Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday's Forgotten Books, November 25, 2016

Todd Mason will have the links right here. Thanks, Todd.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wednesday Night Music



One of my favorites. What is one of yours? (I will post it on here if you give me the title).

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tuesday Night Music

Forgotten Movies: THREE WOMEN

Shelly Duval, now a target of horrible men like Dr. Phil, was the glue that made THREE WOMEN work. Robert Altman made one of his strangest movies with this one. Shelly and Sissy Spacek work in at a retirement home and over the course of the film change personalities. I wondered if it would hold up, but it did. Shelly is just odd enough to bring it together. Sadly. she got more odd over time. The third woman is Janice Rule who never quite makes sense to me.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Your Favorite TV Dad

I guess most people would choose Andy Taylor or Ralph Walton from earlier generations or perhaps
Coach Taylor from more recent shows (FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS), but if I had to list my favorite TV Dad, it would be Jack Arnold (Dan Lauria) from THE WONDER YEARS. He was the beleaguered father I remember from my childhood. He wasn't always perfect like the fathers we tend to hold dear: You could feel his dissatisfaction with his lot in life, his disappointment in various issues, his tiredness: was anyone ever more tired. The series was inspired by A CHRISTMAS STORY and you can see the similarities in this character especially.
Jim Anderson on FATHER KNOWS BEST, Ward Cleaver from LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, Steve Douglas from MY THREE SONS, and a hundred fathers that followed them were all great Dads but I will take Mr. Arnold. .He was never the generic father.

How about you? What TV father did you like?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday Night Music

Friday's Forgotten Books, November 18, 2016

WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE. -This is an amazing novel on my second reading, decades after my first. Its characters are few, they are pretty much nailed to one spot, and not much action takes places. Its high quality depends on Jackson's ability to create characters that speak and act like real people despite being essentially ghosts. You can easily see the mind that created both THE LOTTERY and THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE in this novel. It was her last novel, written in 1962, three years after HILL HOUSE.

The Blackwood family lost four of its members six years earlier. Since then Mary Katherine, a teenager, her older sister Charlotte and the elderly and ill Uncle Julian haven't strayed farther than the country store. Uncle Julian lives completely in the past, reliving a specific day in time. Charlotte spends her time cooking, canning and hiding. And Mary Katherine (Merricat) dreams and devises spells to protect them. The townspeople thinkCharlotte got away with murder and Merricat's trips into town incite their rage and amusement at the Blackwood's fate. When Cousin Charles comes to stay with them, he sets events into motion that send the family even farther into isolation. He is a villain you can really hate.

The writing in this novel is sublime. Jackson creates a world that is both seductive and frightening. I read this as a teenager but I think it takes an adult to appreciate what strong characters Jackson created.
Jackson died at age 48. What a loss. I can only imagine the novels she might have written if she had lived longer.

Todd Mason will collect the links next Friday. 

Sergio Angelini
Yvette Banek, THE HAND IN THE GLOVE, Rex Stout
Joe Barone, THE DEAD HOUSE, Harry Bingham
Elgin Bleecker, SO THIS IS MURDER, Erle Stanley Gardner
Les Blatt, THE FLEMISH HOUSE, Georges Simenon
Brian Busby, HICKORY HOUSE,Kenneth Orvis
Bill Crider, HARD-BOILED, ed. Bill Pronzini and Jack Adrian
Martin Edwards, MURDER BY MATCHLIGHT, E.C.R. Lorac
Richard Horton, SUNSMASHER, Edmund Hamilton, STARHAVEN, Robert Silverberg
Jerry House, THE SHIP THAT NEVER WAS, Mickey Spillane
Margot Kinberg, THE EYES OF JADE, Diane Wei Laing
Rob Kitchin, THE AGE OF WONDER, Richard Holmes
K.A. Laity, PORTERHOUSE BLUE, Tom Sharpe
Steve Lewis, ROUGH CUT, Ed Gorman
J.F. Norris, A COUNTRY KIND OF DEATH, Mary McMullen
Matt Paust, MAGGIE, GIRL OF THE STREETS, Stephen Crane
James Reasoner, KI-GOR AND THE GIANT GORILLA MAN, John Peter Drummon
Richard Robinson, The first two DREAM PARK NOVELS, Larry Niven, Steven Barnes
Gerard Saylor, MOSTLY WHILE PAINTING, Mickey Cohen 
Kevin Tipple, THE JANUS STONE, Elly Griffiths
TomCat, THE CARDINAL MOTH, Fred M. White
TracyK, THE DREADFUL LEMON SKY, John D. Macdonald
Westlake Review, THE AX

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wednesday Night Music

Some of Trump's Biggest Donors

In case you want to avoid them. What I have to keep reminding myself is that more people voted against Trump than for him.

New Balance
Angel Soft
Cracker Barrel
Olive Garden
Home Depot
Waffle House
Urban Outfitters
Marriott Hotels
Carls, Jr
Pep Boys
Hobby Lobby
Bally's Casino
Sands Corp
And some of the organizations that are working hard to keep America safe. 

Here's some more

some repeats here

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Three Recent Films We Liked a Lot

HANDMAIDEN takes some patience at 2 1/2 hours but it pays off as director  Park Chan-wook takes you through the same story from three POVS. It is at heart both a love story and a noir story. Maybe too much torture and it verged at times on soft porn but it is so artfully done and so fascinating in its unspooling that we gave it more leeway than usual. This is apparently based on FINGERSMITH, a Sarah Waters novel, which I now want to read.

MOONLIGHT looks at three periods in the life of a young black gay boy  who suffers bullying in the early episodes. Another film that is put together well and will break your heart. Especially at the very end.
Would love to see the play this is based on IN MOONLIGHT BLACK BOYS LOOK BLUE. Although the three actors don't look alike at all, it works because of the similar feeling each one brings to the role.

Here we have three women, well four really, at crossroads in their lives. The most well conceived story was perhaps the final one where a young Native American girl mistakes a temporary teacher's interest in her for more. I did find the Michelle Williams segment rather enigmatic. But still well worth seeing. Kristen Stewart has certainly turned in some fine performances.And Laura Dern is always a treat.

And two I liked less but still worth your time for certain elements.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

R.I.P Leonard Cohen

Friday's Forgotten Books

SPECIAL NOTE: I moved the Muller/Pronzini day two weeks forward. Thought we (I) needed some extra time. 

Sergio Angelini, HIS BURIAL TOO, Catherine Aird
Mark Baker, MRS. POLIFAX UNVEILED, Dorothy Gilman
Joe Barone, THE DEVIL'S STEPS, Arthur Upfield
Les Blatt, POLICE AT THE FUNERAL, Margery Allingham
Elgin Bleecker, WHOSE BODY, Dorothy L. Sayers
Bill Crider. 13 SHORT DETECTIVE NOVELS, ed. Bill Pronzini and Martin Greenberg
Martin Edwards, DEATH OF A BANKER, Anthony Wynne
Elisabeth Grace Foley, THE WHOLE FAMILY: A Novel by 12 Authors
Richard Horton, TEENAGE SCIENCE FICTION STORIES, Richard M. Elan, Jr.
Jerry House, ANTI-MAN, Dean Koontz
George Kelley, THE SWORD OF THONGOR, Robert M. Price
Margot Kinberg, MONTANA, 1948, Larry Watson
Rob Kitchin , COBRA, Deon Meyer
B.V. Lawson, DETECTIVE FICION, Mark Rpezka
Steve Lewis, POIROT LOSES A CLIENT, Agatha Christie
Todd Mason: A Variety of Mystery Magazines 
J.F. Norris, GRIEVE FOR THE PAST, Stanton Forbes
Matt Paust, STEPHEN HAWKING: A LIFE IN SCIENCE, Michael White and John Gribbin
Gerard Saylor, BAD MOON RISING, Ed Gorman
Kevin Tipple, HARD TRAIL TO FOLLOW, Elmer Kelton
TomCat, MIDNIGHT, Octavia Roy Cohen
Westlake Review, Mr. Westlake and the Masterpiece

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Monday, November 07, 2016

Monday Night Music

The Dreaded TBRs

What book has been on your TBR pile the longest? For me it is DOWN AND O UT IN PARIS AND LONDON, which I have had since the 70s without reading. I remember a friend, now gone, telling me it was his favorite book so when I saw it at a used book sale I picked it up. I think since it had not spoken to me itself, I felt no read commitment. But why have I hung on to it so long when many other unread books have came and went. It's because every time I start to discard it I read how it mean something to someone. Just recently someone in BY THE BOOK said just that. Or I think  of the fellow who recommended it and feel I owe it to him to read it. Though I don't.

What has been on your TBR pile the longest? Do you expect to ever read it? Why have you held on to it this long?

Friday, November 04, 2016

Friday Night Music

Friday's Forgotten Books, November 4, 2016

(from the archives)
R. Narvaez

I Am Thinking of My Darling,
Vincent McHugh
A virus. The City. Civic chaos. Government collapse. The stuff of zombie flicks and terrorist scenarios in 2010. But back in the ’40s, such a plot could still be light-hearted. In Vincent McHugh’s 1943 novel I Am Thinking of My Darling, a virus infects New York City—but it's a happy virus! The infected follow their bliss, feverishly losing their inhibitions (for you Trekkies, think "The Naked Time" episode). The problem is that no one wants to work. Honestly, who would?

Acting planning commissioner Jim Rowan returns home from a trip to DC to find cheerful chaos quickly spreading across town—and his actress wife Niobe missing. She’s infected and on the lam, looking to live out a succession of character roles in a kind of Method fervor. Meanwhile, in an emergency management meeting (consider what that term evokes today), the mayor announces he has the virus—and would rather play with model trains than lead the City. To avoid panic, Rowan is secretly made acting mayor.

The plots riffs genially from there, with Rowan hot on the trail of his slippery wife, cabbing from City Hall to Harlem across a Cityscape in Mardi Gras mode—all the while consulting with civil services to keep things running and with scientists to find a cure. (The fact that the virus apparently originated in the tropics, implying that people there are inhibition-less, may be another artifact of the past.) A polymath (when being a polymath was simpler), Rowan narrates in sensual, informed detail about now-bygone architectural wonders, regional accents, lab science, and jazz music.

This book, with its glad-rag view of a long-lost era, has been a favorite of mine since it was recommended to me decades ago. (I still have my first copy, bought in the now-bygone Tower Books in the Village). McHugh, a poet and a staff writer for The New Yorker in the ’30s, employs a prose style that winks slyly at Chandler and pulp. (Once Rowan is inevitably infected, he’s like Marlowe on E.) Darling also features a nice amount of sexual frankness that may surprise modern readers who forget that people in the ’40s had sex. The novel was made into the very '60s movie What's So Bad About Feeling Good?, but by then the times had already been a-changed enough that the conceit no longer had the right kind of jazz.

Sergio Angelini, ROMANCE, Ed McBain
Joe Barone, ORIGINAL SIN, P.D. James
Les Blatt, KILLER DOLPHIN, Ngaio Marsh
Bill Crider, THE LONG SHIPS, Bengtsson Q. Frans
Martin Edwards, DAWN OF RECKONING, James Hilton
Richard Horton, GUARD YOUR DAUGHTERS, Diana Tutton 
George Kelley, SPACE, TIME AND CRIME, edited by Mirian Allen Deford
Margot Kinberg, TWISTER, Jane Woodham 
Rob Kitchin, THE PICADILLY MURDER, Anthony Berkley 
B.V. Lawson, THE BULRUSH MURDERS, Rebecca Rothenberg
Steve Lewis/William Deeck, BENEFIT PERFORMANCE, Richard Sale 
Todd Mason, BEWARE OF THE CAT, ed. Michel Parry 
J.F. Norris, THE JOSS, Richard Marsh
Matt Paust, SUN MOUNTAIN, Richard Wheeler
James Reasoner, THE PROUD GUN, Gordon D. Shirrefs
Richard Robinson,THE MAN KZIN WARS by Larry Niven, Poul Anderson, Dean Ing.
Gerard Saylor, CONTAINMENT, Vanda Symon 
Kevin Tipple, WARNING SIGNS, Jan Christensen
TracyK, Vertigo: Boileau-Narcejac

