Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mother's Day

I'll be out of town tomorrow (Judy and I will be visiting her mother), so I thought I'd better put my Mother's Day posting here. Link via Pop Culture Junk Mail.

The Transporter

As usual, while you were reading essays by Pauline Kael, I was wasting my time watching a trashy movie. This time it was The Transporter. I'd already seen The Transporter 2, being a guy who does things backwards, and I thought it might be fun to see the first movie in the series.

It was. If The Transporter were a book, it would be a Gold Medal novel. It has the strong, competent (boy, is he competent!) hero, played by David Stratham, the enigmatic woman he encoungers in odd circumstances (boy, are they odd!), and plenty of action. When I say plenty of action, that's an understatement. This movie is almost all action. Stratham puts the Bruce Lee on dozens of guys in various scenes, defies the laws of gravity and physics, and drives like a NASCAR guy on meth. The plot didn't make a whole lot of sense, but that was okay. It was just something to hang the action scenes on.

The movie also features great photography and some nice scenery. Compared to Transporter 2 there was only one thing missing: my favorite nurse. So I put her photo here anyway, just to cheer myself up a little this morning.

OK, this is Scary : Printer Friendly Story: "If diseases like AIDS and bird flu scare you, wait until you hear what's next. Doctors are trying to find out what is causing a bizarre and mysterious infection that's surfaced in South Texas.

Morgellons disease is not yet known to kill, but if you were to get it, you might wish you were dead, as the symptoms are horrible.

'These people will have like beads of sweat but it's black, black and tarry,' said Ginger Savely, a nurse practioner in Austin who treats a majority of these patients.

Patients get lesions that never heal.

'Sometimes little black specks that come out of the lesions and sometimes little fibers,' said Stephanie Bailey, Morgellons patient."

Friday, May 12, 2006

Die a Little -- Megan Abbott

Cool cover, right? It looks like something that might be on one of the sleazy digests of the '50s, I think, very appropriate given the book's '50s setting and its subject matter.

Megan Abbott copped an Edgar nomination for Die a Little, which is a noir story about Lora King, a school teacher who lives with her cop brother, Bill, and quite happily, too. (Though it's never spelled out, I got the idea that Lora's feelings for Bill were a little more than sisterly, if you know what I mean and I think you do.) Eventually Bill falls for Alice Steele, who's no school teacher. She's been part of the dark underside of Los Angeles, but now she's reforming. Or is she? She gets a job teaching school, but little bits of her past keep popping up here and there, like her friend Lois.

Bill and Lora don't know about Alice's past, but Lora is curious, and maybe driven by something else, too. She starts to investigate. The more she finds out, the sleazier things become, and eventually Lois disappears. Lora supects murder, and she's drawn closer and closer to the dark side, which has a strange attraction for her. I'm not telling what happens and spoil the story for you.

I didn't detect any anachronisms the way I did in Dope, another recent novel with a '50s setting. My only complaint about Die a Little is the names. Lois and Lora. Why have two major characters with such similar names? Sometimes that's confusing to an old guy like me. Maybe there's some literary reason that escapes me. While the book didn't win the Edgar, it's easy to see why it was a strong contender. It'll be interesting to see where Megan Abbott goes next.

Mother of Mercy, Could This Be the End DEADWOOD?

from Lee Goldberg's blog:

A Writer's Life: "Variety reports that HBO has let their contractual options lapse on the cast of DEADWOOD, which begins airing its third season in a few weeks. This decision frees the cast to pursue jobs elsewhere, which strongly suggests that HBO has lost interest in a fourth season of the show before the third season has even aired."

An Anniversary (Not Mine)

Congratulations to Jaime Weinman on the second anniversary of his fine blog, Something Old, Nothing New. If you haven't checked out his clips, this tribute to the great radio newsman and commentator Les Nessman would be a good place to start.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Threats on the Air

New York Daily News - Home - Hip-hop jock's sick rap: "Power 105 DJ fired after sex threat vs. rival's kid


Troi Torain, Power 105's DJ Star, has been fired by the station after he spewed racist, violent remarks on air about rival Rashawn Casey, aka DJ Envy of Hot 97, his wife, Gia Casey, and their daughter.
A popular radio personality was fired yesterday after making a series of shockingly ugly, racist and violent on-air remarks - including a threat to sexually molest the young daughter of a rival deejay."

Thanks to Ed Gorman for the heads-up on this. Ed says he can remember when Andy Williams threatened Pat Boone the same way.

Evolution of the Dance

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the tip.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Bob Dylan on XM

Once again I listened to Bob Dylan's XM radio show. This time the theme was "mother," and Dylan had another great playlist:

Julia Lee, Mama Don’t ‘llow
Tommy Duncan, Daddy Loves Mommy-O
Jan Bradley, Mama Didn’t Lie
Buck Owens, I’ll Go to Church again with Mama
Randy Newman, Mama Told Me not to Come
Bobby Peterson Quintet, Mama Get the Hammer (a Fly’s on the Baby’s Head)
J. B. Lanoir, Mama, Please Talk to Your Daughter
Earl King, A Mother’s Love
Ruth Brown, Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean
Carl Smith, Let Mother Nature Have her Way
Memphis Slim, Mother Earth
Ernie K-Doe, Mother-in-Law
Little Junior Parker, Mother-in-Law Blues
Merle Haggard, Mama Tried
Jimmy McCracken, Gonna Tell Your Mother
Rolling Stones, Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby
Dirty Red, Mother Fuyer
L L Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out

Mystery*File Update

After a few days away, Steve Lewis is back and updating. Check it out.

MYSTERY*FILE ON-LINE: "May 9. ROBERT EDMOND ALTER. Peter Enfantino, M*F’s resident expert on mystery digests, examines and reports in on each of the stories this author wrote for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine in the late 50s and early 60s."

The Beach Boys

Judy and I drove down to Galveston last Saturday to see the Beach Boys. They don't look a thing like the group at the left because only one of those guys (Mike Love, far right) is still with the group. Bruce Johnston, who joined in 1964, is close enough to being an original member to count, though. His first recording with the group was "California Girls."

At any rate, the current group puts on a fine "greatest hits" show, with songs by other groups (the Hondells, Jan and Dean) thrown in. There's also a brief doo-wop segment that I enjoyed. Mike Love's voice isn't what it used to be, but the other singers help out a lot and do a fine job of duplicating the groups' original sound. If they're ever in your area, and if you're not disturbed by the sight of dozens of geezers dancing in the aisles (and hundreds of geezers singing along), check 'em out.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

On Second Thought, Maybe I'll Have a Slug of that Rum

Body-in-rum story had us over barrel - Peculiar Postings - "OK, maybe we should have known it was too good to be true. But we couldn't resist the story, offered by Reuters as legitimate, of workers in Budapest who drank a barrel of rum with a special flavor and then were mortified to find a pickled corpse at the bottom of the barrel. So we published it Thursday.

Readers soon began questioning the veracity of the tale and pointing out references to similar stories on urban legends sites."

Noir Night 2006

Okay, Blogger seems to be working again, and here's a photo from Noir Night. Jason Starr on the left, Reed Farrel Coleman on the right, and Ken Bruen in the middle. There was a good-sized crowd at Murder by the Book, and everyone seemed to have a fine time. For more photos of the event, click here. (And you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them if you want to get really up close and personal.)

Blogger Blues

Blogger is free. So I really have no right to complain. However, that's never stopped me before. I have photos from Noir Night that I can't post because Blogger has gone nuts. It's happening more and more often. And of course Blogger never acknowledges that there's anything wrong. But it's free.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Judy and I watched Match Point the other day. I liked it, but I didn't love it. One reason is that I didn't find it filled with twists as apparently some reviewers did. In fact, at about the midway point, I said to Judy, "We both know where this is going. Why don't they cut to the chase?" After all, I've seen a lot of noir films and read a lot of Gold Medal novels. I've also seen A Place in the Sun, a movie of which I was strongly reminded. I'm sure the resemblance is deliberate, and I wonder if Woody Allen made Scarlett Johansson study Shelly Winters' performance in the earlier movie. She sort of plays her role the same way Winters did. But I digress. The plot was clever and well-constructed, but it didn't surprise me.

Another thing, and this is a terrible admission for me to make, is that I don't get Scarlett Johansson. I know, I know. She's supposed to be a hottie. She's supposed to be the most beautiful woman in the world. And so on. Not to me. It couldn't be my age, could it? (Hey, you damn kids get off my lawn!) Anyway, because she leaves me cold, I didn't buy the attraction between her and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. To me, the supposedly hot scene in the rain was just silly. I'm also not impressed by Johansson's acting. She was adequate, but for me, that's about it.

I know I'm in a minority here. Can't help it. I'm glad I saw the movie, but it's not one I'll ever want to see again.

Dragon Precinct -- Keith R. A. DeCandido

I've enjoyed the fantasy novels by Glen Cook about a p.i. named Garrett, so Dragon Precinct seemed like it might be fun. It's more or less an attempt to come up with the fantasy novel equivalent of an 87th Precinct novel. Too bad it didn't work very well.

My problems with the book included characters that I didn't find very interesting, threads that didn't really develop, and an ending that comes from way out in left field (it's a variation on what Roger Ebert calls the "idiot plot," and it relies on someone's not giving essential information at the beginning of the investigation, information that would have rendered the rest of the book unnecessary).

What did I like? Well, the book concentrates on the procedural details instead of the magic angle, and the world-building isn't bad. All in all, though, the book wasn't strong enough to make me want to read another one in the series, assuming that one was ever published. DeCandido has written a ton of media tie-ins (Buffy, Star Trek, Farscape, Serenity, etc.), and this seems to have been an attempt to establish his own territory. Maybe it would work better for you than it did for me.

Smith & Wesson is Back on Top

A massive Smith & Wesson revolver. By Brendan I. Koerner: "Leading the way for Smith & Wesson was the Model 500, a .50-caliber revolver that was advertised as the world's most powerful handgun when it debuted in early 2003. The marketing pitch echoed that for the .44 Magnum revolver, which was touted for its unrivaled stopping power when it debuted in 1955. With three times the muzzle energy of Dirty Harry's classic .44 Magnum, the Model 500 was a success with both consumers and critics, earning Handgun of the Year honors from the likes of American Rifleman."