Monday, March 31, 2008

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

The crack of the bat. The roar of the crowd. Baseball is back. Today is, of course, Opening Day of the baseball season. Will the Mets climb that last hurdle with Johan Santana? Will the Phillies continue the magic that carried them to the post-season last year? Will the Pirates finally be over .500 for the first time in 15 years? And is it even possible to stop the Detroit Tigers?

For fans of history, check out this nice collection of links from the American Historical Association.

Play Ball!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockey

Today is the 80th birthday of Gordie Howe, one of the all-time hockey greats. I didn't even realize that he was turning 80 until I came across this series on TSN. Will definitely check it out when I get home from work. He played during every presidency from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan. And even came out of retirement for one game in the 1997-98 season. Happy birthday, Gordie!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It is Finished

I got a bit distracted over the past week, or is it two, but I finally finished PI #3. First draft clocks in at 7400 words. I feel it's one of the best things I've written to date. There is one scene - a very important one - that will probably need some heavy editing, but I was trying something that I normally don't do. I'm going to let it sit until Saturday or Sunday, edit it, do another draft, then send it along to my friend the editor. Depending on his reaction, this might be one I try to submit to Thrilling Detective.

On a blog note, I'm going to try to get the Welles bio review up on Friday. If not, it will certainly be up on Monday or Wednesday of next week.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lawrence French and Bogdanovich

Lawrence French has posted a recent interview with Peter Bogdanovich over at Wellesnet. The big topic of discussion is Welles's unfinished film The Other Side of the Wind, which I have mentioned before. As with other Welles fans, I've been eagerly anticipating any news of Showtime's efforts in finishing the film. Bogdanovich reiterates his previous statements that it will take about a year to complete once he's given the final go-ahead from Showtime and the other backers. The interview itself is very enlightening, and Wellesnet has included several great pictures and a snippet of the script that are well worth a look.

In other Welles news, I finished volume 2 of Simon Callow's Welles biography. The review should be coming shortly.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How Not to Play Goalie

Road Dogs

There's a teaser today on Elmore Leonard's official site about his next novel:

Cundo Rey says Jack Foley is the only white guy in prison he can talk to, Foley a celebrity, the most famous low-key bank robber in America. Cundo even pays a hot young female lawyer 30 grand to get Foley’s sentence down from 30 years to 30 months, and Foley is released two weeks ahead of Cundo.

Read on for more...

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Dark Knight (2008) and more

This post is up a bit later than I wanted to for Monday, but I was out of town for most of the weekend. I did stumble across a nice interview with Christopher Nolan about his approach to shooting both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

On another note, I haven't talked about it recently, but I'm back at work on the PI series I've mentioned in the past. I started last week with about 1200 words of a story that was started back in October. I start this week with over 4000 words. There's enough floating in this story that someone could probably stretch it into a novel, but I'm probably going to keep it as a short. If I finish early enough this week, I'll go through a couple rounds of edits this weekend before sending it off to a couple editors I know. Maybe this is the one that I can submit for publication.

Friday, March 7, 2008

X-Men: Legacy

Came across an interesting interview with Mike Carey the other day. In it, he discusses the changes to the X-Universe based on the Messiah CompleX and the transformation of X-Men vol 2 into X-Men: Legacy beginning with issue 208. As I've mentioned before, I really dug the Messiah CompleX storyline and I picked up a copy of 208 earlier this week. It's interesting to see the present day attempts to save Xavier juxtaposed with some of the very, very rich backstory of the X-Men franchise. Another thing that's getting me excited is Carey's talk of how the first three arcs of Legacy are going to play out. He does a very good job of teasing some forthcoming things and whetting my own personal appetite by mentioning the returns of Rogue and Gambit (two of my fave X-Men).

On another note, I just read Cable #1 by Duane Swierczynski. Very good stuff. A great start to the new Cable books. The artwork is a bit different than what I'm used to, but it's not annoying like the new X-Force books.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Wheelman, By Duane Swierczynski

I read The Wheelman in the fall and realized I haven't gotten around to reviewing it yet. The review would've been filled with a lot of detail if I'd written it right away, but I can at least give my quick overview.

It's pretty much what everyone else says. The characters are laugh out loud funny. The story is an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride. Lennon, a mute Irishman, is the best getaway driver in the business. We first meet him outside a Wachovia bank in downtown Philadelphia waiting for his partners. The heist goes off as expected, but things go sideways during the getaway. Lennon spends the rest of the book on the run from the cops, the Italian mafia, and the Russian mob. And, like a true noir hero, gets the living crap beat out of him at every turn.

The story builds to the inevitable showdown between Lennon and all the parties who feel he's done them wrong. Herein lies my only quibble with this book. The resolution feels to me like a deus ex machina. I'll forgive Duane this once, but I'm hoping for a more satisfying ending from his next book, The Blonde (which is next on my TBR pile).

Despite my misgivings with the ending, I highly recommend this book.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Song Noir

I was listening to WBGO yesterday, and I heard a song I hadn't heard in a while: Ella Fitzgerald singing Miss Otis Regrets. It's a haunting song, sung beautifully by one of the greatest singers of the 20th Century. The song popped into my head today, so I decided to check out the lyrics (reprinted here).

Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today, madam,
Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today.
She is sorry to be delayed,
but last evening down in Lover's Lane she strayed, madam,
Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today.

When she woke up and found that her dream of love was gone, madam,
She ran to the man who had led her so far astray,
And from under her velvet gown,
She drew a gun and shot her love down, madam,
Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today.

When the mob came and got her and dragged her from the jail, madam,
They strung her upon the old willow across the way,
And the moment before she died,
She lifted up her lovely head and cried, madam......
Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today.

Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today

The song, obviously, is from the point of view of a servant to a polite woman of society. It retells the story of Miss Otis being seduced and abandoned. Miss Otis tracks down and kills her seducer, then gets sentenced to death.

What strikes me about the lyrics is that this is a fairly good example of a noir story. You could almost call this song noir. Does anyone have any other examples of song noir?