Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Megan Abbott's Film Noir Night in Detroit

Or in Grosse Pointe really. Wish I could figure out how to attach the snazzy flyer I made, but nooooo.
Megan will give a talk on film noir with special reference to Double Indemnity, Gun Crazy and Murder My Sweet at the Grosse Pointe Woods branch of the GP Library on November 28th at 7:30 following three weeks of showing these films. Please come if you live in the area and didn't hear this talk at the Birmingham Library last year.
I had thought we could just let this event flow over us but at the library last night, the very nice woman who arranged this said, "Oh, I hope we get a nice crowd." So now I feel obliged to twist arms. That's what I get for showing up at the library four nights in a row. Gotta stop putting books on reserve, but I did get some good ones.
Come. Please.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Nightly News

Every night my husband fills me in on the network coverage of the day's events and how right wing it has gotten. I can't bear to watch any of it. When did working class people decide gay marriage was more important than social security, pensions and health care?

Saw The Prestige and Flags of Our Fathers. Both were okay but certainly predictable. Best thing in either was Christian Bale. I have a problem with movies about magicians. If I doubt the magic on the stage in front of me, how can I not doubt it on the screen?

At dinner, we watched the final scene from The Shining. What are your favorite Jack Nicholson movies? I loved The Departed but thought he was the weak link in it. When did he become a caricature of himself?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Something Cheerful to Read, Please

I am sorely in need of a cheeful novel--one where nobody dies and nothing horrible happens. Can anybody help me out?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The World According to Sorkin

Is it just me or is Sorkin's new show a real bust? It was one thing for the West Wingers to strut around full of themselves and the state of the world. But late night comedy writers? I haven't been able to finish an episode yet. It's not Iraq or the economy they're talking about so why the grim faces. What a huge disappointment. Actually the only tv palatable to me is The Office, The Wire, and Ugly Betty at times. Oh and maybe 30 Rock. I only saw one episode but Fey and Baldwin were good together. And I just cut back by netflix to one a month. Big mistake. If anyone is out there, what are you watching?

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Hell of a Town

Three days in New York. Two museums, a bunch of galleries in Chelsea, one play in Spanish Harlem, one dance performance in the Village, one movie-- 49 UP, three dinners-one Spanish, one Korean, one Cuban. Lots of walking. And free digs which made it affordable. What's not to love?

Still I come home to the same set of problems. My mother's fragile and demanding and all-consuming health problems, do I continue to rewrite the novel or write the stories I love?

I mean on the plane ride home the guy next to me gives me a great story to write about how he (a pig, by the way, who told me he only liked sports where the potential for physical violence is high) is prosecuting his mother's caregiver and her boyfriend, both here illegally, for stealing her jewerly and heirlooms. I'm sure he paid her next to nothing. Or at least in my story that would happen. In my story.....

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


There is this hideous misunderstanding going on re: Murdaland and its intentions on the Internet. I met Mike Langnas at Bouchercon and believe me, he was a lovely fellow, full of goodwill, civility and hope for his venture, even though the folks in Madison had inadvertently snubbed him.
Somehow his desire to produce a magazine with goals and an audience different from current crime mags is now seen as reactionary, pompous, supercilious and in bad form. Is there no room for other POVs or MOs in this business? Help. Can't we all live together.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bill Clinton

Last year I attended a conference on the Clinton Presidency at Hofstra University. My husband is a presidential scholar and he was presenting a paper comparing Clinton's youth to Nixon's.
Couldn't help but be impressed by two things about Bill as he gave his presidential address 1) his enormous intellectual capacity and memory for detail 2) how he blames people for every misstep he took. He steered clear of calling Monica a temptress but not much else.
Today I hear him speaking in Iowa (NPR) and he is still guilty of the same strengths and weaknesses. Now Hillary gets to share in the blame game too. With that said, I'd take Bill over George any day of the week. No one can convince me the world wouldn't be a better place with Bill at the helm.

The Tokyo String Quartet was magnificient, even if my son and husband kept running for the radio to see if the Tigers and U of M had won.

