Posts Tagged ‘Kiss Her Goodbye’

Bogus Best Of’s…And Exceptions

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

I despise year’s best lists. They are completely arbitrary and invalid, as the critics cannot have read everything out there. There are exceptions to this rule, however — those exceptions are the lists that include work by me.

Quarry in the Middle Bookgasm honcho Rod Lott, who chose THE FIRST QUARRY as last year’s best novel (regardless of genre) has honored QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE as one of his top ten for 2009.

By the way, a couple of weeks ago, Bruce Grossman at Bookgasm did a nifty retrospective review of my 1984 Mallory novel, KILL YOUR DARLINGS. He calls it the second in the series, but it’s the third (THE BABY BLUE RIP-OFF and NO CURE FOR DEATH precede it, though those two were written in reverse order).

Jeff Pierce at January Magazine has an extended list of Best Crime and Mystery novels of 2009, and QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE made the cut.

The Wildsound site has a top ten comic-book films of the decade, and ROAD TO PERDITION is the top choice.

My band Crusin’ played New Year’s Eve at the West Liberty (Iowa) Country Club, and (following a couple of under-attended gigs) we had the pleasure of a packed house and a very appreciative crowd. Actually, we killed. I had almost forgotten the sheer joy of that kind of response, which was made sweeter by the crowd including a number of people I went to school with. We played four hours with minimal breaks, and my bandmates — Chuck Bunn, Steve Kundel and Jim Van Winkle — were in top form. I admit it took me two days to recover from the event, and I look back on when we would play four or even five nights consecutively (sometimes five-hour gigs) and am amazed at what I used to be physically capable of. On the other hand, not many people have been out there playing rock ‘n’ roll in essentially the same band since 1966. By the way, we still have available a handful of the DAYBREAKERS aka CRUSIN’ — THE HALL OF FAME COLLECTION CD’s signed by all five of the original members. [See at the bottom of this post — Nate]

We also have available, in better quantity but also limited, the new SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT live CD. (SEDUCTION is the “all-star comic-book band” that plays occasionally, usually at comic book conventions, and features Bill Mumy, Miguel Ferrer, John “Chris” Christensen, Steve Leialoha, and me.) The notorious cut “Pussy Whipped” from our ‘90s CD, GOLDEN AGE, became a hit at a very popular Iowa radio station in the ‘90s because of my participation (and because it’s a very funny and outrageous tune). It became a kind of shirt-tail hit for Crusin’, because the popularity was such that we had to begin performing it live. We even performed it live on that radio station (KFMH) several times for legendary DJ Steve Bridges (so popular in his prime that he appeared on THE TOMORROW SHOW with Tom Snyder). You can hear a live version of this rude tune on the new SEDUCTION live CD, but I mention this because we have begun to play it at Crusin’ gigs again. Though we are primarily an oldies band, we do pepper in originals from the band’s long (if sporadic) recording history. In SEDUCTION, Miguel Ferrer sings this sad tale of a man who informs us, “I love my wife — she tells me so,” but I take on those duties for the Crusin’ performances. So far nobody has complained about the song’s lyrical content (shall we say), but a lot of people have stared in grinning amazement. When we played at the Brew (in Muscatine), whose audience is younger than our usual demographic, a guy in his late twenties or early thirties came running up after and said, “I remember hearing that on the radio as a kid! I love that song!”

I had a very interesting and fun e-mail exchange with Peter Biegen, the talented co-writer of THE LAST LULLABY. One of the most interesting things is that we’d never had contact before, and we compared notes as to our respective experiences and discovered things about each other’s contributions that we hadn’t known. I was unaware that Peter had written not one but two drafts after my two, for example, and he wasn’t aware of the extent of my notes and conversations with director Jeffrey Goodman at the start of production, which mostly resulted in some significant cuts. As we exchanged our thoughts about the film, it became obvious that we would have collaborated well together, which is one of the unfortunate things about screenwriting — often writers brought in to do another draft are segregated from the original writer (for lots of reasons, but in my opinion few of them valid). It became clear that LULLABY (a film we are both proud of, and like very much) would have been even better had we put our heads together (independently, we both had the same idea for the final violent confrontation — only to have that identical idea passed on by the director). Sometimes Peter’s contributions have been given short shrift because LULLABY is based on my short story and the Quarry character, and I wrote the original two drafts (which became the novel THE LAST QUARRY); plus ROAD TO PERDITION is a marketable thing to emphasize. Let me go on record here to say that he did a terrific job on our co-written screenplay, and in particular made the romance at the heart of the beast more effective.

I continue to work on the third Mike Hammer novel, KISS HER GOODBYE, which is very much its own book, like neither GOLIATH BONE nor the upcoming BIG BANG. This is the lost Mike Hammer ‘70s novel and represents the ten year period where Mickey published no Hammer novels, so it’s an interesting voice and snapshot of the ultimate private eye at a different age and in a different context.

Happy Twenty Ten to all of you. A lot of exciting projects are in the pipeline, and I’ll report to you here every Tuesday morning.


Seduction of the Innocent: Live @ Comic-Con 1999

Daybreakers Hall of Fame Collection

[2013 EDIT: All options temporarily sold out! We’ll recheck our remaining stock and make a new post soon!]

SCTV The Final Chapter

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

This will be an abbreviated update, mostly more pictures (see below) from our now legendary SCTV Reunion weekend at Second City earlier this month.

I am told the new Nathan Heller, BYE BYE, BABY, will not be out from TOR/Forge until the first half of 2011. That means it really will be ten years between Heller novels. If Heller’s new publisher is willing, I will make sure this doesn’t happen again. I am pushing for the Winter list, which means the book would be out in a little over a year.

I am working hard on KISS HER GOODBYE, the third of the Mike Hammer novels developed from unfinished Mickey Spillane manuscripts. In fact, I wrote on Christmas Eve Day and Christmas itself. Probably no writing on New Year’s Eve, because I have a Crusin’ gig at the West Liberty Country Club.

In the Not Exactly News dept., I am in early stages exploring getting the first four Quarry novels (from the ’70s) back in print in new uniform trade paperback editions. There may be limited hardcovers or a slipcased signed version, too. More when I have more….

Farewell to the oughts, and welcome 2010!


SCTV Reunion
Shaking hands with the very gracious comedy legend, Eugene Levy (“As a comic, in all seriousness…”)

SCTV Reunion
Apologizing to Dave Thomas for making a fool of myself at our first meeting at a San Diego Comic Con, and to Martin Short for accosting him outside the Second City restroom. Comic geniouses.

SCTV Reunion
With Harold Ramis, who I pestered all weekend. He’s a special hero to me for his SCTV work and the classic film GROUNDHOG DAY.

SCTV Reunion
With the wonderful Catherine O’Hara.

SCTV Reunion
Letting Catherine O’Hara know she was great on CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM.

SCTV Reunion
With Colin Mochrie, self-professed PERDITION fan and hands down nicest celebrity at the Second City event.

SCTV Reunion
Barb with David Koechner, star of the very funny WAITING (and much more). Sweet, gracious guy. Why did he prefer posing with her to me?

SCTV Reunion
With the incredible Fred Willard. (Me: “You’re a madman.” Fred: “There’s a lot to be mad about!”)

SCTV Reunion
With Tim Kazurinsky (right) of SNL fame (appearing on THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER VOL.2: THE LITTLE DEATH), and his nephew, screenwriter Josh Shull (center).

SCTV For Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

SCTV ReunionJoe Flaherty as Guy Caballero, moments before rising from his wheelchair to acknowledge his standing ovation.

Let’s start off by wishing you and your family happy holidays. We are expecting Nate home for Christmas, with our cheerfully insane “granddog” Toaster, a Blue Australian Heeler named for the robots on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. And Crusin’ has a gig on New Year’s Eve at the West Liberty, Iowa, country club, where a lot of my old high school friends are members. Really looking forward to that. We have snow here and things are looking suitably scenic. Last night, Barb and I watched two Perry Mason shows from the latest DVD boxed set (one an Erle Stanley Gardner based show, “The Case of the Duplicate Daughter,” and those are the really good ones) and had cups of cocoa courtesy of Jane Spillane. Watching Perry Mason with cocoa and marshmallows provided by Mike Hammer’s creator’s widow reveals that even my dullest evenings are surrealistic.

I was pleased to see a really nice, insightful ROAD TO PARADISE review pop up from Brian Drake — a little after the fact, but with RETURN TO PERDITION under way, good to see.

Ed Gorman asked me to do a new interview for his site; I did one not long ago, but took him up on it anyway. I had to respond to some of the comments on the piece. My son gets uncomfortable when I do that, but I feel comments are different from reviews (writers really shouldn’t respond to reviews, and I’ve only broken that rule a handful of times).

I also commented on comments at a Cinema Styles, where a wonderful, smart review of THE LAST LULLABY appeared. But a couple of the comments were beyond the pale, and I just couldn’t let them ride.

I am working on the third Mike Hammer Spillane/Collins collaborative novel, KISS HER GOODBYE. Really just getting started, but it’s an interesting challenge. Mickey had taken two runs at this story, with very different plot elements; so I have around 100 pages of one version, 50 or so of another version, plus notes on both. Weaving these together will be a fun challenge. Elements of this story became BLACK ALLEY, the last Hammer published during Mickey’s lifetime; but about all that is left are a few names, the notion of Mike Hammer coming back to the city after recovering from gun shot wounds (a common start to Mickey’s later Hammer stories, both published and unfinished), and the notion of the mob moving into the era of computers.

Barb and I spent much of the week shellshocked from the incredible double-feature experience of the SCTV reunion at Second City in Chicago (see the photos courtesy of a wonderful audience member from Vancouver, who will remain anonymous, as these were largely sneaked during the performance). It’s hard for me to express how much this experience meant to us, but we’ll probably share our own photos next week, some of which reveal me in a state of crazed bliss. We are talking about an evening that began with Guy Caballero (Joe Flaherty) recognizing his standing ovation by bolting up out of his wheelchair and grinning goofily.

The other half of the double-feature was the day we spent (Monday December 14) with Chicago sportscaster Mike North, his lovely wife Bebe, and producer Carl Amari. It was a long, incredible day. Whether it will lead to the movie project we are all hoping for remains to be seen, but I found North — a working class guy made very good — an unaffected, affable, hilarious, gifted man. He invited me onto his Comcast sports show, “Monsters in the Morning,” and we talked PERDITION and movies with his co-host Dan Jiggets (also a great guy). I think Mike and Dan (and Carl, on the sidelines) were surprised by how at ease I am on camera, plus what a wise-ass I am willing to be in public. We followed Mike on a tour of his Rogers Park roots (which included lots of bars being pointed out) and spent some time at Norte Dame high school, where he coaches basketball for no pay and big personal rewards. I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Carl gave me a box of the finished CDs of THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER VOL. 2: THE LITTLE DEATH. We listened to one on the way home to Muscatine — we had only heard a rough mix before. If you haven’t ordered this yet, you are at the wrong website. I am very, very proud of this, and will be sending some review copies out soon, so I hope that before long some web attention will be shared with you here.

Again, happy holidays. Hug your family. Give gifts. And most important, watch the original MIRACLE ON 34th STREET and Alistair Sim’s CHRISTMAS CAROL…otherwise it isn’t an official Christmas.


SCTV Reunion
Barb Collins, right, and audience member Jen Ritchies, left, before the SCTV reunion show.

SCTV Reunion
Harold Ramis as Moe Green, Eugene Levy as Bobby Bittman and Flaherty as Sammy Maudlin.

SCTV Reunion
Ramis, Levy, Catherine O’Hara as Lola Heatherton, Flaherty on “The Sammy Maudlin Show”

SCTV Reunion
Andrea Martin and Dave Thomas as Edna and (the late) Tex Boyle (“Those little piggies are greasy”).

SCTV Reunion
Thomas and Martin Short in a classic Second City sketch.

SCTV Reunion
O’Hara and Martin (Pirini Scleroso). A rare Second City sketch that became an SCTV classic.

SCTV Reunion
Barb, Al and audience member Lisa Lecuyer.

SCTV Reunion
Cast (and their producer, unidentified) take a bow.