Friday, December 23, 2016
by Paul D. Marks
Actually, I’m working on several short stories, writing blogs and working on another novel besides the one mentioned above. I like being busy, especially busy with writing. And always hoping for more time to be reading. So there’s two of three Rs accounted for. I’m not so fond of the third R, ’rithmetic, but a .666 batting average ain’t too bad, certain other implications of that number aside.
But yeah, maybe somewhere in there there’s room for a hot toddy (I don’t like eggnog) and some family time and Christmas movies. We’ve already started on those, having watched Miracle on 34th Street and Love Actually. Hey, some things you gotta do.
And since it’s Christmas Eve-Eve, some fave Christmas movies:
The Shop Around the Corner (Jimmy Stewart, Margaret Sullivan, directed by Ernst Lubitsch)
Christmas in Connecticut (Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet, S.Z. Sakall)
A Christmas Story (Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Jean Shepherd)
A Christmas Carol (we usually watch at least one version of this every year, though the favorite for both of us is the Alastair Sim version)
Remember the Night (Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, screenplay by Preston Sturges)
It’s a Wonderful Life (Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, directed by Frank Capra)
Holiday Affair (Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh)
But if you’re looking for something not quite so Christmasy, but not as dark as noir, and not in the crime/gangster genres, give some of these a shot (in no particular order):
Soldier in the Rain (Steve McQueen, Jackie Gleason, Tuesday Weld, based on a novel by William Goldman)
A Hard Day’s Night (the Beatles)
The Searchers (John Wayne, Natalie Wood, directed by John Ford)
Shane (Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur)
American Hardcore (no, it’s not porn, it’s about the punk rock movement)
It’s Alive 1974-1996 (The Ramones in concert, though it looks like it’s out of print, still can find it on eBay, but CD is available)
Ruthless People (Bette Midler, Danny DeVito, Judge Reinhold, directed by the Airplane guys)
Uncle Buck (John Candy)
Planes, Trains, Automobiles (John Candy, Steve Martin)
Only the Lonely (John Candy, Ally Sheedy)
Sullivan’s Travels (Veronica Lake, Joel McCrea, directed by Preston Sturges; also The Lady Eve, another Sturges movie)
Sideways (Paul Giamatti, Thomas Hayden Church, Sandra Oh, Virginia Madsen)
Ghost World (Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi)
Philadelphia Story (Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart)
His Girl Friday (Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell)
Thin Man movies (Bill and Myrna—and TCM is doing a marathon today)
And Now My Love (Toute une vie) (Marthe Keller, André Dussollier, Directed by Claude Lelouch)
If you have kids, some older Disney live-action movies they might not ordinarily see:
In Search of the Castaways (Hayley Mills, Maurice Chevalier, George Sanders, based on a story by Jules Verne)
Old Yeller (good movie, but might make kids sad) (Dorothy McGuire, Fess Parker, Tommy Kirk, Kevin Corcoran, Chuck Connors)
The Moon Spinners (Hayley Mills, Eli Wallach)
Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night!
I have a couple of appearances in January.
Santa Clarita: The Old Town Newhall Library
Saturday, January 14, 2017, from 10:00 AM-3:00 PM.
24500 Main St, Santa Clarita, CA 91321
Cerritos Library, where I’ll be moderating a panel:
Saturday, January 28 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
18025 Bloomfield Avenue, Cerritos, CA 90703
Thursday, December 22, 2016
By the time you read this I will be done. I'll have finished the first draft of a book, printed it out (dancing around to . . . haven't decided yet, but probably 'All I want for Christmas is You'), and slammed my office door. With me on the outside.
I'm going to move my pile of Christmas reading - carefully curated and then hoarded all year - to the coffee-table. I'll light a fire, put the kettle on for the first of many cups of tea and then . . . plamph! (That's the sound of a writer's bum hitting the couch, in case you didn't know).
|More will be added on Christmas Day, if the number of rectangular parcels is anything to go by.|
The two weeks until 12th Night when I start up again are the most relaxing of the whole year.
The house is stuffed with food and drink, so when friends come round there's no more to do than select some and spread it on the table. There's a pile of corny old films on DVD. It's California so there are sunny days to go walking and cycling. (It's California, so we also need to cut the grass at least once, though.)
Long Skypes with distant loved ones, sorties to the supermarkets for more feast-fixings, Christmas jigsaw-puzzles on the kitchen table with BBC Radio 4 on i-player. (If the boss lets me. Last night she was in two minds)
One of my favourite Christmas bits is counting up the year's loose change to go present-shopping. Neil and I started this tradition when we were acutely broke and it's stuck. We're constrained to one town, one afternoon (before we meet up for tea), and half the change-pot each. I recommend it for anyone who doesn't actually need more stuff. There's a bookshop, an ironmonger and a charity shop - what more could you want, really?
