Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Redhead of the Week

Okay, okay, this is a repeat. I know that. This is a CONTEST! Leave a comment about this redhead, telling me ANYTHING about where The Famous Author met her, her name, or what she does for a living, and you'll win a free BIG MONEY world tour staff T-shirt. What a deal.
No hints, either. Come on you redhead fans. How about all you guys in South America who keep dropping in for the redheads? Remember this one?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Vicious Dog Eats Author

OK, the last time I saw him, The Famous Author was napping on this couch. When I climbed out of the computer case an hour or so later, there was this big brown dog on the couch licking his lips.

Maybe TFA went to the beach.

Friday, July 25, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 51

Clooneys bar is lousy with pretty, sophisticated women. But all the other birds fade into a gray background with Gina perched among them.

Arrow-straight, raven-shiny hair covers her ears and splits in two over each shoulder. Wonder how she lost the curls? Below a trim row of bangs, Gina’s super-sized, almond-shaped eyes are shadowed like an Egyptian princess. A thick necklace of oblong gold rectangles completes the Cleopatria package.

I bow before sliding onto the stool beside her. “You summoned me, your Highness?”

Actually, Clooneys was sort of my idea. I found Gina’s message saying she wanted to talk when I came home from the courthouse. I suggested a drink overlooking the ocean, maybe dinner if we found the right mood. Sure I’m kinda half in love with Franny. She’ll always be Ms. Strawberry, a vision across the Martha’s crowded upstairs barroom. But one-half for Franny still leaves one-half for Gina, right?

“I hear you refused to identify Mama Bones to the state Grand Jury today,” Gina as Cleopatria says. Her long fingers twirl a classic martini glass.

“And I thought grand jury proceedings were secret.” I check my surroundings, make sure our conversation doesn’t become public information as well.

“A friend of a friend was in the room,” Gina says. “She said Chapman went ballistic.”

“Promised to put me away for twenty years. She’s really pissed.”

Gina sips her drink. “I think I might know why.”

The bartender’s gaze asks me what I want. I order a double Wild Turkey on the rocks, wondering where Gina’s going with this one. Not much of a secret why Franny’s feeling foul.

“Okay, I’ll bite,” I say. “Besides the fact I stiffed her on my testimony, maybe ruined her case, why is Captain Franny Chapman all over my ass?”

“Because she and Anne Marie were good friends. I saw them together once.”

“When? Where?” My heart rate ticks higher.

“It was five or six years ago,” Gina says. “I saw them at a private party in northern New Jersey. Tony went out one night to play poker. I was jealous, so when it got late I drove to his friend’s, found Tony and his pals frolicking with four half-naked prostitutes. Two of them were Anne Marie and Frances Chapman--or Dahler, was she was known then.”

“Why didn’t you say something before?”

“I didn’t put it together until this afternoon when I saw the picture of Chapman in the newspaper. It reminded me of Anne Marie, the two of them that night. That’s when I left the message on your telephone.”

“You’re sure about this?” I say. “Talbot and Chapman were prostitutes?”

“I can’t swear they were pros. But I’m positive they were two of the four girls acting like it that night. They loved it when I plastered Tony with his friend’s five-thousand-dollar Tiffany lamp. Tony needed eighteen stitches.”

How did two mob party girls find their way into such unlikely government and semi-government employ? One an investigator with the American Assn. Of Securities Dealers, the other a Captain with the New Jersey State Troopers? Could explain how Franny knew about Talbot’s tooth-removal trick.

Or is Gina delivering a ton of horse shit here?

If so, why?

“Let’s pretend you’re right,” I say. “How does Anne Marie’s past play into her murder? Is it connected to Franny being so hot to put Bluefish away?”

Gina raises an eyebrow. “Oh, it’s Franny now?”

Oops. I give her the full-boat Carr sheepish grin. “I was locked up with her for two days. I got tired of calling her captain.”

“Sounds like you two got to know each other pretty well.” Gina smiles like she knows what happened in my bedroom Sunday afternoon.

