Friday, December 31, 2004

Something I Enjoy: Cereals with Fruit in Them

My favorites include Strawberry Banana Cheerios, Special K Red Berries, Apple Cinnamon Fruit Harvest, and most recently, Strawberry Total. (How'd they get me to like Total?) Thanks to a breakthrough in packaging, we get all the nutrition of cereal with real dried fruit instead of sugar or other sweeteners. Brilliant.

Faster Fast Food

One of my pet peeves is the increase in unnecessary abbreviations, an epidemic only made worse by Netspeak (LOL, ROTFL, BRB, THX). The latest concession I've heard to today's depleted attention span is a radio commercial for "Double QPC."

In case you don't know, that stands for the "Double Quarter-Pounder with Cheese" from McDonald's (also called "Mickey D's".)

CPK, KFC, IHOP...I don't know about you, but I like to take my time with food, even if it is fast food. I'll say "International House of Pancakes" or "Kentucky Fried Chicken" because I relish going there.

The next time you order, try referring to a Quarter-Pounder as a QPC. Let me know how that works for you.

"Would you like FF and a D with your QPC? How about an AP?"

Vincent: And you know what they call a... a... a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?

Jules: They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?

Vincent: No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn't know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is.

Jules: Then what do they call it?

Vincent: They call it a "Royale" with cheese.

Jules: A "Royale" with cheese. What do they call a Big Mac?

Vincent: Well, a Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it "le Big-Mac".

Jules: "Le Big-Mac". Ha ha ha ha. What do they call a Whopper?

Vincent: I dunno, I didn't go into Burger King.


I've never been one for late nights, and New Year's Eve is no exception. This may be due to the curfew my parents set when I was in grade school (9pm on or before school nights). In any case, the times I have stayed awake for New Year's festivities it was because I'd napped earlier in the day.

This much said, I may have my own "Firefly" marathon tonight. Unless I doze off...

Year in Review

A while back I mentioned I have a good memory. What I don't have is an organized memory. As such, I can't rattle off best-of-year lists at will. Thanks to record-keeping, I don't have to:

Best Read (Novel) of 2004:

KNOTS AND CROSSES by Ian Rankin - a great mix; a hard-boiled puzzler with just a twist of psychological thriller.

BALTIMORE BLUES by Laura Lipmann - made me want to read the whole series; that doesn't happen often anymore.

THE GUARDS by Ken Bruen - the subject of much blog debate; I enjoyed it, but can see why others wouldn't.


Best Read (Short Story) of 2004:

"Too Many Crooks" by Donald E. Westlake - a highly humorous Dortmunder tale from an undisputed master.

"Ace in the Hole" by Bill Pronzini - At his weekly poker game, the Nameless Detective solves a crime that has police baffled.

"The Pig Man" by Les Roberts - a well-spun tale of mistaken identity featuring Roberts's other P.I., Saxon.


Best Movie Seen in 2004:

THE INCREDIBLES - a smart take on the everyday lives of superheroes.

SPIDER-MAN 2 - the best comic-book adaptation yet.

CHINATOWN - all the classic P.I. touches with a decidely modern flavor, though set in the 1930s.


Best Album Buy of 2004:

INNOCENT MAN by Billy Joel - hit after 80s hit, "Tell Her About It," "Uptown Girl," "The Longest Time"...

BLUES BROTHERS Original Soundtrack - no lulls beginning to end.

THE BEST OF LYNYRD SKYNYRD Millenium Collection - a little bit country, a little bit rock n' roll.


Best Writing Experience of 2004:

"Home" - worked on this story for three months under the auspices of Charlie Stella and Sarah Weinman. Submitted it to Sarah for SHOTS and received an acceptance the same day.

"Forgive Me Not" - my first published P.I. story after ten years of trying just to get up that hill, featuring California P.I. Chris Harvey.

"Gypped" -- after two months racking my brain for a second Chris Harvey idea, I decide to chuck it and write what's there--a C.J. Stone short short.

I'll remember 2004 as my first year writing full-time. Though the choice was partly involuntary (teaching opportunities dried up), I'm glad to have had the time to explore and expand my portfolio. My goal was to work on something--the craft itself or my understanding of it--every day. The key to this is moving from one project to the next with as little downtime as possible. The year seems to have gone by fast, but thankfully I have the work--and this blog--to show for it.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

"Stranded" Sets Sail

As scheduled, I sent "Stranded" to Confrontation today. It would be great to see this Long Island story in a Long Island mag. I should have a response in two months.

Faith and Lana

Best known for her portrayal of rogue vampire slayer Faith, Boston native Eliza Dushku also played Dana Tasker in TRUE LIES, and Tru Davies in FOX's strange time-travel series "Tru Calling." She turns 24 today.

Kristin Kreuk--Lana Lang on the WB's "Smallville"--turns 22 today.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

"Stragglers" Now "Stranded"

The story formerly known as "Astoria," "Did Jimmy Olsen Ever Wonder," and "Stragglers," now wants to be called "Stranded."

