Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

Spillane Nominated, Antiques Is Loved, Blue Christmas Begins, and Poirot Returns

Tuesday, September 19th, 2023

Okay, so the nominations for Quarry’s Blood (Edgar) and The Big Bundle (Shamus) did not result in wins. But how about this: Max Allan Collins and Jim Traylor’s Spillane: King of Pulp Fiction has been nominated for BIO’s Plutarch Award, given to the best biography of the year – as judged by biographers. I have no idea how this Bio nomination might play out.

Still, this feels really good, because this book is one I am particularly proud of, and I know Jim feels the same. Obviously we are hopeful for an Edgar nomination, but a win there seems unlikely as the prejudice against Mickey continues in many quarters, particularly coming from people who never read much if any of him.

On the other hand, we received several nice reviews for the current Hammer, Dig Two Graves, and Barb and I just finished listening (in the car) to the Skyboat Media audio book of it, read by the great Stefan Rudnicki, who does his usual stellar job.

The handful of copies of Dig Two Graves that I had to give away here were snapped up eagerly. I am sorry I didn’t have more to offer than that. It’s out today (Sept. 19) – so Happy Publication Day!

Speaking of good reviews, here’s a honey by Sue O’Brien about Antiques Foe by Barbara Allan (Barb and me) from Booklist:

Antiques Foe
By Barbara Allan
Nov. 2023. 208p. Severn, $31.99 (9781448309627);
e-book (9781448309634)

Vivian Borne, co-owner with her daughter Brandy of Trash ‘n’ Treasures, is thrilled to be invited to be a guest on Nicole Chatterton’s video podcast, Killers Caught, until Chatterton ambushes her on her murder-solving record, with Vivian threatening Chatterton and Brandy abruptly ending the interview. When Vivian goes to Chatterton’s hotel room to retrieve her signed release form to prevent the interview from airing, she finds Chatterton dead on the floor and is quickly arrested as the chief suspect in her murder. When Brandy is attacked and badly hurt, Vivian decides on drastic measures to protect her family. Brandy is gutted by the shocking turn of events, but the investigation continues, led by her fiancé, Police Chief Tony Cassato, leading to a plan to trap the killer. This tale is told in first person by both the flamboyant Vivian and the long-suffering Brandy, with the two talking directly to the reader in numerous humorous asides. Framed by small-town life in Iowa, with interesting details on antiques, this fun cozy includes recipes and tips on collecting sports memorabilia.

* * *

One of the things I’ll be doing here at Update Central in the coming couple of months is discuss the ongoing production of my micro-budgeted movie, Blue Christmas, which I scripted and will direct.

We had disappointing news this week when Gary Sandy decided not to do the production out of solidarity with the SAG-AFTRA strikers. He offered to do the film next year, when presumably the strike will be over, and suggested April. We are already going full-steam ahead and had to turn down this generous offer from Gary, who will very likely be in a future production of ours.

This, of course, will have to mean that directing another movie – designed to be user friendly to its aging director, and to be produced reasonably (all right, on the cheap) – is still something I enjoy doing and am able to perform to my satisfaction despite certain limitations due to health issues.

We held auditions this week and they went very well. I cast many of the local players from Encore for Murder, and two terrific pros from Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities respectively, Rob Merrit and Tommy Ratkiewicz-stierwalt. My team includes Chad T. Bishop, producer (he edited Encore for Murder); Phil Dingeldein, Director of Photography (my longtime friend/collaborator on films); and Karen Cooney, production manager (my co-director of the stage version of Encore for Murder).

Rob Merrit playing Richard Stone
Rob Merrit playing Richard Stone
Tommy Ratkiewicz-stierwalt as Stone’s partner, Joey Ernest
Tommy Ratkiewicz-stierwalt as Stone’s partner, Joey Ernest

We have an excellent set builder tentatively on board, and Chris Christensen (my Seduction of the Innocent bandmate, and the composer of the scores for Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane, Caveman and the award-winning Quarry short, “A Matter of Principal”) has agreed to do the score. Chris also contributed to Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market and Encore for Murder.

Also on the indie film front, I looked at the “check discs” of the Blu-ray of the documentary Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane with Encore for Murder as the bonus feature, a DVD of the same, and finally a stand-alone DVD of Encore designed to go out to Golden Age Radio collectors. VCI is putting all of these out, in partnership with MVD, who do some very interesting stuff, particularly in their “Rewind” line that puts ‘80s and ‘90s video store favorites on Blu-ray.

* * *
A Haunting in Venice poster banner

Barb and I took in A Haunting in Venice, very loosely adapted from Agatha Christie’s Poirot novel, Hallowe’en Party. We had both pretty much enjoyed director/star Kenneth Branagh’s first Poirot outing, Murder on the Orient Express, but it was no threat to the Sidney Lumet original. The second Branagh adaptation of Christie, Death on the Nile, was more Meh on the Vile. But this one is a stunner.

Branagh’s Poirot is better etched here, and his direction is moody and immersive, creating a horror film vibe without shortchanging the very tricky murder mystery. Tina Fey as Ariadne Oliver takes some getting used to, but ultimately comes across well. The standout performer is a child actor, Jude Hill, around twelve when this was shot.

It was wise of Branagh to get away from remaking the excellent previous Poirot films (so far, at least, the great Evil Under the Sun has been spared 21st Century re-imagining) and if more of these follow, he might look at the serious, post-war Poirot novels like Taken At the Flood and Five Little Pigs.

* * *

Crime Reads zeroes in on seven novels set in Sin City (Las Vegas) and one of them is Skim Deep. Oddly, my CSI novel called Sin City (co-written by Matthew Clemens) isn’t among them!

Jeff Pierce’s indispensable Rap Sheet shares some things from a recent update of ours right here. Nice write-up, and the lead item!

Screen Rant discusses my version of Robin in (where else?) Batman. My work on that feature seems to be getting a little more respect these days.

Finally, Den of Geek names Road to You-know-where one of the best crime-and-mob movies. Gratifying that this film is holding on so very well as decades pass.


William Friedkin, Collector Burn-Out, Bargains & Batman

Tuesday, August 15th, 2023

First, I want to share two very good deals with you.

Spillane: King of Pulp Fiction cover

Spillane – King of Pulp Fiction by Jim Traylor and me is 50% off (!) at Barnes & Noble. Going for a mere $13.47 for this hardcover thing of beauty. If you’ve been waiting to spring for a copy, now’s the time.

The Long Wait cover

The Long Wait, one of the best Spillane movie adaptations (it stars Anthony Quinn!) is on sale, a combo 4k and Blu-ray package. Even if you don’t have 4K, the Blu-ray alone is well worth the price. I did the commentary and provided an extensive gallery of stills. From Classic Flix, $21.98 (regularly $39.99).

* * *

I’ve fallen a little behind writing Quarry’s Return because of what I’d been told would be a simple out-patient procedure. First of all, that may have been simple for the surgeon but for me it was a long day of assorted inconvenience and unpleasantness.

Then I was sent home with a complication waiting to kick in — bleeding that wouldn’t stop — but an ER trip the next day to get some stitching up (in a good way) has me doing much better. But I have had to recuperate all (and some of next) week.

For the first time since 1965 (!) I had to cancel a band job (actually, we were able to swap places on the roster of Second Sunday concerts here in Muscatine, allowing me to trade August for September (not a bad trade generally). Crusin’ will appear at 5 pm on Sunday September 10.

* * *

Robert Meyer Burnett, one of my two favorite pop culture podcasters, discusses Friedkin below. He also discusses Friedkin on his weekly Midnight Musings, but that goes far afield including a discussion of the anniversary of Hip Hop.

Here’s my mini-memoir about Friedkin, which I shared with Burnett the night of my hospital procedure – hence a tad fried.

I Slept in William Friedkin’s Guest House

My wife Barb and I were guests of Friedkin by way of his then-wife Kelly Lange, the LA newscaster. Miguel was going with (they were engaged at the time) Kelly Lange’s daughter, whose name was also Kelly (her mother’s real name was, I believe, Dorothy). Kelly Jr. was funny and sweet and a babe, and I thought Miguel had done very well for himself. No idea what happened there, but Miguel and BIll Mumy and Steve Leialoha and I were at the time in the process of putting our band Seduction of the Innocent together to play at San Diego Comic Con. We’d go on to perform there around half a dozen times and at a few other comics cons and once for a comic book shop that rented out the Ferris Wheel hall for us at the Santa Monica Pier. One of our roadies was Brandon Lee.

Seduction of the Innocent, Santa Monica Pier

I am, as you know, from a small town in Iowa. I never did the con circuit, just San Diego Con. There is little reason why I should have otherwise encountered anybody famous. But my early Nate Heller novels had ridden my comic book Ms. Tree’s coattails to some geek recognition; so had the fact that I was the second guy after Chester Gould to write the Dick Tracy strip. How Bill, Miguel, Steve and I got together is for another time. (Chris Christensen came a little later.)

Where he hell is Billy Friedkin in this? Patience.

Kelly Jr. gave us a tour of Friedkin’s house. He and Kelly Sr. were away. (Honeymooning, my memory wants me to believe.) I remember a vast ornate bed with black sheets. In the living room were a few huge framed vintage movie posters from famous films…of the ’20s and ’30s.

By way of thank you, I left a copy of the first Heller, True Detective, for Friedkin with a fannish inscription. And of course I hoped he’d read it. He got in touch with me by phone, leaving a message, wanting to inform me of something. For that to mean anything, I have to describe the first section (briefly) of True Detective.

Young police detective Nate Heller is drinking rum out of a coffee cup in a speak when the cops known as the Two Harrys come in and grab him to come along on a bust, telling him nothing more. They are Mayor Anton Cermak’s two-man “Gangster Squad.” In a sports book on a high floor of a Loop building overlooking the Chicago River, the Two Harrys roust Frank Nitti himself. They shoot him several times in the neck and back, leaving him to bleed and die. They send the horrified and very pissed Heller (he will have to share the blame for this!) in to make routine arrests in the sports book, but a guy heads for a window and the fire escape. Heller tells him to stop and he doesn’t and Heller shoots him (“He wasn’t in the window anymore”). Heller decides to quit the force, not because it’s corrupt or even because for the first time he’s killed somebody (the graft is why he had a rich uncle get him on — it’s the Depression) and, in exchange for providing building security for his childhood friend, boxer Barney Ross, he gets a one-room office over Barney’s speak (aka Blind Pig) where he works as a PI (and sleeps on a Murphy bed).

Where the fuck is Friedkin?

So the two Harrys come around in the middle of the night at Heller’s flop, having heard Heller quit the force, and drag him to see Mayor Cermak at the Congress Hotel. Heller, who is young and tough and has scruples when necessary, is asked by Cermak why he (Heller) quit the PD. Heller turns down an offer to become the third man on the mayor’s Gangster Squad; but promises if his new one-man PI business is left alone, he’ll say whatever is necessary at the inquest and later trial. Having made this deal, Heller leaves but knows he’s now on Frank Nitti’s shit, er, hit list. Middle of the night, he’s hauled by Outfit gangsters to a suburban hospital to see Nitti…WHO HAS SURVIVED (historically, this happened — the whole Nitti roust is real, except for my substituting Nate Heller for the compromised young cop). Nitti gives Heller a pass, because it’ll give him an inside man with Cermak, who is soon to head to Miami (where of course history thinks the assassination target was FDR when it was actually Cermak).

That’s all 1933.

Around 1987, William Friedkin contacts this punk kid mystery writer in Iowa who somehow — it’s crazy — not only slept in his guest house, but knows about his Uncle Harry! Harry Lang, who was a Chicago cop in the ’30s! And he wants to know all about the Nitti hit. Friedkin told me his uncle was exactly that guy, the Harry Lang was who half of the two Harrys (I used photographs in the book, and Friedkin said he was flipping through and saw his uncle’s picture!).

There was talk of Friedkin making True Detective but that obviously didn’t happen. He was making TV movies at time — C.A.T. Squad…with Miguel.

