Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Weird Tales ghost story: “Professor Kate” by Margaret St Clair

This time of year my mind turns to ghost stories.

“Professor Kate” was written by Margaret St Clair, a prolific author working in the pulp magazines, mainly science fiction and weird fiction. She lived with her husband in Berkeley, California, and they became Wiccans. Both she and her husband were successful writers, and of Margaret author Ramsey Campbell has said, “she is yet to be fully appreciated.”

This short tale is from Weird Tales, January 1951. I found the scans in the Internet Archive. The contents were originally copyright © 1950 Weird Tales.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The heaviest heavy — the brief, brilliant movie career of Laird Cregar

Laird Cregar had a three-year career in Hollywood during the World War II years. He was a large man, 6'3" tall and weighing over 300 pounds. He was noticed in his first part, and soon became known for his villainous roles.

As you will read in this article by Barbara G. Jackson, Cregar was not satisfied with being the bad guy, and went on several crash diets to slim down for more traditional leading roles. Alas. It was the dieting that killed him. (Remind me to show this article to my doctor next time she suggests I "lose a few pounds.")

The article appeared in Monster Fantasy #3, August 1975, and is Copyright © Mayfair Publications, Inc.

Probably Cregar’s most famous role is that of Jack the Ripper in The Lodger. The full movie is available on YouTube. As always, YouTube giveth and YouTube can taketh away. If you encounter a black screen, well, sorry about that, but it is not my fault. You might be able to find it from other sources, including DVD.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Age catches up

Yesterday I helped my neighbor cut down some trees and trim some bushes. The trees we cut down were on my side of the fence, but the branches were growing over his roof. So I agreed to help take them out.

When we were done I told him I was feeling every day of my age. I am younger than him, but not by much. He's 73 and I have yet to crack 70. Barring a heart attack from heavy labor I might just make it. I went inside my house, took a couple of Aleve and assumed a supine position on my couch. I picked up a book to read: THE QUESTIONABLE MAD, one of dozens of paperbacks with reprints from old issues of MAD. Flipping the pages I came upon a feature I am very fond of, “If Comic Strip Characters Were as Old as Their Comic Strips." In 1962 when I read it in MAD #72, I was a lad of 15.

So the satire made me laugh, as it always does when I see it. I believe my laughing is now more from familiarity with the aging experience. Obviously when I was 15 it was funny that comic strip characters who never aged would become old. But me becoming old was never considered. I never saw myself as — yeccccch! — a senior citizen. And yet, here I am.

Written by Earle Doud, illustrated by Wallace Wood. Copyright © 1962, 1967 E.C. Publications, Inc.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Life Magazine: four great American artists of the 1930s

Since its beginning in 1936, Life magazine was an ongoing chronicle of American life, including popular culture. They also gave dignity to fine artists of their time by giving them not only space, but rare color pages. Color pages in magazines in the 1930s were very rare, so it put special emphasis on the artwork.

I found these articles on artists published within a very short span of time in 1937, in four issues published in October and November.

Contents of this posting are taken from scanned editions of Life at Google Books.

John McCrady (1911-1968). An artist from the South, he did a lot of paintings featuring African-Americans. McCrady studied under Thomas Hart Benson, an artist whose work was hugely influential. 

James Daugherty (1884-1974). Daugherty became a Newbury and Caldecott winner with his work in children’s books.

Rockwell Kent (1882-1971) was a popular illustrator and printmaker.

Paul Sample (1896-1974). Sample learned to paint after being hospitalized for tuberculosis.