Sep 152014
 
Better late than never. Yvette at "in so many words..." issued a Flash Fiction Challenge to come up with a short short story inspired by one of three paintings she found. The sotries were to have been posted yesterday, September 14. We took a sudden trip and I was away from the computer all day. Didn't have a chance to upload my story along with the painting. But enough excuses... Without further ado, here is my contribution.

Come Like Shadows

Sorcery’s a bitch. Especially when you’re an amateur like me. My mistake was being too curious, too ambitious, not patient enough. What’s that piece of advice your schoolteachers always direct at the impatient, hyperactive students in the class – take your time and you’ll make less mistakes. Haste makes waste, right? In my case haste made a monkey of my girlfriend. Literally.

She was a sucker for strange jewelry. That’s really what started all the trouble. Never satisfied with a diamond ring or stud earrings or a simple necklace. No, not Amelia. To her a tennis bracelet was literally just that – a bracelet made up of a fine gold mesh tennis net with charms shaped liked rackets and balls. I’m surprised she didn’t want the umpire sitting in his chair as well as a couple of ball boys. She was always adding to her collection and the more bizarre the better. She was attracted to Egyptians bangles with carved hieroglyphs, amulets inspired by medieval mythological creatures and brooches shaped like dragonflies. Insects were really big with her for a couple of months. Somehow they became more alluring less alien once they were bejeweled and bedazzled. But when she got hooked on endangered species inspired jewelry I really had to put an end to it.

And why sorcery? Surely there was a simpler way to get her off her eccentric jewelry addiction. Well, you see I sort of was responsible for that too. OK, I was responsible for that. Let me own up to the whole mess right now. She never paid me any attention and I made her like me. But as usual with my adventures in potion making I improvised and the whole thing backfired. What started out as an attraction potion took on a different dimension because of my ad libbing with the formula as well as Amelia’s unpredictable behavior. I was supposed to hand her the charmed object and a say a certain phrase but no -- Amelia couldn't wait. We're a lot alike that way -- impatient and demanding. She grabbed it out of my hand and well, now I not only have a devoted girlfriend I have devoted girlfriend who demands that I give her odd pieces of jewelry. And to counteract an unnatural behavior like this, one that isn’t of her choosing, I have to resort to more magic. So I started more experimenting. Before I could find the solution to that mistake another one occurred.

To be honest she brought it on herself. Yes, she did. She barged right into my alchemy lab after one of our hedonistic nights on the town. She was more than a little tipsy on those foo foo cocktails she loves more than her gaudy jewelry. You know those concoctions with flavored vodka. Geez, whatever happened to good ol’ fashioned Old Fashioneds or a plain gin and tonics? But I digress... Her eyes headed straight for a transmogrification figurine I was working on for one of my irritating neighbors. She chittered and screamed like a friggin' monkey and I was ready to turn her into one. Amelia sees that golden figurine shaped like a monkey and she had to have it. Right up her alley, right? Endangered species and "cute as a puppy" like she says all the time. Before I could knock the cursed thing out of her hand I watched as her human shadow morphed into the shape and form of a capuchin monkey. Tail growing out of her designer gown and Amelia disappearing into the fabric till she was chattering and screeching like my annoying neighbor next door. There she was wailing and clawing at her dress trying to figure out what the hell just happened to her. And me wishing I could just chain her to an organ grinder like some prop in a 1930s screwball comedy. My life had become a screwball comedy. All thanks to my inept attempts at black magic. I looked at this absurd picture of me and Amelia and saw exactly the opposite. It was Amelia who really made a monkey out of me. And not for the first time.

Yeah sorcery’s a bitch. What kills me is it took me six months to get all the proper ingredients for that charm. And now it’s going to take me another half a year to get another batch of the same stuff. You know how I had to rack my brains to come up with a clever way to record the sound of a cat’s footsteps? It involved a xylophone and a super sensitive reel-to-reel tape recorder. A reel to reel! P.S. That was harder to find than the damn xylophone. I may have to cut corners again and to hell with the consequences.

Aw, who am I kidding? I learned my lesson the hard way. Now I’m burdened with trying to gather up all the ingredients needed to turn Amelia back into a normal jewelry addicted young woman before her appetite for tropical fruits transforms my home into a subsidiary warehouse for Chiquita and Dole. Without the aid of sorcery. This time I'm following the directions to the letter. No improvising. No substitutes. No ad libbing. 100% genuine ingredients and no cheating whatsoever this time.

Which reminds me, now that you be heard this whole crazy story –

You don’t happen to know where I might find a genuine witch’s mummy, do you?


 Posted by at 8:22 pm
Sep 152014
 
REVIEWED BY DAN STUMPF:         


  OUANGA. George Terwilliger Productions, 1936. Also released as Drums of the Jungle and The Love Wanga. Fredi Washington, Philip Brandon, Marie Paxton, Sheldon Leonard. Written & directed by George Terwilliger.

   Most critics agree that the story behind this movie is more interesting than the film itself, but I found Ouanga possessed of a unique charm that kept me watching and even enjoying it.

   The plot is a simple affair, and writer/director Terwilliger had the sense to keep it that way. Clelie (Fredi Washington) is a Haitian plantation owner of mixed race, in love with the neighboring and very white planter Adam Maynard.

   The script hints that their relationship has been more than neighborly, but as the story starts, Adam is bringing his fiancée to the island and it ain’t Clelie — it’s whey-faced blonde Eve Langley, whom Clelie decides to kill with voodoo magic. And plot-wise that’s really about it, except that Clelie herself is pursued by mixed-race overseer LeStrange (Sheldon Leonard) who has his own murderous way of dealing with unrequited love.

   The story has a spare, allegorical feel to it, even down to the names of the putative hero and heroine (Adam & Eve) and the garden-like setting of the action. There’s also a fine dichotomy between the frank passion of the native peoples and the pallid complacency of their white counterparts. Terwilliger seems to enjoy cutting between vigorous folk ceremonies and tepid garden parties—and the passion in the clinches of Clelie and LeStrange quite overshadows the perfunctory romance of hero and heroine.

   Terwilliger, obviously influenced by William Seabrook’s 1929 book The Magic Island, went to Haiti to film authentic Voodoo ceremonies and did a lot of research for this film, but he got chased out by the local witch doctors, who killed a member of his crew.

   He ended up filming in Jamaica under primitive conditions and the result is terribly crude, but I found it oddly powerful as well — if you can get past the bad script, bad acting and laughable stunt-work. The Voodoo scenes here have a primitive and suitably awed quality to them such as I have seen nowhere else, as if the filmmaker were trying to convey to us something of his own dread and wonderment.

   Ouanga ended up being largely ignored by the public and shunted off by its distributors as an exploitation show, and frankly it deserved no better. But for those who can look past its incredible ineptitude, this in a unique and haunting bit of work.

   As a footnote, writer/producer/director George Terwilliger is something of a mysterious figure in the movies. An authentic pioneer of the cinema, he worked with D.W.Griffith and stayed busy in the silent era, but there’s a ten-year gap between his last silent film in 1926 and the appearance of Ouanga.

   Afterwards, the screenplay of this film was recycled into an all-black movie, The Devil’s Daughter (1939) but Terwilliger himself never made another film. He died in 1970.

 Posted by at 7:34 pm

A Scandal In 1907

 History  Comments Off
Sep 152014
 
1907 Scandal



Early women's rights activist Annette Kellerman posed in this fitted, one-piece bathing suit to protest the restrictive clothing of the day. She arrested for indecency because of this picture. Australians can thank Annette Kellerman every time they take a swim. In 1905 she invented the streamlined one-piece swimming costume for women, a liberating garment, which became her trademark. But more than that, she re-awoke the pleasure of swimming for everyone including men, women and children. Known as the Diving Venus and the Australian Mermaid, Annette Kellerman (1887–1975) was an athlete as well as a vaudeville and movie star, one of the most famous women of her day.

Kellerman set out to challenge the legal restrictions on women's bathing clothes in the United States. In 1907, preparing for a promotional coast swim, she was arrested for indecency on Revere Beach, Boston. She was wearing one of her fitted one-piece costumes that had no skirt, clung to her body and revealed her thighs. The judge accepted her arguments in favor of swimming as healthy exercise and against cumbersome bathing suits, provided she wore a robe until she entered the water. Her arrest generated worldwide publicity. She continued to wear her one-piece swimsuit in her stage shows and public swimming events.

