Category: Authors

RIP: Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier, actor, director, and writer died last night at the age of 94. 

Mr. Poitier was the first Black to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.  In 1967, had a year most actors only dream about; he starred in three hits (To Sir, with Love; In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who is Coming to Dinner)!  In 1972 he directed his first feature film (Buck and the Preacher).  In 1977, after a career that saw him with over 40 acting and/or directing credits in 30 years, Sidney Poitier took a break that lasted eleven years!  When Sidney Poitier returned he alternated between acting in feature films and television movies. 

In 2001, Mr. Poitier retired from acting/directing.  He wrote a well-received memoir The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography.  In 2009, Mr. Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

My favorite Sidney Poitier film is In the Heat of the Night. It’s because the character he played was a calm man of intelligence and dignity… and he resonated “cool”.  Cool, not as in hip, but cool as in control of himself and every situation.  I was always impressed when I heard Sidney Poitier in interviews.  We’ve lost a legend.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sidney Poitier’s family, friends and fans.

  

Craig’s 2021 Best Movies, Books, and Posts Lists!

End of the Year lists are fun and so I decided to compile a few of my own. I hope you enjoy them. Below is my Best Of list for 2021…

Movies and Limited Series

In 2021, I watched 372 movies. Most were streamed. The only film I saw in a theater was Rocky vs Drago, Sly Stallone’s Director’s Cut of Rocky IV. Although the total movies watched was less than last year, it was still nearly double of what I saw prior to retiring.  My favorite films and limited series released in 2020 included:

  • Army of the Dead
  • Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali
  • No Sudden Move
  • Rocky IV: Rocky vs Drago Director’s Cut
  • Midnight Mass
  • Who Killed Malcolm X?

Books

In 2021, I read 39 books (5 more than last year). Prior to retiring I usually read about 20 – 24 per year so the increase is a good sign that I’ll some day make it through my book cases of “to be read” books.  My favorites from this year included:

  • The Revelators by Ace Atkins
  • Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
  • Two in the Head by Eric Beetner
  • She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
  • Paradise Sky by Joe Lansdale
  • Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby
  • Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
  • The Heathens by Ace Atkins
  • The Driver by Hart Hanson
  • My Darkest Prayer by S.A. Cosby

My Most Popular Posts of the Year

I continue to find some surprises in what became my most popular posts each year. Here are the top ten for 2021 and some thoughts for each…

10. Michael Biehn Talks “Tombstone – broke into the top ten. I’m not surprised due to the continuing popularity of Tombstone.

09. Jack Benny in “Casablanca – dropped from the 7th spot to the 9th. I love that Jack Benny is still popular enough to make the top ten for the year since I consider him very under-rated.

08. Gadot & The Rock Strike a Pose – Two of the most popular movie stars in the world together? Yep and that’s why they came in at #8.

07. Top 10 Most Iconic Horror Movie Villains – dropped from #5 to #7 for the year. Horror movie posts remain popular but maybe a bit less this year than last year.

06. The Girl Who Didn’t “Flinch” Trailer is Here! – This one surprised me more than any other post. A crime film from a director and cast I didn’t know and it not only made the top ten most popular posts of the year but also nearly made the top 5.

05. Rare “Batman” Screen Tests: Lyle Waggoner & Peter Deyell and Adam West & Burt Ward – I love that this one got a lot of love this year.

04. Dracula Through the Ages – was our 4th most popular post last year. Horror movies always get love and Dracula counts (see what I did there) as horror.

03. Louis Meyers: Evidence He was the Zodiac Killer – came in the #2 spot last year. Real life horror trumps fictional this time.

02. Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk – was our most popular post last year and clocks in at #2 this year.

01. The TWILIGHT ZONE New Year’s Eve Marathon is Coming and the Full Schedule is Out! – was the most popular post of the year and surprised me almost as much as The Girl Who Didn’t “Flinch” Trailer is Here!

My All-Time Most Popular Posts

There weren’t many changes on the All-Time Most Popular Posts list. One post managed to break through while the others mostly stayed in their same spots. Let’s see how things shook out…

10. Dracula Through the Ages – made it into the top ten!

09. Gadot & The Rock Strike a Pose – was in the 9th spot last year and remained there this year.

08. Real Clown or Horror Movie Clown? – was in the 7th spot last year and dropped to 8.

07. Joel Osteen in Jacksonville – dropped one spot from 6th to 7th.

06. TOP 10 MOST ICONIC HORROR MOVIE VILLAINS! – moved up 2 spots from 8 to 6 this year.

05. Steve Reeves as Superman – was the #5 all-time most popular post last year and continues to be this year.

04. New Billy the Kid Photo Discovered – was the #4 all-time most popular post last year and continues to be this year.

03. Zodiac Killer Code Cracked? – was the #3 all-time most popular post last year and continues to be this year.

02. Louis Meyers: Evidence He Was the Zodiac Killer – was the #2 all-time most popular post last year and continues to be this year.

01. Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk” – was #1 last year and continues to be our most popular post of all-time.

It’s always interesting to see which topics resonate with fans and continue to be popular long after their initial post.

RIP: Betty White

Betty White, the beloved comedian, actress and author died today from natural causes at the age of 99.  Betty White’s career began in radio in the 1940s.  She transitioned to television working on local stations in 1949.  From 1952 to 1955, Betty White starred in (and also co-created and co-produced) Life with Elizabeth which was syndicated nationally.  Following Life with Elizabeth, Ms. White would go on to appear in television series, game and talk shows and the occasional feature film.

Betty White’s breakout role came in 1973 when she joined The Mary Tyler Moore Show playing Sue Ann Nivens, a woman in her 50s who was always on the prowl for a man.  She was a hit with critics and fans. Betty White won two (of her 5) Emmys for her efforts as Sue Ann Nivens.  When The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended Ms. White continued to stay busy with her own show (The Betty White Show, 1977-78) as well as guest appearances on television programs and tv movies.  She was so popular she ended up with recurring roles on The Love Boat, Mama’s Family and Empty Nest.

At the age of 63 (when many folks are considering retirement), Betty White landed the role of Rose Nyland on The Golden Girls.  The series ran for seven seasons and Ms. White returned as Rose for the sequel series The Golden Palace (which ran for one season).  Betty White’s portrayal of Rose Nyland won her another Emmy and she was nominated every year of The Golden Girls run!  

Betty White continued to make guest appearances (often in recurring roles) for the remainder of her career.  Her popularity continued to grow with each passing year.  Betty White’s 100 birthday was less than three weeks from today.  A big celebration that was to be filmed to mark the occasion will go on as planned and is tentatively titled “Betty White: 100 Years Young — A Birthday Celebration.

Although she was 99 years old, Betty White’s passing came as a surprise. I loved how her popularity grew as she got older.  It was always a pleasure to see her guest appearances and who didn’t love her as Sue Ann Nivens or Rose Nyland?  From all accounts Betty White was as wonderful a human being as she appeared to be. The world is a little less fun now that she is gone.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Betty White’s family, friends and fans.

 

RIP: Andrew Vachss

Andrew Vachss died yesterday at the age of 79.  No cause of death was given.

Andrew Vachss led an interesting life.  He was at different times a social-services case worker, an attorney who only represented children and adolescents, and an author.  Mr. Vachss wrote 33 novels, 3 short story collections, many graphic novels/comic books, as well as essays on child protection (which was an underlying theme in much of his work).   Andrew Vachss loved dogs and under-dogs.  His passion was to bring abusers to justice and this theme ran throughout his work without ever coming off as preachy.

Andrew Vachss jumped to my favorite authors list with his 1988 novel Blue Belle, his third Burke novel.  Vachss had a unique voice and Burke (and his crew) were unlike any other crime fiction characters I’d read.  I quickly sought out the first two Burke books and anxiously awaited the publication of each new tale.  Along the way I followed Andrew Vachss to comics/graphic novels and other tales which always entertained.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Vachss.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Andrew Vachss’ family, friends and fans.

