Saturday, March 11, 2017

Phyllis Diller's 53,000 Jokes

Smithsonian: The wild-haired, groundbreaking 20th-century comic may not have had “a million of ‘em,” as some in her profession boasted. But she had at least 53,000 gags, typed out on individual 3x5 cards, in categories ranging from accessories to washing.

Song of the Day

Slade - Mama Weer All Crazee Now - YouTube:

Brutal Facts About The Roman Legions

Brutal Facts About The Roman Legions

Today's Vintage Ad

Here We Go Again

Daylight Savings: 7 Ways Time Change Can Impact Your Health


Frank Diamond, Love Me to Death, Phantom Books (Australia), 1956

I Want to Believe!

10 Modern Incidents That Suggest Portals Really Might Exist

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

Deer Park parent pulls gun in pick up line  

Hat tip to Deb.

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

Construction unearths centuries-old coffins in Philadelphia

Where to hate daylight saving time and where to love it

Andy Woodruff: If you’re on Facebook or Twitter or really are any person in America with friends who say things, you hear it twice a year, in March and November: “LIFE IS THE WORST WHY DO WE HAVE TO CHANGE THE CLOCKS WE SHOULD GET RID OF DAYLIGHT SAVINGS [sic] TIME!!!!!”. Maybe you’re even one of the people saying it.

Let Us Count the Ways

Daylight Saving Time (DST): Why Does Everyone Hate It?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Proof Daylight Saving Time Is Dumb, Dangerous, and Costly

Proof Daylight Saving Time Is Dumb, Dangerous, and Costly  

Hat tip to Deb.

During (and After) WWII, Some States Had Year-Round Daylight Saving Time

During (and After) WWII, Some States Had Year-Round Daylight: A 1963 ‘Time Magazine’ article called it “a chaos of time”

Robert James Waller, R. I. P.

'Bridges of Madison County' Author Robert James Waller Dead at 77: (NEWSER) – Author Robert James Waller, whose best-selling 1992 novel The Bridges of Madison County was turned into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood and a Broadway musical, has died in Texas, according to his literary agency. He was 77. Lucy Childs of Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency said Waller died Thursday or early Friday, the AP reports. Childs did not know the cause but said the author had been ill. In Bridges, which Waller famously wrote in 11 days, a photographer spends four days romancing a war bride from Italy married to a no-nonsense Iowa farmer. Waller's novel reached No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list and stayed on it for more than three years; the Eastwood-directed 1995 movie grossed $182 million worldwide.  

Hat tip to Deb.

Why Do We Still Have Daylight Saving Time?

The Daily Beast: Why Do We Still Have Daylight Saving Time? 2017 marks the 101st anniversary of Daylight Saving Time; Here’s why everything you thought you knew about DST is wrong.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Norse Mythology -- Neil Gaiman

When I was ten or eleven, I read every mythology book I could get my hands on.  In Mexia, Texas, long ago, that wasn't a lot of books, and most of them were retellings of Greek and Roman myths.  But somewhere in there I became familiar with some of the Norse myths, as well.  

Later on, my knowledge of the Greek and Roman stories came in handy, as I taught a course in mythology for several years.  I also taught the first semester of world literature, which included the Ilaid, Odyssey, and The Aeneid, along with a good many Greek dramas.  The Norse stories fell by the wayside, which was why I was so surprised at how well I remembered some of them that Neil Gaiman retells in his new book.

The biggest surprise of all, though, is that a collection of Norse myths has become a big bestseller.  Who would ever have guessed?  Not me.

Gaiman retells the tales in simple prose that reminded me of the books I'd read so long ago.  My memory on that point is vague, but I suspect that Gaiman wanted to recapture some of that simple, straightforward way of telling things.  Naturally he slips in his own stuff, including humor, in the dialogue and rounding out of some of the characters, especially Thor.  One character that doesn't get any rounding is Loki.  When I was a kid, Loki really bothered me.  I could never see any reason for his doing the things he did.  The killing of Balder bothered me a lot.  As a supposedly wiser adult, I have the same problem.  Loki's father was a giant, so maybe that's part of it.  He's clever, he delights in tricks, and he doesn't seem to care for anyone but himself.  Maybe it's motiveless malignity in the Iago manner, but that doesn't seem to be it.  He looks forward to the deaths of the gods and the ending of the world at Ragnarok.

If you know nothing about Norse mythology, this book would be a fine place to learn a bit.  If you know a little but have forgotten a lot, it's probably even better.  Either way, it should occasionally surprise and delight you.

40 Years of Asimov's Science Fiction

Asimov's Science Fiction: Forty Years! by Robert Silverberg

Song of the Day

Dream Police - Cheap Trick - YouTube:

10 Gorilla Guys

10 Gorilla Guys: Hollywood loves gorillas. They are mysterious and scary, yet close enough to human for an actor to play one. Many actors and special effects pros have portrayed gorillas at one time or another in movies such as Gorillas in the Mist or the Planet of the Apes series, but some became particularly known for being "the guy in the gorilla suit." At first, the only requirement for a star gorilla was that one own a gorilla suit. As the competition heated up, these guys had to bring something special to their roles.

Today's Vintage Ad

Monkeyshines: The King Kong Weirdies

Monkeyshines: The King Kong Weirdies: We look back at a few King Kong knockoffs that went off the rails and into cinematic infamy (or obscurity).


John Cooper, Yesterday I Died, Phantom Books (Australia), 1956

The Greatest French Crime Writer You’ve Never Heard Of

The Greatest French Crime Writer You’ve Never Heard Of:  The crime and espionage author Frédéric Dard is without doubt the most prolific and widely read Francophone writer with whom hardly anybody in the English speaking world, even serious crime genre aficionados, is acquainted.

it's About Time

America's First Writers Museum Is Slated to Open in May

Galaxy Science Fiction, September 1953: A Retro-Review

Galaxy Science Fiction, September 1953: A Retro-Review

Nine Novels Free for Armchair Travelers (Link Corrected)

Deeds of Darkness; Deeds of Light: Nine Novels Free for Armchair Travelers: One of the best things about reading a novel is the opportunity to visit new places, or revisit old places through new eyes. Crime Cafe offers a boxed set of nine novels that take you to fascinating settings--Free through March 11.

FFB: The Death Ride -- Neil MacNeil (W. T. Ballad)

Sometimes you just need to read a slick Gold Medal book.  The Death Ride fills the need.  Tony Costaine and Bert McCall are called in to look into a series of deadly accidents at an amusement pier.  They're a pair of seemingly mismatched p.i.'s who are as smart as they are slick, but this time they have a lot of trouble getting a handle on what's going on.  I lost count of the bodies.  There were a lot.  A heck of a lot.

The pier's hampering the development of some exclusive property.  A brother and sister are on opposing sides, and a good deal of money is involved.  So is a lot of drinking.  There's a lot of everything in this book.  There's also a picture of a time when a roller coaster going off the track and killing nine people not only doesn't shut down the park but it doesn't even slow down the attendance at the pier.  There's even a guy doing Sidney Greenstreet doing Kasper Gutman. 

The Costaine/McCall books aren't top shelf Gold Medal, but they're close enough: very well done and a good evening's entertainment.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

PA Woman Owns the Most Fabulous Gator Ever

PA Woman Owns the Most Fabulous Gator Ever  

Hat tip to Don Herron.

10 Great Essays That Should be Made into Films

10 Great Essays That Should be Made into Films

Song of the Day

Warren Zevon - Mr. Bad Example - YouTube:

Or Maybe They're Not Your Favorites

10 Wild Drug Stories About Your Favorite Musicians

Today's Vintage Ad

The King Kong Story

The King Kong Story


B. E. Lowell, And Incidentally Murder, Phantom Books (Australia), 1954

Alfred Hitchcock on Dead Bodies

Alfred Hitchcock on Dead Bodies

I Miss the Old Days

29 Pictures That Show Just How Crazy 1970s Disco Really Was

Hurshel Wiginton, R. I. P.

Oldies Music -- News: Hurshel Wiginton, an arranger and composer of songs such as "Little Band Of Gold" (#21-1963) from James Gilreath and "Road Runner" by the Gants (#46-1965), died Monday (March 6) in Carthage, Tennessee at the age of 79. "Commercial Hurshel", as he was known, led the Nashville Edition group of singers as bassist. They worked on 12,000 recordings, including Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Lobve You" (#53-1982), Elvis Presley's "The Wonder Of You" (#9-1970) and most episodes of TV's "Hee Haw". The Hamilton, Alabama native got his break singing background for Percy Sledge on "When A Man Loves A Woman" (#1) in 1966.

Jim Fuller, R. I. P.

Oldies Music -- News: Jim Fuller, lead guitarist with the Surfaris and co-writer of their hit, "Wipe Out" (#2-1963, #16-1966) died Friday (March 3) in Monrovia, California, The "Godfather of Surf Music" was 69.

Richard Adam "Ritchie Adams" Ziegler, R. I. P.

Oldies Music -- News: Richard Adam "Ritchie Adams" Ziegler, lead singer with the Fireflies on their hit, "You Were Mine" (#21-1959) and writer of such songs as Bobby Lewis' "Tossin' And Turnin'" (#1-1961), Engelbert Humperdinck's "After The Lovin'" (#8-1977) and a number of tunes for Olivia Newton-John's early group Toomorrow, died Monday (March 6). The Brooklyn native was 71. After leaving the Fireflies in 1960, Ritchie continued with a solo career, releasing records for the next twenty years.

Who Says Hollywood Is Out of Ideas?

Den of Geek: Overboard, a prominent example of 1980s cinematic absurdity, is getting a big screen remake. The original 1987 movie was directed by the late Garry Marshall, and starred Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. For the remake? The stars of the reboot will reverse the roles of their original counterparts.

Punctuation inflation!

Punctuation inflation has infected the tabloids!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Lou Duva, R. I. P.

NY Daily News: The Boxing Hall of Famer worked with some of the greatest names in the fight game, including heavyweight champions Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, plus Hector "Macho" Camacho, Vinny Pazienza, Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor and Mark Breland.  

Hat ti p to Jeff Meyerson.

Forgotten Hits: March 8th

Forgotten Hits: March 8th

“When Bob’s Your Uncle” (by G.M. Malliet)

“When Bob’s Your Uncle” (by G.M. Malliet) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: G.M. Malliet is an American, but she favors England, where she lived for several years, as a setting for her fiction. Her debut novel, which appeared in 2008 and introduced series character DCI Arthur St. Just, won an Agatha Award and was nominated for the Anthony, the Macavity, and a Left Coast Crime award. A second Malliet series, starring a former MI5 agent turned vicar, was launched by Macmillan in 2011, and her standalone dark suspense thriller Weycombe is scheduled for release in October of this year. Also an author of short stories, G.M. Malliet has been described ( as possibly “the best mystery author writing in English at the moment (along with Tana French).” Her work first appeared in EQMM in 2014, and a second story, with a brilliantly realized British setting, is featured in our current issue, March/April 2017. A third Malliet story, this time set in the U.S., will be coming up in EQMM soon!—Janet Hutchings

Song of the Day

George Thorogood - Move It on Over - YouTube:

Mysterious cave network used by the Knights Templar

This 'regular’ rabbit hole hides an incredible secret - the entrance to a mysterious cave network used by the Knights Templar 700 years ago

Today's Vintage Ad

I Miss the Old Days

This is probably a repeat, but I ran across these receipts again yesterday and couldn't resist posting them.  A long time gone, and a very different time it was, too.


Edward Ronns (Edward S. Aarons), They All Ran Away, Phantom Books (Australia), 1956

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Which Bond movie is best? The definitive 007 film ranking - from awful to awesome

Do You Want to Believe?

A UFO Book Collecting Primer

This Is Great!

Top Tens: Below are the weekly national top ten hits from 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 years ago as reported by the music industry's two major trade publications Billboard and Cash Box

Neighborhood Azaleas

It's International Women's Day!

Live Updates: Women Around The World Are Taking The Day Off In Protest Of Women’s Rights 

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: The Curious Facts Preceding My Execution -- Donald E. Westlake

When Rick Robinson proclaimed on his blog that he was reading only short stories in February and encouraged others to read more shorts, I mentioned in a comment that I'd read a lot of shorts in previous months, so I was sticking to novels.  And then I happened to run across The Curious Facts Preceding My Execution on my shelves, picked it up, and read right through it.

I found it a mixed bag.  The title story is a variation on James M. Cain, with a narrator who's come up with the perfect way to kill his wife. Except that he didn't take everything in to account, like the fact that they live in the suburbs.  He's never spent a day at home.  That's his undoing.  It's a humorous story, not really like Cain at all, other than the basic plot idea.  "You Put on Some Weight" is a good one.  A thief is released from prison and discovers that things have changed.  He's pretty down about it, but then . . . .  "Sniff" is about a weak man who's blackmailing his boss, except the boss doesn't know it.  Things go wrong because the blackmailer is too cowardly to speak up.  In "Good Night, Good Night" a TV variety show host sits watching his own show as he dies of a gunshot wound and tries to figure out who shot him.  He's such a worthless guy that it couldn've been anyone, and the reader doesn't blame the shooter at all.  The dying man gains no insight into himself, as that kind of person never does.  "Devilishly" was one I didn't care for.  I thought it was kind of silly.  It hinges on revenge at a costume party.  "Murder in Outer Space" is both a mystery and an SF story.  It's clever, but that's all I can say for it.  Given Westlake's falling out with SF, it's interesting that this one was included.  "No Story" is no story, all right.  Sort of a shaggy dog tale, if anything.  We know that "The Sincerest Form of Flattery" is imitation, so what if a man who's tried of his wife sees someone kill a woman and get away with it?  Can he pull it off, too?  Especially if someone sees him do it?  "Just One of those Days" is a jokey story about a perfectly planned bank robbery that goes wrong.  There are always unforeseen complications.  In "Never Shake the Family Tree" a woman discovers that an ancestor of hers was a serial murderer.  There's nothing to be done about that, but what about the descendant of that ancestor who's not courting our narrator and wants to marry her?  This one's clever and fun.  "Just the Lady We're Looking For" is a one-joke story.  Not much there.  "Domestic Intrigue" is another blackmail story, and the victim tries to turn the tables.  You might be interested in how that works out, but I didn't much care.  I was ahead all the way.  When you're "One Man on a Desert Island" without much hope of rescue (and you're not Tom Hanks), there's not much you can do except go mad.  And then you might kill somebody even if there's no one there. If you do, don't confess.  "The Sweetest Man in the World" is far-fetched, but it's kind of funny in its way.  "The Mother of Invention is Worth a Pound of Cure" is another blackmail story with a good twist. 

All in all, I enjoyed these stories.  Westlake is too good a writer not to give you something interesting in even the most minor of them.

Table of Contents:
The Curious Facts Preceding My Execution
You Put On Some Weight
Good Night, Good Night
Murder in Outer Space
No Story
The Sincerest Form of Flattery
Just One of Those Days
Never Shake a Family Tree
Just the Lady We’re Looking For
Domestic Intrigue
One Man on a Desert Island
The Sweetest Man in the World
The Mother of Invention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Man attacked brother for wearing his boxer briefs  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Dime Novels Are Finding A New Audience

Dime Novels Are Finding A New Audience In The Digital Age

Song of the Day

In The Navy - YouTube:

Texas Led the Way

Meet Bessie Coleman, the First Black Woman to Get a Pilot's License

Today's Vintage Ad

Who Says TV Is Out of Ideas?

ABC rebooting 'Battle of the Network Stars' 


Fred Dickinson, Kill 'em with Kindness, Phantom Books (Australia), 1955

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 10 Best Interlinked Short Story Collections

I Miss the Old Days

SWEET JANE: Counselor's Turned-On Bath Scales 1970

The 3D Gimmickry of the ‘King Kong’ Rip-Off ‘A*P*E’

Bad Movie Night: The 3D Gimmickry of the ‘King Kong’ Rip-Off ‘A*P*E’ 

Overlooked Movies: Jane Got a Gun

Jane Got a Gun finally got to theaters last year after a famously troubled production.  It stayed in the theaters in Houston for only a short time and disappeared to TV, which is where I saw it.  I'm always on the lookout for a good western, so I couldn't resist taking a look.  I'd call it okay, maybe Good Minus.

Natalie Portman is Jane, and she's married to Ham Hammond (Noah Emmerich), a former outlaw who saved her from some bad stuff, although her small daughter was left behind.  Ham comes to the cabin severely wounded and warns Jane that the Bishop boys are coming.  This is the gang that he and Jane escaped from, and their leader, John Bishop (Ewan McGregor) is out for revenge.  He and the gang are Very Bad Guys.

Jane goes for help to Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) with whom she was in love before he left for the Civil War.  Thinking he had been killed in the war, she'd headed west to start over with her baby daughter.  After the war he'd searched for her all over, but when he found her, well, it was a bit late.  So he's moody and says he won't help.

But naturally he changes his mind, and when he and Jane take on the Bishop boys, the movie takes off.  Unfortunately, it takes a while to get there, with many flashbacks to fill in the backstory.  The cast is uniformly fine, and the cinematography is really good.  I like it that Natalie Portman seems to be channeling Raquel Welch (Hannie Caulder) now and then, at least in her attire.  I wanted to movie to be better than it is, but it was adequate.  Recommended if you want to see an adequate traditional western.

Jane Got A Gun

Jane Got A Gun - Official Trailer - YouTube:

Monday, March 06, 2017

Robert Osborne, R. I. P.

LA Times: Robert Osborne, who displayed an encyclopedic knowledge — and love — of films and film history as the primary host of Turner Classic Movies, has died in New York, the network said Monday. He was 84.

I Miss the Old Days

Pauses that refreshed  

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Song of the Day

Slim Harpo - Rainin' In My Heart - YouTube:

On the Genius of Daniel Woodrell

On the Genius of Daniel Woodrell, the “Battle-Hardened Bard of Meth Country”

Today's Vintage Ad

The Highs and Lows of King Kong's 84 Years in Movies

Monkey Business: The Highs and Lows of King Kong's 84 Years in Movies

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

Bones found in wall of Heights home of woman who disappeared in 2015


Jack Karney, Knock 'em Dead, Phantom Books (Australia), 1956

Lyle Ritz, R. I. P.

Best Classic Bands: He started out as a virtuoso ukulelist—yes, that is an actual word, meaning one who plays the ukulele—but it was in his capacity as bassist for The Wrecking Crew that Lyle Ritz contributed to best-selling recordings by the likes of the Beach Boys, the Monkees, the Righteous Brothers and Linda Ronstadt, among others.

I Miss the Old Days

33 Color Photos Show Dresses That '40s Young Women Often Wore

Cursive makes a comeback

Cursive makes a comeback 

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 10 Most Collectible Photography Books of All Time

New Poem at The Five-Two

The Five-Two: Lisa Olsson: TWENTY-SEVEN

Gator Update (Sunbathing Edition)

Hundreds of alligators gather at Florida watering hole for sunbathing session  

Great photos at the link.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Valerie Carter, R. I. P.

NY Daily News: The singer and songwriter rose to fame in the 1970s and recorded and performed with acts like James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Don Henley, Linda Ronstadt, Ringo Starr and more.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Day Ringo Starr Got Death Threats

The Day Ringo Starr Got Death Threats - for Being Jewish

Song of the Day

Elvis Presley _ I believe in the man in the sky (1961) - YouTube:

Forgotten Hits: March 5th

Forgotten Hits: March 5th

Today's Vintage Ad

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The Best Medieval Castles in the World


Aylwin Lee Martin, Fear Comes Calling, Phantom Books (Australia), 1954

The World's Most Disappointing Time Capsule?

Miss Belvedere: The World's Most Disappointing Time Capsule?

How did James Bowie die at the Alamo?

No Wounds In His Back: Step aside, David Crockett, just how exactly did James Bowie die at the Alamo?

Sci-Fi Sundays: Galaxy, February 1965

Sci-Fi Sundays: Galaxy, February 1965 

Leading the Way

For More Than 150 Years, Texas Has Had the Power to Secede…From Itself