Saturday, April 29, 2017

Agatha Awards: Malice Domestic

Mystery Fanfare: Agatha Awards: Malice Domestic

Grania Davis, R. I. P.

Grania Davis - Wikipedia: Grania Davis (July 17, 1943 - April 28, 2017) was an American author and editor of science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. She was also the primary editor of the posthumous work of her late former-husband, Avram Davidson. Her short stories have appeared in various genre magazines, anthologies, and "best of" collections.[1] The Boss in the Wall (1998, Tachyon Publications with Avram Davidson) was nominated for a Nebula Award in the Best Novella category.[2]

The Essential I.M. Pei

The Essential I.M. Pei 

Song of the Day

The Castle Kings - Loch Lomond - YouTube:

I Miss the Old Days

'30s American Hollywood Actors: The 1930s was part of the Golden Age of Hollywood, when 'actors' were movie stars, and 'films' were genre-based masterpieces. This era contains some of the best actors of all time, many of whom are Academy Award winners, as well as classic film stars.

Today's Vintage Ad

Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day with MBTB!

Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day with MBTB!: Independent Bookstore Day Saturday April 29th!

Who Says TV Is Out of Ideas?

The A.V. Club: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mike Myers is probably the person hosting ABC’s new iteration of The Gong Show. However, no one will confirm this because Myers is going to do the job in character as a British personality named Tommy Maitland.


Adam Knight (Lawrence Lariar), I'll Kill You Next, Phantom Books (Australia), 1957 

The Boston Public Library Leads the Way

The Boston Public Library Has a 'Car Wash' for Books

Why Does It Always Have to be Snakes?

Spotted when I went on my morning constitutional.  I think he was collecting rubber bands.

Forgotten Hits: April 29th

Forgotten Hits: April 29th: Top debuts on the chart this week include Aretha Franklin at #57 with "Respect", which will go on to become one of the biggest records of the '60's, her signature tune and a timeless classic, "Creeque Alley", a new one from The Mamas and the Papas, which premiers at #68, "Him Or Me, What's It Gonna Be" by Paul Revere and the Raiders, in at #71, first week on the chart, "Mirage" by Tommy James and the Shondells, debuting at #76 while their current hit holds on to a Top Five position and "Six O'Clock" by The Lovin' Spoonful, which premiers at #81.

David Grann: By the Book

David Grann: By the Book

Friday, April 28, 2017

Richard "Racehorse" Haynes, R. I. P.

Houston Chronicle: Legendary Houston attorney Richard "Racehorse" Haynes died early this morning, according to a statement from family spokesman and criminal defense lawyer Chris Tritico. He died at 12:58 am with his family by his side after recently celebrating his 90th birthday.  He had had been in declining health for the past several years, said Tritico.

Who Says James Patterson Is Out of Ideas?

James Patterson Plans True Crime Book On Aaron Hernandez

Who Says TV Is Out of Ideas?

‘Roseanne’ Getting Revival With Roseanne Barr, John Goodman, Sara Gilbert

Tenderloin -- Court Haslett

Tenderloin is set in San Francisco in 1978, at the time when Jim Jones has moved his People's Temple out of the city to Guyana.  That doesn't mean his influence is gone, and it doesn't mean that he can't reach out and have someone killed by a very scary enforcer, however, and that's what happens in the novel.

The story is narrated by Sleeper Hayes, a Tenderloin resident who knows the area and a lot more.  He's a former hippie who's a gambler and doesn't mind partaking of drink and drugs from time to time.  He's also an amateur sleuth who gets involved in finding the killer of a hooker, and things get very dangerous for him before it's all over.  The trail of corruption goes right to the top of the city government, and a number of historical personages figure into the plot.

Haslett lays on the Tenderloin local color in just the right amounts, and he also works in some of the music and culture of the era to add to the mix.  If you're looking for a different kind of historical mystery, here it is.  Check it out.

I Miss the Old Days

What became of America's Drive-Thru Fotomat?   A bright and compact little kiosk easily recognisable by its pyramid-shaped gold-coloured roof, usually positioned in a large parking lot outside a strip mall, at its peak in the early 80s, there were over 4,000 Fotomats throughout North America. 

Song of the Day

Gabriel & The Angels - That's Life 1962 - YouTube:

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Gustave Flaubert's Works, Ranked

Today's Vintage Ad

John Waters Interview

John Waters: “I think I am weirdly politically correct”


F. L. Wallace, Three Times a Victim, Phantom Books (Australia), 1958

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales in January, February & March 2017

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales in January, February & March 2017

A Review of Interest (To Me, Anyway)

Kevin's Corner: FFB Review: A Time For Hanging by Bill Crider

FFB: Norstrilia -- Cordwainer Smith (Paul Linebarger)

Here's the opening of Norstrilia:  "Story, place, and time -- these are the essentials.

    The story is simple. There was a boy who bought the planet Earth. We know that, to our cost. It only happened once, and we have taken pains that it will never happen again. He came to Earth, got what he wanted, and got away alive, in a series of remarkable adventures. That's the story."

So now you know the plot.  More or less.  Let me tell you a little more.  In the far future there's a planet named Old North Australia, where there are giant diseased sheep.  From these sheep comes stroon, an immortality drug that can't be synthesized.  It's made the planet enormously rich.  And immortal, so population control is a problem.  At age 18, the youngsters have to pass a test for telepathy.  Fail, and they're killed.  Rod McBan has trouble passing, but he finally does, incurring the wrath of a former friend, who tries to have him killed anyway.  To escape the attempts on his life, Rod, with the aid of his trusty old computer, amasses a giant fortune overnight and buys Old Earth, Manhome.  He goes to Earth, has adventures, and returns to Notstrilia.

No summary can do justice to the richness of Smith's imagination and writing.  I first fell in love with his work when I read a short story called "The Game of Rat and Dragon" many years ago.  Some readers, I've heard, don't fall under Smith's spell, but I did, and it took only that one story to do the trick.  The stories, in fact, are probably the best place to start reading him before coming to this novel.  The tales of the Underpeople, who feature here as well, are as relevant now as they ever were.  Maybe even more relevant.  If you haven't read Smith before, take a look.  You might find yourself fascinated by a writer unlike any other.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Edgar Awards

The Edgar winners. 

PimPage: An Occasional Feature in Which I Call Attention to Books of Possible Interest

Serving Justice: A Noah Milano novella by [Vandersteen, Jochem]Serving Justice: A Noah Milano novella - Kindle edition by Jochem Vandersteen, Keith Dixon, Sean Dexter. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @  When security specialist and son of LA's biggest mobster, Noah Milano, moonshines as a process server and manages to anger a MMA fighter and stumble on a corpse. He's enlisted to prove a beautiful woman didn't killer her husband, the corpse Noah found. Caught in a dangerous web of deception where danger lurks around the corner and it can be very unclear who is friend and who is foe Noah Milano fights for redemption... And to serve justice.

Not Forgotten, Just Unreleased

Sgt Pepper: listen to an unreleased outtake of the Beatles' classic

Four Iconic Writers and the Felines Who Loved Them

Unlikely Cat-Lovers: Four Iconic Writers and the Felines Who Loved Them

Song of the Day


John Waters Summer Camp for Adults

Cult Filmmaker John Waters Is Hosting a Summer Camp for Adults

Today's Vintage Ad

You Want Scary? This Is Scary.

A 30 Second Visual Guide To The Opioid Epidemic In America


Richard Hull, The Murder of my Aunt, Pocket Books, 1947

NASA makes their entire media library publicly accessible and copyright free

DIY Photography: No matter if you enjoy taking or just watching images of space, NASA has a treat for you. They have made their entire collection of images, sounds, and video available and publicly searchable online. It’s 140,000 photos and other resources available for you to see, or even download and use it any way you like.

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Best Car Chases from Bullitt to Mad Max: Fury Road

Forgotten Hits: April 27th

Forgotten Hits: April 27th: Big movers on the chart this week include "Shake A Tail Feather" by James and Bobby Purify (up 18 places from #61 to #43), "Groovin" by The Young Rascals (which climbs from #91 to #48, a move of 43 spots!), "Happy Jack" by The Who (which jumps from #67 to #51), "Portrait Of My Love" by The Tokens (moving from #70 to #56, a move of 14 places), "Melancholy Music Man" by The Righteous Brothers (which climbs from #84 to #59, a move of 25 places), "Little Games" by The Yardbirds, up twenty spots from #80 to #60, "I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman" by Whistling Jack Smith, up thirty spots from #94 to #64 and "My Girl Josephine" by Jerry Jay (which moves from #82 to #65)

Forgotten Music

10 Weird and Wonderful Biographies on the Music of the 1970s

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

14 Deep Facts About ‘Valley of the Dolls’

14 Deep Facts About ‘Valley of the Dolls’

Jonathan Demme, R. I. P.

IndieWire: Jonathan Demme, the filmmaker whose career ranged from the David Byrne documentary “Stop Making Sense” to the Oscar-winning “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Philadelphia,” died this morning in New York. He was 73.

Song of the Day

Fleetwood Mac - Gypsy [with lyrics] - YouTube:

It's Like I Have a Twin!

Edward Gorey, Pack Rat: The famous illustrator was a devoted collector of… well, almost everything.

Today's Vintage Ad

How the 'Servant Girl Annihilator' Terrorized 1880s Austin

Mental Floss: Before Jack the Ripper stalked the streets of London, another midnight murderer was prowling halfway across the world. In Austin, Texas, an individual who became known as the “Servant Girl Annihilator” was responsible for the deaths of eight people between late 1884 and Christmas Eve 1885. Attacking victims in their beds and then dragging them outside to mutilate their bodies, the killer eluded police, private investigators, and mobs of civilians who took to the unpaved streets of newly settled Austin in anger and panic. He—eyewitnesses claimed it was a man—has been called America’s first serial killer, and his crimes remain unsolved to this day.


Frances & Richard Lockridge, Dead as a Dinosaur, Avon, 1952

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Spoilers abound, of course.
The Greatest Resurrections in Literature

I Miss the Old Days

The '60s at 50: Saturday, April 22, 1967: Birth of the Big Mac

William Hjortsberg, R. I. P.

The Rap Sheet: A “Gentle Soul” of Great Accomplishment: The New York City-born Montana novelist who gave us private investigator Harry Angel (in 1978’s Falling Angel), the lively detective pairing of Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini (in 1994’s Nevermore), and a drug-fueled nightmare excursion through 1960s Mexico (in 2015’s Mañana) passed away this last Saturday night of pancreatic cancer. Author William Hjortsberg, who was known to friends simply as “Gatz,” was 76 years old.

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: The Golden Spiders -- Rex Stout

George Kelley thinks The Golden Spiders is the best of the Nero Wolfe series, and Art Scott and Max Allan Collins also rate it highly, so I thought I'd reread it.  I read the edition on the left, since that's the one I have.

After reading it, I find that it's never going to be my favorite (I'm sticking with The Doorbell Rang) for one reason.*  The setup is a good one.  Archie, a bit irritated with Wolfe, brings in a neighborhood kid as a potential client.  The boy says he was running the old windshield-cleaning gag, starting first with the driver's window, when the driver, a woman wearing golden spider earrings, turns to him and says, "Call a cop."  The kid doesn't like cops, so he goes to Wolfe, who also doesn't like cops.  Soon the kid is killed by a hit-and-run driver, as is a woman who comes to Wolfe claiming to have been the woman in the car.  She isn't killed before handing Wolfe a $10,000 check, however, and he intends to earn the money because he doesn't like it that people who come to him for help are being killed with impunity.  Saul, Orrie, and Fred are called in, and the game's afoot.

What they uncover is a scam operating within a charity designed to help displaced persons, and it's a complex situation.  Wolfe figures all out, of course, and he makes an assumption or two that wouldn't occur to most detectives.  That's why he's so good.  Archie has plenty of opportunities for wisecracks and flirts with attractive women.  Both he and Wolfe irritate Inspector Cramer, and all the familiar routines are observed or mentioned.  The food sounds great, although Wolfe is irritated with one particular meal, and that sets everything in motion.  Wonderful stuff for the most part.

*MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT: What sets this book apart from the others in the series (at least in my view) is the level of violence, particularly in one scene set in a garage.  Using a technique called "the crisscross," Archie tortures a man to get information from him. Archie calls it "stimulating" him.  It's not the kind of thing I expected from Archie, but it works well and shows that Archie is a true tough guy.  There's more than torture, too. There's even a shootout.  A good one.  Not the usual thing in a Nero Wolfe book, but done very well.  Still, the torture scene didn't sit well with me, and while I liked the book a lot, it's not going to wind up in my Top 5.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

“The Not-So-Simple Art of Mystery Reviewing” (by Elizabeth Foxwell)

“The Not-So-Simple Art of Mystery Reviewing” (by Elizabeth Foxwell) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: It’s our pleasure this week to present a post by a mystery reviewer. Over the several years during which this blog has been active, we’ve had only a couple of previous posts by members of that important profession. Elizabeth Foxwell reviews mysteries for Publishers Weekly, serves as managing editor of Clues: A Journal of Detection (the oldest U.S. scholarly journal on mystery/detective/crime fiction), and edits the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series. She has received the George N. Dove Award from the Popular Culture Association’s Detective/Mystery Caucus for outstanding contributions to the serious study of mystery and crime fiction.  She is also a writer of short mystery fiction, and an Agatha Award winner, whose stories have appeared in several anthologies. Her post gives a concise overview of the history of critical analysis of mystery fiction.—Janet Hutchings

10 Famous Companies with Unexpected Origins

10 Famous Companies with Unexpected Origins

Song of the Day

Hippy Hippy Shakes - The Swinging Blue Jeans - YouTube:

The Real Zorro?

The Real Zorro? - Neatorama: Every cultural legend has to start someplace, even if it’s from just a kernel of truth, expanded and embellished until it bears no resemblance to the original. Here’s the possible origin of Zorro, the “bold renegade” who “carved a Z with his blade.”

Today's Vintage Ad

I Miss the Old Days

Remembering What a Buck Could Buy in the 1950s and 1960s: A dollar really went far in the 1950s and 1960s — much farther than it does today. Before you get too nostalgic, remember that the average home was worth $7,354, a new Volkswagen Beetle could be yours for $1,280, and tuition at the University of Pennsylvania was $600.


Jan de Hartog, The Distant Shore Book Two: The Sea, Pocket Books, 1953

Coin washer keeps Westin St. Francis' change shiny

SFGate: "There was a time," Holsen said, "when a cabdriver could look at a person after they paid their fare and ask, 'So, how was your stay at the St. Francis?' "

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

For the Love of God, Stop Putting Two Spaces After a Period

Overlooked Movies: Beau Brummell

Beau Brummell is another of those movies that impressed me a lot when I was a kid.  It's one of those big, lavish MGM Technicolor productions that's (very) loosely based on a true story.  If you want history, you'll have to watch something else, though.  The movie's not historically accurate at all and doesn't care to be.  It's entertainment.

Peter Ustinov is the weakling Prince of Wales.  Stewart Granger is the unbending Beau Brummell, who becomes the prince regent's unlikely friend and tries to make him into a man worthy of the crown.  Elizabeth Taylor is the beautiful love interest who has to choose between the excitement and danger of Brummell and the security that someone more stable can offer.   Brummell is something of a con man and rascal, but his affection for the Prince is real.  The story of Brummell's rise and fall is carried off with wit and style, and the ending is [SPOILER] a real tear-jerker.  

