THE LIMITS OF LOVE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I love my husband but we have a mixed marriage.

I’m a total Rom Com/Sit Com/Doctor/Lawyer Show kind of girl. Tom is a Super Hero/Sci-Fi/Tolkien kind of guy.

When we were first together, I’d religiously watch all his shows and movies with him. And he’d watch all of mine. After 18 years together and 14 years married, that isn’t going to happen anymore. Our relationship has reached a new level, where it can survive intact, even if we go off separately to watch our favorite guilty pleasures.

Tom won’t watch endless cooking competitions or HGTV house makeover shows anymore. I still love him. I won’t watch every superhero movie or TV show (there are a lot). He still loves me.There are some areas of crossover. I genuinely like some of the early super hero movies, like the original Superman and Spiderman. I even liked the first Transformer movie. I love time travel shows of all kinds.

Tom truly loves “When Harry Met Sally”, my favorite movie, and others of its genre. So he gets a couple of free passes for that. He also likes some of my favorite TV shows, like “Grey’s Anatomy”, “The Good Wife”, “NCIS”, “This is Us”, etc. We both were addicted to the on demand series like, “House of Cards”, “Grace and Frankie”, “Outlander” and “The Crown”.

So there is common ground. But there’s one other thing we’re not going to be doing together any time soon. And that’s video games. I cannot share any of Tom’s enthusiasm for violent video games. Even though I don’t participate, I’m still subjected to the incessant noise of gun battles blaring through the house at all hours. Some of these games go for realism in the form of adding the sounds of dying and wounded humans, animals and mythical creatures. I find it very disconcerting.

I’ve reached my saturation point with the new virtual reality play station games, complete with magic goggles and wands. I appreciate the amazingly advanced technology. But the glasses make me dizzy and disoriented. I like to be able to see my own hands and feet. I like to be sure where I am in my house, not stumbling around in some weird fantasy-scape. I just can’t cross that Rubicon with Tom into the virtual reality hologram world of tomorrow.

DUCK!

I’m not the only one freaked out by the new technology. As soon as Tom put on the headset with the glowing lights, one of our dogs went berserk. She would not stop barking at him as long as he had his gear on. I had to take her out of the room. If howling did anything for me, I’d be right there with her.

At least this newest toy comes with headphones so I don’t have to listen along at top volume. And Tom looks hilarious in his sci-fi get up! That’s worth a few laughs. Maybe watching him play games in an imaginary universe and listening to the dog go nuts could be a new form of entertainment for me too!

WHAT FOREST?

CAN YOU SEE THE FOREST FOR THE TREES?


As early as the 1500s, “you can’t see the forest for the trees” was in wide enough use that it was published in collections of proverbs and slang. As anyone who has been in a forest knows, it can be easy to fall into the trap of just looking at the individual trees, rather than considering the forest as a whole.


According to the “saying,” it’s really easy to lose the forest while you are looking at a tree.

Is that true? When you look at a tree, do you forget you’re in a forest? Is it that easy to forget the larger picture because you can only see part of it? Do we forget we are in a city because we’re looking at a building? Do we forget we are reading a book because we are looking at one page? At the risk of arguing with a “known fact,” I don’t need to see the whole city to know I’m in one.

Meanwhile, I really do live in a forest. Not an allegorical or metaphorical forest. We have a whole lot of trees covering a substantial amount of terrain. Our house is right on the edge of it. The forest is primarily red oak trees, with some other hardwood and a bare hint of pine. We used to have a walnut tree, but it went down in a hurricane years back.

If you live in a woods, it’s true that you can’t see the whole forest, but it doesn’t mean you don’t know it’s there.

Unless you looking down from a helicopter, you will never see the whole forest, yet I’m sure all of us can deduce, infer, and assume the larger picture. Whether or not you can see it in its entirety changes nothing. You see trees, but your brain believes “forest.” Not seeing the whole picture does not mean you don’t know there is one

Photo: Garry Armstrong

How many trees I can see from my house depends on where I am. From the back deck, I see forest. Fewer trees from the front or side of the house. But what’s the difference between the forest and the trees? Isn’t a forest just a bunch of trees? How many trees do you need before it’s a forest (rather than a bunch of trees)? Is there a definition?

Despite this, I bet you can tell the different between a group of trees and a forest every time, without assistance.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Parts of things embody the spirit of the whole. This is how we understand our world and ourselves. No matter what piece you look at, you retain awareness of its connection to something larger. We are individuals, but part of a family, a company, clan, tribe. Humanity as a whole. Without this fundamental grasp of reality, we could not live in the world.

