Saturday, April 30, 2005

All You Need to Watch

I taped JAG's series finale last night, and actually watched the last ten minutes first-run. I already knew from episode descriptions that Harm and Mac would be transferred to London and San Diego respectively.

In the last ten minutes, Harm is packing up his apartment—did he ever fully unpack?—when Mac shows up and says, "Let's talk about us."

From this I gather they haven't had a chance to talk all episode, and as usual the conversation is strained by the eight-year-old "I love you, but I'm in a bad place right now" subtext.

When they finally decide it's okay to kiss and Harm proposes marriage, it's supposed to be the payoff viewers have been waiting for, but it isn't (see eight-year-old subtext).

In the next scene Harm is ordering a drink and grinning widely (I wonder what happened). Mac shows up and they kiss an obvious morning-after kiss. Bud and Harriett arrive, and Bud calls Harm "Captain." (and I remember the first time I heard Capt. Kirk called "Admiral," and when John Gardner promoted James Bond to captain, and finally when Robert B. Parker's homicide cop became "Captain Quirk.")

The rest of the staff arrives, and Harm says "Mac and I have an announcement to make. We're getting married." (Still not feeling the payoff.)

In order to stay together, one of them has to give up a career. They can't decide who, so they let Bud flip a coin. The frame freezes before the coin lands.

Come on, you knew it would.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Dead End Before the Weekend

I'm referring to Dead End Books, where tonight, owners Paul and Eileen Lutz welcomed expert card-handler and author James Swain. Swain writes about casino security specialist Tony Valentine in a flat-out fun series of books written with the flair of a great magic trick.

Instead of reading from his latest book, MR. LUCKY, Swain demonstrated various card tricks and casino scams ingeniously designed to fool the eye, the mind, and the security cameras. Even when I know the secrets behind a trick, I still marvel at its execution.

Again, I believe the best writing is like magic. One sentence draws readers' attention, the next holds it fast, and so on. Glad to hear Swain is under contract to write five more books.

I also bought SILVERFIN, the first Young James Bond book, by Charlie Higson.

Today's Story

Yet more back-door creativity. Friends have been bugging me, and I've been bugging myself, to write a second Chris Harvey P.I. story. My left brain wants to, but my right brain and fingers don't. Instead, they chose to write a story aimed for Crime Spree, which requires all submissions be related to crime fiction.

About a month ago I wondered how I'd ever write a story like that, and today I drafted it. No details until I find out whether Fiction Editor Jen Jordan wants to to see it.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

"Throw Me the Idol, I Throw You the Whip."

Once upon a grad school requirement, I took a class on Poetry in Theory and Practice. I had previously taken a graduate poetry workshop, but had not yet developed the curiosity I would need to read and write poems on a regular basis. And so I consigned the anthology used in the theory class—POSTMODERN AMERICAN POETRY edited by Paul Hoover—to a box in my basement, only to unearth it eight years later (yesterday).

Object of my next expedition? A copy of Aristotle's POETICS.

AP: 'Lou Grant' Actor Mason Adams Dies at 86

Mason Adams, known for his Emmy-nominated role on the television series "Lou Grant" and as the voice behind the Smucker's jelly commercials, has died at his home in Manhattan. He was 86.

Not reading so-and-so's blog? Where have you been?

On Sarah Weinman's blog, I caught up with a discussion of blog-cliquishness. I find the word "clique" even more pretentious than what it represents. Nonetheless, by the end of college, my Font friends and I were getting stuck with the label. And now it seems the same is happening to blogs. Here's my comment:

Blogs are a step closer than e-mail to true familiarity with people. I met Charlie Stella, Pat Lambe, and Jason Starr for the first time at a signing in February, but I was able to chat with them like old friends because I knew them through Sarah's blog.

I became part of a clique in college that grew around the formation of a literary magazine. It was impossible to see the people who regularly volunteered to read submissions and spent long hours hunched over Adobe PageMaker the same way I saw newbies.

Back to blogs: one blogger's opinion is one opinion, despite the fact that everyone who surfs the Web has access to it. I respect bloggers I've come to know better than others, but ultimately I make up my own mind about what I enjoy reading, wearing, doing, etc. A simple "me-too" surrenders too much individuality.

Return of the Survey

I saw this survey on Bill Crider's Blog; Bill received it from Juri Nummelin:

(1) You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?

1984 by George Orwell

(2) Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

No, but I have imagined actors who might play fictional characters and crushed on them. Lucy Liu as Lydia Chin comes to mind.

(3) What are you currently reading?

EVERYTHING YOU HAVE IS MINE by Sandra Scoppettone, DetecToday's May featured novel

(4) What five books you would take to a deserted island?

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, THE ODYSSEY, DON QUIXOTE, the U.S. Army SURVIVAL manual, and the WORST CASE SCENARIO Survival Guide by David Borgenicht.

(5) Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

I suppose I'm passing it to whomever reads my blog's a blog.

"Its Continuing Mission..."

Five years ago today, I decided to expand my idea for a Robert Crais and Harlan Coben list to include all PI writers to come on the scene since 1984, and DetecToday was born.

Our parameters have since expanded to the rounder year 1980, and we've tried to make room for characters who don't call themselves PIs but show all the signs.

My thanks to all members past and present who've helped the list develop.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

"Time for some thrilling heroics."

Go. Now. The trailer for the Firefly movie rocks!

IMDb: Lucas Forced Himself to Write Episode III

Hollywood mogul George Lucas struggled so much with writing the screenplay for final Star Wars installment Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith, he had to force himself to stick to a rigid working day as he sought inspiration. The hugely successful movie-maker, 60, took on the persona of a normal office worker as he sat at his desk for nine hours a day, five days a week - and he still only managed to produce five pages everyday. He says, "I am very diligent about writing. I go to work at 8:30am and leave at 6pm. I sit there with that page in front of me but I still can't write it. I do get it done, I actually write five pages a day. But I force myself - otherwise I would probably write a page a day."

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Milking a Dead Cash Cow

From IMDb:

Star Wars: The TV Series

Suggesting that next month's release of the sixth Star Wars film, The Revenge of the Sith, will amount only to "the end of the beginning," as Churchill once remarked, George Lucas has told Celebration III, a Star Wars convention in Indiana, that he plans to carry the sci-fi battles further -- on television. He indicated that he has immediate plans to start an animated series of half-hour shows that will be produced in 3D, to be followed by a live-action series. ("We're probably not going to start that for about a year.") The live-action series, he said, would comprise stories set during the period between episodes three and four of the theatrical movies. After all, he explained, the six films actually amount to "the Darth Vader story. It starts with him being a young boy and it ends with him dying. I never ever really considered ever taking that particular story further." The animated series, Lucas indicated, would take place in the period following Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Meanwhile, 1,000 tickets to a back-to-back marathon screening of all six Star Wars films in London on May 16 sold out in minutes Monday. Oddly, they will be shown in the order they were produced, beginning with Episode IV: A New Hope at 7:00 a.m. and ending with Episode III: Revenge of the Sith at midnight.

More detail from BBC News and E! Online.

KILL WHITEY by Ken Harvill

I decided to attend Ken Harvill's KILL WHITEY signing based on the following description from Dead End Books:

"Kill Whitey" is the story of an Irish-Haitian drug-dealing albino called Whitey, who has been estranged by his gangster family. With two mob families fighting for the criminal trade, Whitey's family asks him to return. He reluctantly accepts the offer and must contend with beatnik cops, a deranged fullback, a Siberian hip-hop gangsta, a corpse that won't stay put and the biggest threat- his own family! Loaded with dark humor, shady characters and an excellent plot, "Kill Whitey" is a terrific debut for Ken Harvill.

At the signing, I learned Harvill hadn't been a big fan of noir fiction, preferring the works of Chaucer and Shakespeare, and having studied film history and theory. While the novel is dark and violent enough to be called noir, and has touches of humor as mentioned above, what I found most engaging was the novel's protagonist. Like all great characters, Leon "Whitey" Lynch is a bundle of contradictions: he has traveled the world collecting exotic herbs and plants and mixing potent potions, yet he remains naive, indecisive, wimpy even. He rejects his family's cold business yet holds out hope of gaining his father's approval.

