Saturday, February 23, 2008



One of my guilty pleasures in life is dance themed films. Whether they are brilliant classics (the Japanese version of Shall We Dance, Australia’s Strictly Ballroom, anything with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, or Donald O’Conner), iconic (Dirty Dancing, Fame, Saturday Night Fever, Staying Alive, Grease, and, yes, even Flashdance), or merely passable (Center Stage, Save the Last Dance, Dance With Me, Take The Lead, Tango Argentina), I can be counted on to be in the theatre shortly after the film’s opening.

So it was this weekend with Step Up 2 The Streets. I’d been there in 2006 for the original Step Up, which was a lot of fun watching a white boy perform dance moves Afro-American teens had been perfecting for years. Amazingly athletic, the hip-hop soul of the dancing in the film was a joy to behold – and the film even had a story line and actors who could not only dance, but actually act.

Sequels rarely live up to the original film (Save The Last Dance 2, while enjoyable, was not a patch on the first film), and it is even more rare for a sequel to surpass the original. As such, I approached Step Up 2 The Streets with trepidation – only to be blown away by an absolutely delightful, positive, FUN, film with amazing dancing and music.

When you leave the theatre after seeing a great musical, you should come out singing. When you leave a great dance movie, you should come out feeling you are going to explode unless you can start dancing. Now, as a well past teenaged white guy who can still cut a rug when we go swing dancing, there was no way I was gonna bust a move like the kids in the movie – but the key is, I yearned to do so, and from that point of view the film is a huge success.

With a movie like Step Up 2 The Streets you do not expect a solid story, or even one differing from the formula Rocky made fashionable 30 years ago. So with plot merely an afterthought, the only facet of the film director John Chu needs to get right is the dancing, and he does so with a high level of enthusiasm. That energy rubs off on the entire cast as well as the audience.

Before long it doesn’t even matter if Step Up 2 The Streets’ plot is the same as every other urban dance movie ever made – really, how many misfit troublemakers have been saved by their ability to express themselves through dance? Whatever the number, the movie offers a compelling argument to make room for one more.

Okay, I’m willing to say up front that the incredibly multi-racial, non-tattooed, non-swearing, non-drinking or drug taking, inner-city world created in the film is totally unbelievable – way to hip-hop Disney – but I don’t care. It was great to go to a film for the pure enjoyment of the dancing and not to be bombarded by all the negatives of the world.

So, mercifully, the movie refrains from becoming too heavy-handed, and instead keeps its focus where it belongs: the eye-popping dance sequences. Movies are defined by having certain elements, and Step Up 2 The Streets would suffer without a story, but the plot only serves to enhance the drama of the awesome dance numbers.

The dancing here is the thing and it’s a joyful, amazing mix of hip-hop, gymnastics, krumping, clowning, and kids getting their freak on. The staged finale on the streets of Baltimore in the pouring rain is a fantastic piece of choreography I could watch again and again.

Step Up 2: The Streets may not be a great film, but it is a great dance film – a feel good, date night movie to get you dancing in the aisles.



Those of us who have almost given up on Renee Olstead's new album ever being released may find the below info from of big interest. The embedded video is of Renee and David Foster appearing on Tom Green's talk show for Febuary 20th. During the course of the interview, there is mention of Renee's new CD Skylark being released in May of this year - YEA!

Renee also sings Skylark with Foster on the piano and later impovises several different stylings as Foster plinks away to demonstrate how they come up with songs together. All good stuff for fans. Be sure, however, to fast forward through Tom Green butchering a Sinatra song as Foster cringes at the keyboard.

Posted: 22 Feb 2008 04:08 PM CST

David Foster and Renee Olstead were part of a special episode of Tom Green’s House Tonight !Here’s the one hour show while David and Renee talk and perform on piano. It’s a must see, enjoy !

There is embedded video here, if you cannot see it please open the post in a web browser.

