Saturday, March 8, 2008

SEVEN GOLDEN MEN!


SEVEN GOLDEN MEN!
(Sette uomini d'oro) 1965

They Walk, They Talk, They Crawl on Their Bellies Into Bank Vaults. And They're Mine, All Mine...

At some time in the middle of my misspent teen years, I began collecting spy and crime film soundtrack albums. Several emerged as listening favorites: Serpico, The Eiger Sanction, The Magnificent Seven, and the near-perfect swinging score by composer Armando Trovajoli for a ‘60s Italian caper film I had never seen called Seven Golden Men.

Don’t ask me where I came across this little gem as I don’t remember any more – a garage sale perhaps or the local used record store. I do remember playing it over and over until it’s vocal rhythms became so imbedded in my brain I didn’t need the record anymore to run through the whole soundtrack in my head.

Somewhere over the years, the original album has gone walkabout. I looked occasionally to find another copy, but without success. Recently, however, the Internet in all its glory coughed up a listing for a European CD featuring the double soundtrack for Seven Golden Men and the sequel Seven Golden Men Strike Again.

Obviously, I hit my PayPal account immediately. I still had never seen the original film, and didn’t even know there had been a sequel, but the sounds of the film and the images of a glorious bank job from the cover of the original album had always stayed with me. In reality, it was also the image of the star of the film, Italian sex kitten Rossana Podestà wearing a cat suit to put Emma Peel to shame, which inflamed my teenage obsession.

With the CD on order, I hit Google again and was delighted to find an English dubbed, off brand, DVD of the actual film for sale through an obscure DVD supplier. A little more PayPal action and Seven Golden Men was finally mine to view.

Let me say up front, while the film is absolutely dated by today’s high-tech action standards, I still got a kick out of the dashing and lighthearted script – and Rossana Podestà in her cat suit still got my pulse racing.

The film is really a forgotten caper classic, comparable to the original Italian Job, Topkapi or the original Ocean’s 11. The cheesy 60's technology and fashions playing out across the screen are perfectly matched by the brilliant soundtrack driving the action – and every note was there just as I remembered it in my head.

Seven Golden Men opens right in the middle of the action as our anti-heroes set about the brilliantly planned and executed robbery as they set out to steal 7 tons of gold from a Swiss Bank vault (apparently, it was illegal to film a bank robbery in Switzerland, so director Marco Vicario used a fake script when shooting on location in front of Credit Suisse in Geneva). The problem for our anti-heroes, of course, is how do you get several tons of gold bars out of the country with nobody at the bank the wiser.

Phillipe Leroy is the suave criminal mastermind with the delectable Rossana Podestà (the director’s wife fresh of her triumph as Helen of Troy – among the many spear and sandal Italian epics for which she became known) as the sexy distraction who is key to the plot.

This is a purely fun Italian caper film. Keeping in mind the ‘moral’ endings demanded by the times for films such as The Italian Job and Ocean’s 11, the ending of Seven Golden Men is never in doubt – however, the fun is in getting there. That said, much of the fun is in the second half of the film.

While the caper itself is clever, there is never much tension as it plays out through the first half of the film – every threat is easily thwarted and even quirks of fate have been accounted for. But once the caper is completed, the double and triple crosses begin and the true cleverness of the film begins. Everything begins to happen fast and furious until the end comes full circle back to the beginning.

Directed by Marco Vicario and written by Vicario, Noelle Gillmor, and Mariano Ozores, Seven Golden Men is a treat for all caper film fans. For me, it was the delightful culmination of a teenage obsession – and the soundtrack will continue to stay with me for a long time to come.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

ARE YOU A TALENT, A LIFER, OR A MANDARIN?

I'm a Talent!

You're a risk-taker, and you follow your passions. You're determined to take on the world and succeed on your own terms. Whether in the arts, science, engineering, business, or politics, you fearlessly express your own vision of the world. You're not afraid of a fight, and you're not afraid to bet your future on your own abilities. If you find a job boring or stifling, you're already preparing your resume. You believe in doing what you love, and you're not willing to settle for an ordinary life.

Talent: 67%
Lifer: 31%
Mandarin: 41%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

WHAT SPORTS CAR ARE YOU?

I'm a Mazda RX-8!



You're sporty, yet practical, and you have a style of your own. You like to have fun, and you like to bring friends along for the ride, but when it comes time for everyday chores, you're willing to do your part.


Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

THE LIBRARIAN RETURNS!


THE LIBRARIAN RETURNS!

This series is campy fun -- sort of Indiana Jones lite.

The most mild-mannered action hero in TV history will be back on TNT late this year.The cable network has begun production on the third installment of its "Librarian" franchise, with former "ER" star Noah Wyle reprising his title role. The movie, titled "The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice," is scheduled to premiere in late 2008.

Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin will reprise their roles as well, and Bruce Davison ("Knight Rider," "X-Men") and Stana Katic ("Heroes") will join the cast for the new film. Jonathan Frakes ("Star Trek: The Next Generation"), who helmed the second "Librarian" film, is also returning as director."Curse of the Judas Chalice" will once again center on Wyle's Flynn Carsen, a librarian at the New York Metropolitan Library who also keeps guard over the world's greatest treasures (both real and mythical).

After a series of dreams leads him to New Orleans (where the film began production this week), he gets tangled up in a conspiracy involving both the chalice and the legendary vampire Count Vlad Dracula.

Katic plays a jazz singer whom Dracula turned into a vampire some 400 years ago and who has dedicated herself to hunting him down. Davison will play a professor who holds key information about the chalice.

Both previous "Librarian" films have scored strong ratings for TNT. The first film, in 2004, drew better than 7 million viewers, and the 2006 sequel pulled in 6.2 million viewers.

YOUNG BOND #5!

YOUNG BOND #5!

Thanks to our friends over at Young Bond Dossier ww.youngbonddossier.com/ for the below story. Also, be aware the above illustration is a mock-up only and not the official cover.

Today Puffin and Ian Fleming Publications announced the next book (and possibly the last) in Charlie Higson’s bestselling Young Bond series will be entitled:

BY ROYAL COMMAND

Young Bond’s most daring adventure yet takes him from England to the chilling heights of the Austrian Alps. When his whole world explodes, James is forced to go on the run, pursued by enemy agents and the British authorities. James must choose between friendship and duty. His life will never be the same again…

By Royal Command will be published in hardback on September 4, 2008.

The Young Bond books have to date sold nearly three-quarters of a million copies combined. The series was launched with SilverFin in 2005 and was followed by Blood Fever in 2006, Double or Die, published in January 2007 and Hurricane Gold in September 2007.

FLYING OFF THE SHELVES!


FLYING OFF THE SHELVES!


The Pleasures and Perils of Chasing Book Thieves
By Paul Constant in The Stranger – Seattle’s only newspaper.
www.thestranger.com/seattle/Home

In my eight years working at an independent bookstore, I lost count of how many shoplifters I chased through the streets of Seattle while shouting "Drop the book!" I chased them down crowded pedestrian plazas in the afternoon, I chased them through alleys at night, I even chased one into a train tunnel. I chased a book thief to the waterfront, where he shouted, "Here are your f***ing books!" and threw a half-dozen paperbacks, including Bomb the Suburbs and A People's History of the United States, into Puget Sound, preferring to watch them slowly sink into the muck rather than hand them back to the bookseller they were stolen from. He had that ferocious, orgasmic gleam in his eye of somebody who was living in the climax of his own movie: I suppose he felt like he was liberating them somehow.

To work in an independent bookstore is to always be aware of shoplifters. It can devour you; you can spend all your time watching people, wondering if they're watching you. Every shoplifter caught is a major victory against the forces of darkness; every one who escapes is another 10 minutes kept awake at night with gnashing teeth.

I know a few booksellers who have literally been driven a little bit crazy at the thought of their inventory evaporating out the door, and with good reason: An overabundance of shoplifters can put bookstores out of business. One local bookstore owner can famously talk about shoplifters with total strangers for hours, with the detail and passion that some people reserve for sexual conquests.

