Saturday, October 01, 2016

Today's Vintage Ad


I For One Welcome Our New Crocodilian Overlords

Clever crocodile shows off terrifying new fishing technique

PaperBack



Carter Brown, The Plush-Lined Coffin, Signet, 1967

The Weird Week in Review

The Weird Week in Review 

Yet Another List I'm Not On

Hollywood's 25 Most Powerful Authors 2016 

Suzanne Mitchell, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Suzanne Mitchell, who replaced a squad of high school bobby-soxers with a scantily clad chorus line that became a choreographed global brand called the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, died on Tuesday at her home in Fredericksburg, Tex. She was 73.

Oscar Brand, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Oscar Brand, the lanky, affable, gravelly-voiced folk singer and songwriter whose weekly on-air hootenanny was the longest-running radio show in history with a single host, died on Friday at his home in Great Neck, N.Y. He was 96.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Series Architecture: The Same But Different in EC Tubb’s Dumarest

Series Architecture: The Same But Different in EC Tubb’s Dumarest

Tana French: By the Book

Tana French: By the Book 

Friday, September 30, 2016

And You Thought Hollywood Was Out of Ideas

'Dynasty' Reboot in the Works at The CW 

Richard Trentlage, R. I. P.

Man who got generations singing Oscar Mayer Wiener song dies | WTOP: The man who got generations of hot dog lovers singing along to the Oscar Mayer Wiener song has died. Richard Trentlage died Sept. 21 in Libertyville, Illinois, at the age of 87, according to an obituary posted online by a northern Illinois funeral home.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Larkin Malloy, R. I. P.

Deadline: Larkin Malloy, an actor, voice artist, acting teacher and announcer best known for appearing on various soap operas in the 1980s and ’90s including several seasons as Travis Montgomery on All My Children, has died of complications from a heart attack. He was 62.

10 Bars at the End of the World

Atlas Obscura: Raise a glass to some of the most remote and unlikely watering holes in the far reaches of the world.

Song of the Day

Gene Summers - School of Rock and Roll - YouTube:

11 Bulletproof Facts About 'Sledge Hammer!'

11 Bulletproof Facts About 'Sledge Hammer!'

Today's Vintage Ad


An Essay on the Greatness of Gilligan's Island

An Essay on the Greatness of Gilligan's Island 

PaperBack



Carter Brown, The Dame, Signet, 1959

Yes. Yes, I can.

Can You Pick Out The Crocodile From This Group Of Alligators

50 Essential Graphic Novels

Road to Perdition by Max Allen CollinsAbeBooks: 50 Essential Graphic Novels: While the term 'graphic novel' only entered common usage as recently as the late 1970's, novel-length works in either pictures-only forms or pictures in combination with text have existed since the 19th century. Baby boomers who haven't picked up a comic book since childhood will most likely associate the term with the Classics Illustrated series, which does not quite fit the modern definition.

FFB: Tough Guys and Dangerous Dames -- Weinberg, Robert E., Stefan Dziemianowicz and Martin H. Greenberg, editors.

What we have here is a companion volume to Hard-Boiled Detectives (reviewed here), brought to you by the same editorial team.  This time the stories were picked from a lot of different pulps instead of just one, though.  This volume is even longer than the previous one, over 600 pages, which means that I've read over 1000 pages of pulp fiction in the last month.

There are far too many stories for me to comment on all of them, but I have a few words to say about several.  The Robert E. Howard story, "Names in the Black Book," features waterfront detective, Steve Harrison, in a Yellow Peril tale.  I know I risk offending Howard fans when I say this, but some of the writing is pretty bad.  Harrison grunts a lot: "Might be a forgery," grunted the detective, and dialogue is tagged all the time with stuff like answered cryptically, growled pugnaciously, asked abruptly, agreed cheerfully, and so on.  Here's one that puzzled me: "But I can't stay here," he scowled worriedly.  How do you scowl dialogue?  The story itself is full of hacking, slashing, shooting, macing, and plenty of action, which Howard does well, but it's a decidedly lesser effort.

Chandler's "The King in Yellow" is again the high point of the volume, but that's not to slight Leigh Brackett's "I Feel Bad Killing You" with its damaged protagonist, and Lester Dent's "Sail" shows what he could do when he wasn't writing Doc Savage yarns.  I enjoy Raoul Whitfield's Jo Gar stories, while I don't think "The Magician Murder" is one of the better ones, I like the setting and the characters so well that I enjoyed it quite a bit.  Merle Constiner's "The Arm of Mother Manzoli" has so much going on in it that it's certainly mystifying, if not entirely satisfying.

There are a couple of stories with masked protagonists.  The Patent-Leather Kid is featured in Erle Stanley Gardner's "The Kid Clips a Coupon," and I was reminded of both Zorro and the Green Hornet.   The Moon Man of "The Sinister Sphere" by Fredrick C. Davis has a unique mask, I have to admit, even though I didn't believe most of it for a minute.

Robert Bloch gives us a shudder pulp story in "Death Is a Vampire," and Fritz Leiber's "Power of the Puppets" is pretty much straight-out horror.

I got a kick out of the individual style of Robert Leslie Bellem in "Homicide Hunch," a Dan Turner story that has a roscoe sneezing Ka-Chow!  You can't go wrong there.  And Carroll John Daly's "Mr. Sinister" has Satan Hall, the hardest of the hard-boiled guys, or close to it.  Mickey Spillane learned a lot from Satan Hall, I think.

I enjoyed all the rest of the stories, too.  If you want to return to those thrilling days of men in fedoras, casual racism, cars with running boards, and lots of smoking, you can't go wrong with this anthology.

Table of Contents:
Sail / Lester Dent
The magician murder / Raoul Whitfield
Black / Paul Cain
The king in yellow / Raymond Chandler
Chains of darkness / Frederick Nebel
The arm of Mother Manzoli / Merle Constiner
Murder in the red / Norbert Davis
Brand of Kane / Hugh B. Cave
Two biers for Buster / William Campbell Gault
Blond cargo / Fred MacIsaac
Mr. Sinister / Carroll John Daly
The kid clips a coupon / Erle Stanley Gardner
Tarantula bait / Paul Chadwick
The sinister sphere / Fred C. Davis
The lady is a corpse! / John D. MacDonald
The lunatic plague / Donald Wandrei
Slack wires / Arthur J. Burks
Homicide hunch / Robert Leslie Bellem
Power of the puppets / Fritz Leiber
Death is a vampire / Robert Bloch
Death at the main / Frank Gruber
I feel bad killing you / Leigh Brackett
The case of the frozen corpses / Ray Cummings
Names in the black book / Robert E. Howard

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Uh-Oh

Alfred Hitchcock Estate Inks Universal Cable Development Deal: As part of the partnership, UCP will develop an anthology series called Welcome to Hitchcock based on the filmmaker's most popular movies including The Birds and Psycho and television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The new show will focus on a single seasonlong mystery or crime in the vein of Hitchcock's classic style.

Missing Links

Several people have e-mailed me to say that the list of links that usually appears in a sidebar to the right has disappeared.  Apparently this has happened to many blogs today, and of course it's impossible to find anything out from Google.  I don't know if this is a permanent condition of if it will be corrected.  You can bet that Google will never tell us anything.

In Sunlight or in Shadow -- Lawrence Block, Editor

The full title of this book is In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper.  It contains 17 stories along with full-color reproductions of the paintings that inspired them, so it's a great book to look at as well as to read.  There's a dynamite lineup of authors, as you can see from the cover reproduced to the left.  And in case you're wondering, the story inspired by the cover painting is by Joe Lansdale.  It's a crime story that involves a movie theater, and it has Lansdale's signature touch.  

Not all the stories are crime stories, however.  Jill Block's is a mainstream story about family.  Stephen King has a quiet (sort of) horror story.  Block's story is a historical crime story that has a great sense of place and time.  The crime involved is quite a small one.  Craig Ferguson (yes, that Craig Ferguson) writes about two old men nearing the end, and Megan Abbott writes about strippers.  It's Michael Connelly who gets to write about "Nighthawks."  All the stories are a pleasure to read, and it's fun to think of how a story you might have written about the pictures would have been like or different from the ones told here.  Highly recommended.

The 150 Most Commonly Mispronounced Words

The 150 Most Commonly Mispronounced Words, Explained

Song of the Day

Dee Clark - Just Keep It Up (STEREO) - YouTube:

Forgotten Hits: SWEET 16 ... Sweet Dreams Edition!

Forgotten Hits: SWEET 16 ... Sweet Dreams Edition!

Today's Vintage Ad


First It Was the Thin Mints Melee. . . .

. . . and now it's the Stiletto Shoe Slashing

6 Early Versions of Classic Movies

6 Early Versions of Classic Movies 

PaperBack



Theodore H. White, The Mountain Road, Signet, 1960

I'm Sure George Kelley Has Some

Relentlessly Relevant: On July 31, the U.S. Postal Office issued an 89-cent stamp in honor of Henry James. The issuance is part of the Postal Service’s Literary Arts series — James is the 31st figure in American literature to be so honored.

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Good handwriting is vital in the digital age - especially for children

37 Books With Plot Twists That Will Blow Your Mind

37 Books With Plot Twists That Will Blow Your Mind  

Hat tip to Deb.

Agnes Nixon, R. I. P.

Agnes Nixon, Queen of the Modern Soap Opera, dead at 88: Born in Chicago, Nixon became a leading force in the world of the daytime, where she created the long-running and groundbreaking show "All My Children" and "One Life to Live."  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Gator Update (Belly Rub Edition)

Why Do Alligators Fall Asleep if You Rub Their Bellies? 

Overlooked Music -- a legendary songwriter

The Hit Man: Even if you’ve never heard of Otis Blackwell, you’ve almost certainly heard his music—he was one of the most influential songwriters of the 20th century. Here’s the story of the most famous songwriter most people have never heard of.