Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Advances

Ed here: I've been selling novels for going on thirty years. When I started out I was told by numerous writers that the good old days were gone. If only we'd been able to see how good those "bad" days of the late Seventies, Eighties and Nineties were. Work everywhere and relatively decent advances especially if you tried to make your novels richer and deeper. Here's a letter from Michael Stackpole, science fiction/fantasy writer, about advances today. He's responding to an article about dwindling advances. One surprise for me is that Stackpole considers himself mid-list. I think of him as a best-seller.

Michael Stackpole:

I read the article and, while I agree with Ray that I'd like to see the methodology used, things tally with my own experience and with things I've been told by other authors.

I may be naive, but I've seen domestic advances drop by 66% for original work—this coming while my original work is still being reprinted (or was, at the time of the last offer :) ). For tie-in work the prices offered to me have remained steady. Low, but steady, and the difference between them and mainstream contracts has shrunk significantly.

I may be fooling myself, but I put the reduction down to two factors.

1) With overall sales trending down, publishers have no way to value a contract for a trilogy over its life—a life which they have to project out over 3-5 years. They can't guarantee they'll make money offering a decent advance to a mid-list author like myself.

2) Concomitantly, since the advance they'd offer me for a novel would buy a dozen first novels, and one or two of them might hit, they spread the risk around.

Of course, investing in a known quantity and doubling down on that investment with promotion would seem to be a prudent strategy. When you're extremely risk adverse and in what you see as a hostile environment, the wisdom of this approach is discounted.

This puts me in the curious position, then, of taking more work for less pay, but work which has targeted and dedicated audiences. That raises my profile and exposes me to new readers, who then look for more books, and get to tag my digital backlist. The digital backlist subsidizes both the tie-in work, and gives me the time to generate digital original work.

Lordy, what a weird business we're in.

Mike
.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Will the e book bubble burst?

Ed here: That very good writer Harry Shannon found this article in the Guardian UK and linked to it. You've heard of the housing bubble? Will there be an e book bubble? This is long but well worth reading.


The self-epublishing bubble
In August 2011, Ewan Morrison published an article entitled Are Books Dead and Can Authors Survive?. Here, he tracks the self-

Ewan Morrison
guardian.co.uk, Monday 30 January 2012 06.08 EST


Unlikely to last very long ... a bubble rises. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters
The internet is full of ironies. I, for one, could never have guessed that writing about the end of books would generate more income for me than actually publishing the damn things. I've been on an End of Books reading tour since August and it turns out that what the internet gurus say about consumers being more willing to pay for events, speeches and gigs, rather than buying cultural objects, is now becoming true.

At the other end of the political spectrum from me, among the epublishing enthusiasts and digital fundamentalists, similar ironies are playing out: there is now a boom industry in "How to get rich writing ebooks" manuals, as well as a multitude of blogs offering tips and services, and a new breed of specialists who'll charge you anything from $37 to $149 to get your ebook into shape.

This all seems like a repeat of the boom in get-rich-quick manuals and "specialists" that appeared around blogs and etrading. Did anyone actually get rich from writing blogs, you may ask? Well, according to Jaron Lanier (author of You are not a Gadget) there are only a handful of people in the world who can prove that they make a living from blogging: it's entirely possible that more money was made by those who wrote and sold the how-to manuals than by the bloggers themselves. But who cares, right? It's all part of the euphoria of digital change, and technological innovation is as unstoppable a force as fate. Reports show that paper book sales are "tanking" – down a massive 54.3% while ebook sales are up triumphantly by 138%. The revolution will be epublished, and we're all going to be part of it.

All of this ebook talk is becoming a business in itself. Money is being made out of thin air in this strange new speculative meta-practice: there are seminars, conferences and courses springing up everywhere, even at the Society of Authors (a writers' union which, until recently, was largely against epublication). Television and radio programmes are being made about self-epublishing (I've personally been asked to speak about it on 12 occasions since August). Everyone can be a writer now: it only takes 10 minutes to upload your own ebook, and according to the New York Times "81% of people feel they have a book in them ... And should write it"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/30/self-e-publishing-bubble-ewan-morrison?fb=optOut

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sam McCain E BOOKS!!!

http://www.amazon.com/Original-Sam-McCain-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B006UXVFV4/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1327858866&sr=1-5


From The Seattle-Post Intelligencer Blog Critic

Perhaps no other author today has done so much to keep alive the “Pulp Fiction” genre than Ed Gorman. Not only as an award winning author ( Spur Award for Best Short Fiction, "The Face" in 1992. His fiction collection Cages was nominated for the 1995 Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection. His collection The Dark Fantastic was nominated for the same award in 2001. He has also been an archivist, historian and commentator. He has written in the fields of terror/horror, speculative fiction, western and of course hardboiled/crime fiction.

His Sam McCain novels are perhaps my favorites…but I have not only a soft spot for crime fiction but also a nostalgic bent for the ‘50s. McCain embodies all the traits we love of the hardboiled detective; he’s smart, quick with a quip, educated, but struggling for a buck, honest and honorable (at least to his own personal code), he’s personally brave, almost chivalrous, and like a bull dog at unraveling a mystery.

But, he is also dichotomous in that he is a little guy at just over five and a half feet,and, thus, not one to quickly get in a fight. He was never a cop or a soldier, doesn’t “really” hate authority, has dinner at least once a week with mom and dad, loves rock and roll, not jazz, isn’t a big drinker. Instead of that ‘30s – ‘40s fedora wearing, zoot suited PI, driving a Model ‘A’ or some other piece of Detroit iron with running boards, McCain loves ‘50s hotrods. McCain is a recent law school grad who gets his PI license to make ends meet and broaden his prospects.

Also, to break the mold of most pulp/hardboiled crime fiction, his mysteries don’t take place in a large city (L.A., Chicago, N.Y. or their fictionally renamed likenesses). Instead, the stories take place, mainly, in a small Iowa town where McCain grew up. And to further break the mold, the crimes McCain ends up investigating aren’t stolen pearls or bank robberies, or the theft of historical artifacts. They are crimes to take the sheen off of the nostalgia shown in the popular media for the ‘50s. This isn’t Happy Days. This isn’t American Graffiti. This is not the ‘50s of Ozzie & Harriet and Father Knows Best.
Instead, Gorman takes for his themes the real crimes of the fifties. Gorman writes about the social ills of the decade, some of which are still with us today. Racial inequality and bigotry, male chauvinism and the lack of women’s rights, union busting, red baiting and McCarthyism and the large parts of the country that were still in the grips of poverty.

Yes, boys and girls, our country had bigger problems than Elvis getting drafted, the Edsel, and getting a date for the sock hop on Saturday night.

Here’s Gorman’s words: “Part of the reason I started writing the Sam McCain novels was because I was sick of hearing about how wonderful the decade of the Fifties was. …. By then even the Republicans knew better. If you were white, Christian, middle-class, straight and white collar the decade was probably more decent to you than not. But given the racism, sexism, Communist witch hunts, union-busting and large pockets of poverty, not even Ozzie’s dopey smile could make the excluded Happy.”

Now don’t get the idea these stories are sermons. They aren’t. They just deal with ‘the real picture’ of the decade that is often painted as the American Ideal. The books, while remaining great mysteries and giving a long over do update to the genre, are humorous and Sam’s dialogue is as sharp an cynical as Phillip Marlowe’s. The mysteries are as puzzling as anything in the genre, the characters are very real and very true to their time and place, and he manages to expose social ills as well as Dashiell Hammett. In short, Ed Gorman is one of the gems in these fictional fields.

In this edition, Genius Book Publishing has made available the first two Sam McCain Novels in one Special Kindle Edition.
The first novel is titled, The Day The Music Died, and is set against the backdrop of the tragic plane crash in Iowa that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper. The story opens with McCain and his high school sweat heart,Pamela Forrest, leaving The Surf Ballroom, having just witnessed Holly’s last show. They get in McCain’s ‘51 Ford convertible with the custom skirts, louvered hood and special weave top. With that description, Gorman take’s the genre out of the jazz age and into the world of rock and roll.

On the trip home to Black River Falls through the same snow storm that would kill the legends, McCain and Pamela argue over the radio station, she wants to listen to Perry Como, and McCain loves Buddy Holly. Pamela is also in love with someone else, but McCain will carry his flame for her through the snow storm and through the series, just like he has since the 4th grade.
The next morning about 5 a.m McCain gets woken up by his employer, Judge Esme Anne Whitney, a wealth scion of the small town. Her nephew is hold up on his estate, drunk and threatening suicide. McCain is to keep it quiet since the local Chief of Police is the new money in the town and the enemy socially and politically of the judge. When McCain arrives and makes his way inside, he discovers that Kenny’s wife is dead, shot, and Kenny admits to shooting her, then promptly kills himself.

Before putting the gun to his head, Kenny admits to the murder. He tells McCain that Susan was running around on him and wanted a divorce, he got drunk and must have shot her. But after Kenny kills himself, the story and the evidence don’t add up for McCain even though the local chief, the “hillbilly’ Sykes, wants to gloat over a Whitney being a wife murderer and a suicide.
McCain starts to investigate and along the way to solving the mystery he uncovers the prevalent racist attitudes of the town, tries to discover an unsafe abortionist who just may be involved, a cultish artistic couple and their “open marriage” all the while pursuing Pamela while being pursued by a girl who has loved him just as long as he has loved Pamela.

The plot is beautiful, and introduces the reader to McCain, an honest voice of the ‘50s and one of the smartest and most likable PIs you’ll ever meet. Gorman’s writing style will trap you, even if you don’t want to be trapped. The Day The Music Died is both dark poetry and a great, engrossing read.

The second book included in this bundle is Wake Up Little Susie, and is really a prequel, taking place 2 years earlier, in 1957 on the day that Ford Introduced its new "revolutionary" Edsel automobile. When the district attorneys wife is found in the trunk of a new Edsel in the local car lot, McCain follows the clues to uncover the real killer while the local police try to discourage him, and aim to ‘hang’ the obvious suspect which will feed their political needs as well as their cruelty and small mindedness.
If you are familiar with Gorman then you’ll want to get these two books in eBook form, and if you haven’t read him before, then this is the perfect opportunity to dive into one of the best crime writers working today.

The Original Sam McCain Mysteries
Ed Gorman

Buy New

Saturday, January 28, 2012

CINEMA RETRO ISSUE #22 NOW SHIPPING WORLDWIDE! ...



Ed here:n ANOTHER AMAZING ISSUE PACKED FULL WITH SEVERAL MAJOR ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS!

CINEMA RETRO ISSUE #22 NOW SHIPPING WORLDWIDE! ...
Celebrating Films of the 1960s & 1970s
CINEMA RETRO ISSUE #22 NOW SHIPPING WORLDWIDE! CINERAMA CELEBRATION ISSUE!
Cinema Retro enters its eighth great year with issue #22, now shipping worldwide. All subscribers will be receiving their copies shortly.

If you have not renewed your subscription, please do so today! We cannot hold copies in reserve for you, so don't miss out on a single great issue during 2012. Click here to subscribe instantly through our Ebay affiliate store or click here for other methods of subscribing.

Highlights of issue #22 include special features that celebrate the 60th anniversary of Cinerama:

Sir Christopher Frayling provides a major 10 page article on the making of MGM's Cinerama blockbuster How the West Was Won, featuring deleted scenes and a wealth of rarely seen photographs.
Howard Hughes pays tribute to Jack Cardiff's 1968 gut-busting adventure Dark of the Sun (aka The Mercenaries) starring Rod Taylor
Dave Worrall blows the lid off the 1969 Cinerama epic Krakatoa, East of Java and takes us behind the scenes for the Cinerama family classic The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.
Thomas Hauerslev takes us back to those wonderful Cinerama travelogues This is Cinerama, Seven Wonders of the World and traces the history of the format.
Lee Pfeiffer reviews a plethora of spy movies on DVD including The Man From U.N.C.L.E. feature films
Adrian Smith interviews actress Anneke Wills, star of the mod London cult classic The Pleasure Girls and pays tribute to Jane Asher in Jerzy Skolimowsky's Deep End
Raymond Benson looks at the best films of 1981
Gareth Owen revisits the filming of The Great Gatsby at Pinewood Studios
Plus the latest DVD, soundtrack and film book reviews

David Milch’s “Luck” hits the HBO trifecta



Ed here: I'm really looking forward to this.


David Milch’s “Luck” hits the HBO trifecta
Dustin Hoffman stars in the next great series from the creator of "Deadwood" and "John From Cincinnati"
BY ROGER CATLIN

Dennis Farina and Dustin Hoffman in "Luck" (Credit: HBO)

TOPICS:TELEVISION, HBO, DAVID MILCH, EDITOR'S PICKS
HBO has always been a good place for the literary-minded David Milch, the brainy former Yale lecturer. (Of course, the networks weren’t bad either; Milch created “NYPD Blue” while still working on “Hill Street Blues.”)

Milch conceived the richly detailed retooled western “Deadwood,” with characters spouting the prosaic and profane. If “Deadwood” ultimately didn’t have an ending, Milch’s next project, “John From Cincinnati,” almost didn’t have a beginning; the spiritual metaphor set in the underbelly of the surfing world lasted just a season.

With “Luck,” which begins Sunday on HBO, he’s got a better shot at longevity, while still creating groups of scruffy underdogs in seedy motels and grandiose, malevolent businessmen all buzzing around the same goal. In “Deadwood,” it was gold; in “John,” spiritual enlightenment. In “Luck,” it’s the hard-won riches and redemption captured through the majesty of horse racing.

Creating these various worlds means creating their own language and jargon, something Milch is especially adept at doing (or perhaps he’s so subsumed in the world of the track after his own years hanging out there, it’s second nature). All of these terms and vocal shorthand can be off-putting to audiences at first – especially when they’re mostly mumbled by the characters.

for the rest go here: http://www.salon.com/2012/01/28/david_milchs_luck_hits_the_hbo_trifecta/

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thought for the day

“I haven't laughed so much over anything since the hogs ate my kid brother.”
― Dashiell Hammett

Thursday, January 26, 2012

6 Movies That Better Be Damned Good in 2012


The Amazing Spider-Man

From The Wrap 6 Movies That Better Be Damned Good in 2012

Here are six movies that have the studios and the participants crossing their fingers with particular fervor. The stakes are high for the filmmakers and the talent.

The Amazing Spider-Man
Lincoln
The Hunger Games
The Hobbit
Men In Black 3
John Carter
Dark Shadows

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Forgotten Books: A House In Naples by Peter Rabe


Forgotten Books: A House In Naples by Peter Rabe

Whenever I read Peter Rabe at his best--or hell, even when he's mediocore--I realize how bogus a lot of hardboiled fiction is. Raymond Chandler likely learned about crime from the pulps and B-movies. As did many pulp writers.

Today we tart things up in a way previous hardboiled writers didn't and that gives it a semblance of reality anyway. Or we parody it and that makes us feel superior to it. Nothing wrong with these approaches, either. They're entertaining, amusing, fun.

Maybe it was because Rabe approached his writing as mainstream instead of genre. While he honors the tropes set down by W.R. Burnett and his imitators Rabe's crime novels are idiosyncratic, sometimes to a fault. In a few books he wanders, gets lost, and it's always because he wants to tell us something fascinating but not germane to the story. I actually enjoy his side trips but they do damage a couple of his books.

A House in Naples is about two people who are pretty much despicable, deserters at the end of the big war who run a black market operation. They aren't much better morally than Graham Greene's Harry Lime. Charley and Joe they are, friends in greed. They are living in Naples and living well. But Charley doesn't have his papers and could get extradited. Uncle Sam is not looking favorably on deserters these days.

As the book opens Charley is wounded and recognized for who and what he is. He ends stealing the papers from a dying drunk and then ends up dragging the body into the Tiber to cover his tracks. But by this time his wound has taken his toll. He is barely concious when he looks up and sees a beautiful girl staring down at him from the bridge above. He falls in love. Rabe gives this unlikely moment an ethereal power that few others could have pulled off. You buy it.

The book is a fast, sure read and the ending is a shocker. But the characters and Rabe's observations on post-war Europe are the source of the book's rich bleakness. The bleakness is very much like the realist filmmakers who appeared in Italy right after the war.

Rabe uses The Girl to contrast Charley and Joe. In some respects she's almost a religious figure, a woman who can evoke good or evil in everyone she meets. She evokes what's in you already.

For some reason A House in Naples isn't mentioned as often as Rabe's other most successful novels. But its harsh poetry and exciting action will keep it in memory long after you're done with it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blues In The Night by Dick Lochte



If I wrote a column called Thriller of The Month my choice for January would definitely be Dick Lochte's slick, sleek, knockout novel Blues In The Night.

An ex-con named David "Mace" Mason decides to help out mobster Paulie LaCotta. This means going back to LA for Mace and putting up with Paulie's quirky ways as well. But in this case Paulie isn't just quirky, he's deceitful and Mace soon learns that he's involved in a violent confrontation with mysterious forces without knowing why.

Since this is a Dick Lochte novel the story is told in a sardonic voice that enriches the cast of very real people, people being one of Lochte's specialties. Another speciality is Lochte's ability to turn wheels within wheels until you have no idea who's really do what. What makes this especially intriguing and memorable is the tour of modern-day LA Lochte gives us in his pursuit of the truth. '

I was going to start listing some of my favorite scenes but I stopped counting after fifteen. Perfectly realized, perfect paced sequences that set up even more twists and turns. Such as the eerie and startling one where Mace does or doesn't see a mutant dog. Straight out of a horror novel.

Dick Lochte has long been one of my favorite writers and this time out he's delivered a five star thrillerthat will stay with you for a long time after you close the covers.

Oh--and Mace is winning protagonist--tough but smart, knowing but not cynical. He could do with another book.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Man With A Camera


Ed here: I watched an episode of this last night because I had fond memories of it. Always a dicey undertaking. But it held up pretty well. Bronson broke the mold as far as TV detectives went. He wasn't all shiny and neat.

From Wikipedia: Man with a Camera is a 1950s television crime drama starring Charles Bronson.

Throughout the 1950s, Charles Bronson spent most of his early acting career in TV-shows as well as small parts in films, until he landed the lead in the ABC series The Man with a Camera.

In the series Bronson portrayed Mike Kovac, a former World War II combat photographer freelancing in New York City, who specialized in getting the photographs that other lensmen could not. He usually assisted newspapers, insurance companies, the police and private individuals, all of whom wanted a filmed record of an event.
By often acting as a private eye, Kovac gets himself into plenty of troubles involving criminals of every kind, helping with cases the police could not handle.

Besides an array of cameras for normal use, for surreptitious work Kovac employed cameras hidden in a radio, cigarette lighter and even his necktie. He also had a phone in his car, and a portable darkroom in the trunk where he could develop his negatives on the spot.

Kovac's police liaison was Lieutenant Donovan (James Flavin), though he frequently came for advice from Anton Kovac (Ludwig Stössel), his immigrant father.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Oh my God no!! It's Sharktopus!!!!!!



From TCM Movie Morlocks

Monsters Among Us!
Posted by Richard Harland Smith on January 20, 2012


This week, two screenwriter friends of mine were retained to write monster movies for a new production company called The Monster Machine. David Rosiak and Matthew Chernov have already written the made-for-TV chompalooza SHARK SWARM (2008) and are pushing forward to craft more supersized and hybridized horrors for the producers of DINOSHARK (2010) and SHARKTOPUS (2010). I’m happy for my friends and the news evoked in me the kneejerk response “Good… I miss monsters.” And then the strangeness of that reaction struck me — there are monsters everywhere these days, so what’s the big deal? Watch any SyFy and it’s back-to-back ads for video games and made-for-TV movies and theatrical releases offering all manner of freakish folderol and dedicated reality TV shows for Bigfoot, river monsters and ghosts foreign and domestic. We’re actually living in what could be called, quantitatively, a monster renaissance akin to the glory days of the 1940s and 1950s, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and sent real estate values crumbling like so many scale model metropoli… but it’s not the same. It’s just not the same.

