Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Best of the Year... According to Me

No, I haven't read every book that came out this year. No, I haven't seen every movie, TV show or listened to every album. However, that will not stop me in announcing the best of the year. So, let's get to it.

Best Book: Money Shot

Man, I absolutely fucking loved this book. I had read a couple of mediocre crime novels that left me rather depressed about the state of the genre before I received Christa Faust's book in the mail; but after I raced through the damn thing, not only did I think the book was incredible, but Faust had single-handedly infused my soul with faith for crime fiction and made me feel foolish for even questioning it.

When I think of the novel, it amazes me how she brilliantly maneuvered across the razor blade thin line between timidity and exploitation in dealing in a setting (the porn industry) that offers a seemingly infinite number of ways to turn the story into something that either sanitizes that business and the people in it or something completely salacious. OK, it may not be for everyone, but they should get over their puritanical inhibitions and just enjoy this masterpiece of modern noir.

The bonus for me this year was actually meeting Faust and telling her how much I loved the book.

Runner-up: Y:the Last Man

The tenth, and last, volume of Brian K. Vaughn's smart, semi-apocalyptic epic came out this summer and it did not disappoint.

Best Movie: The Dark Knight

Three letters sum up my reaction to The Dark Knight: Wow. Not only was this the best comic book movie ever, it was also one of the best crime films of the past twenty-five years. Put this right up there with The Departed. I seriously doubt the film will grab a Best Picture nomination, but it should.

Runner-up: WALL-E
In a year of seeing just about every kid movie released (most of which were pretty decent), WALL-E proved that the genre can produce great cinema that deserves recognition among the more "prestigious" films out there.

TV Show: Pushing Daisies

And thanks to the idiots of network television, that's what this delightful, ingenious show will be doing. If only there were someone in TV Land who had Ned's magic touch. Now there is barely any reason to watch NBC, CBS, ABC or Fox.

Runner-up: Mad Men

Bold, brilliant and moody. What more could you want in a show?

Music: Erykah Badu, New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)

Oh, the sweet voice of she with the impressive hair.

Runner-up: Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend

Go gives a fuck about an oxford comma? I do.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I was e-mailing someone today about politics and noir fiction and whether the genre leaned either to the left or to the right. My short answer is it can do both. Anyway, this is what I wrote:

It's funny to think that noir stuff leans toward the political right. Maybe if you're James Ellroy, but I think most contemporary crime novelists are quite liberal because they take on the troubles of society and not on the individual. The crime novel is the new social novel. THE WIRE is a good example and the writers for that show, Lehane, Richard Price, David Simon and especially George Pelecanos lean toward the left. I can understand thinking that the use of guns and violence are accepted tools of the right, especially gun usage; but I think there is a difference in portraying violence realistically and being gratuitous. However, I'm a huge fan of stylized violence - Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, etc. (I laughed my way through Hostel because there is apparently something wrong with me); so I am very guilty of using fictional violence, I'll admit it. What does that say about my political leanings? I have no idea. I guess if you didn't know me, it'd be possible to label me more conservative than I really am. A couple of years ago Keith Olbermann showed some footage of this automatic weapons get-together these gun hobbyists have every year in the Kentucky boonies, and I'm talking about high powered miniguns that shoot twenty rounds a second, and they were shooting up stuff and blowing shit up and Olbermann said something like, "I don't care what your stance on gun control is, that's pretty cool." There is something about destruction that fascinates us, I think; whether it is the breakdown of society, the tragic downfall of a single character or an old Pinto getting shot to shit. Perhaps that is what draws me to the genre more than anything.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Non-Oprah Film Club: Across 110th Street

Released in 1972, Across 110th Street is the violent story of a trio of robbers who gun down 5 guys while stealing $300,000 in mob money, and the race between the police and the black and Italian mob they ripped off.

Where has this movie been all of my life? If Sidney Lumet made a blaxploitation movie, it would be Across 110th Street. Acutally, I don't know if Lumet could have pulled this off to tell you the truth. The rough direction by Barry Shear, whose economic television technique shines through, along with the raw performances from Paul Benjamin and Anthony Quinn (who is a baaad motherfucker in this - who thought Anthony Quinn could be a bad motherfucker?) transforms 110th from a generic urban action movie into a real piece of cinematic art.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Like Watching Sausage Being Made, But Not As Interesting

Yesterday I watched the opening session of the Maine State Legislature. It was basically pomp and circumstance with addresses by our governor, John Baldacci (if only there were an emoticon that expressed "I feel nauseous just thinking about this douche bag, let alone writing his name; and I can't wait until he is out of power), as well as from the newly appointed Speaker of the House, Hannah ("Hi Mom! Thanks for getting me the job") Pingree. OK, so I'm not impressed with them, but what's the alternative, voting Republican? Hello, lesser evil.

Anyway, using my poli sci degree I will attempt to breakdown a few of the wonders I witnesses yesterday.

First: What's the point of giving these people a lunch buffett? Can't they go to the cafeteria and get their own damn food? There are a lot of needy people in Maine facing benefit cuts at the hands of the same people going for a second helping of rolls. I don't think that was government cheese I saw on the table.

Second: Should we feel proud or frightened in regards to that unstable guy who seems to show up at every government session, whether it's the State Legislature or a meeting of a local school board? On one hand, it's nice that people show an interest in the process; on the other hand, these people seem to carry one or more types of Hepatitis, haven't discovered the wonders of a comb, consider Old Duke an acceptable substitute for mouth wash, think showers are a once-a-month event and usually express their opinions out loud to whomever is on the other side of the conversation in their head. Maybe these are the true political scientists. Most people weren't as riveted with the whole spectacle as this guy. I wonder what his party affiliation is.

Third: OK, I admit it, I'm a sucker for the whole government thing. I'm proud of the architecture of our State House and the enthusiasm in the air. For small moments of time, I forgot my cynical side (the reasonable one) and enjoyed the ceremony of it. Do I dare say that I'm optimistic? Well, it was nice while it lasted.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Standing on the Edge of Definition

The definition of noir can be pretty fleeting. There is no universal standard, other than it is dark. I still like Dennis Lehane's definition that noir is working class tragedy, and as I continue to write I find what I'm interested in is that tragedy. It's funny that you need to spend a couple of years writing before you realize what it is you want to write.

So, does that mean the hard boiled stuff of tough guys and dames and guns is over for me? Hell no! That stuff is still fun to write, but more and more the stories that appear before me on the computer screen are tales of muted desperation and remorse instead of escapism. Basically I'm veering dangerously close to that literary divide the snobbish jackass literarti made up so they can sneer at genre fiction. I hope like hell I never cross it; fuck those idiots. Where I want to be is in the twilight where intelligent, open-minded readers appreciate character and plot equally. Yes, there are stories that are tilted more toward character and ones that lean heavily toward plot, but I don't thing the two are mutually exclusive. Some will tell you that you can only lean one way or the other - bullshit, that's two-dimensional thinking. Where would you place The Great Gatsby on that scale, or They Shoot Horses Don't They? or The Last Good Kiss?

So, we as a group will continue to fail in our efforts to grasp a concrete universal definition of that phantom we call our genre, but for me, it's a little more solidified. At least I can live with it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Ok, it's twenty minutes to three in the morning and I'm up. I've read a little bit (George R.R. Martin's A Fest for Crows), a watched a little TV (John Huston's The Misfits) and wrote a little (502 words!). Now what?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuckity Fuck

If you're still reading this after that tasteful title, then I assume you can handle a couple of swear words. Words happen. We read them, we hear them, we think them; they will never go away, and we can't really ignore them. If you're a writer, you probably shouldn't stop thinking about words - or how anyone else chooses to use them. Yes, this is a rant on censorship. Let's begin:

Say you are an aspiring writer and you attend a conference and you hear a dirty word, what should you do?

A. Go bat shit crazy.

B. Head to the nearest listserv and condemn potty mouths who use such language.

C. Sit in the frumpy couch you've awaited the sweet kiss of death in for the past ten years and complain to your six cats, one of whom is the inspiration for your knitting/feline/cooking themed novel.

D. Realize that as a writer you shouldn't tell anyone how to express themselves.

If you picked A,B or C - bullshit. You'd never make it pass the title, so I'm not too worried. The correct answer is D.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Oh, George Bush, We No Longer Need You

Not only do we get a new President, but we also gained a new national embarrassment. If Sarah Palin continues to do things like this, well, I think she'll remain in the national spotlight.

