Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, July 31, 2017


"Hey, guys, what's a good rhyme for 'small town'?"  "Hmm.  How about 'small town'?"  "Genius!"

Here's John Mellencamp.


  • "George G. Gilman" (Terry Harknett), Edge #3:  Apache Death.  Adult entry in what may be the most violent western series ever published.  "Out of the American west rides a new hero.  He rides alone, trusts no one.  Edge isn't fair, doesn't worry much...and even when he loses he's better off than the poor guy who thinks he's won.  Fairness is what the other guy worries about.  Fear is for losers.  You won't forget Edge, nobody alive does."
  • "Matthew S. Hart" (Geo. W. Proctor, this time), Cody's Law #7:  End of the Line.  Western. ( The Cody's Law series ran for 12 books, most written by James Reasoner.  Reasoner wrote the first six books in the series , then co-authored books 8, 9, 11, and 12 with Bill Crider.  Rumor has it that Joe R. Lansdale contributed one chapter to End of the Line.) "When a Teas and Pacific train jumps the rail near the quiet town of Terrell, it's soon apparent that the bloody incident was no accident.  Someone deliberately pulled the spikes on that section of track, and now it's up to Texas Ranger Sam Cody to find out who.  Bur posing as a railroad detective will get Cody more than answers.  It will get him ambushed, shot at. and kidnapped.  and it will put the rugged lawman in dangerous proximity to a gun-toting beauty who'll do anything to protect her father and brother from a hangman's noose -- even fill a handsome Ranger full of lead."
  • "Lee Child" (Jim Grant), Echo Burning.  A Jack Reacher thriller.  "Thumbing across the scorched Texas desert, Jack Reacher has nowhere to go and all the time in the world to get there.  Cruising the same stretch of two-lane blacktop is Carmen Greer*.  For Reacher, the lift comes with a hitch.  Carmen's got a story to tell, and it's a wild one -- all about her husband, her family secrets, and a hometown that's purely gothic.  She's also got a plan.  Reacher's part of it.  And before the sun sets, this ride could cost them both their lives."
  • Peter Rabe, Stop This Man!  Crime thriller.  "All Tony Catell knew when he broke into the university science lab was that they had a gold ingot on the premises for some sort of experiment.  So he stole it.  What he didn't know was that the experiment involved nuclear power -- and that the gold was dangerously radioactive.  Now the cops and the FBI are on Tony's trail, Tony's underworld contacts don't want anything to do with him, and the loot he's lugging around is leaving a swath of radiation sickness and death in his path.  And since he's just come from his third stint in prison, if they catch him, he's not going back to jail -- he's going to the electric chair..."  A Hardcase Crime reprint edition, so it's hard to go wrong here.
  • Dennis Wheatley, The Launching of Roger Brook.  Historical novel, the first of Wheatley's Roger Brook spy adventures.  "George the Mad is still on England's throne, having cost that nation her most valued colonies.  Marie Antoinette and Louis are still flaunting their royal vanities and debaucheries in France's angry, revolutionary faces.  Europe is a tinderbox, who will strike the match?  Tall, blue-eyed Roger Brook, soon to become Prime Minister Pitt's most resourceful secret agent, was just setting out to find fame, fortune and adventure in 1783.  He might never had set out at all if it had not been for the wicked Georgina Thursby, and he most certainly would never had been involved in the secrets of French foreign policy had it not been for the ravishing Athenais de Rochambeau; but once on the way, it would take more than women to stop him..."  Wheatley (1897-1977) was at one time one of the world's best-selling authors, but he has fallen out of favor.  I still enjoy his work, however.

* Carmen Greer!  Are you kidding me!


  • Alan Dean Foster, Transformers:  The Veiled Threat.  SF quasi-movie tie-in, a prequel to the some Transformers flick (the really bad one with loud noises, CGI gone amok, incomprehensible shots, pitiful script, poor direction, and Shia LeBoeuf -- wait, that doesn't narrow it down).  The book was published in 2009; Transformers was released in 2007; Tranformers:  Revenge of the Fallen was released in 2009; the cover of the book proclaims :THE OFFICIAL PREQUEL TO THE UPCOMING BLOCKBUSTER FILM and inside fron cover blurbs "Look for the thrilling novel based on the new Transformers movie!"  So when this book was released, no one had any idea what the movie was going to be titled.  (And maybe, just maybe, Foster wrote this "prequel" without knowing what the movie's plot was going to be.)  No matter.  "Life on earth [sic] has changed forever as humans and their courageous robotic allies, the Autobots, must work together to protect the planet from the destructive forces of the evil Decepticons.  At the headquarters of NEST, tech sergeant Epps and captain Lennox both guard and assist cyberneticist Kaminari Ishihara and the brooding Russian AI genius [sic] Petr Andronov as they explore the differences between the organics and bots.  In the meantime, all around them, alliances fray, distrust grows, suspicions mount, and traitors come out of the shadows.  Optimus Prime, the powerful leader of the Autobots who is also [sic] part of NEST, is on the defensive as battles flare up from Australia to Zimbabwe.  But escalating Decepticon attacks will culminate in a final confrontation from which no one -- man -- or machine -- will emerge unscathed."  Geez, at the very least, Foster deserved a halfway decent blurb writer.  And if this prequel culminates "in a final confrontation," what's left for the movie?
  • Margaret C. Sullivan, The Jane Austen Handbook:  Proper Life Skills from Regency England.  WWJD* nonfiction.  "Every young lady dreams of a life spent exchanging witty asides with a dashing Mr. Darcy, but how should you let him know your intentions?  seek counsel from this charming guide to Jane Austen's world.  Its step-by-step instructions reveal the practicalities of life in Regency England, including sensible advice on:
          " - How to behave at your first ball
          " - How to ride sidesaddle
          " - How to decline an unwanted marriage proposal
          " - How to improve your estate
          " - How to throw a dinner party
          " -- and much more."

          Don't you wish you had this book when you were dating?

* What Would Jane Do?

Saturday, July 29, 2017


From 1952, Little Willie Littlefield with the first version of a classic Stoller-Leiber song you might recognize as "Kansas City."


Here's the first issue of a comic book that never had a second.  Written by the prolific Walter Gibson (he of The Shadow fame) and drawn by Gene Fawcette, Robotmen of the Lost Planet* has an odd little charm to it that is not diminished by poor editing.  The tale is told in three chapters.

The time is the future.  Humans have gone soft.  All work is done by robots -- queer looking things made of synthetic flesh with a giant egg-like head the size of a human body.  The robots have even taken over the production of new robots.

Our hero, Alan Arc, is celebrating his wedding to the beautiful Nara when he receives word that his father wishes to speak to him.  Alan's father is worried about the robots; he wants Alan and Nara to come with him to inspect a robot manufacturing site.  He hands Alan some papers, saying that they were the plans for making weapons -- if anything should happen to him.  The robots will only let Alan's father into the site, so Alan and Nara wait outside only to soon see his father being thrown to his death by a robot.  They run to the emperor (a fat, do-nothing glutton) to warn them that something is up with the robots.  That's when the robots get a worldwide signal to attack, massacring most of humanity.  Alan, Nara, and a few survivors manage to escape and hide out in a remote cave.

Some wedding day, huh?

A few words about Nara's inconsistent clothing.  She is basically wearing a blue sleeveless dress that come down to just above her knees.  In one panel, this inexplicably becomes a blue one-piece bathing suit.  In another panel,the dress is no longer sleeveless.  In yet another panel, someone forgot to color the dress.  I found the whole thing disconcerting.  Also, in one panel Alan is shirtless while in every other panel he wears a green short-sleeved shirt, unbuttoned at the neck.  The robots wear red pants or red shorts, depending on their mood. I guess.  Or, perhaps their status.  It's something to make me wonder if they have robot genitalia that they want to cover.

Fast forward five years.  Alan and Nara are still in the cave, which they have turned into a crude laboratory where Alan is trying to create the synthetic flesh used on the robots.  It's his hope to eventually disguise himself as a robot using the flesh and to spy on his enemies.  Alan and Nara now have a son, a cute curly-haired four-year-old named Laurie.  Being cave-bound, Laurie has never seen a robot and has no fear of them.  Alan disguises himself as a robot (big head and all) and infiltrates the robot manufacturing facility.  There, he discovers that the robots are embedding nerve ganglia into their bodies in an effort to become more human-like.  Why?  Who knows?  But the robots are no longer invincible -- they can feel pain.

A few more brief words about sartorial choices.  Now that they are cavemen (and women), are now dressed in fur, flintstones-like, with an over the shoulder look for the men and a sleeveless look for the women and briefs for Laurie (who appears to be the only kid around).  In a couple of panels, Nara is back to her blue one-piece swimsuit -- At least when the remember to color it.  Fashion is confusing in the ost-apocalyptic world.

Another five years have past to get us to the third chapter.  Now the cave are all filled with fancy electronic equipment.  The caves are wired for electricity although is is uncertain how it is generated.  But, who cares?  Mankind is ready to strike back!  Little Laurie wanders off from the cave and encounters some robots.  (Laurie may be nine now, but methinks his brain has stopped developing at four.)  Laurie shoots at them with a toy gun.  Or is it?  The robots run off in fear and soon report to their leader, The Great Master, AA-Plus Robot.  Anyway, this sets up the scene for the final confrontation.

Who will win?  Mankind, who has just dragged itself from savagery in just ten years?  Or the murderous evil robots who, while hating humans, are trying to be more like them?

One final fashion note.  Laurie had grown out of his fur briefs.  He now wears a complete little boy outfit -- normal shirt, shorts, shoes...  Everybody else is still wearing the Flintstone outfits.  Lucky Laurie!

This issue also contains a onus story, "Cargo from Mars."  Strange things are happening at the North Pole Beacon Lighthouse and immigration officer George La Grange is sent to investigate.  There he stumbles upon a blind Earth-girl "clad in the costume of the Martian-Valley country."  And, yeah, he also stumbles upon danger.

Enjoy Robotmen of the Lost Planet #1 and weep that there never a Robotmen of the Lost Planet #2.

* BTW, we are never told why Earth is a "Lost Planet."  Nor, I suppose, do we need to know why.

Friday, July 28, 2017


You can't get much better than this one from the Stones.


"Ralph Milne Farley" was the major pseudonym of Roger Sherman Hoar (1887-1963), a Harvard-educated lawyer, constitutional expert, patent law expert, one-time state senator and former assistant attorney general of Massachusetts, grandson of US attorney general Ebenzer Hoar and great-great-grandson of Declaration  of Independence signer Roger Sherman.

He was also a close friend of Edgar Rice Burroughs, which may explain his penchant for planetary romance in much of his writing.

The Radio Man, the first in a series of stories about transplanted Earthman Myles Cabot, originally appeared as a four-part serial in Argosy (which touted the story as scientifically accurate!) in the early summer of 1924.  It was reprinted as a three-part serial in Famous Fantastic Mysteries in 1939-1940 and finally appeared in book format from Fantasy Publishing company in 1948.  Under the title An Earthman on Venus, it made its paperback debut from Avon book in 1950.  A year later, artist Wally Wood produced a 26-page comic book for Avon Publishing as "An Avon Fantasy Classic," retaining the paperback title (see below).

The book opens with a meteor crashing into a field on Ralph Farley's Chappaquiddick salt water farm.  Inside the meteor was a golden ball made of some sort of impenetrable material.  After some effort, Farley figured how to open the ball and found something wrapped tightly in a silver material -- a manuscript signed by Myles Cabot.  Cabot was a wealthy electrical engineer who had been tickering with radio experiment in his Boston Townhouse when he had mysteriously vanished from his locked laboratory and was never seen again.  The manuscript tells his tale.

Cabot's experiments in radio waves created a matter transmitter which brought him to a strange clouded world, later to be proven to be Venus.  He was on a large continent surrounded by a violent boiling sea which prevented ocean travel or even air travel above it, leaving the possibility of
unknown lands, wonders, and adventures for possible future stories.  The continent is ruled by a race of giant, technologically sophisticated ants.  Captured by the ants, Cabot is threatened by one he dubs Satan and is saved by one he calls Doggo.  Doggo takes Cabot to his own house while a council of ants decide what sort of creature he is and what his fate will be.

The ants are called Formians.  They communicate telepathically through their antennae and are unable to speak or hear.  Cabot is taught to communicate through their written language.  One day he sees a human-like creature in the garden.  She is a Cupian, the other major race on the continent; Cupians are human enough except for their small, insect-like wings and their antennae.  They also have no ears and have six digits on each hand and foot.  But this Cupian is human enough (and beautiful enough) for Cabot.  It turns our she is a Cupian princess, forced to serve the Formians for a two-year stint.

Some Venusian history:  Once the Cupians ruled twelve small kingdoms on the continent and the Formians ruled just one.  The war-like Formians, knowing they were the master race, began conquering the Cupian kingdoms one at a time.  Each Cupian kingdom was interested in only its own turf and did nothing to oppose the Formians as they attacked other kingdoms.  Soon, the Formians ruled the entire continent.  The Cupians were herded to a rather unusable part of the continent and were given a quisling Cupian to serve as their king as the Formians brought the entire continent to glory under Formian rule.  Oh.  And every Cupian, no matter what rank, was forced to serve the Formians for a two-year period -- and that how the lovely princess (her name is Lilla) came to Cabot's attention (but -- plot twist -- Lilla is actually there illegally; she had been kidnapped and is held without the Cupians' knowledge; oh, those vile Formians!).

Anyway, Cabot falls in love with Lilla.  She is repulsed by him: he has hair on his face (icky!) and has funny things sticking out of each side of his head (double icky!) and what's this with only five digits?  And where are his wings?  Cabot shaves, lets his hair grow to cover his ears, and uses radio technology to devise a way to communicate telepathically with some artificial antennae.  Now the Princess Lilla is a tad less repulsed.

We know what's going to happen don't we?  Cabot decides to throw his lot in with the Cupians, free them from Formian slavery, and win the heart of the princess.  And if a well-bred Massachusetts Yankee can't do that, what good is he?

Farley went on to write further "Radio" adventures of Myles Cabot (and his offspring):  The Radio Beasts, The Radio Planet, The Radio Minds, The Golden City, and The Radio Menace.  Other "Radio" stories that look as though they belong in the series do not:  The Radio Flyers, The Radio Gun-Men, and The Radio War.

The Radio Man is a fast, easy read and is recommended for those who love the interplanetary romances of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Otis Adelbert Kline.  Please remember to leave your literary judgment at the door.


Check out the 1951 comic book of An Earthman on Venus, drawn by the legendary Wally Wood:

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Bruce Duncan Phillips (1935-2008), otherwise known as Utah Phillips, was a folksinger, labor activist, pacifist, occasional train hopper, poet, anarchist, storyteller, sometime dishwasher and warehouse worker, and radio host.  Beginning in 1961, he released thirteen solo albums and seven albums with other performers.  He was known as "The Golden Voice of the Great Southwest."

I heard Phillips only once in person, at the 1975 Bicentennial Celebration in Concord, Massachusetts.  It was at the "People's Bicentennial" -- the one taking place across "that rude bridge," not the "official" one on the other side featuring then-President Gerald Ford.  He was much more comfortable on his side of the bridge.

Let's buck the system with just a few of his songs and stories.

"Hallelujah, I'm a Bum":

"There Is Power in the Union"

"The Most Dangerous Woman" (with Ani DiFranco):

"I Remember Loving You" (with Priscilla Herdman):

"We Have You All a Thousand Years":

"Starlight on the Rails":

"Phoebe Snow":

"The Preacher and the Slave (Pie in the Sky)":

"Enola Gay':

Here's the story of "Moose Turd Pie":

"Joe Hill":

"Queen of the Rails":

"Bread and Roses":

"Natural Resources" (with Ani DiFranco):

"The Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia":


"I've Got to Know":

"Old Buddy Goodnight"

"Dump the Bosses off Our Bak":



Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats.


From March 8, 1954, here's an episode of Suspense starring the Gipper himself, Ronald Reagan.  Reagan plays Frank Thomson, a down-on-his-luck guy who is framed for the murder of a storekeeper.  No one believes he's innocent, not even the public defender assigned to his case.

"Circumstantial Terror" also features Charles Calvert, Hal Gerard, Howard McNear, Vic Perrin, Kurt Martell, and Clayton Post.  Ross Murray wrote the script and Elliott Lewis produced and directed this episode.

Enjoy this selection from "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."

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.


Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, and Gene Wolfe talk science fiction writing with Studs Terkel and Calvin Trillin.  O, to be a fly on the wall for this conversation.  Wait.  We are!


The five Blind Boys of Mississippi.

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.