Friday, April 30, 2021

April Words of Wisdom

It's been a really quotable month! --Me

A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished fro truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact. --Dan Kahneman

That's the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody's going to be against, and everybody's going to be for. Nobody knows what it means because it doesn't mean anything. --Noam Chomsky

Be the light that darkness fears. --Unknown

They don't like it when your authenticity is louder than their facade. --Gina Carano

Love me or hate me; both are in my favor. If you love me, I'll always be in your heart. If you hate me, I'll always be in your mind. --William Shakespeare

The older I get, the more I realize that arguing on the basis of facts and logic only gets you labeled as someone who is out of step with the times, if not lacking in compassion. --Thomas Sowell

Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don't. --Anthony Bourdain

Ask not for lighter burdens, but for broader shoulders. --Unknown

We must neither behave as children by resisting honesty, nor allow ourselves to be treated as children by having honesty withheld. --John McWhorter

Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. 
--President John F. Kennedy

The snake that cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind. --Friedrich Nietzsche

No matter how hard the world pushes against me, there's something stronger - something better - pushing right back. --Albert Camus

A problem cannot be solved with the same consciousness that created it. 
--Albert Einstein

Grow, or don't. But death is still coming. --Unknown

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. --Thomas Edison

Truth does not mind being questioned. A lie does not like being challenged. 

Tradition is a guide and not a jailer. --W. Somerset Maugham

Man cannot remake himself without suffering for he is both the marble and the sculptor. --Alexis Carrel

Some things are believed because they are demonstrably true, but many other things are believed simply because they have been asserted repeatedly. 
--Thomas Sowell 

Minds are like parachutes - they function only when they are open. --Thomas R. Dewar

Some will be attracted to my light. Others will fear it. I've decided to shine anyway. --Unknown

If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be. --Joseph Campbell

Exemplary persons are steadfast in the face of adversity, while petty persons are engulfed by it. --Confuscius 

The greatest calamity that could befall us would be submission to a government of unlimited powers. --Thomas Jefferson

Censorship turns us into children, whose eyes and ears are covered because the authorities know better. --Brendan O'Neill

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it. --Upton Sinclair

It's time to cancel the cancel culture before it kills our culture. --Piers Morgan

An individualist says: "I will not run anyone's life - nor let anyone run mine. I will not rule nor be ruled. I will not be a master nor a slave." --Ayn Rand

The forest was shrinking but the trees kept voting for the axe, for the axe was clever and convinced the trees that because his handle was made of wood he was one of them. --Turkish proverb

If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he'll eat you last. --President Ronald Reagan

Decision is often the difference between greatness and mediocrity. In every man's life there comes a time when he must search for a cause, a work, and ideal to which he can give himself. Whether he says 'Yes' or 'No' to the challenge will determine his future. --Wilferd Peterson

No corporation should be so big and powerful that it can override the voice of the people. --Senator Josh Hawley

I like old bookstores, the smell of coffee brewing, rainy day naps, farmhouse porches, and sunsets. I like the sweet simple things that remind me that life doesn't have to be complicated to be beautiful. --Brooke Hampton

May the shells of the shore remind you that treasures arrive everyday in the form of simple things. --Sandy Gingras

I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. --Thomas Jefferson

Do noble things, not dream them all day long: And so make life, death, and the vast forever one grand, sweet song. --Charles Kingsley

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. 
--Henry Ford

A hero who does not have many reasons to solve a problem will gradually become uninteresting. --Donald Maass

Above all things - read. --Ngaio Marsh

Thursday, April 29, 2021


The first Dexter teaser trailer is here!

Dat face...

Exact premiere date has been announced yet, but it will be sometime this fall. And I CAN. NOT. WAIT.

Anywhere is...

One of my favorites of many favorite Enya songs.


The moon upon the ocean
Is swept around in motion
But without every knowing
The reason for its flowing...

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Poe humor was a low, dull, quick sound-much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton...

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Recent reading: "Are You Being Served? A Celebration of Twenty Five Years"

I've been binge watching Are You Being Served? on DVD and decided it was time to do more than just flip through this book.

Are You Being Served? A Celebration of Twenty Five Years by Richard Webber with David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd

This book was published in 1998, thirteen years after the show ended and five years after its sequel, Grace and Favour (aka Are You Being Served Again?) left the airwaves. Despite its age, the upside is that with a few exceptions, most of the principles were still alive at the time the book was written and were able to contribute their memories of the show. Almost all have since passed away. It was kind of fun to read it as if they were all still with us.

