Sunday, February 26, 2012

Because I Love the Underdog...

I haven't seen all of the pictures or the performances that are up for Academy Awards this year, but I have seen a few that I think worth mentioning because I thought they were so great. And because they're underdogs, chances are they won't get much mention either tonight or after tonight. But I strongly recommend checking these out.

1. Demian Bichir, Best Actor, "A Better Life". This is an amazing performance by Bichir, who up until this point may have only been known by people for his role in "Weeds." The movie, about an illegal immigrant who is trying to make a better life for himself and his son by putting everything he has into a landscape business in Los Angeles, is gritty and tough, and some of the scenes take place in LA but could be on another planet. Bichir's facial expressions during some of the worst moments are heartbreaking, yet I can't remember a character so noble and heroic.


2. Best movie and screenplay: "Midnight in Paris." What a great, old fashioned, charming movie. The story line is surprisingly simple and not really novel by any means, but the combination of the time period (1920s Paris), the characters (F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, just for starters), and the performances, especially by Marion Cotillard, are pitch perfect. I have to say that many times Woody Allen's characters are so pretentious and removed from the average American life that I want to barf, but in this movie it works - Rachel McAdams and her parents play upper class elitists superbly and are perfect contrasts to the sensibilities of Owen Wilson. Who ever knew Owen Wilson had such range? Every writer who has ever suffered writer's block should see this movie.



3. Jessica Chastain, Best Supporting Actress, "The Help." Chastain plays the outcast wife Celia Foote, the floozy with a heart of gold who hires - in secret - the maid played by Octavia Spencer, and who is trying to understand why she is so shunned by the rest of the town's socialites. All of the attention will be on Octavia tonight, and rightly so, but Jessica's role is actually one of the best in the movie and head and shoulders above some of the other wife characters that were actually more like caricatures.


That's all for now. I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of the other movies that I haven't yet - "The Artist" especially. As for tonight, I'll be cheering when Billy Crystal is center stage again. It's been a looooong drought without him.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Mystery of the Charles Wrenn Sculpture

I received a really interesting email the other day from Margaret Watts in Australia. She has in her possession a sculpture with some pulp fiction connections, but we're not really sure what the full story is.

According to Margaret, this sculpture was given as an award at some point in the 1930s in the United States. Charles L. Wrenn's signature is on the base, and along each side of the base are the names COWBOY STORIES, RANCH ROMANCES, and ACE HIGH, which we all know were popular and long-standing pulp Westerns during the 1930s.





Margaret checked David Saunder's website, the Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists (www.pulpartists.com) and says the signature on the sculpture matches the one on Charles Wrenn's bio page.

According to Margaret, "This statuette came into my family via my mother’s second husband, Arthur. Arthur told my brother that he’d inherited from his mother who lived for quite some time in the US. He also said that it had been awarded in the 1930s. Unfortunately, as with many family histories, Arthur is now long deceased and the story is not complete."

Margaret also told me of another intruiging tidbit: in the 2006 movie THE HOLIDAY, (you know the one, where Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz switch houses), Kate befriends an elderly screenwriter (played by Eli Wallach). When she visits his house, there, among his many awards, is the sculpture.

PulpArtists.com says that Charles Wrenn sold freelance pulp magazine covers to The Danger Trail, People's Magazine, Ranch Romances, Three Star Magazine, and War Stories from 1920 to 1936. In 1936 he moved to Wilson Point, South Norwalk, in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he painted portraits and landscapes until he died in 1952 at the age of 72.

Below are a couple of Wrenn's covers.

So, does anyone have any ideas of the story behind this sculpture? I'm thinking that maybe it was an award given by someone like the Western Writers of America, but not sure.




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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Holy Gas Bags! Sale of ZEPPELIN STORIES Copy

Yesterday on Heritage Auctions, a copy of ZEPPELIN STORIES sold for $6,572.50 (including buyer's premium.)

Here's the description of this particular copy on the website(photos below):

"Zeppelin Stories V1#3 (Ramer Reviews, Inc., 1929) Condition: Apparent VG+. A beautiful copy of one of the rarest and most sought-after pulps in existence, featuring the classic cover story "The Gorilla of the Gas Bags" by Gil Brewer." Exceedingly difficult to find and listed as "very rare" by Bookery's, this is the first copy of this issue -- or any issue of the title -- we've had the opportunity to offer. The covers and spine are complete and unfaded, with what appears to be a very minor amount of regluing performed on the head and tail of the spine. The pages are tan with some browning and early signs of brittleness to the edges, but are still supple. The bottom edges of the cover seem to have been trimmed. A beautiful copy with only the minor restoration work and page quality preventing it from grading higher. Bookery's Guide to Pulps VG value = $2,500."

