Sunday, July 31, 2005

Goodbye, July

Seems like it's been a long month, but in a good way. I had time to make five submissions, three of which were accepted, with the other two still in the running.

In August, I'm going to try a story for Iain Rowan's issue of Hardluck Stories Zine. I also expect to hear from MudRock Stories and Tales about "Lost and Found".

For now, though, I'm off to a cousin's birthday barbecue. Stay cool.

How are you? Not much.

My friend Regan, in from Minnesota, flies back today, but yesterday she met baby Emma Francine Ricotta (daughter of John and Kelly) over brunch.

Saying our goodbyes, John said he was glad we could get together given our increasingly busy schedules.

Regan said she was sorry the visit was so short-lived.

I said, "It's always better that way."

And Regan said, "What do you mean?"

Yet another line of dialogue that sounded better before I said it.

What I meant was, if friends are only able to visit for a short time, the quality of that time is better. Every detail worked out in order to visit reminds us how special friendship is.

A fine sentiment that could've used better execution. Writers rarely get it right the first time, and I recovered by saying, "Can I delete and revise that?"

Friday, July 29, 2005

Take It to the Limit

The tagline below the blog title is my way of taking a mental vacation this year. This morning I found the following lyrics stuck in my head:

Rollin' down to Dallas,
my wheels provide my palace.

And this afternoon it's

Cecilia, you're breaking my heart
You're shaking my confidence daily
Oh, Cecilia, I'm down on my knees
I'm begging you please to come home

which happened to be playing one night I was walking along Pearl Street, visiting a friend in Boulder,

and finally,

I bless the rains down in Africa.

Return of the Jargon

Thieves Jargon is back today after a week settling into a new hosting package. Godspeed, TJ.

Dust to Dust

Mr. Sarah Michelle Gellar (Freddie Prinze Jr.) speculates his wife will not reprise her role as the praeternaturally powerful Buffy Summers in a big screen or TV movie.

Excerpted from an E! Online article:
As for remaking the series as a feature film, Prinze pointed out that the original 1992 Buffy movie, starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry, tanked at the box office.

"It didn't work. That's why [they] made the TV series. It worked much, much better as a TV series," Prinze said.

"It worked so well as a TV show, I don't think Sarah would want to invest in something that's already failed once."

A major flaw in movies today is that, for all the hype created, they provide only short bursts of excitement not worth the money in my opinion.

A Buffy movie could work in theory, except Buffy (the character) is no longer in her prime. The show worked best with Buffy facing horrors of hell and high school at once. A retro movie could be made but not with Gellar, and in that case—as with Ving Rhames's Kojak—it might as well be a different character.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bad, Bad Larry Brown

Baddest man in the whole damn town,
Badder than ol' King Kong,
Meaner than a junkyard dog.

As much as I've criticized Larry Brown's departure from Detroit, there's no denying his skill as a teacher and team-builder. I hope he can bring the Knicks back to NBA prominence.

Slice of Rhyme

Editor Richard Geyer has accepted my rhyming poem "Cleaning House" for the Summer 2005 issue of Contemporary Rhyme, to be posted mid-August.

Chicago Tribune Online: The quest for a whiter shade of pale

By Jia-Rui Chong Tribune Newspapers: Los Angeles Times Wed Jul 27, 9:40 AM ET

For many Southern Californians, summer is the season for beaches, chaise longues and the quest for the perfect tan.

Not for Margaret Qiu. She and thousands of other Asian-American women are going to great lengths to avoid the sun--fighting to preserve or enhance their pale complexions with expensive creams, masks, gloves, professional face scrubs and medical procedures.

For them, a porcelain-like white face is the feminine ideal, reflecting a long-held belief that pale skin represents a comfortable life. They also believe it can hide physical imperfections.

"There's a saying, `If you have white skin, you can cover 1,000 uglinesses,'" said Qiu, 36, a Chinese immigrant who lives in Alhambra.

I'm not much for proverbs, nor do I know much about what women do to look the way they do. I don't like the indoors look, nor do I like ultra-tanning. What I see as healthy or natural may still be elaborately contrived, but I'd like to put in a word for natural beauty. I urge caution once skin treatments cross from health measures to cosmetic. Two words: Michael Jackson.

