Monday, August 30, 2021

Monday, Monday


I have probably seen THE LONG GOODBYE before now but perhaps not because Phil never could stand Elliott Gould. He thought he was a bad actor and didn't really try to be a good one. I am not sure that is the case, but I found a rewatch of this movie somewhat puzzling. It was beautifully filmed, directed and the theme song, which they played constantly, was haunting. I have now read a few reviews and understand this was meant to be a seventies-style version of the forties novel. And I am going to have to read the novel to see if Marlowe was meant to be so laconic and bumbling. I found the casting of Jim Bouton odd. Well, indeed most of the casting was odd. So I have to assume Altman was saying something with that too. It certainly had one of the most violent scenes I have ever watched. Not sure what to make of it. 

Started a new series KATLA, which I kind of like. Finished up THE CHAIR. Will six half-hour episodes stay with me? I doubt it. Not sure what to make of TED LASSO this year. Is it now going to be tragic? I am fearful. 

Reading Sigrid Numez' book on Susan Sontag and just finished BRING YOUR BAGGAGE (Ellis) which is a delightful collection of essays. 

I found out I had COVID when I was in Florida in March 2020. I was quite sick, but at the time the hospital said it was a flu. It doesn't do me any good now because those antibodies that showed up last summer in blood work would be gone now. So I wait for the booster like all of you.

So what's new with you guys?

Friday, August 27, 2021

FFB: THE LOCKED ROOM, Sjowall and Wahloo


If there is one setup that always catches my attention in crime fiction, it is the locked room mystery. John Dickson Carr was undoubtedly the master and I read every one of his books many years ago (and also the ones writter under Carter Dickson).

One of my favorite locked room murders, because I am such a Martin Beck fan, is THE LOCKED ROOM. by
In one part of town, a woman robs a bank. In another, a corpse is found shot through the heart in a room locked from within with no firearm in sight. Although the two incidents appear unrelated, Detective Inspector Martin Beck believes otherwise, and solving the mystery acquires the utmost importance. I am not sure this one would rank with the greats but setting and character rate high with me.And this, of course, is from one of the greatest series ever.

What are some other great ones?  Locked room mysteries, that is.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

SS Wednesday Life Sentences, Keith Taylor

Keith Taylor was Megan's first creative writing instructor at University of Michigan and a kinder more encouraging teacher would be hard to find. He has written many collections of poetry and a few of short stories. These are very short stories that often are little more than a snatch of life. It is the writing that makes them little jewels. You have to think about them a lot to get the point, but sometimes there is none. So you just enjoy the setting or the character or the atmosphere and relax. 

For instance, in "So Far North" a friend goes to visit a dying man in New Orleans. Taking a break from the hospital setting, he drives into the country and communes with birds. A cop stops, thinks him up to no good, but has no proof of it and ends their conversation with the comment, "And leave our goddam birds alone, hear?" Many of the stories deal with nature or with the people who inhabit the places Taylor visits or lives in. These stories will probably please most those who love poetry. "The War on the Bats" will please those who like more action. Something for every taste in this tiny book. 

Kevin Tipple


George Kelley 

Jerry House 

Todd Mason

Monday, August 23, 2021

Monday, Monday


I guess I always forget how good THE THIRD MAN is until Harry Lime shows up. Boy, you can't overestimate the power a good villain brings to a story. And Welles was terrific in this one. And it is shot so beautifully and has so many good touches, like the woman who is speaking in German off and on the entire film and we can only guess at what she is saying. Or that small boy who chases after Lime.

 I also watched MOONSTRUCK but was not knocked out by it. The best thing in it was Olympia Dukakis who underplayed her part amongst all the other actors who were playing to the balcony. I guess that is what they were going for so it was a directorial decision. Or maybe it's my preference for quiet acting. 

Not sure about THE DEFEATED yet. Too many scenes about torture for me. And Taylor Kitsch's Brooklyn accent seems off. What about it, Jeff?  Also watched an episode of THE CHAIR with Sandra Oh but too soon to tell. NINE PERFECT STRANGERS didn't cut it either. Pretty soon I am going to be watching Me TV and reliving my past. I did like the first two episodes of MODERN LOVE.

