Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Back in the days before I discovered girls, my life was pretty simple.  I ran around and played.  I read comics books.  I watched TV.  I was not very discriminate back then.  I'd play any game or just run for the hell of it.  I'd read any comic book, although I did prefer the funny animal type of comic.  (I'd even read an issue of so of my sister's yucky love comic books.)  And I'd watch almost anything on TV, bowing to the preferences of my parents or the occasional babysitter.  But on Saturday mornings, I got to watch some of my favorites:  Hopalong Cassidy and Captain Midnight.

I don't know why I liked Captain Midnight so much.  Sure, the dreadful plots and acting made sense to my uncritical eye.  And I don't remember the show having too much action, but I remember well how much I enjoyed Icky, Captain Midnight's sidekick, played by Sid Melton.  When the show went into syndication the name "Captain Midnight" did not go with it.  The producers did not own the name, so the show was retitled Jet Jackson, Flying Jackson, and every time the name Captain Midnight was uttered, the syndicated show would replace it with a very poorly dubbed "Jet Jackson."  (This confused the hell out of me, but I continued watching the show anyway.)

Captain Midnight began on the radio.  Jim Albright, a WWI Army pilot, gained the moniker after returning from a secret mission at the stroke of midnight.  In 1938, when the radio program premiered, he was a private pilot who liked to help people. By 1940, however, he was to head the Secret Squadron, a paramilitary organization formed to battle espionage in the years leading up to our involvement in WWII.  Not unsurprisingly, the villains they faced were nasty Germans and Japanese.
With the end of the war, the Secret Squadron tackled criminals and enemies of America, both here and abroad.

Captain Midnight became a short-lived comic book from Dell in 1941 before it had a six-year run as a Fawcett comic from 1942-1948.  Also in 1942, the character starred in his own newspaper comic strip.  The background and characters here varied somewhat from the radio series in the comic strip and widely in the Fawcett comic.  (The Fawcett comic also rebranded Albright as a genius scientist/inventor.)

A fifteen-episode movie serial was filmed in 1942 with Dave O'Brien in the title role.  Here, Captain Midnight was a costumed hero and no mention was made of the Secret Squadron.

The television show from Screen Gems ran for 39 episodes from 1954 to 1956.  The Captain (played by Richard Webb) was now a veteran of the Korean War and the Secret Squadron was now a private organization.  The only holdover character was Ichabod (Icky) Mudd.  Joining the cast was Aristotle "Tut" Jones, resident scientist, played by Olan Soule.  The show was sponsored by Ovaltine, which claimed to be a healthy drink for kids.   (My parents never bought Ovaltine, darn it!, so I only had it when I was over at friends' houses -- it was delicious and not as healthy as I had been led to believe.)

Today, Captain Midnight -- not Jet Jackson, please -- has been revived by both Moonstone Press and Dark Horse comics.

From October 12, 1955, an episode of Captain Midnight -- "The Frozen Men":

Monday, April 29, 2013


  • Brian Aldiss, New Arrivals, Old Encounters.  SF collection with  twelve stories.
  • [Anonymously edited anthologies], Buffy the Vampire Slayer:  Tales of the Slayer, Volume 2 (TV tie-in anthology with ten stories) and Dead Bait (horror anthology with nineteen stories.
  • Benjamin Appel, The Devil and W. Kaspar.  Science fantasy.
  • Mike Ashley, editor, The Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories.  Mystery anthology with twenty-six non-Canonical stories.
  • Iain M. Banks, Surface Detail.  SF.  A Culture novel.
  • Clive Barker, Forms of Heaven.  Collection of three plays:  Crazyface, Paradise Street, and Subtle Bodies.
  • Peter S. Beagle, editor, The Secret History of Fantasy.  I'd mention that this is a fantasy anthology with nineteen stories, but...shhh!  It's a secret!
  • Ben Bova, editor, Analog Yearbook.  SF collection with six stories and five features.
  • Rhys Bowen, Murphy's Law. A Molly Murphy mystery.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold, Borders of Infinity and The Warrior's Apprentice.  SF, both in the Miles Vorkosigan series.
  • Terry Carr, editor, The Ides of Tomorrow.  SF/horror anthology with nine stories.
  • C. J. Cherryh, At the Edge of Space.  Omnibus volume containing SF novels Brothers of Earth and Hunter of Worlds.
  • Gardner Dozois, editor, The Year's Best Science Fiction, Fifteenth Annual Collection.  SF anthology with twenty-eight stories from 1997.
  • Elizabeth Foxwell, editor, The Sunken Sailor.  A round-robin mystery by fourteen top authors.
  • Craig Shaw Gardner, Wishbringer.  Gaming tie-in novel.
  • Christopher Golden, editor, Hellboy:  Odder Jobs.  Horror/comic book tie-in anthology with sixteen stories.
  • David Lynn Golemon, Legend.  Thriller.
  • Ed Gorman, Cage of Night.  Suspense.
  • Martin H. Greenberg, editor, Murder for Mother (mystery anthology with eighteen stories) and UFOs:  The Greatest Stories (SF anthology with eleven stories).
  • Kathleen Halligan, editor, Women of Mystery, Book 3.  Mystery anthology with nineteen stories.
  • Maxim Jakubowski, editor, The Mammoth Book of Comic Crime.  Mystery anthology with forty-two stories.
  • Diana Wynne Jones, The Magicians of Caprona/Witch Week.  Two YA fantasy novels in the Chronicles of Chrestomanci.
  • Stephen Jones, editor, The Dead That Walk and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Volume Eleven.  Horror anthologies with twenty-four and twenty-one stories (from 1999), respectively.
  • Richard A. Knaak, Night of Blood.  Gaming (DragonLance) tie-in. Volume One of The Minotaur Wars.
  • Damon Knight, editor, Orbit 10.  SF anthology with eleven stories.
  • "Justin Ladd," Abilene, Book 1:  The Peacemaker.  Western.
  • Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant, editors, The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet.  Science Fantasy anthology with a zillion stories, poems, and whatnot.
  • Cynthia Manson, editor, Women of Mystery, Book 1.  Mystery anthology with fifteen stories.
  • Anne McCaffrey, The Renegades of Pern.  Dragons, dragons, dragons.
  • John Mortimer, The First Rumpole Omnibus (containing Rumpole of the Bailey, The Trials of Rumpole, and Rumpole's Return, with a total of twelve stories and a novel) and The Second Rumpole Omnibus (containing Rumpole for the Defence, Rumpole and the Golden Thread, and Rumpole's Last Case, a total of twenty stories).  Mystery stories, sort of.
  • Warren Murphy & Richard Sapir, The Destroyer #62:  The Seventh Stone and #63:  The Sky Is Falling.  Men's action adventure.
  • Andrew Neiderman, Child's Play.  Horror.
  • Andre Norton, 'Ware Hawk.  A Witch World novel.  Somewhere along the line this series has gone from science fiction to fantasy.
  • Sara Paretsky, Blacklist.  A V.I. Warshawski mystery.
  • David Pringle, general editor, The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.  Reference.
  • Capt. Kevin D. Randle, USAFR, Border Winds.  Near-future military thriller, Volume Two in the Global War series.  The military title adds a certain gravitas, don't you think?
  • Mike Resnick, Adventures.  Fix-up fantasy of twelve Lucifer Jones stories.
  • John Ringo & Brian M. Thomsen, editors, Citizens.  Military SF anthology with fifteen stories.
  • Tom Robbins, Wild Ducks Flying Backward.  The short writings:  stories, poems, essays, opinion, etc.
  • Marcus Sakey, The Blade Itself.  Thriller.
  • John Saul, Second Child.  Horror.
  • Lawrence Schimel & Martin H. Greenberg, editors, Louisiana Vampires and Vampire Stories from New England.  Horror anthologies with thirteen and ten stories, respectively.
  • David J. Searls, Yellow Moon.  Horror.
  • Ekaterina Sedia, editor, Running with the Pack.  Werewolf anthology with twenty-two stories.
  • Robert Silverberg, A Century of Fantasy, 1980-1989.  Fantasy anthology with eighteen stories.
  • Rosemary Sutcliff, Sword at Sunset.  Arthurian novel.
  • Peter Tremayne, Suffer Little Children.  A Sister Fidelma mystery.
  • Howard Waldrop, Night of the Cooters.  SF collection with ten stories.
  • Richard S. Wheeler, Fire in the Hole.  Western.
  • Margaret Weiss & Tracy Hickman, Dragons of a Vanished Moon.  Gaming (DragonLance) tie-in, Volume III of The War of Souls.
  • Dave Zeltserman, The Caretaker of Lorne Field.  Noirish horror.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


From January 1940, this issue introduces that G-Man extraordinary, The Shield!  (And if you thought superheroes who wear underpants on the outside was silly, wait until you catch a look at this guy's costume.)

Also in this issue:  The Comet (The Most Astonishing Man on the Face of the Earth!), Sergeant Boyle (a Yankee student who joins the British Expeditionary Forces to fight the Germans*), The Rocket (stranded in the Diamond Empire on an alien planet), Fu Chang, International Detective (a "Chinaman" who owns a magic chess set that has all the powers of Aladdin's Lamp...huh?), Bentley of Scotland Yard (vs. the Mayfair Monster!), Flash Calvert, ace reporter, a.k.a. The Falcon, who also is The Press Guardian (got that?), The Midshipman, Kayo Ward, funny talking animals, and more!  What more can you ask for on a beautiful April Saturday?

*  In case you ever wondered why the Germans lost, here's a clue:  their secret code was to write the message English.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Atomic Chili:  The Illustrated Joe R. Lansdale (1996)

Eight stories and one novel by hisownself are adapted in comic book format in this marvelous collection edited by Rick Klaw.  The stories collected here show a new dimension to some of Lansdale's best early work; the varied artwork is a great complement to his tales.

I've always considered Lansdale to be a storyteller rather than a writer.  I can picture these stories being told around a campfire, each tale told to exaggerate perfection while the listener hunkers before the fire quivering with a soupcon of delighted fear.  There is no other voice in literature like Lansdale's:  incisive, profane, witty, audacious, and just plain fun.  He's one of the best writers we have and whatever Texas did to make him what he was was right on target.

Here's a run-down of the stories:

  • "The Grease Trap" - Scripted by Lansdale and drawn by Ted Naifeh.  This one is dedicated to EC Comics and features a squid-like monster made of fecal matter. 
  • "Trains Not Taken" - Adapted by Neal Barrett, Jr. and drawn by John Garcia.  In an alternate universe where the Japanese control the west coast of America, Samuel Morse has invented the pulsating energy train, and cavalry and samurai alike were slaughtered at Little Big Horn, Bill Cody and James Hickok strike up an acquaintance on a train and talk about what might have been.
  • "By Bizarre Hands" - Adapted by Jerry Prosser and drawn by Dean Roher.  Itinerant "Preacher" and pederast Preacher Judd tries to use Halloween as an excuse to molest a severely retarded girl -- with bloody results.
  • "Night They Missed the Horror Show"  Adapted by Barrett and drawn by Marc Erickson.  One of Lansdale's most powerful stories and hands-down one of the greatest stories in any genre.  Two good ol' boys discover what prejudice really is.
  • Dead in the West - Adapted by Barrett and drawn by Jack Jackson.  From Lansdale's early weird western novel and presented in two parts, this 96-pager pits the Reverend Jebidiah Mercer against an Indian curse and a townful of zombies.  Mercer is also featured in several of Lansdale's latter stories.
  • "Tight Little Stiches in a Dead Man's Back" - Adapted by Barrett and drawn by Phillip Hester.  A man tries to survive in a bleak, mutated future while knowing that he is responsible for Armageddon and the death of his daughter.
  • "Pilots" - Adapted by Richard Klaw and drawn by Tom Foxmarnick.  Four disfigured Vietnam vets exact a bloody vengeance against truckers.
  • "Steel Valentine" - Adapted by Klaw and drawn by Erickson.  A revenge story about a cuckolded husband and the biter bit.les as a paid killer.
  • "The Job" - Adapted by Klaw and drawn by John Lucas.  An Elvis impersonator doubles as a hired killer.
All but two of the adapted stories ("Pilots" and "The Job") have appeared previously.  The first story ("The Grease Trap") appears to have been original to this book and had not appeared in prose form before.

All in all, this is strong meat and will not be to everyone's taste.  For Lansdale fans, though, this one is a treat.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


As of today, 75% of my grandchildren are teenagers and the other 25% reached double digits last February.  Where in heck does the time go?

Amy, our beautiful blonde girl, turned fifteen last Thursday.  Smart, witty, ambitious...the only negative thing that I can think of about her is that she stopped bringing me my morning coffee once she moved 500 miles away.  Rotten kid.  But her smile more than makes up for that.  When she smiles, I light up like a Fourth of July rocket.  In a few more years, Amy will be unleashed to the world and the world will be a far better place.

Mark, who turned thirteen today, doesn't have a wide smile like his cousin.  Mark's smile is a quiet one as befits a somewhat quiet boy.  When he smiles, though, his eyes also light up and you just know that this boy is something special.  He's beginning to come into his own now, talking more and more to adults.  He has a way that just draws friends to him.  He's super smart and would have all As if only he would remember to turn in his assignments.  Typical boy.  He's into soccer and track is excellent at both.

Amy is gorgeous and Mark is very handsome.  They got the genes from both sets of parents and (he said modestly) their maternal grandparents.

I am so proud of both of them.  Kitty and I did something right with both our daughters and they, in turn, are something very right with their children.

We love you, Amy.  We love you, Mark.  May this year and every following year be all that you wish for.


I wore out my album from this Scottish folk group many years ago.  Here's why.

Marilyn Monroe:

Dirty Old Town:

The Sun is Burning:

The Fireman's Song:

Here Come the Navvies:

Lord Brackley:

Come Kiss Me:

Viva la Quince Brigada:

The Cutty Wren:

Canny Lad the Miner:


The September 1931 Astounding Stories short by Edmond Hamilton.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


People are conflicted about how my grandfather died.  You see, he fell into a vat of varnish and drowned.  Some people thought it was a terrible way to go while others thought it was a beautiful finish.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Here's an oater with Randolph Scott, Forrest Tucker, and Mala Powers.  J. Carroll Nash, Edgar Buchanan, and Denver Pyle play supporting roles.  Helmed by Tim Whelan, the film was scripted by Horace McCoy from a story by Frank Gruber.

Scott plays James Barlow, a private detective who goes undercover in 1866 Indiana to stop the Reno Brothers gang.  There's also a Reno sister, and Barlow falls for her.  Uh-oh.

Monday, April 22, 2013


  • Jerry Ahern, The Defender #11:  The Challenge.  Near future thriller, sort of a Red Dawn without teenagers, I guess.
  • Sherman Alexie, Reservation Blues.  Literary fantasy.  Bluesman Robert Johnson on a Spokane Indian reservation.
  • Piers Anthony, Chaining the Lady, Cluster, Dragon on a Pedestal, Golem in the Gears, Harpy Time, Kirlian Quest, and Viscous Circle.   Four books in the SF Cluster series and three in the fantasy Xanth series.
  • Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier, Sergio Aragones' The Groo Chronicles, Book 2.  Comic collection.
  • Kate Atkinson, Behind the Scenes at the Museum.   Novel.  the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year.
  • Brian N. Ball, Singularity Station.  SF.
  • James Barwick, Shadow of the Wolf.  "What if?" thriller concerning Rudolph Hess' secret trip to Scotland.
  • Christopher Bennett, X-Men:  Watchers on the Walls.  Comic book tie-in novel.
  • Donna Boyd, The Promise.  Werewolf novel.
  • Matthew Braun, El Paso.  Western.  A poor copy from 1973, held together with tape but still readable.
  • Abigail Browning, Murder Most Merry.  Thirty-two Christmas crime stories from EQMM and AHMM.
  • Austin S. Camacho, Collateral Damage.  A Hannibal Jones mystery; signed copy.
  • Jonathan Carroll, The Ghost in Love and White Apples.  Fantasies.
  • Lin Carter, Down to a Sunless Sea and Dragonrouge.  An SF novel about the "legendary Mars" and an adult fantasy.
  • Suzanne Collins, Gregor the Overlander.  YA fantasy.  Book One in the Underland Chronicles.
  • Ralph Cotton, Blood Money, Border Dogs, Dead Man's Canyon, Gunfight at Cold Devil, Guns of Wolf ValleyHell's Riders, Jackpot Ridge, Jurisdiction, The Law in Somos Santos, Sabre's Edge, Showdown at Rio Sagrado, Trouble Creek, Vengeance Is a Bullet, and Webb's Posse.  Westerns.
  • Thomas B. Dewey, The Taurus Trip (a Mac novel)/Thomas B. Reagan, Blood Money/Richard Martin Stern, Manuscript for Murder.  A Detective Book Club volume.
  • Hallie Ephron, Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel.
  • P. N. Elrod, editor, Dracula in London.  Vampire anthology with sixteen stories.
  • Raymond E. Feist, Magician:  Master.  Fantasy, Volume II in the Riftwar Saga.
  • R.V. Fodor & G. J. Taylor, Impact!  SF disaster novel.
  • Alan Dean Foster, The Man Who Used the Universe and The Time of the Transference.  SF.
  • Ariana Franklin, Mistress of  the Art of Death.  The first mystery in the Adelia series, winner of the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award.  Kitty just read this one and loved, loved, loved it.
  • Stephen Goldin, Caravan.  SF.
  • Heather Graham, The Unholy.  Romantic fantasy, first in the Krewe of Hunters trilogy.
  • "Rod Gray" (Gardner F. Fox), The Lady from L.U.S.T.  The first in the sex/spy series.
  • Simon R. Green, Blood and Honor and Down Among the Dead Men.  Fantasies.
  • Stephen Gresham, Demon's Eye.  Horror.
  • Julia Grice, Cry for the Demon.  Horror.
  • W. A. Harbinson, Otherworld. Fantasy.
  • Erin Hart, Haunted Ground.  Mystery.
  • Rick Hautala, Moondeath.  Horror.
  • Lian Hearn, Brilliance of the Moon.  Fantasy, Book Three of the Tales of the Otari.
  • William Hefferan, Red Angel.  A Paul Devlin mystery. 
  • Will Henry, San Juan Hill (historical novel) and Yellowstone Kelly (western).  Does anyone remember the Clint Walker movie with Edd Bynes and John Russell?
  • Reginald Hill, Arms and the Woman.  A Dalziel and Pascoe mystery.
  • Alfred Hitchcock, credited editor, Noose Report.  Mystery anthology with fourteen stories.
  • Tom Holt, Valhalla.  Comic fantasy.
  • Alex Irvine, The Ultimates:  Against All Enemies.  Comic book tie-in novel.
  • P. D. James, Death Comes to Pemberley.  Murder with the characters from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
  • Ken Johnson, Hounds of Dracula.  Horror,
  • J. A. Johnstone, The Loner:  Infernal and The Loner:  Killer Poker.  Westerns.
  • William W. Johnstone, The First Mountain Man:  Preacher's Journey, The First Mountain Man:  Preacher's Peace, Quest of the Mountain Man, and Trek of the Mountain Man.  Westerns.
  • William W. Johnstone with Fred Austin, The Return of the Dog Team.  Thriller.
  • William W. Johnstone with J. A. Johnstone, The Brothers O'Brien, Bloodshed of Eagles, Crusade of Eagles, The First Mountain Man:  Preacher's Pursuit, and Rage of the Mountain Man/Betrayal of the Mountain Man (omnibus of two books, the first by William W. Johnstone alone).  Westerns.
  • Daniel Kalla, Pandemic. Disaster novel.
  • "M. E. Kerr" (Marijane Meaker), Gentlehands.  YA.
  • Damon Knight, The Sun Saboteurs, bound with The Light of Lilith by G. McDonald Wallis (an Ace SF Double), and as editor, Orbit 12 (SF anthology with fourteen stories).
  • Nick Kyme, Salamander.  Gaming (Warhammer 40,000) tie-in novel; Book I in the Tome of Fire trilogy.
  • Richard La Plante, Mantis.  Thriller.
  • Mercedes Lackey, editor, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar.  Fantasy anthology with fourteen stories.
  • R. Karl Largent, The Jakarta Plot.  Technothriller.
  • Keith Laumer, Reward for Retief.  SF.
  • Stephen Leigh, A Quiet of Stone.  SF novel in the Neweden series.
  • Bentley Little, The Academy.  Horror.
  • Alistair MacLean, The Guns of Navarone.  A 1966 abridged paperback movie tie-in edition of the classic adventure novel.
  • Peter McCurtin, Drumfire/Buffalo War.  A double western, both books in the Sundance series.
  • Val McDermid, The Last Temptation. A Tony Hill mystery/thriller.
  • Richard S. McEnroe, editor, Proteus:  Voices of the 80's.  SF anthology with fourteen stories.  "A Destinies Special."
  • Ian McEwan, Black Dogs.  Novel.
  • Denise Mina, Field of Blood.  Mystery.
  • Joseph Nassise, Heretic.  Horror/military thriller mash-up.  Book One of the Templar Chronicles.
  • Michael Nava, The Death of Friends, How Town, and The Little Death.  Henry Rios mysteries.
  • Douglas Niles, Darkwalker on Moonshae (a Forgotten Realms novel) and Fistandantilus Reborn (Volume II of the Lost Legends in the Dragonlance Saga).  Gaming tie-in novels.
  • Andre Norton, Here Abide Monsters, Lavender-Green Magic, Warlock of the Witch World, and The Zero Stone.  The first two are fantasies, the remaining two SF.
  • Andrew Offut, The Undying Wizard.  Sword & Sorcery featuring Robert E, Howard's Cormac Mac Art.
  • Sharon Kay Penman, The Queen's Man.  A Justin de Quincy medieval mystery.
  • Anne Perry, editor, Thou Shalt Not Kill.  Mystery anthology with fifteen stories inspired by the Bible.
  • Ludek Pesak, The Earth Is Near.  SF, translated from the German by Anthea Bell.
  • Felice Picano, Ambidextous.  Autobiographical novel.
  • Nancy Picard, editor, Mom, Apple Pie, and Murder.  Mystery anthology with fifteen stories and a bunch (bushel?) of apple recipes.
  • H. Beam Piper, Empire.  SF collection of five stories, although the back cover says that it is four stories.
  • Barry Porter, Junkyard.  Horror.
  • "Dray Prescott" as told to "Alan Burt Akers" (Kenneth Bulmer), Talons of Scorpio.  SF, #30 in the series.
  • Robert J. Randisi, In the Shadow of the Arch.  A Joe Keough mystery.
  • Ian Rankin, Black and Blue, The Black Book, Hide and Seek, Knots and Crosses, Set in Darkness, and Strip Jack.  John Rebus mysteries.
  • Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Dream-Land.  Horror.
  • Rick Riordan, The Last King of Texas.  A Tres Navarre mystery.
  • David Robbins, Blood Duel and Bucked Out in Dodge.  Westerns, both "Ralph Compton" novels; also, The Wraith, a horror novel.
  • Fred Saberhagen, The Berserker Throne.  SF.
  • R. A. Salvatore, Sojourn.  Gaming (Forgotten Realms) tie-in novel, Book III of The Legend of Drizzt.
  • John Sanford, Dark of the Moon.  A Virgil Flowers thriller.
  • Al Sarrantonio, editor, 999.  Horror anthology with twenty-nine stories.
  • Robert J. Sawyer, Hominids.  SF.
  • "Dell Shannon" (Elizabeth Linington), Root of All Evil.  A Luis Mendoza mystery.
  • Cotton Smith, Pray for Texas.  Western.
  • Whitley Strieber & James Kunetka, War Day.  Apocalyptic novel.
  • Newton Thornburg, To Die in California.  Mystery.
  • Robert Vaughan, The Bozeman Trail.  Western. a "Ralph Compton" novel.
  • Richard Winer, Ghost Ships:  True Stories of Nautical Nightmares, Hauntings, and Disasters.  I'm a sucker for these so-called true stories.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013


Mystery Scene Reader - introduction by Ed Gorman (1987)

Mystery Scene is one of the most influential magazines in the field today, offering sharp. incisive articles and profiles and knowledgeable reviews -- all in a slick, attractive package.  It's been a long journey from rag-tag fanzine to today, but Mystery Scene from its very beginnings has had its heart in the right place.  It began when Ed Gorman and Robert Randisi decided it was time for the mystery field to have a magazine that would do for mysteries as Locus did for the science fiction field -- a news vehicle that would be useful to the professional and the fan alike.  Cap'n Bob Napier distributed the first small (four-page) issue with a letterzine in 1985.   By the third issue, Mystery Scene had grown to a respectably-sized magazine.  In its early days, the magazine had a wonderful scatter-shot approach.  You always knew that you would get great articles, interviews, and reviews, along with the latest news of the field in each issue, but you never really knew exactly what goodies you would find inside:  controversy sometimes, articles on westerns sometimes, a side trip into horror sometimes, an occasional short story, every issue always had something unique.  The magazine kept morphing, always changing, always exciting.  As much as I admire and respect the Mystery Scene of today, I sure miss the old one.

Mystery Scene Reader gives you a taste of the old magazine.  The first third of the book consists of tributes to John D. MacDonald, who had died the year before.  MacDonald was the professional's professional, something more than evident by the tributes from so many writers:  Lawrence Block, Jon L. Breen, Charles Champlin, Max Allan Collins, Harlan Ellison, Loren D. Estleman, Mickey Friedman, William Campbell Gault, Joe Gores, Ron Goulart, Joe L. Hensley, Tony Hillerman, Rob Kantnor, Stephen King, Joseph Koenig, Dean Koontz (back when he was Dean R. Koontz), Joe R. Lansdale, Dick Lupoff, John Lutz, Otto Penzler, Bob Randisi, Walter and Jean Shine, Striling Silliphant, Andrew Vachss, Donald E. Westlake, Teri White, and Charles Williford.

There's fiction.  Five short stories:
  • "Soft Monkey" by Harlan Ellison.
  • "Failed Prayers" by Ed Gorman
  • "Orczy Must Go!" by Ron Goulart
  • "Digging Up Arthur" by Ardath Mayhar
  • "Deathwatch" by Bill Pronzini
These stories alone are worth the price of admission.  Wait.  There's more.

Seven in-depth, personal interviews with George Baxt (I hadn't realized that he pseudonymously wrote The Abominal Dr. Phibes), Dean Koontz (with a wonderful story about a truly bad editor), John D. MacDonald (about Travis McGee, how Mickey Spillane blurbed a JDM book, and many other things), William F. Nolan (and his varied career), comics legend Dennie O'Neill, "Elizabeth Peters (on Amelia, Ramses, Vicky bliss, and romantic suspense), and British film writer Jimmy Sangster (with memories of Hammer Studios).

Capping off the book is a memoir of the pulp days by Todhunter Ballard.

A marvelous book.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


The man with a camera is Mike Kovak, a former combat photographer now freelancing.   Kovak goes where others fear to tread, working for various newspapers and insurance companies, and sometimes for officials or private individuals. 

It's cool that Kovak has a number of neat gadgets for the time (the series went for two seasons on ABC, from 1958 to 1960), including small hidden cameras and a car phone.  A phone for his car.  Really?  In 1958 my family was on a four-party phone line.

Also cool is that Mike Kovak was played by Charles Bronson.  Charles Freakin' Bronson!  Bronson is cool.  Always has been, always will be.  I mean, the guy was married to Jill Ireland, which automatically make him cool -- he and Ilya Kuryakin.

From December 5, 1958, the eighth episode in the series takes Kovak to Lisbon to investigate the death of a former colleague.  Enjoy.


Todd Mason, the host with the most, has the links to more of today's Overlooked Film, Television, and Whatever at his blog Sweet Freedom.

Monday, April 15, 2013


I'm trying to ignore my taxes and concentrate on the following books.  Alas, I fear the taxes will win out.  For today, anyway.
  • Robert Adams, Stairway to Forever and Monsters and Magicians.  Fantasy, the first two books in the Stairway to Forever series.
  • Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, November and December 1975 issues, back when Ben Bova was editor.
  • Isaac Asimov, Asimov on Physics.  Nonfiction collection of seventeen articles from F&SF, culled from previous collections with new introductory material.
  • Rhys Bowen, Evans to Betsy.  A Constable Evans mystery.
  • David Brin, Earth.  SF.
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley, Children of Hastur.  SF omnibus volume of two Darkover novels:  The Heritage of Hastur and Sharra's Exile.
  • Terry Brooks, The Wishsong of Shannara.  Fantasy, the third book in the original Shannara series.
  • Erskine Caldwell, Gulf Coast Stories.  Collection of twenty-one stories.  This is a 1957 Signet paperback, when Caldwell was opne of Signet's biggest sellers.  Does anybody read Caldwell any more?
  • Lin Carter, In the Green Star's Glow.  SF, the fifth in the Green Star Saga.  A better editor than a writer, Carter was one of the ultimate fanboys.
  • C. J. Cherryh, The Book of Morgaine (SF omnibus volume containing the three books in the trilogy:  Gate of Ivrel, Well of Shiuan, and Fires of Azeroth) and Arafel's Saga (fantasy omnibus containing  The Dreamstone and The Tree of Swords and Jewels).
  • Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay.  YA fantasy, the concluding volume in The Hunger Games trilogy.
  • John Dalmas, The Regiment.  Military SF.
  • John deChancie & Martin H. Greenberg, editors, Castle Fantastic.  Fantasy anthology with sixteen stories.
  • Gordon R. Dickson, The Earth Lords.  Fantasy.
  • Richard M. Dorson, American Folklore.  Non-fiction.
  • David Drake, Surface Action (military SF), The Tank Lords (military SF collection of four stories and one novel, Rolling Hot), and Vettius and His Friends (fantasy/horror collection of twelve stories about Roman soldier Vettius and merchant Dama).
  • Tannarive Due, The Between.  Horror.
  • Jasper Fforde, The Eyre Affair.  Fantasy, the first Thursday Next book.
  • Alan Dean Foster, Cachelot and the first two books in The Damned series, A Call to Arms and The False Mirror.  SF all.
  • Donald Goines, Street Players.  Another of the author's urban Black ghetto crime novels.
  • Stephen Goldin, Mind Flight.  SF.
  • Reginald Hill, The Stranger House.  Suspense.
  • "Alfred Hitchcock,"  editor, Murders on the Half-Skull.  Mystery anthology of fourteen stories (from 1956 to 1969) from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.
  • Toni L. P. Kelner, The Curse of the Kissing Cousins (originally published as Without Mercy) and Who Killed the Pinup Queen?  Both in the "Where Are They Now?" mystery series.
  • Katherine Kerr, A Time of Omens.  Fantasy.
  • Caitlin R. Kiernan, Silk.  Horror.
  • David A. Kyle, Lensman from Rigel.  SF novel in E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman universe.
  • The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 1976, back when Ed Ferman was editor.
  • John Passarella, Wither's Rain.  A Wendy Ward horror novel.
  • "Ellis Peters" (Edith Partager), The Devil's Novice.  A Brother Cadfael mystery.
  • Juliet Piggott, Japanese Mythology.  Non-fiction, part of the Library of the World's Myths and Legends series from Peter Bendrick Books.  An overview, but the illustrations are lovely.
  • Frederik Pohl, The World at the End of Time.  SF.
  • Charles Sheffield, Aftermath.  SF.
  • Mary Stewart, The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment.  A boxed set of the author's original Arthurian trilogy.
  • Jay Williams & Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn, Scientific Detective.  Juvenile SF from a long-running series.
  • Gene Wolfe, Nightside the Long Sun.  SF, first volume of The Book of the Long Sun.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Six-Gun in Cheek by Bill Pronzini (1997)

Hoppin' Horned Jibblenippers! *   Bill Pronzini will turn 70 this Saturday!  That calls for a celebration!  And a few exclamation points!!!

To help the celebration, I suggest that we take a fond look at that "plethora of flapdoodle" ** that is Six-Gun in Cheek, Pronzini's loving look at some of the alternative classics of the western story.  After producing two books detailing some of the worst, sloppiest, hastiest, and/or tongue in cheek writing in crime fiction (Gun in Cheek, 1982, and Son of Gun in Cheek, 1987), Pronzini bowed to pressure to do the same for the western genre.

Some examples:

  • Some sixth sense, which he preferred to call a hunch, warned him that there was a gentleman of dubious color buried in the wood pile which they wanted him to saw. -- Archie Jocelyn
  • There was a long pause in the [verbal] sparring.  One thing for sure was in every mind on that street.  Tom Courtland was a talking man.  And he didn't just talk words.  He talked thoughts.  And his thoughts were well worth thinking about no matter in whose head they were. -- John Fonville
  • "On yore laigs, buzzard!" he threw out.  "Bust the breeze outa hyar onless you crave lead-pizenin'!" -- somebody hiding behind the name "Tex McLeod"
  • "There's no mistake?  You're certain?" "I was there.  I saw it only minutes after it happened." --"Lee Davis Willoughby"
  • "Yes," he hmmmed - "Kelly P. Gast"
And this classic, whoever-heard-of-political-correctness line of Apache dialogue:
  • "Keep um heap still, Sumpter!  Pull um mitt out o' them papers.  You might have shoot-iron cached in thar!" -- Walter A.Tompkins
Pulps, cheap paperback lines, sexy adult westerns, British westerns...all are fodder for Pronzini's mill and are gloriously skewered in this wonderful book.

By the way, the book is subtitled An Affectionate Guide to the "Worst" in Western Fiction.

Highly recommended.

* the title of Chapter 3
** the title of Chapter 7


Host Patti Abbott has the links to more of today's Forgotten Books, including (I'm sure) more tributes to Bill Pronzini.  Head on over to Pattinase, yar varmit!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


The death of Annette Funicello marked the end of an era for many baby boomers.  Walt Disney hand picked the twelve-year-old to be one of the original Mousketeers for his Micky Mouse Club television show.  There is no doubt that she was Uncle Walt's favorite Mouseketeer and it's easy to see why.  She was not what you would call pretty and she was a mediocre singer, dancer, and actress, but she had that indefinable something...a presence that stayed with you.  Star power.  And she was a genuinely nice person.

Annette was arguably the most famous Mouseketeer.  Many of them went on to one sort of success or another.  Bobby had a dance career with Lawrence Welk.  Cubby was with Welk for a couple of years and had a solid career as a drummer. Lonnie has racked up successes as an actor, director, and writer.  Tommy is an Emmy-nominated make-up artist.   Others were not so fortunate.  Doreen ended up in a nude spread in Gallery.  Darleen did jail time for fraud.  Thrice-married Cheryl died of lung cancer.   Karen was paralyzed in a 1983 car accident.

Annette's career, from Disney television and movies to recording star, to star of the popular Beach Party movies, to shill for Skippy peanut butter, seemed charmed.  But in 1987, she began experiencing the first effects of muscular distropy.  She went public with her disease in 1992.  the following year, she started the Annette Funicello Fund for Neurological Disorders.  For the past fiftenn years she has kept out of the public eye for the most part.  In 2004, she was confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk.  In 2009 she lost the ability to speak.  Throughout the long years of her illnees until her death yesterday she retained her image of bravery and courage.

Here we meet the Mouseketeers:

MMC featured Annette in a self-titled serial.  Here's all 19 episodes:

For many of us Annette and Frankie and the Beach Party movies held many drive-in memories. (BTW, NPR Radio issued a base canard yesterday when it reported that Annette's two-piece bathing suit was a bikini; that suit was to a bikini that Ikea's moose ravioli is to moose meat.)  Despite Annette's popularity, we watched the movies for the music, for the comedy, for the much skimpier suits one the other girls, for Harvey Lembeck as the magnificent Eric von Zipper, but not necessarily for Annette and her helmet hair.

Here's the trailer for the original 1963 Beach Party:

Here's the trailer for 1964's Pajama Party with Annette, Tommy Kirk, Elsa Lanchester, Harvey Lembeck, Buster Keaton, Jesse White, and Dorothy Lamour:

One of her best-selling records, Pineapple Princess:

And Tall Paul:

She tried to convince America that peanut butter sandwiches needed only one slice of bread:

Annette, we will miss you.

Monday, April 8, 2013


A lot of horror novels this time out, mostly from Don D'Auria's old Leisure line.
  • Bathroom Reader's Institute, Uncle John's Bathroom Reader:  Wonderful World of Odd.  Non-fiction compilation.  Blame it one the 13-year-old in me.
  • P. D. Cacek, Night Prayers.  Horror.
  • Simon Clark, Death's Dominion.  Horror.
  • Douglas Clegg, The Infinite.  Horror.
  • Basil Copper, Bad Scene and The Curse of the Fleers.  The first one of Copper's fifty-odd Mike Faraday mysteries; the second is one of the Gothic-y horror novels that Copper did so well.  Both bought before the author passed away this week.
  • August Derleth, The Shadow in the Glass and Wind Over Wisconsin.  Historical novels, the first in Derleth's Wiconsin Saga, the second in his Sac Prairie Saga.
  • "Robert Doherty" (Robert Mayer), Area 51:  The Mission.  Science-fictional thriller.
  • David Drake, The Way to Glory.  SF in the RCN series.
  • John Everson, Covenant.  Horror.
  • Dave Freedman, Natural Selection.  SF thriller.
  • W. D. Gagliani, Wolf's Trap.  Werewolves!
  • Ray Garton, Bestial.  More Werewolves!
  • Sephera Giron, Mistress of the Dark.  Horror.
  • [Ed Gorman, editor], Mystery Scene Reader.  From 1987, the bulk of this book is a tribute to John D. MacDonald.  There's also five short stories (by Ellison, Goulart, Gorman, Mayhar, and Pronzini), six interviews (with Baxt, Koontz, JDM, Nolan, Elizabeth Peters, Denny O'Neill, and Jimmy Sangster), and a reminiscence by Todhunter Ballard.  This copy was signed by Bill
  • Heather Graham, Dead on the Dance Floor.  Mystery.
  • Walter Greatshell, Xombies:  Apocalypticon.  SF/horror.  The second in the series.
  • Hugh Howey, Wool.  SF.  Dawn stopped off with a bag of magazines and books; this was one of them.
  • H. Paul Jeffers, Bloody Business:  An Anecdotal History of Scotland Yard.  Non-fiction.
  • Hilary Jordan, When She Woke.  Literary SF novel.
  • Brian Keene, Ghost Walk.  Horror.
  • Nate Kenyon, The Reach.  Horror.
  • "Jack Ketchum" (Dallas Mayr), The Girl Next Door.  Horror.
  • H. R. Knight, What Rough Beast.  Horror.
  • Michael Laimo, Fires Rising.  Horror.
  • Joe R. Lansdale, Atomic Chili:  The Illustrated Joe R. Lansdale.  Some of hisownself's best stories rendered in comic book form with various writers (including JRL) and artists.
  • Richard Laymon, The Midnight Tour.  Horror in the Beast House sequence.
  • Tim Lebbon, Beserk.  Horror.
  • L. H. Maynard & M. P. Sims, Black Cathedral, Demon Eyes, and Shelter.  Horror all.
  • Nichelle Nichols with Margaret Wander Bonanno, Saturn's Child.  Gee, Uhura wrote a SF novel with a little help from her friend.
  • William F. Nolan, John Huston:  King Rebel.  Biography.
  • Bryan Smith, Queen of Blood.  Horror.
  • Tim Waggoner, Darkness Wakes.  Horror.
  • Charles Wilson, Game Plan.  SF thriller.
  • Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind.  Literary thriller.  Another one from Dawn.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Lois Lane (wearing only what appears to be a full slip) is about to be executed by a firing squad. 

