Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 In Which

I took up tea drinking with committed passion ... became a walking enthusiast, finding a renewed energy ... more actively invested in politics by challenging our elected officials on a regular basis ... improved my backgammon game via the computer—also playing chess with a co-worker ... published my novella The Drifter Detective: Torn and Frayed ... had eighty of my articles (devoted to books and movies) published at Macmillan's Criminal Element ... re-familiarized myself with Algebra ... delighted in the eighth year of BEAT to a PULP as one of its creative best ... and savored every minute of the year that I could with my charmers, Ava & Denise.

Now I raise a toast to all of you, my friends, wishing you a Happy New Year!

Razored Bliss

Over at Charles Gramlich's Razored Zen blog he picked two BEAT to a PULP's titles among his favorite reads of 2016: Garnett Elliott's Carnosaur Weekend and my own Torn and Frayed. How cool is that, right? Thanks, Charles!

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Duel (2016)

Texas Ranger David Kingston (Liam Hemsworth) is sent to a town along the Rio Grande to see if Abraham Brant, aka The Preacher (Woody Harrelson), is responsible for a series of murders. "By some strange twist of fate" as David tells his wife Marisol (Alice Braga) Brant is the man that killed his father twenty-two years earlier in a knife duel that the young David witnessed. Similar in that regard to 2014's The Dark Valley where a revenge-seeking son takes on a man who has immersed himself as a god of sorts holding an almost mystical trance over the citizens.

Yes, it's all been done to death before and a whole lot better than this tired Western. The opening knife fight was well executed making me cringe with the sounds of blade penetrating flesh but the story just plods on and on. I did appreciate Hemsworth's character as an honorable man willing to bring Brant to justice, which is a refreshing return to the old days. But here's another tale where a so called religious man spouts the word of God for his own selfish interests. C'mon on Hollywood, give that trope a merciful death already.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Dark Valley (2014)

A tight-lipped stranger by the name of Greider (Sam Riley) rides into a town in the Austrian Alps. He wants to stay for the winter but the townsfolk, at first, tell him to get along until they learn he is a photographer with a daguerreotype camera. He ends up rooming with a widowed woman and her daughter and witnesses how the entire town is under the control of an old man named Brenner and his six ruthless sons. When two die under mysterious circumstances suspicion falls on Greider especially after the one is found with nails in his eyes—nails like Greider was seen purchasing at the town store. He goes into hiding and his family's connection to the remote town is revealed before, yes, you guessed it, the climatic shoot-out. A dour, slow moving German film (subtitled but easy to read) that I enjoyed though there's nothing new here other than its stunning locale.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Purity in Death by J.D. Robb

At Criminal Element they are reviewing the entire J.D. Robb Eve Dallas series. I decided to jump in on a few and first up is Purity in Death.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Twelve Miles

I've managed to walk twelve miles since Friday evening. Usually I do a mile and then come back to my desk, get some writing done, and then walk another lap a few hours later. That's probably going to slow down to just a mile a day over this next busy week. Still, it feels good to exercise, get the blood pumping.

Any other walkers out there?

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Day

It has been a spectacular Christmas for our daughter as she opened present after present and we shall see which gift steals the show. There's always one, right? Oh, and both my charmers surprised me with my very own TARDIS and The Fourth Doctor's scarf. Yeah, they know me pretty well. Hope all you friends out there are having a top day! Now where's that eggnog...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Very Best

For those who celebrate Christmas, I wish you the very best the holiday has to offer and I hope the eggnog is spiked to your satisfaction.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Jane Got A Gun (2016)

In 1871's New Mexico Territory, Jane Hammond's (Natalie Portman) husband Bill (Noah Emmerich) returns home from having been bullet riddled by the revenge seeking Bishop Boys (Ewan McGregor, Boyd Holbrook). After stabilizing him, she gets her young daughter to safety and seeks out assistance from an old boyfriend, Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton), who at first is reluctant to help, still smarting from losing her years before. He eventually does and through well-sprinkled flashbacks we learn about their relationship and why the Bishops are seeking to kill Jane's husband in the first place.

This film opened to mixed reviews and died at the box office but don't let that discourage you from watching one of the best Western action movies of recent memory led by Ms. Portman in a memorable performance. From a tear-stained face as she says goodbye to her little girl to the steel in her eyes as she guns down a gunslinger, she puts her stamp on the genre as an intelligent, complicated protagonist. And in an era where the emphasis has turned to revisionism or hybrid Westerns, damn if it isn't nice to have straightforward storytelling with a climax that actually delivers the goods. Jane Got a Gun may have had a troubled, lackluster start but this film will age well.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Django (1966)

A classic that still kicks ass half a century later and still inspiring tributes like Quentin Tarentino's Django Unchained (2012) though all pale in comparison to this spaghetti Western that was itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (1961). Franco Nero is Django who is first seen dragging a coffin near the muddy Mexico and United States border. After rescuing the beautiful Maria (Loredana Nusciak) from being crucified on a burning cross, he goes to a nearby ghost town and makes a saloon his base of operation. Django then for reasons, at first, that's only known to him wages a one-man war against two local warring factions led by Major Jackson’s klansmen and General Hugo Rodríguez’s revolutionaries. He seems to be setting himself up against insurmountable odds but no worries, pilgrims, all the help he will need is in that coffin.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Diablo (2015)

Psychological Western has Civil War veteran Jackson (Scott Eastwood), once known as General Sherman's best killer, searching for his kidnapped wife. Always hypnotizing Walter Goggins plays Ezra who seems to know Jackson from his military days and begins murdering anyone who comes in contact with him. We discover before long to what degree the war has unhinged Jackson when an old 'friend' played by Danny Glover seems unusually terrified warning his granddaughter, "He's killed more men than you met in your lifetime."

Far from a perfect film, with an unsatisfying ending, benefits greatly from stunning cinematography courtesy of Dean Cundey and a evocative musical score by Timothy Williams.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Waste Lands

Thank you for joining me on a journey of Stephen King’s The Waste Lands (1991), the 3rd book in The Dark Tower series. We just finished our journey across the beach in The Drawing of the Three, drawing Eddie and Susannah Dean into Roland's world and ending the pitiful life of Jack Mort. Eddie is off heroin, and Susannah's previously split mind has merged into one—but Roland Deschain is troubled. It seems by killing Jack Mort and allowing Jake Chambers to live, he has created a paradox ... and it's tearing his mind apart. What's next for this new ka-tet? Will Roland be able to rectify this butterfly effect? Join us as we make our journey into The Waste Lands.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ranking The Doctors

I watched quite a bit of Doctor Who over the weekend resulting in my ever changing list of favorite Doctors. Currently the order:

Matt Smith
Tom Baker
David Tennant
Patrick Troughton
Jon Pertwee
Peter Davison
Christopher Eccleston
Paul McGann
Peter Capaldi
William Hartnell
Sylvester McCoy
Colin Baker

If I were to include The War Doctor (John Hurt) he would place in the top five easily. How about you? Any fans of the Time Lord?

Friday, December 16, 2016

China 9, Liberty 37 (1978)

China 9, Liberty 37 (1978) directed by Monte Hellman is a B Western with an A performance by Warren Oates. Clayton Drumm (Fabio Testi), within minutes of being hanged, gets a reprieve from some greedy railroad company men if he will murder Matthew Sebanek (Warren Oates) who refuses to budge from his property that the company wants to gobble up. Clayton agrees, but he becomes friendly with Matthew instead which is complicated by the man's alluring wife Catherine (Jenny Agutter) who falls for the hunk assassin. A low-budget oddity that maintains interest thanks to Hellman's devotion to strong character development, and, well, Oates—he is an acting force of nature that's never dull. Plus this forgotten '70s film has the added curio of infamous director Sam Peckinpah in a rare acting gig.

My friend Randy Johnson went into a little more plot detail with his 2009 review at Not The Baseball Pitcher blog.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

For the Love of Spock (2016)

I've been a Star Trek fan ever since my mom and dad bought me a phaser that fired plastic rings (I easily imagined myself slicing and dicing Klingon warriors and salt vampires), and also a book called Star Trek: The Prisoner of Vega (can still remember that story sentence by sentence yet I haven't read a single page in decades).

For the Love of Spock (2016) is a documentary directed by Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard Nimoy who played the iconic figure for five decades. This treasure trove of information, interviews, and never before released video only deepened my appreciation for the show and the thoughtful, intelligent man who embodied the half-Vulcan character. Like the McQueen bio I mentioned a few days ago, there's much deeper themes here than just another valentine for Trek enthusiasts. Recommended for all.

Here's a link to the trailer.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


I've been on a reread of Roland of Gilead's adventures and am currently at The Dark Tower: The Waste Lands, Part IV. Hope you join me over at Macmillan's Criminal Element blog. Here's a sample:
Jake names the straggling billy-bumbler Oy and begins caring for it, adding a “boy and his dog” warmth to the proceedings along with some depth to the world in which Roland lives. Kind of like a racoon but with a longer neck, Oy shows off his ability to mimic sounds that he hears. It’s explained that once upon a time, many homes in Mid-World had billy-bumblers traipsing about—much like our own pets—and they possibly have a greater intelligence than first observed. I’m really taken with Oy, and I’m getting the vibe he will take a large part in the Dark Tower quest as we go along, and to some purpose.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Subversive Laughter is the Best Medicine

We've been watching NewsRadio again which I'm laughing at just as hard as the first go around. Made me think of other shows that I rank high up on the funny bone chart. Of course, with most programs, the early episodes are best. In no particular order, my favorites:

Barney Miller
The Honeymooners
Fawlty Towers
The Larry Sanders Show
Arrested Development
American Dad
Night Court
WKRP in Cincinnati
Sanford and Son

Seeing a definite subversive slant running through my list that I wasn't aware of before compiling. Anyway, what makes your list?

Monday, December 12, 2016

Outlaws and Angels (2016)

Fine performances by Chad Michael Murray and Francesca Eastwood are eventually marred by an overtly sadistic script. Realism is one thing, but lingering scenes of the rape of  a woman and a man about to be sodomized ventures into gratuitous territory. A Tarantinoesque wannabe sees a trio of on-the-run outlaws deciding to hole up in the home of a preacher whose sexual desires extend to his own daughters. It’s not long before fifteen-year-old Florence Tildon (Ms. Eastwood—yes, from Clint’s clan) warms to the outlaws’ leader (Murray) and joins the gang to exact a bloody revenge on her cowering family.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Deadly Companions (1961)

Just passable, meandering film, about a former Yankee soldier (Brian Keith) who accidentally kills a saloon girl's (Maureen O'Hara) son and then helps the lady—against her will—escort the boy's body back home through Apache territory to be buried next to his father. Brian Keith is superb as the guilt ridden Good Samaritan but the beautiful Ms. O'Hara makes every scene she's in pop—though it's quite gratuitous silly for her to take a bath in a creek with the enemy milling around. (Though, I'm sure, most viewers won't complain.)

Best line comes from the tortured Keith character who says:

"You don't know me well enough to hate me that much. Hating's a subject I know a little something about. You better be careful it don't bite you back. I know somebody spent five years looking for a man he hated. Hate and wanting revenge was all that kept him alive. He spent all them years tracking that other man down. When he caught up with him was the worst day in his life. He'd get his revenge, all right. Then he'd lose the one thing he'd had to live for."
Early Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch, Ride the High Country) though you would hardly know because he had very little control over the finished product.

Let's Go Racing

Here's a damn fine documentary: Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans (2015). More than just a racing film but rather what obsession does to the human psyche. Recommended for not just fans of  The King of Cool (The Great Escape, The Getaway) but viewers who like human interest stories and well sliced together documentaries.

It's currently available for free on Amazon Prime.

Friday, December 9, 2016

My Drinking Habit

I gave up coffee this year and am now drinking tea with quite the compulsion. So far the favorites are "Constant Comment" black tea, Classic Sleepy Time, and Tetley green tea with lemon. Of the three, I'd rate "Constant Comment" highest and is my morning kicker and the other two throughout the day. Since I like sugar with my tea, I'm using a zero calorie sweetener called Stevia In The Raw. Perfect mix especially with the Sleepy Time.

You are now up to date on my drinking habits. Yours?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

There's David

It has been a couple of weeks since I last posted here and the main reason for the lull is I have been occupied working on a poetry collection for BEAT to a PULP and am also gainfully employed reviewing books for Criminal Element. If you check the right hand column you will see my Twitter feed where I usually check in once a day, just in case you want to keep a closer tab on my whereabouts. Anyway, I will make the rounds to see how you, the last of the bloggers, are doing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Comedians (1966)

Graham Greene's The Comedians (1966) opens as the Medea ship makes its way to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti with a rich assortment of passengers aboard, including a former presidential candidate, a military “expert,” and a hotelier named Brown who dubs all of them comedians—his rationale:
Now that I approached the end of life it was only my sense of humour that enabled me sometimes to believe in Him. Life was a comedy, not the tragedy for which I had been prepared, and it seemed to me that we were all, on this boat with a Greek name (why should a Dutch line name it’s boats in Greek?), driven by an authoritative practical joker towards the extreme point of comedy. How often, in the crowd on Shaftesbury Avenue or Broadway, after the theatres closed, have I heard the phrase—“I laughed till the tears came.”
Here's the link to the rest of my article.


I've been busy editing a book of poetry, having fun being dad which is the best job, right?, and continuing my trek to the Dark Tower. Here's my latest re-read at Macmillan's Criminal Element blog. As always, thank you.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veteran's Day: Alfred S. Cranmer

Thinking, on this Veteran's Day, of all those who have served our country like my great-great grandfather Alfred S. Cranmer (1838-1919). He served in the Civil War, was wounded in Antietam, MD, and later re-enlisted in the N.Y. Volunteer Cavalry.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Notes: Writing Prose in Pleasure of the Park

I’m hoping to get Notes: Writing Prose in Pleasure of the Park out in early December. Kyle was working on it just before his death in 2013, and it contains a new batch of poems with strong, and strange, imagery as well as several humorous short stories. Spending time on this project and hearing his unique voice is a wonderful, personal Christmas present.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Mathematician’s Writer

Jorge Luis Borges, 1951.
"He is a mathematician’s writer. His short stories are like mathematical proofs, delicately constructed and with ideas laced together effortlessly. Each step is taken with precision and water-tight logic, yet the narrative is full of surprising twists and turns." Marcus du Sautoy on Jorge Luis Borges, The Music of the Primes, 2003.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Christmas in the Lone Star State

A lawman past his prime and a prisoner past all hope . . .

Ten days before Christmas in the harsh winter of 1876, Texas Ranger Bill Sayles arrives at the prison in Huntsville to escort prisoner Jake Eddings on a furlough to his hometown, where his ten-year-old son is being laid to rest. The Ranger and his prisoner join forces to keep Eddings' wife from harm by the murderous Litchfield brothers, and maybe grab a last shot at redemption.

Happy Birthday, Ed Gorman

Ed Gorman would have turned 75 today. I think the best way I can honor him was by re-posting something I wrote about his work last year:
With Relentless, Gorman transcends the Western genre akin to what writer Jack Schaefer did with Monte Walsh and film director Robert Altman accomplished with McCabe and Mrs. Miller. No mythological posturing between these pages but real individuals on the edge with seemingly no way out. Ernest Hemingway said, “When writing a novel, a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”

Ed Gorman writes living people. Their hopes and dreams and the high costs of turning a blind eye to social justice. Relentless doesn’t have a lot of action per se but that makes sense in this noir Western that eschews fabled clichés and instead builds strong, riveting passages in the formation of these desperate lives.
Happy birthday, Ed. Thank you for an incredible body of work and your kindness.

