Saturday, June 17, 2006

Retro Pulp Tales:

So I'm here at the Sofitel Hotel in Houston. The MWA workshop is over, and I've been reading some of the stories from the anthology I mentioned in the post below. Wow. Joe Lansdale has really put together a terrific anthology. It opens with James Reasoner's "Devil Wings over France: a 'Dead-Stick' Mallory Story." This is all action, all the time, and it's like something ripped from the pages of Daredevil Aces. It's followed by Chet Williamson's "From the Back Pages, a story made up of letters from various pulp letter columns (the columns are all real even if the letters aren't) and a short excerpt from a story for Terror Tales. Great stuff. Then we get "Sex Slaves of the Dragon Tong" by F. Paul Wilson. I heard Wilson read this at ConDFW in February, and I've been wanting to read it myself ever since. A wonderful story with a great title. James Reasoner's title is a great one too. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the stories, even mine. I hope this book gets a mass market edition. It deserves one.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Yet Another Way for You to Spend Money Wisely

Lansdale, Retro Pulp Tales: Subterranean Press: "These stories are all pulp-inspired, hoping to capture the story-telling ability and fast pace of tales from 30, 40, 50 years ago and more. In Retro Pulp Tales, the hunt for a serial killer plays out in a pulp-magazine letters column (Chet Williamson), mishaps haunt a helicopter crash simulator (Stephen Gallagher), and a real-life 'Gidget' sees things in space alien terms (Melissa Mia Hall). Other contributors include Norman Partridge, Tim Lebbon, Kim Newman, F. Paul Wilson, Alex Irvine, Bill Crider, Gary Phillips, and James Reasoner."

Hey, Bigfoot Lives in Texas, Too!

Bigfoot is bigger than life at museum - Science - "POCATELLO, Idaho - The director of the Idaho Museum of Natural History says it won't matter whether Bigfoot is farce or fact when a new exhibit opens Friday.

Linda Deck, who is also curator of the Bigfoot exhibit, said the museum is taking a neutral position and simply displaying artifacts that involve the legendary creature that some say lives secretly in the Northwest.

'As human beings we make sense of our world in a variety of different ways,' Deck told the Idaho State Journal. 'We've got our myths, legends and beliefs and a very scientific way of knowing about our world, too, where we make hypotheses and test things and learn and change what we think.'"

New On-Line SF Zine

According to editor William Sanders, "This magazine had its origins in a discussion among some of us disgruntled bastards concerning the present rather discouraging state of speculative fiction; and in particular the timidity and conservatism that seemed to be taking hold in the editorial offices of the SF magazines. Several of us had recently had the experience of having perfectly valid stories bounce merely because they were too 'dark', too unconventional — or, most disturbingly of all, too likely to offend somebody. (Particularly the Jeebus Nazis or the Sons of the Prophet; everybody on both sides of the Atlantic seemed to be afraid of pissing them off — with one possible exception, and none of us could write Danish.)"

Sounds interesting, and the stories are by authors whose names you should recognize (including Janis Ian). It's free, but you can contribute through PayPal if you'd like to help. Check it out.

The Swan of Avon

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) — "How beauteous mankind is!" For lovers of William Shakespeare, memorizing one of Hamlet's soliloquies or recalling whether The Tempest is a romance or a tragedy just got easier.

Web search leader Google Wednesday launched a site devoted entirely to the Bard, that allows U.S. users to browse through the full texts of his 37 plays. Readers can even plug in words, such as "to be or not to be" from Hamlet, and immediately be taken to that part of the play.

Hardboiled Heroes and Cozy Cats

Judy and I will be in Houston this weekend for the annual workshop of MWA's Southwest Chapter. Blogging will most likely be light to nothing at all, but check the blogroll for some other places to visit. I've just added Jan Burke's fine blog, "Is This Thing On," so have a look.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Hackman Blues -- Ken Bruen

You knew that Gene Hackman was the first choice to star as Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch, didn't you? And that he was the sixth choice to play Popeye Doyle in The French Connection? So if you knew, why am I bringing this up? Because
  • if Hackman had played Mike Brady, The Hackman Blues would never have been written
  • one character in The Hackman Blues fancies that he looks like Gene Hackman and loves to watch Hackman's movies
  • another character in The Hackman Blues is named Brady
  • I don't think items two and three could possibly be accidental
  • I wanted to make a list
I offer all that (free of charge!) to future grad students planning to do theses on the novels of Ken Bruen.

