Sunday, January 31, 2010


I don't have any idea if anyone even reads my stories, but if you do, and you can find just one thing on here, (a book, movie, venue, artist or musician) that makes your world a little better place, or more colorful and fun to be in...well, then I've succeeded. All I know, is for me personally, I'm always looking for those "spice of life" discoveries. This Sunday Judy & I woke up to a beautiful sunny day( for Jan.) and decided it was a great day for a road trip to the Lou.. (St. Louis). I threw in a CD of Lucinda Williams (one of those discoveries that Patty Abbott led me to) and you just couldn't help but feel free as "Can't Let Go", "I Lost It" ,"Concrete & Barbed Wire", "Right in Time" and "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" helped set the mood. Great stuff! I dare you to listen to those 1st 2 tracks & tell me that you're still depressed. Once we got in town we headed to The Moolah Theatre, to see "CRAZY HEART". Over the next 2 hours I sat on my cozy leather couch and was transported to another place and time. Jeff Bridges gave a lifetime performance as country western singer "Bad Blake". I wont ruin it for you, but I will tell you to go see it, or rent it. The soundtrack is top rate & includes songs by Waylon Jennings,Lightnin Hopkins, T-Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham and of course Jeff Bridges and Colin Ferrell ( by the way..they can sing). We left the Moolah and headed to a couple of my favorite bookstores, BIG SLEEP BOOKS & LEFT BANK BOOKS in the Central West End. Of course we found a couple books we had to have..we always do. Then we headed to U City and Vintage Vinyl & Subterranean Books before catching the late afternoon showing of "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" at The Tivoli Theatre. I was pretty excited about seeing this show. First, it was Heath Ledgers last film & most importantly it had Tom Waits playing Mr. Nick (The Devil). I was hoping for so much more than I got. It was pretty slow and the plot lines were a bit jumbled at times. However, I don't care if you saw the worst movie of the year, if you saw it at the Tivoli it was worth it. Finally, we stopped for a burger & hit Borders to pick up the "Crazy Heart" soundtrack before heading home. This was an unusual trip as we skipped Ted Drewes on this occasion (it was winter). As I hit the Illinois border and darkness fell, I stuck in a CD of Ramblin Jack Elliott and "Soul of a Man" and for a moment " all things were right with the world".

Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger ( 1919-2010 )

My good friend Dave Gergani rushed to see me today with news that he had my next story, and man was he right. J. D. Salinger, author and recluse, passed away late Wednesday evening at the age of 91. Salinger, author of the classic novel "CATCHER IN THE RYE", and the creator of the immortal character Holden Caulfield. There are over 60 million copies in print. Released in 1951, it had an immediate impact both positive & negative. The novel touched on themes that would strike a nerve with teenagers (innocence & alienation, a world of fakes and adults who can't be trusted). Many disillusioned youths have felt a connection and sense of place with "Catcher". However, it was his personal life that I found so interesting. Salinger chose to live a solitary life at his home in Cornish,N.H. for over 50 years. He refused interviews, fan letters and made no public appearances. During his years of isolation it has been rumored that he has continued to write & has completed some 15 novels. Now we will wait & see. I'll be fascinated to see if any posthumously books are forthcoming for the man who brought youth rebellion & angst to the forefront. Salinger, to the end, turned down all requests to have "Catcher in the Rye" made into a motion picture. My wife and I once took a 23 day rode trip through the East Coast & the only regret I have, was we passed within 10 miles of Cornish and I didn't detour and stop. Their are several books available on J.D.Salinger, two that I've read that were very interesting were Joyce Maynard's "At Home in the World" and Margaret Salinger's (his daughter) "Dreamcatcher". Salinger is survived by his two children, a son Matthew & daughter Peggy or "Margaret". His children often did not see him in a very flattering light. So... now we wait ! As Salinger's estate is passed on (possibly to his children) will we see those hidden novels forthcoming & will they finally sell the film rights literally "over his dead body"?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The whole purpose of my site is to pass on to you (the readers), things you most likely may not have heard about. Child prodigy, KIERON WILLIAMSON is probably one of those. Kieron,a 7 yr. old from Norfolk, England, is being compared to Monet & Picasso and his most recent gallery of 16 paintings sold out in 14 minutes for over 17,000 pounds. His watercolor paintings sell for over 900 pounds each and their is a waiting list of over 680 people. So... if you have an extra 1,000 dollars handy you might want to invest in something that one day may be worth 10 to 100 times that. If I had the money I would, because he truly is that good.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Just in case you missed it.. BANKSY (one of my fav's), a world renowned graffiti artist struck at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend. I thought it was pretty cool, as did others, but not everyone in Park City, Utah was as enamored. You can go to the Sundance web site to check out the photos.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is That Even Possible ?

