Sunday, June 25, 2017

Jimi After Dark -- Stephen Mertz

Jimi After Dark is quite a bit different from the last Stephen Mertz book I commented on.  The setting is swinging London in 1970, and Jimi Hendrix is coming apart because he's being cheated by music biz people, other people are out to kill him, he has real woman trouble, and all that's not even the worst of it.  So Jimi calls on Soldier, an old friend whose life he once saved, for help.  Soldier gets a two-week leave from his service in Vietnam and comes to help.

London's a lot different from Vietnam, but Soldier is tough enough and smart enough to adapt to the situation.  Jimi's having a tougher time of it than Soldier is, or at least isn't able to deal with it without plenty of drugs.

Stephen Mertz is himself a musician, and he spent time in London during the period covered in the novel, so all the descriptions in the book of the locations, the music, the people, ring true.  So do the action scenes, as you'd expect from Mertz.  This is also a novel of character, however, and Soldier has his own demons to deal with.  There's good stuff on several levels here, so grab a copy and don't miss out.

Misprint the legends

Misprint the legends: famous typos from James Joyce to JK Rowling

Song of the Day

DROP KICK ME JESUS by BOBBY BARE - YouTube:

Beauty Pageant Winners Who Found Success in Hollywood

Beauty Pageant Winners Who Found Success in Hollywood

Today's Vintage Ad


The Sequel-Sinking Silliness of ‘Batman & Robin’

Bad Movie Night: The Sequel-Sinking Silliness of ‘Batman & Robin’: This week, on the 20th anniversary of its release – and in the wake of DC colleague Wonder Woman‘s massive success – we look at the notorious 1997 comic book bomb Batman & Robin.

PaperBack



Amos Hatter, Lady with a Past, Venus Books, 1951

Accidentally Excellent

Accidentally Excellent: Are you accident-prone? Don’t worry, it could end up making the world a better place.

I Miss the Old Days

20th century snapshots capture people proudly showing off their vinyl records

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

124-Year-Old Never-Worn Levi's Found in Arizona Cedar Chest   

Warning: Annoying auto-start video.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

Ancient Egypt: 3,000-Year-Old Wooden Toe Discovered Near Luxor is World’s Oldest Prosthetic  

Hat tip to John Duke.

Real-World Fairy Tale Landscapes

Get Lost in These Real-World Fairy Tale Landscapes 

Song of the Day

"Sweet Dreams".... PATSY CLINE - 1963 - YouTube:

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

A lost George Harrison song written for Ringo Starr has been found in a piano bench

Today's Vintage Ad


I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 50 Best Good Bad Movies: The bad special effects, the awful acting, the nonsensical plots — there’s something enchanting about a movie that’s hopelessly bad. After rewatching all the films your favorite actors wish you’d forget, we determined which are the best (well, best worst) ones ever.

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Peggy Gaddis, Painted Lips, Venus Books, 1951

I Miss the Old Days

Wide Seats and Plenty of Legroom: These Old Pan Am Photos Show How Much Airline Travel Has Changed

It's a Scientific Fact!

Study: Cowboys top Patriots as team with the NFL's best fans, Chiefs rank dead last

Forgotten Hits: June 24th

Forgotten Hits: June 24th  

Super Summer Survey included.

Emma Straub: By the Book

Emma Straub: By the Book: The author of “Modern Lovers” keeps her youth on a shelf: “There are books I loved in my teens and 20s that I would not love now, but it’s still nice to see them there, as a reminder of a person I used to be.”

Friday, June 23, 2017

The German POWs Who Lived, Worked and Loved in Texas

The German POWs Who Lived, Worked and Loved in Texas  

There was a camp located a couple of miles outside of Mexia, Texas.  Old folks still remember seeing them get off the train and being marched to the camp.  I was too young to see it, although I've heard the stories so often that I sometimes believe I was there.  Many of them worked on the farms around town, and memorabilia from that era (envelopes and such) turns up on eBay often.  Some of the old buildings still exist.

Song of the Day

Jerry Lee Lewis Fools Like Me - YouTube:

Perfectly Understandable

Central Texas Prius driver, 76, charged with shooting at couple who made 'obscene gesture': "From what we were able to ascertain, they had been stuffed behind this Prius for a couple of towns," McGuire said. "When they got to a place where they could pass, one of the occupants made an obscene gesture. The driver took exception and a bit of offense, and produced a handgun and shot rounds at the vehicle."

Today's Vintage Ad


I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Best Movie Posters Since 2010  

Link via Neatorama.

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Albert L.  Quandt, Pick-Up Alley, Venus Books, 1950

I Miss the Old Days

Before Smartphone Selfie, Here Are 25 Coolest Family Photos Ever Taken

An Exhaustive Breakdown of Patrick Swayze’s ‘Road House’

An Exhaustive Breakdown of Patrick Swayze’s ‘Road House’: The 1989 movie about the best damn bouncer you’ve ever seen is more like a religious experience

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Man enraged over nachos stabbed Las Vegas cook 14 times 

FFB: Lost Horizon -- James Hilton

I'd never read Lost Horizon or seen any of the movies based on it, but when I read Michael Dirda's comments on the book in the Wall Street Journal, I figured it was time I did.  The essay is behind a paywall, but here's how it begins:  "Now and again, a novel seems to achieve a kind of perfection, a faultless balance in its tone, structure and style. Think of Ford Madox Ford’s 'The Good Soldier,' F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 'The Great Gatsby,' Vladimir Nabokov’s 'Lolita.' It may seem sacrilege, but I would add to any such list of 20th-century masterpieces James Hilton’s "'Lost Horizon.'”  I think you'll agree that he puts the novel into some pretty heady company, so I checked my local library's holdings, and was a little surprised to find that they had a copy.  It hadn't been weeded from the shelves, although it's been there so long that it has a cardholder pasted in front.

The problem with reading a book like this when you're my age is that even if you've never read it before or seen the movies, you know what it's about.  You've heard of it all your life because it was so famous at one time, even though it wasn't a success on its original publication.  There's not likely to be a lot of suspense involved in the reading.  

It also turns out that almost nothing happens in the novel.  There's a prologue that is mostly a conversation between three old school chums, followed by an airplane hijacking.  What follows after the plane sets down and the four passengers are rescued is mostly a series of conversations and ruminations.  That didn't matter to me, however, because there are secrets and a well-developed plot, the conversations and ruminations were interesting, and the idea of Shangri-La is as appealing as ever to me, although not to one of the characters in the novel.  

To me, that was the weakest part of the book, not that that the character didn't like the idea of Shangri-La but that the protagonist, Conway, has such an affection for a querulous and complaining young man.  There's nothing in the book to make him attractive in the least (or not to me, anyway). Aside from that, this short novel kept me entertained all the way.  I'm glad I finally got around to reading it.

[SPOILER ALERT]:  What's the secret of Shangri-La?  When Conway says, "Perhaps the exhaustion of the passions is the beginning of wisdom . . . ."  The lama replies, "That also, my son, is the doctrine of Shangri-La."[END OF SPOILER ALERT]