Saturday, June 11, 2016

How the Rat Pack Got Its Name

How the Rat Pack Got Its Name 

Song of the Day

The Byrds- I Wasn't Born To Follow - YouTube:

Today's Vintage Ad

Paging Seepy Benton

How maths can boost your sex life – well into your 80s

Ol' Two Toe - an alligator tale

Ol' Two Toe - an alligator tale


Evan Lee Heyman, Cain's Hundred, Popular Library, 1961

Macavity Award Nominees 2016

Mystery Fanfare: Macavity Award Nominees 2016

15 Intriguing Facts About the Antikythera Mechanism

15 Intriguing Facts About the Antikythera Mechanism

Antikythera Mechanism Update

Scientists may have found world's oldest mechanical computer

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Bob Dylan Covers   

Hat tip to Walter Satterthwait.

How Edgar Allan Poe Got Himself Kicked Out of the Army

How Edgar Allan Poe Got Himself Kicked Out of the Army 

Friday, June 10, 2016

On the Road Again

By the time you read this, I'll be on the road to the old hometown for a short reunion with some of my high school classmates.  They all think I still look like this. 

I won't be answering e-mail or commenting on the blog for a day or two.  I've scheduled some stuff, though, so the blog will carry on all by itself if all goes well.  Be nice while I'm gone.

Song of the Day

"Coney Island Baby", The Excellents 1962 - YouTube:

I Miss the Old Days

Vintage photos from the Coney Island of yesteryear

Today's Vintage Ad

I Want to Believe!

Does Image Beamed From Mars Show Alien's Skull?


Jess Shelton, Daktari, Ace, 1966

Gordie Howe, R. I. P.

 NY Daily News: Howe, the legendary Hall of Fame Canadian right wing known for his scoring prowess, his willingness to fight, and his career longevity playing 25 of his 26 NHL seasons for the Detroit Red Wings – died Friday morning in Ohio, according to numerous reports, including the Hockey News’ Ken Campbell.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Or Maybe You Have

The Most Valuable Signature on the Declaration of Independence Belongs To Someone You've Never Heard of 


Tampa Bay Times: A remake of 1984’s Splash is now in the works, according to It turns out that producer Brian Grazer, who co-founded Imagine Entertainment with Ron Howard (who directed the original flick), thinks it’s time for a contemporary reboot.

Amazing Stories, October 1962: A Retro-Review

Amazing Stories, October 1962: A Retro-Review

FFB: Before They Were Giants -- James L. Sutter, editor

The illustrious George Kelley reviewed this one years ago, but I'm always behind the curve.  I did, however, review Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings, all of which are based on the same idea: publishing the first stories of famous authors.  In those books, each story was in most cases accompanied by the author's commentary on it.  James L. Sutter takes a slightly different approach.  Each story is accompanied by an interview with the author, and while the interviews do touch on the stories, they range a little farther afield.  Sutter wanted to include in his book writers who weren't in the volumes I mentioned above and who would be available for an interview. 

I've commented on at least one of these stories before, Cory Doctorow's "Craphound," a very good first story.  China Miéville cheats a little by offering a story that no one knew was his first story.  It was published when he was 14 and had heard about but not read Ridley Walker.  Considering those two things, it's an amazing piece, and it's pretty amazing on its own, even aside from that.  Charles Stross says he didn't want his story to be reprinted and didn't even want to re-read it, but he allowed it, anyway.  Several of the writers have amusing anecdotes about how their first stories came about.  R. A. Salvatore's comes to mind.

This is another of those books in which the supplementary material is as entertaining as the works it collects.  If you enjoy SF or just reading interviews with writers, you'll get a kick out of this one.

Introduction: where it all began /​ by James L. Sutter
The Guy with the eyes /​ by Spider Robinson
Fragments of a hologram rose /​ by William Gibson
A Long way back /​ by Ben Bova
Possible to rue /​ by Piers Anthony
Craphound /​ by Cory Doctorow
Highway 61 revisited /​ by China Miéville
In Pierson's orchestra /​ by Kim Stanley Robinson
Destroyers /​ by Greg Bear
Out of phase /​ by Joe Haldeman
The Coldest place /​ by Larry Niven
Mirrors and burnstone /​ by Nicola Griffith
Just a hint /​ by David Brin
A Sparkle for Homer /​ by R.A. Salvatore
The Boys /​ by Charles Stross
Ginungagap /​ by Michael Swanwick.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Free for Kindle for a Limited Time

History Retweets Itself: Texas Edition by [Rodgers, Bill]History Retweets Itself: Texas Edition - Kindle edition by Bill Rodgers. Humor & Entertainment Kindle eBooks @

Shamus Award Nominees: Private Eye Writers of America

Mystery Fanfare: Shamus Award Nominees: Private Eye Writers of America

50 great moments for Trekkies to celebrate

Star Trek's 50th: 50 great moments for Trekkies to celebrate

Song of the Day

The Fabulous Thunderbirds-Tuff Enuff - YouTube:

Gator Update (Taking a Nip Edition)

Watch: Alligator bites man on the nipple 

I'm Glad I Retired Long Ago

The Craziest Demands of College Kids in 2016

Today's Vintage Ad

Your State's Favorite Reality TV Show



Helen Reilly, The Doll's Trunk Murder, Popular Library, 1949

I Miss the Old Days

Retrospace: TV Guide #18: Fall Preview 1989

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

20 Great Murder Mystery Movies That Are Worth Your Time

For all You Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop Fans

18 Play-Along Facts About Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop


How to Travel Safely With a Crocodile 

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Yellowstone visitor feared dead

Yellowstone visitor feared dead after falling into hot spring  

Hat tip to Art Scott, who says, "'Park officials' should consult the 1947 Nero Wolfe novella, 'Man Alive' (in Three Doors to Death), in which a man fakes his own death by staging an apparent suicide jumping into a geyser."

“Sisters in Crime and ‘A Currency of Generosity’” (by Leslie Budewitz)

“Sisters in Crime and ‘A Currency of Generosity’” (by Leslie Budewitz) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: It’s been several years since Leslie Budewitz’s fiction has appeared in EQMM. In the intervening time she’s had stories published elsewhere, including in our sister magazine, AHMM, and she has two novel-length series running.  She tells EQMM that she “blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and the Northwest in the Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries and the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, set in Jewel Bay, Montana.” Leslie has also written nonfiction in the genre; she is a practicing lawyer and her book Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure was a critical success, winning an Agatha Award in 2011. In fact, Leslie is the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She has recently taken on yet another role in the mystery field as president of Sisters in Crime—the subject of today’s post. If, after reading her tribute to this ground-breaking organization you’d like to learn how to join, visit—Janet Hutchings

Cursive Update

Why Are We Still Teaching Kids Cursive?

Song of the Day

The Monkees - "She Makes Me Laugh" [Official Lyric Video] - YouTube:

How Waffle House became the ‘Florida man’ of restaurant chains

Meth clowns, nude brawls and shootouts: How Waffle House became the ‘Florida man’ of restaurant chains

Today's Vintage Ad

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

50 Most Stylish Cars of All Time  

Link via The Presurfer.


Howard Liss, The MonkeesPopular Library, 1966

I Miss the Old Days

Found Photographs of Perfect American Road Trips, Fifty Years Too Late

The Strangest Con In Rock History

The True Story Of The Fake Zombies, The Strangest Con In Rock History: In 1969, the Zombies had a huge hit single, despite having broken up two years earlier. To meet the unexpected demand, one promoter did the only sensible thing: Hire four kids from Texas to tour America pretending to be a defunct British psych-rock band.

Galaxy Science Fiction, May 1953: A Retro-Review

Galaxy Science Fiction, May 1953: A Retro-Review

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Theresa Saldana, R. I. P.

Variety: Theresa Saldana, who starred on “The Commish” and in “Raging Bull” alongside Joe Pesci, died Monday in Los Angeles. She had been hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai but no cause of death has been given.  She was 61.

I think this pretty much settles who'll win

I, Cthulhu, endorse Donald Trump: We will win, together, Cthulhu and Trump. We will win, and Cthulhu shall prevail. In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu lies dreaming a new dream and that dream is the American Dream.

Gator Update (Dining Edition)

Alligator spotted with body in its mouth, Lakeland police say

Butt Crack Bandits WBAGNFARB

‘Butt crack bandit’ steals plants from Turlock restaurant

Miss Lizzie Is Back!

New York Nocturne: The Return of Miss Lizzie: Walter Satterthwait: 9781504028127: Books  Lizzie Borden and Amanda Burton reunite to solve the case of a grisly murder among Jazz Age New York’s elite in this riveting mystery from bestselling author Walter Satterthwait.

This Explains a Lot

People Who Grow Up Around Books Are More Successful, Study Suggests: A new study published in the Economic Journal found that men who had access to books from a young age tended to make more money over the course of their lives, Quartz reported.

Song of the Day

Once upon a time there was a small regional mystery convention in Dallas, Texas.  It was held annually for several years, and one of the people I met there was Rick Centner.  He played a mean guitar and mentioned that he'd once had a group that recorded a song on the Fantasy label in 1964.  Until now I hadn't heard the song.  As it turns out, it's pretty darn good, a nice number in the Buddy Holly vein.


8 important TV shows that were lost or destroyed

8 important TV shows that were lost or destroyed

Warren Ripley Interview with Paul Bishop (Part 1)

Storme warnings in the publishing world - Venture Galleries

Today's Vintage Ad

Flubbed Headlines

Neatorama: These are 100% honest-to-goodness headlines. Can you figure out what they were trying to say?


Steve Fisher, The Sheltering Night, Gold Medal, 1952

The Trap of Solid Gold: "The Fraud That Paid Off"

The Trap of Solid Gold: "The Fraud That Paid Off"

Spaghetti Western Fans Take Note

unseen footage from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly  

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Paris Hilton Update

Paris Hilton looks glamorous as she returns to LA after seeing Nicky in NYC   

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Overlooked Movies: The Truth about Charlie

Pretend you're a Hollywood movie producer wondering what to do next.  You start thinking about what a wonderful movie Charade was, and it comes to you: Remake!  

Instead of Audrey Hepburn, you can get Thandie Newton!  And instead of Cary Grant you can get . . . Mark Wahlberg!  What could possibly go wrong?  

The answer to that rhetorical question is in the previous sentences.

Not that Thandie Newton is bad.  I thought she'd have a better career than she's had, in fact, although she's no Audrey Hepburn.  But putting Mark Wahlberg in Cary Grant's part?  No way that was going to work.  The supporting players aren't all that great, either, although they're okay.

The plot of the movie is essentially the same as that of Charade, so if you've seen that one, you know what's going to happen.  Jonathan Demme directed, and he put in a few little touches, like having Charles Aznavour sing a number, but they don't help.  Peter Stone, who wrote the screenplay for Charade, wouldn't let his name be used in the credits.

Remakes aren't necessarily bad.  They had to do The Maltese Falcon three times to get it right.  In this case, however, stick to the original.  You can't go wrong there.

The Truth About Charlie

The Truth About Charlie - Trailer - YouTube:

Monday, June 06, 2016

Gator Update (Good Manners Edition)

Polite alligator uses crosswalk in Florida to cross the street

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

1-Star Review for Overfed Betta Fish Nets $1M Lawsuit: – In what amounts to much ado about a Betta fish, Ars Technica picks up the case of a Texas couple who went on vacation last year, and did what many traveling pet owners do: They hired a pet-sitting service, a simple act that has now resulted in "numerous death and rape threats" and a $1 million lawsuit. Allow us to explain how we got here

Peter Shaffer, R. I. P.

BuzzFeed News: Peter Shaffer, the British playwright celebrated for his canonical works Equus and Amadeus, died Monday, according to his literary agent. He was 90.  

Hat tip to Deb.

Antiques Fate -- Barbara Allan

It's no secret that I'm a fan of this series starring Vivian and Brandy Borne, as I've reviewed quite a few of the books previously.  It's also no secret that "Barbara Allan" is, in reality, a mild-mannered reporter for a great . . . no, wait, I'm getting a little confused.  It's no secret that Barbara Allan is, in reality, Barbara and Max Allan Collins.

As you regular readers know, Vivian and Brandy are a mother-and-daughter (okay, not really; it's complicated) team of antiques dealers and amateur sleuths, sort of like Nick and Nora Charles, but with less booze and more drugs (totally legal, of course -- lithium Prozac, and insulin).  The little dog on the cover is Sushi (who gets the insulin), not Asta.

While waiting for production to begin on their reality TV series, Vivian and Brandy take a trip to Old York, a determinedly retro town, where Vivian is going to perform her one-woman show of Macbeth, or as she prefers to call it even when not in the theater, "the Scottish play."  She'll distinguish each character with a different hat.  Vivian is as self-confident as any woman in fiction.  She knows she'll be a smash hit.

[Aside: I once saw Howard Waldrop do a reading of "Thirty Minutes over Broadway! Jetboy's Last Adventure," his only story in George R. R. Martin's Wild Card series, by using this technique.  It was swell.]

You won't be surprised to learn that almost as soon as Vivian and Brandy arrive in Old York, people start to die in ways that appear accidental but that Vivian is sure are murder.  (Her self-confidence isn't limited to her faith in her thespic talents.)  The results of her and Brandy's investigations are both hilarious and suspenseful, and Vivian does get to perform the Scottish play, with unexpected results.

The small-town politics and characters all ring true, and laughs abound.  Most of the book is told in the first-person by Brandy, but Vivian always gets one chapter.  Here she gets a bit more, and there's some wonderfully funny meta material in her parts of the book.  As usual, this one is highly recommended.

[Aside #2: Reading this was a little spooky, as I'm just about to finish writing a Sheriff Rhodes book called Dead, to Begin With, which is about a murder in a small-town theater and in which the victim dies in much the same way as one of the victims in Antiques Fate.  Purely coincidental, which is why I'm mentioning it here.  I wouldn't want you to read my book in 2017 and think I stole anything.]

Kitten Update!

Pet Spotlight: Crider’s Kittens | Crimespree Magazine

Bobby Curtola, R. I. P.

CBC News: A teen idol in Canada during the early '60s, Curtola also made his mark internationally in 1962 with the singles Fortune Teller and Aladdin.

I'll Just Have a Burger, Thanks

10 Ancient Recipes You Can Try Today

Song of the Day

Buddy Holly - I'm Gonna Love You Too - YouTube:

Happy Birthday to the Drive-In Movie Theater!

Happy Birthday to the Drive-In Movie Theater!

Today's Vintage Ad

Worth a Try?

English Teacher Re-Titles Classic Poems As Clickbait In Last-Ditch Effort To Trick Students Into Learning


Charlie Avery Harris, Macking Gangster, Holloway House, 1976

30 Vintage Ray Bradbury Book Covers

I deslided these for your viewing pleasure.
30 Vintage Ray Bradbury Book Covers 

You Know You Want One

See How This Machine Will Fold Your Laundry So You Don’t Have To

I Want to Believe!

Man claims to have found Bigfoot skull  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

I Want to Believe!

Daily Express: A RESPECTED astronomer sensationally suggested NASA has been covering up the existence of a second sun in our solar system and the fabled Nibiru planet, during a live broadcast.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

JOHN D AND ME: Lynne Barrett

JOHN D AND ME: Lynne Barrett

Song of the Day

Dolly Parton - Power In The Blood - YouTube:

The Weird Week in Review

The Weird Week in Review

Today's Vintage Ad

Whatever happened to Bobbie Gentry?

Whatever happened to Bobbie Gentry? In search of country music’s great vanished star. 


L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Airmont, 1965

Art Deco Airport in Brooklyn

There’s an Art Deco Airport Lying Ruined in Brooklyn

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Well, all of you except Jeff Meyerson, who's going to disagree about #11.
The 25 Most Rewatchable Movies Of All Time

I Want to Believe!

Video reveals ‘insane’ phenomenon: Does this footage show an alien spaceship being sucked into a portal in the sky?