Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Burning Questions

After "Coke or Pepsi?" perhaps the most important question facing 80s youth was "Tiffany or Debbie Gibson?"

I answer now as I did then:

Gibson turns 34 today, Chris Tucker is 32, and Richard Gere is 55.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Today's Birthdays

Today is a birthday for Shrek star and former L.A. Gear model Cameron Diaz (below, 32) and for "The Shield" star Michael Chiklis (41).

Laura Branigan Dies

From IMdb:
Laura Branigan Dies

American singer Laura Branigan has died from a brain aneurism at the age of 47. The pop star, who found fame in the 1980s with hits "Gloria" and "Self Control," died in her sleep at her home in East Quogue, New York on Thursday. Her brother says Branigan had complained of a head for two weeks before her death, but had not sought medical help. The singer - who started out as a backing singer for legend Leonard Cohen - turned to acting after her musical career began to fade and won roles in TV hit ChiPs and films Mugsy's Girl and Backstage. In one of her last roles she played Janis Joplin in New York stage musical Love, Janis

Friday, August 27, 2004

Represent Queens

Today is Barbara Bach's 57th birthday. Bach--who played Russian Maj. Anya Amasova a.k.a. Agent XXX in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)--was actually born Barbara Goldbach in Queens, NY. Bach is currently married to Ringo Starr.

Robert Davi, who played Colombian drug lord Franz Sanchez in Licence to Kill (1989), was also born in Queens--more specifically Astoria.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Sealed with a Smiley

Received a reply SASE from staplegun press ("Poetry that humps your leg."). The envelope was sealed with a smiley-face sticker, and I thought, Could be a good omen.

It was. My poem "Actors"--inspired by Inside the Actor's Studio--will appear in the upcoming final issue.

Most of my formal training has been in prose, but the two people to read my prose with the most serious eyes of late--one of whom is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop--said they could tell I was a poet.

Having turned the bulk of my efforts to "Home," I've written one poem in the past three months. This acceptance comes as a life nudge just when I needed it: Hey, you're good at this. Keep it up.

My thanks and best to Editor Scott Gordon and Contributing Editor Karl Koweski.

UPDATE (07/27/05): staplegun press folded without publishing the promised final issue in which "Actors" was to appear. I've sent the poem in a batch of three to Greg Edwards at Naked Knuckle.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

AFP reports sixty of the world's top scientists have voted Ridley Scott's Bladerunner--based on the above-titled novel by Philip K. Dick--best sci-fi film ever.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Sean Connery and Regis Philbin

Considered by many the quintessential James Bond, Sean Connery turns 74 today. You may not know that Connery's successor, Roger Moore, is actually three years his senior. Or that Connery wore a toupee in all his films as Bond.

It's also Regis Philbin's 73rd birthday. Philbin--who last week passed Hugh Downs for the Guinness world record number of hours on television--has somehow remained genuinely self-deprecating about his fame. He returned to the East Coast in 1983, the first season of his ABC morning show, and is still the kid from the Bronx who loves his Yankees and stays true to his school (Notre Dame).

Speaking of Regis, my friend D is taping an episode of the daytime Millionaire, hosted by Meredith Viera, in mid-September. If D decides to use me as his Phone-a-Friend, I hope I can be more helpful to him than Téa Leoni was to David Duchovny when he appeared:

"Honey, you're so screwed!"

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Ol' Tip o' the Hat

I caught part of an episode of "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" (1979-1981) in which Buck and Wilma, in a dogfight with the Draconians, are aided by aging space jockey Brigadier Gordon. An approximation of their dialogue:

Buck: Nice moves, Gordon. Have we met before?

Gordon: I don't think so, Captain. I was doing stuff like this since before you were born.

Buck (who is in a sense 500 years old): Are you sure about that?

Gordon: I'm sure.

As you may have guessed, Brigadier Gordon was played by Buster Crabbe, who played the roles of Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Tarzan in the 1930s and 40s.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Wicked Turnaround

...the sequel to Wicked Momentum.

I made final edits to "Home," submitted it this morning, and got a response this afternoon. More details as they cement.

Uncle Jesse Files for Divorce

After a brief separation, John Stamos of Full House fame has filed for divorce from his wife of five years, Rebecca Romijn (love that spelling).

The news has been out a couple of days, but when I saw the above headline on AIM Today, my first thought was of Denver Pyle, Uncle Jesse Duke. For an instant, I forgot he was deceased.

Someday the mountain might get 'em,
but the law never will.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Right Up My Alley

From Yahoo! TV:
Marvel Superheroes Guide to New York City

Ever wonder what real-life New York City landmarks inspired the creators of comic books? Well, wonder no more. Since the 1930s, NYC has been home to many a superhero -- including Spider-Man, Captain America and the Fantastic Four (soon to be a feature film with Michael "The Shield" Chiklis). Over and over again, these spandex-clad champions of justice have saved the citizens of the Big Apple from certain destruction. This special from the Travel Channel will look at the city through the eyes of these pencil-and-ink creatures (and their authors).

I missed Friday's airing, but it's replaying tomorrow at 1 p.m., and I've set the VCR.

"Hey, Carrie-Anne"

Today is Carrie-Anne Moss's 37th birthday. Lots of people know her from The Matrix, but how many remember her from "Matrix," the 1993 supernatural hitman show starring Nick Mancuso as Steven Matrix? This one, a long time have I watched.

Also celebrating today, Kim Cattrall (48) and Kenny Rogers (66).

Wicked Momentum

As is becoming habit, I got up at 2 o'clock this morning, after a solid five hours sleep and edited the last three pages of "Home," thinking They'll never get done if I don't do them now, finishing at 7 a.m. So of course now I'm wired, having wolfed down two toaster waffles and milk, thinking the story is ready to go out to any mag on the planet...

Wake me after Labor Day.

Oh, my mental victory anthem this time? U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)."

Friday, August 20, 2004

If This Sounds Like You...

Also from IMdb:
Superman Returns producers have turned to the internet in a desperate bid to find a lead for the troubled production. Movie bosses behind the superhero sequel began their search for an actor to replace original star Christopher Reeve a year ago - and are now contemplating casting an unknown for the fifth Man Of Steel film. Top Hollywood names, including Jude Law and Keanu Reeves, have already rejected the role for fear of being typecast. Film-makers have now posted an advert on recruitment website Craigslist.Org in another drive to get cameras rolling on the much-delayed movie. The ad reads, "Late 20s, at least 6 foot, chiseled good looks, athletic, strong character, all-American, confident, yet awkward."

To Bond or Not to Bond?

From IMdb:
Australian actor Eric Bana has been approached to play James Bond but has yet to decide on whether to accept the coveted role, according to reports. The Hulk star recently slammed speculation he was poised to replace Pierce Brosnan in the legendary franchise, insisting he had never been approached by producer Barbara Broccoli. But an insider tells London's Evening Standard newspaper that Bana is trying to decide whether starring as the world's favorite super-spy will damage his burgeoning film career, or enhance it. A source says, "Eric has been offered the part of James Bond but is currently deciding whether it's something he really wants to sign up to." According to the Bond insider, both British star Clive Owen and Australia's Hugh Jackman are in line for the role should Bana turn it down.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Gotta Have a Big Sandwich

From AP:
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - It started early one morning in 1997 after a night of partying, when Darrell Butler was a Rutgers University sophomore with little money and a craving for chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks and french fries...(read full story)

The above-described "Fat Darrell" has been named best sandwich in the country by Maxim magazine.


A Facelift for Bond?

From IMdb:
McMahon for Bond?

Nip/Tuck hunk Julian McMahon is the latest big name to be linked to the role of James Bond. The Australian actor - who was once married to Kylie Minogue's sister Dannii - joins established British stars Orlando Bloom, Jude Law and Clive Owen on the list of contenders for the part. It was previously thought that one of McMahon's countrymen, Hugh Jackman or Eric Bana, would take over from Pierce Brosnan, but both sets of rumours have proved to be false. Insiders are not ruling out the prospect of Brosnan making one final outing as the world's favorite superspy in Bond 21, slated for Autumn 2005 release.

Composer Elmer Bernstein Dies

AP reports the composer behind classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Magnificent Seven, and The Ten Commandments has died.

"Film music, properly done, should give the film a kind of emotional rail on which to ride," Bernstein told The Associated Press in a 2001 interview. "Without even realizing that you're listening to music that's doing something to your emotions, you will have an emotional experience."

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Too Old for the Olympics?

I've been trying to come up with a post describing my take on the Olympics. In a nutshell, I miss being able to relate to the athletes. There was a twelve-year window where I was growing up with them, our stories were developing, and realizing their Olympic dreams would finally put them in the spotlight.

Pro athletes, by contrast, have already been in the spotlight. They've received reward for their abilities. We already know how good they are, and an Olympic medal is just another feather in their caps.

Talking about Writing

No entries for Monday and Tuesday this week because I spent most of them writing or thinking about writing. I got a good chunk of "Home" done on Monday, and of course the urge was to write more, finish if possible. Tuesday was spent in thinking mode. No physical advancement on the page. That's the way it goes.

It's difficult to talk more specifically about anything I'm working on because it's so open to change.

To break up staring at the flashing cursor, I've been reading Rain Fall by Barry Eisler, a thriller set in Japan, featuring assassin-for-hire John Rain.

The Vivid, Continuous Dream

Author Alina Adams, guesting on Sarah Weinman's blog, writes:

Does an author's personal life affect your enjoyment of their books? ...Does knowing about an author's personal life help or hinder? Have you ever put down a book because of something you learned about the author? Have you ever picked one up?

When I'm reading, I want to be completely engrossed in the author's fictional world (what John C. Gardner called "the vivid, continuous dream"). Too many details thrown in from the author's life, not well blended into the flow of a story, distract me.

For example, almost all of Robert B. Parker's fiction involves complicated, borderline-obsessive love relationships mirroring Parker's own young commitment, separation, and reconciliation with his wife...

The characters and story are most important in fiction. There are other forums if an author wants to unload, discuss personal beliefs, issues, etc.

To answer the second question, I've only avoided reading a book when I know the author is skimping on effort, rehashing old material, or had the book ghostwritten. Otherwise, I can separate authors' fiction from their personal beliefs. For example, I probably couldn't stand Chandler as a man, but I enjoy his fiction.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Birthdays: Magic, Mac, Martin, and Mila

Once upon a time, I loved to watch the Lakers play. I knew they'd play together and something fantastic would happen each time down the court. Today is Earvin "Magic" Johnson's 45th birthday (shown below on cover dated Mar. 5, 1984). It's also a birthday for Steve Martin (59), Halle Berry (38), Catherine Bell (36), and Mila Kunis (21).

Friday, August 13, 2004

Thursday, August 12, 2004

New Shred of Evidence

Editor Megan Powell has announced Shred of Evidence Issue 7. I promise to read it as soon as I mop up from the story currently flooding my imagination, the aforementioned "Home."

Time to Pay the P.I.-per

Kevin Burton Smith and I are pleased to announce that The Thrilling Detective Web Site is now a paying market.

Our rate is 7.50 USD for first-run P.I. short stories.

Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

It's a year to the day of the blackout that we now know started in Ohio, spreading as far as New York and parts of Canada.

It was four days before my friend John's wedding. He had asked me to read two readings at the ceremony, and had just left my house, having dropped off said readings, when the power went out.

It was almost four p.m., but still bright enough to charge two solar lanterns. We'd replaced our phones a few months before, and my brother had the foresight to make two of them landlines. We survived with two radios, three flashlights, the lanterns, and several candles.

I did my first practice reads by flashlight. The readings, there's a story all its own. Suffice it to say, due to the blackout and a series of karmic twists, I was forced to rehearse the Genesis "from Adam's rib" story and Corinthians' "Love is always patient and kind...Love does not come to an end" in front of a girl friend (sic) from college.

Irony of ironies. Some spaces can never be overcome...

Oh, the day of the wedding? I aced it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Superman's Dreamgirl?

In last week's episode of Justice League Unlimited, Mongul used an alien plant to give Superman a convincing vision of his ideal life (thus brushing aside the Man of Steel on his way to world domination).

In the vision, Kal-El lived on a farm on Krypton, Jor-El was still alive, and Kal-El had a son named Van-El.

The disturbing part: Kal-El was married to a woman who had Lana's red hair and artistic interest,

Lois's voice, violet eyes, and nose for news,

and was named Loana:


"Blog on, Sarah Weinman."

As of this fall, the irrepressible, idiosyncratic, intellectual Sarah Weinman will join the Baltimore Sun as mystery critic.

As they say in the Navy, "Bravo Zulu."

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Mean Streets and Friendly Editors

...is the title of an article in the September 2004 Writer's Digest wherein Stephen D. Rogers examines the essentials of the private eye story and provides an overview of what editors (including yours truly) want. Rogers also runs down several resources available to writers (including DetecToday).

Once again my thanks to Stephen, and good writing to all.

Shot Clock

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Dolph Schayes and some teammates scrimmaged in a small, stuffy high school gym exactly 50 years ago. The short workout helped rescue the NBA and transform professional basketball from a chesslike contest into a fast-paced, gravity-defying game.

"I remember we were all huffing and puffing," the 76-year-old Hall of Famer said. "It was summer, so we were out of shape anyway. It certainly changed the tempo of play. It was all running. No standing around. It made the game more fun to play."

It was Aug. 10, 1954, and a group of team owners and governing board members in the fledgling National Basketball Association — Danny Biasone, Red Auerbach, Ned Irish, Eddie Gottlieb and Clair Bee — sat in the bleachers at Vocational High School in downtown Syracuse and watched as the 20-minute pickup game was played with a 24-second shot clock. (Read full AP story)

Time to Get TiVo?

AP reports:

TiVo Inc. unleashed a marketing campaign and price rebates Monday, marking the digital video recorder pioneer's most aggressive — and most critical — push yet to win subscribers and become profitable...(Read full story)

For a while now I've wondered whether TiVo is worth getting. I record maybe ten hours of TV per week, mostly to keep up with episodes until they're released on DVD.

Currently waiting for JAG and NCIS.

Smokey the Bear Turns 60

Fire prevention mascot Smokey the Bear has been around for sixty years.

When I was five, I had eye surgery, and the doctor gave me a Smokey the Bear doll. I proceded to talk to Smokey whenever no one else had time to listen, until one day Mom gave him away.

I mentioned Smokey to a friend in college whose sister was a park ranger, and one Christmas she gave me a new Smokey complete with hat, belt, and shovel. Best present ever.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Michael Ironside as Sam Lane

Michael Ironside (Jester from Top Gun, Richter from Total Recall) has been cast as Lois Lane's father on "Smallville."

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Is Ireland Atlantis?

Reuters reports a Swedish scientist believes it is.

Week in Review

I finished the first Harry Bosch novel by Michael Connelly on Monday and will gladly read more. My current read, though, is Knots and Crosses, the first John Rebus novel by Ian Rankin. What I look for most with any book is a smooth, confident style of writing. With such writing, I can relax and follow the author's lead, knowing we'll end up somewhere worthwhile.

To round out the week, I've written three pages of a new draft of "Home." Back in May, I documented revising a piece from my second creative writing class at Hofstra for submission to Charlie Stella's issue of Hardluck Stories Zine. The story was rejected, and I've spent the past three months deciding whether to keep at it or move on to a new project. This process is much like testing the waters. What kind of activity are the conditions right for today?

I'm also reminded of a quote from the evil Donovan in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: "It's time to ask yourself what you believe."

Does this idea have staying power? Am I willing to accept a story's smaller measures of a success, not being able to see the exit for a while, as opposed to the quicker pace of a poem?

These questions eventually answer themselves: I'll try to focus on a poem, but still be thinking of "Home." I work on whatever makes the best case for itself, whatever floods my imagination at the moment, making other items seem less important.

Friday, August 06, 2004


Not the sequel to Defender, but the movie starring Kurt Russell and James Spader that spawned the TV series starring Richard Dean Anderson. The series originally aired on Showtime, one of the cable channels I didn't get. Now on Sci-Fi Channel, it has run for seven years below my radar. I ordered the movie on DVD yesterday for background.

I'm not yet familiar with all the races in the Stargate universe. What appeals to me about the show is its mix of military and sci-fi, the former keeping the latter grounded. Also, it's a kick to see Richard Dean Anderson--the man with all the answers as MacGyver--scratch his head, stare blankly, and say, "I got nothing" as Jack O'Neill.

Also picked up The Peacemaker starring Nicole Kidman and George Clooney. Not worth it at the movies, but great for a lazy Sunday in front of the Tube.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Another Bond Bites the Dust

From IMdb:

Bana Slams Bond Reports

Hulk star Eric Bana has dismissed reports he has signed a deal to replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond as "crazy". The 35-year-old Australian actor was at the centre of a media frenzy last week when sources said producer Barbara Broccoli had offered Bana the part. But the Black Hawk Down star says he doesn't even want the coveted role - and has no idea where the story has come from. Bana fumes, "I've said like a million times I wouldn't do it. It's never, ever, ever been something we've had a discussion about. I haven't got a bloody clue where this all started."


Who is Bernard Pivot?

...to paraphrase crimewriter Charlie Stella after he answered the Pivot questionnaire I posted Tuesday.

Wondering, I did a web search. Pivot is a French TV host who came up with the questions for his 1991-2001 program "Bouillon de culture."

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Second Survey: Bernard Pivot

Here's the survey I want to answer. You may recognize it from Inside the Actor's Studio:

Favorite word

Least favorite word

What turns you on?

What turns you off?
Whining, lateness.

Favorite curse word
I like the creativity of everyday words as curse words: "Balls," "Nuts," shaft, screw, bang...

What sound or noise do you love?
Natural rushing water, popcorn popping, basketball going through a net.

What sound or noise do you hate?
Nails on the chalkboard, phone ringing, insects buzzing, tires squealing.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

What profession would you not like to attempt?
Food service.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

"There he is."

First Survey

Dave White commented that he'd like to see my answers to another pointless life-question survey. Seeing as some blogger friends have taken him up, I figure it's only fair:

3. What are you listening to right now: the hum of my computer
4. What are the last 2 digits of your mobile phone number(s): Don't have one.
5. What was the last thing you ate: chicken on a stick
6. If you were a crayon what color appropriate would you be: red
7. What is the weather right now: partly sunny
8. Last person you talked to on the phone: don't remember.
9. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex: Hair.
10. Do you like the person who sent this to you: I try.
11. How are you today: Breathing.
12. Favorite Drink: Lemonade.
13. Favorite Alcoholic drink: White wine.
14. Favorite Sport: Basketball.
17. Siblings: One brother.
18. Favorite Month: June.
19. Last movie you watched: The Bourne Supremacy.
20. Favorite Day of the Year: July 31.
21. Are you too shy to ask someone out: No, but I have to be sure I won't be ignored.
22. Favorite time of year: Early fall
23. Hugs or Kisses: Hugs
24. Chocolate or Vanilla: Chocolate
25. Do you want your friends to write: Write what?
28. Living Arrangements: Single.
29. What books are you reading? KNOTS AND CROSSES by Ian Rankin
30. What is on your mouse pad? The word "BooksAMillion"
31. What did you do last night: Watched "Stargate SG-1"
32. Favorite Smells: Popcorn, garlic, Zest soap.
33. Can you touch your nose with your tongue? No.
34. What inspires you? Anything with rhythm.
35. Popcorn or candy at the movies? Neither, I'm watching.
37. Favorite Cookie: Peanut butter
38. How many books do you own? A lot
39. What's your favorite thing to cook? Omelets.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Bourne vs. Bond

I saw The Bourne Supremacy yesterday. I haven't seen the prequel yet, but I like how tight the continuity seems to be. I also liked how any necessary exposition was weaved into the flow of the action, making for no lulls. For example, Bourne uses gadgets like Bond, but he doesn't need a funny old man to tell him how to use them. It becomes clear eventually what each gadget does.

Bourne also keeps the smug one-liners to mininum, something the Bond people forgot how to do a long time ago.

My only complaint was that the camera work was at times too fast, but if nothing else, that was good for a laugh: Bang-bang-ba-bang-bang!

Finally, like Bond, Bourne has been handed off to a new author after the originator's death. In this case, it's Eric Van Lustbader and his Bourne Legacy, so Bourne could become a box office behemoth, too.