Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Song of the Week: “Swingin' at the Seance”

Oops! I almost forgot about this song. It's from a group called The Moon Rays -- a group I never heard of until last year but worth hearing about for many reasons. This tune is a cover version, of course, but it is a good one.

I hope you all enjoy it.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Mi Prima Favorita!

It's my favorite cousin's birthday today.

I hope you all are as happy as she should be.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

When the Moon Hits the Sky like a Big Pumpkin Pie, That's Lemora

I am not sure if it is intentional or not but the title character in 1973's Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural has a name that's an anagram for “l'amore” -- which is, of course, the Italian word for “love.”

Not to give anything away, of course, but I suspect that is meant to be foreshadowing.

For that matter, I cannot help but notice that the poster for this movie...

looks like a forerunner for the poster for this movie.

But surely, that is just a coincidence.

The film is set in the American South of the 1930s and involves a young 13-year-old girl named Lila Lee whose mother was killed by her gangster dad. As the movie starts, Lila is singing a solo number for the local church choir.

Later, she gets a message to go meet her dying father in an isolated town called Astaroth. Thus begins Miss Lila Lee's odyssey in search of something even she is not particularly sure of.

Along the way, she meets ghouls, vampires and creepy little kids who wear way too much makeup and fingernail polish. She meets a mysterious female named Lemora -- who is, of course, the title character -- and she meets a creature which may or may not be her father. The clergyman with whom she had been staying after her mother's death goes in search of her and then...

The result is a rather odd film. On one hand, it is really obvious that the film was shot on a very low budget. On the other hand, the film has a lot of poetic touches that a more polished film might choose to omit. Lesley Gilb gives a memorable performance as the title character but there is a certain showiness to her character that may not be to the taste of most viewers. Since the film hints at lesbianism, modern viewers might expect to see something more explicit than anything that ever appears on screen, but if so, prepare to be disappointed. And yet I can see why the censors of the day were not exactly happy with this flick.

At the end of the movie, the viewer is forced to make up his or her own mind as to what he or she just saw. Was it an actual story? A daydream? An alternative reality?

Is Lila alive? Dead? Possessed?

I suspect only Lila and Lemora know for sure -- and unfortunately, they are not talking.

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

30 Rock: “Stone Mountain”

People on the Net keep talking like 30 Rock is the one sitcom worth watching on TV today and so far I can't see it.

Perhaps because every time I break down and watch the show, the results are at best okay. Not spectacular but okay.

Perhaps it's because I'm at the age where I no longer feel the need to devote myself to a particular sitcom the way I devoted myself to All in the Family or The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But more likely it's because the show is just not that memorable.

It's not a bad show, I'll admit. But it has yet to inspire me to wait eagerly until the next episode.

Anyway, even if I did like the show better, I probably would have hated this particular episode which tries very hard to be funny but which also proves that 21th century sitcom jokes contrasting blue states and red states are every bit as unfunny as the jokes contrasting New York and Los Angeles that one used to see in movies like California Suite and Annie Hall.

Okay, Tina Fey can be funny and Alec Baldwin has a way with a line. And it's always nice to see Jane Krakowski.

But for me, it's just not enough. And I'm usually easy to please.

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

The Office (U.S.): “Niagara”

For some reason, it's not fashionable to like traditional wedding scenes in TV shows which is a shame because traditional weddings can be just as much fun to see on TV as they are in real life.

Anyway, this was not exactly a traditional wedding episode and I thought the writers did an excellent job of combining cynicism and sentiment in that special way that we have come to expect from this series. Plus I got to see a bit of Niagara Falls, which is always nice, though for some reason, the Falls never seem as impressive on TV as they do in real life.

I must confess that I would have gladly forgone the inevitable shout-out to a recent YouTube video but to be fair, even that part was true to the show's characters. Michael Scott -- the boss of the happy couple Pam and Jim -- has an established history of stealing the thunder from other people's special occasions and of course, he also has a history of borrowing ideas from the Internet, regardless of whether they make any sense or not. So it was rather inevitable that he would do that yet again, regardless of whether Pam and Jim wanted him to do so.

That said, I am glad he is a fictional character because my own real-life wedding plans had enough problems...

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I finally joined the MP3 revolution around this time last year and now the one brand of MP3 player that I really, really come to like is no longer being sold.

Granted, I could always break down and get an i-pod but I can't really afford one right now. Besides, the brand of MP3 player I got accustomed to was roughly the price of an old Walkman and that was within my budget.

I am tempted to say that is what I get for being a late adopter but like most people in my family, I was not raised to be an early adapter. Anyway, I find the whole idea of subsidizing someone else's technology -- which is what an early adopter does -- to be a bit foolhardy. If I was in a better financial position, maybe. But I am not. And I suspect I would hear my late father lecturing me on the virtues of frugality if I did so, anyway.

Besides, I prefer to invest in a technological device that actually makes sense for me to incorporate in my life. The one reason I finally broke down and got a cell phone is that because it gave me a handy way to communicate with my family and my former novia without being tied to the telephone I had at home. The one reason I broke down and got a DVD player was because I had moved to a smaller residence and I could not afford to devote a whole lot of shelf space to a VHS tape collection like I used to do.

I can understand why a businessman with several million invested in a certain invention would want to hasten the adoption process. But, unless he is going to pay me to use his device, I prefer to make up my own mind about when to adopt it.

Besides, early adopters all too often seem similar to the type of people who sneer at other people for having the wrong labels on their clothes. Especially when they are not just content to show off their new toy but also try and shame everyone within earshot into buying one too. After all, it is hardly a kindness to persuade people to spend money they may not necessarily have on stuff that they do not necessarily need just to please someone else's notion of fashion. And it is certainly not the act of a truly enlightened person.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Movie Song of the Week: “This is Halloween”

Yes, this song from 1993's The Nightmare Before Christmas is an obvious choice, but those of you who know me just knew that I was bound to post this tune sooner or later.

Besides, as a Halloween mood-setter, it can't really be topped.

I hope you all enjoy it.

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Movie Quote of the Week

It's Halloween, everyone's entitled to one good scare.
-- Charles Cyphers, Halloween (1978)

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TV Quote of the Week

I don’t want to look like everyone else. I want to look like me.
--Collin Wilcox, The Twilight Zone, “Number 12 Looks Just Like You”

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Song Quote of the Week

I wear my memories like a shroud
I try to speak but words collapse.
--Steven Severin of Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Halloween”

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Literary Quote I Like

You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.
--John Steinbeck, East of Eden

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Message to Philistines

People just don't understand. True art is worth any sacrifice.

Yet people keep making a fuss about every little thing...

...and don't understand that it's the artists who stand between us and mindless commercialism.

Moreover, people don't understand that it takes an exceptional mind to appreciate true beauty...

...and they tend to see something fishy... even the most noble artists.

After all, it's not like any great artist would ever dare harm a child.

At least not lately...


On second thought, perhaps this is the best response to the whole Polanski controversy:

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Magazine Cover of the Week

Is it wrong of me that I actually miss this magazine? Oh, I suspect it may still be around in some online form but it was never the same after the death of its original publisher, Frederick S. Clarke, so it may as well be gone.

This is the very first issue I bought and I wish very much I had held on to it. It was one of the first magazines to show me that it was possible to talk about my favorite sci-fi and horror movies in an intelligent fashion -- and yes, that was way before the Internet when seeing something like this in print was still a big deal.

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What the Hell?

I saw this cartoon from a nineteenth-century issue of Punch on Wikipedia and I'm hoping that it's a joke by some modern artist. But knowing the prejudices of nineteenth-century Englishmen, I somehow doubt it.

So apparently I'm not the only one who reads political messages into fictional characters. Unfortunately.

Fortunately, whoever drew this is long dead but still...I really don't want to see a modern equivalent.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Cuento de Mi Id

“Casa de Cambio”

“There it is,” Rebecca pointed. “Right there on the corner.”

“C’mon, Becky,” said John. “We’re in bumper-to-bumper traffic. We don’t have time to stop right now.”

“Hey, it wasn’t my idea to cross the border at this time of year. The least we can do is take advantage of the best rates.”

“Yes, I know that. But can’t you at least wait until we cross the border before you start hitting the casas de cambios. They got them over there, too, you know.”

“Yes, I know that. But the rates are always better on the American side. Can’t I just get out here and go do my business while you go drive round the block?”

“I guess so. But they better not have a long line in there.”

“Don’t worry,” Rebecca said with a smile. “I’ll be back out as soon as possible.”

“That’s what you said the last time,” muttered John. But by that time, Rebecca had already disappeared inside the casa de cambio and there was no sight of her to be seen in the rear-view mirror.

Just as well, thought John. Rebecca always goes overboard when she goes shopping in Mexico so she might as well get the best rate for her money. Considering how bad the traffic was today, though, he hoped that her rate was a pretty darn good one.

Rebecca was already outside by the time John had made it through the maze of one-way cobblestone streets which constituted a typical Laredo “drive around the block.” She smiled and waved at him. John did not bother to wave back.

“That was fast,” he said as she got in.

“Well, they weren’t really changing dollars today,” she said. “Sorry.”

“No problem. What were they changing? Krugerrands?”

“Can’t you tell?” Rebecca pointed. “My eyes are now brown and my nose is no longer a pug. Doesn’t that give you a clue?”

John nearly broke an axle in his haste to get back to the casa de cambio. However, the person who had been his wife was no longer inside. No one was. The whole place was just an empty shell of a building with a sign on the outside.

By the time he got back to the car, the woman he had thought to be Rebecca was still patiently waiting for him.

It wasn’t until he stopped at a Chevron station on the north side of town that he finally heard the ticking noises that the Laredo traffic had drowned out before. Needless to say, they were not coming from the engine.

Or his watch.

“How do I get her back?” he asked after a long while.

“You don’t,” the thing that looked like Becky said. “Unless, of course, you have something that you wish to exchange in her place.”

Like a soul, perhaps, he thought. Or a little finger. Maybe even a foreskin. Somehow, he doubted that the people who took Becky also took checks.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween Song of the Week: “Haunted House”

From 1964, it's Jumpin' Gene Simmons -- not to confused with the guy from KISS -- singing that old Halloween pop favorite, “Haunted House,” yet another item of pop culture which may or may not have anything to do with the desegregation movement of the mid-1960s. But perhaps I am overthinking things again and it is just a coincidence that this tune about some poor guy trying to keep from being driven out of his own house just happened to come out at the height of the American Civil Rights Movement. Let us all hope so...

Eccentric interpretations aside, I hope you all enjoy the song:

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Trailer of the Week: The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966)

Don't just sit in front of the computer all weekend.

Go see a movie.

Like this one, which features music by the late Vic Mizzy and a performance by Don Knotts in one of the title roles. (I would think it goes without saying that he's not playing the ghost.)

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Comic Book Image of the Week

Is this the all-time best title for a comic book or what?

No, wait. Maybe this one is.

And to think they were sold at the same newstands as regular comics. Too bad they're basically romance comics and the titles don't necessarily mean what I would like to think they mean.

For that matter, neither title lasted all that long. Apparently there wasn't that big a market for romance comics back in the 1970s and both comic books changed to more conventional titles after the first four issues. In addition, they both also became conventional horror anthologies. So much for those titles.

But, hey! I can dream, can't I?

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Fantasy Quote of the Week

I am cursed to live between worlds. On the one side there is normalcy. On the other, there is a place where I can be what I am with no fear of reprisals, where I can commit murder itself and scarcely raise the eyebrows of those around me, where I am even encouraged to do so to protect the sanctity of that world. But I left and I can’t return. I won’t return.
--Kelley Armstrong, Bitten

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Lines H.P. Lovecraft Never Meant to Write

Searchers after whores haunt strange, far places.

Unhappy is she to whom the memories of maidenhood bring only fear and sadness.

But by God, Eliot, it was a phonograph from life.

Lust is a hideous thing, and from the background behind which we know of peer demonical hints of truth which make it sometimes a thousand fold more hideous.

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Poema de Mi Id: Parte III


While the demons, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, “Lust”,
And its hero the Conjugal Worm.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Movie Poster of the Week

And the movie I most want to see on DVD (an official DVD, that is) is

Well, it is close to Halloween.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Movie Song of the Week: “Tubular Bells”

From 1973's The Exorcist, it's an oldie but a goodie: Mike Oldfield's “Tubular Bells.”

I hope you all enjoy it.

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Movie Quote of the Week

Poor don't cheat one another. We're all poor together.
--Charles Lung, The Leopard Man (1943)

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TV Quote of the Week

My name is Victoria Winters. My journey is beginning. A journey that I hope will open the doors of life to me and link my past with my future. A journey that will bring me to a strange and dark place, to the edge of the sea high atop Widows' Hill - a house called Collinwood. A world I've never known, with people I've never met. People who tonight are still only shadows in my mind, but who will soon fill the days and nights of my tomorrows.
--Alexandra Moltke, Dark Shadows

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hey, I Remember This Show: The Addams Family

In honor of the late Vic Mizzy, the opening credits to a show with which most of my generation is quite familiar.

This used to be one of my late father's favorite shows. Or at least he watched it a lot and preferred it to The Munsters.

And speaking of The Munsters, anyone else ever think it was strange that American TV viewers got so many sit-coms about weird neighbors during the same time that racial integration was a major concern in this country? I'd like to think that any connection is either a coincidence or a positive development. Perhaps the good folks in TVland meant to suggest that if we could get used to a Gomez Addams or a Herman Munster, we should have no problem with a black family moving in down the street. Then again, not every sane person wants to live next door to a Gomez Addams or a Herman Munster. And it did seem rather ominous that one rarely saw blacks or Hispanics on these shows.

But maybe I'm overthinking this a bit too much.

I hope you all enjoy the video.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

R.I.P. Joseph Wiseman

Canadian actor Joseph Wiseman, best known for his portrayal of the title character in 1962's Dr. No, is dead at age 91.

He will be missed.

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R.I.P. Vic Mizzy

Vic Mizzy, noted film composer most famous for creating the theme for TV shows like The Addams Family and Green Acres, has passed away at the age of 93.

He will be missed.

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Nonsequential Links IX

Here we go again, along with my usual comments in parentheses. Which is just as well because I don't have time to write all the good stuff on the Internet...

A black friend of mine told me that all “halfies” have race identity issues and that I couldn’t be both I had to choose to be one or the other... I think the second part of that is BS. I can be both. (Yes, I am a sucker for items about half and halfs but then again, given my background, it seems silly to pretend otherwise. Besides, Elenamary has a point.)

And even Thomas Jefferson once said "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Well, how can we be vigilant if we don't know what is being done in our names by our own armed forces?

So why not start a tax-subsidized newspaper to create some competition in the local newspaper business? And maybe a radio station as well. After all, if the people are paying for it, it would serve the people and not some private for-profit interest. (I think it is obvious in what spirit this quote is meant to be taken. If not, read the whole item.)

A little soupçon of affection for the past will not turn Mr. Weiner's dead-serious critique into "The Wonder Years Meets Ad Age." (The Siren goes after Mad Men with far more wit and style than I could ever pull off.)

I thought the lingering popular culture messages of "boys can be doctors and girls can be nurses" from when I was a kid were bad, but now it's "men can be doctors and women can be naughty nurses."

Money talks when nothing else does in America, and it doesn't need fancy rhetoric to be heard: just economic necessity.

I strongly believe Chewbacca could speak human if he so chose -- but he prefers to let the other characters shine. That's the sort of selfless assist to others that makes him perfect in the sidekick role.

According to the narrator, what is it that makes our heroine (Brigitte Nielsen) recognize Queen Gedren's (Sandahl Bergman) evil ways? Is it the pillaging of the landscape? Perhaps the slaughter of her entire family? No. It's that Queen Gedron thinks Sonja is hot.

Were he not a world-famous director with boatloads of powerful friends, but just a regular convicted sex criminal who had fled abroad, would anyone think it was asking too much that he should go through the same formal process as anyone else? (Yes, I linked to several items about Roman Polanski last time, but then again when an item seems worth a link, then it is worth a link.)

You can't say you're FOR an ideological blanket-statement like "small government" and then suddenly turn AGAINST it once the party opposed to you is in power if you want people to take you seriously. ('Nuff said.)


Monday, October 19, 2009

Cuento de Mi Id

“Christina’s World”

In a museum near my current house, there is a copy of the famous Andrew Wyeth painting Christina’s World. I look at the painting and see a young girl staring at a farmhouse. Judging from her posture, it is difficult to say whether she is attempting to crawl toward or away from it. The artist gives us no clues.

Afterward, I drive through the neighborhood where I had spent my childhood and stop by the house where I no longer live.

I gaze at my old house and note with sorrow the boarded-up windows and the recently-painted graffiti. I blame it all on the way the neighborhood has changed and I indulge myself in a spate of forbidden racism, only to start at a sudden noise. I look up to see a small dark-faced boy peering down at me through a broken window pane. But there are no windows in the house anymore. They’re all boarded up.

I describe the incident to my cousin Roberto.

“Of course, you imagined it,” he says.

“Of course,” I say. “But for a moment, I could have sworn the little boy in the window looked like you.”

We both laugh at this point. It is a joyous laughter the type shared by close friends who just happen to be related by blood or marriage.

Then my husband enters the room and the mood soon changes. Roberto’s wife enters soon after.


There is an old picture in my mother’s family album. A little blonde girl is shying away from the camera and above her shoulder a dark-faced boy stares defiantly into the camera lens. The dark-faced boy is Roberto. The girl, of course, is me. But I should not speak of these things.


My full name is Maria Christina Fuentes, but my Anglo friends usually call me Chris. My cousin Lupe envies me for having access to an Anglo Christian name. She also envies me my fair complexion and blonde hair.

“The girls in school always made fun of me,” she said. “One girl even said I must be part-Negro.”

In the sixth grade, she wished she had a picture of me to prove that not her relatives were dark. She did not tell me this until she was thirty.

All through school, I had the exact opposite problem. I had a Spanish surname but no apparent physical right to it. I envied my dark-haired cousin Roberto who was so sure of his identity. He carried himself with the grace of a Latin dancer. If only I looked like his sisters, I’d think to myself, I’d be perfect.

One time we were visiting Roberto’s house and I was staying in a room upstairs. One afternoon, I discovered that I felt good to touch myself in a certain way. I was taking advantage of this discovery when I heard a knock on the door. It was Roberto.

“Everyone’s ready to jump in the pool,” he said, peering around the door. “Do you want to come?”

Still ashamed of the part of me I hid with a blanket, I said no.

“Very well,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “If there’s anything else…”

He seemed reluctant to leave for some reason. I was reluctant to have him stay.

“Please leave,” I said.

There seemed to be a hurt expression in his eyes, but he left.

Three years later, he introduced me to the girl he was going to marry after graduation.

For some reason, I expected her to be blonde. She wasn’t. Roberto didn’t marry a blonde until his third marriage…


Christina crawls toward the farmhouse, but she is scared to enter. It is dangerous to enter, she is told, and she must crawl away. But she does not want to.

Why is that I wonder?

If she is going toward it, why is there not more yearning in her expression? If she is leaving, why does she stare so intently in the opposite direction?


I used to have a thing for dark-skinned boys. I had the strongest crush on a black Irish boy in my CCD class and another on a Puerto Rican in my high school Spanish class. I used to be flattered by the way the Arab students in college seemed so impressed by my blonde hair. I dared not tell them that I, too, was stunned by their looks.

I finally married an Anglo, but in the end, we broke up. He cheated on me, receiving calls from women who were inevitably shorter and uglier than me, proving mere looks have little to do with mere sex appeal.

I told myself that I had made a mistake marrying an Anglo and resolved to look for the exact opposite.

My Aunt Claudia tried to introduce me to a Mexican boy she knew, but I got nervous and spilled wine on my dress. Afterwards, I was too embarrassed until my cousin Roberto talked me into going out onto the dance floor. It was the loveliest moment of my life.

On the way back to the table, I was tempted to kiss him, but I knew his wife would be jealous if he did. So I kissed his older brother Martin, who promptly frowned and gave me an icy glare.

I am currently married to my second husband -- a Cuban. He is a kind and gentle man and he has given me three children. I am beginning to acknowledge the fact that I’m destined to spend the rest of my life with him, and if by some chance, Roberto and I end up simultaneously widowed or divorced, we’ll probably be too old to consummate a legal marriage. Perhaps it is just as well. Any children borne of such a marriage would undoubtedly be deformed and neither of us would want that to happen.

Yet old feelings don’t die. Roberto still brings a smile to my lips and I his when all else fails.

There is another thing to note as well. One day when I was carrying my third child, I drove by the old house and noticed that it was still boarded up. I saw someone staring down at me from an upper-story window. It was my dark-skinned friend again and this time he had a little blonde girl with him.

I was glad then that the front door had been boarded up as well or else I might have been tempted to go after them. As it was, I drove away from there as fast as I dared.


The house that Christina stares at in the painting is a tempting refuge, but she dares not enter. Someday she might, but just not yet. I wish the artist had come out with a second painting which resolved the situation once and for all.

But he did not.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Trailer of the Week: Cannibal Girls (1973)

The bells! The bells!

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Comic Book Image of the Week

Oh, no. It couldn't be.

Then again only Joss Whedon knows for sure.

Seriously, the blonde in the picture above is actually Rachel Van Helsing from Marvel's The Tomb of Dracula and she is a descendant of you-know-who from the Bram Stoker novel. And yes, she does look familiar. But I'm sure it's just a coincidence.

It would be kinda fun to see Sarah Michelle Gellar play her in a movie, though.

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Fantasy Quote of the Week

There were faces at the windows and words written in blood; deep in the crypt a lonely ghoul crunched on something that might once have been alive; forked lightnings slashed the ebony night; the faceless were walking; all was right with the world.
--Neil Gaiman, “Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire”

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Halloween Song of the Week: “Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man”

There's not a whole lot of Halloween videos out there available for posting but there is this video from one of my favorite groups, Concrete Blonde.

I realize that Concrete Blonde is not to everyone's taste but I'd like to think that this is one of their most memorable songs. Plus the sight of lead singer Johnette Napolitano in nineteenth-century dress is hardly a sight I can easily turn away from.

I hope you all enjoy it.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Movie Song of the Week: “I Have But One Heart”

In honor of the late Al Martino -- aka Johnny Fontane in 1972's The Godfather -- who passed away Tuesday at age 82.

He will be missed.

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Movie Quote of the Week

Do you know he's one of the richest men in the country? And he got that way selling cheap gags and Halloween masks. Oh God, there's hope for us yet.
--Jadeen Barbor, Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

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TV Quote of the Week

The saddest thing about what we do is, is how easy it is. I barely lift a finger. You wanna ruin a man? Show him what's really in his heart. The seeds of Destruction, Lust, Insecurity, Violence, Obsession. People like to imagine they are seeing demons, but the real demons, we know better.
--Grant Show, Point Pleasant, “The Lonely Hunter”

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hey, I Remember This Show: Dexter

Yes, it's not an old show so there is no great feat in my remembering it.

But its opening credits are worth watching if for no other reason than how adeptly they illustrate the principle that anything -- and I mean anything -- can be creepy if it is filmed with enough imagination.

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A Message to Jessica


Watch out, Jessica.

It's no good moving out to the middle of nowhere, Jessica.

And it's no good dealing with those old country folk, Jessica, especially if they have a problem with you and your husband arriving in town in a hearse.

Haven't they ever seen Harold and Maude, Jessica?

Anyway, this town may seem like a nice quiet place, Jessica, but everyone knows there's no such thing in a horror movie.

What's that you say, Jessica?

You have no idea you're in a horror movie?

Keep thinking those good thoughts, Jessica. I'm sure the fact that you appear in a 1971 movie entitled Let's Scare Jessica to Death is just some bizarre coincidence.

And watch out for that mysterious Woman in White (played by Gretchen Corbett). Yes, she's played by the same woman who would later play Beth Davenport on The Rockford Files but that's not why she's creepy, Jessica.

And don't share too much with that husband of yours. Ever since you had that breakdown of yours, he must think you're crazy.

And who wouldn't be, with the type of things that goes on in this movie?

Wait? You say this isn't a movie?

And that you're just imagining this whole conversation the same way you have imagined so much else.

You just keep telling yourself that, Jessica.

And watch out for redheads...

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Random Thoughts

Almost any place can look exotic if you view at night from a hotel room that's high enough above the ground.

Is it wrong of me to breathe a sigh of relief every time I meet someone who doesn't need to be told how to pronounce my real-life Spanish first name?

People who don't find other people interesting usually aren't as interesting as they think they are.

The more expensive newspapers get, the fewer number of people who buy them which in return inspires newspaper publishers to spend less money on the type of people who fill the paper with the material that people want to read. Which, of course, results in even fewer people buying newspapers which in turn inspires newspaper publishers to raise their prices to compensate. And so it goes.

The only activity more dangerous to your pocketbook than taking certain women to a jewelry store is taking the same type of women to a pet store.

If you wish to know what status there is to be gained by wearing a suit in modern society, talk to someone who knows what it's like to work at a job in which one does not wear a suit.

The type of people who would not be impressed by the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls usually aren't worth impressing.

Few writers experience as much danger or hardship on the job as the average factory worker. But one would never know that from the way many writers talk.

Anyone else wonder how many of the people who like to kvetch about American puritanism ever wonder about the number of condom stores that exist in this allegedly puritanical country? Or should I consider it a symbol of American prudishness that such stores are so often called "condom stores" despite the large number of items they sell that obviously aren't condoms?

It's funny how often the injustices that most anger people are usually things that either happened long ago, things that happened far away or things that are committed by people whom we consider to be way different from us. Perhaps because getting angry about injustices committed by people like us that we actually have the opportunity to change is way too easy.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “Hush”

One of my favorite episodes of this show. I could say more but I suspect the most apt comment I could make would be something like

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

The X-Files: “Ghost in the Machine”

As the son of a computer programmer, I should hate this episode if for no other reason than that there has been so many movies and TV shows promoting the myth of the “evil” computer that it is hard to see the reason for yet one more. And yet I am kinda fond of this episode. Perhaps it is because it is one of the first episodes I saw after The X-Files was released on an affordable DVD, or the fact that I liked the irony of watching an episode about evil computers after working all day on a job that required me to work with computers. Or maybe I am just saying I like it because I am afraid my own PC will not take it too kindly if I show too much contempt for the idea of a computer that can successfully defy the commands of a human master.

It is not a perfect episode -- I must confess I was a bit puzzled as to how one character escaped from a situation that promised almost certain death* -- but it lingers in the memory in a pleasing manner.

Plus it seems like a prelude to one of my favorite X-Files episodes. But more about that at a future date.

* And no, I'm not disappointed that said character wasn't killed. I just wish the escape from death wasn't depicted in such an arbitrary “oh, no, she's in trouble -- no, wait, she's not” manner.

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

The X-Files: “Space”

The eeriest thing about watching first season X-Files episodes: seeing how young Gillian Anderson looked back then. Granted, she looks a bit older toward the end of the season when her hair was longer. But still... Where does the time go?

This episode is hardly one of the better episodes if for no other reason that it solves its main problem (a heroic astronaut is possessed by an alien who is intent on sabotaging the U.S. space program) way too easily. After all, the episode spends half its time establishing that the alien has superhuman abilities yet it is destroyed in a surprisingly simple fashion -- almost as if writer Chris Carter could not think of anything else to do. Plus there is a rather tasteless attempt to connect this episode's fictional plot with real-life space disasters like the Challenger explosion. Granted, conspiracy theories are always fun, but it is hard to imagine today's viewers being all that patient with a show that depicted, say, the 9/11 attack as being the work of alien saboteurs.

But David Duchovny (the guy who plays FBI agent Fox Mulder) has a cool way with a line and Ms. Anderson (the woman who plays his partner Dana Scully) is always nice to look at. Plus there are far better episodes yet to come -- which is why the show lasted as long as it did.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Cuento de Mi Id


Victor cradled the dueling pistol he held under his cloak and prayed that his drunken informant’s information was correct. It had taken him four years to track his quarry down to this deserted Argentine back street -- years in which he had often been tempted to forcibly reunite himself with his long-lost Elizabeth by means of a single pistol shot. But such romantic gestures would not help avenge his beloved. Only bloodshed would suffice.

The creature responsible for her death should have died in the same fire Victor had set to destroy the mate the creature had forced Victor to make for him. Instead, the creature had escaped -- and so had his mate, if his informant was correct. Victor had heard talk in the cantina about a mysterious pale man who lived in town with a tall, black-haired European woman. That woman could only be the mate Victor had created for his creation -- and the mysterious pale man could only be the creature. Somehow they had survived the same fire which had claimed his beloved Elizabeth.

Victor had cursed the vagaries of fate when he first heard this. Yet he now rejoiced that the rumors he had heard in Europe had been correct. The creature was in South America. And no doubt preparing to sire that race of monsters that had rampaged through Victor’s nightmares prior to the lab fire.

Victor had paid his informant well for the address of the mysterious European. The address was a house in a bad area of town. Victor had no illusions about surviving his confrontation with the creature -- but if he could take the creature with him…

He knocked on the front door of the house mentioned by his informant. A woman answered. Victor had no time to take in more than a general impression -- black hair, smiling face, bulging belly -- when the creature appeared. He was bigger than Victor remembered. Fiercer too. Victor had just enough time to pull out his pistol and get off a single shot before the monster was upon him.

With a hamhock-sized hand, the creature forced Victor to drop his gun. With an iron-hard fist, he forced Victor to his knees. The creature was beginning to throttle him -- but it was too late. Victor’s bullet had already found its mark. The monster’s mate -- the long-lost Elizabeth -- was dead, her degradation at the creature’s hands finally avenged.

There would be no race of monsters born of his creation, Victor thought as darkness began to swim before his eyes. Then he heard an infant cry within the house. And everything grew black.

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Fantasy Quotes of the Week

Kelley Armstrong, Bitten
David Barbour and Richard Raleigh, Shadows Bend: A Novel of the Fantastic and Unspeakable
Ray Bradbury, The October Country
John Brunner, “Imprint of Chaos”
Jim Butcher, Changes
Les Daniels, The Black Castle
Esther Friesner, “Auntie Elspeth's Halloween Story or the Gourd, the Bad, and the Ugly”
Esther Friesner, Harlot's Ruse
Neil Gaiman, “Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves of the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire”
Neil Gaiman, “The Goldfish Pond and Other Stories”
Simon R. Green, Drinking Midnight Wine
Simon R. Green, Drinking Midnight Wine
Simon R. Green, Paths Not Taken
Charlaine Harris, Deadlocked
Stephen King, The Stand
Fritz Leiber, “Smoke Ghost”
H. P. Lovecraft, “The Festival”
Richard Matheson, I Am Legend
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
Edgar Allan Poe, “Ulalume”
Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
William Mark Simmons, The Woman of His Dreams
Karl Edward Wagner, “Sing a Last Song of Valdese”
F. Paul Wilson, Nightworld
Gene Wolfe, “The Detective of Dreams”
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, The Godforsaken
Roger Zelazny, “But Not the Herald”

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Hey, I Remember This Show

Adventures of Superman
All in the Family
Big Love
Bridget Loves Bernie
Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels
Charlie's Angels
Daniel Boone
Dark Shadows
Davey and Goliath
Designing Women
Desperate Housewives
Diff'rent Strokes
Doctor Who (The Second Series, Season Four)
Due South
Eight Is Enough
F Troop
Family Affair
Fantastic Voyage
George of the Jungle
Golden Girls
Groovie Goolies
Hawaii Five-O
Here Come the Brides
Here Comes the Grump
I Love Lucy
I Married Dora
I Spy
Jack of All Trades
Joan of Arcadia
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Knight Rider
K-9 and Company
Kolchak: The Night Stalker
Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp
Leave It to Beaver
Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har
Love, American Style
Miami Vice
Milton the Monster
Mission: Impossible
Mister Magoo
Night Gallery
Northern Exposure
Off to See the Wizard
Petticoat Junction
Point Pleasant
Pushing Daisies
Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)
Red Dwarf
Remington Steele
Rescue Me
Room 222
Run for Your Life
Ryan's Hope
Scooby Doo, Where Are You!
She-Wolf of London
Sinbad Jr. and His Magic Belt
Six Feet Under
Star Trek
Super Chicken
The Addams Family
The Adventures of Gulliver
The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends
The Alvin Show (1961)
The Avengers
The Brady Bunch
The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour
The Cisco Kid
The Feather and Father Gang
The Flying Nun
The Green Hornet
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries
The Honeymooners
The Jetsons
The Lone Ranger (1966)
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The Mighty Hercules
The Munsters
The Muppet Show
The NBC Mystery Movie
The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The New Adventures of Superman (1966)
The New Avengers
The Paper Chase
The Partridge Family
The Patty Duke Show
The Perils of Penelope Pitstop
The Pink Panther Show
The Prisoner
The Saint
The Thin Blue Line
The Twilight Zone
The West Wing
Tobor the 8th Man
Veronica Mars
Wonder Woman
Yes Minister
Yogi Bear

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Movie Song of the Week: “Tears to Shed”

From 2005's Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, it's one of the oddest songs to ever appear on a Disney soundtrack.

I've always had a soft spot in my heart -- and no doubt in my head -- for this film even though it is not very popular with other critics. Yes, there are bits where Burton tries way too hard to imitate his previous success with Nightmare Before Christmas but in spite of that, the film had a certain something that I don't find in much of its competition. For nothing else, Burton deserves credit for having the chutzpah to make a film based on such an odd subject.

Plus I actually like this song -- and have sung along with it far more better than perhaps I should. In some ways, I identify with Emily, the movie character who sings this song. In other ways, I identify with Victoria, her romantic "rival." Oddly enough, I have never identified that much with Victor, the object of both characters' affections, but that, alas, is a subject for another day.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy it -- and that ye gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Because you would not want to end up like poor Emily.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Hey, I Remember This Show: Dark Shadows

My babysitter used to watch this show during its first run when I was a child. I still remember being haunted by one scene in which a woman seemed to be melting into nothing against a background of fire but I suspect my childhood imagination took that scene out of context. Then later on when I was a teenager, a local TV station showed reruns of it and I got hooked again.

It's a bit slow by modern standards, but when I was a kid, this show was the closest thing we had to Buffy or Angel. I even remember having a crush as a teenager on Alexandra Moltke, the woman who played the governess Victoria Winters. But that was a long, long time ago.

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Movie Quote of the Week

Live people ignore the strange and unusual. I myself am... strange and unusual.
--Winona Ryder, Beetlejuice (1988)

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TV Quote of the Week

Ah, you got to love this place. Every day it's like Halloween.
--David Duchovny, The X-Files, “Pilot”

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

The Office (U.S.): “Company Picnic”

Boss man Michael Scott proves to be the very last person one would want to announce a company layoff and Pam and Jim (the Dawn and Tim of the American version of The Office) get to act out a more positive version of a scene from the movie Up.

As much as I love the Pam and Jim characters on this show, I must admit that I have a hard time rewatching this episode in light of recent events.

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Pushing Daisies: “Dummy”

Yet another show in which Kristen Chenoweth sings. Only this time she sings a song from the movie Grease.

Plus actress Ellen Greene is in the cast too and I'm willing to bet she sings on this show too. Only not on this episode.

The series itself is unfortunately over now but it's still fondly remembered even by people like me who did not expect to get all that attached to it. And no, Ms. Chenoweth is not the only reason I fell in love with this series, but her presence most definitely does not hurt.

And oh, yes, the show revolves around a guy who can bring the dead back to life and who uses that power to help solve mysteries. Plus, he revives his dead girlfriend. The premise, incidentally, comes across a lot better on screen than it sounds on the printed page.

Gee, I miss this show.

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Glee: “The Rhodes Not Taken”

Kristin Chenoweth sings.

Not only that, but she also sings one of my favorite songs from Cabaret.

That alone is reason enough to watch this episode.

Also, some other stuff happens but I don't really want to get into that right now.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Trailer of the Week: Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

Don't just sit there. Go see a movie.

Preferably a chick this:

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Fantasy Quote of the Week

You know, in my day when we asked for a Halloween story we wanted to be scared spitless. And we all dressed up like ghosts and ghouls and goblins because we wanted to scare all the other kids so bad they’d walk home with their shoes squishing. At least tell me that hasn’t changed.
--Esther Friesner, “Auntie Elspeth’s Halloween Story or the Gourd, The Bad, and the Ugly”

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Cuento de Mi Id


(Not to be confused with the Patrick Swayze movie of the same name, of course.)

There is a ghost in your attic. You know this because your older sister Lupe has told you so.

But your mother does not believe in ghosts and you‘re not sure you should, either.

