Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday Music Club: some cures for 1960s pop nostalgia (or are they a maintenance dose?)....

Joi Lansing: "The Silencer"

One of the least successful attempts at musical seduction I've encountered. Nonetheless, the Peter Lupus-looking guy (possibly Lupus himself) is certainly smitten.

Jody Miller: "The Race is On" 

Her voice is OK, the dancers are a kind of pretty and energetic, but, well...let's note the arrangement, the choreography, and Everything else...

Pop Gear:
Featuring a repugnant host...but even if Jimmy Savile hadn't been so convincingly and widely accused of sexual impropriety with a number of teens, he would be offputting enough as utterly unfunny interlocutor...

The Monks: "Cuckoo"
My default choice for the most inane of this '60s protopunk band's recordings.

The Turtles: "You, Baby"

I've liked the Turtles all my life, but I doubt anyone would every have cited them as the most telegenic band of the '60s. Nonetheless, the staging of this one, with shots through a not overly clean small aquarium and surrounding the band with women awkwardly posing in diving gear (nothing in the song is about the ocean at all, though they had been a surf-rock band originally) is indicative of a more simpleminded time in pop entertainment. This 1968 Mike Douglas Show segment is a bit less weirdly antiprofessional, if also weirdly poorly staged and conceived, but does feature two of their biggest hits, a chat and a proto-video for "She's My Girl"...

Adam West, as Batman, hosting The Hollywood Palace (and singing "Orange Colored Sky" almost well just for starters), 1966

Link opens with color bars and (loud) tone (sorry for that) before a typically bored slate/editor's announcement...the episode begins 47 seconds in. A laugh track on a theater show. Goodness.
- Adam West sings "The Orange Colored Sky" & "The Summer Wind"
- Ray Charles with the Rayettes: "Crying Time", "Tell the World About You" & "Alexander's Ragtime Band."
- Roy Rogers and Dale Evans
- Joey Heatherton (singer-dancer): "By Myself"
- George Carlin (comedian): does a monologue about the American Indian
- Fred Roby (ventriloquist)
- Danny Sailor (high-pole performer)
- Landon's Midgets (slapstick comedians)

And, the nearly talent-free Freddie Garraty demonstrates his moves for Annette and Frankie, to the Freddie and the Dreamers track, "I'm Telling You Now" 

At least you don't have to look at the Dreamers closely. They make the Turtles or the Monks look like models. Peter Noone interviewing Gerry Marsden and Freddie Garraty, with clips from other "invasion" bands...

And...the first ladling of musical lard from my default choice for
worst popular rock band, so far, Mountain, 1969.
(Though the early Bee Gees recorded the worst rock song
 of the end of the decade...)

Friday, March 28, 2014

FFB Redux: LIVING IN FEAR: A HISTORY OF HORROR IN THE MASS MEDIA by Les Daniels (Scribner's, 1975)

from a 1995 interview with Daniels for Tabula Rasa:

Kyla Ward for TR: Just touching on the other non-fiction book, Fear--

Les Daniels: AKA Living in Fear--

TR: "A History of Horror in the Mass Media."

LD: This followed the first book on comics [Comix, 1971], and once again was based on the fact this was something I was interested in. In a way it's dated and superceded now, there were fairly few books even on horror films back then; but what makes it more unique now is that in addition to discussing most of the significant English-language horror films made up till that time, it also tried to deal with the literature, going back to the Gothic novel and so on. I tried to cover so much ground that there's usually only a couple of sentences about anything that I mentioned, and so much written since that in a way it's superficial.

TR: And it also includes certain stories --

LD: It's partially an anthology.

TR: -- you printed Arthur Machen's "The Novel of the White Powder." Thank you.

LD: Well, it's important to me. At that period, I think the concept of the tradition and what had gone before was almost the basis of horror and was of interest to horror writers and people who made horror films; there has been a tremendous leap, it was almost as though I wrote that book at the appropriate time, because since then there has been a big jump in horror in terms of its wide promulgation and acceptance, and at the same time there has been a tremendous difference in the content.

Living in Fear was the first book about (as well as in small part collecting) horror that I encountered, and as a survey it was an excellent indicator that there was a wide world of material awaiting me of which I had only picked up on a small segment so far...albeit with the anthologies and comics I was reading and the Thriller television series playing in repeats locally in Connecticut (even as repeats of the first The Outer Limits series had brightened noirishly my Saturday afternoons in the Boston suburbs a few years before), and the infrequent good films I could see in theaters (tv averaged better, even with all the damned commercials and the cuts in some of the films, at least as often for more commercials...the rare horror film on the PBS stations were a particular treat), I was already aware of quite a range of work.