The book covers how Are You Being Served? was conceived and developed by Croft and Lloyd, how it made its way onto air at the BBC (its studio-bound, non-location sets made it an inexpensive show to invest in) and its eventual world-wide popularity. It also covers the sequel Grace and Favour (aka Are You Being Served? Again!) which saw Mrs. Slocombe, Mr. Humphries, Mr. Lucas, Miss Brahms, Captain Peacock and Mr. Rumbold running a country inn left to them by Young Mr. Grace. Despite its popularity and the enthusiasm of both the writers and cast, it was cancelled by the BBC after only two seasons. The Beeb's reasoning is that they were moving in a new era in sitcoms and that AYBS's sequel represented the past. 

Also included is a hugely popular AYBS stage play that the cast performed between seasons four and five and a less than successful TV movie.

I found it fascinating to learn the backgrounds of the cast, most of who had already experienced success, especially on the stage and in British television. Most were accomplished actors long before they stepped foot into Grace Brothers' Department Store. The book also covers a large number of supporting actors, including the sexy secretaries and nurses who saw to Young Mr. Grace and Mr. Rumbold over the years as well as numerous guest actors. 

I think one of my favorite things about this book is learning that the cast and crew really were one big happy family, as cliche as that might sound. Watching the show you can tell the actors are having a blast, and it was a relief to find out that was an accurate observation.

Despite being dated, this is a great book for fans of AYBS. It includes a short forward by Joanna Lumley, who was briefly married to Lloyd and who appeared in two episodes.

You guys, Netflix has a documentary on Bob Ross!!!

As part of their summer movie slate, Netflix will release the documentary Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal and Greed. And I for one can't wait.

I have a feeling this won't be part of the documentary.

And yes, I did use this meme as inspiration for a story. It's one of the ones that was supposed to have been published this spring. Hopefully it will finally sees the light of day in July.

Monday, April 26, 2021

The 2021 Academy Awards

So in case you hadn't heard, last night the Academy Awards were held for a bunch of 2020 movies that barely saw the light of a movie theater. 

Because of the pandemic, this was no ordinary Oscars, which was held at Union Station in Downtown L.A. and not at the event's usual home at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. 

One thing that didn't change was the opulent swag bag handed out to nominees in the Director, Actor, and Actress categories. This year's bag was worth a whopping $205,000 each. You can see the dizzying list of items in the bag here. I thought about actually making a list then decided not to torture myself, as it's a mind-boggling collection of excess (although if anyone wants to gift me a trip to Golden Door, I'd happily accept). The only thing that made me feel better about the bag is that the recipients at least have to pay income tax on its value.

Unfortunately for the show itself, a change of scenery didn't seem to inspire a more entertaining awards show than we've seen in the past. Here is a boatload of mostly harsh reviews courtesy of PrimeTimer. Alison Martino of Vintage Los Angeles had a brilliant suggestion about honoring the unusual and historic location, which no doubt would have been an improvement to the show. Maybe next year they should hire her to be part of the production team. 

One of the stranger things the producers did was moving the Best Picture announcement to third from the end, rather than at the end as has always been done. There is a lot of talk online that they did this in the belief/hope that the late Chadwick Boseman would win Best Actor (for a number of reasons) and they felt what no doubt would have been a very emotional acceptance speech by his widow would be a great capper to the evening. Instead, Anthony Hopkins won and on top of that wasn't present to accept the award in person, so what was supposed to be a big finish to the show ended up being embarrassingly anti-climactic (or so I've read; I haven't actually watched an awards show in years). But it ended up backfiring on them big time. I bet they move Best Picture back to the finale next year. 

I can almost understand their reasoning. Boseman's death was tragic (he was only 43), he was gifted, respected, and well-liked, and it would be the last opportunity for the Motion Picture Academy to honor him. It's easy to see how he would have been a deserving sentimental favorite in the vein of Heath Ledger. Add in the whole "Oscars So White" movement over the past few years and Boseman seemed like a shoe-in. But in retrospect, that's what happens when you pander and/or try to make a big change just for the sake of doing something different. It can bite you in the ass big-time. 

There's also a great article in the PrimeTimer link that opines that the change ended up being unfair to the producers of Nomadland, three of whom were women, robbing them of their big moment at the conclusion of the broadcast. It's an interesting take and I don't completely disagree. 

Congratulations are due to Hopkins for becoming the oldest Best Actor winner at age 83. It was his second win in six nominations, and his first since winning for his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Also congrats to Frances McDormand, who became a three-time Best Actress winner last night, and just for good measure scored a fourth Oscar as a Nomadland producer. In unrelated news, The Brother and I are going to see a screening of Fargo on the big screen this weekend. There is no limit to how many times I can watch McDormand as Marge Gunderson. 

Another criticism I'm seeing a lot of was the In Memoriam segment. When will awards show ever learn that if there's one thing fans and viewers don't want less of, it's this segment? If your broadcast is going to be bloated anyway, take a couple minutes more to honor your dead. And include everyone. I can't remember the last time there was an awards show and there weren't complaints about people being left out. You'd think producers would pick up on that at some point. 

And now early ratings are in and they aren't pretty: Oscars Ratings Crash To All-Time Low; Viewership Falls Below 10M For First Time Ever. These are only early Nielsen numbers, but they're still horrific:

In delayed fast national results just released by Nielsen, the 93rd Academy Awards were watched by a mere 9.85 million, with a dismal rating of 1.9 among the 18-49 demographic.

That is an all-time low for Hollywood's biggest night - by a huge margin.

In fact, it is a drop of over 48% in terms of audience from what the previous low of the 2020 Oscars snared on February 9 last year. In terms of the key demo, the 2021 Oscars is down a crushing 64.2% in the earlier ratings from the 2020 Oscars.

I'll leave you with this, because it's freaking hilarious, although I'm pretty sure they cleared out any homeless near Union Station so the beautiful people didn't have to see what's becoming increasingly common in Southern Cal neighborhoods:

Updated 4/27/21: Final numbers pushed the audience up to 10.4 million - still a stunning fall from grace for a broadcast that used to be a worldwide event that few missed.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Recent reading: "Sh*t Rough Drafts"

Sh*t Rough Drafts: Pop Culture's Favorite Books, Movies, and TV Shows as They Might Have Been by Paul Laudiero

I almost feel like I'm cheating because this was such a quick read, but it was a fun read too.

This book is Laudiero's take on what some pages of famous rough drafts of books and scripts might have looked like, especially if had they been written by a comedian (Laudiero is a member of the Upright Citizen's Brigade and the introduction in the book is hilarious). The inspiration is a quote from Ernest Hemingway that, "The first draft of anything is shit."

Scenes are recreated, alternate titles are considered, and notes are given. Here are a few examples:

War and Peace/War & Peace/Fighting and Loving/Arguing and Kissing/Battles Then Smokin' Weed/Punching and Sexin/Bloodshed & Hugs

The Fun Gatsby/The Nice Gatsby/The Coolest Gatsby/The Gabby Gatsby/The Gatsby Gatsby/The #1 Gatsby/The Chubby Gatsby/The Last Gatsby

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway:
Santiago was a man, and men fish. Fishing is the best thing a man can do. Other than bullfighting. I love bullfighting.
Note: Ernest, every time, why?

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And I have been lost for forty five minutes

A list of potential names for Los Pollos Hermanos in Breaking Bad (followed by notes):
The Chicken Brothers (Too plain)
Las Pollas Hermanas (??)
Las Drogas Hermanos (Too obvious)
Pollos y Metanfetamina (No!)
Kentucky Fried Methamphetamine (Are you kidding?)
Meth, Meth, Meth (NO!)
This is a Regular Chipotle (We need to talk...)

From the film Apollo 13:

This is Houston, say again please?

Houston, we have a problem. (boring)
Houston, we got an issue.
Houston, we got a bit of a bugaboo.
Houston, we done and shit the bed.
Houston, something is beeping. (circled)
Houston, we fucked up.
Houston, Tod dropped the ball again! (Who is Tod?)


by Mary Shelley

"What do you do in your room all day?" his landlady asked him. "I smell funny smells and hear strange noises all the time."

"I bake," replied Dr. Frankenstein.

This was true, as he was working on his scone recipe at the time.

Also, he was building a monster.

My favorite was the title page for The King's Speech:

The King's S-s-s-s-s-s-p-p-peech


David Seidler

Note: This is offensive David.

All in all, this is a small but fun read, especially for writers struggling with their shitty firsts drafts. 

Friday, April 23, 2021

Gotta get back in time

Anything to do with Back to the Future will never get old. A perfect flick.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

What could possibly go wrong?

Ya know, I didn't even have to open the email to question the wisdom of Amazon getting into the drug delivery service.