Got the ARC for "The Song is You." Can't wait to read it for the fourth time. Go Megan.

Go Tigers!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Leaving

A new story appears in Flashing in the Gutters today. The challenge was writing stories based or influenced by a specific country song. I still like writing short shorts better than anything. The strengths of poetry and short stories combined.

Three good movies in the last ten days: The Departed-Leo and Mark were outstanding. Jack didn't ruin it but I could have taken about half as much of him. As good as Infernal Affairs, the original, for me. Half Nelson-three great performances in a so-so movies, The Last King of Scotland. Forrest Whitaker was astounding but the Scottish doctor's motives were enigmatic till the end.

Reading Tomato Red (Woodrell) when I stay awake long enough. Tonight we see The Tokyo String Quarter which seemed like a good idea when the Tiger playoffs were just a dream.

Is it me or is this Tiger team dream a gift from another dimension? Who are they?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Stone Diaries

My book club chose The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields to read for October. I read it when it first came out 15 years ago and had a different set of reactions this time. One of the most interesting things to me was the list made for the protagonist near the end of the book of things she never did. Included are items such as oil painting, nude bathing, reading science fiction, oral sex, driving a car. It is a very sad list because so many of the items were ordinary and accessible and the last item was she never heard anyone say they loved her!
My "didn't do" list would include smoking pot, diving, learning a magic trick, skating backward, living along. The woman in my group talked most about the last one. Most of us had never lived alone--going right from our parent's house or a college dorm to living with a husband. We were all born in the 1940s and early 1950s.
What would your list include if you're old enough to make one?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


I no longer seem capable of finishing a TV show, a book or even a DVD movie. Apparently I have to spend money and go to somebody else's house (AMC) to finish something. I have tried a bunch of the new shows on TV this year and rarely stay until the end. Something about the nature of a continuing narrative puts me off. Although this format produces more compelling stories, it's offputting to someone who wants to watch on occassion. With books, it's a different thing. Why am I reading this when I could be reading that? Okay, I get the idea, now what?
Half Nelson, a movie I saw at the theater, has three of the best performances I've seen in a long time. Gosling is amazing. Yet I think if I were watching it at home, I might have given up on it due to its repetitious scenes of drugtaking.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Die a Little: A movie

Congrats to Megan for selling the option on "Die A Little" to Jessica Biel. Wonder whether she sees herself as Lora or Alice. Depends what image she wants to cultivate.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

First Person

Funny how sometimes you know something is wrong with a story,but can't put your finger on it. Then suddenly it occurs to you. It should be written in the first person. Or it should be written in the third. Sometimes you need to put the audience right in the thick of things. Other times, usually when the story is moody, a bit of distance enhances it. But sometimes you don't know immediately. Or at least I don't. A story I'm writing now just felt flat. Not enough style to carry a plot-heavy narrative. But when I changed it to first person, I got the intimacy I needed. At last! First person often makes a nasty protagonist palatable. Or at least I hope so.

Monday, October 02, 2006


I blew Bouchercon. Just too shy to introduce myself to more than a few people. I did manage Sarah Weinman who hugged me graciously. I did get my daugher and Tribe to introduce me to a few people. But that's about it.
I think I am too old to be a newbie crime writer at conferences. I'll just have to settle for being it on paper.
Loved Murderland's Mike Langnas and handed out magnets for a while and met a lovely writer named Robert Janes. The magnets were supposed to be in the goodie bags and were not. Murdaland is awesome. I can't believe I got a story in it. Woodrell's is just terrific.
My husband ditched the conference after two panels and went to the Historical Society and did research. He knows how to make good use of his time.
To have a good time, 1) you have to drink late into the night 2) be awestruck, which I got over after last year 3) be aggressive in meeting people and hanging on to them. Not my list of strengths.

One bad thing about Madison. Where are the movie theaters? I went to one where electrical wiring was hanging out of the ceiling and the seats were more springs than padding. You can always count on movies when you're feeling awkward.