Friday, August 18, 2017

Alan Hale Jr. "the Skipper"

Alan Hale Jr. "the Skipper" - Neatorama

Song of the Day

(23) Dear One by Larry Finnegan 1962 - YouTube:

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Five H.P. Lovecraft Stories You Should Actually Read in 2017

Today's Vintage Ad

I Miss the Old Days

The Body Beautiful – 47 Glamorous Photos of Marie McDonald in the 1940s: Marie McDonald (1923-1965) was a leggy, voluptuous blonde starlet who pursued her career with a vengeance but found little reward in the end. Her parents divorced when Marie was just 6 years old. Marie's mother remarried and the new family moved to Yonkers, New York, where she attended Roosevelt High School and excelled in piano and wrote for the school newspaper.

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Dorine B. Clark, Gutter Star, Intimate Novel, 1954

Dino Update

'Most bizarre dinosaur ever found' is missing evolutionary link

Piker

Shelf life: novelist Hanya Yanagihara on living with 12,000 books | Books

FFB: Turn on the Heat -- Erle Stanley Gardner

Now that Hard  Case Crime has issued the heretofore unpublished first novel in Erle Stanley Gardner's Cool and Lam series (The Knife Slipped), the next logical step was to reprint the second book in the series, Turn on the Heat.  I'd never read this one before, so it was as obscure to me as the unpublished novel (Turn on the Heat has been out of physical print for more than 50 years), and I'm grateful to Hard Case for releasing it and calling my attention it.  Cool and Lam are fun to read about, and Turn on the Heat has them in fine form.

The plot's almost impossible for me to lay out in simple form, but I can say that it begins with the disappearance of a woman twenty years before the action starts.  Now a lot of people want to find her, and one of them hires Cool and Lam to do the work for him.   The search takes Donald to the small town from which the woman disappeared, where he meets an attractive young woman, tangles with a crooked (and tough and mean) cop, gets mixed up in a lot of local politics, and generally stirs things up.  Murder ensues.

As usual, people and things are not always what they seem, and Lam put himself in and Cool in some tricky legal situations, or maybe I should say near-illegal situations, with Cool worrying about jail but liking the idea of a big payoff so much that the risks are worth it.

And the payoff does come, both figuratively and literally, as Lam ties everything together, and you see that Cool, who reminds us every twenty pages or so how smart he is, is right. 

I hope Hard Case plans to reissue more of the Cool and Lam books, as they've as much fun as ever.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Page 69 Test: "Dead, to Begin With"

The Page 69 Test: "Dead, to Begin With"

Fast Times at Ridgemont High at 35

Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Cameron Crowe on Film’s 35th Anniversary 

Song of the Day

(22) Bonnie Tyler - It's A Heartache (VIDEO) (Best Quality!) - YouTube:

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The Scariest 25 Minutes on U.S. Television

Today's Vintage Ad


Yes, Dr Pepper Is Included

10 Snack Foods Originally Sold as Medicines 

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Simms Albert, Pound of Flesh, Intimate Novel, 1953

I Miss the Old Days

1970s stock photos were even more awkward than today

I suspect the same goes for books

Millennials don’t really care about classic movies: A new study finds that less than a quarter of millennials have watched a film from start to finish that was made back in the 1940s or 50s and only a third have seen one from the 1960s.

How WWII Saved 'The Great Gatsby' From Obscurity

How WWII Saved 'The Great Gatsby' From Obscurity

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Top 10 Hidden Grave Sites Found With Satellite Images

Top 10 Hidden Grave Sites Found With Satellite Images

Song of the Day

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Man's widow, girlfriend have brawl at funeral home during viewing

Elvis Presley: 1977 Obituary

Elvis Presley: 1977 Obituary on Anniversary of Death

Today's Vintage Ad


I Miss the Old Days

25 Beautiful Photos of Women Who Defined Rock Music in the 1960s and 1970s

On Endings -- Janet Hutchings, Editor of EQMM

ON ENDINGS | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: Recently I was asked to serve on a short-story panel at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in Toronto (October 12-15) that will attempt to provide advice to new writers on various aspects of craft. The panel’s moderator, frequent EQMM and AHMM contributor James Lincoln Warren, asked each panelist to provide a list of topics for discussion. That got me thinking about endings.

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Bruce Manning, Off Limits, Intimate Novel, 1951

A Sports Car is Born

A Sports Car is Born: One measure of the desirability of a sports car is whether or not it has teenagers drooling over it before they’re even old enough to drive. Here’s the story of one of the most drool-worthy cars in auto history. (See how long it takes you to guess which car we’re talking about.)  

When I was a kid, our next-door neighbor was a car salesman.  I got to ride in the first one of these cars ever to appear in Mexia, Texas.

Collecting Vintage Postcards

Collecting Vintage Postcards: Postcards (sometimes spelled out in two words as "post cards") became popular at the turn of the 20th century, especially for sending short messages to friends and relatives. They were collected right from the start, and are still sought after today by collectors of pop culture, photography, advertising, wartime memorabilia, local history, and many other categories.

Bonus FFB for Wednesday: Silence -- Thomas Perry

This is a little bit of a cheat, since I don't usually write about books I don't finish, but I thought I'd make an exception just this once.  It's rare for me not to finish a book once I've started, and I never thought I wouldn't finish one by Thomas Perry, who's entertained me many times.  Silence didn't work for me, though.

I should have known it was trouble when I saw that it was well over 400 pages long with fairly small print.  I'm not a fan of long books, but Perry's such an expert at pacing, I didn't think the length would be a problem.  I was wrong.

Here's why. Perry seems to have intended this to be a character-driven thriller, which is fine, although I think thrillers are generally plot driven.  I got bogged down in all the backstories for the characters in Silence.  There's so much backstory in the first 120 pages (which is as far as I got) that there's enough material for a couple of other books.  Maybe all this stuff will pay off later in the book, but not for me.  The thing that drove me to put the book down was the lengthy backstory (eight or nine pages) of one character, who's then killed only a few pages later.  I figured enough was enough.  I'll be reading other Thomas Perry books, no question about that, but this one was a disappointment.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Writers Read: Bill Crider

Writers Read: Bill Crider: Crider's newest novel is Dead, to Begin With, the 24th Dan Rhodes Mystery. Recently I asked the author about what he was reading.

B.K. Stevens: R.I.P.

Mystery Fanfare: B.K. Stevens: R.I.P.: Such sad and unexpected news. Bonnie Stevens: R.I.P. She will be missed by so many in the mystery community. Sending sympathy to her family and friends.

The Best Trick U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves Ever Pulled on a Criminal

The Best Trick U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves Ever Pulled on a Criminal

Song of the Day

This is the first recorded version.  The Kingston Trio didn't have a hit with it, however.
(24) Let's Get Together - YouTube:

He Gets Around

Rescuers discover body in Modesto creek is Dracula  

Hat tip to Art Scott.

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Stephen King's 10 Most Terrifying Human Villains

Today's Vintage Ad


41 Brand Names People Use as Generic Terms

41 Brand Names People Use as Generic Terms

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Kathie Reed, Shack Woman, Intimate Novel, 1953

10 Crime-Fighting Tricks the Bad Guys Didn’t See Coming

10 Crime-Fighting Tricks the Bad Guys Didn’t See Coming

Second Glance: ‘Cop Land’

Second Glance: The Scorsese-esque Melancholy of ‘Cop Land’: James Mangold's 1997 police corruption drama boasts a jaw-dropping cast, headed up by a startlingly natural Sylvester Stallone.

Overlooked Movies: Bulldog Drummond (1929)

Bulldog Drummond was made at the very beginning of the sound era and was Ronald Colman's first talkie.  He was one of the lucky silent stars who had the right kind of voice for talkies, or for just about anything. In this movie he shows a talent for acting and a natural charm that made him a star in both silent and talking films.

This isn't true of everyone in the movie.  Some of the acting seems stuck in another era (I found Lawrence Grant as Dr. Lakington especially annoying) as do some of the film-making techniques.  Still, I enjoyed watching this.

Drummond is a demoblized officer who finds himself bored with life outside the military. He says he's too rich to work and wants excitement, so he places a newspaper ad offering his services in exchange for excitement.  He gets a lot of responses, but the one he chooses comes from Phyllis Benton (Joan Bennett), who wants him to rescue her uncle from a hospital where he's supposedly being treated for a nervous breakdown.  She believes something fishy is going on, and of course it is.  The villains, dressed throughout in evening clothes, want the uncle's signature on a paper turning his worldly goods over to them.  Drummond sets about the rescue, both helped and hindered by his friend Algy, the alleged comic relief, and by his valet.

There are escapes and pursuits and disguises, and it's all good fun up until the end when there's a gratuitous (to me) killing, in which the tone is all off.  And then there's "the circus gag," which is pretty hard to swallow.  

Many more Drummond adventures on film followed this one, but I believe that Colman was in only one more.  This movie's nearly 90 years old now, and it holds up surprisingly well for the most part, especially Colman's acting, although I doubt I could convince any whippersnappers of this.  I'm glad I watched it and recommend it for historical reasons if nothing else.