Daniels, an independent scholar with a continuing love for horror (and a novelist, beginning in the next decade), didn't produce an impeccably researched book, and even I as a ten year old could spot an error or two (he referred to Gene Roddenberry's nonexistent work on The Outer Limits, for example), but the stories recounted and described (of the development of horror as a field of literature and in related media) and the actual fiction collected in the coffee-table book were often excellent, as well as excellent nudges. As an anthology, others were more important to me, but as a key to the highway...
Richard Bleiler holding his anthology.

Certainly Stephen King's Danse Macabre and others which followed Living in Fear never would have such an impact for me, even when written by such well-informed and reflective artists as Ransey Campbell...even now, very few have attempted to match the scope of this one. (Though, for example, E. F. Bleiler's works, among them the first edition of Supernatural Fiction Writers, are always worth the look...even if a look in son Richard Bleiler's 2002 second edition of that compendium, also a Scribner's book coincidentally, would provide one with, among better and worse contributions, an example of my own bit of survey, on Joyce Carol Oates and, in passing, Kate Wilhelm.)

Please see Patti Abbott's blog for further Friday books citations.

And this 2009 entry drew the following comments:


K. A. Laity said...
Somehow I always picture Les in his bathrobe as he "fights" in That Damned Game Show trivia-off at Necon regardless of the situation. Interesting interview. I have this book as well. It did come out at an interesting moment in horror film making. Haven't looked at it in years!
pattinase (abbott) said...
Oh, my gosh, the Outer Limits. I did love that show.
Evan Lewis said...
Wish I'd latched onto this back in '75.
Todd Mason said... of the best ever, THE LAST WAVE, was just starting production as I was reading the book, and I just caught most of it again this morning as I meant to be getting ready for work. But the book's value is that it ranges from Walpole to Alice Cooper, EC Comics to THRILLER (the television anthology series with Boris Karloff, not the later Jackson album and its title song and video, nor even the '70s British series), and I believe it was the first book, certainly the first trade book, to range quite like that.

Patti--given your antipathy for tv horror, I'm surprised you dug the borderline horror/sf of most of THE OUTER LIMITS...or did the fateful incident with that TWILIGHT ZONE episode happen later than the first run of TOL?

Evan--I was certainly glad to see it.
George said...
Some consider THE DEMON WITH THE GLASS HAND written by Harlan Ellison to be the best episode of the original OUTER LIMITS.
Todd Mason said...
Some do; I think Ellison might be as proud of it as any of his other scripting. I think "Nightmare" is better (it was rather badly botched [in remake] by the new OUTER LIMITS series). Considering what an ass I consider the writer of that episode (and coproducer of the series) Joseph Stefano (who attempted to claim all the credit for PSYCHO the script and minimize what he drew from Robert Bloch's novel, an effort that Gus Van Sant attempted to aid him in though Hitchcock slapped him down over it), that's saying something.
Todd Mason said...
And, yes, I do know how to spell series, oddly enough...and Bloch slapped him down even harder, when Stefano attempted to claim complete credit in a professional venue, leading to Stefano funding an ad in which Robert Bloch, "the only author of the novel PSYCHO," congratulated Stefano for his adaptation.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March Underappreciated Music: the links (wake up, Rod Stewart has something to say to you...edition)

The monthly assembly of undervalued and often nearly "lost" music, or simply music the blogger in question wants to remind you reader/listeners of....

Patti Abbott: Tuesday Night Music; Saturday Night MusicOpening Credits and Theme Songs; Overemployed songs in pop culture

Sean Coleman: Rod Stewart: An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down (aka The Rod Stewart Album)

Bill Crider: If You Dare...; Song of the Day

Jeff Gemmill: Sandy Denny: Listen, Listen

Jerry House: Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee; "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" featuring a Crockett great great granddaughter...; Judy Henske: "High-Flying Bird";  Antti Martikainen: Land of Eternal Winter;  Hymn Time 

George Kelley: Rod Stewart: Live 1975-1998: Tonight's the Night

Des/D. F. Lewis and Andy Linkner: Michael Finnissy: The History of Photography in Sound  performed by Ian Pace

The timing above is not in error. Linkner: I'm a huge Finnissy fan and am enthralled by these massive piano works.  There are two reviews up at, one pro and one con [I found another pro, only, so far].  I'm definitely on the pro side.