Now they are both gone.

There’s a bittersweet postscript: Jason Miller was one of the stars of my little indie feature Mommy.

* * *

Heath Holland (my other favorite pop culture podcaster) at Cereal at Midnight discusses collecting burn-out, and I am given an extensive shout-out.

I wrote Heath with the following response:

I am honored to have been invoked on Cereal at Midnight. Got a real kick out of it.

And what an excellent, frank discussion of a real problem. I wrestle with the collecting bug constantly. And, despite a decent income, I spend way too much. My wife sees me watching you or Burnett or another three or four unboxing type podcasts and says, “This doesn’t mean you’re getting more ideas about what to buy, does it?” Not in the most loving voice.

@fiendformojitos: So you purchased 4 new Blu rays in the July Barnes and Noble Criterion sale, correct? Yes that's accurate. But isn't it true you haven't even opened any of the Blu Rays you purchased in the November sale?

What resonated with me most was one word you used: obligation.

This is when your collection starts to own you. This sounds ridiculous, but the main thing I am trying to do is not buy anything I don’t like or am probably not disposed to like. For example. Jess Franco — I have bought a lot of Franco stuff because of the enthusiasm of so many for his work in this hobby. There’s a line of European horror that came out some time ago that I was (wait for it) attempting to get every numbered spine, which meant every damn release. That line-up included at least half a dozen Franco titles. How could I not own them? They had numbers on the spine that I needed!

But I freed myself and got rid of them. Jean Rollin is constantly hyped and I know smart people who like those movies, but I am not one of them. Yet I bought them (and have since dumped them). I see podcasts from people, like Brandon Chowen (I think is the spelling), whose enthusiasm I get a kick out of…but he’s clearly not watching much of what he’s buying. He’s collecting stuff by directors he’s heard are good and intends to watch one day…but shouldn’t we be collecting because we like something already? Or contains cast/director/writer/genre that means we’d probably be inclined to like it?

That doesn’t mean I am entirely rational. I will get a film noir I don’t particularly like, because that’s a collection I want to maintain. I will hold onto any Hitchcock title, whether I like it or not, because I generally love him and I have a completist streak. Ditto Joseph H. Lewis or Sam Fuller or Brian DePalma. But if it’s a journeyman director, who is sometimes good, sometimes okay, sometimes bad, why not keep just the good?

And as you point out — time is distressingly, frustratingly limited. I am in my seventies…who am I trying to kid about ever watching a fraction of what I’ve collected?

This is art we’re collecting, not baseball cards.

But it’s hard. So hard. I hated To Live and Die in L.A. when I saw it in the theater. Hated it so much it pissed me off. And then I hear Rob Burnett enthuse over it, rhapsodize over it…and I ordered a copy. Arggggggh!

That’s the new rule I want to follow, and it is stupidly obvious: only buy, only keep, what you like. You don’t even have to love it. But at least like it.

* * *

This is a long overdue (in my biased opinion) discussion of why I deserve some credit for the popular Batman character, Harley Quinn.

And the same site, apparently taking the unpopular stand of defending my Batman run, discusses my Robin and how he and I are misunderstood.

Finally, here’s a great review of Fancy Anders Goes to War.


Physical Media Therapy

Tuesday, August 1st, 2023

Let’s talk movies a bit, and physical media as well.

Barbenheimer as a phenomenon is interesting but will probably cause a lot of trouble for us as Hollywood decides to contrive future “double features” like this. Apparently Barbenheimer was a meme that went viral (as they say) and grew like Topsy or maybe cancer cells. But overall it continues to get people back into theaters in a summer where movies bringing in hundreds of millions at the worldwide box-office are deemed flops (Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny) or disappointments (Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One).

Barbenheimer worked for two reasons: first, it was organic; second, the two movies were good. (I saw this without having yet seen Barbie, but it’s apparent the movie is well-liked.) Had either movie stunk up the place, we’d be viewing the Barbenheimer thing a whole different way. Movies can’t be good, apparently, unless they do big box-office.

Barb Collins celebrates Barbenheimer with a Barbie sundae at Lagomarcino’s in the Village of East Davenport
Barb Collins celebrates Barbenheimer with a Barbie sundae at Lagomarcino’s in the Village of East Davenport

Oppenheimer has received a lot of well-deserved praise, but this you-must-see-it-in-70mm-IMAX thing is either hype got out of hand or movie buffs being snooty (or both). Only nineteen theaters in America (tickets being scalped at $100 up) are showing it in IMAX, but the more standard 2:40:1 aspect ratio presentation is available all over the place. Nolan’s film, well-acted particularly by Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey, Jr., is in many ways a standard bio-pic. It is talky in the best sense, skewing away from the science and concentrating on the politics, and a film that is mostly dialogue in rooms. Yes, the atomic bomb test probably benefits from IMAX; but most of the three hours does not. Not at all.

I continue to believe that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, despite its genuinely shitty title, will be reevaluated in years to come. Mission Impossible, too, though this great action-fest is hampered by a shallow, trendy use of A.I. as the nebulous bad guy.

So watch for Hollywood to misjudge this phenomenon and try to turn it into a trend. I can see it now – the next James Bond movie and a Christopher Nolan movie about Ike sold as Bondenhower. A Power Pups movie opening with a Tarrantino film becomes Pupantino. Maybe Star Wars and a new Leprechaun movie can be Star Warrick.

Yes, pathetic madness lies ahead.

Where does physical media fit into this? Well, even as they promise us more, streamers deliver less – yanking new films after a few weeks when not enough eyes have been attracted, disappearing short-run series, dropping (in the old sense) episodes from classic TV. Perry Mason seasons have vanished before my very eyes, individual episodes of that great series also.

So people like me – longtime movie fanatics, already addicted to buying Blu-rays and 4K discs (having traveled the road to Perdition by way of Beta prerecords, VHS tapes, laserdiscs, and the forgotten HDTV format that was Blu-ray’s competition) – are tempted to buy even more physical media. An over-reaction? Of course, because all I know how to do is over-react.

But am I? Disney – a corporation seemingly devoted to making a schlemiel like Ron DeSantis look good – has announced they will soon be dropping (in the old sense!) physical media in Australia with plans for world-wide domination, no, I mean capitulation. After all, they are only projected to make around four-hundred million on DVDs and Blu-rays this year, when last year it was close to six million. So Disney has decided to drop (in the old sense) the trap door under their customers who like to buy the stuff.

The positive aspect of this is that boutique distributors/packagers of movies and TV are popping up all around the world. More releases are projected this year than ever before; but they are primarily targeted to hardcore collectors. These are companies like Arrow, Severin, Vinegar Syndrome, Kino Lorber, Shout!, Eureka (UK), Indicator, 88 Films, Imprint (from the beleaguered Australia) and two longtime labels, Warner Archive and of course Criterion. These are not the only ones and more are coming. The one-stop shopping site, Diabolik, has about thirty such labels, including MVD who distribute some of my stuff, produced by VCI (this is where the Spillane documentary/Encore for Murder combo will likely be available on Blu-ray before year’s end). Third Window Films is my son Nate’s distributor of choice for oddball Asian fare, although just about all of the labels Diabolik carries are snapping up Chinese and Japanese film licenses right and left, too.

Good news, right?

For everything but the pocketbook. Arrow, Indicator and Imprint (among others) specialize in rather fabulous boxed sets – Blu-rays and 4Ks plus bells and whistles like books, lobby card reproductions, bonus features (like the commentaries I’ve done for the two Spillane titles at Classic Flix), on-camera interviews…heaven.

And hell when you try to decide what to buy and deal with what you can afford. How pricey is this stuff? How about an Emanuelle box set for four 4K discs for over a hundred bucks? Imprint has wonderful boxes of directors Walter Hill (around $170!) and Sidney J. Furie (I bought the latter to finally get The Lawyer with Barry Newman on Blu-ray – over a hundred bucks), and actor Gene Hackman (around $90). These tend to be runs of 2000 or even less, so they sell out, and on e-bay you might as well bid on a new car.

These boxed sets are designed to make the thirteen year-old collector in you go slightly mad. Strike “slightly.” The only ways around this problem are shrugging and saying you can’t afford it, or starting to rob liquor stores. Is there no help in sight?

Actually, there are some excellent programs on You Tube “channels” (whatever those are) that review and showcase the new and upcoming releases, particularly boxed set stuff and oddities and cultish material.

Among the very best is Robert Meyer Burnett’s Let’s Get Physical Media (with a German buff named Dieter). Here’s the latest episode.

Also first-rate is Cereal at Midnight with the very knowledgeable Heath Holland. Like Burnett, Heath is very much ready for prime time, whereas many of these home video experts on You Tube are barely ready for prime chuck. You can try Heath out here.

I also really enjoy Brandon Chowen and his Cinefessions posts. Brandon’s approach to the hobby is closer to my level. He is a bottom feeder who checks out Dollar Tree and pawnshops, and who does “unboxing” episodes (opening blind-buy boxes, where he’s purchased fifty DVDS and Blu-rays in a surprise package and opens it up and makes discoveries). He is knowledgeable (though he didn’t know who Bobby Darin was when he got a copy of Beyond the Sea in a blind box!) and has a theater background, and his manner is friendly and unpretentious.

Still, keep in mind all of these reviewers – at least the ones like those above, who have substantial followings – are getting a good share of what they’re showcasing free. They get review copies, and you pay hard cash. Thus has it always been. When was the last time my pal Leonard Maltin paid to see a movie, do you suppose?

What’s the answer? For me, it’s controlling my worst impulses. I have to be able to look at that incredible Bruce Lee box from Arrow and remember that I already have the Criterion box, and those movies made in Hong Kong were ragged productions in the first place. How much better do I need to see them? Do I really need to flip through lobby card reproductions like a losing poker hand?

I am at stage in my life where I need to be selling stuff to Half-Price Books (home of getting raped without a cigarette offer after) and not buying anything there. But I am weak. And even in the biggest year for home video EVER, all of these YouTube experts are convinced that Physical Media is dying. The sky really is falling and that’s a Blu-ray you’re about to be clunked by.

The Davenport Barnes & Noble shows some M.A.C. support.
The Davenport Barnes & Noble shows some M.A.C. support.
The Davenport Barnes & Noble shows some M.A.C. support.
* * *

Here is something very strange – a book supposedly written by me (and my name is mentioned several times in the review) has popped up.

But I did not write it. Hell, I have not even read it.

This may be some A.I. stunt or just a mistake, but it does seem like we have to be wary these days on every front.

In a world where overpopulation has reached critical levels, governments are forced to implement drastic measures to control the population. In the midst of this chaos, a gripping novel titled “What Happened to Monday” by Max Allan Collins takes readers on a thrilling journey through a dystopian future.

The story is set in the year 2073, where families are only allowed to have one child due to limited resources. Any additional children are taken away by the Child Allocation Bureau (CAB) and put into cryosleep until the world can sustain them. The protagonist, Karen Settman, gives birth to identical septuplets and decides to keep them hidden from the authorities.

To ensure their survival, Karen names each child after a day of the week and teaches them to impersonate a single person named Karen Settman. Each sibling is allowed to go outside only on their designated day, assuming the identity of Karen. They must follow strict rules to maintain their secret, including sharing information about their daily experiences with each other.


The novel also raises important questions about the role of government in controlling population growth. While the concept of limiting family size may seem extreme, it serves as a cautionary tale about the potential consequences of unchecked population growth. The story forces readers to consider the ethical implications of such measures and the impact they have on individual freedoms.

Collins’ writing style is fast-paced and engaging, keeping readers on the edge of their seats throughout the book. The narrative is filled with suspenseful twists and turns, making it difficult to put down. The author expertly balances action-packed scenes with moments of introspection, allowing readers to connect with the characters on a deeper level.

The character development in “What Happened to Monday” is exceptional. Each sister is distinct and well-rounded, with their own strengths and weaknesses. The bond between the siblings is palpable, and readers can’t help but root for their survival. The author also explores the complexities of their relationships with each other, adding depth to the story.

The novel’s setting is vividly described, painting a bleak picture of a future world grappling with overpopulation. The author’s attention to detail creates a sense of realism, making it easy for readers to immerse themselves in the story. From the cramped apartment where the sisters live to the bustling streets of the city, every aspect of the world feels authentic.

“What Happened to Monday” is a thought-provoking and thrilling read that will leave readers questioning the limits of government control and the lengths one would go to protect their family. Collins’ masterful storytelling and well-developed characters make this novel a must-read for fans of dystopian fiction. As the sisters fight for their survival and search for the truth, readers will be captivated by their journey and left eagerly awaiting the next twist in the plot.

In conclusion, “What Happened to Monday” is a gripping dystopian novel that explores themes of identity, sacrifice, and the consequences of government control. With its fast-paced narrative, well-developed characters, and thought-provoking storyline, this book is a must-read for fans of the genre. Max Allan Collins has crafted a compelling tale that will keep readers hooked from beginning to end.

[The article is indeed not written by a human being, and mostly plagiarizes summaries of a movie by a similar name (“Whatever Happened to Monday”). I copied this excerpt here rather than linking directly to the site, which generates a deluge of dubiously-accurate computer-generated pages designed to enshittify everyone’s Google results. –Nate]

* * *

Here is an interesting site that gives you the opportunity to vote if you think the book (usually a novelization) is better than the movie. The movie almost always wins. I invite you vote otherwise (when you agree that my book is better than the movie).

This individual seems (wisely) to think my BATMAN run is better than it’s cracked up to be.

Denny O’Neil himself seems to agree.

Finally, this is an interesting piece on Saving Private Ryan, with a reference to my novel of the screenplay.


Rock & Roll Happened…Twice

Tuesday, June 27th, 2023

This past weekend my classic rock band Crusin’ appeared twice in three days. Since we only perform in the summer and limit ourselves to around four bookings, this was unusual to say the least.

But the two venues – Ardon Creek Winery and the Muscatine Art Center (for their annual Ice Cream Social) – are regulars of ours and we weren’t about to turn either of them down.

I had some trepidation because of my ongoing health issues, which in particular make the load-in and load-out difficult for this 75-year-old rock-and-roller. But my bride Barb and son Nathan lent a hand in both instances, and that made all the difference. My bandmates Steve Kundel, Bill and Scott Anson were understanding, too, and both gigs went well. We were up against weather on Sunday afternoon for the Ice Cream Social, but the heavy stuff (as Bill Murray would say) did not come down until we were loading out.

This week for my update I am primarily sharing photos taken at these two performances. The photographers were Barb and Nate. Our grandchildren, Sam and Lucy, were in attendance for both events, and there will be an attack of cuteness included. Diabetics are forewarned.

Crusin' at Ardon Creek, June 23, 2023
Crusin’ at Ardon Creek, June 23, 2023
Granddaughter Lucy, a born rocker (Ardon Creek)
Granddaughter Lucy, a born rocker (Ardon Creek)
M.A.C. cues the boys at Ardon Creek
M.A.C. cues the boys at Ardon Creek
M.A.C. with grandson Sam after the Ardon Creek gig
M.A.C. with grandson Sam after the Ardon Creek gig
Crusin' on June 26, 2023 at Muscatine Art Center
Crusin’ on June 26, 2023 at Muscatine Art Center “Ice Cream Social”

Crusin’, at the moment, only has one more gig scheduled, but we are working on what is undoubtedly our last CD, which will be original material recorded live…or anyway that’s the plan. We hope to come out of it with both an audio version and a video (with audio of course) version.

Fittingly, this week I have a link to a nice write-up about my first band, The Daybreakers, focusing on our LP.

Here’s a good if patronizing write-up about my final Batman issue.

AV likes Tom Hanks in Road to Perdition, ranking it among his best performances. Me, too.

Finally, it’s yet another of these “movies you didn’t know were based on comic books” write-ups. But they like Road to Perdition, so what the hell.