Friday, December 21, 2007

Ancient Rome in So Many Words

I've been meaning to blog this for awhile now, and with the holidays approaching (and, presumably, book store gift cards), this seems like a good time to mention it. Just the other month, Hippocrene Books published my friend Chris' book, Ancient Rome in So Many Words, which explores several facets of Roman culture by examining the many distinctive and often unusual Latin words associated with them. I was fortunate enough to have read this in manuscript and am pretty certain that it will appeal not only to classicists but also to casual readers who have an interest in Ancient Rome and the Latin language.

Chris Francese is an associate professor of classics at Dickinson College. I've mentioned him before in this blog in order to spotlight his series of Latin poetry podcasts.

Note: Those of you who know me and have time on your hands can search inside the book at Amazon for my name.

Monday, December 03, 2007


A YouTube member by the name of vidlad has been posting some eerily realistic animations of famous poets reciting their works. The one above is particularly striking.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

“Le Péril Vert” Published in The Willows

My short story, “Le Péril Vert”, about an artist’s increasingly disturbing absinthe binges, has been published in the November issue of The Willows magazine. This magazine, named after an Algernon Blackwood story, first appeared last May and is dedicated to “assembling the finest in classic-style weird fiction.”* Now, I haven’t yet read the issue in which my story is appearing, but I have read the magazine’s first issue and was very impressed. Several of its stories were reminiscent of very early Weird Tales pieces, such as “Fool’s Gold” by Cheryl Nantus, and there was also a nod to Victorian science fiction, “The Incident at the 27th Meeting” by Chris Paul, and even a sort of Nathaniel Hawthorne pastiche, “Mercy Hathaway Is a Witch” by Ken Goldman. My story aside, this is definitely a publication the readers of this blog should look into.

* From the cover of the May 2007 issue.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Harlan Ellison on Doctor Who

In the back of an old Pinnacle paperback, I found this introduction to its then upcoming Doctor Who books--

"They could not have been more offended, confused, enraged and startled. . . . There was a moment of stunned silence . . . and then an eruption of angry voices from all over the fifteen-hundred-person audience. The kids in their Luke Skywalker pajamas (cobbled up from older brother's castoff karate gi) and the retarded adults spot-welded into their Darth Vader fright-masks howled with fury. But I stood my ground, there on the lecture platform of the World Science Fiction Convention, and I repeated the words that had sent them into animal hysterics:

'Star Wars is adolescent nonsense; Close Encounters is obscurantist drivel; 'Star Trek' can turn your brains to purée of bat guano; and the greatest science fiction series of all time is 'Doctor Who!' And I'll take you all on, one-by-one or in a bunch to back it up!'"

--Harlan Ellison 1979

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"The Hounds of Tindalos"

Here is another short video for this Halloween, based upon Frank Belknap Long’s famous short story “The Hounds of Tindalos”. The story, first published in Weird Tales in 1929, is significant not only for its quality but for being the first to actually add an entity to H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. Though they had met before through their amateur press connections, Lovecraft and Long became close friends while Lovecraft was living in New York, and Long was a founding member of the Kalem Club, which was the literary circle Lovecraft cultivated during his brief exile from Providence. “The Hounds of Tindalos” is Long’s most famous supernatural tale, and I very much wanted to provide a scan of it. However, it is still under copyright, so I’ve decided to post this video instead.

In the original story, which can still be obtained here, a writer and expert on the occult summons his friend to his apartment in order to take notes for an experiment. The experiment involves ingesting a drug in order to psychically travel through the fourth dimension in order to witness both the beginning and end of time. Needless to say, something goes wrong, the writer is observed, and after being awakened by his friend, the man is pursued by the “hounds” of the title. These can only enter our dimension through the angled intersections of surfaces, but not through curves. The writer’s only hope lies in using papier-mâché to round out the corners of his flat before the hounds can enter.

The animated version is a sort of sequel to the original, in that it presents an investigation into the tragic results of the above experiment and then perpetuates them.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

“Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad.” – Pt. II

It appears Halloween is creeping up on me again, and it’s high time I posted some seasonal goodies. Last year, I wrote a post about a story many consider to be the greatest ghost tale ever written, M.R. James’ “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad”. The other evening I was lucky enough to stumble across the above adaptation of the story, which first aired on the British TV show, Omnibus, in 1968. Though it’s a bit slow getting started, when the crisis comes about midway through, it is truly disorienting and frightening. This is one of the best film adaptations of James I’ve seen (and I’ve seen Night of the Demon more times than I can count).

Note: Due to the size of the AVI file, it may be better to simply go to the site and download it, rather than dealing with an excessive amount of buffering.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dial P for Pulp

I had the chance to check out the first episode of David Drage's new Dial P for Pulp podcast the other night and would like to recommend it to other fans of the genre. The show consists of a review of the book, Hard Boiled Cthulhu, an interview with illustrator, Tom Roberts, and a reading of the first part of Robert E. Howard's "Red Shadows". The review alone was well worth my time, since it saved me from actually purchasing the book (seriously how can you compile a "hard-boiled" mythos anthology without including Kim Newman's [a.k.a. Jack Yeovil] "The Big Fish"?).

I would also like to remind everyone about Scott Monty and Burt Wolder's I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere podcast, which has lately really hit its stride.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Bicarbonate Johnny

That's right, he's called "Bicarbonate Johnny", and he doesn't let a little dyspepsia keep him from discovering the mystery of the "Claw of the Kidnapped Idol". While not as physically challenged as other "defective detectives" (a sub-sub-genre of pulp mystery fiction); such as Inspector Allhoff, the double amputee, or Calvin Kane, The "Crab" detective; Johnny does have to frequently resort to chewing soda mints to keep his heartburn at bay, occasionally burping "impatiently" and "succinctly" despite these antacids.

Thanks to the Pulpgen site for digitizing this mystery by Marcus Lyons (a.k.a. James Blish) from Crack Detective Stories (Dec. 1947). While it's far from being top-notch detective fiction, it's esoteric value is phenomenal.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Green Hornet

I’m not sure how I managed to overlook this for so long, but there’s been a 10-minute French (?) Green Hornet (Le Frelon Vert—still quite catchy) fan flick available at this site for almost a year. It’s very well produced, if a little Kung-Fu intensive, but I guess that’s forgivable given Bruce Lee’s turn in the classic TV series. They even manage to do a decent job with the theme music (though nothing beats the original). The movie is available in both QuickTime and DivX formats, and there is a “making of” special (in French) available at the site, as well. For purists, episodes of the original radio series are still available at the OTR.Net site.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Manly Wade Wellman

In its new summer/fall issue, the Oregon Literary Review is featuring a new column on genre fiction and has fittingly chosen to showcase the career and work of pulp author, Manly Wade Wellman. The column, edited and introduced by Jeremiah Rickert, contains a biography, a brief story about how Wellman managed to win the first Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine award over William Faulkner, some interviews and an essay, and finally two of Wellman's stories. One of the stories is from a series of space operas set in the 30th century. It's quite good, but it's the other story I would particularly recommend: "Oh Ugly Bird", the first of the John the Balladeer tales.

The story, which first appeared in the Dec. 1951 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine, introduces a character who is, to the best of my knowledge, utterly unique in the history of pulp fiction (or any type of fiction, for that matter) in a series that blends elements of fantasy, horror, science fiction, and folk songs. John, who Wellman said looks like a young Johnny Cash, roams the hills of North Carolina with little more than his silver-stringed guitar, encountering a variety of witches, monsters, and hoodoo men. While this brief description makes the stories sound a little absurd, Wellman, by drawing on his immense knowledge of folklore and music, manages to do nothing less than craft an entirely new brand of American folk tale out of genre fiction conventions.

I cannot recommend these stories enough, and Baen Books has graciously made their collection of them available as a free ebook. And, while I'm mentioning online resources, I don't want to forget to mention Daniel Alan Ross' brilliant Wellman site, The Voice of the Mountains.

Monday, July 16, 2007


I thought that perhaps it was time for another musical interlude.

(Also, for the record (pun intended), like most Americans, I have no interest in European football, and am posting this merely as a ska fan who happens to own an identical pressing of this single and liked the concept of this video.)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

"The Shadow Knows"

On July 4th, the Dial B for Burbank site finished its epic, online "The Shadow Knows" documentary, and it is absolutely spectacular. This 10-chapter, 2-hour Quicktime movie traces the character's entire history in print, radio, and film and pays tribute to Walter B. Gibson (a.k.a. Maxwell Grant) and all of the other artists involved in the Shadow's creation and evolution. In addition to its professional presentation, the video and audio quality are excellent, and it can be downloaded chapter-by-chapter or as one large 587 MB file.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

"Teneo hic chartulas nonnullas . . . quae, puto, etiam tua intersint" (GLOR)

I mentioned in an earlier post that it's a rare thing when my interest in classics intersects with my interest in horror and mystery fiction, and I've recently found found another one of these fantastic intersections: Sherlock Holmes stories translated into Latin! Ephemeris, the online, daily Latin news site, has so far translated 3 stories from the Adventures and Memoirs:

"Proxenetae funtionarius" ("A Case of Identity")
"Fulmen argenteum" ("Silver Blaze")
"Facies lutea" ("The Yellow Face")
"The Gloria Scott"

Hopefully, they will post even more in the future.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to point out that Scott Monty of the Baker Street Blog (he's been involved in a lot of brilliant things, lately) and Burt Wolder have recently undertaken a series of Sherlockian podcasts at I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere. They haven't yet recorded their official premier episode, but they have recorded a nice introductory piece which introduces listeners to the medium. This episode also features a couple of treats that will be familiar to readers of the Baker Street Journal, a short "My First Meeting with Sherlock Holmes" segment and a reading of Edgar W. Smith's famous editorial, "The Implicit Holmes". This will definitely be worth following.

Monday, May 21, 2007

"The Adventure of the Second Round" - A New Sherlock Holmes Mystery

Since Scott Monty of the Baker Street Blog was kind enough to offer to link to it, I have decided to make my Sherlock Holmes story, “The Adventure of the Second Round”, freely available online. It is a very traditional Sherlock Holmes pastiche (I even went so far as to reread several stories and parse sentences in order to get as close to the syntax of the originals as possible) and is set very late in Holmes’ career, just before Watson's last marriage and Holmes' subsequent retirement. Once again, Holmes and Watson find themselves "moving in high life" after they are called in by the Yard to help solve a murder in Kensington. Here is a link to the story:

The Adventure of the Second Round

Some of you, who are aware of this story’s circumstances may be a little surprised that I’ve decided to go this route, so I would like to briefly explain myself. I actually wrote the story in May of 2005 and submitted it to Marvin Kaye (the editor of The Game's Afoot) for his forthcoming magazine, called Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, that was to be published by Wildside Press. Kaye said he would be interested in publishing my story and would be able to buy it as soon as the magazine began publishing. Unfortunately, that was two years ago, and the first issue has yet to appear. Now, I have nothing but good things to say about Kaye, who is extremely approachable and great fun to correspond with, and Wildside, which publishes some absolutely brilliant magazines and reprints, but the future of SHMM just looks entirely too dubious at this point for me to wait. Since there are so very few markets for stories such as this one (not even the Baker Street Journal publishes them anymore) and those that do exist are utterly uninterested in new authors, and since, as a librarian, I'm acutely aware that subscription-based printed magazines are quickly disappearing, I have been trying to figure out some simple, online alternatives. While such venues may not yet have the same aura of respectability as print, they have the potential for reaching more readers more quickly.

That is why I have I decided to experiment with this manner of publishing. I probably would not have had the guts to do it were it not for the support of Scott, who already has quite a large group of dedicated readers, and if any of you do make your way here and read the story, please leave a comment. Of course, this goes without saying for my friends who are already aware of this blog.

Thanks in advance for taking a look and letting me know what you think. And thanks to Chris Fowler for all the help with the writing and proofing of this story.

Update: The story has finally been published in issue 5 of Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Baker Street Blog

Scott Monty's Baker Street Blog is up for a Blogger's Choice Award in the "Best Hobby Blog" category, and I would like to encourage anyone who's interested in Sherlock Holmes to check out his site and give him your vote. Since it's inception, I've frequented this blog and subscribed to its feed not just for news pertaining to the Sherlockian world but also to keep up with the open source web applications he so frequently utilizes (he's actually scooped TechCrunch on more than a few occasions). To learn more about voting just examine this post.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Series Three

According to the Sci Fi Channel, Series Three will begin airing in the US on July 6 at 9 pm with last December's Xmas special, "The Runaway Bride".

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"Come Take a Trip in My Air Ship"

Come, take a trip in my air ship,
Come, take a sail 'mong the stars,
Come, have a ride around Venus,
Come, have a spin around Mars.

No one to watch while we're kissing,
No one to see while we spoon.
Come, take a trip in my air ship,
And we'll visit the man in the moon.

I thought that perhaps it was time for a musical number.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Holmes on Film (Again)

According to Variety, Warner Bros. has just announced its intention to make another Sherlock Holmes movie with Neil Marshall slated to direct and Michael Johnson to write the screenplay. As for the plot, all anyone knows is that it is to be based on Michael Wigram's forthcoming comic book, Sherlock Holmes and that it will concentrate more on Holmes' potential as an action hero:

Wigram's vision has Holmes losing some of his Victorian stuffiness and being more adventuresome, including playing up his skills as a bare-knuckle boxer and expert swordsman as he goes about solving crimes.

If the film can do this without cheapening its protagonist, it should be most welcome by Sherlock Holmes fans, who haven't seen Holmes on the big screen since Christopher Plummer's turn in Murder by Decree (1979) or, to a lesser extent, Nicholas Rowe's in Young Sherlock Holmes (1985).

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave

I just re-watched this after finding a $2 copy on VHS--fantastic! All the same, Peter Cushing could've made it better.

Later the same evening, I gathered a group together to watch the Ramones in Rock 'n' Roll High School. A good time was had by all.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Val Lewton

A couple of weeks ago, I came home from an eye exam and, since I was still dilated and couldn’t read, decided to watch a movie instead. I was actually lucky enough to catch The Ghost Ship on TCM, a Val Lewton flick from the forties, which was once thought “lost”. Though the horrific aspects of the film were solely psychological and based on the derangement of an aging sea captain, it was still pure Lewton (there’s even a scene where the captain begins hearing voices before going on a homicidal rampage). I naturally wanted to re-watch some more of his films, but so far, I’ve only had time for Cat People (I Walked with a Zombie still remains cued up on the VCR). As I sat watching Cat People for the umpteenth time, it seemed so atmospherically and thematically similar to the Weird Tales magazines of the late thirties and early forties and reminded me that I had seen Lewton’s name in one my Weird Tales anthologies. I rummaged about my shelves and, sure enough, there’s a story of his called “The Bagheeta” in Marvin Kaye’s Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies (Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday Book & Music Clubs, 1988). The story appeared in the July 1930 issue and is a lovely folktale about a young man hunting a panther that has the ability to turn into a woman, seducing and killing her hunters. For those who have seen Cat People or The Curse of the Cat People this should sound somewhat familiar, but please, feel free to judge for yourself. The Val Lewton Screenplay Collection contains both the screenplay of Cat People and the “The Bagheeta”, as well as the screenplays of all the other Lewton films. It even has the American Weekly article that inspired I Walked with a Zombie. Strangely enough, though Lewton wrote several novels and a good deal of journalism, “The Bagheeta” is the only short story of his that I have been able to find so far.