The fall semester of my Film as Literature class – for the Emeritus Program of Saddleback College in Laguna Woods, CA – is about to begin. I’ve been teaching this course going on three years, which means I’ve shown a lot of movies. My goal is to get students thinking about film artistry, storylines and character, and more. My criteria is … eclectic. This semester I’ll show contemporary classics (i.e. “L. A. Confidential”), vintage favorites (such as “The Postman Always Rings Twice”) and … Mel Brooks! Hey, this year marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” That, and the fact that I’ve got an October 29 session (Halloween is just two days later), is reason enough to make way for “Young Frankenstein”!
As the royal marriage of American TV actress Meghan Markle and Britain’s Prince Harry looms, I take a look at Hollywood’s longtime infatuation with gals with tiaras – yeah, show biz loves flicks about princesses – on my Facebook page.
My passel of princesses is far from complete. For instance, I only include a few from Disney’s crowded royal court. But I spotlight a regal Oscar winner (Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday”), fan faves (Princess Leia, anyone?), the most legendary of all child stars (Shirley Temple as “The Little Princess”), B-players with great gams (remember Virginia Mayo?), and more. How’s your curtsy?
I’m very flattered that I was invited to participate in the upcoming annual mystery convention, Left Coast Crime. This year’s gathering of fans and authors will be held in Reno, NV, so it’s fittingly called “Crime on the Comstock.” I’ll be on a panel exploring “Muddy Waters: Social Issues in Crime Fiction.” Although I’m a newbie crime fiction author (see previous post about my short story in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine), I’ve dealt with plenty of social issues – recidivism, the debate over the death penalty, school shootings and more – in print and on TV. The event’s in late March. Meantime, I’ll be prepping.
‘Tis the season for gift-giving. How about a Hollywood-themed book?
In the December issue of BookPage, I review a quintet of new titles: a double biography of (unlikely) best pals Henry Fonda and James Stewart; a look at the making of the seminal Sixties film, “The Graduate;” lavish coffee table books about icons Grace Kelly and Sophia Loren; and the clever ‘Cinemaps,’ which charts plotlines of favorite films. Santa, start shopping!
Weaponry experts are locked & loaded with advice at MWA meeting
In the December issue of The March of Crime, the newsletter of the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America, I write about the use – and misuse – of weaponry. It’s per a recent MWA meeting’s panel discussion with authors David Putnam and Janet Joyce Holden, and Daric Manser, special agent with the FBI’s bomb technician program. The moderator was FBI special agent Thomas Leighton, a firearms instructor. He’s also a mystery genre fan. As is Yours Truly.
In the current (September) issue of Orange Coast, I take a look at the 50th anniversaries of both South Coast Plaza and Fashion Island. From the signature carousel at SCP (the OC’s first enclosed shopping center) to the koi pond at the open air FI (there are 80 fish, in 11 to 12 varieties), I explore the nooks, crannies and favorite shops – as well as those that are no more. Imagine, the five-star SCP retail empire once had a Woolworth’s!