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Ed Gorman Day

Very early on, before I was properly writing crime stories, Ed Gorman reached out to me through my blog, offering encouragement and eventually a spot in two or three of his yearly anthologies. He wrote reviews of forgotten books most weeks, he sent me several of his books that he thought I would like. I think he shared this sort of relationship with many, many people. He offered to feature my books on his blog. In other words, a man who hadn't much time-- made time for a fledgling writer. I will miss him every day because I regard the people who write for FFB as my family. We never met in person but that's not really necessary any more.  Now here are some other words.

Max Allan Collins

Thirty-five years ago or so, I got a phone call. I was in my basement office in the middle of something, but I answered it. There was no caller ID then, though I wasn’t getting all that many phone calls, anyway.
This very distinctive, friendly but strangely shy voice identified himself as Ed Gorman. He lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (about sixty miles from my home, Muscatine) and was a writer himself, although he told me this in a modest, dismissive, almost embarrassed way.
Any call from a would-be writer sent up a warning signal. I had already been at it long enough that I was getting calls from local and area writers (and sometimes farther afield than that) wanting help that usually consisted of reading their book and/or giving them advice on getting published.
But this call didn’t seem to be like that. Ed Gorman was calling specifically to tell me how much he loved my QUARRY novels. At that time there were only four of them, published in 1976 and ‘77, and while the stirring of a cult reputation for the books was out there, this was different.
This obviously very literate, self-effacing, intelligent man knew all about the books and really, really liked them. He had been compelled, he said, to give me a call about them - which was something he’d been thinking about doing for a long time.
We talked for about an hour, and hit it off, both having rather dark senses of humor, but then he rather abruptly said he had to sign off. He had something he had to do. I asked him what, and he said, “I’m getting married in half an hour.”
In a way that’s all you need to know about Ed Gorman. He was a writer who wanted to tell other writers that he admired them, and why. He was funny and quirky and uniquely Ed – that he had chosen to call me out of the blue about QUARRY right before he was off to get married to the beautiful, wonderful Carol, seems so very wrong and so perfectly right.
We began talking on the phone regularly – so regularly, and for such long conversations, that I used to get in trouble with my beautiful, wonderful wife about the phone bill. I learned that Ed had been primarily a literary writer, with short stories appearing in various publications of that sort (it was much later that he revealed he’d also
written short stories for low-end men’s magazines). He said he wanted to branch out into novels.
As he came to know, and as I have said before in public, one of my proudest accomplishments as a writer was helping turn Ed Gorman into a novelist. He particularly took to one piece of advice. I said, “Think of every chapter as a short story. That won’t intimidate you – after all, you’re already a short story writer. And, anyway, with a chapter, you need the same coherent beginning, middle and end as a short story.” Very soon he sent me a novel.
It was good. There was a problem with the ending that I told him about, and he took it well, and gratefully. Then I learned he had thrown the book away and started over. I felt terrible about it, and for the only time in our friendship, I balled him out. I am someone who never throws any piece of writing away, a chronic recycler, and what he’d done appalled me. But he was impulsive and eccentric and his own harshest critic, so his action was as in character as it was rash.
Ed and Carol visited Barb and me in Muscatine, and we did the same with them in Cedar Rapids. Carol and Barb are writers too, very good ones, so the conversations over the years were four-way, not the boys over here and the girls
over there.
It took me a while to learn that Ed rarely traveled, and that he was in fact something of a hermit. Because we both lived in Iowa, and had writing styles that were not dissimilar, I for a time had the honor of being accused of using “Ed Gorman” as a pseudonym. What a writer that would make me.
“Is it true,” people would ask me, “that you’ve actually met Ed Gorman?” I actually had.
The thing is, being around people made Ed nervous. This still strikes me as strange because he made his pre-writing-career living as an ad man, PR guy and also writer of political speeches (politics being a lifelong interest, even obsession).
Stranger still is how charming and effortlessly social he was on the telephone. Scores of writers are bound to now come forward and say how well they knew him, but admit that they never met him.
I saw him quite a bit, at least comparatively speaking. With Carol and Barb, we met at restaurants; he and Carol came to book signings of mine (he very rarely did his own); we did a number of appearances together (doing Q and A as well as signing, at the late lamented Mystery Cat in C.R.
and elsewhere). Despite his extreme discomfort with crowds, he came with Carol to periodic screenings of my films at the Cedar Rapids Film Festival (sitting way in back).
For a number of years Barb and I, and writers Bob Randisi and Marthayn Peligrimas, would meet Ed and Carol for quarterly get-togethers at the Ox Yoke Inn in the Amana Colonies. These were lively, frequently hilarious bitch sessions about the writing life. Bob was a great friend of Ed’s (they started Mystery Scene together), and is a great friend of mine. Writers know a lot of other writers, but mostly it’s friendly acquaintances. Bob, Ed and I were real friends.
At Terry Beatty’s wedding some years ago, Ed – who loved Terry and his work – made an unprecedented move by attending the reception. I might be slightly overstating, but Ed was damn near the life of the party. Laughing, chatting, circulating. I was astonished.
Later I asked him, “What happened to Ed Gorman, the guy who can’t stand being in even the smallest crowd?” He told me he’d been a nervous wreck at the reception, a total screaming mess inside. I had witnessed an amazing performance.
Once, responding to my efforts to get him to a Bouchercon, Ed told me didn’t like driving long distances because he’d been in a car crash. I asked him why he didn’t fly there. He said he’d also been in a plane crash. I asked him why he didn’t take a train. He said he’d been in a train crash. Asking him why he always took the stairs in tall buildings, he said he’d once been in an elevator when it fell. There’s also a story about an escalator, but you get the drift.
Was he kidding me? I’m not sure. Really I don’t think so. He was a self-described bundle of neuroses, yet as grounded a writer as I’ve ever known. He worked hard and well and fast, and never compromised his craft and art. Now and then he would rail on about some writer whose work he disliked, but never in public, and no one had more generous, enthusiastic things to say about other writers and their work than Ed. Mystery Scene was in part about getting writers who were otherwise being ignored their due by way of articles and reviews. He worked with Black Lizard and founded Five Star to get books and writers back into print.
I think it’s fair for me to say that no other writer in our genre ever did more for his brother and sister writers.
In 1992, around Thanksgiving, I got a double career whammy when my DICK TRACY contract was not picked up, and my Nathan Heller novel contract was unexpectedly cancelled. I shared my woes with Ed. Suddenly I had short story assignment after short story assignment from Ed and his great friend, Marty Greenberg. Ed and Marty keep me afloat for six months while I regrouped. They were also responsible for turning my wife Barb into a writer, largely with assignments for stories in the CAT CRIMES anthologies.
Ed was the most widely read writer I’ve ever encountered. He knew mystery fiction inside out, and he shared with me his great love for Mickey Spillane, John D. MacDonald and Rex Stout, among many others. But he knew science fiction just as well, and he had read all of the classics and literary novels from all sorts of eras, and bestsellers, too. I suspect he was a speed reader, but maybe he was just obsessive.
He was film literate, too, though his opinions often flew against critical opinion. He never cared for John Ford, for example, with the exception of THE SEARCHERS. He loved Robert Ryan — his favorite screen actor. My head is as filled with his opinions about popular culture as my own (simplified by our many, many areas of agreement). One area of disagreement: he didn’t like the Beatles but loved the Stones. I always told him he didn’t have to choose
Ed, of course, had a dark side. This came across as black comedy for the most part, and I heard for many decades his prediction that we were nearing the end of mystery-fiction publishing. It was over! Sometimes his gloom got to me, and Barb would say, “Were you talking business with Ed again?” I started making a habit of making him laugh when I could see that he was letting bleakness get to him. Of course, we’d always laughed together, each an easy mark for the other.
He was always complimentary about my work and gave me glowing reviews, and he was the first to really recognize any value in QUARRY, and he kept that up over the years. Surprisingly often, he would call and say that the night before he’d re-read one of the books, and make my day with effusive praise. I’ve never had a phone call like that from anybody else.
If for some reason you’ve never read Ed Gorman (which I doubt, if you’re coming to this blog), I have always been partial to the Jack Dwyer series, in part because I got to read the first one, Rough Cut, in manuscript. His horror novels, as Daniel Ransom, are first-rate. He was a terrific western writer, as well – Guild is a favorite of mine. The Poker Club became a good little film, though not as good as its novel source. And he was the best short story writer of my generation – seek out his collections.
In the last twenty years or so, I talked less with Ed on the phone – though still fairly frequently – as e-mails and blogs kicked in. His voice always had something apologetic in it, like he was afraid he was interrupting. He never was.
Those phone calls – and a phone call was where it all began – are precious to me now in my memory. How we laughed and laughed. What I’d give for another call from Ed right now. Me and a hundred other writers. But I’m the only one he called on his way to his wedding.