Superman uses a torturer as a javelin.

Then he battles an airplane single-handed, destroying both plane and pilot.

Munitions manufacturer Emil Norvill promises not to start any more wars, so Sup lets him go.

Two warring sides opt for peace when they realize they didn't know why the hell they were fighting so they shake hands.

Back at the Daily Planet, it's a slow news day.

All this in just a few panels from the Superman comic strip in 1938:

It was a much simpler time.

Friday, April 5, 2013


Rio Renegades by "Terence Duncan" (1989)

Rio Renegades was the eighth and final book in the paperback western series Powell's Army.  The series was created by literary agent Barbara Puechner and the books were published under the pseudonum "Terence Duncan".  James Reasoner contributed three books in the series (#4, 5, and 6) and William F. Nolan wrote this one; I'm not sure who wrote the other four.  (Can anyone help me out here?  Update:  James Reasoner did; see his comment, below.)

The Powell in Powell's Army was Lt. Col. Amos Powell, Adjutant General  for the U.S. Army Territorial Command in Fort Leavenworth.  Powell's "Army" consisted of "three fearless firebrands" whom Powell sent on dangerous missions throughout the west.  This three members of this army
were Landrum Davis, former soldier and Ranger, Gerald Glidinghawk, a Dartmouth educated Omaha Indian, and Celia Burnett, a beautiful redhead equally skilled with horse, firearms, and faro.  Their mission this time is to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico to determine the fate of a group of government geologists and to also gather information on a band of outlaws based in the Mexican mountains who are led by the notorious Silver Man, or El Hombre de Plata.

Author Nolan is big Max Brand fan and has authored a biobibliography on Brand and has edited six volumes of his stories.  It comes as no surprise, then, that the first sentence in the novel is "Colonel Maxwell Schiller Brandt had trained himself to sleep as a cat sleeps, outwardly tranquil but inwardly alert to all possible dangers."  Maxwell Brandt = Max Brand.  Get it?  And "Max Brand" was a pen name of Frederick Schiller Faust.  The thoroughly nasty villain in this book, The Silver Man, is named Barry Silver, whose father came from County Kildare.  One of Brand's most popular western characters is Red Barry and another of his popular characters is Doctor Kildare.  The book is chock full of inside references such as this.  I can't claim to have caught them all, but it was interesting to read about a minor character, an old trapper named Ben Challis; Challis is the family name of the protagonists in some of Nolan's detective stories and "George Challis" was another of Frederick Faust's pseudomyns.

Colonel Brandt was leading the geological party when it was attacked by Silver's gang.  Every member of the government party was murdered except for Brandt and his daughter.  Brandt was kept alive because Silver thought he knew the location of a lode of gold; Barbara Brandt was kept alive because Silver wanted to bed her.  For some reason, the psychotic Silver wanted to seduce the girl rather than take her by force.  Lucky (and plucky!) girl, because Silver's egomania convinced him that the girl would fall to his wiles sooner or later -- giving our heroes planty of time to find Silver's desolate and impenetrable lair.

There's violence and blood letting a plenty, a soupcon of sex, an exciting horse race, a Ned Buntline wannabe, a traveling circus, coincidence piled on coincidence, a villain worthy of James Bond, and a deus ex machina or two.  It all adds up to an entertaining and fast-moving story.  Nothing major, but a darned good time-passer.



Patti Abbott's Friday's Forgotten Books will be celebrating its fifth anniversary this month.  Patti will be linking to today's Forgotten Books at Pattinase.  To celebrate five years, she is also republishing old Forgotten Books review this month.  Well worth checking out.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


About twenty of twenty-five years ago, in the neighborhood where I lived, a dog was found roaming with a female human skull in its mouth.  It made the news for a couple of days, and then word from the police or the newspapers or anyone.  The matter was brushed aside and eventually forgotten by most people and the few who remembered it was saying that the skull probably came from an old, forgotten Indian grave, although there was no official pronoucement that that was the case.

Much earlier, when I was in high school, I was with my father driving through a small New Hampshire town.  He had stopped and went into a drug store for something and I looked across the street where there was a cemetery.  Coming out of the cemetery was a large dog carrying a large leg bone with meat hanging from it in its mouth.  The bone looked big enough to be a human femur, but I kept telling myself that it probably came from a nearby butcher's shop.  I've almost convinced myself of that.

Those two memories have stuck with me all these years.  They coalesced in the following flash fiction.

                                          DOG FOOD

The dog came home and puked up a human finger this afternoon.  Luckily the kids were at school.  Not as luckily, Sally was in the kitchen putting away the groceries she had just bought.  I was well into a rewrite of the fourth Jock Malloy novel when she screamed.

After twelve years of marriage, you get to recognize your spouse's various screams, even when she doesn't scream that often.  There's the ugh-like sound that means she's just fed up with the kids, with her work, or with life in general.  There's the angry aargh-like sound that usually means that I'm impossible.  And there's the scream she made this afternoon, a high-pitched, garbled noise where you could just make out my name in there somewhere.  This scream meant better come a-running, so I did.

And stopped short when I saw what was on the kitchen floor.

It was a disgusting mess of bile, well-used dog food, yellow gunk, and a finger.  I pulled Sally close to me, comforting her with shh-shh noises, while checking out the finger.  It was a woman's finger, the nail neatly trimmed, with bright red polish.  Sally could probably pin-point the shade for me but I wasn't about to ask her.  I couldn't tell which finger it was, but it wasn't a pinky and there was no sign of a ring or an indentation a ring might make.  It had a waxy, pale greenish appearance.  Smudged with dirt.  No sign of blood.  It could have been a prop from some horror movie but you knew in your gut that it was not.

I edged Sally out of the kitchen.  Got her to sit on the sofa.

Then I dialed the cops.

It didn't take long before there were several dozen policemen and volunteers scouring the woods in back of our property.  I had explained that although our dog Molly could range pretty far during the day, on hot days like this she would often lay down in a creek in the back woods on a hot summer day like this, so that's where they concentrated their search.

They found the body before seven p.m.

They wouldn't tell me much.  An ongo-ing investigation, they said, but I heard that it was a young woman, late teens to mid-twenties.  Hank Golden, the volunteer fireman who had found the body, told me there were no clothes on her -- or on what was left of her. "She was pretty messed up, Manny," he said.  "Jesus, I hope I never see anything like that again."

I suppose that they'll find out who she was sooner or later.  I could tell them but why spoil the fun?  Her name was Chrissie Managan.   She was twenty-three years old and I grabbed her from a 7-11 parking lot in Edgham, thirty miles away.  It was a spur of the moment thing -- usually I plan these things out, but there was something about her that called to me.  I was pressed for time but I made the best of it.  The time crunch was the reason why I buried her so close to home.  (Also why I didn't bury her deep enough.)

