Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, August 26, 2011


Shadow of Night by August Derleth (1943)

An old woman kneels before a grave, clearing it with shears.  The name on the grave is Gebhardt, but age and cracks had obliterated the first name.  She notices a second marker, hidden by the overgrowth.  A wife, perhaps, she thinks.  As she slowly clears the marker, she sees another name, Hasso.  So the markers were not part of the same grave lot.  Again, time has erased the first name on this marker.  She goes about her working, clearing the graves in this old cemetery, graves that are so close to each other...

It's 1852, springtime.  Kurt Hasso, a tutor in natural sciences, has come to Sac Prairie, a growing village on the shores of Wisconsin.  He finds employment and a room at the home of Mellman, a prominent businessman and town leader.  Hasso is to tutor Mellman's children and perhaps other children in the village who can afford his services.  No one knows that Hasso was on a mission.  He was driven to avenge the death of his younger brother seven years before in Bavaria.  After years of searching he has located his prey, Odo Gebhardt, who had settled in Sac Prairie a few years before.

Hatred is a kind of disease, like the shadow of night coming across the sun.

Hasso has always been a loner.  Set apart from others because of a hunched back, the only person who ever showed him kindness was his brother.  But then he came to Sac Prairie.  Ammi Mellman, a lively, fifteen-year-old girl, quickly won Hasso's affections by her kind ways and acceptance of Hasso's deformity.  (Hasso, it must be noted, was not sexually attracted to the young girl; his love for the young girl was a mixture of fatherly and brotherly affection.)  Ammi's heart belongs to Charlie, the son of Hasso's enemy Gebhardt.  Despite himself, Hasso finds himself drawn to Charlie, who is a very likable and talented boy verging on manhood.

Hasso's conflicted emotions increase when he meets Gebhardt, whom he finds to be an honorable and friendly man.  His desire to kill Gebhardt is opposed by his wish not to hurt Ammi, for to kill her lover's father would surely cause her pain.  Soon, circumstances arise that force Hasso to save Gebhart's life; even this act does not extinguish Hasso's desire for vengeance.  As time goes on Hasso becomes part of the community and he finds himself solidly entwined into the life of Sac Prairie, Hasso must come to grips with his inner natures.

Against this human drama is the story of the growth of a community.  Once considered the Western edge of civilization, the westward movement has made Sac Prairie a respectable community.  It has been twenty years since the Black Hawk Indian War had threatened the small village.   Trapping and trading has given way to farming.  Women's rights, a prohibition movement, and abolitionist sentiment are topics to be debated.  The town is finding its way to integrate Freethinkers, Catholics, and Protestants into one community.  There is a struggle of rationality against mob rule, as well as a debate between state's rights and federal rights.  The growing pains of a country are examined in the microsoam of a small Wisconsin village.

Since Hasso is a tutor in natural sciences, Derleth uses him to introduce one of his favorite characters:  nature itself.  Derleth lovingly describes the beauty and purpose of the flora and fauna of the area, the glow of the stars and the sweet breath of the wind.  The town and its surroundings form a symbiotic relationship.

Shadow of Light is part of Derleth's massive Sac Prairie Saga, itself a component of his Wisconsin Saga.  The story is told with warmth, humor, and sympathy, all with an underlying thread of humanity.  The book may not appeal to some modern readers, however.  In fact, the basic story may be better presented as a novella, but Derleth's wider themes mandate his leisurely pace and style.  Derleth was a major writer of regional literature -- a position that may be overlooked because of his importance as a mystery and fantasy writer and publisher. 



For more Forgotten Books this week, turn to Pattinase, the always interesting blog of Patti Abbott.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Mac Wiseman is a country/bluegrass singer who has earned the nickname "The voice with a Heart".  Born in Virginia in 1925, Wiseman studied music at the Shenadoah Conservatory and was a disk jocky before he began performing as a bass player in a bluegrass band.  He went on to play guitar for Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, the for Earl monroe and The Bluegrass Boys.  Wiseman began his solo career in the Fifties and has been winning fans ever since.  With his tenor voice and husky looks, it was said that he "sings like Gene Vincent looks, and looks like Ernest Tubb sings."  He was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 1993.

Let's start off with some Plum' Pitiful:

One of his most popular songs was a cover of "Love Letters in the Sand".

Another classic:

There are a lot of Plum' Pitiful songs in bluegrass and country music.

Here, Mac puts his stamp on an old favorite.

"Catfish John":

Here's a great medley:

Let's close with song by Mac and Lester Flatt:


Hop on over to Scott D. Parker for more toe-thumping music.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Let me be the eight millionth blogger to post these.

With best wishes and hopes that you are safe.


In the early Seventies, something radical hit the airwaves.  A PBS show with a focus on consumerism.  politics, and humor.  The Great American Dream Machine provided a counterculture viewpoint that left many of its viewers scratching their heads.

     Hosted by Marshall Efron, TGADM took the American dream to the woodshed in a series of brilliant skits and songs.  Among those featured over the show's run were Chevy Chase, Andy Rooney, Albert Brooks, Carly Simon, Ronald Reagan, Odetta, and Harold Pinter.  TGADM was 1971's SNL, always pushing the limits.

     Among the skits I distinctly remember was one about a trash compactor.  "It takes twenty pounds of trash and turns it into twenty pounds of trash!"  It ended with a trashman trying to pick up trash with a hernia-inducing effort.

     Another skit took us to the spice aisle of the supermarket.  By comparing weights and prices, we learned that common spices were far more expensive than gold.  (I don't know if that comparison holds true today, though.)

     The show began with nine hour and thirty minute episodes and was cut back to an hour during its second season.  It's short, glorious life shone like a nova -- eventually going into that black hole where so many innovative television shows disappear.  There's a legal question as to whom the rights to TGADM belong, so I don't believe it's available on DVD...maybe the black market.  I was able to find a couple of clips on Youtube, though.  Enjoy.

     Here Marshall Efron makes a lemon cream pie from scratch, using the ingredients listed on a package.  This clip is shown regularly at the Museum of Science and Industry.

     One focus of the show was government regulation and how confusing and nit-picking it could be.  Of course, can anything be more confusing than olives?

     The Great American Dream Machine reminds me of other great subversive shows such as The Ernie Kovacs Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and The Pat Paulson Half a Comedy Hour.  Good company to be in, I say.


For more Overlooked Video and/or A/V, stop by ringmaster Todd Mason's blog, Sweet Freedom.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Took a trip to a used book store in Baltimore this week.  The main thing I got out of it was that my GPS hates Baltimore.  (And, oh, I did get two books -- guess which ones.)

  • "Antony Alban" [Anthony A. Thompson], Catharsis Central.  SF novel about a tranqued-out world.
  • John connelly, The Lovers.  A Charlie Parker thriller.
  • Edmund Cooper, Transit.  SF novel about four people transported to an alien world via a crystal.
  • Matthew J. Costello, Beneath Still Waters (Horror.  I picked up the Berkley MTI edition that proclaims "NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE -- LOOK FOR IT ON DVD!"  Something's wrong with that blurb, amigo.) and  DOOM3:  Worlds on Fire.  Book One in the gaming tie-in series.
  • J. T. Ellison, The Immortals. A Taylor Jackson mystery.
  • Rick Hautala, Dark Silence and Night Stone.  Horror novels by that well-known horror writer from Maine.  No.  Not that one.  The other one.
  • William W. Johnstone, Carnival.  Horror.
  • William W. Johnstone, with J. A. Johnstone, Sidewinders:  Massacre at Whiskey Flats.  Western.
  • Stephen Jones, editor, The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Volume 15.  Annual goody bag with 25 stories covering 2003.
  • James Patrick Kelly, Look Into the Sun.  Science fiction.
  • Louis l'Amour, Bendigo Shafter.  Western.
  • Jane Langton, Dark Nantucket Moon.  A Homer Kelly mystery.
  • Laurence Manning, The Man Who Awoke.  Classic SF.  The Ballantine edition says this is a novel that was serialized in Wonder Stories in 1933.  Actually, it's a collection of five linked stories.
  • Andrew Neiderman, Sight Unseen.  Horror novel from the guy who has been ghosting the V. C. Andrews books for many years.
  • Mel Odom, Hellgate:  London:  Exodus, Goetia, and Covenant.  Gaming tie-in trilogy.
  • Josephine Pinkney, Three O'Clock Dinner.  Novel.
  • David Robbins, Spook Night.  Horror.
  • Theodore Roszak, The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein.  Horror.  The saga told from the viewpoint of Victor's adopted sister/wife.
  • Isaac Bashevis Singer, A Crown of Feathers.  Two dozen short stories (many fantasy) by the Nobel Prize winning author.
  • Thomas Tessier, Rapture.  Horror.
  • F. Paul Wilson, Healer.  An early LaNague Federation SF novel.

Kitty snagged a dozen books or so and Dawn added to our pile.  Because I'm still drying out, however, I'll list them later.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


This morning we went out with our two youngest grandchildren and the 6-year-old foster child who lilves with them.  We were loaded down with butterfly nets and pure ambition to net some type of watery critter, so went down to a nearby marina and boardwalk.  The crabs were waiting for us.

     After a couple of tries, Mark scooped up a crab, but in the attempt to free it from the net the crab pinched Mark's finger and got away.  Those suckers can move really fast -- zip, plop, and gone.  Mark said they could pinch pretty hard, too.

     Now we had this whole thing down to a science -- with us as the mad scientists.  Erin soon caught a largish jellyfish which she then released; jellyfish stings were nothing to look forward to.  Mark caught three more crabs -- two female and a much larger male.  I managed to net my cell phone as it slid out of my pocket and into the water.

     We tried to move the crabs from the pail we had to a container.  Big mistake.  All three crabs leaped to the ground and hurried their escape.  We caught the two females, but the male was a pure speed demon.  Zip, plop, and gone.

     By now, every crab in the Chesapeake and its tributaries were on the lookout for us.  I imagine they used crab tom-toms to spread the word.  There was one crab, however, that didn't get the message -- or, perhaps, ignored it.  I laid down on the boardwalk and scooped that sucker up.  I could swear I heard everyone cheer because of the natural grace and efficiency I showed.

     By now the score was Erin 1, jellyfish nothing; Mark 2, crabs 2; me 2, cell phone nothing, crab nothing.  Savannah didn't catch anything but she had been on point, letting us know where the crabs were lurking.

     One final score.  Me nothing, Chesapeake 1.  While getting up after netting my crab, I lost my balance and fell into the water.  This particular water was dirty and briny and did not taste very good.  On the way down I somehow smashed both legs, while in the water I somehow lost my glasses, on the way up I bumped my head on something.  I could swear I heard everyone cheer because of the natural grace and efficiency I showed.

     So we headed home.  The car now has a slight briny odor.  I hopped in a shower (did I mention the water was dirty?) and discovered that a shower, some wounds, and a coating of brine do not add up to a pleasant experience.  (There is a reason for the phrase, "rubbing salt on a wound.")  I've got one good-sized gash on my right leg, a smaller one on my left and some big, honkin' goose eggs on each leg.  I have not been able to find my old set of glasses; I think I donated them some time ago.  Bless my wife for her poor vision:  she had a pair of 4X drugstore glasses that she uses for sewing that I am using now; otherwise I wouldn't be able see the computer, much less the keyboard.

    The crabs are in separate containers so the kids can show them to their parents and then release them.  I'm just about finished typing and I going to elevate my legs.

     It was a fun day.


Saturday, August 20, 2011


Patti Abbott's comment on the last post echoes my feelings.  Luckily, Ian Tyson has not stopped recording or performing.  Although busy with his ranch in southern Alberta, he still has been able to come up with songs like this.

Sylvia has been kept busy promoting Canadian music, but she has also found time to continue singing, although clips of her are harder to find.

But when the two of them were!  Here they are doing one of Phil Ochs's best songs


One of the great folk duos.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Alvin, Texas, has many noble citizens, some of whom are "sick of lawlessness", as can be seen from this link:

Scroll down to the Police Blotter section.  And, to be on the safe side, stay off of their lawns!


Her Last Call to Louis MacNeice by Ken Bruen

I don't know if any book by Ken Bruen should be called "forgotten", but this short, sharp jab to the kidneys is one of his lesser-known ones.

     Cooper is a South Londoner who has served time for GBH (grievious bodily harm).  He survived in prison only with the help of a fellow prisoner, a wild Irisher known as "Doc", who had taken Cooper under his wing.  After being released from prison, Cooper continued to hang out with Doc, knowing that he owes Doc a great debt.

     Then came the day that \Doc decided he wanted to rob a bank -- a spur of the moment decision.  Cooper agrees to go along.  It was a clumsy, albeit successful, robbery and Cooper discovered an almost sexual excitement in the act.  Cooper was hooked and he and Doc began a long run of bank robberies.  They became more cautious, though, and soon knew they had to find a way to launder the money.

     They decided on a car repo business to launder the money.  What they didn't count on was being successful at it.  The  business grew fast.  They hired a shady accountant who also had contacts within a number of banks.  Cooper and Doc used this inside information to rob those banks.

     Cooper spends the night with Cassie, a shoplifter with a poor grip on reality.  Cassie steals money and a gun from Cooper but also becomes fixated with him, stalking him and showing up at inconvenient times.  Cassie has unilaterally decided Cooper will go to Morocco to rescue her daughter whom she believes to have been kidnapped.  Cooper wants nothing to do with Cassie or her delusions.

     Meanwhile, Doc's common-law wife has been killed falling under a train.  Cooper suspects that Cassie may have pushed her. 

     Things begin to unravel quickly.  The police suspect the two for the bank robberies.  Doc is beginning to get unhinged.  He has gambled away all his money and stolen from their repossession company which is now going bankrupt.  He has no money to pay for his wife's expensive funeral, or his teen-age daughter's posh boarding school.  On top of that, he has promised to fund an extension to the local church building in memory of his wife.  Even though he knows it's a very bad idea, Cooper agrees to join Doc in another robbery.

     With all their previous jobs, Cooper and Doc had carried guns to flash around although they never fired a shot.  This time, though, Doc becomes further unhinged and shoots a girl's face off.  As they are leaving, a third figure shows up, masked and bearing guns.  It's Cassie; she has gone completely over the edge.  She shoots Doc and aims at Cooper.

