Monday, November 29, 2010

Bullet Points: Post-Turkey Feast Edition

• In January Magazine today, Linda L. Richards reviews The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women, by James Ellroy. She writes that “The Hilliker Curse is not a story that is either happy or sappy. There are few rainbows here, and the author of L.A. Confidential and The Cold Six Thousand doesn’t ride into the sunset in the end. This is a man whose childhood relationship with his mother was dysfunctional at best. In one of their stormy intervals, then ten-year-old James wished her dead. Three months later, she was. Unsurprisingly, as he grew to adulthood, Ellroy brought his issues with him, among them, a bucketful of oedipal guilt and a front end loader full of issues about women. And this would surprise you because ...?” The full review is here.

• I was sorry to hear that Saskatchewan-born actor Leslie Nielsen died yesterday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was 84 years old and had been under treatment for pneumonia. After making a name for himself on the TV shows The Bold Ones and Bracken’s World, as well as in dramatic films such as Forbidden Planet (1956) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Nielsen became “the Olivier of spoofs,” as movie critic Roger Ebert once put it. His deadpan delivery was a hit in such pictures as Airplane! (1980), Spy Hard (1996), and the Naked Gun series, which was inspired by the outrageous 1982 TV show, Police Squad! There are many more tributes to Nielsen available on the Web today, including those here, here, here, here, and here. But really, the best way to honor this veteran performer is by watching his on-screen work. Brighten up your Monday by clicking here and here.

• One more reason to smile: This video may not beat a previous “flash mob” performance for sheer exuberance, but it’s certainly seasonally appropriate. (Hat tip to Patti Abbott.)

• Interviews worth reading: J. Sydney Jones talks with John Burdett, author of the Thailand-set, Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep series, including its most recent installment, The Godfather of Kathmandu. Meanwhile, novelist and Rap Sheet contributor Mark Coggins chats up Leslie S. Klinger, Sherlock Holmes expert and editor of the handsome, three-volume set, The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes.

Oh, and by the way, if you missed reading Coggins’ enjoyable, original Holmes yarn, “Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Black Bishop”--which was syndicated over the last month in the San Francisco Chronicle--it’s still available on the Web. Use the following links: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V.

• Come January, Stark House Press will finally bring to market two previously unpublished novels--The Silent Wall and The Return of Marvin Palaver--by Peter Rabe (1921-1990). Those books, plus “a very rare Rabe short story, ‘Hard Case Redhead,’” will appear in a single volume. “On tap for the near future,” Stark House reports, “are a two-in-one volume of vintage sleaze crime novels from the famous (under his real name) Don Elliott and a nice trio from Day Keene, and many other exciting titles.”

• And you wonder why observers think failed former half-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is clueless when it comes to foreign affairs ...

• Was this really “the worst cop show ever”?

• José Ignacio Escribano catches us up on this year’s Spanish crime-fiction awards.

• The latest entry in Dick Adler’s serial novel, Forget About It: The First Al Zymer Senile Detective Mystery, has now been posted here. An archive of his entire work so far can be enjoyed here.

• Television Obscurities recaps the history of ABC-TV’s half-hour-long Felony Squad (1966-1969), which starred Howard Duff and Dennis Cole.

• And Janet Rudolph spotlights a list, from Flavorwire, of the “10 Most Beautiful Public Libraries in the U.S.” Being an incurable bibliophile, I’ve visited most of these structures, so can see why they made the cut. But I think another one that ought to have been included is Portland, Oregon’s Central Library, designed by architect A.E. Doyle and opened in 1913. It was to that majestic cathedral of books that I went for most of my reading material as a child. The building has been handsomely renovated since, without losing any of its historic merit (at least to my eye).

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