An Awesome time to live

Can a computer compose a piece of music? Sounds like a question better posed to one of Isaac Asimov’s fictional future robots, doesn’t it? But something like that has just happened. Ludwig van Beethoven died nearly 200 years ago. In his lifetime, despite going deaf toward the end, he composed nine symphonies popular to this […]

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Eyewitness Errancies

I’ve been reading here and there about how eyewitness testimony can be undependable. It’s been shown to have happened in any number of court cases, for example, where people convicted by such testimony have later been proven innocent beyond all doubt. And now I have had my own confirmation of this phenomenon, from an unlikely […]

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Time Capsule Book

I found a treasure recently at a place called ThriftBooks–a 190-page book titled The Proceedings: DISCON. What it was is transcriptions from tape recordings of speeches, panels and other parts of the 21st World Science Fiction Convention held in 1963 in Washington, D.C. First, some backstory: When I got out of the service in 1963, […]

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Science Fiction and the Coronavirus

Science fiction foresaw the exploration of space, under the sea, and of future societies, among so many things. But did it ever come near producing a story about the way we’re living now with the coronavirus? Well, not exactly. But SF never has really been in the prediction business. It’s more a template for trying […]

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Roy Barcroft

Roy Barcroft (1902-1969), born Howard Ravenscroft, may have provided more western movie entertainment to more people than any one single actor. Modeling his approach on that of another perennial movie villain, Harry Woods, Barcroft appeared in more than 300 movies and TV shows. He could do the slick boss villain (usually with a mustache) or […]

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Prairie Princess Peggy Stewart

Fans of old-time westerns (a diminishing group these days) sustained a major loss earlier this year (May 29, 2019) when we lost Peggy Stewart, one of the perkiest leading ladies ever to grace the silver screen. She never seemed to lose her enthusiasm for those pictures, as evidenced by her appearances at western film festivals […]

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tribute to cowboys

Okay, I’ve gone and done it. I’ve perpetrated a Western. Well, sort of a Western. It starts in Hollywood, in 1950, but soon flashes back to the traditional West of the 1800s. After years of publishing science-fiction and (I guess) science-fantasy, it was inevitable that I’d try a western sooner or later. Unfortunately, it’s probably […]

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Destination: MOONs

No, that’s not a misprint. There were many incarnations of the 1950 movie, Destination: Moon. The movie, as its title makes clear, is a story about the first flight to the moon: the development of the idea, the securing of financial and industrial backing, choosing the crew, and the flight itself, the suspense being whether […]

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The OTHER masked rider

They say only an intellectual can listen to the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger. There is also a short musical theme conducted by Mischa Bakileinikoff, which sounds a like a few notes from Rimsky-Korsakov’s Le Coq D’or, which would make some viewers of ‘40s and ‘50s B-westerns think immediately of the […]

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The Cisco Kid’s Pedigree

I have a dim memory of first encountering the Cisco Kid in the person of Gilbert Roland, during a weekend double feature at my hometown B-western theater where I spent many happy hours. I’ve never been able to identify the particular movie. But, today, I do know a lot more about the Cisco Kid. The […]

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