Having fallen asleep at 8:30 last night and with nothing better to do at 2:00 a.m., I once again revised the in-famous story for submission to Long Island University's literary magazine, Confrontation.

Incidentally, the new title ties in well with that of a story I wrote in college featuring the same protag, "Grounded."

Got to Unload

I haven't blogged about the recent death of football great Reggie White, the shocking tsunami that has killed 80,000 so far, wounded model Petra Nemcova, and left her boyfriend missing--the passing of Susan Sontag, or Jerry Orbach, who lost his battle with prostate cancer. I don't know what to say about any of these topics, except that they leave me saddened and numb as 9-11 did.

People say they regret when life goes too fast. I regret the times I want life to go on--when I want a minute, an hour, a day to be over--but it seems to inch along torturously.

Ray Banks Returns

Blogless for almost two months after a move, Ray Banks has returned in fine fashion. Check out his snazzy new Typepad blog. G'wan.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

What Would Your Mother Think?

New blogger ("late blogger"?) Bryon Quertermous writes:

So I just recently found out that my mom reads this blog and was not amused by my swearing and other topics of debautchery. I have a close relationship with my mom and my entire family and I respect her concerns, but several of my stories and novels have some pretty rough stuff in them and I think it adds to the story and don't plan on changing them. I guess in a perfect word, my family would support me and my writing without ever actually reading any of it, but I know that's not the case. So how do you other authors handle this kind of stuff with people who are close to you? Does anybody's mom, or grandma, or pastor, or priest, or wife, or husband, or kids etc... not approve of what they write? How do you maintain a good relationship with that person without scraping the projects they disapprove of?

I commented:

My parents pretty much left me alone as I discovered my talent and grew as a writer. Early on, if I thought a piece of writing would upset my mother, I didn't show it to her.

In recent years, she's come to appreciate the goals of each of my pieces. She's become a good judge of what needs work. (I also think she understands my work better because I write better now than I did then.)

She's still a bit biased in my favor, but we're working on that. :)

Sounds Good

Maverick short story writer Bob Tinsley has announced a Windows Media recording of his Jack Brady story, "Grasshopper", will be published by Dave Zeltserman in the Winter 2005 issue of Hardluck Stories Zine.

I'm a big fan of audio and its power to engage the imagination, sometimes better than sight can. I like Bob's initiative, and would gladly record my stories if there were a demand.

The Ongoing Straggle

"Stragglers" was rejected by Thieves Jargon, editor Matt DeGangi offering the kind of in-depth feedback you don't get from the huge markets.

The funny (ironic) thing is his comments weren't new to me (that the three friends need to be described in greater detail). As the story has shifted from a first-person anecdote to a wider-angle third-person story, I've puzzled over what detail to include and what to leave out. That I'm still puzzling over this is a sign to me that the story isn't there yet.

Last week a friend suggested I pull "Stragglers" out of circulation for a while. I may do that. In any case, I'll keep working on it between completed projects, and one day it will be ready when other stuff isn't. All part of the game.

("Circle of Life" is not playing in my head.)

What Goes In

The authenticity of Tess Monaghan's personality mentioned in my previous entry makes me wonder how much of the author included of her own personality and history. I know this wondering is a dangerous game, but I also believe an author is all his characters in the sense that each character allows him to express aspects of himself or lines of thinking he can't express through others.

What I'm Reading Now

I just finished BALTIMORE BLUES, the first in Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan series. I had picked it up to read for DetecToday in 2001, but didn't have as good a feel for third-person mysteries as I do now. Where once reading "Joe did this; Bob did that," felt awkward, this time around it fit like a glove.

The story involves a friend of Tess's who was seen visiting a shifty lawyer shortly before said lawyer's murder. A laid-off reporter now working for her friend's defense attorney, Tess tries to clear her friend's name, but the trail of evidence she follows seems to point even more conclusively to him.

Plot details aside, what I liked best about this book was Tess herself. While she is physically imposing, Tess's driving traits (notably her need for structure and routine) and shortcomings are not directly linked but intertwined. Her personality is not so consistent, not robotic, but uniform; I believed both her toughmindedness and vulnerable moments came from the same person, not a cardboard character making the requisite displays.

For the first time in a long time, after reading this book, I wanted to read the whole series.

Until the books come in, though, I'm reading WINTER'S END by John Rickards, to be featured on DetecToday in January 2005.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Day After

For the past few years, I've worked on avoiding the hype of the holiday season. When I have expectations of how well anything will go, more possibilities for disappointment also develop. For me, Christmas especially is about embracing what happens, not wishing for what I want to happen.

What did happen was a gathering of extended family in Old Bridge, NJ featuring an all-day homemade buffet (customary most of the times we get together). Highlights for me were playing "Jingle Bells" and "Ding Dong Merrily on High" on my brother's chimes (one note per person), and playing Karaoke Revolution on the PlayStation 2.

