Friday, February 28, 2014

John Lennon-Starting Over

My review of THE LEGO MOVIE is on Crimespree. 

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, February 28, 2014

From the  FFB archives

Kent Morgan lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba where in retirement he co-writes two sports columns, plays hockey twice a week, and tries to figure what to do with all the books in his house and garage.

In A True Light – John Harvey 

In 1998, John Harvey won the first-ever Sherlock Award for the best detective, Charlie Resnick, created by a British author. When he decided to stop writing the Resnick series, he opted to write a standalone where he could use his interest in both art and music in the storyline. The result is this book which received well-deserved raves from book reviewers on both sides of the Atlantic. Sloane is a 60-year-old painter who is just out of prison after serving time for duplicating fine art for a dealer. He takes the rap and doesn’t squeal on the dealer who promised him 20,000 pounds on his release. After he collects the money, he is contacted by a woman in Italy who tells him a prominent artist with whom he had a fling in New York when he was 18 is dying and wants to see him. She claims that Sloane is the father of her estranged daughter, who is a jazz singer in the States, and asks him to find her. This takes him back to New York where he discovers the younger woman is involved with a man who beats her and has ties to organized crime. Sloane isn’t convinced that the woman is his daughter and despite the fact that she doesn’t seem to want him in her life and any help with her problems that includes drugs, he can’t stop himself from getting involved. The story moves back and forth from New York to London and Pisa and Harvey’s characters jump off the page as Sloane attempts to resolve his issues as well as the woman’s problems. This is one of the few books I have read in recent years that I didn’t want to put dow

Sergio Angelini, BLACK WATER, Joyce Carol Oates
Joe Barone, EXIT THE MILKMAN, Charlotte MacLeod
Brian Busby, HOW DO YOU SPELL ABDUCTED, Cherylyn Stacey
Bill Crider, MYSTERY SCENE, Volume 1, Issue 2
Martin Edwards, A CASE WITH FOUR CLOWNS, Leo Bruce
Curt Evans, THE SLYPE and THE DEVIL IN THE BELFRY, Russell Thorndyke
Rich Horton, GRAUSTARK, George Barr McCutcheon
Jerry House, THE LAND OF SHORTER SHADOWS, Erle Stanley Gardner
Nick Jones, Titan Graphic Novel, Comic Roundup
George Kelley, NO LESSER PLEA, Robert K. Tanenbaum
Margot Kinberg, TILT-A-WHIRL, Chris Grabenstein
B.V. Lawson, THE SINGING SPIDER, Angus MacVicar
Evan Lewis, "The Life and Times of Daffy Dill" Monte Herridge
Steve Lewis/David Vineyard, THREE HOSTAGES, John Buchan
Todd Mason, REDUX, Some best ofs
James Reasoner, ESCAPE TO SINDOM, Don Elliott
Michael Slind, THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN, Sjowall and Wahloo
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, KIRINYAGA: A FABLE OF UTOPIA, Mike Resnick

Thursday, February 27, 2014

John Lennon-Beautiful Boy

Best picture nominees

Here is a list of the movies that have won best picture at the Academy Awards.  Which ONE would you say was the best choice; which ONE the worst.

I am going with CASABLANCA as the best choice and FORREST GUMP as the worst. Both were hard to choose for me. There were many contenders.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

John Lennon's STRAWBERRY FIELDS by Miles Davis and Kennt Garrett

U Can't Touch This

In a movie I recently saw (no spoilers here) a man prized a collection in his basement to the point that no one was permitted to lay a hand on it. I also think back on DINER, where a character berated his wife for touching his record collection (or at least not refiling albums correctly).

Do you have any collection, hobby, etc. that you don't want touched?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

John Lennon-Give Peace a Chance

Forgotten Movies: TOPPER

This is a screwball comedy of 1937 starring Cary Grant (in the movie that made him a star) and Constance Bennett as a couple that die in a careless accident, then come back to haunt Cosmo Topper (Roland Young) their uppercrust banker. Charming, I remembered it, and so was the TV show that followed it with Leo J. Carroll playing Topper.

(I believe in the TV show they were killed in an avalanche, somewhat making them less careless.)

Okay, here's the thing. I saw this movie was on TV and thought it would make a good choice for this post. I watched it and boy, was I disappointed. It dragged terribly and the same jokes popped up over and over again. What should have been quick bits, were not. Cary Grant disappeared pretty much after the first half hour and Constance Bennett is just not very good. Roland Young was very fine in his bits but boy, no clever dialogue and so preachy. A big disappointment. Why waste something as cool as ghosts on just dispensing advice.

Monday, February 24, 2014

John Lennon-Instant Karma

Minor Characters You Remember

In GOODBYE, COLUMBUS, by Philip Roth, there is a very minor character that has stayed with me for the forty plus years since I read it first. The protagonist has a job at the Newark Public Library and he notices a young black boy spending his summer days looking at art books. The boy confesses that it is Paul Gauguin he loves to look at. He can't imagine a place like Tahiti. Neil goes on to protect the boy from the other librarians who believe he will deface or steal the book. And it is that boy I remember today. Roth painted the boy so vividly, and also that library in Newark. I can picture him still paging through that book on an upper floor, dreaming about going to a place like Tahiti.

Is there a minor character in a book that you remember well?

The original NYT review, right here. 

My Tahiti

Sunday, February 23, 2014

John Lennon-Imagine

The Writing Life: James Scott Bell

The Best Anthologies

For me, one of the greatest anthologies is THE VINTAGE BOOK OF CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN SHORT STORIES, edited by Tobias Wolff more than 20 years ago now. These were the short story writers I grew up on-at least grew up on as a short story writer.

Contributors include: Mary Gaitskill,  Thom Jones,  Andre Dubus,  Tim O'Brien, Chris Offutt,  Raymond Carver, Joyce Carol Oates, ; Robert Stone,   Mona Simpson,   Ann Beattie, Jamaica Kincaid, "Girl"; Stuart Dybek,  Barry Hannah,  John Edgar Wideman, Ron Hansen, Denis Johnson, Richard Ford, etc. These were the finest writers of that era and many are still today.

My favorite crime anthology is Hard-Boiled, a chronological assemblage of some of best crimes stories by all of the best writers beginning with Dashell Hammett and ending with Ed Gorman, and including every major crime fiction writer in the field in between.

What are some of the greatest multi-authored anthologies for you?

Friday, February 21, 2014

How About a Dance Scene: LOVE ACTUALLY

My review of GLORIA is up on CRIMESPREE MAGAZINE. 

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, February 21, 2014

Death of a Doll, Hilda Lawrence

I saw this in vintage paperback in a bookstore in Carlsbad, CA and remembered reading Lawrence's books (I think there were about four or so) back in the day. This was not the cover I saw.  This review is largely borrowed from Good Reads because I didn't spend the $ to buy it.

Ruth Miller moves into Hope House, a home for working girls (and not in the newer meaning) and was found dead shorty after. The home officials cover it up, getting an official verdict of "fell or jumped," Nobody knows Ruth well enough to look into it.  But it turns out that Ruth did have a friend, whom no one--certainly not her murderer--had bargained for, and she was determined to see justice done.

Serge Angelini, LET'S HEAR IT FOR THE DEAF MAN, Ed McBain
Joe Barone, THE OLD GRAY WOLF, James D. Doss
Brian Busby, HIGH TIDE IS AT MIDNIGHT, Ronald Cocking
Bill Crider, FIND EILEEN HARDIN-ALIVE, Andrew Frazier
Martin Edwards, CALAMITY TOWN, Ellery Queen
Curt Evans, SIX AGAINST THE YARD, Margery Allingham et al
Rich Horton, HALF ROGUE and THE BEST MAN, Harold Macgrath
Nick Jones, HIGH RISE. J.G. Ballard
George Kelley, LADY ON THE CASE, edited by Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muelller
Margot Kinberg, A FEW RIGHT -THINKING MEN, Sulari Gentill
B.V. Lawson,  The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective by Catherine Louisa Pirkis
Evan Lewis, DAFFY DILL in "THE DANCING CORPSE" Richard Sale
Todd Mason, COLLEGE PARODIES, edited by Will and Martin Lieberman
James Reasoner, THE YEAR WHEN STARDUST FELL Raymond F. Jones
Richard Robinson, THE DRAGONS OF ARCHENFIELD, Edward Marston
Gerard Saylor, THE DEAD WOMEN OF JUAREZ, Sam Hawken
Ron Scheer, A SOLDIER'S WAY, Dane Coolidge
Michael Slind, DAYS OF MISFORTUNE, Aaron Marc Stein
Kevin Tipple/Patrick Ohl, THE CORPSE IN THE CAR, John Rhode
Prashant Trikannad, JOHN GARDNER'S JAMES BOND novels
TomCat, THE CRIMSON FOG, Paul Haulter
Prashant Trikannad, John Gardner's James Bond novels

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Our Friend, Rob Kitchin, Honored in Ireland

From the Blue House

Gold Medal award

This afternoon I’m heading into Dublin to receive the Royal Irish Academy’s Gold Medal for the Social Sciences, presented by An Taoiseach (prime minister), Enda Kenny TD.  The medals are considered the highest award an academic can receive in Ireland, and are presented once every two years.  I’m obviously delighted and honoured to be the 2013 recipient.  I’m also a little bemused as they usually seem to be presented to folk who are nearer to the end of their career than the start.  I’m also acutely aware that the award is a reflection of a lot of collaboration.  Since starting my PhD just over twenty years ago I’ve worked with a lot of great people on various projects and publications, receiving some wonderful support and camaraderie, and if you’re one of those people I owe you a debt of thanks.  After the ceremony I have to go for a meal with the Editor of the Irish Times, the Head of RTE (the national broadcaster), and the Director of the Higher Education Authority, so I guess I’ll need to be on my best behaviour and to try and keep my foot out of my mouth.  These kinds of ceremony gigs are not my scene, but I’ll try my best to enjoy it.  You never know, I might even do so. 

The percentages

What percentage of the books you read, did you

buy hardback new-
buy hardback used
buy PB new
buy PB used
buy ebook
check out of library
borrow from friend

Mine would break down something like 10% HB new; 10% used, 10% paperback new, 20% PB used, 15% ebooks, 35% library and a scattered few are borrowed.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Opening Credits: The Cisco Kid

Hey Cisco, Hey Pancho


I haven't talked too much about what we did in California because mostly we both write or take walks or look at the ocean or attend book talks or musical events. Nice I know but not particularly interesting to hear about.
But today (last week) we did something some of you might like. We went to Leo Carrillo's ranch outside Carlsbad, CA. It is now a park and fairly untouched by time or over-eager hands. It is quite large (2500 acres) and has much of the ranch equipment and out -buildings in had back in the day. And the "day" preceeded his years there, actually beginning in 1868. 
This is how CA looked before movie stars and surfers took over. His ranch was a hangout for Hollywood types like Clark Gable who liked the ranching life. 
While there we ran into three peacocks. Oh, happy day!

For you youngsters, Leo starred with Duncan Renaldo in the Cisco Kid, a TV series (and earlier a few films). But he had a long history in film and vaudeville and was also a political cartoonist. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tuesday Night Music: SAME LOVE, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, with guests


Will Hutchins starred in this western from 1957-61. He played Tom Brewster who came to the Oklahoma territory after a correspondence course A sugarfoot is a step down from a tenderfoor.

Not much gun play here because he preferred to use his wits or his rope to settle things. Jack Elam sometimes played his buddy. This was one of the gentle westerns and Hutchins appealed to the ladies.He only drank sarsaparilla, further setting him apart.

One of my favorites perhaps due to its star.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Theme Song: THE ALAMO

Worth Its Weight?

What book exceeding 600 pages was most worth the long read? Still reading this one so I cannot weigh in yet.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Saturday Night Music: Kings of Leon


Every once in a while, I learn of a new cool place to look for forgotten books. And here is a great one. Go browse their inventory. Wish I lived closer to the store. They are located, brick and mortar-wise at 1048 Fort St. in Victoria, BC, CA. But they are available online from anywhere.

Stores like this need our support. I found several great ones in SOCAL recently. You might save a buck or two on amazon but you are contributing to the demise of stores like this one. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

How About a Dance Scene: Charlie's Angels

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, February 14, 2014

Five books that should not be forgotten...but mostly are. I realize that all of them are family sagas and I guess that is my favorite genre.

Instead of one long review, I want to mention briefly books (an arbitrary number because there are so many more) that I loved when I read them-many years ago. None are crime novels because although I read many crime novels, the ones that stay with me in a special way are usually this sort of thing.

Easter Parade, Richard Yates
I like this Yates novel almost as much as REVOLUTIONARY ROAD. It is the sad story of the Grimes sisters and their lives over forty years. It came out in 1976 and it's tone if not its exact plot points stays with me still. Yates had a sad life so it's only fitting that his novels reflect that.

Searching for Caleb, Anne Tyler

I could have chosen any one of Tyler's first dozen books, which I adored. This one is the story of a man searching for his brother who walked out the door many years earlier. Tyler's early books are not about plot. They are about character, place and words. How I loved them.

Beyond the Bedroom Wall, Larry Woiwode

The story of the Neumillers, ,a midwestern family is shockingly forgotten. Many of the incidents began as New Yorker stories. The book was published in the seventies, to fabulous reviews, and reissued in the 1990s.

Happy All the Time, Laurie Colwin

Laurie Colwin wrote wonderful books and died too young. This is my favorite. The story of two couples and their ups and downs. What's the opposite of mean-spirited. Happy all the time. 

The Hair of Harold Roux, Thomas Williams

This novel with a novel was considered a masterpiece in the seventies but is forgotten today. It won the National Book Award. Read it an be amazed. 

Sergio Angelini, THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, James M. Cain
Joe Barone, THE WOUNDED HEALER, Henri J.M. Nouwen 
Curt Evans, Emma Lou Fetta
Ray Garraty, THE HOMESMAN, Glendon Swarthout
Rich Horton, BROOD OF THE WITCH QUEEN, Sax Rohmer
Jerry House SHERLOCK HOLMES THROUGH TIME AND SPACE, edited by Isaac Asimov et al
Nick Jones, NOBODY'S PERFECT, Donald E. Westlake
Margot Kinberg, BRUNO, CHIEF OF POLICE, Martin Walker 
Rob Kitchin, ALL THE DEAD VOICES, Declan Hughes
B.V. Lawso< SPOOKS, SPIES AND PRIVATE EYES, edited by Paula L. Woods
Evan Lewis, FIVE, Temple Field
J.F. Norris, MY LATE WIVES, Carter Dickson
Juri Numellin, THE RIDGE, Michael Kortya
James Reasoner, MAD STRIKES BACK
Kelly Robinson, THE BIG, GOLD DREAM, Chester Himes
Kevin Tipple/Patrick Ohl, THE TATTOO MURDER CASE, Akimitsu Takagi
R.T. A DRAINING LAKE, Arnaldur Indridason
Tomcat, THE PEARL HARBOR MURDERS, Max Allan Collins 
Zybahn, DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS, Walter Mosley

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Final Scene: THE HELP

What are you willing to spend money on (other than books)?

