Time to dig in and finsih scripting the new graphic novel.
It started with Streets of Fire, the 80's Walter Hill film starring Michael Pare. Both Matt and I love it. He had recently purchased the DVD, and I made him lend it to me within days. As a child, I watched Eddie and the Cruisers endlessly. When I first saw SOF, I was hooked. A crime film with Michael Pare! With music and Rick Moranis. Solid gold. My day was cancelled whenever it was on HBO.
So Matt and I decided we needed to write something we'd enjoy just as much. Within days we had the beats. I took over scripting, while Matt added flourishes to the dialogue. Then the bastard went and moved. The story went to the back burner. But the story won't leave my brain alone, and lately it's been quite a pest. Dialogue, images, they keep popping in.
We got the band back together.
With co-conspirators Matt Constantine and Geoff Mosse, we have begun working up a proposal to send here, there and everywhere. I've worked with Geoff before. One day, the graphic novel we created might be finished (all on my shoulders, as I just can't leave well enough alone, and am always finding things to add). But his art has always amazed me. Custon made for stories such as this.
So I'm getting back to work on fleshing out the 180 page script. I'll leave you with a preview of this first page.
I found myself in a rather deep, yet utterly ridiculous conversation this past week with my friend the Paparazzi. We are both admirers of fine cinema, and our conversation had settled on the attributes, so to say, of one Viggo Mortensen. It seems, with the exception of the Lord of the Rings movies, this guy is always getting naked. Sometimes he'll show his ass, sometimes other dangling appendages. Other times he'll just bang the hell out of Maria Bello on a staircase.
Needless to say, we admire Mr. Mortenson.
And if you are going to talk swinging dicks on the big screen, you can hardly leave out Ewan McGregor. His Mr. Friendly most likely has an agent by now, and before long will be demanding billing above the title. I'm sure he was tempted more than once to show Princess Amidala his lightsaber while filming Star Wars.
But beside their fondness for onscreen nudity, they have both starred in some dynamite crime films. So instead of popping this up as a poll, I'm opening it up for comments. So damn it people, comment.
And if any big time hollywood producers are reading, this idea was mine first. Give me two days and I'll have a script tailored for a director. For Michael Bay, lots of action! For Gus Van Sant, it will be two hours of measuring, but with angst.
In the blue corner, hailing from New York. He is 5'11 and 51(!) years old. An accomplished painter, poet, photographer and horse rider, with such films as Eastern Promises, History of Violence, A Perfect Murder, and Psycho under his belt, he will float like a butterfly and sting like bee. His best ass kicking role to date is Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, he is...
And fighting out of the red corner, hailing from Scotland. He is 5'10.5" and 38 years old. He likes to ride motorcycles and duet with ex-wives of Tom Cruise. He is the star of such films as Young Adam, A Life Less Ordinary, Trainspotting, and Shallow Grave. He chooses life, and to fight! His best ass kicking role to date is that old desert hermit, Obi-Wan Kenobi, he is...
Let's have a good fight gentlemen. I'd tell you to keep it above the belt, but odds are you're not wearing pants.
"The mob, the cops, the university had all told me to mind my own business. Not a bad trio; I was waiting for a threat from organized religion."
A recent conversation held with a friend, whose musical tastes might not always mesh with my own, forced me to realize a rather unthinkable truth.
Aerosmith has not always sucked.
I'll be the first to admit, I fell under the sway of their album Pump. I even bought "Love in an elevator" on cassette single. But that decision can always be rationalized away. I was young, impressionable, and damn, I wanted to be cool. It certainly impressed itself upon my teenage libido. The song was all about sex, and boy could Steven Tyler work a double entendre.
The romance quickly faded. The song was overplayed, and Aerosmith soon started getting stale with each sucessive album. To this day, I can still not tell Crazy/Crying/Amazing apart. (The videos were quite nice though.) By that time, I had relegated them to Rolling Stone status; bands that should have hung it up while they were young enough to not seem creepy.
Back to the conversation. Much like the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith were actually quite bad ass in their younger days. I had forgotten what an amazing record Toys in the Attic was. So I gave it another play. Dynamite. That led me to do some internet searching, and before long I had found a concert from Cincinnati, circa 1973.
It blew my mind. The crowd was obviously small, and Aerosmith rocked like I had never heard before. There was an energy. These guys were playing balls out (possibly literally) and giving it all to impress this crowd which was probably filled with people who hadn't really heard of them.
The Bad Boys from Boston were making their name.
Which leads me to another bad boy from Boston, Robert B. Parker.
When he passed away last week, it shamed me to admit I had never read one of his novels. I remember watching Spenser for Hire on television when I was younger, but his books always sat on the bookstore shelf. Everytime I considered picking one up, something else grabbed me instead.
I couldn't have that anymore.
I picked up a copy of The Godwulf Manuscript, his first Spenser novel, and devoured it. (An amazing coincidence, this book was published in 1973, same year as that Aerosmith concert. Is the universe trying to tell me something.)
I read somewhere, perhaps Wikipedia (so I'm not sure if it's to be trusted) that he wrote this book in only three weeks. Let me tell you, it reads like it. It's filled with such a sense of urgency, that I can almost picture Parker, fueled by coffee and ideas, slaving over a typewriter, banging the pages out long into the night.
The book is a wonderful read, filled with all the bullet points of private eye fiction. The tough as nails leading man, quick with his fists and his mouth; The ladies who fall for his charms and find a moments peace in his bed; the cops who alternately hate his guts and respect him; and most importantly, the crooks and criminals who underestimate him. At 204 pages, it was a perfect little story.
And how many PI novels use a stolen illuminated medieval manuscript as the MacGuffin?
Add reading the Spenser series to my "to do" list.
Discussion point: Any albums that you remember hearing and feeling almost connected to band, and how they were living at the time it was recorded? For me, it was Guns & RosesAppetite for Destruction. I could practically smell the streets of Los Angeles in their music. Still not sure if that was a good thing. But it's always been a goal of mine to write a novel that gives me the same feeling they gave me as I listened to Mr. Brownstone, My Michelle, and Nightrain.
Back when I first decided that I wanted to write comics, the first instructional book I picked up was a copy of Lurene Haines's Writer's Guide to the Business of Comics: Everything a Comic Book Writer Needs to Make It in the Business. I don't particularly remember much about this book. Much of what she said was the standard fare, nothing too awe inspiring or disheartening. Just practical information.
What I did keep in my grey matter was she worked on Green Arrow. He wasn't always my favorite second rate Justice League member (that will ALWAYS be Aquaman) but much like Batman, he was a relatable character. Sure, he was another rich playboy, but armed with a bow and handful of arrows, he was out to make a difference.
Let's be honest with one another though, the trick arrows were lame sauce. As a kid I had a shabby little bow, a few arrows, and yes, a boxing glove. I am not ashamed to admit that I duct taped one glove to one arrow, notched it, and let it fly. Being a boy, I let it fly at a friend.
If it had worked, I would have most likely been invited to thereapy sessions instead of a crime fighting supergroup. Luckily, it was junk. Despite my decent marksmenship, my friend didn't have to worry one bit. Not even close. And while I can believe that a man can fly, I cannot stand behind a boxing glove arrow.
Green Arrow needed a makeover.
Enter Mike Grell.
With one Eisner nominated mini-series, The Longbow Hunters, he made Oliver Queen a serious threat once again. Gone were the Arrowcars, Arrowcaves, and the aforementioned trick arrows. In his place, a serious minded man, in a real city, attempting to do some good.
I loved the series. I knew he followed up those three issues with a long run, and reading them was something I really wanted to do. Only I couldn't. To my knowledge, DC Comics has never reprinted a single issue in a trade. Not sure why. Green Arrow are both popular enough to sell at least one volume I would hope. I could have spent the past few years accumulating a run, issue by issue. Digging through back issue bins at shops and conventions. Really didn't want to do that. I wasn't going to wait any longer.
After a year of checking , a fairly lengthy set, issues #1-106, went up on the auction block. To my amazement, I was the only bidder. (Maybe I am the only guy who wants to read these.) Had I been writing this blog the day I won, every word would have been filled with joy and excitement. Rainbows would have filled the screen and your computer would have smelled like girl scout cookies. Seriously, it would have. I was that happy. Waiting for it to arrive was going to be like an arrow in the eye. Couldn't resist.
I was able to keep both eyes. The seller shipped the box off in no time, and the box arrived just the other day. Ripped into it as soon as I could, didn't even wait until I was out of work.
Damn, this series starts out DARK. I even bolded those letters to make them more dark. Dark like a goth kids soul, or at least as dark as he thinks he is.
But within those first two issues, a tone was set. There is a man, not a super criminal, who is a kidnapper and murderer of children. He's been in jail for years, but recently released. Sequestered to his family home, he is still capable of toying with the police, as someone has been threatening the one girl who got away from him. Green Arrow takes it upon himself to protect her, at any cost. Two issues and I got a complete story, well told, with important consequences.
I plan on reading an issue a day until I'm done. Hopefully the rest of the stories will live up to the expectations raised in these two issues.
*It should also be noted, that Green Arrow is not ever identified as Green Arrow. It's always Ollie, or Mr. Queen. Just a small touch that brings a bit of realism to a once fantastical character.
I took an electronics class my senior year in high school. I had a period to kill, and I figured it would be an interesting class with an easy A attatched.
The thing about electricity, is it's quite complicated to master, but oh so easy to fuck up and zap yourself. One misplaced lead, an incompatible capacitor, and you're done. If you're lucky it won't work. Unlucky and you'll be pulling back your fingers.
So leave all electrical matters to the professionals.
Same goes for cons. I love watching or reading a great con artist go to work. The effortless way they charm their mark, how they get them to play along, often leading them to believe the whole thing is their idea. Far too often the mark blames themself when everything goes tits up.
Rich Randall is not a good con man. He's got the opportunity. An electrician by trade, he's got knowledge the rest of us do not. "Pig-tailing" wire? You got me. Here is some money. Do the job. Please don't fuck me.
This happens to us far more often than we care to admit. Do you know what the hell your mechanic is talking about once he gets past the first sentence? Sure, we might know what a bearing is and what it does, but do we know what it actually looks like? I don't. Not one clue, so I take the man in the jumpsuit's word for it hoping he won't charge me through the tailpipe. As long as he's not greedy, he'll get away with adding a few bucks on. I'm not going to question an additional $50 if he says it needs to be done.
Tell me my car needs a new motor, and I'll call shenanigans.
That's what Doreen, the main character of Win's Girl should have done. But you can't blame her, at least not at first. She's clearly written as a very nice girl, who has had some misfortune in life. Nissen does a great job of allowing us to feel sympathy for her situation. We want everything to turn out okay.
I'll forgive her for falling for the charms of Rich. He was recommended by a trusted friend, and although he's not a union guy, he's funny, charming, and a family man. The set up is a good one. From the beginning he tells her his esitmate is a little high, but only because he's so thorough and stands behind his work. She agrees to his quotes and tells him to start.
That Monday he arrives around noon. It's a bit late, but he's got the stories. He bathes Doreen with his troubles, evoking the sympathy the reader is supposed to be feeling for her. He's a hard luck guy, and this job was just the break he needed. He just can't thank her enough.
I'm not buying, but unfortunately Doreen is. The next few days, the work gets later and sloppier. The hard luck stories become more and more entangled (drugs! IRS! bail money!) and her doubts begin to take hold. At this point, I had hoped she'd walk away, or at the very least, call the cops. Instead she gives him more time and money to finish the job.
This is where it became apparent that Rich is an idiot. He had the game won. All he had to do was fake some more work, make sure the wiring worked, and gone home. But the dumb bastard just stopped showing up.
From the author's excellent opening paragraph, I knew this story took place in a rather small town. This is a place where people wore their work clothes to the bar. I grew up in a town like this. You fuck someone over, you can bet you will see them again.
And that bar is exactly where Doreen sees Rich. I won't give away the ending, but it was vindicating. Somewhere Judd Nelson is raising his fist in triumph.
Perhaps that is why I enjoyed this story so much. Far too often we are treated to the slickest of snake oil salesmen. For every Sawyer (from Lost), it's nice to see some bumbling idiot get what he deserves.
This story originally appeared in The Cincinnati Review.
This Friday, a new Mel Gibson flick titled Edge of Darkness opens up. I've seen a couple previews and I love me some batshit Mel Gibson. Sure, he's a fine director and actor, but I'd rather see him wig right the hell out, circa Lethal Weapon era Mel. Based on the previews, I'm not going to be disappointed.
But first things first.
I had heard of the British Miniseries it was based upon, but never gotten the chance to view it. Figured now would be a good time, since I always try to watch/read the source material before another version is made. And bless Netflix's heart, they had it and it was available. To the top of my Q it went, with disc 1 arriving just the other morning.
Strangely enough, right there on the discs menu, there is that weepy guitar music, eerily reminiscent of the Lethal Weapon score that Brit Eric Clapton contributed.? Hmm. Edge of Darkness came out in 1985, Lethal Weapon in1987. One quick Google search later and it is confirmed, Eric Clapton contributed to this score as well. Coincidence, or fate. Edge of Darkness used Eric Clapton. Eric Clapton was used for Lethal Weapon. Lethal Weapon had Mel. Mel remaikes Edge of Darkness. No Kevin Bacon necessary for this loop. It should be noted that the remake is also helmed by the original director, Martin Campbell.
Would the mini be as appealing as the film looks?
One episode in and I'm sold.
In the first few minutes we meet Ronald Craven, an investigator who is looking into possible voter fraud. He is told to ease up on the investigation by his superiors, and tells them he will. At least thats what he lets them believe. The conspriacy nut hidden deep within my brain takes note of all this, because to me, politics is so shady that if there is indeed an upcoming murder, a politician will somehow be involved. (And it's hard not to take note when there is a crazed looking man hiding in the bushes outside the meeting hall.)
From there Craven is off to pick up his daughter.
We get a few moments with them, and it's obvious they care for each other very much. There is a rapport between them, a closeness, that comes through very quickly. She is easily his world.
That makes her murder that much harder to witness.
She is shot and killed in front of him, by the bush habitating madman, and all he can do is hold her as she dies in the rain. Again, paranoid part of the brain automatically goes to her. Although he, being a cop, was believed to be the target, I cannot help but think otherwise.
Neither can he. Once all the investigators have left, he goes to her room and begins to inspect it. Not with a reckless abandon, but methodically. These are his daughters belongings, each one meaningful in some way to him. He takes care with what he finds.
Two particular items cause him concern, a vibrator and a gun. Not exactly sure which would be more uncomfortable for a father to find.
But he's now positive he's onto something worth looking into. He promptly takes a leave of abscence, and goes to London to follow up on whatever leads he may find there. The episode ends with him meeting up with a rather Cloak & Dagger fellow who informs him his daughter had a file, and may be suspected of terrorism. There was a very real chance that she was the target.
Man, I hate synopsis/synopses, what the hell is the plural of synopsis?
What I don't hate was the acting of Bob Peck as Ronald Craven. The intensity he brought to this role was powerful, yet understated. Rarely ever did his voice raise above the level of a whisper, but the rage in his eyes showed through with every uncomfortable conversation. With just a stare into space, you could see the investigative wheels turning within. His BAFTA award was completely justified.
And for those of you just pretending to know what a BAFTA is, much like I was ten minutes ago, the BAFTAs are British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, much like the Oscars that us Yanks celebrate.
I'm going to watch the second episode as soon asI finish typing out this sentence.
Country's first legal gigolo starts work in Nevada
Associated Press/AP Online
By OSKAR GARCIA
BEATTY, Nev. - A brothel in a Nevada desert town has hired the state's first male prostitute, a muscular college dropout who abandoned a brief stint as a porn actor in Los Angeles to become the only legal gigolo in the United States.
The Shady Lady Ranch successfully won state and county approval to clear the way for the "prostidude," as Nevada's newest sex worker is already being called. After a slow first week on the job, his first appointments are scheduled for this weekend.
The male prostitute - known as "Markus" - has quickly become the center of attention in Nevada's brothel industry.
He has been criticized by female counterparts for not being willing to have sex with men. And he created a dust-up after telling Details Magazine that his pioneering role in the sex business was "just the same" as civil rights icon Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat and move to the back of the bus. Not surprisingly, he has been forbidden from doing interviews after the remarks.
Competing brothel owners also fret that hiring gigolos in Nevada will bring unwanted scrutiny from state officials, potentially tempting them to make prostitution illegal. The competitors have also expressed concerns about sexually transmitted diseases, and worry that female customers can't be inspected as carefully as men are before sex.
Markus, 25, described himself as a well-read college dropout and former U.S. Marine from Alabama. He said he drove to Los Angeles to become a porn actor and left after filming two scenes, the first about a month ago. He said he ended up in a homeless shelter near Santa Monica, Calif., after being unable to find another job.
Shady Lady madam Bobbi Davis picked him from about 10 potential hires culled from hundreds of applications, many featuring crude inquiries, according to her husband and co-owner Jim. Part of Markus' appeal was that he was not afraid to deal with heavy publicity.
"Whichever woman may walk through that door, she's appreciated," Markus said in his Details interview. "A surrogate lover will love that woman for a whole hour, or however much we charge here, and she'll leave feeling much more empowered and much more confident in herself."
Jim Davis told The Associated Press that after reading the article, he and his wife decided that Markus doing interviews was bad for business. Bobbi Davis declined an interview with the AP. The Davises declined to give Markus' real name, which is customary for sex workers in Nevada.
Davis said the Shady Lady had received dozens of e-mails expressing interest in the gigolo. He said it took years to establish steady business from truckers, salesmen and other travelers after the brothel opened 17 years ago, and getting paying women customers could take at least a month.