Kate Laity: Patti Smith: "Fire of Unknown Origin"

Evan Lewis: Annie Oakley [Traffic] Safety Songs (with the Sandpipers and Mitch Miller's Orchestra)

Todd Mason: Saturday Music Club: There's Always Room for Some 3rd Stream Music; Some Old Favorites on International Women's Day; 3rd Stream Music into Chamber Music

Lawrence Person: Shoegazer Sunday

Charlie Ricci: Larry Kirwan: Kilroy Was Here; Dan Fogelberg: High Mountain Snows

Nancy Ryan: Underappreciated Music (and a little more) 

Ron Scheer: Music as therapy, at least a supplement...

Jeff Segal: Warpaint
Jeff notes: [Actor/drummer/singer] Shannyn Sossamon had been part of band at one time [co-founder]. Her sister is still with them, I think [she is]. The friend who saw them live said that they are as good on stage as on cd. New to me. Pleasant, ethereal/new age female-oriented.  

The Byrds: "You Showed Me" (demos)

Uptempo version with more instruments in the mix.

The Turtles: "You Showed Me"

Salt-N-Pepa: "You Showed Me"

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

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

I Married a Witch
Below, the links to this week's reviews and citations; we're definitely starting to see some frequent fliers here, such as The Far Country, I Married a Witch, and ...Adele Blanc-Sec being discovered and rediscovered independently by various reviewers...I suspect the crowd-sourcing here might be a hint or even an assurance of some quality. As always, please let me know in comments when I've missed yours or someone else's...and, as always, thanks to all our contributors and to you readers...

Bill Crider: I Married a Witch [trailer]

B V Lawson: Media Murder

Dan Stumpf: The Way to the Gold

Ed Lynskey: Trapped

Elizabeth Foxwell: This I Believe: "Robert A. Heinlein: Our Noble, Essential Decency"

Evan Lewis: Superman (1948 serial)

George Kelley: Bad Girls of Film Noir (V. 1): The Killer That Stalked New York, Two of a Kind, Bad for Each Other, and The Glass Wall

How Did This Get Made?: No Holds Barred

Iba Dawson: A Decade Under the Influence; Belle

Irv Slifkin: John Flynn

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: A Starz cross-section; Gunsmoke: "The Jailer" (tv)

Jack Seabrook: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "Coming Home" (Henry Slesar)

Jackie Kashian: John Roy
John Roy and James Adomian's Maron in Space (some "Mark Maron" lines probably NSFW)

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Wagon Train: "The Clementine Jones Story" (and other Ann Blyth television work)

Jake Hinkson: Wendell Corey

James Reasoner: Down Home

Jerry House: The Mad Monster; Son of Inagi; Colonel March of Scotland Yard: "Error at Daybreak"

John Charles: The Prowler (aka Rosemary's Killer)

John Grant: The Evidence of the Film

Juri Nummelin: Private Hell 36

Kliph Nesteroff: The Kraft Music Hall: "George Kirby" (1963)

Laura: The Far Country; Ivy; Too Late for Tears

Lucy Brown: The Bride Walks Out; Death in Paradise (season four)

Martin Edwards: Inspector De Luca

Crystal Fairy
Marty McKee: Give My Regards to Broad Street

Mystery Dave: Cheats (aka Cheaters)

Patti Abbott: Crystal Fairy (aka Crystal Fairy &The Magical Cactus and 2012)

Philip Schweier: films from Ed McBain novels: Cop Hater; The Mugger

Pop My Culture: Sarah Burns 

Prashant Trikannad: Miniscule

Rick: Errol Flynn Theatre; Five Actors

Rod Lott: Terror in the Haunted House; Blood Freak

Ron Scheer: The Wonderful Country

Sergio Angelini: Mr. Arkadin; Blood Relatives

Stacia Jones: Roadblock

Stephen Bowie: Playhouse 90: "Alas, Babylon"

Steve Lewis: My Favorite Spy

Vince Keenan: Sorcerer; Stranger by the Lake

Yvette Banek: Les Adventures Extraordinaires d'Adele Blanc-Sec
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Saturday Music Club: there's always room for some 3rd Stream Music:

Charles Mingus Band: "Minor Intrusion"

Toshiko Akiyoshi: "The Village"

Susana Raya: "The Wind"

The Modern Jazz Quartet: "Plastic Dreams"

from the 1971 album; John Lewis on harpsichord

Brubeck Quartet: "Unisphere"

Dave Brubeck (p), Paul Desmond (as), Eugene Wright (b), Joe Morello (d); Helsinki, October 6, 1964.

Bob Prince and His Orchestra: "Germination"

Paul Bley: "Ida Lupino"

Teo Macero and His Orchestra: "T.C.'s Groove"

George Russell Smalltet: "Ezz-thetic"

George Russell (bandleader/composer), Barry Galbraith (guitar), Bill Evans (piano), Art Farmer (trumpet), Hal McKusick (bass clarinet), Milt Hinton (bass), and Joe Harris (drums).

Hamilton Quintet: "In a Sentimental Mood"

Eric Dolphy (alto sax); Nate Gershman (cello); John Pisano (guitar); Hal Gaylor (bass); Chico Hamilton (drums)

Friday, March 21, 2014


Cover images mostly courtesy of Galactic Central

On March 24 of last year, I began this post thus:
Michael Shayne Mystery Magazine (which quickly grew less formal and became Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine) was the first and last magazine of what turned out to be Leo Margulies's most sustained publishing venture, Renown Publications. 

--And there was a crucial mistake...for while I think (and hope to be told if not so) I did gather all the other Renown magazines and annuals for at least citation below, I'd crucially forgotten one item which Margulies had purchased along with the rights to Weird Tales...those to its more recently folded eventual stablemate, Short Stories (Dorothy McIlwraith had edited both titles over their last decade at what became Short Stories, Inc.).  

The first new Margulies issue was not too handsome, if promising (September 1956, same cover-date as the first Michael Shane Mystery Magazine)

--and even has a Salvatore Lombino/Ed McBain/Evan Hunter story by "Hunt Collins" within...

Margulies soon had illustrations back on the covers:

 ...but that didn't help sufficiently, and the Margulies Short Stories folded with the August 1959 issue, by then promising "true adventures" mixed with the fiction, which in this last issue included a Theodore Sturgeon reprint from Weird Tales and a new story by Elmore Leonard...

(And now we return you to the post as it was last year at this time...)
As did Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, it began life in 1956, when there was no lack of crime-fiction digest-sized magazines on the newsstands, in the wake of the still remarkably successful Manhunt and its offshoots and imitators--MSMM was somewhat one of Manhunt's imitators, if less ultra-hardboiled to the point of nihilism--and the steadfast and popular Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (The Saint Detective Magazine, a property that Margulies had sold his interest in to his publishing partner at King-Size Publications not long before, and its stablemate, the fantasy and sf magazine Fantastic Universe, were more or less imitations of the Mercury Press titles EQMM and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, though with their own flavor).  

Richard Moore on reading, and writing for, MSMM.
James Reasoner on writing Shayne; the Reasoner and Livia Washburn Shayne novelets.
The first issue, 1956.
A good cover...pity about the photo.

My first issue, May 1978
The last of three annual issues of a companion title.
Not long after the the sale of MSMM to the Goldsteins

Renown published the first revival of WT, 4 issues, 1973-74
Reprinting Bloch's WT story seems odd in 
context...but perhaps a portent...
Two All-American agents? 
Soviet spy, Brit actor, Brit edition, no less...
A surprisingly quick mid-'60s failure.  9 issues.

They had no Stephanie Powers photos on hand
while doing covers for the short-lived spin-off.
The first issue, 1956...Ms. "Craig Rice" didn't write much sf...

Despite MSMM being the consistent lynchpin of Renown during its existence, Margulies (and his wife, frequent editor and briefly publisher Cylvia Kleinman), had started again in 1956 with both a crime-fiction and an sf title, in this case Satellite Science Fiction, which revived a policy of a novel in each issue that worked pretty well for Startling Stories, eventually the most popular of the sf pulps and the last fiction magazine to fold in the Thrilling Group, where Margulies had worked in the 1930s and '40s...the first issue featured the (sadly least good) Algis Budrys novel, in book form as Man of Earth. But Satellite was unable to find a niche as easily as Shayne, and barely made it into its fourth year.

However, that didn't daunt the Margulieses from trying again in 1966, first with a licensed magazine devoted to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. television series, which ran for two years (the short-lived Girl [sic] from U.N.C.L.E. series inspired a correspondingly short-run magazine), and the surprisingly unsuccessful Shell Scott Mystery Magazine (where Scott creator Richard Prather had never been too enthusiastic about the project). 

Zane Grey Western Magazine had been a solid and fondly-remembered property for Dell Magazines in the 1940s and '50s, thanks to good editorial work by Don Ward (the best issues of this digest were the ones that had the least Grey reprint fiction in them), so why not revive that in the nearly empty market for western fiction magazines of the late '60s, with only the hardy Ranch Romances and Adventures barely plugging along...sadly, though, despite early work by the likes of Bill Pronzini, the quality of the new Grey magazine was rarely first-rate, and though it ran for nearly five years (1969-74), it never made too much of a splash...some excellent covers couldn't make up for mediocre fiction.

In 1973, Margulies, noting that it was the fiftieth anniversary year of the long-dead title's founding, took a flyer on a revival of Weird Tales, but probably did the magazine no favors by hiring his old friend Sam Moskowitz (who had ghosted rather dull WT anthologies for Margulies in years past) to edit...the first WT revival lasted four issues, staggering into 1974. 

For what turned out to be the last new Renown magazine, Margulies thought to again mine nostalgia and license a character, and came up with Charlie Chan Mystery Magazine, an idea whose time had probably passed by then, even given that Chan was a reasonably positive stereotypical Chinese-American character. Four issues beginning in late 1973. (Robert Hart Davis, one will note, is the most common of Renown "house names," pseudonyms used by any number of writers...much as any number of writers borrowed Davis Dresser's "Brett Halliday" tag while ghosting the Mike Shayne stories for that magazine...) Clearly, after 1974, Margulies and Kleinman were willing to let MSMM be their sole project; a few years after Margulies's death in 1975, Kleinman sold the magazine to the Goldsteins, who published it with Charles Fritch as editor until mid-1985, with a number of now-important writers in crime fiction and other fields getting their start in the magazine's last decade...thanks to editors Sam Merwin, Fritch and Cylvia Kleinman herself.

For more of today's books, stories and perhaps even other magazines, please see Patti Abbott's blog.
The last new Renown magazine...and the first appearance of a cover recycled 
above...the whole painting appearing again on the March 1980 MSMM...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wednesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links, Or, At Last the A/V Follies of 1936...

Below, the links to reviews and citations, gathering two weeks' worth of patient reviewers' assessments and citations.  As always, please let me know in comments when I've missed yours or someone else's...and, as always, thanks to all our contributors and to you readers...

Bill Crider: The Halls of Montezuma; Robinson Crusoe on Mars

Brian Arnold: The New Show; Near Dark

B V Lawson: Media Murder

Charlie Stella: The Dancer Upstairs; CPAC

Dan Stumpf: Arabesque; The Manchu Eagle Murder Caper Mystery

David Vineyard: Lured

Ed Lynskey: Mysteries and Scandals: "Raymond Chandler"; The Lady Confesses

Elizabeth Foxwell: The Happy Thieves; The Next Chapter (CBC Radio); The Lady Confesses

Evan Lewis: Spy vs. Spy (Season Three); Son of Kong poster gallery

Fred Blosser: Shootout;  Showdown

George Kelley: The Venture Bros.; Porgy and Bess (2014);  Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore

Iba Dawson: Movies about Math; Austenland; Twilight (1998 non-sparkly film); Celebrating International Women's Day

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Geraldine Page films on TCM; Johnny Staccato

Jackie Kashian: Louise Palanker; Tom Rhodes

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Top o' the Morning; The Buster Keaton Story 

Jake Hinkson: Crime Without Passion; Frank Lovejoy as noir radio actor

James Reasoner: Hart of Dixie; The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine; Firecreek

Jeff Flugel: Fast Company and its similarly The Thin Man-esque sequels

Jerry House: "The City on the Edge of Forever"

John Charles: Women of the Prehistoric Planet (aka...and here's my squib review, "Terrible but Fascinating"); Frightmare (aka Frightmare II)

Kate Laity: Anne Billson

Kliph Nesteroff: An Evening with George Schlatter: Once Upon a Coffehouse; Love Thy Neighbor (the Fred Allen/Jack Benny feud movie)

Laura: Tim Holt Western Classics Collection, V.4; Winchester '73

Lucy Brown: Morning Glory; Mogambo

Martin Edwards: Mind the Gap; Salamander

Marty McKee: Cutting Class; Tarzan: "The Deadly Silence" (NBC 1966)

Mystery Dave: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Patti Abbott: Medical Center; Angel's Share

Prashant Trikannad: Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again

Rick: The Girls on the Beach; Candy Johnson

Rod Lott: Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion; The Wild World of Batwoman

Ron Scheer: Abilene Town; The Painted Desert

Sergio Angelini: Women of Twilight

Stacia Jones: GlickmanU Want Me 2 Kill Him?

Stephen Bowie: Two Marys, a Sally, and a Liz

Todd Mason: Discovering William Stafford

Walter Albert: The Market of Vain Desire; Hairpins

Yvette Banek: Political Animals