Zoot-Suit Murders

images-1.jpgIt’s war time and the City of the Angels is experiencing a great deal of influence and intrigue from religious, communist, fascist, and government operatives seeking to control the population or to overthrown the government or to find loose women to satisfy a sailor on shore leave or just to make a fashion statement in the Barrio.

The history of the Barrio, the pachuco, and the zoot-suiters  make for fascinating reading. Add to that some rioting, espionage, combat, and baseball (not to mention a love story) and Thomas Sanchez’s novel is a fast mover with just enough nostalgia for the Los Angeles of the forties to make it really interesting.

Zoot-Suit Murders reminded me of two similar stories: The Day of the Locust and the movie Chinatown (not to mention all those wonderful Philip Marlowe adventures).

Thomas Sanchez writes novels that eschew arcane literary values and instead provide a good, entertaining story with fine attention to the visual detail of his subject. Sanchez is also in the movie business, so it makes sense.

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I See Dead People

Michael Shermer and Pat Linse published a concise outline in a recent Skeptic titled, Why People See Ghosts (and Gods, Angels, Demons, and Why They Float, Fly, and Travel Out of Their Bodies). You really have to read it so here is the link.

13 Ghosts 500 years ago demons haunted our world, and incubi and succubi tormented their victims as they lay asleep in their beds. 200 years ago spirits of the departed made bedside visits. More recently green and grey aliens began to molest people in their sleep. What is going on here? Are these mysterious visitors in our world or in our minds? They are in our minds. All experience is mediated by the brain, which consists of about a hundred billion neurons with a thousand trillion synaptic connections between them. No wonder the brain is capable of such sublime ideas as evolution and big bang cosmology. But it also means that under a variety of conditions the brain is apable of generating extraordinary experiences that are not real.

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