Thanks to a link from my man Ken Rudin on NPR.org STFF set a record of, wait for it, 19 visitors yesterday!
For those of you coming over from NPR I'll have a personal essay with world music in the background up shortly so you should feel right at home.
And please send me money.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
This was a very good book, screwball and hardboiled at the same time. The story concerns the theft of an unidentified body from the Chicago Morgue and the chase to find it and identify the body. The detective, William Crane, is dedicated to the case but still finds time to have nice meals (on his expense account) with the two detectives helping him out, drink heavily and go to "penthouse parties". It was a nice change from some of the more obsessive detectives of the era. This is definitely a book where the journey is more important than the destination. I had trouble following the solution but I didn't really care that much. Hey, does anyone remember if they ever found the Maltese Falcon or who the killer was in Murder on the Orient Express? The writing is first rate but Crane's detective agency owes a lot to the agency in the Continental Op stories.
My copy was the cool 1942 printing shown above. I got it at a local antique store but the book seems to be in print or at least available in a cheap used version. I've read a couple of other Latimers including the excellent Solomon's Vineyard. Here's a great interview with Latimer.
Chicago was the home of the other great screwball/hardboiled mystery writer Craig Rice as well as the indescribable Harry Stephen Keeler both of whom I highly recommend.
STFF is back from a Montauk vacation weekend. Montauk is a place to do nothing and I think we did it pretty well. Everyone ate a ton of fried food and I had lobster twice. The weather was perfect and Saturday there was a thick fog straight out of a horror movie. This fog was so thick it slowed down but did not stop the awesome force that is Brangelina. I spent the evening at a bar watching pre-season football and you can't beat that. Sadly, our favorite drunk from last year was nowhere to be seen. When we met him last year he was comparing Jets and Giants fans watching football together to racists finding common ground and then hit on the waitress when his date went to the bathroom. We finished up at the Memory Motel bar. The place was immortalized in a Rolling Stones song and they won't let you forget it.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I'm blaming the Monster for my curious mix of jumpiness and alertness this afternoon. Effects of energy drink may have been alterned by my lack of sleep last night (Thanks, Owen!). When my co-worker Kristen came over to show me some changes to a self-mailer I kept focusing on how tiny her hands are even though she's taller than me. That could be anything.
So, I'm walking back from buying my lunch salad when a black pick-up truck parks next to me, two guys turn up the stereo, get out and start shouting "Free Monster!, Free Energy Drink!" and start handing out drink cans. Naturally, I jump in front of a woman and take one. I don't really like energy drinks and have never heard of Monster but it's free, it has to be good!
But that's not the weird part.
Back in my bulding I get in with two guys and one asks if I've like Monster and when I say I've never tried it says , "You should try the coffee Monster, it's a lot better." And the other guy says, "The green is the best, the blue is disgusting."
Anyway this stuff tastes like a mix of Red Bull and bubble gum. I'll let you know if I unleash the beast.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
How do you know STFF is a major media outlet? I'm getting my story ideas from the New York Times, that's how.
Check out the above web page from the New York State Inspector General's Office and specifically the slogan "got integrity!". Is this the best they could do? They've got the time, it's not like they're conducting an investigation of Elliot Spitzer or anything.
I have a few questions.
Wasn't last year the fifteenth anniversary of the "got milk?" campaign being so over and the tenth anniversary of "got milk?" parodies being over. Do they even still have "got weed?" t-shirts on the Jersey Shore? The shark has been jumped, everyone has gone home and the fish tank has been dismantled. You're a hep cat, New York State Inspector General Kristine Hamann. Way to loosen up the Inspector General's office so the kids can get interested in inspecting.
Why doesn't the mission statement of the IG's office mention integrity? The mission statement is: "The Office of the Inspector General is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that State government and its employees meet the highest standards of honesty, accountability, and efficiency." Is integrity a recent addition? An optional add-on, maybe?
How important is integrity if you shoved it in the corner and made it hard to find?
Why does "got milk?" have a question mark but "got integrity!" have an exclamation point? I guess the answer is obvious but it defeats the whole purpose of the quote. People ask, "Got milk?" or "Got beer?" or "Got HBO?" all the time but have you ever hear anyone exclaim, "Got integrity!" or "Got fidelity!" or "Got thrift!"?
Why are they using Verdana? The "got milk?" font is Phenix American and it costs $24 on fonts.com. That's about the cost of ten minutes of trailing Joe Bruno.
Why are the buildings cut off in the picture of New York City (second from the left on top)? I keep thinking I need to scroll up to get the whole page. Oddly, all four link to the New York State website.
My suggestion is scrap the whole thing and get NYC's own Matthew Broderick to reprise his role from the Inspector Gadget movies. You know he's sitting in a trench coat right now staring at the phone thinking, "Ring, damn you, ring!"
Feel free to add your own critiques. Remember, there's nothing wrong with kicking someone when they're down. They're closer to your foot and it's more efficient.
Monday, August 20, 2007
…for the lack of recent posts. I've been working on a secret second blog about detective fiction (it's nothing I couldn't handle with posts here but I like saying," I have two blogs." Uh-oh.) and an especially large post inspired by Gwen's Fantastic Four obsession. I'm pushing to finish my book tonight so I can do an Everything I Consume. I'm all about the fans! I won't get all Mick Taylor on you
This weekend was excellent. I was exhausted Saturday but we stuck the kids in the car and they were asleep before we hit the Triborough. It seems the only time The Wife and I can talk is in cars, which is rough because we have to rent them. My aunt threw a barbaques and lured the family over to meet Owen. It was a blast with good food, other people to hold Owen, play with Gwen and I got to talk Fantasy Football and Football video games with my cousin Bret (with 1 T). I discovered my cousins are all huge fans of Flight of the Conchords, which was kind of a weird revelation.