Sixty years ago, monster movies were crumbs cast off from the major studios, chicken feed for the kids and the punters who liked to eat popcorn and have something big to look at while doing it. Titles like THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953), THEM! (1954) and IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955) and others were not staffed with movie stars but cast instead from the ranks of the contract players, workaday actors who owed some time or some years to their home studios, or who were on loan-out from another. Most of the people doing the movies had no love for the genre, for horror, for le fantastique — it was just rent and gas money, alimony, braces for the kids, a down payment. From the directors down to the writers, actors and technicians, monster movies were the cinematic equivalent of the $2 betting window at the race track… a place where a little money could be made and better things financed. Sure, some studios (Universal, for one) made bank off the tendering of horror and science fiction but the category was still considered down-market, common, dumb. Happily, crafty artisans used the medium to sneak in ideas and techniques that were brash, blasphemous and novel at the time and in retrospect a lot of monster movies of the Classic Age of Hollywood play better now than they did originally, now that we can appreciate their subthemes and hidden motifs

What’s great about old monster movies is that there is always a reliable level of craftsmanship, of competence and reliability. If the script is dodgy, the playing is persuasive. If the acting is wooden, the script will offer thought-provoking ideas or smart dialogue. Even if the scenario boils down to little more than a guy in an ape suit and gabardine slacks or a mollusk puppet dripping Noxema from its molded rubber maw, the effects entertain, sometimes fascinate, and invariably charm while reality is worked in from the side through the matter-of-fact playing of the ensemble and the insistence on the part of everyone involved of absolute professionalism. And some of the time — and THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951) comes immediately to mind — book, performance and production come together to give us something truly unforgettable… something our children and grandchildren will be talking about long after we’re gone.

for the rest go here:http://moviemorlocks.com/2012/01/20/monsters-among-us/#more-45817

Friday, January 20, 2012

Remembering John D. MacDonald's pulp fiction by Fred Blosser




Remembering John D. MacDonald's pulp fiction by Fred Blosser

Years ago, as a fledgling enthusiast of pulp and paperback fiction, I was a big fan of the legendary JDMBibliophile ‘zine. I was especially fond of the “Early JDM” column, in which Francis M. Nevins Jr. profiled MacDonald’s pulp stories from Black Mask, Dime Detective, and other such wonderful treasuries of hardboiled fiction.

Several of those stories, with JDM’s blessings, were eventually collected by Martin H. Greenberg, Nevins, Walter Shine, and Jean Shine in the two “Good Old Stuff” volumes of the 1980s. But many others remain unreprinted. This is unfortunate, because nuggets of tough-guy gold repose in those now-crumbling pulpwood pages. As cases in point, I would refer you to two novelettes from Dime Detective that show MacDonald at his youthful peak as a riveting storyteller.

I wrote about those stories in the Spring 1992 issue of The JDM Review, and what follows is an updated recap of the article. I figure that most of you are unfamiliar with the 1992 article. Twenty years later, with pulp making a resurgence of sorts with e-books and POD houses, it may be a good time for a reminder as to how energetic MacDonald’s magazine work was.

First, “Call Your Murder Signals!” (Dime Detective, June 1948). As in most of JDM’s pulp stories, the protagonist of this 12,000-word effort isn’t the typical private eye or police detective pulp hero. Benjamin “Tige” Gaynor, war hero and former All-American lineman, is coach of a pro football team called the Port Davis Travelers.

When Tige runs afoul of a crooked gambling ring, local gangsters try to kill him. Failing that, they frame him for the murder of a former player. With a pert young woman on his side, Gaynor clears his name and brings the bad guys to lead-laced justice. (Man, pulp lingo is contagious.)

From the first page, in which Tige is shot and pushed out of a speeding car on a lonely country road, “Call Your Murder Signals!” is textbook-perfect pulp. JDM keeps the plot moving at high velocity, while throwing in the occasional twist of phrase that presages his mature Gold Medal style:

“Without knowing how it happened, I was on my face in the shallow ditch, and my hands were no longer tied. My right arm was twisted under me at a funny angle. I burned in a dozen places. My cheek rested in a puddle, and the rain beat down on me.

“The legs were gone, too. Oh, they were there, but they were old stockings filled with sand and putty.”

The blurb on the magazine’s contents page is pure pulp platinum: “Snap into kill formation, boys, and -- CALL YOUR MURDER SIGNALS! When the trigger toughs tried to bench him for keeps, All-American Gaynor decides he’d rather do-in than die.”

Incidentally, by that June 1948 cover date, Dime Detective no longer sold for 10 cents. Cover price: 15 cents.

Another placid town seething with hidden corruption, Hunt City, is the setting for “Too Many Sinners” (Dime Detective, June 1949). Johnny Rogan, a “tall, hardy-looking young man with a firm jaw, friendly blue eyes, and a shock of yellow hair,” is a soft-hearted repo man. Assigned to repossess a car for a bank, he encounters a prostitution and extortion ring, a deceptively cherubic old man named Esperance whose enemies have a way of disappearing suddenly, and a lethal beauty named Carlotta.

In the 1992 article, mentioning Carlotta, I suggested that readers visualize Barbara Carrera in a 1940s pageboy hairdo. Now I would suggest Eva Mendes, Sofia Vergara, maybe Eva Longoria.

With a plot slightly reminiscent of Hammett’s “The Scorched Face” (in the 1992 article, I goofed and inexplicably cited Hammett’s “Fly Paper”), “Too Many Sinners” may strike modern readers as dated, at least in regard to details of technology. Esperance drugs local young women, puts them into what the tabloids used to call compromising positions, and uses the photos to blackmail the women or force them into turning tricks. Nowadays, I guess sex videos or on-line porn would be involved.

As in “Call Your Murder Signals!”, JDM keeps the action rocketing along. There’s a masterful sequence in which Johnny, tied up in his car and doused with gasoline, struggles to free himself before a lighted cigarette burns down and ignites the petrol.

The blurb for this one is even better than the one for the 1948 novelette:

“A thrill-starved girl’s fury cremates -- TOO MANY SINNERS. She was just a brunette on a skip list -- steering Johnny to hell."

In between the beatings, shootings, and stabbings, the mundane details of Rogan’s repo job have an authentic ring. One suspects that JDM drew on his own brief career in repossessing cars and appliances while putting himself through college.

Incidentally, if you think “Call Your Murder Signals!” and “Too Many Sinners” push the limits of corn, consider that two other titles in the June 1949 issue were “A Sap Takes the Rap” and “Tin-Lizzy Houdini.” As noted in the “Good Old Stuff” collections, the titles of MacDonald’s pulp stories were often changed as they crossed the editor's desk. Whatever the title, they deserve better than the impermanence of brittling pulpwood pages.

Karl Edward Wagner



Ed here: This is one of the most extraordinary collections I've ever seen. The making of the massive book with its astonishing illustrations reminds us of how nothing will ever replace the sheer beauty and craftsmanship of finely made books. Then there are the stories. Wagner has long been one of my favorite horror story writers because he was able to balance the psychological so well with the outre. There is a pure pulp poetry and mordancy to his work that I equate with the best genre fiction has to offer.

I didn't know Karl. He took a few of my stories for his Year's Best anthologies, which pleased me, and one of my stories caused him to write me about a friend of his who was in steep decline. He said he'd never been able to understand this man but that after reading my story he realized what his friend was going through. The irony being, as several writers attest in their introductions to his various stories, that Karl himself was in steep decline for quite a long time before he died.

I felt that he never got his due as a writer. He was able to create moods, back stories, histories that far more popular writers would never even dare attempt. If you think I exaggerate read any of the stories in this book.

KARL EDWARD WAGNER
MASTERS OF THE WEIRD TALE



SYNOPSIS

With over 700 pages, including all of Karl Edward Wagner’s horror fiction, this is one of the best, most impeccably proofed and designed in our Masters of the Weird Tale series. This collection includes Sticks, Where the Summer Ends, In the Pines; in sum, all of the horror fiction. Feel free to email us for a list of the stories as a PDF file, or click here to download it yourself.
This collection has a color cover by J.K. Potter and over ten full-page, full-color interior illustrations by Potter as well. The book is edited and introduced by Stephen Jones, has an additional introduction by Peter Straub, a remembrance by David Drake, and a new afterword by Laird Barron. The introductions are profusely illustrated with pictures of Karl in both black & white and color.
The edition is limited to 200 copies for sale. Each numbered copy is signed by Stephen Jones, J.K. Potter, Peter Straub, Laird Barron, and David Drake.
Each book is fully bound in cloth and comes in a handsome two-tone slipcase to match your other volumes in the Masters of the Weird Tale series. It will be shipping in early to mid November. Sorry for the delay!
The queries we have been receiving on this title have been considerable; we expect it to be fully subscribed before publication.

EDITION INFORMATION

Limited to 200 copies.
Introductions by Stephen Jones and Peter Straub.
New color illustrations by J.K. Potter.
Signed by J.K. Potter, Stephen Jones, Peter Straub, Laird Barron and David Drake.
Slipcase, ribbon marker, head and tail bands, three-piece cloth construction.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Forgotten Books: The American Cinema by Andrew Sarris

Ed here: I'm going through some health problems which is why I haven't been posting the last few nights. I'm feeling better but the issues haven't been resolved as yet.

Forgotten Books: The American Cinema by Andrew Sarris

There was a time in my life, college age and maybe a decade after, when I took Andrews Sarris' opinions of American films and American filmmakers pretty much as gospel. Times and people change. I bought a copy in a dime bin and looked through it and realized that it is in fact a rather pedantic and downright goofy survey of American films.

Sarris sensibly enough divides his opinions into chapters with headings such as Pantheon Directors, The Far Side of Paradise and Less Than Meets The Eye and so on. Hard to disagree with his Pantheon which includes Keaton, Chaplin, Ford, Ophuls and so on. With one exception that is. He includes Fritz Lang in the Pantheon and then in Less Than Meets The Eye dumps on Billy Wilder. What? There are few directors who have captured their AMERICAN time better than Wilder. The Lost Weekend, Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Ace In The Hole, The Seven Year Itch, Some Like It Hot,The Apartment...I take nothing away from Lang, though his self-mythologizing got tiresome. He is certainly a major director. But as far as serious accomplishments go...Lang but not Wilder in this so-called Pantheon?

