Wednesday, August 31, 2011

OUT OF THIS WORLD: Review in the LA Times

There is an excellent review today in the Los Angeles Times on a new book about science fiction, OUT OF THIS WORLD: SCIENCE FICTION BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT, by Mike Ashley.

The review begins with: "The purpose of science fiction, at least for legendary pulp editor Hugo Gernsback, who coined the phrase in 1929, was to show people how science might change our lives."

The book sounds good. And any review in a mainstream newspaper that calls a pulp editor "legendary" is worth checking out.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pulps A-Z: The letter D

I was bound and determined to post titles this week that didn't contain the word "Detective." That made the search really hard. But I did find one with that word that is really interesting in its irony: Called simply DETECTIVE, it was very short-lived (2 issues in 1933 and maybe just one more in 1934) and is now very rare.

Although DRAGNET eventually became a "Detective" title (Detective Dragnet, and then eventually TEN DETECTIVE ACES), the period in which it was called DRAGNET - from the end of 1928 to the beginning of 1930 - was short. I picked this cover because I think it's magnificent. This is the second issue.

The next entry, DIME MYSTERY BOOK MAGAZINE, was a conventional mystery magazine with a full length novel in each issue along with a couple of short stories. Eventually it changed its title to DIME MYSTERY MAGAZINE and the emphasis of the content turned to "weird menace" which was anything but conventional. While it only lasted 10 issues as a conventional mystery magazine, it lasted 144 issues as a weird menace. This is the December 1932 issue.

THE DANGER TRAIL lasted for over two years under this title before it was changed to at least three more titles, the last being WIDE WORLD ADVENTURES, which was its last title in 1930. This is from October 1926.

DAN DUNN DETECTIVE was an attempt to capitalize on a certain comic book hero. It didn't work: It only lasted two issues. This is the second one, from November 1936.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Our Friends on the East Coast

A number of followers of Laurie's Wild West live on the east coast, such as in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. Although Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene has passed, I understand many of you are still without power. I hope that losing electricity was the biggest problem you had and that your houses/cars/businesses didn't suffer any damage.

When you all get your lives back to normal, check in with us and let us know how you fared by commenting on this post.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Return to Harry Carey Ranch

A few years ago I visited the Harry Carey Ranch (officially now called the Tesoro Adobe Historical Park) and wrote a blog post about it. I revisited the site this morning with some other members of the Santa Clarita Valley Photographer's Club, and what a treat it was. Jared Didier, a Recreation Services Supervisor with the County, offered to open up the home to us so we could take interior photos. While we wandred around the house, Jared (seen in the ranch office below) talked about the history of the ranch and the current status of the house. His enthusiasm about the ranch is infectious. It is so gratifying to see someone so interested and passionate about the history of this beloved site - a site that has been overlooked by so many people.

I was very encouraged to hear that there are now efforts (and it sounds like money) to make the house's furnishings more historically correct. Jared feels strongly that the house should be furnished in the spirit of the 1920s and 30s when Harry Carey built the house and lived there. Apparently some people are of the opinion that the house should be furnished more in the spirit of the family that lived there later in the 1960s and 70s (the family that owned the Farmer John Meat company). Obviously, I strongly agree with Jared and most of the other members of the club agreed. Nothing against the Farmer John company - I eat Dodger dogs all the time - but I tend to think that most people that visit the ranch are more interested in film history and not the history of the Farmer John family.

What's cool is that they are open to taking contributions of furnishings, decorations, and other items. I offered to donate some pulp Westerns from the 1930s, and we even talked about putting up a display. What would be very cool is to find a particular story in a pulp (I'm thinking maybe a WESTERN STORY) that was later adapted to a movie in which Harry Carey or his son starred. If any of you know of any in particular, let me know.

Anyway, here's some more photos. Info about visiting the ranch is at the bottom of the post.

Living room

Back of radio

Detail in door


Paw prints in kitchen tile; from wild animals


Mural in Bedroom

Looking down at the stable

Another view from wagons' resting place

If you're interested in visiting the ranch, go to the Tesoro Adobe web page on the County of Los Angeles' Parks and Recreation web site.

All photographs copyright 2011 by Laurie Powers. Please do not use without my persmission.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday's Web: By Ken Levine

Today's web recommendation doesn't have anything to do with pulp fiction or westerns or anything that I usually write about. My blog of the week is BY KEN LEVINE ( Ken is a long time television writer, mainly comedy, who writes about anything and everything - sometimes it's about television, sometimes it's about baseball, sometimes it's about writing television scripts (he was one of the writers for M*A*S*H), or about movie reviews and or something just random, but it's always entertaining.

I know about Ken because he used to be one of the hosts of Dodger Talk on our local Dodger radio station - a program that would run after every Dodger game where people could call in and talk for hours and hours and hours about what they loved or hated about the Dodgers. Ken was terrific and I thought he was always spot on with his opinions. Then the sucker went away after last year's season. Maybe he looked at his crystal ball and saw what was coming down the pike for the team this year. He was also hired by the Seattle Mariners to do play by play. (Bob Napier, is he still there? Have you heard him?) But I was heartbroken when he left Dodger Talk and I think the show hasn't been the same.