So, this year I did it. I approached each day of the season practically, keeping my mind on the moment, not expecting holiday miracles. In this frame of mind, I was able to be satisfied with my Christmas. And, trust me, that's the gift everyone really wants.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Bogie's Birthday

Here's lookin' at you, kid.

The man who helped popularize Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, Rick Blaine, and many other characters--was born on Christmas Day, 1899.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Garfield Does It Again

My sentiments exactly. Click to enlarge.

The Heart of the Matter

With apologies to Don Henley, the title phrase is my entreé into commenting on a concept mentioned by Brit noir author Ray Banks to New Jersey's own Dave White:

Ray describes the idea of "emotional truth" as "an ability to write straight from the gut but maintain reality so that it doesn't become overwrought."

Of this idea, Sarah Weinman observed:

Truth is stranger than fiction, anyway.

The trick is to make it seem more palatable and believable.

And I commented:

I think what Ray is saying, and what Sarah hits upon, is that writers have the opportunity to expose conflicts, to resolve issues for themselves and, with any luck, for readers.

Because each person experiences emotion differently, each writer has the chance to re-create/re-present his or her experiences in a way no one else has. This re-presentation in turn has the chance to speak to readers no one else has.

I take Ray's phrase "maintain reality" to mean that a writer can't simply gush emotions in their rawest, most specific form onto the page and consider the job done. The emotions/experiences have to be recognizable to both writer and readers.

An Infinite Number of Santas

Growing up, Christmas Eve was when all the presents were distributed. The adults would distract us perfectly until Santa appeared from a back room and proceeded to pass out the gifts.

At one point, gift-opening time was moved to midnight between Christmas Eve and Day. Today, we spend Christmas Eve by ourselves and reserve most of the festivites for Christmas Day with extended family.

It occurred to me relatively recently that in the strictest sense, children are never supposed to see Santa. He's supposed to arrive while everyone is asleep, leave presents under the tree, and depart before anyone wakes up.

One possibility of many to ponder. Peace and good will.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Not What I Want to Write

The most consistent phenomenon I've noticed since taking a daily approach to writing--which means I at least plan something to write each day: what I want to write is often not what gets written.

As I've mentioned, currently I would like to write either a poem or the next Chris Harvey story. Not happening. But since writing anything is preferable to writing nothing, I go where the energy is.

I know this isn't always possible for writers under contract, but I would think a contract works much like a deadline. Something about it pushes you off in the right direction, so you don't have to overcome as much resistance.

E! Online: Martian Manhunter Need Not Apply

Like Daredevil, Martian Manhunter often isn't first to come to mind when you think "superhero." He may not even be in the top ten. Joal Ryan measures J'onn J'onzz's Q score.

DAREDEVIL Director's Cut

I watched the director's cut of DAREDEVIL yesterday. I'd been pleased with the theatrical version's dark, unheroic feel, but also heard thirty minutes--including an important story thread making the Kingpin's downfall more dramatic--had been cut.

I liked the greater interplay between Favreau and Affleck as Nelson and Murdock, and also more of Ellen Pompeo as Karen Page. The love scene between Matt and Elektra was indeed cut from this version. Writer/director Mark Steven Johnson was trying to make an already dark movie even darker.

My problem with that: there was no more in place of the lovemaking to build Matt and Elektra's chemistry. What if Frank Miller had never let their playfulness lead to lovemaking? Would the loss of Elektra to Bullseye have as much impact?

On the commentary track, Johnson explains why in some cases he stayed in scenes longer. Some of his reasons are so subtle and fannish, I can see why producers cut the scenes. I've learned not to be too clever in writing. It's not enough for me to know why a scene, line, or gesture is included; the audience has to know at the same moment in the story. In other words, the writer has to make every scene big enough to matter to everyone watching. If the scenes have a lot of dramatic weight to begin with, less of this weight will be lost in the final cut.

Johnson also emphasizes that the additional story thread clarifies just how the Kingpin was caught; namely his henchman turned on him in exchange for a lesser sentence. That's fine, but the end of the movie shows him serving out that sentence with the Kingpin right in the adjoining cell. The message here is "Justice was served," but was it served logically? Would you really put Kingpin and his stoolie henchman right next to each other?

Here's an example of what I would have cut: In their climactic rooftop battle, Elektra kicks Daredevil's butt. Then she pins him, says, "I want to look into the eyes of my father's killer as he dies," and rips off his mask. Now, if she just pinned him and ripped off his mask, it would show she wants to look into the eyes of her father's killer...

Johnson got to live every writer's dream, to bring his favorite characters to life. I suspect he was so excited to have the chance he wasn't sure what to do with it. I might react the same way. That's why I'll stick to writing my own characters.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Great Timing

We had our first snow Sunday night, so I've been a bit more selective about picking up snail mail this week. Yesterday, I went out at ten-to-one, just as a UPS truck pulled up.

"Made that real easy," the delivery man said.

Today I went out at a quarter-to-two and spotted the garbage truck down the block. I was able to bring the mail in and give the sanitation man his holiday gift.

Chris Evert

(Photo from Evert Tennis Academy)

My favorite female tennis player, part of one of the sport's best rivalries, turns 50 today. Read Evert's career highlights.

The Failure of Well-Made Crime Movies

On CrimeSeen, author and critic Dick Lochte raised the question: Why do well-made crime movies often fail at the box office?


I commented:

I think the problem is that the brand of quirk and detail great fans of the genre look for doesn't appeal or goes over the heads of more general audiences. This much said, I think it's better to appeal to knowledgeable fans. Trying to appeal to everyone can lead to a bland mess.

Similarly, beyond the crime fiction community, the public is probably unaware of many fine authors, recognizing only the bestselling names. The bestsellers, in turn, often don't deliver the innovation a more well-read audience craves.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Why Do We Write?: My Reasons

Sarah Weinman posted a follow-up on her blog mentioning my post on writing as vocation. I commented on her entry, going into the reasons writing attracted me to begin with:

I write because it's the most practical way I can think of to express myself. The process gives me time to organize my thinking, find turns of phrase I might not come up with on the spot in public.

I also enjoy connecting with an audience, re-creating experiences, real or imagined, to share with others.

AP: Christmas Trees in Hawaii

HONOLULU - A shortage of Christmas trees in Hawaii has raised prices to more than $200 each, drawing complaints from cost-conscious shoppers who are eager to buy trees before the holiday.

The Past is an Ugly Animal

I've always had a good memory. It seemed important to remember in detail, maybe an early indication I would be a writer. In college, I told long-winded stories of the group of friends who catalyzed Font, Hofstra's literary magazine.

Yesterday, two younger members and I got together to exchange gifts. Christine is moving to Los Angeles in January to get started on her screenwriting career; John recently became a father; but, a large portion of what they wanted to do was reminisce. And once again, they sought my help:

"C'mon, Gerald. Who else?" they said, trying to recall the smallest bit players who "came to a couple of meetings" in the early days of the magazine.

I wanted to tell them I'd long since tired of recounting the past, that the detail they were looking for in most cases wouldn't bring everything together in a warm afterglow.

Maybe only I feel this way, having collected memories sooner than necessary. So I indulged them: "Put it through the machine, see what comes out."

Maybe they feel it's okay to forget the past because I'll remember it for them. They might be the the first ones to tell me, "We're not all about the past. It's just fun."

Then why don't we talk about something else?

I have a feeling people wouldn't wish for more time if they used each moment as best they could, and discarded it when done. There's great opportunity in the fact that life is live. We can't savor each good time as long as we'd like, but we also don't have to let each bad time weigh us down.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Birthdays and Remembering Robert Urich

Alyssa Milano (32) has gone from Tony Danza's TV daughter to executive producer and star of the WB's Charmed (though I must say the show picks up the hokey sci-fi tradition where Lois & Clark left off). I haven't had much interest since Shannen Doherty left.

Kristy Swanson, the original screen Buffy the Vampire Slayer, turns 35 today.

Jennifer Beals turns 41.

And Detroit Tigers great Al Kaline turns 70.

The original screen Spenser, Robert Urich, was born today in 1946. Once I'd read the Spenser books, I couldn't buy Urich in the role. A college football standout, Urich was big and could play sensitive--both qualities Spenser is supposed to possess. However, Spenser is supposed to have a dry, wisecracking edge as well. (I'm starting to wonder if anyone could play all the aspects of Spenser, who is by design larger than life.)

Urich always seemed sincere onscreen and in life. Having survived a rare form of cancer in 1996, he succumbed to a recurrence in 2002.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

AP: Marine Explorer Hunts for Earhart's Plane

At 17,000 feet beneath the surface, the temperature of ocean water is just above freezing, oxygen is sparse and currents are relatively calm. In other words, ideal conditions for preserving an airplane that might have crashed into the depths nearly 70 years ago, according to marine explorer David Jourdan, who hopes to answer one of aviation's greatest mysteries — the fate of famed pilot Amelia Earhart.

Why Do We Write?: Writing as Vocation

In his latest blog entry, author John Rickards opposes the notion of writing as calling. He writes:

To quote 'Fight Club', "You're not your job". And that, when it comes down to it, is what writing professionally is. It's a job. It's fun, it's interesting and it's varied, but it's basically a cool way of earning a living. That's all.

"Looking at it that way, sure, but what about the whole 'writing as a calling?' aspect?" Sarah [Weinman] said in the original backblogs. "Art vs. livelihood. I mean, I'd love to make a living writing, but even if I couldn't, I'd still do it because at least when it comes to fiction, my brain would probably explode if I didn't find a way to write about it."

To which I say, for most writers, bullshit. We're no more 'called' to it than that mechanic. We enjoy it, we get a great deal of fun from it, but that's all.

When you start treating it professionally, when you start taking publication seriously, you're no longer doing it for yourself...

