Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, November 18, 2017

MY PERSONAL PROBLEM #2 (FEBRUARY 1956)

Back (too) many years ago when I was in college I was friends with a stoner named Willie.  I had bought a cheap television for ten bucks for my dorm room to watch late night horror films and Willie thought that was a great idea and so he bought one for his room.  Now, if you're a stoner, television takes on a whole new dimension.  The only station Willie could get on his set (because he didn't spring for cable) was the local one out of Scottsbluff, Nebraska.  Willie's favorite was The Lawrence Welk Show because he was fascinated with how many weeks Welk could go without changing the set (the record, I believe, was five weeks).  This local station ran on a shoestring and aired mainly syndicated shows and old black and white educational videos.  And so it was that one day Willie came to me all excited because he had seen this remarkably cheesy show about Susie and her grandmother.  As Willie told me, the show ran thusly:

Susie was a beautiful, personable, intelligent high school girl who went to Grandma with a problem -- she couldn't seem to attract the attention of any boys.  Grandma said, let's see if we can figure out the reason why.  She asked Susie how long it takes for her to decide on her wardrobe each morning.  About fifteen minutes, Grandma, Susie said.  And how long does it take you to get washed up each morning?  Again Susie said, about fifteen minutes.  Then Grandma asked, and how long does it take you to get your hair done each morning?  About fifteen minutes, Grandma.  And how much time do you spend putting on make-up?  About fifteen minutes.  Then Grandma's voice changed and got a bit sharper:  And how long do you spend brushing your teeth each morning?  I'd guess about five minutes, Grandma.  AHA! said Grandma triumphantly (and perhaps wagging her finger -- Willie didn't specify), "Equal time for equal jobs!"  Problem then presumably resolved.

I mention all of the above because Susie's Grandma reminds me of Mrs. Rock, the advice specialist who manages to solve the personal romantic problems of young girls who seek her out.  (Mrs. Rock, a plump older woman with glasses*, has an office from which she spews out her advice, although I'll be damned if I know her job title.)  In addition to the illustrated stories, this issue of My Personal Problem has several pages of letters supposed from young people seeking help for their personal problems. (I'm fat, I'm ugly, my ex-boyfriend still has my class ring, how do I know what the right perfume for me is, am I coming on too hard with this girl I like, my boyfriend likes sports more than he likes me, my boyfriend is going into the Air Force and I wonder if I should stay true to him -- So many personal problems!)

In "Date-Breaker," Jim is a selfish creep who keeps breaking dates with trusting and not very bright Anne; usually Jim breaks a date to go dogging after other girls.  Mrs. Rock suggests that Anne keep out of Jim's life until he shows he can change his ways.  Dog in the manger Jim shows what a cad he is so Anne settles happily for Peter.  Take that, Jim!

Mrs. Rock doesn't appear in the next story, "Bewildered Rival."  Beautiful Betty has fallen in love with Freddie (who in the first panel looks grotesquely evil and/or grotesquely constipated...and why is he shown with such a grotesquely large head!).  Freddie, however, is also in love with his Mom and Mom is in love with Freddie.  Can this triangle be resolved?  And can Freddie and Betty live happily with Freddie's father who shows up after having walked out on Freddie and his mother when Freddie was just a baby?  This family takes the fun out of dysfunctional.

Mrs. Rock returns to help Judy Peal in "What's Happened to Us?"  Judy is a selfish bitch (Mrs. Rocjk would say a misguided soul who had misapplied her energies) who has brought her marriage to the brink by wasteful spending, ignoring her husband, and unfounded jealousy.  But Judy has now discovered her own failings and Mrs. Rock suggests that she re-adjust herself so that she doesn't repeat her mistakes and that she try to show her husband how much she loves him.  Judy, however is a slow (I would say blundering) learner and it takes a while for Mrs. Rock's advice to bear fruit.

Finally, in "Two for Company, Three for Love," seventeen-year-old Joan's problem is that she loves two boys equally and both have asked her to the graduation dance.  This is not just a first world personal problem, it's a high school first world personal problem.  Mrs. Rock's solution?  Don't see either boy for a week.  By then Joan will have a clearer idea of her decision.  The advice works.  Joan drops both boys and begins seeing a post-grad student (remember, she's still in high school; this isn't Roy Moore territory, but it's getting close) because she let her heart make up her mind for her.  Joan and Mrs. Rock are both pleased, but I fear for Joan's future.

Yes, I fear the road to romance is fraught with dangers.  And personal problems.

Enjoy.

http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=70064&b=i


*None of the beautiful young and troubled girls who seek out Mrs. Rock wear glasses.  And, unlike Mrs. Rock, they all (with the exception of Betty in whose tale Mrs. Rock is absent) have long hair.

Friday, November 17, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: TWO FINE FRIENDS

A beautiful children's song from Ann Mayo Muir, accompanied by Ensemble Galilei and Hot Soup!

Ann Mayo Muir is perhaps best known for her recordings with Gordon Bok and Ed Trickett but her haunting voice has also made for a very impressive solo career.  Ensemble Galilei is a Celtic music group with numerous albums to its credit.  The popular Hot Soup! folk trio is Susan Trainor, Christina Muir -- Ann Mayo Muir's daughter -- and Jennie Avila.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qU4KxGJ8pNg&list=PLDtw2SsV4Kvjt2HSvwf9r6V0B_O2Ic9wu&index=98

FORGOTTEN BOOK: THE MAGIC MIRROR

The Magic Mirror:  Lost Supernatural and Mystery Stories by Algernon Blackwood edited by Mike Ashley (1989)


Algernon Blackwood  (1869-1951) has long been considered, along with J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Arthuir Machen, and M. R. James, one of the major players in the field of the supernatural tale.  His stories "The Willows," "The Wendigo," and "Ancient Sorceries" are oft-reprinted classics.  H. P. Lovecraft, William Hope Hodgson, H. Russell Wakefield, Ramsay Campbell, and Clark Ashton Smith were influenced by Blackwood.  Henry Miller, in his The Books in My Life, called Blackwood's The Bright Messenger "the most extraordinary novel on psychoanalysis, one that dwarfs the subject."

Blackwood lived an extraordinary life.  As a young man he had an interest in Eastern philosophy and occultism (his parents were hellfire and damnation fundamentalists) and at the close of the nineteenth century joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, whose members were to include (or were rumored to include Arnold Bennett, Alister Crowley, Arthur Conan Doyle, Arthur Machen,Gustav Meyrink, Sax Rohmer, William Sharp ("Fiona McLeod"), Bram Stoker, and A. W. Waite.  Blackwood rose in the ranks of the order, eventually abandoning much of its reliance on magic in favor of mysticism and the type of pantheistic approach to nature that has infused much of his writings.

Blackwood's writings found a ready audience in the early part of the twentieth century but, as his writing career began to flag after the First World War (in which he worked as an undercover agent in Switzerland), he found new opportunities as a broadcast narrator on both radio and television.  At parties and gatherings, he had always been in demand for telling stories and beginning in 1934, instead of being interviewed for a radio program he chose instead to tell a story, his talent at narration proved to be great success.  On November 2, 1936, Blackwood appeared in the very first television broadcast from London -- narrating on of his stories, of course.   It is a radio and television narrator that many people in Britain during the middle of the century knew him best.

As the title of this collection suggest, Blackwood wrote many stories that are (for the moment) lost in time.  His records and many of his manuscripts were destroyed in the Blitz.  (And he was probably not the best of record keepers, also.)  Ashley spent ten years uncovering many of the stories reprinted here and, he feels, that there are other stories still to be uncovered in the crumbling yellow pages of old magazines and newspapers to be uncovered.  Then, too, a lot of his radio stories are lost; Blackwood would often ad-lib stories rather than read from a prepared script.

The Magic Mirror contains 25 stories, most of which have been previously unavailable, and excerpts from four of his novels.

The contents:

     The Early Years:

  • A Mysterious House (possibly Blackwood's first published story)
  • The Kit-Bag
  • The Laying of a Red-Haired Ghost
  • The Message of the Clock
  • The Singular Death of Morton
  • The Mauvaise Riche
  • The Soldier's Visitor
  • The Memory of Beauty
  • Onanonanon


     The Novels:

  • The First Flight (excerpt from Jimbo)
  • The Vision of the Winds (excerpt from The Education of Uncle Paul)
  • The Call of the Urwelt (excerpt from The Centaur)
  • The Summoning (excerpt from Julius LeVallon)


     Radio Talks:

  • The Blackmailers
  • The Wig
  • King's Evidence
  • Lock Your Door
  • Five Strange Stories
              - The Texas Farm Disappearance
              - The Holy Man
              - Pistol Against a Ghost
              - Japanese Literary Cocktail (similar to E. F. Benson's story "The Step;" there is no evidence                  of plagiarism, however)
              - The Curate and the Stockbroker

     Later Stories:

  • At a Mayfair Luncheon
  • The Man-Eater
  • By Proxy
  • The Voice
  • The Magic Mirror
  • Roman Remains
  • Wishful Thinking

This is admittedly a mixed bag.  Many of the stories are minor.  Some are mere anecdotes; others employ well-worn tropes.  But there is enough good writing here to satisfy even the most jaded enthusiast of the horror story.  Sprinkled throughout the book are splashes of humor and irony that often are fundamental to a good horror story.  Blackwood's mystical view of nature as a type of awareness or force is also present here, most notably in the excerpt from The Education of Uncle Paul (Blackwood's one book that I found difficult to read; it came across as Arthur Machen on steroids).  Two of the other excepts (from The Centaur and Julius LeVallon) are enough to make one dive into those novels immediately.

The Magic Mirror provides a decent sampling of Blackwood's work.  Almost all of his other collections, as well as many of his novels, are available for free online.  If you aren't familiar with the genius of Algernon Blackwood, what are you waiting for?