Check into Ken's blog, especially if you're into anything having to do with television and/or writing for television. He must have a lot of followers because his posts get a lot of comments and his blog was named one of the top 25 blogs of 2011 by TIME MAGAZINE. So don't be offended if he doesn't comment back on your comments. If he did he'd never get anything else done.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten Pulp: SMITH'S MAGAZINE

I'm sure some of you are going to object to my choice this week. But then a little controversy never hurt a blog. My choice this week, SMITH'S MAGAZINE, was a fiction magazine that started in 1905 and continued until February 1922, when it merged with LOVE STORY MAGAZINE. According to Galatic Central, SMITH'S MAGAZINE didn't officially become a pulp with the standard pulp paper forma until 1919. It also wasn't exactly a "small" pulp, because its circulation quickly grew to 200,000 and eventually grew to 300,000 per month.

But it seems to have that "forgotten" look to it. And because it ended up being the precuror to LOVE STORY, a magazine that I have a special interest in, it becomes my Forgotten Pulp of the Week.

SMITH'S was launched by Street & Smith as a magazine for the "John Smith's" of the country. The first issue had a statement that said "...SMITH'S MAGAZINE will not be a class magazine, nor will it build for itself a high pedestal of cleverness. It will be kept within the focus of the every-day reader who seeks entertainment."

Ironically, the most notable fact about SMITH'S that has passed down in history is not its covers nor the fiction that appeared in its pages, but its editor, Theodore Dreiser, author of AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY and SISTER CARRIE. In fact, THE FICTION FACTORY, the in-house history of publisher Street & Smith, devotes a great deal of page space to SMITH'S famous editor.

According to this book, Dreiser was having trouble finding a publisher for SISTER CARRIE, and was somewhat bitter about the rejection experience:

It was this bitter man, this powerfully molded man with piercing eyes, shaggy brows, and a mount that looked like a half-healed wound, who stalked heavily into the office assigned to the editor of SMITH'S MAGAZINE. He approached the task of editing the magazine on a stricly professional level and not as the tortured artist he was. He had a strong mother-fixation and a deep hatred for his father which manifested itself in an unquenchable rage against his father's religious faith. Yet not of this was ever evidenced in either the fiction or the articles he bough and editors for SMITH'S. With the exception of MacLean, Duffy and Ormond Smith, he had few friends in the firm.

Dreiser ended up leaving Street & Smith for Butterick Publications. Several years later, in 1928, Daisy Bacon took over the helm of LOVE STORY and inherited Dreiser's roll top desk as part of her new assignment, and the rest is history.

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Meridian Bridge Interviews Me About RIDING THE PULP TRAIL

Man, do I feel terrible. Due to my crazy work life, I totally missed Rich Prosch's posting of an interview of yours truly over at Meridian Bridge. This was originally posted on August 15 - I'm really sorry, Rich, I didn't see it before. And thanks for the great questions!

Rich asked me about the new collection, RIDING THE PULP TRAIL, and like I say in the interview, Matt Moring over at Altus Press is the one who deserves all the credit for making this such a beautiful collection. I think he really did the spirit of the Western justice with his design.

So go on over and check out the interview. And also keep checking back here - I have plans for some contests and giveaways!

You can buy RIDING THE PULP TRAIL over at Altus Press, or here at Amazon.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Pulps A-Z: C

There are some good obscure titles in the C's. It would have been even easier if I had used a title that started with the word "Complete." But I thought that would be kinda cheating, because there are so many of them.

I really messed up my right eye this weekend. Too much close computer reading at work, and then I wore my contact lenses for the party Saturday night. I woke up Sunday with my eye almost swollen shut and unable to tolerate sunlight. Today wasn't much better. The vision in my left eye is very weak, so the botton line is that my reading has been cut back substantially the last two days. Things like this make you really appreciate how lucky we are to 1) have the ability to see and 2) have the ability to read.

So I really think there should have been a pulp magazine with the title CORNEA STORIES.

And yes, there's another baseball cover but it's special because of who's on the cover.



COMET, December, 1940


COLLEGE STORIES, May 1931. Believe it or not, COLLEGE STORIES was originally the beautiful and short-lived SEA STORIES.

CHAMPION SPORTS, July 1937. This was roughly a year after Lou Gehrig retired.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Birthday Bash, 1930s Style

A friend of mine is celebrating her 60th birthday this weekend. Which isn't that out of the ordinary, but the way she's marking the occasion is kind of fun. She's rented a great and rather famous house in the Santa Monica area for the evening and everyone who's invited is coming dressed in the spirit of 1930s glamour. So we all get to dress up and have some fun.

I'm lucky enough to know of a vintage clothing store called Threads of Time in San Pedro, and a few weekends ago I went down to try on a few dresses. Man, I don't think I ever really realized how beautiful clothes could be back then. I was so taken with the three dresses I was shown, and their prices were so good, that I bought all three of them. Something about 1930s fashion has definitely struck a chord with me.

Although I'm sure a lot of people will be dressed a la Jean Harlow, I've chosen to wear more of an everyday dress, like the dresses below, only because it fits me better than the other two. And my best friend is wearing one of the others, so they'll get some use.

It'll be interesting to see the dresses at the party. And a photographer will be there to take our pictures. This might be something I end up doing for one of my birthdays myself one day.

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