Monday, September 25, 2017

‘Hap & Leonard’ Update

Deadline: ‘Hap & Leonard’: Louis Gossett Jr., Corbin Bernsen & Andrew Dice Clay Set To Recur In Season 3 Of SundanceTV Series

The Man Who Invented Billy the Kid

The Man Who Invented Billy the Kid 

Song of the Day

I Miss the Old Days

Raquel Welch: The Classic Beauty of the 1960s

Today's Vintage Ad


Or Maybe You Do

10 Things You May Not Know About the Pinkertons

PaperBack



Viña Delmar, The Marriage Racket, Avon, 1946

16 Epic Facts About 'Spartacus'

16 Epic Facts About 'Spartacus'

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The Most Interesting Bugs in the World

Forgotten Hits: September 25th

Forgotten Hits: September 25th: "The Letter" by The Box Tops holds on to the #1 spot on the chart as "Never My Love" by The Association jumps from #6 to #2.  The rest of the Top Five hold steady from the week before.  "Higher And Higher" by Jackie Wilson is up from #9 to #6 and "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison and "I Dig Rock And Roll Music" by Peter, Paul and Mary enter The Top Ten for the first time at numbers 9 and 10 respectively. 

SuperChart included.

25 Books About Teachers & Schools

Up the Down Staircase by Bel KaufmanHigher Learning: 25 Books About Teachers & Schools in Literature: For most of us, schools and teachers have played a big role in our lives. Discover a wide selection of books about schools, the students that attend them, and the teachers that dedicate their lives to educating young people. Touching, amusing and enlightening - you're bound to be educated by this reading list.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Kit Reed, R. I. P.

Kit Reed, June 7, 1932 — September 24, 2017: Reed was the author of 16 novels and 10 collections, including the Campbell nominee Where (2016), Tiptree Award nominee Little Sisters of the Apocalypse (1994), and Shirley Jackson Award nominee The Story Until Now: A Great Big Book of Stories (2013).

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

There's an evil clown donut delivery service in Texas

It's National Punctuation Day!

NPD logoNational Punctuation Day

The Bizarre Story of Piggly Wiggly

The Bizarre Story of Piggly Wiggly, the First Self-Service Grocery Store

Song of the Day

The Spy Museum

More Than 5,000 Objects of Espionage Are Coming to the Spy Museum: The trove of cool artifacts comes from the world’s largest private collection of spycraft

Today's Vintage Ad


I Miss the Old Days

24 Color Snapshots of Women Posing with Flowers in the 1960s

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Viña Delmar, Loose Ladies, Avon, 1946

Winners of the Honey & Wax Women's Book-Collecting Prize

Winners of the Honey & Wax Women's Book-Collecting Prize

How English Was Made

How English Was Made

Celeste Ng: By the Book

Celeste Ng: By the Book: The author of, most recently, “Little Fires Everywhere,” often returns to “The Count of Monte Cristo”: “Right now, I see it as an exploration of the complexities of good and evil and how easily one shifts into the other.”

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Dead to Begin With By Bill Crider: Review/Giveaway

Dead to Begin With By Bill Crider: Review/Giveaway | Kings River Life Magazine: We are excited this week to have a review of the latest mystery by Bill Crider, and an interesting interview with Bill. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Dead to Begin With. We also have a link to order it from Amazon, and from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The best 'bad' episodes of 'Star Trek'

Song of the Day

How Bullwinkle Taught Kids Sophisticated Political Satire

How Bullwinkle Taught Kids Sophisticated Political Satire: “Mr. Chairman, I am against all foreign aid, especially to places like Hawaii and Alaska,” says Senator Fussmussen from the floor of a cartoon Senate in 1962. In the visitors’ gallery, Russian agents Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale are deciding whether to use their secret “Goof Gas” gun to turn the Congress stupid, as they did to all the rocket scientists and professors in the last episode of “Bullwinkle.”

Today's Vintage Ad


I Miss the Old Days

American Actresses Who Defined the Hollywood's Golden Age in the 1940s: The 1930s and 1940s that marked by the Great Depression and leading into World War II is remembered as Hollywood's Golden Age.

