Sunday, January 22, 2017

Doc Savage and the Empire of Doom -- Kenneth Robeson (Will Murray)

Doc Savage and the Shadow are together again in a rip-snorting, ocean- and continent-spanning adventure that pits them against one of the Shadow's famous foes, Shiwan Khan, and ends in caverns measureless to man.  

The story begins when Shiwan Khan, using his amazing hypnotic powers, steals a U.S. Destroyer from the Brooklyn Navy Yard and uses the guns to destroy a rundown hotel Midtown Manhattan, which houses the secret sanctum of the Shadow, along with some powerful weapons that the Shadow has captured.  And the chase is on.

Shiwan Khan has mental powers that Doc Savage can scarcely credit, including not just the power to take over minds by telepathy, but the ability to create a fog of total blackness and to reanimate a corpse.  The Shadow, having dealt with such things before, finds it easy to believe them.  And besides those things, Doc and his crew (everyone buy Johnny) and the Shadow have to deal with the killing machines that Shiwan Khan as taken.  There are plenty of battles both among men and between super science and amazing mental powers.  Doc and members of his group are declared dead more than once, as is the Shadow. We readers, of course, know better than to believe such things, but the calls are close. 

I tore through this one at a record pace, and for me the best thing about it, even better than the adventures and the battles, was the fun Robeson (Will Murray) has with the Shadow's shifting identities.  Lamont Cranston has a bit part in this one.  Even more fun was the problem that Doc has with trying to keep the Shadow from killing people.  Once the Shadow fires up that Thompson or one of his killing machings, people die by the scores.  It makes Doc a bit cranky.

Although this is a handsomely produced volume printed on heavy paper, I could almost feel the brittle, yellowing edges of pulp pages flaking off as I turned them.  If you like Doc Savage and/or the Shadow, you can't miss with this one.  Great stuff.

The Hollywood Canteen

The Hollywood Canteen where Movie Stars were at your Service

Song of the Day

Jesus Put a Yodel in My Soul - YouTube:

A Big Day for Harry Stephen Keeler Fans!

Art Scott forwards this update from Richard Polt, with some great links:

Dear Keeler Society members,

Today is the 50th anniversary of Harry Stephen Keeler’s death, and Keeler News has now been published for 20 years. To mark this occasion, I’ve put out a special issue of the News . . . . 

Meanwhile, Jon Michaud of the Center for Fiction has interviewed Ed Park and me to create two fine introductions to HSK and some of his greatest works:

Finally, our longtime member John Norris will be publishing a story about coincidence in HSK on his blog today:

Today's Vintage Ad

Gilmore Girls/Murder She Wrote Crossover? Sort Of.

BENDIS Writes GILMORE GIRLS/MURDER, SHE WROTE Crossover, For Real... Sort Of: Gilmore Girls may have already returned on Netflix, but now Rory and Lorelei have made a different kind of comeback, this time teaming up with Murder, She Wrote's Jessica Fletcher - and in comic book form, no less.  

Hat tip to Toby O'Brien.


William Bogart, Murder Man (Hell on Fridays), Phantom Books (Australia), 1955

Can You Identify A Writer By Reading One Random Paragraph?

Can You Identify A Writer By Reading One Random Paragraph?

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

Border Patrol seizes 3,000 pounds of weed disguised as watermelons  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

At Least One of These Would Have Been Great

10 Classic Films That Nearly Starred The Last Actor You'd Expect 

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The Greatest Drinking Song in the World?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Maggie Roche, R. I. P.

Maggie Roche of The Roches sister vocal trio dies at 65: NEW YORK (AP) — Maggie Roche, the folk-rock singer-songwriter who since the mid-1970s had performed and recorded as a trio and in pairs with her two sisters, has died.

It's the Little Things

Now and then I wonder how I got from there to here, there being where I started in life and here being, well, here, and I got to thinking about Bobby Gene Tyus.  It all started when we were in the first grade.

We probably called him Bobby Gene in those days because it's Texas, after all, but he's Bob now and has been for a long, long time.  We started first grade together and became fast friends.  When we were in second grade, he moved away.  I didn't forget him, though, and when he moved back when we were in the eighth grade, we were instant friends again.  And that's when the first life-changing event happened.

In eighth grade I'd fallen in with a kind of smart-aleck crowd, the kind that sits on the back row of the class and makes clever remarks and annoys the teachers no end.  In those days we got grades for "Attitude" and "Conduct."  Let's just say that I wasn't doing well at all in those areas.

It took Bob about two days to figure this out.  He took me aside and told me that I was acting like an idiot.  I knew he was right, but I didn't know what to do about it.  He did.  He told me that I wasn't the person I was pretending to be and that he wanted me to move to the front row and sit by him.  So I did.  All my grades improved, and I felt a lot better about myself.  Lesson learned.

I learned a lot of other lessons from Bob, too, but here's the one I want to mention.  It happened when we were juniors, probably the spring of 1958.  We were talking about English class, and Bob mentioned that he couldn't remember the author of a story we'd read.  I told him the name.  "That was quick," he said.  "I know who wrote everything in the book," I told him.

I didn't think anything of it.  Maybe I thought everybody knew who wrote everything in the book.  Not everything had been assigned, of course, but I'd read everything anyway.  Didn't everybody?

Apparently not.  Bob got out his English book and started going through the table of contents, skipping around, asking me who wrote this or that.  Now and then he'd switch off and give me the author's name and ask what he or she'd written.  I always got it right.  Bob was amazed.

I have to say this about Bob.  He was a guy who was a math whiz.  Give him a problem, and he could solve it for x, y, and z while I was still agonizing over where the equal sign went.  He could explain the binomial theorem if you asked him.  I thought that was a special talent.  Bob pointed out that I had a talent, too, although it had never occurred to me.  It might've been that day that I decided on my college major.

Bob and I went on to The University of Texas at Austin, where we remained friends.  He majored in math.  I majored in English.  He taught math in community college in California and Washington.  I taught English in Texas.  We're still in touch.  He's still my friend.  And it all started in first grade.

I'm still not sure how I got from there to here, but I know it would've been a different journey if it hadn't been for Bobby Gene.

Welcome to the Big House

Welcome to the Big House: A somewhat random collection of interesting facts and statistics about prisons and jails. Just in case you ever need to know…

Song of the Day

Coven - One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack) Lyrics - YouTube:

The Best of Weird Florida

The Best of Weird Florida

Today's Vintage Ad

Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum – North Tonawanda, New York

Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum – North Tonawanda, New York 


Mel Colton, Double Take, Phantom Books (Australia), 1955

Everything Old Is New Again

A Rediscovered Mark Twain Fairy Tale Is Coming Soon

Ayelet Waldman: By the Book

Ayelet Waldman: By the Book

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Cops: Pregnant Woman Beaten In Weave Beef: Victim's sister sought return of hairpiece given as Xmas gift

Friday, January 20, 2017

Martha Matilda Harper, the Greatest Businesswoman You’ve Never Heard Of

Martha Matilda Harper, the Greatest Businesswoman You’ve Never Heard Of 

Song of the Day

The Morning After by Maureen McGovern - YouTube:

Forgotten Hits: January 20th

Forgotten Hits: January 20th

Today's Vintage Ad

Selling Rare Books on NYC Sidewalks (Video)

Selling Rare Books on NYC Sidewalks: Bookseller Ed Smith (Ed Smith Books) interviewed Kurt Brokaw, a professor and film critic, who likes to moonlight as a rare bookseller (specializing in noir paperback originals) on the streets of Manhattan.


Arnold Kummer, Ladies in Hades,  Dell, 1950

Rediscovering the Wonderful World of Weepuls

Rediscovering the Wonderful World of Weepuls

Roberta Peters, R. I. P.

OPERA NEWS: ROBERTA PETERS'S overnight ascent to Met stardom at twenty combined with her uncommonly attractive face and form to suggest a sort of fairy-tale figure. But Peters’s early years were spent absorbed in arduous study, devoid of many of the diversions taken for granted by the average teenager. Although in later life the soprano spoke about tears shed under the pressure of trying to live up to the expectations of those who believed in her, she maintained that young people should be urged to fulfill their potential. It was, in fact, this seriousness of purpose and artistic integrity that carried Peters through a five-decade career in which she racked up 512 Met performances of twenty-four roles during thirty-four seasons.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Roll Models

Roll Models: Something everyone thinks about as they get close to retiring is “What am I going to do with all that free time?” Some people move to the country, others travel the world. Still others make a difference right where they are.

FFB: Deadhead -- Carleton Carpenter

Well, not every FFB can be a winner.  I picked this one up to read because of my affection for the Carleton Carpenter duet on "Aba Daba Honeymoon" in the movie Two Weeks with Love.  I've had this and several other mystery novels by Carpenter on my shelves for many years, but I'd never looked inside them.  It's just as well.  

Check out the description on the cover: "Death was a superstar in a Broadway horror show.   A novel of shattering suspense!"  I beg to differ.

The only suspense here is when someone will finally murder the execrable "producer" who's trying to mount a Broadway show.  And after the murder, amateur sleuth and Hairdresser to the Stars Chester Long does precious little sleuthing.  Like almost none.  This is one of those novels in which the crime is solved in the in with a big coincidence and everything gets blurted out.  As an aside, the cover doesn't represent anything in the book.  The producer's strangled (and maybe ODs), but he's not shot.

That being said, the writing is breezy throughout, and there's plenty of backstage stuff about mounting a show, the kind of thing that makes for appealing reading.  I'm glad I read it, but I won't be picking up any more Carpenter books to read, I'm afraid.