Which new would-be journals are worth helping out?

Posted in open access on June 17th, 2014

This question was raised–not at all in those words–by a thoughtful reader of Journals, “Journals” and Wannabes: Investigating The List. Noting that six out of ten journals from The Lists were totally empty (but possibly brand new), essentially empty or had few articles, this person wondered when it would make sense to submit an article (or join an editorial board), given my conclusion that–for most authors–ignoring these “journals” and wannabes was most reasonable.

I thought about that, and I’ve prepared a tentative draft commentary, one that appears at the end of “Ethics and Access 3,” scheduled to appear in the August or September 2014 Cites & Insights.

But of course I’m no expert: I’m not a traditional scholar, tenure has never been an issue, etc., etc.

So I’m asking:

What are your suggestions?

Given a new or not-yet-established journal, what would you look for as positive or negative indicators for possible submission or participation (beyond the usual red flags)?

I think this may devolve into three subcategories:

  • Subscription and hybrid journals (I’m not ready to distinguish between those)
  • APC-charging Gold OA journals
  • No-fee Gold OA journals

I believe the bar is significantly lower for the third category than for the first two. Given the sheer number of journals out there already, I believe the bar for the first two should be fairly high–a big part of that bar being “Why do we need another journal on X?”

Comments? Either below or via email to waltcrawford at gmail.com

By July 7 to be most useful as I revise that essay (or scrap it). Unless you feel the need to offer suggestions as background, comments or email will be treated as quotable with attribution.

Thanks!

Slice of life post

Posted in Stuff on June 15th, 2014

So today we decided to walk to one of the readily-walkable nearby wineries, seeing as how we hadn’t done that in a while, it’s a beautiful day (high 70s with a breeze), and it makes for a three-mile walk (round-trip), a little more exercise than our usual 1.3-mile daily “walk around the block.” And we wanted to see how this winery was doing.

We approach the winery–which is also a wedding and other event venue–and see a fair number of cars, at least a dozen, probably more. That’s OK; we’ve been in crowded tasting rooms before.

Walk into the tasting room. There are maybe four or six other people there (in addition to three staff).

So, two-thirds of the way through the tasting (their wines continue to improve), we mention the number of cars. And get a good answer

“There was a wedding here last night…”

and apparently some of the guests were enjoying themselves a lot. (There was mention of people dancing without shoes. The word “tipsy” was used, and another staffer said that wasn’t quite the right word.)

So there was a bus that picked people up and took them to–well, somewhere (the local resort? a local hotel? home?)

Thus, a bunch of cards left over from the wedding. Which will presumably disappear eventually.

Much better than having a bunch of drunken fools on the roads on Saturday night!

[For those familiar with some parts of California wine country: This is Livermore, the oldest California wine region. But not one of the best-known. 50-odd wineries & tasting rooms, but only two very large operations; most places are only open Friday-Sunday for four or five hours a day, although at least half a dozen, maybe a dozen are now open daily.

Oh, and the tasting prices: $5 for the standard flight of five wines (plus a bonus wine); $10 for the reserve flight of six wines (plus a bonus). Perfectly OK for the two of us to share one tasting (I only drink white, my wife mostly drinks red, and Livermore caters a lot more to her than to me).]

 

Library philosophy: the essay(s) that won’t be written

Posted in Cites & Insights on June 14th, 2014

A couple of times, when I’ve expressed frustration over failing in providing something I thought was of real value to libraries (e.g., the series of events that have led me to give up on public library projects in general), my wife–who has been an academic library director, public library cataloger/head of cataloging and more–has suggested:

“Maybe the library world has moved on. Maybe you should do the same. I’m sure the Livermore Friends of the Library could use your help.”

What she’s suggesting is anywhere from cutting back to dropping this stuff entirely.

I’m certainly not ready to do the latter, at least not yet.

On the other hand…

adding value

An ongoing issue for any of my writing and research is that it should add value to the field.

There’s two pieces to that: actually doing something that hasn’t been done before, and (enough) people in the field regarding what I do as valuable.

there’s no value if there’s no perception of value

That’s another way to put it. Apparently only a few dozen public libraries/librarians thought my first “Give Us a Buck” effort was valuable…and essentially none thought the second effort was worth even a sawbuck.

Was I doing something that hadn’t been done before? Yes. Was it actually worthwhile–did it actually add value? Apparently not.

which brings us back to library philosophy

After I finished up Cites & Insights 14:7 (entirely original content, and I hope that it’s regarded as added value, but we shall see…) and took a day off entirely, I looked at the kind of thing I mostly do in C&I–that is, take a set of other people’s essays that I’ve given the same tag in Diigo, look them over again, and construct a useful narrative out of the citations and my comments.

Looking over my Diigo library–as of June 10, right around 1,750 tags for (I”d guess) around 1,550-1,600 items–I concluded two things:

  1. I should proceed with Ethics and Access 3, the catchall set of stories that adds to the first two essays.
  2. I should look at some of the tags and see whether I still believe I’m likely to add value

the first of those is in progress

and going reasonably well, I think. The draft is probably halfway done. It should be a half-issue essay, maybe 8,000 to 10,000 words, and more of a mosaic than either of the first two.

the second…well, here comes library philosophy again

The most frequently used tag in my Diigo library as of June 10, 2014 was “lib-phil,” one of 19 or 20 “lib-” tags. It had 133 items, accumulated over the last four years.

Using my typical methods, that’s not one essay: it would yield about 66,000 words, give or take 15,000, which is at least two and probably three issues. (C&I 14.7 is 17,322 words long; C&I 14.4 and 14.5 together are 55,600 words.)

That’s not important: After all, the Ethics triptych became a three-parter because there were too many items for one essay and I found I could split them easily enough into two neat essays and one mosaic.

What is important, however: I was no longer especially confident that I would be adding any significant value other than “here’s a bunch of neat things you may have forgotten” (and “here’s a bunch of things I disagree with and why I disagree with them”).

I’m not a librarian, either academic or public (or school or special). Pace Chris Bourg, I’m not even a feral librarian: I haven’t worked in a library since 1979, and never worked in a librarianlike role.

I’m not a library philosopher–or, rather, that really is a case where the library world has moved on and I no longer believe I should be trying to influence its overall direction. (I’m not sure I ever really did: Neither Balanced Libraries nor Future Libraries was, in my opinion, a real attempt to change the course of library philosophy so much as to avoid what I regarded as unfortunate course changes.)

going through the articles

So, after writing about half of the Ethics and Access essay, I started going through the lib-phil items, a few at a time. I read part or all of (most of) the items (not all: about one-third had evaporated in the way of the web).

And I either assigned a new tag for a topic where I still thought, perhaps, I could add significant value, or I deleted the tag.

I just finished that process. Two items were retagged (one already had a secondary tag). The rest–131 of them–are gone.

realistic, not sad; one choice, not an overall decision

I found it interesting to reread some of these posts, columns and essays, especially those more than a year old. I read most of the comments as well. (I will admit that I did not make it all the way through two or three posts in the blog/journal hybrid I alternate between admiring and wanting to avoid.)

I also found that–in nearly all the cases–I honestly didn’t think that Walt Crawford had anything especially valuable to add to the stories; that this particular train had left the station.

That’s realistic. It’s not sad.

This was also one choice–the most heavily-populated tag.

It may be a partial decision (I’m less and less likely to believe that pontificating about What Libraries Should Be is a valuable use of my time and energy, either for me or for anyone else–which, of course, won’t stop me from commenting in various social spaces). I’ll look at the other 18-19 “lib-” tags carefully and skeptically.

I noticed the extent to which a few writers kept popping up, and at some point said to myself, “If Chris Bourg or Barbara Fister or Wayne Bivens-Tatum want to do essay collections, that’s up to them.” I dunno whether any or all of them will (there are one or two other names and one pseudonym, but these are the three most obvious cases), but in any case I found myself with little to add other than “Still good stuff. Go read it.” (WBT made things easier by deleting perhaps half of the essays I would have considered. That’s his choice.)

what’s next?

Dunno. I haven’t decided to stop writing, not yet, not entirely.

One minor anecdote: Until two hours before I prepared the final PDFs, the date for C&I 14.7 was July/August 2014, an express statement that I was going to take it easy.

I finally decided that this was pointless. The publication’s already irregular. I don’t intend for Volume 14 to have anything close to as many pages as Volumes 12 and 13, but I expect it will have more pages than Volume 11. (Respectively, 11, 12, and 13 total 274, 394 and 398 pages. Volume 14 to date totals 202 pages–so even four 20-page issues would take it past Volume 11.)

Partly things will depend on whether there’s any additional support or sponsorship for C&I (three supporters to date: count them, three). Partly things will depend on how recent essays are received and whether I believe they’re having any useful impact. Partly things will depend on whether the (slightly delayed at ALA) Library Technology Reports issue is well-received (and maybe generates at least a few sales of the related book!).

Partly things will depend on going through more of these tag lists, seeing what still makes me feel there’s something worth saying, and seeing where that winds up.

The local Friends group? Yeah, I might get involved (which probably means spending a couple of hours a week helping out at the bookstore). That doesn’t preclude other writing, of course; just cutting back and refocusing.

for that matter, the blog might come back to life

There haven’t been many non-announcement posts. That might change. Maybe.

Cites & Insights July 2014 (14:7) available

Posted in Cites & Insights, open access on June 9th, 2014

Cites & Insights 14:7 (July 2014) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i7.pdf

That URL is for the traditional two-column print-oriented ejournal. If you plan to read the journal on a computer, a tablet or other e-device (and if you plan to follow links), you’re much better off–especially in this case–downloading the single-column online-oriented version at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i7on.pdf

[Links may not work from the two-column version. Conversely, some boldface may not show up in the one-column version. This issue has two dozen tables, some of which have smaller type in the two-column version, making the one-column version easier to read.]

The two-column version is 24 pages long. The single-column 6×9 version is 45 pages long.

The issue consists of a single essay, all original material (except for a few excerpts from publisher pages):

Intersections
Journals, “Journals” and Wannabes: Investigating the List (pp. 1-24)

Jeffrey Beall’s 4P (potential, probable, possible predatory) publisher and journal lists total 9,219 journals in early April 2014.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) totals 9.822 journals as of early June 2014.

9,219 is 93.9% of 9,822.

But: 90.8% of the journals in DOAJ are not represented in Beall’s lists.

A paradox? Not really.

This special issue does something I don’t believe has ever been done before (and is unlikely ever to be done again): looks at every journal from every publisher on Beall’s lists to see whether they’re plausible predators–whether they could reasonably attract any sensible author.

Yes, I even used a control group: members of the OASPA. And two subject groups from DOAJ as secondary control groups.

What’s here? A discussion of my methodology (of course); the results; the control-group results; the subject-group results; some notes on “the name game” (anyone want to help start up International Journal of International Journals?); a few notes from some “publisher” sites; some comments on fee vs. free; discussing real and possible predators–and a list of potentially predatory characteristics of subscription journal publishers; a couple of other issues; and some conclusions, including a new and faster “Is this a reasonable journal?” methodology.

If you read C&I 14.4 or 14.5 (and thousands of you did), I believe you must read this issue, the product of months of research and analysis.


Update, later on June 9, 2014: Someone reading the essay carefully might ask why I didn’t just do a mechanical comparison of all journal names I derived from the Beall lists against the DOAJ list, instead of looking up publishers and journals.

I tried that. Differences in the way names are offered by publisher sites and DOAJ mean that an Excel VLOOKUP function only yielded 272 matches, mostly MDPI journals (which typically have short, distinctive names). The method I used, if less automated, was more productive.

Cites & Insights 14:6 (June 2014) available

Posted in C&I Books, Cites & Insights on May 28th, 2014

Cites & Insights 14:6 (June 2014) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i6.pdf

The print-oriented two-column version is 16 pages long. You may also view or download a 32-page one-column 6×9″ ereader-oriented version at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i6on.pdf

This issue includes three sections:

The Front: Beyond the Damage (pp. 1-4)

Libraries that subscribe to Library Technology Reports should, some time in the next few days or weeks, receive “Big-Deal Serial Purchasing: Tracking the Damage”–and academic libraries that don’t subscribe to LTR may want to purchase this edition from ALA Editions. It brings last year’s The Big Deal and the Damage Done forward to cover 2002-2012 and offers a tighter and more sophisticated view of the situation. (Spoiler alert: Things got worse from 2010 to 2012)

Simultaneously, I’m publishing Beyond the Damage: Circulation, Coverage and Staffing, a book looking at some other aspects of academic libraries and how they changed between 2002 and 2012. It’s available in two forms, each $45: a 130-page paperback with color graphs–or a site-licensed PDF ebook with precisely the same content. Easiest way to find it: go to Lulu.com and search “Crawford beyond damage” (no quotes needed)–that currently yields just the two versions.

Media: Mystery Collection, part 7 (pp. 4-12)

For the first time, most of these movies are in color–which doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better, as this is also (I believe) the first time I’ve given up on movies before they’re finished in five out of 24 cases. There are some gems, but also some real dross here.

The Back (pp. 12-16)

Little snarky essays on a variety of things, not all of them entirely humorous.

Next time…

As previously announced, the next issue (which might be the July issue, the July/August issue, or the Summer 2014 issue) should appear some time in June and will be a single- essay issue delving into the realities behind the Beall list–including not only original research but a control group!

After that…well, there’s still time to become a supporter or sponsor of Cites & Insights.

Mystery Collection Disc 42

Posted in Movies and TV on May 21st, 2014

Seducers (orig. Death Game), 1977, color. Peter Traynor (dir.), Sondra Locke, Colleen Camp, Seymour Cassel, Beth Brickell. 1:31 [1:26]

Blame it on a mild ongoing headache if you like, esp. one probably connected to eyestrain (a long boring story that goes away soon).

Or blame it on sheer incompetence on the part of the moviemakers.

In either case, after several weeks without watching an oldie, I was looking forward to this. Until it started. I made it through the bizarre credits sequence. I made it through the opening sequence, and to the Real Plot, where this apparently well-off middle-aged man is temporarily deserted by his hot young wife on his 40th birthday (there are reasons), and two young women show up at his front door in a driving rainstorm asking directions to a neighbor’s house he’s never heard of.

And we’re off. And after another 10 minutes—his being a gentleman, his rebuffing combined advances from the two young women (both of whom have gotten naked in his palatial bathroom) for, oh, 30 seconds, partial nudity, suggested three-way action, and an odd breakfast the next morning—I couldn’t. I just did not give a damn what happened to anybody in the movie, perhaps immediately following what seemed to be a lengthy still shot of spilled ketchup with multiple layers of music over it.

So this isn’t a review. Maybe this is a minor masterpiece. Maybe it’s noteworthy schlock. Maybe it was the highlight of Sondra Locke’s film career (not sure whether she’s the young woman with a look that suggests that she regularly lunches on crocodile heads). I’ll never know.

After giving up and writing this non-review, I looked up the IMDB reviews. Now that I’ve read them, I’d guess the chances of my ever going back to see the rest of this movie are considerably worse than the chances of my winning Power Ball. (Which I don’t play.) Especially if that damn song gets played again. Not rated.

Kill Cruise (orig. Der Skipper), 1990, color. Peter Keglevic (writer, dir.), Jürgen Prochnow, Patsy Kensit, Elizabeth Hurley, Franz Buchrieser. 1:38.

Maybe I’m getting less patient or maybe I just hit a bad run. This movie is considerably less awful than Seducers, but after getting halfway through (with difficulty) I found that I just didn’t give a damn what happened in the rest of the movie.

It all begins with a storm at sea that kills or badly harms two people on a boat, with the survivor giving his tale to the Gibraltar portmaster the next day and saying he’ll head back out soon, because what’s the point otherwise? Six months later, he’s become a barfly, every day saying he’ll head back out soon… Meanwhile, two young British women (typically wearing relatively little clothing) are hanging out in a cheap hotel, singing and dancing (badly) in the California Club the guy hangs out at, and trying to go…somewhere. (One wants to go back to England; the other doesn’t.) Somehow, they wind up convincing the guy to take them from Gibraltar to Barbados. His estimated time to get to Barbados in a motor-assisted sailboat is four weeks.

Beyond that, it’s various tensions and paranoias, all with a soundtrack that’s hard to hear and a style that’s hard to care about. I gave up. Maybe you’d like it better. (Reading some of the IMDB reviews, I’m not sure why Barbados—the destination mentioned at least a dozen times—gets turned into Bermuda.) Not rated.

The Sell Out, 1976, color. Peter Collinson (dir.), Oliver Reed, Richard Widmark, Gayle Hunnicutt, Sam Wanamaker, Vladek Sheybal, Ori Levy. 1:41 [1:26]

By far the best movie on this disc so far—but that only means it was good enough so I watched the whole thing. It involves some solid actors (such as Richard Widmark and Oliver Reed) and a plot that, although it involves a few too many accidental deaths, at least makes a twisted sort of Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy sense.

We open with the start of an auto race, at which one driver is shot at long range. Then a KGB higher-up drops by a CIA outpost-head’s place, they share a drink, they open up this cabinet full of photos, many of them crossed out. Time to cross out another name (another former agent) on one side—and for the next on the other side to come up, since apparently that’s the long game. The next one, in this case, is Gabriel Lee (Reed), a double agent who defected to the Communists—and the action begins, taking us to Israel, where the double agent has an old friend, Sam Lucas (Widmark), an American agent who has supposedly actually retired (which seems implausible) with his wife.

Lots’o’plot after that, with repeated betrayals, until a somewhat flat ending. Near the ending, we get the final twist, such as it is. Along the way, car chases, shootings, explosions—hey, it’s a spy picture. I’m guessing the extra 15 minutes wouldn’t make much difference.

Certainly not great drama, but at least watchable; I’ll give it $1.00

Crime Boss (orig. I familiari delle vittime non saranno avvertiti or “The families of the victims will not be felt”), 1972, color. Alberto De Martino (dir.), Telly Savalas, Antonio Sabato, Paola Tedesco, Giuliano Persico, Guido Lollobrigida. 1:33.

“Sociopath Makes Good”—a better title, and a reason why I don’t feel particularly good about finishing this flick, even though I did so. There’s not one character that I found worthwhile or cared about; Telly Savalas as an important aging Mafioso Don may come close, but not that close. The protagonist is a country boy who comes to the city (Milan, I guess) to make good in the crime scene and shows his cleverness and utter ruthlessness to good effect, eventually moving up to the big leagues, where, of course, he betrays his mentor.

Good Italian and German scenery. Filmed very wide screen and not panned-and-scanned (but it’s not an anamorphic disc: when you zoom, you’re expanding not very much visual information, although it’s watchable). A protagonist (Antonio Sabata) who always uses his full name, Antonio Mancuso, and seems to expect others to do so as well. Overall, it’s…meh. Charitably, $1.00.

Triple digits!

Posted in C&I Books, Cites & Insights on May 13th, 2014

Thanks to somebody (or some college) in Canada, The Big Deal and the Damage Done has now reached triple-digit sales (counting each of, well, five site-licensed ebook versions as four sales).

I do appreciate these last-minute sales. Current plans are to remove the book (in both versions) from sale on May 21, 2014–next Wednesday. That could change by a day or so either way. (That’s a week later than the originally announced cutoff.)

The new book, Beyond the Damage: Circulation, Coverage and Staffing, which complements the Library Technology Reports issue that replaces The Big Deal…, will become available about a week later–in two versions, a full-color paperback and a site-licensed ebook, the two having the same price.

A gentle reminder: If you care about Cites & Insights and think it’s worth keeping, please help. The support/sponsorship drive has so far garnered all of three supporters. Or maybe you’re sending the appropriate message…

 

Academic library circulation always down

Posted in Libraries on May 2nd, 2014

I thought I did a pretty good job of demolishing this long-standing myth (“all academic libraries have falling circulation”) in the March 2013 Cites & Insights. looking at circulation between 2008 and 2010. I was astonished to see at least one high-profile academic librarian dismiss my findings saying there were Studies saying this was true (all such studies based on either a subset of libraries or the *overall* figures), therefore…well, the “therefore” wasn’t quite clear, but had to be either “you’re doing the math wrong” or “the facts don’t matter.”

My sense is that the facts don’t matter to librarians who want to use “circulation’s falling everywhere, that’s just the way it is” as part of an argument to stop bothering with collections–but that’s a complicated argument.

I’m starting to work on a self-published book that will serve as a complement to the 2002-2012 study of academic library serials, “books” (all acquisitions except current serials) and “remainder” (everything else) spending. The complement will look at some other factors–circulation per capita, book coverage, book spending per capita, professional librarians per thousand students and overall staffing per thousand students. (Expect to see it in late May or early June.)

In working with spreadsheets to make this book reasonably easy to put together (I’m learning to love named Excel columns a lot) I found it worthwhile to add yes/no columns showing rise or fall of some metrics (where no change counts as a rise, but absolutely no change almost never happens). This made it easier to answer three subsidiary questions to the first question.

The first question: Is it true that all academic libraries show falling circulation from year to year?

The answer: Not even close–and I’m making it tougher by using circulation per capita, given that academic libraries serve a lot more students now than they did in 2002 (about 30% more overall).

For any given biennium, between 35% and 45% of all academic libraries have higher per capita circulation than they did two years ago. (As far as I can tell, the “all” isn’t remotely true for any significantly large subset of academic libraries.) (45% was 2010 compared to 2008, the best biennium for circulation growth.)

A related question: Well, then, is it true that all academic libraries have lower circulation in 2012 than they did in 2002, even if there were some temporary rises?

The answer: Closer, but still not even close. The percentage of libraries with more circulation per capita in any given year than in 2002 ranges from about 36% to about 25% (for 2012). That’s still one out of every four libraries.

Those were easy questions. The three others are a little tougher, and they deal with extremes:

First: What percentage of academic libraries have had rising circulation per capita every biennium since 2002?

The answer, as far as I can tell, for the 2,594 libraries I’m studying (which represent 95% of all academic library spending–ones excluded either weren’t around for the full 2002-2012 period or failed to respond to the NCES survey in either 2002 or 2012): Very few: actually six, or 0.2%.

So if you wanted to cast the most negative light possible, you could say that (almost) all academic libraries have seen circulation drop during at least some portion of the last decade.

Second: What percentage of academic libraries have had falling circulation per capita every biennium since 2002?

Now, actually, this to me is the implication of the (paraphrased) universal assertion: the answer to this question should be 100%, or very close to it.

The actual number: 153 libraries or 5.9%.

That’s right: Only six percent of academic libraries have had consistently falling circulation per capita from 2002 through 2012.

Third: What percentage of academic libraries have had higher per capita circulation than 2002 in every biennium since then?

This is a different question than “how many have consistently grown?” as a library could, for example, have 10% more circulation in 2004 than in 2002, then drop 5% in 2006…

The answer: 208 or 8.1%.

So: more libraries have consistently had higher circulation since 2002 than they did in 2002, than have had consistently falling circulation.

And, of course, most libraries are in the middle–just under 94% have seen circulation grow some times and shrink some times.

But that’s not a convenient message if you’re trying to dismiss collections.

 

 

 

Not ready and other notes

Posted in Cites & Insights on May 1st, 2014

For several months now, Cites & Insights for a given calendar month has emerged on the first or second day of the previous month.

There have been good reasons for this–getting ahead to leave room for the Library Technology Reports project and staying ahead for a while primarily.

That’s not happening for the June 2014 issue, and a few notes on what is happening may be useful. Or not.

The Slowdown

To be honest, I haven’t written any copy for Cites & Insights since, oh, about a week before the May issue appeared–in other words, more than a month at this point. (“I haven’t been writing at all” would be close, but not quite accurate.)

There are several reasons for that:

  • I decided to try starting out a possibly-silly project and felt I could spare some time for it. Still not convinced whether it’s silly or not, but it’s also 80% done, so… And it’s taken a lot of time.
  • I did spend time on a followup to the LTR project (and on revisions to that project), which will emerge late in May 2014.
  • It appears that the project–which involved spending hours and hours and hours staring at both displays (which are different sizes and at different distances) and dealing with small type may have finally pushed me over the edge on eyestrain, to the point where I’ve had a varying headache for better than a week now. (I also visited an opthalmologist, got the first new prescription in six years, and now find it very believable that this is the problem: my right eye moved from profoundly nearsighted to very nearsighted, a three-diopter change, so it appears that it’s always struggling with the current classes. I won’t have new glasses for a week or so. I’m hoping they arrive early.)
  • Attempting to reduce the eyestrain slows down the project–and the headache discourages other writing in any case. (Stopping the project entirely might not matter much–after all, as long as I’m wearing glasses and reading, watching TV, enjoying nature, anything, there’s new eyestrain.)
  • Then there’s motivation. My attempt to find a core group of supporters and sponsors started out slow (three people) and stopped cold. It’s still at three people. Meanwhile, more than 3,000 read the Beall essay and more than 1,400 so far have read the Bohannon essay. (The ebooks-and-pbooks essay also had strong readership.) But apparently (almost) nobody thinks it’s worth throwing a couple of bucks at. This does not give me huge motivation to start writing more.

The June 2014 Issue

There will be a June 201g4 issue. It will announce and promote the Library Technology Reports issue (not for my own financial gain: LTR is a one-time payment, with no royalties–but I think it’s an important and timely report) and discuss the self-published book that accompanies it for those wanting to explore further.

Not clear whether there will be anything more to the issue; if there is, it’s likely to be “The Back” or something like that.

Expect a short issue. Expect it in very late May 2014.

The July 2014 Issue

This issue will be based on the project. It will be a single-topic issue. I have no idea how long it will be–10 to 22 pages seems like a good initial guess. It should be interesting for a bunch of people. It represents a form of real-world research that sensible people wouldn’t attempt; I won’t necessarily admit to OCD, but there’s a touch of it in this case.

It will come out no less than a week after the June 2014 issue. Otherwise, “when it’s ready”–I’m guessing sometime in mid-June.

Meanwhile, I’ll also be setting time aside to help my wife with a genealogy-based book (a very special occasion), trying to preserve my health, and generally relaxing.

After July 2014?

I honestly don’t know.

A little more support/sponsorship surely wouldn’t hurt.

It’s exceedingly unlikely (based on past track record) that C&I will just disappear at that point.

I just don’t know.

 

 

50 Movie Gunslinger Classics, Disc 8

Posted in Movies and TV on April 16th, 2014

Kid Vengeance (aka Vengeance or Vendetta or Take Another Hard Ride), 1977, color. Joseph Manduke (dir.), Lee Van Cleef, Jim Brown, Leif Garrett. Glynnis O’Connor, John Marley.

This flick mixes two plots I’m familiar with from other Westerns: One in which a kid, somehow not killed when outlaws kill his parents, grows up to take vengeance on them—and another in which a man, with evidence that outlaws have killed his wife and compatriots, manages to kill the outlaws off one by one using a range of techniques. But this isn’t quite either of those, partly because the kid (in this case, Leif Garrett) doesn’t grow up: he starts taking out the killers shortly after he becomes aware that they’ve raped and killed his mother, killed his father and kidnapped his sister. (Oddly enough, that last part was accidental…)

But there’s more! A black miner (Brown), after having an assayer confirm that he’s got good-quality gold ore, encounters a quartet of idiots/thieves, bests them (and one dies, shot by another one), rides out of town and sets up another plot, as well as some comedy relief in what’s otherwise a pretty gritty picture. This time, Lee Van Cleef is full-on villain, the head of an outlaw band and the rapist in question.

No point going through more of the plot. Once you grant that a kid who has to be starving can sneak up on sleeping experienced bandits, stand there for a while, stuff a scorpion into one of their shoes, and walk away…well, sure, it all works. Garrett is very good, Brown’s fine, Van Cleef is Van Cleef. An Israeli production. I guess it’s worth $1.25.

Rage at Dawn, 1955, color. Timn Whelan (dir.), Randolph Scott, Forrest Tucker, Mala Powers, J. Carrol Naish, Edgar Buchanan, Denver Pyle. 1:27 [1:25]

This one’s unusual in that it’s a full-length, color, mid-’50s Western, and a fairly traditional Western at that. It’s the story of the Reno Brothers, a group of brothers who rob banks (with a couple of colleagues) and have a bad tendency to shoot anybody who causes trouble. They own the local officials (three of them share in the proceeds) so their Indiana county is a refuge. They actually live in their sister’s house (she hates the robbing but can’t turn them out) and have an honest brother who’s a farmer. With one possible exception, they’re not the brightest bunch; in some ways it’s amazing that they aren’t all already dead.

The Peterson Detective Agency brings in a tall, handsome undercover agent (Scott), who stages a train robbery to show the Renos that he’s hotter stuff than they are (they never tried train robbery), and eventually gets them involved in a train robbery as a way to get them arrested. Or killed (and it certainly gets some others killed!). Meanwhile, he’s taken a liking to the sister, and it’s clearly mutual.

Strong cast. It’s OK—although I found the last few minutes a little tough to swallow (but won’t pass on the situation). Not great, not bad: $1.50.

Billy the Kid Returns, 1938, b&w. Joseph Kane (dir.), Roy Rogers, Smiley Burnette, Lynne Roberts/Mary Hart, Morgan Wallace, Fred Kohler, Wade Boteler. 0:53.

I find that it makes sense to review and rate films in some sort of context; the context for the one-hour “oaters” is different than that for full-length features, and the context for singing cowboys is different still. And of the latter, Roy Rogers stands out for his voice, his looks—and the fun he seems to bring to every role, where he’s pretty much always playing a character named Roy Rogers.

That said, to buy into this movie you have to believe that Billy the Kid was a dead ringer for Roy Rogers—and that Billy the Kid, while admittedly a cold-blooded killer, was a hero to homesteaders, as he was the only one defending them from the cattlemen who wanted to prevent any farming. Roy Rogers first plays Billy the Kid, hero, thief and killer…up to and including the night where Pat Garrett shoots him dead. Then Roy Rogers rides onto the scene (Lincoln County, New Mexico—about all this flick has in common with Billy the Kid’s actual life), having left Texas after he lost his deputy sheriff’s job because he was too young (or something like that), and finds himself dealing with a band of outlaws who are stealing horses and burning down a farmhouse. The outlaws are, of course, part of the cattlemen’s group and in cahoots with the businessman who has a monopoly on trade in the town.

That’s just the start of a movie that moves right along…and mostly involves Roy Rogers impersonating Billy the Kid first in an attempt to help the homesteaders, then in an attempt to bring the cattlemen’s gang to justice by tricking them into committing a Federal crime, so they won’t just be set free by their peers. Oh, and Pat Garrett’s continuing suspicion that Roy Rogers is no better than Billy the Kid…

A lot of fun, a lot of music (I figure there’s about an hour’s TV episode worth of actual plot here: the other 11-12 minutes is singing), Smiley Burnette with his special “froggy” vocals. Roy gets the girl (Roy always gets the girl). What can I say? It’s what a singing cowboy movie should be, and probably no less plausible than most. $1.25.

Curse of Demon Mountain (orig. The Shadow of Chikara), 1977, color. Earl E. Smith (dir., also producer, writer), Joe Don Baker, Sondra Locke, Ted Neeley, Joy N. Houck Jr., Slim Pickens. 1:54 [1:32]

First we get some Civil War sequences (it’s clear the filmmaker is a Grey at heart even before they use “TheNight They Drove Old Dixie Down” in the soundtrack, the only song in the movie). Then one Confederate officer (Joe Don Baker), his half-Irish/half-Cherokee sidekick and scout (Houck) and a dying older soldier (named “Virgil Cane,” to be sure, and played by Slim Pickens who only has a few minutes to masticate some scenery) are off on their way—and as he’s dying, Virgil tells theofficer about the treasure he’s hidden in a cave in a mountain—some “transparent stones” he got out of Arkansas rivers.

After the former officer finds out that his house has been taken over for a Federal office and that his wife—who ahd been told he was dead a year before, but never mind that—has taken up with a Federal officer. Following a big fight scene, the officer (Joe Don Baker), his sidekick and a geologist they pick up from a local university are off to find the stones and see what they are.

After that, it’s lots of trouble—a dead group of settlers shot with odd black arrows, a black arrow arriving out of nowhere, a woman (Locke) apparently raped who they take with them, the scout concluding that those shooting the arrows must be demons, since they leave no tracks, a trio of bushwhackers (who the four adventurers happily kill by seting off a landslide) and, eventually, the mountain. Which the scout says he’s heard about, the Mountain of Demons.

Don’t expect happy endings. I figured out the twist about ten minutes before it was revealed. It’s not a bad twist. Unfortunately, it’s also not a very good movie—sloppily filmed, poorly played, just not really very good. Maybe the missing 22 minutes (apparently including a bar sequence, since a bartender and barmaid are both in the credits but there’s no bar that I can remember in the movie) would have helped. Maybe not. Generously, $0.75.


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