From Dave Zeltserman

 I suspect dozens of other writers are going to be writing similar tributes as mine, and 10000s of readers are going to feel the same way about Ed as a writer as I did. That was because as a person, Ed was one of those rare people who’d go out of his way to help you, and he was just such a damn nice guy, and as a writer not only did he craft  beautiful prose but he filled his stories with a such unique human quality no matter how dark the story. Ed was proud to be a genre writer, and excelled at it in all genres that he wrote: Westerns, mysteries, thrillers, and horror, and both short stories and novels. I don't know if this was much of a secret but Ed didn't much care for literary 'artiste' types. To Ed, the point of writing was to tell exciting stories that drew the reader in, and few did it better than Ed. Partly because of Ed's love of these genres, and partly because of his overall decency, there are few out there who championed newer writers like Ed did.

I never got a chance to meet Ed in person, and during the 15 years that I knew Ed we only talked a few times over the phone, but during those years we exchanged 1000s of emails over just about everything: books, politics, movies, television, the state of publishing, what was going on with our lives, Orson Welles, you name it, and just as Ed’s strong humanist qualities and decency came through in his writing, they likewise did with his emails. Just a great guy. And a great writer. That’s the easiest way to sum Ed up. Someone you can love like an older brother even though you never met him. Someone who’s passing makes the world just that much colder.

Ed, rest in the peace you so much deserved. Like everyone else, I don’t know if there’s anything after this life, but if there is, I’d like to think you’re right now with your buddies Tom Piccirilli and Marty Greenberg, hanging out with Hammett, Stout,  Cain, and the other greats trading stories.

Other tributes

Cap'n Bob
David Cranmer
Bill Crider
Cedar Rapids Gazette
Cullen Gallagher
Locus Online
Martin Edwards
Jerry House
George Kelley
B.V. Lawson 
Steve Lewis
Mike Nevins
Matt Paust 
Todd Mason
Mystery Fanfare 
 Rap Sheet Tribute
Charlie Stella
Ed Gorman's Sam McCain novels 
Western Fiction Review: Interview

Book Reviews;;
HARLOT'S MOON (by Sergio Angelini)
WOLF MOON, Cullen Gallaghe; GUILD, 
ELIMINATION, Terrie Farley Moran (Criminal Element)
Patti Abbott, GHOST TOWN 
James Reasoner, NIGHT CALLER (Daniel Ransom/Ed Gorman)

Tuesday, November 01, 2016


I don't think I had seen this since I saw it as a kid at the theater. It holds up pretty well because the script is succinct and doesn't try to do too much. The inability to mount special effects probably saved it because the remake doesn't look too promising.

An English town falls into a trance and some months later every woman of child bearing years gives birth to children who look alike and are gifted intellectually. This has happened in other places too but only this group of kids survive.

George Sanders defends them for a while, seduced by their brilliance, but eventually everyone realizes it's us or them. It's not hard to draw parallels with today's fears of having strangers in our midst. A sequel CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED is supposed to be good also.

Bet all of you have seen this one.