Saturday, December 26, 2009

Chess, Chandler, And Capablanca

It was night. I went home and put my old house clothes on and set the chessmen out and mixed a drink and played over another Capablanca. It went fifty-nine moves. Beautiful cold remorseless chess, almost creepy in its silent implacability.

When it was done I listened at the open window for a while and smelled the night. Then I carried my glass out to the kitchen and rinsed it and filled it with ice water and stood at the sink sipping it and looking at my face in the mirror.

"You and Capablanca'" I said.

-- From Raymond Chandler's, THE HIGH WINDOW (1942)

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Jose Raul Capablanca links:
Bio | The Capablanca chess games | Film footage and photos

Sunday, December 20, 2009

An Angel For A Charlie Brown Tree

There's a Charlie Brown tree growing on site where I'm working. Someone came up with the idea to decorate it for Christmas, so a bunch of us got together, hung ornaments and placed boxes wrapped up as presents underneath. But without a doubt, la pièce de résistance is from a welder who used 2 ought wire to construct an angel for the tree top.

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Merry Christmas everyone.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Robert Urich

It seems when I was a kid there wasn’t a time that Robert Urich (December 19, 1946 – April 16, 2002) wasn’t on television. I grew up on S.W.A.T and Vega$ and because I am a fan of the Robert B. Parker novels, Spenser: For Hire was my favorite. A later gem was the western The Lazarus Man and it’s a shame that series didn’t continue. Interesting premise with his character being buried alive and what role he played in the Lincoln assassination. Of course, his role as Jake Spoon in Lonesome Dove was a highlight of a colorful career. And sadly Mr. Urich died far to young but we can celebrate that he was born on this date in 1946.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

BTAP #54: Shut Up and Kill Me by Robert J. Randisi

--From guest blogger Kieran Shea--

Last month on the 46th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination (no lie), David Cranmer asked me to introduce the final BEAT to a PULP story of the year...a story by Private Eye Writer's of America co-founder and mystery writer extraordinaire, Robert J. Randisi.

Good God. How far has this little 'zine of David's come? I mean, Bob freakin' Randisi? Now that's cool.

I guess David picked me because I had some correspondence with Bob a year or so ago when he offered to critique a story of mine that ended up in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine--one that drew the wrath of one subscriber (so I'm told by the editor) that said subscriber nearly stroked out on her doily-covered sofa. Bob was so helpful and generous with his time. If you ever get a chance to meet him you'll understand why he is adored and loved by so many.

Now then, how does one even fathom introducing a legend like Bob? Hmm. Do you go by the volume of fiction produced? Editorial credits? The genres? The characters? The wit? His amazing singing voice (...who knew? If you were at the Shamus Awards dinner this year, you'd swear Dean Martin had swaggered onto the stage).

The thing is you can't introduce Bob. Hell, at least I can't. But what you can do is read him. Read him, read him, read him and learn how it's done.

The story sports a hard-boiled protagonist mystery fans haven't seen in a while--Nick Delvecchio (No Exit From Brooklyn, The Dead of Brooklyn)--and the story is called SHUT UP AND KILL ME. Read it. And buy Bob's books.

Kieran Shea

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Fistful of Legends

Here's the cover and back to A FISTFUL OF LEGENDS that'll feature my short story “Cash Laramie and the Masked Devil.” The publication date is set for 31 January 2010. Please click over to I.J. Parnham's site for full details.



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Time To Make The Donuts



A quarter of a century later, I now know why my hard-working father laughed the loudest when this commercial first aired.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

BTAP #53: Charlie and Stevie Do a Repo by Kieran Shea

Kieran Shea returns to BTAP with another Charlie Byrne story. If you’re not familiar with Shea’s south Jersey shore P.I., well, what the hell are you waiting for? He’s free to read right now but I have no doubt that will change very soon. So click over to BEAT to a PULP for "Charlie and Stevie Do a Repo" and drop one of the finest amongst us a comment.

Next week ...

Heck, I’m not gonna tell ya who’s up next week. I’ll leave it as a surprise. Because a big occasion like wrapping up a very successful first year at BTAP needs a big finale. And we’ve got a BIG writer lined up. Hate to leave you hanging like this, but I know Kieran’s story will more than make up for it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bang Bang

This song has been lodged in my noggin for days. Is there a song from your playlist that sticks out to you?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Scott D. Parker Comments

Scott D. Parker left a comment on my Rex Stout post that was so damn good I couldn’t see leaving it marooned there. So, with his permission, I’ve reposted his thoughts below. But first, the Stout quote:

"I really mean what I say. A Dickens character to me is a theatrical projection of a character. Not that it isn't real. It's real, but in that removed sense. But Sherlock Holmes is simply there. I would be astonished if I went to 221½ B Baker Street and didn't find him."

Scott, an aficionado of both Doyle and Dickens, had this to say:
Starting last year when I read The Man Who Invented Christmas (about how Dickens came to write A Christmas Carol), I've been in a Dickens mood all year. I read Dan Simmons' Drood and, recently, Matthew Pearl's The Last Dickens, both dealing with Boz's last, unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. I'm going to read the actual Drood in January. Anyway, most books written more than a century ago about a foreign land is, by my mind, removed. What matters is how well the author can speak to a reader a century or more removed.

Dickens, to me, speaks both to his contemporary readership (with his social concerns) but also to us 21st-Century readers (with his timeless tales). His characters are vivid, to be sure, but there is an obvious over-the-topness to many of them. That's why they are so memorable and why words like "Fagin" have become shorthand. Moreover, Dickens' writing style is purposefully fancy in many places. You know you are reading a great writer and he shows off a lot.

Doyle and Holmes, on the other hand, seem to be somewhat more real. True, they both write in the same era but the characters in the Holmes stories are largely nameless. Other than the big names (Holmes, Watson, Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade, Irene Adler, Prof. Moriarty, Mycroft, Sir Henry Baskerville), how many other Holmes characters can you name? Quick: name the guy who steals the carbuncle? Who owns Silver Blaze? Because Doyle's characters are "regular" joes, there's not a lot to help us readers remember them. They are normal and, by extension, more real, to me, than Scrooge, Copperfield, or Little Dorrit. Doyle's writing style, aside from a few Victorianisms and speaking patterns, is pretty modern. You pluck a Doyle story aside a Block story and modern audiences would enjoy and be familiar with both.

