Thursday, June 22, 2017

Smith -- Timothy J. Lockhart

There's no way to talk about this book without giving away something that the author doesn't want you to know in the first chapter, but that's okay.  The cover gives it away, too.

The story opens with Smith killing a man who's having fun in a hot tub.  She thinks she's gotten away clean, but she's picked up by members of a shadowy government group known as The Enterprise, whose job is assassinations, and they want Smith to join.  She has no real choice, so she does.

Following that we see her training, her first job, which goes okay, and her second, which goes badly wrong.  Along the way we find out more about her background, about why she killed the man in the hot tub, about her past.  She becomes more human and develops a relationship.

All this might seem pretty standard, but it's done well, and it didn't give me any idea of where the book was headed.  The final job and its results surprised me, although maybe they shouldn't have.  

It's good to see Stark House taking a chance on original fiction.  I love the reprints, but it's fun to meet new writers with interesting books.  Check it out.

Nancy Drew: 12 Fascinating Facts About the Feminist Icon

Nancy Drew: 12 Fascinating Facts About the Feminist Icon

Song of the Day

It's In The Way That You Use It - YouTube:

22 Small Towns That Will Make You Wonder How They Got Their Names

22 Small Towns That Will Make You Wonder How They Got Their Names

Today's Vintage Ad


I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time 

PaperBack



Don Elliott (Robert Silverberg), Naked She Died, Ember Library, 1965

10 Famous Book Hoarders

10 Famous Book Hoarders  

Hat tip to Steve Stilwell.

I Miss the Old Days

This Is What Going To The Beach Was Like In The '70s

This week’s tabloids

Trump’s White House hit list, America’s most hated mom, and sex scandals, in this week’s tabloids 

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Nicolas Cage Is the King of the Good Bad Movie  

Hat tip to Deb.

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

Kepler Finds 219 New Planets

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

“The Case of the Unrecognized Editor” (by John Duvall)

“The Case of the Unrecognized Editor” (by John Duvall) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: John Duvall is the Margaret Church Distinguished Professor of English at Purdue University. He has published extensively on modern and contemporary American fiction. In this post he discusses how EQMM helped to reignite the career of one of America’s greatest literary writers, William Faulkner. Interested readers can find a fuller treatment of EQMM’s role in popularizing William Faulkner in John’s article “An Error in Canonicity, or, A Fuller Explanation of Faulkner’s Return to Print Culture, 1946-1951,” published in May 2017 in Faulkner and Print Culture (University Press of Mississippi), edited by Jay Watson. We’re delighted to be able to share the insights of so highly regarded a scholar with our readers.—Janet Hutchings

Free and liberated ebooks, carefully produced for the true book lover

Standard Ebooks: Free and liberated ebooks, carefully produced for the true book lover.  

Many great classics. Load up.

Song of the Day

Jackson Browne - Doctor My Eyes lyrics - YouTube:

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Gun brandished, three arrested in Pierce over chicken nuggets: PUYALLUP, Wash. -- A complaint over too few chicken nuggets and one missing drink got out of hand this week. Way out of hand.

10 Characters Left Out of the Movie Versions of Popular Books

10 Characters Left Out of the Movie Versions of Popular Books

Today's Vintage Ad


I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

PaperBack



Duncan Tylor, Red Curtain, Beacon, 1959

La, La, La, Can't Hear You

Top 10 Hoarders Who Were Killed By Their Own Hoard

I Miss the Old Days

65 Vivid Color Photos Defined the Female Fashion Styles in the 1970s

Forgotten Hits: June 21st

Forgotten Hits: June 21st: Jefferson Airplane have the highest debut of the week with another one of my all-time favorites, "White Rabbit", which premiers at #56.  (Their first chart hit, "Somebody To Love", is still in The Top Ten, holding at #6.  

Lots of song links today.

James Yaffe, R. I. P.

New York Times: [James Yaffe,] a college professor and writer whose fiction and non-fiction chronicled the lives of American Jews in the 20th century, died June 4 at his residence in Denver, CO. He was 90. Yaffe was the author of 11 novels, two short-story collections and two works of non-fiction

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: Kiss Off the Dead -- Garrity

Garrity was David J. Gerrity, who also wrote as Dave J. Garrity.  He was pals with Mickey Spillane, who helped him get into the writing game and who provided blurbs for some of Gerrity's later novels, which were put out by Spillane's paperback publisher, Signet.  Kiss off the Dead was Gerrity's first novel, and it's very much in the Spillane vein.

Max Carey is an ex-cop, booted off the force for taking kickbacks.  He's been honest for most of his career, but his wife is very demanding, and he needs more and more money.  Finally he weakens, and almost as soon as he gets the boot, his wife leaves him.  He goes looking for her to get revenge, and after a long search (three years) he finds her in one of those Florida towns that crops up in a lot of paperback crime fiction, corrupt to the core.  She claims she still loves him, and there's a passionate reunion, after which she turns up dead.  

You know the drill.  The cops are after Carey, the local rackets guys are after Cary, and it's all he can do to keep ahead of them.  Luckily he meets a hat-check girl named Sherry, who falls for him immediately, as often happens in this kind of book, and who helps him out.  Carey is hardboiled and tough, the book is full of action, and [SPOILER ALERT] the resolution is very much of a Spillanean nature [END OF SPOILER ALERT].

Not one of the best Gold Medals, but enjoyable enough and a quick read.  Garrity did another one (Cry Me a Killer) for Gold Medal before moving to Signet, where he published a private-eye novel about a character named Peter Braid.  I read it long ago and remember nothing about it.  He also wrote some Mafia novels and auto-racing novels for Signet that I haven't read.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Will the Persecution Never End?

23 Terrible Nicolas Cage Movies  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Ancient Crocodile Hunters That Helped To Supply The Roman Games

The Ancient Crocodile Hunters That Helped To Supply The Roman Games: How did Romans come to incorporate crocodiles into displays within the Roman games? A look at the myths, fear and artistic depictions of crocodiles reveals a Roman fascination with these fearsome creatures--and with the majesty of ancient Egypt.

Song of the Day

Ricky Nelson - A Long Vacation - YouTube:

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 50 Best Drive-In Restaurants in the U.S.

Today's Vintage Ad


I Miss the Old Days

Yearbook “Class Favorites” from the 1970s   

Link via Messy Nessy.

PaperBack



Luke Roberts, Reefer Club, Uni Books, 1953

Some Versions of 'The Tortoise and the Hare' Messed With the Moral

Some Versions of 'The Tortoise and the Hare' Messed With the Moral: ALMOST ANYONE GROWING UP IN an English-speaking culture knows the story of The Tortoise and the Hare. In the tale, the two animals challenge one another to a race to prove who is fastest: mid-race, the hare lays down to rest, certain that it’s going to win. Then out comes the tortoise, plodding along without pause, the winner; slow and steady wins the race, as the moral goes. Then there’s a huge forest fire, and almost everybody dies.

I know only two people who like this movie, . . .

. . . and one of them is me.

Second Glance: The Melancholy Madness of ‘Joe Versus the Volcano’

Overlooked Movies: The Prisoner of Zenda (1952)

Last week I did a post on the 1937 version of The Prisoner of Zenda, and this week we have the 1952 version, which is the one I saw in the theater when I was a kid.  Back in 1952, Hollywood hadn't started to "reimagine" movies.  When The Prisoner of Zenda was remade, they just dusted off the old script, spiffed up the soundtrack, and filmed it in color.  Oh, and they hired different actors, too.  Many people think the 1937 version is superior to this one, but I'm here to speak a good word for it.

Since the plot is the same and the script is the same (almost line for line), what's there to talk about?  Technicolor, for one thing.  I know that the B&W photography in the '37 version is wonderful, but Technicolor adds a lot to a historical spectacle like this one, or it does for me.  I love Technicolor, which is far superior to some of the washed out color we see these days.

Now for the actors.  Stewart Granger is wonderful.  It's true that he's not "The Voice," as Colman was called, but he's a lot more athletic than Colman, and his acting style was perfect for roles like this one.  Deborah Kerr isn't Madeleine Carroll, and she doesn't try to be.  She's fine as Princess Flavia, and because she and Granger had worked together previously in King Solomon's Mines, there's a bit of extra chemistry there.  James Mason is Rupert, and he chose to play the role almost exactly opposite from the way it was done by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.  Fairbanks seems to be having a wonderful time and gives an enthusiastic and zesty performance.  Mason underplays with wry grins and humor.  It's effective in its way, but I liked Fairbanks' approach better.  Robert Coote takes the David Niven part, and while Coote is okay, he doesn't really come close to Niven in the role.  The humor is missing, somehow.  Robert Douglas is okay as Michael, but he doesn't approach the deep-seated villainy of Raymond Massey in the original.  Louis Calhern is Col. Zapt, and I think he's excellent, but so was C. Aubrey Smith in the original.  Smith might have a bit of an edge here.  Jane Greer is beautiful, and as Antoinette de Mauban she's fully the equal of Mary Astor.

And then there's the sword fight.  Sure, Fairbanks was one of the best, but Colman, well, not so much.  James Mason might not be in Fairbanks' class, but he's very good, and Granger is so much more athletic and able than Colman that the sword fight in the 1952 version is extended to greater length than the original, and we can see the participants much better.  A big improvement.

So which version do I prefer?  Let me put it this way.  I saw the 1952 version in the theater when I was at an impressionable age.  I'd already seen King Solomon's Mines, and I thought Granger was the ultimate adventure hero. I was half in love with Deborah Kerr already.  So given the choice of which one I'd watch again, I'd go with the '52.

Side note: Both versions of The Prisoner of Zenda were made before irony was discovered, so people could talk about duty and honor and courage without any eyeball rolling in the audience.  Maybe that's another reason I like both versions of the movie so much.




The Prisoner of Zenda (1952)

Prisoner of Zenda (1952) Official Trailer - Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr Movie HD - YouTube: