Sunday, March 31, 2013

eZ Money

Did you know that Fierce Bitches is now available for your fancy-schmancy eReader? That's right, now you can get it delivered in a matter of clicks and seconds straight to your bathroom if you're settling in for a real growler. Avail yourself of my little purgatorial love-story right over here

And hell, if you read it and duggit or sorta half wished you could time travel and assassinate me before I cranked that shit out, be my guest and leave a lil' ol' review or derogatory comment the site. 

That'd be swell. 

You want more free shit from me? You can check out the brand new episode of Seth Harwood's CrimeWAV podcast and listen to me read Mahogany & Monogamy (the flip-side of A Fuckload of Scotch Tape). Why the hell should you do this? Because you'll get to hear me mumbly-sing a couple Guns 'N Roses tunes, that's why. 

Speaking of CrimeWav - Slick Texas Money, the story Frank Wheeler Jr. read on a recent episode has been nominated for a Spinetingler Award. In fact, several N@B alum have been as well, so congrats to everybody, but most especially the N@B crew - Frank, Clayton Lindemuth, Gordon Highland, Sean Doolittle, Matthew C. Funk, Kevin Lynn Helmick and John Rector, as well as Cameron Ashley and Liam Jose (for the Crime Factory antho Hard Labour), Kent Gowran (for Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels), and N@B Corydon cousin Kirby Gann. Vote early, vote often. Or don't.

And don't forget - May 4 - N@B w/ Dan O'Shea and John Hornor Jacobs.

May 17 - N@B w/ Matt Kindt and David James Keaton.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

N@B Recap & Announcements

I ever tell you how much I love this gig? Hosting N@B I get to hobnob with some of the swellest people on the planet and meet folks whose talent I am no-shit working on a way to extract and harvest, and to top it all off, they, the hell, come to me. Yeah, I sit back and send out the odd email - 'hey, you wanna drag your carcass to St. Louis and have a party?' - the rest takes care of itself. Anyhow, huuuuge thanks to the readers and spouses who made Saturday's event possible and to all the warm bodies who showed some HuSTLe City love to the readers.

This is how it went... We cast lots for reading order and then I said, "Bullshit, this is my fucking event. Who ever invited you to read anywhere, except me? Who? To whom do you owe tribute on this most awesomest night of your lives? I will take your silence for your chicken-hearted ascent. I am reading first." And I did. Read first. Read an especially brutal passage from Fierce Bitches in fact. It were fun.

Then I called upon Frank Wheeler Jr. who responded by fictionally shooting a few folks at very close range. Wasn't even a passage from The Wowzer. But holy hell, did he make his point. He's not to be fucked with. I've begun listening to the audio edition of The Wowzer, btw. Nice way to revisit one of my favorite books of 2012 and I'd recommend you do the same if you get the chance. Good narration by Eric G. Dove. (And to hear Frank read his own material, check out his story Slick Texas Money on the CrimeWav podcast.)

Clayton Lindemuth didn't flinch, though. Stood the fuck up and read chapter 33 of Cold, Quiet Country. Fucking rocked. Fucking patricide. Fucking beautiful. If you've read CQC, you know the insistent rhythm that builds around the mantra 'Fuck him' during the larger-scale scenes of violence and mayhem. If you haven't, well take my word for it, it's a great fucking mantra and a snappy cadence-keeper. Try it on for size next time you're in a shoot out. And for gosh sake buy a copy of his book (Subterranean Books still has a few signed copies!)

When you want to end an evening on a memorable note, friends, here's my advice: find yourself a Matthew McBride or a David James Keaton if you haven't got a Josh Woods to do the job. Good thing I had a Woods on hand - he closed the evening by righteously smiting just south of a hundred thousand combatants in his VS. Anthology contribution, Jesus VS. Thor, and 'The Lamb came a-tromping' was probably the evening's most quotable line.

Good to see friends and past participants like Sonia L. Coney, David Cirillo, Matt Kindt and Brian Hurtt too. Great night, and I was very excited to announce...

NOIR AT THE BAR - Saturday, May 4 with N@B favorite son Dan O'Shea returning to the ample bosom of his portly, profane brethren on the occasion of the publication of his first novel Penance (released April 30th!), with immoral support delivered by Little Rock's own John Hornor Jacobs. It's gonna rawknshit.

Aaaaand that's not all:

NOIR AT THE BAR - Friday, May 17 features two returning N@B alum with two very strange crime books to tout. Matt Kindt in support of his brannew graphic novel Red Handed and David James Keaton making the first of two St. Louis appearances for his new collection Fish Bites Cop.
That is going to be a great month to be in St. Louis. So do it. Y'know... be there. Here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Snubnose In the Wild

Big thanks to Eric Beetner and Brian Lindenmuth at Snubnose Press and Scott Montgomery at Mystery People (at Book People) in Austin for making this happen (and thanks to Mike McCrary for the snapshot). Many Snubnose Press titles (including A F*ckload of Shorts) are now available right off the shelf. If you're in and or around Austin, go check it out - as if you needed another reason to support awesome local bookstores (and small presses).

Incidentally, I'll be at Mystery People for an event in June, and I'm very much looking forward to that. Also, my sincerest apologies to Kate Atkinson for fouling up the space - she really writes very elegant books. Mine? Not so much.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ides Away

One week till Noir at the Bar and the countdown kicked off with two new reviews of March 23's participants. First up, over at Spinetingler, The Nerd of Noir had this to say about Clayton Lindemuth's Cold, Quiet Country:

Though it may sound like a straight-forward, ticking clock suspense novel,Cold Quiet Country takes its time developing these characters through flashbacks, strengthening the relationships between Bittersmith, Gwen and Gale with each chapter while dropping clues about the novel’s many sinister late-in-the-book revelations.  When the violence finally comes around it is indeed gloriously and brutally depicted, but the real reason you keep reading is for Lindemuth’s complex and wounded characters and his strong, just-shy-of-*too*-poetic prose.

Not too shabby, eh?

Well, kids, Dave Wahlman over at Crimespree magazine's blog had (all of) these too kind words (which I've cleverly re-arranged into the most badass blurb I could ever pay for) for Fierce Bitches:

The book is the bastard son of Sam Peckinpah and Jim Thompson...reads like a Cormac McCarthy fever dream. It’s literary crack.

Can you believe it? We're not even sleeping together!

So, yeah, first opportunity to purchase Fierce Bitches in the States at N@B, Saturday the 23. Get that crack.

And come back for more. Jeez, don't forget that bail-jumper Frank Wheeler Jr. is going to cross many state lines to let The Wowzer out in St. Louis, and you should totally show up to see him get arrested. I mean, they don't call it that for nothing. He'll also have copies of his book to sell.

You should buy one.

And you would be an utter ass-hat to forget about Josh Woods, he - where'd he go? I swear he was just here, I - gaaagghghgh...

Aaaaand I'm back. Seeing stars. Think I got choked out. Woods is playing with me again. Writer, editor, ninja - he's a triple-threat... and you only think I'm kidding. His writing is all over the fucking place (you all know the fucking place, right? If not, find it), pitting rednecks against old-god monsters, or Jesus Vs. Thor or Black Beard the pirate kicking against retirement, but it's of a piece, all of it bound together by wit and sincerest badassery.

It's gonna be bad ass. It's gonna be bad-fucking-ass. Be there, it's going to be... if we can just get Anthony Neil Smith back again.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Doing Karma Time - CriMemoir: Josh Stallings

I first met Josh Stallings in September of 2011 (probably just before the episode depicted in this piece) at the De-Bouchercon Eve N@B event in St. Louis. Spotted him right away. He wasn't reading (he should have been), he'd not told me he was coming - we'd not had any personal or electronic contact before that night - but I knew straight away. 

Oh shit, it's that guy, I thought. That guy. The one who, just by being there, makes all the posing I naturally excrete and bullshit I exhale seem just... silly. 

I'd heard of him. I knew the titles Beautiful, Naked & Dead and Out There Bad. I knew he'd been invited to read at the newly birthed N@B-LA event. I knew people thought well of him. But there's just no substitute for occupying the same space, to take the man's measure. 

He's big. Large. Physical, sure, but there's a density of spirit to him that's immediately, tangibly present when you shake his hand. You call those hands? Paws. If mastiffs had hands, they'd look something like this guy's mitts. 

He writes fiction, right? Yeah, but fiction that's been there. Method fiction. Maybe call it non-false-tion. But, his latest... takes it to a whole new level.

Last year I got to spend a few moments with him in a Cleveland bar immediately after hearing him blister ears reading from his (at the time) forthcoming memoir. That memoir, All the Wild Children, is out now from Snubnose Press, and I asked Josh to contribute a piece to the CriMemoir series - and if you dig the following contribution, you will need your very own copy of All the Wild Children.

Doing Karma Time by Josh Stallings
(Some bits are excerpted from All The Wild Children.
Some are new; hell if I know which is which)

Fall 2011

Today I went to the Glendale jail and spoke to my son through a phone and video screen. He's down for possession. Says it wasn't his. I let the lie slide between us. Behind me a young Latina is flashing complicated hand signs. Behind my son a young gangbanger is flashing signals back at her. They are using our time to make contact, the guards don't see it. I am distracted as the boy shakes where tits would be if he was a girl, he is trying to get her to jiggle 'em for him.

I focus on my son, his beard is long, his hair dirty. He is coming down off a rough hard road. He tells me he has the flu. I think he is kicking dope, but I don't say it. I tell him I'm pissed he stole my shit. My Epiphone arch-top that I never got good enough to deserve. My power tools I wish I had taught him how to use, the camera his mother gave me for Christmas, and my laptop. The laptop stung. It is what I wrote on. I finished both Moses McGuire novels on it. An old scratched up write iBook. Not worth shit to anyone but me. But that's the deal with petty crime, you steal shit that only matters to the original owner and sell it for dimes on the dollar. 

When I first discovered what he stole, I wanted to strangle him. I wanted to pound his head into the wall. I was a ball of rage. I loved him and I wanted to do him harm. It tore me up that he would steal from me. I would give my family anything they needed.

"It's not personal, it's what junkies do, they steal" his mother told me. I wanted to yell at her. Not because she was wrong, just because she was in the room and he wasn't.

I have et most of my anger go by the time we are in the jail talking through the video camera. All he stole was a bunch of useless crap I didn't need. He either did it to hurt me, or he didn't. I either deserve that or I don't. "When I was fifteen, I robbed my best friend's house," I tell him, "I creeped several houses, stole other people's shit."


The first house I creeped was the home of my childhood best friend.  Creeped, makes it sound cool, edgy, retro.  What I did was break into Peter’s house and take from a family that would have given me anything I asked for.  It wasn’t cool, it felt scary and fucked deep in my gut.  My older brother was shooting dope at the time, he and his best friend would creep houses to buy dope, at least that’s my assumption.  I wanted to be cool like them.  I told them about a house we could hit.  My brother was nodding in the Ford while his running mate and I rifled the house.  We stole their whiskey.  We stole their TV set.  We stole their Navaho rug.  We stole Peter’s mother’s jewelry box.  I know there were trinkets in there that Peter and his brother gave her.  I remember a gold plated football or it could have been a basketball, it was worth nothing at pawn, I wonder what it was worth to Peter’s mother.  

I had justification.  Righteous reasons for hitting Peter’s house.  I hated Peter.  I hated his hope and possibility.  I hated his university plans.  I hated his mother for being home every night.  I hated his normalcy.  And as we drove away, loot in the trunk, I hated myself. 

Facts are, I hadn’t a clue what the world looked like from inside Peter’s skull.  I’m sure he was just as afraid of the future as me.  His parent’s divorce had left him just as soul fucked as mine.  His only fault was that somehow he had slid over the line from us to them.  And we took them down.  I carry the shame of that night deep in my gut.  We have talked as adults.  Made amends.  It is still there as I type this.  Less.  More accepted.  Still there. 

Is criminality genetic?  My old man was busted for armed robbery.  My grandfather sold bootleg booze.  My father is an artist.  My Grandfather was a cop.  I am a writer and movie editor.  My son is a cook and a musician.  And we are none of those things.  Those, the crimes included, are things we did, not who we are.  What we have done and what has been done to us is just some shit that happened.  Charlie Huston and I were in a dive bar last week, he was giving me props for All The Wild Children.  “It’s fucking brilliant, great, so the real question is…”  I held my breath, ready, “The real question is, what the fuck are you writing now?”  

Name dropping aside, it is still the only question that matters.  I see it like this, for a brief and stupid time I rode racetracks on my Ducati.  To do this I had to remove the rearview mirror.  At 137 miles per hour who gives a fuck what is behind you.  The shit you need to be aware of is coming from the front and it’s coming fast.

I broke into houses and stole shit.  My son stole shit.  This is not who we are.  We are just two guys in rough water trying to swim for shore.  We are making it up as we go. 

Fall 2011

Jail. I tell my son maybe his stealing my shit is karmic justice. Neither of us laugh. It's not funny in the face of this moment. The screen is flashing 1 minute left. I want to say so much. I want to hold him and tell him lies about how it will be OK. I won't post his bail, he knows it, says he understands. I'm not sure I do.

"I love you son."

"I love you too Dad."

I don’t get to say goodbye before the screen goes cold blue and he is gone back into the POD.  Back into his caged world.  He is not a criminal.  I am not a victim.  We are two men with questionably moral pasts and a deep love for each other.  And that had better be enough.  

I was asked by a nosey family member why I didn’t bail him out.  Told we should get into family therapy and deal with our issues.  Didn’t I want to talk it out, get closure.  Fuck no.  No really - FUCK NO.  What I want to do is sit on my back porch, watch our dogs play and talk to my son about books and music.  Hear what he thinks of Bruen’s new book.  Laugh some, drink some coffee, watch the sky grow dark and then all go to bed.  What I want is to not have my boy sleep in lock down ever again.

Josh Stallings is the author of Beautiful, Naked & Dead, Out There Bad and All the Wild Children. Learn more at his website.

Monday, March 11, 2013

50 Is The New Black (Issues)

Big congratulations to Jon & Ruth and Jen and Jeremy and Ayo and... All the regulars - Sean, Reed, Craig etc.... on fifty issues of badass crime coverage in Crimespree Magazine. And lookee there, it even made Robert Crais smile.

Made me smile too as it contains a swell notice for A F*ckload of Shorts. That Tim Hennessy, he's got taste. Taste and looks (really dreamy eyes), but back off ladies, he's spake for. Make that taste, looks and a knack for making me sound much smarter and more intentional than I am. So, thanks, Tim and again, huge congrats to the whole team. BTW - did you know that you can get Crimespree for you Kindle or NOOK as well? Well you can.

Y'know who else has some nice things to say 'bout Shorts? Les Edgerton, that's who. Thanks, Les. Here's what he had to say. And Paul Brazill dropped some kind words on Fierce Bitches at his spot. Ooh, and see there, he recommends Les' brannew The Rapist too (as do I). Paul's got issues.

Speaking of issues... as in social ones - ills and the ilk. Gary Phillips has got a brand new man of action and mystery ready to heed mysterious calls to action and confront societal sickness with a license to ill. The Essex Man is the first of a new series featuring Luke Warfield described as part Shaft, part Batman (and part Jay Gatsby). Shit, I'm there. This is probably as close as we'll get to a Phillips Men's Adventure series, and I don't mean that as a slight. Of course my first thought, and probably yours too, when the Men's Adventure genre is introduced is - bad writing. But I posit that Phillips could be the man to redeem the form - delivering punchy, brief, topical badassery to your eReader. I'll give the eReader this - serials and short series like Essex Man, or Dave Zeltserman's The Hunted, and David Cirillo's Terminal are not only a twinkling reality, but a growing light in the fiction fields where I like to frolic.

On the other hand, if you don't mind bad writing, and you kinda miss the Men's Adventure paperbacks that used to dominate magazine and book racks (before they were three or four hundred pages long and cost upwards of $25 - C'mon, Lee Child is writing Men's Adventure, and making a mint. Jack Reacher is totally a MA hero - and that's not a slight, but... so    many   words... so   many   dollars), get yur mitts on Johnny Shaw's pulplication Blood & Tacos - bringing back to life the beautiful badness in all-new, re-published (for the first time) tales of men being manly. And if you're too manly to read then you can experience B&T as a podcast! So far, only three episodes (featuring Chingon: The World's Deadliest Mexican, The Chemistrator and The Albino Wino - thanks to Johnny, Rob Kroese and Cameron Ashley for digging these brand new forgotten gems up).