Friday, February 22, 2008



The tragic shooting death of Officer Randy Simmons brought out the best in the Los Angeles media. While we are frequently critical of the media's response, numerous local media outlets went all out to cover Randy's funeral. While many heartfelt, moving profiles of Randy appeared in every local paper, we were disappointed that one Los Angeles Times columnist used his column to take a cheap shot at LAPD officers and our union. The Los Angeles Police Protective League submitted the following letter in response to the column by Tim Rutten that appeared in the Times on Wednesday, February 20th.

Re: Our pandering mayor

Let's get this straight: Tim Rutten politicizes Officer Simmons' funeral by writing a column in which he accuses the Mayor of politicizing the funeral? And he accuses the Mayor of reckless comments in a column in which he balances the heroism of Officer Simmons by noting "On the other hand, there are the corrupt, brutal and racist cops."? Is Rutten so smitten with his own language that he misses the irony here? The "rhetorical lowpoint" Rutten speaks of is not the Mayor's remarks; it is his own deeply insulting, insensitive and politically biased non-reporting that attempts to belittle what was a profoundly moving funeral for a true hero.

Tim SandsPresident
Los Angeles Police Protective League
1308 West 8th Street Los Angeles CA 90017



Issue 23
In this next issue:
From The Editor by Ruth Jordan
Newsbits – happenings around the mystery world
Lori Avocado in Alaska
Small Publisher Spotlight: Busted Flush
Fiction: THE BEWITCHED by by James Patrick Hunt
Cover story: Crimedogs

Anthony Neil Smith, Victor Gicshler and Sean Doolittle

Crimespree on the Road: Love is Murder
Sex Drugs rock and roll...and a comic Thriller by Raymond Benson
The Parisian Jungle; French Crime fiction Jean-Marc Lofficier
Interview with Ben Leroy
Eye On Hollywood Jeremy Lynch.
DVD Reviews
Fiction: THE MEDIUM AND THE MAN by Tony Perona
Michael Stanley Intervied By Pat and Gary from Once Upon a Crime
Reed Farrel Coleman:Back to the Future by Gary Shultze B. Clayton Moore interviewed by Jon Jordan
Reed Farrel Coleman
Spencer Fleming for Hire
Patry Francis Interviewed
Midwest Literary Festival by Ron Edison
Julie Hyzy interviewed by James Dasner
Jewish Boys do Ride Motorcycles by Ken Issacson
Crime and Idiocy 3
Authors and DVDs
The Buzz Box
Book Reviews
Comics Spotlight
Cooking With Crimespree, the Sean Chercover edition

Shipping Feb 25th

If you need to subscribe just go here:
Subscribe to Crimespree



Caught this great musical because a friend was in it. Great show!

When in the course of theatrical events it becomes necessary to address topical concerns, consider "1776" at the Crossley Theatre. If present-day parallels are what you seek, the Actors Co-op chamber revival of the 1969 Tony winner about the birth of our nation fits the bill, superbly.

Director Richard Israel, on loan from West Coast Ensemble, treats this unconventional musical as a living diorama (courtesy of Stephen Gifford's elegant set). From the initial tirade by obnoxious, disliked John Adams (Bruce Ladd, never better) to the heart-swelling finale, the essential point soars.

Israel explores Peter Stone's marvelous book with independent brilliance, keeping its forgone conclusion uncertain throughout. Musical director Johanna Kent's players make Sherman Edwards' serviceable songs sound like Philadelphia tavern airs. A. Jeffrey Schoenberg's gorgeous costumes denote class distinctions, beautifully lighted by Lisa D. Katz, and the ubiquitous Cricket S. Myers provides crucial sound effects.