Long story short, and, upon further thought, I, too, might change my mind, but I'm going to agree with Stout's comment. Ironically, I've read only one Stout book--Nero Wolf's first adventure--and didn't like it. I may have to give him another try.
Who is more real to you: Dickens or Doyle? Or neither? I'm a fan of Doyle but initially disagreed with the Rex Stout quote because Sherlock Holmes, for me, exists in the same removed sense that Stout attributes to Dickens. But after considering Mr. Parker's astute reasoning, I can clearly understand that point of view. How about you? And is there another character in fiction that you enjoy but is not fully believable?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

TwoFer Tuesday

As I prepared for an extended boat ride, knowing I'd have plenty of time to read, I grabbed some old favorites off the bookshelf and packed them in my suitcase. I realized after lugging around an extra 10 pounds of paper that I should have followed in the footsteps of Clare2e, who has championed the new technology, by purchasing a Kindle. I'll keep it in mind for the next time, but for this trip, one book that proved it's worth in excess weight was Raymond Chandler's THE HIGH WINDOW. Here are two famous lines from this classic:

From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away.

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And now from my short story "Cash Laramie and the Masked Devil," coming out soon, are two lines from a scene where Cash is examining the grisly remains of a fellow marshal:

The sword’s entry through the soft tissue of the neck and exit point through the mouth had ripped the tongue and left it dangling. The detached ear lay in the box next to the head.

For more Two Sentence Tuesday, here's the Women Of Mystery.

Rex Stout Quotes

Rex Todhunter Stout (December 1, 1886 - October 27, 1975) was an American crime writer, best known as the creator of the larger-than-life fictional detective Nero Wolfe. [Wikipedia]

"I really mean what I say. A Dickens character to me is a theatrical projection of a character. Not that it isn't real. It's real, but in that removed sense. But Sherlock Holmes is simply there. I would be astonished if I went to 221½ B Baker Street and didn't find him."

"A character who is thought-out is not born, he or she is contrived. A born character is round, a thought-out character is flat."

"Hemingway never grew out of adolescence. His scope and depth stayed shallow because he had no idea what women are for."

"One of the hardest things to believe is that anyone will abandon the effort to escape a charge of murder. It is extremely important to suspend disbelief on that. If you don't, the story is spoiled."

"If I'm home with no chore at hand, and a package of books has come, the television set and the chess board and the unanswered mail will have to manage without me if one of the books is a detective story."

"I thought if you’re merely good and not great, what is the use of putting all that agony into it?"

"Everything in a story should be credible."

"Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth."

"Of course the modern detective story puts off its best tricks till the last, but Doyle always put his best tricks first and that's why they're still the best ones."

"I have a strong moral sense - by my standards."

"I have never regarded myself as this or that. I have been too busy being myself to bother about regarding myself."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

BTAP #52: Brotherly Love by J.E. Seymour

It rocked him back, aside from the fact that his little brother hadn't ever called him, that he could remember, that his little brother would ask for his help, and the kind of help he couldn't talk about on the phone to boot. His mind went to the only logical conclusion, that his little brother was setting some sort of trap for him. Paully was a cop, Kevin remembered that much, even if he had to struggle to remember what the man looked like.
Is blood thicker than water? J.E. Seymour explores what one brother will do for another in "Brotherly Love."

Next week: Kieran Shea's "Charlie and Stevie Do a Repo"

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Special Day

d.MixThis person is the quiet force behind BEAT to a PULP. She came up with the web design, and she formats the stories each week for publication, making last minute checks for any mistakes Ms. Ash or I may have missed. She also comes up with the Education/Pulp Writer BTAP images to advertise the latest Punch.

While she prefers to stay behind the scenes, I decided I had to do something special for her since I’m still away for work and I can’t be there on her birthday.

She’s my charmer. And I miss her.

Happy Birthday d.

Te amo.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

BTAP #51: They Come From Above by Cormac Brown

Ok, so everyone except the editor/publisher seems to understand the BTAP guideline: New material only. This week, for the second time, we are publishing a story that has been previously released to the blogging world. Cormac Brown had me riveted with a flash piece he posted earlier in the year on Cormac Writes. I couldn’t get his finely-written Twilight Zone style tale out of my head so I asked Cormac if he would be interested in slightly expanding his story for BTAP. He graciously agreed making “They Come From Above” the first flash fiction piece at BEAT to a PULP. Maybe you remember reading it, but don’t let that stop you from checking out this freshened up version from a very talented writer. You won’t be disappointed.

Next week: "Brotherly Love" by J.E. Seymour

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Not Such A Mystery

Maybe it’s because I spend a fair amount of time around construction sites that articles like this jump out at me. Quite often, discoveries of ancient structures bring about the question, how did they do it? Which is usually met with the reply, it’s unbelievable or even impossible. According to the excavation director of the wall in Israel, "To build straight walls up 8 meters ... I don't know how to do it today without mechanical equipment … I don't think that any engineer today without electrical power [could] do it."

Which brings me to the mystery of Stonehenge. Every few years a documentary will spring up claiming it couldn’t have been done by humans with their limited technology. Aliens must have helped. Well, this guy demonstrates how it was probably constructed (hat tip to Francis Callahan for the link). End of mystery, right? I doubt it. The question will likely come up time and time again because it seems each generation has to learn it for themselves.

Now, here’s a mystery that really fascinates me, the 2,000 year old battery. Have its origins ever been figured out? And please tell me we didn't destroy it in the last couple wars.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

BTAP #50: Conjugal by Fred Snyder

Tabitha recognized the guard. He had escorted her through the prison for her previous visit. "You must have impressed him," he said.

"Mr. Boyle?"

"You're the only one who's been here twice."

"He's a nice guy," she said without thinking.

He frowned over his shoulder at her. "For fifteen minutes, maybe. Most nice guys don't spend decades at a time in prison."
Don't stop there. Fred Snyder delivers a knockout story with "Conjugal" this week at BTAP.

Next: "They Come From Above" by Cormac Brown

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Man Who Collected Rocks

Rocks.

No, stones, he called them.

Semantics, I thought.

"Stones just sounds better," he said.

As I’ve traveled, I’ve collected artwork here and there. On my latest adventure, I’ve taken up a new collecting hobby. Rocks. Or, should I say stones as my colleague does? At first, I made fun of him for his collecting preference, one that never once crossed my noggin. But sure enough, ten minutes later, my boot kicked a rock, then I slide it sideways, turning it with my foot, and the strange formation and designs caught my eye.

Since then, it’s become an addictive hobby. Perfect circles tattoo some of them, red map-like veins interweave deep down in others. An assortment of rich greens, whites, and blacks make for a colorful collection. Maybe it seems simple or a cheap thing to collect, but heck, people collect shot glasses, hats, magnets and other little trinkets of a touristy nature when they travel. Why not an actual piece of the country? Here are a few of the rocks I’ve accumulated to take back--though this picture doesn't do them justice, I still have to wash and polish them.

So, while collecting rocks was never something I thought I'd be doing, I’m glad my partner introduced me to it. Anybody else have any interesting or strange collections in their possession?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nik's Story

I hope everyone drops over to Nik Morton's superb blog and drop a comment on a wonderful short story he has posted. And Happy Veteran's Day!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

BTAP #49: Mortification by Sophie Littlefield

Sophie Littlefield's, A Bad Day for Sorry has elicited numerous favorable reviews. Oline Cogdill writing in the South Florida Sun Sentinel says, "Littlefield's exciting debut should be the start of an even more exciting series." Kirkus Reviews said, "First-timer Littlefield creates characters with just the right quirks who charm..." Haven’t read Bad Day yet? You can order it here. And while you are waiting for it to arrive, here is BTAP’s first procedural with Sophie’s brilliant "Mortification."

Next: "Conjugal" by Fred Snyder

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I've Been Everywhere

I've been everywhere, man.
I've been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert's bare, man.
I've breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I've had my share, man.
I've been everywhere.


Johnny is still the man. Whenever I’m traveling for work, I think of his music and back to my youth. I remember spending Thursday evenings with my dad listening to the Man in Black, playing checkers and eating an entire jar of hot peppers while waiting for mom to come back from a church function. Geez, twenty-five years just flashed by. Sorry, not much of a point here, just the ramblings of a man far from home yet again.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

BTAP #48: One Night Near Hangtown by James Reasoner

Labor Day 2009, I’m checking my inbox and sitting there is an email from James Reasoner... with a story. Now, it wasn’t completely unexpected because we had talked about it before but still... it’s a story from James Reasoner! I’ve been a fan for years, so I let the moment soak in and then wondered: Is it a western or a crime story or maybe another sea yarn like he wrote for Dave Zeltserman’s superb final issue of Hardluck Stories.

The title, One Night Near Hangtown, might suggest a western, right? And while James had mentioned to me that it involves early western movie star, Buck Jones, it’s not what you’re thinking when he pairs up Buck with an unlikely friend, just in time for more Halloween thrills. He called the story "whimsical"—I call it truly unique.

It’s a great honor to have James Reasoner at BEAT to a PULP with One Night Near Hangtown.

Next week: "Mortification" by Sophie Littlefield

Friday, October 30, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

BTAP #47: Hunter's Moon by Charles Gramlich

Charles delivered one of BTAP's best received stories back in January and I quickly tapped him for a horror piece, a genre that he's well-known for writing as followers of his standout Razored Zen blog can attest to. Well, Charles did one better with a chilling tale set in space, giving double meaning to the word 'unearthly' not to mention BTAP's first sci-fi horror piece. For a pre-Halloween shiver, here’s Hunter’s Moon.

Next week: "One Night Near Hangtown" by James Reasoner

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ruth Rendell Quotes

Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE, (born 17 February 1930), who also writes under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, is an acclaimed English crime writer, known for her many psychological thrillers and murder mysteries. [Wikipedia]

Quotes

"The knives of jealousy are honed on details."

"One is either a story-teller or one is not. And if you are a story-teller, and it is possible for you to write, you will start writing stories."

"I think to be driven to want to kill must be such a terrible burden."

"I try, and I think I succeed, in making my readers feel sorry for my psychopaths, because I do."

"I think about death every day - what it would be like, why it would happen to me. It would be humiliating to be afraid."

"I would think that the old-fashioned detective story which is so much a matter of clues and puzzles, is certainly on the way out, if not already gone. Crime novels now are much more novels of character, and novels which look at the world we live in."

"Writing is, while the process going on, a very private thing for me. I understand, I quite like the idea that some people write something and they read or show it to a friend or a companion or somebody they live with, and discuss it. But to me that's impossible. If I do that, the whole thing falls apart. It's as if it's brought into the light of day, and reality destroys it. I never discuss it at all."

"To be a classic, a novel should be original."

*

Ruth Rendell interview and her thoughts on English tea.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

BTAP #46: Another Carrot by David Fleming

I reach out to grab the phone and my knuckles smack into an empty whisky bottle. The bottle connects with an overstuffed ashtray and the whole lot goes ass-over-tits onto the floor. By some sort of miracle the bottle bounces on its thick end, rolls under the bed and scares the cockroaches. It's the ashtray that hits the hard floor and breaks apart.

Sunlight slants through the rickety blinds and punches me in the face. My head feels like there's hyenas living in it. I roll over, shut my eyes and pick up the receiver.
Read more of David Fleming's colorfully written tale here.

Next week: Charles Gramlich with "Hunter’s Moon"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

BTAP #45: The Year of the Dragon by Stephen D. Rogers

Last time I was home, digging through some boxes, I came across an old issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine with the following poem:
"On My Mark"
By Stephen D. Rogers

If there’s any downside to a con
It’s the marks over which I must fawn
It’s the bores with whom I must deal
It’s the honest who jump at a steal
It’s the fools who think that they know
Like this Belgian I’ve picked named Poirot
(Sept/Oct 1999)
Stephen D. continues to entertain with the thrilling tale "The Year of the Dragon" at BEAT to a PULP.

*Poem used with permission of the author.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Still Moseying Around

I've gotten emails from some folks asking why my blog comments are turned off, so I thought I should mention again that I'm traveling for work and will be for the rest of the year. Internet access is sporadic at the moment and beginning next week I doubt I'll have access at all.

But fear not BTAP readers, I have an amazing support system with Elaine and dMix and the Weekly Punches will continue to roll out with some incredible surprises in store (hint: two of the biggest pulp writers on the planet and a writer who is sizzling with her latest novel deliver knockout blows).

Also, we've received some terrific submissions for the BEAT to a PULP print anthology planned for late 2010. I still need pirates! C'mon, who hasn't watched the swashbuckling films of Errol Flynn, Burt Lancaster and Johnny Depp and then wanted to tell a seafaring adventure of their very own. Aye, mate? Please keep in mind, it may take several months before you receive an acceptance notice due to the high volume of submissions and sorting process.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

BTAP #44: The Devil Wears Carhartt by Andy Henion

I'm in Newark, of all places, for a fertilizer conference. Which means I spend the weekend kissing ass in hopes of scoring five-percent discounts. You don't manage two thousand acres these days without sucking up to someone, be it suppliers or lobbyists or government lackeys. Fucking politics, man. This is what American farming has become.
Read more of Andy Henion's story, "The Devil Wears Carhartt."

