Netflix’s Dirk Gently Series Is the Strangest Thing

Most fans of science fiction books and television shows are at least aware of the contributions of such British notaries as Douglas Adams, famed author of the “Hitchhiker’s Guide” series, and the quality shows produced by the BBC network and BBC America. This past weekend saw the second season premier of “Dirk Gently,” based on some of Adams’ lesser known but equally memorable characters. Check it out, and don’t worry if the plot seems hard to follow-it will all make sense in the end.

Superior Realities

Being a long-time Douglas Adams fan (as you all should be), I was excited to see a TV adaptation of his novel Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency appear on Netflix and started watching almost immediately.

The logo for Netflix's adaptation of Dirk Gently's Holistic AgencyIt didn’t blow me away out of the gate, though. It was a strange, confusing show that didn’t seem to have much to do with the Dirk Gently story I know. I almost gave up on the show after the first two episodes, but something about it stuck with me, and I decided to give it another shot.

This turned out to be a good call.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is a very, very strange show. Far stranger than I have the ability to adequately communicate through a mere blog post, and almost certainly the strangest television show I’ve ever seen.

It’s also almost entirely unlike the book it’s supposedly based upon. Really the…

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It’s Finally Here!

I couldn’t wait to announce the release of my first book at long last!  Thanks to all those who have faithfully followed me during the course of this journey.  I would never have made it without you.  So here it is, finally:

Virtual: Can you be sure what's real? by [Caudill, Amy]

https://goo.gl/jphMpW

Virtual is the story of a woman who is only looking for a little excitement when signing up to help test a new virtual reality game world.  Along the way she stumbles across a sinister plot and discovers she is capable of more than she ever imagined.  Please check it out on Amazon Kindle.

How to Survive if You Find Yourself in a Horror Movie

Zombie Beard
Photo credit: scottnj via Foter.com / CC BY

There are those who pride themselves on being prepared for worst-case scenarios.  They create hideouts, put away supplies, and plan for the end of the world.  However, if the worst were to come, and you found yourself in a situation that seemingly jumped off the silver screen straight into your backyard, what would you do?

Here are some survival tips gleamed from decades of horror films, that surprisingly may also have real life applications for when things are a little less frantic:

Stay with the group.  There are times for independence, and then there are times when common sense dictates that you should not go into the woods alone.  Ditto for the abandoned house, the abandoned factory, or even the bathhouse on the other side of the clearing.  Anyone who has ever seen a slasher film from Friday the 13th to Scream knows what happens if you fail to follow this most important protocol.

Never let them hear you scream.  Standing out from the crowd may sometimes be appropriate, but if zombies or killer clowns are after you, it may well be the last thing you ever do.  Whenever you find yourself in deadly danger, the last thing you want to do is raise your voice so the monsters know exactly where you are.

 Silhouette of man holding crowbar
Photo credit: Foter.com

Don’t lay down your arms.  Never let go of weapons, artifacts, or wooden stakes until you are one hundred percent sure the monster is irretrievably dead.  Don’t allow your only defense to be turned against you.

Don’t lose your focus.    Don’t allow anything to get you sidetracked.  Be constantly aware of your surroundings, because distractions can get you killed.  Never get cocky or let down your guard until the danger is passed.

Don’t invite strangers into your house.  Perhaps the vampires or ghouls can only enter with your permission.  In this day and age, it’s just common sense to take precautions about who you allow into your space.  If you someone unexpected comes to your door, check their id, and see if they have fangs or are carrying weapons, before you decide to allow them entry.

Listen to the professionals.  If a scholar/professor/expert tells you not to touch something-listen.  Don’t get into a situation that is over your head.  Don’t read from the Book of the Dead or open Pandora’s Box, and for goodness sake, don’t open the mummy’s sarcophagus.

Appearances can be deceiving.  Don’t underestimate anyone.  Don’t make assumptions without facts.  That harmless looking stranger /young innocent/damsel in distress could be more than you think.  Remember, whether good or bad, big things can hide in small packages and plain sight.

Plan ahead.  Make preparations, do research, check your facts, and if possible, have backup.  The worst situations often look different in the light of day, so a second perspective can often be useful, especially for baddies allergic to sunlight.  Don’t allow yourself to be eaten simply because of a lack of organization. Take time to consider before you act, and make sure you are making the best choice.

Hopefully none of this audience will ever be impacted by such cataclysmic events, but should the worst occur, and the end of the world is near, remember that movies have educated us to deal with these situations, and just do what the survivors do.

Till next time,

Amy

 

 

 

 

This is Halloween

Fellow blogger Kiersten shares her thoughts on classic and family friendly Halloween faves in books and media.

Once Upon a Spine

I know I’ve already said this before, but…you guys…Halloween is coming! 😀 I’ve already started putting out decorations and have been working on my costumes since August. I’m so excited!

In honor of  this glorious and festive time of the year I feel like I need to put some Fall/Halloween themed entertainment into my repertoire this month. I’m typically not big on super scary things (because I’m a weenie), but I’ve still found plenty of books/shows over the years that appropriately fit the occasion.

These are a few of my favorites:

2213661The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – A little boy that grows up in a graveyard, raised by the ghosts that reside there. It doesn’t get more Halloween appropriate than that. (Side note: I have a slight obsession with cemeteries, especially old ones. This always feels like the perfect time of year to go traipsing among the headstones.)

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How to Draw Them In: Maintaining a Close Relationship with Grown Children

Group

Photo credit: Luke Stearns via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

We all know how important it is to spend quality time as a family.  Time spent bonding with children is vital to helping foster a close relationship between parents, children, and siblings. No one can deny there are emotional benefits to all members involved, but how do we keep those bonds in place as children grow up and start their own independent lives?

As much as parents might dread it, kids do have to grow up; they will go to college, move out of the house, and begin lives of their own that are separate from those of the family unit.  Thought they hopefully will continue to visit or call, eventually they will have another home and that will be the center of their focus.  This is where the original family unit either must evolve, or wither.  Parents must be willing to embark on a new type of relationship with their adult children.

Accept their independence.

Parents cannot stop their children from growing up; they must choose to accept their independence or risk permanent damage to their relationships.  The rules must change; for one the parents will no longer be in charge of all the decisions.  Adult children need to feel respected as that-adults.  Adult children will want and need to be able to make their own choices.

Parents must learn to allow adult children to make those choices, as well as some inevitable mistakes.  The time for protecting them from the whole world is over, and though it is hard to let go, the “kids” will appreciate that the decisions they make are truly their own. That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t accept advice, as long as the parents offer it without trying to control every situation.    If the parents are lucky, the kids may even realize the adults are wiser than they believed during their teenage years.

Give major decisions a voice.

Whenever a decision must be made for the family as a whole, involve adult children in the decision making process.  Whether the issue is a shared family vacation or choosing healthcare options for an elderly member who is incapacitated, the younger adults will appreciate having their opinions heard.  Perhaps they will contribute an idea or argument that older members of the family haven’t considered.  Sharing concerns, and decisions, as a family of adults, will allow those relationships to continue and be strengthened.

Cultivate shared interests.

One of the easiest ways to stay close to adult children is to spend time pleasurable time together.  The activities the family used for “quality time” when children were young may or may not still be appropriate once everyone is considered an adult, so find activities and passions that can be shared now.  Do parents and adult children share a mutual love for certain activities like hiking, working puzzles, cooking or reading?  Find things that everyone can enjoy, either for the entire group or smaller sub-groups, and make time to do those things together.

If regular meetings are difficult to schedule, at least find time to talk about hobbies or joint interests, be it over dinner once a week or a skype call.   If adult children live too far away to visit regularly make the most of the time you have.  Also, consider rotating who hosts the group for family dinners, get-togethers, and weekend trips.

Remember, maintaining a deep family relationship requires work, but is always worthwhile.

Amy

Amy Caudill’s Reviews > Real Murders

Real Murders by Charlaine Harris
Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden #1) 
by Charlaine Harris (Goodreads Author)

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Amy Caudill‘s review

Aurora “Roe” Teagarden lives a seemingly ordinary small-town life. Beneath her pleasant appearance and demeanor, though, she harbors Nancy Drew-like instincts and a nose for trouble.
Roe possesses a passion for real-crime stories, which she shares with a small local club called Real Murders. The group meets regularly to discuss historical murders- the weapons, the suspects, the victims, the motives- and dissect every detail, sometimes sharing an original theory or two. So naturally, when one of their own is found dead at the meeting hall, it doesn’t take long to recognize the act as an imitation of another crime, or wonder which of them could have something to hide.
This was the first of Charlaine Harris’ books that I’ve read, and I enjoyed it very much. The plot proceeded in a organic fashion, and seemed to grow so that the smallest seemingly insignificant detail was shown to hold meaning by the end of the book.
I decided to also watch the Hallmark movie channel movie based on this book, and thought the contrast between book and cable-ready movie was fascinating. Naturally there were changes, most of which seemed to be “taming down” the book’s action to a more family friendly episode, as the villains in the novel were far more insidious than those presented on the small screen.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery, or simply anyone enamored by a strong, independent heroine.

Be Actively Positive

 

There is still much that is good in this world; it may not be readily apparent at times, in fact it may be downright obscure or completely hidden.  Truthfully there is much to be pessimistic about today-one simply needs to check out the news to see stories about recent natural disasters, not to mention ongoing terrorism, war, politics and the economy.

Most of us have probably met someone who seems to radiate negativity with every breath they take; who drains all the joy from a room just by entering. Being forced to spend much time around such an unhappy person can have adverse effects on the emotional and even physical health of their audience.

What we desperately need to retain our outlook, our optimism, and our sanity, is to seek out that which is positive around us.  By looking around for this hidden gold we can find reasons to be happy even through the most depressing or worrisome events:

  • While life will never be perfect or free from stress or strife, we can be thankful for all the simple things in our life; if we wake up in the morning in a secure home, with a comfortable bed, and have food available to eat, we have found something positive in our day.
  • Each day we get to spend with loved ones, be they family by blood or choice, or close friends, we are experiencing a positive event.
  • Whenever we are privileged to see the power of nature, such as the amazing eclipse many of us recently witnessed, that is another positive.
  • Whenever we get the chance to witness or participate in kindness shared with others, such as volunteering or charity for those in need, it is a positive thing.
  • Whenever we or someone we care for is found to be healthy or recovering from a devastating injury or illness, it is a very big positive in our day.
  • Every day that we can in some way enhance, enrich, or create joy in the lives of those around us, is definitely a positive accomplishment.

All of these positive things together may not always balance out the negative that we face, but they do make a difference; they give us reason to hold on and hope for the future.  Sometimes all we can do is hold on to the positives, so that all the negativity and pain and hatred do not overwhelm us.  By actively seeking out the positives in our day, we can refresh the spirit of optimism, both in ourselves and in those around us.

Here’s to filling our lives with positive thoughts, and turning those into positive actions.

Amy

Hurricane Harvey – How You Can Help

My heart goes out to all those still in need after the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey. Fellow blogger Nicholas Rossis shared this post about those willing to help and links to groups taking legitimate donations of aid.

Nicholas C. Rossis

Hurricane | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Image: http://www.alexstemmer.com via GraphicStock

Deborah Carney of BookGoodies often shares on their newsletters some of the best news and tidbits you’ve read on this blog. Back in 2012, she lost everything in Hurricane Sandy. This taught her a lot about how organizations and the government don’t help the way you think they will. So, Hurricane Harvey now prompted her to compile and share a list of organizations that are dedicated to helping people directly affected. They are “boots on the ground” and not tying your donations up in administrative costs and funding things that don’t really help.

