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, December 30, 2010


She was the face of a generation...

"Rosie the Riveter" was a American cultural icon representing women who worked in factories during World War II producing munitions and war supplies. These women sometimes took entirely new jobs replacing the male workers who were in the military.

As for that famous poster? In 1942, Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller was hired by the Westinghouse Company’s War Production Coordinating Committee to create a series of posters for the war effort. One of these posters became the famous "We Can Do It!" image — an image that in later years would also become "Rosie the Riveter," though not intended at its creation.

The artist based his "We Can Do It!" poster on a press pic taken of Lansing, Michigan, factory worker Geraldine Doyle, who died four days ago due to complications from arthritis at 86.

While the poster was not initially seen much beyond one Midwest Westinghouse factory where it was displayed for two weeks in February 1942, it was later the Miller poster was rediscovered and became famous as 'Rosie The Riveter.'

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


C'mon fellas, it's New Year's Eve. Get your mextrosexual on... circa 1978.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


"The rules are all in a sixty-four-page pamphlet by Aristotle called Poetics. It was written almost three thousand years ago, but I promise you, if something is wrong with what you're writing, you've probably broken one of Aristotle's rules."

"You're allowed one fuck in PG-13. The rules are silly. Not all fucks are equal and not all cocksuckers are equal."

- Emmy-winning-, Golden-Globe- and WGA-award-winning writer Aaron Sorkin in Esquire.

"I got so good at writing to a budget, my brain was restricting myself. I'd write, 'It's a stormy night.' Then I'd cross out stormy. I'd write: 'It's a calm night.' Then I'd cross out night. It's noon. Because you know how much night costs. You know how much rain costs. Nothing comes free in movies."

- Writer-director Albert Brooks in Esquire

"I'll take the slightest opportunity to stop, like, 'Oh, look, a pigeon! Seriously I'm sure it sounds childish, but I need tunnel-vision to write and the only way to accomplish that is to eliminate all possible distractions."

- "Boardwalk Empire" creator and Emmy-winning writer of "The Sopranos" Terence Winter on battling impulses to procrastinate in Creative Screenwriting magazine. He cant listen to music and his face has to face a wall so he doesn't look out a window.

"Season Four is supposed to be the way down, not the way up. When Don cried in the one with the suitcase, I cried with him. I keep praying for this show to start sucking because it consistently reminds me of what a shitty writer I am. Those prayers have yet to be answered. I am Salieri."

- Damon Lindelof, co-creator of "Lost" about AMC's "Mad Men" in GQ.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Merry Christmas to everyone here in The Basement...

The above shot of Bogie, Lauren Bacall, and son Stephen was taken on Christmas Eve in their Beverly Hills home.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

THE HORNY ELF (#fridayflash)

Please press play for some mood music

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the bar...

 ... Snappy the elf annoyed those near and afar.

Five minutes into his dinner break from Santa's Workshop, he wormed into the Applebee's bar and climbed up on the stool and cozied up to a blonde in a tight cashmere sweater. "Quite a set of ornaments you've got there, Puddin'," Snappy said. "And I got the keys to the sleigh tonight if you wanna get off the naughty list."

The blonde politely laughed him off, unsure of how to respond as a perky barmaid approached. She asked Slappy if he wanted his 'usual'.

"Say it..." Slappy instructed.

"I'm not sayin' that," she told the elf.

"Extra finske for you if you do. And loud..." The barmaid quickly went to the opposite side of the bar and sloshed a few bottles into a mixer and returned, happily chirping, "Here ya go, Slappy... A 'Pink Panty Dropper'."

"Thanks doll..." Slappy said throwing down a ten spot. "Say, when are you coming home with me?"

The barmaid playfully flicked his chin. "When Santa divorces Mrs. Claus."

"Too bad... " Slappy said giggling. "One night with me, baby, and you'd be sneezin' tinsel."

Slappy turned back to the blonde. "What's in your drink?" she asked.

"What's it matter sweetums? It's all good..." Just then, Slappy heard a male voice. "It looks like a fruit drink to me..."

 Being that it was two days before Christmas, Slappy was used to pissing off women, but not their boyfriends. "Well if it ain't the heat miser..."

The boyfriend got up and approached Slappy, "Wha'cha say to me you little twerp?"

"Don't bother, hon..." the blonde said to him. "He's only having some fun."

Slappy slurped the last of his drink and said to her deadpan, "I have certain needs that can't be satisfied by working on toys."

The blonde smirked and shrugged her shoulders to her beefy boyfriend in that "I tried to warn him" sorta way.

When Slappy got up from the ground, he rubbed his jaw. "Yo bub, just because I have bells on my shoes don't mean I'm a sissy." He went on like that all night.

Photo: Flickr - Abi Skip; Music: "Jingle Bombs" by Stephen Johnson. It can be downloaded HERE.


These vintage Christmas ads are just simply hilarious and certainly proof positive that things have certainly changed in the country since the golden age of advertising. As always click each pic to enlarge.

1) Nothing says stocking stuffer for dear old dad like a Zippo... "G'head kids... Burn that house down. Just be sure to have fun!"

2) She really cares about her home and you really care about her... The perfect gift? A Hoover of course!

3) Do you love your man? Splurge and give him a dozen boxes of Luckies! Hopefully, he'll be alive for next Christmas when you can give him an iron lung.

4) A woman never forgets a man who remembers... Do you want all of your mistresses to love you? Invite them all over for the holidays and drop some candy on them. They'll be tickled pink!


It was 1952 and yup, Santa Claus was able to get away with peddling cigarettes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Being that it's award season, The Hollywood Reporter has begun posting their series of roundtable discussions with possible contenders.

Last month, they posted an one-hour discussion between screenwriters Aaron Sorkin ("The Social Network"), Simon Beaufoy ("127 Hours"), Michael Arndt ("Toy Story 3"), John Wells ("The Company Men"), Todd Phillips ("Due Date") and David Lindsay-Abaire ("Rabbit Hole"). Grab a drink and settle in because this powwow is pretty fantastic for any kind of writer...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

THE MOVIE MOGUL (#fridayflash)

Press play for some mood music

It was around 1970. I was called into Saul Rubik's office on Monday morning.

I had a bungalow on the studio backlot and safe money was that the big man wanted to talk about a picture I'd been writing. All weekend I heard him in the back of my head. "Where's my script you pencil-neck little kraut?" or "I paid for a drama, not this weepy soap opera crap!" Whatever the case, I heard his voice and pictured those bloated sausage fingers pointing at me from behind his obnoxious leather desk.

Monday came and I could tell that fat prick forgot my name. He started the conversation by buttering me up. I know a decent butter-up when I hear one.

"You..." Rubik said motioning towards me. "You know what I like about you?"

I shook my head.

"You have a way with words." I gotta admit, when the chief of a studio says that, it feels pretty damned decent. But then he stopped and turned towards me. "I need you to do me a favor. Silly work but it needs to be done."

"Anything, sir. You name it."

So there I was thinking he pegged me a great idea man and needed someone to rework a fledgling TV show with some slam-bang telescripts. After all, someone had to whip those TV hacks into shape. Right?

No such luck.

* * *

I was headed to the commissary to meet studio founder Sammy Stahl, who at around 87, was really nothing more than a figure head of a bygone era. Sure, he still kept his office but he had no real authority at Pinnacle Pictures and hadn't greenlit a real movie since the days of Ike.

I saw a buddy scribe of mine and before I sat down he said, "Just let him talk. I was on 'Stahl Duty' last week."

"Stahl Duty?" I was confused.

"Yeah," my buddy snapped back. "They keep us writers around the lot for a reason. They don't want our scripts. We're furniture to occupy the old man. They rotate us to make him feel important."

"No way! I don't believe you," I said. "I have a script due at the end of the month."

My buddy nudged me in the ribs. "Like I said, just let old Stahl talk..."

* * *

I sat down. "Mr. Stahl?"

Stahl grunted. "You here to pitch me a story?"

I choked. "Um, Yes... Sure."

"I don't want any more wrestling pictures. We're done with them."

I made up a fake pitch about some Midwestern bank heist gone wrong. So wrong in fact that all of the crooks were double-crossing each other in the safe house. Actually, it was a pretty decent pitch.

"Just make at least one guy likable," Stahl advised. "Bogart... Now he was likeable. Women wanted to schtup him and guys wanted to be him. Channel Bogie, kid."

Stahl asked if I had an idea for my lead. I answered maybe Eastwood or McQueen.

"Bums..." He laughed and fluffed my suggestions off. "They won't last five years."

His soup came. Because of his incessant hand shaking, most of the chowder was splashing onto the floor and his lap. I felt that I had to help him.

"Do you need help Mr. Stahl?" I figured he didn't hear me. Little did I know that I was just being ignored.

Leaning in, I said, "I can feed you your soup if you'd like, sir."

Dropping the spoon into the bowl and staring right through me, I'll never forget what he said. "I didn't fight to get out of fucking Poland and build an entire industry from scratch only to have you feed me soup like an infant. I can feed myself. Now go write me a goddamned movie."

Walking back to my small bungalow, it hit me. Stahl displayed the proud moral fiber most of my work had been lacking. And even though the revelation may have come in the form of a silly bowl of soup, I found enough spark to eventually deliver that heist movie after all.

Rubik loved it and instantly greenlit it. When I accepted my Oscar a couple of years later, I thanked the late Samuel Stahl and had a cup of chowder before the Governor's Ball.


This one is just priceless with a capital P. Nothing sells cigarettes like two beloved cartoon characters watching their wives do all the yardwork...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Here's the first promotional shot of John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe in the upcoming film "The Raven." It's a fictionalized account of the final five “mysterious” days of the scribe's life. Great idea! Apparently the famous writer joins the hunt for a serial killer whose murders are inspired by his stories.

Says director James McTeigue ("V For Vendetta"): “It’s like the poem, 'The Raven,' itself, crossed with 'Se7en.' It should be pretty cool. The script is really good and everyone responds to it really well. I’m in the middle of casting.”

The screenplay is written by Hannah Shakespeare (who wrote the 2005 drama "Loverboy," and was a story editor on "Bionic Woman" and "Ghost Whisperer") and Ben Livingston.

"The Machinist" / "Session 9" director Brad Anderson had been previously developing the project.

The real death of Poe was also mysterious. The writer was discovered on the streets of Baltimore in great distress and in need of “immediate assistance.” He was wearing someone else’s clothes and repeating the name “Reynolds”. He died shortly after in hospital, never able to explain what had happened.

Sounds creepy and chilling.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


... Like 'The Duke' hawking Christmas seals for almost two minutes. Salt of the Earth dudes... They're all gone. Enjoy this little bit of retro fun.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


His face might as well be printed in the dictionary next to the very definition of "cool."

cool /kul/ adjective,
-er, -est, adverb, noun, verb

Slang .
a. great; fine; excellent: a real cool comic.
b. characterized by great facility; highly skilled or clever: cool maneuvers on the parallel bars.
c. socially adept: It's not cool to arrive at a party too early.

He embodied it in every pore of his body and today is his birthday. Happy birthday, Frank!

Enjoy some of of my favorite performances below...

Dig how rambunctious the performance was...

Dig the vibe of the audience at this legendary comeback show at MSG...

Dig his opening monologue to one of the best saloon songs ever...

Dig how Frank makes Manilow cool...

Friday, December 10, 2010

PERFECT CHRISTMAS (#fridayflash)

Press play for some mood music

We've been doing it for the past 11 or so years.

Every Christmas Eve, Samantha and I would drive up North to the cabin and have ourselves a better Christmas than the one prior. They were perfect.

I decided to pick her up about noon when most of the office decided enough was enough. Watching my colleagues dart out the door, I couldn't help but wonder when Christmas Eve day became the holiday?

Anyway, Sam and I were on our way to cabin soon enough. The cabin... That's what I called it. But let's face it, it was more like a house on a lake that had more comforts than my own home. But yeah, we were cabin-bound and ready to "rough it" through another yuletide season.

We pulled into the snowy driveway and muddled our way inside. While I shoveled the walk, Sam made some hot chocolate and prepped a fire.

# # #

I scooped up the last of the melted marshmallows in my cocoa and suggested we slip off to a nearby tree farm and chop down our tree like we always do. The tree guy kept rambling on and on how Fraser Firs were the way to go and that they were the official Christmas tree of the White House for a reason.

We took the long drive back to see how the rest of the community of cabins decorated their cozy hideaways. The lights were glistening and as it began to snow again and man, if the town didn't look like Dickens postcard...

Our tree had a strong and glorious fragrance with a robust shape, strong limbs and soft needles. I told Sam that she picked out a good one and that this tree was much better than the disaster of a Douglas Fir I chose last silly season. With 'Ol Blue Eyes crooning us classics, I watched her decorate the tree as I tickled the fire some more.

It was present time. She wanted wine. I tipped some scotch. The night was so perfect that I could almost forgive that fact that we each thought we were being clever by purchasing the other iPads. Sam got a tad quiet and I thought it was probably the wine. She said she was just tired.

It was getting late and no cabin Christmas is complete without an annual viewing of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." I had set the DVR timer to tape it so we could watch it in bed and ease off into sleep as we wait for Santa.

But then it came...

No, not Saint Nick. But the commercial during 'Rudolph.' You know it. The one for the national chain that sells shitty jewelry in malls... The commercial that tries to guilt a schmuck like me into buying an engagement ring as an oh-so-clever stocking stuffer... The commercial every unmarried man hates.... Yeah, that one. I felt Sam slip towards the other side of the bed as I watched the rest of 'Rudolph' by myself.

Perfect Christmas, huh? ... I reached for the scotch bottle at the foot of the bed.

ART: Via Flickr j.lee43 and Gerad Coles

Thursday, December 9, 2010


This one is simply hilarious. I must admit that in this crapified age of political correctness in most forms of mass media, I'm shocked this one made it past the pitch stage because it's pure gold. Although, I'm not exactly sure how it's selling soy milk... Nonetheless - genius.

Monday, December 6, 2010



Written by series creator Terence Winter and directed by veteran Tim Van Patten, "A Return to Normalcy" was anything but. Atlantic County Treasurer Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) and Atlantic City braced for change on Election Day in 1920. The grease and oil in his political machine was stronger than ever. But at what price?

Note: While this recap will not be my usual blow-by-blow (HBO did not send out screeners), I will try to be as thorough as possible when it comes to key events, places and references. Please read and enjoy because it's chock full of footnotes...

Also: Enjoy my fan-made trailer for the show. As most of you know, I love 'EMPIRE' but HATE the opening credit sequence. I don't think it properly conveys setting, time, place or era. I mean it was the 'Roaring Twenties' in what was considered 'The Showplace of the Nation...' And I also think that the theme music is ALL WRONG. I just had to make my own intro...

If you agree with me, you're gonna love my fan-made alternate opening...

Subscribe to my newsletter for upcoming book news, pop culture goodies, noir delights and all things gin-soaked. Never spam - just utter coolness from time to time.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

THE WRITER'S DILEMMA (#fridayflash)

The writer had nothing... Nada.

He lit a cigarette, sat down, scratched the back of his head and sought the inspiration that eluded him now for weeks. It was due. While he knew there were endless millions of possibilities, nothing came. Perhaps he was too tired. Or just plain lazy.