 Film Career
The Bride of Lammermoor: A Tragedy of Bonnie Scotland (1909)
Jephtah's Daughter: A Biblical Tragedy (1909)
The Gift of Youth (1909)
Entombed Alive (1909)
Siren of the Sea (1911)
The Mermaid (1911)
Neptune's Daughter (1914)
A Daughter of the Gods (1916)
National Red Cross Pageant (1917)
Queen of the Sea (1918)
What Women Love (1920)
Venus of the South Seas (1924)
 Posted by at 7:33 pm

Headlines that shouldn’t be true but are

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Sep 152014
 


'VETTED' REBELS STRIKE DEAL WITH ISIS
(we're off to a great start)

Witnesses: Cops Kept Arresting Dying Cyclist After Running Him Over

‘F*ck off, you fat *ss!’: Enraged minivan mom caught on camera berating
motorist

Police Allegedly Mistake Black Actress Kissing White Partner For A
Prostitute

West Virginia cop caught threatening woman filming rough arrest of
terminally ill man

Kanye Stops Concert Because Fan In Wheelchair Won't Stand Up
(heal him kanye--just keep screaming at him ns he'll walk again!)

Man Armed With Machete Holds Up Restaurant In NYC's Chelsea
neighborhood...

An Off-Duty Cop Got Drunk and Shot Some People on the Upper West Side

Bill Maher levels GOP Rep. Kline: He embodies D.C’s ‘easily-swayed
whores and sellouts’

Tucker Carlson suspects school indoctrination plot because children are
‘just learning too much’
(Fucker Tarlson is the mosr obnoxious trust fund baby of all time)

Satanists Sell Out 'Black Mass' Event...Will Stage Exorcism...

Deepak Chopra: Richard Dawkins is a bad scientist and his arrogance
pisses me off

Illinois man arrested for murder of ex-girlfriend, body found in
backseat of car

Bill Maher levels GOP Rep. Kline: He embodies D.C’s ‘easily-swayed
whores and sellouts’

West Virginia cop caught threatening woman filming rough arrest of
terminally ill man

The fight isn’t over: Voting rights may be headed back to the Supreme
Court

NFL running back Adrian Peterson indicted for allegedly abusing
4-year-old boy

‘F*ck off, you fat *ss!’: Enraged minivan mom caught on camera berating
motorist

US denies threatening Foley family over raising ransom

No evidence whistleblower Edward Snowden raised concerns internally: NSA

Police in three states hunt for gunman after trooper shot dead at
Pennsylvania barracks

Federal judge rules that Arizona gay widower is entitled to federal
spousal benefits

Details emerge in Adrian Peterson child abuse case: ‘I’m all tearing
that butt up when needed’

‘Django Unchained’ actress detained by cops because they assumed she
was a hooker

Deepak Chopra: Richard Dawkins is a bad scientist and his arrogance
pisses me off
(I agree; man is Dawkins full of himself)

The story of a civilization can be found in the materials used to build
it

Texas high school chemistry teacher arrested with date rape drug
‘recipes’ in her backpack

Golfing great Greg Norman almost severs hand with chainsaw

Details emerge in Adrian Peterson child abuse case: ‘I’m all tearing
that butt up when needed’

ISIS's latest strategy: Recruit female jihadis from America's heartland

Tucker Carlson suspects school indoctrination plot because children are
‘just learning too much’

‘Django Unchained’ actress detained by cops because they assumed she
was a hooker

Deepak Chopra: Richard Dawkins is a bad scientist and his arrogance
pisses me off

The story of a civilization can be found in the materials used to build
it

Texas high school chemistry teacher arrested with date rape drug
‘recipes’ in her backpack

Golfing great Greg Norman almost severs hand with chainsaw


John Oliver: Scotland seeks divorce because England has been ‘a little
bit of a dick’

Bernie Sanders in Iowa: Soldiers didn’t die ‘so billionaires could buy
elections’

Witnesses: ‘Django Unchained’ actress and boyfriend having sex in car
before police arrived'

Palin pushback: Family friend says other side started drunken Wasilla
birthday melee

California man killed ex-girlfriend's dog, then fed it to her, police
say

Arizona GOP official resigns after saying poor women should be
sterilized

Florida cops often drop rape cases unless victims tell them to
investigate: NYT

Milwaukee cop won’t be charged despite video proving she lied about
seeing illegal strip searches

Lindsey Graham unhinged: We will ‘all get killed back here’ if Obama
lets ISIS open ‘the gates of hell’

California man arrested following nine-hour standoff after firing on
ice cream truck, police

Newly discovered squirrel-like creatures suggest mammals first appeared
208 million years ago

Police conduct multi-state manhunt for gunman who ambushed two PA state
troopers

Luke Russert lands Meet the Press gig cuz everyone else is doin’
friggin’ drugs all weekend

RAW STORY EXTRA FOR SEPTEMBER 15, 2014
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View it in your browser.

Texas sheriff boasts on Fox & Friends he’ll send ISIS to hell after
finding Koran on the border

Alabama pastor drives girl to city park to rape and sodomize her,
police say

Bible-pushing Christians open the door for Satanic activity books in
Florida schools

Hobby Lobby president Steve Green urges Christians to stand up to the
government

Georgia police: 16-year-old mom with baby guns down man selling PS4 on
Craigslist

LSU frat fight captured by man with most self-satisfied grin ever

92-year-old Colorado man died after homemade bomb exploded, police
believe

Wisc. GOP candidate now regrets tweeting ‘fags need 2 leave my favorite
state alone’

Six Florida prison officers jailed and fired for setting up inmate
beating, lying about it

Divers return to shipwreck where the ancient 'Antikythera Mechanism'
was found

Fox’s Steve Doocy: Schools should stop ‘brainwashing’ kids with
‘meatless Mondays’ plot






Sep 152014
 
It was pretty obvious, when several of the criticsI knew would be attending Bouchercon 2014 started posting about their individual panel discussion assignments, that a preliminary lineup of such presentations was soon to come. And sure enough, yesterday brought this PDF chart of who would be speaking when at the November 13-16 event in Long Beach, California. I haven’t looked closely through it yet, but I did notice that my friends Kevin Burton Smith, Ali Karim, and Peter Rozovsky will be leading talks at one time or another.

As interesting as this schedule is, I’m no less excited to see how the list of attendees for November’s Bouchercon is shaping up.

If you haven’t yet registered for Bouchercon 2014, you can still do so by clicking here and filling out the requisite paperwork.
Sep 152014
 
There's an excellent article by Bud Elder on the life and career of Clifton Adams to be found here. My fondness for Adams' work continues to grow with everything that I read by him. Many thanks to Lawrence Block for the link.
Sep 152014
 
Dark Angel #2: The Emerald Oil Caper, by James D. Lawrence March, 1975  Pyramid Books If you’ve ever been reading The Baroness and thought to yourself, “This is good and all, but what if, instead of a spy, the Baroness was a private investigator? And what if she was black??”, then you are in luck, because the four-volume Dark Angel series answers those very questions. Like The Baroness,

1964: Books

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Sep 152014
 
It is 1964 here this week to celebrate my trip next week to DC to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the class that graduated the year before me. (It is more a reunion of the cheerleaders for me). I attended a very small school in Wyncote, PA and my graduating class was 21. The class of 1964 was 14.

So I have been thinking of that year and what was going on. I am starting with the books that graced the NYT Bestseller list of that week. Only one way to gauge what people were reading, I know, but a handy one.

Four books especially the first, dominated the best seller list in 1964. THE SPY was the biggest seller of the year.

THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, John LeCarre
THE GROUP, Mary McCarthy
HERZOG, Saul Bellow
THE RECTOR OF JUSTIN, Louis Auchinclos

I was a big fan of all four of these writers but may have not read these books until later.
Some of the other dominant books that year were: THIS ROUGH MAGIC (Mary Stewart), THE HAT ON THE BED (John O'Hara), CANDY (Terry Southern) ARMAGEDDON, Leon Uris, several books by Ian Flemming, THE MAN, Irving Wallace, JULIAN, Gore Vidal.

John Updike won the National Book Award for THE CENTAUR. 

Many of the non-fiction books dealt with the recent Kennedy assassination.

Some of the crime fiction that debuted that year included: A CARIBBEAN MYSTERY, Agatha Christie, THE DEEP BLUE GOODBYE, John D. MacDonald, POP 1280, Jim Thompson, FROM DOON WITH DEATH, Ruth Rendell, THE PERFECT MURDER, H.R. Keating

The Edgar went to  Eric Ambler for THE LIGHT OF DAY. 

Did you read any of these before or later?