Monday, December 31, 2007

Gonna need a bigger brush

The latest issue of Gordon Purkis's Mastodon Dentist has gone live, featuring my poem "Phoebe".

Naughtiness in the New Year

My poems "The Box", "Another Birthday," and "The Gum-Chewing Girl of My Dreams" have been accepted for The Hiss Quarterly's NC-17 "Naughty Bits" issue, going live in February.

Fast away the old year passes

Longtime readers of this blog know my only tradition on New Year's Eve is to sleep. I don't see the point of staying up to ring in the new year only to spend the rest of New Year's Day groggy. Our family party takes place tomorrow.

I do have a tradition the week between Christmas and New Year's of watching seasons of TV shows. One year it was tapes of NCIS. This year it was DVDs of Firefly and Magnum P.I..

Here are some things I'm looking forward to for 2008:


15: The Rockford Files Season 5 on DVD
29: JAG Season 5 on DVD


12: Gone, Baby, Gone on DVD
26: Justice League The New Frontier on DVD


04: Magnum P.I. Season 8 on DVD


9-12: Bouchercon 2008 - Charmed to Death. My first mystery con. Look out, world.

And I'd like the WGA strike to end anytime in 2008. A healthy and productive new year to all.

2007 Best of Me Awards

Which of my online works first published in 2007 did you like best? Comment with one choice in each category. There may be one or two last-minute entries to come:


"Call Me Cupid"

"Sweet Child O' Mine"

"Confession of a Spenser Fan"


"Cop Talk"

"Should have used a remote detonator, probably"



"The right marketing plan is everything"

"Rocky Road"

"Shotgun Divorce"

"Have You Seen Savannah Frye?"

"It's getting to be that time of year"


"Christmas Snapshot"

"Trash Day - Two Falls, Texas"

"More Than Anything"



"When Jamie Phoned"

"Surprise Party"

"Prince Chow Mein"



"How to Tell New Teachers"

"Witness Protection"

"Fourth Wall"


"The Magician's Assistant"

"I Tell a Joke About Susan"

"A thief tried to break-and-enter..."

"A Single Bound"


"Back on Robin Lane"

"A Poet Dreams"


Saturday, December 29, 2007

WGA Reaches Contract with Worldwide Pants

WGA leaders yesterday announced reaching an agreement with David Letterman's Worldwide Pants production company, allowing writers to go back to work on The Late Show and The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson. I hope other individual companies follow this lead until the AMPTP is leveraged into making an industry-wide deal.

Thrilling Detective Holiday Style

The holiday issue of Thrilling Detective went live yesterday, with stories by Dick Stodghill, R. Narvaez, and Paul Sundeson, as well as an excerpt from Max Allan Collins's Deadly Beloved. Also, editor Kevin Burton Smith brings back the P.I. Poll for the 2007 Cheap Thrill Awards. See my responses below:

For Books First Published in 2007

Big City, Bad Blood by Sean Chercover

For Books You Read in 2007, Regardless of When They Were First Published

First Drop by Zoe Sharp

The P.I. Book That Grabbed You Hardest in 2007
(I wasn't sure what this meant, but... - Gerald)

The Wrong Kind of Blood by Declan Hughes

The Best New P.I. in 2007, in Any Medium

Michael Westen, TV's Burn Notice

The Best P.I.s of the Nineties... and Beyond

If Easy Rawlins counts, my vote goes to him.

For Films/Shows First Released in 2007

Burn Notice

The Worst P.I. Film/TV Shows Released in 2007

Pushing Daisies (It has a P.I. in it. I'm not sure it's a P.I. show, but if they're calling it one, it's a bad one.)

P.I. TV Shows and Movies That SHOULD Be on DVD

Vengeance Unlimited, Marlowe (James Garner), Andy Barker P.I. (Why not?)

Best PI Movie or TV Show Released on DVD in 2007

Vincent Series 1

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

Shred of Evidence

Best One-Liner in P.I. Fiction (read or seen) of 2007

"Go. Sleep badly. Any questions, hesitate to call." --Gay Perry (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)

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

The fact that the P.I. has lasted seven or eight decades already. I don't think people will ever tire of seeing the detached outsider come in and resolve situations for better or worse.

Biggest Disappointment

Higher-priced, less satisfying reads.

The Darkest P.I. Novel This Year

Songs of Innocence by Richard Aleas

How should we mark our 10th anniversary?
(Coming this April?)

How about a "Where are They Now?" essay covering some of the P.I. writers who've dropped below radar since 1998?

On the fourth day of Christmas...

I got together with my friends the Tedescos (Matt, his wife Kim, their daughters Sophie and Ava) and the Ricottas (John, his wife Kelly, their daughters Emma and Julie) for a belated Christmas party featuring pizza from Angelo's of Carle Place, music by Los Straitjackets, and much cuteness.

I gave John an Insult-a-Day 2008 Desk Calendar, filled with humorous celebrity one-liners. I gave Matt The Bourne Ultimatum on DVD.

The Ricottas gave me a Borders gift card that I'll use online for maximum value. Matt gave me a copy of James Bond and Philosophy: Questions Are Forever, featuring his essay "The Moral Status of the Double-0 Agent: Thinking about the License to Kill". I forgot to have him sign it, but I'll rectify that in a few days when we meet for a movie.

For dessert, I tried Cheese Fudge, highly recommended by Beloit prof Tedesco and almost unrecognizable as cheese by my taste buds. Eureka!

Friday, December 28, 2007

SilverFin by Charlie Higson

Two years after the climbing accident that killed his parents, 13-year-old James Bond begins his schooling at Eton. The first half of Higson's novel is contemplative, getting into the thought processes and emotions of a boy who would later learn to block most of them out.

In the second half of the book, while on the train to Scotland to visit his aunt and uncle, James befriends an Irish boy named Red Kelly, and the two of them look into the disappearance of Red's cousin near Loch Silverfin, which is owned by Randolph Hellebore, American arms dealer and father of James's nemesis at Eton.

A well-executed foray into Bond's past, colored with authentic 1930s history.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Best of 2007

Best Read (Novel) of 2007:

It's Superman! by Tom De Haven - A retelling of Superman's origins set in a realistic 1930s America.

The Follower by Jason Starr - Starr looks at single life in New York City, skewed only slightly to the noir.

Big City, Bad Blood by Sean Chercover - With Ray Dudgeon, Chercover proves neither the P.I. nor the genre has to resort to cliché.

Best Read (Short Story) of 2007:

"Everybody Loves Somebody" by Sandra Scoppettone - A bored teenager runs away from home, into the arms of several wrong men. Finely executed female noir.

"The Recipe" by Carolina Garcia-Aguilera - A darkly humorous tale of how far a man will go for peace and quiet.

"No One" by Marcus Sakey - The ominous confession of a depressed college student, whose tone shifts from regret to anger.

Best Movie Seen in 2007:

Gone, Baby, Gone - One of the decade's best detective films. It goes on a bit long, but the characterizations are right on.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - Great dialogue, great twists, star turns by Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan. I almost wish for a sequel.

Best Writing Experience of 2007:

"Smithee Claus" - A down-on-his luck, striking WGA writer hopes to make a fresh start just before Christmas. Will he succeed? Hopefully coming to an ezine near you.

"Confession of a Spenser Fan" - Even as I recovered from dental surgery, this story was a pleasure to write.

"Faith" - I always enjoy working in the voice of pilot-for-hire C.J. Stone, and BURST paid $10.

Every year working as a freelancer, I try to be more productive, have fewer lulls. I'm looking to roll right into 2008.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

More on tri-fold wallets

With my current bi-fold wallet in some disrepair, I tried moving everything over to my just-received tri-fold wallet. Even half-full with my cash and cards, the wallet splays invitingly when placed on a table. I'm not in the habit of leaving my wallet out in public, but better safe than sorry.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Whadja get?

Just back from the family Christmas party in Old Bridge, NJ with only one present of clothing that may not fit me. As for the rest, I'm quite pleased:

A tri-fold wallet
A pair of pajama bottoms with Yankee logo
A shirt
A sweater
A $100 Amazon gift certificate
1st To Die by James Patterson (I am curious.)