I've heard that Beau Brummell was a flop on its original release.  I don't know why, but maybe the fact that it was bit of a downer had something to do with it.  I liked it then, when I liked downers, and I like it now when I usually don't like them.  Check it out and see what you think.

Beau Brummell

Beau Brummell Original Trailer - YouTube:

Monday, April 24, 2017

Robert M. Pirsig, R. I. P.

The Millions: Robert M. Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals, died today at the age of 88, according to a statement released by his publisher. Pirsig’s work explored a system of thought called the “Metaphysics of Quality,” which has been defined as “a thesis that quality is the basis of reality, and that this understanding unifies most East Asian and Western thought.”

The COPS Story

Neatorama: COPS has been a Saturday night TV staple for so long -28 years now- that it’s easy to forget what a groundbreaking show it was when it debuted in 1989.

Song of the Day

Electric Light Orchestra - Calling America - YouTube:

What 2000 Was Supposed To Look Like (in 1958)

It’s a Wonderful World – Tomorrow! What 2000 Was Supposed To Look Like (in 1958)

Today's Vintage Ad

What Every Writer Could Learn from Coaching Little League

Literary Hub: Unlikely as it might appear, there are lessons here for the burgeoning novelist. In fact, if we proceed genre by genre, you will find Little League fields surfeit with dark secrets, unspeakable tragedies, lacerating comedy, budding romance, and even a profound lesson or two about humanity.


Basil Heatter, Sailor's Luck, Lion, 1953

11 Twisted Facts About ‘The Far Side’

11 Twisted Facts About ‘The Far Side’ 

I Miss the Old Days

10 Popular Names You Just Don’t Hear Anymore

Forgotten Hits: April 24th

Forgotten Hits: April 24th: The Monkees top both the album chart AND the singles chart this week with "More Of The Monkees", their second LP and their latest single "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You".  "Somethin' Stupid" by Nancy and Frank Sinatra falls to #2 while "Happy Together" by The Turtles holds at #3.  Tommy James and the Shondells are up a notch from #5 to #4 and The Supremes reach #5 with their latest, "The Happening".

10 Oldest Known Objects Made by Man (and his Ancestors)

10 Oldest Known Objects Made by Man (and his Ancestors)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

No One is Innocent: The Ronnie Biggs Story

No One is Innocent: The Ronnie Biggs Story - Neatorama: From small-time crook to family man to the world’s most famous punk-rocking, beach-basking fugitive, this brash Brit captured the heart of a nation...and drew the ire of Scotland Yard.

Song of the Day

Gerry & The Pacemakers - You'll Never Walk Alone - YouTube:

10 Lethal American Highwaymen History Forgot About

10 Lethal American Highwaymen History Forgot About

Today's Vintage Ad

Warning: Math Is Involved

Redshirts Aren't Likeliest to Die


Ray Bradbury, A Medicine for Melancholy, Bantam

Top 10 International Murder Mysteries From A Century Ago

Top 10 International Murder Mysteries From A Century Ago

The Old Days Live!

The Lexington Candy Shop – New York, New York: The oldest family-run luncheonette in New York still serves food and drinks the old fashioned way, last renovated in 1948.

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Enraged by xylophone, woman dumps pan of grease on man's head 

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Dick Contino, R. I. P.

The Fresno Bee: On the list of famous Fresnans, Dick Contino ranks as a superstar. In the 1950s, Mr. Contino was a high-profile musician and actor who married starlet Leigh Snowden and appeared multiple times on “The Ed Sullivan Show;” more than 40 over his whole career. Author James Ellroy used parts of Mr. Contino’s life and name for his 1994 novella, “Dick Contino’s Blues” and in 1991 the actor was featured heavily in an episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” In 2011, The Showbiz Society honored Mr. Contino at an event in Las Vegas that included the reading of a letter from President Barack Obama.

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Co-workers fight about lunch break at 99 Cents Only store