IMDb: Smallville' Star Welling's Double Fighting for His Life

Smallville star Tom Welling's stunt double Chris Sayour is fighting for his life in a Vancouver, Canada hospital after falling from a tower while filming a scene Tuesday. The veteran stunt coordinator accidentally fell almost 40 feet, according to police reports. Sayour, 35, was airlifted to hospital in New Westminster and treated for "multiple fractures and internal injuries," according to a statement. In a statement from the WB network behind the Superman series, bosses write, "Our thoughts and prayers are with Christopher and his family during this difficult time and we wish him a full recovery." Production was halted yesterday after the accident. It was expected to resume yesterday. Police do not suspect foul play. As well as working on Smallville since 2001, Sayour has also worked as a stuntman in films like I, Robot and Three Kings.

AP: NASA Grounds Future Shuttle Flights

By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer

SPACE CENTER, Houston - In a numbing setback sure to set off a national debate over the future of the space program, NASA has grounded all future shuttle flights because of a large chunk of foam that broke off Discovery's fuel tank in hauntingly similar fashion to Columbia's doomed mission.

I applaud the space program as I do any exploration. I hope we can strike a balance between caution and pioneering spirit.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Smallville Season Five Guests

James Marsters comes to Smallville playing the evil Brainiac. John Schneider's fellow Duke boy, Tom Wopat, will play a state senator and boyhood friend of Jonathan Kent.

The Superman Homepage has details.

Trust Your Feelings

My left brain wants to write fiction; my right brain wants to write poetry. Guess who's winning.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


I had brunch at IHOP with a college friend in from Minnesota. Having discovered her passion to teach during a stint in the Peace Corps, she recently completed graduate Education coursework and student-teaching and landed a job teaching 8th and 9th graders and coaching basketball and volleyball.

In the year-plus since I last saw her, I've had several stories and poems published, but there didn't seem a good moment to mention them. I think it was a case of writing accomplishment not meaning the same or as much to non-writers. Still, that left me with less to talk about.

I realize this is competitive of me, but who doesn't want to have a good answer for "What have you been up to lately?"

AP: Hiker Survives Five Days in Lava Field

WAIMEA, Hawaii - A hiker lost for five days in a lava field near a volcano says he survived by drinking water he squeezed from moss in a mostly barren landscape. Gilbert Dewey Gaedcke III, 41, was rescued Friday afternoon after a teenager on a helicopter tour spotted him stumbling across the rocky lava, trying to attract attention with a mirror from his camera.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler, born July 23, 1888, went on to create the paradigm of first-person series private eye fiction, Philip Marlowe. In his quest to elevate the detective story, Chandler sometimes took himself too seriously, but any writer of detective fiction to follow is grateful for his gumption.

Hollywood Reporter: Whedon flock ready for 'Firefly' resurrection

By Anne Thompson

LOS ANGELES - Now that "Star Wars," "Star Trek" and "The Matrix" are fading into the sunset, what will take their place in the hearts of sci-fi fantasy fans?

TV auteur Joss Whedon and Universal Pictures are hoping that it's "Serenity," his movie version of 2002's aborted Fox space Western TV series "Firefly," which opens Sept. 30.

(Full article.)

Stephanie Seymour

I first saw Stephanie Seymour on an HBO special marking the 25th anniversary of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue (source of the above image). Fourteen at the time, I was soon drinking milk in the hope of attracting someone like her.

Seymour turns 37 today, mother of four, wife of Interview's Peter Brant.

Part of this complete breakfast

Milk, these days skim milk, is a staple of my diet. Richer than water and more basic than juice, it's an excellent balance for fruit or cereal. My days don't seem to start as well without milk, and I missed it for a few days this week as a trip to the grocery had to wait.

Who remembers the commercial with the boy drinking milk in front of a mirror as his reflection grows taller and more fit, finally attracting a similarly tall and fit girlfriend? Enough to keep me drinking right there.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Rage on

"Four Minutes"—my poem for Lunatic Chameleon's online Anger issue—is now available. Thanks to editor Nan Purnell.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

What Makes a Good Remake?

I've blogged about my usual distaste for remakes, so I thought I'd explore what to me makes a good remake. The answer is depth, a.k.a. added dimension. The best candidates then to be remade lacked depth originally:

Stargate. From the makers of Independence Day, putting Earth under threat from similarly shallow, vengeful, non-English-speaking aliens.

Stargate SG-1. A charismatic lead in Richard Dean Anderson, and expansion of the stargate concept beyond the single planet Abydos to countless worlds.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The movie was utterly forgettable. The series brought in Sarah Michelle Gellar and again went beyond the original vampires to countless species of demon and the now-famous Scooby Gang group of uniquely talented friends.

Batman. From camp (Adam West) to dark (Michael Keaton), back to camp (Val Kilmer, George Clooney), back to dark (Christian Bale). Batman has limitless depth to explore. It's only a question of doing so.

Spider-man. Nicholas Hammond vs. Tobey Maguire. Any questions?

