Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Eastern Standard Crime Presents... Crooked

Geoff Eighinger's CROOKED has landed. The first issue features stories from Sandra Seamans, Albert Tucher, and Sandra Ruttan among others, and also includes an interview with Charles Adai. Wishing Geoff and Crooked the best for great success in '09.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Miles Davis and John Coltrane: So What

This video clip is an amazing moment in music. I love the shot of Miles playing while John Coltrane looks on. Then Miles takes time out for a smoke while Trane is performing. Too cool. "So What" is from Kind of Blue considered by many to be the greatest jazz album. And it's perfect music to have playing in the background while writing.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Feb. 2009

Elaine Ash brought to my attention this fantastic opening paragraph in the February issue of EQMM:
Chief Inspector Bozo of the Clowntown Homicide Squad stepped from his second-floor office wearing a fedora between his side-tufts of bright orange hair, hair which had, late in life, turned purple at the temples, giving him a distinguished look. But inside the large painted smile his mouth was grim. Someone had murdered Jumbo the Elephant.
Doesn't this make you want to read the rest of "Clowntown Pajamas" by James Powell? The February issue also contains stories from Loren D. Estleman, R.W. Kerrigan, and one of my favorites, Edward D. Hoch.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

BTAP #3: Disimpaction by Glenn Gray

I read this stopped-up little story one morning just before breakfast. What a mistake! I’ve always given Glenn Gray high marks for his dialogue, which is first-rate here as well, but it’s his descriptive content that wins out with this contribution to BEAT to a PULP. Dr. Gray proves the "write what you know" school of thought is the best procedure as his day job provides us with this thoroughly vivid tale.

Next week: "A Man Called Masters" by Jack Martin

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

After spending the last several months in the south, it's nice to return home to upstate New York for a white Christmas... although, I had one of those 'be careful what you wish for' moments. My charmer and I went out to do some shopping as a major snowstorm hit the area. Mix one icy patch with a slight turn, and next thing you know, we slid straight into another vehicle. If you look closely at the picture, you may see the bumper is bent a bit, but other than that, my Jeep held up very well. Can't say the same for the Cadillac. Anyway, the good news is that d and I are spending Christmas with family.

* * * * *

Merry Christmas and wishing you all a very Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two Sentence Tuesday

I received an early Christmas present... Alfred Hitchcock’s 1961 anthology, Stories For Late At Night, which contains contributions from the likes of John Collier, Roald Dahl, Brett Halliday, Robert Arthur etc. It’s the venerable Ray Bradbury’s work I will highlight. From "The Whole Town’s Sleeping":
Lavinia felt her heart going loudly within her and she was cold, too, with a February cold. There were bits of sudden snow all over her flesh and the moon washed her brittle fingers whiter, and she remembered doing all the talking while Francine just sobbed.
Very rarely am I disappointed by this master, nothing short of excellence. Now my humble little rough lines still in progress:
Stir in some falsified but damning evidence, like videotape, a sobbing hysterical daughter on the witness stand and a next door neighbor with a knack for telling stories. As I sit in my cell, I am reminded of an old saying, "You can bend it and twist it, you can misuse and abuse it, but even God cannot change the truth," unless, of course, you have enough money.
Now for some more great lines check out the ladies at Women of Mystery.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

BTAP #2: Hard Bite by Anonymous-9

I would hate to be challenged to a hardboiled laptop duel with Anonymous-9 -- I'd lose. This lady is the hardest of the hard. Somehow I always picture her back in the 1930's writing for Black Mask and knocking out incredible prose for a penny a word. If she had, we would be reading her collected works today. I received a couple emails on how I was going to follow up Patti Abbot's stellar story that launched our site. The answer is by turning 180 degrees and shooting the audience down a long dark alley where A-9 is waiting with Hard Bite.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Books: Maigret and the Wine Merchant by Georges Simenon

When I saw Wine Merchant (1969) sitting on the shelf at Books A Million, I decided it was time to catch up with Simenon's introspective Inspector Maigret in this classic police procedural series.

The story begins when a wine merchant is shot and killed outside the house where affluent men discreetly meet with their lovers. Maigret quickly learns that the merchant had many enemies, including the mistresses he treated with contempt, a former friend he had belittled and financially ruined, and even his wife who knew of her husband’s dalliances and apparently indulged in an affair with one of his colleagues.

A crime of passion? Probably, but who’s responsible?

An unidentified man begins calling Maigret and sending letters, condemning the inspector’s labored efforts to bring the killer to justice. After all, if everyone despised the smarmy merchant, then shouldn’t the killer be congratulated instead of hounded?

More subtle than Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct, Maigret tends to be interested in the psychology behind the crime rather than the clues and forensics. The police aspect of this story is balanced nicely with the inspector’s home life. Mrs. Maigret fusses over her husband in a loving way and this makes Maigret’s musings on the ‘whys’ of murder more meaningful.

The ending may seem a little far fetched to some but I appreciated the fact that instead of a cliché shoot out, the book lived up to the promise of getting inside the killer’s noggin and explaining the motives behind the murder.

Georges Simenon effortlessly delivers a superb study of crime. It’s a book I hope you'll find time to search out.

Head on over to Patti Abbott's site for more forgotten books.

Monday, December 15, 2008

OOTG #5 Review

Bookgasm has a review of Out of the Gutter's Revenge issue and Rod Lott called my degenerate pulp offering, "...nauseating yet entertaining."

Me gusta!

12/16 update: I just received OOTG #5 in the mail. I've only just begun reading it and the stories by Bruce Cooper, Matt Louis, Cindy Rosmus, Glenn Gray, and Nolan Knight are all first-rate.

I would also like to thank Victor Gischler and Anthony Neil Smith for choosing my story as one of the award winners. From these two distinguished writers, that's capped off a nice week for me.

BTW the great pulp art featured on the cover is by Jim Rugg.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

BTAP #1: The Instrument of Their Desire by Patricia Abbott

Well, BEAT to a PULP has debuted a little early. I believe all the kinks have been worked out and I’m hoping you will like the final product. My goal was simple: focus on the stories and make the site easy to navigate. I'm confident that’s been accomplished.

First, the site. I think in this day and age with so many distractions and limited time, one story a week is ideal. There will be a couple of exceptions because I have a novella or two that I will spotlight in the coming months along with our featured story, the Weekly Punch. Each time a new story is posted, the older one will be moved to the sidebar where it'll stay for several weeks until it makes it way into the archive.

Second, and most important: the stories. I live and breathe hardboiled. It will always be the foundation of my reading and writing. However, as my Mom always says, “Too much of anything is good for nothing,” so I decided to mix things up with diverse offerings in the vein of Lester Dent, Louis L’Amour, Harlan Ellison and Robert E. Howard. That’s what I believe we have done at BTAP, though I will let you be the judge. Over the next few months we have a western from Jack Martin, sci-fi and fantasy from Sandra Seamans and Barbara Martin. And nasty, sweaty hardboiled from Stephen D. Rogers, Anonymous-9, Glenn Gray, Charles Gramlich, Albert Tucher, Paul Bishop and Kieran Shea.

And there’s our debut story. I couldn’t be more excited, starting off BEAT to a PULP with Derringer Award winning author, Patti Abbott. When I approached Patti about submitting a story, she sent “The Instrument of Their Desire” saying that it may be too literary and not hardboiled enough. She said if it didn’t fit, she had another one that would. A few paragraphs into it, I realized I’d be remiss to pass on this amazing contribution. The story grabbed me with a terrific opening paragraph and didn’t let go all the way through to the electrifying ending. Patti, you have set the bar high; “Instrument” is a masterpiece and I can’t thank you enough.

I would like to thank two great collaborators for their indispensable support: DMix for designing the site and Elaine Ash who proofed the submissions making gems shine even brighter.

Most of you have my email so please drop me your opinions. And most importantly send your stories... enough blabbing on my part, here is BEAT to a PULP.

*My wife and I are still on the go, packing up our apartment in Virginia and as a result still don’t have immediate access to Internet. As a matter of fact, I had to go to Kinko’s to upload BTAP. Hopefully in a couple of days, things will be back to normal.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reading habits

Ok, I'm on the road (just stopped for the night in Chattanooga, Tennessee) and these are the books I brought with me. And yes, I'm reading all of them. I can't seem to read just one at a time. My charmer has called my reading habits schizophrenic... I pick up a book, read a chapter for about ten minutes, put it down and start a chapter from another book almost immediately. To me, it's the equivalent of flipping channels during commercials. But that's not to say I'm not getting all that I can from each book. Somehow I manage to take it all in. When it comes to the anthologies, I've been waiting several weeks between stories to really savor them.

Does anybody else have bizarre reading patterns or read more than one book at a time?


--The Man Who Went Up In Smoke (A Martin Beck Mystery), Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
--The Goliath Bone, Mickey Spillane
--Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
--Serenity: Those Left Behind, Whedon, Matthews and Conrad
--Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine
--Maigret And The Wine Merchant, Georges Simenon
--High Profile, Robert B. Parker
--Coronado, Dennis Lehane
--A Hell Of A Woman, Edited by Megan Abbott
--Texas Sheriff, Eugene Cunningham
--The Playboy Book Of Horror And The Supernatural

*I might not get a chance to make my usual rounds in the blogosphere this week. I'm traveling and also preparing Beat to a Pulp for Monday's debut.

Monday, December 8, 2008


My good friend, Boh Cyprain, recently traveled to the northwestern section of Cameroon where he snapped this picture of a rather interesting motorcycle. He writes:

Hi Dave, that motorcycle you see is the invention of one guy from Bamenda, my region; it actually works they way you think it does. Look critically and you will also notice that the gear selector is intact and works very well too.

I'm trying to picture Steve McQueen in The Great Escape outrunning the Nazis on this one.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Golden God

Editor Christopher Grant has been kind enough to post A Golden God over at A Twist Of Noir. It's a flash piece of mine about an assassin and an ill fated birthday party.

Update: Eastern Standard Crime has reviewed my story.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

BEAT to a PULP Link

Ok folks, here’s a sneak peek at BEAT to a PULP. Only the home page and the guidelines page are available until the entire site goes live December 15th. Our new email address for submissions is given on the guidelines page. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

I also received the following message from Elaine Ash:

Hello Fiction Writers! As David explained, I’m the new Editor at Large for Beat to a Pulp. Once you submit a story, David makes his decision regarding acceptance and then sends it to me for review. It’s a rare writer who sends in something without the occasional misspelling. The correction is bolded and then sent back to you, the writer, for approval. Of course, sometimes words, particularly in dialogue, are purposely misspelled to convey an accent or mental state of the character. That kind of misspelling is left alone. (Do I hear a collective sigh of relief?)

Sometimes, although a story has already been accepted for publication, I have an opinion on word usage or plotting, and I’ll put forward a suggestion. Writers are always free to debate my suggestions and politely decline. Most of the time, however, they see the benefit of running the story past a “fresh pair of eyes” and are happy to make a small change if it improves their work.

Finally, sometimes suggestions can be made by email. Other times, I need the benefit of the telephone to get my point across. If a writer wishes to keep their phone number private, I’m happy to give out my business phone number so the writer can call me at an arranged time, and block their number, ensuring privacy.

Keep writing, and I look forward to reading your work.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's Meme Time

I GOT MEMED! Brian Lindenmuth challenged Patti Abbott who in turn named yours truly. I need to list writers I’ve read who were new to me this year and then tag some others. This is easy because I’m sitting on a bunch of submissions for Beat to a Pulp (shameless plug), so I’ll name a few of these and then several gone but not forgotten authors.

Kieran Shea’s "Backing the Stakes" will be featured in mid-January in BTAP. His writing is sharp and concise. No words wasted. His hard boiled yarn hits you with both barrels center mass.

Jack Martin's’s "A Man Called Masters" is in the tradition of western giants like Zane Grey. A wonderful story and I will be looking forward to his full length Black Horse western coming out next year.

Charles Gramlich and I ‘met’ through James Reasoner’s blog. After we both survived Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, I decided to drop him a message on the Razored Zen. I was impressed with his horror offerings in October and still think he should start a monthly magazine. I contacted him about a story for my e-zine and he delivered "Whiskey, Guns, and Sin." Great title and extraordinary pulp. If you have never read his work before, you’ll be hooked after this.

And for the golden oldies: Luke Short, Eugene Cunningham, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, Will Eisner.

And now, I hope they don’t mind. I'll pass the torch on to Scott D. Parker and Chris, The Louis L’Amour Project, if they would like to give it a try.

