Friday, June 23, 2017

The German POWs Who Lived, Worked and Loved in Texas

The German POWs Who Lived, Worked and Loved in Texas  

There was a camp located a couple of miles outside of Mexia, Texas.  Old folks still remember seeing them get off the train and being marched to the camp.  I was too young to see it, although I've heard the stories so often that I sometimes believe I was there.  Many of them worked on the farms around town, and memorabilia from that era (envelopes and such) turns up on eBay often.  Some of the old buildings still exist.

Song of the Day

Jerry Lee Lewis Fools Like Me - YouTube:

Perfectly Understandable

Central Texas Prius driver, 76, charged with shooting at couple who made 'obscene gesture': "From what we were able to ascertain, they had been stuffed behind this Prius for a couple of towns," McGuire said. "When they got to a place where they could pass, one of the occupants made an obscene gesture. The driver took exception and a bit of offense, and produced a handgun and shot rounds at the vehicle."

Today's Vintage Ad


I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Best Movie Posters Since 2010  

Link via Neatorama.

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Albert L.  Quandt, Pick-Up Alley, Venus Books, 1950

I Miss the Old Days

Before Smartphone Selfie, Here Are 25 Coolest Family Photos Ever Taken

An Exhaustive Breakdown of Patrick Swayze’s ‘Road House’

An Exhaustive Breakdown of Patrick Swayze’s ‘Road House’: The 1989 movie about the best damn bouncer you’ve ever seen is more like a religious experience

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Man enraged over nachos stabbed Las Vegas cook 14 times 

FFB: Lost Horizon -- James Hilton

I'd never read Lost Horizon or seen any of the movies based on it, but when I read Michael Dirda's comments on the book in the Wall Street Journal, I figured it was time I did.  The essay is behind a paywall, but here's how it begins:  "Now and again, a novel seems to achieve a kind of perfection, a faultless balance in its tone, structure and style. Think of Ford Madox Ford’s 'The Good Soldier,' F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 'The Great Gatsby,' Vladimir Nabokov’s 'Lolita.' It may seem sacrilege, but I would add to any such list of 20th-century masterpieces James Hilton’s "'Lost Horizon.'”  I think you'll agree that he puts the novel into some pretty heady company, so I checked my local library's holdings, and was a little surprised to find that they had a copy.  It hadn't been weeded from the shelves, although it's been there so long that it has a cardholder pasted in front.

The problem with reading a book like this when you're my age is that even if you've never read it before or seen the movies, you know what it's about.  You've heard of it all your life because it was so famous at one time, even though it wasn't a success on its original publication.  There's not likely to be a lot of suspense involved in the reading.  

It also turns out that almost nothing happens in the novel.  There's a prologue that is mostly a conversation between three old school chums, followed by an airplane hijacking.  What follows after the plane sets down and the four passengers are rescued is mostly a series of conversations and ruminations.  That didn't matter to me, however, because there are secrets and a well-developed plot, the conversations and ruminations were interesting, and the idea of Shangri-La is as appealing as ever to me, although not to one of the characters in the novel.  

To me, that was the weakest part of the book, not that that the character didn't like the idea of Shangri-La but that the protagonist, Conway, has such an affection for a querulous and complaining young man.  There's nothing in the book to make him attractive in the least (or not to me, anyway). Aside from that, this short novel kept me entertained all the way.  I'm glad I finally got around to reading it.

[SPOILER ALERT]:  What's the secret of Shangri-La?  When Conway says, "Perhaps the exhaustion of the passions is the beginning of wisdom . . . ."  The lama replies, "That also, my son, is the doctrine of Shangri-La."[END OF SPOILER ALERT]

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Free for Kindle for a Limited Time

Death Comes eCalling (Book 1, Molly Masters Mysteries) by [O'Kane, Leslie]Death Comes eCalling (Book 1, Molly Masters Mysteries) - Kindle edition by Leslie O'Kane. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.  Meet Molly Masters, a zany mother and accidental sleuth who owns a one-woman business that creates humorous eCards. After a twenty-year absence, Molly has relocated her family to her childhood home in a suburb of Albany, NY, only to have her husband's reassignment abruptly changed to overseas.

Molly's least-favorite high school teacher dies on the very same day that Molly receives both a letter from that teacher and an anonymous email that threatens Molly's life. All too soon, Molly finds herself knee deep in gossip...and murder.

Smith -- Timothy J. Lockhart

There's no way to talk about this book without giving away something that the author doesn't want you to know in the first chapter, but that's okay.  The cover gives it away, too.

The story opens with Smith killing a man who's having fun in a hot tub.  She thinks she's gotten away clean, but she's picked up by members of a shadowy government group known as The Enterprise, whose job is assassinations, and they want Smith to join.  She has no real choice, so she does.

Following that we see her training, her first job, which goes okay, and her second, which goes badly wrong.  Along the way we find out more about her background, about why she killed the man in the hot tub, about her past.  She becomes more human and develops a relationship.

All this might seem pretty standard, but it's done well, and it didn't give me any idea of where the book was headed.  The final job and its results surprised me, although maybe they shouldn't have.  

It's good to see Stark House taking a chance on original fiction.  I love the reprints, but it's fun to meet new writers with interesting books.  Check it out.

Nancy Drew: 12 Fascinating Facts About the Feminist Icon

Nancy Drew: 12 Fascinating Facts About the Feminist Icon

Song of the Day

It's In The Way That You Use It - YouTube:

22 Small Towns That Will Make You Wonder How They Got Their Names

22 Small Towns That Will Make You Wonder How They Got Their Names

Today's Vintage Ad


I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time 

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Don Elliott (Robert Silverberg), Naked She Died, Ember Library, 1965

10 Famous Book Hoarders

10 Famous Book Hoarders  

Hat tip to Steve Stilwell.

I Miss the Old Days

This Is What Going To The Beach Was Like In The '70s

This week’s tabloids

Trump’s White House hit list, America’s most hated mom, and sex scandals, in this week’s tabloids 

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Nicolas Cage Is the King of the Good Bad Movie  

Hat tip to Deb.

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

Kepler Finds 219 New Planets

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

“The Case of the Unrecognized Editor” (by John Duvall)

“The Case of the Unrecognized Editor” (by John Duvall) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: John Duvall is the Margaret Church Distinguished Professor of English at Purdue University. He has published extensively on modern and contemporary American fiction. In this post he discusses how EQMM helped to reignite the career of one of America’s greatest literary writers, William Faulkner. Interested readers can find a fuller treatment of EQMM’s role in popularizing William Faulkner in John’s article “An Error in Canonicity, or, A Fuller Explanation of Faulkner’s Return to Print Culture, 1946-1951,” published in May 2017 in Faulkner and Print Culture (University Press of Mississippi), edited by Jay Watson. We’re delighted to be able to share the insights of so highly regarded a scholar with our readers.—Janet Hutchings

Free and liberated ebooks, carefully produced for the true book lover

Standard Ebooks: Free and liberated ebooks, carefully produced for the true book lover.  

Many great classics. Load up.

Song of the Day

Jackson Browne - Doctor My Eyes lyrics - YouTube:

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Gun brandished, three arrested in Pierce over chicken nuggets: PUYALLUP, Wash. -- A complaint over too few chicken nuggets and one missing drink got out of hand this week. Way out of hand.

10 Characters Left Out of the Movie Versions of Popular Books

10 Characters Left Out of the Movie Versions of Popular Books

Today's Vintage Ad


I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

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Duncan Tylor, Red Curtain, Beacon, 1959

La, La, La, Can't Hear You

Top 10 Hoarders Who Were Killed By Their Own Hoard

I Miss the Old Days

65 Vivid Color Photos Defined the Female Fashion Styles in the 1970s

Forgotten Hits: June 21st

Forgotten Hits: June 21st: Jefferson Airplane have the highest debut of the week with another one of my all-time favorites, "White Rabbit", which premiers at #56.  (Their first chart hit, "Somebody To Love", is still in The Top Ten, holding at #6.  

Lots of song links today.

James Yaffe, R. I. P.

New York Times: [James Yaffe,] a college professor and writer whose fiction and non-fiction chronicled the lives of American Jews in the 20th century, died June 4 at his residence in Denver, CO. He was 90. Yaffe was the author of 11 novels, two short-story collections and two works of non-fiction

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: Kiss Off the Dead -- Garrity

Garrity was David J. Gerrity, who also wrote as Dave J. Garrity.  He was pals with Mickey Spillane, who helped him get into the writing game and who provided blurbs for some of Gerrity's later novels, which were put out by Spillane's paperback publisher, Signet.  Kiss off the Dead was Gerrity's first novel, and it's very much in the Spillane vein.

Max Carey is an ex-cop, booted off the force for taking kickbacks.  He's been honest for most of his career, but his wife is very demanding, and he needs more and more money.  Finally he weakens, and almost as soon as he gets the boot, his wife leaves him.  He goes looking for her to get revenge, and after a long search (three years) he finds her in one of those Florida towns that crops up in a lot of paperback crime fiction, corrupt to the core.  She claims she still loves him, and there's a passionate reunion, after which she turns up dead.  

You know the drill.  The cops are after Carey, the local rackets guys are after Cary, and it's all he can do to keep ahead of them.  Luckily he meets a hat-check girl named Sherry, who falls for him immediately, as often happens in this kind of book, and who helps him out.  Carey is hardboiled and tough, the book is full of action, and [SPOILER ALERT] the resolution is very much of a Spillanean nature [END OF SPOILER ALERT].

