Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

OVERLOOKED FILM: THE FLAPPER (1920)

Silent film start Olive Thomas had a life that could fill a supermarket tabloid.  Born outside of Pittsburgh in 1894, she had a rough childhood and married Bernard Krug Thomas when she was sixteen, only to divorce a few years later.  Following her divorce she moved to New York and worked in a department store.  In 1914, Olive entered a contest for "The Most Beautiful Girl in New York City" and won, which eventually led to her being on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.  This attracted the attention of Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., who signed her up for his Midnight Follies at New York's New Amsterdam Theater -- a more adult, male audience version of his famous review.  Olive would appear nude wearing only balloons, which the mennin the audience would pop with their cigar.  Olive also became Ziegfeld's mistress.  Olive somehow (details are sketchy) made it Hollywood where she signed a film contract with the International Film Company as a leading lady.  She appeared only in two films and only in minor roles for the company before she moved to Triangle Pictures and, in 1917, began a string of popular light comedies in teenage roles which soon caused her to be marketed as a "baby vamp.".  Earlier, in 1916, she met Jack Pickford, brother of Mary, and began a passionate and stormy affair.  Mary and Jack said they were married in 1916 but did not announce the marriage until 1917; court records show they were actually married in 1918.  In 1918, Olive signed with Selznick Pictures, which began transitioning her image to a flapper.  Olive was the first person to play a flapper in The Flapper, the first of three successful films in 1920.  By this time Olive's marriage was in trouble.  At the same time she and Jack had petitioned to adopt Olive's nephew.  Olive desperately wanted children so she and Jack went to Paris on a "second honeymoon" to try to repair the marriage.  In Paris, after an epic night of drinking and partying, the couple returned to their hotel at 3:00 in the morning.  Olive headed to bed while Jack stayed up to write a letter.  Olive mixed what she thought was a sleeping powder and accidentally used powdered mercury bichloride (a common bathroom cleaner at that time).  She was rushed to the hospital, blinded, with burned vocal chords, and in agony, where she died the next day.  Olive Thomas was 25.

Olive's death spawned many rumors.  It was the first scandal involving the death of a major female star.  Did she kill herself?  Was she poisoned by a crazed American captain?  Did Jack Pickford kill her?  The French police investigated and concluded that live's death was accidental.  Jack was distraught and threatened suicide.  He later married twice (both times to Ziegfeld girls) and each reported that, while in a drunken stupor, he would call out, "Olive,"  His life and his acting career wen downhill, marked by bouts of syphilis and drinking.  He died of "progressive multiple neuritis" (alcoholism) in 1933 at age 36.

In The Flapper, Olive plays Genevieve "Ginger" King, a small-town Florida girl who yearns for something more.  Ginger is sent to a New York all-girls boarding school situated nicely net to a military academy where her somewhat boring Florida then attends.  At boarding school, Ginger meets a number of girls (including an uncredited Norma Shearer) and they romantically fantasize about men.  One man they fantasize about is William Carleton (William Forbes) who often rides a horse by their school.  The girls picture him as a gambler, or an actor, or perhaps (gasp!) a wife-beater.  Soon Ginger feels she is falling in love with this mysterious man.  She dons an outfit to resemble a "flapper"and is mistaken for a "bad girl."  Carleton is not a gambler, actor, or wife-beater -- he is, however, a jewel thief and he entrusts a package of gems to Ginger's care.  On a visit home, Ginger puts on the jewels and appears as a vamp.  And then the bad guys show up and fantasizing turns out to be not much fun at all.

The film was written by Frances Marion, the most successful female screenwriter of her day.  At that time Marion was writing scripts for Mary Pickford.  It is not known why the picture starred Pickford's sister-in-law instead of her.

Alan Crosland (The Jazz Singer, The Case of the Howling Dog, The Great Impersonation) directed.

Enjoy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4N7kxtjaf4

Monday, May 25, 2020

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: JOHNNY

The Chad Mitchell Trio.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQkphdGI-J8

BITS & PIECES

Openers:  8:45 PM.  Clancy was watching the poker game in the squad room from a vantage point back of the players.  In the one week since he had been transferred to the 52nd Precinct, he had not been able to win close friendship with the oldtimers there.  He was watching silently, not joining in the friendly banter that went around the table, feeling left out, when the sergeant called to him.  He unhooked his heel from the chair rung he had been using for a support, and walked out to the desk.
     "Yes, Sergeant?"
     "A subway jumper over at the 86 IRT, Lieutenant."

--  "Robert L. Pike" (Robert L. Fish)  "Clancy and the Subway Jumper" (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, December 1961)

Robert L. Fish (1912-1981) published forty books in his lifetime, all but five were in the mystery genre.  Seven of his books were published in the "Robert L. Pike" pseudonym.  He also used the pseudonym "A. C. Lamprey" for several humor pieces.  His Lieutenant Clancy series of police procedurals began with "Clancy and the Subway Jumper," followed by three additional stories in EQMM before he began a series of three novels about the character.  The first Clancy novel, Mute Witness, was made into the Steve McQueen movie Bullett.  All of the Clancy stories and books appeared under the Pike name.

When John Ball reprinted "Clancy and the Subway Jumper" as the first tale in his 1978 anthology Cop Cade, he did it under the author's real name.  In his introduction to the story Ball wrote:

"As an author Mr. Fish does swimmingly well.  The Mysterious Press has just collected his stories about smuggler Kek Huuygens in hard covers.  His Sherlock Holmes parodies (Schlock Homes of
221B Bagel Street) make up an additional two volumes.  He complete The Assassination Bureau, which was left unfinished by Jack London.  Fluent in Portuguese, he used his extensive knowledge of Brazil in creating Captain Jose de Silva, perhaps the most popular of South American detectives in the literature.

"Lt. Clancy, by the way, stars in the book Mute Witness which won the prestigious Edgar Award.  By the time that the Hollywood screen writers had finished with it, it emerged as the movie Bullett."  (O, burn!)

Any book by Fish or Pike is worth your time.


,

MWA Anthologies:  The John Ball-edited Cop Cade was the 18th in an annual (well, almost annual) series of anthologies by the Mystery Writers of America.

The Mystery Writers of America was formed in 1945.  In order to help fund the nascent organization. it began a series of anthologies in 1946.  Each entry was edited by a best-selling author and showcased work by MWA members.  Although mainly a reprint series, the books could also feature original stories of merit.  Most books in the series were themed-oriented.  From the beginning:

  • Murder Cavalcade, edited anonymously by Kendell Foster Crossen, 1946
  • Murder by Experts, edited by "Ellery Queen" (Frederick Dannay & Manfred B. Lee -- mainly by Dannay, I suspect), 1947 [the series then skipped two years]
  • Four and Twenty Bloodhounds, edited by "Anthony Boucher" (William Anthony Parker White), 1950
  • 20 Great Tales of Murder (a.k.a. Murder, Murder, Murder), edited by Helen McCloy and "Brett Halliday" (Davis Dresser), 1951
  • Maiden Murders, editor not certain; John Dickson Carr wrote the introduction and has been listed by some as the editor of this volume, 1952
  • Crooks Tour, edited by Bruno Fischer, 1953
  • Butcher, Baker, Murder-maker, edited by George Harmon Coxe, 1954 
  • Crime for Two, edited by Frances and Richard Lockridge, 1955
  • Eat, Drink, and Be Buried, edited by Rex Stout, 1956
  • For Love or Money, edited by Dorothy Gardiner, 1957
  • Dolls Are Murder, edited by Harold Q. Masur, 1957
  • A Choice of Murders, edited by Dorothy Salisbury Davis, 1958 *
  • Big-Time Mysteries, edited by Brett Halliday" (David Dresser). 1958
  • The Lethal Sex, edited by John D. MacDonald, 1959 *
  • The Comfortable Coffin, edited by Richard S. Prather, 1960
  • Tales for a Rainy Night, edited by David Alexander, 1961
  • Cream of the Crime, edited by "Hugh Pentecost" (Judson Philips), 1962
  • Quality of Murder:  100 Years of True Crime, edited by "Anthony Boucher" (William Anthony Parker White). 1962
  • A Pride of Felons, edited by The Gordons (Gordon and Mildred Gordon). 1963
  • Crimes Across the Sea, edited by John Creasey, 1964
  • Masters of Mayhem, edited by Edward D. Radin, 1965
  • Sleuth and Consequences, edited by Thomas B. Dewey, 1966
  • Murder in Mind, edited by Lawrence Treat, 1967
  • With Malice Toward All, edited by Robert L. Fish. 1968
  • Merchants of Menace, edited by Hillary Waugh, 1969 *
  • Crime Without Murder, edited by Dorothy Salisbury Davis, 1970
  • Murder Most Foul, edited by Harold Q. Masur, 1971 *
  • Dear, Dead Days, edited by Edward D. Hoch, 1972
  • Mirror, Mirror, Fatal Mirror, edited by Hans Stefan Santesson, 1973
  • Killers of the Mind, edited by Lucy Freeman, 1974
  • Every Crime in the Book, edited by Robert L. Fish, 1975
  • Tricks & Treats, edited by Joe Gores & Bill Pronzini, 1976 *
  • When Last Seen, edited by Arthur Maling, 1977
  • I, Witness, edited by Brian Garfield, 1978
  • Cop Cade, edited by John Ball, 1978
  • Women's Wiles, edited by Michelle Slung & Gene Stone, 1979 *
  • The Edgar Winners, edited  by Bill Pronzini, 1980
  • All But Impossible!  Impossible Crimes, edited by Edward D. Hoch, 1981
  • A Special Kind of Crime, edited by Lawrence Treat, 1982
  • EQ Presents Best Short Stories, edited by "Ellery Queen" (Frederick Dannay solely; Manfred B. Lee died in 1971), 1983
  • Mystery Hall of Fame, edited by Bill Pronzini, Martin H. Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh, 1984
  • The Crime of My Life, edited by Brian Garfield, 1984 * [the series then skipped a year]
  • Last Laughs, edited by Gregory McDonald, 1986
  • Murder on the Aisle, edited by Mary Higgins Clark, 1987
  • Murder California Style SoCal Chapter, edited by Jon L. Breen, 1987
  • Distant Danger, edited by Janwillem Van Der Wetering, 1988
  • Beastly Tales, edited by Sara Paretsky, 1989
  • Plots and Pans:  Recipes and Antidotes, edited by Nancy Jean Webb, 1989
  • The New Edgar Winners, edited by Martin H. Greenberg, 1990 [the series then skipped a year]
  • Mystery Writers America, edited by Sara Paretsky, 1992
  • The Fine Art of Murder, edited by Ed Gorman, Martin H. Greenberg, & Jon L. Breen, 1993
  • Guilty as Charged, edited by Scott Turow, 1994 [the series then skipped five years]
  • Diagnosis Dead, edited by Jonathan Kellerman, 1999
  • The Night Awakens, edited by Mary Higgins Clark, 2000
  • Masters' Choice, edited by Lawrence Block, 2001
  • Blood on Their Hands, edited by Lawrence Block, 2002
  • A Hot and Sultry Night for Crime, edited by Jeffrey Deaver, 2003 *
  • Show Business Is Murder, edited by Stuart Kaminsky, 2004 [the series then skipped a year]
  • Death Do Us Part, edited by Harlan Coben, 2006
  • The Blue Religion, edited by Michael Connelly, 2008
  • The Prosecution Rests, edited by Linda Fairstein, 2009
  • In the Shadow of the Master, edited by Michael Connelly. 2009
  • On a Raven's Wing, edited by Stuart Kaminsky, 2009
  • Crimes by Moonlight, edited by Charlaine Harris, 2010
  • The Rich and the Dead, edited by Nelson Demille, 2011
  • Vengeance, edited by Lee Child, 2012
  • The Mystery Box, edited by Brad Meltzer, 2013
  • Ice Cold, edited by Jeffrey Deaver & Raymond Benson, 2013 [the series then skipped a year]
  • Manhattan Mayhem, edited by Mary Higgins Clark, 2015 [the series then skipped three years]
  • Scream and Scream Again, edited by R.L. Stine, 2018
  • Odd Partners, edited by Ann Perry, 2019
  • Life Is Short & Then You Die, edited by Kelley Armstrong, 2019
  • Deadly Anniversaries, edited by Marcia Muller & Bill Pronzini, 2020
* reprinted  beginning in 2017 by MWA as part of the organization's MWA Presents: Classics series of on-going reprints

To date, MWA has released 73 anthologies over a period of 74 years, with enough reading enjoyment to suit every taste.

Speaking of taste, MWA also released The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White in 2015.





Memorial Day:  Today is a federal holiday designated for honoring and mourning military personnel who died while served in the country's armed forces.  We were lucky in my family.  We did not lose anyone, although my namesake and friend of my parents, Harold  "Jerry" Speed was killed at Guadalcanal.  Kitty's family also never lost anyone to war.  We both had friends who died in Vietnam.

As a child of the Sixties, I believe that war can be a necessary evil. And I believe in a strong defense.  I do not believe in war as political posturing; too many good people are lost that way.  I follow Eisenhower's dictum of the dangers of the military-industrial complex.  I support the men and women who are protecting our country and believe more should be done for them.  Serving in the armed forces is an honorable profession and should be treated as such.  I believe honoring our military personnel can often be best served by questioning our political leaders.

