Sunday, January 29, 2006

I'm a man who likes to talk to a man (or woman) who likes to talk...

By Gad but you are a character, sir...

So how about letting the world know?

From now on, you don't have to be a member to post a comment on the THRILLING DETECTIVE BLOG. Got that, Keith? Joy? Trixie? George?

The usual restrictions apply: no profanity, no spam, no off-topic rants, no BSP arseholes, etc.

Anyone violating this policy will be held up to severe ridicule.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Live from the Antelope Valley! The DetecToday Chat

Attention ladies and gentlemen and all ships at sea:

If you have nothing better to do tomorrow afternoon (Sunday, January 29, around 2PM Pacific/5 PM Eastern), why not join me at DetecToday for a chat about the new issue of the Thrilling Detective Web Site, all I wanted for Christmas, crime fiction, TV, movies, blogging, scum-sucking publishers, the cult of BSP and a certain handsome young Asian American professor's secret life as a male go-go boy.

Yep, I'll (finally) be the guest chattee, and ol' DetecToday may never be the same.

Just log into Yahoo! Messenger and contact my moderator Gerald So's screenname "g_so" and he'll invite you to conference. He's usually usually logged in, so if you see him, just let 'em know you're there for the festivities.

Tar and feathers are optional, but feel free to bring along some cyber beer and munchies.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Dreams of Justice: A Great Toilet Book

Speaking of non-fiction, I don't know about you, but I'm not one of those folks who can read non-fiction in big long chunks, generally. I like stories. But I do read non-fiction, of course -- I just like to do it in bits and pieces, small chunks of it doled out here and there. A little bit with my coffee, a paragraph or two waiting for a bus, a brief article while D.L. looks for the handcuff keys, that sorta thing. But my favourite place to read non-fiction tends to be on the toilet, for some reason. So the back of my toilet usually has a few music mags and maybe the New York Times book review and the latest copy of MYSTERY SCENE or something on it, as well as whatever non-fiction book I may be poking around in.

And this week, the star of the white porcelain altar is Dick Adlker's DREAMS OF JUSTICE, a generous sampling of his essays and reviews from over the last few years. Dick reviews crime fiction for the Chicago Tribune and other places, and he's definitely one of those critics whose reviews are worth savoring long after the books in question have been consigned to the remainder bins. That's because Dick is a man with opinions, and he has the balls and brain to voice them with wit and style and a fair amount of passion.

Subtitled "MYSTERIES AS SOCIAL DOCUMENT," the book (put out by Poisoned Pen) makes no effort to hide Dick's political or social sensibilities, but that's okay with me. Me, I like reviewers who dare to have opinions -- I'm sick to death of testicular-challenged wimps, particularly of the on-line variety, who call themselves reviewers but never say anything that might ever be construed as an actual opinion -- or even insight. They're too busy sucking up and ass-kissing, and think the be-all and end-all of a critic's life is to be blurbed. To hell with them.

But Dick's not one of those guys -- he plows his own path, and for those who believe, as he clearly does, that mysteries can be more than trifling literary diversions, he's left some mighty fertile ground churned up here. Divided into several thematic sections, Dick offers a little something for everyone: a tribute to Anthony Boucher, a look at biographies, and several overviews of assorted mysteries that share common characteristics. The chapter titles tell it all: "Better Red than Dead," "History as Mystery," "Brits Behaving Badly," and my favourite, "American Blood," wherein he takes a whirlwind social and cultural tour through the U.S. via mostly hard-boiled crime fiction, covering Archer Mayor (Vermont), Mark Arsenault (Massachusetts), George Pelecanos (D.C.), Sara Paretsky (Chicago), John Shannon (Los Angeles) and so on.

In every case, be it essay or review, Adler states his case and backs it up, with intelligence and integrity and enthusiasm and more than a little literary style of his own. The man simply has a way with words. Even better, he can spot those fellow travelers who also have a way with words, and he isn't afraid to let the world know about them. Which means that, agree with him or not, and regardless of the merit of the book in question, his reviews are worth reading on their own merit -- in my mind the ultimate compliment one can pay a critic.

And Adler is consistently one of the best. He does what only the best critics do -- he makes you see books (even those you've already read) in new and often wonderful and challenging ways.

The tone of the book is decidedly upbeat, then, with Adler championing those he believes are worthy -- a noble cause, indeed. Still, it might have been a bit more enlightening to read a few negative reviews, as well. Or a slightly more eclectic range of reviews. Adler's favourite authors tend to get multiple reviews, which is fine and dandy, but other equally talented writers writing in a similar thematic vein seem to fall through the cracks. As well, there are a few errors I hope were rectified before the final edition came out (For example, Vermont is NOT south of Boston, unless this global warming thing is really getting out of hand).

Still, minor gripes aside, if your TBR pile is already dangerously high and you believe that crime fiction can and perhaps even should do more than merely entertain, this book is a must to avoid.

Simply because I can't imagine any serious reader of crime fiction reading it and not immediately wanting to do a little more book hunting.

The Cult of Personality

Sure, it's easy to be glib and cynical and feel all superior and smug and pooh-pooh anyone who got suckered in by this Frey creep.

But fiction should be labelled "fiction."

Memoirs, biographies and autobiographies are "non-fiction." Saying we should expect them to be full of lies is saying that honesty doesn't matter. And that's just a reprehensible attitude, both morally and intellectually.

And forget this crap that all autobiographies are fiction. There's a world of difference between lies of omission and lies of commission, and any writer who presents a lie as the truth, as Frey did, is beneath contempt. And anybody who knowingly helped him perpetuate this fraud -- or makes excuses for him -- is just as much of a scumbag.

As for this JT Leroy brouhaha? Who cares if the novelist's public peresona is a hoax, or that it's a pen name? Would Hammett's books be any less of a joy were it revealed he was never a Pinkerton agent? Would Hemingway's works be any different were it revealed he used to wet the bed or liked to dress in his mother's clothes? Would I, THE JURY lose its impact were it revealed that Mickey Spillane and Sara Paretsky are the same person?

JT Leroy wrote FICTION. He never claimed to be writing a memoir -- even if his schtick helped sell those novels.

It would be different if he had billed his books as non-fiction. Were that the case, then the author should be horsewhipped. But they were billed as fiction, so those crying foul should be horsewhipped.

I mean, what part of "fiction" don't they understand?

And the whole "misappropriation of voice" is complete and utter bullshit. If a white suburban male wants to write a novel about being a black lesbian junkie hooker working the streets of some big city slum, or some black lesbian writer wants to write about an Italian-Jewish buffalo skinner in Manitoba in the 1880s, well, gee, it's fiction, people. Nobody, and certainly no community, "owns" a voice.

The only real sin would be getting a "voice' wrong. Which is why a novelist's personal experience isn't enough. You need research and empathy and imagination -- all of which trump mere "experience" anyday.

Sure, writing what you know is good -- if pointless -- advice, as far as it goes, but it's just a start. I don't wanna read what people know, because a lot of people don't know shit. Hammett's books are good because he was a good writer -- not because he worked for a while for the Pinks. I love Joe Gores' stuff, for example, and his years as a repo man give his DKA stories a veracity that adds considerable depth to them. But, were it to be revealed tomorrow that he never repossessed a car in his life, and that he'd found it all out through research, those stories would still kick ass.

Chandler and Macdonald were never P.I.s -- and their books aren't too shabby either (and for my money, I find Chandler, the former oil company executive, generally more believable than much of Hammett's work, whose plots occasionally read like hard-boiled cozies.

Write what you know, but even more than that, write what you think and feel and can imagine. And trust the art, not the artist, when it comes to fiction. Let's stop the author fetish now.

Who or what the author is shouldn't matter. It would be like not liking an actor's work because of the latest tabloid scandal or their politics. I mean, how shallow can you get? Does the fact Lennon was a cad and a jerk or McCartney a pretentious egomaniac change how good (or bad) their songs were? Let's pull the plug on the cult of personality.

Non-fiction is a different story. You're supposedly telling -- and selling -- the truth. If it's all based on a lie, then the hell with you. You wanna lie for a living, write fiction. Or run for political office.

And the hell with Oprah and the rest of the media for shamelessly playing along even after it was discovered Frey's book was bullshit. Frey should be shunned like the scumbag he is; not invited back to sit on talk show couches everywhere and weasel away. It's not news at this point-- it's merely cynical and shameless greed: promotion for the book and the selling of advertising space.

Truth matters. Life is not just dirt.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Un Canadien Errant

So, it's Tuesday, and I'm rambling around the house alone, catching up on odds and ends, drinking coffee, wondering if it's too early to have a beer (St. Pauli Girl, this week), listening to D.L's new Dar Williams album, where the lollipop-sucking one covers Neil Young's Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (surprisingly well, in fact) and wondering how many people realize Ol' Neil could have been writing at least partially about Southern California ("down here"), and pining for the Great White North?

(Anyone thinking Neil Young ain't no Canadian no more hasn't been paying attention. Like Ross Macdonald, another Canadian -- okay, half-Canadian -- who wandered down here and stayed, the innate sense of Canadianess prevails and pervades their work...)


I guess I'm just in a particularly Canadian state of mind today (like, what's new, eh?). My dad's in the hospital up there right now, having tests done, and I'm feeling very very far away, more than usual. And of course the Canadian Federal elections were last night (Yes, I was able to vote by mail).

The Conservative party won but, like the outgoing Liberal party it's displacing, they're going to be a minority government (those of you who live in two-party frick-or-frack country take note: in a multi-party democracy, it's possible to win an election without a majority of the votes -- you just have to get more ridings than anyone else). I wonder how long before the Conservatives shoot themselves in the foot? Not too long, I hope...

I guess that's good news -- but I really don't think the results should be taken as a sign of Canada's sudden political swing to the right, as some Associated Press reports would have it, as much as it's a sign of the frustration with -- and a series of scandals that have come to light among -- the Liberal Party. Most which occured under previous prime minister Chretien, not the outgoing Paul Martin who -- although not connected with the scandals, has had to bear the political taint.

If you add up the figures, more people voted for left-leaning (or at least moderate) parties than for the Conservatives. Added up, more people voted fro the Green Party, the Liberal party, the NDP (real deal lefties) and the separatist BlocQuebecois -- and none of them could really be considered small-c conservative.

Still, I'm distrustful of any government that wants to align itself too closely with the current American administration on such issues as Iraq, the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, and particularly the war on people they don't approve of: gays, marijuana smokers, poor people, unemployed people, pregnant people who don't want to be pregnant, immigrants, rabble rousers, journalists who aren't bought and paid for and other people who ask good questions, etc..

The bright light is that -- and this is ironic, coming form me -- the federal Conservatives also made inroads into Quebec, a sign that perhaps the support of sovereignity there is not as strong as the Separatists like to claim, although of course once again the Bloc took most of the federal ridings in Quebec (you think Canadian politics are tricky, you should try to figure out Quebec and particularly my beloved Montreal, where strategic voting has become an art).

I know, I know... all this is infinitely more fascinating to me than you, but I'm a hell of a long way from a brasserie where it can be properly discussed with wit and passion and informed argument and people order two draft at a time...

