et al).
I also believe that the island will not be destroyed by the atomic bomb. The explosion will be diffused throughout time, limiting its overall impact (though assuredly being the cause for the statue’s destruction).
Where do our resurrected zombie Losties end up? Past, Present, or Future? Or are they again scattered throughout the timeline?
Therein lies the rub.
Today, I’m leaning toward scattered.
Jump the Shark
It’s been awhile since I tackled an episode of Supernatural. Not because I haven’t been watching… the ongoing saga of the Winchester Brothers ranks as one of my favorite television series ever. It’s got it all, in my opinion… great characters and character interactions, tension, drama, and most importantly, Supernatural is heavy on weaving a comprehensive mythology that sings… no, screams… like a chain -smoking, whiskey-swilling heavy metal thunder god.
So, why am I back to scribing a column about my favorite brothers-in-arms? Two reasons… one, I miss ruminating about my second favorite show on television (sorry guys, Lost does come first)… and two, last night’s “Jump the Shark” kicked all kinds of ass.
As you know, I’m not here to do a recap. Plenty of other sites do that. Supernatural Tendencies is all about my observations and gut reaction as to what makes the show tick.
So what was firing on all cylinders in last night’s episode? Role reversal, sibling rivalry, jealousy… and the legacy of John Winchester.
It makes perfect sense that the Winchester patriarch would try to maintain a normal life for Adam, for him to take time away from hunting and killing demons and have little slices of normalcy with a son far removed from all that craziness. In those brief moments he shared with his secret son, John Winchester could step away from the insanity and I’m sure that it kept his fires lit, to know he had a refuge, a place of solace and serenity where he could be the kind of father he’d always wanted to be and would have been were it not for his having married a hunter…
Fair to Sam and Dean? Maybe not, but as they hammered into us during the episode, John Winchester gave his two sons by way of Mary the tools they needed to survive in a world filled with monsters, demons, and things that go bump in the night.
What was interesting was to see how much John’s upbringing influenced Sam. Being the son that continually butted heads with his father, who was desperate to escape the life he’d been raised in… “Jump the Shark” showed that between the two, it was Sam who was the most like good old Dad. Dean wears the same clothes, walks with the same swagger, drives the car and listens to the same music, but it’s Sam who has come around to the man’s way of thinking.
Now as to the monster of the week… a great reveal and a classic twist. Kudos to the entire creative team on this one. This episode, for all of its in depth character moments had equal parts of horror and tension. From Dean discovering the bodies of Adam and his mother, to Sam taking one on the chin by the doppelganger Ghouls and being bled out… Supernatural sure knows how to ratchet it up and I get the feeling that someone on the writing staff is a Brian Keene fan. If you’ve not read Ghoul, you should.
And you never go wrong with a head-shot.
“Jump the Shark” was a great episode to come back on. It shows us the best of what the show has to offer. And next week, we can dive back into the Angel War and the inevitable showdown between Sam and Dean at season’s end.
The theme of this week’s episode was all about family and revenge. I can see it as a foreshadowing of things to come…