Now to a remake I'd like to see: Perhaps a big screen version of Vega$ with George Clooney as Dan Tanna.

The trick is to broaden the concept without diluting it.

How We Doin'? Same as Always.

With this Return of the Jedi dialogue I mark another day revising and submitting poems, this time to David Bates at My Favorite Bullet, which segues nicely into Captain Sulu's line from Star Trek VI: "Now we've given them something else to shoot at."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

AP: Gerry Thomas, Inventor of TV Dinners, Dies

PHOENIX - Gerry Thomas, who changed the way Americans eat — for better or worse — with his invention of the TV Dinner during the baby boom years, has died at 83.

Thomas, who died in Paradise Valley on Monday after a bout with cancer, was a salesman for Omaha, Neb.-based C.A. Swanson and Sons in 1954 when he got the idea of packaging frozen meals in a disposable aluminum-foil tray, divided into compartments to keep the foods from mixing. He also gave the product its singular name.

The first Swanson TV Dinner — turkey with cornbread dressing and gravy, sweet potatoes and buttered peas — sold for about $1 and could be cooked in 25 minutes at 425 degrees. Ten million sold in the first year of national distribution.

What would the single life be without Mr. Thomas's marvel of storable sustenance?

Thank You, James Doohan

'Star Trek' Star James Doohan Dies

By BOB THOMAS, Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES - James Doohan, the burly chief engineer of the Starship Enterprise in the original "Star Trek" TV series and movies who responded to the command "Beam me up, Scotty," died Wednesday. He was 85.

Doohan died at 5:30 a.m. at his Redmond, Wash., home with his wife of 28 years, Wende, at his side, Los Angeles agent and longtime friend Steve Stevens said. The cause of death was pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease, he said.

Little Blue Grammar Butchers

From E! Online:
A Smurfin' Movie Deal

Fans of a certain animated tribe of small, blue woodland creatures haven't gotten a lot of love lately: No new TV episodes, no old TV episodes on DVD (outside of a couple of import releases), no real news on a long-rumored movie.

Now, finally, things are looking rather smurfin'.

A 3-D, CGI-animated Smurfs feature film will bow in theaters in 2008, Daily Variety reported Tuesday. The extravaganza from Paramount's Nickelodeon Movies will be the first in a planned trilogy, it said. According to Newsweek, the project has been trying to get off the ground since at least 2003.

Word of the done deal comes a week after DreamWorks and Paramount set a July 4, 2007, release date for The Transformers, another animated TV series due for a big-screen makeover. But while Transformers fandom has thrived, fueled by new series and product, the smaller legions of Smurf faithful have waited.

Sure the Smurfs seem harmless, but for years they confused children's knowledge of English grammar the way Barney the Dinosaur confuses knowledge of nursery rhymes.

Smurf this, smurf that, I'm feeling smurfy. Let's call the whole thing off. And while I'm at it, I was a Transformers fan but have no great wish to see them on the big screen. (I've never seen the 1986 Transformers movie.)

Something, anything original, please.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Story Has Landed

My fourth C.J. Stone story, "Gypped", has been accepted to an upcoming issue of Thieves Jargon.

For now (at least) I'm one up on Indy.

Firefly on SCI FI

The thirteen-episode run of Joss Whedon's space Western Firefly begins airing on Sci Fi Channel this Friday—a nice lead-in to Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, and Battlestar Galactica.

Time to Rhyme

I wanted to submit at least once more before the end of month. What to do when no new ideas spring to mind? Revise old ones.

I find rejected poems easier to refurbish than rejected stories. In my experience, a poem fails when it doesn't address what I want to say as powerfully as possible. Failed poems leave readers confused about what I mean. Kind-of-getting my point isn't good enough. You have to feel the impact as sharply as the speaker does.

Lately forms or themes have helped me bring these emotions into focus. Today I revised a poem originally aimed for SFF ezine Raven Electrick into a rhyming poem for Richard Geyer's Contemporary Rhyme.

Hollywood Reporter: Man of Steel entrances comic book fans

SAN DIEGO - Superman is back.

Director Bryan Singer on Saturday gave some 6,500 sci-fi, fantasy and comic book fans first look at footage from "Superman Returns," the latest attempt to revive the DC Comics movie franchise.

"It's one of the largest films Warner Bros. has ever made," Singer told the crowd at the 36th annual Comic-Con International, taking place at the San Diego Convention Center.

The fans gave the early assemblage -- for which Singer flew in from the set in Sydney -- a rousing standing ovation. "This is Comic-Con, and it is 'Superman,"' the director said. "If there was ever a time to make the long flight for a short visit, this was it."

According to producer Chris Lee, Singer hasn't decided whether to post the teaser on the Internet, but the filmmakers will put it up swiftly if a bootleg version is posted. "Superman Returns" is scheduled for release June 30.

The early footage, cut by "Superman" co-writer Dan Harris, emphasized the retro visual style of the film, which Singer shot with new single-chip Genesis digital cameras. It suggested the lead characters' romantic dilemma as Superman/Clark Kent (played by newcomer Brandon Routh) returns to Metropolis after a long absence to find that heartthrob Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) is married to the son (James Marsden) of Daily Planet editor Perry White (Frank Langella). Kevin Spacey rejoins his "Usual Suspects" director as Superman nemesis Lex Luthor.

"Kevin has a unique ability to play humor and villainy," Singer said.

Superman fan that I am, I have my reservations. Routh looks rather Adam West-like in the above photo. And the plot point finding Lois married to Perry White's son? What is this, Super-Homewrecker?

Clear and Present Day

Yesterday I caught parts of the Tom Clancy movie Clear and Present Danger, which aired twice on A&E and once on the Spanish-language channel Telefutura. Odd.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Kristen Bell

TV's Veronica Mars Kristen Bell is 25 today. The acclaimed first season of the UPN show is coming to DVD October 11, apparently without bonuses. We shall see.

Also, Vin Diesel is 38 today, and Yankee manager Joe Torre 65.

Thrilled for Dave White

Dave White's "God's Dice"—published by Thrilling Detective in Spring 2004 and selected by storySouth as one of 110 Notable Stories of 2004 and finalist for a Short Mystery Fiction Society Derringer Award—will soon be anthologized in The Adventure of the Missing Detective and 25 of the Year's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg.

This latest honor is the only one that pays. :) Well deserved, sir.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Leiter's Encore

Yanks to Start Leiter Against Red Sox

By JIMMY GOLEN, AP Sports Writer

BOSTON - The New York Yankees acquired left-hander Al Leiter — and most of the money to pay him — from the Florida Marlins and scheduled him to start Sunday's series finale against the Boston Red Sox.

UPDATE (07/18/05): Leiter spurred the Yanks to a 5-3 win, putting them in second place in the AL East, a half-game behind Boston.

40 Things That Only Happen in Movies

Link from Jen Jordan.

Friday, July 15, 2005

IMDb: All-Star Game Strikes Out

Fox's telecast of Major League Baseball's All-Star Game appeared to score record low ratings Tuesday night. According to overnight figures released Wednesday, the game drew a 7.5 rating and a 13 share, down from last year's 8.8/15, the previous record low. The annual contest has seen a steady erosion of its one-time stand-out numbers. In 2002 and 2003, the game pulled a 9.5/17; in 2001, an 11.0/19; in 2000, a 10.1/18; in 1999, a 12.0/21; and in 1998 -- the last year it ranked No. 1 for the week -- a 13.3/25.

The decision to have the All-Star Game determine homefield in the World Series was an effort to improve ratings. Can we go back to an exhibition game now? More competitive games would really improve the ratings. The fact is the American League has won the past eight years. Why watch something so monotonous?

IMDb: Laurie Feels Validated with Emmy Nomination

British actor Hugh Laurie is thrilled with his Emmy nomination because it's made him feel like he's in the right career after more than two decades in the business. Laurie received a nod in the Best Actor in a Drama category for his efforts in acclaimed medical show House, and he admits it's finally made him feel validated. He tells the Hollywood Reporter, "I'm still reeling. I'm still taking it all in. I've been doing this for 20-odd years and never really been sure that I've been doing the right thing, that I've been in the right place at the right time. It's wonderful to feel at last that maybe I didn't pick the wrong career, that I didn't take a wrong turning, that maybe this is something that I ought to be doing." Laurie, who attributes the show's success to the writing, will vie for the award with James Spader, Ian McShane, Hank Azaria and Kiefer Sutherland on September 18 in Los Angeles.

AP: Superheroes Abound at Movies This Year

This article looks at the proliferation of uperhero movies in recent years. I am a superhero fan, but I have to believe quantity will affect quality.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

"It's not the years, honey; it's the mileage."

Harrison Ford is 63 today, and the touted fourth Indiana Jones movie has yet to materialize (now set for 2006).

I will see the movie if it is made, but there's something to be said for leaving things be. Then again, Indy creator George Lucas is just the sort of person who can't leave things be.

AP: Military's Energy-Beam Weapons Delayed

By BRIAN BERGSTEIN, AP Technology Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. - For years, the U.S. military has explored a new kind of firepower that is instantaneous, precise and virtually inexhaustible: beams of electromagnetic energy. "Directed-energy" pulses can be throttled up or down depending on the situation, much like the phasers on "Star Trek" could be set to kill or merely stun.

Such weapons are now nearing fruition. But logistical issues have delayed their battlefield debut — even as soldiers in Iraq encounter tense urban situations in which the nonlethal capabilities of directed energy could be put to the test.

"It's a great technology with enormous potential, but I think the environment's not strong for it," said James Jay Carafano, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who blames the military and Congress for not spending enough on getting directed energy to the front. "The tragedy is that I think it's exactly the right time for this."

(Full article.)

"Would you like sais with that?"

My aunt treated me to lunch yesterday at Panera, a sandwich, soup, and salad place leaning more toward Starbucks than Subway.

At Panera, the counterpersons take down your name and call you when your order is ready. The space's acoustics leave something to be desired, however, and to simplify things, my aunt opted to give her two-syllable last name over her four-syllable first name. Her last name is Sia (as in "See ya later."). She pronounced her name and spelled it, but neither method helped. The counterperson heard "Sai." (Sigh.)

"Sai, your order is ready. Sai?"

For more phonetic foibles, read this entry from the archives.

Infernal Internal Song of the Day

"Follow Me" by Uncle Kracker:

I'm not worried 'bout the ring you wear
Cuz as long as no one knows then nobody can care
You're feelin' guilty and I'm well aware
But you don't look ashamed and baby I'm not scared
I'm singin'

Follow me, everything is all right
I'll be the one to tuck you in at night
And if you
Want to leave I can guarantee
You won't find nobody else like me

Won't give you money
I can't give you the sky
You're better off if you don't ask why
I'm not the reason that you go astray and
We'll be all right if you don't ask me to stay...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Flash Fantastic No. 21 live.

The second story on the page is mine. Let me know what you think.

Thanks to editor Art Brown and publisher Nolan B. Canova.

My Movie Tastes

Dave White asks, "Why do we see certain films? What attracts us to them?"

I commented:

"I will see a movie one time because I like the actor(s). I saw TOMB RAIDER and MR. AND MRS. SMITH for Angelina Jolie, GREAT EXPECTATIONS for Gwyneth Paltrow, HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE for Harrison Ford, THE CORE for Hilary Swank...

In turn, I'm likely to skip a movie because I don't want to see an actor. Actors are a big part of how movies are packaged, and it's impossible to always disregard the packaging. Right now I'm avoiding Tom Cruise movies because he's been overexposed outside the movies. I'm simply tired of him at the moment.

I will buy a movie to watch repeatedly because I like the story/execution (L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, HELLBOY, THE SUM OF ALL FEARS)."

IMDb: Chan Accuses Tucker of Diva Conduct

Jackie Chan has accused his Rush Hour costar Chris Tucker of blocking production of a new installment of the franchise by making a power grab. "He wants final editing rights and the final look at the movie and so on," Chan told The Associated Press. Chan insisted that Tucker has not established a sufficient reputation for making such demands. "He's still a new actor," he said. "How many movies has he made? Two movies have already made him very famous and made him a lot of money. He needs to learn slowly." Tucker has not responded.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat

Bobby Abreu of the Philadelphia Phillies has just hit 24 homers in the first round of this year's homerun derby, smashing Miguel Tejada's single-round record of 15.

Pittsburgh Pirate Jason Bay followed Abreu, getting ten outs without a single homer.

AP: Icepick Used to Kill Trotsky Resurfaces

By MARK STEVENSON, Associated Press Writer

MEXICO CITY - One of history's most infamous murder weapons, the icepick police believe was used to kill Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, has resurfaced just weeks before the 65th anniversary of his assassination.

Brain Freeze!

Slurpee celebrates 40 years of 'brain freeze'

By Theresa Howard, USA TODAY

Long before smoothies and Frappuccinos there was the Slurpee. The slushy, colorful 7-Eleven brand - and American icon - turns 40 today and is still popular for the same reasons it caught on back then: fun, variety, "brain freeze" and colored tongues.

R.I.P. Byron Preiss

Bill Crider relays news of Byron Preiss's death from injuries sustained in a car accident July 9.

Writer, editor, and publishing entrepeneur Priess put together Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe: A Centennial Celebration (1988), wherein twenty-five authors paid tribute with short stories featuring the quintessential detective.

Priess later formed the iBooks imprint under which he reprinted hardboiled classics. Among my favorites were Roger L. Simon's Moses Wine series, Loren D. Estleman's Amos Walker series, and Lawrence Block's first P.I. novel.