So how do you know whether you’re looking at a single tree, or standing at the edge of a forest? Look around. If you see a lot more trees, put your money on “forest.” If you see a parking lot and a Walmart sign? Think “mall.” Of course, the Walmart could be at the edge of the forest. but I think you’ll work it out.

MEET THE EXORCIST: FELIX CASTOR – MIKE CAREY

When I first wrote about these books, Mike Carey was not famous in the book world, though he was very well-known as a screen writer and graphic novelist. Since then, he’s had a couple of big best sellers. And he has promised he will come back and finish this series with at least one more volume. I can hardly wait!

I discovered Mike Carey because I reviewed a Jim Butcher book and someone suggested I’d like the Felix Castor series by Mike Carey. I’d never heard of Mike Carey, but I was out of new authors to read at the time and I was ready to try anything that sounded good. I got what I hoped for plus a whole lot more.

Mike Carey is not merely a good writer. He is what I would term hyper-literate. He uses words like a rapier. His prose is beautifully crafted, often lyrical, yet never treacly or sappy. He is crisp.

He actually uses words I have to look up because I don’t recognize them. It has been decades since I learned a new word. Sometimes I don’t know the word because it’s British slang with which I’m just not familiar, but sometimes, it’s a word I’ve never seen before.

He does not repeat himself. He never uses the same descriptive passage more than once, nor does he — as many popular authors do — copy and paste sections from one book to another to (I presume) save writing time. Mike Carey doesn’t use short cuts.

The result is a style that is richly descriptive, a delicious combination of gritty street slang banging head-on into literary English. Guttersnipe meets Jane Austen in the streets of Liverpool. It gives the narrative a rare and rich texture.

What’s it all about? Felix (Fix) Castor is an exorcist. He sees the dead and the undead. They see him. He is no wizard who magics his problems away with the wave of a hand or wand. He can send the dead away when they linger and cast out demons who possess humans.

Where do the dead go after he sends them away?  He’s not sure, an issue that looms successively larger as the series progresses. His weapon is music in the form of a tin whistle, a thin armament in the face of some of the perils he faces. He has a few allies — human, formerly human plus one demon (in recovery).

The series consists of five books, each building on the previous one to form what is essentially a single story in five parts. Best to read the series in order. All the books are now available on paperback, for Kindle and as an Audible download.

In order, the books are:

  1. The Devil You Know
  2. Vicious Circle 
  3. Dead Men’s Boots
  4. Thicker Than Water
  5. The Naming of Beasts.

None of the books are exactly a lightweight romp through a sunny meadow, but the first three books are much lighter in tone  … and funnier — Carey has a sharp, ironic sense of humor– than the final two, which are pretty intense.

Mike Carey Photographed by Charlie Hopkinson © 2005

It’s a unique series, unlike any other I’ve read. I wish there had been more of them, though I suspect the author is done with this series. Fix Castor works hard for short money, is rarely appreciated by the people he helps, has more than enough of his personal demons, not to mention some very real, otherworldly demons who are seriously out to get him.

There are so many surprises in this series. The characters constantly surprised me by growing and changing, developing in unexpected ways and not doing the obvious. Characters make unique choices and don’t take the obvious or easy way out.

Mike Carey can be very funny. His subtle and elegant humor contains no belly laughs, but irony pervades his prose. None of the books are traditionally funny nor are the situations humorous or light-hearted, but the author’s writing style is wonderfully cynical. The stories, pun intended, are dead serious. Darkness notwithstanding, you can count on Mike Carey’s plays on words and twists of phrase to keep the dread from becoming too heavy to handle.

The plots are gripping and creepy. Any or all of the books would make great horror movies. I’m surprised no one has grabbed them yet. Maybe they will. Sooner or later, someone is bound to notice, right?

The books are available on Amazon and from other booksellers, and as audiobooks from Audible.com.


LUCIFER BEGINS A NEW SEASON TONIGHT ON FOX TV

I would like to mention for those of us who follow Mike Carey’s amazing tales of Lucifer in his graphic novels, that story has been made into a television show. It initially got lousy reviews. Those of us who watched it, loved it.

Apparently the reviewers did what they so frequently do: they either didn’t watch the show at all, or based their reviews on what they thought we were supposed to like. After the show was on for a while and it was one of the top shows of the season, they changed their opinions. Duh.

Lucifer as a graphic novel character comes from a group of writers. I like Carey’s interpretation because I love the way Carey writes. His graphic novels are far more novel-like I expected. Amazing graphics, too.

These are not merely comic books in fancy covers. These are a different kind of entertainment. The books are worth reading and the television show, when it is on (it has short seasons, so grab it when its running), starts tonight on Fox — Monday night at 9 (EDT). If you get American television, you will like it.