Tuesday, May 28, 2013

N@B-NYC IV

What the? Where the? How the? Riiiight. Still in New York, still a wee bit hungover. Still being spoilt by my hosts and still not sure it was all real. Buuuut, here're my recollections of Sunday's N@B-NYC.

Pre-event chats and libations are a blur, but I recall Justin Porter kicking things off with aplomb and possibly a plum stuffed into the sleeves of his t-shirt - the muscles, kids, would be intimidating enough without the writing chops. His veteran-themed story from Thuglit Issue 5 was Memorial Day weekend appropriate. Nothing else was.

Take Josh Bazell, for instance, whose not-yet-published short story with the title that escapes me featured a disgraced doctor only employable as an assistant to the executioner for lethal-injections being threatened by skinheads to pull off an impossible con-job on the state. His motive: infatuation with the wife of a douche-bag who shares his name.

Or, if memory serves - which, come to think of it, it never does, does it? - Dana C. Kabel was up next and gave us a cautionary tale of armed robbery that ended with a 'BANG'.

Attendees at the event were the first to hear a piece from the final Moe Prager novel (to be released in 2014?) by Reed Farrel Coleman. It'll be number nine and all sunshine and roses for Moe if the previous eight are indicative of the series' direction.

Rob W. Hart followed with the second selection from the forthcoming Otto Penzler edited antho Kwik Krimes I'd heard in a week, (Christa Faust read her story from the book at N@B-Denver Thursday night), and if those two samples are any indication, it's gonna be a strong, bite-sized, sampling of today's hardboiled crime scene.

Co-host, Todd Robinson stepped up to the mic next for an animated rendition of an interrogation chapter from The Hard Bounce - you read it, right? you sure as shit should. No, not the one where they beat up the skinny artiste - which, hey, was a cathartic read, no? - but the one where Boo & Junior dance around their qualms with laying a hand on a woman, even one as morbidly rubenesque as the bruiser from the video store.

And who, who do you think had to, the shit, follow that? I went for yucks rather than yuks with a particularly pulpy (or fragmenty, or brain-mattery) scene from Fierce Bitches. Kinda killed the mood.

But, Kieran Shea came through like a champ with his story Anne Gets a Ride from D*CKED - the one that puts Dick Cheney on the bus from Speed with slightly different results than Jan de Bont delivered. This performance restored the buzz everybody had been building before I pissed in the punch bowl.

Next, Dennis Tafoya read from his upcoming novel about a federal marshall pitted against her own father in what I'm sure will be another heart-wrencher, bone-breaker of a tragic crime novel. Can't wait to get to the bottom of that one.

Scott Adlerberg read a chapter from his novel Spiders and Flies that took a nasty-ass turn at the end. Good thing I picked up a copy of the book at the bar, I'm gonna have to find out what happens next.

J.I. Baker has me rooting for World War Z. to be a monster hit film, only to make Marc Forster's adaptation of Baker's fantastic debut novel The Empty Glass a sure-thing. It was one of my favorite books of last year and after Jim read from it Sunday night, I think a lot more folks are going to be compelled to check it out. (What the hell you waiting for, it's in paperback, now!)

Keith Gilman put this beast down with a flash piece like an executioner's finishing bullet and the crowd looked around dazed, confused, and not nearly drunk enough. So, more drinking followed.

And what follows drinking? Pizza - duh. So after a few words with attendees including Jason Starr, Megan Abbott, Richie Narvaez, Seamus Scanlon, Robert Lee and Albert Tucher, I joined Co-host and sugar-daddy Glenn Gray, Shea, Adlerbert, Tafoya, Robinson and Gilman for a slice or two or six and more talky talky.

Thanks so much to Glenn & Todd, and Laurie and Skeen and Alison and the whole Gray clan for making it all possible. Man, I need a drink.

Austin, you're next.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

WTF Are You?



W- BTW stands for 'Where'

Friday, May 24, 2013

Adjurned

Holy crap am I dry. Just cracked throat, skin and eyeballs. Got that mile-high arid climate to adjust to, kids. Or, maybe all the beer and coffee yesterday has something to do with it. 

Here's a quick recap of last night's N@B-Denver (and check out that photo: Norb Vonnegut throwing gang signs, Jon Bassoff singing the national anthem and Mario Acevedo signaling Twist Phelan to steal second - chaos Denver style).

Hosts/emcees Bassoff and Acevedo welcomed the throngs (over a hundred people jammed into this bar) and touched briefly on the Cort McMeel sized hole in the event before kicking off the fiction of questionable taste.