He thought of the brilliant people, the ones that made it look easy. Then he thought of those lucky ones who, while not brilliant, managed to string together enough words to entertain the masses.

He read a comic book and after dawdling on YouTube, felt even more useless.

He tried typing the first thing that came to him:

T-h-i-s- s-u-c-k-s a b-i-g v-e-i-n-y ...

The writer stopped because he was being foolish and knew if he didn't, he'd just keep typing nonsense like a savant. And then giggle like a moron to himself.

He decided to look to history for inspiration:

On this day in 1804 some little midget became emperor of France and interestingly, on the same day in 1961, some Cuban dude declared himself a Marxist-Leninist and led his country to Communism virtually overnight. There's a dual kind of story in there somewhere, right? Sure. But maybe someone smarter can write it, he thought.

What about a mystery? He figured those were easy enough. On this day in 1980, four American churchwomen were raped, murdered and buried in El Salvador. Scandalous. Turned out that five national guardsmen were later convicted of murder. Theplot thickens. That kind of book would sell millions and make him the next airport fiction rock star. Ah, but he knew deep down plot wasn't his strong suit.

What about that schmaltzy triumph of the spirit schlock? Works for guys like Mitch Albom, right? On this day in 1982, quacks at the University of Utah Medical Center performed the first implant of a permanent artificial heart in a human. The fella with the fake ticker even lived for 112 days. He heard the record scratch off in his brain. How could it be a 'triumph of the spirit' if the patient croaked? Back to the drawing board.
The writer soon had a breakthrough and figured he was overlooking the obvious -- violence, sex and drugs. A perfect trifecta of inspiration. He saw that on this day in 1993, Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was finally killed by security forces in Medellin. Hmmmm. The source material was already there. That was the good part. But then his writer's brain got the best of him. If the damn idea was so good, there would've already been a movie or novel about it.

That's it. He was out. The tap was dry and the TV went on.

By the time he was finished kicking some twelve year-old's ass in "Splinter Cell" on Xbox Live, the writer was truly certain that whoever said "The ultimate inspiration was the deadline" never had a fucking novel to deliver.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Click the pic for a larger image

Where to begin...

I guess I can buy into the fact that the couple wanted to leave their swingin' cocktail party. But what I'm wondering about in this odd formal wear ad is why they felt the need to swing by the 7-11 for a newspaper, loaf of bread, carton of milk and an orange? And what sense does 'Why have a party when you can just have a ball' make? Is it me?

Monday, November 29, 2010


"Boardwalk Empire" Episode 11 - "Paris Green" was the 11th episode in the series. With only one more to go in the stupendous first season, Nucky Thompson's world is starting to close in on him. Will things be wrapped up by next week?

Some key events:

• Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) navigates some delicate family issues and we finally learn the identity of his father.

• Prohibition Agent Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) is starting to unravel and spends most of the episode addressing Agent Sebso's "temptations." While searching for an illegal still in Mays Landing, their relationship comes to a horrific conclusion.

• Nucky and Margaret address key concerns in their relationship as the pair go toe-to-toe. When Margaret brings up the fact that Nucky may have had her husband killed, Nucky defends his actions and it only gets uglier from there.

• Arnold Rothstein's lawyer advises him to face the World Series Black Sox scandal head-on by showing his face in Chicago and holding his head high.

• Nucky's fear of the consequences of an impending electoral disaster by the Democrats forces him to make changes in his Republican machine by shaking up the pecking order.

In his office, Nucky chastises the Mayoral candidate Edward Bader (Kevin O' Rourke), acting Sheriff Halloran (Adam Mucci) and the rest of the ward bosses for clowning around.

"This is the toughest election in our lifetime and you're telling jokes... Do you think Fletcher is over in the Democratic club doing a vaudeville routine? He's not... He's out there shaking hands."

Nucky announces that he's making a change to meet the future head on. While Ed Bader will be a big part of that, Nucky says the new mayor can't do it alone. "He'll need a strong arm if he's swinging for the fences. A strong arm and clean record. That's why with great regret and much gratitude for years of service, I have accepted the resignation of my brother Elias Thompson for the office of sheriff"

The men are shocked. Nucky offers the star to Halloran if he wants it. Halloran tells Nucky he won't let him down.

For my full annotated recap, historical footnotes, episode videos, tunes from the era and other thoughts, click HERE.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Press play for some mood music

There was something going on here.

I plopped in my barstool in the way-too-bright airport lounge at Denver International Airport and looked through my notes. I had them jotted them down in a small black Moleskine because I wanted to look inconspicuous. Nursing a Jack before my flight back to Manhattan, I combed through what I had uncovered and the more I thought about it, the more I felt uneasy.

Now I've always loved a juicy conspiracy theory like the next guy but what turned up at one of the world's busiest airports was beyond compare.

Let me backtrack. When Esquire approached me to do this piece a month back, I thought they were batshit. The more I dug, though, and saw the "what the fuck?" evidence, I knew those Big Apple eds were on to something odd if anything else.

* * *
First things first. I've spoken to many people who had told me that back in 1995, Denver didn't even necessarily need a new airport. What's more, the new DIA has less runways and boasts absolutely any new innovations whatsoever.

