Category : TV

I Spy

I love a good spy story, from John Le Carre’s classic “Smiley” books to my latest read, Joseph Kanon’s Leaving Berlin. One of my favorite current tv shows is “The Americans,” a story of embedded Russian spies during the Cold War.

Not even the scariest “Dexter” episode gets me on edge as much as a good “drop” scene. Will the spy be caught by a slip of the tongue? Because his wig falls off? Because her FBI-agent neighbor inadvertently catches her radioing her handler? No Internet hacking story is as thrilling.

Every scene in a spy book or a movie or tv show has the potential for a disastrous outing.

Old-fashioned as it is, here’s a list of “Moscow Rules,” said to have been developed by the CIA for spies working in Moscow during the Cold War. The list varies, but here’s a version I like. Tell me if this doesn’t apply to all areas of life and love!

  1. Assume nothing.
  2. Never go against your gut.
  3. Everyone is potentially under opposition control.
  4. Don’t look back; you’re never completely alone.
  5. Blend in.
  6. Vary your pattern and stay within your cover.
  7. Lull them into a sense of complacency.
  8. Don’t harass the opposition.
  9. Pick the time and place for action.
  10. Keep your options open.

So, would you make a good spy?

Turn on the TV!

Meme for the day: Reading is overrated.

I’m talking about reading for reading’s sake, turning the greatest number of pages, racking up the largest number of index cards with mini book reports on them. The latter is a common way of holding competitions in schools and libraries.

One local school recently had a bigger-than-life wooden thermometer on its front lawn. It was called a READING thermometer, with numbers representing books read by the students. Each class had a different color and charted the number of books read by the students in that class. And, you guessed it, the class that read the most books got a prize.

Yes, it was a competition—and, regardless of content, the number of books was all that mattered. “Every book read,” said one teacher in an interview, “is an hour away from TV.”

By this reasoning, a second grader reading a mindless book about, say, dancing dinos, was better off than one watching a TV special on the komodo dragon. And a child turning 600 pages of a fantasy novel is better off than one watching a 20-minute YouTube video on the formation of bubbles in a liquid. I don’t think so.

It’s a misconception to think of reading as “active” and TV as “passive.” What could be less active than sitting in a chair or on a rock, the only muscles moving being those of a finger turning a page (or sliding across a screen) or a jaw munching a pretzel? If what’s on the page isn’t truly engaging, it might as well be crepe paper.

I’m happy that many bookstores now have larger children’s sections than adult stacks, but I’d give anything to vet those books and toss the ones that would be better replaced by a video section or even crepe paper.

TV or Not TV?

DruAnn Love (in purple) moderates a panel on crafts and fiction

Back from Bouchercon, mytery conference in Long Beach. Estimated 1800 people attending, about 700 of them crime fiction authors. Panel after panel populated by writers (like the one above) and what was my favorite? A panel of TV people—the producer, actors, and writers of the TV show Major Crimes. The ballroom was filled with fans, like me, cheering when a small hint of a scoop was dropped (there might be a spin off with Provenza and Flynn). You’d think Provenza and Flynn were household names as applause erupted.

Can’t help it—stories that come to life on the television screen can grab me like no other.

A TV addict should never marry a television engineer. It’s like a giving an alcoholic a job as a bartender. OK, it worked for Sam Malone on Cheers, but that was fiction.

My name is Camille M., and I’m addicted to TV. Preparing this blog, I was shocked to learn just how serious my addiction is. Never mind that I pretend it’s research that every crime fiction writer needs to do; it’s embarrassing.

The Can’t Miss Shows, roughly in order:

1. “Homeland,” it’s like having “24” back, with slightly less torture.

2. “Ray Donovan,” because who doesn’t love a Fixer with a Boston accent?

3. “Hawaii 5-0,” to pretend James Caan is back, and therefore, so is The Godfather.

4. “Revenge,” because I’m Italian and need a good laugh.

5. “Criminal Minds,” for the philosophical wisdom as they fly to the scene.

6. “Law & Order, SVU,” because it’s the only L&O left.

7. “The Good Wife,” because now and then I need a courtroom.

8. “Major Crimes,” because now I’ve met the writers.

9. “Blue Bloods,” in spite of Tom Selleck, who still SIGHs as if he’s Jesse Stone.

10. “Covert Affairs,” for Annie’s Manolo Blahniks.

11. “White Collar,” because it’s set in New York.

And let’s not forget

12. Reruns of “Flashpoint,” for Hugh Dillon.

13. “Blacklist,” for James Spader.

I’m lucky I don’t like comedies, even when crimes are involved (ix-nay on “Castle” and the like). Won’t watch talk shows; vampires; fantasies; reality shows; or any dancing or singing amateur talent. (I got that last category out of my system with Ted Mack.)

In case you’re wondering how I manage watching all these shows: my TV engineer husband’s latest achievement is providing the means (schematic on request) to record 16 different shows simultaneously. It’s a wonder we have room in the house for books.