PaperBack



Russell Higgins, Bad Woman, Quarter Books, 1950

As Well They Should Have

Children Used to Learn About Death and Damnation With Their ABCs: In 19th-century New England, the books that taught kids how to read had a Puritanical morbidity to them

10 Terrific Facts About Stephen King

10 Terrific Facts About Stephen King 

Forgotten Hits: September 23rd

Forgotten Hits: September 23rd: The Strawberry Alarm Clock perform America's All-Time Favorite Psychedelic Song "Incense And Peppermints" on American Bandstand.

C. S. Lewis' 1937 Review of The Hobbit

C. S. Lewis' 1937 Review of The Hobbit: “The publishers claim that The Hobbit, though very unlike Alice, resembles it in being the work of a professor at play. A more important truth is that both belong to a very small class of books which have nothing in common save that each admits us to a world of its own—a world that seems to have been going on long before we stumbled into it but which, once found by the right reader, becomes indispensable to him. Its place is with Alice, Flatland, Phantastes, The Wind in the Willows.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Late Frank Zappa back on tour as hologram

Late Frank Zappa back on tour as hologram

Song of the Day

Chain Restaurants That Changed America

Most Important Chain Restaurants That Changed America

Today's Vintage Ad


But I Did

Nicolas Cage Movies You Had No Idea Existed

PaperBack



Gerald Foster, The Virgin and the Barfly, Quarter Books, 1950

5 Secrets You Learn When You're A Gun Consultant For Movies

5 Secrets You Learn When You're A Gun Consultant For Movies

I Miss the Old Days

18 Year-Old Boxer Cassius Clay (Later Muhammad Ali) Wins Olympic Boxing Gold at the Rome 1960 Olympics: These were the games where one of the all-time sporting greats took his first steps on the international stage. A young boxer called Cassius Clay came to Rome intent on winning a gold medal, and left having taken a huge step towards becoming one of the most iconic figures in the history of sport.

Forgotten Hits: September 22nd

Forgotten Hits: September 22nd: The Beatles appear on the cover of "Time Magazine" … as a drawing … under the tagline "The Beatles / Their New Incarnation".  It depicts The Fab Four in colorful outfits at a time that finds them in between their "Sgt. Pepper" and their "Magical Mystery Tour" projects.  

Includes a couple of surveys, some nice photos, and a few songs to play.

7 things to know on first day of fall

7 things to know on first day of fall

FFB: Daddy's Gone A-Hunting -- Robert Skinner

I enjoyed Robert Skinner's series about Wesley Farrell, and when I ran across Daddy's Gone A-Hunting the other day while moving some books around, I decided I'd read it again.  I'm glad I did, as it was just as enjoyable the second time around.

Wesley Farrell is a mixed-blood creole who lives in the white world of New Orleans in the 1930s but who's equally at home in the very separate and definitely not equal black world. Farrell is a man known for being able to handle things of a criminal nature, and he's prone to violence on occasion.  He's very good at it. He's asked by Carol Donovan, a black woman who owns a nightclub, to help her with a problem.  It seems that a man named Archie Badeaux is threatening her.  Donovan is beautiful, and Farrell can't resist helping out, even though he knows something is fishy about the whole deal. 

Meanwhile, Badeaux is after the money that Ernie LeDoux hid out from a bank heist.  Just out of prison, LeDoux can't find the money because the man he trusted to hold it for him has died.

Added to the mix is the fact that three prominent black businessmen have been murdered, and somehow a wheelchair-bound black criminal named Lincoln and a black banker are involved.  The police are trying to solve the murders, and since Badeaux works for Lincoln, Farrell gets pulled into the case.

And that's not all.  There are at least two more prominent plot threads working with the others.  A lot is going on.

Skinner is great at the '30s atmosphere, and the characters, especially Farrell,  are fascinating.  I wonder if in this day when "cultural appropriation" has become a catchphrase if a book like this by a white author could find a publisher.  The Farrell series came to an end after six books, which is a shame.  I'm going to reread another one soon, just for fun.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Two women cited after fight over biscuit making at Macon McDonald's

Shamus Award Winners 2017

Mystery Fanfare: Shamus Award Winners 2017

10 Gritty Crime Novels That Will Take You to the 1970s NYC of The Deuce

10 Gritty Crime Novels That Will Take You to the 1970s NYC of The Deuce

Song of the Day

Things I See in Alvin, Texas


Today's Vintage Ad


I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

Researchers Find 98-Million-Year-Old Horned Vampire Ant Encased in Amber

Lillian Ross, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Lillian Ross, who became known as the consummate fly-on-the-wall reporter in more than six decades at The New Yorker, whether writing about Ernest Hemingway, Hollywood or a busload of Indiana high school seniors on a class trip to New York, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. She was 99.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

PaperBack



Ross Sloane, Three Naked Souls, Quarter Books, 1949


“Three Lessons of Shimon Litvak” (by John Gastineau)

“Three Lessons of Shimon Litvak” (by John Gastineau) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: When EQMM’s November/December 2017 issue goes on sale next month, readers will be introduced to a new writer, John Gastineau. With his debut in our Department of First Stories, the former newspaper reporter, photographer, and book editor returns to his first love, writing, after many years as a full-time lawyer. It’s clear from the following post that he has long had an interest in crime fiction (and particularly spy fiction), and his analysis of some of the work of John le Carr is timely, with le Carr’s latest book, A Legacy of Spies, currently number three on the New York Times bestseller list. Readers who have not yet read the 1983 novel The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carr may want to do so before reading this post, which discusses the book in detail.—Janet Hutchings

I Miss the Old Days

Leggings: The Huge Fashion Trend of Women in the 1980s 

Gator Update

Alligators Attack and Eat Sharks, Study Confirms

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Bernie Casey, R. I. P.

NY Daily News: Bernie Casey, known best for roles in “Revenge of the Nerds” and “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” died Wednesday.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

2017 David Thompson Special Service Award

2017 David Thompson Special Service Award: The Bouchercon National Board of Directors has selected George Easter as the recipient of its 2017 David Thompson Special Service Award for “extraordinary efforts to develop and promote the crime fiction field.”

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

SFGate: And now it's the baguette beatdown.  

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Down to No Good -- Eric Javorsky

When Down to No Good opens, private-eye Charlie Miner is dead.  This might not be easy for anybody else to overcome, but it's not too tough for Charlie, even though he has three bullet holes in his head.  He's a hard man to kill, and he has some interesting abilities once he returns to life.  He can perform a sort of astral projection, in which he leaves his body, and he can also reenter his body through an opening like an eye and repair it.  He doesn't know how he does these things, but if you want to learn a little more, you can check out his first appearance in Down Solo.

In this book, the point of view alternates between Miner's first person and the third-person narrative that focuses on Miner's friend David Putnam, a cop.  Both Miner and Putnam have serious drug problems, and this plays a big part in the story, which involves a psychic who's been helping out the police with some vague but amazingly accurate information about some cases they've been having difficulty in solving.  She also makes some accurate predictions about terrible crimes that are going to happen.  A genuine psychic in a story about a p.i. like Miner wouldn't be a surprise, but is she genuine or not?  And if she's not, what's her game?  It's complicated.

Down to No Good is a fast-moving story, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and it kept me flipping the pages at a rapid rate.  It's also short, a great virtue in these days of bloated thrillers.  If you're like me, you'll close this book ready to see what Javorsky comes up with next. 

10 Creepy Psychological Thrillers

10 Creepy Psychological Thrillers: In Jane Robins's novel, White Bodies, Callie Farrow, who works in a London bookstore, becomes obsessed with every aspect of the life of her glamorous twin sister, Tilda, a well-known actress, after Tilda marries the controlling Felix Nordberg, a wealthy financier. Callie believes that Tilda is in danger. The plot forcefully builds to a shocking finale as Robins skillfully explores the dynamics between sisters, mental health issues, and manipulative behavior. Robins picks 10 of her favorite psychological thrillers.

Song of the Day

Or Maybe You Did

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Jayne Mansfield  

Annoying slideshow alert.

Jake 'The Raging Bull' LaMotta, R. I. P.

Mirror Online: Boxing legend Jake 'The Raging Bull' LaMotta has died, aged 95. The American professional boxer, former World Middleweight Champion and stand-up comedian died in a nursing home due to complications from pneumonia, his wife Denise confirmed this afternoon.

