Sunday, July 22, 2012

Serial Killer Sunday

Today I'm doing something a little bit different for Serial Killer Sunday - I'm posting a poem I wrote a long time ago that I recently ran across. I hope you like it!  Don't forget, you have until the end of the month to join in the Blissemas in July fun and enter for a chance to win A Special Christmas!


By Julie Lynn Hayes

You can call me Charlie,   
You can call me Ted.
Glance over your shoulder,
Check under your bed.
Search the smiles of total strangers—passersby  you meet,
But don’t forget that loves ones, too, sometimes do feel the heat.

Underneath we are the same, you and I.
And I can go by any other name; haven’t I?

Landru, Gacy, Dahmer,
Madeline Smith and Mary Bell.
A cavalcade of honorees
Whose tales we know full well.
Berkowitz and Whitman,
Wayne Williams and Richard Speck.
Lizzie Borden raised an axe,
Whacked Daddy in  the neck.

Somewhere there is lurking
A man well known to you,
Behind the public face he wears
A secret smile – what did he do?

Perhaps you’ll never know.   
Can you watch him all the time?
You’ve got your own life to lead,
And so do he and I.

A secret rage burns deep inside of many hidden hearts,
A time bomb measured in increments of broken body parts.
Think twice before  you pick a fight, or flip someone the bird.
For there are far worse things in life than an unpleasant word.

The bell keeps tolling,
The body count growing.
Just remember this,
As you live in ignorant bliss,
Only the worst among us has been caught,
The best are still at large.

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Salute - Happy Birthday, Percy Grainger

On July 8, 1882, one of my favorite composers was born - Percy Grainger - and to celebrate his 130th birthday, I'm going to salute him today. Most people today will not know who he is, or what he did, but he was a very prolific composer and extraordinary pianist. He was very popular in his day, comparable to the rock stars of today. He was very good looking and very charismatic. But deep within, there was a lot more to Percy than that, including having to care for his ill mother from an early age (she'd contracted syphilis from her husband and it wasn't curable then), and his predilection for the whips. He was also well known as a collector of folk songs and an arranger, as well. Next time you hear Irish Air From County Derry, you might be listening to one of Percy's arrangements. Don't know that song? Maybe you know the more popular title - Danny Boy.

I first became interested in Percy and his life and music in a roundabout way - through the film Moulin Rouge. How does that connect to Percy Grainger, you ask? Well, I fell in love with the Duke, and the Duke was played by actor Richard Roxburgh. Naturally, I had to look up more of his films, and one of those was something called Passion, which co-starred Barbara Hershey. It was a bio-pic of composer Percy Grainger. I bought the movie and fell in love, began reading books about Percy, including the marvelous John Bird biography, and the rest, as they say is history. For more information, go visit the Percy Project.

So, happy birthday, Percy, and many happy returns. You are, and shall ever be, close to my heart!

Percy Aldridge Grainger is the most famous composer/pianist ever to emerge from the Australian continent - an enigmatic, complicated man whose amazing talents produced far-reaching effects on the musical world, and yet who remains vastly unknown today, even in his native land. He was born on July 8, 1882 in Brighton, a suburb of Melbourne, to John and Rose Grainger. Although originally christened George Percy Grainger, he began to use the name Percy Aldridge Grainger, somewhere around 1912, in tribute to his mother's family. One can only speculate as to his feelings toward his father at that point. John Grainger was an engineer/architect of considerable ability, most noted for his design of the Princes Bridge in Melbourne.

Percy was primarily raised by his mother Rose, a strong, intelligent woman possessed of musical ability whose family hailed from Adelaide, and who had visions of her son as a gifted musician even before his birth. From the ages of five to ten, she painstakingly tutored him on the piano, instilling a deep and abiding love of music in the boy which never flagged during his lifetime. His only formal education was a brief stint of a few months at the Misses Turner's Preparatory School for Boys in South Yarra, a time during which he "ran home madly as soon as school was out, to avoid fights with other boys", sometime about 1894-95. Other than that, Rose handled his general education. Even as a child, Percy was fascinated by the sounds of nature, and had many happy memories of the time spent at his beloved Albert Park in Melbourne, watching and listening to the waves of the Albert Park Lake, which in time led to his interest in and development of his Free Music...

