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Friday, June 19, 2015

The Firefly Days of Summer Are Here Again

The other evening, I went downstairs and noticed a bunch of tiny sparks of light floating in air just outside our patio glass door. I knew the fireflies were back and flying around with their strange but fascinating ability to make their bodies glow in the dark. I've heard them also called lightning bugs and tinsel bugs. You might have your own name for them. Anyway, it wasn't quite dark yet with the long days of June here, maybe around eight-thirty or so. They remind me of E.T.'s glowing fingertip. When I was a kid, the fireflies were lots of fun to watch and try to catch in a Mason jar. I guess they intrigue all kids, even those who aren't bug fans. I live in the suburbs now, so I'm glad and grateful the fireflies are still around to watch and remind me of my misspent youth. Nowadays, I just let the fireflies be and enjoy watching their glimmering ritual for a couple of weeks, if that, each summer about this time. Are you a firefly fan? Or are they found in your corner of the world?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Tuesday's Forgotten Movies: Cry Danger Starring Dick Powell

This fairly suspenseful, well-made 1951 crime drama stars Dick Powell as Rocky Mulloy, an ex-con who is sprung from prison when a former Marine (Richard Erdman) steps up and offers him an alibi for an old stickup that went south. Rocky's partner Danny is still in the slammer, so Rocky wants to do some checking around since he was framed for the stickup where a guard was shot and killed. Danny's wife played by the gorgeous and talented Rhonda Fleming is also Rocky's old flame, so he's still stuck on her. Fleming deserves mention here again as one of the most underutilized actresses of her era. William Conrad plays the big shot crime chief who sent Rocky up the river. I always think of Conrad as the TV private eye Cannon, not as a villain. Powell is low-keyed, smooth, and tough, as he always is in these crime movies. He gets to say lots of snappy hardboiled dialogue that isn't too corny. Regis Toomey plays the tenacious cop who wants to recover the stolen 100 grand. Lots of great photography is shown of 1950s Los Angeles locales, including a trailer park. It was fun to watch a great cast deliver a solid movie that while not flashy or violent was still entertaining.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Bear Claws And My Cozy Mystery Series

I've been revising the latest book (Number 6!) in my Isabel & Alma Trumbo Cozy Mystery Series, and I came across a scene where Alma decides to order bear claws, one of her guilty pleasures. What are bear claws? They're a type of Danish pastry shaped like, well, a bear claw. I've seen them out for sale in the pastry section at our local Panera. Bear claws might be also offered in the local bakeries as well as the doughnut shops.  Wikipedia mentions bear claws have almond paste and raisins in them. I'm a big coffee drinker, so they look as if they'd go nicely with a hot cup of joe. Wikipedia also says the term "bear claw" is a regional dialect, maybe from the American South. I wouldn't be surprised if it's used more widely. Have you either eaten or heard of bear claws? My sister sleuth Alma begins eating bear claws in Book #1, [book:Quiet Anchorage|10530870], of the Trumbo sister cozy mystery series. Bon app├ętit!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: The House On 92nd Street

This 1946 well-done espionage film was made with the assistance of the FBI and even includes an opening shot of J. Edgar Hoover seated at his desk running the operations. Lloyd Nolan, who I enjoyed in his playing Mike Shayne, is an FBI Inspector in charge of pursuing the Nazi spies at work in the USA. They are trying to steal the atomic bomb secrets, and it's up to the FBI to infiltrate and bust up their spy ring. There is a lot of state-of-the-art CSI science shown, all of which looks pretty archaic by today's standards. The actress playing the Gestapo officer is pretty menacing, and the Nazi thugs do a good job of showing how far they'd go to get the bomb-making secrets. Signe Hasso is the attractive, smart Nazi ringleader. I've seen a number of these wartime semi-documentary style movies, and this one is better than most are. Of course, there's a lot of patriotism, and the good guys win. Nonetheless, I found it an entertaining movie.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Introducing Petey Samson, My First Cozy Mystery Series's Star Beagle

Petey Samson is the pet beagle found in my Isabel & Alma Trumbo Cozy Mystery Series. He is spoiled, lovable, and playful. Isabel is especially fond of him, and he can do no wrong in her eyes. He pretty much has the run of their brick rambler found on Church Street in the small town of Quiet Anchorage, Virginia. How can she not love the rascal? Petey Samson also has a keen nose able to pick up scents. So, Isabel puts him to work. He plays a key role in helping them to solve the murder mystery in The Ladybug Song. If you are a dog lover, and you enjoy reading books with a pooch playing a role in them, Isabel and Alma's mysteries should be the right ones for adding to your summer reading list.