Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, April 30, 2012


Side by Side (the D.C. area folk duo Doris Justis and Sean McGhee) are one of our favorite groups.  They've been performing for 28 years now and have shared the stage with The Chad Mitchell Trio, The Limelighters, Nanci Griffith, Mary Chappin Carpenter, Tom Paxton, Christine Lavin, and just about anyone you can think of on the folk music scene.  Doris is currently Co-President (with Scott Morgan)of the World Folk Music Association, replacing the retiring (although it's hard to use that adjective with him) Dick Cerri.

    Doris and Sean were first brought together by a love of John Denver's music and have recorded a number of his songs.  About five years ago, they performed a John Denver tribute at The Gilman School of Baltimore.  In preparation, the students prepared slide shows to accompany each song Side by Side would sing.  Over the past few years, Doris has been talking about expanding that show for a larger audience; plans began to gel and and came to fruition as Doris produced yesterday's "Celebrate John Denver," once again with the assistance of The Gilman School.   In addition to using the original slide show for the first half of the concert, three very talented student artists (Jake Matthi, Yambi Lamb, and Bob Weisbecker) each painted a 4' by 4' tribute portrait of John Denver, two of which were auctioned at the concert.  Dan Christian of the Gilman School brought in a ship's bell from Baltimore to use in "Calypso," the Jacque Cousteau-inspired song.

     The concert was held at the beautiful Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, Maryland, as a benefit for the Montgomery County Humane Society's Rockville shelter and the Cedar Lane Church.  Backing up Doris and Sean were the legendary Paul Presterpino and Ron Greenstein.  Paul, who seems to be everybody's back-up musician and is known for his collection of brightly colored overalls, wore his lime-green overalls and played guitar, banjo, mandolin, and harmonica.  Paul's weight and Sean's hairline have both been reduced over the past few years.  Ron is currently the bass player for the Philly Rhythm Kings, country artist Travis Wetzel, and folk icons Tom Paxton and The Chad Mitchell Trio.

     In my faux John Denver tribute today, I thought I would repeat the performance using various artists, including John himself.  There are only a few clips of Side by Side on the web but I have embedded them where ever possible.  I've also included a few clips by other artists and, of course, clips from John Denver for each song.  Thus, we shall muddle through.  All of the songs below were written by and/or sung by and/or were associated with John Denver during his all too short life.

     1.  "Tradewinds" was the very first song that Doris and Sean sang together.  Here's John Denver singing it:

     2.  "Looking for Space" as a mashup with Olivia Newton-John and John Denver:

     And by John alone:
     3.  "Dreamland Express" by John Denver:

     4.  "The Boy from the Country" with Doris and Sean, backed up by Paul, Steve Weisberg, Mack Bailey, and others:

     And from John's final performance:

     5.  John Denver and Emmylou Harris performing "Wild Montana Sky":

     6Side by Side with a 1988 performance of "Fly Away":

     Here's John's performance:

     7.  "Calypso," John's homage to Jacques Cousteau, done by Doris and Sean.

     And John's vision of a "crystal clear ocean:"

     8.  Here's Mack Bailey singing "This Old Guitar":

     And John with the old guitar he was given when he was ten:

     9.  Following intermission, which included sharing a cake made for Sean by one of Doris' friends from the Northern Virginia Ethical Society, Doris and Sean sang their mashup of "Dreamland Express" and "All I have to Do Is Dream."  We've already heard John doing "Dreamland Express," so here's the Everly Brothers doing "All I Have to Do Is Dream."  You will have to use your imagination to create the mashup of the two songs, I'm afraid:

     10.  "I'm Sorry," first done by a young singer, Julian Hertz, at Denverdag (a John Denver tribute day) last year in Holland:

     And then by John:

     11.  From John Denver's Mitchell Trio days, John Lennon's "She Loves You" done by Side by Side:

     And by The Mitchell Trio.  (there's just a slight blip at the beginning):

     [Personal aside:  Speaking of Mitchell Trio, original (and still current) member Joe Frazier is facing a serious health challenge and your thoughts and prayers will be appreciated.  I've seen Joe perform several and have met him several times and his basic kindness and optimism always shined through.  He's one of the good guys.]

     12.  "Sweet Surrender"  covered by Rod Stewart:

     And by Side by Side:

     And by John Denver:

     13. This is from a 2010 John Denver tribute with Charlie Zahm and Band doing "Ponies" ("Follow Me" is also in the clip) :

     And John Denver's take:

     14.  The haunting "Trail of Tears," first done by Chris Westfall:

     And then by John Denver:

     15.  "Colorado Rocky Mountain High," one of Denver's signature songs done by Side by Side:

     And by you know who:

     16.  The classic Eric Anderson song "Thirsty Boots," one of Doris' favorite songs:

     And the original artist, Eric Anderson, once did a show with Side by Side during which he was
not-quite mildly stoned.  It was decided that the best description of his condition was "pebbled."  I don't think he's pebbled here:

     What the hell, here's a bootleg of the song by The Kingston Trio:

     And, of course, John Denver's take:

     17.  One of Side by Side's most requested songs, "Potter's Wheel" was written by Bill Danoff, who had about a dozen songs recorded by John Denver, including this one.  Here's John:

     18.  As their encore yesterday, Side by Side sang "Country Roads."   Here it is sung by a bunch of people, including Doris and Sean.  The sound quality is not great, but the enthusiasm is.

     Lately Sean has added a verse about naked ladies and a dog named Poncho.  Here's Doris and Sean doing it:

     And John:

     And that's it.  It was a great concert and a great time was had by a---

     Hold on!  Since this is my very own faux concert, let me add one of my favorite John Denver songs.  Here's the late, great Mary Travers singing "For Baby" to her granddaughter.


