Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: GO TO THE MARDI GRAS

Professor Longhair.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUPkvv4H0V0

OVERLOOKED TELEVISION: THE COLGATE COMEDY HOUR NOVEMBER 26, 1950

Although this is The Colgate Comedy Hour, this episode is sponsored by Frigidaire and the opening credits show The Comedy Hour.  And since this is one of the occasional episodes of the show hosted by Bob Hope, the YouTube clip is labelled The Bob Hope ShowThe Colgate Comedy Hour NBC, 1950-1955) had a roster of rotating hosts, such as Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, Fred Allen, Eddie Cantor, and Abbott & Costello.

The November 26, 1950, show was the twelfth episode and the first hosted by Hope.  I chose this specific episode because one of the writers was Larry Gelbert (M*A*S*H, Tootsie, A funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), who was born on this day in 1928.  (Happy birthday, Larry!)

Guests in this episode include singer Jimmy Wakely (singing "Lonesome Train" and -- with Hope -- "Tumbling Tumbleweeds"), actress and eye candy Marilyn Maxwell (playing Mata Hari in a sketch), the Hi-Hatters (tap dancing to "Me and My Shadow"), vocalists The Taylor Maids (singing "Orange Colored Sky"), with Les Brown leading the orchestra.

Times were simpler then.  Enjoy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-_-6qC-qX4

Monday, February 24, 2020

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: I DON'T WANT TO SET THE WORLD ON FIRE

The Ink Spots.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l6vqPUM_FE

BITS AND PIECES

Openers:  In Paris the gambling was hidden but easy enough to find.  This one was in the fifteenth arrondissement near the Citroen factory.  The thick door had an iron ring for a handle; a thug absurdly disguised as a doorman admitted Kendig and there was a woman at the desk, attractive enough but she had a cool hard air,  Kendig went through the tedium of establishing the credentials of his innocence -- he was not a fic, he was not Sicilian, he was not Union Corse, he was not this or that.  "Just a tourist.  I've been here before with Mme. Labrie.  There isn't a message for me by any chance?"

Brian Garfield, Hopscotch  (1975)

Garfield (1939-2018) was a prolific writer of crime and western novels, best known for Hopscotch, which won the 1976 Edgar Award for Best Novel, and for Death Wish, the basis of the Charles Bronson film franchise.  He wrote his first published book. Range Justice (1960), when he was 18; an abridged version was published in 1961 under the title Justice at Spanish Flat -- Spanish Flat was a fictional Arizona town; it and several characters from the book were later featured in a series about Marshal Jeremy Six.

Garfield wrote under a number of pseudonyms including Frank Wynne, Brian Wynne (Garfield's full name was Brian Francis Wynne Garfield), Frank O'Brian, Bennett Garland, Justin Harris, Alex Hawk, Drew Mallory, and John Ives.  Following the death of author William Ard, Garfield wrote the seventh book in Ard's Tom Buchanan series, Buchanan's Gun (1968), under Ard's pen name now turned house name "Jonas Ward;"  the Buchanan series was continued by William R. Cox as Ward.  Coincidentally, when Cox died, Garfield anonymously completed the final book in Cox's Cemetery Jones series, Cemetery Jones and the Tombstone War (1990).

A number of Garfield's works have been filmed.  Death Wish (1974) began a five-film franchise (the third of which also became a video game) for Charles Bronson as vigilante Paul Kersey, dispensing with the  nuances of the source material.  The film was rebooted in 2018 by director Eli Roth for an unremarkable film starring Bruce Willis.  Death Wish was also the uncredited source for the 1975 Turkish film The Executioner (Cellat), with mustached actor Serdar Gokhan bearing a slight resemblance to Bronson. 1976 saw the release of The Last Hard Men, based on Garfield's novel Gun Down (not to be confused with his earlier novel Gundown) and featuring Charleton Heston and James Coburn.  His 1972 novel Relentless became a television film in 1977 starring Will Sampson.  This film may have been the first major-company movie in which the Native American hero was played by a top-billed Native American.  Garfield's 1978 novel Wild Times, a nominee for the American Book Award, became a television miniseries starring Sam Elliott in 1980,

The thriller Hopscotch  transformed into a comedy thriller starring Walter Matthau as a retired CIA agent who writes a tell-all book and now must elude his former employers.  Garfield also co-wrote the screenplay (with actor/director/producer/writer Bryan Forbes) for this 1980 film.

Garfield's only musical, 1983's Legs, was a television movie based on an original story and script by Garfield; co-produced by Radio City Music Hall, it featured Gwen Verdon, John Heard, Sheree North, and The Rockettes.  His 1978 novel Fear in a Handful of Dust was filmed as Fleshburn in 1984,  a disappointing desert survival film.  1978's Necessity became a made-for-TV film starring Loni Anderson in 1998.  Kevin Bacon starred in a 2007 adaptation of Garfield's Death Sentence (1975), keeping the story's title and little else.

Based on a story by Garfield and a script by Donald E. Westlake, 1987's The Stepfather became a cult horror classic, spawning two sequels.  It was also remade as a confusing 2009 Iranian film, 24th Street (Khiabane Bisto Chahar).

At least one of Garfield's short stories made it to episodic TV.  "Scrimshaw" (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, December 17, 1979) was an episode on Tales of the Unexpected, airing on July 28, 1985 (almost twenty months after the death of the episode's star John Hackett).

What works by Garfield should you read?  Almost everything he has written is entertaining.  Certainly Hopscotch, Death Wish, or Wild Times.  The Jeremy Six westerns written as by "Brian Wynne" (Mr. Sixgun, The Night It Rained Bullets, The Bravos, The Proud Riders, A Badge for a Badman, Brand of the Gun, Gundown, and Big Country, Big Men) are fast-moving westerns.  (A final Jeremy Six novel, Gunslick Territory, was ghosted by Dean Dudley McGaughey and published as by "Brian Wynne."  Arizona was a finalist for the Golden Spur Award.  Gangway! (written with Donald E. Westlake) is a great humorous western heist novel.  Checkpoint Charlie is a highly recommended collection of espionage tales.  Manifest Destiny is a historical novel about a young Teddy Roosevelt.  The Paladin is a historical suspense novel, co-written with "Christopher Creighton" (real life spy-guy and Olympic Gold Medalist John Ainsworth-Davis).  Suspense novels The Threepersons Hunt and What of Terri Conniston? are nail-biting suspense.  Non-fiction The Thousand-Mile War:  World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in History.  Western Films:  A Complete Guide is just what it proclaims to be and a valued addition to any western fan's shelf.  The Meinertzhagan Mystery is a well-research biography of "a storied British hero of natural science, exploration, espionage, military intelligence, and front-line warfare" who was almost completely a fraud.

With some 70 books to his credit, there is something for everyone in Garfield's works.  What are you waiting for?



Incoming:

  • Jack Ehrlich, Bloody Vengeance.  Crime novel.  "They were tired, hard-working cops who'd had enough...And when the courts let loos a rotten punk to murder and steal again, they finally struck back.  They not only nailed him but they unleashed a wave of vengeance that left no hoodlum unscathed.  Nothing and no one was safe from their wrath -- from the pushers on the turf to the Mafia dons in the penthouse suites.  And throughout the nation, their  loody movement grew..."  Blogger "Paperback Warrior" reviewed this book in January 2019:  "Guys, this is a fantastic paperback.  It's a crime-fighting, right-wing, wish-fulfillment fantasy with awesome action scenes that never veer into cartoonish territory.  I'd go so far to call it among the best 1970s vigilante novels I've ever read -- rivalling Pendleton's "War Against the Mafia" for top spot."  Ehrlich's earlier (1970) novel The Drowning was nominated for a Best Paperback Edgar, and his 1972 western The Fastest Gun on the Pulpit was a television movie in the seventies starring Slim Pickens.
  • Eric Frank Russell, The Mindwarpers.  Science fiction novel, first published as With a Strange Device.  "WARNING  WARNING  WARNING  WARNING WARNING  LOCK YOUR BRAIN  The government's most vital scientific laboratory.  No enemy could steal its secrets, because no enemy could possibly get in.  But men's minds were another matter.  It began with key scientists leaving -- just quitting their jobs and drifting away.  Then master metallurgist Richard Bransome began to remember a past  he had completely forgotten -- a past in which he had been a cold-blooded murderer.  and he set out on a strange, solitary mission to learn the facts -- the fact about himself, and the facts about America's most incredible enemy.  But how could he do either...when he couldn't even trust his own sanity?  Eric Frank Russell, England's great science-fiction writer, returns in this book to the kind of theme he explored in his classic Sinister Barrier and Dreadful Sanctuary.  The result is an astonishing tour de force of science and suspense."  Actually, this is said to be one of Russell''s slower-moving books.  Russell's quality of writing could swing wildly but he remains (for the most part) worth reading.


L'Orfeo:  What many consider the first fully developed example of opera, Claudio Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, with a libretto by Alassandro Striggio, made its premiere on this day in 1607 at a court performance at the Carnival at Mantua.  Several works by Jacapo Peri (notably 1597's Dafni, most of which is now lost) may lay claim as the earliest opera, L'Orfeo is the one that is still continuously performed.

Based on the Greek legend of Orpheus and his failed attempt to rescue his dead bride Eurydice from Hades, L'Ordeo divides it scenes between the countryside of Thrace and the Underworld.

Following a prologue, we meet the lovers on their wedding day and we learn that Orfeo's love for his bride has brought him sublime happiness.  Alas this happiness is short-lived.  While picking flowers, Eurydice is fatally bitten by a snake.  Orfeo vows to enter the underworld to persuade Plutone, the King of Hades, to release his bride.  (He sings this, of course.)  Properpina, Queen of Hades, hears him and is charmed  by his singing and pleas Orfeo's case to Plutone.  The god agrees under one condition:  that Orfeo not look back while escorting his bride out of Hades.  Even those unfamiliar with the myth can figure out what happened then.  Startled by an off-stage noise, Orfeo looks back and Eurydice vanishes as Orfeo is propelled out of Hades.  Orfeo mourns his bride and his lost chance.  The god Apollo appears before him and offers him a chance to join him in the heavens where he will be able to view Eurydice's likeness among the stars.  Since it would be rude to refuse the god's offer Orfeo agrees and ascends to the heavens.

There is an alternate (actually, an additional) ending to Striggio's original libretto.  A chorus of Bacchantes (wild, drunken women) appear, proclaiming the wrath of Bacchus who is mad because, in both mourning eurydice and in agreeing to Apollo, Orfeo is forsaking the company of women.  Bacchus vows not to let Orfeo escape his wrath and the longer Orfeo delays this fate the worse his lot will be.  In this ending Orfeo's fate is uncertain and more closely follows the original Greek myths.

Here's the Act 1 Prologue "Dal mi permesso":

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



February 24:  Today is Shrove Monday.  Now, Shrove Tuesday is traditionally celebrated with pancakes but it is today that is International Pancake Day.  Go figure.  Today is also World Bartender Day, which may have something to do with celebrating the days  before Lent, or not.

Today is also Forget Me Not Day, but not really.  National Forget-Me-Not Day is November 10 and is meant to remind Americans of the sacrifices returning soldiers have made.  It was created in 1921 to raise monies for injured and disabled soldiers.  On February 24, 1926, the first Forget-Me-Not Drive was held by the Disabled Veterans of America; the little blue flowers were meant to be a reminder of the spring flowers the soldiers had seen on the graves of their fallen comrades.  Apparently various local DVA organizations hold their Forget-Me-Not Drives at different time of the year.  To my mind, it doesn't matter what day this is celebrated because we should be be aware of the meaning of the day every day.

Needless to say, I will not forget you today.




Florida Man Plus Florida Woman -- A Potent Mixture:

  • Florida Woman Rebecca Lynn Duarte, 23, punched out a window and violently attacked her boyfriend after he refused to have sex with her.  In his defense, they had just returned from bowling and who needs sex after bowling?  Alcohol may have been involved because Duarte's breath reeked of it.  The boyfriend was lucky; in July of last year, a different Florida Woman head butted, then stabbed her boyfriend because he would not come across, claiming to be "too tired."
  • Florida Man John Wayne Parker or Palatka, 32, was arrested for stealing drills, cigarettes, batteries , and "other sundry items" to pay for ankle monitor fees accrued during a previous arrest.  (Ankle monitors can cost between $175-$200 to set up and daily fees can run between $5 and $20.  Use of monitors can save up to $14,000 a year per felon in lieu of incarceration costs.  The morality and ethics of monitor fees can be discussed later.)
  • An unknown (and therefore uncaptured) Florida Man zipped into a Winter Haven Walmart on hover skates and stole some $500 worth of merchandise.  It's not a jet pack but what the heck?  You've got to give the guy some points.
In other Florida news the state Supreme Court has put a temporary kibosh on an attempt by the Republican-led legislature to weaken a a referendum overwhelmingly approved by voters allowing former felons the right to vote.  Seems that most of the state's former felons are black and tha most of Florida's blacks are Democrats.  The legislature passed a caveat that only those former felons who had paid all state fees owed will be allowed to vote.  If a felon does vote while owing any fees, he or she will be committing a felony.  Since there is no centralized database of such fees owed, and since many persons are unaware of whether they owe any fees, the legislature has effectively silenced thousands -- if not hundreds of thousands -- of voters through a campaign of fear.  The State Supreme Court ruled that such a requirement effectively made voting a matter of who could afford it, much like a poll tax.  The Supreme Court also said that requirement had no legitimate reason for existing.  Republican Governor Ron DeSantis will appeal.




Something to Consider:   "Men build too many walls and not enough bridges." -- Joseph Fort Newton




Grrr:  Our nine-year-old car died this week, a quick and premature death.  We tend to drive our cars into the ground, hoping to get 250,000 miles out of them.  This little Kia had only half that.  So now it's off to get a new car that (we hope) will actually last us 250,000 miles.  What we normally do is finance a car, drive it for a few days to see if it suits us, then pay the damned thing off completely.  (I really don't like paying close to the full price of the car in interest over more years than most people would keep the car.  With luck we will have one by the end of the day.  Now to get rid of the old car. 
As usual we had paid for the car completely within a week after we had bought it.  What we just discovered is that the finance company never bothered to remove the lien on the car so we can't even scrap it.  This means I probably will have to take a couple of days calling the finance company, being bounced from person to person, until I convince someone that they should remove the lien on a car that I had completely off nine years ago.  Grrr.   Part of it is on me; I should have the original release documents from when I bought the car but they have gone walkabout sometime over the past year.  Double Grrr.



Good News:




Today's Poem:
The New Cow

The new cow came through the gate,
And her calf came later, a little late.
No longer willing to be led,
The calf went on ahead, 
While she stood to look around
Over the hills and lower ground
Stood shyly, defiantly there,
Smelling flower-fragrant air,
And gazed toward the old cows
Grouped along the way before.
Knowing not how she might stay
Among them, stranger still,
She hesitated yet, now they had turned
At the foot of the hill
And seemed to wait for her at the gate,
To wait for her who was strange and thin,
Til she came on,
And they opened up their ranks
To take her in.

-- August Derleth (February 24, 1909 - July 4, 1971)
Happy Birthday to the Sage of Sauk City!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

CELEBRATE NATIONAL BANANA BREAD DAY!

With all the hoopdeedoo about the primaries and caucuses, presidential pardons, Mardi Gras, the weird weather, Covid19, and whatever Gwyneth Paltrow is selling now, it is easy to lose sight of the important things, like banana bread.

To celebrate National Banana Bread Day 2020, here are 21 proven, yummy banana bread recipes -- some with a unique twists.

Do you like banana bread?  Are you willing to bake some today to celebrate?  And, most importantly, are you going to send what you bake to me for testing?

HYMN TIME

Cowboy Copas.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dMUPw1iB3Y

Saturday, February 22, 2020

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: MIDNIGHT SPECIAL

Here is the first commercial recording of this popular folk song.  From 1926, Dave "Pistol Pete" Cutrell of McGintry's Oklahoma Cow Boy Band sings.

According to lore, if the light from the Special shines on your cell, you will soon be released.


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

THE GREEN MASK #5 (JUNE 1941)

It's 1941, kiddoes, and like all true comic book heroes of the time, The Green Mask and Domino are busy fighting the enemies of America.

The Green Mask is Michael Shelby, who had been put in a vita-ray machine by a scientist and something went wrong, leaving Shelby a supercharge miracle man with the power to zoom through the air and perform superhuman feats.  As a superhero, he needs a boy sidekick and his is none other than young Don, the miracle boy who can pack a punch as Domino.  They have nifty full-body costumes with capes, nach.

Bring equal opportunity spy-hunters, the two find themselves up against the beautiful (and treacherous) Loo Lan and her evil father Dr. Tsu, who are out to get a new formula for a new steel armor plate from the Navy.  This yellow peril has a wide reach and The Green Mask and Domino must escape death a number of times before putting paid to this Oriental menace.

Then the pair are up against German spy Kurt Ebler and his spy ring, who are ought to get the plans for a new bombsight.  Not only bust GM and Domino fol the plot but they must also rescue beautiful Marilyn Parker, a captured U.S. intelligence agent.

The Germans are a pesky lot and there sure are a lot of them in the U.S.  In the next story, The Green Mask and domino come face to face with Lana Gelb, Nazi spy, and local bund leader Hans Funkel.  Lana has wooed her way into the heart of Charles Peters, president of an aeronautical company.  Lana has bombs planted at Peters' company ready to blow at any moment.  Can Green Mask stop the sabotage before the entire company goes sky-high?  That's a rhetorical question so don't bother answering.

That's it for The Green Mask in this issue, but their are still three action-packed stories to go.

Navy buddies "Spark" Stevens and Chuck Dawson of the U.S.S. Dragon have a brief shore leave in Hawaii before heading out to the Phillipines.  As Spark gets ready for a hot date with the gorgeous Aloita, Madam Kakymamie (great name, that) and her nest of Japanese spies discover when the flotilla is scheduled to leave the harbor and plot to plant mines to destroy the fleet.  By coincidence, Madam Kakymamie and her spies have captured Alita and her father and are using their house as a headquarters.  Japanese spies v.  the U.S. Navy with Spark and Chuck?  No contest.

We shift to China where Chen Chang, the "villainous Chinese plots with fiendish wiles against the white race he hates."  Chen destroys a munitions dump to distract officials from town while Chen and his men rob the bank.  Seeing through this ruse are American adventurer Richard Kendall and New York Chronicle reporter Lynn Rover, who must stop Chen from using the stolen gold to buy rifles for his war on the white race.

The final story takes us below the sea where Navy Jones and Princess Coral of the Undersea Realm go after "pirate" warships out to sink U.S.ships.  Now Navy, Coral, and her kingly father are all human (I guess) and can breathe underwater.  Their ally Captain Nemo (of Jules Verne fame) is human and must use a diving suit and helmet.   The people of the Undersea Realm are green, gilled creatures not unlike the one from the Black Lagoon.  I think I missed the backstory on this one.  The "pirate" fleet are Nazis and Navy and his cronies make short work of the "pirate" submarines while the actually U.S. Navy mop us the pirates' surface ships.  As Navy Jones says at the end, "As long as we maintain a powerful fleet, freedom of the seas is assured!"

Enjoy.


https://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=75113&b=i

Friday, February 21, 2020

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: LATER ALLIGATOR

Bobby Charles, born Robert Charles Guidry on this date in 1938, an ethnic Cajun from Louisiana.  He wrote and recorded this song which was later made famous by Bill Hailey & his Comets.  He also wrote "Walking to New Orleans" and "It Keeps Raining" for Fats Domino, as well as "(I Don't Know Why) But I Do," which Clarence "Frogman" Henry later recorded.  The swamp pop legend died in 2010.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDiA7PeYMm8

FORGOTTEN BOOK: A SECOND CENTURY OF CREEPY STORIES

A Second Century of Creepy Stories edited by Sir Hugh Walpole (1937)

Here's another doorstop British anthology from the 1930s, this time weighing in at 1023 pages and containing 27 stories.  The publisher this time around is Hutchinson & Co., which published a slew of similar volumes including the first A Century of Creepy Stories (anonymously edited).  Some of Hutchinson's related titles were A Century of Detective Stories (anonymously edited, but introduced by G. K. Chesterton), A Century of Ghost Stories (also anonymously edited), A Century of Humorous Stories (edited by P. G. Woodhouse), A Century of Sea Stories (edited by Rafael Sabatini, who also edited their A Century of Historical Stories), A Century of Ghost Stories (edited by Dennis Wheatley), and like-minded collections of Popular Romances, Boy's Stories, Girl's Stories, Nature Stories, and Western Stories.

Once again we have a combination of familiar and unfamiliar stories, ranging from suspense, to mystery, to the supernatural.  As in Odham Press's The Mystery Book (covered here last week), Henry James' The Turn of the Screw is included.  Also included are Le Fanu's "Camilla," de Maupassant's "The Horla," Bierce's "A Watcher by the Dead," Oliver Onion's "The Beckoning Fair One," and F. Marion Crawford's "The Upper Berth" (if you have not read all of these readily available tales, please correct this deficiency post haste)Other writers of note include Wilkie Collins, Walter de la Mare, Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, M. R. James, Margaret Irwin, and Ann Bridge.  Writers who may be unfamiliar (or nigh well forgotten) include Michael Joyce, Shane Leslie, Hector Bolitho, T. O. Beechcroft, Ralph Straus, "Bartimeus" (Lewis Ritchie), and A. M. Burrage (who has two stories here, one as by "Ex-Private X").

Depending on your previous reading in the field, this volume may be either a treasure trove or a minor anthology.  Most of the writing is dated (although some of the tales are timeless), and couple of the stories can be rated as just plain meh.  All in all, however, this can stand as a cornerstone of creepy tales from the early part of the twentieth century and the latter part of the nineteenth.

The stories:

  • William Wilkie Collins, "Mad Monkton" (from the collection The Queen of Hearts, 1859)
  • John Metcalfe, "Mortmain" (from the collection Judas and Other Stories, 1931)
  • Anonymous, "The Dead Bride" (translated from the French [1912] by "Marjorie Bowen" for her 1933 anthology Great Tales of Horror
  • Sheridan Le Fanu, "Camilla" (first published in four parts in the monthly magazine The Dark Blue, December 1871 to March 1872; the story has also been published as "Blood and Roses," "Vampire Lovers," "Camilla:  A Tragic Love Story," "Camilla:  A Vampyre Tale," and "Camilla:  The Vampire Lovers")
  • "Bartimeus" (Lewis Ritchie), "The Green Door" (from the collection An Off-Shore Wind, 1936)
  • Sir Hugh Walpole, "Tarnhelm" (from Liberty, December 28, 1929; also published as "Tarnhelm, or The Death of My Uncle Robert")
  • Ambrose Bierce, "A Watcher by the Dead" (first published in the San Francisco Examiner, December 29, 1899)
  • Walter de la Mare, "The Trumpet" (first published in the Virginia Quarterly Review, October 1936)
  • Ralph Straus, "The Most Maddening Story in the World" (first published in The Sovereign Magazine, August 1920)
  • Arthur Machen, "Change" (from the collection The Children of the Pool and Other Stories, 1936)
  • Algernon Blackwood, "Keeping His Promise" (from the collection The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories, 1906)
  • "Ex-Private X" (A. M. Burrage), "The Oak Saplings" (first published in The London Magazine, October 1928)
  • M. R. James, "Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance" (from the collection More Ghost Stories from an Antiquary, 1911; also published as "The Maze")
  • Oliver Onions, "The Beckoning Fair One" (from the collection Widdershins, 1911)
  • Guy de Maupassant, "The Horla" ("Le Horla") (first published in Gil Blas, October 26, 1886, then expanded in 1887; probably the first English translation [of many] from the anthology Modern Ghosts, 1890)
  • F. Marion Crawford, "The Upper Berth" (first published in The Broken Shaft:  Unwin's Annual for 1886, edited by Sir Henry Norman, 1885; also published as "What Was in the Upper Berth?)
  • Hector Bolitho, "The House in Half Moon Street" (first published in Nash's Pall Mall Magazine, March/April 1934)
  • "Marjorie Bowen" (Gabrielle Margaret Vere Campbell Long), "The Crown Derby Plate" (from the collection The Last Bouquet:  Some Twilight Tales, 1933)
  • Henry James, The Turn of the Screw (first serialized in twelve parts in Collier's, January 27 to April 16, 1898)
  • Margaret Irwin, "Monsieur Seeks a Wife" (first published in Nash's Pall Mall Magazine, December 1934)
  • "Ann Bridge" (Mary Dolling Sanders O'Malley), "The Accident" (from the collection The Song in the House:  Stories, 1936)
  • Martin Armstrong, "Mrs. Vaudrey's Journey" (first published in The Story-teller, February 1933)
  • A. M. Burrage, "Browdean Farm" (from the collection Some Ghost Stories, 1927)
  • Michael Joyce, "Perchance to Dream" (first published in The London Mercury, December 1930)
  • Shane Leslie, "The Drummer of Gordonmuir" (first published in Ainslee's Magazine, January 1906)
  • Rupert Croft-Cooke, "Banquo's Chair" (apparently original to this collection)

Not a bad collection if this is your cup of tea.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: TO SIR WITH LOVE

Lulu.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8-M_wg8AI4

SKY KING: THE LADY SHERIFF

From 1946 to 1954, Schuyler "Sky" King took to the ABC radio airwaves as the rancher and pilot combined the western with flying, catching the bad guys and rescuing lost miners a generally doing good in the fictional town of Grover, Arizona.  The popularity of the radio show led to a television series from 1951 to 1954 featuring Kirby Grant in the title role.  On the radio, Sky was played by various actors including Roy Engel, Jack Lester, Earl Nightingale, Carlton KaDell,  and John Reed King.

Sky's ranch was The Flying Cloud and his plane was the Songbird.  Also along for his adventures were Sky's niece Penny and his nephew Clipper.  The show promoted a wholesome family image. 

(Many other young lads besides myself were more than smitten with Gloria Winters, the lovely young lady who played Penny.  I shed a tear when Winters died in 2010 at age 78.)

Sky King was based on a radio story by Roy Winsor and was created by Robert Morris Burtt and Wilfred Gibbs Moore, who also created Captain Midnight.

"The Lady Sheriff" first aired on April 12, 1951 with Earl Nightingale as Sky.  The program's announcer and shill for Peter Pan Peanut Butter was a young Mike Wallace.

Enjoy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxpAnEe2FC0

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: TAKES TWO TO TANGO

From 1952, here's Pearl Bailey,


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95BeBGTF7-M

OVERLOOKED TELEVISION: THE ROY ROGERS SHOW

For some reason I always preferred Roy to Gene (but Hoppy was my all-time favorite).  Didn't care much for Dale, though.  Pat Brady was always fun and Nellybelle the jeep always made me laugh.   Trigger was okay.  Bullet, meh.  And don't get me started on Buttermilk.

The Roy Rogers Show ran on NBC for 100 episodes from December 30, 1951 to June 9, 1957.  "Money Is Dangerous" was the show's 79th episode and first ran on January 29, 1956.  a former rancher, thought to be a miser, hires a neerdowell to act as his bodyguard and protect his money.  Instead, the man steals the money.  It's time for Roy and Trigger to ride into action.  Harry Harvey, Lucien Littlefield, John Truax, Craig Duncan, and James Macklin round out the cast.  George Blair directed from a teleplay by Dwight Cummins.

Enjoy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_JA3-Ztsfg

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: MY VERY GOOD FRIEND THE MILKMAN

Fats Waller.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNL52txAbhw

BITS AND PIECES (BETTER LATE THAN NEVER EDITION)

Openers:  They were in a basement somewhere, just the three of them, and it was late at night.  The place was full of shadows, and the shadows made six of them, one extra for each.  There was Moylan, better known as the Big Guy, and Hammond, one of his henchmen, and an individual known simply as the Screw, with that bull's-eye appropriateness underworld nicknames often have.

-- Cornell Woolrich, "Leg Man" (first published as "Dipped in Blood" by "William Irish," Street & Smith's Detective Story Magazine, April 1945)

Cornell George Hopley-Woolrich (1903-1968) left Columbia University without graduating when his first novel, Cover Charge, was published.  Cover Charge, was the first of six mainstream 'Jazz Age" novels written under the influence of F. Scott Fitzgerald.  This first novel was apparently written while he was invalided with a foot infection.  Woolrich's second novel, Children of the Rich, nabbed him a $10,000 prize in a contest sponsored by College Humor and First National Pictures, and led him to Hollywood as a screenwriter.  His stint as a screenwriter failed, producing no screen credits, and returned to writing novels but, by the 1930s the Jazz Age was dead -- Woolrich had failed to establish himself as a serious writer and his seventh novel was roundly rejected -- it ended up literally in a dustbin.  Also failed was a brief, unconsummated marriage to the 21-year-old daughter of one of the founders of Vitagraph Studios, while at the same time he was pursuing an active and clandestine homosexual love life.

Still determined to write, Woolrich begin writing for the detective pulps, which is where he found his true calling.  Many of his stories involved innocent people caught up in unexpected peril.  A prolific writer, he soon had to adopt the pseudonym "William Irish" to keep up with his output.  He moved back to New York to live with his mother in a series of seedy hotels, eventually ending up in Harlem's Hotel Marseilles, among a group of thieves, prostitutes and lowlifes that would not be out of place in [his] dark fictional world."  There he remained with his mother until her death in 1957, after which he moved to more up-scale digs.