Today's Vintage Ad


Alvin, Texas, Inexplicably Not Included

2017’s Most Fun Cities in America

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

And Texas leads the way:  Odessa man accused of assault with watermelon  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

PaperBack



Amos Hatter, Untamed Woman, Quarter Books, 1951

I Miss the Old Days

1960s: The Era That Even Middle-Aged Women Looked So Cool: The 1960s saw a flourishing in art, music and fashion, and it was definitely for youth. But these cool snapshots prove that it affects more or less some middle-aged people, especially women.

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

English School Caretaker Discovers Medieval Coin Hoard Buried in Playground

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: The Winter Is Past -- Harry Whittington

The Winter Is Past is likely the most forgotten book ever posted about.  Whittington researcher and expert Rick Ollerman found the manuscript when going through boxes of papers with Whittingon's daughter, Harriett (and it deeply saddens me to report that Harriett passed away only a few days ago).  Rick says that the only people to have read the manuscript are Harry Whittington himself, his wife, Katherine, and me.  Rick read a few pages of it before making a copy and sending it to me.  What an honor and a privilege it is to be the person reading a heretofore unknown Whittington novel thanks to Rick's generosity!  

Now about the book.  It's both a medical drama and a courtroom drama, and I suspect it was Whittington's attempt at writing a best-selling novel.  I read a ton of such novels in the late '50s and early '60s, and this one would fit right in.  In some ways it follows the formula that Whittington used in most of his work.  The protagonist is a doctor named Gordon Hillway, and Whittington gets him in trouble at the start before piling more and more and more trouble on him.

Hillway is a fine surgeon, one of the best, yet he's accused of malpractice when the wife of Herman "Pal" Pilzer dies after Hillway does a routine surgery on her.  Her death isn't Hillway's fault, but some of the surgical team has niggling doubts.  Pilzer is rich, powerful, and politically connected, and he decides to destroy Hillway and the hospital.  He files a huge malpractice suit.  Besides this, Hillway and his wife have serious marital problems, and Hillway has been drinking heavily.  Things don't look good.

Also figuring into the story are other doctors and nurses like Frank Leslie*, whose problems have a lot to do with sex and alcohol; Robert Corson, who has money difficulties; Merle Walker, the Chief of Staff, who has his own medical problems; Ann Shaffer, who tries to do what she believe is right and later regrets it; and Elmer Blaisdell, who sells out the hospital and his own profession for position and power.

There's a lot of medical stuff in the book, and it's all quite convincing.  The amount of research that must have been involved is staggering.  The same is true of the courtroom material.  The characters are vivid and memorable.  The theme is a big one, dealing as it does with the ethics of the medical profession.  The closing chapters get into highly melodramatic territory, but Whittington was always good at that.

The novel reads like a historical novel now, and some of the attitudes (especially some of them toward sex) might turn off a contemporary reader, but the book is compelling reading from first to last (as usual with Whittington), and a good editor could easily whip it into shape.  Until someone does, it will remain a forgotten book, and I'll remain one of its few readers.

*Pete Brandvold, take note.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Merriam-Webster Expands the Dictionary

Merriam-Webster: We've expanded the dictionary with more than 250 words and definitions

Song of the Day

7 Writers Who Were Also Editors (And the Books They Edited)

7 Writers Who Were Also Editors (And the Books They Edited)

Today's Vintage Ad


Keep Your Eyes Open For Cher, Bitches

Keep Your Eyes Open For Cher, Bitches: Cher is still making headlines, after more than five decades in the spotlight, because she’s never stopped finding and mastering new outlets for her creative expression.

PaperBack



Herman Bellamy, Frenchie, Quarter Books, 1949

This week’s tabloids

Trump’s space death ray, Hillary Clinton’s liberation, and alien mummies, in this week’s tabs

I Miss the Old Days

Here's What the Original McDonald's Menu Looked Like, And It Was Extremely Simple!

A Review of Interest (To Me, Anyway)

Kevin's Corner: Review: Dead, To Begin With: A Dan Rhodes Mystery by Bill Crider

Arrr!

