On my blog, Just Dread-Full, I’m adamantly open and enthusiastic about my love for all things (or most things) horror. Indeed, this passion is foregrounded so much that it often eclipses my other loves in life – a reason why I started another blog a few years ago, one I didn’t have time to follow through with and for which I ultimately stopped writing. One of those passions that I don’t frequently share on the horror-centered Just Dread-full is my love for music – and my interest in what I would consider a wide variety of music.
Well, like I said in my last post, yesterday, Michael and I started watching Netflix’s “Evil Genius” series about the bizarre pizza bomber case in Erie, PA. And, riveted as we were to the story, Michael and I finished the series already. In my last post, I predicted that Marjorie-Diehl Armstrong would be humanized by the documentary during the second half. And while the documentary interviews people who saw a human side of Marjorie in the courtroom of her trial, I would argue that the documentary, itself, didn’t do much to humanize her. In fact, I think the interview clips that were pieced together did a lot to suggest that Diehl-Armstrong was innately bad, and that maybe she’d always had at least a strong proclivity to be that way. This really interests me, because it flies in the face of what I think I know about human beings, and the existence of evil in the world. It’s also just a dangerous road to travel down: what can we do to someone when we label them “evil from birth?” These are some questions this post will consider. Continue reading ““Baby I was Born That Way”: Depicting Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong in “Evil Genius” as Bad-Since-Birth.”→
Whoa. I’m writing for my blog. Gasp. What a strange phenomenon this is—something I haven’t had time to do for months. I almost forget how. How do I start? What do I say? Gahhhh!!! The pressure weighs on me so. (Searching brain for an apt metaphor to describe this feeling – coming up with nothing). This blog-writing business is, indeed, a weird sensation, after such a long hiatus. It is, loosely stated, my summer vacation, and so I have time to write again. But having not written recreationally in quite some time, the task seems a little daunting. Of course, I write papers all the time, but blog-writing is a different beast, all together. Still, like I said, it’s my sorta-summer vacation (I still have lots to do) and Michael and I sat down earlier today to watch the first two episodes of Evil Genius. The show got me to thinking… … …so I decided to take a break after the first two episodes to write about it. Continue reading “How We Construct the Monster: Thoughts on Evil Genius, Parts One and Two”→
In a rare turn of events, I got off work early today (woo-hoo!) and had to decide how to occupy my time. I was thinking about a post I could write without re-reading anything, or re-watching anything – so I could just start writing for the sake of writing, and get a post up today before my plans tonight. And it occurred to me that while I’ve talked about evil a lot on this blog, there is a rich pantheon of evil horror characters I’ve never discussed.
One thing is for certain: not all villains are made alike, and not all behave similarly. I thought about this when considering the difference, in Star Wars, between a Vader and a Palpatine. Vader becomes pure evil, but he becomes evil because he falls; the prequels tell us that he was once the promising Jedi, Annakin Skywalker. And ultimately, Vader is redeemed. Palpatine, on the other hand, is more or less bad to the bone, as the cliché song goes. So I started thinking about all the evil horror characters who are insane, who are sympathetic, who have at least strands of humanity that sometimes surmount the darkness and show themselves a bit. And then, I thought of the horror characters that don’t have any of that – no really human tendencies, no back story, few redeeming qualities. For the purposes of this post, these are the characters I’ll label “truly evil,” and I’ve chosen five of them. I couldn’t put these five characters in order, because they’re all pretty damn malicious, but here’s the list, nonetheless, with my explanation: My five favorite truly evil horror characters: Continue reading “Evil is as Evil Does: Five of Horror’s Vilest Villains”→
I can’t say I read many books about the writing process these days. To be sure, I have no vendetta against them – especially not when they’re written by accomplished authors. I remember, years ago, reading Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird, in which she talks about taking life, and taking writing, step by step, the way her brother had to take a science project “bird by bird” when he stayed up to do it at the last minute. And in my early 20’s, I was obsessed with Mary Pipher’s Writing to Change the World. Pipher is the author of Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, and along with formulating the renowned theory that our society is taking something away from its girls during the transition from childhood to adulthood, she also sought to give people advice on how to write – especially on how to write in a way that would change things, that would make a difference. That was a fair undertaking, because Reviving Ophelia had made waves, and its theory still has resonance today, years later. Continue reading “Reading About Writing: Stephen King’s “On Writing””→
If it’s not obvious from the different analysis I publish on this site, I’m a huge fan of The Shining. In fact, I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing right now, and I’m a bit torn, because I know he hates Kubrick’s version of his story, but I happen to love it. Still no matter what version of the classic tale you favor, we can all agree that the idea of being snowed into a haunted hotel with a mentally unstable, alcoholic, misogynist, self-interested writer and schoolteacher (how Kubrick, though not King, presents Jack) is a precarious situation, especially when you have son with exceptional capabilities but a penchant for blacking out and losing his sentience. Well, since I live in the freezing Erie, PA, a city that repeatedly makes winter headlines for its record amounts of Lake Effect snow, I’ve gotten, over the past few days, to get a sense of what it feels like to be completely snowed in (and, bonus, I’m a recovering alcoholic writer and teacher who’s also a bit self-interested, though not a misogynist). As such, I thought I’d write a post about the experience of being “snowed in” for three days, and the cabin fever that ensues from such an experience – you know, in the service of exploring different territory for my blog. Continue reading “Snowed-In: A Cabin Fever Story”→
Okay, so in the chaos of finishing final papers and working at my jobs, I ended up not writing 1,700 words a day for my imminent novel. I will admit, being busy (which I was) became mixed with both some discomfort at how personal and emotional my writing was getting, how uncomfortable I was with other elements of the text that were unfolding, and how unsure I was (am) that I could ever add any sort of structure or plot twist that would make the strange storyline that’s unfolding, in my eyes, a viable novel, or novel-like production. I am not dropping my “Post Nano-wrimo” project, but I took a very Un-Nano-wrimo-like break and will probably return to the original project in a couple of days. The reason I write today is because I finally saw The Last Jedi and, as someone who contemplates the villainy of villains, the inherent evil-ness of characters and how we regard the bad guy, how we treat the monster, so-called, I found myself (as I was to a lesser degree in The Force Awakens) incredibly drawn to Kylo Ren. And that’s all I’ll say in the first paragraph, before I add more details about the film. I think it goes without saying that if you still haven’t seen The Last Jedi and you’re averse to spoilers, DON’T READ THIS. It will probably be necessary to reveal spoilers while delving into an analysis of Kylo. But I want to talk, I think, about reading Kylo as a monster –or not—and what that does to our conception of the monster. Continue reading “Contemplating Kylo Ren”→