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Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Lonely View of Movies

Am I the only person who thinks most trailers are better than the movies themselves?
Am I the only person who says this time I'm not going to buy popcorn, and then buy it as soon as I smell it?
Am I the only person who thinks there is too much action in action movies?
Am I the only person who thinks Ashley is not worth all that bother?
Am I the only person who sits in an empty theater, only to have a man with a chronic cough sit down directly behind me?
Am I the only person who enjoys the snack food/please be quiet film at the beginning of the show?
Am I the only movie-goer that hated Avatar?
Am I the only person who fell asleep at a Harry Potter movie?
Am I the only person who sees that Hollywood would make a ton of money if they just started re-releasing movies like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly every week?
Am I the only person who watched The Passion of the Christ while some idiot behind me explained the movie to his lady-friend, mostly with explanations that were wrong?
Am I the only person that likes to read many of the technical credits even though I don't know one person who works in Hollywood?
Am I the only person who realizes that most of the numbskulls around me at the theater don't have a clue what's going on in the movie?
Am I the only man who thinks Glynnis Johns is sexy?
Am I the only person who watches fight scenes that occur in people's homes and cringe at the thought of all that home repair work that will need to be paid for and completed?
Am I the only person who thinks Elliot should have handed ET over to the authorities?
Am I the only person who thinks eating nachos at a theater is a no-no?
Am I the only father who teared up when his kids got the chance to see Casablanca on the big screen?
Am I the only person who gave up seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night to see The Lady from Shanghai in a little Parisian theater?
Am I the only person who has never double-dipped for a second, free movie at the multi-plex?
Am I the only person who remembers seeing The Sting with his parents when he was only three years old?
Am I the only movie-goer who still wants a refund for that Tom Selleck debacle Folks?
Am I the only man who thinks Angelina Jolie is not hot?
Am I the only person who thinks 80's synthesizer movie-scores were really cool?
Am I the only person who is glad Peter Jackson changed Glorfindel to Arwen for Frodo's rescue at the Ford of Bruinen?
Am I the only person who never liked jujubes?
Am I the only person who has watched a movie from the first row in the seat farthest to the left?
Am I the only person who thought The Boatniks was a great movie?
Am I the only person who thinks Moonraker should be stricken from the James Bond collective memory?
Am I the only person who misses the scratchy needle-on-a-record sound that preceded the beginning of movies before digital ruined everything with its perfect sound?
Am I the only person who wishes he could quit his job, buy an old theater, and play classic movies as a career?
Am I the only person who recasts movies in his mind even as he's watching them, even if he likes the actors in it?
Am I the only person who suddenly wants to go to a theater near me?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Paris View of Notre Dame Finale

   I hope you enjoyed this series on Notre Dame Cathedral. I will close it out with a few parting shots of the exterior. And make no mistake, if you are ever in Paris, you cannot pass up this site.  (And be sure to see it at night, as well!)
  The photographs shown from the top of the bell tower were shot from the tower on the left, which is the south tower (sort of).  You can see the fencing that runs around the top.  The south rose window dates from about 1260 AD.

  If you look closely you'll notice that one of the statues at the base of the steeple has a little High Anxiety: he (or she?) has turned around and has put a hand to his head to try and regain his balance.
  Here you can see the famous flying buttresses.  The steeple was added during the Violett-le-Duc restoration.
  A nice view of the cathedral from the southeastern end of the island.  It was a beautiful day for photographing this magnificent place of worship.
  Here you can see the actual gargoyles of Notre Dame, along the north wall.  The day we stood in line to climb the tower, these darlings were 'drooling' from the light rain accumulating in the gutters.
A look at the facade as well as the Charlemagne Statue.  The pigeons love this guy.