Click to biggify, as we used to say in the good old days.

That's right, Amazon will now drop off your prescription drugs right on your doorstep. And, apparently, leave them there.

Yep, delivered to your door.

That sound you just heard? Why that was your friendly neighborhood porch pirates rejoicing like their team just won the Super Bowl. Because it did.

Gotta question the legality of drop-off prescription druggies, but since Amazon rules the world, I guess they can do what they like. Can't wait to hear the stories that come out of this development. Or the ones that are written with this scenario as part of the plot. Because, I could totally use this in a story.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Department of Crime Writer Humor: Home Edition

I haven't resorted to this yet, but maybe I should...

And if that wasn't funny enough, there was this response:

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Publishing update...or lack thereof

I expected to have two more short stories published by now. But a few things have conspired against us (*cough* COVID *cough*) and right now I have little to nothing to report.

The Fish That Got Away (from the Sisters in Crime Guppy group) was scheduled for a March release, but between COVID and the departure of an editor who shepherded Guppy anthologies in the past, we seem to have slipped down the publisher's food chain. In fairness to them these anthologies aren't money makers for anyone involved, and they do have a business to run. Right now it seems like we're looking at a July release (hopefully).

Avenging Angelenos (from Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles) should have come out right about now, since SinC/LA releases their anthologies in conjunction with the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in April. The FOB was cancelled last year, and this year's is virtual April 17-18. But I haven't heard anything about this anthology in months and if it was on target we would have gotten cover art by now. Again, not a money maker for anyone involved and I don't want to be perceived as badgering people who are taking time out of their own lives and writing time to make this happen, but it's looking like it isn't going to happen this month. Beyond that I don't know. I'm just waiting to hear from them and I'll go from there. Really looking forward to seeing this anthology get out there - my editor on this one was really complimentary about the story. 

And unfortunately, that all the news that's fit to print right now. 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Flashback Friday: Culinary School

"Cooking is a craft, I like to think, and a good cook is a craftsman - not an artist. There's nothing wrong with that: the great cathedrals of Europe were built by craftsmen - though not designed by them. Practicing your craft in expert fashion is noble, honorable and satisfying." --Anthony Bourdain

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Recent reading: "Wrong Light"

Wrong Light by Matt Coyle

The fifth in Coyle's Rick Cahill series (currently he's up to number seven with another on the way).

Cahill is a former Santa Barbara cop turned San Diego P.I. with a lot of baggage. In Wrong Light he's hired by a San Diego radio station after their popular late-night call-in host, Naomi Hendrix, receives a creepy, vaguely threatening letter from an apparent stalker that the local PD doesn't think is threatening enough to investigate. Cahill disagrees with that assessment but is hindered by Naomi herself, whose insistence on keeping secrets of her past and not taking the threat seriously doesn't make Cahill's life or investigation any easier.

To complicate things Cahill gets a call from a vicious Russian mobster he owes a favor to, so in addition to trying to identify Naomi's stalker and keep her safe, he's obligated to take on a surveillance gig that he doesn't really understand...but is determined to figure out. And if he does it could earn him even more wrath from the Russians, who would have no problem eliminating him, something Cahill is well aware of.

Cahill lives with what he has to do, and does what he has to do to stay alive. And what he has to do doesn't always follow the stereotypical do-the-right thing code adhered to by so many fictional PI's and detectives. His default intention is to do the right thing but sometimes he's thwarted, sometimes he steps over the legal line for his cases, and other times it's a him or them situation. 

Coyle is a master of fast-paced plotting and despite this book being 330+ pages, I got through it really quickly. There was no point at which I felt bogged down; it's the reading equivalent of riding a roller-coaster. I'm way behind on this series in addition to being out of order, but if there's anything I got out of Wrong Light, it's that I need to catch up. 

Disclaimer: Matt Coyle was my first editor, when "Crime Drama/Do Not Cross" was published in LAst Resort in 2017. This didn't effect how impressed I was with this novel and how well it is written.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Test Kitchen: Sweet-Savory Sticky Chicken

This recipe is from Cooking with Trader Joe's: Pack a Lunch! 

Actually, I had it for dinner. And probably for lunch and dinner tomorrow, and I only made a half recipe. The full recipe is 10-12 drumsticks.

Ready for the oven!

Toast those sesame seeds!


From the cookbook:

This sweet and flavorful chicken recipe tastes great hot or cold. The sauce used to cook the chicken is delightful and can be used with any meat or poultry. The oven-roasted and glazed drumsticks are a classic and a big hit with kids and finger food enthusiasts.

And with me. The drumsticks were really good, especially with the sauce, and the recipe is easy-peasy. I'd also try it with thighs or wings. Highly recommended.

The Demon Dog gets a podcast

Great news: Author James Ellroy will be doing a Los Angeles based true crime podcast.

The bad news: It's only five episodes and doesn't launch until August.

Still, this is going to be fun. I saw Ellroy in person years ago when he made an appearance at an L.A. bookstore in support of the film version of his novel The Black Dahlia, and he did not disappoint (although the movie did). The best way I can describe him is that he is a James Ellroy character, a throwback to another era, a larger-than-life legend in his own mind (and in the minds of many others, mine included).

From the article:

The series, based on his own true crime reporting, will be narrated by Ellroy and will tell the story of a slew of memorable mid-century murders.

Episodes include Glamour Jungle, which explores the 1963 unsolved murder of Karyn Kupcinet, daughter of Irv Kupcinet, famed columnist and friend to mobsters. Stephanie tells the haunting tale of Stephanie Gorman, who met an untimely end in the Cheviot Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1965. Clash by Night fast forwards to 1976, to the murder of Rebel Without a Cause star Sal Mineo. The series concludes with a two-part episode - Body Dumps and My Mother's Killer, which tells the story of the 1958 murder of Ellroy's own mother.

Yesterday I read that John Stamos (apparently a big Rat Pack fan with connections) will be doing a podcast in late July about the kidnapping of Frank Sinatra, Jr., and now this. Lots of cool podcast goodness to look forward to.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

RIP ArcLight and Pacific Theaters

Another casualty of you know who: ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theaters permanently closed. Included under the ArcLight/Pacific umbrella: the historic Cinerama Dome in Hollywood and the flagship ArcLight Hollywood.

There's been a lot of reaction to this news here in Southern California and from the entertainment industry, and nobody is happy about it. It also seems to have caught everyone completely by surprise. When I first saw it I was so shocked I thought it had to be a mistake. Unfortunately, it's true.

I'm not terribly worried about the Dome itself - it was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1998. I believe this gives it protected status and even if it doesn't I can't imagine a scenario where anyone would be allowed to knock it down. I'm pretty sure somewhere along the line some entity will resurrect it and get it back into the movie business. 

But the loss of the ArcLight/Pacific brand is a big one for Los Angeles. Most of the significant closures in the past year were classic and popular restaurants. These were businesses that should still be here. Their closures were due solely to loss of business because of the shutdown and not by any fault of their own. When I see states that didn't have California's strict COVID closure policies doing just fine...well, that just make this news even tougher to take.

Other local theaters that won't be reopening because of the closure include the Pacific Theaters at The Grove and ArcLights in Pasadena (Paseo Colorado), Sherman Oaks, El Segundo and Santa Monica. The ArcLight's website has already been scrapped with just the stark closing announcement.

But hey, at least The French Laundry seems to be thriving!

Hugs 😥

Update: There is now a petition to save the Cinerama Dome. Again, I don't think the structure itself is in danger, but a show of support isn't going to hurt its future prospects, so...

Update 4/14/21: The petition originally aimed for 2,500 signatures and blew right past that number. As I type this, they have crossed the 8,400 mark and are now aiming for 10k!

Monday, April 12, 2021

COVID killed Casa Bonita! You bastards!


Casa Bonita, Denver's Disneylandish Mexican restaurant known to most of us non-Coloradans thanks to South Park, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Hopefully Casa Bonita's owners can get back on their feet and get the place reopened, but according to the article they've been closed for a while due to the pandemic, so that might be wishful thinking. Nonetheless, I'm pulling for them.

The article also references a comment by Trey Parker that he and Matt Stone briefly considered buying the place a few years back. Considering that between South Park and The Book of Mormon those guys have to have more money than God, I think it would be super cool if they bought it now, or at least bailed it out. Their financial advisors might not agree, but I'd love to see that happen.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Happy Easter!

A little Easter humor:

And something a little more somber:

To make this even sadder, the moderator on this account had to delete and shut off comments because apparently some people couldn't stand this picture and made ugly comments. So sad.

But as for the rest of us who take the high road, have a wonderful day and celebration!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Best police department press release ever!

All together now: He needed TP for his bunghole!!!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

It's April 1st, and you know what that means...

It's funny cuz it's true!