Following the death of his mother, Woolrich isolated himself and began a sharp physical and mental decline.  An alcoholic driven by guilt over his homsexuality and self-doubt, Woolrich ignored his diabetes, leading to the amputation of a leg.  Following the amputation, he converted to Catholicism.  Staff employees would take him in his wheel chair to the hotel lobby where he could watch the traffic.  He weighed 89 pounds when he died -- a wizened mockery of a man.

He remains one of the best pulp detective story writers of his time.  He published 26 novels from 1926 to 1960, including such classics as The Bride Wore Black, Phantom Lady, Deadline at Dawn, Night Has a Thousand Eyes, Nightmare, and The Black Angel.  A final novel, completed by Lawrence Block, appeared in 1987.  Sixteen short story collection have also been published.  More than five dozen movies have been based on his works, as well as nearly ninety television episodes.  Among his short stories are "Rear Window," "Nightmare," "Three O'Clock," "I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes,"  "Marijuana." "Bluebeard's Seventh Wife," "Papa Benjamin," "The Boy who Cried Murder," "A Dime a Dance," and "I'll Take You Home Kathleen."

Despite -- or because of -- his tortured life, Woolrich left us a treasure trove of remarkable stories that exposed the dark and unexpected side of life.



Incoming:

  • "G. H. Ephron" (Hallie Ephron & Donld A. Davidoff) - Obsessed.  A Peter Zak medical mystery.  "Dr. Peter Zak is obsessed with finding the stalker who is terrorizing his new intern Dr. Emily Ryan, and sets out on a trial of escalating violence as it leads him into dark and deadly places too close to home.  Obsessed with isolating a cure to a fatal brain disease that could mean international recognition and millions of dollars, researchers will stop at nothing, break every rule, use every deviant act -- including mutilation and murder -- to achieve their goal.  Bent on destroying the vicious web of deception, sexual jealousy, and death that threatens Ryan and the lives of his patients, Dr. Peter Zak must expose the deviant killer even if he has to risk his own life to do it..."  The blurb uses the word "deviant" twice.
  • Stephen Fry, The Liar.  Comic novel.  And who isn't a Stephen Fry fan? "Stephen Fry's breathtakingly outrageous debut novel, by turns eccentric, shocking, brilliantly comic and achingly romantic..."  "The Liar is hilarious -- page after page of the most outrageous and often filthy jokes, delicious conceits, instant, brilliant ripostes that would only occur to ordinary mortals after days of teeth-grinding lunacy." -- Literary Journal  "It's very unfair.  It took Joseph Heller seven years to write Catch 22.  Stephen seems to have knocked this one off on a couple of wet Wednesday afternoons in Norfolk." -- Hugh Laurie  


President's Day:  When I was a kid we looked forward to February.  First, it was winter and there were bound to be at least a couple of snow days.  And, in those pre-PETA days, there was Groundhog Day and we kids really believed there was magic in the groundhog lore.  And Valentine's Day -- yes, everyone would get stupid cards (many from kids we didn't like) but there was always a chance of candy.  February was also the shortest month, an outlier if you will, and even with another day popping up out of nowhere every four years, it still remained the shortest month; we kids always rooted for the underdog.  And finally, there were Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday, two school holidays crammed into one short month.

Today, we have President's Day.  One measly day instead of two.  And we have to celebrate all the presidents, not just the cool ones like Lincoln and Washington and Ike, but others we never heard of like Chester A. Arthur and Franklin Pierce.  As an adult, I don't mind honoring our presidents -- most of them -- but, geez Louise, there are limits.  Can we just honor 44 of them?  I'll even throw in Nixon and George W. Bush and count Grover Cleveland twice, just let me drop 45.  I do, however, honor the office of the president, so I'll settle for Office of the President's Day.  Please?


On This Day Yesterday:
  • In 1600, on his way to be burned at the stake for heresy, philosopher Giordano Bruno has a stake impaled in his tongue to prevent him from speaking.  No more spreading that nasty philosophy for Giordano.  Simpler times, simpler solutions, even if they don't achieve what you hoped for.
  • In 1621, Myles Standish was appointed the first military commander for the Plymouth Colony.  Standish was a hawk and believed in a strong preemptive action, using a brutality that disturbed some of the colonist (and did not endear him to the local native Americans).  Longfellow portrayed him as a shy romantic in "The Courtship of Myles Standish," so there's that.
  • In 1801, the U.S. House of Representatives named Thomas Jefferson president and Aaron Burr vice president after the two were tied in electoral college votes.  History has lauded Jefferson (Sally Hemings notwithstanding) and Burr went on to kill Alexander Hamilton in a dual (something Manuel Lin Miranda fans will never forgive), and then plotted with England to capture the U.S. western territories.  Jefferson tried to influence Burr's trial for treason by proclaiming that Burr was guilty "beyond question" before Congress.  Golly, a president trying to interfere with the workings of justice...who woulda thunk it?
  • In 1864, Australian  bush poet and the author of "Waltzing Matilda," Banjo Patterson was born.
  • In 1867, the first ship passed through the Suez Canal.  The original canal was a single lane waterway with no locks buy with two locations that would allow ships to pass.  It reduced the voyage from London to Arabian Sea by 5,500 miles, bypassing the South Atlantic and southern Indian oceans.  Strategically placed, the canal was the focus of an international crisis in 1956, when Gamal Adbel Nasser, the president of Egypt, began making friends with the Soviet Union, forcing Great Britain and America to withdraw their support for the building of the Aswan Dam.  Nasser then nationalized the canal and closed the Straits of  Tiran to Israeli ships.  This led to a conflict in which Britain, France, and Israel occupied the canal zone.  In order to prevent the situation escalating into a full-blown war, the United Nations formed its first international peacekeeping force.  The Suez Canal also played a part in the Arab-Israeli Wars of 1967 and 1973.
  • In 1912, writer Mary Alice Norton was born.  Better known as "Andre Norton," she was the gateway drug for many of into the world of science fiction.  Norton is credited with over 300 books, although a number of the later books were collaborations or written by other authors using her characters and ideas.  She is probably best remembered for her Witch World series.  Norton was named a Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy. an SFWA Grand Master, and was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.  She wrote novels for more than 70 years.  Shortly before her death in 2005 the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America established the Andre Norton Award, given yearly to an outstanding book of Young Adult or Middle School science fiction or fantasy.
  • In 1930, English mystery author Ruth Rendell was born.  Baroness Rendell published 80 books, 24 of them about her series character Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford.  Out side of her police procedurals, she is known for her psychological suspense novels written both under her own name and as "Barbara Vine."  She received the Silver, Gold, and Diamond Dagger Awards from the Crime Writers Association, three Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America, the Arts Council National Book Award, and The Sunday Times Literary Award, among others.  She was a patron of Kids for Kids, a charity to help children of Darfur and was an active member of the Labour Party in the House of Lords.  Her novels have been filmed (if I counted correctly) 69 times, 50 of them for the television program The Ruth Rendell Mysteries.  I would hazard that she is one of the most honored female English mystery writers since Agatha Christie.
  • And in 2009, perhaps the most famous female bullfighter in the history of the "sport," Conchita Cintron died at age 86.  Her first public appearance was in Lima in January 1936.  In one appearance in 1940 she was gored by the bull and taken to the infirmary but refused treatment and returned to the ring, dispatching the bull with one thrust before collapsing.  Durong her career she killed more than 750 bulls.  "Her record stands as a rebuke to every man of us who has ever maintained that a woman must lose something of her femininity if she seeks to compete with men."  -- Orson Welles.  Fans of the bullfight must forgive me if I assert that there is nothing noble in killing a large pot roast charging at you.


Florida Man:
  • 27-year-old Florida Man Gregory William Loel Timm was arrested after driving into a voter registration booth in Jacksonville -- two counts of aggravated assault on a person 65 years or older, one count of criminal mischief and driving with a suspended license.  Police reports did not specify which political party sponsored the registration booth, but the Republican Party of Duval country tweeted that "six Trump Campaign volunteers were intentionally targeted while registering voters."  Separately, GOP Chairperson Ronna McDonald tweeted, "We will not be silenced by cowards, and these disgusting acts only make us work harder to win in November."  Whether the incident was intentional has yet to be shown and McDonald's use of plurals indicates that the incident will be politicized.  Intentional or not, the incident should not be condoned.
  • Florida Man Nelson Gibson is upset that he isn't allowed to bring his life-size cardboard cutout of Donald Trump to his thrice weekly, three-and-a -half hour kidney dialysis sessions for emotional support.  Gibson's son told television station WPBF, "what I would really like to happen is for them not to infringe on my father's freedom of expression and speech and allow him to bring in the lifesize cardboard cutout that takes up less service area than a garbage can."  Gibson's family said that they were not sure when he would return for treatment.
  • Acting on a tip from the U.S. Marshal's Service, Hardee County Sheriff deputies went to locate Florida Man and fugitive (from what was not reported) Mario Orosco.  When they arrived at the location, a residence, deputies heard loud music and laughter.  They knocked but were not admitted for a half hour, and were told by Janesse Orosco that she had been taking a nap.  The deputies found Mario Orosco hiding in the attic.  They also found a heart-shaped chocolate box containing 17 baggies of marijuana.  It was, after all, just before Valentine's Day.
  • Romance is not dead for Florida Man Jim Cocci who encountered a large great white shark during a dive off Riviera Beach.  It turned out that the shark was one that had not been previously registered in the great white database of the Massachusetts Shark Research Program, which then entered the shark into the database and gave Cocci the honor of naming the shark.  Cocci posted on Facebook:  "Our 'new' shark has been entered into the database and is named 'Colleen' after my loving wife, very best friend and greatest diving buddy ever!  Happy Valentine's Day, Honey!"  Well, it wasn't a candy box full of marijuana.


People (and Things) Can Be Good Dept.:



This Week's Poem:
Old Man Platypus

Far from the troubles and toil of town,
Where the reed beds sweep and shiver,
Look at a fragment of velvet brown --
Old Man Platypus drifting down,
Drifting along the river.

