Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, March 31, 2011


John Jacob Niles (1892-1980), the Dean of American Balladeers, was an American singer and composer who influenced many artists with his repetoire of Appalachian songs.  He often sang in a high falsetto, which gave his music an eerie, haunting, and dramatic quality.  Much of the time he accompanied himself with his distinctive Appalachian dulcimer.  A trained musciologist, Niles found his inspiration in the ordinary American.  He painstakingly transcribed songs and snippets he heard while traveling throughout his native Appalachia, sometimes refining them and adding to them.  His work covered normal human themes, songs of love and despair, gambling songs and spirituals, presented with an understanding and love of those he sang about.

     One of his best-known songs, Go Away from My Window, was reportedly written when he was sixteen for a girl he was in love with.  Bob Dylan used the first line of the song in his own It Ain 't Me, Babe:

     There are very few live recordings available, hut here's a snippet of John Jacob Niles doing that song live, followed by a brief comment by Bob Dylan:

     Here's Little Black Star:

     And The Irish Girl:

     A song with another traditional theme is The Maid Freed from the Gallows.  The person who posted this song added a very odd video, so it might best to listen with your eyes closed:

     My own favorite is the powerful Christmas song I Wonder As I Wander.   The simplicity of the lyrics, combining both a love of nature and awe of the story of Christ, has touched millions of people.   It started with a snippet that he heard sung by a young girl.  Here's the story behing the song:

     And, here's the song itself.  I could not find a decent link to it being sung by Niles, so I had to choose among versions done by Joan Baez, Placido Domingo, Linda Ronstadt, and many others.  This recording byThe King's Singers brings out the beauty and the power of this carol:

     And finally, for those who wish all the details, here's a brief article on Niles, which gives a complete discography and bibliography:


     For more forgotten music, visit Scott Parker's blog at, where he provides links for your listening pleasure.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


One of the brightest television shows I have ever seen was Seeing Things, a Canadian mystery series that aired from 1981 to 1987 for a total of 43 episodes.  It was created by and starred Louis Del Grande, of whom one wag said must have been the role model for George Constanza.  (Sometimes the "Del" was presented as "del".)  Del Grande played Louis Ciccone, a hapless reporter for the Toronto Gazette who happened to be saddled with a type of clairvoyance.  Ciccone could see events from the past, but only those that relate to certain unsolved murders, and he could not get a new vision/clue until he figured out how the last one related to the murder.  Naturally, his visions tended to complicate things.  Seeing Things was a perfect almagram of crime, clairvoyancy, and comedy.  Along for the ride were Martha Gibson, Del Grande's real-life wife, as Ciccone's wife Marge, and Janet-Laine Green as Crown Attorney Heather Redfern.

     Del Grande's role won him the 1983 ACTRA award for best actor in a television drama.  Janet-Laine Green has worked steadily in the industry, acting asell as providing voice-overs for such children's series as Babar, Jacob Two-Two, Franklin, Mythic Warriors:  Guardians of the LegendThe Never-Ending Story, and The Care Bears Family.

     Seeing Things has been shown in the past on American television; I first saw it on PBS many years ago.  To my knowledge, it has not been released on DVD.  (If I'm wrong, please correct me; I'd love to get the full series.)  I was able to dig up the first episode in five parts on Youtube.

Part 1 of  "I May Be Seeing Things, But I'm Not Crazy":

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

And Part 5:

     Another program that I loved was She-Wolf of London, starring Kate Hodge and Neil Dickson.  She-Wolf ran for only 20 episodes in 1990 and 1991, suffering an ignominious fate over the last six episodes.  Hodge played Randi Wallace, an American grad student in England to study mythology under Dr. Ian Matheson, played by Dickson.  Sparks fly and the two are attracted to each other.  Unfortunately, during a camping trip on the moors, Randi is bitten by a werewolf.  (You have to hate it when that happens.)  For most of the series, the pair are trying to find a cure for werewolf-itis and Ian is charged with protecting Randi during her changes.  Because a full moon happens only thirteen times a year, many of the shows did not focus on Kate changing, but rather on various supernatural creatures.  This was another series that relied a lot on humor and interrelationships.
     She-Wolf of London was a British show created by Mick Garris and Tom McLaughlin; Garris had written such movies as Critters 2, Hocus Pocus, and The Fly II, and later worked on Stephen King vehicles Riding the Bullet and Quicksilver Highway.  Regrettably, the European producers pulled the financial plug on the series during its first season.  To cut down on costs, the series and its characters moved to Los Angeles.  Since the she-wolf was no longer in London, the name of series was changed to Love and Curses.  The move to L.A. for the last six episode sucked the life out of the series.  It was explained by Dr. Ian Matheson losing his academic job (his scholarly study was published by a very lurid paperback company -- evidently a no-no in British academia) and becoming a television talk show host specializing in paranormal topics.  A sad, sorry end to one of the brightest shows on television.

     The entire series was later shown on the SF (pre-SciFi) Channel with the Love and Curses episodes retaining the original She-Wolf of London title.  This one is available on DVD.

     Special mention should be made of Diane Youdale, the unsung actress who played the werewolf.  Oh, and Neil Dickon went on to play a recurring villain on the television show Sliders.

Here (again in five parts) is the first show in the series, titled (go figure) "She-Wolf of London".

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

     For more overlooked movies, television, and whatnot, drop by Todd Mason's blog Sweet Freedom today and prepare to be amused and amazed.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Not much came in this week, if you compare it to recent weeks.  I had a chance to pick up several Dorchester/Leisure books, but opted not to.
  • Philip Jose Farmer, The Unreasoning Mask.  SF novel.
  • Jeff Gelb and Michael Garrett, editors, Dark Passions:  Hot Blood XIII.  Horror anthology.  I had read the first few books in the Hot Blood series and enjoyed them.  It's time to see if the series is still good, although with contributions by Dave Zeltserman, Ed Gorman, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, David J. Schow, Thomas Tessier, and Graham Masterton, among others, bodes well for this collection.
  • Jack McDevitt, Seeker.  SF novel.  The third of the Alex Benedict novels.
  • John Miller, First Power Play.  SF novel, Volume 1 in the Inner Planets Trilogy, a Buck Rogers in the XXV Century book.
  • Sarah Stromeyer, Bubbles All the Way.  Mystery novel.  I am a Bubbles fan.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I know some parts of the country are having horrible weather, but things are just fine in Southern Maryland.  We had a very mild winter and it's been warm and lovely the past week or so.  We have had rains, but night seemed to be the proper time to have heavy downpours and strong winds; the days were bright and sunny and the ground just a tad too wet for me to begin working on the lawn.  Perfect.

     Make no mistake about it, spring has come.  We drove around yesterday admiring the forsythia in bloom, as well as the daffodils, jonquils, and roses.  The redbuds are gearing up for riotous color, the trees have sprouted tiny green buds for a promise of verdant beauty.  The azaleas are justung itching to bloom.  The birds are singing.  The male cardinals are ariot in bright display to attract the lady cardinals.  Robins are feasting on treats from the ground.  (Strangely, in four years of living here, I've never seen an oriole.  What's that about?  I mean, I'm fifty miles from Baltimore, for heaven's sake!) 

     It started to grow chilly last night and I woke up this morning to a blanket of snow covering the ground -- about an inch, which is just enough for nature to tell us not to get too cocky.  Looking out the front door, I couold view the trees -- thirty, forty, fifty feet tall -- laced in delicate white.  The view is the same but different out the back door.  Through the white-armed trees, I can see the sun glinting off the lake, providing me with a private dance of light.  It was quiet here in the morning.  No one was about and nature spoke silently at that hour.

    It's now late afternoon, the snow is completely gone and it's short-sleeve weather again.  Nature has again told me that she can do what she wishes, when she wishes.  I'm glad that recently she has decided to be kind to me, showing me her grace and her beautiful coutenance.  Tomorrow it will still be warm, although the ground will be wet from the melted snow.  I'm afraid I still won't get to work on the lawn.  Perfect.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


From one of a group of fourteen or fifteen year old boys at Wal-Mart:

     "She just doesn't understand the difference between drinking and getting pissy drunk"

     Ah, youth!


Douglas Adams got it wrong.  The answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is not 42.

     It's 41.

     Sorry, Doug, you missed it by that much.

     41 years ago today, I did the smartest thing in my life and married Kitty.  For once in my life I was doing something that was absolutely right, with no questions or doubt in my mind.  Why the most wonderful and  beautiful woman in the world would marry me is another question.

     Back then, I was a bearded bumpkin with blisters on my hands from working construction.  Today, at least, I've lost the beard and the blisters.  Back then, I could get lost in the beauty of her eyes and and the warmth of her smile.  Today, if that has changed at all, my feelings have only grown deeper.

     41 years may seem like a long time, but it really just rushed by.  We survived the low-paying, soul-sucking jobs and the slightly better-paying, soul-sucking jobs.  We were also blessed by doing some things we really loved doing:  we worked in newspapers, at a food bank, at a local cable station, and at an equity theater; we worked at blood drives, concerts, and book signings.  We spend years as therapeutic foster parents, taking in unwanted and troubled kids -- sometimes for a few nights, sometimes for years -- and got to help some really fantastic kids.

     We had two wonderful girls of our own and they just completed us.  We have the knowledge that whatever else we did, whatever mistakes we may have made, our children were proof that the impact we had on the world was real and positive.  Our children went on and gave us four beautiful and whip-smart grandchildren who make us laugh and make us smile and make us marvel at the world every day.

     We have had sorrows and troubles and tragedy.  Through it all, we have had each other.  I wouldn't have any other way.  And I couldn't have loved any woman more than I love Kitty today.

     So, Mr. Douglas Adams, you got it wrong.  You were off by one number.  At least, for the coming year.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Courtesy of Gary Dobbs, comes news that the Romance Writers of America are joining the boycott:


     A Strange Adventure in the Life of Miss Laura Mildmay by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (1871)

     Mr. Jenner, the Vicar of the village of Golden Friars, and his wife Dolly have a pleasant and rich life with one major exception:  through twenty years of marriage they have not been blessed with a child.  This has been their one regret, one that Mrs. Jenner, especially, has felt.  One evening a letter arrives, sent by Hileria Pullen, a woman unknown to either of them.  The letter tells of the death of a long-lost relative of Mrs. Jenner and of the existence of an eighteen-month old daughter, whom the mother wished to go the Jenners' care.  The writer, Miss Pullen (the child's nurse), explained that she and the child were taken into the care of Captain Torquil and his wife; Mrs. Torquil was a very distant cousin of Mrs. Jenner.

     For reasons unknown and never explained, Mrs. Mildmay, the deceased woman, Had left a will giving a rather sizable fortune to Mrs. Torquil if the infant were not married by her thirtieth birthday.  The nurse, Miss Pullen, hinted strongly that she feared for the child, refering only vaguely about the Captain's terrible temper.  The letter ended with a plea for the vicar to take the baby away from the Torquil house.

     While discussing this strange letter, there was a knock on the door.  The parish clerk had arrived with a small child, telling the Jenners that a woman, half-dead, had arrived at the local inn with the child and would not rest until the child was out of harm's way and with the vicar.  The woman, of course, was the nurse and the child was the young baby in her charge.

     While her husband journeys to the inn, Mrs. Jenner and Kitty Bell, the maid, take the child upstairs and begin to unwrap her:

          "To say they were disappointed would be nothing -- they were shocked.  It was the ugliest
          baby they had ever seen, and looked, moreover, as if it was dying;

          "'Adzooks!' gasped Kitty, after a silence of some seconds.

          "'Dear me!  Poor little thing!' said Mrs. Jenner, in a whisper of amazement.  'It certainly is
          very plain.'

          "'Did I ever see such a windered babby as that!' exclaimed Kitty."

     Things begin to happen rather rapidly from here.  Captain Torquil arrives at the vicarage and demands to see the baby.  Refused by Mrs. Jenner, he storms up the stairs, breaks open a door and seizes the child.  He is stopped by several of the townsmen and storms out of the house vowing police action against the Jenners.  At the same time, the vicar has heard Hileria Pullen's tale.  The Captain, it seems, is in heavy debt due to gambling losses; his wife spends her days in her bedroom, a hopeless alcoholic.  Captain Torquil has few friends left, due to his immoral ways and vicious temper.  He has spend much time glaring at the baby with hatred, knowing that, should the baby die, a fortune would come to his wife.  He has even tried to get the nurse to give the child a strange powder which she feared was poison.

     The baby, gravely ill, had indeed been poisoned shortly before the nurse took her and escaped.  She is nursed back to health and made a ward of the Jenners, dispite pleas and threats of legal action fro Captain Torquil.  Torquil then flees his debtors, going abroad as a private mercenary where it is reported that he was badly disfigured and slain.

     Eighteen years pass and the child, Laura, has blossomed from a hideous baby to one of the most beautiful women in the country.  She is courted by many, although there are just two main suitors.  The rest of the book details the danger she finds herself in when the past reaches up for her.

     J. Sheridan Le Fanu, has been called the father of the modern ghost story and Ireland's answer to edgar Allen Poe.  His books, such as Uncle Silas, Wylder's Hand and The House by the Churchyard are classic mysteries that helped form the genre.  He was a master of the psychological portrait and his leisurely manner helped convey his sensational stories to an interested public.  (His famous vampire story Camilla, with its underrlaying theme of lesbianism, would have surely sparked outrage had it not been for his slow and subtle style.)  His best work surpasses that of Wilkie Collins, to whom he is sometimes compared.  Luckily, almost all of his work is readily available -- much of it online -- and his short stories have been included in a number of anthologies.  A Strange Adventure in the Life of Miss Laura Mildmay is one of his few works that can be deemed a forgotten work.  The story first appeared as one of three novels in the collection Chronicles of Golden Friars in 1871, which was reprinted in three volumes by Arno Press in 1977.  The only other printing of the story that I know of was in 1947 by the London firm of Home & Van Thal.  a shame, really, because Laura Mildmay is an excellent and compelling story, an atmospheric tale of blood and thunder.  As a bonus, the novel also incorporates a separate ghost story, the much better-known "Madame Crowl's Ghost", which served as the title story of a collection edited by M. R. James which brought a new generation to Le Fanu in 1923.


     While Patti Abbot recovers from her truly horrible vacation, blog buddy Todd Mason is filling in this week, rounding up the other Friday's Forgotten Books.  Go to Sweet Freedom for links to more great reading.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I have been aware for some time about the problems with Dorchester Publishing, mostly through the problems Charles Ardai had with his Hard Case Crime book line, but had not paid close attention to what was actually happening with some of their other lines.  I came to this through Tom Piccirilli's blog, The Cold Spot.  He provided this link, which I think should be given as wide an audience as possible:

     Dorchester/Leisure was responsible for consistent, reliable, well-written genre lines.  Nobody got rich writing for Dorchester, but a number of very talented authors were able to make a living.  Publishing companies often treat their authors as poor cousins, but this is ridiculous.  I don't know how much good a boycott will do, but it certainly can't hurt.

     UPDATE:  Here's what writer Mary San Giovanni has to say:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


News came down today of the death of April Derleth, the head of small publisher Arkham House.  The publishing imprint had been founded by her father August Derleth and Donald Wandrei in 1939 to keep the works of H. P. Lovecraft in print.  After World War II, Wandrei would leave the firm, putting control in the hands of August Derleth.  Arkham House was not only responsible for the Lovecraft resurgence, but it also brought such writers as Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, William Hope Hodgson, Ray Bradbury and Robert Bloch to the attention of a wider reading public, as well publishing the first work of Ramsey Campbell and Brian Lumley

     After Derleth's death in 1971, the publishing house was run by James Turner, who moved Arkham House more solidly toward science fiction.  Turner left Arkham to found Golden Gryphon Press in 2002, April Derleth assumed control of Arkham House.  Arkham House became a small shadow of what it had been, putting out books irregularly while other, newer small presses rose to meet the needs of a growing readership.  Recently, in conjunction with Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, Arkahm House books began to reappear with both new and expanded older works planned.  The death of April Derleth has caused Arkham House to announce that all sales and order fulfillment has been temporarily suspended.

      April Derleth's younger brother Walden is half-owner of Arkham House.  Whether he, or perhaps one of April's heirs (if any, I don't know the details of her private llife), or George Vandenburg of Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, or Peter Ruber (who assisted April Derleth) will run the publishing house is in question, as is -- indeed -- the future of the historic enterprise.

    April Derleth was born in 1956, making her 55 or 56 years old.  The cause of death has not been reported.  Her loss at such a young age is sad.


Pam and Jerry North were a young crime-stopping, crime-solving couple living in Greenwich Village.  Created by Richard Lockridge, who premiered the duo in humorous short sketches for The New York Sun; they were popular enough to make the transition to The New Yorker magazine.  The original stories were published as Mr. and Mrs. North (1936).  Several years later, he revived the characters with his wife, Frances Lockridge, and began a series of over two dozen mystery novels, beginning with The Norths Meet Murder (1940).

     The popular couple soon found their way to a Broadway play, a motion picture, and a well-received radio series.  Richard Denning and Barbara Britton, who were the third pair to play Mr. and Mrs. North on radio, segued to an early television series that ran from 1952 to 1954, first on CBS, then on NBC.  Fifty-seven half-hour shows were produced.   The episode embedded below is the tenth, first aired on December 5, 1952, in which Pam and Jerry help a comic strip writer stop a gang of juveniles who were running a neighborhood protection racket.  The title is Comic Strip Tease.

And now for something completely different.  Since it is now Spring, and because it still doesn't feel like spring to many of you, here's my salute to a different kind of spring.  This fourteen-minute cartoon (date unknown) features a hero called Spring Man.  It's of Slavic origin.  (I tell by all the Slavic names in the credits.)

     From the opening:  "During the German occupation tales were told of a mysterious man who jumped about on springs and brought terror to the occupants with his jumps and springs.  Our film is dedicated to this good ghost."

    I love it.  Celebrate a very different spring with the sly and witty Spring Man and the SS:


For more overlooked movies, films, television, AV and whatnot, visit Todd Mason's blog Sweet Freedom for a list of links.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Looking for a pet?


