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.