I have to say this is the funniest damn thing I've ever seen on MSNBC.


I was thinking about starting up the interviews again on the blog. The last one I did was with the incredibly talented, distinguished and over all nice guy James Patrick Kelly, seen here in this dignified photograph:

Yes, Jim, you're number in my book too.

Would you guys read them? Any suggestions? Let me know.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I need to do some research. Nothing too deep; I'm not looking to write a peer reviewed journal article or anything, just enough knowledge so I can pretend I know what I'm talking about. Of course, it's also a wonderfully deceptive procrastination.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It Shouldn't Have Been This Close

Congratulations to Alaska for not re-electing the first convicted felon to the U.S. Senate. That's one less political embarrassment for the state.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I was completely exhausted when I got home last night; I barely made it past 7:00 before I conked out. It was a combination of the whirlwind through Crimebake this weekend and arguing most of yesterday (not with my wife; it was work related). So, that means I have to do really well tonight and find at least 45 minutes to write. 45 minutes or 600 words, which ever comes first.

Monday, November 17, 2008


So, I went to Crimebake this past weekend. It's only the second conference I've attended; the first being Noircon in April. I'm getting better at these things. I made a few more contacts, had a publisher interested in seeing my novel, caught up with friends (including a dear friend from high school I hadn't seen in about 12 years). Oh, and I signed some books - for strangers! These people weren't related to me at all, and they still wanted me to sign their books. They felt no obligation. I think I signed about 30 books in all. How fucking cool is that? Very fucking cool.

So, yes, my story Some Things Can Never Be the Same has been published in Level Best Books' latest anthology, Deadfall, and the book is available right now.

And I got recognized by a few people, and not in a police lineup sort of way, but in a "I like your stories" sort of way. They may have been polite in saying it, but hell, I'll take it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Apparently, people actually read this thing.

I had a pretty cool weekend. More later.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Great Day

I can't remember a time when I was more inspired by my country. For the first time in our history, the rhetoric of the American Dream has become reality. This feels like a new beginning of American greatness.

Jesus, I hope he doesn't screw up.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

This Weekend

I am secluding myself from the rest of the world this weekend and writing. Nothing else but sitting and writing from Saturday morning until Monday afternoon. Now I need to prepare myself as follows (with apologies to Trainspotting):

Stage one, preparation. For this you will need one room which you will not leave. Soothing music. Tomato soup, ten tins of. Mushroom soup, eight tins of, for consumption cold. Ice cream, vanilla, one large tub of. Magnesia, milk of, one bottle. Paracetamol, mouthwash, vitamins. Mineral water, Lucozade, pornography. One mattress. One bucket for urine, one for feces and one for vomitus. One television and one bottle of Valium. And now I'm ready.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Justice? Yeah, I think so.

How far we've come where the economy is more important in the media than O.J.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Oh, Fuck Me

McCain turns to Maine's Second District. Michigan's loss is our gain? Fantastic. Guess who's coming to visit? We got moose, we got hockey moms, we put lipstick on pigs...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Short Attention Span Politics

I think Sara Palin is our first short attention span candidate. As she was responding to Gwen Ifill's questions, I kept on forgetting what it was Gwen asked. Palin seem to ignore whatever the topic was and stuck with the campaign talking points. She was all over the place. She just rambled on until her time was up - and she didn't say anything. Tax cuts! Maverick! Change! She's perfect for the under informed populace, the MTV generation used to quick glimpses of information and the certifiably insane. The United Stupids of America are probably zoning in and out while she's babbling, unaware that she's skirting the issues being discussed. There is no way people who pay attention to shit are totally for her because of her position or knowledge - these supporters must have some other motivation.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Lunch Hour Writing

Sometimes I write while I eat my lunch at my desk, if I don't have any errands to run. So, today I had bologna and cheese and typed 941 words during my lunch. Not too bad.


"I’ve always believed that America’s government was a unique political system — one designed by geniuses so that it could be run by idiots. I was wrong. No system can be smart enough to survive this level of incompetence and recklessness by the people charged to run it."

- Thomas Friedman, New York Times, October 1, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Above my desk is a poster of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, one of my favorite movies. It's the freeze frame ending of the movie where Butch and Sundance rush out to fight the Bolivian Army. Redford is a pretty good actor, I've always liked his work; but it's Newman who makes that movie. It's Newman who makes The Sting, he makes Absence of Malice, he makes Slap Shot and every other movie he starred in. Now he won't star in a movie ever again. Very sad.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debating the Debate

Why do news organizations immediately go to someone in each of the opposing camps and ask their opinion on how the debates went? Are they expecting one of them to go, "Well, shit, my guy totally fucked up and I gotta say, after listening to his opponent, I'm gonna switch sides." No. Their guy could have shouted out, "I'd suck Bin Laden's balls!" and they'd still say he won. What's the point? The same goes for the commentators on staff. Really, Pat Buchanan thought McCain won? I am abso-fucking-lutely shocked. I want someone to give me a honest assessment.

OK, I'll tell you that I think Obama won, but I'm biased. So, read this with a grain of salt.

Obama did win, but only by the skin of his teeth. He wasn't strong going into the first twenty minutes of the debate - he seemed to be treading water. I think there were a ton of opportunities to attack McCain, but he let them all slip away. McCain on the other hand, may not have beat Obama, but he came away with a great success - he didn't lose the entire election, which was the direction he was heading in this week. He put his campaign back on track after this odd "senior moment" of the non-suspension campaign suspension and swooping into Washington with enough political theater that House Republicans could stage their revolt. (OK, they probably would have revolted anyway, but McCain's presence sure as shit appeared to be the catalyst) and the whole will he or won't he suspense about attending the debate at all. Not to mention pissing of David Letterman - which may actually have caused more lasting damage than anything else. Who wants a national personality with a nightly show seen by millions of voters crapping all over you Monday through Friday from now until the election?

So, no real fireworks. They both got in a few jabs and both stumbled. Obama benefitted from finally finding his footing and strengthened during the last half hour - which may have swayed my thinking he won. But it's next Thursday's debate which will be the fun one. Palin v. Biden. What kind of shenanigans will the McCain campaign pull to deflect from that? Will he pull her and put Rudy in her place? Hmmm...

Friday, September 26, 2008

It's Like Real Life, Except Not as Ridiculous

Forgotten Book Friday

For my contribution to Patti Abbott's Friday Forgotten Books this week, I suggest Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations because it seems some people have forgotten that it's the backbone of their entire economic philosophy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Poem by Sara Palin

Excellent Question, Katie

By Sara Palin

That Alaska,
a very narrow maritime border,
between a foreign country: Russia.
And on our other side, the land-- boundary that we have.
Canada, it… it's funny.
A comment like that was kind of made to…
I don't know,
you know, Reporters?
Yeah, mocked,
I guess that's the word,

Our next door neighbors are,
foreign countries.
They're in the state that I am the executive of.
And there in Russia.
We have trade missions,
back and forth.
We, we do.
It's very important,
when you consider,
even national security issues with Russia.

As Putin rears his head,
Comes into the air space of the United States of America.
Where? Where do they go?
It's Alaska.
It's just right over the border. It is.
From Alaska that we send those out,
to make sure that an eye is being kept.
This very powerful nation, Russia.
Because they are right there.
They are right next to our state.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Armageddon It - A Political Rant

Holy shit, the world is coming to an end. Save us Henry Paulsen! What do you need? $700 billion and absolute power? You got it.

Wait, let me get this straight, these big wig capitalists - including the first MBA President - want a socialized solution to this mess? The United States Government now owns an 80% share in AIG. We own one of the largest insurance and financial companies in the world, and the government has an actual say in how the business is run. Even Eugene Debs has risen from the grave to say, "What the fuck?"

OK, this isn't exactly communism, but it isn't exactly capitalism - it's something in between, a socialism that's nationalized, a kind of national socialism, if you will. I believe another country dabbled in a similar scheme sometime around the first half of the Twentieth Century. Can't remember much about it (damn my public school education), but I think they also had a bone to pick with the Jews.Oh, it'll come to me.

Can someone please tell me how we can bail out these millionaire fuck ups (the air will be filled with golden parachutes), but there are still children in this country who go hungry and don't have adequate medical care? I mean, if we're heading for a socialist nation why not fix a few problems along the way? If we're going to say to hell with our economic ideals, why not do some good on our pathway to a socialist Hell?

And what is Congress doing? They're speeding this bail out along because they've been told the sky is falling - and they want to recess to campaign, so they'll just go back to Washington to do the same nothing they've shown such a knack for doing. There is no doubt that a bill will be passed, probably as soon as this weekend without a whole hell of a lot of discussion - or at least not any constructive discussion [But hey, there's a Presidential debate happening friday, so that should give us a real national discussion about this problem... what's that? They're only focusing on foreign policy? Really? The biggest economic crisis is currently happening and they're not going to talk about it? What the fuck?]. I bet the vote to approve this bail out will occur somewhere around 1:00 in the morning, you know the same time of night last Saturday the Treasury Department released their $700 billion, no strings attached, the Treasury Secretary becomes the most powerful person in the U.S. government request.

Thank god there's a presidential election coming up with two highly qualified candidates... what's that? Economy is one of McCain's weaknesses and Obama hasn't proven himself on that front either. Well at least Sara Palin has a strong grasp of responsible public spending... what's that? Put her town of 6,500 people $20 million dollars in the hole during her one term in office. You'll excuse me while I breakdown and cry. At least she had a crash course in foreign policy yesterday with meeting with some foreign heads of state, like Henry Kissinger. Hell, she was probably wondering which country Kissinger ran. The funny dude has a weird accent, so it's got to be from somewhere across the Atlantic, right?

OK, I'll let you in on a little secret about how to follow politics without becoming an alcoholic or a meth addict (I mean, look at the way the people in Wasilla handled Palin's role of mayor) - the secret is to have a sense of humor... and no investments.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I have a piece of paper Dennis Lehane gave me during my first graduate workshop; it's probably the best bit of writing advice I've ever received. On that paper he listed a number of authors and books he thought I should read. The book at the top of that list: The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley. I've since read it about four or five times. I even wrote part of my MFA thesis on it. I was hooked on Crumley, and I went and read everything. I introduced my grandfather to Crumley and he quickly became one of his favorite writers, along side Elmore Leonard.

I've encountered many writers who can recite, if not exactly, then at least in some close facsimile of it, the opening lines to The Last Good Kiss. Everyone of them remembers the bulldog. Crumley was one of the first writers to usher in the modern era of the crime novel. C.W. Sughrue and Milo Milodragovitch were different kinds of heroes (if one could really call them that) than their predecessors. They were most definitely flawed characters who struggled with life more than they struggled with whatever crimes they were investigating. After reading about Sughrue and Milo, well, one could never look at a crime novel the same way again.

I was shocked yesterday to learn that Crumley had passed away. He was the second major influence to have died in the past week; the first being Gregory McDonald. I owe a lot of my writing style to McDonald, as well as my understanding of dialog. Hell, I wanted to name my son Fletcher at one point.

I don't know why the passing of these men has affected me so much, after all I didn't know either of them on a personal level. Maybe because writing becomes a sort of personification; a representation of its creator, and when a book or story has any type of impact we feel connected to the writer. Perhaps it's similar to having a crush on someone - it's a rather selfish endeavor in which we are the only ones who take pleasure in it, the only ones who derive any meaning from such a frivolous bond, which is often non-existent, only a one-way relationship.

But whatever the reason for my connection to these two writers, I still feel that something in my life that once was there is no longer. A sad time, indeed.

Monday, September 15, 2008


I don't think I'll ever finish Infinite Jest. I bought the book when it first came out in hardcover 12 or 13 years ago and have made numerous attempts at reading David Foster Wallace's behemoth. The book now holds a permanent place on my TBR pile. I'll do it someday, at least that's what I keep telling myself. But I'm like a pathetic mountaineer who can't even make it to base camp at the foot of Everest. I've made it to page 200 a couple of times (with the endnotes, it's more like 250), but other, shorter books have pulled me away. Will I finally achieve my goal of finishing IJ now that Wallace is gone? Highly unlikely. But I may finally finish The Broom of the System.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


The more I watch and listen to Sarah Palin, the more she reminds me of those book burning idiots who want to ban Catcher in the Rye and The Golden Compass from the local library. But hey, Banned Books Week is coming up so maybe she'll come out and tell us how much she loved The Chocolate War ... watching it burn. But I was half-surprised (half-not surprised) to learn that my instinct was correct.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tell Me Neil Patrick Harris Isn't Fisting This Guy


Today I submitted four (4) stories, which makes the submission number for the month six (6). I guess I just got motivated today or something. I also did revisions and started a second draft of a story. It's like I'm a real writer or something. Well, almost Obama time. I don't get the argument that speaking in front of 75,000 might be a negative. Yeah, people like him. Yeah, he's popular. Yeah, it's a fucking election - the most popular guy wins. But I still can't believe opinion polls are so close.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Media Releases Photos of McCain Voters

These guys will probably need an absentee ballot.

