Sunday, January 31, 2010

Terms of Attraction -- Kylie Brant

This is one of those Silhouette Romantic Suspense novels, in this case heavy on the suspense and not so much on the romance, although it’s definitely there. The heroine is a police sniper for a SWAT team in a California city, and the book opens with her trying to stop an assassin from killing a visiting dignitary, the president of the South American nation of San Baltes (“a fictional but real-sounding country”, to quote Woody Allen from WHAT’S UP, TIGER LILY). She’s recruited to join a private security company hired to protect the president and immediately gets caught in the middle of an on-going feud between the head of the company (a former Navy SEAL who’s the hero of the book) and a powerful official with the Department of Homeland Security.

The action switches to San Baltes, where we get more assassination attempts, corrupt politicians, drug cartels, kidnappings, explosions, and plenty of jungle action, to the point where this novel almost begins to resemble a Mack Bolan adventure, although it never gets quite that bloody. There’s only one real twist in the plot, and it’s not hard to see it coming, but the story is well-paced enough to pull the reader on to the end.

As usual in a romance, the hero and heroine both have dark secrets in their past that make it difficult for them to connect, but when they do, the book’s lone sex scene is well-written. Brant’s prose is terse and hardboiled in the action scenes. Overall, TERMS OF ATTRACTION is a pretty entertaining novel and worth your time if you’re a fan of romantic suspense yarns.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Forgotten Books: The Window With the Sleeping Nude - Robert Leslie Bellem

I used to own a copy of the original Handi-Books edition of this 1950 novel by the creator of the iconic Dan Turner, but it was missing some pages and so I never got around to reading it. Luckily, Pulpville Press has reprinted it in a nice-looking, affordable trade paperback edition that uses the same cover art as the original (which is pictured alongside this post).

Bellem is a prime example of a “love him or hate him” author. I happen to love his work, and have ever since I discovered the Dan Turner stories years ago. No author has made me laugh more often. I think Bellem’s use of language is brilliant, and most of the Turner stories are very well-put-together mysteries, to boot, packing some pretty complex plots into short story and novelette lengths.

THE WINDOW WITH THE SLEEPING NUDE proves that Bellem’s writing works equally as well at novel length and in third person. This isn’t a Dan Turner yarn. The hero is store detective Barney Cunard, who’s in charge of security at the biggest department store in an unnamed town. Barney arrives at work one rainy, hungover morning to find a nude blond female mannequin on his desk. He’s barely started trying to figure out how and why it got there when something else happens that has to be connected to this mystery. The body of one of the store’s window dressers is discovered in a bed in one of the store’s window displays, dressed only in lingerie and stabbed in the heart. Obviously, the killer replaced the mannequin with the corpse and left the mannequin on Cunard’s desk for some unfathomable reason.

But this is one of those novels where very little that seems obvious turns out to be true. The plot twists and turns with dizzying speed as all the action takes place in just a few hours. In that short period of time, there are several more murders and a kidnapping. Cunard gets hit on the head and knocked out, guzzles rye, runs around in the rain, and finally figures everything out from clues that Bellem cleverly plants along the way. Of course, as a veteran of the Spicy pulps, Bellem manages to find excuses for several of his female characters to wind up in various stages of undress. This novel reads very much like it could be an expansion of one of Bellem’s hundreds of pulp stories, but I don’t know if that’s the case or not. He also tuckerizes at least one obscure pulp author who must have been a friend of his, and there may be more such instances that I missed.

Bellem has been mentioned as a possible influence on Richard S. Prather, and there are definite similarities between Bellem’s Dan Turner and Prather’s Shell Scott. I think Prather was a slightly better writer, giving some of his novels a more serious undertone than you’ll find in Bellem’s work, but Bellem’s stuff is laugh-out-loud funny, well-plotted, and very much worth reading in my opinion. I had a great time reading THE WINDOW WITH THE SLEEPING NUDE and I suspect some of you would, too. Highly recommended.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Great Buck Howard

This is another movie I’d barely heard of, but we took a chance on it. I enjoy a good show biz comedy now and then.

However, THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD isn’t really a comedy, although it’s fairly amusing in places. I guess it’s what they used to call a comedy-drama, before TV merged those words into the slightly less cumbersome but more irritating (at least to me) “dramedy”. It’s the story of a young man, played by Colin Hanks (Tom’s son), who quits law school because he hates it and winds up working as the road manager for a washed-up mentalist/magician named Buck Howard (John Malkovich). Buck, who is openly based on the Amazing Kreskin, as a note at the end of the movie reveals, is eccentric and hard to work for, to say the least. In that respect, this movie reminded me somewhat of a good one from the Eighties, MY FAVORITE YEAR. At one point in his career, Buck was a favorite guest on The Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson, as Buck always adds when he mentions it), but he’s fallen on hard times and been reduced to playing shows in small towns across America. His dream is to get back to The Tonight Show and also to perform in Las Vegas.

There are a lot of celebrity cameos in this one, from Jay Leno to Jack Carter and Bill Saluga (those of you who know who Bill Saluga is, raise your hand; I can still quote his most famous bit). Tom Hanks shows up playing, surprise, the kid’s dad. The script is good, the actors do a fine job, and while the movie definitely has a low-key feeling to it, I enjoyed it and found it well worth watching

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"The Whip" - Robert Carse (ARGOSY, Oct. 30, 1937)

This is another story from the October 30, 1937 issue of ARGOSY. Robert Carse was a prolific author for the pulps and later on turned out quite a few paperback historical novels, as well as the novelization of the movie MORGAN THE PIRATE, which I didn’t think was very good. Carse’s specialty in ARGOSY was the French Foreign Legion story, and “The Whip” is a top-notch example, a ripping yarn if there ever was one.

The Whip of the title isn’t an actual whip, but rather the name of a group of Hungarian terrorists who are out to overthrow the king in the years following World War I. They set up an assassination attempt, but the young man chosen to perform the killing has an attack of morals at the last minute and backs out, so the king survives and the young man has to go on the run to escape the vengeance of his former comrades in The Whip. He figures he can spend the rest of his life hiding in the French Foreign Legion.

Well, you don’t have to have read much adventure fiction to know that sooner or later, our hero’s past is going to catch up to him, in the person of his former friend who is now the deadliest assassin in Europe. But the fact that “The Whip” is somewhat predictable doesn’t detract too much from the entertaining nature of this story. Carse’s prose is lean and tough enough that it could have almost been written yesterday, without any of the supposed purple prose the pulps were famous for. (And that purple prose was never as prevalent in the pulps as their detractors made it out to be, for that matter.) “The Whip” is a fine story, and it, along with Theodore Roscoe’s “I Was the Kid With the Drum”, make this issue of ARGOSY a definite keeper if you ever run across it.

As for the rest of the issue, well, ARGOSY is somewhat problematic for a reader today because of all the serials that ran in the magazine. There are installments of three serials in this issue: a Northern by Frank Richardson Pierce, one of the top authors in that genre; a sports yarn by Judson Philips, who wrote a lot of those before becoming much better known as a mystery author under his own name and the pseudonym Hugh Pentecost; and the concluding installment of a novel about Sheriff Henry Harrison Conroy (think W.C. Fields in the Old West) by one of my favorites, W.C. Tuttle. Good stuff, I’m sure, but I didn’t read any of them because I don’t have the other installments. There’s a horse racing story by Richard Sale (normally a dependable author, but I didn’t care for this one); a story by David Gardner about drilling gas wells that’s okay; a comedy about a magician by Edgar Franklin, a long-time contributor to ARGOSY; and a short-short humorous crime story by the inelegantly named Nard Jones, who went on to write at least one Gold Medal novel in the Fifties. None of the shorts are particularly memorable.

But the stories by Roscoe and Carse are well worth your time and make this issue worth picking up. This is the first issue of ARGOSY I’ve read in a while, but you can bet I’ll be sampling more of them soon.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"I Was the Kid With the Drum" -- Theodore Roscoe (ARGOSY, Oct. 30, 1937)

Theodore Roscoe is probably best known (among those of us who remember him at all) for a fine series of French Foreign Legion stories about an old Legionnaire named Thibault Corday. These ran in the pulp ARGOSY during the Thirties, and a few of them were collected in a small press volume called TOUGHEST IN THE LEGION back in the Eighties.

But Roscoe wrote a lot of other things for ARGOSY besides Foreign Legion yarns, among them this novelette that takes place in a small upstate New York town called Four Corners, during the early days of the Twentieth Century. That’s such a striking cover image (by Emmett Watson, by the way) that it makes me wonder if the editor at ARGOSY had the cover painting to start with and asked Roscoe to write a story around it. Despite the words “Mystery Novelet” on the cover, you look at that Norman Rockwell-esque picture and expect some lazy, gentle piece of Americana from bygone years, don’t you? Sort of like a visit to Mayberry, only from an even earlier era, right?

And that’s what you get . . . if Andy and Opie had to solve a particularly gruesome case of murder involving spiritualism, adultery, a bass drum, and a dead cat.

“I Was the Kid With the Drum!” is one of the weirdest concoctions I’ve read in a while. It’s narrated in Huckleberry Finn-like fashion by Bud Whittier, the twelve-year-old son of Four Corners’ sheriff. One night while he’s getting into mischief where he’s not supposed to be, behind one of the town’s spookiest old houses, he discovers the bass drum that belongs to the drummer from the town’s band playing by itself. The next day, the drummer’s wife turns up missing. More strange stuff happens, mixed in with the preparations for the big marching band contest among the towns in the area that will take place at the Labor Day County Fair. Bud’s job is to help the drummer carry the big drum, but he’s more interested in playing detective.

If you read this story, you’ll think that you have everything figured out pretty early on, but Roscoe is mighty tricky. He throws a lot of plot twists into approximately 15,000 words, and this is one of those stories where you’ll look back and see that all the clues were there, only Roscoe was slick enough to slip some of them right past the reader. He slipped them past me, anyway, and came up with a really entertaining and satisfying tale. The writing is a little old-fashioned in places, but you have to expect that in a story written nearly 75 years ago.

Now, I understand that you can’t just run out and pick up a copy of the October 30, 1937 issue of ARGOSY on my say-so. But if you already have that issue in your pulp collection and haven’t read it yet, my recommendation is that you do so. Or if you happen to run across a copy in a flea market or an antique mall or at a pulp show and remember that distinctive cover painting, grab that sucker if it’s not priced too high. I’m going to be reading the other stories in it and will probably have a few words about them in due time.

And the Winners Are . . .

James Powell and Frank Loose. I've already emailed both of them with the good news. I plan to do more of these giveaways as more of my books come out.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


If you couldn’t tell by the increasing snarkiness of my comments about some of the movies we’ve been watching, I’m getting a little tired of special-effects-laden movies full of blood, sex, and cussin’ and rather short on things like an interesting plot and characters.

So we watched a movie with, as far as I could tell, no special effects at all, and very little blood. There was some sex (not much, really) but a lot of cussin’. Interesting plot and characters, though.

TRUCKER is the story of a long-haul truck driver named Diane, well-played by Michelle Monaghan, who abandoned her husband and one-year-old son a decade earlier because she couldn’t stand to be tied down by a family. As the movie opens, though, her ex-husband is dying of cancer and the second wife can’t take care of the boy, so Diane, much against her will, has to raise her own son for a while. Emotional fireworks ensue.

This is a pretty slow-moving film, but it’s very well-acted by everyone, including Nathan Fillion as Diane’s neighbor and friend who is obviously in love with her. Everyone in the story is deeply flawed and wounded but ultimately tries to do the right thing. It’s not exactly heart-warming, but it comes close a time or two. The photography, featuring a lot of impressive vistas of the western United States, is beautiful.

Overall, I liked TRUCKER. It’s not the sort of movie that makes you sit up and say, “Wow, that was a great film!” But I enjoyed it and thought it was a nice change of pace from our usual movie fare. I can recommend it, as long as you remember that nothing Blows Up Real Good.

Last Day to Enter

The deadline to throw your name into the electronic hat for the drawing to win a couple of my Adult Westerns is midnight tonight. That's Central Standard Time in the good ol' U.S. of A. I'll announce the winners tomorrow.

Friday, January 22, 2010

More Outlaw Country

A couple of classics: Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother" and Gary P. Nunn's "London Homesick Blues" (sometimes known as "Home With the Armadillo"). I bellowed out these songs many a time while running around with friends in the Seventies.

Forgotten Music: Michael Murphy and Steve Fromholz

I've never been a big concert-goer. Back in the Seventies, though, when I was going to college in Denton, I went to a few shows on campus since they were free. I saw Willie Nelson a couple of times that way. But the best concert I attended there featured Michael Murphey and Steve Fromholz, who at the time were part of the so-called "outlaw country" movement of singer/songwriters in Texas. Murphey is better known now as Michael Martin Murphey and does a lot of traditional Western music (much different from "country and western" music, which is often really neither of those things). Fromholz, who was also part of a duo known as Frummox with Dan McCrimmon, never became well-known, although he appeared as an actor in at least one movie starring Willie Nelson. He was also the official Poet Laureate of Texas at one time. I have no idea what he's doing now.

He and Michael Murphey were both great at that concert, and I had a fine time. "Texas Trilogy" is probably Fromholz's best song, although I'm also fond of a humorous tune called "Rest Area Waltz". My friend Leland DeBusk was at that concert with me and became a big Fromholz fan, even learning to play "Texas Trilogy" on the guitar. And Murphy's "Cosmic Cowboy" really sums up the era. Leland could play that one, too. He's gone now, bless his heart, but the music's still here and makes me think of him. "Ridin' the range and actin' strange . . ." Good stuff from 'way back when.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Here's a Quiz for You Vintage Paperback Fans

I came across this at Half Price Books the other day and thought it was funny. It's the back cover from the Dell edition (D-483) of Alan Green's mystery novel WHAT A BODY! You may have to click on the image in order to read the text. Dell was still doing mapbacks at the time, so this is something of a departure for them.

The front cover isn't bad, either, although I wouldn't consider it a great cover. I don't know whether the novel itself is any good, so if any of you have read it, you might comment on what you thought about it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


So, a bunch of death row inmates (including our hero, who was framed) are forced to battle each other to the death in a futuristic world while the whole thing is broadcast for the bloodthirsty entertainment of millions. To paraphrase the narrator of CHICKENMAN, where have we seen that plot before?

Well, in DEATH RACE, of course, not to mention any number of other movies in recent years. The trappings are a little different in GAMER – the inmates have chips implanted in their brains that allows them to be controlled by people who pay for the privilege, so they’re like characters in a violent video game, only with real blood and dying. Naturally, our hero is going to find some way to circumvent this programming, so he can go after the dastardly villain who invented the whole thing. People get blown to bits. Stuff Blows Up Real Good. I do my best not to fall asleep, but I’m not completely successful.

I really like Gerard Butler as both an actor and an action movie hero, and he tries hard here, succeeding in giving this movie what little appeal it has. Michael C. Hall as the bad guy is either brilliantly insane or ludicrously hammy and over the top; I never could quite make up my mind which. The cast isn’t really the problem, though. GAMER was written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the guys who made the CRANK movies, which I liked. This time, though, they’ve gone so far overboard with their herky-jerky camera style and hyper-quick-cut editing that long sections of this movie literally made my eyes hurt when I tried to watch them. I had to look away, and being able to actually tell what was happening was pretty much out of the question. That and the overfamiliarity of the plot just doomed GAMER as far as I’m concerned. I can’t recommend it, even to action movie fans.

I’ll still watch whatever Gerard Butler is in next, more than likely, and I’ll probably give Neveldine and Taylor another chance, too, because I think they’re interesting filmmakers. They struck out on this one, though.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Robert B. Parker, R.I.P.

Plenty of people will be commenting on Parker's passing, and I'm no different. I'm one of those who sort-of, kind-of quit reading him, but only a year or so back, so I've read most of his books. I enjoyed all of those I read and think I probably laughed out loud at least once in reading each one of them. I discovered Parker's work when the first paperback edition of THE GODWULF MANUSCRIPT came out. I was working in the book department of a department store in downtown Fort Worth, and we carried it. I was already a big fan of Hammett, Chandler, Ross Macdonald, and many other private eye writers, and when I read THE GODWULF MANUSCRIPT, I knew it was the real stuff. I think we're only beginning to appreciate just what a huge influence Parker's work was on the genre.

There are some stand-alone novels of his I never got around to reading. I really need to.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Paul Powers Story on Beat to a Pulp

If you haven't already checked out the story "The Killing on Sutter Street" by Paul S. Powers, you should head over to the great website Beat to a Pulp right away. Powers was a prolific and popular author in the Western pulps, contributing more than 400 stories to WILD WEST WEEKLY alone, in addition to scores more to other pulps. I've read and enjoyed quite a few of them. "The Killing on Sutter Street" is a previously unpublished piece that his granddaughter Laurie discovered along with some other unpublished manuscripts, and it's as fine an example of hardboiled fiction as I've read in a while, with a nice twist at the end. Highly recommended.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I’d heard quite a bit of good buzz about this film, so we checked it out. And I’m glad we did, because it’s excellent.

Sam Rockwell, who really carries this movie, plays Sam Bell, an employee of a corporation that mines Helium-3 (a cheap, clean energy source) on the Moon. Sam is the only person in the mostly automated station, and his job is to collect the cylinders of Helium-3 mined by some mobile harvesting machines and send them back to Earth by rocket. There are problems with the communications system, so the only contact he has with Earth is through delayed messages. He does have a robot called Gerty (I’m sure the letters stand for something, but I never picked up what it was), voiced by Kevin Spacey.

The isolation gets to Sam after a while, but he has a three-year contract that’s almost up, so he’ll soon be going back to Earth. Before that can happen, though, some vaguely sinister things begin to happen, and eventually Sam’s life on the Moon turns downright weird, not to mention dangerous, because (cue spooky music) he may not be alone in the mining station after all.

Despite that set-up, MOON isn’t a horror movie, although it’s pretty creepy at times. It’s pure science fiction, the sort of low-key, intelligent yarn you might find in a Fifties issue of GALAXY or F&SF. The special effects aren’t flashy at all, but they’re very effective. Rockwell is in every scene and does a great job. It’s really his show, along with the direction by Duncan Jones (the son of David Bowie, I believe, who was also in a good science fiction film, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH). If you’re a science fiction fan, I can’t recommend MOON highly enough. It’s not a swashbuckling spectacle like STAR WARS (hey, I love those, too), but it is a smart, compelling film.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Book Giveaway

I'm going to give away a couple of copies each of my latest Longarm and Trailsman novels. Two winners, and each will get a copy of LONGARM AND THE SAND PIRATES and TEXAS TRACKDOWN. You can send me an email (the link is in my profile, for those of you who don't have the address) or mention in the comments that you want to enter. Simple random number drawing. Deadline for entries is midnight my time next Saturday, so that gives you a week and a few hours if you're interested.

Disclaimer: These are Adult Westerns. They have sex scenes in them, although there's nothing kinky (that I recall) and the total pages in those scenes add up to less than five per cent of the text. But bear in mind that those scenes are there and don't enter thinking that you'll give the books to your eighty-year-old grandmother (although she might enjoy them, who knows; I'll bet your grandfather would) or your eight-year-old son or daughter.

There'll probably be more of these in the future.

A Man Apart

Let’s see, you’ve got a movie starring Vin Diesel as a tough DEA agent who’s trying to take down a mysterious drug smuggler called Diablo. You think this one might have a lot of shootin’, fightin’, and Stuff Blowin’ Up Real Good? Well, you’d be right, because A MAN APART is one of the most predictable movies I’ve seen in a while. There are no real surprises to be found in the script except for a nice bit involving a drug-sniffing dog. That’s a shame, because this is a well-made, well-acted film. I think Diesel (who’s in Slightly Hairy Vin mode here) is especially good. The plot is so by-the-numbers, though, that unless you’re a fan of this sort of movie, you may find it a little boring. I thought it was an okay way to kill a couple of hours, but not much more than that.

Friday, January 15, 2010


I’ll be honest with you. I’m not a meticulous planner when it comes to writing. I’m more of a seat-of-the-pants kind of guy. I put down what seems right and move on. I like to have a short outline so I know where I’m going, but I fill in the details as I go along. The only times I’ve done detailed, chapter-by-chapter outlines were when an editor or publisher demanded it. I’ll sometimes move scenes around later on to make them come together better, but most of the time I’ve been lucky and things have worked out okay the way I wrote them to start with.

Because of that, I like to think that I’ve developed a pretty good instinct for whether or not something is working. I started a chapter today and knew exactly what I wanted to do. But as I went along, I started to think, “You know, I’m not sure about this.” But I plowed ahead anyway because, well, that’s what I do. I wrote the whole chapter and told myself that I might have to do a little rewriting when I pick it up again in the morning. Then I went out to take the dog for a walk.

By the time I got back, I knew I had to start over in the morning.

Most of the chapter is okay, but it’s in the wrong place. It needs to come along a couple of chapters later in the book. Also I need to cut out some of the telling and do more showing. But most of it is salvageable, thank goodness. I don’t like to throw out a whole day’s work. So I’ll back up in the action, and we’ll see how it goes.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that everyone has their own approach to writing and their own techniques that work for them. That’s why whenever I talk about writing, I tell people, “This is the way I do it, but it may not be the best way for you to do it.” That said, I also believe there are a few universal truths about writing, and this is one of them:

When every fiber of your being is screaming, “No, no, no!”, you’d be wise to listen to it. It’s probably right.

Forgotten Books: The Long Midnight - Daniel Ransom (Ed Gorman)

We all know that Daniel Ransom is really Ed Gorman, and with the devoted following that Ed’s work has, I suppose it’s hard to consider any of his books actually forgotten. However, as far as I know this novel hasn’t been reprinted since its original publication seventeen years ago, and it’s not one that you hear all that much about, and it’s one that I’d never gotten around to reading until now, so . . .

The prologue takes place in the 1940s, an era which Gorman recreates well, much as he does the Fifties and Sixties in some of his other books. Richard Candlemas is a lonely high school student with some sort of mysterious special powers that are vaguely sinister. Jump ahead to the Nineties, and Candlemas is the former director of the Perpetual Light Orphanage, an establishment that closed down years earlier after a tragic car wreck claimed the lives of one of its staffers and several students. I use the word “students” because Perpetual Light, ostensibly an orphanage, was actually a school where Richard Candlemas and the people who worked for him tried to find children with psychic powers and help them develop those powers.

When one of Perpetual Light’s instructors is murdered in Chicago, a former student (the sister of one of the girls killed in the car crash) is drawn into the investigation and develops a romance with the police detective handling the case. Someone starts stalking the woman, there are more murders, the scope of the case expands to include some shadowy operatives who claim to be working for the government, and the woman finds evidence that her sister may still be alive after all, as impossible as that seems.

Gorman weaves all these plot strands together with an expert hand, bringing in a number of surprising twists along the way, but as usual in one of his novels, the characters and the little touches of humanity are the real highlights. Everybody in THE LONG MIDNIGHT seems to be carrying his or her own load of melancholy, which is not to say that the book is without hope or even an occasional bit of humor. This is a novel that’s difficult to classify. It’s part thriller, part horror, part science fiction. Mainly, though, it’s a great yarn that races along, inhabited by characters the reader cares about. That makes it well worth seeking out and reading. Highly recommended.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Time Travelers Never Die - Jack McDevitt

Randy Johnson posted on his blog about this book a couple of days ago and did such a sterling job of it, I'm going to suggest that you go over there and read what he had to say, if you haven't already. I'm just going to add that I think this is a fine novel, with plenty of history, humor, tragedy, and well-drawn characters. I met Jack McDevitt at an ArmadilloCon several years ago and thought he was a great guy. I've read three or four of his novels since then and liked all of them a lot. I don't think you can wrong with anything he's written. TIME TRAVELERS NEVER DIE gets a high recommendation from me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Movies I've Missed (Until Now): Somewhere in the Night

I’ve been trying to catch up on some older movies, and the plot of this one from 1946 sounded intriguing: a GI comes back from combat in the South Pacific with amnesia, a fact that he conceals from his doctors. Everybody tells him his name is George Taylor. When he gets back to the States he sets out to discover who George Taylor is. His only clue is a fragment of a letter from a woman who’s angry with him for breaking up with her, but he soon finds another, a letter addressed to George Taylor from someone named Larry Cravat, telling him that a bank account has been opened in his name. So the first step in finding out his true identity is to find the mysterious Larry Cravat.

You see the big twist coming already, don’t you? You will if you watch the movie, too. But that won’t spoil it for you, because the fun is in watching everything play out in pure film noir fashion, as Taylor’s quest gets him involved with vicious mobsters, small-time grifters, a pretty torch singer, missing millions, and of course a murder for which the cops blame him, so he has to track down the real killer and clear his name before he can be arrested. The Gold Medal writers who came along a few years later had to have watched this and dozens of similar movies.

Sporting a pencil-thin mustache that looks a little silly today, John Hodiak makes an earnest but somewhat goofy protagonist. He’s well-supported by a great cast, though, including Lloyd Nolan, Richard Conte, Sheldon Leonard (in only one scene but really fun to watch, as always), Harry Morgan (likewise), and the ubiquitous Whit Bissell. SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT is a pretty minor film but still entertaining. If you like noirish thrillers from the Forties and haven’t seen it, you ought to give it a try.

Monday, January 11, 2010

They Know Who They're Dealing With

And speaking of those Longarm copies, this is the way they were sent to me.

Longarm and the Sand Pirates

This one is out now, and I'm rather fond of it. My copies arrived today.

The Dark Knight

I know all of you saw this a long time ago, so I’m not even going to discuss the plot. I’ll just mention a few things I liked and didn’t like.

To get the quibbles out of the way first, too many of the action sequences in this movie are dark and choppily-edited, so that it’s difficult to follow what’s going on. That’s a common complaint of mine, but I think it’s still valid. The previous movie in this series, BATMAN BEGINS, was really guilty of this. It isn’t as prevalent in THE DARK KNIGHT but still there enough to be annoying at times. Also, a few things were just a little too much of a stretch for me to believe, like the super-duper, whiz-bang machine that allowed Batman to hear every conversation and see everything that was going on in Gotham City at the same time.

But there was a lot more that I liked. Yes, Heath Ledger was very good as the Joker, but not any better than Christian Bale as Batman, who probably looks more like Bruce Wayne is supposed to than any of the other actors who have played the part. Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon has sort of grown on me, too. The script doesn’t do anything that blatantly violates the comic book continuity (like the X-Men movies increasingly did) or totally invalidates the original character (like the first Hulk movie did). The length of this movie and the complex plot give it a truly epic feel, and adding to that is the fact that everything is played totally straight. Because of that, even the more over-the-top and melodramatic moments really work. Jim Gordon’s final speech that ends the movie is great.

I wouldn’t rate THE DARK KNIGHT quite as highly as most people did, but I do think it’s a very good movie, one of the best I’ve seen recently. And when the next one comes along, as it inevitably will, I’ll certainly watch it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT is a remake of a film from 1956 starring Dana Andrews and Joan Fontaine that I don’t recall ever seeing. This version got fairly bad reviews, but we needed something to watch and it was handy. I wound up enjoying it quite a bit.

Jesse Metcalfe plays an ambitious TV news reporter who discovers that the local district attorney (Michael Douglas) has been planting DNA evidence in order to win all his murder cases and fuel his bid to become governor. Unfortunately he doesn’t have any proof, so he comes up with an admittedly far-fetched plan: he frames himself for the murder of a prostitute and with the help of a fellow reporter documents everything so he can expose the DA when he comes to trial.

Well, you can guess that things don’t quite work out that way. The reporter winds up being convicted and sentenced to death, and it’s up to the pretty, young assistant district attorney (Amber Tamblyn) who’s fallen in love with him to find the evidence that will clear him and expose the villainy of her corrupt boss.

The whole thing is a little by-the-numbers, and you get the sense that, as in lots of Cornell Woolrich stories, the plot wouldn’t hold up too well to a close examination. However, there are some unexpectedly funny lines along the way, Joel Moore and Orlando Jones turn in good performances as Metcalfe’s fellow reporter/sidekick and an honest cop, respectively, and Michael Douglas makes a good villain. Plus I just like Amber Tamblyn and will watch her in almost anything. I would have handled the ending a little differently if I’d been writing the screenplay, but hey, that’s just me. I still think BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT is worth watching. Besides, how often do you get to see a movie that was filmed on location in Shreveport, set in Shreveport, and yet doesn’t indulge in stereotypical Southern characters and cheap shots at the South?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Astounding, December 1948

Here's the cover mentioned in one of the comments on yesterday's Forgotten Books post about Poul Anderson's THREE WORLDS TO CONQUER. Fine artwork by Paul Orban. (Although the comment was probably about the Anderson story in that issue, not the cover itself. But hey, a good cover is a good cover, and I love those old ASTOUNDINGs.)

Death Race

You’ve all seen this plot before: greedy, corrupt prison warden forces inmates to battle to the death for his own amusement and/or profit. That’s the basic scenario of DEATH RACE, too, although in this case the warden is a woman, the convicts are doing battle in souped-up, armored, and heavily armed cars, and the whole thing is being sold live to millions of viewers on the Internet.

Yes, the whole set-up is extremely hokey, but there are two good reasons to watch DEATH RACE: Jason Statham and Ian McShane. Statham is the former racecar driver who’s fallen on hard times and then is framed for murdering his wife. McShane is the Yoda-like mechanic who befriends Statham and teaches him how to survive the Death Race. Plus the rest of the supporting cast is pretty good, and there are a few minor plot twists that are fairly surprising.

DEATH RACE is based on a Roger Corman-produced movie from the Seventies that starred Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine, DEATH RACE 2000. I’ve never seen it (my cultural education is sadly lacking in some respects) and I probably won’t seek it out any time soon, but I enjoyed this newer version quite a bit and think it’s worth watching.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Forgotten Books: Three Worlds to Conquer - Poul Anderson

While I’ve never considered Poul Anderson one of my absolute favorite science fiction authors, I realized the other day that I’ve been reading his books off and on for more than forty years, starting with his Flandry series back in the mid-Sixties. I don’t recall ever reading a book of his that I didn’t like, either.

THREE WORLDS TO CONQUER is a non-series novel from 1964 that I’d never read before. It’s set in the Jovian system, on Jupiter itself and on the moon Ganymede, where there’s a mining colony from Earth. Humanity doesn’t have interstellar space travel yet, but there are colonies scattered throughout the solar system. Somewhat to the surprise of the colonists, they’ve made radio contact with a fairly primitive, centaur-like species native to Jupiter’s surface. One of these beings is smart enough to have mastered the radio on one of the scientific instruments sent down to the planet’s surface from Ganymede, and a friendship has sprung up between him and one of the scientists at the mining colony on the moon.

Then things go to hell for both of them. Civil war breaks out back on Earth, and a warship with a captain that’s still loyal to the losing side shows up on Ganymede, where most of the colonists backed the winners. The spaceship captain takes over the moon and plans to use it as a base to launch a counter-revolution. Down on Jupiter, a horde of barbarians have invaded the country of the native being who’s in contact with the mining colony. It’s no surprise that these two storylines intersect, and the two friends from different species wind up helping each other out.

Anderson makes it believable that sentient beings could live on Jupiter’s surface, and those chapters of the book are my favorites because they read almost like a sword-and-planet yarn, what with all the barbarians and fighting with swords and axes and such. Anderson handles all that very well. The political intrigue in the scenes set on Ganymede aren’t as compelling, but at least Anderson keeps the pace moving along swiftly and the reader can’t help but wonder how he’s going to tie everything together . . . which he does, quite neatly.

THREE WORLDS TO CONQUER is a prime example of the sort of adventure science fiction I grew up reading. If you haven’t tried Poul Anderson’s work before, it wouldn’t be a bad place to start. If you’ve read and enjoyed Anderson’s novels but not this one, it’s worth seeking out. Plus it has a decent Jack Gaughan cover.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Gabriel Hunt Makes Another List

HUNT AT THE WELL OF ETERNITY has been selected as one of the Top 15 Books of the Year by the website Luke Reviews. You can read about Luke's other picks and comments from some of the authors here. Thanks, Luke. I appreciate being included.

Guest Blog: Brian Ritt on Max Hamm, Fairy Tale Detective

Storybook Land.

A place where travel brochures play up the "happily ever after" thing big-time, but where "for every happy ending there are fifty miserable ones." Where trouble lurks at the corner of "Easy Street" and the "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Where the local scandal rag, Storybook Confidential, heralds salacious headlines such as "BO PEEP'S CRIME SCENE SECRET" and "GEORGY PORGY LOVES THE LADIES".

So who is Storybook Land's protector? Its white knight who walks its mean streets, neither tarnished or afraid?

Max Hamm, Fairy Tale Detective...detective...detective...detective...

Your name is Max Hamm. You're a pig who barely makes enough dough to keep you in fresh mud. You run the HAMM AND EGGS DETECTIVE AGENCY. Your partner's a good egg named Humpty Dumpty.

Once upon a time, a mousy little frail named Bo Peep knocks on your door. She needs help. She claims she's lost her sheep. Actually, she claims they were kidnapped, and she's got the ransom note--complete with cut-out letters of different shapes and sizes-- to prove it.

You glance at the note. You fume. You're one Hamm who won't take any baloney. You're going to find the sheepnapping hardboiled yeggs and put the heat on 'till they're scrambled.

But Peep wants to pay the ransom and Dumpty offers to accompany her for protection...

It's after midnight. You're asleep. The phone rings and the cops want you to come to King Cole's Supper Club. It appears Dumpty has had some kind of "accident".

You arrive. You brush aside the "police line" tape in front of the Supper Club and cringe when you see Dumpty lying on the sidewalk, sunny-side up. No kings, no horses, are going to put this egg back together again. "For this one they were gonna need a spatula." You hear witnesses claim Dumpty was soused. You aren't sure what to think. You know Dumpty'd fallen off the wagon before. Still, something smells rotten. And it ain't just the fact that Dumpty was long-past his "sell-by" date.

Your eyes search through the crowd of gawkers, but Peep is nowhere to be seen. You begin to get the feeling you might be getting double-crossed. But nobody double-crosses Max Hamm. It just isn't kosher.

Time to investigate.

Peep works for "The Big G", aka "Ma Goose", aka "Mother Goose". The Big G owns one of the two biggest movie studios in Storybook Land. The other is owned by The Grimm Bros.

You try to get in to see The Big G, but her secretary, a tough broad named Muffett, says Ma's out of town, so come back next week.

You have to think fast. You see a black, fuzzy creature hanging from the ceiling by a thread. "Is that a spider?" you ask.

Muffet screams and runs down the hall, giving you a moment to slip into Ma's office and go through the confidential files on all her stars and starlets. You find Peep's file.


Little Bo's been in trouble before. In her file are at least a dozen baby pictures, showing Miss Peep both shameless and diaperless. "A youthful indiscretion," you think. But one that could provide a solid foundation for blackmail.

You head back to Ol' King Cole's Supper Club. You've done some work for Cole in the past. The fat man owes you a favor.

You ask Cole for the skinny on Peep. Cole tells you she hangs out with a sleazy trumpet player named Eddie "Little Boy" Blue. He give's you Blue's address and warns you to be careful.

You make the scene at Blue's fleabag boarding house. Ironically, Little Boy lives "in a shoe. A perfect place to find a heel." You bust into Blue's roach box as he's starting to climb out the window. You pull a gat and persuade Blue to stay and answer some questions.

You ask Blue about Peep and Dumpty. Blue pulls out some ragged papers. They concern Dumpty. They provide a tragic secret about your partner's past. No wonder the egg cracked up.

Blue pulls out a gat while you peruse the papers. Suddenly his apartment door opens and--

Blam! Blam! Blam!

One holey horn blower bites the dust.

Standing in the doorway is The Big G herself. The barrel of her roscoe is smoking. You know, based on the papers, that Ma Goose played a part in Dumpty's tragic end. You hear the cops, so you let the Goose take a gander at the papers while you scram.

Now there's only one piece of the puzzle missing

Your tires screech as you pull up to Peep's cottage. In the foyer you find packed suitcases, an insurance policy on Bo's sheep, and a one-way ticket on The Queen of Hearts.

You think you've cleared up the case, but then hear a sound from the back room. You head over there, and just as you ease open the door...

Max Hamm, Fairy Tale Detective is a graphic novel by Frank Cammuso. It contains four separate stories: The Big Sheep, and a three-part story called The Long Ever After.

Cammuso does a great job blending classic fairy tales, hardboiled legends, and the classic Hollywood era. This is one of the few comics in black-and-white I've enjoyed. But the drawing style is not just black-and-white; there are plenty of noirish shadows and shades of gray.

The book's raunch factor is much closer to Who Framed Roger Rabbit than Fritz The Cat. More specifically, a number of the fairy tale ladies, especially in The Long Ever After, have ample bosoms, and Max Hamm smokes and drinks. But no sex or four-letter words.

The book is somewhat modeled after those "Little Golden Books" you might have read as a kid. Like The Little Golden Books, on the inside of the front cover is written "This Book Belongs to", and a space is provided where you can sign your name. Unlike The Little Golden Books, that rest of the inside cover is filled with images of knives, guns, bottles of hooch, packs of cigs, and babes in bikinis.

The book is a little longer than 200 pages; each story is told in about 50 pages. I zipped through the book in two sittings. "Volume 1" is printed on the spine and title page, but the book was published in 2005, and at Mr. Cammuso's website, no Volume Two is mentioned. Which is a shame, because this book is successful in every way, in my opinion. It is a great novelty item for fans of hardboiled fiction, and I will proudly place it on the shelf next to my copies of The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep. Though I doubt it will stay on the shelf for long. It is the kind of book I can open at any page and just savor fairy tale characters wearing trenchcoats, spouting hardboiled lingo, and getting involved in Confidential-type scandals.

If you want to get a look at the Max Hamm universe, you can find a sample story (one not included in the book) here.

This is an incredibly fun book and one I heartily recommend.

Under the Weather

I've been dealing with some minor medical issues the past few days (nothing to worry about, I assure you), and that's why the blog hasn't been updated. But we have a guest blog from Brian Ritt coming up later today if I can get it posted, and I should be back at full speed soon. Until then . . . watch the skies!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Secret Agent X Authors

Brian Earl Brown posted this list in the comments, and I decided to move it up here to make it easier for people who might be looking for this information to find it. Thanks, Brian!

I've read more than half of these novels and will probably get around to all of them sooner or later.

1.The Torture Trust, Secret Agent X , Feb., 1934 (v1-1) Written by Paul Chadwick)
2. The Spectral Stranglers, Secret Agent X , Mar., 1934(v1-2) Written by Paul Chadwick
3. The Death-Torch Terrors, Secret Agent X , Apr., 1934 (v1-3) Written by Paul Chadwick
4. The Ambassador of Doom, Secret Agent X , May, 1934 (v2-1) Written by Paul Chadwick
5. City of the Living Dead, Secret Agent X , June, 1934(v2-2) Written by Paul Chadwick
6. Hand of Horror, Secret Agent X , Aug., 1934(v2-3) Written by Emile C Tepperman
7. Octopus of Crime, Secret Agent X , Sept., 1934 (v3-1) Written by Paul Chadwick
8. The Hooded Hordes, Secret Agent X , Oct., 1934(v3-2) Written by Paul Chadwick
9. Servants of the Skull, Secret Agent X , Nov., 1934 (v3-3) Written by Emile C Tepperman
10. The Murder Monster, Secret Agent X , Dec., 1934 (v4-1) Written by Emile C Tepperman
11. The Sinister Scourge, Secret Agent X , Jan., 1935 (v4-2) Written by Paul Chadwick
12. Curse of the Waiting Death, Secret Agent X , Feb., 1935 (v4-3) Written by Paul Chadwick
13. Devils of Darkness, Secret Agent X , Mar., 1935 (v5-1) Written by Paul Chadwick
14. Talons of Terror, Secret Agent X , Apr., 1935 (v5-2) Written by Emile C Tepperman
15. The Corpse Cavalcade, Secret Agent X , May, 1935(v5-3) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
16. The Golden Ghoul, Secret Agent X , July, 1935 (v6-1) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
17. The Monarch of Murder, Secret Agent X , Aug., 1935(v6-2) Written by Paul Chadwick
18. Legion of the Living Dead, Secret Agent X , Sept., 1935(v6-3) Written by Paul Chadwick
19. Horde of the Damned, Secret Agent X , Oct., 1935(v7-1) Written by Paul Chadwick
20. Ringmaster of Doom, Secret Agent X , Nov., 1935 (v7-2) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
21. Kingdom of Blue Corpses, Secret Agent X , Dec., 1935(v7-3) Written by Unknown
22. Brand of the Metal Maiden, Secret Agent X , Jan., 1936 (V7-4) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
23. Dividends of Doom, Secret Agent X , Feb., 1936 (v8-1) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
24. The Fear Merchants, Secret Agent X , Mar., 1936 (v8-2) Written by Paul Chadwick
25. The Faceless Fury, Secret Agent X , Apr., 1936 (v8-3) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
26. Subterranean Scourge, Secret Agent X , June, 1936(v8-4) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
27. The Doom Director, Secret Agent X , Aug., 1936 (v9-1) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
28. City of Madness, Secret Agent X , Oct., 1936 (v9-2) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
29. Horror's Handclasp, Secret Agent X , Dec., 1936(9-3) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
30. Death's Frozen Formula, Secret Agent X , Feb., 1937(v9-4) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
31. The Murder Brain, Secret Agent X , Apr., 1937 (v11-1) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
32. Slaves of the Scorpion, Secret Agent X , June, 1937 (v11-2) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
33. Satan's Syndicate, Secret Agent X , Aug., 1937 (v11-3) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
34. The Assassin's League, Secret Agent X , Oct., 1937 (v11-4) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
35. Plague of the Golden Death, Secret Agent X , Dec., 1937 (v12-1) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
36. Curse of the Mandarin's Fan, Secret Agent X , Feb., 1938 (v12-2) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
37. Claws of the Corpse Cult, Secret Agent X , Apr., 1938 (v12-3) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
38. The Corpse That Murdered, Secret Agent X , June, 1938(v12-4) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
39. Curse of the Crimson Horde, Secret Agent X , Sept, 1938 (v13-1) Written by Paul Chadwick
40. Corpse Contraband, Secret Agent X , Dec., 1938 (v123-2) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
41. Yoke of the Crimson Coterie, Secret Agent X , Mar., 1939(v13-3) Written by G. T. Fleming-Roberts

Sunday, January 03, 2010

District 9

This movie got a lot of great reviews and wound up on some year’s best lists. I’m sure you know the basic plot: alien mother ship shows up hovering over Johannesburg, South Africa, but the ship seems to be broken down, the aliens are pretty much helpless, and the South Africans take them in, segregating them in a camp known as District 9, where they become a permanent, exploited underclass. Then the South African government decides to relocate the prawn, as the aliens have come to be known, and hire an evil corporation (is there any other kind in movies?) to take care of it. From there, you guessed it, Things Go Hideously Wrong.

When we first started watching this movie, with its oh-so-serious, shaky-cam, mock-documentary style, I thought, “This is just dumb.” I have a hunch that if you really started taking the plot apart, it would still be dumb. But I admit, I got caught up in the story before it was over, although it’s so shamelessly and blatantly manipulative that I never quite got past being irritated by it. I mean, come on, couldn’t they have given the alien kid an alien puppy, too? The filmmakers pushed every other button, didn’t they?

But the acting is excellent, especially the guy who plays the lead, and the action scenes are well-staged. The sight of the mysterious mother ship hovering over Johannesburg is pretty impressive. DISTRICT 9 is a very violent and bloody movie, so much so, in fact, that after a while the violence becomes rather cartoonish and is hard to take seriously.

So mark me down as having mixed emotions on this one. I think there’s enough good stuff in it to make it worth watching, but I also think it has enough serious flaws that it’s nowhere near being one of the year’s best.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Secret Agent X: Monarch of Murder - Brant House (Paul Chadwick)

From the August 1935 issue of the pulp SECRET AGENT X, this fast-moving yarn opens with the Secret Agent surreptitiously boarding an ocean liner at sea that’s bound for New York. It seems that the Agent has discovered an infamous criminal known only as Dr. Marko is trying to slip into the country so he can take over all the gangs and organize them, as well as using his scientific genius to commit terrible crimes. Unfortunately, Dr. Marko is as much a master of disguise as Secret Agent X himself, so it’s going to be difficult to find him among the hundreds of passengers and crew members.

Approximately the first third of this novel is set on the ocean liner, and it’s an excellent sequence featuring the near-constant switching of disguises, whirlwind action, a couple of grisly murders, and a beautiful damsel in distress (not reporter Betty Dale for a change, although Betty does show up later and play an important part in the plot). After the boat reaches port and the action moves onto land, the story loses a little of its momentum as it turns into a more standard capture-and-escape, foil-the-villain’s-evil-plans pulp adventure. Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you. MONARCH OF MURDER still manages to be pretty entertaining all the way through.

The author behind the Brant House name in this case is Paul Chadwick, the originator of the Secret Agent X character and the primary author of the series early on in its run. With Chadwick’s work, you can usually count on plenty of action and a few scenes that are genuinely creepy, and MONARCH OF MURDER delivers on both counts. The villain’s true identity doesn’t come as a complete surprise, but it’s not telegraphed as blatantly or as early in the story as sometimes happens in these pulp hero novels.

This one is scheduled to be reprinted soon in an inexpensive edition by Beb Books. It’s one of the better Secret Agent X novels I’ve read, and if you’re a fan of the series it’s well worth reading.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Good Start/Resolutions

I don't take New Year's Day off, so I was upstairs writing as usual most of the day. I wrote about 5000 words, which is a decent start for this year. Now all I have to do is string together 200 more days like that, and I'll have my million words.

And I promise I won't bring that up again unless I actually accomplish that goal.

Speaking of goals, I've never been the sort to make or even think about New Year's resolutions, but for some reason I've come up with several this year. The list is up to ten items, and I have the file open on my writing computer so it'll be the first thing I see every morning when I sit down to work. Most of them are boring, generic stuff like eat less and work out more. Two of them, however, are to read more books and spend less time on the Internet. We'll just see how that works out.


I discovered this morning that I made a mistake in my record-keeping. I actually read 114 books in 2009, not 113. (I know, big freakin' deal, but I'm obsessive enough that if I post something, I want it to be right . . . except for the times when I'm too lazy to worry about it, of course.)

New Year's Eve Movies

We ushered out 2009 with a couple of movies, and an odd double bill it was, too.

We’d seen all the other Terminator movies (although we gave up on the TV show), so it was inevitable we’d watch this one, too. Christian Bale is top-billed as John Connor, but the movie really belongs to Sam Worthington, playing a convict who’s executed for murder in 2003 but somehow shows up in 2018 in the middle of the resistance’s war against Skynet and the Terminators. (If you haven’t seen any of these films, you have no idea what I’m talking about, and I’m sorry for that. But the back-story is too complicated to summarize here.) TERMINATOR SALVATION has plenty of action, the occasional quieter moment, and a decent plot that sets things up for more sequels. As far as post-apocalyptic, SFX-laden action/adventure movies go, I’d say it’s slightly above average.

BELOW THE BORDER is one of the entries in the Rough Riders series of
B-Westerns starring Buck Jones, Colonel Tim McCoy, and Raymond Hatton as a trio of U.S. marshals who work undercover. In this one they’re after a gang of rustlers and jewel thieves who have a hideout just across the Mexican border from Arizona. The plot is standard stuff, but as always, the chemistry between the three heroes is good and the movie also benefits from the presence of veteran heavies Roy Barcroft, Charles King, and Bud Osborne. There’s a pretty good shootout in this one near the end between Buck Jones and Charles King.

By the way, you may be reading about more of these old Westerns here on the blog this year. One of my Christmas presents was a gift card from Half Price Books, and most of it went for a couple of those 50-movie sets of public domain B-Westerns. That’s 100 movies, with no duplication between the two sets, and I’d only seen about ten of them before. So I have lots of B-Western watching to do.