Thursday, June 22, 2017

My New Gig

I'm very pleased to say my first article for LitReactor is now live. Big deal for me because I've admired the high quality output that is their standard. Please take a look when you get a chance.

Monday, June 19, 2017

No Sizzle, Just Fizzle

The acting throughout this show has been one triumph after another, with special mentions going to Kristin Chenoweth, who was a bright spot, along with Emily Browning, who was a standout through the season. It pains me to say this because I’ve always enjoyed Gillian Anderson’s roles, but Media has been a bit of a letdown, especially the breathy impersonations of starlets—there’s no sizzle, just fizzle. 

More of my article here.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Closing Time

Those who knew William E. Wallace, knew he was a straight-shooting, no bullshit kind of man. That honesty pervaded his fiction writing where he composed gripping, hardboiled perfection. I had the honor of publishing a short story called "Fundamental Breach" for BEAT to a PULP and was jazzed when he said he had another for me though I knew I wouldn't be able to publish until this year. I'll never forget what he wrote back, "I will send it to you. Let me know if it works. I probably won't be around anymore in 2017, but I would love to have something appear out of nowhere after I am gone -- "ghost" written, so to speak. . ."
That matter-of-fact bluntness tore me up to read. I wish I could have worked with him more but I feel fortunate for the times I did. He had such a driven spirit, continuing to spin stories and play slide guitar right up to the end. Sir, thank you, for not just your incredible output as a writer but for being a damn fine human being that I called friend. 
And, here's one more from William E. Wallace … "Closing Time."

Nik Morton's Continuity

Nik Morton talking about BEAT to a PULP's next release Continuity Girl can be found here.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

From Westlake with Love

Once again, I'm talking 007:
The James Bond I prefer, the “real” James Bond, is the one that exists outside of the bloated, by-the-numbers films. The highly profitable franchise produced few faithful adaptations, the genuine articles being Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), the loyal-in-gritty-spirit For Your Eyes Only(1981), and Casino Royale (2006). Otherwise, cinema JB is a cartoonish, pale comparison to the Bond that I highlighted in “The Gadgetless and Tired Assassin.”

That’s the 007 who has the feel of a tired public servant who's one martini away from turning his gun on himself or drinking himself into an oblivion. Not a handsome man—he has a visible scar on his face—but undeniably charismatic. He’s particularly ruthless, as in “The Hildebrand Rarity” (1960) where he covers up a murder by dumping a body overboard. There’s no bullshitting that the secret agent has a license to kill, and he takes the opportunity to use it if need be.

For the rest, click here to read From Westlake with Love: Exploring Donald Westlake's Lost Bond Novel, Forever and a Death.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dean at 100

I take a look at Dean Martin's Westerns on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Song of Susannah Part II

The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah is zipping right along and I certainly appreciate all of you clicking over and upping the web traffic. Keeps me gainfully employed.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Most Interesting Man in the World

I enjoyed this human interest article on The Most Interesting Man in the World. You may remember he was the spokesman for Dos Equis beer for a number of years. Sample:
During the course of his career, he worked with Burt Lancaster and John Wayne, Shelley Winters and Joan Fontaine; caroused with playwrights Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller; crossed egos with Dustin Hoffman; painted houses with Nicholas Colasanto (the guy who played Coach on Cheers); slept with a bevy of starlets, including Tina Louise, who played the hot marooned actress on Gilligan’s Island, and “six vegetarians, nine Buddhists, 18 nurses, six teachers, countless receptionists and one runner-up to Miss Florida.”
And full article here.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Across the Rio Grande

I feel AMERICAN GODS is blowing it. The Coming to America segments have been my personal favorites thus far in the first season of GODS, so much so that they often steal the show. But what a disappointment this week’s opening turned out to be.

Maybe it was the slow-mo action scene that lacked any palpable tension as a group of immigrants crossed the Rio Grande. Beforehand, there was a bit of praying, a quick shot of hand holding, and some grave instructions but little else. When one man who can’t swim begins to drown, Jesus is already there to lift him up, and then we see Christ walk across the water.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Magic!

I've always enjoyed magic and use to practice quite a bit so I understood the beginning of this magicians act... and then he blows me away with the rest. Incredible.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Getting Rid of Ticks

We have begun using a natural product called Cedarcide to keep the ticks away and its been working. The tiny terrorists loathe the cedar oil and we haven't had a case (knock on wood) in several weeks. I also spray the yard to combat the ongoing invasion. If you are in an area where ticks are prevalent, I recommend this product.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Lemon Scented

Without exception, the opening vignettes to American Gods are mini-masterpieces destined to be viewed time and again as inquiring minds seek to know more about these nearly forgotten fables—expect lots of YouTube hits.

In a compelling animated segment, the very first god comes to America circa 14,000 BC. A tribe of people crosses the land bridge from Siberia, following the wooly mammoths in hopes of finding food for their starving people. Atsula and her clan carry an effigy of their god, Nunyunnini, while they make the treacherous journey across the frozen, barren landscape. Her baby dies along the way, and when they finally arrive in the new land, she becomes the ultimate sacrifice to a bison-like spirit so her people can live—only to confront a tribe that had come before them. They defeat the newly encountered rivals and take their food, and then they leave behind Nunyunnini to be forgotten over time. The scene, like other Coming to America sections, was in variance from the novel.

Ay, dios mio!

If there was one thing that stood out in this week’s episodes, it was those regurgitation scenes. Ay, dios mio! More than once as Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is passing from the Black Lodge back to the land of the living.

In what can only be described as a surreal trip for Coop, he gets sucked through an electrical outlet and rides the current until he switches bodies with a lookalike named Dougie Jones. The hapless Dougie was enjoying the company of a lady of the evening, Jade (Nafeesa Williams), who is washing up when Coop arrives and takes Dougie’s place. And there begins possibly the vilest puke scene ever delivered on camera (and if you can point to more disgusting exhibits, I’ll just take your word for it). Dougie is swept away to the Black Lodge, where the one-armed man, Gerard (Al Strobel), explains, “Someone manufactured you,” and bears witness as the doppelgänger disintegrates into nothing more than a little round ball.

Hope you click over here for my review of episodes 3 and 4 of Twin Peaks: The Return. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

CONTINUITY GIRL

The latest release from BEAT to a PULP and Nik Morton is now available for kindle pre-order. Print to follow.

What has gone before . . .

In our future, Kyler Knightly and his uncle Damon Cole are field agents for Continuity Inc, a private organization that obtained the contract when the government Time Corps was deregulated. CI is dedicated to protecting human history.

They use the Zygma projector to travel through time and must carry a focus object from the period they’re targeting.

Kyler is also a dreamer with passive psychic talents, a precognitive.

The head of the group is an Artificial Intelligence character, Sennacherib, which possesses an organic interface, sharing the body of a two-spot octopus in an aquarium tank! Their offices are in the West End of London, a disused theater.

The third book in the series brings two more exciting time-travel adventures for Knightly and Cole of Continuity Inc.

CONTINUITY GIRL


Kyler is accompanied by the delectable yet mysterious Tertia Beynon. Their mission is to trace an academic who has traveled to Roman Britain in 192 AD. Precog suggests that an interfering event in this past will radically alter the future. Arriving at Hadrian’s Wall in the freezing winter, the pair encounter blood-thirsty argumentative locals and then obtain the aid of Governor Clodius Albinus in their trek on the northern side of the wall. Here they are confronted by Ambrosius, a druid who possesses arcane power.

Nothing seems simple. Action abounds, with brutal sacrifices, deadly swordplay, a fraught chariot chase and an attack by a pack of wolves.

With all this going on, will they be able to save their future in time?

“What an exciting zip back to the past with some really neat time travel twists! The story may be short but it’s packed with plenty of entertaining ‘what ifs’ and action near Hadrian’s Wall. And for good measure, the conclusion just might be something you don’t expect!” —Nancy Jardine, author of 'The Celtic Fervour' series

WE FELL BELOW THE EARTH

Our duo are helped by Tertia and Chief Inspector Irving. Corpses drained of blood point to a clue, a letter from Bistritz in 1897. Kyler and Cole are sent to Transylvania.

The conclusions are inescapable: it seems that the discovery of time travel—even though it’s regulated and Continuity Inc strives to protect history—heralded in a sequence of parallel time-streams. Where before these time-streams were ‘what if’ scenarios, now they’ve split into different realities. In some, fiction is fact.

The deaths, the blood and gore point to vampires being real, and they’re certainly not your idealized romantic sort. The evil blood-suckers are intent on feasting in Kyler’s present and spreading their contagion ...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Git Gone

I found the first few episodes of American Gods lacking but the show finally hit its stride with number four, "Git Gone." Below is a sample of what I wrote for Macmillan's Criminal Element blog. Go ahead and click over for the remainder of my two 1/2 cents:

There's a real slow turning of the narrative page here (yet when slow is done right, it can be exciting, à la Twin Peaks) that wasn't clicking in the first three episodes, and the compartmentalization of the book that kept the reader enthralled just didn’t have the same effect in the show. For someone who likes it when filmmakers stay true to the book, I have to admit that I’m glad they expanded the Laura Moon character in “Git Gone.” It provides a much-needed backstory to her relationship with Shadow, and it made this episode the first exceptional one of the series.

Monday, May 22, 2017

CHROMATICS "SHADOW"

Twin Peaks: The Return

Ahead of David Lynch’s revival, I went back and binged on the original series, interested to know if it would still capture me like it did 27 years ago. I was only a few years older than the fictional 17-year-old Laura Palmer when I sat with my mom and best friend Erik each week, religiously invested in Special Agent Cooper probing Laura’s grisly death. My mother didn’t laugh at the dark humor that Erik and I enjoyed over the slain girl’s mom wailing long past when other directors would have yelled “cut!” We had grown up on Lynch’s Blue Velvet and were more than prepared for the dramatic swings—after all, Dennis Hopper snuffing up oxygen through a mask is practically normal. Still, both generations were glued-fast to the intrigue.
My full review is at Criminal Element.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Do Some Damage: Writing, Self-Promotion, and Real Life

Do Some Damage: Writing, Self-Promotion, and Real Life: By Court Merrigan , Guest Post I haven't updated my blog since December 15, 2014, and it's been a lot longer than that since I...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Q&A with Court Merrigan

After many months of work (and obviously much longer for Court), we finally get to enjoy the release of THE BROKEN COUNTRY—just out today. Not sure what it is about? Then click over to this interview we did for Criminal Element.

At Outpost 16

Jake is feeling unsettled about spying on Ben Slightman The Elder and Andy while they’re conversing in private. After Ben Slightman the Younger falls asleep, Jake slips away with Oy—sniffing like a bloodhound—to follow their trail to a seemingly abandoned building. It’s labeled Outpost 16, which Jake assumes was erected by the Old Ones. There, he finds more North Central Positronics, LTD signs and tech. On the door itself: WELCOME TO THE DOGAN. Uh-oh. Here we go, as they say.

Inside, fluorescent lights snap to life, revealing skeletons in tattered brown uniforms—soldiers of sorts who’ve long since given a damn about what they were guarding. More shocking than the gruesome remains are the 31 screens monitoring various locations in the region, including Calla high street, Our Lady of Serenity Church, and Took’s General Store.
Rest of my reread of Wolves of the Calla can be found at Criminal Element.

The Broken Country

Our latest BEAT to a PULP release is a partnership with the talented Court Merrigan with one very looong title. You ready? Ok, here it goes: The Broken Country: Being the Scabrous Exploits of Cyrus & Galina Van, Hellbent West During the Eighth Year of the Harrows, 1876; With an Account of Mappers, Bounty Hunters, a Tatar, and the Science of Phrenology.

Set in post-apocalyptic 1876, The Broken Country tracks the scabrous exploits of the outlaws Cyrus and Galina Van. The pair kidnaps a naïve, young scion and head west in pursuit of gold, glory, and respect. Along the trail they met Atlante Ames, a mapper who euthanized her own father and now seeks her twin brother, himself gone outlaw in the ravaged West. In cold pursuit rides the implacable bounty hunter Hal, who takes scalps in the name of Jesus Christ and the science of phrenology, and the contemplative Buddhist assassin Qa'un, paying off the bloodprice he owes Hal … bounty by bloody bounty. Cyrus and Galina's hard road west comes to a head in a dynamite-tossing, six-gun-blazing shootout at the old train depot in Laramie.

A dark journey to a time when wagon trains have retreated and the Old West is haunted by bonepickers and starving tribes, The Broken Country is unlike any other book you will read this year. And we have never written a truer statement than that last sentence. Here's the Amazon link to buy either print or ebook.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Outlaw Marshal is Returning

Nik Morton discusses writing about someone else's series character. That someone else is me and I couldn't be happier when Nik breathes continuing life into Cash Laramie.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Lilac

I've mentioned planting a lilac and d and I managed to get the tree (some call them shrubs) in the ground yesterday. Not the exact right time for lilacs but we will nurse her carefully.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Happenings

A busy week that keeps getting just a little more hectic. On the work front, my interview with Court Merrigan is complete and I'll let you know when that shows up on Criminal Element—the BEAT to a PULP offices are bustling with managing promotion for THE BROKEN COUNTRY. In addition, we are finishing the cover and final formatting for Glenn Gray's TRANSGEMINATION, an out of this world ride from the author who's knack for the outlandish knows no bounds, and we are also ramping up our Thomas Paine project. I'll have more details on these very soon. Not to forget, there's a sci-fi offering on the way from Nik Morton featuring Knightly & Cole and we'll have the bloody return of The Lawyer though his vendetta trail may have to wait a few more months since I'm writing that one with a title I particularly like, The Honorable Killer.

If you are looking for a mystery and a detour from the beaten path I recommend Sebastian Fitzek's The Nightwalker that I reviewed here. The psychological thriller still has me pondering some passages months after the read. Year end best, easily.

On the personal side, I'm continuing to clear out fallen trees from our property and general landscaping to beautify. We bought a lilac that I had wanted to plant yesterday but hope to get in the ground later today with d and Ava's help.

There are also scheduled doctor's appointments and dental visits that have me a bit on edge, because one involves our little one but hopefully all will turn out ok. So, guess, I better get moving and turn a few pages. And as mom would say, "Arrivederci!"

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Decompressing

The sun is finally striking through and that will give me an opportunity to clear out some brush on our property (nicknamed the High 'Chalet') and plant a lilac we bought last week. Landscaping gives me a welcoming decompression after a long day in front of the screen. Also, I'm learning to break off at 5 p.m. and just not think about deadlines and relax. (That's MUCH easier said than done when you work for yourself.) Family times goes into full swing with board games like backgammon, Scrabble. Or reading something purely for entertainment that has nothing to do with reviewing like my current evening diversion, The Little Book of Mathematical Principles by Robert Solomon. Also, Little d and I are slowly whittling our way through the first season of Raising Hope and the final season of Doctor Who featuring Peter Capaldi as Twelve. So as I like to say from time to time: "Easy, you know, does it, son."

—and now let me spin around the web and see what everyone else is doing.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Visitors

Yesterday, at 12:58 pm, the first hummingbird of the year, a male, popped in from 'hyperspace'. Magical creatures. In the hummingbird's backdrop were two vibrant blue-jays, several yellow finches, and a lone woodpecker going to town on a steel beam in the yard—that's got to smart just the tiniest. I often work from the kitchen that overlooks this buzzing landscape and am happily distracted by these visitors.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Dark Tower Trailer #1 (2017) | Movieclips Trailers

A Broken Interview

Today, I'm beginning an interview with author Court Merrigan ahead of THE BROKEN COUNTRY's release on May 16th—our back and forth will be posted on Macmillan's Criminal Element site. And the ebook pre-order is available now and print to follow soon.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I'm Talking Wolves...

Just a quick refresher: the wolves are on their way, and our ka-tet are not a unified force. Roland calls them broken. Mostly because of Susannah, who isn’t aware that she has a new personality lurking within named Mia who has a baby on the way. This happened, as you remember, because Susannah got pregnant while having sex with a demon to hold open a transom that allowed Jake to cross over. Roland and Eddie know, and now Jake has seen his comrade dining on a rat like it was fine cuisine.
Read The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla Part V, by, you guessed it, me. Right here.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Liking Twelve's Tenth

I watched Doctor Who's "The Pilot" and liked it a lot. The setting with Twelve working as a university lecturer fits like a glove, Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts was instant likability (and that comes from a card-carrying Clara Oswald fan), and Matt Lucas as Nardole is alien funny forming with Twelve and Potts an unusual, quirky trio. Hey, there's granddaughter Susan in a photograph on his desk. Believe I read somewhere they are bringing back Carole Ann Ford. How we are all on board is that, huh? Oh, and the Douglas Adams nods were spot on. Yeah,  Peter Capaldi’s final season (tenth of the new series run) as Twelve is shaping up rather nicely.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Gods

I'm rereading Neil Gaiman's AMERICAN GODS ahead of the April 30th television adaptation on Starz. I will be doing an analysis of novel vs. series for Macmillan's Criminal Element. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

That Brutal Unpredictability

A Free Soul (1931)
Renowned gamesman Barclay Cooke (1912-1981) called Backgammon “the cruelest game.” Memorable hyperbole? Perhaps. But vital skills are needed to play: intense concentration, clever strategy, and an ability to see ahead to possible traps—and still the probability of the roll can level the steel nerves of even the finest. That brutal unpredictability translates well to the mystery, crime, and thriller genres, and of course, with sport slang like post mortem, premature burial, under the gun, shot, hustler, and hit, backgammon is practically crying out for a spotlight with the criminal element.

Read more on my favorite game, by me, here.

THE BROKEN COUNTRY: BEING THE SCABROUS EXPLOITS OF CYRUS & GALINA VAN, HELLBENT WEST DURING THE EIGHTH YEAR OF THE HARROWS, 1876; WITH AN ACCOUNT OF MAPPERS, BOUNTY HUNTERS, A TATAR, AND THE SCIENCE OF PHRENOLOGY

Latest title (and a long one at that, right?) from BEAT to a PULP books and Court Merrigan:

Set in post-apocalyptic 1876, THE BROKEN COUNTRY tracks the scabrous exploits of the outlaws Cyrus and Galina Van. The pair kidnaps a naïve, young scion and head west in pursuit of gold, glory, and respect. Along the trail they met Atlante Ames, a mapper who euthanized her own father and now seeks her twin brother, himself gone outlaw in the ravaged West. In cold pursuit rides the implacable bounty hunter Hal, who takes scalps in the name of Jesus Christ and the science of phrenology, and the contemplative Buddhist assassin Qa'un, paying off the bloodprice he owes Hal … bounty by bloody bounty. Cyrus and Galina's hard road west comes to a head in a dynamite-tossing, six-gun-blazing shootout at the old train depot in Laramie.

A dark journey to a time when wagon trains have retreated and the Old West is haunted by bonepickers and starving tribes, THE BROKEN COUNTRY: BEING THE SCABROUS EXPLOITS OF CYRUS & GALINA VAN, HELLBENT WEST DURING THE EIGHTH YEAR OF THE HARROWS, 1876; WITH AN ACCOUNT OF MAPPERS, BOUNTY HUNTERS, A TATAR, AND THE SCIENCE OF PHRENOLOGY is unlike any other book you will read this year.

Creating The Never-Ending Bloom

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?