For those of you hoping for Part 2 of my adventures in Provo like a kid on Christmas Eve, you’re going to have to wait a little longer. Now, I can hear your cries across the land of “Why, Wile E.? How could you do this to us?” I know, I know and I apologize.
Unfortunately, a full time job, demanding social life, daily writing quotas, time sacrificed for sleep, and being part time Protector of the Universe doesn’t leave a lot of extra time for blogging. So bear with me for now and enjoy this spotlight review of a film and a book that I perused this week.
Film in Review
This week I watched a film called the Invitation that I’d picked up at Wal-Mart that had advertised itself as “the best thriller of the year.” I was intrigued, especially from the cover art (a dark hallway with a single light shining) and the synopsis on the back about a dinner party that had ulterior motives. So I decided to dive right in.
Our main character, Will, has had a bit of a breakdown after the death of his beloved daughter, suffering severe depression and a separation from his wife after she tried to kill herself.
In the present, Will and his new girlfriend, Kira, are on their way to a dinner party hosted by his ex wife, Eden, and her new husband, David, who met in a grief support group. The dinner party is also being attended by the former couple’s friends who have seen neither Will nor Eden in the two years since the death of their child.
Now it may just be me, but that whole situation just brings one word to my mind: awkward.
If I had to use one word to describe this entire movie it would be that word; a sense of unease and awkwardness pervades the entire atmosphere of the dinner party and never seems to abate. That first taste of awkwardness seems to descend as soon as they walk through the door.
You see, apparently this little friendly dinner has a new variable attached to it: Sadie, one of Eden and David’s (the ex wife and new husband) friends that they met at the grief support group. Our first glimpse of her is beckoning at Will from the end of a long hallway as she’s half naked.
When this sort of thing happens at my dinner parties I usually just shrug it off and remind myself that I’ve had one too many Dr. Peppers for the evening, but here Will hasn’t even had one soda yet much less anything stronger and already weird shenanigans are afoot.
Did I mention that all of this is taking place in Will and Eden’s former house (well I guess it’s still Eden’s house)? Because it is. As they awkwardly mingle with their friends, Will wanders through his old home and does some good old-fashioned reminiscing.
While he follows the memory rabbit down the hall, he also notices a few things: his ex wife is hiding a bottle of pills, David and Eden’s weird friend Pruitt (who has no other connection to the established group of friends) arrives, David locks the front door, and that their last guest, a friend of theirs named Choi, is running mysteriously late.
So the friends, which include the aforementioned and several others (Tommy, Miguel, Ben, Claire, and Gina) settle in and begin their dinner party whereupon it doesn’t take long for things to get even more awkward.
Apparently David, Eden, Pruitt, and Sadie met at a grief support group in Mexico called “the Invitation”; a spiritual philosophy that apparently has become quite popular in California and New York in recent days and wish to share their philosophy with the group.
If any of you have been bothered by the door-to-door types you know what is coming next… that’s right, a creepy conversion video!
The Invitation groupies make the rest of their dinner guests watch the Invitation sales pitch which involves a bunch of new age mumbo jumbo accompanied by the comforting images of a lady passing on into the embrace of death.
What I’m trying to get at is the movie is really weird.
They claim to not be forcing anyone to convert and that they just wanted to share their beliefs in a comforting setting and that the Invitation is totally not a cult. Will (and an intelligent viewer) suspects otherwise.
Here is where the review cannot continue for fear of ruining the Agatha Christie-esque plot that has several spoilers and twists that I cannot convey partially or hilariously for fear of giving away the plot.
Now onto the critical side of things: I watched this movie on a Sunday evening dreading work the next day, so maybe I wasn’t in the proper mindset or maybe Agatha Christie-esque movies are just not my version of a thriller. Either way, I thought it was a decent film but not the best mystery/ thriller I’ve ever seen.
At the very least it is worth a watch, but it probably won’t make a big splash in my overall home cinema when placed against other mystery/ thriller movies.
Literature in Review
Now onto the good part of this blog post. I recently finished John Boden’s novella Jedi Summer: With the Magnetic Kid and I have to tell you, like everyone else that has read it, I was blown away.
Jedi Summer is a snapshot into that long ago yesteryear that we all nostalgically long for… our childhoods. The novella reads differently than anything else I ‘ve ever read in this vein, almost like diary entries or excerpts from a journal, but there is no framing device other than it takes place during the summer of ‘83 and our main character (though it would remiss of me to say character as it is clearly Mr. Boden) tells us what is happening over his summer as he awaits the arrival of Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi to his local cinema.
Right away Mr. Boden grabs our attention with an almost lyrical prose that slapped a Snapchat filter onto my mental imagery to make it more 80’s (you know the filter I’m talking about and if you don’t, go and watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Karate Kid a few times) and just took me along for the ride.
Immediately, the story brings to mind all the things you remember in those hazy days of nostalgia: your friends goofing off around your house and listening to whatever new music struck your interest, talking about new movies, complaining about your overworked parents, and doing things that the rational part of your brain would now consider to be roughly on the same level as eating glue. All of this works to the novella’s advantage and keeps you hooked wondering how exactly this story is going to end.
