31 May 2008

MATT CADD, PRIVATE EYE: Aloha

It was Hawaiian night at Maxine's Retro Lounge. Loud shirts. Don Ho. Pineapples on pizza. Authentic Primo beer smuggled in from Honolulu.

Matt Cadd was bored, and headed for the door. I'll take a ride in my roadster, he thought.

He got as far as The Anchor.

"Rye. Neat. Please."





The 50th state.

28 May 2008

Rocket Scientists Rock!

THIS is way cool:

If you aren't tuned in to the Phoenix Mission you are missing out. The Age of Exploration is alive and well, and we can thank the science and math nerds at JPL for that. Rock on, dudes!

(Image is from Astronomy Picture of the Day, one of the coolest websites out there. I expect I'm violating a pile of copyrights, but I'm so stoked by this stuff I don't care.)

26 May 2008

MATT CADD, PRIVATE EYE: Memorial Day

Matt Cadd ground out his last cigarette on the hot asphalt beneath the park bench. The bands had marched to the beat of the bass drums and the wail of the bagpipes. The crowds had gone home, the speeches forgotten.

The dead remained, their eternity cocooned in the cold earth.








Shoppers get 50% off!

22 May 2008

Kiss Me, Deadly

I won't attempt a review: read Bryan Schingle in The Thrilling Detective instead. We added the DVD of this 1955 film noir to the collection recently. It is a wild and wonderful ride. Much of the footage involves car scenes, so you get this jumpy, nervous feeling as Mike Hammer bulls his way through all the bad guys and crazy chicks. The Ralph Meeker performance captures Spillane's protagonist in all his sadistic glory. The script by A.I. Bezzerides spins off into sci-fi land with a box of deadly radioactive material that ultimately causes the climactic conflagration. It was the 50s, everyone was freaked about The Bomb, and the movie captures that. We have lots of psycho-killers and jihadists today to make paranoid films about. Back then they had the Mafia and The Bomb, and Kiss Me, Deadly has both. Hammer has a wall-mounted reel-to-reel tape machine connected to his phone, another little SF touch. That sort of thing was not, of course, commonplace in 1955. I found it funny that Hammer screened his calls!

18 May 2008

MATT CADD, PRIVATE EYE: The Honey Pot 4

Roger Boring was in Aspen. Honey called Matt Cadd. Drinks. Dinner. Show. More drinks. He took her home.

"Say, doll, how's about . . . ?"

He never finished. She held up her left hand--it sported a big, shiny rock.

"I'm engaged."

"But, doll--"

"No more wrestling matches for this girl," she said.






50 G's on her finger.

17 May 2008

Dr. Atomic

This morning on KSOR Ashland, the "Classics and News Service" of Jefferson Public Radio broadcast the Lyric Opera of Chicago performing Doctor Atomic by John Coolidge Adams. This is a contemporary English-language opera by a fellow who writes stuff about Nixon, Leon Klinghoffer and El Niño. Not your ordinary musical material, and not your ordinary music. It is too hot to venture outdoors today (100 ºF in the shade), and a couple of hours lying about and listening to weird opera music seemed like the perfect thing to do. It is hard to imagine lumping this stuff in with something like Verdi, but the power, dramatic intensity, and pathos that operatic music has in abundance came through despite the lack of traditional forms like arias or even melodies. It was a long, continuous piece, with lots of mood shifts and variation. The story of Robert Oppenheimer, the Manhattan Project, and The Bomb, the subject of the opera, is certainly mythic in scope, and the ambitious nature of the work is a bit overwhelming. Dr. Oppenheimer was the 20th century's Prometheus, marshaling the brains needed to bring the fundamental energy of the universe out of the atom and into the hands of men. For better or worse, he shaped the modern world. He can count the explosion of dystopic and apocalyptic works of speculative fiction among his god-children, and I will venture to say the cynical and fatalistic elements of noir are among his legacies as well. The Bomb was in no way a one-man show, but this man's name will be forever linked with it. Needless to say such a musical diversion got TPP thinking deep and dark thoughts about humankind and the future. Who needs that on a Saturday afternoon? Good thing there is a counterpoint to Mr. Adams and his brooding music: Mr. Larry Todd and his outrageous comic, Dr. Atomic. This fellow is a mad scientist sort, spreading the magic of marijuana, the craze of cannabis, the highs of hashish with the help of his robot assistant and Billy Kropotkin, the hippie-next-door. I am the proud possessor of issues 1, 2, 4 and 5. They are from Last Gasp Eco-Funnies of Berkeley, California. Number One is from 1972! That seems to fit--Last Gasp. Here's hoping the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the sixty-plus years since Trinity is NOT humanity's "last gasp."

13 May 2008

blog, n.

a vehicle for self-promotion.

also v., to engage in self-promotion.

12 May 2008

Talkin' Baseball

One of my favorite blogs is by a fellow named John Perricone called ONLY BASEBALL MATTERS. Recently he challenged his "backtalkers" to write a piece about Peter Magowan's legacy as the owner of the San Francisco Giants. Mr. Perricone said he would pick the best ones to "front page" and guess who got picked? ME! That's right, kids, yer old pal M.C. Check it out.

11 May 2008

MATT CADD, PRIVATE EYE: Pentecost

Matt Cadd was sleeping.

He swam underwater. He surfaced. Johnny's ghost stood on the shore, dressed in white, speaking a foreign tongue. The wind blew.

Later, April Day told him what the dream meant. "His spirit is with you."

Those guys ought to keep better hours, he thought, and yawned.






Seven weeks plus one: 50 days

07 May 2008

04 May 2008

MATT CADD, PRIVATE EYE: To Know a Veil 4

Matt Cadd's legs were asleep--two hours on the carpeted floor of a Moroccan restaurant. Raven was footing the bill.

"I'm moving to Egypt, Matt."

He gagged on his thick, muddy coffee.

"There's a teacher. She's the last of a line. I can't say no."

He couldn't feel his feet.





Those are 50-piastre coins on the belt, y'know.

01 May 2008

Southern Noir

There's a lovely website called This Goodly Land and it is all about the literary landscape of the 22nd state, Alabama. Alabama is known unofficially as "The Heart of Dixie," but officially speaking, it has no nickname. I like This Goodly Land and think I'll stick with that. What brings me here, you ask? An Arkansas-born but Scottsboro-bred writer named W.L. Heath and his fine 1955 novel, Violent Saturday. My copy is a 1985 Black Lizard paperback, with the Creative Arts, 833 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94710 address. I must have wandered by this place in some of my many Berkeley peregrinations, many years ago, but I was not tuned in at the time. My noir fiction obsession is a recent incarnation, despite my long love of the filmic version. It was SF that captured the mind of that aimless Berkeley youth. Violent Saturday is another of last summer's Powell's haul, along with Ill-Wind, also by Mr. Heath and with the Black Lizard imprint. William Ledbetter Heath is a hard guy to find information about. There's a bit of biography in the Edward Gorman preface to the book, and similar stuff on the TGL author page. Wikipedia has an engaging entry for Black Lizard, but not W.L. Heath. Hmm, sounds like an opportunity. Violent Saturday was a short (139 pages) read, but the brisk pace, sharply-drawn characters, vivid small-town locale, and fatalistic urgency of the story made it rich and satisfying. This kind of book is what makes noir fiction so appealing--the lack of bullshit. The action is simple and direct, almost inevitable, but the tone and imagery are so clear and full that you don't notice the bare-bones tale. It is like a Miles Davis riff--clean and spare but warm and lyrical at the same time. This Goodly Land says this:

W. L. Heath’s adult novels are examples of “Southern noir” (works that feature ordinary people with dark secrets who get caught in violent situations).

The novel was made into a movie with Victor Mature, Lee Marvin, and Ernest Borgnine.