Thursday, October 01, 2009

Bullet Points: The No More Summer Edition

PEN USA, a Los Angeles-based organization of professional writers, has announced that it will give Elmore Leonard (Road Dogs) its lifetime achievement award at a ceremony in December. Past recipients of that same commendation include Ray Bradbury, Woody Allen, Walter Mosley, Jane Smiley, Robert Towne, Gore Vidal.

ABCtales, in association with the e-zine Shots, is hosting a “brand-new literary competition designed to take the art of thriller writing into new territory for the Internet era.” According to a Shots press release, “Entrants are being asked to write 10 episodes of a serial thriller, each of around 1,800 words, or 10 minutes in length when the story is read aloud. Each episode must have a cliffhanger ending and be written to create maximum tension and suspense.” Best-selling novelist Lee Child will judge the entries, and the winner will have his or her “full story read by a professional actor and be published as a serialized podcast, available for download from anywhere in the world, on The winner’s work will also be introduced by Lee Child ... to his publisher and agent.” Full details are available here.

• The A-Team movie “is up and running.” Does anyone care?

• Do you remember 87th Precinct, with Robert Lansing?

• Canadian mystery author Lyn Hamilton died on September 10. But only today has Mystery Fanfare posted a collection of tributes to the late author, put together by David Cole.

• French mystery fan Xavier Lechard has inaugurated a new, irregular series in his blog, At the Villa Rose.” The focus, he explains, is on “lost” French crime-fictionists, writers who, “despite being popular and/or celebrated in their country, have never made it in the Anglosphere. Some had a handful of their books translated but failed to build an audience. Others were initially acclaimed then slipped into obscurity. Still others were too original. Most, sadly, were just never given a chance. Have you ever heard of Frédéric Dard, Michel Cousin, Noël Vindry, Madeleine Coudray, Jean-François Coatmeur, Jacques Decrest, Pierre Siniac, S.A. Steeman, or Martin Méroy? No? That’s what ‘Lost Translation’ sets to correct.” Lechard’s first subject: René Reouven.

Happy 85th birthday, Jimmy Carter!

• I’m surprised that John Mullan’s list of “10 of the best tattoos in literature” doesn’t include mention of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But it does feature “The Red-Headed League,” by Arthur Conan Doyle, and Val McDermid’s The Grave Tattoo.

• If you’re new to Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes short stories, you might want to begin reading them according to their popularity, rather than their publication dates.

This re-edit of the main title sequence for Tomorrow Never Dies, Pierce Brosnan’s 1997 James Bond film, makes me sorry that K.D. Lang’s “Surrender” wasn’t chosen to introduce the movie, instead of Sheryl Crow’s aptly named Tomorrow Never Dies.”

• Whaddya know. Rather than provide necessary health care for all Americans, it seems that conservatives in the U.S. Senate would rather spend $50 million a year on abstinence-only programs that don’t work. What a waste.

• The four-day conferenceTZ @ 50: A Celebration of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone” begins today in Binghamton, New York. Serling, who gave tube watchers not only The Twilight Zone but also Night Gallery, grew up in Binghamton. (Hat tip to Elizabeth Foxwell.)

• American TV network NBC, which recently made the mistake of giving over its once-fertile 10-11 p.m. slot on weeknights to the not-so-funny Jay Leno, appears to be in a general world of hurt. To improve its fortunes, maybe it should take a page from its own past, and start generating quality crime and mystery fiction series again. It was NBC, after all, that gave us Columbo, Miami Vice, Banacek, Crossing Jordan, and so many more.

• It seems that some people are making money on the Web.

• Gee, you’d think that someone who wants to be the governor of California would at least have registered to vote before she was 46.

From our “Bad Book Covers” file.

• And if you haven’t been watching documentary filmmaker Ken Burns’ new PBS-TV mini-series, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea--which began last Sunday night--then you’re really missing out on some wonderful small-screen storytelling. Although the series title doesn’t make it sound like scintillating entertainment, Burns and producer/writer Dayton Duncan have put together a feast of modern landscapes, historical photography, and character sketches that are both inspiring and tragic. The first couple of episodes, which focused on naturalist and author John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt (an unusually conservation-minded Republican who used his office to broaden the scope and possibilities of park development), set a fine precedent for succeeding installments, which have talked about early park promoters Stephen Mather and Horace M. Albright, and Standard Oil heir John D. Rockefeller Jr., whose philanthropy did much to save what might have been lost natural treasures in the United States. If you’d like to catch up with the series so far, click here. This six-part series ends tomorrow night.


Barbara said...

Sorry JKP, it's Binghamton (no "p") but, yes, Rod Serling went to Binghamton High School so he's rather a big deal around here. I live 20 miles south of Binghamton in PA.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Thanks for the correction. I've changed that now.