Category Archives: Books

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Drummer

Drummer by Richard Carlile is the literary equivalent of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs? Who knew?

Guest Post: Gently Rise and Softly Fall

You can’t shake a tree around here without a guest writer falling out. This time it’s a friend of mine from the internet music mailing list scene. It’s a scene that barely exists now because of social media but it was once lively.

In the great tradition of First Draft pen names, she is writing as Cassandra. Here’s hoping that her prophecies are not scorned by our readers.

-Adrastos

Gently Rise and Softly Fall by Cassandra

I woke up this morning in a really crappy mood, which is pretty normal given what is going on right now. When I sat down with my laptop, my first reminder was “write piece about joy”. OK, here goes nothing.

Last March, my husband and I were watching our cat Rey play with her favorite toy:  a spring coated in vinyl. Cats play when all their needs have been met and so they can expend precious energy for fun things. Rey stands up on her back legs when she plays with a spring, passing it from paw to paw, and dancing herself. She goes to the legs of the bar stools and climbs over and around the legs, with the spring turning round. It’s infectiously joyful to watch. I clearly remember saying that we needed to memorize that image because we were going to need to remember what joy looked like as the months went on.

Last January I started reading Wanderers by Chuck Wending, a book about a mysterious pandemic which also included the scenario of an authoritarian US president and a national election. I also stopped reading it in January as things got to be way too close to real life here in the US. (Don’t spoil it for me—I fully intend to pick it back in a week or so.) Even though I couldn’t read the novel, I came across some of his stuff on Twitter and found his blog. A week after I had that conversation with my husband, Wendig wrote this:

Also accept any joy you feel and do so without guilt. Joy is hard-won, and if you manage that victory, there’s no shame in that. Take the victory lap. We will have to hunt joy like an elusive beast across the wasteland.

If you capture it, celebrate.

I thought of both of those things that glorious Saturday when the national election was called for Joe and Kamala (the weirdness of a TV network calling an election is a conversation for another day).  I live in West Virginia, so there was no parade of cars through the streets, honking and beeping for joy. (I made do with yelling “BEEEEEEEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEEEEEEEP” all day around the house (my poor husband)). I don’t know that there was much uncertainty around the final outcome earlier that morning, but the joy was certainly real and comforting—because we could recognize what joy looked like.

I studied US history for a long time, and I have a lot of things to say about politics. I think last week was the worst week in US history, and this week has already said “Hold my beer,” so politics can wait another day. Find some joy today and hold it fast.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Georgia Boy

I obviously still have Georgia on my mind.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: And Four To Go

I grew up on Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries. My mom was a fan and she introduced me to the books. I never got into growing orchids, but my paunch currently resembles that of William Conrad and Maury Chaykin who played the detective on teevee.

And Four To Go is a short story anthology that kicks off with the holiday classic Christmas Party.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Tied Up In Tinsel

The holiday theme continues:

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Chester Himes

Chester Himes was a crime fiction writer whose own life story was nearly as interesting as his books. He grew up in Cleveland and attended Ohio State University. He fell afoul of the law and was convicted of armed robbery. He began writing in prison and started selling stories to the pulps then Esquire Magazine. That eventually led to an early parole. The rest is crime fiction history.

Here are two of his books featuring Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones:

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Never Smile At Children

I certainly wouldn’t smile at this kid. Her lips are sealed and so are mine.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Do It

Lake George Reflection by Georgia O’Keefe

Today is our last day under quarantine. I’m relieved that neither of us were ever symptomatic. We were damn lucky.

This week’s theme song was written by the great Motown songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1964. It was originally intended for the Supremes but wound up being recorded by Marvin Gaye. Its real title is Baby Don’t You Do It but I prefer The Band’s re-titling, Don’t Do It. Either way it’s a great song that’s been recorded oodles of times or is that scads? Beats the hell outta me.

We have five versions of Don’t Do It aka Baby Don’t You Do It for your listening pleasure.

The IT in question is “don’t you break my heart.” Here’s a Stones song that says doo doo doo doo instead of don’t:

Now that we’re all heartbroken and shit, let’s jump to the break.

Continue reading

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Thursday Turkey Murders

It’s a day for ritual as well as gluttony. I’ll be publishing both my annual Thanksgiving posts this year. I’m determined to disprove the notion that liberals hate this holiday. Scott Atlas is not invited.

This book cover makes its fourth appearance here at First Draft.

Thursday Thanksgiving Murders

What’s Thanksgiving without some lagniappe. Here are Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg mashing potatoes:

 

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Man Who Could Not Shudder

I don’t know about you but courting death at a weekend party would make me shudder. What’s wrong with this guy?

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Nice Guys

This week’s edition is inspired by my plug of my Bayou Brief column. I stumbled into the other cover while doing my research. I hope Conroy was wrong about that.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Baby In The Icebox

This is a short story collection so I’m keeping this short. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Shabby Street

I had never heard of Orrie Hitt until I saw the vintage cover of Shabby Street. He was an interesting figure known for writing socially aware books in pulp drag. He was wildly prolific; writing over 150 books using many pseudonyms.

It turns out that I’ve done this book before BUT I missed the second cover and Orrie’s story, which was a Hitt with me. There was, however, a swell gag in the earlier post.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Winds Of Fear

Hodding Carter was a distinguished journalist. He was a Southern liberal when it was dangerous to be one.

I did not know that he’d ever written a novel but sometimes you strike gold when you go down an internet rabbit hole.

Trivia Time: The author’s son Hodding Carter III was the State Department spokesman during the Carter administration.

New Orleans Trivia Time: The author was married to Betty Werlein of New Orleans. People of a certain age will remember the much loved Canal Street music store, Werlein’s. It’s now the home of The Palace Cafe.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Dirty Look Librarians

This week’s entry took me on a voyage of discovery; a minor one. Initially, I wasn’t sure if The Dirty Look Librarians was a genuine vintage cover or a parody. It’s the real deal.

Hell, I couldn’t even find a file big enough to post here until I consulted with the Pulp Librarian. That’s a fancy way of saying I stole these pictures from one of his old tweets, which is posted below the pictures. I did, however, use the teeny-tiny picture of the cover as the featured image. I like messing with my readers.

I don’t know about you but I’d never mess up their shelving.

A dirty look is worth a thousand words. I learned that from living with the Queen of Dirty Looks, Della Street.

Here’s the tweet I alluded to:

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The D.A. Breaks An Egg

Erle Stanley Gardner was a prolific author. The Perry Mason books weren’t his only series. There were also nine books featuring D.A. Doug Selby. The D.A. Breaks An Egg was the final book in that series.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Old Battle Ax

In my extended family battle ax is an affectionate term. My favorite aunt prided herself on being a battle ax and a tough broad. This post is a tribute to all the battle axes out there. Long may you run.

I just gave myself an earworm. This is a song about a car but it works: my Aunt Mary had a radar detector in her car when she was 80.

 

 

19th Nervous Breakdown

The slow news day seems to have been abolished. Hence another potpourri post in lieu of a stand-alone piece. I made the featured image after the Yo, Semite incident. It was more of a malaprop than an incident but having Yosemite Sam on my side is somehow comforting. Varmints, beware.

19 Years: It’s the 19th anniversary of a terrorist attack that led a previous lousy president to go off half-cocked and start a two-front war without paying heed to the consequences. We’re still paying for the Bush-Cheney administration’s folly.

I was on jury duty when the planes hit the twin towers. We were dismissed early and were only required to come in once more. The only good thing that came of that day.

For what it’s worth, the 19th is the bronze anniversary. To me it evokes this tune:

It may be a venerable song, but it’s still relevant. Who among us isn’t having our 19th Nervous Breakdown of the pandemic?

Trump-Woodward Followup/Fallout: When I first heard of the big COVID revelation in Rage, I was enraged. I almost wrote a post titled Bob Woodward Can Go Fuck Himself.

The more I thought about it, I focused my rage on Trump instead of Woodward. An earlier revelation would not have changed policy and saved lives. The Kaiser of Chaos was determined to fuck things up as shown by his insipid defense yesterday. Woodward’s defense was much stronger: he wasn’t sure if Trump was telling the truth. Holy credibility gap, Batman.

Joe Biden said it best in these two tweets:

A reminder that George W. Bush was a cheerleader at Yale. Sis-boom-bah. Boola-boola. Where the hell are the Whiffenpoofs when you need them? Perhaps one of them is a Whistleblower. You never can tell.

I missed something important in my D Is For Donald & Dumb post. One of the reasons Trump allowed Woodward to interview him so many times is that Woodward is a celebrity. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump said this during one of their sessions, “Why aren’t you as good-looking as Robert Redford?”

Timesman Peter Baker has written an excellent piece about why Trump agreed to talk to Woodward. It’s summed up by this song title:

It’s surprising that Trump hasn’t assembled his own version of the Palmer Girls. He should hire a lame choreographer and put Melania, Ivanka, Tiffany, Hope, and Kayleigh to work. Imagine a rewrite of another Robert Palmer hit: “Might as well face it, we’re addicted to Trump.”

Sometimes I get carried away. This is one of those times.

One of the stories that got lost in the news blizzard requires its own featured image meme thing:

Bill Barr For The Defense: The news that the Department of Justice would defend the Impeached Insult Comedian in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit against him enraged legal eagles everywhere. The DOJ is not usually in the business of defending accused rapists in civil suits. It’s part and parcel of Barr’s degradation of the DOJ. He seems determined to prove that, unlike Tom Hagen, he *is* a wartime consigliere.

The sick Trump-Barr relationship reminds me of-you guessed it-an ancient Paul Simon song about a con man:

“Everywhere I go
I get slandered, libeled
I hear words I never heard in the Bible
And I’m one step ahead of the shoeshine
Two steps away from the county line
Just trying to keep my customers satisfied”

Just substitute client for customer and Bob’s your uncle or is that Bill’s your Attorney General? I confuse the two. Maybe one of them is actually Artie:

In Memoriam:  A quick shout-out to Tom Seaver, Lou Brock, and Diana Rigg; all of whom died recently. Tom was one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. Lou was one of the greatest World Series performers ever. And Diana was my first celebrity crush when she played Emma Peel in The Avengers. They will all be missed.

I could not find a decent animated GIF of St. Louis Cardinal great Lou Brock but Tom Terrific tips his cap to him:

Ny Mets Sport GIF by New York Mets - Find & Share on GIPHY

Diana Rigg as Emma Peel closes the door on this segment:

Finally, there’s a new Springsteen album coming out next month. That allows me to go out on a positive note in a week overloaded with scandal tornadic activity. The last word goes to Bruce and the E Street Band:

That was just what I needed. Thanks, y’all. Don’t forget to hang up the goddamn phone.

D Is For Dumb & Donald

News of the new Bob Woodward book, Rage, landed like a scandal tornado yesterday. I have mixed feelings about Woodward’s withholding the fact that President* Pennywise understood the threat that the virus posed and lied about it instead. I’m uncertain if an earlier release would have changed anything BUT others have differing views including First Draft/Crack Van regular, Lex Alexander, who wrote a pithy post titled, Bob Woodward Has Blood On His Hands. He has a point but I think the focus should be on Trump’s conduct, not Woodward’s ethics.

Trump’s defense is typically preposterous. He didn’t want to cause panic? That’s rich coming from the guy I call the Kaiser of Chaos. Panic is his middle name. I want to shake him like Paul Douglas did to this small-time crook in the pandemic classic, Panic In The Streets:

Panic and pandemonium are hallmarks of the Trump regime as is stupidity. The Impeached Insult Comedian has done a lot of dumb things in his life but sitting for 18 interviews with Bob Woodward takes the cake. He somehow thought he could talk the steely Woodward into giving him good publicity:

CNN reported on Wednesday night that Trump was dead set on granting interviews with Woodward, who was working on a book about Trump titled “Rage,” to boost his image, with the President reportedly relying on his experience as a salesman to present himself in a positive light.

White House aides “repeatedly” warned Trump against speaking to the dogged reporter, a source told CNN, but as usual, the President ignored their advice and acted on his own instincts instead.

Once again, Trump’s instincts were wrong. He knew Woodward was recording him, but he babbled and bragged anyway. The presidency is not a real estate deal and, whatever his flaws, Bob Woodward is not an easy mark. Lordy, there *are* Trump tapes.

The right is flummoxed by this news. They’re blaming everyone but Dumb Donald for this latest catastrophe. My favorite is Tucker Carlson blaming Lindsey Graham:

I know who’s to blame: Donald Trump and his arrogance and stupidity. Make that tremendous stupidity. He’s too dumb to be president*. Believe me.

The last word goes to Todd Rundgren: