I am both editor and contributor to the latest CMBA (Classic Movie Blog Association) eBook, POLITICS ON FILM. Thes book contains seventeen essays covering politically tinged films dating back to the 1930s and up thru the 1960s. While not a definitive collection, the articles include a wide range of political points of view from the courageous to corruption to satire. Among the movies included in this collection are well known works like The Best Man, All the King’s Men, Duck Soup, and Yankee Doodle Dandy, to more obscure films such as Medium Cool, What Every Woman Knows, and Left, Right and Center.
Contributors: Paul Batters, Annette Bochenek, Marsha Collock, Jocelyn Dunphy, Patricia Gallagher, Amanda Garrett, Rick Gould, Jess Ilse, Marianne L’Abbate, Kevin Maher, Beth Nevarez and Lora Stocker, Patricia Nolan-Hall, Linda J. Sandahl, Patricia Schneider, Nur Soliman and J.O. Watts.
Since COVID arrived on the scene my photography has been limited, mostly to my two cats. They are an endless joy of activity and opportunity. Still, all other photography has been on hold. Both my wife and I have underlying conditions so we are super careful where we go. Let’s just say the supermarket and doctors are not very photographic.
This brings me to the other day. My wife was preparing dinner and I was setting up the table and closing the blinds. That’s when I spotted the sky. Florida is known, when the conditions are right, for spectacular sunsets. This night it was perfect. I grabbed my cellphone and told my wife, I’ll be right back. I fortunately hit the right moment. The sky was a spectacular orange, and I had a panoramic view right outside my house. I snapped two pictures and felt the rush I always do when I capture the perfect moment in time. That’s a feeling I had not felt in a long time.
The photo here I thought was the better of the two. Nothing was photo shopped. It was nature at its best.
Check out my new collection of not so cozy, dark Christmas short stories, Tis the Season. Only .99 cent at Amazon
Christmas may seem far away, but it’s closer than you think, and will be here before you know it. With that in mind, today is the release date for ‘Tis the Season, my new four short story collection mixing Christmas and crime. The four tales consist one old and three new tales. In Home for the Holidays two brothers reunite on Christmas Eve. Let’s just say it doesn’t turn out well. Next up is a revised version of A Merry Little Christmas which originally appeared in Devious Tales. Favorite Time of the Year deals with a troubled marriage and a final solution. In ‘Tis the Season a hitman with a soft spot for the holidays may or may not have a holly jolly Christmas. The holidays can bring out the worst in everyone, and does so in these four short Christmas themed stories. ‘Tis the Season is not your cozy Christmas.
One of the things I miss doing the most since the pandemic hit us is going to the library. I used to go once a week, mostly to either the Clearwater Library or the Dunedin Library, sometimes both on the same day. It was always an adventure whether I was doing research or looking for a book to read for pleasure. Sometimes you found a book long out-of-print. It was like discovering gold.
There is one pleasure I still get from the library these Covid days and that is Kanopy. If you’re not familiar with Kanopy, you’re missing out. Kanopy is a streaming service available through public libraries and universities. It offers a wide variety of films: classic, modern, foreign, documentaries and much more. There are more than 3,000 films in the catalog and more added each week. All you need is a library card from your local library branch to get free access and enjoy its cinematic pleasures. It’s available by downloading an app on your desktop or mobile phone, and via Roku.
I am excited to reveal the book cover for my new collection of Christmas themed short stories. ‘Tis The Season will be out this coming October. Murder, mayhem and mistletoe for the holidays. It will be available only as an eBook and cost only .99 cents. More details coming soon.
There is something comfortable or maybe not so comfortable reading dark tales about where you live. So I was excited to discover “Tampa Bay Noir.” I was equally disappointed by the book. Not because the stories are bad, they are not, but if you looking for noir, well, at best there are a few noir lite tales. With the title, and the long running series that it is part of, I was expecting darker tales. The stories give us a view of modern Tampa Bay filled with subdivisions, malls and homes by the water. Edited by Collette Bennett, book reviewer for the Tampa Bay Times, who contributes a story, the collection gets off with a good start with Michael Connelly who brings the iconic Harry Bosch to Tampa Bay to help an old friend. Lori Roy follows with another interesting tale, one of the darker ones. Other highlights include stories by Tim Dorsey, Lisa Unger, Ace Atkins, Gale Massey, Danny Lopez, and the previously mentioned Collette Bennett. There is not a bad story, but the dark noir streets are missing.
Why I took this photo of a typical community board remains a mystery even to me. But it soon became the inspiration for my short story Make it Write. The photograph was taken at the Belfast Co-op in Maine.
Like all community boards, it’s filled with notices of local events, lost pets, local concerts, and business cards for lawyers, dog walkers, cat sitters, etc. This ordinary looking community board made me think about what would happen if there was a business card that read, I CAN HELP. Nothing else on the card except for a phone number. Help with what was the first question that popped up in my mind followed by this must be a scam. I then wondered what would happen if I took one of the cards and called. What would the price be? For my character, George Jensen, a failed novelist, in Make it Write the price may be more than he bargained for.
Author John Greco’s book of short stories, “The Late Show,” ties together the writer’s passion of old movies (mostly Films Noir, peopled by the likes of Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, and Edward G. Robinson) and tales which end in some twist of fate for their protagonist, anti-hero, or villain.
I don’t want to go into too many details, because reviewers who give spoiler alerts are missing the forest for the trees. But, there are husbands and wives whose marriages have soured; spoiled rich kid heirs and random innocent bystanders; a beloved fixture of the community who finds his purpose in life suddenly and sadly obsolescent; a vegetarian hitman who got into his line of work by turning some tables; a hippie-dippy chick whose crystal ball needs some new batteries; someone who lost his temper, and leaked a little blood on his way into the Bijou; and, to borrow a line from Johnny Cash, some of Hollywood’s has-beens, would be’s and never weres.
Greco expertly taps out some dark tales on his typewriter, but even the darkest have a light touch — he doesn’t bog the reader down in excessive gore and depravity. Drawing upon the experiences of his youth and early adulthood, many of his tales are set in New York City and Upstate. He has an uncanny knack for conveying these locales not unlike crime thriller writer Mickey Spillane.
This is the first book of Greco’s I’ve read, and his stories are quite entertaining, written in the style of the golden age magazine fiction of midcentury. Definitely recommended
Chinatown is one of the golden apples of 70s cinema. Sam Wasson has written an interesting, if sometimes overly detailed history on the making of the movie. Wasson brings you into the minds of the creators and participants: Robert Towne, Robert Evans, Roman Polanski, John Alonzo, Jack Nicholson, and Faye Dunaway. It’s also an intimate portrayal of Los Angeles and the Hollywood of the 1970s. Like the movie, it’s convoluted at times. But the story is fascinating. It took Towne years to write the screenplay and he didn’t want to give up control. But filmmaking is a collaborative art, and the director, especially a director of Polanski’s caliber, has the final say. Wasson writes that the film’s ending is more Polanski’s doing than Towne.
The Big Goodbye is more than about Chinatown. It’s about the end of a golden era in films. Soon movies like Chinatown, The Conversation, Marathon Man, The Godfather, and Network would give way to mindless blockbusters. There was more money to be made with trashy, splashy lightweight entertainment, lots more money, and after all, that’s what the business is about. Making money and box office trends, not art.