Thursday, June 22, 2017

L. Frank Baum, father of the Wizard of Oz

Lyman Frank Baum created a whole world in his Oz series for children. Published originally in 1900, the original Oz book has gone through countless printings, and the 1939 movie based on it is considered one of the greatest movies ever made. This article, by Daniel Mannix, which appeared in the December 1964 issue of American Heritage, is a tribute to both the man and his creation.

Copyright © 1964 American Heritage













Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The hungry, haunted house

Haunted house stories in fiction can be very entertaining, even if you don’t believe in ghosts and wandering spirits or demons.

I don’t know if Robert Bloch believed in the supernatural. But he was a writer who wrote all kinds of fictional weird tales, including stories of hauntings. He made his living writing stories like “The Hungry House.” I am presenting the scans from its original appearance in the magazine, Imagination, April, 1951. So, whether you believe in ghosts or not...boo!

















Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Hollywood Rule: Between facts and legend, show the legend

I watched The Revenant again recently. This time I felt the need to look up what is known of the mountain man, Hugh Glass, an attack by a grizzly bear, and the truth of his quest for revenge on men who left him to die. During my second viewing I thought the story seemed too good to be true, more Hollywood than fact.


Such is actually the case. Or what little is known of it. Glass’s encounter with the bear happened in the wilderness in 1823, which was a long way from any newspapers or traditional ways of telling the story. The historical accounts I was able to find don’t mention the son of Glass, killed by the slimy Fitzgerald (played by Tom Hardy), as shown in the movie version.

This cartoonist’s version of the Glass story, taken from an old pulp magazine (sorry, I don’t know which one), has Glass going after the men who left him to die, but then forgiving them. In the movie he exacts a gory and violent revenge, which makes a lot better cinema, but impugns Glass’s real-life character.

Click on it to make it big.


This article, "A Difficult Man to Kill" from True West magazine, tells what is known of the facts of the story.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What DON’T we know about Donald Trump?

Copyright  © 2017 Par Holman

Since the election of Donald Trump this past November this blog has been mostly about my outrage. I have found out that to a lot of other people, not just me, there have been feelings of depression and anxiety. Depression that we have four years (at least) to look at this man's face, and anxiety that we don’t know what he will do.

In most of my posts I reiterate my feeling that what we do know about Trump makes us wonder about what we don’t know. Personally, I want see more of his taxes. I was interested in the one example we have, released by the White House ahead of Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC. The taxes showed that in 2005 Trump had earned about $158 million, but paid taxes of $38 million. That seems fair and right to me. A statement he made after that revelation was not challenged by any of the TV people who make a living talking about Trump, that Trump wanted to change the tax codes to prevent that from happening again. I am surprised the news media (what Trump calls "fake news" if it doesn’t agree with him) didn’t pick up on that. Trump would like to change the tax laws to be more in favor of the rich. As he attempts to do just that, we will have to see how it all shakes out. I hope there are enough members of the Congress and Senate to block new laws that just shift more of the tax burden on middle class families.

Recent revelations about another rich man, Fox News broadcaster Bill O’Reilly, paying millions to women suing him for sexual harassment brings back my oft-repeated question about Trump. How much has he paid women to keep quiet about his own sexual proclivities? He is a self-confessed adulterer, and has bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy,” not to mention being caught on tape describing his days as owner of the Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA pageants. He was able to walk into the dressing room where young women were in various forms of undress, and brag there wasn’t anything they could do about it. He was the boss! He has also been sued by several women for groping and unwanted sexual attention, but it seems as soon as those stories appear they disappear. The women allow themselves to be identified. Trump would like everyone to believe they are lying. But I believe the stories fit the image we have already of Trump.

Another big nine-day wonder of a story had to do with Trump paying Russian prostitutes to urinate on the hotel room bed that Barack and Michelle Obama had slept in while guests in Russia. Again fitting Trump’s image it could be true, but I believe the news media has dropped it because its origin is hard to pin down. Of course Trump denies it, but then he denies everything negative about him. In this case he could be right. I believe we will probably have to wait until the various investigations about the Trump dealings with the Russians are completed. And I am only about 50% certain those investigations will be unbiased, actually looking for the truth rather than a whitewash.

I still think, as the cartoon above shows, that Trump has proverbial skeletons in the proverbial closet. A guy doesn’t get through life defrauding contractors, denying certain races access to his rental properties, groping women, having a couple of ex-wives who say nothing about him because of non-disclosure agreements, without having a lot of things someone knows about him that have not been made public.

I also read that Trump has had over 3500 lawsuits, both those brought against him, and suits he has brought. He is sued for not living up to a contract or for egregious behavior. He has more lawsuits than the next five most successful realtors in New York combined.

Timothy O’Brien, who wrote a book a few years ago that claimed Trump was worth about 150 to 250 million, rather than the billions he claims, was sued. Trump lost that one. Trump also uses the threats of suits to shut down what people say about him. For Trump image is everything, and when people point out that his image is tarnished beyond hope of re-plating or polishing he turns to his lawyers. That's the sure sign of a bully: pick a fight, then get someone else to go to battle for him.