Tuesday, April 22

Transmigrating Mysteries -

Publishers are reincarnating classic
detective characters both here in the USA
and across The Pond in the UK, too, nowadays . . .

The latest news of such a reincarnation is of Albert Campion. Jake Kerridge reports that Mike Ripley has completed an Albert Campion detective manuscript. Kerridge then uses this as an opportunity to write about Margery Allingham (1904-66) and her work.

Speaking of reincarnated detectives, have you thought of any candidates to portray the new Philip Marlowe yet? How about Richard Gere?

# There's been a lot of activity in
the realm of Italian Mysteries lately.

Adam Woog's monthly column gives a thumbs-up review to the new Inspector Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon which involves antiquarian book vandalism and theft.

And Italian Noir in English: The Milano Quartet, Giorgio Scerbanenco's A Private Venus, is reviewed at NPR.

# A feature on Swedish Mystery
writer Camilla Lackberg by Paul Connolly.

# An A-Z guide to the fiction
of James Ellroy by Jim Mancall.

# Debbie Meldrum ponders which version of The Thin Man she likes more - the original novel or the movie.

# A trio of Graphic Novels is reviewed at NPR. Maureen Corrigan gives glowing praise to a couple of them. And there is a memoir about a diner in the 1970's.


Monday, April 21

Inestimable Impacts -

Before I'd heard of Harry Potter, I knew of a fictional youngster named Adrian Mole. I don't remember how I had first heard of him, but he was a delightful discovery.

Recent reports inform us that Sue Townsend, the author who created Adrian Mole, has passed away.

Years ago, while I was still living up North, I was a somewhat active member of my local small town public library. One day, about a month before Christmas, when I approached the librarian's counter, she told me about a project she wanted us participate in which was aimed at underprivileged or disadvantaged children.

She asked us to select and donate a book for an unknown child's Christmas gift, leave it in an unsealed envelope, and mark on the outside of the envelope which gender and age range the intended recipient should be.

I decided to aim a book at the most difficult category to woo as prospective readers and book lovers: young boys about eleven years old.

In order to pick out an appropriate book for this project, I traveled to a nearby bookstore, sat down on a bench inside it, and listened to a recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons over the PA system.

After brainstorming for a quarter hour or more, Adrian Mole flew into my mind and I decided he was fit for purpose. I then searched for an inexpensive paperback version of Adrian's Secret Diary, as my modest budget would allow, and followed the librarian's packaging directions.

When I brought the book in to the library to donate it, I was surprised to discover our librarian had never heard of Adrian Mole. She asked me if she could read the book  before packing it off to its next destination, and I so consented.

I regret that I was never able to follow up on the results of that project. I could only hope that whichever eleven-year-old boy received the book developed an enthusiasm for reading from the experience.

NB: I have been experiencing horrendous connection problems lately. It appears that the Clear company has merged with the Sprint company. Ever since this merger came to light recently, they have been disconnecting me frequently after I am online for only a few minutes at a time.

Then, they asked me to update something with only vague directions on how to do that. I don't think they should entrust ordinary non-geek customers to handle such technical issues on our own. As it is, I've been paying for a connection that I haven't been able to use very much lately, and I am very irked and frustrated about it.

:: Sue Townsend - Telegraph ::

:: Townsend - Mail ::


Tuesday, March 25

Lurking Just Under The Marzipan -

Did we have better quality
Literary Feuds back in the Twentieth Century?

Dick Cavett's is presenting a new theatrical
production about a classic Literary Feud. [nypost]

# SoFlo: Cyber Prof Alex [see sidebar] has been instrumental in bringing Feynlabs computer coding educational program for kids to Miami-Dade, while Broward County seems to be falling into further decline.

The organization hopes to eventually offer some free instruction online for the rest of us, too.

#  Wes Anderson's latest movie,
The Grand Budapest Hotel is reviewed by Rex Reed.

:: Anderson's Austrian Muse ::
:: More on Stefan Zweig ::


Sunday, March 23

More Mean Streets -

Much Awaited: Philip Marlowe's new mystery adventure, The Black-Eyed Blonde, penned by John Banville writing as Benjamin Black has made its publishing debut.

The pressure of many people's expectations must be a heavy weight on Banville, but I'm guessing there's also some interest in making a movie out of it, which prompts the burning question of who should be cast as the new
Philip Marlowe.

# Jake Kerridge reviews it.

# Mark Lawson reviews it.

# David L Ulin at LAT reviews it.

# Reinventing Philip Marlowe by Banville.

# Jon Wiener interviews John Banville.


FL's News in Tights -

Buddy Nevins reports that Warren Buffet has purchased local TV Channel 10-WPLG, an ABC affiliate, from the WaPo Graham Family holdings.

# MegaCon (like ComicCon)
opens this weekend in Orlando.

# Carl Hiaasen, speaking in Sarasota recently,
described Florida as a "vortex of weirdness."


Saturday, March 15

Amanda Knox: Student or Diva?

It was a real struggle this past week to set aside some quiet time in which to view the videotape of Amanda Knox made by the UW DAILY people. I finally managed to view Part One twice through - but only in the middle of the night. There is no way I am going to sit through Parts Two and Three.

I don't make it a practice to be cruel, but I am going to share some of my reactions and impressions with you.

It doesn't bother me that university academics wanted to make a documentary record of Knox's story, but I have some problems with them posting it on YouTube for the random public. This could have been kept in a university library for legitimate scholars to view.

