Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


When you're talking 60s counterculture, you might just be talking The Fugs.  Ed Sanders, Tuli Kupferberg, and their merry little gang took political satire, drugs, and shock lyrics to a whole new level.  Here they interpret Matthew Arnold's poem "Dover Beach."


Well, that's a base canard.  Anything Goes is hardly an overlooked film...Bing Crosby, Donald O'Connor, Mitzi Gaynor, Phil Harris, and among the uncredited actors, Nancy Kulp, and Ruta Lee ...some immortal Cole Porter songs...screenplay by Sidney Shelton, from the wonderful Guy Bolton/P. G. Wodehouse play...what could be better?  Well, perhaps the 1936 version of the film, also starring Bing Crosby, but that one's been removed from Youtube.  Oh, well.

Still, this one is pretty entertaining.


Monday, July 24, 2017


Jesse Rogers and his 49ers.

A classic (from my past, at least).


  • Lois McMaster Bujold, Young Miles.  SF omnibus of two novels and a novella in the Miles Vorkosigan series:  The Warrior's Apprentice, "The Mountains of Mourning" (winner of the 1990 Hugo and Nebula awards for Best Novella), and The Vor Game (winner of the 1991 Hugo Award for Best Novel).
  • David Drake, The Far Side of the Stars.  Military SF, the third novel in the Lt. Leary series.  "While the Republic of Cinnabar is at peace with the Alliance, warriors like Lt. Daniel Leary and Signals Officer Adele Mundy must find other work -- like escorting a pair of wealthy nobles on an expedition to the back of beyond!  The Princess Cecile, the corvette in which they carved their reputations in letters of fire, has been sold as a private yacht, but she still has her guns, her missiles, and her veteran crew.  Daniel and Adele will need all of those things as they face winged dragons, an Alliance auxiliary cruiser, jealous lovers, and a mysterious oracle which really does see the future.  That won't be enough, though, when they penetrate a secret Alliance base and find a hostile fleet ready for a war that will sweep Cinnabar out of a strategically crucial arm of the galaxy.  Preventing that will involve skill, courage,and more luck than a sane man could even pray for, and it will require a space battle on a scale that a tiny corvette like The Princess Cecile has no business being involved in."
  • Adrian McKinty, In the Morning I'll Be Gone.  A Sean Duffy mystery, the third book in The Troubles trilogy.  "The early 1980s.  Belfast.  Sean Duffy, a conflicted Catholic cop in the Protestant RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) is recruited by MI5, the British intelligence agency, to hunt down Dermot McCann, an IRA master bomber who has made a daring escape from the notorious Maze Prison.  In the course of his investigations Sean discovers a woman who may hold the key to Dermot's whereabouts:  she herself wants justice for her daughter who died under mysterious circumstances in a pub locked from the inside.  Sean knows that if he can crack the "locked room mystery," the bigger mystery of Dermot's location might be revealed to him as a reward.  Meanwhile, the clock is ticking down to the 1984 Conservative Party Conference in Brighton, where Mrs. Thatcher is due to give a keynote speech..."
  • Robert B. Parker, Blue Screen, a Sunny Randall mystery in which "Sunny is hired vy a sleazy producer to serve as bodyguard for his prize client -- an impossibly spoiled B-list beauty whose backstory is full of deadly complications..."  And there's a guest appearance by Paradise police chief Jesse Stone!  Speaking of Stone, Death in Paradise,  in which "Stone is looking for two things:  the killer of a teenage girl -- and someone, anyone, who is willing to claim the body..."  Jesse Stone also takes center stage in Sea Change:  "after the body of a divorced Florida heiress washes ashore in Paradise, Jess Stone discovers her kinkly secrets -- and a sordid past that casts suspicion on everyone she knew, from firends to family.  Unfortunately no one is talking, so it's up to Stone to speak for the dead..."

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Released by Edison in 1915, this live action/animated gem is an "Animated Grouch Chaser."



John P. Kee & NLCC.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


A little bit of 1954 doo-wop from The Cadillacs.


America's Black and White Book:  Why We Are at War -- 100 Pictured Reasons by W. A. Rogers (1917).  Editorial cartoons from The New York Herald.

William Allen Rogers (1954-1931) began publishing his work at the age of fourteen in a Dayton, Ohio, newspaper.  A self-taught artist, his first big break came when her was nineteen and was hired as an illustrator for New York's Daily Graphic newspaper.  Four years later, he was hired by Harper's Weekly (where he remained for twenty-five years) to draw political cartoons following the departure of Thomas Nast.   After leaving Harper's, Rogers began a twenty-year stint at The New York Herald drawing daily political cartoons.

From Rogers' introduction to this book:

"Each government engaged in the European War has issued a White, Green, Blue, or Yellow Book, explaining the causes which led to its entry into the great conflict.

"These books are all interesting, and are full of valuable documentary information; but, if the busy people of America are to understand the reasons for their own participation in the war, some shorter cut to the desired end must be devised.

"We, therefore, offer a BLACK AND WHITE BOOK, in which our nation's reasons for going to war are set forth in pictures, a universal language which can be read at a glance by anyone who has eyes to see."

These editorial cartoons are pure propaganda:  GERMANS BAD!  They do however, gauge much of the feelings of the ordinary American at the time and detail the popular reasons the this country finally went to war.  It was not the purview of this book to go into the complicated and often inane reasons the war began.

Today the books remains as a snapshot in time, a compelling look at an America which was about to become a major player on the world stage, told with visual artistry by W. A. Rogers in a mere 100 drawings.


Friday, July 21, 2017


Huey "Piano" Smith & The Clowns.


Blood on the Moon by Basil Copper (1986)

This week many of the Friday's Forgotten Book participants are focusing on books about heists or bank robberies.  My  offering doesn't really hit the mark, but if it's a moonless night in a dark room and you squint your eyes, it comes almost close.

British author Basil Copper's laconic L.A. private detective Mike Faraday has appeared in over 50 novels.  Faraday's exploits are unique in the genre if only because the American language and idioms can't stand a chance against the British language and idioms.  (Cars, of course, have bonnets but they also have mainbeams.  Pruning shears are secateurs.  The master bedroom of a studio apartment happens to hold a corpse.)  Faraday's world is that of the tough pulp private eye; he operates in an unrevealed era that seems to combine the Forties, Fifties, and Sixties...and a bit beyond -- whichever seems to suit a particular scene.  This is also a world where a company can be protected by high-tech computers and electronics, but it's also a world where few know about computers and electronics but even an ordinary P.I. like Faraday can work out how these devises can be used to pull off an "impossible" crime.  It's also a world where Faraday's luscious secretary Stella makes the world's best coffee, to the point where, when Faraday has to rush out of his office, he stops to drink two cups.  And Faraday's first person narration contains some fairly tortured sentences

In other words, it's a mess.  But it's an enjoyable, wacky kind of mess that is habit-forming.

The case involves the theft of five million dollars from a locked box in one of fifty vaults at the prestigious Van Opper Trust.  Here's where the computers and electronics come in -- every box Van Opper holds has a camera in them that keeps a computerized eye on the contents.  So how did the money vanish from a box that hadn't been opened since the account was activated and while the camera was doing spot checks on its contents?

Enter Faraday -- thirty-three, brash, common, and with a reputation of getting things done.  Faraday's not the sharpest knife in the drawer (that distinction seems to go to Stella, she of the great coffee-making ability) but he has good instincts (usually) and figured out how the theft was done during his first day on the case.  Problem is the thieves start getting murdered and Faraday can't find out where the five mil has gone.  He knows someone was pulling the strings on this caper, a Mr. Big lurking in the background.

Along the way Faraday comes across an oil millionairess who has suddenly become ill and reclusive, a Mrs. Danvers-like housekeeper, a racketeer kingpin named Alex Rocco (not the actor from The Godfather) who may or may not have gone straight, a mobster who runs a hit men for hire operation, a 10,000 square foot bookstore where odd things seem to happen, a non-existent 1897 "first" edition of Alice in Wonderland, a cabaret singer, and a phony secretary who quickly has the hots for Faraday.

With the the pulp P.I. tropes and anti-tropes floating around the story, Faraday must still find out the identity of Mr. Big.

I enjoy enjoy this cock-eyed, bullet-laden series taken oh-so-seriously by the author,but the reader has to be  a certain mood to get through one.

One last point:  the 1958-61 television detective Peter Gunn is referenced at one point in the book, but his name is given as "Peter Gun."  That may have been a typo, but a part of me wonders if it really was.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Tex Beneke and The Miller Orchestra.


Who knows what fear lurks in the hearts of men?  Orson Welles knows.

From August 14, 1938.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Deep Purple...with the London Symphony Orchestra.


What's the difference between a hippo and a Zippo?

One's really heavy and the other is a little lighter.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Back in the early Seventies, Kitty and would stop in at an Irish pub in Hyannis, Massachusetts.  The pub happened to feature a group from Ireland; I believe its name was The Castlebridge Union.  I don't remember much except that it was an entertaining group.  Lots of Irish music, plus their version of the Beach Boys "Help Me Rhonda" -- a song that needs a few pints of Guinness to appreciate it being sung with a heavy Irish accent.  I also remember Ted Kennedy sitting at a corner table really enjoying the show.

Anyway, I tried to find an Irish version of "Help Me Rhonda" on the web but couldn't.  So I gues you'll have to do with this German version from a group called Strandjungs.



Paul Henreid plays John Muller, a medical school dropout who has recently been released from prison for practicing medicine without a license.  Bored with the job given him by the parole board, Muller gathers a gang of crooks to rob a local casino.  Things go awry and some of Muller's gang are killed.  Muller himself goes into hiding from a vengeful casino owner.  then Muller is mistaken for psychiatrist Dr. Bartok, who looks exactly like Muller except that Bartok has a large scar on one side of his face.  Muller sees Bartok's secretary (and lover) Evelyn Nash (Joan Bennett) and falls in love with her.  Deciding to impersonate Bartok, Muller scars his own face but, only after killing Bartok, realizes he scarred the wrong side of his face.  Things start to downhill from there until a number insignificant details brings us to a startling conclusion.

Henreid produced this film himself because he wanted (finally) to play a bad guy.  Directed by Steve Sekely, a Hungarian-born director of B-movies best known for THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, The Scar was scripted by Daniel Fuchs from a novel by radio actor Murray Forbes.

The Scar is also known as Hollow Triumph and The Man Who Murdered Himself.

A pretty good Forties noir flick.  Look closely for Jack Webb in the uncredited role of Bullseye.

Monday, July 17, 2017


Great googly mooglies!  I came across a Regis Philbin Christmas album in a local thrift store this week and -- lo and behold! -- there was this song he did with Donald Trump, the Trumpster!  I did not, would not, could not buy the album but I came away determined to inflict this monstrosity on you.  Here's a clip of them performing (?)/ butchering Gene's song on Letterman back in 2005.  Please note the length of the Donald's tie -- he still hasn't learned.

Suffer, my children.


  • Lee Child, The Enemy.  A Jack Reacher thriller.  "new Year's Day, 1990.  In a North Carolina motel, a two-star general is found dead.  His briefcase is missing.  no one knows what was in it.  Within minutes Reacher has his orders:  Control the situation.  Within hours the general's wife is murdered.  Then the dominoes really start to fall."  I've been going through a lot of Lee Child's books recently with no sign of me stopping.
  • John Creasey as "Anthony Morton," The Baron in France.  Mystery/crime novel about John Mannering, former jewel thief known as The Baron, who "is called upon to solve the brutal murder of jewelry dealer Bernard Dale, and to find the Gramercy jewels, a fabulous collection that has been stolen Dale's smart flat in Surrey after the murder.  Tony Bennett*, Dale's associate and a likable chap with countless friends, is accused and arrested.  No one believes he is guilty, but the evidence points to him alone, so the police have no choice but to consider him the murderer and thief -- even though the Gramercys are not in possession.  Mannering goes into action..."  Creasey published some forty books about The Baron, who was also featured in a fairly forgettable television series.
  • Loren D. Estleman, Poison Blonde.  An Amos Walker mystery.  "Who is Gilia Cristobal?  She's simply one of the hottest of hot Latina singers.  But nothing in her life is simple.  In her native land she was involved with people her government didn't like, and she barely escaped with her life to start fresh in the U.S.  In her wake she left accusations about a former lover, about violence, about blackmail.  Now she's in Detroit to make music and wants Amos Walker to protect her from those who have threatened her life.  She also wants him to investigate someone from the darkest chapter of her former life.  When Walker realizes the Gilia's main man, recently out of prison, doesn't regret the time he nearly killed Walker, what at first seemed like an easy payday starts looking more and more like a losing proposition.  Latin heat, indeed."  I'm betting this book reads much better than the back cover blurb.
  • Alan Dean Foster, Interlopers.  SF novel.  "Upset stomachs.  The collapse of civilizations.  Nervous breakdowns.  Blame them on a twist of fate, but Archaeologist Cody Westcott knows differently.  Something is causing these random acts of badness.  something ancient, something evil, something...hungry.  we are not alone, but we're about to wish we were..."
  • Bill Knox, Wavecrest/Susan Dunlap, Not Exactly a Brahmin/Robert L. Duncan, In the Enemy Camp.  A 1985  Detective Book Club 3-in-1 edition.  The Knox is one of his Webb Carrick mysteries.  "Carrick is prepared to accept and deal with the banality of the local fishermen and midnight forays by foreign trawlers as an inevitable part of his job with the Fisheries Protection Services.  It's a killer's secret plan that makes Webb a sitting duck."  Dunlap's book was the third published in her Jill Smith series.  "Ralph Palmerton's murder is Homicide Detective Jill Smith's first case.  Although painstaking investigation has come up with seven suspects, it takes a silly party to reveal the killer."  The Robert L. Duncan is one of his  thrillers.  "From the dangerous back alleys of Jakarta to the lush villas of millionaires, Chalres Clements and a psychopathic killer engage in a deadly contest for world control."
  • Adrian McKinty, The Bloomsday Dead.  The final book in McKinty's Dead Trilogy.  "Running hotel secrurity at a resort in Lima, Peru, Michael (Forsythe) has been lying low and staying out of trouble -- until two Columbian hit men hold him at gunpoint, and force him to take a call from his ex-lover. Bridget Callaghan.  At that moment she offers him a terrible choice:  come to Ireland and find my daughter, or my men will kill you -- now.  Once in Dublin, in the span of a single day. Michael;penetrates the heart of an IRA network, escapes his own kidnapping, and then worms his way into a sinister criminal underground in search of the missing girl.  But before the day is out, Michael once again finds himself face-to-face with his kidnappers -- as well as the lovely and murderous Bridget.  There he must confront a series of shocking truths about himself -- and do whatever it takes to stay alive."
  • Robert B. Parker, Hugger Mugger.  A Spenser mystery.  "when Spenser is approached by Walter Clive, president of (Georgia's) Three Fillies Stables, to find out who is threatening his horse Hugger Mugger, he can hardly say no:  he's been doing pro bono work for so long his cupboards are just about bare.  Disregarding the resentment of the local law enforcement, Spenser takes the case...Despite the veneer of civility, there are tensions beneath the surface southern gentility.  The rest of the Clive family isn't exactly thrilled with Spenser's presence, the security chief has made it clear he'll take orders from no one, and the local sheriff's deputy seems content to sit back and wait for another attack.  But the case takes a deadly turn when the attacker claims a human victim..."  As usual, there's large type, wide margins, and short, snappy dialog.  A fast read.
  • "Hugh Pentecost" (Judson Phillips), The Copycat Killers/Michael Gilbert, The Black Seraphim/Donald MacKenzie, Raven's Longest Night.  A 1983 Detective Book Club 3-in-1 edition.  Pentecost's Uncle George was more commonly found in short stories but he appear in a few novels -- including this one.  "George Crowther's law career was assured; no one expected the young man to abandon it and retreat to a cabin in the woods.  With his dog, Timmy, George spent years in the wild areas, learning them, knowing when something was wrong with his territory, but it is Timmy who discovers the horror.  A rubber tube lies poking out of the earth, a moan emerging from it -- when the earth is opened George discovers a coffin in which a young man has been buried alive.  It is a message for someone, a deadly message."  I read this one when it first came out and really enjoyed it.  Gilbert was a MWA Grand Master and recipient of the 1994 Diamond Dagger Award.  The Black Seraphim is a stand-alone novel and was a finalist for both the Edgar and Gold Dagger Awards:  "Twenty-four-year-old James Scotland is a brilliant young pathologist -- a badly overworked pathologist who needs a vacation.  His month in a small British ton begins quietly enough -- but beneath the quiet facade of the old cathedral town, poisonous passions surface.  A well-deserved break ends abruptly for Dr. Scotland."  Gotta love those poisonous passions!  Before he turned to a successful writing career, Donald MacKenzie spent twenty-five years as a confidence man and robber, giving him a fairly knowledgeable background for his mystery novels.  MacKenzie's most popular series (sixteen novels) concerned John Raven, a Scotland Yard officer, and later an unlicensed private investigator.  "Raven has been framed!  Count Stephen Szechenyi, in political exile in Spain for most of his life, desperately needs help; it comes too late.  Murdered, Count Szechenyi is used to put John Raven into a Spanish prison -- Raven's prints are found on the gun, but he didn't kill the count.  Who did?  And Why?"
  • Walter J. Sheldon, Rites of Murder.  A Bishop Burdick mystery.  I don't know a thing about this one.  Sheldon was a somewhat prolific pulp writer.  What I have from him has been solid journeyman work.
  • S. M. Stirling & David Drake, The Reformer.  Military SF novel, seventh in The General series and the last by Stirling, although Drake has written three further books in the series with other co-authors.  "After the collapse of the galactic Web, civilizations crumbled and chaos reigned on thousands of planets.  Only on planet Bellevue was there a difference.  there, a Fleet Battle Computer named Center had survived from the old civilization.  When it found Raj Whitehall, the man who could execute its plan for reviving human civilization, he and Center started Bellevue back on the road leading to the stars; and when Bellevue reached that goal, Center send copies of itself and Raj to the thousands of worlds still waiting for the light of civilization to dawn.  On Hafardine, civilization had fallen even further than most.  That men came from the stars was not even a rumor of memory in Adrian Gellert's day.  The empire of Venbret spread across the lands in a sterile splendor that could only end in another collapse, more ignominious and complete than the first.  Adrian Gellert was a philosopher, a student whose greatest desire was a life of contemplation in the service of wisdom...until he toughed the 'holy relic' that contained the disincarnate minds of Raj Whitehall and Center.  On that day, Adrian's search for wisdom would lead him to a life of action, from the law-courts of Venbret to the pirate cities of the Archipelago -- and battlefields bloodier than any in the history he'd learned.  And the prize was the future of humanity."
  • "Sara Woods" (Sara Bowen-Judd), Put Out the Light/"James Melville" (Roy Peter Martin), The Death Ceremony/Aaron J. Elkins, Murder in the Queen's Armes.  Another Detective Book Club 3-in-1 edition, again from 1985.  The Woods is one of the last books in her long-running series about barrister Athony Maitland; Woods died in 1985 although the series continued until 1987 with the 48th novel about Maitland.  "Antony Maitland latest case is fought outside the courtroom, without the aid of police.  Singlehanded he must exorcise a ghost and catch a killer.  If his plan fails, an innocent man faces death."   Melville's book is the seventh in his series about Kobe, Japan's Superintendent of Police Tetsuo Otani.  "Iemoto, the Grand Master of the Tea Ceremony, was shot and killed before Superintendent Otani's eyes.  It's a point of honor for Otani to find and pursue the murderer."  Elkins (who usually publishes without his middle initial) gives the third in his series about anthropology professor Gideon Oliver.  "Gideon faces a relentless foe.  All of his expertise in tracking down a murderer will be useless unless he can escape the trap the killer has set."  You may notice that the blurbs on these Detective Book Club editions are pretty generic and often belie the quality of some of the novels.

*  No, not that Tony Bennett, although he is also a likable chap.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Anne Lamott is the author of seven novels and ten books of nonfiction.  She is a popular author, activist, and public speaker.  Lamott was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 1985 and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2010.  Her writing, like this TED Talk, is marked with humor and openness.


Ethel Waters.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


Charlie Pride.


Taped to boxes of Wheaties*, this give-away comic book gave you four exciting adventures:

  • CAPTAIN MARVEL tackles water thieves out west
  • CRIME SMASHER goes after a diamond thief
  • THE GOLDEN ARROW may have met his match with a spoiled child, and
  • It's IBIS THE INVINCIBLE against a witch doctor to save a judge
All this and the Breakfast of Champions, too!  How can you go wrong?

*  When I was a kid, Wheaties tasted pretty good.  I tried a bowl recently and it was like eating damp cardboard.  Did they change the formula?  Or did my tastes change and mature over time?  Heaven forfend!

Friday, July 14, 2017


Today is Bastille Day, which also means that it is the birthday of my late mother-in-law, a.k.a. "She Who Felt Kitty Could Do Better."

Of course, after thirty-some years, Eileen admitted that I was a "good guy."  I prefer to think this admission was just a long delayed reaction to my charm and essential coolness.

Eileen could be a difficult person to know but at her core she was very kind-hearted -- which was the last thing she would admit to.  We miss her every day.


Guns N' Roses.


The Woggle-Bug Book by L. Frank Baum (1905)

The Woggle-Bug was introduced to the world in Baum's The Marvelous Land of Oz.  He's not just any woggle-bug; he's the Woggle-Bug, yclept Mr. H. M. Woggle-Bug, T. E.  The H. M. stands for Highly Magnified because he is a thousand times bigger than any other woggle-bug, about the size of a man.  The T. E. stands for Thoroughly Educated because he is.  He certainly knows more than any other woggle-bug who ever existed.  Alas, he doesn't realize that being the most thoroughly educated woggle-bug that ever existed still doesn't put him close to a person's intelligence.  We take what we are dealt with and seldom acknowledge another's superiority.

The Woggle-Bug, not having human sensabilities, also does not have a human's sense of fashion.  He prefers the most outrageous clothes, the brighter and gaudier the better.  Thus we reach the heart of the tale.

We begin with the Woggle-Bug in the big city.  Although he has traveled far from Oz and has been separated from his companions, he is content.  In his ignorance he struts through the city streets believing there is nothing different about him.  He comes across a store window and there he beholds a marvelous sight -- a dress on a manikin.  Not just any dress, but a Paris original that may have been driven out of Paris in shame.  This was the gaudiest dress that ever existed.  The colors, the style, the pattern of the cloth -- all screamed beauty to the Woggle-Bug, although to an ordinary viewer the most polite description would be one of Wagnerian plaid.  Focusing on the dress and not really noticing the manikin it was on, the Woggle-Bug fell in love with the manikin.  If clothes make the man, then a gaudy dress makes the manikin.  The Woggle-Bug is immediately determined to marry the manikin.

In the window there is a sign:  GREATLY REDUCED $7.93.

The Woggle-Bug realizes that the manikin is in greatly reduced circumstances and can be his for $7.93.  Alas he has no money.  Money never existed in Oz, you see.  He gets a job shoveling dirt, something he can do really well because he has four arms, for $2.00 a day.  After two days, he has earned $4.00 -- enough to buy his bride with seven cents left over to buy her some candy.

When he gets to the store, the dress is no longer in the window and he does not recognize the manikin without the dress.  A matron exits the store wearing the dress.  There. then is his bride-to-be!  He tries to give her $7.93, explaining that the extra seven cents can used for candy, but the matron flees.

For various reasons, the dress changes hands a number of times, with the Woggle-Bug in full romantic pursuit.  First to an Irish maid, then to a widowed Swedish woman with four children, then to a Negress washwoman, and finally to a Chinese gentleman.  This gives Baum a chance to poke racist "fun" at these various groups.  (and, can be a good excuse to stop reading right then.)

The Woggle-Bug fails in every attempt to get the dress or to marry the person wearing it.  he does, however, manage to tear a goodly portion of the dress from the Chinese man.  Half a loaf being better than none, he takes the cloth and runs.

Through convenient plot circumstances, the Woggle-Bug finds himself adrift on a runaway hot air balloon, eventually landing in an oasis, where Baum pokes more racist "fun" at Arabs.  The cloth is taken from the Woggle-Bug, but before fleeing the oasis he manages to secure enough of the cloth to make a necktie.  Crossing the desert sands he reaches a jungle where he is "befriended" by a lady chimpanzee, who takes him to a jungle city run by animals.  This time Baum is poking fun at governments, with few racist overtones.

In the end, the Woggle-Bug is back in the city and in his comfy apartment.  there's no place like home.

The Woggle-Bug Book is one of Baum's lesser-known tales for children, perhaps deservedly so.  Perhaps I'm being overly critical but children's literature in the first part of the last century (and beyond) appears rigidly aimed at white children, promulgating stereotypes that could help society hold down elements that might disrupt it.  Today we can laugh and poo-poo the racist stereotypes of an earlier time, but they were pernicious.  Reading such books helps us to understand the depths of racism and hopefully help us not go down that blighted path.

In the whole context of Baum's Oz books, The Woggle-Bug Book is a very minor and somewhat entertaining adjunct to the series.  Your mileage may vary.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


From 1964, The Serendipity Singers.


I'll admit that Jack Mather is no Duncan Renaldo and Harry Lang is no Leo Carrillo, but when you need a Cisco Kid fix, but they certainly can do a good job for you.

Saddle up, buckaroos.  From July 26, 1952, here's "The Meanest Man in Arizona."

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


The Royal Guardsmen with a song about a brave air-beagle and his vendetta against a German ace.


He told his girlfriend she was average because he was mean.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


The Beatles, from The Ed Sullivan Show, February 23, 1964.


Bill Cody (1891-1948) -- his actual name; no relation to Buffalo Bill Cody -- starred in a long string of westerns beginning in 1925.  He started out as a stuntman and worked his way up as an actor for 'Poverty Row" B movies.  In between various studio stints Cody toured with a number of wild west shows and circuses.  Beginning in 1934, Cody starred in four westerns with his son Bill, Jr. and he was billed as Bill, Sr. (which could have been confusing for some of his friends because Cody was born William Joseph Cody, Jr. in Manitoba in 1891, which would have made Bill, Sr. a Jr., then what would Bill, Jr. do?)

Andy Shuford was fourteen when he co-starred with Cody in The Montana Kid.  He started his film career as one of Hal Roach's Rascals; his character was never given a name.  Shuford starred with Cody in several "Bill and Andy" oaters.  He left films to join the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and became a highly decorated pilot.  H left the Air Corps as a colonel but never returned to the movies.

Doris Hill plays the newly-arrived niece of the local marshal because a hero has to get the gal at the end of a flick.  A former vaudeville dancer, Hill began her film career in 1926, appearing opposite such actors as Tim Tyler, George O'Hara, and Syd Chaplin (charlie's half brother).  Her career seemed to going well until she appeared in 1929's His Glorious Night, starring John Gilbert in his first released "talkie."  (There's a long-standing story that Gilbert's voice was so high-pitched and squeaky in this movie that it basically ended his career as a matinee idol.  There is also a story that Louie B. Mayer had technicians speed up the sound on Gilbert's voice to damage his career.  In fact, there was nothing wrong with Gilbert's voice.  The problem lay in poor direction and even worse dialogue.  The audience consistently laughed at the wrong times.  The film flopped as did the careers of those who appeared in it.)  Hill's career staggered on for another five years before she threw in the towel.

In The Montana Kid, Shuford's father is cheated out of his ranch in a crooked card game and is then shot.  All this just as Shuford comes into town to join his father.  Now orphaned, Shuford is taken under Cody's wing as Cody is determined to get the ranch back for the boy.  Plot ensues (or fizzles out, depending on your ability for critical thinking).

The Montana Kid was directed by Harry Fraser, who directed over 80 B movies, most of them westerns, in his career.  Fraser also came up with the original story, but scripting chores went to George A. Durham, a veteran scribe of B westerns.

The film runs just under an hour.  Enjoy.

Monday, July 10, 2017


Mezzo-soprano Ada Jones sings this number from the 1912 musical Over the River.


A very slow week with no new books added to our cramped house.  That makes my wife happy, but for me?  Well...

Anyway, I thought you needed something to get your Monday going, so here's a mad-lib.

I took the second paragraph from Percival Pollard's Lingo Dan, a 1903 mystery that happens to be #32 in the Queen's Quorum of the 125 most important detective crime short story books published between 1854 and 1967, and dropped out the main words to allow you to exercise your creative juices.

Have fun!

"__[Interjection]  ," said the   [adjective]     [noun]   of the   [number]     [noun]   to   [verb]   and   [verb]   the   [noun]   off his   [adjective]     [noun  , "that was a   [adjective]     [noun]   of   [noun]  .    [Pronoun]     [verb]   in a   [adjective]     [noun]  , with the   [noun]    of   [verb]   such   uncommon     [noun]   as   pronoun  , and this -- this   [verb]   the   [noun]     [pronoun]     [verb]  !    [Person's name]   , this   [verb]   a   [noun]  !"    [Pronoun]     [verb]   off   [possessive]     [noun]   and   [verb]   --[adjective]     [adjective]   and   [adjective]     [noun]   through   [possessive]     [hyphenated adjective]     [noun]  .

Sunday, July 9, 2017


Gen Kelsang Nyema was raised as a Presbyterian.  Her father was the son of a minister and was disappointed when she stopped going to church.  Her family moved to Georgia from Missouri when she was 13.  Nyema later attended Duke University, majoring in English.  After graduation, she taught karate.  One of her students introduced her to Buddhism.  Today she is one of the few ordained Buddhist nuns in the Southern United States.

Here she discusses relaxation, meditation, and happiness.


Tennessee Ernie Ford and The Jordonaires.

Saturday, July 8, 2017


The Beach Boys.  And check out the lazy girl in the red polka-dotted bikini dancing while she's seated.  Oh.  And there's also some banter with elderly surfers Jack Benny and Bob Hope.


Fiction House's Jungle Comics had a fifteen year run, from  January 1940 to January 1954 -- 163 issues; for much of the entire run, the main feature was a blond jungle man named Ka'a'nga.  It is not known who was official creator of Ka'a'nga but the character was a definite Tarzan knock-off.  When Fiction House turned to a jungle pulp magazine titled Jungle Tales, it featured a jungle lord named Ki-Gor; when they started their jungle comic book...Ka'a'nga was born -- he was Ki-Gor with a different name; he was Tarzan if Tarzan had been blond.  Ka'a'nga also appeared in a short-lived comic book of his own.

Tarzan', Ka'a'nga's parents had been killed by jungle beasts, but the young boy was rescued and raised by a she-ape.  Then, when beautiful aviatrix Jane, Ann Mason crashes in the jungle and is captured by slavers, it's up to Ka'a'nga to save her, beginning a long relationship.  Ann goes a long way in civilizing the jungle lord.  Ann, for her part, takes to wearing a two-piece leopard skin suit, matching Ka'a'nga's jungle shorts, just so you know they're an item.

In issue #26, Ka'a'nga and Ann battle the "Gorillas of the Witch Queen" in a story by-lined by Frank Riddell.  (I'm not sure is Riddell was a real person or a house name like John Peter Drummond was for the pulp Ki-Gor stories.)  When a jungle queen with an army of gorillas capture Ann, Ka'a'nga and his pygmy friend Ngeeso come to the rescue.  Stilted language ensues.

Roy L. Smith's Wambi the Jungle Boy is a lad who can talk to the animals.  He is an enigma to comic readers; he has no origin story and lives in a jungle that has both lions and tigers, Indian and African elephants, oh my! He wears a red mankini and a red turban.  Wambi has a curl right in the middle of his forehead and has distinctly feminine facial features -- not that there's anything wrong with that.  Like Ka'a'nga, Wambi also had his own short-lived comic book.  In this issue, the Rajah of Harik is killing all the buck in the jungle, leaving nothing for the tigers to hunt except for Wambi's animal friends.  Wambi, Ogg the gorilla, Tawn the elephant, and Coco the parrot teach the evil rajah a lesson.

Tabu, Wizard of the Jungle, is another muscle-bound blond.  Unlike Ka'a'nga, Tabu's shorts a red and skimpier and tighter and he wears a red cape (and sometimes it's blue, don't know why in either case).  Tabu once saved a witch doctot who then gave him another sense, which allowed him to "leap higher than a leopard, able to soar through the wind with more speed than the eagle."  In this issue Gai Taylor, daughter of a local trader, is paddling a canoe and looking for native flowers when a storm strikes, Knocking her (and her amazing, distinctive mammaries) into the crocodile-infested water.  Luckily, Tabu is on hand and, in best wizard fashion, turns the crocodilia into turtles.  Seeking shelter from the storm, Tabu and Gai are captured by the evil chief Iglana, who holds them as ransom for rifles so tht he can take over the jungle.  Tabu is a bit of a dim bulb because he doesn't use his powers right off the bat, which would have shortened the story by three pages.

The Red Panther has a belt holding up his shorts, while also holding a sheathed blade.  He also wears a red panther's head as a wimple.  This fashion faux pas has the abilities of a panther for some reason.  In this issue, The Red Panther accompanies a couple of explorers (one a good guy, the other a baddie only interested in "treasure") into the Gone-Gone Valley where none who enter ever comes out alive.  Well, we'll see about that.

There's no stinking jungle for Captain Terry Thunder.  Instead there are the hot desert sands for Thunder and his fellow Legionnaires and for Thunder's friends Kismet the camel, Vincent the vulture, and Anderson the Arab.  (Thunder is the character whose name forced Fawcett to change the name of its hero to Captain Marvel.)   Here, Vincent, who has been ostracized by others of his kind because he is a "vulture with a conscience, is feeling lonely and in need of a girlfriend so he flies off alone to sulk.  Vincent comes across Bob Cane and his wife who have been abandoned and left to die by their Arab guides.  In true hero fashion, he saves the couple from attacking vultures.  then Arabs attack just as Thunder, kismet, and Anderson arrive on the scene.  The whole story is a mess of nonsense.

Camilla, Queen of the Lost Empire, started out as immortal. a descendant of Genghis Khan.  She slowly evolved over 107 adventures from a jungle queen to a jungle girl/heiress whose real name is Camilla Jordan.  In this issue, she's still a queen and wears a red skirt and metal winged brassiere.  She carries a knife and a (probably buffalo) horn and sports a jaunty winged helmet.  To make things more interesting, Camilla's warriors happen to be Vikings, so when the evil Tzai attack Camilla's friends the pygmies, her viking ship sails over rough seas for revenge.  Logic and geography take a back seat in this one.

Simba, King of Beasts and lord of jungle, plain, and mountain, may be a lion but he's no pussycat.  He witnesses the destruction of a village and the kidnapping of the chief's son.  The wanton killing offends his regal and leonine sense of justice and he goes after the kidnappers.  First a python, then a murderous wart hog try to stop Simba but...well, he is the king, isn't he?  In the end the boy, Boku, decides he would rather be with Simba than with humans so they go off together to have adventures.

Jungle explorer Roy Lance was not as popular as the other characters in Jungle Comics; he only lasted for eleven adventures.  Lance fights with the Free French against Nazis and the many menaces of the jungle.  Baddie General Badeaux releases a vicious and badly-drawn leopard into Roy's lodge, hoping to kill our hero.  Roy escapes and discovers that Badeaux has also released leopards against the Free French, killing and injuring many.  But when it's Nazis against a quick-thinking jungle explorer, who do you think is going to win?

Finally we come to Fantomah, Mystery Woman of the Jungle, who is said to have been the first super-heroine in comics.  She has godlike powers that vary depending on the situation.  Most notably, she can transform herself into a blue phantom skeleton/vreature of into a flaming skull with blonde hair.  (She doesn't do this in this issue.  Rats.)  Sometimes she's a blonde and sometimes her hair is albino white.  She's not as zaftig as Gai Taylor in the earlier story, but with those powers, who needs to be?  She's not a nice lady to cross; she can be brbutal and cruel to her enemies.  In this episode she's accompanied by jungle boy Ken and black panther Fury.  An explosion has drained a jungle lake, revealing an ancient Egyptian city.  Vroon, a murderous baddie kidnaps Ken and forces Fantomah to use her powers to allow him -- Vroon -- to loot the ancient city of its gold.  Fantomah agrees -- to a point -- but her agreement puts young Ken in more danger than before.

That's nine stories in 68 action-packed pages, not a bad deal for ten cents.


Friday, July 7, 2017


James Brown & the Fabulous Flames, with both parts of this song.


The Girl From Hollywood by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1923)

Once again, I dip into the coincidence theater that is Edgar Rice Burroughs' work, this time with a standalone soap opera/melodrama/thriller/western/romance/mystery -- that's a lot of area to cover for a that on its surface should be considered laughable by modern reads.

Perhaps it's best if I just tell you whom this novel is about.

  • COLONEL CUSTER PENNINGTON.  A Virginian from a long line of proud Penningtons, the Colonel came to southern California with his family for his health.  He fell in love with the clean outdoor living the area afforded, bought the Rancho el Ganado, prospered, and will never leave the area.  He is proud, honest, and upright and has tried to teach his children to be the same.
  • CUSTER PENNINGTON.  The eldest of the Colonel's two children and heir to his estate.  Custer is somewhat of a prig, a dim bulb, and an incipient alcoholic -- although I'm sure the author did not mean to portray him thusly.  When angered (which is not often), he may fly into a violent rage.  Custer loves the ranch, his family, and 
  • GRACE EVANS.  Grace is Custer's fiance and the Pennington's neighbor.  Custer and his sister and Grace and her brother grew up together.  Grace and her brother live with their mother, a woman who had been abandoned by her husband when the children were very young.  The family moved to Southern California and -- as with the Colonel -- fell in love with the area.  Grace, however, also has ambitions.  She wants to be a movie actress and plans to move to Hollywood to try her luck.  After a year or two, when she has become a success, she will move back to marry Custer.  She is beautiful and, needless to say, also somewhat of a dim bulb.  Her character may not be the strongest.
  • EVA PENNINGTON.  She is Custer's little sister, a beautiful young woman who is bright, annoyingly perky, easily led, and naive.  For some reason, everybody loves her, especially
  • GUY EVANS.  Guy is Grace's older brother and a struggling writer.  He is somewhat engaged to Eva and will marry her once he has sold some stories and is able to support her.  Guy wants to have enough money to marry, but he is also fond of drink.  These two thing, combined with his immaturity, have got him ensnared in criminal activity, acting as a go-between for a large shipment of alcohol that has been stolen from a government warehouse.  Like most people in this book, Guy believes the Volstad Act was both misguided and silly.
  • SLICK ALLEN.  A neer-do-well who blackmailed Guy into acting as his agent for the stolen liquor, Slick has finagled a job on Rancho el Ganado as a hand in order to keep an eye on the illegal stash, which he has hidden on a remote part of the ranch.  Slick controls a gang of murderous Mexicans in this enterprise, but Slick himself is controlled by another, who has him running dope.  When Custer caught Slick torturing a horse, he fired him and slick is one to hold a grudge.
  • WILSON CRUMB.  He's a man who lives up to his name, a complete cad.  Crumb is a handsome Hollywood actor and director and total rotter.  Crumb is also a dope dealer and Slick Allen's boss in that venture.  His greed knows no bounds and that greed and a fear that he is losing control of Allen has him setting Allen up to be arrested and sentenced to a year in prison.  Allen, as we know, is one to hold a grudge.  When Grace arrives in Hollywood, she falls under Crumb's spell and (remember, she's a dim bulb) soon is posing nude for him.  Crumb then tricks her into becoming an addict.  As Grace slides further into depravity, she becomes Crumb's mistress and a reliable conduit for selling his wares.  This is not the first time Crumb has corrupted an innocent.  Before Grace, there was 
  • SHANNON BURKE, The Girl From Hollywood, also known as GAZA DE LURE.  Shannon was another innocent who came to Hollywood seeking stardom and fell into Crumb's lair.  Crumb tricked her into becoming addicted to cocaine and morphine.  Despite her addiction, Shannon is at heart a strong character.  She kept her true name hidden from Crumb and his cohorts and, although forced to sell drugs, refused to sleep with him.  When Shannon gets word that her mother is desperately ill, she leave Crumb to rush to her side.  Coincidentally, he mother has bought a small orchard next to Rancho el Ganado.  When her mother dies, the Pennington's take Shannon under their wing, unaware of her past as Gaza de Lure.  The wholesome country living and Shannon's strong will cure the girl of her addiction.  She falls in love with Custer but knows she must never let that be known because the highly moral Penningtons, whom she now looks on as family, could never understand or approve of her had they known the truth.

So there are misunderstandings, imprisonment of an innocent, a tragic death, threats, a murder, self-sacrifice, a trial that ends with a near hanging, a raging fire, a few twists here and there, a suicide attempt, kisses, unwelcome advances, a hard-assed U.S. marshal, a very rushed conclusion, and a startling (well, perhaps not so startling) last sentence.

Writer and critic Damon Knight once described a "idiot plot," wherein nothing would happen in a story if everyone was not an idiot.  Such is the case here.


Still, there is something about this book and about Burroughs' writing.  I've said before that Burroughs is not a literary stylist.  As a matter of fact, he can be a pretty clunky writer.  But he somehow can drag the reader along, faster and faster into his coincidence-filled world.  Burroughs knows how to excite and how to make the reader care for his characters in spite of all logic (and critical taste).

Did I like this book?  Of course I did.  It's a prime example of what Bill Pronzini has called "alternative" literature -- writing so bad you have to love it.

I'm a sucker for this sort of thing.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


From 1953, here's The Memphis Blues Boy himself, Willie Nix,


Crime Club (1946-1947) was the second radio series based on the Doubleday book imprint.  This episodes dramatizes  the 1941 novel Hearses Don't Hurry by "Stephen Ransome."  Ransome was one of the many pseudonyms of pulp master Frederick C. Davis, creator of Bill Brent and the Moon Man, among others.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017


The Alan Price Set.


Wehman Bros. Song and Joke Book No. 3 (most likely published in 1901 or 1902) was one of many similar booklets published around that time that had a particularly racist bent, "jocularly" promulgating stereotypical views of blacks, Jews, Irish, Germans, and women.  I've listed some of non-offensive jokes below.

  • A man fell in a barrel of whiskey but dies in good spirits.
  • Most things go to the buyer but the coal goes to the cellar.
  • Every time I get on a ferry-boat it makes me cross.
  • "I hear your brother died and left a lot of money."  "Yes.  a policeman shot him before he got out of the bank with it."
  • Speaking of playing poker, the other day I went down cellar and saw a cat and two mice.  In half a minute everything was in the kitty.
  • "Do you think the elevator boy stole your watch?"  "He swore up and down that he didn't."
  • I was walking down Fourteenth st. the other day and picked up a nickel.  I went a block further and found a saloon.
  • "If you are in doubt about kissing a girl what do you do?"  "Give her the benefit of the doubt."
  • I saw a pretty girl on the lawn with her stockings on wrong side out, so I turned the hose on her.

Need I mention that sometimes I don't miss the "good old days"?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra.


From Walt Disney, the classic story of a young silversmith's apprentice caught up in the events leading up to the Revolutionary War.

Directed by Robert Stevenson and scripted by Tom Blackburn from Esther Forbes' 1944 Newbery Award winning children's book.  Hal Stalmaster starred as Johnny Tremain.  Also included in the cast were Luana Patten, Jeff York, Sebastian Cabot, and Richard Beymer.  Look closely and you'll see Whit Bissell (as Josiah Quincy), Dabs Greer ( as Nat Lorne), House Peters, Jr. (uncredited as a Patriot Commander at Lexington), and Sharon Disney (Walt's adopted daughter as Dorcus).

Grab a cup of untaxed tea and enjoy.

Monday, July 3, 2017


Per Rick Robinson's request.


So this happened.  My normally-on-Monday INCOMING post showed up yesterday.  Possible explanations are:

  • I goofed up.  But since I am infallible that seems unlikely.
  • A certain person's constant and erratic tweets fouled up the interweb thingy, sending my post down the wrong tube.  Based on my highly technical knowledge of life, the universe, and everything, this is possible but not probable.  Or,
  • Premature Fourth of July fireworks blasted a hole in the space-time continuum and sent my post to yesterday.
Hmm.  I'll take what's behind door number 3, as I shake my hand at those young whippersnappers in my neighborhood and their dadgummed firecrackers!

Sunday, July 2, 2017


Jim Al-Khalili is a British-Iraqi theoretical  physicist.  In 2014 Al-Khalili was named a RISE (Recognizing Inspirational Scientists and Engineers) Leader by Britain's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and is past-president of the British Humanist Association.  He is currently Professor of Theoretical Physics and Chair in the Public Engagement of Science at the University of Surrey.  Here, he tells us "How Quantum Biology Might Explain Life's Biggest Questions."


Blind Willie Johnson (1897-1945) was a blues gospel singer, sidewalk performer, and preacher.  He had only five recording sessions in his short life.  Johnson was not born blind; many scholars feel he was blinded by his stepmother when, during an argument with his father, she threw a solution of lye water when Willie was seven.

This hymn -- "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" -- was one of 27 recordings aboard the Voyager spacecraft in hopes that it might eventually reach other life forms in the universe.  The song was also selected by the Library of congress for inclusion in the National Recording Registry of significant recordings.  A powerful song.


  • Chris Grabenstein, The Crossroads.  YA thriller/horror.  "Meet Zack Jennings.  Average kid.  He has a hardworking father.  A new Stepmother.  A new house.  Even a new dog, Zipper.  Things are looking up for Zack.  EXCEPT THERE IS THIS GHOST.  This is a really nasty ghost.  A ghost who kills people.  And Zack is on his list."  This one, Grabenstein's first YA, won both the Agatha (the first of four that he has far) and the Anthony Awards
  • Ruth Plumly Thompson, The Hungry Tiger of Oz.  The twentieth Oz book and the sixth by Thompson, following the death of L. Frank Baum, The Royal Historian of Oz.  "[T]he winsome Hungry Tiger is whisked away to the Kingdom of Rash in an attempt to satisfy his appetite.  Little Betsy Bobbin and the perky Vegetable Man join him and young Prince Reddy in a search for the three magic Rash Rubies.  They travel through the Gnome Kingdom, whereupon the Tiger is captured by the Giant Big Wigs.  Meanwhile Princess Ozma herself is kidnapped from Emerald City by Atmos Fere the Airman.  Will the Rash Rubies be magic enough to rescue our friends, defeat the wicked Pasha, and return Reddy to his throne as the Rightful Ruler of Rash?"  Dunno.  Guess I'll have to read it to find out.

Saturday, July 1, 2017


from 1964, Gerry & The Pacemakers.


This issue of Master Comics certainly gave you your ten cents worth with its "BIG 52 PAGES."

To begin with, we have an adventure of Captain Marvel Jr., aka Freddy Freeman, in "The Anonymous Crook!"  Rosebud Acres is a community entirely inhabited by reformed criminals...until it isn't.  One resident decides to return to his unlawful ways and it's up to Captain Marvel Jr. to  stop him.

In "The Ivory Tusk Murders," Nyoka the Jungle Girl not only is involved in a double murder but has been cast in the role of murderess.

Jim Barr and Susan Kent use Jim's gravity helmets to become the flying fighters of crime -- Bulletman and Bulletgirl.  In "The Vanishing Bombs" the flying Detective and Bulletgirl must discover who stole a truckload of bombs.  Luckily, their helmets also protect them from bullets.

Cowboy hero Tom Mix discovers that death can come at the end of a pickax in "Golden Treachery."

Filling out the issue are a number of comic fillers with Dizzy Daisy, Trader Tom, Spud and Bud. Zuzu the Zoo Keeper, and colonel Corn and Korny Cobb.  Also Sam Spade uses a bottle of Wildroot Cream Oil to close a case in an ad for the hair tonic, and, in another ad, Popsicle Pete visits the Air Control Tower.


Friday, June 30, 2017


The Coasters with a Leiber and Stoller classic.


Stone, M.I.A. Hunter:  Desert Death Raid by "Jack Buchanan" (in this case, Bill Crider) (1989)

The ever-prolific Stephen Mertz wrote a lot of paperback men's adventure novels early in his career, contributing to Don Pendeleton's Executioner series, and creating several series of his own, including this one.  Mark Stone, former Green Beret and former P.O.W., took upon himself a mission to rescue other Vietnam P.O.W.s.  This he accomplished in the bloodiest way possible, aided by Hog Wiley, an East Texas good old boy mercenary, and Terrance Loughlin, a British commando.  (Wiley and Laughlin, although good friends, tease each other in such a fashion that they could have been part of Doc Savage's team or two of Nick Fury's Howling Commandos.)  As the series went on, the group began to used off the books by the U.S. government for special missions, often far from the steaming jungles of Southeast Asia.

Desert Death Raid, one of three in the series written by Bill Crider, brings Stone's team to the desert country in North Africa where the country's president, Felix Sholumbe is barricaded in his presidential place by an army of rebel fighters.  With Shalombe are his daughter, several advisors, and an important Russian defector.  Stone's mission is to rescue Shalombe and the Russian and get them safely out of the country.  To do this Stone must follow his usual plan of action:  improvise.

Stone and his men manage to get the President and four others out in a helicopter.  The body count is relatively minor.  The rebel general sends three fighter jets to blast the helicopter our of the sky.  Stone's men managed to shoot down two of the jets before their helicopter crashes.  Everybody on the copter survives, but they are in the blistering heat of the desert without food or water.  Then come a large group of desert bandits, followed by some sixty rebel soldiers, and the body count really begins to climb.

Of course that's not all.  The president's daughter is cozying up to her father's brutal head of security.  The Russian defector, who turns out to be a beautiful woman, is cozying up to Stone, while at the same time is having secret confabs with the president's gay assistant.  The rebel general is saddled with a Russian "advisor" who scorns him.  The president's wife has been kidnapped and held prisoner for almost a year.  The neighboring country (Libya) is rules by an unnamed dictator, along with the Russians, has plans for when the rebels control the country completely.  There's a major drug trafficking ring operated in the area.  And there are camels.

Camels.  Why did there have to be camels?*

Desert Death Raid is a quick, highly readable jaunt in the men's action adventure genre.  It's not a great book, nor does it claim to be.  The action moves fast, the plot twists just enough, and the body count is very high, making it -- dare I say it? -- a bloody pleasure.

If you like this sort of thing, it's a good way to spend a couple of hours.

*Bill Crider returned to camels when ghosted the adult western novel The California Camel Corps as by "Jon Sharpe" (#287 in the Trailsman series).  But camels will never be as important to him as alligators, wild boars, or Bigfoot.

Thursday, June 29, 2017


Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur, reprising a song from their Jug Band days.  When Kitty and I were first married, we had a Siamese cat named Guabi.


A few weeks ago, Evan Lewis presented a comic book adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's classic novel The Maltese Falcon on his not-to-be-missed blog,  Davy Crockett's Almanac.  Why stop there?  I thought.  Here's two different radio versions of the story, one starring Edward G. Robinson, the other Humphrey Bogart, as the immortal Sam Spade

Producer Cecil B. DeMille presents "The Maltese Falcon," adapted by John Huston and starring Edward G. Robinson, Gail Patrick, and Laird Cregar.  This aired as episode 382 of Lux Radio Theater on February 8, 1943.

Then, three years late, on July 3, 1946, the short-lived* Academy Award Theater presented a stripped-down, half-hour version of "The Maltese Falcon" reuniting Humphrey Bogart, Mart Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet in their original roles.  This version was produced and directed by Dee Englebach.  Hugh Brundage announced the show. Frank Wilson adapted the script.

Which version do you prefer?

*Academy Award Theater last for only 39 episodes.  Its extravagant budget (for 1946) of $5000 an episode was just too heavy a burden to bear.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


A bit of swampgrass from Doug Kershaw.


I needed some extra money so I found a job helping a one-armed typist do capital letters.

It's shift work.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Jim Croce...too soon gone.


How many of us have spent endless hours glued to the tube while a local television host presents and endless stream of bad horror movies?

Yep.  Just about all of us.

Here, Gunther Dedmund (not to be confused with Gubther Dedmund) presents The Robot Versus The Aztec Mummy, a 1958 Mexican (natch!) flick staring Ramon Gay and Rosita Arenas.  Originally released in Spanish as La Momia Azteca Contra El Robot Humano (The Aztec Mummy Against the Humanoid Robot), was directed by Rafael Portillo from a script by Alfredo Salazar (Salazar and Guillermo Calderon provided the original [!] storyline.)

The reviews on IBMb are headed with such titles as "Cardboard box fights scaly pile of rags!," "Watch this & your eyes will bleed & your breath will stink," "Contrary to popular opinion, it won't make you gouge your eyes out...BUT...," "Quite possibly the worst movie ever made," and "It's a disaster."

Brace yourself.  It's going to be a bumpy ride.

Monday, June 26, 2017


Ignore the get-ups, enjoy the music.  Here's Cream.


  • Michael Brandman, Robert B. Parker's Fool Me Twice.  A Jesse Stone mystery, the second by Brandman continuing the adventures of Parker's character.  "A Hollywood movie company has come to town, and brought with it a huge cast, crew, and a troubled star.  Marisol Hinton is very beautiful, reasonably talented, and scared out of her wits that her estranged husband's jealousy might take a dangerous town.  When she becomes the subject of a death threat, Jesse and the rest of the Paradise police department go on high alert.  And when Jesse witnesses a horrifying collision caused by a distracted teenage driver, the political implications of her arrest bring him into conflict with the local selectmen, the DA, and some people with very deep pockets.  There's murder in the air, and Jesse's reputation as an uncompromising defender of the law -- and his life -- are on the line."  Brandman wrote three Jesse Stone novels following Parker's death; the series is now being continued by Reed Farrell Coleman.
  • Al Cobb, Savannah's Ghosts.  Collection of supposedly "all-true" ghost stories from Savannah, Georgia.  "These exciting stories were compiled by examining past and present supernatural cases involving ordinary Savannah citizens."   The author is a member of The Searchers, a local group which gathers "information and evidence of ghostly activity in and around Savannah."  Cobb is quick to explain that The Searchers "are strictly a non-profit group and not affiliated with any occult or Satanic group of any kind.  We only wish to add to the knowledge of mankind and its purpose spiritually on this planet...Currently [as of the 2001 publication date] The Searchers are running ads in Creative Loafing Newspaper offering to help anyone who has a suspected haunting or other supernatural occurrence."  I've mentioned before that I am a sucker for this type of regional book.  This copy was signed by the author.
  • Douglas G. Greene, editor, Classic Mystery Stories.  Mystery story anthology of thirteen stories dating from 1841 to 1920.  Many of the usual suspects are included among the authors:  Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Rodrigues Ottolengui, Jack London, Jacques Futrelle. Samuel Hopkins Adams, Baroness Orczy, Gelett Burgess. Melville Davisson Post, Susan Galspell, E. C. Bentley, and H. C. Bailey.  A good collection but geared more for the neophyte.  Greene is a noted scholar of the genre and the co-owner and editor of the mystery publisher Crippen & Landrau.
  • Mel Odom, Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel:  Cursed.  Television tie-in novel.  "Sulking around the Slayer in Sunnydale, the vampire Spike has often run into demons intent on punishing him for throwing in with the White Hats.  But when there are hints of a more organized campaign dedicated to the vampire with a chip in his head, Spike sets off on the trail of whomever's put a hit out on him.  Meanwhile, in the City opf the Angels, a vampire with a soul finds that the search for a mystical object is tied to his days as the vicious Angelus.  Then Spike -- his former partner in carnage -- arrives in L.A.  Each nursing a grudge, and with the specter of Buffy in both of their (cold, dead) hearts, the two vampires reluctantly work together...until their torturous past catches up with them!"  This book "takes place in an alternate continuity during Buffy's fifth and Angel's third seasons."
  • William MacLeod Raine, Guns of the Frontier.  Nonfiction.  An account of some of the famous gunslingers and lawmen of the old West.  "It was a free country, wide open.  but freedom was bought by the gun.  And when the gunsmoke cleared away, too many hombres were ready for the undertaker.  Into this lawless land rode the giants of the West:  Wild Bill Hickok, Sam bass, Bat Masterton, Ben Thompson.  Some were bed, some were good...all were quick on the trigger -- and only the toughest survived."  The original subtitle for the book was "The story of how law came to the West."  Raine was a very popular western writer with well over eighty books to his credit.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


A beatboxer explains it all.


Aretha Franklin with Joe Ligon of The Mighty Clouds of Joy.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


The Big Bopper.


Are you a Ralston Straight Shooter?  If so, then this is the comic book for you,   And, keep eating your Ralstom Wheat Cereal -- just one blue seal from the box and some small change could net you some neat premiums!  And did you know?  If you fry up some Ralston Wheat Cereal and pour syrup on it, it make a great breakfast!

Okay, now that you've had your Ralston Wheat Cereal, let's see what's up with Tom Mix and the gang at the TM-Bar ranch.

Oh no!  Tom's smart and talented horse Tony has been kidnapped by Two-Spot Jake, the smartest hoss thief in the Southwest!  Tom and Wrangler go riding off to find them, leaving little Jane and ranch hand (and comic foil) Wash and his mule Zobelia behind.

Later Jane and Wash go into town to get supplies and see a rodeo in progress.  Well, nothing can beat a rodeo, can it?  So Jane and Wash watch from the stands as the rodeo's owner, Colonel Butler ( who looks and dresses remarkably like Buffalo Bill Cody) steps in the ring and introduces "the orneriest hoss in the world!  Black Satan!" and offers $1000 in gold to anyone who can ride him.  Many try but all fail.  But little Jane notices something about the horse.  She runs into the ring to take up the challenge.  Somehow Jane is able to quiet the horse and she climbs on the saddle.  She shouts to Wash to get the sheriff and follow her -- she's going after Tom!  She bolts out of the ring with Black Satan and is followed closely by Colonel Butler and two of his cronies who are determined to stop her before she reaches Tom.  Will she make it?  Or will the Colonel and his men stop her?  Why is she so desperate to see Tom?  And what is the secret of Black Satan?  Why is Jane able to tame the horse while grown men couldn't?  All is revealed in the next three pages.

Jane, by the way, has some strange dreams.  Later in the issue, we find the continuing adventures of "Jane at Dream Castle."  In the previous issue, Jane and her warrior friend -- a tall muscular blond who carries a bow and arrow and wears only a ragged loin cloth -- Sir Lard-Tub and his cowardly squires.  Now she finds herself with her warrior friend outside the dream castle.  The cruel wizard Maldred has imprisoned the rightful lord of the castle and his daughter.  Jane's friend, who finally has a name -- Strongbow, is about to save them.  Jane comes along and her brains, along with some of the things Tom has taught her, help Strongbow gain the castle.  Unfortunately, Jane wakes up before they could rescue the lord and his daughter.  Maybe next issue...

Tom returns for another adventure as he meets "La Puma -- Scourge of the Badlands!"  The mysterious La Puma has been terrorizing the ranchers, sheepherders, and settlers outside of Dobie.  Tom, Pecos, Jane, and Wash ride out to investigate.  Tom and Pecos end up against La Puma and his vicious gang, as well as an angry grizzly bear.  Meanwhile, Jane has an idea to help capture the baddies.

Also in this issue is a story about Amos Q. Snood and the Fumble Family (in which Amos tries to cheap his way out of buying a Christmas tree) and a two-pager about Stubby and His Straight Shooter Pals, along with a gazillion features for kids.

And throughout the book:  reminders to catch Tom and his TM-Bar ranch friends in The Tom Mix Ralston Straight Shooters every weekday from 5:45 to 6:00 on the Blue Network Coast to Coast!  And keep enjoying your Ralston Wheat Cereal!

Friday, June 23, 2017


Joe Bennett and the Sparkletones livened up 1957 with this hit.


The Lad and the Lion (1917/1938) and The Man-Eater (1915/1955) by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Here are two standalone books with very similar themes by the popular Edgar Rice Burroughs.

The Lad and the Lion first appeared as a three-part serial in All-Story beginning on June 30, 1917.  It was released in book form by Burroughs' own publishing house in 1939, and later by Canaveral Press and by Ballantine Books in 1964.  The copy I read is an Ace paperback printing from 1978 which states, "Twenty-one thousand words of new material added to book edition," which, I assume, refers to the original 1939 edition, although I'm to lazy to compare the editions to verify this.

The book follows a typical Burroughsian path, starting in a Graustarkian kingdom and stranding the protagonist in a merciless African climate to undergo both adventure and maturation.  Prince Michael is the young heir of an old European kingdom undergoing political turmoil.  The revolution comes and the king is assassinated, but a loyal retaining manages to get Michael aboard a crowded ship fleeing the violence.  Naturally the ship runs into a hurricane and is sunk.  A piece of the wreckage knocks Michael unconscious and he wakes up alone in the water, bobbing in his life jacket.  He manages to climb on a nearby lifeboat.  The blow to Michael's head has given him total amnesia -- not only can he not remember his past, every memory is gone including language and any knowledge of being a human.  Michael is a blank slate who existence started only when he climbed onto the lifeboat.

The story could have ended there for Michael except that a steamer passes by and rescues him.  The steamer has a crew of one, an insane man who had originally been a stowaway.  The only other living being on the ship is a huge caged lion.  The man forces Michael to be his slave.  Michael somehow befriends the lion.  This goes on for an incredible three years, until the man beats Michael just once too often and the lion escapes from his cage and kills the man who is beating his friend.  The ship is wrecked off the coast of Africa and the lad (who by now is a young man) and the lion begin a trek across the Sahara.

Whoever said that thing about the willing suspension of disbelief must have had Edgar Rice Burroughs in mind.

Meanwhile, off in Graustarkville (or wherever), political intrigue continues.  There is a new king and a new prince.  The prince, Ferdinand, is a complete little snot.  He has no one to play with and his tutor suggests that he play with Hilda and Hans, the gardener's children, as young Michael used to do.  Ferdinand want nothing to do with Hans, but Hilda is a very pretty little girl and Ferdinand is smitten.  their relationship blossoms into an imperious friendship and Hilda turns from a sweet and innocent girl to a venal turnip-brained fathead.  Ferdinand wants his father dead so he can be the king and do whatever he wants, so there!  It so happens that there's a cabal of plotters within the palace and there's an underground revolutionary movement.  Eventually Ferdinand gets his wish and becomes king.  He then extravagantly spends the country's capital on himself while his people suffer.

Back on the desert, Michael and the lion rescue the daughter of a sheik from a band of desert outlaws.  Remember, Michael has no memory.  He has never seen a girl, especially a beautiful one.  Feeling he can't understand begin to bubble up because of this creature with the strange things arising from her chest.  The girl gives Michael a name -- Aziz.  She begins to teach him Arabic.  Michael and the lion have been raiding the sheik's flock for food.  Now, on discovering the concepts of property and of right and wrong, he vows never to raid another man's livestock again.  The sheik is frightened of both Michael/Aziz and the lion.Michael is taken in by a French official who also has a beautiful daughter.  this girl teaches Michael/Aziz French.  This is followed by the usual romantic misunderstandings, angst, kidnapping, and rescue.

Meanwhile in Europe, characters are dying like flies as political machinations and murder rule the day.

True to Burroughs fashion, the author shifts chapters from one scene to another, from the Sahara with Michael and the lion to the European country with its political intrigue.  Burroughs usually has the two strands meet up near the conclusion of his books but in this case he doesn't until the very last paragraph.  And in the end we are left with a Rousseau-like vision that civilization is bad and back to nature is good.  Typical Burroughs.

I have to note that the stereotypical portrait or race in this book is deeply muted.  There are very few instances of words that might be offensive to the modern reader and much is made of the romance between a white European man and the sheik's daughter, often referred to as of another race.  Burroughs treats this relationship as he does that of John Carter and the zaftig (and oviparous) Martian princess Dejah Thoris -- nothing to be concerned about.

The Man-Eater is a different kettle of fish, abundantly laced with offensive descriptions of blacks (nigger, pickaninny, coon, and that just scratches the surface.  Stepin Fetchits abound in this short book.  I cringed when I read a description of banjos strumming on the steps of the servants cabins at a Virginia plantation.

The Man-Eater was first published almost two years earlier than The Lad and the Lion, asa six-art serial running in the New York Evening World from November 15 to 20, 1915.  It was first published in book form in an unauthorized edition of 300 copies by Lloyd Arthur Eshback in 1955.  It's first major book publication was with another short novel by Buirroughs in Beyond Thirty & The Man-Eater, published by Science Fiction and Fantasy Publications in 1957.  The Man-Eater has been republished several times since then by both Fantasy Press and EBRville Press and as an e-Book.  It is also available on-line.  There not been a mass market paperback edition.

A young baby and her mother are the only survivors of a native attack on their African home.  The woman's parents were slaughtered and her husband was killed trying to get help.  Her late husband's father, hearing of this tragedy, brought them to live with him on his Virginia estate.  Nineteen years later, the older man has died but his will, which left everything to the young girl, cannot be found.  A neer-do-well nephew appears and claims the estate is his because there is no proof that the girl's mother was ever married to the dead man's son.  The only marriage certificate was lost in the attack on their African home.

Luckily, there was one living witness to the marriage ceremony -- the husband's best friend.  Unluckily, that man died a few years ago.  The letter sent to him, pleading for his help, eventually reached his son, a rich and bored young man with a taste for adventure.  He immediately decides to travel to Africa to see if he can find the marriage certificate among the ruins of the family home.  Neer-do-well nephew, in the meantime, has the same idea and scurries of to Africa with two criminal buddies.

A woman is killed and carried off by a lion.  The natives dig a deep pit to capture the lion.  the lion falls in an is trapped.  Meanwhile, neer-do-well and his cronies shoot and kill the lion's mate.  Back at the pit, natives are about to kill the lion but our hero manages to come along and stop them because it's just not sporting to shoot him while he is trapped in the pit.  To make things more sporting, he tosses a log into the pit so the lion can climb out, but keeping his rifle handy in case the lion attacks him.  The lion hops out of the pit, our hero trips while reaching for his rifle, and the lion is on top of him.  The lion, sensing that this man has saved him, leaves him alone and goes off in search of his mate.  The lion (whose name, by the way, is Ben, King of Beasts -- Burroughs' working title) comes across the dead lioness and gets the scent of the three baddies.  Ben vows vengeance (or whatever lions do) against them.

Virginia (the young heiress, named after her father's home state) discovers our hero has gone to Africa and sets off after him to warns him about neer-do-well and his pals, who plan to murder him if he finds the marriage certificate or to murder him if he doesn't find it.  (they are non-discriminating thugs who just like to kill.)   Our hero has discovered a sealed envelope in the ruins and, presuming it to be the marriage certificate, he tucks it in his pocket unopened.  Then there are attacks and captures and cannibals and rescues.  Our hero, gaga-eyed over Virginia, forgets he has the envelope and travels with her back home.

Ben, meanwhile, has been captured, shipped to the States, and is sold to a circus.

Neer-do-well has also traveled to Virginia and is planing to attack the estate.  He doesn't count on a near-by circus train wreck that has freed Ben.  Ben catches neer-do-well's scent and goes a-hunting.  Neer-do-well manages to get the envelope from our hero and jumps out a window with Ben in hot pursuit.  A negro servant hides from Ben in a cupboard (and in an awkward Mantan Moreland fashion); when he finally released, a hidden compartment with another sealed envelope is discovered.  All's well that ends well, except for several people who end up as lion chow.

And so we come to the close of another episode of Coincidence Theater.

Few people can claim that Burroughs was a good writer and keep a straight face.  But Burroughs was an effective writer.  He keeps the balls juggling as he races the plot forward at a pell mell pace.  Somehow the reader becomes invested in his paper thin characters.  His stories are exciting and his occasional shots of humor help alleviate some of his obvious faults.  For some reason, reading an occasional Burroughs novel helps cleanse, rather than stain, my reading palate.

I  don't mind jingoism and I don't mind obvious racism in books of a certain age (because they are of a certain age, you see), but parts of The Man-Eater border on outright bigotry.  You'd be better off just sticking with The Lad and the Lion.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


Yes, they do, Cyndi.


The Life of Riley ran from 1944 to 1951, first on the Blue Network, then on NBC.  The comedy starred William Bendix as the gruff but lovable Chester A. Riley and Paula Winslowe as his wife Peg.  Bendix took the popular character to the movie screens in RKO's 1949 release of The Life of Riley -- which also prevented him at first from starring the television version of the series which began the same year; that role went to Jackie Gleason, while Rosemary DeCamp took over the part of Peg.  That first television season lasted for only 26 episodes due to a disagreement between producer Irving Brecjher and the show's sponsor, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.  Nonetheless, that first series garnered television's first Emmy.

Bendix was back as Riley for the show's second series, which ran for six seasons, from 1953 to 1958, after which it went into syndication.  Marjorie Reynolds replaced DeCamp as Peg.

The episode linked below, "Riley Takes Phone Booth Nickels" aired on January 21, 1945.  For the young whippersnappers out there, there was once such a thing as a phone booth -- and, yes, they used to cost a nickel.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017


The Harry James Band with the talented voice of Kitty Kallen.


(My brother  sends me banjo jokes, so now it's my turn to get back at him.)

What do you call a beautiful woman on the arm of a banjo player?
A tattoo.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Eddie Cochran.


Here is where it all started for Jed, Granny, Elly May, and Jethro:  the first episode.


Monday, June 19, 2017




  • Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Lad and the Lion.  Standalone adventure novel.  "In a remote European kingdom" -- is there any other kind in these novels? -- "plotters had moved toward the murder of the old king and his young heir, Michael.  but the lad escaped, and, through a series of the chilling, heart-stopping adventures only Edgar Rice Burroughs could have written, finds himself on the shores of Africa, his only friend and protector a giant feral cat."  I had a copy of this one years ago but it went walk-about, so I was happy to pick this one up.
  • Carolyn Haines, Revenant.  Mystery...or is it?  "When a decades-old mass grave near a notorious Biloxi nightclub is unearthed, reporter Carson Lynch is among the first on the scene.  The remains of five women lie within, each one buried with a bridal veil -- and without her ring finger.  Once an award-winning journalist, Carson knows her career is now hanging by a thread.  this story has pulled her out of a pit of alcohol and self-loathing, and with justice and redemption in mind she begins to investigate.  Days more two more bodies appear, begging the question -- is a copycat murderer terrorizing Biloxi, or has a serial killer awoken from a twenty-five-year slumber?"
  • Anne Hillerman, Rock with Wings.  A Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee/Bernie Manuelito mystery, the second of author's continuation of her father's Navajo mysteries.  "Doing a good deed for a relative offers the perfect opportunity for Sergeant Jim Chee and his wife, Officer Bernie Manuelito, to get away from the daily grind of police work.  But two cases call them back from their vacation and separate them -- one near Shiprock, and the other at iconic Monument Valley.  Chee follows a series of seemingly random, cryptic clues that lead to a missing woman, a coldblooded thug, and a mysterious mound of dirt and rocks that could be a gravesite.  Bernie has her hands ful managing the fallout of a drug bust gone wrong, uncovering the origins of a fire in the middle of nowhere, and looking into an ambitious solar energy development with long-ranging consequences for Navajo land.  Under the guidance of retired Lieutenant Joe leaphorn, Bernie and Chee will navigate unexpected obstacles as they confront their greatest challenge yet."

Sunday, June 18, 2017


On Father's Day we'll be thinking in gratitude of the memory of Ralph E. House, Harold A. Keane, and Michael T. Dowd, and how lucky we are to have Walt Roof.  Good men all.

And although we may not know all their names, we'll be thinking of all those fathers who have worked and toiled for their families and who have guided and taught and loved their children.  We'll also be celebrating all those mothers who do so much for their children who have no father -- some moms make terrific dads.

Lest I get too sappy, here's a Father's Day song:


To celebrate Father's Day, I thought I'd post this TED Talk from Ziauddin Yousafzi about his daughter.  "Why is my daughter so strong?  Because I didn't clip her wings."

Our children are our future.  Let's not clip their wings. 


The Reverend Roger L.Worthy and his sister, Bonnie Woodstock, tells Satan to get back.  I haven't found much information on this song except that it was one side of a 45 rpm record from a small Indiana label.  Comments on the link below state that Roger L. Worthy died in 1999.

A great song.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


I was surprised to see that the great Paul Robeson recorded this version of the well-known traditional Irish song.  His powerful baritone lends something special here.


From "The Crime Fighters" by W.O.G. Lofts & Derek Adley:

"Dixon Hawke was called by many 'The Scottish Detective' because he was created and issued by the powerful publishing firm of D. C. Thomson of Dundee, Scotland.  Hawke first appeared in 1919 in the Dixon Hawke Library, which ran through 576 issues right up to 1941, followed by Dixon Hawke Casebooks, consisting of short stories.  He also appeared in short stories in The Adventure.  In the early 1970s he was still appearing in The Sunday Post newspaper.  Dozens of authors are known to have written the exploits of this famous sleuth.

"Dixon Hawke was tall and aquiline, wore a dressing gown, and smoked a blackened briar.  His assistant was Tommy Burke, and he had a bloodhound called Solomon.  Hawke was a very influential detective, well enough known to have dined with the Prime Minister.  His friends at the Yard were Detective Inspector Baxter, Chief of Scotland Yard's C.I.D. and Flying Squad, and William Baxford, Chief Assistant to Detective Inspector Duncan McPhinney..  Hawke's rooms were in Dover Street, just of Piccadilly and opposite the Ritz Hotel, and his housekeeper was a Mrs. Martha Benvie.  A strange assortment of garments and disguises was littered in a small windowless room, sandwiched between two bookcases and hidden behind a curtain, and his rooms also had a somewhat hidden back flight of stairs, which few people knew about and which allowed him to get out unobserved.  Hawke had a big Sunbeam roadster and a two-seater sports car that Tommy Burke drove."


Hawke began his career while living in Bath Street in Glasgow.  He moved to London after World War II.  While in Glasgow, his assistant was Nipper, a boy who sold newspapers on the street.  Contrary to Lofts & Adey above, Hawke first appeared in the short story "The Great Hotel Mystery" (The Saturday Post, April 16, 1912 -- seven years before he appeared in book form).  Between then and 2000, Hawke had appeared in more than 5500 stories.  Hawke had been created as a Sexton Blake clone and has eclipsed Blake in published adventures by more than a thousand.

Among the authors who wrote the Dixon Hawke stories are Edwy Searls Brooks, John Creasey, Roy Vickers, Anthony Skene, Rex Hardinge, and Guy N. Smith.  It is very likely that Edgar Wallace also contributed to the saga.

His comic strip adventures appeared in Adventure Stories in the 1920s, single page adventures for the most part.  I have no idea who wrote these.  The link below brings you 19 of these adventures, with one being a two-parter.

Enjoy this famous detective who has the intellect of Sherlock Holmes and the derring-do of Nick Carter.

Friday, June 16, 2017


I saw The Buckinghams just once, in the late Sixties when they were on a bill with The Beach Boys at a concert at Boston's Symphony Hall.  I can't remember who else played that concert except -- incongruously -- Jim and Jean, a talented folk duo.  As for The Buckinghams, they played this song and several others. Their drummer (probably John Poulas) kept tossing a drumstick spinning in the air, then catching it effortlessly without missing a beat, to the wild applause of the younger ones in the audience.  Ho hum.  Good song though.


Tom Swift and His Big Tunnel; or, The Hidden City of the Andes
                by "Victor Appleton" (Howard R. Garis (1916)

Following last week's forgotten book, I thought I'd follow up with another adventure of the popular young inventor.  Tom Swift and the Big Tunnel directly follows Tom Swift and His Aerial Warship and involves the tweaking of the explosive from the earlier book.  His Aerial Adventure gave us a look at the militaristic side of Tom, and here we get to see the capitalist side of our hero.

Job Titus and his brother run a construction business that has been awarded a contract from the Peruvian government to build a tunnel through a rugged part of the Andes in order to connect some important railways.  Titus Brothers bid low on the contract but is still posed to make a great deal of money if they complete the project within a specified time; if they don't,they forfeit any payment and the contract will then go to the next lowest bidder who would have an advantage of using whatever work Titus Brothers have done gratis.  And it happens that the next lowest bidder is a crooked outfit that is using any means possible to have the Titus Brothers fail.  It's not the efforts of the bad guys that have stymied Titus Brothers, though, it's that they have hit a large region of impenetrable rock.  Modern equipment and explosives have failed to make much of a dent in the rock and it appears that Titus Brothers will lose the contract.  Then Job heard of the marvelous explosive that Tom had developed for the cannons on his aerial warship.  He goes to Tom's laboratory in Shopton to see if Tom could help.

Tom agrees to help and strikes a very profitable deal for his company.  Tom will make improvements on his explosive and then travel to Peru to supervise the blasting.  Coincidentally -- and there are more than our share of coincidences in the book -- Tom's good friend Mr. Wakefield Damon comes and asks Tom if he would like to join him on a trip to Peru.  Damon has invested heavily in a company that produces quinine in Peru and the Peruvian government is blocking access to the bark from which the quinine is produced.  Damon has been authorized by the company to deal with the Peruvian government.  Killing two birds with one stone, Tom, Damon, and Tom's eight-foot tall assistant Koku, along with Tom's Electric Rifle, head to Peru.

On the ship heading south, Tom encounters a strange man and fears he might be a spy or saboteur from the rival company.  Nope.  He's just Professor Swyington Bumper, a well-known archaeologist and old friend of Mr. Damon, and he happened to save Tom from a bomb thrown at him on the ship.  By another coincidence, Bumper is on his way to Peru, where he had had been trying unsuccessfully for many years to find a rumored lost city.  This time, Bumper is planning to look in the area where the big tunnel is being dug.

In Peru at eh construction site, there is underhandedness afoot.  Efforts have been made to sabotage the work.  Large groups of workers mysteriously vanish from a tunnel with no exits except for the tunnel entrance which was carefully watched.  Natives in the area fear evil spirits and refuse to work.  Tom's marvelous explosive stops working because someone has switched ingredients.  The troubling layer of rock goes much farther than previously thought, delaying the tunnel even further.

In the meantime, Mr. Damon solves his problem by bribing (!) certain officials.  Professor Bumper keeps looking for his lost city to no avail.  Tom's Electric Rifle comes in handy.

**SPOILER ALERT** Needless to say, Tom comes out smelling of roses.  The good guys win out.  Tom discovers the lost city -- which has very little to do except act as a deus ex machina.  Professor Bumper goes on the become a recurring character in later books in the series.  Tom makes a lot of money.

There's a minor subplot involving Tom's undemonstrative romance with pretty Mary Nestor.  Tom has bought her a present but had to leave for Peru before delivering it himself.  He tells his assistant Eradicate Sampson -- a former slave and current Stepin Fetchit-like comic foil -- to package the gift and deliver it to Mary.  Since Eradicate cannot read, he doesn't realize the he has packaged the gift in an empty box labeled "Dynamite."   The Nestor family panics.  Mary father thinks Tom has pulled an unforgivable prank and writes a letter telling Tom that he would never consider him as a son-in-law and to stay away from Mary.  True love never runs smooth.  It would take another ten books and thirteen years before Tom and Mary wed.

Tom Swift and His Big Tunnel is another fast read, full of dated and overworked prose, stereotypes, and facile coincidence worthy of an early Twentieth Century boy's adventure novel.  As with the previous book in the series, this certainly not everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoyed it.