Monday, November 13, 2017

INCOMING


  • Douglas Adams, The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts.  As the title suggests, these are the original scripts for The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  The book covers the first two series (a total of twelve episodes, or "fits") aired by the BBC in 1978 and 1980.  Did you know that mystery writer Simon Brett produced the first episode of the series?  I did, but then I'm a genius fanboy.
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley, Survey Ship.  Stand-alone science fiction novel.  "Six of Earth's finest young people, perfect in mind and body, have been trained from cradle for one task -- to brave the infinite dangers of space, to find new homes for Man.  But once alone in the pitiless universe, they are betrayed by their ship and plagued by space hazards; their voyage becomes a grim test of survival..To survive they must tame their wild talents.  to survive, they must turn their training into skill, with no margin for error.  To survive, they must conquer their fears, longings and nightmares.  They must become a team.  they must learn how to love.  Or they die."
  • Natsuo Kirino, Out.  Crime novel.  'this mesmerizing novel tells the story of a brutal murder in the staid Tokyo suburbs, as a young mother who works the night shift making boxed lunches strangles her abusive husband and then seeks the help of her coworkers to dispose of the body and cover up her crime.  The coolly intelligent Masako emerges as the plot's ringleader but quickly discovers that this killing is merely the beginning, as it leads to a terrifying foray into the violent underbelly of Japanese society."  Winner of Japan's Grand Prix for Crime Fiction and an Edgar Award finalist.  Translated by Stephen Snyder.
  • Richard Laymon, Into the Fire and Island.  Both horror novels.  About Into the Fire:  "Pretty, young Pamela was a very happy newlywed, with a loving husband and a beautiful home.  But all that changed the night Rodney broke in.  He's been obsessed with Pamela since high school, and now he intends to make her his slave for life.  He thinks they'll be alone when he drives her out to the blazing desert.  But someone else is out there too -- someone with a gun.  Pamela hoped her nightmare was over when Rodney was shot, but something about her rescuer isn't quite right."  In Island, when "Rupert Conway set out on a cruise with seven other people, he planned to swim a little, get some sun and relax.  He certainly didn't plan to get shipwrecked.  but after the yacht blew up, that's what happened -- he and his shipmates were stranded on a desert island.  Luckily for them, the island has plenty of fresh water and enough food to last until they get rescued.  And luckily for Rupert, most of his fellow castaways are attractive women.  But that's where his luck ran out -- because the castaways aren't alone on the island.  In the dense jungle beyond the beach there's a maniac on the loose, a killer with a murderous heart, a clever mind, and a taste for blood.  He doesn't like his new neighbors and he plans to slaughter them all...one by one."  For some reason I can't fathom, Laymon was always more popular in England than in his native U.S.  An author always worth reading.
  • Andre Norton & Lyn McConchie, Beast Master's Ark.  SF novel, third in the series about Hosteen Storm, the Beast Master, and the first in series written with (and most likely, by) McConchie.  "Best Master Hosteen Storm has endured great perils to carve out a life for himself on Arzor, the colony planet he's called home since th destruction of Earth by the alien Xik.  On a planet with alien life forms and untold secrets from its pre-human past, there are always dangers in the world, especially in the vast desert and mountain region known as Big Blue.  but nobody has ever experiences a threat like the devastating scourge the natives call Death-Which-Comes-in-the Night.  Something is killing grazing animals...and has begun to attack humans as well, leaving nothing behind but the bones of its victims.  Hosteen, aided by his telepathically linked animals, knows that if he can't stop the killings Arzor will be decimated.  his only ally is a young woman who has beast master ability, but was raised to mistrust others with such a power.  At stake is the safety of ll those on Arzor, and on other colony planets as well.  Because Death-Which-Comes-in-the-Night is a scourge that if not stopped, could spread..."  Norton published the first Beast Master book in 1959, followed by the second in 1962.  It took forty years the next book in the series to appear, followed by a fourth in 2004 and a fifth in 2006; these three were all co-authored by McConchie, who won the Sir Julius Vogel award of Best Novel for New Zealand science fiction and fantasy for Beast Master's Ark.  (This was the first of six Vogel Awards that she has won.)  

Sunday, November 12, 2017

HYMN TIME.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xzr_GBa8qk

Saturday, November 11, 2017

VETERAN'S DAY

Let us honor our veterans today, and every day.  Not by mouthing words like "Thank you for your service" or by displaying a "Support Our Troops" sticker on your car.

Let's honor them by treating them they way they deserve to be treated.

Let's honor them by providing them needed services.

Like quality health care from an efficient, accessible, and not overburdened VA system.

Like suicide prevention programs and support and proven mental health services.

Like more educational and job opportunities.

Like volunteering to assist disabled veterans.

And for our military, let's provide them with the right equipment, the right training, and the right support.

And, most of all, let us ensure our veterans and our serving military that, if war must be fought, it is fought for the right reasons and not for political expediency or corporate profit.

Mouthing platitudes is fine, but actions can speak volumes.



Here's my go-to song for this day:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0BtHNwqXjY

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: BLACK SHEEP

Sham the Sham & the Pharaohs.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3hv4GnZQmw

SPACE WESTERN #44 (JUNE 1953)

Cowboys!  (Spurs Jackson and his gand of sharpshooters!)

Nazis!  (And communists and Stone Men, oh my!)

Martians!  (And Venusians and Moon Men, too!)

Walter B. Gibson!  (He of The Shadow fame!)

In "The Madmen of Mars," Spurs Jackson and his buddies travel to Mars in 1953 to defeat Nazis who have been hiding there since 1935.

Then in "Spurs Sees Red," Russians are using a flying saucer-like aircraft to spread fear of an alien invasion.  Their big mistake was in attacking a nearby ranch and shooting his Spurs' friend Pops McLean.  (It should be noted that Spurs had yellow hair in the previous story and now has dark hair for the remainder of this issue.  The first tale was illustrated by Stan Campbell; the rest of the issue by John Belfi.)

In a one-page filler, Spurs introduces us to the Jovian bandersnatch and its unique abilities.

We move to a two-page text story (because we need to meet the postal regulations).  It's moon creatures versus Spurs in "Spurs Jackson and the Selenites!"  The story ends with this warning from our cowpoke hero, "And even in this age we must all be on our guard to preserve the liberties of all people in the Galaxy."

In "The Stone Men from Space," the Queen of Mars gives Spurs and his buddies, Strong Bow and Rapid Fox, a flower that would bloom in the desert.  It worked but somehow petrified wood is also  transformed into Stone Men, led by Ag.  They are easy enough to defeat if, like Spurs, you have an atomic bomb.

Finally, "The Menace of Comet 'X"' has the titluar body heading for Earth.  Once Earth is destroyed, the comet's next victim will be Mars.  It's all a plot by Spurs' enemies Korok of Mars and Vodor of Venus.  Can Spurs and his Space Vigilantes save both planets?  Can the villains control the comet's orbit enough to complete their planetary two-fer?  Read it and see, rannies!

Saddle up your rocket ships, boys and girls!


http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=70044&b=i




Friday, November 10, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: TIME IN A BOTTLE

Jim Croce.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dO1rMeYnOmM

FORGOTTEN BOOK: ALL OUR YESTERDAYS

All Our Yesterdays by Robert B. Parker (1994)


Parker's most famous creation is Boston PI and lovesick tough guy Spenser.  He has written four other series, all of which have risen to one degree or another of popularity:  the Jesse Stone series, about an alcoholic and lovesick small town police chief; the Sunny Randall series, originally written as a vehicle for actress Helen Hunt, about a female Boston PI and lovesick tough girl (who, for a while, knocked boots with Jesse Stone); and the Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch western series, about a lovesick marshal and his deputy.  He's also written several young adult novels and four stand-alones.  The stand-alones include the dog-ugly Love and Honor (about which the less said the better), a fairly decent novel about Wyatt Earp, a suspense novel featuring Jackie Robinson, and this book.

All Our Yesterdays may have been intended as Parker's BIG book.  It's almost twice as long as his other books and the relative lack of white space and wide margins seem to indicate that this is something special for Parker.  Plus, it's a multi-generational saga involving a family of Boston cops.

We start off with Conn Sheridan, a brave and dedicated member of the IRA in 1920 Ireland.  Conn's service to the cause allows him to rise quickly among the ranks and soon brings him close to the IRA's top leadership.  Conn soon begins an affair with the young wife of a Boston Brahmin in Ireland to oversee a family business.  The affair soon turns to an obsession and Conn begs the woman to run off with him; he's even willing to abandon the IRA to be with her.  She, however, cannot leave her position of wealth and rebukes him.  When Conn persists, she informs on him with the British police, and so Conn is jailed and will soon hang.

The betrayal has changed Conn.  He's lost his soul and now has nothing to live for.  When the IRA breaks him out of jail, he goes to America -- to Boston -- and joins the police force to become a cop who doesn't care whether he lives or dies.  Eventually he meets his former lover and discovers that her now-adult son is a pederast and murderer.  Using this information as a lever, he blackmails the woman to have a long-term and degrading affair with him.

Conn's son Gus also becomes a Boston cop.  Following his father's death, he discovers his father's evidence against the child molester-murderer.  Blackmail evidently is embedded in the Sheridan genes because Gus uses this information to extort money on a regular basis.

Gus' son Chris has no desire to become a cop.  Instead, he gets a law degree and later becomes a criminal psychiatrist.  He also hooks up with Grace, the pederast's daughter.  Some cogs slip in Grace's father's brain and he begins molesting and killing children again.  Grace's brother is beginning a run for a US senate seat; his biggest opponent is Boston's mayor.  In a political move, the mayor appoints Chris to lead the investigation into the recent murders. 

Did I mention that Chris is lovesick?  No?  Well, you knew that anyway because that's a common theme of Parker's -- love and the compromises one has to make in its name.

So, three generations of two families tied together by fate and an ungodly amount of coincidence.  If this was to be Parker's magnum opus, he should have made it even longer.  I lost count of the major plot points that were glossed over from one chapter to the next -- we just skip right over them and continue as if they had happened.  There is some decent action, a few plot twists, and some interesting characterization.  Overall, it's a pretty good read if one ignores the lovesick relationships (especially of Chris and Grace) and the all-over-the-place plot jumpiness.

All Our Yesterdays highlights Parker's faults as a writer.  Luckily, it also highlights his virtues.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

BONUS MUSIC FROM THE PAST: WHO NEEDS WINGS TO FLY?

Today would have been the 100th birthday of Tere Rios, the author of The Fifteenth Pelican, the book that became the basis of the Sally Field television show The Flying Nun.  In honor of Ms. Rios, here's the main theme from that show.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Jcx1xWE8qQ

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: RIKKI DON'T LOSE THAT NUMBER

Steely Dan.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfZWp-hGCdA

TWO EPISODES FROM SKY KING -- 1947

Robert Burtt and Wilfred Moore, the duo who had come up with Captain Midnight, created Sky King in 1946 for the radio, basing it on a story by Roy Winsor.  Sky King was an Arizona rancher and airplane pilot who stopped the bad people and rescued the lost people into 1954, when the radio episodes began playing concurrently with the television show.  Sky's Cessna airplane was called The Songbird.  His niece Penny (actress Beryl Vaughan) and nephew Clipper lived with him, both of whom were budding pilots.

(I never heard the radio show but I was a big fan of the television version when I was a kid.  Like so many others, I was totally smitten with the cute, blonde Penny -- played by Gloria Winters; and I was saddened when the actress died seven years ago at the age of 78.)

To give you a taste of the radio show, here's two ten-minute episodes:  "Prince Aron Zibi" from June 30, 1947, and "Army of Blue Men" from July 14, 1947.  The announcer is a young Mike Wallace.

Enjoy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZf3M0Ipafs


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: RAMBLIN' MAN

From 1973, The Allman Brothers Band


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VxoXn-0Ezs

BAD JOKE WEDNESDAY

Taking a little trip into the past, here's a joke from 1922's Jokes for All Occasion, published by Edward J. Clode.  These jokes were designed for public speakers in a day when public speakers had no idea how to be funny.  The jokes are very weak; many of them are offensively racist to today's reader.  As such, these jokes are really bad and are fair game for today's post.  Here's a pretty bland one:


A thriving baseball club is one of the features of a boy's organization connected with a prominent church.  The team was recently challenged by a rival club.  The pastor gave a special contribution of five dollars to the captain, with the direction that the money should be used to buy bats, balls, gloves, or anything else that might help to win the game.  On the day of the game, the pastor was somewhat surprised to observe nothing new in the club's paraphernalia.  He called the captain to him.

"I don't see any new bats, or ball, or gloves," he said.

"We haven't anything like that," the captain admitted.

"But I gave you five dollars to buy them," the pastor exclaimed.

"Well, you see," came the explanation, "you told us to spend it on bats, or ball, or gloves, or anything that we thought might help us to win the game, so we gave it to the umpire."


[insert rim shot here.]

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: DO BEARS

Sometimes you need just a bit of funny.  Here's Rowan Atkinson with the great Kate Bush.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=un5UKqwTLHg

VIDEO COMPILATION: WHEN SPORTS MEETS HUMANITY

As one person said in the comments, "Told her not to chop onions when I am watching this."

Enjoy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJBLEPMcX2s&list=PLRQ2Nji4wVtov_e3kUH8AoT_dvm_xH4u-&index=62


A side note:  When my grandson Mark was five, he was in a sports center wrestling program.  His very first match was against a boy who had no arms and no legs.  Mark lost.  I don't think it was because he was surprised to have such an opponent, but because Mark couldn't figure where to grab the boy.  Plus, his opponent was really good!

Monday, November 6, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: ITSY BITSY TEENY WEENY YELLOW POLKA DOT BIKINI

Brian Hyland.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ge9Ou3-YyqU

INCOMING


  • "Jack Buchanan" (Stephen Mertz), Stone:  M.I.A. Hunter:  Invasion U.S.S.R.  Men's action adventure novel, the ninth in the series.  "MISSING:  Lee Daniels, american journalist stationed in Moscow.  The Soviets deny any involvement -- but the U.S. government knows better.  there's only one way to get Daniels out of Russia:  brute force.  And ex-Green Beret Mark Stone is just the man for the job."  Three novels in the series were co-written by Bill Crider and three were co-written by Joe Lansdale.  Evidently, Mike Newton also contributed to the series but I don't know which books he worked on.  I've enjoyed the books in the series that I have read.
  • Algis Budrys, editor, L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume XVII.  SF anthology with eighteen stories by winners and finalists in the annual writing contest, as well as illustrations by winners and finalists in the accompanying art contest.  Several essays are also included.  Traditionally, most of the stories printed in this series are (IMHO) range from so-so to moderately good, but the contest has given a number of respected writers their first opportunities to develop their craft.  This volume, from 2001, has no names that I recognized.  Oh, well.
  • Lee Child, Persuader.  A Jack Reacher thriller.  "Jack Reacher is the persuader.  An ex-military cop and the ultimate loner.  No family, no possessions.  No commitments, no fear.  Nothing -- except a strong sense of justice.  Which is why Reacher agrees to help a female agent caught in a death trap.  Why Reacher must outwit and outfight a criminal army.  Because once Reacher finds trouble, he cannot quit.  Not once.  Not ever."  Like so many others, I am a fan of Lee Child's books.  This one happens to be the only Jack Reacher novel I have not yet read.  After this, there be a long wait for me until a new Reacher is published.  Is that fair, I ask you?
  • Edmund Cooper, Sea-Horse in the Sky.  SF novel.  "Kidnapped!  Eight men and eight women, with curious bumps on the backs of their heads, and no memory of anything but an uninterrupted journey, a flight that never landed.  They emerged from their green plastic coffins one by one. into the sunlight of an endless alien plain.  Standing alone on either side of a short road that ended abruptly in grass and shrubs were a supermarket and a hotel...and nothing else.  Fortunately, the hotel had a limitless bar -- they were going to need it, because, although no one ever saw who stocked the groceries or changed the sheets, they did see other things.  Shocking things...frightening things...unbelievable things.  Some would die of it.  Some would go mad.  And some would find the truth."  Cooper, a fairly popular British writer, had a quarter of a century career that started in the mid-fifties, but is pretty much forgotten today.
  • Gordon R. Dickson, The Earth Lords.   Fantasy.  "Some call it Hell...A hidden labyrinth beneath the Canadian wilderness, where dwarfish Lords and Ladies ride humans like horses -- and plot the final downfall of mankind.  Bart Dyberg is a 'steed.' but one gifted with mental and physical abilities unsuspected by those who have enslaved him.  Soon, he vows, he will surprise the Lords and escape to the world above...If there's a world to go back to."  Dickson has always been a favorite.
  • Tom Godwin, The Space Barbarians.  SF novel, a sequel to Space Prison.  "In three bloody years of spacewar, the 'barbarians' of the hell-world Ragnarok had destroyed the Gem Empire. -- and freed the 'civilized' planets of Earth and Athena from their alien domination.  But the Earthenians feared and hated the men of Ragnarok and resented the superhuman strength and speed which had won their bloody victory.  And when a new threat from beyond the stars struck at Ragnarok and left it desolate, the 'barbarians' were strictly on their own -- abandoned to certain destruction by the rest of mankind!" 
  • Mick Herron, Dead Lions.  Crime/spy novel, winner of CWA's Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime novel of the Year.  ""London's Slough House is where the washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what's left of their careers.  The 'slow horses,' as they are called, have ll disgraced themselves in some way to get relegated here.  Maybe they messed up an op badly, or got in the way of an ambitious colleague.  Maybe they just got too dependent on the bottle -- not unusual in this line of work.  One thing these failed spies have in common, though, is they all want to be back in the action.  Now the slow horses have a chance at redemption.  An old cold war-era spy is found dead on a bus outside Oxford, far from his usual haunts.  As the agents dig into their fallen comrade's circumstances, they uncover a shadowy tangle of ancient Cold War secrets.  How many more people will have to die to keep those secrets buried?"
  • Patricia Moyes, Johnny UndergroundTwice in a Blue Moon, and Who Saw Her Die?  All Inspector Henry Tibbett mysteries.  In the first, "Emmy Tibbett goes to her RAF reunion with an inexplicable sense of foreboding.  As a naive nineteen-year-old auxiliary officer she had fallen in love with handsome pilot 'Beau' Guest.  After the reunion Chief Inspector Henry Tibbett suspects that his wife is on the brink of uncovering a dangerous secret but he can't prevent her from delving into a past that is dark with menace."  In the second, "When Susan Gardiner unexpectedly inherits an old country in outside London, she inherited a long-lost distant cousin.  A few years her senior and very attractive, Cousin James is also very attractive.  Soon love blooms.  But just as soon, murder enters the picture as customers of the inn's posh restaurant begin to die one by one."  And in the third, "An extravagantly iced cake, two dozen dark red roses and a case of vintage champagne, all gifts to celebrate Crystal Balaclava's seventieth birthday.  Strange that she should feel it necessary to invite Chief Inspector Henry Tibbett to join the party as her bodyguard.  Henry's scepticism turns to horror when Lady Balaclava drops dead in his arms, apparently poisoned."
  • Don Pendleton, Copp in Deep.  The third (of six) novels featuring PI Joe Copp.  "Joe Copp is hired by old buddy ex-cop Tom Chase to protect him from the FBI.  Chase is security chief for a defense contractor, and Uncle Sam is following him and setting up his executives for a sting.  Sure enough, two of them are stung.  Permanently.  And Chase is arrested as a spy.  Copp?  He's only running from the feds, busting KGB skulls, schmoozing with sexy women, rubbing elbows with traitors, and tripping over corpses while running for his life.  With his client under wraps, Copp is out in the cold, in deep, and getting deeper."  Pendleton was the creator of Mack Bolan, the Executioner, a men's action adventure hero whose adventures grew into a huge franchise, as below:
  • {"Don Pendleton"], Don Pendleton's The Executioner #226:  Red Horse (written by Will Murray) and #373:  Code of Honor (written by Keith A. R. DeCandido).  In the first, a series of firebombings in Boston are suspected to be the result of a gang turf war, but Bolan thinks differently -- the attacks are too professional, done with military precision.  In the second, an elite secret group of mercenaries begin targeting retired American servicemen, Stony Man, the secret group of commandos sanctioned by the President, sends Mack Bolan to deal with the problem.  Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan:  Moscow Massacre (The Executioner #92) (written by Stephen Mertz) has Bolan penetrating Russia to help an imperiled CIA mole in Moscow, and ending in a bloodbath in the heart of KGB high command.  Lastly, in Don Pendleton's Mack bola:  Stony Man II (written by Mel Odom), Stony Man must try to stop a war that could set world peace back generations when a Palestinian madman unleashes "the ultimate terror sweep."
  • Donald J. Pfeil, Voyage to a Forgotten Sun.  SF novel.  "'May you rot forever in your seventh hell!'  Trader Zim heard the sentence, but he didn't believe it -- 20 years in isolation on some god-forsaken Class IV planet.  Hadn't he been warned about the strict laws on Standra?  Didn't he know an underground smuggling operation was sure to be discovered?  Now he was doomed to rot in jail...unless he agreed to accompany the President of Earth back to his home planet.  The mission was fraught with unknown dangers, but a wily Trader could always think of something..."  Pfeil was the editor of of Vertex, "the slick science fiction magazine" that ran from 1973 to 1975.  Vertex evidently had enough money to attract name writers, but went from a "slick" magazine to a newspaper tabloid for its final three issues.
  • Jerry Pournelle, creator, War World, Volume IV:  Invasion.  SF anthology in the shared CoDominium universe.  This one has eight short stories with linking material.  This volume (and others in the series) was produced "with the editorial assistance of John F. Carr."  The War World anthologies ran to nine volumes, with ISFDb crediting Pournelle as editor of six of them; Carr edited an additional four volumes in the offshoot War World Central series.
  • John Maddox Roberts, Space Angel.  Sf novel.  "For Kelly, it was an impossible dream come true when he shipped out on the Space Angel.  Ship's boy was the most menial jog aboard, but it was excitement enough just to be in space.  Things became more exciting than even Kelly wanted when an unimaginably old and powerful entity commandeered the Space Angel and sent the freighter on an incredible mission to the center of the galaxy -- with two hereditary killers and a poetic crab added to the crew for extra interest!  Kelly knew that he would finish the trip as a seasoned spacer -- or a very dead one."  Besides science fiction, Roberts has written Conan pastiches and a well-regarded series of mysteries set in ancient Rome.
  • Fred Saberhagan, The White Bull.  SF novel.  "In the reign of Minos, King of the Cretans, the gods gave proof of their existence:  a bull-headed man accompanied by his bronze servitor strode forth from Neptune's realm.  At last the gods had removed the veil that separated them from their worshipers...or had they?  Strangely enough, the Minotaur forswears all claims to divinity -- and his metallic servant cannot speak at all.  Instead, he comes to the Greeks bearing gifts of alien knowledge.  But Daedelus at least will have cause to beware the teachings of...The White Bull."
  • Kathleen Sky, Ice Prison.  SF novel.  ''Mithras had been set up as a penal colony -- no one would have gone to such a frozen hell voluntarily.  Even five genertions later, no inhabitant could escape from Mithras alive.  And now, Howell discovered to his horror, the Confederation Colonial Service was using it as a dumping ground for its own troublemakers.  He was marroned on Mithras -- its new commandant, yet as much a prisoner as any convict.  And to add to his tribulations, the entire colony was being terrorized by a fourteen-year-old girl."  This one was published by Laser Books, a short-lived SF imprint of Harlequin (the romance people); the series was edited by Roger Elwood who, at one time, was thought to be the man who would ruin science fiction.
  • Richard S. Wheeler, An Obituary for Major Reno.  Biographical western.  "Marcus Reno is a pariah, a controversial figure accused of being responsible for the worst disaster ever to befall the army of the United States.  Thirteen years past, he was one of George Armstrong Custer's senior officers when Custer and over 200 men in his command were annihilated by Sioux and Cheyenne warriors above the Little Big Horn River in Montana Territory.  Now, in the spring of 1889, Major Reno is dying and wants to tell the real story of the Custer battle and wants his honor -- the most precious word in his vocabulary -- restored."  Few people can match Wheeler in the western field.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