Memorial Day is also a day to celebrate our freedom.  It's a day for family and friends to come together in appreciation.  It's a day for backyard barbeques and parades.  It's also a day to remember and celebrate family and friends whom we have lost.  When I was a kid, my parents would fill up the trunk of our car with potted geraniums and we would go to various cemeteries in our town and the next to place the flowers on graves of those who had died.  My family was large so this exercise would take up most of the morning.  A lot of those we honored we people I did not know; some dated back to before the Civil War.  (My great-grandmother was still alive at the time and she was born just a few years after the Civil War.)  Yet each of these people were remembered and honored for their part in making our family.  I miss those days.  The tradition slowly faded with my parents and I doubt I could find many of those graves again.

Today I think of all those people -- those who died protecting our country, those who died in meaningless wars, and those who did not serve but whose lives became part of the fabric of our country without whom we would not exist.

I think of them and I am humbled.





Other Observances:  Today is also National Brown-Bag-it Day, National Hamburger Day, National Wine Day, and National Towel Day.  On a more sober note, today is also Missing Children's Day, African Liberation Day, and Prayer for Peace Day.  Today is also part of these week-long and weekend observances:  Mudbug Madness Days, National African Violet Week, National Backyard Games Week, Old Time Player Piano Weekend, Older Americans Mental Health Week, and the Week of Solidarity with People of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  This weekend was also supposed to have the Scripps National Spelling Bee but Covid-19 came along (Damn!).

Whatever interests you, may you celebrate responsibly.





A Humble Proposal for a New Franchise:  499 years ago, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V issued the Edict of Worms, declaring Martin Luther an outlaw.  So here's the pitch.  Luther's now an outlaw, right?  Well so was Robin Hood.  Why not do a mash-up with Luther as a Robin Hood type character?  So Luther runs off to hide in Wittenburg Forest (Does Wittenberg have a forest?  We should check, but it doesn't really matter.  If we say there was a forest then, who's to argue?) where he slowly gathers a band of Merry Men (or, perhaps, Morose Men).  Anyway, there's all these German guys, drinking and hiding and goose-stepping through Wittenburg Forest when Luther decides to put them to better use.  He teaches them archery so they can shoot arrows with one of the Ninety-Five Theses into the doors of various churches, cathedrals, taverns, and houses of ill repute.  It's these last two locations that begun to drum up support for Luther and his gang.  The Church, of course, is pissed, so they send Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General, to capture Luther.  (Okay, so he was actually a Protestant who lived in England nearly a century after Luther did, but I don't think anyone will notice, do you?)  Anyway, let's give Hopkins a personal reason to also go after Luther.  Let's say that Luther stole Hopkins' only love from him, the lovely singing/dancing tavern maid Griselda.  (I picture Griselda in a very low-cut peasant blouse that displays some of her greatest assets.)  Griselda uses her job at the tavern to spy on Hopkins and his men, then running to Wittenburg Forest to inform Luther; she invariably stays there for a late night party and carousing.  I picture Luther being a laughing, agile, devil may care guy who is an expert lute player (Lute.  Luther.  get it?)  Anyway, he serenades Griselda who gets all goo-goo eyed but nothing really happens on-screen, because we're really aiming at the kiddie market.  All of this is a natural set-up for a weekly series, or perhaps a limited series (if so, we can sex it up a bit).  There's a lot of marketing potential here also.  Maybe you can divide things into Camp Luther and Camp Hopkins, selling theses to one and indulgences to the other.  And there's the action toys, coloring books, board games, lunch boxes, and the Little Luther archery sets -- we could clean up!

What do you think?  Let me know soon as, because there are a lot of other studios expressing heavy interest.




Randy Rainbow Strikes Again:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d02A9nmJxcM







Florida Man/Florida Woman:

  • A 79-year-old unnamed Florida woman crashed her Dodge minivan into a Publix liquor store in Dade City, injuring two people.  To accomplish this she "left her parking area and traveled about 37 feet from a stop sign, then jumped a curb and continued another 24 feet before striking the building.  The Dodge came to rest about 28 feet inside the liquor store."  Nothing gets between Florida Woman and her alcohol.
  • 19-year-old Florida woman Lillian Patterson, of Marion County, has been charged with manslaughter after claiming her 19-year-old victim "fell" onto a knife.  Pattison said that both she and a small child were holding knives and that Petterson fell on the knife the child held.  It didn't help Patterson when  she kept changing her story.  Actually, I don't think anything could have helped her.
  • Florida Man Ron DeSantis, claiming to be the state's governor, opened up the state even though Covid cases are up 54% in the past week.  One Panhandle resident (not me) wrote, "As a Panhandle Floridian who has had cases drop even with the state opening, I would appreciate if you South Floridians would stop sharing coke straws, and you Central Floridians would stop sharing your heroin syringes.  We are doing our best up here in the panhandle by using single use meth pipes thank you very much!"
  • Florida Man calls 911 because an alligator wouldn't play with him.  Video here:     https://streamable.com/vxh4mr
  • Four Florida Men engaged in a paint fight in a Tampa Home Depot parking lot; one was swinging a shovel.  It is not known what the spark was that set off the paint fight.  Apparantly all four were co-workers.  Following a strict Florida Man Code of Honor, none of the men pressed charges against the others.
  • Florida Man Kiaron Thomas, 21, of Lakeland, was recently arrested.  His dastardly crime?  Eating pancakes in the middle of a road.  No, No, Kiaron, IHOP is over there!




Some Good News:




Today's Poem:
In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard among the guns below.

We are the Dead.  Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be it yours to hold up high.
If you break faith with us who die
we  shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

-- John McCrae

Sunday, May 24, 2020

THE SAD SACK (1957)

It was World War II when Sgt. George Baker created The Sad Sack, an unnamed inept Army private who invariably experienced the follies of military life.  The Sad Sack first appeared in Yank, The Army Weekly #1 in June 1942.  Two collections of the popular comic strip were published by Simon and Schuster (1944 and 1946); the first collection also appeared as an Armed Services paperback.  After the war, Baker took the hapless soldier into newspaper syndication from 1946 to 1958, when he sold the rights to Harvey Comics, which in turn published 268 issues of the comic, plus a one-shot issue in which The Sad Sack goes home, as well as eleven spin-off series which brought the number of Sad Sack comics to about 600 issues through 1982.

Private Sad Sack also hit the radio, voiced by Mel Blanc, in various episodes of G.I. Journal, beginning in 1944.  The Sad Sack also ran as a summer replacement program for The Frank Sinatra Show in 1946; this time the character was voiced by Herb Vigran.  Jerry Lewis took the character to the wide screen in 1957. this time giving him the name of Meredith C. Bixby.  The film also starred Phyllis Kirk, David Wayne, Peter Lorre, and and Joe Mantell.

Here's Mel Blanc as The Sad Sack from the April 29, 1944 episode of G.I. Journal.


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

HYMN TIME

The Statler Brothers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY1pEAY4LY0

Saturday, May 23, 2020

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: POETRY MAN

Phoebe Snow.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OxTVxGhHFM

MOON MULLINS #1 (DECEMBER 1947-JANUARY 1948)

Moon Mullins graced the comics pages of American newspapers for 67 year, from 1923-1991.  Created by Frank Willard, Moon (short for "Moonshine") Mullins was a wannabe prize fighter who took a room at the Schmaltz (later Plushbottom) boarding house, a place filled with quirky working (or more often, non-working) class people.  One of the most popular characters in the strip was Moon's kid brother Kayo, a pint-sized wisecracker who sleeps in an open dresser drawer.  Moon's disreputable Uncle Willie and tough-minded Aunt Millie also joined the cast in the late 1920s; Willie's favorite pastime was avoiding work, while Millie was a hard-working drudge who had a soft spot for her husband.  The boarding house was run by Emmy Schmaltz (later Lady Plushbottom), who liked to put on airs.  Moon's sometime girlfriend was a flapper called Egypt.  Kayo also got a girlfriend, Kitty Higgins, a little girl who first appeared in a "topper" strip and eventually moved to the main feature.

Moon Mullins at its height ran in 350 newspapers.  Reprints of the strip appeared in books by cupples & Leon, Big Little Books, Dell Comics, and American Comics Group.  Later collections appeared from Dover Books. SPEC Productions, and several books covering the history of the comic strip.  The issue linked below is the first published by American Comics Group.  Also included in the issue brief pieces featuring Gil Turner's Trudy ( a gorgeous high school cutie), Al Hartley's Chickie (another high school sweetie, but a brunette this time), and Al Hartley's Dannie Dumm (his name says it all).

Enjoy.

https://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=54443