Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Black Thirteen

Callahan stops his traipse down the bloody memory lane to show Roland the crystal ball. Roland has Callahan take him to Black Thirteen without Susannah present, afraid that the demon in her belly will grow stronger.
Faintly, Roland heard the chime of bells—a sound so beautifully hideous it made you want to grind your teeth against it. For a moment the walls of Pere Callahan’s church wavered. It was as if the thing in the box had spoken to them: Do you see how little it all matters? How quickly and easily I can take it all away, should I choose to do so? Beware, gunslinger! Beware, shaman! The abyss is all around you. You float and fall into it at my whim.
Our ka-tet continues forward at Macmillan's Criminal Element. 

I'm Throwing In With Shetland

Looking for a new crime drama series to watch and tired of the same old? Try, Shetland that's currently on Netflix. The BBC program stars Douglas Henshall as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez and besides the fine acting, plotting, there's the incredible scenery. I expound more in my review of COLD EARTH by Ann Cleeves who is the architect behind it all.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rocks

On our recent trip to the Smithsonian, we saw just a fraction of the natural history museum. We ended up spending most of our time in the invertebrate and geology exhibits. Ava loved the live tarantulas so much, she asked for a Mexican orange-kneed—not a pink toe—variety for a pet. And as for the rocks, all three of us were mesmerized by the meteorites, gems, and minerals.

Here’s a picture of a section of columnar dacite. What’s so interesting to me about it is how it’s formed from lava flow and its mathematical properties. When the lava cools, it shrinks and fractures creating vertical columns of crystallized dacite in various polygon shapes.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Many Come But...

Most of my Blogger posts still generate a few hundred visits and depending on the topic a few thousand often stop by. One thing that has never changed, in the decade I've been perched here, is the number that leave comments which is normally less than other social networking sites. I'm surprised that Blogger hasn't updated their platform to something similar to Facebook, Instagram, etc. Make it less of a hassle and more inviting for comments. I realize Blogging is considered dated but I still enjoy this corner of the world and have met most of my enduring online friends here.

Anyway, there's my random Tuesday morning thought.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Book List

I’ve been asked to recommend a list of books. Tall order. This list could change next week or even later today. But these fifteen have had a lasting impression. Disclosure: I published three and two others are written by good friends.

The Adventures of Augie March (1953)/Saul Bellow

Herzog (1964)/Saul Bellow

Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968)/Joan Didion

I Shall Not Be Moved (1991)/Maya Angelou

Despair (1965, English translation)/Vladimir Nabokov

The Posthumous Man (2012)/Jake Hinkson

The Age of Reason/Thomas Paine (published in three parts: 1794, 1795, and 1807)

Monte Walsh (1963)/Jack Schaefer

Donnybrook (2013)/Frank Bill

American Gods (2001)/Neil Gaiman

The Little Boy Inside and Other Stories (2013)/Glenn Gray

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955)/Patricia Highsmith

The Girls of Bunker Pines (2014) /Garnett Elliott

The Haunting of Hill House (1959)/Shirley Jackson

All Those Hungry Mouths (2015)/Keith Rawson

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Razor Sharp Teeth

Little d and I are proofing Nik Morton's "We Fell Below the Earth" and learned that people are quite passionate about vampire teeth. Should they be front and center like Nosfertu or sport them on the lateral incisor as seen in The Lost Boys and True Blood? Then there's the classic canine set like Lestat in Interview with the Vampire and now the Vampire Diaries? Who knew?!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

René Descartes Says...

I'm reading “Discourse On Method” (from a prized 1910 edition of the Harvard Classics) by René Descartes (1596-1650)  and came across the following timely quote:
It is useful to know something of the manners of different nations, that we may be enabled to form a more correct judgment regarding our own, and be prevented from thinking that everything contrary to our customs is ridiculous and irrational, — a conclusion usually come to by those whose experience has been limited to their own country.

Wolves At The Door

The ka-tet dine with their perspective employers, feeling out the sharecroppers and the mysterious Father Callahan and learning that Thunderclap is somewhat of a dead zone populated by the wolves. When Eddie excuses himself to take a dump in the woods, he discovers Andy is quite the stealthy robot. Startled while still squatting, the gunslinger has a couple of questions for the apologetic machine—the most troubling of which regards the wolves: “... how do you know when they’re coming?”

