Month: August 2016

Another Body Snatcher Tale? Close…

Welcome to the Invasion of the Body Snatchers with Vampires!

Oh, yes, those are combined for a reason. The latest–I say latest when this novel was published in 1985–chapter of the acclaimed Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice is The Tale of the Body Thief–now that has a dark ring to it. In this novel the narcissistic vampire Lestat de Lioncourt wishes for death; he is fed up with the same old blood drinking routine and wants his immortality to cease. So he finds a body thief who offers him his own mortal body…and the action rises from then on.

You’re thinking now: haven’t I read books about body switches? Didn’t I, like countless other children–well, I was a child when it came out–watch Freaky Friday starring Jamie Lee Curtis? And you would be correct…but maybe you skipped on Freaky Friday and watched the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers; on which I blame you not.

But Anne Rice writes Tale of the Body Thief so enticingly; and as Lestat is one of the best first person characters ever to traipse into narrative you forget the classics and embrace the modern–speaking of modern the novel’s setting is the 1980s in Georgetown and Rio and New Orleans in their current states; except everyone uses pay phones and fax machines, so…

In and of itself the premise is hooking. I read the first thirty pages and was enthralled by the serious threat to the main character–a quality difficult to find in most books today. You have no idea why Lestat is giving up his invincible vampire armor for a meat sack he starts to hate after living in it for ten minutes; but while he is experiencing these relatable human situations you cannot contain the giggle in your stomach saying, “Tee-hee, I know the feeling!”

So far my favorite part has been when Lestat eats a plate of spaghetti and burns his tongue.

Ooh, doesn’t look so funny written down in so base a description, which, as always, Anne Rice excels in. The descriptions of the European and American towns are startlingly vivid, here, “…[t]his is South Beach at sunset…clean and thriving and drenched in electric light, the gentle breeze moving in from the placid sea…”(Rice 9).

Beautiful, eh?

Stay tuned to The Tale of the Body Thief.

Think daily, 

A Southpaw



Why I Have This Blog

Fun Fact: This blog originally started as a summer assignment for my high school reading class. Crazy, right?  Well, what is even crazier is the love I gained for it during my summer vacation.

I had always heard of blogs as being enjoyable for both the blogger and their followers; and above all the opinions about a blog was the view that it opened up a new avenue of communication and expression for anyone. Yes, any one with access to a computer can set up a blog and cast their thoughts across the boundless Internet. The concept is inspiring when you think of it in those terms…is it not?

While I was writing the posts for my class I wondered why I kept making separate posts–these were the Miscellaneous posts–and asking myself if a blog was really my next avenue of writing. As I continued this doubt shortened and a new confidence took its place: the blog became another source of release in life.

So, Thoughts of a Southpaw became more than a summer assignment–and I have valued it since then. A blog is a good form of release.

Think daily, 

A Southpaw

The Blockbuster: A Casual Sketch

Currently I am reading Timeline by Michael Crichton, the author of Jurassic Park and the Lost World; and as of today I have read most of the book in enjoyment and distress. Enjoyment, because I’m a sucker for a fast thriller and action sequences get my adrenaline pumping; and distress, because I savor thoughtful character development and scene description, such as in my recent reading of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. While reading Timeline, however I have realized a blockbuster has its place in literature–they are difficult books to write–and they acquire so much popularity among readers because of these specially chosen factors:


  • The definition of a blockbuster is “something notably effective or successful,” and when I hear the words “effective” my mind springs to formulaic thinking, which is how most blockbusters and consistently adrenaline-fueled thrillers are constructed. It usually starts with a simple plot sketch of the rising conflicts–these are tense scenes for the purpose of hooking the reader without divulging deeply into character motivation and backstory–then throughout the first chapters characters are hastily introduced as defined outlines of their personalities (sometimes these can be stereotypical personalities but more on that later…). And soon the story comes to an explosive conclusion in the final chapters–this is the release of the carefully balanced tension throughout the novel.