Monday, October 31, 2016


There’s a lot of underhanded business going on in the park that seems to be trickling down from the corporate top. Secrets, deceptions, and inappropriate behaviors are making the rounds. We’ve seen it from the upper levels, and now we’re getting more from the lower levels. 
The two techs—Lutz (Leonardo Nam) and Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum), who had a run-in with Maeve after not putting her in sleep mode—are back. (I agree with Lutz, he probably did place her in sleep mode … she had just used her count-to-three trick to wake herself up.) They are again with Maeve, and Lutz is feeling a little more than creeped out by her presence because of last time.
*Rest of my review for Westworld's "Contrapasso" can be found here.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Going Into The Weekend...

I'm reading a lot (as usual) for work to include manuscripts, detective, and science fiction novels but strictly for recreation I'm enjoying THE MUSIC OF THE PRIMES by Marcus du Sautoy. I'm a math enthusiast but I don't think you have to be one to enjoy Sautoy's entertaining work on the history of prime number theory. Very much recommended. Besides the reading this weekend, I'm searching for a new backgammon app because I've pretty much conquered the old one which has become repetitive. If anyone out there has any suggestions I'd love to hear them. Other than that the family is gearing up for Halloween which brings a big smile to the little one and even bigger smiles to us old kids watching her dressing up and having fun.

Have a great weekend, friends.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hold a Scorpion by Melodie Johnson-Howe

Diana Poole has split with her egocentric boyfriend, Peter Bianchi, who had chided her to take a good look at herself. So she does—by going to a movie theater and watching her larger-than-life image on the silver screen.
A middle-aged actress who is on the back burner of Hollywood, Diana mulls the ended relationship and career mistakes that has brought her to this empty, darkened movie house. As she views herself, she insightfully ponders, “… narcissism is as demanding as an unpaid drug dealer.” Driving back to her Malibu home (after being lulled to sleep by her own hues), despondent thoughts are temporarily erased when she notes a woman waving boisterously in her direction. A fan? Someone she knows? She’s not sure as the brief encounter turns to horror.
My further two-cents on HOLD A SCORPION can be found at Macmillan's Criminal Element blog.

Monday, October 24, 2016

“Dissonance Theory”

Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) are having another sit down, talking more about feelings—specifically the loss of her parents. When Bernard offers to take away her pain, she asks why she would want that, using the same words Bernard had used when talking with his ex-wife about the death of their son—basically, it’s the only thing she has left of them. Is Bernard programming her with dialog based on his own life, and if so, to what purpose? To make her more real? 
In any event, Bernard offers Dolores another way to search for her soul: a game called The Maze, where the goal is to find the center. He tells her if she can do that, then maybe she can be free. She replies, “I think … I think I want to be free.” Could it be that both Ford and Bernard are using pawns to find the center of this mythical maze, first one there wins a prize? 
*My continuing thoughts on Westworld can be found here

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Part II of The Drawing of the Three.

After being deformed and disfigured and finally meeting the prisoner in Part I, we make contact in Eddie Dean's when—and there's gonna be a showdown. Join our discussion of Part II of The Drawing of the Three.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Ed Gorman

It does the heart good to see the love flowing in from so many corners of the internet for Ed Gorman who recently passed away. What a decent, caring human being that we were fortunate enough to know. Ed was a friend who would drop an email letting me know what he was up to and had asked on several occasions if I wanted to join this or that project. I wish I had been able to jump on board more often, but I'm grateful to have had the opportunity and privilege to anthologize a couple of his short stories. And, more importantly, be able to call him a friend. You will be missed, Ed.

Here's a story that had been republished in 2011 at the BEAT to a PULP webzine called "Stalker."

“Who in the world am I?”

Did you watch Westworld 1.03: “The Stray” on HBO? Of course, your faithful reviewing bot did and here's a sample of my review:
I guess if you want to gift a robot a thought-provoking piece of literature, then Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) is a fine choice. “Who in the world am I?” Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) reads aloud from the classic that Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) passes to her in another of their covert meetings.
But it would seem Dolores has an equally provocative “present” in return when she asks Bernard the whereabouts of his son. He dodges the question by telling her it would be too hard for her to understand, but is intrigued why she would pose the question in the first place. To have a conversation, she needs to ask personal questions, Dolores explicates, and it would appear by his expression that she has pleasantly surprised Westworld’s head of programming with her advanced cognitive abilities.
When Dolores awakes in her bed (probably a good thing he didn’t give her the mathematician’s sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871), where the conclusion suggests everything is a dream within a dream), she uncovers the gun she had found buried in the ground and now keeps hidden away in her dresser drawer. Hidden? It would seem not much could be kept squirreled away for long with the amusement park’s Big Brother ability to call up and scan specific locales.

*Rest of my article can be found at Macmillan's Criminal Element blog.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Two-Trick Pony (The Drifter Detective Book 8)

Very stoked to announce that Two-Trick Pony by Garnett Elliott is now available for both print and ebook. Here's the description and thank you, dMix, for the cover:

What happens when a Drifter stops drifting?

Two-Trick Pony features the first and last (?) cases of wandering P.I. Jack Laramie, bookending his not-so-glamorous career. In ‘The Big Bronc Hit,’ a fresh-faced young Jack travels to Amarillo, eager to earn his money on a foray into Texas horse country—until he learns the true nature of his ‘investigation.’ Rodeo clowns, a broke-down bronc-riding champ, and a mystery woman round out the cast, with a final confrontation among the rocky crags of Palo Duro Canyon.

In ‘The Vinyl Coffin,’ an older, more jaded Jack makes his next-to-last mistake when he decides to settle down in Dallas, finally opening the detective office he’s been dreaming of. But quitting a vagabond’s life doesn’t do much for the middle-aged blues, and after a nightcap at the infamous Carousel Club that leaves him face to face with an old nemesis, he finds himself helping a faded star already down the path to self-destruction. Does Jack get pulled in too, or does he rally in time to save both of them? Well, it is his ‘last’ case ...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Netflix’s Amanda Knox

Did she get away with murder? Or did she simply get caught in the line of fire? Don’t expect answers to such direct questions from this Netflix Original Documentary. 
Key people who were involved with the case are interviewed, and they have a way of circling the query on everyone’s mind with double responses. A makeup free, cropped hair Amanda Knox sits in a stark setting for the film’s opening and delivers a provocative statement: “If I am guilty it means that I am the ultimate figure to fear. Because I’m not the obvious one. But on the other hand, if I’m innocent, it means that everyone is vulnerable … Either I’m a psychopath in sheep’s clothing, or I am you.”
*Read the rest of my article here

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Drawing of the Three

Thank you for joining me on a journey of Stephen King’s The Drawing of the Three (1987), the 2nd book in The Dark Tower series. Several of us have just finished a trek through The Gunslinger (1982), which originally was a collection of short stories, later bound together, effectively capturing a world certainly familiar to us—Wild West background set to modern pop tunes—but stirring nightmarish images where time is out of mind and people displaced in various purgatories. The main protagonist, Roland Deschain of Gilead, is obsessed with locating the Dark Tower, so he shadows the man in black, who seems to have answers when confronted, though they are obtusely revealed with a turning over of Tarot cards. The man in black explained that Roland has caught the attention of his superior, who remains unknown, taking an interest in Roland’s endeavors.

With Stephen King's chapters getting a little strange, the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages), and each Tuesday we will meet to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This chapter sees Roland wandering across a different kind of desert but, this time, without a known purpose—that is, until he happens upon a door. Join us in the comments for a lively discussion of the start of The Drawing of the Three through The Prisoner, Chapter 2: “Eddie Dean.”

Monday, October 10, 2016

Marcus du Sautoy explains the fractal nature of Pollock's paintings

What's In A Name: Bob Ford

Dr. Robert Ford. 
Somehow this name didn’t quite register while watching the first episode. I mean I heard it, Anthony Hopkins plays Robert Ford, creator, or rather “God,” of Westworld. But what a choice of a name it happens to be … Bob Ford, the man who lives in infamy for shooting outlaw Jesse James in the back while James was hanging a picture in the family home.
Now, the Westworld park, we are told, is about people finding out exactly who they are and what they are capable of doing, and they can enjoy the freedom of that discovery without consequence—where you can be an outlaw like James or a treacherous ne’er-do-well like Ford. Maybe the show’s architects don’t have an agenda in mind with the moniker “Bob Ford,” but Western enthusiasts will certainly find it curious that the most disrespected individual, arguably, in Wild West history has the highest held position in Westworld … then again, I’d be willing to throw my chips on the table that it’s a tell-tale sign of what we’re going to find out about the park’s creator. 
More of my review of the second episode can be found at Criminal Element. Thanks in advance for taking a look.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016

Rumors and Impending Action

Hope all bloggers had a superior weekend!

Monday finds me typing away at new articles for Criminal Element where I moonlight as a freelance writer. The latest post is my take on the Westworld debut. Did you watch? I thought it was a bit familiar but overall has my curiosity piqued with what Anthony Hopkins has planned for his unusual amusement park. So I'll be reviewing that for the next ten weeks and, in addition, finish Longmire season five recaps by Friday and every Tuesday whittle my way through The Dark Tower. Tomorrow we come to the conclusion of The Gunslinger and I hope you have your library cards ready to pick up the second book in the series, The Drawing of the Three.

On the publishing front, I'm looking to release Garnett Elliott's Two Trick Pony very soon. This will be the eighth book in The Drifter Detective series and it may just be where the road comes to an end for Jack Laramie, grandson of Cash Laramie. I'm not saying for sure but there are rumors, pilgrims.

That's it for me on the work front—never slow down, never grow old.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Using Mathematics to Repair a Masterpiece

Using Mathematics to Repair a Masterpiece is just another example of why I'm continually fascinated by math. I'm an enthusiast but in an alternate reality a mathematician working alongside Marcus du Sautoy, Terrence Tao, and other peers.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


I'm up to reviewing the third episode of Longmire's season 5. I'm hoping you click over and deposit your two cents when you get a chance. Here's a sample:
Longmire selects some of the best music to punctuate scenes that require no dialogue. Kaleo's mournful “I Can't Go On Without You” plays as Walt (Robert Taylor) gives Dr. Donna Monaghan (Ally Walker) a phone call. The camera’s eye segues from bullet holes that have ventilated Walt's house to Donna reading a paper, “The Psychological Effects of Violence.” She notes, with apprehension, the “Cowboy” is calling but doesn't pick up. In just a little over a minute of screen time, we see the strain of the relationship played out before the opening credits. Kudos to director Adam Bluming for haunting, poignant filmmaking.
My full recap of Longmire 5:03: "Chrysalis" can be found here.    

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Link 2 Links

I'm talking The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, chapter 4 and Longmire 5:02: "One Good Memory" at Criminal Element. Love to have you join me for one or both discussions and tomorrow I hope to get around to your individual blogs. Crazy week of publishing, reviews, and finishing my latest manuscript. But, I'm not complaining, love these jobs.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Longmire Season 5

Longmire season 5 landed on Netflix. Ten new episodes that I will be binging and reviewing over the next week.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Nature's Ghost

Here's a phasmatodea aka walking stick insect that was getting ready to hitch a ride on our jeep. We are assuming the tiny phasmid fell from the tree that towers overhead. They are also nicknamed stick-bugs and ghost insects—for good reason. It barely moved making like a twig. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, Chapter 3

I’ve been thinking that Jake’s safety is hanging by a thread. First, we know that he has died in our world when the man in black pushed him in front of a moving car, and then he just happens to be residing, a little too conveniently, at that way station when Roland came along. King writes that Roland feels love for the child but his Captain Ahab obsession for the Dark Tower—well, let’s just say, I don’t see this eleven-year-old slowing down Roland from his goals.
More of my thoughts on chapter 3: The Oracle and the Mountains at Criminal Element. Hope you stop over there and join in the conversation.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Programming Events

Hope everyone in Blogger Land is doing well and had a top weekend. 

I've been getting over a nasty (is there any other kind) cold but seem to be exiting the sick tunnel. A few things on my immediate horizon: to finish rereading Stephen King's The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger, don my cowboy hat for the new season of Longmire dropping in four days on Netflix, and patiently refrain from spilling the excitement that is WestworldI will also be reviewing Longmire and Westworld for Criminal Element. So I hope you will join me for some of those jaunts and bring some Theraflu and a bottle of Jack just in case.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Blood Moon

Here's the latest book the BEAT to a PULP team has been working on:

BLOOD MOON by Eric Beetner 
The Lawyer should have heeded the ominous signs: a forest fire raging in the distance and the undertaker’s wagon carrying away two knife-stabbed bodies. But he’s a man obsessed, methodically hunting down the gang members who murdered his family, and Big Jim Kimbrough, his latest target, isn’t far from the hell-blazing inferno. In a surprise turn, Kimbrough gets the jump on The Lawyer and leaves him for dead; though fortune is in his corner when a trio of frontier women find him and nurse him back to health. It’s not long before Kimbrough learns The Lawyer is still alive. Desperate to rub out the man who’s been dogging him, the outlaw goes gunning for The Lawyer again, determined this time to finish the job.
Eric Beetner (The Year I Died Seven Times) writes the Old West with the same terse, action-packed grit as his crime fiction. BLOOD MOON is his second riveting “Lawyer” tale following the highly praised Six Guns at Sundown.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Hummingbirds, those magical visitors, have left heading south. The leaves are starting to fall from our birch tree and the air has decidedly turned a bit colder. I do enjoy the approaching season but will miss a few of these pleasures.

Friday, August 26, 2016


Here's what I've been working on with Chuck Regan: 
The Axis forces won World War II, and a monstrous tower rising from the ruins of Philadelphia is the heart of the Nazi-occupied United States. Norm Cromwell does what he can to survive under the restrictive regime of The New Republik of America, but he is starving, and resources are dwindling, and his paranoia is building, and agents are always watching. When a riot breaks out in line at the food distribution truck, Norm and two of his coworkers must go on the run to find Free America. Hunted by scout zeppelins, massive walking tanks, and agents of the Republik, Norm must decide what is most important to him—survival or self-sacrifice for a greater good.
This Post-Apocalyptic Dieselpunk novella was inspired by 1984, The Man in the High Castle, and Metro 2033.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dundee Frayed Review

It is always nice when a reader takes the time to leave a thoughtful assessment on something you have written and a bigger reward when that reader is someone you greatly admire. In this case, Wayne D. Dundee has reviewed my Torn and Frayed novella on Amazon. Thanks, Wayne!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Face Blind

I’ve always thought two of the more intriguing protagonists finding themselves in a world of mierda were from the 1966 stage production of Wait Until Dark (later adapted into the Audrey Hepburn film), featuring a blind woman going up against three men who have invaded her home, and Jonathan Nolan’s 2001 short story “Memento Mori” (also made into a movie—Hollywood knows a good thing), where a man with backwards amnesia continually tattoos himself to remember imperative details related to his wife’s murder. Both of these individuals persevered without the benefit of certain functions that most of us take for granted. In Face Blind, Lance Hawvermale should have Hollywood warming up their keyboards because he has tapped into a different, brilliant deprivation plot device: prosopagnosia. 
That is the start of my review for Lance Hawvermale's FACE BLIND. Please follow the link here for the rest of my review. Comments are always welcomed... and make my boss super duper extra happy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Gunslinger

Beginning September 6, I’ll be doing a reread of Stephen King’s THE DARK TOWER I: THE GUNSLINGER (first published in 1982, significantly revised in 2003) for Macmillan’s Criminal Element blog. This will a be a chapter a week review (every Tuesday) and it’s a whole lot more fun if I can get some other readers involved—if you don’t have a copy I’m sure most libraries carry one. I will do a write-up of each chapter and in the comments, hopefully, you can add to my piece with your own thoughts.

There’s a 2017 film on the way starring Idris Elba as Roland/The Gunslinger and Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black who Roland pursues. So the reread is a good way to get on board and re-familiarize yourself with the story

Friday, August 12, 2016

Bells and Neighbors

What a sizzler few days it has been outside with today's temp around 93 degrees. So indoors I stay, typing away, and here's two of the results: The Night Bell and Rob Thy Neighbor reviews for Criminal Element.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Return of Sheriff Dan Rhodes

I’ve been routinely traveling to the fictional town of Clearview in Blacklin County, Texas to spend a few reading hours with the amiable Sheriff Dan Rhodes. Though I’m a Yankee, it’s not as far of a metaphysical journey as you would think because I grew up in farm country in a picturesque village in Tompkins County, New York—so I can relate.
As a youngster, on any given Saturday, Dad would take me with him to some place in town, say, Mr. Whyte’s garage, when the sheriff pulled in for whatever reason. Still can see that gun riding high on his belt and the so-very-serious look on his face. “He’d arrest his own mother,” Dad warned. 
The rest of my review can be found here

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The American Girl

Here's a book I thoroughly enjoyed: The American Girl by Kate Horsley. C'mon over and see how I inserted the mathematical icosahedron into the proceedings. :)  

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New Infiniti Q60 Feat. Kit Harington Official Car Tv Commercial 2016

Thanks to Jack Bates for posting this commercial of Mr. Harrington reciting “The Tyger” by William Blake. Ava and I have finished memorizing this, our second selected poem, so the ad stood out. Amusing to hear the actor elevating the poem with simple intonation, something we have to practice.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Pale Mars Cover Reveal

What I've been working on with dMix and Garnett who says it best, "'Pale Mars' is the Atompunk sequel to 'Red Venus.'"

Monday, August 1, 2016

“A” Is for Alibi

I've been a long time aficionado of Ms. Grafton's Alphabet Mysteries and jumped at the chance to say a few words on the first in the series. Here's a sample of my article:
Would you indulge me in some California dreaming? Thanks.
So, “A” Is for Alibi, featuring Sue Grafton's private investigator Kinsey Millhone, debuted in 1982—a year before author Ross Macdonald died. Macdonald had created the fictional town of Santa Teresa where his own PI, Lew Archer, routinely patrolled throughout an eighteen book series. The wealthy area (described by Grafton as “a haven for the abject rich”), which—more than a little—resembles the real Santa Barbara, is where a good chunk of the setting of Alibi takes place. I can picture both detectives sitting down at Rosie’s Tavern, Archer laying his fedora on the table, thoroughly entranced by thirty-two-year-old Kinsey Millhone—she a reflection of his younger self—in a symbolic passing of the torch. Nice to envision, right?
Please click here for the rest of the article at Macmillan's Criminal Element.

Tony's Frayed Thoughts

Well this week is starting off rather nicely thanks to Tony Lane. Bottom line: He liked it. Whew! *wipes forehead*

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Bemoaning The Good Assassin

I was asked to evaluate a book and didn't particularly care for it. So for my review, I pulled back to first take a look at the 'good' assassin in film and literaturesomething I find most of the time to be annoying.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Bill Crider's Sheriff Dan Rhodes

I'm a big fan of Bill Crider's Sheriff Dan Rhodes mysteries and just pre-ordered a copy from Amazon of his latest. Expect  a book review in the coming weeks. In case you are unfamiliar with one of the coolest sheriff's around here was my thoughts on the first in the series.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

WONDER WOMAN Comic-Con Trailer

BTAP Catalog | The Axeman of Storyville | Heath Lowrance

BTAP Catalog | The Axeman of Storyville | Heath Lowrance: Novella in the Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles series

Torn and Frayed

Torn and Frayed is a bit off the wall as detective stories go so I'm very happy to see another positive response left on Amazon. You will probably get tired of hearing me say this but reviews are like gold to an author and beyond helping to move books they are a necessary morale booster.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Beauty and Robots

As you can see I've been busy this summer writing reviews beside the usual BEAT to a PULP work. Here's two more that I will thank you in advance for reading. I had the pleasure to get an advance copy of THE BRANSON BEAUTY by Claire Booth which is a refreshing first in a series featuring Sheriff Hank Worth. Also reviewed is Isaac Asimov THE ROBOTS OF DAWN.

Monday, July 18, 2016

SoHo Sins

My latest article An Artistic Debut: Reviewing SoHo Sins by Richard Vine has been posted at Criminal Element. Again, thank you for clicking over and reading.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

BTAP Webzine | George R. Johnson | A Well-Ordered Life?

BTAP Webzine | George R. Johnson | A Well-Ordered Life?: July 2016 short story

About this Pulp of the Month: I had asked Randy if he cared to contribute a story to BEAT to a PULP. This was back at the start, around 2008, and I suspected the pulp fiction enthusiast (and avid film/book reviewer) was a wordsmith himself. His response was humble and he politely declined my invitation though indicating maybe some future point. After he passed away in 2015, his sister Gloria sent me a box of his writings and I was not astonished to find an excellent short story writer who had been scribbling away since the 1970s. I've selected a 500-word flash fiction piece to publish first and before long hope to roll out some of his longer pieces. 

I hope you can take a few short minutes to read "A Well-Ordered Life?"

Monday, July 11, 2016

Quinn Colson, Lee Marvin, and Richard Burton

I'm a reviewing fool. Here's the latest two at Macmillan's Criminal Element: THE INNOCENTS by Ace Atkins and For Masochists Only: THE KLANSMAN (1974). As always, I appreciate you linking over and leaving comments.

Mannix Opening Title Credits :: Season One (1967)

Cash & Miles Free eBook

BEAT to a PULP extraordinaire dMix has given face lifts to my Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles series that also includes new art by Chuck Regan for Further Adventures. To honor the occasion I'm offering Vol. II for free for the next few days. Here's Alec Cizak's foreword to the collection:

The Western is one of those things. Like rock and roll. Like theater. Jackasses in coffee houses everywhere are always pronouncing it dead. There’s seductive evidence to suggest that diagnosis correct—Hollywood has a hard time prying its big fat wallet open to finance a Western (never mind that the God damn town was practically built on the genre). The only way television could get a Western going in this day and age was by shuffling it off to the “naughty” corner of cable and filling its character’s mouths with nonstop profanity. Stroll into most book stores (the ones that still exist, speaking of a dying species) and you’ll probably find one shelf of Westerns with the safe, traditional names on the spines. Here’s the problem, though, here’s why there’s no authoritative signature on that particular death certificate: The Western is not dead. People read them, people watch them, and people like Edward A. Grainger, aka David Cranmer, are fueling the genre with fresh stories and characters that satisfy both old and new conventions.
Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles has been out for a short time and garnered enough attention to demonstrate that there is not only sustained interest in the Western, but new blood ducking in to take a peek and, if we are to believe the avalanche of praise Grainger’s first collection has received, liking what they see. And why not? Without the self-conscious posturing of postmodernism, Grainger has, in fact, crafted a postmodern west that takes into account the conspicuous absence of non-white, non-protestant members of the American family. Grainger is not one, I suspect, to bellow about “political correctness” and “inclusion” and “diversity” and all the other buzz words that college campuses and public service announcements like to drill into our heads in effort to keep the masses civilized. Like that old adage about faith, them that shout the loudest, we should assume, believe the least. No, Grainger very quietly sits wherever it is he writes and creates stories about the old west that fill in a lot of spaces left by previous generations of writers and filmmakers.
I compared Volume I to John Ford’s The Searchers and I stand by that comparison. Like The Searchers, Grainger’s stories address America’s racial and ethnic realities in a straightforward manner so refreshingly free of self-consciousness that one is able to read the stories purely for entertainment or as the subtle political statements that they are. Grainger has, in short, achieved that great balance between form and function. In my opinion, this should be the goal of any serious artist.
On the surface, these are entertaining tales. Cash Laramie is part Dirty Harry, part Billy Jack. Of course, he walks the Earth a hundred years before those great vigilante characters of the 1970s. He benefits from a more relaxed attitude towards rogue justice. The result is a character who punishes bad guys the way all of us, deep down, would prefer. Thus, men who abuse children are dispatched without all the pesky paperwork and legal acrobats criminals benefit from today. Bigots who hang people simply because they don’t like the color of their skin are brutally tortured and left for dead. In Volume II, Cash continues his brand of “outlaw” justice, repositioning that tricky line between “right” and “wrong.” We are also treated to the story of Cash’s origin. Gideon Miles does not play as significant a role as he did in the first collection of stories, but his appearance here reinforces my belief that Edward Grainger is telling tales of the west in a much more honest manner than any writer or filmmaker has attempted before and he is doing so without begging for an “atta’ boy!” from the coffee house crowd.
There are some who would argue that Cash Laramie’s “outlaw” justice is just that—beyond the borders of the law and therefore suspect. I think they are missing the point. American mythology is twisted in contradictions that brutal lawmen like Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles untangle with gut decisions we all wish we could execute every time we watch in horror as the justice system fails to discipline someone who is obviously guilty. These stories nurture a basic human desire to create a world that makes sense emotionally. In that way, they are a kind of medicine, don’t you think?

Alec Cizak
August 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Infiltrations of the Surreal...

I'm reading Julio Cortázar's BLOW-UP AND OTHER STORIES again. Fairly certain the next time someone asks me the bland chestnut of what writer's body of work would I take to that desolate island—it would be Cortázar’s. Here’s a piece I wrote a while back:
Infiltrations of the Surreal: Argetina’s Julio Cortázar
At the tender age of nine, and against his mother’s better judgement, Julio Cortázar (1914-1984) managed to get his hands on an Edgar Allan Poe collection. Years later, Cortázar recalled in an interview for The Paris Review: “[S]he thought I was too young and she was right. The book scared me and I was ill for three months, because I believed in it … dur comme fer as the French say.” But thanks to his mom spurring him to other reading (Jules Verne was an early favorite) and his robust imagination, he developed a knack for storytelling that jettisoned the distance between the real and the imaginary—eventually becoming one of Argentina’s premier novelists and short story writers. Here are a few examples from his body of work epitomizing why his surreal art still maintains such clout in the literary community.
Further reading at Criminal Element.