Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


Is this the worst film of D. W. Griffith's career?  If not, it certainly is a close runner-up. 

A South Seas tale filmed in Florida, The Idol Dancer is an overblown, moralistic, racist piece of dribble.

Dan McGuire (Richard Barthelmess) is a washed-up, drunken beachcomber attracted to Mary (Clarine Seymour), the mixed race "Idol Dancer" of the title.  Mary is known by the natives as "white Almond Flower."  Along comes Walter Kincaid (Creighton Hale), the uptight nephew of the local missionary.  Mary's wild dancing excites Walter and he and Dan vie for this uninhibited woman.

Also appearing is Pansy (Florence Short), a native who takes to Christian dress and ideas, then quickly sheds them.  Pansy's brief dance number is one of the high points of the film.

The main story seems to be about missionaries trying to put pants on natives.  Interspersed with all the above is a racist soap opera involving various people of various races.  Unlike Griffith's BIRTH OF A NATION, this flick had nothing worthwhile to balance out the blatant racism.

The scenery is nice, though.

The film is at the link below for the curious.

Monday, February 11, 2019


Riders in the Sky.


Openers:  The year was 1958; the planet Mars was approaching its closest position to Earth, and the two friends completed their plans for the most daring adventure ever known to humanity.  All the world had said they were lunatics to attempt it, but that had not in the least deterred them.  Confident of success, they were determined to make the effort.  The one was rich enough to make this venture possible, and the other was the outstanding genius of his time.

-- "Bat-Men of Mars" by Wood Jackson, from Air Wonder Stories, May 1930 (Part One); Wonder Stories, June 1930 (Part Two), and July 1930 (Part Three)

Incoming:   Two books this time:

  • James Lee Burke, Jesus Out to Sea (2007), collection of eleven stories
  • "G. G. Fickling" (Forrest and Gloria Fickling), Kiss for a Killer (1960), the sixth novel in the Honey West P.I. series.  She only lasted for one season (thirty episodes) on television, but Anne Francis will always be my Honey West.

Good Gravy, I'm Getting Old:  Here are some of the Grammy winners and nominees whose names I recognize:
  • Cardi B.
  • Brandi Carlile
  • Drake
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Beck
  • Ariana Grande
  • Lady Gaga
  • Kelley Clarkson
  • Pink
  • Taylor Swift
  • Alice in Chains
  • Weezer
  • John Prine
  • Lee Ann Womack
  • Christina Aguilera
  • Demi Lovato
  • Tony Bennett
  • Diana Krall
  • Maroon 5
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Willie Nelson
  • Seal
  • Barbra Streisand
  • Bjork
  • David Byrne
  • Toni Braxton
  • Loretta Lynn
  • Keith Urban
  • Buddy Guy
  • Maria Muldaur
Of these, there are less than ten performers whose songs I have heard -- none of which are songs for which they were nominated.  You can guess who they are.   The rest I know from tabloid stories and headlines or from occasional references from television.  Ask me to name a song they have done and I'd be stuck.

Here are some of the winners and noms I had no idea existed:
  • H.E.R.
  • Post Malone
  • Janelle Monae
  • Kasey Musgraves
  • Bad Bunny & J Balvin
  • SZA
  • 21 Savage
  • Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey
  • Ella Mai
  • Shawn Mendes
  • Cloe x Halle
  • Luke Coombs
  • Greta Van Fleet
  • Dua Lipa
  • Margo Price
  • Bebe Rexha
  • Jorja Smith
  • Camila Cabello
  • Above & Beyond (featuring Richard Bedford)
  • Disclosure (featuring Fatoumata Diawawa)
  • Fisher
  • Virtual Self
  • Twenty One Pilots
  • St. Vioncent
  • Ghost
  • Sofi Tukker
  • Bring Me the Horizon
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • THE FEVER 333
  • Halestorm
  • ...and the list goes on and on...
It's official.  I'm old.  Time has past me by and that happening guy I was in the past is no longer relevant.

I can live with that.

Chickens:  I like them.  I like them fried and broiled.  I like the concept of having chickens as (outdoor, not indoor) pets.  I like chickens, especially when they come home to roost.  And they appear to be roosting in the White house, Trump Tower, Mar-a-Lago, and various other places including the late, unlamented imaginary campus of Trump University.

Yup.  I like chickens.

History:  Today is the anniversary of Henry VII being recognized as the supreme head of the Church of England.   Several of his wives were also recognized as heads.  Wait.  There are bodies too, about fifteen feet away...

Many years earlier on this date, Tiberius, heir to the Roman empire, died [cue foreboding music] mysteriously, paving the way for Nero to become Emperor.  It took over eighteen more centuries for Archie to appear by his side.

And even much earlier, at least according to tradition, Japan was founded by Emperor Jimmu.  History has not recorded who losted it in the first place.

