Thursday, December 31, 2015

I doubt that I will have a New Year's Eve like my parents did 60 years ago.

But I hope you do! Happy New Year's!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


My mother's family was much harder to trace for my brother. Her father's family name, Grieb, is clearly not their original name either. Her father, Clarence George Grieb was born in Syracuse in 1898, attended Syracuse University and eventually Columbia University to get a Master's in Architecture.

The oldest picture I have from his family is his mother's father ID as Grandpa Young in this picture. I have no idea what the uniform is. (Maybe the Masons?) His daughter, Elizabeth Young was my grandfather's mother. His father ran a construction business in Syracuse, which must have been fairly successful as both my grandfather and his brother, Lester, attended college and graduate school.(This is very different from the family my Dad grew up in).

Clarence (Chick's) real dream was to be a drummer (as I know I have mentioned before) but my grandmother would not marry a band member so it was off to graduate school. They met on the boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ where he was in a band.
My maternal grandmother's family came to the US via her paternal grandmother Ellen Jane Stewart in the mid-nineteenth century. Ellen came from Ireland where she was a lacemaker. She was eventually able to bring her two brothers over too. She met her future husband Thomas Morrison who had just come from Wales where he was a coal miner.
Ellen Jane Stewart's life turned tragic when he husband, Tom Morrison died suddenly of black lung disease, leaving her with two small sons: Thomas Jr. and John. They lived in Philadelphia where there was an institution called Girard College, which took in fatherless boys provided they were left in their care save for a Sunday visit. So her two small sons grew up in that institution. However, Girard College was a  progressive institution with social values and saw to it that both boys went on to college so the outcome was a good one. And my grandfather, Tom Morrison, also attended Temple Law School. He married Edith Craven around the turn of the century.

I will continue with my grandparents' story next week.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Year in Crime Fiction


This is an Ingemar Bergman film from 1953.The section shown in the clip above is amazing in how long it lingers on the romance of a brief summer when their relationship worked. The movie is a good warning for not getting swept away at eighteen by lust. When a baby comes, Monika is not up to it.And the summer's hot romance ends sadly. A nineteen year old boy will take on responsibilities he may not be up to.Gritty, romantic, realistic. This one has it all. How few movies manage to capture both the romance and the gritty reality at home.

Monday, December 28, 2015

This is from THE GRUB DAILY

The Drum (For more looks at Sound Quality, go here

Sound Quality: Megan Abbott's The Fever

We've all had that moment as readers when we stumble across a sentence in a novel or essay that sings to us from the page. There are sentences we want to wrap our tongues around, that we speak aloud just to revel in their aural qualities. For each installment of this brand new blog series, Henriette Lazaridis chooses a single sentence from a work of literature and shows us why it is music to our ears.
Part IV: "From Grit to Pearl": A sentence from Megan Abbott's The Fever


I loved Peter May's THE BLACK HOUSE and a lot of the reason  was the setting. It was set on the Isle of Lewis, a harsh bit of Scotland. May used it to great effect. The cliffs especially played a bit part in the story.

What novel's setting elevated the story for you?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Friday's Forgotten Books

What links there are can be found at Todd Mason's blog, right here. Thanks, Todd!

And oh, yes, have the happiest of days!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Art of the Memoir, Part Two

Herman, Laura, Vincent and Grandmother around 1898

Eight of the kids and parents around 1915. My Dad is the youngest. Three girls still to come. Vincent, not pictured.
Herman Hildenbrand Nase

Herman Hildenbrand Nase (1874 - 1945)

Herman Hildenbrand Nase
Born in Tylersport, Montgomery County, Pennsylvaniamap
Husband of — married in Bucks County, Pennsylvaniamap
This is my paternal grandfather who I never met. Yes, they had huge families. He supported his family as a cigar maker. He was also a small farmer of sorts. Twelve of his kids survived to adulthood. I believe my father was the last to die in 2010. Herman Nase raised his kids in a three bedroom house at 238 Lawn St. in Sellersville, PA.
If you look for Nases anywhere but in the area of Pennsylvania where he lived, you will be hard-pressed to find one. That is because the spelling of the name changed many times. The earliest spellings in Alsace Lorraine in the 1600s were Nehs and Neys. 
But in Sellersville, there are hundreds of Nases. Not surprising considering how many siblings and children Herman was part of.  