But Lupe just smiles. “Go to the attic tonight,” she says, “and you’ll see a ghost, all right. I guarantee it.”

So you go.

You set your clock for midnight and wake up before anyone else in the house hears it. Then you put on your slippers and creep up the attic stairs.

Suppose there’s nothing up there, you think.

Then what?

In spite of yourself, you feel disappointed at the thought that there might not be a ghost up there.

You find yourself praying that you will find a ghost up there and yet you pray that you won’t.

As long as it doesn’t hurt me, you say to yourself, it doesn’t really matter either way. But in your heart of hearts, you know you lie.

You are almost at the attic door now.

Your hand is on the glass knob.

Still not too late to return to the safety of your bed, but you don’t.

Then you see it.

The ghost.

It lies suspended from a rope tied to a ceiling beam.

And then it turns around to greet you.

Too late you recognize its features.

Then you run downstairs and hide yourself in the safety of your bed.

The next day, of course, Lupe does not show up for breakfast.

Your mother mutters something about ungrateful children wasting food but you stay silent.

You still stay silent after your father goes upstairs to fetch something from the attic.

Once the screaming starts, you begin to wish that you really had seen a ghost.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Book of the Week

It's the forty-third anniversary of the Fermi I accident and for some bizarre reason, I find myself in a mood to read this.

As if I don't already get enough bad news.

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Nonsequential Links VIII

Here we go again. (My comments, of course, are in parentheses.)

But I don’t know what other reason there can be for anyone to suggest that a man who raped a child and has been on the run for decades to avoid being punished for it should go free. (I'm glad that MaryAnn wrote this and so sad that she had to write it.)

I swear, these people would cheer if Obama ordered a pepperoni pizza and the pizzeria sent him a mushroom pizza by mistake. (Apparently, Lynn of Violins and Starships linked to this link too. Great minds, yadda yadda yadda...)

You'd think that with newspaper subscriptions on the decline, they would be extra careful to take care of the long-term subscribers they do have and not do things to give them excuses to quit subscribing. (You'd think so, right?)

Facebook, my foot. This is about Hollywood's greed and lack of imagination.

Woody, you're a putz for signing that stupid petition - but everybody should lay off your family.

If even middle-class, professional Americans can't afford to have children in 2016, I have two questions. A.) How can we shower the blessings of liberty on our posterity? And B.) Who's going to grow up, join the U.S. Army and fight all those godless Muslim, socialist countries?

After cloistering himself to bring dead flesh to life, Victor Frankenstein condemns his creature to loneliness. The creature does the same to him in revenge. Solitude makes monsters of both. (Well, it is getting close to Halloween.)

Sometimes I say straight up, Rican. Sometimes I say Latina. Pero I never, ever say “American”, at least not the way people want me to say it.

We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts' Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say "I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush." (Heh.)


Saturday, October 03, 2009

Movie Song of the Week: “Examination”

I'm not sure there's an official title for this number from 1931's Flying High but it provides yet another good example of what Hollywood used to get away with before the Hays Code. And as you might guess, choreographer Busby Berkeley staged the dances for this movie so I wouldn't be surprised to find out that this sketch/number/whatever-it-is was one of his ideas too.

This time, we see a 1930s take on health care. And by the way, that's Charles Winninger from Night Nurse playing the doctor.

I hope you all enjoy it -- even if the humor seems a bit dated.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Pop Song of the Week: “Wuthering Heights”

Because one can never get enough of Kate Bush. Plus this is one of my favorite songs by her. And I happen to like women in red dresses.

Besides, the novel has been on my mind a lot this week for some reason.

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Movie Quote of the Week

There are no secrets between my brother and I. None.
--Martine Beswick, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971)

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TV Quote of the Week

We only see two things in people. What we want to see and what they want to show us.
--James Remar, Dexter, “Si Se Puede”

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Cuento de Mi Id

“The Separation”

“I’m sure glad my parents aren’t divorced,” said Timmy.

David ignored him, intent on the toy soldiers.

In the next room, his mom cradled the phone like an expectant lover. “No, I haven’t heard from him in months. No child support, either. Just like the bum.”

Mom had worked hard since Dad left. First as a secretary, then as a bookkeeper. Eventually she became a C.P.A. Otherwise, she spent almost all her spare time in the garden.

“No, I don’t intend to sell the house,” she said to her friend. “Just because Doug shirked his responsibilities doesn’t mean I’m going to.”

One afternoon last week, Dad had showed up at the patio door, looking very pale. David had ran to let him in, but he was gone by the time he got there. David had then went outside, but no one was there.

Later that same day, he had told Mom. She turned pale.

“What did he say?” she had said.

“Nothing.” David had told her. “He just looked sad.”

The next time he mentioned it, Mom bawled him out for lying.

“Don’t you believe me?” said David.

“David, your father left for good,” she said. “He’s not coming back. You have to believe that.”

“Then why does he keep showing up?”

One night, Dad came to the window. He beckoned to him.

David followed him outside to the garden. Dad handed him a garden trowel and told him to start digging.

David didn’t want to. He would be destroying Mom’s favorite spot. But Dad insisted.

A few feet down, David came across a hand bearing Dad’s ring.

He looked up, but Dad was not there.


“They‘re really quiet in the morning and always trying to outstare each other,” said Timmy of his parents. “But at least they‘re not talking divorce. I can‘t imagine anything worse than that.”

“I can,” said David quietly.

He said nothing more.

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