As for the book itself, it's a terrific story of a kidnapping gone spectacularly wrong (read it as a companion piece to Rilke on Black). Tony (not Mike) Brady and a couple of buddies do the job. At first, kidnapping's not their intent, but someone mentions how easily the job they're going could be turned into a big payday for all of them. Boy, are they mistaken. Best you read the book to find out why. It's short, fast, and hardboiled, a Gold Medal book for the new noir. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bob Dylan on XM

Bob Dylan Theme-Time Radio
Playlist 6/14/06
Theme: Fathers

Jimmie Rodgers, Daddy and Home
Shep and the Limelites, Daddy’s Home
Everly Brothers, That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine
Bobby “Blue” Bland, Dust Got in Daddy’s Eyes
Julie London, Daddy
John Hiatt, Your Dad Did
Charlie Sheen comments on his dad (what’s with Bob’s obsession with Charlie Sheen?)
Sons of the Pioneers, My Daddy (Great comment on Bob Nolan. Who knew that Dylan was a huge fan?)
The Winstons, Color Him Father
Leroy Carr, Papa’s on the Housetop
Jack Rhodes and His Lhonde Star, Mama Loves Papa (but Papa Loves Women)
The Temptations, Papa Was a Rolling Stone
Lowell Fulsom, Father Time
The Swan Silvertones, Father Alone
Elvis Costello talks about his father
Ross McManus (Elvis’s Dad), Patsy’s Girl
Hank Williams, My Son Calls Another Man Daddy
Ward Cleaver reads Beaver’s essay on his father

Happy Birthday, Gene Barry!

Eighty-seven years old today. Bat Masterson. Burke's Law. Even Our Miss Brooks. But most memorably to me, the original War of the Worlds (he has a cameo in the remake), a movie that scared me to death when I was a little shaver.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Superman: The Movie

Done in 30 seconds. With bunnies.

In Case You Were Wondering . . .

. . . these guys count so you don't have to. Thanks to Yes But No But Yes for the link.

The Number Of Fucks In Deadwood: "HBO's series Deadwood had a reputation for salty dialogue even before the first episode aired. It was nearly impossible, they said, to keep count of the number of f-words spoken during each program. We took it as a challenge."


Guardian Unlimited Film | News | In brief: Eminem guns for new film role: "After his successful acting debut in 8 Mile in 2002, Eminem is heading back to the silver screen. The US rapper is planning to play a bounty hunter in Have Gun, Will Travel, a modern-day adaptation of a 1950s western TV series about a gunfighter for hire. The film could be set in the rapper's hometown of Detroit and Eminem could contribute to the soundtrack."

Happy Birthday, Dorothy L Sayers!

Dorothy L Sayers: "Dorothy Leigh Sayers was born at Oxford on 13th June 1893, the only child of the Rev. Henry Sayers, of Anglo-Irish descent. Her father was at the time headmaster of Christ Church Cathedral School, and she was born in the headmaster's house. She was brought up at Bluntisham Rectory, Cambridgeshire, and went to the Godolphin School, Salisbury, where she won a scholarship to Somerville College, Oxford. In 1915 she graduated with first class honours in modern languages. Disliking the routine and seclusion of academic life she joined Blackwell's, the Oxford publishers, worked with her Oxford friend Eric Whelpton at L'Ecole des Roches in Normandy, and from 1922 until 1931 served as copywriter at the London advertising firm of Bensons.

In 1923 she published her first novel, Whose Body, which introduced Lord Peter Wimsey, her hero for fourteen volumes of novels and short stories. She also wrote four other novels in collaboration and two serial stories for broadcasting. Writing full time she rose to be the doyen of crime writers and in due course president of the Detection Club. Her work, carefully researched and widely varied, included poetry, the editing of collections with her erudite introductions on the genre, and the translating of the Tristan of Thomas from mediaeval French. She admired E C Bentley and G K Chesterton and numbered among her friends T S Eliot, Charles Williams and C S Lewis."

Good News for Bogart Fans

Warner Home Video have announced the Region 1 DVD release of Humphrey Bogart: The Signature Collection Volume 2 for 12th September 2006. Highlighting this collection which honours one of the most popular movie actors of all time is a deluxe new 3-Disc Special Edition of The Maltese Falcon, featuring a newly-remastered edition of the 1941 John Huston masterpiece starring Bogart as Dashiell Hammett’s definitive Sam Spade. This new deluxe set is loaded with hours of bonuses including the 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon and the 1936 film, Satan Met a Lady, commentary by Bogart biographer Eric Lax, a recently recovered additional scene as well as vintage Warner “Night at the Movies” features.

Also contained in the collection are four more Bogart classics making their DVD debuts -- Across the Pacific, Action in the North Atlantic, All Through the Night and Passage to Marseille. Each film has been restored from the original camera negatives and has been digitally remastered, with each title enhanced with entertaining features.

Thanks to Jaime Weinman for the tip.

Monday, June 12, 2006

One by One Our Precious Freedoms are Being Taken Away

Ore. Man With 3 Gators Feels Unwelcome: "TUALATIN, Ore. -- They may not be soft and cuddly, but James 'Bugs' Brown said his three alligators are beloved pets. He said the gators -- Chomper, Hisser and Snapper -- are like family. And he'd rather move than cave to the pressure from the city to get rid of them.

Brown has lived in the city for 26 years and his oldest alligator has been with him since 1985. But recent concerns from a neighbor prompted the City of Tualatin to push Brown to say 'see ya later' to his pets. "

This Never Happened Where I Used to Work

Who said that Brits aren't wild and crazy?

BBC NEWS | UK | England | Tyne | Probe into 'naked civil servants': "Civil servants on Tyneside are under investigation amid allegations staff romped around naked in offices and had sex in toilets.

The agency said it was investigating claims that staff leapt naked from filing cabinets, had sex in office toilets, held break-dancing competitions during working hours and fought in a reception area.

Good News?

I've just heard that the paperback rights to A Mammoth Murder have been sold and that I got a nice little bump in the advance from the pb publisher. I should be happy about that, right? And I am, I guess. The problem is that the paperback publisher is Worldwide, and Worldwide no longer distributes books to stores. You can only get them in boxes of Breeze. No, wait, that's those colorful towels. You can only get Worldwide paperbacks if you're a member of their subscription service. That doesn't seem like a great way to build an audience. (See post below.) At any rate, what you should do is buy a hardback copy right now. Either that or join Worldwide's subscription program. You can't go wrong!

Deadwood: Season Three

This post should be called "How Not to Build an Audience."

I watched the third season opener of Deadwood last night. Even with the introductory clips, it took me a while to get into the show again, and I was still unclear about what was going on for a few minutes after that. So I started wondering, what if someone who'd heard about the show but never watched decided to tune in for the first time? I think that person would be completely baffled, maybe so baffled that he'd turn off the TV set or lose interest and switch channels, never to watch again. It's not an easy show in the first place, and coming in now would be like picking up War and Peace and starting to read about 2/3 of the way into the book.

That being said, as a fan of the show I enjoyed the episode, and I'm looking forward to seeing how things play out over the season. Since HBO has decided not to renew the series but to have a couple of two-hour movies next year instead, I'm hoping some of the story lines will be resolved over the coming weeks.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse -- Lee Goldberg

I've never seen an episode of Monk, so why would I be reading a novel based on that particular TV series? Because it was written by Lee Goldberg, and I've enjoyed several of Lee's other novels, including those based on Diagnosis Murder.

I expected this book to be funny, well-plotted, and generally solid all-around entertainment, and I wasn't disappointed. As the cover of the book tells you (if you're unfamiliar with the TV series), Monk is obsessive, compulsive, and a detective. He has real problems, but luckily he also has Natalie Teeger, the narrator of the novel, who takes care of him. In fact, as the book opens, he's moving into Natalie's house while his is being fumigated.

A lot of the book's humor arises from Monk's attempts to adjust to living away from his own environment, and the whole plot is generated because Natalie's young daughter is upset by the death of a firehouse dog. Monk declares he'll find the killer, and the book is off to the races. I had a lot of fun reading this, and if you're in the mood for a couple of hours of pure entertainment, you probably would, too.

You Know You Like to Watch

Paris Hilton's music video.