The Year Nate Was Born (Both Of Him)

April 13th, 2010 by Max Allan Collins

My old pal Alan Light (publishing guru who created THE COMICS BUYER’S GUIDE) has sent along some photos from 1982, the year that both Nathan Allan Collins (my son) and Nathan Heller (my literary offspring) were born. These are from a Consumer Electronics Show (at Chicago’s McCormick Place) attended by Alan, his friend Rick Best (who now is the honcho at WQPT PBS in the Quad Cities) and my frequent collaborator, Terry Beatty (looking astonishingly young in these photos).

Here is McCormick Place, with a jillion satellite dishes on its rooftop:

CES 1982

Here I am talking to two unidentified booth keepers about a DICK TRACY Crimestopper license for something having to do with auto security (I guess). I have no memory of this, beyond seeing Tracy’s image and stopping by to introduce myself as the guy who writes (wrote) DICK TRACY.

CES 1982

Here is a typically elaborate exhibit at the trade show, memorializing the now-defunct home video format that I dumped so much of my son’s potential inheritance into. I still own hundreds of laser discs, and watch two or three a year.

CES 1982

Left to right: Collins, Beatty, Best, lugging our bags of freebies from the show (outside McCormick Place).

CES 1982

Here is the real reason I am posting these: the late great Russ Meyer (the auteur behind VIXEN, BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS and so many wonderful wacky others) with yours truly.

CES 1982

Terry, me, Rick Best, taking a break from getting porn star autographs and free junk.

CES 1982

Does this really require a description? We yam what we yam.

CES 1982

A sign of the times. And it’s no different with the Internet, is it?

CES 1982

Left to right, Beatty, Collins and Alan Light (thanks for these, Alan!)

CES 1982

Driver's Ed MutinySpeaking of my son Nate, a while back he worked on an indie film in a number of capacities. That film, DRIVER’S ED MUTINY, is starting to hit the film festival circuit, and won Best Feature on Saturday at the Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival. It was written and directed by Nate’s pal Brad Hansen, and it’s a terrific little comedy/drama – a road trip movie with memorable characters and some very crafty low-budget filmmaking (you actually see many landmarks on the classic Route 66). Watch for it.

Watch also for the current issue of VIDEOSCOPE (Spring 2010 #74), which has a great review of THE LAST LULLABY plus a lengthy article by me on the history of the Quarry novel series and the film that grew out of it. Required reading.

Craig Clarke, an excellent reviewer who has long been a booster of mine, has reviewed YOU CAN’T STOP ME. He doesn’t love it but you should check out what he has to say, anyway.

On the other hand, Jon Jordan loves the book – here’s an advance look at his review from the next issue (#36) of CRIMESPREE:

YOU CAN’T STOP ME is not only the title of this but also a mantra I said to myself whenever something threatened to interrupt my reading, and I’m talking the need to eat, wanting more coffee, or even smoking. I did not move from my chair till I was done.

YOU CAN’T STOP ME opens with a bang, JC Harrow is a smalltown cop just doing his job, but just doing it in spectacular fashion as he saves the President during a visit to the state fair in his county. Arriving home that night his world is turned upside down when he discovers his family murdered.

We jump ahead in time and see Harrow working on a reality show that hunts criminals. A case in Florida catches his attention and it appears to be the same killer who took his family away from him. The killer very quickly makes it known that he wants to be in the spotlight, and Harrow just wants him stopped.

History has shown that Collins can write unforgettable stories and he is a great writer. This book proves he is also a master of lightening fast books that make most thrillers seem pedestrian by comparison. And even though I finished reading, it clung to my brain like glue and it was while before I could start another book. I look forward to more stories with JC Harrow.

Here is Jon, from the current issue (#35) of CRIMESPREE:

Barbara Allan

My reading tastes are all over the board. While I do tend to read more hard-boiled or cross over mysteries, there are a number of great cozy or traditional mystery writers I love. The books by Barbara Allan are among them. Barbara Allan is actually the husband/wife team of Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins, and just as they are great as a couple, they are also a superb writing duo.

Brandy Borne is once again caught up in the whirlwind her mother Vivian creates and this time it’s a charity auction to help flood victims. Vivian has convinced a local woman to donate a Faberge egg for the auction, the last one made.

Almost as soon as the egg is sold, the winner is found dead as was the woman who donated it. Brandy steps in to find out what’s going on, but she does this pregnant, as a surrogate for a friend. She also just found out who her biological father is and it’s all she can do to keep it together.

Great characters are what drive this series, and the research about the antiques really adds to the story. Its fun reading and the mystery is terrific. I’ll keep reading this series as long as Kensington keeps publishing them.

That’s all for this update. There are a couple of new trade paperbacks I’ll tell you about next week.


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4 Responses to “The Year Nate Was Born (Both Of Him)”

  1. Yeah, I have just over 200 laserdiscs myself, and I watch two or three a year.

    I’m also pretty certain that 1982 or 83 was about the time I read my first M.A.C. novel….

  2. mike doran says:

    “That Wonderful Year, we hope you’ll see
    The facts reappear like a memory…”

    It was 1982 when I got my first videocassette recorder, a Hitachi VHS that went for about $800 – roughly two-thirds of a month’s pay for me back then – but it had a timer (1 program) and a remote (cord-connected) and by God did I get a lot of use out of it! I still have some of the tapes I made back then, now barely playable (if at all) on my current machinery. In those days VHS tapes of movies weren’t priced to sell – generallly between $60 to $100 a pop. I do remember being in a mall video store and seeing the Pioneer demonstration disk, hosted by Patrick O’Neal, solemnly proclaiming that the LaserDisc was the Future of Television – and for a few years there it was.

    In the 28 years since then (Twenty-eight freakin’ years!), I guess I’ve owned perhaps a dozen or more VCRs, all used to to point of breakdown and beyond. It was only a couple of years ago that I finally gave in and got the least expensive DVD player that I could find – and when I learned just why it was the least expensive one I had to get another.

    Do you ever find yourself looking at those little silvery discs and thinking back to when, if you wanted to see a movie at home, you’d have to get a projector and several cans of film and clear space for a screen (if you didn’t have a blank wall that would make do) and hoped that you or somebody would know exactly how to thread the film into the projector, and pray to God that the film wouldn’t break? And now all you have to do is put the little silvery disc into a little machine and you can see the whole movie on your TV?
    (And wished that such gadgetry had existed when you were a kid, when it really would have done some good?)

    As it stands now I have a whole wallfull of tapes and DVDs that I most likely will only find time to watch if I lose my job or become housebound. Or I could endow a library…

    I’d best wrap this up before I really depress myself.

    So when are you coming back to Chicago, already?

  3. Chris, the thing about my extensive laser library is that very little of it is available on DVD much less blu-ray. They released tons of movies on that format, and I always was out there bottom-feeding and picking up obscurities for a song. They still look pretty good, too.

    Mike, when I got the TRACY strip in 1977, we got a chunk of money and my splurge was to buy a Sony TV/ VCR console — a 19 inch screen (great picture for the time) and a one-hour recorder. I stayed with Beta for many years, and I am the poster child for picking the wrong format. When I told friends I’d chosen HD DVD over Blu-Ray as my HD format, they rushed to buy blu-ray…within a couple of months, HD DVD was dead.

    But I do sometimes explain to my son what it was like not to have movies available on any format for home viewing, and always come off in “by crackey, son, it were like this hyar” sort of way. Mostly I long for days gone past. But I really, really like the technology that has made movie viewing at home such a wonderful, casual reality.

  4. Brian_Drake says:

    Great stuff, Max. In 1982 I was seven years old and lived in a cul-de-sac where all the fathers of my friends spent the summer unloading big TVs and video players from the wagons and hauling them into the house. Then they yelled at us kids to get out of the living room while they set up. Good times.

    I found some of the old Miller Lite commercials on YouTube; while I am you have seen them, I thought you might like a link. Mickey, of course, is great.