Friday, August 30, 2013

THE OTHER WOMAN by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Embroiled in a lawsuit, TV reporter Jane Ryland protects her source and is let go by her station. Jane lands at the Boston Register newspaper, where she's assigned to look into why a Senate candidate's wife has dropped off the campaign trail. Jane's search overlaps a police investigation into possible serial killings.

My interest in The Other Woman was piqued last summer, when I saw it described on Twitter as "Basic Instinct meets The Manchurian Candidate." I'm still not sure what that means, but the book plays on readers' expectations of political corruption and collusion. It's not much a stretch to say everyone is involved with everyone else.

The book is told from the viewpoints of Jane, her friend Boston Det. Jake Brogan, and a handful of key players, but is nonetheless full of eye-popping revelations. Quite a feat.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Perception: "Warrior"

TNT's Perception had its summer finale last night, a great episode that brought to a head Season 2's storylines so far. I was wary of Scott Wolf joining the cast, thinking Donnie might be a shallow character introduced just to throw a wedge between Daniel and Kate. That is how things began, but with each episode, Donnie was fleshed out. This season has seen not just Daniel at low points, but Donnie and Kate as well, and in each case, the other characters have come through as you'd hope friends would.

The Cumulative Effects of Violent Entertainment

Earlier this week, I joined a discussion on Tyrus Books publisher Ben LeRoy's blog about the repercussions of crime fiction. Ben conscientiously asks:

Even if all of the violent media consumed doesn't cause copycat acts of violence, what does it do to the hardwire of our brain as far as our perception of those around us, most notably the strangers on the “other side” goes?

Also taking the discussion to Twitter, Ben asks to what extent violent entertainment perpetuates real violence and contributes to a cycle whereby writers depict violence, cynicism, and other negativity in their efforts to depict our world accurately.

I replied on Twitter that—though I enjoy some violent fiction, TV shows, and movies—a lot out there doesn't appeal to me. I choose not to immerse myself in violent entertainment even knowing it's not real.

I'm not saying, "It's not a problem for me, so it's not a problem." I just think we should equip future generations to be discerning consumers of entertainment as well.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ben Affleck is Batman?

I've just read Variety's report that Affleck has been cast as Batman opposite Henry Cavill's Superman in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel sequel. I'm in disbelief given Affleck's professed disappointment at having played my favorite superhero, Daredevil, and his resulting vow never to play a superhero again.

The report is probably true, though. I liked Ben well enough as Daredevil. I don't know that I'd believe him as a darker, broodier Batman, but his Batman may not be as dark as Bale's anyway. The key will be for the characters to balance each other. Since Cavill's Superman is darker, Affleck's Batman may be lighter. There's room for that without reentering Joel Schumacher territory.

Here's what I thought when news of the movie broke at San Diego Comic-Con.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"I'm going to Bouchercon 2013."

Yes, Bouchercon would be my vacation of choice if I won an NBA championship. If you'd like to meet me in Albany next month, I'll be attending the opening ceremonies Thursday night, during which SMFS President Tom Sweeney will present plaques to the 2013 Derringer Award winners.

I'm also on the "A Room of Our Own" panel, Saturday 3:10–4:05 P.M. in Room 4. Reviewers Dave Magayna, Lynn Farris, Jordan Foster, Joe Meyers, Kristopher Zgorski and I will discuss what we're reading now.

FOX Sports 1

FOX debuted its latest sports channel Saturday, and so far I'm not wowed. It seems a blatant copy of ESPN with lesser known personalities and not as much cachet, yet it's already lampooning itself in on-network commercials.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Noir at the Bar NYC 5: Sunday, August 18

I arrived at Shade later than expected, due to a pedestrian struck by the LIRR train ahead of mine, but others were delayed by traffic on the L.I.E., so I didn't miss anything.

I had the pleasure of sitting with Tom and Sarah Pluck, caught up with Charlie Stella and Jack Getze, and turned some new people on to crime poetry. Thanks to Glenn Gray and Todd Robinson for the warm welcome.

Photos courtesy of Glenn Gray.

I read "Witness Protection", "Redemption", and "Life Sentence".

With Tom Pluck and Todd Robinson

(L to R: Tom Pluck, Charlie Stella, Gerald So - crouched, Glenn Gray, Suzanne Solomon, Jack Getze - seated, Teel James Glenn, Todd Robinson, Scott Adlerberg, Bradley Sands)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bishop to NCIS

On August 13, TVLine's Michael Ausiello reported on NCIS's casting to fill the void left by Cote de Pablo.

According to exec producer Gary Glasberg, the plan is to feature a handful of guest agents in the same way Paul Cassidy (Jessica Steen) filled for Kate until Ziva gained acceptance or the way rotating interns replaced Bones's Zack Addy (Eric Millegan). I assume from the amount of detail given about Agent Bishop, she will eventually be the new full-time team member:

[Bishop] is bright, educated, athletic, attractive, fresh-faced, focused and somewhat socially awkward. She has a mysterious mixture of analytic brilliance, fierce determination and idealism. She’s traveled extensively, but only feels comfortable at home.

The description sounds a bit scattered, but clearly geared to appeal to younger female viewers. NCIS is still tops in the ratings going into its eleventh season, but even the best need occasional shakeups.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Friday, August 09, 2013

Alex Rodriguez and the Biogenesis Scandal

Let me say upfront, as a lifelong Yankee fan and an admirer of Derek Jeter's character, I've always rooted against Alex Rodriguez. There was a time I believed he was naturally a great shortstop, but he was in Seattle, and for about as long as he's played, New York has had the solid-fielding, much more composed Jeter at shortstop.

When 2003 ALCS hero third baseman Aaron Boone went down with a boneheaded pickup basketball injury, I didn't see Alex and Derek on the same team. A-Rod wasn't a third baseman. He would have to voluntarily move to third for the chance at a championship. That was a lot to ask of a star who commanded MLB's richest contract, crippling the Texas Rangers. I didn't think he'd make the switch, but he did. From his months of yips at third, though, I can only assume he didn't come to terms with the switch for some time.

Then there were the rumblings that Derek didn't embrace Alex as a teammate. There was the speculation that if Derek only showed more approval, Alex would feel more comfortable and get back to being MLB's best all-around player. I thought, if Alex really was the best, he wouldn't need anyone's approval to play well. He would play well because that's who he was.

Then came his admission of buying and taking performance-enhancing drugs while with the Rangers. Because MLB had no penalties for the drugs at the time, he couldn't be punished retroactively. Even though I'd never warmed to Alex, I was disappointed to hear he had used.

Finally in 2009, Alex seemed comfortable with himself and came through when the Yankees needed him, helping them to a twenty-seventh championship. I still was no fan of his, but I respected him as someone who had come back from rock-bottom.

Little did I know he would be caught in another, potentially more damning drug scandal. That said, I think his 211-game suspension is unfair by MLB's current 50- and 100-game standards for PED violations. It does show how seriously MLB takes Alex's alleged actions, and if the players' union has genuinely come out against PED use, stiffer penalties will be written into the next collective bargaining agreement. I'd like to see full-season suspensions for first offenses, lifetime bans for second offenses.