There's an underground economy of boosted books. These values are commonly understood and roundly agreed upon through word of mouth, and the values always seem to be true. Once, a scruffy, large man approached me, holding a folded-up piece of paper. "Do you have any Buck?" He paused and looked at the piece of paper. "Any books by Buckorsick?" I suspected that he meant Bukowski, but I played dumb, and asked to see the piece of paper he was holding. It was written in crisp handwriting that clearly didn't belong to him, and it read:

1. Charles Bukowski
2. Jim Thompson
3. Philip K. Dick
4. William S. Burroughs
5. Any Graphic Novel

This is pretty much the authoritative top five, the New York Times best-seller list of stolen books. Its origins still mystify me. It might have belonged to an unscrupulous used bookseller who sent the homeless out, Fagin-like, to do his bidding, or it might have been another book thief helping a semi-illiterate friend identify the valuable merchandise. I asked the man whether he preferred Bukowski's Pulp to his Women, as I did, and whether his favorite Thompson book was The Getaway or The Killer Inside Me. First the book chatter made him nervous, but then it made him angry: He bellowed, "You're just a little bitch, ain't'cha?" and stormed out.

Most used bookstores try to avoid buying unread-looking books from the list above, but they do always sell, and so any crook who figures out how to roll a spine can turn a profit pretty easily. The list of popular books is surprisingly static, although newer artists have earned their place in the pantheon with Hunter S. Thompson and the Beats: Palahniuk, Murakami, and Danielewski have become hugely popular antisellers in the last five years. I've had hundreds of dollars of graphic novels—Sandman, Preacher, The Dark Knight Returns—lifted from right under my nose all at once. Science fiction and fantasy are high in demand, too: The coin of the realm is now, and has always been, the fiction that young white men read, and self-satisfied young white men, the kind who love to stick it to the man, are the majority of book shoplifters.

When I worked at a big-box chain bookstore, shoplifters never crossed my mind; the corporation paid security guards for that. Employees were told not to get involved. The legal issues were too Byzantine for us peons to understand. The guards, instead, created problems: We had to fire one for masturbating in the children's section.

But independent booksellers, understanding that the line between profit and failure is so fine, take it personally, and sprint after thieves all the time. On the rare occasion when a shoplifter would run faster than I could, I would shout at his back as he escaped into the city: "Why don't you steal from a f***ing corporate bookstore, you a**hole?" None of them ever responded. They just kept running.

WANTED -- NEW TRAILER!

WANTED -- NEW TRAILER!


Wanted Exclusive Trailer

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BURN NOTICE ON DVD JUNE 17!


BURN NOTICE ON DVD JUNE 17!


The below update comes courtesy of our blog buddy Tanner at www.doubleosection.blogspot.com


After a few weeks of speculation, we now have official confirmation from Fox that Burn Notice: Season One will hit DVD June 17, 2008. According to the press release, the set will feature "all 11 episodes including the two-hour season finale plus bonus features such as cast/crew commentaries, gag reel, audition footage [and] character montages." More on that below. Retail will be, as rumored, $49.99.


Creator Matt Nix's Burn Notice proved to be a breakout hit when it first aired on USA last summer. There hadn't been a "fun" spy show on TV since Alias went off the air, and Burn Notice managed to put a new twist on the genre with its unique "spy procedural" perspective, wryly narrated by appealing series star Jeffrey Donovan.


Best of all, the four disc, full screen DVD set of Season One will include commentary on every episode with Nix and cast members Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell and Sharon Gless! Anyone who's ever heard one of the Evil Dead commentaries knows that Bruce Campbell is always a blast on these tracks, and if he can be judged at all by his screen persona, I imagine Donovan will be too. I'm really looking forward to hearing these! On top of that, the fourth disc gives us the aforementioned gag reel, audition footage, and three montages: a "character montage," a "Girls Gone Burn Notice montage," and an "action scenes montage."This set sounds like more than enough to tide fans over until the eagerly-awaited second season of Burn Notice starts airing on USA late this summer.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA @ THE KNITTING FACTORY!

BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA @ THE KNITTING FACTORY!
Friday, Mar. 7 @ 8:00pm
Knitting Factory
7021 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323-463-0204
$30.00

After performing together for over six decades, the soul-gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama have enjoyed one of the more striking comebacks in recent memory. Their last several albums have earned these hipster septuagenarians the best reviews and record sales of their career, four Grammy Awards in a four-year span, and a completely new, contemporary audience. This is a rare chance to catch them at an intimate venue.

These four-time Grammy winners may be from Alabama, but they've been spending time in the Crescent City. The Blind Boys of Alabama's new album, Down In New Orleans, their first in three years, was released January 29, 2008, on the Time Life Music label. Recording for the first time in New Orleans, The Blind Boys are backed by a trio of world-class New Orleans musicians: David Torkanowsky (piano), Roland Guerin (bass) and Shannon Powell (drums). Other guests include legendary pianist/producer and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Allen Toussaint, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and the horn-heavy Hot 8 Brass Band, one of the city's most vital young acts. But the band's deeply soulful and natural voices remain in the spotlight.

ABOUT KNITTING FACTORY - L.A.

In the heart of Hollywood lies one of L.A.'s most seriously eclectic music venues and is home to some of the hippest acts in L.A. The club has 2 stages in it; the Main Room and the Alterknit Lounge.

The Knitting Factory was founded in 1987 and over the years has grown into Knitting Factory Entertainment, which encompasses two clubs — in New York and Hollywood — several record labels and other ventures. The Knitting Factory also presents shows at other major venues.

FRANK SINATRA’S HISTORIC RAT PACK HIDEAWAY FOR SALE!


FRANK SINATRA’S HISTORIC RAT PACK HIDEAWAY FOR SALE!
VILLA MAGGIO 7.5 ACRES; 3 HOUSES $4,995,000

Anyone with a spare five million can pick up this little gem in Palm Desert.

Frank Sinatra’s Palm Desert Hideaway House (Villa Maggio – named after Sinatra’s character in From Here to Eternity): A breath-taking, Private, Self-Contained Compound atop Mtn Center, 20 mins. from Palm Spgs; A retreat for Sinatra & the Rat Pack, many Celebs; 7.5 Acres; 3 Houses, Swim. Pool, Spa, Tennis Court, Bsktball Ct, BBQ Pit, Helicopter Pad --MAIN HOUSE, 3 Bedrms, 5-1/2 Baths; Vault. Ceilings; Formal Din. Room, Balcony; Media Theatre; Gourmet Kitchen; 5 Stone Fireplaces; Pegged Hrdwd Flrs; ATTACHED GUEST HOUSE: 2 Bedrms, Lg. Bath; Liv. Rm w/Frplc;Full Kit., decks; DETACHED GUEST HOUSE -3 sep. Suites, each with: mini-Kitchen, Multiple Bathrms; Stone Fireplaces; POOL HOUSE has Great Rm, mini-Kit; 2 Bathrms; 2 Saunas, Stone Fplc; sev.Satellite Dishes; Sound System; Central Htg; Multiple Unit A/C; sep. Clim-Control Zones; 55,000 Gal. Water Storage; 4 300-gal Water Heaters; New wiring & copper plmb; Dual Propane Tanks; 27-skw Generator Bldg; Storage & Work Bldgs; sprinklers thru-out; Pilings bedded into Granite; Private Gated Road; Parking for 24 cars.
Contact Rebecca Pikus today! 760-534-5888 rebeccapikus@tarbell.com








Monday, March 3, 2008

’DEVIL MAY CARE’ U.S. COVER ART REVEALED!


DEVIL MAY CARE COVER ART SET FOR U.S. RELEASE!

The cover art for the American edition of the new James Bond novel Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks has just been revealed.

For once (and maybe for the only time), I like it beter than the British version. I think it’s very cool!

NEW AMSTERDAM!


IMMORTAL'S PAST IS WOVEN THROUGHOUT 'NEW AMSTERDAM'

By Dave Mason – VENTURA COUNTY STAR

John Amsterdam will live forever unless he meets the one woman who can make his heart stop. He's immortal, thanks to a mystical treatment by an American Indian woman who saved his life in 1642 in New Amsterdam. He was a Dutch soldier who was stabbed by another soldier when he tried to stop him from attacking that woman.

After treating his fatal wound, the Indian told John he would never age until he found his one true love. John stays in the area and sees the trees of New Amsterdam grow into the skyscrapers of New York City.

That story of change, immortality and romance is told in "New Amsterdam," a dramatic series that will premiere at 9 p.m. Tuesday on Fox. It's filmed on location in New York City.

During a phone interview from New York, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays John, said he was attracted to the role because of the show's various time periods. For the most part, "New Amsterdam" shows John as a New York City homicide detective in the present, but flashbacks present him as a lawyer in the mid-20th century, a doctor in an earlier time and in other professions throughout the centuries.

"They use the past to inform the present. The history of New York is so vast and rich," said Coster-Waldau, a 37-year-old Danish actor who got his start in Hollywood in the 2001 movie "Black Hawk Down." He went on to star in films such as "Kingdom of Heaven" (2005).

HIS ONE TRUE LOVE

There's a plot spoiler in the next two paragraphs, but it's a crucial one for understanding "New Amsterdam."

In the first episode, John stumbles into Sara Dillane (Alexie Gilmore), his one true love, and has a heart attack, which he survives. But he didn't actually get to talk with her and doesn't know her identity.

He becomes obsessed with finding her. He's ready to give up his immortality after centuries of outliving his friends, spouses, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. Living forever can be lonely.

"The fact that he had a heart attack gives him hope and new energy," said Coster-Waldau.

John even is hoping that he's showing signs of aging.

John's long life gives him knowledge and experience, but he's still human and fallible, Coster-Waldau said. "I don't think that even though he has lived 400 years, he will ever discover the meaning of life."

AND THERE'S THE ROMANCE FACTOR.

"When people fall in love, they go crazy," Coster-Waldau said. "It doesn't matter if you're 20 or if you're 70. You will be temporarily insane.

"He knows many things, but when it comes to relationships, that's different for him," Coster-Waldau said.

John's loneliness drove him to alcoholism, and the first episode shows him at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. An upcoming episode will go back in time to show John joining AA, Coster-Waldau said. John has been sober since the 1960s.

A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP

Throughout time, a few people have known John's secret. "New Amsterdam" shows him confiding in his best friend, Omar, a 65-year-old bartender.

Omar regularly offers John advice and thinks John will get a raw deal if he loses his immortality after discovering his true love. Likewise, John shows he's loyal to Omar.

"Stephen Henderson, who plays Omar — I would love to have him as a dad," Coster-Waldau said. "Stephen's a great actor."

The second episode, which will air at 9 p.m. Thursday, shows there's some conflict between John and Omar because of a secret about their relationship. The episode goes beyond John's life to explore civil rights; Omar is black.

John's personal conflicts extend to the workplace. He's a great detective, but because of his secret immortality, he takes risks that the other detectives see as reckless. His new partner, Eva Marquez (Zuleikha Robinson), suspects there's more to him than he's revealing.

The show has led Coster-Waldau to think about his own life and inevitable death. He said he has discussed the show's themes with his wife, Nukâka, an actress from Greenland. (They and their two children continue to live in Denmark, but Coster-Waldau has spent time in New York City to film "New Amsterdam.")

Coster-Waldau said immortality sounds attractive to him now, but he said it might not seem like such a good thing when he becomes much older and has had his second hip replacement.

10 POSITIVE THINGS YOU CAN DO IN 10 MINUTES!


EMOTIONAL FITNESS:
10 POSITIVE THINGS YOU CAN DO IN 10 MINUTES!

By Barton Goldsmith – VENTURA COUNTY STAR NEWSPAPER

It usually takes us much longer to change our moods than we'd like. Here are 10 things you can do in 10 minutes or less that will have a positive emotional effect on you and those you love.

1. Watch "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. See it online at Oprah.com. This is a deeply moving segment that may be the best 10 minutes you've invested in front of a computer.

2. Watch the sunset with your mate. Nothing extra is necessary. Just sit and take in the natural beauty of the sky and appreciate being able to share it with the one you love.

3. Sit quietly by yourself. It doesn't really matter where or when. Just let your feelings bubble up and then experience the thoughts flowing out of your mind. Clearing your head and heart will give you extra energy to get through the rest of the day.

4. Write a thank-you note to your mate. When was the last time you thanked your partner for just being who he or she is and being with you? Doing this in writing will give your partner something to cherish for the rest of his or her life.

5. Take out your oldest family photo album and look through it. The experience will fill you with fond memories and perhaps make you a bit wistful for days gone by.

6. Play with a child. Most kids have short attention spans; 10 minutes of quality time from a loving adult can make their day. It also will help you stay in touch with the child inside of you.

7. Visualize or imagine a positive outcome for any issue. Medical doctors recommend visualization to patients with chronic and potentially fatal illnesses. If it can help them, it can do the same for you.

8. Go to bed with the one you love 10 minutes earlier and spend that time just holding each other. Let the feeling of warmth from your mate move through you.

9. Hang out by some water. Studies show that hospital patients who can see a natural body of water from their beds get better at a 30 percent faster rate. If you're not near the coast or a lake, try taking a bath. Doing so is also healing.

10. Dance like nobody's watching. Shake, twist and jump around. Let yourself feel the joy of moving to your favorite music.

Sadly, many people measure happiness by how long the experience lasts. The truth is that a few minutes of joy here and there can make a big difference in what you get out of life.

— Dr. Barton Goldsmith, marriage and family therapist, can be reached at 818-879-9996 or via e-mail at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com. He has lived and practiced in Westlake Village for more than a decade. Hear him live on KCLU Radio, 88.3 FM, from 1 to 2 p.m. Mondays.

FEMME NOIR -- GUNS BLAZING


FEMME NOIR -- GUNS BLAZING!


Christopher Mills over at http://atomic-pulp.blogspot.com/ gives us the latest on his fantastic new comic: Femme Noir!


Here's the public debut of artist Matt Haley's (Birds of Prey, Ghost, G.I. Spy) variant cover for the second issue of the Femme Noir: Dark City Diaries miniseries, which should be on comic shop shelves in July.Obviously, Matt's an incredible talent, who's particularly great at drawing strong, beautiful, butt-kicking women.


Much of his efforts of late have been in the service of Hollywood producers; among other things, he drew all the on-screen illustrations for SciFi Channel's Who Wants to Be A Superhero?Matt's also got a great art blog, which I highly recommend. Check it out.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

CONAN AND THE SONGS OF THE DEAD!


CONAN AND THE SONGS OF THE DEAD -- JOE LANSDALE AND TIMOTHY TRUMAN!


Our blog buddy at www.billcrider.blogspot.com gives us to following props for the warped Joe Lansdale version of Conan:


As this is Joe Lansdale's take on Conan, with artwork by Timothy Truman, I was naturally expecting a new vision of the barbarian, with cuddly kitty cats, pink unicorns, maybe some pocket dragons.


Hahahaha! Just kidding. I was expecting violence, gore, sex, and some humor. I got it all. Heads roll (I didn't bother to count, but then I didn't bother to count the number of synonyms for "pig's dick," either), Conan gets it on with a djinn, there are battles galore (with monsters, humans, living dead, etc.), there's a quest, there's more.


Great artwork, fine storytelling, laughs, blood, sex.

IT'S LIGHTS OUT FOR THE DICK TRACY MUSEUM!


IT'S LIGHTS OUT FOR THE DICK TRACY MUSEUM!


With bare guest-book pages and low attendance, family decides a new outlet is needed.


