Thursday, May 01, 2014

Bullet Points: … And One Step Back Edition

I apologize for the paucity of fresh posts this week, but I’ve had to spend an aggravating number of hours simply fixing technical problems. Blogger, which provides the publishing services for The Rap Sheet (as well as for Killer Covers), did something recently that caused many of the embedded videos on this page to cease operating--not all of them, and not those bearing any obvious mutual characteristics, but instead a scattering of videos from the last seven years of production. I noticed the difficulty on Monday, and have since been going back through all of my posts, double-checking to be sure the videos work, and adding tags that should make it easier for me to locate those videos again in the future. It’s frustrating when the technology that’s designed to make things easier actually makes them harder. I could, of course, have ignored this development and kept my eyes focused forward, but I don’t believe blogging is necessarily transitory; I want The Rap Sheet to have a sense of permanence, which is why I ensure that videos are operational, broken Web links are updated (when possible), and follow-up information is provided, whenever it seems necessary. So if, when browsing through this blog, you spot things that don’t work, please let me know. Drop a quick note here.

Now on with the show …

• The Web site Crimeculture--supervised in part by UK educator Lee Horsley--is debuting three new series, including one devoted to “The Best Pulp Covers.” Novelist Bill Crider kicks off that feature with this look at the front from Harry Whittington’s 1960 novel, A Night for Screaming. A better image of the novel’s façade is here.

• Flavorwire has taken on the thankless task of compiling its selections of “The 25 Best Cop Shows of All Time.” It’s heavy on stylized dramas (such as 21 Jump Street and Miami Vice), but at least includes--as it should--everything from The Wire and Hill Street Blues to NYPD Blue, Columbo, and Crime Story. I’m only surprised to not see the 1970s anthology series Police Story mentioned.

• Yet another list to consider: Sabotage Times (really, there’s such a site?) chooses what it describes as “The 10 Greatest Cold War Thrillers of the ’60s and ’70s.” I’m pleased to see that both Funeral in Berlin (1965) and Alistair MacLean’s Puppet on a Chain (1971) made the cut.

• I’m very much looking forward to the return of A&E-TV’s Longmire on Monday, June 2. Meanwhile, the odds seem high against The Mentalist finding a new network home in the event that CBS drops the show after it’s current season.

This looks like an interesting release for noir film buffs.

• As Television Obscurities reminds us, it was 75 years ago this week that the United States welcomed “the first regularly scheduled television service.” It “began with scenes from the just-opened New York World’s Fair,” explains Mental Floss. “NBC beamed Franklin D. Roosevelt’s World's Fair inaugural address from the antenna of the Empire State Building, and it reached tens upon tens of households.” Mental Floss has posted that video, if you’d like to celebrate this 75th anniversary by watching it.

• All the recent hoopla about British playwright William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday caused me to skate around on the Web for more info, and I found this piece in Random House’s Dead Good Books blog, examining the body count in the Bard’s plays.

• Also from Dead Good Books: this short tribute to English author Gladys Mitchell, the creator of the oft-widowed amateur sleuth Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley.

• Issue No. 11 of ThugLit is now available for Kindles.

• And don’t forget about the spring number of Needle Magazine.

Mystery Scene blogger Oline Cogdill salutes the recipients of this year’s Raven Awards, which will be handed out during this evening’s Edgar Awards presentation.

• Ah, there are certainly are some beautiful New York City bookstores. Only one problem with this BuzzFeed collection: the image supposedly showing the West Village’s Left Bank Books (No. 13) was actually taken of Seattle’s Left Bank Books in Pike Place Market. This photo shows the Manhattan bookseller.

• Criminal Intent contributor Katrina Niidas Holm recalls “10 great things” that happened during the inaugural Maine Crime Wave convention, held earlier this month in Portland. It sounds like this event got off to a good start.

• This morning I received an e-note from Joel Goldman, who with fellow author Lee Goldberg (how’s that for a glittering combination of bylines?), will launch--in September--Brash Books, which he says is “going to publish the best crime novels in existence. It’s a brash claim, but our award-winning and critically acclaimed authors back us up.” We shall see. You’ll find a list of Brash’s authors here, and some of the forthcoming (and quite handsome) paperback reprints here.

• The Los Angeles Times’ Susan King recounts actor Patrick McGoohan’s contributions to espionage fiction, notably as a result of his starring role in The Prisoner.

• In the wake of DVD releases of all five seasons of Maverick, the 1957-1962 ABC-TV series starring James Garner and Jack Kelly, and a subsequent Garner Western, Nichols: The Complete Series, comes the debut of Warner Archive’s five-disc set, Bret Maverick: The Complete Series. That last show had a sadly brief run on NBC from 1981 to 1982. It found Garner’s gambler-con man, Bret Maverick, settling down in a backwater Arizona town, but otherwise continuing to be just as incorrigible and original as ever. I bought a bootleg set of Bret Maverick a few years back, but it is missing a couple of episodes, and the image quality isn’t consistently high. I am anticipating better from this new DVD release, which is priced at $39.95.

• New interviews worth checking out: Owen Laukkanen talks with blogger Clinton Greaves about his latest thriller, Kill Fee; John McFetridge answers a variety of questions from Spinetingler Magazine’s Dana King about his new novel, Black Rock; and the MysteryPeople bookshop chats up Dennis Tafoya on the subject of his own freshest release, The Poor Boy’s Game.

• Laukkanen makes another appearance in the second edition of All Due Respect, this time with what editor Chris Rhatigan calls “a hell of a story about deep sea fishing.”

Miami Vice--the comic book?

• Two new additions to our blogroll: Vanished Into Thin Air, specializing in “locked rooms and impossible murders” in mystery fiction; and Christopher Lyons’ The Westlake Review, in which he says he'll be “reviewing all of [the late author’s] novels (and some other things) in as close to chronological order as I can get.”

• Following the death this week of English actor Bob Hoskins, The Dissolve has put together notes on five of his “classic” performances. Yes, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) ranks among them.

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