Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Happy Thanksgiving!


I'm thankful today for a feisty old woman who was not afraid to speak to power.

Many people remember Malvina Reynolds for her work as Kate on Sesame Street in the early Seventies.

Some remember her as the composer of such popular songs as "Turn Around" and "Morningtown Ride."

Others drifted to her music after Pete Seeger made a hit of her "Little Boxes."

I remember her best as a political activist who fought for the underdog, the environment, and common sense.

The link below takes you to her album Malvina Reynolds...Sings the Truth.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


My aunt is bringing over her homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving dinner; my uncle is bringing over his blatant racism.


How to cook a turkey that'll have your guests talking for weeks:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


A George Burns/Gracie Allen Thanksgiving, 1936 radio style:

Certainly things can't be more confusing four years later:

Poor George and Gracie! Their 1948 turkey swallowed a wedding ring:

By 1950, they were able to celebrate Thanksgiving on television:

I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner.

Monday, November 25, 2013


  • William Peter Blatty, Dimiter.  Thriller.
  • James Lee Burke, Swan Peak.  A Dave Robicheaux mystery.
  • Lincoln Child, Deep Storm.  Thriller.
  • Heather Graham, The Séance.  Paranormal thriller.
  • Laurell Hamilton, Flirt. An Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novel.
  • "John Twelve Hawks," The Golden City.  SF, the third book in the Fourth Realm trilogy.
  • Louis L'Amour, Borden Chantry, Bowdrie, and The Iron Marshall.  Westerns all.  Plus, Long Ride Home, a western collection with eight stories. And then there's The Daybreakers, Lonely on the Mountain, Mohave Crossing, and Mustang Man, four books in the Sacketts series.
  • Noel M. Loomis, Heading West.  Western collection with nine stories.  The introduction is by Bill Pronzini, making me wonder if this is one of the many single-author western collections that Pronzini edited.  Does anyone know?
  • Frederick Manfred, King of Spades.  Western.
  • Andrew P. Mayer, The Falling Machine.  Steampunk, Book One of The Society of Steam.
  • Steven Saylor, Roma.  Historical novel from the author of the Gordanius the Finder mystery series.
  • Charles Stross, Rule 34.  SF.
  • Ralph E. Vaughan, Sherlock Holmes:  The Coils of Time & Other Stories.  A short novel and seven short stories.  The title story is revised and expanded from the chapbook Sherlock Holmes in the Coils of Time originally published by Gary Lovisi's Gryphon Books.  When Hurricane Sandy flooded the warehouse of Gryphon Books (also known as Gary's Brooklyn basement), all copies of the many wonderful Gryphon Books were destroyed and Gary did not have the funds to reprint them.  Vaughn then revised and reformatted the story, added some new work, and...voila!...this book.  In the meantime, Gary is hard at work producing more fantastic works for Gryphon.  If you have a chance to support Gryphon Books, please do so.  (Gary also has some great books available from Fender Tucker's equally wonderful Ramble House.  Hint, hint.)  En of unsolicited commercial message.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Captain Steve Savage #2, December 1951

Avon Comics first ran their Captain Steve Savage comic book in January 1950.  Savage was a U.S. Air Force Captain running dangerous missions over Korea; the comic book was likely meant to be a one-shot since there was a near two-year time lag before the second issue.

Issue #2 was titled Captain Steve Savage and His Jet Fighters and featured a three-part story with episodes "Perilous Mission Over Korea," "The Choquin Massacre," and "The Death Gamble," with pencils by Louis Raveilli.  Also in the issue was a story featuring private eye Mike Strong, "The Mystery of the Empty Graves!"

Issue #2 also had a two-page text story, "Danger No. 5!," featuring Leslie Charteris' modern-day Robin Hood Simon Templar, the Saint.  Comic books often used text stories as fillers, but this one seems unusual.  Other issues of Captain Steve Savage used war and adventure tales as such filler, but nothing using a well-known fictional character such as the Saint.

Avon Comics also published The Saint comic book, beginning in 1947.  The comic stories were authorized but not written by Charteris.  (Charteris did write The Saint comic strip from 1948 to 1961; many of those continuities were published in comic book form, but none in the Avon Comics series.)  On at least one occasion The Saint comic book printed a two-page text story about the Saint that tied into that particular issue.  But a Saint story in another comic book?  It may have been a filler intended for The Saint comic book that did not fit in that book.  (The comic book ended in March of 1952, just a few months later.  Avon may have had enough material to fill the last issues and this story was an orphan.)  Or the story may not have been authorized by Charteris and the publisher snuck it into another book.  Your guess is as good as mine.

No writing credit is given for the story and the author is certainly not Charteris.  But it is a small and curious piece of Saint history.

Anyway, here is Captain Steve Savage, private eye Mike Strong, and Simon Templar -- 1951 vintage.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Great Detective Stories About Doctors edited by Groff Conklin and Noah D. Fabricant, M.D. (1963)

Back in the Sixties, Collier Books, which was best known for books on science, began publishing science fiction.  They didn't publish much SF but they reprinted titles numerous times over the year until the Seventies when their SF line shifted to the juvenile market.  (Through that entire time, they had a cover designer who should have been horsewhipped.)  Also in the early Sixties, the publisher had their Collier Mystery Classics line (selected by Anthony Boucher) as well as other mysteries.  The mystery and the science fiction lines crossed with the publication of two anthologies, Great Science Fiction Stories About Doctors and its companion book Great Detective Stories About Doctors, both edited by pioneering SF anthologist Groff Conklin and Noah D. Fabricant.

Great Detective Stories About Doctors presents seventeen stories (most actually are detective stories;  one, I suppose, if you squint in a dimly lit room, maybe -- just maybe, can be called a mystery story) from the turn of the last century to 1960, from mostly well-known writers in the mystery field and elsewhere.  (Of the seventeen authors, there was only one whose name I did not recognize.)  With only three exceptions, the editors refrained from including tales that may have been familiar to the dedicated mystery reader.  Of those, one was a lesser known Sherlock Holmes tale narrated by the Great Detective himself, one a story by Ben Hecht that had been reprinted several times, and the third, a 1924 story by Anthony Wynne that has been called a classic.  I doubt few of today's readers have read all three.

Anyway, the stories:

  • Murder at the Grand Babylon Hotel - Arnold Bennett
  • Murder in a Motel - Lawrence G. Blochman
  • The Doctor Takes a Case - George Harmon Coxe
  • The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier - Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Gifts of Oblivion - Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • The Testimony of Dr. Farnsworth - Francis Leo Golden
  • Miracle of the Fifteen Murderers - Ben Hecht
  • The Grave Grass Quivers - MacKinley Kantor
  • The Eye - Gerald Kersh
  • The Seven Good Hunters - Rufus King
  • The Head - Manuel Komroff
  • The Other Side of the Curtain - Helen McCloy
  • The Memorial hour - Wade Miller
  • The Man in the White Mask - Alan E. Nourse
  • The Mirrored Room - Alan Rinehart
  • The Cyprian Bees - Anthony Wynne
  • A Busman's Holiday - Francis Brett Young

An impressive line-up, with (I'm sure) some writers who are forgotten today and really shouldn't be.  Unlike with most anthologies, all the stories are good.  I mean, real good.  And varied.  Something you don't often see, especially in a theme anthology.

Recommended.  But, alas, despite being reprinted five time, copies appear hard to get.  Abebooks lists only three copies available, with prices ranging from $40 to $68.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Count me in as a big Smothers Brothers fan.   They were on television the other night and I was reminded of just how good they are.  Here's a few samples.

With the Boston Pops, "Boil That Cabbage Down"

From the Judy Garland Show, "I Talk to the Trees" and "Dance, Boatman. Dance"

And a medley with Donovan and Peter, Paul and Mary


From the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, "Red River Valley"

"CrabsWalk Sideways"

I am also a great Jack Benny fan, so here's the Jack Benny show from April 16, 1965 with the Smothers Brothers

Hope these got you smiling.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


A man called the hospital:  "Help, my wife is having a baby!"

The nurse who answered the phone said, "Relax, sir.  Now, is this her first baby?"

"No.  This is her husband."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013



Fear in the Night (1947)

Cornell Woolrich's classic noir story "Nightmare" was first filmed by Maxwell Shane as Fear in the Night in 1947.  The story was also filmed at least twice for television as episodes in Suspense (1950) and in Lights Out (1952).  In 1956, Shane revisited the story, this time filming it as Nightmare with Edward G. Robinson, Kevin McCarthy, and Connie Russell.

Shane directed few films, but wrote many for the screen, including Tokyo Rose, I Cover Big Town, The Mummy's Hand, and both versions of this Woolrich story.  For radio, he wrote many episodes of Big Town; for television, he wrote for M Squad and The Virginian, as well as the teleplay for John Holbrook Vance's Edgar-winning novel The Man in the Cage.

Fear in the Night stared Paul Kelly, a versatile actor with many character roles (Mr. and Mrs. North, Tarzan's New York Adventure, The President Vanishes, Murder with Pictures, etc.) to his credit.  Joining Kelly was a differently spelled Kelley -- a pre-Star Trek DeForest Kelley in his first full-length feature; Kelley went on a long and storied career and appeared in such films as The Law and Jake Wade, Gunfight at OK Corral, and Raintree County before voyaging on the starship Enterprise.  Joining the two Kell(e)ys was veteran Ann Doran, who -- according to IMDB -- appeared in over 500 motion pictures and over 1000 television shows, in many of which she was uncredited.  (Doran started as an uncredited child actress in many silent films; uncredited because she did not want her father to know she was acting.)  Among the movies Doran appeared in were The Snake Pit, The People Against O'Hara, and The Eddie Cantor Story.

And what can be said about Woolrich save that he was one of the great writers of noir in the Twentieth Century.  "Rear Window," The Phantom Lady, The Bride Wore Black, Deadline at Dawn, I Married a Dead Man, "After Dinner Story," "Three O'Clock," Rendezvous in Black...the list goes on and on.

About Fear in the Night, let's just say, be careful what you dream of.


Monday, November 18, 2013


  • Anonymous editor, Halo:  Evolutions.  Gaming tie-in anthology with eight stories.  The cover copy says these are essential tales of the Halo universe.  Volume 1.
  • Piers Anthony & Alfred Tella, The Willing Spirit.  Fantasy.
  • Gail Carriger, Soulless.  Steampunk fantasy, the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series.
  • Eric Van Lustbader, Blood Trust.  A Jack McClure/Alli Carson thriller.
  • Mark Summer, The Prodigal Sorcerer.  Gaming (Magic:  The Gathering) tie-in novel.
  • Tad Williams & Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Child of an Ancient City.  Fantasy. Big type, lotsa white space -- wonder who they think they're fooling?

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Adventures Into the Unknown was the first continuous horror comic book, paving the way for the EC horror comics.  It ran for 174 issues, drawing its last breath in 1967.

Many of the stories in issue #1, dated Fall 1948, were written by Lovecraft protégé Frank Belknap Long, including a 7-page adaptation of Horace Walpole's 1768 seminal gothic novel The Castle of Otranto.

Those with weak stomachs and nervous bladders are advised not to click on the link for there live ghosts and werewolves, zombies and curses, ancient secrets and evil entities...

Friday, November 15, 2013


Battle on Mercury by "Erik van Lhin" (Lester del Rey) (1953)

The John C. Winston Company's "Adventures in SF" series was a staple of my childhood.  These sometimes well-written, often exciting, and usually scientifically accurate for its time juveniles were influenced by Robert A. Heinlein's Rocket Ship Galileo and well aimed for a market a step or two above that of the pulp magazines.  When I was young, I thought there had to be hundreds of books in this series, but there were only 34 -- or 35, depending on how you count.  Less than three dozen books over a period of ten years.  But what books:  early novels by Arthur C. Clarke, Poul Anderson, Jack Vance, Milton Lesser, Raymond F. Jones, Ben Bova, Donald A. Wollheim, and Lester del Rey!

My understanding is that many books in this line were based on concepts by Lester del Rey and Milton Lesser, which is probably the reason why so many of the books were written by one or the other.

Del Rey published books here under his own name and under the pseudonyms "Philip St. John," "Kenneth Wright," and, with Battle on Merecury, "Erik van Lhin."

Humans had colonized the twilight belt of Mercury, that small area that bounds the planet's hot side and cold side.  One of the smaller colonies is the Sigma dome, now threatened by a immense solar storm.  A ship containing needed fuel and that was supposed to evacuate Sigma has crashed, leaving the tiny colony at the mercy of the solar storm and with only enough  power to last a few weeks.

17-year-old Dick Rogers had wanted to be an engineer but missed out on a chance to study engineering on Earth due to politics an nepotism.  Dick has a pet -- a wispie, a creature of pure electricity that he had rescued while exploring the hot side.  Wispies feed on energy, making them feared by the colonists.  Wispies can easily drain vital machinery of power and are typically destroyed by the colonists whenever possible.  Dick has to keep his pet wispie, Johnny Quicksilver, away from his fellow colonists.  Also native to the planet are a type of large wispie, called Demons, which are destructive and cannot be controlled the way that Dick seems to control Johnny Quicksilver.  Also rumored to be native to the planet are silicones, giant amorphous silicon creatures said to be unfriendly to humans.

Johnny Quicksilver has been acting strangely.  Dick, after many months, has finally repaired a derelict robot that he had named Pete.  Johnny darts into Pete's head and seems to control him.  Suddenly Pete head out to the hot side, indicating that Dick should follow.  Although unsure whether he should trust Johnny (because so little is known about wispies), Johnny follows, coming onto a wrecked tractor owned by Hotside Charlie, an old miner who has been roaming Mercury for forty years.  Dick revives Charlie and, using almost all his strength, manages to bring Charlie back to Sigma.  Charlie is the bearer of bad news, telling the colony that he had seen the supply ship crash.  The people of Sigma are stranded, unable to communicate with the larger colonies because of the solar storm an about to run out of power.

An attempt is made to repair Charlie's tractor is somewhat successful and an attempt to repair the supply ship ultimately fails.  Dick has faith in Johnny Quicksilver and is sure that Johnny knows the best way to reach the Twilight Relay Station, where they might be able to send a message.  Dick and Charlie follow the wispie in Charlie's tractor hoping to reach the relay station.  It's a hard trek, with many dangers, and the pair will have to use all their wits to survive the hostile terrain.  Along the way they discover the secrets behind the wispies and the Demons and have to contend with legendary silicones.

A good juvenile -- actually today it would be called a YA -- in which the author piles obstacle upon obstacle for Dick and  Charlie.

And, just for your information, here are the titles in the Adventures in SF series:

  • Earthbound by Milton Lesser (1952)  Lesser is better known as Stephen Marlowe, a name  he legally adopted.
  • Find the Feathered Serpent by "Evan Hunter" (1952).   Although under his Hunter pseudonym, this was before S. A. Lombino legally changed his name to Evan Hunter.
  • Five Against Venus by "Philip Latham"  (1952).  The author was astronomer Robert S. Richardson.
  • Islands in the Sky by Arthur C. Clarke (1952).  Previously published in England; this is the first U.S. publication.
  • Marooned on Mars by Lester del Rey (1952).  Winner of the 1951 Boy's Award for Teen-Age Fiction.
  • Mists of Time by Chad Oliver (1952).
  • Rocket Jockey by "Philip St. John" (Lester del Rey) (1952).  The 1955 British edition was titled Rocket Pilot.
  • Son of the Stars by Raymond F. Jones (1952).  The first book in the Clonar series.
  • Sons of the Ocean Deeps by Bryce Walton (1952).
  • Vault of the Ages by Poul Anderson (1952).
  • Attack from Atlantis by Lester del Rey (1953).
  • Battle on Mercury by "Erik van Lhin" (Lester del Rey) (1953).
  • Danger:  Dinosaurs! by "Richard Marston" (Evan Hunter) (1953).
  • Missing Men of Saturn by "Philip Latham" (Robert S. Richardson) (1953).
  • The Mysterious Planet by "Kenneth Wright" (Lester del Rey) (1953).
  • The Mystery of the Third Mine by Robert (A.) W. Lowndes (1953).
  • Planet of Light by Raymond F. Jones (1953).  The second book in the Clonar series.
  • Rocket to Luna by "Richard Marsten" (Evan Hunter) (1953).
  • The Star Seekers by Milton Lesser (1953).
  • Vandals of the Void by Jack Vance (1953).
  • Rockets to Nowhere by "Philip St. John" (Lester del Rey) (1954).
  • The Secret of Saturn's Rings by Donald A. Wollheim (1954).
  • Step to the Stars by Lester del Rey (1954). The first book in the Jim Stanley series.
  • Trouble on Titan by Alan E. Nourse (1954).
  • The World at Bay by Paul Capon (1954).  First published in 1953 in England.
  • The Year After Tomorrow edited by Lester del Rey, Cecile Matschat, and Carl Carmer (1954).  Matschat was the editor of the Adventures in SF series; Carmer was the consulting editor.
  • The Ant Men by "Eric North" (1955).  North was a pseudonym for Australian writer Bernard Charles Cronin.
  • Secret of the Martian Moons by Donald A.Wollheim (1955).
  • The Lost Planet by Paul V. Dallas (1956).
  • Mission  to the Moon by Lester del Rey (1956).  The second book in the Jim Stanley series.
  • Rockets Through Space by Lester del Rey (1957).  This is the "iffy" book in the series, a non-fiction "Special Companion Book" for the series.
  • The Year When Stardust Fell by Raymond F. Jones (1958).
  • The Secret of the Ninth Planet by Donald A. Wollheim (1959).
  • The Star Conquerors by Ben Bova (1959).
  • Stadium Beyond the Stars by Milton Lesser (1960).
  • Moon of Mutiny by Lester del Rey (1961).  The third book in the Jim Stanley series.
  • Spacemen, Go Home by Milton Lesser (1961).

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks (2013)

Being a long-time P. G. Wodehouse fan (I've read all the books, I mean ALL -- even The Globe By-the-Way Book and William Tell Told Again), I really wanted to like this book.  And, in a way, I did.  But...

The book is touted as "an homage to P.G. Wodehouse" and I have no doubt the author tried.  There are many clever lines.  The book at times comes close to Wodehouse's meticulous and seemingly easy plotting.  Many of Wodehouse's characters are mentioned in passing.  As a homage, though, it fails miserably.

Peregrine "Woody" Beeching comes calling at Bertie Wooster's home to seek the advice of Jeeves, manservant and problem-solver extraordinaire.  Woody is in love with pretty Amelia Hackworth, but Amelia has broken off their engagement because of Woody's innocent flirtations with some local maidens.  Amelia's father, Sir Henry Hackworth, is in financial straights and may be forced to sell his estate, Melbury Hall, to a private school.  Sir Henry's ward, Georgiana Meadowes, may hold the key to Sir Henry's salvation by way of her engagement to travel writer Rupert Venables, who's family is rolling in it.  Georgiana, however, was also the girl Bertie had squired that summer while both were spending time on the Cote d'Azur.

Enough exposition.

Jeeves advises Woody to let time heal Amelia's anger and to avoid flirting with other girls.  He also suggested that Woody return to Melbury and to play on Sir Henry's cricket team during an important upcoming match, the theory being that such an avid sportswoman as Woody said Amelia is would not doubt be impressed by Woody's natural skill on the cricket field.

Shortly thereafter, Bertie receives news that his dreaded Aunt Agatha is coming for a visit while her home is undergoing repairs.  Worse yet, Aunt Agatha would be bringing the doubly detested young Thomas in tow.  Jeeves, ever ready to solve Bertie's problems, suggested that they vacate the home and leave it to Agatha, while Bertie and he get lodgings near Melbury Hall so that Bertie could help Woody win back the love of Amelia.  Right-ho.

The best laid plans and so forth.  While in town, Jeeves meets Woody on the street just as Sir Henry was coming along.  Woody panicked and, knowing the Sir Henry was snobbishly impressed by social standing, introduced Jeeves as Lord Etringham, a friend of his family.  Sir Henry immediately invited Jeeves Lord Etringham to the Hall.  And because Bertie's reputation is less than sterling, it fell on him to act as Lord Etringham's manservant Wilburforce.

A classic Wodehouse situation is thus set up and false identities are assumed in order that true love will triumph, with a number of bumps and misunderstandings along the way.

So what went wrong?  Well, first, Wodehouse's book are set in an unspecified past that is timeless.  Faulks sets this novel after World War I and makes the date obvious by the use of a few historical references.  And then, there's the cricket game that takes up an important chapter.  Wodehouse never wrote about a cricket game in any of his humorous novels in such detail, in part because there is little room for humor during a cricket match and in part because it would be too alien to his American audience.  (Wodehouse did go into detail with cricket matches in his schoolboy books, but that's a different animal altogether.)  And Jeeves is portrayed as fallible; he makes a mistake.  Not only that, but we are given some of Jeeves' background (!), as well as a detailed floor-by-floor description of the Drones Club.  And Bertie -- genial, dim-witted Bertie -- is portrayed as a sort of uber-Bertie; the jokes coming fast and furious, too much so.  Not every cast member from the Jeeves books is mentioned a lot of them are, each mentioned along with a plot point from previous books.  It's as if Faulks wants us to know he has done his homework.  And although true love wins out in the end and all problems are resolved, Faulks ends the book by putting Jeeves and Bertie in a distinctly unWodehousian situation.  Ptah!

In his author's note at the start of the book, Faulks admits that Jeeves and the Wedding Bells is not true Wodehouse.  He deliberately did not try to imitate Wodehouse, nor did he want to make the book a parody.  Thus this book is a homage, intended to give readers unfamiliar with Wodehouse a sense of what his Jeeves books sound like.  For those readers familiar with Wodehouse, Faulks has "tried to provide a nostalgic variation."  As a homage, alas, this book is weak tea.

Yet I enjoyed the book.  Sort of.  There were enough bits here and there that rang of Wodehouse, enough to please me.  The novel in toto, though, serves to remind us that there was only one Wodehouse and we shall never see his like again.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Well, no.  I mean I was born in Lowell because that's where the nearest hospital was, but I was raised on a small farm the next town over.  But when I was very young, our town did not have a supermarket, or a grocery store, or much of anything, really, except a cranberry bog.  So we were in Lowell a lot.  Kitty and I were married in Lowell and out first apartment and our first house were in Lowell, both of our girls were born in Lowell -- nearby hospital, remember?

James Whistler was born in Lowell, a fact he tried to bury.  Davy Crockett once visited Lowell, and Edgar Allan Poe once did some courting there.  Lowell was the home of Jack Kerouac...he, Bette Davis, mezzo-soprano Rosalind Elias, actor Michael Ansara, crime writer Dan J. Marlowe, and the Ray half of Bob and Ray were all born in Lowell.  The United States Industrial Revolution began in Lowell.  CVS pharmacies started in Lowell, as did Moxie, the first mass-produced soft drink produced in America (remember Moxie? it tastes like sarsaparilla with an onion thrown in it), and Father John's Medicine.  Game manufacturer Milton Bradley and entertainer Ed McMahon grew up in Lowell.  And remember that Mark Wahlberg movie The Fighter?  Yep, Micky Ward is a Lowell boy.

My daughter Jessie sent us the link to this song and it brought back many memories or places and people no longer with us.  We ate at Elliott's and the Owl Diner, we shopped at Mammoth Mart, we ate at the first McDonald's (but preferred Kelly's which had opened earlier and had ten cent hamburgers, five cent hot dogs, and -- gack! -- clam fritters), we skated at the Hi-Hat roller rink, partied at Prince Spaghettiville, worked at Jordan Marsh (which had taken over the Bon Marche), filmed the Lowell Folk Festival for local television, worked for the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, and volunteered at Boarding House Park.  I once sent former presidential candidate Paul Tsongas on an errand to get plastic trash bags, and spent a night in the Lowell City Jail for paying a parking ticket (don't ask).

So let me share some of my memories with you.  The song was written by Michael Noonan and sung by Kevin G. Moore.



I asked the gym instructor if he could teach me some routines.

He said, "How flexible are you?"

I said, "I can't make Tuesdays."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Tiger Fangs (1943)

When I was a kid, I loved Frank Buck's book Bring 'Em Back Alive!  Of course, this was at a time when our elementary school social studies books were hopelessly outdated and laughingly (I now realize) jingoistic about Africa and its people.  My knowledge of that continent was based on the Frank Buck, Clive Beatty, Tarzan, and Bomba movies -- as well as Saturday morning serials -- shown on television.  (Sorry, no Jungle Jim -- even to my unsophisticated mind, that show was b-o-r-i-n-g.)  The jungle was a place of mystery and adventure, of wild uncivilized men and wild beasts, of stunt men in gorilla suits and dangerous pits filled with crocodiles.  Great stuff!

For today's Overlooked Film, I've chosen Sam Newfield's Tiger Fangs, starring Frank Buck as Frank Buck!  Frank has to thwart evil Nazis and Japanese as they try to destroy the rubber industry in Malaysia.  The Nazis (in the form of the evil Dr. Lang and his assistant Henry Gratz) have been drugging tigers, turning them into maneaters.  This pre-PETA plan has to be stopped and Frank Buck is just the man to do it.   Assisting Frank Buck are the beautiful biologist Linda MacCardle, Peter Jeremy, and Geoffrey MacCardle.  Lots of animals, including some African animals (from stock footage) who really have no right being in Malaysia.

June Duprez (The Four Feathers, The Thief of Bagdad) played Linda MacCardle.  Duprez, an English actress, came to America following the fame she received in The Thief of Bagdad, but found few roles because of the high salary her agent demanded.  She left Hollywood in 1946 and retired from full-time acting in 1948.  She died in 1984 at age 66.

The actor playing Peter Jeremy is one of my favorites, the great Duncan Renaldo, Mr. Cisco Kid himself.  Born (probably) in Romania and orphaned, Renaldo came to America on a Brazilian coal ship which then caught fire at a Maryland pier and stranded him.  He made his living as a portrait painter (Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt bought one of his paintings), but was later arrested as an illegal immigrant.  He spent a year in jail because no one knew what his nationality was, then he was released after being signed to a contract and being vouched for by Republic Pictures; eventually he received a pardon from FDR.  Renaldo was typecast as a Latin in many B-movie programmers.  For a while he was one of the Three Mesquiteers.  In 1945, he was cast as the Cisco Kid and the rest is history.

J. Farrell MacDonald (1875-1952) was cast in the role of Geoffrey MacCardle.  MacDonald was a versatile character actor who appeared in hundreds of films (IMDB lists over 330 credits from 1911 through 1951).  Not much appears to be known about German-born Arno Frey who played the evil Dr. Lang.  Frey has 102 roles listed on IMDB, many of them uncredited, many as unnamed German characters.  265 pound actor Dan Seymour's weight and dark looks made him the perfect Hollywood heavy, and a good fit as Dr. Lang's assistant Henry Gratz.  Seymour appeared in many of the classic films of the 40s:  Casablanca, To Have and Have Not, Key Largo, and Johnny Bedelia among them.  Seymour was a good friend of director Fritz Lang and was named executor of his estate.