If you are interested in a High Resolution copy of any of these photographs from this series, please let me know.  I will make them available as requested.  (And at no charge.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Paris View of Notre Dame (Part Five)

  Having taken an exterior look at the facade and towers of Notre Dame Cathedral, it is time to step inside.  Remove your hat, keep your voice low, and please remember that while this is a world famous tourist site, it is also a place of worship.  (And no flash photography, if you please.)
  Unlike Sacre Coeur Basilica, Notre Dame Cathedral allows visitors to take photographs while viewing the interior.  So I am able to add these pictures to our tour, and I hope you enjoy them.
  The first view here is looking back from the chancel over the nave.  The congregation sits in the nave, and so they majority of the faithful do not see this view during a service.  The height of these thin walls is the reason Notre Dame is one of the first buildings in the world to use flying buttresses.  Stress fractures began to appear as the walls were built ever higher.  The exterior supports were added and this improvisation seems to have done the trick.  The walls have stood for over eight hundred years.

  Though made of stone, these walls have a delicate appearance, honeycombed with such graceful arches and bursting with sunlight.
  The nave itself is not very big, but this overhead space made it feel like you could have seated the whole of Paris within it.
  Construction began on the cathedral in 1163.  It would not be completed until 1345.  I think anyone who has been through a construction project knows how these things can drag out.  During this construction period, in 1185, the call for the Third Crusade was made from here.
  Here we are looking from the ambulatory, which circles around the apse, into the apse and chancel, from which the service is conducted.  It was here that Napoleon famously snatched the crown away from Pope Pius the VII and crowned himself Emperor during his 1804 coronation.  Here also, Mary Queen of Scots was married to Francis, the Dauphin in 1558.  Actually, quite a few English and French Royals were wed here.

  Here we can see left side of the transept, and the pipes for the organ, some of which were installed in the 18th century.  This stained-glass window is the lesser known of Notre Dames' famous Rose windows.

  This odd little scene can be found in a chapel off the southeast side of the ambulatory.  I did not see any sign that would explain who this was or what was happening, and so I would love to hear from any reader who might know the story here.  As a protestant, growing up in the Bible Belt, I have to admit I never would have expected to see something like this in our sanctuary.  It certainly gets your attention.

  This view is what parishioners would see as they sit in the nave and raise their eyes in prayer.  It is a most beautiful sight, and certainly does its job, which is to encourage the faithful to raise their eyes to heaven.
  The cathedral is nearing its 850th birthday.  We were thrilled to be able to visit and share in the wonders of this amazing historical and spiritual site.  There is no charge for the visit, unless you wish to climb the tower or tour the Treasury and Crypt.

  Our last look at Notre Dame will be a final exterior view of the cathedral in our next post.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Paris View of Notre Dame (Part Four)

  The west facade of Notre Dame Cathedral is an image that many people will recognize.  This iconic view is almost always shown from a long view.  What surprised me when I first came upon the cathedral, was the intricate work around the entrance.  It was staggering.  I wanted to give readers a chance to see some of the details up close.

  First off, you can see this row of Kings, which is above the doors, covering the entire width of the facade.  During the Revolution, these Kings were beheaded, and the heads were thought to be lost.  There was a mistaken belief among the rabble that these were representations of French Kings, when in fact they were Kings of Israel.
  Many of these heads were found in a basement nearby the cathedral in 1977.  Someone had carefully buried them, laid out in rows, to preserve them.  The heads you see in the picture are reproductions, done during the 19th century restoration.
  Here is a detail of a group of figures on the left side of the left portal.  What stands out here is the second figure on the right, who is holding his own head.  This is Saint Denis, the patron saint of Paris, who was beheaded on Montmartre by pagan priests in 250 AD who were not happy that he was converting the locals.  A legend is told of Denis, after his beheading: he picked up his head and walked ten miles, preaching to all who he encountered.  What I find touching about this scene are the angels ministering to him.

  Above the central portal you can see this arch, heavily decorated with multiple figures.  While the image of Jesus in the center is impressive, I was amazed to see the host around him.  I was more than amazed; I was baffled by many of them.

  The source of my bafflement can be see in this closer photograph.  There seems to be demon-imps or something like them all over.  I'm not sure what the purpose is here.  Seen as a whole, standing in front of it, this cacophonous scene is breathtaking.  I can't begin to imagine how much time and effort this kind of thing takes.

  One more detail for today.  I like the relaxed posture of this character.  I have not been able to find any information on him/her.  What also catches my eye is the little imp down in the left corner.  He is definitely up to something.

Monday, July 16, 2012

My Notre Dame View of Paris (Part Three)

As promised, today's post is a closer look at the Gallery of Chimeras, as designed by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, architect in charge of the cathedral's restoration which began in 1845 and lasted twenty-five years.  Most of the original grotesques (also called chimeras) were too far gone to restore, and so they were removed, and Viollet-le-Duc, along with Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus,  designed new ones. 
 Grotesques are not gargoyles, though most people associate the one with the other.  A gargoyle is the spout of a water gutter that has been carved to resemble a creature of some sort.  Grotesques are simple sculpted images on buildings, usually of a macabre nature.
 What I like about this odd fellow is his hood, which seems downright insulting to any monks or priests associated with the cathedral.  Perhaps they did not put two and two together, or had a sense of humor.  Either way, this evil-looking bird, with his large, searching eyes, is effectively unnerving.
   I have posted other pictures of Le Stryge before, so I thought I would pull back a little and let you see him with his constant companion, the hungry eagle.  How sad that they never get the chance to look off to their right at Sacre Couer.  If they could have turned their heads, they would have been able to see Montmartre's famous basilica being built only a few years after they were created.  What a sight that must have been.
 I love this one in the center.  He is worn down to the point that he must look even more menacing than when he was first created.  The moss adds to his queer look.  These creatures are in between the two towers, and cannot be seen unless you climb the spiral, stone steps below the north tower to reach the gallery.  I was delighted to find them.
   Here is a better view of them.  As you can see, they have a companion who resembles a wizard from a Tolkien novel, albeit with a hat that could almost double as a construction workers hardhat.  This figure took me by surprise, when I was still under the impression that these chimeras were much older.  He looked far too modern to me.  It does indeed look like a character out of an illustrated 19th century children's fantasy book.
   Across from the creatures in the above photograph sit these fellas.  A rather angry looking elephant who has lost his trunk, griffins, and some sort of dog, who has been so worn by the elements, that he now resembles a hell hound from a nightmare.  A faceless dog such as this would be terrifying, not matter that he could not bite you.  It would just be disturbing beyond measure.
  The last shot here gives you a courtyard view of Le Stryge and his buddies from the front of the cathedral.  They sit at the base of the north tower, somewhere around one-hundred-twenty to one-hundred-fifty feet off the ground.  Here you can see the difference between the grotesques on the railing and the gargoyle in the center, which has an open mouth and spews out the collected rain.

  And here you can see what it looks like from their point of view.  I think this scrawny little dude might have one of the best views, though Le Stryge is fortunate enough to have a clean line of sight at the Eiffel Tower, and so he was able to see it erected nearly forty years after he took his perch.  But from here, our malnourished friend can gaze down upon all the visitors, year round, always perfectly posed for all those cameras.
  I have already addressed the speculations regarding the appropriateness of such disturbing images upon a cathedral in an earlier post about gargoyles, so I won't revisit that discussion, except to say that if you remember the series of Chick Cartoon Tracts and their comic book series The Crusaders, you'll know that the Church has used this type of imagery to raise the awareness of evil in other applications, and so this might not be as odd as you think.  However, I doubt you will ever see such grotesques on the facade of the latest mega-church in America any time soon.

For a more detailed study of these odd, fascinating creatures, check out Michael Camille's book: The Gargoyles of Notre Dame.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Notre Dame View of Paris (Part Two)

  For our second look at Paris from Notre Dame we will climb a little higher.  The following photographs were taken from the top of the south tower.  In this photo you can see it, ringed with a safety fence for all of those people who have trouble staying upright on a parapet.  In fact, it was very windy that day and the safety fence was not a bad idea.
  The towers stand 226 feet above the square, housing five bells.  Its biggest bell, Emmanuel, is used to mark the hours of the day.  It was also rung to announce the liberation of the city from the Nazis in the middle of the night.
  Facing west, you can see the towers of Saint-Sulpice on the left, which means our apartment was just off to the right of them.  The steeple from Saint-Germain-des-Pres is in the middle, just below the golden dome of les Invalides.  The foreground is the Latin Quarter.

  Here we see Saint-Sulpice on the right now, with a great view of the Sorbonne University on the left.  (The dome with the vertical stripes of green copper is the University's Observatory.)  At top center, you can see the controversial Montparnasse Tower, which is controversial for obvious reasons.  Though there is talk of tearing it down, I came to sort of like it there.  Yes, it makes no sense, but it is unique, and is an easy landmark to use for navigation when out walking.
  In the center you can see two cathedrals: on the right, the bigger one is the 15th century Saint-Severin, on its left is the smaller Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre from the 13th century.  In the Square below it, called Rene Viviani, you can just make out the oldest tree in Paris.  A locust tree, it was planted in 1602, and can be seen on the side of the church, with open gravel to its left.  Across the street from the square, on the right, is the famous Shakespeare and Company, an English language bookstore opened after WWII.  Though not the original one run by Sylvia Beach (made famous by her customers Hemingway and Joyce) it is an enduring symbol of English writers in Paris to this day.
Still on the south side of the tower, you can see the commanding dome of the Pantheon, where Voltaire, Rousseau, Hugo, Zola, and Dumas the Elder are entombed.  This is the heart of the student neighborhoods.  The Latin Quarter earned its name from all the students in the area, centuries ago, always in the cafes, discussing and arguing the day away, in their lingua franca, Latin.
  To the left of the Pantheon, you can see Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, built in the 16th century, where you can find the tomb of Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris.  Blaise Pascal is also buried there.  Movie fans will recognize the steps on one corner of the church, where Gil Pender, Owen Wilson's character in Midnight in Paris finds a magical portal to 1920's Paris.
  This back view of the cathedral looks down over the smaller island Ile Saint-Louis, an early example of urban planning, where Henry IV (and continued by Louis XIII) took an old cattle pasture and planned every inch of it as a new sub-division.  It is now one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Paris.
  On the left you can see Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais.  Though the present building was erected in the 16th century, the earliest mention of the church itself comes from the 5th century.  Sadly, in 1918, a shell from the infamous German "Paris Gun" (which had a range of 81 miles), hit the church during a Good Friday service, killing 88 worshipers.
  The Seine, as seen here, is traversed by the Pont Louis-Phillipe, built in the 1830s by France last King, Louis-Phillipe the First (and last).  The present bridge was built in 1860.
  Next we'll climb back down to the Gallery of Chimeras for a closer look at the oddballs gathered on the balcony.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Notre Dame View of Paris (Part One)

  Over the course of the next week, I'd like to offer a tour of Notre Dame Cathedral.  While Paris has an incredible number of cathedrals, churches, and chapels, Notre Dame is at the geographical center (in the open square there is a star pinpointing the center of Paris, though I did not find it), the historical center, and the cultural heart of Paris.  Situated on Ile de la Cite, the largest island in Paris on the Seine, it is a part of the original city proper.
  In this post, I'd like to share the extraordinary western view as seen from the upper level of the cathedral, the Gallery of Chimeras, which is at the midway point of the cathedral, and the base of the two towers.  The gallery, with its statues, was part of the restoration from the mid-1800s, as designed by Eugene Viollet-Le-Duc.
  To begin, you can see the left branch of the Seine flowing northwest between the Ile de la Cite and the Left Bank.  The bridge in the center of the photograph is the Pont Saint-Michel.  Just to the left of it, if you click on the photo and look closely, you'll see blue awnings at the corner of the buildings just under the trees.  This is the souvenir shop where Jennifer made friends with Roger, who runs the register.
  Of course you can see the Eiffel Tower, as well as a corner tower of the Prefecture of Police at center right.  The brooding winged figure in the photo is a chimera, not a gargoyle.  Thought they are usually called gargoyles, this name should only be applied to figures which are the termination point for water spouts.
  In this broader shot, you can see the tower of Saint-Severin (on the left, as if the bird is about to bite off the tip of it), the tops of the Saint-Sulpice towers (sticking out of the bent chimera's back), the golden-domed Les Invalides (site of Napolean's tomb), Saint-Germain-des-Pres tower immediately next to it, the Eiffel Tower, and off to the right, the skyline of La Defense, which is the modern business district.
  In the center of the photo you can see the Petit Pont.  This odd little bridge is only one hundred and sixty years old.  However, a bridge has been on the spot since Roman times, but 13 times the bridge had been destroyed by floods, due to the narrowing of the river at this point.  In one instance, back in the 1700's, a woman looking for her drowned child's body, accidentally set a hay barge on fire directly beneath the bridge, burning it down.
  In this shot of the Ile de la Cite, you can see the spire of Saint-Chappelle, which is surrounded by the Palace of Justice.  You can barely see the Conciergerie, famous site of Marie Antoinette's prison cell next to the dome of the Greffe du Tribunal de Paris, which is a grand way of saying the Paris Clerk of Commerce Courts.  This dome is off-set on top of the building so that the Boulevard de Sebastopol has a visual focus at its termination point.  This is very important in Paris street planning.  There should be prominent landmark views at the end of each major thoroughfare.  Oddly, the Boulevard was rerouted to one-way traffic going the opposite direction, so that now no driver can appreciate this view.
  Beyond the immediate buildings on the island, you can just make out the Louvre to the right of Saint-Chappelle.  At far right you can see Saint-Eustache Eglise.  L'Hotel Dieu, a hospital, is in the foreground.
  Finally, completing the view, you can see Le Basilica du Sacre Coeur atop Montmartre, behind that rascal Le Stryge.  On the right you can see the magnificent Saint-Jacques Tower, which is all that remains of the 16th century Church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie (which is the unlikely name St. James of the Butchery) which was destroyed after the French Revolution.  I will be posting pictures of it later this year.  A masterpiece of art of which few people are aware.
  If we look at Le Stryge's eye, then shift your own eye an inch to the left, you'll see the arches of the Theatre de Chatelet, which faces Place du Chatelet at the Pont au Change.  It was here that Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days played for 2195 performances, the first of which was in 1876, and only closed in May of 1940 due to the Nazi Occupation.  Though not consecutively, it ran a total of 64 years.

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Lonely View of Books

Am I the only one who loves to check the local bookstore to see if they are carrying copies of new editions of old classics, and then gets excited to find one?
Am I the only one who measures what he has read in a book by fractions, always revising it as I go along?
Am I the only one who sits in front of a bookshelf full of books I've read and reads over the titles, remembering each one, recalling scenes and characters from them as if they were old friends?
Am I the only one who reads two or three books at the same time?
Am I the only one who loves to start a new book, hoping it will last as long as possible, then rushes to reach the end as soon as possible?
Am I the only one who gets angry when he hears someone has skipped portions of a novel that did not seem important or were just passages of description?
Am I the only one who used to slowly walk the basement "stacks" at my father's seminary, enchanted by the musty smell, reading the titles of obscure books and periodicals?
Am I the only one who hates to throw books away, and keeps them, even if the book was so bad I stopped reading one-third of the way through it?
Am I the only one who loves to read so much it hurts to hear that other people hate to read and haven't read a book since High School?
Am I the only one who actually read every word of War and Peace, Moby Dick, Les Miserables, and The Brothers Karamazov voluntarily?
Am I the only one who wants to buy up all the editions of classic novels that I already own when I find them at the discount table of a bookstore?
Am I the only one who loves the Leatherstocking Tales, but wishes Cooper had come up with a better name than Natty Bumppo?
Am I the only one who misses the library check-out cards that listed who had checked out and read your book before you?
Am I the only one who, as a child, bought an old hardback copy of Oliver Wendall Holmes' The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table just because it sounded cool?
Am I the only one who reads all the title page information of a book, including copyrights, notes on fonts, and any and all publisher notes?
Am I the only one who uses a highlighter to mark the books I have read on the page that lists Other Books by the Author?
Am I the only one who carefully arranges books by author, then has to rearrange them once I've pulled them all out to look at them again?
Am I the only one who thinks these questions are not evidence of strange behavior but merely the behavior of a well-balanced mind that understands the importance of books in our lives?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

My View of Blogging (So Far)

  I have been blogging now for over ten months.  I am not the most consistent blogger.  I don't have time to sit at the keyboard every day and write an op-ed piece on the world at large.  I also refuse to write short bits, or just post a picture or video each day.  I like blogs like that, but I don't want to run one like that.  It just isn't me.  Now that I am beginning to pick up more readers, I thought I would offer a post on what I have learned so far about blogging.

  First of all, I am surprised to discover that for whatever reason, my readers do not post comments.  This is nearly universal.  No matter what subject I write about, no matter what pictures I post, people do not seem to want to respond with any kind of message.  I only find this odd when I look online at any sort of page and see people making the most banal comments on the most boring sights.  Go to and you'll see people comment on a plain weather report.  This will lead to discussion.  It will lead to hurt feelings.  (You think you got rain?  You wouldn't know rain if it hit you in your ear!)  I'm not joking.  People comment on movie reviews, obituaries, and sports scores.  And I'm not talking about Facebook comments.  Look at the bottom of YouTube videos.  There are lengthy talks about any number of silly things.  Yet no matter what I write about, most people just don't seem interested in saying anything about my posts.  Of the few comments I've ever seen, one of them was from a lady who asked me to fix the misspelling of her name.  That was an exciting exchange, I can tell you.
  I've decided there can only be a few reasons for this.  My kids have said that it must mean everyone agrees with me, hence no reason to contest any of the posts.  I wondered if they were right.  Perhaps it even means that I'm so spot on with everything I say, there is no point to add to what I say.
Now sometimes I see comments on Facebook, often not on my page but on my wife's page after she shares one of my posts.  Someone went so far as to tell my wife to tell me such and such about a post.  Now the only explanation I can think of to this revolves around what my wife calls my "murderous look".
Doesn't this smile make me look like
a six-year-old?
  According to said love-of-my-life, sometimes I have a murderous look.  This was told to me out of the blue one evening at a High School football game.  Now to be fair, I had just been standing in line to buy the food tickets that are needed so that you can stand in line at the food counter to buy the food with the tickets since cash is only accepted in the line where you buy tickets to buy the food that is not for sale if you only have cash.  (See?  You'd have a murderous look too if you had been subjected to such tom-foolery.)  So anyway, this murderous look of mine just might intimidate people into thinking they had better not make a comment on my blog.  Except I've been very careful not to post any pictures of me that reveal this psychotic side of mine.  (Though Jennifer did post a picture of me from Paris where she swears I am channeling Chuck Baudelaire, who always has a murderous look, or at least a look that tells us he is in intestinal disarray.)  Of the few photos of mine that I have posted to this blog, most of them have a neutral face.  I'm not big on smiling photos, since I have this fear that I look six-years-old when I display my teeth in a wide-mouth grin.  This is simply the consequences of being the youngest child in my family.  I still feel like a kid around my siblings.  I'm sure there's a pill you can take to counteract that now, and with the new Obamacare, I should be able to get a free prescription for it soon.  (Though this is said tongue-in-cheek, you can be sure I am not smiling.)  To get back to my point, I just want to say that I'm doing my best to appear approachable.  I'll try harder.  Maybe I could slouch a little.  Not make eye contact.  Would that help?
  Now the next idea I had involving reasons for the near complete lack of comments centers around my non-controversial approach.  I have been known, in the past, to be abrasive.  I have been told that I am messy, which is the southern way of telling a person he is an instigator.  We don't say instigator down here, since that would confuse fellow southerners who might think we were talking about someone who had been eaten by an alligator.  (You see, if you've been eaten by an alligator, you have instantly become a part of the...oh, never mind.)  In order to change this messy image I have, I have made it a priority to avoid confrontational material.  Frankly, there are too many bloggers and writers out there who are willing to stir the pot.  The Internet has spawned them like the spores from that Donald Sutherland remake of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  I just decided that the world (or the Internet) doesn't need another rancorous voice chattering like a lunatic.  I figured I'd keep things nice and easy.  Pleasant.  Uplifting.  But it appears that if I am going to get any one's attention, I may have to get a little more mean.  If I can't get comments and input from my readers with goodness, I'll consider the alternative: I might have to start picking on crippled kittens or something.  Well, maybe just fat ones.  I do have my standards.  Seriously, I could be the next Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh, but why would I want to do that?  As I've become older, I have just lost the desire to argue.
  Something else I have learned with this blog is that people all over the world have taken an interest in it.  I have had readers from every corner of the globe.  This is thrilling to be sure, but it is almost hard to believe.  According to the reports I get, people in Russia, Israel, Australia, Brazil, Japan, and many other countries too numerous to list are stopping by Room With No View to see what I've been posting.  Now some of these could be spammers, who's programs run automatically as they search the web for various nefarious reasons.  I'm not an expert on these things so I don't really know one way or the other.  What I do know is that it is a pretty cool thought that we have become so global that someone on the other side of the world can read my views on movies, books, or my latest trip.  I'm not joking when I say it adds a layer of responsibility to what I write.  I'm not just talking to my closest friends.  I'm talking to the world.  I find this makes me take greater care with what I say.
  I have to finish now, since I am about to head off into the early morning darkness to perform surgery on my car, which might be tricky, since I am not a mechanic.  I'll just have to rely on my extraordinarily brilliant mind to get it right.  (No comments, please.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Second View (and edition) of The Lazaretto

Today, the Kindle version of The Lazaretto hit the virtual bookshelves.  In our previous post about this novel, you met Gregor Lepov, a private investigator who arrives in the Lazaretto looking for a missing person.  In this post you will meet Detectives Ed MacNally and Arturo Fenelli.  Both men have spent many years together as partners in the homocide department of the Lazaretto Police.  The following scene is their debut scene, as they investigate a body that is found in the middle of Center City, early in the morning.
  For more of a preview, check out the preview feature at Amazon, where you can read the first six or seven chapters of the book.

(excerpt from The Lazaretto, by Jason Phillip Reeser)
  “You have to see this.”  Detective Arturo Fenelli stood behind the damaged TransitCar as if it were a shield.
  “Show me.”  Lieutenant Ed MacNally had just arrived.
  “It’s right on the other side of this wreck,” Fenelli said with a shake of his head.  “You look.  I’ve seen it already.”
   MacNally lowered his head and gave Fenelli a look that clearly meant you gotta be kidding.  He disappeared around the car.
   “You got a light?”
   "Oh, hell.”  Fenelli walked around to the other side of the wreck in resignation.  “Right here.”
   "Huh,” MacNally grunted after he shined the light on the body.  “Ain’t that disgusting?” MacNally’s tone made it clear he obviously did not find it disgusting.
   MacNally was a large man, with chiseled features that made his face look like granite.  He did not move gracefully; rather, he made short predetermined moves that always had a purpose.  He was overweight, but carried most of it above the belt.  This enabled him to move without appearing sluggish. 
   Fenelli was no Stanly Laurel to MacNally’s Oliver Hardy.  He carried ten to twenty pounds more than he should, but few people knew it.  His body spread his excess evenly making it difficult to detect.  But Fenelli knew it, and it slowed him down.  He was past forty now and he felt tired far more than he used to.
  “Health Services pulled in right behind you.  Davis is suiting up.  They told us not to get too close.”
  “You wanna get close to that?”  MacNally showed no intention of advancing, though he showed no desire to back off either.
  “I wanted to stay back over there.”  Fenelli jerked a thumb back towards the TransitCar.
  “What’s his PDT tell us?”
  “Says his name is Jack Ford.  A lazar from Phasis.”
   “That’s gotta be biological, this ain’t no murder.”
  “You don’t think he was beaten to death?”
  “Do you?” MacNally asked.
   Fenelli forced himself to look at the body again.  The body’s position made visual examination difficult.  From what he could see, the upper torso, including the upper arms and most of the head, were deeply bruised and grossly swollen.  The body—the man—had been wearing a business suit.  Where the flesh was swollen, it stretched the fabric, giving Fenelli the impression that the suit was a balloon filled with air.  From about the waist down, the suit pants were lying as they should be, suggesting that the damage did not extend below the beltline.
  "Could have been beaten to death,” Fenelli decided.  “But that would be one hell of a beating.”
  “Forget it,” MacNally shook his head.  “That’s gotta be bacteriological, viral, or what’s the other one I said already?”
  “Yeah, one of those.”
  “You a Doctor now, Mac?”  Davis, the IHS Technician, pushed past the detectives and stood over the body.  He was a little, bearded man with white, matted hair that looked as if it belonged on the back of a stray dog.
  “Wait a minute, Davis.  Fenelli, did they get all the visuals?”
  “Yeah, they finished up before you got here.”  Two camera technicians had captured moving and still shots from every angle possible.
  “It’s all yours, Davis.”  MacNally backed away from the body.
   Lazaretto protocol was unique at a crime scene.  All bodies had to be sampled and removed for testing.  The threat of disease—whether from virus, pathogen, or biological origin—had to be assessed and identified immediately.  The only exception being murder. 
   If a detective declared a death to be homicide, the on-site IHS representative sampled the body then released it into police custody.
   “All mine, huh?  This is disgusting.”  Davis knelt beside the corpse stuffed in its suit, pulled off a pair of glasses, and cleaned them on his jacket.  He spoke to the detectives as if they were children.  “This does not smell right.”
  “What’s it supposed to smell like?” Fenelli asked.
  “Not this, that’s for sure.  Well, time to lick ‘em and bag ‘em.”
  No matter how many times Fenelli heard Davis make crass comments like that he couldn’t help but wonder if there was something wrong with the man.
  Lick ‘em and bag ‘em was not a technical term, though it was accurate in its description.  Davis first laid an adhesive strip on the neck of the body.  He counted to fifteen before peeling it back off.  After carefully sealing the strip in a plastic envelope, he stuck a hypodermic needle into the same area of the flesh and extracted two vials of blood.  As he worked, two IHS techs rolled a gurney near the body.  A clear plastic body bag lay open on it.  Protected by full BIO suits, the two men carefully lifted the body into the bag.  The swollen flesh burst in several places as they handled it.  They did not react to the mess, clearly expecting it.
  “That’s enough for me,” Fenelli turned away before the body bag was sealed.  MacNally watched the procedure until the bag was both sealed and tagged.
  “You write the report, Fenelli.  I’m going back to bed.”
  That was just fine with Fenelli.  There was little chance he could have gone back to sleep any time soon.  He wouldn’t be eating breakfast either.

For more information on The Lazaretto, got to Rocket Fire Books, where you can order a signed print copy.  You may also purchase a print or eBook copy at the above link.

And watch for book two of the Lazaretto Trilogy: Lady in the Lazaretto.