Mainly horror and SF this time, with some early Edge westerns thrown in for good measure:
  • Daniel Easterman, The Name of the Beast.  Thriller.  Easterman is a pseudonym for Mid-East scholar Dennis MacEoin, who also writes horror novels as "Jonathan Ayecliffe".
  • George Gilman, Edge series:  #2 Ten Grand; #4 Killer's Breed; #5 Blood on Silver; and #26 Death Drive.  Adult westerns.  Gilman is a pseudonym for Terry Harknett.
  • Jonathan Fast, The Inner Circle.  Horror.  Fast is the son of novelist Howard Fast and a distinguished writer in his own right.
  • Christopher Golden, editor, The New Dead:  A Zombie anthology.  Horror anthology.
  • Sarah Gran, Come Closer.  Horror novel.
  • James Herbert, The Fog.  Horror novel.
  • Carol Hightshoe, editor.  Space Sirens.  SF Anthology.  #2 in the Full-Throttle Space Tales series.
  • Richard Laymon, Beware.  Horror novel.
  • Jonathan Letham & Carter Scholz, Kafka Americana.  SF collection.  Two stories by Letham, two by Scholz, and one collaboration.
  • Michael Moore, Stupid White Men...and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation.  Non-fiction.  Nobody rants like Moore.  (Actually, this book is one my wife snagged and she made me read the first chapter on the ride home; Moore doesn't care for Dubya.)
  • Arthur W. Saha, editor, The Year's Best Fantasy Stories:  13.  Fantasy anthology.  Covers 1986.
  • Robert J. Sawyer, 1terations.  SF collection.
  • John Saul, Black Creek Crossing.  Horror novel.  Another of his children in danger novels.
  • Dave Ulanski with Garrett Anderson, editors, Werewolves:  Dead Moon Rising.  Horror Anthology.  A "Moonstone Monsters anthology".
  • Stewart Wieck, editor, The Beast Within.  Horror anthology.  A Vampire:  The Masquerade anthology.
  • Robert Westall, The Best of Robert Westall, Volume Two:  Shades of Darkness.  YA horror collection, but Westall, like Joan Aiken, can be read and appreciated by all ages.
  • Charles Wilkins, editor, The Wolf's Eye:  Twenty Stories from Northwestern Ontario.  Fiction anthology.  This copy was inscribed and signed by "Dorothy", evidently contributor Dorothy Colby.
  • Colin Wilson, The Mind Parasites.  SF/horror novel.
  • F. Paul Wilson, Dydeetown World.  SF novel.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I just came across something interesting on the Online Books Page: a link to the archives of The Australian Women's Weekly.  I logged on to the earliest issue available (Saturday, June 10, 1933) and began to get get lost in another time and place.  Short articles, advice, women's sports, a romance story, the world's easiest crossword, the world's poorest jokes, and more...including Part 1 of a 3-part serial, "The Death Scream".  ("Had the Implacable Nemesis tracked the explorers of the Egyptian Tombs -- exacting from them, one by one, the fatal penalty?")  The author was one Cosmo Hamilton, touted as a member of the famous Gibbs family of writers.  (Well, it was probably important in 1933 Australia.)  Also, I noted a book review page that included a rave for The Deputy for Cain,  by mystery writer Roy Vickers, others for Clemence Dane's Bronte play Wild December and Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, as well as a cryptic filler claiming that H. G. Wells had written more books than any other living writer.  And the back page had a full-page, Totally-Safe-for-Work, advertisement for lady's underwear.

     Over the next week, I hope to get to "The Death Scream".  It's nice to know there's another place to go surfing to find some potentially good (probably bad) curiosities.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Tongues of Fire and Other Sketches by Algernon Blackwood (London:  Herbert Jenkins Limited, 1924; printed in the U.S. by Dutton as Tongues of Fire and Other Stories, 1925)

Algernon Blackwood was one of the preeminent writers of supernatural stories in the first half of the Twentieth Century and is probably best known for classic stories such as "The Willows" and "The Wendigo", as well as the John Silence psychic detective stories.  His stories tend to provide a sense of unease and a knowledge that there may be something in nature that lies just beyond our grasp.  This mystic view of nature puts much of his writing in the same class as that of Arthur Machen, a great contemporary writer of supernatural tales.  (Both Blackwood and Machen were members of the the mystical Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.)

     The British title of this collection is more descriptive than the American one for many of these tales are sketches and mood-pieces rather than stories.  Most of them view nature as an organic, perhaps cosmic, entity.  The protagonist of  "A Man of Earth", for example, was not merely a person who worked with the earth or one who loved the earth, John Erdlieb was a man OF the earth, one whose is part and parcel of  the ground he worked with:

     "He was a miniing engineer by profession; he loved the earth and anything to do with the earth, from a garden he played with half tenderly, to a mountain he attacked half savagely for tunnellin or blasting purposes.  He never left the earth if he could help it; both feet and mind were always planted firmly upon terra firma; figuratively or actually, he never flew.  And his physical appearance expressed his wholesome, earthy type -- the rumbling subterranean bas voice, the tangled undergrowth of beard that his his necktie, the slow, stately walk as of a small hill advancing [...] A child of earth, in the literal sense he was, if ever such existed."

     From the publisher's introduction:  "A childhood spent in the Black Forest, then farming in Canada, experience on the Rainy River Goldfields, journalism in America, have stored up for the author a fund of impressions which enable him to reproduce every emotion of the human heart and mind.  His great theme is Mystery, the Unknown, which he seeks in strange places and among strange people."

     The sketches/stories are:
  • Tongues of Fire
  • The Little Beggar
  • Malahide and Forden
  • Playing Catch
  • The Pikestaffe Case
  • Alexander Alexander
  • Lost!
  • The Olive
  • A Continuous Performance
  • The World-Dream of McCallister
  • The Other Woman
  • Picking Fir-Cones
  • The Open Window
  • Petershin and Mr. Snide
  • The Man Who Was Milligan
  • The Falling Glass
  • The Spell of Egypt
  • A Man of Earth
  • The Laughter of Carthage
  • S.O.S.
  • Nephele
     Most of Blackwood's shorter work is readily available on the internet, but Tongues of Fire is not.  I got the copy I read from an interlibrary loan.  Since Abebooks lists 18 copies for sale and the prices go from $50.00 to $2250.00, you may want to do the same.


     While Patti Abbott relaxes for a couple of weeks, the Friday's Forgotten Books wrangler position goes to George Kelley this week (at and next week to Todd Mason.  Visit George for a complete list of this week's selections.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Wishing every one a HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!

(Let it be known that I do have a wee bit of Irish blood in my veins, even though my wife insists that any green in my blood is probably mold.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The ever-continuing crisis in Japan is heart-breaking.  The disaster hat-trick (earthquake, tsunami, nuclear danger) reads like something out of an old Irwin Allen movie.  But this is real-life.  And death.

     Fears of meltdown have spread throughout the world, bringing concern to many people about the nuclear power plants near where they live.  Have I mentioned that I live ten miles from two nuclear reactors?

     The Japanese disaster has forced the Nuclear Regulatory Agency to rethink its previous assessments about the degree of safety at the 104 nuclear power plants in the U.S.  Surprisingly, the riskiest plants are located on the East Coast.  At the two Calvert Cliffs nuclear reactors, my neighbors, the risk factor is now 40 to 43 percent higher than previously calculated.  (These risk factors, by the way, are based on "worst-case" scenarios.)  Both reactors seem to relatively safe:  one is listed (with four other reactors) in 57th place; the other is listed at 67th place.  This means that the chances of catastrophic failure due to earthquake at the first is 1 in 83,333 in any given year; chances for failure at the second is 1 in 1,000,000.   Both plants were evidently built to withstand a 7.5 earthquake, the same as the reactors in Japan. 

     Plans have been off-and-on underway for a third reactor, the first to be built in the U.S. in a number of years.  Financing has been tricky, though, and has fallen through with at least one major partner.  With the problems in Japan, the project will surely face more delays, and possibly cancellation.

     I am not very concerned living close to nuclear power plants.  I am more concerned about the LNG terminals five miles away, midway between my house and the nuclear facililty.  Even that doesn't bother much; I worked several years for General Dynamics where they were building LNG carriers and I am very familiar with all the safety issues.  Natural disasters?  Not so much.  I'm on high ground so floods and tidal waves won't bother me.  The county next to us is a tornado magnet; my area isn't.  The biggest danger in my area would come from terrorists targeting the reactors or the LNG tanks.  Did I mention that Southern Maryland is just outside Washington, D.C.?)

     There is no safe place to live anywhere in the world.  There never has been.  Life is a crap shoot and I am quite aware of how fragile it is.  The best you can do is to take reasonable precautions and go on with your life, enjoying each day to the fullest.  Meanwhile, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan and with those of earlier disasters where recovery has not yet fully come -- Haiti, the Guilf Coast, Indonesia, the list goes on and on...


Just a minor grumble today.  Has anyone ever tried a Little Debbie snack cake?  Or a Little Debbie anything?  Why do they spread the bottom of the cake/anything with some sort of parafin substance pretending to be (I assume) icing?  Don't they realize that this stuff is the only thing in the world more tasteless than the Little Debbie product itself?

     Taking a little sidetrip:  a number of years ago, there was a television commercial for Hostess snacks.  The wise and all-knowing mother had unwrapped various Hostess snacks and placed them on a plate on the kitchen table.  The father, son, and daughter rush past her.  They're late and have no time for breakfast, but they come to a screeching halt at the door, and the father turns, says, "Hey, do I smell crumb cakes?"  No, moron, you don't smell crumb cakes!  Those things are loaded with more preservatives than a year's worth of funeral home customers.  Those things don't emit a pleasant aroma, and they have a half-life of something like 50,000 years.  Yet, the commercial ends with the entire family smiling and munching on snacks, and the hell with being late.  Mother is smiling in her wise and all-knowing way. 

     What product (or commercial) really frosts your cookies?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I'm a little late in posting today.  I was going to weasel out and claim my overlooked video was the clip of the doom-fated snake and the pneumatic Orit Fox in the previous post, but I honestly think THAT video will not be overlooked for some time to come.  The reason I'm late is because I was in a quandry.  I had intended to post on Knigel Kneale's QUATERMASS II (the television serial) when I saw that Dan Stumpf had blogged about the Hammer film version on Steve Lewis's Mystery*File.  But, what the heck, there's some difference between the two and Quatermass is cool in any format.

