Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Who Killed the Iceman?

Who Killed the Iceman? Clues Emerge in a Very Cold Case   

Hat tip to Barry Ergang.

PimPage: An Occasional Feature in Which I Call Attention to Books of Possible Interest

This Ray Gun for Hire . . . and Other Tales by [Whalen, John]Amazon.com: This Ray Gun for Hire . . . and Other Tales eBook: John Whalen: Kindle Store  Who is Frank Carson? A paid assassin? A killer for hire? Or just a tough trouble shooter for rent? Hero or villain? You decide. Some say he's the kind of guy you call for a job so dirty or so dangerous nobody else will touch it. He knows danger and what can happen to people in the noir world of Tulon in the 22nd Century. There's nobody tougher or smarter. Frank Carson. John M. Whalen's THIS RAY GUN FOR HIRE . . . AND OTHER TALES.

In addition to the five sci-fi noir stories featuring Frank Carson, this collection includes four tales about some of the other characters who lived in the Tulon universe Whalen first created for the novel, THE BIG SHUTDOWN. There's plenty of space opera action and sci-fi noir intrigue in THIS RAY GUN FOR HIRE ...AND OTHER TALES.

The northernmost city in the world

Longyearbyen, Norway: In the northernmost city in the world, it's illegal to be buried because it’s too cold for bodies to decompose.

Song of the Day

Billie Holiday - Summertime - YouTube:

The Lesser-Known History of African-American Cowboys

The Lesser-Known History of African-American Cowboys

Today's Vintage Ad

Geena Davis: 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me

Geena Davis: 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me  (‘I Can Wiggle My Ears One at a Time!’)


Joe Barry, Dangerous Bargain, Phantom Books (Australia), 1954

A Hobby That's Not for Me

Shanghai's Daring 'Rooftoppers' Are Taking Urban Exploration to New Heights  

Amazing photos, but I could never take them.

I Miss the Old Days

The Fabulous Bars and Restaurants of the Boeing 747: Amazing Vintage Photos That Show the Glamorous Airline Lounges in the Sky from the 1970s

Overlooked Movies -- 20 Million Miles to Earth

Back in 1957 I saw 20 Million Miles to Earth in the theater.  And soon afterward (or maybe it was before) I bought the one-shot digest novelization by Henry Slesar, which I suspect was the only novelization published by Amazing Stories.  It has a great cover.

The movie turned up on TCM the other night, and I couldn't resist taking a look.  The plot is typically goofy.  A U.S. spaceship returns from Venus and crashes off the coast of Sicily.  Nobody notices but a few humble fisherfolk, who manage to rescue three of the crew, including Our Hero, played by stalwart William Hopper.  The spaceship sinks, but wouldn't you know that a cylinder containing a tiny specimen of Venusian life washes up on the beach, where a boy finds it.  He takes the specimen to a zoologist, who's intrigued by it, and who's surprised when it has a rapid growth spurt.

The Venusian life form, the Ymir, gets really big, really fast.   The earth's atmosphere seems to be good for it, whereas the Venusian atmosphere is poisonous to humans.  So we need to study the Ymir and find out what's different about it if we want the riches of Venus, which we do.  

The Ymir is destructive because it's lost and puzzled and provoked (naturally the first reaction of everyone is to kill it).  They don't kill it, however, and it's captured and taken to Rome, where it escapes, fights an elephant, and gets to mess up some landmarks.  Its last stand is at the Coliseum.  What do we learn from all of this?  Here are the movie's final lines:  "Why is it always, always so costly for Man to move from the present to the future?"

The Ymir was a Ray Harryhausen creation, and it's great, certainly worth seeing the movie for.  And the movie itself is quite an interesting time capsule.  1957 really was a different world from 2017.  Only two people, a general and a doctor, are sent from the U.S. to the site of the spaceship crash.  Nobody outside the little Sicilian fishing village even knows about the crash, apparently.  There are no reporters, no other officials, nobody.  In fact the mission was a big secret, and when an Italian diplomat is informed of it, he thinks the mission was to Venice (hilarity was rampant in the '50s).  I have a feeling an audience of people under 40 would find the movie an artifact as puzzling as something from the time of Homer.  I loved it in 1957, though, and I retain some of that affection even now.

20 Million Miles To Earth

Movie Trailer - 20 Million Miles To Earth (1957) - YouTube:

Monday, March 27, 2017

Interview with James and Livia Reasoner


Winners of the 2017 PEN Literary Awards

Here are the winners of the 2017 PEN Literary Awards

Antiques Frame -- Barbara Allan

Barbara Allan, as we all know, is the husband-and-wife writing team of Barbara and Max Allan Collins, and Antiques Frame is the latest entry about their antiques-dealing sleuths, the mother-and-daughter (sort of; it's complicated) team of Vivian and Brandy Borne.

Readers of earlier books in the series will recall that Vivian and Brandy have, in addition to their antiques business, a reality TV series.  The first season's a success, though the ratings are tailing off.  That's not good news, and the even worse news is that Camilla Cassuto, the wife of police chief Tony Cassuto, Brandy's main squeeze (it's complicated), has come to town, opened her own antiques store, and started appearing at every auction being filmed for the reality series, where she consistently outbids Vivian and Brandy for the items they want.

And then Camilla is murdered.  Brandy's prints are on the murder weapon.  There's a perfectly logical reason why, but soon Brandy finds herself in jail with a Top Dog she helped put there earlier.  

The books in this series are told mostly from Brandy's first-person point of view, with Vivian being allowed limited participation (one chapter), but this time, because of the circumstances, Vivian gets more space, which suits her just fine.  Me, too.

Once again the Collins team puts together a fast-moving and frequently hilarious mystery concoction that's not as cozy as you might think it's going to be.  The solution is particularly satisfying and twisty, and I really enjoyed the two surprises that Vivian announces at the very of the novel.  They have nothing to do with the mystery, but they do indicate an intriguing direction for the next book in the series, one that I look forward to with eager anticipation.

How Chuck Berry’s Cadillac and His Guitar Came to the Smithsonian

How Chuck Berry’s Cadillac and His Guitar, Maybellene, Came to the Smithsonian

Song of the Day

Sing Sing Sing - Benny Goodman - YouTube:

Sticking Around: The La Brea Tar Pits

Sticking Around: The La Brea Tar Pits

Today's Vintage Ad

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Mathematician Emmy Noether Should Be Your Hero


Bruno Fischer, Fools  Walk In, Phantom Books (Australia), 1958

I Miss the Old Days

Forgotten Glamour at Mermaid City: Girls would come from as far as Tokyo to audition for the chance to be a Weeki Wachee mermaid in the 1960s. They performed to sold-out crowds; half a million people a year came to watch their dazzling underwater shows, including the King himself, Elvis Presley. They took etiquette and ballet lessons and they were treated like royalty wherever they went in Florida.

The Fixers

Atlas Obscura: When stars needed something to be swept under the rug, they summoned these guys.

New Poem at The Five-Two


Forgotten Hits: March 27th

Forgotten Hits: March 27th: "Happy Together" by The Turtles finally hits the #1 spot as The Beatles' "Penny Lane" falls to #4.  (After a huge leap from #11 to #3, "Happy Together" inched its way to the top, stopping at #3 and #2 before finally hitting #1).  The Mamas and the Papas are right behind it as "Dedicated To The One I Love" climbs a notch to #2.  "There's a Kind Of Hush" by Herman's Hermits does the same thing , crawling from #4 to #3.

Mythconceptions About Animals

Mythconceptions About Animals

Sunday, March 26, 2017

11 Collectible Facts About Hot Wheels

11 Collectible Facts About Hot Wheels

Song of the Day

Ray Stevens- "Everything is Beautiful" - YouTube:

14 Notorious Female Gangsters in History You Wouldn't Want To Mess With

14 Notorious Female Gangsters in History You Wouldn't Want To Mess With

Today's Vintage Ad

10 Mysterious Ancient Buildings

Listverse: When people in the ancient world found gigantic ruins, they often described them as Cyclopean—as if only mythical Cyclops could have built such things. We tend not to go in for such legendary explanations today, but plenty of mysterious buildings from the past are still provoking debate. We may not know who built them, or even why.


Lee Roberts (Robert Martin), Little Sister, Phantom Books (Australia), 1954

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Who Was the Best Huckleberry?: One Doc Holliday actor stands above the rest.

Tabloid roundup

Tabloid roundup: Obama's real birth certificate, a spy in the White House, murder charges for an aging star, and more!

An interview with Paul Bishop

Men's Adventure Magazines: An interview with Paul Bishop: veteran detective, writer, editor and action/adventure maven…