"This is a business - if (Bobbi Davis) didn't think she could make more money she wouldn't have done it," Davis said. "Why else would she start something like this?
"And if she knew what she was getting into, she probably wouldn't have," he said.
The yellow-painted Shady Lady compound is more than 30 miles north of Beatty - an unincorporated township of less than 1,200 people between Las Vegas and Reno.
The small, fenced-in brothel includes a French-themed foyer that displays a pricing menu - $200 for 40 minutes, $300 per hour. It sits on 40 acres of mostly empty land the Davises originally bought for $11,000, Davis said.
Three connected bedrooms are distinctly decorated. One has a heart-shaped hot tub in its bathroom, another has an Asian theme. The brothel's newest space is a disconnected cottage that looks like a roomy studio, with a kitchenette, a wooden bathtub in the bedroom and armrests on the toilet. The cottage cost $50,000 to build, Davis said.
Markus plans to use the cottage.
"It won't be successful," said Arie Mack Moore, owner of the Angel's Ladies Brothel, about two miles north of Beatty. "You can't have both (male and female prostitutes) in the same building or adjacent to each other, in my opinion."
Moore claims his business has picked up since Markus was hired, with customers saying they wanted to avoid the Shady Lady because of Markus.
A 22-year-old prostitute at Angel's Ladies named "Cuddles" said Markus' unwillingness to see gay males makes the Shady Lady seem sexist and discriminatory. Her brothel services women.
"How can you just turn down services because of what someone's preferences is? It comes with the territory. It comes with the business," she said.
Davis said that he and his wife aren't interested in establishing a gay male clientele, but it will be up to Markus to decide whether to accept men as customers. Davis said Markus told him that he wouldn't perform for male customers.
"All this gay homophobia in this country is horrible," Davis said. "Everybody's so damn scared two men might have sex - it's happening every day in Las Vegas. Not going to happen here, but that's all the big fear, is gay people."
George Flint, a longtime lobbyist for the Nevada Brothel Owners Association, said allowing a male prostitute creates legitimate health concerns. Male customers are thoroughly cleaned and inspected for signs of disease before sex at Nevada's brothels, and he doesn't believe the same "fanaticism" is possible when checking female customers.
He also worries about the ramifications for the six other brothels in Nye County and the 24 total in Nevada.
"We got an industry in this state right now that's got an investment of somewhere between $50 million and $75 million," Flint said. "And yet Bobbi's in the catbird seat right now where her antics and her procedures and her demands and her goals could potentially bruise an entire multimillion-dollar-a-year industry."
Flint said he believed the Shady Lady Ranch, which is not a part of his association, could see a temporary wave of curious female customers, but the experiment will ultimately fail.
"I think she truly believes that it's a viable effort, and I'm wondering after four or five days and there haven't been any takers, if she's beginning to wonder if maybe she was wrong," Flint said. "You and I and the rest of the world can sit and debate this damn thing until hell freezes over, but if nobody shows up at her front door, what's it proved?"
A service of YellowBrix, Inc. .
So technically there is no crime involved, as this dude is too legit to quit. But it will be very interesting to see what effect this will have on prostitution. Do that many woman even go to gigolos? I know Patrick Dempsey made it pretty popular in that one movie of his, but I don't see women lining up around the block to obtain this guys "services."
And who could of guess this guy was a failed porn actor? How does one fail at that job, other than the obvious reasons that come to mind? Maybe he just couldn't hit his marks.
Michael Robert Johnson
Robert Downey Jr.
"Crime is common. Logic is rare."
Some of you out there have your knickers all in a twist, trying not to fall as you run down the cobblestone streets screeming gloom and doom. Your ass hurts, and you are complaining of your favorite detective being raped by some filmmaker who's best work to date involves a man named Turkish.
And by jove you are vocal.
"Holmes does belong to fight club!"
Well maybe Holmes did, and the first rule of fight club is you do not talk about fucking fight club.
"Holmes is gay!"
His partner is Jude Law. Have you scene The Talented Mr. Ripley? He almost made me gay.
"Rachel McAdams has no business being in this film!"
Okay, you might have me on that one. But she's cute as hell, and Gwenyth Paltrow can't be in every British film. Plus, her Downey Jr. quota is already filled with Iron Man. It does make me wonder what Kiera Knightly was so busy doing though.
Have I got most of the common complaints covered? Oh wait, "the special effects sucked." Again, valid argument, but Guy Ritchie is not a special effects guy. You want that, go see the Revolutionary Blue People/Monkey Movie with the Fiber Optic Sex Organs.
I found Sherlock Holmes to be a thoroughly enjoyable movie.
I got everything I wanted from this movie. Did they show Holmes is one smart mofo? Heck yeah, and they did it in interesting ways. He's got the fight all mapped out in his head before he throws a punch. Seems logical.
Using all of his senses to solve crimes. In spades.
Great relationship with Watson? Of course. Downey and Law were a great pairing, and there back and forths were worth the price of admission alone. But they were not just BFF's. They worked well together. It was a nice touch to make Holmes jealous of Watson's upcoming nuptuals. And anyone, and I'd include my mom, who describes their relationship as a bromance will be hit with the nearest large object. Only Paul Rudd is allowed to use that word without a beating.
But my favorite part of the film was when Ritchie showed just what a Miserable Bastard Holmes is when not working on a case. He'll sit alone in a darkened room, pout, and experiment on dogs, much like those who listen to Emo music. Nice touch. But when he's on a case, charisma to spare. Anyone who didn't laugh at his "keys to my release" line is without humor.
So if you've got your complaints, tell them to somebody else. I get it. It was not Basil Rathbone prancing about in a silly cap holding a magnifying glass in one hand while stroking his pipe with the other. But's it's Guy Ritchie's best film since Snatch.
And admit it, you got just a tiny bit aroused when Moriarty was "revealed."
