Thursday, January 22, 2015

CriMemoir: John L. Sheppard

John L. Sheppard's book No Brass, No Ammo found its way into my mailbox with a recommendation from somebody who knows a thing or two about crime fiction and thanks to that discerning so and so, I've got yet another name to watch. And watch I will 'cause No Brass, No Ammo carried me through to an understated yet oversating conclusion that only one writer amongst many could accomplish. I dug its open-hearted, but close-to-the-vest-ness, its humor, sense of tragedy and the mundane. After reading some about John's own life experiences the story carried extra emotional heft. I asked him for a CriMemoir piece and this here is some heavy shit. Do yourself a favor and check out John's fiction when you get to the end.

CriMemoir by John L. Sheppard

I live in Highwood, Illinois, about 30 miles north of Chicago. For about two years after my divorce, I lived in the Rogers Park neighborhood in Chicago. It was heavily patrolled by the CPD, mostly in uparmored Ford SUV's. Rode the train from there to work. I am an Army veteran, a civil servant who works at Naval Station Great Lakes.

When I'm writing, I'll power down my iPhone to knock out distractions. One evening in December 2013, I heard pop-pop, pop-pop-pop and my military brain commented, "Sounds like a Beretta M9." Stood up, looked out the window, and there was a man down on the sidewalk in front of my building. I hit the power button on my iPhone. In the time it took for it to power up and gain a cellphone signal, there was already a CPD SUV and van out front. The ambulance came along shortly after that. I'd already decided to move closer to work, but that cemented the deal.

When I was a soldier, I worked for about two years (1990-91) for the public affairs office in the Army's CID Command. CID is the Army's version of the FBI/Secret Service/BATF.

In the summer of 1991, CPT Jeffery MacDonald was making one of his periodic attempts to be released from prison. The original investigators for the case had retired by then, but like all military retirees, they could be called back to active duty. We had a video archive of the MacDonald case in the office, and I had to make a dub of the interviews, crime scene video, etc., so the pair could go on Larry King and talk about what a psychopathic, guilty piece of shit MacDonald was. While I made the video, I got to sit with one of the guys and he pointed out the highlights to me on the original crime scene video, how you can tell when something is staged. The agent told me all about how you could spot a psychopath. Affect, or the lack thereof when they thought no one was looking, was key.

Less than a year later, my sister was dead, murdered at a Pizza Hut in Brandon, Florida in the early, early morning of my mother's 54th birthday. (Ed. note: for more of John's writing about his sister's murder check out What I Owe at Paragraph Line)

Nancy and her husband had three kids together. Nancy was getting ready to leave him. She was my best friend. We talked a lot on the phone. I’d moved in temporarily with my mother in between stints at grad school. I remember a lot about that day.

I remember answering the door and the uniformed male cop accompanied by a plainclothes female cop who asked to speak to my mother. I remember my mother’s scream. I remember calling my brother Tom up, he was at work, and having to tell him that Nancy was dead.

After the initial cloud of grief lifted, I found myself studying my ex-brother-in-law on his visits to my mother's house and came to the same conclusion the cops had. I saw the crime scene videotape. To this day, I cannot hear the song Blue Bayou without having a panic attack. There are conclusions that a reasonable person could draw. Am I a reasonable person? Perhaps not. How could I maintain my reason? How could anyone?

A jury of my ex-brother-in-law's peers decided that he was not guilty and acquitted him. I have another videotape, somewhere, that is a breakdown of how his attorneys managed to do it as featured on Eye to Eye with Connie Chung. He sued people and won quite a bit of money, from what I understand.

The three kids are now grown, off somewhere in the world and, I hope, doing well. Do I hear from them? No. I don't expect I ever will.

My family slowly disintegrated after that. My grandparents died. My mother survived her first bout with breast cancer, but not her second. My brother almost drank himself to death, but he survived.

Me? I'm fine, I tell myself. Just fine.