And from a lottery scratch-off grab bag, I pulled a Set For Life ticket redeemable for $100.

Free is good.

A Fresh Mouth Full

My poem "Mask" appears in the second print issue of Mouth Full of Bullets. My thanks to editor BJ Bourg.

Monday, December 24, 2007

O Christmas Trivia

I'll be celebrating Christmas tomorrow at my aunt's house in central New Jersey, so in the blogosphere I'm celebrating today with a Nasty. Brutish. Short. review of "Sanity Clause" by Steve Brewer.

And some trivia:

1. Which Christmas song puts me in a good mood any time of year?

A) Jingle Bells
B) The Christmas Song
C) Sleigh Ride
D) Let It Snow

2, Which reindeer names translate to "Thunder" and "Lightning"?

Peace and good will to all.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Old and the New

One of the first poems I shopped around and two recent pieces have been published at ken*again. I've added them to the annual Best of Me nominees. Enjoy.

2nd Annual Graham Powell Appreciation Day

This is the day chosen by crime fiction bloggers everywhere to thank Graham Powell, creator of the ever-growing feed-reading site CrimeSpot. This year you can show your appreciation in this season of giving with a donation to the United Way. Visit CrimeSpot for details.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tuna Joins the Fish

Bill (nee Duane Charles) "The Big Tuna" Parcells reportedly has agreed on a 4-year contract to become head of football operations for the Miami Dolphins. I couldn't resist posting the nickname-heavy entry title, even though I know dolphins are mammals.

My reaction: Eh. Parcells is a better coach than he is an exec.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

AP: Fans give Knicks coach giant pink slip

By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - New York Knicks fans angry over the team's losing streak rallied outside Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, holding aloft a giant pink slip and calling on management to fire coach Isiah Thomas.

Chanting "Fire Isiah! He's got to go! Good-bye!" two dozen irate fans signed the 8-by-4-foot pink placard urging Garden chief executive James Dolan to dump the coach, whose team is 7-17 going into Wednesday night's game with Cleveland.

I'm all for canning Isiah, but will James Dolan listen?

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

My Favorite Bullet returns next month, and editor David Bates has accepted my poem "Impression" for the comeback issue.

New Mysterical-E

Editor Joe DeMarco has just posted the Winter 2007-08 issue of Mysterical-E, featuring my latest TV/flim column, "The Fall Crop of Crime Shows". I revised the column when the WGA went on strike and had hoped to revise it again with news the strike had ended. Alas. Anyway, enjoy, and thanks, Joe.

My Mysterical-Eye columns now have their own heading on the left sidebar. Scroll down to check it out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winter, James Winter.

Author, comedian, and IT professional James R. Winter recently switched from Typepad to Wordpress, setting up a new blog called Edged in Blue. It's some song title, but it sounds smurfy to me. Friends of Jim, update your links.

It's a Raymond Chandler Christmas

I just received a custom Christmas card from Sean Chercover with the following Chandler quote on the front:

"The daily papers were beginning to scream about how terrible it would be if you didn't get your Christmas shopping done early. It would be terrible anyway; it always is."

Thanks, Sean.

Monday, December 17, 2007

References Upon Request

In my early days on the Web, I wanted nothing more than to post a stacked bio or resumé. Since the proliferation of blogs, bios have come to seem...tame. However, my recent Yahoo! Groups revamp freed up the index page of my GeoCities site (where I store the graphics and FAQs for my Yahoo! Groups), so I've posted a narrative of my educational and professional highlights called So Far, So Good.

Morning Thoughts

Most of the timestamps on my posts are authentic. I am up just after four A.M. listening for the muse, or web-surfing, whatever you want to call it.

Yesterday, Dave White blogged:

[H]ow do you get better as a writer? Does it happen consciously? Or is it more subconscious? Do you not know you're getting better as you go along?

I consciously set out to make THE EVIL THAT MEN DO different from [WHEN ONE MAN DIES]. It tells a story that is wider in scope, with more characters, more action, and more motivation. I think it's a good book. I don't know if it's better than WOMD. I don't know if I accomplished what I set out to do.

What makes a writer better? Is it the way you tell a story, a continued improvement on style? Better, deeper plots? Better deeper characters? Something original each time out?


How do you do it???

This may be one of the topics Dave raises for discussion for which he already knows the answer, but I commented anyway:

Part of it is subconscious. There comes a point with every project when we have to let it go and move on to the next one. Ideally, in the time between submitting work and hearing back about it/seeing it published, we continue interacting with people and having insights, and almost inevitably when we see the old project, it looks different to us. By then, we've carried our new experiences into new projects.

As far as improving in specific areas (plotting, pacing, character, etc.), I think we have to be self-policing. An editor might tell us what we need to improve on, but we have to believe it ourselves before we can work on it. It seems to me such specific improvements only hold for genre fiction, where one book is very generally like the rest in the category and one series book is very generally like the next. If I were writing two vastly different books, they'd need different approaches to plot, pacing, character etc. altogether.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

He believes he can fly.

Pardon the riff on R. Kelly, but it's apropos of my poem published in Yellow Mama. My thanks to editor Cindy Rosmus.

Early Christmas Presents

Using part of a check from my aunt in California and a $5 Family Video coupon, I bought myself:

Magnum, P.I. The Complete Seventh Season - I wasn't the biggest Magnum fan, but this was my favorite season, from the two-part premiere guest-starring Dana Delany, to a dream episode with Magnum as a 1940s San Francisco shamus, to the eerie finale, "Limbo."

Chinatown Special Edition - Remastered picture and a four-part documentary with Robert Towne, Roman Polanski, and Jack.

Justice League: The New Frontier Special Edition - This direct-to-DVD animated feature won't be out 'til February, but I'm locking it up now.

Behind the Curtain

I was mistaken about the scheduling this week and had the chance to go to Reconciliation yesterday. Growing up, I thought absolution was like a magic spell. For an hour or so afterward, I'd feel great and optimistic about the world. Then I'd get into that first argument, feel that flash of anger, and everything would be ruined.

Today I see the sacrament as a commitment. I know myself well enough to know that my flaws aren't going away in a wave of the hand. It's up to me to change course away from what leads to conflict with others and within myself. Not that I've come to believe God plays a lesser role in effecting changes. Reconciliation is about recognizing my good nature as created by God, and following that nature to do good.

I won't always succeed, but, "What matter wounds? For each time he falls, he shall rise again, and woe to the wicked."

(From what musical?)

THE BLONDE by Duane Swierczynski

As a paperback-hoarder, I'm a year or so behind the rest of the crime fiction world. Having enjoyed the fast-paced revenge tale that was The Wheelman, I knew I could expect a similar pace from The Blonde. Beyond that, I knew nothing. This is just the position The Blonde's protagonist, Jack Eisley is in when a strange blonde woman tells him she's poisoned his drink. This is the last thing Jack needs hours before meeting with his wife's divorce lawyer.

I can best describe the novel as an absurdist nightmare race against time as readers, along with Jack, try to piece together the truth of the blonde's story. Increasingly convinced it was the truth, Jack hangs on for dear life as crime fiction collides with speculative fiction.

It's almost as if the book started as a joke over drinks, but one told in a voice so familiar and rye that I gladly kept reading.

The Virtual Gerald So

Now on the left sidebar is my likeness, created with Yahoo! Avatars, to reflect the time of year, the weather, or where I'd rather be.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hofstra Flashback

I just heard from one of my favorite teachers at Hofstra, Dan Varisco, with whom I studied Religion in Crosscultural Perspective and Women and Men in Anthropological Perspective. Specializing in the Middle East, Dan and a dozen other scholars blog at Tabsir.


Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Jason Giambi, David Justice, Chuck Knoblauch, Gary Sheffield, Mike Stanton, Ron Villone, Randy Velarde, Kevin Brown... These are just a few of the current and former Yankees named in The Mitchell Report.

As far as I'm concerned, anyone who played in the so-called Steroids Era is under suspicion. What should be done about it? Nothing. History remembers any era. No need for asterisks. I will never again fully believe any player is drug-free. Any victories or accomplishments will be hollow. This is the true impact of performance-enhancers on sports.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Crimespree #21

Full of the usual good stuff. Enjoy the print versions of my tribute to Lois Maxwell and my review of Bones Season Two. My thanks as always to Jeremy Lynch and the Jordans.

I'll get you, my pretty, and your P.O.V., too.

I started The Lions of Lucerne by Brad Thor this morning. By all indications, Thor has the life experience and writing experience (creative writing degree from USC) to pen a good thriller. I have to admit, thirty pages in, the stakes were already satisfyingly high, but the same thirty pages in, Thor switched viewpoints multiple times within single scenes. Thriller or no, it left me dizzy. Not to say I won't butt my way through as I have books by Tom Clancy, Nelson DeMille, and Vince Flynn. With my brain coasting toward the end of the year, I figure popcorn fiction is the way to go.

I will say Thor has the coolest author web site.

FIRST DROP by Zoe Sharp

British soldier-turned-bodyguard Charlie Fox is assigned to protect Trey Pelzner, the bratty teenage son of an American computer programmer. From the first chapter, Charlie and Trey are dodging bullets. When she tries to report the attack, Charlie finds the entire protection detail has been compromised. Both Trey's father and Charlie's boss/lover have disappeared, and Charlie stands accused of kidnapping Trey.

Among many highlights, First Drop offers an authentic female, very British first-person perspective on U.S. culture. Charlie could go toe-to-toe with Jack Reacher, but she's also believably vulnerable.

Some of the dialogue was off (several American characters saying things like, "So that means we're in the clear, yeah?", "You weren't expecting that, yeah?")

and some was flat:

"Take it easy, honey."
"I am not your 'honey.'"

But overall a very compelling read, and a series I'll be watching.

Don't try this at home.

James O. Born combines his desires to be a book critic and filmmaker to bring us Literature and Lead (Where Bullets Meet Books).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy Birthday, Graham Powell

I salute the creator of the indispensable on his birthday.

(I had confused this with Graham Powell Appreciation Day, December 22, but a movable feast is a good feast, I say.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What's up with that?

FOX's pitting one of my favorite shows, Bones, against my slightly more favorite show, NCIS, is one thing. But when NCIS finally runs a couple of repeats in a row, why is FOX running episodes from previous seasons of Bones readily available on DVD?

CBS is doing the same with NCIS for those who slightly prefer Bones. How's a man with one VCR to keep up with the current season?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Where do you get your ideas?

I've submitted a story to John Rickards's Degeneration Twenty based on my six-word story of stealing a car to deliver presents.

It's getting to be that time of year

S.J. Rozan posted a seasonal six-word story of mine yesterday. Thanks, S.J.

Scott Baio is...Just 46 Now.

From WENN:

'Happy Days' Star Baio Weds

Former Happy Days star Scott Baio has married his longtime girlfriend Renee Sloan in a ceremony in Los Angeles on Saturday. The small religious gathering took place on the rooftop of a luxury high-rise building, with guests including Sloan's 18-year-old daughter Kalyn - from a previous relationship - and the couple's newborn baby girl, who was delivered last month. The 46-year-old actor has been dating model-turned-actress Sloan, 45, since 2005 and agreed to have the wedding filmed for the second season of his reality TV show - Scott Baio Is 45... And Single - which premieres in the U.S. next month.

2007 Journal Meme

Once again, this meme from John Schramm: Copy and paste the first sentence from the first entry of each month this year.


I've spent most of my New Year's Eves at home, usually asleep when the ball drops.


More work inspired by my unluck at love: Asinine Poetry Journal editor Richie Narvaez has accepted "When Jamie Phoned", inspired in part by Jamie Powell, for the Valentine's posting.


Here's looking at you, K.I.T.T.


On April 1, 1998, Kevin Burton Smith brought The Thrilling Detective Web Site online.


Mystery Ink Online's David J. Montgomery announces this year's Gumshoe Awards.


One of my personal favorite poems, "Realizing the wet dream is about you," is back online for your perusal.


