THE TWILIGHT ZONE, PART FOUR: Classic Chills
Ah Sweet Mystery
by Brad
1d ago
There’s a moment early in Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) when a car driver (Albert Brooks) and a hitchhiker (Dan Ackroyd) are discussing which TZ television episode was the scariest. It’s a great intro to the movie, and it ends with Ackroyd saying to Brooks, “Do you want to see something really scary?” He then turns away from the camera, and when he turns back . . .  See, for me, the scariest part of that moment is when Ackroyd turns away. The possibilities of what he will reveal when he turns around are endless, and our fertile imaginations supply the most horrifying ..read more
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FOR MY DAD
Ah Sweet Mystery
by Brad
1d ago
Today I sit beside my father as he lies in hospice, and I think about baseball.  In the spring of 1964, we lived in Phoenix where my dad was trying to earn a living on a real estate boom that didn’t really boom until after we had returned to California a year later. At school, my teacher passed out application forms to all the boys for summer Little League. The prospect terrified me. It was just the thing my dad would love to do with his son, and this son was having none of it. I had accepted our co-membership into Indian Guides, where we became Big Bear and Little Bear. I had even enjoye ..read more
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THE TWILIGHT ZONE, PART 3: The Evil That Men Do
Ah Sweet Mystery
by Brad
1d ago
Rod Serling’s moralism ran high in the many parables he wrote to illustrate how rotten mankind can be. Sometimes, frankly, it could be unwatchable, like his 1964 TV-movie, A Carol for Another Christmas, a modern retelling of Dicken’s classic tale. Commissioned to promote the United Nations. Serling replaces the heart and charm of the original with grinding didacticism about war and greed and all the other fun in which we humans like to engage.  In the end, this modern Ebenezer doesn’t buy a turkey for the Cratchits, but he does sit down in the kitchen to have a cup of coffee in ..read more
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BOOK CLUB TURNS IMPIOUS: Villainy at Vespers
Ah Sweet Mystery
by Brad
2w ago
I’ve only just finished re-reading The Murder at the Vicarage, and – wouldn’t you know it? – now I want every village to be just like St. Mary Mead. But that’s not what we get in Trevelley, the not-so-bucolic den of iniquity nestled on the coast of Cornwall, in Joan Cockin’s Villainy at Vespers (1949). This is the second of three mysteries that Cockin wrote, and while a lot of us tend to focus on the Queens of Crime, a wealth of their contemporary women dashed off three to six mysteries and then called it a day (Harriet Rutland, et al) or turned to other literary matte ..read more
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THE TWILIGHT ZONE, PART 2: “A Land of Things and Ideas”
Ah Sweet Mystery
by Brad
2w ago
Audiences could relate to The Twilight Zone because it was essentially about the search for happiness. Granted, these searches were highly unusual, and the results were mixed. TZ is a highly moral show, and those who achieve a happy ending are people who earn it, through their general decency and kindness. I argued last week that Mr. Bemis of “Time Enough at Last” felt like a cruel exception – but then war is cruel. For the most part, TZ operated on the lines of justice; people got what they deserved.  There were a wide-range of “types” who appeared over and over again ..read more
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RANKING MARPLE #1: The Murder at the Vicarage
Ah Sweet Mystery
by Brad
2w ago
“Murder at the Vicarage was published in 1930, but I cannot remember where, when or how I wrote it, why I came to write it, or even what suggested to me that I should select a new character – Miss Marple – to act as the sleuth in the story. Certainly at the time I had no intention of continuing her for the rest of my life. I did not know that she was to become a rival to Hercule Poirot.”                        Agatha Christie, An Autobiography I would never accuse A ..read more
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RE-BRANDING (ENTRE’ACTE): The Spotted Cat and Other Mysteries
Ah Sweet Mystery
by Brad
2w ago
Welcome back to our revisit of the glorious and all-too-brief canon of mysteries by the wonderful Christianna Brand. Last year, we covered the first five novels, and in 2023, we will tackle the final five – including the one novel I have never read and another I have absolutely no memory of whatsoever. All in good time . . . for I thought we would start the year with a palate cleanser in the form of some of Brand’s short stories. Three collections – What Dread Hand? (1968), Brand X (1974), and Buffet for Unwelcome Guests (1983) are readily available and reasonably pric ..read more
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“. . . a land of both shadow and substance . . . ” THE TWILIGHT ZONE
Ah Sweet Mystery
by Brad
3w ago
Art mirrors life. And, like many a Boomer, I have found my parallels in books, movies and TV. Take the last six year – please! (Bah dah BUMP!) I have felt trapped in a cross between a Stephen King thriller (both The Stand and The Dead Zone come to mind) and Game of Thrones. Overshadowing it all, there has been the disquieting feeling that I’m trapped in my own private episode of The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling’s journey into the world of the fantastic, which ran on CBS from 1959 to 1964 and then settled into permanent syndication. (You can currently watch the entir ..read more
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RANKING MARPLE: A YEAR-LONG PROJECT
Ah Sweet Mystery
by Brad
1M ago
You can feel it in the air: 2023 is the Year of Marple. Whether it’s the start of a New Age, or merely continuing the joyous celebration that began when a story called “The Tuesday Night Club” appeared in The Royal Magazine in December 1927, is a matter up for discussion. What’s true is that the name of Jane Marple is on everyone’s tongues.  Everyone’s! As we speak, Mark Aldridge is busily at work on the follow-up to his 488 page opus on Hercule Poirot. Even though Agatha Christie wrote nearly three times as many novels and 2½ times as many short stories about the Belgian Blood ..read more
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FINAL READ OF THE YEAR!
Ah Sweet Mystery
by Brad
1M ago
“’So you’re a lawyer now?’ “’I guess so.’ “’Don’t you have, like, ten steps for solving crime or whatever? Just do – ‘ she wriggled her hands in the air like she was performing a magic trick –  ‘a bit of all that.’ “’They’re rules, not steps. And they’re not mine.’” Monseignor Ronald Knox, circa 1930 The “rules, not steps” mentioned above are the Ten Commandments of crime fiction that were invented by Father Ronald Knox back in 1924 as a guideline for how to write a mystery – or, at least, which cliches and narrative double crosses to avoid. After he wrote his Commandments, Knox sta ..read more
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