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


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


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.

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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book review blogs
@Barrie Summy