Saturday, September 17, 2005

Just LIke Heaven

Well, it's happened again. While you were watching Garcon Stupide or maybe The Constant Gardner, I was out rotting my brain cells at Just Like Heaven, which is so predictable that you may find yourself reciting all the plot points after you've seen the first ten minutes. That doesn't mean that Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo aren't charming enough to pull it off. They are. Even when the movie is violating its own internal logic, you might not care because it's big-hearted and funny.

I wanted to see Lord of War, I really did, but the sad fact of the matter is that I now choose movies pretty much by the times of their screenings, and Lord of War just didn't work. That's OK. I had a few laughs and didn't feel terribly manipulated (since I pretty much knew what was coming). What more can you ask for two bucks?

Friday, September 16, 2005

I Hope He Gets Crappy Mileage

IOL: Luxury van has all the comforts of home...: "London - The world's largest luxury camping van, which cost more than 1-million pounds (almost R12-million) to build, has been custom made for an oil sheik.

Austrian company Action Mobil built the 12-metre-long vehicle for use on long desert trips, with a huge 13-litre, 600hp engine.

The Desert Challenger took one-and-a-half-years to construct and includes a lavishly furnished living room and a state-of-the-art kitchen."

Yes, We Have More Bananas

A week or so back I wrote a short post about my banana crop. All I know about bananas I learned from Harry Belafonte (they "hide the deadly black tarantula"), but apparently the growing season isn't over, and the crop will be larger than I thought. As you can see in this photo, there's a new bunch of bananas beginning to take shape, and the blossoms are still there on the tips of the fruit. Looks as if this will be a small bunch, and I might not harvest it until nearly winter.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Dr. Grammar

Dr. Grammar - Frequently Asked Questions: "The Dr. Grammar Frequently Asked Questions page contains answers to questions previously asked of Dr. Grammar that may provide help with your grammar questions. The questions are listed alphabetically, so they can be searched quickly and easily. Browse through the list of questions from the list below to find help on your topic or, if you want a Complete Reference List, click here or, if you want to search the Dr. Grammar FAQs, click here."

I picked this link up over at Pop Culture Junk Mail, and it warms the cockles of an old English teacher's heart.

Stark House Press Does Randisi

Stark House Press has another double volume in its continuing series. I've praised Stark House here several times, and Greg Shepard keeps doing great work. This new book reprints two novels by Bob Randisi, one of the most prolific writers of our time. It also has an introduction by Randisi and a bibliography what will astound you. (Well, it astounded me, and I thought I knew about everything Bob has written. I didn't.)

The book is worth its price for the intro and bibliography alone, but it also contains two novels, The Ham Reporter and The Disappearance of Penny. The first is a historical novel about Bat Masterson in the days when he was a sportswriter in New York City, where he teams up with Damon Runyon to look for a missing friend. This is probably my favorite of Randisi's books, but I also like The Disappearance of Penny, which was the first of his books that I ever read. It's about Henry Po, who works for the New York Racing Commission, and once again there's a missing person. It's Randisi's first published novel, which I have in a nice old paperback that's become fairly hard to find. Thanks to Stark House, you can now read it without having to search for it.

This new double volume isn't available until December. Put it on your Christmas list.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Ummmm, Canned Squirrel

Tri-State Neighbor: Country Living: "'I had never canned jams and jellies so we tried that. This year we are going to add jalapeno pepper jelly and canned squirrel. The canned squirrel was Smokey's idea. We asked the Fair Board to add it to the list of acceptable items and they did,' Maurer said."

Coming to DVD -- The Rockford Files

DVD Times - The Rockford Files Season 1 (R1) in December: "Universal Studios Home Video have announced the Region 1 DVD release of The Rockford Files: Season One for 6th December 2005 priced at $39.98 SRP. James Garner stars as Jim Rockford, a private investigator who lives and works in his trailer in Malibu, Los Angeles in the popular television crime series The Rockford Files."

Thanks to Thrilling Days of Yesteryear and Something Old, Nothing New for the tip. Lee Goldberg has a mention, too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Window with the Sleeping Nude -- Robert Leslie Bellem

I'd been wanting to read this book for years, but I hadn't been able to find an affordable copy. Finally a sort of ratty one turned up on eBay, so I bought it. I was hoping for something along the lines of Bellem's Dan Turner stories, but that's not what I found. Nothing in the novel rises to the level of the divine zaniness of Turner's escapades, and Barney Cunard is no Dan Turner. Still, it's a fast-moving (and short, at 120 pages) story of a nude body in a department store window, with enough complications to keep things interesting. Who knew that deparment stores in the '40s were staffed by so many gorgeous women? Bellem loves describing them, especially their important assets. So the book was fun to read as a period piece, but a little disappointing. Nice cover, though.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sue Feder, R. I. P.

Sue Feder

FEDER, Sue On September 9, 2005, SUE FEDER MILLER of Towson by way of Brooklyn. Beloved wife of Larry Miller, loving daughter of Marvin and Rhoda Feder, dear sister of Nanette and Richard Williams and Mitchell Feder, adoring aunt of Eric and Alex Williams and Melanie and Andrea Feder. Services and Interment private. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or Baltimore Jewish Cultural Chauvrah. Arrangements by THE JOHNSON FUNERAL HOME, P.A.
Published in the Baltimore Sun from 9/11/2005 - 9/12/2005.
I was lucky enough to know Sue, having met her through DAPA-EM and talked and joked with her at a lot of mystery conventions. She never seemed to get depressed or to lose her sense of humor. She was one of the good guys, and I'll miss her a lot.

Fiddlers -- Ed McBain

I've mentioned my admiration of Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain, among many other pseudonyms) before. Here, here, and here, for example. So it was with a little bit of sadness and regret that I picked up Fiddlers, which, because of McBain's recent death, is probably the last of the 87th Precinct novels.

McBain hasn't lost a step with age or illness. I'm sure you can think of a writer or two who should have stopped writing long before the end of a long career, like an athlete who plays one season too long. McBain wasn't one of those writers. He's just as sharp now as he was when I first read one of his books more than 50 years ago. Maybe sharper. I think that his body of work is about as impressive as that of any writer during the second half of the 20th century.

For me, it was impossible to read Fiddlers without having McBain's final illness in mind, and I'm convinced that he had it in mind, too. Just how much, I'm not sure. Is the book a grim joke in its own way? Autobiographical in any sense? I don't know. I do know that it's a typically well-written procedural with appearances by Steve Carella, Meyer, Bert Kling, Cotton Hawes, and Fat Ollie Weeks tracking down a serial killer. The stories of their personal lives aren't resolved, exactly, but I think readers who have been following them for many years, as I have, will be satisfied with their final appearances.

When I closed the book, I thought, "Well, that's it." But it's not. I can always go back and start over at the beginning of the series with books like The Mugger and The Pusher. I probably won't, but the possiblity is always there. McBain will be around for a long, long time.