I started out this blog, and this lengthy process of reading every damn crime/mystery novel ever written, with the hopes of understanding how criminals work, think, live, and in the process, how to write about it with more confidence. I figured that with a few hundred novels under my belt, I'd be more in tuned with the criminal mind. There would be some secret club, with a cool handshake, that would welcome me with open arms as soon as I could tell you why Johnny likes to rob banks and shoot people in the face.
I know why people shoot each other in the face now.
If I have to read one more repost on 93% of people believing that toast cures cancer, and only 62% of those people will tell their congressman about it, but 7% of those people will eat it anyway, I will shoot everyone in the face.
I hate 93% of people, and the other 7% are just one ignorant post away from joining that club.
There is the option of just not using Facebook. My anger and annoyance would most likely just fade away, or at least be saved for someone I actually see in the flesh, but to do so would be counter-productive to my being attention whore when it comes to this blog.
Getting what I want, or being on the verge of violence. It's a tough question.
Duane Swierczynski knows what I'm talking about, and I'd like to think he wrote this book especially for me, knowing it'd bring a great big fucking smile to my face.
The Wheelman, and this is the only way I can describe it, is 93% all-out, holding on to your balls awesome. The other 7%, it will shoot you in the face.
From page 1, the story drops you into Lennon's life, and doesn't stop until the final bullet. There isn't one wasted chapter, not one wasted word. Each character, no matter how briefly they appear, is important, and more importantly memorable. I had an absolute blast reading this book, never once saying "just one more chapter" because I could not wait to get to the end.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Too bad 93% of you will never read it. You 7% that will, you're okay with me.
Last year was the first New York Comicon I was able to attend.
It was amazing.
I watched as David Lloyd sketched me out a picture of V, shared my love of communist monkeys with Gary Erskine, and shook hands with Geoff Johns, Milo Ventimiglia, and Lou Ferrigno. I could have gone home happy at that point. I had resereved the last day of the shows to attend panels. Toys, Green Lantern, and one other that I could not wait for.
My favorite moment, the one that gave me the biggest smile, was the Vertigo Crime panel.
For me, this was the equivalent of sex on paper. Great writers, great format, and the hopeful placement in the mystery section of bookstores.
To this point, the sex has been a letdown.
Azzerello, a writer whose 100 Bullets is a masterpiece in any medium, started it off with Filthy Rich. The story was decent, but the art was less than average. It was enjoyable, but my expectations might have been a tad to high.
It was followed up, the same day, with Ian Rankin's Dark Entries. This would have been better served as a Hellblazer graphic novel. It seemed shoved into the Vertigo Crime line, when it probably would have sold better promoted as a John Constantine story. I'm sure there was hope for crossover success, but if I wanted to read a Hellblazer story, I would have purchased the numerous titles available. I was hoping for something a little more original from this line.
Turns out I only had to wait a few more months.
The Chill, written by Jason Starr and art by Mick Bertilorenzi was the book that should have started it all.
Starr I'm familiar with. His Hard Case Crime Novels with Ken Bruen are nothing short of fantastic. They are brutal sexy fun, and currently, nothing has topped them within that line. With his name on this project, I knew the story would be entertaining.
Bertilorenzi, not so familiar. In fact, had never heard of him. And after two disappointing artists, I had low expectations. He surpassed those with ease. His graytones and blacks finally bring a noir element to a series of books that should have been drowning in it.
A serial killer exists in NYC. She's well over sixty, but to those unlucky enough to catch her eye, she appears as their perfect woman. She'll fuck them, "freeze" them, and while their balls are shrivelling up under their liver, she'll get out of the way so Daddy dearest can plung an ancient spear into their heart.
(I was cool up until the sex, but I'd really hate to have my head strung up in a Yew tree.)
Enter ex-Boston PD, Martin Cleary. He's an old Irishman with a link to the killer that he'd rather not admit, but cannot ever forget. He'll do whatever it takes to end the murders.
Hopefully I've peaked your interest enough to go pick up The Chill, because I'd love to see another collaboration from these two gentlemen. It'd be a shame to not follow this up.
And sadly, this won't be shelved with the mysteries. Try the graphic novel section.
Author Robert Parker, 77, dies; he wrote Spenser crime books By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, January 19, 2010; 5:10 PM
FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2006 file photo, author Robert Parker poses in his office in Cambridge, Mass. The author of the popular Spenser private eye books about a hard-nosed Boston private investigator, died Monday, Jan. 18, 2010 in Cambridge. He was 77. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki, File) (Chitose Suzuki - AP)
Robert B. Parker, 77, a popular and prolific author of hard-boiled American crime fiction, best known for the 37-book Spenser series which became an ABC television show in the 1980s, died Jan. 18, at his writing desk at home in Cambridge, Mass. A cause of death was not immediately known, but his longtime agent, Helen Brann, said it appeared to have been a heart attack.
Mr. Parker helped revive the detective fiction genre with his wise-cracking, street-smart and surprisingly literate Boston private-eye Spenser (no first name and with an "s" not a "c"). The character -- an ex-boxer and ex-state policeman -- is also a gourmet cook who grapples with his complex relationships with a witty female companion, an African American alter ego and a foster son. Named for Edmund Spenser, Shakespeare's contemporary, the character and series became a favorite of the literati who enjoyed crisp, witty prose.
Mr. Parker's work was notable for its quick pace, evocative descriptions, sharp dialogue and concentration upon themes that included the troubled status of adolescents, and of women in contemporary society. His protagonists, however, were tough guys, prone to violence, who nevertheless were true to a moral code as they protected a lesbian writer in "Looking for Rachel Wallace" (1980), chased after international terrorists in "The Judas Goat" (1983) and investigated drug smuggling in "Pale Kings and Princes" (1987) and "Pastime" (1991).
Mr. Parker wrote 65 books in 37 years, and was among the top 10 best-selling authors in the world, Brann said, with 6 to 8 million books sold. He was also the 1976 winner of the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award, its 2002 Grand Master Award and Mystery Ink's 2007 Gumshoe Award for Lifetime Achievement.
