Hand out the torches and the pitchforks. Just in case...
I blogged it, and they came. And came and came. Seventeen comments so far...
Whoda thunk it?
Not me, that's for sure. Maybe I've just been too stuck in my own little world for so long, but I really don't get this blog thing. But I'm encouraged by the response -- very encouraged.
Although with all the talk of crank-turning and panties, I should point out that it ain't gonna be that kinda blog... well, mostly not.
Aldo, gather the troops. Dave, Ray, Laura, Stephen, Byron, Graham, Duane, G., Miss Sarah, Tribe, Jess, Jim and all the rest... next time any of you swing by the City of Angels (or is it Angles?), drop me a line. I'll take about any excuse I can get to go into an actual city, even if it is Los Angeles. This living out in the desert with the rattlesnakes and rednecks and one bookstore and not one good smoked meat joint is a wee bit stifling for a kid who grew up in and around Montreal. The Antelope Valley ain't just another country (although of course it is) -- it's another world, possibly another planet. Now I more fully understand Marlowe's quest for an honest glass of beer when the red wind blows. And Lew Archer's suggestion on how a slight adjustament to the level of the Pacific Ocean could immeasurably improve Southern California.
But more about life in Poodledale later -- if all I discuss on this blog is the blog itself (or the boring world of this lost Canadian) it won't take long for the blog to disappear up its own, uh, closing punctuation. So, on to (hopefully) more interesting things, like, uh... Christmas presents.
(And I hope you all had a good Christmas, even if you're not of the faith. Personally, I think Bill O'Reilly's war on the alleged "War on Christmas" is one of the most cheap, divisive, narrow-minded, bullying, opportunistic and mean-spirited piss-poor excuses for alleged journalism I've ever seen. What sane person could ever truly be offended by being wished "Merry Christmas"? Or "Happy Holidays", for that matter?
FOX NOOZ seemed to devote more time to the make-believe "War on Christmas" in December than the actual real war (you know, the one where people are being killed for real?)-- a pretty good example of who's really fueling the so-called "culture wars" -- and who pulls their strings. My recommendation is that the Old Spinner and the rest of his self-righteous minority blowhards be forced to listen to the moving and timely cover of Jackson Browne's THE REBEL JESUS off the McGarrigle sister's new Christmas album until their ears bleed and the message finally sinks through... particularly the last verse...)
"But please forgive me if I seem
To take the tone of judgement
For I’ve no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In this life of hardship and of earthly toil
We have need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure
And I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus."
And it just occured to me that the above comments -- and Mr. Browne's lyrics -- might offend someone (piss them off, in the parlance) so please don't read them out loud to anyone who takes FOX NOOZ seriously.
But I digress...
Anyway, Christmas presents. Besides the three-week-and-counting flu and one of the most frustrating and aggravating months of my life (could I have a re-do on December, please?), I got a scad of great gifts (not bad for a guy generally considered more naughty than nice). One of my absolute favourites has to be my very own copy of 1001 MIDNIGHTS, the extremely hard-to-find 1986 overview of the mystery genre compiled by Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller and a slew of their friends. It's essentially reviews of what they consider the most important books of the genre. Sure, it's dated now and yes, there's a fair amount of ass-kissing (Marcia likes Bill's books, Bill likes Marcia's books... Surprise, surprise!), and personally, I think there's more than a whiff of sour grapes about some of the reviews (check out the entries on Robert B. Parker's work, for example), but hey -- it's a book about opinions. It would be a piss-poor book indeed if it only repeated what everyone wanted to or expected to hear -- it's still one of the all-time great non-fiction books I've ever come across, one that should be on the bookshelf of anyone who takes the genre at all seriously. The contributors (and they include, besides good ol' Bill and Marcy, such other clued-in folks as Bill Crider, Ed Gorman, Art Scott, Max Collins, John Lutz, Ellen Nehr, Marv Lachman, Bob Randisi, George Kelley and plenty of the usual PWA and DAPA-Em suspects ) know their stuff, and have a knowledge of and passion for the genre that's almost, well, criminal (I recognize the symptoms -- I've seen them in the mirror).
1001 MIDNIGHTS came out twenty years ago in hardcover and has never, as far as I know, ever been reprinted. Or updated. Copies these days are rarer than hen's teeth (or cod feathers), and go on eBay for often astounding sums (my Santa won't tell me how much SHE paid). Maybe it's about time it was reprinted. Or updated. Or something.
So, 1001 MIDNIGHTS right away becomes one of my most treasured possessions (along with my very own Maltese Falcon), one I'm sure I'll refer to time and time again -- and one which I'm sure will mysteriously end up quite frequently among D.L's books (But that's okay -- her collected works edition of Chandler somehow often ends up in MY office -- ah, the perils of two writers under one roof.).
But my other favourite Xmas goodie so far (so far, because the U.S.Postal Service and Canada Post are allegedly still working together -- as only the postal services of two often bickering but essentially friendly nations can -- right at this moment to speed more gifts my way) is Season One of THE ROCKFORD FILES.
Has there ever been a greater (or more beloved) private eye show on TV, or one that's had more impact on the genre? I'm sitting here watching some of the shows, in all their unedited, commercial-free glory, and once again I'm blown away by how smart and savvy and downright funny the show was -- when it wasn't breaking your heart. A class act all the way, and sure, James Garner, one of the world's most likable actors, had a lot to do with it, but even ol' Jimbo, in the far-too skimpy "bonus feature," really slams the nail into the hardwood when he says "the secret to all of it... is the writing."
You won't get any beef from me on that one. Steve and Roy, wherever you are... take a bow. And thank you.
Next time... King Kong, Joe Kubert and finally doing Tarzan right. And sorry, Guyot, but no naked women.
But we're working on the singing cats.
And the web site. Any day now, Sarah. Promise...