Many noir protags are hard enough to take care of themselves. I know when push comes to shove they'll dish out as much punishment as they take. In Leon's case, all I could do was cross my fingers and hope things worked out for him. Very much like an edge-of-your-seat movie in that respect. Harvill turns Leon's weaknesses into strengths for the novel as a whole. The best suspense occurs when readers honestly don't know whether a character will survive.

Leon's history of drug use adds another layer of suspense that works to the novel's advantage. I could never be sure what really happened and what was imagined. I never knew who to trust all the way to the end.

The novel is written in third-person omniscient, traditionally a distant viewpoint, but Harvill gives an intimate glimpse of each character, even those who don't survive very long. I look forward to reading more from Harvill.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Resistance is Futile

The mind is a funny thing. Often when I deliberately set my mind on fiction I wind up writing poetry and vice versa. I've learned not to fight this back-door method. Whether a poem or a story gets done, it's a workout for my creative muscles.

This afternoon I revised three poems for submission to Liquid Ohio.

My Favorite Book Turns 400

Reuters - Mad About Quixote, Spaniards Read Around the Clock:

By Estelle Shirbon

MADRID (Reuters) - Hundreds of Spaniards declared their love for 'Don Quixote' on the 400th anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes' masterpiece with a non-stop relay reading of the book that ended on Sunday.

Readers of all ages took more than 48 hours to work their way through more than 1,000 pages of Cervantes' action-packed novel, which made national icons of the knight who charged at windmills and his faithful sidekick Sancho Panza.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Profanity, Sex, and Violence in Fiction

A post by Bob Tinsley has led to a discussion on the appropriateness of violence, sex, and profanity in fiction. I commented:

[I]t depends on the story, generally on the expectations set up by the story. If a graphic, explicit, or profanity-laden payoff is called for, a reserved payoff is a letdown and vice versa.

It is possible to write hardboiled or noir without graphic sex, violence, or profanity, but excluding all of these may dissuade writers who would otherwise submit. One of the most important lessons writers learn is to write in voices that are most natural to them. If writers can't believe in or otherwise get into what they're working on, they often shouldn't be writing it.

Editors have the right to set whatever guidelines they wish, but it doesn't hurt to phrase them as positively as possible. The purpose behind guidelines is to *invite* writers' efforts.

Ken Harvill Signing

Just back from Dead End Books, where Ken Harvill discussed and signed his "acid noir" debut novel KILL WHITEY. I always enjoy chatting about books, authors, and writing, and the Saturday scheduling was especially convenient. I'll post a review of Ken's book in the near future.

UPDATE (4/26/05): Read my review here.


This novel, DetecToday's April feature, reminded me of Bruen's THE GUARDS in that the crime-solving was secondary to following the ups and downs of the protag's life.

Sallis's prose is less stream-of-consciousness than Bruen's, but both have a knack for eloquent economy. I enjoyed seeing a New Orleans that was more noir than James Lee Burke's. I'll definitely read Sallis again.

"Seriously, Dude, Where's My Career?"

Quoted from IMDb's review summary for the Ashton Kutcher-Amanda Peet movie A Lot Like Love:

Indeed, Kutcher provides a wide target for several critics, with Peter Howell in the Toronto Star landing a K.O. To wit: 'Ashton Kutcher continues to be a punch line for which no satisfactory joke has yet been written.'

One Door Closes, Another Opens

SDO Detective—the e-zine that published my Chris Harvey P.I. story "Forgive Me Not"—has closed due to ISP problems that couldn't be resolved. I'd like to get the story back out there for people to read while I work on the follow-up, so I've submitted it for reprint consideration by Mysterical-E.

UPDATE (4/23/05): Mysterical-E Editor Joe DeMarco has accepted "Forgive Me Not" for reprint in June 2005.

Friday, April 22, 2005

"Go Ahead. Make My Game."

From E! Online:

A surprising roster of A-listers has gone interactive in recent months. Aside from the talent lining up for the Scarface and Godfather games, Warner Bros. Interactive's upcoming Dirty Harry-based game will feature the voice and digital likeness of Clint Eastwood. The Academy Award-winning star, declared earlier this year that he's psyched about reprising perhaps his most famous role as vigilante detective Harry Callahan.

"This will be an opportunity to satisfy the many requests over the years to continue the Dirty Harry legacy, only now in the videogame medium," said the big-screen icon who'll lend his gravelly voice and likeness to the project. "Creating Dirty Harry videogames will also introduce this memorable film character to new generations on a medium they appreciate." (full story)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

We Don't Need Another Hero

Brandon Routh as Clark Kent filming Bryan Singer's Superman movie in Sydney, Australia. The movie is reportedly set six years after General Zod's devastating attacks. The public comes to blame Superman, who retreats to the Fortress of Solitude until a new threat surfaces only he can defeat. Despite the entry title, I'm mildly excited to see this movie.

Not Immediately Clear?

Not to make light of Nomar's predicament—injuries have surely cut short his stellar career—but the caption that follows is ripe for semantic skewering.

(AP Photo/Kyle Ericson)

Chicago Cubs' Nomar Garciaparra lies on the ground after hitting into a third-inning double play against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, April 20, 2005, in St. Louis. Garciaparra took a few steps toward first base before falling to the ground. He was carried off the field. The nature of Garciaparra's injury was not immediately clear.

Lucky Stiff Upper Lips

A thousand Britons will be admitted to the first screening of all six Star Wars films.

I might have expected this given the hundreds of thousands of Britons listing their religion as Jedi.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

George Takei

From Official George Takei Website

George Takei was one of my earliest, most positive images of Asians on TV. He successfully negotiated for a larger role in the Star Trek movies, and Sulu became one of the most popular captains after Kirk. George turns 68 today.

Don Mattingly

My favorite baseball player all-time turns 44 today. Mattingly is currently batting coach of the payroll-bloated, farm-depleted, underperforming New York Yankees.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

If You Want to Know About My Undergrad Life...

Watch this show.

The first season of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman comes to DVD June 7. While much of the Class of '96 watched the advent of Mulder and Scully, I watched an adult Clark Kent who wasn't a nerd.

On the contrary, Clark was portrayed by Princeton football hero and would-be Buffalo Bill Dean Cain, and paired with a Lois given Teri Hatcher's incomparable mix of sweetness and sensuality. At the time, it was Hatcher's biggest success since MacGyver. Who knew another Sunday series lay ahead?

Indeed, Lois & Clark's first season is my favorite because it shows the characters at their quintessential best, from a street-smart Jimmy Olsen (Michael Landes), to a seductively evil Lex Luthor (John Shea), to the still active and caring Kent folks (K Callan and Eddie Jones).

Monday, April 18, 2005

Casting Call: Kenzie and Gennaro

From IMDb:

Affleck Seeking Stars for Directional Debut

Hollywood heart-throb Ben Affleck is seeking two actors to take the leading roles in his big screen directorial debut. The Daredevil star has only directed once before - a short film entitled I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her On A Meat Hook, And Now I Have A Three-Picture Deal At Disney - while Affleck was at college in 1993. Affleck is adapting Dennis Lehane's best-selling book Gone, Baby Gone into a screenplay, as well as directing. The Oscar-winner bought the rights to kidnap mystery novel in 2002 and originally planned to star in the film adaptation alongside his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez. Affleck plans to start shooting the movie in Boston, Massachusetts, this autumn for Disney Pictures, despite admitting he has only cast the supporting roles. He says, "To me, I feel like the supporting actors are the most important. You're only as strong as the weakest link. I'm going to fill the supporting roles before going for the protagonist."

Saturday, April 16, 2005

For My Entertainment

I took advantage of an fye Gift Card and a 2-for-$15 deal to pick up Bulletproof Monk and Die Another Day on DVD. I love it when a plan comes together.