WOODSTOCK, ILL. — A case had been building to close the Dick Tracy museum in Woodstock, and the clues were uglier than Flattop Jones.
The guest book hasn't been signed in weeks. The shelves are lined with unsold Dick Tracy pens, yellow fedoras and coffee mugs. And on a recent February morning, a broken furnace kept museum director Jim Johnson shivering until closing. Only a few visitors stopped by, one of them a repairman who got the heat turned back on.
With attendance plunging, museum officials have decided to close in June the 1,000-square-foot shrine to the comic strip detective and his creator — longtime Woodstock resident Chester Gould. The decision was difficult for Gould's daughter, Jean Gould O'Connell, who said her father's estate could not keep funding it.
"We hate to do it but we really have no choice," Johnson said. "We do not have the donations to keep it running."
Gould was 31 years old when he proposed the strip about the chisel-chinned cop to the Chicago Tribune-New York Daily News Syndicate. The strip, first published in 1931, appeared by the 1960s in more than 650 newspapers. Today it runs in about 50. It also appears at chron.com/comics, the Houston Chronicle's comics site.
The Chester Gould-Dick Tracy Museum opened in 1991 on the second floor of a turn-of-the-century building overlooking Woodstock's quaint town square. Tourists from around the world visited, and residents beamed about their well-known citizen and the hard-boiled detective he created. No one would have guessed that only a year later a groundhog would steal the limelight.
The museum's grand opening coincided with one of the first showings of the movie Dick Tracy in the town's historic theater on Main Street. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event, or so everyone thought.
The next year, another Hollywood crew arrived to film Groundhog Day. Released in 1993, the blockbuster starred Bill Murray and used Woodstock as a stand-in for Punxsutawney, Pa.
Dozens of star-struck residents mingled with the movie makers, who occupied the town square for three months in 1992. Ever since, the community has claimed the holiday as its own with a weeklong celebration.
That's a sore point for Jeff Kersten, the museum's secretary. "I cannot understand the whole groundhog fascination. That has always befuddled me," he said. "Woodstock has absolutely no connection to Groundhog Day. The thing that has an actual connection to the town — Dick Tracy — has gone by the wayside."
In the museum's early years, more than 6,000 visitors stopped by annually, many of them comic lovers from other countries who read the strip in their native language. The city launched a "Dick Tracy Days" festival with a parade, food and games. Participants even decked themselves out in rubbery masks of Flattop, B-B Eyes, Mumbles or Moonbeam — Gould's infamous characters.
But attendance has been slipping and donations have been hard to find. Last year only 3,464 visitors showed up. The majority of the $45,000 needed annually to keep the museum running has been donated by Gould's estate. The $2 admission fee isn't enough to make ends meet, officials say.
Gould's family, which includes his daughter, and his grandchildren Sue Sanders and Tracy O'Connell, decided it was time for a transition.
It was a heartbreaking decision. After all, this was where the cartoonist lived for half a century, dreaming up the exploits of the square-jawed Tracy and his gallery of villains. Some were caricatures of people he had seen around town, or riding the commuter train to the Chicago Tribune.
"Seventeen years is a long time for a private museum, long enough," Gould O'Connell said.
Dick Locher, a former assistant of Gould's who has drawn the newspaper strip for the past 25 years, said the museum had a worldwide following without benefit of much advertising.
"People have made trips like a mecca to see the museum. Now there isn't going to be much left," said Locher, a retired Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune, whose work is syndicated by Tribune Media Services. "The main point here is sadness because the comics are an American original."
Tracy fans won't be redirected to out-of-the-way niche stores. By the end of the year, family members expect the museum to debut on the Internet with a site that will showcase the strip, fan letters and some of Gould's unpublished work.
Gould O'Connell, 80, is happy with a more personal contribution — a biography of her father she wrote that was released last year.
The book, which tracks Gould's determination to make it at a big-city paper, is up for an Edgar Allen Poe award from the Mystery Writers Association of America.
"Here I am 80 and writing my first book," Gould O'Connell said. "I want people to know the man behind Dick Tracy."
It was in the panels of Dick Tracy, not in scholarly journals, that the world took one of its first looks at two-way wrist radios, closed-circuit television and space shuttles. A lunar golf course appeared in Dick Tracy two years before astronaut Alan Shepard hit a golf ball on the moon.
Tracy clearly left an iconic stamp on the Chicago area. There's even a sand bunker in the shape of the detective's head at Cantigny Golf in Wheaton on the estate of former Chicago Tribune owner Col. Robert R. McCormick, whose newspaper helped make Gould world famous.
One day last week, a Woodstock coffee shop was bustling and a clerk asked a customer if he had heard the sad news: The Dick Tracy museum was closing.
"I didn't even know there was a Dick Tracy museum," the Woodstock resident said.
To the legions of the detective's fans, that might sound like a crime.