I just devoured this book! Allison Hoover Bartlett's, true life tale of book thief (John Charles Gilkey) & the bibliodick ( Ken Sanders), who helped to bring him down. As a self confessed bibliophile I found this book both fascinating & intriguing. I also found it personally enlightening & thought provoking about why we collect what we do & for what purpose. Allison looks into the field of rare book collecting through virgin eyes and is transfixed by the world she finds. Ive been a collector since I was about 7 years old. It started with baseball cards and comic books. The baseball cards ( some 500,000 plus ) I still have & the comics went the way of the burn barrel via my Mother. My mother is a saint & in fact it's the only thing I have on her & I still like to remind her from time to time. During my teens I started collecting autographs & sports memorabilia. Later, I began to amass a collection of coffee cups, Pyrex dishes, magazines, documents on S.Ill. history and original historic newspapers. I still have all the aforementioned, but in later years I moved on to 3 specific areas: roughly 7,000 books ( signed & 1st edition ), 5,000+ original movie posters & 6,000 movies (VCR,DVD,Laser Discs). My passion for book collecting really amped up after reading John Dunning's, "Booked to Die". I've spent many a day on an exciting quest by myself, with my wife & mother, and with my friend Tyler Renshaw looking for the next prize to add to the collection. At times its exhilarating, at others its frustrating as theirs only so much time & money available. When you have a limited amount of both, you have to work harder & wiser than the next guy,( without stealing ) so...that's my point. It can be done without resorting to the ways Gilkey does in this book. However, I will say I definitely understand his passion for obtaining. Is it a sickness, or addiction...probably. Like Gilkey says "Every collector seems a little obsessed, a little mad". Advise for future collectors or those already bitten by the bug, remember one thing, "We do not own our collections, our collections own us".....Happy Hunting !

ROBERT B. PARKER 1932-2010

I was saddened to see this morning that Robert B. Parker, had passed away of an apparent heart attack. Mr. Parker,77, was one of the true giants in the field of mystery writing. Robert B. Parker published 65 novels to date, and had published 37 Spencer novels, of which he was most known for. Spencer was an ex-boxer, turned Boston P.I., and was the basis for the 1985 TV Series "SPENCER FOR HIRE" featuring Robert Urich. He also had another popular mystery series with Jesse Stone. It was also a basis for films starring Tom Selleck. The 9th Jesse Stone novel,"SPLIT IMAGE" will be out on Feb 23rd. Mr. Parker was on my list of authors that I most wanted to meet and I had always admired his late start ( 1st book published at age 42 ) into the world of literature. He will be sorely missed.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Colton Harris Moore....catch me if you can !