THE FLOCK by J. Todd Scott is Coming!

J. Todd Scott’s next novel, The Flock, has been announced for a September 20, 2022 drop date.  Here’s the synopsis…

Ten years after a fiery raid kills her family, former cult member Sybilla “Billie” Laure has a completely new identity. She’s settled in rural Colorado with her daughter, hoping for a quieter life. But the world has other plans.

With wildfires raging and birds dropping from the sky, Billie wonders if her cult leader father’s apocalyptic predictions are finally coming true. When an intruder murders her husband and kidnaps her daughter, Billie has no choice but to confront the secrets of her past. But Billie’s journey has other perils, too―namely, a police chief hot on her trail, determined to expose the dangers of the defunct doomsday cult.

To save her daughter, Billie will have to go back to where it all began―to the ruined compound in New Mexico where the real threat is the truth.

Preorders are available now!

Reckless: The Ghost in You by Brubaker & Phillips is Coming!

It’s been announced that the next Reckless graphic novel by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips has been announced.  It is titled Reckless: The Ghost in You.  That’s the cover above.  Here’s the synopsis…

The fourth book in the best-selling Reckless series is here!

Bestselling crime noir masters Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips bring us yet another original graphic novel starring troublemaker-for-hire Ethan Reckless.

Except this time it’s the winter of 1989 and Ethan is out of town, so Anna must tackle this job on her own. When a movie scream queen asks her to prove the mansion she’s renovating isn’t haunted, Anna will stumble into the decades-long mystery of one of Hollywood’s most-infamous murder houses… a place with many dark secrets, some of which might just kill her.

Another hit from the award-winning creators of RECKLESS, PULP, MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES, CRIMINAL, and KILL OR BE KILLED — and a must-have for all Brubaker and Phillips fans!

Reckless: The Ghost in You will be released on April 26, 2022.  Preorders are available now.

Jim Ivey Christmas Celebration!

That’s me (in blue) and Jim Ivey (in red).  The photo was taken last Friday at our (now resumed) Jim Ivey Celebrations.  Prior to COVID, about every six months I would invite friends to celebrate Jim Ivey (on either his birthday or Christmas).

Jim Ivey is one of our oldest and dearest friends.  Jim was the owner of The Cartoon Museum in Orlando, Florida. At the same time, Jim also worked as a syndicated cartoonist [The Thoughts of Man], a political cartoonist [The Orlando Sentinel], a publisher [CartooNews], teacher [UCF cartooning class] and comic book convention organizer [OrlandoCon].  Jim made a lot of life-long friends through these activities and many of Jim’s friends became friends.

Getting back to today’s celebration… the line-up included Jim, his caretaker Joy, Rob Smith, Steve Martinez, me, Charlie Moffitt, Santa & Mrs. Claus (Joy Underwood and her husband Dennis).

In the second photo you can see (going left to right) Robert Smith, me, Charlie Moffitt, Mike Kott, Mike Sikes, Cliff Weikal and his wife, Steve Martinez, Joy Underwood and her husband Dennis (Santa & Mrs. Claus) and our Guest of Honor: Jim Ivey.  Bill Black and John Beatty wanted to attend but family obligations kept them away. 

Jim received many Christmas cards, lottery tickets (he loves ’em), homemade cookies (he loves ’em).  Jim gave as good as he got, making sure each person in attendance got a Christmas Card and lottery ticket!  There were so many great stories shared.  It was a wonderful time. 

Our next Jim Ivey Celebration will be for his 97th birthday in April!   

RIP: Michael Nesmith

Michael Nesmith died today from heart failure at the age of 78. Nesmith was a singer, song writer, actor, producer and novelist!  He was best known for his role as a member of The Monkees.

The Monkees [Mike, as he was called then, along with Davy JonesMickey Dolenz, and Peter Tork] took the world by storm in 1966.  The group was hand-picked by Screen Gems in an effort to create a tv show about a group of young musicians.  Lightning struck and the group not only had a hit tv series but became one of the biggest selling bands of the 60’s.  In 1967, The Monkees sold more albums than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined.  The Monkees even appeared in a feature film called Head that was co-written by Jack Nicholson!

I was a huge Monkees fan like many kids my age [7].  I collected their albums, trading cards, comic books and magazines.  I had a model of The Monkeemobile.  I even followed The Monkees after Peter, then later Mike, quit the band.  Sadly, I never got to see them perform live when they reunited for several reunion tours.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Michael Nesmith’s family, friends and fans.

Robert B. Parker’s BYE BYE BABY (A Spenser Novel) by Ace Atkins is Coming!

Sometimes you only see family or friends once a year, but as the meeting date draws closer you begin to anticipate the fun you’re going to have.  Robert B. Parker’s Spenser is one of those friends.  Thanks to Ace Atkins, Spenser will be coming around again on January 11th with Bye Bye Baby!

Boston PI Spenser takes on a new case in this installment in Robert B. Parker’s iconic New York Times bestselling series.

Carolina Garcia-Ramirez is a rising star in national politics, taking on the establishment with her progressive agenda. Tough, outspoken, and driven, the young congresswoman has ignited a new conversation in Boston about race, poverty, health care, and the environment. Now facing her second campaign, she finds herself not only fighting a tight primary with an old guard challenger but also contending with numerous death threats coming from hundreds of suspects.

When her chief of staff reaches out to Spenser for security and help finding the culprits of what he believes to be the most credible threats, Garcia-Ramirez is less than thrilled. Since her first grassroots run, she’s used to the antipathy and intimidation women of color often face when seeking power. To her, it’s all noise. But it turns out an FBI agent disagrees, warning Spenser that Garcia-Ramirez might be in real danger this time.

It doesn’t take long for Spenser to cross paths with an extremist group called The Minutemen, led by a wealthy Harvard grad named Bishop Graves. Although Graves is a social media sensation, pushing an agenda of white supremacy and toxic masculinity, he denies he’s behind the attacks. As the primary nears and threats become a deadly plot, it’s up to Spenser, Hawk, and a surprise trusted ally to ensure the congresswoman is safe. This is Spenser doing what he does best, living by a personal code and moral compass that can’t ever be broken.

Pre-orders are available now!

Jonathan Maberry’s JOE LEDGER: SECRET MISSIONS Volumes 1 & 2 Now Available!

I don’t know how it happened but two Jonathan Maberry books almost slipped by me.  To make it even worse they both contain Joe Ledger tales!

Joe Ledger is back!

JOE LEDGER: SECRET MISSIONS collects some of Ledger’s most dynamic and bizarre short story adventures – classic reprints as well as exciting new material! From the icy wastes of the Antarctic to the Gate of Hell in Turkmenistan, Ledger and his team are the last, best hope that stands between the unsuspecting public and unimaginable dangers!

Stories include crossovers with Maberry’s many fictional and bestselling worlds including V-WARS (Netflix), the Pine Deep Trilogy, the Sam Hunter Case Files, Dead of Night, and Rot & Ruin. Even if you’ve never read a Joe Ledger tale, this is a great jumping-on point; and if you’re a longtime fan, you’ll encounter old friends and enemies – Mr. Church, Echo Team, Havoc Team, Malcolm Crow and Mike Sweeney, Violin, Toys, and more!

And there are special treats! An insightful introduction by bestseller Peter Clines (The Fold, 14); a collaboration with author Marie Whittaker; and a brief glimpse into Mr. Church as he takes a rare day off, penned by the ‘voice of Joe Ledger, ‘ audiobook reader Ray Porter.

So buckle up, lock and load, and go rolling into action with Joe Ledger! Hooah!

Pick your poison…

Col Gives Anthony Neil Smith the 3rd Degree! (ANS Gives Up the Goods!)

Yesterday we were talking about Anthony Neil Smith’s new book  The Butcher’s Prayer. Today we have a link to The Col’s Library for a fun and informative interview with ANS.  It’s worth a read even if you’re not already a fan.  Check out QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH ANTHONY NEIL SMITH.  I’ll be here when you get back.  ; )

THE BUTCHER’S PRAYER by Anthony Neil Smith!

Anthony Neil Smith has a new book out!  The Butcher’s Prayer sounds like something that fans of crime noir (Me! Me!) are going to love…

Called to a crime scene when a terrified woman raises the alarm on a horrifying murder, Detective Hosea Elgin finds the victim’s body has been dismembered with professional precision.

Very quickly, two small-time drug dealers are identified as the probable assailants and a manhunt is launched to bring them into custody.

With the two suspects on the run, the consequences of their actions continue to spiral out of control and it becomes clear that while one of them is focused on survival, the other wants only revenge.

As the net begins to tighten on the fugitives, Detective Elgin finds that the case begins to move very close to home and what began as just another murder investigation is developing into something much more personal.

The decisions he makes and the actions he takes may well solve the case and bring the criminals to justice, but in the process he might just tear his family and his church to pieces.

With The Butcher’s Prayer, Anthony Neil Smith shows once again he’s a writer at the very top of his game. This immersive piece of Southern Gothic Noir certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted but with the skill and nuance we’ve come to expect from Smith he dazzles with writing that is precise, measured and never gratuitous.

The Butcher’s Prayer is getting great advance praise and to ANS’ regular readers, that shouldn’t be a surprise…

“The Butcher’s Prayer is wine-dark noir, with a hammering and bloody heart. This is Smith at his bleak and soulful best.” — Laura Benedict, Edgar-nominated author of The Stranger Inside

“Anthony Neil Smith is a massive talent. One of the very best crime writers I’ve ever read.” — Allan Guthrie, author of Kiss Her Goodbye and Hard Man.

“Visceral, propulsive writing that cuts like a razor. Think Elmore Leonard with an injection of Southern Gothic. Heady stuff.” — Dan Fesperman, author of Safe Houses.

“Crime-fiction veteran Anthony Neil Smith wields a smooth yet serrated style that’s carved him two decades worth of fierce material, now being re-discovered by a younger upstart audience of modern noir enthusiasts. He possesses such an acute, vivid feel of time and place in his subjects, his stories immediately burrow into my memory and remain long, withstanding the static storms of our contemporary attention-deficits. It’s challenging stuff, yet wholly accessible; with spiking dark humor that confirms sure you still have a pulse.” — Gabriel Hart, author of Fallout From Our Asphalt Hell

I put my order in today. If  The Butcher’s Prayer sounds like something you’d like, you should too!

S.A. COSBY WAS LATE TO AN INTERVIEW BECAUSE HE WAS DEALING WITH SOME DEAD BODIES!


One of my favorite authors, S.A. Cosby, is interviewed by Eli Cranor at Crime Reads.  The interview titled, SHOP TALK: S.A. COSBY IS LATE TO THIS INTERVIEW AND IT’S BECAUSE OF SOME DEAD BODIES.  Oh and before you go, S.A. was really delayed to the interview because he was dealing with dead bodies.

The Ghost in You (A Reckless Book) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips is Available for Pre-Order!

The next Reckless book, from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips will be titled The Ghost in You.  That’s the cover above and here’s the synopsis…

Bestselling crime noir masters Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips bring us yet another original graphic novel starring troublemaker-for-hire Ethan Reckless.

Except this time it’s the winter of 1989 and Ethan is out of town, so Anna must tackle this job on her own. When a movie scream queen asks her to prove the mansion she’s renovating isn’t haunted, Anna will stumble into the decades-long mystery of one of Hollywood’s most-infamous murder houses… a place with many dark secrets, some of which might just kill her.

Another hit from the award-winning creators of RECKLESS, PULP, MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES, CRIMINAL, and KILL OR BE KILLED — and a must-have for all Brubaker and Phillips fans!

I’m a fan of everything from Brubaker and Phillips and can’t wait to get my mitts on The Ghost in You.