Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, April 24, 2014

UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSIC: ROBERT jOHNSON

It may be a stretch to call Robert Johnson's music unappreciated.  His influence has reached from the 1920s to today and will assuredly continue into the far future, yet I wonder how people actually listen to him today.

The myth that he sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads to become a great guitarist has become a part of American culture and can be found on the printed page, in film, and on television.  There's no doubt that Johnson was one of the best guitarists of all time.  Spin magazine ranked him number 1
out of 35 guitar gods.  Rolling Stone had him at number five out of a hundred guitar greats.  Guitar.com was only slightly less enthusiastic, placing him ninth out of the 50 best guitarists.  Four of his songs was entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame list of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.  He's in the Grammy Hall of Fame.  The U.S. Post office even issued a commemorative stamp of Johnson.

Robert Johnson has been praised by Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, John Hammond, Elton John, and Rory Block, among others.  Bands that have been influenced by him include Fleetwood Mac, Rush, and Slipknot.

It's not just his skill on the guitar that has brought him praise.  His voice, singing style, and his ability to write lyrics place him as one of the most outstanding musicians of the Twentieth Century.  But just who was this man?

He was born, perhaps in 1911, in Hazlehurst, Mississippi.  His  mother married Charles Dodds, who has forced to flee the area by a white mob.  Robert and his mother moved to Memphis for two years before Robert was sent back to Mississippi to live with his father, who had changed his last name to Spencer.  Thus Robert was known at that time as Robert Spencer.  Sometime prior to 1929, he adopted the last name of his natural father, Noah Johnson.  He married a sixteen-year-old girl who soon died in childbirth; the story went around that this was Robert's punishment for playing secular music (i.e., the blues).

He became an itinerant musician, playing on street corners, dances, and juke joints throughout the Mississippi Delta and beyond.  The record is spotty, in part because he used so many aliases while traveling.  He was a friendly, talented man who loved to drink and mess around with women.  The enigma that was Robert Johnson died in 1938.  One story has it that he was poisoned by a jealous husband, another that he died from syphilis.  He was, it is believed, 27.  He was buried in an unmarked grave, the location of which is uncertain although at least three sites claim  to be his final resting place.

The link below takes you to his complete recordings -- 29 songs recorded in 1936 and 1937.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWRtJz6dt9o

HAUNTED HOUSE BLUES

Bessie Smith.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4775nde3cLM

FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE

Patti Abbott, our favorite Forgotten Books wrangler and all-around good person, recently issued another flash fiction challenge:  produce a story around the phrase "you can't lead a maybe life." For better or worse, here's mine.

    SPICY CHESTER A. ARTHUR TALES

                                  Presents

                                "Invasion from Space"


CHAPTER 2:  Death at the Railway

The buxom nude redhead writhed as she lay prone against the Vice President's lap.  Chet's hand swung down once more to land on the girl's rounded buttocks with a resounding slap.

"Oh, you know what I like, Mr. Vice President,"  the girl moaned.  'Hit me again!  And again and again!"

Although this was a type of love play that Chet had hitherto not been familiar, and although it did very little to excite him, Chet was always the gentleman in his affairs with the ladies and tried his best to do their bidding.  Besides, the glowing redness of the girl's gluteus maximus was beginning to match the color of her long, flowing hair.  "I've always been a sucker for redheads," Chet thought wistfully.  Once again he raised his hand.

Suddenly the door to the room burst open and Binky -- Chet's best friend, confidante, and sharer of adventures -- rushed in.

"Chet!  The president has been shot!"

The words had an instant effect on the man.  He shot up, tumbling the young redhead to the floor.  There was only one thing the Vice president of the United States could say.

"Those sonofabitching Martians!"

**********

There was a decided hush in the carriage as the horse clopped its way through the mid-morning streets toward the railway station, Chet and Binky both lost in their own thoughts. In the hot summer sun of Washington, few people ventured out in the streets of the sleepy capital city. 

It was Binky who interrupted the quiet pall.  "Are you sure it's the Martians, Chet?"

