Posts Tagged ‘The Last Lullaby’

Collins Hits The Third Rail

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Ron Fortier has posted a wonderful write-up on YOU CAN’T STOP ME.

Craig Clarke has posted a terrific review of THE LITTLE DEATH at his Somebody Dies review site.

And a great, dare I say insightful review of THE LAST LULLABY just popped up.

Plus, there’s a very nice review of QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE.

My pal Ed Gorman limits himself on talking politics on his blog because, well, politics causes problems. It can alienate people, and that includes readers/fans, so it’s dangerous ground. Ed sends out political stuff to an e-mailing list, material that is always interesting and illuminating.

I am going to dip a toe into this subject, lightly. Some of you know that I’m a Democrat or a liberal or a progressive or something. I think of myself as slightly left of center, but my father thought of himself as slightly right of center, when he was slightly right of Genghis Khan. So who knows? I do know that I veer left when the right is getting out of hand, which they frequently do. I despise Fox News, because it isn’t news, it’s opinion labeled news, and you can always tell when you’re “talking” (i.e, arguing) politics with somebody whose news and info comes from Fox, because it’s always the same bite-size talking points.

But I come to praise Republicans, not to bury them. Republicans stand by their man. They wouldn’t have cared if George Bush bombed Cleveland – he’d have had a damned good reason. Democrats, however, eat their young. They could hardly wait for Obama to get sworn in before ragging on him. The far left is pitiful in the way they assume the President can wave a wand and make all their dreams come true. Full disclosure: I worked for Obama, Nate was a staffer on the Iowa campaign, and Barb, Nate and I all worked hard for him. None of us is thrilled with the past year, but I think it’s clear Obama has accomplished quite a bit, considering the Washington cess pool he has to swim in. I back the guy. I don’t always agree with him, but I keep it to myself, mostly. Possibly I’m keeping my head in the sand. Maybe, after two years of MSNBC and Keith Olbermann “Special Comments,” I just can’t take the stress anymore (I stopped watching that stuff regularly in January).

But if Democrats don’t show a little support for their guy – if they insist on forming a circular firing squad around their leader – we can look forward to President Palin or Brown or God knows what. The only faint hope for the Democrats right now is the Tea Bag bunch (can’t hear that designation without thinking of John Waters), who are forcing the Republicans so far right that even Fox should be getting nervous. Kind of sad when our best hope is a bunch of buffoons who want to prove Obama wasn’t born in America. But keep plugging, kids.

This update appears on Feb. 2 – Groundhog Day. May I suggest to one and all spending the evening with Harold Ramis’ great film, GROUNDHOG DAY – probably my favorite film of the ‘90s, Bill Murray’s finest achievement, and a genuine masterpiece.


Crusin’ Update

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Crusin' at Warehouse Four
Crusin’ at Warehouse Four, 1970’s
L to R: Ric Steed, M.A.C., Bruce Peters, Paul Thomas

This will be a brief update, because this week Nate and I have put our time into getting a long overdue revised update on my band Crusin’. Anyone interested in me and my work should find this of interest — lots of photos and a detailed history of the group’s 35 year history (41 year history, counting the Daybreakers, the band Crusin’ evolved into).

A very interesting write-up on Johnny Craig’s early EC crime work touches upon my introductions to the collected EC CRIME SUSPENSTORIES and even discusses ROAD TO PERDITION in that context. Any article that extols Ralph Meeker’s Mike Hammer is jake by me.

And my old pal Christopher Mills has posted a great LAST LULLABY review at his DVD Late Show site.

Chris has also re-posted a terrific ELIOT NESS: AN UNTOUCHABLE LIFE review from a while back.

Brian Drake, who is a lively writer with great taste (i.e., he likes my stuff), wonders if I’m one person or not. I get this all the time — “When do you sleep?” and so on.

I have said any number of times that I am very lazy by nature, but that no one sends money to my house if I don’t work. Being called prolific gets you credit for hard work but is the most left-handed of writing compliments. Some years (like 2009) I have very little out — the only original novel was QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE. This year is heavier, with ANTIQUES BIZARRE, YOU CAN’T STOP ME and THE BIG BANG just around the corner. But do note that in the case of those three projects that I am working with talented collaborators (Barbara Collins, Matthew Clemens, and, well, Mickey Spillane) and I am not carrying the entire workload.

Speaking of collaborators, never forget Terry Beatty — and also hitting the net this week is a very nice overview of our MS. TREE feature.

A blog called UNSQUARE DANCE gives a nice write-up to the Hard Case Crime joint reprint of BAIT MONEY and BLOOD MONEY (as TWO FOR THE MONEY).

See you next Tuesday.


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 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.