Rereading THE FRIEND for my book group. Have hardly been out of my house between my late summer allergies, the heat, and Delta. I am pretty sure my vaccine is no longer any good so back to my life of a year ago, I guess. I am better at being alone after two years of this but it does get darn lonely. Be glad for your spouses. 

What about you?

Friday, August 20, 2021

FFB: THE CHIMNEY SWEEPER'S BOY, Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine)


Gerald Candless is a famous British writer who dies suddenly much to the sorrow of his daughters and puzzlement of his wife. Their marriage has always been odd to say the least. She has functioned more as a typist and sometimes muse than a wife. However the girls adore him and the oldest decides to write a biography about him.

This proves to be a difficult task as there are many blind alleys in his life. Is he even Gerald Candless?

And the reader is left with mysteries of her own at the book's end. Why did a man so mistreated by society mistreat his wife. Why did he undermine his daughter's relationship with their mother. Yes, we feel sorry for Gerald, but we also loathe many things about him.

This is a complex, complicated book, which I could not put down. Rendell does a wonderful job of showing what life was like in various time periods. Not one character is a cliche. Truly a terrific book. And she integrates his writing wonderfully into both his life and that of his wife's.

For me Rendell is the master of writing a literary, psychologically- rich mystery. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Short Story Wednesday From THE BEST AMERICAN STORIES OF THE CENTURY, ed. John Updike "The Theft" Katherine Ann Porter

This is a very short story that packs a lot into it without seeming to at first. The story was written in 1930 and you can feel the lack of money already. In fact, money drives the plot. Our protagonist is an unnamed woman who has interaction with three men and the female janitor in her rooming house. In each sequence, money plays a role. Either their clothes suffer, their furniture is wanting, their livelihood is threatened or in the case of the woman, a purse she values is stolen by the janitor. She is also unhappy in love. When I first read this story, I found it odd that it was chosen as one of the best ss of the century but on reading it again (and again) I began to see how economical Porter was in her use of words. How much she conveyed in probably less than 2000 words. How well she captured the new reality of the depression although she never names it. It is available here. 

 Katherine Anne Porter was an American journalist, essayist, short story writer, novelist, and political activist. Her 1962 novel Ship of Fools was the best-selling novel in America that year, but her short stories received much more critical acclaim. Wikipedia


Kevin Tipple 

Jerry House 


Rick Robinson 

Todd Mason

Monday, August 16, 2021

Monday, Monday

I am just returning home (Sunday pm) from staying with a friend during a power outage that occurred on Wednesday.  Almost a million homes were without power during out fourth major storm in a month. High winds knocked my power out before the rain even arrived. I just threw away everything in my fridge/freezer. Some things may have been okay but four days is to long to risk it. 

So I don't have much to relay in terms of books/movies. 

Megan will on the fourth hour of the Today Show with Hoda and Jenna Thursday at 10:00.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Short Story Wednesday: Two from Best American Mystery Stories 2017


Craig Johnson "Land of the Blind" is Johnson's yearly Christmas story set in Longmire Country. As usual, the writing makes the story work as well as the familiarity with the characters and the setting. Boy, I could have used another season or two of Longmire. Anyway in this tale, Longmire and his deputy are called to a church on Christmas Eve where a mostly naked guy has taken the church and one parishioner in particular hostage to his drug-induced evangelical paranoia. It is not solved in a particularly novel way (a bit too much foreshadowing) but it is enjoyable because of its good-hardheartedness and sense of fun. 

Karen McGee's story, "Dot Rat" seems to be the story of an elderly woman trying to save a child she believes to be abused. Again, what lovely writing here. I could read about this woman's life forever. And in this case, the ending was totally unexpected to me. Perhaps a bit too much. but I didn't mind. Really good stuff. 

Interesting here comparing a story that tipped its hand a bit too much and the other, not enough. Some readers are never satisfied. Big storm starting. See you later. 

Kevin Tipple


George Kelley

Monday, August 09, 2021