A story that recently caught my eye, is that of 18 yr. old Seattle native Colton Harris-Moore. Moore escaped from a minimum security juvenile facility in April of 2009. Since then Colton has gained notoriety as a thief who breaks into homes (over 50) to eat ice cream & take bubble baths and then flee into the woods. From there the crimes have escalated to cash, stolen boats and airplanes. Nicknamed the "Barefoot Bandit" Moore's escapes are becoming something of a legend. He has flown away 3 planes & safely crash landed all 3 of them with no formal training. Already T-shirts are being sold with his picture & the words "FLY COLTON FLY", and a song "THE BALLAD OF BAREFOOT HARRIS" has been penned. He also has a FACEBOOK fan club with over 8,000 members and a documentary film crew have been to his hometown of Comano Island,Wa. He has been featured in Time Magazine & ABC NEWS. To this day he is out there on the run, continuing to allude authorities, hiding out in dense forest's. Colton has been in & out of trouble with police over petty crimes since he was 8. While the story sounds romantic, a modern day Robin Hood or Jesse James as some call him, you just know the story's not going to end well. I have feeling either he ends up dead, or gets put away for a long time. That's the cold hard reality of it all. A local law authority commented "He is an adult felon, I will not have him made into some kind of folk hero" This story reminds me of Frank Abagnale Jr's story which was made into the film, "Catch Me If You Can" ...(they could & they did). Fortunately, Frank went to work for the good guys (the FBI) & is one of the leading authorities on check fraud & identity theft in the world today. I had the pleasure of making Mr. Abagnale's acquaintance at the St. Louis Speaker Series a few years ago and I found him to be highly intelligent, personable and had completely turned his life around. I can only hope Colton gets that same chance to one day use his misguided adventures for something positive. I'll keep you posted of any new developments. For now, Fly Colton Fly !

Thursday, January 14, 2010


One of the coolest events to come along in awhile is called "Noir at The Bar". It was founded in 2009 by (Hardboiled Wonderland's) Jed Ayers, and Scott Phillips, the author of several novels, including "THE ICE HARVEST". The idea I believe originated out East and was brought to St. Louis by Scott. The concept is a night of crime noir book readings in a bar. The first two have been held at The Delmar Lounge on Delmar in the Heart of U City. I missed the 1st N@B1, which featured Anthony Neil Smith, whose books include "Yellow Medicine" & "Hogdoggin". I was really bummed at having to miss the inaugural event but I had made several trips to St. Louis that same week. N@B2 though was a different story though, as Judy & I both got to go & we loved it. The Bar on Delmar was the perfect setting to listen to these Hard Core crime writers reading their latest works. Jed Ayers kicked off the night with one of his new short stories & then was followed by Chicago native, Theresa Schwegel. Theresa read from her newest book "Last Known Address" & is the author of 4 wonderful books including "Person of Interest" "Probable Cause" and her white hot debut novel "Officer Down". Then it was Scott Phillips turn to get down & dirty with his latest short story. About 30-35 people were in attendance, including one of my favorite authors, Robert Randisi, who's penned over 500 books. Mr. Randisi, has written crime novels, westerns, you name it and has a wonderful mystery series set in St. Louis (In the Shadow of the Arch, Blood on the Arch, East of the Arch, Arch Angels.) There was something that just felt right about it all. I talked to Jed recently and he says N@B3 is in the works, so as soon as I get a date I'll post on here & CONSIDER YOURSELF INVITED.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

DOUBLE EXPOSURE by Michael Lister

Michael Lister's "DOUBLE EXOSURE" was my literary find of the year for 2009. It was purely by accident that I even stumbled upon it at all. It was only after listening to Michael on a panel entitled, "Dark Books For Dark Times", (at Bouchercon in Indianapolis) that I became aware of Michael Lister's work. I was so impressed by the way he handled himself on that panel that I raced out immediately afterwards to track his books down. I was only able to find one of his books "Blood of the Lamb" at the event. When I returned to Effingham I went to our library & put in an order for his newest book "Double Exposure". This book was a powerhouse! It succeeded on so many levels. The story was tight & gripping and the prose was lyrical. It was simply told but effective. It's a roller coaster ride that will leave you misty eyed in the end. However, if you could only have time to read 2 pages this year, then I suggest pg. 58-59 of this one. You may never think about time in the same manner again. Theirs enough wisdom & wonderful quotes to fill several books. I finished it & I immediately recommended it to our book club at school, and was very pleased to hear the feedback was as positive & thoughtful as I had hoped. So,...PLEASE do yourself a favor & hunt down this book. If your interested in finding a copy just leave me a comment & and I can tell you where to look. ENJOY !!

Monday, January 11, 2010


On Jan 12th. the finest movie of 2009 (in my opinion) finally becomes available on DVD. This movie will grab you by the throat in the opening minutes and won't let you go until the credits roll. To see The Hurt Locker, you would have had to have hunted pretty hard for it, (ST.LOUIS & DECATUR) & even then it was only there for a couple weeks. I was lucky to catch it in Indianapolis in October & myself & my family were floored by it. The film is about those brave men in the service who work on the bomb squad, detonating explosive devises. Jeremy Renner is outstanding in this roll & deserves a Oscar nomination, as does its director & of course the film itself for Best Picture. I will be pulling for it on Awards Night. The film grossed only 12.7 million in a very limited release. This is a must see, trust me on this one & you wont be sorry. Some other films to be on the lookout for on DVD are, The Coen Brothers "A SERIOUS MAN" (Feb 9th) & PRECIOUS on March 9th. See you at the movies.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


If you've not seen or heard of, "IT MIGHT GET LOUD", and your a music lover, then you need to go to your local video store or Netflix and pick it up immediately. There are so many reasons to see this film, and one is it's a rare opportunity to see into the minds, the techniques and vision of three of the alltime great guitar players:( Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Edge of U2, and Jack White of The Raconteurs and The White Stripes). The three come together on one stage & share their musical influences and events that helped shape & form their lives. I would watch for no other reason than to watch the jam sessions and to watch them perform (The Bands), "Take A Load Off Annie" is worth the price of admission alone. There was so much more however, such as the effect of Irelands violence while growing up on Edge and the fact that Led Zeppelins 4th album which included "Stairway to Heaven and "When The Levee Breaks" only garnered a one paragraph review. The Critics simply didn't get it at that time. It was also enlightening to see the influence The Blues have had on Jack White & that his favorite song is by Son House. Each musician displayed a mastery, intelligence & understanding so comprehensive it was almost zen like or religous in nature. To speak, is to speak through their guitars. They all spoke of learning to play via playing alongside albums as youths. Though their backgrounds were varied, (from the UK to Ireland to Detroit) it was quite obvious they all share one thing...A Clarity of Vision".


