Monday, March 30, 2015

"As You Wish" - My journey into the literary world of The Princess Bride

Anyone who grew up in the late eighties remembers the sight of a young Fred Savage sitting in his bed as Peter Falk reading a book that promises to have "Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Revenge. Giants. Monsters. Chases. Escapes. True love. Miracles." The book called The Princess Bride, as was the movie. And, what an epic it was. Who can forget the famous line, "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die"? Or, the dangerous journey of our hero and heroine through the dreaded Fire Swamp? And, what about the priest's speech at the weeding of Humperdinck and Buttercup, "Mawwiage, mawwiage is whha bwings us togewether today"?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What happened to "Beware of Greeks"?

Perhaps you are wondering what happened to the book that I had been harping about a couple months ago. I had a cover reveal for Beware of Greeks, and even a sample chapter on the blog, but since then everything went quiet. Well, I have had a publisher express interest in Beware of Greeks. Over the past couple months, they have been reviewing my manuscript, passing it from editor to editor, and finally up to the managing editor. Last week, they expressed interest in publishing it. I just had my first face-to-face meeting (over Skype), with them today. Nothing to report just yet. We're just getting the contract negotiations started. I will post more news when I have it. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 23, 2015

"Death in Paradise" - A breath of fresh tropical air

I'm a big fan of British crime dramas, and have been for years. Inspector Morse, and its spin-off Inspector LewisFoyle's WarPoirot, and Sherlock are among my favorites. Now, I have a new show to add to my list.

Death in Paradise is a light hearted crime drama created by Robert Thorogood, his first foray into television, and he's hit a home run with it. Death in Paradise, which is now in its fourth series, is about a stiff upper-lip British police detective who gets stuck running the small police force on the island of Sainte Marie in the Caribbean. In each episode, DI Richard Poole, played by Ben Miller, leads his three subordinates (the entire police force of the island) in search of a murderer, often times with comedic results.

One thing that makes Death in Paradise enjoyable is that it is a kind of "fish out of water" story. Richard Poole is the quintessential straight-laced detective, which often puts him at odds with the more relaxed lifestyle of the island's residents, as well as the other members of the police force, all of whom are native to the island. And, to add insult to injury, Poole frequently declares that he can't find a decent cup of tea on the entire island.

Death in Paradise is a crime drama that doesn't take itself too seriously. The characters are enjoyable, as well as believable. After watching a few episodes, I found myself with a vested interest in the characters, and what happens to them. Even more, it is a British program that doesn't take the fact that it is British too seriously either. The stuffy "British" airs and graces are often the butt of the jokes in each show, creating just enough humor to keep it light.

I found Death in Paradise by accident one night last year on my local PBS station. I'm not sure what other station air it, but it is available through Netflix, as well as on iTunes.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Book Review: "The Saint in New York" by Leslie Charteris

Before there was James Bond, Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, there was Simon Templar, aka The Saint. Leslie Charteris first created the character of the Saint in 1928, and continued to write in whole or collaborate with other writers with the character until 1983. It is no secret that I am a big fan of the Saint. It was a huge thrill to find out that the Saint books, out of print for years, were being rereleased last year.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Book Review: "The Mammy" by Brendan O'Carroll

Across the pond in the UK, the BBC has a comedy called Mrs. Brown's Boys, created by comedian Brendan O'Carroll. I've been a big fan of the show for about two years, and always find watching it to be a rip roaring good time, even though I've seen each episode about a dozen times. The show was originally based in part on O'Carroll's book called The Mammy. Since I love the show, I decided to check it out.

Both the show and the book focus on Agnes Brown, a Irish widow, as she struggles to raise her children in North Dublin. Agnes runs a fruit stand at the local market, and can be a foul-mouthed, ill-tempered mother who is very protective of her children when they are threatened. Although the language on the show can be a bit strong, it is worth dealing with a few f-bombs for all the laughs.

First, if you are familiar with the show, you'll find be surprised to find that the book takes place in an different era. The show  is set in modern day Ireland, and Agnes' children are grown up. The book takes place in the 1960s, and her children are still children. The Mammy is fun romp through the life of Agnes Brown as she adjusts to being very recently widowed. The antidotal tales that make up each chapter touch on just about every emotion. One minute, I found myself laughing hysterically, and then the next the book was tugging away at my heartstrings.

There are some truly classic moments in the book, and it is Agnes' deadpan humor makes even the most tragic moments entertaining. The first few pages start with tragedy as Agnes Brown is waiting in the social services office trying to ensure that she doesn't lose any of her widow's benefits on the very afternoon that her husband died. You should feel sad for her, but her efforts to convince the clerk that her husband is dead without a death certificate force you to smile.

The Mammy was a truly enjoyable read, and one that I found hard to put down. It is filled with colorful characters, irreverent humor, and just the right touch of humanity. If you are like me, you'll find this book to be one that you will want to go back and read again, simply because it felt good to read it the first time. I'd highly recommend The Mammy by Brendan O'Carroll.

And for those who have never seen the show, here are a few clips. Enjoy!