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...'

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Click play for some mood music

Note: In honor of today's Google Doodle and the fact that everyone's favorite prehistoric cartoon is 50 years-old today, I give you this kooky piece of flash.

Betty Rubble knew it was time.

It had been more than a year since Barney Rubble left her for Gabbie Gabbro, that slutty secretary from Mr. Slate's office. Betty thought she should've known better. She had the same job 15 years ago when Barney used to make up excuses to visit the boss. Yeah, it's was time. Betty knew she had to get out there sooner or later.

The house had been eerily quiet. Hoppy died after Barney ran over him accidentally a few years back. And as for Bamm Bamm Rubble? He had to be sent to the Shale Center because he actually never learned to say anything more than his name. Couple that with an abnormal sense of strength and he simply had become too much for Betty. So the house was now empty.

She thought about switching back to her maiden name -- Betty Basalt -- if she was gonna to be on the make. It had more of a ring to it, she thought. So, with just enough side boob showing, Betty strolled into the Limestone Lounge and ordered her first rocktini in years. And holy shonkinite, did it go down easy.

And that music... Mikey Marble and his Minettes. Smoothe. She was getting that mojo back and as Betty moved on to single malt Monzonites, she became reflective and thought of all those years ago.

She remembered the Flintstones next door. Fred finally had that heart attack. It was all that yelling and ranting that finally did him in. In fact, that's what sparked Barney into exercising and undoubtedly getting the attention of young secretaries at the quarry. Wilma took that cutie Pebbles away and last Betty heard, the teenager snagged the the Miss Marble crown. Good for Pebbles, Betty thought. Had Bamm Bamm been normal, they would've made such a cute pair.

It wasn't long before she was approached. He was handsome enough, Betty thought, asking his name.

"Pumice," the stranger said. "Paulie Pumice... I sell baby dinos. I can give you a good price..."

The music got louder and Betty tried not to look bored.

Art: The incredible Glen Barr. Music: "The Flintstones" by Hoyt Curtin can be downloaded HERE.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Get your "Gym, Tan and Literature' on because Jersey Shore" star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi is writing a novel.

Yup. That shouldn't make too many of we scribes angry, huh? The pint-sized, pickle-loving reality star is getting paid to pen a romance novel. Gallery Books announced that Snooki has a novel called "Shore Thing" scheduled to come out in January. The publisher said the novel will tell of love on the boardwalk, complete with "big hair, dark tans, and fights galore."

Snooki said in a statement that she has been working on the book for some time. But, no, she's not writing alone. Gallery, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, said she has a collaborator.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010


This comes to me from the great and hard-boiled Paul Brazill and I thought it was too funny not too share. Check out Paul's blog You Would Say That, Wouldn't You for all you need to know on what's going on in the world of pulply crime fiction.

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Monday, September 27, 2010


So "Boardwalk Empire," has taken a huge chunk of my time lately as covering the new HBO series has become a new beat of sorts at my job. So I apologize if I haven't popped by your blog. I just have to get a handle on some timing and I will be back to norm. That said, each week I will link to my lengthy "Boardwalk Empire" recaps chock full of tidbits and Atlantic City lore. They will be located on the web site of my newspaper.

Episode Two: "The Ivory Tower"

Episode One: "Pilot"

The New Jersey Online "Boardwalk Empire" Blog

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Thursday, September 23, 2010


Please click play for some mood music

He played amid the smoke-filled room.

The rumor was that Sam got his job because he looked like Bogart. Distractingly so. In fact, he usually told the dolls in Toot's Shor's Place that he was once Bogie's stand-in on the Warner Bros. lot. And they ate it up. As usual.

This new one, though, -- Virginia -- was different. She didn't buy Sam's cock-and-bull act and, on occasion, even went out of her way to give him the icy shoulder. A girl has her reputation after all.

From the tiny coat check closet, she'd stare at him every night and after a few months of googly eyes, Sam mustered enough nerve to ask Virginia to accompany him after hours and watch him play. At first she refused but eventually she felt comfortable. Especially with those sad eyes.

She'd sit on the piano, like a siren who sang for the torches, and he'd lay it on extra thick. And it wasn't long before they became bonafide friends.

They'd talk about gossip of the day -- everything from the death of Fletcher Henderson and some new book called "Seven Years in Tibet" to the merits of leading men like Gregory Peck and Cary Grant. It all jived.

One night, they dented a bourbon bottle pretty good and the boozy piano banter got somewhat heavy.

"I have something to tell you," Virginia said, eyes watery. "I haven't been completely honest."

He stopped playing.

She told Sam that she finally heard from her fiance after too many silent months in Korea. Victoria said that she expected the worst and knew of too many men who never walked through their front doors ever again. She told Sam that she was sorry but she just needed someone to be close to. Just in case.

Sam lit another cigarette and began playing "Autumn in New York."

# # #

About a week later, the soldier showed up at the bar in uniform. He had flowers under one arm and a box of chocolates under the other. Sam watched Virginia hug him for what seemed to be five minutes.

Sam wasn't a tough guy so he just kept playing. He stared at the soldier and his stripes. That's the measure of a man, he thought. He deserved her. The soldier probably had a life plan that didn't include smoky after-hours chit-chat in dimly-lit big piano bars. Virginia and her soldier eventually left.

He went on for an hour or so, tickling those ivories in the dark, thinking of Virginia and her own ivories that he'd never have the opportunity to tickle. Sam went on, watching the janitor sweep and bartender wash glasses -- all the while writing Virginia symphonies that she'd never hear.

He played amid the smoke-filled room. And when he wrote the perfect arrangement, he went home, almost happy that he didn't even write it down.

Art: The incredible Robert McGinnis. Music: "Autumn in New York" by Jonah Dempcy. Download it HERE.

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This gives new meaning to learning about the letters T & A ...

"Sesame Street" may be a production of the Children's Television Workshop, but a new music video featuring one of its most beloved characters may be deemed too scandalous for children's television.

TMZ reports that after an advance clip was released of a cleavage-baring Katy Perry singing "Hot and Cold" on the show (with Elmo), parents were so scandalized that the number will now be cut from its intended New Year's Eve broadcast.

Hell, I watch Elmo with my kid all the time and would W-E-L-C-O-M-E anything that I could "enjoy" while enduring that often-annoying voice.

So... Watch for yourself and see what all the hubbub was about. Seems harmless to me.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010


This may be the closest we get to a new James Bond film for quite some time. In April 2010, EON Productions suspended development of "Bond 23" indefinitely due to MGM's crippling debt and uncertain future.

The film series has grossed over $4 billion (nearly $11 billion when adjusted for inflation) worldwide, making it the highest grossing film series ever.

So that said, enjoy this shagadelic opening sequence for the videogame "Bloodstone: 007" out Nov. 7. It has all the trappings of your typical sexy Bond opening -- cars, babes, diamonds -- hot. Plus a killer tune as well by Joss Stone, "I'll Take It All."

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010


... All I can possibly wonder is: What was Madison Avenue thinking?

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Friday, September 17, 2010


This is one of my favorite pictures of Frank Sinatra. Oozes atmosphere. It was taken on the set of "Marriage on the Rocks," a 1965 movie comedy with Sinatra, Deborah Kerr and Dean Martin. It centers on an ad-agency president who flies to Mexico to celebrate his nineteenth wedding anniversary, but ends up divorced by mistake.

While Frank Sinatra divorced Ava Gardner in 1957, I've always imagined him getting a quickie divorce from her over the border whenever I see this pic. In fact, for the longest time, that's what I actually thought.

On that note, it may have gone a little something like this...

"We can't even take care of ourselves, Francis. How were we going to take care of a baby?"

That's what Ava said to me. I knew that was the beginning of the end for us. If she only knew how much I loved her. I left my wife for her.

She said it again and I fluffed it off. It repeated in my head but I didn't know what the fuck it meant. I already had three kids and they were just fine. She would have ours and he, she -- it -- would be fine, too.

We've been down this road before. About a year ago, she didn't tell me about the first abortion and I never let her forget it. That was her first and last warning.

This time when she was knocked up, the studio got involved. Some bullshit about penalty clauses.

I tried to reason with her. "Baby, you're one of the biggest movie stars in the world. Do you think that schnook Harry Cohn is gonna fine you?"

"He'd do it. Never liked you..."

My blood boiled. Any other time or place, I would snap his back like a toothpick and then use it for lunch. "Me? He was a bum when I got into town and he's still one."

She nodded, half-afraid. She knew I was right.

"I'll take care of it, baby," I said as I poured the Jack.

"Frankie... Don't...," was all she said and looked away.

I bit my bottom lip and headed out to the pool with the Jack. Her "don't" told me alot. It said that those silly Hemingway movies were more important to her. It also told me she had no confidence - maybe in me as a father, herself as a mother - I dunno.

Yup, I knew what that "don't" meant. I went back inside to convince her that this baby would save us, but it was too late.

And as I watched her walk out the door to get her second abortion, I knew we'd be in Mexico this time next week signing the papers.

It wasn't long before I started to dread the heat.

# # #

And now, just listen to the pain in Frank's voice as he sings "I'm A Fool To Want You," undoubtedly to Ava. Gives me chills...

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I've always wondered why people have always hated on Sly Stallone. OK, I'm a tad biasRocky Balboaed since he was on every single one of my walls growing up. But, as a writer, he's given us two of the most mythic heroes in modern pop culture (all the while grossing about $4 billion for Hollywood). That's hard to do even once. Come to think of it, I'd like to think of him as John Wayne with a Fountain Pen.

This month, there is an extensive interview with Sly in GQ, entitled "Yo, America! It's Time to Respect Sylvester Stallone' and he chats about Rocky, Rambo and the (creative) path he's taken in Hollywood through the years.

Sly also chats about poetry and his love for Edgar Allen Poe and the film he's been trying to write and direct, based on the gothic writer's life.

Here are the juicy bits:

Are you still writing poetry?

I mostly write it to my wife. I have volumes of poetry. ...Dante's Inferno and John Milton? Give it up! Paradise Lost? The guy wrote it blind. Hello! After Poe? Come on.

Tell me about Edgar Allan Poe. You've been working on a Poe script forever. Why?

I was 21, and one day I went into the New York library and down into this cavernous space. The guard says, "It's a special writers section." I went in, and he says, "You might think this is interesting," and he pulled out a scroll by Poe. I started reading up on Poe and realized he is the epitome of the misunderstood artist. The more he remained true to himself, the worse it got. I went, "Wow." The other part that I related to—he was a young man who started with all this enthusiasm and originality, and in the end he was scorned for it. His dilemma was contemporary. He was hip well before his time.

So do you identify with him?

I do. I don't identify with his genius, because it's far beyond anything I could imagine. But it was like Rocky—he was just incredibly misunderstood. And eventually he gave up trying to find financial success and was just trying to find love. And I went, Jesus, what trauma! And I just related to all the pathos.

So you've written a script, right?

Yeah. I've written about ten scripts.
Do you think you'll ever do it?

I don't know if I could ever live up to the hype. Poe fanatics—I mean in an intellectual sense—they would tear me to pieces. My take is very simple: He's a misunderstood artist.
Are you a misunderstood artist?

Completely. Candidly? Yeah, and one of the reasons is, the subjects I've played, it's assumed that I am that person. And when I would try to be Sylvester Stallone, it threw people off. I was this enigma. A lot of actors were presented with wonderful projects, and they rose to the occasion. I had to write my own material. I didn't have a pedigree, like how De'Niro came through Brian De Palma. With me it was, "Who? Where'd he come from?" I was this outsider. And in some way I still sort of am. I live here, but I've never felt comfortable. I wish I were. Or they've never felt comfortable. I've never quite blended. I used to say to my wife, "I would love just to be able to act and have wonderful scripts and wonderful directors." It just has never been my lot in life. It's always been do-it-yourself.

If you could tell people in Hollywood something that they don't understand about you, what would you tell them?

God, that's a tough one. These people don't understand: I am this person. But as I get older, it's all about what you do that really tells the truth. Words? Anyone can produce words. But actions…they really do speak louder than words. So I guess I am what you see. The art, the movies, the ideology in the films that I'm involved in, is really who I am. That's my philosophy. Even though I wallow in pessimism, in the end I'm optimistic. So it's that ongoing battle.

You're a romantic.

Yeah! There you are! Totally! People think I'm foreboding and—what would you say?—a physical presence that's intimidating.

Yeah, and it's not true at all. That's the character I play. But yeah, I'm a hopeless romantic. It's impossible to do six Rockys without saying, That's pretty close to who he is. One of the toughest days of my life was that last day making Rocky Balboa. I said, "I'm never gonna find this friend again. It's like I am losing part of my soul. I'll never be able to voice myself the way I was able. 'Cause this guy was allowed to do that." I lost the greatest character I'll ever come close to.

Rocky will live forever, like the Little Tramp. Amazing.

It is. When people ask, "How did you do it?" I say, "It was one of those very rare occurrences." When Chaplin—you know the stories—when he was trying on different hats? And he found this one that was too big and his shoes were too large? That was genius. But he knew, subconsciously, that if you played this little guy who had all this heart but he looked like a fool? But inside, he was brave and heartfelt and ethical. That's why Chaplin never came close again. With Rocky, they didn't want me to wear a hat: "You look like a thug with a hat." I said, "But that's part of his armor…like the Little Tramp. That's his uniform. And everything that he wears speaks volumes." Chaplin got that, and I guess I borrowed that.\

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Monday, September 13, 2010


So, let's say it's about 1955 and you're in Greenwich Village -- specifically at Cafe Bohemia. You're going to see this up and coming trumpet player people have been buzzing about.

Suppose it's a crisp autumn night in the city and the wind whips through the street. You walk up to the club with your cupcake, and under the marquis you see ... this. Cool, huh?

Thanks to the awesome blog "If Charlie Parker Were a Gunslinger..."

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It's #SpokenSunday time. This is a piece that was inspired one cold afternoon last December. That said, "Bums Celebrate Christmas" can be found HERE.

As always, follow the #SpokenSunday fun on Twitter.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

SHADE (#fridayflash)

Press play for some mood music

When Shade pistol-whipped her husband, Amberlee let out a cry and fell to the ground. That pissed him off so he pistol-whipped him again shooting her a look that said, "Don't back down now."

"Get me some rope," Shade said. She didn't move.

"Rope!" Shade shouted. "This pig's not gonna hogtie himself."

Amberlee, stood up, fixed her dress and headed towards the utility closet when she heard him shout, "And some whiskey, too!"

She grabbed the Canadian Club from the butler's pantry and, after fetching the rope, returned to her lover.

"Thanks, baby," he said, sizing up the job. "Pour me some of that bug juice, huh?"

She did. She thought of the first day she met him at the Kentucky Derby. Even in that overbearing Southern Fried heat, she was drawn to that thing he had.

Her husband looked up at them. Eyes watery. Nose bloody. Vision blurry. He squinted at his wife, trying to focus, all the while wondering why he even brought her to Churchhill Downs to begin with.

Shade knew this was the perfect time. "Let's give him a show, baby..." he whispered, unzipping that tight green number she was wearing.

As she unfastened her bra, her husband wondered how long it would be before they'd kill him.

Amberlee also wondered. About how long the life insurance settlement would take.

And Shade? He just wondered how long it would take to con her out of it.
Art: Robert McGinnis is an American artist and illustrator known for his illustrations of over 1200 paperback book covers and 40 movie posters, including Breakfast at Tiffanys, Barbarella, and several James Bond and Matt Helm films. Read more about him HERE. More of his work can be seen HERE.

Music: John Coltrane, "While My Lady Sleeps," courtesy of the Internet Archive. It can be downloaded HERE.

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... Just askin'. Gotta love that 'Pabst Beer'.

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Monday, September 6, 2010


Allow me to pimp it a bit with a small dose of shameless self-promotion.

1) I was featured in At the Bijou's 100 Authors of September series where blogmaster Absolutely-Kate Pilarcik matches a current scribe (in this case little 'ol me) with two other like-minded authors she thinks are of the same ... ilk. I'm honored. She paired me up with good 'ol Buk and some scribe with wanderlust named Jack Kerouac. Fab Kate has posted some quotes from each of our work so go and see if you can check which one belongs to me. I'm actually embarrassed I almost got it wrong. Check it out HERE.

2) I was recently interviewed by Timothy Grayson, blogmaster at the eclectic Phantasmagoric Radio. The blog is chock-full of musings where he waxes poetic on ... well, he explains the mission statement best himself so allow me to crib: "Let’s get down and find the kinds of people who are raw and don’t have to worry about fame or fortune leveraging the quality from their creations. The only benefit these people are getting from their work is the fact that they might be able to gain some perspective by being true in the online public. Let’s go and love these people and take what they have to say personally; it’s our choice to consider what they say and do and then to find the meaningfulness for ourselves."

Check out our quick little Q&A and his nifty sketch of me where he was kind enough to give moi more hair. Check it our HERE.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

THE FIRST WRIST (#fridayflash)

It was on a Saturday. He didn't think of the man he killed when he went into the joint. Come to think of it, he didn't even think much of him during his stint. He'd used a hammer and, at the time, claimed it was self-defense. No one really knew.

But time passed and lawyers did what lawyers do. And he was released with time served.
More than half a million people in the country are released from prison every year. And they all need work.

Monkey wrench number two? He couldn't snag a job that required any kind of licensing. So that pretty much left out working as an accountant, ambulance driver, attorney, barber, nurse, physician, pharmacist, real estate agent or teacher. The world could breathe easier.

Eventually, he stumbled across an ad for a day laborer position at a profitable restoration company that specialized in religious statues and sculptures. The biggest outfit in the country. He appeared strong to the owner and was more than willing to work -- that's all that mattered and
he was hired on the spot.

They say the man upstairs works in weird ways. He started that job on a Saturday. His sole responsibility? To use a hammer and drive wooden spikes into the limbs of Jesus Christ on the hundreds of statues that needed repair.

He may not have thought about the man he killed before this job, but as he slammed that hammer into the first wrist, he knew that he would.

And every day thereafter.

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