This story really should have been after the one on the Avon because without Skip Huston, their would be no Heart Theatre story. As I mention in my previous blog on The Avon, that fateful day in 2001 changed so many things for Judy & I. In 2003, Skip Huston went into a partnership and assumed control of the Heart Theatre.We opened up on December 12,2003, but after only a few short weeks Skip had to pull out of the deal to concentrate efforts back home in Decatur. Skip turned things over to Chuck Zwick, and Judy & I remained on as Managers of the Theatre over the next 3 1/2 years (2004-2007). I will always truly treasure those years & the wonderful memories we made. The Heart Theatre was opened in 1940, & remained a beautiful theatre until the end. It was built in the Art Deco style with lots of neon out front & a lighted glass brick stairway leading to the upstairs restrooms, that were also done in glass brick & tile of the 1940's style. It was one of a kind & we were very lucky to be allowed to run it as a ART THEATRE during that time. You could see shows in Effingham that you otherwise would have had to travel to a big city like St. Louis or Chicago to see. My top 25 films that we got to bring to Effingham were, (in no particular order ) CITY OF GOD, 21 GRAMS, LOST IN TRANSLATION, NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, GARDEN STATE, SAW, LIFE AQUATIC, SIDEWAYS, HOTEL RWANDA, SIN CITY, (a double feature of) KILL BILL 1 & 2, NOTORIOUS BETTI PAGE, WORLDS FASTEST INDIAN, LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN, JUNEBUG, GRIZZLY MAN, (midnight showing of) THE DEVILS REJECTS, HUSTLE & FLOW, LOVE SONG FOR BOBBY LONG, CRASH, CAPOTE, SHATTERED GLASS, HOUSE OF SAND & FOG, THE STATION AGENT. The sad part is I watched some of those with as few as 10-25 people. Small town America just didn't realize what a special thing they had. We had lower ticket prices & bigger screen than the local multiplex & we did alot of cool events. We hosted "THE HAVE A HEART FILM FEST" where over 4 days we showed free viewings of, (THE MAJESTIC,DRIVING MISS DAISY,HOOSIERS, FREAKS ,EVES BAYOU, MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD & EVIL, KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, TRUE ROMANCE, FERRIS BUEHLERS DAY OFF,ARMY OF DARKNESS,A TIME TO KILL,and A HARD DAYS NIGHT...FOR FREE !! We showed the NCAA TITLE GAME between Illinois & No. Carolina, we had the St. Louis Cardinals playoffs & WS games and Hosted an Oscar Night for 2 years for the Academy Awards. There are some out there thinking yeah, but you must not have shown the blockbusters... well we played the, Passion of the Christ,Phantom of the Opera, Lord of the Rings, Cold Mountain,Casino Royale, Cars, Mystic River, Spiderman 2, Ray, Walk the Line, Lemony Snickett, The Aviator, Million Dollar Baby, Tim Burtons Corpse Bride, The Producers, King Kong, Brokeback Mountain, Pirates of the Carribean 2, Little Miss Sunshine, Shrek 2, Harry Potter films. Documentaries & overlooked such as Shattered Glass, Calender Girls, Big Fish, Fog of War, Touching the Void, This Old Cub, The Story of the Weeping Camel, Supersize Me, Thank You for Smoking,Motorcycle Diaries, Layer Cake, Facing the Giants,March of the Penguins, An Inconvienent Truth, Fahrenheit 9/11 and hosted Effingham Unit 40's Student Film Festival. Probably my favorite thing we did was the Classics we showed: CASABLANCA,WIZARD OF OZ, MODERN TIMES, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, SEVEN YEAR ITCH, GREASE, GODFATHER PT.1, KING CREOLE,GHOSTBUSTERS, ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE, BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID, PRETTY WOMAN, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, COOL HAND LUKE, GRAPES OF WRATH, THE BLACK CAT and THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. FOLKS PLEASE !! ....We did all that in a little over 3 years, with a single screen, but we never really caught on here in Effingham. There were alot of things we'd liked to have done if the $$$ had been there, like adding some couches & love seats like the Moolah in St. Louis, & we did briefly add pizza and coffee, to our wonderful gourmet popcorn & concessions & I wanted to add gourmet pretzels but just ran out of time. The memories are GOLDEN, and if you were a film buff in the area around that time..(you know who you are ) we loved spending time with you.I can't finish without saying how blessed we were to have the wonderful staff we had together (Matt Viverito, Kelly Hille, Jenny Power, Morgan Bushur, Amy, Stuart, Louise Johnson, Bernice Walk( we love you & miss you),Tracy Walk, Craig & Brian Minor, Dan Niebrugge ,Nancy Stead, Judy Finke, Rich Hirtzel and Chris. We poured our hrearts & souls into it, and we all worked other jobs as well.All I can say is if you never saw a movie at the Heart during that time,well its your loss. It was truly a golden era of film that will probably never be seen again in this area. SKIP HUSTON..Thank You for making my dreams come true, you will always be "THE MAN"

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The AVON THEATRE Decatur,Il.

It's funny how a chance outing can change your life. Sometimes it's for good and sometimes for worse. In 2001, my life & my wife's, were changed forever and this was one of those good times. I saw an add in the Decatur paper for a twin bill at The Avon Theatre, featuring "SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE" & the 1922 silent classic NOSFERATU. I had never been to The Avon, nor Decatur,Il. as far as that goes. This night would literally change my life's direction over the next 6 years. The Avon Theatre was originally opened on Nov. 28th, 1916 and is the longest continually operating movie theatre in the state of Illinois and also one of the absolute finest. It's located in newly revitalized downtown Decatur, at 426 North Water Street. The first thing you will notice when you go there,(as I did on that night in 2001) is its owner, Skip Huston, or The Head Honcho. Skip is a very hands on owner, he greets you going in & out, he sells tickets, he makes announcements of upcoming shows before that nights presentation & will refer to you by name on your next visit if you take the time to introduce yourself to him. Skip, owner of the Avon since 1999, is the Cecil D. Demille of theatre owners,and a wonderful man who takes his business very seriously. The theatre is clean, safe & staffed by knowledgeable film people who care about your experience. Going to The Avon is not just watching a movie, it is an experience you wont forget & will long to do again over & over. If you cannot tell yet...I LOVED THIS PLACE FROM DAY ONE... I sit here in 2010 and reflect back & still feel a longing deep in my soul to head up to The Avon every chance I get. Since, 2001 I have watched over 150 movies at The Avon, and I forgot to mention I did so on the largest movie screen in the tri-state area. When we first began attending shows at The Avon, it catered to overlooked, art films, foreign films & just downright Good Films ! Over the years Skip built two more theatres right next door to the original theatre & they are known as The Avon Twins and show more of the main stream & blockbusters while the Avon continues to show overlooked & Art Films...going back to its roots. Its prices remain lower than the multiplexes, & has The Best gourmet popcorn around. The Avon is known far & wide for its popcorn. Other specialties to the Avon is it's, beautiful marquee out front, it's balcony, and the neon blue ghostlights on the stage. As you settle into your seat & the show begins you will be thrilled to know there are no advertisement's, just an old fashioned vintage cartoon,(hand selected by Skip)and a couple trailers. If your lucky you may get to see the original "LETS ALL GO TO THE LOBBY" or "Mama" telling you to turn your cell phone off, be quiet, keep your feet off the chairs & was your hands. It's a classic reel. Over the past 8 years Skip has taught film classes for Richland College right at the Avon. Most classes are 6 or 8 weeks long with 1 film chosen each week by Skip with his intro before & live discussion afterwards. These classes are a "hidden jewel" & Judy & I have participated in many of these classes, and they're targeted for any film buff, from beginner to novice. There is nothing like seeing silents & classics in a theatre that showed many of them when they originally came out. I've been fortunate to see silents there like SUNRISE, THE CROWD, THE WIND, THE BIG PARADE, and SHERLOCK JR. & SPEEDY with the ALLOY ORCHESTRA a 3 member group that sounds like a full orchestra. If your looking for Special Events, look no further... The Avon provides FREE shows on Halloween, Christmas & New Years Eve, and televised the Academy Awards in the past. Motion Picture Star & Cult Legend BRUCE CAMPBELL has appeared on several occasions and (Lt. Dan) of Forrest Gump fame, GARY SINSE recently appeared at a special showing of a local directors war film. The Avon does The ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW with Milliken's drama students acting it out on stage w/ the film. How about RARE films? Lets just say I've seen SONG OF THE SOUTH, BIRTH OF A NATION, FREAKS, & THE BLACK CAT there. So as time went on & Judy and I developed a wonderful relationship, w/ The Avon, Skip & his lovely wife Sue over the next 3 years, things would arise that would change our lives in a big way & I will continue in my next column. Anyone interested in going to The Avon, PLEASE leave me a comment & maybe we can hook up & I'd love to play host. Also, please let me know your top 6 or 8 CRIME FILMS you would love to be able to see.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Life Imitates Art
A story out of Belfast,Ireland caught my eye today.It has came to light that 2 years ago Iris Robinson the wife of Peter Robinson (Who is Head of Northern Ireland's government & major Protestant Political Party), got caught up in a major political scandal involving an affair with a much younger man (Kirk McCambley). At the time of the affair it seems that Mrs. Robinson was 58 years old while Kirk McCambley was 19 years old. During that time it seems Mrs. Robinson used her position as a member of the Parliment to secure loans of $80,000 dollars to help out her young lover get started in business without the Parliment's knowledge. Mr. Peter Robinson, has denied any knowledge of the affair or the loan. I think Dustin Hoffman & Anne Bancroft would be proud.

2009 Literary Findings

I had a friend (Tyler Renshaw) who once said, "would'nt it be great if you could go back and see all the films you love, again for the first time". " To feel that since of awe & bewilderment we felt on that first viewing". Yes it would be, and it got me thinking about authors who've had that same effect of AWE, on me. I can still remember the following authors, 1st book I read, the time period & feeling's they left me with. These authors remain dear to my heart: ( Ken Bruen,Craig McDonald, Ace Atkins, Daniel Woodrell, Cormac McCarthy, Scott Phillips, Reed Farrel Coleman, Dennis Lehayne, Jeff Lindsay, William Gay, Tom Franklin, Duane Swierczynski, Megan Abbott, and Chelsea Cain, Harry Crews.) I can never forget that first moment of discovery, as I ran across these authors books for the 1st time. I wait anxiously each year, waiting for their newest piece of work to hit the bookstores. In 2009, I discovered 20 wonderful new authors who made a major impact on me, many that I'm embarrased to admit it took me this long to find. Included in my 20 were the debut efforts of authors such as SOPHIE LITTLEFIELD, STEPHEN J.SCHWARTZ, STUART NEVILLE, JOSH GAYLORD, DANIEL DEPP, JOSH BRAZWELL, ATTICA LOCKE & KATHRYN STOCKETT. All with stunning debuts! The other 12 (I apologize it took me so long to find you & thank godness I did) included, DAVID MOODY, MICHAEL LISTER, TOM SCHRECK, LINWOOD BARCLAY, SEAN CHERCOVER, THERESA SCHWEGEL,CHARLIE STELLA, RAY BANKS, VICTOR GISCHLER, ANTHONY NEIL SMITH, JACK KERLEY, VICKI HENDRICKS. My favorite books of the Year were "Double Exposure" by Michael Lister, "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett, "On the Ropes" by Tom Schreck, "Haters" by David Moody, "Ghosts of Belfast" by Stuart Neville, "Big City, Bad Blood" and "Trigger City" both by Sean Chercover, "Fear The Worst" by Linwood Barclay, "Black Water Rising" by Attica Locke, and "Bad Day for Sorry" by Sophie Littlefield, and thats just 10 from the "New" discovery list. There were memorable books in 09 from tried & true friends like, "TOWER" by Reed Farrel Coleman & Ken Bruen, "Toros & Torsos" by Craig McDonald, "Evil at Heart" by Chelsea Cain, "BURY ME DEEP" by Megan Abbott, "Dexter by Design" by Jeff Lindsay, and "Devil's Garden" by Ace Atkins. In the 2010 year ahead, look for new books by Ace Atkins, Craig McDonald,David Moody, Michael Lister, Duane Swierczynski & Reed Farrel Coleman. So..if your looking for some books you can sink your teeth into in the year ahead, I hope this post will help get you started. Let me know what u think. Oh, and I know its past Christmas, but if Santa dont mind me askin for a late gift,...PLEASE bring us a NEW novel by Daniel Woodrell in the not so far future.

Short Term Memory & Show you dont Wanna Miss !!

Jan,8, 2010 My memory is not what it used to be, and thats why I write everything down these days. I went back to check the number of movies I went to in 2009 & was suprised to see I actually caught 36 in theatres, not the 12 or so I remembered. I had forgotten the 9 I saw in Jan. of 09, finally catching the 2008 Oscar nominess like Benjamin Button, Doubt, The Wrestler, Slumdog Millionaire. Judy & I spent a memorable day at Chase Park Plaza Cinemas on Jan.24th when we watched 3 films (Revolutionary Road, Frost/Nixon, and The Reader) all back to back. What a day ! I also forget about the 8 films we saw at the Roger Ebert Film Festival, and I will review this years Festival in the months ahead. Then their were the several other films we caught at the AVON Theatre in Decatur, Il., classics such as IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT & DR. STRANGELOVE in Skip Hustons wonderful film classes. you can see, while it was a dissapointing year for films in 2009, it wasnt all that bad of a year for me in cinemas. NEWS FLASH: Dont miss the opportunity to watch the Documentary ( BIG RIVER MAN ) on Discovery Jan. 9th at 9 pm CST. This is the story of an Amazing man, Martin Strel, who swam the entire length ( 3,274 miles ) of the Amazon River in 66 days in 2007. The show will be repeated on Jan. 10th, 14th, & 15th. Martin's swim helped raise money for the protection of the Rainforest. He is a big man , drinks a couple bottles of wine a day during his swims & he's my age. This is a man to admire in the days of false idols who it seems fall from grace daily anymore. Mr. Strel has also swam the Mississippi & Nile Rivers. CHECK INTO HIM by Gogleing his website.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2009 Film in Review

2009 "YEAR IN FILM"         I found 2009 to be a dissapointing year for films.  I was lucky enough to get out to a theatre to see ( The Proposal, Away We Go, Inglorious Basterds, Amelia, Up in the Air, The Road, A Serious Man, The Hurt Locker, Blindside and The Informant.)   10 films for me in a single year is a down year.  This from a guy who ran a Art Deco Art Theatre for 4 years. The only bonus was I saw most of those films at my beloved theatres (The Moolah & The Tivoli ) in St. Louis.  It wasnt that I didnt get a chance to go...on the contrary. There just wasnt much worth going to see. Unlike, 2008,  which had several wonderful films like instant classics, "NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN" & "THERE WILL BE BLOOD". The best films of 09, showed few bombshells. I did absolutely love "The Hurt Locker"  & "Sin Nombre" and "A Serious Man", and  I thought Ingorious Basterds, Up in The Air, The Road  were pretty good. The Proposal, Blindside and The Informant were alot of fun.  I did forget Guy Ritchie's ROCK & ROLLA which I enjoyed very much.  Otherwise, it was a pretty slow year unless some of the late releases yet to hit most of the Midwest like ( Precious, Lovely Bones, Nine, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnasus, Crazy Heart, and The Messenger)  save the day.  I know, I know...What about AVATAR?   Well its already grossed a billion in ticket sales like Camerons previous hit TITANIC, but it just doesnt, I dont know...intrest me. I'm sure when all's said and done I'll check it out.   The one film I mentioned above I really cant wait to see is, THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASUS,  if for No other reason than to watch Tom Waits in it. Ive heard he's terrific.  I would expect nothing else. For those who might stumble onto this site, give me a break since this is my virgin entrance into the Blog World. I will get better (I PROMISE) & I want to thank "Hardboiled Wonderlands"  author Jed Ayers for getting me going. If you havent seen HBW, its one of the best blog's going!
Jan 3, 2010
  As I look back on 2009 I realize what a great year it really was!  It became a summer of folk, as my wife & I caught some wonderful concerts including:  Bob Dylan, Tom Russell, Slaid Cleaves, Joan Baez, Levon Helm, and Leonard Cohen. Tom Russell was a real revilation for me. Introduced to Tom's work by dear friends Craig McDonald & Ken Bruen,  my first listen was to Tom's CD "Hotwalker" and I was hooked from then on. "Hotwalker" is Russell's tribute to a vanishing America. Included are bits with Charles Bukowski, Lenny Bruce, Edward Abbey, Jack Kerouac, Little Jack Horton and Dave Van Ronk. It also includes a wonderful jazz riff entitled "Honky Jazz". After that it was a race to get my hands on all things Russell, & soon I discovered what a tremendous song writer he is. Songs  such as "Who's Gonna Build the Walls", "Stealing Electricity", "Criminology", and "The Sky Above, The Mud Below"  are unforgetable. It wasnt long after my initial introduction to his music that I was lucky enough to catch him live at Fitzgerald's in Chicago. Tom played most of his songs off his soon to be released CD "Blood & Candle Smoke" and put on a show to be remembered.  Tom his wife Nadine were everybit as gracious after the show as you could hope to expect expect. Tom took pictures & signed CD's & took time to chat. A class act!    Note:  If your a folk fan like myself be on the lookout for appearances by Ramblin Jack Elliott in Louisville, Ky. in Feb. & Arlo Guthrie in St. Louis at The Sheldon in March.