Mar 292015

My friend Jeffrey Marks reminds me that I have inadvertently omitted Frances Crane, the author of the Pat and Jean Abbott mysteries, from my post about husband-and-wife detective teams (above). Let me correct that by calling your attention to The Indigo Necklace, a 1945 entry in the series. This one is set in New Orleans and manages to evoke the feeling that is still present today in the old French Quarter of the city - in fact, our detectives have a number of fine meals in some classic New Orleans restaurants that survive and thrive to this day. Here's what I wrote about it on this blog when I reviewed it a couple of years back. Recommended!

Mar 292015

Richard E. Clear, one of the individuals who helped Pulpcon, the predecessor of PulpFest, to survive during its early going, passed away on March 21, 2015. He was 71 years old and had been ill for a number of years. Richard was the winner of the 1988 Lamont Award, the author of OLD MAGAZINES, IDENTIFICATION AND VALUE GUIDE and other reference works, and worked as a book dealer for nearly forty years. Our condolences to his family and his friends. He will be missed by the pulp community.

 Posted by at 3:33 pm
Mar 292015

Hey, Man, Dig the Crazy Hippie Flicks ‘The Wild Angels’ and ‘Psych-Out’
from the New York Times by J Hoberman

American International Pictures, the studio that pioneered the low-budget drive-in fare of the 1950s, specialized in two genres: horror films and youth pictures. Often, the two modes were conflated. In 1957, AIP unleashed “I Was a Teenage Werewolf”; in 1966, the studio brought forth “The Wild Angels.”

Out on Blu-ray and DVD in a fine digital transfer, “The Wild Angels” may not have been the first movie in which a character exclaimed “Out of sight, man!” but, released three summers before “Easy Rider,” and introducing much of the same iconography, this “brutal little picture,” as the New York Times critic Bosley Crowther characterized it, made the hippie youth film possible — and also transformed Henry Fonda’s 26-year-old son, Peter, into Hollywood’s personification of the generation gap.

Exuberantly directed by AIP’s mainstay, Roger Corman, and propelled by a twangy surf-music score (credited to California’s future lieutenant governor, Mike Curb of the singing group the Mike Curb Congregation), “The Wild Angels” traffics in speed, drugs and nihilism. Mr. Fonda stars as the diffident leader of a biker gang, a character he has said he named Heavenly Blues after an allegedly psychedelic strain of morning-glory seeds. Swastikas abound, beginning with the logo for the movie’s title in the opening credits, which transforms a capital T into a version of the crooked cross.

Heavenly Blues’ love interest is played by Nancy Sinatra. Her hair frosted and teased and her part underwritten, she is required to adore Mr. Fonda, although this devotion seems tinged with disdain. Ms. Sinatra had a No. 1 single earlier that year with “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ ” — a proto-punk anthem far tougher than her co-star’s petulant posturing. (Would that the Scopitone film made to promote the song were included as an extra with the disc!) Michael J. Pollard, a year away from his career peak as a sidekick in “Bonnie and Clyde,” plays the gang’s resident beatnik, but the movie belongs to Bruce Dern.

Cast opposite his wife at the time, Diane Ladd, as the wild man the gang calls the Loser, Mr. Dern has a fabulous death scene. His last request is a hit of weed, and his funeral — over which, having been liberated from its coffin, his corpse presides — provides the movie’s most outrageous scene. “We want to be free to ride our machines without being hassled by the Man,” Heavenly Blues proclaims, “and we want to get loaded!” thus signaling his fellow Angels to trash the church, beat up the preacher and stage an orgy in which the Loser’s grieving widow is raped behind the altar.

“The Wild Angels” was hugely profitable and received with appropriate alarm, particularly after being selected to open the 1966 Venice Film Festival. This disgrace “caused a few diplomats to mop their brows,” Crowther wrote, calling the event “an embarrassment.” But the times were changing, and, released 18 months later, in 1968, AIP’s “Psych-Out” (also from Olive on Blu-ray and DVD), an even more delirious exercise in exploitation grooviness, would be praised for its “élan” by Crowther’s successor, Renata Adler.

for the rest of the story go here:
Mar 292015
This has to be one of the goofier covers on a pulp that had plenty of them. The art is by Edmond Swiatek. I'm fond of FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, silly though it may be at times. This issue has stories by a couple of house-names, Alexander Blade and E.K. Jarvis; the actual authors of those yarns don't appear to be known. Robert W. Krepps is in there, too, under his Geoff St. Reynard pseudonym, as is
Mar 292015

    Every year in January, we see them come into the library.  Holding a deluxe, super-bubble protected, and reinforced leatherbound e-reader.  In December, thoughtful children decide that the perfect gift for their traveling, book-loving parents is an e-reader that allows them to wile away the hours without the ten pounds of usual printed materials they lug in their bags.  Or, more commonly, the thoughtful children gifted themselves with the newest version of the e-reader and are passing on the old castoffs to their parents. Sort of like hand-me-ups.

    Unfortunately, what they often forget to do is actually teach their parents how to use the snazzy new(ish) Kindle, iPad, or Nook.  Having thoughtfully loaded up the tablet with the coolest apps and freebies, they hand off to mom and dad what will essentially become a very expensive paperweight. 

    This is probably just as well, as teaching a parent how to use the newest technology is about as mentally healthy as parents teaching their kids to drive.  Alcohol, therapy, and a lot of apologies will eventually be required.  

If you are brave enough to attempt to teach, here are a couple of hints: 1. Be patient. You are essentially speaking a foreign language, so don't jsut start throwing around terms like "drag," "sync," "tab," "update," and "cloud," and expect them to understand. And be honest, you don't know exactly what those terms always mean anyway. I just say "It's magic. Go with it." 2. Repeat. Let's be realistic, the second you're out the door they're going to put it away and ignore it, meaning that they will forget everything about the lesson. So be prepared to repeat lessons, often.

    As a result, in the past few years a librarian's job description includes teaching patrons how to use, not just computers, but tablets and e-readers.  What we once thought of as a threats to our profession (What! Non-print books! Blashemy!) have become a savior.  I actually enjoy teaching adults how to install, download, and read e-books and magazines (I'm stereotyping, but honestly, kids come out of the womb knowing how to Tweet and send Instagrams).

    I was also fortunate enough to be able to use my mother as a guinea pig.  After an instructional session on how to use the three television remotes from my brother left my mom in tears, she looked to me to teach her how to use her new iPhone 5 (and the iPad 2 I gave her when I upgraded.  I admit it).  After having taught my mother how to use the Kindle, Gmail, and Messaging Apps, pretty much nothing a patron not related to me can do to test my patience.

     So, if you are generous enough to keep the past generation updated with the newest technologies, just remember that you might want to gift them with a patient instructional lesson.  Age is not a barrier to learning, nor to technology.  My  mother loves her iPad and her iPhone 5.  She may only send texts that tell me to call her, but it's a start.



In Defense of Jackie Collins

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Mar 292015

by Kristi Belcamino

I'm about up to *here* with people who feel they are superior.

In particular people who feel they are too superior to read certain books.

So here it is out in the open: I like Jackie Collins. I buy her books. I read them in one sitting.

Wait. That's not a confession. I already hinted at that a few weeks ago. I wrote a post about all the books I had pre-ordered so far this year. Jackie Collins' book, THE SANTANGELOS, was included in the post.

One anonymous reader felt turned off enough by this to comment "Yuk" or something similar.

At first I responded and then later, when I had calmed down, deleted my response. But now I figure is as good a time as any to address this.

I like Jackie Collins. I purposefully included her book in my post on this esteemed crime fiction blog. I am too old to be ashamed of my reading taste and frankly, too old to give a shit what anyone else thinks of it.

I read Jackie Collins because I love her heroine. Lucky Santangelo is an Italian-American ball buster. She is ambitious, successful, a rebel, drop-dead gorgeous, and will cut your nuts off if you cross her. My kind of woman. She also lives in a very exciting world that I love to read about. I've liked her since I was a teenager and I'm not going to stop liking her or pretend that I'm too cool to read a commercial fiction book because I'm now a published crime fiction writer.

See, it's utter bullshit that someone who loves crime fiction would look down on commercial women's fiction. Or romance. Or Sci-Fi. Or young adult literature.

A good story is a good story even if the writer doesn't write like Proust.

Literary snobs look down on crime fiction and say "yuk" about it. And you all know about that, and how that is a whole another discussion. So, why would I as a crime fiction writer, think I'm too cool to read Jackie Collins?

You may not like or read Jackie Collins, but I would bet you have your own "Jackie Collins" author who you read. Maybe one you consider a guilty pleasure. Maybe you hide those books and/or don't put them on your bookshelf.

And if someone doesn't want to buy my books or read them because I like Jackie Collins, that is fair.

Because if I'm looking for new readers, Jackie Collins' fans sound pretty good to me:

She recently asked her readers on Facebook who their favorite authors were. Here are some of the responses, but hands down the most frequent answer was HARLEN COBEN.*

You are probably saying STFU! That's right. Harlen Coben.

And believe me, I'll side with Harlen Coben fans all day long.

Here are a few tidbits about Jackie Collins:

* All 29 of her books have made The New York Times bestseller list.
* She has sold more than 500 MILLION copies of her books.
* Her books have been translated into 40 languages.
* Eight of her books have garnered either movie deals or TV series deals.

Give me some of that. All DAY LONG!

So, yes I read Jackie Collins. And I read Umberto Eco. And the Twilight Books, come to think about it. And when I get the new Collins' book, I'll read it and stick it on my living room bookshelf right next to OLD GORIOT by Honoré de Balzac. 

Okay. I feel so much better now. Now, your turn:

Here is your chance to shout out your JACKIE COLLINS-type author. Stand proud. Give it to me in the comments. 

Or not. 


* Besides Harlen Coben, Jackie Collins' fans listed these authors as their favorites:
Charlaine Harris
Stephen King
JA Jance
Agatha Christie
James Patterson
Janet Evanovich
Greg Isles
Danielle Steele

 Posted by at 8:00 am

The Black Hole (1979)

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Mar 292015
A research vessel finds a missing ship, commanded by a mysterious scientist, on the edge of a black hole.

 Nearing the end of a long mission exploring deep space, the spacecraft USS Palomino is returning to Earth. The crew discovers a black hole in space with a spaceship nearby, somehow defying the hole's massive gravitational pull. The ship is identified as the long-lost USS Cygnus, the ship hat a scientists' father served aboard when it went missing. Deciding to investigate, the Palomino encounters a mysterious null gravity field surrounding the Cygnus. The Palomino becomes damaged when it drifts away from the Cygnus and into the black hole's intense gravity field, but the ship manages to move back to the Cygnus and finds itself able to dock to what initially appears to be an abandoned vessel.

 Maximilian Schell
Anthony Perkins
Robert Forster
Joseph Bottoms
Yvette Mimieux
Ernest Borgnine
Roddy McDowall
Slim Pickens

Directed by
Gary Nelson
 Posted by at 12:50 am

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Crime

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Mar 282015
Just over a week ago we announced on this page the beginning of a new book-giveaway contest. Thanks to publisher Quirk Books, we had available to us three copies of The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White. After a random drawing from among dozens of entries, we now have the names of our winners:

June Roberts of Estero, Florida
Jim Henderson of Ohatchee, Alabama
Anne Patrick of Scarborough, Ontario, Canada

Copies of this handsomely illustrated new volume will be sent directly by the publisher to that trio of Rap Sheet followers. We hope they enjoy reading about the myriad authors whose kitchen techniques are recorded in the book, and find some recipes in its 176 pages that are worth adding to their regular repertoire.

If you didn’t win this contest, fear not. We should be offering another one soon. After all, we love giving away books!
Mar 282015
Like so many modern crime-fiction fans, I include 1974’s Chinatown among my favorite films of all time. Aside from its noirish story line and its stellar cast of performers (Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, etc.), one of that movie’s great strengths is its moody soundtrack, responsibility for which belongs to Jerry Goldsmith. I’ve previously showcased that music here, but only today did I happen across the YouTube video below, in which Goldsmith talks about the process of composing his memorable motion-picture score.