Laura Smith (Reichard) Nase

Laura Smith (Reichard) Nase (1878 - 1928)

Born in Hilltown, Bucks County, Pennsylvaniamap
Wife of — married in Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Laura married at eighteen and had her first child at twenty. She was then pregnant 20 of the next 26 years. Vincent was born in 1896 and Albert in 1922. Seems impossible, doesn't it? Nineteen kids over 26 years. She died when my father was 13. Of the 19 children she gave birth to, 12 survived into adulthood. Vincent died in World War 1 and my father served in World War 2.
Both families came from Germany but in the 1600s.  
They were Lutheran and worshipped at St. Michael's Lutheran Church. They spoke English and a form of German known as Pennsylvania Dutch. 

I never met either of these grandparents. I know almost nothing about them other than they were country folks. What was country then though is suburban today.  

Marion took off as a teenager and someday I will tell her story.  

Hat tip to my brother, Jeff, who researched the Nase family back to the dawn of time. 


Tuesday, December 22, 2015


There are so many good ones. (The one on MAD MEN where Don uses his secretary to cheer him up and then ignores her the next day is one) But one of my favorites is this one from THE OFFICE when the Pam and Jim thing was going strong. The Pam and Jim romance really buoyed this show for many years.

The Office – Christmas Party
Michael turns the office’s secret Santa game into a swap meet because he’s disappointed with the oven mitt Phyllis made him, Jim panics because his very personal present to Pam ends up in Dwight’s hands instead. Of course, Pam eventually sees the importance of Jim’s present and trades Dwight her iPod for Jim’s teapot. They share a typically sweet Jim and Pam moment, but he, of course, removes the love letter he enclosed in the box while she’s not looking.

Runner Up: HAPPY DAYS: First year when the Cunninghams discover Fonzie is alone. Very low-keyed and charming. 

What's your favorite Christmas episode? (And by the way a lot of them are showing on METV if you have it)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Santa Claus

Kevin found out there was no Santa this year. At nine, it was probably time. How old were you when you learned the horrible truth? How did you find out?

 And I am wondering what any Jewish commenters' parents told them about Santa. It must be an odd situation all around.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Loren Eaton's Holiday Drabbles

The Gift of the Magi

The stained glass window on the landing cracked during an autumn storm. The price for a new one was too dear so clear glass replaced it.
"Why don't you paint it for Christmas?" Veronica asked Tom. "The window looks  plain."
An hour later, Rudolph's nose magically lit the house. 
"My goodness!" Veronica said.
The next year, Tom painted Santa and they woke to a house laden with gifts.  
"None of it disappears," said Veronica in June. "Unless we scrub it off."  
 Scrub it off, Tom did. 
 The baby in the manger woke them up the next December. And did forevermore. 

For more drabbles, visit Loren Eaton right here.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Film Review: BROOKLYN

Friday's Forgotten Books, December 18, 2015

 I will be absent for the next three Fridays, returning on January 15th for Richard Prather week.  I have never read Richard Prather so it will be enlightening for me. 

Todd will collect whatever links there are. Thanks, Todd.  

Miami Blues, Charles Willeford  (from the archives)
Wow! I loved this book. I also loved Pickup but it's hard to believe it's the same author, even if many years separate the two novels. Pickup could have been written by William Kennedy. It barely feels like a crime novel-it's about down on their heels drunks, stumbling through life. It's heartbreaking, tragic.

Miami Blues could have been written yesterday by any of a bunch of current writers, except Willeford is better, making it impossible to put down. It's funny, scary and quick.Hoke Mosley is a compelling character and Miami never looked better (or worse).The movie doesn't do it justice.


Sergio Angelini, CASTLE SKULL, John Dickson Carr
Elgin Bleecker, SPIES OF THE BALKANS, Alan Furst
Scott Cupp, HARRY O MORRIS, Harry O Morris
Curt Evans, Ianthe Jerrold Mysteries
Ed Gorman, VALDEZ IS COMING, Elmore Leonar; THE EVER-RUNNING MAN, Marcia Mueller
Jerry House, RALPH 124CN41+,  Hugo Gemsbach
Richard Horton, SOMEWHERE IN NEW ENGLAND, Alice Blythe
Margot Kinberg, WHITE HEAT, M.J. McGrath
Rob Kitchin, A SONG FROM DEAD LIPS, William Shaw
B.V. Lawson, GHOST OF A CHANCE, Kelly Roos
Steve Lewis, KILL HIM QUICKLY, IT'S RAINING, Michael Brett
Todd Mason, THE BEST HUMOR ANNUAL edited by Louis Untermeyer and Ralph E. Shikes THE BOOK OF WIT AND HUMOR #1 edited by Louis Untermeyer; CARTOON ANNUAL edited by Ralph E. Shikes
J.F. Norris, THE COORDINATOR, Andrew York
James Reasoner, LAST CALL FOR DOOMSDAY, Edmond Hamilton
Richard Robinson, A PERFECT MATCH, Jill McGown
Gerard Saylor, THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN, multiple authors
Kevin Tipples, DEAD SOLDIERS, Bill Crider
TomCat, THE FLOATING LADY MURDER, Daniel Shashower
TracyK, MOURNED ON SUNDAY, Helen Reilly
Westlake Review, NOBODY'S PERFECT, Donald Westlake
Zybahn, THE EMPTY HOURS, Ed McBain

