Friday, July 28, 2017

12 Things Called ‘French’ In English and Whether They're Actually French

12 Things Called ‘French’ In English and Whether They're Actually French


William Ard, The Perfect Frame, Popular Library, 1952

I Miss the Old Days

The Rise and Fall of the Great American Motel: Mom and pop motels once dominated American highways. Now, they’re an endangered species

Do You Recognize these Two Florida Paperback Writers?

Photo courtesy of Rick Ollerman.

FFB: Enchanted Pilgrimage -- Clifford D. Simak

Clifford D. Simak is one of my favorite SF writers, and his City is one of my favorite books of any kind.  It was the subject of my first FFB post, a long time gone.  Enchanted Pilgrimage is from late in Simak's career, and it's not in the came class as City, but that doesn't mean it's not fun to read.  It's a road novel, which means it's necessarily episodic, and it doesn't come to a very satisfactory conclusion, but in road novels the journey is the thing, isn't it?

What we have is an alternative earth, where trolls, goblins, giants, ogres, hellhounds, and Old Ones live in The Wastelands.  Mark Cornwall comes into possession of a document that mentions the secrets of this area, and he's then saved from Beckett, an inquisitor, by a rafter goblin named Oliver.  Mark and Oliver set out to learn the Wastelands' secrets.  Along the way they're joined by assorted pilgrims, each of whom has a reason for venturing into the danger zone.  These companions include Gil, a Marshman who's not quite human; Hal and Old Coon, his raccoon companion; a gnome named Snively, a blacksmith; and Mary, a servant at an inn, who remembers having lived in the Wastelands as a child. There's plenty of danger and a good bit of graphic violence along the way, but when the pilgrims do reach their destinations, they're rewarded with answers, even if there's no definite resolution.  I thought the latter part of the novel was a tad rushed, as there's a romance that comes out of nowhere and part of the resolution comes from way out in left field.  

The writing is fine, though, and the low-key style is pure Simak.  So while this will never be one of my favorite Simak novels, it's still fun to read and quite enjoyable on its own terms.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

10 Daring Bluffs That Paid Off Enormously

10 Daring Bluffs That Paid Off Enormously

Song of the Day

(13) Ringo Starr-Photograph - YouTube:

What Makes Mystery Writers Ante Up for Poker?

What Makes Mystery Writers Ante Up for Poker? (by Peter Hochstein) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: Peter Hochstein is a former newspaper reporter and advertising copywriter and the author of a number of paperback original novels, most under various pseudonyms. A few years ago he began writing a series at short-story length starring P.I. Rich Hovanec. The first entry appeared in the anthology Dark City Lights, edited by Lawrence Block. The second in the series, “The Client, the Cat, the Wife, and the Autopsy,” was published in EQMM’s January/February 2017 issue and was subsequently recorded for our podcast series. In our next issue, September/October 2017, on sale August 22, Hovanec appears again, in a characteristically offbeat case. EQMM only recently learned that Peter was one of the early (and ongoing) players in the legendary poker games that include several of mystery’s best-known writers. Thanks to him, we’ve discovered how it all started—and what the appeal of the game is for mystery writers.—Janet Hutchings

Today's Vintage Ad

Or Maybe You Did

10 Things You Didn't Know About the Movie Speed


John Wyndham (John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris), Re-Birth, Ballantine, 1955

I Miss the Old Days

62 Fascinating Photos Capture Street Scenes of New York City in the 1970s

30 Wartime Recruitment Posters on AbeBooks

30 Wartime Recruitment Posters on AbeBooks: Posters have advertised many things, but the images and messages used for military recruitment - where loss of life is highly probable - are among the most powerful. Honor, patriotism, guilt, fear, pretty girls, foreign travel, adventure, and bravado were (and still are) used to entice young men into enlistment stations. Almost every kind of psychological pathway to a signature on the dotted line has been explored - with the fear and guilt of accusations of cowardice being perhaps the strongest.

June Foray, R. I. P.

Variety: June Foray, the voice of “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show’s” Rocky the Flying Squirrel and his nemesis Natasha Fatale of Boris and Natasha fame in the early 1960s and a key figure in the animation industry, died Thursday. She was 99.

Forgotten Music

George Harrison, 15 Years Later: 10 Songs You Might Not Know He Had a Hand In

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lincoln Memorial Undercroft

Lincoln Memorial Undercroft: A cavernous three-story, 43,800-square-foot basement that was forgotten about for 60 years.

Song of the Day

(10) Glen Campbell & Roy Clark Play 'Ghost Riders in the Sky' - YouTube:

The Mysterious Deaths of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

The Mysterious Deaths of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Uncovered Manuscript Says They Didn't Die in a Bolivian Gunfight

Today's Vintage Ad

10 Ridiculous Feats of Literature

10 Ridiculous Feats of Literature: Instead of judging works of literature based on their artistic merit, we’ve decided to rank them by degree of difficulty. These 10 authors may not be Shakespeare, but they sure had vaulting ambitions.


Robert McLaughlin, The Notion of Sin, Fawcett Crest, 1960

I Miss the Old Days

The 11 Most Iconic Hairstyles and Stars of the 1960s

In Conversation with The Digest Enthusiast’s Richard Krauss

In Conversation with The Digest Enthusiast’s Richard Krauss | Trace Evidence: Richard Krauss is the editor and designer of Larque Press’s The Digest Enthusiast, which has appeared twice yearly since 2015. In today’s post, associate editor Jackie Sherbow talks with Richard about his work and the world of digest magazines

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: The Long Haul -- Anthony Johnston (writer) & Eduardo Barreto (artist)

As you may have guessed, this is a graphic novel.  And it's a nice hybrid of a western and a caper novel.  All the elements of the caper are present: the main character and his antagonist, the recruitment of the team members (each one with a special skill), the pulling of the caper, and even an epilogue that lets you know what becomes of the characters after the event.  

What's the event, you ask?  Here's the way one of the characters puts it:  "So all we have to do is break into an unbreakable [train] car, open an unopenable safe, avoid fourteen Pinkertons, then hightail it out of there within fifteen minutes?"  To make it even trickier than that sounds, the train the safe weights 2000 pounds and can't be blown open, the train it's on can't be stopped, and telegraphers report on the progress of the train every so often so that everyone knows it's on schedule.

I don't supposed that it's spoilery to say that things don't go exactly as planned, and I also don't think it's spoilery to say that in the end everything works out just as you'd probably want it to.

Author Johnston is the creator of the comic book on which the film Atomic Blonde is based, so he's probably much better known now than he was when he wrote The Long Haul.  Reading it was a lot of fun.  And so was looking at the pictures.  Artist Barreto is great at doing clear, detailed work that's perfect for the story being told.  If you're looking for a good western and a good caper story all in one, this is it.  Check it out.