Thursday, June 10, 2004

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear : Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
I have no idea what I'm doing, except that I'm trying out a new feature of called "Blog This." One blog that I read nearly every day is Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, where I learned some really interesting biographical stuff about Brian Donlevy. Maybe it will show up here, and maybe not. We'll see. OK, it works. All you have to do to see what I'm talking about is click on the link at the beginning of this entry.
Ray Charles has died. I've been listening to his music for nearly 50 years, and I still remember the first time I ever heard "What'd I Say." I was in a car full of teenagers driving down the highway between Mexia and Corsicana, Texas. We were listening to WRR, a station out of Dallas, and the song came on. We nearly went nuts. They called Ray Charles "The Genius." When it came to music, I guess he was.
Tomorrow I'm going to a high school reunion. I know some people hate those things, but I happen to enjoy them. I went to a small high school, and there were about 60 people in my graduating class. When we graduated in 1959, many of us had been attending school together since the first grade. If you count the time that we spent together outside the classroom (band, football games, and other school activities, not to mention dating), you'll realize that for 12 years I spent more time with a lot of those people than I did with my family. So it's no wonder that they still mean a lot to me and that I enjoy seeing them whenever I can. I'm always interested to hear how they've spent their lives and what they're doing now. It happens that 45 years have passed since our graduation, a fact that's hard for me to wrap my mind around. I still remember certain things from those days with a crystal clarity. Good times.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

OK, I know you've been on tenterhooks while waiting for me to talk more about my favorite doo-wop groups. Certainly one of them is the Drifters. Here's a group that went through so many personnel changes that I can't remember them all, including changing the lead singer again and again, yet for ten years or so they remained reliable hitmakers. My favorite configuration was the one with Clyde McPhatter singing lead, and I also like McPhatter's singles a lot. Other groups I really like are Dion and the Belmonts, chiefly for two or three recordings, including one of the all-time best, "I Wonder Why." I also like the Crests quite a bit. "16 Candles" is the one everybody seems to remember, but they did some other great stuff as well.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

When it comes to music, I'm hopelessly stuck in the past, just another example that proves I'm a case of arrested development. I listen mostly to music from the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s, though there are some notable exceptions. I have a weakness for vocal group harmony, particularly of the doo-wop variety, which might explain why I liked the music from the late 1950s folk book so much. Not that there was any resemblance to doo-wop. The harmony was what drew me in. The folk era group that I liked most was the Kingston Trio, and I still like them. (Click on the G-Strings link for more.) I'm partial to the first configuration of the trio, the one that featured Dave Guard, Nick Reynolds, and Bob Shane. Tomorrow, I'll write a little about my favorite doo-wop groups.

Monday, June 07, 2004

One of the blogs I read every day is Ed Gorman's, found a Just click on "Ed's Place." Recently he's given out the good news that several of Stephen Marlowe's books will be coming back into print through Ed's new imprint with Wildside Press. More good news (for me, at least) is that Wildside, through its PointBlank imprint will be bringing back my Truman Smith series. But I digress. I was talking about Stephen Marlowe. When I was a kid, I loved his stories under various names in the old SF digests I read, particularly the "Johnny Mayhem" series he did as, I think, Milton Lesser. A little later on, I started reading his Gold Medal books about a private-eye named Chester Drum. Not to mention his books as "Andrew Frazier" and "Jason Ridgway." He's still writing, so I have even more books of his to look forward to.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

From 1971 until 1973 I taught English at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas. I was department chair from 1977 until 1983, having taken over from Dr. George C. Pittman, who had gone to be the chair at Mississippi College. Last weekend, George and his wife, Alicia, who have moved back to Texas, had a reunion of some of the HPU faculty from the early 1970s. Judy and I hadn't seen some of them in 25 years or more, and it was terrific to see them again. We were all great friends in the '70s, and we picked up as if no time at all had passed. The photos that some people brought from those long-ago days proved something about the ravages of time, but I'd rather not dwell on that. I thought everyone looked great. There was a little more gray hair, and a couple of us had gained a pound or two, but that was all. We had some wonderful times at Howard Payne, thanks mainly to the people we met there. Seeing them again was a rare treat.