Thursday, November 04, 2004

TV: The Wire

Yesterday was a strange day. Everyone seemed to be drawn inward, weighing the results of the election, contemplating the future. I was in a good solid funk myself.

Then I turned on this week’s episode of THE WIRE. An hour later, the fog had lifted. Spending time in the company of characters I’ve come to know so well was all I needed to right my equilibrium. It demonstrates the power of narrative, which Jack O’Connell describes so movingly in this piece.

Book: The Box, by Peter Rabe (1962)

The best way to get back in the crime fiction swing is to turn to older material. This novel makes up half of a Stark House Noir reprint. It’s got a crackerjack premise. A crate is opened in a dusty North African town. Inside is Quinn, a one-time Mafia lawyer being shipped around the world for his sins. Quinn seizes the opportunity to set up a new racket, only to realize that one way or another, he’s always going to be trapped in that box. Donald Westlake cites Rabe as a major influence, and you can clearly see why. Lean writing, with nary a wasted word.

The other day I was browsing in a used book store and found a novel based on the TV series MANNIX by J.T. MacCargo. It turns out that MacCargo was actually Peter Rabe. If I’d known that, I’d have bought it.

DVD: Laserblast (1978)

I saw this at the Astoria Quad, double-billed with Christopher Lee in THE END OF THE WORLD. A teenage outcast with the chronic inability to button his shirt finds an alien ray gun. He uses it to smite his enemies, unaware that the aliens are hunting for the weapon – and that every time he fires it, he mutates a little more.

This played a lot better when I was ten. But David Allen’s stop-motion aliens look as cool as I remembered.