My bourbon arrives. I taste it. Still the same. Like the Kentucky woods, dark and sunny at the same time. “Well, it was close. But I didn’t play my cards right.”

Gina laughs, and then leans across the space between us and kisses my cheek. Her lips are cool against my skin. “You’re cute,” she says.

Sexy would be my first choice. Cute doesn’t make the top ten. But all in all, cute ain’t bad. I’ve certainly been labeled by worse adjectives. Silly. Stupid. Sexually retarded, I found most objectionable.

Gina finishes her martini. “I heard something else, too. The story Mama Bones told you was right. The initial Branchtown Police investigation did find a DVD and recording equipment in the next hotel room. The equipment was connected to a tiny hidden camera in Talbot’s room. Supposedly, the DVD showed the actual murder.”

“How could that be?” I say. “I mean, wouldn’t they have arrested the murderer by now?”

“The cops claim to have lost it,” Gina says. “That’s why Detective Mallory was suspended and will likely be indicted. The Seaside County prosecutor thinks Mallory destroyed the DVD to protect someone.”

“Where did you hear this?”

“Same person that was inside the Grand Jury room today. That friend of a friend.”

“Pretty impressive information, Gina. Think your friend knows what she’s talking about?”

“I’d say you can count on it. Shall we order dinner? I’m starving.”

I make my move after dessert, suggesting a nightcap at my apartment. Unfortunately, Gina’s not buying, and frankly I’m a little surprised. Not only did I maintain the full-boat Carr grin for over an hour, but she called me, right? I can’t believe she agreed to meet just so she could tell me about Anne Marie and Franny being party girls.

“I like you, Austin, and God knows my marriage was in bad shape when Tony died. But it’s just too soon for me to be dating. Try me in six months.”

Right. In six months Gina will be married again and pregnant with twins.

I should have cut the grinning and just kissed her.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Boy, Can We Pick'em

Long time readers of The Crimes have, no doubt, already noted the absence of hot tips here lately. Though it was our intent to make all of you rich, the housing crisis and $140 oil have made our stock market predictions look...well, less than successful. Hell, why pussyfoot? My hot tip was not only worse that The Famous Author's, putting our dwindling funds into Image Entertainment Inc. (DISK) was an outright DISASTER.

DISK closed Wednesday at $1.17 a share. We bought 2,000 shares last February at $2.15. Our original capital, $7,500, is now down to $2,700. For anybody that still cares, Image Entertainment, Inc. is an independent licensee, producer and distributor of home entertainment programming. They lost a buck a share in the most recent fiscal year, but they think they might make a profit in 2009.

Good luck.

We bought the stock on a tip that the merger, which ran the stock to $4 and then fell apart, might be reinstated, or another partner might be found at $3.50.

The one saving grace in all this: EVERYbody's hot tip sucked. One tipster gave me DISK, but...

...another gave me American Apparel (AAP). Told me the product line was taking off, the stock was a steal at $13. It's now $6.20.

And another tipster gave me Middlebrook Pharmaceutical at $4, said it had a new system for coating drugs that was sure to attract a big merger partner. MBRK closed yesterday at $2.30.

In all honesty, it's been a tough year for tipsters. At least for the guys betting long (on prices rising). What we should have done back in February, when we were trying to recover from TFA's ugly losses, was bet the farm on stock market PUTS--bets that stock prices would fall.

That I'm tempted to finally see the light and go short is a sure sign the market has turned. Let's stick with DISK a while longer. At least until I can dig up something that will work.

Maybe a magic lamp.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Redhead of the Week

Dana Welles Delany, 52, is an American actress known especially for her two-time Emmy Award winning performance as Colleen McMurphy on the ABC television show, China Beach (1988–91), and for her role as Katherine Mayfair on Desperate Housewives. Not your typical Austin Carr favorite redhead, Dana is an ass-kicker. Forget the promotional photo. You want to have Ms. D with you when your car breaks down in a bad part of town.

Born in New York City, she attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, then Wesleyan University. She was cast as Colleen McMurphy on China Beach, airing from 1988 to 1991, which brought intense media attention to the actress. This role not only garnered two Emmy Awards, but two other Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations.