The normally genteel machine turns haughty, “What’s your password, sai Eddie?” Turns out the bot is restricted from divulging this information under directive nineteen (there’s that damn prime). So, I’m making the call early: Andy is in cahoots with the wolves. Agreed? Of course, I’ve come to not trust any machine with a North Central Positronics, LTD label.
Here's a link to follow for the rest of my article on Stephen King's Wolves of the Calla.

Past Voices

I'm reading a Harvard Classics featuring Descartes, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Hobbes. Most days on Twitter I follow accounts dedicated to Samuel Pepys, Richard Burton, and actively contribute to a Thomas Paine page. Waiting to be read are memoirs by Anais Nin and Charles Darwin. Put bluntly, I enjoy reading dead people ruminating about the minutiae of their daily lives, cultural events of their day, and whatever else passed their radars. Question: I'm looking to expand beyond the mostly white guys and looking for women essayists before the 20th century and writers from countries outside the US. Any suggestions?

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Salvation (2014)

Jon (Mads Mikkelsen) is a Danish settler whose wife and son are murdered by two thugs just released from prison. Jon kills both in revenge. One of the ex-con's brother is Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a gang leader who is working to remove the entire populace of Black Creek for Standard Atlantic Oil Company to bottle the crude that’s bubbling about town. Riding with Jon is his brother Peter (Mikael Persbrandt). Together they make a formidable opposition though Peter eventually sacrifices himself for Jon's safety. With every gesture, Mikkelsen pumps fresh life into the genre, and, here’s hoping there are more Westerns in his future. Eva Green plays Delarue's mute sister-in-law, Madelaine, who serves as his accountant and is sexually abused by him. Strong acting all around in THE SALVATION, but Ms. Green deserves extra mention for conveying such a wide range of emotion without any lines.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Odin aka Wednesday

Odin the Wanderer (1895) is such a commanding piece by Georg Von Rosen. Odin, in Norse mythology, goes by numerous names including Wednesday. In AMERICAN GODS, Mr. Wednesday is played by Ian McShane. What a great casting choice that is, right? I've enjoyed McShane performances for years including his acting in VILLAIN (1971) opposite Richard Burton, LOVEJOY (1986-1994), and DEADWOOD (2004-2006).

Friday, April 7, 2017

War

My continuing studies of Thomas Paine unearthed this always timely passage from Rights of Man (1791):
"That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and keeping up the quarrels of Nations, is as shocking as it is true; but when those who are concerned in the government of a country, make it their study to sow discord and cultivate prejudices between Nations, it becomes the more unpardonable."

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Broken Down

My jeep decided to give up the ghost today, but, thankfully, while I was waiting to be rescued I had Gaiman's AMERICAN GODS with me. Forgot how much I enjoyed this novel and the thirty minutes zipped along to my father-in-law showed up. Now, wonder how much the old beast is going to cost for repairs. It's an electrical issue. Oy vey!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What Happened To My 444?

Here Is the World's Favorite Number.

Some Lincoln Common Sense

I am reminded of a conundrum posed by Abraham Lincoln: If the tail of a dog was called a leg, how many legs would a dog have? Lincoln's answer was: "Four, calling the tail a leg doesn't mean that it is one." Raymond M. Smullyan, WHAT IS THE NAME OF THIS BOOK

American Gods

I just got the green light to review the adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods (2001) that is premiering April 30. Doing something a little different, I will be comparing the characters and plot from the novel with the show. Hope you will join me for the ride.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Wolves, Jazz, and Hammer

More articles of mine have been posted at Criminal Element. First up is my review of FATAL MUSIC  which is a mystery with a jazz enthusiast for a detective. Then WOLVES OF THE CALLA, #5 in The Dark Tower series, and, finally, THE WILL TO KILL, a new Mike Hammer novel.

Monday, April 3, 2017

3, 107, 444

The number nineteen continually pops up in The Dark Tower series and it made me think of some favorite numbers of mine which include 3, 107, 444. Three, a prime, because of my family trio. 107, another prime, is a number from an address of my past that continually pops up, and 444 because I end up looking at the clock at exactly that time almost daily. Anybody have a favorite number and why. And, careful, you don't give me the password to your Swiss bank account by accident.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Reading...

I'm eighty-six pages into Stephen King's WOLVES OF THE CALLA (2003). It's part of his epic The Dark Tower series and influences for this entry include THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960) and SEVEN SAMURAI (1954). Biggest shocker is a character from King's SALEM'S LOT (1975) makes a return and looks to be an ongoing character.

Well, anyway, that's why I'm up at 4:26 a.m.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Derringer!

April starts on a high note. "Yolo" by Libby Cudmore (BEAT to a PULP, May 2016) is a 2017 Derringer Finalist for Best Short Story. She's in fine company with other finalists whose work appears in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.

Congrats, Libby!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Like an anthropologist...

I've started reading WOLVES OF THE CALLA as part of my continuing reread of Stephen King's The Dark Tower for Macmillan's Criminal Element blog. Ava has been intrigued by the covers and especially the artwork in this particular edition of CALLA. So she asks me to tell her what they are about, and, of course, I often dilute it for the six-year-old ears. When she realizes I have read more pages, she asks me to update her on my progress but to start from the very beginning of the novel. This, I don't mind, but becomes quite lengthy and still her attention holds. (I'm not sure I was ever that patient at her age.) A recent passage in CALLA reminded me of our little coconut's devout rumination. Susannah explains to Eddie Dean exactly how Roland of Gilead pays attention. She says, "Like an anthropologist trying to figure out some strange culture by their myths and legends." YES! That's Ava exactly. Love her so much! Ok. My dad moment is over. Hope you all have a fabulous weekend.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Today...

Managed to ready another BEAT to a PULP book for release, added a load of gravel to our driveway (with my father-in-law, Little d, and Ava's help) which was in desperate need, played a close game of Scrabble coming in second to my lovely charmer, and now am settling in to enjoy some Saul Bellow (I'm rereading HUMBOLDT'S GIFT). Hope you all in Blogger Land are doing well. Peace.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Continuity Girl

I hope you don't mind a little plug here to let you know the third book in the Knightly & Cole series is on the way soon. It's titled Continuity Girl and is written by Nik Morton and published through BEAT to a PULP books. Here's the first two in the series.



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

3.14159...

I'm a math enthusiast and love any chance to write an article dedicated to the subject. And stoked even more because March 14 is Pi Day. So here's five films where math is fused with the mystery/thriller and sci-fi genres.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Bill McNeal, of WNYX NewsRadio, Quotes

"Dave, there comes a time in every friendship when you have to say, 'I never liked you, get lost.'"

"I'm off to astonish the world with more feats of ade-quata-quaticism."

"Have you ever heard the expression when life gives you lemons, make lemonade and then toss it in the face of the person who gave you the lemons until they give you the oranges you asked for in the first place?"

"Do I hear the plaintive cry of the crested North American quitter?

"Freedom of speech is one thing, the word 'penis' is another."

"Going to the bathroom is a privilege you just may lose if you sit idly by in these troubled times, my friend."

"I mean, nobody cares how beautiful the souffle is if the appetizer is turds in a blanket."

"Mighty oaks from little acorns grow."

"Envy not that which not need be possessed."

"Screw your problem, I'm talking about me."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Dark Tower 4.5

My review for Stephen King's THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE has just been sent to the editor. And I hope you will join me this coming Tuesday, at Macmillan's Criminal Element, as we discuss what is referred to as The Dark Tower 4.5.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Scorched Noir

The Border … an alkaline limbo between two worlds, where desperation and violence loom like the ever-present sun.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Magic Constant

Most of you know I’m a mathematics enthusiast and I regularly go to Pat Ballew’s superb blog. Today was the 59th day of the year and he posted a magic square with 59 as the center. Each row, column and diagonal adds up to 177. I decided to have a little fun and with Little d's help design my own grid with these numbers.
Here’s a little more on the squares.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Where It Hurts

In the mail today: WHERE IT HURTS (A Gus Murphy Novel) by Reed Farrel Coleman. Have heard good things. Looking forward to the read. What is everybody else reading?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

“The Unquiet Dead” and More

I'm a Doctor Who fan from a long way back and was stoked that Macmillan's Criminal Element accepted my pitch for a Whovian piece. Hope you enjoy.

Monday, February 13, 2017

I'm at Mother's

For fans of innovative TV, cool jazz, and hanging out at Mother's, all three seasons of
Peter Gunn starring Craig Stevens and Lola Albright is currently free to view, if you have Amazon Prime.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

“You know my name..."

Here's a sample of my latest article (and excerpt) on WIZARD AND GLASS:
Back in town, Jonas learns an emissary from John Farson has arrived and goes to meet him. The encounter startles Jonas, but, perhaps even more us the reader.
Jonas whirled on his heels, suddenly feeling old and slow. Standing there was a man of medium height, powerfully built from the look of him, with bright blue eyes and the rosy cheeks of either good health or good wine. His parted, smiling lips revealed cunning little teeth which must have been filed to points—surely such points couldn’t be natural. 
[…]
“You know my name; I would know yours.”
“Call me Walter,” the man in black said, and the smile suddenly fell off his lips. “Good old Walter, that’s me. Now let us see where we are, and where we’re going. Let us, in short, palaver.”

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Here's Paine For You

I've been working on a project devoted to the work of Tom Paine and decided to start a Twitter account where I tweet his quotes and offer facts on the man's life—it just went live today. If you are on Twitter, I'd love to generate some followers.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Proposition (2005)

In 1880's Australia, captured outlaw Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) is given a proposition by Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone): kill Charlie's notorious older brother Arthur (Danny Huston) who had orchestrated the murders of an entire family including a pregnant woman. If Charlie complies within nine days, the Burns youngest brother Mike (Richard Wilson) will, along with him, get full pardons. Charlie locates his brother but hesitates in doing the job. Meanwhile, Stanley is at odds with the town and his superior when it's revealed that he had let Charlie go free. He's ordered to flog Mike a hundred times—a punishment Stanley knows will kill the young man.

THE PROPOSITION is overflowing with remarkable acting talent, though Emily Watson deserves extra mention for her portrayal of Martha, Captain Stanley's wife, a cultured Englishwoman who finds herself in a living nightmare (or as her husband coins it, "Australia. What fresh hell is this?"), determined to retain her principles. The brooding music was composed by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. Cave also wrote the screenplay. A harrowing, sobering film that becomes stamped on your consciousness long after viewing. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mary

Sad to hear about the passing of Mary Tyler Moore. I grew up watching reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show and first run episodes of her 1970's program where she played news producer Mary Richards. Our family still gets a kick out of Rob and Laura Petrie. Rest In Peace, Mary.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Wizard and Glass

Roland, Cuthbert, and Alain arrive in Hambry under the pretenses of a “special mission from the Affiliation to serve as counters of all materials which might serve the Affiliation.” First contact is gregarious Sheriff Herk Avery and his deputies, who clearly view the trio for what they happen to be—green. After reporting in, they attend Mayor Thorin’s elaborate welcoming party where everyone that matters is in attendance—though, only one really matters to Roland:
His eye was held by Susan Delgado: the blue dress, the tanned skin, the triangles of color, too pale and perfect to be makeup, which ran lightly up her cheeks; most of all her hair, which was unbound tonight and fell to her waist like a shimmer of palest silk. He wanted her, suddenly and completely, with a desperate depth of feeling that felt like sickness. Everything he was and everything he had come for, it seemed, was secondary to her.
Here's my take on The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass that includes Chapter 5 "Welcome to Town" - Chapter 7 "On the Drop."

Monday, January 23, 2017

Hell or High Water

HELL OR HIGH WATER (2016) is a robust character-driven film described by Wikipedia as an "American Western heist-crime." And to these enviable ingredients, it should be added "funny," especially the ribbing banter between Tanner Howard (Ben Foster), an ex-con, and his younger brother Toby (Chris Pine).

Tanner: "This is Mr. Pibb. I asked for a Dr. Pepper."
Toby: "So?"
Tanner: "Only assholes drink Mr. Pibb."
Toby: "Drink up."

The boys have taken to robbing banks in west Texas to pay off a debt on the family ranch which is on the brink of foreclosure by the Texas Midlands Bank. Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) along with his partner Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) are tracking the Howard's. Marcus is near retirement and is thankful for the last-minute reprieve from the rocking chair as he stakes out a bank he suspects the brothers will hit next.

The final showdown is action-packed perfection, but the real joy is the sharp dialogue written by Taylor Sheridan, accompanied with dynamic music from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis who also collaborated on THE PROPOSITION (2005).

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Hateful Eight (2016)

Ennio Morricone's (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) elegiac opening music sets the tone for this grim tale of eight eclectic characters holed up in a remote Wyoming stagecoach lodge after a winter storm strands them. Absorbing dialogue (overly talky first half but never boring) somewhat marred by Tarantino's insistence on tossing the "N" word in every chance he gets. Give it a rest, T.

The last hour is particularly well crafted when we learn the backstory behind Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) that John "The Hangman" Ruth (Kurt Russell) is escorting to Red Rock albeit turning the narrative into a gore splattered nightmare for our hateful travelers—a hardboiled Western not for the squeamish. Along with Russell's similar, in sobering brutality, BONE TOMAHAWK (2015), THE HATEFUL EIGHT would make for a helluva Western Horror double feature.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Communication Breakdown

I've had almost zero internet for two weeks, and after several days of junkie withdrawals I found myself reading more of the daily newspaper which was a '17 goal, but on the downside my television viewing spiked. Not quality TV, mind you, but binging on fatuous comedy shows. Biggest issue has been not connecting with all my fellow Bloggers, though hopefully by week's ends I will be able to make the rounds.

In the meantime, if you get a moment, here's my latest article on Stephen King's Wizard and Glass.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Wizard and Glass: The Dark Tower IV

When we left Roland, Jake, Susannah, Eddie, and Oy the billy-bumbler, they were trapped on the psychotic locomotive, Blaine the Mono, crossing through the feared waste lands. Our ka-tet had narrowly escaped the destruction of Lud that Blaine had decimated with gas—but for what? To become prisoners aboard a train bulleting into a desolate hell populated by fierce beasts, with a guide that’s clearly mad. Yeah, it looks like we are bound to have a helluva lot of fun as we continue our journey to the Dark Tower, over at Criminal Element.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

In A Valley of Violence (2016)

Paul (Ethan Hawke) and his dog, Abbie, on their way to Mexico stop in the desolate, dust-swept town of Denton run by Marshal Clyde Martin (John Travolta) and his son Gilly (James Ransone). In classic Western cadence, Gilly tells Paul to git, and ends up in a fight with the stranger, getting his ass kicked. The marshal knows his offspring is a dolt, recognizes Paul is an Army man—respects that fact—and directs him to move along peacefully. Gilly, still smarting from his public shaming, tracks down Paul, and with the help of three buddies, they throw him over a steep cliff. Paul survives and exacts revenge. Seems standard Western fare, right?

And it is, except in the hands of director Ti West, it's teeming with fresh, crisp direction, editing, and quite a bit of welcoming humor. The film jumps from brutal action and disturbing gore to laugh out loud slapstick. Travolta is a particular hoot as he tries to goad his scaredy-cat deputies into engaging Paul who is systematically picking them off. Ethan Hawke and Taissa Farmiga (playing a teen who wants to help Paul but is rebuffed) turn in some particularly strong performances. Hawke is tailor-made for the brooding stranger with a dark past, and after his roles in The Magnificent Seven and In a Valley of Violence, here's hoping he'll return to the saddle before too long.

Special mention for Jumpy who plays Abbie, Paul's canine sidekick. I haven't seen a dog since Asta (The Thin Man) or The Duke's mutt in Hondo with this much character, becoming such an emotional cornerstone of the movie.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Zelda

The lives of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald continue to fascinate in a new Amazon original show called Z: The Beginning of Everything. Christina Ricci is excellent as Zelda with just the right amount of wild child and creative artist combination. First episode is available now and I'm looking forward to the rest of the first season set to be released on January 27. Here's the trailer featuring some excellent music.

Looming Tower

We are closer to finding that Dark Tower! My latest article is now up at Criminal Element.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Hollow Men

My review of Rob McCarthy's The Hollow Men at Macmillan's Criminal Element

Creepy by Alec Cizak

It's always a pleasure when our friend, the very much in-demand Alec Cizak, stops by the BEAT to a PULP webzine. Warning: his latest may just make you feel a bit "Creepy."

We checked on the van in the back of the BigMart parking lot shortly after the second body surfaced near Turkey Creek. Not too far from the first corpse, which had been discovered the previous week. Both victims were female. College students from Valpo. Dark hair. Mini-skirts. Too much makeup. Disappeared after a night of boozing. None of us believed we'd ever harbor a serial killer in little old Lublin, Indiana. That sort of thing just didn't happen around here. We got to discussing the problem at the Pub 900.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 In Which

I plan to publish books by Court Merrigan, Glenn Gray, Nik Morton, Eric Beetner, and Kyle J. Knapp to name a few ... continue reviewing for Macmillan, a part-time job I enjoy immensely (what's better than getting paid to review books, right?) ... lose a few pounds ... finish two novellas of my own: The Honorable Killer and Me & Creature ... walk a mile a day ... study mathematics ... get back to reading the newspapers ... listen ... and more family activities, great and small.

You? What's on your agenda?