I've been told that from the get go, the actual work methods of the new airport was unorthodox at best. Main contractors and sub-contractors were hired to carry out only small pockets of work then quickly dismissed from the site. At the end of the day, I've been told off the record that it certainly was a tactic to ensure no construction worker would ever see the entire scale of the project.

And what of it? Originally budgeted at around a billion dollars, it soon skyrocketed to $5.3 billion. Why? Five large buildings were fully constructed and subsequently deemed to have been positioned incorrectly. So what happened? They were buried and the current airport in constructed on top of those original structures. Conspiracy theory wackos say its in those very underground buildings where our next government will be located.

I also have recorded several other goofy things that I kept hearing repeatedly during the course of my stay here in Denver.

While juicy, do I really need to include that the aerial view of the DIA appears to have been designed in a shape of a swastika? A leading air traffic official tells me that it probably is a coincidence and designed that way for optimum efficiency.

Oh, and then there's the Queen of England who was said to have bought up large chunks of land around the airport. Why would the Crown want huge plots of land in a remote part of Colorado?

And don't even get me started on the the rash of cracked airplane windshields and delayed flights. Architects have told me that the location for the new airport, is at best ludicrous, and it's very elevated location is a result of those delayed flights and mysterious airplane ailments.

* * *

A nearby stewardess, also waiting for her flight, noticed me and my notes and casually asked what I was reading. I smirked and told her she didn't wanna know. She had my number, though. She said I looked like a cop or some sort of investigator.

"Close..." I said. "I'm a reporter..."

She was intrigued enough to ask me what I was working on.

"The airport..." was all I said.

Again, she looked like she was two steps ahead of me. "Did you see the plaque?"

I shook my head.

"Come on..." she said, leading me to an odd mounted capstone. In the center was a Masonic square and compass symbol with a dedication from something called “New World Airport Commission.” The only rub? No such body exists.

She also showed me a floor inlay with the symbols AU/AG. While the easy answer pegs this towards gold and silver, another theory may suggest that its symbols also stand for a new strain of Hepatitis Australia Antigen.

Now I wouldn't have given that last argument much of a thought but since it was located in front of a particular mural, it gave me a quick chill.

The Denver International Airport if chock full of creepy murals peppered throughout the terminals. I told her that while I didn't buy into creative images per se, I do need to feel at ease when I'm in a goddamn airport. Obviously subjective, there's no denying, however, the fucking art at DIA is downright horrific.

I stared at the AU/AG plate in the floor and looked up at the mural. It depicted a scene of mass genocide, death and harsh social control. It was plain staggering. I took a quick shot of it with my iPhone. Where to begin? The Nazi-like figure in a gas mask wielding a machine gun and Arabian sword spearing the dove of peace or the women carrying dead babies amidst a genocide stream of what can be conceived as some sort of germ warfare? In one corner of the mural is an copy of a poem, known to have been written by a child who died in a German concentration camp.

She pointed towards "Blue Devil's Horse" outside in the distance. It was supposed to greet passengers on their approach. When I told her that it was hardly a reassuring symbol of safe travel, she said that the rearing mustang sculpture has been likened to a horse associated with the secret Government Montauk Project, which followed the more well known Philadelphia Experiment. The Montauk Air Force on Long Island New York is purported to be the site of an amazing experiment that studied mind control, spontaneous object creation as well as time and space travel.

But screw it, like I said, I'm no art critic. By the time we arrived at the gargoyle in the suitcase, I all but needed another drink.

* * *
We sat down and as I checked the time she leaned in and asked me if I needed to know anything else.

That threw me and after I pressed her for who she really was, she admitted that she indeed was a low level member of The New World Order and that I shouldn't get on the plane.

"Why would you be telling me all this?" I asked.

"The people need to eventually know all of this," she answered. "After all, 2012 is almost here. It soon won't matter."

Driving on the highway hours later, the plane crash was all over the news and my blood ran cold.

I kept repeating her words in my mind. It. Soon. Won't. Matter.

When I pulled into the driveway, I decided it was time to buy a gas mask.

MUSIC: "Airport1.0" by Joel Putman can be downloaded HERE. Enjoy the creepy documentary below.


... There were also shitty drivers in 1912. Don't think it's only the tools in BMWs today.

My #fridayflash is to come. Turkey Day effed me all up.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Gobble! Gobble!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Nothing sells coffee like a tired dad beating the bejesus out of his son...
(click pics to enlarge)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


... Like this.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Click play for some mood music

I'd say that my parents screwed me up pretty good. They weren't normal. In fact, I'd say they were pretty fucking crazy.

My dad Rusty was the fourth bill in a traveling wild west show that had all the authenticity of your basic dime store six shooter.

And Ma? She was his apprentice and, truth be told, none too bright either. What else would explain how she'd let a two year-old brave the old man's "legendary" knife toss? He'd tell audiences he learned his trade from a Sioux on the South Dakota plains when in fact Uncle Snippy taught pop everything he knew in the back alley of a Baltimore liquor store. His mentor in the Art of Stupidity...

Yeah, they were all fucked.

Holidays were tough on the road. I remember one year the rickety show brought us somewhere outside of Sante Fe. I thing I learned - even as a baby - was Christmas just ain't the same without the cold. I needed to see that fake smoke coming out of my mouth.

Thinking they were doing their son a favor, they brought me to some fucking excuse for a North Pole at some Christmas tree farm outside of Lubbock, Texas. From the satanic Saint Nick to the sad burrow they plopped me on, it was a goddamn joke. Where were the elves? The presents? The fucking snow?

Another holiday ruined.

And you know how most kids go nuts on Halloween? One year, Pop decides to invite Uncle Snippy to the road and figured it would be more fun if they dressed up and I took them trick-or-treating. Flasks and all. By the 15th house, they were shitfaced and eventually hauled to the drunk tank. After I wandered back to our rodeo tent, all mom wanted to know is if I got her some candy.

# # #

But the years flew by and eventually they died. It wasn't anything as simple as a heart attack or stroke. Nope. Even in death, they embarrassed.

Constipated for days, Uncle Snippy suffered a brain hemorrhage while trying to force out a huge turd. They found him in the outhouse by the billygoat pen.

Ma? Well, she found Jesus. And while she was being baptized during her 'Born Again' ceremony in a cruddy lake, she slipped, hit her head under the water and drowned in no time flat.

But Pops takes the cake. One night after one of his benders, he decided to instigate a rabid monkey. Even in a cage, that chimp was stronger than a group of five men. He clutched onto dad's arm, turned him around and strangled him in 78 seconds flat.

Truth be told, I more relieved than bereaved. What I find funny, though, is that while they were fuck ups, their entire lives, someone had the forethought to draft a last will and testament.

Thinking they would repay me for the life of shit they bestowed upon me, I learned that I was willed the assets of their crappy rodeo act. Yup, I was the proud owner of a deaf horse named Trixter, 14 dull knives of various sizes, a pair of dirty chaps and of course, the right to use the name "Pronto Billy and his First Dame of the Open Frontier."


In my early 20s, I stayed with the rodeo and developed my own act of sorts. I sharpened those knives and employ about four illegals who dodge these blades every night.

I'm now known as Pronto Billy, Jr. and close the show to standing ovations whenever there's a crowd.

Every now and then, though, I see Ma and Pop peeking from behind that curtain and I have to be honest, it scares the shit out of me.

Art: Courtesy of Wip Wap Web. Music: "Sixteen Tons" by Tennessee Ernie Ford. It can be downloaded HERE.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


It was an era when tough guys were able to sell cigarettes on TV... Enjoy.

"Paul Mall" was the sponsor of "M Squad," a television program which ran on NBC during the '50s. That's perhaps why Lee Marvin, the show's star, appeared on its commercials during the episodes.

As for his quirky pronunciation? The cigarette's name is correctly pronounced with the rhyming couplet "pell mell," as made evident in the advertisement.

The American Tobacco company would dispatch numerous publicists to instruct the cast and staff of the correct pronunciation during live commercials. With the dissipation of cigarette advertising, first with bans on radio, then television, the pronunciation has found a decidedly generational tone. Those who lived in the era of the audible advertisements pronounce it "pell mell" while those of us -- MOST of us -- have only the visual title of the packaging to refer to often use the increasingly more common phonetic "paul mall."

Monday, November 15, 2010


Sunday's episode of "Boardwalk Empire" was written by Steve Kornacki and directed by Brad Anderson. Between the looming election and the damage control following an attempt on his brother Eli's life, Atlantic City Treasurer Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) seems to be spinning many of his plates in the air.

Some key events:

• A matured Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) returns to Atlantic City after spending months in Chicago only to find Agent Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) waiting in the wings ready to arrest him on five counts of murder.
• Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) decides to helps Madame Jeunet (Anna Katarina) when she tells her that Nucky is charging her double rent and may have to close the shop.

• As a result of a weakening political machine, Nucky decides to shake things up as he positions a new Atlantic City Mayor and acting sheriff.

• In New York, Nucky Thompson-rivals the D'Alessio brothers are introduced to Arnold Rothstien (Michael Stuhlberg) and hatch a plan against the Atlantic City Treasurer.

"I understand that you’re interested in the liquor business," Rothstein asks them. He goes on to say that he can only see going into the bootlegging business one way -- with good hooch, not the diluted "rot gut" kind.

"There's a growing demand for good whiskey in the United States," Rothstein tells them. "And I'm not talking about the swill you stirred up in your chamber pot. I'm talking about the best scotch from Britain." He wants to set up a business to import scotch and have ships with crews waiting outside the three mile limit so all they have to do is smuggle it ashore.

Rothstein says that the ports in Atlantic City are ideal for their kind of distribution. The only snag? "The man that runs that city," Rothstein tells them.

"Normally I would make a deal with such a man," he tells them. "But I find Nucky Thompson greedy and unreasonable."

You'll never guess how Rothstein chooses to deal with his problem ...

For my full annotated recap, historical footnotes, episode videos, tunes from the era and other thoughts, click HERE.

Friday, November 12, 2010

RED CLOUD AT SUNDOWN (#fridayflash)

Please click play for some mood music


When Flapjack Collins got wind that the Mexican government was shelling out up to fifty American for Apache scalps, he pondered if he was the killing kind of man.

He worked grain at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Franklin County, Kentucky and being that there was no future as far as he could see, he packed up with no notice and hit the open trail.

