Friday, September 17, 2021

Weekend Links 9-17-21

 Your semi-regular roundup of stories of interest for your weekend reading. If nothing else, hopefully this collection will take your mind off the news and worries of the day.

I'm always interested to find out what inspires other authors. Susanna Clarke discusses her writing, C. S. Lewis, Richard Osman, Neil Gaiman, and more. Meanwhile Paula Hawkins (whose The Girl On The Train I intend to get around to reading one day) talks about her favorite reads. Some of her choices might be surprising. 

Speaking of Paula Hawkins, her new thriller A Slow Fire Burning has just been released. Here is a review. Looks like another one that will be going on my TBR list. 

Also in new books, Richard Osman follows up his blockbuster debut The Thursday Murder Club with The Man Who Died Twice which has just been released. But Osman is really just trying to make the world a better place.  

Agatha Christie s birthday was earlier this week. Here are some of the many ways she shows up in popular culture. 

Back before streaming there was such a thing as appointment television. Now we are seeing a return of appointment television thanks to British crime dramas.

No Time To Die will be premiering in theaters in just a couple of weeks. In the meantime go behind the scenes with the official podcast.

The many cinematic influences of Raiders of the Lost Ark. 

Sweet stuff: the delicious history of Pocky Sticks. I have only recently discovered them and they are tasty. 

Need to get away? How about a weekend in the Hundred Acre Wood

Why Gil Hodges deserves to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It is a very compelling case.

Even folks that are not necessarily big baseball fans know that three strikes and you are out. But did you know you can actually strike out on fewer than three pitches?

How can you be sure you are buying authentic MLB memorabilia? Thanks to their army of authenticators you can be sure you are buying the real thing. 

Friday, September 03, 2021

Weekend Links 9--3-21

Better late than never, a roundup of interesting articles for your Labor Day weekend......

The season two trailer for All Creatures Great and Small has been released and it looks fantastic. 

What is the most influential pop-rock band of all time? I'll be honest, I wouldn't have guessed it was The Monkees. 

Here's something I hadn't considered before: how reading Agatha Christie helps with anxiety. I have a feeling I am going to have to test that out. 

Speaking of the queen of crime fiction, a dozen modern mystery writers are creating their own stories featuring Miss Marple in a new collection set to be published next fall. 

In honor of the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die, British toymaker Corgi has built a full scale replica of the Aston Martin DB5 that first appeared in Goldfinger and is scheduled to make an appearance in the new movie. Yes, I do own a few of the Corgi Bond toys. 

While we are on the subject, ranking the 15 best Bond cars. 

Great moments in customer service: Lego blames Darth Vader for missing Star Wars cantina pieces. Their response to the customer's inquiry is priceless. 

At the height of his fame, Alfred Hitchcock made a visit to Jerusalem. Now photos from that trip are available for viewing for the first time. 

While excavating Roman ruins in the Channel Islands, archaeologists unearthed a fully intact Nazi bunker. 

The true story of a baseball player who was struck by lightning and then got up and finished the game. Probably the most amusing part of the story was the terms of his contract. 

A closer look at Norman Rockwell and his baseball paintings

Friday, August 27, 2021

Weekend Links 8-27-21

 Hard to believe it is already the last weekend of August. Makes me wonder where the summer is gone at least until I walk outside. Where I live it is hot and muggy and will probably stay that way for several more weeks. While you are staying cool inside check out these links for your weekend reading. 

Baseball is still America's past time but that doesn't mean there aren't things that couldn't be improved. Here are some interesting suggestions on how the game could be improved.  

Meet New Jersey's meadow doctor who is all about cultivating native plants in your yard. 

The long, colorful history of sneakers

Dolly Parton is co-writing a mystery novel with bestselling author James Patterson that will debut next spring. As an added bonus, she is recording an album to accompany the book. 

Hear Christopher Lee read the Sherlock Holmes stories.

We just finished watching The Mysterious Benedict Society on Disney+ and thoroughly enjoyed it. Here is a little more on author Trenton Lee Stewart and how he created the bestselling series. 

This is big news if it is true: the Aston Martin DB5 driven by Sean Connery in Goldfinger that was stolen in 1997 may have been found. 

Chances are you had these as a kid, too. Here's a look at the history of Little Golden Books. 

Friday, August 20, 2021

Weekend Links 8-20-21

 Apologies for the lack of a post last weekend. I had the material together but couldn't find the time to compile the post. However, I did save everything I planned to post last week so its a longer than normal post this week. Here's a roundup of interesting stuff I have found over the last couple of weeks.

Here is something I honestly had never thought about: why many restaurants are closed on Mondays.

Last week was the inaugural Field of Dreams game in Dyersville, Iowa at the ballpark built adjacent to the ballfield that had been cut out of the cornfield for the movie. Joe Posnanski was at the game and has a few thoughts. 

The death of Edgar Allan Poe is still one of our greatest unsolved mysteries. 

A list of Hitchcock films that every film fan should see. Unfortunately this list omits one of my personal favorites but for the most part is really solid. 

Ever wonder why decks of cards have jokers?

A new book featuring satellite photos of Earth puts our home planet in a whole new perspective. Be sure to check out the photo gallery in this article. 

Mike Rowe is best known as the host of Dirty Jobs, a show created out of a mistake and from inspiration from his grandfather. 

A preview of John Le Carre's last book due to be published in October. 

Want to be a contestant on Jeopardy!? Best to familiarize yourself with the rules contestants must follow.

Olivia Rutigliano analyzes The Natural and finds much deeper meanings that you probably knew existed. 

Otto Penzler is one of the leading authorities on crime fiction. His American Mystery Classics imprint is republishing classic American crime novels of the 20th century. Here is an interview with him in which he talks about what it is like to be a publisher and independent bookseller (he owns The Mysterious Bookshop)

I will be the first to confess I had never heard of Craig Rice at least until a couple weeks ago I found an American Mystery Classics edition of Home Sweet Homicide on a recent book buying trip. Here's why crime fiction fans ought to get acquainted with Rice's work. 

One of the most famous lines in film history was improvised. I'd say it worked out pretty well. 

Podcast of the week: I just started listening to a brand new podcast from Spyscape called The Great James Bond Car Robbery.  This eight part limited series (which premiered this week) focuses on the true story of the 1997 theft of the original Aston Martin DB5 driven by Sean Connery in Goldfinger. The car has never been recovered and the series will dive into the efforts to find the culprits and recover the iconic automobile. On a related note, here are some fascinating facts about Goldfinger.

Friday, August 06, 2021

Weekend Links 8-6-21

 It is a bakers dozen of interesting items for your weekend enjoyment. Let us dive in!

Part of the Apollo 11 spacecraft might still be orbiting the moon. That is pretty amazing if true.

Answering the important questions: why do performers say "break a leg?

Why Sneakers is one of the most interesting espionage/heist movies of the 1990s. Warning: this article contains spoilers.

Uncovering the mystery of the lost second novel by Emily Bronte. 

The Adirondack chair is synonymous with rest and relaxation. But it was originally invented to help cure disease.

Ian Fleming served in naval intelligence during World War II. His real life missions would inspire his later writings of James Bond novels. 

Watch Alfred Hitchcock explain how he shot the iconic shower scene in Psycho (and show off his droll sense of humor at the same time).

Speaking of Hitchcock, why Rope is his experimental masterpiece. 

A group of German physicists are studying why beer coasters don't fly like Frisbees when tossed.    Something tells me that copious amounts of beer were consumed in the process of conducting these experiments.

Who invented the pencil? The answer is not quite as straightforward as you might think.

I learned a new word this week: tsundoku. I totally embrace it.

Sophie Hannah on why Agatha Christie is a great writer

Podcast of the week: this episode of 30 with Murti. Thirty years ago When It Was A Game premiered on HBO. The documentary consists entirely of 8mm and 16mm home movies taken by players and fans from the 1930s to the 1950s. This podcast features an interview with George Roy, one of the producers of the film, who tells how the program came into being and, more importantly, how they managed to find all those films. 

Friday, July 30, 2021

Weekend Links 7-30-21

 Were back after a weekend off. Had a great time with my lovely bride celebrating our anniversary. The time off was well worth it. Of course, that means there was no post last weekend. But that also means this week's is longer than normal. Hope you enjoy!

With the release of Black Widow the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand. Here is how to watch all the movies in order. 

This seems timely with the Olympics taking place in Tokyo: how Wheaties became the breakfast of champions.

The history of America's first disastrous attempt to launch a satellite.

Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe explains why "following your passion" is usually terrible advice. 

One of my favorite singer/songwriters is James Taylor. Here is the story behind his iconic song "Fire and Rain."

A new game based on Agatha Christies Hercule Poirot will be released for the Nintendo Switch this fall.

The ten best Hitchcock villains. Numbers 2, 3, and 7 are my personal favorites. 

Why is English spelling so difficult?

How to score free refills on McDonalds fries. I haven't tried this so I am not sure whether it would work. 

If you pick up a book it is likely there is a blurb from an author or critic singing its praises. How did this become standard practice?

Here are some ways to have fun with Alexa. 

On an episode of M*A*S*H, Charles Emerson Winchester (portrayed by David Ogden Stiers) comes to the aid of a soldier being bullied because he stutters. For Stiers, the story hit close to home. 

The benefits of browsing in bookstores. It is one of my favorite pastimes.

Babe Ruth is a baseball legend in large part because of the efforts of Christy Walsh. Who is Walsh? He is widely considered the first baseball agent. 

Otto Penzler (in an introduction to his new book) discusses what constitutes Golden Age Detective Fiction. 

Podcast of the week: I really enjoyed this episode of Shedunnit (it is one of my favorite podcasts). It is an interview with Sophie Hannah on whether Agatha Christie is a great writer. There is also discussion about whether detective fiction can be considered great literature. Given the fact that most of the fiction I read is detective fiction and it is a genre that got me back into reading fiction I think you can guess where I land on these questions. 

Friday, July 16, 2021

Weekend Links 7-16-21

 Another weekend means another roundup of interesting stuff from the web.....

When I was a kid, a common place to stop on road trips was Stuckey's. Though the chain had fallen on hard times they are trying to make a comeback thanks to the efforts of CEO Stephanie Stuckey, granddaughter of founder W. S. "Sylvester" Stuckey. 

Brush with fame: coffee shop employee meets actor from her favorite movie. This is a sweet story. 

This is for gamers: how to activate Super Alexa mode. 

What you can do with all those extra Alexa speakers. I haven't tried this yet but it's worth a shot. 

And if that's not enough to convince you of the benefits of having an Echo device, check out these ways Alexa can make your life easier. 

Longread of the week: The legacy of Willie Mays. 

A new biography of Ian Fleming explores how his failures made him a success

You can now eat like Jane Austen with recipes from her sister-in-law's cookbook. 

Tips on how to improve your skee-ball skills. 


Friday, July 09, 2021

Weekend Links 7-9-21

 Welcome to the dog days of summer. Don't know what the weather is where you are at but here it's a typical summer: hazy, hot, and humid. Why not relax with a few entertaining links?

I haven't had a chance to try this to know for sure but reportedly Mexican Coke is better than American Coke. 

This is a fun quiz: guess the classic novel by its one star review

Speaking of book reviews, check out my review of An Ambush of Widows by Jeff Abbott. 

A Massachusetts man has returned library books that were originally checked out in the 1920s and 1930s. Thankfully he didn't have to pay any overdue fines. 

Something tells me that some of these old words for body ailments should be put back into common usage. I am partial to comfoozled myself. 

Coming soon: an official Animal Crossing Monopoly. For one thing, it looks really cute, and for another, the rules seem to be slightly different than the classic board game. 

Back during my all-to-brief radio career I had the opportunity to interview Pete Sampras. This was in 1987 just a year before he would turn pro. Sports Illustrated caught up with the man who dominated tennis in the 1990s and early 2000s. 

Although he is best known for creating Perry Mason, Erle Stanley Gardner briefly flirted with the idea of ditching him in favor of a completely different character. 

Fun facts about Tomie dePaula's Strega Nona. This happens to be one of my kids' favorite books. 

The history of that favorite summertime treat the freeze-pop. Though they appear as different brands most of them are made by one company. 

Monday, July 05, 2021

Book Review: An Ambush of Widows

 When Kirsten North answered the call she expected her husband Henry, a cybersecurity expert, was calling from New York. He had just left for a business trip. However, when the voice on the other end of the phone tells her that Henry has just been shot in Austin, her world is turned upside down. Now Kirsten must figure out why Henry was in Austin, who killed him, and what is his connection to Adam Zhang, the other man killed alongside Henry. Along the way she will uncover numerous secrets in her quest to obtain justice for Henry. 


In his new thriller An Ambush of Widows, New York Times bestselling author Jeff Abbott delivers a first class mystery/thriller. He starts the novel off with a bang (Kirsten learns about Henry's death on page one) and doesn't let up until the very surprising conclusion. With a clever premise reminiscent of classic mystery novels, Abbott spins a complicated yarn that will keep you guessing until the end. Honestly, I didn't see the solution coming and was totally surprised by the time I reached the climax of the novel. 


If you want a highly entertaining thriller for your summertime reading An Ambush of Widows will fit the bill. 


My rating 5 out of 5 stars.


Thanks to Novel Suspects for providing an advance copy of this book. No consideration was received in exchange for this review apart from an advance copy of the book. 


Friday, July 02, 2021

Weekend Links 7-2-21

Welcome to the first weekend of July (and a holiday weekend to boot). Here are a few links of interest for your weekend enjoyment.

Minor League Baseball teams are known for having unusual nicknames. Here is a roundup of the best team nicknames. 

Chicago Cub fans are accustomed to seeing Obvious Shirts around Wrigley Field. Here s the story of Joe Johnson, founder of Obvious Shirts, who turned a simple idea into an apparel juggernaut. 

The history of the asterisk, or how a star was born.

Before interstate highways were built, Route 66 was the main east-west artery. Here are 20 interesting facts about the famous roadway.

Attention Potterheads: Diagon Alley is a real place

A painting falls off the wall and while being restored it was discovered to be a Rembrandt. 

A boat owner discovered a message in a bottle in the Cheboygan River in Michigan. That is just the beginning. Tracking down the family of the author is another story. 

Alan Turing is best known for helping to decode the Nazi Enigma code machine. But while Turing and his team were working on Enigma others at Bletchley Park were working on a far more complex machine that would help win the war. 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Weekend Links 6-25-21

 Welcome to the last Friday of June. Hard to believe that the year is already half over. Here is an assortment of fun links for your weekend reading.....

Think of the possibilities: a straw that cures hiccups?

 I had no idea that golf was so popular in South Korea that night golf is becoming a trend. I have actually played night golf in Florida before. It is definitely more comfortable to play at night in the dead of summer instead of during the day. 

Meet the folks who make a hobby out of collecting radioactive glass. 

The benefits of reading across genres. 

With the announcement that the Negro Leagues would be recognized as a major league comes the herculean task of assembling statistics. That means a treasure hunt through libraries and newspaper archives. 

Answering the important questions: who invented chicken nuggets?

In 1961, Disney introduced a new method of animation in creating 101 Dalmatians. The innovation ended up saving the studio. 

Travel with us to Bristol, England and their accidental cat pub.

A look at a new biography of Sydney Taylor, author of All-of-a-Kind Family


Friday, June 18, 2021

Weekend Links 6-18-21

 The weekend is upon us which means it is time for another fun assortment of stuff I found on the internet. Hope you enjoy!

A group of fans are trying to raise money to save the family home of Agatha Christie and turn it into a literary center. 

