January 05, 2005

The sound you are hearing is the primal scream of Patricia Cornwell, jumping from her helicopter, sans parachute, into a roiling sea of mediocrity

You know, I'm a big believer in dreaming large, self-improvement and all the rest. I mean, it is New Year's week, and we have to observe the social custom of maintaining the pretense that we are going to somehow institute change and reform in our lives, at least until the new season of the Bachelorette emerges from its cocoon and we can revert to our usual selves.

So it's, like, wrong, to mock someone's dreams. Yet, we all know I'm a bad person, so here goes nothing.

It was bad enough when David Lee Roth became a paramedic. I mean, you've just been in a car accident, they've used the jaws of life to cut you out of the car, you're woozy, things are distorted, they put you in the ambulance, you look up and whammo---you see the face of David Lee Roth leaning over you, what remains of your brain kicks in with the opening riff of Van Halen's seminal "Running with the Devil" and you figure, yep, my goose is cooked, all my link whoring to Allahpundit has cost me my immortal soul, not realizing of course that the former Van Halen front man is just pursuing his life long dream of wearing blue polyester jump suits and running red lights just like Roy and Johnny on Emergency!

So you can see my concern here with the following story, brought to us by the luscious lawyer LawrenKMills, about Britney Spears wanting to, um, like, become a crime scene technician:

Brit has allegedly told friends she is considering swapping her singing career for student life and enrolling at university to study for a degree after being motivated by a TV series.

A source told Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper: "It sounds ridiculous but she's been inspired by TV's CSI, which shows scientists solving crimes. Insiders have revealed that the 23-year-old star, who launched her music career at 16, has even consulted 'Star Wars' beauty Natalie Portman - who graduated from prestigious Harvard University two years ago after studying psychology - about her plans to return to education.

A number of things leap instantly to the front of the brain: the picture of Harvard University President Larry Summers howling in laughter over his wheaties, screaming out "Not freaking likely, wonder girl!"; or, the black and white image of angry eastern European late-19th century villagers armed with torches and pitchforks chasing after Jerry Bruckheimer seeking to horribly kill and mutilate his corpse to expiate his sin in creating such a monster that is the CSI franchise.

For me, however, it's the vision of Patricia Cornwell, in a Hitchcockian framing, screaming, with the camera panning out in jarring sequence: close up of the inside of her mouth, then her face, than the room, then the house, then north america, then earth....all the while, the scream of "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...." not diminishing one iota.

I kind of feel bad for Cornwell. Over Christmas I read two of her latest Scarpetta novels, "The Last Precinct" and "Blowfly." The last one could really be retitled "The Case of the Prize Winning Novelist Who Invented the Whole Genre of Post-Modern Forensic Thrillers Who Completely Runs Out of Ideas and Decides to Really Stink Out the Joint." Or, "Scarpetta Gets Old and Bitter," since "Scarpetta, once the coolest Forensic scientist in the world, totally Jumps the Shark" would be way too obvious.


You know a novelist is in trouble when they bring back characters they had killed off three or four stories earlier and then try to in effect rewrite the stories in between in light of this plot twist. So, Benton Wesley never died, was just in some sort of Interpol super secret witness protection (kind of like Dean Wormer's double-secret probation, no?) because he's scared of a French crime cartel, the Fredo of which just happens to be a werewolf. And Lucy--the scrumptious super genius, super buff, uber-lesbian gun nut FBI/ATF agent is now a sleazy assasin for the CIA. Oh, and Marino's gay.


I've never understood why they didn't make a movie or tee-vee show out of Cornwell's characters, but I imagine it might have something to do with her being a world-class control freak. Still, it's a shame that the most popular genre on tee-vee is one she in effect created yet it seems to have burned her out as a writer.

Posted by Steve at January 5, 2005 09:59 AM

Marino is gay? Is this in the new one? Man, I LOVE her books, but she has gone way out on some limbs lately.

Posted by: Lawren at January 5, 2005 10:16 AM

many moons ago, before Mrs. LMC and I began dating, I was at the home of her predecessors who showed me a Davidson College yearbook which included a shot of then-senior Patricia Cornwall astride a Harley with some long-hair sitting with her. Even at that time, she had that look of a gal who will try anything twice-the second time to confirm the experience of the first. No question about it, she is a player.

Posted by: LMC at January 5, 2005 01:08 PM

Natalie Portman went to Harvard? Wow. And then went on to be in the Star Wars movies. Every geeky guy's dream.

Reminds me of a story. One of my college roommates, who went on to post a 3.996 GPA, went to Yale Law School, and became a highly successful Wall Street investment banker, had applied to Princeton and failed to get in. This was in the same year that Brooke Shields was accepted.

I used to routinely point out to him that Brooke Shields was, obviously, much smarter than he was. It never failed to get him mad. The mere sight of Brooke Shields on a television or in a magazine used to make him flush with anger.

Now can you imagine the insane, madman-in-the-clock-tower type rage that a person could be provoked into, knowing that he failed to get into Harvard when Brittany Spears was accepted?

Posted by: The Colossus at January 5, 2005 01:16 PM

Marino is not gay - you may have him confused with Kellerman's cop pal Milo, if you read his novels as well. Marino-Milo - similar yet different.

The rest of your assessment of Cornwell's latest books is hilarious and right on. I have grown increasingly disappointed in her stuff and have no plans to continue reading the Scarpetta novels.

Her one non-Scarpetta attempt was horrible as well.

Posted by: jen at January 5, 2005 03:31 PM

The early Cornwells are prime stuff. Paranoia always hums just beneath the surface. The middle Cornwells have inventive plots. But she's really gasping now.

The first few pages of 'Blowfly' - a mind-numbingly witless dinner party, for god's sake - reminded me of George Lucas. When wealthy writers become supremely bored with their own creations, it's time to do something else.

Posted by: lyle at January 5, 2005 04:40 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?