Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Today is the 108th birthday of the creator of everybody's favorite red-head private eye.  "Brett Halliday" was the best known pseudonym of Davis Dresser and the creator of Michael Shayne, the hero of more than 60 mystery novels.  Dresser had a life as adventurous as that of his hero.  At age fourteen, he joined the U. S. Army Cavalry, and soon found himself riding with Blackjack Pershing on a hunt for Pancho Villa.  His first wife was the legendary mystery author Helen McCloy.   He received an Edgar award for mystery criticism in 1953.  He and McCloy founded the Torquil Publishing Company, as well as the Halliday and McCloy Literary Agency.  They divorced after fifteen years of marriage.   His second wife was his some-time coauthor Kathleen Rollins; his third wife was the writer Mary Savage.  He died in 1977.

His character Michael Shayne began his literary life in 1939 with Dividend on Death, and soon became on of the most popular private eyes in mystery literature.  Dresser stopped writing in 1958, but the Michael Shayne character continued on under the "Brett Halliday" by-line with ghost writers.  1956 saw the introduction of Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, which featured a new Michael Shayne story every month.  Twelve Michael Shayne movies have been made, the first seven starring Lloyd Nolan, the remaining five, Hugh Beaumont.  Shayne was also featured in a weekly radio show, a comic book, and a 1960-1961 television series.

The television series starred Richard Denning as Shayne, Patricia Donahue (and later, Margie Regan) as Lucy Hamilton, Shayne's loyal secretary, Herbert Rudley played Miami Police Lieutenant Will Gentry, and Jerry Paris played young reporter Tim Rourke.  The series lasted one season (thirty-two episodes).  Episode six, Shoot the Works, first aired on November 11, 1960.  It was directed by Gerald Mayer (who directed three other episodes in the series, as well as numerous episode in over sixty other television series).  Scripting duties fell to William Link and Richard Levinson (they would write four additional episodes in the series and go on to create and/or develop such classic series as Ellery Queen, Mannix, Murder, She Wrote, and Columbo), from the novel.

Davis, of course, did not limit himself to mysteries.  He wrote romance, adventure, and western novels under such pen names as Anthony Scott, Kathryn Culver, Anderson Wayne, Don Davis, Matthew Blood, Hal Debrett, and Asa Baker.  He also edited six mystery anthologie under the Halliday names.

For those who are interested, the author himself explains the origins of Michael Shayne here:

Happy birthday to a favorite author!


Yes, Todd will have all the links to today's Overlooked Stuff at Sweet Freedom.

Monday, July 30, 2012


  • [anonymously edited], Prom Nights from Hell.  YA themed collection with five novelets by Stephanie Meyer, Kim Harrison, Meg Cabot, Lauren Myracle, and Michelle Jaffe.
  • Karen Armstrong, A Short History of Myth.  Nonfiction.
  • Robert Arthur, The Secret of Terror Castle.  YA mystery.  A Three Investigators novel repackaged without the Alfred Hitchcock imprematur, and the introduction now signed by "Reginald Clarke".
  • "Gary Braver" (Gary Goshgarian"), Gray Matter.  Medical thriller.
  • Octavia E. Butler, Dawn, Clay's Ark, and Wild Seed.  Three SF novels from a writer too soon gone.
  • Jon Guenther, Don Pendleton's The Excutioner #320:  Exit Code. Men's action adventure.
  • Paul Johnston, The Nameless Dead.  Thriller.
  • Richard Laymon, Friday Night in the Beast House.  Horror.  This edition includes a bonus novella.
  • Mel Odom, Apocalypse Crucible.  Religious thriller, the second in the Left Behind: Apocalypse series, based on the Left Behind series.  This particular series is told from a military point of view.  Christian fiction is not my usual cup of tea, but, hey, it's Mel Odom!
  • Chuck Rogers, Don Pendleton's The Executioner #326:  Blood Tide.  Men's action adventure.
  • Tim Tresslar, Don Pendleton's Stony Man #85:  Hell Dawn.  Men's action adventure.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Headed to beautiful Cape Cod for a few days, not sure how many.  I do have items in the queue for through Wednesday.  Beyond that...?


BoneQuest For the Spark, Book Two by Tom Sniegoski (2012)

Something I did not know until I picked up this book:  new prose adventures from Jeff Smith's world of Bone have been published. Tom Sniegoski has worked with Smith and has published the collection Tall Tales and the Quest for the Spark series.  Good news, indeed.  And under which rock had I been hiding while this was going on?

 For those not familiar with Bone, if Caspar the Friendly Ghost and the Stay-Puff Marshmellow Man ever got drunk at a party and woke to find they had a big-nosed kid, the kid would be a Bone.  Bones come from Boneville and a very few have been known to stray from their homeland and end up in The Valley, a place where many animals talk and where magical things can happen.  Beginning in 1991, Jeff Smith began self- publishing their black and white adventures, concluding with the 55th comic book in 2004.  Along the way, he released the entire series , bit by bit, as nine graphic novels.  After the last in the series was done, the entire series was issued as one masssive (1300-plus pages!) volume. Smith went on to colorize the original graphic novels from 2005 to 2009.   The series scooped up a gazillion awards (actually ten Eisner Awards and Eleven Harvey Awards, and a slew of nominations) and was named one the ten best English graphic novels ever written.

Sniegoski's The Quest for the Spark trilogy -- Book Three is due out in Febrary 2013 -- reveals a great threat to The Valley and, ultimately, to the world.  The Nacht is the Dragon of darkness; his power to eliminate the light has been awakened.  One power of the darkness is to put people into a permanent sleep.  Opposing the Nacht is The Dreaming, a force of light.  Things are looking pretty grim when The Dreaming chooses young Tom Elm, a twelve-year-old turnip farmer, as it's hero to conquer the Nacht.  Tom had found a shining crystal -- a piece of the original Spark, the very first ray of light to vanquish the dark.  All Tom has to do is to find and bring together the remaining pieces of the Spark.  A simple quest, right?

Opposing Tom are the giant Rat Creatures under the leadership of their king, Agak.  More deadly than the Rats are the evil spirits sent by Nacht to inhabit the bodies of the Constable and four of his men and to lead the Rats to more destructive ways.

Joining Tom are three Bones:  Percival Bone, explorer and tinkerer, and his young niece and nephew, Abbey and Barclay Bone.  With the young Bones is Roderick, their talking raccoon.  Also on the quest are Randolf Clearmeadow, an former Veni Yan priest, and Lorimar, supposedly the last of the First People.  Lorimar is spirit energy who has taken up a body made of leaves and plant matter.  Two stupid Rat Creatures, Stinky and Smelly, on the run from King Agak because they have stolen a very dead squirrel from him, have also become part of the quest.  The dead (and getting deader all the time) squirrel is Fredrick and Stinky is in love with him, taking him everywhere he goes.  (By the way, "stupid Rat Creatures" is a reduncancy.)

Book Two opens with our heroes in search of supplies for their airship Queen of the Sky.  (They especially need potatoes to power the airship.)  But the darkness, as well as the Constable and King Agak and their horde, has also come to town.  Tom and his crew barely escape and their search for the spark leads them to a colony of giant, angry bees, and also to three stupid bears who would rather steal honey than save the world.  In the meantime, the Nacht is setting the stage for one of Tom's crew to betray them.

It's great to be back in the world of Bone -- that scary, funny, wonderful creation of Jeff Smith where things seem simple but are really not, where characters can be both stereotypes and individuals at the same tine, and where humor and adventure meet.  Smith provided the illustations for the book and, while not credited with any of the writing, clearly had some input on the package.

Now I have to find those other Bone books I hadn't known were published.  There're addictive, you see.  In a good way.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Oops!  Blogger published this one four days early (on Tuesday even though it's dated Friday).  Oh, well...

The Evening Standard Second Book of Strange Stories, edited anonymously (@1934)

In the 1930s London-based publisher Hutchinson & Co. published a slew of large themed fiction collections, each weighing in at 900 to a thousand pages or so.  Humorist P. G. Wodehouse edited A Century of Humour, Rafael Sabatini edited A Century of Sea Stories and A Century of Historical Stories, Dennis Wheatley contributed A Century of Horror Stories, Francis Brett Young did A Century of Boy's Stories, and so on.  Others in the series were edited anonymously (A Century of Creepy Stories, A Century of Detective Stories, A Century of Ghost Stories, The Second Century of Humour, etc.).  In the mix were two collections of "Strange Stories" from the London Evening Standard newspaper.

     What constitutes a "strange story"?  Well, practically anything if one is to judge by this anthology.  Ghost stories, fantasy, and horror, to be sure, but also crime and detective stories, as well as stories with an unexpected twist.  Bear in mind that the degree of "unexpected twist" lies with the reader; the editors seemed to take the term "Unexpected" rather loosely in several cases.  Many would have been suitable for the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television show (indeed one, T. O. Beechcroft's 'The Ringed Word", was included in the first hardcover Hitchcock anthology). 

     Eighty-four stories are crammed into 1021 pages in the book we are considering today; all are interesting for one reason or another.  Some -- such as M. R. James' "A School Story" and Saki's "Gabriel-Ernest" are well-known -- some slightly less so (Hugh Walpole's "The Snow" and Marcel Ayme's "The Dwarf".  Most are completely unfamiliar to today's reader.  It's interesting to read stories from authors who were highly popular back then, yet are a faded memory today -- Ring Lardner, Achmed Abdullah, P. C. Wren, Phyllis Bentley, H. A. Manhood, James Hilton, Edgar Wallace, E. M. Forster, Erskine Caldwell, Louis Bromfield, Norman Matson, Gouveneur Morris, Eric Linklater, Louis Golding, Michael Fessier, Walter R. Brooks, Manuel Komroff, Thomas Burke, Oliver La Farge, "Marjorie Bowen" (as well as her alter ego, "George Preedy"), T. H. White...How many of those names do you recognize?  Other contributors include Alexandre Dumas, Pushkin, Turgenev. John Collier, Dorothy L. Sayers, Sheridan Le Fanu, and Agatha Christie.  Among the many authors whose names I did not recognize were Pansy Pakenham, Elizabeth Irons Folsom, Dana Burnett, and D. Wilson MacArthur.

     The stories take us through Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas, from the middle ages to the Twentieth Century.  All in all, a pretty good mix of stories.

     I can't pick a best of the eighty-four stories.  Some, of course, are better than others, but all are pretty good.  The only clunker of the bunch is Peter Cheney's "Nice Work", a Lenny Caution story which still remains interesting if only to see a British writer's attempt at American gangster slang.

     (From the title,  I can only assume that these stories appeared  at one time or another in The Evening Standard, although there is no indication of this anywhere else in the book.)

   To my knowledge the book has never been reprinted, so copies are hard to find.  (My copy came from an Interlibrary Loan.)  I think this would be a perfect candidate for reprinting as an "instant remainder."  It would be a shame if this collection remained unavailable to many of today's readers.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Jim McReynolds (1927-2002) and his brother Jesse (b. 1929) were Virginia boys who became one of the most influential bluegrass duos in the world.  Staring in 1947, they landed their first major recording contract in 1952 with Capitol Records.  Jim played guitar and was a high tenor while Jesse played mandolin with a signature crosspicking style.  Together with their backup band The Virginia Boys, Jim and Jesse provided us with 55 years of great music.  Jesse will still play at various folk festivals.

They have been inducted ino the Country Music Hall of Fame's "Walkway of Stars," the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame, the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Honor, and Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Hall of Fame, as well as receiving the National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts.


I Wish You Knew:

When I Stop Dreaming:

My Baby's Gone:

Freight Train:

Where the Soul of Man Never Dies:

Violet and a Rose:

Maple Sugar (instumental):

I Heard the Bluebird Sing:

Knoxville Girl:

Rocky Road Blues:

And, channeling their inner Chuck Berry, here's Johnny B. Goode:


Missing in Precinct Puerto Rico by Steven Torres (2006)

In his fourth Precinct Puerto Rico outing, Steven Torres offers us a difficult and disturbing novel about child endangerment.  In the quiet mountain town of Angustias children are disappearing.  First a young boy vanishes in the night and Sheriff Luis Gonzalo thinks the boy has run away after being disciplined by his father.  But then a young girl goes missing.  Another girl in a nearby town is brutally murdered and her body is thrown on a roadside, along with her bewildered brother -- the work of an infamous terrorist group.  When a six-year-old boy is kidnapped from an elementary school, Gonzalo and his deputies must figure out who is targeting children.  And how is the murder of an eighty-year-old woman connected to the disappearances?

     The mysteries tear apart the small police force as its members deal with their own feelings of rage and guilt even as they uncover a dangerous pattern of jealousy, paranoia, religious intolerance, sexual tension, violence, and pedophilia.  Marred only by the coincidence of timing, Missing in Precinct Puerto Rico presents a thrilling tale of flawed personalities and a parent's wort nightmare.  As usual, Torres peoples his novel with believable characters who make the rural setting come alive.  Steven Torres has another winner here.

     Recommended with the understanding that some of the themes in the book can be disturbing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


How do you keep a bagpiper from drowning?

Take your foot off his head.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Well, now we know the truth -- liberals were responsible for the shooting in Aurora:

Which brings me to:

The only thing that remains in my overly simplified mind from childhood Sunday School is this song.  Do I really need anything else?

But what do I know?  I'm the guy who owns one of these:

So Mr. Fischer, I'm afraid you have not opened my eyes with your closed mind.



The Mad Monster (1942)

If you take George Zucco and Glenn Strange and put them in a bad horror movie and what do you get?  The fantastically watchable programmer The Mad Monster.

Zucco plays mad scientist Dr. Lorenzo Cameron.  Strange is his gardener cum guinea pig Petro.  And the great expiriment?  Let's turn a man into a wolf.  Why?  Because it's fun and because we can use the monster to kill our enemies.  What more excuse do we need?

We have to have a girl, so let's cast Anne Nagel (The Green Hornet, The Green Hornet Strikes Again!, Don Winslow of the Navy) as Cameron's daughter Lorena.  We certainly need a love interest for Lorena,  who better than Johnny Downs (Freckles Comes Home, The Gay Nineties, Square Dance Jamboree, and a regular on Captain Billy's Mississippi Music Hall) as intrepid young reporter Tom Gregory.  Helping to fill out the roster were a number of easily recognizable faces, among them Slim Whitaker, Henry Hall, Mae Busch, and Reginald Barlow.

This was one of slightly less than a zillion B movies directed by Sam Newfield (who helmed a number of "Lone Rider" and "Billy the Kid" westerns, as well as Terror of Tiny Torn).  [The Lone Rider's last name was Cameron -- an ancestor of our friend the mad doctor, perhaps?]  In the 1950's Newfield directed a number of television shows, including Ramar of the Jungle, Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion, and Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans.

The screenplay was by Fred Myton (Nabonga, Murder Is My Business -- one of several Michael Shayne mysteries he scripted, and some of the aforementioned "Lone Rider" and "Billy the Kid" features).

For reasons unclear to me, the UK refused to allow the film to be shown until 1952.

If all of the above does not whet your appetite, it was featured and pretty well dissected on Mystery Science Theatre 3000.



Todd Mason is corralling today's Overlooked Films and/or A/V at sweetfreedom.  Stop by and take a gander.

Monday, July 23, 2012


  • Isaac Asimov, George Zebrowski, and Martin H. Gardner, editors, Creations:  The Quest for Origins in Story and Science.  SF/science fact anthology with twenty-seven entries.
  • Burl Barer, Murder in the Family.  True crime.
  • Monte Barrett, Smoke Up the Valley.  Western.
  • Curtis Bishop, Reach for Your Guns.  Western.
  • L. M. Boston, The Childen of Green Knowle and An Enemy at Green Knowle.  Children's fantasies.
  • "Lyle Brandt" (Mike Newton), The Lawman.  Western, first in a series.
  • Stephen Briggs, Terry Pratchett's Mort:  The Play.  The Discworld book adpted for the stage.
  • Ginjer Buchanan, Highlander:  White Silence.  Television tie-in.  When they say, "There can only be one," they are lying.  This appears to be number eight in a series written by various authors.
  • Octavia E. Butler, Survivor.  SF.
  • Frank Castle, Vengeance Under Law.  Western.
  • Charles W. Chesnutt, The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales.  From one of the early greats in Afro-American literature.  Chesnutt wrote a number of tales for submission to his publisher, who then cherry-picked they stories they felt would best "form" Chesnutts first novel The Conjure Woman in 1899.  This volume prints all fourteen of Chesnutt's conjure stories.  Edited by Richard H. Brodhead.
  • Harlan Coben, Hold Tight.  Thriller.
  • Al Cody, Shanahan's Feud.  Western.
  • Will Cook, Outcast of Cripple Creek and The Wind River Kid.  Westerns.
  • Peter Dawson, The Sragline Feud.  Western.
  • Ted Dekker, Adam.  Thriller.
  • Samuel R. Delany and Marilyn Hacker, editors, QUARK/2.  The second issue of the paperback book/magazine that went for four issues in the early Seventies.  Speculative fiction.  Fourteen stories, three poems, artwork, and no table of contents,
  • Harry Sinclair Drago, Montana Road.  Western.
  • Keith Ferrario, Deadly Friend.  Horror.
  • Peter Field, The Smoking Iron.  Western.
  • Norman A. Fox, Six-Gun Syndicate.  Western.
  • P. L. Gaus, Murder Most Amish.  Omnibus edition of three mystery novels:  Blood of the Prodigal, Broken English, and Clouds Without Rain.  The first three novels in a series featuring Pastor Caleb Troy, Professor Michael Branden, and Sheriff Bruce Robertson.
  • Jan Grape, Austin City Blue.  Mystery.
  • Barbara Hambly, Traveling with the Dead.  Vampire novel.
  • "Will Henry" (Henry Wilson Allen), The Squaw Killers.  Western.  Henry's fictionalization of the Squaw Creek massacre.  Originally titles Maheo's Children.
  • Leo P. Kelley, Cimarron and the Border Bandits.  Number three in the adult western series.
  • Jerzy Kosinski, The Painted Bird.  Literary novel that at its heart is an exercise in horror.
  • Louis L'Amour, The Proving Trail.  Western.
  • Clarence E. Mulford, Tex.  Western.  This is the abridged 1954 Graphic Books paperback.
  • James Patterson, editor, Thriller.  Thirty stories from the International Thriller Writers.
  • "Ellis Peters" (Edith Pargeter), Black Is the Color of My True Loves's Heart, Death and the Joyful Woman, Fallen Into the Pit, The Knocker on Death's Door, and The Piper on the Mountain.  Inspector Felse mysteries.
  • Bill Prnzini, In an Evil Time.  Suspense.
  • Bill Pronzini and Martin H. Greenberg, editors, The Lawmen.  Western anthology with thirteen stories and one poems.  Part of the "Best of the West" series.
  • Maureen S. Pusti, Neighbors.  Horror.
  • Adam Roberts, Glad to Be Bad.  Sixties paperback sleaze from Midwood.  I don't know who "Adam Roberts" is.  Can anyone help?
  • Louis-Charles Royer, Unrepentant Sinners.  Fictional imaginings of a number (a hasty count came up with seventeen) of mainly historical women.  Spicy stuff for 1957.  Translated from the French by H. T. Atwood.
  • Ben Smith, Stranger in Sundown and Kermit Welles, Blood on Boot Hill. An Ace Double.  Westerns, of course.. 
  • Eleanor Sullivan, editor, Alfred Hithcock's Tales to Send Chills Down Your Spine.  Twenty-nine stories from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, 1956-1973.
  • Richard S. Wheeler, The Canyon of Dreams.  Western with Barnaby Skye and dinosaur fossils.  What more could you ask for?