In addition to the "Spenser: For Hire" television series, which starred the late Robert Urich, Mr. Parker's Jesse Stone novels became CBS television movies starring Tom Selleck starting in 2005. "Appaloosa," his 2005 Western, was made into a 2008 movie directed by and starring Ed Harris.
A third fictional private-eye series, Sunny Randall, was created at the request of Academy Award-winning actress Helen Hunt, who asked Mr. Parker to write a novel with a female investigator. The first book did not become a feature film, but it was another bestseller
His prodigious output was the result of a disciplined work ethic: He wrote five pages per day, five days a week, 50 weeks per year.
"I started writing the Jesse Stone novels because I realized that at this point in my career it takes me three to four months to write a Spenser novel and as a result I have a lot of time on my hands," he told Bookreporter.com in 2000. His next book, "Split Image," a Jesse Stone book, comes out next month, and he has turned in several books that have not yet been published, including some in the Spenser series, Brann said.
Robert Brown Parker was born Sept. 17, 1932, in Springfield, Mass., and graduated in 1954 from Colby College in Maine. He went into the Army for the next two years. He earned a master's degree in 1957 and a doctorate in 1971, both in English from Boston University. His doctoral dissertation was a study of the private eye in the novels of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald.
Mr. Parker earned his living as a technical writer at Raytheon, and in the advertising department at Prudential Insurance until the doctoral degree got him a full professorship at Northeastern University in Boston, where he began to write seriously. His first novel, "The Godwulf Manuscript," sold within three weeks of completion. Over the next five years, Mr. Parker wrote four more Spenser novels, each increasingly successful. Finally in 1979, he was able to quit teaching and devote himself full time to writing.
So clearly and consciously did Mr. Parker consider himself an heir of Chandler, that the Chandler estate in 1988 asked him to complete a 30-page manuscript left uncompleted at Chandler's death. The result was "Poodle Springs," a novel that carries both authors' names on its title page. It was panned by the New York Times Book Review as "a chaos of tawdry shortcuts." Mr. Parker, who claimed not to read reviews of his work, nevertheless wrote a sequel to Chandler's classic "The Big Sleep," calling it "Perchance to Dream."
Survivors include his wife of more than 50 years, Joan Parker of Cambridge, and two sons.
In interview after interview, Mr. Parker refused the opportunity to make the idea of writing detective fiction mysterious.
"The art of writing a mystery is just the art of writing fiction," he told the Boston Globe magazine in 2007. "You create interesting characters and put them into interesting circumstances and figure out how to get them out of them. No one is usually surprised at the outcome of my books."
"Here, there'd been nothing in the cold, nowhere in the gray, only her."
I can understand murderous rage in the face of unrelenting cold and snow. I live in Maine, and while it's not as brutal as Buffalo or Green Bay, but when it's 5 degrees below zero you cease to give a fuck about Geography, or much else.
You just want warmth. Anything obstructing that is worth destroying.
I felt that rage today.
Snow gently falling. Some would call it beautiful. I'd call those people assholes because they most likely aren't trying to drive in it. The roads were a bit slick, driveable in my matchbox car, but not at 10 m.p.h. At that speed even a tiny incline turns in Mount Kilimanjaro. My car suddenly has only a reverse option.
Curse words will then come down harder than the snow. Had the driver not been a seventy-five year old woman, fists might have flown. (Actually, she looked rather mean in her rearview, so I might have saved myself an ass whoopin by staying behind her.)
So, despite my cool and calm demeanor, if you ignore the swearing, I can understand rage.
Kelly, the main character in S.J. Rozan's short story Hothouse had that rage. At least that's what we are told. Apparently he killled a woman, his girlfriend, because he couldn't handle her attitude and infidelity while the temperatures fell.
Off to prison he went. The story begins with him having escaped a week ago. And for that week, he's lived, barely, in the Bronx Botanical Gardens. He's hungry, near frozen, and almost ready to just allow himself to freeze to death.
So he goes to the conservatory, security be damned.
As luck(?) would have it, he gets inside, and a case of mistaken identity allows him to help out one of the caretakers as the storm comes through the windows. He begins to feel human again.
Guess how well this all turns out?
Overall, the story had it's moments. The descriptions of the cold certainly hit home. It's not just a temperature, it's a state of mind. Logic and reason can go right out the window as the cold comes creeping in.
But the sequence of events that closes out the story falls a bit flat for me. Everything seemed a bit too convenient.
I appreciate the story he was trying to tell, I just didn't care for the way it all ended. I believe it would have been better suited as a longer story.
So it's been about three weeks since I started this experiment and a few revelations are starting to come to light regarding my television viewing.
First, I can absolutely devour Homicide. I've finished the first few seasons without even really trying. A few other shows have found there way into my home viewing (Chuck and The Simpsons), so in reality I've only spent five or six nights watching Homicide. Now that I finally have Saturdays off again, the chances of me blowing through an entire season in a weekend is quite probable.
Which comes to the second revelation. I'm going to need more shit to watch.
On my dvd shelf sits plenty of shows that fit the bill for what I'm trying to accomplish here. I've got The Sopranos, The Wire, Oz, The Shield, Law and Order's, Veronica Mars, etc. I could rewatch any number of those and easily fill the next eleven months talking about them. But I want something new.
I've done some Netflix searching I think I might have hit a few shows worth trying.
Naked City Filmed in a gritty cinematic style on the streets of New York, this landmark police drama starring Paul Burke and Horace McMahon helped deliver a sense of realism and put a human face on crime by exploring the personal lives of its characters. This comprehensive set includes a string of the show's most memorable episodes, many of which feature guest spots by noted TV and movie actors, including Maureen Stapleton, Aldo Ray and Sandy Dennis.
Crime Story Kicking off each week with Del Shannon's "Runaway," Michael Mann's cult TV series has retained a fervent following since its premiere in 1986. Set in the early 1960s, the show did away with nostalgia and focused on hard-boiled intensity as Chicago cop Mike Torello (Dennis Farina) aggressively pursued gangster Ray Luca (Anthony Denison). Guest stars include Julia Roberts, Michael Madsen, Pam Grier and Gary Sinise.