STEREOTYPES -- FUNNY BECAUSE THEY ARE TRUE?

Katerina Vrana, a Greek-born, London stand-up comedian, reveals her plan for global domination in this TED talk.  global domination is just the tip of the iceberg.

Enjoy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0q9hn8hebw

HYMN TIME

Wayne Raney.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ro96cWTQdnw

Saturday, November 4, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: PERHAPS LOVE

There are some songs that are just about perfect.  This is one of them.  John Denver and Placido Domingo.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDra-5DG3JE

THE AVENGERS #1 (SEPTEMBER 1963)

The roster may have changed over the years but this is how it all started, courtesy of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  The Mighty Thor, Iron Man, Antman, the Wasp, and the Incredible Hulk join forces against Loki, the god of evil!

Enjoy.

https://archive.org/stream/avengers-001#page/n0/mode/2up

Friday, November 3, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: AS TEARS GO BY

Paul Anka introduces Brian Epstein who introduces Marianne Faithfull at her most stiff, stoic, and nervous best.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of21WYW5t5g

FORGOTTEN BOOK: TWO FABLES

Two Fables by Roald Dahl (1986)


This thin book containing two original stories was published by Viking UK, then by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, in honor of the author's seventieth birthday.  Neither Viking nor Farrar, Straus have reprinted the book.  To my knowledge, neither story has ever been reprinted in an anthology or in another collection of Dahl's short stories.  The stories were only two of three Dahl stories not included in the author's massive Collected Stories.  (The third was a very short deleted scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and I covered it here earlier this year.)

The first story, "The Princess and the Poacher," tells a tale of a remarkably ugly, remarkably strong young man named Hengist who refuses to follow his father's trade of basket-weaving.  Hengist was lonely and (being eighteen) horny:

"He was a pleasant enough fellow, there was no doubt about that, but there is a limit to the degree of ugliness any woman can tolerate in a man.  Hengist was well beyond that limit."

Hengist often roamed the wood alone and soon discovered that he had a talent for "moving so silently through the forest that he could come within arm's length of a timid creature like a hare or a deer before it was aware of his presence."  A talent, he discovered, that fit well with the trade of poacher.  But Hengist also grew cocky.  He began to poach in the daylight and he began to poach near the very walls of the king's castle.  So it was that one day when he was near the castle he came across the most beautiful girl in the kingdom while the king and his court were out chasing wild boar.  Suddenly the boar came racing out of the woods, chased by the king and his hunters.  The panicked animal with its razor sharp horns headed straight toward the girl.  Hengist leaped on the boar just before it could gore the girl, who happened to be the king's only daughter.

The king, so impressed with Hengist's valor in saving the princess, made him a count and showered riches upon him.  The king also noted the poacher's very ugly visage and took pity on him:  this poor guy would probably die a virgin with a mug like that.  So, with a typical (if that can be the word) Roald Dahl twist, the king made a very unusual proclamation -- from that day forward, Hengist has royal permission to ravish any women in the kingdom, with no caveats, and, yes, that even included the princess.

From there, the story continues along paths you may not expect.

The second tale, "The Princess Mammalia,"  features an ordinary princess who, on her seventeenth birthday, underwent a miraculous change:

"A magical transformation had taken place overnight and the dumpy little Princess had become a dazzling beauty.  I use the word 'dazzling' in its purest and most literal sense, for such a blaze of glory, such a scintillation of stars, such a blinding beauty shone forth from her countenance that when she went downstairs to open her presents an hour later, those who gazed upon her at close quarters had to screw up their eyes for fear the brilliance of it all might damages their retinas."

Such overwhelming beauty has its drawbacks, as Dahl gleefully goes on to show.  And isn't Mammalia a delightfully sexist name for such a beauty?

Two tales that only Roald Dahl could tell, full of wit and weirdness and joy.  For fans of this wonderful author, this book is a must.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: I WALK THE LINE

Johnny Cash.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lq0fUa0vW_E

THE LIFE OF RILEY: A SPICY BOOK

From June 9, 1950, Chester A. Riley reacts to My Lady Jezebel, a best-selling novel that is described as salacious and meretricious, when he discovers his seventeen-year-old daughter is reading it.  What Riley doesn't know is that his daughter has switched the book jacket with that of Lucy Lawrence, Campfire Girl to be sure that her younger brother doesn't read it.  When Riley invade's his daughter's room to inspect the book, he reads parts of the Lucy Lawrence book and decides the book was not spicy at all.  In fact, Riley is so impressed with the "clean" book, he decides to donate copies to a Sunday school, a local Catholic boys' club, and a Jewish youth center.  And things begin to go downhill.

This episode was adapted from one that first appeared on The Life of Riley television series in March of that year, with Jackie Gleason in the role of Riley.

Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDW5hm-hZsA

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: IT'S ALL OVER NOW

From the TAMI show, back when the Rolling Sones were young.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVTKWojoWlU

BAD JOKE WEDNESDAY

What if soy milk is just regular milk introducing itself in Spanish?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: THE WEREWOLF WATUSI

And you thought Bobby "Boris" Pickett was a one-hit wonder and you're right.  Nevertheless, you can see that he had range in his material.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md4wW-xPsR4

OVERLOOKED MOVIE: DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1920)

For your Halloween viewing pleasure, here's John Barrymore as Dr. Henry Jekyll.  No.  Wait. I mean here's John Barrymore as Mr. Edeward Hyde.  No.  He's Dr. Jekyll...wait, he's Hyde.  Er...Sweet mother of R. L. Stevenson, did I just give away a major plot point?  Please ignore all of the above.

Ahem.  Here's Nita Naldi in a flick from 1920.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjQaAK5Vof4

Monday, October 30, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: THEY SAY IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY

Why am I posting this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjF1bG5LUcs

INCOMING

Another week with no Incoming.  It seems that since I have been making a deliberate effort to reduce the number of books coming into my house, every other week I have no Incoming to report.  I'm not sure why it has worked out like that.

But...

I do have a belated Incoming to report.  How belated?  How does 71 years sound?

Today is my birthday and I think 71 is old enough to put me on the geezer bus.  I'm older than my father was when he died.  I'm older than my sister was when she died.  In fact I may be older than everyone else.  Except Crider -- that guy's older than dirt.

A lot has happened since I first came out among the top of the Baby Boom.  No flying cars, alas, but a bunch of other things.  When I was a kid, our television received just three channels -- local NBC, ABC, Educational Television outlets (this was before PBS).  Actually there may have been four since I'm not sure when Channel 9 out of Manchester, New Hampshire, began.  I distinctly remember the excitement when the local ABC station opened up.  Before that, it was radio, not that we listened to it that much except for weather reports from Boston's E. B. Rideout with his unique nasally voice (my father farmed, so weather reports were important).  We got our first television when I was four -- the first show he watched was Art Linkletter's House Party.  Those were the wild old days, before I settled in to a steady diet of Hopalong Cassidy (I even named a cow Lucky, after one of Hoppy's sidekicks).

We lived in a small town.  About 5000 people when I was born.  When I was in high school, the population had grown to over 25,000.  At one point it was the fastest growing town in the country.  And it was white and solid Yankee.  My father had to think for a second before calling some candies "chocolate babies" and saying "catch a tiger by the toe" in the eeny-meeny-miny-mo chant.  He had become a custom home building contractor, and once told me that he hoped a black family would not ask him to build a house in town because he was afraid of what that might do to his business; he would do it of course, he said, but to be the first person to break the color barrier would be a risky business move.  Thankfully, times changed quickly and the town changed with it.  Racism is still with us, sadly, but those who practice it are now firmly on the wrong side of history (and I include the alt-right and the neo-nationalist who seem to be enjoying a bright spurt but who will soon fizzle out into nothingness).  I should mention that a few decades before I was born, the first Catholic family moved into my home town -- something which pleased the local Ku Klux Klan (yes, we had them in New England, but they were long gone before I was born), because here was something they could get excited about.  Local lore has it that a cross was burned on their lawn -- evidently to no lasting effect because the vast majority of townspeople just wouldn't go along with that sort of antics.  Also, long before I was born, the town was staunchly Republican.  When one person changed her affliation to Democrat in a primary election because she supported one specific person, she was not allowed to change her status back to Republican; state law now mandated that the local Board of Election have at least one member of both parties -- since she was officially the only Democrat in town, she had to remain so and serve on the board.  Again times changed and when I was older, my home town tended to vote Democratic on local elections and Republican on state and national elections.

Over the years I have made it through the sexual revolution, Vietnam, economic ups and downs, civil rights, the computer and information explosion, abortion rights, gay rights, environmental rights, population explosions, and all manner of social and technological changes.  I went from solid Republican to wild-eyed liberal, flirting for a brief while as a Libertarian until I wised up.  I have gone from a firm belief in Christianity to a firm belief in mankind, and wonder if they might not be the same thing in essence.  I have survived Nixon and Reagan and both Bushes and may even survive Trump.  I pulled back the curtain to see each man behind it and found pettiness, bigotry, cruelty, and stupidity.  The Democrats were not much better.  Still I have faith and hope in the system because I have faith in us.

I'm certainly more mellow now.  I appreciate things much more.  I'm lucky that I have such a wonderful family.  I am grateful for all the people I have met along the way; each has had their own special spark of uniqueness that has had an impact, whether major or minor, upon me.  I'm thankful for animals (except for spiders -- burn them all with flamethrowers, I say!)  because they add so uch to the world and my life.  I am humbled by the vastness and complexity of the universe; the sky fills me with wonder.

I may revel in my snarkiness but my sense of humor is at its heart a reflection of my deep love for the world.

Astrology may be (and is) a steaming pile of male bovine excrement, but I am proud to be a Scorpio.

I am also proud to share my birthday with my wonderful niece Sarah, and with our dear friend Ellen  (who claims she's eighty but is actually younger than springtime), and with my high school classmate Pam.  I also share this day with Christopher Wren, John Adams, Richard Sheridan, Admiral Halsey, Ezra Pound, Charles Atlas, Ruth Gordon, Ruth Hussey, Fred Friendly, Louis Malle, Grace Slick, Henry Winkler, Andrea Mitchell, Harry Hamlin, Larry Wilmore, Nia Long, and (God help us!) Ivanka Trump.

Happy birthday to us all!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

5 SHORT HORROR STORIES...

...of 2 sentences each.


https://www.boredpanda.com/short-horror-stories-comics-jacob-andrews/

THE GOLGOTHA DANCERS

For your pre-Halloween entertainment, here's a creepy story by Manly Wade Wellman from Weird Tales, October 1937.


http://www.gutenberg.org/files/32580/32580-h/32580-h.htm

HYMN TIME

Tennessee Ernie Ford with the Jordanaires.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwCz_DqsWnk

Saturday, October 28, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: SHOUT

The Shangri-Las.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thEKxFNCuT4

FLYIN' JENNY #1 & #2 (1946 & 1947)

Flyin' Jenny was a newspaper comic strip by aviation artist Russell Keaton, who also knew how to draw a well-turned leg.  Jenny was a pretty blonde battle-hardened babe who could fly a plane with the best of them.  The strip started in October 1939 with the daily and Sunday strips carrying separate story lines.  Keaton died in 1945 at the all-too-young age of 35 from acute melanoma and, despite efforts to continue the strip by Marc Swayze and Glen Chaffin, the Keaton magic was gone and the comic strip died the following year.  Later in 1946, the small published Pentagon Press published the first of two issues of Flyin' Jenny, utilizing the original strips.

Enjoy.

Issue #1:

http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=62013


Issue #2:

http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=69976

Friday, October 27, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: JOHN DEERE GREEN

Joe Diffie.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gSJtYae8bQ

FORGOTTEN BOOK: THARKOL, LORD OF THE UNKNOWN

Tharkol, Lord of the Unknown  by Edmond Hamilton (1950)


Edmond Hamilton, pulp master extraordinaire, burst on the scientifiction (as opposed to science fiction) scene in 1926 for a career that lasted just over half a century.  His early stories gave him the nickname of "Worldwrecker" Hamilton because of the way he blithely destroyed planets with his purple prose.  His penchant for action, adventure, and super-science eventually brought him to the creation of Captain Future, one of the icons of the pulp SF field.  There was another to Hamilton, though, a thoughtful and literate side which appeared in his later career but had always -- as also with his wife, Leigh Brackett -- been lurking behind much of his fast-moving, pulse-pounding early fiction.

Tharkol, Lord of the Unknown, however, is pure escapist fiction.  First published in the third issue of Startling Stories (May 1939) under the title "The Prisoner of Mars," the tale was published in paperback form by Consul Books in Australia; as far as I can tell, this was the only book publication of the novel.  Also, as far as I can tell, the book's title is virtually meaningless.  The story is not about Tharkol and nowhere was he called the Lord of the Unknown, but it's an interesting title, don't you think?

Thirty years previous, a naked and wounded man was found wandering in a Canadian forest.  The man had no memory of his past and, as it turned out, would never regain it.  The man was taught English, given the name John Crain, and eventually moved to the United States, married, and had a son, Philip Crain.  As the novel opens, Philip and a few friends are listening to a Mercury-Theater-War-of-the-Worlds type radio program, when Philip suddenly has a panic attack and vague...memories(?) of an alien invasion.  Philip's father, dead these past five years, turns out to have been an alien -- Tharkol, King of Mars, sent to Earth on a doomed mission to save his dying planet by robbing Earth of its oceans.  Martians, by the way, have a mild sort of racial memory that is passed on genetically, thus Philip's vague memories.

Philip and his friends, thinking John Crain might have been a downed airplane pilot, journey to the Canadian wilds in an effort to find the remains of his father's ship.  What they find is a type of spaceship and a matter transmitter which brings Philip to Mars.  With the knowledge that the matter transmitter works, the long-delayed plan to rob Earth of its water goes ahead.  Because Mars is losing its water, the population has been reduced to only a million persons residing in the five remaining Martian cities, while millions more Martian have been placed into a mindless stasis to ration the planets dwindling resource.

Eager for the planet to be revived are the revered scientist, Dandor, and the current king of Mars, Lanu, who happens to be Crain's half brother and identical look-alike...and the plot begins to take a Graustarkian turn.  Naturally, there are evil people plotting to take the throne.

The Martians had once developed amazing robots, but the fear that the robots might rebel against them convinced the Martians to destroy all of the robots except for one -- Kro, a giant robot given to Dandor out of respect to Dandor's contributions to science.  One robot that was assumed destroyed was The Brain, a super-thinking machine whose intellect caused it to disdain the Martian Race.  (The Brain is a robot because the concept of a supercomputer was not around in 1939.)  The Brain, of course, was not destroyed but is now working with the bad guys.

Tharkol, Lord of the Unknown is rip-snorting planetary adventure, filled with marvelous inventions, ray guns, evil plots, danger, robots, giant mechanical worms, insurrection, mistaken motives, impending doom, treason, forbidden love, a race against time, and much more.  At the center is conflicted Philip Crain, half-Martian and half-Earthling.  No matter which side he chooses, the other side is doomed.  Or is it?  Can Crain beat almost impossible odds to save both planets?  Crain has a plan that might work (at least in the days of pre-ecological awareness, not so much in the 21st century).

They seldom write them like this nowadays.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSIC: BIG MAMA THORNTON

Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton (1926-1984) was one of the great rhythm and blues singers who was unfortunately overshadowed by popular covers of her work.  She was the original artist to record "Hound Dog"  but some guy from Tupelo covered it four years later with much greater success.  She wrote and recorded "Ball and Chain" but it's Janis Joplin's version of the song most people remember.  Such seemed to be the lot of many black performers of the time.  A heavy drinker, she was found dead from heart and liver disease in her hotel room in 1984; the once 350-pound woman weighed only 95 pounds when she passed.  Her powerful voice, gospel influences, and determination to make every song her own have earned her a solid place in the blues and rock and roll pantheon.


"Everything Gonna Be Alright"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5alA8gpxQmE&list=PLm7kCQlhrsUuaTtI0fxuG1Y1kJh0dJJM0&index=1

'Little Red Rooster"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYaCb0ZGu3Q&list=PLm7kCQlhrsUuaTtI0fxuG1Y1kJh0dJJM0&index=3

"Ball and Chain"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWe4uq6WkK0&list=PLm7kCQlhrsUuaTtI0fxuG1Y1kJh0dJJM0&index=4

"My Heavy Load"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUs6ynWNryg&list=PLm7kCQlhrsUuaTtI0fxuG1Y1kJh0dJJM0&index=5

"Mixed Up Feeling"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ptN-bfuqhU&list=PLm7kCQlhrsUuaTtI0fxuG1Y1kJh0dJJM0&index=6

"Rock Me"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXoRljXZwK0&list=PLm7kCQlhrsUuaTtI0fxuG1Y1kJh0dJJM0&index=7

"Big Mama's Bumble bee Blues"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fQVGH5mW44&list=PLm7kCQlhrsUuaTtI0fxuG1Y1kJh0dJJM0&index=15

"Tom Cat"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEUH6_IJJbY&list=PLm7kCQlhrsUuaTtI0fxuG1Y1kJh0dJJM0&index=22

"Wade in the Water"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NriDdZb--I&list=PLm7kCQlhrsUuaTtI0fxuG1Y1kJh0dJJM0&index=19

 "School Boy"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQ1SPhXWTgo&list=PLm7kCQlhrsUuaTtI0fxuG1Y1kJh0dJJM0&index=23

"Don't Talk Back'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i55d1RykMeY&list=PLm7kCQlhrsUuaTtI0fxuG1Y1kJh0dJJM0&index=46

"Hound Dog"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoHDrzw-RPg

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: GENTLE ON MY MIND

Glen Campbell performs a classic John Hartford song.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETkzK9pXMio

DARK FANTASY: RENDEZVOUS WITH SATAN

Here's another old-time radio show for your pre-Halloween entertainment.  Dark Fantasy was a short-lived anthology show from NBC, lasting only 31 episodes.  "Rendezvous with Satan" aired on May 29, 1942 and starred Ben Morris and Fred Wayne.  The original script was by Scott Bishop.  Tom (not the singer/songwriter) Paxton announced the program.

Enjoy...with a little frisson of horror.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b11qsNF30jk

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: TRAIN KEPT A ROLLING

The Yardbirds.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd1gRHk28IE

BAD JOKE WEDNESDAY

So why are the last four letters in the word "queue" silent?  I think they are just waiting their turn.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: THE DOLPHINS

Fred Neil, Joni Mitchell, and Debbie Anderson.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uYjV6fJA44

FORGOTTEN FILM: THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1920)

Here's another one for Halloween:  a silent film classic of German Expressionism. 

What is the line between reality and fantasy?  Between insanity and sanity?  Perhaps this film will answer those questions for you.

Enjoy, even though this way may lead to madness.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuocVLKdSqQ

Monday, October 23, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: MARIE LAVEAU

Bobby Bare with a song about the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpZzehuWdM4

INCOMING


  • Martin Delrio, Spider-Man Super Thriller:  Midnight Justice.  Comic book tie-in Ya novel.  "Venom challenges Spider-Man to a deadly midnight showdown, at Manhattan's criminal-court building, in the middle of the worst snowstorm of the century.  It's a brutal no-holds-barred contest, in which all the advantages seem to lie with Venom.  Spider-Man must bag the crazed villain, or go down in the attempt."  Venom, for those who don't know, is a deadly alien symbiote, this time using Eddie Brock as its human host.  In more recent times, Venom has merged with Flash Thompson to become a sort of hero.  I have one question, though:  Just when did a 144-page story become a "super thriller"?
  • Christopher Golden, Spike & Dru:  Pretty Maids All in a Row.  Television (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) tie-in novel.  "It's 1940, and europe is ravaged by World War II -- an ideal environment for demon paramours Spike and Drusilla.  The anniversary of Dru's resurrection as a vamp impends, and Spike wants to celebrate.  what better gift than Freya's Strand -- a powerful necklace rumored to allow its wearer to shape-shift at will?  Spike learns of a demon named Skrymir, who claims to possess the bauble and is willing to trade.  Spike's task is to infiltrate the Watcher's Council headquarters and get his hands on the list of young women in training to take over as Slayer should they be called.  In exchange for Freya's Strand, Spike must kill the reigning Slayer, a brazen young woman named Sophie, as well as the Slayers-in-Waiting.  And if he succeed, it could mean the end of the Chosen One -- all of the chosen Ones -- forever..."  I'm a Buffy fan and a Christopher Golden fan, so I'm happy.
  • Donald Hamilton, editor, Iron Men and Silver Stars.  The 1967 Western Writers of america anthology, with eleven stories by Carter Travis Young, Tom W. Blackburn, Elmer Kelton, Brian Garfield, Todhunter Ballard, Lin Searles, John Prescott, Wayne D. Overholser, Luke Short, Thomas Thompson, and Donald Hamilton.  A great line-up and, I'm sure, some pretty great stories.
  • Phil Hardwick, Mississippi Mysteries #3:  Captured in Canton.  Mystery novella.  "The nationally renowned Canton Flea Market was the destination of the pilot who crashed his plane in nearby Barnett Reservoir.  But divers couldn't find his body or the priceless cargo he was carrying.  Jack Boulder, Mississippi's premier investigator, is called on to sort out this tangled web of greed and ghosts, but he must avoid becoming one himself in the process."  This series has reached ten volumes so far, each set in a different Mississippi town.  This copy was signed and inscribed to the previous owner.
  • Ernest Haycox, The Wild Bunch.  Western.  "There he was, Theo McSween, the man he had hunted so long, the man he had come to kill.  and now McSween lay dying in front of him, his body ripped by pain, his voice thick with death.  But there still was strength enough in the man to breathe out a curse, just before his body ceased to stir --"'you'll be in hell...a long time...before you die.'  The curse came true with the shocking speed of a .45.  And Frank Goodnight found himself the target for the fires of hell that burst from the guns of two gangs of cattle thieves.  He had hunted down a Nevada killer -- now they were hunting him."
  • Nancy Holder, Buffy the Vampire Slayer:  The Book of Fours.  Television tie-in novel.  "From a place of nightmares -- which Buffy and Faith share -- a terrible evil invades Sunnydale, setting off disaster.  Clearly, the big evil is linked to the Slayers' nightmares, which revolve around four figures:  one burning, one dripping wet, one covered in mud, one shrouded in windswept linen.  Each carries a box of grafted skin and bone.  Giles learns that the last slayer to encounter a similar container was India chosen -- Buffy's immediate predecessor."  Did I mention that I'm a Buffy fan?
  • K. W. Jeter, Star Wars:  Slave Ship.  Movie franchise tie-in novel, Book 2 of The Bounty Hunter Wars.  "He's both feared and admired, respected and despised.  Boba Fett is the galaxy's most successful bounty hunter.  Now he finds himself the hunted in the oldest game of all:  survival of the fittest."  The Star Wars universe keeps getting bigger and bigger and I'm having a hard time keeping up -- and, in some cases, wanting to keep up.
  • John Vornholt, Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel:  Seven Crows.  Television mash-up tie-in novel.  "In a sleepy little town on the border between Arizona and Mexico, Agent Riley Finn and his operative wife, Sam, have tracked down an international smuggling ring involving vampires.  surprisingly the call for reinforcements is answers by Buffy Summers and the atoning vampire Angel."  Did I mention that I'm a Buffy fan?

Saturday, October 21, 2017

SOME OLD MYSTERIES SOLVED AND URBAN MYTHS OVERTURNED

Moving stones, hobbits, fairy stones, Anastasia, lights on Ceres, Nazca lines, and more...

As you can tell from many of the comments, the explanations given here are in dispute by many.  Oh, well...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_8wosB8w_A

HYMN TIME

A bit of Southern bluegrass gospel from The Bishops.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDl-FWhe650

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: MAGIC CARPET RIDE

Steppenwolf.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtkP5gTX6Hc

SMASH COMICS #8 (MARCH 1940)

You got your dime's worth with this comic -- 68 pages and at least twelve stories and a number of fillers.


  • The Black X battles espionage in war-torn France (with great art by Will Eisner)
  • Detective (or is it defective?) Philpott Veep solves the case of the Signs and Shadows
  • When crooks throw a ringer into the big hockey game at Cliffside, it's up to Chip Chance to make things right
  • Abdul the Arab, son of Ali Bey, is called upon to solve the mystery of stolen oil in the persian Gulf
  • Captain Cook of Scotland Yard tackles The Case of the Stolen Bullion
  • "Sportraits" features a look at bobsled driver Bucky Wells, record holder for the Lake Placid course
  • Henry Hazzard and His Iron Man go after "Batzi" sabotage  (Really?  Batzis?  And their leader Hitlin?  Time to grow some, Smash Comics.  And could this Iron Man have been an influence on Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's hero of the same name for Marvel comics?  At least Tony Stark didn't have to deal with Batzis.)
  • Archie O'Toole, the king of Pyromania, wants to make his land a perfect country; it doesn't work (again, written and drawn by Will Eisner)
  • Chic Carter, Ace Reporter, gets the lowdown on the curse of the Star of Egypt diamond
  • The Invisible Hood goes after the Voodoo Master
  • Flash Fulton and Andy search the Amazon jungle for missing pilot Roger Hart
  • John Law, Scientective, (he's both a noted scientist and a lawyer) continues his crusade against The Avenger,who has targeted thirteen prominent and wealthy men
  • Wun Cloo, the Defective Detective, has to wrestle the great champion Mugwa in order to win the $100,000 prize money needed to save the town from bankrupcy
  • When an enemy dirigible bombs and destroys the Tennessee Valley Dam, it's time for Wings Wendall of the Military Intelligence to jump in
  • As well as a few more features and stories to fill out the issue

Like I said, a bargain.  And it doesn't even have to cost that dime.

Enjoy!



http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=69940&b=i

Friday, October 20, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: CATCH THE WIND

Donovan and Crystal Gayle.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMknrmuDD0o

FORGOTTEN BOOK: CHASING THE BEAR

Chasing the Bear:  A Young Spenser Novel by Robert B. Parker (2009)


Spenser (no first name) is the Boston P.I. featured in 40 novels by Robert B. Parker, as well as six (and counting?) novels by Ace Atkins, who continued the series after Parker's death in 2010.  As the subtitle hints, Chasing the Bear may have been planned as the first in a series of 'Young Spenser" books (perhaps along the the lines of the "Young Jack" and "Jack:  The Early Years" books F. Paul Wilson wrote about his protagonist, Repairman Jack), but the author never go around to writing more.  It's just as well.

Parker may have a lot of faults as a writer and the Spenser books can be extremely irritating (I should know, having finally finished the entire Spenser oeuvre this week), but the books are readable and entertaining.  Thirty-four years after publishing his first novel, Parker branched out into YA fiction, first with Edenville Owls (a sports novel), followed by 2008's The Boxer and the Spy (about teenagers and the drug scene), and finally with this one.  I found Edenville Owls to be forgettable; The Boxer and the Spy to be a fairly decent read; and this one...?

Chasing the Bear has a lot going for it and a good deal against it.  In it Spenser is 14-years-old, going on 15, and is being raised by his father and his mother's two brothers (Spenser's mother died in childbirth).  The setting, although never spelled out in the book, is Wyoming.  The three adults raising him are trying to instill in the boy what it means to be a man and why one should never shirk responsibility.  These lessons form the basis of the adult Spenser's code of honor and this book uses them like a trudgeon.  (Also, the linking material in this book has the adult Spenser reminiscing about his youth to the annoyingly perfect Susan Silverman, the love of his life. I truly believe that every reader of the Spenser books must have asked him(or her)self, Why?  Anyway, Susan reinforces Spenser's worldview with pithy psychological insights about how these experiences worked to form the adult Spenser.)

Back to young Spencer.  His friend Jeannie comes from an abusive home.  Her mother had finally divorced her drunken father, which the man did not appreciate.  Spencer sees the father's truck going down the rode and Jeannie is in the passenger seat, panicked and mouthing, "Help.  Help me."  Going to the authorities would waste time and allow Jeannie's father to get away, so Spenser follows the truck on his bicycle.  After a bit of harrowing derring-do, young Spenser rescues Jeannie.  She is so grateful she falls for him.  He declines her advances because 1) he doesn't know what to do, 2) he only wants to be friends with her, and 3) even at this young age, he subconsciously knows that he is seeking his soulmate Susan.

So Jeannie agrees to just be friends, while remaining hopeful that Spenser's gonads will one day allow them to go beyond that.  Jeannie has a friend in school -- a quiet Mexican boy -- who is being bullied by the bigger kids, including some of the white kids on Spenser's football team.  Spencer, quixotic from the git-go, agrees to help stop the bullying.  There's more preaching on what it means to be a man.  (For one thing, being a man doesn't include bigotry -- thus paving the way for Spenser's later friendship with characters like Hawk, Chollo, Lee Farrell, and others.)

So there's a heavy load of preaching, not much action, and the exasperating Susan, yet somehow Parker makes it all readable -- as he has done with every piece of fiction he has written*


     *That's a lie.  It should read:  "with every piece of fiction he has written with the sole exception being 1983's nauseating Love and Glory."  When waterboarding didn't work at Abu Ghraib, they gave the prisoners copies of Love and Glory.  That's how bad that novel is!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: CHANGES

Written by Phil Ochs, this is one of my favorite songs, here performed by Jim and Jean.  Jim Glover met a young Phil Ochs at Ohio State, where he got Ochs interested in folk music and taught him to play the guitar.  They briefly formed a folk duo called "Singing Socialists."  Glover moved to New York, met and fell in love with Jean Ray.  they were featured a few times on Art Linkletter's television program, probably because Jean's mother was Linkletter's secretary;  their first issued recording was on a compilation album title Jack Linkletter Presents a Folk Festival in 1963.  When Phil Ochs moved to New York the next year, he stayed with the couple, who then introduced him to his future wife, Alice Skinner.  Jim and Jean issued three albums; their career evidently ended when their marriage did, although they did reunite thirty years later for a single performance in 2006.  Jean Ray died in 2007; Jim Glover now lives in Florida and has long been a peace activist.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELvnUcGPkTE

ESCAPE: ANCIENT SORCERIES

The February 15, 1948 episode of Escape presented an adaptation of Algernon Blackwood's classic horror story "Ancient Sorceries."  Paul Frees stars as Arthur Llewellyn, a man whom people recognize in a Welsh town where he had never been before.  Also featured are Kay Brinker, Ann Morrison, and -- playing double duty on this show as both a cast member and the show's announcer -- William Conrad.  Produced by William N. Robson, directed by Norman McDonnell, and adapted by Les Crutchfield, the story was considerably shortened and altered to fit into Escape's half hour format.

Time to shiver:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJLywnQsj9g&index=100&list=PLYO82KWcAA-tz9AxyxFCKriALtLQA2u_V


For those interested in Blackwood's original story, it was the second story in his collection John Silence, Physician Extraordinay, at the link below:


http://www.gutenberg.org/files/49222/49222-h/49222-h.htm

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: END OF THE LINE

The Traveling Wilburys.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMVjToYOjbM

BAD JOKE WEDNESDAY

"My roommate is super arrogant.  She always refers to her breasts as 'the twins,' which I think is funny, because I've seen the twins, and they're fraternal." -- Jamie lee

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: SHE CAME IN THROUGH THE BATHROOM WINDOW

Joe Cocker, with a great Beatles cover.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsA7lpzffEE

OVERLOOKED FILM: NOSFERATU (1922)

Halloween is two weeks away, so it's a good time to look at this classic take on Dracula.  For me, Max Schreck is the greatest vampire in cinematic history -- his portrayal sparked rumors that he was a real vampire, something that formed the basis of  2000's Shadow of the Vampire with Willem Defoe.  In reality, Schreck (the word means "terror" in German) was a successful stage actor in Germany who drifted into silent films and survived the advent of talkies until his death in 1936.  Schreck was well-known for his innovative use of costume and make-up.

A surprising number of people have never seen Nosferatu.  It is one of the best films ever made and is a striking example of German expressionism in silent film.  This print has the added benefit of a great score.

Enjoy.  Or shiver.  Or both.

https://archive.org/details/Nosferatu1922

Monday, October 16, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: JUG BAND MUSIC

The Lovin' Spoonful.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijSlzKr30b4

INCOMING


  • Stuart Kaminsky, Behind the Mystery.  Seventeen interviews with well-known American mystery writers:  Sue Grafton, Elmore Leonard, Donald Westlake, Faye and Jonathan Kellerman, Martin Cruz Smith, Robert B. Parker, Lisa Scottoline, James Lee Burke, Tony Hillerman, Ann Rule, Mickey Spillane, Michael Connelly, Evan Hunter/Ed McBain, Sara Paretsky, Joseph Wambaugh, Lawrence Block, and John Jakes.  A great line-up of authors (half a dozen of whom are no longer with us), interesting interviews, wonderful (and multiple) photographs of each subject (along with pics of homes, work spaces, pets, etc.) by Laurie Roberts, all in all a very attractive book (marred by at least one glaring inaccuracy/typo I spotted while thumbing through the book).  A keeper.
  • Robert B. Parker, Rough Weather.  A Spenser novel.  "Heidi Bradshaw is wealthy, beautiful, and well connecte -- and she needs Spenser's help.  in a most unlikely request, Heidi, a notorious gold digger recently separated from her husband, recruits the Boston P.I. to accompany her to he private island, Tashtego, for her daughter's wedding.  Spenser is unsure of what his role as personal bodyguard will entail, but he consents when it's decided that he can bring his beloved Susan Silverman along.  It should be a straightforward job for Spenser:  show up for appearances, have some drinks, and spend some quality time with Susan.  Yet when his old nemesis Rugar -- the Gray Man -- arrives on Tashtego, Spenser realizes that something is amiss.  with a hurricane-level storm brewing outside, the Gray Man jumps into action, firing fatal shots into the crowd of guests and kidnapping the bride -- but Spenser knows that the sloppy guns-for-hire abduction is not Rugar's style."  I've been catching up on Parker and Spenser recently.  Despite the fact that Susan is annoying and Spenser is a bit too-too, I've been enjoying the read-a-thon.  I'll probably wrap up the entire series over the next week.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

HOP O' MY THUMB

Two different edition of Charles Perrault's classic children's story with interesting illustrations.  No dates of publication are given but it's safe to assume it was before my time.  The second appears to be from the 1880s.  The first is filed under "filicide."  Fairy tales were much tougher back then.


https://archive.org/details/hopomythumbperra00perriala

https://archive.org/details/hopomythumb00perriala

HYMN TIME

The Man in Black rocking a gospel song.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYKARgvqXj0

Saturday, October 14, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: MR. TAMBOURINE MAN

From when you and I were young,Maggie...here's Bob Dylan.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeP4FFr88SQ

WHITE CHIEF OF THE PAWNEE INDIANS (1951)

Historically, Major George W. Lillie (1860-1942) was the man known as "Pawnee Bill."  A brief look at Wikipedia tells me nothing about any military service he might have had, nor where he got the title Major.  In 1879, when he was nineteen, he was working as an interpreter at the Pawnee Indian agency in Indian Territory.  At age 24 he was a Pawnee interpreter at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and it was there that he was first called Pawnee Bill. In 1888, he and his wife started the Pawnee Bill Historic Wild West show, which lasted for twenty years when he joined forces with his old employer Buffalo Bill to form the Two Bills Show.  Lillie had a number of various business interests, much of which rested on his Pawnee Bill reputation and that reputation appears to rest more on image than on any Old West activities.

In the comic book world, Avon Comics published White Chief of the Pawnee Indians, based on Major Lillie/Pawnee Bill.  Beyond the name and the long hair and mustache, that's probably where the resemblance ends.

The comic book features a three-chapter story.  The introduction to Chapter One tells us: 

     Pawnee Bill:  A major in the U.S. Cavalry, hunter, miner and scout, he respected and was respected by the Indians!  As white chieftain of the Pawnee tribe, this man lived the legends that grew up around his colorful exploits!  He typified the Old West, and is best remembered for his part in the --- "Fight for Oklahoma"

And the intro to Chapter Two:

     Pawnee Bill has turned the knife of Gray Wolf aside, and has won victory, where before there was only defeat!  But, Gray Wolf will not forget, and between this renegade Pawnee chief, and Pawnee Bill's deadly enemies, the Daltons, he will one day taste the full bitter sting of. --- "Gray Wolf's Revenge" --- !

Which brings us to the final chapter:

     The Daltons have failed to kill Pawnee Bill, but they must try again and succeed, or lose Oklahoma's rich grazing lands for their employers, the powerful cattlemen!  And as fire -- destruction -- and death sweep the range, Pawnee Bill and his friends fight the nightmarish terror created by --- "The Nightriders"

Phew!  Can't get much more Wild West than that.

Also included in this issue is "Prisoners," an action-packed story featuring "the frontier's most famous scout," who also happens to be a well-endowed, raven-haired beauty.

Enjoy.


http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=22531

Friday, October 13, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: BLUE ON BLUE

Bobby Vinton, bringing back memories of 1963.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDvuLJk9Sjc

FORGOTTEN BOOK: PAST TIMES

Past Times by Poul Anderson (1984)


Poul Anderson (1926-2001) had a remarkable 55 year career:  a seven-time Hugo winner and a three-time Nebula winner, as well as a four-time Prometheus winner.  He was a SFWA Grand Master, A Gandolf Grand Master of Fantasy, and has been inducted in to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.    Although best known for his science fiction, Anderson also wrote fantasy, mysteries, historical fiction, and nonfiction.  I can't count the number of books and short stories he published over the years, almost all of them eminently readable.  His stories, always thoughtful and logically drawn, often reflected social and political concerns, often clothed with blazing adventure or sly humor. 

During the Eighties and Nineties, both Tor and Baen published a number of collections of Anderson's stories, mixing both previously collected and uncollected tales.  One of these, Past Times, collected a seven time travel stories and one essay.  Time travel, of course, was one of Anderson's favorite themes.

There's not a loser in the bunch.  One I particularly liked, dating from 1953, was "The Nest."  It opens with a Cro-Magnon who, while riding his iguandon during the Oligocene, rescues a naked girl from a Nazi.  Soon we are thrust in a tale of political intrigue in a land populated with warriors, criminals, and mercenaries from every era of the human race through to the 22nd century -- Huns, Goths, Mongols, Nazis, Roundheads, Confederate rebels, even a beautiful Martian Communist.  It's a wildly logical sword-and-machine gun tale of super-science that has to be read to be believed.

Another one I loved was "The Little Monster," about a twelve-year-old boy named Jerry (such a noble name, don't you think?  I wonder why I liked this one so much.) who is accidentally thrust 1,500,000 years into the past, where he becomes the first (and perhaps only) to come across a small tribe of pithecanthropuses. The sections of the story from the tribe's point of view are told in short, primitive bursts; interestingly, the more we get into the story, the sections from Jerry's point of view begin to be told in the same manner, creating an effect that becomes more obvious once Jerry is returned to his own time.  The plot and its ending are fairly common in science fiction, but Anderson makes it powerful and effective through his approach.

The contents:

  • "Wildcat" (originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1958)
  • "Welcome" (originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1960)
  • "The Nest" (originally published in Science Fiction Adventures, July 1953)
  • "Eutopia" (originally published in Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison, 1967)
  • "The Little Monster" (originally published in Science Fiction Adventure from Way Out, edited by Roger Elwood, 1973)
  • "The Light" (originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction, March 1957)
  • "The Discovery of the Past" (essay original to this collection, although "a small part of this essay was published in Profanity magazine, [copyright] 1977 by Bruce Pelz")
  • "Flight to Forever" (originally published in Super Science Stories, November 1950)

If you are a fan of great science fiction or of Poul Anderson*, you owe it to yourself to pick up this book.  Reasonably priced copies are available through the usual internet sources.


* A redundancy.  Fans of great science fiction are fans of Poul Anderson.  I really didn't have to tell that, did I?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: MONTANA

Subversive in many ways, Frank Zappa was first and foremost a major talent.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smZA9Jv3qH0

THE ADVENTURES OF HORATIO HORNBOWER: HORNBLOWER DEALS WITH A MAD KING

On July 7, 1952, Michael Redgrave began his run as C. S. Forester's popular British naval hero.  The radio program ran to July 17, 1953, for a total 52 episodes.

Hornblower's fictional career began (although not in order of publication) as a Royal Navy midshipman during the Napoleonic War, eventually rising to Admiral of the Fleet.  His adventures ran through ten complete novels, one unfinished novel, six short stories, and one nonfiction "companion."  His stirring adventures have thrill readers and audiences throughout the world.  Hornblower has influenced later literary characters such as Bernard Cornwell's Richard Sharpe, Patrick O'Brien's Jack Aubrey, Douglas Reeman's Richard Bolitho, and Dudley Pope's Lord Rampage.  In the science fictional world of Star Trek, both James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard were influenced by Hornblower, as were other science fictional characters such as A. Bertram Chandler's John Grimes, Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan, David Feintuch's Nicholas Seafort, and David Weber's Honor Harrington.  I'm sure there are many other literary character who owe a tip of the hat to Forester's character.

Your journey through Horatio Hornblower's career should begin with the first episode, at the link below.

It's time to set sail, head to sea, and enjoy.


https://archive.org/details/Horatio_Hornblower

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: YEARS AGO

From May 24, 1933, the last recording of Jimmie Rodgers, "The Singing Brakeman."  Rodgers passed away two days later.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5apwCpkBSsc

BAD JOKE WEDNESDAY

Watson:  "Good heavens, Holmes!  It's just a head!  What happened to the body?...And, look!  Some fiend cut the nose off his head!  How can we identify the corpse?"

Holmes:  "Nobody knows, Watson, nobody knows."

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: DEAREST

From 1957, here's Mickey and Sylvia.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPD4QDW80dc

OVERLOOKED FILM: THE ELECTRIC HOUSE (1922)

There were a lot of great comedians in the silent film era, but, for my money, few could top Buster Keaton.  His timing and pacing were impeccable.  His mild manner belied his athleticism.  His deadpan reactions were always perfection.  And he was funny.  Very funny.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, the introduction of the talkies did not slow him down.  His career in film lasted nearly fifty years, from his first short in 1917 to his final (and wonderful) performance in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1966, the year he passed away.

In The Electric House Keaton plays a botany student who is mistakenly given a degree in electrical engineering and things go downhill from there.  Keaton's real-life parents and sister play his parents in sister in the film.  Also featured are Virginia Fox (soon to become the wife of Darryl F. Zanuck), Laura La Varnie (Mickey, Raggedy Rose, Who's Your Friend), Steve Murphy (The Circus, Rolling Stone, The Fighting Skipper), and Joe Roberts (The Paleface, Little Lord Fauntleroy, The Misfit) -- of the four, only La Varnie made it past the silent era, and that for a very small part in one picture in 1930.  The cast knew how to put together a silent film comedy, especially under Keaton's direction.

Enjoy this one.  You know you need a laugh.


https://archive.org/details/BusterKeatonTheElectricHouse

Monday, October 9, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: BLUE BAYOU

Linda Ronstadt.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7UBpkw1elg

INCOMING


  • Erin Blakemore, The Heroine's Bookshelf.   Nonfiction, twelve essays on remarkable women in literature.  Each woman is categorized according to their strength:  Self (Lizzy Bennett, Pride and Prejudice). Faith (Janie Crawford, Their Eyes Were Watching God), Happiness (Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables), Dignity (Celie, The Color Purple), Family Ties (Francie Nolan, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), Indulgence (Claudine, Colene's Claudette novels),  Fight (Scarlet O'Hara, Gone With the Wind), Compassion (Scout Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird), Simplicity (Laura Ingalls, The Long Winter), Steadfastness (Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre), Ambition (Jo March, Little Women), and Magic (Mary Lennox, The Secret Garden).  All of which leads me to the shameful confession that I have read none of these books.  Yet.
  • Gene DeWeese, Murder in the Blood.  Mystery. "When local history teacher Lou Cameron disappears, Farrell County Sheriff Frank Decker is puzzled by accusations of embezzlement, even if they do come from wealthy and influential Nathaniel Wetherstone, whose family owned half of Farrell County for a century.  Was Cameron -- who moonlighted as an insurance salesman -- stealing moony from Wetherstone's company?  Decker doesn't think so, especially when Cameron's car is found submerged with the body of a stranger inside.  But two questions trouble Decker:  who is the dead man and where is Cameron?  The answers lead Decker on a strange and twisted trail back into the Wetherstone family secrets, where a century-old murder holds the key to the scandalous secrets lurking in Decker's backyard -- as well as a face-off with a killer that proves famliy ties can bind in sinister and shocking ways."  DeWeese also wrote gothic novels as "Jean Deweese" and tie-in novels for various franchises, including two Man from U.N.C.L.E novels, in collaboration and under the joint pseudonym "Thomas Stratton.T
  • Jason Nickles, Immortal.  Horror novel.  "It was the perfect replica of a vampire.  a harmless relic from a forgotten carnival brought to New York for study.  Archaeologists called it a charlatan's toy.  David Kane called it...Master.  In a city that never sleeps, he has found the perfect place to initiate the innocent.  Now, a lonely woman wanders the streets offering salvation from the open wounds in her wrists,,,a man awakens to a room of freshly mauled corpses..an executive spends his lunch hour feasting on the flesh of strangers.  Welcome to New York."

Sunday, October 8, 2017

RALPHIE MAY

ComedianRalphie May died this week at the all too young age of 43.  Friends described him as a genuinely nice person.  And a very funny one.  Here, he tells about the time he and his son attended a gay wedding.  Be warned:  This one is NSFW.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBpbYKd_QfI

HYMN TIME

Ralph Stanley and friends.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzL7buTLMTQ

Saturday, October 7, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: OLD BUTTERMILK SKY

From 1946, a great song from Hoagy Carmichael.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOgrjd9NKF0

COMICS COMPILATION: CAPTAIN CONDOR

Captain Condor, brave spaceship pilot in the 3000 who "was outlawed for opposing the dictator who ruled the planets," was created for the weekly British boy's newspaper Lion in 1952 as their answer to Dan Dare, a popular character in rival paper The Eagle.  Condor was the creation of writer Frank S. Pepper (1910-1988), who went on to co-create the well-known sports strip Roy of the Rovers for Tiger.  (Ironically, Pepper also wrote for Dan Dare.)  Ronald Forbes contributed the first artwork for the strip.  Captain Condor ran for 177 issues -- through September 10, 1955, then revived from November 18, 1961 through 1968.

This compilation includes the following stories:

  • "The Mystery of the Vanished Spaceship" - Condor's friend Pete finds a hole in space.
  • "Captain Condor and the Robot Spacemen" - When a band of men opposing the dictator are exiled to Mercury, Condor tries to rescue them.
  • "Captain Condor Fights the Space Pirates" - Asteroid-X is hurling toward Earth when Condor discovers that it is actually a pirate spaceship.
  • "The Menace on Space-Station J.9" -  Venusian convict Vargol Skurn has managed to get into Space-Station J.9's strongroom to loot it.  Skurn, protected by a deadly electro-screen, has even managed to defeat one of Condor's robots.  Can Condor capture this dastard?
  • "Prisoners of the Space Outlaws" - While searching for a lost spaceship, Condor and his crew meet up with a gang of space pirates and their deadly monstrous robot.
  • "Captain Condor -- Space Detective" - Sent to Memfu, the capitol of Krypto, to investigate rumors of the capture of a supposedly extinct dynotrop, Condor meets with palace intrigue, the stolen eyes from the statue of the rajking, and that marauding dynotrop intent on destroying the city.
And there's nary a girl around in the stories.  Evidently they were a no-no for British boys of the time.  To make up for that, there's action, valor, and well-drawn artwork.  

Enjoy.


http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=69891&b=i