     Cooper manages to escape and discovers that Cassie got away clean.  The police are looking for him for the robbery, the death of the girl, and the shooting of Doc.

     Bruen tells a nasty tale of violence and despair.  He writes with a poetic mania, crafting and polishing in a way that leaves no unnecessary words.  He is the current master of Irish bleak and dark noir and Her Last Call to Louis MacNeice is a fast-paced, careening ride to the nether parts of the human soul.

     Ken Bruen is the real thing.  I highly recommend this book.


     For more Forgotten Books, visit Patti Abbott's blog, Pattinase.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


My wife vividly remembers this film from elementary school days in suburban D. C.  Up north, we weren't shown the film, probably because they thought we just weren't important, or they figured radiation wouldn't work in a cow pasture.

Put on your scared hat because people actually believed this stuff back then.  Luckily, we all know today that duct tape and plastic wrap will beat duck and cover anytime!  Ah, progress!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


My beautiful golden girl had a birthday this week and I was called to task for not posting about her.  Mea culpa.  Mea culpa.  Mea really screwed up culpa.  Let me make amends.

     When Jessamyn was born, we were gifted with a bundle of happiness, giggles, and hugs.  A smiling happy child who showed us that -- despite all the problems in the world -- good things really do happen.  As new parents, we got to see the world through brand new eyes; if you are a parent you know the joy that comes from that.

     Jessie gave us more than our share of grief, none of it her fault, mind you.  She was born with a birthmark on the crown of her head.  By the time she was five, Kitty noticed a slight change in the birthmark.  We had it checked out and was told that Kitty was over-reacting.  We went to another doctor and was told the same thing.  Finally, we lied about a referral and got to see a doctor that was concerned.  A specialist from Boston was called in and he was even more concerned.  All this time we were given platitudes about everything will be all right and don't worry.  A biopsy was done and we asked the specialist exactly what he was looking for.  "Cancer, of course," he said.  The results came back and were positive and our hearts sank.  The doctors were unable to operate because the biopsy had not healed.  This led to weekly sessions for over a month where the doctors tried to cauterize the wound.  Despite the extreme pain, Jessie handled the procedures better than we did; on the surface we were calm and rational while in our hearts we quivered with panic.  We also tried to make a disgusting procedure fun (an impossible task), but every week we showed up Jessie had colorful, garish clothes and jewelry and about twenty pounds of make-up.  (she thought she looked beautiful -- and she was, and always has been.)  Turns out this was a very rare type of cancer and had never been identified in a patient as young as Jessie.  It had always been discovered during puberty and was invariably fatal.

     After a month and a half, the biopsy finally healed and surgery was scheduled.  The nurses in the pediatric ward had read Jessie's diagnosis diagnosis and weren't familiar with the cancer.  They then tried to look it up in their reference manuals and couldn't find it, so they were expecting a frail, sickly child.  Instead they got a happy, smiling, lovable little girl who ended up doing wheelies in the hospital corridor with her wheelchair.  (Something her grandfather taught her.)  End result, the surgeon was able to remove all the cancer which was still encapsulated and Jessie went to first grade with short hair and a bandaged head.

     Of course, that wasn't the end of the grief.  When she was twelve, the scar began to change.  Off to the doctors again.  By this time (in the words of her pediatrician) her middle name was "take it out".  No bother with biopsies this time; straight to surgery.  This time it was just the scar growing out.  End result, Jessie had a smaller scar, making it easier to hide under her hair.

      Then she was fifteen and trying out for the track team.  She pulled something and had to have an x-ray.  What we didn't expect was a black spot showing up near the end of her thighbone, pretty much into the hip socket.  More tests and more x-raying and nuclear imaging and the doctors were divided.  One thought it was nothing; his partner was sure that it was osteosarcoma.  We had gone through cancer scares before, but this time it hit us even harder.  It took several weeks of putting on a brave face before we could get her into Boston Children's Hospital for an examination.  After an eternity, the head of oncology came out to meet us.  His first words, "It's not osteosarcoma."  Apparently it was a calcium deposit that had "pearled" over, something not common but not unheard of either.  You often hear about tears of joy; we had them for the rest of that day.

     Of course, Jessie had to give us much more grief along the way.  Like the time when Kitty had cooked a turkey and had just poured the hot, bubbling grease into a pot, telling Jessie to not touch.  Of course a five-year old wlould touch and spilled the entire pot of grease on her.  With seconds, we had stripped her down and Kitty was using the kitchen hose on her while I filled the tub with cold water.  We wrapped her in a blanket and rushed to the emergency room.  She looked pretty blue by the time we got there -- of course she was naked on a cold night and had just been taken from an ice-cold tub.  The emergency room staff credited Kitty's quick thinking for reducing the seriousness of the burns.  Jessie did end up with several first, second, and third degree burns, but the were so small that only she, her mother, and her pediatrician would ever be able to find it.  And the emergency room doctor sternly told Jessie, "The next time Mommy says don't touch, don't touch!"

     Of course there was also the last day of junior high school, which the school had declared a field day.  We got a call from the school adminstration, asking us to come down immediately because out duahgter had been stabbed.  The drive to the school aged us about twenty years.  Turns out a boy from their class was waving a sharp object about and accidently stabbed Jessie in the hand.  A minor cut, thank God.

     I did not have grey hair before Jessie was born.

     Looking back, that wasn't too much grief and it was completely outweighed by her smile, her beautiful soul, her snarky sense of humor, her inquisitive mind, and her amazing talents.  From a tiny girl dressed up in a baby duck costume for her first dance recital, to the self-assured child at her first piano recital, to the young lady who went off to Japan as a foreign exchange student and to Austria and Germany and to England on trips with the high school band, she has always made us proud

     In high school she, her sister, and a friend started a program designed to integrate special needs students into the social life of the school.  (It was amusing to watch Jessie try to explain what was happening during a footbal game to a blind student, and one mother broke out in tears, saying she never thought he would be able to attend a prom.)  We found out later that the program was written up nationally.

     From junior high school, she had volunteered at a neighborhood professional theater.  When a woman had an epileptic seizure in the theater lobby, Jessie calmly ringed off the woman and her caretaker with stanchions and firmly kept onlookers away.  Her attention to detail and friendly manner caused a recruiter from the Air Force Academy to offer his full support if she wanted to attend.  She learned to defuse awkward situations.  She became friendly with a number of professional (and award-winning) actors from Broadway, film, and television.

     Our proudest moments with Jessie were ones that we wished had never happened.  Her husband -- the love of her life -- died of an unexpected heart attack at the age of 31.  She was a sudden widow with two girls, 7 and 9.  Michael died three months before Jessie would have been eligible for widow's benefits from Social Security.  He was not insured; the application for his work insurance was still in his car and he hadn't got around to turning it in.  That evening Jessie and the girls moved from their three-bedroom townhouse into our two-bedroom apartment.  Jessie's patience and care for the girls while she herself was in deep mourning was impressive.  To make a new start, we all moved to Southern Maryland where Jessie worked hard to make her children fit in.  She became active in their school.  She coached Ceili's lacrosse team.  When the girls became active in the local Sea Scouts, she stepped in as a leader.  She drove Amy all over Southern Maryland for swimming practices and meets.  All this time, she also worked at a number of jobs (and for a number of companies that closed during these hard economic times).  She took classes at local colleges and on-line.

     A year and a half ago, she decided it was time that she struck out on her own.   She and the girls moved back to Massachusetts, to the town where she grew up.  It was scary, being some 500 miles away from her support group; she reconnected with some high school friends but they are only able to get together once in a while.  Our house became empty.  Not only were Jessie and the girls gone, the was a dreadful silence of none of their friend around.  Jessie also took the two dumbest pugs in the world with her, so we didn't even have those to play with.   

     One of Jessie's greatest talents is the ability to get a job, anywhere, any time.  She began working in the accounting office of a large hotel.  Turns out the owner of the hotel had driven it into bankruptcy.  Without warning, the hotel closed and Jessie was out of a job.  Luckily she got a phone call a week later asking her to come back to work.  A major corporation had bought the hotel and was willing to invest a good hunk of change to make it profitable again.  So Jessie got a promotion, a healthy raise, and a lot more responsibility.  In the meantime, she's still taking classes and is spending time with her daughters.

     I am not able to express how proud I am of her and how much I love her.

     I am, however, trying to devise ways to get her to move back in with us. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


It's National Tell a Joke Day!  Here's a couple for those easily amused:

Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?
Because it was dead!

A man walked into a bar...and it hurt!

(I didn't say it was National Tell a Good Joke Day.)

Monday, August 15, 2011


There's nothing like a B western and Tex Ritter did a passle of them, like this 1937 oater.  Tex sings a few songs, fights a few fights, and wins the day.  The draw to this flick, IMHO, is Al "Fuzzy" St. John being a bit more than a humorous sidekick.  The guy could ride and fight.


For more Overlooked Films and/or A/V/, saunter on over to Sweet Freedom, where Todd Mason will guide you to some amazing posts.


I tried to be really good this week, honest.  Then my wife asked me to pull into a Habitat for Humanity ReStore to look for a table.  She couldn't find the right table, but they had...books!
  • Brian Aldiss, editor, Galactic Empires, Volume Two.  SF collection of twelve stories.
  • Alex Austin, The Guardians #4:  Night of the Phoenix and #9:  Vengeance Day.  Post-Apocalyptic men's adventure novels.
  • David Baldacci, Split Second.  Thriller.
  • B. W. Battin, The Creep.  Psycho killer novel.
  • Max Brand, The False Rider.  Western.
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  [See Felicia Hemans.]
  • Algis Budrys, Hard Landing.  SF.
  • Jerome Charyn, The Education of Patrick Silver.  Crime novel, final book in the trilogy beginning with Marilyn the Wild and Blue Eyes.
  • C. Terry Cline, Jr., Damon.  Horror.
  • "Kit Craig" (Kit Reed), Gone.  Thriller.
  • Peter David, Babylon 5:  In the Beginning.  TV tie-in, base on the screenplay by J. Michael Straczynski.
  • Gardner Dozois, editor, The Year's Best Science Fiction:  Tenth Annual Collection.  SF anthology, with 24 stories from 1992.
  • Stanley Ellin, Kindly Dig Your Grave and Other Wicked Stories.  Mystery collection of eleven stories, edited by Ellery Queen.  Number six in the digest-sized single author collections put out by Davis Publications in conjunction with Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.
  • Linda Fairstein, Cold Hit.  Thriller. 
  • Ken Grimwood, Breakthrough.  Horror.
  • Felicia Hemans, Songs of the Affections.  Poetry.  This is a leather bound book published in 1878 by Burlock & Co. (Philadelphia).  The cover gives the title in an elaborate design of birds, flowers, and other plants, with the author's name given as Mrs. Hemans.  The spine, however, only says "Hemans and Browning".   On inspection, it turns out that the last half of the book is Browning's Songs of the Intellect and the Affections, separately paged.  Spine is loose and the front cover worn, but both parts of the book are "elegantly illustrated".  For a quarter, how could I pass this one up?
  • Will Henry, One More River to Cross.  Western.
  • Lois Horowitz, She-Devil. Horror.
  • Robert J. Horton, Riders of Paradise.  Western.
  • William J. Johnstone, The Devil's Touch.  Horror.
  • Jesse Kellerman, Sunstroke.  Thriller.
  • Janet Kidde, The Prophetess.  Horror.  Copyrighted by George Wolk.
  • Chester Krone, Blood Wrath.  Horror.
  • Louis L'Amour, Where the Long Grass Blows.  Western.
  • William A. Lucky, The English Horses.  Western.
  • George MacBeth, Cadbury & The Born Losers.  Sexy spy novel, the third in the series; also published as The Born Losers.
  • Harold MacGrath, The Private Wire to Washington, The Inside Story of the Great Long Island Spy Mystery that Baffled the Secret Service.  1919 romantic spy-guy thriller by an early mystery writer.
  • George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones.  Epic Fantasy, Volume 1 in the massive tree-killing series.
  • George McBeth, Cadbury & The Born Losers.  Sexy spy novel, third in the series, also published as The Born Losers.
  • Andy McDermott, The Covenant of Genesis and The Tombs of Hercules.  Two thrillers about archeologist Nina Wilde and bodyguard Eddie Chase.
  • Brian McNaughton, Satan's Mistress.  Horror.
  • Andre Norton & Lyn McConchie, Ciara's Song.  SF/fantasy.  A Witch World novel.
  • T. Jefferson Parker, Summer of Fear.  Thriller.
  • Bruce Pascoe & Lyn Harwood, editors, Australian Short Stores, No. 22 (1988).  Quarterly magazine from Down Under, Mate.
  • David Peters, Psi-Man:  Mind-Force Warrior.  SF, first in a series.
  • [Don Pendleton's ghostwriters], Don Pendletons's The Executioner #167:  Double Action (ghosted by Ron Renauld), #198:  Shoot Down (ghosted by Michael Kasner), #306:  Mercy Mission (ghosted by Tim Somheil), #361:  Final Resort (ghosted by Michael Newton), Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan, The Executioner #85:  Sunscream (ghosted by Peter Leslie), #113:  Vietnam Fallout (ghosted by Charlie McDade), #120:  Border Sweep (ghosted by Charlie McDade), Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan:  Blood Strike (unnumbered, ghosted by Mike Newton), Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan:  Stony Man #26:  Flashback (ghosted by Michael Linaker), Don Pendleton's Stony Man #66:  Axis of Conflict (ghosted by Dan Schmidt), #68:  Outbreak (ghosted by Michael Kasner), and #104:  Extinction Crisis (ghosted by Douglas P. Wojtowicz).  Men's adventure.  Never-ending. 
  • Tom Savage, Valentine.  Thriller.
  • John Shirley, In Darkness Waiting.  Horror.  [Sorry, but I gotta:  "And don't call me Shirley!"]
  • Eleanor Sullivan, editor, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, December 1975, July 1976, August 1977, and September 1979 issues.
  • Paula Trachtman, Disturb Not the Dream.  Horror.
  • Gore Vidal, Kalki.  SF thriller.
  • R. R. Walters, Ludlow's Mill.  Horror.
  • Edward Whittemore, Sinai Tapestry.  Fiction with touches of strangeness.
  • Mona Williams, The Messenger.  Horror.

Friday, August 12, 2011


From Orange County, California, comes the news that Marie Kolstad, an 83-year old grandmother, underwent three hours of surgery for breast implants.  Mrs. Kolstad also opted for breast lifts.  She told reporters that she did it to "keep up with the kids."  (The fact that she has been a widow for ten years and may be on the prowl has nothing to do with it, IMHO.)

    More at the link.


I hope Evan Lewis caught last night's Daily Show with an interview with Michael Wallis, author of David Crockett.


Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales by Norman Partridge

Norman Partridge burst onto the horror scene in 1989.  After a number of small-press magazine stories, his first collection, Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales was published in 1992.  Get this:  It won a Bram Stoker Award for best collection.  Now also get this:  The book was published by Roadkill Press (a small venture by Doug and Tomi Lewis, owners of Colorado's Little Bookshop of Horrors) in an edition of only 500 copies.

     Look at the previous winners in that category:  Harlan Ellison, Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, and Dan Simmons.  Impressive?  Hell, yeah.  Let's look at all the others who have won in that category since:  (alphabetically) Michael Arzen, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Gary Braunbeck, Ramsey Campbell, Jonathan Carroll, Douglas Clegg, Joe Hill, Jack Ketchum, Thomas Ligotti, Thomas F. Monteleone, Gene O'Neil, John Shirley, and Karl Edward Wagner.  Oh, and that Stephen King guy won two more times; no one else has won the award more than once.  Wait a minute.  Who wrote The Man With the Barbed Wire Fists? the collection that won the Stoker in 2001?  That's right, Norman Partridge.  He and Stephen King are the only multiple winners in that category.

     All of which is to show that Partridge has the chops.  He can write with the eye of a poet while his razor sharp prose slices into the depths of your brain.  Much of his work is the quiet horror espoused by Charles L. Grant; but he can run as wild and wooly as Joe R. Lansdale and be as enigmatical as Robert Aickman.  In short, each individual Patridge story is a pleasure.

     When Mr. Fox first came out it collected seven stories, five original and two previous published in small-press magazines.  In 2005, Subterranean Press released a vastly expanded edition, adding eleven stories, a novel excerpt, a couple of articles, and extensive commentary by the author.  The subtitle to the 2005 edition is "A Collection, a Recollection, a Writer's Handbook".  Throughout the book, Patridge introduces stories, chronicles his experience as an up-and-coming writer, and offers insights into the arts of writing and marketing prose.  The commentary alone is worth the price of the book.

     Here's the line-up of the original collection:
  • Mr. Fox
  • The Baddest Son of a Bitch in the House
  • Black Leather Kites (from Chills #5)
  • Save the Last Dance for Me (from Cemetery Dance #2)
  • Sandprint
  • Vessels
  • In Beauty, Like the Night
     And the stories added to the 2005 edition:
  • Body Bags (from Grue #15)
  • Cosmos (from Nectulpa #4)
  • Stackalee (from Cemetery Dance #15)
  • Tooth & Nail (from Palace Corbie #5)
  • The Entourage (from Thunder's Shadow #4)
  • Kiss of Death  (an excerpt)
  • Treats (from Blood Review #4)
  • Velvet Fangs (from Haunts #25)
  • Cuidado! [Sorry, I can't do the Hispanic reverse exclamation at the begiining of the title.]  (from Chilled to the Bone, edited by Robert T. Garcia)
  • When the Fruit Comes Ripe (from Grue #17)
  • Walkers (from Not One of Us #8)
  • The Season of Giving (written with Richard T. Chizmar, from Santa Clues, edited by Martin H. Greenberg)
     Finally, Subterranean Press put out a lettered edition of 26 copies with the following stories and articles added:
  • The Oldest Story in the Book
  • At the Battlements of Bannockburn (from Tales of Cruachan #1)
  • Ten Fingers of Death
  • Style of the Mantis
  • Man, I Just Work Here
  • Wind-Chimes
  • Cutting to the Chase
  • Satan's Army
  • My Favorite Rejection Slip
     No matter which edition of Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales you read, you're in for a treat.


     Ringmaster Todd Mason is riding herd on Friday's Forgotten Books this week while Patti Abbott is on walkabout.  Join Todd at his blog Sweet Freedom.

Thursday, August 11, 2011



Today is the birthday of the one man I loved and respected more than anyone else.  My father would have been 95.

     One of nine children born to a truck farmer,  he dropped out of high school during the second half of his senior year to work full-time on a farm.  The principal of the school tried to pull him back in and they finally came to an agreement that he would attend school one day every two weeks and he would be allowed to graduate.  I have pictures of him working a field behind a horse and plow and of him driving a wagon load of manure.  By the time he married my mother, be had become a partner in the farm; we lived in one half of the farmhouse.

     He also loved carpentry.  In 1949, he built a house on spec in his spare time.  It sold.  He built another and another and another.  Soon he had a small crew for his part-time business and had a reputation for quality work.  In 1955, his partner in the farm retired and my father went full-time as a building contractor, specializing in custom built homes.  He was a likeable bear of a man.  He gave a no-questions-asked one year guarantee on his work -- something unheard of in our area.  He stayed loyal to his crew, buying houses to renovate and sell on spec during slow times; often spending his personal funds for salaries, rather than laying people off during those slow cash flow days.  He never bothered with a contract -- every deal was sealed with a handshake. His hand was his bond.  In over thirty years of business, only one client tried to take advantage of that.

     He was one of those people who seemed to be born to do good.  When a brother-in-law died suddenly and when a nephew passed away in an accident, he became a surrogate parent to their children.  After one of his brothers died, he paid the taxes yearly on the house so his sister-in-law could remain living there.  When his younger brother had a chance to move out of bad part of the city, he loaned him money for his new house.

     It didn't stop with family either.  After his death, we learned of some of his many kindnesses.  He helped a young couple buy their first home.  He helped another person go to medical school.  He sold a car to another young man for one dollar so he could afford to travel cross country to a new job.  He bought decent instruments for a local musician so he could begin his professional career.  He became "best buddies" with a four-year old child with leukemia.  He donated materials to the local Boys' Club for their woodworking program.  I spent one Sunday with him repairing a roof for an old lady who had been friends with his parents; he refused any payment and finally settled for a homemade cake, the type he remembered the woman making when he was a child -- a better cake you've never tasted.

     He was active in the community.  He was a Park Commissioner for years.  He was active in Rotary and in the Freemasons.  One year when the local Rotary club spent most of its energy buying and equipping an ambulance for a rural part of India to the expense of some local programs, he resigned from the club, explaining he could not support abandoning some of their local obligations; he also sent them a large check.  They cashed the check, but refused to accept his resignation -- he was too important to the club.  He remained a Rotarian until he died.

     He was a strong man in spirit and in body.  One of my friends remembers a day when my father was working on a foundation.  Someone had stopped to ask for directions.  My father pointed the directions while holding a 16" concrete block from the thumb of the same hand.  His arm never wavered, never shook.

