Friday, July 22, 2016

Worse news

Very aggressive form of carcinoma. Looks bad. Love to you all. 

FFB: Rash -- Pete Hautman

Summertime is rerun time, USA.  This comes from December 21, 2006.

A lot of the best writing around these days is in YA novels. If you don't believe me, read one. Try Nancy Werlin, for example, or Pete Hautman.

Bruce Taylor might not have a high opinion of Steve Stilwell's movie IQ, but surely he'd never argue with him about writers. It was Steve who told me several years ago about Hautman's first YA novel, Mr. Was, a wonderful book. And last year Hautman won the National Book Award for Godless.

Hautman's also the author of a number of fine, funny adult crime novels. I don't know how that career's been going, but I get the impression that the books haven't sold as well as they should have. Doesn't matter, I guess, in one way, since the YA career's going so well.

Rash is Hautman's latest. It's set a toward the end of this century, in the USSA (the United Safer States of America), where no one takes a risk, where anything that might endanger you or someone else has been outlawed, where you can go to prison for dropping an apricot on the ground if someone slips on it. Bo Marsten is from a family of criminals. Both his father and his brother are in the pen, and Bo seems highly likely to join them.

Sure enough, he does, and the book becomes something different from what you might have been expecting. It's sort of a cross between The Longest Yard and Holes, but it's really nothing like that. It also doesn't offer a lot of easy answers. Plus it has laughs. No wonder Hautman keeps on winning awards and piling up the readers. Check it out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Prisoner Who Built Miniature Carnivals Out of Toothpicks

The Folsom Prisoner Who Built Functional Miniature Carnivals Out of Toothpicks

A Bit of Bad News

I just got a call from my doctor.  He wants me to check into the hospital asap, as he thinks I might be having kidney failure.  This can't be good.  The blog will sort of be on hiatus, except for some things I've already scheduled.  Keep a good thought for me.

Song of the Day

Skip & Flip - Cherry Pie - YouTube:

Gary S . Paxton, R. I. P.

R.I.P. Gary S . Paxton of Skip and Flip 1939-2016: Gary S. Paxton, one half of Skip & Flip and, later, a successful producer and songwriter, has died at the age of 77. No details have been given on the cause of death.

Today's Vintage Ad

A brief history of TV shows' opening credit sequences

A brief history of TV shows' opening credit sequences


J. B. O'Sullivan, Don't Hang Me too High, Pocket Books, 1956

I Miss the Old Days

Rocket Slides and Monkey Bars: Chasing the Vanishing Playgrounds of Our Youth 

Here's Nicolas Cage As Your Favorite Pokémon

Behold, Here's Nicolas Cage As Your Favorite Pokémon

Croc Update

Thai crocodile farm's licence suspended after safety concerns raised

Overlooked Movies: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is, of course, a quite recent movie, but I think it qualifies as overlooked because not many people saw it.  Did you?

The movie is based on the TV series that is by now remembered mainly by folks of the geezer persuasion (that would be me).  I really liked the first season of the show, but I thought it went downhill a bit after that.  It was hard to beat the combo of the suave cool of Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughan) and the hot young sex symbol (yes, really) Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum).  The movie can't really capture the vibe that the TV series had back in the old days.

Solo (Henry Cavill) and Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) didn't have a backstory on the TV series, so naturally we have to have yet another origin story movie.  Solo, it seems was a great thief, and to avoid prison after being caught he has to work for the CIA.  Kuryakin is a Russian agent and near superman with a bad temper. They're forced to work together by their bosses to avert (of course) the destruction of the world by nasty Nazi remnants in the Cold War world.  They're helped (and hindered) by Alicia Virkander, who wears the Carnaby Street look very well, indeed.  Mr. Waverley is played by Hugh Grant, who's very good.

There's a lot of action, a bit of wit, and some gorgeous color, but Cavill and Hammer aren't going to make anybody forget Vaughan and McCallum.  The plot is the same old, same old.  The movie was directed by Guy Ritchie, which is enough to turn some people off from the start.

Not me, though.  I found it entertaining and frequently amusing.  If the sequel they set up at the end ever gets made (highly doubtful), I'd watch.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. - Official Trailer 1 [HD] - YouTube:

Monday, July 18, 2016

Recurring Dreams: The City

I have several recurring dreams.  One of them is about a city.  It's not a real city.  It's a dream city, but it has buildings and streets like any other city.  Sort of.  Sometimes the streets are narrow and sometimes they're wide.  It depends on whether I'm walking or driving in the city.

The buildings are like other buildings in other cities.  Almost.  There are subtle differences.  The building I visit most in these dreams is a movie theater.  It's old and shabby, sort of like a second-run theater from the '70s.  I pass by it in nearly every dream of the city, and sometimes I stop and look it over.  I've even been to a movie or two inside it.

There are several used bookstores in the city, and I spend a lot of time looking for them.  I've been to all of them at least once, but usually I have trouble finding them.  When I do find them, they might have only one or two books, or there will be a lot of books but nothing of interest to me.  One of the stores has two floors of books but only few books on each floor.  When I do find a lot of books, I find that I can't read the titles on the spines.

I've dreamed of this city for years now.  Some of the buildings are as familiar to me as the real buildings I see every day.  Especially the movie theater.

I have no idea what any of this means, if anything.  It's just a dream, after all.

Ten ‘lost’ books you should read now

Ten ‘lost’ books you should read now  

Hat tip to Rick Robinson.

Guest Blogger: Bill Crider - How to Write a Novel

Guest Blogger: Bill Crider - How to Write a Novel (Click for Comments) - Debra H. Goldstein

Forgotten Hits: 50 Years Ago Today

Forgotten Hits: 50 Years Ago Today (July 18th): On July 18th, 1966, the body of Rock And Roll Star Bobby Fuller was found dead parked inside his vehicle. His entire body had been saturated with gasoline and he was lying face down in the front seat of the car with an open gas can beside him. The doors and windows were closed ... but not locked.

Song of the Day

Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys Good Old Rock N Roll - YouTube:

I Miss the Old Days

Vintage Rides and Drive-Thru Trees

Today's Vintage Ad

Or Not

Watch Hours of '80s and '90s TV Commercials


Seldon Truss, Why Slug a Postman, Pocket Books, 1952

10 Gender Stereotypes That Used To Be Different

10 Gender Stereotypes That Used To Be Different

I Want to Believe!

Bizarre UFO snapped over World Trade Center Ground Zero

The Eye of the Sahara

The Eye of the Sahara is still a mystery 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

In That Case, Sir, You Are Free to Go

‘I just like pigs’: Millersville man found drunk and naked in a hog barn

I Miss the Old Days

Disneyland Opened Today in 1955

Song of the Day

Pete Fountain - Just A Closer Walk With Thee - YouTube:

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Top 12 Summer Road Trip Movies

Today's Vintage Ad

50 million year old mushroom found trapped in amber

50 million year old mushroom found trapped in amber


Robert Caine Frazer (John Creasey), Mark Kilby and the Secret Syndicate, Pocket Books, 1960

Paging George Kelley.

The Best New Way to Experience Niagara Falls Is By Zipline

Bonnie Brown, R. I. P.

NY Daily News: LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Bonnie Brown, one of three siblings whose smooth harmonies as the Browns influenced generations of singers from the Beatles to Lady Antebellum, died Saturday at age 77.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Who Said It First?

Elementary, My Dear Watson | Quote Investigator

Some Reviews of Interest (To Me, Anyway)

Kevin's Corner: Double Take Review: "THE BLACKLIN COUNTY FILES" by Bill Crider

Far too Easy

How Well Do You Know Basic English Grammar