     Nigel Kneale turned to television and screenwriting because (he claimed) the money was good.  Earlier, he had been an acclaimed short story writer; his only story collection TOMATO CAIN, AND OTHER STORIES won the Somerset Maugham award in 1950.  For television he created Quatermass and wrote the four serials that make up that oevre, as well as adaptions of Kingsley Amis, Bernard Cornwell, and George Orwell.  For the screen, he wrote LOOK BACK IN ANGER, THE ENTERTAINER, HMS DEFIANT, FIRST MEN IN THE MOON, HALLOWEEN III: THE SEASON OF THE WITCH, and the adaptations of the first three Quatermass serials.  We are talking about one talented dude here.

     The Quatermass serials proved to be extremely popular and well-produced cliffhangers in England.  The first, THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT, was televised in 1953; the second, QUATERMASS II, in 1955; and the third, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, in 1958-9.  The final one, titled simply QUATERMASS (also known as THE QUATERMASS CONCLUSION), was televised 20 years later, in 1979.  The first three scripts were issued as paperbacks by Penguin in 1959 and 1960; the last was adapted as a novel published by Hutchinson in 1979.

    Quatermass was scientist Bernard Quatermass (John Robinson) and QUATERMASS II was name of a rocket he was developing.  A mysterious accident where the rocket was being built resulted in a nuclear explosion.  Top men in the government have been taken over/controlled by an alien vapor that had been released by a meteor.  Quatermass then discovers a manufacturing plant that strikingly resembles his own proposed development for a moon base.  Soon the the alien threat grows and Quatermass must take his new rocket into space to battle the invaders.

     The Quatermass stories were an instant hit in England and fed on a growing concern about the power of bureaucracy and the possible dangers of government secrecy.  QUATERMASS II was filmed live in six (roughly) half-hour episodes.  Because its budget was twice that of THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT, producers were also able to go on location and insert some pre-filmed scenes.  (The producers also refilmed certain scenes immediately after the original broadcast.) 

     The star, John Robinson, by the way, was a last minute casting choice.  The original Quatermass from THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT, Reginald Tate, was to continue the role but died shortly before filming was scheduled to begin.  Look closely and you'll see Roger Delgado, who became better known as The Master from DR. WHO.

     Without further ado, here is the BBC television presentation of QUATERMASS II:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Part 6, Conclusion:

Monday, March 14, 2011


A boa acting like a boor made a fatal mistake, one that be should be a warning for some men.  The incident involved Orit Fox, a B-list Israeli model who should never worry about drowning.  During a photo shoot with the boa, Orit tried to kiss/lick the snake.  As is well-known, when a busty blonde starts to kiss/lick the snake, the results should be predictable.  Yep, this set the snake off.  So the snake bit the model on the left breast.  Caught on film.  Busted!  The jug jig was up.

     Now, usually this would result in the snake getting a booby prize for bad behavior.  Alas, this was not to be.  D cup runneth over -- with silicon, which poisoned the snake.  Fangs a lot, breast enhancement!

     Orit was taken to the hospital and given a tetanus shot.  A tetanus shot would not have helped the snake, though.  It died.  Happily, we hope.

     So, gentlemen, this is how not to treat some women.  Ladies, these is not how to treat some big snakes.  The visual evidence is here:

By the way, "Silicon Orit Fox" is an anagram for TOXIC and a whole bunch of other letters.


Another day, another thrift store.  Happy face for the Unicorn Mystery Book club volumes  :-)

  • Piers Anthony.  Alien Plot.  SF collection.
  • Neal Barrett, Jr.  Dungeons & Dragons:  The Movie.  Movie tie-in novel.
  • Neal Barrett, Jr.  Judge Dredd.  Movie tie-in novel.  Stallone reeked in the flick, but maybe Barrett will do better with the book.
  • David Brin.  Earth.  SF novel.
  • Walter R. Brooks.  Freddy Goes to Florida (original title To and Again).  Juvenile. The first adventure of Freddy the Pig.
  • Sean Chercover.  Trigger City.   Mystery.  Ray Dudgeon #2.
  • (Detective Book Club).  Contains Hildegarde Withers Makes the Scene by Stuart Palmer & Fletcher Flora, A Clutch of Coppers by John Creasey writing as "Gordon Ashe", and Saxon's Ghost by Steve Fisher.  Mystery Omnibus.  Following Palmer's death, Flora completed his last novel.  The Creasey is a Patrick Dawlish novel first published two years earlier in England.  Fisher was a popular screenwriter and has published many western novels.
  • K. W. Jeter.  Dark Seeker.  Horror novel.
  • Michael R. Pitts.  Famous Movie Detectives III. Nonfiction, reference.  I really have to get the earlier two volumes.
  • Rudy Rucker.  Mind Tools:  The Five Levels of Mathematical Reality.  Nonfiction.  It just sounded cool.
  • Wilson Tucker.  The Year of the Quiet Sun.  SF novel.  Winner of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and nominated for a Nebula Award.
  • (Unicorn Mystery Book Club).  Contains Night Cry by William L. Stuart, Fatal Step by Wade Miller, An Author Bites the Dust by Arthur W. Upfield, and Lady Afraid by Lester Dent.  Mystery omnibus.  Stuart's book was notably made into a movie, Where the Sidewalk Ends.  The Miller is a Max Thursday mystery.  The Upfield features Australian detective Napoleon Bonaparte.  Lester Dent, of course, was the author of most of the Doc Savage novels under the name "Kennethh Robeson".  The Unicorn Mystery Book Club published 83 volumes between 1945 and 1952; four unabridged mystery books were included in each volume.  The editor for the last 80 volumes was Hans Stefan Santesson, perhaps best known as the editor of  The Saint Mystery [Detective] Magazine and Fantastic Universe. 
  • (Unicorn Mystery Book Club).  Contains Shoes for My Love (also known as Blood on My Shoes) by Jean Leslie, Dead Sure by Stewart Sterling, Framed in Guilt by Day Keene, and A Rope for the Baron by "Anthony Morton" (John Creasey).  Mystery omnibus.  The Leslie was the fifth of her eight mystery novels.  The Sterling was the second novel about Gil Vine, house detective, later private eye; this UMBC edition seems to indicate the novel's subtitle is The Case of the California Cutie  -- can anyone shed a light on this?  Framed in Guilt was recently reprinted with another Keene novel by Stark House (unabashed plug).  The "Morton"/Creasey was another in his popular series about John Mannering, the Baron.
  • (Unicorn Mystery Book Club).  Contains The Innocent Bystander by Craig Rice, Atomsk by "Carmichael Smith", A Corpse in Diplomacy by Miriam Borgenicht, and He's Late This Morning by Christopher Hale.  Mystery omnibus.  The Rice is a stand-alone suspense novel.  The author of Atomsk is better known as "Cordwainer Smith", acclaimed science fiction author; this book is a Cold War thriller.  The Borgenicht was the first of her seventeen mystery novels.  I know nothing about Hale.
  • (Unicorn Mystery Book Club).  Contains Fountain of Death by Hugh Lawrence Nelson, Murder Can Be Fun (also published as A Plot for Murder) by Fredric Brown, Uneasy Street by Wade Miller, and Echo My Tears by Jan Foster.  Mystery omnibus.  The Nelson is a Steve Johnson and Harry Sinclair mystery.  The Brown is a standalone, based on his story "The Santa Claus Murders".  Uneasy Street is another Max Thursday novel.  The Foster is a first novel.
     The used book store where I got the Unicorn Mystery Book Club volumes (for a buck each!!!) has a dozen or so others.  I may go back.

Friday, March 11, 2011


If you are interested in reading a great western novel, follow the link to Larry Sweazy's blog where he really wants to away a signed copy of his book The Scorpion Trail:

FRIDAY, 7:31 A.M.

Japan has had a severe earthquake and my thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people.

The earthquake has triggered a tsunami that is due to hit Hawaii about a half an hour from now.  All good thoughts to our fiftieth state.

Also hoping the tsunami won't take out Obama's birth certificate.


Ben Forbes, a successful young lawyer, waits for his wife to pick him up at his office.  She never appears.

     Ben had represented Lorene Guthrie in a divorce suit against her sadistic husband Al.  Al Guthrie blames Ben for his wife leaving him and for convincing her to file for divorce; until Ben appeared, Lorene always came crawling back to Al after he beat her.  With the divorce to be finalized within two weeks, Al has a delusional plan to get his wife back.  He has kidnapped Carolyn Forbes, and if Ben wants his wife back, he must convince Lorene to come back to Al.  Because Al believes Ben was the one to convince his wife to leave him, he will be the one who can convince Lorene to come back.  If Ben fails, Al will kill Carolyn, the Lorene, and then Ben.

     Ben is afraid to tell the police, even though his wife's disappearance is being handled by high school friend Detective Ernie McGrath.  Ben's erratic behavior makes Ernie begin to suspect that he had killed his wife.  In the meantime, Ben contacts Lorene, a young, beautiful, and selfish woman, who has just become engaged to an older -- safer -- man.  Ben soon realizes that the shallow Lorene will be of no help. 

     The stage is set for a razor-sharp, fast-moving psychological thriller.  Author Leigh Brackett rachets up the suspense as Al Guthrie descends further and further into madness.  An Eye for an Eye is a crackerjack novel with a sudden violent ending, a book that -- if it had not been issued by a major hardcover publisher -- would have fit just fine with a yellow spine and a Gold Medal label.

     Leigh Brackett began her career as a science fiction writer, becoming one of the leading authors of planetary adventure.  Her first novel, however, was a hard-boiled detective story and she soon brought a noir sensibility to her science fiction.  She soon moved to screenwriting, writing such classics as The Big Sleep (with William Faulkner), Rio Bravo, The Long Goodbye, and The Empire Strikes Back (complete by Lawrence Kasdan after Brackett's sudden death).  Among her many novels were The Sword of Rhiannon and The Long Tomorrow (science fiction), Follow the Free Wind (western, winner of the Spur award), Stranger at Home (mystery novel ghost-written for actor George Sanders), and mystery novels No Good for a Corpse, A Tiger Among Us, and Silent Partner.  Her science fiction short stories are currently being published in really great editions from Haffner Press, and Silent Partner was released with a number of mystery short stories by Dennis McMillan in 1999.  Most of her books are readily available through on-line sellers.  No matter what hat she wore, Leigh Brackett always delivered the goods.


     For more of Friday's Forgotten Books, go to Patti Abbot's blog Pattinase at

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I think it's pretty well established that I am of a liberal bent.  I was not really surprised by the antics in Wisconsin yesterday, or by Rep. Peter King's hearings on Muslim terrorism, but Lordloveaduck Newt Gingrich has got my head spinning.

     (In the interest of full disclosure, I have been told that I look like Newt Gingrich.  In fact, I've been mistaken for him a couple of times in Washington, D.C. by what I am sure are myopic yahoos.  It's gotten to the point where I have considered getting a tee-shirt proclaiming me to be the "Anti-Newt".)

     Okay, so Newt, who does have a problem with keeping it zipped up, has come up with a logical explanation for his serial adultery:  PATRIOTISM.  Yep.  Newt loves his country so much, it stressed him out enough to commit adultery.  Multiple times.  This, of course, allows Newt to seriously "consider" consider running for president, because who doesn't want the president to love his country?

     I've tried to explain to my wife that I am a true patriot, deeply in love with my country.  She isn't buying it.  (She really doesn't have to worry -- she doesn't have cancer.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I'm in an evil mood this morning, students, so here's a surprise quiz.  It's going to count for fifty percent of your final grade.  In this essay quiz, you must discuss the following questions and defend your positions to my satisfaction.  You have twenty minutes.  And remember -- points will be taken off for bad penmanship.

1.  Charlie Sheen.  Winner?

2.  Today is the first anniversary of legal gay marriage in Washington D.C.  How in hell does this threaten my marriage?

3.  Which of the following parents of celebrities should be given a hard whack on the head, and why?  Pick only one.

          - Dina Lohan
          - Michael Lohan
          - Joe Simpson
          - Joe Jackson
          - Billy Ray Cyrus
          - Sarah Palin
          - Simon Cowell's father
          - Glenn Beck's father
          - L. Ron Hubbard (Tom Cruise's father figure)
          - Tom Cruise
          - All of the above.

4.  Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman (choose one).  Sexy, bat-shit crazy, or both?

5.  The Facebook revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt have resulted in their respective governments being overthrown.  Not so much yet in Libya.  If the revolution fails in Libya, should the opposition try again, this time using chain letters?  Defend your answer.

6.  Rep. Peter King.  Radical I.R.A. supporter or radical Muslim non-supporter?  And how will affect his pledge to launch multiple investigations into President Obama, radical Hawaiian supporter?

7.  You have been ordered to slash the country's budget by $2.57.  What cut(s) would you make, how would defend them, and what would the overall fiscal, social, and political effects be?

8.  When will e-books be overtaken by technology?

9.  A copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, featuring the first appearance of Spider-Man, just sold for $1.5 million dollars.  Why did my mother throw away my copy?  Did she not want to see me become rich, or did she just hate me?

10.  Why do these quizzes have ten questions?   If I were a polydactyl (born with six fingers on each hand), would I have to think up another two questions?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Today is Fat Tuesday.  No, Miss Weld did not let herself gain weight.  It's Mardi Gras!

New Orleans has gone through some pretty tough times over the past few years, but it is a survivor.  I thought it would be interesting to look at some short films covering Mardi Gras in the Big Easy over the years.

The first is from home videos taken in 1941.  No sound on this one, but I love watching the faces in the crowd.  Toward the end, there are a lot of kids in fancy costumes and some of them look actually happy.  Huge crowds and absolutely safe for work.  By-gone times:

Let's shift up to 1956:

Even Katrina couldn't dispell the New Orleans spirit.  Here's 2006:

Of course, New Orleans isn't the only city to celebrate Mardi Gras.  It's evidently a big day in Galveston
also.  Look closely and you may see Bill Crider tossing beads and shouting, "Show us your paperbacks!"  Or not:

I hope you have a fantastic Fat Tuesday (again, I refer to the day, not the actress).  Laissez les bon temps roulez!


For more much more significant overlooked films, visit Todd Mason at his Sweet Freedom blog.

Oh, and just so you don't confuse them, here's Tuesday Weld;

Monday, March 7, 2011


The first time I saw her, I knew she was the most beautiful woman in the world.  Today, she is still the most beautiful woman in the world..  Her warmth, her grace, her intelligence, her laughter...all have been so evident every day I have been with her.  She has made me a better person and I'd hate to think what I would have been without her.  For the longest time she said she wouldn't marry me because she did not want her name to be Kitty House.  I'm glad she changed her mind.  I am by far the lucky one because I married her.
Happy birthday, Kitty.  I will love you forever.


A busy week. folks.  A lot of anthologies and replacement copies in this bunch.  MacKay's Books in Manassas should be ashamed for tempting me so much.  Ditto Second Look Books in Prince Frederick, Maryland.

  • Brian Aldiss.  Seasons in Flight.  SF collection.
  • Mike Ashley, editor.  Historical Detectives.  Mystery anthology.
  • Mike Ashley, editor.  The Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy II.  Fantasy anthology.
  • James Axler.  Deathlands:  Bloodlines.  Post-apocalyptic pulp, number mumblymumble in this everlasting pbo series.
  • Ray Banks.  No More Heroes.  Crime novel, Cal Innes #3.  Uncorrected proof.
  • Neal Barrett, Jr.  The Prophecy Machine.  SF novel.
  • L. Frank Baum.  The Emerald City of Oz.  Children's book.  The 6th in the series.
  • Patricia Briggs.  Iron Kissed.  Horror novel, third in the Mercy Thompson series.
  • Pat Cardigan, editor.  The Ultimate Cyberpunk.  SF anthology.
  • John Dickson Carr.  Papa La-Bas.  Historical Mystery.
  • Peter Crowther, editor.  Destination Unknown.  SF anthology.
  • Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, editors.  The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror:  Sixteenth Annual Collection.  Fantasy/Horror anthology, covering 2002.
  • John DeChancie and Martin H. Greenberg, editors.  Castle Fantastic.  Fantasy anthology.
  • Charles de Lint.  The Riddle of the Wren.  Fantasy novel.
  • Samuel R. Delany.  The Motion of Light in Water:  Sex and Science Fiction, Writing in the East Village: 1960-1965.  Autobiography.  Unexpergated edition.
  • Lester del Rey.  The Early del Rey:  Volume 1.  SF collection, reprinting the first twelve stories from the hardbound edition.
  • Lester del Rey.  Rocket Jockey.  SF novel.
  • Gordon R. Dickson.  The Man from Earth.  SF collection.
  • Gardner Dozois, editor.  The Year's Best Science Fiction:  Twenty-Second Annual Collection.  SF anthology, covering 2004.
  • David Drake.  Bridgehead.  SF novel.
  • Pauline Rush Evans, editor.  Good Housekeeping's Best Book of Mystery Stories.  Mystery anthology, marketed to young readers.
  • John Farris.  Minotaur.  Suspense novel.
  • John Farris.  Son of the Endless Night.  Horror novel.
  • Alan Dean Foster.  Dirge.  SF novel, Book Two of The Founding of the Commonwealth.
  • Alan Dean Foster.  The Moment of the Magician.  SF novel, part of the Spellsinger series.
  • Alan Dean Foster.  With Friends Like These...  SF collection.
  • Alan Dean Foster.  Mid-Flinx.  SF novel, a Pip and Flinx adventure, number seven I think.
  • Hal Foster, illustrator.  The Young Knight:  A Tale of Medieval Times.  Juvenile.  A hardbound story (author uncredited) set in the Prince Valiant world and featuring Arn; published in 1945 and on very cheap paper, the actual story runs less than 25 pages.
  • David S. Garnett, editor.  The Orbit Science Fiction Yearbook Two.  SF anthology, covering 1988.
  • Ray Garton.  Dark channel.  Horror novel
  • Richard Gilliam, Martin H. Greenberg, and Edward E. Kramer, editors.  Confederacy of the Dead.  Horror anthology.
  • George G. Gilman.  Adam Steele Number 20:  Wanted for Murder; Adam Steele Number 21:  Wagons EastAdam Steele Number 25:  Steele's War:  The Woman.  Western novels..
  • George G. Gilman.  Edge:  Blood on Silver.  Western novel.  Number 5 in the series.
  • Simon R. Green.  Deathstalker Honor. SF novel, being the fourth part of the life and times of Owen Deathstalker.
  • Martin Harry Greenberg, Frank McSherry, Jr. & Charles G. Waugh, editors.  Civil War Ghosts.  Horror anthology.
  • Peter Haining, editor.  Death on Wheels.  Mystery/Horror anthology.
  • Peter Haining. editor.  The Vampire Hunters' Casebook.  Horror anthology.
  • Joe Haldeman.  Tool of the Trade.  SF novel.
  • Harry Harrison.  The Best of Harry Harrison.  SF collection.
  • Harry Harrison.  Planet of No Return.  SF novel, sequel to Planet of the Damned.
  • David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, editors.  Year's Best SF 14.  SF anthology, covering 2008
  • L. Ron Hubbard.  Spy Killer.  Adventure novella.
  • Marvin Kaye, editor.  Resurrected Holmes.  Sherlockian anthology.
  • Damon Knight, editor.  Orbit 19.  SF anthology.  The pentultimate volume.
  • William W. Johnstone.  Ordeal.  Thriller.
  • R. A. Lafferty.  Fourth Mansions.  SF novel, one of Terry Carr's Ace Science Fiction Specials.
  • Ursula Le Guin and Brian Atterbery, editors.  The Norton Book of Science Fiction.  Doorstopper SF anthology.
  • Jake Logan.  Slocum and the Dirty Game.  Western novel, number 202 in the series.
  • John Lutz.  Urge to Kill.  Thriller, a Frank Quinn novel.
  • Graham Masterton.  Picture of Evil.  Horror novel.
  • Michael Moorcock.  Von Beck.  SF omnibus containing revised versions of The Warhound and the World's Pain, A City in the Autumn Stars, and The Dragon in the Sword, plus a short story.
  • Robert Morgan.  Things That Are Not There.  Supernatural mystery novel.  The first in the Teddy London series by C. J. Henderson under a pen name.
  • E. Nesbit.  The Phoenix and the Carpet.  Children's fantasy, the third of the Five Children novels.
  • Andre Norton.  Dragon Magic.  Fantasy novel.
  • Norvell Page.  The Spider:  Robot Titans of Gotham.  Omnibus of three pulp hero novels from the Thirties, Satan's Murder Machines, Death Reign of the Vampire King, and The Octopus; the first two were originally published in The Spider under the house name "Grant Stockbridge", the third was originally published in the only issue of The Octopus under the name "Randolph Craig".
  • Edgas Pangborn.  A Mirror for Observers.  SF novel, winner of the 1955 International Fantasy Award.
  • George Pelecanos, editor.  D. C. Noir.  Mystery anthology.
  • George Pelecanos, editor.  D. C. Noir 2:  The Classics.  Mystery anthology.
  • Otto Penzler.  Murderers' Row.  Baseball-themed mystery anthology.
  • Douglas Preston.  Blasphemy.  Thriller.
  • Eric Frank Russell.  Dreadful Sanctuary.  SF novel.  Facsimile of the Fantasy Press edition!  Like new, unread!  Dust Jacket!  Slipcased!  For a buck!  Woot!
  • Fred Saberhagen.  The Mask of the Sun.  SF novel.
  • Pamela Sargent, editor.  Nebula Awards 30.  SF anthology, covering 1994.
  • Peter Sellers, editor.  Cold Blood III.  Mystery anthology with a distinct Canadian flavour.
  • Peter Sellers and John North, editors.  The Best of Cold Blood.  Retrospective mystery anthology covering the five volumes in the series.
  • Sandy Schofield.  Aliens:  Rogue.  SF novel, based on a comic book story written by Ian Edington.
  • Dean Wesley Smith.  Men in Black:  The Green Saliva Blues.  SF novel in the MIB franchise.
  • Thomas Burnett Swann.  Cry Silver Bells.  Fantasy novel.
  • Thomas Burnett Swann.  The Not-World.  Fantasy novel.
  • Vince van Patten and Robert J. Randisi.  The Picasso Flop.  Mystery novel.
  • Patricia Wallace.  Only Child.  Horror novel.
  • Ian Watson and Ian Whates, editors.  The Mammoth Book of Alternate Histories.  SF anthology.
  • Robin Scott Wilson, editor.  Clarion.  SF anthology from the science fiction writing workshop.  (Of course this suddenly brings to mind an impromptu limerick that Isaac Asimov came up with in the early Seventies:  "There once was a stripper named Marion, Who did bump and did grind and did carry on, The result of her pains, Were ill-gotten gains, Which she promptly donated to Clarion.")
  • James Yaffe.  Mom Among the Liars.  Mystery novel, the third in the series (I believe),ot counting any of the many "Mom" short stories.
  • Roger Zelazny.  The Changing Land.  Fantasy novel.
     This is all part of my alternative health plan/immortality scheme: I figure I now have to live to age 227 to finish reading all the books I have.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


With all the brouhaha in Wisconsin nowadays, labor unions are front and center in the spotlight.  I'm not necessarily a fan of unions today -- I think many of them have lost their way and have forgotten their original mission -- but attempts to strip the unions of all power and to roll back the Labor movement are (to my mind) foolhardy and dangerous.

    Joe Worker and the Story of Labor does a good job explaining why labor unions were important and why they can be important again.  Granted, this is a comic book that is painted with a pretty broad brush and simplifies m,any things that can never be that simple, but the nugget of the story is worthwhile.

About the author:

    Nat Schachner was a well-known science fiction writer for the pulps in the 1930's and the early 1940's.  A lawyer and chemist by trade, he is best known in the field for his fix-up novel Space Lawyer (1953).  He left the field to write historical novels and critically acclaimed biographies of the American founding fathers.

Here, from 1948, and in 48 comic book pages, is the story of labor in America;

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Philo Gubb made his debut in 1913 and was one of the first humorous detectives in mystery fiction.  His bumbling ways endeared him to readers and writer Ellis Parker Butler (best known today for his classic "Pigs Is Pigs") continued the adventures of the correspondence school detective for another thirty-nine episodes.  Seventeen of Philo's adventures -- including this one, his first -- were reprinted in Philo Gubb, Correspondence-School Detective in 1918, which was listed in Queen's Quorum as one of the most important volumes of mystery fiction.  Recently, Battered Silicon Dispatch Box has reprinted the entire series in a handsome volume.  Enjoy.

                                                    THE HARD-BOILED EGG

                                                         by Ellis Parker Butler

Walking close along the wall,  to avoid the creaking floorboards, Philo Gubb, paper-hanger and student of the Rising Sun Detective Agency's Correspondence School of Detecting, tiptoed to the door of the bedroom he shared with the mysterious Mr. Critz.  In appearance Mr. Gubb was tall and gaunt, reminding one of a modern Don Quixote or a human flamingo; by nature Mr. Gubb was the gentlest and most simple-minded of men.  Now, bending his long, angular body almost double, he placed his eye to the crack in the door panel and stared into the room.  Within, just out of the limited area of Mr. Gubb's vision, Roscoe Critz paused in his work and listened carefully.  He heard the sharp whistle of Mr. Gubb's breath as it cut against the sharp edge of the crack in the panel, and he knew he was being spied upon.  He placed his chubby hands on his knees and smiled at the door, while a red flush of triumph spread over his face.

     Through the crack in the door Mr. Grubb could see the top of the washstand beside which Mr. Critz was sitting, but he could not see Mr. Critz.  As he stared, however, he saw a plump hand appear and pick up, one by one, the articles lying on the washstand.  They were:  First, seven or eight half shells of English walnuts; second, a rubber shoe heel out of which a piece had been cut; third, a small rubber ball no larger than a pea; fourth, a paper-bound book; and lastly, a large and glittering brick of yellow gold.  As the hand withdrew the golden brick, Mr. Gubb pressed his face closer against the door in his effort to see more, and suddenly the door flew open and Mr. Gubb sprawled on his hands and knees on the worn carpet of the bedroom.

     "There, now," said Mr. Critz.  "There, now!  Serves you right.  Hope you hurt chuself!"

     Mr. Gubb arose slowly, like a giraffe, and brushed his knees.

     "Why/" he asked.

     "Snoopin' an' sneakin' like that!" said Mr. Critz crossly.  "Scarin' me to fits, a'most.  How'd I know who 'twas?  If you want to come in, why don't you come right in, 'stead of snoopin' an' sneakin' an' fallin' in that way?"

     As he talked, Mr. Critz replaced the shells and rubber heel and the rubber pea and the gold-brick on the washstand.  He was a plump little man with a shiny bald head and a white goatee.  As he talked, he bent his head down, so that he might look above the glasses of his spectacles; and in spite of his pretended anger he looked like nothing so much as a kindly, benevolent old gentleman -- the sort of old gentleman who keeps a small store in a small village and sells writing-paper that smells of soap, and candy sticks out of a glass jar with a glass cover.

     "How'd I know but you was a detective/" he asked, in a gentler tone.

     "I am," said Mr. Gubb soberly, seating himself on one of the two beds.  "I'm putty near a deteckative, as you might say."

     "Ding it all!" said Mr. Critz.  "Now I got to go and hunt down another room.  I can't room with no detective."

     "Well, now, Mr. Critz," said Mr. Gubb, "I don't want you should feel that way."

     "Knowin' you are a detective makes me all nervous," complained Mr. Critz; "and a man in my business has to have a steady hand, don't he?"

     "You ain't told me what your business is," said Mr. Gubb.

     "You needn't pretend you don't know," said Mr. Critz.  "Any detective that saw that stuff on the washstand would know."

     "Well, of course," said Mr. Gubb, "I ain't a full deteckative yet.  You can't look for me guess at things as quick as a full deteckative would.  Of course, that brick sort of looks like a gold-brick --"

     "It_is_ a_gold-brick," said Mr. Critz.

     "Yes," said Mr. Gubb.  "But -- I don't mean no offense, Mr. Critz -- from the way you look -- I sort of thought -- well, that it was a gold-brick that you bought."

      Mr. Critz turned very red.

     "Well, what if I did buy it?" he said.  "That ain't any reason I can't sell it, is it?  Just because a man buys eggs once -- or twice -- ain't any reason he shouldn't go into the busness of egg-selling, is it?  Just because I've bought one or two gold bricks in my day ain't any reason I shouldn't go to sellin' 'em, is it?"

     Mr. Gubb stared at Mr. Critz with unconcealed surprise.

     "You ain't, -- you ain't a con' man, are you, Mr. Critz?" he asked.

     "If I ain't one yet, that's no sign I ain't goin' to be," said Mr. Critz firmly.  "One man has good a right to try his hand at it as another, especially when a man has had my experience in it.  Mr. Gubb, there ain't hardly a con' game I ain't been conned with.  I've been confidenced long enough; from now on I'm goin' to confidence other folks.  That's what I'm goin' to do; and I won't be bothered by no detective livin' in the same room with me.  Detectives and con' men don't mix noways!  No, sir!"

     "Well sir," said Mr. Gubb, "I can see the sense of that.  But you don't need to move right away.  I don't aim to start in deteckting in earnest for a couple of months yet.  I got a couple of jobs paper-hanging and decorating to finish up, and I can't start in sleuthing until I get my star, anyway.  And I don't get my star until I get one more lesson, and learn it, and send in the examination paper, and five dollar extra for the diploma.  Then I'm going at it as a reg'lar business.  It's a good business.  Every day there's more crooks -- excuse me, I didn't mean to say that."

     "That's all right," said Mr. Critz kindly.  "Call a spade a spade.  If I ain't a crook yet, I hope to be soon."

     "I did n't know how you'd feel about it," explained Mr. Gubb.  "Tactfulness is strongly advised into the lessons of the Rising Sun Deteckative Agency Correspondence School of Deteckating --"

     "Slocum, Ohio?" asked Mr. Critz quickly.  "You did n't see the ad. in the 'Hearthstone and Fireside,' did you?"

     "Yes, Slocum, Ohio," said Mr. Gubb, "and that is the paper I saw the ad. into; 'Big Money in Deteckating.  Be a sleuth.  We can make you the equal of Serlock Holmes in twelve lessons.'  Why?"

     "Well, sir," said Mr. Critz, "that's funny.  That ad. was right atop of the one I saw, and I studied quite considerable before I could make up my mind whether 't would best for me to be a detective and go out and get square with the fellers that sold me gold-bricks and things by putting them in jail, or to even things up by sending for this book that was advertised right under he 'Rising Sun Correspondence School.'  How come I settled to do as I done was that I had a sort of stock to start with, with a furst-class gold-brick, and some green good I'd bought; and this book only cost a quatter of a dollar.  And she's a hummer for a quatter of a dollar!  A hummer!"

     He pulled the paper-covered book from his pocketand handed it to Mr. Gubb.  The title of the book was "The Complete Con' Man, by the King of the Grafters.  Price 25 cents."

     "That there book," said Mr. Critz proudly, as if he himself had written it, "tells everything a man need to know to work every con' game there is.  Once I get it by heart, I won't be afraid to try any of them.  Of course, I got to start in small.  I can't hope to pull off a wire-tapping game right at the start, because that has to have a gang.  You don't know anybody you can recommend for a gang, do you?"

     "Not right offhand," said Mr. Gubb thoughfully.

     "If you was n't going into the detective business," said Mr. Critz, "you'd be just the feller for me.  You  look sort of honest and not as if you was too bright, and that counts a lot.  Even in this here simple llittle shell game I got to have a podner.  I got to have a podner I can trust, so I can have him look like he was winnin' money off of me.  You see," he explained, moving to the washstand, "this shell game is easy enough when you know how.  I put three shells down like this, on a stand, and I put the little rubber pea on the stand, and then I take up the three shells like this, two in one hand and one in the other, and I wave 'em around over the pea, and maybe push the pea around a little, and I say, 'Come on!  Come on!  The hand is quicker than the eye!'  All of a suddent I put the shells down, and you think the pea is under one of them, like that --"

     "I don't think the pea is under one of 'em," said Mr. Gubb.  "I seen it roll onto the floor."

     "It did roll onto the floor that time," said Mr. Critz apologetically.  "It most generally does for me, yet.  I ain't got it down to perfection yet.  This is the way it ought to work -- oh, pshaw!  there she goes onto the floor again!  Went under the bed that time.  Here she is!  Now, the way she ought to work is -- there she goes again!"

     "You got practice that game a lot before you try it in folks in public, Mr. Critz," said Mr. Gubb seriously.

     "Don't I know that?" said Mr. Critz rather impatiently.  "Same as you've got to practice snoopin', Mr. Gubb.  Maybe you thought I did n't know you was snoopin' after me wherever I went last night."

     "Did you?" asked Mr. Gubb, with surprise written plainly on his face.

     "I seen you every moment from nine P.M. till eleven!" said Mr. Critz.  "I did n't like it, neither!"

     "I did n't think to annoy you," apologized Mr. Gubb.  "I was practicin' Lesson Four.  You was n't supposed to know I was there at all."

     "Well, I don't like it," said Mr. Critz.  "'T was all right last night, for I did n't have nothin' important on hand, but if I'd been workin' up a con' game, the feller I was after would have thought it mighty strange to see a man  follerin' me everywhere like that.  If you went about it quiet and unobtrusive, I would n't mind; but if I'd had a customer on hand and he'd seen you it would make him nervous.  He'd think there was a -- a crazy man follerin' us."

     "I was just practicin'," apologized Mr. Gubb.  "It won't be so bad when I get the hang of it.  We all got to be beginners sometime."

     "I guess so," said Mr. Critz, rearranging the shells and the little rubber pea.  "Well, I put the pea down like this, and I dare you to bet which shell she's goin' to be under, and you don't bet, see?  So I put the shells down, and you're willin' to bet you see me put the first shell over the pea like this.  So you keep you eye on the shell, and I move the shells around like this --"

     "She's under the same shell," said Mr. Gubb.

     "Well, yes, she is," said Mr. Critz placidly, "but she had n't ought to be.  By rights she ought to ooze out from under whilst I'm movin' the shells around, and I'd ought to sort of catch her in between my fingers and hold her there so you don't see her.  Then when you say which shell she's under, she ain't under any shell; she's betwwen my fingers.  So when you put down your money I tell you to pick up that shell and there ain't anything under it.  And before you can pick up the other shells I pick one up, and let the pea fall on the stand like it had been under that shell all the time.  That's the game, only up to now I ain't got the hang of it.  She won't ooze out from under, and she won't stick between my fingers, and when she does stick, she won't drop at the right time."

     "Except for that, you've got her all right, have you?" asked Mr. Gubb.

     "Except for that," said Mr. Critz; "and I'd have that, only my fingers are stubby."
     "What was it you thought of having me do if I was n't a deteckative?' asked Mr. Gubb.

     "The work you'd have to do would be capping work," said Mr. Critz.  "Capper -- that's the posessional name for it.  You'd guess which shell the ball was under --"

     "That would easy, the way you do it now," said Mr. Gubb.

     "I told you I'd got to learn it better, did n't I?" asked Mr. Critz impatiently.  'You'd be capper, and you'd guess which shell the pea was under.  No matter which you guessed, I'd leave it under that one, so'd you'd win, and you'd win ten dollars every time you bet -- but not for keeps.  That's why  I've got to have an honest capper."

     "I can see that," said Mr. Gubb; "but what's the use of lettin' me win it if I've got to bring it back?"

     "That starts the boobs bettin'," said Mr. Critz.  "The boobs see how you look to be winnin', and they want to win too.  But they don't.  When they bet, I win."

     "That ain't a square game," said Mr. Gubb seriously, "is it?"

     "A crook ain't expected to be square," said Mr. Critz.  "It stands to reason, if a crook wants to be a crook, he's got to be a crook, ain't he?"

     "Yes, of course," said Mr. Gubb.  "I had n't looked at it that way."

     "As far as I can see," said Mr. Critz, "the more I know how a detective acts, the better off I'll be when I start in doin' real business.  Ain't that so?  I guess, till I get the hang of things better, I'll stay right here."

     "I'm glad to hear you say so, Mr. Critz," said Mr. Gubb with relief.  "I like you, and I like your looks, and there's no tellin' who I might get for a roommate next time.  I might get someone that was n't honest."

     So it was agreed, and Mr. Critz stood over the washstand and manipulated the little rubber pea and the three shells, while Mr. Gubb sat on the edge of the bed and studied Lesson Eleven of the "Rising Sun Detective Agency's Correspondence School of Detecting."

     When, presently, Mr. Critz learned to work the little pea neatly, he urged Mr. Gubb to take the part of capper, and each time Mr. Gubb won he gave him a five-dollar bill.  Then Mr. Gubb posed as a "boob" and Mr. Critz won all the money back again, beaming over his spectavle rims, and chuckling again and again until he burst into a fit of coughing that made him red in the face, and did not cease until he had taken a big drink of water out of the wash-pitcher.  Never had he seemed more like a kindly old gentleman from behind the candy counter of a small village.  He hung over the washstand, manipulating the little rubber pea as if fascinated.

     "Ain't it curyus how a feller catches onto a thing like that all at once?" he said after a while.  'If it had n't been that I was so anxious, I might have fooled with that for weeks and weeks and not got anywheres with it.  I  do wisht you could be my capper for a little while anyway, until I could get one."

     "I need all my time to study," said Mr. Gubb.  "It ain't easy to learn deteckating by mail."

     "Pshaw, now!" said Mr. Critz.  'I'm really sorry!  Maybe if I was to pay you for your time and trouble five dollars a night?  How say?"

     Mr. Gubb considered.  "Well, I dunno!" he said slowly.  "I sort of hate to take money for doin' a favor like that."

     "Now, there ain't no need to feel that way," siad Mr. Critz.  "Your time's wurth somthin' to me -- it's wurth a lot to me to get the hang of this gold-brick game.  Once I get the hang of it, it won't be no trouble for me to sell gold-bricks like this one for all the way from a thousand dollars on up.  I paid fifteen hundred for this one myself, and got it cheap.  That's a good profit, for this brick ain't wurth a cent over one hundred dollars, and I know, for I took it to the bank after I bought it, and that was what they was willin' to pay me for it.  So it's easy wurth a few dollars for me to have help whilst I'm learnin'.  I can easy afford to pay you a few dollars, and to pay a friend of yours the same."

     "Well, now," said Mr. Gubb, 'I don't know but what I might as well make a llittle that way as any other,  I got a friend --" He stopped short.  "You don't aim to sell the gold-brick to him, do you/"

     Mr. Critz's eyes opened wide behind their spectacles.

     "Land's sake, no!" he said.

     "Well, I got a friend may be willing to help out," said Mr. Gubb.  "What'd he have to do?"

     "You or him," said Mr. Critz, "would be the 'come-on' and pretend to buy the brick.  And you or him would help me to sell it.  Maybe you better have the brick, because you can look stupid, and the feller that's got the brick has good to look that."

     "I can look anyway a'most," said Mr. Gubb with pride.

     "Do tell!" said Mr. Critz, and so it was arranged that the first rehearsal of the gold-brick game should take place the next evening, but as Mr. Gubb turned away Mr. Critz deftly slipped something something into the student detective's coat pocket.

     It was toward noon the next day that Mr. Critz, peering over his spectacles and avoiding as best he could the pails of paste, entered the parlor of the vacant house where Mr. Gubb was at work.

     "I just come around," said Mr. Critz, rather relunctantly, "to say you better not say nothing to your friend.  I guess that deal's off."

     "Pshaw, now!" said Mr. Gubb.  "You don't mean so!"

     "I don't mean nothing in the way of aspersions, you mind," said Mr. Critz with relunctance, "but I guess we better call it off.  Of course, so far as I know, you are all right --"

     "I don't know what you're gettin' at," said Mr. Gubb.  "Why don't you say it?"

     "Well, I've been buncoed so often," said Mr. Critz.  "Seem's like any one can money from me any time and any way, and I got to thinkin' it over.  I don't know anything about you, do I?  And here I am, going to give you a gold-brick that cost me fifteen hundred dollars, and let you go out and wait until I come for it with your friend, and -- well, what's to stop you from just goin' away with that brick and never comion' back?"

     Mr. Gubb looked at Mr. Critz blankly.

     "I've went and told my friend," he said.  "He's all ready to start in."

     "I hate it, I have to say it," said Mr. Critz, "but when I come to count over them bills I lent you to cap the shell-game with, there was a five-dollar one short."

     "I know," said Gubb, turning red.  "And if you go over there to my coat, youi'll find it in my pocket all ready to hand back to you.  I don't know how I come to keep it in my pocket.  Must ha' missed it when handed you back the rest."

     "Well, I had a notion it was that way," said Mr. Critz kindly.  'You look like you was honest, Mr. Gubb.  But a thousand dollar gold-brick, that any bank will pay a hundred dollars for -- I got to get out of this way of trustin' everybody --"

     Mr. Critz was evidently distressed.

     "If 't was anybody else but you," he said with an effort, ""I'd make him put up a hundred dollars to cover the cost of a brick of a brick like that whilst he had it.  There!  I've said it, and I guess you're mad!"

      "I ain't mad!" protested Mr. Gubb, "'long as you're goin' to pay me and Pete, and it's business; I ain't so set against puttin' up what the brick is worth."

     Mr. Critz heaved a deep sigh of relief.

     "You don't know how good that makes me feel,"  he said.  "I was almost losin' what faith in mankind I had left."

     Mr. Gubb ate his frugal evening meals at the Pie Wagon, on Willow Street, just off Main, Pie-Wagon Pete dispensed light viands; and Pie-Wagon Pete was the friend he had invited to share Mr. Critz's generosity.  The seal of secrecy had been put on Pie-Wagon Pete's lips Before Mr. Gubb offeered him the opportunity to accept or decline; and Mr. Gubb stopped for his evening meal, Pie-Wagon Pete -- now off duty -- was waiting for him.  The story of Mr. Critz and his amateur con' business had amused Pie-Wagon Pete.  He could hardly believe such utter innocence existed, for he had come from the city, and he had shady companions before he landed in Riverbank.  He was a sharp-eyed, red-headed fellow, with a hard fist, and a scar across his face, and when Mr. Gubb had told him of Mr. Critz and his affairs, he had seen an opportunity to shear a country lamb.

     "How goes it for to-night, Philo?" he asked Mr. Gubb, taking the stool next to Mr. Gubb, while the night man drew a cup of coffee.

     "Quite well," said Mr. Gubb.  "Everything is arranged satisfactory.  I'm to be on the old house-boat by the wharf-house on the levee at nine, with it."  He glanced at the night man's backand lowered his voice.  "And Mr. Critz will bring you there."

     "Nine, eh?" said Pie-Wagon.  "I meet him at your room, do I?"

     "You meet him at the Riverbank hotel at eight-forty-five," said Mr. Gubb.  "Like it was the real thing.  I'm going over to my room now and give him the money --"

     "What money?" asked Pie-Wagon Pete quickly.

     "Well, you see," said Mr. Gubb, "he hated to trust the -- trust it out of his hands without a deposit.  It's the only one he has.  So I thought I'd put up a hundred dollars.  He's all right --"

     "Oh, sure," said Pie-Wagon.  "A hundred dollars, eh?"

    He looked at Mr. Gubb, who was eating a piece of apple pie hand-to-mouth fashion, and studied him in a new light.

     "One hundred dollars, eh?" he repeated thoughtfully.  "You give him a hundred dollar deposit now and he meets you at nine, and me at eight-forty-five, and the train leaves for Chicago at eight-forty-three, half-way between the house-boat and the hotel!  Say, Gubby, what does this old guy look like?"

     Mr. Gubb, albeit with a tongue unused to desription, deliniated Mr. Critz the best he could, and as he proceeded, Pie-Wagon Pete became interested.

     "Pinkish, and bald?  Top of his head like a hard-boiled egg?  He ain't got a scar across his face?  The dickens he has!  Short and plump, and a reg'lar old nice grandpa?  blue eyes?  Say, did he have a coughin' spell and choke red in the face?  Well, sir, for a brand new detective, you've done well.  Listen, Jim:  Gubby's got the Hard-Boiled Egg!"

     The night man almost dropped his cup of coffee.

     "Go 'way!" he said.  "Old Hard-Boiled?  Himself?"

     "That's right!  And caught him with the goods.  Say, listen, Gubby!"

     For five minutes Pie-Wagon pete talked, while Mr. Gubb sat with his mouth wide-open.

     "See? said Pie-Wagon at last.  "And don't you mention me at all.  Don't mention no one.  Just say to the Chief:  'And havin' trailed him this far, Mr. Wittaker, and arranged to have him took with the goods, it's up to you.'  See?  And as soon as you say that, have him send a couple of bulls with you, and if they can do it, they'll nab Old Hard-Boiled just as soon as he takes your cash.  And Old Sleuth and Sherlock Holmes won't be in it with you when tomorrow mornin's papers come out.  Get it?"

     Mr. Gubb got it.  When he entered his bedroom, Mr. Critz was waiting for him.  It was slightly after eight o'clock; perhaps eight-fifteen.  Mr. Critz had what appeared to be the gold-brick neatly wrapped in newspaper, and he looked up with his kindly blue eyes.  He had been reading the "Complete Con' Man," and had pushed his spectacles up on his forehead as Mr. Gubb entered.

     "I done that brick up for you," he said, indicating it with his hand, "so it would n't glitter whilst you was goin' through the street.  If word got passed around there was a gold-brick in town, folks might get sort of suspicious-like.  Nice night for goin' out, isn't it?  Got a letter from my wife this aft'rnoon," he chuckled.  "she says she hopes I'm doin' well.  Sally'd have a fit if she knew what business I was goin' into.  Well, time's gettin' along --"

     "I brung the money," said Mr. Gubb, drawing it from his pocket.

     "Don't hardly seem necess'ry, does it?" said Mr. Critz mildly.  'But I s'pose it's just as well.  Thankee, Mr. Gubb.  I'll just pile into my coat --"

     Mr. Gubb had picked up the gold-brick, and now he let it fall.  Once more the door flew open, but thhis time it opened for three stalwart policemen, whose revolvers pointed unwaveringly at Mr. Critz.  The plump man gave one glance, and put up his hands.

     "All right, boys, you've got me," he said in quite another voice, and allowed them to seize his arms.  He paid no attention to the police, but at Mr. Gubb, who was tearing the wrapper from what proved to be a common vitrified paving-brick, he looked long and hard.

     "Say," said Mr. Critz to Mr. Gubb, "I'm the goat.  You stung me all right.  You worked me to a finish.  I thought I knew all of you from Burns down, but you're a new one to me.  Who are you, anyway?"

     Mr. Gubb looked up.

     "Me?" he said with pride.  "Why -- why -- I'm Gubb, the foremost deteckative of Riverbank, Iowa."