Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, March 19, 2018


Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company.


Opening Lines:  I hardly knew when Jura Singh came into my life; he was so much a part of my early years that it seemed he was with us as far back as I can remember.  But I will never forget the day he went away -- for on that day all the old ways changed.  That day the peace and happiness of my childhood was suddenly ended, and something sinisterly evil came over me that was to transform my life into a ghastly nightmare.  That day, at the age of twelve, I became a woman -- a woman with unholy passions and a Circe-like force that beckoned irresistibly to the grave...  -- "Conrad Kimball" (Wayne Rogers), "Prey for the Daughter of Hell" (Terror Tales, May 1940)

[Terror Tales was a weird horror pulp magazine that ran from September 1934 to March 1941.  Although it was a very successful magazine of its type, its literary value can easily be questioned.]

I've Been Reading:  Planned reading for this week and the next went a bit by the wayside with a slew of books ordered from the local library.  I did read three travel books by Erle Stanley Gardner -- Gypsy Days on the Delta (Sacramento River Delta), and The Hidden Heart of Baja and Off the Beaten Track in Baja (both about Baja California).  I also read an oldie but goodie, Joseph Lewis French's 1920 anthology Best Psychic Stories.  Coming up is the latest Carpenter and Quincannon by Bill Pronzini (sans Marcia Muller), Dashiell Hammett's The Big Book of the Continental Op, Jeff Vandermeer's The Strange Bird, Carmen Maria Machado's collection Her Body and Other Parties.  Due soon (probably this week) are Mickey Spillane's The Last Stand and Joe R. Lansdale's Jackrabbit Smile.  I will squeeze in finishing Sarah Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes and Donald E. Westlake's The Comedy Is Finished.  a lot on my reading plate, it seems.

One Hundred Years Ago Today:  Congress established the U. S. time zones and approved daylight saving time.  Bill Crider would rail against the whole spring-forward-fall-back thing on his blog yearly.  Somebody in Florida finally listened:  the state voted to go on daylight saving time throughout year round.  I'm not sure if the bill has been signed yet.  [It should also note the Newfoundland has its own special time zone -- 30 minutes ahead of the Atlantic Time Zone and 90 minutes ahead of the Eastern Time Zone.  Newfies are their own special breed of cat.*)

Well, Duh:  Vladimir Putin has been reelected.  In a landslide.  In the meantime Russia reportedly (wink wink) has been offing people they don't like via radiation poisoning.  President KBG denies this (wink wink), positing that the poison was manufactured in England.  Here's a link to an article explaining why radioactive poisoning became the assassin's weapon of choice:

Happy Birthday, Edith:  When I was a kid, Edith Nourse Rogers (1881-1960) represented our district (the Massachusetts 5th) in the House of Representatives.  In a basically Republican district, she was revered not only by Republicans but by many Democrats.  This was back in the days when people were more important than party and bipartisan was not a dirty word.  Her husband, John Rogers, was elected to Congress in 1912 and was in his seventh term when he suddenly died.  Edith (as she was called in our household) ran for her husband's seat, won, and served eighteen consecutive terms.  She was the sixth woman in history to serve in Congress.  In 1958 she was considered as a formidable challenger to John F. Kennedy for Senate, but decided not to run.  She was extremely influential in veterans' affairs, opposed child labor, pushed for equal rights for women, fought for German Jewish refugees, wrote the bill that created the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps and co-wrote the bill that establish the WACs, she helped draft, then co-sponsored the G.I Bill,helped establish flood control in her home district, and was a fervent support of local manufacturers.  During World War II, the army was desperate for fighting men and would often ship recruits out to battle before they were trained -- basically making them cannon fodder.  Edith found out about this practice and put a stop to it.  She was an isolationist at heart but supported many of FDR's major foreign policy initiatives -- but only when she was convinced it was good for the country and the Administration was not "trying to put something across."  A 1943 confidential report for the British Foreign office stated, "She is regarded in Congress as a capable and hard-working woman.  A pleasant and kindly old battle-axe -- but a battle-axe."

Bezos-1, Iguana-0:  Jeff Bezos ate iguana this week, perhaps starting a new food trend.  Or perhaps not.

Good Doggie:  Bear with me about this item.  A Chinese man identified only by his surname Yang went mushroom hunting back in April 2015 and found a puppy which he took home and adopted as a pet.  The "puppy" turned out to be an Asian black bear, protected under Chinese law.  The man only realized that his pet was not a puppy only after it grew big, still he kept it as a pet until earlier this months when authorities discovered what was going on. 

Words to Remember from Marjory:  "Be a nuisance where it counts.  Do your part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action.  Be depressed, discouraged, and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption, and bad politics -- but never give up." -- Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Further Off the Deep End:  This morning president Trump is expected to reveal his plan to stop the opioid crisis.  He wants the death penalty for certain drug dealers.  Policy by sound bites strikes again.  Sheesh!

* All but the four-legged Newfies.  They're a special breed of dog..

Sunday, March 18, 2018


Mystery author and playwright Ngaio Marsh was 18 when she spent Christmas of 1913 in the bush near Canterbury, New Zealand.  Here she talks briefly about that holiday.


Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Grandson Jack had a sleepover at our house last night and, being a five-year-old, woke himself (and me) at 5:00 am.

When we went into the living room there was our St. Patrick's Day surprise.  A complete stranger passed out on our sofa.

The guy was in his twenties with a scraggly beard and lots tattoos.  His pants were on the living room floor, beside one of his shoes.  The other shoe was by the back door.  One picture over the television set had been knocked askew and the other knocked completely off the wall.  Our visitor had evidently had a little bit too much of the drink and had wandered in.  We must remember to lock the door.

Jack took a photo of him while he slept.  I wrote today's blog entries.  The stranger slept on.

He woke up about seven, looked around with a confused look on his face, and groaned.

I said, "Good morning.  I'm kind of wondering what you're doing here."  He didn't answer, but slowly gathered his pants and shoes.  It took him a while to get dressed; coordination didn't come easy this early in the morning, I guess.  Once dressed, he stumbled out of the house...into whatever world drunk interlopers come from.

Kitty was freaked when she found out (she slept late).  I had made sure that nothing -- money medications, whatever -- was missing when I first found him.  Nope, he was just a hapless (hopeless?) soul who had stumbled into our lives.

But, dammit, from now on, the door is going to be locked!


A St. Patrick's Day treat from Tommy Makem.  A personal favorite.


Today is St.Patrick's Day -- time to celebrate all things Irish.  In my warped mind, the first thing I think about on this day is Irish McCalla, Vargas model, pin-up girl, and -- most importantly -- the star of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle syndicated series from 1955-1956.  So, as my sideways salute to St. Patrick's Day and to the lovely Irish, I thought I would rave about Sheena in the comic books.

Sheena was created by Will Eisner and Jerry Iger in 1937 under the pseudonym "W. Morgan Thomas."  She first appeared in the British comic book Wags Comics #1; the following year she made her American debut in a five-page story in Jumbo Comics #1 (September 1938).  Her adventures in Jumbo Comics continued through March 1953 for a total of 167 appearances -- for most of those issues she was featured on the cover.  In 1942, Sheena appeared in her own title for an erratically paced 18 issues ending in 1952. (Two issues appeared in 1942; one in 1943; one in 1948; one in 1949; five in 1950; four in 1951; and four in 1952.)  Sheena was the first-ever female comic book character to have her own comic book title, preceding Wonder Woman by three months.  She also appeared in seven of the sixteen issues of Jungle Girls, which ran from 1988 to 1993.

Over the years, Sheena has appeared in several one-shot comics, including one in 3-D,  Since 2017, she has appeared in her own title from Dynamite Entertainment with a bit more bosom and a bit more skin.

In other media, Sheena has appeared in at least two pulp stories from Fiction House, in a 1984 film straaring Tanya Roberts (with a movie tie-in comic book from Marvel), in a 2000 television reboot starring Gena Lee Nolan (35 episodes), and in a number of uncredited Bollywood films beginning in 1983.  Another Sheena reboot is in development.  Sheena has also appeared in songs by The Ramones and by Bruce Springsteen.

Just who is Sheena?

Basically, she's a female Tarzan.  Her name was chosen as a tribute to H. Rider Haggard's novel She. The young blonde daughter of explorer Carwell Rivington is left orphaned during an African trak and is then raised by a native witch doctor in the ways of the jungle, eventually becoming the Queen of the Jungle. I don't now what her first name was, unless it was actually Sheena.  Sheena is strong, brave, and athletic.  Her only superhuman ability is being able to talk to animals.  Her weapons include spears, bows, knives, and a strong sense of survival.  In some later versions of Sheena, she has been transplanted from the African jungle to a South American one, and in the Gena Lee Nolan series she has be given the power to transform into animals.  She sometimes goes by the name Rachael Caldwell.  In Jumbo Comics #1 she meets white hunter Bob Reynolds (sometimes named Bob Reilly or Bob Rayburn, and in later incarnations, Rick Thorne), who becomes her mate.  Every jungle hero or heroine needs a monkey companion; hers is named Chim.

Here's Jungle Comics #1, also featuring Hawks of the Sea, Spencer Steel, ZX-5, Wilton of the West, Inspector Dayton, and many others:

And here's Sheena, Queen of the Jungle #1, which features six (count 'em, six) Sheena adventures, as well as a number of shorter features:

Even though these two issues well predate Irish McCalla's 26 episodes as Sheena, have a great St. Patrick's Day!