Friday, October 28, 2011

Dream Lover, a Review

One of the best things about blogging is the community.  From my experience, most of the bloggers I've "met" are all friendly, professional, and bloody brilliant.  It seems that everyone is erudite and capable.  It's fun vicariously exploring different talents through the blogs of others, whether it's as a stay-at-home mom or an emigrant living in a haunted house somewhere in Scotland.  You get all kinds of differences, and that's half of the beauty of the blogosphere.  

In particular, I've mentioned fellow blogger Mattson Tomlin a time or two here on Rememorandom.  The lad (I can say that, as he's four years my junior) attends SUNY Purchase for Film (according to his IMDB page), where he's finishing up his junior or senior year, I can't recall which.  Anyway, I've been following Mattson for a few years now, and watching his films and ideas develop on his blog has been a real treat.  His posts often seem like "behind the scene" special features on DVDs, and when you watch this stuff prior to watching a film, it gives one a completely different feeling.

Mattson used a Kickstarter project to fund the short film called Dream Lover.  I kicked a buck, willing to support someone else's dreams, and then followed the many status updates Mattson posted intermittently.  Then, to my surprise, I received an email yesterday telling me that Dream Lover was up and available to watch.  So last night I lounged on the chaise, turned off the lights, put in earphones, and let the movie take me away.

To attempt to describe what Dream Lover is would be, in essence, like asking you to describe your dreams.  While that may sound simple enough, then throw in the challenge of not only describing, but also conveying your thoughts and feelings during your dreams.  Explain the why, the how.  Heck, sometimes even the who and where is beyond words.  This is a glimpse of Tomlin's 16-minute short, and I feel like the director/writer has done well in capturing a dream.  It's ethereal.  It's bizarre.  It's ever-changing.  There's horror, sex, death, and many other commonalities of Dream.  Scenes are quick and fluid, and transitioning between them is handled with grace and feels natural.

All of that still does not describe what the film is about.  And here's the dilemma.  Like with anything worth value, there will be different interpretations, and Tomlin's Dream Lover is no different.  People are definitely going to react differently, to get different things out of it.  One may feel pity for Anderson, the lead actor (and played by the dapper Adam Griffith) who has either moved on in a relationship or not, while someone else may find him skeevy and calloused.  Then there's the spurned-and-devilish Selene (played by Maria Rowene), the other main POV.  Her development is as beautiful as it is frightening.  And the third main player is Hera (Jenna D'Angelo), though she's more of a secondary character.  Throw in the actual Greek myth of Selene and Endymion, and the film can take on a whole different meaning.  

The sound effects of Dream Lover are perfect.  They've definitely been loved on and tailored to each scene.  The camera shots are all very-well done (I particularly liked the wide-angle shot of Young Anderson hiding under the bench), and even the sex scene was done with skill.  The accompanying score at the end provided a haunting tune to close out the credits*, wrapping up a stirring little movie.

So the real question is what's to do now?  I could talk about my thoughts, my feelings, but I also don't want to cross into spoilery.  So instead I'll strongly recommend that you go to the Dream Lover site (here) and watch the film.  It's 16-minutes long, nothing too taxing.  It's free, too.  (If it asks for a password, use "sweetdreams."  And don't worry.  Mattson wants as many people to watch it as possible; it's password-protected because of film festivals or something.)  Furthermore, if you like it, be sure and let Mattson know, as well as any other people you'd care to share it with.  Dream Lover is a great exploratory film about dreams, love, loss, and many other things, and you'd be sore pressed to miss it.  It's also a perfect conclusion to this year's RIP, as horror is definitely present (a la monsters and confusion).

I believe in Mattson Tomlin.  I've watched everything he's made available, except for Pit.A.Pat, whatever that is, and I see him going places.  His vision is great.  His skills are tremendous.  His passion is obvious.  So here's to you, Mr. Tomlin.  Great work on Dream Lover.  Now, I can't wait to get to the feature film of Solomon Grundy...

*Yep, my name is in the credits.  I'm assuming its the Kickstarter donors list.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

In Your Head, In Your Head, Zombie

[Note to the Reader: I recommend you clicking on the video first, letting it play while you read only if you've seen the video before.  Otherwise, I recommend on watching the video with the song.]

Oh man, this song wedges itself down in there deep, nestling right in between "Mana Mana" and "Do Wacka Do."  The Cranberries.  What a killer song, and a traumatic video, too, I daresay.  Plus, it's fitting for the season.  The video definitely captures the violent history of Ireland.

I love the viral lyrics, especially how Dolores O'Riordan sings them.  The heavy, steady bass-line pushes on continually, which is a metaphor all in itself.  As for the simple electric riff at the intro, solo, and outro, it's effective and lingers long after its finished.  And then there's the drums, beating and clashing, a perfect reminder of gunshot and clamor.  Yes, this song is monumental and powerful, but its also got a super catchy rhythm that definitely gets stuck "in your head, in your head."

I finally finished A Dance With Dragons, and now I'm debating whether or not to review it.  Is there a point to review Book Five of such an enormous series, where every word I say will be some type of spoiler for the previous four books?  No, probably not.  Dave is the only one who'd care.  In short, though, I enjoyed the book, just not as much as the first three.  Truly, it and AFFC could have been combined (as was the original plan) and condensed and the series would have been stronger for it.  As it stands, I'm slightly disappointed in the way ADWD ended.  Here's to hoping GRRM doesn't take as long with the next installment.

RIP VI is drawing to a close.  If you've not done so, go check out Carl's RIP Review site (here) and browse through the 600+ reviews.  I've put a few up myself, and should have one more before the thing winds to a close.  RIP is a great place to find new blogs, new books, and read some great reviews for the RIP season. Many thanks to Carl for continuing to host this event.

Avonlea's first Halloween aproacheth.  I shall endeavor to capture some memories with my memory capturing device.

Zombie. Zombie. Zombie-ie-ie-ie-ie-ooh-----

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nosferatu, a Review

Nosferatu is widely acclaimed for being one of the scariest films of all time.  With its iconic screen-shots, recognizable villain, lack of speech (i.e., a silent film), and word-of-mouth praise, I had some pre-conceived ideas about what to expect when I put the film on last night.  Sadly, my expectations fell flat within minutes of the film's exposition.  There are spoilers for those of you unfamiliar with Dracula or any other vampire story.

Nosferatu is essentially Dracula, though for legal reasons at the time, changes were made to avoid being sued.  Chiefly, Count Dracula is now Count Orlok, a creeper that lives off in the "land of ghosts and thieves."  A young real estate agent, and the film's protagonist, Hutter, has been given the task of securing deed work from Orlok to purchase a "beautiful and abandoned house" in the town.  Hutter leaves his beloved, Ellen, and sets off.  Needless to say, things go about how you'd expect, with only one additional plot element that I didn't see coming.

First off, before I begin deconstructing this film, an apology: I obviously am not the targeted audience and I've been too exposed to modern cinema to enjoy this movie.  Others (perhaps fans of TCM and Expressionism) like and appreciate this movie.  I don't.  And I'll explain why.

To begin with, I'm not a fan of Expressionism theater*.  I understand that it may have been useful for early 20th century folks, especially when so much was relied upon conveying through movement, but to me, it's just ridiculous.  I can't fathom why the folks of the time cared for it, either.  Real life is not Expressionistic.  The over-exaggerated movements and absurd facial expressions belong in a comedy, not a horror.  Most of the time I wanted to punch Hutter in the face for being so idiotic; I wanted to wipe the sycophantic smirk off of Knock's face; I wanted to slap some liberation into Ellen.  Even Count Orlok, while relatively reserved compared to the rest of the cast, fell to this form.  And as I said, this does not perpetuate horror, but comedy.

The next thing, and perhaps my biggest annoyance, was the score that accompanied the film.  We watched the Netflix Instant version of Nosferatu, and the film had a slide at the beginning that said the score was added in 1991.  I'm not sure who composed or played here**, or how this score compares to Hans Erdmann's original, but it was awful.  It basically sounded like a young musician learning about synthesizers and keyboards decided to tinker around.  Music rarely fit the scene, and half of it grew tedious after a few seconds of listening.

The third (and for brevity's sake, final) problem was the character's themselves.  Hutter was an idiot.  I don't know why he chose to act the way he did, but his actions were totally unforgivable.  Consider the following:
At Orlok's eerie and abandoned manse, Hutter is cutting him a slice of bread.  He cuts his finger accidentally.  Immediately Orlok is at the man's side and attempts to suck the blood from his finger.  Disturbed, Hutter backs away.  All the way to a cozy chair beside a fireplace.  Orlok, seconds later, suggests they sit and chat a while, and Hutter agrees.  The idiot falls asleep.  Then, the next day, he frolics around the estate, where he happens upon Orlok's sleeping body, that so happens to be in a coffin.  Horrified, Hutter runs away to the safest place possible: his room, where he puts a cover over his head and cowers in terror.  Good thing Orlok decided to leave for his new abandoned mansion, else I might have broken my tv.
What person is their right mind would do something like that?  It's so bad that I had to offset the whole paragraph!  Is Hutter supposed to be an imbecile?  And another thing.  Hutter brings a few books with him to read.  They're necessary plot devices, and when he picks one up, a slide comes up to show the Viewer what he's reading.  At one point, Hutter finishes his book and he slams it shut then hurls it to the floor.  For no apparent reason other than to persuade the Viewer that that's how one ought to treat a book.

I could go on and on about my problems with the film, but I'll stop at three.  There is a few commendable features, chiefly Orlok himself, that I found slightly enjoyable and somewhat creepy.  Max Schreck played his part well, and the vampire's movements & actions were the only part of this movie that could qualify as horror.  I particularly liked his slow walk and his disfigured face.  

In the end, Nosferatu was a worthless movie to watch.  Perhaps had I watched it fifty years ago.  Perhaps had I muted the tv.  Perhaps had I gouged my eyes out.  But alas, I did watch it, and I can't really recommend it to you unless you're a silent film fan, or simply curious to see the seminal vampire movie.  That said, there are other versions besides the one on Netflix, and mayhap they're better.  I won't be investigating, though.

*Though it does often work well in a comedy.

**A Google search says there are two Netflix versions.  One has a score created by the Silent Orchestra, which I believe is the one I watched.  The other apparently is no better.  [Source: here.]

Friday, October 21, 2011

Flash Fiction Friday: Medical Log Entry #16

Medical Log Entry #16
Patient: John Doe

You would think that in the midst of certain Armageddon--global thermonuclear war, devastating pandemic, cybernetic revolution, and the African continental plate disappearing, to name a few--that one would be accustomed to expecting the unexpected. I, for one, am no stranger to the bizarre. After my stint in deep space, my mind’s been programmed to think well outside the bounds of normalcy. Add that to the thirty-one years with the Force, I’ve seen it all. But when Nilo called me up and told me I had to hurry home, that I just had to see this, I could tell from the tone of her voice that something unique was waiting for me.

Nilo and I first met at UMBRA back in 0-13. I was newblood, straight from the uni’s proud and ancient halls. Still had the naive shine in my eyes. Still thought the earth tilted at twenty-three degrees. Nilo was already an old hound by the time I showed up. She’d been immersed in the strange for half a millennium. Everybody who’s anybody knows who Nilo the Cyrene is. Her fame is known from here to the outer sectors. She practically wrote the book on modern criminal psychology, as well as how to deal with the ramifications.

Needless to say, I boarded the next transport home. Of course, home was currently over two hundred and forty-nine million miles away, past Mars, past what’s left of Moon, back in tiny little Harrison, Michigan, United States, Earth. Traveling near Mach 100, the trip would take over a third of a standard year. That’s a long time for someone to wait, I had told Nilo, but she assured me I would be fine as long as I left soon.

It was day eighteen when it happened. Our transport was careening at speeds approaching oblivion (though nowhere near the higher realm of the mighty c), but inside the Argo everything was relatively calm. I excused myself from a fascinating conversation about fungus with the delightful Dr. Dame Wolffa and made a bee-line for the privy. It was there, standing in front of the mirror and watching the recycled greywater gush from the faucet, that the Argo experienced turbulence. I staggered. My head hit the counter top. Something massive crashed into the transport and the entire world around me shook violently. I heard a few gasps from outside, but the door on the privy was sealed shut and refused to open. I banged, as if expecting that to do anything, and again the world shook. It was as if an earthquake was loosed upon us, though, as I said, we were many million miles away from Earth.

The interior lights cut off, plunging me into sudden darkness. A moment later the emergency lights flashed on, a bright orange EXIT sign illuminating above the door. “Not hardly,” I said, pulling again at the latch. Open sobbing now sounded from without. I heard prayers and pleadings. Then the shuttle shook again and something massive crashed into it, grinding it and everything within it into dust.

Everything turned into colors. Sounds. Tastes. Smells. Indigo from a rainbow. The shade of dead wheat.  Mist from a waterfall.  The brightness of Sun at daybreak. How keystrokes sound at high WPM. Iris milky white. Bland oatmeal on a summer’s luncheon. Nilo’s perfume the night we went to Cloisters. The saffron hue of her lipstick. Darkness, encircling and pulsing, my body spinning in a billion little pieces, each turning and rushing along with whatever carried it away. An old dirge of trumpets and cellos. The grey of sepulchers and the gold of crowns. Salt on springmelons. Her laughter at the cine. Her hand inside mine. Dark blood red after a gunshot. Sand grains beneath fingers within cake upon grass under covers pork insulafoam bone masks joy inside you ache love numbers algorithms infinitely complex knowing knowledge knowing nothing spinning spiraling spewing splicing splaying splintering fragmentslightblackhopelostfoundyou...

Life coalesced; meaning reared its head; every road I’ve ever traveled was before me; every choice I’ve ever made; every possibility of everything, past, present, future. I was dead, and I wasn’t. There was still work to be done. Something remaining for me. All of this and more I knew, as if the Almighty chose to give me a glimpse into His mind. There was terror and there was certainty. Above all there was love.

I awoke here at St. John’s Hospital. I’ve no idea of the date. Every time I ask I’m told something about something called “January,” whatever that means. The orderlies all shun me. I see hate in their eyes. Distrust. There is one I may be able to persuade to join me, for I see sympathy in him. Still, I am lost without my Nilo. No one claims to know her, and I’m beginning to question her existence myself. I am no longer confident of anything. They asked me to write this all down, and looking back at it I can’t discern fact from fiction. They are trying to help me, so they say, but to me it’s more like an interrogation. Nothing makes sense. I am confined but for my writing arm and my neck. So I write, day in, day out, hoping someday that I can look back over this and find the truth. I know it exists. I had it in my grasp as I rode the comet back to Earth. But eternal fire is not meant for human minds, and I now must pay the cost. One day I will recover, and when I do, I will flee from this place and find Nilo. Until then, I must have patience.

Word Count: 938
-Written as an exercise in futility, plus, it's been a while.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Monday morning.  5:15am.  Cool.  Sleepy.  I go through the motions of my daily waking ritual, only now an hour earlier.  I take up my travel gear, kiss the sleeping ones, and hit the road.  Coffee, black, two creams, loathsome from McDonalds but open and cheap.  I pull into the office at 5:50, unload and re-load into Mike's. We're on the road by ten after six.


The trip is shy of four hours.  We drive in early morning bleariness.  Traffic is dead.  I may as well be.  We hit a rest stop halfway to our destination.  Temperature's dropped.  I see my breath in the air.  The road rumbles on as we roll west, away from my family, my home, and everybody I love.  It is the first time I've left my daughter for this long, and I miss her already.  But there's work to be had.  We're explorers bound for a brave new world, or at least a different world than home.  The Arch appears in the smoggy distance.  East St. Louis, we have arrived.


I am no stranger to urban life.  For five years I lived in Louisville, a relative metropolitan with a population in the millions.  I had a few different residencies, one being in a house dubbed the Old Skank.  The heat barely worked.  Water was so hard that it was almost white coming out of the faucet.  The cabinets were tilted and doors would close/open as per gravity's whims.  To get in the tub you had to step over a two-foot wall.  My car was broken into here.  An attempted rape was stopped on the front porch just houses away.  Yes, I know the seedy parts of the city, but all of this had nothing on our corner of heaven in East St. Louis.  Windows and doors were barred; scores of houses were condemned; everything was in disrepair.  But we weren't house hunting; no, we were looking at drainage structures, trying to see how the water was flowing in and around the intersection for our new project.

The stretch of road isn't very far, just a simple interchange with a bridge.  There were around 30 culverts to inspect.  To do this, we found these structures on our maps, then took pictures of them.  If anything of special interest caught our eyes, we'd jot notes down, though this usually consisted of whether or not an inlet was grated and/or clogged.  Occasionally we'd find some crazy outlet conditions, and one culvert took us several hundred feet into a mysterious woods filled with eroded banks and lethal briars.  Ah, but it was nice to be outside, and Monday proved warm enough to need only short sleeves.

We worked hard, and by six o'clock, we were both tired.  The hotel called; supper beckoned; sleep scratched.  We relented.  I brought my computer, aiming to get in some good writing time.  I brought some books, eager to read.  Alas, I was too sleepy.  By ten-thirty I was out, missing Avonlea, missing Keisha, missing Kentucky.


I had a nightmare, for the first time in ages.  I woke up at 4:40 with goosebumps.  Someone was standing over me.  I dreamed of demons, but I know not why.


6:30am.  41 degrees.  Raining.  I'd slept with the air conditioner on, so my room was icy.  I hurried and dressed, packed, and headed down to see how awesome the breakfast would be.  There was a waffle maker, so it was at least palatable.  We ate breakfast and went over the plans while reruns of Charmed played across the screens above.  There were a few more culverts to inspect, and since it had been storming, we'd look for some of the pipes we couldn't locate the previous day.

We worked through the rain, and by lunch my feet were thoroughly soaked.  Tennis shoes were a bad idea, but I have no boots other than steel toes.  Wet, cold, and hungry, we finished our reconnaissance.  For lunch, Cracker Barrel had the fireplace lit.  I changed clothes and cozied up to the flames.  A hearty meatloaf later, we were on the road, returning home.  Four hours later, the car was emptied, Rosebud was re-loaded, and I was home.

The collected data will be useful, as I'm starting on a new project.  Basically the site visit makes our 2-d maps much more useful, especially now that I have an idea of how the water will flow after a rain event.  When drawing drainage areas for watersheds, the USGS quad sheets are generally helpful, but aerials and real-world shots sometimes give a different result.  Next comes the actual drainage analysis, the studying of ditch flows and culvert discharges.  Should be interesting to see this go from start to finish.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Night of Blacker Darkness, a Review

"Do you ever wonder," said John idly, "why we call buildings 'buildings?' Are they in a state of constant construction? We should call them 'builts.'"
"Not like that," said John. "More tuneless, almost melancholy--like the whisper of a dying candle."
"I think it's safe to say that no one in this room knows what you're talking about."

A Night of Blacker Darkness, being the memoir of Frederick Whithers, is exactly what the subtitle says it is: a memoir.  Who, you may ask, is Frederick Whithers?  Mr. Whithers was a simple man of the early 19th century, who lived quite a simple life prior to his death, at least according to Mr. Bagsworth III's introduction.  According to official records, Whithers died of consumption while serving a prison sentence for forgery.  But if the memoir is to be believed, he faked his death, rose from his coffin, was spotted by a group of vampires who immediately proclaimed him the Great One, and had an unusual few days of pure  farcical madness as he tried to lay stakes on a ninety-thousand pound inheritance.

To expound on this madness would, I fear, spoil the brilliance of Mr. Whithers' memoir.  There is a great mystery lurking in the plot, drizzled with some fantastic humor so thick that one's willingness to suspend disbelief is almost challenged.  Murphy's Law prevails often, it seems.  The story is hilarious, and I had to stop reading a few times just so I could finish laughing.  John ____* may be one of the funniest characters I've ever read, and his dialogue/musings always cracked me up.

I became aware of A Night of Blacker Darkness just a few weeks ago.  While browsing Kindle book deals, I was looking through favorite authors, and this book came up.  And being a fan of Dan Wells, the mastermind behind this fictitious memoir, and furthermore intrigued because this book is only available as an e-book, I decided to give it a go.  I assure you, it's well worth the $5.