"Who else could it be? We've known that they have been here for at least a month, bent on the surreptitious takeover of our great country and, eventually, the entire planet.  They have become aware of the plans we were putting in place to foil their heinous plot, I'm sure of it!  This has to be a plot to stymie those plans, but those foolish fiends did not realize that it was I who made and was about to execute those plans, not the President.  This attempt on Jimbo's life was in vain.  Sad.  Sad."  The Vice President fought to keep back tears for his fallen friend and his iron resolution succeeded in that task.

"What ho, Binky!  We approach the railway station."

The Baltimore and Potomac Railway Station was crowded with curious passersby and with political hangers-on.  Chet strode up to a uniformed police officer who appeared to be charge of controlling the throng.  He was immediately recognized by his strong, intense eyes, well-known features, and his stride of authority.

"Mr. Vice President sir!"  The officer straightened to attention.

"How lies our fallen leader, good sir?"

"Alas, it is not well.  The President is not expected to last the evening.  He has been taken to the White House for treatment, but it does not bode well, not well at all."

The Vice President looked past the officer to the floor of the station where a bright red pool of a patriot's blood lay congealing.  "And what of the assassin?"

"Taken in charge, sir."

Chet nodded.  "Good.  Come, Binky, there is much for us to do!"  He turned around and strode back to the waiting carriage, Binky eagerly following him.

**********

The anterooms of the White House were crowded with politicos awaiting news of the fallen President.  Chet pushed his way past them to a silent, weeping woman alone in a corner.  Crete Garfield was a woman of rather plain appearance, but Chet knew from experience that the bulky clothing that she wore hid a luscious body of want and desire.

 "Oh, Chet!" she cried, drawing him to her and pressing warm, full bosom to his chest -- an action that, in other circumstances, he would have looked upon with delight.  "I fear the worst and the doctors give little hope."

Even as those dire words were spoken, the door to the President's bedroom opened and chief physician Willie Bliss descended the stair.  The mutton-chopped medico went to the First Lady, brushing considerable amount of dandruff from his shoulders, and said, "The fever is high and we cannot locate the bullet that struck him and as we speak remains hidden in his body, poisoning him further.  I, myself, have tried to locate it, pushing my fingers deep into the wound to no avail."

At this news, Lucretia Garfield uttered a low moan and fell swooning to the floor.  It was only Chet's quick reactions that saved her.  He propped her up, holding her from behind, one hand firmly grasped on her full and rounded breast.

Doctor Bliss coughed.  "Well, I must get back to my patient."  With that, he inserted a finger in his nostril and, extracting a booger with the digit, turned and headed back to the stair.

**********

The jail cells in the capital were a fitting place for the criminal dregs of mankind.  Dank, moldy, and ill-lit, with floors covered with vomit and other human excretions.  A gray and dirty rat scuttered into the shadows as Chet and Binky approached the cell that held Charles Gateau, the lunatic office-seeker who had shot the President.  The prisoner was seated on the floor in a dark corner of the cell amidst a puddle of what was surely urine.

"What have you to say, assassin?"  Chet's voice echoed through both the cell and the long, musty corridor.

Gateau remained silent, bright red eyes glaring at the Vice President, a heavy blue bottle fly droning near the fiend's head.  Suddenly a long, thin, forked tongue shot out some fifteen inched from Gateau's mouth, snared the insect, and drew it back in.

Chet turned to Binky.  "I've seen enough.  Martians, for sure."

**********

"I'm in a quandary, Binky.  I am unsure where to turn next."  Chet and Binky had traveled back to New York and were now ensconced in Chet's finely furnished drawing room.

"You'll think of something, Chet.  You always do."  Binky had survived too many perilous adventures with his friend to think otherwise.

"I know, old comrade, but I wish Ellen were still with us," the Vice President sighed.  "Her advice was always so solid."  Chet's wife had passed away the before, one of the many victims of the Great Chicken Attack at Albany, a dark time, indeed for the country.  Because the event had to be hushed over, the story was given out that she -- as well as the seven hundred twenty other victims of the attack -- had passed away from pneumonia.  Chet pined for his wife, the only woman whose mind and soul attracted him as much as her body.

Chet's reverie was interrupted by the ringing of the bell at his door.

"I'll get it," Binky said, rising.

Chet heard his compadre open the door.  Then he heard a soft grunt and a thud, as if something heavy had struck the floor.

Chet raced to the door to see his friend laid on the floor, a sickly green cloud descending upon him.  Chet's eyes rose from the floor upward to see the shape therein.

"You!" he gasped.

The beautiful and voluptuous yellow woman entered, stepping over Binky's comatose body.
"Yes, it is I," the lilting voice replied.  "It has been too long since we last met, my lover.  And worry not about your friend.  He will recover in a few hours. I have no reason to see him dead."

"So, Fun Sin, what then brings you to my door?"

The beautiful Chinese replied, "My father, the honorable Dr. Fung, wishes to see you."  She drew a revolver from the folds of her dress and pointed it at Chet.  Chet wondered how a revolver could have been concealed in so tight an apparel of clothing.  "My father insists."

Dr. Fung was the leader of a vast criminal organization which had its fingers into every debased type of crime imaginable.  A great, yet mad, man of science, Fung's evil influence stretched to every corner of the globe and his megalomania had no equal that Chet knew of.  Chet and Dr. Fung had crossed swords several times in the past and, often with the help of the beautiful Fun Sin, was able to prevail.  The hapless girl, however, since fell victim to her father's mind control and has been rumored to have performed depravations that outdid those of her wicked father.

"Mayhap I would rather stay here and disappoint you father, Fun Sin."

A look of steel determination crossed the girl's lovely yellow face.  "You can't lead a maybe life, at least, not where my father is concerned.  The question is whether you will meet him with a bullet in your belly or without."

Chet controlled his emotions.  "Well, then, let us not keep your father waiting."

As the woman who was once one of his most demanding lovers pressed the gun to the small of his back.  Chet went out into the fog-enshrouded street to an unknown destiny.

                                     TO BE CONTINUED NEXT MONTH!

______________________________________________________________________________

NEXT MONTH IN SPICY CHESTER A. ARTHUR TALES

Chet and Binky must journey to the sweltering jungles of South America in search of the hidden treasure of the Gwanbeedit in their efforts to discover the link between the evil Dr. Fung and the Martian invasion.  Thrill as they meet a vociferous horde of army ants, a dangerous tribe of love hungry Amazons, deadly creatures unknown to man, and the pestilence that walks on six legs.  Even if they overcome all these odds, will Chet be able to handle

                             "The Breasts of the Snake Goddess"

Also in this issue, thrilling tales by Captain H. G. McIntyre, Charles Battles, Geoff. van Dine, and more of your favorite action writers.  Don't miss this exciting issue!

                                                     On Sale May 3rd!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NEW YORK TOWN

Cisco Houston.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sY7ymohC08Y

BAD JOKE WEDNESDAY

A farmer bought a new border collie to watch his herd of sheep.

At the end of the first day, the dog went up to the farmer and said, "Well, here they are, all safe and sound.  All forty of them."

"Wait," the farmer said.  "Forty?  I only had thirty-eight sheep."

The dog replied, "I rounded them up."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO MISS NEW ORLEANS

Fats Domino.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cg1wMd0C0Y8

OVERLOOKED FILM: NOT OF THIS EARTH (1957)

It's Earth Day!  So let's salute a movie with "Earth" in its title for this week's overlooked film.

Here's a cheapie directed by Roger Corman, written by Charles B. Griffith (Little Shop of Horrors, Death Race 2000) and Mark Hanna (The Amazing Colossal Man, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman), and starring Paul Birch (for the most part) and Beverly Garland.

Birch, who had a distinguished stage, film, and television career, got pissed off at director Corman and walked off the film before shooting ended.  Birch's remaining scenes were filmed with Lyle Latell as his stand-in.  Birch went on to play mystery author Erle Stanley Gardner in the television series Court of Last Resort, Mike Malone in the series Cannonball, and Captain Carpenter in 13 episodes of The Fugitive, among many other roles.  IMDB lists 111credits for Lyle Latell, including
playing Dick Tracy's partner Pat Patton in four films in that series.

Beverly Garland may best be remembered as Fred McMurray's wife in My Three Sons, as well as in recurring roles Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Seventh Heaven, Lois and Clark, Remington SteeleMary Hartman, Mary Hartman, The Bing Crosby Show, and Decoy.

Roger Corman, of course, is best remembered for being...Roger Corman.

Enjoy this cheesy tale of an alien out to get human blood to revive his race.

https://archive.org/details/NotOfThisEarth