This week in Literature and Arts

Cue Credence, dump a marmot in your bath, blaze one up, and wish a happy 20th anniversary to The Big Lebowski, released March 6, 1998.

A weird combination of stoner craziness and old-school LA detective pulp that somehow works. Bravo  Coens, Bridges, Goodman, Buscemi, Moore, etc. …and don’t fuck with the Jesus!

March 8, 1935: Scribner’s releases Thomas Wolfe’s second novel, Of Time and the River. The book was a much-abbreviated version of The October Fair, a multivolume work that was deemed too long to be financially successful so was whittled down by Wolfe and editor Max Perkins.

Happy 100th birthday to MWA Grand Master Mickey Spillane, born Frank Morrison Spillane in Brooklyn (but raised in Jersey), March 9, 1918. The Mike Hammer mysteries are a time capsule, but when you’re in the mood they really hit the spot.

I think (but am not positive) that Mickey holds the distinction of being the only author to play his own character on film—in 1963 he starred as Hammer in the screen adaptation of The Girl Hunters.

Mickey’s more than 40 novels have sold in excess of 225 million copies. Considering how fucked up, frustrating, and savage society is now I’m surprised he’s not experiencing a renaissance.

Happy 100th, Mick!

March 10, 1965: The world meets Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison with the opening of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple at the Plymouth Theatre on W45th St. Walter Matthau played the contented, cigar-chomping slob Felix to Art Carney’s annoying, fastidious Felix.

The play was a smash, leading author Neil Simon to incorporate himself with The Odd Couple as the company’s first property. Later when Paramount came knocking to morph the play into a film, Simon sold the company, but like many writers he didn’t understand the contract’s fine points and unwittingly sold the complete rights to The Odd Couple. Beyond his salary as writer (he adapted his original work into a screenplay) he received no royalties from the film or later from the TV incarnation or future theater productions.

How’s that for a kick in the ass!

Happy birthday to the great Shemp Howard, born Samuel Horwitz in Brooklyn March 10, 1895.

Was mainlining Ash vs The Evil Dead all week with Bruce Campbell keeping the flame alive with his best Stoogesque shtick and drinking a can of Shemp Beer. Immortal!

Michael Rogers ( is a Jesse H. Neal Gold Award-winning freelance writer, editor, reviewer, and photographer. He is also former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal.