Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Short History of The Gunsmith & an Update -- Robert J. Randisi


The Gunsmith Continues

By Robert J. Randisi, aka J.R. Roberts

It was a bloodbath, probably fitting, given how long adult westerns and men's adventure paperbacks have been spilling blood within their pages.  But in one fell swoop publishers, with seeming disregard for the readers—or the readers that were left, anyway—cancelled all the Adult Western series—notably the long running Longarm and Gunsmith series—and mens adventure series—most notably, the Mack Bolan series.  This move, as of April of 2015, will not only rob loyal readers of the adventures of Custis Longarm and Mack Bolan, but will also put entire stables of writers out of work. Both series, along with many others, were written by multiple writers, having supplied work for many working writers for a good 40 years.  In fact, the Adult Western genre not only invigorated the western genre and kept it alive, but provided income for dozens of writers over the years. And now it’s the end of an era for all of them . . .

. . . except The Gunsmith.


Very simple answer. For the most part, the Gunsmith was created and written by one man. When Charter Books contacted me in 1981 and asked me if I could create an Adult Western series for them, I jumped at the chance.  I created a bible and, when it was approved, signed a two book contract.  Then a contract for a third.  And then they called me and said they wanted to go into the genre whole-heartedly, and could I write a book a month.  I was 30 years old, had no idea if I could write a book a month, but I said “Yes!”

I started writing under the pseudonym J.R. Roberts.  When I attended my first Western convention I discovered what anomaly the Gunsmith and I were. There were several other monthly adult westerns running at the time, and they were being written by three or four writers under a single house name. A “house name” is a name used by many authors on one series.  My “J.R. Roberts” nom de-plume was a pseudonym used by one person, not a house name. (It was only after Berkley Books purchased Charter Books and wanted to keep the Gunsmith going that they asked if they could hire two more writers, just to build up an inventory. The writers were to be approved by me, and I was to own even those books which I did not write, and receive a royalty. It made me even more of an anomaly in the genre. Once we had built up a one year inventory, I went back to writing all the books.).

And I have done so since then, for over 32 years.  Gunsmith #1: Macklin’s Women came out in January of 1982, and there has been a Gunsmith every month since then.  Berkley Books decided to end of the run in April of 2015 with #399, and I was given enough warning so that I was able to place the series elsewhere and assure that Gunsmith #400 would appear in May of 2015, with no break in the action.  They will appear with a new cover design in ebook for from Piccadilly Publishing, and in paperback from Western Trailblazers.  And Our Man Clint will go on appearing in a book a month for as long as my flying fingers can flex.

So to those loyal Gunsmith readers who pick up up each and every month, you may continue to do so, with heartfelt thanks from me, and from Our Man Clint Adams.

I should also thank Charter Books, where it all started, and then Berkley Books, which has kept the series going all these years, as we all move on to the next bend in the road.

Letter of Recommendation: Turner Classic Movies By LEON WIESELTIERFEB. 27, 2015

Letter of Recommendation: Turner Classic Movies
The New York Times

Some people turn to psychopharmacology when they are blue. I prefer Turner Classic Movies.
When disappointment has brought you low, or sadness has colonized you, or fear has conquered your imagination, you experience a contraction of your horizon. Your sense of possibility is damaged and even abolished. Pain is a monopolist. The most urgent thing, therefore, is to restore a more various understanding of what life holds, of its true abundance, so that the bleakness in which you find yourself is not all you know. The way to break the grip of sorrow and dread is to introduce another claimant on consciousness, to crowd it out with other stimulations from the world. Sadness can never be retired completely, because there is always a basis in reality for it. But you can impede its progress by diversifying your mind.

Nothing performs this charitable expansion of awareness more immediately for me than TCM. Movies are quick corrections for the fact that we exist in only one place at only one time. (Of course there are circumstances in which being only in one place only at one time is a definition of bliss.) I switch on TCM and find swift transit beyond the confines of my position. Alongside my reality there appears another reality — the world out there and not in here. One objective of melancholy is to block the evidence of a more variegated existence, but a film quickly removes the blockage. It sneaks past the feelings that act as walls.
I recall an evening when my mother was ill in bed and very fragile. The room was lit by only the flickering luminosities of a black-and-white movie that TCM was running. All of a sudden my mother recognized, and quickened to, the sound of Eve Arden’s voice. She gently smiled. It was a small cognitive resurrection. Never mind that I myself have little patience for Eve Arden and her compulsive wisecracking, her tedious insistence upon the last word. The sound of that mondaine voice restored my mother to the rich world in which there were Eve Arden movies. For a few moments, her memory successfully challenged the tyranny of her condition. Her horizon was cinematically extended. She was, however inarticulately, delighted.

When I watch the older movies on TCM, I am struck by the beauty of gray, which makes up the bulk of black and white. How can the absence of color be so gorgeous? Black and white is so tonally unified, so tone-poetic. Shadows seem more natural, like structural elements of the composition. The dated look of the films is itself an image of time, like the varnish on old paintings that becomes inextricable from their visual resonance. There is also a special pleasure in having had someone else choose the film. Netflix, with its plenitude of options, asks for a decision, for an accounting of tastes; but TCM unburdens you of choice and asks for only curiosity and an appetite for surprise. The freedom to choose is like the freedom to speak: There is never too much of it, but there is sometimes too much of its consequences. Education proceeds by means of other people’s choices. Otherwise it is just customization, or electronically facilitated narcissism. Let Mr. Osborne decide!

for the rest go here:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Classic Film TV Post "Horror at 37,000 Feet" and "Ellery Queen: Don't Look Behind You" 

Hey, something's wrong with this plane!
The Horror at 37,000 Feet. What can you say about a movie in which William Shatner gives the most credible performance? That’s the challenge with The Horror at 37,000 Feet, a 1973 made-for-TV film with a better reputation than it deserves. It makes one wonder if the film’s admirers have actually sat through all 73 minutes. The premise shows promise: An airplane departs London with a handful of passengers and cargo consisting of remnants from an abbey used by Druids for sacrificial rituals. It’s not long before the plane comes to a standstill mid-flight, the cabin temperature drops to icy depths, and possessed passengers start spewing Latin. The cast consists of TV veterans Chuck Connors, Buddy Ebsen, Roy Thinnes, Paul Winfield, and Shatner. They struggle with poorly-developed characters, bad dialogue, and inane plotting. At one point, Connors’ pilot copes with the situation by telling the stewardesses to offer free alcoholic beverages! Only Shatner rises above these ruins as a defrocked priest who ultimately takes matters into his own hands. My advice is to steer clear of The Horror at 37,000 Feet and seek out three other nifty made-for-TV terror tales:  Gargoyles (1972), Trilogy of Terror (1975), and Spectre (1977).

I don't think a single strand of
Lawford's hair moves during the film.
Ellery Queen: Don’t Look Behind You. Before NBC launched the popular Ellery Queen series with Jim Hutton in 1975, it made an earlier TV movie with Peter Lawford as the literary detective. Ellery Queen: Don’t Look Behind You (1971) was intended as a pilot for a prospective series that never materialized. It’s easy to see why, although it’s not a total disaster. Based on the 1949 Ellery Queen novel Cat of Many Tails, the plot revolves around a series of apparently unrelated NYC murders committed by a killer dubbed “The Hydra” by the press. The connection between the crimes is a clever one, but it’s revealed with almost half the running time remaining. Even worse, it doesn't take much deduction to figure out the killer’s identity (there are only two viable suspects and one is much too obvious). Unlike Hutton’s 1940s-set series, Don’t Look Behind You is a contemporary mystery and Ellery has been transformed into a ladies man. In lieu of his father, Inspector Queen (wonderfully played by David Wayne in Hutton’s show), Harry Morgan plays an uncle that works for the police department. Lawford and Morgan don’t really click and Stefanie Powers is wasted as a suspect that gets involved with Ellery. Although the teleplay is credited to Ted Leighton, Columbo creators William Link and Richard Levinson may have penned an earlier draft. In an interview on the Ellery Queen TV series DVD boxed set, William Link mentions working on an Ellery Queen movie. However, the script was rewritten while he and Levinson were vacationing in Europe. They had their names removed from it. Given the timing, I suspect he was referring to Ellery Queen: Don’t Look Behind You.



Herbert D. Kastle wrote a number of science fiction stories in magazines of the 1950s. That's where I first read him. Later in the 1960s he was writing those fat sexy bestseller-type novels that owed more to marketing and Harold Robbins than his presumed muse. Then in 1974 he wrote CROSS COUNTRY. Here's a quote from one of the reviews: "This novel seems to occupy the same dark and twisted territory as the works of Jim Thompson. Characters interact in a dance of barely suppressed psychopathological urges and desires that is as grotesquely fascinating as a multi-car pileup on the freeway. It may leave you feeling unclean afterwards, but chances are you will not forget it."

Damn straight. It really is a sewer of sex and terror and blood-soaked suspense. I read it in one long sitting. If it's trash, as some called it at the time, it is spellbinding trash. 

IMDB sums up the story line succintly: "After a woman is found butchered in her New York apartment, suspicion falls on her estranged husband, an ad executive who has suddenly left town on a cross-country road trip. He takes along a beautiful girl he met in a bar and a drifter he picked up along the way. A cop sets out after the husband, but he's more interested in shaking him down than bringing him back."

