Saturday, January 14, 2017

Antony Armstrong-Jones, R. I. P.

Closer Weekly: Princess Margaret's ex-husband, photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, passed away on Friday, Jan. 13, the photo agency he previously worked for confirmed to the Daily Mail. He was 86-years-old.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Dick Gautier, R. I. P.

Hollywood Reporter: Dick Gautier, who starred on Broadway in the original production of Bye, Bye Birdie and then famously played Hymie the Robot on the sitcom Get Smart, has died. He was 85.

Forgotten Hits: January 14th

Forgotten Hits: January 14th

The Long, Unusual History of the Pickled Cucumber

The Long, Unusual History of the Pickled Cucumber

Orion, the Man Who Would Be Elvis

Orion, the Man Who Would Be Elvis 

Song of the Day

Orion - Crazy Little Thing Called Love - YouTube:

7 Things You Have In Your Home With Insane Secret Histories

7 Things You Have In Your Home With Insane Secret Histories

Perry Mason Pleads Guilty In Jewelry Heist

Perry Mason Pleads Guilty In Jewelry Heist  

Hat tip to Toby O'Brien.

Today's Vintage Ad


Top 10 Recent Dinosaur Revelations

Top 10 Recent Dinosaur Revelations 

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Robert O. Saber (Milton K. Ozaki), Too Young to Die, Phantom Books (Australia), 1956

Buddy Greco, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Buddy Greco, the jazz pianist, singer and sometime member of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack whose hard-swinging renditions of “The Lady Is a Tramp,” “Mr. Lonely” and “Around the World” were hits in the early 1960s, died on Tuesday in Las Vegas. He was 90.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Hap and Leonard Season 2 Trailer

Hap and Leonard Season 2 Trailer Teases Mucho Mojo, Murder and Mayhem

14 Campy Facts About ‘Ed Wood’

14 Campy Facts About ‘Ed Wood’

Who Is Slender Man?

Who Is Slender Man? Real Story Behind Sightings, Videos & Murder 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Forgotten Hits: January 13th

Forgotten Hits: January 13th

11 Weirdly Spelled Words

11 Weirdly Spelled Words—And How They Got That Way

Song of the Day

Billy Walker - Charlie's Shoes - YouTube:

William Peter Blatty, R. I. P.

William Peter Blatty dead aged 89 as tributes pour in for The Exorcist author: The writer won the Oscar in 1973 for his screenplay, based on his own book that was published in 1971 which told the story of a child possessed by a demon.

The First Super Bowl

The First Super Bowl

Tommy Allsup, R. I. P.

Guitarist Who Won Music's Most Famous Coin Flip Is Dead: It kept Tommy Allsup off Buddy Holly's plane  

Hat tip to Deb.

Today's Vintage Ad


The Millions : Those Who Left Us

The Millions : Those Who Left Us: Select Literary Obituaries from 2016

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Orrie Hitt, Carnival Sin & Playpet (boxed set), Vest Pocket Books, 1962 

40 Words Turning 40 in 2017

40 Words Turning 40 in 2017 

Ask a Librarian: What’s the Strangest Thing You’ve Found in a Library Book?

Ask a Librarian: What’s the Strangest Thing You’ve Found in a Library Book?

FFB: Scaramouche -- Rafael Sabatini

The other day a friend and I were chatting by email about a book he'd just picked up, Scaramouche.  He'd read it and liked it, so I thought I'd give it a try.  The movie has been one of my favorites since I was a kid, and it begins with the book's famous opening line ("He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad"), which even as a kid I knew was one of the greats.  I have to confess that I don't think the book quite lives up to that opening, but it's fun, nevertheless.

Our Hero is Andre-Louis Moreau, the guy to whom the opening line applies.  He's thought to be the illegitimate son of the nobleman who's reared him.  It's the time of the French Revolution, and Moreau is more or less a detached observer of the madness of the world, not taking sides because he sees the futility of both.  When his best friend, a revolutionary, is killed by the Marquis de la Tour d'Azyr because of his dangerous eloquence, Moreau vows revenge and practices some dangerous eloquence of his own.  Forced to flee, he joins a troupe of traveling players and becomes their Scaramouche, a clownish schemer, and his writing and acting elevate the company to near greatness.  Moreau is in love with his leading lady, who is led astray by, you guessed it, the Marquis de la Tour d'Azyr.  

Forced to flee again, Moreau goes to work for a fencing master in Paris and becomes more than just an apt pupil.  After the master's death, Moreau takes over the school and becomes an expert fencer.

Meanwhile a lot is going on, including the French Revolution, Moreau again takes no part.  He smolders with resentment as his supposed cousin, Aline, considers marriage to, you guessed it, the Marquis de la Tour d'Azyr.  In the last third of the book, things begin to whirl along, with plenty of twists that, as Moreau puts it, anyone but a fool would have figured out already.  The reader is the only one who's figured them out, though, so there's a lot of explaining to do and a lot of conversation to be had after the Big Reveal.

If I'm remembering correctly, Sabatini knew five languages, and English was the last one he learned.  I admire anyone who can speak and write in one language, and I'm in awe of someone who can write a bestselling novel in his fifth language.  The novel flows right along, and while it's not action-packed, it's fast-moving.  There's high melodrama, plenty of coincidence, romance (even if Moreau is awfully thick-headed), and even a bit of humor.  The historical material seems spot on to me, but I'm not a history major.  The narration is old-fashioned in a way that bothered me not at all.  I enjoyed it so much that I might even read Captain Blood

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The caves that prove Neanderthals were cannibals

The caves that prove Neanderthals were cannibals

Song of the Day

PROMISES ERIC CLAPTON - YouTube:

Horror movie characters behind the mask

Horror movie characters behind the mask

Today's Vintage Ad


Microwave Memories

Microwave Memories: Do you remember when microwave ovens became standard fixtures in American homes of the 1970s? If you do, you may also recall how cookbooks of the era were filled with recipes for dishes that really had no business being cooked in a microwave. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear…

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Malcolm Marmorstein, Whiffs, Berkley, 1975.

A Brief Survey of the Great American Novel(s)

A Brief Survey of the Great American Novel(s) 

Okay, I'm In

The Coen Brothers Are Doing a TV (and Maybe Movie?) Western Series

A Year in Discovery: The 58 Greatest Finds of 2016

A Year in Discovery: The 58 Greatest Finds of 2016 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

One Down, Five to Go

Thanks to everyone for your words of care and support.  That's the kind of thing that will help get me through this.  Everything went about a smoothly as these things can go, but now you're going to have to get ready for Bald Bill and Other Possible Bills, depending on how the side-effects play out.  "Everybody's different," they keep telling me, so we won't know what's going to happen until it happens.  Or doesn't happen.  Thanks again, and the blog will run as usual tomorrow, I think.

In Calabria -- Peter S. Beagle

Peter S. Beagle is probably best known for The Last Unicorn, a genuine fantasy classic if ever there was one.  Now he has a new novel (really a novella) that also involves unicorns, and it's purely wonderful.

Bianchi is a middle-aged man who lives on an isolated farm in Calabria, where he keeps almost entirely to himself, not counting his occasional visits to the market or the twice weekly (soon to be thrice weekly) visits from the postal carrier.  The farm is an inheritance and the perfect place to hide from the world if you have a sad past like Bianchi's.  He doesn't want any contact with the outside world.

And then a unicorn shows up.  A pregnant unicorn.   That's bound to attract attention, right?  That's really all I want to say about the plot, other than to tell you that Bianchi's life changes in a lot of ways, some of them mundane, some of them magical, all of them fascinating.

In Calabria is a wonderful book, powerfully and poetically written, with a story that held me spellbound.  It's just as well that it's short because I didn't want to stop reading.  If you can read it without laughing, crying, and experiencing that elusive "sense of wonder," then tĂș eres mas macho que yo.  Highly recommended.

Boarding the Chemo Train

If all goes as I expect, I'll be on the way to M.D. Anderson to begin chemo by the time your read this.  I'll be getting a blood test first, and then I'll meet with the doctor, but the chemo seems like a foregone conclusion.  There will be as many as six treatments, unless I get very lucky.  I would prefer to get lucky.  Anyway, keep a good thought for me today.  I'll let you know tomorrow how it went, assuming I feel up to it.

Song of the Day

Bruce Springsteen - Brilliant Disguise - YouTube:

Forgotten Hits: January 11th

Forgotten Hits: January 11th: Big day in the recording studio today as Jimi Hendrix records the hard-rock classic "Purple Haze" and The Hollies lay down "On A Carousel".

Today's Vintage Ad


Back to the Future!

Cassettes are making a comeback! 

What's in a Word?

WHAT’S IN A WORD? | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: As we approach the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, with so much talk in the air of “political correctness,” I thought it timely to re-post a piece I put up on this site on January 22, 2014. —Janet Hutchings

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Amber Dean, Danger Money, Phantom Books (Australia), 1956

I Miss the Old Days

A Car Wash Beauty Pageant, 1951

Nothing is lower than a Beanee Weenee Bandit

Accused Beanee Weenee bandit blames inner ‘thug’ in Fort Pierce  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Myriad year clock

The most complicated timepiece ever made in Japan - the Myriad year clock  

Hat tip to Don Coffin.

How I Came to Write “The Hawaii Murder Case” by Terence Faherty

How I Came to Write “The Hawaii Murder Case” by Terence Faherty

30 Things Turning 30 in 2017

30 Things Turning 30 in 2017

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Five Television Shows Better than their Movie Counterparts

Song of the Day

Bryan Adams - Summer of 69 - YouTube:

Coney Island’s Short-Lived Dreamland

Coney Island’s Short-Lived but Utterly Insane Dreamland

Today's Vintage Ad


The Deliciously Entertaining History Of Pizza In New York City

The Deliciously Entertaining History Of Pizza In New York City: Host Frank Pinello investigates the pizzas of Brooklyn in the premiere of the Munchies series "The Pizza Show"

Great video!

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John Evans (Howard Browne), Halo for Satan, Phantom Books (Australia), 1957

Peek Inside Buffalo's Abandoned Art Deco Train Terminal

Peek Inside Buffalo's Abandoned Art Deco Train Terminal

Yet Another List I'm Not On

10 Bestselling Novels of All-Time 

Overlooked Movies: 100 Rifles

I'm not sure about the definition of spaghetti western, but I know that 100 Rifles was filmed in Spain and has a lot of violent action in it.

Burt Reynolds is Yaqui Joe, whose mother was a Yaqui and whose father was from Alabama (which explains his accent).  He's stolen $6000 from a bank in Arizona to buy rifles for the Yaquis.

Raquel Welch is Sarita, the beautiful revolutionary who's to receive the rifles.

Jim Brown is Lydecker, the lawman who's chased Yaqui Joe into Mexico and is intent on bringing him and the money back.

Fernando Lamas is General Verdugo, who's intent on wiping out the Yaquis.

Eric Braeden is the German "adviser," and Dan O'Herlihy is the representative of the railroad that Vergugo needs.

I don't need to tell you anything about the plot.  Just watch the trailer below.  It tells you the whole movie in under 3 minutes, although it does leave out a few things, including the one thing that surprised me.  At the time of its release, the movie created a bit of a sensation because of the love scenes between Welch and Brown.  I don't think Welch's shower scene bothered anybody.  It's in the trailer.  

Reynolds is pretty good as Yaqui Joe.  This was before his days of stardom.  Brown isn't a great actor, but he has presence.  So does Welch.  Fernando Lamas is a hoot, and O'Herlihy is very good.  There's plenty of action, lots of explosions, and some nice scenery.  Jerry Goldsmith's score is good, too.

100 Rifles

100 Rifles - Trailer - YouTube:

Monday, January 09, 2017

James C. Christensen, R. I. P.

KUTV: Utah artist James C. Christensen has died at the age of 74, according to his family. He died Sunday after an ongoing battle with cancer. Christensen is known for his artwork influenced by myths, fables and fantasies. 

He was born September 26, 1942 and raised in Culver City, California. Christensen studied painting at Brigham Young University and the University of California at Los Angeles before finishing his degree at BYU.

Christensen won all the professional art awards the World Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention could offer, as well as multiple Chesley Awards from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Arts. 

Forgotten Hits: January 9th

Forgotten Hits: January 9th

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee. . . .

Police: Man upset over sandwich triggers barricade situation in Dundalk: An armed man upset someone took a bite out of his grilled-cheese sandwich triggered an hours-long barricade situation Sunday evening in Dundalk, Baltimore County police said.

Greyhound Bus Museum

Greyhound Bus Museum: Greyhound began as an intercity bus line in Minnesota. Its founder, Carl Eric Wickman, would transport miners the two miles from Hibbing to neighboring town of Alice (which had more bars) in his seven seat Hupmobile. The business expanded fast, meeting the needs of an ever more interconnected America.

Song of the Day

DeBarge - Rhythm Of The Night - YouTube:

4 Classic TV Show Deaths

4 Classic TV Show Deaths

Today's Vintage Ad


25 Things Turning 25 in 2017

25 Things Turning 25 in 2017

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Burt Hirschfeld, General Hospital, Lancer Books, 1963

New Poem at The Five-Two

The Five-Two: Peter M. Gordon: BROKEN WINDOW THEORY

The Weird 1969 New Wave Sci-Fi Novel that Correctly Predicted the Current Day

The Millions: Stand on Zanzibar is that rarity among science fiction novels — it really made accurate predictions about the future. The book, published in 1969, is set in the year 2010, and this allows us to make a point-by-point comparison, and marvel at novelist John Brunner’s uncanny ability to anticipate the shape of the world to come. Indeed, his vision of the year 2010 even includes a popular leader named President Obomi — face it, Nate Silver himself couldn’t have done that back in 1969!

Here are the winners of the 2017 Golden Globes

Here are the winners of the 2017 Golden Globes

Michael Moorcock on Arthur C. Clarke

"Close to tears, he left at the intermission": how Stanley Kubrick upset Arthur C Clarke

Back to the Future!

The vinyl jukebox is coming back into production after 25 years

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Forgotten Hits: January 8th

Forgotten Hits: January 8th

Point Nemo

BBC - Earth: Point Nemo is so far from land, the nearest humans are often astronauts.

Song of the Day

GOOMBAY DANCE BAND - Child Of The Sun (by ELUSIA 10) - YouTube:

How 10 Classics Made Their Way to Our Plates

Coming to America: How 10 Classics Made Their Way to Our Plates

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

10 Worst Movies of 2016 

Sylvester Potts, R. I. P.

SoulTracks: We are sad to inform SoulTrackers of the death of Sylvester Potts, a member of the legendary group The Contours for more than a half century.

Today's Vintage Ad


20 Memorable Elvis Presley Quotes

20 Memorable Elvis Presley Quotes: Nearly 40 years after his death, Elvis Presley remains a rock ‘n' roll icon and has yet to be ousted from his position as “The King.” Yet the Tupelo, Mississippi-born, Memphis, Tennessee-raised superstar never took his fame for granted, nor did he forget his roots. On what would have been his 82nd birthday, here are 20 memorable quotes about Elvis’s life and legacy.

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John Gardner, The Liquidator, Fawcett Crest, 1966

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

Rare book worth £1,500 found in Strood recycling bin

Rachel Cusk: By the Book

Rachel Cusk: By the Book

Back to the Future!

Kodak brings back classic Ektachrome