Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, September 30, 2011


The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (1910)

Here's a book that certainly is not forgotten, thanks to the long-running musical, but is one that is seldom read.  This seems to have been the fate of The Phantom of the Opera since it was first published.  The book was not a success; various well-known film and theater adaptations notwithstanding.  Yet the book still endured, like its title character, rising from the shadows, appearing now and again.  Now recognized as a classic, it is readily available to today's reader who wishes a gothic journey to Paris of the 1870s.

And what a Paris!  The Paris Opera House, once a prison, rising seventeen stories in the city, with a series of cellars seldom used or explored and with tunnels leading to a large underground lake where, on the opposite side of the lake, lay the magnificent lair of Erik, the deformed opera ghost.  Erik is a genius, skilled in architecture and music and death.  So hideous at birth that his mother hid his face, Erik grew up unwanted and unloved.  He became a sideshow attraction, soon known for his cleverness as he was for his deformity.  He was recruited by the Shah of Persia where he displayed his skills as an engineer and an assassin.  Condemned to death, he escaped with the aid of the mysterious "Persian",  the police chief to the Shah.  Erik soon made his way to Paris where he was employed to restore the old Opera House; on his own he added passages and trapdoors and hollow columns.  Erik took up residence beneath the Opera House, divorcing himself from most of humanity, and soon becoming the legendary Opera Ghost.

Erik had a deep appreciation for music.  He blackmailed the managers of the Opera House in setting aside a box for him for each evenings performance; he also received two thousand francs a month from the managers.  It was from that box that Erik, hidden in the shadows, fell in love with Christine, a minor member of the opera company.  Not only was Christine beautiful, but she had a magnificent voice that needed only additional training and confidence.  Ah, Christine...her soul was pure but her gullibility was that of a child.  She truly believed her dying father when he said he would send "The Angel of Music" to watch over her.  Erik became her Angel of Music, secretly training her while hidden in the shadows and passageways.  Then came the day when when Carlotta, the opera's prima donna, was ill and Christine was selected to take her role.  Her success that night stunned all of Paris.

Christine, naturally, did not love Erik, but she felt beholden to the Angel of Music whom she thought was sent to her by her dead father.  Christine's heart belonged to Raoul, Viscount de Chagny, who had been a close friend when she was a child.  Raoul also loved Christine, but was opposed by his older brother the Count because Christine was below his station.  Thus was set up an impossible triangle.  When Erik abducts Christine to force her to marry him, Raoul must face death to recue her.

The novel reads surprisingly well.  As you can tell, I was irritated by the character of Christine, who came across as a pure-dee idiot, certainly something that was not the author's intention and was typical of the time.  Erik was alternately (and effectively) displayed as a sympathetic character and as a cold-blooded murderer.  Raoul is noble and torn.  The other major character is the Opera House itself, large, imposing, mysterious.  There are chilling moments and (something I didn't expect) humorous ones.

The Phantom of the Opera moves slowly at times and the pages skip at other times.  A leisurely gothic novel may not be everyone's taste, but this one appealed to me.

Thursday, September 29, 2011



"Honey, are you going to do a forgotten music post this month?"

     "Um, yeah.  Why?"

     "I want you to do it on Ragtime Cowboy Joe."


     "Ragtime Cowboy Joe."

     "Is that really considered forgotten music?"

     "Well, I don't think everyone has heard it.  Besides, my father used to sing it to me."

     "He sang a lot of songs to you.  He considered himself the poor man's Phil Harris."

     "I like this one.  My father sang it to me and I think you should write about it."

     "Well it's an old song, anyway.  Any idea how old it is?"

     "Well it's pretty old...I'm not too sure how old."

     "How about 99 years?"


     "Yep.  It was written in 1912.  A guy named Grant Clark did the lyrics and Lewis F. Muir and Maurice Abrahams did the music."

     "Those names sound familiar.  Should I know them?"

     "They also wrote Second Hand Rose."

     "Then I should know them."

      "Maybe we should wait until next year to write about the song.  Then it would a hundred years old.  You know, a centennial tribute or somethi--"

     "No. Do it now.  My father used to sing it to me."

     "Okay.  Let's see...Bob Roberts recorded it in 1912."

     "Are there any better recordings?

     "Sure.  It's been recorded by Jo Stafford."

     "And by Slim Whitman."

     "And some guy called Sourdough Slim"

     "Even the Muppets got into the act."



     "And it's been on the player piano..."

     "And on a twelve string and banjo..."

      "And it's even been done by Mitch Miller and the Sing-Along Gang."

     "That just has to be cheesy!"

     "It is."

     "Of course, there's always one of the most popular versions."

     "Sons of the Pioneers?"


      "My father never recorded the song."

      "No, he never recorded anything."

      "Then who?"

      I gave an evil grin.

      "No!  You wouldn't!"

     My evil grin got wider.



Tuesday, September 27, 2011


The golem is a creature made from clay and brought to life to protect the Jews of Prague.  The golem is related to the monster from Frankenstein and the robots from R.U.R.

Here's the 1920 version from German expressionist Paul Wegener:

This was the third (and last) Golem film that Wegener made.  Here are some fragments from Wegener's "lost" 1915 film The Golem:


For more Overlooked Film and/or A/V, go to Todd Mason's blog Sweet Freedom.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Wangari Maatha, Kenyan enviromentalist and activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, has died at age 71 from ovarian cancer.  One of the most widely respected women in Africa, Maatha spoke to power courageously, making her a positive example for African women, for women in general, and for the entire world -- regardless of gender.

She was a kick-ass woman and the world is lessened by her passing.


So there I was, checking out this week's TV listings, and Wednesday morning TCM is showing The Heroes of Telemark.  What I read, however, was The Herpes of Telemark.  I'm blaming my aging eyes rather than anything Freudian.  Nope.  No Freudian.  No way. Nope.

     What are some of the weird things you have misread?


Thank heaven there's not as much this week than last week.

  • Piers Anthony and Robert E. Margroff, Dragon's Gold.  Fantasy.
  • Wyatt Blassingame, The U. S. Frogmen of World War II.  YA non-fiction from a prolific pulp writer.  #106 in the U.S. Landmark series from Random House.
  • Lawrence Bloch, editor, Opening Shots.  Anthology of 19 "first" stories (the jacket copy mistakenly said 20 stories) from crime and mystery writers.
  • Ben Bova, The Precipice.  SF.
  • Martin Caidin, Aquarius Mission.  Science fiction techno-thriller.
  • Harry Carmichael, Naked to the Grave.  A Piper and Quinn mystery from a prolific British author little known here.
  • Caleb Carr, The Italian Secretary:  A Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes.  'Nuf said.
  • "E. V. Cunningham" (Howard Fast), The Case of the Kidnapped Angel.  A Masao Masuto mystery.
  • Cliff Farrell, Comanch'.  Western.
  • Esther Friesner, Temping Fate.  Fantasy.
  • Zane Grey, George Washington, Frontiersman.  Historical novel first published 55 years after the author's death.
  • William W. Johnstone, D-Day in the Ashes and Wind in the Ashes.  Post-apocalyptic thrillers.
  • William W. Johnstone, with J. A. Johnstone, Six Ways from Sunday.  Western.
  • Emma Lathan, Green Grow the Dollars.  A John Putnam Thatcher mystery.
  • Nancy Martin, Our Lady of Immaculate Deception.  The first Roxy Abruzzo mystery.
  • Patricia Moyes, A Six-Letter Word for Death.  A Henry Tibbett mystery.
  • Warren Murphy, Scorpion's Dance.  Thriller.
  • Otto Penzler, 101 Greatest Movies of Mystery and Suspense.  Nonfiction.
  • Felice Picano, Smart as the Devil.  Horror.
  • Jerry Pournelle, creator, with editorial assistance from John F. Carr, War World, Vol. III:  Sauron Dominion.  Shared world anthology of eight stories.
  • William Rabkin, Psych:  A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read.  TV tie-in.
  • Quentin Reynolds, The F.B.I.  YA nonfiction; #56 in the U. S. Landmark series from Random house.
  • Fred Saberhagen and Roger Zelazny, Coils.  SF.
  • Donald J. Sobol, Two-Minute Mystery Collection.  Omnibus of three books (Two-Minute Mysteries, More Two-Minute Mysteries, and Still More Two-Minute Mysteries) from the author of the Encyclopedia Brown stories.
  • Charles Stross, Halting State.  SF.
  • Ian Watson, The Martian Inca.  SF.
     Kitty picked up a pile of thrillers, mostly by Lisa "She Can Do No Wrong" Gardner, and a book on M. C. Esher -- none of which have I listed today.

