Tuesday, September 30, 2008

9/2008 Playlist

Each month, since Feb of 2006, I start a playlist in my iTunes of the tunes that catch my ear that month. I started off writing a post to my Mog page with a short review or comments of each track, not only to keep a running diary for myself, but also to hopefully point others toward these tunes. In the last several months I have started to cross post this information on other sites where I keep blogs. (If you are reading this somewhere besides Mog, you can find all the old ones at www.mog.com/iren)  I want to apologies for any weird formatting stuff right here and now, I type this in MS word and then post it on these various message places, some of which have…w ell formatting issues….

Anyway for this month here is what caught my ear…


Kill The Poor by Dead Kennedys

No links, no nonsense… just pure impact… this one is for you The US government, and the legacy of the last two presidents…  700 Billion Dollars.. it’s almost like Dr. Evil is on the horn, or maybe Dr. Strangelove, maybe I should have busted out the R.E.M. End of the World as well this month… also see Holiday in Cambodia.


Academy Fight Song by Mission Of Burma


I have to admit that I haven’t ever been as big a fan of the so called Post-punk sound as others, but there is something about this tune, it’s got a bit of ringing, a bit of a shine, and of course the Military marching feel to it.

She Goes Out With Everybody by The Spongetones  


Speaking of ringing chimy stuff, you can’t get much better than the power pop shimmy of this tune. It’s just a great rousing pop blast that’s worth repeating over and over… ok not over and over, but enough times to make one of my monthly play lists. This tune is from the Children of Nuggets box set, which covers the 80s for the most part

Ominous Presence (Live) by New Math


and as long and we are talking about stuff I dig from the 80’s here is a great live tune by my secret forgotten band New Math. This mostly made the list because New Math bass player Gary Trainer called to tell me they were going to do a reunion gig in November, and wanted to let me know that my brother Stefan and I needed to be there… and we are going to try and make it out there… more info for any of you up state New Yorkers at http://scorgies.blogspot.com/

South of Hideous by Forbidden Dimension


It’s that Halloween time of year and so of course there is a FD tune lodged in my brain and this time around it’s this one… all that distortion, all that stun and fuzz, the strut of it all… love it.

Thoughts, comments, spare change.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Suicide Squeeze by Victor Gischler

Suicide Squeeze by Victor Gischler

I think it's official, Victor Gischler has entered the pantheon of writes whom I have to check out everything by. Suicide Squeeze is the second of his books that I have consumed, and consumed is the right term, and I am looking forward to the next one. The book follows a cast of noir caricatures   as they all seek the almighty yankee dollar and the so called American dream. In the case of Conner Samson, and I think he was created before The Venture Bros. Brock Samson, it's the money that he's after.... and why not he seems to loose over and over in life, failing out of college, loosing his baseball scholarship, and becoming one of those down on his luck bottom feeders who populate this type of hard boilded noir. He has a classic car, he owes money to bookies, and he's unemployed. Enter a caper involving a Joe DiMaggio baseball card, signed not only by Joe, but his one time wife, Marilyn Monroe, 
and film director Billy Wilder. It's a one of a kind, and a crazy collector from Japan wants it.. The story flows from that point, as our hero and his cast all run though the maze of plot, and story that riffs on geek culture, action films, of course the pulp worlds that inspire these kinds of story. The action is fast and you can almost feel the velocity of the words and the story, and it never slows or gets to bogged down on any kind of faux dept. Have no illusions, this is simply a fun romp that will have you laughing, smiling and grinning knowingly, and will leave you with a buzz not unlike that of a overly sugary snack.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Junk in '57

The Pusher by Ed McBain

A Novel of the 87th Precinct


       This was the third of the 87th Precinct books, and it’s maybe the most out of date. It follows the investigation of the death of a junkie. It’s slight, it’s on the short side and it’s maybe the best example of the world that was. The topic of Narcotics, drugs, Pushing, what people do to get their junk and the effects of the Big H, is so 1950s, really one of the reasons that I am planning to read all of the books in order is that I was to see how the changing world of crime is covered in the form of the novel. I look forward to seeing the covering of Drugs in the ‘60s book and the 80s books.  This was also the last of the initial three books that were to be published as the trial run for the series, and it stands up well as one of the early setting the scene books in the series. Up next in the series…. The Con Man. 

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Games, Games, Games

Grifter’s Game by Lawrence Block

A Hard Case Crime 

            It’s all a con, at least that’s what David Mamet seems to always be on about… and that’s the story of this fast paced page turner from the golden age of pulp… or maybe the end of the golden age of pulp. It’s your basic story about boy is playing the wrong side of the track and meets a girl, who appears to be everything that he wants out of life… and he seems to be everything she wants… only she’d married and her husband has to go bye-bye so they can make off with his money. That’s the basic set up, and it’s a well worn Noir path… but what really set’s this book apart is the end, it’s not the ending that you would expect from this kind of story, maybe it’s that it was from ’61, and it was reflecting the end of the 50’s era, and the entrance into a new era, maybe it’s that Block could see where things were going and was on the cutting edge of where not only crime but social decay was starting.


            I should give a few words about Block here. I haven’t read any of this stuff for years, but he has an energy, a style and the occasional turn of a phrase that has made him one of the modern grand masters of the crime novel. He has that page turning energy, and the first half of this book flew by like a great Hi Energy Garage Punk tune.  There is also a slower side to his writing, and in several places he talks about the hypnotic effects of things, the pulse of the waves, the blur of a motion picture, and in some ways his writing has that effect, it draws the reader in and holds them long enough to get what it needs from them, it’s like the Grifter’s Game, it takes you along on this journey and keeps you coming back for more…. And soon enough I will be back, as I have two more of his Hard Case Crime entries sitting on my bedside table.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Return of Max and Angela

Slide By Kenn Bruen and Jason Starr

This was one of the few books that I have read where you can feel the velocity of the story while reading. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s even funny. You have the remaining cast of Bust racing towards meeting once again; the book is filled with unhinged, deluded criminal types getting caught up in their own stupidity and failing to achieve. Not only is the book a fun read, it was obviously a fun book to write… in that it’s very over the top, almost to the point of parody, but never getting too ridiculous… unless you want to think that an assault on one of the authors of the book happening in the book as an act that’s over the line. I do have The Max, which is the third book in the Max and Angela series on my bedside table, and plan to read it soon.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Mouse in the Mountain

The Mouse in the Mountain
I heard about Norbert Davis on the In for Questioning Podcast (http://inforquestioning.blogspot.com/), and was looking for the book, Sally’s in the Alley, which was recommended by the Podcast (I think it was the Christa Faust episode)… and this was the only book by Davis in the Melcat system (which is the inter library loan system here in Michigan).. so it’s a fast- short- pulpy read. The story takes place in a mountain town in Mexico, where a bus of tourists have arrived, all looking for something different. Quickly there is a couple of murders, and Detective Doan and his dog Carstairs are in the middle of it. Over all there isn’t much to the story, aside from some quick deduction, some snappy dialog and some humor. Most of it’s kinda on the cheesy side, but since the book was written in the early ‘40’s not all of it had become a cliché yet. I enjoyed reading the book, and it moved along nicely. I don’t know that I am going to go all out to find a copy of Sally’s in the Alley, but if I were to stumble across one, I’d give it a read.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Night Walker by Donald Hamilton

Night Walker by Donald Hamilton

A Hard Case Crime Novel

Making my way thought the Hard Case Crime entries so far has had one big lesson for me, and that is that I understand so much more clearly the underlying message of these stories, and their impetus, and that’s the level of distrust of others that really came to the fore in the post WWII era. Now I am sure that it was there before, what with the history of swindlers, shysters, thieves, and politicians who were on the con, but it feels to me like the major social fall out of the war was that you really didn’t know who to trust.

 The story is pretty simple, a Navy Reserve Lieutenant is on his way to report for duty, he’s not looking forward to his having been called back, mostly because he is suffering from Post traumatic Stress Disorder, and when he is picked up hitch hiking to his duty station and kidnapped, he finds himself with what might be an out. He awakes to find himself weakened and playing a role in the plans of a groups of Reds who are under the watch of the feds. Now, this isn’t always the clearest, but that works, as our Lieutenant is in and out of it due to his injuries, and it takes him and the reader a while to figure out what has happened, who he can trust and how to get out of the situation.

The things that I liked most in this book were the little things, the fact that so many people had issues with the nick names they were given, as if they were saying to each other, don’t distill me to just this one little thing, this name that paints me as a child, a hair color, or a profession. I also enjoyed the fact that the book took place in a limited space, just like our hero, was trapped in his head, and in his body that wasn’t always respond ding the way he would have wanted.

 Yes he book isn’t big on action, and it’s kind of a twisted puzzle of a story, but it never drags, and it’s a quick enough read. I am not really sure how this fits into the Hard Case Crime world, but hey they must have had a reason to republish it. I have to admit that I have never read any of Hamilton’s other books, he is most famous for writing the Matt Helm spy novels in the 60’s, and I do have a couple of his Westerns lurking around.

 Over all this was a solid (and I need to find a new word to describe an acceptable, or slightly more than acceptable book) entry in the Hard Case Line.

Where's my Wolves