Sunday, July 30, 2006

TV: My Crowning Achievement

My high school class had a reunion this weekend, one that I didn’t attend. I have work to do, South Florida’s a long way from here, and I still owe people money back there.

Besides, I only found out about the reunion by accident. Realizing that we were due for one I checked online, and found a website devoted to the big shindig. My name is included on the list of those who can’t be found.

Which makes me wonder how hard they looked for me. Type my name into any search engine and you come right here. You’ll discover other Vince Keenans, of course: the Michigan political activist, the California realtor. But a glance at this website would have confirmed to anyone who knew the gangly adolescent me that they were in the right place. “He’s still talking about that subway movie he watched as a kid? That’s our guy.”

In the unlikely event that any Dunedin High classmates paging through our yearbook (When The Best Was Yet To Come!) wonders what became of me and found their way here, I say: I don’t have your money. I’m happy and healthy. I’m married but you don’t know her, and that’s your loss. And I am, in my own small way, in the movie business. Just like I said I’d be.

Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, I can also offer you a look at my almost finest hour. Or half hour. Actually, twenty-four minutes. Some kind soul has posted every episode of the IFC game show Ultimate Film Fanatic, including the one on which I rocked the mic. It originally aired in January 2005. Now my humiliation will live forever.

Part one features introductions and trivia. From my stance and cadence, it should be clear that my role model when it comes to public speaking is Rod Serling. Note the badass look I throw at the camera at the end of my intro.

Part two is the debate round. For the record, while I am a proud Kevin Costner fan I wouldn’t say I love him. We exaggerate on TV.

Part three is obsession items. It includes the coolest moment of my life, courtesy of genuine badass Henry Rollins.

And that’s only the first of what will be many TV appearances, baby. Because for me, the best really is yet to come. Go Falcons.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Books: A Damn Bloodbath of a Slideshow

Bill Crider has posted not one, but two slideshows of men’s adventure novel covers. And the best part is it’s all my fault.

The gang’s all here: Striker, Stryker, Ryker, your Liquidators and your Expeditors. Amazing how many one man vendettas against the Mafia there were in them days. If those guys had only pooled their resources, they could have shut down the Syndicate overnight. Or started their own, whichever.

Miscellaneous: Donuts To You

I try to keep the local stuff to a minimum around here. But BoingBoing already linked to this Ethicurean survey of Seattle’s donuts, making it a story of global impact.

Top Pot gets my vote, hands down. I’m in there every weekend. I’ve gone entire Saturdays on nothing more than one of their apple fritters.

Mighty-O’s donuts are vegan. They’re also among the foulest concoctions on this earth. After the last one I tried, I had to brush my teeth to get the taste out of my mouth. Stop trying to convince me that your unholy confections are delicious, vegans. Poppa’s not buying it.

As for Krispy Kreme, come on. I bought one of their donuts in the St. Louis airport once. Nothing I can buy in the St. Louis airport merits consideration.

Miscellaneous: Link

Matt at links to this New York Observer article on YouTube culture. Like Matt, I find myself spending what should be productive hours tracking down every obscure relic from my childhood that pops into my head. The sad thing is how many of them I find.

Take Army of Lovers’ video for ‘Crucified.’ Saw it once and never forgot it. It stayed with me because of, well, the woman, for starters. (Apparently she’s a political activist in Sweden now. Good for her.) And because it works so hard to be transgressive that it quickly becomes ridiculous. I’ll warn you, though: the song is surprisingly catchy.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Movie: Lady in the Water (2006)

Trying to keep the movie and the book about the movie separate is a fool’s errand. They’ve become fused, a single multimedia art project.

And in strange ways. Michael Bamberger’s book contributed mightily to the film’s poisonous buzz. But only those who have read it will be willing to give M. Night Shyamalan the benefit of the doubt. Or figure out what’s going on.

According to Bamberger, MNS places great stock in the subtext of his films. As far as I can tell, that boils down to: everything happens for a reason. As I believe the exact opposite, I may not be in his target demographic. Call it a philosophical difference.

Belief is what Lady in the Water is all about. It’s Shyamalan creating an entire original mythology as a way of decrying the lack of magic in modern life.

Lady’s opening minutes hint at what MNS is after. A plainspoken narration laying out his world, accompanied by simple animation. A mundane environment charged with possibility, thanks in large part to cinematography by Hong Kong wild man Christopher Doyle.

Then MNS introduces his mythology, which seems both half-baked and overdeveloped. At times Lady plays like a quasi-remake of the Albert Brooks misfire The Muse. Both deal with writers inspired by otherworldly women. And both feature characters who either disregard or misinterpret the rules governing those other worlds. Which makes for lousy drama. Why should I care if a made-up character flouts made-up regulations that I don’t know? A movie about belief shouldn’t be based on an act of bad faith.

The top-flight cast keeps the movie watchable. Paul Giamatti is everything you’d want in a hero. The supporting players don’t have much to do, but as they’re the likes of Bill Irwin, Jeffrey Wright and Tovah Feldshuh, you don’t mind so much.

As for MNS’s acting – he has a sizeable role as the writer whose work will eventually transform the world – when the guy writing your hagiography makes repeated references to your “bug’s-life eyes” and “nasal voice,” it may be time to stay behind the camera.

(Aside: My favorite section of Bamberger’s book recounts a scene between Giamatti and actor/comedian Jim Gaffigan. The scene is in the movie, but Gaffigan’s role was recast. I want answers.)

I didn’t believe in the world Shyamalan created. But after reading about his struggle to bring it to life, I was willing to believe in the possibility of it. This time around, that’ll have to be enough.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Book: The Man Who Heard Voices, by Michael Bamberger (2006)

Bamberger clearly ended up with more than he bargained for when writer/director M. Night Shyamalan gave him complete access during the making of Lady in the Water. The resulting book has generated an avalanche of publicity, much of it negative and focusing on Shyamalan’s break-up with Disney, the studio that had nurtured him. Today’s L.A. Times weighs in with yet another piece that coins a new phrase.

Shyamalanfreude, n., Hollywood’s desire to see its latest golden boy go down in flames.

Which is part of the problem. Feelings about MNS’s behavior are so intense that critics tend to review him instead of the book. I’m going to try to keep the two separate.

I didn’t care for Bamberger’s book. I also think it’s essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the movie business. In spite of its flaws, which are legion.

I almost didn’t make it past the opening paragraph, in which Bamberger gasses on about how he likes but doesn’t love movies and still isn’t sure if Ingmar Bergman is a man or a woman. Anyone who quotes dialogue from Mrs. Doubtfire need not worry about being mistaken for a cineaste. The title’s conceit – that MNS is guided by intense internal conversations – falls flat. The book reads like a magazine piece stretched out over two hundred pages.

The biggest problem is that Bamberger buys completely into the MNS myth: the filmmaker as visionary amongst Philistines, alone in fighting for his vision. Bamberger never delves into what that vision is, and pays scant attention to the far more interesting and equally valid proposition that MNS is simply a different kind of businessman building a different kind of brand – one who may be using Bamberger’s efforts as part of his campaign.

To his credit, Bamberger acknowledges his lack of objectivity, admitting his admiration of Shyamalan in the closing pages. And having no knowledge of filmmaking helps when recounting Lady in the Water’s production, in that Bamberger is willing to look to the crew for drama. In fact, that section of the book is quite compelling, providing a detailed look at the massive effort required to make what’s seen as a mid-size studio movie.

Now I have to talk about Shyamalan. There’s simply no avoiding it.

Yes, his attempts to build a cult of personality can verge on self-indulgence. But as someone who bemoans the confusion of exhibitionism with showmanship, I found myself applauding his flair for the dramatic. Yes, he does have grandiose expectations. But I have always maintained that in order to accomplish anything of value in this life, you have to make demands of yourself and others. You have to be a bit of a jerk. That was even true of Mother Teresa, according to Christopher Hitchens. And Hitchens is a bit of a jerk in his own right.

Some in Hollywood blame MNS’s “self-imposed cocoon” in Philadelphia for his woes, saying he’s cut off from the world. As if living in West L.A. isn’t a different kind of isolation. To me, MNS’s true talent is for living his life, deftly balancing artistic aspirations with duties as husband and father.

Shyamalan obviously loves actors, works like a demon, and was open to the warts-and-all experience of having his world documented. I ended up liking the guy. I may not have liked the book about him, but I devoured it in a single sitting. And it worked in this regard: it took a movie that I planned on skipping and made it a must-see. More on that to come.