Norb Vonnegut read a passage from his book in progress detailing a sordid matter of financial malfeasance and followed that up with an anecdote about the event that inspired the story.

J.L. Abramo proceeded to introduce the hardboiled segment of the evening with a selection from his next book - a prequel of sorts to Catching Water in a Net.

Next, Kristina Murray belted out an acoustic number from her roots, americana, country-tinged catalog. Go check out her website for a better idea of what you missed.

Next up, Michael Lion made the badass vibe even worse with a crazy violent passage from The Butcher's Granddaughter, and I was pleased to learn that there's a follow up coming down the pike.

Finally, Christa Faust put the oiled in the hardboiled with a flash piece from an upcoming Otto Penzler edited anthology. While you're waiting for that to hit the shelves, check out the first of her (three?) planned Fringe novels The Zodiac Paradox (and lookie who's got his own gun-manufacturing empire in that one.)

They let me say a few more things about Cort afterwards and it dawned on me after that that the very first conversation Scott Phillips and I ever had was about Murdaland magazine and just a few Short years later Cort was in St. Louis for N@B - which he then turned around and sprouted his own franchise of with Bassoff, Acevedo and Benjamin Whitmer, which in turn heavily influenced the patriarch Peter Rozovsky to pull a phoenix with N@B-Philly on the very night we were commemorating him. Cort's influence will be felt for a long time to come.

It was great hanging out afterwards with the whole gang including Nick Arvin, Court Merrigan, Jay Halsey, Twist Phelan and many more whose names are lost in a fizzy oat soda. Early lunch at Shelby's with Arvin and late night breakfast at Pete's Kitchen with Bassoff, Faust and Whitmer fucking rocked BTW. I recommend the pancake sandwich.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Black Attack

Here's a little taste of what you, the hell, missed at N@B the other night. 

That's Matt Kindt performing one of the coolest live-reading pieces I've ever seen. His latest graphic novel, Red Handed, contains a story-line about an art thief and insurance fraud artist who slices up art works and sells the individual pieces.

The audio content was a pre-recorded bit of Matt reading from the book's script while re-creating the accompanying page of the book live in watercolor - which he then cut into many pieces and gave to audience members. It was a tightly choreographed performance and I'm not making a hyperbolic claim when I refer to it as mesmerizing.

He closed out the evening with the performance piece because nooooobody wanted to follow that. But hell, he had to follow David James Keaton reading Life Expectancy in a Trunk (Depends on Traffic) from his brand new book Fish Bites Cop, and when you're following Keats, you'd best bring something fresh. If you're listening, Keaton, this here's a formal request for more stories about CAT The Skip Tracer and his unknown rival and homicidal bounty hunter.

'Course the evening was kicked off hard by Fred Venturini's excruciatingly precise letter from a stalker to his target he plans to torture and kill. If N@B ever does a Valentine's Day themed anthology, I'll want this story. Got a chance to talk with Fred about the current status of his no longer available debut novel, The Samaritan, and it sounds like exciting things are happening. Looking forward to the next incarnation of that one.

If you're in or around Denver, Philadelphia, Los Angeles or New York this week, check out the N@B event nearest you (and if you're hitting Denver or New York - I will see you there!)

And if you're in Austin - I want to see you at N@B June 16. I'll be reading with Scott Phillips and Jesse Sublett - how bout those bad muthas on Father's Day? BTW - Phillips' latest wrongest book Rake is available now. You haven't picked it up yet? Jackass.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Missing Links

Just a few quick links - some things I have yet to mention over here in the middle of promoting N@B events. First up, Ryan Sayles gave me the business at The Noir Affliction, his interview series published at Out of the Gutter. We set out to discuss my growth as an artist and mostly made dick jokes. 

And I contributed a piece to the Crimespree magazine blog 5 (Sort of) Books That Changed My Life... aaaaand I took the opportunity to bash Willa Cather and heap praise on Oliver Stone - cause, I'm so classy.

Also, I shook off five month's worth of dust and put my two cents in at Barnes & Noble for Mother's Day. To praise my own sweet mother? Heh, no. To suggest that you appreciate yours more than you do? Ehhhh, you could perhaps stretch it to fit that criteria, but the idea behind the piece was to highlight the worst mothers in crime fiction (plus films and such). Some awful good selections I didn't include on there... I'd love to hear your suggestions too.

And while I'm having a tickle fight with roomie Benjamin Whitmer after the Denver N@B event on May 23, Peter Rozovsky will be candidly assessing the odds of casting out my usurping ass and reclaiming the N@B throne while basking or baking in the afterglow from N@B-Philadelphia's first event in four (five?) years! Considering he's commissioned Dennis Tafoya and Wallace Stroby to carry out the coup, I'd say his odds are good.

So, I'll have to be extra wiley upon my meeting with Tafoya on the 26th for N@B-NYC. If he tries to stab me I plan on hiding behind Glenn Gray and Todd Robinson after dousing Reed Farrel Coleman in pheromones to distract him and hoping Josh Bazell bares a little resemblance to Peter Brown and can ninja-chop him good. Otherwise, it's up to Kieran Shea's apeshit Drunk Hulk act to save my life... Damn... look at that lineup... It'll be my first time in New York, and I'm not sure how they usually do things, but, holy crap - 12 readers? - whatever they pay their fluffers... it ain't enough.

But, shit, don't miss out on the St. Louis action Friday the 17th with Matt Kindt, David James Keaton and Fred Venturini. I can already see Saturday's Post Dispatch headline: Samaritan Catches Fish Red Handed Biting Cop Muscles.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Business of Business: Thomas Kaufman Guest Piece


Thomas Kaufman, author of the Willis Gidney series, Drink the Tea and Steal the Show, has a new book of short stories out this week - Erased. A couple years ago, Tom contributed a swell guest piece on technique in writing violence, and I was delighted to have him back with this one on -

- The Business of Business
By Thomas Kaufman

For an author, writing about a character in a scene is often like acting a part. The writer must see things from that character’s perspective, especially if the writer wants to populate her story with interesting characters.  An actor looks not only at the surface of what his character does and says, but also the sub-text, the dark undercurrents that move in surprising ways.

A scene brings together forces in opposition, and there’s an end result that propels the story forward.  Great, but sometimes a scene plays a little, well, flat.  What to do?

When an actor talks about business, he may be talking about box office gross or union dues.  Or he could be talking about business — the actions he takes while delivering lines or listening to their fellow actors.  And the business can be inspired.  Even brilliant. For writers as well as actors.

Drama, after all, comes from the Latin, and means action.  So it’s natural for an actor to request from the director something to do in a scene, or even to suggest a piece of business for themselves.
Making the movie Out of the Past, Kirk Douglas kept trying to steal scenes from Robert Mitchum with different bits of business.  Maybe playing with a coin, or spinning a gold watch fob.  Director Jacques Tourneur had his hands full.  In one scene, while Mitchum and Douglas are sparring, actor Paul Valentine leafs through the pages of a magazine. That’s business too, though it wasn’t discussed beforehand. The next day the cast and crew were watching dailies and Tourneur noticed the magazine business.  He turned to Valentine and said, “Oh, Paul, now I have to keep an eye on you, too?

A great piece of business occurs when Patrick Stewart played Macbeth.  Stewart, age 70 at the time of filming, gives an energetic performance.  He delivers his lines in a way that makes them easily understood. 

At the beginning of Act III, Macbeth meets with two murders and argues them into to killing not only Banquo, but his family as well.  When the killers tell Macbeth that they are men, Macbeth says, “Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men, as hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs, shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves are clept all by the name of dogs.

While, in a poor actor, this could sound like a laundry list, Stewart makes it great.  Still he felt there was something wanting in the scene. So he went to the director, Rupert Goold, and said he had an idea for a bit of business in that scene. What? Asked Goold.

I make them a sandwich," Stewart said.

Okay, most directors would look most actors in the eye and say, “You must be joking.” But this was no ordinary actor, and Goold was no ordinary director. So they talked about it, and decided the business could be made to work quite well in this scene. Take a look, it’s only a few minutes long.  I’ll just hang out and buff my nails.

Macbeth, and the Business of Business from Thomas Kaufman on Vimeo.


What’s wonderful about this is the way Stewart makes the sandwich ­ how his actions sometimes correlate and other time counterpoint his words. Also, look at how the other actors incorporate the business into their performances as well. Example:  Stewart hands them each some sandwich.  In fact, he’s sealing the bargain for Banquo’s murder. And no sooner do they take the food than Stewarts commands that they must kill Banquo’s family as well. Now the younger killer finds the food is stuck in his throat, he cannot “swallow” what Macbeth is telling him.

So when you write a scene, you should think of what the scene means, of course, and how it’s content drives the story forward. But don’t forget about the business of business too. It can add another dimension to what you’re writing. 

How about you? Have you ever run across a piece of memorable business?

Keep up with Thomas Kaufman at his website and follow him on Twitter @thomaskaufman and get your copy of Erased today.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

2013 in Crime Flicks: April


8 Million Ways to Die - Hal Ashby - The final film by Ashby (whose body of work included The Last Detail, Being There, Harold and Maude) is the adaptation of Lawrence Block's novel featuring his best known character Matthew Scudder (Jeff Bridges was also, at one time, attached to play Block's hit man Keller - dunno why that fizzled... as did Harrison Ford as Scudder in a Joe Carnahan adaptation of A Walk Among the Tombstones - but never fear, we'll instead get Liam Neeson directed by Scott Frank on that project - apparently Whoopi Goldberg was not available). Even though I never really bought his recovering alcoholic bit, Bridges is so effortlessly watchable, I could have gone for another hour of him stumbling around drunk or squaring off against Andy GarciaBest moment: The warehouse exchange is top-notch, really excellently written, staged and edited. So much yelling, so much tension. If the whole movie had been this caliber, there'd have been a hit franchise.

10 to Midnight - J. Lee Thompson - A psycho/slasher is stalking the women of Los Angeles and one cop knows who the killer is. He has the monster in his crosshairs, only one thing stands in his way - the motherfucking constitution. Best moment: the stark nekkid killer chasing a stark nekkid lady through the woods.

Carl Panzram: The Spirit of Hatred & Vengeance - John Borowski - A documentary on the notorious criminal that contains probably all you'll ever want to know about the man. The treatment of his claims is deferential and the retroactive psychological evaluations pretty slight and unnecessary. Also, the dramatized bits are flimsy. Still, there's no denying the power of his recorded words - which continue to bait, provoke and horrify eighty years later. Recommended infinitely more than the narrative film Killer: A Journal of Murder also covered in this post. Best moment: interview footage of his guard and only friend Henry Lesser giving his first-hand accounts.

Deadfall - Stefan Ruzowitzky - Dammit. Just... dammit. This one had so much going for it - cool setting (snowpocalyptic no man's land near the Canadian border) great set-up (a brother and sister who just robbed a casino split up after a car accident and make their separate, desperate ways toward that invisible line in the snow while a manhunt ensues - on snowmobiles!) and a cast with promise (Eric Bana, Kris Kristofferson, Sissy Spacek, Treat Williams, Kate Mara, Olivia Wilde and un-Jax hisself Charlie Hunnam). Confined, wound-tight action with a solid cast - this should have been Desperate Hours meets No Country For Old Men, but instead was... not. Felt like three or four good movies buried in the complexities of the cast's relationships, but they crowd each other here and end up feeling half-baked. Too much ham and coincidence too. Really nice look to it, though. I'll give it that. Can we have a re-do? Best moment: end of the snowmobile chase.

Double Indemnity - Billy Wilder - Been a while since I'd seen this one. Damn fine film. Hasn't changed. What can I possibly say about this one that hasn't already been said a hundred times? If you've never seen it, just... just do. Best moment: Walter makes a pass. The dialogue Dietrichson and Neff said. Nuff said.

Essential Killing - Jerzy Skolimowski - Jerry Lewis in The Bellboy, Holly Hunter in The Piano and now Vincent Gallo in Essential Killing, 'cause if you've not got something perfect to say, be perfectly silent. This is a terrific idea for an adventure flick. The setup is simplicity itself and the urgency of the action never lets up. A detainee of the US, captured in Afghanistan, survives an auto accident en-route from one hell-hole to another somewhere in mountainous Europe (France?Germany? Austria? I dunno - as I'm sure he doesn't) and manages to slip away into the forest amid the chaos. The rest of the film is a series of survival vignettes that require Gallo's character to commit crimes (trespassing, thieving, killing, even a pseudo-sexual assault) in order to stay alive. Best moment: Gallo's Mohammed suffers hallucinations from the pretty red  berries he's been munching.

The Good, The Bad, The Weird - Jee-woon Kim - Just another example of the insane level of creativity and energy pumping out of Korean cinema these days. This one is no Chaser, I Saw the Devil, Oldboy or The Yellow Sea - It's light-weight all the way, but this is some amazing action-spectacle motion-picture stuff. And funny? Shit, Kang-ho Song is as comically amazing in this action movie as a Jackie Chan, Kurt Russell or Eddie Murphy might be at their best. Best moment: Gonna have to go with the balls-to-the-fourth-walls desert chase sequence near the end. Just builds and builds. Over the top audacious, gorgeous picture poetry there - worthy of its predecessors Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Road Warrior.

House of Cards: Season 1 - Beau Willimon - If the syrupy sound of Kevin Spacey's southern affectation is too much for you, look elsewhere for tonight's viewing. And if you want some token focus on policy in your political dramas this ain't the place after all. But, if you're a bit chilly on human nature, if you're a wee bit jaded on the democratic process, or if you've just got a thing for sophisticated, muted nastiness this is worth checking out. Good supporting cast too - I'd really like to see Michael Kelly get a much-deserved spotlight out of this series. Best moment: probably the post-coital speech Spacey delivers while zipping up, "Everything is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power."

Jack Taylor: The Guards - Stuart Orme - Sigh... It'd be great if Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor books got some new readership out of this series of TV movies (one movie per book - the first three The Guards, The Pikemen and The Magdalen Martyrs are now available in the States), but I doubt these films will satisfy anybody who comes to them through the books. Iain Glen makes a fine Jack, but the episodes themselves drop all the wrong aspects of the books and instead focus on the half-there (and frankly, silly-feeling without all the heart and soul the books are really about) mystery story lines. In fact, just about the only plot point I recall from The Guards (making it the most striking and well, worth remembering) is dropped here. To soften the impact, or just to demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding what makes the source material so worthy, I'm not sure. Do yourself a favor and read the fuckers first. Best moment: just giving a little visual detail to the Galway streets to fill out some of Bruen's spare descriptions is, admittedly, mostly, nice.


Justified: Season 3 - Graham Yost - After taking such a quantum leap forward in quality from season one to season two, I held my breath for the third outing for Raylan Givens and Harlan County's most colorful residents. So, no Margo Martindale in season three. Her absence is notable, and hardly made up for by the additions of Mykeltie Williamson and Neal McDonaugh, though each prove to have their own merits (a revelation for McDonaugh who is too square-jawed to play a straight hero - instead, they made him a very polished sadist and it mostly worked), but Jeremy Davies continues to be a welcome presence, as did Jere Burns, Raymond J. Berry, David Muenier, Kevin Rankin, Damon Herriman and Jim Beaver. Hell, even Michael Ironside showed up. There was an odd shift back to a more quasi-episodic quality in season three, but I enjoyed the central story. Oxy War Money Hunt shoulda gone on the poster. No season two, but I'm still way on board. Best moment: Raylan provokes Wynn Duffy, who spends most of the season sniveling and cowering, to a brilliant flash of his previous unhinged scariness.

Killer: A Journal of Murder - Tim Metcalfe - You wanna terrify me with anticipation? Just tell me you've lined up fucking James Woods to portray Carl Panzram in a biopic. I couldn't believe I'd never heard of this flick, and I was really prepared to shit myself in fright - not at all sure I wanted to experience the film, but positive that I had to give it a shot. I really thought I might turn it off in disgust - simply not able to handle it - and I nearly did, though that is not at all a testament to the considerable skill of Mr. Woods, but rather the significant lack of guts on the part of the film makers. A  less satisfying film about Panzram is impossible to imagine. Just saying his name makes me queasy, but this flick seems determined to castrate the memory of the remarkable thief, murder and serial rapist. The power of his name over me is due to the potency of his words, scribbled on paper smuggled in and out of his cell by his compassionate guard Henry Lesser, in which he tells the story of his life - a chronicle of brutalities committed against him and by him in turn. The film calls the accuracy of his autobiography into question without ever really delving into the content - for example: in his book, Panzram claims to have raped over a thousand men and boys, a claim never mentioned in the film and only hinted at in a tastefully vague aside. In fact, the only rape dealt with at all is of a woman, in circumstances that, had the act not occurred, we're led to believe, could have led to a fulfilling romantic relationship. Another problem is that the movie never decides whether it wants to be Panzram's story or Lesser's and I can't imagine either of the actual men being less displeased with the outcome than I am. Clearly the film wants to humanize the man who portrayed himself as a goblin - evil personified - but never taking his claims head-on, and focusing instead on the murder he committed inside prison (of an abusive guard), and his subsequent trial and execution is to entirely miss the point of the man's significance - the words he left behind - the simultaneous evidence of his depravity, intelligence and humanity. They shake us because there is clearly a human being beneath the seething hatred (whether it's exaggerated or not) and distilled animosity the man seemed to excrete. They shake us because they indict us both for being part of the machination that created the monster and for our shared capability to become monstrous. And certainly a compelling film could be made about Lesser, but this one treats him as a cardboard liberal saint and the relationship between he and Panzram as ham-handed as an after-school special on prison reform. The final head-shakingly bizarre beat, just before the closing credits role, we're informed that the film is dedicated to Sam PeckinpahGah! Weak tea. Best moment: a quick anecdote about Panzram being the flag-bearer for the prison marching band.

Skyfall - Sam Mendes -'Sometimes the old ways are the best' may as well have been the title. The line itself was spoken at least twice, but visually echoed the whole damn time. Old vs. New, big vs. little, personal vs. political - it's strange to watch a Bond film and get distracted by thematic conversation the film is having with you. Shit starts blowing up and the movie is tapping you on the shoulder pssst, hey, watch what we do right here. It should be annoying as hell, but somehow it wasn't. It opens with an over-the-top action set-piece and closes in a home invasion. In fact, the climax is like Patriot Games invading Straw Dogs (I really expected Daniel Craig to start boiling water). Best moment: the back-lit, single-shot hand to hand fight scene in the tall building - a reply to the critics of the frenetic editing style of action movies that feels like part concession and part middle finger.

Spring Breakers - Harmony Korine - Spring break, that moment of carefree sexual abandon and privileged libidinous innocence before the onslaught of college finals, is now a rite of passage - almost a microcosm of the entire collegiate experience  before the onset of adult responsibility - so generationally recognized, that for four friends trapped in the duldrums of midwestern small-town life, it is owed to them and they feel entitled to claim their slice of the American Dream by any means necessary. In their case, it's a goal they have been saving for all year, but have come up woefully short of being able to afford. So, forced by fate to become desperadoes, the girls rob a restaurant to finance their lifestyle (hey, the stockbrokers do it). Once on the beach, the ends have clearly justified the means - schlong and thong abound, titties bounce and wits are trounced as oblivion beckons unburden yourself... Until things get a bit too loud one night and the girls end up arrested for disturbing the peace. They cool their heels in a jail cell until they're bailed out by a complete strangest - Alien, the great white (hip)-hop (the transcendent James Franco) - who recognizes kindred spirits when he sees them. He whisks them away from the institutionalized and contained middle-class debauchery they think they want and introduces them to 'Spring Break Forever' - the 24-7 lifestyle that comes with the secret ingredient they didn't know they'd been missing - rage. These (ahem) fierce bitches find their calling knocking over tourists - mostly college kids like they used to be before they went pro - and engaging in gun battles over turf with a rival drug dealer's crew. It's a trashily beautiful film (shot in an almost Terence Malick style - lush visuals with voice-over from fragmented, non-linear scenes laid out in an impressionistic, mosaic), and is in conversation with many others - especially the old beach movies of the 60's like How to Stuff a Wild Bikini or Beach Blanket Bingo, that also starred ex-Disney ingenues (Annette Funicello in the past, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens today). The beach movies of the 60's were exploitation flicks so square and confoundedly innocent unless you think of them as 'your dad's exploitation movies,' they seem to have been made much more for adult audiences looking to revel in a little young, buoyant flesh and teeter near the wild-side without ever going over the edge. The edge seems to have moved a bit further over since then, but it's clearly recognizable when our protagonists cross it. Which brings us to another film Spring Breakers is borrowing context from. The timing of the release of Sam Raimi's Oz the Great & Powerful, with Franco as the titular wizard, is a benefit to Alien's role as the shyster leading our midwestern heroines over the rainbow. Best moment: Alien leads a sing-along around the piano. Seriously, if nobody in Britney Spears camp cuts a video to this footage, the ball has been dropped big time.

Terriers - Ted Griffin - How many fucking seasons of Bones has there now been? Or Castle? What about The Closer, The Mentalist and all the CSIs, SVUs and NCISs? You gonna tell me we can't have one fucking non-forensic, non-OCD, non-profiler, non-genius, non-best-of-the-best-of-the-best detective show? Come on, this thing was a winner - great cast with amazing chemistry, great dialogue, real heart and humor. It was episodic, but had an engaging over-arching storyline that had consequence and relevance. It was deceptively breezy, smart, comfortable working with tropes and working within a tradition, honoring what came before with the broad strokes, while subverting expectations in all the details. This was fucking Rockford Files and Midnight Run's very legitimate child. So, of course, it's cancelled in the first season. Fuckers. I want to watch it again. Best moment: right after the first episode when you realize there are eleven more to go.