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 

PaperBack



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.

PaperBack



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.  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Miguel Ferrer, R. I. P.

'NCIS: LA' actor Miguel Ferrer dies at 61: Miguel Ferrer, the actor known best for television roles on NCIS: Los Angeles and Crossing Jordan, has passed away from cancer at the age of 61, per Associated Press.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson and to Deb.

Bargain of the Day

Free eBook: The Digest Enthusiast #1 | Digest Magazines: Get a free copy of The Digest Enthusiast #1 on Magzter when you sign-up for updates about the series and other Larque Press projects.

Blaze! 15: Red Rock Rampage -- Ben Boulden

The latest entry in the Blaze! adult western series is set in Utah, where J.D. and Kate Blaze (two of the deadliest gunfighters the Old West has ever seen) are hunting a couple of train robbers for the bounty.  They trail them to a town named Small Basin, and that's where the troubles really begin.

The town has a corrupt sheriff, who's also one of the train robbers, and it's under the control of a renegade Mormon patriarch who has a yen for young wives.  He already has twenty wives, but they keep getting older.  When he kidnaps a young girl from town, J.D. and Kate decide to help out, with the aid of an interesting priest who knows a lot about cussing and shooting.  They have a plan, but of course things get complicated.  J.D. takes a whale of a beating, and there are several surprises along the way.  The book has some of my favorite things in it, a secret way into a hidden valley and a cave.  No quicksand, though.

This is a fine debut for Ben Boulden, with sharp action and well-observed descriptions.  I expect his name will become much more familiar to readers as he extends his writing career.

The First Truly Blockbuster Audiobook?

The First Truly Blockbuster Audiobook? 

Song of the Day

We're Not Gonna Take It - YouTube:

A History of Pepsi Cola

A History of Pepsi Cola 

Today's Vintage Ad


I'm Doomed

Sitting down for hours a day speeds up ageing

PaperBack



William Beyer, Murder by Arrangement, Phantom Books (Australia), 1955

Marilyn Monroe's Forgotten Hollywood Sorority

Marilyn Monroe's Forgotten Hollywood Sorority

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Stu Palmer’s and Craig Rice’s Withers/Malone Team-Ups in EQMM”

“Collaborative Sleuthing: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Stu Palmer’s and Craig Rice’s Withers/Malone Team-Ups in EQMM”

Silent Film GIFs Reveal the Special Effects Tricks of Early Cinema

Silent Film GIFs Reveal the Special Effects Tricks of Early Cinema