Leveraging the newfound fame, she appeared in films such as Light Sleeper (1992), Housesitter (1992), Tombstone (1993), and Fly Away Home (1996), plus TV movies such as Promise to Keep (1991) and Wild Palms (1993). She accepted controversial roles, such as Margaret Sanger in the TV movie Choices of the Heart (1995), Mistress Lisa in the 1994 feature film Exit to Eden (adapted from the Anne Rice book), and an Emmy-nominated role as a gun-owning mother in an episode of the TV series Family Law (1999) (which was not rerun, due to sponsorship withdrawal).

Since the mid-1990s, Delany has served on the board of the Scleroderma Research Foundation, and with her friend Sharon Monsky, she helped campaign for support in finding a cure for scleroderma. Working with director Bob Saget, Dana starred in the TV movie For Hope (1996), based on Saget's sister Gay, who had died as a result of the disease.

Her Official Web Site, online since 1996, includes a guestbook in which she participates. Click on the headline, Redhead of the Week, to see Dana's site.

Thanks to Dana, Wikipedia, and a great show we miss, China Beach.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I felt a WHOLE lot better about my future while The Famous Author worked on BIG MOJO. Even during the rewrites, there I was, talking and having adventures on the page every day, wedged into TFA's brain like a bad habit.

But suddenly, The Boss is gone.

An old fashion summer vacation, he says. Stretched out on the beach. Jumping the waves when the sun gets too hot. But there's something TFA isn't telling me. I'm sure of it. He's been scratching notes with a pen and paper. I can hear him writing every early morning, as always, but---gulp!---the story must not involve me. I am not being consulted, thrown situations for my reaction. Seriously, this can only mean one thing:

TFA is working with another protagonist.

Oh, gosh, I hope it's not serious. Just a fling, maybe even a one-night stand. I can take his infidelity. As long as he comes home. Writes about ME again.

Oh, gosh.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 50

Seaside County, N.J.
Forensic Pathology Summary
Body No. 244: Talbot, Anne Marie
External Examination

Body is clothed in a green, acetate-rayon dress which has been scorched, melted and destroyed along the tops of both shoulders. Burns are visibly consistent with position of body to portable charcoal burner and fire damage at scene.

A hand-lens examination of the burned fabric reveals loose fragments of victim’s carbonized tissue. Body is wearing no undergarments, stockings, or shoes.

I glance up at Franny. “Talbot didn’t strike me as the kind of woman who dressed commando.”

“Maybe you raped her and kept her panties as a souvenir,” Franny says.

So much for playing Sherlock. Back to my perusal.

I think Franny’s mad she didn’t get to award me her previously offered carrot.

Body is that of an adult female Caucasoid, sixty-five and one-half inches in length, one-hundred twenty-nine pounds in weight. Outward appearance consistent with stated age of thirty-four years. Hair and eye-color are indeterminable due to carbonization and/or destruction of all indicative facial and cranial tissues. Portions of the left sphenoid bone, left eye orbit, the left zygomatic bone and arch, as well as the left portions of the maxilla and manible are exposed and burned.

Visible contusions on victim’s neck suggest manual strangulation prior to burning, although condition of surviving tissue prevents observation of typical asphyxia results, i.e., broken facial capillaries and/or cranial hemorrhaging.

Examination of oral cavity reveals absence of all teeth and indications of prior elective removal. Matches dental records of stated victim.

Visible carbonization and destruction of tissue on thumbs and fingers. Suggests effort to prevent or delay identification.

Back and buttocks unremarkable.

There are no tattoos or significant scars.

Rigor mortis is firmly established. Lividity is prominent and consistent with position of body at scene.

The internal examination tells me more than any normal person would want to know about liver weight and stomach contents, but a couple of phrases catch my eye. One, the doc’s exam of the respiratory system “strongly indicates manual strangulation as cause of death,” and two, all of Anne Marie’s burns were “administered post-mortem.”

Choke dead, then burn. Kinda like kicking a dead horse. Suggests a lot of anger to me.

