Saturday, April 9, 2022

End of an Era: The Final Print Issue of Entertainment Weekly

Scott D. Parker

It arrived every Friday, and boy, I could not wait.

I can’t say with any certainty if I purchased the debut issue of Entertainment Weekly in February 1989, but I know I began reading the magazine that year. In those pre-internet days, Entertainment Weekly featured writing like my friends and I talked. The stories were encyclopedic, the authors were folks like me (geeks if you will), and the sections became go-to sources of information.

It wasn’t long before I started subscribing as a means to avoid the vicissitudes of magazine stands and delayed delivery. I needed my entertainment fix every week.

The interviews were always in depth and interviewers mostly asked the same questions I would have asked were it me in front of a celebrity with a notepad and pen. It wasn’t long before I grew accustomed to the Top 10 Must List of the week, always cheering when a thing I loved landed on the list.

In those pre-internet days, Entertainment Weekly pretty much kept up with the times. The periodical evolved as the 1990s evolved and shaped and reshaped popular culture. I always looked forward to the big issue showcasing the fall TV shows (although those usually were double issues and I’d have a week without a new issue) or the summer blockbusters or the big music issues. When mega events like the relaunch of James Bond with Pierce Brosnan or the release of the first new Star Wars movie, I could not wait to read the content. The issues were mostly devoured in one sitting, maybe two. It was a rare weekend that ended when I hadn’t read Entertainment Weekly from cover to cover.

I moved from Austin to Denton, Texas, to Kent, Ohio, back to Denton and then back to my hometown of Houston. I carried the subscription with me everywhere I went. When my wife and I married, we discovered we both subscribed and we joined our subscriptions into one. When we moved to the Houston suburbs, Fridays were still a wonderful day when EW would arrive in the mailbox. I would usually consume the Must List between the mailbox and the front door, and, if the cover was particularly important, show my wife as I walked in the door.

A particularly great time to subscribe to EW was during the time when “Lost” was on TV. Every Wednesday, we’d get a new episode. Every Thursday, the folks at the office would hang out in the hallway and talk over what happened. But come Friday, I’d get the latest issue of EW. In it, Jeff Jenson, senior writer and “Lost” guru would recap the episode and deliver in-depth analysis of all the things in any particular scene, be it a book on a shelf or whatever might’ve been in the background. It was essential reading and I always enjoyed Mondays when I could bring Jeff’s wisdom back to the office.

Needless to say, Entertainment Weekly has been with me most of my adult life. I’ll admit I was sad when EW went from being published weekly to only coming out monthly. I’ll also admit I never understood why they didn’t just change the name to Entertainment Monthly. Why not?

But now, in April 2022, the 1,630th issue of Entertainment Weekly arrived in my mailbox, and it is the last one. The last print issue. has been a thing for I don’t know how many years, but now it’ll be the only thing. If EW could read the writing on the wall, realizing that just about everything is fast and digital and on the web, and shift to a monthly rate, then the shift to an all-digital format was also easily predicted.

Yeah, I’ll keep going to because the same content by the same writers is there. There’s even the same font for the various sections. And while I’m fully aware that my next statement will make me sound old, I’ll miss holding the printed magazine in my hands, getting the ink smeared on my fingers if I’m enjoying a cold drink while reading, and circling things with a pen to go and buy later.

The older one gets, the more one values things that have just always been there. And for 33 years, the printed version of Entertainment Weekly has been there with me, chronicling the pop culture events of my life, from my time as a college student to the middle-aged man I am today.

So long, old friend. Thanks for making the journey with me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

From the Stacks

 When I say I am drowning in editing right now, I mean that I am goddamn drowning. 

Between work on the novella I have coming out in a few months (THE LOW WHITE PLAIN, June 1st!!), the novel I wrote as part of a secret project that is suddenly gaining traction again, stuff for Shotgun Honey and Rock and a Hard Place, plus all the normal stuff of trying to be a husband, a dad, a good friend to the dog, the job, having a house, etc, time feels like its at a premium. Which is probably why it was past midnight on Tuesday when I realized, "Oh Shit! I have a DSD post due tomorrow morning!"

