Saturday, January 26, 2008
There are a lot of interesting things about his movie. The singer is Elton Britt, and he sings probably his biggest hit, "Chime Bells." Britt could flat-out yodel. He sings "Molly Darling" with no yodeling, and it's good, too. I'm listening to him on Rhapsody now, just for fun. Smiley Burnette is the comedy relief, and he sings, too. Not as well as Britt, though.
The most entertaining bit for movie fans is the climactic scene when the bad guys, disguised as Indians, take off after a stage. Suddenly the scene turns out to be Monument Valley, and the small band of bad guys has been transformed into dozens. Sure enough, the filmmakers have taken the scenes from Stagecoach and intercut them with some filmed for the movie. Which explains why Starrett appears wearing a flap-front shirt just before the scene begins. I suppose none of the matinee crowd noticed this back in 1948, but a movie buff today couldn't miss it.
But this memoir is a different species entirely from the normal rags-to-riches tale of a big-screen leading man or woman - it's the life of Cheeta the chimpanzee.
Tarzan's famous co-star, who embarked on his screen career in the 1930s alongside Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan, is the subject of Me Cheeta, to be published by Fourth Estate in October."
ABC Faces Indecency Fine For 2003 'NYPD Blue' Episode - washingtonpost.com: "The Federal Communications Commission yesterday proposed a $1.43 million indecency fine against ABC television stations for a 2003 episode of 'NYPD Blue,' the second-largest proposed indecency fine against a television broadcaster ever.
The agency proposed a $27,500 fine against 52 ABC-owned and affiliate stations in the Central and Mountain time zones, which broadcast the episode before 10 p.m., when the FCC's authority to police the airwaves for indecency expires each day.
The episode in question, aired Feb. 25, 2003, contained a scene featuring a woman and a young boy. In the scene, the woman disrobes in a bathroom. She is shown in full dorsal nudity, and the side of one breast is shown."
Friday, January 25, 2008
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has held Warziniack for weeks in an Arizona detention facility with the aim of deporting him to a country he's never seen. His jailers shrugged off Warziniack's claims that he was an American citizen, even though they could have retrieved his Minnesota birth certificate in minutes and even though a Colorado court had concluded that he was a U.S. citizen a year before it shipped him to Arizona."
Alligator antics liven up chamber luncheon: "Inquiring minds at the West Chester Chamber Alliance luncheon Jan. 8 needed to know.
If you rub an alligator's belly, will it fall asleep?
As Thane Maynard, executive director of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, flipped Cruncher, a two-foot alligator onto his back for a demonstration, the reptile shot an arc of urine into the air, hitting one of the guests."
But I digress. What I decided after reading How the Dead Live is that Raymond's books are for those who enjoy Ken Bruen's work but think that it's entirely too perky, cheerful, and upbeat. Raymond, in other words, is seriously dark and depressing.
In this novel, the cop narrator leaves a nightmarish London to investigate a mysterious disappearance in a small town that turns out to be equally nightmarish. Most of the story takes place at night, and sometimes the night is dark and stormy. There's a country house at the center of things, and it's in such a state of decay that it makes Dracula's castle seem like a five-star hotel. The book's not really about the mystery plot, though. It's about how the dead live.
There are times when I feel alone in the face of our society, its hatred and madness, its despair and violence. To go on drawing my pay . . . to go on acting on my own, just to go on at all, I have to be very careful. I feel the edge of the precipice with every step I take and have to be most particular how I tread; the path isn't solid, and under it is the mist and that vile slide towards a bottomless death. I am a minor figure for whom no god waits. The state that pays me laughs at me; my own people at work find me absurd.
See what I mean? Cheerful stuff, indeed. That's not to say the book's not funny. It's savagely funny at times. Check it out.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
The country singer, who experienced his first surge in popularity in the ’50s, has no idea how it got started. But e-mails began circulating and next thing you know, a disc jockey was announcing it on the air, a tearful friend performing on stage was announcing it to his audience and online sources reported it in news updates, including Tennessean.com on Monday.
“All of a sudden on Sunday, Jan. 20, I died,” said Whitman, who turned 84 on Sunday. “I knew it was a lie. I kept looking at it. I thought, this could sort of get out of hand here. I thought, oh well, if it gets out of hand, I’ll go on a TV show and show them that I’m not dead.”"
