Hot Rod Heart: A Noir Novelette

HotRodFinalFlat

My noir novelette HOT ROD HEART is now available:

Bobby and Karen fit together like two sharp-toothed gears, suping up cars, racing them for pinks, and selling their rods to scrape a living. Then an old friend comes calling, and the jealous, brutal world conspires to tear them apart.

A fierce and fiery chopped & channeled noir tale from the author of the explosive action thriller Blade of Dishonor, and Steel Heart: 10 Tales of Crime & Suspense. (This appeared in slightly different form in Hoods, Hot-Rods, and Hellcats as “Red Hot.”)

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Tolino (aspet, paisan!)

Available now: Hoods, Hot-Rods, and Hellcats

My father used to race his ’53 flathead Ford back in the day, and I built an impressive mythology in my childhood mind after learning that. Part of that went into my entry for Chad Eagleton’s swell collection of ’50s-era crime fiction, Hoods, Hot-Rods, and Hellcats.

My story is called “Red Hot,” novella length hardscrabble blue-collar fiction in the vein of Hubert Selby, Jr. and set in the class struggle of northern New Jersey, between the “Nickie Newarks” and the upscale Bergen county folks across the river, races between super Studebakers and rich boy ‘Vettes, a love story between a mechanic who’s gotten the short end all his life and a woman done bad by her kin rescuing each other until a figure from his past threatens to blow it all apart. It’s one of the stories I’m most proud of, and having it in this excellent collection makes me even prouder.

The only place to get “Red Hot” is in Hoods, Hot-Rods, and Hellcats. Available on Kindle for a mere dollar–a steal if there ever was one–and under seven bones for the beautiful trade paperback. It includes a searing introduction by rock legend Mick Farren, may he rest in peace, and powerful fiction by Chad Eagleton, Matthew Funk, Christopher Grant, David James Keaton, Eric Beetner, Nik Korpon, and Heath Lowrance.

by Scott Kilander
cover by Scott Kilander

Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hell Cats is live!

Chad Eagleton’s anthology of ’50s rockabilly and greaser noir is now live on IndieGogo.

I’m proud to be part of HOODS, HOT RODS AND HELL CATS, with my long short story “Red Hot,” about a  hot rod mechanic who has more woman than he can handle. Lovingly researched, you could call it “birth of a hellcat,” and it’s one of my most personal stories yet.

With an introduction by rock ‘n roll legend Mick Farren and stories by Eric BeetnerChad EagletonMatthew FunkChristopher GrantHeath LowranceDavid James KeatonNik Korpon, and myself, you get a spectrum of the post-war experience without the veneer of nostalgia and mythology, a deeply human look at an era of social upheaval.

HHH mock up preview

Chad has put together some great rewards to go along with these stories, including an original rockabilly tune, cheesecake pin-up art, art posters, and switchblade combs to slick your hair with butch wax. The e-book was designed by Jaye Manus, who truly turns the format into an art form that not only mimics print but exceeds its limitations. A print edition is also available to grace your shelves.

photo by StyleNoise
photo by StyleNoise

“Red Hot” is a gripping tale of desperate love between two broken people, a man with a knack for tweaking the best out of an engine and the worst out of himself, and a woman on the brink of discovery of her formidable powers. Corvettes and supercharged Silver Hawks and the chopped and channeled Detroit iron that roared brave souls to freedom, and a side of World War 2 we rarely hear of.

If you want a taste, fund Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hell Cats. If you can’t- please go to the IndieGogo page and share the campaign with your friends, and help spread the word.

Thank you.

Coming Soon… Hoods, Hotrods & Hellcats!

by Scott Kilander
by Scott Kilander

 

My story, “Red Hot,” will appear in this hip shindig… and I mean “Red Hot” as in Billy Lee Riley. ’50s hotrodders, biker war vets, and one fierce red hot hellcat.

“…the world of Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats is a dirty cocktail of fact, fable, fears, and fantasies. The 1950s are recreated one more time but here it’s with a savage, razor-honed edge you’ll never find in Grease, Happy Days, or American Graffitti.” –From the Introduction by Mick Farren

Featuring brand new fiction from Eric Beetner, Chad Eagleton, Matthew Funk, Christopher Grant, David James Keaton, Nik Korpon, Heath Lowrance, and Thomas Pluck.

The Vikings

In memory of Tony Curtis, whose obnoxious New York accent pissed off snobs and critics everywhere, I bring you one of Hollywood’s best sword and sandal epics: THE VIKINGS!

Played for pulp, starring Kirk Douglas as a brutish warrior and Tony Curtis as his secret half brother, both sons of the rapacious Ragnar, played by none other than Ernest Borgnine. It’s one of those melodramatic sagas, so let me lay out the plot for you: Ragnar was raiding the English coast one day, when he slew the king of Northumbria and raped his queen. When the king’s slovenly brother took the crown, the queen learned she was with child, and fled to exile, since kings have a nasty habit of chopping up babies who are the rightful heir, and all that. Her son Eric grows up to be Tony Curtis, Bronx accent and all, but he is enslaved by the Vikings. Ragnar’s other son is the prodigal Einar, the paragon of all things Viking, the eye patched and ripped Kirk Douglas, who’s always got a throwing axe in one hand and a flagon in the other.

One of the most memorable scenes is when the one-eyed Einar plays a drunken axe-throwing game, trying to cut the locks off a slave girl’s hair. While the Vikings are portrayed as cartoonish brutes, they certainly don’t play down the pillaging and brutality too much. The Britons want revenge, and eventually Ragnar is captured and thrown into a pit of ravenous wolves. But his unknowing son throws him a sword, so he may die like a Viking and go to Valhalla. This puts Tony Curtis on the British shit list, so he flees, and eventually teams up with Einar, as they both want to kill a bunch of Englishmen and get their grubby mitts on Princess Morgana, played by the lovely Janet Leigh. Curtis and Leigh were married in real life, so you can guess that Kirk doesn’t get to show her his other little one-eyed Viking. But not for lack of trying!