     Also, Dawn added a couple of books to the pile in exchange for some chili and two of Kitty's peppermint brownies:

  • Bret Halliday, Never Kill a Client.  A 1962 Mike Shayne mystery, so it's actually written by Halliday.
  • Carly Phillips, The Bachelor.  I suspect this one's chick lit because the cover is embossed with lipstick kisses and the cover copy asks, "Will this bad boy make it to the altar?"

Friday, September 23, 2011


A West Galway coroner has ruled that a 76-year-old pensioner has died of spontaneous human combustion.

     The burnt body of Michael Faherty was discovered in his sitting room with his head facing a lit fireplace.  Authorities said that the fireplace had not bearing on Mr. Faherty's immolation.  The only damage that was found was to the body itself and to the ceiling directly above and the floor directly below the body.  No trace of an accelerant was found.

     The scenario seems typical for those rare cases when human spontaneous combustion has been reported.  Mike Green, a retired professor of pathology said that this was not a case of divine intervention.  "I think if the heavens were striking in cases of spontaneous combustion then there would be a lot more cases.  I go for the practical, more mundane explanation."  Green said that in such cases there had to be a causitive factor, such as a spark or a match.  What the cause it is destroyed in the fire, he said.

     My wife thinks that Mr. Faherty had a lot of body fat on him and perhaps a lot of alcohol in him.

     Me?  I'm leaning toward leprechauns.


The Even Hand by Quincy Germaine (1912)

Not only is this a forgotten book, it's a darned near unknown book.  Also, it's a book I have never read or even seen, a state I hope to change in the future.

     According to a review in The Christian Advocate, the novel is "a thinly disguised story of the Lawrence strike in the cotton mills."  The Lawrence, Massachusetts, strike was one of the early chapters in the labor movement in America.  Known as the "Blood and Roses" strike, it marked the first death in the labor movement and is still celebrated with that city's annual Blood and Roses Day.  The Even Hand takes a sympathetic view of the laborers, but walks a fine line between the two sides and emphasizes the importance of fairness for both sides.

     From a review in The Bookseller:  "A story of retributive justice...remarkably successful and full of promise."  And from English Mechanics and the World of Science:  "...Certainly a book which deserves wide reading, for its interest as a story, its study of an important problem, and its promise for future work."  There was no future work, at least in novel form, from the author.

      Which brings us to some confusion about the author.  Who was "Quincy Germaine"?  One online seller stated that he was fairly certain the author was Francis Yenwood, of whom I know nothing except that he illustrated the book rather than wrote it.  Another online source indicates Luther H. Cary, which seems a bit more reasonable because the book was copyrighted in his name.  Cary also copyrighted a number of books published under other names, including every book I have been able to find from the publisher of The Even Hand, The Pilgrim Press of Norwood, Massachusetts.  I believe the most probable reason is that Cary was the publisher and hasd purchased all rights to the books he published.  I say this only because I know he was not the author.  The person behind the "Quincy Germaine" name was a woman named Caroline Wright.

     Caroline Wright was an eccentric (at least during the later part of her life) lady.  She also lived next door to my great-grandmoother and was a friend of my family in the small village where I was raised.  My memories of Caroline are hazy, although she did not die until I was in high school, or perhaps out of high school.  She was always in the background in the adult world and, as such, I never paid much attention.  I remember when I was young, she and my great-grandmother would spend Christmases with us and (perhaps) Thanksgivings also.

     Caroline lived in an old house near the edge of town, with only a field separating her home from the town of Carlisle.  (My grandfather's name for her was "The Carlisle Morning Glory"; evidently she was always good for passing on some gossip.)  The house was always badly in need of paint.  She lived alone and frustrated the local police with her "emergency" signal, which was an American flag pinned upsidedown in  her front window.  The emergency was usually a squirrel that had got into her house, but the police had to stop every time a passing cruiser saw the upsidedown flag because they could not tell if there would be a real emergency.  (There never was.)  A local farmer used the field next to her house and would often water the crops at night with a sprinkling system.  Caroline would go out some nights when the sprinkler was running to shower.

     I have no idea of her age, but I suspect she was born in the 1880s, or perhaps the early 1890s -- which would have made her at least twenty years younger than my great-grandmother.  My mother once mentioned that Caroline had a boy staying with her one summer, whether alone or with his family I have no idea.  My mother and he would play all that summer on Caroline's lawn.  My mother said the boy grew up to be a well-known playwright -- and, naturally, I've forgotten his name .  Caroline drove an old gray car, probably 1930s vintage (again, my spotty memory does little for details), in excellent condition.  Toward the end of her life (and, believe me, she was spry well into her old age) she told me that she had given the car in trust to a friend with instructions to keep it well hidden and not to tell her where.  She was tired of having strangers come up to her and offer to buy the car; "That'll teach them," she said.  I really had a hard time following that logic.

     One Christmas -- I must have been ten or so -- her present to me was an old key.  The first of my future collection, she said, because keys make a fascinating hobby.  My young self accepted the gift with grace, although my mind was spinning with whatever Fifties version of WTF I could muster.  My older sister did not get off so easy.  One day Caroline spent hours teaching her to walk in high heels, up and down the hallway over and over and over again.  When my sister was thirteen, Caroline wisked her off the Boston:  "She's a young lady now.  She needs to learn how to eat lobster properly."

     Caroline was college-educated, I'm pretty sure.  She worked in some capacity in a mental hospital, because my father used to say that maybe it was contagious in Caroline's case.  In the early 1910s however, Caroline had literary ambitions.  She published short stories and poems, as well as the book in question, under the cloak "Quincy Germaine".  (I suspect -- and I've been doing a lot of suspecting in this post -- that the Quincy part of the pseudonym came from my Great-Uncle Quincy who lived next door to her.)  I've been able to locate several of her stories in (strangely enough) The Boston Cooking-School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics, a magazine that had several name changes during that time.  And, yes, this is the Boston Cooking-School of Fanny Farmer fame.  Some day, I'll get up the courage to read these stories and perhaps repost them.