Kastle masterfully controls his long nightmare journey and you buy into his paranoia. He shows you an American wasteland of truck stops, motels, convenience stores connected by interstate highway and darkness. By book's end everyone will betray everyone else. This is survival of the fittest enacted by a Yuppie businessman, sociopathic hippies and a crooked cop. The sheer nastiness of Kastle's existential vision make this book impossible to forget. Thirty-some years after I first read it I still think of it from time to time when hundreds of other novels have fled from memory.

It's a vision of hell that fascinates you as it troubles your conscience.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Defeatism by the great Lev Levinson

”Old Age is a defeatism that overcomes cowardly and weak people.” - Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) Greek writer

I read this line in the 1970s and thought it sounded completely accurate, although I had no idea of what old age would entail.  I swore never to succumb to defeatism when I became elderly, but was blissfully unaware of what horrors lay ahead.

Now I’m elderly (79) and realize it’s more complicated that one-liners from legendary Greek writers.  Because health issues invariably accompany the aging process, and I regret to inform you that positive thinking cannot overcome cancer, heart attacks, arthritis, etc. in the real world.  Illness comes to elderly people regardless of how positively or courageously they might think.  No one gets out of this world alive no matter how enlightened they might be, or how much quinoa and chia they might consume, or how much yoga they do, or what high-minded delusions we might base out lives upon.

But actually, if the truth be told, Kazantzakis wasn’t completely wrong.  Because sometimes elderly people get depressed and surrender long before it’s necessary to check out, kick the bucket, or whatever you want to call it.  The sad truth is that some unfortunate elderly folks have no interests except wallowing in their misery.  I knew a woman who wouldn’t even watch TV.  She just sat, stared into space, felt sad, and prayed to die.  Then one day her prayers were answered.

We elderly people don’t have the stamina we had back in the day, and certain aches and pains cannot be avoided, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t enjoy many of life’s pleasures such as good food and drink, stimulating conversation, spectator sports, and all the arts.  Many of us even can walk, do calisthenics, and bop around at rock concerts.  And some of us are fortunate enough to fall in love again, although it might be imaginary love affairs with movie stars such as Catherine Zeta-Jones.

So ultimately I think Kazantsakis was right.  The defeatism of old age is a state of mind, a point of view, an opinion or a weakness, really, that undermines whatever lingering happiness is available to fogies and geezers.  Avoid that defeatism by all means if you can.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

JDM & Ross Macdonald

Ed here: This piece is eight years old. I thought Fred Blosser did a very good job with it. Kindle has made the McGees bestsellers again. I'm not sure how it's effected Ross Macdonald.

I've now spent around six hundred dollars working with a service that cannot figure out how I can put graphics on my blog every time I try (or send out graphics to out political readers). This is the third service in two years who've worked on this. It is fricking maddening. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.



You made an interesting observation a couple of weeks ago, "I was shocked when I saw how quickly John D. MacDonald started to fade after his death. I've given his books to several thirty-somethings and to a person they find him 'slow.' " I've been thinking about that reaction. I was big into MacDonald when I was 19 or 20. His books could be easily found in any newsstand, corner drug store, or bus station, kept perpetually in print (or so it seemed at the time) by Fawcett. I never thought of him as slow; far from it. I generally ran through each book in no more than a couple of sittings.

I had hoped for more reaction to your comment than it received. Maybe in itself, that's a measure of how much MacDonald has slipped below the radar, even among crime fiction buffs. If newer readers find him slow going, could it be for these reasons?

--He didn't write in the pared-down, dialogue-driven style now employed by James Patterson, John Sandford, and John Grisham, whose names are as ubiquitous on bookshelves today as JDM's once was. At random, I recently picked up one of MacDonald's Gold Medals, DEADLY WELCOME. At 160 pages, it should be as much of a fast read as they come. Nevertheless, MacDonald devotes as much space to describing his sleepy, stagnant Florida backwater setting as he does to finding out whodunit. For a reader who comes to the novel from Patterson, there may be too much sensory description, not enough straight-ahead action.

--The familiar conventions of today's crime fiction -- serial killers, female sleuths, self-loathing police officers, wacky petty criminals or colorful Mafia goons, detectives defined by vocation (forensic examiners) or ethnicity (Navaho tribal cops) -- are largely absent from JDM's fiction. Could "slow" mean that these younger readers had difficulty adjusting to a novel that lacked those kinds of touchstones? Maybe. Along the same lines, fans of Carl Hiassen, Elmore Leonard, or Tim Dorsey are likely to be disappointed that DEADLY WELCOME, the Travis McGees, and JDM's other novels set in the Sunshine State lack the off-the-wall wackiness and demented characters of the modern Florida crime novels.

--And then there's the fact that society as a whole has changed so much since MacDonald's heyday. How much is the average, thirty-something reader likely to identify with the mindset that generally informs JDM's novels, in which a capable male protagonist drives the action, female characters are usually subsidiary, and crime is an aberration in a generally orderly, forward-looking society? 