“What I find interesting is that the woman may not be Anne Marie Talbot at all,” Zimmer says. “You don’t even know the victim’s eye color.”

Guess Mr. Z was reading over my shoulder.

“The DNA results are due tomorrow,” Franny says.

Mr. Z shoots up from his chair, nods for me to stand beside him. “Then call us when your intuition becomes reality. Mr. Carr is done with your questioning for today. And he will no longer accept protective custody.”

“The body is Anne Marie Talbot,” Franny says. Without getting up, she points her right forefinger at me. “And if he didn’t kill her, he knows who did.”

Mr. Z glares at her. “The truth is, Ms. Chapman, you are angry with my client over his testimony before the Grand Jury this morning. That anger caused you to falsely imprison Mr. Carr for several hours today. At present, I am only considering charges, but I can assure you there will be serious legal consequences if this department continues using emotion to guide its actions.”

Franny doesn’t blink. “Are you curious what I think is interesting about this forensic summary?”

Zimmer clutches my arm. We show Franny our backs as he reaches for the doorknob. Mr. Z’s manicured fingernails are as perfect as clear plastic.

“Only two reasons I know to have your teeth surgically removed,” Franny says. “Singers sometimes do it for the sound, to change their tone or timbre. Prostitutes do it to give better blow-jobs.”

I try to stop--gee, that’s interesting about the teeth--but Zimmer pushes me through the open doorway. My right heel skids a few inches in protest.

“I think you found something in Talbot’s past and tried to blackmail her into changing that report,” Franny says. She finally pushes herself up from the walnut table. “When Talbot wouldn’t cooperate, wouldn’t let Shore off the hook, you killed her.”

Over his shoulder, Mr. Z says, “You should be in Hollywood writing screenplays.”

Franny peeks into the hallway as we’re walking away, but Zimmer’s hand is still on my elbow. Two uniformed cops strut side-by-side toward us down the otherwise empty passage. A window behind them casts moving, undefined shadows between us. Their shoes click ominously on the marble floor.

“You’re going to jail very soon, Carr,” Franny says. She brushes a thick strand of blonde hair behind her ear. “Murder. Conspiracy. At the very least, perjury and lying to a state prosecutor.”

“Good day, Ms. Chapman,” Mr. Z says.

“And maybe that A.A.S.D. report on Shore should be part of my court filings on Bluefish this afternoon.”

I don’t understand her threat until Mr. Z explains on the courthouse steps. If Franny includes Talbot’s preliminary A.A.S.D. report in the complaint against Bluefish, Talbot’s co-mingling charges against Shore will be public record. Accessible to the newspapers.

If the reporters dig it up--and it sounds like Franny will make sure they do--the headlines alone are going to bury us.

My shares in Shore Securities won’t be worth the price of a first-class stamp. Only scholarships will put my kids through college.

I’ll be back living in a freakin’ camper.

Click on the headline for a brand new review of BIG MONEY

Friday, July 18, 2008

Forgotten Books

Internet personality and crime writer Patti Abbott invited The Famous Author to participate in Forgotten Book Friday today, so naturally the next chapter of my latest adventure is being postponed until tomorrow. TFA treats me like a slave, I tell you. Is this MY blog, or his? The only saving grace--well, actually, there's a couple: We like Patti and her daughter, recent Edgar winner Megan Abbott; TFA says it's good publicity for our series; and best of all, TFA picked one of our favorite stories to write about.

With no more grumbling from me, here's TFA's entry in Forgotten Book Friday for July 18, 2008. Read what a dozen other authors are picking as their favorite forgotten book by clicking the headline FORGOTTEN BOOKS and jumping to Patti's site.

Sleeping Dogs by Thomas Perry, Reviewed by Jack Getze

Browsing the bookstore in 1992, looking for a new crime novel, the title SLEEPING DOGS caught my eye. I’d never heard of its author, Thomas Perry, but the back cover copy closed the sale.

“He calls himself Michael Shaeffer, says he’s a retired American businessman. He goes to the races, dates a kinky aristocrat, and sleeps with dozens of weapons. Ten years ago it was different. Then, he was the Butcher’s Boy, the highly skilled mob hit man who pulled a slaughter job on some double-crossing clients and started a mob war. Ever since there’s been a price on his head.”

I put the book down once and only once. It was that first night, and in the first chapter. It was late. I was tired. The opening seemed a little slow. A mysterious man meets an English lady. But the next day, when I got through chapter one and started two, wow. I was hooked, off and running with no time for family, work, or the hobbies which then consumed me. I had to follow Michael’s story until it finished. The mob had found him in England, and although he’d made short work of two hired assassins there, Michael had decided there was nothing to do but go back to the United States and...

Kill them all.

Over 300 pages later, I put down one of the best reads I’ve even been fortunate enough to stumble across. If someone had asked me in the middle of it, is Thomas Perry a good writer, a wordsmith, I would have had to answer, I don’t know. I’m not paying attention to the words. I am inside this story, living it with Michael Shaeffer, and please do not interrupt me again.

The phrase nonstop action is overused. Pick up ten books, you’ll see one reviewer say that about five of them. But nonstop action in a crime novel could be defined by SLEEPING DOGS. When Michael returns to the U.S., it’s one confrontation after another, one man hunt after another, a new name change in a new city with new dangers.

You never get to catch your breath, even in the brief flashbacks. Check out page 69 in my 1992 paperback:

“Eddie Mastrewski must have been about forty on the winter day in Cleveland when they had sat in the car and watched the man walking through the snow toward the parking lot, and had both realized that if Eddie used his gun someone would hear...so Eddie chased the man down and killed him quietly with a tire chain.”

Today, of course, Thomas Perry is a staple of the industry and my library. I buy each one of his new novels in hardback, hoping upon hope that this new one will match the intensity and sheer joyful reading of SLEEPING DOGS. Mr. Perry comes close each time, close enough to please me and make me glad I bought the book.

But I’ve never read another one of his, or any other author, that pulled me through a story beginning to end like SLEEPING DOGS.

Thanks, Patti, for asking The Boss to participate. I just love giving up my blog space to TFA. AC

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Redhead of the Week

Marcia Anne Cross, 46, is the Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated Bree Hodge on the hit TV show, Desperate Housewives. Forty-six sounds young to my boss, The Famous Author, but Marcia would be out of my normal range of dating prospects. I say normally, because Marcia definitely has what it takes to overcome such prejudice.

Marcia started her television career on the hit TV soap, The Edge of Night, in 1984. A graduate of the Juilliard School in New York, she also earned a master's degree in psychology at LA's Antioch University. Prior to Desperate Housewives, Marcia starred on the critically-acclaimed series, Everwood. She is also well known for her portrayal of the mentally unbalanced Dr. Kimberly Shaw on Melrose Place, whom she played from 1992 to 1997.

In June 2005, Marcia married Tom Mahoney, a stockbroker (gasp!) whom she'd been dating for six months, in front of 200 guests at the Church of Our Savior Episcopal Parish in San Gabriel, California.

TFA says he graduated from San Gabriel High School, about two miles from that church. Wonder why we weren't invited? Maybe Tom works for Merrill Lynch.

Thanks to Wikipedia, Marcia, and the former Mayor of San Gabriel, John Tapp

Sunday, July 13, 2008

NYC Traffic Tie-Up Expected

Manhattan girds its loins for a big celebrity visit next week. Traffic lanes are being revised. Police schedules blossom with planned overtime. Garbage pickups have been postponed along the proposed entry and exit routes.

That's right, The Famous Author and I are coming to Manhattan.

What did you think? Brad Pitt and what's her name? Obama's ex-reverend? Well, not exactly. In fact, I may have slightly exaggerated New York City's preparations. But TFA and I are in fact coming to Manhattan next Tuesday night, TFA giving up his annual night in front of the tube for baseball's all-star game to moderate a panel on humorous mysteries. We'll be representing the New York City Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America.