A veteran of the U.S. Army, John L. Sheppard wrote Small Town Punk. His latest novel, No Brass, No Ammo, was released in 2014 by Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC. More about him at his official website.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

2014 in Crime Flicks: November

Devil in a Blue Dress - Carl Franklin - Ezekiel Rawlins, a black veteran, is hired by the deep pockets to find a white woman who frequents the negro joints in post-war Los Angeles, a case with implications that go to the heart of a political battle. It occurred to me while rewatching this one that the only real interest I've got in PI stories right now have to do with characters well south of the mainstream and I found the film far more engaging this time around, having not seen it since the mid-nineties. Franklin and Walter Mosley - upon whose book the film is based - were the reasons I was interested in revisiting it, but damn if Denzel Washington ain't the glue holding everything together. His Rawlins is a man of adaptable morality playing the game, vulnerable and opportunistic by turns, smart, but desperate enough to do stupid things. It's also a terrific looking film and the dynamics between Washington's Rawlins and Don Cheadle's Mouse are so great, it's a shame there weren't a couple of follow up films to explore their relationship and world. Best moment: Mouse asleep with a gun.

The Last Mile - Howard W. Koch - A group of death row inmates led by Mickey Rooney stage a breakout on the eve of an execution. It's an awfully talky film, the second screen adaptation based on the stage play by John Wexley and one whose first two acts are steeped in mortal dread that fuel the third with enough angst to go with the implausibilities and over the top acting. Rooney is great and could chew through the bars with his facial ticks. It's no Brute Force, but once the film gets to the violence it's very watchable. Best moment: call the warden.

Metro Manila - Sean Ellis - Oscar (Jake Macapagal) is a rice farmer who moves his family to the big city when he is no longer able to support them working the fields. The urban jungle is no kinder to them, but both parents are desperate enough to work dangerous and demeaning jobs to support themselves and their family, she as a topless dancer in a sleazy club where prostitution is pretty much a job requirement and he as a driver in an armored car service where he'll be a target for criminals with nothing left to lose and who don't mind shooting it out for a chance at the cash and valuables he's moving them from point-a to point-b (and if you've ever seen another movie, it'll come as no surprise that he faces just as much or more danger from his co-workers who want that money just as much as anybody else). After digging the Filipino export On the Job so hard earlier this year, I was ready to dive into another crime flick from the hard heart of the city and this one delivers, even if it swerves a little hard into the innocents forced to do bad things genre at times. Beautiful and gritty and emotionally engaging - highly recommended. Best moment: Oscar's job interview.

Nightcrawler - Dan Gilroy - Louis Bloom, a petty thief and sociopath finds a chance to realize his outsized ambitions as a freelance crime journalist, which is a plot line that has been used in plenty of films special and unremarkable ones alike. So what makes this one stand out? A sharp script and an electrically-charged lead performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. In fact Gyllenhaal is so damn good in the role, I'd seriously consider going to a motivational conference led by him as Lou. Hell, I want a book on tape from him almost as much as I want one by Kenny Powers. It works best/most as a character study and less as the media satire I've been a little puzzled to hear it interpreted as being. Many smarter and more eloquent types than me have heaped praise on this one, so I won't bother adding to the hubbub, but it's a serious contender for top honors over here. Best moment: Bloom and Nina (Rene Russo) have a date.

Prisoners - Denis Villeneuve - The young daughters of two families disappear while the families celebrate Thanksgiving and the only lead the police have is the vehicle of a strange man spotted in the neighborhood at the time. As days drag by with no sign of the missing girls one of the fathers takes drastic and illegal action to find them, frustrated by perceived ineffectiveness of the police. What follows is a fairly suffocating morality thriller that probably has good points to make, but lost me somewhere in the heaviness of hand. I dunno, maybe it was just my mood that day. Not without merit though - both Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal give good performances, though if I go the rest of my life without seeing Paul Dano in another role like this, I'll consider myself lucky. Best moment: probably somewhere in Jackman's guilty, angry red-rimmed eyes.

Stretch - Joe Carnahan - A limo driver working off a gambling debt and a broken heart learns he's got one night to settle everything, but it's either going to be a hell of a bad night or a waste of time as the subject for a film. Could it be both? I dunno, the studio seemed to think so - dumping it unceremoniously to Netflix without a hint of publicity or promotion. I prefer to think of this one as a low-budget lark, Carnahan just having fun, rather than a failed commercial comeback vehicle for the man behind more high-profile derailed projects of promise than I know (whatever happened to his adaptation of Mark Bowden's  Killing Pablo w/Benicio Del Toro as Pablo Escobar - that was a thing, right? - or his adaptation of James Ellroy's White Jazz w/George Clooney as Dave Klein, or his adaptation of Lawrence Block's A Walk Among the Tombstones w/Harrison Ford as Matt Scudder, or his Mission Impossible 3 or???). Whatever frame the picture is in, it's the picture itself that should be considered and what we've got here is a star-studded, half-smart-assed thriller that doesn't pull everything together in the end, but has plenty to enjoy on the way there. Patrick Wilson is used particularly well here and I enjoy the way Carnahan chooses to cast Chris Pine - though he had more fun in Smokin' Aces. Slight, but not completely without charm or wit. I'd rather see more like this than another A-Team movie. Best moment: appointment at an orgy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

N@B 2014 Newsletter vol. 6

Duane Swierczynski - So, I can't tell you how awesome the upcoming novel Canary is because y'all greedy motherfuckers snatched up every last one of the ARCs at Noircon before I'd had a morning shit, shower and shave. But, let's not beat about the shrubbery, it's gonna be fucking bad ass. 

Malachi Stone - Somewhere in the wilds of south-western Illinois a man sits at a computer with a plastic bag on his head chatting online between fifteen alter egos about classic literature and philosophy, religion, the law, sex criminals and the bouquet of celebrity buttholes. I have met this man, but do not know his name. I know him only as Stone, Malachi Stone... and I've read his work. It will never make him rich, but it will make you more than a little uncomfortable, and if you value that rarity in the age of fifty shades of gilt-edged, buffed out, mass market smut rejoice. Dude has a bunch of novels available and probably more in the next year.

Jason Stuart - Dud's busy as hell. How busy? Has just announced that he's not going to be releasing the print edition of last year's 16 Tons through Burnt Bridge due to busyfuckingness. The good news? Somebody else might! I'm hanging the fuck on to my ARC and you Canary-having motherfuckers can kiss my dick, but someday perhaps you can have your own print copy. Meantime the Kindle edition's only 99cents.

Dennis Tafoya - Poor Boy's Game was released in the spring and his story Satan's Kingdom (originally appearing in Needle magazine) made the Best American Mystery Stories 2014, so if you don't take my word for his worth, I've just handed you endorsements from Steve Weddle, Laura Lippman and Otto Penzler. Get some.
Richard Thomas - Another busierthanhell dude on this list had three fiction anthologies that he had a hand in editing come out last year and put out some really beautiful books through Dark House Press and has a new mystery/thriller coming out next year. And is it just me, or did he pose for the cover of Disintegration himself? No... no, that's not RT, but he's handsome enough and has time enough in his schedule to pose for your book cover.

Mark W. Tiedemann - Finished another book and started five more in the last year, or that was the impression I got last time I saw him which was... damn. It's been a while. WTF, Mark? No, I have it on good authority that edits are intense. Which means something new and shimmery soon, no? Hope so.

Fred Venturini - With The Heart Does Not Grow Back poised to take over the world through many mediums you'd think that he'd be in reclusion bulking up for the onslaught of groupies and shit, but no, he's doing favors for Chuck Palahniuk by not leaving him alone on a stage on both coasts. Dude is magnanimous if nothing else. Oh yeah, talented.
Frank Wheeler Jr. - Have you ever seen a picture of Frank? Guy is a thousand years old, but looks fresh outta college. He's messing with some serious dark powers to keep that beauty, especially since the ugly of his soul is laid bare in his fiction. Have you read The Wowzer yet? Well, dark as that shit was, I still wasn't quite prepared for The Good Life. Someday I'm going to stop comparing his shit to Jim Thompson, but this is not that day, and no, I don't do it lightly. Why isn't everybody losing their shit over how good/bad these books are? Read them already.
Benjamin Whitmer - Somebody stomp on the motherfucker, he's on fire. Or y'know, smother him with a blanket... or pillow. Cry Father is getting the word out and further confirming all the glowing glorious praise heaped upon him here for years. 

Jonathan Woods - Good to catch up with Woodsy at NoirCon and congratulate him in person on his acquisition of New Pulp Press from Jon Bassoff. Good to hear NPP will sally forth, and hey, Jonathan's got a collection from Tim L. Williams up soon. Go support Tim, JW and NPP by pre-ordering the shit outta Skull Fragments as soon as it's ready. Meantime the short film adapted from his short story Swingers Anonymous makes the film fest circuits, hope we can catch up with it soon - here's the trailer.

Josh Woods - I got stopped by a stranger on the street this summer asking me about Josh and when he might have a book out. Seems she'd been in attendance at the N@B event where Woods read Jesus Vs. Thor from the Vs. Anthology (which he edited) and it had made an impression. I think it made an impression on all present. Performances like that are what keep me doing N@B. So, now I join the stranger in desperation... when will we have a Josh Woods book? Until that time, whenever it is, you should hunt down his stories and mainline them. You might start with Surreal South '13 which he edited, having taken the reigns from Laura & Pinckney Benedict.

Nic Young - I think my emails are getting stopped at the border, 'cause I keep suggesting that Nic and Roger Smith hop a flight from South Africa to do a special Cape Town edition of N@B, but sadly this has not and may never happen. I keep my eyes peeled, but have yet to find more Young to point you toward (so check him out in Warmed and Bound and Noir at the Bar vol. 2).

Sunday, January 11, 2015

N@B Newsletter Vol. 5

Scott Phillips - Hop Alley took us back to the randy frontier first visited in Cottonwood and damn, but it was good to be there. Word is he's working on a book populated by nice people next. Say it ain't so.

Tawny Pike - Kicked a little ass, took a little class, passed a little gas. Them's the rumors. The waters roil beneath the surface. When she breaks, you'll know about it. Meanwhile biding time and biting nails.
Robert J. Randisi - Still going strong with no signs of stopping. N@B's pulp-master don't mess around.

John Rector - Word is he may get back this way for a repeat performance at N@B and I, for one, am a little tingly at the prospect. Rector zigs where you expect a zag and when he goes dark shit gets muuuuurky. Can be funny as hell too. Come back, John.
Caleb J. Ross - To my knowledge, the only N@B alum with an entire anthology of fiction dedicated to his violation. FCJR was published anonymously, but a list of Caleb's noted haters have been dying in hilariously gruesome manner in the last few months. KCMO's literary mad hatter's critical output has stepped up as his creative body has been in stasis. Here's hoping for more stories and novels from Mr. Ross soon.

Jack Ryan - Last time I saw Jack we were using each other's bodies for warmth while trying to speak coherently on a panel at an outdoor book festival. At said panel, he got the news that a particular publisher was responding favorably to the first in a series novel he'd submitted to them recently. Here's hoping we get to see that soon. Meanwhile he's rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ken Bruen in the first issue of Noir Riot presented by Noir Con and Out of the Gutter.

Theresa Schwegel - The Good Boy deserved fudge. When next I see Theresa it will have been too long. Hope you're doing swell.

Anthony Neil Smith - Published Once a Warrior, the follow up to All the Young Warriors, successfully handed off Plots With Guns to the very promising hands of Sean O'Kane and even announced one of 2015's most anticipated books, Worm as well as hinted that Billy Lafitte #4 was on the way. Well done, sir. 

Friday, January 9, 2015


Hey kids - I'll get back on the N@B Newsletter posts soon, plus I owe you November/December Crime Flicks not to mention the HBW Crime Flick Picks for 2014, reading recs and guest posts... but it's come to my attention that links to previous pieces I've written for other sites are no longer working, posts are disappearing and such, so I'm going to be re-posting some older non-HBW stuff here over the next few weeks/months - looking for opportune times to drop them.

Like now. Why? 'Cause N@B-star Jake Hinkson has another fucking book out, that's why. That's right, The Deepening Shade - Jake's first collection of short fiction is here and that is good, big news. No secret that he's one of my favorite things going in our corner of lit-lab. So, here's a piece I wrote about the first Hinkson book I read, Hell on Church Street...

Just what year is it, now? I know it’s January, and we’re all adjusting some, but I mean what decade are we in? Because I just read a brand new book that I could swear was a Gold Medal original written by a lesser known Jim Thompson contemporary. Who is this Jake Hinkson and why do I suspect that he spent long stretches of his formative years locked in his grandfather’s basement trying to memorize scripture while surrounded by a secret collection of lurid paperbacks from the 1950s and 60s? By the way, that’s a recommendation, folks.

Hinkson’s debut Hell on Church Street is the story told by Geoffrey Webb, a con-man possessed of a limited, but specialized skill-set. He’s worked his way into a cushy gig as the youth pastor of a small Southern Baptist Church in Arkansas, a role he can play in his sleep. He knows what’s expected of him and he delivers without any bigger plans, which would only complicate things, until he becomes obsessed with the pastor’s teenage daughter, and his ambition is unlocked. He dreams a dream and makes a plan which he puts into play a step at a time.

As will happen when the status quo is busted up, the inner workings of the social machine are exposed and Geoffrey finds that his actions haven’t merely risked him losing his comfortable job and position, but that he’s upset the plans of some ruthless local gangsters (some who wear badges) and now he must fix it, or else.

Here’re some of the virtues that Hell on Church Street shares with those classic hardboiled pulps of yesteryear:

EDITORIAL NOTE: the following virtues I praised about Hell on Church Street extend to all of Hinkson's subsequent works

* I never knew where this thing was headed. There was no big twist that it was all building up to and therefore it didn’t waste time faking me out with tired tricks and sorry misleads. What it did instead was put me into the head of a compelling narrative figure, locked the door, ditched the parachutes and started a fire in the cockpit.

* It didn’t apologize. I don’t mind a character trying to fool himself in order to do a bad thing, but please stop trying to pull a fast one on me. Please, please, please cut it out with the all the special circumstances that allow your otherwise sympathetic character to stoop to dirty deeds. It’s insulting. I feel embarrassed for both of us. Nope, in this one, Geoffrey Webb is a man going after what he wants and doing increasingly terrible things to get it, and while he’s still got a soul, he’s not under any illusions that it’s in very good shape. He knows he’ll burn, but that’s not going to stop him. Not by a long shot.

* I didn’t second-guess the logic. One of hardest parts of stooping to that ‘special circumstances’ type of crime story is having to constantly jerry-rig the reader’s brain to ‘off’. Let’s just say I’ve been on a few bad dates. Thankfully, Hell on Church Street never tried any of those clumsy ‘drop your guard’ moves before trying to slip its fingers into my brainpan and manufacture an unnatural result. It simply told a story that I was free to finish or drop.

And brothers and sisters, I finished it. Quick. Like in two savage late-night sessions, that easily could’ve been one, but for the vino. And I’m wondering now, what’s the deal with those guys at New Pulp Press and their nexus of crime and church fascination? In the last year they also released Heath Lowrance’s The Bastard Hand and Jesus Angel Garcia’s Badbadbad. They’re carving out their own special niche in crime publishing here.

If Hell on Church Street is any indication, Jake Hinkson has got some sharp, nasty chops, and I'll be first in line for his next one.

Catch up with him at his website and prepare for his collection of essays coming soon!

Monday, January 5, 2015

N@B Newsletter Vol. 4

Matthew McBride - Not even living in the country any longer. Dude sold off or smoked up all his possessions and got the fuck out. Find him in Indonesia. Or amnesia or something I forgot. You won't find him. The good news? He's working on a new novel that sounds sweet. Suuuuuper sweet. Miss you, brother, take care of yourself.

Jon McGoran - McGoran's debut novel (under his own name) Drift won accolades and scared the crap out of people for the last couple of years. Hell, it made me start washing my hands after peeing. I know, not quite connected, but y'know... germs n shit. Health shit. Hey, I live in Monsanto-town. If you like having the holy heck forcibly removed from you through a choose your own adventure orifice, Deadout, his 2014 sequel, ought to do the trick.

Kyle Minor - Praying Drunk finally landed early in the year and in the least news-worth update ever - was amazing. Yeah, this guy, man. If there's one thing his stories of faith-afflicted, pain-magnets need more of, it's submarines. Mr. fancy-pants has wet his trousers by stepping into tinsel-town cesspool as a screenwriter. First up, periscope down. 
Aaron Michael Morales - Morales's next book Eat Your Children is somewhere in the works/edits/sales/publishes stage and regardless of subject matter, I have a prediction... incisive, and emotionally un-sparing. By the way, the last time I saw Morales... he was with Funk.

Derek Nikitas - Has written a dark YA time travel adventure novel The Pastime Project and a satire called Exploiting Tragedy. Far as I know darling Nikitas is still crotch-deep in his massive tome about Aleister Crowley, H.P. Lovecraft and W. B. Yeats (fiction, if that wasn't clear), and I'm still anxious to read it. I believe he spent most of 2014 hanging out with Denis Johnson.

