Saturday, August 28, 2004

Bestseller Lists 1950-1995

Bestseller Lists 1950-1995: "BESTSELLER LISTS"

OK, what with the errors in the list below, I thought I'd check out the 'Net. This link goes to the PW bestsellers by decade. I suspect these lists are much more reliable than the one abebooks put together.

Abebooks: Bestselling Books for the Twentieth Century

Abebooks: Bestselling Books for the Twentieth Century: "Bestselling Books for the Twentieth Century"

Another list. I'm surprised at only one: how did The Virginian get to be the bestselling book of 1952? I'm sure there's a logical reason. OK, I lied. Here's another surprise. I don't remember having even heard of The Broad Highway, the bestselling novel of 1961. I must have been asleep that year.


Judy and I went to see Hero yesterday. It's a beautiful movie, with some terrific martial arts battles, and it moves from one amazing scene to the next. I'm pretty sure I don't agree with its message, however.

Aside from the message, though, I liked it a lot. Judy, on the other hand, was not impressed. She generally has two reviews of movies I drag her to: "Better than I expected" and "About what I expected." This one got the latter comment.

And other people in the theater were even less impressed than Judy.

Someone sitting behind us had brought along a little kid. It didn't take him long to catch on to the fact that things weren't as they should be. A couple of minutes into the film, he shouted, "Those people don't talk right!"

And two people just walked out through the exit near the screen when the movie was about halfway over. I don't know what they'd been expecting, but Hero clearly didn't measure up.

Lost Pages | Found Pages: Crossgenre noir: 50 favourites

Lost Pages | Found Pages: Crossgenre noir: 50 favourites: "Crossgenre noir: 50 favourites"

Picked this link 1up from Ed Gorman's site. It was mentioned to Ed by Jack O'Connell. I've read a surprising number of the books on the list, including one of the French ones (but when I read it, it was called The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun. Boy, that was a long time ago. Anyway, it's an interesting list. Check it out.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Ed's Place

Ed's Place: "John K. Butler

One of the many great pulp collections published by Adventure House is the John K Butler stories from Dime Detective featuring cabbie Steve Midnight. This is my third time through the book that comes complete with ads from the time and promises of great lurid stories in the very next issue."

As I've said before, one of the advantages of having a lot of books is that when you read about something interesting, you can often just go to your shelves and pull down the book. Which is what I did when I read Ed Gorman's post about John K. Butler a few days ago. I've read the first two stories in the book, and while I'm not quite as enthusiastic about them as Ed is, I certainly plan to read more of them over the weekend.

Thursday, August 26, 2004 - The Official Site of the Dallas Cowboys - The Official Site of the Dallas Cowboys: "Cowboys, Comcast to Launch Dallas Cowboys Channel
No longer will Cowboys fans have to wait for highlights of their favorite team on the evening news. The Dallas Cowboys and Comcast Cable announced Thursday an all-new digital channel - Dallas Cowboys Channel - featuring an all-access look at America's Team. The 24/7 channel, which launches Sept. 8, will have a daily news update, Bill Parcells' daily press conference live, rebroadcast of preseason games, cheerleader specials, highlights of memorable Cowboys moments and fan interactive shows. "

All Cowboys, all the time. Another idea whose time has come! Anybody want to bet that the cheerleader specials will be the highest-rated shows? ::: Texas Roller Derby ::: Lonestar Rollergirls ::: Texas Roller Derby ::: Lonestar Rollergirls

Roller Derby's back, and Texas has it. An idea whose time has come?

Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage

Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage: "Scientists vote 'Blade Runner' best ever sci-fi film"

An interesting list, not that I agree with all their choices. But they're scientists. What do they know?

Hawk & Fisher

I heard about Simon Green's Hawk & Fisher from someone years ago, but I never got around reading the book until last night. It's a fantasy novel about two cops, Hawk and Fisher, who are husband and wife and who carry an axe (Hawk) and a sword (Fisher). They inhabit a fantasy world where magic works and where crime is rampant. This book is about a locked-room murder in the home of a powerful sorcerer. It's also a riff on Christie's Ten Little Indians, as that after the murder occurs, no one can enter or leave the house. And of course people keep dying. I'd like to say this is an undiscovered classic, but I can't. That would be wrong. The writing is undistinguished and in some cases downright irritating. (So many people were saying things "dryly" that I thought I was sitting in the Sahara.) The plot resolutions are, in my opinion, sort of a cheat, but you might think differently. If you've read it, let me know. I have another book in this series, but I'm not eager to read it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Rough Edges

Rough Edges: "Today while searching the Internet in an attempt to find out when and where the two stories in the book were originally published, I found a great site devoted to science fiction pulps and digests:

It's in French, but it features cover scans and indexes for just about every SF magazine you can think of."

I can't resist reprinting this link from James Reasoner's site. I love those old covers, and even if the stories in the magazines don't hold up too well, the covers can still evoke that old sense of wonder for me every time I see them.

Ed's Place

Ed's Place: "Richard Wormser - Ed Gorman"

Ed says he found a couple of Wormser novels in a dime bin. That's what I'd call good luck. I like all Wormser's Gold Medal novels, but the ones I seem to recall best are Drive East on 66, A Nice Girl Like You, and Perfect Pigeon. Wormser won the "best paperback" Edgar for a later GM, possibly The Invader. All well worth seeking out. - LOCAL NEWS - LOCAL NEWS: "Resort goes to extreme heights
Tall Timber looks to live up to name with tree 'soaring'"

Ah, to be a rich guy and play Tarzan!

Jack London

When I was a kid, I read Call of the Wild at least twice, and when I got to high school, I (like every other kid in America, probably) read "To Build a Fire." Naturally, having read those two things, I associated Jack London with the Frozen North.

But London also wrote South Sea adventure stories about a man named David Grief. These were the basis for a pretty bad syndicated TV series in the 1950s, Captain David Grief. I vaguely remembered the series, but I'd never read any of the stories until the other day, when I picked up an old Popular Library reprint of a book called Son of the Sun. The reprint, because of the TV series, is titled Adventures of Captain David Grief.

The copyright info in front of the book mentions the Curtis Publishing Company, which I assume means The Saturday Evening Post published the stories originally. In a way, I wish London had been aiming at the pulp market. The stories might have been a little more exciting if he had.

Still, they have their moments. When you're dealing with headhunters, sharks, and hidden treasure, it's hard not to generate some thrills. But I get the impression that the thrills were toned down a bit, especially in a story like "The Jokers of New Gibbon," which would have been a lot better if the action had taken place on stage instead of between the lines of a page break.

Oddly enough, the first story in the book, "The Proud Goat of Aloysius Pankborn," reminded me of some of the SF stories I read in the 1950s about alien contact. It's also a little like Captain's Courageous, in which a wuss is transformed into a real man by hard work and sailing.

The collection is entertaining enough to hold my interest, but then I can't resist stories about the South Seas. And another thing I like about them is that I figure I'm the only person in the United States who's reading them.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Money Matters

Here's something that really burns me: Last Wednesday, we sent in a pretty big credit card payment. We figured the check couldn't possibly arrive before Friday, or maybe Saturday. When I checked my bank account yesterday, the money was already gone. So five days after I mailed the check, the money was transferred from my bank account to good old Mastercard.

Today I took a royalty check to the bank and deposited it. The nice teller said, "I have to remind you, Mr. Crider, that there's a hold on the check for five business days."

Why is it that when I deposit a check, there's a hold on it, but when Mastercard gets my check, the money disappears from my account instantly? Doesn't seem fair, somehow.

My Life as a Reader, Part 1

My Life as a Reader, Part 1:

I've always had low taste in literature. Naturally, I blame my parents.

One of my early memories of my mother is of her holding me up to the shelves in the public library in Mexia, Texas, and letting me pick a book to take home. The one I remember choosing was about Clementine, a flying pig. I liked it so much that I checked it out over and over. (I've looked for the book since, but I've never been able to find it. Maybe I made it up.) What kind of start is that for a young reader?

That library was phased out, and it's now an Episcopal Church. Which seems kind of appropriate to me.

When I started going alone to the new (air-conditioned!) Gibbs Memorial Library, riding my crummy secondhand bike, I checked out series books: the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tarzan, Bomba the Jungle Boy, the Bobbsey Twins. My parents didn't care. They didn't say, "Why are you reading that crap? Doesn't the library have a copy of Crime and Punishment?" They just let me read whatever I wanted to.

My teachers didn't care, either, so maybe it's partially their fault. They let us go to the school library on certain days, and we could read whatever we wanted to and check out anything we liked. It was in the library at Ross Avenue Elementary School that I ran across Rocketship Galileo, a book that pretty much initiated my years'-long immersion in SF.

Come to think of it, I guess the librarians didn't care, either, or they wouldn't have ordered books by Robert A. Heinlein in the first place.

So I'd like to take this opportunity, though it's far too late, to thank my parents, my teachers, and those librarians. If I didn't have low taste in literature, I'd probably have no taste at all.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The 80's Movies Rewind -- Home of 80s Movies

The 80's Movies Rewind -- Home of 80s Movies

Here's a site I located though Pop Culture Junk Mail. Great stuff about '80s movies (plot summaries, trivia, etc.). I could probably spend the whole day browsing here, but I won't. I hope I won't.

Dirty Sally

This weekend I read Michael Simon's Dirty Sally. The best brief description of the book I can some up with is that it's like the 87th Precinct as written by James Crumley. Or maybe Boston Teran.

It's one of those books that begins over the top and builds from there. Everything is ramped up to the nth degree, and reading the book is sort of like watching a DVD at 2X. It's the kind of book where cars "roar" and "speed" and "zoom." By the end, the main character hasn't slept in weeks, he's been beaten to a pulp, drugged, beaten again, mauled by a bear (OK, I made that last one up), but he's still functioning and puts everything together for the big confrontation scene.

The plot, to put it politely, is preposterous. The uber-villain does any number of incredibly stupid things, but then there's not really a believeable character in the novel. The Chinatown-like resolution is just silly.

The narration is a Duke's mixture. Some of the scenes are first-person, some are third-person. I don't like the mix even when James Lee Burke does it, and I don't like it here. I don't even see the reason for it.

I gave up trying to count the bodies and the buckets of blood, but there's a sufficiency of both. Trust me.

Drugs? You bet. Grotesque scenes of corpses and autopsies? Absolutely.

There might have been a time when I was the target audience for a book like this. Not anymore. But it will probably sell well. As someone once said, if you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you'll like.

Angry Alien Productions, Sase and Topsie

Angry Alien Productions, Sase and Topsie: "Jaws in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies."

OK, I admit it. I think this is pretty funny.

Sunday, August 22, 2004


In a comment down below, James Reasoner asks how I play those old LPs I buy at the DAV store. My turntable, like his, went south a couple of years ago. I could probably have found one at the DAV store, come to think of it, but what I did instead was buy one of those "retro" combo players that you see all over the place these days. It has a turntable, AM/FM radio, and CD player. The turntable plays only 33-1/3 and 45 rpm records, which is too bad, since I have some 78s. And of course the sound is nothing like many of you stereo buffs require. But it's good enough for me.

Something Old, Nothing New

Something Old, Nothing New: "Something Old, Nothing New"

If you need cheering up today, click on the link and check out the post on P. G. Wodehouse's Mr. Mulliner stories. It's going to make you want to re-read Wodehouse immediately. And if you haven't read him, you shouldn't be wasting your time here. You should be placing your book order.