And on February 11, 1938, the first science fiction television program was aired on the BBC -- an adaption of Karel Capek's R.U.R., the 1920 play that gave us the word "robot."

Florida Man Turns Ugly:  2019 may be known as the year that Florida Man transitioned from just plain stupid to disgustingly evil.  Garrick Bloom, 37, is actually Pennsylvania Man, but he hidiug out in Florida when he was caught so we reluctantly have to claim him.  This piece of pond scum was with 865 charges relating to child rape (the victim was five-years-old when the assaults began).

Christopher Hartley, 33, of Boynton Beach, was arrested after an 11-month-old baby overdosed on Hartley's stash.

Shelby John Nealy, 25, killed his wife in January 2018 and them spent a year pretending to be her on text messages to her parents.  On December 15, he killed his in-laws and his wife's brother, along with the family's three dogs, with a hammer at their home in Tarpon Springs.  Six days after the murders, Nealy ordered pizza to be delivered to his in-laws home.  The three bodies were not discovered until New Year's Day.  Later captured in Ohio, Nealy helped Florida authorities find the body of his wife buried in Pasco County.

And let us not forget Florida Woman,  Penny Pospisil, 47, killed her husband back in August in an RV park in in Sumter County.  After cutting up the body, she moved to another RV park, this time in Brevard County, taking her dismembered husband with her.  She lived in the trailer with her now-dislocated husband for several months.  Evidently Penny did not count on her neighbors being bothered by the overwhelming stench of a decomposing body.  They called the police who discover the body parts on December 30.  The sordid story was reported in January.

Move over, Virginia.  Florida secretary of state Michael Ertel had his job for only three weeks before he resigned after photos of him were released showing him in blackface, mocking survivors of Hurricane Katrina.  Florida state representative Anthony Sabatini, however, refused to resign after photos of him in blackface appeared.

I weep for the Florida Man that was and hope that Evil Florida Man's reign is short.

Today's Poem:

A little man walked up and down,
He found an eating place in town,
He read the menu through and through,
To see what fifteen cents could do.

One meatball, one meatball,
He could afford but one meatball.

He told the waiter near at hand,
The simple dinner he had planned.
The guests were startled, one and all,
To hear that waiter loudly call,

"One meatball, one meatball?
Hey, this here gent wants one meatball."

The little man felt ill at ease,
Said, "Some bread, sir, if you please."
The waiter hollered down the hall,
"You gets no bread with one meatball.

"One meatball, one meat ball,
You gets no bread with one meatball."

The little man felt very bad,
One meatball was all he had,
And in his dreams he hears that call,
"You gets no bread with one meatball.

"One meatball,
Well, you gets no bread with one meatball."

-- Hy Zaret & Louis C. Singer

(posted in honor of Josh White's 105th birthday)

Sunday, February 10, 2019


Lists like this can elicit many disagreements.  Often they skewed by the list-maker's age or personal philosophy. 

Here's a list that may keep you arguing for hours.


Hnk Williams.

Saturday, February 9, 2019


The incomparable Shirley Bassey.


Fawcett Publications thought it would be a good idea to have a spin-off from their Hopalong Cassidy comic books so the gave the man behind the Cassidy persona his own title.  Bill Boyd Western lasted for nearly two years (23 monthly issues) compared to the sixteen year run that Hopalong Cassidy had.  The relatively short run may be due to the comic calling calling Boyd "Bill" instead of "William," or it may be due to the fact that kids were more interested in Hoppy than in Boyd..

The comic book took Boyd out of his usual black Hopalong Cassidy outfit and -- to be sure there ws no confusion with Hoppy -- gave him a black horse named Midnight instead of Hoppy's white Topper.  The comic book also placed Bill Boyd in the Old West, giving him all the fine moral traits that the film and television Hoppy had.  Boyd as a comic book character speaks perfect unaccented English, unlike every other character -- good or bad -- in this first issue.

Bill Boyd Western #1 contains one long story, "The Bullion Bandits."  The rest of the issue is filled with gag comics featuring such characters as Brainy Buster, Hammerhead Hank, and Windy Whopper.

"Out of the West he came -- his skin tanned, his body sinewy and his shooting arm steady!  Bill Boyd, western hero, the very symbol of law and order!  But pitted against him, on the other side of the law are four of the deadliest killers in the whole West!

"When these two forces clash, the air is filled with an ominous cloud of death, kicked up by blazing six-shooters!"

Thus starts this action-filled adventure where Hoppy Bill takes on the bad guys.  And just so you don't forget they are the bad guys, their names are Sneaky, Greasy, Bullets, and Cactus.  The story ends with SPOILER ALERT! Bill victorious and riding off in to the sunset, saying, "I don't aim to settle down i one town yet.  I'll just ride along...I don't go looking for trouble, but if it ever comes my way, you'll always find me fighting on the side of law and order."

Enjoy this blast from the past that never was but really should have been.