I take it John rejects the idea that "the muse" has much of a role in writing for publication. I would agree that inspiration alone doesn't propel one very far. To use a sailing analogy, inspiration is perhaps the first gust of wind, the first hint of direction. It's up to the sailor then to make adjustments, to either stay on course or change.

I commented on John's entry:

I believe any worthwhile writing--not fan fiction, not pure catharsis--is supported by very visible, measurable qualities: What's the writer's main point? Is she making it efficiently? Is she connecting with my emotions? To accomplish all of these goals takes the kind of grunt work you mentioned.

To me, a calling is that which a person has a talent or inclination to do. Most mechanics probably fixed their first cars because doing so first attracted them and later kept them engaged. Similarly, language fascinated me at an early age. I write now because it's what I do best. Indeed, some days it feels like the only thing I do well. It's also what I have the most patience to do *and* what will earn me the most money.

I submit to editors to lend my work credibility--to be able to say I'm not the only person who thinks you should read my writing. My feeling is I would write for free, but I'd rather write for money.

I think of writing as more than my job. I've had jobs stuffing envelopes, handing out fliers, sorting triplicate forms. Writing is my vocation. The word vocation is rooted in the Latin "to call," so there is a concession to inspiration; however, vocation can also mean "A regular occupation, especially one for which a person is particularly suited or qualified" (American Heritage Dictionary, 4th ed.), or "a particular occupation or profession, especially one regarded as needing dedication and skill" ( Both these definitions are ordinary enough to satisfy the grunt in me.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Road Trip

Just back from visiting my brother's godfather in South Hadley, MA. Along the way, we drove past the Basketball Hall of Fame, and through Holyoke, the birthplace of volleyball.

We had pizza for lunch and traded several desserts and baked goods. We came home with blueberry banana nut loaf, applesauce brownies, raspberry pie, apple pie, and apple cider donuts. Mmmm.

And coincidentally, my brother's godparents will be spending Christmas with their son in Austin (Texas, that is. Not Massachusetts).

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

What's Next?

After interruptions for C.J. Stone and "Stragglers", I'm back to plotting the next Chris Harvey story. I've heard characters usually make their marks with their sophomore efforts. If Chris doesn't make his mark, I hope to at least continue discovering who he is.

I've been reading MOST WANTED, a collection of favorite stories from past PWA presidents, and today I ordered Jeremiah Healy's CUDDY PLUS ONE, the later half of his John Francis Cuddy shorts, plus one story featuring new character Mairead O'Claire. What I like best about Healy is his consistency. His work is always well thought out and current.

Spam for the Memories

I checked my Yahoo! Mail Bulk folder this morning and found a "Test and Keep a Laptop" message whose sender shared the name of a girl I had a crush on from 4th through 8th grade (a fairly common surname is all I'll say).

I smirked at the memory and now I've got the "WKRP" theme in my head...

Birthdays and More METastrophes

Today is a birthday for Mo Vaughn (37), the onetime Red Sox icon whose career whimpered to an end with the New York Mets. Just by coincidence, the Mets appear on the brink of another unwise move, dangling four years/$56 million in front of Pedro Martinez.

It's also a birthday for Helen Slater (41), who twenty years ago played Supergirl in a movie too cheesy even for me to stand.

"Miami Vice" star Don Johnson turns 55 today as hype builds around a big screen remake starring Colin Farrell as Crockett and Jamie Foxx as Tubbs.

And finally, funnyman Tim Conway turns 71 today.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Jeter Lost in Translation?

From IMDb:
Johansson Dating Carey's Ex-Boyfriend?

Movie beauty Scarlett Johannson has fuelled speculation she's dating Mariah Carey's ex-boyfriend Derek Jeter, by leaving a recent Christmas party with the baseball star. The Lost In Translation actress and the New York Yankees hunk allegedly arrived at last week's festive bash for computer giants Microsoft at Los Angeles' Geisha House restaurant together and spent the entire night together. An insider tells website Pagesix.Com, "Scarlett has been sick, but agreed to stop by with Derek." But Johannson's representative insists the pair arrived separately: "Scarlett says she met Derek that night. They met at the event."

IMDb: Ailing Clark Pulls Out of New Year's Eve Show

American TV and radio legend Dick Clark has been forced to pull out of hosting his annual New Year's Eve party in New York's Times Square after suffering a stroke. The 75-year-old producer has hosted Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve for the past 32 years. TV host Regis Philbin will stand in for Clark when the show goes live on America's east coast on December 31. Ashlee Simpson will co-host. Clark was taken into hospital in California last week after suffering the mild stroke. From his hospital bed, he says, "It'll feel strange watching it (the show) on TV but my doctors felt it was too soon. I'm sure Regis will do a great job and I'm thankful that he was able to step in on such short notice." Clark also missed out on reading the Golden Globe Award nominations Monday morning - something he does annually. Actor pal Brendan Fraser stepped in at the last minute to replace him.

Regis is an able fill-in, but this is Clark's event. Still, better to rest than risk.

Hard Luck on "Gypped"

Received a rejection from Hardluck Stories Zine on my C.J. Stone short short "Gypped". Them's the breaks. I'm glad Hardluck's deadline pushed me to write the story. I wonder if deadlines at Thrilling Detective would motivate people similarly.

Monday, December 13, 2004

AP: Diver, 80, Survives 18 Hours in Ocean

MIAMI - By the time spear fisherman Ignacio Siberio realized his boat had drifted away in the chilly waters off the Florida Keys, it was too late to signal for help.

Instead, the 80-year-old who dives nearly every weekend called on his instincts, mustering all his mental and physical strength to move his legs underwater to prevent hypothermia.

Sackett Street Writer's Workshop

Speaking of writing, let me recommend the Sackett Street Writer's Workshop, taught by Julia Fierro. Julia is a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop and teaches creative writing at Hofstra's Honors College.

Julia and I traded stories when I worked at Hofstra's writing lab, and her enthusiasm for my writing encouraged me to keep at it.

A Novel Question

Brutal honesty: I don't think I'm ready to write a novel. I need more time to study the shapes of novels so I can recognize an idea for a novel when it comes. Meanwhile, ideas for stories and poems keep coming, and I need to keep my name out there. So no novel yet.

To date, I've had a few stories published online and a few poems published in print. Should I consider myself unpublished until the still-distant day my novel comes out?

Reading Bryon Quertermous's interview with Dave White prompted this question. Bryon writes, "Seriously. I'm an unpublished schmuck and I want to interview other unpublished schmucks..."

It's true neither Bryon nor Dave has published a novel, but each has published short works. To me, that's published.

In the end, I believe a writer earns and maintains the title by writing, continuing to work at it, not falling out of practice. A writer who aims to be published for a living can be called a professional writer.

Some may say I define these terms as such because I haven't published a novel myself, but the act of writing is the same before and after publication: come up with an idea, draft it, flesh it out, trim the fat, submit. Any writer not engaged in this process isn't writing. And a writer who doesn't write can't be published, or go by the title writer.

Eye on DVDs

In case any Secret Santas are reading this, here are two DVDs I've got my eye on:

TOP GUN Collector's Edition - A good movie in itself, highlighted by good chemistry between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis and a rockin' soundtrack, the collector's edition features never-before-seen footage and commentary from Tony Scott, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Navy experts.

DAREDEVIL Director's Cut - Apparently, the theatrical version was missing twenty minutes of footage, including a subplot in which Matt Murdock's super-senses help clear a wrongly accused man. I've also heard the love scene between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner did not make the director's cut. Why?

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Book-to-Movie News: Robert Crais's HOSTAGE

According to Crais's official web site, the HOSTAGE movie starring Bruce Willis opens Friday, January 21. While the movie was scripted by Doug Richardson (DIE HARD 2, BAD BOYS), I maintain little interest beyond seeing whether Bristo Camino dispatch officer Sarah Weinman made the final cut.

Noth Set for 'Law & Order' Return

From IMDb:
Sex & the City star Chris Noth is set to return to the force in 2005 as a Law & Order regular. The actor, who played Mr. Big in Sex & the City, is set to reprise his detective character Mike Logan, which he played for five seasons on the original Law & Order drama in spin-off show Criminal Intent. And if series star Vincent D'Onofrio's health problems become a serious problem, Noth is being tipped to take over the lead role in the program. The Cell star D'Onofrio has fainted twice on the set recently with a mystery illness. A show insider says, "The producers need to protect the show, and I think that moving Noth into the lead would be a very likely scenario."

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Curse of the Boomerino?

Lefty pitcher and Babe Ruth fan David "Boomer" Wells has reportedly signed with the Red Sox. Meanwhile, the Yankees appear close to a deal with Marlins free agent pitcher Carl Pavano.

Wake me in ten years, when our farm has replenished and a new batch of players has earned the right to play for a title.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Voice Actor Birthdays: Superman, Kingpin, and Aku

December 10 is a birthday for George Newbern (40), who replaced Tim Daly as the voice of WB Animation's Clark Kent/Superman beginning with "Justice League" (2001).

It's also a birthday for Michael Clarke Duncan (47) who played the Kingpin in DAREDEVIL (2003, still say I like that movie) and voiced Kingpin for MTV's excellent Spider-Man all-CGI cartoon.

And finally, Japanese-American actor Mako turns 71. Mako provides the voice of the evil wizard Aku for Cartoon Network's "Samurai Jack".

Remembering "Booker" (Who Else Does?)

TV writer and producer Lee Goldberg asks, "Who Was The Best TV P.I.?"

My comment:

I'll go with the strict construction, which eliminates Spenser as he was in books before TV. That leaves me with Joe Mannix and Jim Rockford, but I'd also like to mention a second Cannell creation, Dennis Booker (played by Richard Grieco). I can best describe Booker as a rock n' roll rebel P.I. The show was an interesting blend of cultures as Booker left the Jump Street cops to be mainly employed by staid Japanese corporation Teshima.

"Booker" (which aired for two seasons on FOX) also used a stoked theme song from Billy Idol, "Hot in the City".

The best episode? "Someone Stole Lucille." Booker is tasked with retrieving B.B. King's legendary guitar, which has been insured by Teshima. Along the way, he strives to babysit a corporate spy from Teshima's home office (Gedde Watanabe) and keep a date with the lovely Skylar Samperton (Tawny Kitaen). IMdb reveals the episode first aired December 10, 1989.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


Everybody's doing it. Apparently, throwing my first and last name into Googlism confounds the mechanism, so here are some results for "Gerald":

gerald is an intelligent and honourable man who has an axe
gerald is back
gerald is carried into the family car with a lot of mixed feelings
gerald is best known for playing the cittern
gerald is in your prayers
gerald is from there
gerald is the part of boxing that everyone in boxing tries to put in a dark recess of their mind and block
gerald is married or single
gerald is approximately 888
gerald is hoping for a family who will offer him love and security
gerald is an intelligent beast
gerald is borne out by his expression
gerald is poised to become

From the "Stragglers" Soundtrack: "King of Pain"

I've mentioned that--though I write best in silence--when I've turned the last corner on a story, a song repeats in my head. In the case of "Stragglers", the song was "King of Pain" by the Police.

"Stragglers" has been making the rounds for over a year now. I think I've found the right level of detachment to execute it, but part of me remains skeptical. It's that I-like-the-story-but-will-anyone-else feeling:

I have stood here before inside the pouring rain
With the world turning circles running 'round my brain
I guess I always thought that you could end this reign
But it's my destiny to be the king of pain....

Happy Birthday, Mr. Worf

Michael Dorn, the actor behind everyone's favorite Klingon, turns 52 today. It's also a birthday for Donny Osmond (47), Dick Butkus (62), and Beau Bridges (63).

Your Choice of Feed

I've enabled my Atom site feed, in addition to my RSS:



Plug either of these into a feed reader or online feed tracker (I use Bloglines), and you can be notified when I post new material here.

Oh, That Garfield

Definitely one for my virtual refrigerator. Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Stragglin' On

Following a lead offered by crime fiction author and artist Pat Lambe, I've tweaked and submitted "Stragglers" to Thieves Jargon.

Thanks again, Pat.

Teri Hatcher Turns 40

I first saw her as MacGyver's plucky friend Penny Parker, and was delighted to see her again opposite Dean Cain in "Lois & Clark." Her new show, "Desperate Housewives" intersects my Sunday dozing hours, but somehow I don't think the show is my bag anyway.

Physicist's daughter and math major herself Teri Hatcher turns 40 today.

AP: Deconstructing "Dude"

PITTSBURGH — Dude, you've got to read this. A linguist from the University of Pittsburgh has published a scholarly paper deconstructing and deciphering the word "dude," contending it is much more than a catchall for lazy, inarticulate surfers, skaters, slackers and teenagers.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

Yes, I like that song.

Despite sensible pleas for sleep, my right brain seems to be at its most inventive in the wee hours. And so I was up at three this morning with aforementioned PaperMate and legal pad, wrestling the beast known as "Stragglers."

The result: a revision switching from first person to third. This allowed me to delineate each character and bring in a conflict that "I" hadn't revealed.

With any luck, editors will see it as well.

Monday, December 06, 2004

"Form of...a Rejection."

If you've followed this blog from the beginning, you may recall a mainstream (or so I think) story of mine called at various stages "Astoria," "Did Jimmy Olsen Ever Wonder?" and most recently, "Stragglers."

The story follows three college friends who must find their way back to Long Island after their car conks out on a cold night in Queens.

Hailed by teachers and friends as my most realistic story, it's been rejected by New York Stories, Other Voices, Lynx Eye, Pindeldyboz, and today, Berkeley Fiction Review. Editors and outside readers have called it "Pointless. Their car breaks down, they walk around awhile, then take a cab home. Why these people? Why this night?"

When I have answers to these questions, the story might have a chance somewhere.


Janine Turner, who played mail pilot Maggie O'Connell, foil to Rob Morrow's Joel Fleischmann on Northern Exposure, turns 42 today.

Patrick Bauchau of The Pretender turns 66.

Also, I bought the first novel in Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan series more than three years ago and am finally getting around to reading it. I know, I know. Get with the times.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

She's Not a Yute Anymore

Marisa Tomei, who won an Oscar for her role in MY COUSIN VINNY (1992), turns 40 today. Also, Jeff Bridges turns 55.

Go Navy

The Midshipmen beat the Cadets 42-13 in today's 105th Army/Navy football game.

I've always had an affinity for the Navy. I'd like to think I have the discipline, if not the physique, to be a soldier. I drew on this to create ex-Marine Tom Gregory of "Home".

Friday, December 03, 2004

The Short Of It Robert W. Tinsley's new blog musing on short fiction. What a concept. Way to fill a need out there. Stop by to read and comment on Bob's reviews.

How I Write: The Pen is Mightier Than MS Word

In the beginning I believed the only way I could write was sitting at the keyboard, staring at the screen. Of course, I also believed writers were walking encyclopedias who simply poured the sum of their knowledge onto the page and finished thick novels in a single sitting.

As the realities of writing came into focus, I felt the need to be more and more prepared before putting fingers to keys. I bought index cards and fine point pens with comfort grip barrels (roughly $2/pen). I still have more index cards than I'll ever need.

Today, my pens of choice are black medium point PaperMates. (Just bought five dozen of these for $5). I brainstorm and draft mostly on legal pads or the occasional spiral notebook. I find the medium point glides more easily across a page than the fine--closer to the speed of thought.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Thrilling Detective's Cheap Thrill Awards 2004

Every year around this time, Thrilling Detective polls its visitors on the state of P.I. fiction. My answers are below. Feel free to add your own.

For Books First Published in 2004

LITTLE GIRL LOST by Richard Aleas

For Books You Read in 2004, Regardless of When They Were First Published


Fiction or Non-Fiction, In Print or On-Line Besides Thrilling, Natch!

Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind (Sarah Weinman), A Writer's Life (Lee Goldberg), World's Worst Blog (Victor Gischler)

The Best Thing I Ever Learned from a P.I. Novel Was...

I've learned to come up with relevant questions and phrase them cleverly.

Most Anxiously Awaited P.I. Event

Kevin Smith's (CLERKS, DOGMA, etc.) Fletch movie

What gives you the most hope for the future of the P.I.?

The new P.I./noir imprints Hard Case Crime and POINTBlank and their commitment to classic lean prose.

Biggest Disappointment

P.I. movies and TV shows that die before they ever reach the screen

Most Nauseating Cover Design

The cover of Lee Goldberg's BEYOND THE BEYOND, which shows a phallic-looking rocket ship crashing through a TV screen.

Cover Designs That Don't Suck

Most covers by Hard Case Crime

P.I. Classics FINALLY Back in Print

TEXAS WIND by James Reasoner (reprinted by POINTBlank), COWARD'S KISS by Lawrence Block and The Amos Walker backlist (reprinted by iBooks)

Mystery Fiction Character Who Should Become a P.I.

Elmore Leonard's Chili Palmer

P.I.s Missing In Action

Technically I can't call him M.I.A., but I miss the first-person-only, more optimistic Elvis Cole. Also, Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar.

Plots with Guns, Joseph Hansen, Larry Brown, Christopher Reeve

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and Peter Gunn on DVD

Staff Members or Contributors of the Year

Dale Stoyer, Jim Winter, Dave White, Ray Banks

Further Comments

Great working with you, Kevin. Action is my reward.

After eleven years reading the genre, I saw the debut of my own P.I., Chris Harvey, in 2004. I hope he passes muster with Thrilling Detective's distinguished following. With any luck, it won't be eleven years before the sequel.


AP reports Candace Bergen will debut on BOSTON LEGAL in January as a full cast member. She will play Shirley Schmidt, a founding member of the firm Crane (Shatner), Poole, and Schmidt.

Shatner and Bergen previously co-starred in the Sandra Bullock beauty pageant comedy MISS CONGENIALITY.

Make Mine Minimalist

Just received the December 2004 issue of Brevities, featuring my poem, "Seeing Things." My thanks to editor Joyce Odam, and again to Naked Knuckle's Greg Edwards for the lead.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Nero Wolfe creator Rex Stout was born this day in Noblesville, IN in 1886. Others celebrating today: Woody Allen and Lou Rawls (69), Lee Trevino (65), Richard Pryor (64), and onetime Hofstra ROTC student Carol Alt (44).

Next Bond Movie: Casino Royale?

From IMDb:
Bond Producers May Make 'Casino Royale' Themselves

On the heels of recent speculation that Quentin Tarantino was considering the possibility of remaking the James Bond thriller Casino Royale with Pierce Brosnan in the starring role, published reports in the U.K. now indicate that Eon Productions, which has produced the Bond films for MGM, has decided to make Casino Royale on its own -- without the involvement of either Tarantino or Brosnan. The original film version of the Bond novel was actually a spoof starring numerous actors playing Bond "in disguise," including David Niven, Peter Sellers, and Woody Allen. However, the actual "Casino Royale is a very interesting choice because it was probably [Bond creator Ian] Fleming's most literary work," Andrew Lycett, Fleming's biographer, told the London Sunday Times.

Beyond Jennings' Ken

E! Online: After racking up 74 consecutive victories and pocketing more than $2.5 million in prize money, Jeopardy! master Ken Jennings was defeated in his 75th appearance on the show, which aired on Tuesday.

[Jennings] was taken out of the game by California real estate agent Nancy Zerg, a former actor who never attended college and whose own 8-year-old daughter asked Jennings for his autograph before the game began.