Chow Yun-Fat (L) and Seann William Scott in Bulletproof Monk (2003)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The basketball legend turns 58 today. From his bio on the Basketball Hall of Fame website:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, formerly known as Lewis Alcindor, was the kind of player that graces a sport once in a lifetime. The basketball world might never again see an athlete dominate the sport for as long and as thoroughly as Abdul-Jabbar did. From the time he stepped on the court at Power Memorial High School in his native New York City, to the time he retired as the NBA's all-time leader in nine statistical categories, the 7-foot-2 Abdul-Jabbar established himself as basketball's most talented and recognizable figure.

South Park Gerald

Image created with South Park Studio

Given recent posts, the t-shirt and lightsaber should come as no surprise. Ironically, I haven't watched much South Park.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Stacey Williams

A popular model in the 90s and one of my favorites all-time, Stacey Williams turns 37 today. A practioner of yoga, Stacey was known for her long, healthy figure and serene personality.

Johnny Havlicek

Havlicek stole the ball on April 15, 1965.

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson played his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier, on April 15, 1947.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Sin City: Er...

Two college friends and I watched Frank Miller's Sin City tonight. The movie is a series of loosely related vignettes, each attempting a cynical noir feel and each falling short. The characters are all dish out and take their share of physical abuse, gunshot wounds, dismemberment, etc. but the torturous scenes go on a tad too long, just long enough so I stopped empathizing with the characters and started laughing at them.

The abuse the characters take is less meaningful because they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and keep going; more cartoons than characters. And to top it off, each vignette features long-winded narration sounding more like one pompous voice than many.

I wanted to like this movie more, but it seemed as if each scene had at least one overdone detail to undermine it and the movie as a whole.

Frank Miller worked wonders to revitalize the Daredevil and Batman comics, but this movie makes him seem incredibly full of himself. I'm reminded of George Lucas's heavy-handedness and nitpicking in Star Wars Episodes I and II. Miller and Lucas have jumped the shark.

"If the apocalypse comes, beep me."

Sarah Michelle Gellar turns 28 today.

Superman or Batman?

This burning question came up on Jim Winter's blog. I commented:

[A]s problematic as Superman is (World's most powerful hero can be brought to his knees by a strange green rock that—despite its strangeness—is apparently readily available to any self-respecting criminal), I still have to back him over Batman. Bruce Wayne may be a badass, but I wouldn't want the neuroses that go with that. Clark Kent is symbolic of the good that can come from a positive outlook. Cynicism and pessimism may be hip, but no solutions were ever reached through negativity. Heroes by definition must believe they can be of help. Optimism, however disguised, is part of the job description.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Man of Many Faces

Ron Perlman (pictured above as paranormal investigator Hellboy) turns 55 today. Perlman also played the sewer-dwelling lion-man Vincent opposite Linda Hamilton in TV's Beauty and the Beast

That's My Smallville, Part IV

In tonight's episode, Lex's experiment using super-heated kryptonite to grow plants results in an explosion that severs his good side from his bad (ala Superman III).

The completely ruthless Lex quickly figures out that Clark has abilities far beyond those of mortal men:

Vader: Together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.
Lex: Together we can rule this world.

Luke: I'll never join you!
Clark: I'll never join you!

I intend the parallels to Return of the Jedi as a compliment. It was great to see the characters living up to their full potential—Clark for good and Lex for evil. Alrighty then. Wouldn't have it any other way.

Still, this variety of amped-up TV episode is understandably rare. It becomes a balancing act of delivering short-term thrills while protecting a series's longevity. "Johnny B. Goode" is Dead

Saw mention of this on Bill Crider's blog.

"Johnny B. Goode" was popularized to a new generation as the song Marty McFly plays to close out Back to the Future's the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. Michael J. Fox's singing was obviously dubbed, but was still a great, rockin' moment.

I Remember Her

I came to know the Gerald McRaney sitcom "Major Dad" in USA Network reruns. A career Marine meets and falls in love with a young widow reporter (Shanna Reed). The catch? The widow is bringing up three very lovely girls: Elizabeth, the rebellious oldest daughter; Robin, the precocious middle daughter; and Casey, the cute, cuddly daughter.

