Saturday, October 16, 2004

James Ellroy Appearance in Durham, NC

Friday nite (10/15) I attended a talk and signing by James Ellroy at Regulator Books in Durham, NC.
I have struggled with the three Ellroy books I have read----they were all chores for me. Since I enjoy so many of the LA crime writers and he has a superb reputation, I know I am missing something.
So, I hoped this appearance might encourage me to try again if I had more insight.
He is a dynamic speaker with a self-deprecating sense of humor with a most entertaining style.
He is easily the most passionate speaker for an author that I have seen.
Odds and ends from his Q&A---
He has the highest regard for the LAPD, and is in favor of proactive police work (as am I).
Was arrested at 18 for stealing booze and fleeing the scene.
Researches by reading a lot of old LAPD files and LA Sheriff Department files.
The Bible and Confidential Magazine were early influences.
He considers himself a formalist---is religious and a moralist.
Listens almost exclusively to classical music.
Early Wambaugh was an influence. Thinks only three writers really understand how to write about men---Wambaugh, Hammett and he himself.
His overriding theme is "bad men in love with strong women."
"LA Confidential" the movie was about 20% of his book.
In true crime he considers the investigation more interesting than the trial aspect. I agree.
"Crime derives from individual moral forfeit---most folks are decent.
Wants to be to the LAPD in 2005 what Jack Webb was to LAPD in the 1950’s.
He still writes by hand…no computer/no typewriter.
It was a wonderful evening. It is great to experience a curmudgeonly, politically incorrect, red state writer---all qualities I find admirable.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Curmudgeon in the Wry 274

Sunday, October 03, 2004—562 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 58 seconds
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Rave: Coleman Hawkins
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TV timeout: Tried watching Hu$tle, ESPN’s original movie about Pete Rose, but I could not get past the Beatles wig.
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Rant: The Expos belong to the Capital now, but if anybody can screw this up, it is the D.C. government.
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Rant: You can understand how Orioles fans might see this plan by Major League Baseball to keep Peter Angelos’ coffers full as a virtual guarantee that the Birds will add to their streak of seven consecutive losing seasons. If the owners are subsidizing the O’s, what is Angelos’ incentive for fielding a better team?
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Hmmm: I am willing to bet that you have desk drawers you have not opened in recent memory.
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Truisms: Three things that are absolutely useless to tell other people: "Just relax," "Try not to think about it" and "Don’t worry."
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Just wondering: When was the last time you saw someone using a coin changer like the Good Humor man used to use?
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Rant: One reason people scream into their cell phones is because they cannot hear their own voice in the earpiece like on a regular phone. Seems like a feature some enterprising tech company should invent.
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Rant: On the same subject---has anyone ever really pressed 5 to leave a call back number?
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Just the facts: 2000 was not the closest U.S. presidential election. The popular vote margin was five times greater than JFK’s margin over Nixon. Bush won by five electoral votes---Rutherford B. Hayes won by one vote in 1876.
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Hmmm: Do police dispatchers still say, "Calling all cars"?
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Rave: When you think about, has Dan Rather not been nuts for years?
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Rant: Every restaurant review ought to inform you as to how noisy the place is and whether human speech is in the realm of possibility.
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Rave: Reconsider root beer. Contains no caffeine.
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Rant: Strollers are becoming like SUVs. They keep getting bigger and bigger, yet babies are staying about the same size.
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Book Raves: "The Exile" by Allan Folsom is a BeePlus…not as good as his "Day After Tomorrow", but a thrilling ride.
"Mortal Allies" by Brian Haig also a BeePlus with cynical, sardonic, witty Sean Drummond back in fine form.
A BeePlus for Anthony nominee "The Delicate Storm" by Giles Blunt---a new author to me and I will read his other works.
Another Anthony nominee that gets a BeePlus is William Lashner’s "Fatal Flaw"---stunning twists and turns in a wonderful narrative of duplicity and homicide.
High marks to the first Tim Cockey novel. "The Hearse You Came In On" is a devious, tongue-in-cheek cleverly written mystery set lovingly in Baltimore.
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Rave: Driving down a two-lane road with nobody in front of you.
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Truism II: It is easy to have your cake and eat it, too. What is difficult is to eat your cake and have it, too.
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Hmmm: Do butterflies have any natural predators? If not, why have they not taken over the world?
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Truism III: For most airplane movies, it makes no difference whether you use the headset or not.
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Rant: How come you never look to see which side the gas tank is on before you get in the rental car?
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Truism IV: If you are old enough to drive, you are too old to trick-or-treat.
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Born this day:
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That is all.
As you were.