Tuesday, January 26, 2010


...comes in many forms.

For me, a lot of it is associated with TV shows, movies, food and travel.

But reading - it has become a luxury I can ill afford, given my work schedule and other commitments. But when I get bitten by the bug, the need must be satisfied.

So as my People and Time magazines pile up, and my sleep cycle gets turned upside down, I draw immense pleasure from the fact that I've found yet another fabulous author to whom I can declare my undying loyalty. :)

I'm talking about Jeff Lindsay.

After watching the excellent Dexter series for the last couple of years, I finally decided to read Dexter In The Dark because it's the only novel that features a storyline which was not covered in the TV adaptation.

But Lindsay's proven to be such an amazing writer that I'm game to backtrack and read his earlier works despite knowing how they end, just so I can savour more of his exceptional prose.

He's really that good. Believe me.

"Although it was slightly dimmer here, the parking lot was still far too bright for me, almost too bright even to see the moon, although I could feel it there in the sky, smirking down on our tiny squirming fragile life, festooned as it was with monsters who lived only to take that life away in large, pain-filled mouthfuls."

This is taken from Chapter 4, and just one of many other memorable lines scattered throughout Lindsay's prose.

As you can see, the general tone is a cynical one. And what I love about the novel is the rich detail it provides, especially where the inner workings of Dexter's mind are concerned.

Watching 3 entire seasons of the TV series doesn't even measure up to reading a mere few chapters of the book. This is because a viewer naturally gets caught up in the criminal investigation, with only the occasional voiceover to describe Dexter's stream of thought.

Despite being a hard-cover edition with only 300 pages, the amount of information crammed into this relatively slim volume is mind-boggling. Not only do you learn about Dexter's Method, you also get cozy with those around him, especially his foster sister, Deborah ( a Miami PD detective ), his fiancee, Rita, and her 2 young children, Astor and Cody.

Deborah ( or Debs ) is one of the best female characters I've ever encountered in written form. She's extremely foul-mouthed and short-tempered, but Lindsay manages to use her mannerisms to great comic effect. Her interactions with Dexter are side-splitting, and made me realize how casting Jennifer Carpenter was a stroke of genius ( as was putting Michael C. Hall in the lead role ).

Astor and Cody also receive lots of attention compared to their fleeting appearances on the small screen. I just love their quirky personality traits and dark, revealing moments. Little wonder Dexter is already planning a training programme so they can follow in his footsteps!

"I looked down at S____, taped to the table with his unlovely face hanging open, and I thought, as I never had before, this is what we all are. This it what it comes to. A bag of meat that breathes, and when that stops, nothing but rotting garbage."

Another memorable quote, chosen because I was so struck by this observation which has crossed my mind numerous times ever since my own cynicism peaked about a decade ago.
There're many others worth mentioning, but this is by far my favourite of the lot.

Dexter's sardonic brand of humour is infectious, and he effortlessly dissects ( mentally and physically, heh ) every person he meets, picking up little verbal and visual cues that point to his/her insecurities, before exploiting them to his own advantage.

He describes himself as an "artificial human" devoid of any genuine emotion, but well-trained by his late foster father, a Miami PD veteran, on how to disguise himself as a normal human being. Oddly enough, I still find him very appealing. Perhaps his frequently hilarious comments have something to do with it. They're laugh-out-loud funny. :D

Of course, the beautiful characterizations take nothing away from the core content - a serial killer who targets college students, offing them in a ritualistic manner reminiscent of demon worship during King Solomon's era.

And I haven't even elaborated on the Dark Passenger - an inner voice which guides Dexter in his criminal investigations and, more importantly, murderous vigilantism.

Woooo.... :)

I still have another 60 pages to go. Will try to post another entry once I reach the finale.


I just HAD to stick the exclamation point right in there. :)

This wonderful show finally began its run on local cable last Wednesday, and I am absolutely ecstatic.

Far from being labelled another High School Musical, this hugely enjoyable series sprang from the delightfully twisted mind of Ryan Murphy, who's best known for Nip/Tuck.

The pilot episode moved a little too swiftly, but I'll probably get used to the frenetic pace. What I most look forward to is the music!

Already compiled into 2 soundtrack albums - yet omitting a few choice songs, like a rollicking cover of Duffy's Mercy ( available on free MP3 sites, thankfully ) - the best things about the Glee cast's cover versions are the arrangements and vocal delivery.

These aren't actors who sing. They're singers who act. Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison, in particular, hail from Broadway ( Michele was the female lead in the Tony Award-winning Spring Awakening, which I missed when I was in New York in 2007 and still kick myself over to this day, argh! ). I loved the Spring album recording from the opening number, which happens to feature Michele belting her heart out. And she continues to dazzle with her soaring performances of everything from Les Miserables' On My Own, to Celine Dion'sTaking Chances, and R&B hits No Air and Take A Bow.

I downloaded Glee's digital soundtrack albums over the weekend, and have been hitting repeat on a few songs, namely the Don't Stand So Close To Me / Young Girl mash-up, Lean On Me, Smile, and Endless Love.

The studio recording of Endless Love is tonnes better than the Lionel Richie / Diana Ross original. And turns out Matthew Morrison ( who plays the Glee club coach ) has the most exquisite voice. Even my mom asked about him when I played this on the car stereo.

There's a short video clip here, but it ruins the beauty of the song, so be prepared.

What I love most, though, is the unabashed, exuberant celebration of music, and its application to life's myriad situations. We all have sentimental attachments to songs that hold special meaning, whether to a certain person or event. Glee's repertoire spans generations and is presented with so much heartfelt emotion you'd have to be made of stone not to feel something when you listen.

I also like to sing along when driving alone in my car. It's very cathartic. :)

Well-deserved wins at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Next, the Emmys!

( And please get Jersey Boys star, John Lloyd Young, to guest star in a recurring role. He's phenomenal! )

Another show keeping me glued to the TV screen: The World's Greatest Musical Prodigies, airing every Saturday night on Biography.

Showcasing some of the globe's most talented young musicians, it is a fascinating documentary which also provides dramatic twists, notably in Episode 2, where a tough fight between 4 astounding pianists produces a frontrunner, yet culminates in a victory for the underdog.

I say "underdog" because this child is clearly the poorest of the lot, living in a tiny apartment with only one breadwinner in the family. He hardly speaks during group interactions, and played a very strange piece during his stage audition. I considered him a long shot, especially when compared to the confident Hong Konger who displayed a natural gift for improvisation. So I was extremely moved when Alex Prior picked him for his ensemble, demonstrating maturity way beyond his tender age. A happy ending indeed!

Before I sign off, a link to Matthew Morrison YouTube vids, in which he shows off his pipes on pieces from Broadway musicals. I LOVE Younger Than Springtime from South Pacific! And I didn't realize he was in the original cast for Hairspray - he played Link Larkin, and I own this album!
And don't miss his fantastic duet with Kristin Chenoweth on Alone - much better than Heart's original solo version! Plus It Takes Two from Hairspray!

Okay, time to return to Earth. :)


Bovine Intervention said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I managed to find a copy of Darkly Dreaming Dexter in a local library.

I can definitely appreciate the humor. The characters are really well done. Dexter's thoughts about other people are also generally interesting and sometimes amusing.

But when it goes to describe Dexter's inner state and Dark Passenger, the book becomes a big bore.

spacefan said...

Thanks for the comment. I agree the Dark Passenger bits are a little long-winded, but they're few and far between in Dexter In The Dark.

The finale for DITD was a bit of a let-down in certain aspects, but there's a plot development involving Cody which I thought was a nice touch, though not in an exactly good way. :)