Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Morn

You may recall this Lent I opted to continue living without something I'd given up since January 1. I succeeded, and, because my sacrifice wasn't tied to forty days, I was more focused on the moment, the true spirit of the season.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


My friend John Ricotta sent me the pictured scan from a round of the word game Balderdash played circa 1996 with fellow Hofstra lit mag staffers at John's ancestral summer house in Tannersville, NY. Balderdash involves making up definitions given actual, odd-sounding words. You earn points by coming up with the closest definition, guessing the correct definition from multiple-choice, or getting others to accept your definition. Clearly, none of that was on my mind.

NCIS: Los Angeles: "Red, Part Two"

OSP and Red team continue pursuing an elusive, unknown killer as the body count rises.

Part Two had more moments between Callen and Paris and the members of Red team, Scott Grimes bringing the comic relief. I don't get the sense that a Red series will be very different from NCIS: Los Angeles, but if Part Two's ratings hold up to Part One's, CBS could make a full night of NCIS, with Red in the Tuesday 10:00 P.M. slot that has lagged for years.

If Red doesn't go to series, I'd welcome Paris or Red team back on either NCIS or NCIS: Los Angeles.

UPDATE (May 15, 2013): CBS decided against bringing Red to series. The ratings were decent, but apparently the concept wasn't strong enough to sway execs. Instead of a full NCIS night, CBS is moving Person of Interest into the Tuesday 10:00 P.M. slot, so TV's three most watched dramas will air on the same night.

Monday, March 25, 2013

At The 5-2: "On Highway 66" by Doug Draime

This week, Doug Draime gives us a look at a stretch of rural Oregon.

There is now at least one entry for each day of our April blog tour.

Frequent contributor Charles Rammelkamp will choose the 5-2 Poem of the Week for July 8–14, 2013.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

NCIS: LOS ANGELES: "Red, Part One"

In this anticipated backdoor pilot for a spinoff, Callen and Sam rendezvous with a mobile Red team to investigate a murder in Idaho whose details match one in Los Angeles.

I admit up front I'm spoiled by the two-part, Season 8 JAG episode introducing the cast of NCIS. It was so different in tone, pacing, and cinematography that it almost didn't fit JAG. Odd fit aside, the aforementioned qualities are what I loved about NCIS for its first seven seasons.

In Season 6 of NCIS, the Los Angeles team was introduced in a two-part, backdoor pilot. By then, NCIS creator Don Bellisario had ceded control to Shane Brennan. Brennan and CBS developed NCIS: Los Angeles without Bellisario's input. Bellisario, in fact, sued CBS for compensation, the parties settling two months ago. I admit to being a Bellisario fan before opining that NCIS: Los Angeles's characters and chemistry weren't as well formed from the start. I say the same about Red team.

Lead agent Paris Summerskill (Kim Raver) had an interesting background in the performing arts and better romantic chemistry with Callen than anyone previously has. However, with ten minutes left in Part One, Paris's ex-partner, Roy Haines (John Corbett), was called back into action. Paris supposedly had chemistry with Roy, but she responded to his appearance by slugging him and sulking off. The rest of the team haven't distinguished themselves yet. Corbett does seem comfortable, as he usually does.

I realize I can't judge a two-parter by part one, but first impressions are important. Because NCIS hit the ground running, I had thought any spinoffs would do the same, but they haven't. That said, I prefer NCIS: Los Angeles Seasons 2, 3, and 4 to classic NCIS Seasons 8, 9, and 10. If "Red" makes a splash in the ratings, CBS is sure to afford it the same chance to grow on me.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Nerdpocalypse on the Veronica Mars Kickstarter

I've been a fan of The Nerdpocalypse site and podcasts since they interviewed Middleman creator Javier Grillo-Marxuach last year. Host Jay blogged yesterday about the Veronica Mars Kickstarter, and I commented this morning.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Crimespree Magazine at 50

I received my copy of Crimespree #50 today, including many contributors' remembrances how they came to be involved with the magazine. I wasn't asked, but allow me to gush here on my blog.

Jon Jordan, a.k.a. "NoDoze", a.k.a. "makemenachos", was a longtime and enthusiastic member of my P.I. fiction discussion DetecToday when Dave White encouraged me to pitch Jon a DVD review of Veronica Mars Season One. Jon referred me to Entertainment Editor Jeremy Lynch, and countless words later, I still love working with them any chance I get.

Over the years, I've had the thrills of turning Jon on to NCIS, of turning Jeremy on to The Middleman, of interviewing Ace Atkins for Crimespree two days after the announcement he was continuing Robert B. Parker's Spenser...

And yet, more than any piece I've done for the magazine, I've enjoyed the people behind it. Before my first Bouchercon in 2008, I blogged about whether I should use a backpack. Jon not only phoned me with luggage advice, but we chatted a good while longer. Jon and Ruth were also kind enough to do an ad exchange so I could spread the word about The Lineup in Crimespree.

I wish them continued success and look forward to many more memories.


Creator Rob Thomas reached a funding goal of $2 million toward a Veronica Mars movie in one day. As a fan of the show, I was glad to see it happen, but I'm sure there are other hurdles in the way.

I've backed two Kickstarter projects so far: Seth Harwood's CrimeWAV Books and Michael A. Arnzen's Fridge of the Damned, which both reached their goals. I think Kickstarter is a good way to reach out to fans and make them feel a part of projects, but I have no plans to use it to fund my own.

My experience publishing and promoting The Lineup didn't show enough interest to warrant a campaign. If I take your money in advance, I'm obligated to you; whereas if I see something through to fruition on my own, I will have done it my way, and you can buy my product or not. Whether you buy, my product is already out there.

On the other hand, I might use Kickstarter to offer small rewards related to a base product. The goal might be lower because it wouldn't include the cost to make the product itself, and it would show how large a fan base I had.

Monday, March 11, 2013

At The 5-2: "Hopscotch" by Steve Hood

This week, a reflection on the Sandy Hook elementary school tragedy from Washington state poet and attorney Steve Hood.

Two spots are open in Week 2 of 30 Days of The 5-2. If you or a friend would like to blog about poetry for April, National Poetry Month, I'd love to have you.

5-2 alum Catfish McDaris has published a hardcover book at featuring poems, stories, and a 9-chapter novella.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Mariano Rivera

Today the most accomplished closer in Yankee history is expected to announce the 2013 MLB season will be his last. I've followed Mariano's whole career, drafting him as the closer on my only fantasy baseball team when he was setup man to John Wetteland.

Like most closers, Rivera didn't have the sustained stuff to be a starter. It's probably somewhat true he's gotten by all these years with one pitch, his cut fastball. But he has poise to rattle anyone else. Closers who are more than flashes in the pan usually bounce around to several teams, losing and regaining their mojo unpredictably. Mariano has been the foundation of the Yankees bullpen for eighteen years.

I've actually wanted him to retire for a few seasons now, not wanting to see his performance dip. He spent most of last season injured, which helped me prepare for today's announcement. It will still feel odd to realize he's truly retired. The Yankees may have to wait a few generations for another closer of his caliber.

You wanna know who the best is? That's him: Iceman. It's the way he flies, ice cold. No mistakes. He just wears you down. You get bored, frustrated, do something stupid, and he's got you.

Monday, March 04, 2013

At The 5-2: "The NRA's Modest Proposal" by Robert Cooperman

Inspired by Swift, Cooperman offers this chilling vision of an all-too-possible future.

The first week of 30 Days of The 5-2 is booked. If you're open to discovering poetry next month, National Poetry Month in the U.S., I'd love to have you.