You compared JDM's relative slide into obscurity with Ross Macdonald's resurgence. Ross benefitted from the fact that, toward the end of his career, he picked up some acclaim and recognition from the academics. That may have helped Ross to keep going in recent years, if at a lower level of commercial success than in his high-water period between THE UNDERGROUND MAN and his death. To my mind, the current incarnation of the Archer novels, in the Vintage trade pb editions, is more likely to appeal to the cult, scholastic crowd than to the casual surfer of popular fiction.

Fred B.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A really fine piece of work about heroes from Gravetapping

The Western Mythology by Ben Boulden
Posted: 16 Feb 2015 07:42 PM PST
I’m a collector of words and the ideas those words convey. When I come across a passage I think is significant or a passage I like—for no other reason than the way it sounds, its texture, its presence—I write it down. I save it. Then I go back and re-read it. Not often. It may be months or years from that initial contact to our next meeting. It is always out of context because the passage is no longer encapsulated in its original narrative, and I find something more—or sometimes less—than I did on that first introduction. There is such a passage I recently re-read in Brian Garfield’s fine novel Death Wish.

The protagonist Paul Benjamin—an antihero that is less hero, anti or otherwise, than terrified everyman—is fresh from his first successful encounter with a teenage mugger more frightened than he. He sits in his New York City apartment watching a horse opera on television, and for the first time he understands the Western story. Its mythology and power. The story of the strong exploiting the weak. The appearance of an outsider who, against his own self-interest and without any hope of ever belonging to the beleaguered class he defends, appears to make things right. A black and white justice. Good versus evil—

“Cowboys picking on sodbusters and a drifting hero standing up for the farmers against the gunslingers. He watched it for an hour. It was easy to see why Westerns were always popular and he was amazed he hadn’t understood it before. It was human history. As far back as you wanted to go, there were always men who tilled the soil and there were always men on horseback who wanted to exploit them and take everything away from them, and the hero of every myth was the hero who defended the farmers against the raiders on horseback, and the constant contradiction was that the hero himself was always a man on horseback. The bad guys might be Romans or Huns or Mongols or cattlemen, it was always the same, and the good guy was always a reformed Roman or Hun or Mongal or cattleman; either that or a farmer who learned to fight like a Hun. Organize the farmer into imitation Huns and beat the real Huns at their own game.”

The Western as history. Not just American history, but all human history is a big idea. It is also an idea that—in bottom line general terms—is accurate. There have always been, and always will be, those that take everything if left unchecked. The corporate robber barons. The Nazis. The Soviet Communists. The local neighborhood or schoolyard bully. All of us are looking for a hero, or at least an heroic act, to believe in, and the Western is a uniquely American vehicle of delivering that mythology. And one I admire very much. 

New Book Beating The Bushes Christine Matthews

I had just moved to Omaha when I heard a news story about a paperboy in Kansas City who had gone missing. This was years before the internet or even John Walsh. My son was about the same age as the boy and I identified with his poor mother. I thought of her often, wondering how she was getting through each day. Did she still set a place for him at the table? Was she out looking for him or unable to even get out of bed? And how would I react if my son was gone? She had to be living in limbo. There were interviews with her for weeks. Each time she'd end up pleading for her son to be returned. Her pain broke my heart

A year or so went by, updates were on the news marking special days--especially the boy's birthday. Then one night, on a late night show I saw the mother and
she said her son was alive-- she'd seen him. Why then wasn't he home? The woman said it was too dangerous.

Fast forward to milk carton faces, posters in grocery stores, internet searches and America's Most Wanted. It all seemed so overwhelming, so many children snatched away from their homes and out of their parent's lives. But then
Elizabeth Smart came home and Shawn Hornbeck was found safe in an apartment in St. Louis. And I thought about that paperboy in Kansas City.

      It's many years later, now, and it's all come together in BEATING THE BUSHES, but from the points of views of the fathers not the mothers.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

from libby hellmann

i Ed, 

I have a free thriller for you this week (all you brand new 
subscribers have already received it)! This one is near and 
dear to my heart because it's my favorite Ellie Foreman book. 
(Am I allowed to say that?). It also turned out to be the 
prequel to my latest novel Nobody's Child

Have you guessed which novel yet? It's An Image of Death 
and you can access your Kindle copy here. E-pub versions are here.
You'll get a zip file. Just click on it, and the book should pop out. 

Please don't share these links with others! 
Just refer them to this pagewhere they can get their very own 
copy -- thanks!
Self-Publishing Changed Everything

If you're interested in self-publishing, you may want to 
catch my interview with Publisher's Weekly (PW) known as 
the "bible of the book business." I talk about how I transitioned from a 
traditionally published author to an Indie Publisher. 


