A Gig, a Walk-Out, and More

March 14th, 2017 by Max Allan Collins

Saturday night Crusin’ played for a benefit at the River Music Experience in Davenport. The cause was music education in the Muscatine school system. This was our first gig of the year (by choice), having last played in September for my high school 50th class reunion.

It was just an hour but felt good – nice to be back on stage with the guys, and our guitarist Jim Van Winkle’s son, Teddy, played trombone with us on a couple of songs. Teddy is a music major at the University of Iowa and really tore it up. This my first time performing since lung surgery, and I was of course concerned, but had no problems with either stamina or singing.

We have about half a dozen gigs lined up through the summer and fall.

* * *

I am rather astonished to report that Barb and I walked out of a movie again, one we had been looking forward to all week. Kong – Skull Island has a high Rotten Tomatoes rating, and my pal Leonard Maltin loved it. We didn’t. The script was terrible – cringe-worthy dialogue and a ponderous set-up, and a cast that couldn’t overcome either. Tom Hiddleson, with his narrow face and slight build, is presented as some kind of bar brawler, which is unbelievable even without the notion that this makes him vital to a team going out to track monsters. John Goodman has lost so much weight, he looks ill, as if he’s wearing a baggy skin suit, and Samuel Jackson glowering at Kong and Kong glowering back has an uncomfortable racist tinge. Your results may vary, but we gave it fifty minutes before it got so stupid we couldn’t even stay to watch a bunch of characters we hated get killed.

Barb passed on Logan, but I saw it with Nate a weekend ago, and found it okay, with the trio of actors at its center (Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Dafne Keen) strong. Self-importantly dark and almost entirely humorless, Logan also suffers from underwhelming villains in actors Boyd Holbrook and Richard E. Grant, the former silly in his villainy, the latter hammy as an evil scientist. No Ian McKellan or Michael Fassbender in sight.

Some of you are suspecting I don’t like anything any more. But I like lots of things, mostly on TV, including lately Rowan Atkinson’s Maigret (and Michael Gambon’s and Bruno Cremer’s), the fourth season of Endeavor (the Morse prequel) and the Victoria series, though I wish it didn’t want to be Downton Abbey so bad.

* * *

My editor at Hard Case Crime, Charles Ardai, is so fast and efficient I sometimes think I’m hallucinating. Less than a week after I turned in Quarry’s Climax, he gave me edits and then galley proofs, and the book is put to bed.

No sign of a second Quarry TV season, though there’s been no official cancellation.

I am working on the non-fiction book Scarface & the Untouchable, the joint Capone/Ness bio. It promises to be major, but brother is it tough. My co-author Brad Schwartz and our research associate have written their rough draft material and gathered research, and now I’m up to bat.

Looks like the manuscript could be in the 1200 – 1500 page range. Like we say in the funnies, gulp.

* * *

Now in Paperback!

If you are going to Bouchercon this year, and have been sent an Anthony ballot, and like my work enough to be reading this, here’s a reminder of what’s eligible:

Road to Perdition: The New Expanded Version, paperback original.
The Nate Heller novel, Better Dead, hardcover.
Quarry in the Black, paperback.
Murder Never Knocks, hardcover.
Antiques Fate, hardcover.
A Dangerous Cat,” Hammer short story in the Strand.

* * *

The Will to Kill is out and I hope some of you have already bought this new Mike Hammer by Mickey and me, and that the rest of you will do so soon. We need reviews at Amazon and elsewhere, including blogs, and your participation would be much appreciated.

Michael Carlson has done a most interesting Will to Kill review in his UK column, Irresistible Targets.

Also out in (mass-market paperback) is Hammer’s last year’s performance, Murder Never Knocks. Here’s a great Ron Fortier review of it.

Finally, here’s a Quarry’s Choice audio review, very nice.


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7 Responses to “A Gig, a Walk-Out, and More”

  1. Terry Beatty says:

    I liked KONG: SKULL ISLAND a good deal more than you did — but can’t disagree with your comments. John C. Reilly’s goofball performance saved it for me — and I just enjoy watching giant monsters beat on each other, so there’s that.

    Found less to like in LOGAN. And despised the DEADPOOL short that ran prior. An innocent victim gets shot and killed because the “hero” can’t get into his super suit in time to save him — and that’s supposed to be funny? Ugh. And all this while the iconic John Williams SUPERMAN theme plays, reminding me of a much better super hero flick.

  2. Kevin Helmsberg says:

    Hi Max,

    Last week you announced “Quarry’s Climax.” Is it the same book as “Quarry on Target” you mentioned in the June 28 post last year, only retitled? Thanks!

  3. Jesse replies to MAC’s crits:

    I’m skeptical. Nothing he says here sinks my desire to see Kong (even if the dialogue IS terrible, monster movies aren’t known for smart dialogue!)

    A couple of his crits are downright lame.
    It’s RACIST for a black guy and Kong to glower at each other?
    What are they supposed to do, shake hands?
    And how dare John Goodman lose weight!

    I’d only be concerned if he complained the action was incomprehensible or infrequent, or that there were too few monsters or bad effects, or any other sign that the film fails in its primary purpose.

    (“Ponderous setup” and “characters we hated” are admittedly warning flags.)

    Also, I love me some hammy Richard E. Grant, so my desire to see Logan just went up a notch.


    MAC’s movie comments:

    “Kong – Skull Island
    “The script was terrible – cringe-worthy dialogue and a ponderous set-up.
    “John Goodman has lost so much weight, he looks ill, as if he’s wearing a baggy skin suit
    “Samuel Jackson glowering at Kong and Kong glowering back has an uncomfortable racist tinge.

    “Richard E. Grant, hammy as an evil scientist

  4. Max Allan Collins says:

    I don’t know who “Jesse” is, but I would prefer people who come to this web site address me directly and not in the third person.

    Critical response to KONG has been favorable and a lot of people I respect like it, including my pal Terry Beatty. Tastes vary — for example, it was John C. Reilly’s performance that sent my wife and me to the lobby (to us it was like something out of a Disney movie from the ’60s) but Terry saw it differently. Certainly valid.

    But a movie of this size and scope demands decent dialogue, characterization and overall solid script. The “it’s just a monster movie” defense doesn’t cut it. For the money they spent, and for that matter I spent, I expect higher quality writing than in a Universal science-fiction monster flick of the ’50s…though some of them were much better than this.

    I love monster movies. Last night Barb and I watched VALLEY OF GWANGI, which had a lot wrong with it but also a rocking Harryhausen dinosaur. I saw THEM! in the theater as a little kid, and saw the most recent Japanese GODZILLA in the theater too (good movie — much, much better than the American one made by some of those responsible for this KONG).

    The action in KONG takes a while coming, but it was coherent. I’ll give it that. Kong himself didn’t have much personality, particularly compared to the original. Glowering GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY close-ups between Jackson and Kong were uncomfortably racist — and I am not a politically correct idiot, either…but I know you don’t make the black guy and the monkey the key adversaries without stirring some memories of ugly bigotry past (and present). My comment about Goodman looking terrible was tasteless, but I don’t think he was done any favors by the make-up department, plus I have a right to expect the people on a gigantic screen not to look ill, unless it’s a movie about illness.

    As for LOGAN, it’s well worth seeing by fans of the genre, which includes me (with reservations). And Grant was okay — it was the other guy who was awful. The script had some major problems, key among them the way Logan and Xavier get a nice family killed off when it’s obvious they’ve made that inevitable…but it seems okay to Patrick Stewart because it was a way to show Logan what a real family is like. That’s more offensive than the DEADPOOL trailer, which was at least black comedy — he’s no hero. But Logan and Xavier are, and they should have some concern for the civilians they encounter.

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  6. Max Allan Collins says:

    Kevin, QUARRY’S CLIMAX is not QUARRY ON TARGET. The latter will be a “list” book, whereas I did CLIMAX in part because I wanted to keep current Quarry novels set in the Broker era, to be more reader friendly to a new audience attracted by the TV series. If a second season doesn’t happen, I’ll shift back to the “list” concept, most likely…though without the show, demand for more Quarry books may dwindle.

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