Saturday, September 30, 2006


The lunatics over at the Polonia Brothers Fan Club have declared their birthday an official holiday. I believe the Brothers celebrated by hanging out on a beach with Misty Mundae. More info here: Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Interplanetary Adventures of Jeff and Amos

From 1976: Awash in sci-fi in books, TV, and movies, the artist launched a long-running futuristic opus starring purple-clad spacefarer Jeff and his jittery robot partner Amos. By issue #2, we see at the open that a lot of crap has already happened. Posted by Picasa

Blue Moon

In another episode, Jeff and Amos have the misfortune of crash-landing on Earth apparently during a roadshow version of "Grease." Posted by Picasa

Midnight Express/Starlight Express

Another needlessly exposition-laden issue find Jeff and Amos in a space prison, hoping to escape before 60,000,000 crix go by. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 18, 2006

Book Beat

My latest "Book Beat" column from Pomp and Circumstantial Evidence, the magazine of the Magna Cum Murder Mystery Conference:

THE CLOSERS by Michael Connelly
In my opinion, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch has had one of the more complex story arcs of series characters in modern mystery fiction, and Connelly has written a consistently engaging series. In this entry, Bosch rejoins the L.A. police force after a short stint as a private investigator, coming back to the Cold Case unit. The first case appears to be a slam dunk after a DNA match surfaces many years after the murder. But, naturally, nothing comes easy to Bosch and he is right back hip-deep in possible police corruption as well as a murder that shattered a family. Another compelling story in this admirable series.

THE ICE SOLDIER by Paul Watkins
A traumatized World War II veteran has settled down to life as a schoolteacher, eager to forget a mountain-climbing mission in the war that ended in tragedy; but a chain of circumstances sends our reluctant hero back to the mountain that almost ended his life years before. Watkins’ latest is a blend of high adventure and World War II action, written in a crisp, self-deprecating style. Fans of Len Deighton and Jack Higgins should seek out Watkins’ diverse body of work.

Ed Gorman writes solidly in both the mystery and western genres, and this one is a slice of both; a town marshal in an increasingly tame West tries to keep out from under the thumb of the most powerful man in town, but when the man’s son breaks the law the two men go head-to-head. Drawn into the maelstrom is the marshal’s wife, who as it turns out has an ex-husband who inconveniently finds himself dead in a local hotel. A nicely-paced mystery with western overtones will satisfy fans of both genres.

Irish writer Ken Bruen presents one of the most tarnished antiheroes in noirdom with Jack Taylor, a disgraced cop and reluctant investigator who walks a fine line between disaster and salvation as he solves crimes. In the latest in the series, Taylor kicks his various addictions largely because his drug dealer has gone to jail. When the dealer convinces Taylor to look into a suspicious “accidental” death of a young woman, Taylor tears the lid off of a lot of issues he probably wished he’d never been involved with. Downbeat, but written with a sardonic sense of humor and a deft sense of Irish culture and custom.

From the entirely excellent Hard Case Crime series comes this lost classic from the writer of the long-running 87th Precinct police procedurals. Matt Cordell is for all intents and purposes a bum, but in a previous life had been a private eye; so when a sympathy case of finding some lightly embezzled money turns into full-throttle murder, Cordell has to set aside the bottle for a while and make things right again. Tough-talking and hard-boiled, more so than the usual from Ed McBain. One wonders if Lawrence Block, with his alcoholic private eye Matt Scudder, had a dog-eared copy of this one under his pillow.

GRIFTER’S GAME by Lawrence Block
And speaking of Lawrence Block, he also appears in the Hard Case Crime series with this poisonous tale of a genial scam artist who falls head over heels for a woman who, as noir conventions dictate, nudges him over the edge into the murder of an in-the-way husband. When the husband turns out to be a big-time drug dealer, the train starts to go off the tracks. A surprisingly bleak finale—even for a noir story—caps this nicely-done entry in the Hard Case Crime series.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

More Wooden Dialogue

So the Polonia Brothers go off and make a movie with Leslie Culton in a hot tub and then one with Misty Mundae on the beach and I don't get invited, but they make one with Jon McBride dressed up like a creepy priest and I'm right there. Such is the sad life of the b-movie screenwriter. Despite these letdowns I am rejoining the Bros on a new horror feature, SPLINTERHEAD, about a ventriloquist dummy inhabited by the spirit of a soul unjustly accused of witchcraft back in the day who tries to get revenge on the village that did him in (thank you, muse, for the trip to Salem this summer). The next generation of Polonia Brothers, Mark's son Anthony, plays the lead in this more PG-flavored outing, soon underway in America's b-movie backlot, Wellsboro Pennsylvania.

More new projects in the hopper; until then, give me a shout at

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Battle Royale: 1977

Not that anybody asked, but I found some more of my old drawings; this one, the artist rendered on lined paper, with no. 2 pencil and crayons as his tools. And probably should have been doing his homework. (1977) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Telephone Line

I have been away working up some new projects, not including the dream I had where I was directing the Polonia Brothers playing gangsters in a noir film called Double Knuckle Homicide which I know sounds like a manga but again, this was a dream. Not that I dream about the Polonia Brothers all that much or anything. But wouldn't that be a cool movie?

To answer a few letters I have received in the ol' blog mailbag during the time that I was writing about Microcinema Fest: JK, I actually have heard of a number of westerns with undead themes; DG, if you're still looking for recommendations I have really found "Ex Machina" pretty damn cool lately; DS, yes, I will be writing longer reviews of stuff from the Fest, and a couple of the reviews are already up right here; and JS, thanks for the wise words, back at ya.

Shout back at me at

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The End of MySpace

A couple of people have asked if my disappearance from MySpace is because of my new outlook on life post-turning 40. I have to say it was percolating before that. At one time it seemed to be a good networking place for my far-flung b-movie people, before the teenagers glommed on to it; now, I'm not so sure.

My wariness started when my daughter's high school friends found me on there. As has previously been documented in this humble blog, my rumored status as a porn king has been circulating around the high school for a while--and having a MySpace page with friends called Assmonkey and Frenchkitty and SexMachine had my protests falling on deaf ears.

Thus came the swell of Friends requests from my daughter's potential suitors. I had to reject them all, because there has to be a wall built between my daughter and the sordid world of bigfoot monsters, pirahna, and metrosexual frankensteins. I think working on a movie called Sex Machine tipped me over the edge. I was at one of my daughter's sports events and some of her guy friends were yelling out, "Hey, Sex Machine!" My heart almost stopped. I cannot have high school boys yelling out "Sex Machine!" to me in a crowded place.

Thus came down the MySpace page.

A better story circulating now, based on cold fact, is that I told several parents that if a boy wanted to take my daughter out they would have to first come and beat me in the board game Axis and Allies, much as the target-shooting contest in The Odyssey sorted out the suitors during those days of old. No takers yet, but I told my daughter to watch who is practicing in the lunchroom.

Give me a shout at