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November 24, 2012


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Glenn Kenny

Update, for those playing at home, the piece has been re-gone-over and typos fixed. All of them, I hope. Anybody see any, please do drop me an e-mail. Sorry. GK

Gordon Cameron

>I'm sure you all know about the book that claims Lewis Carroll was Jack the Ripper. If not, seek it out. It's magnificently unconvincing.

That book is amazing. The effort that guy must have put into unscrambling a bunch of fictional anagrams...

Josh Z

Amusingly, I just bought a house, and was informed that the former owner (now deceased) was a friend of John Huston, who spent a lot of time drinking bourbon in her basement rec room. Photographic evidence of this was provided, and he left his pipe behind. Digging into the story a little, come to find out that she was actually his long-time mistress (or one of them).

I plan to gut the basement and turn it into a home theater.


"Black Dahlia Avenger" was the book whose author, Steve Hodel, claimed his father was the killer. He obviously convinced Thomson, and he also convinced James Ellroy, who wrote an introduction to the paperback edition saying the mystery was solved, as far as he was concerned.

In that paperback edition, Hodel "ties" his father to about a dozen other unsolved murders, including that of Ellroy's mother. What irony -- the "Black Dahlia" novelists's own mother was slain by the Black Dahlia killer! If you believe this theory.

Fabian W.

Ellroy also says that he doesn't really care (anymore?) about who killed Elizabeth Short and usually refers to Larry Harnisch, who was very critical of the Hodel theory, when it comes to genuine theories about the identity of the killer.


Hodel's book is fairly convincing until that last part, when he ties his dad to just about every unsolved slaying in the Los Angeles area during the '40s and '50s. Maybe someone told him that serial-killer books sell.


If ZODIAC has taught us nothing else, it's that the thing about these things is how *many* incredibly convincing theories there are. But they can't all be right.

Ellroy also said that "closure is bullshit." I think he'd rather stand by that then "Hodel did it."

Fabian W.

Can we have another "Zodiac" lovefest now? It's been almost three years. Or maybe dream about Fincher adapting "The Big Nowhere".


I would watch that movie as many times as possible. And it's only been a couple of months since I last saw ZODIAC. I put it on thinking it would work as background while I did other things. I did no other things.

I think the most insightful moment in that whole film is when Paul Avery is pointing out to Graysmith how few deaths, or mysterious, creepy little details, can actually be attributed to the Zodiac Killer, and when Graysmith's face falls Avery says "You look almost disappointed." That moment, or that little bit of psychology, is never commented upon after that, but even in my non-obsessive, entirely amateur-hour interest in the Dahlia case, or more specifically (in my case) Jack the Ripper, I'll be damned if that didn't hit home in a big way.

Fabian W.

My little "Zodiac" moment is when Graysmith asks Toschi about how he can get in touch with Armstrong and he says "You don't". Something about that line just always gets to me. There is this vision of "decency" existing just on the margin of the main action that is just so powerful. And maybe "You look almost disappointed" is the flipside of that.


Yes, there's a very clear "You're doing this for yourself, and you're annoying everybody" message in that line.

Also, watching it again recently, I picked up on a very strong vibe that in the Charles Fleischer scene, which I've always been ambivalent about, Fleischer, who is innocent, realizes that this dope is now thinks he's the Zodiac for, essentially, no really good reason, so he's decided to mess with him. You can see the idea occur to Fleischer at one point. Anyway, that's how it seemed to me.

Fabian W.

That's another thing. When Graysmith comes home after the Fleischer scene, he mutters to himself something like "two killers" - and then immediately forgets it because his wife has left him. It never comes up again. I like this idea that the "puzzle" can't be solved not only because of the elusive nature of truth and all that, but also because, in the words of Toschi, "people get old, they forget".

Fabian W.

Not that I think that Rick Marshall is supposed to be the Zodiac, but that it's another tunnel Graysmith - and probably we, as obsessive viewers - could get lost in. Who knows. He was Ken Narlow's favorite suspect in the whole case after all.


I rewatched MARNIE yesterday, and seeing it again, I have to say my problem with that movie is that I find Tippi Hedren decidedly unerotic.

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