Hope Never Dies

I am still here.

I honestly don’t know when I’ll feel like writing again about the antics of cats, garden insurrections, the droll wisecracks of my Engineer sweetheart or gym idiocy. The dumpster fire (yesterday I saw the term “diaper fire”) of our current rolling crisis has eaten my brain alive, what is left after adjusting for stubborn post-injury pain that I don’t even want to talk much about. I spend way too much time on Twitter, hoping to make an early catch of good news when it does happen. Concentration is hard.

But every once in a while something comes along:

I used to faithfully read a series by Elliott Roosevelt, yes, that Roosevelt family, featuring his mother Eleanor as the Miss Marple-like sleuth in a series of pulpy murder mysteries. They weren’t terribly good, but they weren’t terribly bad either, and featured striking cameos like a house party involving Humphrey Bogart, or an open air fish fry where poor Southern African-Americans dynamited or telephoned the fish (I forget which) and entertained the First Lady to dinner. They were just cute, friendly books, the kind that telegraph that nobody really got hurt, this is just made up, we’re playing let’s pretend.

Hope Never Dies is a lot more noir. But funny noir, even with its glum reminders of why our heroes Barry and Joe are private citizens now, free (except for a disapproving Secret Service detail) to be pursuing a string of clues in a suspicious death. The cliches are all there and they’re delicious: the surprise midnight appearance at Joe Biden’s home, the mysterious woman, the planted stash, the hard-boiled similes (“I crossed the yard as fast as a dog licking a dish”). Shaffer can write. I’m devouring this thing, but not too fast; I need some time out from the nonstop battering of the Trump administration. And having written local politicians into a murder mystery myself, I feel like I now have a posse.

On the other hand, there is this, from the same author.

Creepily, it was published before the 2016 election. What did he know and when did he know it? Can I stand to read it?

And I am really not sure about

I think it deserves a read for the pen name alone, though. News as I get it.



Pass My Parasol And My Kevlar Vest

The goddamndest thing happened today. Out of nowhere, over three years from my second and, so far, last foray into pulp fiction, Veiled hatsome clown with a local business contacted me through my POD publisher to find out if I was interested doing a book signing in his shop. My guess is that he searched the Web for books by local authors and surfed up my little thrillers, which turn up in the weirdest places (categories like “fiction about sports” because the word Ballpark is in the title of the second, for example); I suspect he hasn’t actually read them.

He may not realize they are pseudonymously written romans a clef satirizing people who had traction in local politics half a decade back, or that my narrator-hero was based on the local newspaper editor, a supernal dweeb whose fate was sealed the day he spiked my theater review, but that was another story. I have to wonder if there would be enough interest at this late date for me to order some author’s copies.

After three and four years, most people who give a rat’s ass have pretty well figured out that I did it, so it might be worth the laugh to just show up in a nominal disguise, the way people dress in a Santa costume and everyone agrees not to notice that they still look just like Uncle Fred. The author of these books, hardboiled as they are, turned out to be a prim spinster with a naughty twinkle, and when she is, for instance, lying extravagantly to the Arlington bureau of the Washington Post, she sprinkles her discourse with affected Gallicisms and arch endearments that suggest she might really be someone named Quentin or Algernon in deep drag. I pulled the name out of my ass, the personality appeared when the local press got curious for a split second, and I’ve been stuck with her ever since — so if she’s going to go out in public, I need a smart walking dress, a wide-brimmed hat and a parasol.

And probably bulletproof underwear. I modeled a character on our local foil-hat type, and then muddied the water (and, consciously, paid him for his unwitting service as a template) by working for his electoral campaign. Being obsessional beyond anything you can conceive, he perseverated on the caricature far longer than anyone else involved, and when he eventually rumbled me through an impressive job of sleuthing (I told him I couldn’t have written better detective work), howled like an outraged virgin and sent me a lengthy, hysterical and totally bogus “Cease and Desist” letter by US Priority Mail. At last report, he was still fuming and accusing everyone connected to the book of promoting it solely to pick on him. Some people need to get a life.

Do you think the owner of a flower shop is ready to tangle with that?

The Laughing-Your-Ass-Off Thing, or, Butt Woman (II)

Somehow, whenever I say something in public, a weird synchronicity comes along.

The parent website of this trailer (if you click, it will download in Real Media) came to me from Donna Barr, once again. I salute, in thanking her, all those who mine the ore of the tacky and tasteless.

Topical and timely yet wafting the perfume of the ages…

UPDATE: I couldn’t stand it, and actually ordered the DVD of this title on the strength of the trailer and three short TV spots which ran on Comedy Central — all are available here through Live Video, though if you’ve got Real Media, you want to use that for the trailer (click on the image above). There’s nothing like seeing a killer butt claim its victims fullscreen in good image quality. This is a serious competitor for Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

BTW, if you have even a little surplus budget, I am a big advocate of throwing your discretionary dollars at independent artists, whether they’re seriously fucked in the head like Mark Pirro or just talented and dedicated, like the carver at the craft fair whose stuff was really good and you went back to look twice. Buy it, eat off it, watch it, hang it on your wall, read it, wear it. Middlemen and factory pimps already have enough of people’s money.