Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hail and Farewell

Today is my last day as president of The Short Mystery Fiction Society, a discussion list more than a thousand members strong, with twelve years of history when I took office.

I went in knowing what a task it would be to facilitate discussion and move the discourse forward. A handful of members understandably wondered how I planned to do this. I tried to explain, but ultimately I would do it by carrying out the office to the best of my ability.

Leading up to the elections earlier this month, a handful of members asked me to run again. I declined, in part because I believe the true test of how I held office will take place when I leave.

Monday, June 28, 2010

THE APPRENTICE by Tess Gerritsen

Having followed Tess Gerritsen's blog over the years, The Apprentice is the first of her books I've read. Now two weeks from the premiere of TNT's "Rizzoli and Isles" starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander, I wanted to get some background on the characters before watching the show.

Still recovering from a traumatic encounter with serial killer Warren Hoyt, dubbed The Surgeon, Boston PD Det. Jane Rizzoli catches a case with eerie similarities to Hoyt's m.o. The stakes are raised when Hoyt ingeniously escapes from prison and connects with the new killer.

I'm not much a fan of serial killer books, and though The Apprentice introduces M.E. Dr. Maura Isles, I didn't see the friendship yet that the TV series touts. I did appreciate Gerritsen's attention to detail and how well I got to know Jane Rizzoli, how she and FBI agent Gabriel Dean challenged and fascinated each other. I got a good sense of all the characters, except perhaps for Isles, who only appeared in a professional capacity.

The novel's momentum was very good. There were times the momentum surged and I skimmed the writing as if watching a movie. On one hand, I didn't want to give the writing short shrift; on the other, the goal of any creative writing is to draw readers in as much as I was.

Soon I'll have a chance to read the latest Rizzoli/Isles book, Ice Cold. It will be interesting to note the series' progress and changes.

Friday, June 25, 2010


It rained here for about five minutes yesterday afternoon, but we felt the effects of Long Island's worse weather, losing power for almost seven hours. The power came back around 9:15 PM, but from about midnight to 2:35 PM today, I was without TV and Internet access.

Luckily there was enough daylight yesterday and no urgent need to open the fridge. I was able to watch two-thirds of Burn Notice last night, caught the rest today, and posted my weekly review before 5:00 PM.

In the meantime, I read a good chunk of The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The fundamental things apply.

Three years ago on Crimespace, Thrilling Detective contributor-turned-middle school teacher Dave White started a discussion arguing that meaning was more important than grammar.

Today on Do Some Damage, he resurrected the discussion, adding the side question, "[A]t what age do you stop teaching [grammar] and expect kids to know it?"

I commented:

To me, grammar is vitally important to clear thought. It's easy to jump on the bandwagon that the meaning behind a sentence is more important than how the sentence is structured, but grammar helps to teach meaning in the first place. If a person doesn't get that, he will have a more difficult time communicating his ideas—his meaning—later.

It's also easy to say that grammar isn't as important in fiction, but I think the grammar for fiction is simply different depending on the world you're writing about; it's no less important for your writing to be well structured.

I think everyone should know the parts of speech by seventh grade, but as a teacher I didn't see that. So I don't think we can have an age by which grammar is no longer taught, but then learning grammar is learning to communicate, something we continue all our lives.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Home, by any other name...

Yesterday, in addition to settling on a new look for my chat transcript blog Chatterrific, I created a page allowing you to search through the transcripts chronologically by year or alphabetically by guest's last name. I originally called the search page Transcript Index, but Blogger must use the word "index" for blog Home pages. When I clicked on the Transcript Index tab, both it and the Home tab changed to the "Selected" color.

I cleared up this confusing look by deleting the Transcript Index page and replacing it with one called Search Transcripts.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

NCIS Returns

Michael Weatherly and Pauley Perrette have signed new contracts to return to NCIS next season. Sean Murray has refused to comment on his contract situation, but he is the last veteran cast member in question. Part of me is happy to hear of the returns, but the longer actors stay with a series, the more attached viewers become. Character death/departure is an opportunity to energize a show, as we've seen with Kate Todd and Jenny Shepard.

UPDATE: On June 22, it was reported Murray had signed on for next season.

Father's Day

This is the tenth Father's Day since my father passed away. I can't describe the hollowness I feel to anyone whose father is living. My mother is away, in part to take her mind off memories. When I write about my father, I feel I'm understanding him, something that once seemed so difficult.

"My Father's Last Breath"
"More Than Anything"
"Dad & I"

Friday, June 18, 2010

Monkeying Around

I've posted my DVD review of Tales of the Gold Monkey: The Complete Series on Crimespree Cinema. Though I was only eight when the series first aired, it planted the seed for my C.J. Stone stories. Stephen Collins as Jake Cutter was ten times nobler than C.J. ever means to be, but now that I have the DVDs, I hope to draw inspiration for more stories.

C.J.'s prized Grumman Goose, Miss Liberty

In the meantime, here are the seven Stone stories so far, in publication order. Feel free to comment:

"For Old Times' Sake"
"A Twist of Kate"
"A Little Trouble"

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My New Used Books

I've gotten pickier with books, especially with the economy the past two years, trying to buy books I'll read sooner than later. Yesterday I bought the following at Amazon and qualified for free shipping with a subtotal of $25.06:

Free Agent by Jeremy Duns - a spy thriller set in 1969.

The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen - getting ready for TNT's "Rizzoli and Isles" premiering July 12.

Rough Weather by Robert B. Parker - I'm a Spenser fan, but his last cases aren't worth $9.99 in paperback. I paid less than half that for a used copy.

Only Angels Have Wings on DVD - This 1939 Hawks film was Don Bellisario's major inspiration for "Tales of the Gold Monkey", as much as ABC tried to turn it into a Raiders of the Lost Ark ripoff.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I love that this movie came together.

Three college lit mag friends and I saw The A-Team movie last night and loved it. Yes, many on staff in the early days of Font, Hofstra's literary magazine, were unabashed fans of "The A-Team" and became a similarly tight-knit unit. Why watch an A-Team movie if you weren't a fan of the show?

According to Deadline Hollywood Daily's Nikki Finke, A-Team projects had been in development hell for almost ten years, with eleven different writers attached. As I mention in my Crimespree Cinema review, it's even more remarkable, then, that the final product is a movie for the fans.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


As far as Blogger has come, I haven't found an easy way to list recent comments by commenter's name and post title as seen on Typepad and Wordpress. What I'd like is "Graham Powell (commenter's name, linked to comment) on Holiday Weekend?" (post title, linked to post).

Any sort of comment list can clutter a sidebar, so instead I've added Popular Posts to the Topics index. This will tell you which posts have the most recent comments.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Orange You Glad I Redid My Blog?

Blogger just moved its advanced template designer out of draft, and while I liked my previous layout, this one should be easier to maintain with the new designer. Scroll around and let me know what you think.

While I was at it, I redid The Lineup blog, the SMFS blog, and Chatterrific.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summercrime Poetry Contest Update

Through June 25, I'm looking for your best poem up to 50 lines involving summer and crime. If I get enough to post three favorites, those will go up on the Lineup blog and be considered for publication in The Lineup 4. E-mail your poem to g_so AT yahoo DOT com with the subject line "Summercrime Poetry Contest".

I hope to post at least one favorite poem, along with the poet's photo and bio.


I have no good reason for being away from this blog, but then I need no reason to blog now.

In four days, some college friends and I are seeing The A-Team movie. When I saw the teaser trailer in February, I was giddy. I knew the actors were different and Vietnam would be updated to a more recent war, but the writers seemed to have the tone right.

With the premiere closing in, several of the original actors have criticized the movie. Comments attributed to Mr. T., which he has since denied, said the movie's sex and violence were too graphic. These comments don't exactly sway me. The closest thing I saw to sex in 8PM 80s broadcast TV was innuendo. Of course more liberties will be taken in a movie, but it is PG-13.

The show's approach to violence was clearly cartoony. I'd wager everyone watching knew that when you fired guns or lobbed grenades, people died. The show just didn't show it.

While I share neither of these concerns, I do wonder if the characters will come through. Will I see in them what made them so memorable in the first place?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

One More Memorial

Today is my father's birthday. It's also my parents' wedding anniversary. Four weeks short of June 1, 2001, my father died from a recurrence of pancreatic cancer. I miss him, and I wish cancer had never touched him, but the first surgery gave him almost six more years of life. He died peacefully at home with his sister, my mother, my brother, and I present. Of all possible endings, that has to be one of the best.

I've written several poems about my father, who was often sarcastic in words but always earnest in action. My Lineup cohort Richie Narvaez entered my latest poem in last week's Asinine Poetry 48-hour challenge. It didn't win, but it was printed. Scroll down a ways here.

Summercrime Poetry Contest

Deadline: June 25, 2010

Write a crime poem up to 50 lines involving summer and send it in the body of an e-mail to g_so AT yahoo DOT com. My three favorite poems will appear on The Lineup blog July 1, 2010 and be considered for inclusion in The Lineup 4 (due out April 2011).

Make the e-mail's subject line "Summercrime Poetry Contest" and include your name, mailing address, and e-mail address in the body of the message. Good luck.