Sunday, December 31, 2006

Just in time for the party

My friend John and his wife Kelly welcomed their second daughter, Julie Elizabeth, today at 11:01 A.M. Congratulations!

Not So Fast

Made my last poetry submission of the year this morning to The Orange Room Review. Editors Corey and Rachael Cook are looking for "accessible poetry of substance." Who could ask for anything more?

They've accepted my poems, "More Than Anything" and "How to Tell New Teachers," for publication in February and April respectively.

Also, the Holiday issue of Thrilling Detective is partially posted. A big thanks to E-I-C Kevin Burton Smith and all our contributors. Original fiction by Jack Bludis, Karl Koweski, and Stephen D. Rogers has been posted, with Duane Swierczynski's on the way.

Looking Forward

Some dates I've saved in 2007:


10: S.J. Rozan at Partners & Crime
11: Megan Abbott at Black Orchid Bookshop


1: Voting begins in Patrick Shawn Bagley's Heavy Metal Noir flash fiction contest; The Hiss Quarterly NC-17 issue goes live, featuring two of my poems.


6: The Rockford Files Season 3 on DVD
20: Justice League Unlimited, the final 13 episodes on DVD


10: Payback: Straight Up. Brian Helgeland's director's cut on DVD

Wishing everyone a healthy and productive new year.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
Rely on the Grand Old Flag.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

More Powerful Than Jamie Powell...

I liked Nicole Eggert but was most fascinated by Maureen Flannigan, who from 1987 to '91 played half-alien Evie Garland on the syndicated sitcom Out of This World.

Flannigan turns 33 today.

Friday, December 29, 2006


Just received my copies of Nerve Cowboy 22. My poem "Ginny" is on page 41. Thanks to editors Joseph Shields and Jerry Hagins.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Best of 2006

Best Read (Novel) of 2006:

Solomon vs. Lord by Paul Levine - This first book in a fine, fast-growing series lived up to its hype, combining the best elements of legal thriller and romantic comedy.

Walking Money by James O. Born - A well-written page-turner in the tradition of Elmore Leonard that rings with authenticity.

The Devil's Right Hand by J.D. Rhoades - Rhoades's Jack Keller is the first hero in a long while to walk in the footsteps of Spenser and Elvis Cole and not be overshadowed.

Best Read (Short Story) of 2006:

"Six Love" by James W. Hall - A noirish cautionary tale of a loving father's bold act to help his daughter's self-esteem.

"The Man for the Job" by Gary Phillips - A former NFL star stumbles through the streets of Dublin looking for a crack fix.

"As Dark as Christmas Gets" by Lawrence Block - Chip Harrison and Leo Haig star in this lampoon of literary pretense.

Best Movie Seen in 2006:

Casino Royale - Daniel Craig silences doubters, bringing James Bond back with a little less conversation, a little more action.

Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut - This year's real return of Superman, it completely changed my opinion of Margot Kidder for the better.

Best Writing Experience of 2006:

"The Luck of the Irish" - a flash story based on a mugshot.

"Wet Dream" - a truly asinine poem.

"Ambition" - first written for Paul Guyot's Bogarmoredcarstory contest, will be reprinted next June in Mouth Full of Bullets.

I published more poetry than fiction this year, which is fine. I'd be as proud of a chapbook as I would a story collection or novel. My goal is to execute the ideas that present themselves in the most ready-for-print state. More fiction will be ready eventually. 2005 seemed to fly by; 2006 seemed a little slower. Maybe that means I made more use of the time.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"Drinks are on the house, President Ford."

The above 80s movie line comes to mind on the passing of Gerald Ford. I always thought Ford got a bad break, like a substitute teacher forced to fill in for the rest of the term, but in his own way, he brought quiet dignity back to the presidency in the wake of Watergate.

Unfairly remembered for a stumble, Ford was actually one of the most athletic U.S. presidents. A two-way center on two title-winning University of Michigan football teams, he passed up the NFL to attend Yale Law School.

James Brown and Harry Crumb

My favorite James Brown memory is the scene from Who's Harry Crumb? where Harry gets his tie caught in Elliot Draisen's office shredder while "I Got You (I Feel Good)" plays in the background.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Work It

The editors of The Hiss Quarterly have accepted my poems, "Pranksters" and "Overtime", for their February '07 NC-17 issue.

Mastodon Dentist has rejected two poems.

You can't always get what you wa-nt.

Viva Los Straitjackets!

We had the annual family Christmas gathering in Old Bridge, NJ yesterday where my cousin married just over a year ago announced he would be a father come July. Later his wife gave him an XBox 360, and he jumped into playing Halo 2.

In addition to the aforementioned early Christmas presents, I received a DVD of the Jamie Foxx/Colin Farrell Miami Vice movie (which I hadn't watched), a dresser-top organizer (which I proved necessary just now, rooting through a desk drawer for my watch), and only one article of clothing.

The spontaneous highlight this year came while riding to the party with my brother and mom, picking up 89.1 FM Radio Farleigh Dickinson University and its lineup of "Unusual Christmas Music" including Los Straitjackets' instrumental surf version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and a sampling of Tom Lehrer parodies.

These wonderful things are the things we remember all through our lives.

UPDATE (11:38 AM): I've ordered 'Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets and Songs & More Songs By Tom Lehrer.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Couldn't do this without a blog.

I invite you to read my entry from a year ago, "The Stuff of Legend," wherein I recall my first real, live, plausible crush. This was four years before the revival of Charles In Charge, but she was close in looks and hotness to Jamie Powell:

Friday, December 22, 2006

Graham Powell Appreciation Day

As designated by the grateful bloggers tracked on, today we salute the site's creator, Graham Powell—programmer, author, mystery fan:

...and on my list of Favorite Powells up there with Jamie Powell:

Where'd they go?

If you were online when I first posted this year's Best of Me nominees, you'll notice two flash stories have been removed. "The Seed" and "Ambition" were both at Flashing in the Gutters, which Tribe has decided to shut down. Nan Purnell's Lunatic Chameleon also recently went dark. Such is the fate of many zines, but fear not. The search for reprint markets has begun.

UPDATE (12/23/06): Mouth Full of Bullets editor BJ Bourg has accepted "Ambition" for reprint in June 2007.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Contemporary Rhyme editor Richard Geyer has accepted my poem "Surprise Party" for publication in February 2007.

THE WHEELMAN by Duane Swierczynski

Mute Irish getaway driver Lennon is part of a three-man team that robs a Wachovia bank of $650,000. The heist goes wrong, and the money goes missing. The rest has to be seen to be believed and fully enjoyed.

Many writers and novels have been called "cinematic." Swierczynski's pedal-to-the-metal approach to The Wheelman is the fastest I've seen words become mental imagery.

On a side note, I had some extra inadvertent fun with this book, confusing the terms "mute" and "mime." Richard Stark meets Marcel Marceau.

Okay, just me.

Monday, December 18, 2006

"Ooh, what a rush."

The other day, Patrick Shawn Bagley announced the Heavy Metal Noir flash fiction contest. I submitted my entry today, but most of the world will have to wait until February 1st to read it.

Midterm TV Report Card

STILL WATCHING: Consistent or Improved Shows Since Last Season -

NCIS, Bones.

BEST NEW SHOW: This Season -


WHAT HAPPENED?: Favorites That Have Disappointed This Season -

House. David Morse plays a cop harassing House over his drug habit in the current arc. It was fine for the first couple of episodes, but the conflict is starting to feel contrived and the mood of the show gratuitously dark.

WAIT A MINUTE: New Shows Cancelled Too Soon -


IS THAT STILL ON?: Veteran Shows Past Their Freshness Date -


I GIVE UP: New Shows I'm No Longer Watching -

Studio 60. Too much badly-veiled self-reference.

WHAT AM I MISSING?: New Shows I Haven't Seen -

NBC's Heroes. I'm superheroed-out at the moment.

Feel free to comment with your own report cards.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

AP: Nuggets-Knicks game erupts in wild brawl

Jump to articly by Brian Mahoney, AP Basketball Writer

Having no confidence in Isiah Thomas, I haven't watched the Knicks at all this season. I can only hope this is the lowest point in his time with the team. A housecleaning is long overdue.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Who's The Man? Superman or Clark Kent?