Monday, August 14, 2017

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Man Hit Brother With Bat Over Tacos

Top 10 Remarkable Escapes Across The Berlin Wall

Top 10 Remarkable Escapes Across The Berlin Wall

Song of the Day

(22) Ruth Brown - This Little Girl's Gone Rockin' - YouTube:

I Miss the Old Days

Before Ziggy: Rarely Seen Photographs of a Young David Bowie Posed for the Cover of His Debut Album 

Today's Vintage Ad


50 Essential Historical Fiction Books

50 Essential Historical Fiction Books: Whether or not you consider yourself a fan of historical fiction, you've heard the names Hilary Mantel, Eleanor Catton, Anthony Doerr and Kristin Hannah repeatedly over recent years. No longer dismissed as bodice-rippers rife with anachronisms or dreary textbooks dressed up in barely discernible plots, historical fiction is gaining the respect of critics and readers alike, regularly appearing on shortlists for major literary awards and on bestseller lists around the world.

Joseph Bologna, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Joseph Bologna, who looked like the quintessential tough guy but couldn’t seem to resist writing and playing sensitive male characters who longed for love and commitment in films like “Lovers and Other Strangers” and “Made for Each Other,” died on Sunday in Duarte, Calif., near Pasadena. He was 82.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

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Anthony Scott, Ten Toes Up, Exotic Novel, 1951

Treasure Hunters Who Met An Untimely Fate

Top 10 Treasure Hunters Who Met An Untimely Fate

One of the Most Reprinted English Books Ever

This Obscure Fishing Book is One of the Most Reprinted English Books Ever

Forgotten Hits: August 14th

Forgotten Hits: August 14th

A SuperChart, with commentary.

In that case, sir, you are free to go

Police: Man destroys liquor store construction site, blames 'hookah-smoking caterpillar'   

Hat tip to Lawrence Person.

The Great 78 Project

The Great 78 Project: The Internet Archive has a project going in an attempt to save as many old sound recordings as possible. These are songs recorded on 78 rpm records made between 1898 and the 1950s, when 33 and 45 rpm records replaced them.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Samaritans -- Jonathan Lynn

Samaritans is a sad, scary, and very funny book about healthcare in America.  Samaritans is a hospital in Washington, D.C., and it has plenty of problems.  It's losing money, and it's poorly managed.  So in desperation the board hires Max Green, a man with no experience in running a hospital, to be its new CEO.  Green has been managing a Las Vegas casino, and he's going to run Samaritans like a business.  He plans for the hospital, and for himself, to make money.  Lots and lots of money.

How's he going to do that?  To start with he's going to hire superstar doctors.  To pay them, he'll have to cut costs elsewhere, but who cares about people in the low-paying jobs?  It's the Big Names that count.  This is just the first of many bad (but good for Green and the bottom line) ideas, another of which is that patients are just customers.   They have to pay for what they get.  As Green puts it,  “People can’t have what they can’t afford.  That’s what got America into this economic mess – people wanting something for nothing."
   
Things go pretty well at first, but eventually the luck runs out, and Green's schemes and corner-cutting begin to catch up with him.  Green has to resort to, well, you can't really call it murder, can you?  

You'll laugh a lot when you read Samaritans, but it will be a hollow laughter because you'll realize that what you're reading is all too possible.  This is satire with a real bite.  Check it out.

The Beatles' First #1 Song

The Beatles' First #1 Song: The Beatles' first record "Love Me Do" was released on October 5, 1962. It was a moderate success, peaking at #17 on the national music charts. Now, the band needed a good, strong follow-up song. "Please Please Me" was written entirely by John Lennon.

Song of the Day

(22) Johnny Cash - Sunday Morning Coming Down - YouTube:

The Planting of Judge Roy Bean

The Planting of Judge Roy Bean: Some of the legends are true.

Today's Vintage Ad


How a German Mathematician Took Responsibility for an Ancient Peruvian Artifact

How a German Mathematician Took Responsibility for an Ancient Peruvian Artifact: Maria Reiche lived in a shack in the desert with the Nazca Lines for 40 years

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Luther Gordon, Any Man's Girl, Exotic Novel, 1949

Elvis Presley, 40 years after his death, remains an icon and a cautionary tale

Elvis Presley, 40 years after his death, remains an icon and a cautionary tale 

10 Rare Recently Discovered Religious Artifacts

10 Rare Recently Discovered Religious Artifacts

When London Bridge Moved … to Arizona?

When London Bridge Moved … to Arizona?