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    Sunday, June 18, 2006

    Update: Shame-Faced Podcast

    26 minutes, 9MB. Available here or at iTunes.

    This latest installment of the spin-off blog’s podcast, in which Rosemarie selects a classic chick flick for me to watch while I program a seminal guy film for her, is a bit longer than previous outings. We got a little carried away, and when I say ‘we’ I mean ‘I.’ I do a terrible impression and at one point actually burst into song. I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me. Honest.

    Book: The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, by Paul Malmont (2006)

    It’s an idea so simple, so ingenious: put some of the masters of pulp fiction into a pulp story of their own. Paul Malmont, in his debut novel, more than does the idea justice. He’s written the most enjoyable book I’ve read in a long time.

    Walter Gibson, creator of The Shadow, and Lester Dent, the man behind Doc Savage and this fool-proof pulp outline, have a personal and professional rivalry dating back years. Each is constantly trying to best the other, especially when it comes to unraveling real-life mysteries that might fuel their next two-fisted tale. Gibson heads to Providence to look into the alleged murder of second-rate pulpateer H. P. Lovecraft, while Dent tries to solve a Chinatown riddle dating back to the last Tong war. Little do they suspect that both crimes are connected ... to a dastardly plot for world domination!

    The book is packed with thrills, spills and adventure – but it’s also about the power that myth and story have in everyday life. There are cameos galore from figures real and fictional, which I won’t spoil because they’re part of the fun. OK, I’ll spoil one: the scene in which Orson Welles, who voiced the Shadow on radio, describes his vision of a Shadow movie that prefigures film noir and Citizen Kane had my hair standing on end. It was strange to read about how poorly Lovecraft fared as a pulp writer during his lifetime only days after seeing the new Library of America collection of his work in a bookstore.

    Here’s the highest compliment I can pay Malmont’s book: it not only kept me up well past my bedtime, it made me wake up early the next day so I could plunge back into it. I haven’t done that since I was ten years old – which is only appropriate, because this book made me feel that age again.

    Miscellaneous: Links

    A recent article on lucha libre, or masked Mexican wrestling, led me to the website of Christa Faust. Her novel Hoodtown is a noir set in a ghetto populated solely by masked luchadors. As if that weren’t cool enough, she also wrote the novelization of the upcoming movie Snakes on a Plane.

    Christa’s latest blog post is one I’ve been waiting for, featuring her take on Jack Black’s Nacho Libre.


    The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril is a book I wanted to like as much as you did. But for me, it just didn't work. I liked parts of it, but I thought there was too much of an attempt to cram in "pulp lore." Probably it was just me, and maybe if I'd read the book at another time I'd have loved it.


    Gee, thanks mister. Always nice to get a unexpected plug... if you know what I mean and I think you do.


    I've had so many things on my plate lately that I've just now gotten around to listening to the first of your and Rosemarie's podcasts.

    You've never seen an episode of Gunsmoke or The Andy Griffith Show? What kind of monastic existence defined your childhood, my friend?


    It was a strict Calvinist upbringing, Ivan, one in which the colored light box was forbidden.

    The truth is I watched plenty of TV, just not many syndicated shows. We're talking about the days before DVDs and Nick at Nite, after all. My viewing habits tended to movies, cartoons, and baseball. Actually, they still do.


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