The New York Library's Mid Manhattan branch is the scene of the crime. Check us out if you're in the neighborhood of 40th Street and 5th Avenue at 6:30 pm Tuesday. If TFA says I'm not with him, make him open his computer case and he'll give you a free T-shirt.

Friday, July 11, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 49

Franny Chapman trashes her empty Starbucks cup, snaps open her briefcase, and seizes a red manila folder. My aces lawyer, Randall Zimmer, Esq., begins to tap the eraser-end of his pencil on a new pad of lined yellow legal paper. The preliminaries are over. It’s time, lady and gentleman, for the main event.

Franny pushes an eight-by-ten glossy photograph at us across the polished walnut desk. After handcuffing me in the grand jury room and locking me up, not letting me use the telephone for three hours, Franny now has questions. A minor Chapman-Zimmer skirmish in the hallway was followed by calmer negotiation which led to the three of us sitting down in this courthouse conference room.

“Talbot told you about the A.A.S.D. report she’d prepared,” Franny says. “You knew those co-mingling charges would ruin your business. But when you went to her room that night, you probably weren’t intending to kill her. So what happened? You argued and lost your temper?”

I glance at the photograph. It’s a black-and-white shot of Anne Marie Talbot after the murderer choked and burned her, a close-up of her barbecued head. At least that’s what the black-marker printing says on the back. Could be a horror-movie prop, or a ruined, bone-in roast. The disgusting, barely human thing seems to be oozing some kind of black gravy.

Mr. Zimmer saying, “My client’s alibi is well established, Ms. Chapman. Should you decide to prosecute him for Ms. Talbot’s murder, you will in fact be the first witness I depose.”

Zimmer’s hawk-like eyes are the same dark caramel as the walnut desk. Looking at him, feeling the love, I am deeply and truly sorry for every lawyer joke I ever told. When you need one, a clever, juiced, and tough-in-the-clinches attorney can save your sorry ass. Spending the big bucks goes down easy when your job or even a prison sentence’s at stake. Right this second, having Mr. Z for a champion glows inside me like a double-shot of forty-year-old bourbon.

“Would you mind looking this over as well?” Franny says. She shoves a three or four-page document at me, loose pages stapled together in the upper left corner.

Despite Mr. Z’s mighty parry and thrust, El Cap-i-tan’s green eyes shine with confidence. I saw a lightning flash of defeat in the Grand Jury room earlier, but now Ms. Strawberry’s back on offense, certain of her superior firepower and numbers. God, I love strong women.

I pick up the stapled papers wondering what the hell Franny throws at me now, but I wait until Mr. Z gives me the okay before I read. If you’re paying five-hundred an hour for advice, it’s important to listen. Lawyers also like you better, work harder, when you follow orders. Especially big German ones.

Page one is like a cover sheet. A centered title. Oh, my. I’ve never read a Forensic Pathology Summary before. Must be like an autopsy report.

Should I put on rubber gloves?


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bonus Redhead This Week

Meet Tammy Jo Trask, or at least how the artists at Berkeley Prime Crime see her. Tammy Jo is the Would-Be Witch of the title, and a hot number due to break into the world of fiction this coming February. The debut author, Kimberly Frost, is pretty cute, too, but she's a human. Me, I'm partial to my own kind--characters--plus we've already run a shot of Kim.

Kimberly attended last winter's now infamous "Fiesta de Fiction" in St. Petersburg, that all star lineup of future writing stars assembled by TFA himself. Like TFA, Kimberly is also a familiar face at Writers Retreat Workshop in Kentucky, and back in May, helped TFA brave the wilds of downtown Houston for some Chinese Food.

Congratulations, Kim. TFA is very proud of you. And I kind of like what you've created, too. Especially that red hair.

Click on the headline to see Kim's blog.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Redhead of the Week

Born in Brooklyn as Margarita Carmen Cansino, Hollywood film star Rita Hayworth was the daughter of a Spanish flamenco dancer and a Ziegfeld girl. At 16, and already an accomplished professional dancer, Hayworth was signed by Fox Studios in 1935, but often worked for other studios, including Columbia Pictures, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, and Warner Brothers for the title role in Raoul Walsh's The Strawberry Blonde (1941) with James Cagney.

Rita's sex symbol status was created in 1941 with Bob Landry's Life magazine photograph of her kneeling on her bed in a silk and lace nightgown. Five million copies were sold, and the photo became a famous wartime pinup.

Hayworth's well-known films include: You'll Never Get Rich (1941) and You Were Never Lovelier (1942), both with Fred Astaire, who cited Hayworth as his favorite dancing partner; My Gal Sal (1942) with Victor Mature; and her best known musical, Cover Girl (1944) with Gene Kelly.

Hayworth left her film career in 1948 to marry the Pakistani Prince Ali Khan, who was the vice-president of the United Nations General Assembly representing Pakistan. He was also the son of Aga Khan III, the leader of the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam.

After the marriage ended in 1951, Hayworth returned to America to film a string of hit films and a couple of more husbands. She was married five times: Edward C. Judson (1937–1943); Orson Welles (1943–1948); Prince Aly Khan (1949–1953); Dick Haymes (1953–1955); and James Hill (1958–1961).

Thanks to Rita, Wikipedia, and the Dancing Cansinos

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Casablanca in the Rain

No sun on the New Jersey Shore for the third day in a row. Figures. As soon as The Famous Author and I begin our vacation, the rains come and stay like a complaining mother-in-law. So it was that TFA and I found ourselves in front of the television early in the afternoon today, and--oh, boy--we found our favorite movie.


It's a great story, well told, for a bunch of reasons, including: (a) Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman; (b) the sad ending in which true love is denied for the greater good; and (c) the mystery of Bogie and Ingrid's backstory, explained, finally, in a perfectly set-up flashback. (She makes Sam play the song; then Bogie makes Sam play the song, Bogie's eyes get misty, and suddenly we're back in Paris as Sam plays the song and the Germans take the city.)

Gosh, it's a romantic movie. The way they look at each other, but we don't know why. The pressure and danger of encroaching war. Who she's married to, why Bogie is torn between the girl and the cause. How he doesn't know the full story until...

Like so many treasured books and movies, Casablanca wasn't a big hit when it came out. Only over time has this studio-scripted tale become the classic that it is.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Title for the Boss

The Famous Author is the newly named Editor of Spinetingler Magazine, an ezine featuring quality fiction and interviews with prominent crime and horror authors. I'm running this announcement, buttering up my boss, because I'm hoping his appointment could lead to additional adventures for me. I mean, if he's going to be editing short stories, shouldn't he try writing a few?

Spinetingler's co-founder, Sandra Ruttan, remains Editor-in-Chief and the ezine's driving force.TFA started helping her out with the fiction editing last winter, and now takes on the full-time job in conjunction with Spinetingler's recent move to Mystery Bookspot.

It's about time the boss got off his butt, did something besides galavant all over the country, pretending to be famous. You can see his name on the new Spinetingler masthead by clicking on the headline, A TITLE FOR THE BOSS, and scrolling down past the Table of Contents. Fiction selected by TFA won't show up until the Fall issue.

Friday, July 4, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 48

“Could you repeat the question, please?”

Quiet, individual sighs blend into a raucous, collective groan that echoes around the oak-paneled Trenton courtroom like a barking pit bull. The wave of verbal animosity finally crashes over me and dissipates.

Seems my dumb responses and other delaying tactics wear thin on the assembled State Grand Jury. Gee, I’ve only been on the witness stand two hours. And I’ve already given them my name and address.

“Mr. Carr, please pay attention,” Franny says. “This is very important. You’re taking up the grand jury’s time. Now, once again, look around the courtroom. Do you see the woman who had Anthony Farascio's body removed from Butch’s restaurant that night?”

Franny sports quite the courtroom demeanor. Impressively dressed. Authoritative. Articulate. In possession of all the facts. And pissed as hell at me for dragging this out, although staying very much in control for her audience.

“Please, Mr. Carr. Look at the target of this investigation. Do you see that woman from the restaurant here today?”