Any opinions? I knew ZEPPELIN STORIES were rare, but "one of the most sought after pulps"?



Thanks to David Lee Smith for the heads up.

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Blog Recommendation for Writers Dealing with Legal Issues

I found this blog the other day and thought I'd recommend it to all you writers, publishers, re-printers, and editors. The Passive Voice belongs to attorney David Vandagriff, but he doesn't dispense of legal advice on his blog. Nonetheless, his posts seem to be very valuable when it comes to dealing with publishers, copyrights, and especially contracts. Check it out.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Semi-Dual Stories: Coming from Altus Press

Altus Press, which is the home of Riding the Pulp Trail, has a new collection coming out that is the first of its kind and sounds pretty fascinating. The Semi-Dual stories were an an occult detective series written by two pulp writers, J.U. Giesy & Junius B. Smith. The first series appeared in the Cavalier in 1912, which is what Altus Press will be reprinting in this first volume.

Matt Moring from Altus was kind enough to send me this checklist of all the Semi-Dual stories that appeared over twenty years.

I'm going to stick my neck out here and ask the most basic and probably dumbest of all questions: Why were they called the Semi-Dual stories?

So look for the first collection of these to appear, probably by the end of this year. In addition, if you want to keep current with what Altus is publishing, you can go to their website (which is a really cool site), and also follow them on Facebook (facebook.com/altuspress).



Semi Dual by

1912
1. The Occult Detector - Cavalier 3 parts Feb 17, 24, Mar 2
2. The Significance of High “D” - Cavalier 3 parts Mar 9, 16, 23
3. The Wisteria Scarf - Cavalier 3 parts Jun 1, 8, 15
4. The Purple Light - Cavalier 3 parts Oct 5, 12, 19

1913
5. The Master Mind - Cavalier Jan 25
6. Rubies of Doom - Cavalier 2 part Jul 5, 12
7. The House of the Ego - Cavalier 3 parts Sep 20, 27, Oct 4
8. The Ghost of the Name - Cavalier Dec 20

1914
9. The Curse of Quetzal - All-Story Magazine Nov 28

1915
10. The Web of Destiny - All-Story Weekly 2 parts Mar 20, 27
11. Snared - All-Story Weekly 3 parts Dec 11, 18, 25

1916
12. Box 991 - All-Story Weekly 3 parts Jun 3, 10, 17

1917
13. The Killer - All-Story Weekly 4 parts Apr 7, 14, 21, 28
14. The Compass in the Sky - The People's Magazine May
15. The Unknown Quantity - All-Story Weekly 3 parts Aug 25, Sep 1, 8
16. Solomon’s Decision - All-Story Weekly 3 parts Dec 1, 8, 15

1918
17. The Storehouse of Past Events - People's Favorite Magazine Feb 10
18. The Moving Shadow - People's Favorite Magazine Jun 10
19. The Stars Were Looking - Top Notch Jul 1
20. The Black Butterfly - All-Story Weekly 4 parts Sep 14, 21, 24, Oct 5
21. The Trial in the Dust - People's Favorite Magazine Oct 25

1919
22. Stars of Evil - All-Story Weekly 3 parts Jan 25, Feb 1, 8
23. The Ivory Pipe - All-Story Weekly 3 parts Sep 20, 27, Oct 4

1920
24. House of the Hundred Lights - All-Story Weekly 4 parts May 22, 29.
Jun 5, 12
25. Black and White -Argosy All-Story Weekly 4 parts Oct 2, 9, 16, 23

1921
26. Wolf of Erlik - Argosy All-Story Weekly 4 parts Oct 22, 29, Nov 5, 12

1923
27. The Opposing Venus - Argosy All-Story Weekly 4 parts Oct 13,20, 27, Nov 3

1924
28. Poor Little Pigeon - Argosy All-Story Weekly 5 parts Aug 9, 16,
23, 30, Sep 6

1926
29. The House of Invisible Bondage - Argosy All-Story Weekly 4 parts
Sep 18, 25, Oct 2, 9

1929
30. The Woolly Dog - Argosy All-Story Weekly 4 parts Mar 23, 30, Apr 6, 13

1931
31. The Green Goddess - Argosy 6 parts Jan 31, Feb 7, 14, 21, 28, Mar 7

1934
32. The Ledger of Life - Argosy 4 parts Jun 30, Jul 7, 14, 21


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A Kind of Turner Classic Movies Kind of Day

If you're a lover of Turner Classic Movies but can't watch during the day, today's one of those days when you might as well set your DVR to "continuous" and let it record all day, starting right now and well until after midnight. At least that's what I'm going to do.

The theme today is films set in Washington DC. Here's the schedule for today (starting at 7:15 AM Pacific time):

Born Yesterday (who can forget Judy Holliday screaming "WHAT?")
Dr. Strangelove
Seven Days in May
Man Called Peter
Watch on the Rhine
Strangers on a Train
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
All the President's Men
Logan's Run

For the detailed schedule and opportunities to buy these classics, and all of the other great thingies that TCM offers, go to the TCM website.



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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Annual Paperback Collectors (and Pulp Mags) Show in L.A. Coming Soon

One of the few annual vintage paperback shows on the West Coast is coming: the Black Ace Books Paperback Collectors Show and Sale. It'll be on Sunday March 25, 2012 from 9 am to 5:30 pm. at the usual place: The Valley Inn in Mission Hills. For those of you outside of Southern California, Mission Hills is in the northeastern part of the San Fernando Valley and the Valley Inn is almost smack on top of the intersection of the 405 and the 118 Freeways. Very easy to get to.

In the past there were quite a few pulp dealers at this show, and most bring a respectable inventory. And of course, there are two huge rooms of vintage paperback dealers.

This is a ONE day show. The price is right: $5 to get in. There's always a good crowd and I hope to see some old friends there. Mark your calendars if you don't want to miss a great show.

And thanks to Paul Bishop for the flyer jpg and the reminder!

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Just in Time for the Downton Abbey Finale

Just in time for the Downton Abbey 2nd season finale tonight, here are some paper dolls that you can cut out and use for....whatever. From the web site Vulture, they at least can get you through the next few days of withdrawal. I especially love Matthew and Mary's - check out the bottom corner for a bonus!

Even though I have watched all of the episodes religously this year, I have taped all of this season as well, so I can view it again when I need a DA fix during the dog days of summer.

Happy finale watching!






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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just in Time for Valentine's Day: An Original LOVE STORY

I'm very proud to show off my first piece of original pulp art. This is a piece by Modest Stein, premier artist for LOVE STORY MAGAZINE. It appeared on the September 5, 1936 cover of the magazine - a photo of the cover is below. Although I've had it since last October, I wanted to wait until I could get it framed before I "released it to the public." Today, my Valentine's Day present to myself was to pick it up from the framer.



This piece was given to me by the woman who was Daisy Bacon's caregiver during the last months of Daisy's life. Daisy, as some of you know, was the editor of LOVE STORY and one of the most famous of all pulp editors. LOVE STORY, for many years, was the top selling pulp fiction magazine in the world. This piece was actually owned by Daisy Bacon.

The caregiver, (who I'm not naming to respect her privacy) also took care of Daisy's half sister Esther, who was assistant editor of LOVE STORY, until Esther died a few years after Daisy. After Esther died, the sisters' estates were distributed and the caregiver was given this picture, as well as another Modest Stein that she is keeping.

Because it was never framed (as far as I know), it does show some wear and tear. In addition, it's got an interesting flaw: you don't have to look very hard to see a circle around the man's head. Seems that Mr. Stein either replaced or heavily painted over the original head on the piece. Don't some of you gals out there wish it was that easy to replace your husband or boyfriend's head sometimes? :)

When I shipped this home, my friend asked me if I was going to "fix" the flaws in the piece. I said, "Hell no!!" Not only does it have loads of provenance, it's a great example of pulp art and how pulp artists had to hurry to meet their deadlines.

Chloe's pretty happy with it too. Although I don't think she's thrilled with the Pekingese in the picture.



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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

PulpFest - Here's the Poster

The PulpFest website continues to add more and more information for those interested in going. And here's the poster in jpeg form, which you can find on the Programming page. Feel free to share it on your blogs to promote the convention.


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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Meet the New Member of the Family

Meet the new member of our family: Winston Churchill Powers.

He was at the Pasadena Humane Society, surrended by his owners because they lived in a condo and "he didn't get along with the daughter's ex-husband." Whatever the hell that means.

I first saw him on Thursday on my first trip to the shelter. His name was Axel, a five year old who was surrendered by his owners and I could tell, just by looking at him sitting down, that he was very overweight. They said he was a Smooth Collie. He was sweet, sitting next to the bars, sadly looking out and licking your fingers.

But I was bent on getting a German Shepherd. I wanted a guard dog, or at least a dog that would be a deterrent. At the shelter, I found one that I fell in love with - a gorgeous and big seven year old who had been a stray. I put a hold on him, and the shelter put him through his tests on Friday, all of which he passed. The only thing left was to have Annie, my nine year old shepherd lab mix, meet him.

So, very excited, I brought her to the shelter first thing Saturday.

But when he and Annie met, sparks flew, and they weren't good sparks. Annie is a dominant dog who is usually fearless and can hold her own. But this dude was just as dominant, and Annie ended up scooting back to me, tail between her legs. They spent the next 15 minutes in the yard ignoring each other. The damage was done.

This is why I think it's so important for people who are thinking of adopting a new dog to not assume that your dog, however sweet and friendly he or she may be, will get along with the new dog. When I was looking at other dogs at the city of Los Angeles shelter, I asked whether they had facilities where Annie could meet the prospects. I was told "we don't do that here." That made me so furious that I wrote a letter to the head of the city's animal services department. But people at rescue groups and places like the Pasadena Humane Society know how important it is, and they insist that your dogs meet with the prospect before any adoption can take place.

Anyway, I digress. Discouraged after Mr. Handsome's epic fail with Annie, I went around the shelter and started to look again. And one of the volunteers told me about Axel - again. Not really convinced but willing to keep an open mind, I said okay, let's have him meet Annie. So Kevin brought in Axel, who was so overweight, he literally waddled in. If you ask me, a five year old dog this overweight is inexcusable.

Axel, even though it was hard for him to get around, ran up to meet Annie. The two got along from the start, and Annie was much more relaxed. As they wandered around the yard, occasionally meeting each other face to face and sizing each other up, but the posture was totally different. I looked at him and there was something about him that was so kind, so earnest, and even though he was obviously struggling with his weight, he was still playful. Plus I loved the markings on his head. What can I say, I am a real sucker.


So Axel came home with us. He could barely get into my car, and in fact had to stand on the floor in front of the back seat because he couldn't get up on the seat. We had the drive home from hell, with traffic jammed twice on the 210 that made our trip home two hours instead of one. But Axel stood their patiently - he eventually was able to sit down and didn't whine once.

When I got him home, I discovered one major problem. Axel has no leash training whatsoever. Put him on a leash and he bolts ahead, determined to go where ever he wants and sniff whatever he wants. This is probably a 100-pound dog. I have a bad back. This is not a good combination. He is now on a crash course of how to walk on a leash. Watching the Dog Whisperer had paid off. Thank you, Cesar Millan. (His dog center is in my town by the way). Whether or not my back will survive this remains to be seen - it depends on how quickly Axel decides to do things my way.

I also realized that this is no Smooth Collie. Although he might have some collie in him, or even Australian Shepherd, he's more Saint Bernard than anything else.

He and Annie are still adjusting to one another. Annie, being the Queen of the Universe, is still in shock a little, and we're all trying to keep reminding her that she's still Queen.

He's on a strict diet now - Canidae Weight Management food twice a day, with just a few snacks during the day - carrots and green beans. He is definitely someone used to getting his way in the kitchen - he is a fixture in there, thinking he's going to get some goodie from me. Poor guy - between being put on a diet and being put on a short leash when walking, he's probably wondering, "if this is being rescued, I'd rather stay with my old owners!!"
.
The last thing I did yesterday was change his name. I couldn't stand the name Axel, which I suspect was given to him by the previous owners who had only had him for 3 months. And I found out that actually he wouldn't even answer to Axel. Being a smart dog, I think he chose to ignore being called such a ridiculous name.

So his name was changed to Winston, and guess what - he's already starting to respond to it.

Last night, my original wish was granted - the wish for a guard dog that started me on this path in the first place. A friend came by and knocked on the door. Winston immediately started barking, and there was no mistaking it - this bark belongs to a very big dog.



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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Primer on This Year's Pulp Conventions

I'm on vacation this week and have been spending the week buried in research, and before that buried in day-job work, so I haven't had much time or energy to post on the blogs. But while I have the energy, I do want to give everyone a run-down of the big pulp fiction conventions that are coming up this year.

The first one on the schedule, the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention, is a long-standing national pulp convention where most, if not all, of the major dealers show up. In addition, Windy City is known for its auction every year, full of outstanding collectible pulps. This year Windy City will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first appearance of Tarzan in any medium, when he appeared in the October 1912 issue of ALL STORY. Windy City runs from April 27 through the 29th, and is held at the Westin Lombard Center in Lombard, Illinios.

By the way, if anyone you know has doubts as to the collectibility of pulp fiction magazines, and whether they've appreciated at all over the years, tell them to try to find one of these issues and then ask what the going price is.

The second big convention is PulpFest, this year from August 9 through August 12 at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio. The PulpFest 2012 website has all of the most current information. There you can find out all about the programming this year. Science fiction author Mike Resnick has been announced as being this year's guest of honor. If you want to learn more about this award-winning author, go to the PulpFest Guest of Honor page. You can also sign up for updates at the site, look at reviews, blog posts from previous years, and even a history of pulp fiction page.

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