Showing posts from 2013

The Super Hero Craze, Part I

I see a lot people complaining about all the superhero movies, sequels, and remakes. I understand the griping, I really do.  However, I wouldn’t expect any of these to end anytime soon. Look, there are some things you need to realize. Once you do, we will all be better off. Yes, our creative landscape is shifting. Access to new technology and the shitty economy—unless you’re a millionaire, in which case the economy is awesome—has impacted the way we consume. Our buying, viewing, listening, and reading habits are all different now. But that landscape is still overseen by large corporations. Now, corporations need to grow their profits to survive. That’s how capitalism works. When that growth is threatened—like it has been with our altered spending habits, corporations will do everything they can to maintain the profits they’re used to, with as little effort and risk as possible. So we get more superhero movies, more sequels, and more remakes because corporations alre

The Drifter Detective

The Drifter Detective is a brilliant start to a promising new series. Jack Laramie, the eponymous hero, is the grandson of Edward Grainger’s already established western protagonist, US Marshal Cash Laramie. The premise of a WWII vet driving around Texas looking for PI cases while living out of the horse trailer he keeps hitched to his DeSoto just begs to be turned into a television show, and this first entry would make a fantastic pilot thanks to the expert pacing and the lurid shades of Jim Thompson’s hardboiled psychosexual dramas. A lot of writers now try to lay claim to some sort of pulp writer title but few of them understand or deserve it like Garnett Elliott. Elliot, quite simply, writes everything well, steadily producing engaging work in a variety of genres. His fiction is always superbly crafted in terms of prose, plot, and pacing. T he Drifter Detective is certainly no exception. Honestly, the only flaw in this sharp 7,000 word masterwork is its brevity. Elliot has

Tobacco-Stained Sky Review

There’s a nice review of The Tobacco-Stained Sky just posted here:

A Stevens Update

I’ve gotten a few messages, so here’s a pic to show that work does continue on my Shane Stevens biography. It’s simply that right now, nothing is going according to schedule.

Awful Moment of Awareness

Methotrexate Your spouse is ill. A couple of weeks after she’s been on serious meds that keep her nauseous and on an old person’s sleep schedule, there’s this moment. It comes around 8:15 or so when you look over and see that she’s asleep already, again. That’s when you realize that you feel a little lonely and maybe being able to finally watch that crime film or the first season of the British horror series or that depressing sci-fi film from the 70s  isn’t as much fun as you thought it would be, and you feel a little bad for all those days you wished she’d leave you alone for a night so you could do whatever the hell you wanted to do. That’s when you’re really struck with some eye-opening perspective on why you should be present and fully engaged in the moment. The hard part, I think, the part I have trouble with, is to be present and engaged with every moment, because that awful moment of awareness, that moment of loneliness, is just as important.

Pugs Don't Chew

Killer, The Pug Last Saturday, I was in the kitchen doing the dishes. The lovely wife was on the couch, trying to deal with her nausea from an upped methotrexate dose, and our pug was chewing a bone. I finished the first sinkful and had started scrubbing the pans when my wife called my name and yelled that the dog was choking. I came in expecting him to just barf it up and figured I’d snatch the soggy bit away before he tried to eat it, again. This happens all the time--he’s a pug and they don’t like to chew. After a couple of seconds watching him hunkered over, trying to cough it out, and his slinking around the carpet getting faster and more frantic, it quickly became obvious that that wasn't going to happen. It was stuck. I grabbed the phone so the wife could call the vet. By then, the dog had really started gasping and hacking, his tongue was changing colors, and ropes of foamy slaver came out of the sides of his mouth. Not knowing what else to do, I grabbe

Blood on the Milky Way

Ever since I saw Mad Max on Channel 4 when I was in elementary school, I’ve had a weakness for the post-apocalyptic genre. I remember, it aired on a Friday, so my mother actually let me stay up late and watch the whole thing. Even edited for television and badly-dubbed, after that first chase scene, I was hooked on the series and the genre (I’m even looking forward to Mad Max 4: Fury Road  with Tom Hardy). I suppose, then, it’s rather fitting that my first published post-apocalyptic story should take place in Australia. Set in the world of Andrez Bergen’s Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat , “Blood on the Milky Way” is about the illegal milk trade in Melbourne, the last city on earth. Think Robert Mitchum’s Thunder Road meets Mad Max , only the souped-up automobile is loaded down with milk instead of whiskey. It was a story that was a lot of fun to write and I think it’ll be a lot of fun for you to read. If the premise of my story interests you at all, I really hope you’ll c

Blade of Dishonor

Then You are 12 years old. It’s your dad’s weekend. He buys a large meat pizza and a six pack of root beer, the kind that comes in those bottles that make it look like real beer. You convince him to rent a VHS tape from the grocery store. He lets you pick and you chose a direct-to-video Golan-Globus ninja flick. It’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen. Before your father returns it, you watch it 32 ½ times: reading the credits, memorizing dialogue, and mastering when to hit pause for the best look at the hot redhead. On Monday, after your mom’s new boyfriend drops you off at school, you tell all your buddies about it: a samurai sword in the hero’s uncle’s  pawnshop leads to an international showdown with ninjas and yakuza (you explain that’s the Japanese Mafia and your friends nod in awe) and they must have used real ninjas because no one could fake that stuff. You leave off the part about how someday you want to marry that redhead. Now You are in your

The Anarchist Has Left The Building

On Saturday, July 27, 2013, after I finished proofing the print copy of Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats , I sent the small list of corrections to Brian Roe. I was floored the next day when I got on Facebook and saw that Mick Farren was dead. He had been performing at the Borderline Club in London the day before, as part of the Atomic Sunshine Festival, when he collapsed on stage. I don’t really know what to say, except that he was one of my idols, he was a fellow Gene Vincent fan, he was kind enough to write the introduction to my anthology, and I think of him as my friend. I'm glad he died on stage with his boots on, but most of all I'm glad he didn't die in America —far worse than being a country that had come to frighten him, we are a country he couldn't afford to die in. Give The Anarchist A Cigarette: Counterculture Legend Mick Farren Dies With His Boots On Ultimate Classic Rock: Mick Farren Dies Do Gooders Suck The Quietus Interview The Soci

The Same Little Tune

A passage from Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, Volume #1: Say You Want A Revolution , has been stuck in my head for the last couple of days: "Your head’s like mine, like all our heads; big enough to contain every god and devil there ever was. Big enough to hold the weight of the oceans and the turning of the stars.   Whole universes fit in there!     But what do we chose to keep in this miraculous little cabinet? Little broken things, sad trinkets that we play with over and over.   The world turns our key and we play the same little tune again and again and we think that tune’s all we are."

A Secret Passion For Mercy

“There are certain families whose members should all live in different towns— different states, if possible—and write each other letters once a year.” The Blue Hammer , Ross MacDonald Yesterday on the way home from yet another doctor’s appointment for the lovely wife, WTTS played Warren Zevon’s “Poor Poor Pitiful Me.” For a moment, it hit me kind of hard because it’s one of those songs and lately, in the midst of so much turmoil, I’ve been terrible at being present—my thoughts sometimes get away from me to twist and turn down strange and emotional paths. But it was only for a moment. After that moment, I felt a lot better. Why? Because  Zevon's song led my thoughts to Ross MacDonald. “The Archer novels are about various kinds of brokenness.” —Ross MacDonald When the series began with The Moving Target in 1949, Lew Archer is a typical hardboiled hero investigating the usual hardboiled crimes that involve money and blackmail, then lead to the usual murder, another

On This Day

I’ve always much preferred Dashiell Hammett over Raymond Chandler. The preference comes down to a lot of different things and not just that I think Hammett was the better writer. There's a fundamental difference between the two that I think James Ellroy explained best: “Chandler wrote the man he wanted to be—gallant and with a lively satirist's wit. Hammett wrote the man he feared he might be—tenuous and skeptical in all human dealings, corruptible and addicted to violent intrigue.” But today is another reminder of why Hammett remains firmly on my list of literary heroes. On this day in 1951, Dashiell Hammett was sentenced to contempt of court for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee. The 57-year-old writer served his time in the West Virginia Federal Penitentiary, where he was assigned the job of cleaning toilets. Years later, according to Lillian Hellman, when questioned about it, Hammett replied, "I don't know why. I gu

What's Your Anger Mean? Anything?

When word broke that a project called Above the Game: A Guide to Getting Awesome with Women , a seduction guide with advice that constitutes harassment and rape, was about to pull in over $16,000 ($14,000 over its fundraising goal) the internet erupted into righteous fury. I don’t know about you but all my social media was full of outrage. Almost as soon as they heard about it, people condemned it on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. People were writing blogpost after blogpost. Kickstarter panicked and their panic lead to inaction.  After Ken Hoinsky got his $16K, Kickstarter issued an apology, banned seduction guides, and donated $25,000 to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). * Now RAINN has started a campaign of their own...on Indiegogo. So the question now is: IS YOUR OUTRAGE WORTH MORE THAN A LIKE AND A RANTY BLOGPOST? *Should be noted too that Kickstarter will be able to write their donation off their taxes.*

Referral Contest

Okay, not much time left on the Hoods campaign. So here’s the deal-- REFERRAL CONTEST: As long as you're logged in with your Indiegogo account, the campaign page gives YOU a specific link that I can track back to YOU. Or, if you don't have an Indiegogo account, when you make a donation, for as little as a dollar, then the site gives YOU a special link that I can track back to YOU. So, start sharing. Once the campaign is over, then I'll take a look at the dashboard. Whoever draws the most people to the campaign, will get a signed copy of the book. If you've already ordered a copy, then I'll send you the poster; if you're already getting the poster, then I'll send you one of the pin-ups. If you're one of the two people in for the whole thing, then I'll come up with something else cool. Campaign Site

Couple of Things

Sabrina Ogden was kind enough to let me ramble about my story in Feeding Kate. You can check that out right here , if you haven’t already. ______________________________________ Photograph by:  JR Madrasto. The campaign for Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats is still cruising along. You can visit it and donate here , and check out my short interview by Paul Brazill here .

Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats Campaign

The Indiegogo campaign for Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcat s is live ! Pay it a visit for no other reason than to assuage your curiousity about what my voice sounds like. The Skinny Hoods ,  Hot Rods, And Hellcats  is an anthology of original crime fiction set in Postwar America, the era that gave birth to our consumer driven culture. For the emergent superpower, a good consumer was a patriot. Dollars bought "happiness" and undermined the diabolical Red menace. Even more than that, a good consumer was a homogenized suburbanite—making Draper's job cake. However, for the men and women changed by the war, accepting the lockstep didn’t come easy—if at all. If you throw in the "teen-ager" and a bunch of hillbillies singing rock'n'roll, you've got trouble... "...the world of Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats is a dirty cocktail of fact, fable, fears, and fantasies. The 1950s are recreated one more time but here it's with a savage, razor


My parents. Friday night when I got home from work, my Mom called. I answered the phone and she told me that my dad had been in the hospital with double-pneumonia since Wednesday. Once admitted, the doctors also determined that he has congestive heart failure and had to perform surgery to place a stint. They also confirmed what we already knew--that he was in the first stages of Alzheimer's. We talked for a moment. She said he was okay right now, and the reason she didn’t call was she didn’t want to worry me in the middle of the work week when she knew how much I had on my plate already. I mumbled something or other. Mom said she was tired and going to bed. I hung up and walked back into the living room. The lovely wife asked me what was the matter. I asked for a minute, focused on nothing, and then took a deep breath. I repeated what my mother had told me. I saw Maria’s face, could tell that she was starting to get upset and struggling to keep it down even as she aske

Sweet The Small Stuff

When people learn you’re a writer, they always assume that you have perfect grammar and expert spelling skills. I think I’m okay with both but wouldn’t use the words perfect or expert to refer to either. I have too many hang-ups and weird mental blocks. For example, let's take the words sweet and sweat. Easy to mix up when you’re typing and the words are coming quick. They’re up there with a word like, well, their. It’s why you learn not to trust spellcheck. However, for me, sweet and sweat are guaranteed to be used incorrectly in the first draft, and probably somewhere in the second too. I don’t know why. If nothing else I should just be able to memorize which is which, but I can’t. I mean, okay, so sweat means to perspire and sweet means pleasing or sugary tasting. Now, how do you spell what you do with food? E-A-T. You see where I’m going with this, right? Since my mind can’t get past that, sweet and sweat are on now on my revision checklist.  Though yo

Once More Against The Tyranny Of My Thoughts



I haven’t been reading as much as I used to. My time is devoured by an increasingly busy day job, the lovely wife’s health issues, and making time to write. What’s left usually goes to either sleep or brain shut-down in front of the television set. When I have sat down to read, my patience is thin. Doorstop thrillers or fantasy novels are a no-go. A writer has a short window to grab me with something before I put down the book. Assuming the writer can pull that off, next comes the true test: can my attention be caught again after several days, maybe even a week between readings? When I came across Burial at the library booksale, I was excited. The plot sounded engaging: “Everyone makes mistakes. But what if your biggest mistake was something you could never live down? Something so awful and despicable that it weighs daily on your soul? Nathan has never been able to forget the worst night of his life.  Only he and an old acquaintance know what really happened and they hav