And I mean more money than you have to spend. I know some very sensible people that have to have a very nice car. I know similarly sensible people that bought a $3000 refrigerator. In the NYT each week, I see that when they talk about a blouse, they are talking about ones that cost $300 dollars. Not bloody likely for this gal.

Recently I bought a pretty expensive kitchen garbage can. I was tired of the bag slipping out. Tired of having to nudge the lid off with my elbow, tired of losing a lid that was not connected. Tired of it looking like a remnant from the seventies.

I regard this hefty expenditure as well worth it. I am pleased every time I use that can or even look at it.

What will you spend money on?
From the map museum in La Jolla, well worth a visit. This is a tourist map but they have hundreds of legitimate maps from centuries ago.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Opening Credits: THE WARRIORS

If You Belonged to a Book Group

What crime novel would you suggest that has a discussable plot. In other words, a crime novel that is about more than solving a crime. I want to suggest one to my group but I can never think of the right one. What crime novel is rich for discussion?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

No One Has Ever Touched Her: R.I.P.

Concrete Angel

Happy to announce that my novel CONCRETE ANGEL will be published by Exhibit A Books in February, 2015. New agent, Bryon Quertermous, made the deal. This has been a long time coming (more than 100 stories before I had the nerve). And I have many people to thank. My acknowledgements page might be as long as the story.

 Concrete Angel by Patricia Abbott

Eve Moran has always wanted ‘things’ and has proven both inventive and tenacious in both getting and keeping them – she lies, steals, cheats and swindles, paying little heed to the cost of her actions on those who love her. When Eve kills a man she picks up in a shoe repair shop, she persuades her twelve year-old daughter, Christine, to confess to the crime. The girl, compelled by love, dependency and circumstance, is caught up in her mother’s deceptions and find herself drawn to her new role. It’s only when Christine’s three year-old brother, Ryan, is drawn into her mother’s deceptions, that she finds the courage and means to bring an end to Eve’s tyranny.
Set in 1970s Philadelphia and packaged to match, Concrete Angel pits a vindictive and manipulative mother against a daughter with just enough of her mother’s immorality to fight back.

Book Info:
UK Print
Date: 5th February 2015
ISBN: 9781784090043
Format: Medium (B-Format) Paperback
R.R.P.: £8.99
US/CAN Print
Date: 3rd February 2015
ISBN: 978-1-78409-003-6
Format: Small (Mass-Market) Paperback
R.R.P.: US$7.99 CAN$9.99
Format: Large (Trade) Paperback
R.R.P.: US$14.99 CAN$16.99
Date: 3rd February 2015
ISBN: 978-1-78409-005-0
Format: Epub & Mobi
R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99


I was going to review THE WARRIORS today, but I fell asleep watching it so instead I will talk about one of its stars in his first movie then, David Patrick Kelly. Kelly grew up a suburb away from us in Michigan and was born in 1951. He has gotten steady work ever since THE WARRIORS, a lot of it on TV and in plays. He generally plays a very angry, threatening guy. He was great in TWIN PEAKS. He was awarded an Obie for his sustained work on the Broadway stage but he often pops up on TV as well. He is also a musician. He is the kind of guy who scares you pretty good.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Theme Songs: MAGNUM P.I.

Monday Purchases

Well, this is just plain crazy but we do it every year. The library here (and a flea market) sells
used books for next to nothing. So we always end up buying some. This year:

COVER OF SNOW, Jenny Milchman
UGLIES, Scott Westerfield
THE MUSE ASYLUM, David Czuchlewski
THE CUCKOO'S CALLING, Robert Galbraith (Rowling)
THE GIVER, Lois Lowry
THE BURGESS BOYS, Elizabeth Strout

I am forbidden to go to the library again. (By myself, not Phil)

Now the mailing cost!! 

Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Writing Life: Tom Perotta

The Falcon and the Falconer-Who is more eye-catching?

A real problem here is there are a lot of outdoor restaurants and the birds, sometimes quite large ones, come and sit on your table and partake. The Hotel del Coronado in Coronado has a breath-taking way of taking care of this. Both the falconer and the falcon get attention. Usually the birds just have to spot this falcon to take off. Or maybe it's her red hair.

Is this a common way of dealing with thieving birds?

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Saturday Night Music: Martina McBride

Update from Lynda Scheer

Ron continues, after a minor setback over the past few days, to make good progress. Says independence is his goal and is making strides in that direction. We notice each day some forward movement in self-suffiency, which we note and celebrate. Today he went to the kitchen and fixed himself a cup of coffee. Naps are growing shorter and less frequent, and he's started writing every day in a new journal. Also catching up on email and with his blogging buddies. We are looking forward to some good physical therapy to help him regain strength lost during hospital stay and residual weakness from the tumor. Will see oncologist next Weds to discuss treatment. On the phone she mentioned chemo and low-level radiation. This doctor's last name is Kong, and she says yes, it's true, people can't resist calling her Queen. Weather has improved, so patio time is upon us. We are still enjoying having Anne around, and eating her fabulous cooking and laughing at each other's jokes. Thanks to everyone for all the kind words and encouragement--much appreciated!

Friday, February 07, 2014

How About a Dance Scene: Breakfast Club


Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, February 7, 2014: SHIRLEY JACKSON DAY

There is so much information about Shirley Jackson online that I won't burden you with it here. A very nice interview with her son and a reading of her story "Paranoia" appears in THE NEW YORKER. In brief Jackson died at age 48 after a life that was difficult in many ways. She was married to the critic, Stanley Hyman and had four kids. "The Lottery" must rank as one of the most- read short stories in the U.S. And THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE stands at the top of most lists of American ghost stories.

 Life Among the Savages (1952)
Like most other American students, I'm sure, I was introduced to Shirley Jackson's work via her chilling story "The Lottery," surely one of the most famous American short stories every written.  This was probably the early 1960s.  In 1963 the brilliant adaptation of her The Haunting of Hill House was released (as The Haunting) and it remains (IMHO) one of the best adaptations and horror movies ever made.  When I eventually read the book I was even more impressed, especially with the casting of Julie Harris as the central character, Eleanor. I have since gone on to read and enjoy Jackson's collection of other short stories, but as I don't have the book at hand I don't really feel that I can write about it here.  I can write about my favorite of her books, however.
It was in the early 1970s when a friend recommended Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons, Jackson's two thinly-disguised memoirs about bringing up her three (later a fourth was born) children while running a household and taking care of a not very helpful husband in Vermont.  No one who has read of eldest son Laurie's adventures in school is likely to forget it.  The same goes for Jackson's attempts at learning to drive.  Apparently these were published first as separate stories in women's magazines like Good Housekeeping before Jackson edited them into a "novel" and published it in 1952, four short years after "The Lottery" came out and caused such an uproar.
If you only know Jackson from her most famous work and want to try something lighter, I would definitely recommend this one.  I recently picked up copies of both of her "memoirs" for rereading.
                                                                                                                                                                                                             reviewed by Jeff Meyerson


I read this book in December, 1987, being a big fan of Shirley Jackson all my life. I once had a nice fat collection of Jackson's work, which was damaged by ice that broke through our ceiling, soaking everything beneath. I have never replaced most of it unfortunately. But I think I've probably read most of the collected pieces of fiction she wrote and all of the novels, enjoying the domestic stories as much as the very dark ones.
Her bifurcated writing interests seem like two sides of a very familiar coin.