Chancer When his under-the-table dealings get him fired from a London bank, charismatic con artist Stephen Crane (Oscar nominee Clive Owen, in one of his earliest starring roles) finds work managing the turnaround of a troubled automobile manufacturer. But no matter how desperately Stephen tries to keep his checkered past bound and tethered, it continues to hunt him down.
Underbelly Exposing the real-life gangland war which raged for over a decade, UNDERBELLY is itself based on the book LEADBELLY: INSIDE AUSTRALIA'S UNDERWORLD by journalists John Silvester and Andrew Rule. This, sometimes fictionalised, account compacts the bitter feud into 13 nail-biting episodes.
The action begins in 1995 when the Melbourne crime syndicate 'the Carlton Crew' dominate the scene. Drug dealing brothers Jason and Mark Moran (Les Hill and Callan Mulvey) emerge as key players, and are kept under the scrutinising eyes of police officers Steve Owen (Rodger Corser) and Jacqui James (Caroline Craig), members of Task Force Purana. When Jason's driver Carl Williams (Gyton Grantley) double-crosses the brothers in a drug scam it sparks off a chain of bloody events; with more double-crossings, alliances made, alliances broken, extortion, hits ordered, killings, avenge killings and numerous spells in prison. With slick production design, and a huge cast of colourful characters interweaving across the show's long time-frame, it's clear why UNDERBELLY has been heralded one of Australia's best ever crime dramas.
From the so funny it's sad, but that just makes it funnier file...
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WTVC-TV) - A 4-year-old boy, beer in hand, is accused of stealing Christmas presents from his neighbors. It's a strange story, but also a sad one.
April Wright is 21 years old and is going through a divorce with her husband who is in jail. She says she is not sure how her 4-year-old managed to get out of the house, open a beer, and steal the neighbors presents from under their tree. Now she's just glad he's okay and says she won't let it happen again.
The child, Hayden Wright, was found around 1:45 am Tuesday, wandering the streets of his neighborhood. In a police reports, officers said he was wearing a little girl's dress and drinking a beer. The police report says the child had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for alcohol consumption.
April Wright said, "Biggest concern was him being out there, getting kidnapped, getting run over, the alcohol, having to have his stomach pumped."
Wright says she woke up that night at 1:45 am and panicked when she found Hayden was gone. She says she put safety devices on all the doors so her kids couldn't get out, but Hayden was able to break the safety device off the doorknob and get outside.
Once out, Wright says her four year old followed his father's footsteps and was found on Blue Spruce Road, drinking.
"He runs away trying to find his father," she said. "He wants to get in trouble so he can go to jail because that's where his daddy is."
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office report says Hayden rang the doorbell a few houses down and the neighbor answered, finding the child holding a partially consumeed 12-ounce beer.
Wright said, "He got it out of my father's cooler in the back and how he got it open I don't understand because it was one of those tab beers."
But it doesn't stop there. The report said Hayden then snuck into a neighbor's house through an unlocked front door, and stole five wrapped Christmas gifts. One was a girl's brown dress which Hayden was wearing when police found him.
"Going to the neighbor's house and taking their presents, very embarrassing," said April.
She admits she was not just embarrassed, but scared, and rushed to the hospital that night with Hayden. She said she tries to be a good mother and loves her son, but now feels like a failure.
"Kids do things like this and it's out of your control, you can do the best you can as a mother, everyone makes mistakes, it was an honest mistake," she said.
Wright did meet with child protective services today who told her she will get to keep custody of Hayden
Last Saturday I opened up the phone lines, aren't those what connects all this internets business, and asked all of you folks for your favorite crime movies.
The responses, while not as many as I had hoped for, have been good and varied. To narrow down the list to a Top 10 at this point would be quite hard.
So I'm not going to do it.
Starting today, we are going to have our selves a bit of a BATTLE ROYAL! Heck yeah folks, line up your steroid freaks, wave your giant foam fingers, and don't change your shirt for the next three days. We are going to let these movies duke it out man to man, or woman, should that particular case happen. (I've seen Lady Vengence, and that woman can bring it.)
I've been playing around with the website and all these neat little sidebar options, so I'm going to give it a go and use the "poll" toolbar. Not sure if it will work, seems pretty idiot proof, but then again, I am an idiot.
Today starts it all, and I'll throw a new poll question up weekly. And I lied when I said it would be a battle royal, it's going to be more like a tournament. But BATTLE ROYAL! just sounds so much more energetic.
Today's poll question...
What is the best Godfather movie. I'm even throwing Part 3 in there because I feel bad for poor Andy Garcia. Zasa!
Until recently I had never completed an Elmore Leonard novel. I'd started Rum Punch, Tishamingo Blues and Mr. Paradise, got about one hundred pages into each, enjoyed the hell out of them, then promptly set them down without turning another page.
When it comes to books, I read whatever is currently in my hand.
I've got the bad habit of reading 3 to 4 books at a time, and my main attention goes to whichever one is closest. So if I'm reading Rum Punch in the bedroom, but currently find myself in the living room, something else is getting picked up. I'm not dragging my ass up the stairs to grab a book when at least twenty are withing reach. (I challenge anyone to walk five steps in my apartment without being a within a foot of a stack.) Books also get purchased at an alarming rate. There are volumes bought years ago on the promise that I would get to it eventually. Those books just add to the piles.
Quite often a great book will get forgotten as soon as a second or third book is stacked on it. So my apologies to Dutch for past transgressions, but recently it worked in his favor.
I'm hip deep in L.A. Confidential. And as sparse as Ellroy's prose is, the book is fucking long, and therefore, big. I'm not carrying it around in my pocket. So I'm wandering around downtown Bangor, cold as hell, with time to kill. The comic book store has already gotten my business, and I'm not going to hang out there. Bookstores have heat. And I have money.