A true heist story reminiscent that you have to read to believe. The most  interesting aspect is the escape of the mastermind of the heist. 

A letter penned by Roald Dahl that was recently sold at auction gives fascinating insight into how he constructed his stories for children.

Looking back at the comic book debut of Superman.

Answering the important questions: Where did the term up to snuff originate?

Joe Posnanski is one of the best writers working today. I loved this article on his love/hate relationship with chess (and I do not play chess).

What makes New York bagels than any other bagels? It could be because they roll their bagels by hand. 

You've probably been told all your life that carrots are good for the eyes. Turns out that is just a clever bit of World War II propaganda. 

Coming soon: a new museum spotlighting television game shows. 

The true story of one of the most successful con men in American history. 

Alfred Hitchcock is known as the Master of Suspense. Equally interesting are the films he didn't get to make. 

Every detail in a Disney theme park is carefully thought out. Occasionally those details can be surprising. For example, the fact that there are no mirrors in the bathrooms

Friday, June 11, 2021

Weekend Links 6-10-21

Back in action after an unexpected absence last week. Nothing serious happened, It was just a matter of not having material to share. Not a whole lot going on this week but enough to at least justify a post. 

On a personal note, I have a new Instagram account dedicated to featuring the best of Golden Age detective fiction. Be sure to check out my new account Bunter and Hastings

Now on to the handful of items I have to share this week:

Rather than rank the best baseball films of all time, official MLB historian John Thorn gives us the best baseball films by era. 

An appreciation for Disney's 101 Dalmatians as one of the greatest crime films of all time. 

Nostalgia alert: American Girl dolls are making a comeback

A new documentary on Charlie Brown and his creator Charles Schulz will premiere later this month on Apple+.

A miniature version of the Statue of Liberty currently resides in Paris. Soon it will come to the United States.

One of the most daring prison escapes ever conceived started with two prisoners making a Ouija board. That was just the beginning of a long con that would ultimately lead to their freedom. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Weekend Links 5-28-21

 Here's an assortment of interesting links for your long holiday weekend reading. Hope you enjoy!

The thing I love most about baseball is that on any given day you are likely to see something you have never seen before. That was certainly the case yesterday afternoon as Javy Baez of the Chicago Cubs pulled off the greatest baserunning play ever. I have never seen anything quite like it. 

The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is definitely not one of America's proudest moments. But baseball played a crucial role in the camps. 

Why Line of Duty is unlike any other police drama on television. It has to be hands down one of my all time favorite shows. 

Did you know that in 1930 John Steinbeck penned a werewolf murder mystery? The battle with his estate to get the book published. 

Answering the important questions: what is the origin of the term red tape to describe bureaucratic processes?

It's common knowledge that Richard Nixon taped conversations in the White House during his presidential terms. The extent that his administration went to record meetings has not been as well known until now. 

Finally, a job I could really get into doing: book butler. 

Friday, May 21, 2021

Weekend Links 5-21-21

 Hard to believe we are almost through the month of May. Where has this year gone? Hopefully you have something fun planned for the weekend. Perhaps some of these links will provide you with some enjoyable weekend reading. 

Meet Effa Manley, the only woman (to date) to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame

Secrets of MLB umpires.

The strange story of Richard Montanez, the man who didn't invent Flamin' Hot Cheetos.

How H Mart has revolutionized the way Asian-Americans shop and eat. I don't have one close where I live but have visited one once and can attest to the fact that it is a wonderful place to shop. It doesn't hurt that we also cook a lot of Korean dishes. 

Fans of John Le Carre have reason to celebrate: the late novelist's last book will be published in the fall. 

How a novelist discovered that spying ran in the family

How the homes of Jane Austen influenced her novels.

Chances are that if you were ever in need of a padlock you would have bought a MasterLock. Here's how the company turned itself into an iconic brand with it's patented padlock. 

Debunking common food myths found on the internet. 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Weekend Links 5-14-21

One of the occupational hazards of compiling these weekly posts is I frequently run across book excerpts. This week is no exception. The worst part is the books end up on my endless TBR list. Readers' problems. 

Here are this week's articles of interest:

The true story of a daring prison break that Alfred Hitchcock spent the last decade of his life trying to film. 

Hidden History: The crucial role that Iceland played in the outcome of World War II

Say this for the Swedes: they really love candy. 

This has now been scientifically proven: why cats love empty boxes. 

A deep dive into what words can be used in Scrabble. It's not as straightforward as you might think. 

The country house plays an important role in Agatha Christie's novels. Chances are that a fictional home is based on a real place. 

Podcast of the week: I just stumbled across the True Spies podcast. Hosted by Hayley Atwell and Vanessa Kirby, the podcast features interviews with actual spies recounting some of the biggest cases in the history of espionage. I've only listened to three episodes so far but am completely hooked. 

Destinations for a baseball road trip in every state and Ontario. I have actually visited a couple of the places on this list. I'd love to visit some of the others. 

Why it is tougher than ever for Major League hitters. The only thing I would add is that too many hitters are focusing on home runs and not emphasizing contact enough. 

Declining offense is not the only problem that Major League Baseball is facing. Here's a great roundup of all the other issues our national pastime must fix in order to survive

Friday, May 07, 2021

Weekend Links 5-7-21

Spanning the globe to find links of interest for your weekend reading.....

Here are some really cool libraries built to look like books. Makes me want to visit them. 

Why aluminum bats are not allowed in Major League Baseball. It's common sense if you think about it. 

From How to Write A Mystery: A Handbook from the Mystery Writers of America edited by Lee Child with Laurie R. King: Nine Things Your Thriller Needs to be Lean, Mean, and Exhilarating. 

With the publication of The Mysterious Affair at Styles in 1920, Agatha Christie introduced us to Hercule Poirot, one of the greatest fictional detectives ever created. 

Liquid Paper is one of the most ubiquitous office supplies ever created. Here's the story of the secretary who was the creator of the iconic correction fluid. 

It's been 80 years since the premiere of Citizen Kane and all these years later we are still trying to solve all its riddles. 

Examining the artistry of Alfred Hitchcock. 

Long read of the week: Finding My Father Among the Astronauts. This piece made me think a lot about my own father.

What makes a TV show theme song great? 

How Norman Granz used jazz for social change.  If you look at the credits of the most iconic jazz albums you are likely to find a connection to Granz. 

Last week, a computer won the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. But that in and of itself is not the most interesting part of the story. 

How to ignore your phone and read more. 

I haven't read any of Harlan Coben's books (yet) and am only acquainted with a a couple of Netflix series adapted from his novels. But I did find this interview fascinating on many levels. Especially that looking at his background and education he is not someone you would think would become a bestselling author. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Weekend Links 4-30-21

 Hard to believe we are already at the end of April. Where has this year gone? Hopefully you have some fun plans for the weekend that include reading the articles below. 

In 1888 baseball was still a relatively new pastime. But that didn't stop Albert Goodwill Spalding (later founder of the successful sporting goods company) from taking his Chicago White Stockings team on a worldwide barnstorming tour that would include among other stops playing baseball at the foot of the Sphinx. 

Food served to astronauts has come a long way since the early days of space travel. I am surprised to learn that astronauts have never eaten astronaut ice cream in space. I feel so lied to. Special thanks to my daughter Katie for this tip. 

Fish sticks were a regular feature on Fridays in the school cafeteria when I was a kid. Here's the surprising history of their success. 

Is Citizen Kane the best movie of all time? It's certainly one of the best I have ever seen and one that anyone who is serious about studying film should watch. 

There was a time I wouldn't dream of eating a steak without a little A. 1. Sauce. Little did I know that originally it was created for a king. 

Book review: why Hercule Poirot is the greatest fictional detective in the world. 

Caroline Crampton, hostess of one of my favorite podcasts Shedunnit, explores the world of Honkaku - the fiendishly clever world of the Japanese whodunnit.

Long read of the week: a father, a daughter, and K-pop

Friday, April 23, 2021

Weekend Links 4-23-21

Your weekly roundup of interesting reading. Hope you enjoy reading these articles as much as I enjoyed finding them.

The Oscars are this weekend. The folks over at Cine-Pop were kind enough to ask me to cast my votes for who I thought would win. Here is a compilation of the votes and comments from all their writers.  I will be completely honest and tell you I haven't seen any of the nominated films yet though Minari is on my watch list. I cast my votes solely based on what I had heard about each film. I suspect I will be nowhere close to picking the actual winners. 

Speaking of movies, check out this story about how one studio got in trouble for employing a fake film critic. Can you really trust the blurbs in movie ads?

Potterheads rejoice! Harry Potter New York is scheduled to open this summer. 

How Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde are connected. 

I don't have an opinion on this (as I have never tried it) but I at least appreciate this writers heartfelt love for McDonald's Filet-O-Fish sandwich.

The story behind the lyrics of "Smelly Cat" from Friends. I was surprised to learn the song originally wasn't about a cat.  

Roget is best remembered for his thesaurus. Perhaps less well known is the fact that earlier in his life he had to flee from Napoleon. 

The earliest appearances of Hercule Poirot on radio and television. A book excerpt from Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World by Mark Aldridge.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Weekend Links 4-16-21

It's a veritable cornucopia of interesting links for your weekend reading. Enjoy!

Before the days of the internet research involved spending hours in libraries surrounded by books or searching through newspapers on microfilm. In theory being able to do your research on the internet should be easier. But sometimes internet research can actually be more difficult as this article points out. I found this story strangely fascinating.

Last week The Masters was held in Augusta, Georgia. Along with great golf there is also a long tradition of iconic snacks including their famed pimento cheese sandwich. But the sandwich is at the heart of a controversy.  I am actually curious to try the recipe in the article. 

Full disclosure: I haven't seen the films mentioned in this article so I don't have an opinion on which film should have won the Best Picture Academy Award in 1999. But it is interesting to see how this particular Best Picture campaign changed the way producers campaign for Academy votes .

See World War II in color. These pictures are amazing. 

How All In the Family changed television forever. This begs the question: would this series get made today? 

This just goes to prove you can get a degree in just about anything. An Irish academic is getting his PhD in whiskey. I actually find it interesting that he's trying to revive long lost whiskey recipes. 

I hadn't thought about this before: what happened to the Ford's Theater actors the night Lincoln was shot? 

Long read of the week: the woman who made van Gogh. I somehow always knew that van Gogh was not commercially successful during his lifetime but I never stopped to think how he became known as an artistic genius. 

In Brooklyn, you can visit the world's largest library of sketchbooks. 

Need a question answered? Forget Google. Consult a librarian. They are the best detectives. 

Answering the important questions: Why didn't Sports Jeopardy! succeed the way Jeopardy! did? 

Yesterday marked the anniversary of Jackie Robinson's major league debut in 1947 and the breaking of the so-called color barrier. But there was another player that almost broke the color barrier....in 1905!

That time that the New York Mets replaced their mascot Mr. Met with a live mule. It didn't end well. 

President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Bob Kendrick has a fabulous new podcast called Black Diamonds in which he profiles the key figures of the league. He is a fantastic storyteller and this podcast is well worth a listen.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Weekend Links 4-9-21

 Maybe it's just me but this has felt like a strange week. The baseball season has just gotten underway and already in some quarters there is panic because teams aren't playing as well as they are expected to play. My take is that we're only a handful of games into a long season. It's far too early to be passing judgements on teams or individual players. Check back in around June and see how guys are doing. By then you should have a better idea of how the season is going to shake out. 

This week's roundup is mostly baseball and crime stories. Not sure why it worked out that way. Also, I normally try to only feature one story per website but this week I am breaking that rule as you will see below. It's my blog and I can break the rules if I want to, right? Anyway, here are this week's links:

It's Oscar season so time to rank the best movies that have won Best Picture. I can't vouch for the quality of all these films as I have only seen about a third of them. I don't know that I would necessarily be keen to see the ones I haven't seen, either. 

The story behind a new Netflix documentary about one of the world's most lucrative art heists. The thing that struck me is that the crime remains unsolved. I haven't seen the documentary so I can't necessarily vouch for it. 

Speaking of heists, who knew that stolen LEGO were so lucrative?

From the New York Times, how the New York Yankees luckiest batboy ended up in an unmarked grave. The story has a happy ending. 

Hard to believe that 40 years on, Fernandomania is still a thing. 

How a potato ended a catcher's career. Yes, you read that correctly. 

Anyone who reads this blog on the regular (and I know there are at least a couple of you) know that I link regularly to CrimeReasds. It is one of my favorite sites. This week I am featuring three of their stories (thus breaking my own rules because I can) as they are really good. 

First up, ranking Sherlock Holmes portrayals from worst to best. Honestly I didn't know that (a) there were so many and (b) that some of these portrayals existed at all. It's an interesting list of names. 

Next, Jane Healey, author of The Secret Stealers, uncovers the history of women who served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the World War II precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 

Finally, Flynn Berry, author of the new novel Northern Spy (which was just selected by Reese Witherspoon as her book this month for her book club) uncovers the history of women who were involved in the IRA. 


Friday, April 02, 2021

Weekend Links 4-2-21

 "You always get a special kick on opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you're a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen." ~ Joe DiMaggio

Yesterday was Opening Day in Major League Baseball. After a pandemic-shortened 2020 season they will attempt to play a full season. Fans will also be gradually be allowed back in ballparks which means that slowly things are returning to normal. Optimism abounds as every team starts with the exact same chance to win it all. In case you have forgotten, here's why baseball matters:


Here are a few things for your weekend enjoyment....

Something strange is always bound to happen on opening day. Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers hit a home run, was called out, and only credited with a single. 

In honor of Opening Day I wrote this article for Cine-Pop Movie Reviews on the Top 5 family friendly baseball movies. 

One more baseball related link: one of the greatest April Fool's pranks revolved around a New York Mets phenom. Why we are still curious about the case of Sidd Finch.  If you're not familiar with the original story you can read it here. 

Ranking the best Hercule Poirot novels.

Long read of the week: a band of rare book thieves pulling off capers reminiscent of Mission: Impossible. 

Video of the week: Dave Kindred covered most of the major sporting events during his illustrious career. No doubt he had thoughts about settling down to a quiet retirement. Then he went to a girls high school basketball game and it changed everything. Writers gotta write. 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Weekend Links 3-27-21

Apologies to my loyal readers (the few that there are - thank you for your support) for the lateness of this post. I had stuff together but couldn't get my act together to get the post up yesterday. Still here are some links of interest for your weekend reading.

First Person: how Jacqueline Winspear became a famous mystery writer by breaking all the rules. 

First Person, part 2: Lee Isaac Chung on the inspiration for Minari. I haven't had a chance to see it yet but I am rooting for the film to win Best Picture at the Oscars this year. 

Major League Baseball made the right call last year by announcing they would recognize the Negro Leagues as a major league. But recognition for the Negro Leagues means more than just recognizing statistics. 

Asking the important questions: why don't great books translate into great movies? To put it another way, why is it that mediocre or only good books are made into great movies?

Here are some bookstores you can rent for a date night or more. Sounds like a great idea to me. 

My youngest daughter weighs in with her latest review at Cine-Pop of Justice League. 

How Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura on Star Trek) changed the face of NASA. I had no idea she had made such valuable contributions.

A history of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, one of the strangest shows to dominate television

Friday, March 19, 2021

Weekend Links 3-19-21

 Only two more weeks until Opening Day. Though I enjoy watching Spring Training games I'm ready to get started with the regular season. 2020 was such a weird year for a lot of players and I'm sure that they will be ready to dive back into a full season of baseball. I know I'm ready. In the spirit of the impending start of baseball there's quite a few baseball-related links in this week's post. But first, some a few other things of interest:

The new movie The Courier premieres today and looks like it will be an interesting film. It's based on a true story but oddly enough separating the fact from the fiction was a difficult task for the screenwriter. 

David Cornwell was better known in the literary world as John Le Carre. What is less well known is what a critical role his wife played in him becoming a successful author. 

Speaking of Le Carre, an appreciation for his most realistic fictional spy George Smiley

This year, Major League Baseball will begin celebrating Lou Gehrig Day every June 2nd. It's great for him to finally get his day and to raise awareness and funds for ALS research. 

Looking for a good baseball book? Check out this list of the best 50 baseball books of the last 50 years from the Society for American Baseball Research. 

Everywhere you go you'll see folks wearing baseball caps. Here's how the headgear became a fashion necessity. 

Does Kevin Costner deserve to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame? You make the call. 

After listing to this episode of the PosCast with Joe Posnanski and Bob Costas I want to start a campaign for Costas to be elected baseball's commissioner. It's a fascinating and wide ranging discussion of mostly baseball. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

Weekend Links 3-12-21

 Welcome to the weekend. The weather here is getting warmer. Baseball season is just three weeks away. I am ready for real games to start. While it's been fun watching spring training games it's no substitute for the real thing. Plus fans will be allowed back in ballparks this season though in most cities in only limited capacity. Personally, I think this is a smart move until we get more folks vaccinated and the number of COVID cases continue to decline. It will be nice having fans back as the energy is not the same when there is no one in the ballpark. In the meantime here are some links of interest for your weekend reading.

Today is Alfred Hitchcock day where his career is celebrated in the UK. So it's fitting to come up with a list of his best films and where to see them. 

Hitchcock is also famous for coining the term MacGuffin. But what exactly is a MacGuffin? Why does it matter? (Warning: this article contains spoilers).

Speaking of movies, why isn't French Kiss available for streaming? I honestly didn't know this was a problem until I read this article. For what it's worth I like the film though I am not as nearly devoted to it as the article's author is. 

Now that the weather is getting warmer it's getting to be time to head to Dairy Queen to get a Blizzard. Here are some fun facts about the frozen concoction

Disc golf has exploded in popularity during the pandemic thanks in part to one woman who is the most successful professional disc golf player to date. 

A profile of Harlan Coben who is one of the most prolific and bestselling thriller writers working today. I have not read any of his books but I have seen a couple of the adapations of his books on Netflix (The Stranger and Safe) and they are really good.

A closer look at the women of Bletchley Park who were responsible for breaking German codes during World War II. 

As the song says, "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot." However, you never know what you might uncover while building a parking lot. 

Friday, March 05, 2021

Weekend Links 3-5-21

 A  year ago at this time I was sitting in the airport in New Orleans enjoying coffee and beignets from Cafe Du Monde (a must visit if you are ever in the city). I was on my way home from a business trip and had far too much time on my hands. Time moves slowly in lots of places but never as slowly as in an airport when waiting on a flight. Coronavirus was just starting to make news. Little did we know that a week later we would be in complete lockdown. Hopefully now with the rollout of vaccines life begins to return to normal or at least more like what it was like pre-lockdown. In the meantime here are some links of interest for your weekend reading.

Celebrating the 75th anniversary of one of the best cartoons ever made: Baseball Bugs.

An inside look in the competitive world of growing giant vegetables.

I honestly did not know that Tetris had its origins in the Soviet Union. Here's how the video game conquered the world. 

The reboot of All Creatures Great and Small was a huge success on PBS. But who was James Herriot the man who created the unforgettable stories?

You never know what you will find at a yard sale. A porcelain bowl purchased for $35 is actually worth a fortune. 

Arguably one of the best things about the Netflix series The Umbrella Academy is the soundtrack. Here are some fun facts about how it came together. I was particularly surprised to learn that scenes were written to fit the songs rather than having the songs selected to fit a particular scene. 

Podcast of the week: I thoroughly enjoyed this episode of How I Found My Voice with Anthony Horowitz. In the interview he discusses why he is a fan of Golden Age detective fiction, how he became a writer, the misery of being at prep school, and more. I especially appreciated the shout out for New Blood which is one of my favorite TV shows that unfortunately left the air far too soon. Thankfully you can still stream it on BritBox. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Weekend Links 2-26-21

Welcome to the last Friday of February. Spring is right around the corner. Spring training baseball games start next week which means it's only a matter of time before teams will be playing games that count. I'm ready for baseball season to start. In the meantime here are a few articles of interest for you to enjoy.

How Star Trek helped NASA dream big. NASA also helped Star Trek stick around. 

Victory over Nazi Germany would not have been possible during World War II if it hadn't been for a group of artists. 

This week one of my favorite shows All Creatures Great and Small finished its first season on PBS. The ending of the season was absolutely pitch perfect. Caution: spoilers abound in this article. 

Mystery solved? Uncovering who was responsible for the hidden message inscribed in Edvard Munch's "The Scream". 

In an upcoming Netflix series, Holmes and Watson are the villains and the Baker Street Irregulars solve all the mysteries. 

If I ever get to Kansas City I am going to be sure to pay a visit to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. 

This is a fascinating story about Willie Mays' days in the Army and a personal connection for the author of the article. 

Though they were briefly teammates, Satchel Paige once pitched to Henry Aaron in a game. You have to read the whole story to believe who won the battle. 

Clearing up some misconceptions about Colonial America. 

She might not be a household name but she did help avert a nuclear war

Podcast of the week: I am a huge fan of Golden Age detective fiction. I was especially thrilled to listen to this interview with Martin Edwards who is the author of The Golden Age of Murder and The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books along with two dozen other books. If you are like me and a fan of Agatha Christie and other Golden Age authors you won't want to miss this. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Weekend Links 2-18-21

Winter has been asserting itself with a vengeance here in the United States this week. Hopefully you are safe and warm wherever you are. For your enjoyment are a plethora of interesting reads this week. 

Why Hercule Poirot is the sleuth of the century. Warning: this article contains spoilers. 

Tips on reading more when you're really busy. Lots of good advice in this article. I try to take advantage of opportunities to read as they come and always have at least one book I am reading.

Willie Nelson has a new tribute album to Frank Sinatra coming out later this month. The first single is a  duet with Diana Krall of "I Won't Dance" that is accompanied by a terrific animated video (embedded in the linked article). At first this seemed like a somewhat odd pairing (the two couldn't be more different vocally speaking) but it really works. 

Truth be told it was his physicality that made Cary Grant a great actor. 

Speaking of actors, Nicholas Ralph may not be a household name yet but he has made a tremendous impression in his acting debut as James Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small. 

My youngest daughter has another terrific review up at Cine-Pop. This week she takes you into the world of Korean Drama with a review of Crash Landing on You. If you haven't discovered the world of K-drama yet this series is a great place to start. 

Fifty years ago, Satchel Paige, arguably one of the greatest pitchers of all time, brought the Negro Leagues to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. 

This is fascinating: how the Boeing 747 changed the way airplanes are designed. 

Ask Jeeves: six reasons why P. G. Wodehouse is Stephen Fry's hero. 

"You never know, you might meet her." A sweet love story that is well worth your time. 

Now I should go read Pride and Prejudice again: what Jane Austen teaches us about resilience

Lego announces a new set based on Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Starry Night". If Legos aren't your thing you can always have the painting recreated in your swimming pool. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Weekend Links 2-12-21

What a week it has been. If you've been watching the news (and I don't recommend doing that) you know that there have been lots of disturbing images this week. Maybe it's just me but this week has felt like one where some distractions are especially needed. As difficult as this week has been the good news is Spring Training starts next week. In just a couple of weeks there will be baseball games. Winter is almost over. Spring will be here soon. Here are a few links that hopefully will serve as a welcome distraction from a difficult week. 

When it comes to '80s songs and music videos few are as iconic as A-ha's "Take on Me". Here is the story behind the song and the animated video. 

The origins of the term bookworm. 

Ranking the best prison escape movies. I haven't seen all of these but I can definitely agree with the top choice. It's one of my favorites.

This article and the accompanying photographs are guaranteed to make you hungry: ranking the best doughnuts in every state. Anyone up for a road trip?

Speaking of sweet stuff, a tasty history of Boston Cream Pie.

Longread of the week: an incredible case of identity theft that started with a simple help wanted ad. 

Meetings these days are taking place over Zoom instead of in person. Unfortunately things don't always go as planned. 

Someday I would love to visit the Yorkshire Dales. In the meantime I will just have to enjoy looking at these locations that are featured in the new adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small. 

Invariably when researching articles for these posts I run across a story I had never heard before. That's certainly true of this story which also happens to be my personal favorite of the week: Audrey Hepburn's Favorite Song.

Shameless plug alert: my youngest daughter reviews the newest version of Carmen Sandiego. By the way, the site is a new one that was created by a couple of friends of mine. It's worth a regular check. 

Finally, a theme park is developing a new attraction featuring a replica of Howl's Moving Castle. 

Friday, February 05, 2021

Weekend Links 2-5-21

It's been cold and snowy this week in my corner of Virginia. Makes me long for spring to arrive soon. We're only a couple of weeks away from Spring Training which means baseball will be back before you know it. There's quite a bit of baseball related content this week which I have put at the end of the post.

Here are some things of interest that I discovered this week. Hopefully these will come as a welcome distraction from the events of the past few days.

Meet the man who has made it his mission to take high resolution photos of snowflakes. The photos in this post are stunning. 

If you are being bombarded with unsolicited spam emails or texts there is one thing you should not do: unsubscribe. I honestly hadn't thought about this but it makes a lot of sense. 

I don't know what it is about the Brits and their metal detectors but every few weeks some new amazing discovery gets made. The latest is the detectorist that found part of Henry VIII's crown. Not to be outdone, a four year-old girl in Wales discovered a dinosaur footprint. 

Longread of the week: the audacious CIA plot to steal a Russian satellite. It's fascinating stuff. 

Maybe he was guilty after all. A new study suggests Richard III did kill the princes in the tower

What could have been: Orson Welles, Lucille Ball, and the thriller that was never made.

Remembering the most famous golf shot ever made: Alan Shepherd hits a golf ball on the moon. 

A look at the hobby boom of the 1950s. My dad used to build Revell model airplanes. Brings back a lot of great memories. 

And now, the baseball stuff:

New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra becomes the latest baseball great to get his own stamp. 

The man who photographed the home run kings

I've been a baseball fan for years and have never thought about this: why aren't there any left-handed catchers in the majors?