Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Work Day

As someone (all of you) suggested, I should shut up and get to work.

Good advice.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

"Giraffes Are Selfish" - Barney Fife Explains Natural Selection

I woke up to the news that Don Knotts had died on Friday night.

I remember Knotts as one of the Man On The Street interviewees on Steve Allen's show. He was always jumpy, always had a name like "Willis K. Bessemer," and invariably worked with explosives. When Allen asked what the middle initial stood for it was always "Kaboom " and that joke never got tired, partly because I was six years old, but mostly because Knotts knew how to deliver a punchline. I loved that guy.

The first time I saw Andy Griffith was in "No Time For Sergeants" and there, in a small part, was Don Knotts.

The two got together again in fictional Mayberry, and that's when Knotts became Barney Fife, cousin and deputy to Andy Griffith's Sheriff Taylor.

Here in North Carolina there has been an outpouring of love for Knotts, our adopted son, including this fine piece by Dennis Rogers, columnist for the Raleigh News & Observer:

"For five years, from 1960 to 1965, Barney fought what little crime he could rustle up on the streets of the sleepy little town, searched for love in the arms of Thelma Lou (with the occasional dalliance with that trashy Juanita down at the diner) and set a new standard for bullet maintenance.

Of course, he only had one bullet to care for, and Sheriff Andy made him keep it in his shirt pocket. Barney may have been a coward on the outside, but he became a bug-eyed hero when things got dicey.


Few actors have ever been more right for a part than Knotts as Barney Fife. Barney, as seen through the heart and mind of Knotts, was the everyman who lives inside us all. Oh, we may pretend we're cool, calm, collected and wise like Andy, but deep inside we know there is a nervous, unsure nerd who may often come up short, but never for lack of trying. Barney Fife often failed, but he always tried."

I encourage you to read the entire column here.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Karmic Corrective

I thought we needed a little balance.

Here's a fluffy kitty.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Bad News For The President

Apparently, being an asshole is against the law. Or at least it will get you a ticket.

According to the AP, this college student, if you don't know him you know someone like him, honked his horn at the cops because they went through a red light with their flashers on, getting between him and beer.

The cops gave Clay Palmer, a student at the University of Tennessee, a ticket for violating the city noise ordinance because, as much as we need one, there's still no law against being stupid.

The judge reduced the charge to a warning. "The horn blowing is not the real problem here, it's that you were trying to correct the police and they didn't need correcting," Judge Russell Bean said, adding, "and you were being an asshole."

OK, he didn't say that last part, but that's what he was thinking.

Palmer left traffic court saying he still believed officers were abusing their authority, proving that assholes never learn, even if they are in college.

I've Been A Writer All My Life. So Why Can't I Write?

This is going to be an uncomfortable combination of Quertermous' confessional and Joe Konrath's hard-headed business model. If you decide to skip today's Planet of Angst, I won't be offended.

Yesterday, Joe casually let it drop that he writes a novel in 30 days. Now Joe approaches this as a business, and he's right, it is a business. He's crafting a product for a market and then selling the bejesus out of it. Good for him.

I can't do that. It's not that I'm an artist. There are artists in this business and I refrain from naming them only because of the names I'll miss. You know who they are. But that's not me. I tap dance, at best, and lately I've had two left feet.

I can't write.

In the past year I've written the first act of a horror collaboration that didn't work, I don't know why, but I could hear the disappointment in my agent's voice. I wrote a film treatment that's with Lion's Gate but we've already heard it "doesn't have enough scare points." For a full year I've been within ten pages of finishing a medical thriller I'm ghosting, and I can't seem to write the damn ending. I don't know why. I've never had this problem before. I've always scoffed at writer's block. No more.

In the past week things have been better. Tribe gave me a chance to put something up over at his place. Bryon has accepted a short story for this summer's Demolition. I have been working on the ghost assignment and the new novel, the one that's been with me for three years plus, but it's like walking through wet concrete.

I can't shake this black fear that whatever I write won't be good enough, that my first book was also my last, that my edge is succumbing to my age, that I'm not hard-headed enough for the business or hardboiled enough for the art.

I don't do this for the money. I don't do this because I have any insight into the human condition. I do this because I'm a writer. So I keep plugging away, page by page, like an infantryman on a long slog, I put one foot in front of the other, not even sure where I'm going except forward.

