Wednesday, July 26, 2017


What piece of jewelry evokes a book or a movie for you? Probably not too many. The ruby necklace in PRETTY WOMAN was a nice touch. And, of course, the locket from THE LOCKET.

Of course, Guy De Maupassant's THE NECKLACE is the most famous example. 

And thanks to a pal (Anon) we know THE LOCKET is on TCM on August 6 early in the morning. I have my DVR fired up. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

This is the Show That Introduced Megan to old Movies

Tuesday Music

Forgotten Movies: THE LOCKET

If someone asked me what film sent Megan running toward noir, I would name this film.I remember her watching it like it was yesterday.

Eerie, surprising, complex. I look for it on TCM sometimes and never see it. It's a B cast (Larraine Day, Brian Aherne, Robert Mitchun)  but it works.The movie was known for its extensive and skillful use of flashbacks.Have you seen it?

Monday, July 24, 2017


Although I can't say that the movie DUNKIRK made me happy, it did make me glad to see how seriously Christopher Nolan took his task in bringing that battle to life. His method of showing it through three narratives worked well for me. And the sense of self-sacrifice exhibited by many characters in that film reminded me that good people still exist. I especially enjoyed the performance of Mark Rylance, who is always spot on.

I was very happy at how well my meeting with the book group who read SHOT IN DETROIT went. This was a group of women who had been together for almost fifty years. I think my book was difficult for some of them (unlikable protagonist issues), but they were good sports, asked smart questions, made good observations, Some of them were Survivors and how I would love to hear their stories. All of them were still engaged by life, books, movies, lectures. What a great afternoon.

Also enjoyed my own book group as we discussed LOVING DAY, Mat Johnson's novel is about being bi-racial. The woman who hosted it was a widow of two months. What strength it must take to force yourself out in the world so quickly. She promised her husband she would do this and she was keeping that promise.

And my third group of women, that meets Thursday mornings, always manages to make me happy. As we bat around current events and personal issues, munching on fruit and drinking tea or coffee, we always leave smiling.

I am also happy that Phil has found two groups of men to meet with. The Hump Day group, meeting Wednesday afternoon, is very large and their speaker didn't turn up this week, so they pelted Phil with questions about the presidency. It was good for him to talk about his scholarship again. His Sunday group, much smaller,  talks more about sports, politics, etc.

This new community has been so good for us. I am so happy we moved when we did.

Friday, July 21, 2017

FFB: Heist Week, July 21, 2017

 HEIST SOCIETY (No. 1) Ally Carter

I spent a lot of time, a really lot of time, looking for the right book to read for this topic. Although I have seen dozens of movies about heists, I had never read one. Well. maybe I had and just don't remember it. I must have read a Westlake one.
I took a handful of books out of the library, and none of them grabbed me. Although I loved the topic onscreen, perhaps for me heists are visual subjects.
As I looked for books online, the name Ally Carter kept popping up. I saw her first book in a series was available for almost nothing online so I downloaded it, still not realizing it was a YA book. I don't read YA books really. Well, I read THE HUNGER GAMES and the Greene one about the girl with cancer but on the whole, no.
And then I became fascinated with how an author was going to write a series about a girl burglar. How could she justify it satisfactorily? She certainly didn't want to encourage teenage crime.
She gets off the hook by having her heroine disavow a life of crime and then constructing the plot around the idea that the girl's father is accused of stealing famous paintings. And it is up to Katarina Bishop to find the stolen paintings and prove it was not the work of her father. To this end, she does the time-honored thing and assembles a group of teens to help her.
Carter manages to be witty and fun throughout the book and yet, I found it wanting. I can see that full-fledged adults would be able to read this for the fun of it without thinking the author was endorsing a life of crime. Yet if a twelve year old reads this, what is their takeaway? I am not sure.. I guess my uncertainty stems from the fact that I was reading adult novels and not YA novels from 12-16. So yes, I was reading some pretty questionable narratives in terms of morality. But those books were not written with a teenage reader in mind. If you are writing YA, what is your responsibility? Yes, Katarina only steals for the greater good. But she puts herself, (a fifteen  year old) in harms way to do it. Carter has written several more additions to this series. I am pretty sure they are based on the same formula: Katarina is asked to use her gift for humanity's good.
Looking at the reviews of this book afterwards, clearly the majority of readers saw it as a romance. Maybe as it should be seen. Maybe all YA girls see books as romantic.

