Monday, October 08, 2012

Bullet Points: Post-Bouchercon Edition

• Bouchercon 2012 ended on Sunday. Yet bloggers who were on hand for that event continue to post their impressions. J.F. Norris has filed his second report of Friday’s multiple panel discussions (the first part is here), along with Part I of his recollections of Saturday. Meanwhile, Peter Rozovsky recounts a bit of praise he received from an Illinois librarian and Sunday’s final doings. On top of those, Cleveland’s Channel 5 news features a short video on its Web site that includes interviews with authors Reed Farrel Coleman, Val McDermid, S.J. Rozan, and Thomas Kaufman.

• How can you not read this story? “The Spy Who Loved Men: She Was Churchill’s Favourite Spy, the Inspiration for Bond’s Love in Casino Royale, and Always Had a Knife Strapped to Her Thigh.”

• After a year-long delay, all six seasons of McMillan & Wife, starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James--an original part of The NBC Mystery Movie--will apparently be released by Millennium Media in a DVD box set on December 4. When an announcement of this set came in the fall of 2011, it was supposed to include 21 discs and cost $149.98. Now, though, it’s set to feature 24 discs and be priced at $169.99. Since I already own the first three of this series’ half-dozen years, which I think were the best ones (before the show was extended to two hours long, and before Saint James left McMillan in Hudson’s hands alone), I may not rush out immediately to buy the set, once it goes on sale. But that does not mean it won’t wind up someplace on my Christmas list this year.

• The pseudonymous TomCat tackles another of the initial Mystery Movie segments, Columbo, opining in Beneath the Stains of Time about a Season 8 episode of that program, the locked-room mystery “Columbo Goes to the Guillotine.”

• Wow, the Croatian publishing house Algoritam sure knows how to draw attention to its translations of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. All of them feature models portraying “Bond girls.” The Croatian photographic cover for Diamond Are Forever can be found here, while the front from Casino Royale is here. Algoritam’s Web site shows all the books, though the image quality there isn’t outstanding.

• Still more 007 news: The 2006 film Casino Royale, which introduced Daniel Craig as James Bond and also starred the enthralling Eva Green as Vesper Lynd, was chosen in an international contest as the fan favorite among Bond movies.

• And when celebrating last week’s 50th anniversary of the release of Dr. No, the earliest big-screen James Bond film, I neglected to mention this rundown of Tipping My Fedora’s favorite 007 movies--including the oft-neglected GoldenEye (1995), in which Pierce Brosnan debuted as Ian Fleming’s suave superspy.

• For what will most likely be the best center-left case for President Obama’s re-election, check out The New Republic’s endorsement.

• Evan Lewis chooses his favorite Black Mask cover ever.

• Does anybody else remember the comic book Carter Brown Illustrated? Blogger Scott of The Nick Carter & Carter Brown Blog features the cover from one issue, but I don’t see any more other info about this publication online. Perhaps it was an Australian product.

• From The Guardian’s Books Blog: “What’s literature’s most frequently mentioned song? “Hey Jude,’ apparently--you can find it in 55 books, from Stephen King's Wolves of the Calla (‘The people are real. You ... Susannah ... Jake ... that guy Gasher who snatched Jake ... Overholser and the Slightmans. But the way stuff from my world keeps showing up over here, that’s not real. It’s not sensible or logical, either, but that’s not what I mean. It’s just not real. Why do people over here sing “Hey Jude”? I don’t know’) to Toni Morrison’s Paradise (“The Cadillac was unmolested but so hot the boy licked his fingers before and after he unscrewed the gas cap. And he was nice enough to start the engine for her and tell her to leave the doors open for a while before she got in. Mavis did not have to struggle to get him to accept money--Soane had been horrified--and he drove off accompanying “Hey Jude” on his radio’).”

When Rudyard Kipling met Mark Twain.

• Clearly, Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara has more going for her than the, uh, er, most obvious assets. The Hollywood Reporter says she will executive produce a prospective TV series titled Killer Women, “a soapy procedural revolving around a female Texas Ranger.” The Reporter adds that “The hourlong project is based on the POL-KA Productiones’ Argentine series, Mueres Asesinas, which itself is based on the book trilogy of the same name by Marisa Grinstein.”

• Classic Film and TV Café offers an A-Z list of its favorite films noir.

• Nancy Oakes has posted a fine latter-day review Margaret Millar’s 1955 novel, The Beast in View. “Don’t let its age fool you,” she writes. “Beast in View is very dark, almost noirish in tone, and probes deeply into the human psyche, in many ways much more realistically than many modern offerings.”

• Basil Rathbone finds a spot among radio’s 100 “most essential people,” as chosen by The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio.

• In his blog, The Corpse Steps Out, author Jeffrey Marks posts a defense of S.S. Van Dine (aka Willard Huntington Wright), who created the detective character Philo Vance.

• Three weeks ago, I reported that Jedidiah Ayres had been relieved of his duties as Barnes & Noble’s Ransom Notes columnist. But now he’s suddenly back, interviewing Grand Jerkins about his latest novel, The Ninth Step. So what gives? “[I]t turns out,” Ayres tells me, “I’ll probably continue to contribute pieces on a much rarer basis (rather than the regular twice a week that I did before) which is fine with me.” Good to see you on the beat again, sir.

• And here’s a frightening thought, at least to me: the eventual disappearance of what used to be called “alternative weeklies,” or just “alt-weeklies.” As Will Doig writes in Salon, “For decades, alt-weeklies have been giving hell to incompetent mayors, evil developers, and lapdog city council members with the kind of righteous rage lots of us eventually outgrow. ‘It’s the best damn journalism in America outside of a monthly national magazine,’ says Fran Zankowski, president of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN).” However, the rise of giveaway newspapers, the encroachment of chain ownership, the creation of Craigslist, and the boom in blogs have all contributed to declining fortunes for alt-weeklies. I started out working in alt-weeklies, first for Willamette Week in Portland, Oregon, and later for Seattle Weekly. Both of those papers, as well as their brethren across the United States, helped educate readers about what was right and going wrong in their hometowns, and provided them with features about books, travel, entertainment, business--pretty much everything their bigger, daily competitors could offer, except the alt-weeklies often presented crisper, less dumbed-down writing than the daily papers, and weren’t afraid to cover edgier topics or leap into the middle of controversies. In recent years, however, many of these publications--including Seattle Weekly, unfortunately--have become timid shadows of their former selves, plumping their pages with soft “consumer stories” and leaving the field of investigative journalism to ... well, nobody. I hope alt-weeklies can find a new business model to ensure their futures, and become relevant again to a distinctive audience. At this point, though, I don’t have confidence of that happening on a wide scale.

1 comment:

jnarz said...

The Weekly newspapers (Boston Phoenix and SF Weekly being my top picks) always wrote with a unique investigative angle that will be missed. Not sure if they will fade or morph into bloglike creatures themselves.

Also not to be overlooked: the personal ads were always hilarious portraits of deviant behavior (where else can you find a guy offering to lick women from head to toe in exchange for a new skateboard)? I did get