The going got rough somewhere around South Texas or ... Hell, it could've even been Arizona. It was hard to tell. One thing was for certain - this frontier wasn't what he read about in those silly adventure pamphlets.

His vices ate at him like a cancer and soon realized that if the desire was strong enough, nothing can stop them, whatever your poison...

Be it the sinful flesh of a woman ...

The sweet high of the opium plant ...

Or that fresh aroma of burning tobacco.

He swooshed his match against his aged, weather-beaten saddle and as he licked the tip of his cigarette, only one thought ran through his mind.

"What I wouldn't do right now for a shot of White Lightnin'..." Flapjack used the last of his stash - stolen from the distillery, of course - midway through Texas and he was starting to get the shakes.

At sundown and amid tumbleweeds, he made camp and burned a can of beans over a small fire. He was starting to wonder if he'd ever see an Apache on the godforsaken goose chase.

# # #

The next morning, Flapjack's horse Anchor was gone. Vanished into the dust of the plains. The cowboy was now stranded and had no choice but to forge ahead on foot.

Not two miles up the trail he saw one. The red skin and long silky black hair glistened in the Western sunlight. But with no horse, Flapjack was at a tactical disadvantage.

The Apache saw him and after thinking twice about the white stranger, made a friendly gesture. Flapjack smiled.

As the cowboy approached, all the Indian wanted to know was if he had any coffee.

Flapjack gripped his knife and answered, "I do..."

# # #

That night, under a moonlit sky, Flapjack's new horse - Sanuye - couldn't relax and twitched about while the cowboy unrolled his sleep sack. The Apache told him that the horse's name meant "Red Cloud at Sundown" and if Flapjack wasn't damned to see a crimson glow in the night sky.

But Sanuye stood on his hind legs, fussing.

"Dang animal ... Makin' a ruckus since dinner..." Flapjack searched his knapsack for a sugar cube and gave it to the fidgety horse. "'Whatsa matter, girl? You looked stronger than a Kentucky flagpole earlier today."

A smarter fella than Flapjack would perhaps raise an eyebrow as to why the Indian only wanted a measly bag of coffee for this cursed horse.

Flapjack just figured Sanuye was ornery because he watched his master die.

Flapjack found out quickly that he was no good at scalping and realized it took a certain kind of man - and strength for the matter - to eloquently extract a significant of one's hair. So he did the next best thing - shot the Apache with his six shooter and hacked off his head. Hell, it was still a bounty and as far as he saw, a perfectly portable proof of trophy. He was getting his fifty no matter what.

Sanuye was calm now and Flapjack noticed a bulge in the saddle bag that certainly wasn't there before.

"What in the blazes?" It was an unlabeled bottle of hooch filled to the brim. Flapjack bit off the cork and spit it to the ground.

He sucked it down and smiled. The bourbon tasted as if it were aged in a special oak casks reserved only for millionaires. And by golly, it went down easy. Flapjack knew his hooch and this was pure gold.

But then he started to choke. As he stumbled to the ground, Flapjack soon started to hear voices in his head. They sounded ancient and powerful and told him to get his gun and sit beside his new horse.

Cocking the trigger, the last thing Flapjack saw was the dead Apache's head in the dirt smiling at him.

After the gunshot, Flapjack drifted towards death and it finally dawned on him: You never mess with an Apache shaman in the middle of the Arizona desert.

Music: Native American Flute & Drum "Allah Humah" Track 6 from the "Sacred Space." Download it HERE.
Art: Oldwesternboy1 at Flickr and Wikipedia.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


...Both past and present. Happy Veterans Day.

The 'Basement' appreciates you...


Seriously, how can you not love the above pic of Tina Fey?

Vargas girl pose -- check

Vintage typewriter -- check

Adorable mojo with with just enough sex appeal -- check

... And just in case, you need another excuse to realize that writer-comedienne-actress Tina Fey is the cat's pajamas, she's just been given the Mark Twain Award for American Humor.

Awarded by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts annually since 1998, it's presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to American humor.

Fey's in great company. Past recipients include:

1998 - Richard Pryor
1999 - Jonathan Winters
2000 - Carl Reiner
2001 - Whoopi Goldberg
2002 - Bob Newhart
2003 - Lily Tomlin
2004 - Lorne Michaels
2005 - Steve Martin
2006 - Neil Simon
2007 - Billy Crystal
2008 - George Carlin
2009 - Bill Cosby

Fey has won seven Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Awards and four trophies from Writers Guild of America Awards. What's more, she was singled out as the performer who had the greatest impact on culture and entertainment in 2008 by the Associated Press, who also gave her its AP Entertainer of the Year award.

Watch the ceremony Sunday at 9 on PBS.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Wonder what he'd being doing now if he was alive?

Even eating a hot dog, 'Ol Blue Eyes looked cool...

Monday, November 8, 2010



Sunday's episode of "Boardwalk Empire" was written by Meg Jackson and directed by Brian Kirk. Most of the episode took place in Chicago and had Nucky Thompson wheeling and dealing prior to the 1920 Republican National Convention.

Some key events:

• While visiting Chicago during the Republican National Convention, Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) meets Warren Harding's charming campaign manager Harry Daugherty (Christopher McDonald). Nucky's new acquaintance just may have soured him on the once-promising prospect of backing New Jersey Senator Walter Edge.

