Just got word that Floyd Salas died Sunday the 17th at the age of 90. Tattoo the Wicked Cross, baby.
His companion of 38 years, Claire Ortalda, did the obit for Berkleyside — an excellent piece of writing, rounding up the major things you might need to know about Floyd. I don’t think you will find a better summation.
This morning Brian Leno hit me with a curiosity that could appeal to Lovecraft fans everywhere, an inimitable rendering of a pivotal moment in “The Call of Cthulhu” (at least, I’m fairly confident that’s the mise–en–scène for this tableau).
“Went through some more junk this morning,” Brian says, “and found this original O. (Oscar) G. Estes, Jr. drawing.
“I’m going to spend some time figuring out where it appeared, if it did appear.
“Nice artwork, looks like some guys are having trouble with a big chicken.
It’s been a few months since Jeopardy! dipped into the Hammett clew pile, a sprawling mass of info and allusion that might well go on forever.
On Monday October 11, they offered in the Double Jeopardy round a $400 clew, in the category National Literary Titles:
A detective is hired to track down the missing sister of the secretive Miss Wonderly at the beginning of this hard-boiled novel.
Contestant Jonathan Fisher buzzed in and said, “What is The Maltese Falcon?”
Now, did the sudden reappearance of Hammett on the Jeopardy! stage give Fisher just the edge he needed to unseat 38-day champion Matt Amodio? A little noir mojo?
That’s what happened, in any event. I held back on mentioning it because in my experience many of the Giant Killers only win for that one game, or sometimes carry a second. I wanted to see if Fisher would be a flash-in-the-pan, and so far he’s held down the champeenship for three games.
Ruber did other interesting books, as well. Out of all the titles he was involved with, the tribute to the great Chicago bookman Vincent Starrett, The Last Bookman, is my personal favorite. Plus, as often happens, Sherlock Holmes gets dragged in from over on Baker Street. Some pastiche. Some poetry.
Just got a note from crime writer Mark Coggins rounding up some stuff about the late Bill Arney on Twitter. One of the links offers Bill reading something by Mark on KQED. I bet there’s a lot of Bill’s voice work scattered around the web — remember that episode of The Fog Files on KFOG that profiled Bill? It was up online for years.
I think moreso than his role as the Voice of Noir, long term Bill will be remembered as the guy who championed the Hammett apartment and restored it to its historic glory. Put them together, though, and you’ve got a great legacy.
Starrett ultimately had more book collections of such material see print, but given all the blurbs in EQMM I suppose Dannay may have done equal wordage or more — but then not all of Starrett’s many newspaper columns have been collected.
Thomas Burchfield just put up an article on the late great Bill Arney — especially useful because it first appeared in 2009 and contains lots of info on Bill’s movements in San Francisco. I’d almost forgotten the breakup with a girlfriend that spurred him to rent the Sam Spade apartment in 891 Post.
Also, some of the background enabled me to fact-check the outline of my hanging out drinking with Bill. I first met him in 1982 when he came out on the Hammett Tour, and I’m pretty sure he got in on a few meetings of The Maltese Falcon Society, which ended in 1986. However many he checked in on, and it wasn’t many, that period wasn’t the time that we really tied in.
No, we became the Hammett Cult in San Francisco a little over eleven years later, when Bill rented the Spade apartment in 1993. It took him another year or so to look out his windows and see a Hammett Tour group assembled in front of The House of Fans across Post Street. And the rest is history.
(In theory, Bill ought to have been able to track me down sooner, but in one of my classic lines delivered in the Twenty-Two-Eleven Club — when someone asked if Bill was also a detective because he lived in the Spade apartment: “Bill a detective? He doesn’t even understand what he’s been told.” The context for the remark is gone, but it ranked as one of Bill’s favorites. He quoted it for years.)
Drop over to the Burchfield piece and put some puzzle pieces together.
It’s always Autograph Hound Super-Sunday in The House of Leno.
Today Brian is keeping it light, showing off a couple of items related to the pulp hero The Avenger — The Avenger, not as big as Doc Savage or The Shadow, but typically some pulp mavens prefer his adventures to those of his bestselling compatriots.
Using his new smart phone, Leno gets a little fancy, catching his image in the mirror of the framed artwork — and even providing a shadowy glimpse of his famed library.
Self portrait of an old grizzled bastard taking a picture of his signed Peter Caras print of The Avenger.
Ordered a few years back, Caras added a little drawing that can be seen, bottom right. Post office beat the hell out of it but I’ve gotten it straightened out a bit. Only five like it and mine is #5.
And also, the John Hancock of The Avenger writer, Paul Ernst. Of course he also wrote Dr. Satan for Weird Tales.
Got a note from Mike Humbert last night to inform me that Bill Arney died yesterday morning, September 28 2021.
As of now, I don’t know what got him. I’m kicking around tons of favorite memories to toss out later with various In Memoriams.
Bill can be seen above, on the left, regaling a tour that stopped into the Sam Spade apartment in 891 Post when he was the tenant — the apartment where Dashiell Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon, and where Spade lives in the course of the novel.
In 1977 Don Herron began leading The Dashiell Hammett Tour, now the longest-running literary tour in the nation. On this site you’ll find information on current walks — dates, where to meet, arranging tours by appointment — plus a hard-boiled blog with news, reviews of books and film, and a dash of noir.