Posts Tagged ‘Quarry’s Ex’

Eliot Ness, Pat Chambers, R.I.P.

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Someone on my Facebook page suggested that at my age I shouldn’t be surprised by the passings of friends. But I have lost two of my best friends, both artistic collaborators, in under a week. It feels like the Apocalypse, one drop at a time. We joined Chuck Bunn’s family and friends Sunday afternoon for a celebration of his life…a lovely event, really, but for me it was in the shadow of a second death, the day before.

Michael Cornelison was my friend. No question. But beyond that, he played such a key role in my adventures in indie filmmaking that it’s hard to imagine ever making another film without him. He co-starred with Patty McCormack in both “Mommy” films (playing two different parts, disappearing into each so completely that few viewers noticed he was in both films…in lead roles!). He was the cop lead in “Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market.” He starred in three award-winning short films of mine, and he narrated both “Caveman: V.T. Hamlin and Alley Oop” and “Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane.” His last stage appearance, earlier this year, co-starring with his talented son Nick, was in a five-minute play I wrote for a Des Moines competition (we were the judges’ pick the first of two nights). He played Captain Pat Chambers to Stacy Keach’s Mike Hammer in the Audie-winning “The Little Death” and in this year’s “Encore for Murder.” And of course he was the star of the one-man show “Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life,” which Phil Dingeldein and I preserved as an HD film.

That merely speaks to my collaborations with Mike. In the ‘70s and ‘80s he was in Hollywood, where he starred in three pilots, was a guest star on many major shows (including but not limited to HILL STREET BLUES, WHITE SHADOW, BJ AND THE BEAR, DALLAS, REMINGTON STEELE, KNOTS LANDING, HUNTER and, in a recurring role, THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO), and appeared in numerous films, notably MY FATHER’S HOUSE with Cliff Robertson, WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM with Bill Murray and LOST IN AMERICA with Albert Brooks. In high school he landed a role in Norman Lear’s COLD TURKEY with Dick Van Dyke, and in his later years was a staple of indie film in Iowa (a nice role in THE FINAL SEASON, for instance) and was damn near the bedrock of Des Moines theater. He essentially discovered writer/director Frank Darabont when they collaborated on the short Stephen King film WOMAN IN THE ROOM, which went to home video as part of the NIGHTSHIFT collection and sparked Darabont’s filmmaking career. Additionally, Mike was one of the movers and shakers (writing, acting, directing) behind the legendary old-fashioned radio drama show out of Des Moines, REJECTION SLIP THEATER, which ran for ten years on WHO and was covered on NBC’s TODAY SHOW.

Mike left a body of work as a working actor that would be impressive even if he hadn’t mostly operated out of his home state. I met him in the mid-‘70s when he was acting opposite my sister-in-law Kathe Mull at Charlie’s Showplace in Des Moines. I had used Charlie’s as a pattern for a theater in QUARRY’S DEAL, and Mike had read that, got a kick out of it, apparently dug my writing, and we became friends. Shortly after that he was off to California for almost a decade. When he returned, he began nudging me toward indie filmmaking. We developed several potential indie films (check out my story “Firecracker Kill” for one of them), way way way ahead of the curve. Finally “Mommy” turned our dreams into reality. He was my right arm as well as my lead actor on all my productions. He was child actress Rachel Lemieux’s dialogue coach, for example, on “Mommy.” But most of all, as Patty McCormack said: “He is such a wonderful actor.”

This does not touch on the many visits and phone calls where we talked not just shop but our abiding love in pop culture. He was a jazz guy and I rock ‘n’ roll, but we coincided everywhere else. We would talk James Bond and MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. We would talk Tarzan and WILD, WILD WEST. We would talk about obscure TV shows of our youth like T.H.E. CAT and JOHNNY STACCATO. He would tell me about his actor friends, mentor Robert Lansing and roommate Peter Weller. I would rhapsodize about Mickey Spillane and he would share his love for Doc Savage.

He lived the life he wanted to live. He had a substance abuse flirtation in Hollywood but threw it off like a coat gone out of fashion (that may be in part why he moved back to Iowa – we never spoke directly of it). He was a “gentleman drinker” (as he put it) until he was told quit or die – he quit, but he continued smoking and his eating habits would have killed me long, long ago. He was at once selfish child and generous grown-up (perhaps that was why we bonded so), and a caring, sweet friend who (again, perhaps why we bonded) operated off of an engine of enthusiasm.

In his prime, he was a leading man (“Mommy” caught that) who should have been very famous and successful. I often told him he was the kind of leading man I most admire – the really good-looking guy who has a twinkle of humor and a wellspring of intelligence, masculine but not macho. Think James Garner or Paul Gross. With a break or two, he could have been so much more than he was, and yet what he accomplished is almost mind-boggling…and mostly from Iowa.

He called me the night he summoned an ambulance. The liver problem that he’d been told meant he’d die in ten years – eighteen years ago – had finally caught up with him. While he waited for the ambulance, he thanked me for my friendship and support and told me he loved me. I told him I loved him, too. We talked for about forty-five minutes.

Then the ambulance came.

UPDATE

This weekend Barb and I attended the GLIBA event in Dearborn, Michigan – Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. I spoke at the Saturday night banquet (as did Christopher Moore and Luis Alberto Urrea, both great guys). I only had fifteen minutes, so I took a risk and just opened it up for questions – with Barb as a shill in the audience to pick up the slack if the audience members were shy. I think it went well. I was there to talk about BYE BYE, BABY and the upcoming TARGET LANCER. Some good if sometimes tense conversations with indie booksellers flowed out of their concerns (and frankly resentment and hostilities) over e-books in general and Amazon in particular, and of course I’m being reprinted by AmazonEncore, so some view me as sleeping with the enemy. But the conversations were constructive, and a step in the right direction.

We also had a lovely luncheon with my pal Brad Schwartz and his great parents. Brad is a senior in college now and working on a very exciting Orson Welles project – the “Ness kid” has come a long way! Speaking of which, just hours after our luncheon, Brad was the first fan I heard from about the death of Mike Cornelison – he and his parents had driven from Ann Arbor to Des Moines to see the play, “Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life.” Brad is a Ness buff and considers Mike’s Ness the best of all. So do I.

Here’s what the Des Moines Register had to say about Mike.

QUARRY’S EX got some major love on the net this week. This particular review has been picked up all over the place.

And here’s a Playlist double-feature review of both QUARRY’S EX and THE CONSUMMATA.

Here’s another fun CONSUMMATA review.

Both QUARRY’S EX and THE CONSUMMATA are reviewed here, the former a rave, the latter less so but not a pan by any means.

Finally, Tom Piccirilli’s blog has some nice things to say about CHICAGO LIGHTNING.

M.A.C.

A Crusin’ R.I.P. / Consummata Net Work

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Chuck Bunn

Before I start this update, I need to say a word about my friend Chuck Bunn. Chuck was part of the original Daybreakers line-up, back in ‘66, our bass player and high-harmony guy, and he left the band summer of ‘67, shortly before we went to Nashville to record “Psychedelic Siren” – he was off to college out of state, and after that to the U.S. Army. In later years he joined us in Crusin’ – first in the ‘80s, again in the ‘90s, and for the last three years he’s been part of the current line-up.

Chuck returned to the band after the reunion of the original Daybreakers for the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction concert in 2008. He informed me that he was battling cancer, but that he had it under control. And frankly he was the same feisty, energetic, stubborn, indispensable guy, and showed no signs of infirmity. I’d been playing keyboard bass, and our rhythm guitarist/co-lead singer Andy Landers was about to leave the band, so I thought Chuck would make a good addition. Playing bass with the band gave him something to do, even to live for (he retired early upon getting his medical news), only he wasn’t just a good addition, he was a great one. The kind of band member who steps up and keeps equipment in repair and builds gizmos and drives the van and generally keeps things going, like my late buddy Paul Thomas used to do.

But about three months ago, Chuck’s battle turned a nasty corner, and he began to fail. His last two gigs were tough – he sat down through most of them, the farthest thing from his style. His last gig was the recent, very well-received Bouchercon dance at St. Louis. He passed away Sunday morning. He had been a soldier, a teacher, a contractor, a plant worker, a husband, a father, certainly a friend, and all those things are important. More important than rock ‘n’ roll. But Chuck might well say there isn’t anything more important than rock ‘n’ roll. And it never did any good arguing with him, so we’ll leave it at that.

The Consummata and More

There’s a great display of Hard Case Crime covers with commentary by Charles Ardai himself on the Huffington Post. Amazingly, one day last week (I believe Friday) the CONSUMMATA cover was on the front page of the Post! Either they don’t know Mickey’s politics…or they do know mine.

I have done a dizzying number of interviews in support of THE CONSUMMATA and QUARRY’S EX. Sometimes these are phoners, other times I answer an e-mail list of questions, and in one case below, it’s a podcast of the actual interview. I have endeavored to vary my responses, but some repetition is gonna turn up. Trust me.

Here’s one at Popdose.

And one at Daily Blam.

Daily Rotation did one, too.

So did Fandomania.

As did Shockya.

Nerd Caliber, too.

Here’s a podcast from Film School Rejects.

Boing Boing asked me to write about other authors I read – this one was picked up in part and in whole a bunch of places, probably because of my frankness. This is worth checking out.

Here’s a nice follow-up to the Boing Boing piece by writer Max Gladstone.

There was also a lot of general CONSUMMATA coverage, like this blog post from my pal Ed Gorman.

And there were almost as many reviews – all favorable – of THE CONSUMMATA as interviews with me. Like this one at Guilty Conscience.

And this one at Mostly Fiction.

Fandomania weighted in with its own review.

The terrific pulp serenade posted a CONSUMMATA review, too.

Just to mix things up, here’s a nice review of BYE BYE, BABY by a high school student (darn good writer).

Finally, check out this posting on the Birth of Hard Case Crime from the wonderfully titled site, Boiled Hard.

M.A.C.

Nate Heller’s 20th Century

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

In the new MYSTERY SCENE – Number 121, with a pic of my Crusin’ Bouchercon bandmate Val McDermid on the cover – you will find a wonderful overview of the Heller saga by the great mystery critic, Jon L. Breen: “Nate Heller’s 20th Century.” It’s beautifully designed by editor Kate Stine herself, and the issue also features a rave review of BYE BYE, BABY from Thrilling Detective’s Kevin Burton Smith. Don’t miss it.

Craig Clarke has also written about the revival of Heller (courtesy of the new AmazonEncore editions) at his Somebody Dies web site, always worth a visit.

With THE CONSUMMATA about to come out, I’ve been asked to guest blog and do various things and stuff around the net. One of those things was to compile a list of my favorite pulp fiction for Flavorwire (oddly, they call this my list of favorite detective novels). Cool list, if I do say so, with mostly great book covers to illo.

We’ve also had some dynamite reviews of QUARRY’S EX, one at Pulp Serenade and another at Book Reporter. Check ‘em out.

Finally, here are some pics you may enjoy from the recent Bouchercon.

With Jeff Pierce of the great mystery site, the Rap Sheet

With Barb (at right) and our “Barbara Allan” editor from Kensington, Michaela Hamilton

Typical smart-ass moment on a panel.

Matt Clemens (center) speaking on the collaboration panel.

Me giving Gary Phillips some much need shit (Duane S. looks on).

Behind the mic and at the keyboards at the B’con dance

Barb, lovely in the audience

The legendary John Lutz and me

The “Barbara Allan” chorus line

“Barbara Allan”

Private Eye Writers of America Presidents (l to r): Bob Randisi, Jerry Healy, Sara Paretsky, M.A.C., S.J. Rozan, Dick Lochte, Parnell Hall and John Lutz.

True Detective Hits #1

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
True Detective

Last week, Amazon released the trade paperback (and e-book) edition of TRUE DETECTIVE. At the same time, they chose the book as the Kindle Pick of the Day, priced it at 99-cents for 24 hours, and it was at #1 – out of 900,000-some books – by mid-afternoon. The next day the price was back up to around eight bucks, and still it stayed high on the charts. To take advantage of this new Nate Heller interest, Amazon dropped it to $1.99, where it’s still priced as I write this, and the book remains after five days in the upper reaches of the Kindle charts.

Cross your fingers that this is a new start for Nate Heller. The sale day TRUE DETECTIVE sold 13,000 e-book copies. Keep in mind that the first printing of the book back in 1983 was only 12,000. (The original edition went into a second printing, but we probably sold almost as many e-books in one day as the initial publication did in its two printings.)

If you invested in one, thanks. If you haven’t, what’s stopping you? A big week for Nate Heller and I’m very pleased.

Also a big week for Hard Case Crime. THE CONSUMMATA has received some terrific advance reviews, like this one.

And QUARRY’S EX, which is in bookstores now (I saw it myself in a Barnes & Noble) has been racking up sweet notices, like this one from Craig Clarke.

And here’s more love for QUARRY’S EX from a military web site, getting off on the hitman’s Marine Corps ties.

Here’s one more great QUARRY’S EX notice.

In addition, Charles Ardai has announced Hard Case’s acquisition of the final unpublished James M. Cain novel, THE COCKTAIL WAITRESS. A long while back, I convinced Otto Penzler to publish two of the three unpublished James M. Cain novels remaining in the great author’s files, and he did (CLOUD 9 and THE ENCHANTED ISLAND, at Mysterious Press). Then when Charles looked me up (to reprint the first two Nolan books) in the earliest stages of trying to get Hard Case launched, I told him about the THE COCKTAIL WAITRESS. He tracked it down, but couldn’t convince the Cain estate to let him publish it. I kept after him, cheerleading for one of my favorite authors, and Charles kept in the game, stayed doggedly after the prize. Finally he has pulled it off, and last week the news was all over the internet and elsewhere, too many places for me to provide here. But check out a couple of important ones, like this one at the Huffington Post.

And this one at the New York Times (Charles always gives me credit – thanks, Charles!)

And Ed Gorman was nice enough to write about my upcoming Heller collection, CHICAGO LIGHTNING, commenting on the success of TRUE DETECTIVE on Kindle.

A few days later, Ed reported on a meeting we had in the parking lot at Half-Price Books in Cedar Rapids, where I told him how much I hated the movie DRIVE. He discusses this, then in the comments section I provide an acid little review…read all the way down, though, to get a correction I made.

Finally, here’s a really cool theater-centric review of Barbara Allan’s ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF from a guy. I wrote him with my thanks and it turns out he’s a big M.A.C. fan from way back. I knew you guys are out there – I can hear you breathing!

M.A.C.