International Talk Like a Pirate Day – Pirate phrases to say to ye crew mates: International Talk Like A Pirate Day happens this Tuesday, September 19. The International Day of talking like a pirate began in 2002 and is still going strong in 2017 as people gear up to speak a new sea faring language for the day.

Morning Sky in Alvin, Texas, 9-18-17


Overlooked Movies -- Black Bart

I saw this movie at the drive-in with my parents nearly 70 years ago.  My father liked Dan Duryea, to whom he liked refer as "Dan Diarrhea," and he liked westerns, so that's probably why we went to see this one.  I hadn't seen it since 1948 or 1949, but I had fond, if vague, memories of it, and I was glad when it turned up on cable so I could take another look.  I'm happy to report that I enjoyed it quite a bit.

To begin with, it's beautifully shot in Technicolor.  That's often a plus with me.  And it has a nice script, with a good bit of snappy patter, not at all like the usual Hollywood western of the time.  Yvonne de Carlo as Lola Montez is beautiful and gets to do a couple of dances, one of which is embedded above since there's no trailer available.

Duryea is Black Bart, who's robbing Wells Fargo stages so he can force them to close their Sacramento office, after which he and his partner (played by John McIntire) will open their own bank.  Bart was formerly partners in crime with Jersey Brady (Percy Kilbride) and Lance Hardeen (Jeffrey Lynn), but they parted on unfriendly terms. Jersey and Hardeen turn up in Sacramento, where Hardeen and Bart become rivals for the affections of Montez.  Hardeen and Brady are hired by Wells Fargo, and they decide they want some of the money that Bart's been stealing.  At the end Hardeen and Bart go after the last big shipment together.  This being a Hollywood movie from 1948 and Bart and Hardeen being cheerfully amoral guys, you can probably guess what happens.

The story is told in flashback by Jersey  Brady, and Percy Kilbride is really fun in this role.  There's a little snapper at the end, which I remembered immediately when I saw it, but which I wasn't expecting because I'd forgotten it over the years.  

There is no question in my mind that William Goldman had seen this movie and remembered it when writing BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID.  The final scene in BLACK BART with Bart and Hardeen is the final scene in BUTCH CASSIDY, it seems to me.  I hope someone who's seen it will agree or disagree with me in the comments.  I think there's a small monograph waiting to be written on the subject.

Black Bart is a better-than-average western, and I recommend it.


Dance scene from 'Black Bart' 1948 - Yvonne DeCarlo

Monday, September 18, 2017

Everybody Misses the Old Days

Doo-wop era motels make a resurgence in New Jersey

Song of the Day

I Miss the Old Days

Dell Map Back Mysteries: They Don't Make 'Em Like That Anymore!

Today's Vintage Ad


How the Rise of Paperback Books Turned To Kill a Mockingbird Into a Literary Classic

How the Rise of Paperback Books Turned To Kill a Mockingbird Into a Literary Classic

I Miss the Old Days

The Pretty Blonde of ABBA: 22 Beautiful Photos of Agnetha Faltskog in the 1970s and Early 1980s

PaperBack



Doug Dupperault, Red-Light Babe, Quarter Books, 1950

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

100 Greatest Singers of All Time 

Return With Us Now . . . .

ABBA are planning a world tour in 2019 as holograms: The quartet will be projected in front of a live band, with the vocals stripped from the records and audio from their 1977 Australian tour.  

"It’ll be like you're in 1977, with a live band, live backing vocals, a great set design with lights and sound, everything will be like a live concert," Andersson added.

Forgotten Hits: September 18th

Forgotten Hits: September 18th: "The Letter" by The Box Tops moves into the #1 spot on this week's chart as "Ode To Billie Joe" by Bobbie Gentry drops to #2, "Come Back When You Grow Up" by Bobby Vee climbs a notch to #3, as does "Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie" by Jay and the Techniques (to #4) and "Reflections" drops from #2 to #5.  

SuperChart included.

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

Amateur Archaeologists Find ‘Most Exciting’ Roman Mosaic in Britain

Sunday, September 17, 2017

What Happened To Famous Actress Natalie Wood?

What Happened To Famous Actress Natalie Wood?