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


Another thunderstorm, another three-day TV and Net outage.


The word that most grates on my English-teacher ears is "Duh."


My friend John and I trekked to Brooklyn to watch the last regular season Yankee game and Superman Doomsday with our friend Deshant and his girlfriend Tracy.


Actor Daniel Craig has signed a $60 million deal to star in the next four James Bond films.


"Actors"—a poem I'd shopped in various forms for four year—has been accepted along with two recent poems, "Back on Robin Lane" and "A Poet Dreams," for ken*again's Winter 2007/2008 issue.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

"My soul is prepared. How's yours?"

Indy fans will recognize the entry title as a line from Kazim, one of the guards of the Holy Grail, during a memorable boat chase ("I said, 'Go around!'"). One of my family's traditions is to go to Reconciliation during Advent. It helps me embrace the Christmas season's spirit of giving. Last year, I went the first week of Advent, after taking the train home from a book signing.

This year, I tried to go yesterday, and a priest wasn't available. Also the church was being used for Christmas pageant rehearsal. In short, I may not get to go until three days before Christmas. This reminds me of grad school, when my thesis advisor often had to cancel our meetings, forcing me to make revisions on my own. I used those cancellations to hone my writing instincts, and I'll use this one to hone my conscience.

Friday, December 07, 2007

AntiMuse Closing to Fiction and Poetry

Noticing AntiMuse recently went offline, I did a web search and found editor Michael Haislip's MySpace page. In an October 25 blog entry, he writes of redesigning AntiMuse:

I'm dumping fiction and poetry completely. This means I'll be alienating my original audience of writers and poets, but that's not really the audience I want for the site. Fiction and poetry are great, but very few people actually read them, just like very few people who call themselves "writers" actually write. Creative writing doesn't generate page views and doesn't generate comments. I refuse to publish something that no one reads out of some sense of loyalty to art.

I'm sorry to hear this.

Gerald Update

Fear not. I am in good health, just busy this week finishing this month's DetecToday featured novel, Deader Than Disco, retooling my Yahoo! Groups, and cheering my brother to the end of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (last night). Truly the best game I've seen in years.

WGA Strike Update

WGA leaders Patric M. Verrone and Michael Winship have pledged to stay at the table day and night until a resolution is reached, and have challenged the AMPTP to do the same.

UPDATE: As has been expected for some time apparently, the AMPTP has broken off talks.

Monday, December 03, 2007


The Rap Sheet's J. Kingston Pierce tipped me off to today's release of the cover art for Sebastian Faulks's upcoming James Bond novel:

Who started this thing with silhouetted women and Bond?

Most intriguing to me, Faulks will be "writing as Ian Fleming," something previous Bond authors tried to do without saying so.

New DetecToday Logo

Every two years or so, I like to take stock of the graphics and banners for my discussion lists and think how to keep them fresh. I'd been thinking of this especially since switching from Windows to Ubuntu Linux last year, and being unable to use Adobe Photoshop to tweak said graphics.

DetecToday Logo (2005-2007)

The graphics for DetecToday in particular need to stay in touch with the times, just as modern fictional PIs do. The PDA graphic, a feature of the logo the past four years, had begun to strike me as old, so this morning I went looking for the next step up in technology.

I give you:

DetecToday on a smartphone.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Pain a sort of human pinball game my brother downloaded for the Playstation 3. It involves a choice of three characters (a generic daredevil, a Santa, and a scantily clad Santa's helper) using a giant slingshot to launch themselves into a cityscape fraught with objects, vehicles, and explosives to collide with, fall from, and get creamed by. Good fun.

Snow Time Like the Present

I was certain I'd see snow on the ground yesterday morning. I was only off by a day. This is the pleasant type of snow that looks like frosting on a Mini-Wheat, and most features of the land are still visible. Time to put on 'Tis The Season For Los Straitjackets.

ken*again Again

"Actors"—a poem I'd shopped in various forms for four year—has been accepted along with two recent poems, "Back on Robin Lane" and "A Poet Dreams," for ken*again's Winter 2007/2008 issue. My thanks again to editor John Delin.