Oh, and last night's Entourage was amazing.
Posted by Brett at 10:13 AM
Thursday, August 16, 2007
These are my favorite potato chips. They have an exquisite heat that slowly soaks through my pores in a pure head rush and rosacea triggering aftertaste. I think what makes them so great is that I usually buy them in a small 50 cent 1.5 ounce bag. A smaller bag would be disappointing and a larger bag would be too much.
Sorry, fans. I was hoping to have something better for EIC but I haven't finished a book in a while and I wasn't really into writing about Knocked Up.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Gwendolyn's 4th birthday was this weekend. It was a lot of fun and she got a lot of great presents but this is a picture of my favorite. Because it's not enough to be a boat, it's not enough to be hip hop or a ninja, it's not even enough to be a world champion.
Happy birthday, Gwendolyn. You're my hip hop ninja world champion.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Jason Bourne is back, boy is he back. These Bourne movies just get better and better and it seems a shame to stop them now. I foresee a future where the unstoppable Jason Bourne takes on Godzilla or those Independence Day guys and survives ever increasing attempts to defeat him. Shoot him into space, shrink him to subatomic size, drop him in a volcano and cover it with a boulder. It just doesn't matter. Nothing, anywhere, anyhow can stop the killing machine that is Jason Bourne. At one point in this movie Jason Bourne is saved because people start shooting at him. Has that ever happened to you?
This was a great movie. Exciting from start to finish. Compelling story, great action sequences, good acting and plenty of unanswered questions to justify another sequel (What's the deal with Julia Stiles? It can't be coincidence that she keeps showing up. And she just looked like she knew something she wasn't telling. I mean, c'mon!) I think this might be the first time a movie series has gotten better with each of the first three movies. I guess that depends whether you think Goldfinger is a better movie than From Russia With Love and that, gentle reader, is a question for the ages.
This was the first time I'd seen a movie opening weekend in years (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer does not count) and it was a blast to be in a crowded theatre on a Sunday afternoon filled with people laughing and cheering.
Monday, August 6, 2007
I liked this book a lot, I like everything by Nick Hornby. It follows four strangers who meet on a London rooftop with the intention of killing themselves. The book follows them after they change their minds and come down. Suicide is a tough thing to read about but the book finds a way of talking about it that takes the decision seriously but you can also laugh about it. Despite their many differences and one awesome similarity they become friends or more accurately, a support group.
The chapter's first-person narrative alternates between the different characters which is my favorite style of narration (Here's a good example. Here's another one.) The writing style is that self-referential, apologetic, two steps forward one step back style with lots of pop culture that Sarah Vowell, Bill Simmons and everyone else is using these days ("I was sick on the carpet outside the bathroom. Well, I say "carpet"—I was actually sick where the carpet should have been, but he didn't have one."). I think the message of this book is you are who your friends and loved ones are, in contrast to the author's High Fidelity which wondered if you are what you consume. Since you're reading Everything I Consume I have no idea what that makes you.
Friday, August 3, 2007
I just had to listen to the woman in the next cube call up JDate to complain she had to fill out a profile to get the price for signing up.
Earlier today she was demanding she sit shotgun for the road trip she was taking this weekend. It seems she always has to sit in the middle of the back seat and is tired being "punished for being small".
Last week, she called the IT Department to get her iTunes upgraded because it didn't work with her new iPod. The she loudly complained to nobody in particular when they wouldn't do it.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
This morning, like almost every weekday morning I got off the F train at 23rd Street, turned on my iPod and walked up to the street where I heard the NPR 7 AM News Summary lead, like most mornings, with a story about a bombing in Iraq. Podcasts, bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan and 2007 will forever be linked in my mind. Anyway, as I listened, I realized that I get most of my news now from podcasts with the web a close second. Back in college in the 80s they told me the future of news was teletext and we mocked the increasing percentage of the American public that got it's news from TV instead of newspapers and magazines. News from TV, newspapers and magazines? Those are the last place most people look for news today. I only get newspapers on weekends and haven't bought a copy of Time and Newsweek in at least a decade. I can't imagine who still reads weekly news magazines.
But who could have forseen podcasts in 1987? Think of how many steps have we need to get to podcasts. You need widespread internet access, familiarity with software based digital music players, creation of portable hardware-based digital music players and only then do you get podcasts.
I think I'm the one guy under 70 who's still amazed by the internet.
Some other news podcasts I like are:
NY Times Backstory: This is a four to eight minute interview with a Times reporter covering a big story. These upload irregularly but are informative even if the reporters aren't the best interviewees. The reporter covering the Virginia Tech massacre said he was "very happy to be here."
Newsdesk on Guardian Unlimited: A twenty-five minute news podcast from England covering the stories of the day. Obviously, it's UK-focused but still a good listen if only to hear the sultry tones of Ros Taylor reading the news headlines. It doesn't share the anti-Americanism of the Guardian comment boards.
NPR's It's All Politics: A hilarious and informative twelve minutes from NPR's Ken Rudin and Ron Elving. The one place people still talk about Ed Muskie. Highly recommended and worthy of a much longer post.
Washington Week with Gwen Ifil: An informative half-hour taken straight off the TV show. That show must be tough to watch since the podcast is a straight audio pickup and I feel I'm missing nothing. They also do a special five-minute podcast every week of listener questions.
I used to listen to Left, Right and Center but now that I don't I no longer feel homicidal towards Arianna Huffington and Robert Scheer and that's a good thing.