Saturday, February 28, 2009

Around The Web

If there's one expression that makes me wince, whether I hear it in the movies or on TV, or whether I see it in print? "The word on the street."

Now, I've heard people say "I've heard that," or "I heard around the way," or "people have been telling me," but I've never, I repeat never, heard anyone in real life say, "the word on the street is." Well, Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein found out just what the word on the street actually was.

Hey, Christoper Grant not only runs a wonderful crime fiction site, he can pen a good word or two.

Why ask Abby? Don't ask Alice, either, because the Door Mouse was full of it anyway and the stuff they have to feed your head nowadays? You will wind up making Gary Busey look coherent in comparison. Ask Sinjin instead, for a refreshing answer to your most vexing problems.

There are rumors that I haven't had time to personally verify, but I understand that Katie Schwartz is back and if you know my blogs, I loves me some Katie. She's my best, best online friend ever.

Last, but certainly not least is The Missus, who has her own jewelry blog. Go ahead, take a peek.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Quoth The Twain

People have co-opted this quote or quite possibly, have come to the exact same conclusion on their own. Yet Samuel Clemens apparently is the originator-

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.”

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Coming Attractions: "A Sheep In Wolf's Clothing"

She leans forward and Lamont pulls his zipper down, but the smile on his face vanishes like that of a lap dancer when a trick runs out of bills, because she points a .45 right at his crotch. His pallor turns from tanning machine rustic brown to pale goth.

“Whoa, whoa, there’s no need to take it like that! I thought someone sent you as a present. I didn’t mean anything untoward.”

“Move back slowly and don’t get any ideas about kicking me,” Delia says firmly, “unless you want to find out just how fast I can put all eleven bullets into you.”

Lamont notices how steady her gun hand is and he’s worried. If there is something that he’s learned through all the years of having various businesses in both the marginal parts of town and shady dealings in the good parts of town, a shaky gun hand is bad because that means they might shoot you accidentally, and a steady hand usually means that they have no problems shooting you.

"A Sheep In Wolf's Clothing" is now up at your home for hardboiled crime fiction on the Internet, "Crooked Magazine!"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscars '09

“I frosted my Nixon?” Hugh Jackman, yer creepin’ me out.

Then you almost redeem yourself with the Meryl Streep steroids reference. Seriously, Hugh, you did a great job considering the crappy quasi-musical skit you had to work with, but it didn’t measure up to that of John Stewart's into…or even Steve Martin’s. To the members of The Academy Board, I ask that even in these trying financial times, just give Billy Crystal whatever money he wants, in order to get him to host again.

And while you’re at it, members of The Academy Board? Please drug test your voters? Penelope Cruz is a great actress, but this was clearly everyone getting back at Marisa Tomei for her “My Cousin Vinnie” victory. On the Best Supporting Actress tip, is it me or is Avril...

...Starting to look more and more like Amy Adams?

Well, they gave away the screenwriting awards earlier this time, instead of right before Best Actor. So I might be bailing out of commenting early, since I really have little vested image in watching the Oscars after that...yet my blogging will go on.

Why did the Academy chose to put “Best Animated Film” before “Best Animated Short Film?” That’s kind of anti-climatic and it is indicative of this year’s Awards...flat.

Ben Stiller, the lost Phoenix Brother, nicely upstaged the Best Cinematographer presentation.

Hugh Jackman: The musical is back!
Cormac Brown: Yes, Hughie, it’s a floundering turtle on its back and the vultures are about to feast.

Beyonce cannot save the ADD musical medley, when Hugh can’t hold his pitch with half of the tunes. How the fuck are you going to mix “Maria” with “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina?” Stick with one song for more than four seconds, goddamn it!

Cormac Brown (as Christoper Walken, to Christopher Walken): What is with What

Heath won, as I predicted he would to The Missus, seconds before it happened. A bittersweet moment.

So, the thing is that I’ve been blogging about the Oscars for four years now, if you include this one, and I had more fun last year, than this one.

Of course, the best Oscar year of this century is when Marty was finally vindicated.

Then, The Missus still hasn’t really forgiven me for the first year.

Brilliant that, using The Hives “Tick-Tick-Tick-Boom,” for the action collage and finally, the Oscars have rocked!

The Kid is not happy that “Benjamin Button” beat “Iron Man” for Best Visual Special Effects,” and I imagine there are plenty of other twelve year-olds indignant over this travesty.

To give you an idea of how bored I am with this year’s Oscars, I’ve spent most of the telecast reading about the NFL Combine, instead.

Yeah, Danny Boyle won!

This experiment with having previous winners present and fluff the new acting nominees, strikes me as awkward as hell for all of the people involved and damn it, who left Sophia Loren in the tanning booth overnight?! Anyway, it strikes me as awkward as hell for all the parties involved, especially when they have to gush, and you can see that the nominees have a bad case of nerves, and this just adds to it all.

Odd that they should show just a glimpse of the Adrian Brody acceptance, because that’s exactly what they need this year…a little spontaneity and somebody kissing someone unawares. I’d like to sacrifice myself on behalf of the Academy, by volunteering to kiss Cate Blanchett.

That was a wonderful speech by DeNiro on behalf of Sean Penn. “Richard Jenkins?” I’ve never heard of him, and I saw him in “Burn After Reading.” That just goes to show how difficult it is to be an exceptional character actor, you blend in all too well.

The Kid: Dang, “Slumdog Millionaire” is winning everything.

No truer words were spoken young man.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blogiversary Time!

I figuratively slept through my last blogiversary, so this year I have made it point to look it up beforehand and to have a post ready. Yet rather than me writing a brand new post, here is a link to beginning- enjoy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Coming Attractions: "The Price of Perfection"

No, most guys would miss her the first time they looked around a room full of women, but to me? She’s perfect. I’m falling for her and that’s what’s eating me…I’ve only fallen for one other woman before like this and that’s how this poor gal got sucked into this situation.

The first time I saw Ella was nine months ago, New Year’s Eve. Here we are, in a new decade, and I’ll be damned if anybody wants to put The Depression behind us more than me. I was working a case that night at The Beverly Hills Hotel and Ella was there working for Laird Thompson, a rival detective and one of the cheapest bastards to ever walk the Earth. I should know. I started out working for him back in ’32 and I’ve since passed him by in business like I was a Ford Flat 8 and he was a Model T with four square wheels.

Every once in awhile he would try to poach or sabotage my business, and this looked to be one of those situations. I noticed Ella, not because of her strong resemblance to the woman that had just left me in a lurch, but because she was doing a bang-up job keeping Laird at bay. The man pitched woo like he ran his agency…dirty, shameless, unorganized, and all over the place.

Ella got tired of his gorilla antics and she flung a glass of champagne in his face. Laird reeled back like he was going to slap her, and she grabbed a pitcher of water from the bar and poured it on him. He stormed off and she made for the exit. I waited a moment, and then I went after her.

I didn’t want the man I was originally tailing to see me and he would have, as she had the attention of everyone in the room.

I called after her, “I hate to see what you do to people that are actually thirsty.”

She froze in her tracks and wheeled around with anger. “Are you a friend of that octopus?”

“No, I’m not as smart as you; it took me two whole years of working for that schmuck to get wise.”

“Well, when he comes back, tell him I quit!”

She wheeled off and I froze her feet again with, “Well, he and I aren’t exactly on speaking terms. Besides, you were probably here because you were supposed to distract me.”

She came up to me, gave me the once-over, tilted her head and said, “Come again?”

-From the story "The Price of Perfection" in Astonishing Adventures Magazine Issue #5, now available on or

Monday, February 16, 2009

Your New Word Of The Day? "Tranche De Vie"

Your new word of the day? "Tranche de vie."

It means "slice of life" in French, as in the genre which I have the hardest time writing about.

Well, next to romance, of course. Because I know how to rip those bodices off, I just can't do the required five page foreplay that has to come before that.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Twist of Noir Has "Tit-For-Tat" Up

Let me just say that out of all the things that I have written, this the piece of work that I am the most proud of. Not to mention it is rare for any author to be happy with each and every line, or each and every word. With "Tit-For-Tat," I couldn't love any of my stories more than this one.

With echoes of Hammett and Chandler, I tried to capture pulp in all its Black Mask glory. I don't know if I succeeded in doing that, but I am still extremely happy with the results. Charles Grant was nice enough to reprint a story that first appeared in the premiere issue of Astonishing Adventures Magazine, so ladies and gentlemen, I give you "Tit-For Tat."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"All Time Low"

(Opening paragraph by Stephen Blackmoore)

Lowenstein’s caught his pecker in his zipper again. Too drunk by half and he has to be at work in four hours. He tugs, winces, and pulls it free. Wipes the spot of blood off on his shirttail, stuffs everything back inside and flushes the urinal. Beads of sweat have broken out on his forehead and he washes his face in the sink. The buzzing fluorescents give his face a green cast. Or maybe it's all the tequila. He's really not sure.


Lowenstein wakes up drunk.

A three-minute piss.

A shave.

A shower and one whole pot of coffee later, he drives into work. The traffic is hell and the fact that he can’t pass a breathalyzer test doesn’t help. Compounding the hellish commute is his aching dick, which feels like it is infected.

In all of this confusion, the only certainty is why he is on thin ice at work. He started drinking to forget his troubles, but whenever he sobered up his troubles were still there, larger than ever. So it got so Lowenstein couldn’t be content with the hair of the dog in the morning, and he had to have the whole damn kennel…which meant using up his sick days.

Lowenstein staggers in, and several awkward moments pass by before he realizes from the uncomfortable look on the receptionist’s face that he has been staring at just how her blouse accentuates her chest.

“Uh, Mr. Jenkins wants to see you right away, Mr. Lowenstein,” she says, as they both look away from each other in embarrassment.

Lowenstein sees how his fellow employees are staring at him. He thinks it is because they believe he is a dead man walking, on his way to the gas chamber. They are actually staring at him like that because he wouldn’t need any makeup at all to star in a zombie film.

Mr. Jenkins is usually cheerful but right now he looks as grim as a pit bull with indigestion. He beckons Lowenstein into his office and hands him several pamphlets.

“Lowenstein? I don’t care if you think you don’t need help or that you really don’t want any help. You’re getting help or you’re not working here anymore,” growls Mr. Jenkins.

“You…you’re one to talk!” Lowenstein growls back. Even through his booze-filled haze, he has seen his boss at many of the same bars he goes to. And while there might’ve been only club soda in his boss’s glass, Mr. Jenkins always has a different woman at his side.

“Don’t try to change the subject!...ahem. Look, I have plenty of…compulsions of my own, but I don’t let them interfere with my work. You’re too good of a worker and your performance has fallen too far for me to pretend that everything is okay with you. Just look those places over carefully and tell me which one you’re going to.”

Mr. Jenkins dismisses him with a wave, and reluctantly, Lowenstein leaves. As he goes through the door, a man bumps into Lowenstein. Before he can demand an apology, the man has a gun out and it’s pointed at Mr. Jenkins.

The man throws Mr. Jenkins’s work badge on his desk and yells, “I found this in my girlfriend’s bed this morning, so that means you’re the bastard that’s been screwing around with!”

The gunman chambers a round, and before he can pull the trigger, Lowenstein says, “look over here!”

Lowenstein unzips and looks down; the cuckold does, too. Lowenstein unfurls his scabbed and mangled pride. The miniature gnarled Franken-pecker causes the gunman to involuntarily heave and swallow; he has to struggle not to vomit. As the gun goes limp in his hand, Lowenstein clicks the safety on and takes it out of the gunman’s hand.

Lowenstein pistol-whips the gunman once and he staggers. He hits him again and the gunman slumps down in a heap, out cold. He hands the gun to Mr. Jenkins and motions for him to keep it trained on the unconscious cuckold.

“There. Careful now, the safety is off and if he gets up? Aim for his torso. I’ll see you later.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’m taking the rest of the day off.”

“Aren’t you going to wait for the police?”

“I have more important things to do. First, I’m going to the doctor’s before my only friend in the world here falls off. Second, if I have to go into rehab? I’m going on a bender that is worthy of forcing me into sobriety.”

Note: Aldo, Gerald and Patti dealt out another flash fiction challenge-

1) Sign up to play by January 13th.
2) Write the first paragraph of a story and send it to Patti. She will stir the pot and send it back out to another writer.
4) Write a 750 (or so) word story using it.
5) Post it on your own blog or with Mystery Dawg at Powder Burn Flash on February 10th.
6) I'll let you know whose lines you used when it's over.

Monday, February 9, 2009

"B*tch" Is Up At Crimewav!

Aldo was nice enough to have chosen, recorded and posted my story "Bitch" from Powder Burh Flash, up at Crimewav. What does it sound like? I have no idea, I'm stuck with a pterodactyl in a box, or "dial-up" to those of you who have never seen an episode of "The Flintstones."

Please, up on over, click, listen, and then pretend that I am giving me a report. Ya hear?

P.S. Princess Ladybug says, "in the upper right hand corner is a box that says "CrimePlayer - Click to Open." When you click on it a pop-up window comes up. Click on episode 26."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Peanut Oil"

"Peanut Oil" originally appeared in the original Powder Burn Flash, this version has revised in error in the ninth paragraph and this was nobody's fault but mine, Robert Plant.

It’s hot. Almost “ Death Valley kills the pioneers” hot. Which is no easy feat, considering that this is October in usually foggy San Francisco. But the Northern Californian version of Chandler ’s Santa Ana winds, the Diablo, is seeing to that, making everything as arid as the Sahara.

Kelly Boles has it in his head to take a week off…unpaid. Fuck the mounting pile of bills on the stand by the door; he feels a novel running through his head like a dam about to burst. Kelly though he would he would try “kickwriting” like Kerouac did with “On The Road,” minus the rolls of tracing paper taped together and the Benzedrine.

Nothing doing.

He over-caffeinated himself and as a result, every single thing is a distraction: the wailing cries of his computer’s overworked fan, his dying piece-of-shit refrigerator, his growling stomach, and the ambient noise of his neighbors that is bouncing off the heat and into his open windows.

The couple next door is particularly vexing, as they argue about how to prepare a dish.

“It’s not Szechwan beef if you cook it vegetable oil! You have to use peanut oil!”

“Then why don’t you go buy some fucking peanut oil, already?”

“I will!...uh, can you lend me some money?”

The neighbor's girlfriend cannot believe that she tolerates this tool. She’s beautiful and she can cook? That idiot should be kissing the very ground that she walks on. Women like that might become extinct within his lifetime.

Kelly’s stomach is grumbling, so he drinks a glass of water to shut it up. He looks across the street and sees “Szechwan Beef” dash into the corner store. Kelly thinks about the wonderful aromas from next door that are to come and his stomach grumbles again. He gulps down another glass of water.

As he puts the glass in the sink, he notices a balding man in a trench coat dashing into the store. Who the hell wears a trench coat in this kind of weather? A flasher? The guy has to be a flasher, because porn theaters don’t exist anymore.

“Open the register now!”

“Jesus, that guy had a shotgun under that trench coat” whispers Kelly. The store’s owner reaches under the counter and oh shit, watch out Szechwan Beef! He didn’t see or hear “Trench Coat” and he panics, dropping the bottle of peanut oil and startling everyone.

The store’s owner brings his pistol up and “Trench Coat” pulls the trigger. Good God, the roar is deafening as the heat ricochets the sound all over the neighborhood. The store’s windows are peppered with blood, gore and holes. The store’s owner is nowhere to be seen. Trench Coat turns toward Szechwan Beef, but he already fled during the first shot.

Trench Coat pumps a shell into the chamber and takes a step. He slips, he disappears, a foot comes up, and there’s a muffled boom.

Kelly looks left and right, but there seems to be nobody in the store. He gets his phone and dials 911. He grabs a chair and stands up. Kelly can barely see Trench Coat’s feet twitching in the window and he sees what he guesses are teeth or bits of bone, right by the front door. It’s hard to tell from this distance.

As the 911 operator puts him on hold before he can say anything, Kelly shakes his head. Not because of the operator, but because this would’ve made a great story. Unfortunately, Kelly feels that just like stickups, crime fiction doesn’t pay enough.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Return of Sam Spade

You're saying to yourself, "did I read that post title right?" Yes you did, though we're actually talking about a prequel to "The Maltese Falcon," and this one is written by Joe Gores (with no undiscovered notes or any "new" contribution from Hammett, other than his original story).

This novel is called "Spade & Archer" and it is set in 1921, 1925, and 1928. We Sam turn into the hardened hard boiled detective that he became and we find out where he barely shed a tear when Miles Archer took that final tumble down Burritt Alley (yes, "Burritt," not "Burrito").
I am over the moon, because I believe if anyone on Earth can write a satisfactory story about Sam Spade using Hammett's style, Joe Gores can. Of course I'm using his excellent book "Cases" as a sample of what he is capable of, as well as Wim Wenders' film "Hammett," where Joe Gores tied together a fictional Dashiell Hammett on a case that would inspire Sam (Hammett) to write all of his stories.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


How do you feel today?

Are you feeling a little down?

Do you feel lethargic?

Do you feel detached?

Do you need a little "pick me up?"

The protagonist in my story at Powder Burn Flash feels "Vibrant."

You should try "Vibrant," too!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Now, That Is An Avatar...

...or not. I think it is.
At any rate, this is my Crimespace avatar and yes, it is a real working camera.
P.S. I was lead astray by the original link, it is a Vietnam-era camera and not a WWII-era camera.