Saturday, March 26, 2005

Living in the Past

When I was a kid growing up in East Texas back in the 1940s and 1950s, I was pretty much physically isolated from the rest of the world. Travel wasn't one of my family's activities. But my imagination wasn't isolated. As soon as I learned to read, I was patrolling the streets of Bayport with Frank and Joe, roaming through the jungles of Africa and South America with Tarzan and Bomba, and walking the surface of Barsoom with John Carter. At the movies, I was riding the Old West with Johnny Mack Brown, Tex Ritter, Allan Rocky Lane, and a host of others. And I was visiting (via the radio) Allen's Alley, Duffy's Tavern, and 79 Wistful Vista. So I didn't feel deprived.

Later on, after I started driving, I listened to radio stations from such exotic faraway places as Chicago (WLS), New Orleans (WNOE), and Gallatin, Tennessee. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Gallatin, Tennessee?" That is, that's what you're thinking if you weren't out cruising the southern summer nights in the mid-to-late 1950s and early 1960s with your car radio reaching out to hear Gene Nobles, John R., and the Old Hoss Man advertising Randy's Record Shop, White Rose Petroleum Jelly, and Silky Strate hair dressing. I loved those disk jockies and the records they played, many of them records you didn't hear on just any station. And that's why finding this website sent me into a veritable frenzy of nostalgia. Listening to the sound bites near the bottom of the page and hearing the voices of John R. and Gene Nobles transported me to a time long ago and far away, to riding shotgun in Bob Tyus's 1940 Chevrolet and Fred Williams's '50 Ford, or driving around in my own '49 Dodge with the Clunk-O-Matic transmission. Those were the days.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Nightcrawlers -- Bill Pronzini

The New York Times > Books > Sunday Book Review > Crime: Sax and Violence: "Pronzini constructs his sturdy plot with top-quality materials, including spit-polished dialogue and loathsome villains who actually giggle as they crack their victims' bones."

It's great to see the deserving Pronzini getting a good review in the NYTBR (you'll have to register to read the whole thing). But the reviewer, Marilyn Stasio, is wrong if she thinks "Nameless" is just now getting a name ("Bill Pronzini has christened his noir hero with a name.") The rest of us faithful readers have known since the long-ago Twospot that "Nameless" is really "Bill."

Noir Night, Part 3

J. D. Rhoades, Al Guthrie, Jason Starr, Ken Bruen, Duane Swierczynski at Noir Night. Posted by Hello

Noir Night, Part 2

Jason Starr, me, Ken Bruen at Murder by the Book's Noir Night. Posted by Hello

Noir Night, Part 1

Al Guthrie and me at Murder by the Book's Noir Night in Houston. The Ken Bruen Traveling Roadshow featured Al, Jason Starr, Duane Swierczynsik, and J. D. Roades doirng a pane discussion of noir and other things. A good time was had by all, and I even won a door prize (a rare event, indeed). Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Best Recordings of the 1950s?


I love these lists. I'm probably the only one around who actually remembers all these songs and who has all of them on CD. But you can scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on your favorite decade and see what you think of the list for that era.

I don't blog politics, but . . .

The Independent Florida Alligator

. . . as a former teacher I couldn't resist linking this one. So it's come to this. I give up. It's over. They win. I'm so far outside the mainstream that I'll never get back in, and I'm not even going to try. I'm just going to hide out here in my little room and keep quiet.

No, wait, maybe I'll get rich marketing hemlock.

On second though, nah. Hiding is more in my line.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

DC Comics Covers

From Elmo's Junction comes word of this site. Click on a year, then on a month, and you'll get all the DC Comics covers for that month. Or click on this page and get an alphabetical list of all the DC titles. Click on a title and get the complete cover gallery. Did you know there were five issues of a Pat Boone comic book? I didn't. There's a lot more to explore, too. Great stuff.

Robert Maguire, Again

Another nice Maguire cover, thanks to Art Scott. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Robert Maquire -- R.I.P.

From Art Scott: Master paperback cover artist Robert Maguire passed away on February 26th, age 83, in New Jersey. He painted hundreds of classic mystery covers for Signet, Dell, Ace, Avon and others from the 1950's through the '80s. Maguire and his contemporary Robert McGinnis (happily still with us and still painting) defined the sexy/glamour look of paperback crime fiction in the '60s and '70s. Maguire followed the market into romance in the '80s, though he still did occasional mystery covers, including a series of Christie titles for Pocket Books. He also crossed over into the realm of sixties "sleaze". His covers on lesbian titles for Midwood (many of them written by Larry Block and Don Westlake) have achieved iconic status. Maguire's work was profiled by Gary Lovisi in Illustration Magazine #3. His daughter Lynn Maguire is offering quality prints of his work (including some shot from classic Signet originals just recently unearthed in an amazing warehouse find) at

This link will take you directly to the cover art gallery.
Posted by Hello

Monday, March 21, 2005


I'd heard that this was a "different" serial killer book. It's been a long time since I read a serial killer book, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Which goes to show how times have changed. Thirty years ago, I'd read any serial killer book that came along because I liked them and because there were so few of them. Now there are so many that I seldom bother to pick one up, much less read one. But, as so often is the case, I digress.

I was going to say that I liked Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Its serial killer/protagonist/narrator kills only people who need killing, which is supposed to be his redeeming feature, I suppose, but he knows as well as anyone that he's really a monster. That doesn't mean he wants to be destroyed, however. He has a well-developed sense of self-preservation, and he's learned to behave pretty much the way a human being would behave in most situations. (He has a lot of trouble understanding women, but then don't we all?) The fact that he works as a blood-splatter expert for the Miami police is just one of several ironies that we're presented with. The plot involves another serial killer in town, one with whom Dexter seems to have an almost supernatural connection.

One of the cops working the case is Dexter's foster sister, and if you've read any serial killer novels at all, I don't need to tell you that any woman connected with the protagonist of one of these books is going to be in serious trouble sooner or later. But Lindsay manages to twist this encounter enough to make it different and interesting. I'm not going to start a binge of reading about serial killers anytime soon, but I'm glad I picked this book up for a change of pace.