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04/15/19: I attended the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention this past weekend, and here's my haul. Despite what you might think from looking at the pile you see here, I was a little more discerning while shopping, because I realized that I've only read a fraction of the stuff I bought last year. I think the big prizes this year are the Best of Fredric Brown hardcover, the new Rocky Jordan collection, and the Sun-Koh reprint from Airship 27.
     I've recently picked up two collections of Frederic Brown mystery stories, and I had been looking for this Best Of collection to read some of his science fiction stories. I've seen a series of articles on the Black Gate web site about a series of paperback collections published by Del Rey in the '70s and '80s. I've have a number of them (one, oddly, givent o me by my Uncle Tony back when I was a teenager) but I was specifically looking for the Brown one, and I found it as a Science Fiction Book Club hardcover for a great price.
     The Rocky Jordan collection was exciting because I've been really getting into the radio program, which aired from 1948 to 1950. Rocky is an American who owns a bar in Cairo, and every week he gets involved in some sort of crime or mischief. The character is written and played like a hard-boiled detective, and it's a lot of fun to listen to. The series also has what I consider to be one of the best cop characters in police chief Sam Sabaaya, and his relationship with Rocky makes the series special to me. The book I bought is a collection of new stories with these characters and I'm looking forward to reading it.
     The other prize is a book I've been seeking for some time. Sun-Koh was a German knock-off of Doc Savage, with stories written in the early Nazi 1930s. I'd read about this collection of new stories featuring the character, but I soon discovered that the book had a short print run back in 2010 and was totally unavailable. Fortunately, Airship 27 reprinted the volume last year and I was finally able to buy a copy.
     The other prize was not for me, so it's not in the picture. Years ago I was sitting in the great room in Union Station, reading a Terry and the Pirates collection while waiting for my train. A uniformed policeman walked up and commented on the comic I was reading. He introduced himself as Jim Doherty, and at the time, he was writing the Crimestoppers' Textbook bit for the Sunday Dick Tracy newspaper strip. He also told me that he had written a novel and was trying to get it published. I made a note to look for that, partly because the main character had the same name as my best friend, but never saw it. At this years convention, I met Jim Doherty again, as he was there promoting his new book. I asked him about that first book, titled An Obscure Grave, and he said he had copies in his car. He ran out and got one, and I had him sign it to my friend. I'm going to give it to my pal next time I see him.


04/12/19: I spotted this little tableau while walking through Yorktown mall, during my visit to the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention across the lot at the Westin Lombard.  Apologies for the reflection on the glass, but it was the best I could do and I wanted to share this.

04/11/19: I've been listening lately to Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast, and I've really been enjoying it.  I was tempted to skip some of the episodes when I didn't know, or didn't care for, the guest, but it turns out that those have been some of my favorites.  Some of the conversation is profane and low-brow, particularly from Gilbert, but the episodes are filled with great stories about the golden age of entertainment, and featuring people who were stars even before I was born.
     One anecdote that I particularly liked was about Henry Fonda.  I don't remember who the guest was, but he was acting in a play with Fonda, and they were talking about playing to the crowd, like if a friend was in the audience, they would think that they were performing especially for that person as a way of motivating the best possible performance.  The guest on the show asked Fonda what he does if he doesn't know a single person in the house, and Fonda said that he just picks someone out of the audience at random and plays to them, without them even knowing that Fonda essentially dedicated his performance that night to them.
     I mention this story because last night I went to the Tamale Hut for one of our regular reading nights.  After the event was over, we were standing around chatting and I spoke to one of the women who read that night.  She told me that she was kind of nervous to get up there and read, but as she was into her story, she saw me watching intently, and she thought, "Well, as long as that guy is paying attention and looking like he's enjoying the story, I'm okay."  She said she relaxed after that, and her story was great, as well as the presentation.  I felt honored to have been able to help put her at ease, even though I didn't realize I was doing it. 
     I also was thankful she didn't see me with my eyes closed, as I sometimes do when I'm really concentrating on the story being read.  If she had seen that, she might have though, "I'm putting them to sleep!" and that wouldn't have been a good thing.



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