Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, December 14, 2018


Lekita Werts performs Hark, The Herald Sings a cappella.


The Simon Sisters -- Carly and Lucy -- from their 1964 debut album.  Carly went on to a widely successful solo career and Lucy became a noted Broadway composer.  Here's their take on a popular folk song.


The Red Spider by "Kenneth Robeson" (Lester Dent) (1938, or 1979 -- take your pick)

Pulp hero Clark "Doc'' Savage blazed his way through 191 issues of Street & Smith's Doc Savage Magazine, from March 1933 through the Summer 1949 issue (the title changed to just Doc Savage starting with the November 1937 issue and, during the last few years of publication the words Science Detective were added to the cover until...but more of that in a moment.  Since then many other Doc Savage adventures have been (and are being) published, most of which have been written by Will Murray.  The vast majority of the original Doc Savage stories were written by Lester Dent under the house pseudonym "Kenneth Robeson."  All the original magazine adventures were published in paperback by Bantam beginning in the 1960s.

One of Dent's Doc Savage novels, title "In Hell, Madonna" was never published in the magazine.  The story had been scheduled for the October-November 1948 issue but was killed by editor Daisy Bacon.  The magazine just skipped that issue and went to the Winter 1948 issue; by that time few people noticed the missing issue. The remaining two issues of the magazine (all with Doc Savage adventures by Dent) appeared in 1949 as quarterlies.

What happened?  World War II had ended and a new global threat began to emerge as the Cold War began.  Doc Savage and his crew were re-purposed for what were basically spy stories, with emphasis on global politics and propaganda.  Doc Savage became an international troubleshooter for the U.S. State Department.  After returning from maternity leave, Doc Savage Babette Rosmond soon resigned in early 1948 to pursue a free-lance career..  Taking over the reins from Rosmond was William J. de Grouchy, who stayed in the position for only a few months but, while he was there he commissioned Dent to write a Doc savage novel, working title "In Hell, Madonna."  De Grouchy hated the proposed title but, as far as I can tell, never settled on a better one.  Enter de Grouchy's replacement, Daisy Bacon, the respected editor of Street & Smith's Love Story and Detective Story magazines.  Bacon soon saw that sales of Doc Savage were dropping, and the magazine got many letters from readers complaining about the spy/Cold War motif of recent issues.  Readers demanded a return to the old Doc -- the fantastic hero of so many fantastic adventures.  That convinced Bacon:  no longer will "Doc Savage saving the world" be the thrust of his adventures.  So Daisy Bacon scuttled the poorly named "In Hell, Madonna," as well as the October-November issue.

The words "Science Detective" were dropped from the next issue's cover as the bronzed hero returned to his roots -- all in vain, however, Doc Savage (as noted above) only lasted for three issues after the missed issue that was to have "In Hell, Madonna."

Time past.  Dent died.  And in 1975 pulp author and historian Will Murray discovered hints of an unknown and unpublished manuscript while going through the files of Street & Smith.  a two-year search ended when Norma Dent, Lester's widow, came across a carbon copy of the novel among Dent's papers.  Two years later, the story -- renamed The Red Spider -- finally saw print as #95 in the Bantam Books Doc Savage reprint series.


A long journey, but worth it.  The Red Spider is considered one of Dent's best Doc Savage novels, a pared-down, fast-moving tale with plenty of action and humor that takes Doc and two of his assistants to Joseph Stalin's Russia.

The Red Spider is an unknown Soviet official hidden in the center of a web, holding the strings of all Stalin's secret plots, including a rumored plan to build an atomic bomb.  Doc's mission:  find this "spider," pump him with truth serum, get a recording of everything he knows, and escape safely with the recording to expose Russian plans to the world.  Easy peasy.  Not really.

Caught and faced with a firing squad, Doc Savage must use all his talents and resources to complete his mission.  Along the way, there is enough misdirection and trickery to worthy of Robert Redford's movie The Sting.

Dent clearly wanted to take Doc Savage into modern times but, because of editorial and publishing realities, was not able to.  It's a shame but still we are left with a wonderful, pulpish action hero, as well as with this novel, so I can't really complain.


Thursday, December 13, 2018


Johnny Cash sings O Little Town of Bethlehem.


Forty-six years ago astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt became the last people to set foot on the moon.  **sigh**

From 2010. here the the absolutely glorious Renee Fleming singing Antonin Dvorak's "Song to the Moon" from 1901's Rusalka -- and doing it absolutely gloriously!  Jiri Belohlavek conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Here is the English translation;

Moon, high and deep in the sky
Your light sees far
You travel around the wide world,
And see into people's homes.

Moon, stand still a while
And tell me where is my dear.

Tell him, silvery moon,
That I am embracing him.

For at least momentarily
let him recall the memory of

Illuminate him far away,
and tell him, tell him who is
waiting for him!

If his human soul is in fact
dreaming of me,
may the memory awaken him!

Moonlight, don't disappear,


The Adventures of Superman rode the radio airwaves from February 12, 1940 to March 1, 1951 for a total of 2088 episodes.  It began on New York City's WOR station and was first syndicated to only eleven stations, airing three times a week with fifteen-minute episodes.  As it gained popularity (and radio stations) the show moved to the Mutual Radio Network on August 31, 1942 and continued its thrice-weekly (sometimes five times a week), fifteen-minute format until February 7, 1949, when it began airing half-hour episodes three times a week until June 24 of that year.  On October 29, the shop moved to ABC Radio for a once a week airing, then expanded to two times a week From June 5, 1950 to the show's close.

The radio show was created by David Ducovny, a DC comics press agent, and pulp writer Robert Maxwell.  Frank chase produced the early episodes, which were written by George Ludlam.

The identity of the actor playing Superman was not announced until 1946. when it was revealed that Bud Collyer played the Kryptonian superhero (and his Clark Kent alter ego).

Linked below is episode 7, "Yellow Mask Steals Fuel for Atomic Beam," narrated by George Lowther.  Rolly Bester (wife of SF author Alfred Bester) plays Lois Lane, Julian Noa is Perry White (a character created for the radio show -- bet you never knew that!  And he was originally going to named "Paris White" -- another bet you didn't know that!).  (Jimmy Olsen [another character created for the radio show], played by Jack "Jackie" Kelk, did not make his debut until April 15 episode.)  Julian Noa also plays the evil Yellow Mask, who wants to used the atomic beam to destroy the Daily Planet building.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Somehow a driving percussion beat works in Sarah McLachlan's Angels We Have Heard on High.  enjoy.