Saturday, January 31, 2009


Javier Grillo-Marxuach has revealed Shout! Factory is readying a Middleman DVD set for a summer 2009 release, in time for San Diego Comic Con.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Just back in New York having spent a month in California for a relative's wedding, Lydia Chin is put on the trail of a storied brooch by her P.I. friend, Joel Pilarsky. Their client is Alice Fairchild, a specialist in the recovery of Holocaust antiquities, who claims to work for heirs of the brooch's owner. When Pilarsky is murdered shortly after leaving a message for Lydia, she must pick up the trail with Bill Smith, four months estranged from Lydia after their last case (Winter and Night).

I don't know if Rozan intended her first book with Chin and Smith in seven years to be a "big" book. This is certainly their most complex and sprawling case. There are letters in translation from the viewpoint of the brooch's last known owner, diaries from another viewpoint translated from Chinese, stories recounted from memory—yet Lydia, Bill, and friends are as present as ever, too.

Part of me wanted to believe it had only been four months, but the rest knew that 9/11 intervened and for a time Rozan found herself unable to write about Lydia and Bill. This context makes The Shanghai Moon all the more remarkable and resonant.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Leverage: "The Snow Job"

Nate and the team help an Iraq war veteran evicted from his house by a crooked contractor (Sam Anderson). I wasn't too surprised to learn this was the second episode shot. The chemistry of "The Mile-High Job" clearly hadn't developed yet. Eliot has little to do. Nate hits the bottle, and I would've liked to see a larger event drive him to it. On the other hand, he was drunk at the start of the pilot, so in proper sequence he can be seen as drying out. I wonder if TNT will run a Leverage marathon with the episodes in the order they were shot.

The main point of interest for me was the reunion of Whedonverse characters Anderson (Holland Manners), Christian Kane (Lindsey McDonald), and Danny Strong (Jonathan), though I don't recall Anderson and Kane sharing a scene.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lie to Me More

Crimespree Cinema's Jeremy Lynch has posted my expanded look at FOX's new crime show, Lie to Me.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ten Years of Moderation

Just over ten years ago, I was invited to moderate my first discussion list, a fast-growing Robert B. Parker forum. Two-and-a-half years later, I was disillusioned with Parker fans who jumped at the slightest discouraging word about him, so I left to form a smaller, more probing discussion and it has made all the difference.

There's something to be said for setting the tone from the beginning. DetecToday, Spenser's Sneakers, and CrimeSeen are places to post about the main topic and related topics. No more, no less. I may have scared away those looking for a "community" or "virtual family", but the rest of you are welcome to join. If you're already a member, how'm I doing?

This past July, I began a two-year term as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, founded by Margo Power in 1996, passed to new officers every two years since. In addition to their duties of representation, the officers also moderate the Society's discussion list, Shortmystery. As soberly as I approached the job, I also believed I could simply port over my rule against personal disputes onlist. However, with more than a thousand members, Shortmystery dwarfs my lists. There are hundreds more perspectives on what is personal. Realizing this, about an hour ago I instituted the following:

...I can't police every phrase that may possibly offend a member. I would be injecting my sensibilities where they may not be correct or welcome. I prefer that we each bear personal responsibility for the content of our posts and use our own judgment regarding who to heed or ignore, to what degree, and when to send a message offlist if at all.

If anyone wants my opinion on the tone of posts, feel free to ask offlist.

Burn Notice: "Do No Harm"

When last we saw Michael Westen, unknown forces had rigged the door to his loft with a bomb. Luckily he leaps away from the explosion in time and lands on his car. Shortly after regaining consciousness he stops a man named Kenny from committing suicide. Despite being pulled in by Carla (Tricia Helfer), Michael is determined to help Kenny's son, who needs specialized treatment and drugs. To do that, he needs to bust the black market drug scam for which Kenny fell.

Though it's been four months between episodes, the image of Michael leaping from the fire remained clear in my mind. All the characters pick up seamlessly, and the tension between Michael and Fiona is recharged as good-hearted EMT Campbell tells Fiona that Michael is her true love.

This episode also shows Michael's meaner side as he decides to stop eluding surveillance and confront Carla head-on. As a flagless spy, Michael is a perfect character type to switch tactics and loyalties on the fly.

Lie to Me

I just watched the pilot of FOX's new crime show on Hulu. Tim Roth plays Dr. Cal Lightman, a renowned expert on lying with a tarnished reputation. In the pilot, Lightman and his team (Kelli Williams, Brendan Hines, Monica Raymund) take on the case of a high school student (Jake Thomas) accused to murdering his teacher. Like most niche procedurals, Lie to Me highlights the role of its particular science in crime-solving, but that's fine by me as a psych minor and body language buff (and a terrible liar).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Leverage: "The Mile-High Job"

Going after a corporation whose agricultural division was responsible for the illnesses and deaths of children, Nate, Sophie, Eliot, and Parker board a flight at the last minute looking for evidence of the cover-up. They discover the corporation's CEO intends to take out not only the accountant who found the evidence (Sara Rue) but the entire flight with her.

Eight episodes in, the cast has officially gelled. Each character has shining moments, and together their timing clicks. Kudos to writer-producer Amy Berg.

Co-creator John Rogers has an excellent blog post on how episodes of Leverage are conceived.

Cautious Optimism

I'm hopeful by nature. I've discovered this by going to the depths of doubt and realizing there are three options: really give up, feign pessimism (this seems popular), or turn it around. I also know the best hope and luck come from first seeing the obstacles, then opening my mind to ways around them. I didn't watch much inauguration coverage today, not wanting to stop for ceremony.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Asinine Again

Asinine Poetry editor Richie Narvaez has accepted my poem, "I Ask Ronni to Arm Wrestle" for future publication. The poem is based on one of the more foolhardy things I've done for love.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Winter Thrills

Word's been out a little more than a week, but Kevin Burton Smith made the official announcement of Thrilling Detective's return from hiatus yesterday. A tip of my virtual fedora to this issue's writers: Patrick Shawn Bagley, Stephen D. Rogers, Kieran Shea, and Mark Troy.

Psych: "Lassie Did a Bad, Bad Thing"

During an electrical storm, Det. Lassiter (Tim Omundsen) brings in a key gang figure but is promptly told he must yield to the FBI, who have agreed to put the man in witness protection in exchange for his testimony. Lassiter is overheard saying he should have shot the man when he had the chance. Then, during a brownout, a shot is heard and Lassiter is found standing over the gang member's body, gun in hand. Suspended, Lassiter turns to Shawn and Gus to exonerate him.

Despite its comedic tone, Psych has always depicted police work seriously. This episode showed the depth of Shawn and Lassiter's dynamic, ending with Lassiter saving Shawn's life.

Kudos to writers Kell Cahoon and Tim Meltreger.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Smallville: "Legion"

Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl travel back in time to help Clark destroy Brainiac, who has taken over Chloe Sullivan's body and sent Davis Bloome further down the path to becoming Doomsday. Writer Geoff Johns skillfully juggles hints of Clark and Lana's futures with who they are in the present, the way Smallville used to do so well.

Because Chloe is a character original to the show, I really believed the Legion might kill her to prevent Brianiac from wiping out civilization as we know it. In the end, Clark marshals the three heroes' talents to save Chloe—just as you'd expect of The Man of Tomorrow—reminding the Legionnaires that the good of the many becomes meaningless if they forget one person's value.

I still think the supporting characters give Clark more credit for being good and inspirational than he's actually shown:

The Clark I know would never doubt himself...

Have you been watching Smallville?

NCIS Spinoff?'s Hanh Nguyen reports on a Television Critics Association executive session with CBS President Nina Tassler. Of an NCIS spinoff, Tassler said:

We've seen an outline. We're in great shape and we're just waiting to get the script, but we're going to cast and we're going to shoot. Remember how NCIS was developed? It's still following in that tradition. NCIS was an episode of JAG, and this will be an episode of NCIS.


Ricardo Montalban Dies

Ricardo Montalban died yesterday, aged 88. He played many roles, lent his voice to everything from car commercials to Kim Possible, but I will remember him best as Khan Noonien Singh:

Sir, our shields are dropping.

Raise them.

I can't!

Full impulse power!

No, sir! You have Genesis! You can have whatever...


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Leverage: "The Wedding Job"

Nate and the team are forced to go up against a mob boss (Dan Lauria) when Sophie takes a case from her friend Teresa, whose husband went to jail for a murder committed by said mob boss. Nicole Sullivan plays the mob boss's wife, who is forcing a big wedding on her (step?)daughter.

Though this is the seventh episode of Leverage to air, it was the third one shot. Some dialogue points to this, such as Eliot ruminating about the girl who got away. We met her (Jaime Ray Newman) in "The Two-Horse Job" which aired third.

I wonder what I'd think of Leverage were the episodes airing in the order they were shot. My favorite characters at this point are Parker and Hardison (Beth Riesgraf, Aldis Hodge). They've had the funniest lines and shown the most personality. I also like the attraction that's grown between them.

Sophie (Gina Bellman) is fine, but I didn't like her breaking character and screaming "Nate!" during "The Bank Shot Job". Sure, Nate was shot, but Sophie's slip of the tongue almost bungled the whole thing, and I wouldn't expect it from a master grifter.

Christian Kane's character Eliot Spencer was billed as an enlightened tough guy/kitchen whiz (Spenser?), but we hadn't seen his culinary skill until last night. Because I've seen his character type before, I think he needs the most fleshing out.

Doing the Midseason Shuffle

I'm an early riser, spending many wee hours wrestling with poems, stories, reviews, etc. I spend the afternoon reading if I'm lucky, and when "primetime" rolls around, I'm usually nodding off. This was not a problem until I took down my TV/VCR bracket upgrading to HDTV-Blu-ray. I'm trying to save $10 a month by not using a DVR cable box when I'd eventually get the shows on DVD.

After sleeping past this week's episode of The Big Bang Theory, I took a few hours yesterday setting up Evolution (a great e-mail client and much more) to alert me a few minutes before my favorite shows air.

Here's a look at my no-recording-equipment TV schedule:

MONDAY 8:00PM "The Big Bang Theory"

TUESDAY 8:00PM "NCIS", 10:00PM "Leverage"

THURSDAY 8:00PM "Bones" or "Smallville"

FRIDAY 8:00PM "Batman: The Brave and the Bold"

This is, of course, subject to change as "Dollhouse", "Reaper", and "Castle" premiere.

Monday, January 12, 2009

SHOT GIRL by Karen E. Olson

New Haven police reporter Annie Seymour is at a strip club for a colleague's bachelorette party when gunshots are heard outside. Investigating, Annie finds the club manager, her ex-husband Ralph, dead. At first, the police suspect Annie and her paper pulls her off the police beat as a result. Compelled to look into her ex's affairs to clear her name, she uncovers a conspiracy involving illegal purchases of guns and drugs.

Shot Girl is told in first person from Annie's viewpoint. While a typical first-person narrator may be guarded with other characters but reveal all to readers, Annie is guarded with both. Her own role in events is teased out by others and confessed only when she absolutely must. This makes for more twists than I expected. Olson sustains the novel's pace with Annie's persistent questions as she needs to know the whole story. To Olson's credit, Annie has the same questions readers do at the moment they do, and the nature of the story leads readers to assess events and characters many times over. Satisfying.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gimme Five

I haven't had much to blog about since Thursday. January is typically a slow month for me, and so it was five years ago today I started blogging to break the monotony.

I've revised this entry several times trying to think what I've gotten from blogging. Ultimately I'd say the chance to look at life through another lens, which for me is the start of creative thinking.

Cameron Hughes's Tribute to Westlake

The Rap Sheet's Cameron Hughes offers his own tribute, featuring comments from several in the mystery/crime fiction community.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Smallville Season 9?

Steve Younis's Superman Homepage relays news from Ask Ausiello that Tom Welling is close to signing on for a ninth season of Smallville. I've been calling for Smallville to wrap for years. At the same time, I have kept up more or less. That may change when Bones moves to Thursdays starting next week.

I think Clark could become Superman on Smallville. Smallville is more than the name of a town; it's also Lois's nickname for Clark, even as he regularly dons the cape and tights.

Then again, Catherine Bell signed on for an eleventh season of JAG that never materialized, so we'll see.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Outside the Box

You may notice a few different color schemes here as I try to settle on one for the new year.

UPDATE (01/08/09): Orange You Glad? The page background is actually titanium white. The blog title is gold, and the links are more red than orange, but I like the mix.

Monday, January 05, 2009

At Crimespree Cinema

Jeremy Lynch has posted my DVD review of Bones Season Three and my extended review of Gran Torino.

February Flash Challenge

Here's a flash challenge to complete by February 10th from Patti Abbott:

I got the idea on Women of Mystery's blog where Terrie Moran wrote two lines that I wanted to steal. So now we can all steal. Or get a kick start on a new flash. Or work in tandem. Whatever.

1) Sign up to play by January 13th.

2) Write the first paragraph of a story, say 3-6 lines.) It doesn't have to be about Valentine's Day).

3) Send your paragraph to Patti by January 20th (aa2579 at wayne dot edu). She will stir the pot, sight unseen, and send it back out to another writer by the 23rd.

4) Write a 750 (or so) word story using the paragraph you are given.

5) Post it on your own blog or send it to Aldo (mysdawg at sbcglobal dot net) by February 10th.

6) Patti will let you know whose lines you used when it's over.


Ah, life post-VCR, pre-DVR. I watched a 2:00 AM showing of To Love and Die, starring Shiri Appleby as Hildy Taylor, an independent go-getter who nonetheless has a fear of commitment thanks to never knowing her biological father. When she finally decides to seek him out on her own, she discovers he is a contract killer (Tim Matheson).

Suddenly Hildy finds all her knowledge and aptitudes are suited to the family business. Luckily her father is a principled killer who goes to great length to protect the innocent, and evidently he loved Hildy's mother (Frances Fisher) despite only being with her for six months and having been with several women since.

Hildy is an instantly likable, think-on-her-feet, fast-talker, and Appleby plays a perfect blend of sweet and sexy to a matching soundtrack. USA Network picked up To Love and Die in late June 2007, but it's unclear if any more episodes will air. I'd love to see more, but if that doesn't happen, I'm glad I caught the pilot.

Kudos to writer-producer Sara Nemeth Goodman.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Already thinking of summer

Editor Cindy Rosmus has accepted two of my poems for Yellow Mama: "Road Trip" for the June '09 issue and "Paperback Lover" for the August '09 issue.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Donald E. Westlake (a.k.a. Richard Stark, Tucker Coe, Etc.) Dies at 75

According to the New York Times, prolific author Donald E. Westlake "collapsed, apparently from a heart attack, as he headed out to New Year’s Eve dinner while on vacation in San Tancho, Mexico, said his wife, Abigail Westlake."

I feel as if I've only scratched the surface of Westlake's body of work. We never met, but despite the number and breadth of his stories, I feel I got to know him in every one I read—a tribute to his talent for and dedication to narrative voice.

Everything Cold is New Again

Here I am, actually awake to greet the new year. I had attended a 6PM Mass, then headed for a responsible family party at the Quiznos in Hackensack, New Jersey, and got home at 11:30. A fruitful new year to all.