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Klavan On The Culture

Monthly Archives: September 2013

Crazy & Nightmare Both on Sale

September 30th, 2013 - 5:29 am

My YA thriller Crazy Dangerous just went on sale for $3.99 in all ebook formats. This is the one about a preacher’s son who befriends a girl sinking into schizophrenia — then begins to suspect her hallucinations are actually prophecies of an oncoming disaster.

You can also still pre-order Nightmare City, likewise for $3.99 in all ebook formats. It’s the story of a young man who wakes up to find his hometown empty — except for the voices of the dead and strange shadows moving in the fog. That one is published in about a month.

Get em while they’re cheap!

CNN Translates Obama’s Phone Call with Rouhani

September 28th, 2013 - 1:20 pm

As you may know, CNN has been in a bit of a tussle with the Wall Street Journal after the Journal told the truth about a story on the news network when CNN would have preferred to distort the facts. Leftist British-Iranian journalist Christiane Amanpour interviewed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last week and, relying on Rouhani’s translator, made the president of the Jew-hating and Holocaust-denying Iranian government sound so incredibly “moderate” that he actually acknowledged the Holocaust occurred and might not have been such a good idea. An Iranian news agency — okay, that’s an oxymoron, but the Journal says they double-checked — said no, not to worry, the actual translation shows that the Iranian president is still an anti-semitic dirtball and wants to pretend the slaughter of six million Jews is a myth. Whew.

Fortunately, Ms. Amanpour hasn’t lost her job any more than Candy “Creepy” Crowley did when she used fabricated information to defend Barack Obama during a debate. But just in case, Amanpour has taken on a part-time gig translating the phone call between Obama and Rouhani in which they discussed the possibility of negotiating between the two countries over Iran’s program to build nuclear weapons. Ms Amanpour provides the translation below, with the actual translation following.

President Obama:  Hello.

President Rouhani:  [Amanpour's Translation:] Good to speak with you.  [Actual Translation:] Burn in hell, western scum.

President Obama: I’m glad for this opportunity to personally express my concern over your program to build nuclear weapons.

President Rouhani [Amanpour's Translation:] I too am glad we can talk.  [Actual Translation:] I too am glad we can talk while we finish building our nuclear weapons.

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The Holy War at Home

September 23rd, 2013 - 7:47 pm


It’s hard for me to believe there is anyone who calls himself a God-fearing, red-blooded American patriot who hasn’t read my novel Empire of Lies, but just in case: there’s a scene toward the end where the protagonist is interviewed on TV about Islamic terrorism — and makes the mistake of speaking plainly. He wonders aloud if maybe we are not engaged in a holy war to determine which image of God will win out. Of course, all politically correct hell breaks loose and he becomes a social pariah.

I remembered this scene this past week when it very much seemed to me that two of the sides in this holy war each opened fire in its own particular way. On the one hand, the Islamists slaughtered Christians and others in Pakistan and Kenya. On the other, the new pope gave an interview in which he expressed a fresh and beautiful vision of God’s merciful love for his human creation. Hey, from each according to his philosophy, as Karl Marx might have said if he had been right about anything.

Almost equally interesting was the reaction of the western media to these events: they did everything they could to mis-represent them both in context and in themselves. According to the Media Research Center, major media tied themselves in knots to keep from conveying the news that the attacks in a Nairobi mall and a Peshawar church were the work of Islamists. Journalists know that religion may be criticized as a retrograde and violent force in the world, but when a religion is criticized it can only be Christianity. That’s a central tenet of the journalistic religion! Which is Stupidity.

As for the Pope Francis interview, in a headline that looked as if the MSM were doing a satire of themselves, the New York Times, a satire of itself, announced dishonestly, “Pope Says Church Is Obsessed With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control.” Like, yeah, that’s what the pope really said. We believe you, New York Times. Cause you so smart. Idiots.

