Monday, March 31, 2014

Opening Credits: Dr. Strangelove

Desert Island Package Trip


You can take a book, a movie, and the complete episodes to a TV show to your island. What do you take? (PS Would have liked to include a CD but couldn't come up with just one.)

I take The Best Short Stories of the 20th Century, edited by John Updike
The Complete MAD MEN series.
FANNY AND ALEXANDER, THE THEATRICAL VERSION


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday Night Music: Tom Jones




My review of THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL in on Crimespree Magazine.

Keynote Speaker at SLC

Megan, just after delivering the keynote address at the Southern Literary Conferencel in Oxford. Laura Lippman to her left, Tom Franklin to her right.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday's Forgotten Books, March 28, 2014











From the archives.

R. Narvaez was born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. His work has been published in A Thousand Faces, Indian Country Noir, Murdaland, Plots with Guns, Spinetingler, Shotgun Honey. He is President of the MWA-New York chapter.

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, THE VENGEFUL VIRGIN, Gil Brewer
Joe Barone, THINNING THE TURKEY HERD, Robert Campbell
Brian Busby. POST-WAR PULP NOVELS
Bill Crider, WRITING FOR SURVIVAL, John D. MacDonald
Martin Edwards, THE WALKING STICK, Winston Graham
Curt Evans, SCARWEATHER, Anthony Rolls
Ray Garraty, SLAYGROUND, Richard Stark
Rich Horton, STONE OF CHASTITY, Margery Sharp
Jerry House, NIGHT OF SHADOWS, Ed Gorman
Randy Johnson, TRAIL OF THE LONG RIDER, Lee Martin
George Kelley, CONAN: THE ROAD OF KINGS by Karl Edward Wagner.(Link to follow)
Margot Kinberg, BLEAK HOUSE, Charles Dickens
B.V. Lawson, MURDER AT THE FOUL LINE, ed. Otto Penzler
Evan Lewis "A Corpse in the Hand" Carroll John Daly
Steve Lewis, MURDER TO GO, Emma Lathen
Todd Mason, LIVING IN FEAR: A HISTORY OF HORROR IN THE MASS MEDIA, Les Daniels
Neer, UP AT THE VILLA, W. Somerset Maugham
J.F. Norris, DEATH GOES TO A REUNION, Kathleen Moore Knight
James Reasoner, ARCTIC WINGS, L. Ron Hubbard
Gerard Saylor, THE BOMB, Steve Sheinkin
Ron Scheer, THE HANGING TREE, Dorothy Johnson
Kevin Tipple, "Artie and the Long-Legged Woman" from THE ARTIE CRIMES, Jan Christensen


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Final Scene: TOY STORY 3

Three of My Favorite TV Cops

Peter Falk as COLUMBO, Dennis Franz as Andy Sipowicz on NYPD, and Regina King as Detective Lydia Adams on SOUTHLAND.


Who are you favorites?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday Night Music: Marvin Gaye




Definitely on my top ten.

I Find This Ridiculously Funny



Rabbid Invasion: The Museum

Overlooked Movies


Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus and 2012 


This was my second road movie in the last week and a very odd one too. Michael Cera and Gabby Hoffman star in it along with three Chilean brothers (the director's brothers, in fact). It was written and directed by Sebastian Silva and concerns the trip these five take to hunt down a San Pedro Cactus, which one can make mescaline from.  They encounter significant problem in getting the cactus. They want to distill the drug and sit on the beach and enjoy the hallucinations. Simple pleasures. 

Hoffman, a hippy and rather a bossy one, is the thorne in Sera's side during the trip. The brothers, only understanding some of what she says, are more laid back about her coming along. 

What is your favorite movie about a road trip? 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Opening Credits: DIRTY HARRY


Your Favorite Opening Credits (and Music) to a TV Show




There are so many good choices. Some opening credits are strong on music, some on information, some on atmosphere. I think this one does a great job of setting the story and you can't beat the music for me.

Runner -up would be the opening credits to Mary Tyler Moore.

What do you like?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Best War Movies


We were out with friends, great western and war movie lovers, on Saturday night and they had just watched TWELVE O"CLOCK HIGH, which they said was one of their favorite war movies.Then Bill Crider chose one for a forgotten movie this week, saying it was his favorite as a kid.

What are the best war movies ever? This can be a pretty wide-ranging question so let's say that is has to actually have battlescenes or be set in a war zone. In other words, SCHINDLER'S LIST would not qualify unless it has war scenes I don't remember.

Here are three to start it off: GO TELL THE SPARTANS, FULL METAL JACKET and MASH.

My review of ABOUT LAST NIGHT is on Crimespree Magazine. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

How About a Dance Scene: BLUE VALENTINE


Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, March 21, 2014: Ed McBain Day


Ed McBain was one of the many pen names of the successful and prolific crime fiction author Evan Hunter (1926 - 2005). Born Salvatore Lambino in New York, McBain served aboard a destroyer in the US Navy during World War II and then earned a degree from Hunter College in English and Psychology. After a short stint teaching in a high school, McBain went to work for a literary agency in New York, working with authors such as Arthur C. Clarke and P.G. Wodehouse all the while working on his own writing on nights and weekends. He had his first breakthrough in 1954 with the novel The Blackboard Jungle, which was published under his newly legal name Evan Hunter and based on his time teaching in the Bronx.
Perhaps his most popular work, the 87th Precinct series (released mainly under the name Ed McBain) is one of the longest running crime series ever published, debuting in 1956 with Cop Hater and featuring over fifty novels. The series is set in a fictional locale called Isola and features a wide cast of detectives including the prevalent Detective Steve Carella.
McBain was also known as a screenwriter. Most famously he adapted a short story from Daphne Du Maurier into the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963). In addition to writing for the silver screen, he wrote for many television series, including Columbo and the NBC series 87th Precinct (1961-1962), based on his popular novels.
McBain was awarded the Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement in 1986 by the Mystery Writers of America and was the first American to receive the Cartier Diamond Dagger award from the Crime Writers Association of Great Britain. He passed away in 2005 in his home in Connecticut after a battle with larynx cancer. (From his author page on Amazon)

LAST SUMMER

One of my favorites of Ed McBain's books was written under his real name Evan Hunter.LAST SUMMER is the story of three teenage friends - Sandy, David, and Peter  who are spending a summer vacation on an island. They are a little out of control, stealing beer, experimenting with the life they are headed for, running naked through the woods. Their tightness as a group, a nearly perfect thing with Sandy taking the lead in almost everything, is tested when a new girl comes on the scene. It is their last summer of innocence and Rhoda, with her neediness and nerdiness, brings out the worst in them. Sandy uses Rhoda to test her mastery of the boys. An interesting novel that made an interesting movie.

Of course the books set in the 87th Precinct made McBain an eagerly awaited author for me. I think I read almost every book in the series. I was never as attached to Matthew Hope as I was to Steve Carella. IMDB lists all of the films McBain had a hand in. His website gives a complete list of his books and it's astounding.


 EPITAPHS by Bill Pronzini 

Ed Gorman is the author of the Dev Conrad series of books along with countless other mysteries, westerns, anthologies, short stores and horror novels. You can find him here. 



Epitaphs (Nameless Detective Mystery Series #20)


Epitaphs is one of my favorite Nameless novels for a number of reasons.

For one thing this is one of Pronzini's finest depictions of  Nameless' painfully complex relationship with his old partner Eberhardt. The anger, the distrust makes you feel sorry for both of them.

Then there's the even more serious problem of his friend and lover Kerry not wanting to marry him.

The novel is also a fine depiction of how Nameless' North Beach is changing and is being refurbished not only commercially but also sociologically. Proninzi writes with real power about how the Italian heritage he obviously reveres is also suffering because of the changes.

Then there's the story and it's one of Pronzini's most skillfully conceived and maneuvered. Gianna Fornessi is the name of the beautiful granddaughter who is missing. A mutual friend of Namless' asks him to help the grandfather who fears for her.

When he finds where she lives Nameless also realizes that something is wrong. She came from a humble area of North Beach but lives in a style fitting a much more moneyed life.

From this hook Pronzini takes us through enough ruses, masques, dead ends and mysterious but enigmatic clues to fill three or four average novels. And he does so with prose so evocative of both place and passion that you race to the end.

