Thursday, March 01, 2012

Bullet Points: World Book Day Edition*

• The March edition of Mike Ripley’s Shots column, “Getting Away with Murder,” has been posted in a most timely fashion. With his usual good humor, Ripley addresses subjects ranging from Lindsey Davis’ new Roman novel, Master and God, and publisher Orion’s 20th birthday to a recent crop of spy yarns, Donald Westlake’s “lost” novel, The Comedy Is Finished, and his prediction that “the ‘walking man’ will be the defining image of crime-fiction cover art for 2012.” (You will have visit Ripley’s column to view examples of such redundantly conceived book fronts.)

• Evan Lewis declares the opening music from the 1957-1960 TV series Richard Diamond, Private Detective, starring David Janssen, to be “one of the coolest TV mystery themes ever.” Listening to it again, it’s hard to disagree.

• To celebrate the 200th anniversary, in January 2009, of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth, I posted a video clip on this page of Addams Family alumnus John Astin reciting that author’s famous 1845 poem, “The Raven.” Earlier this week, editor-blogger Janet Rudolph posted another reading of the same classic work, this time by James Earl Jones of Paris and Star Wars fame. Listen to both (you have all kinds of free time, right?) and decide which you prefer.

• A hearty congratulations to Quebec writer Jacques Filippi, whose fast-improving crime-fiction blog, The House of Crime and Mystery, today celebrates the first anniversary of its launch.

• Meanwhile, the Webzine Beat to a Pulp returns for its fourth year with a new story, “Friction Ridge (Or Beguiling the Bard in Three Acts),” by David James Keaton.

• Oh, and the second collection of stories from Beat to a Pulp, titled simply Beat to a Pulp: Round 2, will be released later this month.

• Award-winning short-story writer Patti Abbott has proposed yet another flash-fiction challenge. This time she’s suggesting that writers create a tale--not necessarily one rooted in crime or mystery--“set in a zoo. The zoo can be incidental to the plot, but that’s the setting.” Stories ought not exceed 1,200 words in length, and should be posted in the writer’s blog on Monday, April 2. If you want to get involved, but don’t have a blog of your own, drop an e-note to Abbott here.

Acorn Media, the leading distributor of British TV programming to North American consumers, announced yesterday that it has acquired a 64 percent stake in Agatha Christie Limited (with the Christie family retaining 36 percent). “This milestone acquisition,” explains a press release, “gives Acorn Media majority ownership of Christie’s extensive works including more than 80 novels and short-story collections, 19 plays, a film library of nearly 40 TV films, and iconic characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, among many others.” Other than as a means of beefing up its corporate bottom line, Acorn is vague about how it intends to exploit its new position; it already distributes TV movie adaptations of Christie’s work. However, one small line from the press release provides a clue: “We see this acquisition as a key step in the company’s continued evolution into content ownership and television production.” It suggests that Acorn is no longer happy merely to distribute material from other video production companies, but wants a stake in that end of the business, as well.

• Good news: U.S. gun ownership has declined over the last 30 years.

• This ought to be interesting: Author Christa Faust (Choke Hold, Butch Fatale, Dyke Dick: Double-D Double Cross) appears to have landed a new gig as the “no-holds-barred” advice columnist for the Crime Factory Webzine. A note in her blog invites readers to participate. “Got issues? Burning questions?,” she writes. “Or maybe you just need to be told what to do. Drop me a line at with ‘ask Christa’ in the subject line ...” No word yet on when Faust’s column will debut.

• Add two new crime-fiction mags to your reading list: The delightfully titled Blood & Tacos, which contributor Gary Phillips says features “all-original, ’70s- and ’80s-era vigilante pulp short stories in the vein of The Executioner, The Destroyer, et al.”; and The Big Click, which will be available online as well as for e-readers.

• Larry Harnisch, who writes The Daily Mirror, a terrific blog about Los Angeles history, reports that renovations on the Pasadena estate (at 1315 South El Molino Drive) that served as Hollis Mulwray’s home in the 1974 film Chinatown, are moving right along. Another post, which showed this fixing-up in its early stages, is here.

• TV critic Stephen Bowie offers a remembrance of Jerome Ross, a TV writer whose work could be seen on such series as Arrest and Trial, The Untouchables, The Defenders, Perry Mason, and Mannix. Ross passed away on February 11--one day after his 101st birthday.

• And as most people know by now, former Monkees heartthrob Davy Jones died yesterday at age 66. This coming weekend will offer two different tributes to the actor-singer. Antenna TV stations across the country will celebrate Jones’ life on Saturday, beginning at 1 p.m. ET with a showing of Head, the 1968 comedy-adventure film starring The Monkees, and follow that with a 58-episode marathon of the TV show The Monkees. (Click here to see if there’s an Antenna TV station in your area.) Then on Sunday, Me-TV will recap Jones’ career some more, beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET, with episodes of The Brady Bunch and Love, American Style in which Jones guest starred.

* Well, at least Britain is celebrating World Book Day today. The international World Book and Copyright Day, sponsored by UNESCO, isn’t scheduled until April 23.

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