Monday, November 14, 2016

188

I weighed myself this morning and I was 188 pounds. A few days ago I was 190 and I vowed to get below 190 before my birthday. I didn't expect it to happen right away, but I'm delighted. See, I was always a slender kid (as in skinny) and a slim young man. In middle age I started gaining weight, probably because my job didn't involve a lot of physical activity anymore, and a bad back kept me from doing anything strenuous.

At one point I recorded a peak of 228 pounds--way too fat for my bone structure.  I chipped away at that: 215 for some years, 203, 195 for a long time, 193, and now 188. Ideally I'd like to hit 180. And if I could reach 175 it would be better than ideal. We'll see.



                               That's me on the left as a senior in high school. all 145 pounds of me.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Ed Gorman

     As many of you know, Ed Gorman succumbed to cancer recently after a long and difficult struggle. His generosity, wisdom, and talent are all first rate and he leaves a gap that won't be filled.

     Patti Nase Abbott has asked people to share some stories about Ed on their blogs, or hers, for Ed Gorman Day on November 2, which would have been his 75th birthday. Where I live there is still an hour left on the second so I'll do my usual last-minute job and tell you a few things about Ed and me.

     Like so many of his friends, I never met Ed in person. He didn't go to conventions even though I encouraged him to. No, that's not for me, he would say. That's a pity, because an hour hearing him talk to a good interviewer would have been better than just about any panel you can think of. Ed was very forthcoming about his wild juvie years and his alcoholism, both of which he left behind. Whether they helped inform the person he became or if he was that person all along, I cannot say. I would guess the latter.

     Ed was a huge, underappreciated talent. Whether it was a mystery, Western, thriller, or horror novel, he always managed to assign great humanity to his characters, even the lowest of them. When he'd write on his blog it was easy to see the goodness in him, and I always envied his strength of character.

     When I was publishing Mystery & Detective Monthly from 1984-2003, Ed was a staunch supporter. He wrote a column for me every so often lauding a writer from the past. After reading one of them I called Ed and mentioned it. He praised the writer profusely. "Great," I said, "but what's his name?" Ed wrote the entire piece without naming the man. He was taken aback at first but we had a good laugh about it.
     When Ed had the idea to start Mystery Scene he asked me to mail the sample issues with MDM. They were only four pages so I said sure, but if they send me over my postage limit I'd like to be reimbursed. He agreed. We're talking very few dollars here and in retrospect I wish I hadn't taken any of it. When Mystery Scene became a full fledged magazine Ed comped me a subscription, and for years after he gave it up I still got issues. I sent him MDM in return.
     Ed instituted The American Mystery Award and in 1988 I got one for Best Fanzine. Unfortunately, some bad things were happening in my life including not being informed that I'd won. I was less than gracious in my remarks in that month's MDM and I got a stern letter from Ed's co-editor, Bob Randisi, telling me where to go. He was right.
     I called Ed to grovel and offer my apologies and explain why I was in such an awful state ("It was a woman..."), but Ed just brushed it off. Years later, when I told him I was reading Westerns, he sent me a box of his.
     I wish everyone could be that forgiving and magnanimous.
     A lot of people credit Ed with helping them become published authors. I don't know for sure, but I may be in that lot. I know he asked me to write an article about mystery fanzines for The Art of Murder, but I don't know if he had anything to do with Five Star Press publishing my books. I like to think he did because his approval would mean a lot to me.

    Good-bye, Ed. You were unique.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Look Who's 27

It hardly seems like it's been 27 years since Stephanie entered the world and my life, but the calendar doesn't lie.

Happy birthday, Steph. Lots of love.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Such a Deal

A few days ago I won an eBay auction with a bid of one penny. I'm amazed no one else bid on this item. I know what you're thinking, they made up for it with an outrageous postage fee. No, not really. The item is coming from Canada and I knew it would be higher than our domestic rate, but not by too much. I was given a choice of five different classes of mail from a low of $16.65 to a high of $107. I chose the low. So I paid a total of $16.66 for an item that recently sold for over $30 on an earlier auction.

The item in question is a small plastic shelf made by Bachmann, who made the Birds of the World model kits in 1959-60. I have all of the bird kits and thought it would be nice to have the official shelf for them. Since there are 22 birds and room for only three, maybe four, on the shelf, it doesn't solve all of my display problems, but on its own it's a nice piece to have.

Pictured at right is the parakeet kit in blue. They also provided paint to make it in green. I've done both. The kits are really neat. They're life size and very realistically rendered. When I was in the sixth grade and some of our relatives visited, my cousin Georgie and I each built and painted a bird. A goldfinch for me; a scarlet tanager for him. The kits make a nice link to the past.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

            I broke down and saw The Magnificent Seven. It's a very good shoot-'em-up, blazing action, powder-burning Western and I enjoyed it, but there were things that bothered me at the same time.
            Case in point: In the first scene a group of citizens meet in a church to wonder what can be done about the ruthless businessman who has taken over their town and land. Among the group is the female lead of the movie, a lovely young woman who's wearing a scoop-necked dress. She's a farmer's wife and sports a peaches-and-cream complexion. Now, you know me. I'm not one to complain about a nice display of creamy cleavage or a pretty face, but come on. A farmer's wife?
            Point two: We meet our star, a black bounty hunter, who walks into a saloon looking for a man with a price on his head. WARNING. It's the barkeep. END OF WARNING  After some banter and tension a shootout occurs. The bounty hunter kills the shotgun-toting bouncer, the bartender, and one other man. He fires five shots. Then he gives a mean look to the 50 or so people in the bar and they stampede for the batwings.
            Number one, the minute a black guy walked into a whites only bar in those days he was either killed or beaten up and thrown out. Hell, it would have happened in 1959 in some places , never mind 1879. So that was bogus. Then, the patrons bolting for safety when the guy had either one or no bullets left made no sense. You need a huge supply of suspension of disbelief to be satisfied with this scene.
            So Black Guy assembles his team when offered some money to defend the town. They are Mexican Guy, Indian Guy, Asian Guy, Old Mountain Man White Guy, Ex-Confederate White Guy, and I think the last one was Irish White Guy. The U.N. must have loved the casting.
            Nevertheless, most of them were fun to watch.
            Final point: The evil land grabber and mine owner launches his attack on the town. For openers he sends in 200 desperadoes. They townies kill 300 and 100 more are still left to engage in street-to-street fighting. All of this is done quite well. But the attack is faltering so WARNING AGAIN Bad Guy breaks out a Gatling gun and starts killing everyone, including his own thugs. I ask, wouldn't it have been more effective to use the Gatling first and then use the owlhoots to mop up? END OF WARNING.
            Despite these flaws, I liked the movie for what it was. Like the Lone Ranger movie with Johnny Depp, it might not be the real McCoy, but it was fun and had some exciting action sequences.

            A couple of weeks earlier I saw Bridget Jones's Baby I thought it was a huge disappointment but some old geezer down the row from me laughed often. And that's more than I need to say about this.


Friday, September 09, 2016

27 Glorious Years


     Yep, every year at this time our anniversary rolls around. Here's Linda and me performing a tuneful duet. The kid isn't ours.

     It's also my kid sister's birthday, so happy birthday Denise.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

And Then There Was One

My Aunt Sylvia passed away at 10:25 p.m. EST today. That leaves my 93-year-old mother as the last living family member of that generation. Sylvia was 89.