Hornswoggle & Flummery

LA Times book critic Eugen Weber is channeling Nero Wolfe in his latest Sunday wrap-up of mysteries. For instance, he has this to say about James Swain’s MR LUCKY :

Master of con, flimflam, hornswoggle and simple cheating, James Swain
has turned out another sparkling hymn to gambler-gulling and its rival
sport: detection.

140006270501_sclzzzzzzz_And he wasn’t too fond of Matthew Carnahan’s  SERPENT GIRL.

[The book] is touted
by Publishers Weekly as a gleefully deranged tale. In fact, it’s toxic
waste: the humorless derangement more apparent than glee…

…Carnahan’s flummery and his frequently fried cast should prove a
knockout among video game fans, especially the 7- to 20-year-olds, at
least those who can read and enjoy his miscellany of rage, alcohol,
drugs, deception, thieving, prurience and pornography.

"Hornswoggle" and "Flummery"? Is this 1940? While it’s nice to see Weber actually venturing an opinion for a change, the real fun is trying to follow  some of his tortured sentences.  Take this one, for example:

That permits Carnahan, a Southern California filmmaker with a weather
eye on the future flick, to in quick takes sketch a foul world of
scamming and smash-and-grab; tweaked-out people using peyote, speed
meth and nitrous oxide; and, of course, lots of graphic sex and
exuberant brutality.

A "weather eye on the future flick?" Do people still stay "flick?"  Groovy.

Gunsmoke: One Man’s Justice

Since I’m wallowing in my TV geekness today (see my earlier post on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA),  here’s a heads-up on another TV revival to watch for…

GunsmokedvdsThe  Western Channel is running GUNSMOKE: ONE MAN’S JUSTICE this week… the final GUNSMOKE revival/sequel movie and, to date, James Arness’ final performance.  It’s the only one of the five GUNSMOKE movies that’s unavailable on video or DVD and the only one I haven’t seen. I’m eagerly looking forward to it… with both Tivos primed to record it (in case there are any screw ups). The  previous GUNSMOKE movies are all terrific and the first three are available seperately, or together in a combo pack, on DVD.

(UPDATE 4-8-05: I justed watched ONE MAN’S JUSTICE and it sucked. On the other hand, RETURN TO DODGE, LAST APACHE,  TO THE LAST MAN, and THE LONG RIDE are good stuff. THE LONG RIDE is also unavailable on DVD)  Gunsmoke2_

And speaking of GUNSMOKE, Joseph West’s latest tie-in novel will be available later this month.

Battlestar Galactica

The season finale of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA was terrific… hands down the best science fiction show on TV in decades…and easily one of the best dramas of any genre on TV this season. It certainly packs more punch per hour than THE WEST WING or LAW AND ORDER have in years.  Watching the show makes me feel like a kid again…it’s one of the few programs I look forward to with fannish glee. It’s also one of the few shows on TV today that’s pure entertainment.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA may also be the first TV remake, on TV or the big screen, that’s far superior to the series that inspired it.  I wasn’t wowed by the initial miniseries, or the first episode or two, but the series got better and better with each episode, ending in a season finale that was exciting, surprising, funny, dramatic and a heck of a lot of fun to watch.

I can’t wait for the new episodes in July…

(PS – How can anybody be clamoring for a loyal remake of the original series after watching this show??)

My Book Haul

As usual on my trips, I came home with a box of books. Here’s what I bought during my journey between L.A. and Santa Fe…

Hardcovers (used):
Dark Trail by Ed Gorman ($2)
Ryan Rides Back by Bill Crider ($2)
Texas Capitol Murders by Bill Crider (signed first edition $7)
Finding Moon by Tony Hillerman (signed first edition $20)
Blackening Song by Aimee & David Thurlo (signed first edition $20)
North of Montana by April Smith (first edition $4)
Ashworth Hall by Anne Perry (signed first edition $9)
Pentecost Alley by Anne Perry (signed first edition $9)

Hardcovers (new):
Sight Hound by Pam Houston (signed)
Rabbitt Factory by Larry Brown (signed)
Ya-Yas in Bloom by Rebecca Wells (signed)

Paperbacks (used)
Wild Wild West #3 by Robert Vaughan
Trailback by Robert Vaughan
The Lawmen by Robert Vaughan
Range Wars by Robert Vaughan
Galveston Gunman by Bill Crider
The Babysitter by Andrew Coburn
Diablo Grant by James Reasoner
Hawthorne Legacy by James Reasoner
Old Boys by Charles McCarry (An ARC)

As you can see, I’m  on a western kick lately.

Foul Language

My sister-in-law Wendy wonders on her blog why  romance writers, and readers, have such a hard time with people using cuss words.

So often, romances have a sanitized vibe to them. As though they have been scrubbed clean for the protection of the reader. Well, you know what? My ‘virgin’ eyes don’t need to be protected from foul words because I can cuss colorfully. My mother says I can make a sailor blush—and she’s been saying that since I was thirteen. I don’t buy into the theory that only the uneducated, who can’t stretch for word choice, pepper their speech with profanity. Everyone
I know, and I mean everyone, in my circle of family and friends went to
college and every single one of them cusses (some more liberally than
others). So why don’t characters in romances reflect this? Why don’t they speak like real people?

It’s not just in romances. You wouldn’t believe how many emails I got when someone said "shit" in the first  DIAGNOSIS MURDER book.  One profanity in the whole book and you’d think I’d spent ten pages describing a scene of bestiality…

Blurbs…the sequel

My friend Gregg Hurwitz talks about what it takes to get him to conside giving a book a blurb.  Number two on his list is that author has actually read Gregg’s stuff.

Nothing says
arrogance like an unpublished writer asking me to read his manuscript
who hasn’t bothered to read one of my books.

Even that won’t guarantee Gregg will give you a kudo.

I don’t care if it’s a social novel or a book of lesbian haiku, the first few pages better sing.

Which explains why he wouldn’t blurb my book of Jewish lesbian haiku ("Mazel Love"). I thought it was because my publisher put Dick Van Dyke’s picture on the cover of that book, too.

Martial Law

My friend Paul Guyot pointed me to Doughy White Guys, where the blogger praises the second season of Martial Law, which Bill Rabkin & I wrote and exec-produced. 

I miss that show with Arsenio Hall and the doughy Asian guy. Doughy Asian guys
rock. People who thought that show was foolish – see the thematic tie-in? –
didn’t get that it was a comic book. The writers were good, they knew what the
show was and more importantly what it wasn’t. Well, not the writers from the
first season. That first year was weak, the show wasn’t sure what it was
supposed to be yet.

It’s nice to know that someone besides my wife and my agent got what we were trying to do…