Is photography still a good way to get girls?


I’m often asked that question by aspiring young photographers fresh out of community college. Armed with a diploma, digital camera, reflectors, and a tripod, these young men are  aburst with enthusiasm, chomping at the bits to make a splash in the glamour biz.

The short answer is no.

Today everyone carries a camera so it’s hard to tell the Steichens from the Nikon-toting psychos. Actually the former always carry a Model Release. Worst of all, professional photographers are often mistaken for tourists and women are not (repeat are not)  attracted to tourists.

TIP: never wear a camera strapped around your neck. Doesn’t matter how expensive it is, you look like an idiot. Sling it over your shoulder and keep your head down.

High quality reading


Glamour photography (a.k.a. Galmour)  has a rich history. In 1826 Charles and Vincent Chevalier created the world’s first “babe-magnet,” a wooden box capable of preserving cheesecake. The camera became so popular with bachelors that mass production was invented. Then came the legendary classic TV show, Love That Bob, which drew thousands of untalented males into the profession. Finally, in 1966, Michelangelo Antonioni ‘s art film Blow-Up appeared and the rest is, well, Wikipedia.


As a child I ogled the babes posing for Bob Cummings. Sometimes I mistook “Uncle Bob” for my father. (My uncle’s name was Bob, too, small world.) My dad was a professional photographer who did his share of fashion. I devoted more time browsing through model books than reading the Hardy Boys. Guess my path in life was set in stone. (You’d have to be stoned to set out on that path.) I’ll have plenty more to say on this subject, but will save it for future posts. In the meantime here’s a nostalgic vid.

Reprint Covers I’d Like to See (#2)


This bugger has been through about 26 printings since it first reared its ugly head  in 1996.  And—sheesh—the cheapskates at Dover Publications haven’t bothered to update the original cover. This was the only book I ever sold in a flat (no royalties) deal, and what a mistake. They made a bundle despite practically giving it away. Well, at least with my updated cover design above the book has the originally intended title. (The editor thought  he was being clever and called it Bewildering Beasties. Alliteration, get it?)  I kept the colors kind of nauseating so it still looks like a Dover book—why mess with success?—but it’s available for reprint to the highest bidder.

On second thought make that the highest blogger.

Technorati Tags:

Little Red Roadster (Reprint Covers I’d Like to See #1)

If there are any publishers out there looking to buy some cheap reprint rights, you’ve come to the right blog. I have several dozen out of print titles you’ll want to consider. Hell, I’ll even forgo royalties for a reasonable buy-out fee. Face it, the market is death valley and you can’t afford to hand out those nice fat advances for books that wind up selling 400 copies. At least some of my books earned back the advance, which is more than you can say for Joyce Carol Oates. Anyhow, I’ve been updating the cover designs on some of my classics. Here’s a fresh do-over for The Little Red Book of Adobe LiveMotion.

cover art by Derek Pell

You can even change the title to The Little Red Book of SWiSHminimax 2. Sounds sporty.

Technorati Tags:


Donald Westlake, R.I.P.


My favorite comic mystery writer is gone, but not forgotten. Thank Ra there’s one more Dortmunder novel coming out in July: Get Real.

Below is the text of an interview I did with Don Westlake for DingBat Magazine a few years ago.

BAT: For starters, here’s a question you probably won’t answer. What year was John Dortmunder born and when is his birthday?

WESTLAKE: John was born 44 years before the publication date of each book. Makes it easy to remember.

BAT: We love Dortmunder just the way he is, but if he hadn’t fallen into a life of crime what profession would he have chosen?

WESTLAKE: I doubt John would have chosen a profession. He might have run a grocery store in a changing neighborhood where nothing really works out, or run the construction office for a large inept builder corporation constantly being ripped off by the employees. “Hey, where you goin with that plywood?” “It’s mine, I brought it with me this mornin.”
“Oh, okay.”

BAT: What’s the last book Dortmunder read?

WESTLAKE: John is neither a reader nor a moviegoer, nor, except for the local news (for its surrealist value) a TV watcher. He has trouble enough with real life.

BAT: We know how Dortmunder feels about computers & technology. Then again, we can understand how he might be resistant to the word “cell” phone.” Do you share John’s queasiness?

WESTLAKE: John is more of a Luddite than I am, but our needs are slightly different. I was in conversation with another writer recently, and we both agreed that E-mail is wonderful because it’s even better than the fax for saying no.

BAT: Here’s another impossible question, but of all the Dortmunder novels which is your favorite?

WESTLAKE: That is an impossible question. I think I enjoyed WHY ME most while writing it because I’d just come back from living a year in London and getting with that group again was a picnic.

BAT: We never understood how Hollywood cast Robert Redford in the role of Dortmunder. We’ve always had a vague image of Walter Matthau in the role. If you were casting the part, who would you like to see play Dortmunder?

WESTLAKE: Over the years, producers have said to me, “Who do you see as Dortmunder?” and I always say, “Harry Dean Stanton,” and they always say, “He doesn’t sell tickets!” and I say, “That isn’t what you asked me.” Matthau would be good, though the makeup might be tricky now. If Harrison Ford ever decides to release his inner doofus again, he could do it.

BAT: Finally, we heard a rumor that you broke your own rule by writing two Dortmunder novels in a row. Is it possible you’ll break that rule again? (PLEASE!), i.e., when can we expect another Dortmunder novel?

WESTLAKE: I have no idea what Westlake is doing next. He’s standing aside while R Stark brings Parker back in a book now two-thirds done, called ASK THE PARROT. There have been delays, travel and this and that, and this past-the-guarantee eye, but we’re getting there.

BAT: Thanks, Don!



Technorati Tags:

Advance Order from Amazon

Readymade Composition #1


It struck me as worth revisiting the previous post (Drive-by shooting) which might have included a note on its cropped composition. The original color image (below) is inferior to the cropped version,  but striking all the same as a readymade composition. Note how the crowd has inadvertently positioned itself. If I didn’t know better I’d swear someone arranged the figures for an unconventional  group portrait. Or maybe a set-up by a prankster who knew I’d be driving past with camera in hand.

Perhaps a certain artist was in the neighborhood. I wonder if  he’d have signed the photo had he found it.


Happy New Year!