Elaine Ash, Editor at Large for BTAP

I've lucked out at Beat to a Pulp with Elaine Ash coming onboard to edit stories. Elaine owned a publishing company in Toronto, Canada, and has worked with writers and directors in Hollywood for a decade, including names like Terry Gilliam, Mike Figgis, Lars Von Trier, Roland Joffe and more. If you have submitted a story to BTAP, you will probably be hearing from Elaine over the next few months.

I can personally attest to Elaine's editing skills as she is the one who gave me initial guidance on my story "Blubber" which won second place in the 10 Minute Read fiction contest in the current issue of Out of the Gutter.

In other news, our BTAP home and guidelines pages will go up this Friday. I made a slight mistake by not having a set of guidelines in place before our announcement of seeking submissions. The cart was put ahead of the horse so to speak. So, come back in two days for the link, and you'll be able to take a look at what we're looking for and, at the same time, get a sneak peek of the website.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Two Sentence Tuesday

I'm taking my time reading The Goliath Bone to really enjoy it since it's chronologically the final Mike Hammer novel. So far, it's tops. Spillane has a stylistic approach all his own as our favorite detective deals with Islamic terrorists, Israeli extremists, and the alleged preserved femur of one Biblical giant. I decided to highlight some of his descriptive text:

He wore no topcoat—he’d gone from the phone call from me straight to his limo and here. In his early sixties, he looked like what the guy in the old Arrow Shirt ads might have aged into, movie-star handsome with steel gray hair but black eyebrows over green eyes that could eat you alive and the kind of quietly regal demeanor high officials assume when they wear the robes of office.
To think that Phillip Marlowe had been pounding the pavement for years when Hammer first appeared on the scene in I, The Jury in 1947. Marlowe 'soon retired' to Poodle Springs, but not Hammer and Velda. They are in New York still fighting the good fight in 2008. That makes for a good feeling.

My two pitiful lines come from a story that has been idle for more than a year, and I can see why. It doesn't hold a candle to the fine words of Spillane but maybe if I keep working at it. Here's something from "The Suitcase":

After the drug had worn off the confined denizen, the sound of a latch sliding open inside the suitcase resonated throughout the empty diner. A small figure stepped free from the leather prison, stretching his muscles and yowling.
Yowling? That probably gives away our confined denizen. And denizen? Ha! Back to the drawing board as they say.

For more Two Sentence Tuesday, check out the Women of Mystery...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Border Guns by Eugene Cunningham

The front rank stopped. What Ross told them was all too true. He was a dead man if any chose to flip back a Colt-hammer-but two, or three, or four in that front rank would surely be as dead. Those behind pushed upon those in front. But the men directly before those muzzles dug in their heels and upon their faces showed the beginning of a change in emotions-the breaking of their savage determination to rescue their lieutenant from the jail, and settle this unpleasant personage with the shotgun; some thought of the gaping wounds left by buckshot....

I enjoyed this 1935 western. Guns is well-plotted with thrilling action and exceptional dialogue. For more info on Cunningham, check out The Handbook of Texas. Next to Luke Short, Cunningham is a writer whose work I will collect. Thanks to J.R. for recommending him.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bill Raetz and the World Espionage Bureau

I’ve quickly found out that being an editor of a webzine has a very nice (and obvious) perk -- reading all the great work firsthand. Author Bill Raetz has graciously allowed me to spotlight an excerpt from his forthcoming novel, NO BLOOD, NO FOUL, that will appear on Beat to a Pulp at the end of February. This is the first I’ve read of Bill’s work and based on this chapter, I’m looking forward to its March 1st release. It’s also piqued my interest in his earlier novel, The Lie Detector. What a great pulp cover! You can find out more about Bill Raetz’s books at the World Espionage Bureau.

BTAP is still taking submissions. Email:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Dumb Factor by Sandra Seamans

What are you doing here?! Our friend Sandra has a story called The Dumb Factor at A Twist of Noir. I'm zipping over to check it out myself...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two Sentence Tuesday

My two lines are hot off the laptop and may still need a final polish, but here goes:
Patty’s bleating always gets under my skin and, even though I know better, I can't help dishing out a little dig at my husband’s sniveling princess, “That's something you will have to live with.”

Her fury explodes. She lunges at me full force, grabbing my collar, screaming, “Where is he?!”
This is from a short with a working title, The Missing Husband of Mildred Malloy. In this particular scene, an elderly woman is confronted by her stepdaughter who is suspicious after the disappearance of her father.

I made some time to read part of January’s Ellery Queen issue. From the "Passport to Crime" section comes this nugget from a gem of a story by Susanne Mischke:
It’s difficult to say how and when the tragedy began. The grip of disaster may even stretch back as far as two years ago, when Aldi had a sale on strings of Christmas lights and the Knochenhauers bought one of them and wound it around the stunted pine tree in their little front yard.
My writing this week has fallen by the wayside as I’ve been reading submissions and working on the design for Beat to a Pulp. We have some mighty impressive stories lined up for the first month with some dramatic twists, hardboiled action and western thrills. Don’t forget, if you want to submit a story, send it to

For more Two Sentence Tuesday, check out Women of Mystery...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Le General Marquis de Lafayette Medallion

My grandfather, Fred Cranmer (1904-1991), had worked a variety of jobs throughout his lifetime. Farmer. Carpenter. Ditch digger. It was his days as a ditch digger during the Great Depression when he found this medallion celebrating the centennial of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. He gave it to me when I was just a kid.

I hadn't seen the medallion in years and thought it was long lost. Fortunately, my mother saves everything, and as I was rummaging through some boxes at her house, lo and behold, I found the medallion where she had placed it with all my Army coins. A nice discovery.

This little treasure is one of the few items I have from my grandfather and that makes it priceless to me. Some day, I’m sure I will send it to the college, maybe for their bicentennial in 2032. In the meantime, I'll just keep a closer eye on it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My Saturday Mornings

I was a Saturday morning cartoon fanatic in the 1970’s. I couldn’t wait to plop down in front of the boob tube, tune into Bugs, Scooby, Tarzan, and soak 'em up until my mom pulled the plug, so to speak.

Though I loved all the cartoons, probably my favorite excursions were the live action dramas that came on after the animations. Does anybody else remember Ark II?

