Saturday, April 28, 2012

The end of this blog!!!

To the people who have continously read the postings here for the last two years, it is with a sad heart I announce the closing of this blog. Google purchased some time back, and this happens to be where my blog is located. Because of Google's purchase, many changes are now taking place with regards to postings, how they look, the editing of old postings, the checking of the blogs statistics, etc. In short, things have become more difficult, if not impossible. I'm all for change, but if something is working, don't try to fix it. I've spent over five hours during the past week in an attempt to figure out the changes here and how to make them work correctly, but no luck. An example: I just wrote a long posting, which is a review of the non-fiction anthology, In Pursuit of Spenser. This review is over four pages long. Until last weekend, I never had a problem in formatting my postings. I could indent the first line of each paragraph, or simply double space between the paragraphs. Easy to do. Well, it's not easy at all now. In fact, the changes won't allow you to indent paragraphs or to put double spaces between them. What you actually end up with is one incredibly long paragraph. Even I wouldn't attempt to read something like that. So, I'm tired of fooling around with this. I have to deal with changes at work every week that I'm forced to accept whether I like them or not. I don't have to deal with the changes here. I have a choice in this matter. Even after the extremely long hours in writing the postings here (200 postings over a twenty-four month period and nearly 10,000 hits) and my love of sharing information on fun books to read and DVDs to watch, I'm more than willing to walk away and to let Google delete it from the blogger website. I will still continue to write ocassional reviews on, Hellnotes, and my home page on Facebook, but not here. I thank all the regulars who read the posting here, and I wish you the best of luck with your life and endeavors. I'm now going to spend more time working on my short stories, novellas, novels, and screenplays. Maybe what's happen is a good thing after all.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Eighth "Jesse Stone" movie to air on CBS on May 20th, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Benefit of Doubt is the title for the new "Jesse Stone" tv movie that's due to air on CBS, Sunday night on May 20th at 9:00 PM. The movie was written by both Tom Selleck and Michael Brandman (he also penned the Jesse Stone novel--Robert B. Parker's Killing the Blues).

The story will center around Jesse trying to get his old job back as police chief of Paradise as he investigates a double-Mob hit in Boston. All the regulars will be back in full force as Jesse uses his coply intuition to get the job done.

Early last Fall, I heard from someone involved in the production of Benefit of Doubt that Selleck and the entire crew were trying to make this the absolute best of the "Jesse Stone" movies. The individual said he felt they'd accomplished that particular goal and were extremely happy with the final results.

I feel comfortable in saying the late Robert Parker would be pleased to know the "Jesse Stone" television series is moving forward with everyone involved trying to live up to his expectations. The entire cast and crew of the "Jesse Stone" television series are true fans of the character and want to do it right. My hat goes off to them for their passionate effort to keep the series alive.

A new "Spenser" novel is due out on May 1st. The title is Robert B. Parker's Lullaby. It's by Southern mystery writer, Ace Atkins, and the premise of the novel sounds damn exciting. Check it out on I'm anxious to read it.

Last, another new "Jesse Stone" novel is due out on September 11th. Michael Brandman (co-producer and writer of the "Jesse Stone" tv series) is the author of the new book.

Mr. Brandman received a lot of flack from "Jesse Stone" fans with regards to his last novel, Killing the Blues. I really liked the novel, but then I understood where Mr. Brandman was coming from as a writer for television. I read the book in that vain and found myself enjoying it immensely. I realize the format used in Killing the Blues didn't appeal to a lot of the fans, but I say to give the new novel that's coming out at the end of the summer a chance. I, for one, am happy to see the "Jesse Stone" novels continuing and being written by someone who loves the character as much as Mr. Parker did.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A review of Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale

Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale
Mulholland Books, 2012, Hardcover, $25.99, 291pps
ISBN: 978-0-316-18843-2
Review by Wayne C. Rogers

Okay, this is what happened with Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale.
I’d been waiting for several months to get this new novel by Hisownself and read it. I knew that once I got a couple of pages into the story, I wouldn’t put the sucker down, even if my life depended on it. As time would have it, the day after I got the book in the mail, I got hit with a number of writing projects that needed to be done ASAP.

A magazine sent me back a story they’d purchased so I could correct the galley proofs. Another magazine was interested in a story I’d sent them, but only if I could cut a thousand words from it. The story was 1,300 words above their limit, but they liked it and wanted to buy it, if I could do the necessary cut. A publisher was suddenly interested in an old erotic novel I'd written over a decade ago. If I owned the rights to it, they were willing to publish it after a quick polish on my part.
Needless to say, I stopped reading and started writing like a tornado the size of Texas was on my ass. The only reading I did was during my lunch break at work. I got both short stories completed, and then quickly started the rewrite of my old novel.

Something, however, happened yesterday while I was at work (Thursday). When I was reading Edge of Dark Water in the employee lunch room, I got to the point in the story when Skunk (the most evil villain I’ve ever read about) first attacks the kids on the Sabine River. I knew then I was going to finish this novel come hell or high water. You see the book was pretty good up until that particular scene. Then, it suddenly became GREAT, and I wasn’t going to wait another day to find out what happened to everybody. I needed to know who had bought the farm and who was still kicking. I put the rewrite on hold and then dug in last night for the long haul so I could finish Joe’s book.

The problem is I’m 61, and the pain medication I’m on puts me to sleep after a few hours. So, I managed to read seventy pages before I conked out on the couch and started snoring so loud the neighbors were soon banging on the wall, yelling for me to turn the television down.

I took the novel to work with me today (Friday) so I could squeeze in some fast reads. I still didn’t have enough time to finish it.

This was worse than getting stuck in the eye with a sharp pencil.

I got home, answered my e-mails, and then got comfortable on the couch again to read. Nothing was going to stand in my way this time. I was ready to take on King Kong if necessary to finish this fabulous story of friendship, love, hate, murder, coming of age, racial prejudice, parenting, pure evil in the meanest sense of the word, and anything else Joe could think to include in the story. Then, a pizza man knocked on the door, wanting to know if I was interested in buying a large pepperoni pizza for six bucks. I told him to buzz off before my friends, Hap and Leonard, showed up and stuck that pizza where the sun don't shine. Of course, truth be told, I didn’t have six dollars, or else I would’ve bought one to eat while I was reading.

Well, I finished the book and here’s the review.

Joe said he thought Edge of Dark Water was probably his best novel to date. I can’t honestly say if it is or isn’t. You see, I’m prejudiced. I’ve long held The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale as the best novel I’ve ever read. It's certainly Joe’s #1 book to date. There were just so many things in the novel that spoke to my heart as a human being that I didn’t think it could ever be replaced. The thing is, however, Edge of Dark Water is so good that it’s trying to edge right up against The Bottoms like a horny, drunk husband late at night and remove it from its perch at the top of the list.

What’s the Edge of Dark Water about?

Joe Hill (author of Horns and The Heart-Shaped Box) called it a cross between The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Deliverance. He wasn’t far wrong on that description.

When Mae Lyn, the prettiest girl in the county, is found dead in the Sabine River with a Singer sewing machine tied around her ankles, her three closest friends—maybe her only friends—decide to dig up her body, burn it, and take the ashes to Hollywood. This is where Mae Lyn always dreamed of going, hoping she could become famous.

Her friends—Sue Ellen, Jinx and Terry—all have their different personalities. Sue Ellen, though pretty, is basically a tomboy. Jinx is black and isn’t afraid to speak her mind, even if it gets her into trouble. Remember, this is taking place during the Great Depression. Terry is a handsome young fellow, but everybody considers him to be a sissy. In the South, during the Depression, being a sissy is considered worse than being black. Still, these kids love each other as close friends usually do, even if they sometimes get on each other’s nerves.

Now, if each of these kids came from a great, loving home or had something to look forward to in their life, the idea of taking Mae Lyn’s ashes to California wouldn’t have grown wings and taken flight so quickly. All of them have little reason to stay and everything to gain by heading out west. To add to the situation, the three kids discover a cache of hidden money stolen from a bank by Mae Lyn’s dead brother. It’s only a thousand dollars, but a lot of people would kill you for a lot less during the Depression.

Stealing a raft, the kids make their way down the river, but with folks after them for the money. No one really cares about the children, but the money is something else entirely. The Shunk, a merciless killer and a legend, is hired to track the kids down and bring back the money. The thing is Shunk loves to kill in the most hideous ways. He always chops the hands off of his victims and keeps them as souvenirs around his neck. The kids don’t believe in him at first, but they soon will.

While the kids make their way down the river to the nearest town, they encounter all sorts of adventures. It doesn’t hurt that they have an unexpected travelling companion with them. It proves to be both a blessing and a curse at the same time.

There’s also the matter of who murdered Mae Lyn.

That question isn’t stared at or mulled over much on the river trip. But when the killer is finally revealed, I think you’ll be just as surprised as I was. It’s not easy to surprise me any more, but Joe Lansdale still has that solid punch to the gut that can knock the wind out of you.

As I stated earlier, Edge of Dark Water covers many themes and does them poignantly so the reader isn’t beaten over the head with each one like a bongo drum (I've been wanting to use that phrase from one of Joe's books for a over a year). The author portrays life as it was during the thirties and forties. In some ways, much hasn’t changed. People are still people with their good points and their bad ones. Seldom is anything black or white, but rather shades of grey because human beings are complex creatures. Joe understands this and is able to give the reader an underlying view of what makes people tick. This is a hard job for any writer, but Joe manages to do it in spades.

This is also pure storytelling at its best. Not every writer can tell a good yarn. Joe Lansdale is a master at it. He knows how to weave a good, heart-wrenching tale, creating fully developed characters in such a way that you either love them or hate them, or maybe both at the same time. Heck, you might not even know which emotion is kicking in or being tugged on. I guarantee, however, you’ll get a good look at the dark side of man few other authors are able to tap into. This writer creates a picture of evil as if he’s gone up against it during his lifetime and barely survived.

Last, allow me to add that Joe Lansdale is an author who knows how to deliver on his promises. What do I mean by that? Whenever you buy a novel, the author is promising that you’ll get your money’s worth from the book. Not every author is able to keep that particular promise, but Joe always does. This is why I always look forward to a new book by him. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Go out and get yourself a copy of Edge of Dark Water. After you finish reading it, you’ll want to put it on the bookshelf beside Joe R. Lansdale’s other great novels, The Bottoms, A Fine Dark Line, Sunset and Sawdust, and the Hap/Leonard series. This is one of the top writers in the world today and if you haven't read his fiction, then shame on you. Highly recommended!

The short stories I've sold this year are starting to appear in publications.

This is an examble for new writers in the horror and suspense genres to be aware of. Don't give up. Hang in there and keep writing no matter how bad it looks. All you need to do is find one person who likes your stuff and then everything changes for the better. I barely sold any of my work during the past two years. A story here and a story there. Since Thanksgiving, however, I've been on a roll and have sold several short stories that are due to be published this year. Some are out right now as I write this posting.

The first is my short story, A Step in the Shadows, which is about an infamous serial killer living in Las Vegas, Nevada. A former FBI agent read the story and was totally caught off guard by the ending. He loved it. It's only five pages long, but leaves a lasting impression on the reader. I sold this story to Rainstorm Press, and the anthology it's in, I'll Never Go Away, is now up on Amazon's Kindle store. The paperback version is due out on Amazon within a week or so. The cover of the anthology looks great. I'm really pleased with it. Rainstorm Press is also holding onto the sequel of this story, Trick or Treat, for possible publication in their 2013 anthology of the same name, but Volume 2.

The second, third and fourth of my short stories, known as The Countess trilogy, were sold to JMS Book. The first story in the trilogy, A Night of Hunger, will appear tomorrow (Monday, April 8th) on With the help of the publisher, I was able to pick out a fabulous cover that will tie into all three stories. The common theme of the stories revolves around the Countess, who is a beautiful vampire and dominatrix in San Francsico. She uses an S&M lounge to pick out her next victims. Each of the three stories moves toward a grand finale. The second story, The Den of Inequity, will appear on May 27th. I just corrected the proof of this story and sent it back to them. The third and final story in the trilogy, The Countess, will appear on June 17th. The country's greatest assassin will go up against her for the murder of his younger brother. It will be a fight to the death.

The fifth short story, The House of Pain, was purchased by Short Scary Tales Publications in England. My story will appear in their Peep Show, Volume 2 anthology at the end of the year in paperback. This story is tied into the Countess trilogy. It's about her sister who runs the House of Pain in an underground cavern in Las Vegas. She, too, is a vampire and dominatrix, and uses the clientele of the cavern to pick her victims from. The police are getting ready to raid the cavern and send in an unarmed officer to check things out. He has to go through a metal detector in order to enter the caveren, so he can't have a weapon on his body. But, he's good in hand-to-hand combat. He will be in for the fight of his life before the story is over.

Stories six and seven are now up at in England. They are selling my erotic/horror novel, The House of Blood, in e-book. Two of my stories are being used to promote the novel because each of the stories take place inside this house of pure, unadulterated evil. The first story is The House of Palomino Lane, and deals with a homeless man who breaks into the house during a snowstorm in Vegas and encounters the evil spirit of the former owner. The second story, The Hunt, centers around an ex-Las Vegas Homicide Detective who has been chasing a serial killer for years, losing his job and family in the process. He's finally tracked the killer down to the house of Palomino Lane, only it's not one killer, but several, and they aren't human. He goes into the house, ready to die, but also wanting to take as many of the killers with him as possible.

My eight tale, The Bus, is due to be published by Undead Press this year. It takes place in and out of the Blue Bayou Hotel & Casino here in Las Vegas, across the street from the infamous House of Pain.

The ninth story, The Garbage Disposal is being published by Grave Demand sometime later this year.

I have three more stories out to various magazines, and I'm waiting to hear from them. I've got my fingers crossed. After such a long dry spell, I want to sell as many of stories as possible while the rush is in progress.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A short review of the Stir of Echoes Special Edition DVD

Like the Peter Jackson version of King Kong, I didn’t particularly like Stir of Echoes when I saw it at the theater in September of 1999. God, it’s hard to believe twelve years have passed since then. The thing is The Sixth Sense had just come out in August of that year, and Stir of Echoes reminded of it a little because of the little boy who sees ghosts. Also, I could see the ending coming a mile away. I didn’t feel surprised in any way by the film. I actually thought the writer/director had cheated somewhat with what they did at the end and didn’t appreciate it.

Well, I found a new copy of the Special Edition of Stir of Echoes on sale for a couple of bucks and decided to give it another chance. I watched it and actually liked the movie better now than I originally had twelve years before, though I still feel the ending was a little bit of a cheat. I don’t want to give it away, but if you’ve seen the movie, I think you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about with a gunshot going off in the basement of the house.

The story is about blue-collar worker, Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon), who isn’t where he feels he should be at this stage of his life. He’s not doing what he loves, he’s not making the money he wants, and his wife is pregnant with their second child on the way. At a party, his sister-in-law hypnotizes him and leaves the suggestion that his mind reminds open to any and everything afterwards.

Unfortunately for Tom, he starts seeing the ghost of a girl who supposedly ran away from the neighborhood several months before. His son, Jake (Zachary David Cope), is already talking to her and thinks nothing of it. Tom gets agitated by the ghost and wonders if he’s going crazy. His wife, Maggie (Kathryn Erbe), refuses to believe anything out of the ordinary is even happening.

Over a period of weeks, Tom starts seeing the ghost more and more. He finds out about the girl who ran away from their babysitter, who is the girl’s sister. Tom knows the girl is dead and soon begins to search for her body in the backyard and in the house his family is renting. Will Tom find the body of the dead girl? If so, who killed her and what will happen to Tom and his family? It’s not difficult to figure out the answers to these questions like I did when I first saw it.

This time around, I was able to appreciate the storyline and the acting of all the performers. It’s actually a pretty good tale of the supernatural and how people often refuse to accept the strange things that go on in their lives. I watched it with interest and found myself getting caught up in the mystery even though I already knew the answers.

This isn’t a bad film and probably deserved more attention than it got in 1999.

There are about forty minutes of behinds-the-scenes footage on the making of the film with short discussions with Richard Matheson, whose novel the film is based on, as well as the director and actors in the movie.

If you haven’t seen this film, you might want to give it a shot. And no, Kevin Bacon doesn’t dance to Footloose in this.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A review of the Director's Cut, two disc set of The Natural with Robert Redford.

I’m not a big fan of sports’ movies; yet, there are three of them on my top-ten list of favorite movies. Two deal with baseball (Field of Dreams and The Natural), while the third one centers around football (Rudy). This review is about The Natural, specifically the Director’s Cut version that’s in a two-disc set.

I first saw The Natural in May of 1984, while I was visiting the university town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I was from Beaufort, which is on the east coast about 150 miles away. I was thinking about moving to Chapel Hill and wanted to check out the apartments and what the rent was like. As I was walking down the center of the downtown section, I noticed The Natural playing at one of the main theaters. This was before movie multiplexes. I hadn’t heard anything about The Natural or seen the previews of it, but I noticed Robert Redford was billed on the marquee. When I examined the poster out front, I saw Glenn Close was it. I’d become a big fan of Glenn Close since seeing her in The World According To Garp two years before. Truth be told, she looked quite a bit like a woman I’d been in love with so I made it a point to see anything she was in. I bought a ticket to the movie and spent the rest of the afternoon watching a baseball movie, instead of looking at apartments.

Well, The Natural blew me away.

Though I was the only one in the theater at that time of day, I stood up and cheered at the end. I mean it has the type of ending where you have to cheer because the hero does what is right and wins. Most heroes don’t win in real life. The character of Roy Hobbs certainly didn’t win in Bernard Malamud’s novel of The Natural. The movie ending was great to me. It was what I needed. All so, I got to see a beautiful Glenn Close, and in my mind, I felt the woman I’d known in real life would do for me what Glenn’s character did for Roy Hobbs—give him the will to succeed against all odds!

Later, I bought the VHS of The Natural when it came out, and then the DVD. A week or so ago, I noticed that a Director’s Cut of the movie was out. In fact, it had been released in 2007, five years ago. I wondered how I’d missed it. I then remembered I didn’t have much memory of a lot of things before the fall of 2009, when I went into the hospital for a month. I burned up a lot of brain cells during that stay. When I got out, I had so many bills I had to sell my DVD collections to help pay them. So, I could have had the Director’s Cut in that collection and just not remembered it. I’ve already read three-or-four novels I couldn’t remember reading before the hospital, but which I evidently did. Anyway, I found a great price on a new copy of The Natural in the Director’s Cut and ordered it. I watched half of it on Thursday night, the other half on Friday, and then the special features today.

After almost thirty years this movies still gives me goose bumps on the arms.

Now, what the director, Barry Levinson, did was add over twenty minutes of new material to the film. This is footage that had to be dropped because of time restraints. Levinson also compressed other scenes into shorter flashbacks, so this version of the movie is only six minutes longer than the theatrical one. I’m not sure the new footage added to the movie as a whole. Most of it is in the first half of the film. Still, the movie works and there is more detail or history in the telling of the story.

The story itself deals with Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford). He had a natural gift for playing baseball as a boy that was developed with the help of his father before he passed away. As a young man, he’s drafted into the game and has to leave the farm where he grew up and his best friend, Iris (Glenn Close), who he’s in love with. Riding the train to the big city, he encounters a mysterious woman who’s played by Barbara Hershey. When he strikes out a baseball player known as the Whammer, she sets her eyes on him and soon shoots him before committing suicide.

Hobbs then disappears for sixteen years.

When he finally returns to baseball, he’s been drafted to the major leagues, but to a down-and-out team called the New York Knights. Hobbs is at the age when most players are retiring, and the manager, Pops Fisher, doesn’t like having him shoved down his throat. It’s a while before Hobbs is even allowed to hit a ball at batting practice. When he does, he knocks it out of the park. That begins a series of wins for the Knights.

The co-owner of the baseball team, however, doesn’t want them to win because he’ll have to sell his share of the team back to Pops. To divert Hobbs’ attention, the Judge, gets the beautiful Kim Basinger to date Hobbs. Pops is her uncle and considers her bad luck for Hobbs and the team. When a man thinks with his small head instead of his big one, he usually gets himself in trouble. Hobbs does just that and the teams starts losing again.

Enter Glenn Close, the girl from his past.

She knows the playing ability Roy Hobbs has and doesn’t want to see him lose. She goes to the game when the team is playing in Chicago and steps up in the crowd of people when Hobbs is at bat. He catches a glimpse of her and naturally hits a home run, knocking the ball into a tall clock tower and shattering the glass. The question is who will have the strongest pull on Hobbs—Glenn Close or Kim Basinger? Will Hobbs get his winning streak back? Will the Knights win the pennant? Will Pops Fisher lose the team to the Judge?

This is a feel-good movie about a man down on his luck, who rises to become a hero against all the obstacles placed in front of him. This is a movie that makes you cheer the goodness in humanity and the sheer will to succeed against those who would have it otherwise.

The film has an unbelievable cast that includes: Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Wilford Brimley, Barbara Hershey, Robert Prosky, Richard Farnsworth, Robert Duvall, Darren McGavin, Joe Don Baker, Michael Madsen, and Mike Starr. It’s not often a cast of this caliber is pulled together for a sports movie. Here’s a bit of movie trivia. Robert Prosky who plays the Judge also starred in Rudy and played the former dean of Notre Dame, a Catholic priest who helps Rudy along the way.

The music in The Natural by Randy Newman raises the level of the film from a really good movie to a great one. You’ll be humming the theme for days once you’ve seen it. I remember buying the soundtrack when the movie originally came out.

The second disc in this set has over three hours of behind-the-scenes featurettes with at least an hour devoted to the making of the movie. There’s a lot of stuff here on baseball and many of the true incidents that inspired the writing of the novel. This makes the DVD set a great one in my opinion.

If you like Field of Dreams and Rudy, you’ll love this movie. You don’t even have to be a baseball fan to enjoy it…just someone who likes to see the underdog finally win.

A few remarks about Angelina Jolie's bare-leg pose at the Oscars!

Like most red-blooded males, I'm strongly attracted to Angelina Jolie. She's not only beautiful, but a highly intelligent woman who goes after what she wants. Sorry, Jennifer. She's also a fabulous actress who's not afraid to tackle hard roles outside of the action genre. The Huffington Post asked Angie about her now famous bare-leg pose at the Oscars. Angie said she wasn't even thinking about it when she unconsciously struck the pose on television.

Yeah, right.

I watched the Academy Awards show and caught the famous pose when she appeared on stage to present the Oscars for Best Sound Editor. I think that's what it was for. Naturally, when she assumed her now famous pose, my mouth dropped open, and I immediately wished I was Brad Pitt. Then I thought about the six children with more on the way and decided looking was much better in the long run. When the men came up on stage to accept their awards and two mimicked Angelina by sticking their legs out to the side, I laughed out loud. It was perfect and funny at the same time. What Angelina should have done, though it's too late now, is to have walked over to the men and given them some better instructions on how to pose like her, which would have brought down the house. I think she momentarily felt insulted and that people were laughing at her. I noticed that immediately afterwards, when the camera turned back on her, the shot was from the waist up. We couldn't see any leg this time. She had the perfect opportunity to out do Billy Crystal and to gain some extremely positive media attention from the whole incident.

Let's face it, Angie is a lovely and very sexy woman. She knew exactly what she was doing with the pose, though she claims she wasn't thinking about it or even aware of the striking posture. Women know when they look good and when men are staring at them with their mouths hanging open. This is one of the facts of life. She gave the same pose out on the red carpet for the photographers. The pose was provocative as it was meant to be. She should have laughed the whole thing off and played along.

I know Brad was laughing in the audience when the sound editors struck their famous pose. Brad has a sense of humor. I'm not so sure about Angie. I know I wouldn't want her pissed off at me because I've seen her kick some serious butt in the movies. I suspect when she looked directly at Brad, he quickly closed his mouth and adopted a serious expression on his face to match hers.