TT 63a: Johnny Mandel, Lawrence Block

RIP to a blessed musician, Johnny Mandel. During quarantine I had done two dozen TV themes and thought that was probably enough, but Johnny Mandel’s passing prompted a gentle encore. It was retweeted by Loretta Swit, who played Major Margaret Houlihan on the show…which is as good as it gets, really.

I’ve also put together some thoughts about Mandel for DTM: “The Shadow of Johnny Mandel.” However, as my post explains, this is nothing but an appetizer for a forthcoming Noir City article on Mandel’s soundtracks for Harper and Point Blank.


One of the new best novels I’ve read in years is Lawrence Block’s Dead Girl Blues. I wrote an five-star Amazon review:

DEAD GIRL BLUES is a surprising late triumph: one of a kind, touched in equal parts with genius and sin. The author has been heading this way for a while — probably his whole life — but recent sensationalist tales like GETTING OFF (2011), THE GIRL WITH THE DEEP BLUE EYES (2015), RESUME SPEED (2016) and A TIME TO SCATTER STONES (2019) now seem like sketches for the real deal. Donald E. Westlake shared a lifelong friendship with Block. For me, the dark standalone THE AX is Westlake’s masterpiece; when the dust settles, I suspect I will give the same honor to DEAD GIRL BLUES. Not for the faint-hearted. If you have any trigger warnings around, put them on this book. Put ’em *all* on.

If you love the arts, don’t hesitate to leave thoughtful praise online when you can. As we all know, the “discourse” these days is heavily weighted towards politics, protest, and the endless amplification of bad news. Protest is valuable, but life is more than protest. Again: If you love the arts, don’t hesitate to leave thoughtful praise online when you can. It does make a difference.

(apologies for those getting TT 63 twice, my production team goofed on the settings during the initial run)