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Apr. 26th, 2011


Uneasy Street, by Wade Miller (1948)

Max Thursday meets with a prospective client in a hotel room - not the pretty young thing he was probably hoping for, but an older woman, clutching an antique music box to her chest. She wants Thursday to deliver said box to someone else, and whenever the private detective asks for particulars, the old woman snaps at him trying to get all the details down. For good reason: Once she's outlined Thursday's directives completely, the music box drops from her fingers, and she falls dead to the floor. The old bird had been fatally stabbed shortly before Thursday arrived and she was trying her best to remain conscious and give him his orders before giving up the ghost.

That's dedication. And your hook for the book.

The scene almost repeats itself when Thursday delivers the music box to an Austrian art expert in his hotel room. At one point, the expert excuses himself to his bedroom. After a few minutes of waiting, Thursday follows him only to find the guy kiboshed - his throat slashed.

In both instances, the murderer has phoned the police in an attempt to frame Max.

A decent mystery. What's notable is that Thursday doesn't carry a gun (at least in this book). He deliberately let his license expire shortly beforehand.

Apr. 25th, 2011

...and you gotcho head ALL THE WAY UP IT

Tourist Trap (1979)

Thanks again to Laurie's Planet of Sound. I go in just about every weekend. And if I get a movie, its either some biodegradeable hunk of processed cheese I've never seen before, or a lost movie from my misbegotten youth that I'll find has aged well/badly/negligible.

In this case it's the latter. I can't recall when exactly in the 80s I saw this, or even if it was HBO, Skinemax, or some random basic cable channel, but I do remember being disturbed by one scene, where the killer has strapped some helpless hitchhiker to a table and calmly - soothingly - explains how she is going to die as he covers her face with plaster. Her heart bursts before she can suffocate.

Ingredients: 30% gore; 0% nudity; 110% Aged Chuck Connors Ham
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Writer's Block: Beep, Bop, Boop

What was the first video or computer game you ever played? Did you love it or hate it, and why?


Yes. My family owned a Pong game.

I am that old.

Apr. 20th, 2011


Violent Country, by Frank O'Rourke (1959)

It's like A Fistful of Dollars, except instead of a lone gunman riding into town and stirring things up, it's someone who's been living in town all his life.

And he's a baddie.

And his identity is kept a mystery until the halfway point.

And the climax of the story takes place in his super secret hideout inside an old abandoned mine.

So, depending on your point of view, its only sorta like A Fistful of Dollars.

Apr. 19th, 2011


I had a crush on her when I was little.

RIP Elisabeth Sladen (1948 - 2011)

And there goes another piece of my childhood.

Death in Uptown, by Michael Raleigh (1991)

A book I probably wouldn't have even given a second look at based on the cover alone had a friend not recommended the author. Added bonus: the book is predominantly set in the Chicago neighborhood that I live in. Of course, it was written in '91 and is set in '83. So most of the place names are unfamiliar, with the exception of the Aragon and the street names. But most of the time I was like, "Dude...murder scene is less than a mile from where I live. Cool..."

It also helps that its a good book, period. And the lead protagonist Paul Whelan joins my list of favorite compassionate, interesting private detectives.

Apr. 15th, 2011


Dance With the Dead, by Richard S Prather (1960)

A friend of Shell Scott's is murdered and Scott takes it upon himself to find the killer. Who is the victim? The editor/photographer of a cheesecake magazine. And one of the clues left behind at the murder scene was a rather compromising photo of one of the last year's centerfolds - but the photo is of a...erm, rather specific area.

     I knew where to go from here. I had a clue.
     I had a picture of her fanny.
     All I had to do was-find it.

Yes. For sure, you're in a Shell Scott novel.

Whether I was burned out with Prather specifically or my mind was elsewhere, but this one was - initially - not doing much for me. Slightly over 200 pages. I had barely moved past the halfway point before a week had passed. Then something interesting happened about two-thirds of the way in.

     I felt better after I'd figured the thing out. Rather pleased with myself, in fact. I knew how to get the answers, knew what I had to do. It was simple. It was as plain as the nose on my face.
     I had to find Shell Scott.

That's still Scott narrating. After he falls out of a tree and konks his head. Amnesia! He loses his memory. He has no time to immediately ponder it because he's being pursued by gangsters (and he's only wearing a grass skirt [He's in Hawaii - long story]). Even so, his Marine training subconsciously kicks in and he winds up killing one guy in unarmed combat, grabbing a gun and dispatching another.

But more importantly, the new memory-less Shell Scott is a blank slate. So 99% of the usual jokey-ness, leering, innuendos, etc normally found in his situations/first person narrative is turned off like a switch. The contrast between the rest of the book and what preceded it is a shock. A pleasant one.

And amnesiac Shell Scott seems to be a more capable private detective than the regular shmoe.

I say "rest of the book" but of course in between the penultimate and final chapters Shell sees a neurosurgeon and gets his old personality back. Oh well...

Apr. 14th, 2011


Gallifreyan Psychology 101

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Дорогие российские Спаммеры,

Прочь Вы сыновья лишенных матери козлов!

Apr. 12th, 2011


Puts on Bragging Cap.

"Congrats John,
You are on the RSVP guest list for the Doctor Who screening.
What: Advanced screening of two-hour premiere of “Doctor Who” (Please note, no stars will be in attendance, unless you count me.)
When: 9:30 p.m. April 20 screening. Check-in begins at 8:15 p.m.
Where: Landmark Century Centre Cinema, 2828 N. Clark St."

:Takes off Bragging Cap & does Numfar's Dance of Joy:

This means nothing to you non-Doctor Who nerds, but I'm seriously stoked.

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