Thursday, December 18, 2014

Organizing Crime 2015 Edition

What is my latest excuse for not blogging enough? Well I moved to Chicago, I have a full-time job, I'm working on producing a new play, I'm writing scripts and--oh yeah--I published a (sorta) new book!

ORGANIZING CRIME 2015 EDITION is the third version of our guide to active mystery series. This is a book that Jim Huang and I have been updating for over five years. With this edition, we brought in Nikki Phipps who was instrumental in the companion book ORGANIZING CRIME CLASSICS. 

These books are list books covering active mystery series so you can keep track of what you've read, what's next in the series and find new recommendations. 

So why should you buy this book when we've already done this twice? First of all, come on, man. Secondly, we make every edition worthwhile. We wait about two years between books because we design it so the information can be up-to-date as long as possible. Then every new edition will update every series in the book, but we'll also keep adding more and more authors. We want this to be as definitive as possible. Our 2010 Edition had 300+ authors. The 2012 Edition has 400+ authors. This time we have 800+ authors. Also there are new jokes in the introduction! 

This is the perfect gift for mystery lovers. Our favorite part of going to different conferences where we sell these and find people who have returned with a book they bought a year before filled with checkmarks and additional notes and a lot of love. The spiral bound book makes this easy to take with you to bookstores and libraries to find the next mystery you want.

I don't want to overstate this but this may be the greatest book of all time

You can buy a copy directly from The Crum Creek Press website and enjoy the joy of free shipping! 

Or you can buy it at some great independent bookstores like The Poisoned Pen, Murder by the Book or Uncle Hugo's. Also there's something called Amazon, but support local! 

Also I'm very happy to tease that we're developing an app version of this book. It is currently in beta at the moment. If you would like to be invited to test the beta please email me at Austin @ (No spaces). The beta is only available for Androids but it will be on iTunes as well when it's finished.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hank and Asha

Hank and Asha was one of my favorite movies from last year and as of TODAY it's now available on Amazon. Support independent film and support romantic comedies that don't belittle the genre.

With the benefit of modern technology, it feels like we’re able to be in communication with anyone at any time. At this very moment, I can use free technology to talk and see someone on the other side of the planet. It’s a level of global intimacy that has never been available to mankind before, where you can know someone better than you know anybody else…but you have never been in the same city before.

Asha first heard of Hank when she saw his film at a festival in Prague. Smitten by his talent, she decides to send him a video of appreciation. When he receives the recording in New York, he returns the favor. Then she responds. And he responds. And she responds.

What they create is something special. The entire film is composed of these recordings they send each other with the titular characters looking right into the camera as they imagine the one they care about on a different continent. While a show like Peep Show uses this device to bring the audience along into their spiral of awkward destruction, Hank and Asha uses it to make you part of the romance. We become even more invested because, more than any other film, we feel that we’re in the room for their most sincere moments—even though nobody technically is.

This experiment could have easily been a series of Skype calls with the leads always moving a bit too close to their laptop camera. Since both characters are enthusiastic documentary filmmakers, this allows director James E. Duff to make every video they send each other to be more visually dynamic. These are two people who want to depict their own individual truths. So they create experiences that they can capture on film to share with each other. This includes setting up the camera before they try the famous beer from the Czech Republic for the first time or when they are at their most emotionally confused, they press record so they can convey exactly what they’re feeling when they receive surprising news.

Enough cannot be said about the two actors who have to carry the film. Andrew Pastides and Mahira Kakkar never miss a beat for even a millisecond. They have no one else to react to but the all seeing-lens and the results are incredible. They control the frame with their expert understanding of the characters as Pastides and Kakkar are able to portray all the emotions the characters mean to put onto film and the ones they can’t hide. This gimmick is incredibly challenging for actors and without them this could be an unfortunate disaster. Instead, thanks to their charmingly perfect performances, a beautiful vision and a wonderful script by Duff and Julia Morrison, this is one of the most likable and rewarding romantic films in years.

Monday, February 17, 2014

House of Cards is Better Because It's Not Great TV

I’ve seen the first five episodes of Season Two of House of Cards. I will absolutely be spoiling the first episode and mention minor things in the next four.

I thought the first season of House of Cards was fine. It had a cool style and fine performances, but it never lived up to the hype that it was creating for itself. Then something changed during the premiere of its new season. It decided that it was going to be crazier.

Sure Frank killed Peter Russo at the end of his convoluted plan to make the Vice President quit. However that was seen as a dark scary moment in Frank’s psyche that allowed him to improvise from his scheme and learned a bit about his psychotic ambition. Yet it still wasn’t that interesting of character inspection because I never cared about Frank. I didn’t care about any character on the show; I felt bad about the lack of control in Peter Russo’s life but now he’s gone.

In Season Two, the show seems to embrace how emotionally distant the show is and will just let us enjoy the chaos. And this show really wants to be chaotic. It’s taking the Breaking Bad big moments without any of the emotional stepping-stones it takes to get to those moments.

At this point in the show, we have a vice president who is essentially a serial killer, a wife who is threatening unborn babies, a McPoyle hacker who will bark like a dog to save his beloved guinea pig and a possible Christian lesbian—definitely Christian, maybe lesbian—who is converting a prostitute who can blackmail the aforementioned VP.

This show is silly.

So very silly.