Friday, March 31, 2017

FFB: Robert Bloch: THE MIRACLE OF RONALD WEEMS (IMAGINATIVE TALES, May 1955, et seq.); Bloch centennial week

Robert Bloch's "The Miracle of Ronald Weems" was the third lead novella in a row (one more would follow) by Bloch in an issue of the new magazine Imaginative Tales, and the first new one (the first was a reprint, retitled, from a 1950 issue of Fantastic Adventures; the second, "Mr. Margate's Mermaid," a reconfiguration of two shorter stories Bloch had placed with Weird Tales in 1942). Since original publication, I'm aware of only two reprints, in David Schow's collection The Lost Bloch, Volume 2: Hell on Earth (Subterranean Press, 2000) and by Pulpville Press, in a 2006 double-novel format with that fourth issue novella "The Big Binge"...Imaginative Tales had been launched as a fantasy magazine meant to feature Thorne Smith-style mildly ribald farcical tales, and Bloch delivers what is asked for, though in this example a strong dose of Damon Runyon is added. 

Ronald Weems has not quite enjoyed an uneventful life, having been raised by puritanical maiden aunts and having spent the years since their deaths working, somewhat improbably, in the women's intimate-wear section of a department store. He has a crush on a toy clerk named Amy, an incompetent, blustering bully manager in women's wear named Bickerstaff, and the responsibility of helping make a success of a lingerie show at the store, featuring a young and still rather obscure film starlet, services rented for the occasion, who works as Laura Lee. Through misadventure, Weems finds himself the owner of a children's chemical set, mostly to help Amy out of a jam, and, after the lingerie show goes badly and Weems is fired, he discovers that Amy has a man already in her life. Depressed, he considers suicide by mixing chemicals randomly in hopes of creating an effective poison...instead, he accidentally creates an elixir that temporarily gives him powers of levitation and telekinesis...though he has to be mildly drunk, as well. Further misadventure puts Weems and Laura Lee into each other's orbits in multiple ways over the next couple of days, facing one sort of threat after another, not least from local gangster Ace Diamond, who wants money from Lee and criminal aid from Weems. Beyond what they endure together, Lee and Weems manage to get along rather well, in the manner of one kind of romantic farce, and the ending suggests that perhaps some of the effects of Weems's compounding aren't so temporary. 

Bloch by 1955 was an old hand at this kind of narrative, and is clearly having some fun all the way through this story, as bouyant as Weems is at full power, and seemingly enjoying let the narrative spin out as it more or less plausibly might, given Laura Lee is both good-natured and mildly bohemian, and willing to take on her brave if innocent, sheltered eventual swain as they scrape through one farcical, if usually also dangerous, twist after another. As with the Lefty Feep stories and others for Fantastic Adventures, and to some extent his other humorous fantasies for magazines such as Weird Tales and Unknown, the puns, the comedy of humors names for supporting characters, and generally good-natured play help keep this from being in any way profound, but also consistently engagingly readable. Aside from the criminal element being relatively quick-thinking and quick-talking, as well as more dangerous than might be expected in a farce, a couple of them engage in the kind of slightly convoluted patois that makes the debt to Runyon mentioned above fairly obvious...if you took Smith, Runyon and Robert Benchley together and convinced them to write a romantic caper-fantasy, this could well've been the result.  The grimmer humor shot through, or added lightly to, much of his horror and crime fiction, and nearly all his more seriously-intended science fiction (he wrote sfnal farce, as well), is less in evidence here, but it's very much of a piece with those works, or the humorous tone of many of his critical essays and fannish-press writing...or his public speaking, as he had toyed at one time with the notion of becoming a stand-up comedian.

I'll be posting some reviews of some of Bloch's more serious and ambitious writing over the next week, as we run up to and past the 5 April 100th anniversary of his birth. For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog. And here's a bit of a Robert Bloch index post for Sweet Freedom...

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March Underappreciated Music: the links

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: Night Music

Jayme Lynn Blaschke: Friday Night Videos

Paul D. Brazill: Roxy Music: 1972 Peel Session

Jim Cameron: Noah Howard at Judson Hall

Sean Coleman: Blue Oyster Cult: On Your Feet or On Your Knees

Bill Crider: Song of the Day; Forgotten Hits; The Velvet Underground and Nico

Jeff Gemmill: Top 5; The Essentials; Paul McCartney: Flowers in the Dirt; Tift Merritt

Jerry House: Frankie Laine; Hymn Time; Music from the Past

Sam Juliano: Opera Lafayette Orchestra: F. A. Danican Philidor: Sancho Pança 

Kate Laity: Song for a Saturday

B. V. Lawson: Your Sunday Music Treat

Evan Lewis: Kenny and the Fiends: "The Raven" (a setting of the Poe poem)

Steve Lewis, Jonathan Lewis and Michael Shonk: Music I'm Listening To

Todd Mason: Saturday Music Club: folk rock and adjacent; Bob Brookmeyer (and Chuck Berry) in performance and memoriam; jazz and adjacent (ska, bluegrass fusion)

Andrew Orley: Nobody's Listening

Lawrence Person: Shoegazer Sunday

James Reasoner: Middle of the Night Music

Charlie Ricci: Raul Malo, Pat Flynn, Rob Ickes, Dave Pomeroy: The Nashville Acoustic Sessions (2004)

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: just a bit overdue...(many more new links, enough for this week)

5 April 2017 will be the 100th anniversary if the birth of Robert Bloch; we hope to see remembrance around the web, and provide access to as much as we can!

The (once!) weekly assembly of links to blogposts, reviews, essays, podcasts and other items of interest about audio/visual work, usually first-rate and deserving of one's attention but sometimes less so and sometimes deserving of obscurity, up to and including opera, stage drama, conventions, museum exhibits, videogames (and boardgames), and more. Many thanks to those who have continued to post, when they were inspired to one degree or another by the weekly roundelay...

A. J. Wright: Alabama Jones

Alice Chang: Horizon Zero Dawn

Alison Nastasi: 10 British New Wave films

Andrew Porter: 1976 MidAmericon Q&A: Mark Hamill and Gary Kurtz on Star Wars

Anne Billson: Eva Green; Gwyneth Paltrow; everyman action heroes

Arik Devens: underrated 1987 films

Bhob Stewart: The Voices of Marvel; Popeye from a number of angles; Candid Camera; Daniel Clowes on Wilson; and more

The Big Broadcast archive

Bill Crider: Pretty Maids All in a Row [trailer]; The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959 film) [trailer]; Man in the Shadow; Horror Express [trailer]; Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze [trailer]; At War with the Army [trailer]; Swing Vote [trailer]; 20 Million Miles to Earth [trailer]; Song of Old Wyoming [badly colorized, for some reason, print]; Murder, My Sweet [trailer]; Jane Got a Gun [trailer]; Blindman [trailer]; And Then There Were None (1945 film) [trailer]; Scared Stiff [trailer]; Cheyenne Roundup [trailer]; The Spanish Main [clip]; Night Moves [trailer]; Scaramouche (1952 film) [trailer]; 100 Rifles [trailer]; The Terror of the Tongs [trailer]; Law of the Pampas

Brian Arnold: Herman & Katnip: "Mice Meeting You" [current link to animation]; Underdog: "Simon Says No Thanksgiving"; The Thanksgiving Promise

Brian Lindenmuth: Slow West

B. V. Lawson: Media Murder

Classic Movie Salon

Colin McGulgan: Bullet for a Badman

Comedy Film Nerds: Laura House; Nate Gowtham

Cult TV: Lily Savage parodies; The Laughing Prisoner

Cynthia Fuchs: I Called Him Morgan; Personal Shopper

Dan Stumpf: A Killer Walks; Murder at the Vanities

David Cramner: Films for Pi Day; Doctor Who; The Proposition (2005 film)

David Vineyard: Enter Arsene LupinThe Man Behind the Mask

Elgin Bleecker: Seven Keys; A United Kingdom; The Rising of the Moon; I See a Dark Stranger; Town on Trial

Elizabeth Foxwell: Postmark for Danger; In Their Own Words; "Leaves of an Hour"; The Argyle Secrets; Lady Molly of Scotland Yard (BBC Radio 4 Extra); The Star and the Story: "The Blue Landscape"

Ellen Girardeau Kempler: Dogs Haunting Edith Wharton's Home

Eric Hillis: The Eyes of My Mother

The Faculty of Horror: I Spit on Your Grave (1978); Elle (2016)

Gary Deane: The Lawbreakers

George Kelley: City Lights; Justice League Dark; Kind Hearts and Coronets; 3rd Rock from the Sun

"Gilligan Newton-John": Escape from Galaxy 3; Space Princesses [NSFW]

How Did This Get Made?: Body Parts (with Gillian Jacobs and Claudia O'Doherty)

Iba Dawson: Umberto D;  Carnival of Souls

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Thank You All Very Much; Roaring City; The Perfect Clown Behind the Door (1919 film); Won Ton Ton, the Dog That Saved Hollywood; The Delinquents; Treasure of Monte Cristo; The Eagle; Black Tuesday; Tales of Wells Fargo; Here Come the Nelsons; Col. Humphrey Flack (DuMont Network); Highway 13; Open All Night (1924 film); Panther Girl of the Kongo

Jack Seabrook: Alfred Hitchcock Presents:/The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: "Banquo's Chair"; 'The Cadaver"; "Run for Doom"; "The Three Dreams of Mr. Findlater"; "I Killed the Count"

Jackie Kashian: John Scalzi on digital photography; Henry Phillips on amateur instructional video;  Alycia Cooper on Trump's tweets;  Chris Mancini on board games

Jackie Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin: The Jackie and Laurie Show  

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Another Man's Poison; My Wild Irish Rose; the Mt. Tom Playhouse (Holyoke, MA); Robert Osborne;  Happy Land 10 years

Jake Hinkson: The Crooked Web; the pernicious Oscars; Friendly Persuasion

James Clark: The Only Lovers Left Alive

James Reasoner: Skiptrace Below the Border; The War Wagon; Lucy; Rio Concho; The Shallows; True Memoirs of an International Assassin

Janet Varney: The JV Club

J. D. Lafrance: Le Mans

Jedidiah Ayres: Coastlines; favorite crime drama films of 2016

Jerry House: Burn 'Em Up BarnesThe Flying Serpent; Purple Death from Outer Space; Hawk Durango/Hawk Larabee; Suspense: "Murder at the Mardi Gras" (CBS -TV)

Jess Nevins: Made a discovery today of a science fiction short by Jean Renoir from 1926, in which an African explorer (played by an African-American) visits a Europe descended into savagery by an apocalyptic war. The film isn't listed in any of the major reference works on science fiction.

John Grant: Moontide; Phantom of ChinatownThe Last Job; Dick Barton Strikes BackDick Barton at Bay; Dick Barton, Special Agent; Robert Osborne; La Bande à Bonnot; John recommends Movies from the Silent Era.

John Scoleri: Dark Shadows Before I Die: the episodes reviewed

John Varley: Spy in the Wild; The Hunt for the WilderpeopleThe Ruling Class

Jonathan Lewis: The Last Train from Madrid; The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight;  The Monster of Piedras Blancas

Juri Nummelin: "Shellarama"; Suburbia; The French ConnectionToo Late; LBJ: The Early Years; Knife in the Water

Karen Hannsberry: The Cheat; Rain (1932 film); Night Nurse42nd Street (1933 film); 2016 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival

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

Kelly Robinson: The Immortal Alamo

Ken Levine: Hollywood & Levine 12: Pissing Off NBC, Thrown Off The Dating Game; television production schedules

Kim Newman: Atomica

Kliph Nesteroff: Camp Runamuck; The Joey Bishop Show (1968 episode)

Kristina Dijan: O Canada! blogathon; March Film Diary; Bureau of Missing Persons; The Merry Widow; The Canadians

Laura G: BackLash; Our Dancing Daughters; Behind Green Lights; Escape in the Fog; September Storm; Address Unknown; Lola Albright; 19th Annual Noir City Film Festival

Lesley Gaspar: Children of Divorce (1927 film)

Lindsay D.: Muriel Box; The Bride Wore RedThis is My Affair

Louis Fowler: Salsa

Lucy Brown: The Dark Mirror

Maltin on Movies: Melanie Lynskey; Best Classic Films

Martin Edwards: Final Appointment; Death Goes to School; Love from a Stranger; No Trace (aka Murder by the Book); Life in Danger; Emirates Literature Festival; Guilty? (aka By Whose Hand?)

Marty McKee: Storm Trooper; Girl on the Run; The Klansman; Pink Cadillac  

Michael Shonk: Bright StarThe Adventures of  Lariat Sam; Jane

Mildred Perkins: Predator II: A Bill Paxton Tribute; The Wailing

Mitchell Hadley: Minneapolis TV listings, 24 March 1971; TV Guide, 20 March 1971; Chuck Barris

Movie Sign with the Mads: This is Spinal Tap; Super; Rules Don't Apply; The Warriors 

Noel Vera: Birth of a Nation (2016 film); Tokyo Drifter

Patricia Nolan-Hall: Merrily We Go to Hell; Wagon Train: "Little Girl Lost"; Charlie Chan in Paris; City in Darkness

Patti Abbott: The Player; Midsomer Murders: "Written in Blood"; ThirtySomething: "Couples"; Gilmore GirlsThe Ice Storm; Hitchcock/Truffaut; Village of the Damned; Three Women; Holiday Affair; The Verdict; Shampoo

Paul D. Brazill: A Film for Friday: Husbands, et seq.

Pop My Culture: Kristen Vangsness; series finale: Live at San Francisco SketchFest

Prashant Trikannad: The Intern; Daredevil (Netflix telelvision)

The Projection Booth: Doctor Detroit

Raquel Stecher: Bells are Ringing; Robert Osborne; Mary Astor

Rick: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning; Green for Danger; Vincent Price

Rod Lott: Night Trap; Cannonball!; Frankenstein's Hungry Dead

"Rupert Pupkin": Bunny Lake is Missing; Fat City

Ruth Kerr: Leni Riefenstahl; Phone Call from a Stranger; Destination Tokyo

Salome Wilde: Walk Softly, Stranger; Feline Noir; Children in Film Noir

Sam Juliano: The Magic Flute (Bergman's film)

Sergio Angelini: Smile, Jenny, You're Dead; The Columbo Podcast; Justified; Johnny Staccato; No Way Out (1987 film); Jonathan Creek

Stacia Kissick Jones: Finian's Rainbow; Phaedra (1962 film); A Game of Death

Stacie Ponder: Sadako vs. Hayako

Stephen Bowie : Don M. Mankiewicz

Stephen Gallagher: The Future Boys

Steve Lewis: The Time Tunnel (2006 tv pilot); Murder by Death;  Three Days of the Condor;  2017 Vintage Paperback Collectors Show; The Sombrero Kid

Television Obscurities: Coronet Blue; Men into Space: "Is There Another Civilization?"

Theresa Brown: The Ox-Bow Incident; Robert Osborne

Todd Mason: Popcorn and Sexual Politics: Movie Reviews by Kathi Maio; jazz documentaries featuring Bob Brookmeyer

TV Guidance Counselor: Ileana Douglas

Tynan: La Ronde; The Bicycle Thief Trafic (1971 film)

Vienna: Cover Up (1949 film); Johnny Reno; Private Hell 36

Yvette Banek: The Three Musketeers (1948 film)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Robert Bloch centennial: 5 April 2017

Stephen Haffner, who publishes at Haffner Press, wrote today to remind Patti Abbott and myself that Robert Bloch was born on 5 April 1917, and thus the 100th anniversary approaches.

If ever there seemed a time for remembrance, that might well be it! 

Patti has offered to publish anything relevant one wants to place with her blog on 5 April, and I'll certainly extend the same offer, along with the hope that anything you might write up on your own blog or other public access site you might let us know about...I'll certainly gather any links. 

And if you'd like to make your Friday Book or other weekly entry about any of the many, many works of this prolific and influential genius, an innovator in several fields of literature and not insignificant as a dramatist, please do...and let us know...

Thanks!  TM

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Doubleday Book Clubs ad copy triumphs of the 1950s

Perhaps the worst of the often ridiculous Science Fiction Book Club (US version) ads of the 1950s:

Meanwhile, the Dollar Mystery Guild in 1951, perhaps (probably) from the same copywriter (and courtesy Paul Di Filippo):

So, my tribute:

You crossed the court to taste FORBIDDEN LOVE...and now she might kill you!...

...Get out of there, you fool! Use your mentality! But, perhaps...perhaps she'd be Worth It...

You'll thrill to THE DOUBLEDAY BOOK CLUBS AD COPY ANTHOLOGY, one of several "instant remainders" you'll find in the Red Dot clearance pile at the surviving B&N near you. Where else, aside from men's sweat anthologies you'll find on the same shelf, will you find such stirring prose, such intriguing intrigue?

--surely it's simply coincidence that Armstrong and Asimov were alphabetically the first writers in either ad's selection of enticements...surely such ingenious selling techniques weren't so mechanically applied to the work being pound goods, or at least like mid-price alcoholic beverages, floor wax or cigarets...late '70s SFBC ad, below:

Rather typical DBC ad from the '50s:

Items I remember purchasing from the Doubleday Book Club, 1975-1976:
Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories to Be Read With the Doors Locked edited by Harold Q. Masur
Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories to Stay Awake By edited by Harold Q. Masur
'Salem's Lot by Stephen King
The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins
The Prometheus Crisis by Thomas Scortia and Frank Robinson
The Encyclopedia of World Travel by C. Earl Cooley and Nelson Doubleday
a similarly useful-looking two-volume reference for gardening (my parents were briefly in the mid-'70s very avid truck gardeners)
A Treasury of Little Golden Books (mostly so I could read them to my then very young brother, and a bit in early nostalgic mode, as between us Eric and I had destroyed some of my own ca. 1966/68-purchased individual slim volumes in that series)

Books I remember purchasing from the Science Fiction Book Club, 1978-1981:
The Persistence of Vision by John Varley
The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
Starlight omnibus by Alfred Bester
The Hugo Winners, Volumes 1 and 2 omnibus, edited by Isaac Asimov (clumsily, omitting a Fritz Leiber story from volume 2 and typoing the title of Robert Bloch's story in volume 1, and the careful attention of Doubly-Daze's editors clearly engaged in both volumes, not bothering to clean any of that up for the omnibus reprint)
The Foundation Trilogy omnibus by Isaac Asimov

Books I remember purchasing from the Quality Paperback Club, 1980-81:
The 101 Best Jazz Albums by Len Lyons
Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino
a boxed set of Calvino novels, which recapitulated an HBJ trade edition, with If on a winter's night a traveler, The Baron in the Trees and Invisible Cities
The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, the then-current (first?) edition of the Jack Zipes volume aimed at adult readers

--there were others in each case, at least several from QPB, but damned if I remember which at the moment. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

some jazz and hybrids: third stream, jazz/bluegrass, ska: Saturday Music Club

Emily Remler, Hank Jones, Jake Hanna, Bob Maize: Firefly

1. Mocha Spice 0:00 2. Nunca Mais 4:30 3. Waltz For My Grandfather 9:37 4. Catwalk 16:16 5. Blues For Herb 26:40 6. Transitions 33:08 7. The Firefly 41:11 8. Antonio 45:20 9. Mozambique 49:50

Philly Joe Jones band: Showcase

01.Battery Blues (Julian Priester)...(00:00)
02.Minor Mode (Bill Barron)...(04:09)  
03.Gwen (Philly Joe Jones)...(08:39
04.Joe's Debut (Philly Joe Jones)...(12:41
05.Gone (G.Gershwin/I.Gershwin /D.Heyward)...(18:19)  
06.Joe's Delight (Philly Joe Jones)...(23:02)  
07.Julia (Julian Priester)...(26:58)
08.I'll Never Be the Same (G.Kahn/M.Malneck/F.Signorelli)...(30:28
09.Interpretation (Bill Barron)...(34:30)

1.Philly Joe Jones - drums(tr.1,2 & 4-8);piano(tr.3)
2.Blue Mitchell - trumpet (tr.1,2 & 4-9)
3.Julian Priester - trombone (tr.1,2 & 4-9)
4.Bill Barron - tenor saxophone (tr.1,2 & 4-9)
5.Pepper Adams - baritone saxophone (tr.1,2 & 4-9)
6.Dolo Coker (tr.1,4 & 6-8);Sonny Clark(tr.2,5 & 9) - piano
7.Jimmy Garrison - bass(tr.1,2 & 4-9). 

John Lewis, Percy Heath, Chico Hamilton, Jim Hall, Bill Perkins: 

Grand Encounter

1. Love Me or Leave Me
2. I Can't Get Started
3. Easy Living
4. Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West
5. Skylark
6. Almost Like Being In Love

McCoy Tyner, Albert Heath, Jimmy Garrison: "Five Spot After Dark"

Gary Burton and Friends Near, Friends Far: Tennessee Firebird

Gary Burton (vibes, piano, organ)
Chet Atkins, Jimmy Colvard, Ray Edenton (guitar)
Buddy Emmons (steel guitar)
Henry Strzelecki, Steve Swallow (bass)
Kenneth Buttrey, Roy Haynes (drums)
Steve Marcus (tenor sax)
Charlie McCoy (harmonica)
Buddy Spicher (fiddle)
Bobby Osborne (mandolin)
Sonny Osborne (banjo)

All compositions by Gary Burton except as indicated

  1. "Gone" (Smokey Rogers) - 4:52
  2. "Tennessee Firebird" - 2:57
  3. "Just Like a Woman" (Bob Dylan) - 3:48
  4. "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair" (Traditional) - 1:53
  5. "Faded Love" (Bob Wills, John Wills, Billy Jack Wills) - 3:22
  6. "Panhandle Rag" (Leon McAuliffe) - 1:33 Bonus track on CD reissue
  7. "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You)" (Hank Williams) - 2:54
  8. "I Want You" (Dylan) - 3:28
  9. "Alone and Forsaken" (Williams) - 2:49
  10. "Walter L." - 4:41
  11. "Born to Lose" (Frankie BrownTed Daffan) - 2:43
  12. "Beauty Contest" - 1:25
  13. "Epilogue" - 0:23

Club Ska '67

01 - Guns Of Navarone - The Skatalites
02 - Phoenix City - Rolando And The Soul Brothers
03 - 007 (Shanty Town) - Desmond Dekker
04 - Broadway Jungle - The Maytals As The Flames
05 - Contact - Roy Richards With Baba Brooks
06 - Guns Fever - Baba Brooks
07 - Rub Up Push Up - Justin Hines & The Dominoes
08 - Dancing Mood - Delroy Wilson
09 - Stop Making Love - Gaylads
10 - Pied Piper - Rita Marley
11 - Lawless Street - The Soul Brothers
12 - Skaing West - Sir Lord Comic & His Cowboys
13 - Copasetic - The Rulers