  • Robert Adams, Martin H. Greenberg, and Pamela Crippen Adams, editors, Robert Adams' Book of Soldiers.  SF anthology with eleven stories.
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley, Two To Conquer.  SF.  A Darkover novel.
  • Roald Dahl, The Giraffe and Pelly and Me and The Magic Finger.  Juveniles.
  • [Dragonlance], Masters of Dragonlance Art. Art book edited by Mark Sehestedt.
  • Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, September/October 2011, November 2011, December 2011, and January 2012 issues.
  • Loren D. Estleman, American Detective, an Amos Walker mystery, and Black Powder, White Smoke, a western.
  • Alane Ferguson, The Christopher Killer.  YA mystery in the Cameryn Mahoney Forensic Detective series.
  • Libby Fischer Hellmann, A Shot to Die For.  An Ellie Foreman mystery.
  • Dean Ing, Blood of Eagles.  Thriller.
  • Fritz Leiber, Swords & Ice Magic.  Fantasy collection of seven stories and a novel.  Sixth in the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser sword and sorcery series.  Leiber was one of my gateway drugs to reading many, many years ago.
  • Bentley Little, Dispatch. Horror.
  • Don M. Mankiewicz, Trial.  Legal courtroom mystery, "winner of the coveted $10,000 Harper Prize" -- in 1955.
  • Larry Niven, Playgrounds of the Mind.  Retrospective SF collection with almost fifty pieces, exerpts, and whatnots.
  • Jack Olsen, Give a Boy a Gun.  True crime.
  • T. Jefferson Parker, Silent Joe.  Mystery.
  • Don Pendleton's The Executioner #363:  Face of Terror.  Men's adventure novel; written by Jerry VanCook this time.
  • Paul Preuss, Arthur C. Clarke's Venus Prime, Volume 1:  Breaking Strain.  SF spin-off series. 
  • George L. Scheper, Michael Innes.  A 1986 study of the mystery writer and his works.  Innes (real name:  J. I. M. Stewart) is always a treat and I'm looking forward to learning more about him 
  • Norman Spinrad, The Men in the Jungle.  One of his early SF novels.
  • Sean Stewart, Galveston.  SF.
  • Vernor Vinge, Threats...and Other Promises.  SF collection of seven stories,

and the following e-books:
  • Timothy Hallinan, Everything but the Squeal
  • Joel Townsley Rogers, Secret Operator K-13.
  • L. J. Sellers, The Gauntlet Assassin.
  • Fernando Sobenes (translated by Benjamin Bennett), The Evil Visitor.
  • Robert W. Walker, Greatest Secrets of Successful Commercial Fiction Authors.

    Sunday, April 29, 2012

    TODAY ONLY -- $.99 e-BOOKS!

    Normally I wouldn't shill something that would cost you money but this is a great bargain for anyone who loves the old Gold Medal and similar crime and mystery paperbacks.  Prologue Books is offering 136 e-books for the Kindle at 99 cents each!

        Check these out:
    • Robert Colby - 14 books
    • Richard Deming - 4 books
    • Fletcher Flora - 9 books
    • William Campbell Gault - 18 books
    • Orrie Hitt - 14 books
    • Frank Kane - 12 books
    • Henry Kane - 7 books
    • Ed Lacy - 2 books
    • Wade Miller/Whit Masterson - 12 books, plus one solo book by Bob Wade
    • Vin Packer/Marijane Meaker/ M.E. Kerr - 20 books
    • Talmadge Powell - 7 books
    • Charles Runyon - 4 books
        You can't go wrong with any of these books.  All that's missing is that old paperback smell.

         Follow the link for more information.


    A familiar Shaker hymn from the mid-Nineteenth Century, presented beautifully here by Judy Collins.

    Saturday, April 28, 2012


    Will Murray -- scholar, pulpster extraordinaire, and current Doc Savage scribe -- turns 59 today.  That's about a book a year.  Wow.  And congrats.


    Here are the Edgar award winning novels for 1946-1955:


    1946 - Watchful at Night by Julius Fast
                (no other nominees announced)

    1947 - The Horizontal Man by Helen Eustis
                (no other nominess announced)

    1948 - The Fabulous Clipjoint by Fredric Brown
                (no other nominees announce)

    1949 - The Room Upstairs by Mildred Davis
                (other nominees:  Wilders Walk Away by Herbert Brean and Shoot the Works by Richard

    1950 - What a Body by Alan Green
                (other nominees:  The End Is Known by Geoffrey Holiday Hall, Walk the Dark Streets
                by William Krasner, The Shadow and the Blot by N. D. Lobell  and G. G. Lobell, The
                Innocent by Evelyn Piper, and The Dark Light by Bart Spicer)

    1951 - Nightmare in Manhattan by Thomas Walsh
               (other nominees:  Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith, Happy Holiday! by Thaddeus
               O'Finn, and The House Without a Door by Thomas Sterling)

    1952 - Strangle Hold by Mary McMullen
               (other nominees:  Carry My Coffin Slowly by Lee Herrington, The Christmas Card
               Murder by David William Meredith, Cure It with Honey by Thurston Scott, and The
               Eleventh Hour by Robert B. Sinclair)

    1953 - Don't Cry for Me by William Campbell Gault
               (also nominated:  The Inward Eye by Peggy Bacon)

    1954 - A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin
               (no other nominees announce)

    1955 - Go, Lovely Rose by Jean Potts
               (no other nominees announced)


    1954 - Beat Not the Bones by Charlotte Jay
               (no other nominees announced)

    1955 - The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
               (no other nominess announced)

    How did you do?

    Friday, April 27, 2012


    Prime Suspects, edited by Bill Pronzini and Martin H. Greenberg (1987)

    Every once in a while a mystery anthology hits just the right spot.  I had such a spot that needing hitting this week so I dived into this paperback from Ivy Books, a short-lived (I believe) imprint from Ballantine Books.  The introduction calls the book Prime Suspects #1 and states this was "the first of a series of anthologies devouted to bringing you some of the best -- and at the same time undeservedly neglected -- crimous stories by these talented writers, and by such other major names in popular fiction as Stephen King and John Jakes."  The book's cover, spine, and title page, however, dropped the #1 from the title and there the series ended.  Unfortunate, because future volumes were to include Isaac Asimov, Stanley Ellin, Sara Paretsky, James McClure, Harry Kemelman, Antonia Fraser, John Lutz, Ed Gorman, Brian Garfield, and Ellis Peters.

         (I hope my memory is faulty and more volume in the series were published, but I doubt it.  The series could have moved to another publisher and under a different name ((or names)).  Pronzini and Greenberg surely used those stories in other anthologies -- they were too good not to.)

         Anyway this volume gives us thirteen stories, including one original, from some damned good writers.  Although a number of the stories have since been reprinted, the only really familiar story (then and now) is Stephen King's Quitters, Inc., an even that one is not one of his most familiar stories.  Check out this lineup:

    • Stephen King, Quitters, Inc. (1978, from Night Shift)
    • Ruth Rendell, You Can't Be Too Careful (1976, from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine)
    • Loren D. Estleman, People Who Kill (original to this anthology) [an Amos Walker story]
    • Donald E. Westlake, The Sweetest Man in the World (1967, from EQMM)
    • Ed McBain, Just for Kicks (1958, from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine)
    • Bill Pronzini, Smuggler's Island (1977, from AHMM)
    • Marcia Muller, Wild Mustard (1984, from The Eyes Have It) [a Sharon McCone story]
    • John Jakes, Tex (1955, from Manhunt)
    • Edward D. Hoch, The Vanishing Men (1979, from EQMM as Captain Leopold and the Vanishing Men) {obviously a Captain Leopold story]
    • Lawrence Block, The Dettweiler Solution (1976, from AHMM) [a Dett-- well, you know]
    • William Campbell Gault, The Unholy Three (1956, from Manhunt) [a Joe Puma story]
    • P. D. James, The Girl Who Loved Graveyards (1983, from Winter's Crimes 15)
    • John D. MacDonald, The Killer (1954, from Manhunt)
         How can you resist a something like that?  All solid stories, by the way.

