Monday, April 22, 2013

Bullet Points: Another Earth Day Edition

• Les Edgerton has posted a thoughtful, moving piece on the Out of the Gutter Web site about author-editor Cortright McMeel, who reportedly committed suicide last week. McMeel was the founder of Murdaland, a high-quality publication devoted to crime fiction that (sadly) lasted only two issues. He was also the author of a novel titled Short and “the force behind Denver’s Noir@Bar.” There are links to other McMeel tributes at the bottom of Edgerton’s piece.

• I don’t think I had seen this interview with writer Rex Stout before today. Conducted by Michael Bourne, the exchange was originally published back in 1973.

• Speaking of interviews worth noticing, Click here to read the results of J. Sydney Jones’ conversation with South African novelist Jassy Mackenzie, author of Pale Horses, her fourth outing for private eye Jade de Jong, which was just published by Soho Crime.

• And Philip Kerr talks with Mystery Scene’s Oline Cogdill about his acclaimed, World War II-era Bernie Gunther series, its latest entry, A Man Without Breath (Putnam), and the “strangest thing” his research into that time period has unearthed. “I find strange things all the time,” Kerr says. “It’s a period that is full of strange things. That’s what makes it interesting. I remember a time many years ago when I went to a place called Wewelsburg, where Himmler bought a castle that was to be the ‘spiritual HQ’ of the SS. It was also the smallest concentration camp in Germany. [Eight hundred] Soviet POWs were worked to death in the place. It’s now a youth hostel. I stayed there on my own one night. While I was there I discovered that the little village near the castle is still
used for SS reunions; that was an uncomfortable revelation to me--that there are plenty of people for whom Nazism still means something important.” You’ll find Cogdill’s interview here.

• Did you know that you can watch the entire run of Columbia Pictures’ 1943 Batman serial on YouTube? The 15 installments, starring Lewis Wilson, Douglas Croft, and J. Carrol Naish, begin here with a chapter titled “The Electric Brain.”

• Are you watching the three-part miniseries, The Bletchly Circle?

• The public voting process in this year’s Spinetingler Awards competition will continue through the end of April. There are six categories of nominees, including Best Novel: New Voice, Best Anthology/Short Story Collection, and Best Cover. If you haven’t yet cast a ballot, feel free to do so by clicking here.

• We’re nearing the end of Gerald So’s month-long crime poetry celebration in his blog The 5-2. If you haven’t been keeping up, never fear: the full collection of contributor links can be found here.

• Also still running is “The Scavenger,” the original tale from Christopher Mills and Rick Burchett’s crime-fiction Webcomic, Gravedigger. Today’s installment--No. 12 out of 28--can be enjoyed here. If you haven’t been following “The Scavenger,” you can catch up, beginning right here.

• Was Manhunt the “best crime-fiction magazine ever”?

• This month marks 16 years since the debut of Her Majesty’s Secret Servant, a Web site devoted to all things James Bond-ish. More here.

• Thank goodness last week’s extensive police hunt for two Boston Marathon bombers ended within a matter of days, and with one of the suspects--a naturalized U.S. citizen--being captured alive (and soon to be tried in federal court). As the search was underway, though, Read Me Deadly produced a post looking at “a small selection of Boston-related mysteries” that’s still worth checking out.

A bit of cool history: “Tiny pieces of California Gold Rush history fetched big bucks at a Reno auction of Western Americana. The Jack Totheroh Collection of some 200 gold coins privately made in San Francisco in the 1850s sold for $865,000, while the Bergen-Istvan Collection of about 50 similar gold coins went for $252,000 ... According to historians, the rare coins in 25 cent, 50 cent, and dollar denominations were struck by jewelers from 1852 to 1857 when there was a shortage of small change in California. Historians say while banks apparently didn’t accept them, they were used at some San Francisco businesses. They also became popular as souvenirs as early as 1853.” I’d love to have one of those babies.

TV Guide has been celebrating its 60th anniversary all month long. I used to be a TV Guide junkie, and I still own a stack of Fall Preview editions from the 1970s and ’80s. However, I haven’t bought an issue for years, the last time being shortly after the format switched from digest to full-size magazine in 2005 and TV Guide pretty much disappeared from grocery store checkout stands. Consequently, I missed seeing its recent list of “TV’s 60 Nastiest Villains,” which included The One-Armed Man from The Fugitive, Al Sweargengen from Deadwood, Nina Myers from 24, Al Capone from The Untouchables>, The Joker from Batman, and Number Two from The Prisoner.

• The term “pulp” may be inappropriately used here, but I’m still looking forward to getting my mitts on a copy of Black Pulp (CreateSpace), the new “anthology of original stories featuring black characters in leading roles in stories running the genre gamut.” Contributors to this paperback include Walter Mosley, Joe R. Lansdale, Gary Phillips, Mel Odom, Ron Fortier, and Gar Anthony Haywood.

• The latest edition of the podcast I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere tackles that ever-pressing question, “Who is a Sherlockian?”

• I’ve never had much respect for USA Today. I find it to be a shallow newspaper, directed mostly at people with short attention spans. However, I was interested last week in news that the paper’s founder, Al Neuharth, had died at age 89. What struck me most was a statement he made during a 1996 interview with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies: “There’s nothing [more] I’d want to do with my life than to be in the news business. I think that gives us a window on the world that you cannot have in any other business or profession.” As a veteran reporter myself, I know how that feels.

• Recently, I’ve been reading Jim Steinmeyer’s Who Was Dracula?: Bram Stoker’s Trail of Blood, which tries, in part, to identify the inspirations for Stoker’s bloodthirsty Transylvanian count. The author sums up his findings in this Huffington Post slideshow, and although I despise slideshows on the Web (why can’t we just get all of the information on a single page?), I suggest you look this one over. Again, though, I hate slideshows. Let me make that point crystal clear.

• This being the 43rd annual celebration of Earth Day, you should look over Janet Rudolph’s list of environment-related mysteries, as well as her updated rundown of “reservoir noir” (“books that deal with intentional flooding of towns and villages because of building dams and reservoirs for water supply, irrigation, power, and other reasons ...”).

• Finally, my old college friend, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Matt Wuerker, has a new page up in Politico devoted to his “most environmentally inspired cartoons.”

1 comment:

Craig said...

It's too bad Al Neuharth had so little interest in making and keeping his own newspaper chain great -- instead he pinched pennies at the papers while maintaining a big-spending lifestyle suitable to his big ego: