Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, February 28, 2011


Frank Buckles, the last remaining veteran of World War I, has died at the age of 110.  Buckles was the real thing, a true American hero, a relic of the days when raw, scared kids went to battle and saw their world change into a nightmare of trenches and poison gas.  As their world changed, so did the world order.  Now that Frank Buckles is dead, that war, those soldiers have been religated to the history books solely and not to personal memory.

     My wife's grandfather used to tell us stories about World War I and the time he met Blackjack Pershing.  When I was young, there were still a number of Civil War veterans around.  My great-grandmother, who died when I was in high school, was born just two years after the Civil War ended.  One man whom I was close to when I was young used to talk about being paid fifty cents to ring the church bells in honor of William McKinley when he was assassinated.  And these people knew people who were alive during the Revolutionary War.

     I note the above not because I'm old --I'm really not very old -- but because there is not six degrees of separation with the past.  I knew someone who knew someone who lived in 1776; that's only two degrees.  Yet the lives, the lessons, the experiences, and the thoughts of the past fade before our very eyes, and as the past fades, so can our grip on the truth.  Politicians, pundits, and demigogues have already spread distorions, half-facts and down-right lies to such an extent that many people now believe them.  As horrifying as it is to consider, there are many people today who earnestly believe the Holocaust never happened.  Sure, old memories can be wrong, or misinformed, or just plain prejudiced, but the more we know about the past, the closer to the truth we get.

     So many people have been forgotten from Frank Buckles' war (although Frank served in  two wars: he was also a POW for three years during World War II, where he was instumental in keeping the morale up).  Lives that were important -- and should be still important -- are no longer memories.  That's a shame.  So Frank Buckles, and all your doughboy colleagues, here's a salute to you and all that you have done for us.  Some of us will remember and try to pass those memories on.


     Here's a song for the rest of us:


One final response to the Flash Fiction Challenge.  Forgive me for this one.  As I've noted below, a lot of very talented poeple have risen to the challege.  To read these go to Patti Abbott's blog Pattinase.  There's a lot great stuff on the Blogosphere today.

                                                                      THE ROMANIAN WITCH

Once upon a time there was a Romanian witch.

     At least, she claimed to be Romanian.

     She told people she was Romanian and that she had the power of foresight.

     Her name was actually Maisie Murphy and she was from South Boston.

     She put on a terrible middle-European accent over her real Irish-American one.

     She didn't have the power of foresight, or threesight, or twosight, or even onesight.

     She had no special powers at all.

     She claimed she could cast powerful spells.

     In reality, she was so dumb she could hardly spell.

     She claimed to be able to create potions that would make anybody fall in love with anyone.

     Truth to tell, the only real talent she had was that of disappearing after the check had cleared.

     So it happened that in Romania, where Madame Magda did not come from, there was a move to regulate witches.

     The Romanian government wanted their witches to treat people fairly.

     They wanted their witches to be honest witches.

     This gave all the witches in Romania a good laugh.

     Imagine that, an honest witch!

     Ha-ha! **snort, snort**

     Not only were the Romanian witches dishonest, but they were also stupid.

     They didn't know an opportunity when they saw one.

     Madame Magda may have been dumb, but she wasn't stupid.

     When opportunity knocked, she was right there, ready to open the door.

     Because she was **cough, cough** Romanian, she told her suckers clientele, that the laws of Romania
applied to her.

     (No matter that the law was only proposed, and not enacted.)

     Therefore it was ILLEGAL for her to be dishonest or to cheat her clients.

     What better guarantee could you wish for?

     The only ones dumber than a witch, it seems, are her clients.

     And so they flocked to Madame Magda, and because they believed in truth, justice, the American way, and the power of Romanian law, they thought she was wonderful and didn't see through her shabby tricks.

     It happened that one of the people who flocked to Madame Magda was "Big Mike" McFee.

     "Big Mike" was the toughest, meanest, nastiest man in Southie.

     It's said in Southie that when Whitey Bulger used to see "Big Mike" coming, Whitey would cross to the other side of the street.

     Now that's tough.

     "Big Mike" had an inordinate fondness for his son, "Little Mike".

     A box of rocks had more brains and personality than "Little Mike", but that didn't bother "Big Mike".

     "Big Mike" doted on his son.

     "Little Mike" doted on free-basing.

     One day, while "Little Mike" was free-basing, things went POOF!

     "Little Mike" ended up mightily scarred and "Big Mike" ended up mighty unhappy.

     But "Big Mike" heard of Madame Magda and of her great powers as a witch.

     He heard that she was Romanian and that, by law, she had to be honest.

     Now that was a gurantee "Big Mike" could take to the bank, assuming he could find one that he hadn't robbed.

     So "Big Mike" went to Madame Magda and laid out his problem.

     Madame Magda responded, "No problem.  Scars don't really bother me.  Money up front, please."

     Cash in hand, Madame Magda had to decide what scam spell would best fit the situation.

     It had to be a spell that "Big Mike" and "Little Mike" would think could work.

     She had a lot of spells to choose from and she wasn't sure which one to pick.

     Finally, she said to herself, "I guess Number 57 would be good enough for these jamooks."

     She guessed wrong because Number 57 was only suipposed to take five minutes to work.

     Anyway, she mumboed and jumboed and waved her hands around "Little Mike's" scarred face.

     "There," she said, the scars will be gone in five minuites."

     While "Big Mike" and "Little Mike" were waiting, Madame Magda slipped out the back door.

     Right into the arms of the two gunsels "Big Mike" had stationed there.

     So that's the end of the story and that's the end of Madame Magda.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY (told in a bad Romanian accent):  One should not take someone's car out without checking the gas.


Here's another response to Patti Abbott's recent Flash Fiction Challenge.  For more responses from much more talented people than I, go to Patti's blog Pattinase.

                                                                    I DON'T REALLY MIND

I don't mind the scars.  I really don't.

     Yes, it hurts at times and at times it itches like hell, but that's minor.  I can honestly say I don't mind them.

     For a while, after the accident, I have to admit it did bother me.  I mean, it was a shock when they took off the bandages.  You know that guy from Batman, Two-Face?  Well, the was me, except I was One-Face, or maybe Full-Face.  See?  I can laugh at it now.  That's because it all worked out for the best.  Honestly.

    Of course, Peter left.  I can't blame him.  I mean, it was to be expected.  But he didn't leave all of a sudden.  No, not Peter.  He hung around for a while, but all the time I could feel him drifting away.  Then he was gone.  Just as well.  Tracey had told me a couple of days before the accident that Peter was going to give me a ring, he was just working up his nerve.  He never got around to it before the accident.  And afterwards?  Well, why bother?  I'm pretty sure he returned the ring before he left me.  I never saw it.  I wouldn't want him to feel chained to me out of guilt.

     It took a while for me to get used to my new face and it took a while to get used to living with my new face.  Luckily, Mum and Daddy left me the house in the country.  Isolated.  No neighbors nearby.  No kids around to point and laugh, or to run away screaming.

     I'm lucky.  My needs are simple.  I do my work over the computer.  No human contact.  The supermarket delivers my order directly to my front porch.  I have a quiet, isolated life and that suits me just fine.  I see I've used the word "isolated" twice just now, but that's okay.  I like to call a spade a spade.  That's how I am.  I don't really need people and I guess they don't really need me.  Their loss, I say.

.     Anyway, I like the look of my face now.  It has character.  It has strength.  It gives me power.  Sometime, though, at night, I dream of the accident, of smashing through the windshied when the airbag failed to deploy, of being propelled through the air, of landing fortuitously, breaking a number of bones, but none of the important ones -- no broken neck or spine.  A slow recovery, but with the ability to walk.  When I have those dreams, I wake up sweat-filled and gasping for breath.  But the accident is in the past and I have gone beyond that.  It no longer bothers me.

     Anya, of course, got away with only a few bruises and a broken nose.  Her airbag worked.  So, despite her supremo alcohol level, she lucked out and wasn't impaled by the steering wheel.  I'm glad she's okay.  She never was as strong as me and wouldn't be able to go through all that I did.  She had just a short time healing, then she was as good, and as cute, as ever.

     Peter, of course, felt sorry for her.  He's that type of guy.  He cares.  He spent some of his time trying to comfort her and he comforted her right into bed.  I didn't mind.  By that time we were over; at least, I think we were.  It doesn't matter.  I learned that I was happier -- stronger -- being alone.  Anya could never be happy alone.  She's the type who needs someone to build her up, to tell her how pretty she is, to service her many demands in bed.  Well, different strokes, I guess.

     I called her -- Anya -- last night.  Told her I needed to see her.  Needed to tell her something about Peter, something important she needed to know.  Oh, she was relunctant, but I convinced her to come by, warning her not to let Peter or anyone else know.  I really don't think she likes to look me in the face.

     She didn't really get a chance to look at my face.  At first I was afraid I had killed her when I hit her.  She just collapsed, boom, as if she was a puppet whose strings were cut.  And she bled.  There was a lot of blood, but when I felt her pulse it seemed strong.

     She's screaming now, but only I can hear her.  She thrashes, but she can't get out of her bonds.

     I've uncapped the acid.  I'm ready.

    I don't mind my scars, really.  After a while, I'm sure, Anya won't mind hers.


 This is a flash fiction suggested by Patti Abbott in her most recent challenge.  Since no good deed goes unpunished, I incorporated Patti and her husband into the story.  For more (and far better) stories written for this challenge, see Patti's blog Pattinase for links.


She had stringy blonde hair with dark roots showing, a slightly pudgy face that had gone just a bit beyond the baby fat stage, and a walk that emphasized her ill-fitting shoes.  She carried a large handbag that swung with heavy weight as she walked.  Her companion was a thin, pock-marked lad with short purple hair and an excess of earrings.  She was saying to him, "I really don't mind the scars."  He laughed and said something in return, but Patti and Phil had by then walked beyond them and Patti couldn't catch any more of their conversation.

      "Phil, let's turn around."

     "Sure," Phil said.  'Why?"

     "That couple," Patti nodded in their direction.  "Did you hear what she said?  She was saying she didn't really mind the scars.  That's a curious thing to say.  I wonder what was behind that remark."

     Phil looked at his wife as they turned around.  "So, then.  Are you going to stop and ask her what she meant?"

     "No, no, that would be rude."  Patti did not like being thought of as rude.  "I just want to follow them for a while and watch what they do.  You know, just observe them"

    Phil smiled.  "Trying to get material for one of your stories?"

     "You can never tell,' she answered.

     The couple they were following walked with a purpose, their conversation intermittent.  Patti and Phil tried to keep about half a block behind.  "The blonde seems a bit nervous to me," Patti said.

     "Or, you're imagining it."

     "Perhaps they're going to meet someone.  Someone who's horribly scarred and she's afraid of how she'll react to the scars."

     "Or," Phil said, "perhaps you misheard, and they are on their way to buy a box of cigars as a birthday gift for her father.  Or, maybe..." Phil stopped as his wife gently elbowed him.

     "Shhh," she said.  "Don't spoil it by being prosaic."

     They had been following the young couple for five minuted when the blonde stopped suddenly.  This seemed to catch her companion off-guard because he walked on a few steps before stopping and turning to her.  They had stopped in front of a coffee shop.  The blonde was pointing at the shop window.

     She was reaching into her bag with her right hand as she oopened the coffee shop door with her left.

     Patti and Phil heard three reports.  Cough, cough, cough.

     The blonde came out of the coffee house, grabbed the man's arm, and began to quickly lead him away.  There was something dark and heavy in her other hand.  Screams began to sound from the coffee shop.

    "Oh my God!" Patti yelled.  She could feel the blood rushing from her face as Phil put his arms around her and held her.


     "And they never found her?"

     Patti took a sip of her tea.  'No.  It's been five months and we haven't heard a thing.'

     "And the dead girl?"

     "She died instantly.  She had a scar; evidently it was about three inches long on the side of her face.  At least that's what an officer told us.  She had gotten it a few years before.  Some sort of gang thing."

     "As far as we can tell, they never were able to connect the blonde girl with the girl she shot," Phil said.  "They seem to have no idea who the girl was.  All the police have is our description of what the blonde looked like and the one sentence Patti heard about her not not really minding the scars.  And that tells me one thing about her that I'm pretty sure about."

     "What's that?"

     "That she's a liar."  Phil answered.


I think my wife would be happy if they closed every thrift shop on the East Coast.  The only reason she doesn't complain is because she's a real trooper.

  • Nelson DeMille, editor.  The Best American Mystery Stories 2004.  Annual anthology with Otto Penszler as series editor.
  • Jonathon Gems.  Mars Attacks!.  Movie tie-in.
  • Leopoldo Gout.  Ghost Radio.  Horror.
  • Paul Levine.  Solomon vs. Lord.  Mystery, the first in the series.
  • Michael Marshall.  The Straw Men.  Thriller; the author is also known as Michael Marshall Smith.
  • Ashley McConnell.  Quantum Leap:  Too Close for Comfort.  TV tie-in.
  • Phil Rickman.  The Cure of Souls.  Mystery/horror.  The fourth in the Merrilyn Watkins series.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


A while ago, Patti Abbott posted her latest Flash Fiction Challenge:

          "On Saturday night, we passed a young woman on the street who was talking to her male
          companion and said, "I really don't mind the scars."  A good start-up line for a little challenge perhaps.

          "So how about a 800 or so word storythat contains that lkine in it with an end date of February 28?"

All well and good, I thought; if i have some time, I'll do it.  Then came the crud and I wasn't about to do anything.  This Friday seemed like a good time to do something.  The wind was blowing so hard, we were not about to go anywhere.  So, just as I was about to sit down at the computer, the bride said, we have company coming for the weekend so you have to paint the bathroom.  Who can argue with logic like that?

     So Saturday came and so did the company, although no one oohed and aahed over the newly painted bathroom.  But we ate and talked and ate and talked, and another day went by.

     Come today, everybody headed over to my daughter's house to work on their Quilt of Valor (something I blogged about previously).  We also had to celebrate Wynter's 16th birthday and Dawn's passing some test so she could add more intials behind her name.  (Wynter is the daughter of a good friend; Dawn is my neice who can do anything, and does.)  So we ate and celebrated and those who could quilted.   Home-made beef stew, two types of chili, red velvet cookies with butter creme icing, and an Oreo cookie ice cream cake.  Good times.

     I brought along my notebook so I could maybe write a flash fiction while people were quilting.  I ended up writing three stories, which I will post.  These are all hasty, spur-of-the-moment stories, begun with no idea how they would end.  That's not an apology, just a take-'em-as-they-are notification.

     I hope she will forgive me, but I wrote Patti and her husband into the first.  The second follows the "scarry night" theme the closest.  The third, because of a snaky comment I made when Patti blogged about romanian wirches, led her to suggest I include them in my flash fiction.

Friday, February 25, 2011


All About the Future, edited by Martin Greenberg, Gnome Press, 1955.  Not reprinted.

All About the Future was one of seven anthologies Martin Greenberg edited for his Gnome Press back in the Sixties.  It has to be emphasized that this Martin Greenberg is not Martin H. Greenberg, the current-day anthologist and head of Teckno Books.  The old Martin Greenberg (born 1918) has somewhat of a tarnished reputation for not paying his authors (Isaac Asimov -- gentle Isaac Asimov -- called him a "crook"); the newer Martin H. Greenberg (born 1941) has a sterling reputation and is much-loved.

     Business practices aside, let me sing the praises of Gnome Press.  The small, fan-run publishing house was founded by Greenberg and David Kyle (who also has a sterling reputation) and was one of the first small presses to focus on science fiction.  Since most major publishing firms did not acknowledge SF as a viable genre, it was the small press that rescued stories from pulp oblivion and published much of the early classic SF novels and collections -- and Gnome Press did that better than most everyone else.  Consider the books that Gnome press published:  Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy, Arthur C. Clarke's Against the Fall of night and Sands of Mars, L. Ron Hubbard's Fear, Fritz Leiber's Two Sought Adventure, Clifford D. Simak's City, Robert A. Heinlein's Sixth Column and The Menace from Earth, Robert E. Howard's Conan stories, C. L. Moore's Northwest Smith's stories, the first four hardbound editions of Judith Merril's The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Mark Clifton and Frank Riley's They Rather Be Right.  The roster of author's published by Gnome Press reads like a Who's Who of science fiction of the time:  L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, A. E. van Vogt, Leigh Brackett, Hal Clement, "Andrew North" (a lesser known pseudonym for Andre Norton), James E. Gunn, Jack Williamson, Frederik Pohl, E. E. Smith, John W. Campbell, Jr., James H. Schmitz, Robert Silverberg, Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson, James Blish, George O. Smith, Nelson S. Bond, and Raymond F. Jones.

     Greenberg's anthologies stand with those of Groff Conklin (whose Science Fiction Terror Tales was published by Gnome Press) and other early pioneers of the form as important historical markers in the field.  All About the Future contained a number of top stories rescued for the first time from the science fiction magazines.  Time, however, has made most of the stories readily available in other collections.  Only a very few of the lesser stories have not been reprinted since appearing in this book.

The stories:

  • Where To?, an essay by Robert A. Heinlein.  Also known as Pandora's Box.  From Galaxy Science Fiction, February, 1952.  It has been reprinted in Heinlein's Expanded Universe and several anthologies.
  • Let's Not, by Isaac Asimov.  From the Boston University Graduate, December, 1954.  It has been reprinted in Asimov's Buy Jupiter and Other Stories.
  • The Midas Plague, by Frederik Pohl.  From Galaxy Science Fiction, April, 1954. It has been reprinted in Pohl's The Case Against TomorrowThe Best of Frederik Pohl, Midas World, and numerous anthologies.
  • Un-Man, by Poul Anderson.  From Astounding Science Fiction, January, 1953.  It has been reprinted in Anderson's Un-Man and Other Novellas, The Psycho-Technic League, To Outlive Eternity and Other Stories, and  at least one anthology.
  • Granny won't Knit, by Theodore Sturgeon.  From Galaxy Science Fiction, May, 1954.  It has been reprinted in Sturgeon's The Stars Are the Styx, in Sturgeon's Collected Short Stories, Volume VIII (Bright Segment), and at least one anthology.
  • Natural State, by Damon Knight.  From Galaxy Science Fiction, January, 1954.  It has been reprinted in Knight's Three Novels (also known as Natural State and Other Novels), Rule Golden and Other Stories, and several anthologies; it was also expanded to a novel, Masters of Evolution.
  • Hobo God, by Malcolm Jameson.  From Astounding Science Fiction, September, 1944.  It has not been reprinted.  Jameson was a journeyman author who produced readable but undistinctive stories. 
    This one, about a slow-thinking tramp who altered an alien civilization, is typical.
  • Blood Bank, by Walter M. Miller, Jr.  From Astounding Science Fiction, June, 1952.  It has been reprinted in Miller's The View from the Stars, The Best Science Fiction of Walter M. Miller, Jr. (also known as Dark Benediction and abridged as Conditionally Human and Other Stories), and at least one anthology.
  • The Origin of Galactic Etiquette, The Origin of Galctic Law, The Origin of Galactic Slang, and The Origin of Galactic Medicine, four vignettes by Edward Wellen.  First published in Galaxy Science Fiction, respectively in October, 1953, April, 1953, September, 1952, and December 1953.  They have not been reprinted, which is a shame.  Wellen is a clever unsung but dependable author who seems to brighten everything he has been published in.   A major retrospective of Wellen's science fiction and mystery stories is long overdue.
     The cover jacket is by Ed Emshwiller, whose artwork is always worth checking out.

     This is a good book, with some great stories, but unless you are a collector I can't recommend buying it.  My recommendation:  thank goodness for public libraries and Interlibrary Loans.  Even if you've read the bulk of the the stories, you would still be able to enjoy the Wellen vignettes.  And if you haven't read thse stories, what are you waiting for?


     For more Forgotten Books, visit Patti Abbott at Pattinase, where she has a zillion and a half links to other great books. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011


For over fifty years, The New Lost City Ramblers have been bringing traditional American music to the forefront.  The group -- Mike Seeger, John Cohen, and Tom Paley -- started in 1958, singing and playing unvarnished Appalachian music, imbuing it with various and distinctive styles.  Along the way, Tom Paley left
and was replaced by Tracy Schwartz.  Their old-timey string band approach and scholarship have been influential in the country, folk, and popular music fields.

     Mike Seeger, the half-brother of folk legend Pete Seeger and the brother of folk legend Peggy Seeger, passed away in 2009.  Cohen, Paley, and Schwartz are still around and making their individual marks on the music scene.  John Cohen, by the way, was the "Uncle John" in The Grateful Dead's song Uncle John's Band.

     Anyway, here are some samples of their take on traditional music:

     Here's The New Lost City Ramblers from 2009:

     The first song I ever heard the group do was Al Smith for President.  I couldn't find a link to their version, so -- as a bonus -- here are the Carolina Night Hawks:

Monday, February 21, 2011


A lot of SF here.

  • John Barnes - Mother of Storms.  Science fiction.
  • Greg Bear - Anvil of Stars.  Science fiction.
  •        "        - Legacy.  Science fiction.
  • David Brin - Startide Rising.  Science fiction.
  • Arthur C. Clarke - Profiles of the Future.  Essays.
  • Alan Dean Foster - Starman.  Science fiction/movie tie-in.  My wife loves this flick.
  • Anne McCaffrey - Black Horses for the King.  Arthurian fantasy.
  • Warren Murphy -  The Destoyer:  Encounter Goup.  Men's adventure.  Number 56 in the series.
  • Lilith Saintcrow - The Devil's Right Hand.  Fantasy/horror.
  • Richard Sapir & Warren Murphy - The Destroyer:  Death Therapy.  Men's adventure.  Number 6 in the series

Thursday, February 17, 2011


My Friday's Forgotten Book isn't just forgotten, it's non-existent.  The crud has hit our house.  ***cough, cough*** I may get something up in a day or two, but probably not today.  Sorry.

     In the meantime, Patti Abbott is all rested and relaxed and ready to honcho FFB.  Hop over to her blog Pattinase for a healthy dose of Forgotten Books.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I just received an e-mail from Elaine Viets, telling me that she will be using part of my "bad vet" stories in tomorrow's (Thursday, February 17th) The Lipstick Chronicles blog.  Some time ago Elaine had asked for such stories and a zillion and a half Chronicles readers responded, including me.  I suspect she'll be writing about our cat Ninja, who came from a very bad place before she was rescued.  Ninja is taking all of this in stride, alternating her purring with selective biting of fingers and toes.  (Of course, Elaine could be writing about the vet who always left something behind whenever he spayed an animal, whether it be a cat, dog, horse, or whatever.  We'll have to see.)

     The Lipstick Chronicles is one of my daily must go-to blogs.  Elaine and her fellow Lipstick Tarts (Nancy Martin, Margaret Maron, Joshilyn Jackson, Hank Phillipi Ryan, Brunonia Berry, Diane Chamberlain, Heather Graham, Nancy Pickard, Cornelia Read, Barbara O'Neal, Harley Jane Kozak, Kathy Reschini Sweeney, Sarah Stromeyer, and Her Margie, as well as various guests) dish out some of the best wisdom, wit, and advice in the blogoverse.  If you aren't following their blog by now, you certainly should be.

UPDATE:  Elaine went with the clumsy vet story.  Ninja did not mind.  She took it with her usual grace and alomb.  Then she bit me.

18 YEARS -- WOW!

Yesterday, Richard over at The Broken Bullhorn site celebrated his 5th wedding anniversary -- you know, the wood one.  Today happens to be my sister's 18th wedding anniversary -- you know, the Metamucil one.

     Since Linda is my favorite (and only) sister and Brad is my favorite (and only -- at least on my side) brother-in-law, I'm sending my warmest wishes southward to them.  Expect the truckload of Metamucil to arrive sometime this afternoon, Linda.

     Have a wild and wonderful day, you two!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Baris Karloff's Thriller was one of the great anthology series of the 1960's.  This was also the show that made me look at the credits.  More specifically, it made check the credits on each episode to check for Robert Bloch's name; if I saw his name, I knew it would be an episode I would love.  Turns out there were a lot of names on the credits I would continue to look for.    

     John Scolari and Peter Enfantino have been going through the series episode by episode in their A Thriller a Day blog.  Here's where they trash my pick for this week's Overlooked Video:

     Ok.  So it wasn't as great as Pigeons from Hell.  The thing is that I am an uber fan of August Derleth's writings -- yes, even his lesser works.  I also bow to no one in my esteem of Richard Matheson -- and, yes, even his L. Frank Baum movie.  So, combine this with one of my favorite television programs of all time...well, I have never denied that I can be a gibbering fanboy.

     Check it out for yourself:

     And don't forget to drop by Todd Mason's Sweet Freedom blog for more Overlooked Movies today.

Monday, February 14, 2011


When I first met her, I was startled by her beauty.  I still am.

When I first met her, her laughter raised me up.  It still does

When I first met her, her smile lit up my soul.  It still does.

Her warmth.  Her grace.  Her kindness.  Her intellligence.  Her empathy.  Her joy.  I never thought anyone so wonderful would go for someone like me, but that's another of her qualities:  surprise.  After forty-one years of marriage, I'm still looking toward the next day with anticipation.  She has blessed us with two strong and independent daughters, who, in turn, have blessed the world with four magnificent children.  Through ups and downs she has stood by my side, always making me a better person.  To say I am a happy man -- a lucky man -- would be an understatement.  That's why Kitty is my valentine now and forever.


The following followed me home last week.  Can I keep them?

  • Kage Baker - In the Garden of Iden.  Science Fiction.  The first Company novel.
  • John Barnes - A Million Open Doors.  Science Fiction.  Nebula nominee and Science Fiction Chronicle's Best SF Novel of the Year.
  • George C. Chesbro - Shadow of a Broken Man. Mystery.  The first Mongo mystery.
  • Glen Cook - Passage at Arms.  Science Fiction.
  • John Creasey - So Young to Burn.  Mystery.  A Roger West Mystery.  The West books, imho, are second only to the Gideon books that Creasey wrote as "J. J. Marric."
  • Suzanne Haden Elgin - Twelve Fair Kingdoms.  Fantasy.  Book One of the Ozark Fantasy Trilogy.
  • Alan Dean Foster - The I Inside.  Science Fiction
  • M. John Harrison - Viriconium Nights.  Fantasy collection
  • Joe Hill - Heart-Shaped Box.  Horror.  The apple doesn't fall far...
  • Morag Joss - Fruitful Bodies.  Mystery.  A Sarah Selkirk mystery.
  • Brian Lumley - The Last Aerie.  Horror.  The doorstop second in the Vampire World series; part of the overall Necroscope universe.
  • Kevin Randle & Robert Cornett - Remember the Alamo!  Science fiction.
  • William Relling, Jr. - The Criminalist.  Mystery.  A writer who was taken from us much too early.
  • David Niall Wilson - Star Trek:  Voyager:  Chrysalis.  Science fiction.  #12 in the Voyager series.
  • Terri Windling, editor - Life on the Border.  Fantasy anthology.  Tales of Bordertown.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


"Flashgun" Casey, news photographer, was a popular creation by George Harmon Coxe.  Here's Flash Casey is a 1938 film starring absolutely no one you have ever heard of.  The one review on Internet Archive ended with the words, "I found this film kind of annoying."  You've been warned.


For any John Dickson Carr fans out there, here's an episode of Colonel March of Scotland Yard, starring Boris Karloff and an eyepatch.  The Colonel March stories were published as Department of Queer Complaints under his "Carter Dickson" pseudonym.  This episode is titled Error at Daybreak.

Department of Cheese

Does anyone remember The Adventures of Dr. Fu Manchu television show?  From 1956: Prisoner of Fu Manchu, starring Glen Gordon.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Well, bless my buckles.  (As Mr. Wakefield Damon might say.)  Tom Swift, the young inventor, sure has been busy since 1910, what with having adventures with his motorcycle and his motor boat and his airship and his submarine boat and his electric runabout and having to build a wireless plant to signal a rescue ship to get him and a group of chums from an island about to be destroyed by an earthquake shock.  Phew.  Now it's 1911, and our plucky hero is about to travel to the wild, wild west in search of a hidden cave where a gang of ne'er-do-wells have perfected a process for making perfect diamonds.

     Although his father, along with Garrett Jackson the engineer and Mrs. Braggart the housekeeper, stayed behind with Eradicate Sampson the colored helper and his mule Boomerang, Tom had ample help in his quest with Mr. Damon, the wealthy Barcoe Jenks, and the surly scientist Ralph Parker on his side.  Along the way, there are attempts of sabotage to Tom's airship, a mysterious ghost, the capture of our heroes by a criminal gang, a race to avoid death, attempts at ethnic humor, a tad of chaste romance with Mary Nestor, and a chance for Tom to be mean-spirited against his enemy, Andy Foger.  Bless my shoe-laces.

     Most of the original Tom Swift books, including this one, were written by Howard Garis under the house name "Victor Appleton."   They are products of their time and of popular perceptions held by publishers.  Bad people are bad and good people are good and pluck and grit will win the day.  Minorities are stereotyped and used for comic effect.  Inventions are great and technology will lead us to a brighter future.  Garis had the Stratemeyer syndicate formula down pat, having written countless books in other series -- many of them aimed at a younger audience than the Tom Swift books.  Garis also wrote thousands of newspaper stories for children about the rabbit, Uncle Wiggily.  All of which explain the tone of the Tom Swift series.

     At least the first twenty-five Tom Swift books are available on-line.  Taken with a grain of salt, each is amusing enough to waste a couple of hours, but are not recommended for a steady diet.


     For more Forgotten Books, turn to George Kelley's blog -- .  George is filling in this week for Patti Abbott, who is still chillin' and relaxin'.  Patti will be back next week.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Tom and the others had always come back safely, though often they met with accidents which only the skill and daring of the daring aeronaut had brought to a safe conclusion.  Tom Swift in the Caves of Ice by "Victor Appleton" (Howard Garis)

Uh, shouldn't that read "the skill and daring of the daring and skillful aeronaut"?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


A few days ago, I thought I'd dip into The Last Circle, a collection of poems and stories by Stephen Vincent Benet.  I read one story and found myself reading another, and another.  Pretty soon, I had read the entire book.

     Benet is probably best remembered today for his story The Devil and Daniel Webster and for his book-length poem John Brown's Body.  In some circles, he's known for ghosting the novelization of Mary Robert Rinehart's The Bat.  I suspect that few people read Benet today and that's a shame.  The Last Circle is a posthumous collection; Benet died of a sudden heart attack in 1943 at age 44.

     In her introduction to this collection, his widow, Rosemary Benet, wrote that there seemed to be a premonition with death in these stories and poems.  She's right, of course, but there is another common theme that runs through this book, and, indeed, through his career.  Benet was in love with America, her people, and her promise.  He often used American folktales and folk heroes to tell his stories.  He was a willing propagandist for his country during World War II, writing stories, radio dramas, and poems about all that was good about America.  He never turned a blind eye to our faults, but he lauded our initiative to try to move past them and to better ourselves.  He was for the ordinary man, the everyday woman.

     Here's part of a poem he wrote about Franklin Roosevelt:

               We remember the bitter faces of the apple-sellers
               And their red cracked hands,
               We remember the gray, cold wind of '32
               When the job stopped, and the bank stopped,
               And the merry-go-round broke down,
               And, finally,
               everything seemed to stop.
               The whole big works of American,
               Bogged down with a creeping panic,
               And nobody knew how to fix it, while the wise guys sold the country short,
               Till one man said (and we listened)
               "The only thing we have to fear is fear."
               Well, it's quite a long while since then, and the wise guys may not remember.
               But we do, F.D.R.

     In his story "This Bright Dream", Benet's narrator is an old woman who looks back on her roots, her family, and the ups and downs they endured:

                    It's a long road from Great-Grandpa to the little new great-grandchild.  I wish I could make
               a picture of it--I wish a picture could be made.  We've been Democrats and Republicans and
               Populists and Whigs and Federalists.  We've gone in wagons and airplanes, on horseback and
               afoot.  We've built things and torn them down and built them again.  And then there was a war,
               and the war before it, the war that kept the Union.  tht seems very far away, I know.  But
               when I was a young girl, there were scars on some of the houses still--scars where the shells
               had struck.  And Mrs. Jenkins' rosewood dining table with the brass plate where the solid shot
               had gone through.  Just a house like your house or my house--an ordinary house where ordinary
               people lived.  I keep thinking of that--and yet we had to keep the Union.  And I've been in the
               hospitals, too--I've heard them breathing, in the hospitals, in the flu epidemic.  I don't think
               anyone forgets.  I know that a woman doesn't.
                    And yet, there was a long time, when your father and I were married and afterward, when it
               seemed as if things were getting better, not only here but all over the world.  That's what I can't
               explain to Frank and Bertha Junior--that feeling we had.  They'd think it was just a dream, but
               it was real, it was true.  Oh, we worried about all sorts of things.  But we felt we could get
               through them, all together.  We felt there was greatness to come.

     There's an optimism that runs through his works.  Reading this book helped reinforce my sometimes shaky optimism.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Let's get this over with at the start:  Robert Rodrigues is cool.  Robert Rodrigues' movies are cool.  And this one has Danny Trejo.  Cool!

     At the movie's start, Machete (Danny Trejo) is a tough federale.  He goes after drug kingpin Torrez (Stephen Seagal), but gets knifed by a nekkid lady and has to watch as Torrez beheads Machete's wife.  Torrez says he's going to also kill Machete's daughter and leaves the wounded federale to die in a blazing building.  Machete survives, his life and career ruined, goes to the United States, and becomes a day laborer.  He's hired by bad guy Booth (Jeff Fahey) to assassinate a state senator (Robert deNiro).  The whole thing's a set-up with Machete as the patsy.  The senator is a psychopath who likes to kill Mexicans and Booth is his aide who's staging an assassination attempt to gain public sympathy for the senator.  Fahey, by the way, also plays a stone-cold killer.  They both have links to Von Jackson (played by sound-alike Don Johnson) who heads up a militia guarding the border and killing Mexicans.  Pulling the strings on all three is Torrez, who is using them to gain a monopoly on drugs crossing the border.

     Opposing all these baddies is Luz (Michelle Rodrigues) who runs an underground network helping Mexicans who cross the border, when she's not serving tacos from a canteen truck, that is.  Also on the side of the angels are Santana (Jessica Alba) and Machete's brother, a priest/funeral director (Cheech Marin).  Let's not forget April Booth (Linsay Lohan) who is a sex-crazed drug addict, the object of her daddy's unfulfilled lust, and (in the end) a gun-totin' nun.

     So what makes this movie so great?  Besides Danny Trejo, that is.  Well, there's blood and beheadings and gore and more blood.  There's nekkid ladies and explosions and more nekkid ladies.  And a nekkid Lilo.  And there's guns and cool cars and fightin' and backstabbin' and treachery.  There's knives and machetes and weed wackers. And Danny Trejo.  (Did I mention the nekkid ladies?)

     If you saw the "Planet Terror" sequence in Rodrigues' homage to B movies and drive-ins Grindhouse, you may remember the "trailer" for Machete that Rodrigues inserted.   Footage from that trailer has been lovingly included in this movie and it shows.  (A goodly part of the nekkid Lilo was actually the nekkid someone else from that trailer.)  Rodrigues respects the genre to much not to have fun with it from beginning (where the credits say "and introducing Don Johnson") to end (where we are promised that Machete, like James Bond, will return...and return).  Grainy film, jerky action scenes, phony yet gory bloodletting -- it's all here, told with panache and style.

     And it has Danny Trejo.



Today I received an e-mail reminding me that today, February 8, is folksinger Tom Rush's birthday.  I can't count the number of times I have seen him perform, from the early days at Cambridge's Club 47 and Boston's Unicorn, to the Ramshead in Annapolis.  Among the many great songs he has done are "The Child's Song", "No Regrets", "Urge for Going", "The Remember Song", and "The Circle Game".  Tom Rush made us realize that a lipstick tube could sound like a train whistle on the guitar.  He  showed us what songs are no longer permissible to sing.  He taught us how to troll for owls.

Today, Tom Rush turned 70.  How can that be?  I haven't aged and he's still the same talented kid who helped usher in a generation of singers who have inspired a nation.


Number 54 of Earl Kemp's great fanzine eI is up and it's a special tribute to Harlan Ellison in recognition of his being given the Eaton Award for Lifetime Achievement in Science Fiction by the University of California Riverside.  Fascinating reading.  Check it out.

Overlooked Films: Alice in Wonderland (1903)

I don't know how many movies Lewis Carroll's classic has inspired.  The recent television version seemed pretty muddled.  Back on the big screen, Tim Burton made Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter seem like Johnny Depp's Willie Wonka.  The Disney version scared my wife when she was a child.  Alice has been haunting the screens long before the Disney animators put pencil to storyboard.

Here's how Alice looked on 1903:

The film was in pretty bad shape, but most of the elements were in this eight minute short:  the White Rabbit, shrinking and growing Alices, the Cheshire Cat, the howling baby, the Mad Tea Party, the Red Queen and her minions...

Internet Archive also has a 1915 version of Alice, but I had problems linking to it.  Perhaps you will have better luck.


This was supposed to be a slow week for incoming books, but the best laid plans...Anyway, here's what's new in the I Can't Believe You Can Fit Any More In the House Dept.:
  • "Francis Beeding" - Spellbound (The House of Dr. Edwardes).  Mystery.  Yes, this is the book the Hitchcock film was based on.
  • Laurent Bouzereau, editor - Star Wars:  The Annotated Screenplays. Science fiction.  The first three films.  The detailed notes give one the best idea of Leigh Brackett's contribution to The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold - Falling Free.  Science fiction.
  • Glen Cook - Water Sleeps.  Science fiction.  Book three of "Glittering Stone" and the eighth novel of the Black Company.
  • Thomas Cullinan - The Bedeviled.  Horror.
  • Winifred Elze - The Changling Garden.  Horror.
  • Loren D. Estleman - Port Hazard.  Western.  A Page Murdock novel.
  • Ken Eulo - The Brownstone.  Horror.
  • J. A. Johnson - The Loner:  The Big Gundown.  Western.  Number 4 in the series.
  • Stephen King - Dreamcatcher.  Horror.  Replacement copy; the old copy went walkabout.
  • Dennis Lehane - Prayers for Rain.  Mystery.  Number five in the Patrick Kenzie/Angela Gerrero series.
  • Archer Mayor - The Ragman's Memory.  Mystery.  Joe Gunther #7; it's been way too long since I read a Joe Gunther novel.
  • Ann McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough - Power Play.  Science Fiction.  The conclusion of the "Power" trilogy.
  • Warren Murphy - Bay City Blast.  Adventure.  The Destroyer #38.
  • [Don Pendleton] - Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan in Rebels and Hostiles.  Adventure.  The Executioner # heaven knows.  This one was written by Michael Kasner.
  • Louise Penny - Still Life.  Mystery.  Winner of the CWA New Blood Dagger.
  • Robert J. Sawyer - Hominids.  Science fiction.  First in The Neanderthal Parallax series.  A Hugo winner.
  • Jory Sherman - Shadow Rider:  Apache Sundown.  Western.  #2 in the series.
  • "Neville Shute" - On the Beach.  Science fiction.  It made a good movie.
  • Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch - Star Trek:  The Next Generation:  Invasion!:  The Soldiers of Fear.  Science fiction.  The second in a series that hits on different parts of the Trek universe.  It should be subtitled "Too Many Colons".
  • A. E. van vogt - The Worlds of A. E. van Vogt.  Science fiction collection.  This is an expansion (by three stories) of The Far-Out Worlds of A. E. van Vogt.
  • Patricia Wentworth - Latter End.  Mystery.  Miss Silver solves another one.

     A pretty good mix, if I do say so myself.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Since I reported on the Rex Stout-edited anthology Rue Morgue No. 1 last week for my contribution to Friday's Forgotten Books, I thought I'd take a look at a very different type of book Stout edited.  It's The Illustrious Dunderheads and it came out in September of 1942 from Knopf.

     No one has ever accused Rex Stout of being a shrinking violet or of not speaking his mind.  In the days leading up to World War II, Stout was highly offended that a number of members of Congress -- in both the House and the Senate -- were pushing an isolationist, and sometimes pro-Nazi view.  For the liberal Stout, this was both unacceptable and stupid.  Stout bristled.  Then he did something about it.  The result was this book.

     Poring over the Congressional Record, Stout amassed the voting records and excepts from the speeches of these "dunderheads."  He named each individual dunderhead and placed their actions to their names.  According to the introduction by Frank Sullivan, the result is "the accumulated store of wisdom, vision, and statements of the politicians who constituted the isolationist movement in the country in the years before Pearl Harbor."  Many of these pols had economic ties to Nazi Germany, some were just anti-Semetic racists, some seem to be sincere isolationists -- but an awful lot of them just come across as pro-Nazi.  Again, from the introduction:  the book points out "U. S. Senators and congressmen who have given currency  to Nazi propaganda."

     Scary to think about. has a couple of reviews of the book, both of which -- fairly or unfairly -- point out the currency of this 74 year old book.  One states, "Much of the rhetoric is the same heard on Fox News today."  I can't speak to that.  It's been close to twenty years since I read  this book, but it has stuck with me.  I've often thought someone should produce something similar today, pointing out the lies from both sides of the political divide and placing them at each individual doorstep.  A book like that would certainly have to take more than the 192 pages Stout used in 1942.

     (As an aside, during the McCarthy years, Stout ignored a subpoena from The House Un-American Activities Committee.  Cool, huh?)

     As far as I know, The Illustrious Dunderheads had only the one printing.  Copies should be available through the used book market.  I read mine through an Interlibrary Loan.

      Please understand that, because of its nature and format, much of the information is repetitive.  But it is fascinating.  As a piece of history, or as a bridge to today's political scene, The Illustrious Dunderheads rates five stars.


     Patti Abbott is still relaxing.  This week's Guest Host is the very capable Todd Mason over at his Sweet Freedom blog; George Kelley will fill in next week, after which our Fearless Leader will return.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


The Very Best Eight-Year Old Girl In The World has abdicated and has taken up the new title of The Very Best Nine-Year Old Girl In The World.  (We'll let the eight-year olds fight among themselves to see who should claim the old title.)

TVBN-YOGITW may also be thinking of apologizing to her grandmother for not being born on 02-02-02.

Also, please note that today is Chinese New Year, The Year of the Rabbit.  Hmm.  Didn't they know that her very favorite animal de jour is the clouded leopard?

Let the fun-filled year begin!

Happy birthday, sweet Erin.  We'll see you and your folks at Ledo's tonight to celebrate!

UPDATE:   I have been informed by Her Highness that the clouded leopard is now her SECOND FAVORITE animal.    The top spot now belongs to the pudu deer.  (This after her mother hand-decorated twenty-four clouded leopard cupcakes for my wife and me to bring into her class today; I may have to spend the next half-hour licking the frosting off two dozen cupcakes.)

FURTHER UPDATE:  What in hell is a pudu deer?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


"I taped yesterday's Oprah so you can watch it with me."


     (Quick, think!)  "Sounds great!"  (I went to husband school.  I know what to say.)

     "It's a show on vegans."

     (Gulp.)   "That will be interesting."  (Darned husband school!)

     So we watched.  Turns out Oprah and over 200 of her flunkies employees at Harpo went vegan for a week.  Result --  they felt better, had more energy, many lost weight (some gained), had a hell of a lot of bowel movents, and were pretty gassy.  Thinking I could probably manage all five without becoming vegan, I wisely said nothing.

     The purpose of show (Oprah said) was not to turn anyone vegan, but to make each of us aware of where our food comes from.  To that purpose, Lisa Ling led us on a tour of a meat processing plant.  (Thanks, Lisa.)  Probably thinking back to the time she was sued by the Texan beef industry, Oprah herself decided not to become a vegan.  She would become "veganish", just "leaning" in that direction.  The Harpo cafeteria would now offer a "meatless Monday" option, though.  All well and good.

     "That might be something we would want to try," said The Light of My Life.

     "Bacon's a vegetable, isn't it?" was my only response.

     Actually it's not a bad idea.  Going vegan -- or at least vegetarian -- for a week.  ("We're not getting any younger," she pointedly said, staring where my six-packs would be if I didn't love my six-packs.  **Point of Order:  she is always young in my heart and mind.  Me?  Not quite.**)

     Only major problem that I can see is that it's going to cost and arm and a leg and another leg.  Oprah's "veganist" guest (who happened to the wife of one of her partners in the OWN network) took one Oprah's employees shopping at Whole Foods to buy some (read: a shopping cartload) of tasty vegan food.  Cut to leaving the store with bags (paper, not plastic) of healthy, yummy food.  The stop at the register was either edited out or not filmed.  Probably just as well; those viewers who eat meat, or who are on a limited non-Oprah budget, would have been in shock.

     Like everyone else, I have my own quirks about food.  I hate peas.  Hate 'em.  Love pea soup.  Other contradictions:  I love beans and legumes, but can't stand lima beans, and I love corn, but hate creamed corn.   Thus, I hate succotash, but I would die for some of the home-made succotash my Aunt Corrine made when she was alive.  Those are contradictions I can live with, my own private little food oxymorons.

     My wife and Oprah seem convinced the word "lifestyle" -- at least as it applies to me -- is another oxymoron.  They're probably right.  So I will bravely, with majesty and heroism, attempt a veganish (or vegetarianish) lifestyle.

    Why not?  Bacon is a vegetable, in't it?  

    Anyway, here's a few vegan songs I found on Youtube:

     And couple from the opposing side:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


This was recently linked to my facebook page.  Sad to say, it could apply to many other parts of the country.!/photo.php?fbid=1428182844913&set=a.1058844491685.8861.1843097203


This is a sad, true story.


Cap'n Bob Napier, while recovering from shoulder surgery and trying to keep his mind off his discomfort, has been posting pictures of Anna May Wong on his blog (aptly named Cap'n Bob's Blog).  Anna May Wong was the first Chinese-American movie star and had a preternaturally beautiful and mature stage presence.  She was also the star of my choice for this week's selection for Todd Mason's Overlooked Films, Daughter of the Dragon (Paramount, 1931) -- a great movie that I never saw, at least, not completely.

     Bear with me as I harken back to the not-so-distant past.  Bouchercon IV (the only Bouchercon I ever attended) was held in Boston in 1973.  This was the first East Coast Bouchercon and attendance was small but the programming was great.  Somebody (Chris Steinbrunner, maybe) was showing some great movies during the evenings.  One item shown was a reel from Daughter of the Dragon.  (My memory is hazy:  I had thought that this had been presented as a chapter in a serial and that this was the only piece extant of the movie.  A check on IMDB shows I was mistaken.  Daughter of the Dragon was a 70-minute 8-real film.  It could be that the reel shown was the only known to survive at the time.)  Anna May Wong (of course) had the title role.

     The "Dragon" is that evil mastermind, Dr. Fu Manchu himself.  The movie is based, ever so loosely, on Sax Rohmer's novel Daughter of Fu Manchu.  Anna May plays Ling Moy, whose neighbor -- unknown to her -- is Fu Manchu (played Warner Oland, later known for his Charlie Chan roles); also unknown to Ling Moy is that Fu Manchu is secretly her father.  Ling Moy also happens to be interested in Ah Kee (an early role for Sessue Hayakawa), who is really a secret agent out to stop the evil doctor.  Who will Ling Moy side with?  Her father or her lover?  Do we really have to ask?

     The reel I saw seems to have Ling Moy in her father's thrall.  It was interesting and thrilling in a creaky sort of way.  What I remember most is that Anna May worn a filmy outfit and no bra.  I always try to focus on the important parts when watching films.

     Anna May Wong was born Wong Liu Tsong ("Frosted Yellow Willows") in 1905 in Los Angeles.  She was a third generation American.  Her father stereotypically owned a laundry and opposed her dreams of acting; in the Chinese culture of the time an actress was on the same level as a prostitute.  Anna was stubborn, however, and haunted movie sets while very young.  She managed to her her first, uncredited, role when she was 14 in a movie called The Red Lantern.  She had a number of other bit roles in films until, at 17, she got the lead role in Toll of the Sea, an adaptation of Madame Butterfly

     Anna was now a star, but as an Asian she had to confront the racism of the time.  Leading Asian roles were usually played by white actors (viz., Charlie Chan, Fu Manchu, and countless others).  Asian women were elimated from most starring roles because 1) they didn't look Asian enough (!), or, 2) they weren't allowed to kiss a white leading man.  (Mary Pickford, one of the whitest actresses ever, had the lead role as an Asian in an earlier version of Madame Butterfly.)  Anna May Wong was only one of two major actresses who never kissed a leading man onscreen.  (For you trivia experts out there, the other was Mae West.)

     During her career, Anna May Wong worked with many of the leading actors of the time:  Lon Chaney, John Gilbert, Douglas Fairbanks, Ronald Colburn, Lawrence Olivier, and Anthony Quinn, among others.  She was known as the world's best dressed woman and was said to have the most beautiful hands in the movies.  I didn't notice her hands in Daughter of the Dragon.

     Tired of being denied roles, Anna moved to Europe in 1928 and made a stream of English and German films.  In Europe, she was treated like the major actress she was.  Her fame soared after her first talkie, The Flame of Love.  This film, made before dubbing was available, was shot three times and Anna spoke her role in English, French, and German for the various releases.

     She never married.  Because of the racial laws in America, she was forbidden to marry a white and the thought of marrying someone of her own race conflicted with her strong ideas of independence.  Reportedly, one white lover wanted to take her to Mexico and marry her there, but recanted when he considered the possible effect on his acting career.  She continued acting -- movies, stage, radio, and television.  In 1951, she had a short-lived television program on the Dumont Network, The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, in which she played a Chinese detective.

     Caught between two worlds, she faced racism from many whites and disdain from many Chinese.  She was a well-read person who conversed well in the salons of Europe, spoke four languages fluently (although her parents complained that she spoke Chinese with an English accent), loved golf, horses, and skiing.  She also had her demons.  Rumored to be bisexual, she suffered from depression and smoked and drank too much. 

     Anna May Wong, a pioneer  for Asian-Americans and for women, died far too young at age 56 of cirrhosis of the liver. 


For more Overlooked Movies, visit Todd Mason's blog Sweet Freedom at