by: Douglas Grant
To celebrate All Hallows’ Eve we remember one of fright night’s most infamous sons……
Halloween (1978): On Halloween night, 1963, in Haddonfield, Illinois, six year old Michael Myers perused the kitchen for a large butcher knife as his sister, Judith, was having carnal relations with her boyfriend upstairs. Waiting until Judith’s boyfriend has satisfied himself and then stolen off into the night, young Michael donned the clown mask of his Halloween costume, and then crept upstairs and walked into Judith’s bedroom to repeatedly stab his sister until she bled to death. Perhaps he’d been upset that she’d chosen sex over taking him trick-or-treating. Regardless, this act of savagery placed him on his chosen career path of psychotic serial killer. After killing Judith, he unapologetically waits on the front porch for his parents to arrive home from their relaxing evening out.
Fifteen years later, a fully grown Michael—who hasn’t uttered a word since his fratricide—escapes from the psychiatric ward he’s called home for the last decade and a half. He finds his way back to Haddonfield, killing a trucker for his blue coveralls and inexplicably stealing a Halloween mask from a costume shop while en route, and then proceeds to stalk high school student Laurie Strode, a shy and demure girl of seventeen. Laurie first notices Michael watching her outside of her classroom at school, and then later in the backyard of her house. Her friends think she’d being silly, and Michael seems to have an uncanny knack for disappearing like Batman whenever Laurie gives him a double take.
What would you give up to have it all? Your job? Your family? A story told in reverse (Memento-style!) explores the lengths to which we go….
August 28, 2013 by Michael Shields
“It almost doesn’t look real,” Karen remarked while leaning forward in the passenger seat of Brendan’s station wagon, her glance slated upwards at the splattering of clouds blanketing the electric blue sky. A huge grin adorned her face as the wind rifled through the open windows, furiously gyrating her hair about her face, bothering her not at all.
“It’s the top of the world honey. Truly nothing like it,” Brendan responded with a matching grin.
They continued down the open road in silence, soaking up the intoxicating feeling of being alive, of being finally free. Montana had been a dream of Brendan and Karen’s for years now. At first it was more of castle in the sky than anything else; a mantra they would utter to each other amidst the tough days to ease the pain. A cathartic safe word that symbolized a utopian promised land free of problems where they could live out the rest of their days in utter peace. Soon, as the heat start coming down on Brendan things changed, and finding a way out became imperative. It was then that Montana became a likely destination, as Brendan had a history in Big Sky Country. He had people there who could possibly help them.
by: Douglas Grant
A fan’s loyalty ofttimes becomes challenged when an artist chooses to take risks. We ask…..Is this fair?
Fandom is a strange phenomenon. When you’re talking about a business, or even an individual trying to build a brand around themselves, a fan’s loyalty is based on the relationship established with that business, where a mutually satisfactory service has been rendered. Assuming quality control is consistent, that fan will always walk away happy and willing to talk about the experience with a friend or associate.
Now, when you’re talking about being a fan of an art form, particularly music, things get a little trickier. Artists have something that they need to say to the world, and can only hope that what they produce builds up a loyal and self-perpetuating following, a following made up of individuals whose tastes are closely aligned with the artists’ work. It’s quite a rewarding experience for both parties involved when this type of relationship is established, but every now and then a funny occurrence takes place: Somewhere along the road, artists will attempt a broadening of their horizons and explore new territory, and oftentimes—to the dismay of the artists—their fan base will be divided. One side is made up of loyal fans who hold fast to the belief that the artists they have listened to for so long can do no wrong. But the other side is made up of fans who are unmovable in their beliefs that they’ve been let down. This latter side consists of those who’ve come to expect a certain style, or sound, from an artist, and they can be very unforgiving when someone they’ve listened to for years has suddenly strayed from that sound that made them fans to begin with. These are usually the kinds of fans who are quick to opine that a musician or band—aside from financial gain or mass exposure—has “sold out.”
Across the Margin celebrates its 200th post with a collaboration piece that explores the idea of infinite possible universes. We have fun with the theory behind these hypothetical universes by looking at the various realities our chosen protagonist, one Stephen Holden the Third, could exist in…..
Quantum Spectral Line #1 – by Douglas Grant
Tripp Holden brought his right arm up off of the floor and slammed it on the glass coffee table like a drowning man reaching for a life raft. He used the leverage to lift his chest up slightly from his prone position, and his head started spinning. He propped himself up on his elbows, and then slowly rose into a kneeling position. Wedged in between the hotel suite’s couch and coffee table, he was okay with the fact that his movements were restricted. He took a look around to get his bearings, his eyes adjusting to the late morning sunlight that was pouring into the room. A quick glance downward confirmed that he was stark naked. He closed his eyes as the throbbing pulse in his skull continued unabated. What the hell happened last night?
He managed to climb up onto the couch and lean back into the cushions. He took quick stock of the coffee table in front of him. There was powdery residue alongside a rolled up hundred-dollar bill, unsalvageable, and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s that was three quarters depleted. In a jerky motion he wrapped his right hand around the bottle’s neck and pulled it to him. He took a swig, trying to piece together last night’s events after the show, and failing utterly.
by: Douglas Grant and Michael Shields (respectively)
In remembrance of one of this generation’s greatest actors…..
‘You don’t get it. You’re like Mozart.” – David Chase to James Gandolfini
My first experience with James Gandolfini’s work was his role as Virgil in True Romance, where he beat Patricia Arquette’s character, Alabama, half to death. It was one of the most disturbing scenes I’d ever seen on film. The next time I remember him in a role was when he played Eddie Poole in 8MM, a seedy snuff-porn film producer involved with the murder and cover-up of a young girl. His character here was equally brutal, and I worried that this guy, whose acting ability I admired, was going to be typecast as a sociopath. Then I became acquainted with Tony Soprano, his most celebrated role, the role of a lifetime on arguably the best-written television show of all time. Here, too, he played a sociopath.
I didn’t start watching The Sopranos until halfway through season 2, but I was immediately taken with the dialogue and dramatic storyline. I recognized Gandolfini right away as that creep who’d disturbed me into dwelling on those previous two movies for an uncomfortably prolonged period of time, and I thought to myself, Oh, he’ll suit this role nicely.
Longtime Across the Margin contributor Douglas Grant shares with us an excerpt from his latest novel – “Imaginary Lines“
Cover art by Chris Thompson
“The youth are the most vulnerable,” Eddie continued. “Find a boy and get sway over him, often with the promise of cash, and you can mold him into whatever you want him to be. Those with very little to lose who see opportunity are easy to manipulate. Men like you and me will never know what horrible acts we’re truly capable of. But the boys poised to become men in Mexico are discovering these things about themselves every day.”
Eddie paused, and Kyle wondered if he was finished. When the pause lingered, Kyle spoke up. “But we’re talking about Mauricio. He’s not in Mexico. He’s here in California trying to earn an honest day’s pay.”
by: Douglas Grant
The best thirty seconds of your day……
There’s a daily ritual you have that gives you a tremendous sense of peace. It happens first thing in the morning, every morning, and it doesn’t matter if the weather is scorching or frigid, sunny or rainy. Every day, on the way to your office, you pass by the community garden, and these brief few moments set the tone for the rest your day, often putting matters in perspective. But today you’ve grown extremely agitated, almost irrationally so. Today you blew right by the community garden without even glancing in its direction, and the disappointment you feel toward yourself because of your negligence is rather troubling.
It takes you approximately thirty seconds to walk from the community garden’s north end to its south. Thirty seconds in your entire day. You learned long ago that you benefit the most from structure and routine, and regardless of how much you may boast about how willing you are to experience new things, you acknowledge that you are a creature of habit. You’re grateful that this garden has been placed in your path on the way to your office. You’ll never pick up the pace when you’re strolling by it, even if you’re running late, and yet neither will you linger in an attempt to prolong the experience. Thirty seconds is all you get. Sometimes when you walk along the pathway while listening to music and sipping on your coffee, you’ll gaze through the chain-link fence and consciously raise your awareness. You become truly appreciative of the collective efforts of the young caretakers who brought their vision to fruition. The sight moves you. You won’t realize it then, but this may be the highlight of your entire day.
Posted on May 15, 2013
by: Douglas Grant
Day 6 of our 12 days of holiday stories brings us back to a fortuitous meeting which occurred on Christmas in 1985, and the event which arose from this encounter….
A transcript taken from the Channel 9 News archive:
December 24, 1989
Anchorman Silas Whitfield: We go now to Veronica Luz, reporting live from Avenue L and 23rd Street.
Luz: Thanks, Silas. I’m coming to you live from St. Mark’s Lutheran Church here in the downtown area, where a once simple nativity scene has over the years blossomed into a local phenomenon. What you see behind me is a coming together of the community in the spirit of the holidays, which all started five years ago, when the man next to me, Eddie Boyle, brought his family here when he had nowhere else to go. Eddie, tell us what happened on that Christmas Eve five years ago.
by: Douglas Grant
Some necessary self-evaluation in the age of absorbing rapid fire camera shots from a brightly lit screens….
The other day was one of those beautiful crisp autumn days, and I was sitting on a park bench when I noticed a group of four teenagers nearby. I really couldn’t say whether they were friends or not. They were in close enough proximity to each other to suggest they were well acquainted, but they weren’t talking to each other. They were all on their smart phones.
Although I didn’t get all that much out of grad school, I did have some interesting discourses with some rather avant-garde instructors who encouraged me to look at certain issues from several different perspectives. One such instructor took a course based on higher-level math concepts and embedded it with a study on how our brains—for better or for worse—are changing in the way in which they take in, process, and synthesize information in this new technological era. Three years later, all the lengthy discussions we had on that topic frequently come to mind. And three years really isn’t very long in the grand scheme of things, but so much has changed in that time. Nothing being suggested here is in any way profound, but when placed in a certain historical context, a quick look at the way in which our external stimuli has exponentially risen in the last century is quite intriguing.