Saturday, March 05, 2016

Free Download Through March 31

Up and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible AuthorsUp and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors | Bad Menagerie: This anthology includes 120 authors—who contributed 230 works totaling approximately 1.1 MILLION words of fiction. These pieces all originally appeared in 2014, 2015, or 2016 from writers who are new professionals to the SFF field, and they represent a breathtaking range of work from the next generation of speculative storytelling.

Gayle McCormick, R. I. P.

Billboard: Gayle McCormick, a big-voiced singer who scored a top five hit in the late 1960s with the soul/psych rock band Smith before going solo, died this week following a lengthy battle with cancer. 

I Want to Believe!

Indian state launches search for mythical 'resurrection' herb: Himalayan state officials believe they can locate Sanjeevani Booti, used by the monkey god Hanuman to bring Lakshmana back to life in the Ramayana, with additional resources

Song of the Day

POOR JENNY - Everly Brothers - YouTube:

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

Florida Woman has some competition:  Arkansas woman pleads guilty to biting off ex-boyfriend's eyebrow

Today's Vintage Ad

John D and me: Les Standiford

John D and me: Les Standiford


Gordon Semple, Naughty and Nice, Century Books, 1944

The Golden Age: The Shadow 1931-1949

The Golden Age: The Shadow `931-1949 ~ Cover art by The Rozen Brothers and Graves Gladney

8 Historical Treasures Unwittingly Used as Common Household Items

8 Historical Treasures Unwittingly Used as Common Household Items

Tony Dyson, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Tony Dyson, the special-effects designer who built R2-D2, the squat robot sidekick that beeped and whirred its way through seven Star Wars films, died on Friday at his home on the Maltese island of Gozo. He was 68.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Make Every Vote Count

The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year 2015 Survey  

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Vintage Treasures: Worlds Imagined: 14 Short Science Fiction Novels

Vintage Treasures: Worlds Imagined: 14 Short Science Fiction Novels, Compiled by Robert Silverberg and Martin H. Greenberg

Friday, March 04, 2016

Pat Conroy, R. I. P.

Post and Courier: Pat Conroy, the best-selling novelist and proud adoptive son of the Lowcountry who wrote lyrically about Charleston and unflinchingly about The Citadel, died Friday. He was 70.

Joey Feek, R. I. P. Joey Feek, who with her husband, Rory, formed the award-winning country duo Joey Rory, died Friday, her manager said.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Yes, this is from a parody site . . .

. . . but I like the picture.  Scientists Prove Jesus Walked with Dinosaurs   

Hat tip to Bill Pronzini.

I Want to Believe!

Daily Express: CONSPIRACY theorists are stocking up on food supplies amid fears the world could end in just FOUR days when a total eclipse of the sun, super full moon and staggeringly close asteroid pass of earth are set to happen within 24 hours.

New Story at Beat to a Pulp

BTAP Webzine | Paul D. Marks | Nature of the Beast

How to Steal the Mona Lisa and Six Other World-Famous Treasures -- Taylor Bayouth

Caper fans and potential heist artists, this is the book you've been looking for.  It provides detailed plans for stealing not just the Mona Lisa but the Hope Diamond, the Archaeopteryx Lithographica, Rodin's Thinker, King Tut's death mask, Queen Elizabeth's crown, and the Codex Leicester.

The first step, as always, is the easiest: You have to buy the book.  After that, everything is laid out for you in clear, simple language that takes you step-by-step through the crime, from the planning stages to the aftermath.  There are even diagrams.  

Let's suppose you're going for the Hope Diamond in the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History.   It's so easy to break into the building that you're going to have to do it twice, once to position a Go-Pro camera to steal the password to the computer security system that controls the place.  Piece of cake, as you're even told the number or screws (12) on one of the panels you'll have to remove to get out of the air ducts, which is where you and your trusty folding stepladder will be as you sneak around to reach your goal.  Don't worry about those screws, as you'll also have your cordless drill with you.  All necessary tools are listed.

This is all entertaining stuff, and some of you might get some good story ideas from of it.  Some of you might wind up very rich.  Others might wind up in prison, as I guess I should mention here the disclaimer at the front of the book:  "The material within is intended to be a parody.  Please do not attempt any of the techniques or heists described herein."  We all know they had to put that in there to protect themselves, and I'm sure all the material is authentic.  Check it out.

I Want to Believe!

Scientists develop Matrix-style technique of 'feeding' information directly into your brain 

Song of the Day

Maxine Brown - All In My Mind - YouTube:

Yet Another List I'm Not On

Forbes 2016 World's Billionaires: Meet The Richest People On The Planet

Today's Vintage Ad

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Top Five Secret Agent Novels 


Faith Baldwin, Wife vs. Secretary, Dell, 1943

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot

Find of T206 Ty Cobb Rarities Could Bring $1 Million: “This is one of the greatest discoveries in the history of our hobby involving one of the greatest rarities in baseball cards from arguably the most popular baseball card set ever produced.”

The Dictionary Feud: Faulkner versus Hemingway

The Dictionary Feud: Faulkner versus Hemingway: Dear Quote Investigator: Two major writers of the twentieth century disagreed sharply about the type of vocabulary that was advantageous in literary works. Apparently, Faulkner said that Hemingway had “no courage” because he tightly circumscribed his word choice. Hemingway punched back by stating that he did not need “ten-dollar words”. He also said that Faulkner’s writing had deteriorated because of his dependence on alcohol. Would you please examine this altercation?


Jerry Bruckheimer, Will Smith: Seal Deal for 'Bad Boys 3'

It's National Grammar Day!

Hat tip to Grammarly.

FFB: Robert Silverberg -- Needle in a Timestack

The publication dates of the stories in Needle in a Timestack range from 1958 to 1963, so they're from Robert Silverberg's early period, right up to the beginning of the time when he was about to become known as one of SF's more literary writers.  A couple of these stories hint at what's to come, but most of them are typical fodder for the digests of the era.  They're all carefully plotted, the writing is smooth and professional, but they're not in the top rank of Silverberg's work.

That doesn't mean they aren't enjoyable if you're in the mood for some old-fashioned SF, which I often am.  Then they can be quite a bit of fun.

The book leads off with "The Pain Peddlers," which is one of the better stories in the book, maybe the best, and as a criticism of the media, it's almost prophetic.  "Passport to Sirius" is also a story that also sounds all too possible in our own time, a story of continuous warfare and a man who wants to fight.  What he finds when he gets to the front isn't at all what he expected.  "Birds of a Feather" has the same plot foundation of several Silverberg stories (and many others from the era), about a ship gathering aliens for a zoo on Earth.  It becomes something else, though, a con man vs. con man tale.  It's entertaining but not memorable.  "There Was an Old Woman" is interesting mainly for its style, which is more like that of Silverberg's later stories.  A woman raises her 31 identical sons and trains each one for a specific profession.  Things don't go as she expects, although she never knows it.  "The Shadow of Wings" is a "first contact" story with nothing much to distinguish it.  "Absolutely Inflexible" is, in spite of the collection's title, the only time travel story in the book.  If you've ever read any time-travel stories, you'll see the ending of this one coming from a mile away.  The setup is interesting, though.  "His Brother's Weeper" is one of those stories full of SF trappings that could easily have been set in contemporary times with no SF elements at all.  A supposedly dead man engaged to two women isn't dead, after all, as his brother discovers.  "The Sixth Palace" is a variation on the story of the Sphinx.  A massive robot is guarding a treasure trove.  To get by it, you have to answer its questions.  Not necessarily correctly.  The twist ending kind of helps this one.  "To See the Invisible Man" is another glimpse of the kind of story Silverberg was soon to become famous for, as its set in a society where people become "invisible" for the crime of coldness to their fellows.  "The Iron Chancellor" is a robot-gone-wrong story that would've fit into any '50s digest.  Don't trust a robot with your diet.

Some of the fun in reading these old SF stories is to see the futures imagined by the writers.  In "My Brother's Weeper," there's instantaneous travel to planets millions of miles away, but when a man sitting on his patio gets a phone call, his robot butler has to fetch him into the house to talk.  In most of the stories, things are recorded on tape or wire, and people still use typewriters.  And of course nobody even thinks of a personal computer. This doesn't bother me in the least.  I enjoyed reading the collection, but I'm a geezer and can easily flip my mind back to the '50s to read the stories.  You'll have to decide for yourself.  

Contet listing from ISFDB:
9 • The Pain Peddlers • (1963) • shortstory by Robert Silverberg
22 • Passport to Sirius • (1958) • shortstory by Robert Silverberg
38 • Birds of a Feather • (1958) • novelette by Robert Silverberg
63 • There Was an Old Woman— • (1958) • shortstory by Robert Silverberg
79 • The Shadow of Wings • (1963) • shortstory by Robert Silverberg
94 • Absolutely Inflexible • (1956) • shortstory by Robert Silverberg
109 • His Brother's Weeper • (1959) • shortstory by Robert Silverberg
133 • The Sixth Palace • (1965) • shortstory by Robert Silverberg
148 • To See the Invisible Man • (1963) • shortstory by Robert Silverberg
163 • The Iron Chancellor • (1958) • novelette by Robert Silverberg

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Tony Warren, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Tony Warren, who created the long-running British soap opera “Coronation Street,” died on Tuesday. He was 79.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Murder Never Knocks -- Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

It's the middle of the 1960s, and someone's trying to kill Mike Hammer.  It's not the first or the last time that will happen, and if you've followed Hammer's adventures for any length of time, you know that when hit men show up to kill him, it doesn't work out well for them.  Hammer's hardly even bothered by the fact.  He kind of expects it.  But he'd like to know why someone's gunning for him.  

So would Pat Chambers, Captain of the Homicide Division, as would Velda, Hammer's partner in the P.I. game.  But with Hammer, things are never simple.  There's the matter of a hit-and-run accident in the past and the newsie who witnessed it.  You can shoot at Hammer, and he might not even get mad.  You shoot at one of his friends, and you're in big trouble.

Then there's the matter of the fancy party where Velda and Hammer are bodyguards.  Just a heist, or another attempt on Hammer's life?  

You won't be surprised to learn that all these things are connected, but just how they're connected takes Hammer a while to figure out.

As usual in these posthumous collaborations, Collins is working from material that Spillane left behind, in this case several chapters, notes on the plot and characters, and a draft of the ending.  Once again, the transition between what Spillane wrote and what Collins has added is so smooth that you won't notice any difference.  The historical details are handled with Collins' usual skill, by which I mean that he doesn't try to dazzle you with his research.  The details are there, but they don't intrude on the story, which cooks right along.  No slowdowns allowed.

The shadowy villain has his own agenda, and he has something else, too, in a plot twist that's unlike anything in Spillane's previous work.  It leads to a fine concluding chapter that's both typical and untypical and just about perfect.  This is another outstanding chapter in the Hammer chronicles, so don't miss it.

The Lifelong Censorship of Mae West

The Lifelong Censorship of Mae West 

Song of the Day

Guy Marks - Loving You Has Made Me Bananas [totp2] - YouTube:

I've Been to Three of These Places

Searching for America's Most Eccentric Baltimore

Today's Vintage Ad

Or Maybe You Do

15 Things You Might Not Know About Beatrix Potter


George Bagby (Aaron Marc Stein), Give the Little Corpse a Great Big Hand, Dell, 1953

I Want to Believe!

Incredible Mars picture shows crucifix and ruins of fallen temple on red planet claim UFO hunters 

A Handy Map for Your Next Visit

Map of best hidden bars in New York City   

Link via mental_floss.

I Miss the Old Days

Behind-the-Scenes of Marilyn Monroe's Iconic Flying Skirt  

Link via Messy Nessy.

Classically Awful or Awfully Classic: Van Vogt’s The World of Null-A

Classically Awful or Awfully Classic: Van Vogt’s The World of Null-A

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Gil Hill, R. I. P.

New York Times: Gil Hill, a former police detective and Detroit city councilman who played a salty-tongued police inspector in three “Beverly Hills Cop” films, died on Monday in Detroit. He was 84.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

How Joe R. Lansdale dreamed up Hap and Leonard

How Joe R. Lansdale dreamed up Hap and Leonard

“The Juggling Act of Writing Novels and Short Stories” (by Brendan DuBois)

“The Juggling Act of Writing Novels and Short Stories” (by Brendan DuBois) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: Brendan DuBois’s fiction-writing career began in 1986 in EQMM’s Department of First Stories. As he mentions in this post, he’s had more than 150 short stories published since then, all while also pursuing a successful career as a novelist. Brendan’s considerable and distinguished output spans more than the mystery field. 2016 will see three new DuBois novels added to his body of work. Dark Victory, published in January, is his first science-fiction novel (Baen Books). This month, Midnight Ink released his standalone thriller Night Road, and in November, Storm Cell, the eleventh novel in his mystery series starring Lewis Cole, is due from Pegasus. Brendan is the recipient of many honors for his fiction, including two Shamus awards from the Private Eye Writers of America. Most recently, he tied for second-place for the 2015 EQMM Readers Award, for his story “The Lake Tenant” (EQMM November 2015).—Janet Hutchings

Aileen Baron: R.I.P.

Mystery Fanfare: Aileen Baron: R.I.P.

Pimp -- Ken Bruen & Jason Starr

If you've been reading the collaborations between Ken Bruen and Jason Starr for Hard Case Crime, then you know what to expect in Pimp.  The plot hardly matters, although there is one, because it's secondary to everything else going on.  And there's plenty going on, including graphic sex, graphic violence, and general madcap hilarity.  You won't run across a novel more self-referential or meta than this one anytime soon.

Let me give you an example.  See the cover there to the left?  Great cover, right?  Here's a passage from the book about the cover of a book to be written by one of the characters (pp. 212-213) (all asterisks are mine):

"What the f**k?" Paula shouted. "There's no redhead in the book.  Angela is blonde."


"And what's she doing, reaching for a . . . ."

"A gun."

"And Mr. Oblivious sitting there smoking doesn't notice? What is he, a congenital idiot?"

"He's distracted by her legs."

"Who the f**k is he anyway?  This is not a scene from my g*****n book!  Nothing like this ever happens in it!"

"So what? . . . When has a Hard Case Crime cover ever had anything to do with what's in the book?"

And then of course there's a scene in the book where Angela uses a gun she has strapped to her thigh.

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled review.  Most of the cast members you know and love from the previous books in this series are back, even some of the ones you might have thought were dead.  The setting is Hollywood (mostly), and there lots of shenanigans having to do with betting a novel called Bust made into a TV series.  

Reading this is a little like watching a movie like Airplane.  There are so many jokes flying around that if you don't like one, you'll laugh at the next one.  I laughed a lot, but then I laughed at the previous books as well.  You don't have to have read those to laugh at this one, though.  Grab a copy and have some fun.

Amelia Earhart's Lost Plane Spotted in a 1936 Film

Amelia Earhart's Lost Plane Spotted in a 1936 Film 

New EQMM Podcast

PodOmatic | Best Free Podcasts: This month we feature “The Adventure of the Seven Black Cats” by Ellery Queen, reprinted in EQMM’s January 2016 issue, and originally published in the 1934 short-story collection The Adventures of Ellery Queen. This ingenious whodunit by one of the bestselling mystery writers of all time is read for us by Mark Lagasse.

Song of the Day

Willie Nelson - Beautiful Texas - YouTube:

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 30 Greatest Living Actors Who Have Never Been Nominated For An Oscar 

Today's Vintage Ad

I'm Buying My Ticket to Los Angeles Now

Glass slide will be suspended 1,000 feet above downtown Los Angeles


Charles Gorham, The Future Mister Dolan, Pyramid, 1956

No, not that Paris. The other one.

True West Magazine: Paris Catches Wild West Fever

I Miss the Old Days

Important Things to Know #15: The Beatnik Dictionary 

Bob Dylan’s Secret Archive

Bob Dylan’s Secret Archive   

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

It's Texas Independence Day!

8 things to know about Texas Independence Day

Roomba Bandits WBAGNFARB

Parsippany police seeking Roomba bandits

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

The Trap of Solid Gold: "The Tin Suitcase" ("She Cannot Die")

The Trap of Solid Gold: "The Tin Suitcase" ("She Cannot Die")

Song of the Day

Gary U.S. Bonds - SEVEN DAY WEEKEND - Stereo! 1962 - YouTube:

People Having Really Good Hair Days

Outrageously HUGE pompadours   

Link via Neatorama.

Today's Vintage Ad

The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog: 2016 Derringer Finalists

The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog: 2016 Derringer Finalists: From Derringer Awards Coordinator Tony Rudzki, here are the finalists for 2016. Group voting to determine the winner in each category runs March 1–30. Winners announced March 31.


Erle Stanley Gardner, The Case of the Shoplifter's Shoe, Pocket Books, 1973

Forgotten Hits: 50 Years Ago Today

Forgotten Hits: 50 Years Ago Today

If You Have about 15 Minutes to Spare, This Is Worth a Look

This video shows what ancient Rome actually looked like: It's impossible for anyone to see what ancient Rome looked like in all of its splendor, since we've failed to invent a time machine. But the above video, which shows a 3D rendering of Rome in 320 AD, is about as close as we can get.

Five Forgotten Sylvester Stallone Movies

Stop or my Mom Will Shoot and Rhinestone inexplicably not included.

Five Sylvester Stallone Movies You Probably Haven't Seen But Should

Alice Arlen, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Alice Arlen, a screenwriter who collaborated with Nora Ephron on the 1983 Mike Nichols film “Silkwood,” the story of a lab worker killed in a suspicious car crash en route to meet a reporter to expose what she considered life-threatening dangers at a nuclear plant, died on Monday evening at her home in Manhattan. She was 75.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Overlooked Movies -- Stakeout

Stakeout is a buddy cop movie that I like a lot, partially but not entirely because Richard Dreyfuss is one of my favorite actors.  I've been a fan ever since American Graffiti, and while I never expected him to turn up in a movie like this, he does a terrific job.  So does Emilio Estevz, who plays his partner.  So does the entire cast, for that matter.

The plot, as in most buddy cop movies, is pretty simple.  A woman (Madeline Stowe) is living a quiet life until her former boyfriend (Aidan Quinn) breaks out of prison.  Dreyfuss and Estevez are one of two teams of cops assigned to stake out her house in case the boyfriend shows up.  The other team is made up of Forest Whitaker and Dan Lauria, and a lot of the comedy in the movie comes from the pranks the two teams play on each other to relieve the boredom of the stakeout.  Also, Dreyfuss and Estevez pass the time by trying to stump each other with movie lines.  There's a good joke in one of those.

Also relieving the boredom and adding to the complications is that Dreyfuss falls for Madeline Stowe.  As who wouldn't?  You can pretty much guess where this is heading.  The boyfriend does show up, and there's a drawn-out ending with plenty of action and shooting.  For that matter there's a good bit of action throughout, so the comedy is laced with a lot of violence.

This is yet another one of those movies that I liked a lot but that a good many other people didn't much care for.  So let the buyer beware.


Stakeout (1987) - YouTube:

Monday, February 29, 2016

George Kennedy, R. I. P.

'Naked Gun' actor George Kennedy dead at 91: George Kennedy, whose film and TV roles ran the gamut from a pugilistic prisoner in Cool Hand Luke to a Dallas oil Tycoon and, of course, in the Naked Gun and Airplane movies, has died, the Associated Press reported Monday. He was 91.

Only 99 Cents for a Limited Time

Jump Cut (The Ellie Foreman Mysteries Book 5) - Kindle edition by Libby Fischer Hellmann. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @  Chicago video producer Ellie Foreman has been absent from thriller author Libby Fischer Hellmann's repertoire for almost a decade. Now, in Jump Cut, she's back...and is soon entangled in a web of espionage, murder, and suspicion that threatens to destroy what she holds most dear. 

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

Argument Over Boy Prompts 30-Girl Fight At University Prep

Watch a Typical Day in the Life of a 1990 High School Student

Mental Floss: While many filmmakers have attempted to capture what it was like to be a high school student in the '80s and '90s, few have managed to do so as realistically as Josh Burdick. That’s because Burdick really was a high school student during that era. His 45-minute video, simply called “April 1990—Video I Shot of My Typical Day of a High School Student,” is a time capsule of everyday teenage life in 1990s, simultaneously mundane and completely engrossing.

Song of the Day

Todd Rundgren - Bang The Drum All Day (with lyrics) - YouTube:

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

Two pregnant women fight over man on Valentine’s Day at Olive Garden  

Yet they say romance is dead.
Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

I Found a Penny Last Week

Baseball treasures found in Metro Vancouver attic

Today's Vintage Ad

Hat tip to Art Scott

SWEET 16: The Leap Year #1's

Forgotten Hits: SWEET 16: The Leap Year #1's (2-29-16)


Erle Stanley Gardner, The Case of the Irate Witness, Pocket Books, 1971

This Will Not Come as a Surprise to Readers of this Blog

Crocodiles found guarding drug money in Amsterdam


Vinyl Dynamite #58: Vinyl DYN-O-MITE! 

New Poem at the Five-Two

The Five-Two: Nancy Smahl-Syrop: MISTRUST

The science behind leap years and how they work

The science behind leap years and how they work

In That Case, Ma'am, You Are Free to Go

Woman gets stuck in chimney after breaking into home because she was cold

It's Leap Day!

Leap Day Customs & Traditions

Sunday, February 28, 2016

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

Fart sparks shoot out between rival Spanish gypsy clans

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

Man armed with sword and blowgun crashes U-Haul into Church following police chase  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Free for Kindle for Today Only

The Lawyer: Six Guns at Sundown - Kindle edition by Eric Beetner. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @  Seething hatred spurs The Lawyer forward, with a burning vengeance for his family slaughtered by seven hardened gunslingers. He’s tracking them down, one by one, until every killer is in the ground. His next target, Big Jim Kimbrough, left tracks to the small town of Sundown, Arkansas, where The Lawyer learns his prey has already moved on. 

But he can’t leave after he witnesses a black man named Josiah being dragged behind a horse, . . .

Song of the Day

Sam Cooke & The Soul Stirrers - Farther Along - YouTube:

The "Worst Play Ever on Broadway"

Presenting 'Moose Murders,' the "Worst Play Ever on Broadway" 

Today's Vintage Ad

You Quiero Taco Bell

Taco Bell has subtly become one of the healthiest fast-food chains


Faith Baldwin, Enchanted Oasis, Dell, 1948

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot

Boy finds 3,400-year-old figurine in Israel

Lefty Awards Left Coast Crime

Mystery Fanfare: Lefty Awards Left Coast Crime

Oscars’ Ugliest Smear Campaigns Ever

Oscars’ Ugliest Smear Campaigns Ever

The most scathing reviews of Oscar nominated films

The most scathing reviews of Oscar nominated films

The Most Controversial Moments in Oscars History

The Most Controversial Moments in Oscars History