Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Where I Was Sunday Night

I'm serious when I say I was probably the youngest person in Fenway. Most of these people were reliving their...mid-forties. I'm glad that some still had a taste for pot - it was a nice contact high. Made me hungry for Dunkin' Donuts; and since it is Boston, thankfully there is a DnD every ten feet - including one right in Fenway. Convenient.

Great concert and it was really cool to see the three of them together on the stage. I've seen Sting twice before, but this was different. But they did show their age if only in the tempo of the songs. Gone is the frantic punk attitude they had when they played their famous set at the Orpheum in 1979. The moodier influences all three have collected since the band broke up in 1984 was very evident. It didn't help that WBCN played the '79 gig a few times during the weekend.

But it was interesting to think about who was in the audience. There were people like me, Gen-Xers who embraced any good music in the '80s (which was in short supply), there were the younger people who were dragged there by parents; and then there were those parents - Baby Boomers grasping onto those memories of the early 1980's. It's funny to think that all of these people (myself included) were willing to pay these concert prices to see a band they wished they could have seen back in 1979. BTW - I was 5 when The Police played that Orpheum set. Yes, it is true (and quite evident) that the band members have matured and the mastery of their instruments is at a peak; but these reunion tours, whether it's Genesis or Smashing Pumpkins (who I really really want to see when they play the Orpheum in October), are really about the past. No one is going to convince me that The Rolling Stones are better now than they were during their Sticky Fingers days.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Non-Oprah Book Club

I thought I'd try a (mostly likely infrequent) series of book recommendations on the blog. These will be books that I found interesting and hard to put down. Some will be genre, some litfic and some will be non-fiction. So, what will be first? I think I've mentioned Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road in the past so I won't put it back in the spotlight (even if everyone in the known universe should read it). If you've read the recommended book, feel free to comment. If you haven't read the book, give it some consideration.

The first pick is Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner - A Sort of Love Story by Alan Zweibel. This is a bittersweet memoir about the author's friendship with comedienne Radner, incuding the heartbreaking tragedy of her death. But the story isn't a downer. In fact, most of the book is quite funny; no surpirse considering Zweibel was one of the original writers of Saturday Night Live (where he first met Radner). The memoir was later turned into an off-broadway play.

The book is a quick read (under 200 pages), but it does leave a lasting impression. There is a preview on the Amazon link posted above, so if you haven't read the book (and I don't believe it hit any best-seller lists, so most likely you haven't), you can at least see if the beginning holds any interest for you. But like I said, if you read and enjoy it, let me know.

And before you comment, yes, this isn't a title one would expect on a blog that has noir in its title; but I believe writers should read anything and everything - and this just happens to be a very good book regardless of its non-affiliation with noir literature. Tough guys and gals have soft sides as well (of course my trouble is that all of my sides are soft).

Monday, July 23, 2007

It's Business Time

Something to put you in the mood.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

While the Rest of the World Reads Harry Potter...

...what are the rest of you reading this weekend?

I'm going back and forth between two books: The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley and The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Muggle? I'll Give You a Muggle Upside the Head

OK, children raise your hand if you aren't going to get your copy of Harry Potter at midnight tonight. I've already read the last bit of the last book and know who lives and who dies and I don't even need to meander through 700+ pages to find out. In fact, I lost interest at the fourth book, which I never finished. However, UPS will be delivering a copy of the Deathly Hollows at our doorstop in the morning because there is someone in the house who is obsessed.

Pop Fiction in the Atlantic...

...the magazine, not the ocean. There is an article about MFA programs in the fiction issue of the Atlantic, in which the program I graduated from is mentioned specifically because of the popular fiction track. Now, the head of this program is pretty ignorant when it comes to popular fiction. I truly believe that if she had her way, pop fic would be gone gone gone. You wouldn't believe some of the bullshit pop fic students have had to go through to get even a little bit of respect. (I had some of the lower forms of alumni threaten me with taking complaints to the university disciplinary committee and the police because I advocated for more student representation in policy decisions, going against the director. I don't know why either the police or the university's discipline committee would have any jurisdiction over the matter, but that logic didn't seem to stop these morons. Don't worry, I told each one of my "fans" to go fuck themselves and never contact me again. And, in case you were wondering, these are the people who turned their noses up at the pop fic track to begin with. Surprise, surprise. They're also so far up the director's ass that the only part of them you can see are their toes wiggling out of her sphincter). But I digress.

Anyway, here is a great opportunity for the Stonecoast MFA program to charge ahead of the crowded pack of other MFA programs. But will it happen? I really, seriously, completely doubt it, not until they get a new director who understands the potential popular fiction can bring. Pop fic has some great faculty (however, it could use at least one crime fiction instructor since about half of the pop fic students write mysteries) and some great alumni, it's a shame that it's treated like the redheaded step-child of the program. But hey, at least the Atlantic see the advantage if the administration doesn't.

Now, on to collecting states. Still no Wyoming. Let's see what I can come up with for today: "Any person who fails to close a fence in Wyoming is subject to a fine of up to $750. Neato fact. You know, unless someone from Wyoming visits soon, I'm gonna run out of things to write about. Maybe I should use some relatively suggestive words to capture some web search traffic. Here goes: Sex Wyoming, Love Wyoming, Porn Wyoming, Naughty Wyoming, Swingers Wyoming, Naked Wyoming, Penis Wyoming, Vagina Wyoming. You'd think that a state with a population of about 500,000 there'd be at least one pervert searching for that stuff.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Finally, My DVD Collection Will be Complete

Penthouse has announced that it will release a 4-disc special edition DVD of Caligula. The best movie to feature Sir John Gielgud and fisting! If you've never seen this amazing piece of cinematic art...ah...don't.

Collecting States

I got Tennessee and Arkansas! Another two states down. That leaves 14 (and yes, Wyoming, that includes you). If you want to keep tally for your own records, the states left are:

Rhode Island (but its about to be claimed, so I've been told)
South Carolina
West Virginia
North Dakota
South Dakota
New Mexico
WYOMING! (I mean, come on!)

Fun Wyoming related site of the day: the official Wyoming Sate government's Kids Page. With numerous puzzles and stories, plus a dinosaur quiz, you're sure to spend hours learning all you need to know about Wyoming...if you're a ten-year-old child.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I'd Risk the Allergic Reaction

Wyoming Watch: Day, I Don't Know, 3, Maybe?

Still no one from Wyoming. Maybe someone who just attended the Jackson Hole Writers Conference is still in the state and desperately wants to be counted on my blog. (And to bring this all into the crime fiction realm, the special guest at the conference was the incredibly talented Daniel Woodrell).

Here are six things you don't know about Wyoming. However, I did know that Harrison Ford has a place in Jackson Hole.

I do want to thank my visitors from Utah and Nebraska. With their help, I need only 16 more states (and that includes you, Wyoming!).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Wyoming - Why Must You Be So Cruel?

I'm still trying to intice someone from the great state of Wyoming to visit the blog for my "collect all 50 states" project.

Perhaps someone could get to know Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal and inform him of my quest. Did you know that Dave has the highest approval rating of any state governor in the US? Great job, Dave!

Fun Wyoming facts: the state has not voted for a Democrat for President since 1964. I guess LBJ soured them on that. However, in the past 30+ years, a Democrat has been in the governor's mansion for all but 8 years. As for a black eye on the state: they voted Dick Cheney to represent them in Congress from 1979 to 1989 - and they only get one seat in the House!

The official state dinosaur (I didn't know the states could claim pre-historic beasts): Triceratops.

Movies filmed in Wyoming: Any Which Way You Can; Brokeback Mountain; Close Encounters of the Third Kind; Rocky IV; and Starship Troopers.

Some writers who live (or used to live) in Wymoing: Annie Proulx (former Mainer); Lynne Cheney (author of the infamous lesbian book, Sisters [the lesbian angle was denied by the author], which for some unknown reason is available in its entirety at whitehouse.org); George Clayton Johnson (Logan's Run); and Warren Adler (The War of the Roses).

I'm going to keep trying, Wyoming. I haven't given up hope on you yet.

That's Bullshit

So, a friend of mine who normally doesn't write crime fiction (more of a sci-fi/horror guy, or alternative/speculative fiction) had the good fortune of getting a great story published at ThugLit. He submitted The Switch there after I pushed him in that direction (I did a little bit of critiquing on the story). He's happy because it's the first piece he's had published since earning the ever-daunting-yet-impressive MFA and he's received a lot of good feedback. However, one of the e-mails he received was from some writing dickwad who was ticked off that his stuff wasn't being published because of people like my friend who were crossing into genres they had no business publishing in. This pisses me off.

Since I first started corresponding among various crime writers (both the big and the small), I've found it amazing at how friendly and helpful everyone in the genre can be. At times it seems that it's just a large, extended family with similar interests. Oh, there are disagreements at times on the numerous listservs, but those come from a passion of the subject. But this is the first time I've heard of someone coming out and attacking someone because they had the talent to publish a story. I've continually told friends in other genres at how great it is that my follow crimewriters are some welcoming, so it really embarrasses me to hear this story.

So for those out there who aren't in the crime writing circles, know that the large majority of us are nice and welcome new writers into our genre. As for the prick that wrote that idiotic e-mail, concentrate on your own work. Perhaps the blame for your not being publish lies on you. Don't use someone else's success as an excuse that you don't have the talent to publish.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Short Story Recommendation

This weekend I read an excellent short story by Uzodinma Iweala (don't ask me how to pronounce his name) titled Speak No Evil in the latest issue of The Paris Review. Iweala is the author of the book The Beast of No Nation. The link above only allows you to read a short excerpt of the story, but the issue is worth buying. The photo essay by Raymond Depardon is pretty good and the magazine's THE ART OF FICTION interview is with Norman Mailer, who is always interesting, even if he is full of shit most of the time.

Also, this month's The Atlanic magazine has an article about Harlan Coben, which is kind of condescending at times. Such an oddity that a magazine that can be a little highfalutin toward genre fiction would have a lengthy profile on someone so securely identified as a best-selling pop fiction writer.

Now for the quest of getting visitors from all 50 states. How about Wyoming? Anyone in the Equality State fans of crime fiction? Does anyone read C.J. Box's Joe Pickett novels who also lives in the state they are located in? Anyone? If you know of anyone, direct them to this blog.

I also want to give a shout out to my Alaskan visitor, Faith Brainerd, who gave into her sister's begging to check out the blog.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

When Big Brother Gets Bored

So, every once and a while I'll check my visitors stats and see where my readers are from. Looking at this I realized that a lot of people spell David Copperfield's name wrong. How do I know this? Because I posted something about Copperfield a year and a half ago - and I spelt his name wrong. Oops. Since then I get about ten people a month searching for "David Cooperfield". These people are my biggest readers.

Now the coolest thing I check is Google's Analytics which has a map showing where your readers are from. It highlights all the countries represented, as well as breaks down all of the states in the US. But the US isn't entirely filled in. Most of the states are there, but I've failed to bring in readers from 19. So, I'm starting a push to gain at least one reader from each of those states.

Here is the list (in no particular order):
South Carolina
New Mexico
Rhode Island
West Virginia
North Dakota
South Dakota

If you know someone in any (or all) of those states, tell them to stop by so I can collect their states. In the meantime, I'm going to post something about each state I don't have - but somehow relate it to writing or crime fiction. Let's see if it works. If it does, then I'll start on other countries. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

If a Story Falls in the Woods...

What if you wrote a story and nobody read it? Would it be a failure? Would it be as if it never existed? Would there be a difference between offering it to the world only to have it ignored and keeping it in a desk drawer? Does art exist without an audience? Are the (rumored) manuscripts that J.D. Salinger has tucked away in some vault any less real? (An aside: I'd probably wait to publish after I died too if I had to face the unrealistic expectations those stories are going to be burdened with.) What about those bottom-drawer novels writers accumulate, are they different since they are essentially writing excercises?

I know that one defense mechanism for writers is an exaggerated sense of arrogance about their talents. As much as we may have hated the jocks in our lives with their inflated egos, most of us have achieved some level of false pride, if a lot more delicate than those in the sports world. But I think most writers, as well as most other artists, are more inclined to show their fears of rejection and to talk about it. Does that make us any less talented, or does it only strengthen our self worth?

I guess we must always continue our resolve, no matter where we are in our careers. Even writing this post has given me some encouragement. That doesn't mean I'm going out to be an arrogant prick... just enough of one to get by.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hump the Stump 2: Stumpy's Revenge

I have a new flash fiction piece up on Bryon Quertermous's Flash Pan Alley, and yes, it's a Stumpy story. Stumpy's Revenge is the Stump's second adventure after he killed off his wife in the first story using his...well, just read it to find out. For those of you who aren't familiar with what is probably my favorite creation, Stumpy is a man with no arms and no legs and no conscience. He also hates bad poetry, especially his dead wife's bad poetry. The Stump is based on a real person whose "assests" were the basis of a really horrible poem. However, he does have all of his limbs, as far as I know (I've never met the poor bastard).

So, enjoy my first sequel and let me know what you think. Maybe Stumpy will return for a third outing.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


You say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too--yeah
They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you.

Yes we're going to a party party
Yes we're going to a party party
Yes we're going to a party party.

I would like you to dance--Birthday
Take a cha-cha-cha-chance-Birthday
I would like you to dance--Birthday

You say it's your birthday
Well it's my birthday too--yeah
You say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you

Thursday, July 05, 2007


So, not only did I finish a really shit draft a few days ago, but I also wrote another one. Currently I'm the middle of a third story and just started a flash fiction piece; and yes, the flash is a sequel to HUMP THE STUMP. Last night I did the first read throughs and edits on the finished stories - both need a lot of work, and I felt really bummed about them, but I feel like that after the first reading of all of my stories. My goal is to have all four of these stories completed and sent out for publication by the middle of next week.

Well, back to Stumpy. It's not easy finding a way for an armless, legless man to kill people; but I'll find a way.

Stumpy as Superhero!

Not only is Stumpy the greatest threat to piss poor poetry everywhere, he also possesses some weird ass super powers. Keep taking the fight to them, Stumpy!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Idle Minds Lead to Chaotic Thoughts

So, after thinking about continuing to take classes here in the Journalism Departmet at UMaine, which is actually above my head; I started to look into the PhD program they offer, which has a concentration in Creative Writing. Dr. Allan? Would you read a crime book by Stephen J. Allan, PhD? Probably not. It sounds as impressive as Stephen Allan, MFA - which isn't that impressive.

OK, I'm now taking suggestions for dissertation topics, just in case I do pursue this. It has to do with Mass Communication and Crime Fiction, because I'm not going to stray far from my chosen genre. So, give me some ideas.

Man, I Hate That

So, no more than a few minutes after writing the previous post about how I finished a short story and how I'm really wonderful, etc. - wait that last part doesn't sound like me - I found an article that would have been really good research. I guess when I go back over the story I can incorporate some of the article's elements. I can't believe that some of the information I was looking for while writing my shitty draft comes out in the New York Times the morning after I complete it. Weird.

The Shittiest Shit Draft Ever

I finished the first draft of a short story late last night (actually it was early this morning) and I have to say that it was some of the laziest writing ever, more of a blueprint than actual prose. I'll let it sit for the next week so I can gain some distance from it before I start the first (of many) re-writes. I just have to remember that I made changes to earlier parts of the story as I reached the end. For instance, the weapon my main character has at the end switched from a gun to a knife, so I have to make sure he starts with the knife when I go back over the first half of the story.

But I did finish the story.

Veronica Mars

OK, I'm addicted to this show. We are nearly done with the second season on DVD and I'm bummed that the third season won't be out until October. And it really sucks that the show was cancelled. I should have watched it when it was on. Why do all the good shows get cancelled? Is there any hope for a Veronica Mars movie?

Plus, I'm completely infatuated with Kristen Bell. Thank god she's only six years younger than I am, otherwise I'd fall into that creepy weirdo territory with those guys who were constantly checking the countdown to the Olsen Twins 18th birthday.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

itune, you tune, everybody tune

These are the tunes I'm listening to today while I write - in case you were curious.