Here? I almost got into a bar fight a few years ago for the sin of being... Canadian. It's a scene I only imagined in my WIP, only to have it come true a few months later.

Truth is stranger, eh?


Okay, favourite P.I. novel of the last year?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Jim Hansen, the Muppet guy?

Okay, I was talking before about Joseph (NOT Jim) Hansen, who wrote the acclaimed series featuring private eye Dave Brandstetter. These were simply some of the best P.I. novels of the seventies and eighties, possibly the tightest, most terse P.I. novels this side of Hammett. Hansen had a way with tight-lipped prose you hardly ever see these days. The fact they're out of print is, well, almost criminal.

Of course, the same could be said for writers like Michael Collins, Stephen Greenleaf, Jonathan Valin and a slew of others, but I can't help but wonder how much more it hurts the books' reprint chances that Hansen's P.I. was openly and unapologetically gay. But it gets worse -- not only was he gay, but he was also (and this may be what really scares some folks) normal and well-adjusted and could pass for any middle-aged guy on your street. No nipple clamps, leather diapers or feather boas for Dave.

I suspect that publishers, always a skittish lot, think a lot of people these days are uncomfortable with (or even terrified of) the idea of a gay protagonist who isn't a lisping, scenery-chewing leather freak caricature straight out of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES. I'm not so sure, though -- after all, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN ain't exactly hurtin' at the box office.

Could it be that Americans in real life are a lot more tolerant and accepting and adult than some Jesus-humping politicians and news channels give them credit for? Or is BROKEBACK just a good movie?


Bill recommended Walter Satterthwait's PERFECTION as "a different take on the serial killer novel."

Well, it was different -- it was more imaginative than most -- but there was a disapointing predictability that crawled into it after a while, and the potential for a blackly humourous look at our obsessions with food and weight and body image were largely dropped after a glorious start, resorting to the same old alternating viewpoint cat-and-mouse between cops and killer, and all the goatee-scratching psychobabble from profilers we've come to expect in the genre. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoyed the book, but I feel Walter just scratched the surface of a great premise.

I guess I'll have to wait for the big Broadway musical to come out.... with such showstoppers as "The First Cut is the Deepest" and "Tonight I Met the Girl I'm Gonna Murder" and the big dance number "Mind If I Cut In?"


Canadian beer?

Where? What kind?

I must admit, my last trip back home had me trying to consume as many quality microbrews as possible, but now that I'm back in the land that God Gave to Rattlesnakes and SUVs, the closest to a Canadian brew available is Labatt's Blue, Moosehead or Molson Canadian. The local Vons used to carry several of the Unibroue microbrews (straight outta Chambly, Quebec where I grew up) but that was pre-grocery strike. Now they carry, almost literally, shit.

Okay, Blue, Moosehead et al aren't really that bad (and as Spenser once opined, "Any beer in the fridge when the stores are closed is good beer"... or something like that). Decent beer but hardly really exciting stuff. My favourite generic sorta Canadian beer was Molson Export which, ironically, they don't export anywhere. It's not a real heavy ale, but it's a good reliable "split a 2-4 during Hockey Night in Canada and let's order an extra-large all-dressed" beer.

In fact, it's sorta sad that Molson, North America's (and possibly even one of the world's) oldest breweries, was recently bought out by Coors.

But by god I'd love a "gros Mol" right now. Or a St. Amboise or a Boreale Rousee or a Griffon or even a Blanche de Chambly...

Hmmm... anyone contemplating going to Bloody Words, the Canadian Mystery conf in Toronto this June? I'm on the fence about this one... convince me.

Oh, and for those of you who can't get enough of me... get a life!!! What's wrong with you?

Or tune in to DetecToday next Sunday, January 29th, 2PM Pacific / 5PM Eastern for a live chat.

Topics, according to Gerald So, Detec's own He-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and TD's two-fisted fiction editor, will include "the new issue of Thrilling Detective, all Kevin wanted for Christmas, crime fiction, TV, movies, and (my twin) Tom Selleck."

I'll supply the cyber-beer. Someone else should bring the cyber-munchies, though...

And what have you guys been reading?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Found Art and Lost Causes

What the hell was I thinking? This blogging's hard work...

Mind you, part of it is my return from exile, and my wanting to catch up and comment on EVERYTHING. And I'm still hooked on discussion lists, where you stumble upon the most peculiar comment, such as:

"In my opinion, a review should never be a persuasive argument for or against a book. The book review should accurately report what happens in the book and how the story, characters, etc. are constructed. "


"That pedophilia is family-related is a vicious lie foisted upon the American public by the left in order to demean the importance of family.

The same is true of incest."

Words to live by, indeed.


By now, I guess some of you know the latest (and very late) issue of the THRILLING DETECTIVE WEB SITE is up, and the 2005 THRILLIES are rolling along.

If you haven't voted yet on your choices for the best (and worst) of the year in P.I. fiction (or thought of something else), feel free to go to the site and vote. Or send comments here.

Some of the surprises so far: some people really think Robert Parker is over-rated, while at least one stalwart thinks he's under-rated, at least critically. And who'da thunk someone dissing good ol' Steve Hamilton could inspire such spontaneous passion in his defense. Looks like my most over-rated and under-rated categories are goinjg to get a good workout this year.

And even though the THRILLIES are just beginning, I'm struck by how few P.I. -related films or TV shows there are these days. It's particularly interesting because there seem to be tons of P.I. books out there these days.


Still plowing my way through a few private eye novels. Lambda-winner Anthony Bidulka's Russel Quant may be the world's first Saskatoon private eye but, disappointingly, TAPAS ON THE RAMBLAS takes place on a Meditteranean cruise.

