Sunday, 06 February 2011 10:12
alt"Dying is easy, comedy is hard."

That quote has been around for decades, maybe even centuries. Yet no one seems to agree on who actually said it.
Aside from being a line said by Peter O’Toole in the movie My Favorite Year, that line also has been attributed to Edmund Kean, Edmund Gwenn, and Donald Crisp. It could also be one of those phrases that no one said but has become part of our lexicon.

What is true, though, is comedy is hard.

Finding the mesh of humor to appeal to a wide range of people isn't easy. Each of us has a different sensibility. What's funny to me, may not be funny to you. And visa versa.

Comedy is even harder in mysteries.

I've been thinking a lot about humor in mysteries after just finishing Tim Dorsey's recent novel, Electric Barracuda. Dorsey is the Three Stooges of the mystery world, mixing slapstick, politically incorrect humor and wild escapades into what could be called a novel. The plots are outlandish and the characters unbelievable.
Yet for me, they work.

Still, Dorsey's humor isn't for everyone and that's all right.

The mystery genre is blessed with a number of very funny mystery writers. What makes these novels work is the fact that the authors take care to keep the seriousness of the murder serious but find the humor in the absurd behavior of people.

I like different kinds of humor.
Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series never fails to make me laugh. Yeah, the plots are the same and Stephanie is still the same person she was when Evanovich began that series with One for the Money. The latest is Sizzling Sixteen and I hope Evanvich can keep that series going for another 16 novels.

Donna Andrews, Elaine Viets and Nancy Martin write funny. Paul Levine also writes funny with his Solomon vs Lord series. And let's also add in Toni Kelner and Steven Forman. Harlan Coben has that perfect mix of humor and seriousness with his Myron Bolitar series.

I know I am forgetting some very funny writers. Who are your favorites?
Laughing With Tim Dorsey, Others
Oline Cogdill
laughing-with-tim-dorsey-others
alt"Dying is easy, comedy is hard."

That quote has been around for decades, maybe even centuries. Yet no one seems to agree on who actually said it.
Aside from being a line said by Peter O’Toole in the movie My Favorite Year, that line also has been attributed to Edmund Kean, Edmund Gwenn, and Donald Crisp. It could also be one of those phrases that no one said but has become part of our lexicon.

What is true, though, is comedy is hard.

Finding the mesh of humor to appeal to a wide range of people isn't easy. Each of us has a different sensibility. What's funny to me, may not be funny to you. And visa versa.

Comedy is even harder in mysteries.

I've been thinking a lot about humor in mysteries after just finishing Tim Dorsey's recent novel, Electric Barracuda. Dorsey is the Three Stooges of the mystery world, mixing slapstick, politically incorrect humor and wild escapades into what could be called a novel. The plots are outlandish and the characters unbelievable.
Yet for me, they work.

Still, Dorsey's humor isn't for everyone and that's all right.

The mystery genre is blessed with a number of very funny mystery writers. What makes these novels work is the fact that the authors take care to keep the seriousness of the murder serious but find the humor in the absurd behavior of people.

I like different kinds of humor.
Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series never fails to make me laugh. Yeah, the plots are the same and Stephanie is still the same person she was when Evanovich began that series with One for the Money. The latest is Sizzling Sixteen and I hope Evanvich can keep that series going for another 16 novels.

Donna Andrews, Elaine Viets and Nancy Martin write funny. Paul Levine also writes funny with his Solomon vs Lord series. And let's also add in Toni Kelner and Steven Forman. Harlan Coben has that perfect mix of humor and seriousness with his Myron Bolitar series.

I know I am forgetting some very funny writers. Who are your favorites?
Wednesday, 02 February 2011 10:33
If you are like most people who are house bound because of the cold weather or tired of shoveling snow, then you are proaltbably dreaming of warmer weather.

Well, we know that isn't going to happen for a least a month or so.
And pay no attention to the fact that I live in Florida -- the only state that has not had snow this winter. Not that we are bragging or anything.

So here's something to warm you up -- the Hawaii Five-0 series, which airs 9 p.m. CST, 10 p.m. EST Mondays on CBS.

Just watching those warm waters, lovely beaches and sunshine will make you put on your swim suit now...of course, that would look a little silly with your hat, gloves, scarf and coat.

