Friday, June 24, 2011


Love watching a suspense film and knowing what’s ‘around the corner’? Many  movies, especially the vintage ones, offer the viewer plenty of clues as to what lies ahead. The obvious cliché is the young woman in the horror film who, alone in the house, decides to go down to the basement in order to ‘investigate a noise’. 

What follows are ten giveaways that portend what is going to happen by the end of the movie. Can you think of more?:

1.   If someone is lying on his deathbed cheerfully relaying what his plans are for the immediate future, odds are there is no future in store, immediate or otherwise.

2.   If a questionable character poses the question, ‘Do you have any close family or friends, anyone who would miss you if, say, you disappeared?’, it would be best for our hero or heroine to proceed with caution.

3.   If we are only witness to a gloved hand committing a murder, the murderer is most likely a woman. (It also stands to reason that if a serial killer is not committing sex crimes, there’s a good chance that, here too, the killer is a woman.)

4.   In a mystery where someone has done something very, very evil, a look at the credits will often suggest who the heavy is even before the film has begun. (ie. Don Porter in older films and perhaps Christopher Walken in newer ones).

5.   A former bad guy who turns good and fingers his cronies will still have to die but will die a ‘noble death’ (ie. saving the life of the heroine).

6.   If a woman lets go of her toddler’s hand for any reason (ie. to pay a cashier or to powder her nose) said toddler will inevitably wander into traffic with dire consequences.

7.   It is rarely the guy on the lower end of the food chain who is morally responsible for a crime committed. Usually the heavy is a man of influence (editor of a newspaper, politician, corporate heavy).

8.   If a woman marries a man about whose background she knows very little, she will probably live to regret it. (This is particularly the case in films made prior to Google).

9.   If a beloved pet is introduced at the beginning of a murder mystery there is, unfortunately, a good chance that said pet will not be alive by the end of the film.

10. If a woman laughs at a furious man and he warns her to stop laughing at him, it’s a safe bet that the man, often a psychopath, will put an end to the laughing by either strangling or stabbing her to death.

            And of course, if a film ends in an intentionally ambiguous way, we can assume that the producers are thinking ‘sequel’.

Have a nice weekend, Vivian.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Enjoy reading but don’t get as much time to do much of it any more?  I sometimes imagine myself sipping a tall drink with an umbrella in it and having the time to read one of the half dozen books stacked on my nightstand. Books I’ve been meaning to get to.

I’ve been warned that this is a dangerous fantasy. Recall the Twilight Zone episode wherein loner, Burgess Meridith, wishes only to be left alone so that he can indulge his passion for reading. When he is left the sole survivor of a nuclear holocaust, he is delighted to discover that the local library has remained unscathed. As he reaches for his first book he inadvertently steps on his glasses, crushing them into miniscule pieces. Consequently, he is unable to read a thing.

Moral of the story?  Diversify one’s passions.

What follows is a little game of trivia where you can match a protagonist of fiction to his or her novel. Some are easier than others. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see how well you did.
Good luck and have a great week, Vivian

1.  Melanie Hamilton Wilkes                       a. Death of a Salesman
2.  Allison Mackenzie                                   b. Pride and Prejudice
3.  Guy Woodhouse                                     c. Catcher in the Rye
4.  Catherne Earnshaw                               d.  A Tale of Two Cities
5.  Ichabod Crane                                        e.  Peyton Place
6.  Atticus Finch                                           f.  Gone With the Wind
7.  Elizabeth Bennet                                     g.  Wuthering Heights
8.  Holden Caulfield                                     h.  To Kill a Mockingbird
9.  Sidney Carton                                         i.  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
10. Willy Loman                                          j.  Rosemary's Baby

1.f  2.e 3.j 4.g 5.i 6.h 7.b 8.c 9.d 10a

Friday, June 10, 2011

Welcome to Rhodes Less Traveled

I’ve worn many hats throughout my life: wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, tutor, teacher, production assistant.  I bartended one night (Quit when the owner informed me that due to his ‘broken arm’ I’d be expected to assist him in buttoning and unbuttoning his fly for the next few weeks), I helped costume a movie, and I was a game show contestant (three times, winning big on Name That Tune).

In my lifetime, however, there is one hat I always wore: that of a writer. I’ve been writing as far back as I can remember; I even wrote class plays back in elementary school. I’ve written for the soaps (As the World Turns, General Hospital), for one sitcom back in the eighties, (It was called ‘You Again’ and it starred John Stamos and Jack Klugman; when asked about it I like to say that if you sneezed, it was off the air), and I’ve been published in the Op-Ed section of the L.A. Times.

I also collaborated with my late husband, Rick, a brilliant and prolific TV and Film composer who won five Emmy Awards in his lifetime (I was nominated twice but didn’t win. What they say about its being just as much of an honor to have been nominated?  Not so much, although one time I lost out to Kenny Loggins…I thought that was pretty impressive). In addition to songs, Rick and I worked together on a musical entitled UG, a Caveman Musical, written by TV writer/producer, Jim Geoghan. It debuted here in L.A. in 2007 and did fairly well; UG is performed throughout the country and hopefully it will play locally again some time soon.

When Rick succumbed to brain cancer in 2005 my world went dark and remained so for quite some time. It took me a year before I could read a book, almost two years before I could listen to music again (I still can’t listen to his), and three years before I went out on my first date (and found out how much the dating world had changed in the years I’d been married). I didn’t write at all.

Recently, though, I’ve re-discovered my ‘writing voice’. For one thing, I’m in the process of revising my two previously published mystery novels so that I can make them available as ‘e-books’. (Plan to discuss this process at some later time). I also made a decision to blog. I’ve never kept a journal (only a diary when I was fourteen years old) and I’m not too technologically savvy, but I realized that blogging was a natural fit for me.

I don’t plan on sharing each minute detail of my life (who cares what I ate for lunch?) Instead, I hope to share my views and offer a new perspective about subjects that are dear to me: classic films, especially noir (I received my M.S. degree in Film and Television from Syracuse University), writing, murders (both fictional and not), mystery novels, nostalgia, pop culture, and life’s ironies in general.

Looking forward to having many old friends and new ones join me as I journey on Rhodes Less Traveled.