I’m Back

I crawled out of bed at 4 a.m. It took some time to get going, and once I did, it was like pulling teeth to get words on the page, but –

I wrote.

And I feel much better having done so, which bodes well for doing the same tomorrow. Here’s to the 599 words I managed this morning, and hopefully a good deal more tomorrow.


Film Noir Friday – Life


Life has been dark enough the last week. So, no film noir watching or contemplation this week.

I will just note that Noir Alley on TCM is screening Follow Me Quietly. I’ve never seen it, and I won’t be watching it, but it looks like a B-film noir, and these are often very much worth checking out.  It’s pretty remarkable how much these films pack in a little over an hour and a Poverty Row budget. Check it out, and let me know what you think about it in the comments.

Writer’s Block

I’ve never believed in writer’s block. I always maintained that it was an excuse for not putting the butt in chair, and doing the work. That was until a few days ago, because when I sit down to write, the words aren’t coming.

I’m very close to finishing a book, and when I do it will be dedicated to my brother. But I don’t know when the words will come again. That’s frightening.

The last conversation I had with Dennis, he said he was struggling with finishing his works, too. I’m hoping we figure this out together.

God bless.


RIP Dennis DeCastro

My brother was the most talented person I’ve ever known. That’s not hyperbole or the exaggerated claims of a grieving big brother. It’s truth.

Maybe I’ve known a better painter. (Maybe not)

Maybe I’ve known a better musician.

Maybe I’ve known someone who could hit a baseball farther.

Maybe I’ve known a better skateboarder.

Maybe I’ve known a better break dancer.

The list goes on.

The point is, I’ve known no one that could take on all of those things and excel at all of them in ways that even the most jaded critic would acknowledge.

Anything he put his mind to he excelled at. I’m glad he never really took to golf.

Now, he is gone. And the world has lost his future creations. And I’ve lost my brother, whom I loved.

Film Noir Friday – Burt Lancaster


Burt Lancaster is my favorite Film Noir actor.

I’m not so sure it’s because I think he’s the best actor of the era. He’s not.

Rather, when I look at the Films Noirs that I love. The pictures that I can (and have) watch over and over again. Burt Lancaster shows up in those films more than any other actor. Off the top of my head, those Lancaster films are:

Brute Force


An excellent prison break film by my favorite Noir director Jules Dassin.

Sweet Smell of Success


An uncommon turn for Burt as the villain. He plays a newspaper columnist, evidently based on Walter Winchell. Tony Curtis stars opposite him as an ambitious press agent (Tom Cruise has said he based his Jerry Maguire performance on Curtis) in love with Lancaster’s sister. I’m not sure if the intention of the film was to expose something about the media or Winchell but this film is all about Lancaster, the overprotective brother, turning the screws on Curtis. Neither men are particularly worth rooting for, in my opinion. Yet somehow the film still works. It’s also noteworthy for its stunning 1950s New York cinematography.

The Killers


The expanded take on Hemingway’s excellent short story. Lancaster’s “The Swede” only briefly appears in Hemingway’s story, but he’s what the entire story revolves around. In the hands of Robert Siodmak, that story evolves into one of the indisputable great Film Noir stories. Hemingway was so happy with Siodmak’s treatment that he reportedly hosted regular screenings of the film at his home. Considering how little of the film is actually based on Papa’s short, that seems pretty high praise. (Note: the opening scene of the film is almost verbatim Hemingway’s short.) Both the film and short story are worth seeking out.

Criss Cross


My second favorite film noir. A heist film, which focuses on a single protagonist, is a bit of an outlier, and it is probably the reason I enjoy this flick over others such as The Killing, The Asphalt Jungle, and even Dassin’s Riffifi. The broken relationship of Steve (Lancaster) and Anna (Yvonne DeCarlo, Lily Munster at her hottest) smolders with longing. Dan Duryea does a fantastic Dan Duryea as gangster Slim Dundee. The film is book-ended with an iconic opening scene of DeCarlo’s plea to the camera/Steve (it’s been oft imitated but never topped) and a truly Noir ending.

We all have our favorites. Both in films and actors. Three of the four films above (the last three) would all fit in my Top 10 of Film Noir. If that doesn’t land Burt Lancaster in a mythical Film Noir Hall of Fame, I don’t know what will. After all, my opinion is King.

Moonlight Graham appoves!

— TD

Indie Crime Scene

Everything is Broken is featured on Indie Crime SceneIf you’re here, there’s a good chance you know all about the book, but give the site a look and discover some new Indie Crime publishers. (and if you haven’t searched “Look Insides” yet, there is an excerpt of Everything…)

While you’re at it also check out http://pegasus-pulp.com. Cora, who runs Indie Crime Scene, also writes pulp!

In other news, Everything is Broken, should be available in print from retailers besides Amazon now. So, you should be able to have your local bookseller order it, your library, and it should begin showing up in the online stores such as BarnesandNoble.com.


The Ballad of Eddie Klepp

Most people are not aware that Jackie Robinson was not the first African-American to play in the Major Leagues. That honor belongs to Moses Fleetwood Walker, who played in the American Association (then considered a Major League) in 1884. Little is written about him, and what his life must have been like. Especially, coming close on the heals of abolition.

Probably even fewer know about Eddie Klepp(sp), the first white man to play in the Negro Leagues. Chuck Brodsky wrote and performed this fantastic song about a man who “should have ran the bases in reverse”:


About a decade ago, I wrote a noir novel about a dead beat dad who hitch-hikes on the run from the law to Key West to watch his son pitch against the Cuban National team. I named that character Eddie Klepp, as a nod to the baseball player.  If the reports are correct and Eddie wasn’t an upstanding citizen, then I got it right in naming my character after him. If I ever find that manuscript on some thumb drive, I may just dust it off and release it.  It’s not as good as Chuck’s story, though, so give it a listen.


My first novel Everything is Broken is available.

In print from Amazon.

Widely available in eBook.


Film Noir Friday – Night and the City (1950)

The Best There Ever Was

Night and the City is the pinnacle of Film Noir. In its infancy the genre took the hardboiled detective genre and plastered it on the silver screen and embellished it with chiaroscuro imagery and precarious camera angles. The Maltese Falcon, as great a film as it is, is not the definitive film noir. It is but a child of what would come to be.

If the “Black Bird” is the toddler of the genre, then Billy Wilder’s “Double Indemnity” is Film Noir come-of-age. It is the fulcrum that teetered Noir in the direction of a definitive genre. I’ve never heard a better definition than a comparison once posited on the Internet somewhere (apologies that I cannot provide proper credit):

Hard-boiled = Tough

Noir = Screwed

To add my own spin on it, Film Noir features a protagonist dropped into a downward spiraling labyrinth (usually of his own doing) lined with razor blades, and with no escape.

Back to Night and the City. The story of Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark), a low-level grifter with dreams of making it big, and his attempt to con his way into London’s professional wrestling scene. Like any good noir, the beauty is knowing that Harry’s plans and actions are all doomed (how could they not be?). But watching Harry’s descent down that downward spiral, as every turn just makes things worse… until, finally, Harry’s realization that he is done/screwed/doomed -> noir, this is the beauty of the film. The fascinating aspect of Noir.


The clip below could be a short film noir. It defines the genre perfectly: