Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, March 31, 2012


We're off to Pittsburgh with our daughter and her kids to take in the Aquarium and the Zoo and whatever else that city may have to offer.  Back soon.  In the meantime, there are a few things in the queue.


Shrink, mystery author, storyteller...Liz Zelvin is a lady of many talents, not the least of them is musical.

Outrageous Older Woman, her just-released CD, is warm, funny, thought-provoking, and sincere.  As a performer she reminds me of the late, great Malvina Reynolds -- high praise indeed.

The link below will get you to samples of each song in the CD.  Try them, like them, buy them.  And have a happy day.

And here's Liz singing The Long Black Veil (and playing on J. A. Jance's guitar!) in 2009.

Friday, March 30, 2012


The Man Who Fell to Earth (1963) by Walter S. Tevis

So, Stephen King has a new book coming out, The Wind Through the Keyhole, a stand-alone, if you wil,l to his massive Dark Tower series, -- which has absolutely nothing to do with the book we are condering here.  But, since I have King's newest book on order, I felt it behooved me to finish the original series before tackling TWTTK.  I had stopped reading the original series with Book Three, where Blaine the Mono was about to crash everybody to hell and gone.  Over the last year or so I got back to the series and read Books Four, Five, and Six -- which only left Book Seven, the doorstopper The Dark Tower, which I read last week.

     Anyway, after slowly reading that detailed eight-hundred pound gorilla, I needed something much, much smaller to cleanse my reading palate.  Now we come to the book in question.  A hundred sixty pager I had been meaning to read for a lo-o-o-ong time.  Not only have I not read this before, but I have never seen the David Bowie movie.  I was coming into this fresh.

     The Man Who Fell to Earth is Thomas Jerome Newton, one of the few surviving natives of the planet Anthea.  Where once his planet hosted three intelligent species, only 300 of his own people survive; Anthea has become a barren, used-up world, with little energy sources and little water.  The planet had enough resources left to power a small craft and bring Newton to Earth, where Newton could used Earth's resources and Anthea's technology to built a rescue ship which could bring his remaining people to Earth.

     Although humanoid, Newton's physiognomy differs greatly from humanklind, as does his level of intelligence.  Landing in Kentucky, he follows a secret plan to get money to finance the building of the transport ship.  With the help of a savvy Southern lawyer, Newton quickly builds a financial empire based on marketing his native technology.   He soon develops his only two human friendships:  first with Betty Jo, a kind-hearted and unschooled alcoholic, then with Nathan Bryce, a fuel engineer who suspects something unearthly about Newton.

     Because of planetary alignments, Newton has only five years from landing on Earth to complete and launch his spaceship.  But even a few years on Earth can take a toll.  Newton develops a drinking problem.  His purpose wavers.  He knows enough about human nature and about destructive technologies to be he is positive the human race will destroy itself without Anthean intervention.

     Things come to a head when Newton is detained by the CIA, who have discovered that he is an alien.  Bureaucratic incompetence and national jealousies lead to Newton's inadvertent torture and the detention of Betty Jo and Nathan.  Newton has a choice to make that will determine the fate of both his race and that of Earth.

     The Man Who Fell to Earth is a quick, smooth read and a damned good one.  Written in 1963, it's as relevent today as when it was published.  Despite the premise, all the characters come off as real; their faults and their good points make for sympathetic reading.

     Tevis is also well-known for two other novels that were made into movie, The Hustler and The Color of Money.

     This one is a keeper.  Recommended.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


The British tradition of Morris Dancing has always fascinating us.  Nobody seems to know the origin or the reason for this eight century old (or older) tradition.  Until now.

     Kitty just found the following on the website of The Maroon Bells Morris Dancers:

          We do it all day, we do it all night,
          because it is, a fertility rite!
          That and the beer.
          And it helps preserve a very old tradition,
          much like drinking beer.
          And it embarasses our offspring,
          which we laugh about while drinking beer.
          And it's more fun than aerobics,
          which means we can drink more beer.
          And it makes us attractive to the opposite sex,
          so we can drink beer together.
          And it's a social activity,
          which includes drinking beer.

     Can't argue with that.

     Speaking of Morris Dancing, there's some good mysteries on the subject out there.  Janet Rudolph explains:


Another great one gone.  Earl Scruggs passed away yesterday at age 88.

Here are some memories.

Thank you for the sweet, sweet music, Earl.


As a kid I loved watching Dennis Day's appearances on The Jack Benny Show.  He had a warmth and a naivity that I found refreshing.  And he could sing.  (Something I have never been able to do without angering any and all cats within hearing range.)

A Day in the Life of Dennis Day aired on the radio Saturday evenings from 1946 to 1951.  Day played a naive (of course) soda jerk who rented from his girlfriend's parents.  He usually managed to get in two songs per show with his clear Irish tenor.  Then on Sundays, the following evenings, Day joined Jack Benny, Rochester, and the gang for Benny's regular show.

The link below will take you to 48 episodes of A Day in the Life of Dennis Day.  Settle down, listen to a couple, and enjoy your Day.  (See, I made a pun there.  I did, I did.  Aren't I clever?)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Today marks the 100th birthdays of two talented writers.
Australian SF writer and ship's captain A. Bertram Chandler was best known for his stories set in the Galactic Rim, including those about Captain John Grimes.  Chandler took his nautical knowledge and showed us that there really is a "sea" of space.  I still sometimes use the phrase from his stories, "This is Liberty Hall; you can spit on the mat and call the cat a bastard."  Baen Books has been republishing much of Chandler's work; the 480-page collection Ride the Star Wind will be released next week.

Lucille Fletcher wrote the popular Edgar-winning Sorry, Wrong Number, both as a play and as a bestselling novel.  The book was adapted for film at least seven times over the last 65 years, perhaps most notably in the 1948 version starring Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster.  Alfred Hitchcock (actually his ghost editor, Robert Arthur) included the novel in his anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories Not for the Nervous.  Although certainly not the first, Fletcher helped pave the way for the acceptance of women as creators of top-rate suspense. Lucille Fletcher was married twice, first to composer Bernard Herrmann (that marriage ended when Herrmann had an affarir with Fletcher's cousin), then to Douglas Wallop, author of Damn Yankees!, the musical based on his book The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant.

Both authors are highly recommentded.  There must have been something very special in the air on March 28, 1912.


I was listening the other day to a Guy van Duser album.  It made me happy.  Bet his American finger style will make you happy also.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I never caught any of the Red Ryder films when I was a kid but I remember him (and Little Beaver, of course) from the comic books.

     Of all the actors playing the role of Red Ryder I am partial to Wild Bill Elliott, but only because my father's accountant was named Bill Elliot.  Among the actors who make this 1944 oater memorable are Glenn Strange and Duncan Renaldo.  Strange was a fixture in western films but was probably best known for playing Frankenstein's monster in three films; he was also a regular on television's Gunsmoke and he played Butch Cavendish (a.k.a., the guy who started it all) on television's The Lone Ranger.  Duncan Renaldo, of course was The Cisco Kid and one of my personal heroes.

     Bill Elliott was born Gordon Nance and went by name Gordon Elliott his early career.  His career soared in the title role in The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, a fifteen-chapter serial in 1939; he then went by "Wild Bill."  Elliot was one of the many B-movie western stars whose popularity eventually faded.  During the 1950s he was a television pitchman for Viceroy cigarettes; less than a dozen years later he was dead from lung cancer.

     Most people today connect Red Ryder with the Red Ryder BB Gun from Jean Sheperd's A Christmas Story.  The character began as a comic strip in 1938 and grew in popularity to include comic books, Big Little Books, movies, a radio show, and a gazillion tie-in promotional products such as the BB gun.  There were Red Ryder-sponsored rodeos and pow-wows and Red Ryder brand clothing and lunch boxes and just about everything else.  For two decades Red Ryder held the imagination of young boys in sway.

     Adding to his popularity was Red Ryder's sidekick, the Indian boy Little Beaver, who by today's standard is horribly non-PC.  In the Bill Elliott movies (and in the later films with Allan "Rocky" Lane) Little Beaver was played by Bobby Blake, one-time Our Gang character, later to play Baretta opposite a cockatoo, and even later to be acquitted of murdering his second wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley and was later found responsible for her wrongful death in a civil trial.  Anyway, I thought he was cool in Baretta and in In Cold Blood.   

     So, from 1944, here's "Wild" Bill Elliott in The San Antonio Kid:


     For more Overlooked Films and whatnot, go to Sweet Freedom where Todd Mason will have today's links.

Monday, March 26, 2012


According to Douglas Adams the answer to the question about life, the universe, and everything is 42.

     Can't argue with that.

     42 is a good start.  Here's hoping for another 42 years.

     Happy anniversary, Sweetheart.  I love you.


    I hadn't expected to pick up many books over the past two weeks.  I bought only a few while in New England, preferring to spend the time with  two of my beautiful grandchildren.  Also, since I was away from the computer, I figured that I wouldn't be getting too many free e-books on-line (ha!).  Thus, I truly felt righteous when I came back home Friday evening.  My downfall came the next day with a library book sale and a church book sale, both with many good books at good prices. We filled up the trunk of the car and then some.  Ah, me.  I was bad enough, but Kitty...well, we now have a zillion and one books that my daughters, grand-children, and son-in-law will love.  Kitty picked up a zillion histories and biographies for herself.  (I needn't mention my tastes are occasionally low-brow and hers are more than occasionally not, probably because Kitty is miles smarter than I am -- as well as much more [insert any positive quality here] than I.)  Anyway, here is this week's INCOMING fron Hell, minus Kitty's haul:

  • Kevin J. Anderson, editor, Blood Lite II:  Overbite. Humorous horror anthology from The Horror Writers Association, the sceond in the Blood Lite series.  Thirty-one stories.
  • [anonymous editor], Mystery Cats.  Sixteen cat mysteries from the pages of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, with a Patricia Highsmith story thrown in for good measure. 
  • Ace Atkins, Leavin' Trunk Blues.  A Nick Travers mystery.
  • Kate Atkinson, Case Histories.  The first Jackson Brodie mystery.
  • Gray Barker, They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers.  Nonfiction (?), the book that popularized the "Men in Black" theory.
  • Nathaniel Benchley, The Off-Islanders.  Humor.  The book that became the movie The Russians Are Coming!  The Russians Are Coming!  Nathamiel was the son of Robert and the father of Peter.
  • Alfred Bester, The Deceivers.  SF.
  • Otto O. Binder, Flying Saucers Are Watching Us.  Another flying saucer "expose," this time by the once-popular journeyman writer and SF pioneer.
  • B. A. Botkin and Alvin F. Harlow, A Treasury of Railroad Folklore.   As with Botkin's other books on folklore, this one is just fun to dip into.
  • Ben Bova, The Sam Gunn Omnibus.  SF collection.  All the Sam Gunn stories, "and then some." 
  • Orson Scott Card, Alvin Journeyman.  Fantasy.  The fourth in the Tales of Alvin Maker series. 
  • Terry Carr, editor, Universe 7.  SF anthology with eight stories.
  • Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen's Union.  SF/mystery mash-up.
  • C. J. Cherryh, Legions of Hell.  Fix-up fantasy novel in the shared-world created by Janet Morris.
  • Michael Connelly, The Fifth Business.  A Mickey Haller mystery.
  • "Edmund Crispin" (Robert Bruce Montgomery), The Edmund Crispin Treasury, Volume 1.  Omnibus of three classic mystery novels featuring Gervase Fen:  The Case of the Gilded Fly, Holy Disorders, and The Moving Toyshop.
  • John Crowley, Aegypt.  Fantasy.
  • Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, editors, Snow White, Rose Red.  Fantasy/horror anthology with twenty stories.
  • Charles de Lint, Spirits in the Wires and Someplace to Be Flying.  Fantasies.
  • Judy-Lynn del Rey, editor, Stellar #1.  The first in the SF anthology series.  Nine stories.
  • Gardner Dozois, editor, Galactic Empires.  SF anthology.  Six novellas.
  • David Douglas Duncan, Magical Worlds of Fantasy.  Art book featuring four amateur fantasy artists.
  • George Alec Effinger, Shadow Money and When Gravity Fails.  One crime novel and one cyberpunk.
  • Roger Elwood, editor, And Walk Now Gently Through the Fire...and Other Science fiction Stories.  Themed anthology of ten stories mixing biochemistry and religion.
  • Bruno Fischer, The Evil Days. Suspense.
  • Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough:  A Study in Magic and Religion.  The classic.
  • Esther M. Friesner, editor, Fangs for the Mammaries.  Vampires in the suburbs, oh my!  Nineteen stories.  The copyright page also credits Martin H. Greenberg's Teckno Books.  The front cover and the spine drop the "M." from Friesner's name.
  • Rosalind M. Greenberg & Martin H. Greenberg, editors, Vampires in Love. Horror anthology with 21 stories.
  • Joe Hill, Horns.  Horror.
  • Russell Hoban, The Medusa Frequency.  Fantasy.
  • Nancy Holder, Buffy the Vampire Slayer:  Keep Me in Mind.  Television tie-in novel.  Number two in the Stake Your Destiny series.
  • Robert Holdstock, Celtika.  Fantasy; Book One of The Merlin Codex.
  • Arnaldur Indridason, Silence of the Grave.  Icelandic mystery, a CWA Golden Dagger winner.  And, yes, the second "d" in Indridason should have a little cross on the top of it, but my computer doesn't do Icelandic.
  • Graham Joyce, Indigo.  Fantasy thriller.
  • Gerald Kersh, Nightshades & Damnations.  A "best of" fantasy anthology with eleven stories.  Edited by Harlan Ellison.  Kersh can be habit-forming.
  • Damon Knight, editor, Orbit 19.  SF anthology with thirteen stories.
  • Linda Landrigan, editor, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine Presents Fifty Years of Crime and Suspense.  Thirty-four stories from AHMM, from 1957 through 2004.  Not exactly fifty years, but we're all friends here, right?
  • David Larkin, editor, Once Upon a Time:  Some Contemporary Illustrators of Fantasy.  Art book.
  • Tanith Lee, Dark Dance.  Fantasy.
  • John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let Me In (also known as Let the Right One In).  Neat vampire novel that spawned both Swedish and American films.  (I lean ever so slightly toward the Swedish version.)
  • David Liss, The Coffee Trader.  Historical thriller.
  • Philip McCutchan, The Guns of Arrest.  A Lt. Halfhyde naval thriller.  While England still rules the waves, Halfhyde must stop a traitor from delivering highly classified plans to Bismark's Germany.
  • Jon F. Merz, The Kensei.  A vampire ninja novel in the Lawson series.
  • John Myers Myers, The Deaths of the Bravos.  Nonfiction.  An anecdotal and informal history of Western lore.  Myers is probably better known for his epic fantasy Silverlock, but his books on Western history shouldn't be missed.
  • [The New Yorker], Short Stories from The New Yorker.  Collection of 68 stories from 1925 to 1940.  A brief foreward explains that a number of types of stories were not considered for inclusion:  fictionalized remininscence, parable, prophecy, fable, fantasy, satire, burlesque, parody, nonsense tales, stories from series, stories already reprinted, stories duplicating themes, as well as stories that had become dated were generally excluded.  What remains is some great stories; this volume is on a par with those Whit Burnett culled from his Story magazine.
  • C. Northcote Parkinson, The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower.  A fictional biography of C. S. Forester's naval hero.
  • Don Pendleton, The Executioner #1:  War Against the Mafia, #2: Death Squad, #3:  Battle Mask, #4:  Miami Massacre, and #5:  Continental Contract.  The first five entries in the long-running and influential  men's adventure series.
  • Louise Penny, Bury Your Dead and A Rule Against Murder.  Chief Inspector Gamache mysteries.
  • Ellery Queen, editor, Masterpieces of Mystery.  A 20-volume collection of mystery stories, to wit:  Amateurs and Professionals, Blue Ribbon Specials, Cherished Classics, Choice Cuts, Detective Directory -- I, Detective Directory -- II, The Fifties, The Forties, The Golden Age -- I, The Golden Age --II, The Grand Masters, The Grand Masters Up To Date, More from the Sixties, The Old Masters, The Prizewinners, The Seventies, The Sixties, Stories Not To Be Missed, The Supersleuths, and The Supersleuths Revisited.  If you think I'm going to count up all the stories in each of the twenty volumes, you are wrong.  While we are with Ellery Queen, let's add Ellery Queen's Mystery Anthology, Volume 28, which should also have been published under a different title but I  don't know what that would be.
  • Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg, editors, Sol's Children.  SF anthology with 16 stories.
  • Mike Resnick, The Return of Santiago.  SF.  A sequel to Santiago, natch.
  • "Kenneth Roberson" (Paul Ernst), The Avenger #1:  Justice, Inc.  First in the pulp adventure series, original published in 1939.
  • Sax Rohmer, Dope, Fire-Tongue, and The Yellow Claw.  Oriental mysteries.  All three were books I once owned but that had gone walkabout several years ago.
  • "Marilyn Ross" (W. E. D. Ross), Barnabas, Quentin and the Mad Magician.  Television tie-in novel.  Back in the day, people sometimes confused me with David Selby.  Now they confuse with Newt Gingrich, dammit.  What happened?
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch, The Disappeared.  SF.  A Retrieval Artist novel.
  • Joanna Russ, The Adventures of Alyx.  Fantasy collection of five stories wherein the heroine Alyx buckles her swash.  One of the five stories is the famous novel Picnic on Paradise and it happens that I also picked up Picnic on Paradise as a single copy.  I figure there's no such thing as too much Joanna Russ.  Smart, isn't I?
  • Fred Saberhagen, Berserker's Star.  SF.  Long before the Borg, there were the Beserkers.
  • Marcus Sakey, Good People.  Crime novel.
  • Pamela Sargent, editor, More Women of Wonder.  Classic SF anthology with seven stories, one of which features Joanna Russ's Alyx [see above].
  • Al Sarrantonio, Kitt Peak.  Western.
  • Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Last Rituals.  Mystery.
  • Mickey Spillane, The Erection Set.  Tough-guy mystery introducing Dogeron Kelly.   The famous cover has a hot nude photo of Spillane's then-wife.
  • Taylor Stevens, The Informationist.  Thriller.
  • Duane Swierczynski, The Blonde.  Thriller.  This edition adds the short story Redhead.
  • Richard Tooker, The Dawn Boy.  Juvenile.  A boys' book set in prehistoric times with a young Cro-Magnon as the eponymous hero.
  • Boris Vallejo, The Fantastic Art of Boris Vallejo.  Art book.
  • Carol-Lynn Rossel Waugh, Martin H. Greenberg, and Frank D. McSherry, Jr., editors, Murder and Mystery in Chicago.  Anthology with eleven stories.
  • Anthony West, H. G. Wells:  Aspect of a Life.  Biography of the writer by his son.
  • Don Winslow, The Dawn Patrol.  A Boone Daniels mystery.  This one has had rave reviews.
  • Elizabeth R. Wollheim and Sheila E. Gilbert, editors, 30th Anniversary DAW Science Fiction.  Tribute anthology with eighteen stories and one novel excerpt.

And also the following e-books:
  • Brett Battles, Here Comes Mr. Trouble.
  • Bradley P. Beaulieu, The Winds of Khalakovo.
  • Jeff Bennington,  Creepy and Murdock's Eyes.
  • Kealan Patrick Burke, The Turtle Boy.
  • Orson Scott Card and Edmund R. Schubert, editors, InterGalactic Medicine Show Awards Anthology, Volume 1.
  • Reed Farrell Coleman, Hose Monkey.
  • Douglas Dorow, The Ninth District.
  • Marissa Farrar, Where the Dead Live.
  • Lee Goldberg, Three to Get Deadly,
  • Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin, The Dead Man #1:  Face of Evil.
  • John G. Hartness, Ballot of Blood.
  • Billie Sue Mosiman, Walls of the Dead and Wireman.
  • Scott Nicholson,  Ashes, Creative Spirit (containing both the novel and the screenplay), and Head Cases.
  • Stephen Palmer, Urbis Morpheos.
  • Brian Pendreigh, The Man in the Seventh Row.
  • Michael Rivers, Moonlighton the Natahala.
  • Jory Sherman, Little Journeys:  Collected Stories and The Sadness of Autumn:  Tales of the Ozark Hills.
  • Jeremy Shipp, The Sun Never Rises on the Big City.
  • Steven Torres, The Concrete Maze, Killing Way 2: Urban Stories, and The Valley of Angustias.
  • "Jack Tunney," Fightcard:  Felony Fists.
  • Ted Vezner, Chasing Vegas.
  • David J. Walker, The Last Page.
  • Dave Zeltserman, Blood Crimes, Book One.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Toscanini was born 145 years ago today.  Here he is, just a young strip of a lad at 62, conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in the Overture to Rossini's Barber of Seville.  From Novemner 21, 1929.


Well, not a hymn...but it is a bit of spiritual music to start you on your day and perhaps to help you remember how beautiful a gift springtime can be.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Victor Gischler, a super-cool writer, is looking for funding for his super-cool feature film Pulp Boy.  I really hope this one gets made.  Follow the link to find out how you can help.


We had a great week and a half.  We were able to spend a few days with Jessie before she had to go to Chicago for her meeting.  Then we got to spend more time with Ceili and Amy, our very sweet granddaughters, and with Mr. Beefy and Anvil, our very droolish grandpugs.  Dined out a few times, once at the British Beer Garden and once at Fish Bones -- not to confused with Bonefish (Boston Market's seafood chain), although the fish skeleton logo looked surprisingly similar.  We had real Ipswich fried clams (whoot!) -- that's with the whole clam, bellies and all, rather than the wimpy clam strips you usually find outside of New England.

     Interesting and meaningless fact:  it is exactly 499 miles from our driveway in Southern Maryland to Jessie's front steps in Massachusetts.

    The weather was fantastic, just the way you would want to close out the winter and usher in springtime.  Once we got back, though, showers and thunderstorms.

     The trip back was interesting.  We spent one night in a motel in Havre de Grace.  Beautiful town.  Stop by if you have a chance, just be sure you avoid the motel we stayed at.  First they gave a room with only one working electrical outlet.  Mumbled mutterings about we thought we fixed that short circuit and don't worry, we're moving you to another room, if you need us we'll be working on the wiring in your old room.  The new room had all the outlets working, but there just weren't that many of them.  But, hey, I didn't mind unplugging the mini-fridge in order to charge our cell phones -- one at a time.  We were a bit put off by the empty coffee cup with the well-chewed wad of gum on the lid that was by the television.  But we were tired and we both have the pioneer spirit...

     So home again, home again, jigged-de-jig, with just a stop to pick up milk, bread, some dishwasher detergent, and an armful of mail.  We can relax tonight; tomorrow it's back to the market because my wife informed me there is a difference between dishwashing liquid and dishwasher liquid.  Who knew?


Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Off to Massachusetts for a kinda/sorta vacation and some quality time with two of the sweetest grandkids on this planet.  Blogging will be hit-or-miss, or -- more probably -- nonexistent for the next week. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Here's one created and scripted by the great Eric Ambler, author of Tokapi, Epitaph for a Spy, Journey Into Danger, and Coffin for Dimitrios, and scripter of A Night to Remember, The Wreck of the Mary Deare, and The Cruel Sea, as well as the creator of the television show Checkmate.

     Even better, the script for this one was co-written with the multi-talented Peter Ustinov.

     Even more better, the film was directed by Carol Reed, who helmed such greats as The Third Man, Trapeze, Our Man in Havana, and The Agony and the Ecstacy.

     Want more?  How about David Niven, Stanley Holloway, James Donald, John Laurie, Ustinov himself, a super-young Dr. Who (William Hartnell), and (playing themselves) Tessie O'Shea and Quentin Reynolds.  This one also has an uncredited Trevor Howard as a ship's officer.

     The story?  It's about England preparing for the war at a time when many believed the country would never enter into it.  When the war comes the untried platoon find themselves being shipped for the invasion of French North Africa.  Before they could fight the enemy, their ship is nearly sunk.  Will they be able to pull together their training when they meet the Germans?

     Throw your stereotypes out the door.  This is a realistic look of England's army training at the time.  So realistic, in fact, that for the the next 39 years this film would be used in Austalia for officer training. 

     From 1944, The Way Ahead.

     For more of today's Overlooked Stuff go to Sweet Freedom.

Monday, March 12, 2012


An excellent week, capped off by a shopping basket of books for $3 total and some nifty free e-books.
  • Kevin J. Anderson, Tau Ceti.  E-book.  Science Fiction.
  • Brett Battles, Becoming Quinn.  E-book.  Mystery.
  • Paul Bishop, Crocker:  Teguila Mockingbird.  E-book.  Mystery.
  • Max Brand, The Rock of Kiever.  Western collection of three short novels.
  • "Dan Britain" (Don Pendleton), The Godmakers.  SF.
  • Jonathan Carroll, Glass Soup.  Fantasy.
  • "Nick Carter", Strike of the Hawk and Double Identity.  Omnibus of two novels in the Nick Carter Killmaster men's adventure series.
  • Lincoln Child, Deep Storm.  Thriller.
  • "Lee Correy" (G. Harry Stine), The Abode of Life.  An early (1982) Star Trek television tie-in novel.
  • Daniel Edward Craig, Murder at the Universe.  Mystery.
  • Jack Curtis, The Sheriff Kill.  Western.
  • Pablo D'Stair, Slumber.  E-book.  Mystery?, maybe; fantasy?, maybe;  interesting? definitely. 
  • J. T. Donleavy, Meet My Maker the Mad Molecule & The Saddest Summer of Samuel S.  Omnibus collection of 27 stories and sketches in Meet My Maker and a very, very short novel in The Saddest Summer.  Lit'ry stuff, I suppose.
  • Doranna Durgin, Angel:  Impressions.  Television tie-in novel.
  • Travis Erwin, The Feedstore Chronicles.  E-book.  A Texas-laced memoir of sorts
  • M. A. Foster, The Warriors of Dawn.  SF.  The first in the Ler trilogy.
  • Richard Gordon, Doctor in Clover and The Summer of Sir Lancelot.  Two novels in the humorous "Doctor in the House" series.  The television series was much better than the movies, BTW.
  • Zane Grey, Rogue River Feud.  Western.
  • Timothy Hallinan, The Bone Polisher.  E-book.  Mystery.
  • Captain Powers Hazelton, Scouts, Spies and Heroes of the Great Civil War:   How they Lived, Fought and Died for the Union, Including Thrilling Adventures, Daring deeds, Heroic Exploits, Exciting Experiences, Wonderful Escapes of Spies, Scouts and Detectives; With Anecdotes, Watchwords, Battle Cries, and Humorous and Pathetic Incidents of the War Embracing True Stories of Daring, Courage and Self-Sacrifice.  Phew!  Copywrited in 1911 by Geo. W. Berton, this book is also "Superbly Embellished with Many Thrilling and Very Attractive Illustrations."  How could I pass this one up?  Especially since the thrift store had a sale -- a shopping basket of books for $3.00.  This helped fill up the basket.
  • Libby Fischer Hellman, Easy Innocence.  E-book.  Mystery.
  • Hans Holzer, The Amityville Curse:  Fact & Fiction.  Omnibus of the nonfiction book Murder in Amityville and two novels, The Amityville Curse and The Secret of Amnityville.  Holzer, who died almost three years ago, was a self-promoting ghost-hunter who wrote over a hundred books of this sort, making him a latter-day Elliot O'Donnell.
  • Charlie Huston, The Shotgun Rule.  Mystery.  This was Huston's first stand-alone novel.
  • Cathleen Jordan, editor.  Alfred Hitchcock's Borrowers of the Night.  Anthology of 27 stories from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.
  • Louis L'Amour, Matagora and The Sky-Liners.  Westerns both.
  • Ken MacLeod, Divisions.  SF.  This is the second half of MacLeod's The Fall Revolution and consists of two short novels.
  • Warren Murphy and James Mullaney, The New Destroyer:  Guardian Angel.  The first of the "New" Destroyer series and the first with Mullaney's name on the cover; the series, of course, was created by Murphy and Richard Sapir.
  • Mike Newton (ghostwriter), Mack Bolan the Executioner #91:  The Trial and Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan:  Flesh and Blood.  Men's adventure series.
  • Scott Nicholson, Ethereal Messenger:  Three Novels (Drummer Boy, The Red Church, and Speed Dating with the Dead).  E-book.  Supernatural.
  • Andre Norton, Horn Crown.  Fantasy, the "keystone" Wirch World novel.
  • T. V. Olsen, The Hard Men and Run to the Mountain.  Westerns.
  • Lewis B. Patten, Home Is the Outlaw.  Western.
  • Louise Penny, Still Life.  Her debut mystery, featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.
  • J. R. Roberts, The Gunsmith #316:  Ace In the Hole.  Adult western.
  • Greg Rucka, Smoker.  Suspense.
  • Alan Ryan, The Kill.  Horror.
  • Bradford Scott, Holster Law.  A Walt Slade western.
  • Luke Short, Play a Lone Hand.  Western.
  • Neville Shute, No Highway.  Novel.
  • Anthony Neil Smith, All the Young Warriors and Choke on Your Lies.  E-books.  Mysteries.
  • Brad Steiger, Things That Go Bump in the Night (formerly The Awful Thing in the Attic).  Supposedly true, albeit fictionized, accounts of ghosts and hauntings.  Steiger is another one who has over a hundred such books.  He and Hans Holzer should have had a throwdown for Elliott O'Donnell's crown.
  • Steven Torres, Killing Ways:  Stories.  E-book.  Collection of ten mystery stories. 
  • Raymond Van Over, Whisper.  Horror.
  • Robert W. Wallace, Children of Salem.  E-book.  Historical suspense. 
  • A. R. Wise, Deadlocked.  E-book.  Zombies!
  • Dave Zeltserman, The Hunted.  E-Book.  Thriller.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Back in the day, there was Club 47 -- THE venue for folk music in Cambridge.  In neighboring Boston there was The Unicorn, but despite the talent they brought in it just did not have the warmth and intimacy of Club 47.   One of the groups closely associated with Club 47 was Jim Kweskin and His Jug Band consisting (at the time) of Kweskin, Fritz Richmond, Bill Keith, Richard Greene, Mel Lyman, and Geoff and Maria Muldaur.  (Maria wore the shortest skirts in the world and I was often in the front row, which was about two inches from the stage.  Hubba, hubba.)  Then, when I was two thousand miles away at school, Club 47 burned down, Jim Rooney (owner of the club) moved to Nashville, the Jug Band released a final album, and an era ended.

      Passim took over the location and the mantle of folk music, but, again, something was lacking for me.  The Muldaurs split up and went on to separate careers; he to eventually form the Texas Shieks, she to an oasis at midnight and beyond.  Mel Lyman went completely off the deep end, started a community/cult/commune, declared himself Jesus Christ or an alien savior from outer space (depending on what day it was) and was (I have heard but have not confirmed) institutionalized, finally dying at age 40.  Richmond, Keith, and Greene each moved on to become important session musicians and accompianists for many important acts.  Every member of the band has made an important mark in the music world.

     On bright sunny days like this I sometimes get sentimental about that bright sunny group and play their music -- both as a group and as individuals.  Here's Kweskin channeling his inner Sons of the Pioneers:

Friday, March 9, 2012


Checking the computer this morning I find the following headline:  Women with PMS Better at Seeing Snakes.

My question:  Who in hell thinks up these studies?


Plays for Earth and Air by Lord Dunsany (1937)

Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, eighteenth Lord Dunsany, was a seminal figure in fantasy literature.  He began publishing poetry in 1897, two years before he ascended to his title.  His first book, a popular collection of stories titled Gods of Peguna (1905), introduced the world to a strange, ornate, and uniquely conceived realm.  Gods was followed by more than a hundred books, chapbooks, and plays -- novels, stories, poems, memoirs, essays, lectures, and nonfiction.  He was an important figure in the Irish stage.  All this was done in a completely compartmentalized life; he was a well-known sportsman and one-time Irish champion in chess and pistol-shooting, but his literary life was completely separated from his social life.

    H. P. Lovecraft once heard him speak and was greatly influenced by his writing.  Dunsany's influence began to snowball and is still being felt today.  Among admirers of his work were Yeats, Borges, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Michael Moorcock, Neil Gaiman, and Arthur C. Clarke.

     One interesting fact about Dunsany that has nothing to do with review was his addiction to salt.  He brought his own, very coarse salt with him in all his travels and had a heavy hand when seasoning his food.  This (again) has no bearing on this review but I just decided to tell you anyway.  One of the benefits of having a blog.

     Plays for Earth and Air contains ten short plays.  (Short?  All ten fit within 163 pages.  Danged right they're short.)  The first four were designed for the stage (Earth), the remaining six written for radio (Air), although some have been performed on the opposite platforms.  The plays are sly, witty, satirical, and often fantastic.  I found them interesting to read, but (as with many of Dunsany's plays) difficult to imagine being staged. 

     Fame Comes Too Late concerns a poet who is visited by Fame forty years after he had wanted her to appear.  When she finally comes, Fame is as old and as weak as the poet.  A Matter of
tells of a dying man who, years before, had lied in order to lose a bet.  In Mr. Sliggen's Hour, a young vicar makes a deal with the devil to deliver a sermon that will be totally appreciated for just one hour.  And The Pumpkin tells of a scientist who buys a pumpkin and of the local townspeople who come to believe he will somehow use the pumpkin to destroy the world.

     Turning to the Air, animals put mankind on trial in The Use of ManThe Bureau de Change is a mysterious shop that can only be found once; the shop sells nothing, but specializes in exchanging evils.  This one was based on one of Dunsany's short stories.  In The Seventh Symphony, a sick composer is visited by the ghosts of Mozart, Cervantes, Milton, and others.  The protagonist of Golden Dragon City feels compelled to buy a window from a strange-looking man he met on the street.  The window leads to another time and a realm that is about to be destroyed by an invading army.  Time's Joke features a young poet who, on the spur of the moment, composed a poem on a new five-pound note to the displeasure of his family.  Finally, Atmospherics is about a man who meets an escaped lunatic on a train; the lunatic has a very large knife.

     This is a book that can be read in a couple of hours.  A pretty good way to spend your time.


     For links to more of today's Forgotten Books, visit Pattinase, Patti Abbott's always interesting blog.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


March  is Women's Month.  Some companies really need to get with the program.


Her eyes.  Her smile.  Her warmth.  Her intelligence.  Her compassion.  Her humor.  Her friendship.  Her patience.  She has captivated me from the day I met her.  She has made me a much better person.  She has giver me love, comfort, peace...

     How she fell for a mug like me, I'll never know, but I thank Heaven for that every day.  The one true, perfect thing that I have done in my life was to marry her.  Happy birthday, my love.  Thank you for sharing your life with me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Today is the one hundreth birthday of the Oreo cookie.  What a great opportunity to link to this:


This 1947 film was based on a William Irish story, "Nightmare".  Irish, of course, was a pen name of Cornell Woolrich, the noir master.  DeForest ("It's worse than that, he's dead, Jim!") Kelley -- in his first feature role -- plays bank employee Vince Grayson, who wakes up from a nightmare with bruises from his "dream" -- a dream in which he murdered a man.  Slowly Vince begins to fear that his dream was reality.

     Also featured in the film was Paul Kelly as Vince's policeman brother-in-law Cliff Herlihy and Ann Doran as Lil Herlihy.  Paul Kelly began his film career at age twelve in 1911, the same year Ann Doran was born.  Ann Doran began her career at age four and appeared in over 500 films and was probably best known for her roles in the television series National Velvet and Longstreet.

     Fear In the Night was directed and scripted by pulpster Maxwell Shane, who revisited (again as director and writer) the story for 1956's Nightmare.  Shane went on to produce and (sometimes write) television's M Squad.

     Reaction to this film is mixed.  Is it a hokey, implausible mess, or is it a dark atmospheric exercise?  You decide.

     For more Overlooked Films and Television, see Todd Mason's blog Sweet Freedom.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Another week, another list.  All the e-books were freebies.

  •  Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, March, July/August, September, and October 2004 issues.
  • Kelley Armstrong, Bitten.  Horror.  Book 1 of the Women of the Otherworld series.
  • Barrington J. Bayley, The Zen Gun.  SF.
  • David Clement-Davies, The Sight.  Horror.
  • Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois, editors, Beyond Singularity.  SF anthology with 14 stories.
  • Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio, Agatha H and the Airship City,  E-book.  Steampunk!
  • Joel Goldman, Die, Lover, Die!  E-book.  Mystery.
  • Terry Goodkind, Phantom.  Fantasy.
  • Heather Graham, DeadlyNight (Paranormal, first in the Flynn Brothers Trilogy) and Dust tp Dust (Paranormal, Book 1 in The Prophecy).
  • Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, Dune:  House Harkonnen.  SF.  One of umpty-ump books based on Frank Herbert's world.
  • L. Ron Hubbard, Buckskin Brigades.  Western.
  • Joseph Kanon, Alibi.  Mystery.
  • Richard Laymon, To Wake the Dead.  Horror.
  • "A. J. Matthews" [Rick Hautala], Looking Glass.  Another one from Maine's Greatest Other Horror Writer.
  • Tom Piccirelli, Clown in the Moonlight.   E-book.  Horror.
  • J. D. Rhoades, Gallows Pole.  E- book.  Mystery.
  • Suzanne Robb, Were-wolves, Apocalypses, and Genetic Mutation, Oh My!  E-book.  Horror collection with three stories.
  • Keith Roberts, Kiteworld.  SF.
  • James Rollins, Black Order.  Thriller.
  • Tom Savage, The Inheritance.  Thriller.
  • Norman Spinrad, Bug Jack Barron.  E-book.  SF filmscript.
  • [Top Suspense Group], Top Suspense:  13 Classic Stories.  E-book.  Anthology with 13 suspense stories.  Go figure.
  • Steven Torres, Lucy Cruz and the Chupacabra Kill.  E-book.  Mystery.
  • L. J. Washburn, Hallam.  E-book.  Collection of four mystery stories featuring cowboy Luca Hallam.
  • Dave White, Witness to Death.  E-book.  Mystery.
  • Dave Zeltserman, Bad Thoughts.  E-book.  Mystery.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


One day at the zoo
I was looking for you
Then you strolled by
With some other guy
I flew into such a rage
They wouldn't me out of my cage!


The Vicious
Was quite capricious.
He spied a young lass whom he thought delicious
He died of exhaustion and was fed to the fishes.

Friday, March 2, 2012


Necropolis by Basil Copper (1980)

I did not read any "forgtten" books this week, concentrating instead on on recent books by favorite writers.  So let me just mention briefly a wonderful book I read (mumble mumblety) years ago -- Necropolis, a 1980 gothic mystery by Basil Copper.  Copper, who just turned 88 this month, is best known in America for his horror short stories and his continuing the Solar Pons series about Solar Pons, who was created by August Deleth as an homage to Sherlock Holmes.  (Necropolis was first published by Arkhan House, the venerable firm founded by Derleth and Donald Wandrei.)  In England, Copper is also known for his series of fifty-plus books about LA tough guy P.I. Mike Faraday.

     Necropolis is set in the gas-lit London of Sherlock Holmes' time and even includes some characters from the Canon.  Detective Clyde Beatty (no relation to the circus animal trainer of a later generation) investigates the death of wealthy Tredegar Meredith and encounters an evil doctor, a rash of robberies, and Brookwood, London's largest cemetery.  Necropolis is a rich and atmospheric trip to a fog-shrouded time of danger, deception, and duplicity.