     But The Even Hand is the Quincy Germaine I want to read.  The labor movement in the early part of the century is a fascinating topic, one that had much of its start near my childhood home.  It will also be interesting to see how accurately the reviews of the book were.


     For more forgotten books, from people who have actually read them this time, go to Pattinase where Patti Abbott has the links and some reviews


Tuesday, September 20, 2011


When I was first dating Kitty, she had this huge monster of a German Shepherd named Yancy.  Yancy loved Kitty and disliked men, especially men who came a-courtin' and a-sparkin'.  The dog was named in honor of Yancy Derringer, the Jock Mahoney character from the 1958 television series.

Mahoney was a former marine pilot who settled in Los Angeles and became a horse breeder and Hollywood stuntman.  He was Charles Starrett's stunt double in a number of Durango Kid movies and was known for performing especially dangerous stunts.  He soon moved into acting with bit parts in numerous Three Stooges comedies where ability to take a pratfall came in handy.  In 1951 Mahoney was tapped to star in a one-season, Gene Autry-produced television series, Range Rider.  Here, he (obviously) rode the range, fighting the bad guys and bringing law and order to the Old West, along with his young companion Dick West (Dick Jones).  In 1958 he was the title character in television's Yancy Derringer.

Derringer was a gentleman gambler/adventurer in Reconstruction New Orleans.  Although vain and a bit of a dandy, Derringer was good in a fight.  He had been a confederate officer and was now a special (which means secret) agent for the city.  His constant companion was the imposing Pahoo-Ka-Te-Wah (X Brand, a German actor who often played Indians), a Pawnee Indian fast with a shotgun and a knife.  Pahoo-Ka-Te-Wah never spoke in the series.  Derringer's love interest, Madame Francine, owner of a gambling house, was played by Frances Bergen (wife of Edgar and mother of Candice).

In the episode linked below, A Bullet for Bridget, Madame Francine's Irish cousin decides that she is going to marry Derringer.  Bridget is played by Margeret Field, Mahoney's real-life wife.  It first aired on CBS on November 6, 1958.

After Yancy Derringer, Mahoney went on to play Tarzan in two movies. (He had auditioned to replace Johnny Weismuller in the role in 1948 but lost to Lex Barker.)  His other claim to fame was as the step-father of actress Sally Field.  I had heard that the title character in Hooper, a Burt Reynolds movie about a stuntman, had been based in part on Mahoney (Reynolds was dating Sally Field at the time and she co-starred in the film), but conventional wisdom has it that the character was based on Reynolds' friend Hal Needham.

Yancy Derringer was an enjoyable series for the kid in me.  Yancy was cool (he had a derringer hidden in his hat) but Pahoo-Ka-Te-Wah was even cooler.  You just didn't mess with the Pahoo.   But then again, you just didn't mess with Yancy, Kitty's monster dog.

P.S.  Yancy Derringer was based on a story by Richard Sale, pulpmaster extraordinaire.  The lead character was Derringer, no first name.  Sale added the Yancy for the show, for which he and his wife helped produce.


Todd Mason is rounding the obsolete wagons over at Sweet Freedom.  Mosey on over there for links to other great, albeit, obsolete, film and/or A/V.

Monday, September 19, 2011


The day before my local Borders closed, I managed to snag a few bargains.

  • Paolo Bagigalupi, Pump Six and Other Stories.  SF collection of ten stories. Yeah, the back cover blurb says eleven stories, but there's only ten, trust me.
  • Andrea Camilleri [Stephen Sartarelli, translator], August Heat, The Shape of Water, and The Wings of the Sphinx.  I really enjoy the Inspector Montalbano series MHz-TV and am hoping the novels will be just as good.
  • Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others.  SF collection of seven stories.
  • Nancy A. Collins, Right Hand Magic.  Fantasy novel, the first in the Golgotham series.
  • Joshua Gaylord, Hummingbirds.  Novel.
  • Charlie Huston, Half the Blood of Brooklyn.  PI/vampire novel featuring Joe Pitt.
  • "Dion Fortune" (Violet Firth), The Demon Lover.  1926 occult novel, the first from the founder of The Societt of the Inner Light.
  • J. A. Konrath, Shaken.  A "Jack" Daniels mystery.  I am an admitted addict.
  • K. W. Jeter, Morlock Night.  Steampunk.  What happened when H. G. Wells' Time Machine returned.
  • Justine Karbalestier, Magic and Madness.  YA fantasy, a debut novel and the first of a trilogy.  The first of two early-in-the-week thrift store finds.
  • Stini Leicht, Of Blood and Honey.  Fantasy, a book of The Fey and The Fallen.
  • Dick Lupoff & Steve Stiles, The Adventures of Professor Thintwhistle & His Incredible Aether Flyer.  Graphic novel.  This one is based on the Lupoff novel Into the Aether (1974), which in turn was based on an earlier version of the graphic novel, one which died a-borning some forty-five years ago.
  • Stuart Neville, The Ghost of Belfasts (a.k.a. The Twelve).  Celtic noir with fantasy elements.
  • Otto Penzler, editor, The Lineup:  The World's Createst Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives.  Nonfiction.
  • Don Russell, editor for the Western Writers of America, Trails of the Iron Horse.  A 1975 collection of 15 articles from Tom Curry, Todhunter Ballard, Steve Frazee, William R. Cox, Elmer Kelton, and others providing an informal history of the railroad's westward expansion.  My other early thrift store find.
  • Hank Schwaeble, Diabolical.  Horror novel featuring Jake Hatcher, a follow-up to the author's first Stoker Award novel.
  • Duane Swierczynski, Expiration Date.  Time travel crime thriller.
  • Mark L. Van Name, editor, The Wild Side.  Urban fantasy anthology with ten stories.
  • Ann & Jeff Vandermeer, editors, The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities.  Comp-endium with story contributions from 30 writers and catalog contributions from another 36 writers.
  • Gene Wolfe, The Best of Gene Wolfe:  A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction.  One could argue every story by Wolfe is among his finest short fiction.  There's 31 stories here.
     My bride was also happy to snag a copy of J. R. Ward's latest, Envy.

     So I tried be good this week.  Then on Saturday Kitty suggested we stop by another thrift store.  Um, paperbacks were a quarter.  Um, I went overboard.  Then I heard Kitty say (in her best Sheriff Brody voice), "You're going to need a bigger shed."  Damn.

  • Clifton Adams, Doomsday Creek and Tragg's Choice.  Westerns.
  • Robert Adams, Bili the Axe, A Cat of Silvery Hue, Champion of the Last Battle, The coming of the Horseclans, The Death of a Legend, Horseclans Odyssey, Horses of the North, Madman's Army, The Patrimony, Revenge of the Horseclans, The Savage Mountains, Swords of the Horseclans,Trumpets of War, The Witch Goddess, and A Woman of the Horseclans; all are volumes in Adams' Horseclan SF series.  Also, Stairway to Forever, Book II:  Monsters and Magicians.
  • Jerry and S. A. Ahern, The Takers:  Rivers of Gold.  Adventure; number 2 in the series.
  • Poul Anderson, Star Ways, with Kenneth Bulmer, City Under the Sea.  Ace SF double.
  • Burt Arthur, Boss of the Far West and The Killer.  Westerns.
  • Burt and Budd Arthur, Requiem for a Gun.  Western.
  • Robert Asprin and Linda Evans, Time Scout.  SF.
  • Brian N. Ball, The Regiments of the Night.  SF.
  • Max Brand, The Gentle Desperado (fix-up of three short stories) and Montana Rides.  Westerns.
  • Matt Braun, Kinch.  Western.
  • John Brunner, Endless Shadow, with Gardner F. Fox, The Arsenal of Miracles.  Ace SF Double.
  • Kenneth Bulmer, The Wizards of Senchuria, with Brian M. Stableford, Cradle of the Sun.  Ace SF double.
  • Martin Caidin, Killer Station and Star Bright, both SF, The Last Dogfight, war, and Three Corners to Nowhere, an adventure set in The Burmuda Triangle. 
  • "Al Conroy" (Marvin Albert), Clayburn.  Western.
  • Will Cook, Comanche Captives (Two Rode Together).  Western.
  • Barry Cord, Gun Junction.  Western.
  • William R. Cox, The Gunsharp.  Western.
  • Ray Cummings, Beyond the Stars.  SF.
  • Tom Cutter, Tracker #1:  The Winning Hand.  Western.
  • David Drake, Fortress, Northworld, and Servent of the Dragon.  The first two are military SF and the third is a book in Drake's Lord of the Isles sequence.
  • Bill Dugan, Gun Play at Cross Creek.  Western.
  • "Tabor Evans" [house name], Longarm #1, #4 Longarm and the Wendigo, #5 Longarm in the Indian Nation, #6 Longarm and the Loggers, #8 Longarm and the Nesters, #9 Longarm and the Hatchet Men, #10 Longarm and the Molly Maguires, #12 Longarm in Lincoln County, #17 Longarm and the Bandit Queen, #20 Longarm at Robber's Roost, #21 Longarm and the Sheepherders, #26 Longarm and the Dragon Hunters, #29 Longarm on the Big Muddy, #30 Longarm South of the Gila, #36 Longarm on the Santa Fe, #42 Longarm and the Moonshiners, #44 Longarm in Boulder Canyon, #46 Longarm and the Great Train Robbery, #47 Longarm in the Badlands, #48 Longarm in the Big Thicket, #50 Longarm in the Big Bend, #52 Longarm on the Great Divide, #53 Longarm and the Buckskin Rogue, #55 Longarm and the French Actress, #56 Longarm and the Outlaw Lawman, #57 Longarm and the Bounty Hunters, #59 Longarm and the Big Outfit, #64 Longarm and the Cattle Baron, #65 Longarm and the Steer Swindlers, #70 Longarm on the Ogallala Trail, #72 Longarm and the Blind Man's Vengeance, #75 Longarm West of the Pecos, #76 Longarm on the Nevada Line, #77 Longarm and the Blackfoot Guns, #78 Longarm on the Santa Cruz, #79 Longarm and the Cowboy's Revenge, #80 Longarm on the Goodnight Trail, #81 Longarm and the Frontier Duchess, #82 Longarm in the Bitterroots, #84 Longarm and the Stagecoach Bandits, #85 Longarm and the Big Shoot-Out, #86 Longarm in the Hard Rock Country, #87 Longarm in the Texas Panhandle, #89 Longarm and the Inland Passage, #90 Longarm in the Ruby Red Range, #91 Longarm and the Great Cattle Kill, #92 Longarm and the Crooked Railman, #94 Longarm and the Runaway Thieves, #97 Longarm and the Mexican Line-Up, #100 Longarm on Death Mountain, #101 Longarm and the Cottonwood Curse, #103 Longarm and the Rocky Mountain Chase, #104 Longarm on the Overland Trail, #107 Longarm in the Bighorn Basin, #110 Longarm and the Hangman's Vengeance, #113 Longarm in the Big Burnout, #114 Longarm and the Quiet Guns, #116 Longarm and the Blood Bounty, #110 Longarm and the New Mexico Shoot-Out, #119 Longarm and the Renegade Sergeant, #121 Longarm and the Mad Dog Killer, #125 Longarm and the Hangman's Noose, #127 Longarm and the Outlaw Sheriff, #129 Longarm and the Rebel Killers, #134 Longarm and the Pawnee Kid, #135 Longarm and the Devil's Stagecoach, #141 Longarm in the Osage Strip, #142 Longarm and the Lost Mine, #143 Longarm and the Longley Legend, #144 Longarm and the Dead Man's Badge, #150 Longarm and the Skull Canyon Gang, #158 Longarm and the Ute Nation, #162 Longarm on the Devil's Highway, #165 Longarm and the Rebel Brand, #178 Longarm and the Golden Death, #185 Longarm and the Drifting Badge, #186 Longarm and the High Rollers, #191 Longarm and the Texas Hijackers, #219 Longarm and the Crying Corpse, #252 Longarm and the Four Corners Gang, #258 Longarm and the Pistolero Princess, #271 Longarm and the Scorpion Murders, Longarm and the Lone Star Frame (a Longarm Giant), Longarm and the Lone Star Rescue (a Longarm Giant), Longarm and the Navaho Drums (a Longarm Giant), and Longarm and the San Joaquin War (a Longarm Giant).  That's 86 Longarm novels, folks.
  • Hal G. Evarts, Apache Agent.  Western
  • Cliff Farrell, Shootout at Sioux Wells and The Walking Hills.  Westerns.
  • L. L. Foreman, Desperado's Gold and Last Stand Mesa.  Westerns.
  • Alan Dean Foster, To the Vanishing Point.  Fantasy.
  • Zane Grey, The Dude Ranger and Nevada.  Westerns.
  • Frank Gruber, Wanted!  Western.
  • E. E. Halleran, Smoky Range.  Western.
  • Brett Halliday, Blood on the Stars, Caught Dead, Count Backwards to Zero, Murder in Haste, Pay-Off in Blood, Shoot the Works, and Violence Is Golden.  Mike Shayne mysteries.
  • Wade Hamilton, Gunsmoke.  Western.
  • William Heuman, Heller from Texas.  Western.
  • Philip E. High, The Mad Metropolis (with Space Captain by Murray Leinster) and No Truce with Terra (with The Duplicators by Murray Leinster).  Ace SF doubles.
  • Ray Hogan, The Rimrocker and The Tombstone Trail.  Shawn Starbuck Westerns.
  • L. P. Holmes, Night Marshall and Shadow of the Rim.  Westerns.
  • William Hopson, Gunfighter's Pay.  Western.
  • Clair Huffaker, Badge for a Gunfighter.  Western.
  • Zach Hughes, For Texas and Zed.  SF.
  • Dean Ing, Loose Cannon.  Thriller.
  • Alexander Jablokov, Nimbus.  SF.
  • "Richard Jessup", Comanche Vengeance.  Western.
  • William W. Johnstone, Alone in the Ashes, Blood in the Ashes, Crisis in the Ashes, Danger in the Ashes, Death in the Ashes, Fire in the Ashes, Hatred in the Ashes, Out of the Ashes, Smoke from the Ashes, Standoff in the Ashes, Trapped in the Ashes, Valor in the Ashes, and Warriors from the Ashes.  That's 13 books in the post-apocalyptic series.
  • Day Keene, Guns Along the Brazos.  Western.
  • Keith Laumer, The Breaking Earth (Catastrophe Planet) and Night of Delusions.  SF.  The first adds articles by Frederik Pohl and G. Harry Stine while the second includes two "bonus" stories.
  • Steven C. Lawrence,  A Texan Comes Riding.  Western.
  • William Colt MacDonald, Action at Arcanum.  Western.
  • Eli Mitchell, After Hard Guns.  Western.
  • Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir, creators, The Destroyer #72 Sole Surviver, #73 Line of Succession, #74 Walking Wounded, #75 Man of Terror, #80 Death Sentence, #81 Hostile Takeover, #82 Survival Course, #86 Arabian Nightmare, #87 Mob Psychology, #91 Cold Warrior, #96 Infernal Revenue, #97 Identity Crisis, #99 The Color of Fear, #100 Last Rites, #101 Bidding War, #104 Angry White Mailmen, #108 Bamboo Dragon, #111 Prophet of Doom,#113 The Empire Dreams, #117 Deadly Genes, and #135 Political Pressure.
  • Andre Norton, Breed to Come, Forerunner:  The Second Venture, Victory on Janus, and Zarthor's Bane.  SF all.
  • Alan E. Nourse and J. A. Meyer, The Invaders Are Coming.  SF.
  • Nelson Nye, Long Run.  Western.
  • T. V. Olsen, A Man Called Brazos.  Western.
  • Frank O'Rourke, Blackwater.  Western.
  • Wayne D. Overholser, The Long Trail North.  western.
  • E. M. Parsons, Fargo.  Western.
  • Lewis B. Patten, Death Rides a Black Horse and The Gun of Jesse Hand.  Westerns.
  • Don Pendleton (et al.), Mack Bolan The Executioner #40: Double Crossfire, #96 Death Has a Name, #79 Council of Kings, #101 Eternal Triangle, #103 Assault on Rome, #173 Capitol Hit, #183 Clean Sweep, #233 Tough Justice, #237 Hellfire Trigger, and Inferno (Book III of The Terror Trilogy).  Also Copp in Deep (second of the Joe Copp series) and The Guns of Terra 10 (SF).
  • R. J. Pimeiro, Retribution.  Thriller.
  • "J. R. Roberts", The Gunsmith:  Tales from the White Elephant Saloon.  A Gunsmith Giant novel,
  • Jake Saunders and Howard Waldrop, The Texas-Israeli War:  1999.  SF.
  • Luke Short, Bold Rider, Desert Crossing, The Deserters, The Feud at Single Shot, Hard Money, Ramrod, Ride the Man Down, Savage Range, Station West, and War on the Cimarron.  Westerns.
  • L. Neil Smith, Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu.  Movie tie-in.
  • Mickey Spillane, Me, Hood!, Survival Zero, and The Tough Guys.  The first has two novellas, the second is a Mike Hammer novel, and the third collects three novellas.
  • George R. Stewart, Earth Abides.  The classic SF novel.
  • Clay Tanner, Chance #6:  Mississippi Rogue.  Western.
  • "Ramsay Thorne", Renegade #1, #2 Blood Runner, #3 Fear Merchant, #4 Death Hunter, #5 Macumber Killer, #6 Panama Gunner, #7 Death in High Places, #8 Over the Andes to Hell, #9 Hell Raider, #11 Citadel of Death, #12 The Badlands Brigade, #13 The Mahogany Pirates, #14 Harvest of Death, #15 Terror Trail, #16 Mexican Marauder, #17 Slaughter in Sinaloa, #18 Cavern of Doom, #19 Hellfire in Honduras, #20 Shots at Sunrise, #21 River of Revenge, #22 Payoff in Panama, #24 Guatemala Gunman, #25 High Sea Showdown, #26 Blood on the Border, #27 Savage Safari, #28 The Slave Raiders, #29 Peril in Progreso, #31 Shootout in Segovia, #32 Death Over Darien, #35 Standoff in the Sky, and #36 Guns for Garcia.  That's 31 of the books in the series.
  • A. E. van Vogt, The Darkness on Diamondia and Earth Factor X (The Secret Galactics).  SF.
  • Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  The Shadow of the Wind.  Fiction.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


...because tomorrow is...*suspensful pause*...*wait for it*...TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY!


Anyway, to get you in the mood, here are a few facts about pirates.

Pirates can be anywhere.  You might meet them in the fog:

They might be in toy chest, fighting ninjas:

But ninjas aren't enough.  You have to add in zombies and robots:

Some pirates look suspiciously like Robert Newton:

But some pirates are pure-dee, downright scary:

So, time to get in the mood, m8e.  Shiver your timbers and be prepared to talk like a pirate tomorrow.  Arrrr!

Friday, September 16, 2011


The Skin Spinners:  Poems by Joan Aiken (1976)

I am an unabashed Joan Aiken fan.  I suppose she's now more famous for her juvenile novels and stories, but she also produced some stunning fantasies and gothic romances, as well as a number of novels of manners a la Jane Austin.  She has also penned plays, television shows, and a how-to book on writing.  Her Alternate England series of juvenile novels (beginning with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase in 1962) remain very popular.  Her children's books about Arabella and her pet raven Mortimer still delight me, as do her stories about the very peculiar Armitage family.  Her latest book, The Monkey's Wedding and Other Stories, was published earlier this year, seven years after the author's death.

     Aiken published over 30 collections of short stories (many obstenibly for children) that highlight her specials gifts.  She could be funny, scary, sentimental, wise, or outrageous.  These sensibilities are carried over in The Skin Spinners, a slim volume of 50 poems.  In the title poem, Aiken compares poets to spiders:

           ...all is fortold, all comes to pass
            spun, spinning, in a web of glass;
            brooding over the throng of flies
            they watch with penetrating eyes
            and turn the living and the dead
            impartially to daily bread.

      Some of these poems are mood pieces, such as "House on Cape Cod":

            Sharp sting of sand, saltwater stain
            the house forgets, its boards retain
            the winds sandpapered this demesne...

     Aiken divides the book into five sections:  Simple Things, Mysterious Things, Legends, People, and Ballads.  We meet a boy with a wolf's foot, the ghost of a child happy to have other children living in the house again, a man who trained an owl as an alarm clock, a poem written on tissue paper one square at a time, and the truth about New York sewers.  Some poems will make you smile, some would have made Shel Silverstein jealous, and some will make you reminesce.  All should make you realize what a wonderful combination wit and words can be.


Thursday, September 15, 2011


This one comes from the What Were They Thinking? Dept.  Warning: a few of the comments are probaly NSFW but are acceptable on a school playground.

Hat tip to Dawn, because we all need the crazy at one time or another.


This is an oldie, but probably not so goodie:

     Two muffins were in an oven.  One muffin says, "Is it getting hot in here?"  The other muffin says, "Holy crap!  A talking muffin!"

Hat tip to Jenn, who reminded me of this stale joke.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I enjoyed the first season of The Walking Dead on A&E and I'm looking forward to the next season, so it was time to check out the graphic novels by Robert Kirkman.  That the television show veers from its source material is a no-brainer.  What surprised me is how very much better and complex the source material was.

     The Walking Dead: Compendium One contains the first eight graphic novels in the series.  At six issues a novel, that works out to 48 issues packed into this doorstopper of a book.  We've seen the opening premise in a number of books and movies.  A man -- in this case, police officer Rick Grimes -- wakes up in a hospital and no one else is there.  No one alive that is.  Grimes is in the age of the zombies, the walking dead -- mindless corpses with an appetite for warm human flesh.

     After several adventures and encounters, Rick manages to hook up with a very small group of survivors, among them -- surprisingly -- are his wife and son and his best friend.  Rick soon becomes the de facto leader of this group and must use whatever skills he has to help them survive.  The odds are against them, however.  Some people die.  Others join them while we watch what effect the end of the world has on each of them.

     Underlying all this is the question of the zombies.  What happened to create them?  How to stop them?

     This book is for mature audiences.  There's sex and perversions and visceral violence.  Nobody gets off easily.  Moral codes have to be adapted or abandoned.  Things happen that the reader just does not want to happen.  No character is sacrosanct.  There is the realization that the title also applies to the survivors.

     The people in this book are well-drawn (in both the literal sense by Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore, and Cliff Rathburn, and in the character development as envisioned by Kirkman) and complex. 

    Make no mistake about it, this is disturbing stuff.  But it's also great stuff -- just not for everyone.


Erle Stanley Gardner, as both a practicing and non-practicing attorney, had a strong sense of justice.  He gained some notariety for his efforts in the case of William Marvin Lindley, a man convicted of murder.  On his own, Gardner reviewed the case in detail and concluded that it was impossible for Lindley to be guilty.  Gardner's championing of the case resulted in a reprieve of execution (given on the scheduled day of execution!), and in then a commutation to a life sentence to allow for a reinvestigation of the case, and finally in a innocent verdict and release. 

     In 1948 Gardner lent his name and talents to a project called The Court of Last Resort.  Created with his good friend Harry Steeger, the editor of Argosy, The Court of Last Resort consisted of professionals who would review criminal cases where appeals had been exhausted.  This, of course, led to a large amount of requests for review which, in turn, proved over time to be unwieldy, eventually leading to the slow demise of the Court.  At least 8,000 cases were reviewed in some type of manner by the court.  Gardner would write up the results for articles in Argosy.  I believe there were over 75 articles.  Gardner also transformed some of the cases in his second non-fiction book, titled (quel surprise!) The Court of Last Resort.

    Somewhere along the line, somebody (probably Gardner and Steeger  -- Gardner's Paisano Production co-produced the series) realized that this would make great television.  Okay, so maybe it was not-so-great.  The television show ran for 26 episodes in 1957.  every episode was allegedly based on a true-life case.  Usually, the show would begin with the crime, and then would focus in on the investigation.  Sometimes the evidence pointed to innocence, sometimes to guilt -- this was unique in television crime drama of the time:  the viewer did not know if the suspect was guilty or not.

     The Court of Last Resort (at least on television) was made up of eight men, each of whom was portrayed on television.  Often one of the real-life characters would do a brief recap or comment at the end of an episode.  Those portrayed on the television show were Erle Stanley Gardner (played by Paul Birch), Harry Steeger (Carleton Young), Dr. LeMoyne Snyder, a medical doctor, lawyer, and author of textbooks on homicide investigation (Charles Meredith), Raymond Schindler, a respected private investigator (Robert B. Harris), Marshall Houts, former FBI agent, lawyer, and author [one of his books formed the basis of the Quincy, M. E. television show (S. John Launer), Alex Gregory, former president of the American Academy of Scientific Investigation (John Maxwell)[in real life, Gregory replaced polygraph expert Dr. Leonorde Keeler on the court after the fomer's death], Park Street, Jr. [really] (Robert Anderson), and Sam Larson (Lyke Bettger).
      (Later real-life members of the Court were hand-writing expert Clark Sellers, former warden of Walla Walla Penitentiary Tom Smith, Smith's former assistant Bob Rhay, and Gene Lowell of The Denver Post.  Lowell was the person who replaced Gardner after the latter retired from the Court in 1960.)

     The episode linked below was first aired on December 6, 1957.  John Bliefer plays the accused Clarence Redding.

Not obsolete is Todd Mason, who has this week's roundup at Sweet Freedom.

Monday, September 12, 2011


A quiet week.  I hope fires, drought, floods, and torrential rains have not embuggered your week.

  • Peter E. Abresch, Names Games.  A James P. Dandy Elderhostel mystery.
  • Russell Banks, Affliction.  Novel.
  • Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island.  Non-fiction.  It's Bryson v. England.
  • Jim Butcher, Wizard for Hire.  Omnibus volume of the first three books in The Dresden FilesStorm Front, Fool Moon, and Grave Peril.
  • Tim Dorsey, Orange Crush.  Mystery.
  • Lee Goldberg, Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants.  TV tie-in.
  • Stan Hugill, Shanties from the Seven Seas:  Shipboard Work-Songs and Songs Used as Work-Songs From the Great Days of Sail.  Non-fiction.  This is a revised and condensed edition.  Great history, great songs, many not PC.  Makes me wish I had a modicum of musical talent or ability.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


My blushing bride has a not-so-secret addiction:  home improvement shows.  Quite often I join her in laughing at the stupidity of the designers and home owners.  One thing neither of us laugh at:  wanton destruction.

     Let's do a renovation now seems to mean smash everything to hell and gone.  Sledge hammers taken to cabinets and counters, rather than removing them or repurposing them.

     I come from an old Yankee family.  That means fix it, use it up, make do.  Kitty's family came from the auld sod, which basically means the same thing.  Habitat for Humanity's Re-Store loves us, as do the various charities that we donate items to.  A lot of items have gone to friends who needed them at one time or another.  Many years ago, during a particularly bad spot, we worked at a fast food chain.  We would smuggle out stacks of hamburger buns (all sealed in plastic and very usable) that had gone past its shelf date and were supposed to be compacted; these went to variuous shelters and the Salvation Army.  Wanton waste and destruction are anathema to us.

     (At least we are not as bad as my brother-in-law who hammered out used, bent nails to reuse them while renovating his house.)

     So.  Home improvement shows that celebrate destruction, whether it be a cupboard or some great archectural details in an older home.  Tell me, is this done because it's someone's idea of good television, or are we just becoming a society that refuses to recognize the value of things?


In keeping with my accidental ESG theme, here are three episodes of Christopher London, another radio series created by Gardner, or -- at least -- based on a character created by Gardner.  This is, I have no knowledge of this character from the Gardner stories; so he is either based one a character in a one-shot story or was created for the show.  London is a private eye who will do anything or go anywhere if the money is right.  So let's go back to Sunday evenings in 1950 when the entire family was huddled by the radio.

    By the way, if the voice of the title character seems familiar, you are right.  Glenn Ford played Christopher London.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Neighborhood Frontiers by Erle Stanley Gardner (1954)

Erle Stanley Gardner was a writing (ok, dictating) phenomenon.  His most famous creation, Perry Mason, starred in 82 novels, plus a few short stories, as well as some novels written by Thomas Chastain after Gardner had died.  I won't even go into the number of radio, television, motion picture,  comic strips, and comic books that featured Perry Mason.  And then there was his Donald Lam/Bertha Cool books under the A. A. Fair pseudonym.  And the nine novels about D. A. Doug Selby. And the Lester Leith, Ed Jenkins, Sidney Zoom, Paul Pry, Bill Elder, Bob Zane, Terry Clane, Gramps Wiggins, Senor Lobo, Ken Corning, Patent Leather Kid, Speed Dash, Bob Larkin, Black Barr, Old Walrus,  Fish Mouth McGinnis, Buck Riley, Sheriff Billy Bales, Dave Barker, Dread Bart, Whispering Story, Yee Dooey Wah, Mr. Manse, Major Brane, Rex Kane, Double Decker, Perry Burke, Steve Raney, Dick Bentley, Dane Scarle, Go Get 'Em Garver, Dudley Bell, El Paisano, Bob Crowder, Jax Bowman/White Rings, The Man Who Couldn't Forget, The Man in the Sliver Mark, Sam Moraine, Win Layton - Girl Reporter, Pete Wennick, Barney Killigen, Ed Migrane (The Headache), Pete Quint, Jerry Bane, and Small, Weston & Burke stories -- along with a gajillion other stories.