Song of the Day

11 Deep Facts About The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms

11 Deep Facts About The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms

Today's Vintage Ad


I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

Rare Roman Cavalry Swords And Toys Unearthed Along Hadrian's Wall

PaperBack



Florence Stonebraker, Frisco Dame, Quarter Books, 1950

I Can't Believe They Didn't Name It for Me

Experts Name New Species Of Prehistoric Crocodile From Texas

14 Epic Libraries Around the World

14 Epic Libraries Around the World  

Hat tip to John Duke.
Annoying slideshow and autostart video.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Gator Update

Diversion canal from Mississippi River creates feeding frenzy for gators. -- The Davis Pond freshwater diversion plan sends water from the Mississippi River into the Barataria Basin on the West Bank, and alligators love it because it also diverts fish into their jaws.  

With video.

Song of the Day

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

The Amazing, the Inexplicable, Orange Show in Texas: Very few times in my life have I truthfully been able to say that something is indescribable.

Today's Vintage Ad


I Miss the Old Days

14 Beautiful Vintage Knitted Sweater Coats for Women From the Early 1970s: The knitted sweater is a staple garment of everyday clothing, being functional, versatile, and fashionable. The hand-knitted "shirts" and "waistcoats," worn as underclothing by both rich and poor from the Seventeenth century, can be linked to the "gansey" or "jersey" worn by fishermen and sailors of the British Isles and Scandinavia from the mid-nineteenth century.

Basil Gogos, R. I. P.

Horror News Network: It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Basil Gogos. Gogos was an icon in the world of horror art and he defined a style that is immediately recognizable and influential to many horror artists to date. He is most known for his portraits of movie monsters for Famous Monsters of Filmland in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He also served as a cover artist for Creepy and Eerie back when they were under Warren publishing.

PaperBack



Karl Kramer, Common-Law Wife, Midwood, 1961

The Original 1851 Reviews of Moby Dick

The Original 1851 Reviews of Moby Dick |

2017 Ig Nobel Prizes Awarded

2017 Ig Nobel Prizes Awarded

Sally Quinn: By the Book

Sally Quinn: By the Book

You Know You Want It

NC woman creates spray to attract a Bigfoot. Have a camera ready, she advises

Friday, September 15, 2017

What Does It Take To Write A Hit TV Theme Song?

What Does It Take To Write A Hit TV Theme Song?  

Hat tip to John Duke.

Harry Dean Stanton, R. I. P.

NY Daily News: Actor Harry Dean Stanton, who played in classic films such as “Godfather II”, “Cool Hand Luke” and “Pretty in Pink,” has died at 91.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Top Baby Names In Every State

The Top Baby Names In Every State

Song of the Day

The never-ending love for literary sequels

The Guardian: The popularity of the form can mainly be blamed on Hollywood, where the quality of a script is increasingly judged on whether the title could reappear followed by a “two” and ideally a rising succession of digits. Taking their cue from movie studios, writers and publishers began to imagine a second go at stories that had seemed to be one-offs.

Today's Vintage Ad


I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Ranking the Robin Hood Adaptations — Which Tales Fly Truest?

PaperBack



Perry Lindsay (Peggy Gaddis), Swamp Girl, Intimate Novel, 1952

10 Epic Page-Turning Novels

10 Epic Page-Turning Novels

I Miss the Old Days

20 Found Photos That Capture People of Dallas, Texas in the 1950s

Forgotten Hits: September 15th

Forgotten Hits: September 15th: Brand new debuts include "Your Precious Love" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (#65), "You Keep Running Away" by The Four Tops (#77) and "You've Made Me So Very Happy" by Brenda Holloway (a song not too many will notice until Blood, Sweat and Tears cut their version two years later), new at #84.  
Silver Dollar Survey included.

FFB: The Iowa Baseball Confederacy -- W. P. Kinsella

Once upon a time (1999) I was a guest at Angelo State University's Writers Conference in Honor of Elmer Kelton, an annual event that's been going on for more than 20 years now.  The featured guest that year was W. P. Kinsella.  The interesting thing about the conference was that they put us guests up in a dormitory, and my room was right next to Kinsella's.  I'd like to say that we had a long chat and became best pals, but that would be Wrong.  That would be A Lie.  He'd forgotten to bring soap, however, so I was able to give him a bar.  (Judy never traveled without a few spare bars of soap.)  And I did buy a copy of The Iowa Baseball Confederacy, which he signed for me at his autographing session.  My shameful confession is that I'm just now getting around to reading it.  I like Kinsella's writing, so I don't know why it took me so long.

The book was sold as a mainstream novel, naturally, but it's actually an SF novel, with a whole bunch of magical realism thrown in.  After being struck by lightning, Matthew Clarke is filled with the knowledge of the Iowa Baseball Confederacy, which nobody else in the world has ever heard of.  Or at least no one will admit it.  Matthew spends the rest of his life (cut short when he's killed by a line drive) searching for evidence of the Confederacy's existence and trying to convince others of it.  At the moment of his death, the knowledge is transferred to his son, Gideon, and he's obsessed just as his father was.  They both believe that there are little cracks in time that might allow a person to slip through into an alternative universe and another time.  Eventually Gideon and his friend Stan manage to slip through one of those cracks, and in an alternative 1908 (or maybe it's our 1908 but nobody remembers it) they discover that the Confederacy is real.  And they get involved in one of the longest games in baseball history, 2014 innings, played out mostly in the rain over a period of forty days, between the Confederacy All Stars and the Chicago Cubs.

It's an odd game to say the least and not just because of the rain and its length.  See that balloon on the cover?  In the gondola is Leonardo da Vinci, who pays a visit and claims to have invented the game of baseball.  See that ghostly Native America?  That's a ghost, all right, and his name is Drifting Away.  He has shamanic powers, and he's in control of the game, sort of, because his wife was killed on the spot where the diamond is.

There's so much more going on that I won't bother to summarize it.  There's so much, in fact, that at times I thought Kinsella was losing control of the narrative.  But as I said above, I like his writing, and I kept right on going to the end.  If there's a moral here, I think it must be, to quote those great philosophers Jagger and Richards, "You can't always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need." When he's writing about baseball, Kinsella's hard to beat, and if you like the game, you'd probably like this book.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

How Do Hurricanes Get Their Names?

How Do Hurricanes Get Their Names?

Song of the Day

5 Real Crimes Solved In Ways Crazier Than Anything On CSI

5 Real Crimes Solved In Ways Crazier Than Anything On CSI

Today's Vintage Ad


I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 25 Best Space Movies Ever 

PaperBack



Gene Harvey, Passion's Slave, Exotic Novel, 1950

I Miss the Old Days

35 years ago this week, ‘Sorry’ was the least hardest word: What’s more amazing about the Billboard Hot 100 chart 35 years ago this week: That 7 of the 10 songs are by artists inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame? That John “Don’t Call Me” Cougar has two songs in the top 10? Or that "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor is either the best homage or worst ironic pick in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma?

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

Massive tomb holding treasure uncovered in Greece

Mark LaMura, R. I. P.

Deadline: Emmy-nominated actor Mark LaMura, known for his role as Mark Dalton on All My Children, has died. LaMura died September 11 from lung cancer. He was 68.

J.P. Donleavy, R. I. P.

New York Times: J. P. Donleavy, the expatriate American author whose 1955 novel “The Ginger Man” shook up the literary world with its combination of sexual frankness and outrageous humor, died on Monday at a hospital near his home in Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland. He was 91.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

A Brief History of Chocolate in the United States

A Brief History of Chocolate in the United States

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Frank Vincent, R. I. P.

TMZ.com: Frank Vincent -- veteran actor known for his roles on "The Sopranos" and several Martin Scorsese films -- died in a New Jersey hospital Wednesday ... TMZ has learned. 

We're told Vincent suffered a heart attack last week, and underwent open-heart surgery Wednesday. He died during the surgery. 

Frank was one of the most recognizable character actors -- in the biz for 41 years -- known for his tough guy roles ... especially in mafia movies. Some of his most memorable include Billy Batts in "Goodfellas" and Phil Leotardo -- Tony's nemesis -- in "The Sopranos."

