Friday, March 24, 2023

Finished: 'Miami Purity' by Vicki Hendricks

 I needed this book. It's been a while since I had one knock my socks off, and this one did. I read the book in one sitting, literally, on a recent flight to Tampa. Fortunately, for my seat-mates, it didn't literally knock my socks off.

I'm not easily shocked. I'm 58. I've seen a lot and done a lot. But this one had me wincing, laughing, grimacing and saying to myself "No, don't go there!" And the author went there. 

'Miami Purity' was awesome. It was lurid and explicit in parts. But it had to be.

It had to be because I had high expectations, as I'd seen the book referred to a couple times recently as the book that reignited the contemporary crime noir genre. And you can't reignite something by being lame. You have to light stuff on fire, toss gasoline onto it and watch it explode.

Noir is a genre of crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings. This had all that. If you are easily offended, this isn't for you. It will touch your inner pervert and make you look over your shoulder in the airplane to make sure someone isn't seeing what you're reading.

According to Amazon:

Sherri Parlay gives up her life of depravity, and with best intentions, finds a respectable job as a dry cleaner in hopes for a decent future. But nature and nurture plot against her when she meets the beautiful, tortured, and rich young Payne, who tempts her with the love and life she never thought possible. Even Brenda, Payne's domineering mother, can't keep the lovers apart when Sherri's animal passions take control. Unfortunately, Payne is not only a different kind of man from those in Sherri's past, he's worse than any on her list of sordid affairs. Twisted psychology and a pure heart lead her into the dark realm of disillusionment and crime, where she reaches into her deepest reserves for the strength to survive. This contemporary noir novel is reminiscent of James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice with a heavy dose of sexual realism that Cain might have enjoyed if his times would have allowed.

I read a lot of crime noir, primarily from the 1950s-60s. I've tried my hand at it myself with the Bags Morton books, but in those wasn't able to get as dark as I wanted, falling back onto my nature of smart-aleck humor more often than the stark darkness of the soul those true to the genre do. But I'm giving it a go on a current project I'm working on. Not sure if I'll ever publish it though, as people often have difficulty separating the author from the work. In that sense, I'd love to know Vicki Hendricks, to see if she's anything like her main character Sherri Parlay. I doubt it. But, if she isn't a nympho pervert, she has a great imagination and story-telling ability.

It's one book I'll probably read again, which seldom happens. I gave it a 9 on the 10-point Haugenomter. Amazonians gave it only a 3.7 out of 5, as I suspect many didn't know what they were getting into.

It's not an erotic novel though. It's a murder mystery, an adventure, a look into the dark soul of every evil character (and they all are bad people), with sex as a common theme between them. I probably should've chosen a different book to read during Lent, but then what would I have to talk about at Confession? Besides, I was a captive audience on an airplane. Not like I could browse the bookshelves for something else, and I'm glad there wasn't.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

No cash, no problem

 Wifey and I spent last week in Florida. If you like beaches, bikinis, bands and baseball you'd enjoy it. I do and I did.

One of the unique (to me) things we encountered was at the Atlanta Braves vs. Tampa Bay Rays baseball game. It was entirely cashless.

Sure, I've done the parking station credit card, paid for tickets with card, all that stuff. I'm not a techy nerd by any means but for an old guy I do all right.

But this was entirely cashless. We paid the parking attendant with plastic. He scanned it through his little handheld device. I bought the tickets through after being told they don't have ticket windows anymore. Even the concession stands had touchpad menus to make your choices and pay with card. The only reason employees were behind the counter was to bring you the food, and even they will probably be gone in a couple years. If desired, you could order your snacks and drinks from your seat, then go up minutes later and pick them up.

You could theoretically, easily, attend a ballgame and talk to nobody. This is all fine and dandy and the way of the world now, but I'm kind of old school. I like going up to the ticket window and chatting with the old lady about where the best seats or the cheapest seats are. I liked the back and forth with Wally the Beer Man (Google him) at Twins games. 

As much as I enjoy my quiet and solitude, I do like a little social interaction, especially at events that are supposed to be social and fun.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

The scent of a bookstore

While recently reading a 1950s used paperback by John D. McDonald, I fanned the pages in front of my nose and told my wife: "If they could bottle this smell I'd wear it as cologne."

She said I'd smell like an old man. She's wrong (but don't tell her that).

As Keith Roysdon writes at "Just as smells of your mother’s cooking are an important part of memory and nostalgia, smell is a big part of longing for a proper used bookstore."

It's a fun read, but I think used bookstores are more popular and prevalent than he thinks. We are fortunate to have two good used bookstores in Rapid City, plus an independent bookstore and a BAM. Not bad for a small city.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Chris Rock has issues

 WIfey and I watched the Chris Rock comedy special on Netflix last weekend for the main reason most everyone else did: To see if he'd say anything about Will Smith and to see if Rock has gotten any funnier.

He did and he hasn't.

I try to keep in mind that I'm a middle class, middle aged, white guy from one of the whitest states around, and that I may not be his target audience. But I used to think his HBO specials were pretty funny. Yet, Saturday night, I thought he was funny maybe a third of the time. Seemed to recycle some old stuff.

I'm no delicate flower and appreciate off-color humor with the best of them but swearing for the sake of swearing and trying to be crude just to be crude and not out of necessity for the joke to work, doesn't work for me. Repeating the same "naughty" word ten times and shouting it a little louder each time, doesn't make it funnier. It makes you annoying. And screaming the word white people aren't supposed to say a thousand times in an hour is cringe-worthy to me.

To me, an amateur psychiatrist, Rock has some serious issues. Half the time he talked about how rich he was, the other half how much sex he has. Kinda made me doubt he's really all that. Then the last ten minutes he spent on Will Smith and "the slap" was kind of like watching a person come unhinged right in front of you. It was like I was a fly on the wall of his therapist visit.

It was uncomfortable and sad and not funny. He had a meltdown worthy of any of the Housewife shows, but it didn't seem contrived like theirs. You could tell he was genuinely embarrassed by the slap, probably by the fact he didn't fight back, and that everybody in the world saw it. 

But instead of paying his therapist to fix him, he made us all pay to watch him be embarrassed again. 

Made me wish Rock hadn't been wearing a necklace with Prince's love and peace symbol. There was no love and no peace Saturday night. And, worse yet for a comedy special, mighty few laughs.