I'm sorry for airing all this personal stuff in public. I'm usually a suck-it-up kind of guy and I'm sure every one of you has something better to do. So next week, I promise, the tap shoes go back on. Today, I'm going to work.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Oh sure, it's easy to blame Alanis Morrisette

Once again, Overheard in New York makes me laugh out loud.

Guy #1: You know what we need? A nice breeze.
Guy #2: What the fuck are you talking about? It's cold as balls.
Guy #1: I was being ironic.
Guy #2: That's not ironic. Ironic is like...shit, I don't know. Like that song.
Guy #1: Naw, man. That's what people think, but ironic is when you say some shit but you mean some other shit.
Guy #2: Motherfucker, that's facetious.
Guy #1: Yeah...Then what's ironic?
Guy #2: How the fuck should I know? You the nigga with the GED.

Go buy the book.

What Do Crime Writers Do With All Their Millions?

They buy an island.

It's late winter, raining gray all over my normally sunny disposition. What better way to spend a few minutes than by perusing the private islands on the market?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Fair Warning

This is old news. But I have not mentioned this place for a reason, dear reader, and that's because I care about you, the innocent who has not yet been pulled into the tent, the wide-eyed child who remains unsullied by the dancing dogs and calliope wheeze of Rickard's Mystery Circus.

Yes, others have barked their bally-hoo to the rubes, calling it a great forum for crime writers and fans, a salon for homicide, a place of discourse concerning agents and rewrites, making literature versus making a living, reading the tarot of the shamus, and other subjects close to our inquisitive little hearts.

But don't believe it, boys and girls.

John Rickards has erected his tent on the outskirts of town so he can lure farm boys from their chores and farm girls from their knickers. Or vice versa. This is a dark place where housewives gamble the egg money on the crooked Wheel of Fate and husbands drink cheap jack spirits and lust after the sparkle girl who can pick up a silver dollar without using her hands.

This is where the dog-faced boy looks an awful lot like your little brother, the chicken-headed geek is speaking to you, Mr. Jones, and the hermaphrodite, for an extra fifty cents, will lift its skirts and show you something that will haunt you on your honeymoon.

And by the end of the night, when the funhouse is struck, there is only one place left for you the lost, the hollow-eyed shambler, the soul-sucked husk of humanity wandering from tent to tent, searching for the bearded lady of your dreams.

And that's working the freak show.

So step right up folks and see the sights. But don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I Can't Stop

When you're staring at three years for one novel (and counting), dashing off these little 700 word stories can be very alluring. Almost irresistible. So there's another story up at Tribe's Flashing In The Gutters. Thank you, Tribe, for letting me have just one more.

One More Reason To Hate Clowns

I don't know what you did for your science fair, but my experiments never made headlines, except for that unfortunate fire which we won't go into here.

In Florida, twelve-year-old Jasmine Roberts has moved beyond the papier-mache and baking soda volcanoes with a science fair project that has reporters lining up for interviews. Her scientific findings?

Fast-food ice contains more bacteria, including E. coli, than toilet water. For those who slept through Biology class, E. coli is a killer that comes from human feces.

I'll let you chew on that for a moment.

"These bacteria don't belong there," said Dr. David Katz, Good Morning America's master of the bleeding obvious. Good thing they got a real live doctor to tell us these things, otherwise we'd think shit-borne bugs are a normal part of a Happy Meal.

Jasmine picked this project because all of her friends chew on ice, and it drives her crazy. When he heard about the idea, Jasmine's older brother said, "You're a strange little kid," proving my scientific hypothesis that older brothers are dicks.

Let us salute Junior Science Geek Jasmine Roberts, a youngster who's given new meaning to the Big Gulp.

But watch your back, kid.

I see a clown lurking in the forsythia.

Monday, February 20, 2006

In The Gutter With My Betters

Tribe has done me the great honor of putting up my short piece, A Family Neighborhood, alongside flash stories by writers I admire - Charlie Williams, Duane Swierczynski, Allan Guthrie, Sarah Weinman, Megan Powell, Pat Lambe, Daniel Hatadi, Olen Steinhauer, Stephen D. Rogers, Gerald So, Iain Rowan, and other names that, if you frequent this neighborhood, you'll recognize as habitues.

Reading these short-shorts is like eating salted peanuts. They're great, but you just can't stop.

Check out Flashing In The Gutters here.

The Doctor Is In

The first edition of Woody Creeker, a new magazine edited by Hunter Thompson's widow, is about to hit the streets. I cut my political teeth on Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in '72, a brilliant series for Rolling Stone back before Jann Wenner became obsessed with his own coolness, so it is with trepidation that I read about this new magazine.

I loved Thompson, even when his work became a pale parody of his Gonzo classics, but talk about Fear and Loathing, the first issue kicks off with a piece by PJ O'Rourke, a guy I haven't trusted since he and Matty Simmons drove the once brilliant National Lampoon into a ditch with frat boy sex and scatological yucks.

The one item that gave me hope was in a quote by Gaylord Guenin, contributor and former mayor of Woody Creek. When asked if the magazine was being done to promote tourism he said, "We have enough assholes coming out here already."

This might be a good thing. We'll see.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

We Need A New Word For Neologism

Every year the Washington Post invites its readers to come up with new definitions for common words. For instance, the man in the picture is an:

Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

Here are the other winners in this year's neologism contest.

Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.

Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.

Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.

Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.

Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.

Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.

Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.

Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Oh Look! Shiny!

Whose bright idea was this? You own a lightbulb, one of only a baker's dozen in existence, quite possibly made by The Man's Own Hands, and you store it in a freakin' shoe box in a sock drawer.

Light Bulb Believed Made by Edison Stolen
From Associated Press

CRESTWOOD, Ky. - It was hidden in a shoe box inside a drawer, but the burglar who stumbled upon it must have thought the ancient-looking light bulb was worth something.

The light bulb's owner said it was probably made by Thomas Edison, who is credited with developing a long-burning filament that made the incandescent light bulb marketable.

Helena Grimes, owner of the Waldeck Mansion that was burglarized this week, said the light bulb had belonged to her great-great-uncle. Grimes said she was told by a Smithsonian Institution expert that there are likely only 12 others like it.

I wonder if the banks in Crestwood have similar security. Duane? Up for a road trip?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Tree Gets Drunk, Picks Fight With Foliage

Seriously, I should have named this blog "Shiny Objects" because it really is about whatever ephemera attracts my limited attention. Today it's the news that the Stanford mascot, a tree, was fired for being drunk. OK, there are a number of reasons why this item seduced my eye.

1. Stanford has a tree for a mascot
2. Stanford has a TREE for a mascot
3. The mission of Stanford's band, as quoted by band spokesman, Sam Urmey

Tree Mascot Fired for Alleged Drunkenness
From Associated Press

STANFORD, Calif. - A rowdy Stanford University mascot was fired after being discovered drunk during a basketball game, university officials said.

Fifth-year senior Erin Lashnits, who dresses as a tree for the university's irreverent band, was stripped of her duties last week after her blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.157 during a men's basketball game at the University of California, Berkeley. For the purposes of driving a vehicle in California, legally drunk is .08.

Stanford went on to lose the Feb. 9 game 65-62.

The university had previously placed the band on "alcohol suspension," which requires a zero-tolerance policy toward drunkenness, said band spokesman Sam Urmy. "We don't want to risk our core mission of bringing funk to the funkless," Urmy said.

Really, I need to get a life.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I Hit This Old Man Today...

...knocked him clean off his feet, sent him to the ICU.

The first thing the police asked was if I'd been drinking. I told him I had a beer at lunch. One beer. He said OK, and wanted to ask more questions but I told him I had a dinner to attend and asked if it would be all right if I came in later, like tomorrow. "No problem," he said, and let me go.

A fairytale.

The CIA, The Grassy Knoll And The Magic BB Theory

The Poor Man Institute brings us another adventure of the Cheeto-stained typists, fighting the good fight from the dank confines of their moms' basements, in Keyboard Kommandos Attack!

And The Winner Is...

I want to thank everyone who gave me their definition of a good day in hell. After long hours of deliberation and careful consideration of all entries, the judges have decided that

"A good day in Hell is..."

"...a day when the heat is only dry heat. Because we all know Hell has gotta be humid."

This was Dave White's First Prize suckup to the Tarheel boys. See you in Kinston come August, Dave. Bring a towel.

"...when you don't have to turn the spiked condom inside out."

Daniel Hatadi's Second Prize winner had the judges crossing their legs and moving quickly on to...

The Winners of the as-yet undetermined Third Place Prize*

"...when the perfect sentence unfolds before my eyes. Mine, somebody else's, it doesn't matter." - Stephen Rogers with one of the few entries that had anything to do with the writing profession.

"...Bush and a bag of Costco pretzels." - K.C. Baxter wins Special Political Honorable Mention

Winners should send me their mailing addresses and the books will go out in mid-March, after Dusty's Great Tarheel Tour.

*The author and the judge will decide on third place prizes after adjourning to a local place of liquid refreshment.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Wish Someone You Love A Good Day In Hell

You still have 7 hours to win a signed copy of Good Day In Hell, the latest Jack Keller thrill ride from JD Rhoades. Sarah Weinman said, "This book kicks ass." Apparently she also kisses little children with that mouth, but there you are.

Just send me your definition of a Good Day In Hell as in

"A good day in hell is when you open your eyes and the police aren't in the room."

I'll pick the best, a runner up and a third prize. This is my blog, I am the judge, and all decisions of the judge are final and beyond appeal. So suck on it.

Win A Good Day In Hell

Today we'll hit a milestone at The Planet. Sometime this morning, someone will be the 2000th customer of our copyright infringements, deranged rants, cheap gags and Fun With Photoshop. To the Divine Ms. Weinman, this milestone is most likely a daily occurrence, but in this neighborhood it's reason to give stuff away.

Send an email (davidterrenoire at hotmail.com), tell me what you would consider a good day in hell, and I'll personally have Dusty sign a copy of his new book, the second in a series featuring tormented tough guy, Jack Keller. The St. Martins Grand Tour rolls through here the middle of March.

Second prize is a signed copy of Beneath A Panamanian Moon by some guy with a long, impossible name. I know where he lives.

Third prize? Two copies of Beneath A Panamanian Moon. (ba-DUM)

Really, I don't know what a third prize would be, but I'll think of something.

*And thanks to Duane for letting me borrow his contest concept. I promise to return it when I'm done.

UPDATE: It's come to my attention that you might be one of the twelve people who bought Panamanian Moon. If that's the case, I'll substitute another book. We'll talk.

UPDATED UPDATE: The Planet officially hit 2000 visitors at 9:34 this morning. I'm humbly grateful, and more than a little surprised, that people keep coming back here. It's a very silly place.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

One Last Valentine's Day Post

This came in the mail in the Atlantic today. Considering the day, the previous post, and the greatness of this photograph by Robert Doisneau, I couldn't resist ending the 14th with a little romance.

I told you it was complicated.

Tomorrow, I rip a page from Swierczynski's blog (if you steal, steal from the best) and post a contest. First Prize, JD Rhoades' new novel A Good Day In Hell, signed by the Dustman himself, purchased with my credit card. Second prize, one of my last two copies of Panamanian Moon, signed by the author, pulled directly from my shelves.

The reason for the contest? I'll leave that for tomorrow.

Not Feeling Romantic? This One's For You.

In the interest of balance, here are a few thoughts on love:

Love is that thing that hangs up behind the bathroom door and smells of Lysol. - Ernest Hemingway

Love: The delusion that one woman differs from another. - Ambrose Bierce

Many a man has fallen in love with a girl in a light so dim he would not have chosen a suit by it. - Maurice Chevalier

It's possible to love a human being if you don't know them too well. - Charles Bukowski

Love: a burnt match skating in a urinal. - Hart Crane

What is irritating about love is that it is a crime that requires an accomplice - Charles Baudelaire

When we want to read of the deeds that are done for love, where do we turn? To the murder column. - George Bernard Shaw

Love is two minutes fifty-two seconds of squishing noises. - Johnny Rotten

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. - H.L. Mencken

The reason that lovers never weary each other is because they are always talking about themselves. - Francois de la Rochefoucauld

And my personal favorite:

Love is like bridge. If you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand. - Mae West

What Is This Thing Called Love?

Love is the great mystery.

