Way Down Yonder

May 19th, 2015 by Max Allan Collins

This will be a brief update, and something of a teaser for next week.

As I write this on Sunday evening, May 17, Barb and I are about to visit the set of the Cinemax production of QUARRY, tomorrow. We’ll be visiting the set again on Tuesday. I hope to have some photos, but HBO is pretty careful on that front, so we’ll see. But I will report next time.

Interest in the TV series is being stoked by the efforts of Hard Case Crime, who are bringing out new editions (late this year) of the first five QUARRY novels, versions that will now be definitive, correcting problems that have existed since the very first ‘80s printings. When the books had to be offered by the sales force before photographs from the show were available for cover art, I suggested to editor Charles Ardai that we approach the great Bob McGinnis to provide paintings. See those paintings, and read more, right here.

As many of you know, we have lost another great, and another star of Hard Case Crime’s wonderful retro look: Glen Orbik. I never met Glen, but we communicated about various ideas for what became his magnificent cover of SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT. Read about more about this awful loss here.

* * *

I am happy to report that I have completed the second book in the Caleb York saga, THE BIG SHOWDOWN, and was able to do revisions and corrections before leaving for New Orleans. I hate going on a trip, even a brief one, with only a chapter or two left to write on a novel. Really, I dislike traveling at all during the writing of a novel.

Barb and I arrived in New Orleans last night (Saturday), and have had a wonderful time here thus far, with the exception of a bizarre experience at a movie theater near the French Quarter. It’s a very upscale set-up with the dubious idea of serving meals and all sorts of cocktails and fancy this and that during the film. It’s a terrible notion even worse in execution – people are ordering food, and wait staff are taking orders in front of the screen, and instead of elegance, a kind of “everybody’s at home eating TV dinners” vibe is created, meaning even dumber, more intrusive reactions from the audience. It was very expensive, but we walked out anyway after about forty-five minutes, because the theater stank. Literally stank. A woman sitting next to me was eating pork sliders, even as she childishly reacted to every button the movie was pushing (“No!” “Oh no!”). The smell wafting off of her was only slightly worse than the ridiculously bad movie, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. I’d never seen the original movie, much less read the Thomas Hardy novel (I’m more an Andy Hardy man), but Barb had seen the Julie Christie version, on HBO, though had come in a few minutes late and didn’t know the title. When she realized this sub-Harlequin novel romance was what we were subjecting ourselves to (not to mention the hummus and chips that were being eaten next to her), she began sadistically reporting to me every five minutes what ludicrous plot twist was coming next (“He’s going to get left at the altar,” “The sheep are going to get sick”). Incidentally, for all of you who like hummus, please understand that hummus was only invented to make tofu seem reasonable.

Next: set report!


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3 Responses to “Way Down Yonder”

  1. Tom Zappe/St Louis says:

    I have gotten to the part of Caleb York where the man with no name comes into town all duded up and makes a big impression with some fancy gun-play. This portrayal makes me wonder if Mickey Spillane ever met Bill Jordan. Bill Jordan did in real life pretty much every thing that John Wayne did in his Western Movies. He fought in both World Wars and spent 30 years in the U.S.Border Patrol. He did much of this on horseback and was reputed to have survived more bona fide gunfights than any man ever alive. These kinds of things happened when riding the river.

    He was also incredibly good and fast with a gun. A friend of mine went on a hunting trip with Bill and was treated to his exhibition of impossible to see fast draw while shooting aspirins off a fence post. He would also shoot Necco wafers from between people’s fingers. He would end up his presentation with two unloaded revolvers, one in his holster and the other cocked and ready to go in the hand of someone from the party. He would instruct them to pull the trigger when they saw him go for his gun. He would then proceed to pull his unloaded gun out of his holster and swat the other guy in the fanny before he could pull the trigger. This was his way of demonstrating that action will always beat reaction.

    I met him in the middle 1980s’ at the “Bianchi Cup”shooting match outside Columbia, MO. It was like shaking hands with a sequoia. I told him how I appreciated the tribute he wrote for his recently deceased friend Skeeter Skelton and that it made me think of how I felt about my recently departed father. He said he was just writing from his heart.

    He was unfailingly warm and generous with his time. Pregnant women were known to name their children after him after just one meeting. He was also a terrific story teller. You can check out his book No Second Place Winner.

    And yes, when you are dealing with shootists of this caliber [no pun intended] you will hear only one shot when two are fired.

  2. Max Allan Collins says:

    Fun story. Giants once walked the planet.

    I think Mickey’s conception of Caleb York was probably close to the Paladin idea that claimed to have thought up. It should be noted that a bunch of people claimed that, and Mickey was not one of those who tried to prove it in court — just not his style.

  3. Tom Zappe/St Louis says:

    I finally finished Caleb York. It felt like I was 8 years old again watching the Westerns on Saturday morning TV. And yes, the Dinner Movie experience is dreadful.