So what more can I say about this book?  It's very well written, though there are a few errors throughout the pages, but not enough to derail the story.  It's definitely macabre, as Frederick's post-prison journey takes him to graveyards, mortuaries, charnel houses, a ghoul's lair, a basement full of vampires, and many other random places throughout Bath and London.  And while the story never crosses into all-out horror, there are traditional elements of horror present.  To me, though, the delight came from the mystery mixing with the antics.  Wells makes use of a few familiar tropes and creates a gem.

I could say much on this read, but so as to not potentially ruin anything, I'll say little else.  If you have an e-reader, you really should read this book.  It's short and can be read in a lazy afternoon.  It'll have you laughing and have you intrigued.  I can easily recommend it to genre fans, literary fans, people that like to laugh, people with e-readers, and fans of Young Frankenstein or Dracula Dead and Loving It.  Better yet, go to Amazon and read the free sample (here).  I heartily enjoyed A Night of Blacker Darkness, and I eagerly look forward to seeing what else Dan Wells has to offer.

*This surname is intentionally blanked out by me, not in the book.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

General Updates

i see your bet and i raise you fifty more.
It's hard to believe that Avonlea is now over four months old.  She had her appointment for shots and stuff on Monday, and it possibly was the most heartbreaking thing I've ever seen.  The first round of shots from last month had nothing on this batch.  After a general check up from the pediatrician, the nurse came in to give the immunizations.  The first shot went in, Avonlea went from happy to total betrayal shock then to momentary silence to all-out screams in two seconds.  Then came the second shot in the other leg and the poor baby somehow became even more pitiful.  I really thought I was going to cry.  There's something about that defenseless mewling that destroyed a small part of my soul, but I know it's for her good.

Prior to all of this, she was weighed and measured.  Avonlea now weighs 9 lb, 6 oz, which puts her in the <5% on weight for babies her age.  This is congruent with her 3 month weight, as well as birth.  Length she is now in the <10%, so that's some improvement from the previous two measurements.  Foreverthemore, the good doctor said she looks great, acts great, and is perfectly healthy.

We're expecting her to start picking up some weight, since we began supplementing her with actual baby food a week or two ago.  Avonlea, like her daddy, loves green peas, though she's a touch messier than I am when she eats them.  She's not overly fond of bananas, but carrots are proving delicious.  The brown rice cereal is neither here nor there, but it's definitely filling, as evidenced by her sleeping through the night.

Sunday also turned out to be a wonderful day.  I lazied on the couch all afternoon, watching the Colts screw up and lose, and Avonlea lay right there with me.  This is a milestone, as Avonlea generally does not enjoy napping  by daddy and usually begins crying almost instantly.  (Oddly enough, she loves me rocking her to sleep and curls right up in my arms and drifts off pretty quickly.)  Still, she fell asleep on my chest and it was perfect.

Saturday night was The Well.  It was our first gathering.  A group of us really just want to get deeper in our relationship with God, deeper in our worship, in our praise to Him, and more in touch with our brothers & sisters.  We sang some songs, studied some Scripture, and glorified God in our quest to breathe His Word.  It was refreshing and intentions were met.
at mom's house.
I've also been working on a short story that I plan on putting out here as a Writing Wednesday post.  I have another one finished (though unedited) that is part of something much larger, something that's been in the works for a while now.  NaNoWriMo is next month, and while that's the perfect catalyst to force me to spew some words and thoughts, it's also too hectic an event for me to commit to, especially now that we have Avonlea.  I wish we had some sort of writer's group here in OBKY, or just some sort of pen pal like person that I could bounce ideas off and get my stuff ripped to shreds.

I'm finally starting on a new project at work.  After two years of tweaking a project down at the Land Between the Lakes, it's nice to finally be staring at something new.  What's more, this project is located in Illinois, relatively near St. Louis.  Because of it being in a different state, there's a whole new set of guidelines to follow for design work that's different from Kentucky.  While interesting and insightful, it's also tedious.  Soon, though, I'll be into the work and eager to start.

Lot's going on.  Maybe a book review Friday, and if not, then probably Monday.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

In Cold Blood, a Review

Holcomb, Kan., Nov. 15 [1959] (UPI) -- A wealthy wheat farmer, his wife and their two young children were found shot to death today in their home. They had been killed by shotgun blasts at close range after being bound and gagged ... There were no signs of a struggle, and nothing had been stolen. The telephone lines had been cut.—The New York Times

I'm hesitant to review Truman Capote's seminal true-crime novel In Cold Blood.  How does one begin to review non-fiction, let alone true stories?  I see the vanity of my opinion on the situation and want to run screaming the other way.  But that curious part of me, that part buried in a metal box in the middle of my heart, twitches and pines for things it ought not.  As I've mused time and again, I am inexplicably drawn to these things.

In Cold Blood is the account of the Clutter murders.  The book is broken up into four sections and told through numerous Points-of-View.  We watch Herb Clutter, kindly and genteel, make his way around Holcomb, conducting business for his family farm.  We see sixteen-year-old Nancy Clutter's budding relationship with her high school boyfriend.  We struggle with Mrs. Clutter and her bouts of depression, and son Kenyon (15) and his aspirations.  We're told about the small town of Holcomb and its caring citizens, where Church is society, the diner is always busy, and idle talk spreads fast.

Beyond this, and the more intriguing parts of the book, we travel with Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, two parolees who ultimately murder four innocent people for the hope of a chance that Mr. Clutter kept a safe in his house, filled with at least ten thousand dollars.  We learn of each man's upbringing, of their choices that landed them in jail, of their plans and goals, of their bitterness, and of their deaths.  It's easy to pity them, to wish things better for them, but from the onset we're aware of their deed and their execution.

Capote is brilliant in building dread and suspense.  Scenes change quickly, and since this is a journalistic approach, we see various sides of people/events.  There is much to be said about the crime, the victims, the criminals, and the aftermath, and Capote adroitly handles it all.

Strikingly, the brutality of the crime (as well as the executions of Hickock, Smith, and some other men on Death Row) is done in a matter-of-fact way.  Capote presents the scene with little fanfare, and this minimalism is chilling.  The Reader is left as dazed and confused as the townsfolk of Holcomb were, and one can't help but press on to discover the true motive.  Why? continually comes to mind.  Emotion is poured into the book, though often it is reserved and professional, and this dichotomy makes for an oddly disturbing read.

In Cold Blood has been on my TBR shelf for a very long time, and I'm glad it's finally gone.  I wanted to read it for RIP this year because this stuff is what truly defines horror to me.  It's real and 100% possible, not like some phantom killer or haunted house.  I tend to think that we've created ghost stories as an escape, preferring the supernatural to the perfectly natural.  Because there are killers out there.  People that torture, kidnap, rape, murder, assault, harass, antagonize.  And who knows when someone could simply snap and massacre a shopping center or bookstore?  It's scary enough to make me want to take my family and live in a bomb shelter, buried and out of sight, safe and secure.  And when my mind starts roaming these uncomfortable corridors, I have to ask myself one question: what if you're the one to snap?

And it stops me.  Cold.  Because I'm human, just like Dick Hickock, Perry Smith, Herb Clutter, and everybody else.  I'm no killer, but I could be.  We all could be.  We all have the potential.  What keeps us held back is our self-control, or maybe our fear of prison and death.  What keeps me back is my love for people, my love of life, made possible by the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Without Him, I think I'd be some kind of messed up person, but I trust Him and His word that He'll never leave me or forsake me.  But really, when you think about it, if you stand two people side-by-side, one a killer, the other not, and put them in identical clothes and ask someone to pick out the killer, there's no difference.  Both are just simply people, and that's the most terrifying thing out there.  We don't really know anyone...

[Note: After re-reading this, I realize how disturbing this post is, and I've considered simply deleting and starting over.  But, as a purist, I find that path treacherous.  Instead, I'll echo my previous line.  I am enslaved to God and committed until I die, therefore I do not keep myself restrained from going out and murdering somebody.  Instead, I deal with the more insidious sins, things like when Jesus said that being angry with your brother was basically wanting to kill him, and inward lust was the same thing as adultery, and pride--oh how I loathe thee!--that snakes its way into every aspect of my life.  Yes, friends, I am perfectly sane (to my knowledge).  Just trying to make my way in the world the same as the rest of ya.]