Doing the Dad Thing

This is what I come home to every night.

It's like an adorable version of The Children of the Corn.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


"She comes back to tell me she's gone
As if I didn't know that
As if I didn't know my own bed
As if I'd never noticed
The way she brushed her hair from her forehead
And she said losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you're blown apart
Everybody sees the wind blow"

- Paul Simon, Graceland

Rock n Roll Preacher

So I went to a wedding the other day. It was a nice affair, as most weddings are - there haven't been many weddings that weren't nice, at least for the guest. Anyway, amid the usual white wedding dresses, sharp dressed groom's men, tiered cake and ever present stuffed chicken breast was a most unusual preacher. To give you a slight idea of this guy, imagine Garth Ennis and Flannery O'Connor having a baby and that baby becoming a preacher. Everyone in the wedding party is wearing the traditional garb- the groom in his Marine uniform - but the guy presiding over the event is in black jeans (slightly acid washed), black leather jacket and Timberlands. And the whole ceremony felt like improve with the preacher just spouting some religious stream of conscious diatribe as it popped into his head and delivering it in a folksy easy going manner. The hipster baptist preacher channeling his inner McConaughey. I bet his favorite movies are Easy Rider and Vanishing Point. But the best part was his voice - he spoke as if he had Tom Waits stuck in his throat. As he spoke I kept imagining him in some tattered revival tent preaching to a bunch of hicks, each of them swaying to his county-tinged religious oratory - even some of the women folk in the sweltering canvas tent finding themselves sexually aroused. Even though I wasn't buying his bullshit - and it was most certainly bullshit - I could see people persuaded by this man and his talk of Jesus. And then I knew I had found a character. I don't know where he'll find a spot in my imagination - in a novel down the road or lucky enough to have his own short story, but he (or at least my fancied version of him) will show up on my computer screen some day.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

You're Gonna Get Yours

In continuing my extremely slow revelation of my recent publications (yes, there's more to come), I give you my latest story in Big Daddy Thug's site of incredible awesomeness, Thuglit. You're Gonna Get Yours is a sort of sequel to my previous Thuglit story, If There's a Hell Below, We're All Gonna Go in that the cash in the first story shows up in the second. The setting is still New Orleans, but it's a couple of years after Katrina. The main character is an ex-con who looks for his son's killer amid the mean streets of a city trying to pull itself together. There's violence and bad language - but no sex, sorry.

So, give the story a read. If you like it, let me know.

Friday, August 01, 2008

How Can We Save Ourselves If We Don't Make Ourselves Sick?

Dear writers of 24, I think I've found your new villain for next season. This guy was poisoning random people with anthrax so he could test his anthrax vaccine? WTF to the nth degree. I wouldn't be surprised if this guy walked around his apartment in full Heath Ledger Joker make-up repeating, "Why so serious?" over and over again.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Does this mean I have to retire yet another Red Sox t-shirt? Make some room Damon, Manny's coming to keep you company.

Taibbi Quote

"Phoenix, July 13th, Sunday morning. Thank God John McCain has declared that he wants to wallpaper the continent with new nuke plants, because now the chances are better that this wretched slab of hot, birdshit-covered asphalt they call a state will be blown to hell in an accident someday. I hate this place. Once the sun comes up on an Arizaona weekend, nothing moves except the occasional elderly-piloted Buick floating boatlike in the direction of some hideous megachurch."

- Matt Taibbi, "Without a Prayer" Rolling Stone, August 7, 2008

Non-Oprah Book Club: What Makes Sammy Run?

Published in the early 1940's, Budd Schulberg's What Makes Sammy Run? is probably still the best novel about Hollywood, even surpassing his contemporary (and one time collaborator) F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Last Tycoon. It tells the story of a ruthlessly ambitious boy, Sammy Glick, who backstabs his way to the top of the Hollywood studio system. Glick is such an interesting character, one who fascinates the reader without earning any sympathy.

