Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
|LEADING MAN? John Bernthal in 'Mob City'|
I've made mention of it here before... It seems that every TV network wants a piece of that retro pie. This time, TNT is throwing its hat into the ring with their ambitious three-week event 'Mob City' that's scheduled to air Dec. 4. Based on the John Buntin non-fiction book 'L.A. Noir,' the six-episode drama depicts the Los Angeles department's secret unit of cops and the brutal (and famous) gangsters of the post-war/pre-rock and roll era. I've managed to snag a screener of the first episode and I've come to a few conclusions and raise some appropriate questions.
THE LEADING MANJon Hamm. Steve Buscemi. Jeffrey Dean Morgan. As the anti-heros (and respective leads) of their own vintage cable dramas, these thesps effortlessly carry their show. They're the soul and even though STARZ cancelled 'Magic City,' Morgan was certainly the glue that held that ill-fated show together(one can easily imagine him fitting in perfectly here).
Executive producer Frank Darabont (who met his leading man while he was the showrunner on 'The Walking Dead') has mentioned that veteran TV actor Jon Bernthal harkens back to the rugged leading men of film noir. When I read that, the record scratched off in my head. Physically, sure, Bernthal may ideal in a scrappy kind of way but I can't see him charismatically carrying this show as former WWII marine Joe Teague, now a grizzled LAPD detective. He's the second banana and a damned good one at that. He's not the guy I think of when I look for the poster child for my show. Even more odd (stay with me) is that when I found out he rubbed his head on 'The Walking Dead' what seemed like every episode nervously, I really made up my mind. Unfair? Maybe. Was it a character trait or weird acting tick? Click here to make up your mind. Either way, he's not the Russell Crowe Darabont may think he is.
|IS HE BUGSY? Can Ed Burns pull it off?|
THE BUGSY FACTORI don't want to get hung up on casting again but Edward Burns as famed gangster Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel? Really? I'll be honest... Bugsy is a hard role to cast because not only was he movie star handsome, he was a vicious killer. On the big screen, Warren Beatty as the Las Vegas visionary was also a head-scratcher and Richard Grieco in 'Mobsters' was downright laughable. You can't just cast a haircut... There needs to be menace.
In his defense, Burns didn't show up in the pilot so I can't say whether he's any good but I'm hoping he'll surprise me. Up to now, he's always been an actor-director stuck in his mid-90s groove of New York bars and witty banter. Fun fact: Thomas Jane (who starred in Darabont's 'The Mist') was originally supposed to portray Siegel. We even see him in character via photographs during episode 1. When the show got picked up, Jane had another acting commitment so the gig went to Burns.
As an aside, as far as Bugsy portrayals are concerned, late actor Ray Sharkey delivered a bravura performance as a character based on the gangster in the 1989 Showtime miniseries 'The Neon Empire,' written by novelist and legendary journalist Pete Hammill. If you can find it on VHS, snag yourself a copy.
FAMILIAR TURFWe've been down this road before and the results have proven woefully uneven. Last year's "Gangster Squad" was pretty much two hours of Sean Penn chewing up chunks of scenery; Josh Brolin squinting and Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone playing dress up for the school play 'Guys and Dolls.'
This particular era of Los Angeles and its underbelly is difficult to recreate - especially with CGI. The aesthetic needs to be real or else it all just begins to look like a video game. Wanna see it done right? Look no further than 1997's "L.A. Confidential." Does 'Mob City' nail it? I'd say they're on the right track.
WHERE'S THE FEMME FATALE?A noir is only as good as it's lady and we barely catch a glimpse of actress Alexa Davalos in the pilot. Here's hoping we see much more of her because after all, without a lethal dame, who gives a rat's patooty about gangsters, right?
SO WHAT'S GOING FOR ITThe pedigree of Darabont is hard to overlook and it's obvious he assembled a top notch supporting cast that includes Neal McDonough, Hal Morrison, Milo Ventimiglia and Jeremy Luke.
There isn't a more seductive era than vintage Los Angeles and if Darabont can infuse its landscape into the show ala Michael Mann and 'Miami Vice,' he can't lose.
In the pilot, Simon Pegg is a standout as a low-rent club comic Hecky Nash who has a bone to pick with the mob. Who knew the guy had dramatic chops?
BUT IS IT NOIR?What's my verdict? 'Mob City' tries reallly hard. Sure, it has moody narration, a flawed, hard-boiled hero and enough shadows to make you squint. But is it bonafide noir? As far as the pilot is concerned, let's just say that 'Mob City' is the Domino's pizza franchise that just opened smack dab in the middle of Florence, Italy. The ingredients are there, sure... But sometimes you just want a gritty, old-school pie.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
|My inner-noir tough guy when I spoke with crime writer Paul D. Brazill.|
As part of the rollout of my FIGHT CARD novella 'Front Page Palooka,' I chatted with prolific blogger and crime writer Paul Brazill (author of the great 'Roman Dalton, Werewolf, P.I.' among others).
In our zippy interview, we chat about my Bogie-inspired newshound, Nick Moretti – charming, yet cynical, burned-out, whiskey-sodden – the kinda old-school guy who makes sure the right hand knows exactly what the left hand is doing.
We also talk about the creative process I used while writing the book and some uncommon forms of inspiration.
'Front Page Palooka' has it all... dames, dives, and hard-punching attitude so if you're in the mood for some serious hard-boiled pulp, this tale drips more whiskey than a busted Prohibition hooch barrel.
Read the interview HERE and check out the cool book trailer HERE.
Friday, October 11, 2013
It's finally here's folks... It's been a looooong time coming and the primary reason that I haven't kept this godforsaken blog updated. MY BOOK HAS ARRIVED. I hope it was worth the wait. If you dig pulp fiction, noir and anything hard-boiled, than this boxing tale is for you.
|The e-book cover for FRONT PAGE PALOOKA|
Newark, New Jersey, 1954
Years of fight halls and newsrooms have East Coast sportswriter, Nick Moretti, looking for a change. When a sloppy hustle goes bad, and Nick takes a bullet in the shoulder, it’s time to go west. Hired by Pinnacle Pictures to write a boxing movie about troubled heavyweight champ Jericho ‘Rattlesnake’ McNeal, Nick joins forces with sexy public relations gal, Dillian Dawson, for a cross-country tour to give an everyman boxer an unlikely shot at the world title – what could go wrong?
From the crackling neon of Hollywood and Sin City, through the steamy Delta, and on to Chi-Town, the glitzy dream becomes a noir nightmare, and newshound Nick Moretti is about to commit a reporter’s greatest sin – becoming a Front Page Palooka … Another great two-fisted Fight Card tale!
The e-book will have the unifying pen name of Jack Tunney. A print edition (arriving later will have my name). Who else has written a FIGHT CARD book? Authors such as Eric Beetner, David Foster, Kevin Michaels, and Heath Lowrance have all penned entries in the series alongside more established names in the field such as Wayne D. Dundee, Robert Randisi and series creators Paul Bishop, and Mel Odom. Also included in the Fight Card series are two spin-off brands, Fight Card MMA and Fight Card Romance.
The books in the Fight Card series are 25,000 word novelettes, designed to be read in one or two sittings, and are inspired by the fight pulps of the '30s and '40s - such as Fight Stories Magazine - and Robert E. Howard's two-fisted boxing tales featuring Sailor Steve Costigan
To check out the book on AMAZON, click HERE.
Friday, August 16, 2013
Happy birthday to novelist and poet of skid row - Charles Bukowski - who was born on this day in 1920 ... To celebrate,once again, let's take another look at the incredible Bukowski documentary "Born into This," streaming in its entirety.
~Thanks, Hank, for all the inspiration you've given us...
As a bonus, check out this heartfelt short film based on Bukowski's poem "Nirvana." The melancholy postcard film is directed by Patrick Biesemans.
Monday, August 12, 2013
|I learned many things about the book writing process, namely it should have taken me less time.|
I just submitted my completed manuscript for the FIGHT CARD novella 'Union of the Snakes' to Paul Bishop for editing. It will be out later this year (perhaps Fall) and I will keep everyone updated with details regarding its release. That said, I want to share eighteen observations that I made about my writing process, specifically for this project.
1. It should have taken me less time. Far less time.
2. The reason why it may have taken me so long is that I'm an awesome procrastinator. I've elevated the pastime to an Olympic-level sport.
3. YouTube, Facebook and whatever cheesy reality show that happened to be on television was my chief antagonist during the novella writing process. If I actually liked Twitter, THAT would be my enemy, too.
4. Working at a newspaper all day doesn't help the creative process. Many nights, I came home devoid of the will to put theoretical pen to paper.
5. You can conceive, write and complete a novella on weekends in a chain coffee shop. Yes, I'm THAT guy.
6. I've come to respect my fellow writers who knock out their e-books - one after another - and make it look effortless. I bow to you all.
7. If you can pardon the cliche, I just tried to write the book that I, myself, would want to read.
8. The more I write, the absolute less I read. In fact, I try not to read much of anything while I'm writing. Quite simply, I don't want another scribe's voice in my head.
9. UNION OF THE SNAKES was written entirely in the cloud. Sure, a local copy was saved on my main laptop, but whenever I switched computers, it was waiting for me, no matter where I was. My primary service was SKYDRIVE with a backup on Google Drive and Dropbox. On days when I didn't feel like lugging out the laptop, the writing was done using the same services on my iPad and a GREAT app called IA Writer.
|The one, the only Fred MacMurray|
10. Nothing gets me in the mood to write more than an old film noir. If Bogie's in it, all the better. If it's Fred MacMurray, I'm in Nirvana.
11. To prepare for this FIGHT CARD novella, I must've watched about 100 film-noirs, neo-noirs and just your all-around basic hard-boiled crime classics -- all on a loop. Truth be told, I got something from each and every one of them.
12. Sometimes I found research to be a fun and necessary distraction. My story is set in various locales in 1954 - namely Hollywood and Chicago - so I really wanted to ensure that I had a strong sense of historical context.
13. Thank God, I don't outline. The journey would have been way less fun if I really knew where it was all going.
14. Music, above all, really is a chief muse of mine. Especially music of the era I'm writing. Jazz, jump blues and onion ballads really fed this beast.A Spotify playlist for 'Union of the Snakes' was my main inspiration.
15. As someone who has embraced to hard-boiled/noir genre, I've come to love first person narrative. In fact, I have a newfound respect for it.
16. I'll be honest... Every now and then, tense tripped me up if I wasn't on my toes. I found my character saying things he couldn't possibly say.
17. As I was writing, I came to the realization that if you're not matriculating on more than one form of social media, you might as well be placing stamps on a hand-written query letter. The pimping of your book comes long before you write 'THE END.'
18. Hemingway was right: "The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck."
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
|Noir grandfather Raymond Chandler would have been 125 years old.|
Raymond Chandler, one of of noir's most influential and prolific writers would have turned 125 on July 23. To celebrate the man and his legacy, enjoy the following 'gifts' ...
A BEHIND-THE-SCENES DOCUMENTARY ON THE MAKING OF 'DOUBLE INDEMNITY'
Enjoy this 37-minute treasure trove of the quintessential film noir 'Double Indemnity,' co-written by Chandler and director Billy Wilder. The 1946 film was based on James M. Cain's novel of the same name. The script was nominated for an Academy Award.
THE 'MARLOWE' RADIO SHOWS
This is just pure gold for anyone who enjoys the old radio shows of yesteryear. Enjoy the following shows that ran from the late-forties to the early fifties, starring both Van Heflin and Gerald Mohr as the hard-boiled shamus.
'THE LONG GOODBYE' THEME
Elliott Gould starred as the unlikely Philip Marlowe in 1973's neo-noir "The Long Goodbye," directed by the legendary Robert Altman (I loved it). Love it or hate it, the theme song was more than catchy.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
|Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Olga Kurylenko as Ike and Vera Evans in 'Magic City.'|
The fact of the matter was that the show had so much going for it that it was a shame to see it lack in such key areas.
The freshman show, set in glamorous Miami Beach circa 1959, was easily picked up for a second season and after watching the first few episodes, I can hopefully shed some light as to whether it has improved, what works and what still needs attention.
For a limited time, you can watch the second season premiere HERE for free.
This season, Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is still trying desperately to rid his Miramar Playa Hotel from the grips of co-owner Ben “The Butcher” Diamond (Danny Huston) and hatches a plan that has him dealing with other unsavory types that come in all shapes and sizes, including dealings with Havana’s glamorous casino underworld and Chicago gangster Sy Berman (James Caan).
As Ike concentrates on his hotel empire, his two grown sons Stevie (Steven Straight)and Danny (Christian Cooke) gravitate in polar opposite directions. Stevie begins to feel the powerful bloodlust of the underworld as moral law student Danny is reeled in by the halls of justice and State Attorney Jack Klein.
With Castro’s Cuba sending shock-waves through the nation, the Evans family begins to feel the ripple effects. Will Ike’s long-shot gamble to take back his hotel succeed?
* THE LEADING MAN. I said it last year and echo it here again. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is the glue that holds this show together. He's not just another TV actor-for-hire, his portrayal as Ike, the upstanding (yet semi-dark) hotelier pulled in a thousand directions is, for my money, one of the best male leads on network or cable television. It's truly a shame he'll probably be overshadowed once again by similar strong leads such as John Hamm's Don Draper of AMC's "Mad Men" and Steve Buscemi's Nucky Thompson of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire."
* THE LOOK. It seems these days most cache networks have to have their period piece ala "Mad Men" and "Boardwalk Empire." Many have chalked off "Magic City" as a poor man's 'Empire' and, to a certain extent, they're right. Both are set in a tourist town ('Empire is set in 1920s Atlantic City, NJ). Both delve into the era's shady, back-room politics. Both are on pay channels and can drop as many F-bombs as they want with strong sexual content. You get the idea. "Magic City" continues to be one of the most gorgeous shows on television with top-notch art direction that captures the mid-century, atomic era perfectly.
|Chicago gangster Sy Berman (James Caan) chats with Ben Diamond (Danny Huston)|
* JIMMY CAAN. It's Sonny Corleone!! We all know how awesome James Caan is and the fact that he's on "Magic City" can only help the show. Period. We last saw Caan on television when he starred as Ed Deline, the tough-as-nails casino security big shot on the NBC drama "Las Vegas." Every week, Caan managed to elevate his lackluster material and I can only hope that he does the same as Sy Berman, the Chicago gangster who actually manages to make Ben Diamond slightly nervous (no small task).
*THE DAMES. Both Kelly Lynch as socialite Meg Bannock (who has ties to the Evans family)and Olga Kurylenko as Ike Evan's Cuban dancer wife Vera simply enchant the screen.
* THE VET. Alex Rocco (another alum of "The Godfather") is still a standout as Arthur Evans, Ike's dad.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK
* WEAK VILLAIN. Call me a hater but I still can't get behind Danny Huston as Ben Diamond. I'm not sure if it's his over-the-top delivery or his cornball dialogue. Either way, Houston's pit bull gangster comes straight out of Mafia 101.
* PAPER DOLLS. Look,I get it. I know we're in the land of Starz where everyone looks like they jumped out of a magazine but for the love of Pete, cast some actors that look like us regular Joes. Part of the reason that both "Boardwalk Empire" and Mad Men" work is their casts don't like like they've jumped off the pages of Vogue or Tiger Beat.
* THE SEX THING. I may catch heat for this but the sex in "Magic City" does seem gratuitous and much of it is totally unnecessary. And Ben Diamond's whole cuckold thing? That's just plain dumb. Do we really need to see he's a sexual deviant to believe he's a psychopath? "Magic City" is not alone in this. Last year, "Boardwalk Empire" delved into the very same territory with Gyp Rosetti's (Bobby Cannavalle) choking fetish. Again, very dopey.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
OY VEY, THE DIALOGUE. I called out the dialogue last year and I'm sorry to say, it's only improved marginally. Mind you, I've only seen the first few of season two and there is a slight improvement. Still, we get these zingers:
"You ever wonder why they call me 'The Butcher'?"
"No matter how far you run, you aways find yourself back where you started."
- Meg Bannock
"God, I should be illegal. Shit, I am illegal."
- Judi Silver
"I see things as they are. I had to. I grew up in this world. Your world."
- Danny Evans
What can I say? Despite its obvious shortcomings, I'm still giddy for "Magic City." I'd probably be even more giddy if I didn't put such high expectations on the show, which I hoped would bring much more to the table. Moving forward through this second season, I'll know better not to expect more than my weekly dose of great suits, period music and run-of-mill gangster fare. I'll leave the heavy lists for HBO and AMC.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
I don't bowl, yet anyone that knows me will quickly admit that I love bowling shirts (a weakness). I'm not in a league and I don't plan to be anytime soon.
So why am I even bringing this up? I recently attended a birthday party for one of my little guy's school mates at a local bowling alley and I must admit that it was quite an experience.
Before I go any further, let me just say that a bowling alley is the dumbest place to have a kiddie party for rabid five year-olds. They have no coordination; the balls are way too heavy, even the lightest ones; the bumpers rarely work and quite frankly, toddlers get bored by the third frame after waiting up to 8- or 9- minutes between turns. Horrible place to celebrate birthdays if your favorite show is "SpongeBob Squarepants." Just saying.
In any case, I knew we'd be camped there a while so I settled in. Bear in mind that I haven't been in a bowling alley since the late Reagan administration and what struck me as most peculiar was that this particular bowling alley pretty much looked the same. I started to suspect that would be the case for most of them. The time warp willies were upon me - so much so that you could almost smell the camaraderie of working-class guys prying open their third can of Schlitz as they discussed Ike. And then it dawned on me: There aren't many places in our daily lives that haven't evolved. Libraries. Gas stations. Supermarkets. Gyms. All evolved.
With the constant buzz of walloping pins clobbering one another over and over, I decided to take a stroll and look for some sort of change Besides installing those nifty electronic scorekeepers in each lane, this very well could've been in 1954. All the vintage hallmarks were front and center from the Pro Shop (closed, as they always seemed to be), the snack bar hawking bags of chips and hot dogs and the formica bar and its three lonely choices of brew: Bud, Michelob and Coors Light.
Stopping a moment, I looked around to see people on this very early Sunday afternoon. they were all having fun, laughing, and immediately I remembered the last time that I adorned bowling shoes. It was a more innocent time. It was long before iPhones, 9-11 and the first Gulf war. The Berlin Wall was still standing, compact discs were cutting edge and a phone call ran you a dime. You could find a 24-hour diner much easier in those days and and a gallon of gas was cheaper than a bottle of Snapple. That's what this odd afternoon reminded me of - A SIMPLER TIME. Simple? Perhaps.
I may be aging myself but, in a weird way, the sounds and smells of that crisp weekend afternoon were oddly comforting. There was no Sandy Hook, Hurricane Sandy or fiscal cliff concerns. I was in a timeless bowling alley and for a some moment, all was well in the land. All I needed now was some Elvis and it would be bliss.
But then the birthday cake came and the kiddies began to scream and my retro fantasy took a dive.
One thing is certain as these kiddies become adults and pass through time: Bowling alleys don't change and here's hoping they never will.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
“I’m a writer. I think, I type, I drink. Lather, rinse, repeat. Far as I’m concerned, art’s just a guy from Brooklyn.”
– Hank Moody
I must admit that "Californication" (which returned last Sunday on Showtime for a sixth season) escaped me when it debuted in the summer of 2007. Truthfully, it seems like an eternity ago. After all, Showtime wasn't exactly the place you went to for cutting-edge TV. Or so I thought.
At the time, bragging rights for edgy and quality TV belonged exclusively to HBO. And as for AMC, their quality drama "Mad Men" only premiered two months before and "Breaking Bad" had yet to even air. "The Walking Dead" was a mere pipe-dream at that point.
I suppose the biggest reason that "Californication" wasn't on my radar was that it just reeked of senseless T&A with the lines blurring between star David Duchovny's real-life sexual addiction and main character Hank Moody. The promos didn't help. In fact, it wasn't doing the show any favors. Those materials made the show seem like a low-rent "Entourage," which was in the middle of it's successful seven year run. It seemed like a no-brainer. If you wanted a breezy, Hollywood-set dramedy chock full of sun, sex and Hollywood satire, HBO is just where one went.
Again, was I wrong. My deepest apologies to showrunner Tom Kapinos.
So what's it about exactly? I'll quote guest star Rob Lowe, who portrays bonkers A-list actor Eddie Nero, as he describes protagonist Hank's Moody novel "Fucking and Punching." In essence, he nailed it: "It's about a guy trying to keep it together while falling apart. It's about life, love, sex and the ever-lurking presence of the grim fucking reaper. ... it's about the motherfucking dark side." THAT'S "CALIFORNICATION."
After blazing through all five seasons in under a month, I'm come down to the conclusion that it's woefully underrated. Silly tits and ass aside, it can be both damned hilarious and downright poignant. Here's five reasons why:
I wasn't a fan of "The X-Files" and truthfully have never really absorbed anything with Duchovny so I had no frame of reference. As New York transplant and novelist Hank Moody, Duchovny explodes in the role as the poor man's Bukowski who cavorts his way through a town he truly despises.
The actor plays his writer as the guy every man wants to be. Handsome, careless, reckless (plus he can order a drink cooler than any character on TV). Hank loves his whiskey. Women flock to him. He doesn't care much about anything and, above all, the one-liners seem to flow easily. He's the most likeable prick on TV. To quote his baby mama Karen (the gorgeous Natascha McElhone), he's a "fabulous fuck up."
Since the debut, Duchovny has been nominated for a slew of awards as Moody and took home the Best Actor in a Comedy Golden Globe in 2007.
Enjoy this scene in which Hank tries to diplomatically break up with season five main squeeze Carrie (Natalie Zea of "Justified").
KAREN AND HANK
At the heart of "Californication" is the on- and off-again relationship between Hank and Karen (McElhone), the earnest mother of his daughter. Hank's love for Karen is deeply profound and to a fault. The show excels and strays as far away from comedy as one can imagine when these two try to navigate the waters of coexisting - especially when it comes to their teenage daughter Becca (the droll Madeleine Martin).
Take in this scene (a favorite) from the season 3 finale in which Hank confesses to Karen about something awful that he's done - something much, much worse than mere cheating. It's simply one of the most powerful scenes, sans dialogue, that I've ever seen on TV.
As Hank's agent Charlie Runkle, Evan Handler is a comic genius. Think of sad sack Runkle as the anti-Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), the uber-agent on "Entourage." Where Ari had bravura, Runkle is the sap. Who else but Runkle would get fired for chronic masturbation? At the heart of his character, though, is his deep caring for Hank, whom he always looks out for. Their goofy friendship is one of the main backbones of the show.
Enjoy this scene in which Runkle admits something a tad twisted to Hank. For shits and giggles, watch THIS.
"Californication" boasts stupendous guest stars: Rob Lowe shows up as a very Brad Pitt-like A-list actor; Rick Springfield as an asshole version of himself; Carla Gugino as a vampy defense attorney; Justine Bateman as a MILFY mom; Drea D'Matteo as a batshit crazy stripper; Kathleen Turner as a grizzled agent; and RZA as hip-hop mogul and rapper.
Enjoy this scene where insane Eddie Nero explains "the motherfucking dark side" to Hank and why he likes him so much.
HANK THE LETTER WRITER
No one can craft a letter like Hank Moody. It seems that when he's is at his worst or when he truly feels either misunderstood or boxed in, he turns to his typewriter and crafts a good, old-fashioned letter, an act he says is "A lost art... Like hand jobs."
Enjoy these three quick videos in which we see hank crafting said letters as well as the fallout from one of them.
Again, "Californication" excels, for me at least, when it takes a turn towards the dramatic.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
If you don't know bourbon-soaked scribe Willis Gordon, it's about time you did.
I've had the pleasure of being in his company as an Revolutionary Voice over at Adam Schirling's Drunken Absurdity, the underground (and underrated) sanctuary and asylum for writers and poets. Upon reading perusing his work, I became interested in his voice almost immediately.
Hailing from Canton, Ohio, Gordon is a veteran of the United States Armed Forces (Navy) — and shit, let's just thank him for that. When he isn't scribbling in Moleskines, he is also a biting political columnist and essayist where no one is safe. The moment he referred to undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. as a "spoilsport prick" in an interview with Horror, Sleaze, Trash, I was further hooked. The man is simply not afraid to call it as he sees it.
His first two books, 'The Long Road Home' and 'The Empty Boulevards' are available at Amazon (in both digital and print form). Check 'em out. His next effort, 'Cowards and Thieves: Sex Drugs Politics and the Search for American Salvation' is due out in Fall 2013.
For more, visit his blog, 'Like' his Facebook fan page or follow him on Twitter.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
I've been tardy this year with my 'Boardwalk Empire' recaps re-posted here on Monday mornings. While they all live at NJ.com (my day gig) via The Star-Ledger, I've normally posted them here every week since the show debuted in 2010.
Alas, here are the links to all of the episode recaps in season 3. They're chock full of historical information, videos, music from the era and a lively forum.
As always, enjoy...
Season 3, Episode 1
Season 3, Episode 2
Season 3, Episode 3
Season 3, Episode 4
Season 3, Episode 5
Season 3, Episode 6
Season 3, Episode 7
Season 3, Episode 8
Season 3, Episode 9
Season 3, Episode 10
Season 3, Episode 11
Season 3, Episode 12
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Greetings one and all.
As you may have noticed, I haven't updated Bukowski's Basement for quite some time. Between being harried at the day job and gathering thoughts and research for my upcoming Fight Card novella 'Union of the Snakes,’ things have been getting dusty round these parts. For that I apologize.
Funny enough, the daily traffic here has maintained a steady level of visitors (261,000+ page views). Reason? I can only assume there's a healthy selection of posts to keep new visitors busy and old ones entertained. Well that and I suppose good ‘ol fashioned search engine optimization where a few standout posts have been ranked high by Google.
That particular fact has brought me to an interesting question to ponder: Some time ago, I was having a conversation with a writer colleague online. We were chatting about maintaining blogs to which I was told, "Blogs are dead..."
At the time, the statement didn’t register but ever since, the more I thought about it, the more I discovered there may have been something to it.
Look, the great thing about blogging is that there'll always be a need for interesting, thought-provoking, informational or humorous content. Bearing this in mind, however, it’s a no-brainer (to me at least) that casual bloggers an the dawn of 2013 don't present their content the same way anymore.
There’s been an evolution.
Back in 2008 when I started Bukowski's Basement, it was the perfect home for a YouTube video I wanted my readers to see or an aggregation to a particular news story or blog post that I found compelling.
Then convergence happened shortly after.
Again, over the past few years, I noticed a shift in blogging patterns from many of my writer friends as well as myself. Funny thing, I don’t think many of us were aware the tide was turning.
|Our blogging visibility online is now fueled by social networks.|
Are you that person who posts funny cat memes on Facebook or tweets your every waking thought while stuck in traffic? During the election, were you a politico propaganda machine? You get where I’m going...
Through our updates and tweets, we become and cultivate a brand whether we like it or not and, as writers, it’s important to maintain a level of exposure and engagement that will ultimately drive traffic to our blogs as well as give a hint to readers what we’re all about.
It’s simple math. Need more proof? As long as everyone on the planet has a smartphone in their pocket, they're taking their online lives with them. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. That fact that I've connected with so many writers on social networks allows me to follow their musings so much more than I would I were still poking around their sites on blog news readers. What’s more, I’m finding we're using these said social networks - Twitter, Facebook or even Google Plus - to share the tidbits we'd be normally putting on our blogs in years past. Someone who does this brilliantly is Paul Bishop of the stupendous pulp crime fiction blog Bish’s Beat.
Again, it's all about convergence.
It’s no shock that Facebook and Twitter are the top-tier networks. Second-tier upstarts like Pinterest, tumblr, Instagram all can feed into a top-tier network cleanly. In addition, Google Plus and YouTube are joined at the hip and do a respectable job knocking on each other’s door. So what am I getting at? It’s easier than ever to build a visible platform as a writer on a social network so when we DO have content (#FridayFlash etc), readers may be more apt to visit your page.
EVOLUTION AFTER DECLINE?
Before you think this is some half-cocked Jerry Maguire food-poisoning memo, I'm not saying that writers shouldn't have blogs. Absolutely not. There's always be a need for a self-promotional home base to pimp a sample chapter of a new work, essay, book or film review, poem or even a weekly flash fiction piece. This is where I still think blogs shine - when we, as content creators, have premium material to share.
But let's face it, keeping up with blog reading has become a chore for most and it's much easier to peruse a Facebook news feed or twitter scroll than to muddle through a Google news reader backed up with weeks of unread blog posts. So, yes, in the traditional sense, blogs may be on the ropes.
Social Media Influence may have said it best:
"Last month we looked at growth trends for each of the big social media publishing channels, namely, Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Not all of you agreed with our conclusion: that blogging is an activity that, at best, is leveling off. At worst, it’s an activity in decline. The New York Times is now jumping on this discussion meme, declaring that today’s twentysomethings no longer blog, a further sign that fewer people can find the time."They go on:
"...Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family."Boom! Waning writer momentum coupled with new (and easier) consumption methods are drastically changing the blogging landscape.
Noticing, even The New York Times has weighed in:
"Blogs went largely unchallenged until Facebook reshaped consumer behavior with its all-purpose hub for posting everything social. Twitter, which allows messages of no longer than 140 characters, also contributed to the upheaval."
... No longer did Internet users need a blog to connect with the world. They could instead post quick updates to complain about the weather, link to articles that infuriated them, comment on news events, share photos or promote some cause — all the things a blog was intended to do."So as writers, what do we do now that blogs are not as popular as they once were?
That’s easy. Build a compelling presence across a few social media platforms. Engage with readers and writer friends alike. Retweet them. Engage friends on Facebook (that all helps with their own algorithm). Build a compelling profile akin to your work as a scribe. Become a respectable content creator (and sharer) that people look forward to seeing. You're a curator just as much as you are a writer.
Need an example? There isn't a writer currently that I think does this better than author Caleb J. Ross. The guy is simply everywhere and he makes sure that all roads lead to Rome – his more than impressive web page and yes, his own blog. He does a stupendous job of being visible on social networks so his blog can thrive. In short, he's easy to stalk.
Above all, it’s important to keep writing. Share your own links and your blog traffic shouldn't suffer too much.
So there it is... Are blogs dead? Maybe the way we initially thought them to be. They’re still there but nowadays, we must ensure that our visibility online cultivates the kind of traffic we want.
So with all this said, I'd love to hear and discuss other writer's opinions regarding their own blogging practices or how others are adapting on this emerging online landscape. Sound off below and feel free to share...
Friday, October 5, 2012
It was about two years ago when I found it buried within the walls of the attic as if it had been left behind by mistake. Looking back now, it had to be on purpose. Someone a lifetime ago wanted the doll gone and I let it out with one swing of a sledgehammer.
Don't get me wrong. The doll wasn't Chucky. At least that red headed little bastard had a sense of humor. Mine was just creepy. Odd things had a way of happening around the doll. Like the time the bookcase nearly crushed the puppy. Or when the fishbowl spilled near the outlet.
Or my heart attack.
I felt it's presence almost from the moment I would walk into the house. And call me crazy, but a few times I would swear that it changed outfits overnight. One afternoon about a year ago, I decided to toss it into a drum and burn it along with the autumn leaves. A cat howled in the distance. It was that little baby kind of howl that makes your skin itch with fear. But the doll was gone.
My friends all said I was nuts. Afraid of a little doll. If I had a family, I'm sure they'd say the same thing. But in my defense, the sun started shining again. My house felt nimble after a long dry spell. Eventually, I even finished the attic.
The first mistake I made was not going to Ikea or some big box furniture outlet. I decided that antiques would finish the room better than that Swedish bullcrap wood. When I first saw the doll in the vintage shop, I went numb. Was this really happening and was I actually buying it? It was all kind of hazy after that.
I remember throwing it onto the front seat and fastening its seat belt as if she were alive. After that, I blasted my radio. The one thing I can recall was the smell of chicken from the Cluck-Amuck Chicken stand. I remember wanting some but the doll told me no. Maybe she was Chucky after all.
At least, that's the last thought I had before I hit that telephone pole.
Music: 'A Taunting Voice' by DÃ¸d Beverte. It can be downloaded HERE