Like a Virgin

Well, it’s a chilly, gray Friday morning in New Orleans, Constant Reader, and we’ve managed to survive yet another week Again, this is a short work day for me at the office, so I’ll be able to make groceries this afternoon and go to the gym this evening before curling up in my easy chair with Karen M. McManus’ y/a bestseller, One of Us is Lying. (I will also continue with the Short Story Project, never fear! I just haven’t decided where I want to go next–whether it’s a single author collection or an anthology I want to dip into; or maybe go back to the Laura Lippman and Sue Grafton collections; mystery or horror.) I’m all caught up on posting about short stories after today’s post, too, so I need to decide, and soon.

Last night I worked some more on the WIP; moving on to Chapter Two. This chapter didn’t flow as easily as the first, and I only got about 1800 words done on it (which made the writing day a bit of a failure) but I also tweaked Chapter One a bit and got another 200 words or so added to it; a two-thousand word day is a win, for me, even if the goal is always to do at least three thousand–particularly considering how just last month I would have considered a hundred words a triumph. So, thus far this year I’ve written four short stories, one and a half chapters of the WIP, and one chapter of the Scotty–and I even know what the second chapter is going to be–which is how Scotty books usually work; no plan, but the next chapter reveals itself as I write the current. I also have tossed out the entire plot as it was; new victim, new everything. But I am hopeful I can get this all finished by the end of February; Mardi Gras notwithstanding. I also solved the problem with another manuscript I’ve been sitting on for a long time, and I know how to make it work as well now, but it’ll have to wait until I am finished with these two projects and another.

It feels so good to have my creativity kicking into gear again.

I also watched Riverdale last night, which has replaced Teen Wolf as the gayest show on television. Oh, sure, like Teen Wolf there’s only one gay character on the show; but all of the guys are fricking gorgeous with amazing bodies that are shown off pretty regularly–you haven’t lived until you’ve seen KJ Apa in a low cut singlet without a shirt underneath–and there was even a locker room scene where Archie was talking to gay Kevin, while in the background between them was some amazing hunk wearing only a towel standing at the sink–yay for gratuitous male bodies!

So, as this weekend looms I hope to get a lot done. We shall see how that works, but…hope springs eternal.

Today’s first short story is Sarah Weinman’s “The Big Town”, from Alive in Shape and Color, edited by Lawrence Block:

You don’t expect to see a portrait of your mother hanging on the wall of your gangster boyfriend’s living room. especially when the portrait shows your mother without a stitch of clothing on but for a pair of green heels.

“Where did you get that painting?” I asked, my voice more querulous than I wished. It was my first time in his house. I hesitated about a return visit even before seeing the portrait, but now I knew. I would not be back.

He turned to face the portrait. I looked at his back, the white collared shirt barely covering dark matted hair. I’d run my fingers through that broad, fleshy forest the few afternoons we’d fucked in a Ritz-Carlton hotel suite. Again I remembered what I found attractive about him: power, status, money. And what I found ugly: body, face, manners.

The story is really quite good and a poignant story about love and loss at the same time. The main character is a rural Canadian girl who ran away to the big city to avoid a prearranged marriage, her only future being a farmwife and having a passel of kids; she’s kind of become a good time girl, doing whatever necessary in order to survive on the fringes of society. But once she sees the portrait of her mother, who died when she was young, she becomes obsessed with getting the portrait away from the vile gangster and learning its history; how it came to exist in the first place.

I’ve read a lot of Weinman’s non-fiction before, and of course, just finished reading her stellar anthology Troubled Daughters Twisted Wives, which was exceptional. Nonfiction writing, however, doesn’t necessarily translate into good fiction writing; but Weinman hits the ball out of the park with this one. That yearning, sense of drifting is captured perfectly, and her main character is the kind of woman I like to read about; transitioning from a woman to whom things happen into a woman who makes things happen. The sense of learning more about her mother, that drive to know and understand her biological mother better, is something that resonates with every reader: how well do we really know our parents? Particularly if one parent died really young? This is a great story, absolutely great.

 The second story I read was the last one in Alive in Shape and Color, Lawrence Block’s “Looking for David.”

Elaine said, “You never stop working, do you?”

I looked at her. We were in Florence, sitting at a little tile-topped table in the Piazza di San Marco, sipping cappuccino every bit as good as the stuff they served at the Peacock on Greenwich Avenue. It was a bright day but the air was cool and crisp, the city bathed in October light. Elaine was wearing khakis and a tailored safari jacket, and looked like a glamorous foreign correspondent, or perhaps a spy. I was wearing khakis too, and a polo shirt, and the blue blazer she called my Old Reliable.

We’d had five days in Venice, This was the second of five days in Florence, and then we’d have six days in Rome before Alitalia took us back home again.

I said, “Nice work if you can get it.”

I’ve not read any of the Matthew Scudder novels Mr. Block has been writing for decades; as I have said before, my education in my own genre is often sorely lacking in many regards. But this story was irresistible to me for several reasons–it’s set in Florence, for one, and of course it is inspired by Michelangelo’s David, which also has inspired me for a novel that I hope to someday write. The story begins as above, with Matthew recognizing someone in the piazza that he had arrested, and soon remembers the gruesome butchery of the case. The man comes over, introduces himself, and then invites them to his villa for lunch the following day. Elaine bows out of the lunch, and over the course of the meal the man explains, at last, why he committed the brutal crime Scudder remembers and never knew the motivation behind (he’d pled guilty, served his time, got out and retired to Italy; would that I could do the same!). It’s a macabre story of a stunted gay life, and how once he fell in actual love with another man he abandoned his old life without a care and took up a new one, that ended in tragedy. It’s actually quite good, and bravo to Mr. Block for taking on such a topic without dealing in tropes, or stereotypes; it was also lovely to read a gay villain, as it were.

And now back to the spice mines.

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Union of the Snake

So, I braved Costco AND the grocery store on a frigid Saturday two weeks before Christmas; but I did manage to get a lovely space heater at Costco which has already changed everything in the frigid kitchen.  I also forgot to turn the heat off when I went to bed last night, but it wasn’t obnoxiously hot upstairs–which makes me tend to think that it must have been really cold outside last night. But whatever. I am up this morning, my kitchen is getting warmer thanks to the space heater, and I have some things I need to get done today so I am going to buckle down and try to get it all done as much as possible. Next weekend I have to work on Saturday, so it’s a very short weekend for me, but I can hang with it.

Pual went to a gallery opening last night for the guy who donated his art for the cover of the Saints and Sinners Anthology, and so while Scooter dealt with his abandonment issues by sleeping in my lap I got caught up on this season of Riverdale; I hadn’t realized they hadn’t gone on midseason break and had missed two episodes, with the midseason finale coming up this week. I am pleased to report that KJ Apa was shirtless a lot in last week’s episode (finally), and this season’s mystery is deepening nicely. It really is a good show, probably the best young actors on a teen soap-style show I’ve ever watched, and visually it’s just stunning. I also got our tickets to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi for next Sunday at one, which is also incredibly exciting. I only have to avoid spoilers for a week.

I also watched two episodes of Soundtracks last night, the CNN series about how cultural and societal events influenced the popular music of the time. I watched the episodes about gay rights and Hurricane Katrina; each one made me unexpectedly tear up at moments as I remembered things. I recommend the series; I’m going to keep watching it. CNN series are really quite good; I’ve enjoyed their Decades series and their History of Comedy; and when I am not in the mood to write (or finished for the day) and not in the mood to read, they’re an excellent way to pass some time.

I think I’m going to read Krysten Ritter’s Bonfire next. It’s gotten some excellent reviews, and I’m a fan of hers; Jessica Jones was terrific, and Paul and I both enjoyed Don’t Trust the B, her one season sitcom. I actually think I may spend the rest of the year focusing on reading y/a fiction, to be honest. I have a lot of amazing books in my TBR pile, but…I want to get the WIP whipped into shape to start the agent hunt again in earnest next year; and I have two more y/a manuscripts to whip into shape as well as the Scotty to completely redo. I hate having to throw out eight chapters worth of work–and maybe some editing can get them into decent shape and usable again. As I said, in talking to my friend Susan last week I realized the plot I was developing for the book simply doesn’t work; primarily because New Orleans is such a small town, and New Orleans society is an even smaller one. There’s no way Scotty wouldn’t have known something before he was surprised with it; just given both sides of his family he would have met the person any number of times and would have heard about him; that kind of throws that plot right out the window. Maybe the entire thing should just be scrapped and I should start over completely. I don’t know.

But so yes, there’s a lot I need to get done. I also have a short story due by the end of the month I need to work on, another project is also calling my name, and I have a grant application I need to get ready. I’ve decided to start applying for grants, long shots that they are; but you cannot get one without applying, and while I may not have an MFA or a Ph.D. behind my name I do have an awful lot of publications; my c.v. is at least fifteen pages long–and it hasn’t been updated in years. But I think I have proven that I can write. And I think perhaps a collection of personal essays, of experiences and observations I’ve made throughout my life, studying our culture and the deep flaws in our society and culture, could actually be rather interesting. I have years of diaries and blog entries to cull from; and I often find writing personal essays, on those rare occasions when I’ve had the opportunity to write them, quite rewarding. My favorite essay is “I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet”, which was in Love Bourbon Street, and was edited down to be included in another collection, and I could possibly make that the lynchpin of the collection. I also want to pull together my horror and crime short stories into a collection, which will undoubtedly have to be self-published. So many projects, so little time.

And yes, reading Joan Didion has inspired me a bit on that front.

And on that note, I am going to dive back into the spice mines this cold morning in New Orleans. Here’s a lovely hunk to get your week off to a lovely start:

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Time after Time

Saturday morning! I have to work today, and then am going to make groceries on the way home from the office–and I am going to go to the gym before the LSU-Tennessee game tonight. Yes, I’m going to do it, and I am going to lift weights–easing myself into it, with one set of fifteen with low weights and doing a full body workout; just like I did when I first started back in 1994. I am actually looking forward to it. (Right? Who am I, and what have I done with Gregalicious?)

I have a lot to do over the next few weeks, but I am embracing it rather than fearing it. I have to get a short story finished this weekend, and maybe some chapters written; and I am also going to work on the Scotty Bible a bit. I also need to clean the house a bit, and I am going to play with the structure of the WIP yet again. I do have moments when I think that maybe, with all the revisions and problems I’m having with it, that maybe that means I should simply give up on it–but I am being stubborn, and I do think there’s a really amazing novel in there, and if I keep tinkering away at it I’ll eventually get to it. I’m not used to having to work so hard on a book, but I also think hard work and pushing myself isn’t a bad thing, either.

I also need to copy edit the hell out of the manuscripts for Bourbon Street Blues and Jackson Square Jazz.

So much to do. This is why, I think, I don’t get as much done as I should; I get overwhelmed simply thinking about everything I have to do. But I need to get past that, and of course, the best way to do that is to make a to-do list; which I am going to do as soon as I finish this. There’s also a city election today, so I need to walk to my polling place and take care of that as well before I head to to the office.

I got caught up on Riverdale last night–I was three episodes behind–and wow, did this show ever take a turn for the dark. I really do like the show; it started out as a kind of cross between your typical teen CW drama and Pretty Little Liars, only using the canon Archie Andrews/Riverdale characters, but this update is pretty incredible. The kids are dealing with serious issues that modern day teens have to deal with (although I doubt many of them have to deal with serial killers or murder or incest or….), and the young cast is incredibly appealing–and their character arcs actually make sense. I also love that Madchen Amick from Twin Peaks plays Betty’s mother Alice–ALICE COOPER (I giggle every time someone says it)–and that she’s kind of a villain. I also love that Molly Ringwald occasionally guest stars as Archie’s mother.

We also got caught up on The Exorcist last night, and I have to say, Season 2 is way better than Season 1. The episode we saw last night took the story down an even darker path than it was on originally, and the addition of Alicia Witt to the cast was a genius touch. Nice job, The Exorcist!

Okay, so it’s time for me to tackle the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and see you tomorrow.

Here’s your daily hunk:

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Footloose

Friday! Huzzah!

I am very pleased to say that I think the malaise has passed. Yesterday I shook myself up a little bit and got organized. I’ve really been letting a lot of things slide–I’ve been blaming the post-Bouchercon blues, but truly, the malaise had set in well before that. I’m not sure what causes it; but it’s horrible when it strikes and I find myself getting depressed rather easily when it strikes…trying to work and/or get things done, but allowing myself to be easily overwhelmed, or if the work isn’t going well, letting the why do I bother mentality kick in.

But I’m back in my “I can conquer the world” mode again, and intend to ride that train as long as I can.

Before bed last night, after watching Riverdale and American Horror Story, I did two loads of laundry, the dishes, a shit-ton of filing, cleaned my kitchen counters, and started organizing the copies of my books I got from storage. (I still haven’t located the copies of Mardi Gras Mambo I’ve been looking for, which means I am going to have to go back again; but I am going to let that sit for a few weeks. There’s no urgency to find them, after all.)

I also, while cleaning and organizing, had some breakthroughs on projects I am working on; which is one of the reasons cleaning and organizing is such an important part of my process–when I am busy doing something that doesn’t require my full attention, my mind wanders and it always goes to places with book projects that need fixing. And am absolutely delighted this has happened. I made some decent progress on the Scotty book yesterday, and will be making some crucial notes on another project this morning, now that I’ve gotten a good night’s sleep.

And on that note, it is back to the spice mines with me.

Here’s a hunk for you, Rafael Nadal for Armani:

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Human Nature

I slept well again last night–which keeps the streak of good sleep alive at five nights and counting. I don’t have to work today, which is lovely; I am hopefully having lunch with a friend and running a couple of errands before coming home to clean, edit, revise, and hopefully do some writing.

The Lost Apartment is also a mess, so part of my day will be taken up with cleaning. It really is tragic how messy this apartment can become over the course of a week, and I haven’t done the floors in forever. The windows are also pretty nasty; this lovely cool weather we are enjoying will be most helpful in that regard, since I know I won’t be drenched in sweat the moment I go outside. I need to make a grocery list, and I also want to read some more of Anna Dressed in Blood, which started kind of slow but is starting to pick up a little. I also want to start rereading The Haunting of Hill House this weekend, which means I need to finish reading Anna.

I got caught up on Riverdale last night, and I have to say the first two episodes of this season are pretty damned dark. There were three murders in the second episode of this season (SPOILER), and now that they’ve recast Reggie, he’s front and center–and a drug dealer. Wow, didn’t see that coming. The young cast continues to get better, and are incredibly appealing, and apparently the ratings are really up, which is terrific. Now we need to get caught up on The Exorcist, and maybe give the reboot of Dynasty a whirl. I’m not sure how I feel about Dynasty being rebooted; I guess they decided, since the Dallas sequel never really caught fire, to just start over with the tale of the Carringtons and the Colbys, which I guess I can understand…but I also don’t want them to follow the original storylines, either. From everything I’ve read so far, they aren’t doing that…and it looks like Steven’s homosexuality isn’t going to be so “is-he-or-isn’t-he” as it was back in the 80’s, when it was hugely controversial (and the show completely ignored HIV/AIDS) to have a gay character in the first place.

A story I’d sent out for submission was rejected yesterday, which I was expecting. My short story game isn’t as strong as I’d like it to be, and while I love this story, it doesn’t really fit in well with the theme of crime, you know? I also wasn’t pleased with how it ended, which means that the ending wasn’t set up properly, so I am going to let it sit for a while before rereading it and figuring out how to tweak that ending to make it work properly. It clearly didn’t work the way it’s currently written. But it’s a story I want to tell…and even last night, as I mourned in the usual way I do when rejected (even when I’m pretty sure the submission will be rejected) it did occur to me that I might know a way to make it better already. So I need to make that note and shove it into the folder.

Onward and upward, as they say.

And here’s a hunk to slide you into the weekend:

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Sugar Sugar

So, I finally watched the season finale of Riverdale last night, and I have to say, well done! I went into Riverdale not sure what to expect–and worried I’d be disappointed–but the show really worked on many levels The writing was strong, if a bit uneven at times; the way it was shot–the production values, cinematography, use of color, etc–was always on point; but the biggest strength of the show was the cast. The young actors playing the Gang were appealing and imminently likable; and following the lead of Pretty Little Liars, the older members of the cast were former teen heartthrobs (Jason Gedrick, Luke Perry) or had become successful as young stars (Madchen Amick, Robin Givens). I am really looking forward to the second season.

Well done, Riverdale!

I slept really late this morning, which kind of felt good. I need to finish going over my editorial notes, and making those corrections–I intend to spend tomorrow polishing the book from beginning to end, and I also have to go into the office for a few hours today, as well as make groceries. I’d thought about doing the groceries this morning, but oversleeping took care of that, as well as wiping out my plan to finish the editorial notes. I’ll now have to do that when I get home from the office/making groceries. That’s fine, too; this morning before work I can organize/clean the kitchen and finish the laundry and do all those other lovely chores before running to get the mail and heading in to the office. Hurray! (There really needs to be a sarcasm font.)

I also started reading John Colapinto’s About the Author last night. It was recommended to me by a friend when I told them the basic premise behind my short story “Quiet Desperation”. I am only a few pages in but I am enjoying it so far. When I finish, I think I am going to read either The Sympathizer (won both Pulitzer Prize and Edgar) or Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (recently won the Edgar). Definitely some good reading in my future! Huzzah!

