Mid-Twentieth Century Women Crime Writers

Recently, I came across two anthologies, A Hell of a Woman: An Anthology of Female Noir edited by Megan Abbott (2007) and Troubled Wives, Twisted Daughters: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense edited by Sarah Weinman (2013).  I’ve been a fan of Abbott’s since reading Die a Little (2005), a harkening back to crime […]

Playing at Bucknall Elementary: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

In the 1970s, the Moreland School District owned copies of two films without educational content.  The first was American Graffiti, a version unprofessionally edited to the point of unwatchability.  Our principal at Castro Junior High School, now Moreland Middle School, trotted this out each semester to reward students with acceptable grade-point averages.  I sat through […]

Cults in Comics

In Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brainwashing in China (1961), Robert Jay Lifton identifies techniques related to thought reform, once called “brainwashing,” that applies to how destructive cults inculcate their members and keep them indoctrinated: Milieu Control: the control of communication, of everything a person sees, hears, or reads. This […]

The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World by David Jaher

When he wasn’t chained and hanging from skyscrapers, or entombed deep underwater, Harry Houdini spent much time debunking criminals and fraudulent spiritualists. By the 1920s, Spiritualism had taken on religious weight both in Europe and the United States, and as with any such phenomenon, unscrupulous types stepped in to gain profit or to exploit hopeful […]

Ultra the Multi-Alien AKA The Hero of Dalesville

No superhero has received more ridicule than Ultra the Multi-Alien. Even Aquaman garnered more respect during the years when cooler fans denigrated him as the useless Justice League member who swims and talks to fish.  Jon Morris includes Ultra in his The League of Regrettable Superheroes, stating “Ultra resembles a mixed-up box of puzzle pieces.”  […]

Help! Universal Monsters Are Terrorizing My Bookshelves!

Books based on or related directly to Universal Monsters have been appearing for decades.  Many read like lighter versions of Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula, bursting with Easter eggs from other sources within the Universal library and beyond.  I’ll discuss a few to show you how writers and publishers have drawn inspiration from these classic films. […]

Power Records: The Action Comes Alive!

I can’t do audio formats. When friends went mad for Welcome to Nightvale, The Thrilling Adventure Hour, and podcasts, I hoped for print editions of these recordings so I could join the fun.  Thankfully, the forces behind Welcome to Nightvale have come through for me, publishing scripts I can read while listening to episodes. But […]

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Musicals aren’t my first choice for entertainment.  I’m more agnostic than atheist with this genre, however.  I’ve enjoyed sing-along performances of My Fair Lady played at the Retrodome, now 3Below, here in San Jose, California.  During my 1989 three-month tour of Europe, I spent a week in Salzburg, Austria, where I stayed at a hostel […]

Midge and Lenny

The first episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel contains the greatest television scene I’ve witnessed to date. Until reaching that magic moment, viewers receive introductory material about Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a well-to-do resident of the Upper West Side in New York during the late 1950s.  Her husband’s a professional, her father’s a mathematician at Columbia […]

Finding Shinganagh: An Irish Homecoming

As part of Team Journey Planet, I’ve been a Hugo finalist four times, and thus I’ve been blessed to attend Worldcons with golden tickets to the best parties, which in turn puts me in touch with those who keep expanding my knowledge of science fiction and comics.   At Worldcon 77, for example, I fell in […]