Monday, November 24, 2008


I don't know what I did to ABC, but they must not have liked it. The Powers That Be decided I was watching too much television, because they canceled not one, not two, but three shows that I TiVo.


Eli Stone: meh, I'll get over it pretty quick. The dad from Alias singing Jim Croce can only take you so far.

Dirty Sexy Money: Was I really watching this because I liked it? Or was it because I still needed my Six Feet Under fix? Either way, it was a fun ride. Gotta love that Peter Krause. GAC represent!

Pushing Daisies: By far the most depressing news. I love this show dearly. Imaginative writing. Fantastic storytelling. Compelling characters. Amazing cast. Adjective anything about this damn show. Another case of a cult show not gaining mainstream fans, who would rather watch tripe like 'Celebrities Make Fools Of Themselves'. Reality television killed America's imagination. And shows like Daisies were trying to be smart. Love Lee Pace (check out another canceled gem (and Bryan Fuller creation), Wonderfalls, for more of his brilliance). Anna Friel is a delight to watch. Chi McBride is a detective I can get behind. And Olive. My dear sweet Olive.

What makes Daisies cancellation extra sour is the fact that I met and worked with Miss Olive herself, Kristin Chenoweth, this past summer on Into Temptation. She is everything you'd hope her to be. Funny, charming, adorably short. You just want to put her in your pocket and carry her around. So wonderful.

So ABC, punch me in the gut. Please. Cuz I know your gameplan. You'll soon be trying to cozy right back up to me, with your puppy dog eyes, saying, "You're gonna watch Lost, right? And we have some Scrubs for you."

Sigh. Oh, all right. You win again, network television.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Howdy! Wow, it's already been a week since my last post. Huh. Well, I guess that's partially a good thing, since it gave you more time to read about Yellow Medicine -- ahem! (That's my oh so subtle way of telling you, once more, to check it out)

The past week was filled with flicks and books, so I figured I would take a little time to write about some of the glorious entertainment I've taken in over the past seven days.

Oh, and there's a mild spoiler alert needed, I guess. Nothing like finding out Vader was Luke's father--oh, you didn't know that?!


Zack and Miri Make a Porno: The first part of that title, Zack and Miri? Not too bad of a movie. A little on the vulgar side. I mean, am I just getting older, or does the constant use of the words f*#k and c*#k just seem like lazy writing? Regardless, the two main characters are likable, and really, who wouldn't want Elizabeth Banks as a roommate/best friend? But when they get to the Porno part of the title? The film goes down the proverbial tube. Kevin Smith is a talented filmmaker, with an ear for dialogue, but his style of comedy has become sorely dated, and it's high time he made a mature movie about growing up. Come on, Kev, I know you have it in you.

Also, I really don't think he'll ever film anything more powerful than Affleck's proclamation of love in the rain and the hockey arena parking lot fight in Chasing Amy. Sure, they are a product of their time, but damn did they have gravity.

Burn After Reading: Seeing this movie will no doubt bring with it an entirely different blog entry about the cost of the movie theater experience. Jen and I went to the Riverview Theater to see this flick. The Riverview is a local second-run theater where you can splurge on popcorn, soda, and Dots (yep, those fiends again) for a total of SIX DOLLARS. SIX! DOLLARS! I KNOW!

As for the movie, it was vastly different than the Coen's last flick, No Country. But their movies are like pizza, in that even when they're bland, they're still better than most other films. Burn lacked the emotional wallop of their other screwball crime flicks, most notably Fargo. It just felt a little hollow, which, I guess, was partially the point. But damn Richard Jenkins is one helluva fine actor. Love that guy.

By the by, is that not the greatest poster you've seen in a long while?

Quantum of Solace: Let's get it out of the way: I loved it. Daniel Craig is the Bond Ian Fleming wrote about. The movie's a little sparse on plot, and with reason. Bond follows flimsy lead after flimsy lead until he's smack dab in the middle of something far greater than he ever expected. The action scenes are frantic and choppy (thank you, Jason Bourne!), which made it hard to follow. And really, how many vehicles can one guy get into a chase with in two hours running time? Let's count: car, boat, motorcycle, plane... unicycle--okay, I threw that in there. But there was nary a pane of glass unshattered, nor a face unbloodied. Including Bond. Which is what makes the new flicks so good. This is a down and dirty Bond, not the quippy Grandpa Bond of Roger Moore, or the outlandishly horny Bond of Connery. From the minute Craig battered that guy's face with a urinal in the opening scene of Casino Royale, you knew this Bond was different.

Solace felt like the second act of something far bigger. By introducing QUANTUM, a fiendish organization with agents around the globe, the film leads us to believe there is a greater plan. The scene in the opera house, where Bond discovers just how far-stretching QUANTUM's control has become is great. And with villainous names like Greene, Slate, and White, is it only a matter of time before we re-discover a man named Gold? There's a moment in Solace that leads me to believe that could very well be the case.

Death-Defying Acts: We rented this flick, which slipped under my radar. Not too bad, a little ho-hum as far as the storytelling goes. The reason to watch is Guy Pearce as Harry Houdini. I'm a sucker for all things Houdini, and Pearce plays him fantastically.


Just After Sunset by Stephen King: I wrote about this earlier, and about how I was going to have my nose buried in it as soon as I bought it. Well, I think we may have found the reason this blog hasn't been updated since the day it hit shelves! I'm about half way through, and I just read a powerful story called "The Things They Left Behind". It's about a 9/11 survivor, and while I've balked at reading or viewing much of the pop culture media about that day (because it makes me want to judo chop guys like the capitalizing Toby Keith in the neck), this story hit me hard. It's a delicate reminder of the fragility of life, and about the impact we leave on others after we're gone. More about this book soon, I'm sure.

Fables: Sometime last summer, I discovered this crazy thing. You can go to the library, take books home with you...AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO PAY! How crazy is that?! Well, since that amazing discovery, I've become a library glutton, and have read a slew of books and graphic novels (the insider's way of saying 'comic books'). It's given me a chance to try a series or two I've neglected. Fables is one of those. I'd always see it on the shelf and think, " maybe one day I'll read that book." In the past month and a half, I've plowed through eight of the first ten graphic novels, savoring every panel. Fables is the story about how our childhood fairy tale characters were banished from their world by an evil 'Adversary', only to find a home in New York. They have their own hierarchy - King Cole is the Mayor, Snow White his second in command, and my personal fave, Bigby Wolf (get it? Big B. Wolf!) is the sheriff. It's a wide open canvas to paint old characters in a new light. Great stuff.

All right, well this kind of got a little out of hand. Sorry about that. I guess it makes up for a week's absence, huh?

Thanks for reading...all five of you!
Until next time,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


'...I hated Minnesotans and hated the goddamn wind. The howling started on one end of the house and caught every crack and hole on its way across, a real zombie chorus that made it hard to sleep. Not that I was sleeping. Most nights I drank wine and stared out the windows into my frozen front yard, the twisty dirt driveway cutting through to the tree-lined county highway, until I passed out, trying to pinpoint the moment my life turned to shit.'

About three years ago (give or take), I started digging pulp. Crime novels. Mysteries. Action heroes. If it was hard-boiled, and not an egg, I was interested. My path to Yellow Medicine -- a book that reads like you're going twenty rounds with a prize fighter -- began with the comic book Criminal. An author by the name of Duane Swierczynski (welcome to kindergarten, please spell your last name for the class), a bona fide crime writer himself, wrote a back-up story in the comic. I immediately went to the library and devoured his books. Relished them. I began following his site, where one day he made mention of Yellow Medicine on his blog. Quoted it. Said it took place in Minnesota. Sold.

So there's a round about, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon explanation for my reading Medicine. Written by Anthony Neil Smith, the man behind the online crimezine Plots With Guns, Medicine is a brutal, sharp book. A book with extremely flawed characters that are believable, and a main character whose soul is as bitter and cold as the Minnesota landscape that surrounds him.

Deputy Billy Lafitte is a Gulfport, Mississippi transplant, a cop who bends the law when it suits his needs. What starts out as a simple favor to Drew, a local psychobilly rocker chick who Billy truly loves, becomes so much more, with decapitated bodies, a haunting figure from Billy's past, and what may or may not be Islamic terrorists. In Minnesota. In rural Minnesota.

Nothing quite turns out the way you expect it to, and no punches are pulled. Billy is not the hero of an action film or book, and he knows it; he is real, and thus the explosions, the gunfire, and the loss of human life feel real.

And it all ends in a perfectly ambiguous moment. So pick it up. You won't be sorry. Oh, and for a little about Smith and his own transition to the frozen tundra of Minnesota, check out this interview with Pulp Pusher.

Until next time,

Monday, November 10, 2008


Along my new found crusade of exposure, I came to another startling realization: I did not have a business card. Comic conventions, film shoots, wrap and release all of these functions, people passed around cards with the promise of future work, like Patrick Bateman and his friends comparing serif fonts and shades of white. But not I! This poor soul was out of the proverbial loop.

No more! My good friend, the Talented Eric Manske (who's nothing like the Talented Mr. Ripley...two pop culture references!) designed these fantastic new cards, which are in the mail en route to my house as I type this. Well, here's a sneak peek:

*Oh, and there actually is a phone number on the card. I left it out for obvious reasons. You know, the Mob.

If you haven't checked out "Wrong Address", the short story from the previous post, well, get to readin'! It's right there, able to download, print out, read in the--ahem--living room. All it takes is one click. Maybe two. I didn't really count.

In a double shot of blog, I also wanted to point out that tomorrow marks the release of Just After Sunset, the first Stephen King short story collection in six years. I'll be one of the first to pick this badboy up, and will undoubtedly have my nose buried in it for days to come! No one messes with the King!

Happy reading!

Friday, November 7, 2008


'I’m pretty sure the package wasn’t for me. The UPS guy had just dropped it off, a small box wrapped in butcher’s paper without a return address. With a finger inside. Female from the look of it.'

So begins the first short story I've written in a while. I will be trying to post original fiction on this site from time to time. All of the work can be accessed on the side bar, but when something new is posted, I'll be sure to make an exciting new entry.

"Wrong Address" can be read HERE!

*Note: there's a wee bit of harsh language and violence, and by 'wee bit' I mean copious amounts, so try not to read it as a bedtime story to the kiddies!

Enjoy, and feel free to let me know what you think.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Another brief post, as it's late and my eyes are getting quite heavy. I know it's been a couple days, but I wanted to add my two cents about the passing of Michael Crichton. My friend alerted me to his death, and even though I hadn't read a book of his since Prey, I was devastated. Jurassic Park is one of the most worn out paperbacks on my shelf, and for a time I, like many other authors, devoured his work, from The Great Train Robbery to The Andromeda Strain to my personal favorite, Sphere.

He turned a book release into the literary equivalent of a summer blockbuster, and he will be sorely missed.

One thing of note. I've been hooked on the Hard Case Crime novels for a couple years now. Two books, Grave Descend and Zero Cool, were written by a gentleman named John Lange. I enjoyed his books so much, I researched the author to find other works of his. I was surprised and yet not surprised to discover John Lange was a pseudonym for Mr. Crichton.

Until next time,


I started this blog with the intention of posting my work, exposing myself to new people and ideas, and answering the tough questions we all face in life. Well, this is one of those questions:

How many Spider-men can fit inside a Jamba Juice?

I will never have the means or fortitude to truly answer this query. But thankfully, my good friend David Letterman does. And did.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Writing is a lot like taking a road trip.

I mulled this concept over, appropriately enough, while driving home from Duluth this past weekend. With my wife sleeping soundly beside me, and nary a radio station to be found up and down the dial, I found myself facing a frightful situation: I was alone with my thoughts. Bear with me here.

Some trips are short, while others are cross-country treks. Oftentimes, snacks are involved, a bottle of soda, a box of Dots (don’t judge me!). If your destination is nearby, say a friend’s house, you may not even grab a snack. And you certainly don't need much guidance getting there. You use signposts, memory, and familiarity to lead you. This act, of course, is quite similar to writing a short story. You may use road signs, or an address scribbled in chicken scratch on a Post-it note, but never would you find the need to consult an atlas or a thick book of maps. When writing a short story, you may only hit upon the concept (I know! A man discovers a severed finger in his mailbox!) and let your own fingers - non-severed - get to work. The trip is fairly quick, and you likely take the most direct route to your destination.

When you're writing a longer work, say a novel, well the situation changes. The snacks are abundantly necessary (sometimes an entire cooler of beverages is in order!), and your atlas, your books of reference, and your highlighters are more than welcome to ride shotgun. You may even have mix CDs lined up to keep you company. The final destination is hazier, and there are more questions to be answered. How long will it take me to get there? Will my final destination be the same place I set out to reach when I left? Should I take the highway or the scenic route? Why did I think beef jerky nuggets were a good idea? When writing a novel, it’s most difficult (if not impossible) to drive the whole way without an outline, a treatment, and a beat sheet. They are your maps, your atlas, your Garmin GPS system with the androgynous voice telling you where you should turn, where you should stop for gas, and sometimes, when you should take a bathroom break (okay, maybe not that).

Even the act of writing itself is like driving. Again, there are times when writing is very much like hitting the highway and flicking on the cruise control. You kick back, roll the windows down, and crank the Rick Astley. It’s an enjoyable ride. The sun is out, the wind is in your hair, Mr. Astley is never gonna give/never gonna give/give you up. Other times, you hit construction, and what should really only take you an hour turns into a frustrating day of setbacks. There is often cursing involved, and hitting your head against the steering wheel. Another more pleasant option is, of course, the ability to turn off the highway, to have found that surprise that you didn’t expect, that town or park that damn near beckons you to stick around for a while, to enjoy the view.

In the end, the gooey moral at the center of this cheeseball is that it’s all about the trip. When you’re on the road, never think about the destination, and certainly never think about the fact that you’re alone on this ride. Think about those towns, the ones that you find along the way, and about the sheer joy of the open road.

And about Dots.

All the best,

Monday, November 3, 2008


All right, so the Halloween buzz is slowly fading away (though maybe not the sugar high from the bucketloads of candy). Fortunately, the holiday season looms around the corner, and soon enough, we will be sitting around the table with family and friends, enjoying massive amounts of food. And pie. Lots and lots of pie.

Well, have I got a book for all you pie lovers -- Garden County Pie: Sweet and Savory Delights From the Table of John Michael Lerma. Written by local chef and friend John Michael Lerma, the book features many unique and delicious pie recipes. John Michael has been featured on the Food Network, and is a staple on local radio and television. He, along with his husband Chad, have been friends with my wife and I for many years. We even traveled to Italy last year and spent a week with them and a group of amazing folks at a villa in Tuscany. Rough, I know.

Well, I'm pimping this book not only because John Michael is a friend of mine, but also because my wife Jennifer, a talented photographer, shot both the cover photo and many of the interior photos as well. We spent a whole day out in Stillwater at Chef's Gallery (a wonderful store run by our friend and fellow Italy travelmate Steph) cooking pies and styling pies and shooting pies and eating pies. Jen is quite pleased with how the photos turned out, and we can't wait to see the final product.

So check out the book on Amazon HERE. I believe it will be in stores by Thanksgiving, and will make the perfect stocking stuffer come Christmas.

Now go mow down some bite-size Snickers and Smarties before it's time for pie!

All the best,