Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Libraries: Places of Dreams and Places of Refuge

I love libraries. I owe libraries so much. They were my favorite destination when I was a kid. Every Tuesday, I'd wait impatiently for Mom to take all of us to the Carnegie Library in Livermore that evening after she got home from work. There I'd race through the bottom floor and run up the stairs to the second floor, all the way to the far corner where the children's books were. There's I'd zone in on the horse books like Walter Farley's THE BLACK STALLION and Marguerite Henry's MISTY OF CHINCOTEAGUE.

Later in life, libraries became a haven where I'd go to escape the drama unfolding at home or when I needed to forget my own troubles when I was out on my own. The school library, the town library, the community college library, all became places of both dreams and of refuge.

Much later, they became a necessary place where I found many a book I needed for research. If I was working on a school project, and I didn't know where to look, or even what to look for, I'd have to approach that intimidating person, The Research Librarian, where I'd end up just blurting out that I had no idea what I was really looking for. Somehow she always managed to figure it out for me. Once the Internet came into being, when the local branch didn't have the book I needed, I could order it via the Internet and miraculously it would show up at my branch within a few weeks.

A few years ago I got out of the habit of thinking of the library as a place to find books. That was partly due to the fact that my local library, a City of Los Angeles branch, was a terrible place. It smelled of urine, had an appalling low number of books and was a haven for transients who dominated the chairs and desks. Of course, for the most part they were harmless and I felt sorry for them, but they were still distracting. So I quit going. There was a very nice library up in the Palos Verdes area, but it was somewhat of a drive. I ended up getting in the habit of buying books on amazon.

Now I'm lucky enough to be in a city that has a wonderful, large library that is part of the County, not City, of Los Angeles Library System. I can order books from the county library system and it will arrive within days at my local branch. When I move, the area where I will live will, thankfully, be in the County system as well.

Here are the books I checked out tonight:

The Time It Never Rained
by Elmer Kelton. Doubleday Edition, 1973. This is the book that Kelton writes so lovingly about in his memoir, Sandhills Boy.

Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic by Alyssa Milano, 2009. Milano, you might remember, was a child star who starred in the TV show Who's The Boss. I didn't know until recently that she is a dedicated baseball nut, a loyal Dodger fan, and knows enough about the game to write this book. It came highly recommended by a friend who is both a voracious reader and a Dodger fan.

Raymond Chandler: Collected Stories. Borzoi, 2002. I've seen this book before at the library and decided to take the leap tonight. It's a thick book, but even if I only get around to reading a few stories, I'll still be ahead of the game.

I encourage everyone to visit their local library. They are the quiet heroes of our community and many times they don't get the credit they deserve for the positive impact they have on our lives.

Above photo credit:

Hump Day Hamburger Heaven

Posting is going to be sporadic for the next few weeks, folks. Found out yesterday that if I want to take advantage of the offer dangled by the new owner of this house - namely Cash For Keys - I have to agree to move out in 30 days. Haven't agreed to it yet; I'm waiting to see how much green stuff they dangle in front of my eyes. But the only other option is waiting out the eviction process, an option that even sounds unsavory. So I've got to get busy.

Here are some good posts out there today:

Bookgasm has a review of To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West by Mark Lee Gardner.

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine has a link to 75 Years of Penguin on Interesting history plus some great covers from over the years.

Pulp of the Day has a great cover of Ian Fleming's GOLDFINGER on display today.

The Creative Penn is a new stop for me with all kinds of tips for writing, publishing and promoting your book.

Anybody who hasn't bookmarked Brian Solomon's Lots of Pulp...well, you really need to. He's got a fantastic ACE-HIGH DETECTIVE cover up today, but they are always good.

If you're trying to think of ways to market yourself and/or your books, nowadays you need to think about your whole "image." (I hate using the word "branding" in a corporate perspective, but then there you have it.) If you're interested in marketing, or even if you're not but you're employed by someone who pays you to be interested, then it's worth your while to go over to Brass Tack Thinking and check out their columns. Today's is great: it's called How to Be An Expert Without Being An Ass.

Golden Age Comic Book Stories has a post up today with scans from a copy of A SONG OF THE ENGLISH by Rudyard Kipling with illustrations by W. Heath Robinson. One thing about this blog: the posts they have are marvelous, but some of us have noted that when they post pulp covers, many times the covers are "cleaned up," i.e., altered using Photoshop or some other photo software. The covers are way too clean and sometimes even the feature stories that usually are advertised on the covers are deleted. Personally, I don't like that, and now it makes ALL of their posts suspect in my eyes. Maybe I'm too much of a purist, but I believe in keeping things real, not perfect.

That's all for now. It's on to work, vet appointments and craig's list.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Xena the Bear

Xena got a bath today.

She HATES getting baths and spends the entire time trying to get out of the bathtub. I hate it too, because it's a backbreaking job bathing a 90-lb black and tan bear.

But when it's over she is SO happy. She races around the yard...

Then she harasses poor Annie who is just trying to retrieve her ball...

Then when she's done with that, she stops and takes a breath...

...and then, to show how little respect she has for my hard work, performs the coup de grace.

If you recall, I had to take Her Highness to the vet a few weeks ago. I was worried thinking that the degenerative spine disease she'd been diagnosed with a few years ago had flared up again. Come to find out she had a urinary tract infection. I had xrays of her back and hips taken anyway, and she's in perfect shape. No sign of a degeneration or arthritis. For a nine-year-old German Shepherd, she's in fantastic shape. And now, after 2 weeks of antibiotics, she's feeling better - obviously. She's happy and so am I.

As The World Turns...

Most of my regular readers know that I've been renting a house that is 1) up for sale and 2) is going through the process of being a Short Sale. The owners - my landlords - had been struggling to pay the mortgage and decided around the first of the year that they would try to sell the house, provided that their bank, Indy Mac, approved a short sale for the lower appraised value of the house.

For the past five months we've had open houses and showings and went through the first round of buyers, who eventually backed out because it was taking so long, and then we went through another open house which gave us two more buyers who are willing to wait for the very long time it takes to go through a short sale. I've been waiting for a few months now to find out that the lender has approved the short sale and to give me my proper notice for me to move out. Today I got a phone call from the realtor, and he had some news for me, except it wasn't the news I was expecting.

The bank foreclosed on the house.

Apparently this happened about a week ago. Without notifying the owner (my landlord) or their realtor.

Things can get kind of sketchy when you're hearing things second hand, but it sounds like the bank decided to go ahead and foreclose even though a short sale was in process. This may have been because they got a better deal from someone, or they figured that they would get some kind of rebate from their insurance company. Banks and lenders, if you don't know this, have almost no incentive to do a short sale on a house. On the other hand, if they foreclose on a property, many times they are reimbursed for some of their losses through their insurance company.

So. What this all means for me is that I'll have to plan on moving perhaps sooner than I expected. Or not. They still have to send me official notice that the bank is now the owner, and provide me with information and give me the opportunity to go through the court system for eviction or give me "Cash For Keys," which means they'll pay me to move out sooner. So I could be out of this house as soon as 30 days, or as long as 60, or maybe even more. Fannie Mae is involved and they're all backed up like a sewer, according to the realtor, so who knows how long it will be before I get that notice.

One things for sure...I do NOT want this to all happen around the end of July because...that's when Pulp Fest is happening! Aargh!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Davy Crockett's Almanac - Required Reading at BEAT TO A PULP

I've been so busy lately that my blog reading has really fallen off and not keeping up with all the great posts out there, especiallly on my friend's blogs. I'm going to try to catch up this morning, but I'm going to the Dodger v Yankee game this afternoon, and I figure I need to get there at least two, maybe two and a half hours before game time to avoid traffic jams and to get a decent parking spot. I'm not kidding. Sold-out games are always a nightmare at Dodger Stadium.

But before I take off, I want to direct you all over to BEAT TO A PULP. Evan Lewis of Davy Crockett's Almanac has his own story posted over at Beat to a Pulp, "The Mercy of Jean Lafitte." I highly recommend this great sea story - it's worthy of ADVENTURE, THE OCEAN, POPULAR, and SEA STORIES. Just great reading.

Mr. Lewis has really been on a roll the past few days. Pulp fiction fans will be very pleased to see that he's posted a full-length Lawrence Donovan story, "Killer Tells All," today over at Davy Crockett's Almanac. This story originally ran in SPEED DETECTIVE in the August 1943 issue.

All for now. Wish me luck trying to find free parking today!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Latest Paul Powers Book News

PULP WRITER is now on Kindle. Finally!!! You can go and download your copy of PULP WRITER right now for $9.99 here.

As for DESERT JUSTICE, Leisure Books holds the electronic rights to this book, but according to my agent, Jon Tuska, Leisure has no immediate plans to turn DESERT JUSTICE into an electronic book.

I was really disappointed to hear this, because I think DESERT JUSTICE is the perfect candidate for an e-book. And with the paperback now out of print, there is no other way to get it other than through private sellers on Amazon. I do have a couple of copies in my private inventory, but there aren't that many left.

Maybe if enough people complained, Leisure Books would change their mind. You think?!

We will very shortly have two new short stories available for download on the PULP WRITER Web site. One is a new short story Western entitled "Murder on the Hoof," and the other is a new Sonny Tabor story, "By the Neck Until Dead." I'm right now still working the kinks out with my Web designer to get the online store set up - these things always take longer than you originally plan. I hope to have them both up by the beginning of next week.

So hang tight everybody!!

Weekend Movie Classic: Grand Hotel (1932)

Last night I had the opportunity to see GRAND HOTEL, the 1932 classic starring a litany of movie stars: John Barrymore, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery, and a supporting cast of hundreds. Although I could have sworn I had seen this before, once I started viewing it, I knew I hadn't - I would have remembered this gem.

GRAND HOTEL is apparently the movie that changed everything in Hollywood. Before, the long standing tradition was that movies could only have a maximum of two movie stars; anything more than that would have made the production cost-prohibitive. In addition, Cedric Gibbon's set design was so elaborate and so gorgeous (my film forum commentors last night said that the set of this glamorous hotel set in Berlin was the "sixth character" in this film) that it ushered in the glamorous and elaborate art productions that the 1930s would be famous for. The hotel literally shimmers with the shining black and white floors, gleaming bannisters, elaborate staircases, and granite counters that, according to my sources, this movie was where the term "silver screen" was coined.

But for me, it was all about John Barrymore. His character, a baron who has a money problem due to a gambling habit, is desperate to come up with money - in the beginning it's to pay a gambling debt, but later to be able to run off with Garbo's character, a high-strung ballerina who he rescues from suicide at the last minute.

Barrymore, for me, carries the whole movie, and that's saying something because everyone else is magnificent as well (with a slight dip in ratings for Garbo in my mind - her acting is over the top). Barrymore's Baron (or Flix, as he is called affectionately by Garbo) is a class-act despite being a thief: he won't stoop to petty thievery and befriends the stenographer Crawford and the dying bookeeper Lionel Barrymore. He is a supreme gentleman to them and to everyone else in the story, including his beloved Dachsund. To me, Barrymore's character was a story in and of itself. He plays it to the hilt; if there ever was a role made for him, this was it. Many people consider this the last of his great performances.

There are several story lines: Garbo's suicidal despair over her decline as a prima ballerina and her neurotic insecurities; John Barrymore, in a desperate need for funds, breaks into Garbo's room, finds her pearls and pockets them, only to have Garbo return to her room early and watch her, behind a curtain, decide to kill herself. Wallace Beery needs to successfully complete a merger between the company owned by his father-in-law and a contentious owner of an English textile company - if he doesn't, his father-in-law's company will collapse. Crawford is a steely independent single woman who is hired by Beery to document the merger talks, but Beery wants more than dictation from her. Crawford meets John Barrymore and is intrigued by him and can't wait to meet him again the next evening. Lionel Barrymore is dying and decides to spend his last days spending the money it had taken him a lifetime to save. To his delight, his boss, who he despises, has also checked into the hotel and Lionel would love to find a way to bring him down a peg or two. His boss, by the way, happens to be Wallace Beery.

Of course, it all ends up in the ways you'd expect, but I still found myself crying at some points both out of grief and out of joy.

GRAND HOTEL was a monstrous success and raked in huge ticket sales, so much so that MGM became the only movie studio that year to report a profit. Ironically, GRAND HOTEL was only nominated for one Academy Award - for Best Picture.

It won.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Forgotten Book: Sandhills Boy by Elmer Kelton

I'm taking a leap here by choosing this book as a Friday Forgotten Book, because it's hard to imagine that Elmer Kelton would ever write anything that would be considered forgotten. But the vast majority of this very popular author's books have been fiction - most of them in the western genre - so I bet that a lot of his readers don't know that he wrote a memoir. I also decided to write this review because the one year anniversary of Kelton's passing is coming up in August.

Published in 2007, SANDHILLS BOY covers Kelton's early years on the family ranch as well as his years as a soldier in World War II, meeting his wife in Austria and their life after Anni emigrated to Texas to be Elmer's wife.

That's the book in a nutshell. Written in the simple and clear prose, always self-effacing, he writes simply and with love on growing up on a cattle ranch. Kelton does touch on some personal battles he encountered along the way, such as his lack of self-esteem, but the account reads like an cultural and social history of Texas ranch life as opposed to a personal history. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't have merit as a memoir - quite the opposite in my opinion. Kelton's ability to keep the spotlight off of himself and instead on the people around him - his family, the other workers, their neighbors - makes this a remarkable account of Texas life and a very important book for anyone who is interested in early 20th century cowboy life. It also says a lot about this man who preferred to talk about all of the people around him than himself -Kelton was modest and unassuming all the way to the end.

Just as remarkable is Kelton's account of meeting his wife, Anni Lipp, while stationed in Austria at the end of the war. Kelton knew just a little German. Anni knew no English, and to make it worse, was suspicious of soldiers and had parents who disliked American soldiers even more. On the day they met, when Kelton left, Anni and her parents assumed they would never hear from him again. They didn't know this determined young man from Texas. Kelton returned and, until he had to ship out, continued to court Anni. The minute he returned to the United States, Kelton's top priority was finding a way to get Anni to the U.S. so they could marry.

After the war, Kelton, even though suffering from low self-esteem and the lack of approval from his father, stuck to the writing business and struggled to become a successful fiction writer, despite his father's distrust of anyone who would choose such a dubious way to make a living:

Dad valued physical labor but distrusted indoor work. He did not acknowledge that anyone sitting at a desk was actually working. He liked to see some tangible end product of labor, whether it be cattle for the market,a crop of cotton, a straight fence, a meal on the table, or even a proper shine on a pair of boots. A pile of papers did not count, for these could not be eaten, worn, ridden or driven.

James Reasoner, another fine Western writer, wrote a review of SANDHILLS BOY back in 2008. In the review he writes of his father, who had the same prejudices that Kelton's father did towards writers, and how a meeting between his father and Kelton at a Western Writer's Association conference changed all that.

I've always been endeared to Kelton because I've been told that he grew up reading my grandfather's stories in WILD WEST WEEKLY, and in particular Sonny Tabor stories. So I was a little disappointed when he mentioned reading pulp magazines when he was a young boy but didn't mention WILD WEST WEEKLY in particular. But he does mention later that when he started to seriously consider fiction writing for a living, he was given a "bag full of old pulps" and studied them judiciously to get the technique down. I bet there was a Paul Powers pulp or two in there somewhere. He does write of his association with editor Fanny Ellsworth, editor of RANCH ROMANCES, who published his first stories.

Kelton doesn't write as much about his career once he became an established writer. But he does talk of his early novel publications and the disappointment in that he couldn't get a publisher for his pride and joy, THE TIME IT NEVER RAINED, based on the long drought of the 1950s in Texas. Make no mistake, this book is about Kelton's young life and meeting the love of his life and it is frequently nostaglic. Still, I thought it was highly entertaining and I think it's definitely worth reading.

Friday's Forgotten Books is hosted by Patti Abbott over at her blog pattinase. Please go there to find who else has written Forgotten Book reviews.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pulp Artist R.G. Harris

I've always liked R.G. Harris' work for WILD WEST WEEKLY. Some of my favorite Sonny Tabor covers were painted by this talented artist during the 1936-37 period. I didn't know until recently that Harris had also done many DOC SAVAGE covers, and I bet a lot of people don't that either, as Walter Baumhofer is best known as the Doc Savage artist. Many pulp fans I know have told me recently that they really like Harris' work and always felt that he was an unsung hero of the pulps. Not only did he do DOC SAVAGE, but he also worked steadily for many other magazines such as COMPLETE STORIES, DOUBLE ACTION WESTERN, PETE RICE WESTERN, THRILLING ADVENTURES, WESTERN ROUND-UP and WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE.