The Ark II is a futuristic, high-tech RV that carried the crew of Jonah (the leader), Ruth and Samuel (a sister and brother team), and Adam (a talking chimpanzee) across the country. The crew's mission was to right the wrongs and promote peace in a post apocalyptic world. The Ark Roamer, a jeep like vehicle, and jet packs allowed the crew to go where the Ark II couldn't take them.

The ever-expanding YouTube had a clip from the show:

After all these years, I have one question, why Jonah and not Noah?

Of course, YouTube is brilliant because one memory leads to another. Here's Isis and Shazam.

When it came to animation, Tarzan was a favorite of mine. Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (36 episodes from 1976–77) was rather intelligent entertainment for Saturday morning and, in many ways, it is the most faithful adaptation of Edgar Rice Burrough’s creation. This Tarzan is smart and well-spoken. His sidekick is N’kima the monkey (Cheeta is from the movies). The animation is based upon the work of Burrough's favorite Tarzan artist, Burne Hogarth, and the series featured many of the lost cities from the novels. Ok, I just read all that from Wikipedia, but from my continued "research" for this post, I watched Tarzan ‘The City of Gold’ and it was as good as I remembered it.

Yeah, it’s dated for today’s audiences but not for this big kid looking through 1970's spectacles.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New e-zine: BEAT to a PULP

After a little urging, I decided to put together an e-zine, rounding up some help from Patti Abbott, Sandra Seamans, Glenn Gray, Albert Tucher, Anonymous-9, Terrie Farley Moran, Clare Toohey, and many others who have graciously agreed to contribute stories.

Like some of the old pulps that featured a detective story on the heels of a western and a high seas adventure, I’d like to see BEAT to a PULP follow in those footsteps, running the gamut of storytelling, a smorgasbord of short story fiction at its best, though the emphasis will be on hard boiled.

I plan to set a 1,500 word limit but, let’s face it, if Stephen King sent me a 10,000 word romance between Hungarian acrobats, I’d publish it. As a matter of fact, Patti’s story is set to kick off our e-zine with a mini-masterpiece that clocks in around 4,000 words.

Expect a debut of December 15. I will keep you posted on the progress.

If you have a story you would like to submit, please send it to:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy Bday, Gene Tierney

Today is Gene Tierney’s birthday which is reason enough to post a photo of the woman Darryl F. Zanuck said was, "...undeniably the most beautiful actress in movie history."

Tierney contributed to the Noir genre with many great film roles, including Laura (1944), Leave Her to Heaven (1945), Whirlpool (1949), Night and the City (1950) and Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950).

My personal favorite is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), a romantic fantasy film with Rex Harrison. Advise and Consent (1962) with Henry Fonda and directed by Otto Preminger is a late career highlight. As for her most famous role, actor Vincent Price said, "No one but Gene Tierney could have played 'Laura.' There was no other actress around with her particular combination of beauty, breeding, and mystery."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two Sentence Tuesday

I dug out an old short story that I had set aside, and I started reworking it this past weekend. I now see the entire story was told in the first four paragraphs, leaving a very uninteresting and anti-climatic ending. The following lines are from halfway through when a man has just killed his best friend because he found out his wife and friend were having an affair:
Finally finished, he dragged the lifeless body to the grave’s edge and pushed it in with the heel of his foot. He was filling it in when he remembered the glass eye was still on the green.
I've started reading The Playboy Book of Horror and the Supernatural, a 1967 anthology featuring heavy hitters like Ray Bradbury and The Twilight Zone writers, Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson. Two lines from Matheson's No Such Thing As A Vampire are:
Moving to the closet, Gheria drew down his bag and carried it to the bed. He tore Alexis's nightdress from her upper body, and within seconds, had drawn another syringe full of her blood: this would be the last withdrawal, fortunately.
Matheson wrote a number of Zone classics, including "Steel" and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" episodes. His science fiction novel, I Am Legend (1954), has been filmed several times, most recently with Will Smith in 2007.

For more Two Sentence Tuesday, check out Women of Mystery...

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Town Monday: Another City, Not My Own

Ok, I stole that title from Dominick Dunne but it seems appropriate. I mean, I've yet to highlight my hometown in upstate NY, but I hope to do that soon.

Meanwhile, I spent a relaxing weekend writing in the town that James Lee Burke calls home in New Iberia, Louisiana (well, at least part of the time), and it was here that I managed to make some headway with two short stories and the new e-zine, Beat to a Pulp.

For an afternoon distraction, my wife mentioned going to Avery Island where Tabasco is made.

It was a nice tour. A guide gave a brief speech, showed us to a room where we watched a ten minute video, then we walked past the manufacturing lines and into a small exhibit space. We learned a lot about how peppers become the infamous hot sauce.

50 acres of Avery Island are dedicated to growing peppers. The best are selected for their seeds, which are shipped to Central and South America where the majority of the peppers for the sauce are grown.

The peppers are picked and immediately processed with salt mined from Avery Island.

The salted peppers are shipped back to Avery Island to be mashed and stored in oak barrels for three years. (These barrels come from the Jack Daniels company who use the barrels for only one year in making their whiskey. The Tabasco company uses the barrels for 21-23 years, at which point, they're broken up and sold as BBQ wood chips, flavored with whiskey and Tabasco!)

Once the pepper mash is done, it's mixed with distilled vinegar and stirred for 23 days. Only then is it ready for bottling.

The process is actually more detailed than that. If you're interested, the Tabasco website has a great video.

The iconic diamond label showing how to get there.

The main building where tours begin.

Unfortunately the manufacturing lines weren't running on Saturday.

The country store and gift shop.

Browsing the goods. Got some spicy dark chocolate and hot cinnamon mints.

Little d braves the 'wind chill.'


For other My Town Mondays, drop by Travis Erwin's site...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Wild Wild West: The Complete TV Series

What you are looking at is a grown man's refusal to let go of his inner child. I have been eyeballing The Wild Wild West dvds for the past couple of years and finally went ahead and bought the whole kit and caboodle... all four seasons packaged together. And what's great about this collection is that it includes the TV reunion movies, The Wild Wild West Revisited (1979) and More Wild Wild West (1980). As I see it, I'm doing my part to help stimulate the economy. Ninety smackeroos for the boxed set.

Watching this show as a kid, I was of course mesmerized by all the gadgets and stunts of Jim West (Robert Conrad), but now I can appreciate the interplay with and significance of West's partner, Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin). I've only just begun watching, and I'm curious to see how long my wife can stay tuned since this isn't her cup of tea. But I expect to be highly entertained for all 85 hours.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Books: Death in Ecstasy by Ngaio Marsh

Death in Ecstasy gets off to a running start when journalist Nigel Bathgate, a parallel to Sherlock's Watson, is bored enough to stop by the controversial church, House of the Sacred Flame.
She raised the cup to her lips. Her head tipped back and back until the last drop must have been drained. Suddenly she gasped violently. She slewed half round as if to question the priest. Her hands shot outwards as though she offered him the cup. Then they parted inconsequentially. The cup flashed as it dropped to the floor. Her face twisted into an appalling grimace. Her body twitched violently. She pitched forward like an enormous doll, jerked twice and then was still.
This is the catalyst that brings Bathgate's friend Chief Detective-Inspector Roderick Alleyn of New Scotland Yard on the scene. Alleyn is a gentlemanly detective in the vein of Lord Peter Wimsey. He’s not as eccentric as some of the sophisticated detectives of the golden age but that’s what gives him a modern edge. With his mini pre-CSI team in tow, Detective-Inspector Fox, his assistant; Detective-Sergeant Bailey, the fingerprint expert and Dr. Curtis, the surgeon, Alleyn is determined to solve the case of who killed Cara Quayne.

The question in Ecstasy is classic: Who had access to the communion that killed the victim and what’s the motive? It’s immediately clear everybody had a motive and ability. If you don’t enjoy the classic set-ups, then you might not care for this story. But I like the old style and I thought the way Marsh devoted a chapter to each potential murderer and offered plenty of clues and red herrings was entertaining.

Early crime stories like Ecstasy often included a list of the characters involved in the case at the beginning. This roll call is a blessing for someone like me who has never been the most adept at remembering dozens of names and their occupations and connections. Another nice touch is a drawing of the murder scene and a quaint illustration of two scraps of burnt paper that Detective-Inspector Fox fished out from an ash tray with tweezers. These little touches were probably unnecessary but helped to spice up the storytelling.

I spotted this 1943 edition of Death in Ecstasy in a used bookstore. The dust cover is in tatters and will crumble if I’m not careful. A message on the back explains: This book is printed on thinner paper in accordance with a ruling of the War Production Board and the wartime need to conserve materials and manpower. I will probably find a archival sleeve to store it in to preserve any farther damage.

Ngaio Marsh is regarded as one the four original "Queens of Crime" along with Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham and Dorothy L. Sayers. These talented writers ruled crime fiction beginning in the 1920s. More information on Marsh can be found here and here.

For more Friday’s Forgotten Books, check out Patti Abbott’s blog.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday night musings

My cyber travels this week brought me to "Rupture" by Glenn Gray over at Powder Burn Flash. This story has great pacing and you can always count on terrific dialog from Gray. However, it's the imagery in this piece that really steals the show...

I've previously blogged about the latest Yellow Mama issue and I just finished reading all the stories. It's not that I'm a slow reader but when something is good I love to savor it. I still haven't finished A Hell of a Woman or Big Book of Pulps because they are so darn good. Oh, and I've just been handed The Playboy Book of Horror and Supernatural to add to the pile. This collection contains stories from John Collier, Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, and Robert Bloch. I will be happily reading it for the next year. Ok, I'm rambling. All the stories in Yellow Mama are excellent, and several weeks after reading it, "Il Pagliaccio Morto" by Cindy Rosmus and her character, Baci, is still sticking with me. Check it out and look for Cindy in the upcoming Out of the Gutter with her prize winning story "All Gone"...

I have been hooked on Sandra Seaman's work after her "Savior Self" appeared on Shred of Evidence. She now blogs regularly and has brought to our attention three new e-zines: A Twist of Noir, Bad Things, and Crooked. As she mentioned, it's nice to see e-zines rising from the ashes. Speaking of which, I have decided to start one myself. It will be called Beat To A Pulp and will debut December 15. It will be in the vein of Muzzle Flash and feature one story at a time, updated weekly. I will have more information on this soon and a place to submit stories... Gotta go. Time to finish my review of a Ngaio Marsh novel for tomorrow's forgotten books.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Spirit Femmes Fatales

My first encounter with The Spirit was in The Mammoth Book of Crime Comics in a story titled, "The Portier Fortune." I became an instant fan, learning what most comic followers already knew: Will Eisner is deserving of the overly used word “genius.” I just finished The Spirit Femmes Fatales which only reinforced my appreciation for Eisner’s work.
Denny Colt, a young criminologist, believed to have lost his life in a fight against crime, was buried in a state of suspended animation. He awoke one day in Wildwood Cemetery, determined to carry on his struggle... his true identity known only to Police Commissioner Dolan. He is feared by criminals of all stripes as the Spirit!
For a guy who’s supposed to be dead, the Spirit certainly has a lot of women troubles. The rogues’ gallery consists of Silk Satin, Madame Minx, Pantha Stalk, Powder Pouf, Lorelei Rox, Plaster of Paris, Dulcet Tone, Silken Floss M.D., Wild Rice, Saree, Nylon Rose and P’Gell...

“I am P’Gell and this is NOT a story for little boys!!” is how the best vixen of the bunch introduces her story, "Meet P’Gell." Just how seductive and alluring is the femme fatale? In "Portier Fortune," a father asks about sex of his newborn child, and then the baby responds, “P’Gell,” to which the doctor replies, “Then it’s a boy!!”

Ellen Dolan, the commissioner’s daughter, is the Spirit’s long suffering girlfriend, and she has her work cut out for her with competition from all these dames, in particular the sexy Silk Satin, a somewhat reformed criminal who still leans toward the other side of the law.

A few tender moments with Ellen and Silk aside, The Spirit is a laugh-out-loud comic. Who wouldn’t love the slapstick comedy in the style of The Three Stooges when Denny Colt and other characters get whacked over the head, booted in the rear or fall down a flight of stairs? Or the sharp wit, as when a man with a knife sticking through his shirt says to the Spirit, “Er, sorry to bother you, but this is the fourth time today this has happened! I’m beginning to suspect foul play.”? And not to mention, as with most comics, the plain absurdities? Our hero never takes off his mask even when he goes undercover in other disguises. He shows up in an operating room wearing a surgeon’s mask and leaving on his trademark eye mask. And though he appears to be killed over and over, he always returns in time to save the day.

