Sunday, February 26, 2017

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Best Actress Oscar-Winners Since 2000, Ranked Worst to Best  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Joseph Wapner, R. I. P.

Hollywood Reporter: Joseph Wapner, the real-life retired judge who presided over the syndicated court show The People's Court for more than a decade, died Sunday. He was 97.

Neil Fingleton, R. I. P.

The Guardian: Game of Thrones star Neil Fingleton has died at the age of 36, it has been reported. Once named as Britain’s tallest man, the 7ft 7in star played Mag the Mighty in the fantasy series and also took on roles in X-Men: First Class and Jupiter Ascending.

The science of why we experience false memories

The science of why we experience false memories

Song of the Day

Dee Dee Sharp - We'll Walk Together - YouTube:

Welcome to the Messy World of Jerry's Junk

Welcome to the Messy World of Jerry's Junk: Staring out at you from behind those rusty gates; thousands of tightly packed, unwanted objects from the past sit in an eerie silence, almost as if they might just come alive as soon as you turn your back. Each and every single one has been collected by Kentucky’s King of Junk, who has made a temporary home for them in his wild and tangled fortress…

Bill Paxton, R. I. P.

Bill Paxton Dead: Actor Dies of Surgery Complications: The Texas native, who won an Emmy for his work in the TV mini-series Hatfields and McCoys, began acting in the 1970s. His earliest acting credits include minor roles in blockbusters such as Terminator (1984) and Aliens (1986).

Today's Vintage Ad


Soon We'll Have No Rights Left at All

In Arlington, the chance to own a pet lion or crocodile may soon disappear 

PaperBack



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

Not a Bad Life

This Man Has Been Living On Cruise Ships for Twenty Years: Mario Salcedo took his first cruise almost twenty years ago—and never stopped.

Razzies 2017 Winners List

Razzies 2017 Winners List

Tootsie Rolls Were WWII Energy Bars

Tootsie Rolls Were WWII Energy Bars

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Nancy Willard, R. I. P.

Nancy Willard, June 26, 1936 – February 19, 2017: Nancy Willard was the author of more than 70 books, including more than 40 books for children, such as the Anatole trilogy, Firebrat (1988), East of the Sun and West of the Moon: A Play (1989), and Pish, Posh Said Hieronymus Bosch (1991), illustrated by the Dillons. She won the Newbery Award in 1982 for her book of poetry, William Blake’s Inn, illustrated by Alice & Martin Provensen. It was the first book of poetry to win the Newbery.

Off Rock -- Kieran Shea

It's the year 2278, and there's still no cure for the flu, which is just one of the many problems that plague Jimmy Vik in Off Rock. Not that he has the flu, but the guy supervising his shift does, and that means that Jimmy's former girlfriend is his supervisor when he discovers a huge hunk of gold on the asteroid where he's working as a miner. The gold isn't supposed to be there, and Jimmy is contemplating ways of getting it for himself.  And if he can, the problem becomes one of how to get it "off rock."

In a way, Off Rock is a caper novel, at least to begin with, because there's a lot of careful planning involved with moving that gold.  Unfortunately for Jimmy Vik, he has to team up with a shady character named Jock, who's not only treacherous but marked for death by a shady organization that's sent a beautiful assassin to the asteroid to kill him.  And then things get complicated.

One of the things I enjoyed about Off Rock, besides the story, was the very real world that Shea creates.  It's a scruffy, lived-in world, and it's very well done.  The book zips right along, the plotting is clever, there's humor, and Shea has a great time telling the tale.  Check it out.

Rusty Puppy -- Joe R. Lansdale

Hap and Leonard are back in another East Texas crime novel in which Joe Lansdale blends humor and grim events as skilfully as ever.  Hap and Leonard seem to attract trouble, and this time when they're hired to look into the death of the son of the woman to lives across the street from the detective agency where they work, things take a real turn for the dark and dangerous side.  They also spend a heck of a lot more money working on the case than they get paid.

The woman suspects that the police might be involved in her son's killing, and Hap and Leonard discover themselves involved with what might be the most corrupt police department in all of East Texas.  One of the members of the department is an old enemy of Leonard's, which leads to even more trouble.  

As usual, it's the characters and the dialogue that make a Lansdale novel special, and this one introduces Reba, a young girl whom Leonard describes as a 400-year-old vampire.  I suspect she's going to be back in a future book or two.  There are a couple of big martial arts battles, and plenty of sex and cussin'.  I suspect that everyone who reads this blog is already familiar with Lansdale's work, but if you're not, it's time to find out what you're missing.  Highly recommended.

11 Hulking Facts About Green Giant

11 Hulking Facts About Green Giant

Song of the Day

The Drifters - Saturday Night At The Movies - YouTube:

7 Myths About Vikings, Debunked

7 Myths About Vikings, Debunked

Today's Vintage Ad


Our Evolving Language

Oxford announces dictionary additions

PaperBack



John Jennings, River to the West, Perma Books, 1952

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Oscars 2017: Here are 10 great movies that were ignored by the Academy Awards

Chelsea Clinton: By the Book

Chelsea Clinton: By the Book

The Barry Awards Nominees

The Rap Sheet: Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine has announced its contenders for the 2017 Barry Awards in four categories.

Forgotten Hits: February 25th

Forgotten Hits: February 25th

To sit, or not to sit? THAT is the question.

To sit, or not to sit? THAT is the question.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Forgotten Hits: February 24th

Forgotten Hits: February 24th

15 Intense Facts About 'Cape Fear'

15 Intense Facts About 'Cape Fear': In 1991—long before the term "gritty reboot" came into this world and lost all of its meaning—Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro teamed up to make a gritty reboot of J. Lee Thompson's 1962 thriller Cape Fear.

Song of the Day

John Conlee - Rose Colored Glasses - YouTube:

I Miss the Old Days

Broads, Dames, Dolls and Dishes: Gorgeous 1960s Mugshots

Today's Vintage Ad


6 of the World’s Most Mysterious Standing Stones

6 of the World’s Most Mysterious Standing Stones

PaperBack



Evelyn Eaton, Quietly my Captain Waits, Perma Books, 1951

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Woman's fingertip bitten off during fight over shoes in Delray  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

I Have a Feeling It's Not Just Texans

13 things only real Texans love to eat and drink 

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Why 1977 Might Be the Greatest Year in Music History

Or Maybe You Do

14 Facts You May Not Know About Johnny Carson 

Bonus FFB: The Best of H. P. Lovecraft

Robert Bloch mentioned in Once Around the Bloch that he'd written an introduction to a hefty Arkham House collection of H. P. Lovecraft's work.  It happens that I have a copy of that book.  Not the Arkham House edition but the Ballantine reprint.  I hadn't read Lovecraft's work since the '50s, so I thought it might be fun to dip into it again and see what I thought.

The complete Table of Contents is below.  The stories I read were "The Rats in the Walls," "The Outsider," "The Call of Cthulhu," and "The Dunwich Horror," all of which I'd read back in the old days.  I had no trouble at all with the writing style.  In fact, I was quite comfortable with the long paragraphs, the lengthy descriptions, the many adjectives, the arcane vocabulary.  It was like visiting an eccentric old friend.  Not that the stories were as effective as they once were.  There's a big difference in reading Lovecraft as a teenager and as a really old guy.  I think this is particularly obvious in "The Outsider."  Has there ever been a sensitive teen who didn't read this and identify with the narrator, even at the very end?  Especially at the end, maybe.  Great stuff.  The creepiness factor in the other stories is still high, but it's not the same as it was in the old days.

Lovecraft has come under a lot of fire lately for his racist attitudes.  I wonder how many people will toss the book aside when reading "The Rats in the Walls" when they come to the name of the narrator's cat.  Probably quite a few.  There are lots of references in the stories to degeneracy and mongrelism, too, so be warned.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Heritage of Horror, by Robert Bloch
The Rats in the Walls
The Picture in the House
The Outsider
Pickman’s Model
In the Vault
The Silver Key
The Music of Erich Zann
The Call of Cthulhu
The Dunwich Horror
The Whisperer in Darkness
The Colour Out of Space
The Haunter of the Dark
The Thing on the Doorstep
The Shadow Over Innsmouth
The Dreams in the Witch-House
The Shadow Out of Time

FFB: Dead Man's Tide -- William Richards (Day Keene)

Someone (August West?) mentioned Dead Man's Tide in a comment on a long-ago post, so I thought I'd grab my copy and read it.  My guess would be that Day Keene aimed this book right at Gold Medal, but it missed the cut. 

The opening is one that's been used many times before.  Charlie Ames wakes up in a strange place with no memory of the night before.  There's no dead body around, as there often is in this kind of story, but he sees a lot of blood.  The body shows up, however; Ames is accused of murder, and the frame is a perfect tight fit.  Even his wife doesn't believe he's innocent at first.  When she does believe him, she searches for evidence to clear him.  Finding something, she's knocked out and accused of a second murder.

Things happen fast, as you'd expect in a Keene novel, and if the gimmick is too obvious, there's a lot of Florida local color (both scenery and characters) to make up for it.  The book was later republished by Avon as It's a Sin to Kill under the Keene byline.  Check it out.