One of Bill Pronzini's finest novels and I don't have to say much more than that, do I?


Sergio Angelini, BLOOD RELATIVES, Ed McBain
and http://bloodymurder.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/hail-to-the-chief-1973-by-ed-mcbain/
https://bloodymurder.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/bread-1974-by-ed-mcbain/ Brian Busby, CATTLE, Winifred Eaton
Bill Crider, THE BEST FROM FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, Third series, ed Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas
Martin Edwards, DOVER AND THE UNKINDEST CUT OF ALL, Joyce Porter
Curt Evans, PARTNERS IN CRIME, Agatha Christie
Rich Horton, THE ADVENTURER, Mika Waltari
Jerry House, THE COUNTY OF GASTON, Robert S Cope and Manly Wade Wellman
Nick Jones, Twenty Books to Remember
George Kelley, DANGER: DINOSAURS, Richard Marsten (Ed McBain)
Margot Kinberg, THE BURNING, Jane Casey
Rob Kitchin, CORRIDORS OF DEATH, Ruth Dudley Edwards; DISAPPEARED, Anthony Quinn
B.V. Lawson, NOCTURNE, Ed McBain
Evan Lewis, DANGER CIRCUS, Raoul Whitfled
Steve Lewis/William F. Deeck, SOMETHING TO HIDE, Philip MacDonald
Todd Mason, Assorted Publications
Neer, DOWNTOWN, Ed McBain
J.F. Norris, CHILL AND THE KILL, Joan Fleiming
James Reasoner, WEIRD TALES, HERBERT WEST: RE:ANIMATOR, H.P. Lovecraft
Richard Robinson, DEAD SKIP, Joe Gores
Gerard Saylor, LET HIM GO, Larry Watson
Ron Scheer, FLINT'S GIFT, Richard S. Wheeler
Michael Slind
Kevin Tipple, THE PERFECT DETECTIVE, CLark Casey
TomCat, THE BISHOP'S GAME, H.C. Bailey
Prashant Trikkanad, The Science Fiction of Evan Hunter (Ed McBain)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Opening Credits: Bonnie and Clyde

The Most Confusing Movie Ever

Most of the movies that confuse me concern either 1) money 2) spy stuff 3) high tech.

But the movie TREE OF LIFE (Terrence Malick) is an exception. It seems like a plot easily understood, but I didn't get it at all. And I have heard Sean Penn admit as much.

What movie confused you?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tuesday Night Music; Gloria Gaynor

Forgotten TV: MEDICAL CENTER

)

Not sure why I liked this show as much as I did. 

Medical Center

September 24, 1969 - September 6, 1976 


CAST
James Daly --- Dr. Paul Lochner 
Chad Everett --- Dr. Joe Gannon 
Audrey Totter --- Nurse Wilcox 
Chris Hutson --- Nurse Courtland 
Virginia Hawkins --- Nurse Evvie Canford 
Barbara Baldavin --- Nurse Holmby 


Dr. Paul Lochner (James Daly) and Dr. Joe Gannon (Chad Everett) are surgeons at a university hospital in the Los Angeles area. Medical Center focused on their lives, and the lives of their patients whom they would treat each week. The patients were new each week leaving lots of openings for guest spots. 

Dr. Gannon was more in the Ben Casey mode than the Dr. Welby mold as far as I can remember. He was also hunkier than either of them. This was the longest running doctor show (with Welby) until  ER came along. I haven't kept up with doctor shows since the first years of ER. My very favorite was ST. ELSEWHERE though. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Movie Themes: Schindlers List


Why Do You Stop Reading a Writer?

My grandmother with her father and two brothers at Wildwood, NJ in 1921.
Sandra Seamans spoke of this on her blog not long ago. In her case, the writer had written a story that repulsed her. And yes, this happens to me often. A writer I enjoy will turn a little too dark for me. But often, I see the books from a writer have become too predictable. Or it's that too many new writers come along and grab the spotlight. I used to read every book by Ruth Rendell, for instance, but I haven't read one now in years. I am not sure why. Sometimes it's for no good reason at all. Belonging to a book group has taken time away from personal reading for sure. And writing myself means that if a voice is too strong in a novel, I might put it aside, afraid it will affect mine.


Why so you stop reading on a once-favorite writer?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Um Peixe Grande


Proud to have a story in PLAN B, Volume III along with my pal, Bonnie Lawson and some other great writers. Thanks to Darusha Wehm for her work on this zine.

Plan B Volume III

vol-iii-cover-sm

Get the third Plan B anthology for only $2.99 (USD) directly from Plan B (credit card only):
epub | mobi | pdf
If you prefer to pay with PayPal, try smashwords.
Also available on Amazon.

Desperation is the same in any language. Madness respects no borders. Greed and revenge transcend cultural differences.
In this third collection of stories from Plan B Magazine, we find tales from all the corners of the crime world. From Cold War espionage to small town stick-ups, high-powered diplomacy to the opportunism of poverty, these are stories of the darkness of the human heart. And once in a while, how the light of our common humanity can transcend that darkness.
Table of Contents
“Sirens” by Gary Cahill
“House Cleaning” by Ian Creasey
“Murderous Lies” by Peter DiChellis
“Doing God’s Work” by Wayne Scheer
“Um Peixe Grande” by Patti Abbott
“Loveable Alan Atcliffe” by S.R. Mastrantone
“Slice” by Tom Barlow
“How Green Was My Valet” by John H. Dromey
“The Least Of These” by BV Lawson
“Miscellany”by Eryk Pruitt
“Stars & Stripes” by James Power
“Alten Kameraden” by Ed Ahern
“The Farm” by Kevin R. Doyle

Friday, March 14, 2014

Joni Mitchell; A CASE OF YOU



My review of NON-STOP is up at CRIMESPREE CINEMA
 

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, March 14, 2014

 From the archive: 

Patrick Downey is the author of Gangster City: The History of the New York Underworld 1900-1935 and Bad Seeds in the Big Apple: Bandits, Killers and Chaos in New York City 1920-1940. He is also published a book on the gangster Jack Legs Diamond. You can visit him at his blog http://deadgangster.blogspot.com

Varney, the Vampire, James Malcolm Ryner

I was a monster movie geek as a kid and I’ve always remembered an illustration from one of the books I had on the subject. It was from an old penny dreadful called Varney the Vampire or, The Feast of Blood and it showed a skeletal bloodsucker about to bite into a sleeping woman. For some reason the name always stuck with me and, if I remember correctly, the author of said monster movie book stated that the Varney story was long gone.
Fast forward about thirty years and there I am surfing around the internet and just for funnsies I type in Varney the Vampire and low and behold I’m taken to Amazon.com. Turns out Varney has been dusted off, semi-edited, and is available once again for consumption. I had to buy it.
Varney was the first popular vampire story preceding Bram Stoker’s Dracula by about fifty years. It is interesting to see what effects and doesn’t effect a vampire from 150 years ago as opposed to what Hollywood has taught us. If you can enjoy a good yarn for what it is and have fun with a melodramatic, occasionally boring, perhaps a bit clich├ęd (a sailor that actually says “Shiver me timbers”) story originally meant for the masses and not the literati then you may enjoy this book.
As a penny dreadful it was cranked out a few chapters every week and sold to, well, people like me. Varney’s author, James Malcolm Rymer was paid by the word when this was being published so sometimes what could be said in five words may take fifteen. Also there are times when the author pads the word count with detours. For example during a conversation one of the characters may say, “That reminds me of story.” And then he takes the next two pages to tell the story. The good news is if you aren’t interested in the side stories you can skip them as they have absolutely nothing to do with the plot.
When it was originally released as a serial Varney’s popularity was so great that it ran for about two years, hence the hefty page count. I enjoyed the book but also went in with an open mind. As I said it can be melodramatic and wordy but it is also fun. It’s a penny dreadful and I think that in itself pretty much tells you what to expect. You got your aristocratic vampire who, unlike Stoker’s vampire, is a sympathetic villain, a rich family on the skids, angry towns people and at the heart of it a mystery. I was struck by how human nature hasn’t really changed over the years. Characteristics such as greed, fear, mob mentality, lying, gossiping are all in there. I think that’s one of the reasons the story is readable, though it takes place in an English town in the early Nineteenth Century, the recognizable traits could easily place the story in a New England town in the early Twenty-first Century (that is if people in the New England town said things like, “Hilloa!”, “Ay” and “Indeed!” and maybe they do. I haven’t spent much time there.)
Part of the fun for me when reading was imagining the Londoners of 1845, when it was first printed, gathering around their lamps or candles getting their weekly dose. That’s a good way to read it. A few chapters every week like it was originally meant to be consumed. That way, if you need a break, you can take a few nights off then come back without losing anything.
The book is from Zittaw Press and is edited by Curt Herr, a professor of Gothic literature, who also wrote the introduction and notes. With Varney you really get a lot of book for your buck. In addition to The Feast of Blood, which runs about 750 pages (oversized book with small print) you also get back matter consisting of four appendixes:
1- Penny Bloods and Penny Dreadfuls, (four more short stories.)
2- Nineteenth Century Essays on the Perils of Penny Dreadfuls
3- Contemporary Scholarship on Penny Dreadfuls and Varney the Vampire
4- Woodcuts from the original printing of Varney the Vampire; or, the Feast of Blood.
A penny dreadful about a vampire, it’s pretty much worth the cover price just to say you own it.


Sergio Angelini, NOTHING IN HER WAY, Charles Williams
Bill Crider, THE ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION ANTHOLOGY, edited by John Campbell
Martin Edwards, TAKE MY LIFE, Winston Graham
Curt Evans, BEYOND THIS POINT ARE MONSTERS, Margaret Millar
Rich Horton, CAPTAIN DIEPPE, Anthony Hope
George Kelley, Three Works by Keith Roberts
Margot Kinberg, MURDER IN A COLD CLIMATE, Scott Young
B.V. Lawson, OLD SLEUTHS FREAKY FEMALE DETECTIVES
Evan Lewis, "Murder Extra" Raoul Whitfield
Steve Lewis/I J Roberts, THE MEMORY OF BLOOD, Christopher Fowler
Todd Mason, THE SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME, ed. Robert Silverberg
J.F. Norris, SHEET LIGHTNING, Joan Butler 
James Reasoner, PAL JOEY, John O'Hara
Ron Scheer, STONE ANGEL, Margaret Laurence
Michael Slind, CAT OF MANY TALES, Ellery Queen
Kevin Tipple/Patrick Ohl, IN THE BEST FAMILIES, Rex Stout
TomCat, TO CATCH A THIEF, Daphne Sanders
Prashant Trikannad, SORRY, WRONG DIMENSION, Ross Rocklynne
Zybahn, STONER, John Williams

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Joni Mitchell-URGE FOR GOING

Jack Lemmon







Always one of my favorite actors, Lemmon sure made a lot of great films. Most were comic but he could turn out a dramatic performance like his role as the father in MISSING, or his part in THE CHINA SYNDROME too. My favorite is SOME LIKE IT HOT where he was certainly the more convincing woman as well as the deliverer of one of the greatest last lines of all time.

What is your favorite Lemmon role?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Joni MItchell-RIVER

First Kiss

)

Neglected Movies: ANGELS' SHARE


I don't know how this 2012 Ken Loach film got by me, but I bet it got by you too. It is now streaming on Netflix though and it is terrific.. It won the Jury Prize at Cannes in fact,

A new father, with a feud wreaking havoc in his life, is assigned to a community service work detail where he meets a kind boss and some good friends. Finding a new talent, he is able to parlay that into a safe life for himself and his wife and son. It's a clever, charming little movie, set in Glasgow and Edinburgh. You will need the subtitles to get past the accent.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Joni Mitchell: BOTH SIDES NOW

Openinc Credits: Ben Casey


Montana Stories


For someone who has never lived outside a city, Montana stories have always captured my imagination. Some of my favorites include: the novels and stories of Ivan Doig,Jim Harrison, Richard Wheeler, and Larry Watson. But there are so many more. What is your favorite novel set in Montana?

Friday, March 07, 2014

How About a Dance Scene: TAKE THE LEAD



My review of OMAR is up at CRIMESPREE MAGAZINE

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, March 7, 2014

From the archives

Ed Gorman is the author of Ticket to Ride, Stranglehold, and stories in DISCOUNT NOIR, Beat to a Pulp: Second Round and DAMN NEAR DEAD 2. You can find him here.

Forgotten Books: Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson


Let's begin with a tale of woe. Mine.

Years ago I was asked to contribute a forty thousand word novella to a YA series about shapeshifters. You know, beings humans and otherwise who can transform themselves into other kinds of creatures. I immediately thought of Jack Williamson's The Wolves of Darkness, a grand old pulp novella set in the snowy American West and featuring enough creepy
violence and tangled romance to make it memorable. It even has its moments of sweeping poetry.

Reading Williamson's piece showed me how to write my own. A few days after the young editor received it he called to rave. And I do mean rave. The best of the entire series. Eerie and poetic. Yadda yadda yadda. For the next forty-eight hours I was intolerable to be around. It
was during this time our five cats learned to give me the finger. My swollen head was pricked soon enough. The young editor's older boss hated it. He gave my editor a list of reasons he hated it. I was to rewrite it. I wouldn't do it. I said I'd just write another one, which I did. Old editor seemed to like this one all right but he still wasn't keen on how my "characterizations" occasionally stopped the action. Backstory--verboten.

Shortly after this werewolves began to be popular. I spoke to a small reading group one night and told them about Wolves of Darkness and then about Williamson's novel Darker Than You Think. Everything I love about pulp fantasy is in this book. The werewolf angle quickly becomes just part of a massive struggle for the soul of humanity. As British reviewer
Tom Matic points out:

"According to its backstory, homo sapiens emerged as the dominant species after a long and bitter struggle with another species, homo lycanthropus, whose ability to manipulate probability gave it the power to change its shape and practise magic. These concepts, fascinating as
they are, might make for dry reading were they not mediated via a gripping thriller riddled with startling plot twists, that blends scientific romance with images of stark bloodcurdling horror, such as the kitten throttled with a ribbon and impaled with a pin to induce Mondrick's asthma attack and heart failure, and the pathetic yet fearsome figure of his blind widow, her eyes clawed out by were-leopards. With its scenes of demonic mayhem in an academic setting and the sexual and moral sparring between the two main characters, it almost feels like a prototype of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer in a film noir setting."

Williamson couching his shapeshifters in terms of science fiction lends the story a realistic edge fantasies rarely achieve. The brooding psychology of the characters also have, as Matic points out, a noirish feel. And as always Williams manages to make the natural environment a
strong element in the story. He's as good with city folk as rural. And he's especially good with his version of the femme fatale, though here she turns out to be as complicated and tortured as the protagonist.

This is one whomping great tale. If you're tired of today's werewolves, try this classic and you'll be hooked not only by this book but by Jack Williamson' work in general..  

Sergio Angelini, THE CASE OF THE LUCKY LEGS, Erle Stanley Gardner
Joe Barone, THREE TIMES LUCKY, Sheila Turnage
Brian Busby, SEPARATION TWO, Richard Rohmer
Bill Crider, OMNIBUS OF SCIENCE FICTION, Groff Conklin, editor
Martin Edwards, THE ANATHEMA STONE, John Buxton Hilton
Curt Evans, "VOODOO'D" Kenneth Perkins
Ed Gorman, SCANDAL ON THE SAND, John Trinian
Jerry House, THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER, Harlan Ellison
Rich Horton, GUYFFORD OF WEARE and MONEY MOON, Jeffrey Farnol
Nick Jones ASHENDEN, Somerset Maugham
George Kelley, KITTEN WITH A WHIP, KISS HER GOODBYE, Wade Miller
Margot Kinberg. A CALAMITOUS CHINESE KILLING, Shamini Fling
Rob Kitchin, PIETR, THE LATVIAN, Georges Simenon
B.V. Lawson, AN AMIABLE CHARLATAN, E. Phillips Oppenheim
Evan Lewis, THE PRIVATE EYE, Cleve F. Adams
Steve Lewis, DEAD HERO, William Campbell Gault
Todd Mason, Assorted Forgotten Magazine issues
Neer, A LIST OF FORGOTTEN BOOKS
J.F. Norris, NINE DOCTORS AND A MADMAN, Elizabeth Curtiss
James Reasoner, PLEASURE GROUND, Orrie Hitt
Richard Robinson, THE MYSTERY MILE, Margery Allingham
Gerard Saylor, THE TENTH PLANET, Kit Pedler
Ron Scheer, THE BIOGRAPHY OF A PRAIRIE GIRL, Eleanor Gates
R.T., THE CLERKENWELL TALES, Peter Ackroyd
Kevin Tipple, Barry Ergang, BAR-20, Clarence E. Mulford
TomCat, DEATH IN A DECK CHAIR, K.K. Beck


Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Theme Songs. LOVE AMERICAN STYLE


First Wednesday Book Review Club: GHOST TOWN, Ed Gorman

I have not read all that many westerns. LONESOME DOVE comes to mind. THE SISTER BROTHERS is another. A few years ago, Ed Gorman sent me two of his. 

GHOST TOWN was a great story, well-told, with interesting characters in an unfamiliar setting. Don't let the "notion" of reading a western fool you. This story could have been set in many different venues.

The book takes places in a small Wisconsin town overrun by both malaria and a few suspicious types who run the bank and the town. It's the story of Bryce Lamont, who comes here to get his share of the take from a jewelry theft that put him in prison. (Do you see how similar this is to a crime story set in say, Chicago?) What he finds in that Wisconsin town will lead him down a bloody trail, jeopardizing himself and the people he loves.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot here, but let me say this--nearly every character in Ghost Town is complex--neither all good or bad, and this includes, of course, the protagonist. Although there is a lot of action in the novel, it never feels overdone. There is plenty of time to look around at the scenery, the clothes, medical practices, woman's issues, the news of the late 1800s in a small mid-western town. Despite this, the book is succinct, fast-moving and exciting.

Its greatest asset is-- this book has heart. You can feel it beating on every page. And that's not easy to pull off in any genre of writing. Grit and heart in one slim volume is a gift.


Ed Gorman had written dozens and dozens of book and edited many others. You can find him at http://newimprovedgorman.blogspot.com. Or on Amazon, of course.

You can read more reviews at Barrie Summy's blog.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Lucinda Williams: Are You Alright?


Forgotten Movie: THE APARTMENT



THE APARTMENT (Billy Wilder) won the best picture Oscar in 1960. The other nominees were OK (ELMER GANTRY was one) but this is a very strong movie that holds up quite well. Directed by Billy Wilder, it was long seen as a comedy and there are certainly comic interludes in it. And it can certainly be seen as a satire. But basically it is a study of the American male circa 1960.

The treatment of women in this film closely resembles their treatment in MAD MEN. It is almost painful to watch at times. C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is working his way up the corporate ladder by loaning his apartment to corporate philanderers. This was not initially his intention, but it is how it worked out. It is just too conveniently located.

He has to decide if the price is worth it.

When he falls for an elevator operator, (Shirley MacLaine), things begin to shift. Fred MacMurray excels at playing the bigwig who seduces, abandons, seduces, abandons her. Hard to imagine him running off to play Steve Douglas in MY THREE SONS, in between.

Now much of what makes this movie seem comic is Jack Lemmon's style of acting. I asked myself repeatedly if another actor in the role would have made it an even darker film and the answer is yes. But perhaps it didn't need to be any darker. Would as many people have seen it without him? Did he serve to lighten the mood of a very sad film?

Highly recommended if you've never seen it.

Ferrante and Teicher wrote the brilliant theme song, which still brings me to tears.




Monday, March 03, 2014

Theme Music: TRUE DETECTIVE


The Best Pilot for a TV series: SIX FEET UNDER



Which I probably have posted about before. But I just rewatched the pilot for SIX FEET UNDER and was blown away by it once again. It had such a clear sense of where the show wanted to go. It introduced all the themes we would return to over the years. It was artful, well-acted, and not afraid to show emotion. It used location shots well. It established its characters, giving them immediate depth. 

What pilot did a great job for you?

Saturday, March 01, 2014

John Lennon-Jealous Guy

What Song Has Been Overused in Popular Culture?


Rabbids



This was almost a throwaway song in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC. But singers like Judy Collins made it into an iconic song. But at some point, it became a common tune for ice skaters, elevators, and Starbucks. What other once lovely songs have suffered this fate for you?