As he plays and dives in the river bends
In a style that is most elusive;
With few relations and fewer friends,
For Old Man Platypus descends
From a family most exclusive.

He shares his burrow beneath the bank
With his wife and his son and his daughter
At the roots of the reeds and the grasses rank;
And the bubbles show where our hero sank
To its entrance under the water.

Safe in their burrow below the falls
They live in a world of wonder,
Where no one visits and no one calls,
They sleep like little brown billiard balls
With their beaks tucked neatly under.

And he talks in a deep unfriendly growl
As he goes on his journey lonely;
For he's no relation to fish or fowl,
Nor to bird or beast, nor to horned owl,
In fact, he's the one and only!

-- Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson

Sunday, February 16, 2020

GUY WINCH: THE CASE FOR EMOTIONAL HYGIENE

Guy Winch is a licensed psychologist, author, and speaker.  He is the author of Emotional First Aid:  Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts and other books.  In this TED Talk he makes a compelling case for emotional hygiene -- taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies.

My late mother-in-law used to swear by "Irish* Alzheimers" where you forget everything but the grudge.  It doesn't have to be that way.

https://archive.org/details/GuyWinch_2014X


* Insert whatever nationality or ethnicity in your family.

HYMN TIME

Jim Reeves.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqwomT5YSiw

Saturday, February 15, 2020

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: DON'T ANSWER THE DOOR

B. B. King.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJ3sBcQBDtU

SINGING GUNS, THE COMIC BOOK (1950)

The New REPUBLIC PICTURE Starring Vaughn Monroe, Ella Raines and Walter Brennan!

The famous singing star of records and radio is a fighting western heros in this thrilling movie!

VAUGHN MONROE plays a bearded outlaw and a fighting sheriff in the big REPUBLIC picture, SINGING GUNS!  Don't miss it!

In Tru Color -- with Ward Bond, Jeff Corey, Barry Kelley, Harry Shannon, Tom Fadden, Ralph Dunn, Rex Lease, George Chandler, Billy Gray, Mary Bear, and Jimmy Dodd; with Elinor Donahue as "Mike Murphy's kid" -- Screenplay by Dorrell & Stuart McGowan -- Based on a novel by Max Brand -- Directed by R. G. Springsteen

Who is the dread Rhiannon, the outlaw?  Where is his secret hide-out with more than a million dollars of stolen gold, goal of the most intensive search in history?

A B-comic book based on a B-western.  What more could you want?

I thought you'd say that.  Enjoy.


https://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=75063&b=i

Friday, February 14, 2020

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: WILD FLYING DOVE

It's Valentine's Day and Kitty is my valentine, now and forever.


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

FORGOTTEN BOOK: THE MYSTERY BOOK

The Mystery Book, edited by H. Douglas Thomson (1934)

The 1930s appear to have been the Golden Age of doorstopper British mystery anthologies, many of them published by Odhams Press in London -- big fat books with small yet still readable type.  Case in point is H. Douglas Thomson's The Mystery Book, collecting 50 stories and weighing in at a daunting 1086 pages.

Thomson divides the book into three sections:  Stories of Mystery and Adventure,Stories of Crime and Detection, and Stories of the Supernatural.  Due to the nature of the beast there is some overlap among the three sections.  Here you find stories both familiar and rare.  And you will meet up with such once-popular sleuths as Reggie Fortune, Max Carrados, Inspector Wilson, Lord Peter Wimsey, J. G. Reeder, Martin Hesselius, and Sherlock (may his light ever shine!) Holmes; throw in a couple of rogues such as Arsene Lupin and Raffles; add a large amount of other tales from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; mix well and you have an interesting tome that will occupy you for many nights.

Also included are two novels (harumph! -- novellas really), The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells and The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.  Thomson takes great pride in including both in a single anthology, the first (and probably not the last) this was done.  Two one-act plays are also included:  Thread o' Scarlet by Scotland's J. J. Bell and A Night at the Inn by the Anglo-Irish phenom Lord Dunsany.

There's May Sinclair's sexually understated "Where Their Fire Is not Quenched," a Russian detective story from Anton Chekhov, one of Dickens' "Sketches by Boz," Wilkie Collins' classic "A Terribly Strange Bed"( with its device that has since been used over and over in films and on television), Stacy Aumonier's unfairly forgotten "Miss Bracegirdle Does Her Duty," one of A. J. Alan's curious tales first read on the radio, and the minor classic "The Smile of La Gioconda" by Morley Roberts, among others.

Here's the lineup:

STORIES OF MYSTERY AND ADVENTURE

  • Stacy Aumonier, Miss Bracegirdle Does Her Duty
  • Max Beerbohm, A. V. Laider
  • J. J. Bell, Thread o' Scarlet
  • Ambrose Bierce, The Man and the Snake
  • Algernon Blackwood, The Occupant of the Room
  • W. Wilkie Collins, A Terribly Strange Bed
  • Guy de Maupassant, The Horla
  • Charles Dickens, The Black Veil
  • J. S. Fletcher, The Ivory God
  • Mrs. Gaskell, The Squire's Story
  • O. Henry, The Furnished Room
  • Thomas Hood, A Tale of Terror
  • Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher
  • Morley Roberts, The Smile of La Gioconda
  • H. G. Wells, The Invisible Man
STORIES OF CRIME AND DETECTION

  • A. J. Alan, My Adventure at Chislehurst
  • H. C. Bailey, The Nice Girl
  • Ernest Bramah, The Game Played in the Dark
  • Anton Chekhov, The Swedish Match
  • J. Storer Clouston, The Envelope
  • G. D. H. and M. I. Cole, The Missing Baronet
  • Freeman Wills Crofts, The Mystery of the Sleeping Car Express
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Speckled Band
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe
  • E. W. Hornung, The Wrong House
  • Michael Kent, Another Shot at the Locker
  • Maurice Leblanc, The Black Pearl
  • Dorothy L. Sayers, The Cave of Ali Baba
  • Robert Louis Stevenson, Markheim
  • Edgar Wallace, The Green Mamba
STORIES OF THE SUPERNATURAL
  • R. H. Barham, Jerry Jarvis's Wig
  • Agatha Christie, The Last Seance
  • F. Marion Crawford, The Upper Berth
  • Allan Cunningham, The Haunted Ships
  • Daniel Defoe. Mrs. Veal
  • Walter de la Mare, Out of the Deep
  • Lord Dunsany, A Night at the Inn
  • W. W. Jacobs, The Monkey's Paw
  • Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
  • M. R. James, Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad
  • Charles Lamb, The Witch Aunt
  • Perceval Landon, Thunley Abbey
  • Sheridan Le Fanu, Green Tea
  • E. Bulwer Lytton, The Haunted and the Haunters
  • Frederick Marryat, The Werewolf
  • Mrs. Oliphant, The Open Door
  • Sax Rohmer, Tcheriapin
  • Sir Walter Scott, Wandering Willie's Tale
  • May Sinclair, Where Their Fire Is Not Quenched
  • Bram Stoker, The Judge's House
There are a number of stories you have read -- probably many years ago -- but they are worth revisiting.


The Mystery Book is available cheaply from the usual online outlets, with the shipping costs from the UK far greater than the price of the book.  It is also available through Interlibrary Loan, which is where I got my copy.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: REELING IN THE YEARS

Steely Dan.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WTh_IEyU1w

NICK CARTER, MASTER DETECTIVE: MURDER IN THE CRYPT

Nick Carter, Master Detective first hit the Mutual Radio airwaves on April 11, 1943, with Lon Clark on the title role.  Based on the long-running dime novel and detective magazine hero, Carter has changed quite a bit over the years in print and other media, from detective to the super-spy of the original paperback Killmaster series.  The show had a difficult time finding anchor on the Mutual network -- it occupied eleven different time slot in  three years, finally settling comforting  to a Sunday evening spot from 1946 to its end in 1952.

Clark maintained the title role for the entire life of the series, some 700 episodes.  In the early years of the program, Helen Choate played Carter's secretary, Charlotte Manson.  Sidekick "demon reporter" Scrubby Wilson was by John Kane.

"Murder in the Crypt" (or "Nick Carter and the Jackal God") first aired on August 2, 1943, from a script written by Walter B. Gibson.  A dead body in found in front of a statue of Anubis, the Jackal God.  Nick takes the measure of the case (pun intended).

Enjoy this walk into the Golden Age of Radio.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs7k8zGxrdo

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: RAINY DAYS AND MONDAYS

The Carpenters.  (And I will never forgive you, Karen, for dying so young.)


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

OVERLOOKED TELEVISION: THE 87TH PRECINCT: KING'S RANSOM

It's past time that we took a look at Ed McBain's The 87th Precinct, which ran from 1961 to 1962 on NBC.  Let's join Steve Carella (Robert Lansing), Bert Kling (Ron Harper), Meyer Meyer (Norman Fell). and Roger Havilland (transformed into a good cop for the series; played by Gregory Walcott) as they investigate a case of  the kidnapping of the wrong child.  Featuring Charles McGraw, Nancy David (yes, Mrs. Ronald Reagan), and John Astin, "King's Ransom" is based upon the book by McBain.  Directed by James Sheldon and scripted by McBain himself (one of only two episodes out of 30 that he scripted).   Cast member Gina Rowlands, who played Carella's deaf mute wife, does not appear in this episode.

When a couple of ex-cons set out to kidnap the son of wealthy shoe manufacturer Douglas King, they mistakenly grab the son of King's chauffeur.  Trying to cash in on their mistake, they still demand a hefty ransom from King.  King, afraid the demands will ruin him financially, refuses to pay. 

This episode first aired on February 19, 1962.  The following year saw the release of Akira Kurasawa's classic film High and Low, which was based on McBain's King's Ransom.

The long-running series of 87th Precinct books by McBain set the location in the fictional city of Isola (hah!  Everyone knows that this was a thinly veiled New York City.) but the television series transformed Isola back into New York City.

Enjoy meeting (or reacquainting yourself with) the men of the 87th.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5sTB0_UyEc


Monday, February 10, 2020

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: THE MISSISSIPPI SQUIRREL REVIVAL

Ray Stevens.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K16fG1sDagU

BITS & PIECES

Openers:  On the pleafant banks of the Garonne, in the province of Glafcony, ftood, in the year 1584, the chateau of Monfieur St. Aubert.  From the windows were feen the paftoral landfcapes of Guienne and Gafcony ftretching long the river, gay with luxuriant woods and vines, and plantations of olives.  To the fouth, , the view was bounded by the majeftic Pyranees, whofe summits, veiled in clouds, or exhibiting awful forms, feen, and loft again, as the partial vapours rolled along, were flmetimes barren, and gleamed through the blue tinge of air, and fometimes frowned with forefts of gloomy pine, that fwept downward to their bafe.  Thefe tremendous precipices were contrafted by the  foft green of the paftures and woods that hung upn their fkirts, among whofe flocks and herds, and fimple cottages, the eye, after fcaling the cliffs above, delighted to repose.  To the north, and to the eaft, the plains of Guienne and Languedoc were loft in the mift of diftance; on the weft, Gafclony was bounded by the waters of Bifcay.

-- Anne Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolfo, a romance (1794)

The quintessential Gothic romance that helped p[ave to a spate of ruined castles. seemingly supernatural events, nasty villains, persecuted (and virtuous) heroines, and ;physical and psychological terror.  I tried to read the book several years ago, by was put off by "f" for "s" typography of the time and only got about halfway through book 1 (of 4).  I hope to fish it sometime this year, but you can bet I'm going to get a modern English version.


Incoming:

  • Hallie Ephron - Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel.  Nonfiction, from 2015.  "This comprehensive guide covers every aspect of mystery writing...By the time you finish reading part one of this book, you will have a blueprint for your entire story.  Parts two and three take you blueprint from idea to well-polished novel.  Part four is an insider's guide to getting it into an agent's or publisher's hands."  Coming from a highly respected family of writers, Jungle Red Hallie is a highly successful mystery writer and knows what's what.  This thrift store find appears to be well-read, with many parts underlined and whole sections marked with sticky notes.  I wonder if the previous owner actually wrote his/her novel and had it published.  I certainly hope so.


Oh, Freedom:  The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the high civilian honor a citizen of the United States can receive, although it has been given to a numbers of foreign nationals.  The medal is given "for meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."  Those honored are selected by the president, sometimes with the recommendation of the Distinguished Civilian Service Awards Board.

The first awards were given by President John F. Kennedy in 1963.  Receiving the award in 1963 were Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (architecture), Andrew Wyeth (art), E. B. White (literature), Edmund Wilson (literature), Thornton Wilder (literature), Marian Anderson (music), Pablo Casals (music), Rudolf Serkin (music), Edwin H. Land (photography), Edward Steichen (photography), Clarence B. Randall (business and economics; Randall was chairman of Inland Steel Company, advisor to both Eisenhower and Kennedy, and spokesman for the steel industry during the 1952 steel disputes), Genevieve Caulfield (education; Caulfield was a blind teacher who started a school for the blind in Thailand), James Bryant Conant (education; Conant, a noted chemist was a transformative president of Harvard University, utilizing many reforms -- of which racial equality, alas, was not one); Alexander Meiklejohn (education; Meiklejohn was an educational reformer, free speech advocate, and president of Amherst College); George W. Taylor (education; Taylor founded the academic discipline of industrial relations and served as a mediator to settle more than 2000 labor strikes); Annie D. Wauneka (humanitarian; Wauneka was a member of the Navajo Nation Council and worked to improve the health and education of the Navajo); Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter (Law), John F. Enders (medicine; Nobel Laureate Enders has been called the "Father of Modern Vaccines", J. Clifton MacDonald (philanthropy; damned if I can find anything about MacDonald; any information will be gratefully received), Ralph J. Bunche (diplomacy), Ellsworth Bunker (diplomacy), Robert A. Lovett (cabinet member; Truman's Secretary of Defence), Herbert H. Lehman (U.S. Congress; senator [D-NY] from 1949-1957 and former governor of New York; he was an early and vocal opponent of Senator Joseph McCarthy), Luis Munoz Marin (first democratically-elected governor of Puerto Rico), John J. McCloy (American High Commissioner for Occupied Germany, president of the World Bank, and advisor to all presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan), George Meany (labor union leader),  Jean Monnot (French political economist and diplomat), Alan Tower Waterman (science; a physicist, Waterman was the first director of The National Science Foundation), and Robert J. H. Kiphuth (head coach of the Yale University men's swim team; during his 41-year tenure Kiphuth had  record of 28 wins to 12 losses and brought the Elis to four NCAA titles).  All 31 honorees were given their medals by Lyndon B. Johnson in December of 1963.  Johnson also awarded a posthumous medal to JFK.

Few persons would quibble about the first recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Later recipients would include I. M. Pei, Norman Rockwell, Martha Graham, John Wayne, Carl Sandburg, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, Ansel Adams, Sam Walton, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, Will and Ariel Durant, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Thurgood Marshall, Edward R. Murrow, Lowell Thomas, Fred Rogers, Carol Burnett, Jonas Salk, Chuck Yeager, Colin Powell, Bill and Melinda Gates, Eric Hoffer, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Height, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, Rachel Carson, Roger Tory Peterson, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, Lech Walesa, Angela Merkel, Elliot Richardson, Madeleine Albright, Betty Ford, Claire Booth Luce, Margaret Chase Smith, Representative John Lewis, Sargent Shriver, Pope John XXIII, Billie Graham, Desmond Tutu, Pope John Paul II, Margaret Mead, Stephen Hawking, Neil Armstrong, "Buzz" aldrin, Michael Collins, John Glenn, Sally Ride, "Hidden Figure" Katherine Johnson, Jesse Owens, Arthur Ashe, Roberto Clemente, Mohammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Arnold Palmer, Babe Ruth, and Yogi Berra.

And that's just skimming through some of the names.  Medal of Freedom winners have added to our culture, our entertainment, and our way of life.

But because the ultimate say-so goes to the President of the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom has also been used for political purpose on both sides of the political divide. During the Iraq War, George W. "Mission Accomplished" Bush caused controversy by awarded the Medal of Freedom somewhat prematurely to three key players in the War: L. Paul Brennan, the civilian administrator of Iraq after the invasion of Baghdad, retired General Tommy Franks, who led the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and George Tenet, the former director of the CIA.  Of these three. let's look at Bremer and Tenet.  Bremer was involved in the postinvasion decision to disband the Iraqi army in 2003, leaving thousands of armed Iraqis with no work, helping to fuel the insurrection and the horrendous looting in that country.  Tenet assured Bush repeatedly before the Iraq War that Irq possessed banned weapons; he has also been faulted for the lack of better cooperation, communication and analysis prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks.  The Iraq War was a clusterf**k because the Bush administration had absolutely no plan for after the war.  Cheney figured the oil would pay for the war and really didn't care what happened after.  This lack of planning, of which all three Medal of Freedom recipients were involved. has led to billions of American dollars disappearing, violence, and political instability.  We are still suffering from this legacy.

Enough ranting about the Bush era foolhardiness.  Let's go on to Trump -- the reason I started going down the Presidential Medal of Freedom path.

Trump has awarded the Medal of Freedom to Elvis Presley (posthumously, of course), Arthur Laffer (Republican advisor and conservative economist who blamed the great recession on Barack Obama), Alan Page (former football great and the first African-American to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court and an advocate for children's education), Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (posthumously), Edwin Meese (Ronald Reagan's Attorney General), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Babe Ruth (baseball; posthumously), Roger Staubach (football), Tiger Woods (golf), Bob Cousy (basketball), Jerry West (basketball), Mariano Rivera (baseball), Roger Penske (auto racing), and, last week, Rush Limbaugh.

Rush Limbaugh?  Rush Limbaugh!  Perhaps not America's greatest bigot, but he's up there.  

Here's a few gems:

"Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream of society."

"When a gay person turns his back on you, it is anything but an insult; it's an invitation."

After Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke testified before Congress on the importance of health insurance covering birth control, "What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says she must be paid to have sex -- what does it make her?  It makes her a slut, right?  It makes her a prostitute."

On LGBT politicians getting elected:  "I guaranteed there'd be some people in the Republican establishment who will now think, 'Yeah, we need to do this.  We need to provide a home, we need to provide a comforting atmosphere for the tranny community and the gay community.' But those people are voting Democrat anyway."

"Have you ever noticed that all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"

"The NAACP should have riot rehearsal.  They should get a liquor store and practice robberies."

"I love the women's movement, especially when walking behind it."

"Obamacare is ...the largest tax increase in the history of the world."  This unfounded statement is rated Pants on fire.

"11 straight years of no major hurricane striking land [in the United States] bores a hole right through the climate change argument."  Another Pants on Fire ill-informed blathering.

President Barack Obama "wants to mandate male circumcision."  OMG!  Pants really on Fire.  Supposedly Rush from this one from Fox News.

Obama shut down NASA flights and turned the agency into "a Muslim outreach department."  Pants on Fire so much it's burning your chin whiskers.

The Obama administration "planned the influx of illegal children at the border."  Wrong.  Wrong. Wrong.

A black caller, upset at Limbaugh's racist tirade was told to "call back when you take the bone out of your nose."

He accused Michael J. Fox of "faking" Parkinsons.

He called then 12-year-old Chelsea clinton a "dog."

He was an early and vocal supporter of the "Birther Movement."

He repeatedly compares gay marriage to bestiality.

He made up a story about journalist Krystal Ball, saying that she posed nude when she was 14.

"The people who are shooting up schools more than likely vote Democratic when you get right down to it, if they vote."

Al Qaeda may have given up Osama bin Laden "for the express purpose of making Obama look good."

Among the right-wing conspiracy theories Limbaugh has promoted concern the death of Clinton White House aide Vince Foster, that Obama might cancel the 2012 elections, and that Obama was an African Colonial or an anti-colonialist (make up our mind, Rush).

Limbaugh also said the his Presidential Medal of Freedom is lessened because of several African-Americans who had previously been given that honor.Florida Man sets off

Limbaugh's career has focused on racism, misogyny, and utter nonsense, delivered in a hateful, offensive, and poisonous manner designed to fuel white rage.  Is there any wonder Trump threw red meat at his base by giving the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Limbaugh the day after Limbaugh announced that he had an advanced form of lung cancer?

For the record, I do not with cancer on anyone, even Rush Limbaugh, and I wish him well in his battle.



Phew!:  That took much longer than I intended.



Florida Man: 
  • If there ever is a Florida Man Hall of Fame, surely Kizer Pontoon, 28, will be one of the first inducted.  He was just arrested for the 66th time, and, no, that is not a typo.  God, I love Florida.
  • Willard Hawkins, 47, was arrested for killing his ex-girlfriend's 95-year-old lover at a Port St. Lucie nursing home, smothering the old gent with his own pillow.  Police did not have enough enough to arrest Hawkins back in September when the murder occurred, but they were able to charge him back then for driving his victim's Cadillac into a lake. Talking about killing the old geezer, Hawkins said, "I accomplished my life's goal, okay?  whatever happens to me after, that's fine."  Florida relationships can be tricky.
  • An unnamed Florida Man set of a Level 3 Hazmat alert when he began pumping gasoline into a fishing pole slot instead of hs boat's gas tank.  He dispensed some $60 worth of gas onto his boat's deck and onto the ground of a local 7-11. He evidently realized what he was doing and continued to pump the gas.  Alcohol may have been involved.
  • Florida Man Michael Offie, 42, of Groveland, has been arrested for criminal mischief and resisting an officer after smearing dog feces on a water meter lock.  Asked why he would do that, Offie told police, "Wouldn't you if they shut off your water?"  No, Mr. Offie, I wouldn't.
  • Florida Man and Stalker Deron Randall broke into a married couple's home.  He had made inappropriate comments on the woman's social media beginning several years ago.  She blocked him twice so he sent her a refrigerator and twice before broke into her home.  This time he left lotion, sado, and chips outside the couple's bedroom before being accosted by the husband.  While held at gunpoint before the police arrived, he began taking off his clothes, which is how police found him, naked and mumbling the woman's name.  The husband had to fire off a warning shot into a sofa to convince the man to stay.  As I said above, Florida relationships can be tricky.
  • Florida Woman Joanne Mercader, 59, threw a bucket of human feces on her landlord who was trying to evict her.  She then spread feces over herself to make it appear that the victim was the one flinging the human waste.  Police worked to get to the bottom of this crappy situation.  Mercader eventually confessed that she was the s**t-thrower but said she meant to throw a bucket of water on the victim and just grabbed the wrong bucket.  Who has a spare bucket of feces lying around the house?


Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy -- Here Comes the Good News:



Today's Poem:  
Silence

silence


.
is 
a
looking

bird:the

turn
ing edge of
life

(inquiry before snow

-- e. e. cummings

(Let me admit here and now that I don't understand this poem.)

Sunday, February 9, 2020

ASTERIX THE GAUL

Everyone's favorite Gaulish warrior first appeared in the Franco-Belgian magazine Pilote on October 29, 1959.  The comic strip was written by Rene Goscinny and drawn by Albert Uderzo.  It took place in 50 B.C., a time when Julius Caesar had conquered all of Gaul except for a small village in Armorica (Brittany).  The village resisted the Romans because of an invincibility elixir made from time to time by the village druid Getafix.  The village chief is Vitalstatistix, but because of his shrewdness Asterix is usually in charge of the most important affairs of the village.  Astrix is accompanied by his friend Obelix, a huge, not too bright, hulk of a man who had fallen into a vat of the elixir when her was a baby, resulting in permanent invincibility.

The cast of characters include Dogmatix (Obelix's dog), Impedimenta (the argumentative wife of Vitalstatistix), Cacofonix (the village bard), Geriatrix (the oldest inhabitant), Unhygienix (the village fishmonger) and his wife Bacteria, Fulliautomatix (the village blacksmith), Chanticleerix (the village rooster in love with Asterix's helmet), Pacifix, Atlantix, Adriatix, Analgesix, Operatix, Acoustix, Harmonix, Polyfonix, Polytechnix, Bucolix, Photogenix, and many, many more pun-filled characters.  And, of course, Julius Caesar, who wants nothing more than to conquer the village.

"The humour encountered in the Asterix comics often centers around puns, caricatures, and tongue-in-cheek stereotypes of contemporary European nations and French regions.  Much of the humour in the initial Asterix books was French-specific, which delayed the translation of the books into other languages for fear of losing the jokes and the spirit of the story.  Slome translations have actually added local humour.  In the Italian translation, the Roman soldiers are made to speak 20th century Roman dialect and Obelix's famous Ils sont fous ces romains ("These Romans are crazy") is translated properly as Sono pazzi questi romani, humorously alluding to the Roman abbreviation SPQR.  In another example:  Hiccups are written onomatopoeically in French as hips, but in english as "hic", allowing the Roman legionaries in more than one of the English translations to decline decline their hiccups absurdly in Latin (hic, haec, hoc).  The newer albums share a more universal humour, both written and visual."  [Wikipedia]

Asterix has been translated into at least 111 languages.  The adventures of the feisty little Gaul have now appeared in 38 volumes.  A 1999 poll by Le Monde placed the first book in the series, Asterix the Gaul as the 23rd greatest book of the twentieth century.  Asterix's popularity has been translated into 14 films, 40 video games, 15 board games, and one theme park.

In 1967, a French-Belgian full-length film was made from the first book in the series, Asterix the Gaul..  The animated feature did not please Goscinny and Uderzo, who were unaware the film was being made and managed to block a second planned film.  The two then oversaw a second released film, Asterix and Cleopatra, with more officially sanctioned film to come.

How universal is Asterix anyway?  Here's your chance to find out.  The only copy I could find of  1967's Asterix the Gaul is the Hindi version.  Can you overcome the language barrier  to fully enjoy (or even understand) the movie?  Let's see.

https://archive.org/details/AsterixTheGaul

HYMN TIME

The Staler Brothers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCk8i-EvGN8

Saturday, February 8, 2020

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: MONEY

Barrett Strong with the original recording of this song.  It was the first ever hit for Barry Gordy's Tamla Records, Motown's first record label.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5KU34DrrPI

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES, FIRST SERIES (1920)

Keeping Up with the Joneses was a popular comic strip by (Arthur Ragland) "Pop" Momand that ran from 1913 to 1938.  The McGinis family -- Aloysius, Clarice, daughter Julie, and housekeeper Belladonna -- attempt to "keep up" with their neighbors, the unseen Joneses.  The strip was based on Momand's experiences living in Nassau County, which eventually proved too expoensive for the artist and he moved to Manhattan.  Momand's New York Times obituary said that the strip ran from 1916 to 1955.  Who knows?  Not me -- I haven't bothered to check.  One reference on the internet said that Momand dies at age 134.  Humph!  I think I'll go with a more conservative 100 or 101 (Wikipedia says 100; The New York Times and Comicopedia say 101.) 

Below is the first of two compilations published by Cupples & Leon.

Enjoy.


https://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=75047&b=i

Friday, February 7, 2020

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: ONE LOVE

Bob Marley & The Wailers.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdB-8eLEW8g

FORGOTTEN BOOK: SPORT FOR INSPECTOR WEST

Sport for Inspector West by John Creasey (1971, originally published as Inspector West Kicks Off, 1949)


Not so much a forgotten book than an overlooked one, like a tree in a dense forest -- just one of more than 600 novels published by Creasey over his prolific career.  To narrow our focus a bit, it is just one of 43 novels about Scotland Yard's Roger "Handsome" West published from 1942 to 1978.  Lost in the crowd.

Creasey published a lot of books under his own name, including the Roger West series, but his output was so high he also resorted to 28 pseudonyms.  His major output was mystery and detective novels, but he also published a passel of westerns, romances, juveniles, and thrillers, including five books in the legendary Sexton Blake series.  In 1937 alone, Creasey published 29 books.  He was fast, he was prolific, he was immensely readable and popular.  Almost all of his books were good but few were memorable.  His best writing, perhaps, was with his series of Commander George Gideon, written under his "J. J. Marric" pseudonym.  (One, Gideon's Fire, won an Edgar Award.)  You can argue about which series was his next best but I like the Roger west series.

Inspector Roger West has it all.  He's good looking (hence his nickname), smart, brave, dedicated. and has a loving family as well as the respect of his colleagues.  Despite all this, he is an enigma, a formulaic hero.  We know little about him beyond these cardboard cutout characteristics.  His cases often uncover major criminal organizations and conspiracies.  He started the series as a Scotland Yard Inspector and was eventually promoted to Superintendent.  As with many other Creasey novels, the earlier books were often slightly revised for American publication during the Sixties and Seventies.  So a title like 1953's Send Inspector West becomes Send Superintendent West in 1976.

The Lancer paperback edition of Sport for Inspector West makes no mention of its earlier publication as Inspector West Kicks Off, nor of any earlier copyright date.  This makes it a little off putting for the poor reader as it appears there has been very little revision to the novel.  This is in part because the major thrust of the case, an investigation into the wholesale theft of food, takes place during a time of British rationing and exorbitant food prices.  The casual reference to a taxi cab being a 1928 model vehicle again places the book jarringly in the past from 1971.  Yet no specific timeframe is given for the novel.  It could easily be considered an novel set in an alternate existence.

Inspector West Kicks Off was the eighth book in the Roger West series.  His two sons were just out of the toddler stage; they would age and mature as the series continued.  Again, someone reading this in 1971 after having red a later book in the series, such as 1970's Part for a Policeman, would be confused.

Enough quibbling.  On to the plot.

Guy Randall is a printing salesman for an up and coming firm.  He has just landed the biggest contract in the firm's history.  With the contract in his briefcase, he calls his fiancee to tell her of the good news, and walks home.  On the way he is shot and killed and his briefcase taken.  Guy Randall bears a remarkable likeness ot Roger West and this has local police confused about a possible motive.  After three weeks of tracing Randall's steps and getting no closer to finding his murderer, the case lands in Roger West's lap.

West interviews the fiancee, Sybil Lennox, who is obviously upset and who is just as obviously hiding something.  While the fiancee is at work, West goes to her rooming house to interview Sybil's landlady.  During the interview, there is a thumping that came from upstairs, in Sybil's room.  West accosts a burglar and in a tussle West is knocked down.  As the burglar charges down the stairs  he is met by Detective-Sergeant Goodwin who had come to deliver a message to West.  A gun is pulled and Goodwin is shot in the chest, seriously wounded.  West chases the gunman, who runs into traffic and is hit by a car and killed.  Back at the rooming house, police pick up a briefcase dropped by the gunman.  It's Guy Randall's missing briefcase.  A search of Sybil's room finds Randall's printing contract hidden under her mattress.

Meanwhile Sybil leaves work and waits outside the building, not realizing that she is under observation by one of West's men.  The policeman notices a suspicious cab driver waiting outside and checking out everything about him.  (This is the 1928 taxi I mentioned above.)  After a while he signals, and Sybil enters the cab and they drive off.  The policeman takes note of the cab and rushes off to telephone the information to headquarters.  Before he can get to a phone he bumps into a short, belligerent man who begins accosting and berating him, kicking him in the leg very hard and drawing a crowd.  With all the disturbance, it's about fifteen minutes before the call goes through and police begin to look for the cab.  By then, it's too late.  It turns out that the cab is not registered and there appears to be no way to locate it, its driver, or the girl.

After a number of false starts, West and a contingent of police zero in on an old warehouse where a lot of taxis are stored.  There they see the small man who had argued with the policeman.  On seeing the police, the man (named Relf) flees to the roof of the warehouse, followed by West and several officers.  There is a driving rain that makes navigating the roof very dangerous; as is his wont, West insists on going first if there is any chance of danger to his men.  West carefully makes nis way across the roof, trying to avoid Relf's bullets.  The building is surrounded and relf has nowhere to go.  West sees two dark figures in the rain on the roof of the building next to him and believes them to be police officers blocking that way.  The two men begin throwing rocks at Relf, hitting him and knocking him off the roof.  Relf breaks his neck in the long fall and is killed instantly.  The two men get away in the rain and confusion.

The cabdriver that went off with Sybil is identified as Mike Scott.  He was also the man who had run over and killed the gunman who had shot Sergeant Goodwin.  The gunman's death was murder then, not an accident.  Scott remained missing.  Scott's brother, Jeremiah, is a very successful printing salesman from an established rival firm to Guy Randall's.  In fact, the large contract that Randall had gotten the day he died was one that Jeremiah Scott held for years.  The contract was with a nationwide food processing and delivery company who's president was an old-fashioned tee-totaller; Jeremiah Scott had been drunk at a recent company function and the food processing president in response gave the new contract to Randall instead of Scott.  In fact Scott was leaving the president's office just as Randall was entering to get the contract.  Jeremiah Scott became high on West's suspect list because of too many coincidences and because of Scott's smarmy, challenging attitude.

It turns out that police have been investigating a large, highly organized, food theft and smuggling ring.  Remember this is when rationing ang high food prices existed and there was a great demand on the black market.  The food theft was not a penny ante let's swipe a can of kippers from the local grocer type; it was big-league involving many tons of food -- bacon, cheese, canned goods and the like.  West's investigations kept coming back to the food company -- Perriman's -- which had given Guy Randall the large printing contract.  Certain that someone in the company is involved with the deaths, but not knowing about the large food thefts, West places an undercover man within the company.  West's man gets a low-level job that allows him to explore a large area of the the local plant, the he is assigned to take some plant waste to a large fire pit at the edge of the property.  Spreading the waste around with a pitchfork, he uncovers a human hand.  Digging further he finds other remains of a dismember body and a plaid sports coat.  The body parts had been greatly burned and the head was unrecognizable.  But the coat resembled that of a missing well-known newspaper reporter.

Shortly after the body was discovered, sixteen of Perriman's large trucks -- each containing tons of food for delivery -- were send out on various routes.  All sixteen were hijacked by to men each.  It soon became evident that the gang that had killed Randall, Relf, and the burnt man in the firepit were the same ones involved in the food thefts.

In the meantime, what of Sybil?  She is being held by Mike Scott and two other men who are trying to find out what she has told West.  She insists she has not told him anything but they cannot afford to believe her.  Scott and the two men are minor cogs in the operation and have no idea who is behind it, but they get word that things are getting hot and are told to kill Sybil and disappear.  The idea is not only to kill Sybil but to frame her for Randall's murder.  Sybil is drugged and is staged to become a suicide.  The two other men leave by Mike Scott remained when West and his men raid their lair and manage to rescue Sybil.  Sybil is then moved to another town and is watched over by West's friend Mark Lessing.  Lessing falls for Sybil, not realizing that Sybil is also a suspect.  Jeremiah Scott in the meantime is insisting in the most smarmy way possible that his brother is innocent and hires a high-priced lawyer for him.  Jeremiah also tells West that Sybil is hiding a lot of secrets and is not the cleancut girl she pretends to be.

The burnt body is shown not be the reporter.  Instead, it belongs to a deaf-mute derelict who had hung around the garage where Relf was killed.

West and his men eventually converge on an abandoned labyrinth of a warehouse, finding tons of stolen food.  The men at the warehouse try to escape through the maze of rooms.  West, leading the charge, fall through a floor and into a tunnel.  There are men chasing and trying to shoot the missing reporter.  West is going after them when several explosions cause the tunnel to collapse, burying him.

The tunnel, one of many abandoned and closed off sewer lines, leads to one of Perriman's many buildings that are scattered across the country. Digging out the tunnel was a long and involved process, but West is found somewhat the worse for wear.  The missing reporter also survived.  the massive amounts of food found were not those stolen from Perriman's trucks, but had been stolen and smuggled into england from several European countries.

Someone in the Perriman operation is now surely involved and suspicion now falls on members of the Perriman family.  Several members of the family are great football fans and often go to home games of the local football club.  What is the connection between football and food theft?  And who is that new vendor selling counterfeit programs for each game?  And why was his dead body dumped on a highway where police were following a Rolls Royce belonging to of Perriman family?

The entire case is a massive, growing jumble that West must solve and, with the help of his people, he does.

It's a fast-moving book, with unexpected twists and turns, and the reader can easily suspend disbelief.  For all his go-get-iveness, West doesn't do much in the book other than take pratfalls and willingly lead the charge into numerous dangers.  His minions do most of the work while West posits wrong ideas.  For all its faults, it's a darned good and entertaining book,  Each of Creasey's series follow a specific proven, workable formula.  Few of his books stand out but almost all provide a pleasant way to pass an evening.

By the way, several of Creasey's series have been adapted for British television and others have been filmed.  Roger West has only been adapted for a BBC radio program that ran from 1967-1971; I'll have to see if any episodes are available.


The Roger West Series:

  • Inspector West Takes Charge, 1942
  • Inspector West Leves Town, 1943; also published as Go Away To Murder, 1972
  • Inspector West at Home, 1944
  • Inspector West Regrets, 1945
  • Holiday for Inspector West, 1946
  • Battle for Inspector West, 1948
  • Triumph for Inspector West, 1948;  also published as The Case Against Paul Raeburn, 1958
  • Inspector West Kicks Off, 1949; also published as Sport for Inspector West, 1971
  • Inspector West Alone, 1950
  • Inspector West Cries Wolf, 1950; also published as The Creepers, 1952
  • Puzzle for Inspector West, 1951; also published as The Dissemblers, 1967
  • A Case for Inspector West, 1951; also published as The Figure in the Dusk, 1952
  • The Blind Spot, 1952; also published as Inspector West at Bay, 1954, and The Case of the Acid Throwers, 1955
  • A Gun for Inspector West, 1953; also published as Give a Man a Gun, 1954
  • Send Inspector West, 1954; also published as Send Superintendent West, 1976
  • A Beauty for Inspector West, 1954; also published as The Beauty Queen Killer, 1956, and So Young, So Cold, So Fair, 1958
  • Two for Inspector West, 1955; also published as Murder:  One, Two, Three, 1960, and Murder Tips the Scales, 1962
  • Inspector West Makes Haste, 1955; also published as The Gelignite Gang, 1956, Night of the Watchman, 1966, and Murder Makes Haste, 197?
  • A Prince for Inspector West, 1956; also published as Death of an Assassin, 1960
  • Parcels for Inspector West, 1956; also published as Death of a Postman, 1957
  • Accident for Inspector West, 1957; also published as Hit and Run, 1959
  • Find Inspector West, 1957; also published as Trouble at Saxby's, 1959, and Doorway to Death, 1961
  • Murder London-New York, 1958
  • Strike for Death, 1958; also published as The Killing Strike, 1961
  • The Case of the Innocent Victims, 1959
  • Death of a Racehorse, 1959
  • Murder on the Line, 1960
  • Death in Cold Print, 1961
  • Policeman's Dread, 1961
  • The Scene of the Crime, 1961
  • Hang the Little Man, 1963
  • Look Three Ways to Murder, 1964
  • Murder London-Australia, 1965
  • Murder London-South Africa, 1966
  • The Executioners, 1967
  • So Young to Burn, 1968
  • Murder London-Miami, 1969
  • Part for a Policeman, 1970
  • Alibi, 1971
  • A Splinter of Glass, 1972
  • Theft of the Magna Carta, 1973
  • The Extortioners, 1975
  • A Sharp Rise in Crime, 1978