         You can't go wrong with a Pronzini anthology and when he joins forces with Greenberg, you've got a sure winner.

    UPDATE:  Ivy Books published at least three other books in the series although they dropped the idea of titling the series Prime SuspectsSuspicious Characters, Criminal Elements, and Homicidal Acts followed the first volume.  All would be worthy editions to your library.

    Thursday, April 26, 2012


    In 1964, an intersting album titled The Holy Modal Rounders appeared and the folk world took notice, not just because it was folk music, but because it was strange folk music -- psychedelic folk music.  The folk duo of Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber had played under a slew of different names beginning with the Total Quintessential Stomach Pumpers.  The duo changed their names frequently, finally ending up with The Holy Modal Rounders.  Drugs, I believe, were involved.

        After their second album, Stampfel and Weber joined The Fugs for a period.  After leaving the Fugs around 1967, they added more members and put out a third album.  Over the years, The Holy Modal Rounders added members (including, briefly, playwright and actor Sam Shepherd), more albums were released, gained additional fans when they appeared on the Easy Rider soundtrack (with Bird Song), and while Stampfel settled down in New York (he's now an associator at DAW books), the Rounders more or less became a Portland band.

         The Holy Modal Rounders -- you either love 'em or you hate 'em.  Check out these songs and discover why they became such a cult group.

    A classic from their Fugs era; probably NSFW

    This one's missing the last few seconds (sorry)

    Wednesday, April 25, 2012


    The past twelve years fly past in my mind.  His difficult birth.  His learning to crawl like an alligator.  His smile and his gentleness.  Holding on to Athena the rottweiler as he learned to stand.  His obsession with the Power Rangers and his determination to be one when he grew up.  His asking if he could run up that hill immediately after he finished a grueling lacrosse practice.  ("Aren't you tired?"  "Yeah, but I like to run.")  Charging around his house with his friends, shooting nerf guns.  His pride in being able to take of his monitor lizard and, later, his ball python.  His doing great at school despite his penchant for forgetting to bring his books home.  ("It must have been that part of my brain wasn't working.")  His willingness to do his chores without complaint.  Wrestling with his father.  The pride he had when he played bells and drums with the older kids at a concert.  His surprise at his first wrestling match when he found out his opponent had no arms or legs.  (True story.  Mark lost the match because he just couldn't figure out how he was supposed to grapple the other boy [who was a very determined opponent]; it was an interesting match to watch.)  His determination and skill at lacrosse and soccer.  The so many times when he and his sister get into giggling fits.  The scary times at the emergency room and the hospital.  His joy when he goes fishing with his other grandfather.  His learning to give "air hugs" as he got older.  His detailed knowledge of dinosaurs when her was four or five, soon to be supplemented by a detailed knowledge of sharks.  His love of nature and animals.  His honesty.  His curiosity.  His fascination with Goosebumps and, later, with Percy Jackson.  His pride at being voted the "quietest boy in sixth grade."  His smile.  His current refusal to like girls -- they can be okay but, well, you know.  His absolute refusal to like Justin Beiber.  The fact that there is not a mean bone in his body.

         Time rushes by and in exactly one year he will be a teenager.  Wow.

          It has been a privilege to watch Mark grow and mature over the past twelve years and to see what kind of boy he has become.  It will be a privilege to watch Mark continue to mature into the fantastic man I know he will become.

          Sure, I'm prejudiced.  But our children and our grandchildren are our gifts to the world.  You can thank us at anytime, world.

         Happy birthday, Mark!  Enjoy the birthday pizza.


    I was going through my very battered copy of The Armchair Detective Book of Lists and realized many award winning and nominated books would now qualify for Patti Abbott's Forgotten Books series.  So let's play a little game.

    The first Edgar award for a mystery novel was given out in 1946, specifically for the best first novel by an American author.  The award for best novel was instituted in 1954.  In the first ten years of the awards, therefore, twelve novels won -- ten for best first novel and two for best novel.  For some of those years,  the Mystery Writers of America did not announce a short list.  So for that ten year period only 27 novels were announced for consideration of the award, either as runners-up or winners.

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to pick out all twelve Edgar winners from the list below.  Simple, huh?

    • The Inward Eye by Peggy Bacon
    • Wilders Walk Away by Herbert Brean
    • The Fabulous Clipjoint by Fredric Brown
    • The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
    • Shoot the Works by Richard Ellington
    • The Room Upstairs by Mildred Davis
    • The Horizontal Man by Helen Eustis
    • Watchful at Night by Julius Fast
    • Don't Cry for Me by William Campbell Gault
    • What a Body! by Alan Green
    • The End Is Known by Geoffrey Holiday Hall
    • Carry My Coffin Slowly by Lee Herrington
    • Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
    • Beat Not the Bones by Charlotte Jay
    • Walk the Dark Streets by William Krasner
    • A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin
    • The Shadow and the Blot by N. D. Lobell and G. G. Lobell
    • Strangle Hold by Mary McMullen
    • The Christmas Card Murders by David William Meredith
    • Happy Holiday by Thaddeus O'Finn
    • The Innocent by Evelyn Piper
    • Go, Lovely Rose by Jean Potts
    • Cure It With Honey by Thurston Scott
    • The Eleventh House by Robert B. Sinclair
    • The Dark Light by Bart Spicer
    • The House Without a Door by Thomas Sterling
    • Nightmare in Manhattan by Thomas Walsh
    How many have your read?  How many do you even recognize?

    Answers on Saturday.

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012


    Today's Overlooked film is a low-budget fifteen-parter foisted on the world in 1936 by indy Weiss Productions.  Reviews posted on IMDB are evenly split between an entertaining camp classic and a cringeworthy, confusing exercise.   As if releasing the film to the public as a serial wasn't enough, the studio also edited  the film for a regular movie release under the expanded title The Amazing Exploits of the Clutching Hand (which had been the working title of the serial all along).

         The story features Craig Kennedy, the "scientific detective" who was very popular for several decades following his first appearance in 1910.  Kennedy was a creation of Arthur B. Reeve who wrote 82 stories of the character in eight years for Cosmopolitan. Reeve then moved on to other magazines, slowly changing his professorial, scientific detective into just another detective.  Several of the stories that appeared in the Thirties pulps were thought to have been written by other hands.  Eventually over two dozen books were published.  (Reeve also wrote a number of screenplays about Craig Kennedy, but not, I hasten to add, this one.)  Despite some of the stories bordering on the fantastic, Kennedy's scientific approach was so popular that Arthur B. Reeve ended up advising the FBI.

         The Clutching Hand was directed by Albert Herman, a veteran of low budget westerns as well as the director of over 40 Mickey Rooney shorts from 1927 to 1931.  Hand was based on an unspecified Craig Kennedy story, and was adapted for the screen by George M. Merrick and Eddy (Eddie) Graneman; the actual screenplay was written by Leon D'Usseau and Dallas FitzGerald.  All four writers had undistinquished careers in low-budget films.

         Most of the actors had long-runner and undistinquished careers also, often uncredited.  Craig Kennedy was played by Jack Mulhall, who later appeared in supporting roles in seven episodes of the early television show Craig Kennedy, Criminologist, with Donald Woods taking the title role.  Co-star Rex Lease was best known for his westerns in the silent movie era.  Mae Busch's many roles had he working with some of the biggest names in show business, beginning with her friend Mabel Norton; Busch is probably best known as Ollie's wife in five Laurel and Hardy movies.  Many of the faces in this serial will feel familiar; Snub Pollard, for example, is credited in 542 titles in his IMBD entry.  One familar face -- Charles Lochner -- was better known in his later career as "Jon Hall."

          Oh.  The plot?  Yes, there was a plot.  It involves the discovery of synthetic gold.  Before the scientist who made the discovery can reveal it to the world, he is kidnapped.  (Actually, he is kidnapped at least twice over the serial's run.)  It's up to Craig Kennedy to save the day and the scientist.  It takes him fifteen chapters to do so.  That's 300 minutes.  Five hours.  Will it be five lost hours you will never get back?  Or will it be five hours of camp entertainment?  You decide.

    Todd Mason will have the links to more of today's overlooked stuff at Sweet Freedom.

    Monday, April 23, 2012


    For today only, Bill Crider has made The Prairie Chicken Kill, one of his Truman Smith mystery novels, available in a Kindle edition for free.

         Great book.  Great writing.  Great characters.  Great mystery.

         What are you waiting for?

         Just follow the link.

        If you like it, don't forget to post a review on Amazon; it may help Bill sell a lot of books so he could live in the style to which he would like to accustomed.


    Some old westerns, a smattering of SF, horror, and mysteries, a bit of this and a bit of that.  A good week.
    • "Victor Appleton II" (John Almquist, this time) , Tom Swift and His Jetmarine.  That's Tom Swift Jr., mind you.
    • Walt Coburn, Law Rides the Range.  Western.
    • Ralph Compton, Death Rides a Chestnut Mare.  Western
    • Eugene Cunningham, Gun Bulldogger.  Western.
    • Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois, editors, Wizards.  Anthology with eighteen fantasy stories.
    • Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, The Fall.  Vampire novel; Book II of The Strain Trilogy.
    • Harry Sinclair Drago, Buckskin Empire.  Western.
    • David Drake, Surface Action.  Military SF.
    • Thomas Godfrey, editor, Murder for Christmas.  Anthology with twenty-six mainly familiar stories.
    • Alan Hynd, Prescription:  Murder.  Eleven true crime articles.
    • John Legg, High Country Showdown.  Western.
    • Donna Lettow, Highlander:  Zealot.  Television tie-in novel.
    • David Morrell, Extreme Denial.  Thriller.
    • Rebecca Neason, Highlander:  Shadow of Obsession.  Television tie-in novel.
    • "Kenneth Robeson" (Lester Dent, in all) Doc Savage Omnibus, Volume 1.  Four adventure novels from the self-named pulp:  The All-White Elf (from March 1941), The Running Skeleton (from June 1943), The Angry Canary (from July 1948), and The Swooning Lady (from September-October 1948).
    • John Robert Russell, Sar.  SF.
    • Vanitha Sankaran, Watermark.  A novel of the Middle Ages.  Recommended (and given) by friend Wynter.
    • Louis Trimble, Marshal of Sangaree with Tom West, The Face Behind the Mask.  An Ace Double western.
    • Joseph A. West, The Man from Nowhere.  A "Ralph Compton" western.

    And the following e-books:
    • James Cole, The Real.
    • Anne Fraiser, editor, Deadly Treats.
    • Ann Grant, Shadow Stations:  Unseen.
    • Madison Johns, Coffin Tales :  Season of Death 2.
    • Joe R. Lansdale, Bullets and Fire.
    • Micheal Rivers, Verliege.
    • C. J. West, Sin and Vengeance.
    • William van Winkle, The Followers:  A Short Tale of the Civil War Dead.

    Friday, April 20, 2012


    My week's reading has not touched any Forgotten Books:  some Ed Gorman westerns, some Joe R. Lansdale, some of Joe Hill's Locke and Key graphic novels, and some Stephen King graphic novels.  Everything fairly recent and nothing I would call forgotten.  Luckily, I've also been reading a few of Robert Bloch's Lefty Feep stories from the 1940s.

        Lefty is not like the other children.  To say that he dresses loudly is like saying Sarah Palin ever had a shot at being elected president.  Lefty is a con man, a grifter, a lover of the racetrack, and not so intelligent, although he has a naive wiliness about him which helps him get out of scrapes.  Lefty is also a storyteller...and what fantastic stories.

         The Lefty Feep stories are told in a Runyonesque style.  On steroids.  Lefty's misadventures feature fantastic situations, rhyming phrases, outrageous puns, and a little twist at the end, all narrated in the present tense.  The stories should not be read in one big gulp.  A little Lefty goes a long way.

         The series appeared in Fantastic Adventures from 1942 to 1950 (with two exceptions) so there a lot of refernces to the war and some now non-PC descriptions of Germans and Japanese.  In one, Lefty gets Aladdin's lamp and asks the genie for a room full of riches; what he gets is a room full of rubber tires.  Rationing made them very valuable, you know.  The stories are firmly embedded in their time: a gun is called a "not-so-Gabriel heater," for example.

         He has adventures with time travel, wizards, the devil, living statues, the Fountain of Youth, robots...well, you get the idea.  Anything can happen to Lefty Feep, and usually does.  The strange characters he meets up with have names like Lower Bertha, Joe Blow, Jack Fu Groan and his brother Wuan Low Groan, Gorilla Gabface, Bernie the Attorney, and Horace Hormone.  The stories may not be sophisticated but they sure are enjoyable.

         The first eight Lefty Feep stories were collected, along with an original story, in Lost in Time and Space with Lefty Feep, Volume One in 1987 by the small press Creatures at Large.  Further volumes never appeared.

         There were twenty-five Lefty Feep stories all together (information mainly from ISFDB):
    • *Time Wounds All Heels (Fantastic Adventures, April 1942; The Time Curve, edited by Sam Moskowitz and Roger Elwood, 1968; Lost in Time and Space with Lefty Feep, Volume One, 1987)
    • *Gather 'Round the Flowing Bowler (FA, May 1942; LiTaSwLF)
    • The Pied Piper Fights the Gestapo (FA, June 1942; LiTaSwLF)
    • *The Weird Doom of Floyd Scrilch (FA, July 1942; LiTaSwLF; Rivals of Weird Tales, edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan Dziemanowicz, and Martin H. Greenberg, 1990) 
    • *The Little Man Who Wasn't All There (FA, August 1942; LiTaSwLF; Knights of Madness:  Further Comic Tales of Comic, edited by Peter Haining, 1998)
    • *Son of a Witch (FA, September 1942; The Second Book of Unknown Tales of Horror, edited by Peter Haining, 1978; Tales of Unknown Horror, edited by Peter Haining, 1978; LiTaSwLF)
    • Jerk the Giant Killer (FA, October 1942; LiTaSwLF)
    • The Golden Opportunity of Lefty Feep (FA, November 1942; LiTaSwLF)
    • Lefty Feep and the Sleepy-Time Gal (FA, December 1942)
    • *Lefty Feep Catches Hell (FA, January 1943)
    • Nothing Happens to Lefty Feep (FA, February 1943)
    • The Chance of a Ghost (FA, March 1943)
    • *Lefty Feep and the Racing Robot (FA, April 1943)
    • *Genie with the Light Brown Hair (FA, May 1943)
    • *Stuporman (FA, June 1943; Superheroes, edited by Michael Parry, 1978)
    • *The Goon from Ragoon (FA, July 1943)
    • *You Can't Kid Lefty Feep (FA, August 1943)
    • *A Horse on Lefty Feep (FA, October 1943)
    • Lefty Feep's Arabian Nightmare (FA, February 1944)
    • *Lefty Feep Does Time (FA, April 1944)
    • *Lefty Feep Gets Henpecked (FA, April 1945; Satan's Pets, edited by Vic Ghadalia, 1972)
    • *Tree's a Crowd (FA, July 1946)
    • *End of Your Rope (FA, July 1950; Science Fantasy Yearbook [no.1], 1970)
    • The Return of Lefty Feep (Out of My Head, 1986)
    • A Snitch in Time (LiTaSwLF)
    * available online at

         Lefty Feep is part of a tradition of way-out humorous fantasy stories.  There was also Nelson bond's Horse-Sense Hank, Squaredeal Sam McGhee and Pat Pending, Dwight V. Swain's Henry Horn, and Leroy Yerxa's Freddie Funk.  Later (and more sophisticated) cousins were H. Nearing's C.P. Ransom and R. Bretnor's incorrigible Papa Schimmelhorn.  All of which are worth reading, but there's a special place in my heart for the hapless Lefty Feep.

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012


    She turned fourteen today, still holding the title of One of the Four Best Children on the Planet.  (No fair guessing who the other three are.)  She's bright, funny, caring, beautiful...she's a walking book of superlatives.  She's our Amy-Daisy and our Blondie-Bear.  The world is a sunnier, happier place with her on it.  I hope she has a fantastic day today.  I know she will have a fantastic life.

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012


    You often hear of the Five British Ladies of Mystery.  The big five from the Golden Age of British Mystery being Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Josephine Tey, Ngaio Marsh (even though Marsh was from New Zealand), and Margery Allingham.  Here are some links for each you may not have been aware of.

    A Tribute to Agatha Christie:

    And a Monty Python tribute:

    The Agatha Christie Festival on the English Riviera:

    Christopher Lee reads Christie's The Lamp:

    A Dorothy L. Sayers story, from Studio One, September 3, 1951:

    Benedict Cumberbatch reads Ngaio Marsh's Death in White Tie (follow the links):

    And here's Ngaio Marsh as Hamlet (1936-7?)...

    ...And not as Hamlet:

    Josephine Tey's The Franchise Affair (1951), in seven parts:

    Margery Allingham's Albert Campion introduces himself:

    Margery Allingham, from the National Portrait Gallery (1936):

    Here's a link to the Margery Allingham Society:

         Who would be the Five British Ladies of today's mystery fiction.  P. D. James and Ruth Rendell, surely, but who else?

    Monday, April 16, 2012


    It has been a quiet week.  My back is feeling better, despite last Thursday when we brought the kids into Tyson's Corner for a book signing by "Erin Hunter."  Hunter is the author of the very popular  juvenile series Warriors and Seekers.  (Think tribes of cats and tribes of bears.)  The two series were created by Victoria Holmes, who oversees both series.  To help with the workload, three other writers were brought in (four other writers, if you count the graphic novels).  There have been umpty millions of Hunter books sold; half (I swear) on Thursday night.  The "Erin Hunter" who was at the signing was Vicky Holmes and she was perfectly charming and openly honest.  (She starts each Warriors book by deciding what cat to kill and how -- she's allergic to cats, you see, and doesn't really like them.)  Anyway, there were thousands of gibbering children at the signing, climbing over the shelves, biffing siblings with soda cups, and doing all the obnoxious things kids do while under the doting eyes of parents.  Let me add that both Mark and Erin did none of those things [so sayeth the prideful grandfather].  We had to get there at  4:30 in order to get tickets at 5:00 for a 7:00 signing.  We arrived slightly after a busload of kids shipped in from Pennsylvania.  It's a two-hour drive for us each way, so we started out at 2:30 and didn't get home until 10:30.  The kids were happy -- far happier than my back was.  I took it easy for the next couple of days, until overwhelmed by guilt, I did our taxes.  So it's been a fairly light week for book-buying -- at least for myself.
    • Ben Bova, Mercury.  SF.
    • "Joe Bob Briggs" (John Bloom), Profoundly Disturbing:  Shocking Movies That Changed History!  Joe Bob takes on fifteen cult films, including Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS.
    • Leonard Carpenter, Conan the Raider.  The barbarian who just will not die.
    • Jeffrey Carver, The Rapture Effect.  SF.
    • Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, editors, Sirens and Other Demons.  Erotic horror; twenty-two stories.
    • [Detective Book Club], omnibus of three novels:  Gideon's Fog by "J. J. Marric" (John Creasey), Alive and Dead by E. X. (Elizabeth) Ferrars, and The Big Call by John Creasey as "Gordon Ashe."  The last is part of the Patrick Dawlish/Crimehaters series.
    • Steve Perry, Conan the Formidable.  One of some two dozen Conan pastiches (see Leonard Carpenter, above) published by Tor.
    • "Dodge Tyler" (evidently John Edward Ames), Dan'l Boone:  The Lost Wilderness Tales:  Taos Death Cry.  Number eight (of eleven) in the western series.
         And on the e-book front:
    • Kevin J. Anderson, Tau Ceti.
    • Douglas R. Brown, Tamed.
    • Robert Brumm, Windigo Soul.
    • Lee Goldberg, The Jury Series.
    • Timothy Hallinan, The Four Last Things.
    • Elizabeth Massie, Aberrations:  Horror Stories.
    • Richard McManus, The Chip-Head Apocalypse.
    • John Jackson Miller, Star Wars:  Lost Tribe of the Sith:  Secrets.
    • Scott Nicholson, Write Good or Die.
    • Darren Pillsbury, Imaginary Friends.
    • Anthony J. Rapino, Welcome to Moon Hill.
    • Sam Winston, The Mechanist, Stories, and What Came After.

    Saturday, April 14, 2012


    Decisions, decisions, decision.  Should I do my taxes or should I play around on the computer? Hmmm.  Hmmm.  A lightbulb flashes dimly over my head and -- just as quickly -- flashes out.  There was a sharp, bright electical shock from the extinquished light, reminescent of electoshock therapy.  "Eureka!" cried I, preparatory to taking off my clothes and running through the town.  Today, I realized,  was April 14th...I have plenty of time to do my taxes!  Why not play on the computer, at least until the bailiffs come.

         And...wait for it...April is month number four.  Today is day number fourteen.  If you subtract the four from the fourteen, the result is ten!  And, yes, I know one could have reserversed the order and suntract fourteen from four, but that's confusing and hurts my head and goes into territory where no man has entered and lived!!!  Anyway we are left with ten, consisting of two mumbers, 1 and 0.  We can divide ten by two in two different ways, I guess.  We can divide it in two horizontally, but we areleft with a 1 and an 0; but 0 is nothing  so we really have just one number and that just won't suit our purpose and make my head hurt even more.  We could the other way and used the Miss Primsnort method she taught us in second grade.  That would make the whole job easier (the answer's five -- see how easy!) but does introduce another problem in the form of Miss Primsnort, the meanest, nastiest, ugliest teacher in the whole world -- and that includes Kentucky.  Jerry, I hear you telling me, Miss Primsnort has been dead and buried for over twenty years.  To that I answer Bushwah!  Evil never sleeps.  One day she will rise from her hellish grave and haunt me with word problems about two trains rushing to their bloody, crushed fates while she merrily asks how fast are they going and how far out of St. Louis will their inevitable, tragic deaths occur and was the baby in the third car a boy or a girl.  I have had dreams of hee savagely attacking me with finely-honed hypotenuse, capable of cleaving one of my mother's corn cassaroles with a single swipe!  **BRRRR!**  But I digress.  I force myself to breathe deeply and think happy thoughts.  Besides, ever since she was put in the ground, a long, rotating line of her former students take turns peeing on her grave, 24/7.  Nobody, no matter how mean, wants tocrawl up through the dirt only the face that.

         So the die has been cast.  I have crosses the Rubicon with my army of elephants.  I haveput on my big-girl panties and have eated the Brussel sprouts while belling the cat.  SPOILER ALERT:  I have made my momentous decision and I think it has something to do with the number 5.

         All of this heavy thinking has made me tired so I'm going to bed.  Maybe I can think of what I'm going to do with the number 5.  Feel free, if you will, to carry on without me for the rest of the night.

    Friday, April 13, 2012


    This is the day that Patti Abbott's merry band (well, some of us anyway) celebrate John D. MacDonald, chronicler of Florida crimes and passions and creator of Travis McGee.  Although best known for his suspense novels, JDM began his career in a most pulp-worthy manner in the 1940s, peppering those forgotten magazines with a barrage of stories of various genres.  Early on he became one of the favorites in the science fiction field, churning out over three dozen sories from 1948 through 1950.  It was in 1950 that his first science fiction novel, Wine of the Dreamers, saw the light of day in the May issue of Startling Stories.

         From Wikipedia:  "The book is set both on Earth (dealing with a top-secret military spaceflight project in an imagined 1975) and a far-away planet of humans able to influence Earth while they sleep, believing that the planet and all its inhabitants are simply part of their dreams that they can toy with.  MacDonald described the books as 'a symbolic novel of how when original purposes are forgotten, the uses of ritual can be destructive.'

         "Galaxy reviewer Groff Conklin wrote [of the book edition] that 'The skill and the imagination with which the tale is developed are genuinely satisfying.'  P. Schuyler Miller [in Astounding Science Fiction] found the novel to be 'well and smoothly told, with likable characters a bit beyond the cardboard stage.'"

         Wine of the Dreamers appears to have been well received by the readers of Startling Stories also.  A glance through the letter columns of subsequent issues shows praises from fans Nancy Moore, Ed Butenhof,  future editor/writer Shelby Vick, future publisher/editor/bookseller Gerry de la Ree, and future writer/editor Lin Carter.  Certainly there were many more favorable reactions in letter columns I don't have immediate access to.

         MacDonald wrote two more sf novels:  Ballroom of the Skies and The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything, as well as a collection of sixteen of his sf stories, Other Times, Other Worlds.  A number of his sf stories have been reprinted in various anthologies and/or are available online.

         Here's a flavor of MacDonald's early sf, from Startling Stories, September 1948:

         For more JDM and other of today's Forgotten Books, stop by Pattinase, where Patti Abbott will have reviews and links.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012


    We made it back from Pittsburgh happy but tired.  It seemed every animal in the Pittsburgh zoo thought we would enjoy it if they defecated in front of us; can't say I enjoyed it, but the grandkids giggled.  The aquarium was fun and Kitty did not disapppoint by being put off by the moray eels.  (They just look evil, says she rightly.)  We also did the Carnagie Science Center where the kids went wild at the adjoining Sports Science center and everyone enjoyed the hands-on displays at the main building.  Kitty, Christina, and the kids took the Duquesne tram ride down and up Mount Washington while I cowered at the top.  All in all, Pittsburgh is a fantastic city and far more interesting and beautiful than I had thought.  Good times.

         Alas, now that we're back in Maryland, my back has started to spasm and now I'm walking funny and in some pain.  My back has been the bane of my existence for the past fifty years and occasionally decides to do nasty things.  At its worst, I cannot stand, sit, or lie down for more than twenty minutes at a time and I'm apt to fall down without warning.  A combination of arthritis, stenosis, adhesions, and at least one fractured spine, coupled with muscle spasms.  Bah!

         So I'll be taking it easy for the next few days.  Not much blogging, and a lot of guilt about things that need to be done around the house.  Tonight, though, I have to cheer Erin on in her fourth grade spelling bee.  (She came in second in the second and third grade spelling bees.)  Then on Thursday, we have to take the kids to a book signing by "Erin Hunter," author of the Warriors (about cats) and the Seekers (about bears, I think) series of kid's books; since "Erin Hunter" is four different writers, it will be interesting to see which one show up and how she'll sign the books.  I'll take both canes to the Thursday signing because I anticipate a lot of standing in line.  Also I anticipate having to recuperate over the weekend.

         No Overlooked Film or TV this week, but I'm thinkingof a future post on "Overlooked Characters" -- those characters who just disappear from a television show or movie without explanation.  Think Chuck, Richie Cunningham's older brother from Happy Days.  Any suggestions?

         Last week was Patti Abbott's "Zoo" Flash Fiction Challenge, but I was at a zoo, instead of writing a story about it.  I may post a belated zoo story sometime of the next week or two.

         This Friday, Patti's Forgotten Book series is focusing on John D. MacDonald.  My JDM's are buried in a box that I can't get to while my back is acting up, so there are no guarantees I'll be posting then.

         I was able to post a Hymn Time this past Sunday and yesterday's Incoming almost killed me.  Today's Update is being done in short bits over a period of time; it is difficult to sit and to concentrate for any length of time.  Even reading is difficult; I'm three days into a Joe Lansdale novel that I would normally gulp down in an evening and I'm only halfway through the book.

         If past history is any indication, I should be back to being productive (or productive-ish) in a week or so.

    Monday, April 9, 2012


    Looks like it's Western Week here at Casa Me.  I count 111 of 'em, but since I don't have that many fingers I may be off a bit.  Yee-hah!

    • John Edward Ames, Deadwood Gulch.  A "Ralph Compton" western.
    • Jack Ballas, A Town Afraid.  Western.
    • William Blinn, A Cold Place in Hell.  Western.
    • "Max Brand" (Frederick Faust) The Abandoned Outlaw.  Western collection of three short novels.
    • Peter Brandvold, .45-Caliber Revenge (the ,45-Caliber series), The Devil's Winchester (Lou Prophet, Bountry Hunter series), and Navarro (a "Ralph Compton" novel.  Westerns all.
    • "Lyle Brandt" (Mike Newton), The Lawman: Avenging Angels.  Western.
    • Bill Brooks, Vengeance Trail.  Western.
    • J. Lee Butts, Written in Blood.  A Hayden Tilden western.
    • Sir Andrew Caldecott, Not Exactly Ghosts.  Omnibus edition of two horror collections: Not Exactly Ghosts (twelve stories) and Fires Burn Blue (thirteen stories).
    • Margaret Coel, The Lost Bird.  A Vicky Holden and Father John O'Malley mystery.
    • Ralph Compton, Devil's Canyon.  Western.
    • Ralph Cotton, Fighting Men, Gun Law, Gunman's Song, Jackpot Ridge, and Riders from Long Pines.  More westerns.
    • "Peter Dawson" (Jonathan Hurff Glidden), The Ghost of the Chinook.  Western collection with five stories.
    • Randy Denmon, The Savage Breed.  Western.
    • Phil Dunlap, Cotton's War.  Western.  The first in a series.
    • T. T. Flynn, Gunsmoke.  Western collection of four stories.
    • Alan Dean Foster, Phylogenesis.  SF.  Book One of the Founding of the Commonwealth.
    • Marcus Galloway, Rusted Tin.  A "Ralph Compton" western.
    • Martin H. Greenberg and Russell Davis, editors, Law of the Gun.    Western anthology.  Seventeen stories.
    • Ed Gorman, Fast Track.  Western.  Dev Mallory #3.
    • Ed Gorman & Martin H. Greenberg, editors, The Adventure of the Missing Detective and 19 of the Year's Finest Crime and Mystery Stories!  Annual anthology; this one covers 2004.
    • Arthur Herman, How the Scots Invented the Modern World.  Nonfiction.  SPOILER ALERT:  Haggis had nothing to do with it.
    • Sebastien Japrisot, A Very Long Engagement.  Historical fiction.  Winner of the 1991 Prix Interallie.  Translated by Linda Coverdale.
    • J. A. Johnstone, The Loner:  Dead Man's Gold, The Loner:  The Big GundownThe Loner:  Killer Poker, and The Loner:  Crossfire.  Books Three, Four, Nine, and Eleven in the western series.
    • William W. Johnstone with J. A. Johnstone, Pride of Eagles (a MacCallister novel) and Massacre Mountain (a Cotton Pickens novel).  Westerns.
    • Elmer Kelton, Sons of Texas.  Western.  Part of a series.
    • "Frank Leslie" (Peter Brandvold), The Dangerous DawnDead River Killer, and Revenge at Hatchet Creek.  Yakima Henry westerns.  
    • Matt Lewis, editor, Out of the Gutter 4 and Out of the Gutter 5.  From 2005, two issues of "The Modern Journal of Pulp Fiction and Degenerate Literature."
    • "Jake Logan" (house name), #239 The Comanche Princess, #241 Slocum and the Big Three, #257 Slocum and the Mountain Spirit, #258 Slocum's Partner, #261 Slocum and the Senorita, #266 Slocum and the Blue-Eyed Hostage, #270 Slocum on Ghost Mesa, #274 Valley of Skulls, #275 Slocum and the Gravedigger, #276 Slocum's Warpath, #277 Slocum and the Deserter, #278 Shoot-Out at Whiskey Springs, #280 Slocum and the Ranch War, #281 Slocum and the Widow Maker, #285 Slocum's Disguise, #289 Slocum at Devil's Mouth, #290 Slocum and the Treasure Chest, #295 Dancer's Trail, #298 Slocum and the Tequila Rose, #307 Slocum and the Sheriff of Guadalupe, #309 Slocum and the Crooked Sheriff, #314 Slocum and the Deadwood Deal, #318 Slocum and the Presidio Phantoms, #319 Slocum and Lady Death, #321 Slocum and the Vanished, #325 Slocum and the Boss's Wife, #333 Slocum and the Land-Grabbers, #345 Slocum and the Widow's Range Wars, #326 Slocum and Pearl of the Rio Grande, #358 Slocum and the Bandit Durango, #361 Slocum and the Lucky Lady, #362 Slocum and the Witch of Westlake, #363 Slocum and the British Bully, #634 Slocum and the Dynamite Kid, #365 Slocum and the Family Business, #366 Slocum and the Rustler on the Run, #367 Slocum and the Medicine Man, #368 Slocum and Belle Starr, #369 Slocum and the Living Dead Man, #370 Slocum and the Four Peaks Range War#371 Slocum and the Backshooters, #373 Slocum and the Widow Sold to the Comanche, #374 Slocum and the Gift Horse, #376 Slocum and the Second Horse, #377 Slocum and the Four Seasons, #378 Slocum and the Teamster Lady#379 Slocum and the Yellowback Trail, #380 Slocum and the Dirty Dozen, #381 Slocum and the Forgetful Felon, #383 Slocum and the Trail to Tascosa, #387 Slocum and the Bandit Cucaracha, #398 Slocum and the Big Timber Belles#390 Slocum and the Cow Camp Killers, #392 Slocum and the Socorro Saloon Sirens, #393 Slocum's Breakout, #394 Slocum and the Fool's Errand, and these "Giant" novels:  Slocum Along Rotten Row, Slocum and the Town Killers, Slocum's Great Race, and Slocum in the Secret Service.  As you can tell, this is a long-running adult western series.
    • Robert J. Randisi, Gallows.  Western.
    • "Kenneth Robeson" (Lester Dent), Doc Savage #12:  "The Squeaking Goblin (1934)" & "The Evil Gnome (1940)" and Doc Savage #15:  "The Red Spider (1979)," "Terror Wears No Shoes (1948)," and "Return from Cormoral (1949)."  Two of the Doc Savage omnibus volumes from Sanctum Productions.  Four stories originally published in the pulps, t he fifth  as a paperback.
    • David Robbins, Bluff City, By the Horns, and A Wolf in the Fold.  "Ralph Compton" westerns.
    • Les Savage, Jr., Trail of the Silver Saddle.  Collection of three short western novels.  
    • [Darrell Schweitzer, editor], Weird Tales, Spring 1991, whole number 300.  The Robert Bloch issue.
    • Bradford Scott, The Cowpuncher.  Western.
    • "Jon Sharpe" (house name), The Trailsman #227:  Navajo Revenge.  Adult western.
    • "Grant Stockbridge" (Norvell Page), The Spider, Master of Men! #3:  "Death's Crimson Juggernaut" and "The Red Death Rain."  Omnibusvolume of two pulp tales from 1934.
    • R. W. Stone, Trail Hand.  Western.
    • John Trace, Range of Golden Hoofs.  Western.
    • Charles G. West, Evil Breed and Lawless Prairie.  Westerns.
    • Joseph A. West,  Bounty Hunter, The Convict Trail, Death of a Hangman, Guns of the Canyonlands, Rawhide Flat, The Stranger from Abilene, and Stryker's Revenge.  "Ralph Compton" westerns.
    • "Jack Yeovil" (Kim Newman), Drachenfells.  Gaming tie-in novel; part of the Genevieve series.

    And the following e-books:
    • Charles Gramlich, Harvest of War.
    • "Colby Jackson" (Bill Crider this time), Rancho Diablo:  Dead Man's Revenge.
    • Paul Levine, Riptide.
    • Jeffrey Marks, The Ambush of My Name.
    • Richard Sapir & Warren Murphy, The Destroyer:  The Day Remo Died.

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012


         When I think back on television comedy shows when I was younger, there are some true standouts...The Red Skelton Show, The Jack Benny Show, The Burns and Allen Show, and, of course...

         The Carol Burnett Show cannot be overlooked.  In 278 episodes from 1967 to 1978 she provided us with great shows, big laughs, and incredible talent.  Her cast of regulars included Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, and Lyle Waggoner.  The genius of the show was that Carol gave her cast and guests the freedom to use their talents to the utmost; the result was pure bliss.  And don't forget those amazing costumes by Bob Mackie.

         To my mind, Burnett and Korman were the bedrock of the show.  When Tim Conway joined the troupe his job mainly appeared to go off script and crack up the others.  Vicki Lawrence learned to hold her own and to become outrageous.  Lyle Waggoner was there for his good looks.

         As with any variety show, different bits will appeal to different people.  For the most part I didn't care for Momma's Family; Kitty never cared for Tim Conway's shuffling old man.  But some things worked perfectly for us.  One such were the skits about The Queen:

         One of Tim Conway's greatest moments was breaking up the cast in a Momma's Family skit:

         And here Tim Conway makes Harvey Korman totally lose it:

         Here's one of the ultimate classics:  "Went With the Wind."


         For more today's overlooked film/television/whatever, Give out a big Tarzan yell and go to Todd Mason's blog, Sweet Freedom.


    Monday, April 2, 2012


    • [anonymous], GrandOleOpry Picture History Book.  Looks like this one is a full-color souvenier book from 2004.  Entries on many of the performers past and present, along with a history of the country music institution.
    •  Paul Auster, Travels in the Scriptorium.  Novel.
    • "Benjamin Black" (John Banville), Christine Falls.  Crime.
    • John Brosnan, Movie Magic:  The Story of Special Effects in the Cinema.  Nonfiction.  Brosnan also wrote fiction as "Harry Adams Knight."
    • Jim Butcher, Summer Knight and Death Masks.  Fantasy.  Books Four and Five of The Dresden Files.
    • Frank De Felitta, Funeral March.  Thriller.
    • Michael Farquhar, A Treasury of Royal Scandals.  Subtitled "The Shocking True Stories of History's Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors."  Nifty.
    • Robin Furth, The Talisman, Volume 1:  The Road of Trials.  Graphic novel prequel to the Stephen King and Peter Straub novel.  Art by Tony Shasteen; coloring by Nei Ruffino and JD Mettler.
    • Elizabeth Goudge, The Little White Horse.  Fantasy.  Winner of the Carnegie Medal.
    • Susie Moloney, The Dwelling.  Horror.
    • Spencer Quinn, Thereby Hangs a Tail.  A Chet and Bernie Mystery.
    • "James Rollins" (Jim Czajkowski), Black Order.  A Sigma Force thriller.
    • Trenton Lee Stewart, The Mysterious Benedict Society.  YA fantasy.
    • Duane Swierczynski, Batman:  Murder at Wayne Manor.  "Interactive" mystery/comic book tie-in.
    • Lois Tilton, Babylon 5, Book #2:  Accusations.  TV tie-in novel.
    • Tad Williams & Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Child of an Ancient City.  Arabian Nights/vampire mash-up.

    And the following e-books:

    • Russell Blake, The Delphi Chronicles, Book 1:  The Manuscript.
    • Ken Brosky, Desolation:  Stories
    • Rjurik Davidson, The Library of Forgotten Books.
    • J. R. Rain & Scott Nicholson, Dark Spells:  Four Books, containing Cursed, Ghost College, The Vampire Club, and (with H. T. Night) Bad Blood.
    • Scott Nicholson, The Dead Live Longer, The First, and Bad Stacks Story Collection Box Set, containing American Horror, Curtains, and Ashes.  (And, yes, I got Ashes as a separate e-book last week.)
    • Steven Torres, The Devil's Snare:  A Comedy.