Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Shane Black has finally directed a film.

But before I get to that, I have to tell you about this obsession I went through about four years ago. You see, I got hooked on a particular series of pulp novels from the 40s-50s, and I went out of my mind trying to track them down and read them all. The author’s name was Brett Halliday, and the star of his spicy tales went by the name of Mike Shayne. I’m not sure what lured me in, what the gateway drug was, maybe Chandler, maybe Hammett, but there was something particularly interesting to me about the way Halliday wrote noir. I couldn’t get enough. And I always thought those books would make excellent movies.

Enter Shane Black, writer of the Lethal Weapon series, as well as the super cool 80s movie The Monster Squad. Black obviously felt the same way I did about Halliday’s work because he went and turned it into Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which just came out on DVD. Unfortunately, Black has taken a grip of liberties with the novel he claims to have adapted the script from (Bodies Are Where You Find Them). For one, Mike Shayne isn’t the main character, in fact there isn’t even a character by that name in the entire picture. Also, it takes place in Los Angeles, whereas the novels took place in Florida. There are other glaring discrepancies, but for the most part I think Black smartly captured the essence of Halliday: the signature snarky narrator, the turns upon turns, the quirky characters, the snippy dialogue, the crazy tension. And plus he placed a lot of little insider things throughout, references that only readers of the books would get. All in all, I’m super thankful that someone of Black’s talent has offered up this particular gem. I had a rocking good time watching it, and I look forward to watching the director’s commentary to hear what they have to say about Halliday. To read some reviews for the film click here to head over to Rotten Tomatoes.

So I’m doing research for my new novel, which is set in Peru, and yesterday I came across this fascinating story about a group of people called the Aymara, who live in the Andes. It seems that these folks actually have a reverse concept of time: they think the past is in front of us and the future is already over. Click here to inquire further for yourself.

In poetry news, my former professor Ted Kooser has been replaced by Donald Hall as the U.S. Poet Laureate. Click here to read the NY Times article about it. You know, I’m wondering why the Library of Congress doesn’t just appoint John Ashbery to a lifetime position and be done with it? Come on. Look at the list of former Laureates. Just give it to Ashbery - at least then the position would have a semblance of street cred.

Yesterday I brought up Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington. Click here to watch a video of the two of them discussing important sociological and anthropological discoveries. Warning: it is wicked funny.