     In our small New England town, the local Unitarian church that overlooked the town common had a large clock tower.  The clock itself was owned by the town and the tower by the church.  When the tower was in need of repairs, my father went to inspect it, along with a representative from the church (a lady in her eighties) and a member of the Board of Selectmen (who had recently recovered from a stroke) -- both were good friends with my family.  (Hey, it was a small town.)  The clock tower hung over the granite steps to the front of the church and the stairs going up the tower were covered with bird poop and were dangerous.  (The man assigned by the town to wind the clock on a regular basis hated going up those stairs and kept trying to get me to do the job for him.)  Anyway, the trio had almost made it to the top when my father vanished, the victim of those slippery stairs.  He fell down the height of the tower, crashed through the overhang, and landed on the granite steps.  The impact tore one kidney loose from his body.

     At the hospital, he underwent hours of surgery, bottoming out several times, but always coming back.  The damage was extensive, but so was his strength.  Over the coming weeks, nearly every major part of his body failed but he stilled roused himself.  It was a nightmare but even nightmares can have their beneficial side.  We -- family and friends -- had a chance to tell him how much we loved him.  Up until his last few hours he had a chance of recovery, but his strength finally gave out and he died exactly ten weeks from the day of his accident.  When he died he was the same age I am now.

     My father taught me honesty, fairness, responsibility, the importance of a kind heart, the meaning of friendship, the gift of compassion, and so much more.  I have tried to live a life that would make him proud.  And I still miss him every day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I got up at 5:30 this morning. 

Stumbled into the kitchen. 

Eyelids half closed like some reptilian creature.

Bouncing off something (furniture? walls?) like a drunken sailor.

I hate 5:30.

Cat very ticked off. 

Food dish empty. 

Fed cat. 

Stepped on tiny sharp shards of dry cat food scattered willy-nilly over kitchen floor. 

Bare feet. 


Gotta make coffee. 

Caffeine only reason to live this early.

Coffe brewing.

Time to make breakfast.

I have mad culinary skills.

Here's my secret recipe.

Do not copy.

It's patented.


Ingredients:       Box of Rice Crispies

  • Pour cereal into bowl
  • add milk


Maybe I'll stumble back into bed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


...because it never existed.  Ladies and gentlemen, we present the awesomeness that could have been -- ZEPPELIN VS. PTERODACTYLS:


For more awesomeness and Overlooked Film and A/V -- most likely sans zeppelin and sans pterodactyls -- go to Todd Mason's blog Sweet Freedom.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Most of today's generation remember Burl Ives (if at all) for "Holly, Jolly Christmas".  A few of an older generation might remember him for O. K. Crackerby.  Their loss.  Ives was one of the most populoar and influential balladeers of the Twentieth Century.

     Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives (1909-1995) was born in rural Illinois, one of seven children.  Attending college for a teaching career, throwing it in in his Junior year.  He became a wandering singer and got his own radio show in 1940.  During that decade, he did much to popularize folk songs and eventually joined The Almanac Singers.  His acting career began burgeoning in the 50s and he went on to appear in movies, theatre, and television -- and is best known for his role as "Big Daddy" and for his work in animated television cartoons.
All the time he kept singing, recording dozens of albums and single.  His relaxed, comforting tenor voice
was just one of the reasons that Carl Sandburg called Ives America's greatest balladeer.

     Here's a  medley with Johnny Cash from The Johnny Cash Show (1970), beginning with "A Little Bitty Tear" and followed by "Oh Mary, Don't You Weep". "Goober Peas", and "Sweet Lorena":

     The original recording of "Ghost Riders in the Sky":

      You've heard this one from everybody from The Sons of the Pioneers to Frankie Laine, and even Walter Brennan:

     And here's a few songs that we all learned when we were younger:

     "Mexicali Rose":

     "Red Sails in the Sunset":

     This is a lovely song to end with:  Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson's "September Song":

     I hope you have enjoyed these as much as I have.


Lots of good stuff this week, mainly wesrterns and thrillers.  I'm particularly happy with the Thorne Smith and the Hadju.

  • Terrell L. Bowers, Destiny at Broken Spoke.  Western.
  • Max Brand, Don Diablo.  Western collection with  three stories featuring Jim Tyler.  The stories were originally published in Western Story Magazine in 1932 as by "Peter Henry Moreland".
  • "Lyle Brandt" (Mike Newton), The Lawman:  Helltown.  Western, probably the third in the series.
  • Peter Brandtvold, .45-Caliber Fury.  Western, probably the second in a series.
  • Matt Braun, El Paso and The Wild Ones, and Hangman's Creek and Jury of Six.  Westerns with two novels in each omnibus.
  • Lee Child, The Hard Way, One Shot, and Without Fail.  Jack Reacher thrillers.
  • Ralph Compton (actually, Dick Vaughn), Demon's Pass.  Posthumous western, "A Ralph Compton novel by Dick Vaughn."
  • Kit Dalton, Buckskin #13:  Gunpoint and #14:  Lever Action.  Adult westerns.
  • Gardner Dozois and Stanley Schmidt, editors, Roads Not Taken:  Tales of Alternate History.  SF anthology with ten stories, seven from Asimov's Science Fiction and three from Analog Science Fiction and Fact.
  • Frances Fyfield, Not That Kind of Place.  Mystery.
  • David Hadju, The Ten-Cent Plague:  The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America.  Nonfiction.
  • Diana Henstell, The Other Side.  Horror.
  • Jake Logan, Slocum #207:  Blood on the Rio Grande and #213:  Slocum and the Great Southern Hunt.  Adult westerns.
  • John Lutz, Night Kills.  Thriller.
  • Tim Parks, Home Thoughts and Tongues of Flame.  Novels.
  • George P. Pelecanos, Nick's Trip.  A Nick Stefanos Mystery.
  • David Shobin, The Center.  Medical thriller.
  • Brian Scott Smith, When Shadows Fall.  Horror.
  • Thorne Smith, Rain in the Doorway.  Humorous fantasy.  One of the very few Smith books I haven't read.
  • Christopher Stasheff, The Warlock Unlocked and The Warlock Wandering.  Fantasies.
  • Whitley Strieber, Billy.  Thriller, with no grey aliens that I could see.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


...for teenagers, anyway.  Surprisingly done by Bob Dylan in 1961.


It's hymn time.  This was one of my mother's favorites.


The Wild Hog Murders by Bill Crider

The reason I'm smiling is that I just finished visiting some old friends -- Dan Rhodes, his wife Ivy, Hack and Lawton, Ruth Grady, and Seepy Benton -- and I had a great time.  The Wild Hog Murders is Bill Crider's 18th novel about Dan Rhodes, Bucklin County's sheriff.  This is one book that had to be written; Bill has had Texas feral hogs appear in every one of Rhodes's seventeen previous adventures, so it was high time they took center stage.

     A feral hog makes its appearance in the first sentence.  It is hit by the car that Rhodes is chasing, wrecking the car.  The drivers escape and flee into the woods, with Rhodes in pursuit.  Then all hell breaks loose.  In the distance, Rhodes can hear gun shots and dogs howling, then the thunder of a pack of hogs coming his way.  Rhodes runs back, almost making it to safety, when the hogs charge his car.  One puts a good sized dent in the car before rushing off.  The stampede rushes around the car and vanishes into the woods on the other side of the road.

     There's something you've got to understand about feral hogs:  they are mean and deadly and almost impossible to stop.  A pistol isn't much good against them; you need some heavy-duty firepower to stop those suckers.  Their tusks are long and razor sharp, all the better to slice you open in a heartbeat.  And they're big -- two or three hundred pounds (or more) of muscle and bad temperment.  And they can be stubborn in their rage.  The hog that had been hit by the fugitive's Ford focus was merely stunned.  And pissed off.  It charged the car again, causing more damage, before it literally battered itself to death.

