Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"I can hardly keep my wits about me as I await my inheritance."

I pulled By Hook or By Crook off the stack of noir collections and on the contents page saw one by Mary Higgins Clark. My 12-13-14-year-old self turned to it right away. I would scour yard sales (I'm a miser; always been) for her books and practically inhale them in the car on the way home.

'The Tell-Tale Purr' has the kind of person I don't understand: The Heir. I've never been keen on the idea of inheritance really, and though friends and family have benefitted (all surprises, or so I've been told), I can't imagine someone looking forward to getting something out of the death of someone. So this heir apparent has reached middle age whilst grandma is aiming for 100, puts in an elevator, and about to add a personal gym to the house. Her cat phobia is key to her heir's plan, but she's got her own secret!

Monday, January 3, 2011

"Times are bad, could have been a terrorist car, how do we know?"

Usually parking is pretty easy for me in the Twin Cities area but the crazy number of storms have dumped so much snow that there have been A LOT of parking restrictions. Even so, it's easier than when I had a car in San Francisco, so I thought this title was good while looking for another short story. Delhi's gonna have some parking issues if it's even a tiny bit like Mumbai where I saw that nearly every nook and cranny was someone's home. Public parking is prime real estate and despite it being owned by the municipality, it still gets fought over by people who live next to it. So when I picked up Delhi Noir, I chose this tale.

In "Parking," by Ruchir Joshi, Sam's girlfriend has a favorite spot…and one for her car. The neighbor says the parking spot is "his" so when corrupt cops get involved, Sam calls in his own government connections. A war continues over a tiny stretch of street, and you KNOW it's happening somewhere in your town, too.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

"You're the only one I feel safe drinking with at noon."

Another birthday! This time one of my cousins. I fondly remember the pair of us watching the summer X Games in 2001 and nearly crying at a guy's perfect score for rollerblading in a half-pipe or something like that. I'm serious! So I thought I'd find a title that had a bit of the extreme sound, back when that stuff was the most extreme until, oh, the following month of September.

This collection, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine Presents Fifty Years of Crime and Suspense has notes before each tale. The note says that this particular story was later adapted into an episode of McMillan and Wife called 'Freefall to Terror.' Brilliant! The note also says the author, Edward D. Hoch, wrote a story that was the final episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, 'Off Season' that you can watch online. I've been watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents so I'm quite excited to move on to his other programs.

"A Long Way Down" has the head of security trying to figure out the death of the guy who hired him. You'll appreciate the office atmosphere if you're a fan of Mad Men but if you just want the mystery, well, it simply takes a few hours for the body to hit the ground from the 21st floor, right?…Right?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

“I climbed off the co-ed and pulled my tentacle out of her nose.”

I'm going to try reading a noir short story and discuss it on a regular basis. We'll see how long it lasts...

So the inaugural story is because of my dad. His birthday is today and he hates the well-wishing one gets for it. My brother and I call with just a “Happy New Year, Dad, I'm calling for NO other reason.” He's not keen on the getting older thing, so I pulled a tale out of Damn Near Dead 2, a collection of geezer noir from Busted Flush Press, child of the late David Thompson. Coincidentally David once sent a business email from his phone but the predictive text had him sign it as “Dad” so I teased him since he was only a few years older than me.

So I then chose a story with a title that might draw my dad's attention, “Zypho the Tentacled Brainsucker from Outer Space vs. The Mob” by Tom Piccirilli. This sounded very sci-fi and we Starlings are suckers for the sci-fi. It also had “brainsucker” in the title which screamed my mom's family tradition of putting our hands on each others' heads, moving our fingers like spider legs, and saying it's a “brainsucker.” Sometimes, as an insult, the brainsucker dies of starvation on someone's head.

The protagonist is an East Coaster stuck in the Hollywood that wasn't his California Dreamin'. His screenplay is now so bastardized that he's playing a tentacled monster in his own home. This made me laugh because it was more fitting for my dad if there had been more technical description of the video equipment as he's a videographer! Plus I'm happy to report that the small number of friends who are in Hollywood are actually making it (Phew!). So yes, the mob arrives and they want, yeah, money. What's a guy from Brooklyn stuck in a rubber monster suit to do?

This story gave me a vocabulary lesson: “C-note.” It's a $100 bill. How the hell would I know? I've been using credit cards since high school...