• Sheriff Eli Thompson (Shea Whigham) is gravely injured and Nucky goes into panic mode as a result. Out of his element and so far away from his base of operations, Nucky turns to the only two people he can trust -- Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) and Margaret Schoeder (Kelly Macdonald).

• As speculation continues to build around him, gambler and "businessman" Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) prepares for his testimony in the Black Sox Scandal.

• Straight arrow agent Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) bristles at his wife's request for an unorthodox child bearing procedure and urges her to follow "God's will."

• Jimmy's mom Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol) urges his common-law wife Angela to get a job when the money begins to run out.

But possibly, the water-cooler moment in the show had to be the confrontation between Nucky's former flame Lucy Danziger (Paz de la Huerta) and his new gal pal Margaret Schroeder. In short, it was the bitch-slap heard 'round Atlantic City. And one that was a long time comin'...

For my full annotated recap, historical footnotes, episode videos, tunes from the era and other thoughts, click HERE.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Please click play for some mood music
"Bob Wills Boogie" by Bob Wills and The Playboys. It can be downloaded HERE.

Who knew where we were?

Me and Linky had a job in Philly, did the deed, and were on our way back to Chicago by way of Bumblefuck, America.

Shoulda known better than to let Linky drive but I had a little too much hooch in me so I leaned back in the seat as some cat named Bob Wills on the radio sang me to sleep.

A few hours later, I saw we were buried deep in West Virgina. Wills wasn't singing anymore. In fact, the gospel told me we weren't where we were supposed to be.

I rubbed the sand out of my eyes. "Why the fuck aren't we home?"

Linky stared and stumbled. "Shade, I just kept driving..."

" --- YOU JUST KEPT DRIVING. Didn't you see signs for Ohio?"

"Shade -- " he said pleading, "-- The trip down felt like a straight run."

"Straight run my prick, Linky!"

I calmed myself down before I shot the fucking moron. In my brain, all I heard was my wife wanting to know what happened to her stupid brother and me making up some half-assed story she'd see right through.

"Pull into the next flophouse. We'll start fresh in the morning." I said, staring at nothing out the window.

Minutes later, in the pitch black of the roadside night, we pulled into Roy's Motel Cafe and set up camp. At check-in, we found out there was no Roy but for an extra finske, Doogan behind the counter threw in a pint of Jim Beam on account of there being no liquor stores in town.

* * *
The next morning, I woke up to the room's blasting transitor with some yahoo named Spade Cooley crooning a tune. He was no Sinatra, but the guy wasn't bad.

In the corner of the room, Linky was shaving and said that he heard on the radio there was a county fair not five minutes away.

"Link, don't get any ideas. Do you realize how many diamonds we have to deliver? We don't need any distractions," I told him.

"Don't be a crumb-bum, Shade," he snapped. "If you had the sense of a billygoat, you'd win my sister a stuffed bear. I'm getting one for Ingrid."

I burped up some bourbon. I killed that bottle the second we got into the room and passed out in my clothes. Catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror, it was obvious. We looked like fucking criminals in the middle of America's apple pie and this fucker wants to stroll a county fair like we're on a goddamn date.

"Fine, Link..." I said. "Whatever. We'll win the girls a stuffed toy."

* * *
The fairgrounds were airy and open with all sorts of townfolk trickling in. I was hungover and the cotton candy and hot dog carts weren't doing me any favors.

Linky was like a kid at the candy store and found the amusement stands before the bulk of the children. This is what I was dealing with.

Twenty minutes and three dollars later, we had our stuffed animals. Linky had to settle for an alligator since I took the last teddy bear.

"Happy? Let's get the fuck outta here," I said, knowing it was going to be a chore.

It wasn't that easy. Some little dish at the stand wanted Linky to escort her onto the Ferris wheel because of her fear of heights.

As he bought their tickets, I grabbed his shoulder. "You ride this fucking Ferris wheel and we're outta here. I don't care if she wants to taste you in the back of her throat afterwards, we're gone. Got me?"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah..." was the last thing he said before I saw them. And they were staring at me and Linky like meat.

"What the fuck..." I whispered.
"Whatsa matter, boys?" the dish said. "Don't be scared. We'll be nice..."

My blood ran cold. "Linky?" I asked. "Got your gun on you?"

He shook his head. "It's in my bag." Always an idiot.

"But we ain't colored," he said to the dish who was just laughing.

I looked at her. "We don't have to be. We ain't white to them."

I pulled out my gun from the holster. "Run... "

The stuffed toys were history and by time we got to the entrance gate, a few of the sheets were getting off. Funny, it's hard to run in that ridiculous garb.

The gravel smoke was furious as the Buick dovetailed onto the highway.

Thirty miles out of town, I pulled over and told Linky to get out of the car. This time, I couldn't contain myself and worked him over pretty well.

"Get in that fucking back seat," I ordered. "And don't you say one goddamn word the whole rest of this trip." He was bloody and moaning but I didn't care. He'd live. Linky maybe had a broken nose, if that.

By the time we arrived in Chicago, I had no worries about what I was going to tell the little lady about her idiot brother. And why she doesn't have that stuffed bear...