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, August 31, 2010


I'm sorta stoked for this one. Years ago, I bought bootleg copies of the TV series "Johnny Staccato" on DVD so when I saw the announcement that it was going to be officially released October 12, I was ecstatic.

It centered on Johnny Staccato, (played by legendary actor and director John Cassavetes) an ex-jazz pianist/private detective who finds himself drawn into cases where his distaste for crime, criminals and injustice is put to test. The setting for many episodes is a Greenwich Village jazz club belonging to his friend, Waldo, played by Eduardo Ciannelli.

The show featured many musicians, such as Barney Kessel, Shelly Manne, Red Mitchell, Red Norvo, and Johnny Williams -- that's John Williams to scores of movie music buff. Ring a bell? Cassavetes also directed some of the series episodes.

Many notable Hollywood guest stars include Michael Landon, Martin Landau, Shirley Knight, Dean Stockwell, Elisha Cook, Susan Oliver, Gena Rowlands (Cassavette's wife), Elizabeth Montgomery, Norman Fell, Cloris Leachman, and Mary Tyler Moore.

The show debuted in 1959, and although it lasted only 27 episodes, the unique mixture of big-city mystery-adventure and jazz left an indelible impression on a generation of TV viewers.

Timeless Media Group is releasing the show in a 3-disc set including all 27 episodes.

The show suffered an identity crisis perhaps because of the similar "Peter Gunn," a series that centered on a private investigator in the classic film noir tradition. See video at right.

Gunn, like Staccato, was a sophisticated hipster, a dapper dresser who loved cool jazz and was the epitome of cool. He operated in a nameless waterfront city, and was a regular patron of Mother's, a wharfside jazz club; his girlfriend, Edie Hart (Lola Albright), was a sultry singer employed there. Herschel Bernardi played Lieutenant Jacoby, a police detective.

The series aired on the NBC and later ABC from 1958 to 1961. The show's creator (and also writer and director on occasion) was Blake Edwards. Also directed by Robert Altman, a total of 114 thirty-minute episodes were produced.

The series is remembered most for its music, especially "The Peter Gunn Theme," which won an Emmy Award and two Grammys for Henry Mancini and has become a jazz-rock standard.

The show is also available on DVD.

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Monday, August 30, 2010


Lord... What happened to these vintage-looking ads? Where have all the cool dudes gone? The year was 1966 and Connery was also promoting his film "A Fine Madness."

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THE HOUSE OF CARDS (#spokensunday)

Yup, I went back to that damned proverbial well again. "The House of Cards," my entry for this week's #SpokenSunday, can be found HERE.

And don't forget to join all the fun on Twitter below...

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Saturday, August 28, 2010


Click play for some mood music
Music: "The Rebirth Marching Jazz Band - When the Saints Go Marching in" Download it HERE.

Note: Five years after Hurricane Katrina, this is my requiem.

Antoine polished his bone, pointed it to the sky and blew.

It had been rough five years since the levees broke and there wasn't a single solitary day that went by that he didn't think about it. Or feel the aftermath. But they say the show -- or parade -- must go on. So Antoine blew as he marched.

The sun was out and it was a gorgeous day. Didn't matter, though. There was always a body somewhere being found in the oddest of places to remind him of that nightmare and these second lines were getting rougher.

But he marched anyway.

Antoine thought of Betsy, Gustov, Ivan and Rita. Yeah, they were rough. They tried to fuck with The Crescent City but it was that bitch Katrina that knocked it straight on its ass and then some with fifty three levee breaches and hundreds of bodies floating. Just floating with rotting faces and missing limbs -- even dogs have to eat after a category five.

He kept marching.

Keeping pace, he figured that the Big Easy must've been born under some bad voodoo. Five years removed from hell and he still can't stop thinking about the carnage in The Super Dome. The toxic FEMA trailers reeking of formaldehyde. The brutality of the police. The displaced families. The schools that were to never reopen. The residents of the lower Ninth Ward and Saint Bernard Parish were either gone or dead.

He marched some more.

He just knew that when those Saints won the Super Bowl that there'd be hell to pay. God wasn't gonna let a good thing happen to that city. And, as always, New Orleans proved itself to be every bit the unlucky soul when their wetlands, marshes and gulf waters were filled with millions of barrels of oil.

Antoine looked where the old Magnolia Projects used to stand. During the evacuation many families he knew weren't allowed back into their homes after the floodwater receded because they were closed, condemned and then razed.

And then it finally hit him. New Orleans, the city he was born and bred in, was going to change. What these townhome developers didn't realize, he thought, was that it was that very muck and mire that made the scrappy city what it was. That element gave it its soul.

Staring at the brightly-colored townhouses, Antione stopped blowing, bowed his head and wiped his eyes.

He couldn't march anymore.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010


The eclectic Deanna Schrayer at the wonderful blog The Other Side of Deanna has bestowed us with the Creative Writer Blogger Award -- With a Creepy Twist. I humbly accept and thank her. I also want to apologize for getting to this so late.

Here are the rules to accepting the award:

1. Thank the person who gave this to you.

2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.

3. Link to the person who nominated you.

4. Tell up to six outrageous lies about yourself, and at least one outrageous truth – or – switch it around and tell six outrageous truths and one outrageous lie.

5. Nominate seven “Creative Writers” who might have fun coming up with outrageous lies. *

(*) I usually don't like to nominate so many bloggers. It keeps the spread interesting...

6. Post links to the blogs you nominate.

7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them.

I nominate for their utter creepy twistiness:

1) The Wit and Weirdness of Al Bruno -- Al's must-read blog is one-stop shopping for creative, twisted, (and sometimes) creepy fun. And he's MONDO creative. Check it out and you'll see why.

2) Mindspeak - Carrie Clevenger's blog is ripe for this award. She's twisted. She's creepy and she can WRITE! Go there. Now.

3) The Bathroom Monologues - While he's not as creepy as the above pair, blogger John Wiswell certain adds a definite sense of twist to his daily blog. It's wickedly entertaining.


OK, now for the fun part: The following are my Seven Lies and One Truth or Seven Truths and One Lie… You decide and let me know in the comments...

1) I chugged my first beer when I was 6 years-old. Man, that was gooooood.

2) I was once in a stage production and did an acting monologue pretending to be a peach.

3) My first concert ever was Donny and Marie Osmond. I couldn't take my eyes off of her.

4) After high school, I used to sneak to Englishtown on weekends and work a demolition derby pit. They let me I drive once and dislocated my shoulder.

5) I once had a wildly hot run playing craps in Atlantic City for 13 hours. It made my salary for the year.

6) I once got into a fight at a Planet of the Apes marathon. Some A-hole apparently thought I was flirting with his girlfriend. I wasn't. She was flirting with me.

7) When I was 19, I joined the Army and was stationed in Germany for two years. It's where I earned my stripes in drinking great beer.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

OVER A HAMBURGER (#spokensunday)

"Over a Hamburger," my #SpokenSunday entry for this week can be found HERE. Some have already seen this already when I posted it last year.

As always, thanks for listening and join the rest of the Spoken Sunday fun on Twitter below.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010


Click play for some mood music

We've been worried all this time about 'The End.' We've fucking endured everything from Reagan's Cold War paranoia to crazy Arabs blowing everything to bits - including themselves. As I write this, I find funny that 'The End' probably doesn't come from a war or a bomb. It very well may have started out as a pig virus in Mexico.

Last Summer, The CDC said it would be here by October and they were right. I don't know why I'm writing this all down because like the Avian Flu and Mad Cow, I'm sure it'll blow over. The wife doesn't think so but I tell her that we live in The States. We have meds here. It's civilized.

But then again, civilizations average a pandemic every 30 or 40 years. Doing the math, I figure we're more than due. And with global networking, all it takes is a few hours and a plane fight to kick-start an outbreak. Maybe I see too many movies.

