Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Highs and Lows for 2011

Thanks to all of you for supporting Laurie's Wild West this year, even when I couldn't be here all the time.

If there were two words that would sum up 2011 for me, it would be Hope and Health. Here's a summary of my highs and lows from this year.

High: The release of RIDING THE PULP TRAIL. Matt Moring's (Altus Press) fantastic design made this book beautiful and a collector's item. I am so proud of this book and can't wait until the next release of Paul Powers' stories.

High: Doing book signings this year, both for PULP WRITER and WRITING THE PULP TRAIL, at the invitation of Bobbi Jean and Jim Bell of OutWest. Participating in a panel discussion at the Cowboy Festival on the popularity of the movie TRUE GRIT, and another panel at OutWest with other authors in the fall. I'm continually amazed by Bobbi's and Jim's support of both the Western community and the local artists in our area. They are true champions of the West.

High: Speaking of the movie TRUE GRIT (the 2010 version), having it be such an enormous success in 2011 and nominated for so many Academy Awards.

High: Pulp Fest 2011, in which I was asked to be on a panel again and was nominated for a Munsey Award. Best of all, I was able to hang with some good friends that I only get to see once a year - never enough - and made some new ones. Oh, and picked up plenty of good pulps.

Low: My health took a dive this year. Finding out I have significant scoliosis which is starting to make my back unstable. After 50+ years of being healthy as a horse, I now deal with pain on a daily basis, and have spent significants sums of money on medical expenses, even with insurance. The only good thing is that I'll have a healthy tax write off this year.

Low: The economy this year, which many of my friends and relatives suffered greatly. I was lucky enough to stay employed this year, although the workload increased significantly this year and the stress contributes to be a factor in my health issues.

Low: Not being able to go to London this year. Wait until next year.

High: Being able to spend time with my goddaughter and develop a closer relationship. She will be going off to college this year, which I still can't believe.

High: traveling to the East Coast in October to do research on my new project. More on that in 2012.

High: Going to Phoenix twice: to see my cousins Claudia and Carole (who I never knew until I was researching my grandfather' life) and then again to see my great-uncle George, my grandfather's half brother, who is now 90 and still as sharp as a tack and a joy to be around.

High and Low: The Dodgers this year. Lows because of the obvious: (1) Frank McCourt. (2) Bryan Stow being beat almost to death after the Opening Day game and his struggle all year long to live; and (3) abysmal win-loss record. Highs: (1) because of the abysmal season, being able to buy tickets at record-low prices; (2) being able to buy tickets right behind home plate for a steal AND seeing Clayton Kershaw pitch that night; (3) Clayton winning the Cy Young; (4)Matt Kemp becoming a major star and runner up for MVP and (5), seeing Bryan Stow sit up and carry on a conversation a few weeks ago on television. Let's hope he continues to improve.

Low: Losing Xena, who was an angel both in life and now on the Rainbow Bridge.

High: Adopting Chloe. At first it was an extreme low, because of her disasterous health issues, but now I've got a cat that is affectionate and beautiful, and I can't imagine my life without her. Even if she does yowl in the early morning hours making me want to kill her.

High: Annie is still Annie.

What about all of you? What were your highs and lows?

Happy New Year to all. "Twenty Twelve" has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Top Ten: Westerns Viewed in 2011

The top ten lists are starting to pile in. Here is Ron Scheer's Buddies in the Saddle top ten Westerns he viewed in 2011.Bookmark and Share

Free for the Next Five Days: One of the Best Selling e-Westerns on Amazon!

FREE for five days!! I know, I couldn't believe it either when I read it. For the next five days you can get the e-book Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles Vol. IIfree from Amazon. If you don't believ me, go to The Education of a Pulp Writer and check it out.

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Good Bye Rusty

The pulp fiction community lost a piece of its foundation yesterday when James "Rusty" Hevelin passed away. I didn't know Rusty that well; in fact, I just met him last summer at PulpFest. But I feel it's important to acknowledge someone like Rusty who contributed so much to the community, especially for fans of science fiction. It's also distressing to see someone with such a wealth of knowledge leave us.

If you want to read a nice tribute to Rusty, go to PulpFest's website.

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Dr. Kildare Movies on TCM right now

It's a little late to post this, but maybe some of you will be able to jump on Turner Classic Movies right now and catch the series of Dr. Kildare movies they're running right now. For those of you new to the pulp world, Dr. Kildare (who later made a very handsome Richard Chamberlain a TV star) was created by none other than the very prolific pulp writer Frederick Faust under his pen name Max Brand. These movies, from the late 30s and early 40s, starred Lew Ayres.

I need to work right now, but I'm recording them to watch later.

Any of you historians want to expand on the Dr. Kildare story?

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Holidays from Daisy Bacon

During some recent research, I came across this charming and slightly odd holiday card from Daisy Bacon.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Daisy, she was the editor of LOVE STORY MAGAZINE, which was the biggest selling pulp magazine of its day. During this period of 1930 it was selling a staggering 600,000 copies a week. She was also the editor of ROMANTIC RANGE, and during the war years, edited Street & Smith's DETECTIVE STORY. In the final years of the pulps, Daisy was also given the responsibility of being editor of the last years of DOC SAVAGE and THE SHADOW. Not only was she one of the few female editors, she was also, by some accounts, the highest paid editor, male or female, in New York City during the 1930s.

To read more about Daisy, see my posts The Queen of the Pulps, Part One and Part Two.

Here are some LOVE STORY covers from the same period. Modest Stein was the artist for all but one of these covers, and was signature artist for LOVE STORY for many, many years. To read more about Stein, read my post here.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday. Be safe and be happy.

Love, me, Chloe and Annie.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Covers: FAR WEST ILLUSTRATED, January 1928

This issue is dated January 1928, but it's still a holiday cover and a dandy one at that.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Covers: WESTERN STORY, Dec. 24, 1921

Since the Kid Wolf cover went over SO WELL, here's an alternate for today.

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My Favorite Christmas Covers: WILD WEST WEEKLY, 12/22/34

Believe it or not, I don't have that many WILD WEST WEEKLYs featuring Christmas on the covers. This is one of the few that I have.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Covers: WESTERN STORY, Dec 26, 1936

If you haven't gone to the post office yet to mail your packages, you might end up having to hire this guy to deliver your presents.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Covers: THE BLACK CAT, Dec. 1912

Sorry for the delay today folks. Duty calls.

Anyway, I think this one's a real treat, only because THE BLACK CAT doesn't necessarily pop up when one thinks of pulp magazines.

Galactic Central's summary: "A very off-trail magazine which liked to publish unusual stories and featured a large amount of fantasy in its early years. Authors include Jack London, Octavus Roy Cohen, Ellis Parker Butler, Cleveland Moffett, Harry Stephen Keeler, Frank Lillie Pollock."

BLACK CAT, December 1912.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Covers: ADVENTURE, December 1933

This cover comes to us courtesy of ADVENTURE. The Captain is getting ready to eat a plum pudding. Has anyone had plum pudding? Just wondering - sounds pretty good to me.

ADVENTURE, December 1933

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tour of Melody Ranch This Saturday

This is a great opportunity to see one of the most famous of movie sets - especially if you're a Western buff. Melody Ranch is normally not open to the public, but they are offering a tour this Saturday for the Newhallywood on Location Film/TV History class. The details are below.

If you want to read up on the Melody Ranch, I wrote a post about it two years ago (can't believe it's already been two years). Go here to read it.


Greetings film and television fans:

Have you ever wanted to take a peek inside Gene Autry’s movie ranch that was once the home of Gunsmoke and Deadwood?

We’re excited to announce that the Newhallywood on Location: Film/TV History of the SCV class will be touring Newhall’s Melody Ranch on Saturday, December 17 at 1 PM.

The tour will begin at the historic Saugus Train Station inside Heritage Junction, 24101 Newhall Avenue, Newhall, and hosted by Santa Clarita Valley film historian E.J. Stephens. It will begin with a brief lecture on the history of Westerns in the SCV and a visit to William S. Hart’s ranch house before we caravan to Melody Ranch. Please wear comfortable walking shoes.

The cost is $40.

Please email, or call 626-483-1205 to sign up, or for more information.

E.J. Stephens, Vice President
Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society

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My Favorite Christmas Covers: POPULAR MAGAZINE, 12/20/24

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Covers: BLUE BOOK, December 1944

Day two of our Christmas series, and a real gem today. BLUE BOOK was noted for its strong support of the troops with its covers during World War II, and I think this one is one of the best. It also is a great one to use today to celebrate that our troops in Iraq are COMING HOME and will be able to celebrate the holidays with their families this year.

BLUE BOOK, December 1944

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Monday, December 12, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Covers: WESTERN STORY, Dec 27. 1941

To get myself in the Christmas spirit, I'm going to post some of my favorite Christmas pulp covers - one a day until Christmas day.

This one has to be one of my all-time favorites. What child wouldn't want a pony for Christmas?

Kinda wish the scan was a little better, but maybe some day I'll be lucky enough to get an original copy.

WESTERN STORY: December 27, 1941

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Frustration, Part Two

Part Two of Heidi's adventures with holiday lighting!

After the harrowing day yesterday, I got up early this morning resolved to have festive Christmas lights up on our house by the end of the day today.

Knowing that I’d have to brave the Christmas shoppers, I fortified myself with a good, stiff (OK….where are your minds going? Sheesh) BOWL OF OATMEAL and a big Americano. After measuring again and making my list (checking it twice) I started to head out the door. I realize something after my 2-day Christmas light calculations: the Christmas light companies hire all the best and brightest MIT graduates to calculate the probability that you’ll need exactly 3 more feet of lights than the boxes sell, FORCING you to have to buy one more box for that 3’ of space. They’ve somehow figured out the average home’s roof measurements, and calculated all the permutations so that you’ll never be able to buy the exact amount of lights you need for your roof. Either you’ll be too short, or you’ll have to get creative for the extra feet of lights you have.

I stopped myself just as I was heading out the door and thought I’d better be just a little more fortified, so I dug around in the back of the cupboard and found my emergency stash of Trader Joe’s Chocolate-covered Mint Espresso Beans. Yeah. That’s the ticket. I down a few of those (OK, a whole handful) and head out the door.

Now, I had researched online which stores in my area still had the clear icicle lights. That would be Home Depot, Target, and Wal-Mart. I head to Target first. Of course, I remember from yesterday that the Christmas section is all the way to the back of the store, and to the farthest corner available to man. I’m no dummy. I know they just want you to lollygag on the way, see things you don’t need, and buy them. I’m not falling for that. OK, I did buy a couple of Greek Yogurts and a bag of lettuce, but I needed those anyway. Really.

Target is already packed with people. Knowing I have to get to the back of the store (and fast) before all the Christmas stuff goes, I grab a cart (for those extra items I don’t need) and head out at a good clip. Halfway back, the espresso beans kick in and I’m really flying. From the right, another lady zooms out from the home goods. I know (from the look in her beady eyes) she is also headed for the Christmas section. She may have had some chemical enhancements, and I’m just armed with a good coffee buzz. Hardly fair competition. For a few minutes we are like a scene from Ben-Hur (but with shopping carts, rather than chariots). Luckily, I have the advantage of having been to this section the day before, so I know a few shortcuts and beat her back there. When I get to the Christmas section, they have lights of all sorts known to man and beast…..except white icicle lights. Blue ones? Yes. Green ones? Yes. White ones? No. After corralling some poor Target worker, they scan all the labels and tell me that there are no icicle lights to be found anywhere in their stockroom. Maybe I should try Home Depot. OK, I can do that.

Now Home Depot must have a different philosophy, because the helpful person at the door tells me they are right over there: to my right…handy to the door. In and out…quick like a bunny. Again, I don’t see white icicle lights. Again, I corral a worker. This dude said they are all out and proceeds to show me the LED white icicle lights at only 300 times the cost of the “old style” lights. I tell him, of course these are the only ones left..who would pay that much? He tells me how cost effective they’ll be, and how they’ll last years and years and I’ll be able to pass them on to my kids. Seriously…he really said that. Now, the fact that I might still be able to have kids is shocking enough news (pretty sure that ship has sailed), but the fact that he thinks I’m buying this line of salesman crap…well. I told him that the lights I’m replacing are only a year old, so I doubt these will last generations. Then he again pushes the cost effectiveness over time. Again, I’ve done my homework. I inform him that the regular lights cost 9 cents an hour to run and LED Christmas lights cost 1.5 cents an hour to run. That’s a big difference but still not much money overall. Assuming I have 6 strands of lights and I run those lights 5 hours a day for about 30 days in December. The result:

LED Christmas Lights: $.00152 x 6 strands x 5 hours x 30 days = $1.37

Regular Christmas Lights: $.00912 x 6 strands x 5 hours x 30 days = $8.21

So it costs $6.84 cents more during the holiday season to run regular lights. But remember regular Christmas lights cost $78 less to buy. If everything were to magically stay the same that means I’d have to use the same Christmas lights for about TWELVE years (12 x $6.84 = $82.08) to actually make up the money in energy costs that I laid out in my initial purchase.

The Home Depot guy is happy to see my patootie head out to Wal-Mart.

Lo and behold… I enter the Wal-Mart there are BOXES of WHITE ICICLE LIGHTS……right there by the front door! Unable to believe my eyes (I feel like Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” when he finally gets his Red Ryder BB Gun). Can it be? Yes…..I grab 3 boxes and fly to the cash register. Wait…where are the open registers? Why are all these people lining up down the aisles? They are there because there are (literally) only THREE registers open, and NONE for 12 items or less. I settle in for the wait, happy that at least I found my lights. Where are the “people of Wal-Mart” when you need them? No 400 pound thong-wearing transvestites, no sheepdogs with less hair than their owners, no one playing the banjo. To amuse myself while I wait I borrow a few magazines from the racks and read how Kourtney Kardashian is expecting another child, how Brad Pitt is really an alien, etc. Finally, it is my turn. I pay for my lights and hightail it out of there.

I get home, test the lights, put them up, and I’m so pleased with myself. I’m on such a high (maybe those coffee beans were too much) that I decide to do the entryway as well, and seriously thought about the courtyard also. OK. Must calm down. I accomplished my task. Tomorrow is another day. I’ll think about the courtyard when I’ve come down from the caffeine and can think more reasonably.

Here's a picture of the new lights.

I KNOW that they look like demented, drunk icicles. I truly straightened (by hand) EVERY stinking one of those strands. Still they kink. I can only hope that the electricity running madly through the wires tonight will warm them enough to straighten them out. Maybe years from now my grandkids will finally have straight icicles.

Mission accomplished.

Ho, ho, ho.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Frustration, Part One

Does putting up Christmas lights fill you with dread? Read this email sent to me by Heidi, a childhood friend with whom I reunited on Facebook. This is one of the reasons I would be willing to pay someone to put up my Christmas lights.

Hi Laurie,

Since you are a writer, and seem to be of a similar mindset to me, I thought I would make your day a little cheerier by sending the following seasonal email. I might point out that we JUST moved to this house…after 24 years of living in our other home. 24 years of stuff. A whole other email. Still...that is the background for the boxes mentioned here. (I’ve only just cleared out enough that I don’t have to worry about the TV show, “Hoarders” knocking on my door.)

I see that a lot of our neighbors have already begun to get into the Christmas spirit and are joyfully decorating their homes with an array of festive lights. It seems like we just had Thanksgiving, but today I decide that I’ll start with the outdoor lights. Here’s how that goes:

Go into garage. Squeeze into the driver’s side of the truck by getting in the passenger side door. Garage is so full of boxes that I can only get into one side of each car. Back truck out. Crawl under truck with aluminum pan filled with sand because truck leaks oil like a Texas oil well gone awry. Hope I put pan where the leaks are. Climb over more boxes to get to cabinets where we stored the Christmas decorations last year. I’ll cut out about an hour here of my going through the boxes trying to find the lights…OK…found the lights. Plug in lights. All is good. They are those “icicle” lights. Stand outside the garage calculating the number of feet of lights, the number of feet of roofline, allowing for roof slopes, roof cutouts, wind shear, etc. By this time I’ve used the laws of exponents, quadratic formulae, binomial theorem and the rules of zero.

Satisfied that I have enough lights, and they fit around everything and still have enough to plug into the extension cord, I start at one end of the house. I extend the ladder (another hassle trying to get the ladder out from behind the boxes) and put it over the bushes, resting (only slightly crookedly) on the gutter. As I start up the ladder, I notice the bushes are FULL of bees. Being a smart person, I went back into the house, powered up my cell phone, and put it in my pocket. I feel smug because if a bee stings me and I fall of the ladder, I can call 911. Somehow, in the Christmas spirit, I’ve forgotten that if I fall off the ladder, I’ll end up IN the bushes, more bees will sting me. Since ONE bee sting caused my heart to stop in 8 minutes, probably I won’t have time to dial 911. When they find my dead body they’ll know I was smart enough to at least have that phone in my (now cold) little hand.

Back up the ladder (staying to the right side to counterbalance the fact that the right foot isn’t ACTUALLY on the ground), I fasten the little light holders onto the gutters (I’ll bet somebody made a FORTUNE from inventing those things and can now pay for someone else to put up the bloody lights). Listening to Christmas music, I happily start stringing away. Down the ladder, move the ladder to a new bee bush, up the ladder. Repeat a hundred times. Did I mention these were icicle lights? I get halfway around the house and I see that my icicles are either trying to reproduce, or I’ve forgotten to untangle them from each other. They were untangled when I started, but now they aren’t. Now, I don’t want to go back on that ladder, because that is the bee area. I root around the garage again and I find the extend-a-pole that I used in Modesto to clean the second storey windows. I poke it around the lights, pull them apart and all is good. Continuing on around the house……all the lights are up, tangle-free and look just lovely. That wasn’t too bad…only took about 3 hours.

I find the extension cord (more moving of boxes). I unroll it, cleverly hide it in the gutter, plug it in and……………………….WTF???!!!! How is it that two strands have about 4’ in the MIDDLE of the strand where the lights are now not working? They are, of course, on the farthest sides of the house from each other. Both ends of the strands are fine, it is just a few feet of icicles in the middle that are dead as a doornail. I drag the ladder back to the bee bushes. I push in ALL the lights on each icicle that is out. I find a couple broken lights and think, well, that must be the problem. Back to the Christmas cupboards to find replacement bulbs. Can’t find any at all, but I do have a set of fun, festive lights that have those white bulbs in them. I take apart the bulbs, straighten those little wires, shove them into the icicle fixtures, put the fixture back into the strand and……they work, and then they don’t. Each time I replace a light, it quickly blows out.

Well, I think, I’ll just have to go BACK into town, stop at the Ace Hardware store, and get some strands to replace these. Clearly, some part of the strand has died, and I’ll just keep blowing bulbs. I don’t want to burn the house down before I’ve even unpacked, so in I go. I grab the last couple of icicle lights (they are sold out of replacement bulbs) that they have and speed home. I’ve given up on the stinking Christmas music and now I’m onto Spa music trying to calm down. I pull the truck into the driveway and see I didn’t get the sandbox under the oil drip. I back out and park in the street.

I’m confident that if I just replace those two strands, all will be good. The other 2 strands of lights are just fine. Plug in lights to test. All is good. These are new icicle lights, so I have to spend time un-kinking the “icicles” so they hang somewhat straight and match the other 2 strands that are older. I get back up on the ladder, hook them up to the strand that works. All good so far. Down the ladder, move the ladder to a new bee bush, up the ladder. Repeat fifty times (only replacing the strands, don’t have to re-hang ALL the lights). I get to the end and……the original strand is about 3’ longer than the one I’m replacing it with.

All 10’ icicle strands are not made the same. Some are only about 8’. Some are 11’. Now, I have to replace the whole stinking light setup. Trying not to lose my temper and fall off the ladder into the bee bushes, I carefully removed the lights I had just hung, re-folded each icicle to fit back into the packaging (who packages this stuff anyway?) and sealed it all back up to take back to the store tomorrow. I’m going to have to just buy all new strands of lights to go around the whole house. At least I’ll have two entire strands of lights for spare bulbs. I don’t know what my neighbors are going to think. Half my house has artfully draped icicles, the other part looks like they have melted. (By the way…the “melted” strands hung crazily like that for two days. I’m not sure what my neighbors think...probably some crazy person moved into this house.)

Here is the result of the festive spirit that hit me today. Right now, I’m getting festive and hitting the spirits.

Merry, merry, joy, joy and all that stuff.



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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gifts for the Pulp Fan at Pulps1st

Needing to find something for the pulp fan on your list? Look no further than the Mark Halegua's Pulps1st website, which embosses a wide variety of pulp fiction art on mugs, t-shirts, posters, CDs, and now even US postage stamps. (Why use boring Christmas stamps for your Christmas cards? Use stamps with pulp covers - no one will forget those )This PUBLIC ENEMY cover is one of those you can find on shirts, mugs, etc.

Mark is also working on a new product which should be available by the end of the week, Pulp Image Calendars. First up will be a western cover, followed by a Detective, Hero, and SF. Each month on the calendar is represented by a pulp cover from that month.

So go over to Pulps1st and finish your holiday shopping.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pulps A-Z: The Letter P

Some of these are well known - like POPULAR and PETE RICE - but I thought I'd throw them in with samples of some of their better covers. I especially like the POPULAR cover.




PIRATE STORIES, November 1934

PETE RICE, September 1934

PEOPLES, April 1907


POPULAR, June 7, 1917

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