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...

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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.