By 1890, John Grainger had moved out of the family home, never to return. Rose turned Percy's musical education after the age of ten over to Dr. Louis Pabst, feeling that she had taken her son as far as she could, and on July 9, 1894, Percy made his public debut at Melbourne's Masonic Hall to excellent reviews.

The next year, after a hugely successful farewell Benefit Concert in The Melbourne Town Hall, Rose Grainger moved the two of them to Germany, so that Percy could have better study opportunities with the finest teachers in Europe. There he formed some of the friendships which were to last throughout most of his life among his fellow students - Roger Quilter, Balfour Gardiner, Cyril Scott, and Norman O'Neill. This group of young composers, along with Percy, became known as the Frankfurt Five. They called him Perks, encouraged one another in their compositional ambitions. Here Percy also met another lifelong friend, Danish cellist Herman Sandby, who saw great things in the music of this wild-haired young Australian.

At this time, Rose Grainger's health was not the best. Known only to her young son, she suffered from syphilis, which she had contracted from her alcoholic, womanizing husband, and which at that time was incurable. The disease would flare up from time to time and she would find herself unable to make a living for herself and her son. On top of that, she had an accident in which she slipped on some ice, coupled with a nervous collapse, which left Percy as sole provider for the family.

He performed at recitals, accompanied singers and gave private piano lessons, while Rose was forced to recuperate for months, nursed chiefly by her son. In 1901, Rose and Percy bade farewell to Germany and set their sights on making their way in London. The thirteen years that they were to spend there saw Percy firmly establish his reputation as a world-class pianist. He gave many recitals, frequently in the homes of the well-to-do. He was not fond of doing this, much preferring to compose rather than put himself on display for what he considered to be the idle rich. But it was what he had to do to keep himself and Rose, as well as his ailing father.

He made many useful contacts in this way, and met fellow composers who became his friends - Grieg, Delius, Vaughan Williams, among others. Cyril Scott had come to London before Percy and they happily resumed their friendship, although Rose kept a firm hand on Percy's time and energies, controlling every facet of his life, including his love life. Percy had a patroness, Lilith Lowrey, a fortyish married member of society, who insisted that he become her lover if he wanted to continue to receive the benefit of her patronage, and he had no choice but to obey, losing his virginity to her at the age of twenty.

Percy loved his mother very much, and was a very dutiful son. He had taken on the responsibility of caring for her since the departure of his architect father, and was determined to put Rose above everything else. Through his friend Sandby, he met and fell in love with a young Danish woman, Karen Holten, and they continued a close relationship for eight years, primarily via correspondence, and vacations taken together about once a year. Percy realized, however, that he could not marry Karen or any other woman at that time, for no woman would consent to take a back seat to his mother, and he could not abrogate the responsibility which he had taken upon himself. So reluctantly he let Karen go and she married another, although they maintained a friendship until her death in 1953. He composed a piece of music on the occasion of her marriage, Bridal Lullaby.

It was during his time in England that he developed an interest in folksong collecting, an enthusiasm also shared by his friend Cecil Sharp. He spent much time going about the English countryside, particularly in Lincolnshire, gathering the songs of the folk singers and recording them on cylinders, a practice not much used before. One of his arrangements of the song Country Gardens eventually became the best known of his works, overshadowing his other compositions, and it brought in a comfortable income until he died. This was to his chagrin, for he was dismayed that people would remember him for such a light piece, and never get to know the other more important things that he had done.

In 1914, with the war in Europe breaking out, Percy and Rose decided that it was not safe for them to remain there any longer, and feared an untimely end to Percy's budding musical career if he should have to fight in the army. A pacifist by nature, he did not believe in the unsportsmanlike, unmanly way in which modern wars had come to be conducted, and wanted no part of them. So he and Rose left the country, coming to America, which had been of interest to him for some time. There, he was embraced by the American public and his career took off.

He took as an agent Antonia Sawyer, who became a good friend as well. In 1917, amid the jeers of people back in England who called him a coward, he decided to enlist in the army, bought a soprano saxophone and marched off to Fort Totten. He enlisted under the name of PA Grainger, and was immediately transferred to Fort Hamilton, South Brooklyn, as a member of the 15th Band of the Coast Artillery Corps under band leader Rocco Resta. Because there was a surplus of saxophones, Percy was given an oboe to play and contentedly played in anonymity until at one of the band's concerts, he was recognized by a reporter and flushed out for who he really was. He spent the war years giving concerts and helping to raise funds for such organizations as the Red Cross, for which he made a lifelong commitment of assistance.

Percy's stint in the army led to his interest in composing for wind bands, and he was one of the first composers to realize their potential. He wrote a beautiful suite, Lincolnshire Posy, based on several songs he had collected. Besides Country Gardens, some of his other successful compositions included Molly on the Shore, Shepherd's Hey and Irish Tune From County Derry (Danny Boy).

In 1921, Percy purchased a home in White Plains, New York, for himself and Rose, whose health was deteriorating. His next door neighbors were Tonie and Frederick Morse (Tonie was Antonia Sawyer's niece, and eventually became Percy's manager, while Frederick acted as secretary and wrestling partner). Percy and Rose had never been separated for more than three weeks at a time throughout his life, even while he was on tour, but in early 1922, she was unable to accompany him on a two-month tour of the Pacific coast and Canada. Perhaps Rose felt that her control of Percy was slipping, perhaps she agonized over his need for a wife versus her need to be the most important person in his life, or perhaps her syphilis had become too overwhelming for her to handle any longer. There were also rumours of an incestuous relationship existing between her and Percy, the result of a bitter ex-girlfriend who blamed Rose for the breakup of her relationship with Percy. Whatever the reason, on April 30, 1922, she plunged from the eighteenth floor of the Aeolian Building in New York, where Antonia Sawyer had her office. Percy was conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the time. When he reached his dressing room, a telegram awaited him stating that his mother had died. It was only on the train trip back to New York that a distraught Percy learned the details of her death.

Rose's death was a blow from which Percy never fully recovered. He traveled and went on tours, collecting folk songs in Denmark with Evald Tang Kristensen. In Norway, he saw Frederick Delius again for the first time in many years, and was saddened at the state of his friend's deteriorating health (Delius also suffered from syphilis). In 1924 Percy became a vegetarian (he referred to it as meat-shunment, part of his blue-eyed English - a quixotic attempt to expunge the English language of all words of Latin and Greek derivation). 

In 1926, while returning to America from Australia aboard the RMMS Aorangi, he met and fell in love with a Swedish poet/courtesan - Ella Viola Ström. It was love at first sight for the heartsick Percy, but he did not immediately win over the girl of his dreams. He courted her assiduously, visiting with her at her home in Pevensey Bay, England, while she communicated with her Japanese lover, Iyemasa Tokugawa, as to ending their relationship and marrying Percy. Apparently he gave his consent, for they were wed at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles on August 9, 1928, before a crowd of some 20,000 who had attended Percy's concert there. For the occasion, he wrote a piece of music for his bride - To A Nordic Princess. They remained married until Percy's death in 1961. This marriage produced no offspring.

Some of Percy's more ambitious compositions include The Warriors (Music for an Imaginary Ballet), Random Round, In A Nutshell, The Jungle Book among others. He was one of the foremost pianists of his era, and his skill is still evident in the CDs which are available of his works, which were originally recorded on cylinders and on Duo-Art Recording Piano rolls He spent many years working on his concept of free music, building machines which would eliminate the need for a performer, and he developed the forerunner of the modern synthesizer. He also developed the idea of beatless music and in 1908 came up with a prototype of the modern sports bra, so his lover could comfortably run with him.

He remained very outspoken in his views, and often contradicted his words with his actions. He championed composer Henry Cowell when others turned their backs on him for what was at that time viewed as moral turpitude, kept in touch with him while Cowell was in prison and allowed him to be released to his guardianship, where he employed him at the Graingers' White Plains home. He was very publicity conscious, and this too coloured the things that he did. Viewed by some as a racist, he actually liked all people, and worked assiduously to introduce the public to types of music not commonly heard - claiming that music was dominated by the Germans and Russians, to the detriment of other nations - Polynesians, Africans, Asians, to name a few.

He was a champion of physical fitness, and stayed in top form throughout his life. He designed clothing from colourfully patterned towel material, as well as beaded necklaces. He loved Kipling, and spent over fifty years on his musical studies of the Jungle Book, which contain some of the most beautiful choral music ever written. He had an affinity for writing startlingly compelling chromatic harmonies which is equaled by few composers.

He began building a museum for himself in Melbourne in 1932, in order not just to collect the pieces of his life, but to help to understand the influences that came to bear in making him the person that he was. A prolific archivist, his correspondence is simply amazing to behold, and is currently in the process of being catalogued. Also in the Grainger Museum are many of his instruments and memorabilia from the people in his life, including life-sized dummies wearing their original clothes (which he requested from his friends, as well as copies of all correspondence).

Percy Aldridge Grainger was a man ahead of his time in many ways. If he had been born at a later time, today he would probably be a cultural phenomenon, gracing the pages of supermarket tabloids worldwide with his striking Adonis looks, his immense talent for the keyboard as well as his talent for being controversial, and for his antics both on stage and off - including his various athletic leaps upon the stage, being mistakenly arrested for vagrancy (more than once), moving pianos on stage, his espousal of blue-eyed English, his relationship with his mother and his proclivity toward the use of whips in his sex-life. Percy Grainger was indeed one of a kind.

Go to YouTube, go to your library, start listening to Percy's music now. You'll be glad you did! You'll see why I love this man so!

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Monday, April 23, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Barnabas Collins

A few days ago, we were rocked by the sudden demise of Jonathan Frid, our beloved Barnabas Collins. He did live a long and amazing life, and he'll be sorely missed by us, his fans. I fell in love with him when I was about twelve, when I discovered the world of Dark Shadows. I began my love affair with vampires upon reading Bram Stoker's novel, one that continues to this day. I cut pictures of Barnabas from the fan magazines and taped them to my wall. Every night, before I went to bed, I kissed him good night. There is a place in my heart where he'll always live. We are blessed to have had him. I'm introducing him to my daughter Sarah, and she too is saddened at his loss.

Today I'm going to post pictures of him, in his memory. Rest in peace, dear friend, and thank you for all that you gave to us.

This is the portrait of Barnabas that hangs in the foyer of Collinwood. Or, rather, of his "ancestor".  Funny how they look exactly alike, isn't it? And that when the present day Barnabas shows up, he has both the ring and the cane.

Suspicious much?

At times, Dark Shadows could be a bit hokey and campy, but it was well loved. Look in early episodes and you'll see the shadow of the boom mic.

Barnabas with Dr. Julia Hoffman, the psychiatrist that became his staunchest ally and best friend. She had a huge crush on Barnabas, but it could never be because of his obsession with his lost Josette.

The show liked to take forays into the past at times, and the cast would sometimes play other versions of themselves, or different characters. In one incarnation, Julia was Magda the gypsy. Barnabas was always himself.

And now Tim Burton is set to release the remake of Dark Shadows on May 4th. At first I thought it might be good, that Johnny Depp might do justice to the role. Until I saw the pre-release photos, and then I saw the trailer and I thought I was going to be ill. This movie is a mockery and a travesty. I hope it fails; it deserves to. It takes Dark Shadows and makes a huge joke out of it. Dark Shadows was Gothic camp, not humorous camp, like Lost in Space. I just lost my respect for Tim Burton as a filmmaker. And Johnny? Really? Didn't you find it to be over the top in the wrong way?

Rest in peace, dear friend, you will be greatly missed. Thank you for everything you gave us.

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sexy Villain Sunday; Jim Profit's the Man

The definition of a villain lies in the eye of the beholder. According to Merriam-Webster, a villain is "a character in a story or play who opposes the hero."  But what if the villain is the hero? In other words, the protagonist. Does that change anything, such as the perception we have of him? Conversely, does it make the good guys the heroes? I guess it depends on your point of view.

I just finished watching the pitifully few episodes of Profit that were made. It was never picked up for a second season, and never given resolution.  At one time, shows had the plug pulled and never had the opportunity to wrap everything up in a neat little package, knowing they'd been cancelled. Hence, we left the brave castaways still shipwrecked on Gilligan's Island ('til many years later, when the miracle of TV movies rescued them at long last). The bad thing about this scenario is that we don't find out the answer to the burning questions we have regarding our favorite characters. Of course, on the other hand, some series that were allowed to do this, did it pretty ridiculously and we'd have been better served if they'd simply avoided it. One example of this is St. Elsewhere, whose resolution involved an austic boy's dream. The entire series. Seriously? That's worse than the Bobby-dream sequence season of Dallas, which was horrible too, but at least we only lost one season. In the case of St. Elsewhere, it was all in a child's head, nothing more.

