Saturday, March 12, 2016

Conan by Robert E. Howard ~ The Lancer & Spere Paperbacks

The Golden Age: Conan by Robert E. Howard ~ The Lancer & Spere Paperback Editions ~ Cover art by Frank Frazetta and John Duillo

Song of the Day

Gogi Grant - The Wayward Wind - YouTube:

John D and me: J.A. Jance

John D and me: J.A. Jance

Today's Vintage Ad

I'm the Most Creative Person in the World!

Procrastinating at work makes you more creative, research suggests


Robert Payne, Alexander and the Camp Follower (Alexander the God), Ace, 1954

The Weird Week in Review

The Weird Week in Review

It's Science!

Black Coffee Drinkers More Likely To Be Psychopaths: Study  

Hat tip to Art Scott.

I Want to Believe!

We Could Be Living On The Moon In 10 Years Or Less 

Two Retro-Reviews

Analog, November 1971 and October 1972: Two Retro-Reviews

Friday, March 11, 2016

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee . . .

. . . and now there's the Chomping Charge: Cops: Student, 18, bit off "large portion" of female victim's earlobe

Gogi Grant, R. I. P.

Gogi Grant - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Gogi Grant (September 20, 1924 – March 10, 2016) was an American popular singer. She is best known for her No. 1 hit in 1956, "The Wayward Wind".

Keith Emerson, R. I. P.

Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer dead at 71: Keith Emerson, the renowned keyboardist of British prog-rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer, died Thursday. He was 71.

Resume Speed -- Lawrence Block

A new work by Lawrence Block is always good news.  Recently he's published an e-novella called Resume Speed.  I don't read a lot on my Kindle, but I downloaded this one (of course) and read it last night.

A man who calls himself Bill Thompson gets off the bus in Cross Creek, Montana, to stretch his legs.  He sees a sign advertising a job for a short-order book and decides that he'll stay right there and take the job.  

We know that he's running from something, but we aren't told what.  He seems like a nice guy, and he's great at the new job.  It's something he's done before.  He has a nice enough room in a boarding house, and he gets along well with the restaurant owner.  Pretty soon he's dating a local librarian, and they like each other a lot.  But .  . . what's he running from?

I can say no more about that.  It would be unfair.  What I can say is that you get about 1/3 of a Gold Medal-type novel here (a high compliment, coming from me), and that the ending leaves some questions unanswered.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  It's a deliberate choice, and it's just right for what Block is doing here.  The writing is as smooth and fine as always in a Block story, and I recommend this one highly. 

When the Beatles played a gig and only 18 people showed up

When the Beatles played a gig and only 18 people showed up: The Fab Four play for an audience that barely outnumbers them

Song of the Day

Stephen Stills - Love The One You're With - YouTube:

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

2 arrested after Manatee neighbors fight over noisy dogs 

The Strange Case of Buddy Holly's Final Pair of Glasses

The Strange Case of Buddy Holly's Final Pair of Glasses

Today's Vintage Ad

I Miss the Old Days

Main Street in the 40s: Rare colour photographs capture the cafes, general stores and corner shops that were the heartbeat of small town America 


Nicholas Monsarrat, The Nylon Pirates, Pocket Books, 1962

Mulling around the School Year

‘Homeland Security’ finds homework inside ‘suspicious’ backpack that prompted school evacuation: Students mulled around the school year and the perimeter of the campus as the Department of Homeland Security analyzed the situation, . . ."

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Phase IV is The Greatest Killer Insect Movie Ever Made 

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

World's Chillest Dog Rides Out Storm Aftermath On A Lawn Mower

Clyde Lovellette, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Clyde Lovellette, a bruising Hall of Famer who was one of the first big men in basketball and the first player to win an N.C.A.A. championship, an Olympic gold medal and an N.B.A. title, died on Wednesday at home in North Manchester, Ind. He was 86.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Michael White, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Michael White, a Scottish-born theater and movie producer whose catholic, often risqué taste and devil-may-care attitude helped bring to life “The Rocky Horror Show,” “Oh! Calcutta!” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” died on Monday. He was 80.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

FFB: (Selections from) Science Fiction Thinking Machines -- Groff Conklin, editor

This kind of thing used to happen all the time.  An anthology with a good number of stories would be seriously abridged for its paperback appearance.  Sometimes a second volume of stories would be published, sometimes not.  In this case, the original volume had 22 stories.  The paperback has 12.  All the introductory material has also been cut.

I'll just give a brief idea of what each story in this abbreviated collection is about."Robbie" is the story of a girl and her robot.  Gloria, the girl, becomes attached to Robbie, and her parents, especially her mother, think it's unhealthy.  They get rid of Robbie, with predicable results.  In "Virtuoso" a robot plays a piano. Perfectly.  Eric Frank Russell gives his killer robot in "Boomerang" rules for behavior that aren't like Asimov's rules.  That causes a problem for the robot and its creators.  "The Jester" reminded me a lot of Robert Silverberg's "The Iron Chancellor," which was in the collection I mentioned last week.  Another robot-gone-wrong story that's well written and funny but which is hardly remarkable.  "Skirmish" seemed atypical of Simak to me, although the style is unmistakable.  Joe Crane, a reporter, realizes that machine-like aliens have come to earth and that some of the machines, like his typewriter, are becoming sentient. What's a guy to do?  Allen Bloch's "Men Are Different" is a short-short, and it proves its point.  "Letter to Ellen" by Chan Davis is another story about how people might feel about androids.   Theodore Sturgeon's "The Golden Egg" uses an alien to speculate on what it means to be human.  I had a few words to say about Pohl Anderson's "Sam Hall" last year.  The story is as relevant as ever.   In "Dead End," Wallace Macfarlane shows that while eternal life (sort of) is possible, there are certain side effects.  I like the idea behind "Dumb Waiter" by Walter M. Miller, Jr.  What happens if after the war is over, the machines keep right on going after the ammo runs out?   Repair the central computer or destroy it?  Robert Sherman Townes' "Problem for Emmy" presents the problem of computer consciousness with the kicker in the final line.

Overall an entertaining collection of the Good Old Stuff that might not seem so good now if you can't put yourself back into the frame of mind that existed when the stories were written.  I can see why younger readers might not care for most of them.  As for me, I can remember reading the digests of the '50s that were crammed with stories like this and loving very minute of it.  Nostalgia helps.

Table of Contents from ISFDB.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Joe Tom Haney, R. I. P.

Former A&M, Mexia band director Joe Tom Haney dies at 88: Then a Mexia High School band job became available. The Black Cat Band earned two first divisions at the UIL contest in the spring of '57 and won its first Sweepstakes the following year. Haney stayed in Mexia for the next sixteen years.

Mr. Haney was the band director for my sophomore, junior, and senior years in Mexia High.  He influenced and changed a lot of lives, mine included.

Tommy Red -- Charlie Stella

If you miss Elmore Leonard, give Charlie Stella's Tommy Red a look.  It has dumb bad guys, bad good guys, great dialogue, humor,  and a plot that'll have you guessing about who's going to survive.

The title character is Tommy Dalton, an Irish hit man who freelances for the mob.  He has an ex-wife and three daughters, one of whom is in college and has just been told by the ex that her father is a hit man.  He also has a new job, a hit on an informant who's been fingered by a retired cop.

Tommy makes the touch, but the mob boss who hired him decides that there should be cleanup -- those connected with the hit have to die. Tommy's hard to kill, and he decides that a little revenge is in order.  Lots of people start dying.  The FBI is involved because of the death of the informant, and sometimes it's hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys.  Maybe they're all bad guys, and throughout the narrative Stella reminds the reader of some recent episodes that the police would probably like for us to forget, most prominently the Eric Garner incident.  Even the mob guys think it makes the cops look bad.

There's a lot going on in Tommy Red, and big props to Stella for wrapping it all up in about 150 trade paperback pages.  Good stuff and highly recommended. 

I Want to Believe!

Houston Chronicle: A UFO watcher claims that video footage captured last week shows a "huge UFO using camouflage technology" over downtown San Antonio.

Song of the Day

Tony Sheridan - My Bonnie (Lies Over The Ocean) (With English Intro) (2013 Stereo Remix & Remaster) - YouTube:

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

They can always apply at Chuck E. Cheese. CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Several employees at Golden Corral in the University Area got into a scuffle, sending chairs flying and customers heading for the exit.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Last Living Silent Movie Star

The Last Living Silent Star: Child Actress Baby Peggy Made the Equivalent of $14M a Movie and Lost It All 

Today's Vintage Ad

The Oldest Book Store in America (and Possibly the World)

The Oldest Book Store in America (and Possibly the World) Is Also Haunted


Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums, Signet, 1959

“And Not Forgetting, ‘Wow!’ ” (by Mat Coward)

“And Not Forgetting, ‘Wow!’ ” (by Mat Coward) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: Mat Coward is an extraordinarily versatile writer. He’s the author of many excellent mystery short stories and novels, and has also been widely published in the field of science fiction and fantasy. He has written children’s books, humor, even a long-running gardening column for a daily newspaper. His post today concerns his recent nomination for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best short story, for “On Borrowed Time” (EQMM June 2015). The winner will be announced at the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Awards banquet on April 28 of this year. This isn’t the first time Mat has received such an honor: His January 2000 EQMM story “Twelve of the Little Buggers” was also a nominee for the coveted Edgar. New stories by the British author are coming up soon in both EQMM and Crimewave.—Janet Hutchings

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

Say anything? Complaint over loud 'boom box' music leads to brawl on Spirit Airlines flight

Conan by Robert E. Howard ~ The Weird Tales covers by Margaret Brundage 1933-36

The Golden Age: Conan by Robert E. Howard ~ The Weird Tales covers by Margaret Brundage 1933-36

In Case You Were Wondering

Just How Huge Are New York’s Rats? 

Trigger warning: Features photo of huge rat.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Richard Davalos, R. I. P.

Variety: Actor Richard Davalos, who played James Dean’s brother Aron in Elia Kazan’s 1955 film “East of Eden,” died Tuesday at St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Calif. He was 85.

16 Fun, Escapist Books To Get Your Mind off This Crazy Election Year

16 Fun, Escapist Books To Get Your Mind off This Crazy Election Year  

Hat tip to Art Scott

Full Circle -- Loretta Lynn

Full Circle is a fine album, Loretta Lynn's first one in 12 years.  Lynn may be 83, but her voice is still 33.  She turns in a great mix of oldies and new numbers in that pure country twang right out of Butcher Holler.  You can listen to a lot of country singers today, and their arrangements and voices wouldn't be out of place in a pop performance.  Lynn is the real thing, the thing that country used to be about.  Just listen to her introduction to "Whispering Sea," the first thing she ever wrote.  It's short, but it's worth the price of the album all by itself.  I can't pick a favorite, but I really like the last number, "Lay Me Down," a duet with Willie Nelson.  If you want to hear to octogenarians singing real country better than any two whippersnappers you can name, this is the one to check out.  Let's hope we don't have to wait 12 more years for another album.  

Full tracklist: 

Whispering Sea Introduction
Whispering Sea
Who's Gonna Miss Me?
Black Jack David
Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven
Always on my Mind
Wine Into Water
In the Pines
Band of Gold
Fist City
I Never Will Marry
Everything it Takes (duet with Elvis Costello)

Lay Me Down (duet with Willie Nelson)

More About Those Numbers Stations

The Stupidly Simple Spy Messages No Computer Could Decode

Song of the Day

Jan Howard - Bad Seed - YouTube:

Songwriters Hall Of Fame Announces 2016 Inductees

Songwriters Hall Of Fame Announces 2016 Inductees

Dilys Winn: R.I.P.

Mystery Fanfare: Dilys Winn: R.I.P.

Today's Vintage Ad

Thanks, Science!

Study: Chocolate Makes You Smarter

Check It Out

A blog post from my daughter, and it has pictures!
Fire Star Press: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night


Ernest Haycox, Murder on the Frontier, Pocket Books, 1954

I Miss the Old Days

Vintage Style #47: Men's Fashion Ads for Ladykillers

Jim Steranko ~ The Shadow Covers

The Golden Age: Jim Steranko ~ The Shadow Covers

George Martin, R. I. P.

NY Daily News: Iconic producer George Martin, who worked on most of the Beatles’ recordings and was one of the people referred to as the "Fifth Beatle," died at age 90 on Tuesday, with Fab Four drummer Ringo Starr sharing the news on Twitter.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Vintage Treasures: Try a Little Sturgeon Caviar

Black Gate: Vintage Treasures: Try a Little Sturgeon Caviar

I For One Welcome Our New Rodential Overlords

Zhejiang University scientists control rats remotely using brain implants

A Stabby Day in Central Maine

Central Maine: AUGUSTA — Police say a city woman bought a large kitchen knife, stabbed her husband with it when he came home from work, and then stabbed him again as she drove him to the hospital Friday afternoon.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

This Would Be No Problem for a Geezer Like Me, of Course

An anti-social experiment   

Hat tip to Rick Robinson.

Free for Kindle for a Limited Time

Cinderella Sims (The Classic Crime Library Book 14) - Kindle edition by Lawrence Block. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @  There's no glass slipper in this fairy tale - just a damsel in distress, a bag of cash, and a whole lot of dead bodies. 

A Few Words With “Dying Words” Constructor Arlene Fisher

A Few Words With “Dying Words” Constructor Arlene Fisher | Trace Evidence: Arlene Fisher has constructed more than 100 acrostic puzzles for AHMM. She recently answered some of our questions about her interests and career as a puzzle constructor. Her answers are below—and they include some clues for solving the Dying Words puzzle, which can be found at The Mystery Place and in every issue of AHMM (with the solutions appearing the following issue). You can find more puzzles through our sister publications at Penny Dell Puzzles.

These are funny and accurate. Trump knows lit. Great stuff!

If Donald Trump Reviewed Literary Classics

Song of the Day

Cherry Poppin' Daddies - "Zoot Suit Riot" (original video) - YouTube:

The Dandy Suit that America Banned and Caused a Riot

The Dandy Suit that America Banned and Caused a Riot

Today's Vintage Ad

More Free Books and Stories From Lawrence Block

What’s that, LB? More free stuff?? Wow!!! | Lawrence Block


John Oram (John Oram Thomas),  The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #3: The Copenhagen Affair, Ace, 1965

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

20 Best Last Man on Earth Movies 

John D. MacDonald's Favorite Joke?

The Trap of Solid Gold: Losing One's Head

I Want to Believe!

Top-Secret Underground Alien Base At Yellowstone National Park? Alien UFO Crashes, Explodes Over Old Faithful Geyser, According To UFO Hunters

Includes totally convincing video.

Overlooked Movies -- Flash Gordon (1980)

This is a re-post from 2013.  Ordinarily I wouldn't run a repeat from such a short while back, but I saw an article the other day that makes some good points:  5 reasons 'Flash Gordon' is the most underrated cult classic film of all time.

Since I made most of the same points, I thought I might as well get my comments back out there.

I like just about everything about this movie, and, yes, even the performance of Sam J. Jones is included in that statement.  Max von Sydow, as Ming the Merciless, is great, but let's not overlook Brian Blessed as Voltan and Melody Anderson as Dale Arden.  What?  You don't think she's great?  Well, you're just wrong, that's all.  Timothy Dalton, Topol, and Ornella Muti hold their own.  We don't get to see Peter Wyngarde's face, but his Klytus is still memorable.  If Dr. Zarkov happens to remind you of Seepy Benton, it's probably just a coincidence.

What else do I like?  The color is superb.  The soundtrack by Queen is classic.  Watch the trailer at the link below and see what I mean.  

Sure, it's campy.  Sure, the special effects are cheesy.  That's all intentional, and it works just fine for me.  And don't try to tell me the writers hadn't seen this digest cover.  I won't believe you.  

Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon (trailer) - YouTube:

Monday, March 07, 2016

Paging Shaggy, Fred, Scooby, Velma, and Daphne

Woman vanishes after high-speed chase in 'Scooby' van 

Hat tip to Art Scott.

38 Best First Lines in Novels (YA Edition)

38 Best First Lines in Novels (YA Edition)  

Hat tip to Bill Pronzini.

Free for Kindle for a Limited Time

The Lawyer: The Retributioners - Kindle edition by Wayne D. Dundee. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @   J.D. Miller, aka The Lawyer, continues to hunt the men that slaughtered his family. His next target is Jules Despare who’s been riding with the Selkirk gang robbing banks. When the town of Emmett, Texas, is marked by the hardcases and the local marshal murdered, The Lawyer is asked by the town’s influential residents to track down the reprehensible outfit. But he has little use for the narrow-minded bigots that won’t stand behind the remaining deputy—a black man named Ernest Tell. After Tell resigns, he suggests a partnership with The Lawyer who refuses. It’s obvious, though, these two avengers are gunning for the same men and will eventually work together to settle old scores in THE RETRIBUTIONERS. 

Song of the Day

Pat Boone - I want to hold your hand - 1964 - YouTube:

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

Naked dancing woman on top of big rig ties up 290 traffic in Houston

Bob Dylan Announces Tour and New Album

Bob Dylan Announces Tour and New Album ‘Fallen Angels’ 

I Miss the Old Days

1953: Jackie and JFK, barefoot and newly engaged  

And isn't wonderful that we can't see into the future.

Today's Vintage Ad

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The Best Movie Space Battles 

An Interview with Yours Truly

0612-288 Post-Bill Crider interview with David Alan Binder


J. Hunter Holly (Joan Carol Holly), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 10: The Assassination Affair, Ace, 1967

A Handy List for the Next Time You're in the Slammer

50 Prison Slang Words To Make You Sound Like a Tough Guy 

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot

Hopkins store owner scores 100,000 mint records from Texas basement

Most Unusual Music Video of the Week

Wintergatan - Marble Machine on Vimeo

New Poem at the Five-Two

The Five-Two: Angel Zapata: THE INSIDER

Unknown, April 1941: A Retro-Review

Unknown, April 1941: A Retro-Review

You Never Know When this Info Could Come in Handy

Read A CIA Manual On The Art Of Assassination

Sunday, March 06, 2016

180 Years Ago Today: The Fall of the Alamo

180 Years Ago Today: The Fall of the Alamo.

"A hundred and eighty were challenged by Travis to die . . . ."

The Kingston Trio - Remember The Alamo (HQ) - YouTube:

Ray Tomlinson, R. I. P.

Creator of modern email, Ray Tomlinson, dies at 74: Email existed in a limited capacity before Tomlinson in that electronic messages could be shared amid multiple people within a limited framework. But until his invention in 1971 of the first network person-to-person email there was no way to send something to a specific person at a specific address.

Bones of Real-life Tess of the d’Urbervilles Found?

Bones of Real-life Tess of the d’Urbervilles Found?: Archaeologists may have uncovered the bones of the woman who inspired Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles. While excavating the site of a former prison in Dorchester, the archaeologists located a skull and other remains believed to belong to Elizabeth Martha Brown, who was hanged at the Dorchester prison in 1856. A teenage Hardy was in attendance at her hanging, an experience which left a profound and lasting impact on him.

Nancy Reagan, R. I. P. - Former First Lady Nancy Reagan has died at the age of 94. The wife of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, she was the First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Song of the Day

This Old House - Stuart Hamblin - YouTube:

Gator Update (Watch the Birdie Edition)

Everglades Alligators Keep Birds Safe (and Eat Their Chicks)

Today's Vintage Ad

In Case You Were Wondering

Why There’s No Such Thing As A Brooklyn Accent: The New York accent (also found in New Jersey) is one of the most linguistically strange speech patterns in the country.


H. G. Wells, The First Men in the Moon, Dell, 1947

Jonathan Kellerman: By the Book

Jonathan Kellerman: By the Book 

No Comment Department

Daytime saving: 'Significant risk increase' of a stroke associated with the clocks changing

The Weird Week in Review

The Weird Week in Review