(Perhaps it was destiny that Duane Swierczynski became a writer – his name contains just about every letter in the English alphabet. Duane is the author of several sizzling fast thrillers – including the high-octane “Severance Package” (which was recently optioned by Lionsgate for a
DaRK PaRTY: What's the deal all of a sudden with comic book writers turned novelists? Are you all serious writers struggling to get discovered?
Duane: If I wanted to get discovered, I'd come up with a cure for static cling (I'm close, damnit... so, so close...). But I was a novelist first, and the comic book writing thing was a happy surprise. To
me, it's a way to satisfy my storytelling urges in two very different ways. Novel writing is a long, solitary enterprise; comic scriptwriting is collaborative and deadline-oriented. I like having both.
DP: You're also a former journalist. Is writing for a newspaper a good training ground for writing fiction?
Duane: I think so -- look at James M. Cain, Laura Lippman, Michael Connelly, and the other dozens of crime writers who started out as newspaper reporters or columnists. If you're lucky, you'll encounter some editors who will help you beat a lot of the bad writing out of your system. There's nothing like seeing a page of your writing covered in red ink.
DP: You recently decided to stop working a full-time salaried job to dedicate yourself to your own writing. Was it a difficult decision? Isn't it kind of like tightrope walking without a net?
Duane: Actually, I have a net -- an exclusive contract with Marvel Comics. That said quitting my job wasn't exactly an easy decision. But I'm glad I did it.
DP: Your latest novel "Severance Package" is a full throttle thriller with lots of gore. A lot of reviewers have compared it to a movie. Did you visualize it as a film or a comic book first? What was the writing process like for this book?
Duane: It was always meant to be a novel. And it followed my usual pattern: I started out with a situation, then kicked around some characters who would be ideal for that situation, then came up with a vague goal in mind -- where I thought I wanted the characters to end up. But most of the writing was improvised; I plotted very little in advance; which is essential for me. Nothing worse than being bored by your own story.
DP: Who are your favorite fiction writers and which writers of the past have inspired you?
Duane: There are too many living novelists to include, and I wouldn't want to leave someone important out. But as far as dead ones -- aside from the usual suspects? Fredric Brown was a huge influence, because he knew how to inject humor into a story like nobody else. And James M. Cain for his economy and muscle. I read a lot of their work early on, and I keep coming back to them.
An Interview with Best-Selling Author Kim Harrison
AQUAMAN: Hey, thanks for agreeing to meet with me, Batman.
BATMAN: Yeah, yeah. (To the waitress) Gimme a scotch and make it a double, sweetheart. (Watching the waitress leave) Is she new?
AQUAMAN: I don’t know.
BATMAN: Christ, she’s got a tighter ass than Catwoman. And, dude, you can bounce a bat-a-rang on that bootie. Have you seen the latest
AQUAMAN: Ah, no.
(The waitress delivers Batman’s drink. He winks at her and she rolls her eyes.)
BATMAN: $440 million gross for “The Dark Knight.” Can you believe that shit? They fucking love me.
BATMAN (Slurping his drink): Wow? Wow? Who are you to judge? When’s the last time they made a movie about Aquaman?
AQUAMAN: Two years ago!
BATMAN: Two years… Wait a minute! You’re not counting that piece of shit made for TV movie? I’m talking about
AQUAMAN: Hey, come on. The lead actor Justin Hartley wasn’t half bad.
BATMAN (Laughing): He was better playing Green Arrow in “Smallville.” Way better. “The Dark Knight” is my sixth movie since 1989. George Clooney played me! Fucking Val Kilmer.
AQUAMAN: You’ve made your point.
BATMAN: I’m the balls. Who’s bigger than me?
BATMAN: Spiderman? Bug boy? Robin could kick his skinny, whiny ass.
AQUAMAN: All right. You’re hot. Bigger than Superman.
BATMAN (Snickering): I know. It kills him. Man of Steel. Did you watch “Superman Returns?” Holy shit did that suck! Is there a more boring villain than Lex Luthor? Come on, people! Lex Luthor?
AQUAMAN: Listen this is kind of what I wanted to talk to you about.
BATMAN: What? Movies?
AQUAMAN: Well, you know, image.
