Friday, July 31, 2009

Bright Lights, Small City

Live from the Traverse City Film Festival. We stood for an hour in a standby line outside this cool theater and just slipped in for a midnight showing of the crazy Norwegian zombie flick "Dead Snow." A soon-to-be cult classic. Had the added benefit of seeing Michael Moore and Jeff Garlin hanging around outside.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

She Rides A Crimson Shell

Last year, I visited the BlogIndiana Social Media Conference in Indianapolis and had my mind opened to the Next Big Thing. A long-time believer in microcinema and grassroots DV, I saw a new model coming that I would need to know about to keep my day job afloat (as well as my humble, fragile screenwriting career loyal readers come here to learn about) and wanted to sniff out more about it. Astoundingly, this year I will be speaking at BlogIndiana. Is my entry into these hallowed digital halls signalling the death knell of Web 2.0? Only time will tell.

I am getting dangerously hooked not only on my Kindle (just snagged some inexpensive Allan Guthrie noir) but, a magical place where you can get rid of modern trashy paperbacks you don't want any more and trade them for golden guilty pleasures like Samuel R. Delany and Day Keene. This site is a vast improvement over, in my opinion, which I often referred to as "Book Throwing Away Club."

The good news for me is that usually a big spate of reading forecasts the brain food for a long bout of writing, so stay tuned. Until later I am at

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Teeth of a Hydra

My wife bought me a Kindle for Father's Day/birthday/maybe a piece of our anniversary and I would like to think it was out of undiluted love but it was more likely because I just own too many books. My recent obsession with replacing all of the Gold Medal paperbacks of my youth (and then some I hadn't heard of because ebay- and in fact the interwebs--had yet to be invented) has only magnified this issue. A dire threat was issued that we would need a new bookshelf to hold all of the books but I thought that was a helpful suggestion and went out and bought and built yet another bookshelf.

Thus a Kindle, which holds quite a few books itself and is smaller than the new bookshelf.

There are many of my reading brethren who are philosophically opposed to the Kindle because they like the look and feel of paper. These are, basically, the same people who pretend they don't read tabloids or watch reality television, and I once numbered myself among them.

But it is hard to pass up the convenience and ease and relative inexpense of downloads with the Kindle, and I found that I could actually read off of it pretty easily (as a person who does not like to read anything longer than a blog post on a computer screen). I soon had a new dark mistress.

The first book I downloaded was "Pygmy" by Chuck Palahniuk followed in quick succession by two Hard Case Crime novels, "House Dick" by E. Howard Hunt and "The Murderer Vine" by Shepard Rifkin. $20 of Father's Day money gone. I was happy to find Hard Case Crime on Kindle but was disappointed two books I was looking for--"The Savage Detectives" by Roberto Bolano and Denis Johnson's "Nobody Move"--were not yet available.

The Kindle people are diabolically clever by offering up all kinds of free downloads, mostly of classics but plenty of other stuff to get you hooked, like "Assassin's Apprentice" by Robin Hobb and "His Majesty's Dragon" by Naomi Novik, both of which I had already read and admired and both the beginning of addictive series. Joseph Finder's "Paranoia" is up there free, as is "Elric: The Stealer of Souls" by Michael Moorcock. I downloaded a couple of freebies that I probably wouldn't buy but might try for nothing, which I am sure was the plan, like "Manifold Time" by Stephen Baxter and "Blood Engines" by T.A. Pratt and "Weapons of Choice" by John Birmingham. Then, while nosing around, I broke down and spent a few thin dollars on "To Kiss or Kill" by Day Keene and "Leaves of Grass" by some dude.

Suffice to say I am ready for my beach vacation in a few weeks. Give me a shout at

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Imaginary Blonde

Longtime readers know about my fascination with the detritus of a misspent youth; 70s comics, Gold Medal paperbacks, late-night creature features, musical one-hit wonders, and the like. Those who, like me, peruse the dustbins of history for forgotten lore know that it is not so much the acquisition as the hunt.

For instance, recently I went to a party at a friend's and came across a box of comics his mother had chucked out of the attic and told him to get rid of. He hadn't gotten around to throwing it away yet and I peeked in out of curiosity and found a whole slew of 60s-era Marvel Comics with single- and double-digit numbering and titles like Uncanny X-Men and Daredevil and The Amazing Spider-Man. Yes, the little voice in my head told me to casually offer him $20 to take the box off his hands but I couldn't do it.

Even more recently I was visiting a little antique store my wife had dragged me into and I happened across a stack of old magazines. The old man running the shop told me a 99-year-old man had recently passed away and the proprietor had been given the opportunity to sort through his junk and see if anything was worth saving.

My eyes landed on Manhunt Detective Story Monthly #1, January 1953, with stories by Mickey Spillane, William Irish, Kenneth Millar, Richard S. Prather, and Evan Hunter, among others. If you do not recognize these names, please leave this blog immediately and go to Google, then come back when you are educated, grasshopper. Right behind this one was issues 2, 4, and 9, featuring Richard Deming and David Goodis and Ross Macdonald (as I said, Google).

All for a thin dollar each. The proprietor must have seen my bad pokerface because he hesitated to sell them at the eleventh hour, but without making a quick trip to ebay couldn't figure out how not to sell these to me.

Later I checked out ebay myself, and suffice to say could make back my $4 rather easily. But these are made for reading myself, looking at the covers and thinking about that quickening of the pulse when I saw them on the dusty shelf.

I'll be out nosing around, but can be found at