I don't know about you all, but that kind of jolt usually dries up whatever creative juices I have going, so immediately after realizing my need for a post, my second realization was: you don't have anything to say. 

That's not entirely true. I have a LOT to say, but I'm not sure I have the time or attention to properly say them. Not this week at least. So instead, I thought it'd be fun to look at some books from my bookshelf. Specifically, books that I probably wouldn't have purchased myself, but that have come to live on my shelves anyway.  

I'm extraordinarily lucky in that I have people all over the country (maybe the world!) who I consider to be excellent friends. And a lot of them send me books. Sometimes the books are things we've discussed, and sometimes they're books that are sent in addition to the books we've discussed. Books I've never even heard of. 

My friend Brian does this. Every time he sends me something, it includes something he found on his shelf. He's told me before that he's not even sure if I'll like them. Some of them he hasn't read himself. But he sends them. Because something about them makes him think of me. Another friend, Kent, sends me books he thinks I should own. And because he's a collector, he usually has a few extra copies of a lot of cool shit lying around. 

So here are some books from my shelf. I'm not necessarily recommending them, but rather showing them off. They're the odd beauty marks in my stacks, and though I didn't pick them, they're as special to me as the books I own that I pined over. 

Let me know if you've read any of these. Or just let me know if you and your friends have a similar book-gifting process. Like Mr. Crane himself, I promise, I'm listening

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Farewell to the Crime Commissary

In its seventy-nine years of existence, the Italian restaurant Forlini's, in Manhattan's Chinatown, a few steps away from the border with Little Italy, was probably the site of more crime-related discussions than just about any restaurant in existence.  It opened in 1943 and just closed last week, on March 31st, without much advance word as far as I could tell.  That was a pity because if I'd known it was closing, I would have gone one last time during its final days. It's a ten-minute walk from where I work in lower Manhattan, and even if it had been alone, I would have gone over for a final chicken parmigiana with spaghetti on the side, a glass of chianti or pinot grigio, depending on my mood, with that.

Forlini's was down the street from the Manhattan courts and Manhattan jail. Over the decades it became a favorite lunch spot of countless lawyers, judges, jurors, court reporters, and the like.  I discovered it through my father, a criminal lawyer and then judge whose professional life was in that lower Manhattan area for about sixty years.  One can only imagine the number of crimes and criminal cases discussed in Forlini's since it opened, the colorful characters who've eaten there, the bloody tales told.  In recent years, before the pandemic hit, the place with its old-school style bar even became a weekend hang-out for local hipsters, something I thought a good thing since it meant the restaurant had a new clientele, a source of new business.  In 2018, Vogue actually hosted its pre-Met gala party there.  

For the last 20 years or so, I would have lunch there with my father once every couple of months.  With me living in Brooklyn but working nearby and him living in the Bronx but coming down to the Manhattan Criminal Court as an administrative judge through his late seventies and then eighties, it was a perfect meeting point. The waiters there obviously knew the guy.  I remember when the first edition of my first novel, Spiders and Flies, came out, and also eating there that afternoon was long time Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau (in his mid-eighties himself by then; talk about a place having a loyal and longstanding clientele), and my father gave Morgenthau a copy of the book I'd brought down to give to him.  The Manhattan District Attorney an early reader of mine? I doubt it.  But anyway, that was surprising and fun, just as it was a kick to eat in a booth where the plaque on the wall dedicated that booth to one Edwin Torres, the NY criminal court judge and author of excellent crime novels.  If ever there was a place where the old phrase, "If these walls could talk", applies, it was Forlini's.

Forlini's was not a casualty of the pandemic, by the way.  Seems the owners closed the restaurant and sold the property by choice.  Forlini's was a family-run, multi-generational establishment, and the current owners, "Big" Joe, Derek, and "Little" Joe, basically just said, "Well, it's time."


