Saturday, March 31, 2012

Don't Read This Book

You can’t sleep. It started like that for all of us, back when we were garden variety insomniacs. Maybe you had nightmares (God knows we all do now), or maybe you just had problems that wouldn’t let you sleep. Hell, maybe you were just over-caffienated. But then something clicked.

That was when you took a long walk down the streets of the Mad City, stopped being a Sleeper, and started being Awake. But that click you heard wasn’t from the secret world snapping into place. It was the sound of the Nightmares flicking off the safety and pointing a gun at your head.
Don't Rest Your Head is a tabletop role-playing game by the amazing and talented folks over at Evil Hat Productions about what happens when the real world shudders into focus and all those nightmares and boogeymen you thought were just inside your head come out to play.

The mastermind behind Evil Hat, Fred Hicks (one seriously smart and talented motherfucker) has put together an anthology of short stories based in the world of Don't Rest Your Head titled DON'T READ THIS BOOK. Thirteen tales of madness and desperation, fear and disquiet.

And it's coming your way.

That there's the cover right there. See that line-up? And me, right up there near the top (It's alphabetical, in case you hadn't noticed). Holy shit there's some talent in this book. Truth be told I'm more than a little intimidated. These are some top notch writers and I'm jazzed they let me into the club.

Comes out in a couple months or thereabouts. Look for it when it does.

 You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Criminal Element - Welcome Back To The Golden Age

Hey, folks.

I'm over at Criminal Element today talking about pulp action hero books, like Chuck Wendig's DINOCALYPSE NOW!, Adam Christopher's EMPIRE STATE, Doselle Young's HOUSEWORK and Nathan Long's JANE CARVER OF WAAR.

One thing that didn't make it into the article is the beautiful cover art by Ron Randall for Doselle Young's HOUSEWORK, a paper reprint of his novella, which isn't available yet. And so, because I think y'all need to see it, here it is:

Friday, March 16, 2012

You'd Think They'd Know When He Went In For A Pap Smear

San Clemente, CA

Perla Aldama Serrano, a 51-year-old transient in San Clemente, was arrested for identity theft earlier this week. Seems he's been using someone else's identity for the last 13 years to get medical care at various hospitals in the Orange County area to the tune of more than $100,000.00.

The weird part? It's a woman's identity.

Not only that, but he's been arrested before, giving his victim's name in some of those circumstances, forcing her to go to court and defend herself.

It took a cop finding him asleep in the park, asking his name and checking it against the name on the hospital ID bracelet he was still wearing from his latest visit. When they didn't match the cop called it in.

Now this raises all sorts of questions. Why do we have a medical system that requires someone to steal a name so that they can get health care? How can we justify the enormous number of homeless on our streets in a country as prosperous as ours the 21st Century? How does Serran manage to keep those lips so soft and supple?

Of course, the real question is how he managed to keep this going for over a decade.

Considering the overwhelm of any emergency room in California there's a lot that can slip through the cracks. And ER docs usually have more things to worry about, like keeping people alive, than checking whether a patient is who they say he is.

But thirteen years? Really? A few rounds in the pokey and you'd think somebody would have noticed that the person in cuffs isn't the person who keeps coming to court. And if he ever went in for an extended hospital stay there's this thing called a catheter that they... well, you know.

Anyway, glad Mr. Serrano's ID thief has finally been found out. Now she just has to clean up the mess. I wish her the best of luck.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Noir At The Bar: Here We Go Again

Ladies And Gentlemen of Legal Drinking Age lend me your ears! Oh, don't be like that. It's not like I'm asking for money. And I'll give you your ears back.


Gather round and take heed! For next Sunday, March 25th at 8:00PM we are doing yet another Noir At The Bar. This is our fourth go round and our second year, and we got no plans of stopping.

A finer group of miscreants you won't find outside of Pitchess Detention Center

Yep, we'll be at The Mandrake again in Culver City getting boozed up and listening to outstanding writers tell their stories of vengeance, deceit, tragedy and pain.

This time we've got Hilary Davidson (THE NEXT ONE TO FALL), Gary Phillips (THE UNDERBELLY), Gar Anthony Haywood (ASSUME NOTHING), Johnny Shaw (DOVE SEASON), and Jordan Harper (too many stories to get into).

So come on down, get lit and listen to some beautifully written and amazingly fucked up tales.

8:00pm, Sunday, March 25th at The Mandrake Bar: 2692 S La Cienega Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90034

There's no cover, the drinks are cheap (for L.A.) and Mysterious Galaxy will be on hand with the authors' books available for purchase.

Hope to see y'all there.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Criminal Tip #87,623: Do Not Fuck With The Wine Collectors

Arcadia, CA

Nobody knows their shit more than a wine snob.

As wine collector Rudy Kurniawan, 35, recently discovered.

In 2008, Kurniawan consigned at auction about $600K worth of wine fom Domaine Ponsot winery in France, saying that one of the bottles was a 1929. Only one problem with that.

They didn't start making it until 1934.

Then he said that some of the bottles were made between 1945 and 1971 from the Clos St. Denis vineyard of Domaine Ponsot. Only that vineyard didn't start producing until 1982.

Then he allegedly tried to move 78 bottles of Burgundy supposedly from Domaine de la Romanee-Conti through a straw seller at a London auction.

One person noted on a well-known wine appreciation bulletin board that the four-digit serial numbers on some bottles should have been five or six digits. The foil around the corks was also alleged not to be genuine, and labels that were supposed to be from 1959 to 1971 included an accent mark that did not appear on the bottles until 1976.
Yes, that's right. He was brought down by a fucking diacritical mark on the wine equivalent of 4Chan.

Which goes to show that pedants actually have a place in this world. Who'da thunk?

Kurniawan is in jail now, after being arrested at his Arcadia home on Thursday. He's facing 20 years for fraud in Federal prison.

The real tragedy? All they have in there is Pruno.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Sometimes You Game The System, Sometimes The System Games You

Los Angeles, CA

Last April, Anthony Garcia, 26 was convicted for a 2004 murder after his involvement was discovered through the unusual situation of police recognizing, of all things, the murder scene tattooed onto his chest. He's now serving a sentence of 65-to-life.

Seems criminality runs in the family. His father, Juan Garcia, 47, and two women, Sandra Jaimez, 45, and Cynthia Limas, 25, have been arrested for filing false unemployment claims on Garcia's behalf, raking in about $20,000.00, some of which seems to have gone into their pockets and some into Garcia's jail account.

Add to that the special allegation that it was done for the benefit of a street gang and they're looking at some hefty jail time: 30 years for the elder Garcia, 25 for Jaimez and seven for Limas.

I suppose, technically, he's unemployed. But, come on, in this age of Google and automated audits, they really thought this one would just slip through the cracks? You don't try this shit when you got budget shortfalls. They're shaking out the couch cushions looking for stray quarters at this point. They're going to find you.

Well, at least they'll all be in jail together. One big, stupid, fucking family.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Guest Post - Chris F Holm

Chris F Holm's fantastic debut novel, DEAD HARVEST, came out this week.  I read it a while back before he was cool.

Okay, that's a lie.  Chris has always been cool.  And he's offered to make this blog a little bit cooler by his presence.  

And so, dead readers, here's Chris to talk a little bit about DEAD HARVEST.  And raise some shit talking about that one thing that noir writers LOVE to talk about.

No, not penises.


Free Will's A Bitch

Since Stephen was kind enough to hand over the reins of his blog today, I thought I'd repay him by stirring up a little internet-ire. See, DEAD HARVEST is a funky little fantasy/noir crossover, the first in a series that recasts the battle between heaven and hell as Golden Era crime pulp. So it seemed only fitting, given the name of this here blog, that the the trashcan fire I stoke while squatting here, eating my baked beans straight from the can, comes in the form of the most dreaded question in all of crime fic:

"What is noir?"

Yeah, I went there. And I bet at least a few of you winced when you read those three little words, because you know just what a can of worms they represent. Truth is, a lot of ink's been spilled by readers and writers of crime fiction alike on the topic of noir, and rightly so: as literary movements go, it's a hard one to pin down. One of the few definitions to get any traction of late is noir preservationist Eddie Muller's take on noir as "working class tragedy," due in large part to the fact that definition's been championed by no less than Dennis Lehane. "In Greek tragedy, they fall from great heights," sayeth Lehane. "In noir, they fall from the curb."

Now, that definition doesn't strike me as half bad, but it's more descriptive than prescriptive; I'm not convinced "working class" is a necessary condition of noir, so much as a common ingredient. A shorthand for where the subgenre's often been, as opposed to an instruction manual for where it's going. To my mind, noir boils down to this: shit options, bad decisions, and dire consequences. The difference between Greek tragedy and noir ain't the height of the fall, but the reason: those who fall in Greek tragedy do so because they're destined to; those who fall in noir choose to their damn selves.

In short, free will's a bitch.

When I sat down to write DEAD HARVEST, it was that notion I wanted to explore: namely, the curse of free will. I'm from a family of lapsed Catholics, and I've long been fascinated with the Church's teachings, particularly with regard to free will. On the one hand, we're told God gave to humankind, his most beloved creation, the gift of free will, and on the other, that said gift resulted in the humankind's expulsion from paradise, and a taint that's passed to every one of us at birth. We're taught that three-quarters of everything we do -- or even think -- is sinful, and we should beg forgiveness at every turn lest we wind up burning for all eternity. We're taught that even good people can go to hell if they don't play by God's rules. And we're taught that if they do wind up in hell, it's all their fault.

I'm not trying to knock my family's faith. But I will say being raised in such a faith can scare the ever-loving shit out of you. It puts no small amount of pressure on you to make good decisions, and no doubt has filled the pews for damn near two thousand years of Sundays with folks trying desperately to reconcile their decisions and their beliefs with a rulebook that is both dense and difficult to comprehend. Because by God, if they don't, they're gonna take a fall.

Sam Thornton, the protagonist of DEAD HARVEST, is a man who understands that all too well. Or, rather, he was. See, Sam's dead. Has been since the Forties. In life, he spent his Sundays in church. In death, he's condemned to an eternity in hell. Was Sam a bad guy? Nope. But his life was one of Muller and Lehane's working-class tragedies. Dirt poor and rendered unemployable by a bum leg picked up when a strike-buster took his job a tad too literally, the only thing he'd had going for him was the love of a good woman, his wife Elizabeth. Until she fell ill, that is. Not content to watch her die, Sam struck a bargain with a demon: his immortal soul for Elizabeth's life. And now, in punishment, he's forced to collect the souls of the condemned for all eternity, forever forced to relive the moment he was torn from his beloved.

Sucks, huh? Well, you don't know the half. Because he begins to suspect that Kate, the teenaged girl he's sent to collect at the outset of DEAD HARVEST for murdering her family, is innocent of the crime for which she's been condemned. That someone -- or more likely, some thing -- conspired to set her up. Sam's not about to let an innocent soul rot in hell for all eternity, so he does something no Collector's ever done before: he defies hell's orders, and sets out on a quest to prove Kate's innocence. A quest that, if he's not careful, may just shatter the fragile truce between heaven and hell, and jump-start the Apocalypse.

Like I said, free will's a bitch.