Saturday, May 13, 2017


Malaphors:  Combine malapropisms and mixed metaphors, and you've got a malaphor. It's a "mixture of two idioms, creating a sort of malaprop in metaphor form." A famous example is the song "We'll Burn That Bridge When We Get There," although that was intentional.

Song of the Day

Tommy Boyce And Bobby Hart Alice Long (You're Still My Favorite Girlfriend) - YouTube:

The Hass Avocado Mother Tree

The Hass Avocado Mother Tree: About 80% of all U.S. avocados are descendants of Rudolph Hass's glorious tree. 

Today's Vintage Ad

R. L. Stine, Master of Fear

R. L. Stine, Master of Fear: The bestselling author you read as a kid on how he's made scary stories his life's work, as told to Jen Doll.


Victoria Lincoln, Out from Eden, Pocket Books, 1957

2017 Locus Awards Finalists

2017 Locus Awards Finalists: The Locus Science Fiction Foundation has announced the top ten finalists in each category of the 2017 Locus Awards.

The Week in Literary Film and TV News

The Week in Literary Film and TV News 

Forgotten Hits: May 13th

Forgotten Hits: May 13th:  The Super Summer Survey

Jo Nesbo: By the Book

Jo Nesbo: By the Book: The author of “The Thirst” would invite Charles Bukowski, Jim Thompson and Ernest Hemingway to his literary dinner party: “Partly because I can’t cook and for this party, I probably wouldn’t have to.”

Why People Love Southern Gothic

Why People Love Southern Gothic 

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Wild Legacy of America's Most Eccentric Roadside Attraction

Atlas Obscura: By birthright, Wild Bill was a sideshow man, and he loved anything that could make people stop and look and wonder. The store is crowded with vintage posters and bobbleheads, nesting dolls and pennants, buttons and beads. Hidden among these gems are still greater treasures—a mummified cat, Pee-wee Herman’s bike, a giant sock monkey, a whale rib, a portrait of P.T. Barnum priced at $5,000, a mechanized clown named Laughing Louie, and the Trap Man, a sculpture made of old hunting traps. In the back, there is an old Heidelberg press, and rows of shelves stacked with posters that the shop sells wholesale.

Song of the Day

Swingtown- Steve Miller Band - YouTube:

Paging Sheriff Dan Rhodes

Bold emu stops traffic and avoids police on New Mexico highway

Today's Vintage Ad

The Rest He Just Wasted

How Nicolas Cage blew $150 million on mansions, his own private island—and a real dinosaur skull


Jessamyn West, Cress Delahanty, Pocket Books, 1957

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

Houston is America's most diverse city, and others are finally starting to notice

The world's oldest bookshop still in operation

Livraria Bertrand – Lisbon, Portugal: The world's oldest bookshop still in operation.

FFB: The Verse by the Side of the Road -- Frank Rowsome, Jr.

When I was a kid, one of the pleasures of taking a drive was reading the Buma-Shave signs.  You have to be over well over fifty to remember these.  They disappeared in 1963, the year I graduated from college (for the first time).  The signs were spaced out from 10 to 20 yards apart along the highway and had a little verse on them, always concluding with the name of the product being advertised, Burma-Shave.

If you remember the signs, then you're already feeling nostalgic.  If you don't, you most likely won't get it at all.  This book is for the people in the first group, and Frank Rowsome gives a complete history of the signs, their decline and fall.  He also reprints every sign series the company used.

While the idea was to promote shaving cream, the signs sometimes had a driving safety message.  
Purely promotional: Toughest/Whiskers/in the town/We hold 'em up/We mow 'em down/Burma-Shave.  

Driving safety: Around the curve/Lickety-split/Beautiful car/Wasn't it?/Burma-Shave.

I had a real nostalgic wallow reading this book.  Great stuff.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Avocado Hand WBAGNFARB

Doctors call for warning label on avocados amid spate of injuries: British surgeons have seen such a spike in the number of people who seriously injure themselves while trying to penetrate avocados’ rubbery skin and remove its finicky pit that they’ve dubbed the condition “avocado hand.”  

Hat tip to Art Scott.

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Customer upset over cold food throws punches at Arkansas McDonald's worker  

Hat tip to John Duke.

American Gods -- Neil Gaiman

The American Gods TV series has already been renewed: "Based on Neil Gaiman's beloved novel of the same name, American Gods has earned more than five million multiplatform viewers for its first two episodes to date, . . ."  

This is the second time I've seen the book referred to as a "beloved novel."  I read it when it came out in paperback the first time, and I didn't care for it, much less love it.  I thought it was a "loose baggy monster" of a book, that it meandered and digressed and [SPOILER ALERT] that the "war of the gods" never arrived because the whole thing was a two-man con job [END SPOILER ALERT].  There's a lot of eating and talking and small-town life because Gaiman's writing about America, the soul of the country, the definition of the country, the immigrant experience, myth and reality, and so on.  That's a lot to put into a book, which partially accounts for its length. 

And speaking of length, I don't care for long books with small print, and the edition I read (pictured) is the "Author's Preferred Text," which means that Gaiman added 12,000 words to the book I'd already read.  Besides the novel itself, there are several introductory essays, appendices (including a chapter that didn't make it into the novel), and so on.  Well over 500 pages in all.

So why did I read it again?  To see if maybe I'd missed something the first time and to see if I wanted to watch the TV series.  Maybe I did miss something the first time, but if so, I didn't spot it the second time.  I still didn't care for the book (although I really like several of Gaiman's other books), I still think it's a loose baggy monster, and I still don't know why it's beloved.  Maybe I'm just a grumpy old man.  

I still can't decide about the TV series, either.  Since it's been renewed, what does that mean?  Will the first season complete the book, with the next one going beyond it?  The final chapter of the book clearly leaves room for that, but who'll do the writing?  Probably doesn't matter. 

I'm not sorry I read the book again, but it was a real slog to get through it, just like the first time.  I should've read Stardust again, instead.

30 of Literary Fiction’s Most Risqué Book Covers

Not safe for work and maybe not even for home:  30 of Literary Fiction’s Most Risqué Book Covers 

Song of the Day

Ribbon of Darkness - Marty Robbins - YouTube:

Gator Flashback

Alligator tooth brushing, ca. 1950s

Today's Vintage Ad

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

America's oldest World War II veteran turns 111 on Thursday

Yet Another List I'm Not On

The Top Ten Texas Crime Novels


Wayne D. Overholser, Steel to the South, Dell, 1957

This week’s tabloids

Obama is gay, Hillary will die in prison, and real-life hobbits discovered, in this week’s tabloids

Book Lovers Make the Best Sleuths

Book Lovers Make the Best Sleuths: There is, at the start of the trailer for the 1946 film version of The Big Sleep, a surreal vignette in which Humphrey Bogart, already in character as the trench-coated private eye, browses the Hollywood Public Library stacks and asks an attractive librarian to recommend “a good mystery, something off the beaten track like The Maltese Falcon.”

Forgotten Hits: May 11th

 Forgotten Hits: May 11th: Meanwhile, over in England, The Bee Gees make their UK television debut on the popular British Television Music Series "Top Of The Pops", where they perform their new single, "New York Mining Disaster, 1941".  It will ultimately peak at #12 on the chart in Great Britain … and become their first US Hit as well, peaking at #14.  Many listeners at first thought this was The Beatles recording under a pseudonym.

I Miss the Old Days

Gina Lollobrigida: Classic Beauty of the 1950s and the Early 1960s

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

IHOP Waitress Threatened My Family With Steak Knife, Mom Says: An IHOP server was arrested after allegedly grabbing a steak knife and threatening a couple and their two special needs children after an argument on Long Island, authorities say.

Michael Parks, R. I. P.

NY Daily News: NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Parks, a prolific character actor who found early fame in 1960s countercultural roles and later became a favorite of directors including Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith, has died. He was 77.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson

Old Home Week -- Janet Hutchings, editor of EQMM

OLD HOME WEEK | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: The last week in April always feels like old home week in New York’s mystery community. For the Dell mystery magazines the festivities began on Tuesday, April 25, when our two Readers Award winners, Paul D. Marks and Doug Allyn, and Amy Marks and Eve Allyn, joined us for afternoon tea in our offices on Wall Street. It’s a rare year when the Allyns are not in New York for the Edgars (though they were absent and sorely missed in 2016), but for Paul and Amy Marks it was a first experience of the Edgars and their first trip to New York City in a very long time.

Paris Hilton Update

Paris Hilton Invented Everything You’re Doing in 2017, and She Knows It

Song of the Day

The Move - Do Ya - YouTube:

In Tampa, a Wonderful World of Junk

In Tampa, a Wonderful World of Junk: Hong Kong Willie is so much more than a roadside attraction.

Today's Vintage Ad

Famous Actors When They Weren’t Famous

These '80s Audition Polaroids from Casting Director Mali Finn Show Famous Actors When They Weren’t Famous


Ralph Catlin, Good-By to Gun Smoke, Dell, 1955

Not Me, However

There Are People Who Pay Thousands for the Empty Pill Bottles of Dead Celebrities

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

Found: Pages From One of the First Books Printed in England

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: Planets Three -- Frederik Pohl

Planets Three reprints three pseudonymous novellas by Fred Pohl from fairly early in his long career (late '40s to early '50s).  They're presented as "the good old stuff," as you can see by the blurbs at the top of the cover to the right.  The main problem is that they're not all that good.  It's not just that the science in them is outdated; it's that the ideas in at least a couple of them are just a little too goofy even for someone like me to believe.  

That's particularly of "Red Moon of Danger," the second one in the book.  It begins promisingly enough with a mystery: Someone's sabotaging the uranium mines on the moon, and Ellen Bishop, who owns them, wants Steve Templin to find out who and why.  He does, naturally, but the solution is so unbelievable that I couldn't swallow it.  I won't go into the reasons here because it's a huge spoiler, but you won't believe it, either if you ever read the book. 

The first story, "Figurehead," is the kind that irritates me because I'm so far ahead of the main characters that I want to scream at them and tell them what goobers they are.  It's not their fault, though.  They just haven't read enough fiction from the pulps to see the things a reader does.

"Donovan Had a Dream" is the final story (also the cover story), and it's set on Venus, which is perfectly suited for human habitation.  It's one of those "planet is ruled by a powerful group, but there's a secret group that's working to overthrow them" stories, and it was the best of the bunch, even though it has plenty of things in it that made me want to toss the book across the room.  I'm starting to think that maybe the Good Old Stuff might not be as good as I thought it was. 

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Top 10 Wild Women Of The West

Top 10 Wild Women Of The West: The Wild West of the late 1800s and the turn of the next century was a land with loose laws, big egos, and, of course, adventure. It attracted fiery individuals, with spirits as wild as the terrain, who left colorful pages in history. It was a place where rebellious women roamed free and pushed all the envelopes ever made for the fairer sex. These 10 women reveled in the freedom of the frontier and led lives in a way that still has us talking about them today.

4 Sisters Take A Picture Together Every Year

4 Sisters Take A Picture Together Every Year – See How Time Has Affected Them 40 Years Later

Today's Vintage Ad

Why Police Started Wearing Gloves at Crime Scenes

Why Police Started Wearing Gloves at Crime Scenes


Ben Thompson, Gunman's Spawn, Graphic, 1955

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The Elements of Style: "50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice"

Get Out Your Checkbook!

719 Dezso Dr, Alvin, TX 77511: Nolan Ryan's childhood home! This home has been recently remodeled including all new electrical, plumbing, inside A/C and brand new outside unit, double pane windows, tile flooring, still has the original refinished hard wood floors, all new lighting/ceiling fans, new kitchen cabinets, counter tops, appliances, including dishwasher, stove, oven, and both bathrooms are completely remodeled as well with counter tops, sink, toilets, bath/shower. Even the sheetrock, doors and door knobs are new!

Overlooked Movies -- She's All That

She's All That isn't really an overlooked movie, but since this is my blog, I'll call it one.  It was released in 1999, and two years ago the Weinstein Company announced that a remake was in the works.  So far it hasn't happened, as far as I know.  And why call it a remake?  The story's been told over and over in movies.  My first encounter with it was when I saw G. I. Blues, but it goes back at least to Pygmalion.  

When Zack Siler (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) loses his girlfriend, the most popular girl in school, to another guy, he bets his friends that he can take any girl in school, start dating her, and make her just as popular.  They pick ultra-dork named Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook).  After that you can plot it yourself.  Laney turns out to be a real beauty, Zack falls for her, she finds out about the bet, and the rest plays out just like it does every other time you've seen this story.

All that being said, the movie has its moments.  All the actors are attractive, and they give good performances.  Cook and Prinze are particularly watchable.  There are some funny lines and amusing situations.  For those of you who like teen comedies (and you know who you are), it's well worth a look.

She's All That

She's All That - Trailer - YouTube:

Monday, May 08, 2017

An Interview With Stephen Mertz

An Interview With Stephen Mertz

Roger Corman Interview

Why the Hells Angels Threatened to Kill Roger Corman

Song of the Day

It's Growing Temptations 1962 video - YouTube:

Who Says James Patterson Is Out of Ideas?

Bill Clinton and James Patterson co-writing a thriller

Edwin Sherin, R. I. P.

NY Daily News: 'The Great White Hope' and 'Law & Order' helmer also directed a handful of films and TV shows and served as DGA national vice president for three terms.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Today's Vintage Ad

I Miss the Old Days

Learning to be a Stewardess in the Sixties


J. F. Hutton, Dead Man Friday, Phantom Books (Australia), 1955

24 Facts From the Making of 'King Kong'

24 Facts From the Making of 'King Kong'

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The Best Alternative Histories in Literature

Forgotten Hits: May 8th

Forgotten Hits: May 8th: The Supremes take over the #1 spot on this week's Super Chart as "The Happening" pushes past "Somethin' Stupid" by Nancy and Frank Sinatra.  The Young Rascals make a HUGE leap from #19 to #4 with their latest, "Groovin'", as "Sweet Soul Music" by Arthur Conley holds at #3.  The Buckinghams move up two places from #7 to #5.  "I Got Rhythm" by The Happenings hits The Top Ten for the first time, moving rom #14 to #8.

10 Fascinating Facts About The Thesaurus

10 Fascinating Facts About The Thesaurus

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Times Square's Glitzy Look was One Man's Bright Idea

Times Square's Glitzy Look was One Man's Bright Idea: Douglas Leigh’s ability to imagine new kinds of advertising shaped the signs of the city

Song of the Day

ry cooder 74 Jesus On The Mainline - YouTube:

8 Hidden Museums Around the Globe

8 Hidden Museums Around the Globe 

Today's Vintage Ad

Quinn O’Hara R. I. P.

Deadline: Quinn O’Hara, an actress who had uncredited roles in a string of Jerry Lewis comedies but is best remembered by beach movie aficionados for her appearance in 1966’s The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, died in Los Angeles yesterday. She was 76.

A History of Coin Elongation Machines

Penny Pinching: A History of Coin Elongation Machines


Hillary Waugh, A Rag and a Bone, Phantom Books (Australia), 1957

Daliah Lavi, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Daliah Lavi, an Israeli actress who transitioned from serious parts in foreign cinema and in dramatic films like “Lord Jim” to lighthearted turns in 1960s spy-movie spoofs like “Casino Royale,” died on Wednesday at her home in Asheville, N.C. She was 74.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Even Midtown Manhattan Has Its Secrets

Even Midtown Manhattan Has Its Secrets: It might seem impossible to find anything wondrous or obscure down the street from M&M’s World or Rockefeller Center, but look again. Once you’ve peeled back Midtown’s layer of neon-shaded tourist traps, there is a plethora of curious sights and sounds hidden around most every corner.

I Miss the Old Days

Forgotten Hits: May 7th: Jefferson Airplane make a memorable appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

Carly Simon's Lost "You're So Vain" Verse

SPIN: Who Do You Think Carly Simon’s Newly Revealed “You’re So Vain” Verse Is About?