The movie has many fun battle sequences, campy though some are. I love any movie where Ernest Borgnine gets to put on that maniacal smile of his and galumph around with a sword, guzzling ale and cackling with glee. As I am one of the great apes, barely shorn, I cannot empathize with Kirk and Tony, who even in their prime, I could use as weights in my gym. So I like seeing a big burly brute like myself get to cavort on screen, even if he ends up as wolf chow. The dialogue is peppered with delightful purple prose, like “Love and hate are two horns on the same goat,” and “Look how he glares at me… If he wasn’t fathered by the black ram in the full of the moon my name is not Ragnar!”

So sure, this is far from historically accurate, and is cheesy in a way only old Hollywood could make it, but it’s still a lot of fun to see Kirk, Tony, Ernest and Janet in a costume epic with bloody battles, campy drinking games, and bawdy dialogue. In memoriam to the great Tony Curtis, watch THE VIKINGS! Thanks to my pal Keith over at Coolness is Timeless for posting the youtube clip.

© 2010 Tommy Salami

lonely witches, superdouche and the alien menace

Bell Book and Candle

Are you a good witch or a bad witch? Jimmy Stewart himself says he was miscast in this film and I think he was right; Cary Grant wanted the part and should have gotten it. Sexy Kim Novak plays Gillian, a lonely witch cavorting in Greenwich Village with her brother Nicky (Jack Lemmon) and Aunt Queenie (Elsa Lanchester), toying with mortals when she’s not running her primitive art gallery. She’s got her eye on neighbor Shep Henderson (Stewart), a publisher. She’s been unlucky in love and she’s not getting any younger, so she casts a love spell on him one night after she catches him with an old college enemy of hers at a jazz club.
But as these stories go, she begins falling in love with him herself, which of course makes her lose her powers. The love story doesn’t have much energy; this was Jimmy’s last role as romantic lead and he chose wisely. He’s only 50 but didn’t age well, and turned to Westerns instead, giving us many memorable roles as in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Kim Novak was half his age and is done up to look older, but the chemistry just isn’t there. Who’s fun to watch? Jack Lemmon as her mischevious warlock brother, whether he’s turning off streetlamps, taunting Shep’s date with a trumpet, or lingering in the background with devilish eyes. Pyewacket, Gil’s Siamese cat, ended up being a bit of a scene stealer. This beautifully filmed story doesn’t hold a bell, book or a candle to René Clair’s I Married a Witch (1942) with Fredric March and Veronica Lake- who hated each other! It’s very pretty to look at, a colorful costumes against the backdrop of New York in the snow, but it wasn’t very memorable for me.

Rating: Enh.

Hancock

Admittedly I didn’t watch this from the very beginning, and only got into it once Justin Bateman showed up to give super-hobo Will Smith some good PR for saving his kid. Some spectacularly lazy writing and a story that felt slapped together by committee, the movie was saved for me by Cherlize Theron- who showed the boys how to act in this one, despite her tacked-on storyline- and Eddie Marsan, the psychotic driving instructor from Happy-Go-Lucky (full review) who’s excellent again here as a vengeful and unlucky leader of a bank heist. Oh, it’s not horrible, and makes for decent lazy cable viewing because it’s fun watching Hancock be an asshole (sssh!!). But Smith doesn’t try too hard here; he’s sort of the black Ahnold, really. He seems too interested in keeping his cash register screen persona intact than creating an interesting character. Grow a pair, you millionaire, and show us what we know you can do.

Rating: Stinky

Torchwood: Children of Earth

One day, children all over the world go into a brief trance. They stop in the middle of the street. They stare into space. And eventually, they recite “We. Are. Coming.” Luckily the supernatural defense squad of Torchwood is there to figure out just what the hell is going on. This is 5 episodes of season three of the BBC “X-Files”-alike Dr. Who spinoff, “Torchwood.” I heard good things, and I was not disappointed. I’d only watched a few standalone episodes and wasn’t impressed, but this was quite well done and you can waltz right in without knowing the backstory, and if you give it your attention you’ll be well rewarded.
The children are being used as a broadcast of sorts by an alien race called the 456, monstrous arachnid creatures who breathe a poisonous atmosphere and possess technology that like Arthur C. Clarke said, is indistinguishable from magic to our less developed civilization. They send instructions for us to build a sealed chamber filled with acidic, poison gas for their ambassador, who arrives with a demand: ten percent of the world’s children, or the human race will be exterminated. Intermingled with this is a government plot to interfere with Torchwood and its plucky leader, Captain Jack Harkness. He’s full of surprises, and I won’t explain his backstory to you. It was well revealed in this 5 hour mini-series.
This is some of the best science fiction TV I’ve watched since the X-Files left the air, and I didn’t regret spending 5 hours on it. We’ll see how the government deals with such a request from a realistic point of view; we want to die fighting such a menace, especially once it’s revealed why they want the children- these ain’t the aliens from Close Encounters of the Third Kind– but we get the dark, cynical reality of what would actually happen. I think this would be a great entry for newcomers to the series, and it is currently available on DVD. You’ll get a good amount of action and a “24” meets “X-Files” feel to things, with strong characters such as Captain Jack Harkness, Gwen Cooper and the rest of the Torchwood crew. I liked how the show was handled, adult and realistic, but leaving plenty of room for escapist fantasy and good ol’ action and explosions.

Rating: Tasty