FORGOTTEN BOOKS #439: WEEP FOR A BLONDE By Brett Halliday


Weeep for a Blonde is the 27th Mike Shayne mystery. It was published in 1957. The DELL paperback version on the right was published in 1964 with a Robert McGinnis cover. Mike Shayne, a red-headed private investigator based in Miami, stumbles into a case where a beautiful blonde wife is being physically abused by her wealthy husband. When the blonde is murdered, Mike Shayne becomes the Prime Suspect.

I read Mike Shayne DELL paperbacks in the early 1960s. The McGinnis covers had a lot to do with that. But Mike Shayne was the first private eye character I read about. Later, I graduated to Mike Hammer, Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, and Lew Archer. But Mike Shayne was first. Do you have a favorite Mike Shayne novel?

FORGOTTEN MUSIC #75: BLONDE ON BLONDE By Bob Dylan


Bob Dylan released Blonde on Blonde in 1966. It was one of the first double albums in rock history. Two singles came from Blonde on Blonde: “Rainy Dad Women #12 & 35” and “I Want You.” Most of the songs on the albums were recorded in Nashville. Two of my favorite Bob Dylan songs are on Blonde on Blande: “Visions of Johanna” and “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.” Blonde on Blonde completes a trilogy of albums from 1965 and 1966: Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde On Blonde. Dylan’s later albums wouldn’t have the energy and vibe of these three classics. What is your favorite Bob Dylan song? GRADE: A
VINYL RECORD TRACK LIST:
Side one
No. Title Length
1. “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” 4:36
2. “Pledging My Time” 3:50
3. “Visions of Johanna” 7:33
4. “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)” 4:54
Side two
No. Title Length
1. “I Want You” 3:07
2. “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” 7:05
3. “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” 3:58
4. “Just Like a Woman” 4:52
Side three
No. Title Length
1. “Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine” 3:30
2. “Temporary Like Achilles” 5:02
3. “Absolutely Sweet Marie” 4:57
4. “4th Time Around” 4:35
5. “Obviously 5 Believers” 3:35
Side four
No. Title Length
1. “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” 11:23

BLONDE By Joyce Carol Oates


Joyce Carol Oates published Blonde, a fictional biography of Marilyn Monroe, in 2000. It was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. In 2001, CBS broadcast a mini-series based closely on Oates’s novel. The major difference between the mini-series and the novel was the notion that Joyce Carol Oates explores in detail that Marilyn Monroe was assassinated was left out of the TV version of Blonde.

Joyce Carol Oates started out writing a novella about Marilyn Monroe, but Oates realized around page 175 there was a lot more story to tell. Blonde is a quirky book. Oates deals with most of Marilyn Monroe’s love affairs. She refers to Marilyn’s husbands by using initials. If you read this 700 page tome, you’ll learn what a tortured life Marilyn Monroe led. Some blondes don’t have more fun. Do you have a favorite work–short story or novel–by Joyce Carol Oates? GRADE: B+

GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES [DVD]


My favorite part of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) is the floor show number where Marilyn Monroe, pretty in pink, sings “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” Decades later, Madonna would pay homage to this classic scene in her “Material Girl” music video. Not only does Marilyn Monroe look fabulous in this film, but Jane Russell more than holds her own with her singing and dancing.

Marilyn and Jane are best friends. Marilyn is obsessed with money. She has the son of a multi-millionaire interested in marrying her, but his father is balking. Jane likes tall, handsome men regardless of their financial status. While on a cruise ship to Europe, Jane flirts with the American Olympic Team. There’s a silly subplot about a diamond tiara and some hijinks about recovering some damning photographs of Marilyn with a conniving old man. All in all, Gentleman Prefer Blondes delivers frothy fun. What’s your favorite Marilyn Monroe movie? GRADE: A-

DIRTY BLONDE By Lisa Scottoline


Welcome to Blonde Week! This week the posts will follow a Blonde Theme. Let’s get started with Lisa Scottoline’s novel from 2006, Dirty Blonde. Cate Fante, a successful lawyer, becomes a Federal Judge. Despite her skills as a lawyer, Cate has a Deep Dark Secret: she randomly picks up men and has sex with them.

When Cate’s first case as a Federal Judge results in a murder, she finds herself stalked, her house is broken into, and her Federal Office is ransacked. Scottoline shows that becoming a Federal Judge can bring some serious consequences and threats. I liked Cate Fante’s style in Court and wish there were more of those scenes. There’s also a subplot with Cate’s closest friend, Gina, whose young son has problems. Do you have a favorite Lisa Scottoline mystery? GRADE: B+

THE DEFENDERS [Netflix]


Some people call The Defenders a “low-rent” version of Marvel’s The Avengers. In the run-up to The Avengers movie, Marvel carefully launched movies about Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. In the run-up to The Defenders series, Marvel launched Daredevil (starring Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (played by Krysten Alyce Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) on Netflix.

Now, these four characters are brought together to fight The Hand, a secret organization led by five Immortals with Sigourney Weaver plotting to destroy New York City! Of course, these four super-heroes have plenty of problems and getting them to work together takes four of the eight episodes. But, when Jones, Cage, Iron Fist, and Daredevil finally start working as a team, there’s plenty of action.

Yes, The Defenders don’t have the fire-power of The Avengers, but I found this Netflix series entertaining and compelling. How about you? Are you a fan of The Defenders? GRADE: B+

WIND RIVER


Jeremy Renner pretty much carries Wind River playing a U. S. Fish and Wildlife tracker who agrees to work with Elizabeth Olsen, an FBI agent, investigating a death on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Elizabeth Olsen has the thankless role of a “city” FBI agent assigned to this case because she was closest geographically. Olsen’s character is a young, naive woman who is a fish out of water in the Wyoming wilderness.

Much of this movie consists of emotive dialogue between two characters. Then, all hell breaks loose. This pattern is repeated several times. Life on the Reservation is portrayed as hellish. The crime mixes brutality and courage. Women characters don’t fare well, but many of the male characters end up dead. GRADE: B-

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #438: SPACE OPERA Edited by Brian Aldiss


I had other plans for today’s FFB, but with the recent death of Brian Aldiss, I thought I’d pay homage to one of great Science Fiction writers by featuring one of my favorite SF anthologies, Space Opera (1974). Aldiss wrote eloquently about Science Fiction in his Trillion Year Spree, but I think the memory of Brian Aldiss is best served by this quirky collection of Space Opera stories with Aldiss’s brilliant “Introduction.” My first Brian Aldiss story was half of an ACE Double titled Bow Down to Nul back in the 1960s. I thought Bow Down to Nul was somehow connected to A. E. Van Vogt’s World of Null-A (another half of an ACE Double I’d recently read). Wrong! What is your favorite Brian Aldiss work? GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
“Introduction” (Brian W. Aldiss)
“Is Everything an Illusion?” (Brian W. Aldiss)
“Zirn Left Unguarded, the Jenghik Palace in Flames, Jon Westerley Dead” (1972) (Robert Sheckley)
“Honeymoon in Space” (excerpt from A Honeymoon in Space) (1968) (George Griffith)
“The Red Brain” (1927) (Donald Wandrei) (appeared in Futura edition only)
“Tonight the Sky Will Fall” (1952) (Daniel F. Galouye)
“Precipices of Light That Went Forever Up ….” (Brian W. Aldiss)
“The Star of Life” (excerpt) (1947) (Edmond Hamilton)
“After Ixmal” (1962) (Jeff Sutton)
“Sea Change” (1956) (Thomas N. Scortia)
“Exile Is Our Lot” (Brian W. Aldiss)
“Breaking Point” (1953) (James E. Gunn) (appeared in Futura edition only)
“Colony” (1953) (Philip K. Dick) (did not appear in Futura edition)
The Sword of Rhiannon (excerpt) (1949) (Leigh Brackett)
“All Summer in a Day” (1954) (Ray Bradbury)
“The Mitr” (1953) (Jack Vance)
“The Godlike Machines” (Brian W. Aldiss)
“The Storm” (1943) (A. E. van Vogt)
“The Paradox Men” (1949) (Charles Harness)
“Time Fuze” (1954) (Randall Garrett)
“The Last Question” (1956) (Isaac Asimov)
“Answer” (1954) (Fredric Brown) (appeared in Futura edition only)
“Envoi” (Brian W. Aldiss)

DAY BREAKS By Norah Jones


Like most listeners, I was blown away by Norah Jones’s first CD, Come Away With Me, back in 2002. Great voice, great songs! I liked the second Nora Jones CD, Feels Like Home (2004), but not quite as much. Where the first CD had strong songs, on Feels Like Home, Norah Jones and her band wrote most of the material. Not so good. Then, Norah shifted gears, stopped singing the jazzy songs and went “mainstream” with her next few albums. I listened to them once and gave them away to whoever would take them off my hands.

Now, Day Breaks, Norah Jones’s new CD, goes back to the sound and style of Come Away With Me. Yes, most of the songs are written by Norah Jones and her band but they are better songs (still not great). If you’re looking for some pleasant background music, Day Break is your answer. If you buy the TARGET exclusive version (which I did) you get four more songs. GRADE: B

TRACK LIST:
1. “Burn” Norah Jones, Sarah Oda 4:38
2. “Tragedy” Jones, Oda 4:14
3. “Flipside” Jones, Peter Remm 3:41
4. “It’s a Wonderful Time for Love” Jones, Oda 3:53
5. “And Then There Was You” Jones, Remm 3:05
6. “Don’t Be Denied” Neil Young 5:36
7. “Day Breaks” Jones, Remm 3:57
8. “Peace” Horace Silver 5:15
9. “Once I Had a Laugh” Jones 3:12
10. “Sleeping Wild” Oda 3:07
11. “Carry On” Jones 2:48
12. “Fleurette Africaine (African Flower)” Duke Ellington 5:21
BONUS TRACKS:
13 “Carry On” (Live Performance From the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, VT) 2:37
14 “Flipside” (Live at Newport Jazz Festival) 4:39
15 “Peace” (Live at Newport Jazz Festival) 4:12
16. “Don’t Know Why” (Live at Newport Jazz Festival) 3:36

NEW APPLE iMAC COMPUTER


About two months ago, my DELL desktop computer died. I spent the next week or so trying to bring it back to life. I failed. Patrick recommended that I replace the old DELL with a new APPLE iMac desktop computer.

I’ve rarely used APPLE products. No iPhone, no iPod. Diane and I use the iPad Patrick gave us mostly to read ebooks. So I had a little trepidation switching from a WINDOWS computer (all the computers at the College I used to work for were WINDOWS computers, DELLS or HPs). My last three computers at home were DELLs.

So far, I love my new APPLE iMac. Love the 27-inch screen! Love the speed and ease of use. Yes, there’s still some quirky things that vary from the ways things work in WINDOWS, but I’ll master them. Patrick ordered the new APPLE iMac. Katie–who was home for a friend’s baby shower–installed the new computer. It’s great to have tech-savvy kids! Are you a fan of APPLE?