Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, February 25, 2017


The Boyd Sisters.  (Is this Patti, Jenny, and Paula?  Can anybody confirm?)


"Captain Albright is known to many as one of America's great inventors, but only a trusted few know that it is he who dons the blazing uniform that spells terror to evil forces and becomes that iron-fisted fighter for freedom -- CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT!"

The character of Captain midnight was created by Wilfred G. Moore and Robert M. Burtt for a Chicago ad agency which developed the show as a syndicated radio program for a few area radio stations in 1940.  The program came to the attention of Ovaltine (as any kid from the time could tell you, Ovaltine is an anagram for "Vital One"), which had already been sponsoring the radio adventures of Little Orphan Annie.  Ovaltine brought the program to a national audience, first on the Mutual network, then to NBC's Blue Network for three years, and then back to Mutual.  The radio show ran from 1938 to 1949.

Popular with kids -- many of whom owned a Captain Midnight secret decoder ring -- the show spawned a 15-episode film serial, a popular kid's television show (later renamed Jet Jackson for syndication), a newspaper comic strip, comic books, at least one novel, and a host of premiums and tie-in products.  The character was revived in 2010 by Moonstone Publishing with a new comic book story and an anthology of short stories, and by Dark Horse comics in 2012 with new comic book adventures.

Fawcett Comic's run of Captain Midnight ran from June 1942 to September 1948 and differed in many aspects from the original radio character.  He now wore a skin-tight red suit, was a world-famous inventor, and has an array of remarkable inventions at his beck and call.

In this issue, Captain Midnight battles his nemesis, the criminal mastermind Captain Ivan Shark, in "Marauders of the Deep."   Captain Midnight then conquers space in "Trip to the Moon" -- mistakenly billed as an "Interplanetary Adventure."  When Captain Red Albright and his colleagues Ichabod Mudd and  Professor Edan pilot an experimental rocket on the first flight to the moon, they are aware of two stowaways:  the beautiful and ambitious reporter Sally Blaine and the dangerous escaped convict "Killer" Jordan.  Ichabod Mudd takes center stage as he dons the costume of Sergeant Twilight -- a comic take on his boss and our hero -- in "Sergeant Twilight Meets the Dawn!"  Captain Midnight shows up in the last five panels to save the day.  (Unfortunately, a portion of this story is missing from this copy, but not enough for one to miss out on any important plot points.)  In "Captain Midnight Fights for Freedom," Midnight is sent to rescue freedom fighter Don Vereo, who has been captured by the tyrant dictator Shiro.  Rounding out this issue is the brief first chapter of the serial "Johnny Blair in the Air" (where young Johnny meets and befriends members of the Flying Police) and several humorous filler shorts.

You don't need a secret decoder ring to enjoy this issue.

Friday, February 24, 2017


At least Aretha knows I want a little respect.


Sinners and Supermen by William F. Nolan (1965)

William F. Nolan has had his fingers in many pies.  He's written movies, television shows, biographis, mysteries, westerns, science fiction, horror, poetry, and just about everything in between.  He's won two Edgars and a Bram Stoker Award, and has been named IHG Living Legend in Dark Fantasy, SFWA Author Emeritus,  and World Horror Society Grand Master, as well as being given the HWA Lifetime Achievement Award.  He is probably best known for co-writing Logan's Run, a novel that inspired the movie, a television show, and a number of sequels.

Before embarking on fiction, Nolan churned out articles and books on one of his hobbies, auto racing.  His first book of profiles Men of Thunder, covered many of the big names in the history of auto racing.  He then embarked on other profiles people he knew and admired, as well as others who had extraordinary, larger-than-life careers.  Fourteen of these profiles, dating from 1956 on, are included in this book, which was published by the small California paperback publisher All Star Books as a Private Edition Book.  The cover copy declared:  "Guys with Gusto living in a world of wonderment where the bizarre becomes the status quo."  And the back cover went on:  "These modern mavericks thumb their noses at middle-age conventions as they indulge their volcanic mania for life in the raw.  envied, imitated, and often despised, the world's most illustrious men of action live and love to the maximum degree possible, while on-lookers idly sit back and discuss their daring escapades."


All fourteen of the men profiled here are entertainers in some way.  Some of them are not pleasant people.  Some are just plain talented.  Nolan does a superb job bringing each to life on these pages, making for an interested and now (alas) sometimes dated read.  Those covered are:

  • Marlon Brando
  • Ian Fleming
  • Otto Preminger
  • Ray Bradbury (good friend and major influence on Nolan's career)
  • Luis Miguel Dominquin (bullfighter)
  • Orson Welles
  • Rod Serling (another good friend and influence)
  • Lance Reventlow (millionaire playboy and sometime auto racer)
  • Raymond Chandler (another influence)
  • Peter Sellers
  • Ben Hecht
  • Dean Martin
  • Howard Hughes
  • James Thurber
This collection was reprinted some 32 years later by Borgo under the title Legends and Lovers:  Fourteen Profiles.  Copies of the original paperback are available from the usual on-line sources for ten bucks or more.

Sinners and Supermen isn't a major book by any standard, but it is certainly worth picking up if you happen to run across it.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Sam Cooke.  So much talent.  So many great songs.

Bring It All Home To Me:

Chain Gang:


Nothing Can Change This Love:

You Send Me:

Having a Party:

Another Saturday Night:

You're Always On My Mind:

A Change Gonna Come:

Unchained Melody:

Twistin' the Night Away:

Stand By Me:


Only Sixteen:

I'll Come Running Back To You:


X Minus One was NBC radio's revival of its previous program Dimension X (1950-1951) and ran from April 24, 1955 to January 9, 1958 for a total of 126 episodes, including 11 re-broadcasts.  A 127th episode was produced and aired in 1973 in an attempt to spark interest in another revival.  Many of the episodes aired were based on short stories by some of science fiction's most noted contemporary writers -- Ray Bradbury, Clifford D. Simak, Philip K. Dick, Robert A Heinlein, Murray Leinster, Frederik Pohl,  Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon, among many others.

Robert Sheckley's "Skulking Permit" was first published in Galaxy Science Fiction, December 1954, and has since been reprinted 29 times -- including translations in French, German, Dutch, and Italian.  A far-flung human outpost is due to have a period inspection from the Terran Empire.  The outpost is determined to show it has a sufficiently advanced civilization and it decides that such a civilization must have every type of caste, including criminals.  But the colony does not have any criminals, so it hires one from its population.  How does a man act like a criminal when he has no idea how to do it?

Robert Sheckley (1928-2005) was a versatile and accomplished satirist who had been nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Award.  A former fiction editor of OMNI, Sheckley was also named an Author Emeritus by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  Films based on his works include The Tenth Victim, Freejack, and Disney's Condorman.

"Skulking Permit" was first aired on February 2, 1956 and was re-broadcast on July 4, 1957.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017