The H connotes books that deal with a heist or a similar theme. 

Yvette Banek, ARROW POINTING NOWHERE, Elizabeth Daly
Joe Barone, MERCY FALLS, William Ken Kruger
Les Blatt, CLUTCH OF CONSTABLES, Ngaio March
Elgin Bleecker, THE MONEY TRAP, Lionel White (H)
Alice Chang, THE HOW OF HAPPINESS, Sonia Lyubomirsky
Bill Crider, ROSS MACDONALD'S INWARD JOURNEY, Ralph Sipper. ed
Rick Horton, Ring Around the Sun, by Clifford D. Simak/Cosmic Manhunt, by L. Sprague de Camp
Jerry House, BLOOD ON THE MOON, Basil Cooper
George Kelley, MARILYN K and THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR, Lionel White (H)
Margot Kinberg, TALKING TO THE DEAD, Harry Bingham
Rob Kitchin, DEAD WATER, Ann Cleves
K.A. Laity, FRENCHMEN'S CREEK, Daphne DuMaurier (H)
Evan Lewis, Forgotten Adaptations of Books
Steve Lewis/Bill Pronzini, A TASTE OF ASHES, Howard Browne
Todd Mason,  ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW by William P. McGivern (Dodd, Mead 1957); YA birthday bonus heistlet: FROM THE MIXED UP FILES OF MRS BASIL E. FRANKWEILER by E. L. Konigsburg (H)
J.F. Norris, DEAD RECKONING. Bruce Hamilton
Matt Paust, WHERE THE MONEY WAS, Willie Sutton with Edward Linn (H)
James Reasoner, HIGH LONESOME, Lous L'Amour; WE ARE ALL DEAD, Bruno Fischer (H)
Richard Robinson, A SIX-LETTER WORD FOR DEATH, Patricia Moyes
Gerard Saylor, THE UNBURIED DEAD, Douglas Lindsay
TomCat, BOOK OF MURDER, Frederick Irving Anderson

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The writers for THE DEUCE begin an outline for the second season in Baltimore. That's James Franco in the rear with the baseball cap. David Simon next to him. Price on the other side. Pelecanos, Lisa Lutz and Megan up front. Don't know the others.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What Book Has Been in on Your TBR the longest and why haven't you either read it or ditched it?

Well, of course, there is more than one. And generally, they are books that came highly recommended or I wouldn't still have them, books I at least gave a start to, but then put aside. Books I know I should read but never seem to. And usually they are books known for a high violence quotient that I am sort of scared of.
Like THE KILLER INSIDE ME by Jim Thompson or SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER by David Goodis.

What about you?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Based on the novel, THE COUNTRY GIRL, by Edna O'Brien, Rita Tushingham brings her winsome charm to the story of a girl's first love affair, with an older novelist.More than movies about teenagers from Hollywood of this era, which seemed to be always set on a beach, this reminds me of my youth.

I am a great fan of British cinema from this era. Do you have a favorite film from the UK? 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Things That Made Me Happy

I made arrangements to put up a new fence across our backyard. We have to wait until October however. Apparently the dearth of people willing to work for the kind of low wages places like this pay has cut down on their employee pool. I heard the same thing from a few other places recently. I will be very glad to have a fence that isn't falling over come October. Just in time for snow.

Saw an interesting documentary about Gertrude Bell, who was a founder of modern day Baghdad. Her accomplishments were many. The footage the film had from 1920s Iraq was amazing.

I am going to talk to a book group this week about SHOT IN DETROIT. I have always been somewhat worried about this because I'm a transplant to Detroit and have been afraid I got some of it wrong. Or was in someway exploitative. Crossed fingers it goes well.

So happy Phil, Josh and Kevin got to see the Tigers win. The white stuff on Phil's face is zinc from the sun bloc.

Grantchester on PBS is going in unexpected directions. All three major characters are having crises unrelated to crime-solving. Bravo for making me interested in their lives as much as their crimes.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, July 14, 2017

Todd Mason will have the links today. I really appreciate the help he has extended me through this trying year. Although there is no sign of cancer on the last scan, the oncologist has recommended six weeks of radiation and low dose chemo (taken as a pill)  as an insurance policy. A second opinion backed this up. We begin Monday.

