No. 5 L.A. Chargers at No. 2 New England, 1:05 p.m. ET (CBS) and No. 6 Philadelphia at No. 1 New Orleans, 4:40 p.m. ET (Fox)

As a Buffalo Bills fan, I’m all in on the LA Chargers defeating the New England Patriots today. But Vegas says the Patriots will win by at least 4 points. The weather will be cold with no blizzards in sight. Deb and her family will be rooting for the Saints to beat the surprising Philadelphia Eagles. The Saints are 8-point favorites. Let’s hope this game doesn’t come down to the kicker! Which teams do you think will win today?

No. 6 Indianapolis at No. 1 Kansas City, 4:35 p.m. ET (NBC) and No. 4 Dallas at No. 2 Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. ET (Fox)

The Kansas City Chiefs are favored by 5 and 1/2 points over the Indianapolis Colts. But, the Colts with Andrew Luck have proven to be a dangerous team. This game could go either way. I like both the Chiefs with incredible rookie QB Patrick Mahomes and the Colts with former Buffalo Bills QB Frank Reich as Head Coach. I’ll be rooting for both teams.

The LA Rams are favored by 7 points over the Dallas Cowboys. I’ve heard “experts” on ESPN make the case that the Cowboys could defeat the Rams, but I think they just drank the Kool-Aide. I’m going with the Rams in this one. Which teams will you be cheering for?


I’ve been reading a lot of retro Science Fiction recently. After Christmas, I was rooting around in my basement when I unearthed Damon Knight’s entertaining and informative Science Fiction of the Thirties. Damon Knight picked an interesting mix of stories and then wrote some brilliant introductions to the stories and the writers who composed them. I enjoyed Murray Leinster’s “The Fifth-Dimension Catapult” and “The Battery of Hate” by John W. Campbell, Jr. from The Early Years section. I was impressed by “The Last Man” by Frank Belknap Long and “The Mad Moon” by Stanley G. Weinbaum from The Middle Years. And I especially liked “Pithecanthropus Rejectus” by Manly Wade Wellman and “The Merman” by L. Sprague de Camp from The End of the Thirties. If you’re looking for a collection of somewhat dated, but still lively Science Fiction stories from a decade where SF really evolved, I recommend Damon Knight’s Science Fiction of the Thirties. GRADE: B+
“Foreword” (Damon Knight) xi
“The Early Years” (Damon Knight) 1
“Out Around Rigel” (Astounding Stories, December 1931) (Robert H. Wilson) 7
“The Fifth-Dimension Catapult” (Astounding Stories of Super-Science, January 1931) (Murray Leinster) 28
“Into the Meteorite Orbit” (Amazing Stories, December 1933) (Frank K. Kelly) 85
“The Battery of Hate” (Amazing Stories, November 1933) (John W. Campbell, Jr.). 115
“The Middle Period” (Damon Knight) 153
“The Wall” (Astounding Stories, May 1934) (Howard W. Graham) 157
“The Lost Language” (Amazing Stories, January 1934) (David H. Keller) 173
“The Last Men” (Astounding Stories, August 1934) (Frank Belknap Long, Jr.) 185
“The Other” (Astounding Stories, December 1934) (Howard W. Graham) 195
“The Mad Moon” (Astounding Stories, December 1935) (Stanley G. Weinbaum) 210
“Davey Jones’ Ambassador” (Astounding Stories, December 1935) (Raymond Z. Gallun) 234
“Alas, All Thinking” (Astounding Stories, June 1935) (Harry Bates) 269
“The Time Decelerator” (Astounding Stories, July 1936) (A. Macfadyen, Jr.) 307
“The Council of Drones” (Amazing Stories, October 1936) (William K. Sonnemann) 323
“The End” (Damon Knight) 363
“Seeker of Tomorrow” (Astounding Stories, July 1937) (Eric Frank Russell and Leslie T. Johnson) 367
“Hyperpilosity” (Astounding Science-Fiction, April 1938) (L. Sprague de Camp) 409
“Pithecanthropus Rejectus” (Astounding Stories, January 1938) (Manly Wade Wellman) 423
“The Merman” (Astounding Science-Fiction, December 1938) (L. Sprague de Camp) 435
“The Day Is Done” (Astounding Science-Fiction, May 1939) (Lester del Rey) 451
“Bibliography” 465

ALEXANDER HAMILTON By Ron Chernow (Audio Book)

This unabridged production of Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, narrated by Scott Brick, consists of 29 CDs amounting to about 36 hours of listening time. Diane and I started listening to Alexander Hamilton back in October when we learned our daughter Katie had purchased two tickets to the musical Alexander Hamilton as a thank-you gift for helping her buy her condo. Needless to say, we only reached DISC 16 before we had to catch our flight to Boston to visit Katie and her condo…and attend Alexander Hamilton.

The first 16 discs covered about the first act of Alexander Hamilton. With our trip to New Orleans, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. listening to Alexander Hamilton was sporadic. But, this week we finally finished it. Ron Chernow wrote a masterful biography of Hamilton. Sure, the man had flaws and weaknesses. But, Hamilton also possessed a drive and genius that helped establish the country we enjoy today. The Kelley household was a grim and quiet place when narrator Scott Brick related the circumstances of the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. A senseless killing left Eliza Hamilton without her husband and their seven children without their father. And, the United States owes a huge debt of thankfulness to the man who helped write The Federalist and set up our financial system. Do you listen to audio books? GRADE: A


For most of the 20th Century, John O’Hara was considered one of the best short story writers in the world. O’Hara tried his hand at novels, with mixed results. His first novel, Appointment in Samarra (1934), a story of destiny and tragedy, remains one of O’Hara’s most popular books. Butterfield 8 (1935) explores the speakeasy world of a hedonistic Manhattan. Gloria Wandrous, based on a woman O’Hara knew, lives in a world of alcohol and sex. In 1960, a greatly “modified” version of Butterfield 8 earned Elizabeth Taylor her first Academy Award,

Hope of Heaven (1938) is set in Los Angeles and centers around a relationship between Peggy Henderson, a young leftist woman working at a bookstore, and Jim Malloy, a world-weary screenwriter. struggling to make it in Hollywood. In Pal Joey (1940), a novel in the form of fourteen interconnected stories, O’Hara’s mastery of the short story comes into play to create one of his most powerful works. This novel was also the basis for the Rodgers & Hart musical. These four novels, flaws and all, are worth reading. Are you a John O’Hara fan? GRADE: B+


It took us a while to catch up with Ralph Breaks the Internet but with the Holidays over and the kids back to school, Diane and I enjoyed what amounted to a Private Screening when we attended a matinee showing. We liked the 2012 Wreck-It Ralph animated movie featuring 1980s arcade games with their wacky characters. Director and co-writer Rich Moore cleverly created Ralph (John C. Reilly) a “Bad Guy” in a video game who was actually a pretty good guy outside his game. In this sequel, Ralph is happy with his life, but his best friend, racer Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), is bored by her Candy Rush game. When their arcade gets a WI-FI connection, Ralph and Vanellope discover the Internet.

Unlike Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph Breaks the Internet doesn’t really have a villain. Most of the mischief is caused by Ralph himself as he tries not to lose his best friend to a Grand Theft Auto clone game called Slaughter Race featuring the beautiful and skillful Shank (Gal Gadot). For a kids movie, Ralph Breaks the Internet deals with the risks of online shopping, pop-up ads, viruses, and the Dark Web in a surprisingly sophisticated fashion. There’s a lot going on in this movie. Most of it is fun. GRADE: A-


The Government might be shut down, but this blog is open and available. The New York Times reported that while the United States is only 5% of the world’s population, we consume 30% of the world’s narcotics. That statistic goes a long way to explaining the number of accidents, car crashes, shootings, thefts, and mayhem of 2018. And then, there’s Trump and his minions.

Amid all this chaos, the intelligence and wit of Patti, Jeff, Deb, Rick, Beth, Todd, Art, Bill, Maggie, Bob, Prashant, Sergio, Carl, Lauren, Steve, Jerry, Wolf, Stan, Dan, Michael, Elgin, Scott, Jim, John, Randy, James, Kent, and Mathew as well as all of you who make this blog a part of your day brought hope and sanity in these times of darkness and strife. So I want to say thank you.

Thank you very much.

Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore (1:05 p.m., CBS) and Philadelphia at Chicago (4:40 p.m., NBC)

Two more intriguing matchups complete Wild Card Weekend. In the first game, the LA Chargers take on the surprising Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are favored by 2 1/2 points. Rookie QB Lamar Jackson offers new offensive dimensions to the Ravens’ scoring abilities. But, will it be enough to defeat the wily old veteran QB, Philip Rivers? Reigning Super Bowl Champs, the Philadelphia Eagles, take on the menacing Chicago Bears. Can Nick Foles do it again? Vegas doesn’t think so: the Bears are favored by 6 points. I’m picking the Ravens and the Bears. Who do you think will win these games?

No. 6 Indianapolis at No. 3 Houston, 4:35 p.m. ET (ESPN/ABC) and No. 5 Seattle at No. 4 Dallas, 8:15 p.m. ET (Fox)

I always enjoy Wild Card Weekend when the competition is fierce and the talent level is balanced. In the first game, the Houston Texans are favored by 1 point. But, I think the Indianapolis Colts will win. In the second game, the Dallas Cowboys are favored by 2 points. I’m picking the Seahawks. Which teams do you think will win?


Ron Goulart’s The Dime Detectives: A Comprehensive History of the Detective Fiction Pulps has been on my shelves since it was published in 1988. I’ve read Goulart’s excellent Cheap Thrills: An Informal History of the Pulp Magazines. The Dime Detectives focuses on pulp magazines like Black Mask, Detective Fiction Weekly, Crimebusters, Thrilling Detectives, Dime Detective, and Spicy Detective from their formation in the 1920s, to their popularity in the 1930s, to their decline in the 1940s, to their demise in the 1950s. Goulart discusses some of the great pulp writers of those decades: Dashiell Hammett, Robert Leslie Bellem, Carroll John Daly, Raymond Chandler, Erle Stanley Gardner, Hank Searls, John D. MacDonald, John Jakes, and many others. If you’re a fan of pulp detective fiction, you’ll love The Dime Detectives. GRADE: A
Chapter 1: The Dime Detectives 1
Chapter 2: Nick Carter Strikes Again 11
Chapter 3: The Black Mask School 21
Chapter 4: “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” 51
Chapter 5: The Hard-Boiled Decade 74
Chapter 6: The New Wild West 96
Chapter 7: Dan Turner and the Spicy Gang 120
Chapter 8: Dangerous Dames 135
Chapter 9: Gentlemen of the Press 149
Chapter 10: The Phantom Detectives 167
Chapter 11: Screwballs, Oddballs, Etc. 186
Chapter 12: A Hearse of a Different Killer 205
Chapter 13: Dead and Done For 231
Bibliography 239
Index 247