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wednesday Night Music

The Art of the Memoir, Mary Karr

My grandparents and me circa 1958
In her new book, THE ART OF THE MEMOIR, Karr says early on that she came from a family of story tellers. I did not. I cannot remember many stories at all. And when there was a story, it was often because it was forced on my parents. A visitor might say, "Remember when Elsie and Harry pushed his first wife out of the car." Or this admission, "Actually your Dad and I were separated for some time after the war."  I learned that when my brother found an insurance policy with the beneficiary changed.

But on the average day or year, I learned almost nothing about the early lives of my parents. Was it that they didn't find their lives interesting enough to recount? Were their childhoods unpleasant and they didn't want to relive them? Was talking about the past a waste of energy to them?

Although they were both on the quiet side, my mother liked to talk about politics and Hollywood gossip. My Dad--well, I can't remember him talking about anything other than the most ordinary things. Like the best way to get to Atlantic City. Or the price of an oil change. Or whether it was time to clean the kitchen fan. He worked long hours and we saw little of him except on Sunday.This was certainly not by choice. He was devoted to his family.

And most conversations in our house played out over the din of a TV. It was always on in both our house and my grandparents' house. My grandmother would put on a golf tournament rather than have dead air. The TV was on from the Today Show to the Tonight Show. So it wasn't that my mother or grandmother didn't like stories. They just didn't tell them.

Was yours a family of story tellers?
My parents in the fifties

My parents and my brother, Jeff. Early sixties

Us in 1954

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday Night Music

My Favorite Frank Sinatra movie: SOME CAME RUNNING

Frank was never better than when he was cynical, a little mean, and ultimately the wounded warrior. Shirley acted up a storm in this one too.  Great stuff.

What's yours?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday Night Music

About My Book: James Buccellato

Though detectives denied it, the Italian mafia was operating in Detroit as early as 1900, and the city was forever changed. Bootleggers controlled the Detroit River and created a national distribution network for illegal booze during Prohibition. Gangsters, cops and even celebrities fell victim to the violence. Some politicians and prominent businessmen like Henry Ford’s right-hand man, Harry Bennett, collaborated closely with the mafia, while others, such as popular radio host Gerald Buckley, fought back and lost their lives.

Some biographical info: 
James Buccellato is a senior lecturer of political science in the Irvin D. Reid Honors College at Wayne State University. His new book, Early Organized Crime in Detroit: Vice, Corruption and the Rise of the Mafia, will be released on The History Press on Nov.30. The book explores Detroit’s struggle with gang violence, public corruption and the politics of vice during the tumultuous first half of the 20th century and includes rarely published images from the era.

An interview with Jimmy can be found here. (Hopefully) 

Jimmy was one of Phil's very best students. He earned a Ph.D. in political theory/American Government. On top of that, he is the sweetest young man you will ever meet and an excellent teacher. Here's hoping his career and this book are wildly successful. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Night Music: So This Is Christmas.

Friday's Forgotten Books, December 11, 2015

(From the archives)

Jared Case is a graduate of The L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation and the Head of Cataloging for the motion picture collection of the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY. He is the curator of the film noir series that runs in January and February at the Dryden Theater

DIE DREAMING, Terence Faherty

Owen Keane is the perfect example of a character that illuminates the prosaic by highlighting the idiosyncratic. His background is like no other: On a religious retreat between his junior and senior years in high school he came across a boy who claimed he could talk to God. When this claim was proven a deceit, his faiths were shaken: his faith in God, his faith in Man, and his faith in The Truth. This event was never far from him, and his crises of faith were internalized, affecting his belief in God, his belief in himself, and his belief in his ability to find the truth. Hoping to tackle all of these crises simultaneously, he abandoned Mary, the woman who would be the love of his life, and entered the seminary. When his failure at the seminary coincided with Mary’s abandonment of him for his college roommate, Harold Ohlman, Owen began to wander, doing odd menial jobs, and ending up in a liquor store. In a fit of pique, he attended his tenth high school reunion under the guise of a private investigator, and Owen Keane, the amateur detective was born.
This backstory is specific enough to be unique, and yet the sum is the same for many of us. Our lives have been an accumulation of events that led us to question the world around us. And to this end, Owen Keane has many of the same investigative tools we all do. As a fan mystery fiction and mystery film, Owen has been indoctrinated into all the tropes and clich├ęs of the detective’s process. His experience is our experience as he references Dashiell Hammett, or Nero Wolfe, or Double Indemnity. This makes him acutely self-aware of his place in the genealogy of detective fiction, but the broad shoulders he stands on don’t prevent him from jumping to the wrong conclusion or following a lead because he hopes it to be true. His failings are our failings, even as his cynical, self-deprecating exterior belies an underlying belief in the goodness of men and women, and the belief that he will be able to effect positive change through the search for truth.
In fact, his currency is truth. Rarely does he get paid for his services, and even then it only covers expenses. But if he can uncover the truth, not necessarily for himself, and not even necessarily for the victim, it adds to a growing tapestry of truth, something that he can point to as a basis for a belief in his ability to find the truth, which supports a belief in himself and in mankind, which holds up the possibility of a belief in the existence and effectiveness of God, despite the fact that faith requires neither proof nor support. Yet this is what drives him to toil in the long shadows of Sam Spade, Nick Charles and Travis McGee.
DIE DREAMING, the fourth book in Terence Faherty’s “Owen Keane” series, is perhaps the best, taking this mystery-fan/faith-in-crisis context and grafting it onto a mystery story that inverts the mystery story expectation of beginning-middle-end. Owen Keane, 28 and feeling a bit of a failure, decides to play a self-deprecating joke on his high school classmates, The Sorrowers, by running an ad for the Owen Keane Detective Agency in the 10th reunion program. But one of The Sorrowers is a jokester herself and sets up a fake mystery to lure Owen into an embarrassing situation. Owen falls for the ruse, but is saved by another classmate. In the meantime, however, a true mystery surfaces when loose lips mention an event that was suppressed 10 years ago and that tied The Sorrowers together in a code of secrecy. Owen’s investigation stumbles along, following false leads and shaky assumptions, but his dogged determination does eventually reveal the truth. It also reveals that there are as many victims as perpetrators, and in the end Owen decides that the truth, now discovered, is sometimes better left buried.
This decision comes into question 10 years later when one of The Sorrowers turns up dead. Owen must come to terms with his responsibility in the death and determine whether the truth did come out, and if someone would kill to keep it hidden. His investigation takes him back to his hometown and his 20th high school reunion. He starts to look at The Sorrowers and the mysterious event that took place 20 years ago, but he has to take into account the changes that have taken place in the last 10 years, when the end of his last investigation became the beginning of this new crime. He discovers that relationships are even more complex than they appeared, and that crimes can have implications generations removed from the original event itself.
There is no better feeling than finding a piece of art that resonates with you, unless you get to share that discovery with someone else. Terence Faherty and Owen Keane were such a discovery for me, and I hope that, by sharing the discovery with you, they will pass from the realms of the forgotten.

Sergio Angelini, THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR, Lionel White
Yvette Banek, THE HOG'S BACK MYSTERY, Freeman Wills Croft
Bill Crider, CUT ME IN, Ed McBain
Scott Cupp, THE FACE IN THE FROST, John Bellairs 
Martin Edwards, THE NURSING HOME MURDER, Ngaio Marsh
Rick Horton, Ace Double: Rocannon's World, by Ursula K. Le Guin/The Kar-Chee Reign, by Avram Davidson
Jerry House, THE MURDER OF ANN AVERY, Henry Kuttner

Margot Kinberg, BLUE MONDAY, Nicci French 
Rob Kitchin, Lennox, Craig Russell 
Kate Laity, HIGHSMITH: A ROMANCE OF THE 1950s, Marijane Meeker
B.V. Lawson, A WOMAN ON THE EDGE, Elizabeth George 
Steve Lewis, TIME GONE BY, William Heffernan 
Todd Mason, 1965, the short fiction annuals 
J.F. Norris, DEATH GOES TO SCHOOL, Q. Patrick
Matt Paust, A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ, Walter M. Miller 
James Reasoner, QUEEN OF THE MARTIAN CATACOMBS, Leigh Brackett
Richard Robinson, SPIKE OF SWIFT RIVER, Jack O'Brien
Kerrie Smith, PENGUIN POOL MURDERS, Stuart Palmer 
Kevin Tipple, SHIFTING IS FOR THE GOYIM, Elizabeth Zelvin
TomCat, WHAT DREAD HAND, Christiana Brand
TrackK, SEASONS OF SNOW AND SINS, Patricia Moyes 
Westlake Review, ORDO, Donald Westlake
Zybahn, A COLD DAY IN PARADISE, Steve Hamilton