      With the hogs gone, Rhodes again goes into the woods in search of the pair that had fled.   He finds the driver dead, shot in the chest, without a trace of his accomplice.  What started as a simple convenience store theft and chase turns into a complex mystery involving another murder, a band of hog hunters, a pair of do-good animal activists, Arkansas bank robbers, a famous bounty hunter fugitive recovery agent, a small-town radio talk show instigator, a county commissioner with terrible ideas, motorcycle outlaws Rapper and Nellie, and a man stealing the identity of a person who had died over thirty years before.  Along the way, we also get treated to some Dr. Pepper (the good stuff, the ones made with real sugar, and that Rhodes has to order through the internet), undertaker Clyde Ballinger's love of paperback mysteries (this time, some good ones from Hard Case Crime), Seepy Benton's philosophizing (and singing) (and a tad of the Fibonacci sequence), the menangery that Rhodes and Ivy live with, hamburgers (with mustard [!?!], because Texans don't know that hamburgers should have ketchup and onions, IMHO), some good old fashioned barbeque, and meatless meatloaf.

     Once again, Bill Crider mixes humor and adventure with a sharp eye toward small-town life and what makes it work.  Dan Rhodes is an honorable and likeable Everyman and his travails and victories resonate with the reader.

     Highly recommended.  And when are we going to see book nineteen?

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Since the previous post featured my favorite folk group of the 60s, I thought I'd present my almost favorites.

     Here's The Limelighters, with Glenn Yarborough singing The Far Side of the Hill:

     And a clip with the trio doing Wabash Cannonball, Whistle and Make the Wind Blow, and Lonesome Traveler:

     And Those Were the Days:

     The Kingston Trio does Seasons in the Sun:

    They didn't have to worried to sing a worried son:

     This clip is of the last performance Nick, Bob, and John peformed together.  Here they do MTA.  Sadly their voices have faded, but their enthusiasm has not.  Following this is another clip from that performance of them doing Where Have All the Flowers Gone; unfortunately, this clip cuts off in the middle of the song.

      Back to younger and headier days, here's the trio with Mary Travers, doing Where Have All the Flowers Gone?:

      Which is a great segue to the other super-folk group of the 60s -- Peter, Paul and Mary.  Here they do Early Morning Rain:

      Day Is Done with a little help from their friends The Smothers Brothers, Donovan, and Jennifer Warnes:

     And one of the anthems for our time, The Wedding Song, which Noel Paul Stookey wrote for Peter Yarrow's wedding.  What a special gift!

     My memories of the 60s are mixed:  a time of horror and a time of hope.  Then, as now, The Times, They Are A-Changin':

     Lou Gottlieb is gone, Glenn Yarborough has a solo career and sometimes performs with his daughter Holly, and The Limelighters kept on with many member changes.  They still perform, and Alex Hassilov has rejoined the group.

     All of the original members of The Kingston Trio are also gone, but the group (with variopus members over the years) is still performing their original catalog, and doing it well.

    Mary Travers has also left us, so Peter, Paul and Mary are no more.  Noel Stookey and Peter Yarrow are still performing, sometimes together.  When they appear together, Noel often tries to get Peter to break out in laughter -- it's a joyous thing to watch.  Peter's daughter Bethany is now performing.

    The circle continues and we are left with our memories of the past and our dreams of the future.  These brilliant musicians will forever remain a part of both.


Of all the popular folk groups of the 1960s, I was torn between The Limelighters and The Chad Mitchell Trio as my very favorite.  (The Kingston Trio came in at third place -- sorry, Bill Crider.)  Now, looking back in my dotage, first place is securely held by The Chad Mitchell Trio.  The original group consisted of college students Chad Mitchell, Mike Kobluk, and Mike Pugh.  In 1960, Pugh left to continue his education and Joe Fraiser joined the troop.  Mitchell himself left in 1965 to pursue a career as a cabaret singer; he was replaced by then-unknown John Denver, with the group rechristianed as The Mitchell Trio.  A year later, Frazier left to be replaced by David Boise.  When Mike Kobluk left the group, he was replaced by Michael Johnson and the group was then called Denver, Boise and Johnson, having lost the legal right to the Mitchell name.  The group disbanded shortly afterward and John Denver went on to firmly establish himself as an American and international superstar.

     (One of the 150 people to audition for Mike Pugh's original spot was a young Tom Paxton, who actually sang with them very briefly.  Manager Milt Okun felt that Paxton's voice was not the right fit for the Trio, but the Trio did begin to record some of his songs and Okun signed Paxton as the first writer for his publishing house Cherry Tree Music -- a move that Paxton credits as one of the most important in his career.  Among the many awards and honors that Paxton received was a lifetime tribute concert in 2008 honoring his 70th birthday from The World Folk Music Association; among the many artists that honored Paxton that night was...The Chad Mitchell Trio.)

     Because none of the trio could play an instument, their backup players were an important part of their success.  Over the years, these included a young Roger McGuinn (back when he was known as "Jim"), Erik Darling, Fred Hellerman, Bruce Langhorne, and Paul Prestopino.

     As mentioned above, Chad Mitchell had a career as a cabaret singer and had several solo albums.  Mike Kobluk went on the become an arts adminstrator in Washington state.  Joe Frazier became an Episcopal minister.

     In 1987, The Chad Mitchell Trio reemerged in a PBS special reunion concert with special guest John Denver.  The link below covers just a bit of that concert with Chad, Mike, and Joe singing Four
Strong Winds
and with John joining Mike and Joe to sing For Baby (For Bobbi).  The Trio reunited for several other concerts over the years.  I understand it took Doris Justis (one half of the very talented group Side by Side) to convince them to come together on a semi-permanent basis.  Their 2009 50th anniversary tour was an amazing success.  (Kitty and I were fortunate to catch one of these shows, also featuring Side by Side's 25th anniversary performance and Tom Paxton.  The six of them together on the stage...just Wow!)

     Here's the link.  I'm not sure who two of the back-up players are, but the one with the beard is Paul Prestopino, without the brightly colored overalls he's worn every time I've seen him perform live.

     For impeccable harmony, social conscience, diversity of material, and love of their craft, The Chad Mitchell Trio is hard to beat.

     And, dammit, John  Denver was taken away from us way too soon.

Friday, August 5, 2011


I came across this compilation by such artists as The Birmingham Jug Band, Kansas Joe & Memphis Minnie, Clarence Ashley (doing Naomi Wise), and United Steel Workers of Montreal.  The songs cover the gamut from Tom Dooley to the Spanish Armada.

But if you're going to include disaster songs, you really should include Mighty Day:


It's no secret that I like books, or that I like the older stuff.  I prefer to read stories as originally presented rather than those that have been abridged or "edited for modern readers".  (I also try to avoid network presentations of movies that have been "edited for television".  Grrrrr.)  Usually I'm rewarded by coming close to the author's original intention/work -- something that is important to me.  There are times, however, when I can't get past the clunkiness of the writing or the attempt to infuse a story with then-current jargon or what at the time were the latest technology.  Case in point, John Berryman's 1939 short story Special Flight.

     Special Flight originally appeared in the May 1939 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, and has been reprinted several times, in Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest's Spectrum, in David Hartwell's The World Treasury of Science Fiction, and perhaps elsewhere.  The author was 20 years old in 1939 and this was evidently his first SF story.  I read it in the Amis/Conquest 1961 collection.

     The story is very simple:  There has been an accident on a mining base on the moon.  The surviving men on the base have a limited amount of oxygen left because the equipment that provides the oxygen has been buried.  A spaceship crew that has just returned to Earth must deliver a tractor that the base can use to clear the rubble to the moon.  The crew is tired, the ship has not been refurbished, and a deadly meteor shower lies between them and the 102 trapped miners.

     The story reads like it was written in the late 1950s.  I suspect it has been updated for the Amis/Conquest volume, but, if so, there's no indication on the copyright page.  (If it was not updated, then it is truly a technological tour de force.) 

     "The calculator itself, built by International Business Machines, could relay its information to the auto pilot in the event of a collision threatened..."

     An interesting tale.


First off, this has nothing to do with the title character from Robert E. Heinlein's story The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag. 

     Jonathan E. Hoag was born in 1831 on a farmhouse in rural New York.  I haven't been able to find out much about him.  He was pretty much self-educated and, although he attended a local academy, I'm not sure if he graduated.  He wrote poetry, articles, and letters to the editor, often using the pen name "Scriba",  and most of his early work has been destroyed.  He outlived three wives, having one child by each of them (two girls and one boy).  He was a mainstay of the Prohibition Party.  For a while, he traveled the country and met Geronimo.  In 1915 he discovered amateur journalism and was an active participant in that field.  During his last years he lived with his son and family, being especially taken with his youngest grandchild, Martha.  Always active, he died at age 96 of the result of a fall from a ladder.

     His poetry was simple and straightforward.  He would have been forgotten, I'm sure, except for this book and for his connection to H. P. Lovecraft.  Lovecraft wrote several poems in his honor (included in this book) and supposedly edited the book.  He revised an article he wrote on Hoag for an amateur journal to serve as the forward to the book.

     The Poetic Works of Jonathan Hoag contains all poems published from 1915 through the date of publication, 1923, plus one earlier piece.  The seventy-five poems are divided into nine sections:  Songs of Home, of Childhood, of War and Country, of Friendship, of  "Scriba", of Sorrow, of the Tepee, of Nature, and of Far Vistas.  There is also an appendix of thirteen appreciations, ten of them -- including six by Lovecraft -- in poetic form.

     The book appears to have been published by the author and has his photograph as a frontispiece, a hale-looking bearded man with flowing white hair.

     It's an interesting (and short, just 67 pages, not including indices) book.  The poems are pleasant, if not memorable.  It's the work of a man who was born when Andrew Jackson was president and whose grandmother shared with him her recollections of the Revolutionary and the French and Indian (!) Wars.

     It's available online at Internet Archive if you are interested in a free look-see.


     For more (and newer) Fridays Forgotten Books, check out Patti's Abbott's blog Pattinase.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


From December 12, 1950, an episode of The Adventures of Ellery Queen, starring Richard Hart as Ellery Queen. Rounding out the cast are Sono Osato, Kurt Katch, Frank Tweddell, Raymond Bramley, and Don Kennedy.  Rex Marshal was the announcer.  Directed by Donald Richardson and written by Gilbert Braun from the short story written by Ellery Queen.  This one was the thirteenth episode in the series, which ran from 1950 to 1952 for (by my count) 91 episodes, the first two season on the Dumont Network with a third, shorter, season on ABC..  About a month after this episode aired, Richard Hart died of a heart attack and Lee Bowman took over the EQ role.

     When watching, please remember that television was in its early days back then.

     Gotta get me a Kaiser automobile.


One of the truly great ensemble folk groups.  I've been listening to them in preparation for a concert by Gordon Bok in September.


A great song.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


The Roy Rogers Show ran for 100 episodes from 1951 to 1956.  Although not a lawman, Roy and Trigger brought justice to Mineral City while Dale reminded us that two wrongs don't make a right.  Like many kids, I didn't much care for Dale, but Roy and Pat Brady and Nellie Belle -- especially Nellie Belle -- were cool.

Here's an episode from 1952, Outlaw's Girl:

Lyle Lovett expressed my feelings about Dale in one of the stanzas in this song:

Happy trails to youtil we meet again.


As usual, Todd Mason has a roundup of other Overlooked A/V at his blog Sweet Freedom.

Monday, August 1, 2011


A good week.

  • Greg Bear, The Forge of God.  Science fiction.
  • Marc Cerasimi, 24 Declassified:  Trojan Horse.  TV tie-in.
  • Tim Cockey, Murder in the Hearse Degree.  Mystery.
  • Stephen Colbert, among others, I Am America (And So Can You!).  Humor.
  • Michael Crichton, Travels.  Nonfiction.
  • Michael Gilbert, The Night of the Twelfth.  Mystery.
  • Caroline Graham, The Killing at Badger's Drift.  Mystery, the first Inspector Barnaby novel.
  • Bob Hamilton, Gene Autry and the Thief River Outlaws.  Whitman juvenile western featuring you know who.
  • Joe L. Hensley, A Killing in Gold.  A Robak mystery.
  • Ryerson Johnson, Mississippi Flame. Novel, expanded from the 1946 story "Dry-Land Pirate" in Short Stories Magazine.
  • William W. Johnstone, Flames for the Ashes, D-Day in the Ashes, Betrayal in the Ashes, and Slaughter in the Ashes.  Numbers 18, 20, 21 and 23 in the post-apocalyptic series.
  • Barry B. Longyear, Circus World.  Science fiction collection of seven stories.
  • Cynthia Manson, editor, Murder Under the Mistletoe and Other Stories.  Fifteen holiday stories selected from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.
  • Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner, Juggler of Worlds.  Science fiction.  A Known Space novel.
  • Jack Pearl, The Space Eagle:  Operation Doomsday.  Whitman juvenile science fiction, considered by some to be one of the worst SF books ever published.  The story is by Jack Pearl, based upon characters and settings by Raymond J. Meuer and developed by Meurer-Preston-Austion, Inc.  I have no idea what this means; I presume this is a tie-in, but I can't find anything to tie it to!  There was at least one other space Eagle book published by Whitman, supposedly equally as bad.
  • Tom Piccirilli, The Midnight Road.  Suspense.
  • "Darren Shan", The Demonata, Book 4:  Bec.  YA fantasy/horror.
  • Robert Silverberg, The Alien Years.  Science fiction.
  • Daniel Stashower, The Beautiful Cigar Girl:  Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder.  Nonfiction/true crime.
  • Tim Sullivan, V:  The New England Resistance.  TV tie-in from the original series.
  • Jeff Todd Titon, editor, Downhome Blues Lyrics:  An Anthology from the Post-World War II Era.  Some great lyrics here, such as Lightnin' Leon's Repossession Blues, here done by Billy Riley:
  • Jon Tuska, editor, The American West.  Western anthology of twenty stories.
  • Lionel White, Clean Break.  Mystery.
  • Charles Williford, The Woman Chaser.  Crime