Saturday, January 16, 2016

Brian Bedford, R. I. P.

Brian Bedford, Voice of Disney's Hottest Cartoon Fox, Has Passed Away at 80: In a week already rife with loss, Brian Bedford—theater great and voice of Robin Hood (i.e. the first cartoon animal you ever looked at and thought “I would definitely hit that”)—has passed away at the age of 80. 

Since the age of 15, Bedford has been performing on stage. He won two Tonys, one for Two Shakespearean Actors in 1992 and another for London Assurance in 1997. He also performed in Ontario’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival for over thirty years.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Lefty Awards Nominations

The Rap Sheet: Out of Lefty Field

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

Man bites, stabs another over stirring of chili

It's Oscar Season

'Dumb and Dumber' … recut as an Oscar-worthy drama

Song of the Day

Otis Redding These Arms Of Mine - YouTube:

The Story Behind ‘Runaround Sue’

The Story Behind ‘Runaround Sue’  

Hat tip to Kay Kendall.

Today's Vintage Ad


The Weird Week in Review

The Weird Week in Review

PaperBack



Vivian Connell, A Man of Parts, Gold Medal, 1950

The 16 Biggest Rolling Stones Hits of the '60's.

Forgotten Hits: Sweet 16 (1/16/16): The 16 Biggest Rolling Stones Hits of the '60's.

None of These Should be Funny, But . . . .

20 Moments Of Brilliance That Went So, So Wrong

Supreme Court Justices Love Quoting Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll

Supreme Court Justices Love Quoting Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll

The Influence of Forbidden Planet on Star Trek and Star Wars

The Influence of Forbidden Planet on Star Trek and Star Wars

Friday, January 15, 2016

Hap & Leonard -- Full Trailer

Hap & Leonard -- Full Trailer

Gator Update (Bum Steer Edition)

Texas Monthly includes alligator attack in Bum Steer awards

Song of the Day

The Beau-Marks - Clap Your Hands - 1960 - YouTube:

Dan Haggerty, R. I. P.

Houston Chronicle: Dan Haggerty, the screen actor better known as the beloved, bearded, bear-befriender Grizzly Adams, has died at age 74, according to TMZ.

It Depends . . . .

What's the Worst Movie of All Time? 

Today's Vintage Ad


J.R.R. Tolkien Reads from The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien Reads from The Lord of the Rings and Sings “Sam’s Rhyme of the Troll” in a Rare Recording

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee . . .

. . . and now it's the BBQ brouhaha: Breasts bared, pork chops fly

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E. P. Keating, A Good Time Man, Novel Library, 1949

Do You Want to Believe?

The Holy Order of the Sasquatch: “Finally, a religion that lets you believe whatever you want!”  

Link via The Presurfer.

This Is Cool

Machu Picchu On Google Street View  

Link via The Presurfer.

Florida Tribe's Last Alligator Wrestler

OutdoorHub: For generations, the Miccosukee Indians of Florida have handed down a tradition of alligator wrestling, but that may now have come to an end. According to the AFP, the tribe’s last alligator wrestler announced recently that he will be retiring from the trade, and there are no others in the tribe of 600 to take his place.

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

10 Things That Star Trek Got Right (That Have Never Been Copied)

FFB: Shell Scott's Seven Slaughters -- Richard S. Prather

Shell Scott isn't likely to be forgotten, not with the sales figures achieved by Richard S. Prather's accounts of his adventures.  Check out the cover to the left.  "Over 35,000,000 Shell Scott Books Sold," and that was in 1967, years before Scott's career ended for the first time in 1975, when Prather sued Pocket Books because he believed that they weren't giving him the correct sales figures for his books.  Thanks to editor Michael Seidman, Prather resurrected Shell Scott a decade later with the 1986 publication of The Amber Effect, but the huge audience for the kind of novels that had been so popular a few decades before had begun to vanish.  One more novel, Shellshock, followed, and that was the end of the series.

I was lucky enough to meet Richard S. Prather and talk to him a little bit at the first Baltimore Bouchercon in 1986 when he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Private-Eye Writers of America.  It's hard to believe that was almost 30 years ago.  Prather was a dapper little guy, and the one thing I remember from his panel is that he said he outlined not just the entire novel before writing it but also every chapter in the novel.  But I'm not going to talk about one of his novels.  I'm going to talk about a story collection.  Why?  Well, I like the cover, for one thing, and for another thing, I'd never read any of the stories before.  I've read a good many of the novels already, though not all of them.

