Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Very early Beatles.


From 1916, this silent film from George and Ernest Williamson's Williamson's Submarine Film Corporation utilizes the brothers' under-the-ocean photography to produce "The First Submarine Photoplay Ever Filmed."

The film's director, Stuart Paton (who sometimes used the name Stuart Payton), was also the anonymous writer of the movie, which conflated Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island and took a few liberties with both.  Paton began directing short films in 1914, also writing a number of scenarios.  His first full-length film (Courtmartialed) was released in 1915.  From 1915 through 1937 Paton directed 53 full-length movies.  He also served an uncredited producer for Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Allen Holubar starred as the tortured Captain Nemo.  Holubar was a prominent dramatic actor when he gave up the stage for a brief movie career, spanning from 1913 through 1917, when he gave up acting to form his own production company.  He died in 1923 at the shockingly young age of 35 from complications following gallstone surgery.

Professor Aronnax, who started out as one of Nemo's prisoners, was played by Dan Hanlon, who made only three films -- all in 1916, with this as his final film.  Not much is known about him.  He died in 1951, age 85.

The rough and ready whaler Ned Land was played by Curtis Benton, who appeared in fourteen silent shorts and four full-length movies from 1915 through 1917; Benton then concentrated on screenwriting and was credited with nineteen films through 1929.  Benton restarted his acting caree in 1931 appearing in thirteen films  -- all as one kind or another of announcer (radio, racetrack, car racing, flight radio, etc.) and all but two uncredited.  His last role was as an announcer in 1937's Kid Galahad.

I don't remember Professor Aronnax having a daughter on the Nautilus when I read the book, but she certainly is in this film.  The lovely and gamin-like Edna Pendleton filled the role of 1916 eye candy very well.  Not much is known about her, but she was probably twenty-nine when she made this film, the last of eight listed on IMDb.  She married in late 1915 and presumably gave up acting soon after.  If alive today (which I strongly doubt) she would be a respectable 130.

Join us now on a classic (under) sea adventure of revenge, discovery, and marvels as we silently follw Nemo and his wondrous adventure through the oceans' depths.

Monday, September 25, 2017


An indie folk song that you may have already seen.  To paraphrase Dylan, "The Times They Is a Strange 'Un."


  • Eric Brown, Helix.  SF novel.  "Five hundred years from its launch, the colony vessel Lovelock is deep into its sub-lightspeed journey, carrying four thousand humans in search of a habitable planet.  When a series of explosions tear the ship apart, it is forced to land on the nearest possible location:  a polar section of the Helix -- a vast, spiral construct of worlds, wound about a G-type sun.  While most of the colonists remain in cold sleep. the surviving crew members of the Lovelock must proceed up-spiral in search of a habitable section.  On their expedition they encounter extraordinary landscapes and alien races, meet with conflict and assistance, and attempt to solve the epic mystery that surrounds the origin of the Helix."  Five years after publishing this 2007 novel Brown returned to this strange construct in Helix Wars.
  • James Herbert, Creed.  Horror novel.  "Sometimes horror is in the mind.  And sometimes it's real.  Telling the difference isn't always easy.  It wasn't for Joe Creed.  He'd just photographed the unreal.  Now he had to pay the price.  Because he had always thought that demons were just a joke.  But the joke was on him.  And it wasn't very funny.  It was deadly..."   Herbert was a major player in the horror genre and I've enjoyed the books of his I have read.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


In which our favorite possum tells us about The Neighborhood Youth Corps.

From 1965:


Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis is in the building.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


The Young Rascals.


Talk Like a Pirate Day was this week so I thought I would make the occasion with a nautical comic book today.

Pulp writer and prolific men's paperback adventure novel author Manning Lee Stokes (writing as Thorne Stevenson) starts us off with "Murder Goes Native!" -- an adventure of South Sea Girl.  South Sea Girl is Alani, the warrior ruler of the Vanishing Isles, a girl who takes no guff and seems never to be without Cheeta, her leopard.  When a movie company films an adventure on Alani's turf, the imperial star of the film becomes jealous of Alani and tries to murder her.  Bad idea.

Stokes also wrote the closing story in this issue:  a Harbor Patrol Adventure, signed only as "Manning."  When a gang of thieves steal uranium from a government lab, they head to the docks where they rendezvous with Cindy Ford, a ruthless female with her own submarine.  The Harbor Patrol is understaffed, leaving only Steve and Squeaky to bring the neer-do-wells to justice.  Easier said than done after the two patrolmen are captured and held prisoner in the sub.

The other major story (and it's a very minor story) in this issue features The Ol' Skipper, a retired sea captain living in the restored wreck of a ship.  A developer is about to evict him when Skipper tells a story about a sea rescue that brought him his home.

There's the usual one and two-page fillers, all nautical related, and a five-page story that covers the career of Joshua Slocum, as well as a four page tall tale written by the aptly named "Watt A. Lyre."

Most of the ads are aimed at boys/men who want to be admired by girls/women.  For only 98 cents you could receive the handy book How to Get Along with Girls.  Then, for $1.98, you can get Master Key to Hypnotism  and apply those skills to women.  Now that you know how to get girls and how to hypnotize them, you're ready (for another 98 cents) The Date-Getter, which allows to score the girls you go out with and includes such things as Date Score Sheets, a Rating Form for Gals, a Date Analyzer, an Automatic Date Selector, and Alibis and Repartee -- and, if you value your life, none of which should be used today.  Each of these three books come in a plain wrapper.

Ignore the ads and dip your toes into this issue of Seven Seas Comics.


Friday, September 22, 2017


Jackie DeShannon.


Keep the Baby, Faith by "Philip DeGrave"  (William DeAndrea) (1986)

There are times when you instinctively know that an author just came up with a cute title and them wrote the book around it.

Yes, there is a woman named Faith and, yes, she is pregnant.  When the book opens, four attempts have been made on Faith's life in a deliberate attempt to kill her unborn child.  Faith is alone and friendless in New York City.  The only person she knows in the Big Apple is her best friend's older brother -- Harry Ross, a newspaper man (as opposed to a journalist) who is responsible for the television listings in a great metropolitan paper referred to as 'The Grayness.'

Harry has known Faith since she was in diapers back in Scarsdale but had not seen her for three years, since he moved to New York city after college graduation.  That was also when Faith graduated from high school and decided not to go to college.  Instead she took her inheritance and her parents' life insurance payment -- about $30,000 -- and moved to Paris to experience that city.  An accidental meeting with the handsome but pale Paul Letron, a man about fifteen years older than the teenager.  Within a week, Letron had proposed to her, within two weeks she accepted.  Letron had a couple of secrets.  First, he was incredibly rich, the very savvy business owner of a large cosmetics company.  And, second, his paleness, which he attributed to anemia, was indicative of something far worse -- a viralant form of cancer.  For the past year, he has been in an irretrievable coma and is now at death's door.

Paul's family had consisted of his step-mother, three step-brothers, and a step-sister-in-law.  Paul himself had inherited control of a small company from his father, which he then grew into a multinational business.  His father's will had specified that, in case of Paul's death, a comfortable living would be given to his wife if he should marry, with the remainder to be split among his second wife and her three children.  But...if Paul fathered a child, the vast amount of the estate would go to the child.  Paul knew how sick he was but did not want to father a child while he was so ill.  He arranged to have his sperm frozen and had Faith agree to artificial insemination when and if he fell hopelessly ill.  So now Faith is pregnant and close to term.  She is convinced that Paul's family is behind the attempts on her life; if she dies before the baby is born (and if the baby is born before Paul dies), her in-laws stand to reap a much larger inheritance.  Now she needs a place to hide until the child is born...And Harry is the only friend she has in New York.

Faith's story is, on the surface, fairly ridiculous and Harry is a trust-but-verify guy.  Faith's story appears to check out.  It seemed much more plausible when Harry and Faith were nearly killed by a homemade bomb, which killed another person.  Then another person dies of poisoning in from of Harry and Faith.  There is a murderer out there, but who is it?  Which family member is out to get Faith and her baby?  Or was it all of them?

Keep the Baby, Faith is a fast first-person read.  Harry is kind of a nebbish with a strong Jewish sense of guilt, and although his Jewishness is somewhat underplayed.  He has a nagging Jewish mother, for example, but she's not that nagging.  Harry is also a bit slow on coming up with ideas and on solving the murders; homicide Lieutenant Craig Rogers is always at least one step ahead of Harry but Harry's help is needed in getting the final proof.

There are references to Doctor Who (this was during the Tom Baker era)and there's even a l;awyer named Hi Marks (which I assume he got).  All-in-all, a solid but not great read.  I'll probably forget all about the book in a week or two, but it was a pleasant way to spend a few hours.

Keep the Baby, Faith was the second of two books William DeAndrea published under the tongue in cheek pseudonym Philip DeGrave.  Under his own name he published eighteen mystery novels (winning an Edgar award twice), one collection of short stories, and the well regarded (and Edgar winning) reference book Encyclopedia Mysteriosa.  I believe he also wrote at least one historical novel under a house name for the Lyle Kenyon Engel fiction factory.  DeAndrea was also a well regarded mystery columnist.  DeAndrea died much too young at 44 from cancer, leaving his wife, mystery writer Oriana Papazoglou/"Jane Haddam" and two young children.

DeAndrea created four popular series:  Matt Cobb (network television investigator), Niccollo Benedetti (professor of criminology), Clifford Driscoll (American spy), and Lobo Blacke and Quinn Booker (DeAndrea's homage to Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, set in the Old West).  He also wrote two interesting historical detective novels.  It's fair to say that his early death robbed the mystery field of interesting and unwritten books.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


The Temptations.


Chic Young's Blondie began as a comic strip on September 8. 1930.  Eighty-seven years l;ater it is still going strong,having spawned two television shows, a successful film series, a long-running radio show, animated cartoons and several books.

Originally, Dagwood Bumstead was the scion of a wealthy railroad family.  He dated Blondie Boopadoop, a lovely "flapper" and (apparently) showgirl.  When the two got married, Dagwood's family disowned him and the married couple had to survive on their own.  Blondie evolved into a suburban housewife, while Dagwood went to work as the J. C. Dithers Construction Company's office manager.  They had a son, Alexander, originally called Baby Dumpling; then a daughter, Cookie.  Both are eternal teenagers now.  In the 60s, their dog Daisy had a litter of five unnamed pups.  Daisy has stayed with the strip, but the pups are now long-gone.  The Bumstead's now live in an unnamed suburb, which was once in the Joplin, Missouri, area.  In popular culture, the comic strip has given the world the Dagwood Sandwich.

The Blondie radio show began on CBS as a summer replacement show for The Eddie Cantor Show.  The show continued on CBS (moving briefly to NBC for a few months in the latter half of 1944) until June 1949.  It spent its final season on ABC and ended in July, 1950.  Arthur Lake and Penny Singleton reprised their roles from the film series.

"Dagwood's New Suit" was first broadcast on October 30, 1939.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017


The Four Seasons.


Saw this ad on Craig's List:

          64" color television, $3, volume is stuck on loud.

I thought, "Well, I can't turn that down."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Gene Pitney.


Here's a first for this blog:  a Sherlock Holmes Herlock Sholmes mystery done totally with marionettes!  It also features the lovely Anna May Wong Anna Went Wrong.  Much of the action takes place in a Limehouse Limejuice opium den.  I have no idea where grandfather's porridge fits into this 9-minute extravaganza.




A lot of references I just didn't get, maybe because I'm not a 1930 Brit.

This one appears to be a love-it or a hate-it with no middle ground.

Enjoy.  (Or not.)

Monday, September 18, 2017


After Harvey and Irma and Jose (maybe) and whatever the K and L storms are called, a bunch of wind called Maria is lurking in the Atlantic.  No one know how powerful it could become nor whether if will make landfall.

Still, it seems an apt time to post this song.

Take your pick:

The Kingston Trio,

and Harve Presnell,

and Robert Goulet,

and Frankie Laine,

and Sam Cooke,

and The Browns,

and Vaughn Monroe,

and Ed Ames,

and Robert Horton,

and Bob Oates,

and Karntner Landesjugendchor,

and, to close this out, The Smothers Brothers.


No Incoming this week.  Thus sadness reigns over Jerry's House of Everything...

But. wait!

Maybe I can cheer myself up with this pressbook for 1948's Bomba on Panther Island -- starring Johnny Sheffield (once he outgrew the role of Tarzon's Boy).  This was the second film (of seventeen) in the franchise.  The plot is inane and the script is terrible but the stock footage isn't to bad.  Too bad that's the most exciting part of the movie.

Somehow, the press kit males all seem worthwhile.  But Hollywood is the land of make-believe, isn't it?

Welcome to the hype.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


B-movie screenwriter and director Ib Melchior didn't make it see his one hundredth birthday today but he came close, passing away about two and a half years ago at age 97.  Born and raised in Copenhagen, the son of famous opera tenor and actor Laurentz Melchior, Ib Melchior wrote or co-wrote such films as The Angry Red Planet, The Time Travelers, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and Retilicus, and contributed to such television shows as The Outer Limits, Men Into Space, and 13 Demon Street.  The classic B-movie Death Race 2000 was based on his 1952 short story "The Racer."  In 1960 Melchior created an outline for a proposed television series; producer Irwin Allen lifted from Melchior's script to create the hit show Lost in Space.  While Melchior never received onscreen credit from Allen for his idea, he was hired as a consultant for the 1998 Lost in Space film and was eventually paid $90,000 (in lieu of 2% of the films gross).  In 1963, as a "gimmick" story for the science fiction magazine Gamma, Melchior used a number of lines from Shakespeare to create a Sf story, "Here's Sport Indeed!" -- making him probably the only author to co-write a SF magazine story with the Bard of Avon.

Science fiction was just a part of Ib Melchior's life.  A decorated war hero, he served in the Army's Counterintelligence Corps, helped liberate the Flossenburg concentration camp, participated in the discovery of stolen gold and art at the Merkers-Kieselbach Cavern, and aided in the capture of a German Werwolf unit.  In addition to receiving the Bronze Star from the U.S. Army, Melchior was also dubbed Knight Commander of the Militant order of Saint Bridget of Sweden.

In 1976, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films gave him its Golden Scroll Award of Merit for Lifetime Achievement.

He won the 1982 Hamlet Award for best playwriting from the Shakespeare Society of America.

Melchior was never a major influence in science fiction, but he provided me and others of my generation many hours of entertainment.  So, thank you, Ib Melchior, and rest in peace.

To celebrate his centennial, here's a clip from 9 Lives in 90 Years:  The Ib Melchior Story:


The great Jim Reeves.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Rosco Gordon, with a Number 1 R&B hit from 1952..


This first issue of Super-Mystery Comics is of special interest for pulp magazine fans.  Two of the stories are adaptations of tales by two giants of the pulp era:  Lester Dent and Paul Chadwick..

Dent, of course, was the main writer of Doc Savage's adventures under the pseudonym "Kenneth Robeson," as well as many other stories for the pulps.  Here, his story"The Frozen Phantom" (Western Trails, April 1933) has been adapted as "The Flame Maiden."  The writer (possibly Robert Turner) changed the name of the hero but kept the villains name and the plot.  Corporal Andy Flint of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police is investigating reports of crazy men running around the frozen wastes.  His Eskimo guide Bill-Bill has been warned by the "Flame Maiden" to leave the area or face "The Terror."  Andy poo-poos this superstition until he meets the Flame Maiden a beautiful red head who mysteriously vanishes from a cliff.  Nothing frightens a Mountie from his job, even when Bill-Bill is captured and is placed in the "coffin of the mad."

Paul Chadwick (not to be confused with today's Paul Chadwick, b. 1957, known for his comic book work) was the creator of Secret Agent X under the pseudonym "Brant House," and under his own name, the adventures of Wade Hammond.  His story, "Octopus of Crime" (Secret Agent X, September 1934) was adapted for this issue by Robert Turner as "The Octopus Gang."  Magno, the Magnetic Man, "is able to draw to himself anything of metal.  In addition, he can hurl himself through space, attracted by anything magnetic.  With such powers Magno could rule the world.  Instead he chooses to devote his life to fighting evil of all kinds."  And there is evil across the entire nation in the form of an organized gang of crooks led by the elusive criminal genius who calls himself the Octopus.  Who is the Octopus and can Magno stop his reign of terror?

Also in this issue are stories about Vulvan, the Volcanic Man (who is a literal flaming red head), Sky Smith (a flying ace), Q-13 (America's spy fighter), and Larry Hannigan 9American adventurer in the Foreign Legion).


Friday, September 15, 2017


The original (and in my opinion, the best) Hank Williams.


The Wind Leans West by August Derleth (1969)

August Derleth juggled a lot of balls in the air during his lifetime.  He created the much-loved Solar Pons (arguably the best Sherlock Holmes clone in literature), as well as the lesser known Judge Peck.  He co-founded Arkham House, the small press which did much to promote H. P. Lovecraft (to the joy or dismay of current Lovecraft fans, depending on your viewpoint), Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howardand many others, as well as fostering the early careers of modern horror masters Ramsay Campbell and Brian Lumley.  His prodigious output of short stories also covered the gamut, from pulp science fiction and horror to "literary" fiction and sly pieces of humor.  A distinguished poet, Derleth also promoted other poet through his anthologies and his "little" magazine Hawk and Whippoorwill.  He was one of the country's most respected regional writers, detailing the history and people of Wisconsin through historical novels, mainstream novels, juveniles, journals, poetry, and non-fiction.  The broad scope of this part of his writing was what he called "The Wisconsin Saga," with an important subset titled "The Sac Prairie Saga" -- Sac Prairie being a thinly disguised Sauk City, Derleth's home town.  Whatever field he wrote in, Derleth's love of his native land rang true.

The Wind Leans West is part of the Wisconsin Saga, a book that, on its surface, appears to be a bit of a drag.  Here's the first paragraph from the jacket copy:

"This new novel in August Derleth's Wisconsin Saga is less a novel than a fictionalized account of the part played by Alexander Mitchell in the struggle to establish banks and sound banking practices Win the Territory and later the State of Wisconsin.  Persuade to come to America from his native Scotland, Mitchell landed in Milwaukee in 1839, carrying a carpetbag containing $50,000, with which to open an insurance business for his employer, the well-known midwestern promoter, George Smith."


To top it off, there's no violence (well, very little)...and just a small dab of excitement.

Despite all of the above, The Wind Leans West is a cracking good story.  Alexander Mitchell is almost too good a protagonist -- an honest man pursuing his dream with a single-mindedness that overcomes the many obstacles in his path.  Banks were outlawed in the Wisconsin Territory and most of the banks in surrounding areas were fly-by-night scams that preyed upon their customers.  Rather than open a bank, Mitchell opened an insurance company and ran it like a bank, provoking powerful machinations of business rivals and political enemiess.  Historical detail and real-life persons are woven seamlessly into the story.  Rather than boring, the book is a fast and pleasant read, spiced with a naturalist's detail of the countryside -- its plants and animals, its waters and its fertile fields, and the colors, smells, and sounds that can define a time and place..

This was a good 'un.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


Hank Ballard & The Midnighters.


From Arch Obeler's Lights Out, October 27, 1942, here's a little scary tidbit.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017


The Fifth Dimension.


Technically not a bad joke but an amusing piece of political humor.

Miss Cellania posted this video from 1941 and I couldn't stop laughing.  (There is also a similar video featuring Kim Jong Un available on Youtube.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


A song as only Eartha Kitt could sing.


Trouble with Father (or The Stu Erwin Show or Life with the Erwins or The New Stu Erwin Show -- the program sporadically changed its title) ran from 1950 to 1955, totaling 130 episodes (1953-54 season consisted of repeats only).  Stuart Erwin (Palooka, Pigskin Parade, Our Town) and real-life wife June Collyer (East Side, West Side, Charlie's Aunt, Murder by Television) star as June and Stu Erwin, a married couple with two girls.  Stu is the sometimes bumbling principal of the local high school and June is a typical 1950s sitcom housewife, patient and understanding.  The oldest daughter is boy-crazy high schooler Joyce, played by a fourth cousin of Mary Todd Lincoln, Ann E. Todd (How Green Was My Valley, The Blue Bird, King's Row); for the show's final season the role was played by Merry Anders (Mike McCall in all 52 episodes of How To Marry a Millionaire, The Time Travelers, Raiders from Beneath the Sea).  The role of tomboy daughter Jackie went to Sheila James, best known as Zelda Gilroy on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.  (She shifted gears after acting, earned a law degree and was later elected as the first openly gay member of the California State Assembly where she served for six years before she moved to the State Senate, serving for eight years; she remains active in Los Angeles politics.)  The other regular cast member was Willie Best (The Ghost Breakers, Cabin in the Sky, High Sierra) as Willie, a stereotypical (for the time) Black handyman who often joined Stu in some of his schemes.

The episode linked below under the title "Spooks" was first shown on December 23, 1950, and is better known under the title "Problem Party."  It features Margaret Hamilton as Mrs. Bracker, a representative of a women's league concerned with juvenile delinquency, and a young Martin Milner as Drexel Potter, a high schooler who occasionally dated Joyce; in the final year of the series Milner would play Jimmy Clark, Joyce's new husband.  It was directed by Howard Bretherton and written by Arthur Hoerl.


Monday, September 11, 2017


The Pozo Seco singers.  R.I.P., Don Williams.


  • Steve Alten, Phobos:  Mayan Fear.  Thriller with SFnal/fantasy overtones, the third in the Domain series.  "Immanuel Gabriel travels to the end of the world and back for one last shot of global; salvation....Immanuel, the surviving hero foretold in the Mayan creation story, finds his world rocked after an encounter with his deceased grandfather, archaeologist Julius Gabriel.   Julius reveals everything the Mayans knew and feared -- from the very secrets of creation to the presence of extraterrestrial benefactors; from mankind's intended purpose to the preordained End of Days.  If Immanuel is to thwart Judgment Day, he must act swiftly."  This 2011 book follows Domain and Resurrection (2004), and ends on page 512 with these words:  to be continued...  Since then, Alten has published nine books not in this series but has hinted that Book 4 will come.  Let's just wait.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Outlaw of Torn.  Historical romance.  "The most feared warrior in England.  at 17 -- The greatest swordsman in England.  At 18 -- A price on his head.  At 19 -- The leader of a band of a thousand.  Who was this Norman of Torn?  Where did he come from?  All that anyone knew was that his blade was sharp, his arm strong.  Then -- as he was about to uncover the secret of his birth -- he found himself in the greatest peril he'd ever known."  first published as a five-part serial in New Story Magazine in 1914, it was released as a book in 1927.  This is the Ace paperback with a neat Frazetta cover.

Sunday, September 10, 2017


It's almost 8:15 pm Sunday (Central time -- we're just a few miles from the Eastern/Central time divide) and things are looking better for us.

Irma is taking a more northern path rather than north-western as had previously been predicted.  Earlier estimates had Irma's western edge at Fort Walton Beach (ten miles or so from us), then to Panama City, and now even further east.  Good news for us.

Despite all the predictions, hurricanes can be unpredictable.  Irma is now a Cat 2 and perhaps becoming a Cat 1 as it moves north.  Or not.

We brought in anything that could be wind borne indoors.  Some of our neighbors haven't, so there's a chance various lawn ornaments, toys, fire pits, and whatever could visit us.

Flooding is still a possibility (as is a power outage) but seems remoter as time passes.

Irma has been and continues to be a devastating storm.  The number of properties, livelihoods, and lives that will be destroyed is great, from the Caribbean to the Keys and Florida, and beyond.  Please take a moment to think of and pray for those affected.  If you can donate, please do so.  Cash is usually best, perishables perhaps not so much.  If you do donate, please go online and research what would be the best way for you to give.  I don't want you to be scammed out of your cash or to have your donations sit in some warehouse and never get to those who need it.  Another advantage to cash:  there will be a lot of rebuilding to do and using local supplies and local help can go a long way in helping the local communities.

And keep a good thought for the responders -- those involved in rescue, in shelter, in protecting persons and property, in saving pets and wildlife, in keeping or restoring essential services, and in providing comfort.  Good and neccessary people all.


This week I read that some studies indicate that natural selection might eliminate Alzheimer's disease completely.  Good news.  Bad news:  it could take several thousand years to do so.

Take heart, though, there are a number of amazing medical advances in numerous areas that are happening now.  Below is the Cleveland Clinic's Top 10 list of breakthrough technologies for 2017 as discussed by a panel of experts.


"Ain't No Grave" sung by Jamie Wilson.

Saturday, September 9, 2017


It's hard to believe that Hurricane Irma is on its way.  I've seen the pictures of the devastation and have heard all the weather reports about Irma's projected path, but this morning the sky was a clear blue, it was comfortably warm, and there was a gentle breeze.

One projection today had Irma stretching to about ten miles from my house.  A weather report from Mobile said we might get rain and 35 mile per hour winds.  It's difficult to know what to expect but most projections indicate we will be safe.

One concern is any storm surge.  Last week, a report indicated that -- if we had the rain amount of rainfall that Houston had with Hurricane Harvey -- my street would be under three and a half feet of water.  Luckily, most predictions indicate that rainfall and storm surge should not be a problem for us.

Anyway, we've decided to hunker in place and see what happens.  I don't think this is a stupid move and we have several contingency plans dependent on what happens.

What could happen is that we lose our power.  If that's the case, this blog may go quiet for a while.  I've put Sunday and Monday's post in the queue but from Tuesday on, it's up in the air -- literally.

I know the Florida peninsula will be hit hard.  My thoughts and prayers are with all those in Irma's path, both now and over the next few days -- whatever path she takes.

See you on the other side!


The Mills Brothers do Duke Ellington's "Caravan, vocalizing the instuments.


Since this is the early Forties, it should not come as a surprise that comic book super-hero The Black Terror was Caucasian.  It should also be no surprise that his civilian identity strongly resembles that of Clark Kent, right down to the glasses, strong jaw, and bluish hair.  Like Superman with Clark Kent, nobody seems aware that The Black Terror and druggist Bob Benton are one and the same (although The Black Terror does wear the tiniest of Domino masks, one that (just) covers his eyelids and brows).  A big difference between Superman and The Black Terror, though, is that Clark Kent is "mild-mannered" while Bob Benton is "meek."  Oh, and superman came from another planet while The Black Terror got his powers through inhaling "formic ethers," with which he had been experimenting.

The Black Terror wears a full black costume trimmed with gold and a black/red reversible cape.  Across his chest there is a large white skull and crossbones.  As with so many super-heroes, The Black Terror has a young side-kick, his assistant at the drugstore, Tim Roland, whose costumed super-hero name is "Tim."  (Okay, so neither one is that great at choosing their super-hero names.)  Tim wears the same costume as The Black Terror except smaller in size.  The two were collectively known as the "Terror Twins."

Bob Benton has a girlfriend -- Jean Starr, who is secretary to the town mayor.  Jean is unaware that Bob is The Black Terror.

The Black Terror first appeared in Exciting Comics #9 (May 1942) and became a very popular hero in the Nedor/Pines/Standard/Better stable, also appearing in America's Best Comics and in his own title.  All three comics died an ignominious death in 1949, with the company itself going belly-up a few years later.  

Many of the company's character fell into popular domain.  Since then he has appeared in (in various guises and at various times) for AC Comics, Alter Ego, Darkline Comics, Eclipse Comics, America's Best Comics, TLW Comics, Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Metahuman Press, Heroes Inc.,  Curse of the Black Terror, and Moonstone Books,, as well as in prose from Wild Cat Books and Deadskull.


As for this issue,
  • Goebbels tweaks Goering about his lack of success in doing harm to America.  Goering then orders Trupp, his best agent in America, to step up his efforts.  Trupp knows he can do nothing effective until he eliminates that darned Black Terror.  Always prepared, the Terror Twins attend a local airshow and foil Trupp's plans.
  • Jean and the mayor travel to vichy in an effort to rescue American journalists held by the Gestapo and are, themselves, captured and taken to Germany.  The Terror Twins then launch their own rescue mission.
  • Dr. Metz (as evil as they come) has a formula that can give Japanese soldiers the appearance of Caucasians.  Once again it's time for the Terror Twins to act!
Also in this issue,
  • Steve and Ploppie, recent college graduates, open "The We Do It Boys" agency and become The Crime Crushers.
  • A three-page "funny" story about Bob the Hobo and the girl who got away.
  • Three short text stories:  "Money on Ice" by Donald Bayne Hobart,  "Kidnap Clue" by Richard Stanton, and "Arthur's Salvage" by Kerry McRoberts.
All in all, a pretty good issue.


Friday, September 8, 2017




Weird Tales -- English anonymous edited, possibly by William Paterson (1888)

In the 1880s, London publisher William Paterson issued a series of books known as Nuggets for Travellers.  There were at least eighteen volumes in the series: four in the Tit Bits of Humour series (English, Irish, Scottish, and American), three in the Jests and Anecdotes series (Irish, Scottish, and American), five in the Classic Tales -- Serious and Lively (Voltaire, Goldsmith & Brooks, Marnportel, Hawkesworth. and Johnson, Mackenzie & Sterne), one by Thomas Crofton Croker titled Love Tales:  Irish, and five in the Weird Tales series (English, Scottish, Irish, American, and German).  At least some appear to have been republished by Dent in the 1890s and at least the Weird Tales series was republished by Paterson in 1922).  All the volumes are quite rare, but four of the Weird Tales series are available online at Hathi Trust.

Weird Tales -- English was #5 in the Nuggets for Travellers series and contained a dozen stories, five from anonymous sources:

  • "The Pythagorean:  A Tale of the First Century" by A. Stewart Harrison. "Reprinted by kind permission of Messrs. Bradbury, Evans & Co."  
  • "The Old Man's Tale About the Queer Client" 1836) by Charles Dickens. (No attribution given.)
  • "In Defense of His Right" by Daniel Defoe.  (No attribution given)
  • "Sixteen Days of Death."  (No author credited; no attribution given.)
  • "Adventure in a Forest" by [Tobias] Smollett.  (No attribution given, but the story features Ferdinand Fanthom so I assume it is from The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fanthom, 1853)
  • "Cader Idris:  The Chair of Idris" by John [Berwick] Harwood.  "Reprinted by kind permission of Messrs Bradbury, Evans & Co."
  • "A Skeleton in the House" by Edmund Yates.  "One of the earliest productions of this popular author's pen, it having been written about 1858, while he was still in his twenties.  Reprinted by his kind permission."
  • "A Night with a Madman."  (No author credited; "reprinted by kind permission of the proprietors of Chambers's Journal.")
  • "The Poisoned Mind." (No author credited; "reprinted by kind permission of Messrs. Bradbury, Evans & Co.")
  • "A Dire Prediction." (No author credited; no attribution given.)
  • "The Postponed Wedding."  (No author credited; no attribution given.)
  • "[The] Haunted House of Paddington" (1841) by Charles Ollier.  (No attribution given.)

The stories run the gamut of 19th century sensationalism:  women in danger, cannibalism, ghosts, murder, legends, and curses.  A man must switch positions with a corpse in order to survive.  A young woman's life is ruined because of a premonition and then she has a premonition far worse.  An ancient legend causes the unexplained death of a girl.  A man and his lover are chained together to die.  A greedy step-mother plots to gain her husband's wealth only to meet a mysterious specter.  A journalist on vacation in Devon comes across a ghost.  A young man sacrifices himself so that his mates can feed on his body.  Gruesome stuff, indeed.

Some of the tales are a bit clunky and some of the dialog is flowery, or tortured, or both. but for the most part these twelve stories a very readable, imbued with a sense of time and place, as well as with a sense for the macabre.  A few of the stories have a sly humor interspersed with the horror.

This collection may well be too old-fashioned for some tastes.  For me, it was interesting and enjoyable read.  You can decide for yourself.  The link below takes you to the Hathi Trust site which contains this volume, as well as three other volumes in the Weird Tales series.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


The Ronettes.


I'm hedging a little bit here.  The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was one of a number of Holmes radio shows in the past.  At times during its run from October 2, 1939 to July 7, 1949 the show dropped the first four words of the title and was aired simply as Sherlock Holmes.  Information about the show is contradictary.  For example one source gives the actors in this episode as Luis [Louis] Hector as Holmes (Hector also played Moriaty in several of the Holmes films) and Harry West  as Watson; the actors, however, are clearly Tom Conway and Nigel Bruce.  Other sources state that the show ended in 1950.

Each episode of the show had its narrator, "Joseph Bell" (the name of the Scottish surgeon who was Conan Doyle's inspiration for the Sherlock Holmes character), stopping by the home of the retired Dr. Watson, who would then relate that week's tale from his memories of the past.  (Evidently Watson retired to California.)  Nigel Bruce as Watson was also top billing, probably because of the show's format.  Joseph Bell may or may not have been the true name of the actor who narrated the show.

Tom McKnight produced this episode.  I don't know who wrote it, but this was aired during the Dennis Green-Anthony Boucher era.  The story itself was suggested by an incident mentioned in "The Final Problem."

"The Haunted Bagpipes" aired on October 29, 1946 as a Halloween program.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


One hundred seventy years ago today the American outlaw Jesse James was born.  Kitty's mother claimed that she was related to him through an aunt of his -- whether that's true or not, it's a good time to post this song from The Kingston Trio.


The May 5, 1955 episode of Four Star Playhouse is a gem:  a P. G. Wodehouse story adapted by Oscar Millard (The Conqueror, No Highway in the Sky, The Salzburg Connection) and starring David Niven (who also produced this episode) as Uncle Fred.  Robert Nichols plays Fred's nephew Pongo.  Also featured are Norma Varden, Jennifer Raine, Leon Tyler, Alex Frazer, Tudor Owen, Marjorie Bennett, and Charlotte Knight.  Roy Kellino, whose television career comprised some 114 episodes of various anthology series, directed.

In typical Wodehouse fashion, Uncle Fred descends on a suburban home, wreaks havoc, and unites two lovers, as Pongo watches on in horror and is enlisted by Uncle Fred for his plan.

Niven and Nichols played the same characters in a 1953 version which aired on Hollywood Opening Night.  Then, in 1967, Wilfred Hyde-White and Jonathon Cecil played Fred and Pongo for Comedy Playhouse.  Uncle Fred first appeared on television in 1950 and was played by Arthur Treacher in The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse adaptation of Wodehouse's novel Uncle Dynamite.  And Ballard b\Berkeley played Uncle Fred in the 1981 adaptation of Uncle Dynamite on Thank You, P. G. Wodehouse.

It's obvious that television loves Uncle Fred.  I think you will, too.


Monday, September 4, 2017


Sing along with Pete.


The Highwaymen.


Once again there is no Incoming this week.  I seem to be doing fairly well with reducing the amount of books I purchase.  No more weeks with dozens (or hundred) of new books.

This week our thoughts are with the people of Texas and Louisiana who are struggling with the aftereffects of Hurricane Harvey.  

Before Harvey, there was Galveston.  The category 4 hurricane that hit that Texas city on September 8, 1900 took from 6,000 to 12,000 lives and cost some $850,000,000 in damages (in 2016 figures), making it the worst natural disaster ever to hit America.  With Harvey, the death count of 39 is sure to rise and the cost of the devastation will be in the billions of dollars.  Harvey could have been much worse.  (Short-sighted politics actually made Harvey worse than it could have been.)

Instead of Incoming this week, here's a look at the Galveston Flood as filmed by Albert Smith for Thomas Edison Films on September 24, 1900.

Nature can be a bitch.  Let us hope that common sense and advance warnings will greatly reduce her impact in the future.

Sunday, September 3, 2017


Gavin Pretor-Pinney is the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society.

It's time to slow down, relax, appreciate...

...and find the shapes in the clouds.


Sierra Jordan.

Saturday, September 2, 2017


From 1966, here's Paul Revere & The Raiders.


Once again, Captain Midnight braves overwhelming odds for the cause of justice.

  • Fangs of the Werewolf  -  "A vast underground network of Nazi resistance fought on in defeated Germany!  It was Captain Midnight's job to uncover this werewolf menace, and, in doing so, restore honor to a valiant American boy!"
  • The Ice Cream Plague of Palmyra Island  -  "When production of vital anti-bomb nets is suddenly curtailed on Palmyra Island, trouble shooting Captain Midnight is confronted by and amazing and horrible menace...time:  during the  a secret American base in the Pacific Ocean"
  • "Captain Midnight and Chuck sometimes go far afield in their constant search for scientific oddities but seldom have they traveled so far, and never have the dangers been as fierce, as when they journey to South America, in search of the 'Flying Dinosaur'!"
And there are a number of filler stories, including "Sgt. Twilight's Last Round Up" and Johnny Blair in the Air's "Night Ride".

What I found really interesting were a couple of the advertisements:
  • In an ad for Daisy Air Rifles, Little Beaver recites the ten rules in the Sportsman's Safety Club to Red Ryder:  "Me will never point-um gun at anything me not intend to shoot-um.  Me will never load-um gun when muzzle is pointed at anybody.  Me will never cock-um gun or pull-um trigger just for fun.  Me will never shoot-um at object which make bullet bounce-um off.  Me will never handle gun without first take-um peek to be sure gun is empty.  Me will never carry my gun while it is cocked of off safety -- you betchum.  Me will never shoot-um at song-bird, illegal game or live tree, me think-um.  Me will never shoot-um at anything before me make-um sure me not injure something if me miss-um target.  Me will always be plenty careful when climbing through fence by point-um gun muzzle through fence first.  Me will always clean and oil-um me gun pronto after using it."  Sage advice.
  • An ad calling for kids to join Captain Midnight's "Share Thru CARE Corps" by starting a 15-15 Crops and "Help Captain Marvel Answer Europe's Children's SOS."  It's easy and you can be president of your 15-15 Corps!  "Get all your friends to contribute 15c or more to join your Corps whose object is to raise $15 for one CARE package -- 49 pounds -- the kind the army gave its parachute teams to keep them strong.  I will send you members' buttons FREE when your check is received -- one for each member and a beautiful CITATION scroll for you, the President.  Each Corps competes with each other.  For each additional Food Package your Corps sends I will give you an OAK LEAF to add to your citation.  When you get FOUR OAK LEAVES on your citation you get a CAPTAIN MARVEL GOLDEN CITATION.  The President of the Corps sending the greatest number of Food Packages will speak on Short Wave Radio with a boy in Europe that his Corps has fed -- on Perry Como's CHESTERFIELD SUPPER CLUB PROGRAM on N.B.C."  The food packages would be going to Austria, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, France, Germany: American (Zone), and Germany:  British (Zone).  Sorry Germany:  Russian (Zone).
Take a trip back seventy years in time and enjoy this issue.

Friday, September 1, 2017


The Youngbloods.


Look Out for Space by William F. Nolan (1985)

Why isn't William F. Nolan better known?  He has published more than 80 books (including the SF classic Logan's Run, written with George Clayton Johnson) and has had over 750 pieces published in over 250 magazines.  His work has been anthologized more than 300 times.  I think the answer to my question lies in Nolan's wide range of interests -- his works are spread all over the genre map.

Nolan has written a lot about automobile racing, on of his great loves. He has written biographies of people he admires, including Steve McQueen, Dashiell Hammett, Phil Hill, and Max Brand.  He has written science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, suspense, westerns.  He has published books of poetry and reference books.  He has had a successful career writing for television and the big screen.  He has edited a number of anthologies, both fiction and nonfiction.  He created Mickey Mouse adventures for Disney.  He has written books on the craft of writing.  He has compiled bibliographies.  He has been honored for both his individual work and for his lifetime achievements.  He's been a cartoonist, an actor, and a well-regard public speaker.

Nolan is a good writer who churns out professional work every time.  And some of his work rises above the merely professional to a level that sticks in your mind years and decades after you read them.

Nolan's Sam Space stories are a cross-eyed, lop-eared, off-kilter SF tribute to Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade.  Spade has appeared in two novels, five short stories, a movie treatment, and a movie script.  Look Out for Space was Nolan's second novel about the character.

Space works from a sleazy office:

"[O]n Mars.  In Bubble City, where I grind for bread.  what can I say about my office?  It's cheap and seedy.  Worn nearcarpet.  A jammed flowdrawer in the faxfile.  And my glowindow doesn't Glo."

Sam's work is usually ordinary:

"I'm not complaining.  Sure, I get lonely sometimes.  And depressed.  But I'm in a lonely depressing business.  I don't get many jobs as colorful as the Milo Petrovanny onion case.  Most of my time is spent on dull, routine capers such as uncovering a multi-dimensional star dodge tax racket on Ganymede, or doing a tail job on a girdle importer from Outer Capella who runs off with the overweight underaged daughter of a rich but diseased Neptunian pork stuffer."

But Sam's luck is about to change when he is hired by Brother Thaddeus of the Universal cosmic Church Realized.  Brother Thaddeus has bought an asteroid in the Horsehead Nebula that has been stole.  (The asteroid, not the entire nebula, silly.)  Sam has to find and retrieve the asteroid, money no object.  So begins a caper that will take Sam across the universe and back several times in an adventure that is as wacky as anything that could be dreamed up by Harry Harrison, Ron Goulart, or Keith Laumer.

Spade stumbles on a slave trading racket that specializes in insects and worms, works closely with a three pinch mouse detective, stumbled across an unexpected body, gets seduced by a beautiful lady and refuses to get seduced by a bevy of distinctly odd extraterrestials, gets framed and sent to a Hellish planet where he is forced to shovel muck with a spoon, has his head placed on backward, and almost loses his nose and ears.  And also, some unusual stuff happens before Space wraps up the case in a Hammett/Spillane fashion.

A wild and outrageous romp, but not one for all tastes.  I really enjoyed it, though, as I followed Sam Space through space while upholding the classic PI code.

Thursday, August 31, 2017


When we were living in Southern Maryland, we made of a point of attending the World Folk Music Association's annual concerts, many of which were organized to pay tribute to various performers such as Odetta, Tommy Makem, Tom Paxton, and Tom Rowe.   We are too far away to attend the one scheduled for this October 29 -- "Remembering Oscar Brand" -- which will feature Christine Lavin, The Limelighters, Josh White, Jr., Carolyn Hester, David Buskin, and many others.  If you happen to be in the DC area you should try to catch this wonderful show.

Oscar Brand (1920-2016) had a career that spanned more than seven decades.  He released almost 100 albums and wrote over 300 songs.  His weekly radio show, Oscar Brand's Folksong Festival, began in 1945 and ran for more than 70 years, making it the longest running radio show with a continuous host.  He performed with Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, The Weavers, Jean Ritchie, and Pete Seeger, among many others.  Brand was one of the organizers of the Newport Folk Festival and was on the board of the Children's Television Network (an unsubstantiated rumor has it that the character of Oscar the Grouch was named for Brand).  He also was an author, penning books on folk music, various short stories and collaborating on at least three musicals.

Many of Brand's albums honored the various military services.  Many others recorded bawdy songs for prosperity.  So be warned, some of the songs may be NSFW.

Glory Flying Regulations

The Shucking of the Corn

Subdivision Nine

For Jefferson and Liberty

(Here's one my late mother-in-law used to sing, the first line only.  Just as well because it has been said that every song she tried to sin sounded like "The Donkey Serenade")
Charlotte the Harlot

And the Erie was Rising

I Learned About Flying

(Here's one that I find myself humming at the most inappropriate times)
The Bastard King of England

Ballad of Anzio

The Ocean Waves May Roll

The Old Soldiers of the King

The Duchess and the Student

Grant, Grant, Grant

When I First Come to This Land

I Used to Work in Chicago

The Flying Fortress

We Ain't Going to Sea No More

Dinky Die

Jenny Jenkins (with Jean Ritchie0

Ten Little Fishermen

The Chandler's Wife


There have been many great comedians but, for my money, Jack Benny was one of the greatest.  

From April 23, 1950, the Boys of Beverly Hills Beavers are putting on a play at the school auditorium.  Jack, as treasurer, plans to attend...and the fun begins.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017


The Stone Ponys with Linda Ronstadt.


Actually, today is Bad Jokes Wednesday.  Here are a few groaners for your amusement/punishment.

  • You can't plant flowers if you haven't botany.
  • 3.14% of all sailors are pi-rates.
  • So why do we have to pay for air at a gas station?  We never used to.  I guess it's inflation.
  • Why don't ants get sick?  Because they have anty-bodies.
  • There was a recent earthquake and people blamed fracking but it was just the Earth's fault.
  • My brother tried viewing the eclipse through a colander but he just ended up with eye strain.
  • I have a friend who squats on the floor, puts his arms around his legs and leans forward...because that's just how he rolls.
  • Seven: "I can't even..."  Eight: "That's odd."
  • I've held onto my pet rock for years because of its sedimental value.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


I'm a day late with this one.  The computer was acting up.  I overslept.  The dog ate my homework.  I had to fold laundry.  I had to foil an ISIS attack.  My time was taken up curing cancer.  Whatever excuse works.  None of which detracts from the fact that Ceili is now 21!  A legal adult!  What happened to the time?

Catherine Delaney Dowd was born at Georgetown University Hospital in the early hours of the morning.  Our first grandchild and as cute as can be.  She was serene that day, just taking it all in -- this wonderful world that she had just entered.  She was happy to be here, happy just to be -- just as we were to have her.

I thought it would be great to shorten her middle name and call her Laney (Elaine, a favorite cousin of mine had recently died) but her parents outvoted me.  They combined her first two names and called her Caylee.  Over the years, the spelling has changed to Kaylee and probably a dozen other variations until it became Ceili, a name for an Irish dance but pronounced the same.  That's the spelling I'm sticking with.  Today, she more often than not goes by Catherine, but I'm old and I'm her grandfather so she has to put up with whatever I call her.

She lost her father to a heart attack when she was nine and he was thirty-one, so things have not always been easy for her.  Nonetheless she came out on the other as a child and person we are p[roud of.

Ceili was a beautiful child and remains a beautiful woman.  Our smiling, giggling, wiggling little girl has grown up to become a brave and outspoken defender of human rights.  Discrimination against minorities, women, the LGBT community, or other marginalized peoples offends her and she lets her opinion be known.  (Let's not mention Trump.)  Her parents did something right there, aided by both sets of grandparents and her extended circle of loved ones.

Ceili lets me hug her and does not get too upset because I never learned to un-hug.

Ceili is also a fangirl.  She is a walking encyclopedia on Tolkien, Game of Thrones, anime, movies, and television.

She fixes our computer and programs our television -- all without remarking on what Luddites her grandparents are.

She has brightened out days.  She has given us smiles and love.  She makes our world a better place.

Now she is fully and legally an adult.  I can tell because several of her friends across the country sent her bottles of wine yesterday.



And it will keep getting better from here.

We love you.


W. C. Handy, "The Father of the Blues," sings his classic song.


How about a little bit of Sherlock with Raymond Massey as the world's first consulting detective?   Athole Stewart plays Watson.  Lyn Harding, Angela Badderly, and Nancy Price are also featured.  The story was adapted by W. P. Lipscomb, who would win an Oscar seven years later for Pygmalion, and was directed by Jack Raymond (Sorrell and Son, The Mysterious Mr. Reeder).

This one is a bit strange.  The only copy I could find online was this one -- cut from 90 to 50 minutes.  The quality of the film is poor because the copyright had expired and copies were made and copies of the copies were made.  This particular copy is probably third generation, or more, and it shows it.  Nonetheless, it's an interesting film.

There's some good acting here but, having been made so close to the silent era, at times exagerrated silent film gestures are evident.

The adaptation takes some liberties with the original Conan Doyle story, but we will forgive that.


Monday, August 28, 2017


Dr. Hook.


  • John Joseph Adams, editor, Wastelands:  Stories of the Apocalypse.  SF anthology with 22 stories, one original, by a great line-up:  Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, Paolo Bacigalupi, Mary Rickert, Jonathan Lethem, George R. R. Martin, Topbias S. Buckell, Jack McDevitt, Cory Doctorow, James Van Pelt, Catherine Wells, Jerry Oltion, Gene Wolfe, Nancy Kress, Elizabeth Bear, Octavia E. Butler, Carol Emshwiller, Neal Barrett, Jr., Dale Bailey, David Gregg, and John Langan.
  • Lee Child, Tripwire.  A Jack Reacher thriller.  "Jack Reacher's anonymity in Key West is shattered by the appearance of a private investigator who's come to town looking for him.  But only hours after his arrival, the stranger is murdered.  Retracing the PI's cold trail back to New York City, Reacher is compelled to find oput who was looking for him an why.  He never expected the reasons to be so personal, so dangerous, and so very twisted."
  • Martin H. Greenberg & Larry Segriff, editors, Far Frontiers.  SF anthology.  "Thirteen of today's top authors blaze new pathways to worlds beyond imagination from:  a civilization of humans living in a Dyson sphere to who the idea of living on a planet is pure an ancient man so obsessed with an alien legend that he will risk ship and crew in the Void in the hopes of proving it the story of the last free segments of 'humanity,' forced to retreat to the very edge of the galaxy in the hope of finding a way to save themselves when they is nowhere left to run..."
  • Yunte Huang, Charlie Chan:  The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History.  Nonfiction.  A look at Earl Derr Biggers' famous sleuth, the real-life Hawaiian cop Chang Apana who inspired the character, and the historical atmosphere of a territorial Hawaii, and the cultural impact Charlie Chan has had.  It even has an appendix listing Charlie Chanisms.
  • "Simon Lawrence" (R. Karl Largent), The Pond.  Horror novel.  "Clayborn, Alabama, was a sleepy southern town that seemed to be free from the problems of the modern world.  Crime was nonexistent, the people were friendly, and the local company kept the town prosperous.  To all appearances, Clayborn was the perfect place for a family to live.  That was what Taylor Fredricks thought -- until his teenage son came to him with a tale of murder and mutilated corpses, a tale so unbelievable it couldn't be true.  But before long, Fredricks discovered his son had stumbled onto a conspiracy of greed and corruption that lay hidden beneath the town's serene surface.  For the people of Clayborn had a secret so evil that its revelation would destroy the town and everyone in it."
  • David Lindsay, A Voyage to Arcturus.  Classic fantasy novel.  "The book is not allegory but vision.  Lindsay's imaginary. often drawn from music, is burning and impressive.  He uses words violently and cares nothing for grace....But what emerges after sympathetic reading is...a sense of the remarkable profundity and coherence of the vision.  The message is uncompromiosing in its purity.  The achievement of the book exactly balances the ambition of its intention.  This, surely, is rare." -- London Times.  
  • Brad Ricca, Super Boys:  The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster -- The Creators of Superman.  Biography of the two young men who created one of the world's most recognized icon on a kitchen table in Cleveland and how fame and fortune slipped from their grasp.   
  • Norman Spinrad, Greenhouse Summer.  SF eco-thriller.  "About a hundred years from now, pollution, overpopulation, and ecological disasters have left the rich nations still rich, and the poor nations -- the Lands of the Lost -- slowly strangling in drought and pollution.  New York City is below sea level, surrounded by a seawall.  The climate of Paris is much like the twentieth-century climate of long-drowned New Orleans.  And Siberia, Golden Siberia, is the cropland of the world...But it may be all coming to a terrible end:  a scientist has predicted Condition Venus, the sudden greenhouse downfall of the entire planet -- but she can't say when.  So now the attention of the world is focused for a week on a UN conference on the Environment in Paris, where all hell is about to break loose."

Sunday, August 27, 2017


Elmer Kelton's peers named him the greatest western writer of all time.  Eight of his novels have won the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America, three of his novels received the Western Heritage Award from The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, he received the Owen Wister Award, as well as the first Lone Star Award, for Lifetime achievement.

New York Times best-selling author Lucia St. Clair Robson has garnered two Spur Awards and has been nominated for a third.  Her novel Ride the Wind  has been named one of the 100 best westerns of the twentieth century.

Here's what happened when the two got together.  The discussion lasted a bit over thirty minutes; it's broken up here in roughly ten minute segments.


Written in 1963 by Sidney Carter with music adapted from the shaker hymn "Simple Gifts," few have done it better than Tommy Makem.

Saturday, August 26, 2017


James Brown.


Sing along!

"Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot, easy lopin', cattle ropin' Sugarfoot,
Carefree as the tumbleweeds, ajoggin' along with a heart full of song
And a rifle and a volume of the law.

"Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot, never underestimate a Sugarfoot,
Once you got his dander up, ain't no one who's quicker on the draw.

"You'll find him on the side of law and order,
From the Mexicali border, to the rolling hills of Arkansaw

"Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot, easy lopin' cattle ropin' Sugarfoot,
Ridin' down to cattle town, a-joggin' along with a heart full of song
A rifle and a volume of the law."

Tom Brewster, a.k.a. Sugarfoot, rides along "The Stallion Trail" and enters a "Law Trap."


Friday, August 25, 2017


This was the Billboard #1 song the week I was married.  It held the top place for six weeks -- longer than any other song that year.


Oops, I did it again!  I had planned for a Forgotten Books post for today, but fate intervened.  You see, I was reading my choice for this week while waiting to give the Kangaroo a ride home.  I had planned to finish the book last night and write up my post this morning but, when I went to buckle the Kangaroo into his car seat, I placed the book on the roof of the car while I bent done to do some serious buckling.  Then I hopped behind the wheel and drove the six miles to his house, forgetting about the book.  **sigh**  I'll see if I can pick up another copy of the book (No, I won't say what it is; I prefer you to let your imagine run amok, but I will say it was a good 'un).  

So that's my excuse, my story, my alibi, my explanation.  Sorry.  #senilitysucks  #atleastIdidn'tbucklethebookintothecarseatandleavethechildontheroof

All is not lost, however.  Rather than have you go away disappointed, here's the comic book adaptation of George Pal's film adaptation of Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie's classic SF disaster novel When Worlds Collide.

Thursday, August 24, 2017


Not the rock group but the Sixties song by April Stevens and Nino Tempo.


From November 2, 1953, an episode of Suspense starring Edmond O'Brien.  This episode was produced and directed by Elliot Lewis and written by Arthur Ross.

Hungry, anyone/

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Rockabilly great Sonny Burgess passed away on August 18.  He was 88.  It never bothered him that he made as big as Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis -- he just enjoyed playing.  Rest in peace.

From 1956.


(The following was deleted from Wikipedia -- really.)


Tip #1

The worst kind of cow tipping is on wild cows.  Wild cows are hard to find, however are wildly unpredictable .[sic]  You never know what a wild cow's defenses are.  They may spit blood, or even venomous toxins into your eyes in order to disable you.  Once disabled, they may try to eat your internal organs.

Tip #2

If you succeed in tipping a cow only partway, such that only one of its feet is still on the ground, you have created lean beef.  Such a feat is well done.  Naturally, being outside, the cow is unstable.  When it falls over, it becomes ground beef.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


From 1963, a bit of the Merseybeat from Gerry and the Pacemakers.


Cowboy star Bob Steele played Billy the Kid in half a dozen Poverty Row westerns from P.R.C. in 1940 and 1941.  At the same time he also played Tucson Smith, one of Republic's Three Mesquiteers (20 pictures from 1940 to 1943).  Buster Crabbe took over Steele's Billy the Kid character beginning in 1942.

The Billy the Kid of the P.R.C. films was not a ravening psychopath.  Instead he was a misunderstood hero on the run from zealous lawmen.  His pals were Fuzzy (Al St. John) and Jeff (Carleton Young).  The three of them are riding to the town of Paradise when they witness the murder of a marshal.  Too late to stop the murder or to catch whoever did it, Fuzzy rides into town pretending to be the dead man and finds the town being ruled by a viscous gang.  Naturally, where there is lawlessness, it's up to billy, Fuzzy, and Jeff to put a stop to it.

Billy the Kid's Fighting Pals also features Phyllis Adair, Curley Dresden, Edward Pell, Sr., and Julio Rivero.  Sam Newfield (The Terror of Tiny Town, Dead Men Walk, The Monster Maker) directed the film under the name "Sherman Scott."  The script was by George H. Plympton (Zombies of Mora Tau, Atom Man Vs. Superman, Congo Bill, and more than 300 others).

The plot of Billy the Kid's Fighting Pals has been used a gazillion times but that didn't stop kids of three-quarters of a century ago from enjoying the film and Bob Steele is always fun to watch.


Monday, August 21, 2017


R.I.P., Brian W. Aldiss.


Rest in Peace, Jerry Lewis.


I am falling down on my book buying, but rather than have you wail about my faults let me make your Monday a bit more cheerful with this classic story by Ellis Parker Butler, "Pigs Is Pigs."


Sunday, August 20, 2017


Dick Gregory passed away yesterday at age 84.  Gregory was a popular comedian who became a civil rights activist and a critic of the Vietnam War.  Gregory's activism expanded to economic reform, women's rights, anti-drug activities, politics, environmental issues, food industry criticism.  Through it all, his sense of humor gave him a platform to influence generations of of Americans.

Here he is performing in 2015:

Rest in peace, Dick.


Jim Reeves.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


One of the all-time great cannibalism songs.  Here's The Buoys.


Times were simpler then, at least in Comicbookland.

Wonderland  Comics ran for nine issue from Summer 1945 to April 1947.  Each issue led off with an adventure of Alex in Wonderland about a little boy who has been "dropped into Wonderland, the fabulous make-believe land of the nursery rhyme characters."  These characters are not behaving like they are supposed to -- at least according to the nursery rhymes -- so it's up to Alex and his friend Macaw (a top hat wearing bird) to set things straight.  In this issue, the problem is with Little Boy Blue, who would rather belt out a number on his horn than sleep in the hay.

The rest of this issue is crammed with funny animal stories.  I use the word "funny" advisedly.

 "Hoppy Hare" decides to become an inventor and invents a portable victory garden (actually a tonic that grows vegetables instead of hair when applied to the scalp).  What could go wrong?

Nip and Tuck (Nip is a boy who somehow resembles Sluggo and Tuck is a girl who resembles a cross between Nancy and Little Eva) have an adventure in the worlds of Never-Never in "The Land Above the Sky," where they meet cloud and lightning people who are being threatened by flying fish.  Nothing strange here, folks.

"Muffy and Duffy" are two bears.  Muffy's house is being overrun with mice and he's at his wit's end.  Duffy suggests that he get a cat.  Problem not solved.

"Ella Funt" has a one-page story ending in a stale joke.

"The Boy Pirate," with the aid of his talking animal friends, helps Ponce de Leon find the Fountain of Youth.  A bit off-putting for modern readers when The Boy Pirate vows to help the "old Ponce.'

'Chirpy and Cheery" are two birds.  Cheery likes to be the early bird who gets the worm, while Chirpy prefers caterpillars.  On this morning their food has grown huge and threaten to eat them!  SPOILER:  It was all a dream.  Nonetheless, Chirpy vows to eat only birdseed from now on.

Willie is a young boy who wants to be a hero but all his attempts at heroism fail.  Then one day he rescues a small bird from a carrion.  The bird he rescues turns into a beautiful fairy princess who, in turn, turns Willie into "Wishing Willie," with the power to make his wishes come true.  Willie is careless wioth his wishes but in the end he promises to do better in further issues (of which there would be only one and I don't think Wishing Willie appeared in it).

For the final story we have "Pussy Willow," a two-pager about belling the cat.  Ho-hum.

Seventy years ago funny animals were quite popular in comic books.  So, yes, times were simpler then in Comicbookland.

See for yourself:

Friday, August 18, 2017


Tex Ritter.


The Baron in France by John Creasey writing as "Anthony Morton" (1953)

British writer John Creasey (1908-1973) was one of the most prolific and popular writers of the mid-twentieth century.  He produced over 600 books under 28 pseudonyms, sometimes publishing as many as 17 novels in a year.

Creasey toiled seven years trying to break into publishing while gathering a large number of rejection slips.  He published his first book in 1930 and his first mystery novel in 1932.  Creasey was not by any means a great writer, but he was a competent and fast writer.*  Some of his books were very good.  I am partial to his Commander Gideon novels (as "J. J. Marric") and I also like his Inspector (later Commander) Roger West series.  Many of his other series are certainly readable; I've read about forty of his novels and enjoyed them all, and have about twenty more lurking around the house somewhere.

Creasey wrote 47 books (published from 1937 to 1979) about "The Baron,"** a sophisticated, Robin Hood-like jewel thief who reformed and under his true name, John Mannering, now owns and operates Quinn's in London -- an exclusive antiques store that that does much trading in precious gems.  Of course no one knows that Mannering was The Baron, although several -- including police officers -- suspect it.  As The Baron, Mannering is a master of disguise and a daring athlete with a large knowledge of the criminal arts.  A number of Creasey's earlier books were slightly revised and updated for a US audience.

The Baron in France starts with a daring burglary in a London flat.  The thief gets the fabulous Gramercy jewels but is interrupted by the owner, jewelry dealer Bernard Dale.  The thief shoots and kills Dale and attempted to kill Dale's 12-year-old daughter.  Circumstances point to Dale's junior partner Tony Bennett, who is arrested, tried, and sentenced to hang.  Mannering is convinced Dale is innocent but is stymied in trying to find the real murderer until ten days before Bennett's execution date when Dale's ex-wife shows up at Mannering's door.

Stella, the ex-wife, is remarried and living in France.  She overheard a conversation between her brother-in-law and his father, indicating that the father now had possession of the stolen jewels.  Stella's father-in-law is the wealthy Comte de Chalon, a monomaniac collector of stolen art and gems.  With time running out for Tony Bennett, Mannering travels to France to see if the Comte actually has the jewels and, if so, to discover where he had got them; the person who sold the jewels to the Comte was the one most likely to be the real murderer.

Ah, but the best-laid plans...There's another murder and Mannering is framed as the killer.  Mannering's wife is kidnapped.  An attempt is made on Mannering's life.  Worse, Mannering gets nowhere in solving the mystery.

The Baron in France is a fast read, a mere 190 pages.  The pace does not let up.  On the negative side, there are a lot of awkward sentences and a few nonsensical sentences.  The plot is ridiculous and Mannering, despite his daring and his athleticism, galumphs idiotically through the story.  Some characters are well-drawn while others are mere pasteboard.  Worse yet, the killer exposed at the end was basically revealed in the book's jacket copy. Final grade has to be either a C or a C+.

Nonetheless, I'll continue to read Creasey's minor works such as his The Baron series.  It's a guilty pleasure.

* There's an apocryphal story about Creasey, who knew next to nothing about the American West, starting one of his western novels with a "coyote soaring overhead."  No one has been able to find such a passage among Creasey's 30 westerns, so it either never happened or a sharp-eyed editor caught the flub in manuscript.  Either way, it didn't stop Creasey from claiming the tale was true..

** In the US editions, the first eight titles gave Mannering the title "Blue Mask" instead of The Baron.  By the ninth volume this seemed sort of silly.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Let's travel back to 1962 with Dell Shannon and an echo chamber.


The Mysterious Traveler was an anthology series on the Mutual Network from December 5, 1943 to September 16, 1953.  A mixture of mystery, suspense, science fiction and horror, the show was narrated by the titular character, played by Maurice Tarplin.  Created and written by Robert Arthur and David Kogan, the show produced almost 400 episodes.  Sadly, only about 75 episodes survive.  The show did spawn a magazine and a one-shot comic book, as well as two similar shows, The Sealed Book and The Strange Dr. Weird.

With the lonely whistle of a train in the background, The Mysterious Traveler would begin his weekly introduction:  "This is The Mysterious Traveler, inviting you to join me on another journey into the strange and terrifying.  I hope you will enjoy the trip, that it will thrill you a little and chill you a little.  So settle back, get a good grip on your nerves and be comfortable -- if you can!"

The episode linked below first aired on October 7, 1944.  In a crumbling mansion deep in a Louisiana bayou, Professor John Hanson has perfect Formula 397 -- a powerful insecticide.  Unfortunately for the professor, the insects are not happy about his success.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017


From 1966, some people who called themselves The Zombies.


What's green and sits in the corner crying?

The Incredible Sulk.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


It doesn't seem that long ago when she was a smiling, laughing, curly-haired, blonde toddler.

It's been a while since she has turned around.  She now has two amazing daughters who are themselves about to turn around.

Time passes by too quickly.  What does not pass and what does not diminish is our love for her.  We are proud of who she is.  No matter how often she turns around, she will always be our sweet, loving Jessamyn.

Enjoy your day, my darling, as we have enjoyed your continuing presence in our lives.


Teen idol Fabian practices his lip syncing chops.


A decade before The Streets of San Francisco, television viewers got a different look at those streets through the eyes Don Corey and Jed Sills (Anthony George and Doug McClure), who operated Checkmate, Inc., a detective agency which specialized in stopping crimes before they happened.  They were aided by consultant  (and former Oxford professor) Dr. Carl Hyatt (Sebastian Cabot).  Checkmate, Inc. had its offices in Corey's elegant apartment.

The show was created by mystery and suspense writer Eric Ambler.  Produced by Jamco, Jack Benny's production company, Checkmate aired on CBS from September 17, 1960 to June 20, 1962 -- a total of 90 episodes.  The show was a critical success but during its second season it was slotted against NBC's popular The Perry Como Show.  As Checkmate's rating fell so did its chances for a third season; it was replaced by the fish-out-of-water series The Beverly Hillbillies.  (Interestingly enough, Donna Douglas -- Ellie May in The Beverly Hillbillies -- appeared in four 1961 episodes of Checkmate as Barbara Simmons (A girlfriend?  An assistant? A secretary?  Who knows?  I haven't seen those episodes and "Waiting for Jocko" has only a four-person cast.)

"Waiting for Jocko" aired on October 21, 1961.  It was directed by don taylor from a script by Juarez Roberts.  A young John Williams wrote the theme music for the series.  Guest star Jeff Chandler plays a "constitutional psychopathic inferior" (Dr. Hyatt's words) who was denied parole based on Hyatt's professional testimony.  When he is finally released, Chandler's character holds Hyatt captive, planning to blow him up on his (Hyatt's) birthday at the exact hour and minute of Hyatt's birth.  (We did mention "psychopathic," didn't we?)


Monday, August 14, 2017


Last night at Jessamyn's birthday party, she and Christina started singing this song for some reason I can't explain.  My children are weird.

Here's Barnes and Barnes.


  • Ace Atkins, Dark End of the Street.  A Nick Travers mystery, the third in the series.   "Former pro football player-turned-college professor Nick Travers came of age in a smoky New Orleans bar -- an he owes a monumental debt to its owners, Jo Jo and Loretta, who took him under their wings.  Now Loretta wants Nick to locate her missing brother, the legendary singer Clyde James, who vanished in the sixties after his wife and a band member were murdered.  The Dixie mafia, a blonde bombshell grifter, and an Elvis-worshipping hitman are suddenly interested in the soul man as well, and Nick can't help wondering why.  The answer lies somewhere in Memphis and the Mississippi Delta, where casino money, dirty politics, and old secrets bubble up to the surface of the New South."  I love that this paperback has a quote from Robert B. Parker:  "Ace Atkins can really write."  Atkins, of course has continued the Spenser series after Parker's death.
  • Jemiah Jefferson, Fiend.  Vampire novel.  "In nineteenth-century Italy, young Orfeo Ricari teeters on the brink of adulthood.  His new tutor instructs him in literature and poetry during the day and guides him in the world of sensual pleasure at night.  But a journey to Paris will teach young Orfeo much more.  For in Paris he will become a vampire.  Told in his own words. this is the story of the life, death, rebirth and education of a vampire.  No one else could properly describe the shadowy existence, the endless hunger, the heightened senses or the amazing power of the undead.  No one else could recount the passing of the years and the slow realization of what it mean to grasp immortality, to live on innocent blood, to be a...FIEND"  We are into Anne Rice territory here, folks.  And the Oxford comma be damned!
  • "J. R. Roberts" (Robert Randisi), The Gunsmith #65:  Showdown in Rio Malo.  "Clint Adams' old pal Joe Bags has gone and got himself elected sheriff of Rio Malo, a town trying to turn respectable.  But when the killing starts, Joe learns that there's more to being sheriff than pinning on a tin star.  Suddenly the whole town's turned yellow.  And the only ones with any guts are three misfits who sign on as deputies -- one of them's still wet behind the ears, another old enough to be his granddad, and the third;s just too damn pretty for her own good...But the Gunsmith figures that any help is better than none, as Rio Malo gets ready to explode into a dusty hell of blood and bullets..."  Randisi's productivity and the quality of his work is amazing.
  • Sam Siciliano, The White Worm.  A "Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes," the fourth of (now) five by Siciliano.  "A journey to Whitby heralds the start of a new case for SHERLOCK HOLMES and Dr. Henry Vernier.  Their client is in love, but a mysterious letter has warned him of the dangers of the romance.  The object of his affection is said to be under a thousand-year-old druidic curse, doomed to take the form of a giant snake.  Locals speak of a green glow in the woods at night, and a white apparition amongst the trees.  Is there sorcery at work, or is a human hand behind the terrors of Diana's Grove?"  This is part of a series of both new and old adventures of Sherlock Holmes by various authors published by Titan Books.  Siciliano used Bram Stoker's The Lair of the White Worm as a springboard for this book.  (Two of his earlier Sherlock Holmes books were inspired by other books -- one by The Phantom of the Opera, the other by Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles.)
  • Gore Vidal writing as "Cameron Kay," Thieves Fall Out.  Crime thriller first published as a Gold Medal original in 1953, a time when the author found himself short of enough cash to keep him in champagne.  To solve this problem, Vidal churned out four mysteries:  three under the "Edgar Box" pseudonym and this one as by "Cameron Kay."  (Cameron Kay was the name of Vidal's great-uncle -- his mother's uncle -- and a former attorney general in Texas.)  Vidal didn't think much of the book and didn't want it republished.  Three years after Vidal's death, his agent gave Hardcase Crime permission to reprint the book.  What was it they said about the best laid plans?  I really don't know if this one is as bad as is claimed, but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, if only because one of my favorite books is Vidal's first novel, Williwaw.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


From 1995, futurist and renowned science fiction writer chooses his own "seven wonders of the world."  Fascinating.