Saturday, April 15, 2017

Clifton James, R. I. P.

Clifton James Dead: 'James Bond' Sheriff Dies at 96: His long list of roles includes the swaggering, tobacco-spitting Louisiana Sheriff J.W. Pepper in the Bond films.

I Miss the Old Days

101 Things To Love About New York City in 1976

Song of the Day

1950 HITS ARCHIVE: Peter Cottontail - Gene Autry - YouTube:

Kurt Vonnegut’s Greatest Writing Advice

Kurt Vonnegut’s Greatest Writing Advice

Today's Vintage Ad

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

Restoration of Old Army Tank Turns Up $2.5 Million in Gold


Guy Endore, The Werewolf of Paris, Ace, nd

The Differences Between a Crime Novel, Mystery Novel and Thriller Novel

The Differences Between a Crime Novel, Mystery Novel and Thriller Novel

Lesley Stahl: By the Book

Lesley Stahl: By the Book: The journalist and author of “Becoming Grandma” says Ann Patchett’s “Bel Canto” reminded her of Gabriel García Márquez, a high compliment: “My all-time favorite book . . . is ‘Love in the Time of Cholera.’”

Reports on the Death of the Circus Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Reports on the Death of the Circus Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Friday, April 14, 2017

Percy Fawcett’s Doomed Search for the Lost City of Z

Percy Fawcett’s Doomed Search for the Lost City of Z

Song of the Day

Sounds Incorporated - "William Tell Overture" - YouTube:

“Women Writers of Mystery” (by Leah Pennywark)

“Women Writers of Mystery” (by Leah Pennywark) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: In September of 2016 Leah Pennywark appeared on one of the panels for EQMM’s 75th Anniversary Symposium at Columbia University’s Butler Library (available on YouTube and as part of our podcast series!), illuminating the discussion with her extensive knowledge of both EQMM and crime and detective fiction generally. She has recently completed a PhD in American literature with a particular focus on detective fiction. Her work is published in LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory and is forthcoming in Studies in American Indian Literatures. She tells us she’s currently at work on two articles: “the contributions of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine to the development of postmodern literature and the tradition of women’s hard-boiled detective fiction.” She is also planning a book on U.S. detective literature during the Cold War. Her post today centers on some largely forgotten early women writers in our field.—Janet Hutchings

Today's Vintage Ad

All of You Know This Stuff Already

Neatorama: The mysterious femme fatale. The jaded private eye. The rare object worth killing for. Dashiell Hammett invented all these classic elements of noir fiction with his 1930 breakthrough novel, The Maltese Falcon. But how did Hammet dream up this dark, new world of literature? By writing from experience.


Richard Matheson, The Shrinking Man, Gold Medal, second printing,1962

This Will Come as no Surprise to Readers of this Blog

Dinosaur ancestors looked like crocodiles

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Best Snacks & Food to Order at Every MLB Baseball Stadium

Forgotten Hits: April 14th

Forgotten Hits: April 14th: You'll find very few memorable top debuts this week … Percy Sledge hits the chart at #69 with "Out of Left Field" and Otis Redding premiers at #74 with "I Love You More Than Words Can Say" … but newcomer Engelbert Humperdinck will soon make a mark for himself here in The States as "Release Me" (a UK chart-topper for six weeks earlier this year) finally premiers on the US Chart at #76.  (The Guinness World Records British Hit Singles and Albums book refers to Engelbert this way … "Internationally popular cabaret entertainer and easy-on-the-ear vocalist".  I think most of his fans would tend to agree.)

FFB: The Dame's the Game -- Al Fray

An article by Gary Lovisi in Paperback Parade reminded me of Al Fray, all of whose novels I'd read except The Dame's the Game.  So naturally I decided to read it.  

Barney Conroy, who was once a crooked gambler, is now reformed and is a detective working in Las Vegas.  Shelly Tanner comes to town from Los Angeles.  She's looking for someone to help with her husband, who's been suckered into an ongoing dice game that she's convinced is crooked.  Conroy doesn't want to take the job, but when he's beaten up in the casino parking lot after talking to Shelly, he decides he'll investigate. 

The came is crooked, all right, and when Tanner is murdered, Conroy finds himself in trouble with  both the cops and the bad guys.  Nothing new here, but what sets the book apart is Fray's discussion of dice games and how they can be rigged.  He doesn't tell anything new, but he does a good job of explaining things.  The cover suggests that the book might be the first in a series, but a second never appeared.  This was Fray's last novel.  It's entertaining and a fast read.  Lovisi has done some investigating and might have discovered Fray's real name, as well as a reason for his retirement from writing, but there's no way to know for sure.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I Worked for a Duck – Joe Lansdale

I Worked for a Duck – Joe Lansdale

Yes. Yes, I Can.

Can You Get A 5 On This AP English Exam?

Song of the Day

Tom Petty - Learning To Fly - YouTube:

I Miss the Old Days

The First 12 Cost a Penny, But...: In the 1980s and 1990s, Columbia House could do no wrong—as a way to get music, the mail-order service was cheap and easy at first. Then, the bills came.

Today's Vintage Ad


Jack Finney, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Award Books

No Juvenile Jokes, Please

Take a Peek at the Auroras on Uranus

Hillary Clinton’s a Russian spy

Hillary Clinton’s a Russian spy, Jennifer Aniston’s sex swap shame, and own your own alien - in this week’s tabloids

Forgotten Hits: April 13th

Forgotten Hits: April 13th: The Monkees have taken over the top spot on the WLS Chart this week (even though the title was consistently spelled wrong throughout its chart run!) while The Turtles hang on for another week on the WCFL Sound 10 Survey.

A Review of Interest (To Me, Anyway)

Bitter Tea and Mystery: Death on the Move: Bill Crider

Gator Update (Wild Horse Edition)

Wild horse attacks alligator because nature is brutal.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Man arrested in New Jersey McDonald's assault over wrong order: Police have arrested a suspect accused of breaking a New Jersey McDonald's manager's wrist and slashing another employee in a dispute over an incorrect drive-thru order.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Gator Update (Helpful Tips Edition)

Florida issues tips to residents for ‘living with alligators’  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

They Really Are Everywhere

Woman, children report seeing an alligator roaming Rochester   

Hat tip to Steve Stilwell.

Charlie Murphy, R. I. P.

Comedian Charlie Murphy dead at 57: Charlie Murphy, older brother of Eddie Murphy and a comedy stand-up and performer in his own right, has died. 

Murphy died Wednesday in New York of leukemia, according to his representative, Domenick Nati. Murphy was 57. 

He was perhaps best-known for his appearances on Chappelle's Show on Comedy Central. He collaborated with writing his brother's starring films Norbert and Vampire in Brooklyn. He voiced roles in animated TV series that include The Boondocks and Black Jesus.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Dorothy Mengering, R. I. P.

AOL Entertainment: David Letterman's mother, Dorothy Mengering, died at the age of 95, a rep for the Letterman family confirmed to CBS News. Mengering was a regular guest on The Late Show when Letterman was hosting, and made her first appearance on the show during the 1994 Winter Olympics, according to The Hollywood Reporter, and went on to be a correspondent for the Nagano, Japan and Salt Lake City winter games in addition to doing a segment for the London Olympics.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Read Angela Crider Neary's Post about Charleston, SC

Fire Star Press: Behind the Literature II: I previously posted a piece here ( about my discovery that Jack London and Hunter S. Thompson had both once lived in Sonoma County, not far from where I live now.  I was fascinated to imagine these historical literary figures living their lives in some of the same places I now live my own.  What would it be like to run into Jack London at the local saloon, or Hunter S. Thompson at the corner market (or more likely, the local saloon)?  

Hi, Satan! The Devil-Worshiping Pulps of the ’70s

Hi, Satan! The Devil-Worshiping Pulps of the ’70s

Song of the Day

Irma Thomas-Time Is On My Side - YouTube:

Who Needs Pictures?

25 Pictures That Will Confirm You Are Definitely Scared Of Heights

Today's Vintage Ad

I Miss the Old Days

Heartthrobs & Babes of the 70's


Jim Thompson, Wild Town, Signet, 1957

All the Dr. Pepper knockoffs

Photo of all the Dr. Pepper knockoffs 

Linda Hopkins, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Linda Hopkins, whose soaring, gospel-rooted voice was heard on Broadway in the 1970s in “Inner City” and the one-woman show “Me and Bessie,” and in the 1980s in the long-running revue “Black and Blue,” died on Monday in Milwaukee. She was 92.

Alvin, Texas, Inexplicably Not Included

Best Houston suburbs for alligator spotting

Slideshow, but some great pictures.


Netflix Is Making A Ten-Part HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE Series: The project is a modern re-imagining of Shirley Jackson’s classic 1959 novel, The Haunting of Hill House, considered one of the best ghost stories of the 20th century.

A Bonus Forgotten Magazine: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1962

I decided to break out this issue of F&SF because of a comment I read about one of the stories, Dean McLaughlin's "The Voyage Is Ended," which was described as a Clifford Simak pastiche.  Simak being one of my favorites, I felt I needed to have a look.  It's a pretty good story that does capture some of the nostalgic feel of a Simak tale and maybe a little of the style.

After reading that one, I figured that I'd just read the rest of them.  I should preface this by saying that in the 1950s, F&SF was one of my favorite digests.  But then all the digests were my favorites.  Even then I could tell that there were different magazines published different kinds of stories, and when it came to literary SF, F&SF led the way for me.  Which is why I was a bit disappointed in most of this issue.  Fritz Leiber's "The Secret Songs" is New Wave before the New Wave.  Sex, drugs, a different kind of writing style, all the elements are there.  "The Golden Flask" struck me as the kind of story that might've appeared in a 1950s issue of Fantastic.  I knew where it was going from the first and didn't care if it got there.  Dickson's "Shalmanzar" is a fantasy that gave me a smile or two but nothing more.  "Mumbwe Jones" is short and well-written,  but not memorable.  "The Top" is an amusing story about bureaucracies.  "Fruiting Body" is an entertaining magic mushroom story.  "The Roper" is a poem about love and death, like something John the Balladeer might sing.  "Spacial Relationship" is a punning title that answers the question about female companionship for men in space and turns out to be something of a joke that's not very funny.  "The Stupid General" is about a stupid general who turns out to be not so stupid, after all.  In a way, that is.  "What Price Wings" is the only story here that I'd read before.  I can't remember where.  It's a warning about being to angelic.  "Harlan Ellison's "Paulie Charmed the Sleeping Woman" was his first story in F&SF, and it's about ghosts and music.  Slight, but shows Ellison moving away from his earlier work.  "The Gumdrop King" is about a boy in an unhappy home.  He encounters an alien who likes gumdrops.  I liked this one.  The Feghoot will challenge your love of puns, if you have one.  I didn't read the Asimov article. 

Overall, a kind of average issue.  The editor was Avram Davidson, and maybe his tastes and mine just don't agree.  

Table of Contents
The Secret Songs · Fritz Leiber
The Golden Flask · Kendell Foster Crossen
Salmanazar · Gordon R. Dickson
The Voyage Which Is Ended · Dean McLaughlin
Mumbwe Jones · Fred Benton
The Top · George Sumner Albee 
Science: The Light Fantastic · Isaac Asimov
Fruiting Body · Rosel George Brown
The Roper · Theodore R. Cogswell & John Jacob Niles 
Spatial Relationship · Randall Garrett 
The Stupid General · J. T. McIntosh 
What Price Wings? · H. L. Gold
Paulie Charmed the Sleeping Woman · Harlan Ellison
The Gumdrop King · Will Stanton

Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot: LIII · Grendel Briarton 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

J. Geils, R. I . P. John Warren Geils Jr., founder of The J. Geils Band, was found dead in his home Tuesday in Massachusetts. John's body was found in his home in Groton. Police say the death is not suspicious. John's namesake band released their first album in 1970. Their first big hit, "Love Stinks" came in 1980, and they finally scored a number one with "Centerfold" in 1981. The album it came from, "Freeze Frame," was also number one for 4 weeks, and stayed on the charts for 70 weeks.

Health Update

Yesterday, as you know, I had some tests at M.D. Anderson (no math was involved).  Today I got the results from the doctor.  She said that my condition was “stable,” but with the harsh chemo I was getting, stable wasn’t good enough.  She wants improvement.  Who doesn’t?  So she’s starting me on a new form of chemo.  This will require me to take pills, four of them a day.  She told me that a month’s supply was $5000.  The nurse practitioner later said a month’s supply was $8000.  Either way, those are some expensive pills.  To everyone’s surprise, the insurance approved the pills.  I’m sure glad I have insurance.  I start taking the pills tomorrow.  The side-effects will supposedly be somewhat the same as the current chemo, but with a few other things tossed in.  So I’ll just have to see  how I tolerate this stuff.  I tolerated the other chemo just fine, but of course it wasn’t working, so it didn’t matter.  I appreciate all your prayers, good karma, good thoughts,0 and support, so keep it up!

I Miss the Old Days

40 Extraordinary Publicity Color Photos of Elizabeth Taylor for 'The Last Time I Saw Paris' (1954)

Song of the Day

1960 Don Gibson - Just One Time - YouTube:

Maybe I'll Pop Over for a Swim

Texas's Sky Pool on the 42nd floor has great Houston views

Today's Vintage Ad

Life in the Golden Age of Scottish Crime Fiction

Malcolm Mackay: Life in the Golden Age of Scottish Crime Fiction


Don Tracy, Deadly to Bed, Perma Books, 1960

Outrage at Blanco Is Now Available as an Audio Book Outrage at Blanco: An Ellie Taine Thriller (Audible Audio Edition): Bill Crider, John Burlinson, Brash Books: Books

I Miss the Old Days

“Do Me a Solid” – The Top 15 Slang Words of the 1970s

Overlooked Movies -- Blood Father

Before Hollywood forgave Mel Gibson of his manifold sins, he did some B-movies, one of which was last year's Blood Father, and I suspect that some of you overlooked it.  I caught it on cable not long ago, and it turns out that it's a lot of fun.  

The scruffy Gibson is an alcoholic ex-con and admitted scumbag. He hasn't had much contact with his young adult druggie daughter, but she's been missing for a while, and he's trying to find her.  When she calls him, she's in big trouble, being sought by a drug gang and likely to be killed.  Naturally Gibson is going to be there for her.

The action starts early in the movie and hardly lets up for the entire time (I should mention that the movie's a tidy ninety minutes long, which is just about right for this kind of thing).  Lots of shooting, lots of chasing, and even a few laughs, with some calm moments interspersed so you can catch your breath.  Great cast, including William H. Macy and Michael Parks.

Gibson has a couple of speeches at AA meetings in which he appears to be directly apologizing for some of his past actions.  He's making the speeches in character, obviously, so you can decide for yourself about them.

I know some people won't watch this movie just because Gibson's in it, but I found it fast and fun.  Just what I needed at the time I saw it.

Blood Father

Blood Father (2016 Movie – Mel Gibson, Erin Moriarty) - Official Trailer - YouTube:

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Vinyl Detective: The Run-Out Groove -- Andrew Cartmell

In my review of the first book in the Vinyl Detective series, I said I was looking forward to the second book.  It's coming next month, but I got an ARC for review and read it right away.  I liked it even more than the first one.

Once again there's a rare LP involved, but it turns out to be fairly easy to find.  The object of David Quantick's search this time is the son of an iconic '60s singer, who hanged herself after her son disappeared.  Valerian's brother hires Quantick to find the son.  The brother is accompanied by Lucy Tegmark, who's planning to write the definitive biography of Valerian.

As any mystery reader knows, once you start digging into the past, you're going to run into people who have secrets that they'd rather keep hidden, and people are probably going to die.  Sure enough all that happens, and along the way there are a lot of laughs, a lot of collecting lore (and this time paperback books figure in!), and . . . cats.  The cats are great.

The Run-Out Groove is over 400 pages long, but Cartmell's style is so readable and his characters so much fun to visit that I ripped through it in record (no pun intended) time.  Check it out.

The Victorian Teenage Girl Who Entertained Crowds by Overpowering Men

Atlas Obscura: In late 1883, a 15-year-old girl from Polk County, Georgia began a fast climb to national prominence through her exhibitions of a physical strength that appeared to be entirely out of proportion to her willowy frame. She claimed to have gained this seemingly supernatural strength, which she referred to as “the Power,” “the Force” and “the Great Unknown,” during a violent electrical storm.

Song of the Day

The Mills brothers - Across the Alley From the Alamo - YouTube:

I Miss the Old Days

27 Worst ’80s Fashion Trends

Today's Vintage Ad

Testing, 1 . . . 2 . . . 3

I don't do a lot of personal health-related posts here, but I thought I'd give a little update.  The blood work before my 4th chemo treatment had some "markers" that the doctor didn't like.  They seemed to indicate that the chemo wasn't doing its  job.  I went ahead with the 4th chemo, anyway, because it was scheduled and because the doctor said that nothing was for sure.  The 5th chemo would have been this week, but it's not currently on the schedule.  I'm going in for testing today and will be at M.D. Anderson for most of the day and well into the evening.  So any spare good thoughts, prayers, and karma would be appreciated.  Cash won't do me any good at this point, but you can send some if you feel the urge.  I go back tomorrow for the results, and I'll post an update then.



Paul Whelton, In Comes Death, Phantom Books (Australia), 1954

Here's the Plot for Your Next International Caper Novel

The U.S. Thinks North Korea May Have Robbed the New York Federal Reserve: Way back in February 2016, it emerged that $81 million had disappeared from the central bank of Bangladesh’s account at the New York Federal Reserve and reappeared in accounts in the Philippines, in a mysterious act of cyber-robbery that felt straight out of a Hollywood screenplay. Now it turns out that federal prosecutors who have been investigating the situation may have found both the middlemen and the heist’s masterminds—the leaders of a small nuclear-armed international pariah state on the border of China, called North Korea. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

Here's the Plot for Your Next Bibliomystery

The Mystery of the $2.5 Million Rare Book Heist

Forgotten Hits: April 10th

Forgotten Hits: April 10th: It's Nancy and Frank Sinatra who take over the #1 spot on this week's Super Chart as their father / daughter duet "Somethin' Stupid" slides into the #1 spot from the #3 position last week.  (It is the first father / daughter duet to ever hit #1 on the pop charts.)  The Turtles fall to #2 with "Happy Together" after two weeks on top.

24 Celebrity Books That Are Actually Real

I knew about #3.
24 Celebrity Books That Are Actually Real

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Sci-Fi Sundays: Worlds of IF, March 1968

Sci-Fi Sundays: Worlds of IF, March 1968

Song of the Day

Merle Haggard - Jesus,Take A Hold - YouTube:

Eight Secrets of the Taj Mahal

Eight Secrets of the Taj Mahal

Today's Vintage Ad

Avery Island Tabasco Museum and Factory

Atlas Obscura: Deep in southern Louisiana there is an island made of salt, completely surrounded by bayous. Known as a salt dome, this unusual geological formation is home to the fields that grow a unique red pepper, one that’s turned into the iconic hot sauce of just about every pantry and back-bar in the United States: Tabasco.


Joe Barry, Three for the Money, Phantom Books (Australia), 1954

Forged 'Ancient' Statues Fooled Art Experts for Decades

The Forged 'Ancient' Statues That Fooled the Met's Art Experts for Decades

You’re Either Born an Artist Or You’re Not

You’re Either Born an Artist Or You’re Not: [Philipp]Meyer may be a Pulitzer finalist, a recipient of a Guggenheim, and one of the New Yorker‘s “20 Under 40,” but he’s also had a fascinating road to literary prominence: he was a high-school dropout, a trauma ward orderly, and even a Wall Street suit before he found his way to being a famous novelist.

Bob Cerv, R. I. P.

Image result for bob cervNY Daily News: Former Yankee Bob Cerv, who played in three World Series with the Bombers - winning one in 1956 - died Thursday in Blair, Nebraska. He was 91.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

I Miss the Old Days

On This Day in 1959, America Met the Mercury Seven: On April 9, 1959, NASA introduced the Mercury Seven, the first American astronauts. After exhaustive tests that some called "torture," the seven were selected from a pool of more than 500. The criteria for selection were extremely specific, including everything from educational achievement to the ability to withstand sitting in a 130-degree chamber for hours. They were all military test pilots, and they stood 5'11" or shorter, because NASA intended to build small spacecraft.

Tarzan at the Earth’s Core

Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Pellucidar Saga: Tarzan at the Earth’s Core