NEW FICTION: Bourbon & Blondes has arrived!

From the bus stations of Rt. 66 to the smoky, neon-tinged jazz dives of the big cities, these wanton tales of longing introduce us to vixens on the fringe and those shifty men that drove them there.

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Watch: The 'Bourbon & Blondes' Book Trailer

Get your shot glass ready because you're about to enter a retro world of showgirls, drifters, barmaids and thieves.

The eternal question for scribes?

In this new social media landscape, the question becomes: Is blogging dead? It just may be...

Watch: The 'Front Page Palooka' Book Trailer

Read the pulp novella that one reviewer called 'A potboiler in the style of old school writers like Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler...'

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Scarface (1983 film)

I'll assume some are living under a rock. "Scarface" is the epic 1983 crime drama directed by Brian De Palma, written by then-screenwriter Oliver Stone and starring Al Pacino as the over-the-top Tony Montana.

Based on Howard Hawks' original 1932 classic of the same name, it centers on fictional Cuban refugee Montana who comes to Florida in 1980 as a result of the Mariel Boatlift. Montana becomes a gangster against the backdrop of the 1980s cocaine boom. The film chronicles his rise to the top of Miami's criminal underworld and subsequent downfall in tragic Greek fashion. Oliver Stone has even gone on to say that he thinks Michael Mann "borrowed" much of the aesthetic of "Scarface" for the landmark TV show "Miami Vice."

The critical response to "Scarface" was genuinely positive even though it received some backlash for its violence and graphic language. Despite that, it has since gathered a phenomenal cult following.

The film has become an important cultural icon, inspiring posters, clothing, and many other references. The film's grainy black and white poster is a very popular decoration and is still in production, and as a result of its popularity has been parodied many times.

And now ... We have little kiddies performing it in front of a packed auditorium. Funny or horrifying? If Stone was dead, would he be rolling over in his grave?

Check it out...

EMBED-Scarface School Play - Watch more free videos

Monday, March 29, 2010


Drunks have always been drunks... Recently, The London Daily Mail compiled a collection of vintage shame-faced Edwardian drunks as they stared rather blankly into the lens of the police camera.

The pic above is James Doyle, a laborer whose arrest record listed such "peculiarities" as having two scars on his right forearm and a crossed right eye. He was pinched for being drunk and disorderly in a watering hole -- called public houses back in 1904.

These habitual drunkards were charged with such offenses as being caught while in charge of a horse, carriage and even a steam engine. I guess that was the old school version of DUI...

The extensive info under each mug was compiled by the Watch Committee of the City of Birmingham, which was set up by the police to enforce the Licensing Act of 1902. The act was passed in an attempt to deal with public drunks, giving police the power to apprehend those found drunk in any public place and unable to take care of themselves.

To check out the rest of the collection, click HERE.

Friday, March 26, 2010

NEVER BUY NEW (flash fiction)

There was a ton of shit to get before the baby arrived. Like most men, he started to stress and dread the arrival. If they were lucky, he thought they'd be able to snag some old baby crap from his brother. Big ticket items like car seats and carriers they'd acquire at the baby shower. Hopefully.

His wife said that while they could hedge on some items, they needed the baby monitor to be state-of-the-art. There wasn't gonna be any dicking around with craigslist bargains, ebay auctions or hand-me-downs. Recipe for disaster.

Like it was yesterday, he remembers trotting into Walmart to buy the Japanese brand that Consumer Reports suggested. No matter the price. And spiffy it was. The monitor was digital, wireless and even acted as an intercom. There was even a setting to detect if the kid stopped fucking breathing. He was amazed at how sensitive and intricate this little hunk of plastic was.

Well, the kid eventually came and the first couple of years were rough. Par for the course. Sleepless nights morphed into sleepless days and feeling tired was the new status quo. But they managed and eventually found a new groove.

One afternoon, he was watching the kid while she was out doing female things like nails or shopping. When she got home, he quickly handed the kid over and mommy took her baby upstairs for a nap.

When he heard talking, he thought it was the TV. It wasn't. He quickly turned towards the fucking sci-fi baby monitor and heard his wife whisper, "Your daddy says hello..." The final piece of a puzzle he didn't want solved was in place. And he shivered. He turned off the monitor, placed it on the base to recharge and went upstairs.

Entering the bedroom, he couldn't help but wish they had bargain hunted.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I love how every now and then playwright David Mamet goes on one of his rants. This time, the Pulitizer-Prize winning scribe had some ire for the writing staff of the canceled CBS drama "The Unit" (which he helped create) and has drafted a snippy memo for what he considers compelling drama. Thanks to Slashfilm for pointing this out. The tirade, btw, first surfaced at Ink Canada.

Anyone who read his non-fiction rant "Bambi Vs. Godzilla" knows that the guy can get a little heavy-handed and this new memo shows that the trademark Mamet attitude is indeed present in full-force.


Just a few thoughts: After watching some of his latter-day projects like "Redbelt" and "Spartan," we're wondering if he's following his own advice. Also note that the memo was drafted in ALL CAPS.

The complete memo runs in full after the jump.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


It's great to see more and more entertainment properties these days being derived from books. The FX series "Justified" uses the work of Elmore Leonard; the Oscar-winning drama "Crazy Heart" was derived from Thomas Cobb's excellent novel and now, "Boardwalk Empire," a new HBO series will use Nelson Johnson's "Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City" as its framework.

The new series, executive-produced by Martin Scorsese and shepherded by Terence Winter, a excellent scribe direct from the stable of another HBO series -- "The Sopranos." Anyone who knows TV writing knows that "Sopranos" creator David Chase groomed his scribes well.
Proof? Mathhew Weiner, another "Sopanos" alum went on to AMC to create a little show called "Mad Men."

The series stars Steve Buscemi and centers on the iconic seashore town long before casinos peppered the skyline. In fact, The Queen of Resorts, as it was once known, has the distinction of building the nation's first boardwalk.

Set at the dawn of prohibition, "Boardwalk Empire" is chock full of back-room power struggles in speakeasies and brothels run by both local politicians and racketeers -- namely Enoch “Nucky” Johnson -- the second of three bosses to head the Republican machine that dominated city politics and society.

The pilot was directed by Scorsese who will continue to be creatively involved in its ongoing production.

The first season is 12 episodes long, (including the pilot) and it will premiere in the fall of 2010.

Enjoy the two kick-ass trailers below:

Friday, March 19, 2010

BRINGIN' THE HURT (flash fiction)

Trixi had been with the roller derby roughly two years and felt every bit of it. Bruised and battered at the end of each season proved that these Texas gals took their game seriously and didn't fuck around. Her husband constantly reminded that they weren't in Minnesota anymore.

Many of these Lone Star dolls were ink-stained and pierced. She wasn't. At least nowhere visible. Most derby rollers adopted alter-egos much like rockabilly superheroes in the world of burlesque. And they all had their quirks. For example, Muffin Rolls was a bitch in real life but surprisingly sweet on the wood; The Duchess of Torque had a firm but fair sense of play and never talked during a match; Seka Destroy was once an Olympic gymnast and Thicka-than-a-Snicka was in it soley to crush the shit out of little girls.

The Southwestern teams had especially menacing monikers as the Mile Die Club, Poison Apples and Heavy Metal Hookers. She was on the Trippin Chix but aspired to roll someday with Austin's Puta Del Fuegos where their star Holly Peno kicked holy ass.

Tonight, though, Barrelhouse Bessy was fouling her incessantly and Trixi knew she have to put the bitch down when the referees weren't looking. Toward the end of the second period, she gave the signal as teammates Lady Gag Ya and Velvet Crush swished in front and obstructed the refs.

Trix elbowed Bessy in the gut so there'd be no visible damage. God, how she loved the hard thud of a dropped opponent. It worked, but not for long. Swoop DeVille, Bessy's captain quickly rolled up and pinned Trixi against the rail as they both went down. Stockings were ripped, faces slapped.

As Trix stood awaiting the penalty call, she couldn't help but hope there'd be enough time to grade some papers tonight before bed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


While most are touting the Apple iTab, iSlab, iPad or whatever-the-frig they're calling that thing a game-changer, I believe the real game changer in publishing will be the advent of all these new nifty e-readers coming out.

Spring Design's Alex eReader is one of the most impressive little readers on the block. The $399 Android-powered device boasts both a 6-inch e-ink display and a 3.5-inch, 16-bit color touch-screen LCD.

It's set to ship in the middle of this month but will undoubtebly get overshadowed by the iPad.
The Alex is long and narrow, weighs 11-ounces and measures 4.7 inches wide and 8.9 inches high. It's less than a half inch thick.

Users can download Google Books and it's compatible with other bookstores that support Adobe DRM (you can read e-books in EPUB, PDF, HTML, and TXT formats).

If the Alex seems Nook-like, don't be surprised. The Spring e-reader shares similar traits to Barnes & Noble's dual-screen reader. Interestingly, Spring actually sued Barnes & Noble for similarities it saw in the Nook.

Selling points of the Alex are built-in Wi-Fi, the ability to stream video and surf the Web (on the smaller color screen) and it can utilize certain Android applications. It also comes with a 2GB removable memory card and the microSD expansion slot supports cards up to an impressive 32GB. Earphones, an AC/USB power connector, and a padded cover ship with the unit.

An impressive machine, indeed. The unit I have my eyes peeled for, though, is the HP Slate, the only real iPad competitor that I can see at this point.

Check out a commercial for the Slate, also set to debut within weeks:

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Get ready Poe junkies because yet another Edgar Allan film is in the works...

News has recently hit the interwebs (via the India Times) of a cool semi-cryptic quote from Resul Pookutty, a sound man who won an Oscar for his work on "Slumdog Millionaire.

Says the film tech:
"I couldn’t be happier because I am doing a period film. It is a very special challenge because I have to recreate the sound textures of New York in 1854. It’s an adaptation of 'The Beautiful Cigar Girl' by Daniel Stashower and based on an eerie real-life experience of author Edgar Allen Poe which happened just months before his death. Joaquin [Phoenix]plays Edgar Allen Poe."
The central theme of the novel is death - the murder of tobacco clerk Mary Rogers - who was a minor celebrity in 1841 Manhattan. Her limp, beaten body was found along the Hudson shore in Hoboken, New Jersey in July 1841. While no one was ever convicted of the crime, a year later, an innkeeper claimed that Rogers was the victim of a botched abortion that took place at her inn.

Stashower’s book recounts the spectacle of the crime, from the death of the socialite to Poe's involvement.

In 1842, Poe made it the subject of his "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt," which featured his Parisian detective Dupin and his attempt to solve the murder. The story is said to be the first detective story (even though it was based on the events of a real crime)

Other than the Phoenix reference (he was supposedly retired from acting), there aren’t many more details available regarding the film.

The other Poe film in development is "The Raven," directed by James McTeigue and starring Jeremy Renner. A totally different movie, it contains a portrayal of Poe and his famous eerie poem.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Anyone who knows good crime writing knows scribe Elmore Leonard.

Most people, however, may know his work in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, several of which have been adapted into successful motion pictures or TV movies like "Get Shorty," "Jackie Brown" and the terrific "Out of Sight."

The scribe is renowned by critics for his gritty tough-guy realism and strong dialogue. His writing style may often take liberties with grammar in the interest of speeding along the story.

In his fabulous essay, "Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing," he says, "My most important rule is one that sums up the 10: If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." His advice to writers also includes the hint, "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Crooks and con men aren't his only area of expertise. His earliest published novels in the 1950s were westerns, many of them short stories. "Justified," A new TV adaptation of his work premieres tomorrow on FX and feels like a blend of both his western and crime writing.

It centers on U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens ( Timothy Olyphant), a 19th century-style but modern-day officer based in Florida, who enforces his brand of justice to put a target on his back with criminals and puts him at odds with his bosses in the Marshal service. As a result, he gets reassigned to the district covering his rural Eastern Kentucky mining hometown of Harlan County.

My esteemed colleague Alan Sepinwall has a wonderful interview with Leonard in today's paper. Check it out.

Oh and btw, here's the trailer for the show:

Thursday, March 11, 2010


The three of us met in on a base in Okinawa right before the end of the war.

Sam, always the big galoot, worked on planes that Buddy the Hick jumped out of. It was hot that July afternoon -- so sticky in fact that none of us grunts were shocked when General Barnes almost dropped dead.

For me, though, Barnes' ticker wasn't the news of the day. I learned from a Western Union telegraph that fatherhood would be soon upon me.

Needing to get behind the cork a bit, the three of us snuck into the commisary, past a few idiot MPs on lunch detail and into the closet-sized company store where a brand-spanking new bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label was waiting for us.

I remember holding the bottle, swigging the blend, and passing it to my brothers in arms. It was my favorite moment of the war.

Buddy the Hick wanted to go into town to get a whore but I opted out. He and galoot Sam hopped a richshaw and swapped half a pack of cigarettes for a night of sin with Filipino twins.

Me? I went back to the barracks and cried like a baby, hoping I would make it out of this hellhole to raise my unborn child.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


By now, we all know that George Clooney is a guy's guy and all and probably one of the coolest men on the planet. That's a given. It's not because he channeled Frank as a modern Danny Ocean. Nope. It's not because he doesn't take himself too seriously and it's not because he trades in those model girlfriends as if they were leased vehicles. Ok, well maybe we know he's cool for THAT one.

But seriously, here it is the second time he's up against Jeff Bridges for the Oscar and entire world pretty much knew he was going to lose. So did he. That's why we love him for flashing reporters his flask of liquid courage.

Wonder what he had in it... Check out the video.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

THE ALBINO TWINS (flash fiction)

I first saw them in Atlantic City sometime before the war. I had just opened a popcorn and peanut stand across from the Steel Pier and one mid-May afternoon, music both oddly macabre and hauntingly serene whisked through the salt air and up the tattered boardwalk.

As I followed the music and approached the pier, I noticed the sign:

Abigail and Geraldine - The Albino Songstresses

Each performance was only a nickel and every afternoon at 1:20, I took my seat up front to the side. Many days, I would be the only one there and it was fine by me.

Abbie, as I called her, played a lovely mandolin and Gerry, the younger of the pair, tickled the ivories on her accordian. The two would harmonize old folk tunes they learned in the Appalachian Mountains growing up. How these two found Atlantic City, was more than a mystery. They were hauntingly beautiful and at times I could swear they could read each other's thoughts. I wonder if they knew that I loved them both.

By early September, they were gone. When I asked a janitor what had happened, he shrugged and pointed to a poster touting some new diving horse act. "It's cheaper," he said swishing his broom. "They don't have to pay the horse..."

I spent most of my life trying to find them and now, as I lay here, hope they can finally play for me again. On the other side.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Being that this is Oscar week and all my esteemed writing bud Absolutely*Kate asked many of her peeps to provide some sort of film-related content for her nifty showcase At the Bijou. Being that I'm a movie guy, I dusted off an old project of mine and wanted to give her an essay about its conception.

That said, here is an ever-so-brief taste of a much longer essay on her blog about my adventures in the screen trade and collaboration with my buddy and writing partner Eddie.
One night around two years ago, my buddy and sometimes guest poet Edoardo Mungiello (pictured, below) and I were sitting in my man cave pondering our creative lives. At the time, I’d say that both of us were pretty creatively unfulfilled and extremely disenchanted with what we were seeing on movie and TV screens. What’s more, we were both about to enter the world of fatherhood so our creative juices were flowing with a bunch of unbridled, kinetic energy.

We had always talked about writing a script. It’s what people say… “Hey, we should write something…” Yeah. Right. Easier said than done. It’s hard writing something by yourself, much less another moody scribe.

Not only does a writing team need similar sensibilities, but they have to be willing to bend with one another. There’s a huge give and take at hand when it comes to what you both like. And then there’s the frame of reference…
Visit At the Bijou for the rest as well as a sample of our script "Dull Hobo."

Monday, March 1, 2010


I remember in high school that I was assigned to read a fair share of Dystopian novels. Looking back, it was completely understandable since it was the Reagan-era after all. The cold war was running on its last legs and I remember that the notion of nuclear war was a bona-fide fear of mine and that damn "The Day After" TV movie didn't help...

But you know what? To a 14 year-old, most of these post-apocalyptic tomes didn't make sense and honestly, half the time, I didn't know what the fuck I was reading.

Perhaps my teachers should have first and foremost explained the very notion of Dystopia in the first place. Quite simply, it's a vision, of an often futuristic society, which has developed into a negative version of Utopia. Bang. Simple. I got that. To break it down more, a dystopia is often characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government and features different kinds of repressive social control systems, lack or total absence of individual freedoms and expressions and a state of constant warfare or violence. Got that, too... OK, bring on the Orwell!

Looking back, my young brain couldn't grasp the lofty intellectual notions and ideas of books like "1984" or "Animal Farm." Case in point, I remember laboring through Aldous Huxley's "A Brave New World" and seeing gigantic text blocks of grey. that's a turn off for any kid.

With all that said, I recently stumbled across this nifty list compiled by Popcrunch on their Top 16 Dystopian Books.

Currently, I'm reading Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" and I have to admit it's one of the most depressing books I've ever read. But it's gorgeous in its simplicity and effectiveness. "The Road" places on Popcrunch's list and here's a sample of what they had to say:
"There’s bleak, then there’s freaking Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy boils down the essence of a post-apocalyptic dystopia to its bare bones, completely omitting almost all details. There’s a father and son, who are never named. There was a nuclear disaster, and almost all plants and animals are dead, with humans mainly reduced to cannibalism. They’re trying to get somewhere warmer (and hopefully better) before winter hits, and the father is slowly dying of radiation poisoning. While the ending has the slightest possible glimmer of hope, the rest is just ash filled skies, storms and people torturing and eating one another. For all its stark bleakness, it still won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007, which should give you an indication of its pedigree."
To read the entire list, click HERE.