Indiana and Texas -- A New Relationship

Crown Point mayor touts Civic Center plans, help for Texas | Lake County News: The city also announced plans to become a sister city to Alvin, Texas, a suburb of Houston and one of the areas hard hit by Harvey. Alvin was selected because it is similar in size to Crown Point and has a downtown square similar to the historic venue in Crown Point. Also, many people in Crown Point have friends or relatives in the Texas city, so it seemed to be a good fit and a way for residents to help the flood victims that doesn’t involve going through national organizations.

Song of the Day

I Miss the Old Days


Today's Vintage Ad


I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The Best of the Weird Western: This Halloween, set aside Stephen King’s The Dark Tower and watch these solid Westerns.

PaperBack



Russell G. Ham Jr., The Gifted, Avon, 1953

A Beginner's Guide to Medieval Manuscripts

A Beginner's Guide to Medieval Manuscripts: Sandra Hindman is a leading expert on Medieval and Renaissance manuscript illumination. Professor Emerita of Art History at Northwestern University and owner of Les Enluminures, Sandra is author, co-author, or editor of more than 10 books, as well as numerous articles on history, illuminated manuscripts and medieval rings. AbeBooks posed a number of basic questions about medieval manuscripts and Sandra was kind enough to answer them.

Chemo Update -- Good News/Bad News

I had  my third chemo treatment today and talked to the doctor. The good news is that my PSA is down somewhat.  The bad news is that one of the hormones I’m taking has pushed my blood sugar into the danger zone, so now I have to see a doctor about that problem.  I might be put on a diabetes medication, or I might not.  I’ll find out when I see the doctor.  The hormone is also known to cause brain problems, so I have to see yet another doctor about that.  [Insert your own Bill Crider's brain joke here.]  I don’t think I have any problems, but then I’d be the last to know, wouldn’t I.  I’ll probably have to do some kind of tests to test my cognition.  What fun.

Bonus FFB for Wednesday: Redemolished -- Richard Raucci, editor

Redemolished is a collection of Alfred Bester's previously unpublished stories, some "fictional articles," four essays, some interviews, and other miscellaneous material.

The stories are published in chronological order, so you can see Bester's development from the pure pulp adventure in "The Probable Man" to more mature works like "Something Up There Likes Me."  I kind of prefer the earlier stuff, although some of them I didn't care for, like "Hell Is Forever," which I found an unpleasant story about unpleasant people and which I didn't finish.  "The Roller Coaster" is the perfect 1950s digest story in tone and content.  I'd have loved it if I were still a kid. Of the others, "The Push of a Finger" was okay.  I wasn't taken much by most of the others, some of which are hardly SF at all.  The articles didn't interest me, but the essays are fun, especially the rant entitled "A Diatribe Against Science Fiction."  It was written just before the New Wave crashed onto the shores of SF, and that changed some of the things Bester ranted about.  He changes his tone slightly in "The Perfect Composite Science Fiction Writer," dishing out left-handed compliments to Heinlein, Blish, Sturgeon, Sheckley, Asimov, and Farmer. The interview with Rex Stout is great and my favorite piece in the collection, mainly, I suppose, because it's nearly all Stout.  Great stuff.

If you're interested in Bester or the history of SF, this volume belongs in your collection.

Table of Contents:

Stories:
"The Probable Man"
"Hell Is Forever"
"The Push of a Finger"
"The Roller Coaster"
"The Lost Child"
"I'll Never Celebrate New Year's Again"
"Out of This World"
"The Animal Fair"
"Something Up There Likes Me"

"The Four-Hour Fugue"

Fictional Articles:
"Gourmet Dining in Outer Space"
"Place of the Month: The Moon"
"The Sun"

Essays:
"Science Fiction and the Renaissance Man", originally delivered as a lecture at the University of Chicago in 1957. 
"A Diatribe Against Science Fiction"
"The Perfect Composite Science Fiction Author"
"My Affair with Science Fiction"

Interviews:
Rex Stout'
Woody Allen
John Huston
Robert Helinlein
Isaac Asimov

Also included:
Two unpublished prologues to The Demolished Man
A memorial to Bester by Isaac Asimov, introduced by Gregory S. Benford

Warning: One of Asimov's comments in the memorial might cause your hair to catch on fire.