Saturday, May 27, 2017

Free for Kindle for a Limited Time

Force of Habit by [Bell, James Scott]Force of Habit - Kindle edition by James Scott Bell. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @  A vigilante nun cleans up the streets of Los Angeles. Sinners beware.

Gregg Allman, R. I. P.

Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band dies at age 69: SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Music legend Gregg Allman, whose bluesy vocals and soulful touch on the Hammond B-3 organ helped propel the Allman Brothers Band to superstardom and spawn Southern rock, died Saturday, a publicist said. He was 69.  

Hat tip to John Duke.

Jim Bunning, R. I. P.

ABC15 Arizona: SOUTHGATE, Ky. -- Former U.S. senator and baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning has died, Cincinnati-based WCPO news partner Fort Thomas Matters reports.

The Moses Deception -- Stephen Mertz

Back in the old days I read several books about discoveries that would change the Bible and change the world.  One of them was Robert Duncan's The Q Document, and another was Irving Wallace's The Word.  I like things like that, so I'm the target audience for The Moses Deception, in which a couple of archaeologists, Adam Chase and Lara Newton working along the Turkey/Syria border and are shown a cave that contains the nuclear bomb of all archaeological discoveries: the remnants of the tablets that contained the first version of the Ten Commandments.  The big revelation is that there was an eleventh commandment, and if it's genuine it will indeed change the world.  That is, it will if Adam and Lara can survive bandit gangs and all the other people who are trying to kill them.

Stephen Mertz is an expert action writer, and The Moses Deception is filled with intriguing characters, pursuits, escapes, slam-bang action, and suspense.  Chase's motto is "trust no one," but you have to trust someone now and then.  That can get people killed, and it does.  You never now when someone's going to die, or who's to blame.  It's not surprising to find this in a Mertz novel.  What surprised me was the serious discussion of religion and belief, something that you don't generally find in novels of action and adventure.  This is good stuff and The Moses Deception is a book you'll want to check out for sure.

2.2 Million Images from the Early Days of Photography

Now Online: 2.2 Million Images from the Early Days of Photography: We know how it is. You want lots and lots of olde-tymey pictures of men with big mustaches and ladies in absurd hats, but you just don’t know where to go. Fret no more, friends: Europeana Photography has got them all.

Song of the Day

Jethro Tull - Too Old To Rock'n'Roll Too Young To Die (HQ) - YouTube:

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Presidential pets, ranked  

I wrote a short story about #5, which should, of course, be #1.

Today's Vintage Ad

Or Maybe You Have

7 Random Facts You've Probably Never Heard Before


Ernest Haycox, Chaffee of Roaring Horse, Popular Library, 1949

Over 5000 Historical Novels Listed by Time and Place

Over 5000 Historical Novels Listed by Time and Place: Including more than 700 Reviews

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

'Sgt Pepper' at 50: Every song on the album, ranked

Forgotten Hits: May 27th

Forgotten Hits: May 27th

Al Franken: By the Book

Al Franken: By the Book: The author of “Al Franken: Giant of the Senate” has at least one Congressional Research Service report on his night stand. “But it’s under Carl Reiner’s book on ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show.’”

Friday, May 26, 2017

Zbigniew Brzezinski, R. I. P.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday. He was 89. to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday. He was 89.

Jared Martin, R. I. P.

Hollywood Reporter: Jared Martin, the Dallas actor who portrayed Dusty Farlow, the rodeo cowboy and Sue Ellen Ewing seducer who perished in a plane crash, only to have producers resurrect his character by popular demand, has died. He was 75.

Or Maybe You Have

13 of the best Stephen King short stories you've never read

Song of the Day

Little Richard - Goodnight Irene - YouTube:

Summer Reading Recommendations, From 6 Novelists Who Own Bookstores

Summer Reading Recommendations, From 6 Novelists Who Own Bookstores  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Denis Johnson, R.I. P.

Author Denis Johnson, Who Wrote "Jesus's Son," Dies At 67: Johnson was best known for his short story collection Jesus's Son and his novel Tree of Smoke, which won the National Book Award in 2007 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2008. His novella Train Dreams was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2012.

Today's Vintage Ad

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Every Lynda Carter 'Wonder Woman' costume, ranked in order of wondrousness


Charles N Heckelmann, Guns of Arizona, Lion, 1952

I Miss the Old Days

30 Black and White Photographs of Natalie Wood in the 1950s

7 TV Characters Killed Off Out of Spite

7 TV Characters Killed Off Out of Spite

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Rockwell, ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’ singer, arrested over sandwich: The performer, whose real name is Kennedy William Gordy, allegedly turned violent and hit his housekeeper because she didn’t make his lunch fast enough, reported.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Forgotten Hits: May 26th

Forgotten Hits: May 26th: Big movers on this week's chart include "Come On Down To My Boat" by Every Mother's Son (#58 to #41), "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" by Frankie Valli (#67 to #43), "Seven Rooms Of Gloom" by The Four Tops (#77 to #46), "Little Bit O'Soul" by The Music Explosion (#75 to #50), "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (#68 to #55), "Sunday Will Never Be The Same" by Spanky and Our Gang (up 30 points from #87 to #57), "Shake" by Otis Redding (#78 to #61), "Sound Of Love" by The Five Americans (#82 to #62), "Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead" by our buddies The Fifth Estate (#86 to #63) and "Here We Go Again"  by Ray Charles, which climbs from #90 to #73.

FFB Double Shot: Dragon Society & Dragon Venom -- Lawrence Watt-Evans

You all remember when I wrote about Dragon Weather, right?  I said that I'd enjoyed it so much that I'd ordered its big fat sequels.  I even read them, so I thought I'd tell you about them, with [WARNING] lots of spoilers [END WARNING].

In Dragon Society, the second book in the trilogy, Arlian is still looking to get revenge on his human enemies and to kill all the dragons.  The Dragon Society is composed of all those who've drunk dragon blood and become different from other people, like him.  They live 1000 years, for one thing, but that's the bad part.  After they live 1000 years, they give birth to a dragon.  

Many members of the Dragon Society are Arlian's enemies, the ones he's sworn to kill, but he's also a member of the society, and there are Rules.  This makes killing the other members difficult.  Also, no man has ever killed a dragon.  Can it even be done?  As Arlian struggles with these problems, he learns some things about sacrifice and courage, and now we're all set up for Book Three, Dragon Venom, in which we find the Dragon Society divided between those who are willing to see the dragons destroyed and those who want to stay on the dragons' side and live out their 1000 years.

Arlian discovers a great secret.  There once were gods, and the dragons feared them.  Arlian even learns now to make a god -- inject a pregnant woman with dragon venom.  So he does.  The dragons attack the city in attempt to kill the god, and Arlian kills the three who killed his family.  In doing so, he at last learns more about them.  They aren't entirely bad.  That's just a human interpretation of their sad story.  Arlian gives up trying to wipe them out and also gives up the idea of revenge on his human enemies.  He's badly wounded, and . . . I can't give everything away.  If you're looking for a big fat fantasy series about dragons to read, however, I certainly can recommend this one.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Cops Nab Woman For Pork Fried Rice Battery

South California Purples -- Baron R. Birtcher

South California Purples is set in Oregon in 1973, at the time of Wounded Knee and not long after the sad events at Kent State.  Ty Dawson is the owner of a working cattle ranch in a mostly rural county, and he has no idea that the unrest that other parts of the country is experiencing is about to come to where he is.

It begins when several of his cattle are killed, seemingly exploded, and it escalates when a local activist begins a protest against the Bureau of Land Management's plan to round up and slaughter herds of wild horses.  Before long there's a tent city, a motorcycle gang is running wild, and Dawson finds himself appointed under-sheriff of the county.  It's an almost impossible situation, and then his daughter comes home from college and is clearly siding with the protesters.  

Things get out of hand.  One of Dawson's ranch workers is killed, and the motorcycle gang members behave barbarously.  The high sheriff is more of a hindrance than a help, as are other state and local law enforcement officials.

The final confrontation between Dawson, his ranch hands, and his family is violent in the extreme, and Dawson administers some of his own brand of justice, the kind that wouldn't be sanctioned by any court.

Reading this book I was reminded of the work of James Lee Burke.  Dawson is a lot like Dave Robicheaux, and Birtcher's writing is descriptive and poetic in the vein of Burke's.  Strong writing and a strong central character -- good stuff.

By the way, the title is supposed to refer to Dawson's cattle.  Maybe so, but I never saw a purple cow, and I never hope to see one.  Birtcher might be having us on a bit here.  The title is also the title of a song by the Chicago Transit Authority, now known simply as Chicago.  That might tell us more than purple cows.

By the way #2:  The book might be set in 1973, but it's still relevant today.  This isn't a political comment, just an observation of a coincidence.

The Sad History of Hydrox Cookies

The Sad History of Hydrox Cookies, Which Were Probably Doomed Because They Were Called Hydrox

Song of the Day

What Is Life - George Harrison - YouTube:

The Unsung Charms of ‘Ishtar’

Bad Movie Night: The Unsung Charms of ‘Ishtar’: Welcome to “Bad Movie Night,” a biweekly feature in which we sift through the remains of bad movies of all stripes: the obscure and hilarious, the bloated and beautiful, the popular and painful. This week, on the 30th anniversary of its release, we look at the notorious 1987 megaflop Ishtar.

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 10 Best True Crime Books

Today's Vintage Ad

Things I See in Alvin, Texas

Trucks with slogans painted on their tailgates


George C. Appell, The Man Who Shot Quantrill, Pocket Books, 1959

I Remember Him Well

Joe Pyne Was America's First Shock Jock

More Than 250,000 Bibliophiles Are About to Descend on "The Town of Books"

More Than 250,000 Bibliophiles Are About to Descend on "The Town of Books": The Hay Festival of Literature kicks of its 30th anniversary festival in Wales

Forgotten Music

George Harrison Is Still Classic Rock’s Best-Kept Secret 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

'Mary Had a Little Lamb' Is Based on a True Story

'Mary Had a Little Lamb' Is Based on a True Story  

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

Roger Moore as James Bond in 1964

Roger Moore as James Bond in 1964 - YouTube:

Toyoko Doll -- John McPartland

John McPartland was one of those solid Gold Medal writers who broke out with a big hardcover best-seller that became a hit movie, No Down Payment.  And then he died at age 47.  I wrote a little about that movie in this post.  When I wrote that post, the movie wasn't available anywhere, but now you can watch it on YouTube, as I've done recently.

But I digress.  I'm here to write about Tokyo Doll, half of a fine new double from Stark House.  Unfortunately the ARC doesn't have a copy of the Steve Lewis introduction to the volume, but I'm sure it'll be excellent, as with everything Steve writes.  

The guy on the cover looks a bit like Robert Mitchum, but he represents the protagonist of Big Red's Daughter, not that the narrator of Toyko Doll couldn't look like Mitchum.  He's Mate Buchanan, big and tough, a WWII and Korea vet who's been court martialed for not following orders (he was going to take his men into a almost certain-death situation, though he does himself).  Kicked out of the army, he's living in San Francisco when an official with one of those secret government agencies comes to  him with a job offer: Go to Tokyo and hook up with a woman from his past, a woman whose father had concocted a virus that will save the world.  Don't worry about how preposterous this virus is.  It's just the MacGuffin to get the story going and to keep it racing along.

Once in Tokyo, Buchanan meets the doll of the title, a singer named Sandra Tann, and in the old pulp tradition, they immediately fall in love.  There are plenty obstacles in their way, including the fact that Buchanan has orders to marry the other woman if that's what it takes to get to her father.  Soon enough, Buchanan's a wanted man both by the U.S. Army and the Tokyo underworld.  This results in some chasing and pursuing, and a couple of really good fight scenes.  And if all that's not enough, Buchanan's not at all sure he can trust Tann, who might also be after the virus, maybe for The Reds (a common bugaboo in the '50s when the book was published).

Tokyo Doll is fast and furious, well written, and fun to read.  Great local color, and it seems clear that McPartland had spent some time in Tokyo.  This Stark House double is well worth your time if you like the old  Gold Medals.  And who doesn't?

“Radio Days” (by Kevin Mims)

“Radio Days” (by Kevin Mims) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: Kevin Mims is known to readers of the Dell mystery magazines primarily as a short-story writer. In 2013, one of his stories for EQMM received a nomination for the International Thriller Award, and he has also contributed memorable stories to our sister publication, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. But he is also an essayist whose pieces have frequently appeared in the New York Times, on NPR, and elsewhere. This is his fourth post for this site. In it he talks about the heyday of the radio mystery.—Janet Hutchings

Song of the Day

Randy Travis - Diggin Up Bones - YouTube:

I Miss the Old Days

Seventeen: The magazine For American Teenagers – 36 Charming Photos of Female Fashion in the 1950s

Today's Vintage Ad

The most gorgeous cars of the Art Deco era

Behold- the most gorgeous cars of the Art Deco era...


Emerson Hough, North of 36, Pocket Books, 1947

The literary giants of pulp fiction

The literary giants of pulp fiction

Guess Who?

How the Owner of the Greatest Mystery Bookstore Pulled the Genre Out of the Muck: “This is literature. It’s not just puzzles, it’s not just telling a nice story.”

Forgotten Hits: May 24th

Forgotten Hits: May 24th: You'll find some very notable debuts on this week's chart.  "Windy" by The Association premiers at #64, "New York Mining Disaster, 1941" becomes the first US Hit for The Bee Gees when it debuts at #71, the controversial "Society's Child" by Janis Ian comes in at #83 in its first week on the chart and "San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)", a song written by John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas but given to his long-time friend Scott McKenzie to record, comes in at #99.

Lisa Spoonauer, R. I. P.

Daily Mail Online: Lisa Spoonauer, who became an unlikely star of the 1994 cult classic 'Clerks,' died at the age of 44 on Saturday in New Jersey. Though Spoonauer quickly gained a fan following for her role as Caitlin Bree in the iconic film Clerks, she only appeared in one other movie during her career: 1997's 'Bartender.'  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: The Best of Keith Laumer -- Keith Laumer

Adventure, humor, military SF, Keith Laumer could do just about anything and make it seem easy.  This collection is ample demonstration of that, even if not all the stories seem like "best of" material to me.  I'm thinking here of "Doorstep," which seems more like a joke than a story, and it turns out that the puzzling title isn't really a title, but sort of the punchline, since you have to get to the end of the story to figure it out.

For those of you who are fans of Laumer's work, there's one Bolo story ("A Relic of War"), but there are no Retief stories.  Apparently lots of people don't care for Retief, but I think the stories are hilarious.

My favorite in this collection is probably "The Planet Wreckers," which combines wild adventure and equally wild humor in what may be the ultimate comment on reality TV, although the story was published in 1967.  I like the Bolo stories, so I enjoyed that one, too, and "Cocoon" is a scary take on an early form of virtual reality.  "The Devil You Don't" is a funny take on the Devil and certain problems in Hell, and "Thunderhead" is a military story about duty and heroism.  Good stuff, and a good introduction to Laumer, although I prefer his novels, like Worlds of the Imperium and A Trace of Memory.

Table of Contents:
Introduction · Barry N. Malzberg
The Planet Wreckers
The Body Builders
The Lawgiver
The Devil You Don’t
A Relic of War

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Marsh McCall, R. I. P.

Marsh McCall Dead: 'Fuller House' Writer and Producer Was 52: He was one of the original scribes on 'Late Night With Conan O'Brien' and a mainstay on 'Just Shoot Me!'

Roger Moore’s best James Bond moments, film by film

Roger Moore’s best James Bond moments, film by film  

The first one is my all-time favorite.

Jeff Cohen on “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Girl”

Jeff Cohen on “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Girl” | Trace Evidence: Jeff Cohen is the author of the Aaron Tucker series, the Asperger’s Mystery series (as coauthored by E.J. Copperman), and three other series under the Copperman byline. He also pens the Double Feature series about Elliot Freed, to which his tale in the current AHMM belongs. Here, he talks about how that story came to be.

Song of the Day

Jerry Lee Lewis It Won't Happen With Me - YouTube:

15 Secrets of Forensic Artists

15 Secrets of Forensic Artists

Today's Vintage Ad

The Creepiest Thing About Stephen King Is His Acting Career

The Creepiest Thing About Stephen King Is His Acting Career


Frank Gruber, Broken Lance, Bantam, 1954

Roger Moore , R. I. P.

The Guardian: He was the epitome of the suave English gent, quipping sweatlessly in a bespoke three-piece suit, who enjoyed an acting career spanning eight decades. On Tuesday, Roger Moore’s children announced his death at the age of 89 in Switzerland, saying: “he passed away today ... after a short but brave battle with cancer”. Roger Moore: ‘Being eternally known as James Bond has no downside’ Read more Moore was best known for playing the third incarnation of James Bond as well as his roles in hit shows The Saint and The Persuaders. He also devoted a lot of his time to humanitarian work, becoming a Unicef goodwill ambassador in 1991.

12 fascinating facts about the Bee Gees

There's no jive talkin' in these 12 fascinating facts about the Bee Gees

I Miss the Old Days

30 Rare and Amazing Vintage Photos That Document Daily Life of Gypsy Rose Lee, America's Most Celebrated Stripper, in 1949

Overlooked Movies -- Return of the Lash

There's no trailer available for Return of the Lash, but the movie's short and you can watch the whole thing on YouTube if you look for it.  That's what I did.

When last we looked in on The Cheyenne Kid, played by Lash LaRue, he was an outlaw.  Even worse, at least for him, he was dead.  A little thing like that,  however, never stopped Hollywood, and the Cheyenne Kid later returned in several movies very much alive as a good guy. He was even a marshal in a few movies, although not in Return of the Lash.  In this one, the Kid and Fuzzy Q. Jones are called on to help their friend Tom Grant because Big Jim Kirby is trying to force them (and all the other ranchers) off their land.  Big Jim knows, as they don't, that the railroad is about to come through, so he wants all the land he can get his hands on.  

Not the most original plot, you might be thinking, but there are some twists.  One is that to get the dough to help the ranchers fight, the Kid catches a bunch of outlaws to get the reward money.  When Fuzzy picks it up from a nearby town, he's attacked by outlaws, falls off his horse, hits his head, and comes up with amnesia.  He doesn't know who attacked him, who he is, or where the money is.  Another twist is that Big Jim is working with . . . no, I can't say.  It's obvious in the movie long before we're told, but you should find out for yourself.

One disappointing thing is that the Kid uses his whip only sparingly and in situations that aren't suspenseful.  On the plus side, our friend Richard Moore's Uncle Bud Osborne shows up as a henchman.  He doesn't drive the stagecoach, which was a surprise, as driving the rigs was his specialty.

Return of the Lash is probably for hardcore B-Western fans only.  You know who you are.

Oh, and by the way, the rumor posted about me and James Reasoner on this website is absolutely true.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Dina Merrill, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Dina Merrill, the actress and heiress to two fortunes who wintered at her family’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., as a child before becoming a leading lady in movies, most often in upper-class roles, died on Monday at her home in East Hampton, N.Y. She was 93.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

State bird improvements: What the State Birds Should Be  I

Hat tip to Toby O' Brien.

The True Stories Behind 11 Famous Sideshow Performers

The True Stories Behind 11 Famous Sideshow Performers

Song of the Day

ZZ Top - Tush - YouTube:

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Here's The Most Haunted Place In All 50 States

Today's Vintage Ad

Jane Yolen Interview

Grand Master Jane Yolen on Why It's Important to Just 'Write the Damn Book'


Clarence E. Mulford, Mesquite Jenkins, Tumbleweed, Popular Library, 1946

I Miss the Old Days

JFK's Presidency Was Custom Made for the Golden Age of Photojournalism

11 Movies That Almost Starred Nicolas Cage But Were Lame Instead

11 Movies That Almost Starred Nicolas Cage But Were Lame Instead

Forgotten Hits: May 22nd

Forgotten Hits: May 22nd: "Groovin'" by The Young Rascals holds on to the #1 spot for a second week as "Respect" by Aretha Franklin, "I Got Rhythm" by The Happenings and "Release Me" by Engelbert Humperdinck all creep up behind it in The Top Five.

SuperCharts survey included.

Don McLean talks ‘American Pie’ and Buddy Holly

Don McLean talks ‘American Pie’ and Buddy Holly

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Why Do We Even Have a Second Amendment?

WSB-TV: Waffle House waitress fired after shooting gun during robbery

Anne Dick, R. I. P.

Anne Dick, memoirist and writer’s muse, dies: Philip K. Dick was a writer of modest accomplishment when he met Anne Rubenstein in late 1958. By the time the couple broke up less than six years later, Dick had written more than a dozen novels and was well on his way to eminence as one of the most influential of postwar American writers.  

Hat tip to Bill Pronzini.

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

The Bottle Cap Alley - A Dumping Ground Turned Tourist Attraction 

Song of the Day

You'll Never Walk Alone - Patti La Belle & Bluebelles - YouTube:

A Rat Lover's Tour of the World

A Rat Lover's Tour of the World: 15 places where rodents are celebrated, feared, preserved, and studied.

Today's Vintage Ad

2017 Nebula Award Winners

The 2017 Nebula Award Winners


Dorothy M. Johnson, The Hanging Tree, Ballantine, 1957

No, But It's Pretty Bad

Also one of Judy's favorites.  She'd watch it whenever it came on.  Ishtar at 30: is it really the worst movie ever made? 

Seduction of the Innocent!

The Psychiatrist Who Almost Brought Down the Comic Book Industry: Superheroes are used to dealing with mad scientists, lumbering monsters, and would-be dictators on the page, but in the real world of the mid-1950s, their biggest threat came from the words of Dr. Fredric Wertham, a psychiatrist who led a public crusade that almost destroyed the comic book industry.

Jeffrey Tambor: By the Book

Jeffrey Tambor: By the Book