All in all, this time was a rush.  A real rush what with the police, the news cameras, and Sally's nervous, sickening feeling.  Jesus, I could get used to that.

All of this raises a question.  Should I go back to being careful and methodical, or should I continue going with the moment?  It's great either way, but this time it felt super-great if you know what I mean.

So I have a choice, don't I?  I'm going to have to weigh the pros and cons and come to a decision.  Or, perhaps I won't even have to do that.  Perhaps, I'll see a girl and it'll all come together and my body and mind  will scream, "Now!"


Time will tell.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Here's the latest update on Kitty:

We went to the wound center last week for our anniversary.  The wound-vac had been off for a week and her healing was moving on at a rapid rate.  But.  (There's always a but.)  But Kitty happened to mention that the right side of her incision had been hurting for the past week.  The doctor poked and prodded and Kitty yelped and, sure enough, it was pretty sore.  The doctor then told us that she felt something squishy there, perhaps -- probably -- just an edema.  Just to be on the safe side, she called the surgeon and he asked to see her right away because just one doctor's visit on our anniversary was not enough.  Anyway, the surgeon could see nothing wrong but (again, just to be on the safe side) he ordered some tests and x-rays.  The x-ray guy did not realize what a complicated device now rested in Kitty's leg; to his amazement it took eight x-rays to document the whole appliance.  Then it was off to the Lesly and Pat Sajak (yes, that Pat Sajak) Medical Pavilion to have Kitty's blood drawn.  There were two phlebotomists on duty, one was busy trying to figure out where and how to put a needle into a very confused woman.  (We weren't sure whether this guy was an actual phlebotomist or was a fraternity pledge having to pretend he was one for hazing week.)  After about five minutes, the second phlebotomist came in, told the other guy what to do, and then -- zip, zip -- drew Kitty's blood.  When we left, the other bozo was still trying to draw blood from the c.w.  (We lucked out getting the guy we did.  Or did we?  Now, over a week later, Kitty still has a large bruise where he drew her blood.)

Anyway, that was our anniversary.  We did stop off at a Wa-Wa gas station on the way home and grabbed a couple of sandwiches for our anniversary dinner.  By the time we got home, we were ready for a nap, crazy romantics that we are.

Not much happened the following week.  The tests showed no problem.  The swelling and pain went away.  The rash and blisters from her adhesive tape allergy remained, but to a lesser degree because she stopped using the tape.  The wound-vac people still had not picked up the machine (it had been a week since they had been called) but they promised to pick it up on Wednesday.  Of course they didn't.  They claimed they had called and there was no answer, but I checked and they had not called.  Then they said they would pick it up on Friday and -- wonder of wonders -- they did!

So yesterday we back to the wound center and Papa Divot was completely closed and Mama Divot had shrunk so that there was only a scab left.  AND THEY WOUND CENTER DISCHARGED HER!


Yes.  No more wound center!  We were happy.  The wound center personnel were happy.  The valet parking attendents were not happy because we always tipped them big-time.

Kitty celebrated by going shopping without her walker.  She's now moving (slowly and carefully, to be sure) on her own  or with just a cane a lot.

She's not out of the woods yet.  It's time to start physical therapy again to improve her range of motion (which is already very good) and to strengthen her leg muscles.  I expect it will take a few more months for Kitty to be fully comfortable and confident walking.  Perhaps sooner -- she is an awesome lady.


Since this is Alcohol Awareness Month:

Drinking alcohol doesn't solve any of my problems...but then again, neither does drinking milk.

It's also Mathematics Education Month:

Why did the number get mad at his wife?  Because she was being irrational.

It's also Foot Health Awareness Month:

Two men meet while walking on a road.  Both are dragging one leg.  The first man nods at his leg and says, "Viet Nam, 1969."  The second man nods at his leg and says, "Dog crap, two minutes ago."

Surprisingly, it's also Frog Month (I don't know who can up with that idea):

What goes dit-dit-croak, dit-dit-croak?  Morse toad.

And it's Guitar Month:

What do you call a guitar player without a girlfriend?  Homeless.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


It could only happen on live television because no one would believe it if it had been scripted.   A popular children's television show host collapses on stage and writhes on the stage.  While the entire television crew assume that this is just another ad lib prank, the studio audience of young shildren cheer and laugh, egged on by a staff member.  This ended the show for the host, although the show would continue under his name for another year.  The rumors started that he was dead, or that he had become unhinged and was locked away in an asylum.  The truth was that once he recovered from the infection that caused his collapse, he continued performing and returned to television serval times years later.  As a matter of fact, he lived for another 28 years.

The television host was, of course, Pinky Lee, whose popular kids show ran just before the even more popular Howd Doody Show.  Lee (born Pincus Leff, 1907-1993) was a vaudeville slapstick comedian, easily recognizable by his too-small checkered hat, baggy checkered pants, and wide, wide tie.  I don't have the program where he collapsed to show you, but I do have one from the year before, 1954.  And if the singer looks familiar, that's because it is Molly Bee, who became popular in her own right and went on to be Tennessee Ernie Ford's favorite guest.

It's time to be a kid again.  Enjoy.


For more gems, go to Todd Mason's Sweet Freedom.

Monday, April 1, 2013

AT THE 5-2

Golly.  I have the featured poem this week at The 5-2, the crime poetry weekly site.  Editor Gerald So somehow got me to record the thing.  There's even a picture of me.  If this doesn't crash the internet, nothing will.


GRANNY SMITH AND THE DEADLY FROGS by G. M. Dobbs, who (of course) is Gary Dobbs, who (of course) is "Jack Martin", who (of course) is also "Vincent Stark", who (of course) is the Pride of Pontypridd, and who (of course) has been known to describe Granny Smith as "Miss Marple on steroids."

Free today for the Kindle at  Check it out.


  • Mark Anthony & Ellen Porath, Kindred Spirits.  Gaming tie-in novel.  Volume 1 of The Meetings Sextet.
  • Basil Copper, Scratch on the Dark.  A Mike Faraday mystery.  Faraday is an L.A. private eye as imagined by a Brit who has never been there.  I find these books addictive.
  • Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, MaryJanice Davidson, Angela Knight & Vickie Taylor, Bite.  Anonymously edited collection of five romantic vampire stories.  The Hamilton features Anita Blake and the Harris Sookie Stackhouse.
  • Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Gideon's Sword.  Thriller.  The first in the Gideon Crew series.
  • "Inger Ash Wolfe", The Calling.  Serial killer novel set in a small town in Ontario.  Wolfe is a pseudonym for "a North American novelist."