Bill Crider wonders:

Why does Superman need a secret identity? I mean, he's Superman. So what if people know where he lives? And where does he live? I haven't read the comic book in decades, but do we ever see Clark Kent in his lonely little bachelor apartment, listening to Morrissey on his CD player and mooning over Lois? Or does Clark just pop into the janitor's closet after work, change in to his Superman uniform, and fly off to his Fortress of Solitude, where he sits listening to Morrissey and mooning over Lois? Maybe he's too busy fighting crime in the evenings to moon Lois. I mean moon over Lois. But if that's the case, when does he find time to sleep? For that matter, does he need sleep? He's Superman, after all. What about food? Does he get enough fiber? Would he be afraid to eat at Taco Bell? Clearly I'm out of the comics mainstream, but I'm sure those who are in it can answer those questions. But don't bother.

My comment:

I haven't read many of the comics, and there are enough Superman retellings to suit everyone, but I've always preferred the idea that Kal-El was raised as Clark Kent, hard-working son of salt-of-the-earth folk, so he aspires to the same things humans do: a fulfilling job, friends, relationships, family. To attain any of these, he needs to assimilate as well as possible. In other words, Clark Kent is his major identity, who he wants to be, and Superman is who he feels a duty to be. He puts on the tights and cape as a police officer puts on a uniform.

Another reason he needs to work at the Daily Planet is to keep abreast of what's going on in the world and, as Brando's Jor-El put it, discover where his strength and power are needed.

If I could turn back time...

From Barry Freiman's Superman Homepage interview with Michael Thau, who started the ball rolling on the Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut:

Freiman: Did Dick ever discuss with you what he thought he would have done for the ending of "Superman II" after they took the original ending and used it for the first movie?

Thau: No, no, they couldn't remember. I begged them to put their thinking caps on. 'I don't know, I don't know.' [Creative Consultant Tom Mankiewicz - GS] said, 'We would've thought of something.' And I said Tom, now, think of something now that costs like nothing so I can do it. But I couldn't get anything out of them.

So I said to them, in the first film, we see Superman turning the world backwards and then you show around the world what is happening. So this time, why don't we have all this weird stuff starting to happen, then we reveal it's Superman at the end. Then it was my idea with the clouds to give it a bit more dazzle and make it a little different from the first film. I want to tell you, everyone's gut first instinct was 'we don't want to turn back time again.' Me. Dick. Everyone. But when we thought of the alternatives like going with the magic kiss, which we were not going to do... Tom didn't like Clark kissing Lois. He only thought that Superman should kiss Lois. So then you have the Donner ending which was all shot and, again, it may not be what he intended had he gone back and actually finished "Superman II".

Freiman: If Superman reversed time to before the Phantom Zone villains ever broke out, why beat up the guy in the Diner since that original scene where Clark got beat up now never took place after he reversed time? In fact, the guys who run the comic book store I shop at just told me about an hour ago that I had to ask you this question.

Thau: [Laughs]. You gotta ask Tom. That's the way it was scripted. From a cinematic standpoint, it's a very cathartic scene seeing him kind of getting even with the guy. It makes an audience happy and clap and cheer and that kind of stuff. It worked back then and it still works now in that kind of way. I was trying to nail Tom down - 'now look, you always have a pat answer -- give me a pat answer so I can tell all these people who are asking me about it'. 'Nope they're right.' It doesn't make sense if you sit there and really think about it. But there's a lot of things in a lot of films that if you analyze like that they don't make a lot of logical sense.

I'll take continuity over catharsis, thanks.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Best Bones Yet

Brennan identifies a body that's been hung and burned as belonging to an FBI agent who threatened to blow the whistle on a coverup hinging on evidence stolen by Brennan's bank robber father (Ryan O'Neal) and rising to the office of the Deputy Director.

The tension stays high, as Booth is suspended without pay, and Brennan, her brother Russ, and her father are targeted by a sniper, Director David Duchovny and guest star Kathy Reichs give an absolutely gripping episode extra cred.

Fresh Flash Fiction

My latest, posted today at DZ Allen's Muzzle Flash, is a 240-word piece of nastiness, "Drive".

At it again

The fourth novel in Paul Levine's excellent Solomon vs. Lord series is due out June 1, 2007. See my reviews of the first three books.

Glad Tidings

A while back I mentioned "college friends, two of whom are expectant fathers."

One friend, Andrew, and his girlfriend Maureen, welcomed a son, Henry Charles, last Saturday. Congratulations!

Monday, December 11, 2006

ALL SHOOK UP by Mike Harrison

Motorcycle-riding Calgary P.I. Eddie Dancer is hired by two bank robbers to recover each one's share of the take. Dancer discovers the man behind it is an inmate at Barbary Prison who assumed each robber's identity to double-cross the other. The investigation connects to a string of murdered prostitutes and a corrupt warden.

At first glance, this seems a fairly standard P.I. setup. Eddie is wisecracking, good with his fists or a gun. His loyal friend, Danny Many Guns, is even deadlier. Harrison's short chapters read fast. See Robert Parker, Robert Crais, Dennis Lehane, Harlan Coben...

What distinguishes All Shook Up is the amount of physical and mental punishment Dancer takes, so severe near the end of the novel that Eddie passes out—his first-person narration giving way to Danny Many Guns and one or two secondary characters in third-person.

These shifts jarred me. I lost some interest, but consider the alternative: Eddie wakes up in the hospital, and Danny's face comes into focus to explain what he missed. The shifts showed how much work went into the rescue, that Danny wasn't simply a deus ex machina.

I'll take it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

2006 Journal Meme

Continuing a tradition seen on John Schramm's blog last year:

Copy the first sentence of each month's first post.


I usually sleep through midnight on New Year's Eve, but this year I did so to treat a lingering cough.


Just submitted my above-titled sci-fi flash fiction piece to Raven Electrick.


Pete Sampras is returning to the tennis court, signing up for the World Team Tennis Pro League more than three years after his last match.


Issue 2 of Apogee Magazine is now available, featuring three poems from me.


Death in Paradise is the third movie based on Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone.


This familiar Whitney Houston lyric is my way of saying I've started a novel featuring C.J. Stone.


Earth's yellow sun may be the source of Superman's powers, but the same sun has left me dehydrated just back from the Lincoln Square IMAX.


Lee Goldberg relays Variety's report that Heath Ledger has been cast as The Joker in The Dark Knight, a sequel to Batman Begins, set to premiere in May 2008 to compete with Iron Man and the as-yet untitled 22nd Bond film.


He has an uncanny memory for celebrity birthdays.


In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit.


House returned to FOX's schedule last night, introducing David Morse (late of Hack) as a cop who, after a visit to the clinic, takes it upon himself to humble House.


Generating Oscar buzz for "Dreamgirls," Eddie Murphy has decided that the perfect way to cap his new critical comeback is with a fourth "Beverly Hills Cop" movie.

License to Search

As part of my hype leading up to watching Casino Royale, I mentioned

my friend and fellow Bond fan Matt Tedesco, now a Beloit College philosophy prof and author of a paper on the ethical considerations of an actual "license to kill."

Searching Amazon,com this morning, I found Matt's paper, "The Moral Status of the Double-0 Agent: Thinking about the License to Kill," in James Bond and Philosophy edited by James B. South and Jacob M. Held.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006 'Firefly' Goes Online

The Whedonverse is about to meet the Multiverse.

Multiverse Network Inc. has pacted with 20th Century Fox to develop a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) based on "Firefly," Joss Whedon's short-lived, but beloved sci-fi western series.

Loyal Browncoats will need to be patient, though, because the "Firefly" MMOG (some folks prefer MMORPG, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) may not be available until 2008.

Jump to article...


Cherry Bleeds #142

The December 2006 issue of Cherry Bleeds is live, featuring "My Father's Last Breath". Thanks to poetry editor Paul Corman-Roberts.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Six-Word Stories

S.J. Rozan enjoyed Wired's six-word stories by sci-fi writers, so she started a six-word crime story contest.

My entry won today.

"It's research."

Wrote two poems this morning for the upcoming NC-17 issue of The Hiss Quarterly. In the course of my research, I found this. (All words, no pictures.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Mouth Full of Bullets #2

The Winter 2006 issue of B.J. Bourg's e-zine is live, featuring my poem, "Linden's List of Demands".

Mad About Who?

At the final auditions for the role of Jamie Buchman in Mad About You, Helen Hunt beat out Teri Hatcher.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sunny Randall Fantasy Casting

I've been thinking about Sunny Randall, originally created by Robert B. Parker to be portrayed onscreen by Helen Hunt. As far as I know, the movie is dead, but if a movie were to be made, who would you choose in the various roles?

I've come up with:

Heather Locklear as Sunny Randall - a bit older than Sunny's described age, but doesn't look it. Can play both funny and no-nonsense.

Charlie Sheen as Richie Burke - I know I seem to be going the "Spin City" route, but I liked their onscreen chemistry. Plus, Sheen has the good looks and bad boy rep, and his father can play Richie's father.

Samuel L. Jackson as Tony Marcus

Dean Cain as Spike - Not an ethnic match, but his athleticism is a good fit for Spike's karate background.

Going Over Mugshots

Stephen Blackmoore's mid-November Mugshots contest inspired six short works:

My own "The Luck of the Irish"

"Free Wheeling" by Sandra Seamans

"Spinout" by Kari J. Hayes

"Under the Influence" by Anne Frasier

"All Blondes Look Alike" by Lyman Feero

"The Smurf" by Patrick Shawn Bagley

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Saturday with Swierczynski

Made my way to Black Orchid to meet Duane Swierczynski and have my copies of The Wheelman and The Blonde signed. Also along were Jason Pinter, Sarah Weinman, and Dave White,

Good to catch up with store regular Paul Eng and owners Bonnie and Joe. I had to leave after a quickly-passed hour, but was glad to make an appearance. Look for my review of The Wheelman in a week or two.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Just watched Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, and the entry title indicates how superior it is to Richard Lester's cut. If you haven't seen it, go, go, then come back to this review...

Gone are the terrorists who plant a hydrogen bomb in Paris. Instead, the Phantom Zone villains are released by one of the missiles Superman hurls into space in part one.

Gone is Lois's dive off a guardrail at Niagara Falls, replaced by Lois drawing glasses and a hat on a photo of Superman, confronting Clark at the Planet, then jumping out a high window, saying, "You wouldn't let me die, Superman."

Clark bursts out of the office, into the street. Using super-breath, he creates air current suspending Lois. With heat vision he opens an awning to break her fall, and he's back at the window in time to get an incredulous look from her.


Gone is the scene of Clark clumsily putting his hand in a fire, replaced by screen test footage of Lois again confronting Clark in their hotel room and—wait for it—shooting him:

You realize, of course, if you'd been wrong, Clark Kent would have been killed.

With a blank?

Rock my world. I love Margot Kidder.

Gone is the schoolyard fight at the Fortress of Solitude, where Superman's powers dubiously extend to making a kite from his S and creating mirages of himself.

Added is a moving debate between Clark and Jor-El when Clark asks to give up his powers (Marlon Brando was cut from the theatrical version).

Gone is the kiss of forgetfulness, replaced by another time-reversing spin, going back to before the Phantom Zone was shattered, meaning Zod, Ursa. and Non could have returned in sequels.

Superman's manipulation of time has always bugged me. The power to undo what's been done robs dramatic moments of real impact. So Lois never figured out Clark was Superman?

The famous diner fight in which Clark is bloodied takes place after the Phantom Zone villains have arrived. Superman's spin should mean the fight never happened, and yet the final scene of the Donner cut is Clark's return to the diner after "working out."

The owner says, "Take it easy, willya? I just got this place fixed. It cost me a fortune."

Huh. Oh, well.

Special features include a restoration documentary, commentary by Donner and Tom Mankiewicz, and deleted scenes. Great, great, great.

Go Navy

AP: Navy seniors on cusp of service sweep

By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer

PHILADELPHIA - If the Midshipmen (8-3) win the 107th Army-Navy game Saturday would, they will capture the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy outright for the fourth straight year and make the senior class the first in school history to go 8-0 against Army and Air Force.

Jump to article...

Navy 26, Army 14

Zap2it,com: 'Beverly Hills Cop 4' Seems Necessary to Murphy

Generating Oscar buzz for "Dreamgirls," Eddie Murphy has decided that the perfect way to cap his new critical comeback is with a fourth "Beverly Hills Cop" movie.

This could be the most exciting sequel news since Sylvester Stallone decided to do a sixth "Rocky" film and perhaps the most exciting news ever for Judge Reinhold fans.

Jump to article...