Not one of the best Gold Medals, but enjoyable enough and a quick read.  Garrity did another one (Cry Me a Killer) for Gold Medal before moving to Signet, where he published a private-eye novel about a character named Peter Braid.  I read it long ago and remember nothing about it.  He also wrote some Mafia novels and auto-racing novels for Signet that I haven't read.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Will the Persecution Never End?

23 Terrible Nicolas Cage Movies  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Ancient Crocodile Hunters That Helped To Supply The Roman Games

The Ancient Crocodile Hunters That Helped To Supply The Roman Games: How did Romans come to incorporate crocodiles into displays within the Roman games? A look at the myths, fear and artistic depictions of crocodiles reveals a Roman fascination with these fearsome creatures--and with the majesty of ancient Egypt.

Song of the Day

Ricky Nelson - A Long Vacation - YouTube:

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 50 Best Drive-In Restaurants in the U.S.

Today's Vintage Ad


I Miss the Old Days

Yearbook “Class Favorites” from the 1970s   

Link via Messy Nessy.

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Luke Roberts, Reefer Club, Uni Books, 1953

Some Versions of 'The Tortoise and the Hare' Messed With the Moral

Some Versions of 'The Tortoise and the Hare' Messed With the Moral: ALMOST ANYONE GROWING UP IN an English-speaking culture knows the story of The Tortoise and the Hare. In the tale, the two animals challenge one another to a race to prove who is fastest: mid-race, the hare lays down to rest, certain that it’s going to win. Then out comes the tortoise, plodding along without pause, the winner; slow and steady wins the race, as the moral goes. Then there’s a huge forest fire, and almost everybody dies.

I know only two people who like this movie, . . .

. . . and one of them is me.

Second Glance: The Melancholy Madness of ‘Joe Versus the Volcano’

Overlooked Movies: The Prisoner of Zenda (1952)

Last week I did a post on the 1937 version of The Prisoner of Zenda, and this week we have the 1952 version, which is the one I saw in the theater when I was a kid.  Back in 1952, Hollywood hadn't started to "reimagine" movies.  When The Prisoner of Zenda was remade, they just dusted off the old script, spiffed up the soundtrack, and filmed it in color.  Oh, and they hired different actors, too.  Many people think the 1937 version is superior to this one, but I'm here to speak a good word for it.

Since the plot is the same and the script is the same (almost line for line), what's there to talk about?  Technicolor, for one thing.  I know that the B&W photography in the '37 version is wonderful, but Technicolor adds a lot to a historical spectacle like this one, or it does for me.  I love Technicolor, which is far superior to some of the washed out color we see these days.

Now for the actors.  Stewart Granger is wonderful.  It's true that he's not "The Voice," as Colman was called, but he's a lot more athletic than Colman, and his acting style was perfect for roles like this one.  Deborah Kerr isn't Madeleine Carroll, and she doesn't try to be.  She's fine as Princess Flavia, and because she and Granger had worked together previously in King Solomon's Mines, there's a bit of extra chemistry there.  James Mason is Rupert, and he chose to play the role almost exactly opposite from the way it was done by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.  Fairbanks seems to be having a wonderful time and gives an enthusiastic and zesty performance.  Mason underplays with wry grins and humor.  It's effective in its way, but I liked Fairbanks' approach better.  Robert Coote takes the David Niven part, and while Coote is okay, he doesn't really come close to Niven in the role.  The humor is missing, somehow.  Robert Douglas is okay as Michael, but he doesn't approach the deep-seated villainy of Raymond Massey in the original.  Louis Calhern is Col. Zapt, and I think he's excellent, but so was C. Aubrey Smith in the original.  Smith might have a bit of an edge here.  Jane Greer is beautiful, and as Antoinette de Mauban she's fully the equal of Mary Astor.

And then there's the sword fight.  Sure, Fairbanks was one of the best, but Colman, well, not so much.  James Mason might not be in Fairbanks' class, but he's very good, and Granger is so much more athletic and able than Colman that the sword fight in the 1952 version is extended to greater length than the original, and we can see the participants much better.  A big improvement.

So which version do I prefer?  Let me put it this way.  I saw the 1952 version in the theater when I was at an impressionable age.  I'd already seen King Solomon's Mines, and I thought Granger was the ultimate adventure hero. I was half in love with Deborah Kerr already.  So given the choice of which one I'd watch again, I'd go with the '52.

Side note: Both versions of The Prisoner of Zenda were made before irony was discovered, so people could talk about duty and honor and courage without any eyeball rolling in the audience.  Maybe that's another reason I like both versions of the movie so much.




The Prisoner of Zenda (1952)

Prisoner of Zenda (1952) Official Trailer - Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr Movie HD - YouTube:

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tony Liscio, R. I. P.

SportsDay: Tony Liscio, the former Cowboys offensive lineman who protected quarterbacks Don Meredith and Roger Staubach, died Sunday morning at his Lake Highlands home. He was 76 and suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Bill Dana, R. I. P.

Jose Jimenez Creator Was 92: He became a 'mascot' for the Mercury astronauts, wrote jokes for Steve Allen and Don Adams and penned one of the funniest 'All in the Family' episodes.

Not Quite Leading the Way

Paisano Pete – Fort Stockton, Texas: The second largest roadrunner in the world stands 11 feet tall in his West Texas town.

Song of the Day

The Jamies - Summertime, Summertime - YouTube:

Watch This 1962 British Car Show

Watch This 1962 British Car Show: In 1962, Pathe News visited the Earls Court Motor Show to get a look at the latest in British cars. It's a rich display—there's the classic Ford Cortina, a Mini Cooper with transparent panels all over, and a Riley Elf on a lifting suspension. They're all rotating. Because good cars in the 1960s apparently required rotating platforms.

Today's Vintage Ad


I Miss the Old Days

31 Black and White Photos Capture Everyday Life of Los Alamitos Teenagers, California in the Early 1970s

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Charles Willeford, Understudy for Love, Novel Library, 1961

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Man Stabs Customer After Getting Wrong Drink At Starbucks

Things I See in Alvin, Texas

Alligators in the atrium where I bank.

The Three Stooges at the Texas Centennial (1936)

Lifted from the Traces of Texas Facebook page.

Forgotten Hits: June 19th

Forgotten Hits: June 19th: For the third time this year, a record returns to the #1 spot as "Groovin'" by The Young Rascals displaces Aretha Franklin's hit "Respect" to reclaim the throne four weeks after they last vacated it.

Lots more info and a chart included.

Bring Back My Brain!

Brain of One of Italy's Most Revered Saints Found in a Teapot

Sunday, June 18, 2017

10 Times Dad Knew Best In Calvin And Hobbes

10 Times Dad Knew Best In Calvin And Hobbes

Put Your Deerstalker On

Gardner Museum Offers $10 Million for Information About 1990 Heist

Song of the Day

LINDA RONSTADT ~ We Need A Lot More Of Jesus ~ - YouTube:

50 Unique Independent Bookstores You Need to Visit in Every US State

50 Unique Independent Bookstores You Need to Visit in Every US State

Today's Vintage Ad


Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns Grow

The acorn from which this bur oak tree grew was planted about 1952 in the yard of our house.  The house is gone, but the tree is still there.  The acorn came from a tree in my grandmother's yard.

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Kenneth Robeson, Doc Savage Omnibus #7 (The Men Vanished, Five Fathoms Dead, The Terrible Stork, Danger Lies East), Bantam, 1988

21 Books That Changed Science Fiction And Fantasy Forever

21 Books That Changed Science Fiction And Fantasy Forever

I Found a Penny in the Walmart Parking Lot Last Week

Gigantic Aztec Temple Unearthed in Mexico City: It was built in tribute to the wind god

How 9 Countries Celebrate Father's Day

How 9 Countries Celebrate Father's Day

Forgotten Hits: June 18th

Forgotten Hits: June 18th: Ravi Shankar (the only artist to get paid for their performance), a return appearance by Big Brother and the Holding Company, Buffalo Springfield (who are joined on stage by David Crosby of The Byrds), The Who, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Scott McKenzie and The Mamas and the Papas perform at The Monterey Pop Festival during its final day.  Hendrix mesmerizes the entire crowd with his first US appearance with The Jimi Hendrix Experience.  (Monkees Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, who were in the audience that day, were so impressed they asked Jimi to join them on their summer tour as the opening act … incredibly, Jimi's manager said yes … and we all know how well THAT turned out!)  

Lots of photos and nostalgia today.

Joseph Kanon: By the Book

Joseph Kanon: By the Book: The author of “Defectors” says that he likes to cook, but likes to read cookbooks even more. “And the best cookbooks have really distinctive voices. I never met Marcella Hazan, but I feel I have.”

Happy Father's Day!

Father's Day in the United States: Father's Day in the United States is on the third Sunday of June. It celebrates the contribution that fathers and father figures make for their children's lives. Its origins may lie in a memorial service held for a large group of men, many of them fathers, who were killed in a mining accident in Monongah, West Virginia in 1907.  

the photo on the left is of my father on the beach in Port Aransas, Texas, sometime in the late 1950s.  He seldom took a vacation, and when he did, it was always a short one.  I wish he'd taken more and longer ones because he had fun on the ones he took.  I believe he felt that he had to be present for his job and business to run smoothly.  Maybe he was right, but he deserved more vacations.