All posts by Michael Rogers

This week in Literature and Arts

Birthday greetings to Brian De Palma, born September 11, 1940, in Newark, NJ. I assume he’s best known for the crime thrillers Scarface and “The Untouchables,” but I prefer the scary stuff like Carrie, The Fury, and Dressed To Kill” Eye of the beholder.

Happy 77th Brian. Thanks for the chills (the slow razor through Angie Dickinson’s hand creeps me out every time!).


Happy birthday to Henry Louis Mencken, the Sage of Baltimore, born September 12, 1880, in that city. I don’t know if many read him anymore, although he is well worth it. And remember that he and George Jean Nathan created Black Mask magazine in 1920. For that and more I thank him.


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This week in Literature and Arts

“…and the things that were to come are too fantastic not to tell.”

Happy 60th anniversary to Kerouac’s On the Road, released by Viking Press September 5, 1957. A singular moment in America’s literary history.


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This week in Literature and Arts

August 28, 1978: John Huston, 81, dies of pneumonia linked to a variety of heart and lung ailments associated with heavy smoking.

A remarkably talented man, who, by numerous accounts, also was a real son of a bitch.


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This week in Literature and Arts

Happy birthday to Ray Bradbury, born August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois. As a writer he could do everything, and he understood the power of libraries and was a good guy to boot.


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This week in Literature and Arts

Happy birthday to Alfred Hitchcock, born August 13, 1899, in London. His films are still so much fun to watch.


August 15, 1965: Performing at Shea Stadium in Queens, NY, The Beatles set another precedent as the first band to play a sports arena.


August 16, 1977: Elvis Presley dies at 42 with enough fat in his arteries to grease a train, and the drugs in his blood would fuel a Grateful Dead tour.

“Like no one before, he let out a roar, and I just had to tag along.

Each night I went to bed with the sound in my head, and the dream was a song.

Big Train from Memphis, Big Train from Memphis,

Now it’s gone gone gone, gone gone gone.”

—John Fogerty, “Big Train (From Memphis)”

Hail to The King, baby!


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This week in Literature and Arts

August 7, 1934: The U.S. Court of Appeals upholds the lower court’s ruling that James Joyce’s novel Ulysses is art, not pornography, and eligible for sale in the United States.


August 8, 1969: At roughly 11:30 a.m. as a constable held traffic, photographer Iain Macmillan climbed a stepladder, focused his Hasselbad camera’s 50 mm lens closed down the aperture to f22 for great depth, and firing the shutter at 1/500th of a second shot six pictures of The Beatles walking away from EMI Studios crossing Abbey Road. The fifth exposure became the album cover.

Linda McCartney on the sidelines shot her own pix of the event.


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This week in Literature and Arts

July 29, 1954: “…that mad Baggins is off again” with Allen and Unwin’s publication of The Fellowship of the Ring. Hello Sam and Frodo!


July 29, 1965: HELP!, the Beatles second film with director Richard Lester, premiers at London’s Pavilion Theatre.


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This week in Literature and Arts

July 12, 1946: The Adventures of Sam Spade debuts on radio. The program ran until the early 1950s, jumping from ABC to NBC and finishing its run at CBS (more than 200 episodes all together). Howard Duff initially played Spade, but other actors assumed the role on the various networks.

Creator Dashiell Hammett’s name apparently was dropped from the credits when he was suspected of being a closet commie (how utterly ridiculous does this sound now?).


July 16, 1951: Little Brown publishes The Catcher in the Rye.

If Holden still were around today would he be on Facebook, would he tweet selfies, or would he think it was all phony?

 

 


Michael Rogers (mermsr@optimum.net) 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.

This week in Literature and Arts

July 2, 1961: In the early morning hours, Ernest Hemingway, physically, mentally, and emotionally ravaged and knowing he is finished as an artist, places this shotgun’s muzzle in his mouth and meets death on his own terms. He was 61.


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This week in Literature and Arts

May 30, 1593: Christopher Marlowe is killed in a tavern fight over the bill. Despite that official coroner’s record, the facts surrounding his death remain suspicious.

Marlowe, along with Ingram Frizer, Nicholas Skeres, and Robert Poley, had been imbibing and when it came time to pay up, a disagreement occurred. Marlowe reportedly snatched Frizer’s dagger and wounded him. In the ensuing struggle the knife pierced Marlowe’s skull over his right eye killing him (that’s a three-aspirin headache, brother!).

Confusion over the motive remains, however, as Marlowe is believed to have been a government spy as well as an atheist, both circumstances that might have proven an ulterior motive for him being murdered. He was just as dead, regardless of the reason.


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This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 158th birthday to the great Arthur Conan Doyle, doctor, author, spiritualist, and inadvertent father of forensic science, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, May 22, 1859.

Most readers have introduced themselves to Holmes and Watson, but if you’re unfamiliar with his adventure stories, try them. The Lost World and other Professor Challenger stories are great fun. Stay away from his romances though, just awful.

Arthur, old son, I love you with my heart and soul.


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This week in Literature and Arts

Happy birthday to Henry Fonda, born in Grand Island, Nebraska, May 16, 1905. His mother, Elma, was friends with Dorothy Brando, mother of you know who and director of a local theater group, who suggested the shy Henry take an interest in theater (thank you, Mrs. Brando!).

He pursued a journalism degree at the University of Minnesota, but dropped out at headed east for theater work, starting in New England before landing Broadway jobs. In New York he roomed with Jimmy Stewart, who he already knew from back home.

Fonda was top shelf in so many films, but my favorites are his collaborations with John Ford: My Darling Clementine, Fort Apache, and, especially, The Grapes of Wrath. The studio pushed for Tyrone Power to play Tom Joad, but Ford knew that Fonda was born to be Tom (thank you, Mr. Ford!).


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This week in Literature and Arts

Off-topic, but my fellow monster kids join me in wishing a happy birthday to Darren McGavin, born in Spokane, WA, May 7, 1922. The Night Stalker is one of my favorite vampire films. Kolchak, baby!


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This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 77th birthday to Al Pacino, born in East Harlem April 25, 1940. He’s one of the guys who put 1970s film on the map—The Godfather, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, all solid. Since snagging an Oscar for portraying Colonel Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman, Pacino has spent most of his screen time shouting—his characters apparently are all ferocious.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see Pacino on-stage twice; in The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel back in the day and Huey roughly a decade or so ago, and he’s equally affective in theater as in film.

My favs of his Hollywood work are as Michael Corleone in The Godfather I & II and Lefty Ruggiero in Donnie Brasco. Both characters are Mafiosos and killers with no consciences, but Pacino’s approach to Michael and Lefty couldn’t be more different. Something as simple as sitting in a chair reveals each character’s personality: Michael is a king; calculating, intelligent, in full control. His tailored suit and posture reflect his power. Lefty is a dumb slob. He’s a mutt slouching in a T-shirt and cheap track suit.

Perfect, Al.


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This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 99th birthday to William Holden, born—YIKES!—Billy Beedle, Jr., in O’Fallon, Illinois, April 17, 1918. With his hard face and I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude, it’s a shame he never played Philip Marlowe. But, he more than made up for it in many other roles.

Holden is pictured here in his Oscar-winning performance in Billy Wilder’s Stalag 17. Remarkably, he was the third choice for the sleazy, wheeler-dealer Sefton, landing the part after Charlton Heston and Kirk Douglas passed. Ach so!


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