Next week is heist week for those who have one to recommend.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy star in the his and her film versions of a breakup of a marriage after the death of their infant. Directed by Ned Benson, the two films do not cover exactly the same ground although there are many intersections. The films are a study of grief and how different people and perhaps different sexes handle it differently. Benson eventually made one film of it: THEM.

The supporting cast is excellent and includes: Isabelle Huppert, William Hurt, Viola Davis, Bill Hader, Ciaran Hinds. This is a painful movie but well worth your time for the excellent acting and believable plot. There is real chemistry between the leads and you root for them to find their way back to each other.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Longer Trailer for THE DEUCE

Things That Make Me Happy

Two years ago I came to Huntington Woods from a neighborhood where I rarely saw people on the streets. Now if I look out my window, there is always someone walking, riding their bike, pushing a stroller, skate-boarding. In couples or threesomes. In families, In bike brigades. Many lawns bear signs saying NO HATE HERE or similar sentiments. I am grateful to live in a place where people care about each other. I am grateful to be where people are embracing.

Enjoyed the Fourth of July parade in Huntington Woods. It mostly seems to be about throwing candy and politicians making themselves known but I guess that's normal

Kevin is working on a comic book series called Nuggetman. He has about a dozen issues of it. Nuggetman throws a lot of people in jail. (Kevin seems to like drawing jailhouse pictures). At the end of each issue, he includes a crossword puzzle (just for show) and a page showing how he created Nuggetman. He also enacts his adventures on video with his friends.

He is also getting good on the guitar, especially for a ten-year old. The big difference has been twice a week lessons and Mondays is with the studio's rock band. Learning with other kids instead of just one- to- one has spurred him on. I am amazed at how much music is already tucked into that head.

And I am thrilled at how Kevin's parents make sure he gets to sample everything. This summer he is going to see Treasure Island at Stratford, doing a  hockey camp, doing a tech camp, doing the guitar lessons, doing an all-purpose camp. He has polished off most of Judy Blume in the last few months. I am so sorry for the kids whose parents cannot afford this sort of enrichment. It used to be the schools stepped in with music and art, but no longer. Speaking of which...

I met an artist at an art fair on Saturday who told me he learned his craft of jewelry making while at Cass Tech High School in Detroit. I wonder how many high schools are still able to offer such an specific class. Cass Tech was the jewel of what was once a fantastic school system.

Really enjoyed the movie THE BIG SICK although the combination of Ray Romano and Holly Hunter's quirky voices can wear thin. Note to film-makers: one odd voice is probably enough.

I also found BABY DRIVER rather thrilling. The plot does not hold up to scrutiny but boy, it's a good time. The music is a knockout. The car chases are amazing.

Have enjoyed the series SHETLAND on Netflix. It is so well cast and Scotland looks terrific if a little forbidding.

I really enjoyed Karen Dionne's THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER . We were amazed at Karen's knowledge of living in the wilderness but the mystery was solved by an article in a UK paper that explains she did just that for three years. You can read it here.

So what are you up to?

Friday, July 07, 2017

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, July 7, 2017

Todd Mason will have the links next week

(from the archives) Sarah J. Wesson is a local history librarian by day, writer of con-game fiction by night, and all-around sleep-deprived, chai latte addict.

THE CASE OF THE LUCKY LEGS, Erle Stanley Gardiner
While Earle Stanley Gardiner can hardly be called a forgotten author, nor Perry Mason a forgotten character, the books that first introduced these icons to the public appear to be fading from memory. Or at least they are in my library, where most of them have been relegated to the large print shelves so that the patrons who grew up reading about the singular cases of the granite-hard defense attorney can enjoy them without squinting.
The earliest Gardiner in our collection is The Case of the Lucky Legs. First published in 1933, it was the fifth of what would be roughly eighty-two Perry Mason adventures. Stilted by our standards, with rigid standards of grammar and punctuation, and---heaven forbid---not a few adverbs, this mystery still grabs the imagination and keeps it there until the last page.
The case starts with a provocative photograph of a pair of shapely female legs, sent to the lawyer by a prominent businessman, who wants Mason to do something about a fraud that has hurt a young lady of his acquaintance. It seems that a movie studio man has been conning innocent girls into competing in a Lucky Legs contest, the winner of which is promised a screen career that never materializes. Unfortunately, there is no legal recourse unless the con man confesses.
Unlike the televised, post World War II Perry Mason who has entered our cultural lexicon, the Perry Mason of the 1930s wasn't afraid to get his hands or his ethics dirty---he basically agrees beat a confession out of the huckster, though he does pause to square this plan with the county prosecutor before heading to the man’s hotel. In the lobby, he bumps into a frightened young lady with good-looking gams, so it comes as no surprise---to the reader or our hero---that Mason discovers the murdered body of the con man. Moments before the police arrive, alerted by a neighbor who heard a woman’s screams, Mason extracts himself by a bit of slick trickery and gets to work.
It seems odd that Perry Mason doesn’t set foot in a courtroom in Lucky Legs---he didn't settle into regular trial work until later in the series. It’s clear that Gardiner is till getting to know his character and hadn’t quite settled on his formula. But Mason does tamper with a crime scene, trap himself in a legal corner or two, smoke enough to stun a camel, and bring the murderer to justice at the fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour despite numerous red herrings. Furthermore, his client is as lovely and clueless as they come and the man footing the bill is an interfering, opinionated pain in the tuchus. Della Street is smart, sassy, and loyal, while Paul Drake is hangdog, hungry, and resourceful.
These are among the golden elements that have kept Perry Mason going for almost eighty years. They’re well worth a revival, not only as the prototypes to modern legal procedurals or slices of social history, but as terrific who-on-earth-dunnits.
I confess that I check out these books fairly often to keep them off the weeding reports. If that's a crime, I doubt even Hamilton Berger, Mr. Mason's D.A. foil and frenemy, could bring himself to prosecute.

Yvette Banek, THE EMPEROR's SNUFF BOX, John Dickson Carr
Joe Barone, SEARCH THE DARK, Charles Todd
Les Blatt, DETECTION BY GASLIGHT, Douglas G. Greene
Elgin Bleecker, THE KILLING, Lionel White
Bill Crider, DESERT STAKEOUT, Harry Whittington
Martin Edwards, NECK AND NECK, Leo Bruce
Curt Evans, MURDER IN PASTICHE, Marion Mainwaring
Elisabeth Grace Foley, TISH, Mary Roberts Rinehart
Richard Horton,  STEPSONS OF TERRA, by Robert Silverberg/ A MAN CALLED DESTINY, by Lan Wright
Jerry House, THE GIRL FROM HOLLYWOOD, Edgar Rice Burroughs
Nick Jones, Science Fiction Books Bought Near Brighton Station 
George Kelley, MISKATONIC UNIVERSITY, Martin H. Greenberg and Robert Greenberg
B.V. Lawson, DEATH AND THE SKY ABOVE, Paul Winterton
Evan Lewis, RED HORSE, Will Murray
Steve Lewis, DEATH PULLS A DOUBLE CROSS, Lawrence Block
Todd Mason,  PULLING OUR OWN STRINGS: FEMINIST HUMOR & SATIRE edited by Gloria Kaufman and Mary Kay Blakely
Matt Paust, RANDOM HARVEST, James Hilton
James Reasoner, HELL'S RECRUIT, Phil Richards
Richard Robinson, THE COMING FURY, Bruce Catton
Gerard Saylor, THE RIVALRY, Norman Curwin
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, DEATH OF A SNOB,  M.C. Beaton
TomCat, THE DA DRAWS A CIRCLE, Erle Stanley Gardner
TracyK, TRACK OF THE CAT, Nevada Barr
Zybahn, BOOK OF BLOOD, VOl 1, Clive Barker

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

HUNGER, Roxane Gay

'I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.'
New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay

This is an exceptional book although a very painful one. I cannot recall a memoir more painful. Roxane Gay, a professor and the author of several other works, lays out the pivotal event in her life. The event that sent her on an eating binge that still goes on. At 12, she was gang-raped by a group of boys. Her accelerated eating quickly followed this. Her thinking was that if she was large, she would be less vulnerable. And she is large at 6'4 and of varying weights. In HUNGER, she tells us everything about herself: the shame she feels at her weight, the horrible insults hurled at her in person and through social media, the difficulties being fat incurs, all of it. You can find many interviews with Professor Gay on you tube if you'd like to hear her. Or read the book. It took her almost thirty years to tell her story--and she tells it all. Brave woman.