Some, including Samuel Goldwyn, criticized the book as being anti-semetic, calling Schulberg a self-hating jew for writing it. In truth, the character of Glick would be just as wicked if his last name was McCoy. Besides, Glick being a jew has little to do with the actual story. However, the book was enough of a catalyst for MGM to fire Schulberg.

What is more interesting in terms of the novel's plot in relation to Schulberg's own life was the topic of socialism and unions within Hollywood during the 1930's. The struggle between union coordinators and the studios has a major part in the book, with a more favorable view of union organizers. But Schulberg would later testify voluntarily in front of the HUAC and named names, including many of the infamous Hollywood Ten. (This would not be Schulberg's last brush with history - in 1968 he would be one of the men who wrestled Sirhan Sirhan to the floor after the gunman shot Robert Kennedy.) Schulberg would later collaborate with another famous HUAC witness, Elia Kazan, in writing On the Waterfront. The film has long been categorized as Kazan and Schulberg's answer to the criticism they received for testifying since the movie is about an informer ratting out his friends.

But besides Schulberg's history of contridictory politics, Sammy is still a great book; one of my favorites. Well worth a read.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I've always admired people who can quote passages of poetry, or parts of their favorite books or memorize whole section of dialog from plays. I can't do it. I also have an inability to figuring out what people are saying when they spell out a word. "Did you get the B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y P-R-E-S-E-N..." Hold it right there because you lost me at B-I-R.

So, I'm going to try to do something about it (the quote thing, not the spelling. I'm never going to be able to do the spelling thing.) From now on, every time I find a quote that I like, I'm going to post it here. Here's the first:

Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar): He's security conscious, he's smart. Smooth in a cheesy Sam kind of way

Sam (Bruce Campbell): Smooth is smooth, baby.

- Burn Notice

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm So Proud

For the second time I've won the daily Craption contest on, but only by one vote. That means that if the entry below me gets a couple of votes, that guy will be ahead. Anyway, click here to read and bask in my glory.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Non-Oprah Book Club: Getting Away With It

Steven Soderbergh is a pretty funny guy. He doesn't take himself too seriously, which is always a great quality in a narrator - and it's what saves his (sort-of) memoir, Getting Away With It, or The Further Adventures of the Luckiest Bastard You Ever Saw, from being an incredible depressing tale of Hollywood misery. For those who are unfamiliar with Soderbergh, he's a film director who made Out of Sight, Ocean's Eleven and Traffic, for which he won the Best Director Oscar. His first film, Sex, Lies and Videotape, was a giant milestone in independent cinema. It won the Audience Award at a little thing called the US Film Festival, which would later change its name to the Sundance Film Festival; as well as winning the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. But his career hit a low while he was making his fourth film, The Underneath. Feeling like a loser after making three films in a row that failed to live up to his talent and promise, he decided to make a movie for himself called Schizopolis. He wrote, directed, produced, photographed, scored... well, did just about everything on the movie. If you've never seen it - and you're open to (and really enjoy) fucked up movies - stop whatever you're doing and go rent it, buy it, whatever. To give you an idea of how off the wall the movie is, Entertainment Weekly gave the movie an A, but also gave it an F.

Getting Away With It chronicles Soderbergh's time between The Underneath until he found his stride again with his adaptation of Elmore Leonard's Out of Sight. Along with writing about his troubles, Soderbergh spends half of the book talking with one of his filmmaking heroes, Richard Lester. Lester is promoted on the cover of the book as "the man who knew more than he was asked." It's a sort of smart ass take on Truffaut's series of interviews with Hitchcock.

This is a great book for anyone interested in filmmaking.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Simple Satisfaction

To continue my publishing news updates - yes I have more coming - I present a flash I wrote for D.Z. Allen's Muzzle Flash titled A Simple Satisfaction. It appeared in May. Read it, let me know what you think and then head to the mall for a little shopping.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What I've Been Up To For the Past Few Months

Besides writing, of course. This is a continuation of something I started a few months ago, which was leaving a list of things I have read, watched or went to see. So, this is basically for me, but feel free to check it out if you want.