Robert George Harris was born September 9, 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri, and he studied at the Kansas City Art Institute. In 1933 he moved to New York City ( says that he drove a motorcycle all the way to New York City and opened up an art studio in New Rochelle) and it certainly didn't take long for him to get work, because from what I can see, his covers for mags such as WESTERN STORY started to appear as early as 1934. Not bad for an artist during the Great Depression.

Harris was one of those that ended up "graduating" to the "slick" magazines such as COSMOPOLITAN, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, LADIES HOME JOURNAL, REDBOOK, AND THE SATURDAY EVENING POST. Hard to believe that the man behind such gritty covers as this WWW cover....

would end up doing work for staid ladies' magazines, but he did, and the illustrations are wonderful.

Pulp says "During WWII he volunteered to join the USO Artists For Freedom Project, which was organized by the NY Society of Illustrators to bring together over 200 artists to draw thousands of portrait sketches of wounded servicemen recuperating in military hospitals. Harris visited hospitals in New York, Connecticut, Virginia, and North Carolina."

After the war, Harris gained a reputation as a fine illustrator and worked steadily for the slick magazines and such companies as Coca-Cola anad Cannon Sheets. He also gained considerable success as a portrait artist. The Arizona Republic reported that "his oil portraits hang in the Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., and in many private collections in the United States."

In 2004, ILLUSTRATION magazine published "An Artist's Life," Harris' biography co-written by his daughter Marcia Harris Sewell. The article is accompanies by a list of his portrait work and work done for the slick magazines, but not for the pulps.

Harris lived his last years in Arizona and died at age of 96 on December 23, 2007.


WILD WEST WEEKLY, March 28, 1936

WILD WEST WEEKLY, May 23, 1936

WILD WEST WEEKLY, August 15, 1936

WILD WEST WEEKLY, December 26, 1936

DOC SAVAGE, November 1936

DOC SAVAGE, May 1937

DOC SAVAGE, June 1937

DOC SAVAGE, September 1937

DOC SAVAGE, October 1937

PETE RICE, June 1939

For more works by R.G. Harris, go to this page where various works of his were up for auction, as listed by Arcadia Auctions. Included on this page is a portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This page at American Gallery also has several illustrations from the slick magazines. For a list of his work in the pulps, go to the Fiction Mags Index.

Sources for this post, including photo of Harris:
William Lampkin's tribute to R.G. Harris at Yellowed Perils

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I'm getting all my ducks in a row to put together a good post about one of the unsung pulp artists, R.G. Harris. But before I do, I think I need to take a day off so I can rest and rejuvinate. I'll be back, folks.

In the meantime, kick back and watch the World Cup...what is YOUR favorite team, other than the good ol' U.S.? I think at this point I'm going to root for Argentina.

Hopefully you all have air conditioning while you watch it - I hear the humidity on the east coast is beastly right now.

Monday, June 21, 2010

List of Cowboy Memoirs

Buddies in the Saddle has just posted a list of Cowboy Memoirs. This is a fantastic list that is broken up into memoirs based in the Old West, those from the early 20th century, and those from the more recent decades. As I am just finishing Elmer Kelton's memoir Sandhills Boy, I'm in the mood to read more of these type of memoirs and I can't wait to dig into this list. Thanks, Ron, for compiling such an important list that many of our readers will be referring to for a long time to come.

Laurie's Personal West: is Posted at Meridian Bridge

For today's reading, I invite you to go over to Meridian Bridge and check out my contribution to the My Personal West series that Rich is running. It's a fantastic series and I'm proud to be part of it.

The essay that I chose was originally going to be part of my Prologue that I wrote for PULP WRITER. Unfortunately, I ended up cutting it, but only because of space constraints. The Prologue is long enough as it is. But I've always been fond of this piece and I'm glad I was able to resurrect it. I've updated it somewhat, but the skeleton is the same.

I hope you all enjoy it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Happy father's day to all you dads out there, and especially to all the guys I know who really step up and take care of their kids.

I grew up without my father and grandfathers around, but there were plenty of other great role models to help me along the way. Here are photos of some of the men who have been there for me through the years, either personally or in spirit. I'd like to thank them here for everything they've done through the years.

I don't have a scanned photo of my great Uncle George (Paul's half-brother) at the moment, but I'll post one when I have one.

Brother-in-law Bob

My mother with her parents, Martin and Flora Selton

Brother-in-law Billy

Uncle Ted

Grandpa Paul

Uncle Tom

My father John and my mother