Profit was the brainchild of David Greenwalt and John McNamara, produced by Stephen Cannell. The trouble with Profit is that it was ahead of its time. Cable networks weren't what they are now, and although it was picked up by Fox, it proved to be too edgy for mainstream television audiences. I'm convinced, to quote Judas in  Jesus Christ Superstar: If you'd come today, you would have reached a whole nation. Okay, maybe he was talking about Israel in 4 B.C., but you get the point. If Profit were to air now, it would be quite successful, of that I have no doubt.

The protagonist of Profit is, of course, Jim Profit, played  by the delectable Adrian Pasdar. He is the hero, but arguably he is also a villain. He will stop at nothing to get what he wants - power, wealth, control - inside of G&G, Gracen & Gracen, his employers.

****SPOILERS******  A little background first. Jim Profit was born Jim Stawowski in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His father was worse than neglectful, he was abusive. He stuck the year old child into a large cardboard box, with a slit cut out through which he could view the television; once a week he threw in food and supplies. The television was Jim's only contact with the outside world. He grew to hate it once he became an adult. He decided to make a place for himself at G&G - not surprisingly, the box was one of theirs, the only family he has really known. As the series began, Jim has just received a promotion following the death of the former VP of Acquisitions at G&G. G&G is a family-owned business. Chaz Gracen is the CEO, bumbling brother Pete is Senior VP of Acquisitions; Jack Walters is married to their cousin, and is President of Acquisitions (but not for long); Joanne Meltzer (Lisa Zane) is Jack's ex and the obsessive head of Security who is determined to destroy Jim Profit at all costs.

And then there's Bobby (Lisa Blount). We first see her in the pilot, at the end of the first hour. Jim is told he has a visitor in his office. He enters, sees her and closes the door, whereupon the woman practically throws herself into his arms and they proceed to kiss rather warmly. When they finally pull apart, she greets him with, "Hello Jimmy," and he responds with, "Hi Mom". Yeah, right. I was very amazed myself at first, until it's revealed that she's his stepmother, not his biological mother.  However, I learned when I watched the extras on the dvd that originally Bobby was his mother, and that the reason for the first rejection of the series was due to that. Fox picked it up, but before it was actually shot, they requested the change to stepmother.

Every good villain needs a sidekick, right? For Jim Profit, it was Gail Koner (Lisa Darr).  She's Jack's assistant, and a nice person. But he learns her secret (everyone has at least one) - she's skimming a few cents here and there, in order to make her mother more comfortable in the nursing home she's in. Jim thinks that's an admirable motive - as he tells her when he reveals his knowledge of her crime - and would she please do him a favor? Thus begins their relationship. Gail ends up as Jim's assistant, and he leads her down the path of... well, that's for  you to decide. Personally, if that were me, I'd have no problem doing what he asks of her. He's charming, sexy, handsome, intelligent. Did I say drop dead gorgeous?  Is Gail a good guy or bad guy? I guess that depends on how your moral compass swings. And how you view Jim Profit. In just the few episodes made, you can watch her evolution from unwilling accomplice to trusted sidekick, her dreams of being a player in this world shattered by indifferent corporate execds - until Jim Profit takes her in hand. . I like to believe that under Jim's tutelage, someday she achieved her goals. 

Jim uses whomever he needs to use. He exploits the loneliness of drunken Pete's wife Nora, becomes her friend, hints at more, plans a romantic assignation, but at the last minute tells her he cares too much to do that to her.(But he manages some mighty fine manipulation in the process) When he finally kills his father - an action begun when he was fifteen  (Jim handcuffed him to the bed and set the trailer on fire, then took off), he thinks he's rid of his stepmother, but the plucky Bobby has other ideas. She's loud, brash, loose and amoral. She loves to live high on the hog but she doesn't want to do any more work than is involved in spreading her legs. And she knows the value of an audio recording. So he tolerates her, and has to give in to her demands, material and otherwise, for now. And yes, he continues to service her as well. At least he goes through the paces. You just know she broke him in, years ago. Theirs is a love/hate relationship, as much as Jim can feel love. Which isn't much.

One of the most shocking, haunting, mind blowing images you'll ever want to see occurs at the end of the pilot. Throughout the series, you see Jim at home at his computer, sitting before it in the nude. He has a secret area in his apartment, where no one is allowed, where he makes his Machiavellian plans. You might think he's attempting to wrest control of G&G, but you'd be wrong. He doesn't wish to step into the light, he chooses to remain in the shadows. To be the power behind the throne. To eliminate everyone who gets in his way. In the pilot, he gets  a program, thanks to Gail, which gives him virtual access to G&G, and everyone's files, including digital representations of everyone there. He delights in blowing up these 3-D images as he destroys each person. 

But about the image. As I said, he spends a lot of time at this computer, scheming, sitting there in the nude (if you're hoping to see something, remember - this was shown on Fox, not happening). At the very end of the pilot, when he calls it a night and retires, we see what we haven't seen before - he has THE box, there in his little sanctuary. The one he was brought up in.  (If not the very one, then the same type, we're never sure, but it's definitely a G&G box). And he curls up in it and sleeps there, every night. I'm telling you that was one hell of a surprise, and that image is indelibly burned into my brain. 

I realized while watching the extra something that probably explains at least part of my attraction to Jim Profit. It's that whole power behind the throne angle. Just like the man who's my historical crush - Cardinal Armand Jean Duplessis Richeileu. Although he virtually ruled France for many years, he was content to appear to be the king's right-hand man. Richelieu was a very complex and fascinating character. And yet if you ask most people today about him, they'll say he was a villain. Why? Most likely because Alexander Dumas painted him that way in his Musketeer books, a portrayal which has been replicated in the film versions. It's all a matter of perception.

So there you have it - Jim Profit is my modern day Cardinal Richelieu. No wonder I'm attracted to him.

Sinner or Saint?  You make the call.  There is no right or wrong. I recommend that you check out Profit - you'll be glad you did.

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Serial Killer Sunday - Red Dragon Review

My favorite fictional serial killer is Hannibal Lecter. This was  his debut, Thomas Harris' Red Dragon.

Red Dragon  
Author: Thomas Harris
Publisher: Berkley (reprint, originally Dell)
American release date: January 6, 2009
Format/Genre/Length: Novel/Thriller/464 pages
Publisher/Industry Age Rating: NR
Overall Personal Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Similar series or titles to check out: Silence of the LambsHannibalHannibal Rising

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what FBI agent Jack Crawford wants of Will Graham—especially with the headlines blaring about the two murders; one in Atlanta, the other in Birmingham. More than enough reason for Crawford to come down to Florida, to get the consultant’s take on the killer. The choice of locale is deliberate—when he shows Will the photos of the deceased families, children included, he can’t help but contrast that with his own wife and stepson. How can he refuse to help catch someone who hurts children?


Will hasn’t been with the FBI since before he met Molly, leaving the Bureau after his unfortunate encounter with a particular serial killer by the name of Hannibal Lecter—an encounter he almost didn’t survive. Nonetheless, and against Molly’s wishes, he agrees to help the FBI find the killer the media has dubbed the Tooth Fairy. First he travels to Atlanta, to the house the Leeds family had lived in. Everything is still in place, waiting for them, as if expecting them home at any moment. Will looks at their life, in situ, trying to piece together what happened to them so he can determine what sort of person did this and create a profile for the FBI to use in order to look for him.

It’s the little things that speak to him, cause him to ask questions. He tries to make sense of the bloodstains, figure out what happened when. Why did the killer move the family around? Was there a purpose to his madness? And by any chance when he did, did he leave a fingerprint behind?

The murders each took place during the full moon, which surely isn’t coincidence, and which means they only have less than a month til the next one. Before the next full moon, they not only have to figure out who this guy is but who his next victims will be, before it’s too late. Will gets more and more engrossed in the chase, while somewhere in the Midwest a man is planning his next move—and his Becoming. Will decides he needs to consult with someone, the only person he knows that can shed some light on this killer—Dr. Hannibal Lecter himself. Will this encounter end better than the last one? And will the good doctor deign to cooperate?

Add to the mix a sleazy tabloid reporter with a penchant for stirring the shit so it hits the fan, and a killer with a deep seated admiration for Dr. Lecter—you’ve got a sure fire recipe for death and mayhem!


In this first volume of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal series, we get a glimpse of his extraordinary character, Dr. Lecter. I think he is undoubtedly one of the greatest characters ever created, with a great deal of depth and far more to him than meets the eye. There are things we won’t even learn about him in this volume; it’s just a teaser for what comes later. This book is Will Graham’s story and how he deals with having met Hannibal in the past and his need to consult him in the present. It’s about his desire to preserve his way of life balanced against the desire to save innocent lives from a deranged madman. Which side will win?

It’s brilliantly written, fast paced and well executed. The character of Francis Dolarhyde is well drawn, and not above eliciting sympathy for what he cannot help. His unraveling is fascinating to behold—and he does not go down alone.

This is a must read introduction to the world of Hannibal Lecter—it sets the stage and sets it well for what comes after. Not to be missed at any price.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter Demon volume 4 Review

Winter Demon, Volume 4   
Author:  Yamila Abraham
Distributor:  Yaoi Press
American release date:  2008
Format/Genre:  Manga/Yaoi
Publisher/Industry Age Rating:  Mature
Overall Personal Rating:  ★★★★
Similar series or titles to check out:   9th Sleep

Ever since Lord Ryuuto took mortal form to help Doctor Takuma heal the soliders, they have been growing closer, even though the timid Doctor will go no further than kisses with the demon.  He is so afraid of what will happen, that he tries to keep his last patient as long as he can, but Ryuuto dismisses him, so now they are alone, other than for Takuma's ill sister.  Their solitude is broken by the approach of a demon- it's Fuyu, bearing Hakuin in his arms, begging the doctor to please heal him.  And as Takuma does so, two couples are left to take the measure of one another, to observe - to watch and to learn, one couple from the other.


Takuma observes the tender relationship between Fuyu and Hakuin and wonders can he and Ryuuto have the same thing?  Fuyu, aware now of the purification of himself that has been practiced by Hakuin without his knowledge, wants to ascertain that even without it, he would love and cherish the monk.  Both demons have fears of losing themselves somehow by being less demonic, and both fear hurting the ones they care about.

Ryuuoto and Fuyu have a demon to demon talk, and Ryuuoto decides to try the purification thing.  But somehow it doesn't go quite as planned.  And Fuyu has Hakuin cease with his purification treatments- with its own backlash.  To further muddy the waters, Priest Shidan informs Fuyu that he really needs to service Figaru - he has this once a month need to be sexed up thing going on.  But Fuyu, who is happy in Hakuin's love, doesn't want to mess with that.  Although, now that he's not purified, things aren't running quite as smoothly as before.

Will Figaru be the monkey wrench that bolluxes everything up, or the savior that is just what everybody needs?


And now we complete our journey in this fourth volume of Winter Demon.  There is a great deal going on here, much to think about, lessons in love that everyone can take to heart and consider.  If there is an underlying theme here, I think it is that of partnership - one person cannot do and be everything for another, but together, the sum is greater than the individual parts.  Fuyu, when he loses Hakuin's purification, is not himself, but when he has it, the two of them have it all.  It has to be the purity of their love that makes it so, not just the spell itself.  And after all, is that such a bad thing?  Takuma and Ryuuto too must face their own personal demons, and learn from them - Takuma learns trust, and Ryuuto learns temperance, and taking it slow and easy.  Together, I think they can make it.  If Ryuuto can explain the Figaru thing, that is.

The last volume of the series is a very satisfactory one, leaving you to bid a fond farewell to these two couples, with great hopes for their future together.  If you've read this far, for heaven's sake, don't stop now.  This is a gotta read volume.  If you're just starting, go back to the beginning, or you'll miss out on a great journey.  I still am not totally enamored of the artwork, but I've gotten used to it, and although it doesn't showcase the writing as well as I'd wish, it's adequate for what it's meant to do.  For after all, the story's the thing.  And the story is well told.  So simply enjoy.