Ladd is ideal as Adams, most moving in psychic conversation with Leslie Spencer Smith's golden-voiced Abigail. Larry Lederman has a field day as Benjamin Franklin, and Ben Hensley's Thomas Jefferson is wonderfully atypical, Jon Stewart with chops. Mark Kinsey Stephenson drawls away with the house as Richard Henry Lee in "The Lees of Old Virginia." Stephen Van Dorn burns it down as Edward Rutledge in "Molasses to Rum." Erika Whalen's fluttery Martha Jefferson, Gary Clemmer's candid John Hancock and Don Robb's peppery Stephen Hopkins crystallize the innate commitment of a sterling ensemble.

Purists may regret the inserted intermission, but it follows two coups. Michael Downing's excellent John Dickinson and his cronies galvanize us at "Cool, Cool Considerate Men," moving from minuet to martial in Allison Bibicoff's choreography. Then, army courier Matt Lutz delivers "Momma Look Sharp" with riveting purity. The lights rise on a tearful audience. Such is the self-evident power of this rousing musical document.



Thanks to for the following:

"Ben Chapman (who played the Creature From The Black Lagoon) passed away at 12:15 am Hawaii time on Thursday, February 21 at the VA hospital in Honolulu. His health began to deteriorate February 12 and he was admitted to the hospital on February 20. His life support was turned off Wednesday around noon and his pacemaker was turned off shortly before he died. He died peacefully with his wife, Merrilee, and son, Ben Chapman III, by his side. He was 79 years old at his death."



From comes the following news:

DVD Active reveals the titles in the latest wave of Disney Treasures DVDs, set for release November 8, 2008... and it includes the long-awaited Patrick McGoohan mini-series Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow! Best of all, the release will include both the original, three-part TV version (aired as The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh), and the edited theatrical feature.

If previous Treasures releases are anything to go by, it should contain other extra features as well. (The ubiquitous Leonard Maltin introductions are a given, but dare we hope for the reclusive Prisoner star to break his silence and participate in some of the special features?) Disney has teased McGoohan fans in the past by announcing The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh and then withdrawing it from its schedule, but presumably that was in order to prep this more elaborate edition. Meanwhile, Universal released Hammer's (quite good) version of the same legend, Captain Clegg, starring Peter Cushing, as Night Creatures in their Hammer Horror Franchise Collection a few years ago.

Dr. Syn tells the tale of a former pirate turned quiet English vicar who transforms himself into a horriffic vigilante outlaw dressed as a scarecrow to fight injustices perpetrated by the Crown. A Robin Hoodish figure, he fights the King's dragoons to protect the townspeople (mostly smugglers) from exorbitant taxation and impressment.



Recently, a California website ran an e-mail forum (a question and answer exchange) where the topic was "Policing the Community."
One of the civilian email participants posed the following question:

"I would like to know how it is possible for police officers to continually harass people and get away with it?"

From the "other side" (the law enforcement side) a cool cop with a sense of humor replied:

It is not easy. In California we average one cop for every 2,000 people. About 60% of those cops are on patrol, where we do most of the harassing. One-fifth of that 60% are on duty at any given moment and are available for harassing people. So, one cop is responsible for harassing about 10,000 residents. When you toss in the commercial, business and tourist locations that attract people from other areas, sometimes you have a situation where a single cop is responsible for harassing 20,000 or more people each day.

A ten-hour shift runs 36,000 seconds. This gives a cop one second to harass a person, and three-fourths of a second to eat a donut AND then find a new person to harass. This is not an easy task. Most cops are not up to it, day in and day out. It is just too tiring. What we do is utilize some tools to help us narrow down those people which we harass.

They are as follows:

PHONE: People will call us up and point out things that cause us to focus on a person for special harassment. "My neighbor is beating his wife" is a code phrase we use. Then we come out and give special harassment. Another popular one on a weeknight is, "The kids next door are having a loud party."

CARS: We have special cops assigned to harass people who drive. They like to harass the drivers of fast cars, cars blasting music, cars with expired registration stickers and the like. It is lots of fun when you pick them out of traffic for nothing more obvious than running a red light. Sometimes you get to really heap the harassment on when you find they have drugs in the car, are driving drunk, or they have an outstanding warrant.

RUNNERS: Some people take off running just at the sight of a police officer. Nothing is quite as satisfying as running after them like a beagle on the scent of a bunny. When you catch them you can harass them for hours.

CODES: When you can think of nothing else to do, there are books that give ideas for reasons to harass folks. They are called "Codes" Penal, Vehicle, Health and Safety, Business and Professional Codes, to name a few. They spell out all sorts of things for which you can really mess with people. After you read the code, you can just drive around for a while until you find someone violating one of these listed offenses and harass them. Just last week I saw a guy smash a car window. Well, the code says that is not allowed. That meant I had permission to harass this guy.

It is a pretty cool system that we have set up, and it works pretty well. We seem to have a never-ending supply of folks to harass. And we get away with it. Why? Because the good citizens who pay the tab actually like the fact that we keep the streets safe for them.

Next time you are in my town, give me a single finger wave. That will be a signal that you wish for me to take a little closer look at you,and then maybe I'll find a reason to harass YOU.

Looking forward to meeting you!

Monday, February 18, 2008



I approached this massive start to David Gemmell’s last trilogy before his untimely death with trepidation.

Gemmell’s Rigante trilogy is among my favorite all time books. Their mix of action, magic, Scottish Highland legends, and wonderfully engaging and emotionally draining character interactions never ceases to amaze.

I knew when I was growing up, I wanted to be a writer. Now, I realize I should have been more specific – I should have wanted to be David Gemmell. His writing not only inspires me to be a better writer, but to be a better person.

But his Troy trilogy (finished posthumously by his wife) didn’t appear to involve magic – being more historical fiction than heroic fantasy. I should not have worried. Gemmell’s storytelling abilities are in full bloom as he brings the legends of the Trojan wars to vivid life – if this isn’t how it happened, it should have done.

Gemmell died far too soon, but he has left behind a large canon of work to be read and reread for years to come. His Troy trilogy is a fitting capstone.


This is the seventh outing for Parker’s laconic Jesse Stone, and while he remains in many ways a Spencer clone, he is just different enough to make it worthwhile differentiating the two characters.

Like most of Parker’s recent work, the plot for Stranger In Paradise is fairly straight forward as it leads up to the expected final violent outcome. But where Parker is concerned, plot is not the point. It is simply a framework through which the reader can hang out with the characters and wish they were as cool.

Parker’s skill as a writer is easy to underestimate. He is a deceptively literate writer and has developed the staccato prose and dialogue-as-action technique to a fine art. While his themes are limited and repetative, he always mines them is satisfying fashion.

When a new Parker book is published, I have to get it and read it immediately – no matter what other book I may be reading at the time. He is one of the authors whose books I would chose to have with me on a desert island.

For me, however, Tom Selleck’s portrayal of Jesse Stone in four made-for-TV movies has done more to distinguish the character than Parker’s own writing – I see and hear Selleck in my head when I read the Stone novels.

While Robert Urich and Joe Montegna both brought something to the table when they starred in turn as Spenser, they were clearly ‘acting’ -- and it was Avery Brooks as Hawk who upstaged them both. Selleck’s portrayal of Stone is more his own – fitting him like a comfortable shadow. If Stone was a real person, this is who he would be. For me, the Stone movies have put the Stone novels on the map and made them as eagerly anticipated as the next Spenser novel.

Now, if only (one of my favorite actresses) Helen Hunt would get off her butt and exercise her rights to star as Parker’s Sunny Randall character, life would be complete.



Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the first issue of Doc Savage. I wasn’t around when the originals were published, but I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of the reprints, and – like my blog buddy Bill Crider ( – I even liked the George Pal movie.






What you see below are not see-thru skirts. They are actually prints on the skirts to make it look as if the panties are visible and these are the current rage in Japan. They'll be the rage here in North America soon.

These pictures are provided as a public service, so you won't have a heart attack when the rage reaches here.