Your Weekend Flick Attack

What’s been going on at our sister site, Flick Attack, “hitting you with one random movie a day … whether you like it or not”? Here’s what you’ve missed:

• I, MADMAN, starring Jenny Wright, who’s “my kind of girl, not only because she reads for pleasure, but because she does so wearing only a satin half-camisole and white panties”
• Christian Bale and Jennifer Jason Leigh in THE MACHINIST, which raises the question: “Does Leigh have some sort of hooker-role punch card?”
• Blake Edwards’ S.O.B. starring the breasts of “Mary Fucking Poppins”
• the Clive Barker adaptation BOOK OF BLOOD, which is “not scary, unless you’re terrified of dragonflies, in which case you’re totally fucked”
• TORQUE, “2 goofy 2 be any good”

How many more reasons do you need?

Kiss Her Goodbye

Mike Hammer just can’t retire. He has spent the past year in Florida, fishing and passing the time, when he gets a call from his good friend, police captain Pat Chambers. He informs Hammer that an old associate, Inspector Doolan, is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot.

That is how KISS HER GOODBYE begins, the latest from the treasure trove of unfinished manuscripts that were given to Max Allan Collins at Mickey Spillane’s passing. This is full-on Mike Hammer, but set in a time frame no one would expect: the disco era of the 1970s.

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Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice

When I was in first grade and expressed interested in drawing comics, I remember my mom special-ordered (this is pre-Internet, kids) a how-to cartooning title from the bookstore that proved to me of little help. Today’s generations need not worry; Ivan Brunetti’s CARTOONING: PHILOSOPHY AND PRACTICE is essentially a 15-week course in around 75 pages, for only $13.

You can thank Yale University Press, especially since you won’t need to apply for financial aid to acquire the instruction. Brunetti makes for an easygoing, friendly teacher — no surprise given his simple style. Week by week, he takes readers from sketches and single-panel gags up to four-panel cartoons and the beloved Sunday full strip.

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The Internet Is a Playground: Irreverent Correspondence of an Evil Online Genius

If you have Internet access, a valid email address, and friends who mass-forward links incessantly, you’ve probably received two things: 1) supposed “proof” of our president being born in another country, and 2) the work of David Thorne. In a perfect world, the work of the former would be just a prank of the latter.

A graphic designer by trade, Thorne is a natural-born prankster — mostly via email. He’s perhaps most famous for the chain of correspondence in which he attempted to pay an overdue chiropractic bill with a drawing of a spider; coincidentally, that scrawl adorns the cover of his first collection of his cyberterrors, THE INTERNET IS A PLAYGROUND: IRREVERENT CORRESPONDENCE OF AN EVIL ONLINE GENIUS.

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Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander’s Great Empire

I usually prefer nonfiction to fiction. The actions and events of something I know to have taken place, rather than the half-realized actions and events sprouting from someone’s feverish imagination, mean more to me. Real-life events serve as the inspiration for the creation of novelists, and while sometimes it’s enjoyable to experience the art of a good novelist and storyteller, it’s also important to visit the source material. And when you have a crafty nonfiction writer who can make the concrete facts truly come to life, then you have also found a true artist.

That’s the honor I’m giving to Robin Waterfield whose work DIVIDING THE SPOILS: THE WAR FOR ALEXANDER’S GREAT EMPIRE, leads off the “Ancient Warfare and Civilizations series” from Oxford University Press. The series, edited by Waterfield and Richard Alston, is extremely promising, based on this first installment.

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A lot of comic books aren’t for kids anymore. With all these massive crossovers and events, a tween or teen can’t get his or her fix. Thankfully, there are books like SIDEKICKS to fill the void. Jack D. Ferraiolo’s prose novel follows the adventures of Scott Hutchinson, aka Bright Boy, a school kid who has hit puberty in a big way: having an unexpected moment captured live on TV while saving a pretty woman. Yup, Bright Boy got a boner.

The book is all about Scott dealing with his other side of life, being a superhero sidekick. It’s obvious on whom Bright Boy and his boss, Phantom Justice, are based. Even people not familiar with comics can figure it out, and the young-adult work delivers with plenty of fun reading. There are some great twists even we old-timers won’t see coming.

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The Snowman

Harry Hole is perhaps the most unfortunately named detective in all of mystery fiction, but he is a classic type: committed to his job, hard-nosed, damaged by both the stress of work and emotional attachments, a complete bastard sometimes, and a damn good detective at all others. In Jo Nesbø’s THE SNOWMAN, the seventh of the Hole novels (not all of which have been translated), he is confronted by a mysterious killer, the eponymous villain of the title.

This individual annually manages to kill a married woman who has had children, always when the first snow of the year falls. He builds a snowman to commemorate the event. It takes us quite a few pages to even find out this amount, but I tell you that now because there is so much I cannot tell you.

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The Big Book of Biker Flicks: 40 of the Best Motorcycle Movies of All Time

If there’s one thing I love as much as genre films, it’s books about genre films. So when I noted on the back of John Wooley’s current, recommended WES CRAVEN: THE MAN AND HIS NIGHTMARES that the author also was responsible for a 2005 tome titled THE BIG BOOK OF BIKER FLICKS: 40 OF THE BEST MOTORCYCLE MOVIES OF ALL TIME, I wondered, “How the hell did slip under my radar?”

Turns out, there’s a perfectly good explanation for that: It was released by the small, Tulsa-based HAWK Publishing Group, which no longer goes by that name or has its old website, presumably following the legal troubles of its founder, bestselling novelist William Bernhardt. But don’t hold that against it. In fact, if you’re at all interested, I’d snap this up now, before you no longer can.

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BOOK WHORE >> 4.26.11

book whoreShe’s back each Tuesday, pimpin’ out notable new releases to place on your radar, so let the tempting plot descriptions begin!

THE MEDUSA AMULET by Robert Masello — What begins as a simple investigation quickly spirals into a twisting, turning tale of suspense and intrigue, a race against time that carries scholar David Franco across continents and centuries in a desperate search for the ultimate treasure — and an answer to a riddle that has puzzled mankind since the beginning of time. Aided only by a beautiful young Florentine with a conspirator’s mind and dark secrets, Franco is soon caught up in a life-and-death struggle from which there is no escape. Relentlessly pursued by deadly assassins and demons of his own, in the end he must confront an evil greater than anything conjured in his worst nightmares.

VAMPIRE MAKER by Michael Schiefelbein — Victor Decimus has been a vampire for over 2,000 years. Having left New York and his lover — the vampire he made then abandoned to escape the vengeance of the Dark Kingdom — Victor sets himself up again in New Orleans, where his thrall becomes the point of a new, larger conflict. On the one hand, a local priest seeks to break Victor’s hold over the thrall; on the other, the Dark Kingdom fears that Victor is going to become a Vampire Maker, one who continually creates new vampires, while refusing to take his place on the next plain of existence.

THE LOST FLEET: BEYOND THE FRONTIER: DREADNAUGHT by Jack Cambpell — The Alliance woke Captain John “Black Jack” Geary from cryogenic sleep to take command of the fleet in the century-long conflict against the Syndicate Worlds. Now Fleet Admiral Geary’s victory has earned him the adoration of the people-and the enmity of politicians convinced that a living hero can be a very inconvenient thing. Geary knows that members of the military high command and the government question his loyalty to the Alliance and fear his staging a coup, so he can’t help but wonder if the newly christened First Fleet is being deliberately sent to the far side of space on a suicide mission

THE UNINCORPORATED WAR by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin — Justin Cord created a revolution, and is now exiled from Earth to the outer planets, where he is a heroic figure. Corporate society, which is headquartered on Earth and rules Venus, Mars and the orbital colonies, wants to destroy Justin and reclaim hegemony over the outer planets. The first interplanetary war begins as the military fleet of Earth attacks. Justin remains both a logical and passionate fighter for the principles that motivate him, and the most dangerous man alive.

HOTEL NO TELL by Daphne Uviller — Now working as a junior detective with the New York City Special Investigations Commission, Zephyr’s gone incognito as a concierge to find out who laundered a hundred grand off the hotel books — and why. But the discovery of a prone, flush-faced guest gasping for air in room 502 only hints at the sinister goings-on inside this funky establishment. While the rapid response of the fire department leads to a sweaty date with a smooth-talking, rock-climbing rescue worker, Zephyr finds herself even more hot and bothered by an attempted murder on her watch. Could the smart-mouthed Japanese yenta across the hall know more than she’s telling? How are cryptic phone calls from a mysterious corporation linked to the victim in 502?

DEAD BY MORNING by Beverly Barton — He begins his work just before dawn, wielding a knife with the precision of a surgeon. Cunning and meticulous, he’s always in control. Mercy is not an option. Maleah Purdue is tough, outspoken, and completely dedicated to her work at the Powell Security Agency. But her fearless exterior shatters when a madman begins killing her colleagues one by one, mimicking a notorious serial killer already behind bars. Working alongside top profiler Derek Lawrence, Maleah will do anything to find the murderer, even if it means playing a psychopath’s twisted mind games.

ASCENSION by Sable Grace — Kyana is half Vampyre, half Lychen, and the last of her kind. Determined, dangerous and damned, she has no love for the mortals who have imprisoned and misused her. But when the Order of Ancients entrusts her with a mission — to find the key that will send the Dark Breed back into Hell for eternity — Kyana has no choice but to accept. She is furious to learn her assignment comes with an escort, Ryker, a demigod and fierce warrior who long ago found a way under her skin and stayed there. In a shaky alliance, they discover an ancient cult with dangerous motive and a god who seeks to destroy all others.

BORN OF SHADOWS by Sherrilyn Kenyon — For Caillen Dagan, a defiant soldier of fortune, survival isn’t a right, it’s a brutal daily battle. Moving through the Ichidaian universe like a wraith, his brushes with the law and death are legendary. But when an act of rare heroism reveals his hidden birthright, he’s forced into a world much more dangerous and cold-hearted than the bloody streets where he was raised-one of obscene wealth and lethal politics. Ferocious and determined, Desideria serves as an official bodyguard for her queen. But when she uncovers a ruthless plot to assassinate the queen and overthrow her country’s government, Desideria is caught in the crosshairs.

SUPERNATURAL: JOHN WINCHESTER’S JOURNAL by Alex Irvine — On Nov. 2, 1983, Sam and Dean Winchester lost their mother to a demonic supernatural force. In the wake of the tragedy, their father, John, set out to learn everything he could about the paranormal evil that lives in the dark corners and on the back roads of America … and how to kill it. In his personal journal, he not only compiled folklore, legend and superstition about all manner of otherworldly enemies but also recorded his experiences hunting the creature that killed his wife even as he raised his two sons: the exorcism, shapeshifters, a growing and deadly evil …

RANGER’S APPRENTICE: BOOK 10: THE EMPEROR OF NIHON-JA by John Flanagan — Months have passed since Horace departed for the eastern nation of Nihon-Ja on a vital mission. Having received no communication from him, his friends fear the worst. Unwilling to wait a second longer, Alyss, Evanlyn and Will leave their homeland behind and venture into an exotic land in search of their missing friend. When they finally catch up with him, they find Horace entangled in a military coup. Determined to protect the imperial throne, Will and his band of Araluens must piece together and train a force in order to fend off the master Senji warriors intent on overthrowing the emperor.

Buy them at Amazon.

Death in the Fifth Position / Death Before Bedtime / Death Likes It Hot

This is not the first time these three engaging mystery novels have been reissued since their original publication more than 50 years ago. But it wasn’t until a hardcover omnibus edition in 1978 (THREE BY BOX) that the identity of Edgar Box was officially revealed as Gore Vidal. Now Vintage Crime/Black Lizard has republished them as trade paperbacks so a whole new generation of crime fiction fans can be in on the fun.

As Vidal recalls in the new introduction to the first novel, his foray into mystery writing came about when he started a public feud with an influential NEW YORK TIMES book reviewer that resulted in his work being blacklisted. Back then, this was a very serious blow to a new author, and almost ended his otherwise promising career.

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