Thursday, December 28, 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

Thank you, Graham

The bar isn't officially open, but I wanted to join my colleagues in raising a glass to the proprietor of Crime Spot, Graham Powell.

Graham is the traffic master and genius behind that big roundhouse of blogs, the guy who lets everyone know when a place is updated so there's never a moment in the day you can't find some reason to not write.

Graham once called me an evil genius for bringing down his site but he was being kind. I'm no genius, and the evil is almost always unintentional.

So Graham, this drink's for you.

And if you just email me your address, I'll put this collection of Blue Murder in the mail. It's my way of saying thanks.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's that time of year.

So here we are, a full year from the time I first started writing the Planet. Unfortunately, this joke is as ruefully true today as it was a century ago.

This has been a great year. I hope you all have had as much fun as I have. But, as Carolina Moon said, nothing lasts forever. I'd felt the quality of my posts slip, so it was time to pack it in. As Stephen suggested, I may just go on hiatus. I don't know. I'll leave the Planet up so that I can come back (I don't know how not to leave it up), maybe after I get this novel well under way.

It's always been a source of wonderment that so many great writers came here regularly to get a laugh. Thank you.

This year, with your encouragement, I finished that ghost novel, I wrote my first screenplay and got back to my WIP, one I think will be good if I could only find the time to write it, which is another reason I'm going dark. A steady job makes the mortgage lenders happy, but it is truly the writer's curse.

After all the political posts I've put up, I find it fitting that Donald Rumsfeld and I are leaving on the same day, although I think I had a better year than he did. I made mistakes, but no one got hurt. OK, except for that hooker in Phoenix, but that was Stephen and Dusty's idea, not mine.

Feel free to drop me an email. You know where I am. And I'll be making silly comments at all my usual haunts.

You might check back here after the New Year, say in February, and I might have something new up. Or maybe not. Hell, if something shiny catches my eye this afternoon, I might have something new up. The point is, I'm not planning to. And that takes an enormous weight off.

Weightless. Yeah, that's me. Weightless.

Bogi and Olen.

Because of my love for dogs and my profound affection for Olen Steinhauer, I direct you to Olen's post about Bogi, the pooch in this picture.

I cannot add anything to Olen's memory, just as I can't take away any of his pain, as much as I wish it. But we can express our condolences.

Dogs are one of the few things that make me think there is a God, and that he does favor us. But like all of God's blessings, this one carries a steep price tag.

My sympathy goes out to Olen and his girlfriend and I wish them a brief mourning and my hope that they've taken a lot of pictures like the one above.

Let's not go there. It is a silly place.

Silly. Like this one about a new religion.

The Hamster With The Rabbit's Foot.

A post about vanity plates.

Photoshop fun.

A HanniHunk.

and A modest proposal.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What the hell is this?

In the past year I've posted a lot of silly stuff, but nothing generated as many comments, both on and off the record, as this.

As I look back, it was the silly stuff that gave me the most pleasure. Tomorrow, as we count down to the final day, two of my favorites.

OK, I had to show you this.

I just got this offer from Liddy Dole (R-Asshat), our junior senator who has three dynamite books for you to give to that person on your list you really can't stand.

And they're autographed!

This LIMITED SUPPLY, says Liddy in breathless all-caps, is available for only $99. That's right $99 for Hearts Touched by Fire: My 500 Most Inspirational Quotations by Liddy her own self, her husband's memoir from like 1986, and Here's Where I Stand: A Memoir, by our good and close friend Jesse Helms.

That's right, Liddy's pushing her lame-ass book by climbing onto poor old doddering bigot Jesse Helms' back. That's like me offering my book for sale in a package with Lee Child's, if Lee Child was too senile to know. Which he isn't.

But that's our opportunistic Liddy, always ready to take advantage of others. And Jesus, quotations. Is there a lazier way to get your name on a book cover other than by giving Jeff Shelby a positive blurb?

Liddy goes into her breathless caps again with the ultimate huckster's close: THIS IS THE LAST WEEK! and warns us grimly that "...there is a very limited supply available."

Yeah, like about 300 thousand they have in a warehouse near Salisbury.

So hurry, Planeteers. You know these things are just going to fly off the shelves.

Novel Update:
I figured out my problem. This novel was fighting me like a wounded bear because I'm trying to put two novels into one. So, I'm putting together a new plot for this first book and saving this present plot for a second in a series. If there is a series. Yes, it puts me back several steps, but it's good because I have the second book plotted out. So, while I'm not dancing, I'm not suicidal, either. And it makes a lot of sense. More later.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I couldn't have done it without you, George.

My screensaver at work is a random selection of pictures I've used on this blog. So, it's surprising when I see how many pictures of Bush I have on my hard drive. Say what you will, the guy's good material.

Here are a few entries about our Dear Leader that I'm proud to have written:

Unintentional Accuracy in the Media

Queer Eye For The Cynical Guy

And Here I Thought He Was Gay

Where does she get these ideas?

and my personal favorite:

Get those gays out of uniform and back into cowboy boots where they belong.

Hmm, there seems to be a pattern about these Bushie posts. I wonder why that is.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Planetary News

We all make sacrifices so that we can write. Most of us choose to live in penury, beating our brains against the keyboard, sitting alone at the book signing tables, begging our agents for a hardcover deal, or a multi-book deal, or a paperback deal, all while waiting for that movie deal which might allow us to buy a new used car.

Some of uf give up all hope of full time employment. Some of us live in houses that would make our mothers blanche at the dust and disorder. Some of us work long hours, with little social life or family interaction.

All so we can put out books in a world of fewer and fewer readers.

After thinking about this for a long time, and with a great deal of hesitation because I enjoy this, I'm ending the Planet. This Friday will mark a year's worth of blogging, with more than a post every day, and I feel like it's time. I'm hoping it will free me up to work on the novel. We'll see. When I told Jenny about this, she said "Forever?" and I admitted that forever is a long time and who knows, I might find it impossible to stay away. We'll see.

But I know I won't be posting every day like I have.

So to take us up to the anniversary mark because I am that OCD, I'm going to link to some of my favorite posts from the past year. I went through them and was surprised by how few weren't about me whining about some passing shit in my life and I'm surprised so many of you have stuck with it. So we'll take a stroll through the past 360 days and see what we step in. Here are two of my favorites.

Religious Riot Over Cartoons


Why Are These Children Trying To Kill You?


Friday, December 08, 2006

Ten Reasons to Kill Yourself This Christmas.

I don't know who decides these things, but here are their Top Ten Worst Holiday Specials:

1. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians - I've only seen this one on MST3K, which made it a great movie in my book. Damn, the acting was the cheesiest. Oh, and it had Pia Zadora.

2. 'The Star Wars Holiday Special' - Never saw it but with a cast that included Bea Arthur and Harvey Korman, I'm going to search it out for gift giving.

3. Babes in Toyland - Another one God gave me the grace to miss. Maybe because I saw that it starred Drew Barrymore and Keanu Reeves and I thought, "Hey, I can miss both of them by missing one show! Bonus!" According to the review, Keanu drives around in a pink, flowery go-cart and sings about Ohio. That right there is enough to make you gouge your eyeballs out.

4. Christmas Comes to Pac-Land - Jesus, where was I when these were made? By 1982 I was over my hookers and heroin phase, so that's not it. Oh, that's right, I have taste. See, this Christmas turkey stars Pac-Man, fucking Pac-Man, to celebrate the birth of our savior. No wonder this land is cursed.

5. Jack Frost - Now this is getting ridiculous. I know I'm a heathen, but how did I miss Michael Keaton starring as a blues singer who neglects his son, is killed on Christmas Eve, and is reincarnated as a snowman? Really, where was I?

6. Silent Night, Deadly Night - Finally, one I've seen. Yeah, pretty bad slasher flick even for someone who hates Santa, the fat fuck. And what's a holiday special without tits?

7. Surviving Christmas - Ben Affleck. That's right. Ben Affleck.

8. Eight Crazy Nights - Adam Sandler. Check please.

9. Jingle All the Way - Arnold Schwarzenegger. Just when you think it can't get any worse, it does. I saw about 30 seconds of this the other night. Jesus, what a holiday suckfest.

10. Kathie Lee Gifford's Christmas specials - Now, I can't say I've ever witnessed one of Kathie Lee's Christmas specials but then I've never had my testicles hooked up to a car battery either, and yet I know it would hurt real bad. Here's a great quote from critic Tom Shales: "What's the difference between the 24-hour flu and a Kathie Lee Gifford Christmas special? Twenty-three hours."