Sunday, July 22, 2012


This one almost slipped by me.  Luckily, my brother (who is not quite as strange as I am) brought to my attention that today (July 22)  is Pi Approximation Day -- at least for those who figure the date by DD/MM/YYYY.

22/7 = Pi (Get it?)

Both my brother and I have too much time on our hands.


The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles during a South American tour:

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Actress Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Holiday Wishes, and Gryphon) and writer Christopher Golden (Cut!, the Peter Octavian novels, The Ferryman, and many, many more) ot together in 2003 to write a computer animated web series for the BBC, The Ghosts of Albion.  This lead to another film, a series of popular novels, and a roleplaying game.

The ghosts of Albion are Lord Byron, Admiral Nelson, and Queen Bodicea, who are mystically assigned to protect England..  Helping them in this task are a human duo, siblings, Tamara and William Swift.  And then the fun begins.

From the BBC, here's a five parter in the series titled "Embers."


Act One:

Act Two:

Act Three:

Act Four:

And Act Five:


Friday, July 20, 2012


Who's the most famous Belgian in mystery literature?  Fictionally, probably Hercule Poirot.  In reality, George Simenon.

Today the Friday's Forgotten Book crew is celebrating Georges Simenon (1903-1989), creator of Inspector Maigret and author of some 500 books or so, many under one of his sixteen pen names.  (The definition of "book" is flexible; many of Simenon's early books were little more than novellas.)  Twenty-five years ago I went on a big Simenon kick and read all the Maigrets and most of his other books that were available in English.  Those books went walkabout a long time ago and it seems my local library does not have a single Simenon book(!!!).  Add that too the fact that the power went out for a while where we were goat-sitting and I didn't have Christina's password to get back online...well, they don't call me Mr. Grumpypants for nothing.

So, I'm bowing out this week. 


Here's a great link that will take you an early novel by Simenon published in 1929 under his "Georges Sim" pseudonym, The House of Anxiety (La Maison de l'inquietude).  There are also the first English translations of three Maigret short stories, plus a lot of articles and information about Simenon.  Follow the links and you will be busy for days:

For today's recommendations and reviews of some of Simenon's finely crafted books, go to, where Patti Abbott will host reviews and links, including (I'm sure) some pretty fine books by authors who are not named Simenon.

(And why hasn't anyone translated Simenon's early pulpwork?  There are many dozens of those.  There's even one that has "Gorilla" in the title that I would love to read.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012


And for why you not have of crab?  Because one of must must boil 'live?  It is all vat is of most beast to tell so.  How you make for dem kill so you not dem boil?  You not can cut dem de head off, for dat dey mave not of head.  You not can break dem de back , for dat dey not be only all back.  You not can dem bleed until dey die, for dat dey not have blood.  You not can stick dem troo de brain, for dat dey be same like you -- dey have not of brain.

-- Lafcadio Hearn (from the Item [NewOrleans], October 5, 1879; reprinted in Creole Sketches, 1924)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Today and yesterday...I can never tell how these two days, from year to year, will make me feel.

     Yesterday would have been my mother's nintieth birthday; today is the anniversary of my father's death.

     A few days ago I mentioned how both my mother and my mother-in-law travelled strangely similar paths.  Let me explain a bit of my mother's path.

     My mother's mother could be (to put it nicely) flighty and irresponsible; my grandfather was a tall, lanky redhead who (I'm given to understand) was a pretty likabe guy.  Her name was Mildred and his first name was Bernard, although he was always called Frank...his full name was Bernard Francis Ford.  They named my mother Millard, a combination of Mildred and Bernard and a what-were-they-thinking? moment if I ever saw one.  My mother hated the name Millard, and, in the back of their minds, her parents must have agreed because, from birth, they called her Harriet, which was her middle name.

     My mother was basically an only child.  Her sister was born when she was about seven, the same year her father was killed in a massive gas explosion.  Mildred decided to relocate to Florida, and was going to take my mother and the baby with her.  My great-grandmother put her foot down; Mildred could take the baby, but Harriet would stay with her.  The dynamics of this thing were complex and I really don't understand it all, but the upshot of it was that my mother stayed with (and was raised by)her grandmother while Mildred and the baby went down south.

     (To complicate things a bit more, you have to realize that my my great-grandmother was not Mildred's mother.  Mildred was a relative who had been taken in and raised by my great-grandmother, just as she was now doing with my mother.  Families did that sort of thing back then far more often than they do today.)

     My great-grandmother was a stickler for discipline and a lover of knowledge.  She had been a teacher and had been one of the first (perhaps the first -- I really don't know) elected female members of a School Committee in the state.  A widow, she had married her second husband by that time, a laughing, friendly guy who swore like a trooper.  They lived in an old farmhouse in a rural part of town.  My great-grandmother's three children were grown.  From time to time she would take in "state kids" to supplement their income.  My mother knew that she was loved in this environment, but I can't help but think she suddenly felt alone and estranged; it must have been very difficult for her.  She remembered clearly that, on her ninth birthday, her mother suddenly appeared, and my mother was so happy that she had rememberd her birthday, only to  have that sense of elation dashed when she found out that her mother had only stopped in to borrow money -- she had not realized that it had been my mother's birthday.

     Children tend to survive and to put emotional scars in a hidden, secret place.  And so my mother grew into a smart, talented, well-liked, and giggly teenager.  Somewhere along the line, she changed her name from "Harriet" to "Harriette" -- with two Ts and an E, if you please.

     She was nineteen when she married my father, six years her senior and a local boy who worked on a farm.  She moved to the farm in a house shared by the man who owned the farm, his mother, and his spinster sisters.  It wasn't an easy time:  a war was on and the memory of the Depression was still fresh; a husband with a job and a roof over your head ws a decent start to a marriage.  A year later she had her first baby, my sister.  Over the next three years, she suffered three mysterious miscarriages; doctors were only just beginning to discover the importance of the Rh factor in pregnancy.  They had a much better handle on it when I was born, the first Rh baby in our area to survive, thanks to the help of daily blood infusions.  I was in the hospital for quite a while.  My younger brother was there even longer; the doctors did not think he would survive, so they fanally sent him home with her to die.  Always the contrarian, my brother survived and thrived.

     Things got easier for my mother.  She had a circle of friends, was active in some community groups, and even joined in a local theatre group for a while.  My father, in the meantime, began building homes on the side, eventually becoming a full-time contractor when the farm closed in 1955.  No matter how busy things were, he kept his Saturday night calendar clear for their weekly "date."

     If there was a word to describe my father, it would be "giver."  He spent his life helping others in small ways and big.  It was only until after he died that we find out many of the things he had done for others.

    Many small New England towns have a town clock on a steeple in the center of the town.  Ours was on the Unitarian Church.  There was some sort of legal arrangement in which the church owned the building and the property, and the town owned the clock as well as the responsibility for maintaining the clock.  (A captain in the fire department was tasked with regular inspection the clock, a job that he hated -- the old wooden stairs up to the belfry were covered with bird dung, making it a tricky trip up.  For several years he tried to talk me into going up those steps for him.  I didn't mind doing favors, but I did repeatedly turn this one down.)  Anyway, the time came when the steeple was deteriorating and needed repair and my father was asked to take at look at it and see what needed to be done.  With him were a woman in her eighties  (an old friend and neighbor, representating the church) and a member of the Board of Selectmen (another family friend, representing the town).  They went up on a Saturday morning when the church was holding its annual May Breakfast.  Somehow, near the top, my father slipped, fell from the stairs, through the wooden overhang of the steeple, and landed on the granite front steps of the church, some thirty-five feet below.  The impact ripped loose one of kidneys inside his body.

