“Billie” – The Trailer is Here!

I want to see the documentary, Billie!

Billie Holiday had one of the greatest voices of all time and changed the face of American music. She was a woman of breath-taking talent and global popularity while also stirring controversy. She started a notable rebellion singing “Strange Fruit” which exposed the realities of Black life in America and earned her powerful enemies. Raw, emotional and brutally honest, Billie is filled with never-before-heard interviews from musical greats like Charles Mingus, Tony Bennett, Sylvia Syms and Count Basie.
Director: James Erskine

“Challenger: The Final Flight” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

The Challenger explosion is one of those moments, like 9/11, that if you’re old enough, you remember exactly where you were when you heard the news.  I was a second year science teacher in Holly Hill, Florida.  Although I’ve always had an interest in space exploration, being a science teacher in Florida made following the progress of our shuttle program a natural.  For the first time ever, a civilian, a teacher was riding along!

I had just taken my students to lunch and was heading in to the teacher’s lounge when the lift-off occurred.  Most of us went outside because we knew we’d be able to see the trail left as the shuttle headed up.  As we watched we could see what appeared to be a separation and two different trails forming.  Someone said what I was thinking, “This doesn’t look right.”  We all headed to the tv to learn that the shuttle had exploded.  We were stunned.  Afterwards, it felt like the nation was in mourning.  We had lost true American heroes.

I look forward to Challenger: The Final Flight.

Executive produced by J.J. Abrams and Glen Zipper, Challenger: The Final Flight is a four-part docuseries that examines the 1986 Challenger space shuttle, which tragically broke apart 73 seconds after launch as millions of Americans watched live on television. Incorporating never-before-seen interviews and rare archival material, this series offers an in-depth look at one of the most diverse crews NASA assembled, including high school teacher Christa McAuliffe, who was selected to be the first private citizen in space.

The History of Our Universe in 13,799 Dominoes

Kurtis Baute makes videos about science and about the environment.  The one below explains in understandable terms the age and history of the universe.  Watching Baute telling us what is happening each step of the way and realizing that each domino (of the 13,799) equals one million years is mind-blowing.  And wait until you see the representation of how long humans have been around.

Well done, Mr. Baute.

Silent Films, Anyone?

I wonder how many reading this can name all three of the gentlemen above?  Probably just about everyone knows Charlie Chaplin (far right), but the other two?  The man in the middle is Buster Keaton and the guy leading the pack is Lon Chaney.  These men were the stars of their day, when movies had no sound.

My guess is we lost a few readers when they saw the title of this post and even more dropped off before getting this far.  If you’re reading now you’re hopefully either a fan of silent movies or are open to checking some out.  As for me, I’m a fan.  

Most folks who like silent movies started with the comedies.  There were so many made by greats such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy and Fatty Arbuckle.  The great thing about silent film comedy is that most of the gags are ageless.  The first silent movies I remember seeing were comedies, but my enjoyment of silent film really took off with the discovery of silent horror movies.

Lon Chaney was the king of silent horror films starring in classics such as The Phantom of the Opera, The Unknown, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and so many others.  Chaney was equally adept in crime films and dramas.  Known as The Man of 1,000 Faces, Chaney created his own make-up for each role.  If you lean more to horror, crime films and dramas, then Lon Chaney is the star to look for.

If comedy is more to your liking, then I’d suggest checking out Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr., The General or Sherlock, Jr.  Perhaps you want to go to the best known silent film star, Charlie Chaplin.  My suggestions for you would be The Kid, The Circus, Shoulder Arms or almost any of Chaplin’s work in silent films.  Charlie Chaplin is one of the few silent film stars who transitioned to talkies and continued to be successful.

TCM is a great source for silent films.  I recorded and have been making my way through many of Charlie Chaplin’s films that are new to me.  TCM runs silent films each week late on Sunday night and at various times throughout each month.  Check your listings and give some a go.  You, of course can also find great silent movies on other channels, streaming and dvd.

If you’re a fan of silent films or check some out, let me know your thoughts and send some recommendations my way.  Don’t be silent about your favorites.  ; )

The Strange Case of the Circleville Writer – A True Modern Day Mystery!

Until today, I had never heard of The Circleville Writer.  This true modern day mystery involves a mysterious person who sent multiple letters to people detailing their infidelities and advising them to confess. 

The Circleville Writer wrote about cheating spouses, child molesters and more.  The letters continued to arrive and then signs started appearing around the city making the same claims. Before it was over there was a murder, an attempted murder, booby traps and a prison sentence… but not for the Circleville Writer!  He/she was never caught and the allegations about the different people he/she wrote about were proved to be true!

For full details check out Top 10 Strange Facts About The Circleville Writer by Benjamin Welton posted at Listverse.

Remembering Burger Chef, Star Wars, Mike Kott and Me!

If you’re of a particular age, it is almost a certainty that you dined ate at a Burger Chef.  If you’re younger, then you may not have ever heard of the one-time fast food giant. 

Back in the 1970s, Burger Chef was second only to McDonalds as far as fast food franchises went.  Burger Chef was a hit and as a result their investors were earning returns where 50% wasn’t unheard of. 

Burger Chef’s popularity was because they served a comparable (some would say even better) meal than other fast food joints and Burger Chef was making innovative moves.  Burger Chef was the first with…

  • Funmeals: geared towards kids.  Each Funmeal came with a sandwhich, small fries, small drink and a toy!  Five years later McDonalds started serving Happy Meals using the same concept.
  • Works Bar:  Burger King said you could have it “your way”.  Burger Chef took things a step further with the Works Bar.  Each Works Bar contained everything you might want to doctor up your sandwhich!
  • Salad Bar:  Burger Chef offered a fully stocked salad bar and this was waay before the health craze hit.
  • Media Tie-Ins:  Burger Chef saw the importance of media tie-ins and so they made deals linking their food to kid popular franchises like Star Wars and The Brady Bunch.

I worked at a Burger Chef when I was in college.  I’ve shared this story before but if you missed it or would just like to revisit it, check out Star Wars, Burger Chef, Mike Kott and Me.

I have good memories of the folks I worked with and the food we served at Burger Chef.  It’s too bad the chain didn’t survive.  MeTV posted What ever happened to the Burger Chef chain? that explains their rise and fall.  Since you’ve read this far, you’d probably enjoy it.  

“Killadelphia Volume 1: Sins of the Father” / Z-View

Killadelphia Volume 1: Sins of the Father is a paperback that collects issues 1 – 6 of an on-going series published by Image Comics. .

Writer: Rodney Barnes
Artist: Jason Shawn Alexander
Colorist: Luis NCT
Letters by: Marshall Dillon
Cover Artist: Jason Shawn Alexander & Luis NCT 

*** Beware – spoilers may be found below ***

Featuring the show-stopping talents of Spawn series artist JASON SHAWN ALEXANDER, and the writer behind such hit shows as Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Marvel’s Runaways, and Starz’s American Gods–RODNEY BARNES.

When a small town beat cop comes home to bury his murdered father-the revered Philadelphia detective James Sangster Sr.-he begins to unravel a mystery that leads him down a path of horrors and shakes his beliefs to their core.

The city that was once the symbol of liberty and freedom has fallen prey to corruption, poverty, unemployment, brutality…
…and vampires.

But the mystery goes even further when Jimmy’s investigation leads him to uncover the source of the outbreak is long-thought dead President of the United States John Adams–a man secretly biding his time as he builds an undead army to start a new and bloodier American revolution.

There’s a reason they coin a phrase, “you can’t go home.” Welcome to Killadelphia.

Collects KILLADELPHIA #1-6

Killadelphia is a book you should be reading if you like intelligently written and beautifully drawn horror comics.

Rodney Barnes’ idea of a modern day vampire uprising in Philadelphia led by a centuries old founding father is so audacious that we’re lucky Barnes took his story past the idea stage.   Killadelphia is a very cool, very creepy tale that paints a big picture universe introduced to us through believable characters who find themselves in an unbelievable situation.

Modern day vampires?  Yeah, right.  Read Killadelphia and you’re response will become: Modern day vampires?  Yeah!  Right!

Jason Shawn Alexander provides realistic art for Killadelphia which supports the story;  you believe what you’re seeing.  The characters look like real people (some of whom are vampires).  Alexander has drawn scenes that will creep you out and perhaps inspire nightmares… which is exactly what great horror fiction should do.  I hope that Barnes and Alexander stay together as long as Killadelphia tales are told.

Luis NCT’s colors provide nuance and emphasis that enhance each scene and his contribution to the success of Killadelphia shouldn’t be overlooked.

I thought that Killadelphia would be a good comic.  I underestimated it.  Killadelphia is an exceptional comic and one all horror fans should try.


Rating:

Matthew Childer’s Edgar Allan Poe Art and Trivia!

In addition to being one fine artist, Matthew Childers is also an Edgar Allan Poe fan.  As such, he recently posted a print he created of Poe (above) as well as 10 Mind-blowing Facts About Edgar Allan Poe.  Although you can see the print here,  it’s available for purchase at Matthew’s site plus you can check out the Edgar Allan Poe trivia… and other pieces of his art.

“The Most Dangerous Animal of All” – Documentary Names the Zodiac Killer!

The Most Dangerous Animal of All is going to be must-see TV!  Check out the trailer below!

Based on The New York Times best-selling book of the same name, The Most Dangerous Animal of All is a four-part documentary series on FX that explores one man’s search for the father who abandoned him, only to uncover the worst: he believes his father is the Zodiac killer, one of the most infamous serial killers in American history.

Real vs TV Western Heroes by John Severin!

It’s no secret portrayals of real people are often glamorized in movies and TV.  Well, way back in 1960, when westerns were king of television air waves, Cracked magazine had John Severin create drawings showing the differences between Real and TV western heroes. 

Above we can see the differences between the real and TV versions of Billy the Kid and a Bounty Hunter.  If you click over to BookSteve’s Library you can check out Real vs TV… Lawmen, Cochise, Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hicock and Jim Hardie.

The Real-Life Horror Hotel of H.H. Holmes, America’s First Serial Killer

Herman Mudgett took the name Henry Howard Holmes when he moved to Chicago to begin work as a pharmacist.  He took on the new identity because he was on the run from as a suspect in some unexplained murders.  Rather than start a new uneventful life, Holmes instead continued his killing spree, which earned him the title of America’s First Serial Killer.

Holmes famously built a rooming house that has been called a Horror Hotel and Murder Castle.  He hired workers and fired them after they completed sections of the building.  This was so none but Holmes would know the layout and the horrors hiding within.  There were secret passageways, spots to spy on unsuspecting guests and rooms designed for murder.

The year was 1893 and the World’s Fair was in Chicago.  Rooms were at a premium and Holmes had new potential victims arriving daily.  After he was caught Holmes confessed to 27 murders but some folks put the actual number closer to 200.

Cheish Merryweather at Listverse posted 10 Horrifying Facts About H. H. Holmes’ Hotel.  If you’ve read this far, you’ll probably want to click over.

I also recommend The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson.  It’s an award-winning novel chock full about facts about you know who and his horror hotel.