Friday, July 27, 2007

Crimespree #19

My copy just arrived, featuring my DVD review of NCIS Season 3. Thanks again to Crimespree Entertainment Editor Jeremy Lynch.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Give my regards to Charles St.

I would like to have rebounded from fever in time to attend tonight's Bronx Noir launch party at Partners & Crime, but to paraphrase Sinatra, "I can't make it there." Instead, I'll spend the night resting and hydrating. Hope a fun time is had by all.


Probably brought on by the hours monitoring our cable situation and a week full of socializing, I spent yesterday with a sore throat, flared joints, and the sweats. I treated myself to goodly amounts of apple juice, pineapple juice, V8, and yogurt, and the fever has passed. Meanwhile, thanks to the miracle of backdating, I've blogged a review of "Trouble is My Business" as a tribute on the 119th anniversary of Raymond Chandler's birth.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Say it ain't so, Bonnie and Joe.

I'm bummed to learn of Black Orchid Bookshop's upcoming closing. In a handful of visits, it became one of my favorite NYC hangouts. I'll miss visiting with Bonnie and Joe, Russell Atwood, Chris Aldrich, Margery Flax, and Paul Eng. I wish them all the best in future endeavors and hope to see them around that big Somewhere Out There.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I Needed That.

Another thunderstorm knocked out cable TV and Net access across Long Island Wednesday. Ours apparently came back up to speed sometime today, while extended family and I were in New Jersey to meet a cousin's girlfriend. Cablevision works in mysterious ways.

All things considered, I handled the three-day outage quite well, armed with Season One of Psych on DVD and two books of poems by Charles Simic. Also, I had been feeling the need for a break from the Internet. It's so easy to take for granted.

Anyway, glad to be back.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

More on Mislabeling

This morning Crimespree publisher Jon Jordan posted his thoughts about the mislabeling of books, echoing my recent thoughts on noir in his closing:

I guess I think we need to back off the over labeling of books. Why not let the reader decide what it is? I understand the marketing departments dilema. They feel the need to label it so us moron book buyers know what it is. But readers read, they can look at the jacket copy. Or how about "A novel of suspense"? That covers a lot of ground.

Is there an answer for this?

I commented:

...I don't think there is a solution because we'd have to throw out existing labels and introduce a new set.

That said, I like the broad terms "character-driven" and "plot-driven." Most single-protag series would be termed the former, and most thrillers the latter.

The difference between a detective novel (in the broad sense including police) and a caper novel is another example of character-driven versus plot-driven.

We can also indicate which characters a book focuses on if novels about thieves, hitmen, and other criminals are called "crime" and police books are called "police procedural."

To me, the term "thriller" doesn't indicate suspense. Suspense is Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Hitchcock. What we call thrillers today might be more appropriately labeled "Global Intrigue," including political, military, espionage, and adventure novels.

Monday, July 16, 2007

"Got my 45 on so I can rock on."

Here we are, smackdab in midsummer. Sheryl Crow's Soak Up the Sun, which I consider her best, raucously resurgent album (one of the few I can enjoy from start to finish), is in my CD player. A week ago, my cousin Alan and his wife Lydia welcomed their first child, Elizabeth. Also a week ago, this year's World Series of Pop Culture started and, shockingly, last year's champs, El Chupacabra, have been eliminated by Fragilay.

I'd like to give this a try with my friends John and Deshant (whom you may have seen on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?). What would we call ourselves?

Drop The Puck?

The Soundry Guys?

Where's it from, South Africa? (From what movie?)

"We didn't start the Riot..."

My poems, "Translation" and "The Magician's Assistant" have posted to Word Riot. Thanks again to Poetry Editor Charles P. Ries.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Man Who Would Be Bond

As seen on Euro Crime. after almost two years of speculation, Ian Fleming's family has announced British author Sebastian Faulks as the next Bond author. Faulks's novel, Devil May Care, will be published May 28, 2008, the centennial of Fleming's birth.

According to

[Faulks] would say little about his 007, other than it is set in 1967, the year after Fleming's final Bond book - a collection of short stories called Octopussy and the Living Daylights - was published posthumously.

Faulks said: "In a sense it is the return of the gunfighter for one last heroic mission.

"He has been through a lot of bad things. He is slightly more vulnerable than any previous Bond but at the same time he is both gallant and highly sexed if you like."

It sounds like this will be a standalone, which strikes me as a good way to go.

Telegraph also compares Faulks' and Fleming's vital stats.

Jesse Stone DVD Review

Crimespree Cinema's Jeremy Lynch has posted my review of the latest Jesse Stone movies on DVD: Night Passage and Death in Paradise. Thanks again, Jeremy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Catching Up with Shannen Doherty

I like post-90210 Shannen Doherty. reports on two of her upcoming roles,

GONE, BABY, GONE Movie Trailer

Watch it on YouTube.

As someone who thought Kenzie always got in over his head, I approve of Casey Affleck as Pat. Apparently Lehane likes the movie as well.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Brutal Classic

That's how I describe today's Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Only Nadal can make Federer hit the extra shot. The first two sets were as tight as it gets, but Federer's tiebreak wins allowed him to absorb a flat fourth. Even then, a knee injury to Nadal was the difference. Federer carves a place in history tying Bjorn Borg's record five straight Wimbledon titles.

Series or One-off?

On my recent P.I. fiction list DetecToday, we're discussing what makes a series versus what makes a standalone, and it's got me thinking about TV series versus movies.

With today's increasing continuity, series have the benefit of following characters in greater depth over a longer span of time. However, given the structure of a TV season and the goal to keep a series going for several seasons, there's a great chance of series going too long, of the characters' lives taking twists that alienate as many viewers as they draw. The longer a series runs the more likely original plans will be thrown out, leaving us to wonder, "When will the series end? When it does, will I care?"

There's something to be said for telling a complete, compelling story in a finite amount of time. I don't like to hear directors or writers say, "The first movie laid the groundwork. In the sequels I'll really wow you,"

What's your preference, a long-running series or one memorable movie?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Rain, rain, go away

Today is the supposedly lucky 7/7/07, and I hope the Yankees' Oldtimers' Game, rained out the past two seasons, will be played. This year the game will celebrate the championship-winning 1977 Yankees.

UPDATE: The oldtimers' game was played, but then the current Yankees lost 2-1 to the Angels in an unlucky 13 innings.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Catherynne Valente wins 2007 Million Writers Award

As announced by storySouth editor Jason Sanford:

The winner of the 2007 Million Writers Award for best online short story is "Urchins, While Swimming" by Catherynne M. Valente, published in Clarkesword Magazine. Valente's story received 31% of the public vote. The runner-ups were "All the Way to Grangeville" by A. Ray Norsworthy (Eclectica Magazine) and "The Infinite Monkey Theorem" by Marshall Moore (Word Riot).

For more information, including links to the top stories, go to

This year's award was sponsored by the Edit Red Writing Community (formerly known as Spoiled Ink). As a result of this sponsorship, the award featured a $300 prize for the overall winner and $50 memberships to Edit Red for the authors of the top ten stories of the year.

The 2008 MWA will open to nominations shortly after the start of the new year. Until then, keep an eye out for great online fiction to nominate.

Thanks again for your support.

Congratulations, Catherynne.

New vs. Noir in a Nutshell

Below is a roundup of my observations on the Neo-Noir debate sparked by Kevin Burton Smith's post to The Rap Sheet. First, my comment on Kevin's post:

"...I think noir as a label has been overused. My rough understanding of the term noir is that it involves a bleak atmosphere populated by tragically flawed characters. Now look at Akashic's Noir anthology series (which I've enjoyed on the whole). I wouldn't describe all the stories as noir, particularly not Paul Levine's "Solomon and Lord Drop Anchor" in Miami Noir. I'm a big fan of Levine's work and he did 'dark' well for the Solomon vs. Lord book Kill All The Lawyers, but the aforementioned story wasn't very dark—not as dark as Christine Kling's Miami Noir story, in which a girl takes revenge after being repeatedly raped by her father."

My responses to Dave White's "The Noir Thing" topic posted to Crimespace:

"The argument is that new books are being labeled noir when they don't have much connection to noir at all—thematically, stylistically, etc. To look at this from a different perspective, if a novel doesn't feature a P.I., should it be called a P.I. novel? It's that sort of erosion people don't want. Authors don't want their books misrepresented, and readers don't want their genre concepts obliterated. It's not so much an argument against the new as it is an argument against speciously connecting the new to the established."

"...[T]he critical reaction is due in part to established labels being applied to the new stuff. If the new stuff didn't have the established label, people wouldn't be as quick to compare the two."

"...To my mind it is a categorization issue. It's about the speed with which new writers are compared to established ones—similar to Kobe Bryant being called the next Michael Jordan or LeBron James being called the next Kobe. If society really believes individuals should be judged on their own merits, if we really believe the new are new, we wouldn't judge them in terms of their predecessors. No one would make the case that So-and-so is even better than a predecessor. We would recognize the new as a genuine departure from what came before.

The problems are a lot of today's fiction isn't a genuine departure from the past and what does depart is often unfairly given an established label."

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Forth of July [sic]

Just back from a lunch of barbecue ribs at Alan's house, where we watched Joey Chestnut break the world record for hot dog-eating with 66 in 12 minutes, beating Kobayashi's 63 at the annual Coney Island competition. Then we watched a rerun of the National Spelling Bee, which I thought relied too heavily on the announcer's ability to enunciate. How do I have a chance of spelling "pelorus" if I hear "halorice"?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

THE CLEANER by Brett Battles

On sale June 26, this debut novel of new world espionage follows professional "cleaner" Jonathan Quinn, hired by secret organization "The Office" to dispose of a body after a fire.

When Quinn arrives on scene, evidence indicates murder, apparently a calling card left for The Office. Suddenly not only members of The Office, but Quinn himself become targets for assassination. Forced to go to ground with his apprentice in tow, Quinn begins to piece together evidence, following it from Los Angeles, to Vietnam, to Berlin—all well evoked by Battles.

Rich as the location details are, the pace never dallies, raising the stakes to global proportions. In short, everything a thriller fan could want.

I may finally watch.

According to, Dana Delany and Nathan Fillion are in talks to join the cast of Desperate Housewives as a woman and her younger husband who move to Wisteria Lane.

The picture says it all

Mysterical-E artist Gin E. L. Fenton created the above composite to accompany my story "Lonely Too Long". Many thanks, Gin.

Monday, July 02, 2007

With apologies to Paul Simon...

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
This year's hapless Yankees could use you.

Six-word ad-venture

S.J. Rozan posted another of six-word stories Saturday, this one inspired by typographical errors. Thanks again, S.J.