Why does an otherwise intelligent woman, a beautiful woman, a talented woman, agree to spend a lifetime with a man who scratches, breaks wind, indulges in firearms, comes home late reeking of vodka and smoke, hangs out with underemployed artists and musicians, listens to scratchy songs about heart attacks and blood money, buys guitars, reads books about bad people doing bad things and worse, writes books about bad people doing bad things, a man who can't remember a conversation they had just this morning, a man who will do anything to avoid finishing this novel, why oh why does that woman, who could have had a dozen other infinitely better men, why does she stay married to him for more than a quarter century?

I don't have a clue. But I'm happy she does.

Happy Valentine's Day, Baby. I'd be nothing without you.

Last one

This is it, I promise.

Fun With Photoshop Redux

Want to go quail hunting with the VP? Just pull the trigger here.

Thanks to secretdeadartist for the tip.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Neil Young Can Still Kick Your Ass

Who knew getting old would take so much work? I mean, all you have to do is not die, and people like Jesse Helms do that every goddamn day.

But this is the second time in less than a week that Salon's Stephanie Zacharek has written something that's struck a chord. In a short review of Jonathan Demme's new concert doc about Neil Young, she begins with this:

When you're in your 20s, it seems incomprehensible that you'll ever reach the age where listening to music takes actual work. You can't imagine a time when the act of listening -- of making time for it in your life, and, even more significantly, of keeping yourself open to new things -- is no longer blissfully effortless. And sure enough, for most of us that day eventually comes: It may hit when you're 30; you may be able to stave it off until you're 40. But at some point, you find yourself casually asking the youngest people at your workplace, "So -- what are you listening to?"

Sadly true. Between 20 and 30, I moved sixteen times. Each time, the last thing packed and the first thing unpacked was the stereo. Today, it's the kitchen. Tomorrow it'll be my walker.

When Molly was born, I dug into my career, I stopped playing music and seeking out new stuff. Music magazines like Rolling Stones became celebrity rags, making it harder to keep up, but most of it was just getting older.

Then Molly went off to college and I started playing again. I play the blues, because it's what I love and, as Eric Clapton said, you can play the blues with dignity long after you'd look stupid playing rock and roll. The blues is a man's music - no B, no O, no Y.

But younger people do occassionally take pity and throw me a bone. I've been introduced to Jimmy Eat World, Jump Little Children, The National, the North Mississippi All Stars, Hammel on Trial and other terrific bands. I'm grateful because at my age new music is like terra incognita that I can see on postcards, maybe visit for a while, but I can no longer live there. My visa has expired.

But Neil Young still kicks ass. Rock on old man.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

You feel lucky? Well do ya?

According to the news, Dick "Dick" Cheney is quick on the trigger.

Chicago Tribune - A hunting companion of Vice President Dick Cheney was recuperating from shotgun pellet wounds to his face, neck and chest Sunday after Cheney accidentally shot the man in a weekend quail-hunting trip on one of Texas' biggest ranches, according to the ranch owner and the vice president's office.

And this is what he does to his friends.

I'm With Stupid, Part 2

It happened again. I made the mistake of posting a dissenting POV at a right wing site. Some guy suggested that the loathsome homophobe Fred Phelps, the man who demonstrates outside of military funerals with signs that say "Thank God For IEDs" is actually a liberal. I think. I'm not sure. He found a picture of Phelps taken in 1988 with Al Gore, so I guess that was his thesis. I pointed out that Rosalyn Carter had her picture taken with John Wayne Gacy and she's not a serial killer, and Donald Rumsfeld had his picture taken with Saddam Hussein, and he's not a murderous dictator who seized power by force.

He was appointed. (I'll be here all week.)

That should have been enough, but I couldn't let it go. I argued that I'd enlisted about the same time Dick Cheney had "other priorities" and George Bush was snorting blow off a cheerleader's thigh. (I heard the cheerleaders' name was Bob, but that's probably just a rumor started by Bob.) I said that I take offense when someone suggests liberals hate the military, particularly if that opinion comes from a poster with the nom de guerre "lobo" and whose only time in uniform involved a paper hat and a deep fryer.

So he got their resident veteran to put me in my place. Here, without edit, is the general's post:

When you have served as much time as I have 25 years days active duty and a lot of reserve time. I would not want to count the times I have commanded an honor guard for a military funeral. I was a hard shell democrat until I finally saw the light when the low life Clinton got elected. Now go dry yourself behind the years sonny and get some experience in life and them come back I again again relate the idiots that used King funeral polically as being the same as Pretending to be a Pastor Phelps.

