odds and ends

I must be honest and tell you folks this has not been the most illuminating week of teaching I’ve ever executed. I spent three of the last five work days administering a standardized test… and the last two days were my classes playing catch up. I don’t hold out great hope for next week either, which features a day given to taking the 9th grade for hearing and vision screenings, to say nothing of the craziness of Homecoming. Hopefully I can squeeze in a lesson or two at some point before October.

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I thought this was interesting. FOX is trying to figure out a way to make an all Simpsons cable channel, somewhere down the line.

I don’t know if something like this is likely, or just an idea that FOX executives are kicking around. I will say it make me think about the current state of Simpsons syndication, which absolutely annoys the hell out of me. I don’t know what the syndication package looks like when it’s offered around, but there are over 400 episodes of The Simpsons right now. That’s more than enough to air one Simpsons episode a night for a year and never have any repeats. Yet, for some reason, our local FOX affiliate seems dedicated to airing only episodes from the last two or three seasons.

I understand the reasons why this might be done… the older episodes probably don’t look as good on HD TVs, they’ve already been aired a million times, DVD sales and whatnot… I get all that. Still, it seems like SUCH a wasted opportunity… especially going into October. At this point, you could air almost a full MONTH of Treehouse of Horror episodes for Halloween!

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I was excited to read that Hard Case Crime, the beautifully presented crime paperback series, will be returning to stores this week with four new books. HCC’s book designs are top shelf, featuring  all the hyperbolic copy and lurid artwork that defined the genre for many years.

Although crime fiction has gone somewhat upscale, these books are fondly fashioned to resemble the genre’s paperback heyday. I was a little concerned when I began to see some of the Hard Case paperbacks show up remaindered in our local Big Lots, but it looks as though this was just a temporary setback on the part of publisher Charles Ardai.

I am guessing the most popular (or at least, the most well known) Hard Case Crime paperback was a one-off that Stephen King did called The Colorado Kid.

I wasn’t a tremendous fan of that book, but Hard Case has gone out of its’ way to publish a ton of new authors as well as some genuine classics from Donald E. Westlake, Lawrence Block, and Mickey Spillaine. If I had to pick a favorite book out of the series though… if I had to pick just one of these for you to sample… I would choose The Last Quarry by Max Allan Collins.

Quarry (the protagonist’s nom de plume) is sort of a blue collar hitman. Collins fashions him as a no-nonsense guy who just wants to do his job and get paid… and in The Last Quarry, he doesn’t even really want to do that. He’s semi-retired. I imagine that the Quarry series found some new life through Hard Case Crime; Collins had penned several stories featuring the character over the years, but did several full-length books through HCC with the character, working backwards from The Last Quarry to The First Quarry onto Quarry in the Middle… and now HCC’s releasing Quarry’s Ex this month!

Worth reading. They’re great, trashy fun.

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