Saturday, October 01, 2016

Monsters among Us -- Linda S. Godfrey

The full title is Monsters Among Us: An Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena.  If you want to believe, this is the book for you.  If you don't want to believe, well, it's still going to be fun because it's full of eyewitness accounts from people who have seen (or claim to have see) some mighty strange things.  I don't know if you've ever read Lew Shiner's story "Lizardmen of Los Angeles," but it's a good one (and it's free at the link).  In Godfrey's book you can find out about the real (or unreal) thing.

Some of the stories here are old, some are new, and there's something to appeal to just about anybody curious about cryptids and other creatures.  If you're a skeptic who can't be persuaded to suspend disbelief, then maybe this isn't for you.  Everybody else is in for a good time, though.

How the Mona Lisa became so overrated

How the Mona Lisa became so overrated 

Song of the Day

Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band - Night moves (album version) - YouTube:

How Coke Killed Crystal Pepsi

How Coke Killed Crystal Pepsi

Today's Vintage Ad


I For One Welcome Our New Crocodilian Overlords

Clever crocodile shows off terrifying new fishing technique

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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 

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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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

10 Unseen Images Of The Beatles Filming "A Hard Day's Night"

10 Unseen Images Of The Beatles Filming "A Hard Day's Night"

Uh-Oh

'The Italian Job' Reboot in the Works at NBC   

Hat tip to Fred Zackel.

“How Characters I Know Affect What I Write” by (Terrie Farley Moran)

“How Characters I Know Affect What I Write” by (Terrie Farley Moran) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: Terrie Farley Moran began her fiction-writing career with short stories, and her 2015 Agatha-nominated story for EQMM, “A Killing at the Beausoleil” is a prequel to her Read ’Em and Eat novels. The first book in that series, Well Read, Then Dead, won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel in 2014, and it has been followed by two more books, Caught Read-Handed and Read to Death. In this new post she talks about some of the differences between writing short stories and novels.—Janet Hutchings

Song of the Day

The Beat "Rock N Roll Girl" - YouTube:

What Is Shakespeare’s Most Popular Play?

What Is Shakespeare’s Most Popular Play? 

Today's Vintage Ad


Once Again Texas Leads the Way

‘Register to vote, get a taco’: Houston taco trucks put voter registration booths ‘on every corner’

Yet People Say Romance Is Dead

Chinese man pledges love with 999 boxes of condoms, bouquet fashioned from G-strings  

Hat tip to Fred Zackel.

PaperBack



James M. Cain, Jealous Woman, Avon, 1951

The New York Public Library’s “human Google” service

The New York Public Library’s little-known “human Google” service answers any question by phone 

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 15 Best Worst Episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series

Rich Playboys, Mad Scientists, and Venusian Monsters

Rich Playboys, Mad Scientists, and Venusian Monsters: The Best of Stanley Weinbaum

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Here's How Book Covers Look In The UK Vs. The US

Here's How Book Covers Look In The UK Vs. The US

Song of the Day

Hot Blooded - Foreigner - YouTube:

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The best cereals of all time, ranked

Today's Vintage Ad


Maybe You Should Write a Book

The Trap of Solid Gold: Maybe You Should Write a Book

PaperBack



Philip Benjamin, Quick, Before it Melts, Avon, 1964

24 of the Most Banned Books of All Time

24 of the Most Banned Books of All Time

I Didn't Know #9

12 Things You Might Not Know About T.S. Eliot 

Overlooked Movies: Have a Nice Funeral, My Friend, Sartana Will Pay

This movie goes by several variations on the title above, I think.  It's part of a spaghetti western series about Sartana, another man in black, who's not just a skilled gunman but a con man, a gambler, and a guy who can kill you with a playing card.  He's always after money, it seems, and in the town of Indian Creek he plays a banker and the Chinese owner of a gambling hall against each other as they vie for a property they believe to be valuable.  Lots of people die.

Here's the kind of movie this is.  Three guys are going to kill Sartana as he rides through a canyon.  Instead of shooting him, which would be far too easy, they're going to kill him by letting 15 or 20 logs roll down the side of the canyon and crush him.  Somehow they get these logs to the top of the canyon wall, every one of them perfectly round and of perfectly identical size.  They get them stacked and ready to roll when the ropes holding them are cut.  All this would have taken about a month to accomplish, but they get it done in a few minutes, it seems.  We don't know how they do it.  They just do.  And believe it or not, their cunning plan fails.

Gianni Garko is very good as Sartana, and the soundtrack is excellent.  There are a number of good scenes.  The plot mostly makes sense, with a nice little twist at the end.  The movie probably won't convince you to become a spaghetti western fan, but it's good second-rate fare and fun while it lasts.

Bad Movie Night: ‘Valley of the Dolls’

Bad Movie Night: The Deliciously Campy Showbiz ExposĂ© ‘Valley of the Dolls’

Have a Nice Funeral

HAVE A NICE FUNERAL SARTANA WILL PAY TRAILER - YouTube:

Monday, September 26, 2016

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee. . . .

Quarrel Over Orgy Got All Stabby 

The 2016 British Fantasy Awards Winners

The 2016 British Fantasy Awards Winners

Robert Weinberg, R. I. P.

Robert Weinberg: 1946-2016: Longtime pulp collector and historian Robert Weinberg died Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016. He had been in poor health for a number of years.  

Hat tip to Howard Peters.

30 words and phrases that will soon disappear from American English

30 words and phrases that will soon disappear from American English   

Hat tip to Deb.

Herschell Gordon Lewis, R. I. P.

Bloody Disgusting!: Lewis is the man responsible for such films as Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs!, A Taste of Blood, The Gruesome Twosome, Scum of the Earth!, and She-Devils on Wheels, which is only a few of the titles he worked on. Lewis took an extended hiatus from directing after 1972’s The Gore Gore Girls only to return for 2002’s Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat, the sequel to the 1963 film that is widely considered to be the first splatter film.

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee. . . .

Man stabbed after cutting DC pizza line

Phillip Thompson -- Outside the Law

Outside the Law is an original novel, not a reprint.  (Brash Books is doing a lot more originals these days.)  It's set in a rural Mississippi county that has more murders per week than Sheriff Dan Rhodes sees in years.  Someone's ripping off meth dealers who work for the Memphis mob and then someone's killing the dealers as an object lesson.  It's a good thing Sheriff Colt Harper is more like Raylan Givens than Dan Rhodes.

Harper is a man with a troubled past and his own moral code, and that means sometimes he doesn't mind doing things that are outside the law, especially when it comes to killers like the man called Hack.  Also pursuing Hack is Molly McDonough, who's gone rogue from her job at the FBI.

There are survivors in the end, but hardly anyone comes out unscathed in this fast-moving story (I read it in two sittings).  Thompson provides lots of gunplay, snappy dialogue, and plenty of intriguing characters.  Good stuff.  Check it out.

The Socialite Spy Who Outsmarted the Nazis

The Daily Beast: Big game hunter, legendary French Riviera partier, and a quintessential WASP—Gertrude Sanford was also a vital U.S. spy who managed to outmaneuver the Nazis after being captured.

Song of the Day

If Teardrops Were Silver - YouTube:

One of the Earliest Science Fiction Books Was Written in the 1600s by a Duchess

Atlas Obscura: No one could get into philosophical argument with Lady Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and walk away unchanged. Born in 1623, Cavendish was an outspoken aristocrat who traveled in circles of scientific thinkers, and broke ground on proto-feminism, natural philosophy (the 17th century term for science), and social politics.

Jean Shepard, R. I. P.

Billboard: Country Music has lost one of its’ colorful characters -- and beloved performers -- with the passing of Grand Ole Opry star Jean Shepard, who passed away Sunday morning (Sept. 25) after an extended illness at the age of 82.

Today's Vintage Ad


What does Stephen King think of all those Stephen King movies?

What does Stephen King think of all those Stephen King movies?: From 'Carrie' to 'The Mist,' the author weighs in

PaperBack



Jack Hanley, Tomcat in Tights, Avon Monthly Novel, 1951

Great books about books

Great books about books

I Miss the Old Days

Witty and macabre Addams Family coloring book from 1965

Michael McDowell’s Blackwater

The Shadow over Innsmouth as a Generational Family Saga in Rural Alabama: Michael McDowell’s Blackwater

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Arnold Palmer, R. I. P.

Arnold Palmer: 'The King' of golf dies at 87: Arnold Palmer was the telegenic golfer who took a staid sport to TV and to the masses

Interview with James Reasoner

Faded Trails: Interview with James Reasoner

The Skeleton Haunts a House -- Leigh Perry (Toni L. P. Kelner)

Sid the sentient skeleton detective is back for another adventure.  I reviewed one of his earlier cases here.  Sid can see although he doesn't have eyes, hear although he doesn't have ears, and think although he doesn't have a brain.  He'd be insulted by that last comment, I'm sure, but there it is.  He can also disassemble himself in a trice and various bones can move on their own.  How does this work?  Leigh Perry wisely doesn't try to explain it.  It's just the way it is.

Sid lives in the attic of the Thackery family and is Dr. Georgia Thackery's best friend.  Georgia is an adjunct English prof, and she, her sister, Deborah, and their parents, along with Madison, Georgia's daughter, are the only ones who interact with Sid.  Georgia's parents didn't appear in the earlier book I reviewed, but they're back for this one, and just in the nick of time, too.

This is the season for haunted houses, and billboards have begun to appear on the highways around Houston advertising this year's attractions.  'Tis the season.  The Skeleton Haunts a House was the a natural for me to read now since there's a murder in a haunted house (McHades Hall) at the Halloween Howl at the college where Georgia teaches.  Georgia and Sid, dressed as Scooby Doo and Velma, are at McHades Hall when the murder occurs, and Deborah is in charge of things there.  She's normally not a fan of Georgia and Sid's amateur sleuthing, but this time she asks them to investigate.

There's a lot more than a murder investigation going on here, though.  Perry has a lot to say about family issues, the sad conditions that adjunct faculty suffer under, the lives of college students, relationships, and more.  It's all told with humor in the appropriate places and in lively prose.  Sid (he likes to think of himself as Sherlock Bones) and Georgia come through in the end, of course, and there's a lot of fun (and a bit of romance) to be had along the way.  Check it out.


The Secret Cave in Central Park

The Secret Cave in Central Park—And Why It Was Sealed 

Song of the Day

Chuck Wagon Gang - Heaven's Jubilee - YouTube:

7 Hidden Art Secrets That Were Uncovered With Technology

7 Hidden Art Secrets That Were Uncovered With Technology

Today's Vintage Ad


Roadside Curiosities

Roadside Curiosities: Things That Make You Go “What the Heck?”

Jose Fernandez, R. I. P.

Fox News: Miami Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed Sunday morning after a boat crash in Miami Beach, the team announced.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

PaperBack



Nigel Balchin, The Small Back Room, Lion Books, 1950

I Want to Believe!

Artist fools tourists with monument to giant-octopus attack on Staten Island Ferry  

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Bill Nunn, R. I. P.

BuzzFeed News: Bill Nunn, a veteran actor best known for his role as Radio Raheem in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, has died at age 62. The cause of his death is not yet known.

Hat tip to Deb.

Inside the FBI’s Colossal Fingerprint Factory

Inside the FBI’s Colossal Fingerprint Factory

How Cats Conquered the World

How Cats Conquered the World (and a Few Viking Ships)

Robert McGinnis’ New Covers for Neil Gaiman’s Early Paperbacks

Feast Your Eyes on Robert McGinnis’ New Covers for Neil Gaiman’s Early Paperbacks

Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural, R.I. P.

Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural, leader of Buckwheat Zydeco, dies at 68: LAFAYETTE, La. -Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr., leader of the Grammy- and Emmy-winning band Buckwheat Zydeco, died Saturday . Dural, who had lung cancer, was 68.

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Mystery of New Dimensions 13

The Mystery of New Dimensions 13