I was surprised and delighted to see Mike Carlson, one of the UK’s best and most respected crime fiction reviewers, give TARGET LANCER a rave. Carlson was apparently sparked by the mass-market paperback edition. He seems to share my interest in, and take on, the JFK assassination. I’ve got to get ASK NOT into his hands.
I recommend the film THE MONUMENT MEN and urge you to ignore the mostly negative reviews it’s been getting. It’s a determinedly old-fashioned movie from its star cast (essentially playing themselves or at least their movie personas), a rousing and intentionally Old School score, a compelling episodic structure cutting between story threads, and a respect for history that makes it a DIRTY DOZEN for people who respect art. There’s not a lot of slam-bang action, but the extent of the evil of the Hitler regime comes across effectively in a unique fashion. No, it’s not INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. And 12 YEARS A SLAVE isn’t DJANGO UNCHAINED, either.
This will be an extremely short update because (A) I seem to be coming down with a cold, and (B) I am prepping to start the Spillane western novel.
So I’m turning the rest of this post over to son Nate, who with his wife Abby recently went to Japan. I’ve asked him to share some photos of that trip.
Hi everyone. Nate here. Let’s get right to the pictures!
Our first day, we went to the Comic Market (aka Comiket) in Tokyo, which is sort of like Japan’s San Diego Comic-Con, only even more massive (around 540,000 attendees over three days to Comic-Con’s 130,000 over four days), and with a heavy focus on self-publishing groups (some 35,000 of them divided across the three days—each day has an entirely different lineup) in endless rows of small folding tables and minimal displays (only the industry publishers can swing enough space for booths here, and only in a separate hall with a separate entry line). Sadly, I did not take any pictures of the inside, as there was no room to do so.
Our AirBNB hosts shared us this video of the Comiket line management. San Diego Comic-Con organizers should take note!
The first few days of the new year are the most important holiday in Japan, and one of the many New Year’s traditions is to visit a shrine or a temple. Due to the increased number of visitors, carnival-esque booths selling food and toys often spring up around the holy sites, and if you’re lucky, you might come across performances by traditional entertainers. Above is a ladder acrobatics demonstration stemming from firefighting techniques of the 19th-Century Edo period, when a portable ladder could often provide the fastest vantage point to find the source of a fire. The poles barely visible at the base of the photo are axes held by the other members of the troupe, who balance the ladder for the climber as they await their turn to show off. Would you like to know more?
This is a statue in Kyoto’s Yasaka Koshin-do Temple of Binzuru-Sonja, one of Buddha’s disciples popular in Japan. He is said to help those who touch or rub his statue on the part of the body where they are suffering an affliction.
“Unryuzu” by Kaiho Yusho, Kennin-ji Temple, Kyoto. 16th Century. (Reproduction)
Kamo River, Kyoto.
On one of our favorite days, our friend (and two of her helpers!) dressed us in these lovely traditional Japanese wedding kimono. Truly an honor!