  • In blockbusters characters are mere outlines of themselves–what they lack in psychological development they contribute to with repetition of names, like “Hank climbed the tree” and “Hank waved to Judy and Jack at Steven’s house,” and quirky traits which they repeat constantly in the story: say the protagonist is a fireman who hates touching water and is always carrying a pair of gloves with him– maybe he says “got to get ’em dry” before tugging them on at the hydrant. His actions will be repetitive and predictable; and likely you will feel comforted by the repetition…perhaps annoyed as well.


  • This is a blockbuster sentence. Short and to the point; and ridding a paragraph of all unnecessary descriptions and words. Blockbuster sentences focus on the action at hand–if the antagonist rifleman is preparing to fire a shot at the heroine cowering in the house, then by God the next few paragraphs will center around his aim and his fingers and his mind; how each of them result in his squeezing the trigger on that sweet 22′ caliber. The impact sentences–“The bullet shot from the barrel, whistling. It pegged Katelyn in the forehead, and blood flecked her shining hair. She stiffened and tumbled sideways down the stairs.” By the way that is not an exceptional blockbuster paragraph in any form, merely an amateur writing.

Those three elements are key to a blockbuster…but if you want a successful story, then you need to have an intriguing premise that knows how to scoop up the action on a hot platter and maintain the heat while serving slices of itself to the readers on consistently sized plates. Then it is all up to you on how you personally spice the dish.

Think daily, 

A Southpaw

A Portrait of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn As A Finished Book–A Review.

Here is the review of AOHB–look at the new acronym! No, that doesn’t seem too fitting to me either…


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn deserves a fair send off; methinks it fitting to comment on all its excellent features; however, it has its share of slow sections–not slug slow…perhaps sloth?– which continue to provide thrilling entertainment– my use of thrilling before entertainment makes me sound like a literary critic who uses too many flowery adjectives.

There are undoubtedly lovable sections here, but those can be overlooked by readers when they hear someone breath classic; as classics are those books people like to put on their bookshelves to gather dust until an opportunity to impress houseguests comes along. An especially cherished part for me is the planning of the prison break as proposed by Huck and Tom: Tom thinks himself the escapist auteur and forces Huck to obey his time-wasting schemes.

I appreciate the continual references to Alexandre Dumas’ wonderful novels, The Man in the Iron Mask and The Count of Monte Cristo; the latter is an excellent read if you should get around to it.

The theme of acceptance, too, carried through the novel, is a skillful weaving of the storyline. Years before the Emancipation Proclamation is an inkling in Lincoln’s head,  Twain unintentionally writes a heavy abolitionist minded story: a slave in the South is freed by his captors–a miraculous turn of events if ever there was one. And as a reader you come to love Jim, so it seems justified he should receive the freedom he deserves.

Now for the bad part. All I can say for the sluggishness of the middle portion of the book is that it is somewhat a necessity to the flow of the story, and on the other hand an abrupt shift from the steadily increasing narrative. The story has picked up from the moment Huck reacquaints with his father; then when Jim and Huck go together on the the raft the action began to dwindle a tad in adventurous exploits.

Other than slow structure the non appealing parts are like leashes on a lizard.

I heartily recommend this novel to those who love the classics and to those who want a thoughtful hero’s journey to ponder over. It features mystery and adventure; as well youthful foolishness and a sense of undying curiosity towards the socialite world–what more could a voracious reader ask for in a book about a backwoods boy and a black man sailing together on a raft across the Mississippi River?

Maybe a faster plot line.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

New Additions to the Blog?

A Southpaw here,

In recent months I have written posts on the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and How to Read Literature Like A Professor–both of which were extremely enjoyable to talk about; as well I wrote some miscellaneous thinkings and a movie review of Last Shift.

I am coming to a close on those books and will review them.

Today I wanted to talk about what the blog will feature in the future. I am certainly going to focus on books (I do love my classics…if that’s any hint) and a few choice movies here and there. They will not be plain reviews. These books are classic for a reason, and so should be treated likewise; meaning I will discuss certain intriguing sections of the books in creative ways, such as I did for Huckleberry Finn.

But most importantly this post is about receiving input from you guys: tell me what books sound interesting; what movies sound interesting; and anything you can think of which will make this blog a delight to read. All comments will be helpful!

This blog is supported by its followers…so why not give some advice to improve it?

Think daily,

A Southpaw

A Literary Emancipation

There are strong controversial matters tied to Gender Studies and Queer Theory in the last few chapters of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn;  controversial of course at the original time of publication in 1844–years before the initial reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln.

The controversy: treating a black slave with respect and granting him freedom.

Mark Twain was by no means a closet abolitionist. Still, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is  by far the heaviest criticized novel in his literary career–some states went so far as to ban the book from their libraries because of his divergence from the then current racial views–and many have been especially critical on the matter of freeing Jim at the end of the novel, says Huck, “[w]e had Jim out of the chains in no time…and fixed him up prime…and gave him all he wanted to eat…” (Twain. 292).

The controversy begins when the villagers recapture Jim; and at first they do not want to grant him his deserved freedom, as to them the racial rules of society are to be strictly followed; and a black person should remain a slave until the end of his days. They are  eerily described while gathered in the sitting room at night “…and every one of them [with] a gun[…]” (Twain. 273). Their views start to change when the doctor tells them of Jim’s caring nature towards his friends: “I liked the nigger for that…gentlemen…a nigger like that is worth a thousand dollars–and kind treatment, too.” (Twain. 286); so they then “…softened up a little…” (Twain. 286).

Now, while in the States softening up to slaves was frowned upon, and if someone was pleasant it was a miracle, in the novel it is written as if it is a commonplace event and those who enacted his release are as much unaffected as the boy narrating the novel.

As said before Mark Twain had no deeper interest in abolitionism than what is written in the book, and so his attitude towards the topic is expressed mundanely; however it takes nothing away from the historical implications of freeing a slave twenty years before the Emancipation Proclamation–double points for Mark Twain.

Think daily,

A Southpaw


As of yet there is no Fountain of Youth, and considering the Holy Grail is more a myth than a genuine relic immortality is a far reach past sanity–or so the world likes to think.  But we are not strictly discussing the immortality of life.

Death can grant the most rewarding immortality: a legacy.

There are legacies in all aspects of life–even those that carry the spark along on a smaller scale. They float around us every day: the bronze commemorative plaque on the park bench; the statue of the town founder in the center of the local shopping outlet; the entertaining franchise of films or books or music which passes its torch along to a worthy successor. All of them are children proud of their parental origins who have passed on to them their traits of brilliance and innovation to satisfy the world further.

No matter how large or small sunlight shines upon a mark. It may be a scorch in the soil or even a footprint on the beach. And should it be a crater in the strand of time the light will shine no brighter nor dimmer, as the lightest flick to a house of cards sets it fluttering down.

Legacies are timeless artifacts of contributions to our special swirling bowling ball: the ball morphs from the paintbrush strokes that splatter upon it; moving like a whirring dynamo the ball has little time to sort out the colors, and so it absorbs them all into a single shade of gorgeous indifference.

Change is welcome on our paint ball–one need only take their brush and dip it in a can and slather a smiley face on the green ocean. Forever the smiley face will swim along the colorful coast towards the next dripping brush and the next and the next.

Legacies are not so awful when compared to immortality.

Think daily,

A Southpaw   

The Dumas Legacy

Most of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is classic for its literary and real world references and allegories; and so it is no surprise the most suspenseful section of the novel imitate works from French author Alexandre Dumas–the master of the adventure novel, whose works range from the renowned The Three Musketeers to The Count of Monte Cristo.

A string of Structuralism and Semiotics follows through Chapters 34 to 40; constantly are Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer comparing the prison escape attempts of fictional characters to their methods of springing Jim from the Phelps’ shed. Tom proposes one tactic: “…when…[Jim]wants to send any little…message to let the world know…he can write it on the bottom of a tin plate…and throw it out of the window. The Iron Mask always done that…” (Twain. 243); this of course referencing The Man in the Iron Mask (1848-50) by Alexandre Dumas; and a later reference to the Chateau d’If in The Count Of Monte Cristo (1845), “…look at one of them prisoners in…the Castle Deef, in the harbor of Marseilles, that dug himself out…” (Twain. 246).

The boys are using their fantastical minds to seek out ways to free Jim; however, the ideas they produce are generally more time consuming than a simpler form of action, pointed out by Huck as they are digging a hole with case-knives, “[t]his ain’t no thirty-seven year job, this is a thirty-year job…”(Twain. 247).  As with other children they are concerned with the undying glory and the shocked reactions gained from the captors–a classic trait of a couple of imaginative young boys hunting for recognition.

Adventures of the Dumas novels are paralleled nicely with the numerous imitating scenes–the flinging of the plate and the digging out of a hole with case-knives among others–and so contribute to the theme of young playfulness and naivety which pairs the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn next to such a book as The Three Musketeers, in which  young protagonist D’Artagnan is a naive musketeer fighting alongside his experienced partners who drag him out of constant trouble.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Eating–A Study Of Vampirism

I like vampires.

I also like food; combine those two in such chapters as Nice to Eat with You: Acts Of Communion and Nice to Eat You: Acts Of Vampirism, and magic occurs…

In the 1980s Anne Rice was the undisputed master of the vampire genre; under her literary belt are such titles as Interview with the Vampire; The Vampire Lestat; and The Queen of the Damned; and those all are included in the Vampire Chronicles…an excellent trilogy, by the way; and not strictly about bloodsuckers.

In the opening to The Vampire Lestat, the titular vampire Lestat details his beauteous narcissism: “I’d step into the solar lights before the cameras…reach out and touch with my icy fingers a thousand warm and grasping hands…[and]…I’d lead them to the truth of it…” Lestat hungers for glory and recognition; but neither of those keep him living–it is the blood of his fans which he needs, and the attention of his fans which he desires.

The point: vampires are not base predators–rather they are sophisticated socialites  who classily pursue the cultural trends of a generation before draining them dry in the dead evening; of course it is easy to lure their victims–all they must do is dress currently and speak currently and live currently; the social tycoon offering more than money or a car ride…simply in the times.

All memorable monsters are reflections of ourselves.

Step once more into the dining room…this one is reserved for humans.

Communion, or perhaps the opposite, in dining is expressed brilliantly in The Dead by James Joyce, as cited by Foster; but for me there is the tense scene in the science fiction novel Dune by Frank Herbert–a quiet dinner between the Atreides Family and the Harkonnen Family on Arrakis.

I admire this scene because of its suspenseful air, the type that grabs you by the throat and squeezes tighter and tighter until the expulsion of pressure; however it is also key to uncovering the relationship between the families and the deceitful nature of each. At dinner are accusations and whispers and spies and tension and arrogance and secrets–so dearly this scene is remembered in my heart as complex; and complex for purposes of union, especially the lack thereof.

The families are biased towards each other and so eat dinner slowly, exchanging accusing statements in between chews. Neither family wishes to be near the other, hence their separated seating–one family member for every other chair. The eyes are watchful, yet their mouths are motionless; and their hands remain on the utensils until a disturbance summons the host away from that minefield and all are relieved their selfish hearts have not imploded.

Eating together can be discordant or unifying; but either way people are communing upon a solitary meal entirely void of the emotions, of benefitting or malevolent intent, sinking into its bare atmosphere.

Think daily,

A Southpaw