One caveat, modern audiences may be surprised by stereotyped role of Ebony, the Spirit’s sidekick. A Wikipedia entry posted an explanation and defense of the character:
Eisner is sometimes criticized for his depiction of Ebony White, the Spirit's African American sidekick. He later admitted to consciously stereotyping the character, but said he tried to do so with "responsibility", and argued that "at the time humor consisted in our society of bad English and physical difference in identity." The character developed beyond the stereotype as the series progressed, and Eisner also introduced black characters (such as the plain-speaking Detective Grey) who defied popular stereotypes.
The Spirit Femmes Fatales hooked me and I will be diving into more of Will Eisner’s engrossing noir-inspired comic creation. After all, I know I must have missed half the fun as the original series matured over its twelve year run. Also I need to fill my vicarious thrills quota as he dates all those beautiful women and paints the town red. What a life!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Two Sentence Tuesday

So, here goes... I’m throwing my hat into the Two Sentence Tuesday arena...

“Mr. Phanschmidt, I'm dying very slowly, a little too slowly for my tastes. Eventually Jackie will inherit my wealth and the headaches that go with it, including unfortunate business like you.”

This is from a rough draft with the working title of An Old Address. When it’s finished I plan to send it into Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, which may be a bit optimistic of me, but for a very specific reason, this is the only place where I can submit it.

As far as reading, I’ve been immersing myself in westerns lately because of a noir-style western that I'm working on. Currently I’m reading The Big Westerner by Robert Easton, Seminole Showdown by Jon Sharpe and Border Guns by Eugene Cunningham. The following is from Border Guns:

In the few remaining miles that separated him from Rawles and whatever might lie in wait there for him, Ross passed four or five riders who eyed him aslant, nodded very gravely, stared thoughtfully at his long limbed black, and fox-trotted past him. Men of varying ages, from twenty, perhaps, to forty, were these, but whatever their years might number, they were alike in the careless roughness of their clothing, in a certain grim watchfulness and wolfish alertness of barren.

I would like to thank Clare of Women of Mystery for the invitation to join the Two Sentence Tuesday fun.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Town Monday: Last of the Rayne

This post ends my MTM look at the amazing town of Rayne, Louisiana. A quick recap from previous entries: Rayne is known as the Frog capital of the world and stands out with all its frog murals gracing many of the city's building. Along one of the main streets is a cemetery facing the wrong direction that made Ripley’s Believe It or Not. It was the site of one of the country's WWII POW camps. To top it all off, Rayne is home to several frogs who were sent into space. I didn’t blog about this last one but Rayne's Chamber of Commerce explains all about our little green friends going where no other frog has gone before.

So, what's left? Why, the annual Frog Festival, of course! Little d and I had been waiting all year for the frog derby and jumping contest. We were disappointed when the September festival was postponed because of Hurricane Gustav, mainly because we weren't sure if we'd still be in town for the new November dates. But we're still here, and we happily spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon at the fun-filled event. There was a midway with plenty of rides (we opted for the ferris wheel), games and food. We missed the early morning frog derby *Groan!* but we were able to catch the live Cajun music, an arts and crafts show, and a big parade. Here are a few pics:

Click here for other My Town Monday posts on Travis Erwin's site...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Order OOTG's Revenge Issue

Out of the Gutter has just announced the release date for the Revenge issue. I hope everyone zips over and orders a copy. If you order before November 21, they promise you can get it for "less than the cover price!"

With so few avenues left for writers these days, it’s really important to support these publications.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday’s Forgotten Books: The Saint in New York by Leslie Charteris

While most avid readers of crime fiction know The Saint is the work of author Leslie Charteris, a talk with some friends and coworkers who aren’t as keen on crime novels uncovered that The Saint is not well known beyond the 1997 movie with Val Kilmer. Only a few had heard of the 60’s TV show with Roger Moore. And so, I thought I’d review The Saint in New York.
“Pardon me. In the excitement of the moment, and all that sort of thing, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m afraid I’ve had you at a disadvantage. My name is Templar—Simon Templar”—he caught the flash of stark hypnotic fear that blanched the big man’s lips, and grinned even more gently. “You may have heard of me. I am the Saint.”
Simon Templar befriends wealthy American, William Valcross, whose son was murdered in the Big Apple. He’s given an offer he can't refuse: a million dollars to go to New York and bring the killer to justice. But it’s no easy task with the corruption that pervades the city’s judicial system. He cleans up the graft by eliminating men from the mafioso’s hierarchy, meticulously working his way to the top to find out the identity of the "The Big Fellow" who is controlling the city.

What struck me about reading this early entry in the series is Simon Templar’s hard-edge. Halfway through the story, he has already killed three gangsters and hijacked a taxi to escape from the police. In the short story adventures from the 1950s and early 60s that I’ve read, Templar is more mild-mannered, almost a gentlemanly Christie style sleuth. Comparatively, this younger version of the Saint kicked some major ass.

But Templar’s chutzpa seemed to be intact from the start. He dresses as a nun to elude the police and kidnaps a detective to convince him they are working toward the same goal. Templar brazenly sends his famous haloed stick figure logo to announce his arrival to the opposition. His employer Valcross asks him why he would do this, making his job even harder. The Saint replies:
“It goes back to some grand times—of which you’ve heard,” he said quietly. “The Saint was a law of his own in those days, and that little drawing stood for battle and sudden death and all manner of mayhem. Some of us live for it—worked for it—fought for it. One of us died for it….There was a time when any man who received a note like I sent to Irboll, with that signature, knew there was nothing more he could do. And since we’re out on this picnic, I’d like things to be the same—even if it’s only for a little while.”
This is the first full-length Saint novel that I’ve read, but I had no problem starting here because Charteris ingeniously updates readers in the first chapter with a letter from Scotland Yard warning the New York police chief of his suspicion that the Saint is in town. The letter conveniently rehashes all of the Saint’s adventures from the beginning.

If I had one complaint, it would be that Charteris seemed to pad the story a bit by repeating similar circumstances. In particular, he has to contend with too many villains on his way to the top kingpin. Also, we are reminded a bit too often that the handsome Simon Templar has sparkling blue eyes!

These small gripes aside, this novel is a lot of fun. Charteris had an ability to write with effortless charm similar to the later Ian Fleming. The Saint in New York is highly recommended.

Click here for more Friday's Forgotten Books on Patti Abbott's site...

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Town Monday: Life in West Africa

Mr. Boh wrote this piece over a year ago when he was actively looking for a job. He tells of the trials and tribulations in securing a position in his country. Despite all the difficulties getting through the bureaucratic red tape and corruption, we are happy to know that he was successful in this search. At the end, he's sent along some pictures of himself and his colleagues.

Getting a job is Cameroon is like forcing the camel through the eye of a needle. It has always been a very difficult task. Most often, before vacancies are published, those to fill them had already been selected and at times already working. This is a common practice with the private sector whose employees make sure that the office is filled by blood brothers or brothers from the same village or tribe. This "kanka" worm has eaten deep into the society that even public examinations are not corrected regarding merit but on who pays in how much to which minister or authority. Examination scripts are corrected in terms of which minister has sent in what list with how many names. However, there are still a few hopefuls like foreign embassies that recruit based on merit.

Recently the US Embassy in Cameroon launched a job opening for a driver for their motor pool and not less than 300 persons applied. A month later 15 candidates were short-listed for the interviews. I happen to have been one of the candidates short-listed. We did the interviews each at a time and at the end, it was announced that a selected few would still be called up for the driving test. Three weeks have gone by, still no appointment to any of us and still the vacancy remains.

While we continue to wait in agony, I stopped by a cyber cafe to check my email, and as I opened my inbox I had so many emails but one caught my attention; it was labeled "Your application for employment". I hurriedly opened that mail and it was
from the Kingdom of the Netherlands' Embassy in Cameroon. It was just to inform me that they did not have an immediate opening for a driver at their embassy and to wish me well in my search for one. This was an application that had been deposited since the month of March.

Similarly, UNESCO had sent me a mail through the post office in response to an application I submitted in their office. Theirs said they were sorry to inform me
that after the driving test conducted in their office I was not retained meanwhile I never participated in any test organised by the UNESCO office in Cameroon. This is just one case in a million. Before the vacancy was launched someone's brother was already working in that post. Their publication of that vacancy was just to tell the world that they are not involved in the corruption thing here in Cameroon. How do they stay safe from corruption when they have left the recruitment of their local staff in the hands of Cameroonians; remember Cameroon has been classified two times world champions in corruption.

Recently the US Ambassador to Cameroon, His Excellency Niels Marquard, single handedly lead the anti-corruption struggle with threats like having to curb the good existing trade relations between Cameroon and the US. The President of the Republic was forced to track down and arrest a few government ministers charged with embezzlement and corruption and they are presently serving a jail term in the Yaoundé central prison in 'KONDENGUI'.

This was the first giant step ever taken and it is hoped that in a few more decades to come, Cameroon would be like other economies of the world with jobs available for all classes of people.

G4S (Group 4 Secoricor) employs about 5000 Cameroonians and is ranged about the third largest employer in the country now; recently, they dramatically changed their recruitment policy; to be a common guard now with this company, one has to be a holder of the GCE Ordinary level (General Certificate of Education). Just a decade ago, this job was reserved only for the under schooled persons, i.e. those who have
not even completed elementary education and have nothing more like a certificate to show in addition to their birth certificates. Now that even University graduates come crowding at the gates of G4 company during recruitment they have automatically changed their policy. This was just to justify how much it is difficult to secure a job here in the country. [07 September 2007]

Click here for other My Town Monday posts on Travis Erwin's site...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The White House Box of Chocolates

With the election coming up, I thought I would repost something I did for another website last December after a good friend had gone to the White House and brought back a small, official box of White House chocolate.

At the time I wondered, “Should I open it or not?” with the idea that perhaps it could become a collector’s item and it would be better to leave the box intact.

Well, almost a year later, I still have not opened it, and the candy has sat on the shelf in a confined apartment in the Virginia summer heat while I've been away on assignment.

I’m guessing by now the chocolate tastes like a standard stale M&M, and I think it may be time to get rid of the candy inside. But I’m still rather hesitant to open and ruin the box.

Well, maybe if I’m lucky, the ants have already taken care of the dilemma for me, but I’ll have to wait until I get home to find out.

Ok, a silly post for sure but what would you do?

Sidebar: Little d and I went to Walgreen's last night and bought some candy corn and miniature Reese's peanut butter cups -- not for trick or treaters (we're staying in a hotel and didn't expect any), this was for us, and let me tell you, without any adult supervision we ate too much and are feeling three pounds heavier already.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Powder Burn Flash

Mysterydawg has been kind enough to post a debut flash of mine. This is a great site and I hope everyone goes over, signs up and supports the e-zine. Other contributions for this week are from the talents of James C. Clar, Keith Rawson, and Barry Baldwin.

Friday's Forgotten Books: While The Clock Ticked by F.W. Dixon

This may be more of a personal forgotten book, the Hardy Boys are as popular as ever, but it's been 28 years since I've read a 'Hardy' story. Normally I’m not one to go back to a book I've already read, but a wave of nostalgia must have overcome me when I found a 1932 edition of While the Clock Ticked......

On the morning of my tenth Christmas, I awoke to a large white cloth ‘wrapping’ the bookshelf in the living room. When I finally got the okay from my parents to ‘open’ my gift, I pulled back the cloth and was ecstatic to find the entire set of the Hardy Boys books. I was dumbfounded at the sheer number of them and I remember childishly thinking that this must have cost my parents thousands of dollars. That collection, which I still have, was the first to spur my first interest in detective novels (this cover creeped me out when I originally read the story).

While The Clock Ticked is 11th in the series. Raymond Dalrymple, the town banker, calls to enlist the services of the boys' detective father, Fenton Hardy. With Mr. Hardy and his wife away on vacation, Dalrymple reluctantly agrees to allow the teenage sleuths to investigate after much insistence from Frank and Joe.

Dalrymple has purchased the old Purdy house on the shore road. Jason Purdy was an eccentric and he had built a secret vault with a time lock mechanism to have a safe place to count his gold. Dalrymple discovers the room along with threatening messages warning him to stay away: “Death while the clock ticks”. How the messages get into the room is quite ingenious and entertainingly demonstrated by Frank.

