Two-Gun Bob: Gobbett on the Block

No doubt big ticket, because Ed Gobbett was a big time collector, so open your wallets if you want in on the sale of his pulps and other treasures.

But who knows, you might get lucky — and if you’re satisfied with a catalog Adventure House offers a full-color look-behind-the-scenes for $20ish. Later a PDF version will be available gratis.

While his trove contained tons of pulps, I always think of his library as Robert E. Howard-centric. He had more than one copy of REH’s first book from 1937, the posthumous A Gent from Bear Creek. He tracked down the wood-pulp mags where REH saw print in his lifetime.

Gobbett was even in on my first big splash into the Howardian litcrit pond, when the essay “Conan vs. Conantics” showed up in the zine REH: Two-Gun Raconteur in 1976. The next issue saw me grappling with L. Sprague de Camp in the letters column, plus a very few other people chipped in. Gobbett sided with me.

Without looking it up, back then I believe Ed was going by the name Dale Gobbett, but no question it was the same Gobbett.

In memoriam, then, for a guy who had my back.

Posted in News, REH | Tagged , , , , , |

Rediscovered: At Last, “Roadhouse Benny” Enigma Explained

Remember back in 2012 when a bunch of us heard the name Jack Benny and “wireless hero” during a screening of Roadhouse Nights from 1930? Only problem was that Jackson wasn’t supposed to be on the radio before 1932.

In 2014 we got a hint that Benny may have logged some radio hours by 1929.

But still, the reference remained inexplicable.

Curiosity here at Up and Down These Mean Streets never sleeps (it has nothing, however, against profound napping), so when The Virtual Jack Benny Convention streamed a few weekends back we sent in our Jack Benny Research Team to ask the tough questions. I even caught some of the action. The interview with Dennis Devine — son of Andy Devine — was especially interesting (he does a great voice impression of The Duke).

The answer showed up afterwards on the Facebook page for the International Jack Benny Fan Club.

Zach Eastman put it out there and got responses from Don M. Yowp and Hope Sears. Let’s quote Yowp:

Hello, all. Zach sent me a note asking if I had any clue about a Ben Hecht script reference to Jack Benny as “The Wireless Hero.”

I did (not a lot) of digging and it would appear Hecht was referring to Jack Binns. He was nicknamed “The Wireless Hero” in 1909. He was the wireless operator on the Steamship Republic that was hit by another ship. He stuck at the wireless for 48 hours, guiding rescue ships and saving the lives of the passengers. That made him a celebrity for many years.

Yeah, I’m satisfied that’s the answer. Obviously none of us movie-goers a century later had heard of Binns, so our minds tricked us into subbing in “Benny” in his place.

Pretty cool, though. Got to love history. And now I know Jack Binns, Wireless Hero.

Posted in Film, News | Tagged , , , , , , |

Rediscovered: Don Webb, in for the Memorial Moment

Just noticed that today Don Webb tossed up a review of A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos on Amazon. He explains why he suddenly covers John D. Haefele’s previous book at the end:

August Derleth was an unimaginative but professional horror writer. He was a great editor (producing topnotch anthologies of horror, SF and poetry). He is a very underrated regional novelist. And he is a small press superhero. In the micro-world of Lovecraftian criticism it is fashionable to deride Derleth for his mediocre horror writing (although he had a couple of strong tales) and particularly his “posthumous collaborations” — seeing him as a vampire feeding off of Lovecraft’s fame. This book shows the opposite — by strategically keeping his press alive he CREATED most of Lovecraft’s fame and got the money to publish five volumes of HPL’s letters and even his poetry. The book could have been improved by a history of SF small presses — showing how remarkable it was to keep a small press alive. Likewise more material on how Derleth effected the horror world by finding and encouraging such writers as Ramsey Campbell and the influence of his topnotch anthologies on SF and H writing worlds would have been great. Of course that would be a L O N G book. Uncle Don says, “Buy this!” Submitted on February 24 — August Derleth’s birthday.

All that stuff he’d like to see, the history of the genre small presses (especially, I presume, in the bleak make-or-break decade of the 1950s) — hey, that’s the stuff Haefele is slaving over now for his upcoming August Derleth of Arkham House.

Now that he’s got the monumental Lovecraft: The Great Tales out of the way.

Posted in Lit, News | Tagged , , , |

Rediscovered: Tombstoning Saunders

I notice a post up today by Brian Murphy, announcing that fans raised funds for a grave marker and memorial for the unmarked resting place of Sword-and-Sorcery writer Charles R. Saunders.

Since I stumbled into some oblique coverage of Saunders recently, I redirect those interested to the news.

I do wonder how Saunders will fare, long-term, in the posthumous fame department. Will he be forgotten like the majority of writers? Will he eventually gain enough readers he escapes the inner circle of fans that keep his name going today?

In that same boat, in that same era, Karl Edward Wagner got much more play in the fantasy marketplace than Saunders. He wasn’t a top bestseller, but he was without question a Big Name. And those of us interested have seen his rep fade steadily away. A documentary film titled The Last Wolf: Karl Edward Wagner is coming up. Might spark a revival. Might be just another blip before the flatline.

Even if the grave is marked, do people seek it out to leave totemic offerings?

Posted in Lit, News | Tagged , , , , |

Rediscovered: The Starrett Bookplates

Brian Leno was poking around the web, as he often does, and ran across a blog post with a history and gallery of the bookplates of the great Chicago bookman Vincent Starrett.

I’ve got one or two books from his library with plates, but it’s daunting. Do you realize if you have enough time for searching around and loot to shell out, you could buy more books from Starrett’s library than you have right now in your own library?

As with my Machen collection, my Starrett holdings are somewhat ragtag, but I’ve got several signed or inscribed.

Now that I am almost done rereading parts of the monumental Lovecraft: The Great Tales by Haefele maybe I’ll have time to delve deeper into the rest of the blog about Starrett. His books-about-books are some of my faves, and surely inform my suggestions in Haefele’s study.

Literature just as literature is fine, but some of us prefer literature as encountered in actual books of the moment. The stories told as they are written, in a writer’s life.

Posted in Lit | Tagged , , |

Hammett: Blue Bloods Blurb

Both Evan Lewis and Brian Wallace alerted me to a major Hammett/Falcon cameo in the cop show Blue Bloods.

“Friday night, February 12, 2021,” Brian reported. “Season 11, Episode 7 — ‘In Too Deep.’
Alison Gable (Erin Neufer) is introduced to viewers as a childhood friend of Sgt Jamie Reagan.

“She is a bit of a nerd and has a true crime podcast called ‘Murder in Manhattan.’ 

“Allison is convinced that she has single-handedly solved a cold case murder. 

“In discussing the case with the New York City officials in the District Attorneys office, the topic of Dashiell Hammett comes up and Alison is asked if she knows who he is. She not only mentions Sam Spade and The Maltese Falcon but that Sam Spade appears in four short stories.

“I thought, ‘What? That can’t be correct.’ So I checked and, of course, it’s true. A total embarrassment to me because up until yesterday, I thought Sam Spade only appeared in The Maltese Falcon.”

Brian — dude! I don’t know how a major Mean Streets gumshoe didn’t know about the Spade shorts — but let me add that the info that there are four of them is kind of new, since the fourth only showed up in the 2013 collection The Hunter and Other Stories.

Evan said, “Here’s one for your ongoing TV watch.”

Just a point of info: the only tube I’ve been tracking Hammett on would be Jeopardy!, but Evan might recall that time I spotted the falcon statue in a Hawkman sex scene. I heard some glancing ref to Hammett on a show the other night, but didn’t bother taking a note.

The best Hammett/Falcon ref I spotted recently showed up in Season 3 of the Prime crime comedy Get Shorty, where what is supposed to be an original movie prop gets dropped by some mook and breaks. Because its plaster. (I think the idea that original 1941 Bogie flick used plaster props is being pushed so that plaster statues can be sold to monied mooks who don’t know any better. The original props are lead, with a bronze patina. I’ve seen two in person, so far.)

Evan’s recap: “On this week’s episode of Blue Bloods, somebody mentions Sam Spade.

“A character says, ‘Just so you know, Sam Spade was a fictional character.’

“Another character, trying to show off, continues, ‘Created by Dashiell Hammett in the 1930s for the novel The Maltese Falcon, who then appeared in four subsequent short stories and six film adaptations.’

“No one corrected her. The others in the room just seemed awestruck at her knowledge of the subject.”

I know where they get the four short stories, but not the six movies (unless Evan heard it wrong, or they’re confusing Sammie with the six in the Nick and Nora series).

“The writer credited for this episode is Daniel Truly,” Evan added, “who is also one of the many executive producers of the show.”

Posted in Dash, Film, News | Tagged , , , , , , |

Hammett: Pick-Up on Post Street

Sitting in his rooms in 891 Post Street in San Francisco one of the star writers for the wood-pulp Black Mask cooked up a yarn that would make him the name to conjure with for closing in on a century — and counting.

A little love story and a murder mystery, noir before noir was cool.

Alfred A. Knopf publishers released the first edition of that novel on Valentine’s Day 1930.

The Maltese Falcon.

By Dashiell Hammett.

Ninety-one years ago today.

Posted in Dash, Frisco | Tagged , , |

Hammett: The Jeopardy! Roundup

For fun I’ve been keeping track of the times Hammett or something to do with Hammett (i.e. Sam Spade or Lillian Hellman) popped up on the game show Jeopardy!

Kind of a marker of the cultural zeitgeist.

Now that the classic Alex Trebek era is over, maybe I’ll stop (or won’t feel a twinge of remorse if I miss one), because you can access and search all their archives.

I had my Jeopardy! research team comb those archives and under Hammett were located no less than 68 mentions of Hammett in the clews or responses, plus 2 in the Final Jeopardy shoot-out for a total of 70.

For mentions of Sam Spade — on his own, no ref to Hammett — no less than 42, plus 1 in the Final.

Total Hammett or Sam Spade: 110 + 3 Final (113 total).

But also (not counted in the 113 total):

10 times Hammett was the wrong answer.

8 times (including one Final) Sam Spade was the wrong answer.

And among the flood tide of Hammett-related items of course you’ll find the one about me and the tour in San Francisco, which I’ve mentioned in various editions of the Hammett Tour book — I never saw that episode, only had people tell me roughly what was said. You’ll find that one at the bottom of the Double Jeopardy round, on the left.

Posted in Dash, Tour | Tagged , , , |

Rediscovered: Not for Resale — and Definitely for Sale

And John D. Haefele, Kid Protégé, rides again!

If you’re of the Lovecraftian ilk, his litcrit magnum opus awaits you on Amazon.

Shown here are a couple of shots of the first proof version (the one without the photos) with the snazzy Not for Resale banner.

Some slight differences from the final finished copy, for those who enjoy a peek behind the scenes.

Posted in Lit, News | Tagged |

Rediscovered: Exploring the Archives

I’ve got a feeling that people will begin swarming into the blog archives in the next few weeks, and my hunch is they’ll be doing it to find out more about the activities of my Kid Protégé John D. Haefele over the last few years.

Maybe more a premonition than a hunch.

To target a topic like Haefele, just put his name in the Search Bar (top right, below the banner). Or click on his name in the Tag Cloud (right column, scrolling down past the various book covers). Some semblance of chronological order informs the summoned-up list of posts, but it’s not perfect.

You might begin to find yourself lost in the maze. One guy new to the site surfed in looking for some Hammett reference, and reported that he plunged into a rabbit warren it took him all day to get clear of — consider that your warning.

In my opinion the easiest way to handle the maze of the blog would be to go back to the first month it became operational. That is if the stuff covered all more or less interests you. If you only want to see specific refs to Hannes Bok or other, punch that name into the Search Bar.

More detailed and long-term topics, such as Robert E. Howard, or pure texts for Hammett, or Haefele and his Heretics, are sure to bog you down in the sheer number of mentions.

If you start from the first post for the new blog in January 2011, I honestly think reading the whole thing to date is no more difficult than just sitting down and reading a book (if you don’t allow yourself to be led too far astray by all the links). Just move ahead to the next post, and the next, and the next. You’ll be here in no time.

That way, you get the development of ideas, you’re in on the discoveries, you see the exact moment when Autograph Mania swept the site. Lots of cool stuff. A home movie of Hammett. Etc.

Reading up, you’ll quickly determine which posts you can immediately skip as of no interest to you — and the fact is that most posts are pretty short. A quick glance, and they’re done.

Sounds daunting, maybe, but I am confident it is an easier process than jumping around through the endless tunnels I have set out for the unwary.

Happy Haefele Hunting.

Posted in Lit, News | Tagged , |