What journalistic ethics justify simply giving Knox yet another platform on which to air her theatrical perplexities? Has she not had the opportunity to tell her story over and over again before? This is not appropriate viewing material for those under 18 years old who are already having a hard time distinguishing between fictional entertainment and external reality. But it continues to drag on like a stale Reality TV Series long past its freshness date and designated shelf life.

Judging by the comments, it may be making a fabulous impression on teenyboppers who adulate her and who may want to emulate her. Then, we have to be concerned with copycat crimes. On the face of it, there is nothing to distinguish this videotape from any teen slasher movie Hollywood debuts every summer: turning yourself into a celebrity by killing your roommate.

She starts out by saying:
I remember thinking,
I don't know what to think.

Over and over again she keeps saying that everything seemed strange, but she left out the part in which she took mind-altering drugs which make one's perception of the world seem strange. So, it's up to her to manufacture an exaggerated melodramatic teen slasher movie out of this trail of utterly banal and prosaic bread crumbs (eg: feces in the toilet; someone cut themselves while shaving their legs; and a funny! dismembered foot). It looks like an elaborate setup from the start.

Here, Knox claims she didn't know how to call "911" in Italy. And I don't believe that for a second. She planned an extended stay in a foreign country, but never read a basic primer for everyday life there? This claim has no credibility whatsoever.

For the record, I don't hate Amanda Knox. But the more she tries to perform as a pretentious pseudo-intellectual, the more obnoxious she is making herself. What is the theme of this UW DAILY videotape? Wait, let me guess: even skanks can aspire to be eggheads.

*  *  *  *  *
What is that foul odor? Can you recognise the smell of death if you encounter it? Experienced Homicide Detectives can.

When a person dies, the body begins to decompose and it enters into a putrefaction process. The smell of death may fill the room and permeate your nostrils. You may feel it clinging to you.

Some killers manipulate the cadaver after death or pose their victim's corpse for presentation or dress the corpse in different clothing. We have such a case at No 7 Pergola.

*  *  *  *  *
My patience with this case is wearing thin.  The sooner this entire process is over, the better, as far as I'm concerned.

:: UW DAILY on Knox: Part One YouTube ::

:: Complete Transcript pdf ::

:: DAILY UW: Knox Returns ::


Friday, March 7

The Misdiscovery of a Cadaver -

The story of a homicide generally
begins with the discovery of a cadaver . . .

Thus, the story of the homicide at 7 Pergola St in Perugia begins in the usual way: a neighbor noticed something amiss and called the police to investigate.

The police made an effort to track down the owner of a couple of mobile phones found on the neighbor's property. They went to the address listed for the owner of the mobile phones and, when they arrived at 7 Pergola, they discovered the cadaver of Meredith Kercher through an intermediary acting on their behalf.

Amanda Knox never saw the cadaver, but rapidly emailed her friends back in Seattle that she was under direct orders from the Italian police not to talk about this homicide case with anyone and that she was disobeying their direct orders because she was going to tell them about it anyway. Here's how she started her account:

"this is m account of how i found my roommate
murdered the morning of friday, november 2nd."

Right from the start, she told them a flagrant untruth. And it was only the first in an endless series of untruths, inconsistencies, contradictions, and spins.

It was already at this point that the story of the homicide at 7 Pergola developed a malignant tumor called Amanda's Fairytale, and the two stories diverged ever more widely.

Amanda's Fairytale is a combination of classic teen slasher movie combined with a Reality TV Series which features Knox in a starring role as a sort of superannuated Nancy Drew, Girl Detective. It is riddled with melodrama manufactured out of otherwise prosaic details.

And then, she quickly violated one of the Top Ten Commandments: Thou shall not bear false witness. She claimed to be a material witness to the homicide which she claimed was committed by her boss, who had an ironclad alibi.

It was at the point of this divergence in the two stories that the executives at the American Mainstream Media made a crucial policy decision: they decided to cover the homicide at 7 Pergola St strictly for entertainment purposes only and not as news at all.

This pathological form of entertainment continues today. Recently, student reporters or videographers at the University of Washington put a camera in front of Amanda Knox and turned it on. They must be adding this videotape to their Ted Bundy Vault.

Eventually, I expect, someone like Dog the Bounty Hunter will pick her up and dump her on the doorstep of the Italian Carabinieri. Until she is collected from her bolt-hole in Seattle, residents of that city will just have to put up with her.


Thursday, February 27

Through The Picket Fence -

Chicago-based Tribune Co's proposed spinoff of its newspapers will probably happen by midyear, according to a recent Bloomberg news report. Tribune is the parent company of the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel newspaper.

Meanwhile, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is going to use Nextdoor Dot Com to alert residents about crimes in their neighborhoods. The website is free to use, but may feel intrusive to personal privacy for those who are sensitive to such issues.

The San Francisco-based company which designed the templates and code for this operation has already established pages for 69 different neighborhoods within the city’s boundaries, which should cover about three-quarters of the local population.

And in other
local Communication News . . . 

For the third time in two days, burglars have used a car to smash through the front entrance of a South Florida cell phone store.

Although fewer than 3 in 5 adults in the U.S. currently own smartphones, the popularity of these gadgets has increased among the illiterate population with their ability to respond to spoken directions or to translate oral dictation into text.

"Unfortunately, it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person."