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Haunting Melissa Up for Appster

September 20th, 2013 - 5:57 am

Well, this makes me appy!  The hipsters at the Appsters have nominated Haunting Melissa for an Appster award as Best Entertainment App of the year. The awards are given out at a gala in London, October 22nd. All props to producer Neal Edelstein who created this original method of delivering a filmed ghost story to your i-device — and even some props to me who wrote the script for it. It’s really a brilliant new way to tell an old-fashioned tale of terror. Take a look at the trailer:

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Oh, and here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how we created the special effect of a mysteriously rattling doorknob:


If you haven’t downloaded Haunting Melissa yet, you really are missing out — do it here. The app — and the first few episodes — are free. After that, it’s some three hours of spooky content for much less than a movie. Very good stuff. And personally, I’m betting this Appster nomination is the first of many.

When Good Films Go Bad: Now You See Me

September 18th, 2013 - 12:00 pm

Interestingly enough, this film gets a 70% positive rating from viewers on Rotten Tomatoes, even though it only gets a 50% from critics — and if you only counted the best critics, I’m pretty sure the rating would be much lower. The critics’ beef: it doesn’t make sense. The audience reply: Hey, shut up, it’s entertaining.

Normally, I’m pretty solidly with the audience on these things — especially because so often a perceived slight to left wing orthodoxy can lower a movie in the small minds of many highly placed reviewers. Make a film that doesn’t celebrate abortion, or that honors the military, or suggests that the U.S. got it right somewhere along the line, and you’re pretty much screwed at the New York Times, the New Yorker, the New Republic and all the other old-poop places that call themselves new.

In this case, however, I think the critics get it right on purely aesthetic grounds. The first thirty minutes of Now You See Me just rock. They are so clever, so entertaining, so fast, so attractive that you are on board for the ride almost from the first moment…  and then someone somewhere in the film-making hierarchy made a bad decision. Really bad. And the film goes into a graveyard spin.

The movie centers around four con-men-cum-magicians who are brought together by a mysterious fifth in order to perform high profile robberies that can’t be solved by the police even if they’re watching them at the time. You can’t get much more entertaining than that. The cast is full of talented and familiar faces and the four magician leads, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco, are charming and energetic enough to pull the whole thing off. The relationships are interesting. The stunts are fun. Does it make perfect sense? No, but really, who cares? It’s fast, thrilling and it could sort of happen. Sort of.

That’s the first thirty minutes. But then, someone had the bright idea that the focus of the movie shouldn’t be our four young stars and their original characters and dynamic relationships. No, the focus of the movie should be the mis-matched male-female pair of investigators who are going after them. Because we’ve never seen that before! No offense to Mark Ruffalo and Melanie Laurent who get caught playing this tired cinematic trope. They do the best they can. But who on earth decided to ditch the fascinating magicians for these two old-school characters? After they become the center of the film, it’s kind of a yawn fest and the fact that it makes no sense becomes annoying.

Anyway, great for half an hour, mild fun throughout. But it could’ve been terrific all the way and it hurts to see it miss the target.


A Close Study of Putin’s Op-Ed

September 15th, 2013 - 12:28 pm

At first when I heard that former Communist KGB thug and current untrustworthy president of Russia thug Vladimir Putin had written an op-ed for the New York Times, it sounded like the answer to a riddle. “If Paul Krugman writes for the op-ed page of the New York Times, and Maureen Dowd writes for the op-ed page of the New York Times, who else would be likely to write for the op-ed page of the New York Times?” But once I had a chance to study what Putin actually said about President Obama’s recent foreign policy initiative in Syria, I felt it was worth taking a close and serious look at what the Russian had to say.

The first paragraph establishes his subject with remarkable clarity:

Dosvedanya, Suckers! Who-dat just pwned the President of the oh-so-exceptional United States? That’s right, you Yankee Doodle Dandies! Me, that’s who! Hey, Uh-O-Obama, who’s your Daddy? Vladdy your Daddy! Boom! Ouch, that was the sound of the leader of the free world having himself Bee-yatch Slapped big time! It is Assad day for U.S. prestige. Get it? Assad. A – sad! Yowzah!

