Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Sunday, March 24, 2019


Amazing!  Maxim was only fifteen.


The popular hymn "Onward, Christian Soldiers" has an interesting pedigree.  It was written by the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924), an Anglican priest, scholar and man of many interests.  In his lifetime he authored more than 1200 works.  Perhaps best known today as a writer of hymns, Baring-Gould also wrote many novels, over 22 short stories, books of folklore and collections of folk songs, archaeological studies, travel, local history, and biography, as well as religious studies and collections of his sermons.  He also produced (in his spare time, perhaps) fifteen children with his wife Grace.

He was the author of some fine ghost stories, some collected in The Book of Ghosts (1904) and Margery of Quether and Other Weird Tales (1999), and a noted study on lycanthropy. The Book of Were-wolves (1865).

Of interest to mystery fans is his grandson William S. Baring-Gould, the author of the massive 2-volume The Annotated Sherlock Holmes (1967, since supplanted by Leslie Klinger's 3-volume The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, 2004-5).  The younger Baring-Gould, since he did not have much information about Holmes' early life, based his account on his grandfather's childhood.  Also, in Laurie King's Mary Russell series of detective novels, she has Sabine Baring-Gould as Holmes' godfather.

All of this has little to do with the hymn below, but I'm just fascinated by the man who wrote it.

Anyway, here's the glorious Mahalia Jackson.

Saturday, March 23, 2019


A very young Willie Nelson from Grand Ole Opry, 1965.


Britain's Arnold Book company reprinted the American comic book Frankenstein #29 (February-March 19540) from Prize Comics; Arnold then padded its larger page comic with reprints from Hillman's  Airboy Comics #104, Marvel's Mystic #22, and Marvel's Young Men #22.  This copy of  Frankenstein is a 52-page truncated version that omits the stories from Mystic and Young Men.  (The issue this was taken from had 68 pages; missing are the stories "The Maiden in the Iron Mask" and a Rex Lane story, "The Walking Dead," as well as the text story ""Cave-In.")

Prize's American Frankenstein lasted for 33 issues while it's British counterpart had only five issues.

This Frankenstein, as drawn by Dick Briefer, is a quasi-Karloff-like monster with bulging eyes, a stub nose, narrow jaw, and immense hands.  There's a cartoonish quality about his features here, that the reader soon forgets because of the intensity of the story.

  • "Entranced!" The lead story is also the only one to featured the title character.  The monster, hidden from sight, falls in love with a young mother, kidnaps her, takes her to his lair, and tries unsuccessfully to woo her.  She escapes.  Enraged, her pushes the car she is in over a cliff and then has second thoughts..
  • "Modern Achilles"  While doing a stint in state prison, petty criminal Jim Lees learns the secret of an invulnerability potion from his dying bunkmate, a scientist.  Released from prison, lees mixes up the potion and coats his body with it. Thus invulnerable, Lees goes on a string robberies.  Bullets can't stop him.  Or can they?
  • "Clinging Corpse"  While serving a twenty-years prison sentence for murder, Kenneth Bradley had only one thought:  to get revenge on David Harper, the cop who arrested him,  `Shortly after he was released Bradley faked his own death.  Then he waited.  A year later an anonymous telephone call lured Harper to the deserted mud flats during a storm.  He shoots Harper, then carries the corpse out on the flats where the body will never be found after it is buried in mud.  Bradley soon learns, to his horror, that dead men can kill.
  • "Death in Reflection"  An ancient graveyard, an abandoned chapel, an empty coffin, a full-sized mirror, and a vengeful woman who had been murdered a hundred years ago.  All this does not bode well for novelist Floyd Ellis in this coincidence-laden story.
  • "[The Time Fog]"  This is actually an untitled adventure of Airboy as we move from Frankenstein to Airboy Comics.  The new plutonium bomb (perhaps ten times as powerful as a hydrogen bomb) is tested in the desert, releasing a strange green cloud.  Airboy is sent in his birdplane to observe the mysterious cloud from above.  Caught in a fierce down draft, all of Airboy's instruments die and he flies for what seems hours.  He finds himself in a strange desert land.  On the ground he meets Jean Marlow, who was also caught up in the strange green cloud.  Coming across a an old building block -- a cornerstone dated 500 years in the future -- Airboy guesses (from the age of the stone) that they are some 2500 years ahead of their time.  Suddenly they are confronted by a group of beast-men.  Just as suddenly they are rescued by a group of armored men led by Gidron, who escorts the two to a future city.  Time passes and Jean falls in love with Gidron while Airdboy becomes determined to return to his own time.  Jean and Gidron accompany Airboy to his birdplane where they are attacked by a flying reptile.  The best kills Gidron, the green fog dissipates, and Airboy and a love-stricken Jean find themselves back in the present.  In a plot twist, Jean finds happiness and Airboy goes on to further adventures.  This is the only Airboy story in this issue, but the following two stories were also reprints from Airboy #104 (October 1952).
  • "The Spanish Rope-Maker"  The rope-make Miguel Perez was a bully and a brute but he loved the fair Monica who preferred the more refined Cecilio, a dealer in lace and fabrics. Perez's dim mind thinks Monica would appreciate a gift of fine silken lace, and in turn would appreciate himself.  One night he kills Cecilio and steals a fine silk scarf for Monica.  But the silk was woven by spiders and spider silk can be as strong as the finest rope...
  • "The Heap"  Shades of Swamp Thing and Ted Sturgeon's "It," the Heap is a vegetative monster that rose from the swamp near Wassau, Poland.  Buried within the Heap is the body of a dead flier.  Now alive, the Heap senses evil in the swamp, evil that seems to stem from some old large tree trunks.  Two hundred years ago the trees that belonged to the trunks were used to build a ship that carried hopeful colonists to the New World.  the owner/captain of the ship, however, sold the colonists into slavery.  He continued to do so until piracy became more profitable for him.  Over two hundred years the ship, now old and rotting, still carried out journeys of misery and death.  Instinctively, the Heap goes from the swamp in search of the ship and the evil that has permeated it.
  • Also included are three uncredited text stories, "Uranium," "Ghost Pilot," and "The Enemy Parrot."
A pretty decent issue with art that varies from good to very good and a decent mix of horror, fantasy, adventure, and irony that marked many of the comic books of the time.

Friday, March 22, 2019


The Brothers Four appearing on The Johnny Cash Show in 1969.  Not the best sound quality, alas.

And the recorded version with much better accoustics:


Snapdragon, a Collection of Queer Stories edited by Mervyn Savill (1955)

I can't tell you much about the editor except that he seemed to be a very busy translator of novels and poetry -- both literary and popular -- in the 1940s and 1950s.

From Savill's introduction:

"Eheu fugaces!  The time for enjoying fiction and the old-fashoined English Christmas with its Yule log and snapdragons is past; and yet they will probably both be revived, for story-telling is as old as humanity itself...

"The aim of the publishers with this first series is to inaugurate a yearly selection of tales, both classic and modern, which are not too well-known and yet are suited to a variety of moods."

Savill calls the stories he has chosen (and presumably would chose for future volumes) "odd tales."  Alas, the best laid plans of editors and publishers aft gang a-gley for there was never to be a second volume.

Most of the ten stories in this book, written by "literary" authors from half a dozen countries, were not commonly available to the average reader in 1955 but that situation has changed and many of the stories are readily available.  I'm sure you have already read at least a few.

  • "The Pit" by Gwyn Jones (from Penguin Parade #9, 1942; also included in Don Congdon's Stories for the Dead of Night and in Mary Danby's The 8th Fontana Book of Great Horror Stories)
  • "The Spectre Bridegroom" by Washington Irving (from The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Carayon, Gent., No. IV, 1819; it has been reprinted many times in anthologies and in various collections of Irving's works)
  • "The Island" by Josef and Karel Capek (originally published in Czech as "Ostrov" in 1916; first English translation in 1925; sometimes reprinted as by Karel Capek alone; this translation by Marie Busch and Otto Pick)
  • "An Episode of the Terror" by Honore de Balzac (originally published in French as "Une episode sous la Terreur" in 1830; reprinted many times; this translation by Mervyn Savill)
  • 'Blind Love" by Laurence Housman (from Ironical Tales, 1936)
  • "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" by Nathaniel Hawthorne (first published as "The Fountain of Youth" in the Knickerbocker Magazine, January 1837, and included in Twice-Told Tales later that year; reprinted numerous times)
  • "The Scarlet Flower" by Vsevolod Garshin (written in 1880, the story was published in Russian in 1883; often reprinted under the title "The Red Flower"; this translation by E. L. Voynich from Stories by Garshin, 1893)
  • "The Wax Madonna" by Luigi Pirandello (first published in 1934 under the possible title "la madonnina"; This translation taken from Novelle per un anno (Short Stories for a Year), published in fifteen volumes from 1922 - 1937; this translation is by Arthur and Henrie Mayne)
  • "Clarimonde" by Theophile Gautier (first published as "La morte amoreuse"  in La Chronique de Paris, June 23 and 26, 1836, then collected in Une larme de diable, 1839; reprinted many times under such titles as "The Deathly Lover," "The Amorous Corpse," "The Dead Leman," "The Vampire," "The Beautiful Vampire," "The Dead Lover," "The Dreamland Bride," "The Beautiful Dead," and "The Dead in Love"; this version translated by George Saintsbury)
  • "The Sea Monster" by Gerhard Hauptmann (first published as the self-titled chapbook Der Meerwunder Eine unwahrshceinliche Geschichte; reprinted in Herbert van Tahl's The Bedside Book of Horror, in numerous several collections of Hauptmann's work, and in several anthologies of German literature; this version was translated by Mervyn Savill)

Ten stories of ghosts, madness, obsession, legends, and irony...of jealousy, escapism, temptation, passion, horror,  and gentleness...Some of the stories and/or their translations were a tad bit wordy for me, but all are worth the time spent.  Of the ones I had not previously read "The Scarlet Flower" and "The Sea Monster" stand out for me.  Your mileage may vary.

As far as I can tell, this edition (Arthur Barker Limited:  Lopndon, 1955) is the only appearance of Snapdragon. Worldcat lists only 29 copies in American libraries.  AbeBooks lists 20 copies available from $5.57 to $45, including shipping.   Those interested may be better served by finding the stories from other sources.

Thursday, March 21, 2019


Today is the 67th anniversary of the first major rock and roll concert, The Moondog Coronation Ball.  (Well, the first major almost rock and roll concert, in reality.)  It was organized by WJW disc jockey Alan Freed and was held at the Cleveland Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, and featured artists whose songs were played on freed's radio program, including Paul Williams, Tiny Grimes,  The Rocking Highlanders, The Dominos, Varetta Dillard, and Danny Cobb.

Due to counterfeiting and a printing error more tickets were issued than the arena could hold.  The audience that showed up was estimated to be twice the arena's capacity.  Fire Department officials closed the concert soon after it had begun.  In fact, only one song was played by the opening act Paul Williams and his Hucklebuckers before the music was stopped.

Paul Williams, a jazz and blues saxophonist and bandleader had been gaining popularity with his 'race' records by 1948.  While playing "D'Natural Blues," a song written for artist Andy Gibson, Williams noticed his audience dancing a new dance, The Hucklebuck, to the song.  Willimas changed the words to the song and began singing 'The Huckle-Buck."  Recorded in Decemebr 1948, the song reached #1 on the R&B charts and stayed there for an incredible 14 weeks.  That song, along with Williams' driving saxophone beat and vigorous showmanship, became a "hallmark of rhythm and blues and rock and roll during the Fifties and early Sixties.

I don't now what song Paul Williams actually played at the very truncated 1952 show, but in honor of him and anniversary of rock and roll concerts, here's "The Huckle-Buck."