I've learned Nicole Dubuc, who played Robin, went on to graduate from Yale and write for such shows as "Kim Possible." Here's to her.

It's in the way that you use it.

I've mentioned wanting to get back to poems after a stretch writing fiction. I don't know that I can really control how long I focus on either fiction or poetry. It may be best not to overthink what "mode" I'm in. This may leave me free to work on whatever project presents itself, story or poem.

This morning, for instance, I submitted a poem for a pizza-themed page at Lunatic Chameleon.

UPDATE: The poem, "Pizza Cutter," has been accepted and posted here. My thanks to LC editor Nancy Purnell.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Innocence, Experience, and Reading

To summarize an entry by Sarah Weinman:

...I'm finding more and more that this overly analytical state is seeping into my ability to sit back, relax and read a book, and frankly, that makes me very sad...

Since I think this particular affliction affects those who write, either for a living or for a hoped living, did this sort of "sea change" happen to you, and when? How do you approach reading fiction when there's the distinct possibility that your time will be spent analyzing and deconstructing? And does the brain ever switch back, so you're "just a reader" once more?

I commented:

I don't know that I've ever been able to sit back and enjoy fiction or poetry. My interest in reading developed along with my interest in writing. I've always wanted to know why certain lines work and others don't. Analysis is fun for me (says the English prof). Then again, I'm not a professional reviewer.

Sometimes I do wish I were still awed by certain works or authors, but I wouldn't trade what I've learned about the craft for this sense of awe. Instead, I look forward to stuff I haven't yet read that will engage me to the same degree--if not in the same way--as stuff I have read.

Monday, April 11, 2005

"What's the Sitch?"

Spent the first half of my weekend caught up in the drama of Disney's Kim Possible movie, So The Drama.

The character-rich world of Kim Possible, superspy with typical teen worries, has unfolded over three years and 65 episodes. Her dad's a rocket scientist, her mom's a brain surgeon, her kid brothers are themselves precocious inventors. Her best friend Ron Stoppable is a fun-loving clutz who nonetheless has Kim's back on many a deadly mission.

One of Kim's favorite teenspeak sayings is "So not the drama." In this movie, she similarly tries to downplay her dateless status for the high school prom. Deep down she wants to attend and dreads she'll have to go with Ron. Everything changes when a new boy, Eric, arrives. He's action-oriented and not intimidated by Kim's fame.

As Kim and Eric spend more time together, Ron begins to realize his own feelings for his best friend. This particular arc progressed with perfect pace. Friends becoming more than friends is by no means a new storyline. The newness comes from the characters' range and the actors' performances (Christy Carlson Romano as Kim, Will Friedle as Ron). At no time during Ron's realization did it seem he were reading from a script.

What can I say? I'm a big softie.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Derringer Thrills

This year's Derringer Award finalists have been announced. They include Dave White's "God's Dice" published at Thrilling Detective as well as stories by Thrilling alums Ray Banks and Duane Swierczynski. Congrats, all.

Friday, April 08, 2005

"Stranded" Goes to Vegas

I've submitted my story "Stranded"—thoroughly edited back in February—to the Las Vegas lit mag Rainbow Curve:

Our editorial slant leans more toward the offbeat, experimental, gritty side. This does not mean a writer should ignore fundamentals -- it means that we prefer edgy content and well-crafted work.

I think "Stranded" is certainly offbeat, somewhat gritty. In any case, I've been wrong before about where the story might fit, judging by its multiple rejections.


Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

New Eyes

After last week's premiere, I said the jury was still out on this show. A two-hour premiere would have allowed exposition to be spread more evenly, but I guess midseason replacements rarely rate two-hour slots.

I just watched a tape of last night's episode and found it much easier to follow than the pilot. Harlan Judd (Tim Daly) is hired to find his college roommate's kidnapped mistress. The roommate claims he has no money for a ransom, but Judd and his team discover the roommate has actually made millions of dollars from a fake prescription/drug-dealing scheme.

Harlan offers to help the kidnapper get paid and escape the authorities, but the passport Judd gives the kidnapper is in the name of a known terrorist.

Clever. The show works for me. I hope it stays on a little while.