After thus setting the tone for future relations between Russia’s president and ours, Putin goes on to address more directly the context of our international standing in the age of Obama:

Yo, American Bee-yatches! Remember the movie Carrie? How, like, this whole burning house fell down on top of her head and everyone thought she was dead and buried and then suddenly — frang!!! — her hand comes rocketing out the grave and grabs you by the leg and you’re all, like, “Yaaaaa!” Okay. Now, remember the Cold War and how you were all, like, “We won the Cold War! USA! USA!” and we were all, like, “Boo-hoo, turns out Communism wasn’t such a great idea after all.” Well, guess what? Frang!!!!  Now you’ve got the Marxist leader and we’re all, like, “I reach out of the grave and grab your leg, Charlie!” Should’ve stuck with the whole Reagan small government, big army thing, but no-o-o-o-o! Who’s sorry now? That’s the song I’m singing!

And finally, in a magnanimous gesture, the Russian president concludes with a paragraph of reconciliation:

Seriously, though, once he wipes the egg off his face, President Obama and I have a great deal in common. I don’t believe in American exceptionalism and neither does he. I want U.S. foreign policy hamstrung by the circus of petty tyrants that is the United Nations and so does he. I benefit from having a Russian-backed murderous strong man retain power in Syria while the humiliation of the American president reduces his influence in the region to zero and…  oops!  I guess I have one on you there! Rim-shot! So long, schmuckovites!

All in all, a thoughtful essay that, properly seen, helps us understand Obama’s foreign policy as it is seen by the rest of the world.

Review: The Iceman

September 13th, 2013 - 6:02 am
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When I first saw the interviews with Richard Kuklinski released under the name “The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Hitman,” I was struck by the fact that the killer worked hard to depict himself as a cold-blooded professional when it was obvious he was, in fact, a rage-filled psychopath wracked with hellish inner agony. That insight, in fact, went into my creation of the Shadowman, the hit man in my Weiss and Bishop trilogy of detective novels.

One of the many things I really liked about this fictionalized film of Kuklinski’s story, The Iceman, is that the excellent Michael Shannon depicts Kuklinski exactly so: as a man who is motivated by an anger so tormenting he can’t even allow himself to feel it.

It’s Shannon and the rest of the fantastic cast that make this movie tick. The perfect Winona Ryder,  Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, my outrageously talented pal Robert Davi, David Schwimmer, and even James Franco in a cameo — they’re all not only spectacular but weirdly fun to watch in what otherwise might have been a somewhat grim and plodding story. It’s not that the script is bad, it’s just that the story doesn’t have that many different or original places to go so it depends on its actors to create fascinating characters of depth, complexity and even humor in a very small space.

If you enjoy gritty crime drama, this is the stuff. Not a classic by any means, but a nice, solid addition to the genre.

Why so Syria’s? Try Evan Sayet Instead

September 12th, 2013 - 5:55 am

Sure I know, watching Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East has been as hilarious as a Three Stooges movies set in a nuclear bomb factory. In fact, who needs Moe, Larry and Curly when you have O, Kerry and Squirelly Joe, whose knee-slapping hi-jinks have cost America every ounce of credibility it had, nyuk, nyuk, nyuk?

Long Beach Sept 22 IIII

On the other hand, if you REALLY want a couple of laughs, there’s my pal Evan Sayet, who will be bringing an Afternoon of Conservative Comedy to the Laugh Factory in Long Beach, Sunday, September 22nd. Doors open at 3PM for a show that starts at 4PM sharp. The address to feed into your GPS is 151 S. Pine Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802.

I would say that Evan is the Bill Maher of the right. Except that he’s funny. And a decent human being. And also funny. But he is a political comic with a sharp edge and even a deep insight or two into the whys and wherefores of our current catastrophe.

Anyway, as I say, I know there are laughs a-plenty to have just watching the news media twist themselves in knots trying to make our knucklehead president look competent. But Evan’ll kill you… whereas Obama could get you killed. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one!


