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Monthly Archives: March 2009

Thoughts on “Salvation Boulevard” by the Amazing Larry Beinhart

Salvation Boulevard

Salvation Boulevard

For some time now, I have been an evangelist for Larry Beinhart.  I’ve walked into bookstores to introduce myself, and wound up pitching his books.  The conversation usually starts on the subject of political satire and who actually writes them anymore.  Christopher Buckley’s name is usually mentioned, and then I say something like, “but, who I really like is Larry Beinhart,” which is grammatically incorrect but conveys my message.  If the bookseller is young or inexperienced, the response is usually: “Who is he?”

If you’ve heard about Larry Beinhart, it’s probably because he wrote the novel American Hero, which served as inspiration for the film Wag the Dog (one of the few modern political satires with which most people seem to be familiar).  Beinhart started his career writing mystery novels, and his 1996 guide to the genre entitled How to Write a Mystery, is a useful and highly readable book.

His more recent novels, American Hero, The Librarian, and now Salvation Boulevard mix politics and elements of mystery, borrowing heavily from mystery’s close cousin: the film noir.  These books feature detective-type characters going up against powerful, sinister, and shadowy organizations.  There are conspiracies to uncover and femme fatales to complicate the journey.  Beinhart sets these dark dangerous tales in worlds of political and moral upheaval, using plots ripped from the newspaper stories that never made the front page, the articles you probably didn’t bother to read but should have.

Beinhart is a champion of these lost newspaper stories, and has also written a wonderful non-fiction book on what he calls “fog facts”: facts that are out in the public record but invisible to most of us, like water droplets on a foggy day (Example: Al Gore actually did win more votes than Bush in Florida).   Beinhart has an uncanny ability to get to the crux of a complicated political issue and explain it in a way that strips away all pretense and spin.  In Fog Facts and his editorializing on the Huffington Post, Beinhart is an illuminator and provocateur.

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How Would Jesus Celebrate?

Today I turn 33 years old. It has been brought to my attention that this is the age Jesus was when he died.  I have not yet decided whether I will let this fact depress me or fill me with gratitude — but I must say, I’m trying my best not to do the compare/contrast thing:

What have you done with your 33 years, Bill?  Healed the lame and the sick?  Started the world’s largest religion?  Why not?  Too “busy?”  Didn’t want to wake up that early?  Had some TV shows you just had to watch?

Yeah, that’s a game you don’t win.  And I’m told it’s bad form to compare yourself to Jesus, even for the sake of self-deprecating musing, so I’ll stop that line of thought right here.  Anyhow, I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.  I actually have a lot to be thankful for on this birthday. Between getting married and publishing my first novel, this has probably been the most eventful year of my life.  I will be hard-pressed to match this level of excitement and good fortune in my 34th year.

But then, I like to give myself lofty goals …

In the meantime, we have the day to day.  I’m still making ends meet by teaching at a wealthy private school on the west side of Los Angeles. I’ve been filling vacancies, hopping from one maternity leave to another, in an effort to avoid the complications of full-time employment such as report cards, take-home grading, and time-sucking extracurricular faculty pow-wows.  Does this allow me enough time to write?  There’s never enough time.  That said, it’s better than many other day jobs I’ve had and infinitely more fulfilling.

Up until recently, I’ve been spending my time in the kindergarten, which has been good for the soul if bad for the immune system (I was sick for the first month-and-a-half of 2009).  Now I am in the 6th grade, where I will stay for the remainder of the school year.  It’s a whole new, challenging, grade-conscious, puberty-ridden world, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it in future posts.

Speaking of future posts, I do plan on writing some.  I’m working on another book review, and I have a lot more things I plan on sharing once I get the time to do so.  Apologies for the continued blog neglect.  These next couple months should be busy ones.  I’m hoping to have this new screenplay squared away soon, which will mean starting my film agent search sometime in the next couple months.  Then, on June 2nd, the paperback version of The Scandal Plan will hit bookshelves near you.  More on these stories as they evolve.

For now, I’m 33.  Given the alternative, I’ll take it.  Jesus didn’t make it to 34.  God willing, I will. Thanks to all those who’ve sent me birthday wishes this week.  I feel the love.  It’s warm, and I dig it, and I dig all of you.

Much love,