     There were other injuries, too, and during the next ten weeks almost every one of his major body systems shut down at one time or another.  His strength amazed the doctors.  We were blessed to have those ten weeks with him while he was in the intensive care unit.  A lot of good things happened that I would never take back.  It seems to me that whenever something really terrible happens, there is always something else happening that helps you hold on and gives you some faith for the future.  At the end of those ten weeks, he slipped away.  Somehow he knew to hold on until my mother's birthday had passed; he would never have wanted her to associate her birthday with his death.

     I am still amazed that I am now older than he was when he died; part of me still thinks of him today as alive, now approaching his ninety-sixth birthday, still strong, still active, still laughing.

     My father's death devastated my mother.  The situation was compounded by some chicanery on the part of my father's lawyer, who was later disbarred and jail on unrelated but very similar matters.

     Eventually she began dating a widower, a man whom she and my father had both known.  They shared their lives happily for the next two decades until her passing.

     So today I look back and remember both my parents.  I remember the good things, the happy things, the funny things.  They both had their share of hard times and disappointments, but they moved past them and built their lives.  I look back at my mother, relializing where she came from and where she ended up, and I can't help but feel pride.  The same goes for my father, knowing that if I could ever be half the man he was, I would be satisfied.

     As I write this, Kitty and I are babysitting four goats, three dogs, a cat, and a ball python, while Christina and Walt and their kids are on their Great Grand Canyon Adventure.  The sky is blue and it's going to be another scorcher and I get to appreciate the day.  I get to appreciate my family and my friends and my place in the world.  I get to keep on living each day, looking forward to the next.

     Thanks, Mom.  Thanks, Dad.



What do you call a fish with no eyes?

A fsh.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Celeste Holm was a lady with class and talent.  (I'm ignoring her last few, tragic years, when she was diagnosed with Alzeimer's two years before she married a man 46 years younger than her, then had finacial problems and was estranged from her sons.) 

     Celeste Holm made her Broadway debut at age 19.  Early in her stage career she worked with such stars as Leslie howard and Gene Kelly.  In 1943, she originated the role of Ado Annie in Oklahoma.  In films she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Gentleman's Agreement.  She would receive two more Oscar nominations.  After she appeared in All About Eve with Bette Davis, she realized she preferred the stage to movies, and later she would only appear in selected films and would become a presence on television.

     She has been a spokesman for UNICEF, a member of the National Arts Council, and the Chairman of the Board of Arts Horizons.  She was made a Knight 1st Class in the Order of St. Olav by King Olav V of Norway.  She was elected to the Theatre Hall of Fame and received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.   She also received the Sarah Siddons Award for distinguished achievement in Chicago Theatre and a Life Achievement Award from the SunDeis Film Festival at Brandeis University.

     Here's a 1965 recording of Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, with Celeste Holm playing the Fairy Godmother to Leslie Ann Warren's Cinderella:

     So farewell to A Girl Who Can't Say No:

     She will be missed.

Monday, July 16, 2012


If I have never mentioned what a wise and wonderful woman I married, let me do so now.  In our ramblings this week, she absolutely REFUSED to pick up a copy of Fifty Shades of Gray.  Yea, Kitty!

Many anthologies this week, mostly SF.

  • Dan Abnett, The Founding:  A Gaunt's Ghosts Omnibus.  This omnibus contains only the first three of the four volumes in the series:  First and Only, Ghostmaker, and Necropolis, as well as a related short story.  Need I mention that these are gaming (Warhammer 40,000) tie-ins?
  • John Joseph Adams, editor, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (with twenty-nine Sherlockian fantasy stories) and Wastelands:  Stories of the Apocalypse (with twenty-two SF stories).
  • Mike Ashley, editor, The Mammoth Book of Awesome Comic Fantasy (thirty-two stories, including one by John Cleese --  you can't get mammothly more awesome than that) and The Mammoth Book of Extreme Science Fiction (nineteen stories).
  • Jim Baen, editor, New Destinies, Volume VII (Spring 1989).  An issue of "The Paperback Magazine; five stories, six articles, and an opinion piece.
  • Nevada Barr, Hunting Season.  An Anna Pigeon mystery.
  • Neal Barrett, Jr., Karma Corps.  SF with a distinctly Barrett twist.
  • David Bischoff, The Destiny Dice.  Fantasy, Book One of The Gaming Magi.
  • Terry Bisson, Voyage to the Red Planet.  SF.
  • E. F. Bleiler, editor, Three Victorian Detective Novels.  Actually, this omnibus contains three Victorian novellas:  The Unknown Weapon by Andrew Forrester, My Lady's Money by Wilkie Collins, and the "locked room" classic The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwell.  In his introduction, Bleiler notes that Forrester may be a pseudonym.
  • Lawrence Block, editor, Opening Shots.  A mystery/crime anthology with "first" stories by nineteen well-known writers.
  • Ben Bova, Vengeance of Orion.  SF.
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley, editor, Free Amazons of Darkover.  Fantasy, a shared world anthology with nineteen stories.  Does anyone else remember when Darkover was a science fiction series?
  • Albert Brooks, Twenty Thirty:  The Real Story of What Happens to America.  SF.
  • Algis Budrys, editor, L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future.  The first volume (from 1985) of the ever-continuing, sometimes controversial (that's Hubbard's name on the cover -- duh) series.  I had forgotten that some of the "writers of the future" in this volume were Nina (Kiriki) Hoffman, Karen Joy Fowler, David Zindell, and Dean Wesley Smith.
  • [Buffy the Vampire Slayer],  Tales of the Slayer, vol. 2& 3.  Omnibus collection of two anthologies, totally fourteen stories in the Buffy-verse, ranging from 980 A.D. Japan to dawn of the 21st Century Sunnydale.
  • C. J. Cherryh, Faery in Shadow.  Fantasy
  • Douglas Clegg, The Vampiricon:  The Priest of Blood.  Horror; first of a series.
  • "Manning Coles" (Adelaide Frances Oke Manning and Cyril Henry Coles), Without Lawful Authority.  A Tommy Hambleton adventure.
  • Jack Dann, editor, Nebula Awards 32.  SF anthology.  Eight nominated stories (including three winners), a 1957 story by GrandMaster Jack Vance, poems from the two Rhysling Award winners, and a bunch of notes, articles, and appendices.
  • Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois, editors, Timegates.  SF anthology about time travel, with twelve stories.
  • Jeffrey Deaver, creator, Watchlist.  Two round-robin novels from the International Thriller Writers:  The Chopin Manuscript and The Copper Bracelet, both featuring former war crimes investigator Harold Middleton.  If I counted right, twenty-two authors were involved in this project.
  • L. Sprague de Camp and Catherine Crook de Camp, editors, 3000 Years of Fantasy and Sience Fiction.  Eight stories, two excerpts, and one abridgement bring us from Homer to Isaac Asimov.
  • [Detective Book Club]  Three omnibus volumes, each with three mystery novels.  The first has Hush-a-Bye Murder by David Alexander (a Bret Hardin mystery), Poor Harriet by Elizabeth Fenwick, and Death of an Ambassador by "Manning Coles" (a Tommy Hambleton adventure).  The second volume has The Case of the Glamourous Ghost by Erle Stanley Gardner (a Perry Mason mystery), Death and Mr. Potter by Rae Foley, and The Man in the Green Hat by "Manning Coles" (Tommy Hambleton again).  The third volume has The Case of the Lazy Lover by Erle Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason again), Untidy Murder by Frances & Richard Lockridge (a Pam and Jerry North mystery), and Let the Tiger Die by "Manning Coles" (Tommy Hambleton, yet again). 
  • Gordon R. Dickson, Other.  SF, sequel to Young Bleys.
  • Gardner Dozois, editor, The Year's Best Science Fiction:  Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection.  Thirty SF stories from 2008.  A brief glance at the books 36-page introduction shows that a proofreader was very badly needed.
  • David Drake, All the Way to the Gallows.  SF/fantasy collection of eight stories, all admittedly gallows humor.
  • "Wesley Ellis," Lone Star at Cripple Creek.  Number 90 in the long-running adult western series.
  • John Farris, Phantom Nights.  Horror.
  • Howard Fast, The Unvanquished.  Historical novel.
  • Robert Fleming, Havoc After Dark:  Tales of Terror.  Fourteen horror stories.
  • Alan Dean Foster, Star Wars:  The Approaching Storm.  SF.  From the never-ending movie tie-in series.
  • Jeff Gelb and Michael Garrett, editors, Hot Blood XI:  Fatal Attractions.  Eighteen erotic horror stories.
  • Christopher Golden and Thomas E. Sniegoski, Tears of the Furies. Dark fantasy in the Menagerie series.
  • Mo Hayder, The Treatment.  A Jack Caffery thriller.
  • Howard Haycraft and John Beecroft, editors, 3x3, Volume III.  Four mystery stories and Ngaio Marsh's Roderick Alleyn novel Night at the Vulcan.
  • Barb & J. C. Hendee, Sister of the Dead. Fantasy novel in the Noble Dead series.
  • Shaun Hutson, Shadows.  Horror.
  • Guy Gavriel Kay, The Lions of Al-Rassan and Tigana.  Fantasies both.
  • Katherine Kerr, editor, The Shimmering Door.  Fantasy collection with thirty-two stories about shamans, sorcerors, and the like.
  • Holly Lisle & Walter Spence, The Devil & Dan Cooley. Fantasy novel.
  • Bentley Little, The Walking.  horror.
  • Jonathan Maberry, The Wolfman.  Movie tie-in.
  • Graham Masterton, Corroboree.  Historical novel set in Australia.
  • Jack McDevitt, Deepsix.  SF.
  • Andre Norton, editor, Small Shadows Creep.  Anthology of eight stories by classic horror authors.
  • Andre Norton & Sherwood Smith, Derelict for Trade.  A Solar Queen SF novel.
  • Gerald Page & Hank Reinhardt, editors, Heroic Fantasy.  Fourteen sword & sorcery stories, including F. Paul Wilson's "Demonsong," the first story in his Adversary Cycle.
  • T. Jefferson Parker, Laguna Heat.  Mystery.
  • "William Patrick" (Peter Haining), editor, Mysterious Sea Stories.  Fourteen nautical horror stories.
  • Otto Penzler, editor, The Vampire Archives.  Massive doorstop anthology with eighty-five vampire stories with a 111-page (!) bibliography of vampire stories.
  • William S. Rossiter, editor, Days and Ways of Old Boston.  Kitty found this 1915 edition of Boston history.  Nine articles  The previous owner had placed inside the back cover an article from the Boston Sunday Herald (3-16-66) with a replica of the first American aerial photo of Boston, from 1860.  Interesting.
  • Fred Saberhagen, Berserker Fury.  SF.
  • Arthur W. Saha, editor, The Year's Best Fantasy Stories:  10 and The Year's Best Fantasy Stories:  11.  Collections of fantasy stories from 1983 (eleven stories) and 1984 (thirteen stories).
  • John Shirley, Doom.  Movie (and gaming) tie-in novel.
  • Robert Silverberg, editor, Legends II.  Eleven short novels in various best-selling fantasy series.
  • Dan Simmons, Worlds Enough & Time.  Collection of five SF stories.
  • David Skibbins, Eight of Swords.  Winner of the Malice Domestic/St. Martin's Press Best First Mystery contest.
  • Guy N. Smith, Witch Spell.  Horror.
  • Dana Stabenow, editor, Unusual Suspects.  Anthology with a dozen fantasy/detective stories.
  • Brian Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg, editors, Alternate Gettysburgs.  Twelve SF stories, four articles, and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
  • Roy Torgeson, editor, Chrysalis 8.  SF anthology with twelve stories.
  • "P. J. Tracy" (Patricia and Traci Lambrecht), Shoot to Thrill.  A Monkeewrench mystery.
  • Harry Turtledove and Martin H. Greenberg, editors, The Best Military Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century.  Thirteen stories dating from 1951 to 1987, which pretty much covers the Twentieth Century, IMHO.
  • Ian Watson, The Books of the Black Current.  Omnibus SF volume containing The Book of the River, The Book of the Stars, and The Book of Being.
  • J. N. Williamson, Evil Offspring.  Horror.
  • Stuart Woods, Worst Fears Realized.  A Stone Barrington mystery.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