Director Sam Newfield directed hundreds of low budget movies beginning in 1926 and moved to television (Ramar of the Jungle, Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion, Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans, Tugboat Annie).  Interestingly, B-movie producer Fred Olen Ray has also used Sam Newfield, Sherman Scott, and Peter Stewart as pseudonyms (Scott and Stewart were both used by Newfield as pseudonymns).  Tiger Fangs was written by Arthur St. Claire, who penned 21 other movies in the 40s and had credits for five others -- nothing major, just entertaining B-movies.  The movie was produced by PRC Pictures, a bargain basement production company owned by Sam Newfield and his brother Sigmund Neufeld.


Monday, November 11, 2013


The old Army song:

And the newer Army song:

The Navy, in which Kitty's father served in World War II:

The Marine Hymn:

The Air Force:

Semper Peratus, Coast Guard:

And may we never forget the cost:


  • Belinda Bauer, Blacklands.  Mystery, the 2010 CWA Gold Dagger winner.
  • James R. Benn, Billy Boyle and Rag and Bone.  World War II mysteries featuring (who else?) Billy Boyle.
  • Richie Tankersley Cusick, The Unseen and The Unseen 2.  Omnibus volumes containing four (two each) YA Supernatural novels:  It Begins, Rest in Peace, Blood Brothers, and Sin and Salvation.
  • Lousi L'Amour, The Californios.  Historical.
  • Brad Meltzer, editor, The Mystery Box.  Themed mystery MWA anthology with 21 stories.
  • Linda L. Richards, The Next Ex.  A Madeline Carter mystery.
  • R. A. Salvatore, Dragonslayer's Return.  Fantasy, the final book in the Spearwielder's trilogy.
  • Mark T. Sullivan, Ghost Dance.  Horror.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


With his faithful dog Flash and his face masked, the Hooded Horseman dispenses justice in the old west!  Bud Fraser is the Hooded Horseman, and this time he takes on Tombstone Smith and his band of cattle rustin' varmints!  And, of course, he wins the heart of the fair young damsel while poor Flash must suffer the indignities of being in blackface.

In the January-February 1952 issue (#21) of The Hooded Horseman, we also get an adventure of Injun Jones and one of the Bantam Buckaroo, plus a bunch of fillers.  A good value for your dime?  You betcha!



Friday, November 8, 2013


Into the Wild Blue Wonder:  Pogo, The Syndicated Comic Strips, Volume 1 by Walt Kelly (2011)

Yeah, I know, this is Ross McDonald week for your merry crew of Friday's Forgotten Book bloggers.  But, as it happened, this gorgeous book came across my desk, seducing me and revealing lost secrets of the past...hell, I'd bet that even Lew Archer would drop a murder investigation to delve into the origins of a certain Okefenokee marsupial.

And, yeah, I know, a book published in 2011 could hardly be called "forgotten," especially one about said certain marsupial.  But, the comic strip ended so long ago that younger generations have grown up without the wonderful wit and guidance of Walt Kelly. What a shame!  No wonder the world is in such a mess.

As all good Pogophiles know, the little critter came into existence in the December 1942 issue of Animal Comics.  (That auspicious beginning was linked to a short while ago in this sterling blog, he said humbly.)  A bit more than five years after, Kelly found himself the art director for the ill-fated, short-lived New York Star, a left-leaning newspaper that published six times a week (no Saturdays, thank you very much).  It was there that the first Pogo comic strip appeared, from October 4, 1948 to January 28, 1949.  The newspaper may have died, but Pogo did not.  The Hall Syndicate picked up the strip beginning on May 16, 1949.  The colored Sunday strips began on January 29, 1950.

Kelly fought for ownership and complete control of his characters and -- unusual for the day -- won.  His determination to remain true to his vision was well rewarded.  Pogo became a phenomenon.

Those early days were experimental ones for Kelly, as he began refining his style and characters.  His artwork became more lush and organic.  He experimented with color on his Sunday strips, making the swamp itself a fully-realized character.  Gone were any human characters that were a part of his Animal Comics days.  New characters were introduced, some to be discarded soon after as the cast was molded and gelled.  The early Pogo relied on gentle wit and wordplay; the biting political and social satire were waiting offstage but would not appear before the footlights until later.

Kelly did begin to draw caricatures with Kimbo Cat (representing Ward Kimball, a Disney artist and good friend) and Cully and Hawgshaw (who look and act suspiciously like newspaper publishers Colonel Robert McCormick and William Randolph Hearst, respectively), but the likes of Simple J. Malarkey were yet to come.

So along comes this book, the first in a projected twelve volumes.  (The second has been published.)  Publishing of Into the Wild Blue Wonder was delayed a number of years while editors Carolyn Kelly and Kim Thompson work to get the most pristine strips available and to enhance them to most closely represent Kelly's vision.  The result is a sumptuous combination of art and literature (yes, I used the L word!).

The denizens of Okefenokee may be confused and sometimes simple-minded, but misunderstandings are usually resolved and comradeship renewed through friendly meals.  In fact, food -- Pogo's food, to be precise -- is often the motivator in many of the plots.  The plot of the first week has Pogo catching two fish, which Churchy la Femme should be "equally" shared; between Churchy, Howland Owl, and Albert Alligator, everybody has part of Pogo's half except Pogo.  So it goes.  And so we go into two year's worth of sly humor, twisted logic, and good-natured kidding.

Into the Wild Blue Yonder presents the daily strips from May 16, 1949 to December 30, 1950, the Sunday strips from January 28 through December 31, 1950, and the New York Star strips complete from October 4, 1948 to January 28, 1949.  Some of the New York Star continuities were used and adapted for syndication.

There's also a brief introduction by Kelly's pal Jimmy Breslin, an interesting biographical sketch of Kelly by Steve Thompson, an article about the creative process in the Sunday strips by Mark Evanier, and an afterward by R. C. Harvey, annotating and giving some of the historical background of the strip from 1948 to 1950.

