Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chapter 69: In Which I Talk About Dancing

"Gimme all ya got! Gimme all ya got!"--Al Pacino, Heat

I've been dancing a lot lately. Thursday was 80s Night at Belvederes' four-year anniversary, dancing til 4 in the morning (I clocked out at 3:30). The next day I had coquitos with some old Pittsburgh friends and went to Pandemic, the international dance night at Brillobox. Day after that was 90s Night at Belvedere's. I didn't intend on dancing three nights in a row, but people invited me. Gotta love surprises. Gotta love being home.

Since then I've been a boring homebody working on job applications and the Hard Times manuscript. Making up for lost time. Looks like I'll be too busy on the work to visit New York City like I wanted to this winter. I tell myself: accomplish one thing each day. One concrete goal. And so far it's been a good week.

On Monday my article about Yoshiaki Kawajiri went up on Weird Fiction Review The VanderMeers' website has only been up about three month's and has a glutton's feast of material on the bizarre. And such a pretty looking website, as well.

Tuesday brought even bigger news...The Jack Daniels Sessions EP e-book is up on Smashwords! It's been a lot of work, formatting and going over the book (again) with the proverbial fine-toothed comb. Now, for only $4.99 you can enjoy these stories on your favorite futuristic device. Most of the credit goes to my editor Nathan, who reformatted the whole book for Smashwords. It's approved for the Premium Catalog and should appear on the Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Amazon, Apple & Diesel sites within two weeks. Smashwords is awesome and I'm happy to have my e-book on such an author-friendly site.

I do promotion for my work, but I've never felt particularly good at it. I've never had the bold brazenness to do huge rounds of publicity. I'll usually work really hard at it and then level off after a while. Right now I'm thinking of ways to promote Hard Times and coming up with what fits my comfort level and what doesn't. Now here am, with my very first e-book online, and not so much as a giveaway to let people know it exists. I'm not really angsting about it. It's out there in the world. It exists.

Looks like I have a few reasons to be dancing. Let's see what Wednesday brings.

I love crime capers movies. Can't get enough of them. Michael Mann is one of my absolute favorite directors. I don't know anyone who can balance style with realism like he does. I rewatched Heat recently. Still great. Still has the best shootout with Val Kilmer wrecking everybody. And Mann realizes the point of restraint. He could have had a whole movie of DeNiro and Pacino chewing the scenery at each other. Instead he keeps them apart, giving them scenes to play off their different strengths, and surrounds them with a stable of character actors to play off of. Lots of great '90s faces: Tom Sizemore, Wes Studi, William Fichtner, Henry Freakin' Rollins.

What I love most about the movie is that, even though DeNiro's team are supposed to be this crack team of super-criminals, they fuck up the whole movie! They do four or five jobs, and every one ends with them either retreating or having to kill a couple dozen people shooting their way out. Hell, there's a scene in which the whole gang of murderers meets at an expensive restaurant and dines together IN PUBLIC like a bunch of self-congratulatory investment banker buddies. Naturally, Pacino's able to stake them out, because how can you miss them? It's hilarious. I'm supposed to buy DeNiro as some sort of mastermind foil to Pacino's high-strung cop, but I just don't see it. He gets away through most of the movie because he's extremely lucky.

And I love that Mann lingers on the small moments. It's a crime epic, but the only really thing epic about it is the length (and that shootout). The film's basically about some cops, some perps, and the complications of their domestic lives. The fact that he would dwell on the Allstate Guy trying to lead a clean life working at a grease spoon demonstrates his empathy for all his characters. And I like the fact that the cop's home life falling aparts adds nothing to the main plot. Mann avoids Hollywood stuff like having DeNiro kidnap Natalie Portman or something. But it all makes the movie that much richer. Still don't like the obligatory "old guy hooks up with young girl" side-plot DeNiro has, but it's Hollywood, so I guess it had to be in there somewhere. And I'm pretty sure Jon Voight's in there as some sort of long-haired cowboy. Still don't know the point of his character, but the ridiculousness of that visual just does it for me.

I just can't get enough of Mann's films. And he's been in the business so long people are starting to copy him. Watch The Dark Knight. Tell me the whole movie, even down to the way it's shot, isn't a love letter to Mann. It's a superhero movie dressed up as Heat.


  1. This lady praised the book on her ghost blog...

  2. Didn't realize the same guy made Ninja Scroll & Wicked City & Demon City & Cyber City, but it makes perfect sense. Those were all among the first anime I watched in junior high, along with the original Vampire Hunter D; I'll have to check out Kawajiri's version... Great article.