Next: Stephen D. Rogers's "Year of the Dragon"

Soon: Charles Gramlich with "Hunter’s Moon"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

BTAP #43: The Red Ruby Kill by Brian Drake


Jack Dillon's acne-scarred face remained still as the detective pulled the morgue drawer open. The metal track moaned. Dillon looked at the wrapped body as a mist of chilled air touched his cheeks. The detective unzipped the body bag and exposed the dead man's face. Dillon moved more of the bag aside to reveal the jagged lightning bolt tattoo on the dead man's left shoulder. He tilted his head to the side and said: "That's Harry." A slight Irish accent filtered his words.
Read more of Brian Drake's story, "The Red Ruby Kill."

Next week: "The Devil Wears Carhardtt" by Andy Henion

Soon: Sophie Littlefield's "Mortification."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bat Masterson

William Barclay "Bat" Masterson (November 26, 1853 – October 25, 1921) was a figure of the American Old West known as a buffalo hunter, U.S. Army scout, avid fisherman, gambler, frontier lawman, U.S. Marshal, and sports editor and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph. He was the brother of lawmen James Masterson and Ed Masterson. Wikipedia

Quotes

"New York is the biggest boobtown there is. They will buy any damned thing here."

"When a man is at the racetrack he roars longer and louder over the twenty-five cents he loses through the hole in the bottom of his pocket than he does over the $25 he loses through the hole in the top of his pocket."

"It was as a hunter he won his name of 'Bat', which descended to him, as it were, from Baptiste Brown, or 'Old Bat', whose fame as a mighty nimrod was flung all across, from the Missouri River to the Spanish Peaks, and filled with admiration that generation of plainsmen which immediately preceded Masterson upon the Western stage." (Bat, writing in third person, explains his nickname in his book Gunfighters of the Western Frontier, (1907).

"At the earnest request of many citizens of Ford county, I have consented to run for the office of sheriff, at the coming election in this county. While earnestly soliciting the sufferages of the people, I have no pledges to make, as pledges are usually considered, before election, to be mere clap-trap. I desire to say to the voting public that I am no politician and shall make no combinations that would be likely to, in anywise, hamper me in the discharge of the duties of the office, and, should I be elected, will put forth my best efforts to so discharge the duties of the office that those voting for me shall have no occasion to regret having done so. Respectfully, 'W. B. MASTERSON.'" (Dodge City Times, 1877)

"Every dog, we are told, has his day, unless there are more dogs than days."

"I arrived here yesterday and was met at the train by a delegation of friends who escorted me without molestation to the business house of Harris & Short. I think the inflammatory reports published about Dodge City and its inhabitants have been greatly exaggerated and if at any time they did 'don the war paint,' it was completely washed off before I reached here. I never met a more gracious lot of people in my life. They all seemed favorably disposed, and hailed the return of Short and his friends with exultant joy. I have been unable as yet to find a single individual who participated with the crowd that forced him to leave here at first. I have conversed with a great many and they are unanimous in their expression of love for Short, both as a man and a good citizen. They say that he is gentlemanly, courteous and unostentatious - 'in fact a perfect ladies' man.' Wyatt Earp, Charley Bassett, McClain and others too numerous to mention are among the late arrivals, and are making the 'Long Branch' saloon their headquarters. All the gambling is closed in obedience to a proclamation issued by the mayor, but how long it will remain so I am unable to say at present. Not long I hope. The closing of this legitimate calling has caused a general depression in business of every description, and I am under the impression that the more liberal and thinking class will prevail upon the mayor to rescind the proclamation in a day or two." (Letter from Bat to the Daily Kansas State Journal, June 9, 1883)

"There are those who argue that everything breaks even in this old dump of a world of ours. I suppose these ginks who argue that way hold that because the rich man gets ice in the summer and the poor man gets it in the winter things are breaking even for both. Maybe so, but I'll swear I can't see it that way." (This last quotation was also Masterson's last words; it was a bit for a column found on his typewriter. He died while typing.)

My Friend Wyatt Earp by By W.R. Masterson

Additional sources:

Ford County Historical Society

Sangres.com

Saturday, September 19, 2009

BTAP #42: A Wild and Crazy Night by John Kenyon

Tracy freaked out when her son staggered into the living room with an arrow through his head. Me? I laughed.
What an opening! And you'd be crazy not to read the rest of this John Kenyon tale. Check it out here.

Next week: Brian Drake with "The Red Ruby Kill"

Coming Soon: "One Night Near Hangtown" by James Reasoner

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: WAR STORIES, SEA YARNS & COZY MYSTERIES

Spread the word, please! There will be only a few openings, but the first print anthology for BEAT to a PULP is in the works. To round out our usual, diverse array of pulp genres, we are actively seeking war stories, sea yarns and cozy mysteries. 4,000 words or less. The BEAT to a PULP print collection will be released in 2010.

Send submissions to: submissions@beattoapulp.com

*Stories not selected for the print publication still have a chance to appear on our Weekly Punch.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Two Sentence Tuesday

I've been absent from the TwoFer posting for awhile but am now returning with some lines that will be published in print before year’s end. The title is Cash Laramie and the Masked Devil:
Drawing his Colt, Boland pulled back the hammer with a ratcheting click and fired three shots at the oncoming apparition. Then he pitched to the side, his hat tumbling away, as the legs of the ghostly white horse came crashing down beside him.
I had previously posted lines from this piece in June when it was still a work in progress.

*

Cornell Woolrich remains a huge influence and since I've been traveling, I've taken the time to really savor the re-publication of Fright. I read just a chapter a day, often re-reading certain paragraphs to allow Woolrich's exceptional prose to really settle in.
He kept his face back beyond her reach. He had a longer arm-span than she, and her hands flickered help-lessly upon his arms, like wriggling snakes trying to clamber up a pair of fallen tree trunks.
The ladies at Women of Mystery can supply you with more Two Sentence Tuesday here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Buster Keaton - Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)

Steamboat Bill, Jr. is the story of a naive, college-educated young man who must prove himself to his father, a riverboat captain. This silent classic features the famous stunt where a cyclone blows down a wall on top of Keaton who passes, unharmed, through a precisely placed open window.




2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10


Related links:

Roger Ebert: The Films of Buster Keaton

Reviews of Steamboat Bill, Jr.

AMC filmsite

Combustible Celluloid

DVD.net


Other silent flicks posted on EPW:
The Navigator | A Trip to the Moon | Faust | Sherlock Jr. | The Great Train Robbery | The Iron Mask

Saturday, September 12, 2009

BTAP #41: Cedar Mountain by George Miller, Jr.

Photo courtesy of George Miller, Jr.BEAT to a PULP's Weekly Punch presents a diversion from our usual pulpy tales with George Miller’s "Cedar Mountain." This story had been part of Elaine Ash’s successful writing challenge that also included Keith Rawson and Frank Bill. For personal reasons, G (as he’s known by in the blogging community) had withdrawn his entry, which Ms. Ash thought was well-written, and after reading it myself, I couldn't have agreed more. I contacted G and asked what became of this remarkable piece. He said he had posted it on his blog but was happy to take it down to allow BTAP to publish it. And so, "Cedar Mountain" finds its new home at BEAT to a PULP.


Next: John Kenyon has "A Wild and Crazy Night" in store for us.

Soon: Andy Henion discovers "The Devil Wears Carhardtt."


*Photo courtesy of George Miller, Jr. Enhancements by dMix

Thursday, September 10, 2009

BTAP Stats

US, China, Italy, UK, Canada, Australia, Poland, Japan, France, Singapore, Russia, Moldova, Germany, Malaysia, Netherlands, Belgium, Mexico, Romania, Switzerland, Serbia, Montenegro, Egypt, Estonia, Republic of Korea, India and New Zealand all stopped by BEAT to a PULP this week and we would like to say thanks for continuing our ratings streak. 1,236 visitors and 10,122 hits in five days ain't bad.

Hilary Davidson's "Insatiable" is our first story to continually gain more readers with each day. Normally, traffic is heavy the first couple of days after a new weekly punch is posted and then, understandably, it levels off. So thanks to Hilary for such an exceptional story and to our fan base that continues to grow. It is very much appreciated.

With all these countries showing up, I got to thinking how great it would be to read a Romanian Noir or a Western from down under. A high seas adventure from India? Why not? Polish up that submission and send it to submissions@beattoapulp.com. Now, there is a vetting process and I recommend reading one of our stories first to see what we are looking for. But, I can tell you, I'm all ears for a Moldova war story or an Italian horror piece. That would be cool, wouldn't it?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The importance of labeling

I've recently discovered the importance of labeling artifacts is not to be underestimated. This clay pen holder masterpiece was created by yours truly in 1980. And the reason I know this is because my name and date are etched in the bottom. Now that's foresight! Sadly, this colorful face mask in the picture below is not the same case. I picked it up in either Cameroon or Belize. It seems that it should be obvious because styles can be so distinctive but for some reason, I'm not completely sure. I'm leaning toward Cameroon. Anyone got a good guess?!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

BTAP #40: Insatiable by Hilary Davidson

Hilary Davidson has the spotlight this week at BEAT to a PULP with Insatiable. With Hilary’s new book to be released in 2010, I had a few questions about her writing career that she very graciously took the time to answer.

BTAP: Your debut novel, The Damage Done, is coming out next year. You must be very excited. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

HD: Excited may be an understatement. The Damage Done will be published by Forge in October 2010, and I'm already counting the days. The book is about a woman who has an extremely dysfunctional, and destructive, relationship with her sister. At the outset, the main character, Lily, comes home to New York because the police have told her that her sister, Claudia, has been killed. But as soon as Lily sees the body at the morgue, she realizes it's not her sister's. The dead woman had stolen Claudia's identity, and Claudia -- a heroin addict with a violent history -- has vanished. To the police, Claudia shifts from victim to suspect. Lily becomes obsessed with searching for her, even though she's afraid of what she's going to find. As she goes after Claudia, Lily's own life starts to fall apart.

BTAP: You have been very successful as a writer for magazines like Reader's Digest, Martha Stewart Weddings, Discover and Canadian Living. What made you decide to take the plunge into crime fiction?

HD: My dream was always to write fiction, but journalism was and is a pretty terrific day job. When I quit my editing job to write full-time a decade ago, I made the mistake of thinking that I'd have more time for fiction. Instead, I found that after I'd written 2,000 to 3,000 words a day for work, there wasn't much time left for fiction. Also, since I'd write mostly about travel, I was often on the road, which sounds glamorous, but producing 18 travel guidebooks is mostly grunt work. I started writing bits and pieces of the novel that became The Damage Done ten years ago, and set them aside for later. Eventually, my characters strong-armed me into writing the book. I would literally wake up at four in the morning and not be able to go back to sleep until I wrote a chapter. Finally, I had to turn down some paying work -- hard for a freelancer to do -- and carve out time during the day to write fiction. That's when the four a.m. wake-up calls stopped. I can't really say that I decided to do it. It didn't seem like a choice so much as a compulsion.

BTAP: Who would you say has most influenced your writing?

HD: The two biggest influences on my short fiction are Edgar Allan Poe and Harlan Ellison. They share the ability to drop your heart into the pit of your stomach by the time you get to their last lines. While I was working on The Damage Done, I was thinking of work by Jim Thompson, Patricia Highsmith, Walter Mosley, Dennis Lehane, Anthony Burgess and, strange to say, Edith Wharton. I don't mean that I was trying to follow another writer's style, but I'd think about them as I worked out pacing, perspective, dialogue, detail. They helped me deal with problems I'd run into as I wrote.

BTAP: Do you see yourself ever giving up journalism to write fiction full time?

HD: Writing fiction has become my priority, but in many ways, journalism feeds my fiction. My mantra has been that I'm willing to do pretty much anything for a good story. One magazine actually paid me to learn to scuba dive and then explore shipwrecks in the St. Lawrence river. That kind of assignment is incredible. Travel writing has let me visit places that intrigue me, from Istanbul to Easter Island, and I use those locations in some of my fiction. If I can continue to learn and explore through journalism, I'll keep working on it, too.

BTAP: I see you started a Gluten-Free Guidebook website. Can you tell us a little about that?

HD: In 2004, I was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called celiac disease. The only treatment for it is to stay on a completely gluten-free diet. That means no bread or pasta, of course, but also no soy sauce, no beer... no to many processed foods. The upside was that I was suddenly free of some painful health problems. The downside was that it seemed like I'd never eat out again. I didn't want to live like that, so I spent a lot of time researching restaurants and finding ones that could accommodate me. It hit me when I was in Peru in 2007 that I was doing so much research, and yet I was the only person benefiting from it. I started the Gluten-Free Guidebook website after that so I could share the places I've found. The response has been amazing. People from all over the world come to the site, and some of them send me tips or write up entire reports about the places where they live. The site has really taken on a life of its own.

BTAP: I noticed you moved from Toronto to New York in October 2001, right after 9/11. Did this have an impact on your writing?

HD: The timing was accidental. I'd applied for a Green Card and it came through in August 2001. I gave notice on my apartment in Toronto and hired a moving company, then went to a travel writers' conference in Bermuda. I was supposed to come back to Toronto and start packing on September 12th, but ended up grounded in Bermuda in the aftermath of 9/11. While I was there, I thought about canceling, or at least delaying, my plans to move. But by the time planes were flying again, I was feeling angry and defiant, and I made the move in October the way I'd originally planned.

There are some images from my first year in New York that will stay with me forever. My apartment is a few blocks from the 69th Regiment Armory, which was plastered with posters of people who died in the attack. It was a depressing time to be in New York in so many ways, but being there meant that I got to watch the city rebound. It also gave me a different sense of the city, as if it were a living, breathing organism. One of the comments that I've heard over and over about The Damage Done is that the portrayal of New York is incredibly vivid. A lot of the exploring that I did started in the days after 9/11, when visitors avoided the city and below 14th Street was a no-drive zone. In a way, it was such a privilege to be in New York at that time. But I hope never to see it like that again.

BTAP: Thanks, Hilary, and best of success with The Damage Done.

If you have an Insatiable appetite for crime fiction, then you won’t want to miss Hilary Davidson’s riveting tale over at BEAT to a PULP.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Addendum

Sandra sent me a link to The Western Online. I may just have to submit. It has a very impressive look. Also Gary Dobbs has a well written piece on Johnny Ringo here. And speaking of westerns: Now That´s Rural Silver Screen Cowboy Museum.

*Don't forget to support the genre by ordering Chap O'Keefe's Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Links On The Run

The day job has infringed on my time to enjoy a good book, and with other things like writing and BTAP taking up more of my evenings, I am often turning to the net to find some welcome and pithy diversions. Here are some that I found this week.

Patti Abbott is on a roll. Over at The Back Alley, she delivers once again with "Raising the Dead." Also in the issue is a fascinating look at Frank Norris and his classic noir, McTeague.

Charles Gramlich has posted A Time to Hang Up Your Guns: Part 1. I was totally immersed. A very thought-provoking piece, eloquently written.

In the news: An author's guide to the Google Books flap is helpful. Where do you stand on it? Germany seems to have an opinion. One of my favorite books, Deep Water, is going to the silver screen. I hope they don’t screw it up.

Via Laurie Powers today, I found this fun site, Pulp of the Day.

Oh, and some BEAT to a PULP promotion... Please return in two days when Hilary Davidson delivers one helluva punch.

Monday, August 31, 2009

My Take On...

Beauty and the Bounty by Robert J. Randisi.

Plot Decker the bounty hunter is on the trail of a beautiful con artist/robber who's left behind a long line of empty bank vaults. His search is sidetracked when he gets involved with a woman looking for her sister.

Why Get It Randisi's kinetic storytelling.

Excerpt If the man alone did not attract attention, there was the hangman's noose, which quickly identified him to one and all, and the weapon he wore on his hip. It was a shotgun that had been sawed off at both the barrels and the stock, and then slipped into a specially made holster. The whole rig had been designed for him by a gunsmith friend when Decker discovered that he was almost hopeless with a handgun. With the shotgun he rarely had to aim to hit what he was shooting at, and with a rifle he was... adequate.

Bottom line If you like straightforward action-packed westerns (like I do) then BEAUTY is a must read.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

BTAP #39: Midnight Showdown by Sandra Seamans

Jagged lightning speared through the black clouds that were stampeding their way across the face of the moon, flickering torches that kept the darkness at bay. Sheriff Tom Gage stumbled as he stepped out of the Silver Lady Saloon to make his evening rounds. Righting himself, he looked around to see if anyone had noticed. He'd worked too hard to gain a position of trust in this town to lose it because of a few drinks.
Sandra Seamans makes her second appearance on BEAT to a PULP with a brisk tale from the western variety. Don't miss the "Midnight Showdown."

Next week: Hilary Davidson's "Insatiable"

Under The Tonto Rim

Hulu has added Under The Tonto Rim (1947) starring Tim Holt, a B western that throws in every enjoyable cliché an aficionado can look forward to. But being a RKO flick, it's a cut above B movies from other studios of the time. This pithy story, based on the Zane Grey book, clocks in at an hour and twelve seconds. Richard Martin and Nan Leslie also star, with Jason Robards appearing in an early supporting role. A complete synopsis can be found at AllMovie.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pleasance

In this old west town, a gunfight ensues pitting good versus evil in a duel to the death.

CASH LARAMIE and the MASKED DEVIL by Edward A. Grainger, coming soon.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Accepted!

I’ve received the good news that a short story of mine will appear in the follow-up anthology to WHERE LEGENDS RIDE coming out later this year from Express Westerns. I’m very humbled to be a part of the project that will contain tales from many Black Horse Western writers. Special thanks goes to Ray Foster for forwarding a question of mine along to Nik Morton, which got the ball rolling, and also to Nik and Charlie Whipple for their fine editing and helping me tighten the storyline.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

BTAP #38: Hit Women by Clair Dickson

I jammed the car into reverse. Changing gears got a short squawk out of the tires. Of course, I didn't have the address. I stopped at the police department, figuring I could kill two birds with one stone.

Wendy was at the front desk. When we're getting along, we leave bite marks on each other. I strolled right past her, which makes her chatter like an angry squirrel. She's even got the big tail.


I’m pleased to say Clair Dickson's hard-hitting PI, Bo Fexler, is the Weekly Punch at BEAT to a PULP. Get your Fexler fix with "Hit Women."

Next: Sandra Seamans brings us "Midnight Showdown"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bat Masterson

I've been watching this old entertaining tv western and can't get the theme song outta my head. Not the best quality here but I recommend clicking over to HULU and checking out a few episodes.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Zeltserman's "Julius Katz"

I’ve read the first two pages of Dave Zeltserman’s “Julius Katz” in the Sept/Oct issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and have set the story aside because I’m annoyed. Why didn’t I think of this? Brilliant. Unique. Refreshing. What am I referring to? Well, I’m not going to spoil it so let's just say that PI Katz has a very interesting sidekick. For years, I’ve been tired of the same old detective stories with retreads of Marlowe, Spade, and Archer. Not now. Mr. Z has created a character--no make that two, Katz himself is interesting all by his lonesome--that will have even the most jaded of readers recharged by this new take.

I must be going, my chariot awaits. But thankfully I have the rest of Zeltserman’s short to finish reading on the ride. Then I will stew some more... why didn’t I think of this?!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

BTAP #37: Diseases from Loving by Alec Cizak

She pulled it out of her purse. Slowly, cautiously, always looking around, making sure I was the only one who could see it. She said it was a .32. I believed her. Just as quickly as she showed it to me, she shoved it back in between a plastic bundle of tissues and what appeared to be a thin red wallet.

"That's why I'm drinking like this, mister." She chased her words with a shot of whiskey. Her fifth, by my count.

You know you can't stop there. Finish Cizak's masterful noir here.

Next: Clair Dickson's "Hit Women," featuring fiction's boldest and baddest detective, Bo Fexler.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How One Thing Leads To Another

A.J. Raffles? Thomas Carnacki ? As I began reading The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 1910 I was scratching my noggin. I had missed the previous installment and well known characters like The Invisible Man were gone. I checked Bookgasm’s review and Rod Lott suggesting “research those characters on Wikipedia beforehand.” So I clicked over to the Wiki bio on the fictional Raffles:

Arthur J. Raffles is a character created in the 1890s by E. W. Hornung, a brother-in-law to Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. Raffles is, in many ways, a deliberate inversion of Holmes — he is a "gentleman thief," living in The Albany, a prestigious address in London, playing cricket for the Gentlemen of England and supporting himself by carrying out ingenious burglaries.

Further down:

The model for Raffles was George Ives, a Cambridge-educated criminologist and talented cricketer according to Lycett. Ives was a discreet gay, and although Hornung "may not have understood this sexual side of Ives' character", Raffles "enjoys a remarkably intimate relationship with his sidekick Bunny Manders."

So being a history buff I kept investigating. And if you're interested, the Ives bio is here. Cheers!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Saturday, August 8, 2009

BTAP #36: I Celebrate Myself by Nik Morton

Nik Morton writing as Ross Morton has just seen the release of his latest Black Horse Western novel The $300 Man. He is also a very in-demand editor, busy at work on the follow-up to Where Legends Ride. And he still found time to submit a second story to BEAT to a PULP. It’s poetic, heartfelt, and brutally honest. Put simply: an extraordinary piece of writing. Here's "I Celebrate Myself."

Up next: Alec Cizak gives us “Diseases From Loving”

Coming soon: Sandra Seamans returns with a very different kind of western, “Midnight Showdown”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Links

I see A Twist Of Noir has video! And the latest Thuglit is out. I disagree with Mr. Richards and enjoyed HUNDRED DOLLAR BABY quite a bit. Oh, and I recomend buying this book straight away. Damn fine writing and BTAP will feature a story of his this weekend.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

BTAP #35: Esther Meaney by Patricia Abbott

Patti Abbott helped put BEAT to a PULP on the radar with “The Instrument of Their Desire,” which has been picked by Ed Gorman for an upcoming anthology. This week she returns to our pages with another equally riveting story. Make way for “Esther Meaney.”

Next week: Best-selling author, Nik Morton, with “I Celebrate Myself”

Coming soon: David Fleming has “Another Carrot” to share

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Poe Action Figure

I saw this Poe doll in a store in Bar Harbor, Maine. I went home and between the thumping under the floorboards and the damn bird pecking at my chamber door, I knew what I had to do. So, this thirty-nine year old kid went back the other day and bought my first action figure since I don't know when.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Traveling Man

Folks, I’m out and about traveling and will be for the next several months. Some of the places I’m stopping have zilch for Internet. In others, I’m crazy busy. So I will be turning off my comments because I feel it’s unfair to expect comments when I can’t reply on a regular basis. Please don’t go away. I do have posts scheduled and each week Elaine and d will be putting up the Weekly Punch at BEAT to a PULP with the links right here. And I will visit everyone’s site as often as I’m able.

Most of you have my e-mail so please feel free to drop a line for anything.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

BTAP #34: Marmalade by Keith Rawson

I wanted to highlight a passage from this week’s splendid Weekly Punch but unfortunately I couldn’t do so without snagging a paragraph that wasn’t laden with profanity and deranged elements that would do harm to our more sensitive readers. Achtung, then, is the watchword for them: this introduction is as far as you should proceed and I’m sure the HSN has some fine programming scheduled. However, for our strong at heart readers, here’s Mr. Rawson with a dollop of “Marmalade.”


Next: “Esther Meaney” by Patricia Abbott

Coming soon: Hilary Davidson’s “Insatiable”

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday's Forgotten Books: The Hidden Stone Mystery by Fran Striker

The Hidden Stone Mystery (1950) is fifth out of eight Tom Quest adventures. College-aged Tom is the son of Hamilton Quest, a famous scientist and explorer. In STONE MYSTERY, a stone marking the boundary of the land 'given' to the Mandan Native Americans by the government had become buried over time. With the boundary line blurred, a syndicate begins mining the land adjoining the Mandan village, prospecting for uranium. When the stone is re-discovered, Hamilton is brought in to verify its authenticity. He does, making the syndicate very unhappy. To keep their lucrative property, the syndicate hires other scientists to dispute his findings. Hamilton is labeled a fraud and Tom sets out with his friends, newspaperman Whiz Walton and a gigantic Texan named Gulliver, to prove his father’s innocence.

I had never heard of Tom Quest but was well aware of author, Fran Striker, best known for creating The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet. For someone who enjoys kids books (though middle-age is tapping on his shoulder), I can see why the Quest adventures didn’t do as well as, say, The Hardy Boys. In STONE there are too many grown-ups getting in the way, or, I should say helping out. Whiz provides most of the essential information and the appropriately-named Gulliver the muscle. This arrangement may be more realistic but us kids like to think our teenage heroes can go it alone. Based on this book alone, I liked The Hidden Stone Mystery and would recommend it to those, like me, who never seemed to let go of Frank and Joe Hardy, Nancy Drew, etc.

Check out Patti Abbott's blog, our hostess for Friday's Forgotten Books.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Barefoot Boy

Dad, I just wanted to say Happy Birthday and post an old poem that I remember you quoting from time to time.

*****


Clayton Oliver Cranmer

(1928-2005)

Photo taken 1942


*****



"The Barefoot Boy"
by John Greenleaf Whittier

Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy,—
I was once a barefoot boy!
Prince thou art,—the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye,—
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood’s painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor’s rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee’s morning chase,
Of the wild-flower’s time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole’s nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape’s clusters shine;
Of the black wasp’s cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy,—
Blessings on the barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood’s time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!

Oh for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread;
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone, gray and rude!
O’er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs’ orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy!

Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt’s for work be shod,
Made to tread the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

BTAP #33: Kissy-Face by Cindy Rosmus

blockquote>"Oh . . . one more thing," Misty said, from the register. When she turned around, she wasn't smiling. "You can't tell him why you're kissing him."

