Thursday, March 31, 2011

March "Forgotten" Music: Vocal Neighborhoods: Ken Nordine, Urszula Dudziak, David Moss...and an instrumental piece by Halim El-Dabh...

I keep hoping to find a reasonably legit linkable download or video of Halim El-Dabh's fine "Leila and the Poet," but no such luck so far...but here's an instrumental piece in a similar direction...

For more of this month's "forgotten" music, please see Scott Parker's blog.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday's Forgotten Books: 25 March 2011: the links

Here are the entries in this week's roundelay that I'm aware of...please let me know if I've missed yours or someone else's (or if you see a blatant error or six). Thanks!

Next week, the hosting returns to Patti Abbott's blog, as Patti recovers from her vacation and the various relaxing and healthful events that led up to her week is also a theme week, if you wish to play along: an emphasis on coffee-table books. Please use the coasters.

B. V. Lawson: Wycliffe and the Three Toed Pussy by W.J. Burley
Barry Ergang: The Case of the Vanishing Beauty by Richard S. Prather
Bill Crider: The Executioner: War Against the Mafia by Don Pendleton
Ed Gorman: Learning to Kill by Ed McBain (Evan Hunter) and A Touch of Death by Charles Williams
Evan Lewis: Sinners and Shrouds by Jonathan Latimer
George Kelley: The Valiant Sailors by V. A. (or Vivian) Stuart
James Reasoner: Girl Possessed by Dean Owen (Dudley Dean McGaughey)
Jerry House: A Strange Adventure in the Life of Miss Laura Mildmay by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
Julia Madeleine: Coma by Robin Cook
Kerrie Smith: Murder in Paradise and Sea Fever by Ann Cleeves
Martin Edwards: The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley
Paul Bishop: The Laughter Trap by Judson Philips
Randy Johnson: No Cure for Death by Max Allan Collins
Richard Pangburn: The Fugitive Pigeon by Donald Westlake; The Strange Case of Jonathan Swift and the Real Long John Silver by Robert Prather
Richard Robinson: The Little Sister, based on the novel by Raymond Chandler, graphic novel by Michael Lark
Rob Kitchin: The Main by Trevanian
Ron Scheer: The Hard Rock Man by Frederick Ritchie Bechdolt
Scott Cupp: Bullard of the Space Patrol by Malcolm Jameson
Stephen Mertz: Donavan’s Delight by Carter Brown (among so much else at Mystery*File)
Todd Mason, Hell on Earth, based on the novella by Robert Bloch, graphic novel by Keith Griffen and Robert Loren Fleming
Yvette Banek: Episode of the Wandering Knife by Mary Roberts Rinehart

FFB: Ed Gorman on Evan Hunter/Ed McBain and LEARNING TO KILL

Evan Hunter, Ed McBain and Learning to Kill.

A year or so before he was diagnosed with cancer, Evan Hunter seemed intrigued by my idea of doing a massive collection of some of his earliest tales. Intrigued enough, anyway, to have somebody make copies of sixty-some stories and send them to me.

The stories covered virtually every pulp genre – crime, western, adventure, science fiction, horror – done under seven or eight pen-names.

We had everything ready to go when Evan had second thoughts. There were just too many of these stories he didn’t want to resurrect.

In Learning to Kill (Harcourt, $25) Evan and Otto Penzler have brought together the very best of those early stories in a stunner of a hardback package. This shows you how early Hunter was a master of both form and character.

The stories are divided into categories: Kids, Women in Jeopardy, Private Eyes, Cops and Robbers, Innocent Bystanders, Loose Cannons, Gangs.

He wrote well across the entire spectrum of crime and suspense stories, so well in fact that several of these stories are true classics that will be reprinted for decades to come – “First Offense,” “Runaway,” “The Merry Merry Christmas,” “On The Sidewalk Bleeding” and “The Last Spin” aren’t just for readers. They’re also for writers. These particular stories yield great insights into use of voice, plot, character and milieu. I could teach a full semester of writing using just those stories I mentioned.

Hunter/McBain was one of the two or three best and most influential crime writers of his generation. Otto Penzler has paid tribute to that fact with this hefty and important contribution that belongs in every mystery collection.

FFB: Robert Bloch: HELL ON EARTH, a graphic novel adaptation by Keith Griffen and Robert Loren Fleming, et al. (DC Comics 1985)

I have a copy of The Lost Bloch, Volume 2: Hell on Earth, but I didn't get around to picking it up till just before one of my domicile-moves, and I haven't yet read the original text (the book is buried in one of the boxes, still)...I don't yet own a copy of the 1942 Weird Tales issue above where it debuted. But I did recently pick up an inexpensive copy of the 1985 DC Comics adaptation, part of a short run of ambitious adaptations commissioned by longtime DC editor Julius Schwartz, and it's an interesting though by no means flawless job of adapting the story (taken on the graphic novel's own terms, since I don't have the original to compare it to).

It has an impressively bleak and cinematic approach to the story, with stylized figures who look much more flinty than the cover image above might suggest, and from the tone of Fleming's text, I suspect it hews pretty closely to the hardboiled, rather offhandedly erudite nature of the story, which is also not a little about the estate of being a horror-fiction writer (it anticipates in part not only the likes of The Exorcist but also of The Shining--but, then, the debt of not a few horror-fiction writers since Bloch to him is fairly obvious); the biggest technical problem with the comic as a comic are some really unfortunate lettering and coloring choices in one extended passage, when taken together, wherein one character "speaks" in a slightly eccentric script in black ink in deep red "balloons" (they aren't traditional balloons, but are the next gen sort of floaters)...makes for maximum illegibility (something which, for example, also plagued at least one paperback reprint of the Alan Moore classic From Hell, albeit there it was more the size and eccentricity of the lettering that foiled readers, or at least this reader--perhaps such Hellish texts are simply damned to be so cursed). A horror-fiction writer is engaged by two paranormal investigators, an older male scientist and a younger female researcher, in a well-funded but intimate attempt to raise a demon...and through the use of the wrong spell, the trio manage to summon and entrap Satan, instead.

Mostly what the adaptation does is make me keen to read the original, which isn't the worst thing to be said about an adaptation, but I understand that this was one of the most distinctive of a short, unsuccessful 1985 series of comics chapbooks by DC (a response to the first flush of "aboveground" alternative comics in the early '80s and the success of the likes of Heavy Metal, but just ahead of the rise of the direct-sales comics store that might've been the natural home for such publications). Even for full-color on good paper in a 8.5 x 11" format, $6 was a pretty steep price to pay in 1985. I don't feel at all slighted having picked it up for half-price on my last visit to Falls Church, Virginia's, Hole in the Wall Books, the Nallys' store of some decades standing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked Film and/or Other A/V: 22 March '11

Beware the Rhythm Cults!

Bill Crider: Daredevils of the Red Circle
Brian Arnold: Hear My Song and The Tortellis
Chuck Esola: Americathon
Eric Peterson: Pink Nights
Evan Lewis: "Carrotblanca"
Ian Covell: "Destino"
James Reasoner: The Dead Don't Dream
Jerry House: Mr. and Mrs. North: "Comic Strip Tease"...and "The Spring Man and the SS"
Randy Johnson: The Tall T
Scott Cupp: Allegro non Troppo
from Mystery*File: Steve Lewis: The Crimson Canary and David L. Vineyard: Soldier of Fortune (1955)
Todd Mason: For One Night Only: The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart et seq. (BBC Radio 4) and Mike Detective

and of related interest:

Chris Poggioli: 21st Century Distribution Corp. Filmography: 1976-1986
Ed Gorman: The 25th Hour
George Kelley: Inside Job and Stephen Sondheim: Finishing the Hat
Howard Hopkins: The Snoop Sisters
Jack Seabrook: Fredric Brown on Television (part 2)
Jackie Kashian: Eric Drysdale's The Man with F.E.E.E.T.
Marc Edward Heuck: Space Cruiser Yamato/Star Blazers (and earthquake/tsunami relief)
Paul Bishop: Iambik Audio's Complete Crime Collection No. 1

Late entry: Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Ian Covell on DESTINO

Ian Covell is a British bibliographer and reviewer, and works with Locus magazine and others:

There are some Disney films that will never be rereleased at all, others
that will only be released in cut form, and still others that are only
sneaked out inside something which seems designed to hide them in plain

At the end of 2010, Disney issued a 4-disk Blu-Ray set of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 - the two films, plus huge amounts of background material,
plus another lengthy documentary about a short film...and at the bottom
of that, the short film itself. One that won the Academy Award, one that
took 56 years to complete, one that is the outcome of a collaboration
between Walt Disney himself and one of the most unmistakable artists of the
20th century.

The film is Destino, the artist was Salvador Dali, and the chances are, that you have never heard of it. From the opening scene - a range of mountains which births a naked woman who walks forward, closes her eyes, and dreams...everything is Dali, ants, eyes, birds, clocks, the melting, the changing, the metamorphoses that are in process in his paintings, and which here
complete their changes, and change again, and again. The viewpoint circles,
swirls, swings, the rare moments of stillness come as surprises, and then
are usually the signs of another dark tone being added to the narrative.

The narrative--storyboarded by Dali and Disney artist John Hench in 1945--
is, as is most Dali, about desire, and love thwarted. Time (as in a
memorable scene of the desert sands of time draining away) in the end leaves
just an empty hand reaching out for emptiness.

One discordant note is a baseball scene, though this was in fact the only
part of the movie originally animated in the 1940s, and was certainly
agreed by Dali.

Finally made by Disney France in 2002 (the flowing beauty of the Disney's
Tarzan seems to have been made by the same team), the questions are, would
Dali have liked it, damn right; would Disney have liked it, who can be sure;
would you like it, oh, yes.

Tuesday's Overlooked Audio: FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY, Season 2, beginning with THE BUTTON-DOWN MIND OF BOB NEWHART; MIKE DETECTIVE

BBC Radio 4 is offering a second season of Paul Gambaccini's fine series, For One Night Only, delving into how certain iconic live albums were recorded, and the season premiere is about The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart. (The next episode will be about B.B. King's Live at the Regal). If you've read, say, Gerald Nachman's Seriously Funny, the collection of profiles of the "new" comedians of the '50s and '60s, or otherwise much about Newhart, you might well've heard most of his contributions to the background info previously, though they are still well-presented and worth hearing again, but the material about the small Texas nightclub (actually blue-law evading "bottle club") where the album was recorded, and the risks that legendary music industry guy George Avakian, newly the head of a Warner Bros. Records struggling to shake their money-losing tradition as solely a source of novelty/pop records from WB tv actors, is where the half-hour told me some things I'd not previously encountered at all. I can heartily recommend this half-hour, and you might want to try it sooner rather than later, as Radio 4 will have it archived for only four more days, before offering the King/Regal episode on their webpage.

Mike Detective isn't quite up to the best of the Firesign Theatre's Nick Danger, Third Eye, but it is a joyful wordplay-heavy romp through as many hardboiled cliches as the writers can remember. I dig it, hope you will, too.

Monday, March 21, 2011

reminder: Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V

Brian Arnold provided a Special St. Patrick's Day extra Overlooked Film, Hear My Song...and I've had various other things get in the way of adding a note for it till now...tomorrow, we'll have the regular Tuesday roundelay, if the crick don't rise and with all the folks who can and choose to.

Friday, March 18, 2011

FFB: FEAR AND TREMBLING, quite possibly edited by Alfred Hitchcock (Dell 1948)

The 1963 reprint I have (which, in a typical Dell confusion move, is entitled AH Presents: F&T on the title page).

The original, mapback Dell edition.
...then again, no reason this one and its companions early on couldn't be ghosted. But, with the anthologies starting in the next decade after the advent of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents: television series, someone was always careful to credit the actual editor, with Hitchcock's thanks for the Invaluable Assistance of (usually Robert Arthur, after the first volumes, till Arthur's death), but these other 1940s anthos also have no such credit: Suspense (Dell, 1945), Bar the Doors (Dell, 1946) and The Fireside Book of Suspense (Simon and Schuster, 1947), which last "Zybahn" at the fine Casual Debris blog notes is essentially a hardcover expansion of Suspense (but see Updates below, and the comments) (here's his Bar the Doors review--see the original Dell mapback covers, front and back, below).

courtesy ISFDb
* 7 • The Forms of Fear (Fear and Trembling) • essay by Alfred Hitchcock
* 9 • Cassius • (1931) • novelette by Henry S. Whitehead [Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror, November 1931, (Nov 1931, ed. Harry Bates, publ. The Clayton Magazines, Inc., $0.25, 144pp, pulp magazine)]
* 47 • The Tarn • (1923) • shortstory by Hugh Walpole
* 61 • Little Memento • (1938) • shortstory by John Collier
* 67 • Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad • (1904) • novelette by M. R. James
* 88 • One Summer Night • (1906) • shortstory by Ambrose Bierce [Cosmopolitan, March 1906]
* 90 • Telling • (1927) • shortstory by Elizabeth Bowen
* 98 • The Jar • (1944) • shortstory by Ray Bradbury [Weird Tales, November 1944, (Nov 1944, ed. Dorothy McIlwraith, publ. Weird Tales, $0.15, 96pp, Pulp, magazine) Cover: Matt Fox]
* 114 • The Bad Lands • (1920) • shortstory by John Metcalfe
* 126 • Ghost Hunt • (1948) • shortstory by H. Russell Wakefield [as by H. R. Wakefield] [Weird Tales, March 1948]
* 132 • Skule Skerry • (1928) • shortstory by John Buchan [The Runagates Club, (1928, John Buchan, publ. Houghton Mifflin, $2.50, viii+306pp, hc, coll)]
* 147 • The Red Room • (1896) • shortstory by H. G. Wells
* 157 • The Sack of Emeralds • (1919) • shortstory by Lord Dunsany [Tales of Three Hemispheres, (Nov 1919, Lord Dunsany, publ. J. W. Luce, $1.75, 147pp, hc, coll)]
* 161 • The Night Reveals • novelette by Cornell Woolrich [as by William Irish]

So, this anthology features a number of stories Hitchcock himself might well've read himself in his relative youth, with the most recent stories (the Bradbury, the Wakefield, the Collier, the Woolrich/Irish) all quite possibly drawn to his attention as possibilities for adaptation one way or another...and certainly they seem like the kind of stories he might like for that purpose. Suspense, the radio series, did their rather famous adaptation of "Ghost Hunt" in 1949--it was first published in the clangorous Weird Tales 25th anniversary issue. And it's a solid mix of chestnuts (which M.R. James story have you seen everywhere?) and such eventual chestnuts as "The Jar" with items that are too often overlooked today (such as the Bowen or even the Woolrich).

Here's the contents of the first Hitchcock (mapback) Dell antho, courtesy a(n oddly now deleted page of) Vault of Evil:
The Quality of Suspense - Alfred Hitchcock
Leiningen versus the Ants - Carl Stephenson
The Liquer Glass - Phyllis Bottome
Flood on the Goodwins - A. D. Divine
R.M.S. Titanic - Hanson Baldwin
Blue Murder - Wilbur Daniel Steele
The House of Ecstasy - Ralph Milne Farley
Fire in the Galley Stove - Capt. William Outerson
The Lady or the Tiger - Frank Stockton
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge - Ambrose Bierce
The Second Step - Margery Sharp
The Blue Paper - Albert Payson Terhune
The Baby in the Icebox - James M. Cain
The Room on the Fourth Floor - Ralph Straus
Elementals - Stephen Vincent Benet

And, in further discovery (at least for me in my belated way), the first of the YA anthologies attributed to Hitchcock for Random House, AH's Haunted Houseful (1961), is ghost-edited not by Arthur, but by Muriel Fuller...and one can definitely tell the pleasant as this anthology is, it isn't nearly as sharply-edited nor as likely to appeal to both young and adult readers as the Arthur anthologies...contents courtesy AlfredSpace:

"Let's Haunt A House" by Manly Wade Wellman,
"The Wastwych Secret" by Constance Savery,
"Jimmy Takes Vanishing Lessons" by Walter R. Brooks,
"The Mystery Of Rabbit Run" by Jack Bechdolt,
"The Forgotten Island" by Elizabeth Coatsworth,
"The Water Ghost Of Harrowby Hall" by John Kendrick Bangs,
"The Red-Headed League" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
"The Treasure In The Cave" by Mark Twain (a long excerpt from Tom Sawyer),
"The Mystery In Four-And-A-Half Street" by Donald [Culross] & Louise Peattie.

Please see George Kelley's blog for the rest of this week's "Forgotten" books, and I'll be hosting the links list next week, with Patti Abbott returning the week after next from her prowling (hobbling?) the unsuspecting streets of Gotham...

Updates: Thanks to Jerry House, for noting that I'd completely missed another 1940s "AH" antho, Hold Your Breath (Dell, 1947), even though "Zybahn" lists it, and Jerry notes that there were some substitutions in the process of expanding Suspense for the Fireside Book; BV Lawson also notes that whoever was choosing these stories was demonstrating extraordinary taste, and that I'll agree with...I can believe that the mix of old AH favorites like John Buchan and new adaptation-ready items (Hitchcock hadn't yet done Rear Window from Woolrich's story, but he would) make it possible AH edited these, at least in part, but I share Jerry's suspicion that they are probably just yet another "celebrity editor" from the film-world set of ghost jobs, and the Zane Gray Western Magazine editor for Dell, Don Ward, might well be a likely choice. No thanks whatsoever to Blogspot, which is fighting with both my webbrowsers and not letting me comment on my own blog (other Bs, koff, blogs are OK)...but I might've just thought of a way around that...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Links: Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: 15 March

Thanks as always to all the participants, and to you for reading (and commenting if you like, or joining in on your own blog or by being hosted on one of ours) our entries for this week, which include, so far:

Bill Crider: Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!
Brian Arnold: Fatso
Chuck Esola: The Mysterious Monsters
Cullen Gallagher: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu
Evan Lewis: The Adventures of Superman (the 1950s tv series)
James Reasoner: The Picasso Summer
Jerry House: Quatermass II (the original teleplay version)
Juri Nummelin: The Marquise of O and The Jack Bull
K. A. Laity: Chinese White Bicycles
Patti Abbott: The Enchanted Cottage
Paul D. Brazill: Somebody to Love
Randy Johnson: Buffalo Bill and the Indians
Rick Robinson (recommends): The Jazz Video Cafe
Scott Cupp: Portrait of Jennie

Steve Lewis's Mystery*File has an even larger slew of relevant items than usual this week: Michael Shonk: Mr. and Mrs. Smith (the 1990s tv series); Walter Albert: Bombshell; Steve Lewis: Calculated Risk; Dan Stumpf: Quatermass II (the Hammer Films version); Mike Tooney: The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: "Bed of Roses"
Todd Mason: lesser-known US broadcast television networks; the Newsradio: The Complete Series dvd package

Of related interest:
David J. Schow: Bloodstock
Doug Bentin: Appointment with Danger
George Kelley: Conversations with Scorcese
Heath: Linda Darnell
Lawrence Person and Howard Waldrop: Battle: Los Angeles
Megan Abbott on Jean Harlow
Ron Scheer: Junior Bonner
Scott Parker: CSI Miami: "Hunting Ground"

Tuesday's Overlooked Film and Other A/V: "little" broadcast networks; the NEWSRADIO complete set

Stolen Life (debuted in the US on Link TV)

People are "cutting" their tv-programming cables, as a result of needing to economize and because there are so many options, both authorized (such as Hulu and Fancast, Netflix Streaming and network websites) and unauthorized, for pulling down cable and broadcast programming from the web...but there are also a panoply of "small" national networks that have broadcast signals, usually in the larger "markets" but not exclusively, beyond the Big Eight (and if we include the Spanish-language broadcast networks in the US, the Big Eleven/las Once Redes Grandes) of ABC, CBS, NBC, F(ox)BC, PBS, the CW (Columbia Warner, the heir to the merged UPN and WB networks), MNT (MyNetworkTV, Fox's little sibling created to feed to Fox-owned former UPN affiliates and other stations "orphaned" in the CW merger), Ion Television (the punningly-branded successor to PaxTV) (and Univision, Telemundo, and Telefutura). Hell, some of my fellow bloggers mistake some of these for cable stations, when actually they are broadcasting to nearly all the US, though some in some areas can only be seen on cable or via satellite.

Beyond these, though, because so many stations have the option of broadcasting their digital signals in standard definition rather than high definition, that means the station that was solely the NBC affiliate in your area is often now also the Universal Sports network affiliate, and could also be affiliated with one of at least three "nostalgia"/repeats-oriented networks (judging by the series they rerun, RetroTV being the best of them, ThisTV being the middle babynet in age and quality, and Tribune's new AntennaTV trailing...albeit all three have about as mildly interesting a mix of old films as each other, and all devote a good chunk of their 24-hour schedules to the films...unfortunately usually edited, and panned and scanned, and with commercial breaks, but there they are, some very obscure indeed; ThisTV also offers the revived, syndicated Elvira package on weekends). Older low-budget broadcast networks, such as America-1, also offer a mix of sports coverage, series repeats and inexpensive films...but these are slightly less likely to be the secondary and tertiary channels of large network affiliates, so much as featured on low-power analog signals.

In public broadcasting, all under the gun from the "reformers" in the US House, particularly, there is a selection of networks smaller than PBS that are at least interesting supplements to the largest US network: World offers repeats of PBS documentaries, syndicated nonfiction programming (a lot of public broadcasting programming, a Whole Lot, even on PBS stations, is actually from syndicators, including American Public Television which administers World), and a few items original to World; likewise, Create, also administered by APT, features mostly crafts and travel programming, some of which comes from PBS and most of which is syndicated by APT and NETA (the National Educational Telecommunications Association). MHz WorldView is a network devoted to international programming, and domestic programming for diverse ethnic audiences, with hq and an anchor station in the Norther Virginia DC suburbs (not so very far from PBS's headquarters), and about thirty affiliates so far nationwide; among their notable programming is a series of (mostly European) subtitled crime dramas, the International Mystery Movies, which regularly feature such film- and television series as the French Maigret, the German Tatort, the Swedish Wallander, and various Italian series, including the Mafia drama The Octopus. Other national public broadcasters, including Germany's multilingual North American feed of Deutsche Welle and Japan's English-language NHK World, have some penetration into the US, as either 24-7 feeds or partial-day feeds on digital public frequencies. The Classic Arts Showcase is a selection of classical music, opera, drama, dance and other short videos that a number of stations use as overnight or 24/7 programming, as well.

And there are feeds that get relatively little broadcast clearance, but still get some, often as overnight feeds on the stations which still carry them, as well as having, in the first two instances, pride of place particularly on the satellite providers: Link TV, the largely leftist and internationalist pledge-supported channel, and the Documentary Channel, funded with commercials (the US station, as opposed to the unrelated Canadian station with the same name). Link TV is particularly good for international dramatic film, along with news programming and documentary...they were the first to broadcast the film Stolen Life, source of the still above, as part of their ongoing Cinemondo series.

And there are a slew of religious networks, shopping networks, and such special-interest networks as LiveWell and Wealth TV, which are also seen on digital broadcast channels around the US.

Meanwhile, the former NBC sitcom NewsRadio isn't Too obscure, as probably the brightest of such US series in the 1990s (at least for the first four of its five seasons; they were never quite able to regain their rhythm after the murder of co-star Phil Hartman). But, having purchased the entire-series dvd set recently, I thought I'd add my voice to the chorus of complaints about how shoddily the set is packaged, with a flimsy plastic spindle-tray holding all the disks, with no protection from rubbing against each other and only a piece of die-cut cardboard to protect the top dvd from spilling out of the tray if the box is tipped in various directions. A very cheap and shoddy job, with minimal documentation in the package, which is retailing for nearly $50 at full price, but is frequently available at considerable discount, as the packaging all but demands. Which is a pity, since the content of the episodes is often brilliant, and even the weakest episodes of the fifth season are usually worth at least one run-through. The commentaries, beyond those provide for selected first and second-season episodes, tend to be rambling chats, but do turn up the occasional interesting bit of history or stagecraft; one thing that became apparent as I watched and listened to them over the last week or so is how cursed this series seemed to be, even with all the cameraderie between cast and crew and management, until one reached the idiots in NBC brass who were constantly pushing for stunt casting and "cutlet" breast-enhancement falsies for most of the female cast. Hartman was murdered by his unstable wife, who shortly thereafter committed suicide; Dave Foley was having endless hassles with his wife, then ex-wife, that were sometimes nearly as severe; Maura Tierney, albeit much later, would face breast cancer (and oddly enough had to pass on her role in the NBC series Parenthood eventually to Lauren Graham, who was all but forced on Newsradio by NBC bosses for a [quite good] multi-episode "arc"); Andy Dick was coping poorly with alcoholism during the series; among the actors playing other recurring characters, John Ritter also suffered a sudden death. Of course, other regulars, guests and recurring folks have had very little public tragedy in their lives, but the percentage of NewsRadio folks stricken seems, one is tempted to write unjustly, high.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chumbawamba: ENGLISH REBEL SONGS 1381-1914

Perhaps my favorite of the albums of Chumbawamba, the anarchist punk (and occasionally disco, and here folkie) band that briefly rode the US charts with their lighthearted, if metaphorical, soccer-fan song "Tubthumping," unless my favorite is their concert album/retrospective of their own work from just before the hit album, Entertainment!, which was issued as a double-album with a speech by Noam Chomsky (and includes a great version of this song, which by the way doesn't say "Can't hear..." but "Can't eat..."...or so I thought, since it makes more sense). They weren't kidding about their anarchism. Though middle-aged teen favorite melodic punk band Bad Religion were perhaps the first to issue a "split" record with Chomsky.

Friday, March 11, 2011

FFB: F&SF: 30TH ANNIVERSARY edited by Edward Ferman (1979); BOUCHER'S CHOICEST, edited by Jeanne F. Bernkopf from Anthony Boucher's selections (1969)

From ISFDb (and I'm cheating here, listing the slightly fuller contents of the October, 1979 issue, rather than the subsequent Doubleday hardcover, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction: A 30 Year Retrospective, that failed to reprint the columns by Budrys, Searles and Asimov, nor Heinlein's short story, nor all of the Wilson cartoons), though it adds a brief Asimov introduction to go with Ferman's:

* 8 • In This Issue (F&SF, October 1979) • essay by Edward L. Ferman
* 12 • Fondly Fahrenheit • (1954) • novelette by Alfred Bester
* 30 • Books (F&SF, October 1979) • [Books (F&SF)] • essay by Algis Budrys
* 32 •   Review: The Pleasure Tube by Robert Onopa • review by Algis Budrys
* 34 •   Review: Stardance by Jeanne Robinson and Spider Robinson • review by Algis Budrys
* 40 • And Now the News . . . • (1956) • novelette by Theodore Sturgeon
* 60 • Not With a Bang • (1950) • shortstory by Damon Knight
* 65 • Flowers for Algernon • (1959) • novelette by Daniel Keyes
* 89 • Cartoon: no caption • (1974) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 89 • Cartoon Portfolio (F&SF, October 1979) • essay by Gahan Wilson
* 90 • Cartoon: "This is Willy, and this is Willy's imaginary playmate." • (1965) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 91 • Cartoon: "You can tell she's thinking it over!" • (1967) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 92 • Cartoon: "Well, I guess that pretty well takes care of my anemia diagnosis." • (1968) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 93 • Cartoon: "Best damn special effects man in the business!" • (1970) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 94 • Cartoon: "I don't like the looks of that, at all!" • (1970) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 95 • Cartoon: "I suppose the least we can do is name the damned thing after poor Dembar." • (1971) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 96 • Cartoon: no caption • (1970) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 98 • A Canticle for Leibowitz • [Saint Leibowitz] • (1955) • novelette by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
* 116 • Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot • [Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot • 1] • (1956) • shortstory by Reginald Bretnor [as by Grendel Briarton ]
* 117 • One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts • (1955) • shortstory by Shirley Jackson
* 125 • Imaginary Numbers in a Real Garden • (1965) • poem by Gerald Jonas
* 126 • The Women Men Don't See • (1973) • novelette by James Tiptree, Jr.
* 149 • Dance Music for a Gone Planet • (1968) • poem by Sonya Dorman
* 150 • Born of Man and Woman • (1950) • shortstory by Richard Matheson
* 153 • "All You Zombies . . ." • (1959) • shortstory by Robert A. Heinlein
* 163 • Love Letter from Mars • (1965) • poem by John Ciardi
* 164 • Jeffty Is Five • (1977) • shortstory by Harlan Ellison
* 181 • Ararat • [The People] • (1952) • novelette by Zenna Henderson
* 201 • Sundance • (1969) • shortstory by Robert Silverberg
* 214 • The Gnurrs Come from the Voodvork Out • [Schimmelhorn] • (1950) • shortstory by Reginald Bretnor [as by R. Bretnor ]
* 226 • Films: Egg Foo Alien • [Films (F&SF)] • essay by Baird Searles
* 229 • Dreaming Is a Private Thing • (1955) • shortstory by Isaac Asimov
* 242 • Poor Little Warrior! • (1958) • shortstory by Brian W. Aldiss
* 248 • We Can Remember It for You Wholesale • (1966) • novelette by Philip K. Dick
* 266 • Selectra Six-Ten • (1970) • shortstory by Avram Davidson
* 273 • Just Thirty Years • [Asimov's Essays: F&SF] • essay by Isaac Asimov
* 284 • Problems of Creativeness • (1967) • shortstory by Thomas M. Disch
* 302 • Me • (1959) • poem by Hilbert Schenck
* 303 • The Quest for Saint Aquin • (1951) • novelette by Anthony Boucher

From WorldCat:

Boucher's Choicest; a collection of Anthony Boucher's favorites from Best Detective Stories of the Year, selected by Jeanne F. Bernkopf; Introduction by Allen J. Hubin (Dutton, 1969)

Table of Contents
H as in homicide, by Lawrence Treat.
Justice, inc., by Rog Phillips.
The adventure of the double-bogey man, by Robert L. Fish.
File 1: the Mayfield case, by Joe Gores.
A humanist, by Romain Gary.
A case for the U.N., by Miriam Allen deFord.
A soliloquy in tongues, by William Wiser.
I will please come to order, by William North Jayme.
His brother's keeper, by James McKimmey.
The opposite number, by Jacob Hay.
The right man for the right job, by J. C. Thompson.
The adventure of Abraham Lincoln's clue, by Ellery Queen.
The chosen one, by Rhys Davies.
The adventure of the red leech, by August Derleth.
The two kings and the two labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges.
Papa Tral's harvest, by Barry Perowne.
Good man, bad man, by Jerome Weidman.
The Stollmeyer sonnets, by James Powell.
The Dr. Sherrock commission, by Frank McAuliffe.
The oblong room, by Edward D. Hoch.
The peppermint-striped goodby, by Ron Goulart.
The gracious, pleasant life of Mrs. Afton, by Patricia Highsmith.
By child undone, by Jack Ritchie.
The possibility of evil, by Shirley Jackson.

Two anthologies that are both at least in part retrospective tributes to Anthony Boucher, cofounder of F&SF, and later editor of six volumes in the long-running crime-fiction annual, up till the time of his death...Allen Hubin took over at that point.

Edward Ferman, by 1979 both editor and publisher of F&SF for some years, polled his lifetime subscribers for input as to which of the stories from F&SF's past deserved most to be reprinted in the first all-reprint fiction and poetry issue of the magazine, and the subsequent book version...and while the voters couldn't settle on a single work by Fritz Leiber, Robert Bloch, Joanna Russ nor Manly Wade Wellman (thereby all but invalidating the process), they were able to provide the above list of favored work from the magazine's rich history...and Ferman only overruled them once, as far as I know, by substituting the very personal story "Selectra Six-Ten" for "The Golem," one of the most famous but perhaps somewhat less distinctive of the stories of Avram Davidson, the previous F&SF editor and with whom Ferman had worked as assistant editor. Boucher had been founding co-editor from 1949 (and earlier) to 1954, and continued to edit the magazine alone for several more years before turning it over to Robert P. Mills, aided by C.M. Kornbluth, for several more (though Kornbluth's premature death kept his tenure short).

Truly a brilliant assemblage, even with the missing-writer caveats. Richard Matheson's first story, and the first by Damon Knight to get much attention, are both eminently memorable, but slight in the company they keep here (or when compared to some of their other stories to appear later). Daniel Keyes's "Flowers for Algernon" is almost impossible not to include (even if one wanted to exclude it), and Boucher's own "The Quest for Saint Aquin" is the only story originally published elsewhere. Meanwhile, Algis Budrys reviews Robert Onopa's The Pleasure Tube , which I keep meaning to dig back out for FFB, but I definitely need to reread it...both men would have a major effect on my writing, Onopa as my first writing professor.

Meanwhile, Dutton editor Jeanne F. Bernkopf looks back through the BOTY volumes Boucher edited for her list, and recalls the stories he either did or at least seemed to enjoy most, and reprints Boucher's headnotes in their reprinting here...not only an excellent compilation and probably a pretty fair representation of what the already late Boucher would've culled for his own Best of the BESTs, but also notable for how many of these writers were still doing notable work a decade later, when I was catching their new stories in the magazines and elsewhere. Allen Hubin, who would inherit the editorial post for a handful of years, turning the series over to Edward Hoch for the longest reign the annual would see (through title-change and a new publisher), puts Boucher in context in his brief introduction, and the stories, heavily running to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine stories with a few other sources (Hoch's own brilliant "The Oblong Room" comes from The Saint Magazine), speak very entertainingly for themselves.

At least two more tribute anthologies were produced just after Boucher's death, the crime-fictional Crimes and Misfortunes and the fantasticated Special Wonder, and even they, fine anthologies both, are not better than these selections from Boucher's
own considered acceptances (and those of his partner and heirs, in the first book/issue). If you don't have these volumes...I suspect you can see you might need them, and you will suffer no pain in reading them.

For more of Friday's Forgotten Books, please see Patti Abbott's blog...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Newer Links: Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: 8 March 2011

Jerry notes they didn't name the day for her...

Today's participants (so far) include:
Bill Crider: The Good Humor Man
Brian Arnold: Thursday's Game
Chuck Esola: The Great Silence
Eric Peterson: Pyrates

Evan Lewis: The Adventures of Jim Bowie
George Kelley: Collapse
James Reasoner: Hearts of the West
Jerry House: Mardi Gras a/v (and Tuesday Weld, in contradistinction)

Juri Nummelin: Pirates in the 20th Century

Randy Johnson: Fort Defiance

Scott Cupp: Eegah!
and Donovan's Brain
from Steve Lewis's Mystery*File: Geoff Bradley: Maigret (UK); Dan Stumpf: Home at Seven (aka Murder on Monday)
Todd Mason: Relativity; Universe; Danger Man episode "It's Up to the Lady"

***and a special note, since this week's lineup on the archived The Big Broadcast, the umbrella for vintage radio drama and variety broadcast Sunday nights on WAMU-FM, Washington DC, was so laden with crime drama and related items (including some relatively rare stuff, and the minor exception of a decent Bob Hope Pepsodent show), it's worth noting here, as well...the playlist:
March 6
07:00 p.m. Johnny Dollar
06/07/59 #642 Wayward Heiress Matter (CBS) (18:20)
07:30 p.m. Dragnet
07/05/55 #307 Big Rush (AFRS) (23:28)
08:00 p.m. Gunsmoke
07/05/52 #011 Never Pester Chester (Sus.) (CBS) (29:42)
08:30 p.m. Bob Hope
03/07/39 w/Judy Garland (Pepsodent) (NBC) (29:54)
09:00 p.m. Michael Shayne
07/22/48 #02 Case of the Hunted Bride (Synd) (26:50)
09:30 p.m. Rogers of the Gazette
07/08/53 Newspaper is Being Taken Over (Sus.) (CBS) (28:50)
10:00 p.m. Deadline Mystery
08/10/47 A Boy Asks for Help (Knotts) (ABC) (29:18)
10:00 p.m. San Francisco Final
07/26/54 Chinatown (audition show [radio version of a pilot episode]) (27:28)
--with this last virulently anti-Communist enough for anyone put off by the Soviet martial arts/espionage film...

Thanks to everyone who has participated so far today, and there might be a few others before the day is out (if I've overlooked a link, including yours, please let me know...and if you'd like to jump in, please also let me know!)

Tuesday's Overlooked Film and Video: RELATIVITY (1996-97), UNIVERSE (1960), and "It's Up to the Lady" (DANGER MAN, 1964)

Relativity (1996-97) is the Great Lost Herskovitz and Zwick series...following thirtysomething and My So-Called Life and preceding Once and Again and quarterlife (all but the last, originally a web-based, series produced for ABC-TV broadcast). Each ABC series was, by me, better than the last, but Relativity, about two twenty-somethings who meet in Europe and discover that they live in the same US city, and their enmeshed lives with their extended families (hence the series title), hasn't achieved either the initial popular success on broadcast of thirtysomething nor O&A, nor the cult status of So-Called; while it wasn't as brilliant as Once would become at its frequent best, it was certainly a memorably good series that deserves all the pleas for home video release currently stacked up at and elsewhere...and had an impressive cast along with the typically serio-comic approach of Zwick and Herskovitz series...or such other work as the recent Zwick-directed film Love and Other Drugs. Since their first pilot for CBS, A Wedding, wasn't picked up, and quarterlife had a rather disastrous run on NBC and Bravo (where its promotion and placement were utterly bungled), we will simply, I guess, wait for the official streaming video to follow the three episodes (oddly enough, the last three) currently up on YouTube (likewise for the third and final season of O&A).

Universe, the elegant 1960 astronomical documentary, with major strides forward in realistic animation (even if, almost sadly, all in black and white) juxtaposed with some nice slice of 1960 life in Canada footage...and, unsurprisingly, based largely on now-outdated planetary and stellar astronomy (the suggestion that the observed color shifts on the surface of Mars as the likely result of vegetation was already on the Very optimistic edge of speculation by 1960). The National Film Board of Canada is very proud to note that this film helped inspire 2001, among others, and it's probably one of the most famous of all cosmological documentaries...along with the later, briefer, slightly more wide-ranging (literally) Powers of Ten. (And I do hope that everyone reading this is aware that along with such archives as YouTube and competitors,, and (of course) Hulu, there are impressive smaller caches of film and video, one of the most impressive being the National Film Board's site.)

I've recently picked up the complete series set of Danger Man (known in the US as Secret Agent for its hourlong episodes), and the first episode I made a point of seeing again, for the first time in years, was "It's Up to the Lady"...of all the Danger Mans, even the one set in the training village for spies, I'd suggest this one is one of the key working models/run-ups to The Prisoner, where an excessively credulous Drake is pulled off vacation and has to do what he can to convince the wife (Sylvia Sims) of a defecting British Foreign Office China expert to convince him not to go through with the exile in China...well, it still works down the line, very much including the threadbare accommodations both the British and Albanian (as agents for the PRC) sides are willing to offer.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Newly rec'd these last several days:
*"Vin Packer" (Marijane Meaker): Something in the Shadows/Intimate Victims and Whisper His Sin/The Evil Friendship (Stark House)...I wonder if "Anne Perry" and "Packer" have ever conversed over that last, like the film Heavenly Creatures based on the adolescent crime "Perry"/Hulme was involved in.
*Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Jon Breen is going semiannual with his column. Alas, but thirty years of monthly, or nearly monthly, columns is a lot to keep asking for more on top of...
*Fantasy & Science Fiction. Interesting Lucius Shepard take on the film Monsters

*T.V. Olsen: The Stalking Moon. The Leisure edition.
*Michael Chabon: Gentlemen of the Road. Or, "Jews with Swords" as Chabon would've had it, he notes. Managed not pick up either of these two before, and am amused the Chabon was published under the Del Rey Books imprint.

*Asimov's Science is getting to be increasingly difficult to find new issues of the fiction magazines in the big box stores, my usual source for them...I haven't been able to pick up the new issue of The Strand or Cemetery Dance or Conjunctions for a bit, for example...
*Cinema Retro. But picking up a few odd items where and when I can...

From the mailbox:
*Harper's has a rather good short story from Daniel Mason, no relation, and another opportunity for William Vollmann to make an ass of himself, even though his cover essay's subject, the homeless in his affluent California city, is an important one which doesn't lend itself to masturbatory self-celebration...which hasn't ever stopped him before.

*Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, the humor issue
*Esquire, the typically trivial issue (though I suppose one can appreciate, for example, cheesecake photos of Sarah Shahi...among others...though not in this issue...)
*Sight and Sound, the attempt to defend auteurism issue (which is why the feature articles in the magazine tend to be weak, of course)

Books strongly considered: the newish Vonnegut collection of short stories; the newest two Joyce Carol Oates collections and her widowhood memoir; Peter Beagle's anthology The Hidden History of Fantasy.

In the secondhand store: a few annuals (O. Henry and Best American Short Stories), a couple of recent issues of The Gettysburg Review, a book club edition of Mazzeo's Hauntings, an Anthony Boucher anthology, a Peter De Vries novel. Spoiling myself, as with finally buying the cd of this:

The Brubeck Quartet album that Joe Morello told me he thought was their best recording, At Carnegie Hall.

Friday, March 4, 2011

FFB: THE COMPLEAT OVA HAMLET by Richard Lupoff (as illustrated by Trina Robbins and introduced by Philip Klass aka William Tenn) among others...

It's 1977, and my friend Steven Durost has just flashed a copy of a magazine called Fantastic that he found in the Londonderry Junior High library...the June 1971 issue, no less (six years seemed very long before at the time), with a cover devoted to Poul Anderson's The Byworlder (editor Ted White always liked to keep things a bit mixed up, so the straightforward sf of the Anderson was in Fantastic while the borderline surreal fantasy of Ursula Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven was being serialized simultaneously in the sibling Amazing Science Fiction). I knew I had to read that, and that my father might want to check it out, as well...since it had one of the few unreprinted Larry Niven short stories in it, a collaboration with Hank (later Jean Marie) Stine called "No Exit," as Niven had with his 1960s and early '70s work temporarily dislodged Arthur C. Clarke as my father's favorite writer. Generally, it looked cool.
The librarian was happy to let me have the 1971 Galaxy, Worlds of If, and F&SF issues that someone, presumably a teacher, had left in the library sometime over those years, and not actually added to the collection nor apparently disturbed till Steve plucked the Fantastic (he liked the Fantastic Adventures pulp reprint in the issue the best, Festus Pragnell's "War of Human Cats"...well, it was strange and endearingly goofy), and Steve let me know when he was returning the Fantastic, and it was passed onto me for good as well.

And it was a fine issue of Fantastic, as it turned out...clever horror or surreal fantasy by Richard Peck, Ed Bryant (both at the beginning of their careers), and this odd, hilarious parody, "War of the Doom Zombies," attributed to an eccentric old woman supposedly named Ova Hamlet, who worked through her obvious alter ego, one Richard Lupoff (whom I knew as a contributor of a short novel to the clangorous anthology Again, Dangerous Visions). Fantastic would make much hay with Conan pastiches over the rest of the '70s, though entirely too many of them were by Lin Carter (or Carter in collaboration with L. Sprague de Camp, ready to begin his years-long argument with Robert Howard's supporters with his first essay on Howard and the first of his biographical and critical essay series "Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers," which would also run for years in the magazine)...but this "Hamlet" evisceration was far more savage than any of the Cimmerian's attacks on a foe. I dug it, to say the least. And while most of the Lupoff I would stumble across in new publications and the random back issues I would find were in other modes (I found his "Lupoff's Book Week" column in Algol/Starship particularly enjoyable, along with the fiction, the critical/historical nonfiction, and the odd anthology), I was always very happy to find a Fantastic back issue with a Hamlet story, and was bitterly disappointed that the shakeup at Fantastic and Amazing delayed indefinitely (it seemed) the publication of the promised "Two Sort-of Adventurers," taking on Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser (the next-most-famous characters in sword & sorcery fiction, really, after Conan, and great favorites of mine). I (barely) caught word of the 1979 publication of the first edition of this collection, but didn't take sufficient initiative to seek it out specifically via mail-order (since in the southern New Hampshire/Boston and then the Honolulu suburbs, I had no walk-in access to true specialty shops in '79 and '80)...but it's taken me only four years to rectify this oversight with the 2007 expanded and revised Ramble House edition.
Phil Klass's introduction is unsurprisingly urbane, and adept in delineating the differences between parody, which requites capturing the flavor and rhythm of the work being critiqued, and burlesque and similar modes, which can simply mock. Trina Robbins, like Lupoff an important figure in comics as well as sf/fantasy prose and fannish circles, provides charming caricatures to go with most of the items here (including at least one new to this edition), though I miss the (Jeff Jones? Joe Staton? I don't have a copy of the issue at hand) illo from "Doom Zombies"'s original appearance. [Late bulletin: ISFDb informs us it was Bill Graham.]

The parodies are detailed (not quite completely) on the back cover:
J. G. Ballard: "In the Kitchen" (within the context of a parody of Judith Merril, as crusading editor of England Swings SF, here given as Isle of Man Swings SF)
Norman Spinrad: "Music in the Air"
Harlan Ellison: "Battered Like a Brass Bippy"
Robert E. Howard: "War of the Doom Zombies"
H. P. Lovecraft: "The Horror South of Red Hook"
Philip K. Dick: "Agony and Remorse on Rhesus IX"
Barry Malzberg: "Grebzlam's Game"
L. Ron Hubbard: "Young Nurse Nebuchadnezzer" (one of the items I'd read in another Fantastic back-issue, long before I'd ever seen an example of the "Old Doc Methuselah" least I'd seen Conan books and comics before the Howard story!)
Kurt Vonnegut: "The Wedding of Ova Hamlet"
Philip Jose Farmer: "God of the Naked Unicorn"
"John Norman": "Nosepickers of Dawr"
Fritz Leiber: "Two Sort-of Adventurers" (it was eventually published by White successor Elinor Mavor)
Stephen King: "Phannie"
and Mickey Spillane: "Death in the Ditch"

It's a great mix of nostalgia and newfound pleasure to have these all together, and note how few missteps Lupoff, one of our sharper observers at any given time, takes.
This book is not out of print, but Ramble House, and Lupoff, deserve your support in the offer of this fine, even necessary volume (I've been lucky enough to meet both the late Phil Klass and the happily still-writing Lupoff on a couple of occasions each, as well as host a scrap of Dick's writing here a few weeks back. If you find yourself moving on from this to Lupoff's more straightforwardly satirical or even utterly more straightforward work, all to the good...old fans of Ova will need to read Blodwyn Blenheim's account of Hamlet's recent course through life...and you get a photo of Hamlet, or just maybe Lupoff, as an infant in 1938 on the back cover, to boot...).

The Google Books "preview" and the Ramble House and Lulu pages.

For more of today's "forgotten" books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.