Originally Posted to Blogger – Sunday, February 04, 2007
My January underground wrapped up this week without a great deal of creative activity. I had a couple of nights of decent productivity, but I’m still having trouble staying awake at the keyboard past 10:00pm.
I have been toying with something new on my lunch breaks at Starbucks. I think it spawned as a result of my reading “The Cthulhu Mythos” by August Derleth, and feeling like I could do better. Derleth was a contemporary of H.P. Lovecraft (kind of the Stan Lee of horror, for the uninitiated), and took up his mythos after Lovecraft died. I’ve owned this story collection for years (I went through a big Cthulhu phase in early college), but just now got around to Derleth’s work. And, no sir, I don’t like it.
I’ve read almost half the book, and the author seems a one trick pony. Most of the stories seem practically identical, with a few different names and places. Worse, Derleth resorts to the meta-fictional technique of referencing H.P. Lovecraft in almost every tale! In each story, at least one character has just discovered extensive knowledge in Cthulhuian lore. They inevitably reference the same set of ancient tomes and evil texts Lovecraft created for his own stories. Yet Derleth goes a step further by having his characters cite “the fictional accounts of one H.P. Lovecraft” as filled with insights into the stories’ strange and horrific phenomenon. This has happened in no less than eight stories so far. Ye gods!
The last time I encountered such literary bungling was in “Vengeance of the Black Donnellys: Canada’s Most Feared Family Strikes Back from the Grave”. I was working at a bookstore in DeKalb, IL, which had a discount branch that sold markdowns and closeouts. We literally bought books by the crate, without knowledge of what we would receive. In one shipment, we were cursed with about a hundred copies of “Vengeance of the Block Donnellys” in a small, plain trade paperback. They became a joke around the stores – we’d display them everywhere, priced at a whopping ten cents, and hard sell them to any customer who’d listen. “Vengeance” is a fictional sequel to a non-fiction book (itself wholly inaccurate, sensationalized and poorly written, yet has somehow managed to maintain some popularity since the 1950s). The novel, a hack job of epic caliber, makes constant reference to its precursor, often with characters espousing the book’s virtues and “widespread” fame. It would be laughable if it had not managed to be published time and again over 50+ years. Look it up on Amazon and you’ll find four customer reviews, all 4 or 5 stars. I’m guessing these are family members still pulling in the royalties…
I didn’t watch the Super Bowl, but I was informed that the 2nd Quarter Sprint commercial featured the voice of my work buddy Rob Naughton. Rob does imaging for KSHE 95, and on the side has been trying to get into the big time movie preview / commercial business. He’s read for several high profile companies, but hadn’t made it on screen yet. Awhile back, he cut a VO for Sprint, was paid for his work, but never told if it would be used. So he’s sitting with some friends tonight watching the big game, the Sprint ad rolls and it’s his own voice playing back to him – and 100 million other television viewers. I think it’s safe to say he was pretty stoked.
Meanwhile, I was hanging some art in the kitchen, washing dishes and watching a few minutes of Puppy Bowl III on Animal Planet. Go team.
Wen and I went to Stars on Ice on Friday night. She’s a lifelong fan of skating, and in the past couple years has gotten me into it. We watched the USA Nationals last week, and I was really excited to see a gold medal win for Kimmie Meisner, and an explosive, first place performance from Evan Lysacek. Stars on Ice didn’t have the big bangs of the competitions, but was still a lot of fun. Some of the routines were a little dull, but Michael Weiss proved to be a strong entertainer (though I’d seen him live at Nationals last year and was not impressed), and Olympic Gold Medalist pair Jamie Salé & David Pelletier were outstanding.
I picked up “Batman: The Animated Series” Vol. 1-4 on DVD from Slackers (in large part on the merits of my recent Xbox console and games trade in). My immersion in the “Justice League (Unlimited)” cartoon series has hooked me on the DC Comics / Bruce Timm – Paul Dini animated universe. Since I don’t have the time or money to devote to comic books right now, this has definitely filled the void.
Watched “The DaVinci Code” on DVD with Wen last night. I saw it in the theatre as well, and read the book before that. Critics called it slow-paced and dull, and I’ve never understood that. I think it’s a very well constructed adaption of the novel. It has a lot of big ideas to communicate in a short time, and I think it does that pretty well. Some of the dialogue gets heavy-handed, but it doesn’t weigh the film down too much. The media made a big deal about Tom Hanks’ hair in the film as well, which is ridiculous. It suits the character, looks good on him, and was simply something to gripe about. Up yours, movie critics.