Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Back With A Vengance, and it feels good"

I feel like that bear just coming out of it's cave after a long winter in hibernation. Having just wrapped up another school baseball season and taking a month long sabatical from writing, it's good to be back. If you check in to this site regularly, I have a suggestion for what to do in the future during one of my sabaticals due to coaching. Type in and head over to Jed Ayers website "Hardboiled Wonderland" and you will instantly feel at home. During my absence from my site I have been reading, catching some movies, watching some TV series, and gathering new writing material. Their were 3 items inparticular that I was going to write about, the new TV series BOARDWALK EMPIRE, the film, THAT EVENING SUN (based on William Gay's novel) and the film ANIMAL KINGDOM. Here's what I'm gonna do, you know that address I just gave you above for Hardboiled Wonderland, well head there now because Jed already hit on all 3 of these and did a better job than I ever could. He continues to amaze me, as I really think his site just keeps getting better and better. I'm even gonna steal Jed's tagline (sort of) for his Barnes & Noble column (Ransom Notes) since they say theft is the greatest form of flattery. So, Jed consider yourself flattered my friend.

Random Thoughts: In my time away I got quite caught up on some things I had been missing. I watched all 3 seasons of Deadwoood...amazing, great actors, vulgar, and dead on. I caught Season 2 of Sons of Anarchy & I thought it was even better than season 1. I watched Season 4 of Dexter and it was by far the best season yet thanks to the terrific John Litgow & the explosive finale. I loved the premiere's of Boardwalk Empire and The Event. I also caught a couple episodes of Justified and loved it. I'm really looking forward to Season 1 coming out on DVD.

I did get a chance to catch 4 movies over the last month. I got to see WINTERS BONE for a second time at The Avon Theatre in Decatur, Il. I liked it better the second time if that's even possible. I caught things that I missed on my first viewing. I was awed by its slow pacing, and its visceral beauty. Shot in the Ozarks it is rugged & brutal but beautiful as well. I hope that come Oscar time it gets the BEST PICTURE nod it richly deserves.

Another fine film I caught at a private screening at The Avon was "LEAVES OF GRASS". It's directed by Tim Blake Nelson a Coen Bros. favorite and his work here will remind and please those die hard Coen Bros. fans. The film stars Steve Earle, Keri Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, Tim Blake Nelson and Susan Sarandon but it is Ed Norton" who steals the show. Norton plays two different characters, brothers who are actually in scenes together. Some tough feat that is to pull off. However, it works here. You can catch it on DVD as it hits video stores in early October.

I caught 2 films at The Tivoli in St. Louis, ANIMAL KINGDOM & MESRINE: KILLER INSTINCT and I would highly reccomend them to any fan of gritty crime flicks.

I also caught some really good films on DVD, the best of which were "The Red Riding Trilogy", "The Take" a 2 Pt. BBC miniseries, La Sierra, Harry Brown, That Evening Sun, and "The Square".

For those looking for a good book to curl up to here in the Fall, I would like to recomend the following: "The Cold Kiss" by John Rector, "Savages" by Don Winslow, "Think of A Number" by John Verdon, "Still Missing" by Chevy Stevens, "The Poachers Son" by Paul Doiron, and "The Hanging Tree" by Byran Gruely. I also read Larry McMurtry's "Hollywood" but I won't advise you to read that one. Go back to his first (of his 3 memoirs), which is about his time as a book dealer & book scout and stop there.

The Fall also brings some great new books from James Ellroy, John Rector, Reed Farrel Coleman, Tom Franklin, Tom Schreck, and Scott Phillips to name a few.

Well all I can say is you can see I used my time wisely and that we'll have much to discuss in the near future...and some really cool interviews are headed your way starting with Martin Strel ( THE MAN WHO SWAM THE AMAZON).. all I can say is it's great to be back & be good to one another till next time.

Out of Print Clothing

Out of Print Clothing
Click on the above link to go to the website:

Check it out by clicking on the link above. The sad thing is I had the same idea years ago but didn't know what to do with it. You snooze you loose. That's why I'm gonna make an offer right now...anyone who wants to bankroll my other idea, I'm ready to go. You've all seen American Pickers right, well how about a new series called "Book Pickers" . Jed Ayers and myself head out across the Midwest hitting peoples homes, garages, storage units and used bookstores, in search of literary treasures. Jed you have some contacts in L.A. so how about putting out some feelers. I'm willing to drive, all we need is someone to spot us some gas money & some cash to buy the books. Heck, we'd even cut you in on the spoils & give you dibs on the jewels we find. I'm just saying....

FYI, thoughts for the coming week.

Just a heads up here. On Sept 30th, (Thurs.) at 7 pm., the wonderful writer, Jonathan Safran Foer will be at Washington University in St. Louis,Mo. from 7-8:30 and the event is free to the public. You won't want to miss this opportuntity to hear and meet the author of "Everything is Illuminated" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close".

If you find yourself in St. Louis with some time to kill, drop by Subterranean Books in U. City, and check out their new collection of classic T-Shirts of literary greats. I picked up 2 for Banned Book week, (The "Catcher in the Rye" and "On The Road" versions.) super cool and cost about 25 bucks, plus tax. Even more surprising..they are made right here in America, New York in fact. I thought EVERYTHING was made in China. If you can't make it out to see Kelly at the store, you can go to the website and order it directly. However, if you can make it to the store you can also check out their art exhibition of prison paintings and find some really unusual books as well.

While I was at the Tivoli to see "Mesrine:Killer Instinct", I also saw an amazing trailer for a new film entitled "Stone" starring Robert DiNero and one of my personal favorites, Ed Norton. Oh yeah, and Mila Jovovich ain't bad to look at either.

Another film I here good things about is "CATFISH" ,and it's showing at Ronnie's 20 in the Lou. I'm really looking forward to seeing "WAITING FOR SUPERMAN" & I'm sure it'll be at the Tivoli or Plaza Fronteac in the near future.

Hey, here's another overlooked venue you might wanna check out if your near Collinsville and hungry or thirsty. The Westview Wine Cellar has a great selection of beer and wine and a terrific array of delightful sandwiches. They often host artwork and on many nights they have live music including folk singer Pete Morrissey. My brother Pat works there so tell him I sent you. Did I forgot to mention it's climate controlled with a sensational view of downtown St. Louis, especially at night. It's located just off HWY #70 on the hill above the McDonalds restraunt. Take the frontage road in front of the McDonalds & keep your eyes open on your left a 1/4 mile later.

IMDb Video: Mesrine

IMDb Video: Mesrine



I'm not a film critic, I'll leave that to the experts like Illinois' own Roger Ebert. He's amazing in his knowledge & understanding of film. However, I know what I like and I know what captures my attention. Mesrine: "Killer Instinct", is one of those films. It grabs you from the opening scene & holds you by the throat till the credits role. It's relentless, and Vincent Cassel is terrific as the French version of our Scarface. Don't even get me started on the subtitle issue, I can't believe intelligent people who won't watch film's with subtitles, or B& W or silents. Some of the best films being made today..(shock) are not being made in America, and when you eliminate films with subtitles you just denied yourself some of the best films period! I saw this film yesterday in the comfort of the Tivoli theatre in U- City section of St. Louis, Mo. The films based on the true story of the French gangster Jacques Mesrine's life in the 60's-70's. If you see Pt. 1 which is "KILLER INSTINCT", you will know how PT.2 ends beforehand. My mistake was waiting till 7 pm to see Pt. 1 and then my wife didn't want to hang around for Pt. 2 at 9:30. I reluctantly agreed knowing we still would have a 2 hour drive home after the film. However, I really wanted to see "PUBLIC ENEMY #1" despite knowing how it would end because "KILLER INSTINCT" was that good. I may try to catch it next week but if not that's what Netflixs is for. Also, Scott Phillips you were right as always.