Friday, October 13, 2017

Across the Street from the Bouchercon Hotel with Angela


I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The most breathtaking buildings in the world 

Song of the Day

Today's Vintage Ad


I Miss the Old Days

Glamorous Photos That Capture Teenage Girls of Fresno State College in the 1960s

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Neil Curtis, The Land of Esa, Curtis Books, 1952

Top 10 Recent Discoveries From Ancient China

Top 10 Recent Discoveries From Ancient China

FFB: Bloody Vengeance -- Jack Ehrlich

Jack Ehrlich wrote a lot of dandy paperbacks, both westerns and crime novels, although he's almost entirely forgotten now.  One of the most amazing of them is Bloody Vengeance.  I think I wrote once that I didn't know if Ehrlich was serious in this book or if it was a parody of the series like The Executioner and its many imitators.  Either way, reading it is quite an experience, and it's just as relevant now as it was back in 1973.

Here's the premise.  Some cops decide to take the law into their own hands.  If the law's not convicting the scum on the streets, why not just kill them?  What if this worked out so well that other cops took up the idea?  What if it became a movement that spread across the country?  What if the instigator if the whole thing became a powerful political figure and the head of a powerful political movement?

There are a couple of ways to take the book, as I said, but whichever one you choose, I think you'll agree that the book is very well done and pretty dang scary.  You can tell yourself that it can't happen here, but don't you have to wonder a little?  Check it out and see what you think.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

7 Greco-Roman Mystery Cults You Should Know

7 Greco-Roman Mystery Cults You Should Know

Song of the Day

Song of the Day

Today's Vintage Ad


I'm Sure You'll All Agree

17 Creepy As Hell Books You Should Read If You Love Halloween

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Anne Powers, Ride East! Ride West!, Ace, 1960

10 History Myths Still Taught As Fact

10 History Myths Still Taught As Fact

Bouchercon Bound

My oncologist gave me the okay to attend the Bouchercon in Toronto.  I think I'm up to the trip, but there's only one way to find out for sure.  Assuming I get there and survive, I'll be back in Alvin late next Monday.  The blog will proceed mostly as usual since I've scheduled stuff to appear.  I won't be available by email most of the time, but I'll try to check it occasionally.  My daughter, Angela, was planning to be in Toronto as well, but the fires in and around Sonoma County might wreak havoc with those plans.  I hope not, though.

Bonus FFB for Wednesday: The Villa of Mysteries -- David Hewson

After reading a review of this book by David Vineyard on Steve Lewis' Mystery*File, I thought I'd give it a try.  It's a considerably complexly plotted mystery set in Rome with a big cast of characters that includes cops (Costa, Peroni,  Falcone), a pathologist (Teresa Lupo), the anti-Mafia squad, Mafia members, revenge, ancient rituals, buried secrets, and probably more that I'm forgetting.  

Things are set in motion when a pair of Ugly American tourists discover a bog body.  The body is at first wrongly identified by Lupo as being as much as 2000 years old, but it's not. It's only 17 years old, and the girl is soon identified correctly. Then a mother comes to the police because of the apparent abduction of her daughter.  That's when things get complicated.  There's a series of revelations at the end of the novel, one after another, many of them surprising.

This is a literate but overlong thriller.  Excellent atmosphere and local color, along with some genuine creepiness.  Check it out.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Why Coco Chanel Created the Little Black Dress

Why Coco Chanel Created the Little Black Dress

Song of the Day

When Bond Battled Bond at the 1983 Box Office

When Bond Battled Bond at the 1983 Box Office

Today's Vintage Ad


A Literary Tour of London

A Literary Tour of London: Like the city itself, the list of books where the plot threads through London's crowded streets is immense and rather overpowering. Where does one start when recommending books set in the city? We are assuming you have already read enough Dickensian literature although Oliver Twist is always worth revisiting.  We're deducing Sherlock Holmes is too obvious for this reading list.

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Gertrude Schweitzer, The Obsessed, Gold Medal, 1950

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

This Is the Best Gas Station Coffee in Every State, Explained in One Amazing Map

I Miss the Old Days

Sonny & Cher: 30 Lovely Photos of American Singer Couple in the 1960s: Sonny & Cher were an American pop music duo, actors, singers and entertainers made up of husband-and-wife Sonny and Cher Bono in the 1960s and 1970s. The couple started their career in the mid-1960s as R&B backing singers for record producer Phil Spector.

2017 Top Halloween Candy by State

2017 Top Halloween Candy by State Interactive Map

Overlooked Movies: The True Story of Jesse James

What do you think when you see a the title of a Hollywood movie like The True Story of Jesse James? Maybe I’m just a cynic, but I think that probably everything I see in the movie is going to be pretty far from the truth, and that turns out to be the case with The True Story of Jesse James

Robert Wagner is Jesse, who sports the definitive 1950s haircut. Jeffery Hunter is Frank, whose haircut is nearly as good. 

Now I’ll digress, if I haven't already. Not long ago I reviewed Black Bart a pretty dang good 1940s western with even less historic material than this one.  It's more fun, too.  But that’s not the point. The point is that the climactic scene of Black Bart seems to have been pretty much borrowed intact by William Goldman for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I couldn’t rouse any comments about that on the blog post at the tme, but maybe somebody will speak up now. 

To continue the digression, the opening of The True Story of Jesse James is the Northfield raid, followed by a chase scene organized by the Remington (why not call it Pinkerton if this is the true story?) detective agency. The chase shows huge numbers of men chasing Jesse and Frank, and it looks and ends pretty much just like a famous scene in, you guessed it, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. You can see a tiny bit of it in the trailer. I think Goldman committed another homage in his movie. Anybody else want to say something? I’d sure like to get some more opinions on this. 

Now back to our regularly scheduled review. Wagner and Hunter get to do a couple of shirtless scenes, which surely helped sell the movie to teen girls in the ‘50s, so there’s that. It’s not a bad movie, but in spite of that and Cinemascope and its good production values, it never really rises above the pack. And it sure never gets too close to the truth. Beyond Hunter and Wagner, there’s a good cast that includes Hope Lange, Agnes Moorehead, John Carradine, Allan Hale, Jr., and Frank Gorshin. I liked the blind guy at the end who apparently makes up “The Ballad of Jesse James” on the spot and sings it. I had a little cardboard 78 of this song when I was a kid, and I sang it relentlessly. So I grew up with the legend of Jesse as the Robin Hood of the West, which the movie perpetrates against all the historical evidence. But to paraphrase a line from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, when the truth becomes legend, we might as well sing the legend. The Kingston Trio did a great version of the song in the early ‘60s to lead off their first album with John Stewart replacing Dave Guard. The KT was never the same for me, but I like their version of the song, anyway.

True Story of Jesse James

Monday, October 09, 2017

Y.A. Tittle, R. I. P.

abc7ny.com: Y.A. Tittle, the Hall of Fame quarterback and 1963 NFL Most Valuable Player, has died. He was 90.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Alvin, Texas, Leads the Way

abc7ny.com: Chloe Bennett and Timothy Watterreus were busy preparing for their wedding when Hurricane Harvey struck in August. But like many Houstonians, their plans were put on hold by the destructive storm. 

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Jimmy Beaumont, R. I. P.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Jimmy Beaumont, the golden-voiced singer of the Skyliners, died Saturday in his sleep at his home in McKeesport at age 76 after a career that lasted nearly 60 years.

Unseen photos from Weegee

Unseen photos from Weegee, the cigar-chomping master of the NYC streets

Song of the Day

15 Companies That Changed Their Names

15 Companies That Changed Their Names

Today's Vintage Ad


Top 10 Female Duels And Duelists

Top 10 Female Duels And Duelists

PaperBack



Mark Tryon, The Fire that Burns, Berkley, 1959

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich In Every State, According To Yelp

I Miss the Old Days

11 of the Best Articles: We Really Read the Old 'Playboy' for the Articles

Forgotten Hits: October 9th

Forgotten Hits: October 9th: "The Letter" by The Box Tops and "Never My Love" by The Association hold on to their #1 and #2 spots respectively on this week's chart.  Gaining fast are "To Sir With Love" by Lulu (up from #9 to #3 … and a sure fire #1 hit), "Little Ole Man" by Bill Cosby (#8 to #4), "How Can I Be Sure" by The Young Rascals (#11 to #6) and "Gimme Little Sign" by Brenton Wood (#12 to #8).  

Includes SuperChart, some tunes to play, and other good stuff.

The Story Behind The Godfather

The Story Behind The Godfather: The Godfather is considered one of the best movies ever made—the American Film Institute ranks it #3, after Citizen Kane and Casablanca. The story of how it got made is just as good.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Hammett Prize Winner

Hammett Prize Winner

“A Shadow of Lead” (by Lou Manfredo)

“A Shadow of Lead” (by Lou Manfredo) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: Lou Manfredo has been a regular contributor to EQMM since 2006. He is best known for his series of novels featuring Brooklyn cop Joe Rizzo, a character Kirkus Reviews called “the most authentic cop in contemporary crime fiction.” That authenticity probably derives from the twenty-five years Lou spent working in the Brooklyn criminal-justice system. Fans of Rizzo can see him again in “Rizzo’s Monkey Store,” in EQMM’s next issue, November/December 2017 (on sale October 24). Lou’s post today is timely, as violence and disasters seem to be making our world an ever more dangerous place. . . . —Janet Hutchings

Song of the Day

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Top 100 Western Songs:  Songs 1 to 20

Today's Vintage Ad


5 Self-Portraits Famous Authors Doodled in Their Own Books

5 Self-Portraits Famous Authors Doodled in Their Own Books

PaperBack



John A. Moroso, Passionate Fool, Red Circle

Roz Chast: By the Book

Roz Chast: By the Book: The author of, most recently, “Going Into Town,” enjoys listening to audiobooks while working on a craft project like embroidering: “My idea of a really good time.”

I Miss the Old Days

New York in the 1950s: 23 Fascinating Color Snapshots May Make You Softhearted

12 Fascinating Facts About Crows

12 Fascinating Facts About Crows