Here's hoping I look back at this in month and laugh.

I watch the news at night like a fiend. I can't get enough. Hundreds of thousands of cases reported worldwide. This thing travels fast and strong and kills you slow. They say the effort to produce a vaccine is starting. I keep repeating the word, "effort."

The neighbors head for their cabin in the country and all I can hope is that they don't bring it with them.

They're now calling it ZEUS because it's the Greek God of outbreaks. Watching images of freeways overloaded in both directions has become a nightly ritual and I ask myself if mass migration has ever gone well? When the wife brings up leaving, I point to the TV.

People are now starting to stay home from work and school and it's obvious the system is starting to show cracks. Looking at the boys, I pray for the country's infrastructure.

The vaccines are slow going and they say that armed guards are protecting hospitals because they're closed. The system did what it could. It tried.

It's official: A State of National Emergency is declared and they whisk the President to some undisclosed location. The National Guard arrives in major cities but I think it just may be too late, though. Again, I see America is unprepared. Didn't we learn anything from Katrina?

The CDC reports that the global ZEUS epidemic is no longer containable. We all thought this was gonna pass, myself included. When did it get so real? They say that all U.S. ports have shut down and that the delivery of liquid fuel have stopped.

We're officially landlocked and I can tell that the real chaos is now only starting. Supermarkets are overrun and the looting for food is now the biggest issue in the nation.

My wife calls our neighbors to see how the countryside is faring and she says that people are taking it day by day, but it's better there. She says again that we should stay with her family in Vermont but I still think it's smart to sit tight.

The army of labor that mans the country's communication system is showing signs of wear. Power supplies have started to weaken and the fuel shortage has triggered many blackouts across the nation.

We throw away half of our food supply, useless without the freezer.

I can't keep the boys occupied without power. The battery-powered transistor is now the only lifeline of information we have.

I clutch the flashlight.

The good news? The radio tells us that the pandemic has burned itself out and that if we weren't sick by now, we probably won't be. The bad news? Urban centers are uninhabitable and have become trashy wastelands. Thousands of bodies, limp and lifeless, pepper the nation's streets with garbage and dead animals. And so do cholera, dysentery and famine.

Six blocks up, I hear that gangs have begun looting homes. I prep my hunting rifle and order the wife and boys to the basement.

Hours later, I had to take someone's life. He looked about 30. He was foaming at the mouth and talking gibberish. Nevertheless, he entered my home uninvited and it didn't take much to pull the trigger.

This morning, I packed the SUV with the wife, the two boys and just the bare essentials. I touched the wall of my home for the last time and said goodbye to the memories.

As we headed to Vermont, we quickly discovered the freeway on-ramps were all blocked by rifled gangs in abandoned cars. They pretended they were cops but I knew better.

I had to conserve the gas so we're at Thompson Park now with the SUV hidden by bushes. There's a water fountain 15 feet away and the family tries it. I may not be able to check in until we're safe. Truth be told, I have no idea how to get us out of here.

But I tell them I do...

ART: Thanks to the Flickr accounts: aubri, briantmurphy and gimli82. Music: "HELLoween" by Finger Painted Death and Q-Fabric(Ambient Fabric). Download it HERE.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Hemingway's writing room.

Ah, the man cave...

We creative types all need one (even of you're a chick). It's a place where we feel at ease. At home. Calm. A place where we can kick up our feet. We throw around ideas. Pace the room. Have a drink. Maybe watch a little TV, read a book or in modern times, peruse our favorite blogs.

In the past, some dudes may have had a workshop or exiled to the garage (poor SOBs). At the end of the day, though, the man cave should be a sanctuary -- the place a man could call his own.

The Art of Manliness has posted a glimpse of "man rooms" of 14 famous men from history. Within them, they formulated ideas that would change the world, wrote books that remain classics, and revitalized the dynamic manliness that drove their success. While we all can’t have a Carnegie-esque study, perhaps you’ll find inspiration from these manly spaces to spruce up your own room or simply the push to find a place where you can get away from it all and in tune with your manliness.

BTW, I wanna live in some of these pictures... To see them, click HERE.

The pic below is a favorite corner in my own cave.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010


IS THERE A CREAM FOR THAT?: You know how they say there's a book out there for everyone?

Try this one on for size: "The Haunted Vagina"?

It centers on some dude named Steve and his girlfriend, Stacy — who has a haunted vagina. Apparently it doesn’t seem to bother Stacy, but Steve can’t get over the odd noises and zombies coming out of her vagina, so he crawls inside to check it out. Bizarro Fiction at its most... uh .... bizarre. Check out more ridiculous book titles HERE.

* * *
R.I.P: Elaine Koster, the maverick publisher and literary agent who had a keen knack for discovering new talent has died at 69. She was most famous for giving a second chance to an obscure horror writer named Stephen King. She also took on an unknown Khaled Hosseini who wrote "The Kite Runner." Click HERE to read her appreciation.

"He loved Big Brother"

LAST RITES: As scribes, we've all read scores of books -- both good and bad. For the most part, it's those opening lines of the text that usually grab us. I know a few people that won't continue a book if the opening graf is crap.

But what about the red-headed stepchild of opening lines -- closing lines? Somehow we always seem to recall the first page that leads us into the encompassing shroud of a wonderful book, but it always seems the last line we read doesn’t quite pack the same familiar punch.

For 20 famous closing lines from famous classic novels, click HERE.

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Monday, August 16, 2010


'Thank-you very much...'

As we celebrate the birthday of Bukowski, today also marks the 33rd anniversary of the death of rock and roll legend Elvis Presley.

The King was larger than life and even in death, millions of Presley fans worldwide will pay respects today to one of true innovators in rock.

Rocker Bruce Springsteen said, "There have been a lotta tough guys. There have been pretenders. And there have been contenders. But there is only one king."

Perhaps, though, music legend and Beatle John Lennon may have summed it up best when he said, "Before Elvis, there was nothing." (apologies to Sinatra, but hey, it's a different kind of music)...

Sultry, innovative, feral. Enjoy the performance below:

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Sunday, August 15, 2010


Henry Charles Bukowski would have been 90 today.

Born in Andernach, Germany, Buk was raised in Los Angeles, where he lived for 50 years. He published his first story in 1944, when he was twenty-four, and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five.

During his lifetime, he published more than forty-five books of poetry and prose, including the novels Post Office, Factotum, Women, Ham on Rye, and Hollywood.

The Poet Laureate of Skid Row, died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.

So to celebrate Hank's birthday, check out this quirky, if not desperate-sounding poem Bukowski wrote to some dame who lifted his papers. Poetry, in fact. It mat not be his best, but I love the brutal honesty of the piece.

It's funny, sad and true all at once. But try not to chuckle... You're reading primal creative frustration. The dude was passionate about his art in an age before floppies and flash drives.

To The Whore Who Took My Poems
some say we should keep personal remorse from the
stay abstract, and there is some reason in this,
but jezus;
twelve poems gone and I don't keep carbons and you have
paintings too, my best ones; its stifling:
are you trying to crush me out like the rest of them?
why didn't you take my money? they usually do
from the sleeping drunken pants sick in the corner.
next time take my left arm or a fifty
but not my poems:
I'm not Shakespeare
but sometime simply
there won't be any more, abstract or otherwise;
there'll always be money and whores and drunkards
down to the last bomb,
but as God said,
crossing his legs,
I see where I have made plenty of poets
but not so very much

-- Charles Bukowski

Now, enjoy the audio reading...

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Friday, August 13, 2010


Click play for some mood music
They worked the freaks like Georgia mules. Don't get me wrong, they worked me just as hard, but you see, I was fueled with spit and spite. When the cops are after you, the best place to be was the sideshow. After all, when you're sluggin' a broom around, you tend to blend. No one looks at the measly janitor when there are swallowed swords to be seen. It was perks aplenty. I got to travel the States and live rent free in a crummy trailer on the fairgrounds with two other shadows that didn't talk. All for twenty bucks a week. So the months passed and I settled into my job cleaning cages. Not the ones for the animals. The human ones.
# # #
In the middle ages, carnival originally meant a "time of merrymaking before Lent." As I sweep up crushed popcorn boxes and cotton candy cylinders I wonder how it morphed into a platform where the sick and handicapped are mocked, cheated and in some cases, abused. I saw all sorts of different folk on my carny tour. The most normal of the oddities were the hairy sorts. They were just like you and me but just... hairier. You had to watch out for the clowns, however, who I believe are all insane. Never cross a clown. That's all I'm gonna say. More on that another time. The acrobats were like royalty and wouldn't dare dream of consorting with any other carny workers other than the boss. When a high wire snapped in a "freak accident" one night, I almost didn't mind. We blamed the clowns. I know the truth though.
# # #
Pip and Flip were special to me. They were pinheads. Well, the doctor term was Microcephalia. It's when your noggin fails to grow and the body doesn't. Some pinheads - the ones the carny bosses said were from Peru - were pretty much dwarfed. Nevertheless, they were all usually a tad touched in the head and hyper as a jack rabbit. So they locked up Pip and Flip. Not because they were dangerous but because they would wander off the first chance they got. Combined, they had the mentality of a first grader and every now and again, I would sneak them roasted peanuts in a brown paper bag. They were adorable. Carny bosses said the pair were twins that came from the Yucatan of Mexico. I knew that was a bunch of baloney, though. I got the skinny from the human skeleton one night. He said that they were actually born in New York and their real names were Elvira and Jenny Lee Snow and worked the Coney Island sideshow before being sold to this swampland pit of despair.
# # #
It was 1933, I think, when the man in the big black trenchcoat ushered the two girls out of the cage and into a large car on the outskirts of the fairground. I followed him because it didn't seem right. "Hey, where you takin' them, bub?" I shouted. After he ushered Pip and Flip into the back seat, he strolled towards me and said. "I'm Tod Browning. Gonna put them in my movie." "Movie?" "Yeah..." he said patting me on my shoulder. "They'll be in good hands. Metro-Golwyn Mayer owns them now. Lock, stock and barrel. Don't worry." Oh, sure, I saw the movie. The whole carny went on our night off. The two gals made it. Apart from their small part in the movie, though, I never saw Pip and Flip again. It's as if they vanished. No one knows what happened to them.
Music: "Organ Grinder Coyoacan" by Sierra Jenkins. Provided by the Internet Archive.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Sinatra and gang take a stroll through the kitchen towards the stage at Miami's Eden Roc resort.

If you're a Rat Pack fan then this is a gift from above. I'm a sucker for candid photos and whenever I see a new picture of Sinatra and the gang that I've never seen, it feels like Christmas morning.

On the 50th anniversary of the original Rat Pack flick "Ocean's 11," has put together a stupendous gallery of never-before-seen pics of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.

LIFE's photographers trailed the various members of the Pack through the early sixties. And of those thousands of shots taken, many have never been published — until now.

For the full gallery at click HERE.

Frank savors his vices backstage at the Sands Hotel and Casino.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010


'Call me Jay Morris, dammit!'

I don't get this and think it’s just plain gimmicky.

Persnickety tough guy scribe Richard Price doesn't have a title yet for his next work -- but he does have a name for the author. And it ain't Richard Price.

The "Clockers," "Lush Life" and "Freedomland" writer will publish his next book under the pseudonym "Jay Morris" for a planned series of detective thrillers set in New York City.

Publisher Henry Holt and Company announced last week that the first edition is scheduled to hit shelves next fall.

Everyone knows that pseudonyms are a publishing tradition -- whether its Nora Roberts penning tales as J.D. Robb, Stephen King as Richard Bachman or Ruth Rendell at times calling herself Barbara Vine.

But I ask why? If everyone knows that Price is writing as Morris then why just publish a novel that way? I find it foolish.

Did Hemingway write under a pen name? Kerouac? Did Orwell? Author Price sounded off in a statement: "This, God save me, should be fun." Fun but dopey...

My fellow scribes, tell me why it's not gimmicky...

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Monday, August 9, 2010


What a great pic of Capote. What was going through his mind?

Over the weekend, I caught a documentary about Truman Capote on Ovation (a great channel). It was part of Ovation's American Revolutionaries series and will be shown again on Sunday, August 15, 2010 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

The infamous American novelist, short story writer and social commentator projected a compelling and often controversial public image right up until his death, from drugs and alcohol abuse in 1984.

Filmed in America, the profile reflects the dark and light of Capote's life and work. It draws on his outspoken often outrageous television appearances and includes recollections from many of his closest friends, as well as a dramatization from his unfinished novel, Answered Prayers.

The "tiny terror" as he was known, Capote could be as flamboyant and acerbic as he was poignant and articulate, crafting fiction and non fiction into masterpieces like "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "In Cold Blood."

Yet, as Capote often wrote about the controversies of his own life, his friends began to distance themselves and Truman turned inward toward a world of prescription drugs and alcohol.

In the clip below, the writer talks briskly about his addiction to tranquilizers and is confronted on air about his alcoholism.

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LOTTERY MAN (#spokensunday)

I went to the vault again for "Lottery Man," this week's #SpokenSunday piece. Too find it, click HERE. Listen and enjoy... Also, feel free to join the #SpokenSunday fun on Twitter below...

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Thursday, August 5, 2010


Click for some mood music

When he sat down at the lunch counter in the Woolworth, Beth thought he reeked of regret. And she felt sorry for him.

Beth kept staring into her soup, trying not to turn and just working the reflection of the bowl just enough to catch of glimpse of his profile.

He saved her the trouble. "I'm Frank..."

She smiled, still peering into the goodness that was her Cream of Turnip.

"Hi Frank," she answered through her smile.

"I'm new here..." he said cueing her for her name.

She fiddled with her spoon, making rings. "Beth."

Frank turned a bit in his seat and asked. "Say Beth, how 'bout I take a gander at what seems to be a pretty lil' face." Beth perked, straightened her blouse and smiled.

The head waitress, the one who looked like a pioneer with all that Davy Crockett hair, stomped over and raised her eyebrows. "You botherin' her, Mister?"

Frank ignored Davy and lit a Lucky Strike. "Beth, whaddya say we give the place the slip and you let me buy you some ice cream?"

# # #

As they walked down Main Street, USA, Frank knew he made the right choice. Find the prettiest chickadee there -- those are the ones that'll take bullet for you -- because deep down, they're all insecure.

By the end of her deep dish of Vanilla, Frank knew she was that kind of girl. The diamond job was tomorrow and whichever way it played, he knew he needed his alibi and, if anything, someone to wipe up the blood.

Frank asked for the last spoonful and eased it into his mouth. Swallowing, he smiled. He could tell Beth was told she was ugly just one too many times. This one was just right.

Illustrator: Edmund Gray (not much info exists online for this pulp stylist). Music: "Little One" by Fabric - courtesy of the Internet Archive and you can download it HERE.

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Now this film vehicle sounds way interesting...

Sean Penn is currently in talks to star in "Genius," a film about the eccentric literary editor who oversaw the release of works by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

The property is based on A. Scott Berg's National Book Award-winning 2008 biography, "Max Perkins: Editor of Genius." It centers on the relationship between the fedora-wearing editor-in-chief at New York publishing house Scribner and a young Thomas Wolfe, though the script is peopled with literary characters.

It will be directed by Bill Pohlad, who hasn't shot a movie since the 1990 indie "Old Explorers." In recent years, he has focused on producing films through his River Road banner, including "Brokeback Mountain," "The Runaways" and the Penn-directed "Into the Wild."

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