Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: the 2015 Bouchercon edition with some Hallowe'en links

Cover by Ed Emshwiller
With Patti Abbott and many of the other regular contributors decamped to North Carolina for the Bouchercon (the annual world convention, at least as held usually in the US, of crime-fiction fans and professionals), this week I've assembled the links in my usual late morning/early afternoon fashion (apologies to those accustomed to the emergence at the crack of dawn), and we have two reviews of works by contributor and worthy subject Bill Crider and two of Gil Brewer's The Red Scarf (clearly the toast of the Continent this week) among the other largely impressive works discussed below...Patti will be hosting again next week.

Sergio Angelini: The Red Scarf by Gil Brewer

Yvette Banek: The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde

Joe Barone: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Les Blatt: The New Adventures of Ellery Queen by "Ellery Queen" (Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee)

Brian Busby: Murder without Regret by E. Louise Cushing

Bill Crider: The Crackpot and Other Twisted Tales of Greedy Fans and Collectors by John E. Stockman

Scott A. Cupp: Spicy Adventures by Robert E. 

William Deeck: There's Death in the Churchyard by William Gore

Martin Edwards: The Corpse with the Sunburnt Face by Christopher St. John Sprigg

Will Erickson: The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

Curt Evans: The Furnival Mysteries by Annie Haynes (among her other work)

Fred Fitch (The Westlake Review): Jimmy the Kid by Donald Westlake; The Snatchers by Lionel White and other related work

Barry Gardner: Box Nine by Jack O'Connell

John Grant: Bad Intentions by Karin Fossum

Ed Gorman: Blood Marks by Bill Crider

Rich Horton: Bend Sinister and The Real Life of Sebastian Knight by Vladimir Nabokov

Jerry House: The Haunted Stars by Edmond Hamilton

Nick Jones: Hong Kong Kill by "Peter George" (Bryan Peters)

Stephen Jones: my 10 favorite horror stories

Tracy K: Die with Me by Elena Forbes

George Kelley: Wandl the Invader by Ray Cummings; I Speak for Earth by "Keith Woodcott" (John Brunner)

Margot Kinberg: Havana Red by Leonardo Padura

Rob Kitchen: The Girl in Berlin by Elizabeth Wilson

Kate Laity: Callimachus and Other Plays by Hrotsvita; "Sermo Lupi ad Anglos" by Wulfstan II

B.V. Lawson: Night and Fear by Cornell Woolwich

Evan Lewis: Murder at Midnight by Richard Sale

Jonathan Lewis: Island of Fear and Other Stories by William Sambrot

Steve Lewis: Marked for Murder by "Brett Halliday" (Davis Dresser); State's Evidence by Stephen Greenleaf; Secret of the Second Door by Robert Colby 

Todd Mason: Help! magazine (February 1962) edited by Harvey Kurtzman

Patrick Murtha: The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett

Neer: An English Mystery by Cyril Hare

Frances M. Nevins: The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene; The Case of the Screaming Woman by Erle Stanley Gardner; Maigret and the Toy Village by Georges Simenon

John F. Norris: The Giant Rat of Sumatra by Richard L. Boyer

Juri Nummelin: The Red Scarf by Gil Brewer

John O'Neill: the current small press and other fantasy-fiction magazines

Matthew Paust: Some Came Running by James Jones

James Reasoner: Spawn of the Desert by W. C. Tuttle

Karyn Reeves: The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells

Richard Robinson: Twenty Blue Devils by Aaron Elkins

Gerard Saylor: Little Elvises by Timothy Hallinen

Dan Stumpf: The Maze by Maurice Sandoz; There is a Serpent in Eden (aka The Cunning) by Robert Bloch

Kevin Tipple: The Prairie Chicken Kill by Bill Crider

"TomCat": Cold Blood by "Leo Bruce" (Rupert Croft-Cooke)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

HELP! magazine, February 1962: Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Will Eisner, Algis Budrys, Stan Freberg, Don Edwing, Lydia Wilen et al... has the content up from several issues of Help!, the fourth and last of Harvey Kurtzman's humor magazines, and the one with the longest shadow after Mad, given the remarkable locus of talent that clustered around the magazine, even with its low budget and irregular publishing schedule (publisher James Warren, already doing well with Forrest Ackerman's Famous Monsters of Filmland and Spacemen but not yet also publishing Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella, famously never paid any more than he had to for anything). For starters, Kurtzman's primary editorial assistants, not quite overlapping, were Gloria Steinem and Terry Gilliam; Steinem notably was good at engaging famous and up-and-coming comedians to appear on the covers and in the photo-comics, in imitation of Italian and other traditions, dubbed in the magazine by the Italian term "fumetti"...Gilliam, before decamping to the UK in part to avoid being drafted after the magazine folded in 1965, was perhaps the great conduit for the budding "underground" cartoonists such as R. Crumb appearing in the magazine, before there was an underground scene...among the fumetti actors was a young British comedian performing in New York in an imported review, John Cleese, and he and Gilliam first met due to that gig.

This issue features the infamous "Goodman Goes Playboy" graphic story by Kurtzman and Will Elder, the segment of the adventures of Goodman Beaver that puts a Hallowe'en-appropriate twist on Archie Comics, as well as offering a few light jabs at Playboy (Hugh Hefner had been the publisher of the second Kurtzman magazine, Trump, which was closed down hurriedly due a cash crunch at Playboy Enterprises--and Kurtzman and Elder would later do a famous strip for Playboy magazine for decades).  Publisher Martin Goodman, honcho at Archie and always ready to take offense at any sort of parody (and who had done so at Mad's parody "Starchie" some years earlier), initiated court action. Also, a reprint of a Will Eisner "The Spirit" story, an Algis Budrys-scripted fumetti called "The Mariners" (featuring actress Lydia Wilen, who might also be the Wilen who with her sister has made a career of household hints books in more recent years), a transcript of part of one of Stan Freberg's albums, and cartoons by, among others, Don Edwing (who also has an acting role in the fumetti). Budrys placed several scripts with Help!, at least two with a nautical theme (boats being one of his interests).

Thanks to Dennis Lien for noting these Archive entries on Fiction-L. To see this issue legibly, go through this link, since the embed below doesn't seem to have a sufficient enlargement function.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links to the reviews, interviews and more...

Meshes of the Afternoon

The selections (reviews, interviews and citations at the links below) of undeservedly (and a few deservedly) under-appreciated audio/visual experiences...for the first week of October, we are in Hallowe'en Country, and running up to well as having two citations of The Red Shoes and three of Night of the Eagle. As always, thanks to all the contributors and you readers...

Allan Fish: Hard to be a God

Anne Billson: Top Ten Plaster Cast Movies

Anonymous: Frances Ha; Once Upon a Time in the West; Nebraska; The Apartment

Bill Crider: The Mexican [trailer]; Annie Oakley on film, 1894; Bouchercon

Brian Arnold: The Crawling Hand; Halloween Safety; Halloween commercials

B. V. Lawson: Media Murder; Mystery Melange

BNoirDetour: Phone Call from a Stranger

Colin: Sands of the Kalahari

Comedy Film Nerds: Dave Foley, Suzy Nakamura, Tina Imahara, Doug Benson: LA PodFest

Cynthia Fuchs: Freeheld; Body of War

Dan Stumpf: Cat Girl

David Vineyard: The Canary Murder CasePhilo Vance: "La canarina assassinata" (Italian television)

Dorian Bartilucci: Gunga Din (1939 film)

Elgin Bleeker: The Killers (1946 film)

Elizabeth Foxwell: Pacific Blackout

Evan Lewis: Fallen Angels: "Red Wind"

Gary Deane: Retour de Manivelle (aka There's Always a Price Tag)

George Kelley: Newsies (2015 stage)

Gilligan Newton-John: Frankenstein General Hospital; The Horror of Frankenstein

Iba Dawson: Fright Fest

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: The Ghost Busters (CBS-TV 1975)

Jackie Kashian: Grease Sing-Along; Danielle Radford on good-bad movies and pro wrasslin'

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Jean Arthur

James Clark: Repulsion

James Reasoner: Son of Frankenstein

Janet Varney: Lisa Kate David

Jerry House: Big News (1929 film with Carole Lombard)

John Grant: A Kiss to Die For; Latin Quarter (1945; aka Frenzy)

John Greco: Au revoir les enfants

Judy Gester: Bicycle Thieves (aka The Bicycle Thief); Trapped by Television

Karen Hannsberry: Design for Living

Kate Laity: Night of the Eagle (aka Burn, Witch, Burn!)

Kelly Robinson: Wolf Blood; A Page of Madness; Haxan (aka Witchcraft Through the Ages); The Unknown (1927 film); Waxworks (1924 film); Un chien Andalou

Ken Levine: (re)writing sitcoms on the fly; Quantico

Kliph Nesteroff: The Tonight Show hosted by Jerry Lewis (1962)

Kristina Dijan: Secret of the incas; The Good Die Young; The Red Shoes (1948); September Film Diary 

Laura G.: Time to Kill; Naughty Marietta; Murder, My Sweet; Lucky Night; The Red Shoes (1948); Girls Under 21; TCM October    

Lindsey: Watch on the Rhine; Angel on My Shoulder; The Gazebo; September Films; Recent Films

Lucy Brown: Parade's End

Marty McKee: Toy Soldiers; Planet Earth (1974 telefilm/pilot)

Mystery Dave: Stardust

Paddy Lee: Night of the Demon

Patrick Murtha: Closer to God

Patti Abbott: Listen to Me, Marlon

Pop My Culture: Dan Van Kirk

Raquel Stecher: Holiday Affair; Two on a Seesaw 

Rick: 25 Best Horror and Suspense Films

Rod Lott: We Are Still Here; Cop Car; Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film

Ruth: Romantic Comedies

Sam Juliano: The Last Picture Show; Hope and Glory

Sanchin Gandhi: The Red Balloon

Scott Cupp: The Leopard Man

Sergio Angelini: Mrs. Bradley Investigates (aka The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries): "Death at the Opera"

Stacia Jones: Prick Up Your Ears

Stephen Bowie: Cliff Robertson on 1950s television

Stephen Jones: 5 Best Horror Stories Adapted for TV and Film 

Steve Lewis: Die, Monster, Die!; Web of Deception

Television Obscurities: US TV, Fall 2000

Todd Mason: A night at the movies...revised for Hallowe'en...
Cartoon: "Jackie Kashian: Los Angeles Pet Owners" 
Cartoon: "April Richardson and Jimmy Pardo: Go Bayside!: The California Bandsaw Massacre"
Newsreel: The Onion Review for 12 May
Serial: The Maria Bamford Show
Short Western Film: "The Tonto Woman" (from a short story by Elmore Leonard)
Feature: Night of the Eagle (aka Burn, Witch, Burn!)
Alternate Feature: The City of the Dead (aka Horror Hotel)
Very alternate feature: Castaway (looking a bit soft in image, but difficult to pick up on the market otherwise of late...and not a perfect film, but an interesting one). Original choice here, Testament of Orpheus, didn't have any English subtitles option...alas...
Cartoon: "The Tell-Tale Heart"
(And a more recent, loosely-adapted variant)
Organ Music: Rhoda Scott and Barbara Dennerlein: "Yes or No"

Victoria Loomes: Fellini: the case against 

Vienna: Idiot's Delight 

Yvette Banek: Charlie Chan at the Opera

Friday, October 2, 2015

FFS: "Malice in Wonderland" by Evan Hunter (IF: WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION January 1954; illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas)

The January 1954 issue of If (on newsstands in early December '53) features an impressive lineup of writers...each, save one, would go on to or had already established a sustained career in sf and fantasy; the one was Evan Hunter, who hadn't yet legally changed his name, and had in fact published a number of sf stories under a version of his birth name, S. A. Lombino, which he'd shed over resentment of anti-Italian sentiment in the US (one each in the sf magazines had gone out as by Hunt Collins, Ted Taine and D. A. Addams, according to ISFDB). This story was the seventh in the sf magazines to use his preferred pseudonym/identity for his best work. It's still his most famous sf story, albeit kept out of print for long stretches by the existence of the novel expansion Tomorrow and Tomorrow (first published in 1956 under that title in a Pyramid paperback, and also as Tomorrow's World in a typically cheap Avalon hardcover, both as by Hunt Collins; Sphere did a UK paperback under the T&T title, as by Ed McBain, 1969).

Below, the contents of that issue of If; the best and most important story in the issue is the Damon Knight story, "Anachron." Larry Shaw, like Knight a former Futurian, was the editor of the magazine, but could be overruled by the publisher James Quinn, who retained the editorial title for himself (with Shaw officially as associate ed.).

The Internet Archive posting of the January 1954 issue of If is here.
typically amateurish Avalon package;
atypically weak Emsh illo.
I am happy to be able to report that, unlike every other Hunter/McBain/Curt Cannon/etc. story I can recall reading, there is no fatal stupidity or overstated striving for effect (the major flaw I recall in Last Summer the novel) that tosses verisimilitude out the window in "Malice," so much as a playful and slightly half-assed application of the slang/argot and the effects of their narcotized lives on the wealthy bohemians of the story's future. In a sense, Hunter's disdain for working out the details in his fiction is reflected in the attitudes of the Vikes, who go in for vicarious thrills in extremely lurid novels, videos and 3D presentations, as well as keeping themselves hopped up on (usually) mixtures of cocaine and heroin, and some newer synthetic drugs of unspecified effects. The opponents of the Vikes are the Rather Square "Rees," whose lives are less virtual and less recreationally medicated, and who often prefer at least somewhat realistic middlebrow fiction and the like. It's a bit of a culture war, of a kind all too familiar in the early 1950s in the US even as it is today, with Hunter enjoying, in a manner rather derivative of Alfred Bester particularly and the Galaxy sort of "comic inferno" satirical writing generally, playing off the various fresh and recently-enough historical dichotomies...entertainment Industry staffers (including those in publishing) vs. the sensation-seeking public, whether Vike or Ree and the would-be watchdogs of public morality (analogous to Wertham through McCarthy) among the Rees; bohemians (including the emerging Beats) vs. the boojies; perhaps even a hint of Weimar Republic tension.  Vike characters particularly will drop in and out of standard 1953 American English, occasionally larding their sentences with such words as  "illidge" rather than "bastard", "grooved" for "understood"; a tendency to refer to each other as "mother" and "father" the way the more avant garde in the African American community then might call each other Brother and Sister. (Hunter might also be engaging in the slightest bit of self-parody, as the protagonist long ago traded his original Slavic name for a relatively Aryan one, and is sensitive about it.) Vikes are also notable for wearing as little above the waist as possible, aside from various means of casting different colors and micro decorations on women's breasts and men's (sometimes artificially) hairy chests and everyone's bellies. As with heroin junkies Hunter was aware of in his time, the Vikes have lost interest in sex per se, often have gone as far as finding it revolting, but appreciation of nudity, and even a certain level of bluenose reaction to complete nudity in formal settings, remains with them. 

This story, when come upon by readers unfamiliar with the context in which it was published, might dazzle them with the somewhat lazy if smooth way Hunter drops in his Vike argot and descriptions of new technology, already common coin in sf of the time that will go unread by those who will instead decide Hunter or, say, Vonnegut made all this stuff up by themselves, in the manner of those not terribly well-versed fans who are certain that Miles Davis was a unique genius who singlehandedly remade jazz in various ways throughout his career, as opposed to a collaborator with a wide variety of other serious artists and often more of a popularizer than innovator. The subcultures have their own languages and developments that are traded off and built upon, no matter what school or schools of art we speak of; and there will be those ready to lead with their chins, like a young (mid-20s) film-review blogger who noted recently that, for a Remade Films blogathon she's setting up, she doesn't want any comparison of films based on Famous Books such as Little Women or The Maltese Falcon, but those based on obscure books and stories such as The Big Sleep, Double Indemnity, "The Most Dangerous Game." "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and the like are just fine for her purposes. As I noted that the films of The Fly are based on a hugely famous short story, she rather sniffily hoped to shut me down with the assertion that only true fans of that kind of story would ever have heard of George Langelaan's unknown prose; she certainly had never heard of any such story. Or, apparently, of Chandler's The Big Sleep. I have refrained until now from suggesting that her ignorance isn't my responsibility (nor, certainly, her arrogance about her ignorance), and I'm quite sure that she'll never read this (or those source stories)  unless it and they are thrust upon her, though whoever does so might be doing her at least some small favor. As mentioned above, Hunter is mostly having fun here, and perhaps tweaking particularly the culture around the Scott Meredith Literary Agency and Hollywood sorts he was beginning his career with at about this time...there are entirely too many worse Hunter stories one can turn to instead, and I wonder if the novel is nearly as pleasant as the short form.
The 1970 Pyramid cover at left is probably the least misleading representation in illustration of the tenor of the story, aside from Kelly Freas's original magazine illustration (where Freas himself is the model for the protagonist). The notion that the Vikes and Rees are "strange cults" might be introduced in the novel, but are hardly the case in the short form.

For a lot more praise for Hunter than I'll ever put forth, I suspect, please see the other reviews at Patti Abbott's blog. (Well, I do agree with Hunter's preference for Hammett over Chandler, that obscurity, though perhaps not  to the degree to which Chandler drove Hunter up a wall; the editorial project, an original novellas bugcrusher, that Hunter at least put his name to and probably did some work on, was pretty decent even if it did have a Jeffery Deaver story.)

When a Jerry House meme hybridizes with a George Kelley tendency...

Jerry's "Bad Joke Wednesday" can mate with George's cheesecake imagery to encourage consideration of one of the best (on both relevant counts) of Esquire's "A Funny Joke from a Beautiful Woman" video series: Lake Bell, and her joke...NSFW in many offices, at least.