First and foremost: Today is Memorial Day. I have nothing but respect for those who serve all of us in our most dangerous and difficult times. And I mourn each and every one who gave his or her life in the performance of that service. And that is what Memorial Day is all about (not to be confused with Veterans Day, which is about all who served, not all who died in the line of duty).
But as an old idealist non-hippie (I was just too young), I wonder whatever happened to the notion that someday we might get to the point that we wouldn't need armed conflict to settle our disagreements. Young people used to protest and demonstrate against wars (granted, much of that protest was due to the fact that there was a draft, and a great number of us didn't want to serve in any war at all), and now they are simply trying to keep their scholarship grants in an awful economy. Times change.
Like I said, I have enormous respect for everyone who serves and has served. But wouldn't it be better if, someday, we didn't have a need for Memorial Day anymore?
Moving on: Take a look at the new blog KILLER CHARACTERS, starting tomorrow. A great group of cozy mystery characters will be posting there (starting with Olivia Limoges from Ellery Adams's A KILLER PLOT), and I have it on the highest authority that Alison Kerby, main character of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED, will be there every second of the month (for those of you wondering, that means Alison's first post will be this Wednesday).
There was no way I would even consider not mentioning that E.J. Copperman's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED will make its long-awaited (by me and a handful of others) debut tomorrow. This warm, funny, spooky mystery is so close to my own work, it's almost as if I had written it myself.
If you know what I mean.
So yes, I'm going to make a blatant, shameless plea: Go buy (or stay in and buy) NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED, the first Haunted Guesthouse mystery, tomorrow. Or, you know, now. Or soon. But do buy it. It's only $7.99 (or less). Give some as gifts. Use it to hold up the short leg of the kitchen table, and buy another one to read.
When A NIGHT AT THE OPERATION, the last Double Feature Mystery (alas) was published last year, I offered a list of things that you could do other than buy the book. Unfortunately, too many of you took that advice, and did one of those other things. So now, I'm going to offer reasons you should buy NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED.
1. It's a very good book. (I can offer reviews that attest to this, so you don't have to take my word for it.)
2. It supports higher education. That is, every time a book is sold, it goes in part toward sending two wonderful children to college. Believe me.
3. It'll make a statement in favor of books, as opposed to TV, movies, bungee jumping and other entertainment options.
4. You'll feel good. Honestly. Buy this book, and you'll feel good. Even if you read it.
5. It's not about vampires. Ghosts, sure, but not vampires.
6. I'll be your best friend.
7. You can get a bookmark autographed by E.J. Copperman just by asking.
8. Buying this book will just about GUARANTEE the publication of its sequel, AN UNINVITED GHOST, next April.
9. My mother will be very happy.
10. It has a really good cover.
11. There's a book launch party Friday night, and if you buy one, you can have it autographed there!
LP-to-Digital Conversion Project: Judy Small, I'm told, is an Australian folk singer with a strong feminist bent. The album I converted from my wife's collection consisted mainly of scolding men, which I found just a little bit objectionable, even if I didn't always disagree with it. Maybe if there'd been a tune.
When Saturday Night Live was new (in 1976), it became such a sensation that a record album taking some of the more recognizable bits from the show's first season was inevitable. But listening to it now illustrates exactly how important the visual component was, and makes us even that much more grateful for DVD. The famous "uvula" sketch ends up revolving around the constant repetition of the word "uvula," which gets old quickly, but the Weekend Update segments with Chevy Chase still work for the those of us old enough to remember what he's talking about.
Boz Scaggs started out in the Steve Miller Band, then broke out on his own, and didn't really hit his stride until he recorded Silk Degrees in 1976. Alas, I already had this album, its follow-up Middle Man and a few others on CD, so there was no reason to convert them. The early albums were a mixed bag, with some blue-eyed soul, country, rock and straight pop. The voice was there, but the songwriting took off later.
The week ended with Seals and Crofts, a duo whose presence in the collection is, I'm afraid, all my responsibility. Talented musicians who could find a melody, harmony and hooks in almost anything, they also had such tin ears for lyrics--and such heavy handed religious and political opinions--that listening to them now borders on embarrassing. The hooks are still there, the voices blend nicely, but the words make you want to get on the phone and ask these guys why they didn't hire someone else to do the lyrics for them. Just about to get to "Summer Breeze," but I'm sure it doesn't get much better from here.