My mother-in-law, Eileen Keane, would have been 89 today.  She was a strange and remarkable  woman who had a life with more than her share of tragedy.  Born to a well-to-do father and a neurotic mother, Eileen's father died young of a heart attack.  Her despondent mother committed suicide when she was nine and Eileen was left to be raised by an aunt and uncle.  The uncle, Frank, whom Kitty always knew as Grandpa, was a lovable character (emphasis on "character") who never met a racing horse he didn't like.

     At various times, Frank had been in vaudeville, owned a used car dealership, owned a restaurant, and (I'm given to understand) was known to be acquainted with some fairly shady characters.  Eileen's aunt was a manic-depressive who had to be institutionalized at times.  Both of them loved Eileen beyond words, but they provided her with an uncertain childhood.  Frank would pry the diamonds off his wife's rings and stash them under the floorboards in preparation for the days when the ponies ran bad.

     World War II came along and Eileen fell in love and had gotten engaged, only to have her fiance killed in the war.  Later, Kitty's father started dating her and asked her to marry him.  Eileen put him off by saying she would marry him once the war was over.  And damned if the war didn't end a few weeks later, much to Eileen's surprise.

      Eileen and Harold were married and moved to the Atlanta area, where Harold began studying at Georgia Tech.  They lived in a small trailer.  Harold studied and sold newspapers while Eileen had kids.  After he graduated, they moved up and down the East Coast as Harold followed engineering jobs.  He worked a number of projects under contract with the Defense Department and was often away from home at months at a time. 

     Eileen slowly developed a social phobia.  Kitty remembers that, during elementary school, she had to accompany her mother to club meetings and often had to carry the conversation for her.  On at least one move, Eileen dropped Kitty off at her new school, leaving her to register herself and trying to figure out how to get home after school while not knowing her new address or phone number.

     Although she kept a clean house, Eileen was not known for her housekeeping or culinary skills.  When Kitty's family moved into my hometown, they lived near a local farm.  One day, when the wind was right and when the farmer was spreading what comes naturally over his fields, one of Kitty's friends came into the house, sniffed, and asked, "Cooking again, Mrs. Keane?"

     Eileen began to get over her social phobia during the last twenty years of her life.  She became a real estate agent for a while, made a number of friends, and reconnected with high school friends.  She lived with us during the last three years of her life.  We had bought a house and remodeled it slightly to give Eileen the entire downstairs floor, allowing her access without having to climb any stairs.  At the time we had a foster daughter, Stephanie, a mentally retarded girl with many challenges.  (Stephanie was with us for over six years, until schizophrenia in her late teens forced the state to institutionalize her.)   Anyway, Stephanie would sometimes come home from school while we were still out and Eileen would watch over her.  She was no problem, Eileen said, except I have to watch that damned big red dog show on television with her -- given her druthers, Eileen would watch the news, western movies, or football.

     Around the same time, Mark was learning to walk and we watched him on mornings when Christina had to work.  Each morning Mark would smell the fresh toast that Eileen had made for breakfast and he would scurry (crawling) down the stairs to her living room, and position himself right next to her chair with his mouth open.  She loved this even more than she loved complaining about it.

     We'd take Eileen out shopping or to eat at least every other day.  One day she decided to treat us at a local Chinese restaurant.  She had planned this well in advance and had found an advertised special in the local newspaper.  Unfortunately for our waiter, the advertisement was for a different Chinese restaurant than the one where she took us.  Kitty and I slid down our seats in embarassment as Eileen argued with the waiter about the "advertised" special.  Eileen won, and we got the food the other restaurant had advertised and at the price that was advertised.  In honor of that occasion, we often go out for Chinese to celebrate Eileen's birthday.

     Eileen had a hard time admitting she liked me.  She was spot-on (I truly believe) in thinking Kitty was far too good for me, and I have been always grateful that Kitty did not agree.  For most of our married life, I was "that damned farmer Kitty married instead of a nice [insert professional occupation here]."  Toward the end Eileen actually admitted that I was a good person.  That's when I knew her life was coming to an end. 

     That January, she was hospitalized with what was thought to be congestive heart failure.  We visited her that day and damned if there weren't two buzzards sitting on the window outside her room.  She got a kick out of that.

     She was released from the hospital and put on hospice care.  She was able to enjoy her eightieth birthday with her family -- with more Chinese food, by the way.  She passed away that October, from COPD, not from heart failure.   She died at home quietly, with Kitty at her side.

     Eileen could be a difficult person and -- as my daughter used to say -- these were often difficult times.  But she survived and did it on her terms and that counts for a lot.  I understood where Eileen came from and respected her for that.  (Coincidently, my own mother's background was strikingly similar to Eileen's.)  At her heart, Eileen was a concerned and caring person.   For some reason two incidents stand out in my mind when I think of Eileen.

     When I was dating Kitty, Eileen had somehow found out that a friend of Kitty's younger brother did not have decent underwear -- he was one of several being raised by a single mother and money was tight.  That prompted Eileen to tell me to have my father (who owned his own business) to hire the boy for the summer so that he could have some money.  Every child should have decent underwear, Eileen told me.  (Yes, my father hired the boy, something that would not have happened without Eileen's insistance.)

      And, during her last months, hospice had a home aide visiting her several times a week.  Because we lived in the same house and took care for most of Eileen's needs, the home aide and Eileen would spend most of the time talking, with (surprisingly, I thought) Eileen mostly listening.  Eileen died shortly after 3:00 a.m. on a Monday morning.  Five hours later, the home aide pulled up to the house and I had to go out and explain that Eileen had just died.  The woman broke into tears against my shoulder.  Eileen had become her favorite, closest client.  (Later that day, I had to call some of her friends that she had been in daily contact with, and got the same reaction.)

     I can understand the tears.  Eileen was a remarkable person who sadly had buried her true self from many people and for many years.  My admiration and respect for her continues.  So today I wish her peace, in full knowledge that they serve Chinese food in Heaven.

Friday, July 13, 2012


The Ancient Track:  The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft, edited by S. T. Joshi (2001)

Pity poor HPL with his antiquarian sympathies and love for ancient allusion; where these combine in his poetry the results are less than favorable. 

     The Ancient Track contains about 500 poems (large and small, along with some fragments) that have been culled from amateur publications, letters, manuscripts, and what have you, and is divided into ten sections:  Juvenalia, Fantasy and Horror, Occasional Verse, Satire, Seasonal and Topigraphical, Amateur Affairs, Politics and Society, Personal, Alfredo:  A Tragedy, and Fragments.  The poems include the contents of the four previous main collections of Lovecraft's verse:  Collected Poems (1963), A Winter Wish (1977), Saturnalia and Other Poems (1984), and Medusa and Other Poems (1986), as well as The Crime of Crimes, a poem about the sinking of the Lusitania and the first work by Lovecraft to achieve a separate publication.

     Certainly some of Lovecraft's fantastic poetry, such as his sonnet cycle, Fungi from Yoggoth, will stand the test of time.  Much of his other (and much lesser) poetry was produced for various amateur publications early in his involvement with amateur journalism.   From The Tryout in July, 1919, a 54-line effort called Myrrha and Strephon begins:

          While zephys aesitival among the blooms
               Of Vulpes' tinted margin idly play
          And from far austral meads the strange perfumes
               Of lands unknown exert exotic sway,
          Upon the bank, beneath a willow's shade,
          Pensive each moon relines a beauteous maid.

     This according to Joshi's notes, is a poem on his friend and fellow amateur journalist Alfred Galpin, who was about to enter college.  This sort of overblown and forced poetry leaves me cold.

     Many of his poems consisted of effusive praise about his friends and colleagues and their literary achievements -- most of which must have been written with a distinctly uncritical eye: "Prais'd be the power that keeps the fire/And lining murmur of your lyre," "Wit, learning, art, were hers in amplitude," and "let none dispute her place, but let her shine/Impartial o'er the Graces and the Nine!"  Too much of this guff and the reader may go into diabetic shock.

     Some have claimed that Lovecraft was a racist, and his supposed prejudice against other peoples is amply portrayed in some of his early poetry (and, indeed, some later).  A number of poems bemoan the "mongrelization" of the country, with jabs at the Irish, Jews, Blacks, and others.  These give what I hope is a false impression of the man.  Those who knew him never discerned prejudice in his person, and much of his bias could be laid to the common and unthinking thought of his time.  I have to admit, though, that some of his doggerel is very off-putting.

     Despite the above, there is much to glean from this volume.  There is a sly and depricating humor that infuses many of the poems that were written for the amusement of his friends and were incorporated in his letters and cards.  The progression of his thoughts and feelings over time are clearly shown, along with his contradictary personal philosophy.  At the very worst, Lovecraft emerges as a person trapped within his persona, unable to break free.

     The Ancient Track provides a look at Lovecraft and his foray into amateur journalism, -- but at its core -- is of interest only to Lovecraft completists.  His legacy is better left to the handful of brilliant stories he produced, his influence on later generations, and the voluminous (and often brilliant) letters that he wrote.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Hard to believe, but this Saturday marks the hundredth birthday of Woody Guthrie, who left a legacy of over three thousand songs.  (And that's the ones we know of; there may be more yet to be discovered.)   If you want to understand the American character, you have to listen  to his songs.

Here are some of them.

Reuben James:

Do Re Mi:

So Long It's Been Good to Know You:

Hard Travelin':

Talking Dust Bowl Blues:

Hobo's Lullaby:

Better World A-Comin':

Jesus Christ:

Jesse James:

Roll on Columbia:

I'm cheating here:  Although many people think that Oklahoma Hills was written Woody Guthrie, it was actually written by his father, Charles Guthrie.  It was made popular by Woody's cousin Jack Guthrie, whose recording is here:

Biggest Thing Man Has Ever Done (The Great Historical Bum):

And, of course, This Land Is your Land:

(I'm a couple of days early for Woody Guthrie's centennial, but I'll be posting about a different birthday on Saturday.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


[In 1739, a London publisher released Joe Miller's Jest, a book of jokes supposedly containing jokes by and stories about Joe Miller, a popular  comic who had died the year before.  The book was actually written by a hack writer named John Mottley.  The book became wildly popular, and went through many printings and changes; over a century later, the book contained nearly 1300 jokes.  By this time, a truly bad joke was commonly referred to as a "Joe Miller." Most of the original jokes do not translate very well in the 21st Century.  Ah, well...]

          Joe Miller sitting one Day in the Window at the Sun-Tavern in Clare-Street,
          a Fish-Woman and her Maid passing by, the Woman cry'd, Buy my Soals, buy
          my Maids:  Ah, you wicked old Creature, cry'd honest Joe, What are you not
          content to sell your own Soul, but must you sell your Maid's too?

[Old Joe, he was a laugh a minute, he was.]

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Certainly one of the most unlikely -- yet most likeable -- film and television stars to grace the screen.

From 1954, here's the second episode of The Lone Wolf television series, starring Louis Hayward, with Ernest Borgnine guest starring as Lt. Joe Saks.

Farewell, Marty,"Fatso" Judson, Coley Trimble, Quinton McHale, Trucker Cobb, General Worden, Boris Vaslov, Dutch Engstrom, Rogo, Jonathan Corbis, Joe Cleaver, Angelo Dundee, Stanislaus Katczinsky, Dominic Santini, Carface, Manny Cordoba, Mermaid Man, and so many others.

Borgnine's last movie, The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vincente Fernandez, in which he stars, has just been completed.  He was 95.

Monday, July 9, 2012


  • "Christopher Anvil" (Harry C. Crosby), Pandora's Legions.  SF.  All of Anvil's Pandora stories, including the novel Pandora's Planet, reworked into one long novel. Edited by Eric Flint.
  • Catherine Asaro, Alpha.  SF, a sequel to Sunrise Alley.
  • Michael Bishop, No Enemy But Time.
  • Lewis Black, Me of Little Faith.  Essays in which the humorist tackles religion.
  • Alice Blanchard, Darkness Peering.  Thriller.
  • Thomas Clark, Bruce Woods, Peter Blockson, and Angela Terez, editors, The Writer's Digest Guide to Good Writing.  Forty-eight articles from the magazine, from 1921 to 1992, along with selected exerpts from well-known writers.  Articles by James Hilton, Erle Stanley Gardner, Irving Wallace, Louis L'Amour, Patricia McGerr, Allen Ginsberg, Stephen King, Harlan Ellison, Richard Deming, Isaac Asimov, and others.
  • Gardner Dozois, editor, The Year's Best Science Fiction:  Eleventh Annual Collection.  Twenty-three of the best SF stories from 1993.
  • Suzette Haden Elgin, The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense for Business Success and The Gentle Art of Written Self-Defense.  Two nonfictionbooks by the linguist and sometime science fiction author.
  • Jasper Fforde, The Big Over Easy.  A Nursery Crime Division investigation.
  • David G. Hartwell, editor, Masterpieces of Fantasy and Enchantment.  Forty-one stories and one excerpt covering the gamut of fantasy fiction.
  • Peter James, Possession.  Horror.
  • Mark Jasper, Haunted Inns of New England.  Dang it all!  I grew up in New England and never saw a haunted inn.  Or haunted anything for that matter.
  • Guy Gavriel Kay, A Song for Arbonne.  Fantasy.
  • Mercedes Lackey, editor.  Flights of Fancy.  Eleven fantasy stories about things that fly.  Copyrightalsso mentions Martin Greenberg's Tekno Books.
  • Louis L'Amour, Galloway and Treasure Mountain.  Two westerns in the Sackett series.
  • Edward Lee, Ghouls.  Horror.
  • David Liss, A Spectacle of Corruption.  Historical mystery, sequel to A Conspiracy of Paper.
  • Christopher Newman, Killer.  Mystery.
  • Anne Ross, The Folklore of the Scottish Highlands.
  • James H. Schmitz, Agent of Vega & Other Stories.  SF collection with eleven stories, four of which were previously published as Agent of Vega.
  • St. John D. Seymour and Harry L. Neligan, True Irish Ghost Stories.  First published in 1914.
  • Allen Steele, Oceanspace.  SF.
  • J. Michael Straczynski, The Complete Book of Scriptwriting.  From the creator of Babylon 5.
  • "Peter Tremayne" (Peter Beresford Ellis), The Haunted Abbey.  A Sister Fidelma mystery.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Representative Barney Frank got married today to his longtime partner James Ready.  About time!  I wish them both all happiness.

Speaking of weddings, one of Kitty's favorite shows is A&E's Sell This House Extreme.  We both enjoy to comment (positively or negatively)  on both the challenges and the designs that Roger Hazard comes up with.  (Unlike an earlier decorating/remodeling show, Trading Places, the Sell This House franchise does not deliberately fozzle some of the remodels.)   Caught the first show of the new season and -- gasp!gasp!gasp! -- Roger was not there; he had been replaced by a young, soft-cheeked designer.  All is not lost, however.  Tanye Meme is still with us, and with her are her two magnificent "tanyas," as weel as is her often low-cleavage tops.   BUT...where was Roger?!!?  Turns out that Roger also recently married his partner Chris last August. Wanting to move off in new directions, Roger left the show to concentrate on a new custom furniture business that he and Chris have started, and they are working on a new television show.  So congrats and huzzahs are also in order for Roger and Chris and best wishes on their future endeavors.

May both couples live the lives of their dreams.


One of my favs.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Z Is for Zombie by Theodore Roscoe (1937)

Pure pulp.  Purple prose, breakneck pace, weird happenings.  And to hell with political correctness!  And do you really need.  Full, grammatical sentences?

     Z Is for Zombie was first published as a six-part serial  in Argosy in 1937.  Small press Starmont House brought it out in book form in 1989 and Otto Penzler republished in his 2011 doorstop anthology Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!

     John Ranier had been had been a successful New York surgeon until he lost everything in the stock market crash.  His wife left him when his money left and Ranier began a long downward slide. For the past five years he had been serving as ship's doctor on a lowly steamship serving a New York to Caribbean route.  That's how he found him himself in a ramshackle bar in Haiti, drowning his sorrows when a group of passengers from his steamship entered.  The group had decided to go on a motoring tour and would join the ship later on the other side of the island.  One of the group is stabbed in the back, in front of witnesses and with no one near him.  Even the knife that stabbed him is gone.

     Seriously wounded but alive, the victim is taken to a small area hospital run by the mysterious Dr. Eberhardt with the help of his adopted niece, Lais Engles.  The group arrives during a fog-bound night.  The doctor is missing.  His office has been ransacked.  Lais recognizes the stabbing victim as a man who had died at the hospital and was buried fourteen years before.  (Did I mention that Dr. Eberhardt was experimenting with reviving dead calls?)  Even though he died fourteen years ago he died again that night.  A loud banging of a door.  A dark, horrible face seen staring outside the window.  And the corpse is missing.

      In 1918 Brazil and Peru had sided against Germany and Kaiser Wilhelm wanted to broker a secret pact with Chile to make war against Brazil and Peru.  Disguised as a tramp ship, the Kronprinz Albrecht headed off on the mission, captained by Lais' uncle.  Aboard were six-year-old Lais, an orphan, and a number of German soldiers.  The ship got lost in the labyrinth of the Amazon.  For four years they wandered through that maze.  When they finally emerged from the jungle they found that the war was long over.  Trying to make their way back to Germany, they are blown off-course and are beached in Haiti, but bringing with them from the jungles of Brazil the "mauve death," a virulent, lethal disease.  Helping to rescue those on the ship was Eberhardt, who brought the victims to his hospital.  There they died, one by one, except for young Lais.  One of the dead was Adolph Perl, a German soldier who had a distinctive scar on his hand and webbed toes -- the same man who had been stabbed and killed, dying again for the second time in fourteen years.

     While a local voodoo priest stirs up natives against the hospital, which the priest views as competition, Ranier and the others make a mad dash to Perl's grave.  The grave had been open but Perl's body was not there.  Instead they find the body of an old nurse sitting against the headstone.  At another cemetery they find the nurse's grave opened, but with the mummified body of an American marine there instead.  At the marine's grave, there was the body of a German colonel.  At the colonel's grave, the body of another soldier.

     While Ranier has been running from grave to grave, hundreds of incited natives have attacked the hospital, killing all the critical care patients and setting the building on fire.  Ranier rushes there to save Lais, who is trapped on the second floor but is calmly shooting the natives with a rifle.

     And so it goes.  Danger upon danger.  Mystery upon mystery.  And in the background the ominous sounds of the voodoo drums.  The finale taking place on the crowded docks of Port-au-Prince.

     I mentioned purple prose, didn't I?  Try this:

          The night, itself, was a ghost, fuming and blowing, trailing its gauzy veils across field
          and road, stalking in white cerements through the jungle, blindfolded with eerie
          bandages, muffled in cotton, embracing with clammy, half-liquid arms the earthy
          ghosts of black Haiti.

     Or this:

          His hot-potatoed words spluttered out above the thousand-tongued rattle of his car.


          In an outer circle of night nameless shadows moved; shapes cadaverous as the
          undernourished and grinning Holbein figures of Plague and Death pictured in old
          medical book wood-cuts.

     And, as mentioned, why use sentences when you don't need them?  And let's not forget sound effects:

          There were times when, the steering gear almost torn from his hands, he marveled
          that the chassis didn't rip from the wheels and jump the curve.  Moments when the
          wheels soared above the razorback bumps and his head cracked the roof.  Bump,
          swerve, screech and bang on an unpaved stretch.  Slewing a hairpin downhill turn
          as if cracked on the end of an invisible whip.  Slam-bam on the grade crossing.  Ziff-
          ziff-ziff the trees went by.  The fog cut to whistling mist-ribbons.  The night streaming
          past like soup. Swish! a curve.  Zip! an underpass.  Rrrrrrt! the narrow span of
          mountain bridge.  Hmmmmmm on a downhill chute.

     Pulps in the Thirties were not concerned with political correctness, in part because it had not been invented yet:

          A cry from Dr. Eberhardt's whiskers flung Ranier around to see the tree beyond
          the window monkey-jammed; Negroes shinning up the trunk, lizarding out on the
          gallery-touching limps, hanging in the bright foliage like clusters of monstrous fruit.


          His silhouette blocked the window, and his Congo presence filled the room with a
          lion-like breathing and a fetor of black grease.  A dented top hat was titled Ted Lewis
          fashion over his brows; around his naked shoulders a circlet of pig's-hoofs dangled;
          ragged pink trousers were belted by a dead snake from which hung an apron of
          gourd rattles [...] A convulsion scribbled the minstel face face under the tophat.
          [Note the "top hat" and the "tophat"]

     This book may not be everyone's cup of tea, but (low-brow that I am) I really enjoyed it.

     From Otto Penzler's introduction to Z As In Zombie:  "Theodore Roscoe (1906-1992) produced work in a variety of genres:  hard-boiled for Detective Fiction Weekly and Flynn's Detective Fiction, as well as the cult classic I'll Grind Their Bones (1936); Foreign Legion for Argosy and Adventure; boxing for Fight Stories; aviation for Air Stories; and horror for Weird Tales, among many other genres and magazines, but he is probably best-known for his adventure stories set in such exotic locales as Timbuktu, Tangier, Morocco, and Saigon, which were a mainstay of the contributions to Argosy."  A number of Roscoe's stories are available on the web at,  Another zombie-themed serial from Argosy, A Grave Must Be Deep, was published by Starmont in 1990.  A collection of three novellas, The Wonderful Lips of Thibong Linh, was published by Donald M. Grant in 1981.  Roscoe also wrote biographies and a number of books on naval history.


     Patti Abbott is back at her post, curating today's Friday's Forgotten Books.  Go to for links and other reviews.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel (2010)

Frank Gallows is a ghost hunter, a member of the Supernatural Immigration Task Force.  It's Frank's job to sent ghosts of all sorts back to the other side, and in this book the other side is Ghostopolis.  Time does not matter on the other side -- it does its own wonky thing.  Thus it was possible for Joe, a Tuskeegee airman, to build/create Ghostopolis bit by bit in six days (or maybe a billion years, take your pick).  Ghostopolis is just a way station for something bigger and brighter and (for the purposes of this graphic novel) unknowable.

     Frank finds himself hunting a night mare -- the skeletal ghost of a horse.  Just as he is sending the horse back to the other side, the night mare leaps through the wall of a house landing on top of Garth Hale, a young boy who is then accidently zapped to the ghost realm along with the night mare.  The thing about Garth is that he would soon be going to the other side no matter what:  he's dying of some unnamed disease.  Frank's task force has to retrieve Garth so he can spend what little time he has left back in the earthly realm.  Alas, Frank won't be going with the task force.  He has been fired for incompetence.

     Frank turns to his former girlfriend for help, the ghost Claire Voyant, whom he has conveniently failed to report to his superiors.  Claire has a machine that has just enough power to take them to Ghostopolis and back.  They head off to find Garth...

     ...Who faces danger in Ghostland.  Luckily Garth falls in with another boy who tries to help him return.  The other boy is Garth's own grandfather (I said time was wonky over there), and he and Garth, along with the Skinny, the skeletal night mare, head off for the capital of Ghostopolis.  Adventures continue, culminating a epic battle of good versus evil.

     Writer/artist Doug TenNapel, the creator of Earthworm Jim, has produced a thoroughly entertaining book with humor and insight.  Ghostopolis reminds me strongly of Jeff Smith's Bone with it's simplicity of detail and strong characterization.  Published for the YA market by Scholastic, Ghostopolis is an enjoyable experience for any age.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012


She refused to marry a tennis player because love meant nothing to him.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


From 1976, The Big Picture describes the history of Independence Day.  The Big Picture was a documentary series that was produced by the United States Army Signal Corps and was shown on ABC from 1951 to 1964.  After its ABC run the series continued in syndication into the 1970s.

And a brief patriotic video.  Music by the U. S. Army Band.

This short video has some great clips from the past.

From 1933, a Michigan farmer shows us a unique way to perform Yankee Doodle.

American history -- the Stan Freberg version.

I don't know why music about the NapoleonicWar has transformed to an American patriotic piece, but what is the Fourth of July without it, fireworks, and cannons?

Have a great holiday!


As usual, Todd Mason will have today's links at Sweet Freedom.

Monday, July 2, 2012


This was supposed to be a quiet week, but then a TARDIS appeared in my living room...

     The great Dr. Who extravaganza:

  • Christopher H. Bidmead, Doctor Who -- Castrovelva (1983), Doctor Who -- Frontios (1984), and Doctor Who -- Logopolis (1982).  That first one sounds like someone spilled cologne on the sofa.
  • Ian Stuart Black, Doctor Who -- The Savages (1986).
  • Barbara Clegg, Doctor Who -- Enlightenment (1984).
  • Donald Cotton, Doctor Who -- The Gunfighters (1985), Doctor Who -- The Myth Makers (1985), and Doctor Who -- The Romans (1987).
  • Gerry Davis, Doctor Who and the Cybermen (1974). Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet (1976), Doctor Who and the Tomb of the Cybermen (1978), and Doctor Who -- The Highlanders (1984).The first three of these also lists Kit Pedler, who co-wrote the original scripts with Davis, on the copyright.
  • Gerry Davis and Alison Bingeman, Doctor Who -- The Celestial Toymaker (1986).
  • Terrance Dicks, Doctor Who and an Unearthly Child (1981, a novelization of the very first Doctor Who story), Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowman (1974; the original scriptwriters Melvyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln are also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Android Invasion (1978), Doctor Who and the Androids of Tara (1980; original scriptwriter David Fisher is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Armageddon Factor (1980), Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion (1974; original scriptwriter Robert Holmes is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Brain of Morbius (1977; original scriptwriter Robin Bland is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Carnival of Monsters (1977; original scriptwriter Robert Holmes is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Claws of Axos (1977), Doctor Who and the Dalek Invasion of Earth (1977; original scriptwriter Terry Nation is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks (1974; Louis Marks is also included on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Deadly Assassin (1977), Doctor Who and the Destiny of the Daleks (1979), Doctor Who and the Face of Evil (1978; original scriptwriter Chris Boucher is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Genesis of the Daleks (1976), Doctor Who and the Giant Robot (1975), Doctor Who and the Hand of Fear (1979; original scriptwriters Bob Baker and Dave Martin are listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Horns of Nimon (1980), Doctor Who and the Horror of Fang Rock (1978), Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl (1979; original scriptwriter Chris Boucher is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and Invasion of Time (1979; original scriptwriter David Agnes is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Invisible Enemy (1979), Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken (1982), Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster (1976; Robert Banks Stewart is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Monster of Peladon (1980), Doctor Who and the Mutants (1977), Doctor Who and the Nightmare of Eden (1980), Doctor Who and the Planet of Evil (1979), Doctor Who and the Planet of the Daleks (1976), Doctor Who and the Planet of the Spiders (1975; original scriptwriter Robert Sloman is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Power of Kroll (1980; original scriptwriter Robert Holmes is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars (1979), Doctor Who and the Revenge of the Cybermen (1975; Gerry Davis is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Robots of Death (1979; original scriptwriter Chris Boucher is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the State of Decay (1981), Doctor Who and the Stones of Blood (1980; original scriptwriter David Fisher is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Sunmakers (1982), Doctor Who and the Talons of Weng-Chiang (1977; Robert Holmes is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons (1975), Doctor Who and the Three Doctors (1975; original scriptwriters Robert Baker and Dave Martin are also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Time Warrior (1978; original scriptwriter Robert Holmes is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Underworld (1980), Doctor Who and the Web of Fear (1976; original scriptwriters Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln are also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who -- Arc of Infinity (1983), Doctor Who -- Death to the Daleks (1978), Doctor Who -- Four to Doomsday (1983), Doctor Who -- Inferno (1984), Doctor Who -- Kinda (1983), Doctor Who -- Meglos(1983), Doctor Who -- Snakedance (1984), Doctor Who -- The Caves of Androzani (1984), Doctor Who-- The Faceless Ones (1986), Doctor Who -- The Five Doctors (1983), Doctor Who -- The Krotons (1985; the Doctor battles those things you put on salads and in soup?), Doctor Who -- The Mind of Evil (1985),  Doctor Who -- The Seeds of Death (1986), Doctor Who -- The Time Monster (1985), and Doctor Who -- Warriors of the Deep (1984).
  • Terence Dudley, Doctor Who -- Black Orchid (1986) and Doctor Who -- The King's Demons 1986).
  • William Emms, Doctor Who -- Galaxy Four (1985).
  • Paul Erickson, Doctor Who -- The Ark (1986).
  • David Fisher, Doctor Who and the Creature from the Pit (1981) and Doctor Who and the Leisure Time (1980).
  • Peter Grimwade, Doctor Who -- Mawdryn Undead (1983), Doctor Who -- Planet  of Fire (1984), and Doctor Who -- Time-Flight (1983).
  • Brian Hayles, Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon (1974) and Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors (1976).
  • Philip Hinchcliffe, Doctor Who and the Keys of Marinus (1980), Doctor Who and the Masque of Madragora (1977; Louis Marks is also listed on the copyright), and Doctor Who and the Seeds of Doom (1977; Robert Banks Stewert is also listed on the copyright).
  • Malcolm Hulke, Doctor Who and the Cave-Monsters (1974), Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon (1974), Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion (1976), Doctor Who and the Green Death (1975; original scriptwriter Robert Sloman is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Sea-Devils (1974), Doctor Who and the Space War (1976), and Doctor Who and the War Games (1979; copyrighted by both the original scriptwriters, Hulke and Terrance Dicks).
  • Barry Letts, Doctor Who and the Daemons (1974; original scriptwriter Guy Leopold is also listed on the copyright).
  • Peter Ling, Doctor Who and the Mindrobber (1986).
  • John Lucarotti, Doctor Who -- The Aztecs (1984), Doctor Who -- Marco Polo (1984), and Doctor Who -- The Massacre (1987).
  • "John Lydecker" (Stephen Gallagher), Doctor Who and the Warriors' Gate (1982) and Doctor Who -- Terminus (1983).
  • Ian Marter, Doctor Who and the Ark in Space (1977; original scriptwriter Robert Holmes is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Enemy of the World (1981; original scriptwriter David Whitaker is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Ribos Operation (1979; original scriptwriter Robert Holmes is also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who and the Sontaran Experiment (1978; original scriptwriters Bob Baker and DaveMartin are also listed on the copyright), Doctor Who -- Earthshock (1983), Doctor Who -- The Dominators (1984), Doctor Who -- The Invasion (1985), Doctor Who -- The Reign of Terror 1987), and Doctor Who -- The Rescue (1987).
  • Victor Pemberton, Doctor Who -- Fury from the Deep (1986).
  • Eric Pringle, Doctor Who -- The Awakening (1985).
  • Eric Saward, Doctor Who and the Visitation (1982).
  • Andrew Smith, Doctor Who -- Full Circle (1982).
  • Bill Strutton, Doctor Who and the Zarbi  (1965).
  • David Whitaker, Doctor Who and the Crusaders (1965) and Doctor Who and the Daleks (1964; original scriptwriter Terry Nation is also listed on the copyright.  This novelizes the Doctor's first televised adventure with the Daleks).
     Phew!  Lest you think that I was totally fixated on the Doctor this past week, here's the rest of the Incoming:

  • Kate Atkinson, Case Histories.  Mystery.
  • Stephen Baxter, Time's Tapestry, Book Two:  Conqueror.  SF.
  • Greg Bear, Mariposa.  Thriller.
  • Orson Scott Card, Shadow Puppets.  SF, part the of Ender saga.
  • John M. Ellis, One Fairy Story Too Many:  The Brothers Grimm and Their Tales.  Nonfiction, exploring the sources of the tales.
  • Diana Graziunas and Jim Starlin, Pedators.  Horror.
  • Hans Holzer, Life Beyond: Compelling Evidence for Part Lives and Existence After Death.  From one of my favorite expounders of bushwah.
  • Brian Lumley, Blood Brothers, Demogorgan, The House of Doors, Necroscope, Necroscope III:  The Source, Necroscope IV:  Deadspeak, Necroscope V:  Deadspawn, Necrosope, The Lost Years, Volume Two:  Resurgence, Psychomech, and Psychosphere.  Horror all.
  • Marie J. MacNee, The Crime Emcyclopedia:  The World's Most Notorious Outlaws, Mobsters and Crooks.  Nonfiction, with a sometimes bending of the word "outlaw" to include Calamity Jane and Wyatt Earp, and maybe others.
  • Marcia Muller, Locked In.  A Sharon McCone mystery.
  • Tim Tresslar, Don Pendleton's Stony Man #79:  Promise To Defend.  Men's action adventure.
  • Richard S. Wheeler, Trouble in Tombstone.  A historical novel set in the West.  Few people do it better than Wheeler.