That's the list the pundits have put together. My own would include Rudolph, that one with Burl Ives as a singing snowman who pulls a banjo out of his ass whenever he hears a song coming on. But that's just me.

What about you? Any holiday cheese that stirs nightmares of sugarplums in your head?

The 101st Fighting Keyboarders Shake Their Tiny Fists In Rage!

Wow, this was a mistake. I followed a link to a conservative blog to see what the cheeto-stained keyboard commandos had to say about the ISG report. I expected some rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, but even I was surprised by the rancid bile spewed across the Internet.

Here's a sample:

"Anyone who believes that “fighting terrorism” requires blaming America first, last and always can just STFU. "


When asked to produce a quote from any American who said they blamed America, this was the response from a guy whose closest association with anyone in uniform is when he stocks up on Thin Mints and Do-si-Dos:

"You obfuscating prig,they say it every day with their constant attacks on our presence in Iraq. Open your phucking eyes.When you blame the CIC, you are blaming America."

So, apparently, because I think Bush is an incompetent who took us into a major, tragic disaster, I am a blame-America-Firster. Who knew? And when do I get my membership card? Can I get a discount at Starbucks with that? Here's another uber-patriot in full tantrum:

"Democrats like to claim that US efforts in the War on Terror are what causes more terrorism; in fact, what we will probably soon find out is displays of utter weakness such as the publishing of this report will embolden our enemies more than any alleged ‘torture’ of prisoners ever could. "

Yeah, torture doesn't create more terrorists, except maybe that kid who was forced to watch his father being beaten. Yeah, maybe that kid. Or the father who watched his daughter raped. Maybe him. Yeah, I'll bet Dad's going to pick up a gun.

Then, when a mother defends the opposition to the war, the pimply-faced bullies, smelling estrogen in the water, pounce:

"My God, you mean to say someone has actually put their penis into this miserable woman?"

This from a guy who has only read about the sex act, but never actually, you know, done it himself. The angry virgin was followed by this lovely post from a guy named toliver, which is a pretty gay name, not that there's anything wrong with that (no matter what the other kids say):

"As someone mentioned earlier,the only people you’re willing to confront are your fellow Americans.The only reason you idiots have the balls for that is because you know the law protects you,otherwise I would take great pleasure in crushing your f*****g skull!!"

That's when I bailed. There's nothing more manly than a guy named toliver threatening to crush a woman's skull from the safety of his mother's basement.

So if you have some spare time, I'm sure you can find more. But I'd suggest you Google Britney's cooter instead. It's a lot less disgusting.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

It's December 7th.

Watch your back.

With apologies to Josh.

I don't mean to trespass into the Comics Curmudgeon's territory (and if you're not a regular reader, you're missing out on some great stuff), but I have to say something about today's Family Circus.

How can Daddy Keane tell if the hydrocephalic kid's joke is funny or not? No one in this comic has said anything funny in like, forever. Day after day, the family explores new frontiers in suckdom, plumbing the depths of tortured cuteness, Christian pandering, and recycled jokes that weren't funny the first time they evolved from invertebrate humor sometime in the Pleistocene.

I'm convinced it's all an extended, cruel jape at the expense of Keane's malformed offspring. Dyslexia, ADHD, and retardation are just three of the signs of intellectual dysfunction. Look at Dad, destroying Billy's confidence with a lame spelling gag geared to sap Billy's will to live just as this strip has worked, day by day, to sap mine. I can see Billy growing into a lifetime of sexual degradation and crime, spiraling downward into a pit of self-loathing until he finally appears in LA Noir as just another huge-headed mugshot for Stephen to mock further.

And is it just me, or do the powder blue socks on Daddy Keane's curiously feminine ankles look fey?

Sorry, I just had to push this in front of you. Feel free to take cheap shots at this poorly drawn, badly written, cloyingly sweet POS. In fact, I encourage it.

Norman Mailer decides to be different.

In an editorial today in the NY Times, they report that Norman Mailer's new novel will come with a bibliography. The Times asks if this is a good thing and I say anything that will make more work for novelists should be shunned like Britney Spears' offer to babysit.

The Times goes on to ask whether this bibliography thing is an attempt to cite sources or if it's pomposity. I say, if you have to ask, you don't know Norman Mailer.

But it did get me thinking about everything I've read while working on this new book.

1. Start with newspapers, magazines and tour guides from 1941.

2. Add the books Washington at War, Roosevelt's Secret War, Wild Bill and Intrepid, Intelligence During Wartime, Washington Is Like That, The G-String Murders, The Caine Mutiny, What Makes Sammy Run?, Katherine Graham's Washington, How Marines Fight, and a dozen other books that are stacked in my office, their pages marked with yellow sticky notes.

3. Now list all the movies from 1941 I've watched to look at clothes, cars, architecture, train travel, etc and we're talking about a bibliography that goes on for pages.

I like research, but I'm not writing a friggin' term paper here. This is a book, goddammit, and while I want to get things right, I'm not mining these resources for stuff to steal. But I would like to acknowldge the help of all these authors and the librarians at Duke's Perkins Library, the Library of Congress and DC's MLK Library.

Which is why they have an acknowledgements page.

So, what do you think? List all your influences, including Miss Martin, your third grade teacher? Or just write the story?

Which is where the Times finally comes down. They say, "As far as we’re concerned, novelists are obliged to disclose nothing besides the art of the stories they have to tell."

Yeah, I think that's about right.

Just in time for Christmas.

I know, I know, Ray's book has been out a while and I'm probably the last person on the planet to read it, but just in case you haven't picked up Saturday's Child by Ray Banks, then it's the perfect time to order it so you can cuddle up with PI Cal Innes for Christmas.

This is a UK site, so you have to pay in that big tissue paper-like money they measure in pounds or you can do like I did and go to the UK and smuggle it back inside a body cavity to keep from getting put on a potential terrorist list by Homeland Security.

He's already rising in the ranks of UK writers and when US readers discover him he'll be king of the world here, too.

When I read a book this good, it encourages me to keep writing in the hopes that someday I may handle language as deftly as does Mr. Banks, but I'm also discouraged because I know that's just a dream.

I consider Ray a colleague, and I am honored that he finds the time to stop by now and then with a comment. Thanks Ray, for the book and your company.

For the rest of you, you know what to do.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Shut the fuck up, Donnie.

Over at First Offenders, they're having a discussion about the use of the word fuck and I'm so offended I could fucking plotz.

So to keep you from even thinking of the word fuck, I've posted this fucking video, thanks to Ted, who apparently doesn't have anything better to do than to send me fucking videos like this.

However it is from our favorite movie, The Big Lebowski. I hope you fucking enjoy it. Fuckers.

Blurbs that caught Bush off guard:

Here's a game to play on a sleepy Wednesday afternoon. Write possible blurbs for this book from some of our favorite authors, the kind of blurbs that might evoke that look on the preznit.

For instance:

"The Iraq Study Group puts the boot to the arse of America's limp-dicked foreign policy." - Ray Banks

"Chastened by the liquor, Bush finally grasps the full tragic import of his horrible legacy." - Ken Bruen

"A brutal takedown to the president's usual Texas redneck rodeo." - JD Rhoades

"The body of Bush's old Iraq strategy lays flat on Mullholland, victim of Bush's insistence on driving up the wrong side of the street." - Stephen Blackmoore

There you go.

Slugs from Space!

Yesterday we talked about Reds, the big picture historical romance from 1981. Today let's talk Slither. Unlike Reds, Slither is a rather small budget ($20 mil) horror flick, this one from writer/director James Gunn. He's the screenwriter for Dawn of the Dead, the remake (that's right, it's a remake, and it's even better than George Romero's original), and another one of my zombie faves.

Let me confess, I'm a sucker for zombie movies, from Invasion of the Body Snatchers (not a zombie movie per se, but it has all the elements) to the original Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later and Peter Jackson's blood-soaked, non-Oscar winner, Dead Alive made in 1992. No hobbits were harmed in the making of Dead Alive and that's one of its few drawbacks.

Back to Slither. This is a very funny movie, and if you rent it, and I highly suggest you do, listen to the commentary. Gunn talks about the writing, the structure and the process and all those other things that you can use to convince your wife or husband that you're actually working.

Gunn says that Slither was an homage to the horror movies of the 80's like John Carpenter's The Thing. OK, maybe this is a generational objection, but I saw more of the 50's in this flick than the 80's. There's a scene in Slither that is straight out of The Blob which is both a 50's and an 80's movie, I guess, but then so is The Thing, although Carpenter's Thing was a lot scarier Thing than James Arness' Thing. (Arness later strapped on a gun and walked into frame as Marshall Matt Dillon and never had to do a movie like The Thing again.)

Where was I? Oh right. Eighties horror flicks, either original or remakes, were pretty damn good, and I'm glad people like Gunn are taking another crack at the genre.

Don't get me wrong. Slither isn't Shaun of the Dead or 28 Days Later, but it is definitely worth your time. It's gross, but I guarantee the scene with Brenda about to give birth in the barn will stick with you. Maybe not in a good way.

Tomorrow, a book I finished a while back and haven't had time to recognize it with the plaudits it deserves.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Taco de Muerte

No, this has nothing to do with Britney Spear's public underwear transgressions.

This is about what may be the most unfortunate headline of the week. According to the AP:

E. Coli Threat May Have Passed in N.J.


At least three dozen people were stricken with the bacteria after eating at Taco Bell, as if that's not punishment enough. So, if you've always suspected their food was ordure, apparently you were right.

Tim Jerzyk, a VP flack spending his one shot at life toiling for Taco Bell's parent conglomeration, Yum Brands (imagine that on your resume), told investors that the bad news burrito had come up, but it has now passed.

According to the AP, the E. coli traced to Taco Bell can cause abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea and the jokes just write themselves, don't they? And for those not yet nauseated, let us remind you that E. coli is found in fecal matter. So this really does come from south of the border, doesn't it.

I have always had a personal dislike for Taco Bell. Not for their food, which you couldn't pay me to eat, but for their advertising. E coli isn't the only thing that stinks over at Yum Brands.

Every few weeks, Taco Bell rolls out another lame-ass ad campaign that desperately tries to coin a popular phrase like "Crunch-oo-eezy" or has a complete jackass proclaim "I'm full!" Yeah, you're full all right. And I'm fed up.

About the only campaign they ever produced that was worth a damn was the talking chihuahua and I'm convinced that campaign was only given the green light because the brand manager was out with a head wound.

And apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks Taco Bell ads suck.

So be careful what you put in your mouth, children. Insist on E coli-free food. You'll thank me.

Monday, December 04, 2006

If you direct your attention to the left.

Reds, the big screen 1981 opus, was written produced and directed by Warren Beatty, who also starred and probably catered the film. When I say they don't make 'em like this anymore, I'm not just whistling the Internationale. This is a three hour plus romance that takes in the New York left, the anti-war movement of 1916, WWI, and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia.

Writers, the film's got writers. George Plimpton and Jerzy Kozinsky act like actors and Jack Nicholson acts like Eugene O'Neill.

The film's also got lefties from back in the day. Wrinkled and gray, they still have that spark the government considered dangerous merely because they believed things that made capitalism's sphincter clench. Among the old Socialists interviewed are Henry Miller, Will Durant, Hamilton Fish, Arthur Mayer, and Oleg Karensky.

I hadn't seen this movie since it first came out and I'd forgotten so much it was like I'd never seen it before. This is big Hollywood. As big as the subject. Hell, as big as Warren's ego and that's big. In fact this movie is probably bigger than Hollywood will ever do again. I recently saw the new Bond film and that thing looked like a fucking car commercial compared to this. Because this, my friends, is movie-making. Even on TV the Russian winter made me shiver.

You could do a lot worse things than spend 3 hours and 20 minutes with Reds. Check it out.

Tomorrow, a movie about slugs.

Quote of the day:

Stephen Hadley had this to say about our Commander in Chief yesterday on one of the Sunday morning bobble-head shows:

"The president understands that we need to have a way forward in Iraq that is more successful."

Wow. That's like me saying that "I understand that I need to have a way forward in sobriety that is more successful."

or Bill Clinton saying "I understand that we need to have a way forward in marital fidelity that is more successful."

or George Bush 41 saying "I understand that we need to have a way forward in retroactive birth control that is more successful."

And yes, I understand that we still need a way forward in blogger picture acquisition that is more successful.

I'm blind.

There I was, all set to post something new for Monday and blogger has eliminated the picture option which is enormously irritating. So until blogger rights this problem, I'm going to go work.