Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, mad men threatening the world with nuclear annihilation. We’re in trouble. Where’s Superman?

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In case you’re been wondering where I’ve been lately, I haven’t been able to blog recently for several reasons. First I’ve been busy working on a new book, and second my house got hit by lightning about a month ago. The lightning hit the telephone pole across the street and sent three powerful surges across the wire to my electric meter. It blew the meter off the side of the house and sent it flying into my neighbor’s yard. No fire damage to the house but every appliance in the house was fried, including my computer. I’m currently working on my laptop.

The damage to the computer was potentially disastrous in that I had not stored the latest draft of the new book to an outside drive for about two weeks. I would have lost two weeks worth of work if not for the Geek Squad which was able to extract the file from the computer’s hard drive. Phew. That’ll teach me not to back up every day.

What remains is getting everything either repaired or replaced and dealing with my home owners insurance company. I’m slowly getting back on the keyboard, getting back into the flow of the novel, and writing some new movie reviews.

In fact, today, you can click over on the Cinema Retro page and read my review of Sunset in the West, the first Blu-Ray of a restored Roy Rogers Trucolor Western. It’s glorious. Happy Trails!

barbarosaYou can read my review of BARBAROSA today on the Cinema Retro Website. Willie Nelson and Gary Busey play an outcast and an outlaw caught in a legend that is bigger than both of them. Remember what Barbarosa said: “The Mexicans have a saying. What cannot be remedied must be endured.”

Anthony Scaramucci uses vulgarities, insults, and flame throwing in his attacks on other White House staffers. He’s from New York, but he’s just like the greasy goombas I knew in South Philly in the olden days. Wise guys. He’s the COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR. And that’s the best he can do, communications-wise? Ay, paisan. Fuggedaboudit.

But what makes it worse, is when Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is asked to comment about it, instead of saying this represents a new low, that a WH official would speak publicly, on the record , in such a disgusting manner, is unconscionable and should be condemned in the most forceful way, he says: “I’ve heard worse.” I’m sure he has.

So now Saturn is almost standing still as it nears the ends of its retrograde phase. Saturn, the truth planet, the planet that demands we make an accounting of ourselves, the planet that hands you your final Nielsen rating, is sitting there atop Trump’s Moon and opposed to his sun. His emotions and ego are at maximum stress point. He’s cracking.

The planets find surrogates in our lives, and in this case Robert Mueller is Trump’s Saturn. The pres is feeling the pressure. He knows what Mueller can uncover if he digs hard enough. He would like to fire him or have the AG do it. With Congress in recess in August, he may try to use a recess appointment to replace Sessions. If he dumps Sessions, the Republicans in Congress will finally realize they must do something. The solar eclipse of Aug. 21 will be the point of no return. Eclipses are wild cards. Anything can happen.

But you still won’t have seen everything yet. Following that when Mars transits to the eclipse point during the early days of September, when Congress returns, all hell may break loose.

 

Hey, my review of the Republic Studios classic cliffhanger “Daredevils of the Red Circle,” (1939)  appears today over at Cinema Retro. Return with us to those thrilling days of yesteryear when a kid could spend an entire Saturday at the local Bijou for just a quarter. The price of admission today is one click of the mouse right here. 

It’s that time of year again, gang. The Great American Fourth of July holiday celebration. Fireworks, barbecues, sunburn, beer. But especially fireworks. For the past several years on this day I’ve reprised the blog I wrote back in 2012, which extolled the virtues of Jean Shepherd, master storyteller, who told probably the funniest story about the Fourth that’s ever been told. I went to great lengths to recreate that story in my own words and more recently added a link to an audio recording of Shepherd telling the story as only he could. It’s a recording of a live radio broadcast of his radio show from the studios of WOR in New York.

This year I will do you all a favor and forego trying to ape Shepherd and simply let you hear the master tell the tale in his own words, in his own inimitable style. It’s a classic.

Shepherd was a raucous personality with his own cult following back in the day. Most people today only know him, if they know him at all, as the writer/narrator of “A Christmas Story.” But he did a lot of other things. And the best things he did were all on the radio.

I wish Shepherd were around today. He passed away in  1999. Besides being a brilliant story teller he was an acerbic social commentator. He picked up on things as they were happening and often before they were happening. He could read the “straws in the wind,” as he called them. I really wonder what he would say about our current political situation and the rise of a reality television star to the office of the president.

He probably wouldn’t be surprised at all. Even then, in the 1970s, as his radio career was winding down, and he turned to writing books and movies, he predicted the rise of the celebrity in American society. He was fascinated by America’s hangup with celebrities and our worship of show biz. He was convinced that American life would become more and more chaotic, and unsatisfying as people, who dreamed that their lives would be like it is on television and the movies, found out the truth–  that life is just “one damn kitten after another,” as Mehitabel the Cat used to say.  Shep was fond of quoting Don Marquis who wrote about Archie and Mehitabel. Mehitabel wanted to be a dancer, you see, but always, just as she was getting her act together and things were starting to break, along comes another  “batch of these damn kittens.”

So now, having carried celebrity worship to its extreme by electing a TV celebrity as their leader, the great electorate out there is already starting to feel a little shaky. The Kool Aid euphoria is wearing off. The consequences may be a little more serious than a batch of kittens.

Nevertheless, we’ll carry on. Just remember Shep’s sage advice about life and its vicissitudes: “Keep your knees loose and your duff close to the ground.” And now for your patriotic holiday enjoyment here is Jean Shepherd telling the tale of “Ludlow Kissel and the Dago Bomb that Struck Back.”

“Excelsior, you Fathead.”

 

Legendary  filmmaker Sam Peckinpah believed a man was only as good as his word and, if he couldn’t keep his word, he was no good at all. You can read my review of Peckinpah’s RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY, a film that explores that basic idea, today over on Cinema Retro.

 

For all you Robert E. Howard fans, here’s a volume you’ll definitely want in your library. “SAVAGE SCROLLS: Scholarship from the Hyborian Age, Volume One.”

Robert E. Howard’s swashbuckling heroes strove mightily against fantastic foes and strode boldly across lands steeped in ancient sorcery, court intrigue, and fabulous wealth. In this vibrant traveler’s guide, historian Fred Blosser chronicles the people, flora, fauna, and politics of REH’s universe.

No Howard creation looms larger than Conan, and there’s plenty of Conan in this book, but there’s also much-needed coverage of Howard’s other square-jawed heroes, including such equally bold though lesser-known adventurers as Kull, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, Black Vulmea, and Kirby O’Donnell.

In addition, Blosser examines Howard’s wide oeuvre of pulp fiction, from horror and western tales, to his less successful detective yarns.

From Hyborian Age weaponry, justice, medicine, and mercenaries, to the beasts, villains, and nameless horrors of the African jungles, Central Asian mountain passes, and the haunted Texas town of Lost Knob in our own world, you’ll experience anew the genius of Robert E. Howard through the tapestry from which he created his pulp masterpieces.

Order your copy here.

The rain comes in torrents, a million billion drops,

Who can count them?

The kind and the cruel

All washed away.

 

A man lives and dies searching for the truth.

He finds the answers to many questions.

A duck swims happily in a cool pond and makes a quacking sound . . .

If only the man could understand.