I have to admire the way Franny uses word emphasis. Every gaze in the courtroom focuses on Mama Bones. Hard not to, the way Franny drags her description out. I’ve heard any good prosecutor includes acting classes in his or her training, but Franny might need an agent.

I stare at Mama Bones. Her gray hair. The sharp eyes that miss nothing. And dressed today like the sweetest grandma you ever saw, including blue hair, hand-knitted shawl, and aluminum walker.

“Mr. Carr. Please.”

Guess it’s time to get this over with. I take one last deep breath before I drop the five-hundred pounder: “I can’t be sure.”

Franny’s cheeks flush. “What did you say?”

I search the back of the courtroom for something to focus on. I memorize the details of the double-door’s right side, the six-inch brass hinges. “I said ‘I can’t be sure’ it’s the same woman.”

El Cap-i-tan’s sea-green eyes burst into flames. The small courtroom barks again with whispered conversations. A knot expands inside my gut. Reminds me of the time I farted at Susan’s parent’s Christmas dinner.

Franny almost spits at me. “Mr. Carr, you identified this woman, by name, on two...no, three separate occasions. In your sworn statement to my office, in fact, you described Angelina Bonacelli exactly, and swore under oath, on the Bible, that you’d known this woman by sight for more than seven years.”

I nod in complete agreement. “Of course I know Mama Bones. She’s the mother of my business partner, Vick Bonacelli. I just don’t know for sure she was the woman in that restaurant.”

Franny snatches some papers off the prosecutor’s table. “You were certain before. My transcript shows you voluntarily mentioned Angelina “Mama Bones” Bonacelli, by name, as the woman who supervised the disposal of Anthony Farascio's body.”

What drama. Franny’s long pointing finger reminds me of Madame Lafarge.

“Yes, that’s true,” I say. “That’s what I thought. What I’m saying now is, though, I’m can’t be sure the woman in that restaurant was the same woman I see sitting here today. I just can’t be certain.”

Franny’s cheeks puff like balloons. Then air hisses out between her teeth like a punctured tire.

Next Friday, Chapter 49

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It Happened One Knife

This week is launch time for this second mystery novel in the Double Feature series, written by Jeffrey Cohen and starring Elliot Freed, a divorced guy who buys an ancient, one-screen movie theatre in central New Jersey.

The Famous Author asked me to plug the book, probably because he's trying to kiss up to Cohen, a very successful author of humorous New Jersey mysteries (just like you know who). Me, I decided to highlight the book today because I've spent some alone time with Elliot Freed, and let me tell you, he's a very funny guy.

I really think you should buy this book. For one thing, it's cheaper than two Quarterpounders, fries, and a shake.

So, in IT HAPPENED ONE KNIFE, my buddy Elliot Freed is beyond happy when legendary comics Lillis & Townes appear at his newly refurbished, all-comedy theater. But when insinuations arise that the duo were involved in a decades-old Hollywood murder, Elliot sets out to prove the rumors wrong.

I promise you one thing. Elliot will make you laugh. I mean look at the author...Jeff Cohen (far right).

Click on the headline for Jeff's Website.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Redhead of the Week

Voted The Girl I'd Most Like to Put Me in Handcuffs, TV-cop Alicia Witt was discovered by David Lynch when she appeared on the television show That's Incredible! in 1980, where she recited Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. He cast her in the movie Dune (1984), where she turned eight during filming.

She was home schooled by her parents, and studied piano at Boston University, winning several national and international classical piano competitions. She can tinkle my keys, if she wants.

At age 14, Witt earned her high school diploma. Shortly thereafter, she moved to Hollywood with her mother to pursue an acting career. Soon, Lynch, to whom she refers as a mentor, created the role of Gersten Hayward especially for her in his successful series Twin Peaks.

This redhead supported herself out there by playing piano at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

As Detective Nola Falacci on Law and Order, Criminal Intent, Alicia can be cold and calculating in her investigation methods. No one – not even authority figures in the criminal justice world – intimidates her. No one is outside the possibility of being marked as a suspect.

Thanks Alicia, Wikipedia, and David (I can spot'em!) Lynch.