The 90 million-year-old reptile belongs to the same sickle-clawed group of dinosaurs as Velociraptor and feathered dinosaurs from China.
Buitreraptor gonzalezorum, from the Neuquen Basin in central Argentina may provide tantalising evidence that powered flight evolved twice."
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders pimp Roto-Rooter's high-tech powder room | Crave : The gadget blog: "What do Roto-Rooter, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and the ultimate high-tech bathroom for women have in common? We have no idea, but they all came together at an event in New York City for the launch of Roto-Rooter's Pimped Out Powder Room Sweepstakes, which is a follow up to last year's Pimped Out John Sweepstakes."
John Farris graduated from high school in 1955 and in 1959 he published Harrison High, which went on to sell a million or so copies and was made into a movie produced by and starring Dick Clark. Yes, Dick Clark, America’s Oldest Teenager. The title of the movie was Because They're Young, and about the only good thing about it is the title song, an instrumental by Duane Eddy. James Darren does a vocal of the song, too. That’s not quite so good.
Harrison High wasn’t a Gold Medal novel, but it was a huge influence on me. I read it in 1959 in a Dell paperback edition, and I was consumed with unseemly envy. I wanted to be John Farris. I mean, here was a guy not much older than I was, and he was already a wildly successful writer. But I didn’t know the half of it. Here’s the some more of the story: Farris sold his first novel the summer he graduated from high school, and it was published the next year. It’s a mystery called The Corpse Next Door, and it was a paperback original from Graphic Books. It’s not bad at all. Just don’t look at the cover when you read it, because the cover gives away the killer.
So what? you say. What does this have to do with Gold Medal. Well, I’m coming to that. After The Corpse Next Door, Farris took a pen name and started writing for Gold Medal Books. He was Steve Brackeen, and his three GM titles are Baby Moll (Crest, 1958), Danger in my Blood (Crest, 1959), and Delfina (Gold Medal, 1962). Some of you have noticed already that two of these books are not, technically speaking, Gold Medals. They’re Crests, and Fawcett usually reserved its Crest imprint for reprints. But not always. I don’t know how they decided such things, but both Brackeen novels are originals. So is the GM title, of course.
Farris must have been all of nineteen or twenty when he wrote Baby Moll. I don’t think anybody would have known that by reading the book. There’s a maturity here way beyond Farris’ years. The kid could write: “The Neptune Court occupied two blocks of beach land on a narrow peninsula known as Fontaine Beach. It was a mushrooming resort center. Ornate motels and hotels done in bold lines sprawled along the strip of highway in a growing chain. Every day bulldozers scraped at the raw land while sun-reddened men with fat stacks of blueprints watched and planned. The street crumbled away under the impact of the ready-mix trucks.” Remind you of any other Gold Medal writers you know? I think John D. MacDonald and Mickey Spillane were two big influences on “Steve Brackeen.”
All three of the Brackeen books I’ve read are set in Florida. The plot of Baby Moll is the old “the minute I get out, they keep pulling me back in” story. Pete Mallory has a good business and is engaged to a nice young woman. But he has a past. He worked for a gangster named Macy Barr, and Barr wants him back for one more job, which involves finding out who’s killing all Barr’s top men. The way Mallory sees it, he doesn’t have any choice, so he goes. And naturally gets involved with several beautiful women, mostly scantily clad, and plenty of sharply written violence. You’re going to know who the killer is long before Mallory does, but the book’s moving so fast that it doesn’t matter.
Danger in my Blood is about Denver Bryant, former government agent who pays a visit to an old friend and finds him murdered. There was violence in BABY MOLL, but it’s stepped up a notch in this one. Another fast-moving, sharply written book with good first-person narration.