     So it's very understandable that, with all the above and with his work on variuous justice issues, that Gardner had plenty of time to turn out thirteen travel books, beginning with The Land of Shorter Shadows in 1948 to Host With a Big Hat in 1970.  Neighborhood Frontiers was the second of these books and covers some of Gardner's wanderings from 1928 on. 

     Gardner loved to travel and one of his favorite spots was the Western desert.  The first part of the book details an encounter he had in the desert with a one-time seaman, which provided the origin of his fantasy/adventure story Rain Magic.  Other parts of the book cover desert lore, lost and cursed mines, and some of Gardner's meetings with desert dwellers.  Underlying all this is Gardner's love for the still, solemn desert.

      The purpose of the book, Gardner says, is to point out areas close to us that still contain adventure -- adventure being used in a very broad term.  To do this, Gardner also takes us to the Puget Sound, the Yucatan, Yaqui River, and Barranca Country.  He gives us stories and legends, history and geography. 
In the end, however, there is more a picture of Gardner than of these neighboring frontiers.  (We deduce, for example that, while Gardner was a hefty man, about 92% of his body weight had to be cholesterol.  I mean, let's put a thick slab of butter on a slice of apple pie before we eat it.  Geez.)

     This is an interesting (albeit dated) book, ladened with over a hundred photographs printed in a Godawful sepia tone.  For Gardner completists and for those who want a peek at the not-so-old West.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


How about a few episodes of A Life in Your Hands, an old radio show "created by Erle Stanley Gardner"?
     The show ran during the summers of 1949 to 1952 and featured the character Jonathan Kegg as an amicus curiae interested in justice being served.  Kegg was played at various times by Ned Lefevre, Lee Bowman, and Carlton Kendall.  I don't know much about the show and I really don't know how much Erle Stanley Gardner had to do with it.  Maybe as much as Ian Fleming had to do with The Man from U.N.C.L.E.?  Or, maybe not.

     Anyway, the link will take you to thirteen episodes.  Have fun.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Ed Gorman was kind enough to send me an Advanced Reading Copy of his latest mystery, Bad Moon Rising.  The Postal Service was kind enough to deliver it during the Hurrican Irene debacle.  A sincere thanks to both.

     Bad Moon Rising is the ninth in his Sam McCain series, which started in 1999 with The Day the Music Died.  McCain is a struggling lawyer in the 1960s, taking the clients nobody else wants in the small city of Black River Falls, Iowa.  To supplement his income, he also works as a private investigator for Judge Whitney, a nationally connected, old money character who has lost her political grip to the city.  Whitney uses McCain's abilities to provide comeuppance to the new powers in Black River Falls -- especially Cliffie Sykes, the incompetent local police chief.

     Bad Moon Rising takes place in 1968, a time when young men are dying in a war that McCain does not believe in and a time when protesters are getting their licks at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.  It's also a summer of love and of drugs.  To the dismay of many, a commune has opened in town and the idea of  drug-addled, sex-crazed, Satanist hippies does not set well with Reverend Cartwright, the town's self-rightous and money-grubbing, rabble-rousing minister.

     The daughter of one of the community's richest families is found bludgeoned in a barn at the commune.  The suspect, an unstable veteran escapes from McCain as he tries to talk to him.  Other bodies begin to pile up and McCain, once again, finds himself one of the least popular men in Black River Falls.

     Gorman paints his characters with sympathy and understanding as they move through a poignant and troubling time in our history.  Gorman has been called the Poet of Dark Suspense and his focus has always been spot-on about the human condition.  In the end, as always, it is human foibles which lie at the bottom of the mystery.  And it is at the final two pages of the book that the full meaning of its title slams the reader in the face.

      A warm, literate, and thoroughly entertaining book.   It's hard to expect anything else from a master like Ed Gorman.  Highly recommended.

     (Bad Moon Rising by Ed Gorman.  Pegasus Crime, 2011, $25.00.  ISBN:  978-1-60598-260-1.  Release date October 12th.)


Today, we invite you to take One Step Beyond.  This episode (from May 26, 1959) was written by the great Charles Beaumont, best known in televisionland for his many scripts for The Twilight Zone and in movieland for The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao.  (True fans, of course, are also very familiar with Beaumont's exquisite short stories and his powerful novel The Intruder.)  The Captain's Guests stars Robert Webber and Nancy Hadley as Andrew and Ellen Courtney, a couple who had made the unfortunate decision to buy a house on the New England coast, a house that just happens to be haunted by the ghost of an old sea captain.

     Although not well-known names, both Webber and Hadley may be recognizable; both apparently have appeared in at least one episode of just about every television series made in the Fifties and Sixties.  Those with very sharp eyes may recognize Webber as Juror Number 12 in 1957's 12 Angry Men.

     One Step Beyond (also known as Alcoa Presents:  One Step Beyond) ran for 96 episodes from 1959 to 1961.  The host was John Newland, who directed 80 of the episodes, including this one.  Newland directed an awful lot of television shows over a thirty year period from 1953 to 1983.  In 1978, Newland returned to host the updated The Next Step Beyond, which ran for 25 episodes.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Two weeks worth.  Thank you, Hurricane Irene (you rat bastard).

  • Jorge Amado, The Two Deaths of Quincas Wateryell.  Literary fantasy.
  • Kelley Armstong, Industrial Magic.  Fantasy in The Women of the Otherworld series.
  • Margot Arnold, Lament for a Lady Laird.  A Penny Spring/Sir Toby Glendower mystery.
  • Ben Bova, Privateers.  SF.
  • Marian Zimmer Bradley, editor, Sword and Sorceress XII.  Fantasy anthology with 22 stories.
  • Harlan Coben, The Woods.  Thriller.
  • John Connelly, The Book of Lost Things.  YA Fantasy.
  • Glen Cook, Shadowline (Volume One in The Starfishers Trilogy) and The Tyranny of the Night (Book One of The Instrumentalities of the Night).
  • Philip Jose Farmer, Time's Last Gift.  SF.
  • Katherine V. Forrest, Amateur City.  Lesbian mystery featuring Kate Delafield.
  • Dick Francis and John Welcome, editors, The Dick Francis Complete Treasury of Great Racing Stories.  Omnibus collection of The Dick Francis Treasury of Great Racing Stories and The New Treasury of Great Racing Stories.  28 stories (14 each volume).  The books in this omnibus seem to be ones originally published in England by Faber as Best Racing and Chasing Stories, 1-2, 1966 and 1969, respectively.  Can anyone tell me if that's correct?
  • Ed Gorman, Bad Moon Rising (ARC).  Ed's latest Sam McCain mystery and it's a pip.  Due out in October.
  • Michael Jecks, The Mad Monk of Gidleigh.  Historical mystery (14th Century England) with Sir Baldwin Furnshill and Baliff Simon Puttock.
  • William W. Johnstone with J. A. Johnstone, Blood Bond:  Ride for Vengeance and Sidewinders:  Cutthroat Canyon.  Westerns.
  • Norman Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth.  Juvenile fantasy.
  • William King, Warhammer:  Giantslayer and Warhammer:  Vampireslayer.  Gaming tie-in novels featuring Gotrek and Felix.
  • The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July, 1976.
  • Michael Marshall, The Upright Man.  Horror.
  • Walter M. Miller (completed by Terry Bisson), St. Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman.  Sequel to the classic SF book.
  • Mel Odem, Diablo #2:  The Black Road.  Gaming tie-in.
  • William Rabkin, Psych:  Mind over Magic.  TV tie-in.
  • [Chuck Rogers], Don Pendleton's The Executioner #318:  Code of Resistance.  Men's adventure.
  • Jack Schaeffer, The Kean Land.  Western collection.  five stories.
  • [Dan Schmidt], Don Pendleton's Stony Man:  The Terror File, Book 2:  Echoes of War.  Men's adventure.
  • Nick Sharman, The Surrogate.  Horror.
  • "Dick Stivers" [Tom Arnett, this time], Mack Bolan's Able Team #12:  Deathbites.  Men's adventure.
  • David Thompson, Wilderness:  Northwest Passage/Apache Blood.  Western omnibus of two novels featuring Nate King.

Over the past three weeks, Kitty snagged the following (some of which came from Dawn):

  • Nevada Barr, Borderline.  An Anna Pigeon Mystery.
  • Laura Lou Brookman, As No Other Woman Hath Loved.  Romance.
  • Rosa Nouchette Carey, Wee Wifie.  Romance.  This one was an old book with the title page missing.  The book was first published in 1886, but this copy may have been as late as 1897.
  • Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes, Full Speed.  Chick-Lit mystery in the Jamie Swift/Max Hart series.
  • Mrs. [Felicia] Hemans, Songs of the Affections, bound with Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Poems of the Intellect and the Affections.  Poetry.  Another really old book.
  • Vida Hurst, One Man Woman.  Romance.
  • Sherrilyn Kenyon, Upon the Midnight Clear.  Romantic fantasy.  A Dream-Hunter novel.
  • Lindsey Kelk, I Heart Paris.  Chick-Lit.
  • Kerrelyn Sparks, All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire and Forbidden Night with a Vampire.  Romantic fantasies.
  • LaVyle Spencer, Twice Loved and Vows.  Romance novels.
  • Nigel Trantor, The Bruce Trilogy.  Omnibus of three historical novels:  The Steps to the Empty Throne, The Path of the Hero King, and The Price of the King's Peace.

Sunday, September 4, 2011



Hurricane Irene (that rat bastard) hit the day before my granddaughter's quinceanera, so I was powerless (ha, ha, I made a pun, ha, ha) to wish her the very best on my blog.

     Catherine Delaney Dowd will always hold a special place in my heart, and not only because she was my first grandchild.  I saw her first just minutes after she was born, tightly swarthed and looking extremely content, as if she was taking in the world around her and giving it her approval.  I have not seen another baby just so happy to be since her mother was an infant.  Her joy was contagious.

     So we began by calling her Cayley, but never settled on a way to spell it.  Over the years she's been Cayley, Caylee, Kaylee, Caley, and a zillion other variations (but not -- thank God -- Kali).  Several years ago, she settled on the Gaelic Ceili, a spelling that totally suits her.  Of course, she also came up with a number of other names to be inserted anywhere -- Japanese names inspired by manga, anime, or cosplay.  (Her mother had changed her middle name to Mary for about a year during grade school.)  Sometimes her alias is Axel McFlamingham.  I have no idea why.  It's just one of the reasons why I love her.

        Ceili is smart, sweet, and stubborn -- qualities she shares with the female members of her family.  She is also beautiful, another family trait for which I hold no responsibility.  She makes me smile.  She makes me laugh.  She recently has made me nervous; she is now at the age where not all boys are yucky.  I had to go through that with both daughters and now I have to begin all over again with a new generation.

     I have had an extraordinarily lucky life.  Ceili has been a major factor in this.

     I love her more than I can express.  Part of me wants her to go back to the giggling three-year-old that I gave piggy-backs rides to.  The less selfish part of me knows that, at fifteen, her life is going to get only more wondrous.  I only wish they did not grow up so fast.  I know she's already looking forward to sweet sixteen.  The selfish part of me?  Not so much.


After six days without power and seven without internet access, Hurricane Irene (that rat bastard) is now just an image in my rear-view mirror.

     Kitty and I lucked out; no property damage whatever aside from a few broken branches.  Somehow a goodish sized tree trunk was lodged underneath our shed bu the shed was untouched.  The neighbors across the street had a humungous tree filling their yard horizontally, but it missed hitting their house.  The people next to them had the same thing happen but the tree crushed their car.  Three or four trees fell across the road about an eighth of a mile from us, taking down a utility pole and a lot of wires.

     We live in a neighborhood of over four thousand homes.  Every exit was blocked by fallen trees.  An old one-lane road that had been closed off was reopened and we had to wind our way through six streets (some unpaved) to reach the exit which was four or five miles from our house.

     After the first candle-lit night, we opted to try for a hotel.  There are three hotels in our area.  The first was booked solid and the second sold their last room over the telephone while I waited at the desk.  The last hotel had only one room left -- something they called a "jacuzzi suite" even though it was just a single room -- which (IMHO) they overcharged for.  (The jacuzzi didn't work, someone left a window open during the hurricane so part of the floor was wet, and the pullout sofa bed smelled suspiciously of urine.)  My daughter had also lost her power and, since she was on well water, her toilets did not work.  So, for the first night we had her two children and her foster child sleeping on the dry parts of the hotel floor.  (Her power -- and toilets -- were restored the next day.)

     Because power was out in so many places locally, keeping a hotel room was a day-by-day crap shoot.  The hotel refused to book for more than one night at a time.  The room we stayed in was "needed" the next day, but they were always able to find us another room in another area of the hotel each day.  They would also erratically give us coupons for a compimentary continental breakfast -- two coupons one time, just one another time, usually none though.  Cleaning service seemed almost as erratic.

     Since my perfect-ten accidental dive into the Bay the Sunday before Irene, the gashes on my leg became infected and have been some time healing, making it painful to stand or walk.  (Not to worry, my doctor told me I'm healing fine and slowly.)  Now the hotel is a five-story building with its rooms on two wings.  If you've ever seen a movie where a corridor gets longer and longer, seemingly without end, you've seen the wings of this hotel.  Inevitably, our rooms were always far down the corridor with the only elevators at the beginning of the corridor -- perfect for exercising a swollen leg.

     We stopped by the house every day so that Ninja could tell me that I was pond scum because there was no cat food in her dish.  We also checked the guest bedroom.  Empty.  Did I mention that my son-in-law's brother was due in sometime for a two-week stay?  Each day we watched more and more trees being removed from any road that was not ours.  Patience, thy name is us.

     Luckily, power came back late Friday afternoon.  I doubt if we would have been able to manage another day at the hotel.  The Pax River Naval Air Base was sponsoring a large air show the next day with expected crowds of several hundred thousand.  Already members of the Blue Angels were filing into the hotel.

     So we are back.  And darned glad of it.