Monday, April 4, 2022

The Batman or Panic at the Disco

THE BATMAN was mysterious and inviting, at first. And then it just wouldn’t end. The background details were fluidly and coherently spelled out. Creators explained what was going on and who was fiddling with what expertly. I appreciated the horror elements infused into the telling. The hidden monster modus operandi of the Riddler. The torture and murder devices used on the chosen victims. The impossibly dark scenes of disquiet and fear. I made connections with SEVEN, SAW and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. All of it made for an enthralling road of storytelling.

However, there were moments that did not need to be in the movie. In fact, these moments intruded and distracted. Sometimes my fellow watchers could not help but laugh. At dinner afterwards, over tacos and chips, we made a quick list of the moments that could easily have been left on the editing room floor. Here are the top three:

1. Batman should really walk a little faster. Yes, we love the mood-creating sound of squeaky leather boots menacingly lurching towards the bad guy, but after the third or fourth scene of this it becomes a drag on the flow of the movie.

This was particularly obvious in the truly explosive Penguin vs. Batman car chase scene. Maybe if Batman had not moseyed so much in the previous scenes this epic saunter would have meant more. Alas, by the time Bruce caught up to Penguin I was no longer invested in the next moment. Pick it up, big guy.

2. Long, lingering looks on the beautiful people. Zoe Kravitz and Robert Pattinson are undoubtedly stunning. Absolute treats for our senses. But we didn’t need so much time spent on Robert’s face. There. I said it. I think he is one of the most handsome men in movies, I also got tired and then cranky looking at his sad-sack mug. At a certain point, I couldn’t tell if this was a Batman movie or a very long Panic at the Disco video.

Zoe Kravitz. Breathtaking. A strong actress. She showed real moments of vulnerability and anger. Did we really need to have that many scenes of her just walking? We get it, Selena is saucy. A real spitfire. I think that those aspects of her character could have been shown without so much dance-walking through the club, no matter how fierce the beat.

3. Atmospheric. Dark. Dirty. Dangerous. This movie is all those things and too much more. The cinematography was half of the reason I stayed in the theatre. The screen dripped with dread. Gotham was crumbling. Rotting from the inside out, like a zombie. The dread of each active scene was palpable, expertly woven and filmed. That is why we didn’t need the additional drawn-out scenes of just streets with creepy things in the background, cityscapes with looming clouds with no relation to the focused, specific story.

There were so many good moments in the movie. Fight scenes are always a favorite and this movie had plenty. There were also weird moments that threw me for a loop. For instance, while Batman is talking with Selena in her apartment she opens the fridge door for a drink, but never closes the door. That tripped me up and I’m not sure why. Don't get me started on the weird little Catwoman "mask." It was clear they just wanted us to linger on Zoe's beauty. Towards the end things got overly dramatic, particularly in the mass event scene, after the fighting. It was there to show a softening of the public opinion on Batman, but it came of awkward and stiff. The ending scene for Catwoman and Batman, the audience laughed at the obvious melodrama.

For the most part I enjoyed the movie, but I would have enjoyed it more had there not been so much filler.

On a high note, however, I am really looking forward to NOPE.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Start a Mystery Series at a Sale Price


In celebration of Friday’s release of my latest Hank Worth novel, Dangerous Consequences, in ebook format, I’m putting the first two books in the series on sale. They’re also ebooks and a great way to get ready for this newest entry in the series. 


The Branson Beauty

(Book 1)

Another Man's Ground

(Book 2)

And here's a bit about Dangerous Consequences:

Elderly tourists visiting Branson, Missouri for a fun time are instead becoming so sick and disoriented they end up in the ER with Dr Maggie McCleary. She asks the sheriff to investigate and, because he happens to be her husband, Hank Worth readily agrees.

When the tour operator denies responsibility, Hank digs deeper leaving Chief Deputy Sheila Turley to handle a simmering revolt within the ranks. Their policy to eliminate overtime pay has infuriated many long-time deputies. Those fired for insubordination have filed a lawsuit, while those still there sabotage Sheila at every turn.

With pressure mounting, they're called to a hit-and-run accident. But the victim's injuries haven't been caused by a car . . . she's been beaten to death and dumped by the side of the road. And she was someone they knew.