Revisiting the characters was like catching up with old friends. From Chief Collig and Detective Smuff to the girlfriends, Iola Morton and Callie Shaw, and the chums Tony Prito, Phil Cohen, Biff Hooper and Jerry Gilroy. And, of course, I can't forget roly-poly Chet Morton (Iola’s brother) who owns an old yellow jalopy he lovingly called Queen, and, when he’s not busy eating, he always seems to have a hobby that aids in the brothers' investigation. Also, there is everybody’s favorite Aunt Gertrude, who seems hard on the sleuths but deep down is very proud of her nephews. In this original version, Aunt Gertrude seems to play a bigger and harsher role than I remember in the revamped editions I read as a kid.

I discovered the entire series overhauled in the 1950s due to outdated phrases, like roadsters, and unflattering stereotypes, e.g., in While The Clock Ticked, reference is made to how well Indians can give a rebel yell. Check out some websites with great information on the series here and here.

I enjoyed returning to Frank and Joe after all these years. There’s plenty of action in this book for any ten-year-old to enjoy, and apparently for a grown man as well. I finished the book in nearly one sitting.

This secondhand book has a lot of character with stained pages every couple of chapters. Using my detective skills, I reasoned it must have belonged to a young kid who sat alone in the corner of the school lunchroom everyday, ravenously eating up each page along with a peanut butter sandwich while the clock ticked the minutes away.

Click here for more Friday's Forgotten Books on Patti Abbott's site...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dorothy Parker quotes

It was Jennifer Jason Leigh’s mannerisms and mumblings in 1994’s Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle that caught my interest in writer, critic, poet Dorothy Parker. Though Parker is primarily known for biting humor in her column for The New Yorker, she was also a fine short story writer. Her best-known work of fiction (and a personal favorite), Big Blonde, won the O. Henry Award as the Best Short Story of 1929. Here are some examples of her "pointed verbal wit":

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. [Said of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged]

If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised.

I don't care what is written about me so long as it isn't true.

Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.

You can't teach an old dogma new tricks.

The two most beautiful words in the English language are 'cheque enclosed.'

It serves me right for keeping all my eggs in one bastard.

The only ism Hollywood believes in is plagiarism.

Ducking for apples -- change one letter and it's the story of my life.

She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B.

I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I'm under the table,
After four I'm under my host.

I might repeat to myself slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound - if I can remember any of the damn things.

That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Cranmer Family (1885)

A photocopy of my family ca. 1885.

My dad, like many others in the 1970s, was inspired by Alex Haley's Roots and he began tracing our genealogy. He hunted through cemeteries and archives, collecting all kinds of treasures. Among them was a tin photo of our family from the 19th century. My dad had guessed the photo was taken in 1885 because the little girl, Margaret [sitting on her mother's lap], who was born July 8, 1883 appears to be about 2 years old. I.J. [standing behind his mother to the left] is my grandfather's father. It's amazing to peer into the face of a stranger and see yourself.

I remember my father telling me that when he was a young boy, he met most of the children in this photo, but is was his great uncle Charlie [sitting between his parents behind the two children in front] who had impressed him most. He recalled Charlie being a large man with big forearms and biceps from a lifetime of cutting wood. What made this so extraordinary to my dad was that Charlie was born without the use of his legs (someone had written the now non-PC word "cripple" on the photo).

In his research, Dad came across military discharge papers of the family’s patriarch, Alfred [sitting on the right], that show he served in the American Civil War and was wounded at Antietam. The Battle of Antietam was fought on September 17, 1862 near Sharpsburg and Antietam Creek as part of the Maryland Campaign. It was the first major battle in the Civil War to take place on Northern soil and came to be remembered as the bloodiest single-day battle in American history with almost 23,000 casualties. My great-great grandfather was one of fortunate soldiers to survive with, according to the records, a shot to the thigh.

A tale about Alfred's father, John, has been passed down the generations. The story goes that late one night, John was returning from a neighbor's house with an armful of venison when he suddenly encountered several wolves. Knowing that he couldn't outrun the pack, John jumped up on a stump and dispensed with the meat and then quickly left the wolves to enjoy their dinner. A small, insignificant story perhaps but it’s a piece of family history I don't want to be forgotten. And as I click on the publish button, these memories are now a part of the digital age.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I’m researching the oldest profession for a western short that I'm working on when I came across this epitaph from a headstone in Pioche, Nevada...
Here lies the body of Virginia Marlotte,
She was born a virgin and died a harlot.
For eighteen years she preserved her virginity
That's a damned good record for this vicinity.

It may be made up, but it certainly gave me a chuckle.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Peter Gunn

I'm a big fan of jazz, detectives and film noir, not to mention femme fatales that can drop a man with a single stare. So then how is it that I’ve never seen Peter Gunn? I remember back in the 80s watching a few minutes of the horrible Peter Strauss version. Maybe that’s what did it in for me and so I never bothered to check out the original Blake Edwards classic. Rap Sheet recently did a post on the 50th anniversary of the show and I decided it was time to catch up.

I just finished watching the first sixteen episodes. Since I am the one who’s two martinis behind on this classic, I’ll keep it short. Craig Stevens as Gunn is perfect. As they say he’s hot on the case and cool under pressure. Lola Albright is the girlfriend who, according to the back of the dvd case, can melt butter at twenty yards, and I agree. My favorite actor on the show is Herschel Bernardi who plays the role of Lt. Jacoby in such an understated performance that he steals each scene. Oh, and the jazz is ultra cool, not just the unforgettable Henry Mancini theme but every noir scene is packed with appropriate gritty jazz.

I’ve posted the first episode, "The Kill." Everything about this first set was topnotch. You probably already knew that, but for those that don’t, check out this episode. It's a shame there are so many commercials but it’s only twenty-five minutes. Give it a try. I think you will be happy you did.

Watch Peter Gunn: The Kill (Part 1 of 7) in Entertainment Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Portrait Me


Denise Morrow is a good friend Little d and I met in Belize a couple years ago. She’s a wonderful artist living in Arizona who’s working on a painting of yours truly. It is quite an honor to be immortalized on canvas. The picture was taken by my charmer in Cameroon in 2004. (Maybe with a few flames I could be the Ghost Rider?!)