"Please do not ask me stupid questions that I've already answered..."

I appreciate comments and suggestions as much as the next web monkey, but I'm so tired of answering some questions. They clog my mailbox each and every day, and it seems no matter how often I take the time to politely answer them, someone else (or sometimes, even more infuriatingly, the very same person) comes along the next day or week or month and asks them all again. I'd love to answer everyone personally, but I just don't have the time anymore.

Or the patience, in a few cases. When exactly were the words "please" and "thank you" outlawed, anyway?

And what kind of pretentious twit writes in all lower case or, worse, UPPER CASE?

So, from now on, I' may not answer any questions that contain:

  • obscenity
  • all caps or all lower case
  • requests for purchasing info on movies, radio or television episodes, books or comics. Sorry.
  • requests for contributors' addresses or phone numbers.
  • general mailings -- you have something to ask me, ask me by name

You might also read (or have someone read to you) the Introduction to this site. It couldn't hurt. In fact, a good percentage of queries I receive could be answered if people would just READ CAREFULLY.

THE QUESTIONS
I'll probably be adding more as time goes by, but here goes...

Where can I buy recordings of (insert title of television/radio/film here)?

Why aren't your book prices listed? Isn't that a bit dishonest?

Where can I buy the August 1938 issue of Black Mask (or any other pulps)?

I'm looking for a back issue of Thrilling Detective from the 1930's. Can you help me?

I'm a novice writer of private eye fiction, and I'd love for you guys to publish my stuff. How do I submit a story?

Why don't you have (Charlie Chan? Hercule Poirot? Miss Marple?) on your list? Are you racist? sexist? ageist? whateverist?

Hey, great site! But I can't find your mag on any of the newsstands around here. Can I subscribe?

Why is your site so confusing?

How can I advertise on your site?

Hey, how come you sell books through that big bad Amazon, and don't support those blessed little independent mystery bookstores?

Hey, great site! Where can I buy a T-shirt of your cover?

My aunt/grandfather/second cousin was in an episode of Whatever. How can I get more info?

It's very important that I contact Tom Selleck (or whoever). I'm his biggest fan. What's his phone number?

I asked you to to check out my web site and get back to me. Why haven't you?

What an opionated blowhard you are! Where else can I read your stuff?

"Fuck you asshole. You are one fucking big time loser. I don't know if your uncle sexually abused you or you were the ugly fat kid that always got picked on, but you are one fucked up individual."

Dear (famous person)...

Hey, Kev, what's the deal with you and DorothyL? Were you really kicked off?

Dear site owner,
I was looking at your web site and think we should link to each other. If you are interested, please add the following code to your HTML...


THE ANSWERS

Where can I buy recordings of (insert title of television/radio/film here)?
Man, this is the question I get the most. For the record, I AM NOT A PRODUCER OR VENDOR. I DO NOT MAKE OR SELL VIDEOS. Unless there's a link after the title that reads "Buy this video" or whatever, you're just going to have do some hunting of your own. I just don't have the time to mail off lists of suggested dealers, or to teach people how to use a search engine. I do list a few vendors, both legit and gray market, that deal with recordings of film, television and radio shows, as well as other sources that may start you on your hunt, in the respective Film, Television and Radio sections of my Mystery Links pages. Some of the Bulletin boards, newsgroups and other web sites listed may also give you some ideas on where to start your quest.

If, by chance, you do find a really good source, please contact me and let me know, and I'll add it to the site. And if you ask me politely enough, I will post your request on my Help Page.

Why aren't your book prices listed? Isn't that a bit dishonest?
That one's simple. I DON'T SELL BOOKS. The most I do is include a link to a place, usually Amazon or Barnes & Noble, where you can buy books or videos or whatever. I DO NOT SELL BOOKS MYSELF.

Where can I buy the August 1938 issue of Black Mask (or any other pulps)?
I don't sell pulps. However you might try some of the sites listed in the Pulp section of my Mystery Links. Most of them have links to vendors. But if you ask me politely enough, I will post your request on my Help Page.

I'm looking for a back issue of Thrilling Detective from the 1930's. Can you help me?
Sorry, I have no connection with the old pulp magazine, beyond sharing a title. See above.

I'm a novice writer of private eye fiction, and I'd love for you guys to publish my stuff. How do I submit a story?
Sorry. We're no longer publishing fiction on this site. Really.

Why don't you have (Charlie Chan? Hercule Poirot? Miss Marple?) on your list? Are you racist? sexist? ageist? whateverist?
This is one of the most annoying questions I get, and you'd be surprised how often I get it. For the record, this site is dedicated to private eyes. Not cops, not dilettantes, not amateur sleuths. I admit the distinction is a slippery one, which is why I suggest you read What is a Private Eye, Anyway?

Hey, great site! But I can't find your mag on any of the newsstands around here. Can I subscribe?
Sorry, but this publication is via the web only. But check back often, particularly on the What's New on the Site page. We usually update every three or four days, and have new topics and a new cover every coupla months or so (except when we don't).

Why is your site so confusing?
Huh? Because it's so big? I dunno, it seems pretty simple to me. There's a main page, a series of secondary indices, and then the pages themselves, about 3000 of them now. And there's a list of major links (the indices) on every page. The secret is to scroll down to the bottom of the page to see it. "Trivia" is the catch-all for all the various lists I have, but I think all the names of all the other links are pretty self-explanatory. But if you have a specific problem, let me know.

How can I advertise on your site?
Well, it's pretty simple. Gimme all your money and a banner, and I'll plop it into the appropriate places. Actually, check out our rates. We have various deals, and we can always work something out.

Hey, how come you sell books through that big bad Amazon, and don't support those blessed little independent mystery bookstores?
Hey, I do support mystery bookstores. I bought almost all my books at my local mystery store, Nebula, in Montreal, until it closed. But so far, only one of those independent mystery bookstores has ever offered to advertise on this site. Neither has Amazon, in fact, but they did at least offer to give me a percentage of any books I do sell through a link to their site. Not much, but it's more than almost anyone else has offered. And I do list any mystery bookstore that asks nicely, under Booksellers & Dealers in the Mystery Links. And, of course, I'm more than willing to accept paid advertising from any independent mystery bookstore (or authors or publishers or whoever).

Hey, great site! Where can I buy a T-shirt of your cover?
Sorry, I don't sell T-shirts at this time. Maybe if enough people are interested, I might do it one day.

My aunt/grandfather/second cousin was in an episode of Whatever. How can I get more info?
Beats me. The best I can suggest is that you use my Mystery Links to find a more relevant site than this one. I can't do your research for you. Or, if you ask me politely enough, I will post your request on my Help Page.

It's very important that I contact Tom Selleck (or whoever). I'm his biggest fan. What's his phone number?
I don't give out addresses or phone numbers. Sorry.

I asked you to to check out my web site/book/manuscript and get back to me. Why haven't you?
Because I'm busy. If you can't even be bothered to tell me something, even briefly, about your site or whatever you're plugging in your letter, why should I?

What an opionated blowhard you are! Where else can I read your stuff?
Um, thanks, Mom. I have a site for my writing, kevinburtonsmith.com, that might be of interest to you...

Fuck you asshole. You are one fucking big time loser. I don't know if your uncle sexually abbused you or you were the ugly fat kid that always got picked on, but you are one fucked up individle.
Anthony, it's so good of you to write! Particularly your personal letter to me of November 13, 2001. I just hope I haven't quoted you out of context. I've always enjoy your clever repartee and cutting-edge wit. Not to mention your spelling.

Dear (famous person)...
Since I started this site, I've received mail addressed to Stephen J. Cannell, Lawrence Block, Bruce Willis, Sue Grafton, James Garner, Bob Dylan, Robert Urich, Raymond Chandler (!), and numerous other writers, authors, actors, and celebrities, living and dead. I am not now, nor have I ever been, any of these people.

Hey, Kev, what's the deal with you and DorothyL? Were you really kicked off?
Yeah, I was. Twice.