"The Best Motive" (it's jealousy, in case you were wondering) begins with Scott entering The Haunt, a nightclub "with lively corpses and a hot orchestra."  The waiters dress in glowing skeleton suits and wear skull hoods.  Since this is a Shell Scott story, you'd be right it you thought that through a bizarre series of circumstances, which involve Scott getting beaten up and hit on the head, Scott would end up in one of those outfits.  By the way, Scott is hit on the head and knocked out an alarming number of times in these stories, more than any ten NFL players in an entire season.  Scott is working for a beautiful young woman named Ellen, who has "a shape like a mating pretzel."  

"Crime of Passion" takes place at a wild party were a man gets roasted instead of a pig.  Scott's method of getting the confession is strictly for laughs.

"Squeeze Play" packs a lot of plot into a short story, and it's not Scott who's being squeezed.  However, when he remembers at the end that a beautiful tomato still has his hundred bucks, you get the idea that he might get squeezed, after all.  Tomato, by the way, is a term Scott uses often to refer to women.  (In the late 1940s, a pretty cousin of mine attended Stanford University.  She was a nationally ranked amateur tennis player, but there was no women's tennis team at Stanford.  So she practiced with the men.  She was known as "The Tennis Tomato."  As far as I know, she didn't object.)

"Butcher" is much less lighthearted than the other stories here, and the ending is so unPC that it might give some people the fantods.

"Babes, Bodies and Bullets" is the quintessential Shell Scott title, so I'll forgive the missing Oxford comma.  It begins with Scott at a boring party where people are talking about opera.  He prefers the kind of party with "juicy tomatoes dancing can-cans."  But don't worry.  Soon enough he's confronted by "the kind of woman who made men want to join nudist camps.  With her, of course."  He's eventually smuggled into a "hospital" where the bad guys are fixed up, and there's plenty of shooting and head-banging.  At the happy ending, however, Scott finds himself in a room with two beautiful tomatoes and three stiff drinks.  "This was my kind of party."

"The Double Take" begins the morning after a different party, one at which Scott claims to have consumed "bourbon, scotch, martinis, and maybe even swamp water."  He's not feeling well, so he goes to a bar where he's confronted by a beautiful tomato who demands $20,000 dollars and then starts blasting away at him with a .22.  Then she runs into the women's restroom.  A man follows her, and Scott follows both of them, but he's too late.  They've gone through the window.  After that, things get complicated, but you can bet Scott winds up happy at the end.

"Film Strip" opens with Scott, a movie camera and a hot tomato who's wearing a bikini and who confesses that she's always wanted to be a stripper but has suppressed the urge.  Hilarity ensues until someone starts shooting at Scott.  This one doesn't so much end as promise a lot more to come.

Any of these stories would be a good introduction to Shell Scott if you haven't read about him before.  Obviously Scott's zany, violent, sexy adventures are not to everyone's taste, but he appealed to millions at one time.  Others tried to write similar stuff, but nobody could do it like Richard S. Prather.  The stories still work for me.  Shell Scott is the Real Thing.

Update:  Todd Mason's take on the stories in this book can be found here.  

Another Update, this one from Linda Pendleton:  The last Richard Prather Shell Scott mystery is The Death Gods, published in ebook and print in 2011. I've also published my interview with Prather, and that turned out to be his last interview. 

Here is The Death Gods at Amazon

Also Open Road Media is publishing all the series as ebooks, except for The Death Gods, which I handle. 

Prather was such an interesting writer and his humor was often outrageous. 


Thursday, January 14, 2016

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

Man, 25, Attacked Mother After Her Dog Ate His Marijuana

11 Most Obscure TV Superheroes

11 Most Obscure TV Superheroes  

Hat tip to Matthew Killorin.

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee . . .

. . . and now it's the Waffle House Rampage!  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Twinkies Inexplicably Not Included

What was Found (and still edible) inside a 150 year-old Sunken Steamboat   

Link via Messy Nessy

Song of the Day

Fleetwood Mac - Go Your Own Way (HQ) - YouTube:

Or Maybe You Did

9 Things You Didn't Know About America's First Serial Killer, H.H. Holmes 

Today's Vintage Ad


Twentieth Century Authors: John D MacDonald

The Trap of Solid Gold: Twentieth Century Authors: John D MacDonald

PaperBack



Carter Brown (Alan Yates), Lament for a Lousy Lover, Signet, 1960

13 Magnificent Roles To Remember Alan Rickman's Career By

13 Magnificent Roles To Remember Alan Rickman's Career By

The 2016 Oscar Nominations

The 2016 Oscar Nominations Are Here 

Actual Bookstore Conversations

BookMine - Old, Rare & Out of Print Books: We are doomed! These are actual conversations with people, who in theory, should know better. Keep in mind, these people drive cars, vote and might even have jobs.  

Link via Boing Boing.

I Miss the Old Days

Glamour Girls of the Air  

Link via Messy Nessy.

2016 Razzie’s Nominations

2016 Razzie’s Nominations Favor ’50 Shades of Grey’ and ‘Pixels’  

"Without further adieu"?  

Alan Rickman, R. I. P.

BBC News: Actor Alan Rickman, known for films including Harry Potter, Die Hard, Truly Madly Deeply and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, has died at the age of 69.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Black Wings Has My Angel: A Perfect Crime Novel

Black Wings Has My Angel: A Perfect Crime Novel  

Hat tip to Fred Zackel.

A Visit To Jack London State Park

Fire Star Press: Behind the Literature  My daughter, Angela Crider Neary, talks about the trip she and I took to the Jack London State Park a few years ago.  Extra special bonus:  A lot of photos of me!

Croc Update (Fossil Edition)

Fox News: Paleontologists have discovered the fossil remains of the world’s biggest ocean-dwelling crocodile buried on the edge of the Sahara, a creature that was twice the size of anything seen today. Named Machimosaurus rex, this croc would have weighed in at least 6,600 pounds and been around 32 feet long. Other than its size, it would have looked much like a modern day crocodile except for its narrow snout – which was designed to allow it swim in the ocean.

Song of the Day

Take The Money and Run- Steve Miller Band - YouTube:

A Guy Photoshops Himself Into Kendall Jenner's Instagram

A Guy Photoshops Himself Into Kendall Jenner's Instagram And It's Hilarious

Today's Vintage Ad


First It Was the Thin Mint Melee . . .

. . . and now: Florida man used wife’s head to mop up spilled milk after no-jelly rage

PaperBack



Joan Sherman, Bodies on Fire, Exotic Novel, 1951

I Miss the Old Days

The '60s at 50: Wednesday, January 12, 1966: 'Batman'

American Bookmobiles in the Past

Amazing Vintage Photos of American Bookmobiles in the Past  

Link via The Presurfer.

What Happened to the Texas Miracle?

US states economy ranking Q4 2015 

Monte Irvin, R. I. P.

SI.com: On Monday night, the baseball world lost a giant with the passing of Hall of Fame outfielder Monte Irvin at age 96. A key figure in the integration of the major leagues, Irvin nearly beat Jackie Robinson across the color line before going on to star for two New York Giants pennant winners, and later served as baseball’s first black executive and a key figure in the Hall’s recognition of Negro League stars. He had been living in a retirement home in Houston, and prior to his death was the second-oldest living Hall of Famer, behind only Bobby Doerr.

Does Taco Bell Hot Sauce Expire?

Does Taco Bell Hot Sauce Expire and Everything Else About Sauce Packets You Never Thought To Ask

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

William A. "Bill" Del Monte, R. I. P.

Last Survivor of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Dies 

The World's Most Popular Oscillating Fan?

More Netflix Users Are Watching This Oscillating Fan Than ‘Making A Murderer’   

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Croc Update (Waterslide Edition)

Chill crocodile takes a fun ride down a rock slide

Song of the Day

Robert Palmer - Bad Case Of Loving You Lyrics - YouTube:

A Few Facts About MAD Magazine

A Few Facts About MAD Magazine

Today's Vintage Ad



The R-Rated Nero Wolfe

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: The R-Rated Nero Wolfe

PaperBack



Albert Idell, This Woman, Red Seal, 1952

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Classic Horror Icons: Vincent Price's 8 Best Films   

Link via SF Signal.

I Miss the Old Days

Food and Drink #22: 1950s Cookbooks 

Squirrel Obsessives Through the Ages

From Portrait Painters To College Applicants, Squirrel Obsessives Through the Ages: George is the president of The Squirrel Lover’s Club, a 20-year-old group with about 1,500 dues-paying members that hail from around the world.

Overlooked Movies -- Bowfinger

Once more I demonstrate how much I like movies that hardly anyone else does by saying that I really get a kick out of Bowfinger

Steve Martin plays the title character, a movie producer who makes Ed Wood look successful.  He wants to direct a script, and he has one written by his accountant that he's sure is perfect.  It's called Chubby Rain, and the premise has to do with aliens hiding in raindrops.  Martin contrives to meet a big-time movie exec (played by Robert Downey, Jr.) at a restaurant, and the exec agrees to distribute the movie if Martin can land the biggest action star around, Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy, Jr.).  

His meeting with Kit doesn't go well, but Martin's going ahead with the movie, anyway.  How?  Simple.  He'll have his actors walk up to Murphy in public and say their lines while Martin films the scene with a hidden camera.  Will it work?  Martin tells them that Tom Cruise didn't know he was in that "vampire movie" until two years after it was shot.

Things go well until Kit, who's a head case, goes into hiding.  He's a member of a cult called MindHead, and thinks aliens are stalking him.  Martin finds someone who looks just like Kit, however, a guy named Jiff.  We learn soon enough that the resemblance is only natural since Jiff is Kit's brother.

That's enough about the plot, which is even more complicated than it sounds, though it plays just fine.  Much hilarity ensues (for me, anyway), and the cast is terrific.  Murphy hasn't been very successful in recent years, but he does a wonderful job as both Jiff and Kit.  I've been a fan of Steve Martin since he was on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour with an arrow through his head, and he's great, as usual.  Heather Graham, Christine Baranski, Downey, and all the rest are their equals.  I laugh just thinking about some of the scenes in this movie.  It's not cutting edge or even close, but it's very funny.  Check it out.

BowFinger

BowFinger Movie Trailer - YouTube:

Monday, January 11, 2016

Brett Smiley, R. I. P.

ABC News: Brett Smiley, who appeared on Broadway in the original musical "Oliver!" in 1965 and went on to become a glam rocker and achieve cult fame, has died. He was 60.

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

Shoplifter Bit Off Walmart Worker's Finger

Comic Strip of the Day

Non Sequitur Comic Strip, January 11, 2016 on GoComics.com

Best of the West 2016: Western Books

Best of the West 2016: Western Books 

Song of the Day

david bowie - changes - YouTube:

What Causes the Smell of New & Old Books?

What Causes the Smell of New & Old Books?  

In handy chart form.  
Hat tip to Gerard Saylor.

Today's Vintage Ad


From Bosons To Bigfoot

From Bosons To Bigfoot: Six Science Mysteries That Might Be Solved In 2016 

PaperBack



Laura W. (as told to Roy Talbott & Barbara Hoffman), Confessions of a Part-Time Hippie, Classics Library, 1967

I Miss the Old Days

The Vintage Home #23: House & Garden (November 1973)

John D and me: Stephen King

John D and me: Stephen King

17 Wonderful David Bowie Performances You Should Watch Right Now

17 Wonderful David Bowie Performances You Should Watch Right Now

The Coolest Mugshot Of All Time

How David Bowie Appeared In The Coolest Mugshot Of All Time

Remembering David Bowie: Cracked actor, restless prophet

Remembering David Bowie: Cracked actor, restless prophet

The 24 Best David Bowie Songs

The 24 Best David Bowie Songs

David Bowie, R. I. P.

CNN.com: (CNN)David Bowie, whose incomparable sound and chameleon-like ability to reinvent himself made him a pop music fixture for more than four decades, has died. He was 69.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson and Deb.

The American Dialect Society's Word of the Year

The American Dialect Society's Word of the Year is 'They'

Sunday, January 10, 2016

I'm humming one of the great songs from The Martian as I type.

2016 Golden Globes Winners and Losers

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

Bengals fan arrested for peeing on man at NFL playoff game

Richard Libertini, R. I. P.

Hollywood Reporter: Richard Libertini, the busy character actor who played the insane Central American general Garcia in the 1979 madcap comedy The In-Laws, has died. He was 82.

I Want to Believe!

Honduras to make archeological dig for mysterious ‘White City’: Honduras said Thursday it was starting a major archeological dig for a mysterious, ancient “White City” supposedly hidden in jungle in its northeast that explorers and legends have spoken of for centuries.

Song of the Day

"Let The Church Roll On" - Mahalia Jackson - YouTube:

11 Highlights From the New York Public Library’s New Public Domain Collections

11 Highlights From the New York Public Library’s New Public Domain Collections 

Today's Vintage Ad


1920s Book Jackets from the NYPL Digital Collection

1920s Book Jackets from the NYPL Digital Collection 

PaperBack



C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength, Macmillan, 1977

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Daily Mail Online: André Füzfa from the University of Namur has proposed a method that would allow humans to control gravity, and says it’s achievable with current technologies.

Otis Clay, R. I. P.

NY Daily News: Hall of fame rhythm and blues artist Otis Clay, known as much for his big heart and charitable work in Chicago as for his singing internationally, died Friday. He was 73. The Mississippi-born Clay — whose gruff, tenor-tinged voice on blues songs such as “Trying to Live My Life Without You” varied from his haunting but hopeful baritone on gospel standards like “When the Gates Swing Open” — died suddenly of a heart attack at 6:30 p.m., said his daughter, Ronda Tankson.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Best of Old New York

The NYPL Just Released More Than 180,000 Images. We Picked the Best of Old New York 

The Weird Week in Review

The Weird Week in Review

Yes

Can You Answer These Basic Questions About Texas