Friday, 3 June 2016

More Shameless Self Promotion!

As you know, my mystery novel A MINT CONDITION CORPSE is now on sale as an e-book from Fahrenheit Press.

You literally have zero excuses to not buy it.

Now go buy it, come back, read the rest of this blog post, then go to this site, pick up the books by the other members of Fahrenheit's Rogues Gallery, then read my book and post a review.

You can get an entire summer's reading for less than $30.

That's a downright crazy bargain.

What do you think Captain America?

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Buy My Book!

My geek-centric mystery thriller A MINT CONDITION CORPSE is now available for your e-reader from Fahrenheit Press.

Buy it, leave an honest review, and spread the word. 

The more copies that sell, the more likely I'll be able to write a sequel.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Hollywood Babble On & On #1263: Some Shilling Then It Gets Offensive...


Okay, if you're a regular reader of my blog, or my Twitter feed, you will know that I sold a novel to Fahrenheit Press of Los Angeles. Soon A MINT CONDITION CORPSE will be available. It's what I call a "nerd noir" a satirical whodunnit set at a comic book convention starring a brilliant geek detective named KIRBY BAXTER, and his Scooby gang of friends.

So I'm putting out a call to any and all people who are taste-makers in the geek community, or they know taste makers, for some help. We can arrange preview copies of the book, for perusal, and if you, or they, like it, please get the word out. 

I need all the help I can get to get people to read this book. Those who do seem to enjoy it, so the more the merrier.

If you have any leads, let me know, either by my e-mail or via Twitter, and I'll make arrangements with my publisher.

Thanks in advance.

Now onto…


For a brief period SNL alumni Will Ferrell considered and then dropped out of a gig playing the late actor/governor/president Ronald Reagan with a twist.

That twist was that it was going to be a comedy inspired by the conspiracy theory that the Alzheimer's disease that destroyed the last ten years of Reagan's life secretly happened at the beginning of his second term. The theory goes on to say that he only made it through because his staff, in the movie; a young intern, convinced Reagan that he was playing the president in a movie.

Already Republicans, Reagan relatives, and many others are saying this is an offensive idea spawned by deep seeded political malice. The outrage probably was what scared Ferrell off the project in the end.

I also have something to add.

It will be an enormous waste of money and time.

The financiers would be better off putting the budget in a pile and setting it on fire. At least that way they can maybe have a wiener roast.
An even better idea is that they could give the budget to me, and let me make something worth watching, or just to live a lush lifestyle.

That's because this film falls into the far edge of what I call the Offend/Bore Matrix. That's where a film dealing with a controversial subject, like politics and/or religion is so aggressively partisan that it can only offend the opposite side of the issue and bore those who agree with the filmmaker.

But when you get out to the far edge, like this idea, you slip into the realm of the Offend/Creep region. That means that its militant partisanship has gone too far, and has become toxic, making anyone who likes it look like a creep.


Let's say you are a partisan Democrat. You despised Ronald Reagan and think he was the spawn of hell.

That's fine, you have a right to have your opinion of a politician. But there's that little something extra to this script, and that's Alzheimer's Disease.

Do you want to be known as the person who laughs at someone with Alzheimer's Disease?

Bring in Alzheimer's disease and political affiliations tend to fall by the wayside, and it slips into the realm of intense personal suffering.

Very few would find that kind of soul-destroying suffering funny, even if it happened to a Republican, and even fewer would publicly admit to finding it funny solely because it happens to a Republican.

Imagine this conversation:

A: Did you see the new movie about Reagan. It's the funniest thing ever made. 
B: Isn't that about him having Alzheimer's? 
A: Yeah, and it's hilarious. I laughed so much at his inability to remember things like friends and family. 
B: We didn't find it funny when that happened to my Grandpa. 
A: But this a Republican we're talking about. 
B: So?
A: That makes laughing at Alzheimer's okay! 
B: I can't even look at the trailers or commercials without remembering how bad things got for my Grandfather before he died. 
A: You have no sense of humour.
That might put a damper on the word of mouth.


Actress Scarlett Johansson has been cast in the lead role of an American movie version of the Japanese anime Ghost In The Shell.

This led to cries of outrage that the originally Japanese role hadn't gone to a Japanese actor. Most of the cries of "whitewashing" came from Asian-American organizations, and a lot of angry white people.

But do you know who wasn't offended by the casting?

The Japanese.

Most Japanese pundits and media outlets don't really care about Johansson's casting, and many are even enthusiastic about it.

The Japanese aren't freaking out over Johansson because they assume that an American version of a Japanese story would have an "American" actor (translation "White"). Part of this is because the Japanese have no qualms doing a Japanese version of a Euro-American story with Japanese versions of those once white characters. Kurosawa adapted several works of Shakespeare and the tropes of the American Western movie into many of his samurai films.

Then there's the other part: Even when it's not a Japanese version of a Euro-American story, but a Japanese story featuring caucasian European or American characters they will still use Japanese actors.

Case in point...

However, cast a Chinese, or Korean actor to play a Japanese character, or vice-versa, and then they get offended.

To explain that would involve explaining centuries of Asia's ethnic politics and prejudices, and I ain't going there.

Does this mean that "whitewashing" is not a problem?


Whitewashing especially of Asian characters is a real problem, and it's part of the short shrift that Asian actors have been getting in Hollywood since the dawn of the medium.

White actors in bad make-up speaking pidgin English have been used to play Asian characters for over a century.  The most infamous being the popular Charlie Chan movies of the 1930s-1940s which managed to make the character of a brilliant detective shorthand for an insulting and offensive stereotype. 

But even when Asian-American actors break through in Hollywood they still got shafted. The first Asian-American movie star,  California born Anna May Wong* was beautiful, talented, and denied most of the plum roles she probably deserved.


There were actual laws on the books against the portrayal of interracial romance or "miscegenation."  That meant that she couldn't even kiss a white co-star on screen, even if he was playing an Asian character.

That meant that she was trapped playing stock or stereotyped characters for most of her career.

Those laws are gone, but the narrow casting of Asian actors in Hollywood continues. Also the recent demands for greater diversity in Hollywood also seem to leave them out.

That isn't right.

Hollywood does need to reflect the wider audience, and to ditch a lot of the stereotypes that hold back not only actors, but the art of storytelling.

But that will take effort, and Hollywood isn't known for spending effort, they just prefer to throw money at empty gestures and hope the problem goes away.


*Anna May Wong was also the inspiration for this classic love song…

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Hollywood Babble On & On #1262: Quo Vadis American Crime Story?

Glad to back my loyal readers. I hope you're still out there.


Sorry it's been soooooo long since I last posted. Things have been busy lately. One the up side, I signed a contract with a publisher in Los Angeles for a mystery novel, and my work as chief caregiver for my parents has been taking up most of my time lately since my mother's knee surgery.

Anyway, enough about me, let's talk about movies and TV.

If you've been missing American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson, you've been missing a treat. It's been wildly entertaining, and stacked with tons of Emmy worthy performances from the entire cast. I haven't seen a single false note in the acting, and more than a few moments of pure performance bliss.

(The scene where David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian lectures his kids on the emptiness of fame without virtue is pure brilliance. I had to rewind to revel in its satiric glory)

But what to do with Season 2?

Well, it seems that the show's driving force Ryan Murphy wants to take the show in a different direction in Season 2. He wants to take it from covering a true crime story with the sort of intense detail that only a TV series can do, and do a fictional story about people living in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. So basically a variation of David Simon's Tremé from HBO, which came and went with some good reviews, but not much in the line of impact.

This seems to be in keeping with Murphy's modus operandi to create a show, deliver really high quality in the first season, then begin whittling away everything people liked about the show in subsequent seasons to diminishing returns in audience satisfaction and ratings. I witnessed this with Murphy's biggest mainstream hit Glee, where my twitter feed went from fans raving about the show, to fans complaining about the show, to fans ignoring the show. The same has happened with his other anthology series American Horror Story, which got raves at the beginning and then faded into a mess of loose narrative strings and steadily declining viewership.

I don't know what happened in the case of Horror Story, but it seems that Crime Story is the victim of a fundamental misunderstanding of the show's success. The people behind the show seem to think that the show's success hinges on issues of race in America.

Like in the real case of O.J. Simpson, race is more of a distraction and an excuse for some decisions than the real heart of the issue. The success of American Crime Story is that they're telling a true story where literally everyone knows the ending so well that it's compelling to watch.

I think there's a market for more true crime, and that Murphy and ACS are fools to just give it up when they've already set themselves up as the gold standard.

Let's look at some cases they could adapt that would be better ideas:

Harry Thaw & Stanford White.  In the 1900s White was a brilliant architect, top dog of New York high society, and an unrepentant lecher. Harry Thaw was the son of nouveau riche industrialists who had the paranoid belief that White had blackballed him from high society, this obsession grew even stronger when he married model and dancer Evelyn Nesbit. Nesbit had been White's mistress when she was a teenager, and may have even been raped by White. This put the already mentally unstable and violently abusive Thaw over the edge and he murdered White in the middle of a nightclub in front of a hundred people.

The trial and its aftermath pretty much birthed the tabloid and scandal culture we have today, and is loaded with so many myths, deceptions, and half-truths it could make compelling viewing. 

Stephanie St. Clair: The Queen of Harlem. This is the story of a woman who came to control the "numbers racket" in Harlem. While Queen she held off the mobsters like the psychopathic Dutch Schultz and became a thorn in the side of corrupt and racist policemen by using her resources to promote civil rights and political reform.

And if business and activism wasn't enough trouble for her, she ended up in a disastrous marriage to a  political activist turned cult leader with messianic and hitlerian tendencies that ended with a gunshot.

The fact that she survived and thrived in these conditions would make a fascinating television show.

You could even cast Travolta as Dutch Schultz, Sterling K. Brown as her right hand Bumpy Johnson, and Courtney B. Vance as St. Clair's charismatic but erratic cult-leader husband Sufi Abdul Hamid who was dubbed the "Black Hitler" by the press.

The Murder of William Desmond Taylor. I wrote a review of the riveting book Tinseltown and I said then that it would make a great series, and I still do.

Anyway, these stories are true and I think they'd really rope in the viewers far better than just another social realist drama about how life is hard in New Orleans.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Hollywood Babble On & On #1261: Whitewashing or Stereotyping?

Sorry I've been so lax with the posting lately. Things have been pretty busy lately, and there just wasn't enough time in the day. It's getting even tighter, but I will try to squeeze out what wisdom I can in the moment I can spare.

Today the term "whitewashing" gets tossed around a lot. The biggest uproar being over The Gods Of Egypt, which featured no Egyptians or anyone who looked Egyptian.

But I'm not talking about that film, because there was a bit of a point behind the criticism.

What I am going to talk about is where some critics are demanding that what they see as whitewashing be fixed by replacing it with a stereotype.

Allow me to explain.

Marvel cast a British actor to play Daniel Rand, also known as Iron Fist, a martial arts master who is partnered with Luke Cage as the Heroes for Hire to be featured on Netflix in Jessica Jones and probably Daredevil someday as well.
A Daredevil appearance is likely since Iron Fist was Daredevil for a while.
Well the outrage was quick in coming.

"WHITEWASHING!" they screamed, or tweeted, and demanded that an Asian actor get the role.

This made me ask 2 questions:

1. Is it really whitewashing?

2. Isn't the proposed solution of replacing Iron Fist with an Asian character stereotyping?

Let's think about it.

1. Iron Fist was always a white character. The whole premise of the character is that he is a Westerner who is taken in by Asian friends of his father after he is orphaned and is fully absorbed into their culture to the point where he dawns the mantle of the Iron Fist.

I guess you could say that it's all about cultural appropriation, but that's another story.

But let's get to stereotyping...

2. If you're an male Asian actor in Hollywood you get cast in one of three roles all the time, and they are:

A. Martial Arts Master
B. Triad Gang Member 
C. Math/Science Geek

How will pigeonholing an Asian actor into one of the three stereotypical Asian roles somehow right this perceived wrong?

Wouldn't it be better to show that there's a commercial viability in seeing an Asian character in a non-stereotypical role? Or if you're not willing to take that leap, at least try to get Marvel to bring in Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu.

Maybe, folks are just looking for something to be offended over so they can tweet about something without the effort of trying to be interesting.

That's what I think, put what you think in the comments.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Hollywood Babble On & On #1260: Why The Oscars Are So White...

With the Oscar nominations out comes the traditional complaining about how weirdly unfair the nominations seem to be.

For the second year in a row all of the acting nominees are white, marking the return of the #OscarSoWhite and #OscarsSoWhite hashtags on twitter as well as threats of boycotts from several prominent black entertainers.
They do have a case. Several African American actors like Michael B. Jordan, and Samuel L. Jackson, and the cast of Straight Outta Compton have put out performances that critics and audiences have considered Oscar worthy. Also the African American directors F. Gary Gray and Ryan Coogler were snubbed even though their films, Straight Outta Compton and Creed, had excellent box office, reviews, and Oscar buzz.
So, why all the snubbing?
Do the Academy members meet around a big table and declare a moratorium on African Americans getting nominations?
Are the individual Academy members so riddled with hate for non-white people they can't bring themselves to nominate African-Americans?
The answer to both questions is: No.
The cause isn't hatred.
The cause is blindness.
You see the Academy members are predominantly older (average age 67), predominantly white, and predominantly politically liberal. 
They are the generation that came of age in the 1950s and 1960s and they see literally EVERYTHING through that lens.
Which brings us to the reasons why Creed and Straight Outta Compton were mostly snubbed: They didn't look like "black films" to the Academy voters.
For someone in the very rarified demographic of an Academy Voter Straight Outta Compton and Creed look radically different from the way everyone else saw them. To an Academy Voter Straight Outta Compton was just a showbiz biopic about a kind of music they don't like, but don't dare admit to not liking, for fear someone will call them racist. 

They also saw Creed as just a sports movie and a comeback vehicle for a previous nominee who has been below their precious radar since the first time he played his signature character.
No one in Compton or Creed are brutalized slaves in the pre-Civil War South, or led Civil Rights marches in the 1960s, or ended up on death row because of a racist justice system manned by white men with heavy southern accents. If they were, then they'd all be up for Oscars, because to Academy voters those are Oscar worthy African-American movies. Instead, the movies featured African-Americans using talent and hard work to succeed in America, and, to various degrees, doing just that.
No martyrs, no Oscar nominations because the Academy just cannot accept them as telling a "sincere" or "real" African-American story, because they lay outside their narrow field of vision.
There is a way to use the Academy's narrow vision to get nominations and awards.
Bryan Cranston was nominated for playing blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in Trumbo, a film whose sole purpose was to get Cranston an Oscar nomination and to do that, it followed a carefully structured formula. 
It was a story about Hollywood, and Academy voters love navel gazing.
It has a martyr, Dalton Trumbo, albeit a Hollywood kind of martyr, who was blacklisted for his politics. For those who don't know, blacklisting meant that he was forced to write screenplays for less money under pseudonyms.
It has a politically acceptable villain, chiefly right-wing American politicians who didn't care for Trumbo's love of the Stalin regime.
It's a perfect white man's Oscar bait film, and it could be performed entirely in gibberish with falsetto voices by a cast wearing clown make-up, it would still get at least one nomination.
Now you're probably sitting in front of your computer or tablet, furrowing your brow and thinking "What about Will Smith in Concussion?"
If the Academy thinks like me, they probably looked at the trailer for Concussion and thought: "Denzel Washington or Idris Elba would have knocked that out of the park. Will Smith just seems too fluffy, to 'movie star' to pull it off." Then they'd see what else was on.

Those are my theories, what are yours?

Friday, 15 January 2016

Hollywood Babble On & On #1259: It's Oscar Time...

Here's the list of Oscar nominations with my commentary possibly coming later...

Best Picture

“The Big Short” 

“Bridge of Spies” 


“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Martian” 

“The Revenant”



Best Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett, “Carol”

Brie Larson, “Room”

Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”

Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”

Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”

Matt Damon, “The Martian”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”

Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs“

Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”

Actress in a Supporting Role

Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”

Rooney Mara, “Carol”

Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight”

Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”

Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs“

Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale, “The Big Short”

Tom Hardy, “The Revenant”

Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”

Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”

Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”

Best Director

Adam McKay, “The Big Short”

George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Alejandro G. Inarritu, “The Revenant”

Lenny Abrahamson, “Room”

Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”

Visual Effects

“Ex Machina”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Martian”

“The Revenant”

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Documentary Feature


“Cartel Land”

“The Look of Silence”

“What Happened, Miss Simone?”

“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”

Best Documentary Short Subject

“Body Team 12”

“Chau, Beyond the Lines”

“Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”

“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”

“Last Day of Freedom”


“The Big Short”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Revenant”


“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Production Design

“Bridge of Spies”

“The Danish Girl”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Martian”

“The Revenant”

Best Original Score

“Bridge of Spies”


“The Hateful Eight”


“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Foreign Language Film

“Embrace of the Serpent,” Colombia

“Mustang,” France

“Son of Saul,” Hungary

“Theeb,” Jordan

“A War,” Denmark

Best Original Screenplay

“Bridge of Spies”

“Ex Machina”

“Inside Out”


“Straight Outta Compton”

Best Adapted Screenplay

“The Big Short”



“The Martian”


Best Original Song

“Earned It” from “Fifty Shades of Grey”

“Manta Ray” from “Racing Extinction”

“Simple Song No. 3” from “Youth”

“Til It Happens To You” from “The Hunting Ground”

“Writing’s on the Wall” from “Spectre”

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared”

“The Revenant”

Best Animated Feature


“Boy and the World”

“Inside Out”

“Shaun the Sheep Movie”

“When Marnie Was There”

Best Animated Short Film

“Bear Story”


“Sanjay’s Super Team”

“We Can’t Live Without Cosmos”

“World of Tomorrow”

Best Live Action Short Film

“Ave Maria”

“Day One”

“Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)”



Best Cinematography


“The Hateful Eight”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Revenant”


Achievement in Sound Mixing

“Bridge of Spies”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Martian”

“The Revenant”

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Achievement in Sound Editing

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Martian”

“The Revenant”


“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Costume Design



“The Danish Girl”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Revenant”