For her, a group of people created a campaign similar to what GoFundMe is now and people all over the world sent money directly through PayPal. She used that money to rent a car and go out once the roads were open, to get supplies and even simply to get a fast food…

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Our Zombies, Ourselves: An Undead Reading List

As school children, department stores, and garden centers make preparations for the season ahead, our thoughts turn to cooler evenings and falling leaves. This coming season always inspires me to indulge in my love of horror characters, including those undead antagonists,zombies. To learn more about these frightful fantasies, check out this post by Longreads author Erin Blakemore.

Longreads

When you think of zombies, it’s likely you envision something like the flesh-eating, immortal creatures created by George Romero, who defined a new genre of horror with Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Thanks to Romero, who died this week at the age of 77, the zombie movie has become more than a chance to feel scared. It’s also an essential lens through which we can view pop culture, politics, and society. In honor of the great director, here is some our favorite writing about the terror of the living dead.

1.“Why Black Heroes Make Zombie Stories More Interesting,” by Matt Thompson (NPR Code Switch, October 2013)

One of Romero’s most famous narrative coups was casting a black actor as the hero of his 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead. It was a decision that turned a run-of-the-mill horror movie into a…

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Alien Invaders, Mutant Sharks and Ghost Encounters: Why We Can’t Get Enough

It’s late at night or an unexpected day off.  We have a million things we should be doing, or we should simply be catching up on sleep.  Instead, we’re flipping through the channel guide and tuning in to something we can’t actually believe, and not sure we want to admit, to wanting to watch.  It has aliens, ghosts, sharks, zombies, or maybe just a natural disaster escalated by toxic waste.

Even as we settle in, we’re perhaps questioning ourselves why are we watching this?  Surely we could find a better use of our time, or even a just a better show.  The answer is simple: this special brand of brain candy fills needs we can’t easily do so elsewhere.

Day 90 - Couch Potato
EntPhoto credit: DaGoaty via Foter.com / CC BYer a caption

The need to recapture our lost childhood.

When we tune in to a mindless melodrama or a mockumentary about the paranormal or science fiction we are simply getting reacquainted with the people who once loved sitting around a campfire telling ghost stories, or doing the same with a best friend under the sheets with a flashlight.  We are remembering that sense of wonder we once possessed, that innocence we had, when the world was a magical place that we couldn’t wait to explore and experience.

That part of us still lives on, but is sometimes starved for attention by the needs and responsibilities of adult life.  We need to take time for the part of our minds and hearts that still dreams, and optimistically hopes to find a lost castle or pirate ship hidden in the woods behind our homes.  We crave to cultivate that sense of fantasy, and if a favorite television show or movie or book can help that along, we can make time for it.

The need for sheer escapism.

Along with the need to recapture our youth sometimes we just need to lose ourselves in another world, or another life.  We can imagine ourselves exploring alien landscapes, facing a radiation-fed super predator in the Amazon, or finding the key to a haunted house that hides a treasure.

We can indulge in sheer fantasy for a time to alleviate stress, boredom, or simply imagine ourselves as different people, in a world outside the mundane.  Experts tell us that fantasizing can actually be good for us ;that as long as we don’t try to substitute fantasy for reality in our actual lives, that “escaping” can help us to be more creative, more productive, and happier people.

The need of vicarious thrills.

It’s okay for fictional characters to experience any kind of horror as long as we can watch from the security of our couches or beds.  We know in our hearts what we’re seeing is not real, but we get an adrenalin kick just the same from allowing ourselves to live in the moment.  There is a special kind of thrill that comes from watching something bad happen to someone on the screen, and knowing in the back of our minds that though we may jump when the villain pops out and scream our heads off, that he can’t really touch us.

We watch as hapless victims are turned into test subjects or eaten alive by zombies or possessed by ghosts and are glad it’s not us.  We imagine ourselves confronted by the terrors and dangers that the heroes of the small screen face in such shows as Paranormal Encounters, or Sharknado 1-5, and suddenly our own lives don’t seem bad at all.  We feel more alive, more secure, and more content with our own lives knowing that we’ve witnessed these experiences but will not have to live them.

So the next time you find yourself with a little down time, don’t feel guilty for indulging in your favorite show.  Remember, watching may actually be good for you.

Amy