Monday, July 24, 2006

TV: Miss Universe 2006 Pageant

My streak continues. Whenever I watch a beauty pageant, the contestant I choose is destined to be crowned first runner-up. Without fail I’m drawn to the women who are unconventionally attractive, who have a little too much spark and personality, and as such are fated to play second fiddle to living Barbie dolls.

Like Miss Japan, Kurara Chibana. She speaks five languages and cited among her interests “French cinematography.” So naturally she only becomes Miss Universe if the winner cannot fulfill her duties. Although if this keeps up, she might wear that tiara yet.

She may only have been first in my heart, but she did claim another prize: best national costume.

I find that honor too limiting. I think it’s the best costume of any kind, ever. I can’t believe I missed the Parade of Nations and didn’t get to see it live. It’s like something out of a pinky violence epic like Sex & Fury. (Many thanks to Tony Kay for introducing me to this genre and that one-of-a-kind movie. Like I don’t have enough problems.) Any woman who wears this outfit on international television deserves some kind of award, as well as a kick-ass movie all her own.

Miscellaneous: Link

Slate’s Seth Stevenson gets to the bottom of the most annoying – and therefore most effective – TV commercial I’ve seen in eons. Apply directly to the forehead!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Update: Shame-Faced Podcast

... hot ... so hot ...

I know I’m in no position to complain. But we don’t get many ninety-degree days in the Pacific Northwest, and we’re having our third in a row.

To beat the heat, I’ve been hitting the movies and sitting in dark saloons. The bartenders at my favorite Seattle watering hole did me the great service of introducing me to the caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil. It’s liquid carnivale. Get one of those in you and you won’t care if the mercury breaches triple digits.

It’s too hot to blog, but fear not. I won’t abandon you in your hour of need. Episode four of the Shame-Faced podcast (25 minutes, 9MB) is now available for your listening pleasure. In this installment, Rosemarie and I finally get around to watching two classics of le cinema de la belle France, The 400 Blows and The Rules of the Game.

Direct download it here or get it at iTunes, and cool off while listening to our hot air.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Jack Warden, RIP

The late character actor was one of those performers who got the job done with a minimum of fuss. In a long career, he tended to play those types as well. I always loved seeing him in action.

He had been an army paratrooper and a professional boxer before turning to acting. In the movies, he benefited from solid working relationships with Warren Beatty, receiving Oscar nods for Shampoo and Heaven Can Wait, and with Sidney Lumet. Their collaboration spanned almost four decades, beginning with 12 Angry Men. By coincidence, one of their best films together, The Verdict, was on TV tonight. I was lucky enough to catch a few minutes.

Warden appeared often on the small screen, winning an Emmy for Brian’s Song and – a childhood favorite – stepping in for Walter Matthau in the series version of The Bad News Bears.

But tonight, I choose to remember Warden’s performance as twin feuding automobile dealers in the great crass comedy Used Cars. I leave you with these wise words from Warden:

I’ll tell you something, this country is going to the dogs. You know, it used to be when you bought a politician, that son of a bitch stayed bought.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Miscellaneous: Links

Evil Dead: The Musical is coming. And you thought I was only joking about Ed Wood yesterday. I’ve got the libretto half-finished. Lugosi’s big number is gonna bring tears to your eyes.

Over at Mystery*File, Steve Lewis reprints an article by Steve Holland summing up the pros and cons of the late Mickey Spillane in convenient trial transcript form.

And from the Toronto Star via Arts & Letters Daily, a look at the death of the double entendre in advertising. I, for one, have always held that sophisticated smut makes the world a better place.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

TV: I Know What I Watched This Summer

You can have your new fall season. For some reason I watch more TV in the summer. And not just baseball. HBO has Entourage and Deadwood. (How can Gerald McRaney can be so terrifying on the latter? We’re talking about Major Dad here. And he played Simon or Simon, I can’t remember which.) I’m also giving Stephen King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes a try, along with:

Brotherhood. The best new series in a while. It’s The Wire by way of Dennis Lehane, inspired by Boston’s Bulger boys. Two brothers – one an ambitious state representative, the other a criminal who resurfaces after a seven year absence – each try to build power while staying out of the other’s way.

The scenes depicting old-school ethnic politics are as engrossing as the gangland material. It’s about damn time we Irish Catholics got our own crime drama; after all, we carry guilt and grudges better than anyone else. The show has a great look – Philip Noyce helmed the pilot – aided by on-location shooting in Providence, Rhode Island, which has its own colorful history of hijinks in high office.

Hustle. AMC has been showing this UK import for a while. I’m only a recent convert. Each week a group of ridiculously appealing con artists separates a rich fool from his money. It’s tremendous fun: the scams have been depicted as silent movies and lavish production numbers. The loose, cool vibe makes a nice change of pace when everything else on TV is either a serial or a procedural.

Next week I’ll be adding another show to the roster, when BBC America starts showing Life on Mars.

Miscellaneous: Depp Notes

The upcoming season at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre includes the new musicals Cry-Baby and Edward Scissorhands, both based on Johnny Depp movies. I’m holding out for Ed Wood myself.

Miscellaneous: More Memories of the Mick

Among the best tributes to the late Mickey Spillane: Ed Gorman and, at Sarah Weinman’s indispensable site, Max Allan Collins, who offers both a literary and a personal perspective.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Mickey Spillane, R.I.P.

The creator of Mike Hammer has died at the age of 88. It’s sad to think that an entire generation best knows him from those “tastes great, less filling” beer commercials he did a few years back. The man should be remembered for the ending of I, The Jury alone. In terms of pure effectiveness, it’s among the greatest ever written in any genre and in any language.

Spillane didn’t rank among my favorite novelists, but he knew how to get the job done. His books – in style, content, and politics – are very much products of the Cold War. Some might even say relics. Coincidentally, a recent topic on the hardboiled list Rara Avis was whether Spillane’s work has stood the test of the time. I think the fact that the question was asked gives you the answer.

Besides, he inspired Kiss Me Deadly and starred as his own creation in The Girl Hunters. The latter’s not much of a movie, but still. What a legacy.

Miscellaneous: Link

Via GreenCine Daily, check out The Amazing Screw-On Head, a new animated Sci-Fi series from Hellboy creator Mike Mignola starring Paul Giamatti.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Book: For The Dogs, by Kevin Wignall (2004)

Once upon a time, in the barely remembered days before the Internet, you only knew a writer through that writer’s books. Then came websites and e-newsletters, which allowed you to feel as if you had ongoing relationships with authors.

Now, thanks to technology’s ability to put various carts ahead of assorted horses, it’s possible to become a regular visitor to an author’s blog while never having read any of said author’s books. At least it’s possible for me to do that. I’m sure the rest of you have your priorities in order.

Kevin Wignall is a contributor to the group blog Contemporary Nomad. It offers smart takes on a range of subjects, with a nicely international perspective. I stop by there so often I figured it was high time I read one of Wignall’s thrillers. I wasn’t disappointed in For The Dogs.

Ella Hatto’s summer trip to Italy is rudely interrupted by an attempt on her life. She’s saved by Lucas, a retired assassin who reluctantly signed on as Ella’s secret bodyguard as a favor to her father. When her family is killed, Ella realizes that Lucas is the only person who can help her understand the world she’s now in – and the desire for vengeance that threatens to overwhelm her. The problem is that assisting Ella means Lucas will have to plunge back into a violent life he thought he had left behind.

For The Dogs is lean, brutal, surprisingly emotional. Wignall writes in a spare style that bears comparison to Georges Simenon, one of my favorites. I intend to read Wignall’s other books. In the meantime, there’s always his blog.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Miscellaneous: Links

I’m swamped. Multiple projects, various deadlines, and thanks to the steroids I’m irritable, I’m getting bacne – LOOK IT UP! – and odd things are happening, you know, down there.

So you get links. You’ll take ‘em and like ‘em.

First, a piece on Jack Larson and Noel Neill, who played Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane on the Superman TV series, and their return to the screen in, well, Superman Returns. I love that Larson, who still looks boyish at age 74, ended up a worldly sophisticate.

Via BoingBoing and Paul Herzberg, a great article in Prospect on the history of Communist joke-telling.

GreenCine Daily adds a smart primer on the political thriller. It not only sings the praises of Spartan, long a favorite around Chez K, it also speaks highly of the black comic thriller Wrong Is Right, based on a novel by the estimable Charles McCarry. I watched this movie repeatedly when I was in high school, and have long been convinced that I was the only person who remembered it. Always nice to learn that one is not alone.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Music: Duper Sessions, by Sondre Lerche & The Faces Down Quartet (2006)

Ed Gorman – who’s now blogging again at Mystery*File, which is good news for everyone – once memorably described John D. McDonald’s character Travis McGee as “a Rotarian’s idea of a cool guy.”

