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» 2008 » July

Monthly ArchiveJuly 2008

Books 31 Jul 2008 10:31 am

How it’s done


Lee Lofland’s Police Procedure & Investigation: A Guide for Writers (Writer’s Digest Books, 2007) is valuable to more than just wannabe mystery scribes. It’s a book that is worthwhile to anybody who wants a clear, readable explanation of how law enforcement, courts and the penal system work.

The author opens by explaining the differences among various law enforcement entities, including city police, county law enforcement and state highway patrols. He then provides detailed procedures about training that law enforcement personnel receive.

The next chapter covers equipment and duties. Here is where the aspiring writer will linger over detailed
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Books & Comic books 30 Jul 2008 06:55 am

Batman Chronicles


DC Comics began its series of trade paperback Batman Chronicles in 2005, and to date it has published six volumes. For a series that promises to reprint “every Batman story in exact chronological order,” it’s off to a slow start. Batman has been published continuously for almost 70 years, often in more than one title each month. At this rate, it could take DC until the year 3000 to reach today’s adventures. And I may be overly optimistic with the math!

At any rate, The Batman Chronicles volume one reprints historically significant adventures of the Dark
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Movies 29 Jul 2008 08:44 am

Give me ‘Liberty’


That’s Lee Marvin above, the title character (but definitely not the hero) of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, John Ford’s 1962 classic Western.

The real protagonists are James Stewart and John Wayne. Stewart is Ransom Stoddard, a young lawyer from the east who shows up in the lawless town of Shinbone to start his practice.  Wayne is Tom Doniphon, a rough-and-tumble rancher. Both men are in love with Vera Miles, who plays Hollie
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Comic books 28 Jul 2008 05:57 am

Magic lightning bolt

I don’t know anything about Mike Kunkel except that his work on the first issue of Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! is delightful.

DC Comics’s Shazam! is an all-ages book in every sense of the word. Kunkel is apparently continuing the Captain Marvel reboot begun by Jeff Smith last year because he makes references to the origins of
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Movies 27 Jul 2008 07:48 am

Wait for the video

As a follow up to Saturday’s X-Files-themed post, I saw the new movie. While it’s great to see Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny together again, the enthusiasm over the reunion soon wanes when you realize how substandard X-Files: I Want to Believe really is. Critics have called it an extended episode of the TV show, but I disagree: The TV show was actually
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Comic books 26 Jul 2008 05:46 pm

X-citing debut


A new X-Files movie opens this weekend (cumbersomely subtitled “I Want To Believe”), and Wildstorm has resurrected the franchise as a comic-book series.

This #0 issue is written by Frank Spotnitz, who co-wrote the new film with series creator Chris Carter, and illustrated by Brian Denham. It’s a “done-in-one” story, with no prior knowledge of FBI special agents Dana Scully or Fox Mulder needed. Spotnitz sets up the characters and their personalities very efficiently, moving the reader directly into an oddball murder mystery with a possible supernatural
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Commentary 25 Jul 2008 09:52 am

They’re not all Dick’s

My print column from The Alliance Review, July 24:

My family sometimes eats at a restaurant called Dick’s Last Resort that prides itself on rudeness.

The servers’ bad behavior — talking back to customers, slapping down menus and hurling straws — is supposed to be funny. Call me a curmudgeon, but I don’t like it. Bad service is common enough without encouraging it.

In a tight economy where every dollar is stretched to the max — or so the media never tire of telling us, helping create the very recession that they forecast — you would expect businesses to work harder to
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Books 24 Jul 2008 09:49 pm

Men of Tomorrow

 Gerard Jones’ Men of Tomorrow may well be the definitive account of the birth of the American comic book, filled with all the romance, adventure and heartbreak of a novel, but with one difference: It actually happened.

Young, predominantly Jewish publishers, writers and artists were responsible for the birth of
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Media & Uncategorized 23 Jul 2008 04:51 am

What if Dr. Seuss wrote horror?

If Dr. Seuss ever rhymed a horror story for kids, the results might look and sound like this:


In Frankenstein’s window flew a vampire bat.

He turned into a man and hung up his hat.

“Dracula’s the name, from Transylvania way,

I need a transfusion, and I’m willing to pay.”


But the good doctor was out at the body parts store
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Books 22 Jul 2008 06:40 am

Stop, drop and roll


Rafe Esquith is a nice guy. It comes through on every page of Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire, his 2007 book about teaching.

Occasionally, teachers must read books like this to recharge their batteries. Esquith is a more amiable guide than most. He admits to not having all the answers and to making mistakes in the classroom. Even so, you feel inferior after finishing his screed because
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