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Showing posts by: Cathy Zhu Chen click to see Cathy Zhu Chen's profile
Thu
May 26 2011 9:45am

Video Screening Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman and The Leopard

The Snowman by Joe NesboScandinavian crime-fiction author Jo Nesbo’s novel The Snowman has climbed to no. 10 on the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover fiction. It is the 7th installment in the dark thriller series that features the subversive yet vulnerable Oslo police inspector Harry Hole. The book has received acclamation from a number of reviews that compare it to masterpieces. The Sunday Times describes it as “so gripping that it recalls classics such as The Silence of the Lambs” and The Independent hails its “spine-chilling quality that evokes the English master of the macabre, M. R. James.”

With all the kudos given to The Snowman, it’s high time to revisit the winning entry from the 2010 Book Video Award. This professionally-polished crime fiction trailer is co-directed by Yasmin Al Naib and Christopher, student filmmakers of the National Film & Television School in the U.K. 

This year, the aspiring filmmakers were commissioned by Random House to direct another book trailer for Joe Nesbo’s latest opus, and 8th installment of the Harry Hole series, The Leopard. Their video captures the paranoia and suspense of omniscient serial killer fiction.

Dim the lights and enjoy the show.

Wed
May 25 2011 9:45am

Pushing Daisies Graphic Novel Preview: I’ll Take a Piece of that Pie!

Pushing Daisies TV Show Poster of Cast in front of The Pie Hole

And another slice to go.

Brian Fuller, creator of Pushing Daisies (and Dead Like Me), recently posted a tantalizing 2-page preview of the “forensic fairy-tale” graphic novel on twitter. Unfortunately, production of the comics has been delayed for months already with no word on release date still.

For a highly acclaimed show, nominated for 17 Emmys with seven wins, ABC’s Pushing Daisies had a rather short lifespan of only 2 seasons. The show is known for its stylish visuals and quirky dialogues (think Amélie witticisms plus Tim Burton surrealism.) Lee Pace plays Ned, pie-maker and owner of The Pie Hole, who has the “gift” of bringing dead things and people back to life with his touch. Chi McBride, who stars in Human Target (another crime show that deserves more airtime), is Emerson Cod, private investigator and Ned’s business partner in a case-cracking venture. (WB has the entire first season available for online streaming. Instant gratification.)

Preview of Pushing Daisies Graphic Novel

Its graphic novel counterpart seems a bit darker visually but Fuller says fans of Pushing Daisies will get some answers to the mysteries left unraveled in the TV version. With the comics in the works for almost 2 years, I sure hope he has baked in a ton of delicious surprises! I know you’ve got indigestion from the pie puns overdose…OK, I’ll stop now.

Pushing Daises Graphic Novel Preview Full Spread

(Click image above to view the enlarged full spread.)

Fri
May 20 2011 9:45am

Clue® Game Night: Cocktail Party

One is never too old (or too young) to play Clue®. But do send your kids to bed before serving up some of these ideas for cocktails at your next Clue game night. Let the mystery unwind!

Mrs. Peacock: 1 oz. Curacao liqueur, 1½ oz. gin, ¾ dry vermouth, 3 oz. lemonade, 2 dashes grenadine syrup, 2 dashes maraschino. Layer into highball glass. Drink with snobby bourgeois nose tilt for better taste.

Colonel Mustard: 1 oz. gin, 2 oz. fresh lime juice, 1½ oz.  peach brandy, a dash of spicy Dijon mustard, 1 wedge of lime, 1 sprig mint. Add honey to taste. Shake with ice, strain into rock glass, and garnish with lime and mint. Very gutsy.

Mrs. White: 2 oz. white chocolate liqueur, 2 oz. Baily’s Irish crème, 2 oz. vanilla vodka, 1 oz. Crème de Cacao. Serve in chilled martini glass. Thanks for folding the laundry. Where's my sandwich?

Professor Plum: ½ shotglass of Japanese plum liqueur (Umeshu), ½ shotglass of fruit brandy. Layer brandy on top of plum liqueur. Ignite. Also called a “flaming plum.” Ahem.

Miss Scarlett: 1 oz. Campari, 4 oz. chilled champagne, dash of angostura bitters, 1 twist lemon peel. Serve in chilled flute, ready for seduction. Hide your husbands. 

Mr. Green: 1 oz. Crème de Menthe, 1 oz. Crème de Cacao, 3 oz. Amaretto almond liqueur, 2 oz. lemon juice. Layer in highball glass and stir. Garnish with cash and get down to business. (In the newer versions, he's a Reverend. I guess, he can just sit this one out and be the designated driver then.)

Cheers.

Tue
May 17 2011 9:45am

Get the Mace: Stalker Retro Playlist Top 5

5. Lilly (My One and Only) – Smashing Pumpkins

“Cause I’m hanging in this tree, in the hopes that she will catch a glimpse of me. And through her window shade, I watch her shadow move…”

Uh, cut the tree down and deadbolt the windows.

4. Don’t You Want Me – The Human League

“Don’t, don’t you want me? You know I don’t believe it when I hear that you won’t see me.”

Locks might not cut it. Send a hardcopy of restraining order (but remember not to put down return address!)

[Don’t follow me...]

Mon
May 16 2011 9:45am

Censorship and Chinese Crime Fiction: The Party Has Only Begun

What is the story told between the lines of crime fiction? More than a genre with deep literary histories in many cultures, it is a mirror of how law, politics, and society are perceived. Be it procedural, cozy, or noir, it often deals with injustices faced by the marginalized, the displaced, the underdogs.

Playing for Thrills by Wang Shuo, Chinese post-80s hooligan literatureIn the People’s Republic of China, a country undergoing rapid social and economic changes, the climate is an ideal setting for crime fiction. Wang Shuo’s Playing for Thrills is a rare and unique example of Chinese hardboiled pulp with a punk-rock noir feel. (The government refers to this genre as “hooligan literature,” to the delight of the writer I’m sure.)

Set in the seedy underside of Beijing, the story revolves on a rogue main character’s attempts to ascertain whether he really committed the murder he was accused of 10 years ago. The thematic elements explored are the decay of Communist revolutionary ideals, mass market liberalization, hyper-materialism, and disenfranchised youth stratified in a turbulent, morally bereft society.

Despite the fact that Chinese crime fiction has gained popularity in the West, Chinese writer Murong Xuecun, at a recent gala in Melbourne Town Hall, commented on why crime fiction written about China doesn’t pay in China. Though the Chinese government has significantly relaxed standards in recent years, conventions and tropes in crime fiction are still rigidly limited.

Censorship issues in China highlight the difference between ‘law in literature’ and ‘law as literature.’ All forms of media (television, film, press, etc.) are subject to approval by the State. Deviations from politically correct beliefs and ethics are labeled “dangerous.” Of course, in turn, there is a huge black market for Hong Kong gangster cult films and similarly for hardboiled fiction.

After all, censorship is a double-edged switchblade. 

Fri
May 13 2011 9:45am

Is Latest Batman On Crack?

Neal Adam’s Batman: Odyssey 6

Happy Friday the 13th! Ready for something weird?  

Check in for a psychiatric evaluation and check out some spreads from the latest issue of Batman: Odyssey #6. With anticipation already building up over the Dark Knight Rises, scheduled for July 2012 release, I can’t help but wonder what a movie based off of this issue would be like. Neal Adams is certainly pushing boundaries of convention on this one, with Batman cracking uncharacteristic jokes and spewing nonsensical dialogue, as the story unfolds through a persistently bare-chested Bruce Wayne.

Most of us are more or less familiar with the criminally insane (cue Joker laugh track) but the heroically insane? That ought to be a new defense in court. This is sort of like Batman pulling a reverse-Overkill move (read up on the anti-hero from Incognito comics here), but this time, it's not the supervillain picking up some habits from the good guys.  In this, our superhero...well,  he might have confused Two-Face with Scarface and picked up some expensive habits.

