Friday, December 15, 2017

Bill Crider

Bill and Judy

Photos by Arthur Charles Scott except the one with Loren Estleman

     It's no secret that Bill Crider is fighting a life-threatening disease right now. I join his legion of fans and friends who are upset, saddened, and damned mad that such a terrible fate has befallen one of the world's finest men. Bill is not only a fine man but a talented and reliable writer. 
     I first became aware of Bill in 1979 when I joined Dapa-Em, the mystery apa (amateur press alliance). A year later we met in person at the Washington, D.C., Bouchercon. He didn't have any books out yet--we thought, though in fact he had dozens--but he had encyclopedic knowledge of the mystery genre and was no slouch at Westerns, science fiction, and horror. The members of Dapa-Em had room parties at every convention and Bill was always there with the lovely Judy at his side. He was low key but not a wallflower, and when he spoke he always had something interesting, enlightening, or witty to say. We always stocked Dr Pepper knowing it was his beverage of choice. 
     Bill was a prolific author, as many know, and his signature work is the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series. You can tell a lot about Bill from reading those books. Like, his love of old paperbacks and his sorrow ay seeing Main Street America dry up and blow away. He never preached, but he made his point in his usual easy-going way.
     Bill also wrote Horror under the name Jack MacLane and scores of series Westerns, men's adventure novels, and collaborations, like the Willard Scott books. He wrote so many books under house names that even he can't remember them all. 
     But my favorite series, which he did under his own name, are the Boss Napier mysteries. Oh sure, a lot of people call them the Carl Burns books, but they are wrong. Alas, there were only four books in the series, which was ostensibly about a college professor in a small Texas town who gets involved with murders, but for my money the star of the show was Robert "Boss" Napier, Pecan City's irrepressible lawman. Boss has an eye for the ladies and vies for the attentions of a pretty teacher at Burns' school. Unlike most cops in amateur sleuth books, Boss wasn't a loud-mouthed blockhead. He just wasn't as quick to spot the killer as Burns. I'm sure he would have, given enough time.
     I was flattered as all get out when I saw the first Boss Napier book, and Bill was good enough to tuckerize me in several other of his works. I suggested he write a Rhodes book that brings in Boss as a guest lawman, and Bill allowed as how he might do something along those lines, but it seems like a long shot now, dagnabbit!

(l-r) me, Steve Stilwell, and Bill at an apres B'con gathering at Art Scott's house outside of San Francisco. Way outside, perhaps Cupertino. Bill is perusing the newly-released Paperback Price Guide.

(l-r) Loren Estleman, Loren's wife, me, Leslie Slaasted (va-va-voom!) and Bill. Taken at the Monterey Bouchercon in 1997, where I was the Fan GoH. Bill introduced me at the banquet.

     One thing about Bill, he was Mr. Reliable. He never missed a mailing of Dapa-Em, never failed to have a letter in Mystery & Detective Monthly, never failed to contribute to Patti Abbot's Friday's Forgotten Books on her blog, and never missed a deadline for OWLHOOT, a Western apa I ramrod. I'm sure there are others. Bill was an iron man. Maybe it was his dedication to running every day, or maybe that's just the way he was raised. 

     Bill loves music. When I mentioned gaps in my collection of oldies songs he immediately sent me cassettes of albums by such luminaries as The Skyliners and The Platters. He even sent me a tape of a song he recorded, an old Elvis hit. He wrote on the info card that it was by Billy Bob and the (can't remember dang it). He sang in a barbershop quartet in Alvin, performed in an oldies rock group with some fellow faculty members as The Fabulous G-Strings, and once helped The Kingston Trio warm up backstage before one of their performances. That final little nugget wasn't known by me until I'd known Bill for a good 25 years. Bill plays his cards close to the vest.
Also at Art Scott's house, Bill checking out a rare paperback. I walked in just as Art took the photo.

     Did Bill really have fixations on alligators and Paris Hilton? No, not really. These were running jokes that he enjoyed. The gator one started in Dapa-Em when he mentioned in one of his zines that he liked books and movies about alligators in the sewers. That got the snowball rolling downhill. I got into the spirit of it in a big way. For years I sent greeting cards with alligators on them and other gator items. The best was probably a real gator skull. Or maybe it's the alligator earrings I sent to Judy. When she e-mailed me her thanks I suggested that the next day she greet him at the door wearing the earrings--and nothing else.  Bill's response: "I can't wait." 

     I guess I've droned on enough, but even though there are more Bill Crider stories I can't relate them all. I guess I'm in denial, too. Bill will back at the old stand, doing his blog, writing his books, and charming people with his great aw-shucks presence again. I can't countenance anything else.

     I found the tape Bill made. It was by Billy Boy and the BBs and contains Don't Be Cruel and Blue Suede Shoes. This will be made available eventually. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bill Crider's Lost Story

I was rummaging through a dresser yesterday, looking for more space for my socks, when I chanced upon some written material. One item was a comic book from Dark Horse Comics called Underground. I had it in a taped bag and had no idea why it was in the house. Later, curiosity got the better of me and I lifted the tape and slid the comic out. A glance at the Table of Contents revealed a story by Bill Crider. Some of the seven stories in this magazine are illustrated (poorly) and some are text. Bill's is text with a couple of drawings laid in. This comic was apparently produced under the auspices of Andrew Vachss, and I suspect Bill wrote the story as a favor to him. The date of publication is 1993 and the cover warns that it's for mature readers. 
     Sorry about the lousy reproduction.  

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Merry Little Christmas

     Here are my girls, the MonaLisa Twins, doing an old holiday favorite. I dedicate it to my old pal Bill Crider, who's up against it these days.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Tough Jim's New Hobby

     Tough Jim Gaston is a Fender Stratocaster maniac. Now, with this tutorial, he can create his own.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Hard to believe my older girl Stephanie was born 28 years ago. She was a really lovely baby.
Here she is with her baby, Sofia, about five years ago. Happy birthday, kid.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Jimmy Beaumont

Jimmy Beaumont of The Skyliners died recently and I want to do a small tribute. He was an excellent singer as this cover of If I Loved You from Carousel shows. He was 76. The Skyliners were best known for Since I Don't Have You, but they had other noteworthy recordings. This is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Hot Diggetty Dog!

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Friday, September 22, 2017

The Gemini Twins

     I've always enjoyed sleight-of-hand magic and this trick is no exception. It's only about 2:30 long so watch it and see if you can figure out the trick. I can't.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Harlan Speaks

     Harlan Ellison had--or maybe has--a web show that I haven't watched in awhile, but always enjoyed when I did. Here's Harlan introducing his show on the first day. It doesn't run very long so don't feel you have to set aside a lot of time for it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Kristine Sings

     This was made about 10 years ago, when my younger daughter Kristine was in high school and pursued music with great determination.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Buffalo Bills

     No, not the football team. I'm in the mood for a little barbershopping and thought I'd post one of my favorite moments from The Music Man.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Early Christmas Present

     If they can have Halloween sales in August, I reckon this isn't rushing the season too badly.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Bob Ross

I've always enjoyed watching Bob Ross knock out a painting but PBS doesn't carry him anymore. Good news; there are a lot of his shows on YouTube. Here's one. Use full screen mode to get the best view.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

When I'm 64

     The MonaLisa Twins put a nice touch to a lighthearted Beatles song.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mr. Blue

From my old pals Sha Na Na. I think this guy's name is Donny. He usually wears wraparound sunglasses. I used to be that slim.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Neither Rain Nor Snow...

We've had neither rain nor snow here for a long time, so those aren't excuses for an envelope taking 27 days to reach me from far off Portland, Oregon. Maybe gloom of night was the culprit. Still, a 9 X 12 envelope with metered postage took from July 21, 2017 until today, August 17, to get here. I can drive to Portland in a little over two hours. The contents of the envelope were copies of someone's apazine (small personal fanzine) that went into a larger mailing that was sent out over two weeks ago. Therefore, what was in the envelope is no longer useful or needed.

The USPS should refund the sender his $1.61.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

If I Fell

     Another nice arrangement from my faves, The MonaLisa Twins.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Don't Worry, Baby

      One of my favorite Beach Boys songs rendered by a lovely lady with an excellent voice.

Remembering Glen

     Glen Campbell passed away recently and in his honor I'd like to share this song, which he had a big hit with way back when. The guitar solo alone is worth the price of admission.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The MonaLisa Twins

     I've been listening to this duo for months and I'm glad I have the chance to give them a wider audience, even if that audience is the five people who read this blog. Mona and Lisa Wagner are from Austria and are roughly 20 years old. They are twins and they grew up appreciating music from the sixties--Beatles, Stones, etc. They've recorded a lot of cover versions of songs from these groups and they are very good. Here's one example, and you can find a bunch more on YouTube.

     The blonde is Mona and I've already pledged my troth to her. Sorry, guys.

     By the way, this was recorded at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where the Beatles got their start.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

So In Love

     If this is successful it means I've leaped a high hurdle in my low tech life. Here is Johnny Contardo of Sha Na Na singing So In Love.

Monday, August 07, 2017

The Oregon Modelers Society Swap and Sell

     On Saturday, August 5, I attended the Portland Modelers Society Swap and Sell with my Portland friends Dave "Evan" Lewis and Brian "Tough Jim Gaston" Trainer. Charley Gordon, of Stayton, OR, met us there. The above photo, by Daryl Johnson, serendipitously captured all of us in close proximity. That's me on the right with the blue shirt and broad shoulders. Dave is in the hat, Brian is next to Dave, and Charley has his back to both of them. A good time was had by all. They even fed us for free.

     Good to see you all, gents.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Fathers Day

My father, Robert David Napier, when he was a Navy man.  Hard to believe he's been gone for 40 years. He was good to me. Taught me to fish and bowl, and played catch in the back yard. Thanks, Dad.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Kit of the Day

     An Aurora hot-rod dedicated to our Indigenous Peoples. You can buy-it-now for only $130 on eBay, but keep in mind it's missing a few parts.
     This is a real oddball not only for its content but for the awful artwork on the cover. Aurora usually had excellent box art but this looks like it was done by a precocious high school kid.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Anyone We Know?

An anonymous friend suggested this might resemble someone who had a bad day last November. Or maybe it's just an hysterical pulp cover. I make no judgment.