Saturday, June 17, 2017

Stephen Furst, R. I. P.

LA Times: Stephen Furst, best known for his role as the hapless Delta House fraternity pledge Kent “Flounder” Dorfman in the landmark comedy “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” has died.

Grand Theft Avocado WBAGNFARB

Avocado theft scheme lands three men in jail: OXNARD, Calif. — Police are calling it grand theft avocado.  

Hat tip to Art Scott.

19 Real-Life Wonder Women From World War I

19 Real-Life Wonder Women From World War I

Song of the Day

Chuck Willis---C.C. Rider - YouTube:

The 19th-Century Book of Horrors That Scared German Kids Into Behaving

The 19th-Century Book of Horrors That Scared German Kids Into Behaving: Original illustrations from the book that inspired Edward Scissorhands.

Today's Vintage Ad

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

Before you ask, I do consider "glamping" a terrible word.

CultureMap Houston: Yurts in the dirt are cool and all, but what about having breakfast with the birds? Pack your bags for a night in one of these Texas treehouses. From a treehouse built around a 100-year-old cypress tree just outside of Austin to a spa treehouse featured on the Animal Planet series Treehouse Masters, these spots take glamping to new heights.


The Invisible Mad, Warner Books, 1975

Or Maybe Not

8 Awful Eighties Fantasy Films You Probably Forgot All About  

I've seen five of them and enjoyed at least three of them in my own weird way.

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

Just for the record, this story sounds nothing like a film noir.

Lost Jackson Pollock Painting Found in Arizona Garage Could Be Worth $15 Million

Sheriff Rhodes Did This Many Books Ago

East Texas cowboys rope alligator threatening livestock

It’s Large: Ringworld by Larry Niven

It’s Large: Ringworld by Larry Niven

Friday, June 16, 2017

John G. Avildsen, R. I. P.

LA Times: Oscar-winning director John G. Avildsen, whose “Rocky” sent a shot of adrenaline through movie theaters and turned Sylvester Stallone into one of cinema’s most unforgettable boxers, has died at 81.

John Dalmas, R. I. P.

SF Site News: Author John Dalmas (b.John Jones, 1926) died on June 15 following a brief bout of pneumonia. Dalmas first book, The Yngling was serialized in Analog in 1969 and published in book form in 1971. Dalmas began publishing regularly in the 1980s, producing the Fanglith books and The Regiment series, as well as many short stories. In addition to his career as an author Dalmas has worked for the US Forest Service.

Keeping Movies Alive

Keeping Movies Alive: The world’s greatest collection of Western posters finds an Arizona home.

Helmut Kohl, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Helmut Kohl, who reunified Germany after 45 years of Cold War division and promoted grand visions of European integration, but ended his political career in disgrace over an opaque party fund-raising scandal, died on Friday at his home in Ludwigshafen, Germany, the Rhine port city where he was born. He was 87.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Song of the Day

George Jones - Bartender's Blues - YouTube:

Seems More Like 20 Weeks to Me

This Is What Summer Looked Like 20 Years Ago

Today's Vintage Ad

Or Maybe You Did

10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About F. Scott Fitzgerald


John Falkner, Overlords of Andromeda, Panther Books, 1955


10 Most Overcrowded Cities

I Miss the Old Days

American Airlines Vintage Fleet and Inflight Service: New Passenger Lounge with Piano Bar in the Sky

Forgotten Hits: June 16th

Forgotten Hits: June 16th: The Monterey Pop Festival (the brain child of Producer Lou Adler, Beatles Publicist Derek Taylor and John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas) kicks off its three day run in California.  It was the first Pop / Rock Festival of its kind and set the stage for other successful festivals and fund-raisers in the years to come.  

Includes links to six songs to listen to (not from the festival).

FFB: The Critics' Choice: The Best of Crime and Detective TV -- Max Allan Collins & Allan Javna

This book was published in 1988, so you might think it's a little bit out of date.  Not so, however, or at least not so in the ways that count.  It's still just as much fun to read and just as insightful as ever.  Not to mention just as opinionated:  ". . . we do not pretend to be the definitive volume on the subject.  We are here to have a good time -- to praise some shows, to bury others, and damn near ignore some that we don't care for."

How did the authors arrive at their rankings?  ". . . a poll taken among mystery fans, mystery writers, and TV critics.  A ballot was published in Mystery Scene, the news magazine of the mystery and horror field, and both fans and professionals were invited to participate; later, a slightly revised ballot was mailed to a select group of prominent mystery writers and critics [disclaimer: I was one].  Those participating were encouraged to make write-in selections and express dissenting opinions."

Here's something interesting.  While the amateur sleuth shows were closely bunched, with five shows in almost a tie for the top spot, in the private-eye area two shows were easily the favorites, The Rockford Files and Harry-O.  Mannix was "mostly unloved."  In the cop show field, Hill Street Blues and Dragnet were tops, with Cagney and Lacey at the bottom.

The book is full of essays on the shows, comments from critics, and photos.  Highly recommended.  Cheap copies abound on the internet.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Review of Interest (To Me, Anyway)

Words & Music: Bill Crider, Eight Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

News from Angela Crider Neary

Fire Star Press: The Case of the New Year Dragon: I’m thrilled to announce that the second book in the Li’l Tom and the Pussyfoot Detective Bureau series, The Case of the New Year Dragon, has been accepted for publication by Tornado Alley Publications (a sister imprint of Fire Star Press)! 

Click on the link to read the whole post and see some great dragon pictures.  Leave a comment if you can.

Old-school typewriters attract new generation of fans

Old-school typewriters attract new generation of fans: Typewriter enthusiasts gather at an Albuquerque restaurant to experiment with vintage Smith Coronas. Fans in Boston kneel in a city square and type stories about their lives during a pro-immigration demonstration. A new documentary on typewriters featuring Tom Hanks and musician John Mayer is set for release this summer.

Song of the Day

Free - All Right Now - YouTube:

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

And now it's the Cheeseburger Beef!

Time for a New Movie Series

The Jewish Pirates Who Ruled the Caribbean

Today's Vintage Ad

Google Digitizes 3,000 Years of Fashion History

Google Digitizes 3,000 Years of Fashion History: The massive “We Wear Culture Project” includes 30,000 online artifacts from over 180 institutions

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

Texas couple arrested with $1m worth of meth lollipops: $1million of meth lollipops seized from Texas couple after they packed their car so full of the candy its doors couldn't close


James Blish, So Close to Home, Ballantine, 1961

I Miss the Old Days

55 Color Photos Document Beautiful Life of Florida in the 1950s

The Oldest Continuously Family-Run Restaurant in the U.S.

This Is the Oldest Continuously Family-Run Restaurant in the U.S.



Tracy K. Smith Named New U.S. Poet Laureate

Tracy K. Smith Named New U.S. Poet Laureate; Calls Poems Her 'Anchor' 

Forgotten Hits: June 15th

Forgotten Hits: June 15th  

Summer Survey included.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Buy Early and Often!

Eight Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Kindle edition by Bill Crider. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @  Available for the first time in a single collection, eight stories featuring the World's Greatest Detective, Sherlock Holmes, written by award-winning author Bill Crider. Return to 221B Baker Street as Holmes and his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson, investigate vampires, ghouls, ghosts, and other mysterious creatures.

Featured in this collection:
“The Adventure of the Young British Soldier”
“The Case of the Vampire’s Mark”
“The Adventure of the Christmas Bear”
“The Adventure of the White City”
“The Adventure of the Venemous Lizard”
“The Case of the Vanished Vampire”
“The Adventure of the St. Marylebone Ghoul”
“The Adventure of the Christmas Ghosts”

and a bonus story:
Death Did Not Become Him, by Patricia Lee Macomber & David Niall Wilson

A.R. Gurney, R. I. P.

NY Daily News: A.R. (Pete) Gurney, the prolific playwright whose career spanned five decades, died Tuesday at his home in New York City. He was 86. Gurney’s best-known works include the Pulitzer Prize-nominated “Love Letters” and “The Dining Room,” as well as “The Cocktail Hour” and “Sylvia.”  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

“My Favorite Murderers” (by Graydon Miller)

“My Favorite Murderers” (by Graydon Miller) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: Graydon Miller was an American expatriate in Mexico for nine years, at the start of his writing career. He was first published not in English but in Spanish, with “Un invierno en el infierno” (“A Winter in Hell”). Some of his stories have been collected in the volume The Havana Brotherhood, and he’s also the author of the thriller novel The Hostages of Veracruz. He received a Derringer nomination from the Short Mystery Fiction Society for his story “At Thirty Paces,” and he will appear in EQMM for the first time in our July/August issue, which goes on sale next week. In this post we get a glimpse of what inspired the former reporter to work in the field of crime fiction.—Janet Hutchings

Sure Looks That Way

Did Bob Dylan take from SparkNotes for his Nobel lecture?

Song of the Day

"Still not dead" by Willie Nelson - YouTube:

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 10 Best Animated Movies Of All Time

Today's Vintage Ad

States That Can Be Described By A Single Photo

States That Can Be Described By A Single Photo 


H. E. Bates, Summer in Salandar, Signet, 1958

Regular People Recreate 10 Corny Romance Novel Covers

Regular People Recreate 10 Corny Romance Novel Covers And It’s Hilarious

I Miss the Old Days

Diana - Queen of Hearts: 31 Glamorous Photos of the Princess of Wales in the 1980s

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Enraged NYC deli patrons hurl avocados after cook botched orders   

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Forgotten Hits: June 14th

Forgotten Hits: June 14th: Outside The Top 40 three records make a jump of 20 places or more … "Light My Fire" by The Doors climbs from #73 to #51, "Shake Rattle And Roll" by Arthur Conley moves from #79 to #57 and "I Take It Back" by Sandy Posey jumps from #84 to #60.  

Lots more info today, along with several songs you can listen to.

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: The Little Brothers of St. Mortimer -- John Fergus Ryan

The Little Brothers of St. Mortimer is an American classic that nobody seems to know about.  It's darkly comic and hilariously funny, the kind of novel that would result from a collaboration between Flannery O'Connor and Joe R. Lansdale.  If you can imagine such a thing, this is it.  I first read it years ago, and loved it.  Rereading it now, I think it's even better.

Brother Edgar (not his real name) is the founder of the faux religious order of The Little Brothers of St. Mortimer (consider the names here, older readers; whippersnappers won't get it).  He travels around the backwoods South with an ex-con named Morales Pittman, selling men's socks (seconds) and running any number of small cons.  When he saves the life of the White River Kid, a killer on the run, he finds himself linked with both the killer and his girlfriend, Apple Lisa, and this motley crew travels through Arkansas to stay with Apple Lisa's family for a while.  Brother Edgar's never had a real family before and he enjoys his time with Apple Lisa's parents, but the good times don't last for long.  

Here's a bit of Brother Edgar's philosophy:  "I have observed that a man can go all his life never doing anything but good to others and ninety-nine times out of a hundred, he will die broke, unloved, unappreciated, maybe even spat upon by those he helped.  Everything in this life is chance, there is no order, and there is no reward for the good and no punishment for evil."  Maybe not, but there are wildly hilarious novels, and this is one of them.  Highly recommended.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Who Says Hollywood Is Out of Ideas?

Deadline: This isn’t a remake as much as a relaunch of a film [Cannonball Run] based on the famous “Cannonball sea to shining sea memorial trophy race” that was captured in three Hal Needham-directed films that starred Burt Reynolds, Frank Sinatra, Roger Moore, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and Dom DeLuise atop a whole ensemble of ’80s stars.

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

And now it's the Dog-poop dispute!

I Miss the Old Days

Cool Yearbook Photos of Brookville High School's Students in 1982

Song of the Day

Chris de Burgh - Don't Pay The Ferryman - YouTube:

The life of an alligator

Earth Touch News: If you want to study alligators, there may be no better place than the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center on the coast of South Carolina. Researchers have been studying local populations of American alligators there for over three decades. The result: an unprecedented level of understanding about the big reptiles' lifestyles and reproduction, as well as the changes that go on throughout the animals' lives.

Today's Vintage Ad

The Best Coaches in NFL History

NFL Nostaligia: Ranking the Best Coaches in NFL History  

You have to agree.  It's science!


Key words: "modern reimagining."

'Game of Thrones' Favorite to Star in 'Haunting of Hill House' Series for Netflix: Ordered straight to series, the 10-episode drama is a modern reimagining of Shirley Jackson's classic 1959 novel. The story centers on four people living in an 80-year-old mansion.


Robert Turner, Wagonmaster, Pocket Books, 1958

Or Maybe You Already Have

10 Works of Literary Horror You Should Read

Side Steps

These concrete steps led up to the side porch of the house I remember best from my growing up years.  They were an important part of our family life. There's little left of the house now, as you can see.  
Here's a picture of the steps in happier times with my father, me, and my brother sitting on them.

Overlooked Movies -- The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)

The Prisoner of Zenda is far from overlooked, but my usual excuse for including a movie like this one is that maybe some of my faithful readers have overlooked it.  You shouldn't have.  It's great.  I saw and loved the Stewart Granger color version when I was a kid, and I loved it.  This older B&W version is the definitive one, I believe, but the Granger version is on TCM at 3:00 P.M. CDT this afternoon, so I'll watch it and find out.  I'll report on it next week if I can remember to do it.

Ronald Colman plays both Major Rudolf Rassendyll and the man who's about to be crowned king of some unnamed European country and who becomes the prisoner of Zenda.  Colman is on vacation in the country and discovers that he's an dead ringer for the future king. This becomes important when the king, thanks to being drugged by his half brother, the villainous Black Michael (Raymond Massey), is unable to attend his coronation. If he doesn't get crowned, Black Michael will become king.  Rudolf is recruited to take the true king's place, but reluctant to do so.  He's talked into it by Colonel Zapt (C. Aubrey Smith) and Fritz von Tarlenheim (David Niven), and then he falls for Princess Flavia (Madeleine Carroll), as who wouldn't?  She falls for him, too, as he seems to be an entirely different person from the man she was supposed to marry.

As you probably know, things don't work out exactly as planned.  Black Michael's buddy Rupert of Hentzau (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) kidnaps the future king and takes him to a castle near Zenda.  It's up to Rudolf to rescue him, which results in some nice derring-do and a sword fight that's not bad at all.

Great cast, great acting, and a bittersweet ending (I wonder if Carroll lobbied to say, "'Tis a far, far better thing I do . . . ," to echo a Colman role of a few years earlier).  You really can't go wrong here.

Side note:  I really enjoy Ronald Colman and his wife Benita Hume on The Jack Benny Show on radio.  And back in the olden days I loved The Halls of Ivy both on radio and TV, a series that might not have had as much to do with my becoming an English teacher as Our Miss Brooks, but one that certainly had a big influence on me.

The Prisoner of Zenda


Monday, June 12, 2017

30 years ago, critics sort of hated ‘Predator’

30 years ago, critics sort of hated ‘Predator’

The Gorgeous 1949 Kurtis Sport Car That Helped Launch Motor Trend Magazine

The Gorgeous 1949 Kurtis Sport Car That Helped Launch Motor Trend Magazine

Song of the Day

CHRIS KENNER - ''I LIKE IT LIKE THAT'' (1961) - YouTube:

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

The Family That Brawls Together, Stays Together: The brawl Sunday at the [Waffle House] restaurant in Lancaster pitted members of one family against three other women. As seen in the above Facebook video, in addition to hair pulling and haymakers, some of the suspects threw utensils and other items snatched off tables.

5 Facts About Civil War Spy Mary Bowser

5 Facts About Civil War Spy Mary Bowser

Today's Vintage Ad

Real or Rumor: The Hotel del Coronado

Real or Rumor: The Hotel del Coronado: Built in 1888, the Hotel del Coronado (or Hotel Del) near San Diego has been the site of ghost hauntings, movie filmings, celebrity getaways, and all kinds of other legendary stuff. Let’s separate the facts from the fiction.


N. R. DeMexico (Robert Bragg), Marijuana Girl, Beacon, 1960

Top 10 Intriguing Origins Of School Supplies

Top 10 Intriguing Origins Of School Supplies

Forgotten Hits: June 12th

Forgotten Hits: June 12th: Aretha Franklin holds on to the #1 spot for the third week in a row as "Respect" remains the #1 Record in the country for this week in 1967.  "Groovin'" by The Young Rascals, the record that held that position three weeks ago, moves UP the chart this week, climbing from #3 to #2 while "I Got Rhythm" by The Happenings falls three places from #2 to #5.  The Turtles continue their ascent up the chart as "She'd Rather Be With Me" climbs from #8 to #4 this week.  "Windy" by The Association breaks into The Top Ten in a big way, jumping from #16 to #7.  (It's already been #1 here in Chicago for weeks now!)  Also new in the Top Ten this week are "Little Bit O'Soul" by The Music Explosion (#8) and "Sunday Will Never Be The Same" by Spanky and Our Gang (#10).  

SuperChart included.

I Miss the Old Days

'Raiders of the Lost Ark' Review: On June 12, 1981, America met Indiana Jones when George Lucas and Steven Spielberg brought Raiders of the Lost Ark to theaters. The Hollywood Reporter's original review is below:

The Crider Ranch

This is the main entrance to the ranch my father loved.  My brother now owns this part of the property, and I own another portion.  My sister had the other one-third.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sci-Fi Sundays: The Original Science Fiction Stories, March 1957

Sci-Fi Sundays: The Original Science Fiction Stories, March 1957

Song of the Day

The Golden Gate Quartet - Down By The River Side ( - YouTube:

Wonder Woman: Revisiting the Comics Story That Redefined Her

Wonder Woman: Revisiting the Comics Story That Redefined Her

Today's Vintage Ad

Or Maybe You Will

Denise Richards inexplicably not included.

Portraits of 19 Classic Hollywood Stars You Won't Believe Have Never Won an Oscar


Frederic Prokosch, The Dark Dancer, Pocket Books, 1965

6 Times Literary Works Were Stolen

6 Times Literary Works Were Stolen

Norro Wilson, R. I. P.

Songwriter Norro Wilson dead at 79: Norro Wilson, the co-writer of classics like “The Grand Tour,” “The Most Beautiful Girl” and “A Picture of Me (Without You),” died Thursday after several months of declining health. He was 79 years old.

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

POLICE BLOTTER: A 60-year-old man angered by another man’s refusal to give him a cigarette attacked the victim with a donut he found on the ground.

Forgotten Hits: June 11th

Forgotten Hits: June 11th

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

University of Texas at Austin Launches Free Digital Edition of "The Collections":  The University of Texas at Austin has released a digital edition of The Collections, the first encyclopedic account of the university’s repository of cultural artifacts. With more than 170 million objects, the university outpaces the largest collections in America and rivals many in variety and importance. The full 720-page volume is published at Available for free download, the broad distribution of the e-book and searchable PDF enables worldwide access to the university’s distinguished collections.

Adam West, R. I. P.

Hollywood Reporter: The actor struggled to find work after the campy superhero series was canceled, but he rebounded with voiceover gigs, including one as the mayor of Quahog on 'Family Guy.'

Wanted Dead or Alive

Wanted Dead or Alive: Hit the road and follow the trails of 10 famous manhunts of the Old West.