But I'm encouraged by the discovery of another gumshoe from the Prairies: Eddie Dancer, who makes his debut in Mike Harrison's ALL SHOOK UP, and works the mean streets of Calgary. I'll have to track down a copy of that one, I guess.

And while I'm on the topic of Canadian gumshoes, I guess I should mention John F. Parker's COME CLEAN, which introduces Vancouver dick (and ex-Mountie) Kevin J. Porter. Unfortunately (even if it is just coincidence) COME CLEAN shares more than a few plot similarities with Walter Satterwait's enjoyable but flawed PERFECTION, which I just read a while back (and which itself shares more than a few unfortunate plot points with far too many other serial killer novels).

Is it just me, or is the entire serial killer genre one of the most conservative, formula-bound and often downright silly sub-genres in the entire field of mystery? With its featherweight motives ("What motive? we don' need no steenkin' motive. He's crazy!"), ridiculous deductions ("He only kills left-handed people with red-hair, therefore his mother must be left-handed and have red hair and have abused him.") and some of the most pretentious psychobabble this side of CSI, it's like pornographic cozies for those who get their jollies reading graphic (and lovingly detailed) scenes of violence. Snuff films for those too shy to rent them.


Hats off to The Hip. A late Christmas gift finally found its way here, and it's a good one. YER FAVOURITES is a two-disc, fan-picked best-of that collects 35 of the Canadian rock band's best-loved tunes (and two new ones), ranging from acoustic ballads to raunchy grungy roadhouse blues. Passionate, literate and enigmatic, imagine a two-fisted Michael Stipe fronting the Stones, circa 1965. And for this homesick Canuck, their defiant, unrepentant Canadianism is a blast from home. The ghost of Peter Gsowski walks the land with a Fender jacked up to eleven.


Also in the slot: The BORN TO RUN 30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION boxed set is essentially the same CD it's always been (no bonus tracks), but with a couple of bonus DVDs, one an illuminating but long-winded documentary of the making of the album (Clarence and Springsteen worked sixteen hours straight to nail down the JUNGLELAND sax solo, Miami Steve SANG the horn parts for 10th AVENUER FREEZEOUT to the Becker Brothers, Springsteen -- surprise, surprise, was a "little obsessed" during the making of the album) and a really poorly shot film of what looked like a really good concert in England right after the CD came out in 1975. Perhaps the concert DVD shoulda been released as an audio-only flipside -- so we could really pay attention to the music and not be distracted by those awkward camera angles and the Boss' unfortunate choice in haberdashery (Badly drawn Boy wants it back).


Bon Jovi? BON JOVI? Time to get off the Tilt-a-Whirl before your shirt gets caught, Dave.

Aldo. Stop thinking about my thighs.

And Twist? I'll be the guy with training wheels on, huffing and puffing...

R.J. It's pretty clear how King fucked with us in COLORADO KID, if you read it. But to tell you, if you haven't read it, would ruin it for you. I dunno -- am I the only one who thinks King succeeded pretty well at what he was trying to do? Unfortunately, most of the reviews seem to have missed the point King was trying to make, slamming him for the very things he deliberately set out to do. Or is it a simple case of them all jumping on the "Let's Bash a Big Name" bandwagon?

One of the best books of the year? No.

But certainly one of the more notable ones, and possibly even an important one, and one that should have kicked off a much more involved discussion about storytelling, plots, and why we read mysteries than we got. Best books are all predictably terrific in the same way, whereas notable books -- those that don't quite do it but are nonetheless fascinating and worth reading -- are all unique

But the big discussion never came about. Instead, the book slipped more or less away, leaving a lot of critics jumping all over each other, seemingly trying to outdo each other in bashing King, without once demonstrating that they had any inkling of what he was actually trying to do.

Or, in some cases, judging by some of the glaring factual errors about the book I've seen, that they'd even read the book. Many of the reviews, particularly online, seemed not to have been written so much as photocopied -- regurgitations of other reviews, which themselves may have been regurgitated -- which may explain how so many errors in on-line reviews, which are rarely edited, get passed around. And around. And around.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Beast is Unleashed, plus Happiness is a Warm Gunn

Well-a well-a I'm-a havin' uh, nervous breakdown...

Not really, but it has been a hectic few days so far, running around the Antelope Valley doing things I'd rather not have to do, just to keep the wheels turning. And of course it's always fun to have an excuse to drop a few Eddie Cochran lyrics.

And all that running around finally ended and freed up enough time for me to do what I've really wanted to do for what seems like weeks-- get that damn white whale of a web site's latest issue done.

Yes, the new issue of THE THRILLING DETECTIVE WEB SITE is, finally, belatedly and with much apology to all concerned, up. Amends will be made.

The Divine Ms. Sarah Weinman (I hear she might have a blog somewhere) makes her Thrilling debut with "Out of Clay," which introduces a new gumshoe with a hell of a partner, Mike MacLean's ethics-free P.I. makes us all feel dirty all over again in "Little Sins,", we present our annual Christmas Gift Guide (now about as useless as tits on a bull, as my dad would say, but still, hopefully entertaining, and last but not least, we gird our loins, cry havoc and let loose the Annual Cheap Thrill Awards, where we salute the best (and kneecap the worst) of P.I. fiction in 2005.

There will be daily updates for a while, as well, so keep an eye peeled...(And I've NEVER understood that phrase. Doesn't it sound REALLY painful?)

But anyway, to mark the occasion, we had a decent supper last night (shrimp scampi and pasta) and later just lay in bed snuggling, me and She, while the desert wind blew and the coyotes howled, watching -- get ready for it -- episodes of PETER GUNN. (And thank you to NetFlix for making it possible.)

A few days back, I blogged about how ROCKFORD was the greatest P.I. TV show ever (and I'll stand by that, except on the days I'm in a HARRY-O mood), but PETER GUNN is definitely number three, not just because it had a great theme or was very influential (Hell, the dreadfully uneven and gimmicky 77 SUNSET STRIP was also vastly influential).

No, what really makes PETER GUNN is the way it had its own style, some truly great characters and some incredibly tight writing (Mind you, with only a half hour to tell a tale, it had to).

Style? Let's not beat around the bush. Craig Stevens, as Gunn, was about as GQ as you got on television in those days. The original sharp-dressed P.I.

Lord knows I wouldn't know fashion if it came up and spit on my shoe, but even I noticed that Gunn always looked good, stylish but not showy, always well-tailored in a buttoned-down-but-don't-mess-with-me air that was just right for hangin' around all those jazzbo clubs.

Okay, maybe it wasn't cutting edge make your brain bleed jazz, but still there was something undeniably and really COOL about PETER GUNN. Before that, P.I.'s were just not that cool on TV. Oh, they tried (Richard Diamond had a car phone) and the boys at 77 Sunset hung around Dino's, but they simply had no style. I mean, MARTIN KANE? BOSTON BLACKIE? Ralph "Snooze Alarm" Bellamy in MAN AGAINST CRIME? Definitely not cool. But Peter Gunn was -- in spades.

And he had one of the best girlfriends any P.I. ever had: sweet, smart, sexy Edie Hart, the chick crooner at Mother's, Pete's favourite jazz haunt. In early shows, admittedly, Edie was a bit of a drip, a cloying "marry me, marry me, let's have kids" type, but she soon evolved. Playful, flirty -- but never dumb -- it was clear to anyone that Pete and Edie were "together" and enjoying an adult relationship. (And a rare, Edie-less show which had Pete looking at another woman drew severe -- and instant -- condemnation from D.L. -- that's how likable Edie was).

Also surprising for the era was how violent it could be. People were hurt in this show, quickly and brutally at times -- occasionally even by Pete. These streets (wherever they were supposed to be -- LA? New York? Pittsburgh?) were actually mean. The plots? Surprisingly clever, with twists that assumed viewers were paying attention, compared to other detective shows of the time (I mean, how much writing did it take for Kookie to comb his hair?).

There are (so far) two two-disk collections of Gunn released on DVD. We've only watched one disk -- and the others just moved way up on our NetFlix queue.

Next time: The Tragically Hip, Springsteen, Marlowe's Guide to Life and some other stuff I haven't thought of yet.

Monday, January 09, 2006

"I ain't no spandexbutt..."

Stephen wrote:

"I saw a screening of A Dangerous Female about 10 years ago. Amazing, and a little disturbing what they were doing before the movie codes."

And I say:

Disturbing? I dunno. Sometimes you have to (sorry, in advance) call a Spade a Spade -- and it wasn't really any racier than the book, was it? By the way, I think the film only became "A Dangerous Female" when the Huston version came out -- although I could be -- and frequently am -- mistaken.

"Spade comes off as an asshole. Bogart really added a lot of humanity to the character that Cortez just couldn't begin to muster."

Granted, the Huston version did have better actors, and there was something a little too slimy about Spade, but many of the performances were carbon copies of the earlier film, right down to the emphasis on certain syllables and camera angles. It would be interesting to see a point-by-point comparison. Maybe someone will do one at Bouchercon or something, one day...

And Guyot? Yep, biking. Although I ain't no spandexbutt... Sure, I wrote a column for the local sports gimme on biking for a while, but the truth is: I just like to ride. Even in the bikophobic Antelope Valley where he-man SUV drivers feel threatened by little ol' bikers despise me for daring to be on THEIR roads, to the point where they throw things or crawl up right behind me and give me a long, loud blast of their airhorns...Ah, the hilarity and playfulness of the rednecked mouthbreather in his natural habitat...

I used to do Montreal's Tour de l'Ile (now there's a bike-friendly town) and once upon a time, I convinced a wife to join me in bike camping around the Maritimes, but these days I just bike (weather permitting) to work and back, and try to do ten miles a day (again, weather permitting),

a) to keep in some kind of shape (these days, possibly pear);


b) because it's fun.

And maybe this year, I'll do a little solo bike camping (no way THIS wife will ever be conned into it).

And J.J. said:

"... your write-up on Scott Wolven is dead nuts on."

While I'm disturbed at your casual dismissal of my testicular vitality, I am relieved (I think) that someone else thought CONTROLLED BURN was something special. THRILLING DETECTIVE must have been one of the first e-zines to run a Wolven piece, and I'd read a few pieces since then, but CONTROLLED BURN was something else again, one of the best collections I've read in a long time -- powerful and literate (but never pretentious) blue collar noir that works its way into your gut like a splinter.

It's one of the things I love about writing reviews for JANUARY and THE RAP SHEET (possibly my favourite crime mag, even if I didn't occasionally toss in a few pieces) -- how crime fic editor Jeff Pierce lets me blither on about not just all these books that everybody is talking about, but also how he lets me cut loose on more obscure books I think they SHOULD be talking about (or avoiding like the plague).

Like, I think Brad Smith's BUSTED FLUSH was a real keeper, a warm, good-natured romp (imagine Hiaasen without the occasional meanness) about a ne'er-do-well carpenter who discovers a horde of Civil War memorabilia and a possible actual recording of Lincoln giving the Gettysburg address.

Not that everything I listed in JANUARY's Year-End lists was obscure -- I also really liked stuff by Stephen King (am I the only one who liked the sheer ballsy audacity of THE COLORADO KID and the way King deliberately -- and with malice aforethought -- fucked with us?), Robert Parker, Laura Lippman and Elmore Leonard.

And right now, I'm reading a few gay Canadian P.I. mysteries for a possible column or review (or maybe I'll just spray paint it on a wall somewhere), a couple of titles suggested by a pal/client of mine, Josh Lanyon, who has a new book, THE HELL YOU SAY, the third in his Aidrian English series, coming out soon himself. (By the way, Josh is not Canadian.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah... gay P.I. mysteries. So far, Joseph Hansen's tough, terse Dave Brandstetter series is still the one to beat, but it's good, as always, to see other writers still assaulting the citadel.

Ooops, there's the Bat Signal.. gotta go. Alfred, where are my tights?

Friday, January 06, 2006

You Say, I Say (Comments on comments)

Oh, boy...

My on-going e-mail problems (thanks for nothing, SBCGlobal, the world's most unhelpful ISP) seem to have suddenly, almost miraculously fixed themselves in a big way, a few weeks after I was told there was nothing they could do -- I've suddenly got 700 pieces of mail to read.

If any of you have written to me in the last month or so, and not received a response, it might be a good idea to re-send it. As reported elsewhere, my December was a hellhole from which I'm only now digging myself out of, a few weeks where everything from work to wahoo went wonky. Modems died, e-mail servers turned belly-up, the new issue of the site got postponed about twenty times, Christmas gifts vanished, the plague settled in, our TV died, blah blah blah poor poor pitiful me and all that... but as I said, I think I see light at the end of the tunnel... or maybe it's the Double E.

So while I'm downloading all those messages (and hoping it's mostly spam), I'll do a little blogging. She Who Must Be Obeyed says I should really blog something at least once a day, at least at first, just to make sure people check me out regularly so, uh, here goes.... with my first ever You Say I Say blog...

Dave the Skib said;

"It's so geat to have a daily dose of your pisser personality. I was missing it on Wicked. Things were just getting too tame over there, and you're the reason I joined that group. So don't let any of the whiners rein you in, continue ypour rants, and let the chips fall where they may."

And I say:

Chips? You're soaking in them.

And Stephen wrote:

"Haven't seen the new Kong, yet, but I have to wonder have there been any remakes better than the originals? I don't mean prettier, or with better production value, and bigger monsters, but truer to the story, or a better telling of it."

And I say:

That's so easy. THE MALTESE FALCON, 1941, directed by John Huston. You may have heard of it. Anyway, it was the third adaptation of Hammett's book. And by far the best, although the first adaptation seems to have been cannibalized for parts by Huston. Some of the scenes are duplicated line for line and camera angle for camera angle in the 1941 version, which really puts the boots to the lie that Huston write the screenplay by having his secretary just type up the novel.

And David from Pamama (Say "Hey!" to Ruthie!) wrote:

"Jim Rockford? No question, the best. I've read that the character came out of Garner's playing Marlowe. Is that true?"

And I say:

Possibly, although I was always a little ambivalent about that film (Still, I'd love to have it on DVD). I actually thought, in a weird way, that Elliott Gould in Altman's LONG GOODBYE was closer to what an updated Marlowe would be like, and somewhat truer to Marlowe's essence. Garner's Marlowe was just a little too smug/slick and confident.

And nobody could ever do Rockford without re-imagining the character completely, or settling for imitating Garner -- because Rockford was totally built around Garner's screen persona which he'd carefully developed over the years -- you know, that shifty, slightly cowardly reluctant hero we all have come to know and love.

So, if you ask me, I think Rockford's character probably owes more to Brett Maverick and Sherrif Nichols and Garner's character in THE GREAT ESCAPE than Marlowe, per se, although it's obvious Huggins and Cannell know their Chandler. Like, in the episode "EXIT PRENTISS CARR," it's no coincidence the town Jimbo visits that's full of corrupt and/or incompetent cops is called... Bay City.

Hmmm... 734 messages (and counting), some of them dating back weeks, plenty of duplicates and messages I seem to have already received...


Three "Open letters to Osama Bin Laden" (Darn, I hate getting mail addressed to other internationally wanted bad guys...)
Seventeen messages asking "Do You Have a Web Site?" (Sometimes I wish I knew the answer to THAT one)
Several with such enticing subject heads as "gewgaw Pharamaceutiucal," "blanch Jain," "Make Her Screeeeeammmm !!!!!," "Your account's securitty has been tampperd with," "The widow of the late finance minister of Southern Ooby Dooby wishes to discuss a private business transaction with you" and the ever-popular "楽しいひと時すごしません?"
I mean, who could resist opening (and responding to) such obviously important mail?

And "Haircare for U"? If I had an actual hair for every piece of spam I've received from these people I might actually be in the market for haircare products. As it is, I can make a bottle of shampoo last for years...

Anyhoo, my apologies to everyone who thinks I'm some sort of Cyber Garbo, not answering their mail... I'll try to sort this all out.

Other thrilling news from KevWorld:

My respects to the late, great Dennis Lynds are paid in the latest MYSTERY SCENE, currently available at finer bookstores, magazine stands and bowling alleys everywhere. Also included: my annual list of gift suggestions (it's never too late to start shopping for next year...)

Meanwhile, several reviews of mine are included in January Magazines BEST OF and REST OF lists at Read 'em and weep. Or sleep. Or something...

And the site is slowly (oh so slowly) coming together...

And this just in... the new Deets Shanahan, from Ronald Tierney. I'm really looking forward to hooking up again with Deets. He's always been about my favourite "old dick" -- imagine Rocky, not Jim, as the P.I. in the family.

And Dick Adler's new book of reviews... I'll get back to you on that one.

Oh, the Isley Brothers' "SHOUT" just came up on shuffle play... gotta go.

Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey....

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Ticked and the Tickled, and Other Assorted Monkey Business for Me to be Involved In...

Sorry, folks, for stooping to what some of you call politics.

But actually, I really don't see it as politics at all. I see FOX (and particularly O'Reilly) as being objectionable not on political left/right lines but more on intelligent/dumbed-down-for-the-mouthbreathers lines.

I mean -- what O'Reilly (and a depressing number of "commentators") offer is not news; it's opinion, and pretty specious, inflammatory opinion at that; opinion built not on fact but on self-serving pre-conceived opinions/biases and deliberate distortions of the truth; a smug, anti-intellectual stance that mocks anyone who thinks for themself -- or doesn't belong to the proper group.

The simple fact is that, out in the real world, there simply is NO evidence of any widespread war on Christmas -- just a few ill-tempered cranks on either side trying to create molehills out of mountains. And there is enough real and important news, both good and bad, to report on, without resorting to -- and exploiting (and devoting major air time) to -- a minor controversy between a few zealots and a few puffed-up self-righteous blowhards.

Most of us in the real world, regardless of our assorted religious/political/social beliefs, celebrate or otherwise mark the holidays in some fashion, and most of us do tend to wish one another, particularly at this time of year, best wishes and good health and peace on earth and all that stuff, no matter what words we choose to use. And we accept those wishes from others, regardless of what words they use, in the same fashion, in the spirit in which they were intended.

Where I come from the proper response to "Merry Christmas" or "Joyeux Noel" or "Happy Holidays" is not "FUCK YOU!" (Here's a factoid from the frontlines: I work with the public and must have wished several hundred folks some form of holiday wishes over the last month or so -- and not one of them took my remarks in any sort of spirit other than that in which they were intended.).

What O'Reilly and his ilk (on both sides) do, though, is take those honest and sincere wishes and spit on them, seeking the high ground of self-righteous victimhood, all the better to look down upon their alleged persecutors. Which is, ironically, totally against the spirit of the season -- and of the god -- in which he and many of his slack-jawed disciples allegedly believe.

Or did I miss out on "The Gospel According to O'Reilly," also known as "Jesus: The Bully Boy Hectoring-Everyone-I-Disagree-With Years"?

But I digess...

Guyot, I don't want to be guilty of being a boring-ass blogger, so I'll try not to get too "political." And I'd probably never tell you to go blow yourself.

But have a few beers when you're in L.A.? Sure, sign me up. Drop me a line.

The 10th to the 20th? Well, I'm free the 10th, the 11th, the 16th and the 18th for sure (weekends are sorta tough this month). Anyone for an afternoon or early evening weekday romp somewhere in LA (contact me off-list)? Maybe we can establish a sort of of monthly Thrilling Detective/Rara Avis/Detec Today West Coast social event, possibly occasionally tied in with visiting authors and other miscreants from the hardboiled/noir/P.i. world?

I'm the world's worst organizer -- ask D.L., ask Gerald, ask anyone -- but I do love having a few beers with friends. Let's do this. Round up the usual suspects, drop me a line...

And, moving right along, while a good chunk of you seem ticked off (or just tickled) that I got "political," didn't anyone read past my mini-rant?

I mean, this blog is allegedly about crime and mystery fiction (I think), and I did mention THE ROCKFORD FILES and 1001 MIDNIGHTS, two very fertile grounds for discussion (or at least comment) I thought.

Does EVERYONE AGREE that Rockford was the #1 TV P.I.? Can't anyone (besides me) make a case for Harry O? Or Mannix? Or even Magnum, P.U.?

And how about 1001 MIDNIGHTS? Was I TOO HARSH on Bill and Marcy? Or too lenient?

I await your comments -- operators are standing by.

And as for my tease about King Kong, Joe Kubert and finally doing Tarzan right -- here goes.

Saw KING KONG with D.L. the other day. We both loved it, thought it was great dumb (but not too dumb) fun. Okay, there were a few flaws -- at least one too many dinosaur fights and the bug scene was just overkill -- too gross and not serving the plot in any feasible way. But the human interaction? Man, what gonzo casting! Jack Black was perfectly imperfect, and Adrian Brody was just great, the wimpy writer with the heart of the lion. Everyone was just slightly miscast to perfection. And Ms. Watts? You don't have to be a big ape to fall for her. That schtick where she juggles and dances for Mr. K? Pure brilliance. As my pal Mark Sullivan pointed out, "Some of the best stuff was the interaction between her and the ape."

And writing wise, I thought the idea of doing a remake by filling in the front story, not re-doing the ending, was a wise choice.

This sets a new standard for remakes of well-loved classics, if you ask me. And it got me to thinking, especially when I saw Kong moving through the jungle like the wild beast he's supposed to be, that maybe it's about time somebody did a Tarzan movie that didn't suck, one that's true to the spirit of the books and character that Edgar Rice Burroughs created about ninety years ago.

Johnny Weissimuller? The Ah-nold of his day, and about as good an actor. Ron Ely? Nice hair, good teeth, safe to leave children around. The recent Disney all-singing, all-dancing Bambi-with-loincloth travesty? YUCK!!!! Not that all the Tarzan flicks have been dreadful, but there just hasn't been a really good one for a long long time.

Nope, we're about due for a big budget big screen Tarzan that does it right, and I think Peter Jackson, if he can rein in his excesses (did LOTR III ever really end?), might be the man to do it.

Because, up until now, the only really good adaptation (at least in my lifetime) of Tarzan I can think of is artist/writer Joe Kubert's adaptation for DC Comics back in the seventies, a landmark work that really captured the sheer visceral energy and passion of Burrough's original.

Kubert, for my money, did by far the best comic Tarzan, even better than such legendary artists as Hogarth or Manning or Foster. Kubert's Tarzan was feral and savage and dark to the point of noir -- and you can see that for yourself in the two new hard-bound collections that just came out, that collect all his Tarzan work for DC (including his adaptations of Burroughs' original TARZAN OF THE APES and THE RETURN OF TARZAN). Those scenes in the brush where just the whites of Tarzan's eyes glare from out of the darkness... that's the sort of visual, visceral whallop only the very best comics and movies can deliver.

And for fans of Joe Kubert, you should also be on the lookout for a new Sgt. Rock mini-series (from DC of course) that starts this month, written and drawn by Joe. Evidently, it all has something to do with protecting Vatican treasures or something from the Nazis (or is it Tom Hanks?) and might be really interesting -- there's that same sense of barely contained violence in the best of Kubert's war comic work that recalls his Tarzan.

I can just see it now: "KREEGAH!!! SGT. ROCK BUNDOLO!!!"

Yeah, maybe, if Jackson ever does KONG, he can hire Kubert to do the art direction -- or at least the poster.

Oh, and the Beer of the Day?

Afflgem Blond Ale, courtesy of some crazy but happenin' Belgian monks. Got a bit of a bite to it, one of those aggressively yeasty ales you can't really drink out of the bottle because of all the lees. Definitely a sipping beer, but a tasty one, one not afraid to taste like beer. Might go well with some good cheese and some crackers...

Hmmm... well, that's number three let loose on the world. I hope I passed the audition.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

It's ALIVE!!!!

Looks like I've created a monster.

Hand out the torches and the pitchforks. Just in case...

I blogged it, and they came. And came and came. Seventeen comments so far...

Ooops. Eighteen.

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."

Twenty comments...

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...

Sunday, January 01, 2006

What if they gave a blog and nobody came?

Well, it's here, the first ever Thrilling Detective Blog, a companion piece of sorts to the cyber wreckage that has become my life.

For those of you who don't know me, the name's Kevin Burton Smith, and my chief claim to fame is being the editor/founder of The Thrilling Detective Web Site ( ).

Thrilling Detective started out almost as a joke about eight years ago, a way for a recently turfed-out graphic designer to practise html. I figured a faux web site about one of my obsessions (private eye fiction) would be a good way to get the hang of creating web sites, since I'd just landed a client who wanted me to whip up a web site for them (I said, "Sure, pas de probleme." Even though, at the time, I didn't even have a modem and wasn't even quite sure what the internet was...)

Anyway, that tiny, fledgling web site with three or four pages became something else -- a monster of sorts with over 2000 different entries on various fictional private eyes and other tough guys and gals, a time-chomping, energy-sucking killing machine that's pulled me in, and still shows no signs of letting go. It lead me, eventually, to writing articles, reviews and short fiction that people actually paid me for, it lead me to editing prize-winning fiction and even a book of private eye short stories, it brought me to moderating panels at major mystery conventions, it introduced me to new friends and brought me, eventually, kicking and screaming, to a new life, in Southern California.

And I still can't let go.

But something else happened along the way, as well. People began to pay attention to my scatter-brained opinions. And get really pissed off -- sometimes inexplicably so. I've been vilified by people for daring to post unpopular opinions -- or at least opinions unpopular with them. I've had my death wished for publicly (Hah-hah, big joke) on the biggest mystery list there is, a list I was kicked off of at least twice, in very public fashion. I've been insulted by power-hungry little Hitlers posing as list "moderators" and berated by "published authors" who were only ever published because they paid someone a lot of money. I've been attacked by alleged critics ("number one" and otherwise) who haven't read the books they're trumpeting or have displayed all the critical taste and judgement of a five-buck Texas crack whore. I've been threatened by corrupt little POD and vanity press leeches whose slimy little scams ("Enter our contest! Become a best-selling author!") I've exposed to the light of day.

Some days it seemed all I could hear was the twisiting of panties -- as the self-appointed mavens of mystery had their undergarments undergo radical (and in my opinion, long-overdue) misalignment. All because of some little thing I said.

But the hell with them. The hell with them all.

Good writing matters. Just as honesty and integrity matter. As hard work matters. As intelligence matters.

Brown-nosing, ass-kissing, incestuous Pollyanna group-hugs, dumbing down, shrill incessant BSP -- all the things the fat white complacent worms of far too many mystery writing and reading lists seem to thrive on -- they all have their place in publishing, too. But I remain convinced they'll never trump good writing.

And, despite the weasels and evil mothers out there who will tell you life is just dirt, there are -- fortunately -- plenty of people who do agree with me, people who value the same things I do. And in the last year or so, faint, half-whispered suggestions from these writers and editors and wives and friends -- people whose works and deeds I respect and have enjoyed through the years -- have swelled into a thundering chorus, and it goes: "You, of all people, Kevin, should do a blog."

Well, I'm tired of coming up with excuses for not doing it. I have no idea if I'm going to be merely preaching to the converted or simply ticking off the perverted even more -- or even if anyone will even bother to read this. But I'm going to give it a shot.

Yeah. Me. Of all people.

What will this blog be about? I really have no idea. I'll speak the truth, at least as I see it -- that's a given. And I'll probably make a fool of myself at times, as well (that's a REAL given). I'll talk about what turns my crank, and what makes me want to spit. I'll talk about the usual suspects: books, film, rock'n'roll, comics, television, writing, reading, heroes, zeroes, good guys, bad guys and everything else. I'll welcome comments, and I'll admit when I'm wrong (it always amazes me how many people think that I think I'm infallible). I'm not sure where we'll end up, but it should be a hell of a ride.

Hop in.