Preiss was 52.

Happy Birthday, Lex Luthor

Oceanside, NY native and New York Rangers fan Michael Rosenbaum turns 33 today. Time and time again on the melodramatic meltdown that is TV's Smallville, Rosenbaum reminds us what real acting is.

Veteran character actor Bruce McGill, Jack Dalton on MacGyver, turns 55 today. While the scheming, scamming pilot Dalton was more whimsical than C.J. Stone, he had a part in shaping C.J., especially in the episode introducing Dalton:

MacGyver arrives home to find his apartment picked clean. Clues lead him to a hangar where he reunites with childhood friend Dalton. Dalton enlists Mac's help to rescue their gal pal (played by Patricia McPherson) from a drug runner and the corrupt colonel in his pocket.

Finally, Sela Ward turns 49 today. She did a memorable turn on TV's House this past season as Stacy Warner, the woman from Dr. House's past whose quick decision to operate cost House the use of his leg.

Leave No Man Behind

Body of U.S. Commando Found in Afghanistan

By DANIEL COONEY, Associated Press Writer

KABUL, Afghanistan - The body of a missing U.S. commando has been located in eastern Afghanistan, the military said Monday, bringing an end to the desperate search for the last member of an ill-fated, four-man special forces unit that disappeared last month.

One of the four men was rescued on July 3; the other two were found dead the next day.

(Full article)

I've learned one of the fallen SEALs, Lt. Michael P. Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, was to marry someone from my parish in November.

I take some solace that the SEALs can follow through on their code, to leave no man behind.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The McLemee Meme

Recently, Scott McLemee who writes the Intellectual Affairs column for Inside Higher Ed started a blog meme and tagged myself among others to continue it. In turn, we have been asked to tag others. I would love it if you could do it (and in turn tag a few others).

Thanks to Paul Giamatti soundalike Dave White, the chain has worked its way around to me:

(1) Imagine it’s 2015. You are visiting the library at a major research university. You go over to a computer terminal (or whatever it is they use in 2015) that gives you immediate access to any book or journal article on any topic you want. What do you look up? In other words, what do you hope somebody will have written in the meantime?

I would look up most of the relevant texts on non-fossil-based fuels and time travel, two innovations I hope we mainstream by then.

(2) What is the strangest thing you’ve ever heard or seen at a conference? No names, please. Refer to “Professor X” or “Ms. Y” if you must. Double credit if you were directly affected. Triple if you then said or did something equally weird.

If you extend conference to include online chats, I probably have said or heard something strange at at least one of them. You can check here.

(3) Name a writer, scholar, or otherwise worthy person you admire so much that meeting him or her would probably reduce you to awestruck silence.

In this age of technology, I'm usually awestruck and silent at first meeting authors whom I've read but haven't corresponded with online. This applies mainly to authors who stop by other authors' signings.

(4) What are two or three blogs or other Web sites you often read that don’t seem to be on many people’s radar?

Ken Harvill's LiveJournal and Lee Goldberg's blog.

Oh, and I tag Graham Powell, Megan Powell, Aldo Calcagno, John, and Jen Jordan to go next.

AP: Lara Flynn Boyle Headed for 'Las Vegas'

Photo: Chris Carlson/AP

Lara Flynn Boyle will return to series television when she joins the cast of the NBC drama "Las Vegas" this fall.

Flynn Boyle, who played Assistant District Attorney Helen Gamble on "The Practice" (1997-2003), will portray the flamboyant new owner of the Montecito Resort & Casino.

"Obviously, we're excited to have someone with the style and panache of Lara Flynn Boyle as we head into a season of transition for `Las Vegas,'" Gary Scott Thompson, the series' creator and executive producer, said in a recent statement.

I haven't watched "Las Vegas" at all, but Flynn Boyle may change that. My favorite was her performance as a femme fatale in John Dahl's Red Rock West (1992).

Friday, July 08, 2005

Coming Soon

Editor Nan Purnell has accepted my poem "Four Minutes" to be posted on the Lunatic Chameleon web site by the end of next week.

The link to Flash Fantastic #21, featuring my caper story "Stunts", should go active soon. Keep checking back.

Evan Hunter's Influences and Process

During a author chat on January 6, 1999 I asked Hunter about his influences and writing process.

His response:
I don't know if my influences would be the same as yours. When I was coming on and just beginning writing, the influences for my generation were Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, and in the mystery field Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain. I am not sure who the models are now. My own method of starting a novel is, with a mystery novel, I start with a title. For a long time I used single word titles that had to have many resonances and meanings. THE BIG BAD CITY -- I have used this phrase in many other novels. It has echoed so long in my books along the line. But anyway, I usually just jump right in and start writing with a scene that is absolutely compelling and will keep the readers attention. I keep going and if the energy starts to flag, I start plotting on paper and outlining. A good way for beginning writers to find their own voice (this may sound peculiar) is to copy something by someone they admire word for word. Actually type it. Get the feeling for what it is like. I am not suggesting plagiarism. This is just an exercise.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Upon hearing of the coordinated attacks on London this morning, for which an Islamist group is claiming responsibility, I thought of my Anglophile screenwriter friend in L.A.

I'm angry and at a loss. I hate the "Look what we can do" attitude of these attacks.

So unnecessary.

An Incidental Journey

Each year around the 4th of July, my thoughts turn to pilot-for-hire C.J. Stone and his Grumman G-21 Goose Miss Liberty. My most recent C.J. story was last year's "Gypped," marketed first to Hardluck Stories Zine, then to Shred of Evidence.

Building on my seasonal inspiration and not having looked at the piece in months, I didn't have to work through much inertia for a revision, submitted this morning to Thieves Jargon.

IMDb: Gruffudd Fears He'll Jinx Bond Role If He Talks About It

Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd is so determined to land the role of James Bond he's refusing to talk about the possibility for fear of jinxing his 007 dream. The Horatio Hornblower star was outed as the favorite to land the part at a press conference yesterday by Fantastic Four co-star Julian McMahon, who was among the names mentioned for the role. When Aussie McMahon was quizzed about the role, he stunned journalists by turning to Gruffudd and stating, "I think Ioan is playing Bond." But the Welsh actor would not be drawn into a conversation about the part: "I don't want to jinx it."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

R.I.P. Evan Hunter (a.k.a. Ed McBain)

Photo (c) Dragica Dimitrijevic
David J. Montgomery reports crime fiction giant Evan Hunter has died after a long battle with cancer.

UPDATE (07/08/05): During a 1999 author chat I asked Hunter about his influences and writing process.

Robert B(lowhard) Parker

Bob Ames, proprietor of the excellent Bullets & Beer Spenser homepage, offers an early account of Parker at a signing for his Western Appaloosa.

Among the topics discussed were the TV versions of Spenser. Comments in brackets are mine:

On Robert Urich:
"Bob was not a good Spenser. He had no acting range, and no emotional tightness."

[Emotional tightness? Sounds unhealthy anyway.]

On Barbara Stock:
"I like Barbara Stock. If she was an actress I'd like her even better. She has since wisely gotten out of the business."

[That's just mean. That's mean, man.]

On Avery Brooks:
"He's not my Hawk, but he's a good Hawk."

On the contrast between the two Spenser actors:
"Urich was big but had a small range and had never read the books. Mantegna was small, but a good actor and had read all the books."

Parker's dislike of Spenser: For Hire is well documented, and he probably gets asked often and has to repeat these answers. Still, I'm laughing at the superior intellect.

Hit the Road, Jacques

London will host the 2012 Summer Olympics, upsetting odds-on favorite Paris in the final vote. I especially congratulate Britons after hearing French president Jacques Chirac's competitive banter, "The only thing the British ever gave European farming was mad cow," and "You can trust people who cook as badly as they do."

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

It's Bloggerin' Time!

Superhero afficionado that I am, one movie I will not see is Fantastic Four, mainly because I could never stand Reed Richards' pomposity and his Hart to Hart-like relationship with Sue. I found the Four's archfoes weak. Superskrull? I could almost relate to the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing. Too bad he was so hung up on his looks.

Fireworks? What Fireworks?

For some reason I was extremely tired by 8 p.m. last night and slept through the fireworks displays. I didn't feel especially deprived because I caught some of Sunday night's display from Jones Beach. (I live nearby and saw the high-flyers from my window while writing a poem about anger for Lunatic Chameleon.) Having skipped the Canada trip, I was glad to put the time to good professional use.

Monday, July 04, 2005

AP: Poor Writng Costs Taxpayers Millions

By JUSTIN POPE, AP Education Writer

States spend nearly a quarter of a billion dollars a year on remedial writing instruction for their employees, according to a new report that says the indirect costs of sloppy writing probably hurt taxpayers even more.

The National Commission on Writing, in a report to be released Tuesday, says that good writing skills are at least as important in the public sector as in private industry. Poor writing not only befuddles citizens but also slows down the government as bureaucrats struggle with unclear instructions or have to redo poorly written work.

"It's impossible to calculate the ultimate cost of lost productivity because people have to read things two and three times," said Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, vice chairman of the National Governors Association, which conducted the survey for the commission.

(Full article)

As a former remedial writing teacher, I want to stress the need to improve reading comprehension as well. Writing fundamentals can be taught, but writing style is unique to the individual. People need to be equipped to understand as much as possible. They need to develop the desire to learn beyond their school years, or any piece of writing may confuse just the same.

Independence Day

In my view, the United States of America's greatest virtue is its belief in freedom. Though at various stages of its history it has been slow to grant the same freedoms to all, it has always intended to be a land of opportunity.

It is easy to take for granted all the U.S. has to offer, but I for one will always be grateful for the life it has allowed me to lead. I salute all who gained and who preserve our freedom.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

AP: Federer beats Roddick for third straight Wimbledon title

By STEVEN WINE, AP Sports Writer
July 3, 2005

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- Roger Federer strengthened his claim to greatness Sunday, winning his third consecutive Wimbledon title by beating Andy Roddick 6-2, 7-6 (2), 6-4.

With an impeccable performance, even by his high standards, the top-ranked Federer became the third man since 1936 to win three straight Wimbledon crowns, joining seven-time champion Pete Sampras and five-time winner Bjorn Borg. - TV Heroes: Not Just for July 4th offers a lineup of TV heroes who exempiify the spirit of those who fought for U.S. independence. Below are my favorites from the lineup:

Clark Kent, "Smallville": OK, he isn't U.S.-born and -bred to the absolute letter - he didn't even have a visa with him when he landed on Earth from Krypton -- but this superpowered farm boy embodies every criterion of "truth, justice and the American way." Living in Kansas brings out even more of his down-home appeal, and even if his youthful adventures seem pretty localized, anyone who knows the rest of the story realizes Clark eventually will grow up to defend America (and, for that matter. the world) at large.

Napoleon Solo, "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.": It's a given that any agent of the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement would be a hero, since the job required defending humanity from villains who had all sorts of grandiose schemes for world domination. That Solo consistently did it with such unyielding panache, often in the face of seemingly imminent death (Tied beneath a pendulum about to slice him in two? Not a problem) puts him even higher on the hero scale.

Buffy Summers, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer": Her tombstone on the series said it best: "She saved the world/A lot." And she did it at a tremendous personal price, not because there was something in it for her, but simply because she understood that's what she had been put on Earth for in the first place.

Angus MacGyver, "MacGyver": What is more traditionally American than using sheer mind power to get out of tight scrapes? And who had to do that more often than troubleshooter extraordinaire MacGyver? He had us at "hello," especially since in the show's pilot episode, he used an average chocolate bar to prevent a nuclear facility's complete meltdown.

Dr. Hawkeye Pierce, "M*A*S*H": The wisecracking, irreverent Korean War surgeon seemed to have few sacred cows. Yet he rarely hesitated to rail against the insanity and appalling human waste of war, while doing anything he could to help save the young lives thrust into harm's way by "statesmen" living safely half a world away.

Capt. James T. Kirk, "Star Trek": Despite series creator Gene Roddenberry's protestations that in his version of the 23rd century humans had become more enlightened, Kirk remained a red-blooded, independent thinker who was not afraid to kick the Prime Directive to the curb if he thought it was the right thing to do.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Classic in the Making

AFP Photo/Carl de Souza

When she defeated defending champion Maria Sharapova in the semifinals, it seemed to me Venus Williams was on a mission for her third Wimbledon title. She proved this true time and time again, coming back from several match points down against composed competitor Lindsay Davenport, to win the longest ladies' match in Wimbledon history 4-6, 7-6 (4), 9-7.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Canada Day

Ironic that on Canada Day my renewed U.S. passport should arrive in enough time for me to (theoretically) ride up to Toronto tonight for Fourth-of-July weekend.

Practically, it's too late to join the trip as I would have to rush to pack, increasing the chance I'd forget some crucial item or other. Instead I'll spend the next three days ensconced with a book or two and the aforementioned DangerMouse, Spenser, and Stone Cold DVDs.

I don't leave the States often, but it's nice to know that once again I can cross the borders freely.

Rangers Pitcher Kenny Rogers

...didn't know when to walk away:
Rogers faces uncertain future with Rangers, penalty from MLB


July 1, 2005

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Kenny Rogers was having the kind of season to warrant the contract extension he wants from the Texas Rangers.

After two angry outbursts, the latest coming when he shoved two cameramen on the field, the 40-year-old left-hander faces an uncertain future.

UPDATE (7:00 PM): AP - Rangers' Kenny Rogers Suspended 20 Games