It’ another issue of Bachelor Pad Magazine and it’s yet another one of my tipsy tales: “The Gift of the Hipsters.” It’s a modern, yet retro take on the O. Henry Christmas classic.
Get into the holiday spirits early and order your copy!
Because I have so much free time on my hands (hah!) I’ve gone out and created another blog: History of the Badass. It’s just what it sounds like, an examination of the rich history and origins of the figure of the Badass in our culture. Topics will include hard-boiled fiction, Great Badass Movie Moments, movie and book reviews, Badass figures in real life, and much more. My basic premise is that the modern Badass is a synthesis of two 20th Century developments: hard-boiled protagonists and the ethos of cool.
Due to the amount of time that I’ll be spending with posting on History of the Badass, I will be turning the focus of this site to news and promotion regarding my writing. Hopefully, there will be plenty of news in the future for fans of The Beatnik Spy.
I’ve got another gem of a short story coming in the next issue of Bachelor Pad Magazine, “The Yeti Martini.” Two gentlemen of leisure are spinning yarns over scotch and cigars when one of them reveals the existence of The Yeti Martini – the world’s most mysterious and priceless cocktail. Could you handle – just one – Yeti Martini?
Bachelor Pad Magazine features some of the world’s most beautiful burlesque performers and a variety of articles and stories from all corners of the modern jet set.
Check it out here:
Black Rum and Dynamite was still unfinished when I found her. Taking a break from writing, I was browsing canstockphoto.com, when her enigmatic smile and pert bare bottom caught my eye. I hadn’t even named the character yet, but I knew this was the face (and bottom) of Gunner’s latest conquest.
Her name is China (pronounced Chee-na) Tampico. Gunner finds her hiding below decks following a ferocious gun battle off the coast of Cuba. From that point forward, China’s true loyalties and mysterious past keep Gunner guessing, but not enough for him to turn her aside when her passionate arms close around him…
Check out China Tampico’s story in Black Rum and Dynamite, available in all E-formats.
He finished the last beer and picked up the pistol, pointing it at the door. He tuned out the street noise from outside and focused his attention on the hallway outside his room. After a few minutes he heard footsteps on the stairs at the far end. Then they ended abruptly. A long rug ran down the middle of the hall. He could just make out a slight shuffling sound moving his way.
The shuffling stopped just short of his door. Someone whispered, short and intense. Shadows moved in the gap between the bottom of the door and the floor.
Remembering how short Bilotti was, he lowered the aim of his gun a few inches.
Havana, 1956. As Cuba boils with revolutionary violence, Gunner Quinn finds himself back on the CIA payroll, hot on the trail of a gang of mysterious gun runners. Along the way, he dodges bullets, bombs, and the hungry passions of a beautiful woman named China Tampico…
Book Three of the Beatnik Spy Series has arrived: Black Rum & Dynamite. The action picks up where The Godhead Formula and The Red Jade Door left off; Gunner crosses paths in pre-Castro Cuba with mobsters, communist rebels, and deadly black magic.
Gunner’s trumpet playing has never been better and there was no better place to play than swinging old Cuba. But trouble finds him and soon he has switched his horn for his trusted M1911 .45. Bullets fly, bombs explode, and sinister voodoo rhythms hang in the air.
Black Rum & Dynamite is available on all platforms.
Taking your son to a testosterone enriched classic Men’s Adventure movie is an important obligation for any good father. My Dad took me to see “The Dirty Dozen.” I took my son to see “Goldfinger.”
If there was a short list of movies perfect for Father/Son sharing, “Flight of the Phoenix (1965)” would be on it. It’s a perfect Men’s Adventure movie, featuring three manly themes: perseverance in the face of adversity, struggling for moral leadership, and fixing shit.
After recently re-watching the movie for the umpteenth time on Turner Classic Movies, I sought out the original novel the film was based on, by Elleston Trevor. It’s a terrific read, taut and lean. The movie is pretty faithful to the book, which tells the story of a cargo plane carrying oil riggers and spare parts across the Libyan desert which crashes in the midst of a fierce sandstorm. Driven hundreds of miles off course, far from any civilization or oasis with no hope of rescue, the survivors are convinced by another passenger, an aircraft designer, to build a new plane from the wreckage and fly back to safety. Along the way, some go mad, others are killed by bandits, and the group nearly falls apart due to internal conflict.
The movie is gifted with an awesome all-male cast, headed by a grizzled Jimmy Stewart as the pilot and Sir Richard Attenborough as the navigator. Along for the ride are some of the greatest character actors ever: George Kennedy, Dan Duryea, Ernest Borgnine, Peter Finch, and Ian Bannen, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role. One change from the novel is to make the twitchy aircraft engineer a German, brilliantly portrayed by Hardy Kruger.
In the wake of his recent passing, I’d like to put in a few kind words for Ernest Borgnine. How many great Men’s Adventure movies did he elevate by his presence? “The Dirty Dozen,”"The Wild Bunch,”"Ice Station Zebra,”"The Vikings,” etc. For me, he will always be Lt. Commander Quinton McHale, an important figure that factored into my personal decision to join the Navy. True to his example, I did eventually wind up serving in “McHale’s Navy,” as one exasperated petty officer shouted at me when he found out I was a minesweeper sailor. (My haircut and uniform were not up to Navy standards, which led me to be handcuffed to a chair in the shore patrol office in Alameda. Long story.)
They remade “Flight of the Phoenix” in 2005 starring Dennis Quaid, adding a woman to the cast, which proves that the 21st Century sucks. That movie certainly did.
Read the book and sit down with your son to share a handful of classic Men’s Adventure DVDs some night.
I recently discovered Goodreads (www.goodreads.com) and I think it’s a terrific site for both writers and readers. There are tons of discussions centered around books and authors, for nearly every reading interest.
Now, thanks to yours truly, there is a discussion group specifically devoted to Men’s Adventure.
The group aims to celebrate classic works of men’s adventure fiction, but also to support writers of contemporary men’s adventure fiction. We’re looking to stimulate sharing and discussing writers and works of Men’s Adventure and perhaps to even define: “What is Men’s Adventure?”
Join the discussion!
Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad, is a classic novel of men’s adventure, a deep and moving examination of the nature of moral character and courage.
Jim is the first mate of the Patna, a dilapidated steamer transporting pilgrims to Mecca. The ship strikes an underwater obstruction in the middle of the night, and fearing that the ship is about to sink, the crew panics and abandons the passengers to their fate. Jim at first resists this cowardly act, but somehow finds himself in the lifeboat with the Captain and other white crewmen. When they are rescued, they find that the Patna never sank, the pilgrims all survived, and they all face charges back in port.
More than once, characters express their sorrow at Jim’s failure. A bright, promising young man – “He was one of us” they bemoan.
After losing his sailing papers, Jim drifts throughout the South Pacific, from one menial seaport job to another. At each stop, he is recognized and he is driven further away from civilization by shame. Along the way, he engages the sympathies of a ship captain named Marlow, who does his best to aid him.
Marlow arranges for Jim to take on the administration of a remote trading post in the Malaysian kingdom of Patusan. Here, cut off from western civilization and his past, Jim triumphs and rises to earn the title of Tuan Jim or “Lord” Jim. Just as it looks as though he will redeem himself, Jim stumbles, however, and the book ends on a tragic note.
Lord Jim is highly regarding by critics, due to its sophisticated storytelling. Jim’s tale unfolds primarily from the viewpoint of Marlow, and the reader is left to piece together the central mystery of Jim’s soul through scattered anecdotes, conversations, and letters. Conrad is regarded a master prose stylist; there are certainly moments of beauty and arresting description in Lord Jim, but I think he occasionally goes on a bit. There are passages where three pages of text could easily have been boiled down to one, which makes Lord Jim (and much of Conrad’s work) a challenge for modern readers.
However, I do think it is well worth the effort. Lord Jim is a superb study of the notions of honor and courage and how difficult it is to live up to the expectations of a hypocritical society.
Lord Jim was adapted to film in 1965, starring Peter O’Toole as Jim. It’s passable entertainment, but it largely fails to match the original as a work of psychological depth.
I’ve just finished reading Michael D. Sellers’ book “John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood – the absolutely absorbing story of how the movie adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic sci-fi adventure “A Princess of Mars” was turned into an alleged box-office bomb by the suits at Disney.
I really enjoyed John Carter; I thought it was a terrific and relatively faithful adaptation of the Barsoom adventures. The movie delivered everything I wanted in an ERB adaptation: rousing manly adventure, a fully realized alien world, and an old-fashioned sensibility that was in step with the master himself. Andrew Stanton, the director and the man most responsible for bringing Barsoom to the screen, did his job admirably.
As Sellers details, a series of corporate leadership changes, neglect, and incompetent marketing left John Carter adrift in the marketplace, making its crash inevitable, in spite of the qualities of the film itself. The book also highlights a critical component in the mess that made the launch of John Carter a failure: the concurrent negotiations between George Lucas and Disney that led to the mouse factory’s acquisition of the mega-bucks film franchise.
If John Carter had succeeded and spawned sequels, conceivably it could have competed directly with new Star Wars movies distributed by Disney. Sellers doesn’t try to make the point that Disney deliberately tanked John Carter to land Star Wars but only the head honchos of the studio really know why they seriously neglected a good film. And I’m not saying that George Lucas himself had anything at all to do with the torpedoing of a Barsoom franchise.
There is no question that Disney’s seduction of George Lucas was a factor in the supposed commercial failure of John Carter. And when you consider how much George Lucas borrowed from the Barsoom novels for much of what was stitched together to form the Star Wars universe, it is at least darkly ironic that ERB got shafted in the marketplace by the man who profited the most from plundering his legacy. Wait, did I say borrowed? I meant to say stole.
Just check out this partial list of how the father of the Force took rapaciously from every source imaginable.
If George Lucas had any decency, he’d take some of his Disney billions and find a way to finance new Barsoom movies. Or Pellucidar or Venus movies. Otherwise, thanks to the debacle of John Carter, we are probably going to be deprived of any new non-Tarzan ERB adaptations for another generation.
I’ve developed into a John Payne fan lately, discovering many of his later career movies – mostly entertaining, low-budget potboilers. Most viewers will remember Payne as the lawyer who defends Kris Kringle in the original “Miracle on 34th Street.” In his later movies, Payne played some variation of a hard-boiled type: a fading boxer, a wrongly-accused noir hero, a tough guy crook, etc.
“Crosswinds,” released in 1951, is a classic Men’s Adventure story. Payne is the captain of a schooner, rambling about New Guinea, hustling up gigs to pay his way through the South Seas. In port, he crosses paths with another hustler, played by Forrest Tucker, and a boozed up widow, played by Rhonda Fleming. Tucker is searching for a plane wreck filled with $10 million in stolen gold and he hires Payne and his boat to help in the quest. Payne is quickly double-crossed however, and lands in jail and loses his boat. The rest of the movie involves Payne getting the gold, the woman and his boat, with plenty of action along the way.
“Crosswinds” is no masterpiece, but it’s the kind of light fun you could easily help pass an afternoon with. The characters are colorful, especially Alan Mowbray and John Abbott as two sleazy, back-stabbing limeys who make things interesting. Rhonda Fleming is on hand to provide sex appeal, something she was more than capable of. Personally, I’d rank Fleming as one of the top sex kittens of the 1950s. Check out my Pinterest board Drive In Queens, I’ve added a few tasty shots of her.
“Crosswinds” is available on Netflix, along with several other classic John Payne potboilers.