Second Sunday Crime 
Past Edition 

Check this off my bucket list: my debut as a radio DJ is 
behind me!

If you missed my live interview with Zoe Sharp whose la
test mystery isThe Blood Whisperer, you can listen into the podcast here

We were both a bit weary after attending the Love is Murder 
Conference, but we had a great time discussing everything 
from murder to statistics. 

  Second Sunday Crime Upcoming Edition 

And mark your calendar for my next radio show Sunday
, March 8, 2015, 6 pm CST when I'll be interviewing 
Cara Black whose latest book is Murder on the Champ de Mars. 

Have you visited my Second Sunday Crime 
Facebook page yet? You're welcome to drop on by 
here ​where you'll find all the latest and greatest info.


Cross Your Fingers… 

This JUST happened. On a lark, I submitted 
A Bitter Veil to a screenwriting adaptation contest.
 It cost a little money, so I was thinking, "I'll never see 
that money again!" But... out of over 500 submissions, 
I'm one of the 12 finalists. Who knew? 

We'll find out who actually won next month. 
It might involve a trip to Tinseltown.
Btw, if you're in the Tucson area March 14-15, I'll be 
appearing at the Tucson Festival of Books.Hope you'll 
look me up. I'd love to see you. 
Please add my email address to your safe sender list so 
my emails don't get trapped in the netherworld of your spam box.
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My Latest Novel - Nobody's Child

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Beating The Bushes Christine Matthews


      Here is a stunning suspense novel from Christine Matthews, live on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as of today. Print edition to follow, both from Crossroads Press:

     Two fathers. One missing boy. A friendship that binds the two men, even beyond death.

When fifteen year old Stevie Kracher goes missing, volunteers descend on a small Missouri town to join the search. One of those volunteers is Vincent Lloyd, whose six-year-old little girl had disappeared three years earlier. When her body was finally found, Vince became the prime suspect. Now he sees this new abduction as a chance to redeem himself, and to help save a child.

Baylor Kracher is frantic to find his son. Nothing this devastating has ever happened to him; when he meets Vince he's found the only person he believes might understands his terror. Working with an Internet search group, fighting an aggressive reporter who's convinced that Vince killed his daughter, neither man will give an inch. But are they too late? And if they succeed, are they prepared for what they might find?

  1 Attached Images

Echo 8


Three lives. Two worlds. One chance to save them all.

As a parapsychologist working for Seattle Psi, Tess has devoted her life to studying psychic phenomena. But when doppelgangers begin appearing from a parallel world that's been struck by an asteroid, nothing in her training will help her survive what's to come.

After dislocating to Seattle Psi from the other Earth, Jake is confined by a special task force for study. But when he drains life energy from Tess, almost killing her, it causes a ripple effect across two worlds — and creates a bond neither of them expected.

Ross is an FBI agent ordered to protect Tess while she studies Jake. His assignment is not random — he and Tess have a history, and a connection the Bureau hopes to use to its own advantage. By the time Ross realizes his mission could be compromised, it's already too late — he'll have to choose between his love for Tess and his duty to protect the people of his own Earth. 

Ed here:

As you might guess this isn't my usual kind of reading fare  but I'll tell you I enjoyed this book as much as any I've read in quite awhile.  This strikes me as material for a much better science fiction tv series than those available right now. Fisher's world(s)  is both credible and compelling. She's also as good at people as she is at plotting. Her characters stay with you. Ill tell you ***** all the way. 

Ben Boulden responds to my Dirty Harry Post

From Ben Boulden of Gravetapping


Interesting post on your blog today. I work in downtown Salt Lake City. It is also on the small the side; 200,000 in the city proper, with another million or so in the surrounding suburbs. A place that is relatively safe, but a place that has its problems. I park four large blocks from my office. My parking space is in the paupers section of town where the homeless population is left relatively alone. There is a genuine "Jesus Saves" church / shelter trading meals for sermons, and a handful of secular men's shelters. 

The shelters huddle in a two block radius, and push the homeless men out their doors at 6 AM. On the edge is a park. The city lines the Southeast corner with two or three dozen portable toilets, and during the day it becomes something of a shanty town. In the summer it smells of shit and urine. It is where the Mexican drug gangs peddle their products. They dress as the homeless and offer (I'm told) anything anyone would want. I have stepped over a young woman with a needle in her arm. I have seen a man and woman copulating. And I have seen more than a few upscale looking men and women furtively wander the park; purchasing drugs I imagine. 

I have never felt threatened--panhandled, and at times (and rare at that) prodded and yelled at in that crazy sunovabitch way only mental illness can generate--as I make my daily journey around the edges of the park, but, and this is a straight up middle-class white male reaction, the best sight I see is a couple of SLCPD officers walking, or riding their bikes around the park. A reaction I wish I didn't have, and wish I didn't need to have.

I'm with you. I don't love police, and I don't hate police, but their necessity is absolute. I wish, and this is a tall order in our crazy times, we could be reasonable and expect the police to behave and act within the law, rather than outside it (and I think most do).  The protectors, or the legal enforcers, should be as legally accountable as everyone else.

Great post, and thought provoking, too.

Your friend,

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Dirty Harry

      I recently watched "Dirty Harry, a movie I hadn't seen in maybe fifteen years. As much as Don Siegel is in my top ten of directors, I found myself this time laughing out loud. Seriously.

   What a fascist cartoon "Dirty Harry" is. I'm commenting on  the theme of the movie. The movie making is Siegel-brilliant (Eastwood never could act so that was no surprise). 

  As we know today killer cops walk free all the time. Harry gets all the usual yadda yadda yadda about not being a rogue cop but in reality Harry would have been given a parade, a florid John Wayne speech and a statue. 

  "Dirty Harry" foreshadows the kind of killer cops so much in the news today. And the politicians who enable them. Just recently two cops broke into the wrong apartment and shot an innocent guy sixteen times. Yesterday the DA declined to take any action against them.

  I'm neither a cop lover or hater. There are obviously a lot of real bad cops (more than we're willing to acknowledge) who give the decent ones a bad name. Cedar Rapids where I live has a very good police force. Not perfect but damned good.

  About a quarter century ago drug gangs from Chicago started moving in and with them came a kind of violence we'd never seen before. I'll always remember when a particularly obnoxious thug was interviewed on the local news. The reporter mentioned that the black people who lived here were afraid of these gangsters. Guy says: "We're here and everybody better get used to it." Master of public relations. 

  Well, if nothing else the gangs have made the local news more interesting. We had our first mid-afternoon shoot-out on a main street in the history of ole CR. And who knew a town of a hundred twenty-five thousand would be hip enough to have various permutations on the drive-by shooting phenom performed on our very own streets. Not to mention numerous other stabbings, shootings and mid-day drug auctions. And let us not forget your just down home everyday beatings.

  The black section was never purely black nor is it today. It's a mixture of working class blacks and whites and they've banded together to keep their neighborhood safe. They fear for their kids. And the CR Police have helped with bicycle patrols, setting up shop in the neighborhood itself, attending the neighborhood meetings and making serious efforts to protect the decent citizens. They've also established a hot line. You have a problem you get a cop asap. I have two friends who live in the neighborhood, one black and one white, and they both say that they really consider the police officers their friends.

  This is a long way from the fascist cartooning of Dirty Harry and I for one am all for it. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Paperback Parade now on sale


by Gary Lovisi
    I've been publishing Paperback Parade since 1986, now entering it's 30th year as the magazine for paperback readers and collectors. If you haven’t seen an issue of PP in a while you are in for a big treat, with a new trade paperback format, double-column print, newly designed and packed with over 100 gorgeous full color rare covers it is a feast for the eyes. With Rich Greene, my designer, I work hard to make each 100-page trade paperback-size issue something really special. Each issue begins with "Paperback Talk" where I discuss new books, news, letters. This issue I am joined by 4 great writers with appreciations of the innovative pulp SF of E.E. "Doc" Smith -- Philip HarbottleRichard L. Kellogg, Jon D. Swartz and Richard A. Lupoff all contribute their memories and thoughts on Doc's great work. Ron Fortier talks about his friendship with SF great E.C. Tubb and Tubb's dedication of a Cap Kennedy novel to him. Phil Harbottle continues his examination of Tubb's Cap Kennedy pulp adventure SF series from issue #87 with an extensive detailed bibliography with many books shown in this issue. I take a look at paperback-doms most extreme covers, wild gga, bondage, violent crime cover art. Hollowway House great Odie Hawkins talks about his days writing for that 60s publisher and his early books. Odie is a national treasure. Art Scott adds an interesting piece on cover art pairing, while Rich Greene continues his short column on paperbacks advertised on match book covers. I end the issue with a short bit about a great unknown hard crime noir, The Big Blackout by Don TracyPaperback Parade is available for $15 + $3 postage from Gryphon Books, PO Box 280209, Brooklyn, NY 11228, USA, or through my I know you'll enjoy it if you give it a try.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

from our good friend lev levinson

This morning I watched the DVD of “Entrapment” starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones.  And naturally I’ve fallen madly and hopelessly in love again, this time with Catherine Zeta-Jones.  How could anyone not fall in love with her?  She’s so stunningly fabulous, has that famous Cheshire smile, and seems quite brainy, the kind of person with whom one could converse endlessly.

She’s married to a man 25 years older than she, which means she might not immediately reject a man because of advanced full blown decrepitude such as the sorry state into which I’ve fallen.  According to media reports, she and her husband are not getting along all that great, which indicates opportunities for romantic heroes such as I.

Other reports have indicated that she’s sort of depressed, and occasionally vacations in mental health facilities.  My plan is that I will make contact with her by becoming a patient in one of these facilities that she frequents.  I should have no difficulty getting admitted because I’m obviously a nut job as anyone who’s ever met me knows all too well.

Surely she walks the grounds when she’s not receiving group therapy or dining in the cafeteria.  I’ll merely arrange to casually bump into her, as it were, and become my usually fascinating self.  I’m confident that I can help her because obviously she’s depressed due to her unfulfilling marriage to an actor whose greatest love is probably himself.  That’s why she’s demoralized, poor thing, and vacationing in mental health facilities.  She needs someone who appreciates and understands her, such as I myself, although I’ve never met her and have no idea what she’s like.  But I can always improvise.

I’ll explain to her the great truth which I have learned after many long decades of inquiry into the meaning of life.  And it goes like this:  “We’re not here for a long time.  We’re here for a good time.”

I’m confident that soon she’ll appreciate the truth of this great wisdom, and together we’ll run off to Paris, or Rome, or Tokyo, and spend the rest of our lives in pursuit of pleasure, while acknowledging that the greatest pleasures of all are intellectual and spiritual, or at least that’s what I keep trying to convince myself whenever impure thoughts invade my so-called mind.

After we’re married, I might get invited on “The Jimmy Fallon Show” to discuss my theories of life.  I might even be cast as leading man in her next blockbuster movie.  The possibilities are endless if I play my cards right, although unkind people might be tempted to say that I’m not dealing from a full deck, as indicated by this very email.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Gravetapping Jack Higgins The Iron Tiger


by Ben Boulden Gravetapping

Posted: 14 Feb 2015 03:58 PM PST
The Iron Tiger is the seventeenth novel published by Harry Patterson. It was originally released in the U. K. as a hardcover by John Long in 1966, and it made a pre-The Eagle Has Landed appearance in the United States in October 1974 as a paperback original from Fawcett Gold Medal—the jacket copy reads: “by the author of The Savage Day.” I mention this because I love finding the early U. S. paperback originals.

Jack Drummond is a cynical and somewhat worn out bush pilot making a living flying guns into Tibet. He, like many of Mr Patterson’s characters, is a soft-hearted rogue and something more than he seems. He was drummed out of the Royal Navy Air Fleet during the Korean War for an incident deemed negligent friendly fire, and now works as a mercenary for (so he says) anyone paying the tab.

When he is approached by a beautiful American nurse—returning to the U. S. from two years in Vietnam—to fly a boy who needs eye surgery out of the India-China border country of Balpur he accepts quickly. Unfortunately it doesn’t turn out well for Jack. His plane is a smoldering wreck on the runway of the tiny Balpur airport. A storm—first rain and then snow—raging across the high border country as he escorts, by truck, foot, and horse, an ill boy, a nurse, and an aging priest across the mountainous landscape of Balpur to the Indian border. The Red Chinese army rushing his wake.

The Iron Tiger is both familiar and new, and successful and flawed. It is familiar in that it has the rugged sparse language and plot of Mr Patterson’s best work. It is something of a hybrid between The Year of the Tiger (1964) and The Last Place God Made (1971); although not nearly as good as the later. It also has an echo of Alistair MacLean—the setting, particularly the harsh landscape and weather, and treachery from an unexpected source. The new is the description, especially in the early pages, of India. A particularly nice scene is that of a family giving the ashes of a young child to the Ganges River—

“They stood on the edge of a small crowd and watched the ceremony that was taking place. Several people stood knee-deep in the water, the men amongst them stripped to the waist and daubed in mud. One of them poured ashes from a muslin bag into a larger paper boat. Another put a match to it and pushed the frail craft away from the bank, out into the channel where the current caught it.”

The adventure is pure bliss, but the plot could have been developed more and—this isn’t something I say often—the novel a little longer. The climax was cut short of what it could have been by the brevity of the story. The cavalry was required to save the day (rather than the Drummond and company pulling at off on their own). This isn’t one of my favorite novels by Harry Patterson, but it is entertaining, and fun. 

the greatest america play & an actor equal to it brian dennehy

The Iceman Cometh

From The Guardian UK

Ed here: As someone who spent his college years writing plays and who afterward worked with small theater groups who performed some of my truly  terrible-embaraassing-amateurish one acts I have a great respect for American theater. Love Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams (big fan when I was young; less so now), (some) Albee etc etc. But to me the titan of American theater was and remains Eugene O'Neill and especially Long Day's Journey Into Night and The Iceman Cometh. Be sure to watch the Jason Robards Long Day's Journey on film (readily available) and the TV/theater production of Iceman with among many others the great Robert Ryan and Fredric March (why isn't March recognized for the great actor he was?). BTW the shocker in this current production is Nathan Lane. Chubby funny Nathan Lane is O'Neill's darkest play. He's getting raves.

This is form The Guardian:
Brian Dennehy: 'My director says I have more rage than anyone he's known'
At 76, the actor is currently climbing a theatrical mountain: the five hours of Eugene O’Neill’s bleak The Iceman Cometh. Yet he can’t resist – the playwright’s work, he says, is ‘like being infected with some longterm virus’

Brian Dennehy is tired. Robert Falls’s production of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, first seen in Chicago at 2012, has bellied up to the Brooklyn Academy of Music for another run. So most nights of the week, Dennehy puts on a stained shirt and brown braces, knocking back rotgut in Harry Hope’s saloon for nearly five hours.
It’s his second shot at Iceman, having already starred as the traveling salesman Hickey in a revival at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, also directed by Falls. This time, Nathan Lane plays Hickey, while Dennehy appears as Larry Slade, the bar’s resident “foolosopher”, a former anarchist who has given up on the movement. On life, too. “What’s before me is the comforting fact that death is a fine, long sleep, and I’m damned tired, and it can’t come too soon for me,” he says.
Dennehy, 76, isn’t so nihilistic, though he did say he was hoping to go back to sleep as soon as the interview concluded. He spoke by phone from the bed of his Brooklyn rental apartment and the connection was initially very bad. “The phone that I have now, reluctantly,” he said, “can do anything including walk the dog, but it can’t be used while you’re reclining in bed, which I find very difficult.” Once he’d found a feasible angle, he spoke of his passion for O’Neill’s work and his impressive tolerance for alcohol.
When did you first encounter Eugene O’Neill’s plays?
It would have been 1973 or 1974. I was lucky enough to run into Bill Hickey, a legendary actor and teacher. In a very small theater that surely went out of business a month after we did our show, the Quaigh theater, we did the sea plays. They’re primitive, but at the same time his wonderful dialogue, his wonderful characters are there. It was like being infected with some longterm virus. As an Irish American, it’s pretty hard to resist O’Neill.

Arthur Miller and I had a conversation about it one night. Miller said that O’Neill was the deep diver. He was the guy who went down. He wanted to find out what the soul was all about. And he did. That’s what Iceman is. He went to places that no other writer has ever gone to. He was a philosopher of the soul.
His late plays ask so much of an actor emotionally. What draws you to them? It seems like such hard work.
You’re right. It is. You feel like crap, you’re exhausted, you may be sick, you may have a cold. I’ve got arthritis everywhere. I played football for years and if you’re lucky enough to live long, the football gods, that’s when they begin to really torture you. But it all disappears the minute the lights come up and you start walking down a small dark hallway or climbing down into this tunnel.
I have no idea what the attraction is. I cannot tell you how many times a day I say to myself, “Why am I doing this? Why do I have to go there?” I have no answer for it. The irony is that when O’Neill was writing Long Day’s Journey into Night, he wrote to a friend of his, saying, I can’t work on this anymore. It’s torturing me. It’s just brutal. I’ve decided to start fooling around with something else. I’m writing a play about the old days and I’m having the most wonderful time. I’m laughing all day long. And that was The Iceman Cometh!
The only audience that ever got the joke was in Dublin. The lights came up on that devastated vista of this guy slumped up over the bar, this terrible bar, and the Dublin audience roared with laughter. Roared! It’s a very dark scene to Americans. Not to the Irish! The Irish got it right away. They got every damn joke.
Does Iceman feel different now that you are playing Larry Slade?
It’s easier to understand his motivations and his disappointments. Larry is a guy who wants to break things. Part of his personality is he wants to smash society and that is constantly struggling with his natural sympathy for everyone, even the most sinful of all. As he says, he’ll never conquer it, he’ll look with pity at the two sides of everything until he dies – may that day come soon.
I find O’Neill’s vision of the world uncompromisingly bleak. Does it dovetail with your own?
I don’t even know if I want to answer that. I would just say that I find a lot more to agree with in O’Neill’s vision – you used the word, I didn’t – than to disagree. Except in terms of my kids and my grandchildren and my wife, it’s pretty hard not to look outside yourself and feel bleak. I’m not as dark as O’Neill, thank God. But I have my dark moments.
Do you have to go into that darkness in order to do this work?
My director and my friend Robert Falls – we fight like hell all the time, but he’s probably the person who’s had the greatest effect on my life. Falls always says that I have more rage than any person he’s ever known. I always get nervous when he says that. Tragic acting involves going to those places, places that do actually exist in yourself. I don’t have any trouble tapping into them. That’s probably a personality defect that I should see about getting fixed. But it’s probably too late.
In the play, a staggering amount of liquor is consumed. Have you ever tried to drink as much as Larry does? Could you get through the play if you did?

Unfortunately, the answer is probably yes.