Friday, March 8, 2013

2013 In Crime Flicks: February

13 - Gela Babluani - Dig this cast: Ray Winstone, Michael Shannon, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Ben Gazzara. Now, tell me that Babluani is remaking his original and excruciatingly excellent 13 Tzameti as an English language feature, and ask me if I'm interested. Afterward ask me 'What went wrong?' I'll answer 'nearly everything.' I don't want to spoil anything for folks who've not seen either film, but the real star of the original flick is the mechanics - the nuts and bolts film making that reveals the dark depths of the hole our hero has fallen down, ticking off the beats of the plot with precision, and cinching the noose slowly then all at once for maximum suspense and horror. This is a time when the impact of an unknown actor is the probably the strongest, and frankly, seeing all those faces we know gives us clues about who to pay attention to and our experience suffers (the one way I could think of to do this with big names would be to cast a huuuuuge star in an inconsequential role and kill em right off the bat). Best moment: Well cast siblings Winstone and Statham clear the air.

Arbitrage - Nicholas Jarecki - Great understated little noir about a guy with his nuts in two different wringers at the same time, and featuring good turns all around from the cast. Won't say how it ends, but I will say that it makes a feint at giving you something you're not going to want before replacing it with another, far-better thing. Best moment: the final one - realizing what's been gained and what's been lost.
City On Fire - Ringo Lam - Did Quentin Tarantino rip this one off with Reservoir Dogs, or just make it better? Don't particularly care. I really enjoyed going back to late-eighties Hong Kong and remembering why Chow Yun-Fat was such a movie-fucking-star. More than tough guy schtick, more than a good brooder, he's intense with a light touch. Even through the odd to awkward comic moments that don't really play now (if they ever did), his irresistible charisma covers a multitude of sins. And this is no John Woo flick. It's not bullet ballet, it's a crime drama with a handful of action set pieces including a terrific knife-wielding heist sequence and foot chase through and under the streets. Sure, I'd go with QT's undeniably similar debut as a desert island pick, but this here is some good shit. Best moment: waiting for the elevator as the heist unravels.

Compliance - Craig Zobel - Ick factor up to eleven in this 'how far will it go?' thriller, er, iller, when a young woman working at a fast food restaurant is accused of stealing and subjected to a series of increasingly invasive, debasing questions, searches and procedures directed by a policeman via telephone and carried out by her manager. Of course, the caller is not a cop, the charges are non-existent and the purpose of the exercise is some kind of sexually charged power trip, and we, the audience know this very near the beginning of the film, which makes for a very uncomfortable experience. A good one though. I'd like to declare right here that I would never ever do or tolerate being done the things the characters in the movie do, but I think I'll stick with, 'There, but for the grace of God, go I.' Best moment: Pretty much anytime Ann Dowd is on screen. She plays the complicit villain/victim as someone I absolutely recognize as a human being. She has the most complex role and hits every note true. Actually, the trinity of Dowd, Dreama Walker and the always excellent Pat Healy (check him out in Zobel's other flick Great World of Sound) do a lot of brave and heavy lifting here and make it look easy.

Give 'Em Hell Malone - Russell Mulcahy - There can be only one. Actually, it appears, there can be an entire career's worth of these disposable genre pics delivered with palpable enthusiasm and a craftsman's skill, if not much vision, and that's not a bad thing. Not on the level of oh, say John Carpenter, but belonging to the same family (maybe spiritual cousin of oh, say David Twohy), Mulcahy is probably somebody I ought to include in the the This Gun For Hire series. When I look at his body of work I see highs (Highlander) and lows (Highlander II: The Quickening... friends don't let friends see Highlander II... The Quickening), but a sincere and (I'll say it again) enthusiastic approach to genre storytelling. So, Malone is light-weight, silly and utterly forgettable, but, like a drive-through milkshake, just the right thing for a particular moment (check it out if you're looking forward to Sin City 2), and nobody associated with the project loses credibility. Best moment: the opening shootout is as over the top and stylish as the film's going to get. You'll know if it's for you in about thirty seconds.

Hell On Wheels Season 1 - Joe Gayton, Tony Gayton - Post-Deadwood westerns not wanting to drown in calls of bullshit or utter indifference have got to step up their game, and I'm pleased to say that this one does. Not quite the same level of perceived authenticity (from this loudmouthed, utter ignoramus's pov), but a slightly heightened reality that's consistent to itself that works just fine. A reconstruction, westward expansion, revenge tale at heart, the more it leans on its terrific supporting cast, the stronger it is. Best moment: Every time Tom Noonan is on screen. That guy plays the hell out of his role and keeps you off balance with your moral support so well. Also, between Noonan, Wes Studi and Ted Levine making memorable appearances I keep looking for Michael Mann's name to turn up somewheres.

Iceman Interviews - Arthur Ginsberg - A collection of three interviews with Richard Kuklinski 'The Iceman' - contract killer of (probably) over 100 people (possibly more than 200) - who served the last twenty years of his life in prison. His claims vary a bit from interview to interview, but they made for interesting history lessons. Looking forward to Michael Shannon as Kuklinski in The Iceman later this year. Best moment: The otherwise, uh, icy, Kuklinski chokes up talking about his family... genuine? con? showman? I sat up and paid attention.

John Dies at the End - Don Coscarelli - Okay, I have to squeeze tighter than most to make this one fit in a crime film roundup, but the heroes of the tale are paranormal detectives/warriors of a sort and I'll take that as justification enough. Having zero knowledge of David Wong's source material is probably a bonus for just going with and enjoying the film. I have a suspicion that fans of Wong's will be chagrined that so much was lost in translation. I don't know this, of course, but the film is so dense with detail, back-story, side-story etc. that I imagine it comes from a far more fleshed out universe. The film, on its own though, rockets from nonsense to nonsequitur to non-stop leaps of imagination at a pace that lets you wonder and scratch your head only enough to be mildly, enjoyably perplexed before its on to the next plot point. I think the film wraps up rather nicely and cohesively, but I've not spent much time mulling it over connecting dots or looking for inconsistencies. Best moment: Clancy Brown battles a meat monster by cell phone.

Nobody Else But You - Gerald Hustache-Mathieu - A crime writer finds inspiration for his own Black Dahlia (James Ellroy is name-dropped a couple of times for comparison in the film) in the story of the murky circumstances surrounding the apparent suicide of a model who believed herself to be the second coming of Marilyn Monroe. I hung in there, but this one, despite a collection of swell small moments, never quite drew me in. Best moment: loved the cheesecake montages with Sophie Quinton. Most fun of that sort since Gretchen Mol's re-creations in The Notorious Bettie Page.

The Outfit - John Flynn - Just the most badass and satisfying crime film I've seen this year. Adapted from Richard Stark's novel, it's Robert Duvall's turn to fill Parker's iconic shoes, (as Earl Macklin), and damned if his take ain't the most human I've seen (yet to catch Jim Brown, Peter Coyote or Jason Statham). It's a criminal procedural that spends zero time boring us with setting up the big operation, and instead just throws us into multiple operations so professionally slick, yet uncluttered and un-clever, that they play like common sense. You don't have to be a genius to be a high-functioning criminal, but owning a set of balls and not being a complete dipshit help. Money is trump in this world. Macklin's brother has been murdered and it's not love (or even revenge) that drives his actions, but an obsession with righting the scales. He wants to be compensated for the loss of his brother and if the outfit won't pony up what he figures is due, he's gonna take it out of them forcibly. Best moment(s): (a Buying a car turns into a confrontation, and (b Macklin and Cody (the really fantastic Joe Don Baker) prepare to go down shooting.

Southland Season 2 - Ann Biderman - The promise of season 1 is delivered upon with this mostly episodic slice of L.A. street cop life. Not perfect, but easily the best cop drama since The Shield and The Wire went away. Now entering its fifth season, I know I've got a lot of catching up to do, but I hope that the opening each episode in the heat of the moment, freeze-framing and having a heavy-handed voice-over on what 'cops' or 'detectives' know or should know or learn gimmick has been done away with. In fact, I think it's that single detail that makes me cringe so hard every damn time that keeps this otherwise very strong show with a fantastic ensemble cast (standouts being: Michael Cudlitz, Regina King and C. Thomas Howell) from cracking my big favorites list. Best moment(s): A riot breaks out over a police shooting of a teenaged car thief - scary. Nate and Sammy talk to a ten year old kid on the street who insists that they 'make it look good' in front of the neighborhood's watchful eyes - they cuff him and throw him in the backseat - light touch, humor and heart.

Sweet Leaf - Julian Grant - Grant's projects are infused with such energy and genre-loving verve, whether it's sci-fi (RoboCop: Prime Directives), horror (The Defiled), animation (The Doctor's Wife) or crime, they're irresistible to me. His latest revolves around an ill-conceived and incompetently executed robbery that's supposed to solve the problems of a handful of low-rent half-assed criminal tourists. Things go bad. Really bad. And as the gang turns on its own we wonder who, if any, will get out alive. Best moment: the final five minutes of this film gave me such a raging heavy-metal suicide-trip hard-on, I wanted to go again.

The Tourist - Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck - Movies with terrible reputations fascinate and often surprise me - hell, I liked Heaven's Gate quite a bit, Waterworld is some goofy fun, and I even have fond recollections of Ishtar -  so it was with a pretty open mind that I sat down with this one. Holy crap, what the hell happened? How the shit did this turd get made? My theory - von Donnersmarck was hot off of his international hit (the quite good) The Lives of Others, and attracted two huge movie stars (and a really strong supporting cast) to shoot in gorgeous European locations with probably a lot of foreign investors to spread the risk and everybody wanted a piece of it. If you look at the writing credits, it's clear that something smelled rotten long before Denmark as there are four credited writers (including Julian Fellowes and Christopher McQuarrie), and it probably (just guessing) went into production without a finished script. What could go wrong? It's clear that a glamorous, romantic thriller the type Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart might have made with Grace Kelly or Eva Marie Saint, buuuuut let's just say that this is no North By Northwest, Charade or even The Man Who Knew Too Much. It's a mess, pulled in too many different directions by stars with zero chemistry and at least two separate movies they seem to think they're making. Best moment: the closing credits.

Also enjoyable returns to William Monohan's London Boulevard, Andrew Davis's The Fugitive and John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China.

Friday, March 1, 2013

My Poddy Mouth

Couple links for the kids. First up, over at Dead End FolliesBenoit Lelievre posted this interview with me, in which I confess that "I wanted to write something that would hurt the reader." Classy, no? Did I succeed with Fierce Bitches? (shrug) Meh... Thanks, Benoit for the kindly attentions.

Next, I had a chance to chat with the Books & Booze podcast about uh, books and booze as well as movies, adaptations, my propensity for giving my books terrible titles and Noir at the Bar. I very much enjoyed talking with Jessica, Renee and Dakota - Thanks for having me on. I had the pleasure of meeting Dakota in person last November at the Corydon N@B event and he introduced me to the podcast then. Of course at that event we were being documented by the Booked podcast, and those guys have been just super swell to me, so I was happy to hear they'd recently gone to The Poddies and taken home a Streamer for Best Ever Podcast on Earth (or something along those lines) - well done, Robb & Livius. Did you know that Booked even has its own anthology coming soon? Well, they do.

Any day now, my second appearance on Seth Harwood's CrimeWav podcast should be popping up. Seth's site is my favorite place to get crime fiction in audible form (until Matthew McBride's Frank Sinatra in a Blender is available as an audio-title - or Dan O'Shea's Pennance - which I hear rumors of a possible authorial delivery on that audiobook). Till then, go catch up. Seth - whose This is Life and Young Junius have just become available in print again! - has brought the CrimeWav back recently with good shit from Frank Wheeler Jr. and Richie Narvaez. Go check it out. 

Y'know Tim Lane, aside from being a fantastic artist and writer, also dabbles in old-timey-radio-drama-esque storytelling... I'd love to see - er - hear him turn Happy Hour in America into a podcast. He'd do it up with period-appropriate advertising and everything.

If you dig that kind of thing, bend your ear toward Joel Metzger's Hothouse Bruiser podcast (or app for your earphone doohicky) - kind of a pulpy, hardboiled dystopian thing featuring the voice talents of (among others) Denise Crosby! - man, I had juuuust a bit of a thing for her when STNG came out - and I've enjoyed seeing her again on odd episodes of Southland (which I'm catching up with on DVD). But I digress, there are other reasons to give it a try. 

Speaking of hardboiled sci-fi pulp, my first crack at that kinda vibe is included in the David Cranmer edited Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled 2, and guess what? It's now available electronically with the paperback option to follow in a week or two. But really, all this talk of hardboiled sci-fi has me jonesing for one thing and one thing only - Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea. When? Soon. Not soon enough, but soon we will get the novel that got its start with this kick ass story.