THE PISTOL POETS by Victor Gischler

I just finished Gischler's second novel, mixing the worlds of street crime and academia. Drug lieutenant Harold Jenks witnesses the violent death of a promising young scholar and decides to steal his identity and go straight. Jenks flees East St. Louis for Eastern Oklahoma University with a gym bag of cocaine in tow. His boss Red Zach soon pursues.

I've been a fan of Gischler's writing since GUN MONKEYS. His prose style makes me forget how many pages I've read; I just want to find out what happens to the characters. This strikes me as something every writer wants (or should want) in their work.

It might be the academic setting, but I enjoyed THE PISTOL POETS even more than I did GUN MONKEYS. The characters seem more normal (more normal than hardcase characters, anyway) and to me, "normal" people in fiction have greater range than the familar cop, P.I., or serial killer.

Gischler is signing his latest book, SUICIDE SQUEEZE, tonight at New York's Black Orchid Bookshop. Charlie Stella will also be there, but I, regretfully, will not.

Another Day, Another Bond

From IMdb:

Bond Bosses' Secrecy Over Daniel Craig Announcement

Producers of the forthcoming James Bond sequel have refused to comment on reports British star Daniel Craig has won the coveted superspy role. Craig, 37, was in competition with Closer star Clive Owen for the part of the spy, after Pierce Brosnan was ditched for demanding a staggering $42 million for his next Bond film. But Owen has since decided the role would limit his acting career and a leak from movie giant Eon Productions suggests producer Barbara Broccoli has offered the Layer Cake star a contract for the next three films. An insider explains, "Everybody who works at Eon Productions, which makes the Bond movies, has been told Daniel is the new 007."

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Goodbye Reggie, Goodbye Kobe

From AP sports writer Connor Ennis:

Miller was the first Pacer announced in the pregame introduction and was greeted with a loud mixture of boos and cheers. Some fans held up signs reading: "Reggie Thanks for the Memories," ``Reggie Please Don't Retire'' and "We Love Reggie."

After coming out for good earlier in the fourth quarter, several fans yelled "thank you" to Miller during a timeout with 2:33 left. He nodded his head and raised his hand in acknowledgment.

Thanks for always giving us a game, Reggie. It's Miller Time.


AP Photo / Paul Connors

Injured Kobe Bryant sat out as his Lakers were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Too bad, so sad.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Monday, April 04, 2005

UNC Back on Top

Congratulations to Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tarheels, who finally put it all together to bring home a national championship.

JAG Cancelled

Lee Goldberg relays:

After ten years of foreplay, David James Elliott's Harmon Rabb finally beds down Catherine Bell's Mac in the series finale of JAG, which CBS has decided to cancel...opting not to continue with a re-formated version of the series with a new cast shot on the cheap in San Diego. Zap2It reports that the finale, scheduled for 9 p.m. ET April 29, will find Harm and Mac "forced to face [their] feelings once and for all" following a "bombshell" revelation by Gen. Cresswell.

JAG has been a favorite of mine, remaining relevant for years. I lost some interest when Elliott decided to leave. Couldn't get behind Lt. Vukovic, the new hotshot, so I'm glad to see the show come to an end.

Baseball and Bummer

I've had the chance to flip around to a bunch of ballgames today. Of chief interest was Pedro Martinez's debut as a Met against Ken Griffey Jr. and the Reds. Pedro went his usual strong six-plus innings, but the team gave up a lead in the ninth. Still, it's opening day, the promise of success palpable. Good luck, Willie.

The Yankees' season started strong last night. Good to see Tino again.

"Stunts" has been rejected a second time, but them's the breaks.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Gone Fishin'

Every now and then, I take a few days off to switch between poetry and prose. I submitted three batches of poems in January and wrote one poem in February, but aside from that, I've done fiction.

While there's more money to be made in fiction, I find I need to balance both to write my best. Is one easier to write than the other? My answer varies from time to time. Normally I write what comes easier, but every system needs the occasional shock. Though fiction seems easier now, I've tried to set my mind on poetry for the sake of challenge. In the words of Rudy Clark:

And this time I know it's for real
The feelings that I feel
I know if I put my mind to it
I know that I really can do it

Also to get in the right frame of mind, I'm reading THE PISTOL POETS by Victor Gischler. I'll probably follow this with THE LONG-LEGGED FLY by poet/novelist James Sallis, featured on DetecToday this month.