I also, for the first time in a while, looked at Mardi Gras Mambo, aka Scotty Three, and was more than a little startled by how much the tone, how much the character, had changed since then. People change, of course–things that happen affect who you are, affect how you react to things, change your perspective–but in just reading the introduction and the first three chapters, the change was so dramatic it was startling. Should I go back to Scotty–when I go back to Scotty–it only makes sense to read the series over again, from start to finish. Maybe it’s too late to get that sense of the earlier Scotty back now, I don’t know. But some things I’d been feeling make sense now; maybe in rereading the entire series I can figure out how to do the new one.

I have to say, I am starting to enjoy myself again with writing and editing. I think the break from deadlines was precisely what I needed.

And now, back to the spice mines.

Here’s a Saturday hunk for you:

 

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Never Give You Up

As I get deeper into the outlining of the manuscript I am working on–yes, I am outlining it after writing it, which only makes sense in Bizarro World, but welcome to Greg’s Wonderful World of Writing–I am very pleased with what I managed to accomplish in this first draft. I touched on a lot of issues and themes that are important to me, and it’s not nearly as repetitive as I feared it might be. The trick is going to be the winnowing down; it currently sits at 97,000 words and needs at least three more chapters to get to the resolution and be finished. Even if those are only three thousand words or so, a young adult manuscript of 106,000 is probably way too long. I also think I managed to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish with it, even though it’s technically not finished. There is, apparently, something to be said about writing a manuscript you are really passionate about without the pressure of a deadline. All in all, from the moment I started writing the first chapter to when I realized I’d written it too long and the original end I’d planned would require another three chapters–or I’d really have to rush it all to get it all done in one more–was a total of forty-five days, and I didn’t write every one of those forty-five days. I think the actual writing days were at most thirty, and may have been as few as twenty-five.

I am actually dreading getting to those last few chapters I’ve written, to be honest.

Another thing I am doing is making a list of every character named in the book as I go–I’ve already discovered multiple character name changes–and another thing I am going to do is really get into the characters’ lives and histories by writing biographies of them, putting all the things I know in my head about them down onto paper and filling in the gaps. I’m amazed at how many characters there are–some of them are really only seen or mentioned in passing–and there are some things I really want to hit harder that I just seemed to lightly pass over as I wrote the first draft. But there aren’t a lot of mistakes, no awkward sentences, no bad paragraphs, and most of the dialogue works.

If you couldn’t tell, Constant Reader, one Gregalicious is quite pleased with himself and this manuscript.

I’ve also decided to NOT take the detour on Chef Menteur Highway on my way to Montgomery, and think I might do that on my way to Oxford on Monday instead. The drive to Montgomery is more time sensitive–there’s an author party I should go to on Friday night, and the event in Oxford is on Tuesday, so it doesn’t really matter what time I get there, so why not do it when I am not going to be pressed for time? It only makes sense. And I am also really pleased with how “Quiet Desperation” is coming along in its rewrite.

Wow. Who am I, and what have I done with myself? I think the affirmations are helping, seriously.

We got through two more episodes of Thirteen Reasons Why last night, and I have to say, I am becoming rather a fan of Ross Butler. He was simply stellar in the episode about Zach’s tape, and I was already aware of him from playing Reggie Mantle on Riverdale, and that casting was pretty bad-ass: a role traditionally Caucasian being played by an Asian-American actor (yet another reason to love Riverdale is its diverse casting choices). Ross is also easy on the eyes:

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See what I mean? And now, back to the spice mines.

Just Dance

I’ve always been amused that Valentine’s Day and venereal disease share the same initials. Granted, it’s really SAINT Valentine’s Day, but still–look up the story of St. Valentine for yourself.

Now THERE’S some romance, right? Not exactly a Nicholas Sparks novel there, is it?

We’re still watching–and enjoying–Santa Clarita Diet, which becomes more and more clever with each episode, as is Riverdale–it was really fun seeing Betty go to the dark side last week, and I hope it’s foreshadowing of future story for her. I’m also still reading Lori Rader-Day’s Little Pretty Things; I just hate that I’m so tired when I get home from work every night that I can only read a little bit.

As for the writing, this morning I completed edits on a short story I’ve sold and turned them back in to the editor. I am very pleased to be a part of this book, but I don’t have permission to discuss it publicly yet; but I will say my story is called “Lightning Bugs in a Jar” and it’s one I am very proud of. Constant Reader knows how hard short stories are for me to write, so every time I sell one it’s a victory.

As far as the writing goes, I started outlining two books this week; just to see where they go and if they are, indeed, something I want to write. One would be the first in a potential cozy mystery series (under a pseudonym, of course) and the other is a stand alone called I Know Who You Are. I am more interested in the stand alone at the moment, to be honest–but once I get these two outlines finished I am going to go on to outline two more I have ideas for–and yes, one of them is the Colin stand-alone I’ve been talking about forever.

And now, back to the spice mines.

Fernando

A chilly morning in New Orleans. It’s been in the fifties the last few days, but no worries, Constant Reader: the new car has an astonishingly powerful heater (something I am also not used to) and I no longer have any fears about my drive to the Frigid Territories North of I-10 anymore. (The Buick’s heater was erratic; which was fine for New Orleans–not so much for anywhere north of I-10.) Today I have some errands to run, and then I am going to try to get that essay finished in draft form today so I can edit it tomorrow. I also want to finish reading my Pelecanos novel; I am not taking it with me to Kentucky so if I don’t finish it this weekend I most likely never will. I’ll also probably finish reading Gore Vidal’s Empire today or tomorrow; I only have one chapter left so I may take it to the easy chair with me to finish today so I can start reading something new–non-fiction, most likely–in the bathroom.

Today, though, I am going to talk about the new CW show, Riverdale, which debuted this past week.

I will admit I went into the show wanting to like it. I grew up with Archie comics; despite the sweet nostalgia the comics had–they were really throwbacks to an imaginary 1950’s kind of teen life that never really existed in truth, the same kind of imaginary world created by shows like Leave It to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show; worlds that never existed yet people always feel nostalgia for (which is a topic for another time). I won’t deny that as a kid I kind of thought being a teenager was going to be like an Archie comic book, and was vastly disappointed when it wasn’t. When the comic books went through a sort of ‘reboot’ (a term I am really tired of, frankly, but in this case it actually fits) a few years back and made news, I downloaded some of the new comics to my iPad, and was pleasantly surprised with the update.

I won’t recap or rehash how the company reinvented itself and made itself actually topical and modern and fresh and expanded its audience; there are plenty of articles out there about this and everyone can access Google, plus I would just be rehashing the information and might get some things wrong. But it’s a world with which I am very familiar–Archie, Betty and Veronica, Jughead, Hot Dog, Dilton Doiley, Reggie, Big Moose and Midge, Big Ethel, Miss Grundy, Principal Weatherbee, Pop Tate–and they also added a gay character several years ago, Kevin Keller (I bought the mini-series he featured in)–which would have been not only unimaginable as a kid but would have made an enormous difference in my life. So, I was kind of interested when I heard that Greg Berlanti (responsible for the DC television universe, and did a great job) was developing a TV show based on Archie called Riverdale, which would feature all the known elements of the comic books, give them a modern twist, and also make it dark and brooding; Archie meets Twin Peaks, is what it was described as. (I did watch Twin Peaks, and loved Season One; it lost me about an episode or two into Season 2.)

But I was also afraid it would be awful; just as I was afraid Arrow and The Flash would be. I am very happy to report that it was, in fact, not awful.

All the old elements of Archie are there: Pop Tate’s Choklit Shop; Betty’s unrequited passion for Archie, who only sees her as his best friend; Archie and his music; Josie and the Pussycats are even there. The script was flipped a bit in having Veronica no longer wealthy AND new in town; her father has been jailed for embezzlement and fraud, and she and her mother–originally from Riverdale–have returned to escape the glare.

But the show is structured with a noirish sensibility; the way the show is shot is absolutely gorgeous, and the bright colors also give it a comic book like feel at the same time. There is a murder mystery at the heart of the story; who killed Jason Blossom? And everyone in Riverdale seems to have had a reason to kill him, or is hiding something. It’s very soapy, yet very well done.

But, for me, the strongest part of the show is the appeal of the young cast–the older characters aren’t as well developed, but I’ll give that time. A. J. Apa is appealing enough, and of course, he is very nice looking; really, that’s all that’s required of Archie: good guy, kind of bland and a bit oblivious to everything around him, appealing. Archie never had abs before, though.

It’s extremely well cast; all of the young actors are appealing, the dialogue is snappy and clever (Veronica gets the best lines and I think is going to be the breakout character/star), and it was also fun to see former teen idol (and star of Beverly Hills 90210) Luke Perry as Archie’s father; in a nod to Twin Peaks, Madchen Amick is cast as Betty’s mother.

Usually, pilots have weaknesses that are corrected in the series; I detected none in Riverdale, and I was immediately caught up in the story. I liked it a lot, and am looking forward to continuing to watch.