And because we all do need a bit of silliness sometimes, here's a comment and a song about Hawaii Five-0.
Hal Glatzer, author of Too Dead to Swing: It's good to have Hawaii 5-0 back again. The plots are still outlandish - real local crime is rather mundane - but the leading characters now are younger and more likely to crack wise; and as TV cop shows go, they have more "realistic" backstories. The producers kept Morton Stevens’ hard-driving theme music; so I did little Internet research and discovered that there are lyrics to it.
All together now . . . .
If you're feelin' lonely / You can come with me.
Feel my arms around you / Lay beside the sea.
We will think of somethin' to do.
Do it till it's perfect for you / And for me too.
You can come with me.
Who knew there were lyrics to that song! Thanks, Hal.
Photo: Scott Caan as Danny "Danno" Williams and Alex O'Loughlin as Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-0. CBS photo
Hawaii Five-0 Sing Along
Oline Cogdill
hawaii-five-0-sing-along
If you are like most people who are house bound because of the cold weather or tired of shoveling snow, then you are proaltbably dreaming of warmer weather.

Well, we know that isn't going to happen for a least a month or so.
And pay no attention to the fact that I live in Florida -- the only state that has not had snow this winter. Not that we are bragging or anything.

So here's something to warm you up -- the Hawaii Five-0 series, which airs 9 p.m. CST, 10 p.m. EST Mondays on CBS.

Just watching those warm waters, lovely beaches and sunshine will make you put on your swim suit now...of course, that would look a little silly with your hat, gloves, scarf and coat.

And because we all do need a bit of silliness sometimes, here's a comment and a song about Hawaii Five-0.
Hal Glatzer, author of Too Dead to Swing: It's good to have Hawaii 5-0 back again. The plots are still outlandish - real local crime is rather mundane - but the leading characters now are younger and more likely to crack wise; and as TV cop shows go, they have more "realistic" backstories. The producers kept Morton Stevens’ hard-driving theme music; so I did little Internet research and discovered that there are lyrics to it.
All together now . . . .
If you're feelin' lonely / You can come with me.
Feel my arms around you / Lay beside the sea.
We will think of somethin' to do.
Do it till it's perfect for you / And for me too.
You can come with me.
Who knew there were lyrics to that song! Thanks, Hal.
Photo: Scott Caan as Danny "Danno" Williams and Alex O'Loughlin as Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-0. CBS photo
Sunday, 30 January 2011 16:01
altAs a movie buff, I am always interested in the Oscars. I can't help it, but I will watch the Academy Awards presentations every year, no matter how absurd or guady the show is.
As a mystery reader, I am most interested in the four nominations garnered by Winter's Bone. Winter's Bone has been nominated for best picture, best adapted screenplay, best supporting actress for Jennifer Lawrence and best supporting actor for John Hawkes.
I hope the attention to this small, lovely film brings more attention to its source material -- the novel by Daniel Woodrell.
Woodrell often has been called the "poet of the Ozarks," which fits. Woodrell writes about an area seldom shown in fiction -- the Missouri Ozarks. His characters are poor with hard-scrabble lives where violence, dysfunction and homemade drugs often enter the picture. His novels also are filled with hope and show how people can overcome anything.
Woodrell also is a beautiful writer whose prose is indeed akin to poetry.
Tomato Red, his sixth novel, won the 1999 PEN USA award for Fiction, and his second novel, Woe To Live On, was adapted for the 1999 film Ride with the Devil, directed by Ang Lee.
One of my favorite Woodrell novel is The Death of Sweet Mister, an uncomfortable look at a young mother, her brutal boyfriends and her impressionable son.
See the film, but also read the novels
Photo: Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone.
Daniel Woodrell's Oscar Nod
Oline Cogdill
daniel-woodrells-oscar-nod
altAs a movie buff, I am always interested in the Oscars. I can't help it, but I will watch the Academy Awards presentations every year, no matter how absurd or guady the show is.
As a mystery reader, I am most interested in the four nominations garnered by Winter's Bone. Winter's Bone has been nominated for best picture, best adapted screenplay, best supporting actress for Jennifer Lawrence and best supporting actor for John Hawkes.
I hope the attention to this small, lovely film brings more attention to its source material -- the novel by Daniel Woodrell.
Woodrell often has been called the "poet of the Ozarks," which fits. Woodrell writes about an area seldom shown in fiction -- the Missouri Ozarks. His characters are poor with hard-scrabble lives where violence, dysfunction and homemade drugs often enter the picture. His novels also are filled with hope and show how people can overcome anything.
Woodrell also is a beautiful writer whose prose is indeed akin to poetry.
Tomato Red, his sixth novel, won the 1999 PEN USA award for Fiction, and his second novel, Woe To Live On, was adapted for the 1999 film Ride with the Devil, directed by Ang Lee.
One of my favorite Woodrell novel is The Death of Sweet Mister, an uncomfortable look at a young mother, her brutal boyfriends and her impressionable son.
See the film, but also read the novels
Photo: Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone.