Oh Carol, Don't Let Him Steal Your Heart Away

… I'm gonna learn to dance if it takes me all night and day:

  • It's 42 Day. Go nuts.

  • It's no news to those of us in New Hampshire Congressional District 1, but: The VFW Ignores Its Members to Suck Up to Anti-Military Washington Incumbents. One of them is my own Congresswoman/Toothache, Carol Shea-Porter.

    For a bit of good news: the NYT's election prognosticator rates Carol's re-electoral chances as slim.

  • We've previously noted that Citizen of the World President Obama has no problem with xenophobic arguments, as long as he can make them in support of his continuing efforts to supress political speech. So he's been making a lot of noise about "foreign money" being used to "influence American elections", pointing his quivering accusatory finger specifically at the US Chamber of Commerce.

    That right-wing rag, the New York Times, checks out the claims and finds:

    But a closer examination shows that there is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents.
    I can see (however) why Obama and the Democrats he's trying to protect would rather talks about that than—you know—issues. (Via Insty, who recalls Obama's own history with foreign campaign money.)

Painted Ladies

[Amazon Link]

Posthumous Spenser novel. How depressing those words are. Writing machine Robert B. Parker left a few books in the publishing pipeline when he passed away earlier this year, and hanging over every Spenserian wisecrack here is the thought: you won't be reading too many more of these.

And this one is pretty good. Spenser has been on a streak in recent books: things don't work out well for clients who engage his private eye services. It's even worse than average here—dust-jacket spoiler coming up—his client only makes it to page 13.

Spenser had been hired to oversee a ransom demand for a stolen painting, the (fictitious) "Lady with a Finch" by the (equally fictitious) 17th century Dutch painter Franz Hermenszoon. His client is the supercilious Ashton Prince.

"May I count on your discretion?" he said.

"Sure," I said.

"I'm serious," he said.

"I can tell," I said.

He frowned slightly. Less in disapproval than in uncertainty.

"Well," he said, "may I?"

"Count on my discretion?"


"At the moment, I don't have anything to be discreet about," I said. "But I would be if I did."

He stared at me for a moment, then smiled.

"I see," he said. "You're attempting to be funny."

"'Attempting'?" I said.

It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I've been chuckling at dialog like that for around thirty-five years, and, for me, it never gets old.

The payoff doesn't go well, especially for Ashton. Spenser, being Spenser, feels it necessary to crack the case anyway, even lacking a paying client. He is, as always, relentless and indefatigable. Soon, he rattles enough cages to put himself in danger.

My impression is that Spenser devotes a higher-than-average amount of time doing detecting here, which is good, and there might be fewer pages than normal containing tedious banter with his sweetie Susan—also good.

Last Modified 2012-10-02 2:13 PM EST

Where Danger Lives

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link] Part one of a film noir double feature from Netflix.

Robert Mitchum plays young Dr. Jeff Cameron, about to finish up his rounds at the hospital one night, when in comes an attempted suicide victim, who identifies herself only as "Margo". Dr. Jeff pulls Margo back from the brink. (It's not clear what she did to herself, and Dr. Jeff's procedure seems to be confined to hovering over her and staring into her eyes.) The next day Margo checks herself out of the hospital, but later sends Dr. Jeff a wire bidding him to her stately manor. To "explain." But it turns out her house is… Where Danger Lives!

That's the most likely explanation for the title, anyway.

Soon enough, Dr. Jeff is neglecting his nurse girlfriend (Maureen O'Sullivan, who should have stayed in the jungle with Tarzan). Instead, he's hanging out with Margo. But soon, Claude Rains shows up at the mansion (where danger lives, remember) and big trouble ensues. Margo and Dr. Jeff find it necessary to go on the lam, where they encounter suspense and sleaze.

Partway through, Mitchum suffers a head injury, which he deems a "concussion". Since he's playing a doctor, you might give some weight to his diagnosis, but inexpert medical consensus at Pun Salad Manor deemed his symptoms more consistent with subdural hematoma. Complicating things: Mitchum exhibits slurred speech both before and after his injury.

Last Modified 2012-10-02 2:12 PM EST