And Bangor is the place to be when you're a booklover. Sure, we've got Stephen King walking around, but we're also blessed with four great, independantly owned bookstores within a few blocks of each other. (One sells strictly children's books, but it's still great!)
This time I found myself at Pro Libris, owned and operated by Eric Feury. (Hope I'm spelling his name right.) I don't shop here nearly enough, but he always remembers whatever book I was searching for last. Guaranteed, if I went down there in a month, he'd remember I was looking for Parker novels. But not finding any, I settled, and I hate using that word in this instance, for Elmore Leonard's The Switch.
Without seeing the last page of any of his works, because of Hollywood, I can say I'm a fan of Leonard. I only picked up Rum Punch because of Jackie Brown. You will also noticed, if you've been paying attention, that Out of Sight is a top 10 film of mine. Even Get Shorty was great. (The less said about BeCool, the better.)
But Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown was twelve pounds of awesome, and it was all because of the characters. As great as Robert Forrester and Pam Grier were, I was watching that film for Deniro and Jackson. Their portrayls of Ordell and Louis were top notch, and I don't believe they've been better since.
So imagine my glee, (go ahead and laugh, books make me gleeful) when I flipped over to read the back cover and saw those two names. Instant purchase. $1.95 was removed from my pocket without thought.
I devoured those 210 pages in less than twenty-four hours. And damn QT and his casting, because I couldn't get Deniro and Jackson out of my head while reading. But it worked! Even Melanie showed her up with her sweet self. (And yes, I saw Bridget Fonda)
I would be lying if I said The Switch was only a great crime novel. There is a kidnapping, a police shootout, and some con work going on, but criminality really takes a back seat within the book. The crime just sets the story in motion.
The story is really about one woman, Mickey, and her happiness at being taken away from her boring life and husband. Sure, she was about ready to have a disappointing affair on him, but when Ordell and Louis kidnap her, she begins to feel a sense of...liberation, that she has never felt. All her life she's been trapped, and this is her ticket out.
Of course, nothing goes as planned. Frank, her husband, has been shacking up with Melanie, and her doesn't really want Mickey back. He doesn't want anything bad to happen to her, but he doesn't feel like giving up any of his money to secure her safety either.
And once Louis starts to develop feelings for Mickey the story really begins to pick up.
Overall, it wasn't a perfect novel. But it was great enough to get me to order twenty-three of Leonard's novels the next day off of Ebay. (One giant lot, very low price. Criminal it was.)
There was a copy of The Switch in that lot. Now I've got an extra. First person to ask for it, gets it.
I've been called them all, often correctly. I consider myself low key and calm, but under the right circumstances I can see why those around me would consider me detatched. It's not something I can argue against, so I'm not going to try.
But those people don't know cold.
Parker, he's got ice cubes instead of balls.
Parker was created by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake), and went on to star in twenty-four novels. I'll hang my head in shame and say I have yet to read a single one of them. (They are on the list!) But I have seen both versions of Payback and Point Blank. I dug the story.
So when I heard that comic artist extraordinairre Darwyn Cooke was going to adapt the Parker novels for IDW, starting with The Hunter, I was stoked. I had become familiar with his work thanks to projects such as Catwoman, Selina's Big Score, Solo, Will Eisner's the Spirit, and New Frontier. Sure, most of those are superhero yarns, but his Slam Bradley stories in Solo left me completely assurred this project would be nothing short of amazing. My expectations were in the stratosphere.
I should have aimed higher.
From page one I was hooked.The next seventeen, ckean, crisp, mostly wordless, pages I was a fiend, devouring panel after panel. When Parker does speak, it's brutal and to the point. He's got a mission, and he's doesn't leave time for small talk or pleasantries. The man who did him wrong, he's going to pay. Get in his way and death might be the only way out. If you can help him, you better. If not, he doesn't care who you were or what you meant to him, you're nothing but an obstacle to be removed.
What follows is revenge fiction at it's finest. No thug goes without a beating, no boss without a threat. Dames, and I love using that word, booze, bullets, and money are thrown about without a second thought.
From the storytelling, to the pacing, to the gorgeous art, everything about this book is worth gushing over. My only complaint is the next book isn't already out.
"One good deed...one good deed is all it takes to get a man killed."
The Low Down
This is the story of Yancy, the last remaining bastard from a job gone completely wrong, talking Reservoir Dogs wrong. He's wandering down the beach, making his way to the Queen Mary, a tourist trap in Long Beach. He has never stepped foot on it, and figures today just might be the day to do it.
Over the course of a few pages we learn who Yancy is, what the score was, and most importantly, what killed him.
The story works because Ferrigno really has a strong grip on structure. Much like Tarantino, whom he name checks, he balances between the past and present, bouncing seemlessly between them. Yancy's train of thought allows the past to be told, triggered by current events. Granted, the past was only an hour previously, but for him it seems like a lifetime.
Which brings me to the pacing. Fantastic. The story zips right along, which it should in only nine pages, but after you've read it there seems to be pages worth of story.
And that's because of the details. Ferrigno doesn't waste any words. Much like Raymond Carver, it's what he's not telling you that creates the tension. Details such as his one red sock allow the reader to make his or her own conclusions. Not once does Yancy state "I'm going to die," but as the story progresses, you realize that he's not much longer for the world.
I can't find anything wrong with this story. There is a reason it was included in the 2008 Best American Mystery Stories.
This story was so good I want to read the previous exploits of Yancy, or at the very least, a novel by Mr. Ferrigno.
I'm only adding this because I've been asked a few times, but yeah, I always accept review/preview copies. Who turns down free stuff? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for my mailing address. And thanks.
Dan Fleming is the writer/co-creator of Warrior Twenty-Seven, the independant comics anthology. He's been known to bury his nose in books since the earliest of ages, and has been busy writing a crime novel for a few moons. His comic work can be viewed at www.warrior27.thecomicseries.com. He is also one half of the podcasting duo, The Potato League Podcast, which can be found on Podbean. He can be contacted at either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org