I hope you all have a wonderful winter break, whatever you're breaking from and breaking to.
See you next year.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
|An unusually snowy back deck|
|Tree ornaments gathered on my travels|
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Q: Are you taking a break or is this prime, quiet writing time for you?
My fault. I have too much to do, and instead of doing it in those valuable windows of opportunity, I endeavour to give myself something more fun to do, like take singing lessons.
As a result, this Christmas I'll be working pretty well all the way through, and when I get the worst of it done, when everyone else is reveling in snow and scotch, how can I possibly write?
My road seems paved with good intentions and to-do lists and New Year's resolutions. Although I love writing, and it's my favourite thing to do, I still put it on the back burner like it's the silliest of hobbies rather than a thing of value. It's the Grinch in me, the realist, the one who says don't bother; it's trite; the world needs bricks and bread, not more cops and robber fiction. Then there's the money factor....I doubt my cops and robbers will ever buy the essentials -- like bricks and bread.
What makes me write? Deadlines. I always manage to meet them, but barely.
Also coffee with my good writer pal. Our enthusiasm builds on itself, makes me restless to get back to that silliest of hobbies and start weaving Dion in and out of his personal catastrophes and inventing characters to subvert his efforts to be good.
Well, hey! I started to write this blog in a crummy mood. I meant to begin and end this post with one word ("neither"), along with the mopey emoji. But instead I've gone rambling on to a realization: I WILL find time to write this Christmas, and I'll love every minute of it, and just the thought of it right now fills me a sort of four-year-old glee, like I've got a day of tobogganing ahead of me.
Soon as I take care of this in-tray!!
Merry Christmas everybody.
Monday, December 19, 2016
Friday, December 16, 2016
I've never received a gift-wrapped book, per say. Once a lovely lady gave me a box of vintage comics from my lost childhood collection, but book books? I generally only receive them from folks after I've admitted I've never read title-x.
"Oh, my God. Here. Take it and let me know what you think of it."
Yeeeeeah. Lemme g'on 'head and push my to-do list back a couple of months so I can do that. Wanna schedule our discussion now? When are you good in, say, never?
My other issue with this week's question is I have great friends, many of whom follow our blog. They'll read this entry and whatever I mention will show up on my doorstep, in triplicate. Aw man. Decisions, decisions.
Got it. Hook me up with this one:
Thursday, December 15, 2016
We're getting to the panic-buying days. And nothing makes a better present than a book, right? What book would you most like as a gift? Tell us, and you can share this post with "someone" who needs to know!
When I was a kid, I wasn’t wild about getting books as gifts. Now that I’m an
adult older kid, I love it! For those who might want to get me a little somethin-somethin, here are some thoughts:
I’ve never read this (please don’t hate me):
Or this, either:
Of course, there’s a reason I haven’t read these books (too difficult for my feeble mind to understand all that old-timey English). This might be easier:
Or better yet (I like board books!):
Self-improvement books are usually a good idea. If results were guaranteed:
Here’s a book I don’t need anymore:
Maybe this one, to relieve stress:
I like cookbooks, but, please, not this one. Doesn’t look too appetizing.
And on that note, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
One of my favorite authors in recent years is James Crumley. A couple of weeks back I recommended some books here on 7 Criminal Minds, and one of them was One to Count Cadence. It was Crumley’s first novel and a great start to a brilliant writing career.
I’ve been working my way through his C.W. Sughrue books, and The Right Madness is the last one in the series. Published in 2005, this was also Crumley’s last novel and the final outing for his character C.W. Sughrue. And while it would be impossible for me to just pick one, The Right Madness is a book that I’d be happy to unwrap as a gift.
The story takes place in Crumley’s fictional Big Sky Country town of Meriwether, and centers on the P.I. after he’s asked by a psychiatrist friend to keep an eye on seven of his patients, who then mysteriously start to get bumped off, leaving Sughrue to solve the mystery in his usual drunken state, told in Crumley’s usual brilliant style.
So, if you're looking for a great read, and if you haven’t read any of his work, put The Right Madness on your own Christmas list, or start with the first one in this series, The Last Good Kiss. Wrap it up and surprise yourself. Then follow it with The Mexican Tree Duck and Bordersnakes. And get to know a great author and some terrific books.
And I do wish everyone a wonderful Holiday Season.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
white stuff. While Toronto and other parts south might be snowless, we could always be assured of snow in the wilds of Quebec. Since my nieces and nephews were babies, they have been coming to the cabin for Christmas to enjoy their playtime in the snow. There have been many snowball fights, toboggan races down the steepest hill and of course the quintessential hockey game on the frozen lake.