J. David Osborne - Moved his publishing empire from hipster town-OK to nowheresville, Oregon, to be near folks like Jeremy Robert Johnson, Johnny Shaw, Barry Graham and Michael Kazepis and radically expand the Broken River Books brand to include several micro-imprints. What else? Um, the sequel to Low Down Death Right Easy - Black Gum Godless Heathen - continues to be monkeyed with, but God$ Fare No Better has seen a release as has his story collection Our Blood in Its Blind Circuit. Oh yeah, he scored a very small role in Jeremy Saulnier's follow up to his most excellent film Blue Ruin - Green Room. Also, rapping. 

Dan O'Shea - N@B alum most affected by the evaporation of Exhibit-A Books. Dude's second John Lynch book, Greed, had just been released, and his detective Shakespeare novel Rotten at the Heart (written as Bartholomew Daniels) was also recently published as the first in what looked to be a second series. So... damn. O'Shea's solid and I'm confident he'll find a new home for his word strings, but... sucks. Buck up, Danny boy... the pipes 'n all.

Ande Parks - Dood, Parks's latest, Ciudad, is a collaboration with Eric Skillman, Leon Gonzalez and those guys who directed Welcome to Collinwood (and that Winter Soldier movie last year), Joe Russo & Anthony Russo. Looks bad ass. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

N@B Newsletter Vol. 3

David James Keaton - 2014 saw the landing of Keaton's first novel, The Last Projector, and sometime in 2016 we'll probably hear the last of the thundering echoes of said landing. It's a monster, folks. Baffling, blustering, boisterous, badass. Time machines and incest and doggelgangers, plus plenty more bashing of authorities from N@B's resident wild one. How will Keats follow it up? With a weird western titled Pig Iron due from Burnt Bridge real soon. I believe I was present at the genesis of this one folks, as was Les Edgerton, Erik Lundy and N@B's late, great Cort McMeel. That was a great night, so I suspect it'll be a great book.

Matt Kindt - Dude is killing it with Mind MGMT on a monthly basis, plus motherfucker is contributing to the Star Wars universe with Rebel Heist?!? What's left, Kindt? I think there's space enough for a fifth likeness on Rushmore. 

Tim Lane - Lane's first book, Abandoned Cars, was a haunted trip down back road America that blended gorgeous film noir inspired black and white artwork inflected with surreal touches and natural prose that reveled in the mundane, the absurd and existential dread. 2014's The Lonesome Go is more of the same and just... more. Achingly beautiful and dreadful and a masterwork. Be sure to set an alarm if you're going to begin, you're bound to lose yourself inside. 

Chris La Tray - Missoula's metal man, N@B's fuckbeastiest member and modern pulp's most probable werewolf La Tray continues to rove the wilds of the country making musical mayhem and slaughtering silence with aplomb. A little too quiet on the fiction front for my appetites, but please avail yourself of what's out there and don't forget to stop by the Tater Pig Trading Company for a Harden The Fuck Up sticker or DonkeyGirl Wolf tunic dress!

Clayton Lindemuth - Lindemuth's two-year output was remarkable not just for the number of books or their breadth of scope (rough fiction, financial theory and consolation for those bereft of beloved dogs), but for the quality of the prose and storytelling (in the fiction). If you're wondering whether to check out Lindemuth's latest novel Tread, get thee to his website where you can read And Sometimes Bone, the pre-quel to Nothing Save the Bones Inside Her for free. 

Erik Lundy - KCMo's resident badass and one man knuckle-sammich distribution hub Lundy wields other titles like writer, illustrator, graphic designer and stand up comedian, but most importantly - he keeps me amused. A-muz-ed. Scroll through his Knuckle Sammich site anytime you need to scratch an itch relating to food, crafts, boobies, mustaches or monkeys. Not always my first stop, but always my last.

Jason Makansi - Patriarch of the Makansi writing dynasty and super smart dude who frequently slums with the great unwashed at N@B. Gotta gotta gotta convince him to slum a bit more, 'cause his  performance at N@B is still the best use of 'nipples' we've yet had. Looking for some nastkansi flavor to sprinkle on my new year.