Saturday, September 18, 2004

When It comes to old serials, I'm a sucker for the ones with Rocketman. You put a guy in a rocket suit, and I'm there. In one serial, the Rocketman was known as Commander Cody, Sky Marshal of the Universe. I always wondered how a guy attained that office. Is it elected or appointed? I think it was made clear in SKY CAPTAIN that Joe was a mercenary, so maybe Sky Marshal of the Universe is, like Sky Captain, a self-appointed rank. Posted by Hello

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

I grew up during the 1940s and 1950s. The world was a different place then. One way it was different, at least in Mexia, Texas, is that on Saturday afternoon all the kids I knew, and plenty of others besides, went to the double feature at the Palace Theater. The Palace, in spite of the name, was a pretty ratty place, but that didn't matter to its clientele. For about a dime, we got to see two cowboy movies (Johnny Mack Brown, Charles Starrett, Rex Allen, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Allan Rocky Lane, Whip Wilson, Lash LaRue, Monte Hale, Tex Ritter, and you know all the rest). We also got a cartoon, previews of coming attractions, and a serial. Probably my favorite part of the whole afternoon was the serial. Why? I don't really know. I do know that my earliest movie memory is going to the Palace with my grandfather. I have no idea what the movie was, but the serial was The Phantom. At the end of the chapter we saw, The Phantom was sinking into a bed of quicksand. I remembered that scene vividly for well over 50 years, and finally, a few years ago when The Phantom was released on DVD, I got to see how he escaped.

So what does all this have to do with anything? Well, yesterday I went to see Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. And I loved it. It was the next best thing to being six years old, back at the Palace Theater. I just sat there with a silly grin on my face for the entire running time and enjoyed the heck out of it.

Yesterday I posted a link to Roger Ebert's review of the movie and recommended it highly, especially the second paragraph. After I posted that, I read James Reasoner's blog, where he comments on a book by Milton Lesser. I highly commend James's comments to you because he echoes Ebert's remarks. And like both of them, I have no problem overlooking the ridiculous plotting and the pseudo-science of something like Sky Captain or Secret of the Black Planet. Those things aren't the point. Having a good time is the point, and at Sky Captain I certainly did that.

Friday, September 17, 2004



I recommend that you check out Roger Ebert's review of Sky Captain, especially the second paragraph.

The SF Site Featured Review: Phases of the Moon: Stories of Six Decades

The SF Site Featured Review: Phases of the Moon: Stories of Six Decades: "Phases of the Moon: Stories of Six Decades
Robert Silverberg, Subterranean Press, 630 pages" A review by Jayme Lynn Blaschke

I've talked about Robert Silverberg here before, and this is an excellent review of the book Ed Gorman mentioned in his blog last month. I just gotta buy a copy of this, even though I'm sure I have most of the stories in anthologies already.

Hand Shadows by Henry Bursill

Hand Shadows by Henry Bursill: "Project Gutenberg's Hand Shadows To Be Thrown Upon The Wall, by Henry Bursill"

Some of you might even be old enough to remember amusing yourselves this way when you were kids.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The first two Hard Case Crime books are on the stands around here, and I like the way they look. The first one, GRIFTER'S GAME, is a reprint of Lawrence Block's first Gold Medal Book, MONA. The one pictured above is the line's first paperback original. I started reading it last night, and from the very first paragraph I knew I was going to like it. It's set in the 1950s, with a tough-talking narrator and an untrustworthy blonde. Right there you've got something. And of course the throwback cover is a nice touch. One of the next books, LITTLE GIRL LOST by Richard Aleas (get it?) has a new McGuinniss cover. I'll probably wind up buying these books just to collect them. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Me Gotta Go Now

Me Gotta Go Now: "Me Gotta Go Now"

Check out the new stamps on Dave Lewis's blog today.

Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind

Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind: "Generation Gaps"

Sarah has a good post on the generation thing, and there are a lot of thoughtful comments from her readers, too.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Ed's Place

Ed's Place: "Richard Matheson

I can't think of any writer of our time who has written as many acknowledged masterpieces as Richard Matheson. Combine I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man, Hell House, What Dreams May Come, Bid Time Return, A Stir of Echoes, Journal of The Gun Years, and a few others--and who else comes close?"

Ed Gorman's comments about Richard Matheson are as good an occasion as any for me to repeat one of my favorite stories about the power of books. When I Am Legend appeared in paperback, I bought it off the spinning rack in DeGuire's Bookstore in Mexia, Texas. I thought it was about the best thing I'd ever read, so I read it again about a week later. I still thought it was great (I was only 13 or so at the time, but fifty years later, I still think so). A couple of years later, I let a friend borrow it. He told me once, a long time afterward, that he couldn't believe that anyone would let him borrow such a wonderful book. He bought his own copy and became an avid SF reader after that, and a collector as well. He let another friend of ours borrow his copy, and a month or so ago I saw that friend for the first time in many years. One of the things he mentioned was how much he'd enjoyed reading SF when we were in high school, and the first book he mentioned was I Am Legend.

Just finished reading this one. Very different from Williams' crime novels. The narrator is 7-year-old Billy Noonan. His father and his Uncle Sagamore are direct descendants of the King and the Duke from HUCKLEBERRY FINN. (I could prove this by sophisticated literary analysis, but I'll spare you.) I think the book was also influenced by John Faulkner's CABIN ROAD series.  Posted by Hello

Monday, September 13, 2004

eBay Udate

For those of you who've been on tenterhooks waiting to hear about my eBay woes (see below if you missed the post), I've finally (after another e-mail or two) received a response from the dealer who sent the wrong magazine. He tells me that he'll send out the correct magazine on Tuesday and that I can keep the one I already have. If he comes though, then I'll have to give him positive feedback. After all, it's not every day I get a free magazine.

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear : "Nostalgia isn't what it used to be." -- Peter DeVries

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear : "Nostalgia isn't what it used to be." -- Peter DeVries Some enterprising soul discovered that on this site one could locate copies of the scripts from those old-time radio programs sponsored by the likes of Camel and Lucky Strike; for example, you can download (in .pdf form) scripts from The Jack Benny Program, The Abbott & Costello Show, Blondie, Richard Diamond, etc. (A few of the scripts won’t download properly due to missing pages, but I worked around that problem.) To me, the most interesting find was a cache of scripts of The Jimmy Durante Show from 1948-50; there are only three shows available from that period so the scripts are an amazing discovery (there are also a handful of scripts from The Durante-Moore Show as well).

This is a pretty interesting discovery, all right!

Hardluck Stories

Hardluck Stories: "Over There" by Gary Warren Niebuhr

The new issue of hardluckstories is on-line and it's well worth your time. I'm happy to say that a friend name Gary Warren Niebuhr has a good story in this issue, which was edited by Al Guthrie, author of Two-Way Split.

New York Post Online Edition: postopinion

New York Post Online Edition: postopinion: "September 13, 2004 -- FOR me, it's a sign of summer's end as cer tain as leaves chang ing colors: Teary-eyed freshmen turning up at my office to complain about their English placement-test results. How is it possible, they want to know, that they got A's in English classes throughout high school, took honors English courses as seniors . . . and still managed to fail an entry-level college exam that requires them only to analyze a few short reading passages and write a rudimentary narrative essay?"

Sounds like I wrote it myself. I remember all too well hearing exactly the same story many, many times.


Armadillo: "At this point, I knocked off for a quick dinner, and rejoined the con at 7:00 for a panel on 'Movies That Should be Remade'. In addition to the aforementioned Klaw and Finn (sounds like an animal act), Bill Crider, one of the elder statesmen, and Howard Waldrop joined in this panel. This panel was probably more serious than you might have thought, because the participants were very knowledgeable and had very good assessment of what worked (and couldn't work again) and what didn't work (and could never be made to work) in some classic and not-so-classic movies."

Someone sent me this review of Armadillocon, which confirms my worst fears. "Elder statesman," indeed. Well, at least he didn't say, "Old fart."

Sunday, September 12, 2004

New Template

I decided to update my template, and this is how it came out. I like it well enough to go with it. Besides, I'm afraid to try to change it again.

Here's the book by Charles Williams mentioned in a post below. Great stuff! Posted by Hello

94Country WKKJ - The Best Country Around - Chillicothe, Ohio

94Country WKKJ - The Best Country Around - Chillicothe, Ohio: "Smash hit 1970s American TV show Happy Days is set to return for a one-off special later this year.

The two hour reunion Happy Days 30, which will feature original cast members including Henry Winkler and Ron Howard, is being filmed to mark the 30th anniversary of the program's first episode in 1974."

Being an old geezer, I think of Happy Days as a fairly recent TV series.