This book, and there may be a newer one by now, tries and succeeds in explaining much about Jackson's life. Raised by an abusive mother, married to a man (esteemed literary critic, Stanley Hyman) who recognized her brilliance but didn't let that interfere with his affairs, Jackson managed to write some of the most original stories of her era. She feared anonymity after death; feared the public would not understand the meaning of her stories. Jackson's accounts of family life (RAISING DEMONS, LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES) are as much fun to read as her darker novels and stories. Oppenheimer is very skilled at tying incidents in Jackson's life to stories she wrote at the time. She uses interviews and anecdotes to great effect. If you want to understand where stories like THE LOTTERY came from, this book will help.


This is an amazing novel on my second reading, decades after my first. Its characters are few, they are pretty much nailed to one spot, and not much action takes places. Its high quality depends on Jackson's ability to create characters that speak and act like real people despite being essentially ghosts. You can easily see the mind that created both THE LOTTERY and THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE in this novel. It was her last novel, written in 1962, three years after HILL HOUSE.

The Blackwood family lost four of its members six years earlier. Since then Mary Katherine, a teenager, her older sister Charlotte and the elderly and ill Uncle Julian haven't strayed farther than the country store. Uncle Julian lives completely in the past, reliving a specific day in time. Charlotte spends her time cooking, canning and hiding. And Mary Katherine (Merricat) dreams and devises spells to protect them. The townspeople thinkCharlotte got away with murder and Merricat's trips into town incite their rage and amusement at the Blackwood's fate. When Cousin Charles comes to stay with them, he sets events into motion that send the family even farther into isolation. He is a villain you can really hate.

The writing in this novel is sublime. Jackson creates a world that is both seductive and frightening. I read this as a teenager but I think it takes an adult to appreciate what strong characters Jackson created.

Sergio Angelini, THE LOTTERY
Jerry House, THE SUNDIAL
B.V. Lawson, AMERICAN FANTASTIC TALES, edited by Peter Straub
Todd Mason, SHIRLEY JACKSON'S First Stories Publsihed in Fantasy Magazines
Terrie Moran, THE LOTTERY
Prashant Trikannad, "Charles" and "The Witch"

Joe Barone, ONE WAS A WASTE NO TEARS, SOLDIER, Julia Spencer Fleming
Brian Busby, WASTE NO TEARS. Jarvis Warwick
Scott Cupp, THE RAINBOW GOBLIN,  Ul de rico
Martin Edwards, MYSTERY IN WHITE, J. Jefferson Farjeon
Elisabeth Grace Foley, THOROFARE, Christopher Morley
Nick Jones, A NEW YORK DANCE, Donald Westlake
Margot Kinberg, WHERE THE DEVIL CAN'T GO, Anya Lipska
K.A. Laity, RITUAL, David Pinner
Evan Lewis, "Cry Murder" Norbert Davis
James Reasoner, QUEST OF THE GOLDEN APE, Ivar Jorganson and David ChaseKevin Tipple, THE LAST REFUGE, Chris Knopf
R.T. SILENCE OF THE GRAVE, Arnaldur Indridason
Tomcat, David Cargill
Yvette, TRENT'S OWN CASE, E. C. Bentley

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Final Scene: Fanny and Alexander

Update from Lynda Scheer

Ron came home from the hospital on Sunday and has been making steady progress. Yesterday and today he's been sitting in the living room (catching up on email and watching a movie) more than resting in bed. Also, no more breakfast in bed, or lunch or dinner, for that matter. He exercises his left hand, and his left leg, slightly weakened, is growing stronger, too. For those who hadn't heard, Ron was found to have a tumor in his brain, which was successfully removed on Jan 30. His memory, speech, and personality are robustly intact. So far, everything looks good. Will know more later this week or early next. Sincerely appreciate your kind words and prayers. Keep 'em coming!
So happy to hear this! 

Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra

We have had many nights of music while in La Jolla this year. We saw an amazing performance of all of the Schubert violin and piano music at the Atheneum here. We have seen early English music in a church. We have attended two nights of jazz performances and a dance performance at UCSD that was outstanding. A lot of this music was free or for very little money.