Friday, April 01, 2005

April Fools, Star Trek-Style

The Official Star Trek site is chock full of April Fools fake stories today, including this list of rejected series:

Desperate Yeomans — A saucy look at the secret lives of five starship yeomans, each competing for the attention of their captain but never succeeding because he's always got eyes for the green or blue alien-chick-of-the-week. Though guaranteed to be a water-cooler conversation piece, the network rejected it due to concerns that the show's star, Grace Lee Whitney, "wouldn't appeal to our target demographic." Teri Hatcher, who would have reprised the role of "B.G. Robinson," turned down the offer due to a prior commitment.

The B.Q. — A steamy space opera taking place in that sometimes-forgotten corner of Federation space, the Beta Quadrant. An attractive ion-surfing commander of an upscale space station with an attractively smart-mouthed son takes in an attractive Klingon delinquent. Sexual tension runs rampant as the two youths cross paths with the attractively troubled Romulan princess next door. The network sent back the pilot episode, requesting more attractive characters.

Ferengi Apprentice — Former Grand Nagus Zek has retired from political life but still has a substantial financial empire, so he's looking to hire a young go-getter to run one of his large corporations. A multi-species slate of contestants line up for outlandish competitions, from who can sell the most jumja sticks to who can negotiate the best asteroid-terraforming contract. Using a Tantalus Field he brought back from the mirror universe, Zek eliminates contestants one by one with the phrase, "You're fried." Network executives rejected the show because they didn't like Zek's hair; plus, they were annoyed by an obnoxious contestant named Amargosa.

Betazoid Bachelorette — A young dark-eyed beauty gets to select her future husband from ten handsome suitors. In the pilot, though, the fact that the woman knew everything the males were thinking and feeling pretty much took all the drama out of the show. Plus, the network was afraid of conservative backlash over the all-nude Betazed wedding planned for the season finale.

Fat Vulcan — Kirstie Alley returns as Saavik, the Vulcan Starfleet officer who is still petitioning for a starship command despite the fact that she's put on quite a few pounds and can barely fit in a uniform. Cable executives actually liked the concept, but they retooled it a bit. Instead of a wannabe starship captain, they made Saavik a temporal operative disguised as a human, sent to early 21st-century Earth to pose as a struggling neurotic actress, in order to study the mores of the planet's pre-warp culture. Spock, who dabbles in photography of women as a sideline, has expressed displeasure with the show saying it is un-Vulcanlike and dishonest.

A Prayer for John Paul II

I rarely discuss religion here, but I thought I'd share my thoughts as a Catholic on Pope John Paul II's illness and his legacy, as this may be a perspective you haven't heard.

As the son of surgeons, I've learned to accept when a body is beyond medical help. I also believe there isn't much value in survival if a person derives no joy from life. When I pray for the seriously ill, I pray for an end to their pain by whatever means possible, including natural death.

Not everyone agrees with the Pope's positions, but I'm glad he stands for what he does. It's his duty to represent the ideals of the Roman Catholic faith to the world. When his time comes, I hope future leaders will remember his example of steadfastness, peace, and tolerance of other faiths.

Seven Years of Thrilling Detective

A tip of the fedora to Kevin Burton Smith's Thrilling Detective, today (or yesterday?) celebrating seven years online.

I'm grateful to Kevin and Victoria Esposito-Shea, who welcomed me as Assistant Fiction Editor in March 2001. I've gotten to meet and work with so many talented writers and improve my writing along the way.


Mr. Monk Goes To Novels

Writer and TV producer Lee Goldberg, who currently writes Diagnosis: Murder tie-in novels, has announced he's signed to write a Monk tie-in. Lee's DM books have been praised for raising the standards of TV tie-ins. He and William Rabkin have written for TV's Monk, and I can't wait to see what he does in book form.