I did something the other day that has me well on my way to becoming the same thing. I bought a record that I first heard at Starbucks.

Yes, I go there to work occasionally. But I always buy a drink and I never stretch my laptop cord across heavily-trafficked areas. That’s only because I don’t own a laptop, but still. I deserve some credit.

So I’m sitting there trying to work, which in this case means reading the sports pages, when a new tune starts on the stereo. A beat later I realize it’s familiar. It’s a cover of “Human Hands,” one of my favorite Elvis Costello songs. Which makes it one of my favorite songs. Delivered here by a coolly ethereal voice backed up by some dandy stride piano.

Sondre Lerche is a whelp of a Norwegian singer who toured with EC last year. Duper Sessions is his winning album of jazz-inflected pop, including standards (“Night and Day”) and solid originals (“Everyone’s Rooting For You,” “Minor Details”). It’s now a part of my regular soundtrack, the Starbucks connection be damned.

As for the Rotarians, don’t sell them short. They’re up to something.

Books: Scudder, Who? Scudder, Hey!

Last night Lawrence Block was on Craig Ferguson’s show to promote Hit Parade, his new Keller novel. Craig, a huge Block fan, asked about the Matt Scudder books. Block said that after the 16th title in the series, last year’s All The Flowers Are Dying, “I can’t imagine writing another one.”

I’m going to need a minute here.

I say without a trace of exaggeration that the Scudder novels are one of the key influences in my life. As a writer, as a New Yorker, as a man, they’ve taught me a great deal.

When I read Flowers, it felt like the end of the line. And who can blame Block for wanting to bring the series to a close on his terms? Better that than to leave the character in limbo.

Of course, if he were to write another one, I’d read it at once.

Sports: Baseball Recap

At the All-Star Break, not only do the New York Mets have the best record in the National League, they also have the widest lead – 12 games! – of any division leader. As for my adopted hometown Mariners, they’re only two-and-a-half games back. They’re also under .500, which shows you how soft the AL West is this year. Still, I should be able to root for my teams deep into September for once.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Book: The Liquidator: The Exchange, by R. L. Brent (1978)

Forgive me if I sound like Casey Kasem, but this one goes out to Bill Crider.

When the Internet yielded a blank on this series, I asked Bill if knew anything about it. As usual, he was a font of information. He ended by saying that he owned a few of the titles but had never read any, so I could review one and save him the trouble. Always happy to be of service.

The backstory: Jake Brand is an ex-Miami cop waging a one man war against the Syndicate. He holds the Mob responsible for the deaths of his father and brother. The Mob, in turn, framed him for murder. Now he’s out and off the grid, picking off Mafia figures one by one.

In this fifth book, Jake is approached by the future Attorney General. The Mob is holding his estranged daughter hostage and will kill her if he doesn’t drop a pending case. If Brand can find the girl, the AG will give him amnesty and a new identity. Assuming that Brand wants either.

My review: Meh. It’s a solidly written book, but no great shakes. It’s also dated. A pimp has to get “his foxes” ready, and a porn kingpin is described as looking “as pretty as Robert Goulet.” Not the first name that comes to mind, although he did cut a sharp figure during his guest appearances on Alice.

Because this post now makes me the Web’s foremost authority on Liquidator books, I include a copy of the cover. Apparently, the Liquidator is a cross between a young Albert Finney and Robert Fuller from Emergency! I’m pretty sure the pimp is Humpty Hump from Digital Underground. Love that “Perils of Pauline” look on the girl’s face.

Miscellaneous: Hasselhoff His Rocker

Lee Goldberg made me watch the Hoff’s ‘Secret Agent Man’ video. While you’re at it, check out his take on ‘Hooked on a Feeling.’ Why should I suffer alone?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Update: Mystery*File

The latest installment of my column ‘In The Frame’ is now up at Steve Lewis’ Mystery*File. It features a review of the Shane Black movie Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, now on DVD, as well as the 1941 Mike Shayne novel on which it’s partially based. Plus a detailed report on two movies presented by Eddie Muller and the Film Noir Foundation at the Seattle International Film Festival. Go, see, you’ll like.

Update: Shame-Faced

At the spin-off blog, Rosemarie corrects an oversight by reading that all-time desert island favorite, Robinson Crusoe. Go, see, you’ll like.

Miscellaneous: Where Is The Outrage?

A few weeks ago there were numerous news stories about an Arizona restaurant called Pink Taco, the point being that the phrase is, um, a slang term, for, uh ... why don’t I just let this Daily Show clip via Wonkette explain everything?

Yesterday I’m reading about spas for men and other places where you can get primped and still feel like a tough guy. The name of one such establishment? Major League Trim. And not a word raised in protest. I’m ashamed of all of you.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Miscellaneous: Grab Bag

Of course Daddy still loves you. He’s just been busy, that’s all. Herewith, quick takes on a bunch of stuff.

The Devil Wears Prada. Man does not live on the hardboiled alone. Sometimes the missus picks the movies.

Besides, I was genuinely interested in this one. We kept encountering the film crew on our last trip to New York, so we knew that it would look good. And Meryl Streep has somehow unearthed whole new reserves of joy in performing. Watching her now is like watching the late-career Brando, both of them utterly at ease and yet fiercely committed, relishing their craft enough to toss it off. Only with Meryl there’s no sense of squandered opportunity. Just the opposite.

Prada is a fun movie, smartly put-together. Some experts are complaining that it’s inaccurate, saying that wardrobe choices in the real fashion world are a lot more boring. When the choices are inaccurate or boring, I know where I’m putting my money.

We ran into Rosie O’Donnell after the movie ended. I mention it only because celebrities are scarce in these parts. Rosemarie dared me to ask her about Star Jones. I punked out.

The World Cup. Here’s why soccer will never catch on in the U.S. When a baseball game goes to extra innings, I have to watch to the bitter end. When two soccer teams play to a scoreless draw, I turn it off before overtime starts and say to hell with both sides. If neither of you wants it enough, I want my ninety minutes back.

Oh, and vive la France!

The Emmys. The Academy loosens the rules to encourage new blood and gets 1999’s nominees in return.

At least The Office and The Colbert Report fared well. The most pleasant surprise is Craig Ferguson’s nod for hosting The Late Late Show. He’s a rare talent often overlooked in the late-night derby. His nomination is also official proof that the 12:30 shows are now better than the big names at 11:30.

Hollywoodland. I like Ben Affleck and don’t care who knows it. And I think he’s well-cast as George Reeves in this upcoming film about the mysterious death of the Superman actor.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Miscellaneous: Halfway Home

It’s something of an annual tradition around July 4th for me to recap the best of what I’ve seen and read in the year so far. But it’s taken me all weekend to gear up for it.

That’s because I feel like I’ve been slacking off in 2006. Particularly in terms of movies. Believe me, I know how odd that sounds to a normal person. But I’ve skipped a lot of films, large and small, that I would have seen in years past. I’ll split the difference and name four movies that have stayed with me:

Lady Vengeance
A Prairie Home Companion
The Proposition

Apparently, there are now Rocky-Horror style sing-along screenings of A Prairie Home Companion. Still none for The Proposition, though. Love those Australian folk anthems.

Special mention must be made of Rialto Pictures’ new prints of The Fallen Idol and Classe Tous Risques, both still in circulation. I’d thrown AMC’s Broken Trail if it hadn’t been made for TV.

My reading habits have also been skewed these past six months. I can unreservedly recommend one 2006 title, Paul Malmont’s The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril.

Skewed toward what, you may ask? Lots of research reading, but also the classics. You know, for Shame-Faced. What’s Shame-Faced? Why not stop by and find out?

Website Update: Links

Hey, I have a links page! Where three more fine blogs have been added to an already sterling roster:

Tribe’s Blog, from the impresario behind Flashing in the Gutters. For the next few days, he’ll also have all your World Cup bases covered. (And yes, I am well aware that metaphor mixes two sports.)

Secret Dead Blog, home of Philadelphia crime writer Duane Swierczynski.

Faust Fatale. Because there are certain subjects – novelizing Snakes on a Plane, attending fetish dinners, being fitted for corsets – that Christa Faust covers a little bit better than I do.

All good people. Check ‘em out – and some of the others, while you’re at it.