Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

16 December: This Day in Mystery

The second Sherlock Holmes film starring Robert Downey opens in the United States.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Art Terminology: Acanthus and Altarpiece

Because a lot of mystery novels have charcters who talk about art...

Architecture: A prickly plant of the Mediterranean region with large, deeply cleft and scalloped leaves which are freely imitated on the capitals of the Corinthian and Composite orders and often used, in varying degrees of abstraction, to ornament moldings, brackets, friezes and so on.

Architecture: A painted or sculpted panel or shrine placed behind and above an altar, also called a "reredos" or "retable." 14th and 15th century altarpieces are often very complicated, consisting of several panels or separate groups of sculpture.

An altarpiece consisting of three panels is called a tryptych, when it has more than three panels it is called a "poylptych". Some altarpieces have a decorated base, or pedella, and have "shutters" or "wings" which can be opened to reveal a series of "transformations" or "stages" to reveal other paintings or sculptures. The shutters are usually painted in rather subdued colors on the outside - monochrome imitations of sculpture ("grisailles") being common in northern Europe - but when opened up for the feast days of the Church, they offer a brilliant and sumptuous display pf color.

From Abacus to Zeus, A Handbook of Art History
James Smith Pierce, 1977

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Art Terminology: Abacus and Abbey

Because many mystery books feature descriptions of artwork - from architecture to sculpture.

Architecture: The uppermost part of a capital, forming a slab on which the architrave rests.

Architecture: A monastery governed by an abbot. The church of an abbey is called an "abbey church" and is usually planned to allow for the special requirements of the monks such as a deep choir or many altars.

From Abacus to Zeus, A Handbook of Art History
James Smith Pierce, 1977

Friday, November 25, 2011

25 November: This Day in Mystery

25 November 1899
W.R. Burnett is born in Springfield, Ohio.

Burnett is the author of Little Caesar (1929), High Sierra (1940), and The Asphalt Jungle (1949).

25 November 1947

Out of the Past, the "definitive existential noir film" starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas is released.

25 November 1952
Agatha Christie's play The Mousetrap opens at the Ambassador Theatre in London, with Richard Attenborough and Shela Sim. The Mousetrap is still running today!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

24 November: This Day in Mystery

24 November 1908
Harry Kemelman, whose detective hero Rabbi David Small is acclaimed the best clerical sleuth since Father Brown, is born in Boston. Small assists police chief Hugh Lanagan in solving crimes that happen on a daily basis: Friday the Rabbi Slept Late (1964), Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red (1974).

24 November 1925
William F. Buckley Jr is born in New York City. Famed conservative commentator and editor of The National Review, Buckley also writes best-selling thrillers featuring Blackford Oakes, a Yale-educated CIA agent (Saving the Queen, 1976).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

23 November: This Day in Mystery

23 November 1887
Boris Karloff, christened William Henry Pratt, is born in Dulwich, England. Karloff, an ex-truckdriver, receives his first good reviews for his roles as crimonals in such early talkie crime melodramas as The Criminal Code (1931) before going on to become one of Hollywood's best-known actors after his performance as Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein, 1931.

23 November 1910
Wife murderer Dr. H. H. Crippen is executed at Pentonville prison in England.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

22 November: This Day in Mystery

22 November 1917
John Cleary is born in Sydney, Australia. He becomes a writer of suspense novels, and will win the 1974 Edgar for best novel for Peter's Pence, "an exciting heist yarn set in the Vatican." In it the Pope is kidnapped by a group of IRA extremists and ransomed for 15 million Deutsche marks.

Monday, November 21, 2011

21 November: This Day in Mystery

According to The Mystery Book of Days - Mysterious Press,, 1990, nothing mysterious at all happened on this day.

Will get back to posting Wednesday

Had some family issues to take care of...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

20 November: This Day in Mystery

20 November 1900
Chester Gould is born in Pawnee, Oklahoma. He will grow up to create Dick Tracy, in 1931. Gould figures that if real-life policemen couldn't put a stop to gangsters and bootleggers, he would create one that could. Gould's villains include Pruneface, BB Eyes, Flattop and Mumbles.

20 November 1926
British espionage novelist John Gardner (who writes James Bond novels after the death of Ian Fleming, as for example License Renewed in 1981), is born in Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, England. His The Garden of Weapons (1980) represents a more serious side of the author.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

19 November: This Day in Mystery

According to the Mystery Book of Days, The Mysterious Press, 1990, nothing at all mysterious happened on this day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

18 November: This Day in Mystery

According to the Mystery Book of Days, The Mysterious Press, 1990, nothing at all mysterious happened on this day.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

13 November: This Day in Mystery

13 November 1850
Robert Louis Stevenson is born in Edinburgh. He is the author of Treasure Island (1883) Kidnapped (1886), as well as crime books The Wrong Box (1889) and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886).

13 November 1877
Harvey J. O'Higgins is born on this date in London, Ontario. The first serious use of psychoanalytical deduction occurs in the works of Harvey J. O'Higgins, who is the author of Detective Duff Unravels It (1929).

13 November 1904
Vera Caspary, the author of Laura (1943), her first novel, is born in Chicago. (Otto Preminger's 1944 film classic stars Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price and Judith Anderson)
Vera Caspary (November 13, 1899 – June 13, 1987) was an American writer of novels, plays, screenplays, and short stories. Her best-known novel Laura was made into a highly successful movie. Though she claimed she was not a "real" mystery writer, her novels effectively merged women's quest for identity and love with murder plots. Independence is the key to her protagonists, with her novels revolving around women who are menaced, but who turn out to be neither victimized nor rescued damsels.

Following her father's death, the income from Caspary's writing was at times only just sufficient to support both herself and her mother, and during the Great Depression she became interested in Socialist causes. Caspary joined the Communist party under an alias, but not being totally committed and at odds with its code of secrecy, she claimed to have confined her activities to fund-raising and hosting meetings.

Caspary visited Russia in an attempt to confirm her beliefs, but nonetheless became disillusioned and wished to resign from the Party, although she continued to contribute money and support similar causes. She eventually married her lover and writing collaborator of six years, Isidor "Igee" Goldsmith; but despite this being a successful partnership, her Communist connections would later lead to her being "graylisted", temporarily yet significantly affecting their offers of work and income.

The couple split their time between Hollywood and Europe until Igee's death in 1964, after which Caspary remained in New York where she would write a further eight books.

* A Manual of Classic Dancing. (as Sergei Marinoff) Chicago: Sergei Marinoff School, 1922
* Ladies and Gents. NY: Grosset and Dunlap, 1929
* The White Girl. NY: Sears & Company, 1929
* Music in the street. NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 1930
* Thicker than Water. NY: Liveright, 1932
* Laura. Boston Houghton Mifflin Company, 1943
* Bedelia. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1945
* Stranger Than Truth. NY: Random House, 1946
* The Murder in the Stork Club. NY: AC. Black, 1946
* The Weeping And The Laughter. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1950
* Thelma. Boston: Little Brown, 1952
* False Face. London: W.H Allen, 1954
* Evvie. NY: Harper, 1960
* Bachelor in Paradise. NY: Dell, 1961
* A Chosen Sparrow. NY: Putnam, 1964
* The Man Who Loved His Wife. NY: Putnam, 1966
* The Husband. NY: Harpers, 1967
* The Rosecrest Cell. NY: Putnam, 1967
* Final Portrait. London: W.H. Allen, 1971
* Ruth. NY: Pocket, 1972
* Dreamers. NY: Simon and Schuster, 1975
* Elizabeth X. London: WH Allen, 1978
* The Secrets of Grown-Ups. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1979
* The Murder in the Stork Club and Other Mysteries. Norfolk, VA: Crippen & Landru, 2009. Collection of novelettes.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

12 November: This Day in Mystery

12 November 1939
Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, dramatized by The Mercury Players (founded by Orson Welles), is broadcast on CBS' radio's Campbell Playhouse.

12 November 1947
Emmuska, Baroness Orczy - creator of the Scarlet Pimpernel, the Old Man in the Corner and Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, dies at the age o82.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11 November: This Day in Mystery

11 November 1846
Anna Katherine Green, often erroneously considered to be the first female mystery author, is born in Brooklym. Her The Leavenworth Case (1878) appears eleven years after the lesser known Dead Letter by Seeley Register.

11 November 1914
Howard Fast is born in New York City. A mainstream novelist, Fast uses the pseudonym E.V. Cunningham for his mysteries after being blacklisted during the McCArthy era. He is best known for his novels featuring Masao Masuto, a Japanese Buddhist and martial arts expert who moves among California's rich and powerful investigating various crimes (The Case of the Russian Diplomat (1978)).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

10 November: This Day in Mystery

10 November 1893
John P. Marquand, creator of secret agent Mr. I. O. Moto, is born in Wilmington, Delaware. The character is popular in a series of eight movies starring Peter Lorre, but fades away after Pearl Harbor.

10 November 1932
Mervyn LeRoy's I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang starring Paul Muni as a man forced by the Depression to take up a life of crime, is released.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

9 November: This Day in Mystery

9 November 1955
I Died A Thousand Times, the second film version of W.R. Burnett's High Sierra - this time starring Jack Palance as Mad Dog Earle - is released.

9 November 1965
The great New York electrical blackout strikes. This occurrence becomes the basis for Stanton Forbes' thriller Dead By the Light of the Moon (1967).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

8 November: This Day in Mystery

8 November 1943
Jon L. Breen is born in Montgomery, Alabama. He is an Edgar-winning critic and novelist, who satirizes the work of Christie, Queen, Van Dine, Carr and others in a collection of parodies of the great detectives, Hair of the Sleuthhound (1982). His novels showcase his affection for old books and classic mystery plotting (Touch of the Past, 1988).

Monday, November 7, 2011

7 November: This Day in Mystery

7 November, 1942
Johnny Rivers, composer and singer of Secret Agent Man - which will be used as the theme for the British TV series Danger Man (in the US) is born on this day.

7 November 1980
Steve McQueen, star in a variety of movie genres, but also in The Thomas Crown Affair and Bullitt, dies on this day from a heart attack following surgery for mesothelioma. He was only 50 years old, having been born on 25 March 1930.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

6 November: This Day in Mystery

6 November 1951
The film version of Detective Story, directed by William Wyler from the hit Broadway play by Sidney Kingsley, premieres. Kirk Douglas plays the amoral and sadistic cop, Jim McLeod. Dashiell Hammett is originally hired to write the screenplay, but later drops out of the project.

Detective Story (1951) is a film noir which tells the story of one day in the lives of the various people who populate a police detective squad. It features Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, William Bendix, Cathy O'Donnell, Lee Grant, among others. The movie was adapted by Robert Wyler and Philip Yordan from the 1949 play of the same name by Sidney Kingsley. It was directed by William Wyler.

An embittered cop, Det. Jim McLeod (Douglas), leads a precinct of characters in their grim daily battle with the city's lowlife. Little does he realize that his obsessive pursuit of an abortionist (Macready) is leading him to discover his wife had an abortion. The characters who pass through the precinct over the course of the day include a young petty embezzler, a pair of burglars, and a naive shoplifter.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

5 November: This Day in Mystery

5 November 1925
Sidney Reilly - the British espionage agent known as the Ace of Spies - is executed by the Soviets on this day.

Lieutenant Sidney George Reilly, MC (c. March 24, 1873/1874 – November 5, 1925), famously known as the Ace of Spies, was a Jewish Russian-born adventurer and secret agent employed by Scotland Yard, the British Secret Service Bureau and later the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). He is alleged to have spied for at least four nations. His notoriety during the 1920s was created in part by his friend, British diplomat and journalist Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, who sensationalised their thwarted operation to overthrow the Bolshevik government in 1918.

After Reilly's death, the London Evening Standard published in May, 1931, a Master Spy serial glorifying his exploits. Later, Ian Fleming would use Reilly as a model for James Bond. Today, many historians consider Reilly to be the first 20th century super-spy. Much of what is thought to be known about him could be false, as Reilly was a master of deception, and most of his life is shrouded in legend

In September 1925, undercover agents of the OGPU, the intelligence successor of the Cheka, lured Reilly to Bolshevik Russia, ostensibly to meet the supposed anti-Communist organization The Trust—in reality, an OGPU deception existing under the code name Operation Trust. At the Russian border, Reilly was introduced to undercover OGPU agents posing as senior Trust representatives from Moscow. One of these undercover Soviet agents, Alexander Yakushev, later recalled the meeting:
“The first impression of [Sidney Reilly] is unpleasant. His dark eyes expressed something biting and cruel; his lower lip drooped deeply and was too slick—the neat black hair, the demonstratively elegant suit. [...] Everything in his manner expressed something haughtily indifferent to his surroundings.”

After Reilly crossed the Finnish border, the Soviets captured, transported, and interrogated him at Lubyanka Prison. On arrival, Reilly was taken to the office of Roman Pilar, a Soviet official who the previous year had arrested and ordered the execution of Boris Savinkov, a close friend of Reilly. Pilar reminded Reilly that he had been sentenced to death by a 1918 Soviet tribunal for his participation in a counter-revolutionary plot against the Bolshevik government. While Reilly was being interrogated, the Soviets publicly claimed that he had been shot trying to cross the Finnish border.

Historians debate whether Reilly was tortured while in OGPU custody. Cook contends that Reilly was not tortured other than psychologically by mock execution scenarios designed to shake the resolve of prisoners. During OGPU interrogation, Reilly maintained his charade of being a British subject born in Clonmel, Ireland, and would not reveal any intelligence matters.[6] While facing such daily interrogation, Reilly kept a diary in his cell of tiny handwritten notes on cigarette papers which he hid in the plasterwork of a cell wall. While his Soviet captors were interrogating Reilly, Reilly in turn was analysing and documenting their techniques. The diary was a detailed record of OGPU interrogation techniques, and Reilly was understandably confident that such unique documentation would, if he escaped, be of interest to the British SIS. After Reilly's death, Soviet guards discovered the diary in Reilly's cell, and photographic enhancements were made by OGPU technicians.

Reilly was executed in a forest near Moscow on November 5, 1925; British intelligence documents released in 2000 confirm this. According to eyewitness Boris Gudz, the execution of Sidney Reilly was supervised by an OGPU officer, Grigory Feduleev; another OGPU officer, George Syroezhkin, fired the final shot into Reilly's chest.

After the death of Reilly, there were various rumors about his survival. Some, for example, speculated that Reilly had defected and became an adviser to Soviet intelligence.

Friday, November 4, 2011

4 November: This day in Mystery

4 November, 1862
Eden Phillpotts, whose encouragement of the young Agatha Christie helped her development, is born in Mount Aboo, India.

He will write over 100 novels, among them several mysteries.

4 November 1949
Noir master Nicholas Rey's first film, They Live By Night, is released. It is the first film version of Edward Anderson's Thieves Like Us, which will later be remade by detective Robert Altman.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

3 November: This Day in Mystery

3 November 1890
Harry Stephen Keeler, inventor of the self-described "webwork" novel, is born in Chicago. To write his monumentally convoluted crime epics, Keeler refers to his boxes of randomly clipped newspaper articles and works there disparate events into his bizarre plots - ultimately resolving every ridiculous complication to make perfect sense (The Face of the Man From Saturn (1933), The Man with the Magic Eardrums (1939).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2 November: This Day in Mystery

2 November 1942
Stefanie Powers, co-star of Hart to Hart, with Robert Wagner, about a husband and wife private detective team, was born o this day.

2 November 1971
Martha Vickers, who co-starred in The Falcon in Mexico (as Barbara MacVicar), and was the second woman in The Big Sleep (along with Lauren Bacall), dies on this day of cancer. She was born on 28 May, 1925

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

1 November: This Day in Mystery

1 November 1863
Arthur Morrison is born in London. A dramatist and short story writer most interested in social reform, he creates Martin Hewitt. Like Sherlock Holmes, Martin Hewitt first appears in the Strand magazine. His stories are collected together in Martin Hewitt, Investigator (1894).

1 November 1899
The real-life inspiration for Bulldog Drummond, Gerald Fairlie, is born in London. Upon the death of Sapper, Drummond's creator, in 1937, Fairlie continues to write the Bulldog Drummond stories (Calling Bulldog Drummond (951)).

Monday, October 31, 2011

31 October: This Day in Mystery

31 October 1920
Dick Francis was born on this day in Tenby, South Wales. After a successful career as a steeplechase jockey, he retired and began to write, first as a newspaperman and then as a crime novelist. Author of such books as Whip Hand (1980) and Forfeit (1969).

31 October 1926
HRF Keating is born in St. Leonards -on-Sea, Sussex, England. Critic and novelist, Keating writes mysteries featuring Indian detective Inspector Ganesh Ghote of Bombay - an often bumbling policeman who nevertheless always gets his man. (The Perfect Murder (1965), Dead on Time (1989))

31 October 1944
Kinky Friedman is born "somewhere in Texas Hill country." He is a country-western singer, songwriter and bandleader turned mystery writer. He writes of his old haunts in the bars and clubs of Greenwich Village, telling of his fictional adventures in which he, along with his fictional companion Ratso, must act as detectives. Greenwich Killing Time (1986) Case of the Lonesome Star (1987).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

30 October: This Day in Mystery

According to The Mystery Book of Days (1990, Mysterious Press) nothing mysterious has ever happened on this day.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

29 October: This Day in Mystery

29 October 1906
Fredric Brown is born in Cincinnati, Ohio. A writer of mostly science fiction short stories, his mystery novels include The Fabulous Clipjoint (1947) and The Night of the Jabberwock (1950).

29 October 1964
Jack Murphy (Murph the Surf) and two of his beach bum cohorts break into the New York Museum of Natural History and steal the Star of India, the world's largest star sapphire. After their arrest, Murphy claims that he perfected the heist by watching Jules Dassin's classic caper film, Topkapi.
He was involved with a robbery on October 29, 1964, of the Star of India along with several other precious gems, including the Eagle Diamond and the de Long Ruby. This robbery was called the "Jewel Heist of the Century." It targeted the J.P. Morgan jewel collection from the display cases of New York's American Museum of Natural History.

Murphy had cased the museum earlier and discovered from a 17-year-old visitor that security was lax to non-existent. The burglar alarm system was non-operational, and a second story window in the jewel room was usually left open to aid in ventilation. The thieves climbed in through the window and discovered that the display case alarms were non-functional as well. The stolen jewels were valued at more than $400,000.

Murphy and both his accomplices, Alan Kuhn and Roger Clark, were arrested two days later and received three-year sentences. The uninsured Star of India was recovered in a foot locker at a Miami bus station. Most of the other gems were also recovered, except the Eagle Diamond, which has since been hypothesized to have been cut down into smaller stones. Richard Duncan Pearson was also convicted.

The heist was the subject of a 1975 movie, directed by Marvin Chomsky, called Murph the Surf. The movie starred Robert Conrad, Burt Young, and Don Stroud (as Murphy).

In 1968, he was convicted of first-degree murder of Terry Rae Frank, 24, a California secretary, one of two women whose bodies were found in Whiskey Creek near Hollywood, Florida, in 1967. He also was convicted of trying to rob a Miami Beach woman in 1968. He was sentenced to life in prison in Florida.

Post Prison

When Bill Glass, Roger Staubach and McCoy McLemore visited Florida State prison in 1974, as part of a Bill Glass Champions for Life weekend, Murphy was impressed with the visitors, both world champion athletes and local businessmen. At that time Murphy had an earliest parole date of Nov. 2225, but that weekend changed his attitude and he devoted his future time spent in prison to serving a higher cause. His service in the chaplaincy program, leading Bible studies and mentoring other men in prison led the Florida Parole Board to release him on "parole with lifetime monitoring" in 1986.

In 1986, Murphy began going back into prisons and jails all over the U.S. as a platform guest with Bill Glass. In 1990, he was hired on staff with Bill Glass Champions for Life. Murphy has also been a featured speaker for Kairos, Coalition of Prison Evangelists, Int'l Prison Ministries, Time for Freedom and Good News Jail & Prison Ministry. After visiting over 1,200 prisons, and recognizing the incredible change apparent in this man's life, the FL Parole Board terminated his "lifetime parole" in 2000.

Murphy is now international director for Champions for Life, visiting prisons, jails, and youth detention facilities all over the world. Murphy authored a book of his experience and testimony Jewels for the Journey.

Friday, October 28, 2011

28 October: This Day in Mystery

28 October 1945
Simon Brett is born in Worcester Park, Surrey, England. He is the author of the Charles Paris mystery series, as well as the Mrs. Pargeter series and the Fethering series. He also writes and produces a variety of radio series.

Charles Paris
Charles Paris is an unhappily separated (but not divorced more than 30 years on), moderately successful actor with a slight drinking problem who gets entangled in all sorts of crimes, and finds himself in the role of unwilling amateur detective. There are 17 novels featuring this character:

* Cast, In Order of Disappearance (1975)
* So Much Blood (1976)
* Star Trap (1977)
* An Amateur Corpse (1978)
* A Comedian Dies (1979)
* The Dead Side of the Mike (1980)
* Situation Tragedy (1981)
* Murder Unprompted (1982)
* Murder in the Title (1983)
* Not Dead, Only Resting (1984)
* Dead Giveaway (1985)
* What Bloody Man Is That? (1987)
* A Series of Murders (1989)
* Corporate Bodies (1991)
* A Reconstructed Corpse (1993)
* Sicken and So Die (1995)
* Dead Room Farce (1998)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

27 October: This Day in Mystery

27 October 1906
Elizabeth Lemarchand is born in Barnstaple, Devonshire, England. She writes "a nostalgic series of ...genteel mysteries featuring Scotland Yard detectives Tom, Pollard and Gregory Toye (Light Through Glass (1984)).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

26 October: This Day in Mystery

26 October 1886
Vincent Starrett is born in Toronto, Canada. He is a distinguished scholar who specializes in detective fiction - Sherlock Holmes in particular - and writes The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1933). He also writes The Unique Hamlet (1920), considered by many to be the best Sherlockian pastiche, in which Holmes searches for the ultimate rare book, an inscribed first edition of Hamlet. His autobiography is Born in a Bookshop (1965).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

25 October: This Day in Mystery

25 October 1957
Mob hit man Albert "the Executioner" Anastasia sits down for a haircut at the Park Sheraton Hotel barbershop in New York City. Two men, their face hidden by scarves, come up behind him and shoot him five times, killing him instantly. The killers are believed to be "Crazy Joey" Gallo and his brother.

Monday, October 24, 2011

24 October: This Day in Mystery

24 October 1917
Ted Allbeury, the real-life inspiration for Len Deighton's espionage hero Harry Palmer, is born in Stockport, Cheshire, England. A lieutenant colonel in British Intelligence during World War II, he also wrote his own spy novels, The Other Side of Silence (1981); The Judas Factor (1984).

John Frankenheimer's film version of the Richard Condon novel The Manchurian Candidate, starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury is released. A Cold War thriller of mind control and assassination, the film is taken out of circulation after President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

23 October: This Day in Mystery

23 October 1906
Jonathan Latimer is born in Chicago. A screenwriter, he will write the screenplays for Dashiell Hammett's The Glass Key (1942), Kenneth Fearing's The Big Clock (1948) and Cornell Woolrich's The Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948). He is also the author of the hard-boiled novel Solomon's Vineyard (1941).

23 October 1942
Scientist and science fiction writer Michael Crichton is born in Chicago. He is the author of The Great Train Robbery (1975), the 1968 mystery A Case of Need (under the pseudonym Jeffrey Hudson), and such books as The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

22 October: This Day in Mystery

22 October 1866
Playboy and mystery writer E. Phillips Oppenheim is born in London. Called "the Prince of Storytellers," he writes 116 novels and 39 short story collections, only The Great Impersonation (1920) is still widely read today.

Steve Cochran and Mamie Van Doren in The Beat Generation22 October 1959
The Beat Generation, a B movie starring Mamie Van Doren, is released. It is the story of two cops in pursuit of a robber known as the Aspirin Kid, and exploits the then-popularity of bebop, beards, bongos and bad poetry.

Friday, October 21, 2011

21 October: This Day in Mystery

21 October 1926
Roderic Jeffries, son of mystery writer Bruce Graeme [Jeffries], is born in London. Jeffries continues his father's series about the adventures of Blackshirt, the safecracker with a heart of gold.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

20 October: This Day in Mystery

20 October 1905
Frederic Dannay is born in Brooklyn. With his cousin Manfred B. Lee, he creates private detective Ellery Queen. The character first appears in books. In 1941, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine makes its debut.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

19 October: This Day in Mystery

19 October 1931
David Cornwell is born in Pool, Dorsetshire, England. Under the pseudonym John LeCarre, he is the author of espionage novels - the antithesis of the James Bond books, featuring George Smiley as a world-weary civil servant, in such books as The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963) and The Russia House (1989).

19 October 1942
Andrew Vachs is born in New York City. A criminal lawyer specializing in child protection cases, he writes novels featurung Burke, an ex-con whose knowledge of crime makes him an extremely unorthodox private eye. (Flood, 1985, Hard Candy, 1989.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

18 October: This Day in Mystery

Bartlett Robinson

18 October 1943
Perry Mason begins its radio life on the CBS network in a script prepared especially for radio by Erle Stanley Gardner (Mason's creator). Bartlett Robinson plays Mason in the beginning episodes, shortly to be replaced by Donald Briggs, who will be eventually replaced by Santos Ortega. (Ortega will also play the radio version of Nero Wolfe).

Monday, October 17, 2011

17 October: This Day in Mystery

17 October 1893
Richard Connell is born in Poughkeepsie, New York. A prolific writer, his most famous story is "The Most Dangerous Game" - the classic suspense story of the Russian aristocrat who hunts human prey.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

16 October: This Day in Mystery

16 October 1888
The most apparently genuine of all Jack the Ripper's mocking letters is received by George Lusk of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. The note is accompanied by a small package containing half a human kidney.

16 October 1944
Brett Halliday's private eye Michael Shayne debuts on the US west coast's Don Lee radio network. Starring Wally Maher in the title role, it goes national by 1946.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

15 October: This Day in Mystery

15 October 1880
Arthur B. Reeve is born in Patchogue, New York. He will be the first American mystery writer to make it big in the UK, with the tales of his scientific detective, Craig Kennedy. (The Silent Bullet (1912)

15 October 1917
Exotic dancer and espionage agent [reputed] Mata Hari (real name Marguerite Zelle) is executed by a French firing squad.

15 October 1926
Evan Hunter is born in New York City. Under the pseudonym Ed McBain, he writes police procedurals featuring the 87th Precinct. (Cop Hater, 1956, Vespers 1990). Under his own name, he is the author of The Blackboard Jungle (1954). He is awarded the Grand Master title by the Mystery Writers of America in 1986.

Friday, October 14, 2011

14 October: This Day in Mystery

14 October 1912
New York City saloon owner John Schrank shoots former president Theodore Roosevelt at a Milwaukee political rally. The bullet is stopped by the papers on which Roosevelt has written his speech and which he carried in his breast pocket. He delivers the speech before going to the hospital. He survives the attack but the bullet remains in his body until the day he dies.

14 October 1928
Roger Moore is born in London. He will play Simon Templar, the Saint, in the TV series that runs in the 1960s. In 1973 he makes his first James Bond movie, Live and Let Die.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

13 October: This Day in Mystery

13 October 1867
Guy Boothby is born in Adelaide, Australia. He is the creator of the hypnotically gifted Dr. Nikola, a ruthless and unscrupulous evil genius of fin de siecle (end of the century, 1890s) times (The Lust of Hate 1898).

His 1897 book The Prince of Swindlers features Simon Carne, one of the first gentlemen crooks-preceding Raffles by two years.
(Read more at:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

12 October: This Day in Mystery

12 October 1904
Lester Dent is born in La Plata, Missouri. Using the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson, he creates Doc Savage, the "Man of Bronze" in 1935. Doc Savage's popularity in the pulps is second only to that of The Shadow (although he will never achieve radio success.)

12 October 1939
Soldier, bartender, roughneck and finally mystery writer James Crumley is born in Three Rivers, Texas. He sets his novels in the American West. His private eye heroes Sughrue (The Last Good Kiss 1978) and Milodragovitch (Dancing Bear (1983) wrestle with their obsessions and addictions in these hardboiled novels.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

11 October: This Day in Mystery

According to The Mystery Book of Days, (Mysterious Press, 1990), not a single mysterious thing happened on this day.

Monday, October 10, 2011

10 October: This Day in Mystery

According to The Mystery Book of Days, (Mysterious Press, 1990), not a single mysterious thing happened on this day.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

9 October: This Day in Mystery

9 October 1900
British character actor Alistair Sim is born in Edinburgh. He will portray Christianna Brand's sardonic detective Inspector Cockrill in the 1946 film Green For Danger.

9 October 1918
E. Howard Hunt is born in Hamburg, New York. He writes a long running series of macho adventure novels, but is also a spy - and participated in the Bay of Pigs. He was also the head Watergate "plumber."

9 October 1939
James McClure is born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He writes a long-running series about White Afrikaaner policeman Kramer and black Bantu policeman Zondi, which examines the racial apartheid system as well as murder mysteries. (The Steam Pig, 1971, The Artful egg, 1984).

Saturday, October 8, 2011

8 October: This Day in Mystery

8 October 1850
M. McDonnell Bodkin is born in Dublin.

Matthias McDonnell Bodkin (8 October 1850 – 7 June 1933) was an Irish nationalist politician and MP. in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Anti-Parnellite representative for North Roscommon, 1892–95, a noted author, journalist and newspaper editor, and barrister, King’s Counsel (K.C.) and County Court Judge for County Clare, 1907-24.

Bodkin was a prolific author, in a wide range of genres, including history, novels (contemporary and historical), plays, and political campaigning texts.

Bodkin earned a place in the history of the detective novel by virtue of his invention of the first detective family. His character Paul Beck, a private detective with comfortable lodgings in Chester, was an Irish Sherlock Holmes with a very original yet logical method for detecting crime. Beck first appeared in Paul Beck, the Rule of Thumb Detective in 1899. In the following year Bodkin’s creation Dora Myrl, the lady detective, made her first appearance. In The Capture of Paul Beck (1909), Bodkin had them marry each other and in 1911 their son appeared, in Paul Beck, a chip off the old block. Other titles in this series were The Quests of Paul Beck (1908), Pigeon Blood Rubies (1915) and Paul Beck, Detective (1929).

Friday, October 7, 2011

7 October: This Day in Mystery

7 October 1907
Espionage novelist Helen MacInnes is born in Glasgow, Scotland. Hers works often feature international backdrops, romance, and intrigue. (Above Suspicion, 1941; The Salzburg Connection, 1968).

7 October 1954
Suddenly, a taut, suspenseful thriller starring Frank Sinatra and Sterling Hayden, is released. Sinatra is a vicious and sadistic assassin who holds a family hostage. (Suddenly is the name of the town where the action takes place.)

7 October 1971
William Friedkin’s Oscar Winner The French Connection opens. Based on a true story, the movie follows the adventures of New York cop “Popeye” Doyle, played by Gene Hackman, in his search for a French heroin dealer.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

6 October: This Day in Mystery

6 October 1916
Stanley Ellin is born in Brooklym. He specializes in suspense and mystery short stories. His best known tale is “The Specialty of the House,” a subtle story of cannibalism in modern-day New York. He also writes novels, such as The Eighth Circle (1958) which will earn him the Best Novel Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America. In 1983 the MWA will make him a Grand Master.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

5 October: This Day in Mystery

5 October 1915
The first real pulp magazine, Detective Story, appears. Created in the form of the Nick Carter Library of dime novels, Detective Story will last until 1949.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

4 October: This Day in Mystery

4 October 1895
Buster Keaton is born in a vaudeville trunk somewhere on the roads of the Midwest. In 1924 he will star in Sherlock Jr.

4 October 1931

Chester Gould’s comic strip hero Dick Tracy (“Crime does not pay,” “Little crimes lead to big crimes,” first appears in the newspaper.

4 October 1972
Bill Cosby and Robert Culp attempt to recreate the chemistry of I, Spy, but Hickey and Boggs, a TV movie which airs on this date, will be unsuccessful.

Monday, October 3, 2011

3 October: This Day in Mystery

3 October 1925
Erudite essayist, playwright and novelist Gore Vidal is born in West Point, NY. In the early 50s Vidal, using the pseudonym Edgar Box, publishes a trio of mysteries featuring public relations man Peter Cutler Sargeant, including Death in the Fifth Position (1952).

3 October 1941
The definitive film version of The Maltese Falcon is released, directed by John Huston. (There had been 2 earlier versions). It stars Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, and is the directorial debut of John Huston.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

2 October: This Day in Mystery

2 October 1904
Graham Greene is born in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, England. He will go on to author both serious novels and "entertainments" - as he calls his crime and espionage thrillers. Brighton Rock, Ministry of Fear and The Third Man are 3 of his most famous novels.

2 October 1955
Alfred Hitchcock Presents premieres on CBS. It features sardonic introductions and conclusions by Alfred Hitchcock.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

1 October: This Day in Mystery

1 October 1910
In response to the anti-Union editorials of Los Angeles Times owner Harrison Gray Otis, unionists John and Jim McNamara plant a bomb in the printing department of the newspaper on this day. The subsequent explosion kills 21 workers.

1 October 1920
Actor Walter Matthau is born in New York City. He will take on many roles in the mystery and crime genres - even starring as Per Wohloo and Maj Sjowall's detective Martin Beck in The Laughing Policeman.

Friday, September 30, 2011

30 September: This Day in History

30 September 1906
John Innes Mackintosh Stewart, who will write mysteries under the pseudonym Michael Innes, is born in Edinburgh. The Oxford scholar will create Inspector John Appleby, a well-mannered, erudite policeman who is iften called upon to solve murders in academia.
(Hamlet, Revenge! (1937))

30 September 1913
The police commissioner of San Francisco begins a program to clean up the Barbary Coast, a particularly lawless district in the city, by outlawing liquor, prostitution and dancing.

30 September 1935
The first Dick Tracy serial debuts on the Mutual Radio Network. Each episode opens with a burst of radio static and Tracy's laconic synopsis of the action - spoken into his two-way wrist radio.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

29 September: This Day in Mystery

29 September 1927
Barbara G. Mertz, the real name of Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters, is born in Canton, Illinois.

As Barbara Michaels her books are usually stand-alone, mysteries with hints of romance and the supernatural. As Elizabeth Peters, she is most famous for her books featuring archaeologist Amelia Peabody and her husband, Radcliffe Emerson.

She was awarded the first Grand Master Anthony Award at the 1986 Bouchercon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

28 September: This Day in Mystery

28 September, 1873
Emile Gaboriau, creator of Monsieur Lecoq-whose renown in the late 1800s brings about Sherlock Holmes' jealous estimation of him as a "miserable bungler" - dies in Paris at age 37.

28 September 1888
Sapper (pseudonym of Herman Cyril McNeile) is born in Bodmin, Cornwall. He authors a series of popular adventure-cum-espionage novels featuring Bulldog Drummond, beginning in 1920). Drummond and his allies fought the Boche (Germans), Bolsheviks, and non-Brits of every stripe.

28 September 1913
Historian-turned-mystery writer Ellis Peters (pseudonym of Edith Mary Pargeter) is born in Horsehay, Shropshire, England. She uses her knowledge of medieval times to create the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael - tales of a twelfth-century Benedictine monk who uses his knowledge of human nature to solve crimes. (Starting with A Morbid Taste For Bones, 1977).

28 September, 1945
The classic Joan Crawford melodrama with murder Mildred Pierce, based on James M. Cain's novel, is released.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

26 September: This Day in Mystery

26 September 1932
The first series of Fu Manchu radio dramas premieres on CBS. Sax Rohmer himself is on hand at the opening broadcast.

26 September 1948
The Adventures of Philip Marlowe begins on the CBS radio network. Gerald Mohr stars as a hard-boiled Marlowe, given to lecturing things on the evils of crime.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

25 September: This Day in Mystery

25 September 1888
The London police receive their first letter signed "Jack the Ripper" which arrives shortly before the Ripper carries out his only double murder - that of Catherine Eddowes and Elizabeth Stride.

25 September 1897
Nobel-prize winning author William Faulkner is born in New Albany, Mississippi. Faulkner's Gothic tales of the South often contain elements of mystery, crime and detection. His 1931 melodramatic novel Sanctuary is a story of corruption peopled with hookers, half-wits, and bootleggers, while his attorney "Uncle" Gavin Stevens, in Intruder in the Dust, (1948) wrestles with Southern justice while defending a young black accused of murder.

25 September 1898
Richard Lockridge, who co-authors with his wife Frances the popular Mr. and Mrs. North novels, is born in St. Joseph, Missouri. The Norths are an urbane couple who somehow encounter murder wherever they go, beginning with The Norths Meet Murder (1940).

Saturday, September 24, 2011

24 September: This Day in Mystery

24 September 1896
American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald is born in St. Paul, Minnesota. The first fiction he writes is a murder story, "The Mystery of the Raymond Mortgage," written when Fitzgerald was 13 years old.

Friday, September 23, 2011

23 September: This Day in Mystery

23 September 1865
Emmuska, Baroness Orczy, is born in Tarna-Ors, Hungary. The baroness creates the first of the great armchair detectives, the Old Man in the Corner. He sits in a teashop in London and is brought mystifying crime cases by reporter Polly Burton.

She is also the creator of the Scarlet Pimpernel.

23 September 1935
The first of a dozen victims of the killer who would come to be known as the Torso Killer and the Mad Butcher of Cleveland is found in the city's industrial area. Known for chopping up his corpses, the Mad Butcher is never apprehended.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

22 September: This Day in Mystery

22 September, 1944
The Pearl of Death, a Sherlock Holmes film in the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce series, is released. It is based loosely on the Conan Doyle story "The Six Napoleons." It marked the screen debut of Rondo Hatton, an actor who suffered from a deforming disease called Acromelagia, as the Creeper.

22 September 1958
Mary Roberts Rinehart, founder of the Had-I-But-Known school of mystery, dies at eighty-two.

22 September 1958
Peter Gunn, Ivy League private investigator, makes his debut on TV in the show, Peter Gunn. Craig Stevens plays Gunn, Herschel Bernardi plays his policeman friend, Lt. Jacoby. The jazz theme music is by Henry Mancini.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

21 September: This Day in Mystery

21 September, 1866
Historian, philosopher, science fiction writer, and man of letters H.G. Wells is born in Bromley, Kent. Several of Wells' novels use elements of mystery and suspense - including The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896) and The Invisible Man (1897).

21 September, 1924
Collin Wilcox is born in Detroit. Wilcox creates the long-suffering homicide detective Lt. Frank Hastings (The Lonely Hunter, 1969; The Pariah, 1988). His cases blend realistic crime investigation with a love for the mean streets of San Diego.

21 September, 1957Perry Mason, starring Raymond Burr as Earle Stanley Gardner's attorney detective, debuts on television.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

20 September: This Day in Mystery

Nothing mysterious happened on this day, according to The Mystery Book of Days, Mysterious Press, 1990!

Monday, September 19, 2011

19 September: This Day in Mystery

Warren William as Michael Lanyard in Lone Wolf Met a Lady

19 September 1879
Louis Joseph vance is born in Washington, DC. Inspired by the French rogue-hero Arsene Lupin, Vance creates the sophisticated safe cracker Michael Lanyard, aka The Lone Wolf. (The False Faces, 1918). He appears in 8 novels and becomes a movie hero in a series of films in the 1940s.

The Books
The Lone Wolf (1914)
The False Faces (1918)
Alias The Lone Wolf (1921)
Red Maquerade (1921)
The Lone Wolf Returns (1923)
The Lone Wolf's Son (1931)
Encore The Lone Wolf (1933)
The Lone Wolf's Last Prowl (1934)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

18 September: This Day in Mystery

18 September 1872
William MacHarg, the first novelist to use a lie detector in a story, is born in Dover Plains, New York. With Edwin Balmer, MacHarg writes the short story collection The Achievement of Luther Trant (1910), one of the first crime fiction books to use modern psychology as its primary means of detection.

18 September 1967
Point Blank - John Boorman's film version of Richard Stark's novel The Hunter-is released. Lee Marvin stars as the cold-blooded criminal Parker - called WAlker in the movie. An extremely violent and expressionistic film, Point Blank represents the epitome of 1960s noir.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

17 September: This Day in Mystery

17 September 1908
John Creasey is born in Southfields, Surrey. Creasey writes prodigiously under many pseudonyms, the most famous being J. J. Marric. He writes more than 560 fast-moving crime novels under 28 names. His series detectives include: The Toff, Commander George Gideon of Scotland Yard, Inspector Roger West, The Baron, and Doctor Stanislaus Alexander Palfrey.

17 September 1932
Robert Parker - creator of Spenser - is born. A detective with discriminating taste for fine food, good drink and top-notch conditioning, Spenser is hard-boiled but sophisticated. Books include The Godwulf Manuscript, Ceremony - and were adapted for the TV series Spenser for Hire.

17 September 1965
Honey West, starring Anne Francis, debuts on ABC. The character had made her debut on the TV series Burke's Law, starring Gene Barry. She received her own series, and was a private detective, with John Pine playing her sidekick.

From: The Mystery Book of Days, by Mysterious Press, 1990

Friday, September 16, 2011

16 September: This Day in Mystery

16 September, 1918
Charles Chapin, editor on the New York Evening World, murders his wife, Nellie. Sentenced to life at Sing Sing, Chapin plants a series of gardens inside and outside the prison walls, becoming known as Sing Sing's Rose Man.

16 September 1935
Movie star Thelma Todd is found dead of asphyxiation in a blood-splashed car in the garage of her restaurant near Malibu. Todd, who was featured in the Marx Brothers films Monkey Business (1931) and Horse Feathers (1932) as well as a series of successful comedy shorts, is rumored to have defied L. A. gangsters who wanted to open a gambling establishment above her restaurant. Her killer is never found.

From: The Mystery Book of Days, by Mysterious Press, 1990

Thursday, September 15, 2011

15 September: This Day in Mystery

15 September 1890
Dame Agatha Christie is born in Torquay, Devonshire. Her books define the British "puzzle" mysteries of the Golden Age. Christie's detectives include the Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot and the elderly spinster Miss Jane Marple.

15 September 1971

Columbo, starring Peter Falk as the disheveled lieutenant, premieres. (Bing Crosby had been offered the role but turned it down in order to concentrate on his golf game.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

14 September: This Day in Mystery

14 September 1874
Champion title-maker and Canadian mystery author Arthur Stringer is born in Chatham, Ontario. Stringer's most entertaining title may be: The Man Who Couldn't Sleep, Being A Relation of the Divers Strange Adventures Which Befell One Witter Kerfoot When, Sorely Troubled with Sleeplessness, He Ventured Forth at Midnight Along the Highways and Byways of Manhattan (1919).

13 September 1889
Carroll John Daly is born in Yonkers, New York. Best known as the creator of Race Williams, one of the first hard-boiled dicks ("Knights of the Open Palm," published in Black Mask, June 1923), Daly created the actual "first" in "Three Gun Terry" (Black Mask, May 1923). This story preceded Dashiell Hammett's first hard-boiled story featuring the Continental Op by four months.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

13 September: This day in mystery

13 Sept, 1894
J. B. Priestly is born in Bradford, Yorkshire. His book, The Old Dark House, published in 1927 in England as Benighted, is so frequently imitated that its "gathering of disparate persons in a spooky house during a midnight rainstorm" becomes a cliche of the genre.

13 Sept, 1916
Roald Dahl is born in London. Dahl's collection of short stories, including Someone Like You (1953) and Kiss, Kiss (1960) contain several classics of short suspense and terror. His best known tale id Lamb to the Slaughter, in which the police eat the evidence.

13 Sept, 1974
The TV private eye series Rockford Files, starring James Garner as Jim Rockford, makes its debut.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hear no evil, see no evil, ytalk no evil and more

The Cape Cod Mystery by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
"Pretend you're one of them monkeys as can't see nor hear no talk no evil."
The Three Wise Monkeys, sometimes called the Three Mystic Apes, are a pictorial maxim. Together they embody the proverbial principle to "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". The three monkeys are Mizaru, covering his eyes, who sees no evil; Kikazaru, covering his ears, who hears no evil; and Iwazaru, covering his mouth, who speaks no evil. Sometimes there is a fourth monkey depicted with the three others; the last one, Shizaru, symbolizes the principle of "do no evil". He may be shown crossing his arms.

The source that popularized this pictorial maxim is a 17th century carving over a door of the famous Tōshō-gū shrine in Nikkō, Japan. The carvings at Toshogu Shrine were carved by Hidari Jingoro, and believed to have incorporated Confucius’s Code of Conduct, using the monkey as a way to depict man’s life cycle. There are a total of 8 panels, and the iconic Three Wise Monkeys picture comes from panel 2. The philosophy, however, probably originally came to Japan with a Tendai-Buddhist legend, from China in the 8th century (Nara Period). It has been suggested that the figures represent the three dogmas of the so-called middle school of the sect.

In Chinese, a similar phrase exists in the Analects of Confucius from 2nd to 4th century B.C.: "Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety". It may be that this phrase was shortened and simplified after it was brought into Japan.

It is through the Kōshin rite of folk religion that the most significant examples are presented. The Kōshin belief or practice is a Japanese folk religion with Chinese Taoism origins and ancient Shinto influence. It was founded by Tendai Buddhist monks in the late 10th century. A considerable number of stone monuments can be found all over the eastern part of Japan around Tokyo. During the later part of the Muromachi period, it was customary to display stone pillars depicting the three monkeys during the observance of Kōshin.

Though the teaching had nothing to do with monkeys, the concept of the three monkeys originated from a simple play on words. The saying in Japanese is "mizaru, kikazaru, iwazaru", literally "don't see, don't hear, don't speak". However, -zaru, an archaic negative verb conjugation, is pronounced the same as zaru, the vocalized form of saru, "monkey", so the saying can also be interpreted as the names of three monkeys.

It is also possible that the three monkeys came from a more central root than a simple play on words. The shrine at Nikko is a Shinto shrine, and the monkey is an extremely important being in the Shinto religion.[citation needed] The monkey is believed to be the messenger of the Hie Shinto shrines, which also have connections with Tendai Buddhism. There are even important festivals that are celebrated during the year of the monkey (occurring every twelve years) and a special festival is celebrated every sixteenth year of the Kōshin.

"The Three Mystic Apes" (Sambiki Saru) were described as "the attendants of Saruta Hito no Mikoto or Kōshin, the God of the Roads". The Kōshin festival was held on the 60th day of the calendar. It has been suggested that during the Kōshin festival, according to old beliefs, one’s bad deeds might be reported to heaven "unless avoidance actions were taken…." It has been theorized that the three Mystic Apes, Not Seeing, Hearing, or Speaking, may have been the "things that one has done wrong in the last 59 days."

According to other accounts, the monkeys caused the Sanshi and Ten-Tei not to see, say or hear the bad deeds of a person. The Sanshi are three worms living in everyone's body. The Sanshi keep track of the good deeds and particularly the bad deeds of the person they inhabit. Every 60 days, on the night called Kōshin-Machi, if the person sleeps, the Sanshi will leave the body and go to Ten-Tei, the Heavenly God, to report about the deeds of that person. Ten-Tei will then decide to punish bad people, making them ill, shortening their time alive, and in extreme cases putting an end to their lives. Those believers of Kōshin who have reason to fear will try to stay awake during Kōshin nights. This is the only way to prevent the Sanshi from leaving their body and reporting to Ten-Tei.

"He says the best plan is to phone Hyannis and see if there's anything thre.
Hyannis is the largest of seven villages in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Also it is the commercial and transportation hub of Cape Cod and was designated an urban area as a result of the 1990 census.

Because of this, many refer to Hyannis as the "Capital of the Cape". It contains the Barnstable city offices and two important shopping districts, the historic downtown Main Street and the Route 132 commercial district, including Cape Cod Mall and Cape Cod Potato Chips.

Hyannis is an important tourist destination and the primary ferry boat and general aviation link for passengers and freight to Nantucket Island. Hyannis provides secondary passenger access to the island of Martha's Vineyard. Due to its large natural harbor, Hyannis is the largest recreational boating and second largest commercial fishing port on Cape Cod.

The JFK Hyannis Museum in the old Town Hall on Main St. focuses on John F. Kennedy's time spent in the town. There is a memorial to President Kennedy on the Lewis Bay waterfront that was erected by Barnstable citizens in 1966. The memorial includes a fountain and a field-stone monument with the presidential seal and JFK inscription: "I believe it is important that this country sail and not sit still in the harbor". President-elect John F. Kennedy gave his victory speech on November 9, 1960 at the former Hyannis Armory, which is in the National Register of Historic Places.

"Bill might of socked him on the jaw, but he wouldn't of used the handle of a measly hammer. Nor jiu-jitsu neither."
Jiu-jitsu, a Japanese martial art, was introduced into England in the early 1900s, when caucasians who'd been visiting that country after its opening by Commodore Perry and his Black Ships occurred. Indeed, the "Jiu-Jitsu Suffragettes" became famous in 1910, as they acted as a bodyguard for the Pankhurst sisters.

"The gun hadn't been used in a dog's age."
Referring to the typical age of a dog: 10-15 years.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Grand slam and more

"I have a very clear recollection of that grand slam you made when you were here made it doubled and redoubled."
A grand slam is a brdige term: Because of the structure of bonuses, certain bid levels have special significance. The most important level is game, which is any contract whose bid trick value is 100 or more points. Game level varies by suit, since different suits are worth different amounts in scoring. The game level for no-trump is 3 (9 tricks, 3 x 30 + 10 = 100), the game level for hearts or spades (major suits) is 4 (10 tricks, 4 x 30 = 120), and the game level for clubs or diamonds (minor suits) is 5 (11 tricks, 5 x 20 = 100). Because of the value of the game bonus, much of the bidding revolves around investigating the possibility of making game. Even higher bonuses are also awarded for bidding and making small slam (level 6, i.e. 12 tricks) and the rather rare grand slam (level 7, i.e. all 13 tricks). The contracts below game level are called partial contracts or part scores.

"Used to chum around with a first-class second story man from St. Louis," said Asey.
A second story man is a burglar who climbs in via the second floor of a home. First floor windows and so on were usually locked, but second stories were not. An agile and athletic man (or woman) would have to climb up to the second story to find an unlocked window. Term was first used in 1886.

"In fact, de mortuis and all that, but he really didn't have too savory of a reputation."
De mortuis nihil nisi bonum is a Latin phrase which indicates that it is socially inappropriate to say anything negative about a (recently) deceased person. Sometimes shortened to nil nisi bonum, the phrase derives from the sentence "de mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est" and is variously translated as "Speak no ill of the dead", "Of the dead, speak no evil", "Do not/ Don't speak ill of the dead" or, strictly literally, "Of the dead, nothing unless good".

The first recorded use of the phrase is by Diogenes Laërtius in Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, where he attributes it to Chilon of Sparta. In 1432 Italian theologian Ambrogio Traversari translated Diogenes' work into Latin, popularizing the phrase in that language.

"I think it would be the better part of valor if you were to stay."
From the Shakespeare play, Henry the FOurth, Part 1, Act 5, Scen4, 115-121
To die is to be a counterfeit, for he is but the counterfeit of
a man who hath not the life of a man; but to counterfeit dying,
when a man thereby liveth, is to be no counterfeit, but the true
and perfect image of life indeed. The better part of valor is
discretion, in the which better part I have sav'd my life.

Almost invariably quoted today as "Discretion is the better part of valor," Falstaff's phrase elegantly redeems a cowardly act. The bragging, bulbous knight has just risen from his feigned death; he had played the corpse in order to escape real death at the hands of a Scotsman hostile to Henry IV. Claiming that abstractions like "honor" and "valor" will get you nothing once you're dead, Falstaff excuses his counterfeiting as the kind of "discretion" that keeps a man from foolishly running into swords in order to cultivate a reputation for heroism. If counterfeiting keeps you alive, well then, it's not counterfeiting, but an authentic "image of life." Falstaff confuses "image" with "reality," but we forgive him; as far as he's concerned, "valor" is an image too, and you've got to stay alive in order to find more opportunities to cultivate that image.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Him and Ananias are like that" and more

"Say, him and Ananias are like that," Asey held up two fingers.
Acts chapter 4 closes by stating that the first followers of Jesus did not consider their possessions to be their own, but they had all things in common -- not of obligation, but all were ready to use what they had on behalf of those in want. Barnabas, a Levite from Cyprus, sold a plot of land and donated the profit to the apostles.

In chapter 5, Ananias and Sapphira also sold their land, but withheld a portion of the sales, having decided that they did not wish to give it all to the common purse. Ananias presented his donation to Peter claiming that it was the entire amount. Peter replied, "Why is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit?" Peter pointed out that Ananias was in control of the money and could give or keep it as he saw fit, but that he had withheld it from Peter and lied about it, and stated that Ananias had not only lied to Peter, but also to God. Ananias died on the spot, and as a result, everyone who heard the tale became afraid. Three hours later, his wife told the same lie and suffered the same fate.

Ananias has gone down in history to mean a chronic liar.

"He thinks he's got us buffaloed."
Believe it or not I can't find a history of this phrase. I'm assuming that it refers to the fact that buffalos were the staple of hte American Indian, and in order to beat the Indians with as little bloodshed as possible, buffalo hunters exterminated the beasts - killing thousands at a time and just leaving their carcasses to rot.

"With the aid of a few of Uncle Sam's strips of currency with Cs in the corner of 'm."
A C is the Roman numeral for 100. That's why a C-note is a hundred dollar bill. Benjamin Franklin is on the hundred dollar bill - the only non-president so honored.
Phoebe Atwood Taylor apparently never saw a hundred dollar bill - there are no Cs in the corners, but rather the number 100.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mysterious Days: 23 August

Shoemaker Nicolo Sacco and fish peddler Bartolomeo Vanzetti had been arrested on May 5, 1920 in South Baintree, Massachusetts, and charged with the April 15, 1920 robbery and murders at the Slater and Morrill shoe factory. With only circumstantial evidence presented against them, they will eventually be convicted and sentenced to execution. Current thought is that this occurred primarily because of their immigrant backgrounds and anarchist policies.

Despite worldwide sentiment for them - they are one of the century's greatest judicial cause celebres-both men are electrocuted at Charlestown Prison on August 23, 1927.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Good godfreys mighty and more

"What's that got to do with the price of beans?"
"What's that got to do with the -- ?" is an expression which is used to denote something which is unrelated to the current topic of discussion.

A common form "what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?", is a retort to an irrelevant suggestion. This facetious usage implies that the topic under discussion might as well be the price of tea in China for all the relevance the interlocutor's suggestion bears on it. It has been said that this expression has stemmed from economists, who describe everything economic as affecting everything else, trying to find an expression which denotes the farthest logical connection from their current economic focus. In this way, the price of tea in China was used to denote the farthest possibility. It can also be used to denote an irrelevant topic.

In the United States, the phrase "What's that got to do with the price of eggs?" has been in use since the 1920s. The variance "of tea in China" seems to date from the 1940s and may be influenced by the idiom All the Tea in China. The British equivalent is "What's that got to do with the price of fish?" or "What's that got to do with the price of meat?". A Scottish variation is "What's that got to do with the price of cheese?"

There is also the derivative form of "what does that have to do with the price of rice in China," due to the common association between countries of Asia and rice. This variant was famously used in the 1976 film, Network. Another derivative form is "What's that got to do with the price of beans in Albuquerque?"

The six of us spke like a carefully trained Greek chorus.
A Greek chorus is a homogenous, non-individualised group of performers in the plays of classical Greece, who comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action. It originally consisted of fifty members which were later reduced to twelve by Sophocles, then increased to fifteen members by Euripides in tragedies. There were twenty-four members in comedies, and it performs using several techniques, including singing, dancing, narrating, and acting.

"Was there any cars goin' along the beach or parked there round the lane then?"
"Uh, huh. Lots of spooners."
People in their parked cars were "spooning" - caressing each other - but probably not going so far as to have actual sex.

"You wouldn't notice it in that pullman car you've been rolling around in."
Asey is comparing Miss Prudence' car to the Pullman car of a train.
The sleeping car or sleeper (often wagon-lits) is a railway/railroad passenger car that can accommodate all its passengers in beds of one kind or another, primarily for the purpose of making nighttime travel more restful. The first such cars saw sporadic use on American railroads in the 1830s and could be configured for coach seating during the day. Some of the more luxurious types have private rooms, that is to say fully and solidly enclosed rooms that are not shared with strangers.

The man who ultimately made the sleeping car business profitable in the United States was George Pullman, who began by building a luxurious sleeping car (named Pioneer) in 1865. The Pullman Company, founded as the Pullman Palace Car Company in 1867, owned and operated most sleeping cars in the United States until the mid-20th century, attaching them to passenger trains run by the various railroads; there were also some sleeping cars that were operated by Pullman but owned by the railroad running a given train. During the peak years of American passenger railroading, several all-Pullman trains existed, including the 20th Century Limited on the New York Central Railroad, the Broadway Limited on the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Panama Limited on the Illinois Central Railroad, and the Super Chief on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

Pullman cars were normally a dark "Pullman green," although some were painted in the host railroad's colors. The cars carried individual names, but usually did not carry visible numbers. In the 1920s the Pullman Company went through a series of restructuring steps, which in the end resulted in a parent company, Pullman Incorporated, controlling the Pullman Company (which owned and operated sleeping cars) and the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company. In 1947, in consequence of an antitrust verdict, a consortium of railroads bought the Pullman Company from Pullman Incorporated, and from then on railroads owned and operated Pullman-made sleeping cars themselves. Pullman-Standard continued in the manufacture of sleeping cars and other passenger and freight railroad cars until 1980.

Friday, August 19, 2011

In the limelight, and more

The Cape Cod Mystery, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor, 1931 pg 116

"Although the brother is sort of in the limelight, isn't he."
Limelight (also known as calcium light) is a type of stage lighting once used in theatres and music halls. An intense illumination is created when an oxyhydrogen flame is directed at a cylinder of quicklime (calcium oxide), which can be heated to 2572 °C before melting. The light is produced by a combination of incandescence and candoluminescence. Although it has long since been replaced by electric lighting, the term has nonetheless survived, as someone in the public eye is still said to be “in the limelight.” The actual lights are called limes, a term which has been transferred to electrical equivalents.

"I'll make you a hot toddy."
A hot toddy is a mixed drink, usually including alcohol, that is served hot. Hot toddies (such as mulled cider) are traditionally drunk before going to bed, or in wet or cold weather. They were believed to help cure the cold and flu.

It has been suggested that the name comes from the toddy drink in India,[2] produced by fermenting the sap of palm trees. The term could have been introduced into Scotland by a member of the British East India Company.[3]

An alternative explanation is given in Allan Ramsay's 1721 poem The Morning Interview, which describes a tea party in which it is said that

"All the rich requisites are brought from far: the table from Japan, the tea from China, the sugar from Amazonia, or the West Indies, but that
'Scotia does no such costly tribute bring,
Only some kettles full of Todian spring.'"
To this passage, Ramsay has appended the note:

"The Todian spring, i.e. Tod's Well, which supplies Edinburgh with water."
Tod's Well, on the side of Arthur's Seat, supplied Edinburgh, and since whisky derives its name from water (the Scots Gaelic term uisge beatha ), it could be that "Toddy" was a facetious name for whisky.

"Eye for an eye, and all that."
The phrase, "an eye for an eye", (ayin tachat ayin, literally 'an eye under an eye'), is a quotation from several passages of the Hebrew Bible in which a person who has injured the eye of another is instructed to pay compensation. It defined and restricted the extent of retribution in the laws of the Torah.

The English word talion means a punishment identical to the offense, from the Latin talio. The principle of "an eye for an eye" is often referred to using the Latin phrase lex talionis, the law of talion.

"Good godfreys mighty," Asey said.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Congregational church and more

"Congregational church," said Asey. "That's the only one you can hear from this place."
Congregational churches are Protestant Christian churches practicing Congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs.

Many Congregational churches claim their descent from a family of Protestant denominations formed on a theory of union published by the theologian Robert Browne in 1592. These arose from the Nonconformist religious movement during the Puritan reformation of the Church of England. In Great Britain, the early congregationalists were called separatists or independents to distinguish them from the similarly Calvinistic Presbyterians. Some congregationalists in Britain still call themselves Independent.

Congregational churches were widely established in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, later New England. The model of Congregational churches was carried by migrating settlers from New England into New York and the Old Northwest regions that now includes Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois. With their insistence on independent local bodies, they became important in many social reform movements, including Abolitionism and women's suffrage. Modern congregationalism in the U.S. is split into three bodies: the United Church of Christ, which most local Congregational churches affiliate with; the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches; and the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, an evangelical group.

"She was a lousy driver-we didn't talk much of any; why she even nicked a couple of fenders goin' through the main street here, she was so punk."
The term "Punk" has changed over the years. Punk is an archaic term for prostitute, as used by Shakespeare. In the 1930s, to be punk was to be careless, or upset or tired, in the 1950s "punk" came to mean teenagers who broke the law.

"I'm kind of afraid your escutcheon is going to suffer a blot or two."
In heraldry, an escutcheon is a shield which forms the main or focal element in an achievement of arms. The word is used in two related senses.

Firstly, as the shield on which a coat of arms is displayed. Escutcheon shapes are derived from actual shields used by knights in combat, and thus have varied and developed by region and by era. As this shape has been regarded as a war-like device appropriate to men only, British ladies customarily bear their arms upon a lozenge, or diamond-shape, while clergymen and ladies in continental Europe bear theirs on a cartouche, or oval.

To put a blot on the escutcheon means to dishonor it.

"That's the gospel truth."
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the Good News message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. However, the term is also used to refer to the Apocryphal gospels, the Non-canonical gospels, the Jewish gospels and the Gnostic gospels.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

And a little child shall lead them, and more

The Cape Cod Mystery, Phoebe Atwood Taylor, 1931pg 111

"An a little child shall lead them," Asey murmured.
This is a quote from the Bible, Isaiah 11:6:
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

Typically said when someone who isn't expected to know anything, makes a good suggsetion that embarrasses all those present who should have known better.

"A truthful man's as rare as a white crow."
White crows are albinos, and albino animals are rarely seen because they typically don't live very long, lacking protective coloring and also usually driven away from their protective family because they are different.

"Even if he had lied like a trooper..."
LIKE A TROOPER means with great energy, enthusiasm, or display, or just doing things to the extreme (like the early British soldiers supposedly did). And people have using the simile and attributing many things to being ‘done like a trooper’ since at least the 18th century including ‘swear like a trooper, ‘lie like a trooper, ‘eat like a trooper,’ ‘laugh like a trooper,’ and ‘die like a trooper.’ But, as mentioned above, some people may be referring to the characteristics of a hardworking actor (which technically should probably be spelled ‘trouper’ in this instance.

"He lied like the old Harry."
"The old Harry" is slang for the Devil.

"That's my story and I'm sticking to it."
Modern usage: something that you say when you have given an explanation about yourself which is not completely true, as for example, I'm not fat, I've just got big bones. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!"

But in the past, it was said seriously, by individuals who would answer a question from the police, or a lawyer, and then be asked the same question again and again.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bird in hand and more

The Cape Cod Mystery, Phoebe Atwood Taylor, 1931. pg 105
"Oh, we'll take him long 'v us. Bird in hand, you know. Like the lady in the Bible, whither we goest, he will go and whither he goest, we'll be there too."

1. This proverb refers back to mediaeval falconry where a bird in the hand (the falcon) was a valuable asset and certainly worth more than two in the bush (the prey).

The first citation of the expression in print in its currently used form is found in John Ray's A Hand-book of Proverbs, 1670, which he lists it as:

A [also 'one'] bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

By how much the phrase predates Ray's publishing isn't clear, as variants of it were known for centuries before 1670. The earliest English version of the proverb is from the Bible and was translated into English in Wycliffe's version in 1382, although Latin texts have it from the 13th century:

Ecclesiastes IX - A living dog is better than a dead lion.

Alternatives that explicitly mention birds in hand come later. The earliest of those is in Hugh Rhodes' The Boke of Nurture or Schoole of Good Maners, circa 1530:

"A byrd in hand - is worth ten flye at large."

2. "Whither thou goest is from the Bible, Ruth 1:16
King James Bible
And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God

He emerged from the doctor's looking like a figure from the Spirit of '76.
Archibald MacNeal Willard (August 22, 1836–October 11, 1918) was an American painter who was born and raised in Bedford, Ohio.[1]

Willard joined the 86th Ohio Infantry in 1863 and fought in the American Civil War. During this time he painted several scenes from the war, and forged a friendship with photographer James F. Ryder. Willard painted The Spirit of '76 in Wellington, Ohio after he saw a parade pass through the town square.[2]

Willard's most famous work is The Spirit of '76 (previously known as Yankee Doodle) which was exhibited at the Centennial Exposition. The original is displayed in Abbot Hall (Marblehead, Massachusetts) as Williard painted several variations of the now-famous scene. Another original variation of the work by Williard hangs in the United States Department of State. Of note, he used his father as the model for the middle character of the painting. Willard painted three murals in the main hall of the Fayette County, Ohio courthouse in Washington Court House, Ohio: "The Spirit of Electricity", "The Spirit of Telegraphy", and "The Spirit of the Mail".

"What's on the docket now?"
Also called trial docket. a list of cases in court for trial, or the names of the parties who have cases pending.

"That pin I'm holding in my hand. Not two other pins in Chicago."
In most of her books, Taylor has one of her characters say something similir to the above. It follows the same general formula. "Yes, this that I am holding in my hand, not two other this's in (some other state). It must therefore have been a common response to someone trying to disavow knowledge of something, but I can't find an exact reference to it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Infant Joy and more

The Cape Cod Mystery, Phoebe Atwood Taylor, pg 101

I was inventing a new candy to be called Infant Joy after the child in the poem who had no name but was three days old...
The poem is by William Blake (1757-1827) and Taylor has it wrong - the child was 2 days old.
'I have no name;
I am but two days old.'
What shall I call thee?
'I happy am,
Joy is my name.'
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty joy!
Sweet joy, but two days old.
Sweet Joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while;
Sweet joy befall thee!

"You hicks is muley."
Muley is of course to be mulish, stubborn. A mule, however, is generally not as stubborn as a donkey, but will not let itself be put in harms way by its rider (unlike a horse.)
A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse.[1] Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. Of the two F1 hybrids between these two species, a mule is easier to obtain than a hinny (the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey). All male mules and most female mules are infertile.

The size of a mule and work to which it is put depends largely on the breeding of the mule's dam. Mules can be lightweight, medium weight, or even, when produced from draught horse mares, of moderately heavy weight.[2]

An aficionado of the mule claims that they are "more patient, sure-footed, hardy and long-lived than horses, and they are considered less obstinate, faster, and more intelligent than donkeys.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the term is a "by-form" of the personal name Richard (like Dick) and Hob (like Bob) for Robert. Although the English word "hick" is of recent vintage, distinctions between urban and rural dwellers are ancient.

According to a popular etymology derives from the nickname "Old Hickory" for Andrew Jackson, one of the first Presidents of the United States to come from rural hard-scrabble roots. This nickname suggested that Jackson was tough and enduring like an old Hickory tree. Jackson was particularly admired by the residents of remote and mountainous areas of the United States, people who would come to be known as "hicks."

Though not a term explicitly denoting lower class, some argue that the term degrades impoverished rural people and that "hicks" continue as one of the few groups that can be ridiculed and stereotyped with impunity. In "The Redneck Manifesto," Jim Goad argues that this stereotype has largely served to blind the general population to the economic exploitation of rural areas, specifically in Appalachia, the South, and parts of the Midwest.

"The little pitcher done went once too often to the well."
This proverb has been in use since the 14th century, in practically every country/language.
The pitcher doth not go so often to the well, but it comes home broken at last.
- Proverb
The pitcher goes often to the well and gets broken at last.
- Proverb, (French)
The pitcher goes so long to the well that it breaks at last.
- Proverb, (Dutch)
The pitcher goes so often to the well that it is broken at last.
- Proverb
The pitcher goes so often to the well, that it gets broken at last.
- Proverb, (German)
The pitcher goes so often to the well, that it leaves its handle or its mouth.
- Proverb, (Spanish)
The pitcher that goes often to the fountain leaves there either its handle or its spout.
- Proverb, (Italian)
The pitcher that goes often to the well leaves either its handle or its spout there.
- Proverb, (Portuguese, Spanish)
The pitcher that goes too often to the well is broken at last.
- Proverb, (English)