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I’m sure everyone knows by now that Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away last weekend at the heartbreakingly young age of forty-six. Still, I had to acknowledge his passing, as he has long been one of my favorites. He gave life and emotion to every character he played, and as often as not his acting transcended the movie in which he appeared.

Given my unabashed penchant for disaster films (give me an erupting volcano or an approaching meteor any day), I loved Hoffman’s minor—but outrageous—role in the 1996 thriller, Twister. As storm chaser Dusty Davis he stole some of the scenes with

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Dusty in TWISTER.

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Dusty in TWISTER.

his wild outfit and his hilarious lines. Deadpan, sipping on a beverage, he explains tornados to a wide-eyed novice thusly: “The ‘Suck Zone’. It’s the point basically when the twister…sucks you up. That’s not the technical term for it, obviously.”

When Dusty spots the film’s star, Bill Paxton, who has been AWOL from the storm chasers for some time, he shouts, “The Extreme! It’s the Extreme!” Later on, referring to his fiancé, Paxton tells Dusty, “Why don’t you explain to Melissa why you are the way you are?”

With one glaring exception, I’m glad Philip Seymour Hoffman was the way he was. He will be missed.


As a connoisseur of all things haunted—houses, graveyards, hotel rooms, trains, you name it—I had planned a post on 1408, a short story by Stephen King, and later a movie starring John Cusack. This is about a fictional room in an old New York City1408 hotel. Though presented much differently in the two media, each has the ability to scare the crap out of readers or viewers.

Then, just recently, a bit of the proverbial shit hit the proverbial fan in the form of a tweet posted by King regarding the Dylan Farrow incident. As I always strive to avoid controversy, I will stay away from that. Suffice to say, the old horror-meister is not high on many folks’ “like” list at present, so I think that post will be reserved for a future date.


SWORDS & SPECTERS: for two days—Friday, February 7th and Saturday, February 8th—my sword & sorcery novel, The Sons of Ornon, will be available for free Kindle download. Enjoy! Here is a quick abstract.

Ornon, the ruler of the powerful kingdom of Shadzea, fathered twenty sons. In order to find the one son worthy of inheriting the throne, nineteen of them had to die.

Though the life of the Twenty is rigid, Dulok manages to meet secretly with his mother every week. Ornon’s twentieth son has no desire to be the Ornon III Front OnlySurvivor, the future ruler of Shadzea. As soon as they find a way, Dulok and his mother, a humble kitchen servant named Daynea, will flee the City of Kings for a simpler life.

But on a fateful night, as they make their plans, the door to Daynea’s quarters bursts open. There stands Ornon with Buz, his first son—Dulok’s hated half-brother, who has discovered Dulok’s “indiscretion.” With two soldiers restraining him, with Buz laughing cruelly, Dulok watches in horror as Ornon drives a sword into Daynea’s heart. That night, Dulok’s destiny becomes clear. He will survive the deadly Princes’ Trials at all cost, so that he might stand on the Day of the Reckoning. Then, and only then, he will destroy Ornon and Buz, and the life of the gentle Daynea will be avenged.