I have great respect for our veterans, especially those with apparent head wounds, and I should have walked away from this, but no, I wasted an extra part of my life arguing with this person. Wow.

So who's the stupid one?

That would be me.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Sons of the Desert directed by Sergey Eisenstein

We've known Tribe as the clever, thoughtful, informed and funny commenter on a number of blogs, but I hadn't dropped by his place until yesterday, don't ask me why. It's certainly not because I was writing.

He's put up a nice post about silent films and if you care at all about cinema before Jolson stuck his bazoo into frame, check it out here.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The People At Mattel Have Plastic Privates

Speaking of comedy, go over to Drink at Work and check out the latest update on Ken and Barbie. Funny stuff.

Two Guys Walk Into A Bar: An Urban Tragedy.

Rodney Dangerfield was right. Funny guys get no respect. Sure, women say they love a man with a sense of humor, but they never go home with the comic. They go home with the guitar player.

Comedies are rarely given the big awards. People love Westlake, but he's not often mentioned in the pantheon of great writers. Yet Ax deals with the weighty issues of what a man loses when he loses his career, and what desperate means he'll use to get it back. Carl Hiaasen wrote one of the funniest scenes I've ever read in Stormy Weather, a scene involving a fire extinguisher, a mother-in-law and a coati mundi, but the novel also deals with government corruption, naked ambition, and human frailty, the same things Arthur Miller mined for All My Sons.

Over at Salon, Stephanie Zacharek looks at recent film comedians' work. Here's part of what she wrote:

As much as we all claim to enjoy comedies, we're often unwilling to take a comic actor seriously until he or she tackles "serious" work, an expectation that comics themselves are only too keenly aware of. But they know as well as anyone that great comedy -- and even just minor comedy -- often harbors serious themes. Mike Myers (a wonderful comic actor who needs to take a break from doing cartoon voices and give us a real comedy) has often quoted Henri Bergson's claim that comedy is basically the recognition of your own mortality. You can't get much more serious than that.

Maybe I should have called this blog Memento Mori.

Sir Donald Wolfit is remembered more for his deathbed observation that "dying is easy - comedy is hard," than for his acting career. So, maybe the trick is to write serious stuff all your life, and then as you're drawing your last breath, go for the punch line. After all, no one remembers Olivier's last words.

He should have gone out on a joke.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Coppola? Spielberg? Anybody?

I think it was Elmore Leonard who said he made more money from a bad picture than he did from a best selling book.

Most of the books I've read in the past year conform to the three-act structure, intentionally or not, and most would make great pictures. Jeff Shelby's Killer Swell, Dusty Rhoades' Devil's Right Hand, Duane's The Wheelman, Olen Steinhauer's Bridge of Sighs and most recently, For The Dogs, Kevin Wignall's book that has indeed been optioned for the big screen.

I can't count how many people (OK, three) have told me that Beneath A Panamanian Moon would make a good movie, and I know ICM shopped it around, although I don't know how hard. I don't consciously write for Hollywood, but once the book is done I allow myself to fantasize a bit, just as someone might fantasize about hitting the lottery. But I know the odds are just as long.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bill's Excellent Adventure

Making fun of Bill O'Reilly is easy sport, but Nicholas Kristof of the Times has issued Mr. Not-Man-Enough-To-Be-On-The-Factor a challenge to accompany him on a trip to Darfur. Apparently, Bill has demurred, not wanting to leave his broadcast because the country would fall apart without his daily guidance. But Kristof assures Bill that technology would allow him to broadcast from anywhere.

So maybe it's the money.

That's why Kristof asked his readers to pony up a few bucks for the trip. Here's what he said in today's NYT:

"You can help sponsor a trip by Mr. O'Reilly to Darfur, where he can use his television savvy to thunder against something actually meriting his blustery rage.

If you want to help, send e-mail to sponsorbill@gmail.com or snail mail to me at The Times, and tell me how much you're willing to pay for Mr. O'Reilly's expenses in Darfur. Offers will be anonymous, except maybe to the N.S.A. Don't send money; all I'm looking for is pledges. I'll post updates at nytimes.com/ontheground.

(Note: pledges cannot be earmarked. It is not possible to underwrite only Mr. O'Reilly's outgoing ticket to Darfur without bringing him home as well.)"

Now I know my thousands of readers (Bill's self-delusion is contagious) would like to help, so go pledge a few bucks to send O'Reilly to Darfur. With any luck, something will eat him.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Religious Riot Over Blasphemous Cartoon

Episcopalians left their quiet cul-de-sacs today and swarmed into the streets to protest a Family Circus cartoon that depicted God and Jesus as large-headed freaks. Pausing only to sip an Evian, Babs Dickerson said, "Really, the cartoon has always been offensive to anyone with an IQ above two digits, but to draw the Creator and our Savior beaming vacuously like the other brain-damaged Bil Keane characters is just too much. And on Sunday, too." The crowd marched to the local Banana Republic, overturned a Washington Times vending machine, and returned home in time for cocktails. There were no reported injuries.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Guilty Pleasure (No, Not Asian Girls)

My daughter tells me I'm the only older (like over 35) person she knows who still eats ramen noodles. Yes, it's true. I regularly boil that brick of starch for three minutes and then flavor the whole thing with that tiny foil packet of god knows what's in that chemical dust. Even the steam off the little girl's bowl is a question mark, what's that tell you? And why the mouse ears and the wink? Are there rodents in that stuff?

But I digress.

Ramen noodles are the culinary mainstay of the wholly broke, but when I was young and poor, these noodles didn't exist in America, at least not where I lived. I existed on pasta and parmesan cheese, chicken livers and onions.

Then there was ramen, and it was so cheap I could make a decent soup with ramen, hot sauce, spinach and onions. Not bad. In fact, compared to what I was eating before (I've been so broke that I once hitchhiked across the country on little more than the soup I could make from hot water, ketchup and crackers - all free) that ramen noodles were a luxury.

So, in spite of having enough money for a proper lunch these days, I've retained my taste for ramen. What about you? Anything from your salad days that you still enjoy? Blue Ribbon beer? Cheez-Wiz and Ritz? Night Train and Crack?

Talk to me. I promise not to tell.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

From The Biggest Name In Crime Fiction

I've said before that I'm happy Duane Swierczynski is writing because his name is harder to spell than mine. Now, it's because I've read his book.

This is not a review. I'm not a book critic. I know better than to think I can casually step into Sarah or David's shoes, and besides, Sarah's heels kill my calves. No, this is not a review.

This is an appreciation.

Duane's novel, The Wheelman, picked me up by the throat and shook me like a rabid terrier. From the opening robbery to the bloody end, this thing moved. And like those high-wire walkers, Duane made it look easy.

He jumpcuts from one POV to another, riding close behind the ear of whoever he's running with, and he covers Philadelphia beautifully, as seamlessly as Dennis Lehane paints Boston.

But The Wheelman is a hell of a lot tougher than Lehane's books, closer to Ken Bruen's work, and while Duane's prose doesn't rise to the bruised knuckle poetry of Bruen's best (give him time), it still packs more into a page and a half than I can squeeze into five.

As I said, this is not a review. This is an appreciation. Thanks, Duane. You've made me a fan, and not just because of your name.

Now, back to our regular programming.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Proof That Stanford Scientists Are Getting Baked in the Afternoon

When the president talked about human animal hybrids last night in the SOTU, I thought of Senator Rick Man-on-Dog Santorum, but I had no idea this was actually happening. Today, This Modern World has the following (to see the full story, click on TMW's link over there):

Chinese scientists at the Shanghai Second Medical University in 2003 successfully fused human cells with rabbit eggs...And at Stanford University in California an experiment might be done later this year to create mice with human brains.

Wow. Will they all sound like Orson Welles?

Unintentional Accuracy In Media

Four years after a bunch of oil-financed Saudis flew planes into the WTC, and three years after we jump to remove Saddam, a crackpot dictator made dangerous only because he was sitting on top of an ocean of crude, Bush decides to address our dependence on oil. It's this kind of quick thinking that we've come to expect from the president.

Too bad Ken Lay's busy in court, he'd be the perfect crony to put in charge of this new energy jive, uh, I mean policy.

Maybe next year Bush can talk about China holding our mortgage.