A well thought out and designed package.  Highly recommended.


For more today's Forgotten Books, including a passle of Ross MacDonalds, stop by Pattinase where our fearless leader Patti Abbott collects all the links.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Ask Not by Max Allan Collins (2013)

This is the one we've been waiting years for and it doesn't disappoint.  In fact, Ask Not is one of the most engaging books Collins has ever written.

Nathan Heller, ex-Chicago cop turned P.I., has been around for thirty years, beginning with 1983's Shamus Award winning True Detective.  Over the years he has been involved with many cases involving historical crimes and real life mysteries, from John Dillinger to JFK.  Collins' well researched books have touched on Ma Barker and her gangs, the death of Mayor Anton Cermak, the Lindburgh kidnapping, the assassination of Huey Long, the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, the Roswell sightings, the Black Dahlia, and many others.  From the beginning of his protagonist's career, Collins had planned to eventually have Nate Heller investigate the Kennedy assassination, which he has now done in a trilogy beginning with Bye Bye, Baby (2011, about the death of Marilyn Monroe), followed by Target Lancer (2012, about an assignation plot targeting John Kennedy in Chicago shortly before the fatal Dallas trip), and concluding with this book.

Heller had been recruited in 1960 to set up a meeting between the mob and the CIA which created Operation Mongoose, a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro.  That operation failed but a number of characters involved -- including some Cubans -- were involved in the plot to kill JFK in Chicago in the fall of 1963.  In 1964, almost a year after JFK's assassination, Heller had arranged to take his teen-aged son to a Beatles concert in L.A.  Walking to his car after the concert, Keller and his son were almost run down by a car driven by someone whom Heller had recognized as one of the Cubans involved in the Chicago assassination attempt.

Back in Chicago, Heller's business partner brings in a case involving the death of an office manager of a firm that Billie Sol Estes, the corrupt friend of Lyndon Johnson, had owned a large share in.  It seems that a number of people involved with Billie Sol Estes died from apparent accidents or apparent suicide -- four by carbon monoxide poisoning and one in a suspicious plane crash. 

This investigation takes him to Dallas where he runs into an old friend, gossip columnist Flo Kilgore -- a fictionalized version of Dorothy Kilgallen.  Flo has been investigating the JFK assassination and the many suspicious (and convenient) death of witnesses and peripheral figures involved in the assassination.  Concerned for her safety, Flo hires Heller as a bodyguard while she is in Dallas.  While accompanying Flo, Heller begins to see how large the conspiracy was to kill Kennedy.

Heller is known for his discretion; he has held many secrets of people in the past.  His reputation for discretion, though, does not seem to be enough to keep him and his family from being targets in this latest killing spree.

My wife grabbed Ask Not as soon as it came into the house and I had to wait (patiently, I swear! -- don't listen to her) a couple of days until she had finished the book.  Kitty had long been interested in the subject since she had read an article in the mid-Sixties (which she still has) about many of these "coincidental" deaths; the article emphasized Dorothy Kilgallen's excitement as she told friends that she "broke" the Kennedy case,  and was soon after found dead in her apartment, her notes missing.

Ask Not is a suitable capstone for Nathan Heller's saga.   Luckily, it may not be.  Future Hellers may be in the offing -- about Robert Kennedy's assassination, the assassination of Martin Luther King, and the Watergate break-in.  Great news for Max Allan Collins fans.

In the meantime, check out Ask Not, a well-developed, fully-realized thriller that is sure to garner multiple award nominations

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


My neighbor's Halloween pumpkin is looking pretty sick right now so he's trying to fix it with a pumpkin patch.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


With election day scheduled for today, I thought it might be interesting to look at a political movie today.  Salt of the Earth is a 1954 film produced by Paul Jarrico, directed by Herbert Biberman, and written by Michael Wilson.  All three had been blacklisted during the McCarthy Era.  Not coincidently, this film was also blacklisted -- the only U.S. film to be so.

Salt of the Earth is about the effects of a labor strike at "Delaware Zinc," located in "Zinctown, NM" -- fill-ins for the very real Empire Zinc in Grant County, NM, where a long, torturous labor strike occurred in 1951.  Unique for its time, the film presented a feminist point of view of the strike and its effect on the workers, the community, the police, and the company.

Pauline Kael called the film "Communist propaganda," and The Hollywood Reporter said that it was "made under the direct orders of the Kremlin."  Those were the days...

The movie is a powerful piece of film making that utilized real miners and their families as actors; only five professional actors (including the wonderful Will Geer) were used in the film.

There is a huge difference between a political film and a propaganda film.  The political film challenges the status quo and raises moral and ethical questions.  No matter what the era, the status quo seems always to be in need of change.  Something to remember for those of you who live where elections are being held today.

And watch this film.  It will move you.