So is this how we should expect crime-fighter Batman to behave from now on? Moreover, would the film version be a pulp-tastic mash-up of the campy absurdism of The Tick and the melodrama of a sappy telenovela? That actually sounds kind of awesome!

Thu
May 12 2011 11:51am

Crime of Science, Science of Crime: Breaking Bad and Science Olympiad

AMC’s Breaking Bad

In about a week, thousands of nerds talented high school students will gather for Science Olympiad Nationals, annual team competitions in science and engineering from May 20th to 21st. One of the many events is “Crime Busters," in which students must identify perpetrator of a crime through investigation of unknown powders, liquids, metals, footprints, fingerprints, and tire tracks. Give in to high school nostalgia and study these extensive experiment notes on paper chromatography, polymer detections, and qualitative chemical analysis.

That’s using science to solve crimes. What about situations where science is the crime?

That brings us to AMC’s Emmy Award-winning show, Breaking Bad. Vince Gilligan, who also worked on The X-Files and The Lone Gunmen, is the creator and producer. Two episodes (“Full Measure” and “No Mas”) were nominated for Edgar Award this year.

For those who missed the first three seasons, here’s the premise. Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston), underpaid, underappreciated high school chemistry teacher, gets diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. With no legitimate means of securing the financial future of his family, he decides to partner up with a delinquent former-student, Jesse Pinkman and run a meth operation. (Check out an mini-episode pilot for Season 1.) Using his knowledge and expertise in chemistry, Walter makes his way up the drug ring ladder. Here are some memorable applications of science for criminal purposes from past seasons.

After delays in production, the new season of AMC’s Emmy Award-winning Breaking Bad is now scheduled for July. As Jesse said in one episode, “You got a plan? Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah science!”

Wed
May 11 2011 9:45am

Breaded Crime: Wallace and Gromit’s Healthy Breakfast

Wallace and Gromit’s A Matter of Loaf and Death

A breadmaker in North Carolina recently received a sentence of 9 to 11 years in prison for intentionally misleading customers into purchasing his gluten-“unfree” products. Paul Evan Seelig admitted in court that he knowingly sold gluten-bearing products to people who are gluten intolerant or suffer from Celiac disease. The severity of his actions in legal terms, due to their widespread and physically injurious consequences, is considered “criminal battery.”

Grim.

Here’s something less unappetizing (and full of universally-digestible carbohydrate-y goodness you need to be energized for your day). Wallace and Gromit’s latest adventure, now available on DVD, is a bread-themed mock murder mystery called A Matter of Loaf and Death. The duo opens up a bread shop only to discover a series of murders targeting bakers. Gromit must find the killer before Wallace becomes the 13th victim in a “baker’s dozen.” Legendary claymationist Nick Park brings mystery, suspense, and of course, loveable British humor in the latest installment of the series. It’s definitely a visual treat for the whole family.

Mon
May 9 2011 4:32pm

Investigation Notes from a Video Game Nerd

The upcoming release of highly anticipated game L.A. Noire and the release of the anthology have crime thriller and gaming fans at the edge of their seats (sofas?), but we should not forget about the valiant trendsetters from before. Let us tip our fedoras to. . .

Hard Rain release poster1. Hard Rain (PS3) is an interactive fiction game designed with a film noir aesthetic. The plot revolves around solving the case of the Origami Killer, who drowns his victims with rain. There are four playable characters: a troubled architect whose son is in danger of becoming the Origami Killer’s next victim, an insomniac photojournalist, a retired police officer working as a P.I. on the case, or a FBI profiler supporting the investigation. The game won IGN and GameSpy’s ‘Best PS3 Game of 2010’ award. Here's the game release trailer if you are interested.

Screenshots from Condemned: Criminal Origins Video Game2. Condemned: Criminal Origins (Xbox360, PS3) allows the player to use a range of forensic tools to record evidence from crime scenes. It takes place in fictional “Metro City” where members of the populations are becoming increasingly psychotic and aggressive. The playable character, a Serial Crime Unit investigator, is linked to a forensics investigator at headquarters who analyzes collected data. The graphics and gameplay are inspired by psychological thrillers such as Silence of the Lambs and Seven.

Condemned: Bloodshot is a sequel that takes place 11 months later, continuing the storyline of its predecessor. 

These games may not have the cutting-edge facial recognition technology of L.A. Noire but they are well-written, well-designed, and best of all, they will keep your fingers and synapses nimble.

Fri
May 6 2011 9:45am

Diamonds (encrusted on weapons) Are a Girl’s Best Friend?

A recent trend in gun manufacturing have many (be)dazzled–literally–with “female-friendly” pistols. This means smaller, slicker, and more colorful design with a bling factor. The New York Times highlighted some new models of what are called “purse pistols.” Really makes one wonder what is next? Barbie® pocket grenades? 

Check out the shiny rocks on the Hello Kitty 9mm Sig Sauer. (Apparently Sanrio® complained, so only one model is in existence.) The pistol, with its jarring Lisa Frank sticker color palette, looks like the final project of an arts-and-crafts class at the local community center. Clearly, very classy.

Maybe that will be the next workshop: Pimpin’ Your Pistol 101. Glue-gun on real-gun. Oh boy, hope everyone has medical insurance. . .

Wed
May 4 2011 9:45am

Police Mascots: Cuddly v. Corrupt

The Gothamist recently hosted an unofficial mascot contest for NYPD. The inspiration came from Tokyo Metro Police Department’s very own Pipo-kun who was introduced in 1987 to promote friendlier relations between law enforcement and Tokyoites. Submissions have trickled in from New Yorkers for a cartoon cop liaison and many of these reflect cheeky humor and mistrust towards the police force. Some “nominees” are Police Lt. Snack Bauer, NYPD Policestopus, Stop n’Frisk the Helpful Police Squirrel, Officer Bully, and Texty the Traffic Pigeon. It is doubtful the Tokyo Police are paragons, but New Yorkers are definitely a way more cynical crowd!

Check out some of the suggestions:

. . .and the best one:

Police Lt. Snack Bauer

Images courtesy of Scott Birdseye, Chris Bonnell, and Matt Lubchansky

Mon
May 2 2011 4:56pm

Has-bin Laden and the Science of DNA Identification

DNA FingerprintingWith the official pronounced death of Osama bin Laden, the air is thick with the question: Is it really him?

Check out this article from Scientific American that outlines the lab procedure for “DNA Fingerprinting” that includes extracting DNA, amplifying DNA sequences, genotyping, and analyzing the patterns. Unlike in usual murder cases, where crime lab results can take months, this procedure is performed in high school biology labs and can be completed in under 5 hours.

It would be interesting to find out what the autopsy report reveals about Osama bin Laden’s death and pre-death conditions. Hopefully, they will be more reliable than the fake autopsy photo floating around on the internet. (Conspiracy theorists, rev your engines!)

Via @SarahW with thanks to @RebeccaSkloot and @craigtimes.

Thu
Apr 28 2011 9:00am

Neither Savory Nor Sweet: Recipe from a Serial Killer

Rose WestFor those of us guilty of loving good food (almost unconditionally), there’s a new, and unlikely, culinary pioneer. Meet Rose West, a convicted serial killer who was sentenced to life imprisonment half a decade ago. She is composing recipes for her cellmates that only require resources available in prison (i.e., ingredients salvaged from prison rations and cookwares consisting of tin cans and plastic knives).

Check out her recipe of this “delicate” Victoria Sponge (and read more about her criminal history) at Daily Mail UK. 

Instructions are seasoned with motherly reassurance. “If mixture looks although it is curdling DON'T WORRY! It'll be OK.” Unsettling really, given the fact that West murdered her own daughter. So much for passing down the family cookbook. . . 

Already tried this recipe? Let us know if it induced any sociopathic tendencies!