He also dumps on, among others, Robert Aldrich, Robert Wise, Nicholas Ray, Preston Sturges and Anthony Mann--good sometimes but not good enough for the Pantheon. Really? Preston Sturges not as "good" as Ernest Lubitsch? Not even Sturges would have claimed he was. And Wilder doesn't belong even on this list?

Sarris is at his most readable when he deals with directors he considers sub-human. Peckinpah, Roger Corman, Curtis Harrington and Ida Lupino. He has cordial fun with them and sees merit in their assumed irrelevance.

But unfortunately then it's back to the pot shots. Under the Heading "Strained Seriousness" we have...Stanley Kubrick? Really Stanley Kubrick?

Be warned: You'll neeed a lot of Prozac for this one. And your dental bill will shoot up because of all your teeth gnashing.'

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A new Psycho? NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!



Ed here: Lee Pfeiffer is one of my favorite movie reviewers/commentators. H's also of course published and editor of Cinema Retro my favorite magazine about films.I had the same response to this news that Lee did.

By Lee Pfeiffer

Look, I'm not one of these high-brow guys who knock all of the programming on cable TV. About the only shows I ever have time to watch are guilty pleasures like Hoarders and Storage Wars plus various National Geographic programs that center on helpless humans being devoured by wild animals. Most of the time I'm working on my computer, so the only programs that run consistently are political shows that don't require me to sit in front of a screen. In fact, with all the heated debates on these programs, they provide plenty of wild animal-like behavior in and of themselves. What I do find really offensive is when a cable network decides to use a legendary movie as the basis of a low-grade TV concept. For example, A&E has just announced that it is developing a series titled Bates Motel that will explore the early years of Psycho's legendary cinematic killer Norman Bates, as well as his Oedipus-like relationship with his mother. Is this really what classic movie lovers have been clamoring for? Obviously not. How many people even remember that there was a TV movie sequel to Psycho back in 1987? So this new project is a rip-off of a rip-off. However, A&E is gambling that there are plenty of undiscriminating viewers out there who probably never even saw the original film and will think this concept is a hoot. Murder and implied incest? Irresistable! And now Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece can be improved upon with the inclusion of numerous dumb-ass commercials, color cinematography and answers to the mysteries surrounding Bates' background that were so annoyingly mysterious that they might have inspired you to use your own imagination. Click here for the lurid details.

-------------------THE LURID DETAILS FROM HOLLYWOOD REPORTER



TCA: 'Psycho' Prequel Series 'Bates Motel' in the Works at A&E
The cable network that's home to "Intervention" and "The Glades" also picks up the rights to Danish serial killer drama "Those Who Kill."
11:44 AM PST 1/13/2012 by Lesley Goldberg
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Everett Collection
"Psycho"
A&E is continuing its push into scripted programming, developing series projects based on the famed hotel featured in Psycho and a Danish format about serial killers.
OUR EDITOR RECOMMENDS

A&E Network Hires Three Programming Executives

'Hoarders,' 'Intervention' Have Solid Returns on A&E

Pierce Brosnan's 'Bag of Bones' Miniseries Boosts Ratings for A&E
The network Friday announced it is in early development on Bates Motel, a potential series from Universal Television for A&E that would serve as a prequel to the Alfred Hitchcock 1960 classic Psycho.
The series would offer an understanding into how Norman Bates' psyche developed and would tell the back story of the film's killer, learning of how his mother, Norma, and her lover damaged him, transforming him into serial-killing motel owner. Anthony Perkins played Norman in the film.
Anthony Cipriano penned the script.
The project is not the first time a Psycho spinoff effort has been attempted. NBC aired a 90-minute TV movie titled Bates Motel in 1987.
Meanwhile, the cable net that's home to unscripted fare including Intervention and Hoarders has acquired the rights to Danish format Those Who Kill.
Based on the best-seller by Elsebeth Egholm, the Danish series is about serial killers and the people who pursue and catch them.
The original series revolves around a female police detective who works to understand her connection into the mind of a serial killer and a profiler who has a deeper psychological understanding that connects them to the killer and their victims.
Kill hails from Imagine Television and Fox 21. Glen Morgan will pen the script and executive produce alongside Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo, Peter Bose and Jonas Allen.
Should either project go to series, it would join the network's original scripted offerings that include The Glades and Breakout Kings.
Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pity Him Afterward Donald Westlake

Pity Him Afterward Donald Westlake

Ed here: One day a publisher I knew called me and said is there a Don Westlake novel that has never been in paperback. I immediately said yes. He asked me if I had a copy of it. I said yes. I sent him my one and only copy, a very good hardcover edition of Pity Him Afterwrd. As it turned out they had to destroy it to create the new book. But it was worth it so other people could read it. It's that good.

From 2007:

Every once in awhile I get stoned just watching a literary master do his work. The last two nights I was flat out dazzled from beginning to end with Donald Westlake's 1964 novels PITY HIM AFTERWARD.

The story concerns an escaped madman who takes the identity of a man who is headed to a theater that does summer stock. While we see the story several times from the madman's point of view, we're never sure who he is. This is a fair clue mystery.

In quick succession, a young woman who works summer stock is found murdered in the house where the young, struggling actors stay. A part-time chief of police appears to find the killer.

Two points: writers owe their readers original takes on familiar tropes as often as possible. The madman here is no slobbering beast but rather a deranged and sometimes pitiful lunatic (the opening three thousand words are among the most accomplished Westlake pieces I've ever read). And the police chief Eric Songard is one of the most unique cops I've come across in mystery fiction. He works nine months of the year as a professor and summers as a police chief. The small town he oversees usually offers nothing worse than drunks and the occasional fight. Murder is another matter. Westake gives us a cop whose self-confidence is so bad all he can do is try and hasten the appearance of the regular cops from a nearby district. Meanwhile he has to pretend he knows what's going on. He could easily have gone to series. He's a great character.

As the story is told, we get a beleivable look at summer stock with its low pay, brutal hours, frequent rivalries. The payoff is that some of the actors will get their Equity card at the end of the nine week run and thereby become professional actors.

Then there is the telling. The craft is impeccable. Precise and concise and yet evocative because of the images Westlake constantly presents us. You also have to marvel at the rhythm of his language, watching how'll he'll shave an anticpated word here for a certain effect, add a word there for the sake of cadence. These sentences are CRAFTED.

There are so many great Westlake novels it's impossble to rank them. But given what he accomplished, I'd have to say this is one of his early best.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ricky Gervais Is Losing His Edge by Not Shutting Up About His Edge

Ed here: To me Ricky Gervais is a genius. That isn't to say he's been a genius lately. A lame end to Extras (one of my all-time favorites shows), truly bad movies and lately being inescapable on tv and in print coming on like Napoleon before Waterloo. When he was famous he was fun to listen to. His descriptions of growing up, of trying to sell his shows, of being at least a bit of every one of his noodgy protagonists--he was great. But now that he's SUPER famous he's a lot less clever and likable. I always wondered if Larry David wasn't secretly exposing the new Gervais in their Curb episode. His "outsider" and "iconoclast" routine is especially irritating. This guy is an outsider like I'm an insider. I take no pleasure in saying these things. His is an enduring and exciting talent. But he doesn't wear his new super fame very well at all. I watched three episodes of Extras last night. For me Gervais at his best.

Ricky Gervais Is Losing His Edge by Not Shutting Up About His Edge
By Willa Paskin FROM VULTURE


Exactly a year ago, days before Ricky Gervais was set to host the Golden Globes for the second time, there seemed to be no more perfect an awards show host in the universe. To that point, Gervais had made himself into something of an awards show treasure: Whenever he was trotted out for his few minutes of on-air patter, he was always funny — which, given the typical caliber of such banter, made him a walking miracle. And then came the 68th annual Golden Globes, an event at which Gervais had the audacity to level some actual fastballs (or fast relative to the standard softballs) at the rich, famous, beautiful people sitting in the audience and/or watching from home. Not everyone was pleased with Gervais's gleeful skewering, and the likes of Judd Apatow and the Hollywood Foreign Press argued that Gervais’s performance had crossed a line, making for an unnecessarily bitter and antagonistic show. Vulture was on record as enjoying the whole thing — it was the perfect antidote to the season's award show circuit of overstated mutual praise — and the Hollywood Foreign Press lightened up after a few months and asked Gervais to repeat as the host this year. But in the year since the Globes, one person has appeared to be more amused and delighted by Gervais's performance than anyone else, in or out of Hollywood: Ricky Gervais himself. Having spent an awards show deflating the hype around movie stars, Gervais has spent the last year buying his own.

Ricky Gervais told some appealingly honest-to-mean jokes about famous people. And he has spent the last few months smugly discussing them as though they were tragically misunderstood by oversensitive actors. He self-importantly talks about how great it is to have Hollywood "scared to death of me." Just this week, baldly flouting the truism that to explain humor is to kill humor, he gave an interview to EW dissecting all of his Golden Globes jokes, pedantically offering up highfalutin reasons why it's funny to give Robert Downey Jr. a hard time about his addictive past — all as if his awards show patter was a complicated and multilayered upending of the social order rather than just funny jabs. He behaves as if telling Angelina Jolie she was in a bad movie is somehow striking a blow for the common man, and not, in its way, as totally frivolous as telling her she was in a good one. (It's not that insulting her isn't entertaining, but when Perez Hilton was still in his drawing-penises-on-her-face phase, he didn't pretend he was doing important work.)

Gervais seems determined to keep promoting the notion that his performance at the Globes was wildly offensive, but it was only mildly offensive, at best, however many easily offended people he managed to offend. You can revisit most of last year's jokes here: In addition to knocks on Robert Downey Jr. and The Tourist, they included digs at Cher, Scientology, Charlie Sheen, Hugh Hefner, Sex and the City 2, and and the HFPA. Sure, to that insular industry audience the jabs were more cutting than the usual award show fare and were pretty gloriously ungrateful (he went after no one so much as the hosting HFPA, accusing them of bribery and making a joke about how the president had dentures), but as The New York Times Magazine puts it in a profile of him running this weekend, "It was the sort of material that would have barely rattled Medic Alert bracelets at a Friars Club roast." Gervais took some hard shots at easy, deserving targets, and if that made for a fairly shocking awards show, that's because awards shows are absurdly staid and self-important, not because Gervais was breaking new ground — something that a comedian of Gervais's stature and know-how should be the first to admit. But you wouldn't know it from Gervais, who has spent the last twelve months reveling in his iconoclasm (posing as Jesus and all).

(more)”
That does in fact say it all: Gervais is a rich, powerful guy who one night a year makes fun of his brethren. He's not an outsider, he's just imagining himself to be. If Hollywood isn't offended by his jokes, why does he feel the need to keep patronizingly explaining why they weren't offensive? And if Hollywood did, in fact, take offense, why is he insecurely going out of his way to say they didn't? Whether people were offended or not, shouldn't he just laugh it off and move on, rather than harping on his accomplishment for months and months?

Promoting the notion that he doesn't play by Hollywood's sycophantic rules is good branding for Gervais; it'll certainly get more people to watch the show this Sunday night. (The ad campaign for the Globes has Gervais telling audiences that the only difference between them and him, is that they'll be saying catty things from home, and he'll be doing it to celebrities' faces.) We know we're looking forward to it because he will take more digs than anyone else would, and the show will be less bland for it. But we will also spend the entire night worrying that at the end of the show, we are in for another yearlong didactic and scolding explanation about how humor works and a giggling identity crisis about whether he's a Hollywood insider or outsider. We'll also spend the night wondering where the man went who made his career by being unerringly clear-eyed about the ways that a lack of self-awareness and desire for approval can turn a person into a buffoon, i.e., a David Brent. Because he doesn't seem to be the same guy telling the jokes anymore.

GET MORE: BLASPHEMY, RICKY GERVAIS, GOLDEN GLOBES 2012, JOHNNY DEPP,

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Forgotten Books: How Like An Angel by Margaret Millar

How Like an Angel by Margaret Millar

I've always held the opinion that some writers are just too good for the mass market. This is a true of a number of literary writers but it's also true of at least one writer of crime fiction, the late Margret Millar. For all her many deserved awards, she never became the enormous commercial success she deserved to be.

For me she's the single most elegant stylist who ever shaped a mystery story. You revel in her sentences. She used wit and dark humor in the direst of novels long before it was fashionable in the genre. And she was a better (and much fairer) bamboozler than Agatha Christie.

I recently reread her How Like and Angel and its richness, its darkness, its perverse wit make me repeat what I've said many times before--if this isn't the perfect mystery novel, it comes damned close.

The story, complex as it becomes, is simple in its set-up. Private eye Joe Quinn, having gambled away all his money, begins hitchiking from Reno to Caifornia. Along the way he sees the Tower, the symbol of a religious cult that eventually offers him not only shelter but a chance to put his skills to use. Sister Blessing asks him to find a man named Patrick O'Gorman. The man is dead. Which makes Quinn suspicious of why they want him located.

Among its many pleasures is the way this novel, published in the early sixties, anticipates some of the fringe cults that would grow out of the flower power days. There's more than a touch of ole Charlie Manson in the Tower.

I've always argued that the traditional mystery can be used for purposes other than simply whodunit. Here Millar gives us a great novel of character, a wry and not unkind look at people drawn to cults and a dark stunning story of forged lives.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

From Jack O'Connell 1970s Movies of The Week Casting Game!

Ed,

As a lover of the 1970s Movie of the Week, I really grooved on this morn's posting.

Have you played the "Cast the 1970s Movie of the Week" game? Here's the list:

The Playbook for Making a 1970s MFTVM



Now that you’ve watched a bushel of MFTVMs, you’re ready to make your own. Below you’ll find a manual we picked up from central casting



Young Turk

Peter Haskell: slick young turk

Michael Parks: brooding young turk

Frank Converse: smart young turk

Christopher George: hotheaded young turk

Peter Mark Richman: duplicitous young turk

James Franciscus: WASPY young turk

Jan‑Michael Vincent: surfer‑dude young turk

Michael Cole: confused young turk

Glenn Corbett: mild‑mannered young turk

Dack Rambo: cowboy young turk



Woman In Jeopardy

Rosemary Forsyth: woman in jeopardy

Hope Lange: woman in jeopardy

Blythe Danner: woman in jeopardy

Lee Grant: woman in jeopardy

Rosemary Forsyth: woman in jeopardy

Yvette Mimieux: woman in jeopardy

Mariette Hartley: woman in jeopardy

Elizabeth Montgomery: woman in jeopardy

Donna Mills: woman in jeopardy



Ingenue

Carol Lynley: ingenue in trouble

Lesley Ann Warren: ingenue in heat

Lynda Day George: ingenue in mourning

Tisha Sterling: hippy deb ingenue



Suburban Mom

Sandy Dennis: jilted suburban wife drifting into diet pill abuse



Suburban Dad

Carl Betz: suburban dad with a mistress

Mike Farrell: suburban dad with an issue

Dennis Weaver: suburban dad in jeopardy



Kids

Richard Thomas: overly sensitive youth

Mitch Vogel: overly sensitive youth

Lance Kerwin: overly sensitive youth

Robby Benson: overly sensitive youth

Jennifer Salt: rebellious daughter

Glynnis O'Connor: girl with a problem

Linda Blair: girl with a big problem



Grandma

Estelle Parsons: grandma



Granddad

Arthur Kennedy: granddad

Will Geer: dotty old granddad



Cop

Robert Forster: detective first class loner

Harry Guardino: media savvy police commissioner

Cameron Mitchell: good cop gone bad

Claude Akins: Deputy Bud



Lawyer

Richard Basehart: district attorney

Pernell Roberts: politically ambitious DA

James Whitmore: defense attorney

Howard Duff: stop‑at‑nothing defense attorney

Simon Oakland: badly dressed ambulance chaser

Hugh O'Brian: playboy lawyer



Doctor

Lloyd Nolan: kind‑but‑wise doctor

Barnard Hughes: kindly‑but‑eccentric doctor

William Windom: alcoholic mess doctor

Sam Groom: playboy surgeon



Businessmen

Barry Sullivan: craven industrialist

Peter Graves: the CEO

Monte Markham: real estate mogul with a secret

Richard Anderson: supervisor Adams

Mark Goddard: double‑crossing business partner

Herb Edelman: sales, any kind of sales

Jim Hutton: Dodge dealership owner

Ed Nelson: life‑insurance saleman with a dozen blue blazers

David Hedison: desperate stockbroker



Government

Broderick Crawford: by‑the‑book alderman

William Schallert: head of the school board



Arts and Entertainment

Anthony Perkins: repressed young artist

Sheree North: nightclub singer with heart of gold

Roddy McDowall: in the closet art dealer



High Society

Agnes Moorehead: bitter, catty socialite

Henry Jones: snotty garden club chairman

Grayson Hall: divorced nympho lush



Working Stiffs

Eugene Roche: rubbish hauler

John Karlen: Handyman Tom

Norman Fell: summons server

William Demarest: mean barkeep

Arlene Golonka: waitress at the diner



Sports

Alex Karras: Coach Roy

Robert Foxworth: weekend white water rafter in safari vest

Joseph Campanella: golf pro



Academics

Percy Rodriguez: Professor of obscure myths and legends

Georg Stanford Brown: head of the black students union



Head Cases

John Carradine: creepy old coot

Zalman King: obsessive psycho boyfriend

John Savage: recently released young mental patient



Utility Players

Edward Asner: cop or crooked union official

Leslie Nielsen: cop or well‑dressed embezzler

Avery Schreiber: chauffeur or diner owner

Cleavon Little: pimp or revolutionary

Darren McGavin: average‑guy‑in‑over‑his‑head or editor‑in‑chief

Elke Sommer: woman with a past or spy

Ted Bessell: the new boyfriend or management trainee



Now post your concept and ideal cast!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sam McCain now on Kindle

Ed here: Part of the reason I started writing the Sam McCain novels was because I was sick of hearing about how wonderful the decade of the Fifties was. You know, Ozzie & Harriet and Father Knows Best. Most egregious, to me, was Happy Days. By then even the Republicans knew better. If you were white, Christian, middle-class, straight and white collar the decade was probably more decent to you than not. But given the racism, sexism, Communist witch hunts, union-busting and large pockets of poverty, not even Ozzie's dopey smile could make the excluded Happy.

The books aren't sermons. All of them are humorous more than not and all of them are, I think, solid fair clue puzzles. But I also touch on the demons of the time; as one of the Chicago papers noted "This is Happy Days as it really was." There's even nostalgia for those who recall the times I use. The Day The Music Died begins on the night Buddy Holly died in that terrible needless plane crash; Wake Up Little Suzie begins on the day the Edsel was unveiled. I have some fun with the difficulty the press, national and local, had describing the Edsel grill. As a New York Times reporter said: "We had to say it looked like a vagina without using that word."

I honestly think you'll enjoy the Sam McCain novels. They begin, as I said, in 1958. The latest, Bad Moon Rising, takes place in 1968. And yes, each book is titled after a then current song.

Here are some press quotes:

"Gorman's delightful series...provokes a bracing nostalgia for a time that was neither as innocent nor as dull as is sometimes said." -The Wall Street Journal

"Offers the rueful wisdom and and charm of an exemplary hero who is curious not only about whodunit but also about some of the more elusive riddles and human existence." -San Francisco Chronicle

"Gorman knowingly invests his whodunit with all the right cultural touches...but, by not ignoring the racism and sexual taboos of the time he elevates it to a story with bite and substance." Chicago Tribune

"McCain's zeal to cleanse Black River Fall of evil makes him the kind of hero any small town could take to its heart." --New York Times

"In (the Sam McCain books) good and evil clash with the same heartbreaking results as they have in the more urban crime drama of Block or Leonard." Booklist

The first two novels are now available for $4.99 each or $6.99for both in one package.



The Day The Music Died (The Sam McCain Mysteries) [Kindle Edition]
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The Original Sam McCain Mysteries (The Sam McCain Mysteries) [Kindle Edition]
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Monday, January 09, 2012

ABC'S MOVIE OF THE WEEK



Ed here: Yeah a lot of them were trashy but some were fun-trashy and a few of them were actually good. I'd take them over most of the predictable sit-coms and cop shows airing now. One especially fine one was Ira Levin's "Dr. Cook's Garden" with believe-it-or-not Bing Crosby in this creepy but oddly moving tv version of the play. There was another good one, too, that always struck me as a knock-off of a very good John Brunner science fiction story but that may just have been the fan boy in me wanting to promote an sf writer.

FROM CLASSIC-FILM-TV.blogspot
http://classic-film-tv.blogspot.com/

ABC's The Movie of the Week

Made-for-TV movies eventually got a bad rap, which explains why they pretty much faded from network television in the 1990s. But I still fondly recall what I call the "Golden Age of the TV Movie": the early 1970s when ABC began broadcasting its Movie of the Week.

Every Tuesday night, ABC introduced a world premiere telefilm in a ninety-minute time slot (about 72 minutes without commercials). The success of the series can be attributed, in part, to the variety of its films: suspense (The Longest Night), horror (The Night Stalker), science fiction (Night Slaves), World War II action (Death Race), comedy (The Daughters of Joshua Cabe), Western (The Hanged Man), serious drama (That Certain Smile), film noir (Goodnight, My Love) and even kung fu (Men of the Dragon). Many of the telefilms were also pilots for TV series--some of which made it as regular series (The Six Million Dollar Man) and some that didn’t (The Monk with George Maharis as a private eye).


Dennis Weaver in Duel, written by
Richard Matheson.
Several films earned critical plaudits, such as Brian's Song, Duel, That Certain Summer, Tribes, and The Point. Occasionally, one would be released theatrically in either in the U.S. or Europe--often with additional footage--after its TV broadcast. That was the case with Steven Spielberg's suspenseful chase drama Duel and The Sex Symbol with Connie Stevens playing an actress loosely inspired by Marilyn Monroe.

I'm always surprised by how many of the ABC Movie of Week telefilms are fondly remembered by fellow film buffs. For example, people may not remember the title of Trilogy of Terror--but mention the creepy TV movie with Karen Black about the killer doll and a lot of folks will know it.

The original Movie of the Week debuted on Tuesday night in 1969. It was so successful that ABC launched a Movie of the Weekend, which subsequently shifted to mid-week so there were Tuesday and Wednesday Movies of the Week installments. The final Movie of the Week was broadcast in 1976.

The catchy theme to the Movie of the Week opening was written by Burt Bacharach. Its actual title is "Nikki," named after Burt's daughter with Angie Dickinson. Click on the clip below to view the full opening for When Michael Calls, a thriller with Ben Gazzara, Elizabeth Ashley, and Michal Douglas. At the end of the clip is preview for the following week's movie, The Screaming Woman, starring Olivia de Havilland. Unfortunately, the video quality doesn't do justice to the bright, colorful graphics.



In terms of originality, the only network that competed with ABC was CBS, which launched CBS Tuesday Night Movie in 1972. It sent speeding helicopters (Birds of Prey), ancient evil Druids (The Horror at 37,000 Feet), and, most memorably, Gargoyles to battle its TV-movie rival at ABC.


Crosby as Dr. Cook.
Sadly, only a handful of these films are available on DVD (and even then, the prints are usually inferior in quality). I’d love to see TCM get the rights to the Movie of the Week. It’d be great to see Bing Crosby in Dr. Cook’s Garden again and see if the film as good as I remember.

Below is a sampling of the telefilms that played on The Movie of the Week (to include the Tuesday and Wednesay editions and The Movie of the Weekend on Saturday). Note that several movies featured performers from the classic film era:


Seven in Darkness (1969)
Daughter of the Mind (1969) with Gene Tierney & Ray Milland
Gidget Grows Up (1969)
Honeymoon with a Stranger (1969)
The Over-the-Hill Gang (1969) with Walter Brennan & Andy Devine
The Ballad of Andy Crocker (1969)
The Immortal (1969)
Wake Me When the War Is Over (1969)
Along Came a Spider (1970)
Carter's Army (1970)
Crowhaven Farm (1970)
How Awful about Allan (1970) with Anthony Perkins & Julie Harris
Night Slaves (1970)
The Over the Hill Gang Rides Again with Walter Brennan & Fred Astaire
Run, Simon, Run (1970)
The Love War (1970)
Tribes (1970)
Brian's Song (1971)
Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate (1971) with Helen Hayes, Myrna Loy, Sylvia Sidney
Dr. Cook's Garden (1971)
Duel (1971)
In Broad Daylight (1971)
In Search of America (1971)
Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring (1971)
The Birdmen (1971)
The Devil and Miss Sarah (1971)
The Feminist and the Fuzz (1971)
The Point! (1971)
The Reluctant Heroes (1971)
A Great American Tragedy (1972)
Goodnight, My Love (1972)
Moon of the Wolf (1972)
That Certain Summer (1972)
The Astronaut (1972)
The Daughters of Joshua Cabe (1972) with Buddy Ebsen & Sandra Dee
The Longest Night (1972)
Madame Sin (1972) with Bette Davis & Robert Wagner
The People (1972)
The Screaming Woman (1972) with Olivia de Havilland
Women in Chains (1972)
A Cold Night's Death (1973)
A Summer Without Boys (1973)
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973)
Female Artillery (1973)
Go Ask Alice (1973)
Isn't It Shocking? (1973)
Satan's School for Girls (1973)
Shirts/Skins (1973)
The Girl Most Likely to... (1973)
The Girls of Huntington House (1973)
The Man Without a Country (1973) with Cliff Robertson
The Night Strangler (1973)
The Third Girl from the Left (1973)
Get Christie Love! (1974)
Hit Lady (1974)
Houston, We've Got a Problem (1974)
Killdozer (1974)
Locusts (1974)
The Mark of Zorro (1974)
The Morning After (1974)
Thursday's Game (1974)
Winter Kill (1974)
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Labels: dr. cook's garden, duel, movie of the week, rick29 (author), trilogy of terror

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Interesting material about Dashiell Hammet

From Fred Blosser--thanks Fred:


Ed, I came across this document on the web, a Maryland state historic trust form
and supporting documentation describing Hopewell and Aim, the one-time Hammett
family property in St. Mary's County, MD, where Dashiell Hammett was born in
1894. Very interesting stuff for a Hammett fan; I pass it along for posting on
the blog if you'd like:
http://www.msa.md.gov/megafile/msa/stagsere/se1/se5/026000/026500/026515/pdf/msa_se5_26515.pdf
.


There's also a highway marker for Hammett on Great Mills road, near the
property. I don't see a photo on any of the Maryland state sites offhand, but
there's one (with a funny accompanying writeup) on the "Big Read Blog" from
7/14/2008 at http://www.arts.gov/bigreadblog/?cat=9&paged=2 .

Now if only someone could find the files of Hammett's service with the
Pinkertons, so we would know for sure whether Hammett was offered money to
murder labor organizer Frank Little, as the story goes . . . and whether the
reference to the wide-open 1915 boom town of Hopewell, VA, in "Nightmare Town"
reflected Hammett's first-hand experience . . . and the name of the young woman
who didn't tell young Sam in Washington, DC, in 1917 that his work as a private
investigator must be very interesting. From all accounts, sadly, the Pinkerton
records no longer exist.

Fred

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Jack Kerouac's Letter To Marlon Brando: 'On The Road' Movie Plea


Jack Kerouac's Letter To Marlon Brando: 'On The Road' Movie Plea
First Posted: 1/6/12 02:22 PM ET Updated: 1/6/12 04:09 PM ET
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Two legendary rebels of the 1950s, one legendary opportunity missed.

Jack Kerouac famously became a recluse, but it turns out he had movie star ambitions. In this 1957 letter, found by a memorabilia expert in 2005 and recently sold at auction by Christie's, the famed beat author asked Marlon Brando to buy the rights to "On the Road" and turn it into a movie -- in which they would both star.

The letter begins:

I'm praying that you'll buy ON THE ROAD and make a movie of it. Don't worry about the structure, I know to compress and re-arrange the plot a bit to give a perfectly acceptable movie-type structure: making it into one all-inclusive trip instead of the several voyages coast-to-coast in the book, one vast round trip from New York to Denver to Frisco to Mexico to New Orleans to New York again. I visualize the beautiful shots could be made with the camera on the front seat of the car showing the road (day and night) unwinding into the windshield, as Sal and Dean yak. I wanted you to play the part because Dean (as you know) is no dopey hotrodder but a real intelligent (in fact Jesuit) Irishman. You play Dean and I'll play Sal (Warner Bros. mentioned I play Sal) and I'll show you how Dean acts in real life.
Sal is the narrator of "On the Road" and a thinly veiled version of Kerouac himself, while Dean represents Neil Cassady. The book sees them travel across the nation a number of times, stopping in Mexico along the way, getting drunk and high experiencing the glories of freedom and the existential terrors of 1950s America.

Kerouac writes that he wants to make the film so that he can establish a healthy bank account for himself and his mother, with whom he was very close. In fact, the letter is addressed from Orlando, where he would spend time living with his mother. But he

So many terrible vampire novels--here's a GREAT one


Maybe I hate so many vampire novels because I know how good the great ones are. I've practically memorized I Am Legend and the same for Salem's Lot. And the same for the-too-seldom mentioned Live Girls by Ray Garton.

I don’t know how many times I’ve reviewed LIVE GIRLS by Ray Garton but I'm going to keep pushing it until every lawn in America has a big sign stating: WE OWN A COPY OF LIVE GIRLS! There'll come a day when you'll be put under house arrest and forced to listen to Rick Santorum discuss his sex tips ten hours a day if you don't have that sign.

What Garton has done is take the tropes of the vampire novel and sexualize them in a way that would have been impossible a quarter century ago. This is a raunchy, gritty, sometimes hilarious and always spellbinding novel set in the universe most of us inhabit. At least most of the time – bosses, lovers, budgets, relatives, etc. Where we depart company with the protagonist is when he starts going to live porn shows and, baby, that’s when he starts the long, dark slide into several kinds of death.

Garton nails every character. For all the cult praise laid upon the novel, I’ve never seen anybody talk about its people. They’re great. A few of them I’ve never seen before anywhere and I don’t mean just the vampires. Even the walk-ons have the stink and sass of real people – not necessarily people I’d like to have lunch with, you understand, but real nonetheless. And the writing is sleek and efficient and vivid enough to rattle your dentures in places.

The other thing Garton does is make the sex here both truly seductive and truly scary. You think AIDS is scary? Wait ’til you meet this crew. This is one of the novels I give mystery readers who are leery of horror. It usually meets with effusive approval.
This is one you’ve got to pick up.

So how soon will YOUR yard sign be going up?

Friday, January 06, 2012

The great fantasy writer Charles Beaumont on pulp fiction


The great fantasy writer Charles Beaumont on pulp fiction

One of the best pieces ever written on the real pulp fiction of the last century was done by Charles Beaumont for Playboy back in 1962. Thanks to Adventurehouse.com the article is available once again in full. I was struck by the opening paragraphs and wonder if kids today are still drawn to books and magazines the way we were or if it's video games and special effects movies that will shape their memories and creative pursuits.

Beaumont:

THERE WAS A RITUAL.

It was dark and mysterious, as rituals ought to be, and—for those who enacted it—a holy and enchanted thing. If you were a prepubescent American male in the Twenties, the Thirties or the Forties, chances are you performed the ritual. If you were a little too tall, a little too short, a little too fat, skinny, pimply, an only child, painfully shy, awkward, scared of girls, terrified of bullies, poor at your schoolwork (not because you weren’t bright but because you wouldn’t apply yourself), uncomfortable in large crowds, given to brooding, and totally and overwhelmingly convinced of your personal inadequacy in any situation, then you certainly performed it. Which is to say, you worshiped at the shrine of the pulps.

What were the pulps? Cheaply printed, luridly illustrated, sensationally written magazines of fiction aimed at the lower and lower-middle classes. Were they any good? No. They were great.potent literary drug known to boy, and all of us suffer withdrawal symptoms to this day.

No one ever kicked the pulps cold turkey. They were too powerful an influence. Instead, most of us tried to ease off. Having dreamed of owning complete sets, in mint condition, of all the pulp titles ever published, and having realized perhaps a tenth part of the dream—say, 1500 magazines, or a bedroomful—we suffered that vague disenchantment that is the first sign of approaching maturity (16, going on 17, was usually when it happened) and decided to be sensible.

Accordingly, we stopped buying all the new mags as fast as they could appear, and concentrated instead upon a few indispensable items. Gradually we cut down until we were keeping up the files on only three or four, or possibly five or six, publications. After a few years, when we had left high school, we got the number down to two. Which is where most of us stand today. We don’t read the magazines, of course. But we go on buying them. Not regularly, and not in any sense because we want to, but

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Forgotten Books: Down There by David Goodis

Forgotten Books: Down There by David Goodis from 2010

"Love between the ugly/is the most beautiful love of all."
--Todd Rundgren

I haven't kept up with all the Goodis mania of the past five years or so so forgive me if what I'm about to say has been said not only better but quite often as well.

To me Down There is one of Goodis' finest novels filled with all his strengths and none of his weaknesses. The world here is his natural milieu, the world of America's underclass. Yes, there are working class men and women in Harriet's Hut, the tavern in which a good share of the action happens, but most of the book centers on two people, Eddie Lynn, the strange protagonist and piano player and Lena, the strange somewhat masochistic waitress. They live on pennies.

The story is this: Eddie's brother Turley is a criminal and a criminal being sought by two killers. In defending Turley, allowing him to escape, Eddie himself becomes a target. Not until well into the novel do we learn why the killers want to "talk" to Turley. It takes almost as long to learn Eddie's personal secret, that he was once a Carnegie Hall attraction with a golden future of him. What happened?

Triffault filmed this in the sixties. Much as I like Triffault's films I was disappointed by this one. There is a purity of composition here that Triffault missed entirely. Few crime writers have the skill to vary melodrama and comedy as well as Goodis did. Even fewer have the nerve to extend set pieces the way he does.

For just one example there's a scene where the two killers have captured Eddie and Lena and are taking them to find Turley. The two men, Morris and Feather, begin to argue about Feather's driving. This becomes a mean, bitchy Laurel and Hardy sequence with the heavy threat of violence. This is a kidnapping scene. The comedy isn't foreshadowed. A high risk break in mood. And it works perfectly. And it is three or four times longer than most scenes found in the paperback originals of the time.

The Todd Rundgren quote applies to many of Goodis' lovers and never more so than here. Even by Goodis standards these two people are ugly with failure, with distrust of the world, with contempt for the values most people hold dear and most of all with loathing for what they've become. Goodis breaks your heart with them, especially in the surreal scene in which they are forced to hide out. Lena touches Eddie's arm--one of the first time they have any physical contact of any kind--and it's powerfully erotic because it is charged with desperation and an inkling of trust and forgiveness.

No matter where you look you won't find a novel as unique, and as shrewdly observed (there's a long bar scene that would fit perfectly into The Iceman Cometh) as Down There. I guess it's time I need to get all caught up in this Goodis mania after all.Forgotten Books: Down There by David Goodis
From 2010

"Love between the ugly/is the most beautiful love of all."
--Todd Rundgren

I haven't kept up with all the Goodis mania of the past five years or so so forgive me if what I'm about to say has been said not only better but quite often as well.

To me Down There is one of Goodis' finest novels filled with all his strengths and none of his weaknesses. The world here is his natural milieu, the world of America's underclass. Yes, there are working class men and women in Harriet's Hut, the tavern in which a good share of the action happens, but most of the book centers on two people, Eddie Lynn, the strange protagonist and piano player and Lena, the strange somewhat masochistic waitress. They live on pennies.

The story is this: Eddie's brother Turley is a criminal and a criminal being sought by two killers. In defending Turley, allowing him to escape, Eddie himself becomes a target. Not until well into the novel do we learn why the killers want to "talk" to Turley. It takes almost as long to learn Eddie's personal secret, that he was once a Carnegie Hall attraction with a golden future of him. What happened?

Triffault filmed this in the sixties. Much as I like Triffault's films I was disappointed by this one. There is a purity of composition here that Triffault missed entirely. Few crime writers have the skill to vary melodrama and comedy as well as Goodis did. Even fewer have the nerve to extend set pieces the way he do

For just one example there's a scene where the two killers have captured Eddie and Lena and are taking them to find Turley. The two men, Morris and Feather, begin to argue about Feather's driving. This becomes a mean, bitchy Laurel and Hardy sequence with the heavy threat of violence. This is a kidnapping scene. The comedy isn't foreshadowed. A high risk break in mood. And it works perfectly. And it is three or four times longer than most scenes found in the paperback originals of the time.

The Todd Rundgren quote applies to many of Goodis' lovers and never more so than here. Even by Goodis standards these two people are ugly with failure, with distrust of the world, with contempt for the values most people hold dear and most of all with loathing for what they've become. Goodis breaks your heart with them, especially in the surreal scene in which they are forced to hide out. Lena touches Eddie's arm--one of the first time they have any physical contact of any kind--and it's powerfully erotic because it is charged with desperation and an inkling of trust and forgiveness.

No matter where you look you won't find a novel as unique, and as shrewdly observed (there's a long bar scene that would fit perfectly into The Iceman Cometh) as Down There. I guess it's time I need to get all caught up in this Goodis mania after all.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

From Cinema Retro: The Movies Nov 4, 1968

The following news items were in The Hollywood Reporter on November 4, 1968:


Cloris Leachman and Henry Jones have been cast in 20th Century Fox's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Neal Hefti has been signed by Howard W. Koch to to arrange and conduct Paramount's On a Clear Day You Can See Forever

You can call Elizabeth Taylor "Myra" for sure unless an unexpected snag develops in the current agreeable negotiations we're not supposed to know anything about...Elizabeth is now Dick Zanuck's number one choice to prove she can play both sexes as his Myra Breckenridge and she is in verbal agreement- no doubt for her usual million bucks plus a piece of the action. (Cinema Retro notes that Raquel Welch ended up playing Myra in the distastrous screen version of the bestseller. Film critic Rex Reed played Myra in her male persona)

In order to allow Burt Lancaster to star in Ross Hunter's Airport at Universal, producer Ira Steiner postoned start of United Artists' Valdez is Coming. Lancaster checks in with writer-director George Seaton on Airport as soon as he winds MGM's The Gypsy Moths.

Now that Dean Martin and Burt Lancaster have been signed for Airport, scribbled on Ross Hunter's memo pad are Natalie Wood, Patricia Neal and Helen Hayes. (Cinema Retro notes that only Hayes was in the film.)

Sammy Davis and Peter Lawford won't be going back to London for their Salt and Pepper sequel. Las Vegas will be the place. (Cinema Retro notes that the sequel, One More Time, directed by Jerry Lewis, was indeed filmed in England.)

Carlo Ponti's Zabriskie Point issued a call for 3000 extras in Las Vegas last week and you should have seen the line that formed! Hear they'll be shooting in Death Valley.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A new direction for mob series? From The Wrap



Netflix Locks Release Date for Mobster Series 'Lilyhammer'
Published: January 03, 2012 @ 9:59 am

By Kurt Orzeck
Netflix is no longer hunting down a release date for "Lilyhammer," its new original series starring Steven Van Zandt as a mobster in witness protection. The first eight episodes of the comedy-drama's first season will be available for online streaming in the U.S., Canada and Latin America starting Feb. 6.


Netflix had said it was planning a first-quarter rollout for the show, in which the E Street Band guitarist plays a mobster reminiscent of his "Sopranos" character, Silvio Dante.

Also read: Netflix Stock Plunge: Will Reed Hastings’ Hubris Bring Down an Internet Meteor?

The one-hour show -- which is set in Lillehammer, Norway, where New York transplant Frank "The Fixer" Tagliano tries to make a new life for himself -- was developed by and is a production of Norway's Rubicon TV AS. "Lilyhammer" will also air on Norwegian TV, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos recently told TheWrap.

"It's a very quirky, funny, serious show that I think people are really going to love," he said. "It's a really fun thing to watch, because it is a really familiar character in a totally unfamiliar place. It's [like] 'Northern Exposure' meets 'Sopranos.' "

"I am very careful with my choices and this project was so exciting to me because of the wonderful writing, the rich characters and the fascinating culture of Norway," Van Zandt, who is also executive producing the show, said in a statement. "Netflix is the perfect home for such a unique show."

Among the other original series Netflix has planned is David Fincher's "House of Cards," due in the fourth quarter or early 2013. The company is also planning to relaunch "Arrested Development" next year.

Also read: Ted Sarandos: 'Negative Momentum' at Netflix Will Turn Around in December

"Lilyhammer" was created by Anne Bjornstad and Eilif Skodvin and developed by Rubicon TV AS. It was written by Bjornstad, Skodvin and Van Zandt. Trond Berg Nilsen and Agnete Thuland are producing, while Lasse Hallberg and Van Zandt are executive producing.

Here's the trailer for "Lilyhammer": http://www.thewrap.com/tv/article/netflix-locks-release-date-mobster-series-lilyhammer-34032

Monday, January 02, 2012

Carol Gorman is one lucky lady

Carol and I celebrated our Thirtieth wedding anniversary today. We kept to our long held tradition of sharing a Spam loaf and listening to me sing "You're Once, Twice, Three Times A lady." My version isn't like Lionel Richie's at all. It's more like Newman's on Seinfeld when his mail truck was on fire. My beautiful Carol rescued and redeemed me and gave me the kind of life I'd always wanted but never had. I sure do love you, honey.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Strange maybe cool film news


Helen Mirren To Play Alfred Hitchcock's Wife In 'The Making Of Psycho'?

First Posted: 8/12/11 12:33 GMT Updated: 8/12/11 12:37 GMT
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Dame Helen Mirren is apparently in talks to play Alfred Hitchcock's wife in a forthcoming biopic.

The Oscar-winning star could be portraying Alma Reville opposite Sir Anthony Hopkins as the legendary filmmaker in Sacha Gervasi's Alfred Hitchcock And The Making Of Psycho, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The film would focus on the director's passion for Psycho - despite Paramount's reported disapproval - and how he backed the movie through his own production company, built his own sets and used crew members from his TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

It would be the second film about the famed filmmaker, following The Girl starring Toby Jones and Sienna Miller.

The BBC Two drama, to be screened next year, centres on the director's obsessive relationship with leading lady Tippi Hedren.

Alfred Hitchcock And The Making Of Psycho is expected to start shooting next April.

Religious Sex-Toy Sites Vow to Save Marriages



Ed here: I thought I'd start the New Year on a positive, helpful note. I have to say I find this a much more dignified and honest pitch (seriously) than the scurrilous Christian MIngle with "Find God's match for you" or whatever. If I were a devout Christian I would find the notion of God as a pimp blasphemous.

Huffington Post:

Religious Sex-Toy Sites Vow to Save Marriages
Christian, Jewish, and Muslim entrepreneurs have launched ‘religious’ sex-toy shops online in an effort to improve pious couples’ sex lives—and strengthen the marital bond. Allison Yarrow investigates: what makes a vibrator holy?

by Allison Yarrow | December 30, 2011 4:45 AM EST
Joyce’s sex life can be divided into two acts: before and after the Turbo 8 Accelerator. 



The evangelical Christian from California’s central valley had never had an orgasm alone nor with her husband of 25 years. “I didn’t know I wasn’t having one,” the 59-year-old mother of two told The Daily Beast. Yet after chatting with some church girlfriends, she learned what she was missing. “’All that happens to you?’” she asked. “They looked at me like I was crazy.”
Joyce, who requested that we use only her first name, and her equally devout spouse never would have found the bullet-shaped vibrator or the array of “marital aids” they’ve ordered since, if it wasn’t for the Christian sex toy website Book 22—introduced to her by a friend after their chat. “I’m a Christian, but this is awesome,” she said. “It was like being newlyweds again.”
Photos: 'Holy' Sex Toys


Christian, Jewish and Muslim entrepreneurs have launched ‘religious’ sex toy shops online, in an effort to improve pious couples’ sex lives—and strengthen the marital bond. , Charles Benavidez / Getty Images

Sex and religion have long been perceived to be at odds, with carnal pleasures representing sin more than saintliness. Yet in recent years, a handful of savvy Christian, Jewish and Muslim entrepreneurs have embraced the notion that the two can coexist in a way that jibes with doctrine—and even glorifies traditional values by strengthening marriages.
Enter the religious sex-toy industry, which carefully markets and sells a range of sexual-pleasure products to the faithful. With the voice and disposition of a summer-camp director, Joy Wilson founded Book 22 a decade ago, when she had trouble “getting her body to respond” to her husband after their second child, and her online search for remedies yielded scandalous imagery that offended more than it helped. The pioneering site, named after the Biblical book also known as the Song of Solomon, now faces growing competition from rival vendors including Hooking Up Holy, Intimacy of Eden, and Covenant Spice.

And the industry grew exponentially this fall with the launch of the Orthodox Jewish shop Kosher Sex Toys, and last year with the Muslim vendor El Asira. The sites even enjoy the support of many community leaders. “Religious people do it like everybody else,” said David Ribner, a rabbi and sex therapist based in Israel, who works as a consultant for Kosher Sex Toys. “Why shouldn’t they have access to toys that make their lives more satisfying?”

To be clear, the “religious people” targeted are married, heterosexual religious people; pious sex-toy vendors market their products exclusively to these couples. Unlucky in love and looking for some solitary fun after morning prayers? Look elsewhere.

What happens in the heterosexual marital bed, however, should be nothing short of transcendent, say the site owners, who happily report that their holy books not only permit sexual fulfillment between partners, but require it. “If a man is unable to please a woman in bed, she can divorce him,” said Abdelaziz Aouragh, a 30-year-old Dutch Muslim businessman who founded El Asira—stressing the Islamic belief that “man and woman must reach their peak” during intercourse, and that only then is the “deed complete.”

The burgeoning niche, part of the roughly $15 billion sex-toy industry, reports that business has been steadily growing, with most sites shipping a few hundred orders per month. Clients usually find them through Google, say the owners, or a thoughtful religious leader or astute sex therapist. The vendors use many of the same distributors as secular shops, with most products made in China. Gavriel, a 25-year-old furniture salesman who owns Kosher Sex Toys (and asked that we use only his middle name) stressed in an interview, “There’s nothing wrong with having all the sex you want.” 


To an outsider, visiting the religious sites feels a bit like listening to the bleeped-out version of an explicit hip-hop song: the substance is the same, it’s just missing the X-rated details. None of the sites feature any nudity, instead relying on mannequins to display lingerie. Nor do they feature any sexy language. Kosher Sex Toys, for example, rewrites product descriptions that risk shocking its audience. (The “Butterfly Clitoris Stimulator” becomes, simply, the “Vibrating Stimulator.”) And while they don’t flaunt their holiness, they’ll occasionally rely on religious messaging to sell themselves, or perhaps put potential customers at ease. Book 22, for example, promises to “enhance the intimate life of all God’s children.”

The “piousness” of the products themselves comes down to packaging and presentation. Book 22’s Wilson, who is 22 and lives in central Oregon, repackages plastics in plain boxes and includes additional care instructions. Kosher Sex Toys’s Gavriel also removes items from offensive packaging before shipping. Meanwhile, El Asira’s Aouragh only stocks brands that arrive in tasteful and inoffensive wrappings.

Despite consistencies across the religious sites, the vendors do vary based on doctrine, audience, and each owner’s preferences. Wilson refuses to sell anal devices and condoms, not because she objects, but because her customers do. “The Catholics protested the condoms, and the evangelical Christian community is sensitive about anal sex and play,” she said. “But I’ll special order anything if people ask.”

Aouragh, who rejects the term “sex shop,” preferring to say that he’s in the business of “sexual well-being,” sells only Sharia-compliant items. Meaning: no vibrators, dildos, or drugs that claim to enhance size or use, because these items misinterpret the male form. The homepage for El Asira, which means “The Society” in Arabic, is partitioned by gender, with two ornate mosque doors—and while it carries women's lingerie and a range of massage products, oils and lubricants sell best.

Meanwhile, Kosher Sex Toys’ Gavriel won’t stock male masturbatory aids because, he says, God frowns on wasted potential, according to the Torah. However, since Judaism doesn't prohibit female self-pleasure, he carries myriad trinkets that buzz. He also proudly sells whips and drip candles; performance-enhancing pills and sprays; clear-heeled shoes and thigh-high boots; and a variety of handcuffs, restraints, and tools for cutting them off.

"You can’t buy love and respect between a man and a woman," said Aouragh. "But we’re trying to be creative and clever in selling it."

And at least one customer is grateful for this inventory. Yaakov, a 25-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish salesman from New Jersey who preferred not to use his last name, views the site as a godsend. Shortly into his marriage, he discovered that he suffered from premature ejaculation, and his therapist, who works with many Orthodox couples, prescribed him “marital aids,” and directed him to Kosher Sex Toys. Without getting into detail, Yaakov told The Daily Beast simply, “It should be considered a mitzvah to use these things.”

 Of course, many religious leaders and worshipers disagree. Rabbi Avi Shafran, who works in communications at an Orthodox communal organization in New York City, said in an email that Kosher Sex Toys is “about as immodest—in the definition of the Jewish religious tradition—as one can get.” He describes Judaism's stance on sexual intimacy as “sublime” and “holy,” but believes toys taint this intention.

Indeed, navigating ingrained religious beliefs, and misconceptions, about sex and pleasure poses a continuous challenge for site owners, who have either taken it upon themselves to advise clients or enlisted the help of experts. Wilson pursued a master's degree in counseling to better help her customers. And Kosher Sex Toys keeps the rabbi and sex therapist Ribner on call as a licensed authority on both sex and scripture. Because of a lack of proper sex education, Ribner said, religious couples often suffer from misguided advice. “One couple was told that if the woman does not like sex, she should take two Tylenol and finish as quickly as possible,” he said. In his work with Kosher Sex Toys, he has advised on topics ranging from the science of erectile dysfunction to the morality of spanking a partner.

Ultimately, across religions, owners share the same lofty goal: to help fellow (married) worshipers find happiness and peace behind closed doors. “You can’t buy love and respect between a man and a woman,” said Aouragh. “But we’re trying to be creative and clever in selling it.”

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