Monday, November 4, 2013


Between Parker, Asimov, Johnstone, Crichton, and Compton, we have a lot of dead men writing this week.
  • Piers Anthony, Dooon Mode.  Fantasy, the fourth and final volume in the Mode series.
  • Kate Atkinson, One Good Turn.  A Jackson Brodie mystery.
  • Dale Bailey, The Fallen.  Horror.
  • C. J. Box, Below Zero.  A Joe Pickett mystery.
  • Michael Brandman, Robert B. Parker's Killing the Blues.  Jesse Stone lives on in this authorized mystery continuing Parker's character.
  • "Jack Campbell" (John G. Hemry), The Lost Fleet:  Fearless.  SF.
  • Orson Scott Card, Empire.  Not a gaming tie-in novel, really.  Some of the background for this SF novel, however was developed by a gaming company before Card began plotting the book.
  • Edmund Cooper, The Last Continent.  SF.
  • Michael Crichton & Richard Preston, Micro.  SF thriller.  Crichton's last novel, completed by Preston. 
  • "Robert Doherty" (Robert Mayer), Area 51:  The Mission.  SF thriller, third in the series.
  • Tim Dorsey, The Stingray Shuffle.  A Serge A. Storms mystery.
  • Tod Goldberg, Burn Notice.  Television tie-in novel.
  • Mary K. Greer, Women of the Golden Dawn:  Rebels and Priestesses.  Biography of four women (Maud Gonne, Moina Bergson Mathers, Annie Horniman, and Florence Farr) who played an important part in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an influential mystic society that flourished in England the late Nineteenth-early Twentieth centuries and included many of the brightest minds of that age.  A thick, detailed, and heavily researched book marred by the author's perspective as a true believer.
  • James W. Hall, Blackwater Sound.  A Thorn mystery.
  • William W. Johnstone, Creed of the Mountain Man.  Western.
  • William W. Johnstone & J. A. Johnstone, Matt Jenson:  The Last Mountain Man:  The Eyes of Texas.  One of the gazillion westerns William Johnstone wrote after he died.
  • John Lawton, Flesh Wounds.  An Inspector Troy novel.
  • Andre Norton, High Sorcery.  Fantasy collection with five stories.
  • Naomi Novik, His Majesty's Dragon.  Fantasy, the Book 1 in the Temeraire Saga.
  • Robert B. Parker, three Spenser novels (Back Story, Rough Weather, and Sixkill), three jesse Stone novels (Night and Day, Split Image, and Stranger in Paradise), and one Sunny Randall novel (Shrink Wrap).
  • Fred Saberhagan, Empire of the East.  SF/fantasy omnibus containing The Broken Lands, The Black Mountains, and Ardneh's World.
  • "Darren Shan" (Darren O'Shaughnessy), Cirque du Freak:  Vampire Mountain.  Volume 4 in the popular YA horror series. 
  • Steven Saylor, Roman Blood.  Historical mystery featuring Gordianus the Finder.
  • Mark W. Tiedemann.  Asimov's Mirage.  The first of several mysteries by the author set in Isaac Asimov's "robot" universe.
  • Joseph A. West, The Last Manhunt.  A "Ralph Compton" western.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Don Fortune #1, August 1946

Don Fortune and his pal Andy Jarvis have just been discharged from the service and are heading home to Duluth when they are interrupted by danger and intrigue -- first by a stolen car ring, then by an arson plot.  Will they ever make it back to Duluth, or will they open a private detective agency before they get there?  Time (or issue #2) of this comic will tell.

Also in this issue, Delecta of the Planets -- an outer space babe with the requisite metallic brassiere!

What more could you ask for?

Friday, November 1, 2013


One Step Beyond by Lenore Bredeson (1960)

One Step Beyond (or, more properly, Alcoa Presents One Step Beyond) was an anthology television show that ran for three seasons (from 1959 to 1961) during the same period that The Twilight Zone was running.  One Step Beyond, introduced by John Newland, was a much lower key show; it purported to show true stories of the paranormal, most often presented without any explanation.  This book contains five episodes from the show adapted from the original scripts, much in the same way the James Blish adapted the original Star Trek episodes and Alan Dean Foster adapted the animated Star Trek episodes.

  • "Make Me Not a Witch," from an episode written by Gail Ingrim, concerns a young girl who suddenly has the power to read minds.  Her parents are convinced that this is witchcraft and that she has been possessed, but the local priest senses that another purpose is being served.
  • "Bride Possessed," from an episode written by Merwin Gerard and Larry Marcus, is just what the title suggests:  a young bride is suddenly possessed by the spirit of a murdered woman who had been presumed to have committed suicide.
  • In "The Aerialist," from the script by Larry Marcus (who also wrote the final two episodes adapted for the book), we meet the Flying Patruzzios, a circus family of trapeze artists led by the proud father Gino.  The act is being torn apart by the elder son Gino, who married an unsuitable woman.  In a moment of anger, Gino utters a curse on his father and the father plunges eighty feet during their next performance.  Then things get strange.
  • "The Hand," takes it's cue from Macbeth, a jealous piano player kills a woman and finds it impossible to clean her blood from his hand.
  • Five French soldiers see "The Vision" in the sky above a World War I battlefield.  Each drops his weapon and begins to walk off the battlefield, each having seen a different vision.  The five are court-martialed and it is up to an inexperienced lawyer to try to defend them.

In Donald Tuck's Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, he lists Lenore Bredeson as the editor of this book and of its follow-up, More from One Step Beyond, with each individual story credited to the original screenwriter.  As I stated above, however, all stories were adapted by Bredeson.  Curiously enough, Bredeson's adaptation of "The Hand" was reprinted by Peter Haining in both his 1993 anthology The Television Late Night Horror Omnibus and his 1994 anthology The Armchair Horror Collection as by Larry Marcus.

One Step Beyond is a slim (122 pages) trade paperback published by Citadel Press, which was noted in the mid to late 1950s for publishing books on UFOs, Satanism, and the paranormal.  In a way, I guess this book fit into its niche.

A readable book, of no importance.

For the curious, and because they are more interesting than the adaptations in the book, the episodes adapted are available on Youtube:

"Make Me Not a Witch" --

"Bride Possessed" (the first episode in the series) --

"The Aerialist" --

"The Hand" --

"The Vision" --