Whose memoir moved you? 

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Happy Fourth of July

What is your favorite patriotic movie? SAVING PRIVATE RYAN perhaps.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Things That Make Me Happy

So happy to see three terrific plays at Stratford: GUYS AND DOLLS, THE BACCHAE and HMS PINAFORE. Stratford never fails to impress with their terrific staging, acting, singing, etc. Truly they are the gem of Canada.If you are in traveling distance, try to get there.

Really nice to meet up with Brian Busby in Stratford. He is doing the final edits on his book on forgotten Canadian novels. It will debut in August. Grab a copy. I bet the title sounds familiar.

I am so lucky to have a friend like Todd Mason who helps me out whenever I need help. 

It is always wonderful to be in Canada where life seems sane again. Happy 150th to the best neighbors ever.  

What makes you happy this week?


Friday, June 30, 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION: These Anthony nominated PBO books will be priced at a bargain for the next week.


Salem Wiley is a genius cryptanalyst, courted by the world’s top security agencies ever since her quantum computing breakthrough. She’s also an agoraphobe shackled to a narrow routine since her father’s suicide. When her intelligence work unexpectedly exposes a sinister plot to assassinate the country's first viable female presidential candidate, Salem finds herself both target and detective in a modern day witch hunt. Drawn into a labyrinth of messages encrypted by Emily Dickinson and codes tucked inside the Beale Cipher a hundred years earlier, Salem begins to uncover the truth: an ancient and ruthless group is hell-bent on ruling the world, and only a select group of women stands in its way.

BIO:  Jess Lourey  is best known for her critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries. Jess also writes sword and sorcery fantasy, edge-of-your-seat YA adventure, and magical realism, literary fiction, and feminist thrillers. She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology. Her book Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction, which walks readers through the process of transforming personal experience into page-turning fiction, released May 2017.

Jay Stringer was born in 1980. Born in the Black Country, he claims Glasgow as his hometown. He writes hard boiled crime stories, dark comedies, and social fiction.
His first three books, the Eoin Miller Trilogy explored the political and criminal landscape of the West Midlands. 
He now writes books set in Glasgow and New York. You can find more out about him here.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, June 23, 2017

Todd will be taking the helm next week as we travel to Stratford to see GUYS AND DOLLS, H.M.S. PINAFORE and THE BACCHAE. Thanks, Todd

Andrew Nette is a writer of fiction and non-fiction, reviewer and pulp scholar.
He is the author of two novels, Ghost Money, a crime story set in Cambodia in the mid-nineties, and Gunshine State.
He is co-editor of Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980, which will be released by PM Press in late 2017.

The Song Is You
, Megan Abbott
The Song is You is only the second Megan Abbott book I’ve read, but it’s cemented her place in the select group of authors whose work I recommend to friends with undisguised envy about what awaits them.
Hell, can Abbott write and her take on post-Second World War Hollywood is distinctive and razor sharp.
The Song Is You focuses on Gil ‘Hop’ Hopkins, a studio publicity man/fixer/pimp whose beat is “the world of trouble between mid-night and seven am”. Whether it’s rescuing starlets from opium dens and rough trade or procuring quickie abortions for leading men and studio heads who want to maintain their happily married public personas, it’s just a job for Hopkins.
He does what he’s told and doesn’t ask questions until he gets involved in the disappearance of starlet Jean Spangler, two years missing with no clues other than a mysterious note and a swirl of rumours. They shared a moment, if you can call it that, the night before Jean disappeared. A group of them had been drinking hard and they ended up in a seedy harbour side bar, where Hop left Jean in the company of a couple of big name studio crooners with a reputation for playing very rough.
Girls like Jean, drawn to Tinseltown from dust bowl towns across America with stars in the eyes and hopes of making it big, are a dime a dozen in Hop’s world. He’d hardly given her a second thought until a friend of Jean’s makes contact, accusing him of being one of the people responsible for her disappearance.
Soon, fueled by guilt and the need to protect his own arse he’s investigating every last detail about the night in question.
There’s a hard-bitten female journalist who is also looking into Jean’s disappearance, plenty of mob connections and a whiff that Jean may have been involved in her own illegal scam. There’s also plenty of sex. It positively oozes from the pores of the story, amid the mood lighting, calypso music, tiki torches and martinis.
The parallels between The Song Is You and Ellroy’s Black Dahlia are obvious, their noir sensibility, the era they are set in, their mix of fact and fiction, right down to their raven-haired party-girl victims. But there’s something about Abbott’s book that sets it apart.
I think big part of it is her less is more style. This allows her to hint at horrendous events, introduce the sleaziest characters and take us to the very worst places, without collapsing into clichΓ©. She’s also a master of allowing class, sex and social observation to collide in a way that does take away from the precision of her plot and characters.

Sergio Angelini, THE BURNING COURT, John Dickson Carr
Mark Baker, FORCE OF HABIT, Alice Loweecy
Yvette Banek, WAY STATION, Clifford D. Simak
Les Blatt,A SCREAM IN SOHO, John G. Brandon
Bill Crider, LOST HORIZONS, James Hilton 
Scott Cupp, The Continental Op: The Complete Case Files by Dashiell Hammett, 1923 – 1930, Edited by Richard Laymon and Julie M. Rivett 
Martin Edwards, THE CASE OF THE GILDED FLY, Edmund Crispin 
Curt Evans, BOMBAY MAIL, Lawrence Blochman
Richard Horton, CASTLE GARAC, Nicholas Monsarrat
Jerry House, Two by Edgar Rice Burroughs
George Kelley, WAR AND PEACE, Leo Tolstoy
Margot Kinberg, FALLING ANGEL, William Hjortsberg
B.V. Lawson, THE GRAND BABYLON HOTEL, Arnold Bennett
Evan Lewis, POPEYE, E.C. Segar
Todd Mason, THE DUTTON REVIEW, ed. Jerome Charyn et al
Matt Paust, GOD'S RED GIFT, Louis S. Warren
Gerard Saylor, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, Neil Gaiman
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, DARK PASSAGE, David Goodis
TomCat, DEATH INVITES YOU, Paul Halter

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Watched BECOMING CARY GRANT last night (Showtime) It  was more poignant than jolly and only told the story from the vantage point of his unpublished memoirs.. I have to wonder if there is any film clip more often shown than the one from NORTH BY NORTHWEST where he flees from a murderous crop duster.Can you think of one?Also what is your favorite Cary Grant movie? Nearly impossible to choose just one.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday's Forgotten Movies: THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST (1988)

This was one of my favorite Anne Tyler novels and the movie is faithful to the book. William Hurt nails his role. And Geena Davis does too. Like so many of Tyler's characters these are uniformly eccentric yet lovable people. And the Baltimore setting works (hope it isn't Toronto again) .
When a travel writer loses his wife (neither can recover from the death of a child), he moves back in with his siblings and finds a dog whisperer to help him with his dog and eventually with his life. A nice little movie. Kathleen Turner is in it too little though. This was directed by Lawrence Kasdan who also directed Hurt in THE BIG CHILL.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Things That Make Me Happy

Spending Father's Day with Phil, Josh and Kevin (as well as Julie, Kevin's mom). A nice day indeed.

I expect I will have more to be happy about next week. This week sort of ran over me with doctor and dentist appts. A movie I expected to like but really didn.t. Books I expected to like but didn't.

Hope you had more to be happy about than I did.

Most of my satisfaction came from TV shows. MASTER OF SEX, BETTER CALL SAUL and I LOVE DICK. It took me the entire series to get to a good place with I LOVE DICK. But GRANTCHESTER and THE TUNNEL are back tonight. So maybe next week is going to be euphoric.

REMINDER: HEIST NOVELS FOR FFB on July 14. Let me know if you think you are too busy to be doing this.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, June 16, 2017

LEVINE, by Donald Westlake (reviewed by Dana King, archives)

Donald Westlake is best known for humorous crime fiction under his own name, and for the dark Parker stories published under the Richard Stark pseudonym. Levine, a 1984 collection of short stories originally published in mystery magazines between 1959 and 1984, is something else entirely.

Abe Levine is a detective in New York's 43rd Precinct. A gentle man, Levine is morbidly aware of his entry into what were then referred to as "the heart attack years." A common thread through all the stories is the frequency with which Levine's heart skips a beat, and how conscious this makes him of the fragility of life. His distaste for artificially hastened death, and his almost humanitarian desire to see those responsible brought to justice, must always be weighed against the effects of his efforts on his own deteriorating heart.

Few literary cops combine Levine's gentle and fragile nature with his passion for justice. The introduction to the collection contains Westlake's explanation for Levine's creation: "It has become the convention that policemen, professional detectives, are 'hardened' to death, 'immune' to life untimely nipped…It was the idea of a cop, a police detective, who was so intensely aware of his own inevitable death that he wound up hating people who took the idea of death frivolously that led me to Abe Levine."

LEVINE is, unfortunately, out of print, so the public library or a used bookstore will be required. While Abe Levine stands apart from Westlake's better known characters, the careful plotting and mastery of craft present in all of his work is not lacking. Anyone looking for something different from a familiar hand could hardly do better than to hunt up a copy of LEVI

Sergio Angelini, FAT OLLIE'S BOOK, Ed McBain
Mark Baker, BLOOD WORK, Michael Connelly
Yvette Banek, A BLUNT INSTRUMENT, Georgette Heyer
Joe Barone, BLOOD HOLLOW, William Kent Kruger
Les Blatt, THE RELIGIOUS BODY, Catherine Aird
Bill Crider, THE CRITIC'S CHOICE: THE BEST OF CRIME AND DETECTIVE TV, Max Allan Collins and Allan Javna
Scott Cupp, THE DEEP BLUE GOODBYE, John D. MacDonald
Martin Edwards, THE LYTTLETON CASE, R.A.V. Morris
Curt Evans,  Kindertotenlieder: A Question of Inheritance  and Easy Prey  by Josephine Bell
Richard Horton,  Space Captain by Murray Leinster/The Mad Metropolib by Philip E. High
Jerry House, TOM SWIFT AND HIS BIG TUNNEL, Howard. R..Garris
George Kelley, THE STAR TREK READER, James Blish
Margot Kinberg, RED INK, Angela Makholwa
Evan Lewis,  BIG RED'S DAUGHTER and TOKYO DOLL, John McPartland
Steve Lewis, DREAMING OF BABYLON, Richard Brautigan
Todd Mason, ALIEN CARGO, Theodore Sturgeon
James Reasoner, LATIGO, Frank O'Rourke
Richard Robinson, ORBITAL DECAY, Allen Steele
TracyK, BADGE OF EVIL, Whit Masterson
Westlake Review, THIEVE'S DOZEN, Donald Westlake

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Marlins Go to Championship Game

My thoroughly excellent son took a team that was 1-11 last year and got them to the Championship game. Every kid played, every parent supported them. No one was anything but happy with our boys. Couldn't be prouder of mine.Saturday will be the final game! GO MARLINS!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

My Best 25 Movies of the New Century

THE NEW YORK TIMES film critics listed their picks on Sunday. Here are mine. What would you add? Take away? (No particular order)
BEFORE SUNRISE (and its sequels)
THE DEPARTED (and the earlier Korean version, I(NFERNAL AFFAIRS)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Forgotten Movies: LOVE CRAZY

Celebrating their fourth anniversary, things get out of hand (as you might expect) and to avoid legal hassles, Powell pretends to be crazy. Lots of physical comedy in this one. Did Powell ever look young? Would anyone looking like Powell be a leading man today? But nobody did it better and with Loy, they both shine. Lots of fun but I'll take THE THIN MAN over this trifle.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday Night Music

Things That Make Me Happy

Although we had horrible weather over our two weeks on Cape Cod, we still had a good time. Phil walked his way back to his pre-treatment strength. And that was nearly a year ago now. A lost year in some ways but not in all ways.
We saw an interesting play (SEX WITH STRANGERS) a terrific cello concert, one good movie (WONDER WOMAN) and spent a lot of time with good friends. Not much reading took place although Phil enjoyed DODGERS (Bill Beverly) and THE HOLY THIEF (William Ryan). I read and discarded books. We ate a lot of seafood. Probably a poisonous amount.

It made me happy that the cellist (Amit Peled) is touring with six of his students from the Peabody School of Music. One was only seventeen. All of them were great cellists. Maybe classical music will survive.
I am happy to announce that Polis is going to publish my story collection: I BRING SORROW AND OTHER STORIES OF TRANSGRESSION in early 2018. A lot of them appeared in places unseen by most people and a few are brand new.
Glad to be back though. I have a lot of work to do and it's been a while since I could say that.
And here is a crazy sign we saw in an elevator.
Every fifteen minutes!!!! All of the directions seem strange. I almost took the stairs.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

On a Hiatus Here Until June 12th.

I will check in with your blogs however.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, May 19, 2017

Todd will be collecting links for the next three weeks. I will return on June 16th.


This is the kind of book I used to read all the time twenty years ago and now I remember why. Indridason is a master at plot, creating memorable characters, and evoking Iceland during World War II and today. His detective has a compelling personal life, is likeable,and gets the job done. Indridason balances POVs masterfully-there's never a moment when you wish the writer would get back to solving the mystery.
I can't think of anything that didn't work in this book and this is from someone with adult onset ADD. (From 2007).

Sergio Angelini, THE LAST DANCE, Ed McBain;
Mark Baker, YIP, TUCK, Sparkle Abbey
Yvette Banek, SHE DIED A LADY, Carter Dickson
Les Blatt, ABC MURDERS, Agatha Christie
Brian Busby, GLENGARRY SCHOOL DAYS, Rev. Charles W. Gordon
Bill Crider, RAFFERTY LAST SEEN ALIVE, W; Glenn Duncan
Scott Cupp, DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HOLMES, Loren Estleman
Richard Horton, THE PARADOX MEN, Charles Harness, DOME AROUND AMERICA, Jack Williamson
George Kelley, A TREASURY OF GREAT SCIENCE FICTION, ed. Anthony Boucher
Margot Kinberg, SISTERS OF MERCY, Caroline Ovington
Rob Kitchin, THIRTY-THREE TEETH, Colin Coterill
B.V. Lawson, THE FBI: A CENTENNIAL  HISTORY, Dept. of Justice
Evan Lewis, THE ADVENTURES OF SAM SPADE, Dashiell Hammett
Steve Lewis, THE SURFSIDE CAPER, Louis Trimble
Todd Mason, THE BEST OF MYSTERY, edited by Harold Q Masur
J.F. Norris, MY BONES AND MY FLUTE, Edgar Mittelholzer
Matt Paust, A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY, John Irving
Reactions to Reading, WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE, Gunnar Staalesen
James Reasone, KI-GOR AND THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, John Peter Drummond
Richard Robinson, Sergeant Cluff Stands Firm, Gil North
Gerard Saylor, BLOOD OF VICTORY, Alan Furst
TomCat, THE RUMBLE MURDERS, Henry Ware Eliot
TracyK, Blanche on the Lam, Barbara Neely
Westlake Review, MONEY FOR NOTHING, Part 2

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Forgotten TV: First Episodes: 30 ROCK

(Not from first episode)

I never watched 30 ROCK much when it was on. At the time, I didn't like most of the cast for one reason or the other: bully, can't understand him, disliked  her in Ally McBeal. Really I was wrong about most of it. So I just watched the first episode. I don't know if it was considered a pilot or not.
Anyway, I was mostly admiring of how well Tina Fey and her writing partner wove the characters in and how likable Tina was in her role. (Megan met her at a party and said she was just as nice and down to earth in real life). I will never be fond of Tracy Morgan but I thought he was reasonably good in the part. And Baldwin was terrific from his first line. Although it is hard to see him as anyone other than Trump now. Although that fit too. I think I will watch more 30 ROCKS.

Monday, May 15, 2017


You People, You Make Me Happy


Things That Make Me Happy

Memories of our two trips to Amsterdam. One for six months and one for a week. The tulips dominate the landscape and Dutch culture in general. We lived across the street from the main flower market and the smell of flowers was much in the air.

Two good  movies this week. NORMAN with Richard Gere playing a fixer (or would be fixer) and THEIR FINEST about the British film industry making a propaganda film to buck up spirits. I love movies about making a movies. Do you have a favorite?

Remembering all the good times we had with my mother before her death in 2009. How horrified she would be by the presidency of Donald Trump. Happy Mother's Day, Mom.
Enjoying the Letterman bio although I sure don't come away thinking much of him. It is the story of how a man with little talent was able to get those with a lot to work for him. Maybe that is a talent.

Spending Mother's Day with my son, daughter-in-law, grandson and DIL's mother plus Phil. A lovely day. 

What about you?