"Then forget it," Katrina said. "What if it's some creep?"

Sandy lit up. Imagining some fat, needy slob walking in . . . for Katrina's turn . . . made her howl with laughter. It was the first time she'd laughed in a long time. Maybe since she'd met Juan. It felt so good.
Wondering what these ladies are up to, then click on over to Cindy's "Kissy-Face."


Up Next: A serving of "Marmalade" from Keith Rawson

Coming Soon: John Kenyon's "A Wild and Crazy Night?"

Friday, July 17, 2009

For Barbara

Barbara Martin occasionally posts a Bench of the Week at her blog, and, doing a little sleuthing, I found the idea originated with Norway's Fjell, Hordaland. I promised her a few weeks ago that I'd post a bench pic and here it is. This was taken at Wadsworth Cove in picturesque Castine, Maine, sunset on July 4th. The inscription reads:

In Loving Memory of
Ginny Kneisel
Beloved sister, aunt and friend
"Thank you for the music"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Deringer

My friend Jay is a police officer in our nation's capital and was recently assigned to watch over the Deringer that killed President Lincoln. I can only imagine how it feels to hold a piece of such a small size but of an immense weight.

Digging around the web, I found an interesting article on whether this weapon had been stolen from the Ford's Theatre National Historic Site and replaced with a reproduction... FBI Case File, The Booth Deringer—Genuine Artifact or Replica?. (The bullet that altered history is displayed separately at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Walter Reed Army Medical Center.)

Henry Deringer bio.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

BTAP #32: Nothing You Can Do by Jason Hunt

"I was headed out and saw the light on in your windows,” she said, carefully pronouncing each word, “and figured I’d stop by and see if you needed anything before I left for the weekend."

She smiled that dazzling smile of hers, and I managed to eek out a smile of my own. I’d always found her attractive, but the little golden band on the third finger of my left hand had kept me from dwelling too long on the fact. Tonight, though, I said “What the hell.” I went ahead and dwelt.
Finish reading Hunt's fine noir piece here.

Next week: Yellow Mama's Cindy Rosmus with "Kissy-Face"

Coming soon: "Hit Women" by Clair Dickson

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday's Forgotten Books: Wolf To The Slaughter by Ruth Rendell

His figure remained lean naturally, no matter what he ate, and his greyhound's face thin and ascetic. Conservative in dress, he flattered himself that he looked like a broker on holiday. Certainly no one seeing him in this office with its wall-to-wall carpet, its geometrically patterned curtains and its single piece of glass sculpture would have taken him for a detective in his natural habitat.
I have been happily reading Ruth Rendell since discovering her in the pages of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine years ago. Of course, Rendell and her famous creation, Inspector Wexford, are hardly forgotten but I thought I would dig out the second book in the series, Wolf to the Slaughter (1967), and shine some light back on it.

A woman named Margolis has vanished. There is no body to indicate a crime has been committed, only a letter signed "Geoff Smith" claiming she has been killed. Headquarters doesn't consider it a case worth looking into, however, Chief Inspector Wexford investigates anyway. As with any RR plot, there are plenty of twists and turns in WOLF and colorful character development. If you appreciate police procedurals coupled with complex mysteries, Rendell is a reigning master and you won't be disappointed.

And you won't be disappointed if you go to Patti Abbott's blog for more Friday's Forgotten Books.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer Ale

I had one of those writing days where nothing seemed to fall into place. By two o'clock in the afternoon, I had given up hope and grabbed a Sam Adams Summer Ale from the fridge. I can't say I began writing Papa-style prose but it sure made the bitterness of an off-day go down a lot easier.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Two Sentence Tuesday

Ernest Hemingway remains a strong source of inspiration for me and one of his greatest short stories, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, begins with these four lines:

Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the "Ngaje Njai," the House of God. Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.
*

I've written several flash fiction pieces in the style of Hemingway's Nick Adams stories. This semi-autobiographical series follows the life of a man named Henry. Two Lines:

I placed my finger in the snow that had collected on the edge of the tree stand and ran my hand along the side watching the flurries drop to the ground. I waited in silence with my father.
The story is called "The Tree Stand" and can be read in its entirety here. And the engaging ladies at Women of Mystery can supply you with more TwoFers here.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

BTAP #31: Artifacts by Gerald So

While Reggie Price had grown to an imposing six-four, two hundred-twenty pounds, I could see the twelve year-old in his eyes. His smile, even with two chipped teeth, was full of infectious charm. We'd been up about an hour when he jostled his wife, who had complained six times she was getting airsick. "This is it, sweetheart. Just like on the map," he said. "This is it. We're rich!"
Finish reading Gerald So's electrifying adventure here.

Next week: "Nothing You Can Do" by Jason Hunt

Coming soon: Nik Morton's "I Celebrate Myself"

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My Take On... (A Book Review Club Post)

Swords of Talera Book One of the Talera Cycle (2007) by Charles Allen Gramlich.

Why Get It: To join Ruenn Maclang in his quest to find his missing brother, Bryce, and explore the mysteries of the land of Talera.

Excerpt:
In a lull between successive waves, I ran across the deck and leaped down into the rowing-hold. I landed badly, sprawling across something soft, something dead. I scrambled away from the body and looked about. Oars had snapped like matchwood throughout the open hold. Arms and legs and necks were twisted to odd angles, but here and there amid the floating wreckage, beings lived. Even above the waves and wind I could hear their moans and screams.

Bottom line: Ok, I’m hooked. I’d never been much of a reader of fantasy novels making Swords of Talera a first for me—it was my initiation into the Sword and Planet genre. And what a pleasant initiation it was. Mr. Gramlich masterfully creates a vivid world with rich characters all while telling a gripping, action packed tale. I will be picking up Book Two to continue the adventures of Ruenn Maclang in this curious land.

More reviews on Swords of Talera:

Candy's Blog

Cedar's Mountain

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@Barrie Summy

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Iron Mask (1929)

I borrowed THE IRON MASK Starring Douglas Fairbanks from my mother-in-law, enjoyed it, and discovered it on the always reliable YouTube. MASK was Fairbank's last silent film and a sequel to 1921's The Three Musketeers. This version includes an introductory prologue spoken by Fairbanks, original subtitles deleted and 1952's narration voiced by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. added.



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Other silent flicks posted on EPW:
The Navigator | A Trip to the Moon | Faust | Sherlock Jr. | The Great Train Robbery

Related topics:
Alexandre Dumas bio | Who was the "Man in the Iron Mask"?