In June 1999, I was booted off ("permanent removal" was the official phrase) what was once probably the premier internet mystery discussion group for what I thought was a mildly self-deprecating post about my own paranoia and some of the petty squabbling on the list. Evidently, Diane Kovacs, one of the moderators, decided my post was actually "behaviour beyond rude." You can read the offending letter (or at least you could until it was scrubbed from their archives on dorect orders from Ms. Kovacs) and the very illuminating subsequent post where she explained she was tired of my "masturbating with words" and called my defenders (basically anyone else who wondered why I had been expelled from the list, including several popular and best-selling authors) "damned bastards" and me a lying "slimy scumbag," on the archives. I guess I could learn a lot about web etiquette from a classy lady like that.

But then she asked me to rejoin the list, for reasons as squirrelly as when I was kicked off in the first place. For some reason, several people objected to being called "damned bastards" -- including Laura Lippman, Alison Gordon, Carole Epstein, D.L. Browne, Terrill Lankford and Michael Seidman -- and several of them decided to stop posting to the list.

I'm not particularly proud of the whole incident, but I'm not ashamed, either. I'm not the one who acted like a petulant tyrant, trying to find a scapegoat for all her woes. And, for the record, I don't feel I ever gratuitously insulted anyone, nor stooped to attacking people for personal reasons. I certainly never stooped to the the kinds of personal insults (and a rather nasty suggestion that I just die) that were directed at me by my opponents, and not only tolerated, but encouraged by the alleged "moderator."

But it didn't end there. In October 1999, I was kicked off again, this time for joining in on a thread regarding alleged critic and speed reader Harriet Klausner, and the trustworthiness of her reviews. I noted a glaring plot discrepancy between her review and the actual book, Greg Rucka's Shooting At Midnight. Evidently, this was construed by the same list moderator, my ol' pal Diane Kovacs, as another personal attack. She dragged my name through the mud again, this time accusing me, and anyone who dared agree with me, of having "psychological difficulties," and of flaming Harriet and personally attacking her. She then suggested I was "a coward" for hiding behind a keyboard, called me a few more names, and publicly challenged me to a face-to-face showdown in St. Louis. The same day, though, just in case I responded, she kicked me off the list.

Once again, in the wake of my removal, a number of people quit, this time the most notable being Michael Seidman, a well-known mystery editor, who took exception to Ms. Kovacs putting him under review for saying, in passing, at the end of one of his posts, that "I miss Kevin."

And that's about it, except that by 2005, Ms. Kovacs was claiming that I was never kicked off the list (and had ordered the archives purged of various posts that pertained to the whole shoddy affair) while at the same time accusing me of making her fellow moderator, Kara Robinson, cry.

Which is news to me -- Kara and I have corresponded sporadically over the years (including once when I invited her to join me on a 2001 Bouchercon panel), but she had never once claimed I had ever made her cry. But she's probably -- as La Kovacs would put it -- a "damned bastard" too.

Last I heard, Ms. Kovacs was taking a sabbatical from moderating the list for mental health reasons or some such.

But don't take my word for any of this -- look it up.

Unless she's had those messages deleted as well...

Dear site owner,
I was looking at your web site and think we should link to each other. If you are interested, please add the following code to your HTML...
I get link requests like this all the time. While it's quite flattering at first, it soon becomes clear they're usually just more spam. You want to really impress me, here are some things that your link request should contain. Although they may seem simple once you read them, it's amazing how few requests I receive contain any of them.

  • My actual name. This is just common courtesy.
  • Some indication you've actually visited my site. Mentioning it by name is a good start.
  • Your name. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I believe letters should be signed. And I mean signed. Your e-mail address in the "Received from" box doesn't count.
  • But speaking of your e-mail address, make sure it's a functioning one. Believe it or not, a lot of people have incorrect or obsolete e-mail addresses going out with their mail.
  • Your site's actual name and home page URL. Also a short paragraph that describes your site and why you feel I should link to it. I don't have the time to chase all over the internet because you're too lazy to tell me about yourself.

If your request doesn't include theses things, forget it, you're probably wasting my time. And automated requests (they're easy enough to spot) head right for the trash...


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