Monday, March 8, 2021

WandaVision, Washington Post, Wrong

I loved Sonny Bunch’s March 8 Washington Post opinion piece on the finale of Disney’s WandaVison, despite the fact that he’s totally wrong about villainy, darkness and the purpose of entertainment. That last bit, purpose, is not discussed nearly enough. It also elevates WandaVision above fan bickering to more substantive debate about the strata of art.

Spoiler Alert – I’m writing about the end here, people.

Bunch’s point makes perfect sense: SWORD acting director Tyler Hayward was right to send a drone, and then White Vision (Cataract for you old school fans) to kill Wanda. She had mentally kidnapped and tortured thousands of people for what could be months. Wanda is the real villain, Hayward the real hero. This makes Monica Rambeau’s forgiveness of Wanda cowardly and depreciates the show’s daring look at grief.

So why is the audience encouraged to view Hayward as a villain? Because he is.

Hayward never wants to save the people of Westview, NJ. He lies and bullies his staff and outright assaults those he can’t control because control is his ultimate goal. He wants a sentient weapon and Wanda stands in his way. He never struggles over his decision to use lethal force, he conceals it. When Monica pleads with him for time, for a chance to avoid violence, he dismissed her. He wants power and people of Westview are incidental.

Now that doesn’t exactly absolve Wanda, but I disagree that the writers took the easy way out. They made sure both Wanda and viewers were confronted with the horrors Wanda wrought. “If you won’t let us go, just let us die,” Sharon (Debra Jo Rupp) begs of the witch. The morsels of true tragedy are mixed in throughout the show. Along with flying and punching and energy blasts and car crashes.

As it should be. WandaVision’s only mistake was being TOO good. The wily, imaginative step through a young woman’s grief process was so engaging it made us forget that it was first a show about superheroes. Entertainment. It should be celebrated for raising that art form, making it more tangible, all while casting the kind of spells that led us to watch to begin with, not scolded for falling short of Hamlet.

Art has layers. Art does different things at different times. I applaud WandaVision for doing many things at once. It was magical.

Friday, February 19, 2021

To Be Read

Untouchable is now on Gina Rae Mitchell's read list. Which is kind of a big deal for me. She was intrigued by the cover blurb. One never knows if those things work or not, so it's quite refreshing to hear had some impact. Of course, that means I didn't hear from people for whom it did not work, but I prefer, when it comes to my books, to be a that-glass-is-gonna-be-filled-again-real-soon kind of guy.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Listen to Nina


The second best Martineck writer has a story out in the new Havok Podcast. Check it out, if you like things that are cozy, creepy and designed to make you smile.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

The Pull of Picasso

A work of art can lead you by invisible rein. I first saw Boy Leading a Horse by Pablo Picasso (oil on canvas, 1906) at the Albright Knox art gallery, in Buffalo NY. It was part of the traveling William S. Paley exhibit that opened on my birthday in 1995. While Paley was building the Columbia Broadcasting System, he amassed an art collection so intriguing and substantive that it warranted a good showing before being splintered off into the world’s foster homes for art.

I got lucky. The whole exhibition dripped with monumental works of art, including works by C├ęzanne, Degas, Matisse, and Renoir, but turning a corner and seeing this thing - Boy. I can still see it more than 25 years later.

Paley acquired Boy in 1936 and never sold it. He must have liked it, too. According to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Mendlessohn-Bartholdy family, the relatives of composure Felix Mendelssohn also liked it very much and only sold it at the insistence of the Nazi party. The painting’s first owners (after the gallery that briefly held it) were Leo Stein and his sister, Gertrud – writer, art lover and matron of the Lost Generation. I don’t know why they parted with it, but they kept it for nearly 20 years.

So a long tether connects my book Untouchable with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Lewis, Pound and Wilder. A continuance of inspiration.

I knew none of this when I first saw the piece. Didn’t know its name, nor its famous painter. All I knew was stature and color and power. It pulled me and held me; it led me through my last novel. Like I was a horse.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Just out today, Part III of the Knowers series: The Duplicity. I love this series, and this book in particular, because all of the characters are forced to work together, despite their relative animosities or amorosities. The fact that everyone's super smart makes the awkwardness and struggles that much more pointed. Very fun, from my second favorite author.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021


Today, my new novel is officially out on the street. Or up on shelves. Or ready to be cradled in a cardboard box with little plastic pillows and delivered to your home, a new born novel. 

Untouchable is about FBI Special Agent Leah Capello, a member of the Bureau's Art Crime Team and the underside of the New York art world. And it's about her relationship with Joshua Fawls, who claims to be an art expert, seems a little psychic and is probably, more than likely, a conman. The book was inspired by a quote from the artist Edgar Degas: Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. Just like the perfect crime. 

You will love it more than the year 2020. Promise.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Retiring Unprecedented

Numbers get retired all the time. When an athlete does something exceptional their number gets hoisted on a banner, never to be used again. Take Jackie Roosevelt Robinson, for instance. Not only the first Black player in Major League Baseball, but a six-time all star in a ten-year career. Jackie was everywhere and did everything. He was so good that after 1997, no baseball player gets to wear 42. And not just Dodgers. It’s the only number to be taken out of circulation by the whole league.

Jackie Robinson was unprecedented. After 2020, no one should use that word any more, either. Unprecedented should be retired. No, it didn’t shatter the color barrier or bat .342, but it did so much work this year it deserves a break. Send it to a beach. Let it fish. A quick look at Google shows searches for the world increased ten-fold in March of this year. From COVID to the machinations of the Trump administration, the word got used like a lighter at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. Let’s put it out. I’m sick of it, myself. It has been nearly impossible to make it through a news cycle without hearing it over and over to the point of lost power. In 2020 unprecedented became the “new normal” (which is next on my list.)

Everything is, in a way, unprecedented. Nothing with a human hand in it happens exactly the same way twice. If you want me care about the abnormal – donning masks in public, a loser that refuses to concede, a parade with no spectators watching the bands go by – tell me why in more than one word. Especially when that word is really, really tired.