Saturday, April 09, 2022

Weekend Links 4-9-22

 Hard to believe it's been more than a month since we last checked in with a roundup of links. Hopefully we can get back on track. At least Major League Baseball ended its lockout during my absence and games got underway earlier this week. All is right with the world again.

Rachel Balkovic might not yet be a household name but my guess is that she will be one day. Last night, she made her debut as the manager of the Class A Tampa Bay Tarpons (Yankees affiliate) making her the first woman to manage an affiliated major or minor league baseball club. An added bonus: the Tarpons won the game.

Baseball is often referred to as the family business. It's not unusual for multiple generations of players to come from the same family. But the Caray family is a little different as this season will mark the debut of the fourth generation of announcers to cover the game. 

Subscription boxes are all the rage these days. For readers, there are some especially gret choices to be found from independent boookshops.

The value of reading old books and reading them slowly.

It's not secret that I am a fan of the reboot of All Creatures Great and Small. One of the enduring mysteries is how they shoot live animal births.

At the National Cathedral in Washington, D. C. there is a Darth Vader gargoyle. Wait, what?

One entrepreneur has discovered a way to recycle used chopsticks.

Speaking of entrepreneurs, check out London's smallest coffee shop.

How America's first female detective foiled a plot to kill President Abraham Lincoln.

Betty Crocker is synonymous with baking. But it was the women of the test kitchens that helped build i into the successful brand it is today.

For fans of The Twilight Zone, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" is considered one of the series' best episodes. Guest star William Shatner recently shared why the episode felt so claustrophobic.

I will admit that although i have read a number of Agatha Christie's books I hadn't considered mch a Christian writer she was until I read this article.

How food plays such an important role in the novels of Dorothy L. Sayers.

A story that starts with a grandfather's tale leads a writer in search of the truth. Sometimes the journey is far more interesting that the destination. 

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Weekend Links 2-26-22

 Sorry for the long absence. The last few weeks have been a bit crazy. Though I haven't been posting I have been accumulating links of interest for you to enjoy below. Given the recent events in the news perhaps it is good to have a distraction.

There's a saying that you can't con an honest man. That hasn't stopped some from trying, though. Here are some of the most elaborate cons ever undertaken. Fair warning: a couple of these are kind of gross. 

How a John Ford western inspired Citizen Kane. Now I need to go watch both movies again. 

Heinz is synonymous with the number 57 thanks to some very clever marketing.

The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia is featuring a new immersive Harry Potter exhibition. Something tells me it will be very popular.

Magpie Murders has just premiered on BritBox in the UK and wlll air on PBS this summer in the US. Here's a review of the series. Author Anthony Horowitz says it's the first time he's gotten a TV adaptation right. Plus, a peek behind the scenes.

The best Agatha Christi novels, according to the Queen of Crime herself. Related: her one novel that revolutionized crime fiction. Her books also represent a deep moral structure primarily a firm belief in good and evil. Although her novels are frequently adapted for film and television, her genius gets lost in translation.

What makes a great mystery? It's not just the puzzles but the characters.

The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California is a must-see tourist attraction thanks in large part to Harry Houdini.

Uncovering the darker side of Jane Austen's novels.

Mi5 is know as part of Britain's Secret Service. However, their Instagram account reveals some of their secrets.

How All Creatures Great and Small took US audiences by storm.

The connection between the term gaslighting and Hollywood.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Weekend Links 1-28-22

 We're bracing for more winter weather here where I live. Between the weather and the continuing lockout of Major League Baseball it seems like spring will never arrive. We must not lose hope. Better days are ahead. In the meantime, here are a few items of interest for your weekend reading. 

One thing the South is known for is barbecue. One group is trying to assemble the oral histories of pitmasters before it is too late.

A popular pastime in England is to be a detectorist. You never know what treasures you will uncover.

Cold case solved? A team of historians believe they have figured out who betrayed Anne Frank's family to the Nazis during World War II.

While we are on the subject of World War II, check out some of the ingenious methods used by British Intelligence to help prisoners of war escape. 

Confessions of a Scrabble enthusiast.

More word games: why Wordle went viral.  I confess that I am hooked. Related: the creator shares the secrets of the online sensation.

Before there was the internet, there  was Zoom, the first viral kid's TV show. Hard to believe that it has been 50 years since it first went on  the air. 

I confess that I am a practioner of Tsundoku.

If you did need to cull your library, here are some helpful tips.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Weekend Links 1-15-21

 Happy long holiday weekend. We're bracing for a winter storm this weekend. However, there's part of me that's a little skeptical of dire predictions of bad weather. The last storm we were supposed to have turned out to be nothing of consequence. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, here are a few links of interest for your weekend reading. 

All Creatures Great and Small has just started airing season two in the U. S. and it is the perfect balm for these difficult times. If you are interested in James Herriott's original books, here is the order in which you should read them.

H. A. Rey is best known for his Curious George books, but he also had a keen interest in astronomy. The illustrations featured in this article are wonderful. 

This is a good reminder what an excellent series Foyle's War was to watch. Here is what one writer learned from rewatching the series.

I am really looking forward to this: the trailer for the BritBox series Magpie Murders is out and it looks fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed the book so I am pumped to watch this when it comes out next month. 

The annual elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame are due to be announced in a couple of weeks. One fan's attempt to track the voting has forever altered the election process. Personally, I like seeing how the votes are tracking before the announcement is made. 

I agree with this: you should listen to CDs in their entirety.

Why The Princess Bride is such a great movie.

For some reason I think that "office supplies" means something different in Manchester.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Weekend Links 1-8-22

 I don't know about you, but I still can't get used to writing out 2022. We are already a week into the new year and it doesn't feel much like a new year yet. Hopefully that will change in the coming weeks. 

Here are some links of interest for your weekend reading:

New journals have been discovered of the only man to eyewitness the death of two presidents. His writings provide fascinating insight into this period of American history.

The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson is a non-fiction book that reads like a thriller. It also happens to be a favorite of mine. Now the book is being turned into a television series and I am intrigued. 

This week marked J. R. R. Tolkein's 130th birthday and while I have never read any of his works, I certainly appreciate that  he was a literary giant. For example, take a look at his refusal to work with Nazi-leaning publishers in Germany in 1938. I also didn't know that Tolkein was quite the prankster.

I'm not sure why i was unaware that this existed until this week but it has been playing on repeat: Carole King and James Taylor Live at the Troubador. Related: the stories behind some of their biggest hits.

Photo essay: Historic movie theaters that have been reused for other purposes.

Answering the important questions; what's the difference between yellow cheese and white cheese?

How potato chips became our favorite snack.

This upcoming podcast looks very interesting particularly if you are a fan of Jane Austen's novels.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Weekend Links 12-31-21

Happy New Year! Here is a collection of fun links for your New Year's weekend.

With the calendar turning over to 2022, a whole bunch of books are entering the public domain. The entire list is here.

Not guilty after all? New research may have exonerated King Richard III.

Anthony Horowitz discusses the inspiration and process for writing Alex Rider.

Cary Grant almost didn't star in North By Northwest. He managed to work out a pretty good deal for himself in the end.

Apparently sausage vending machines are popular in Germany. I'd certainly give them a try.

Elly Griffiths on why crime fiction and the theater world go hand in hand.

Film noir is the genre that Hollywood first resisted and then eventually embraced.

I somehow missed that Cheez-Its turned 100 this year.

Joel Miller offers some great advice on how to read more books.

The true story of one of the worst baseball teams of all time. And it is not the 1962 New York Mets.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Weekend Links - Christmas Edition

 First, sorry to have been absent for so long here. As you can imagine, it's been a busy month. Maybe 2022 will have more consistent blogging. We'll see. It all depends on what interesting stuff I find. 

Second, this post is going up earlier than usual. Normally I would post on Fridays but I am posting a day early due to the long holiday weekend. Hope that you and yours have a wonderful holiday season.

Now onto the links of interest:

This is the time of year when Christmas movies are everywhere on television. I suppose that's why I found this article about two entertainment writers trying to pitch a Christmas movie so fascinating. 

This time of year the soundtrack from A Charlie Brown Christmas is on repeat at our house. Here's the story about how jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi became involved in the project. Added bonus: Christmas Time Is Here sung by three members of the original choir.

How to give your Amazon Echo a Santa Claus voice. Plus other fun things to say to Alexa. 

Season 2 of Alex Rider is now available to stream and is just as good as the first season in my opinion. Here are some secrets of writing the series from creator Anthony Horowitz. 

I somehow missed this story when it was first published earlier this year: Why it is nearly impossible to own an original Bob Ross painting.  It actually makes a lot of sense. 

A new TV series focusing on the real-life disappearance of Agatha Christie is in the works. I am intrigued. Related: why Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. 

Writers, take note: one of the most famous short stories in all of literature was written in one day

There may not be baseball news right now due to the lockout but that doesn't necessarily mean we don't have baseball-related items to discuss. For example, places to go in every state and Ontario on your baseball road trip. 

Joe Posnanski ruminates on ten players (plus Pete Rose) that aren't in the Hall of Fame. 

I love lists like this: the 100 best baseball books of all time. There are quite a few great titles on this list. 

An appreciation of Mel Brooks' and Buck Henry's classic spy spoof Get Smart. Speaking of Mel Brooks, he has just published his memoir and talks at length about love and losing close friends. 

Spy gadgets might seem like the stuff of James Bond but Q Branch is based on an actual department within the British Secret Service. 

Take a tour through Winston Churchill's secret World War II bunker. 

Ethel Lina White inspired no less than Alfred Hitchcock. Now some are working to restore her literary legacy. 

Take a peek at the literary puzzle so difficult that only four people have successfully solved it. 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Weekend Links 11-26-21

It's a holiday weekend edition of the links. Enjoy these articles while relaxing this weekend. 

Before he became famous for creating Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne wrote a murder mystery. An appreciation of his one any only mystery novel, The Red House Mystery.

While we are on the subject of mysteries, here is a list of the 101 best mysteries of all time. The interesting thing about this list is that only one novel is allowed per author which makes for a much more fascinating list. 

Mystery solved: why Josephine Tey didn't join the Detection Club. Hint: it was not for a lack of an invitation.

A couple of Peanuts related items. First, how a particular decade was the strip's best decade and helped define the characters for the ages. 

Next, Ann Patchett on how Snoopy inspired her to become a writer

The second season of Snoopy in Space has just premiered on Apple + and our favorite beagle is also really being launched into space. 

How Agatha Christie pursued her love for archaeology while in the Middle East. 

Ranking the 20 best film noirs. There are a lot of great films on this list. 

A cult classic television show is set to get a big screen reboot. I am really excited to see how this turns out. 

Fifty years since D. B. Cooper's infamous hijacking the case remains unsolved. But for some, the search for clues continues. 

Ranking the best Calvin and Hobbes anthologies. Any of these would be worth picking up. 

Saturday, November 06, 2021

Weekend Links 11-6-21

 Welcome to the first weekend of November. Where has the year gone? At least enjoy that extra hour of sleep tonight. Alternatively, you can read the assortment of articles I have assembled below.

The long, strange history of what is arguably the worst sentence in the history of English literature. 

I had no idea that a restaurant in Manchester, New Hampshire lays claim to the invention of the chicken tender. The Manchester Fisher Cats, the local minor league baseball team, will pay tribute to the city's claim to fame. If you ever do visit, try staying at the Hilton Garden Inn which is situated just beyond the centerfield fence of the ballpark.

It is difficult imagining an attempt to rank the 100 best baseball players of all time. Joe Posnanski did and has a new book out containing the entire list. 

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City has been getting more attention lately thanks in part to this USA Today profile of its president, Bob Kendrick. With the additional press hopefully Negro League legends Buck O'Neil and John Donaldson might earn Hall of Fame election next month. Related: Negro League stars every baseball fan should know. 

One more baseball related story before we move on. Some Chicago Cubs fans might have noticed while watching telecasts of their home games four guys dressed as members of the 1908 World Champion Cubs. Here's the story behind the costumes. 

Over at CrimeReads, Olivia Rutigliano argues it is time to redeem Dr. Watson. It would be interesting for Dr. Watson to be portrayed in film more like he was written.

Ranking every Scooby Doo series from worst to best. I go with the original every time. 

Where to find the most mysterious graves in the United States. 

Take a tour of the most brilliant bookshops in the world. Some of these are absolutely stunning. 

Before the internet and DVD bonus features fans had to rely on books for inside information on their favorite movies. Meet the man who authored several editions of the James Bond bible. 

You never know what hidden secrets you will find in old houses. 

Caroline Crampton, hostess of my favorite podcast Shedunnit, offers her recommendations for the five best mystery novels set during World War II. 

Book review: Murder Isn't Easy: The Forensics of Agatha Christie. It looks very interesting. 

Friday, October 29, 2021

Weekend Links 10-29-21

 Happy Halloween weekend! Hope your weekend is filled with treats. Here is an abundance of fun stories for your weekend reading. Personally, my weekend will likely be taken up with episodes of This is a Robbery: The World's Biggest Art Heist on Netflix. I am watching the first episode as I am writing this post and it is a gripping documentary.

While we are on the subject of art, this is a fascinating story: while a  painting was sent out for routine maintenance another complete painting by the same artist was found underneath.

Want to get away? Check out these stunning airport landings. It's quite an amazing photo gallery. 

I'm not really sure that this was something I needed to know existed and so far I haven't watched it but I am mildly curious: a parody of Bohemian Rhapsody done by cats. 

The World Series started earlier this week. While I am not watching since I don't have a rooting interest in either team I have in past years listened to the Series on the radio. It's been a hundred years since the first radio broadcast of baseball and it still remains the best sport to listen to on the radio. 

The lasting legacy of Shirley Jackson's fiction. Related: where to start with Shirley Jackson's books. 

The influence of The War of the Worlds and its infamous radio broadcast.

I can think of easier and healthier ways to save money: man goes to Six Flags every day just for the food. He really does save money, too. 

Series 2 of Alex Rider premieres on IMDBtv on December 3rd and it looks like it will be spectacular

A company that makes immersive crime fiction role playing games has a new game honoring Agatha Christie.

I'm always interested to know what authors like to read. Here are Jeffrey Archer's five favorite mystery novels.

The Detection Club was founded by a group of British Mystery writers in the early 1930s. In the early days they embraced the concept of "fair play" meaning that all the information should be available to the reader to be able to solve the crime. But the Detection Club faced a crisis in the mid 20th century when debates grew among members whether "fair play" was no longer needed. 

Otto Penzler shares how he made money out of mysteries. Also from Otto Penzler: how mysteries were born in the Victorian Era. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Weekend Links 10-15-21

It is Friday which means it is time for another roundup of interesting links. Not a whole lot to offer this week but perhaps at least a few of these will be of interest.

When it comes to themed hotels, no one does it quite like Disney. Their latest addition to the Walt Disney World resort is sure to satisfy any Star Wars fan (assuming you can afford it). Plus, while you are there, you can train to be a Jedi!

Season 2 of All Creatures Great and Small is not scheduled to air in the US until January 2022 but season 3 has already been announced. Faster, please.

Korean influence on culture is everywhere from music to television shows to the Oxford English Dictionary. 

How a painting once owned by Frank Sinatra inspired a classic television show. 

Joni Mitchell has a new retrospective album releasing soon and it contains a live recording with James Taylor in London in 1970 which is absolutely beautiful. 

Olivia Rutigliano offers praise for the classic Disney mystery The Great Mouse Detective.

Book excerpt: How British and American intelligence agencies almost merged at the outset of the Cold War and the Soviet mole who was in the middle of it all. 

Friday, October 08, 2021

Weekend Links 10-8-21

 Happy weekend everyone! Here is an assortment of interesting reading for your enjoyment.

Here are a few fascinating facts about We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I have it in my rather voluminous TBR pile. 

The true history of the iconic Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses. 

Book excerpt: In an excerpt from his new book Taste: My Life Through Food,  Stanley Tucci shares how Julia Child changed his life. 

Daniel Craig makes his last appearance as James Bond in No Time To Die which opened in theaters in the U. S. this week. Here he shares some secrets from his time as the most famous secret agent in the world. 

Wait, what? Alfred Hitchcock almost directed a James Bond film.  Though it did not happen he did have an impact on the series. 

While we are on the subject, have you ever thought of James Bond as a cowboy? Here are a few Bond actors who also made appearances in Westerns. 

Sometimes you have no idea what treasures you will run across at a garage sale. Including moon rocks. 

Before you tackle that next classic novel, perhaps you should check out this article on how to read hard books. 

A couple of things you need to know before clicking through on this last story. First, Joe Posnanski is one of the best sportswriters (no, writers) working today. Second, Buck O'Neil, who passed away 15 years ago this week, deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Third, Joe Posnanski and Buck O'Neil were very close friends. Posnanski's book The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America is a terrific read. Finally, this obituary that Posnanski wrote about O'Neil is one of the most beautiful tributes you will ever read. The fact that he wrote it under such a tight deadline (which he explains in the article) makes it all the more impressive. 

Friday, October 01, 2021

Weekend Links 10-1-21

 We are back after an unexpected week off. I had every intention of posting last week but stories were a little scarce. It honestly would not have been much of a post. So I saved everything and then waited to include it in a more robust post this week. I hope you enjoy!

If you are of a certain age like me you recall fondly The Muppet Show. For those not familiar with the show, it was a weekly variety show that would feature a wide range of guest stars alongside Muppet performers. If you have Disney Plus you can check it out there. Here are nine iconic guest appearances from the show (video clips included). 

In 1915, two of P. G. Wodehouse's most beloved characters, Jeeves and Wooster, made their first appearance in print. You can read their debut story here and more about that first tale here.  Here's the opening to the story which in and of itself proves that Wodehouse was a master wordsmith:

She sprang it on me before breakfast. There in seven words you have a complete character sketch of my Aunt Agatha. I could go on indefinitely about brutality and lack of consideration. I merely say that she routed me out of bed to listen to her painful story somewhere in the small hours. It can't have been half past eleven when Jeeves, my man, woke me out of the dreamless and broke the news:

'Mrs Gregson to see you, sir.'

I thought she must be walking in her sleep, but I crawled out of bed and got into a dressing-gown. I knew Aunt Agatha well enough to know that, if she had come to see me, she was going to see me. That's the sort of woman she is.

This is welcome news: The Mysterious Benedict Society will return for season two. 

I am a frequent reader of CrimeReads and among their many writers one of my favorites is Olivia Rutigliano. Here are two terrific essays of hers for your reading pleasure. First, an appreciation of the all too short lived mystery series Pushing Daisies. Second, in honor of the premiere of the latest James Bond film No Time to Die, she ranks all of the previous Bond movies. 

One of the things the Bond films are known for are their exotic locations and No Time to Die is no different. Here's a look at some of the amazing places they have filmed over the years

When it comes to standup comedy, few people are funnier than Jim Gaffigan. In this interview he discusses faith, family, and his career. 

It has been 100 years since Alfred Hitchcock first entered the film industry but his impact on popular culture is still felt to this day. 

Calvin and Hobbes is one of the greatest (and funniest) comic strips of all times. It is also chock full of literary references. 

The best Agatha Christie books according to Goodreads ratings. 

Ever dream of living like a king or queen? Here are ten actual palaces that you can stay in.

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.