But yesterday we saw a free concert put on by the students at the Idyllwild Academy that topped it all. An orchestra composed of students (and some alumni and guests) performed as professionally as any orchestra I have seen. Henry Hanlin Chen played Francais' Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra-never had heard it before but it was thrilling. Also astounding (as you can see above) was Bing Yu Hu's performance of Prokovfev's Piano Concerto No 3. The second half featured Shostakovich's 2 Pieces for String Octet, Op. 11 and Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet-Overture Fantasy. All brilliant, perfect, thrilling. And kudos for the brilliant conductor: Peter Askim. How thrilling it must be to work with these students.

The school,(around for 60 years) is located in the mountains near Palm Springs. It is the only arts-based boarding high school on the West Coast. The students (art, music, dance,creating writing) come from all over the world. They are clearly all prodigies whose parents gave them up to their art.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Pick a Number

I am always surprised to hear discussions on tv, in movies and in life occasionally about how people in their twenties and thirties don't regard themselves as adults. Now, I know everything is delayed nowadays: marriage, children, a stable income but still. I regarded myself as an adult by age 20 at the very latest. Phil says he regarded himself as an adult when he went away to college at 18.

How about you? What year would you choose? Did something happen at that age to make you feel like an adult? Did you parents treat you like a child after you thought of yourself as an adult?

Josh and Kevin

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

My Friend (and yours) Ron Scheer

I was very excited to be going to Palm Springs last week where I was going to meet up with one of my favorite online friends, Ron Scheer. I had hoped to get up there last year and it never worked out. But this time I had my hotel reservation (with no cancellation allowed) so it was set. And then I got an email from Ron telling me that he had to go to his doctor for some tests. He'd been experiencing some issues that were possibly serious. He was diagnosed quickly with an operable brain tumor and our meeting was cancelled. The irony was that my hotel was two blocks from the hospital where he was awaiting his surgery. But who wants to meet someone for the first time under those circumstances, so I didn't slip across the street to see him.

Ron is home now after a successful surgery last Thursday where his wife and daughter are taking good care of him. He is feeling stronger every day and we are all so happy about that. I know he would be delighted to hear from you. You can find contact information on his blog.

It constantly amazes me how close I feel to all of you who make up our little online circle. But we know each other pretty well by now: know the kind of books we like, where we live, the kind of people we are. If anyone had told me 20 years ago that some of the people I feel closest to are ones I have never met, or only met briefly, I wouldn't have believed it.

Here's to Ron and a quick recovery. Hope he is back in the saddle in no time at all.

Tuesday Night Music: TAKE MY BREATH AWAY, Berlin

Tuesday's Forgotten Movies: SABOTAGE

Still watching the Hitchcock films left in this condo.This one comes from 1936. Verloc(Oscar Homolka)is an anarchist bomber in London pre-WWII Sylvia(Sylvia Sidney plays his unknowing wife An undercover police inspector(John Loder) pretends to be a neighborhood shop clerk but is closely monitoring the couple. Also in the household is Sidney's younger brother. There is a lot of suspense in this film, even an early Disney cartoon, Sidney is lovely and Loder makes a great hero. But I could never get past Homolka's performance. Spend five minutes with him and you know he's up to no good. But there are many great scenes and a shocking ending. Worth seeing but I wish Homolka could have played it with more subtlety. Perhaps Hitchcock couldn't bear to not make it clear where his sympathies lay. 

Monday, February 03, 2014

Theme Song: Wolf of Wall Street-Kanye West

Best Titles: Book or Movie

What are some of the best titles? What title made you want to pick up a book or go see a movie. Here are some of my favorites.


How about yours?

Sunday, February 02, 2014

The Writing Life: Louise Gluck

Literary Orphans

Best hamburger I've had in an age in Pacific Beach. Eat and watch the ocean.

If you have a minute, check out the great zine LITERARY ORPHANS, which doesn't make a penny from their efforts and still manages to illustrate their stories brilliantly. A class production.