Where O Means Offense and Gore Means Frank

September 9th, 2013 - 5:35 am

That’s not nice!

There are some things in life we are supposed to care about but just don’t — like, for example, women’s sports and men’s emotions. And leftists, in their constant attempt to turn the world into what they think it ought to be instead of what it jolly well is, always seem to be working overtime to strip the world of things we actually do care about (Men’s sports? Women’s emotions?) and fill it with ostensibly-worthy-but-undoubtedly-boring crap.

So many on the right see a Nanny State plot in the recent move to make football safer. And I have to confess, whenever I hear someone whining about the dangers of the sport, I imagine Green Bay’s hulking linebacker Clay Matthews showing up at the whiner’s house and pounding him into the carpet. Well, hey, I can dream, can’t I?

But all that said, I’m so delighted the season’s back! Whatever the Nannies are planning, the game still looks like the game as far as I can tell. And speaking of Clay Matthews, that chop he delivered to Colin Kaepernick’s throat after the QB had run out of bounds looked pretty old school. So it’s all good.

Anyway, I know the left ruins everything and turns everything into politics and has to be guarded against constantly and stopped whenever they want anything at all even if, like a stopped clock, they are occasionally right about something (maybe). But with our economy in a shambles and our foreign policy an embarrassment, it’s just great to forget the whole thing for a couple of hours and return to the world where O means Offense and Gore means Frank.

Unfortunately, Frank didn’t make many of his amazing runs in the season opener. But maybe we should chalk that up to global warming.


September 6th, 2013 - 6:07 am

I’m thinking of carrying Wall Street Journal economic writer Stephen Moore’s latest column in my pocket. Then when leftists tell me about “equality,” and “income disparity,” I can take it out, roll it up, and beat them across the nose with it shouting, “What did you do? What did you do?” Asking them to read it would probably be a waste of time.

The point of the piece is that “those who were most likely to vote for Barack Obama in 2012 were members of demographic groups most likely to have suffered the steepest income declines,” since he took office. Which is to say that young people, single women, those with only a high school diploma or less, blacks and Hispanics have all gotten the business end of the O shaft.

Steve writes with great clarity so there’s no point in my rephrasing him. Read this:

According to the Sentier research, households headed by single women, with and without children present, saw their incomes fall by roughly 7%. Those under age 25 experienced an income decline of 9.6%. Black heads of households saw their income tumble by 10.9%, while Hispanic heads-of-households’ income fell 4.5%, slightly more than the national average. The incomes of workers with a high-school diploma or less fell by about 8% (-6.9% for those with less than a high-school diploma and -9.3% for those with only a high-school diploma).

To put that into dollar terms, in the four years between the time the Obama recovery began in June 2009 and June of this year, median black household income fell by just over $4,000, Hispanic households lost $2,000 and female-headed households lost $2,300.

The unemployment numbers show pretty much the same pattern. July’s Bureau of Labor Statistics data (the most recent available) show a national unemployment rate of 7.4%. The highest jobless rates by far are for key components of the Obama voter bloc: blacks (12.6%), Hispanics (9.4%), those with less than a high-school diploma (11%) and teens (23.7%).

This is a stunning reversal of the progress for these groups during the expansions of the 1980s and 1990s, and even through the start of the 2008 recession. Census data reveal that from 1981-2008 the biggest income gains were for black women, 81%; followed by white women, 67%; followed by black men, 31%; and white males at 8%.

In other words, the gender and racial income gaps shrank by more than in any period in American history during the Reagan boom of the 1980s and the Clinton boom of the 1990s. Women and blacks continued to make economic progress during the mini-Bush expansion from 2002-07. “Income inequality” has been exacerbated during the Obama era.

The whole gobsmacking thing is here.

People like me tend to make esoteric arguments for the free market — private property is the basis of freedom, equality is the trait of slaves and so on. But it is also true that, with light, smart regulation, free markets work better than anything else. For those blacks, Hispanics, young people and single women who were convinced otherwise? Wakey-wakey, sweethearts. You’ve been had.