Last week, my offer of a dozen ARC’s (advance reading copies) of ANTIQUES CON to readers willing to do an Amazon review found all twelve spoken for within 24 hours.
This week I have a similar offer, and it just might go quicker (we will post here and on Facebook when the offered books are gone). [Note from Nate: We're all out again. Thanks for the terrific response!]
I have a dozen copies (not advance reading copies, but the real deal, and I’ll sign them) of KING OF THE WEEDS, the Mike Hammer novel going on sale May 6. Again, this is predicated on your willingness to write an Amazon review (also encouraged are Barnes & Noble reviews and blog reviews in general). Do not try to post your review before May 6 – Amazon does not allow advance reviews except from their own selected cadre.
This week our son Nathan visited Barb and me for several days, and during that time our author copies came of not only ANTIQUES CON and KING OF THE WEEDS, but Nathan’s BATTLE ROYALE (the cult classic Japanese novel of which he did a new, superior translation). Kind of amazing: every time the doorbell rang, there were more boxes of our books! (And an angel got its wings, of course.)
Nathan’s presence was fortuitous in another way – he was here to participate for Barb and me (and Mrs. Nathan Collins, Abby) in the frantic on-line event known as the San Diego Con making hotel rooms available. The rooms go in under twenty minutes, and the good ones (downtown) are gone in under two minutes. Nathan took under 90 seconds to enter the required info, including a list of six hotels in order of preference, and – thanks to computer dexterity on Nate’s part that both his mother and I lack – we were rewarded with rooms at the Marriot Marina next door to the convention center. This is winning the nerd lottery. We have been attending San Diego Comic Con for many, many years…and this is the first time we’re staying at everybody’s first choice for lodgings.
Right now I am working on ANTIQUES SWAP – really dug in on it. Another week and a half, I would estimate, and my draft will be complete. Barb did such a great first draft that my work has been easy – or as easy as writing ever gets, which isn’t very.
Allow me to quickly comment on a few recent TV series and movies.
First, TV. JUSTIFIED is a great show and had a terrific season finale, setting up one last great big season with Raylon Givens and Boyd Crowder facing off one last time. ARCHER – renamed ARCHER VICE – is winding up its latest season, and it remains my favorite series on TV, just a truly demented guilty pleasure, should any of you be able to experience guilt. On Blu-ray, we watched three JACK IRISH movies, a very good hardboiled private eye show from Australia based on a novel series – beautifully shot, well-written, well-acted, with Guy Pierce excellent as the somewhat forlorn (but not despairing) lead. At least as good is the new season, the sixth, of GEORGE GENTLY with British TV superstar, Martin Shaw. These four movie-length episodes are superior to most of what you might see at the movies themselves. Set in the changing times of the late ‘60s, with a father-and-son relationship between an older and younger cop, GENTLY is as good as anything in the UK crime department with the possible exception of SHERLOCK.
Onto film. I didn’t hate CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. [Note from Nate: mild spoiler alert] In fact, there is much to like, in particular Chris Evans’ portrayal of Cap, and Scarlett Johansson in a skin-tight cat suit. Audiences are reacting very well to this one and I feel like a bit of a spoilsport not to be caught up in its spell. But every surprise is predictable, and it suffers from the oh-so-serious rendering of childish concepts Stan Lee threw off in his sleep decades ago. Guys, SHIELD is not the CIA – it’s an imitation of UNCLE, as in MAN FROM. The Winter Soldier is Bucky, and Bucky is Captain America’s Robin, fer chrissakes. You would think I would relish these movies, having grown up on Marvel (and Atlas before it). But the fun has been drained out, largely. By the way, almost all of the endless fight scenes are incoherent. When a CAPTAIN AMERICA movie’s biggest surprise is that Robert Redford is not the Red Skull, we have a problem here at the Merry Marvel Marching Society (yes, I was a charter member).
For wild action that is not incoherent, although it’s gory as hell (in a good way), catch THE RAID 2. Though it lacks the purity of the single-setting first film, RAID 2 has more fantastic action set pieces than you can shake a baseball bat at (and there will a baseball shaken). This is the rare Asian crime film that actually beats John Woo at his own game.
But the best movie I’ve seen this year – though it’s admittedly not to every taste – is THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. I run hot and cold on Wes Anderson. Hated MR. FOX, loved MOONRISE KINGDOM. Was annoyed by DARJEELING EXPRESS, was crazy about RUSHMORE. This new film is his best, combining all of his obsessions and quirks into one very funny, very moving film, with a mindboggling cast that is unlikely to be repeated, even in another Wes Anderson film. Anderson is a novelist on screen, but one who shares the vision inside his skull with the viewer.
Here’s a blast from the past: a review of THE HISTORY OF MYSTERY.