Tuesday, February 12, 2008

WGA Strike: Hello, Grindstone

The strike is over. My pencil is up. Also, I’m ready to go back to work.

When official word came, I symbolically cut the strike bracelet that’s been on my wrist since November. I have plenty left; they were cheaper by the gross so I gave them away to friends and colleagues. Maybe I’ll sell the rest on eBay.

Book: Gas City, by Loren D. Estleman (2008)

The latest by Estleman is, simply put, a thing of beauty. A big rollicking story anchored by perfectly scaled details. The long-serving chief of police in a fading Midwestern metropolis decides after his wife’s death to upend the genial system of corruption in which he has been a more than willing participant. Gas City gives us a cross-section of urban life – mobsters, politicians, press barons, clergymen, even a disgraced cop turned part-time pimp – and has them jockey for position against the backdrop of a hunt for a serial killer.

Estleman is as good a stylist as we have in any genre, and his dialogue is sharp enough to make me laugh out loud. It’s only February, but here’s one of the year’s best.

R.I.P., Roy Scheider

Not too long ago, I watched Scheider in 1986’s 52 Pick-Up for the first time. And was reminded again of why I’d always been a fan. Scheider was an easy but alert presence on screen, always thinking, never phony.

For some reason that 52 Pick-Up piece attracted a lot of attention, and became the most-read post in this website’s history. It even turned up in a newspaper’s online tribute to Scheider. That makes me happy. What would make me happier would be a DVD release of Last Embrace, featuring a Scheider performance that deserves to be remembered alongside his work in The French Connection, Jaws, Sorcerer, and All That Jazz.