There is plenty of surreal imagery and creepy happenings that pepper the story and Mr. Boden swears that all of it is true except for the parts that aren’t. I’ve heard that a lot of people have attempted to work out what was true and what was untrue, but as for myself, I haven’t even begun to try. There is something about the surrealistic/creepy moments that just ring true for the story and I personally don’t want to root out the truth from the embellishment because I feel that to do so would be to remove meaning from the narrative.
Because who among us doesn’t look back on our childhoods with embellishment? The harsh times and darkness slowly giving way to the gentle caress of long ago memories?
Moving, surreal, and gripping, Jedi Summer: With the Magnetic Kid is a stirring read for anyone who needs something to warm themselves in this swiftly descending autumn and author John Boden is someone I (and if you want to be too cool for school, YOU) will be reading from here on out.
Wile E. World News
So what hasn’t been on everyone’s mind but the Presidential Debate last week? I watched it live on my Facebook feed and attempted to keep my opinions to myself for fear of going the way of Socrates and being forced to drink poison hemlock for my controversial opinions on the matter.
Well, luckily and unluckily for all of you that read this, you get to hear them.
Tell you what, we will do this in the form of a game… we’ll pour the hemlock into two goblets and whichever one you feel you want to drink from then you go right ahead and do so.
- The Hillary Goblet: Here we have a politician so clearly corrupt that you probably couldn’t breathe the same air around her for fear of catching some of her dirt in your lungs. From her deleted emails, legally murky private server, and shady dealings (illegal trade, possible assassinations) across the world… so basically business as usual for the United States if not a little worse.
- The Trump Goblet: Here we have a politician/ businessman so clearly xenophobic that he has promised to build the Great Wall of America along with very vague answers on how exactly he is going to manage the myriad of other problems that face the nation.
Now then, which poison would you like to choose from?
From my perspective, only a great fool would drink from the Trump Goblet, I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not drink from that goblet.
But they must have known I was not a great fool and would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the Hillary Goblet.
Herein lies the great lie of U.S. politics… that we have two choices. Well we do in fact have more, there is such a thing as the third party and at this point I feel like it is the best decision.
I don’t agree with everything Gary Johnson says and do I think he is some kind of political extraordinaire? No, in fact I do not… from what I can tell no one really likes everything he says and that might be why he is the best option, if no one else is.
We have been taught to struggle against each other Left vs. Right, Blue Vs. Red, Black vs. White… instead we should learn to walk the middle ground and learn from each other, to come together and bring about true change and to make a true difference in the world Because in my experience two arms functioning together is better than one arm having to carry everything alone.
I will not drink from either cup this November; I’ve spent a lifetime developing an immunity to this poison and while I know that the cup of water I drink from won’t be served to the masses post-Election, I’ll rest assured that there are others like me out there trying to bring real change to this nation even if I never live to see it.
As for the rest of you, choose your drink carefully; you’ll have to live with it for at least four years.
I remembered that I had to write this section about 5 minutes after I finished the news because I promised all of you and what not. Not to mention the fact that my conscience (which takes the form of Ernest Hemingway screaming “The Government spies on your mail!” and “Take the curly fries out of your mouth and write, hippo!”) would simply not leave me be until I did so.
So here we go.
Interstate Eldritch: My newest novel project which is currently sitting pretty at 7,500 words. I started it just under a week ago and the inspiration has been continually flowing for it since. It is certainly going to be my most off-the-wall novel yet.
The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic Hawaii that has come under siege from an indescribable monster that drives people to madness when it walks out of the sea every evening. While not the Great Cthulhu himself, I was very much inspired by the Big C.
My main characters are a pair of Bullet Runners; gunrunners who make a living delivering weapons to the various factions that have sprung up in the monster’s wake; Laughing Jack Wade and his partner, an insane clown named Giggles.
My working premise for it was Mad Max meets Cthulhu. I’m aiming for a post-apocalyptic feel with a severe horror overtone for it… more updates to come of course. Until then I’m going to go insane on the Eldritch Road.
The 13th Sign: A space opera co-project with military science fiction author Seth Eaves. This novel is the first of a trilogy that will tie into two separate projects (one written solely by him and the other solely by myself). It revolves around a trip through a massive alien artifact that transports the exploratory forces of a future earth to a far-flung area of the galaxy ruled by a Dynasty of Alien Overlords modeled after the signs of the Western Zodiac.
Or, should I say, the Zodiac Signs were named after them.
Unnamed Horror Short Story: I can’t say much about this project yet other than it is for Disquieted Dreams Press’ anthology In Our Bodies, and will involve some amount of body horror.
Salvation Run: Originally a short story which is swiftly turning into a novella, it is another space opera story that is a loose tie-in to the above 13th Sign. The plot is loosely my own retelling of Dante Alieghieri’s Inferno but IN SPACE.
The Stars Shine Red: A murder mystery/ thriller based in the Texas Panhandle. It’s basically my attempt at creating a No Country For Old Men style novel with (of course) my own horrific twists and turns. I don’t want to say much about the plot for fear of giving anything away, but I will say this: don’t expect to learn my viewpoint character’s name. To myself and to you and to everyone else he will simply be… the Writer.
So fans, if you’re still with me after this I’ll try to get Part 2 of the WHC story up as soon as possible. Until then the Roadrunner is charging down the Eldritch Road and I have to give chase… going to catch it this time I think.