BATMAN: You mean like being the Dark Knight or the King of the Sea?
AQUAMAN: What’s wrong with King of the Sea?
BATMAN (Laughing): It sounds like a bargain brand of tuna fish. Look at yourself! For Christ sake you’re wearing a yellow shirt with scales and lime green pants.
BATMAN: You see Robin here? Huh? Has Robin been in any of my movies lately? The freak. You think he gets any tail wearing those stupid shorts? Yellow? What kind of superhero wears goddamn yellow? Not even the broads wear yellow.
AQUAMAN: Wonder Woman has a golden lasso.
BATMAN: Wonder Woman has gravity defying tits. And she doesn’t wear yellow, douche bag.
AQUAMAN: Is that kind of language necessary?
BATMAN: You just don’t get it. You’re vanilla, man, totally vanilla.
AQUAMAN: So I should wear black then?
BATMAN: Did I tell you to copy me? Why not silver? Silver is cool. Or even like a deep purple.
AQUAMAN: That’s it then? I’ll get a movie if I wear purple?
BATMAN: I didn’t say that. Dude, you talk to fish.
AQUAMAN: So? Telepathy is one of my powers. I’ve got enhanced strength and speed. I can breathe underwater and dehydrate people. That’s pretty cool.
BATMAN: Big deal.
AQUAMAN: Hey, you don’t even have super powers! You’re just a guy.
BATMAN (Shrugs): It’s about attitude. Style.
BATMAN: Water just isn’t cool. Aquaman? Please! Your name sounds like some kind of yuppie water filter. You hear what I’m saying? Now Batman! Jesus, I get chills!
AQUAMAN: So a silver costume and a new name?
BATMAN: Yeah. How about Water Demon? Or Sea Fury?
AQUAMAN: I don’t know.
BATMAN: Or Liquid Lord. Makes you sound like a fucking Greek God.
AQUAMAN: Aquaman has history though.
BATMAN (Standing): Whatever. Keep your stupid name and your ballerina outfit. I’ve got a date with Poison Ivy and I’m late. Swim home to your goldfish and try not to “dehydrate” anyone on the way.
AQUAMAN: Ah… all right. We still on for poker Monday night with Green Lantern and the Flash?
BATMAN: Maybe. I’ll call you.
Heroes Never Die in Space
While infiltrating a top-secret CIA military installation in
The Knocked Up Express
Put This Pregnancy Test in your Pipe and Smoke It!
This Judd Apatow action comedy features Jerry Bigelow (Steve Martin) as the divorced father of 10 children who quits his stressful job in advertising to work as the manager of a group of pot smoking misfits at a
Terrorists Get Fried… Fish Style!
This Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster features Orlando Bloom as Aquaman in this action-packed superhero story about the King of Atlantis. Aquaman and his queen, Aquawoman (Kristen Dunst), are vacationing in the Caribbean Sea when a passing school of dolphins inform them about an evil plot by a group of Middle Eastern terrorists to use a secret Russian weapon developed during the Cold War to evaporate the
PDA: People Dicing Albino
Don’t Answer That Email… It Might be Him!
Director Eli Roth directs this terror filled action movie starring Lindsey Lohan as rising PR executive Trisha Dolan. When she is promoted to vice president, Trisha is given the gift of a Blackberry personal digital assistant by a mysterious IT guru (Morgan Freeman). Trisha begins to get emails from a phantom albino (Mark Calaway the Undertaker from the WWE) who starts to chop up the people in her contacts list in alphabetical order. Next up on the victim list is Trisha’s stand-up comedian fiancé
No Bounce – No Glory!
Will Ferrell plays Harmon “Jumper” Jumpstart the washed up coach of the
Valuable Lessons from Hollywood
Who Can Match the Sex Appeal of Nancy Sinatra Singing "These Boots Are Made for Walking?"
Nancy Sinatra may not have invented the concept of pop singer as sex kitten, but with her 1966 hit “These Boots Are Made for Walking” she came damn close to perfecting it.
Can you say: Purrrrrrrrrrrr?
Rock critic Tom Breihan describes the song as “maybe the finest bitchy kiss-off in pop history.” That’s putting it mildly. “Boots’” is subversively nasty stuff – conjuring images of erotic, sadomasochistic encounters in hotels with underage girls that would make your hometown minister sweat through his priestly collar.
Take a gander at lyrics like: “You’ve been messin’ where you shouldn’t have been a messin’/ and now someone else is gettin’ all your best.”
“You keep playin’ where you shouldn’t be playin’/ and you keep thinkin’ that you’ll never get burnt. Ha! I just found me a brand new box of matches yeah/ and what he know you ain’t had time to learn.”
I’m starting to sweat myself.
“Boots” was written and produced by Texas-born Lee Hazlewood who instructed Sinatra to sing the song as if she were a 16-year-old girl breaking up with a 40-year-old man. Apparently,
She sings the song like a playful seductress who knows she’s got the goods – and knows how to use them (see the go-go video above).
All you have to do is listen to Jessica Simpson’s poorly executed attempt to cover the song for the movie “Dukes of Hazard” to understand that being sexy is more than wearing short shorts.
There’s no doubt that
Part of the magic came from being backed up by some rather magnificent musicians – who add a sultry sizzle to the song. That’s where the legendary
What’s not to love? A beautiful blond singing about catching her lover with another woman – so for revenge she breaks his heart in two and starts giving all of her attention to a new (and damn lucky) boy toy.
Few songs hit the pay dirt for playful sexiness as “Boots” – and certainly Nancy Sinatra drive more sex appeal into one pop song than the likes of Brittany, Jessica and Christina have done over there whole careers. Here’s a nod to “Boots” as one of the sexiest songs ever put to vinyl.
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Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope” (1948) is a claustrophobic masterpiece – a spiraling descent into the dark recesses of human nature. Hitchcock explores the rough edges of ego and impulse and how they can lead to horrible consequences.
It may be Hitchcock’s greatest movie. Certainly it is his most tightly constricted piece – filled with long takes in near real-time. It’s an amazing achievement of controlled tension.
The only exterior shot in the film comes during the opening credits. The camera rests on an apartment window with the curtains pulled shut. There is a muffled scream and then suddenly we’re inside the apartment where David Kentley is being strangled to death by two of his friends.
The movie setting goes internal. It reflects the direction of the film because we’re about to get inside the minds, motivations, and the personalities of the characters. We’re trapped inside the apartment for good – just like poor, dead David who has been stuffed into a chest.
His murderers are two wealthy, intellectual young men named Brandon Shaw (John Dall) and Philip Morgan (Farley Granger). They have killed their friend for one reason – to experience the sensation of murder. They want to pull off the perfect crime – and revel in their superiority.
To make matters even more horrifying, Brandon and Philip are throwing a dinner party and inviting David’s family, his girlfriend (Janet), the girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, and their former academy teacher Rupert (their mentor who has inspired their crime with his misinterpretations of Nietzchian philosophies of the Superman).
“Nobody commits a murder just for the experiment of murder,”
But the celebration isn’t what
But even the cool and calm
Rupert (Jimmy Stewart) doesn’t show up until 30 minutes into the film. And once he arrives the film becomes his. Stewart – one of the greatest actors in American history – is amazing in “Rope.” Personally, he didn’t like his performance, but the movie is in essence about the transformation of Rupert – his growth from a bitter cynic into a connected human being. And it works.
Here’s a peek into Rupert. Introduced to Janet (Joan Chandler):
“Ah, Miss Walker,” he says.
“How did you know?” she asks.
“Did he do me justice?”
“Do you deserve justice?” he asks and then waltzes off with a smirk.
The commanding personality of Rupert begins to melt
Rupert – a naturally suspicious and cunningly observant man – gets his first thread to pull when Brandon – a game player – serves chicken for dinner. Philip no longer eats chicken after having to strangle one at
He comes up with gems like this: “You’re more than unusually allergic to the truth tonight Philip. That’s the second time you haven’t told it.”
Ultimately the keen Rupert finally discovers the grim secret in the bottom of the trunk. It’s a chilling scene. The movie ends with Rupert throwing open the apartment window and letting the outside cleanse the inside of the apartment with its noise and voices.
And Philip utters the last words of the movie: “They’re coming.” They don't make movies like "Rope" anymore. But they should.
I See Bad Director: M. Night's Fall