Delfina is a little different. For one thing it has one of those “photo covers.” What’s unusual about it is that the model is identified. It’s Senta Berger, “Viennese motion picture star.” Some of you old guys might remember her from such classics as Major Dundee and The Ambushers. Senta never caught on in the U.S., but according to the IMDb, she’s still making movies (and getting top billing) in Germany. But I, as usual, digress. It’s the book we’re supposed to be talking about, not the cover. Anyway, Clay McKinnon (not a first-person narrator like we have in the first two books) is a private eye who gets involved with the beautiful Delfina, which leads him to involvement with Latin American dictator who wants to go home again and a beautiful, if crazy, blonde whose preferred weapon is, well, here’s the back cover blurb: “Clay McKinnon thought he’d been to every kind of hell, but one still awaited him – She was blonde, and she liked to wield a whip . . . .” You got your private eyes, your blondes, and your bullwhips. What more could you ask for? This is great stuff, and Farris is still only around twenty-five years old. I think I envy him even more now than I did when I started writing this.
Various non-Gold Medal Bonuses: If you grew up during the 1950s and if you haven’t read Harrison High, you’re in for a nostalgic treat. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Farris (or someone using his name) wrote five or six sequels to this one. I’m accumulating these slowly. My wife, Judy, read them all when they came out, along with Farris’s big mainstream novel King Windom, which looks like an Elmer Gantry riff to me. There’s a Steve Brackeen hardcover that I haven’t read, The Guardians, but I have it and plan to read it. My personal favorite of Farris's books so far is Sharp Practice, one of the best homicidal killer books ever. Or at least that’s the way I remember it. Check out the Gold Medals, but be alert for the other books. You can hardly go wrong with any of them.
There's some video here.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Now, in addition to such offerings as blogs, author dispatches, slideshows, interviews, and videos, readers can also browse issues going back to 1995, along with hundreds of articles dating as far back as 1857, the year The Atlantic was founded."
Hat tip to Boing Boing.
Meanwhile, the Air Force changes its story:
The mystery of the Stephenville UFOs might have been solved.
Today the Air Force Reserve said on the night of January 8, ten F-16 fighter jets were conducting training flights in the area. Many of the suspected UFO sightings took place on that night.
Originally, the 301st Fighter Wing at the Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base said none of its jets were in the area that night.In a statement today, a Wing spokesman says they made a mistake and that jets were flying in the Stephenville area that evening.
Hope plays Ronnie Jackson, a baby photographer who shares an office suite with Sam McCloud, private-eye. Hope wants to be a p.i., too. "All it took was brains, courage, and a gun. And I had the gun."
McCloud leaves town, and Hope is in his office when Dorothy Lamour walks in. Thinking he's McCloud, she asks him to find her missing husband. Hope goes along, playing his usual tough-talking sniveling coward as the plot rollicks along with characters like Peter Lorre and Lon Chaney, Jr., having a swell time parodying their usual roles. There are a couple of nice cameos, too.
The one-liners and in-jokes come thick and fast, but the sad thing (to me) is that it's hard to imagine anybody under 60 getting even half of them. I mean, does anyone but me remember who James C. Petrillo was? Last year when I subjected my daughter to one of Hope's radio shows, I asked her if she thought it was funny. She said it was sad. When I asked why, she said, "It's sad that anybody ever thought that was funny." So once again my geezerdom is confirmed. Stay off my damn lawn!
But I digress. Being an Old Guy, I got a kick out of seeing this again, and it was well worth the buck I spent at Wal-Mart on the DVD, which was of surprisingly good quality for something so cheap. Check it out.
Northern Territory News: "A CROCODILE that savaged a man's arm and was then shot is still alive and well.
The female saltie bit Darwin Crocodile Farm worker Jason Green on the right arm while he was collecting eggs with workmate Zac Fitzgerald at Marrakai Station on Monday.
Mr Fitzgerald was able to free his workmate by shooting the croc with a pistol but the bullet also hit Mr Green in the arm.
Darwin Crocodile Farm owner Mick Burns returned to the scene of the attack yesterday and said the female saltie was still there.
'She was there, alive and well and looking straight at us,' he said."
Paris Hilton premieres in Dallas | GuideLive.com |
Arts/Entertainment News and Events | Dallas-Fort Worth | The Dallas Morning News | Arts & Entertainment: "'We love you Paris!' screamed the tween girls into the cold, dark air outside the Regent Highland Park Village movie theater. Little did they know that it would be nearly another hour before the object of their affection would make their girliest of dreams come true.
That was the scene from the freezing red-carpet premiere of The Hottie & the Nottie, a film Paris Hilton swooped into town Tuesday to promote. Approximately 200 people waited outside the theater with the hopes of getting a glimpse of their idol."
Man shoots co-worker while rescuing him from crocodile - CNN.com: "(CNN) -- A man who rescued a co-worker from the jaws of a crocodile in northern Australia also accidentally shot him in the process, police said.
The two men were collecting crocodile eggs by a river bank in Australia's Northern Territory Tuesday when a crocodile grabbed Jason Grant by the lower right arm, a spokeswoman for the area police told CNN.
The second man, Zac Fitzgerald, shot the crocodile, causing it to let go of Grant's arm. But a second shot that Fitzgerald fired struck Grant in the upper right arm, said Northern Territory police spokeswoman Katie Fowden."
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Actor Heath Ledger Is Found Dead - City Room - Metro - New York Times Blog: "The actor Heath Ledger was found dead this afternoon in an apartment building at 421 Broome Street in SoHo, according to the New York City police. Mr. Ledger was 28.
At 3:31 p.m., a masseuse arrived at Apartment 5A in the building for an appointment with Mr. Ledger, the police said. The masseuse was let in to the home by a housekeeper, who then knocked on the door of Mr. Ledger’s bedroom. When no one answered, the housekeeper and the masseuse opened the bedroom and found Mr. Ledger unconscious. They shook him, but he did not respond. They immediately called the authorities. The police said they did not suspect foul play and said they found pills near body."
Monday, January 21, 2008
Barney thinks of himself as an honest cop, and he is. Sure, he doesn't mind roughing up a prisoner or even shooting one, but down deep he's okay. That is, until he meets Grace. After that, he's done for.
Both hardboiled and noir (by my definitions, which, as we know, are the only ones that count on this blog), Sin Pit doesn't get under your skin the way a Jim Thompson book does, but has plenty of its own appeal. The sex is probably what sold this one originally, not so much what happens as the whole sado-masochistic bent of it. This is another of those 126-page Lion books that gets the job done.
A pilot, county constable and business owners were listed as the witnesses for the recent UFO sighting in Stephenville. These credible, upstanding people reported seeing a large silent object with bright lights flying low and fast. The size has been estimated as a mile long and half-a-mile wide.
When you report something like that, people are going to talk.
However, Ken Cherry, Texas state director of the Mutual Unidentified Flying Object Network, said the reports coming out of Stephenville indicate people are becoming more comfortable admitting they've seen a UFO.
'In terms of the number of witnesses, this is an unusual event,' Cherry said."
Hot is a well-told story intended to entertain for a couple of hours and then passed along to someone else. It's well written, there's sex, there's violence, and you get your quarter's worth.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
On Monday, Conrad failed to show for work, for the first time in seven model-employee months on the job, and no one from the bank could reach him at home.
By then, Conrad, and the $215,000 he'd purportedly stuffed in that bag, had vanished like a puff of smoke from one of his Marlboro cigarettes.
Almost 39 years later, federal agents are still looking."
At a gathering to dedicate a historic marker in front of one of the singer's childhood homes, Monteel Copple recalled her friend's laugh as they tried to keep their skirts in place while hanging upside down on the school's monkey bars.
'I can remember her giggle,' Copple told those gathered Saturday for the dedication of the Texas State Historical Marker.
Saturday would have been Joplin's 65th birthday. She died of a drug overdose on Oct. 4, 1970."
Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.
So in pursuit of the truth, Huse traveled the few miles down the road from his home in Stephenville to the Rotary Club meeting hall in downtown Dublin on Saturday to tell this story:
On Jan. 8, shortly after dark, he was walking two house guests to their car near Stephenville's main square when he beheld a red glowing light moving slowly across the sky. He pointed up at the sky and said: 'UFO.'
'I know what an airplane looks like,' the 53-year-old retired electronics technician said. 'I know what a helicopter looks like. This wasn't an airplane or a helicopter.
'This looked different than anything I had ever seen,' he added."
Texans' fondness for large, manly vehicles has helped make the Lone Star State the biggest carbon polluter in the nation."
Pleshette, whose career included roles in such films as Hitchcock's 'The Birds' and in Broadway plays including 'The Miracle Worker,' died of respiratory failure Saturday evening at her Los Angeles home, said her attorney Robert Finkelstein, also a family friend."
Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.