Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, February 28, 2014


The Land of Shorter Shadows by Erle Stanley Gardner (1948)

Mystery author Erle Stanley Gardner  had a long love affair with the outdoors, especially the more desolate places.  On a whim, he would pack up his office and his secretaries and roam the desert areas of the west.  He also loved to explore Baja California, although those trips required a bit more planning.

The Land of Shorter Shadows was the first of more than a dozen travel books Gardner wrote -- most, such as this one, about his travels in Baja California.  In the late Forties, Baja was mostly an undeveloped place.  Many of the roads were in ill repair; storms had rendered them almost impassable; many were narrow, providing mere inches of clearance between a solid rock wall and a deep cliff.  Gardner wanted to drive the length of the peninsula, so he gathered a few friends, his long-time secretary, and another secretary, and off he went, stopping at small towns along the way to remain in contact with publishers and business associates.

One of Gardner's main purposes in this book seems to be the debunking of the stereotypical Mexican.  The people he meets are honest, kind, generous, intelligent, and ambitious.  Their hospitality leaves little to be desired.  The rough beauty of the country translates well.

Unlike his works of fiction, there are things unresolved.  One of the party was a herpetologist who hoped to collect a number of samples on the trip; the trip was basically a dud for that purpose and most of the (few) specimens collected were lizards that Gardner had run over.  Another member of the party was injured while negotiating a narrow cliff road.  After trying to get him to medical help, we learn nothing else about him until the last chapter of the book -- he spent several days in a Mexican hospital then decided to fly home, where he collapsed and almost died; none of the others explorers were aware of his problems.

The biggest value of the book is its insights into Gardner himself.  He appreciates food; just about every meal recorded in the book was wonderful, and Gardner never met a pat of butter that he did not like.  Gardner comes across as a divided character -- ultra-liberal, very conservative, and overly sentimental.  He had a tendency to over-generalize and to give animals human values.  Understandably, he has a high opinion of himself.

An interesting book, but not everyone's cup of tea.  Also pretty much the same as many of his later travel books.

Makes the cynic in me wonder if these books were written to underwrite Gardner's jaunts for tax purposes.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


I may not look like a evil person but I'm bad to the bone, an outlaw.

It all started forty years ago when I was arrested and jailed for paying a traffic ticket.  Long story.  Anyway, the next day in court my fellow jailmates were disposed of quickly during the morning session.  Not me.  It seems they couldn't find the warrant.  Later that afternoon when the warrant finally appeared, the judge was taken aback when he noticed it was marked "paid."  He apologized and said -- he-he -- it was a good thing there were no newspaper reporters in the courtroom that day.  I understand that the two police officers who had come to my home at 10:00 the night before to toss me in the clink soon ended up walking a beat.

You probably think that such an experience would have scared me straight.  Well, I thought so, too.  But then this winter my bad to the bone self emerged once more.

For me, it started with a knock on the door.  It was the county animal officer with an affidavit of complaint against me.  A neighbor had complained about my dog, Declan, barking.  Although I was not the one who barked, the complaint was against me rather than Declan.  My bad boy self was on the verge of saying, "You'll never take me alive, copper!" when the animal officer explained that complaints had also been filed against three of my neighbors.  He advised that we all request a hearing about the complaints and the complaints will most likely be dismissed.  The complainant, it turns out, was a woman who lived two doors down from me -- a woman whom I had never met, although I know her husband, who is a pretty nice guy.

It turns out that by requesting the hearing, the affidavit of complaint became a criminal matter, the State of Maryland v. me.

No matter how hard you try, forty years later, they drag you back in.

So I was told to go to court this past Monday.  The State's Attorney told me I could either plead guilty or go to trial.  I said, you've gotta be kidding.  He wasn't.

So, anyway, there we are in court, myself and two of my neighbors.  The other neighbor who supposedly had a complaint against her wasn't there.  Don't know why.  Maybe there was never a complaint against her, although her dog happened to be a barking fool and she lived next door to the woman who complained.  Kitty was ensconced out in the hallway with the Kangaroo and missed out on all the fun.  (Christina was working so we were taking care of the Kangaroo, who at nineteen months was his most vocal -- so he was banned from the courtroom.)

The woman who complained said that all the dogs were barking, barking, barking all the time, waking her up often at 6:00 in the morning.  The specific complaints were listed.  The guy who lived in back of me had four beagles in a kennel who disturbed her on two days in December.  My next-door neighbor had a German shepherd who disturbed her on one day in December.  My dog Declan also disturbed her on a (different) day in December.  Let the trials begin.

First, the guy in back of me.  She told the court that the dogs would bark for five to ten minutes at a time.  One time, the dogs got loose and a neighbor had to bring them back.  On the second day in question (she said) the barking was so loud that neighbors on each side of her came out (including the neighbor who had no complaint against her and whose property was divided by a solid wood fence that the complaining neighbor had put up two years earlier) and were wondering what was going on.  She said a lot of neighbors would have complained but they were "afraid of retribution."  She never did say who the neighbors were and they never testified, but the judge found my neighbor guilty on one count because the neighbors had complained.  One hundred dollar fine and fifty-seven bucks and change court costs thank you very much.  The judge was kind enough to offer striking this criminal conviction from his record if  he agreed not to appeal.  None of us were expecting a real trial with a prosecutor and everything, so we were taken aback.  By the time my neighbor thought of something to say, the trial was over and it was too late.  By the way, the beagles never barked...they bayed...and not that often.  Oh, well.  I had noticed last week that that neighbor has put his house on sale.

Oh.  And, by the way, retribution?  You've gotta be kidding me.

Next, it was my next door neighbor's turn.  His dog, Duke, was kept in a fenced-in back yard and was there for protection.  My neighbor's job took him away for periods of time and his wife was nervous because there have been some break-ins and a home invasion in the development we live in.  (My neighbor's wife was actually hospitalized by the harassment she received from the complainant.  Enough was enough.  My neighbor gave Duke to a German shepherd rescue league an Duke is now being trained to be a police dog.)  Anyway, not guilty.

My turn up at bat.  According to the complainant, Declan was left out and was barking continuously from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on the day in question.  What day of the week was that, I asked.  She didn't know.  Turns out it was a Sunday.  Now, Declan goes out two or three times a day and usually out for five or ten minutes -- just long enough for him to do what he has to do.  While outside, Declan barks for only two reasons:  if another dog starts barking at him, or if someone drives into our driveway.   I thought I was being as considerate as possible to my neighbors with Declan, but my bad to the bone self evidently wasn't.  The lady who complained testified that Declan was continuously barking all that time:  she could see him from her side porch and, when she wasn't watching him, she could recognize his bark.  Sorry, lady.  Never happened.  The prosecutor wasn't paying too much attention;  in his closing statement, he told the judge that I had said something that I hadn't.  I corrected him and I was found not guilty.  Guess I'm not such an outlaw after all.

(Afterward, Kitty told me that that Sunday was the date of the Tuba Christmas.  We had guests over and Declan had been in the house all afternoon.)

Now here's the thing:  this woman had never spoken to any of us about the problem she had with the barking.  In fact, she never spoke to any of us at all.  Ever.  (She did, however, give my neighbor's wife the finger as she drove by when she -- my neighbor's wife, that is -- was unloading her kids after picking them up from school.)  Her husband (the nice guy, remember?) said that he had no idea she had filed complaints until after the fact.

If you have a problem with a neighbor, you get together and try to work things out, right?  At least, that's the way I was raised.  Bad to the bone, through and through.


What a talent!  And she's Twenty Feet from Stardom.

"Do Ron Ron," "He's a Rebel," and "He's Sure the Boy I Love."

"Today I Met the Boy I'm Gonna to Marry"

"River Deep, Mountain High"

"Lean on Me"

"Alley Oop"

"Chapel of Love"

"Strange Love"

"Don't Make Me Over"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Eight years ago today our son-in-law Michael died of a sudden heart attack.  He was 31.  Our thoughts today are of him and are with my daughter and her two  girls.  We are so proud of all three ladies and wish them peace on this day and on all the days to come.


"I'd like to think I'd never do a gratuitous fart joke." -- Harold Ramis, R.I.P.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Shakespeare cut down to 12minutes, 28 seconds!  Being a silent film, Shakespeare's glorious language is missing, making this more of a curiosity than anything else.  Ah, well.  There still remains a hint of the Bard's wit.

Florence Turner, "the Vitagraph Girl," was one of filmdom earliest stars, appearing in 189 films from 1917 to 1943, most of which were silent released before 1929.  She plays Viola in Twelfth Night and had previously appeared in other truncated Shakespearean films such as Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Richard III, The Merchant of Venice, King Lear, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Julia Swayne Gordon played Olivia.  It was her sixth film role, all of which were in Shakespearean films.  IMDb lists 229 credits for her -- only a few of which were in talkies.  Actor Tefft Johnson, a veteran of silent and probably best known as Sunny Jim's father in a long series of Sunny Jim movies, played Orsino.  Charles Kent (Malvolio) left a fifty-year career on the stage to be featured in 143 silent.

Eugene Mullin provided the scenario for Shakespeare's play and directed the film, along with (purportedly -- IMDb lists his participation as unconfirmed) Kent.  This was the first of 66 silent movies Mullin directed and the fourth directorial stint (if he did) for Kent.

To paraphrase:  some films are born great, some films achieve greatness, and other films have greatness thrust upon them.  You decide which of these three categories -- if any-- describes Twelfth Night.

Monday, February 24, 2014


I was being very good this week until I came upon a sale on Saturday -- ten books for a buck.  I couldn't resist.
  • Poul Anderson, creator, and Martin H. Greenberg & Charles G. Waugh, editors - Mercenaries of Tomorrow.  SF anthology with ten stories.
  • Piers Anthony, Crewel Lye and Man from Mundania.  Fantasies, both Xanth novels.
  • Johnny D. Boggs, Killstraight.  Western.
  • Peter V. Brett, The Warded Man.  Fantasy.
  • Algis Budrys, editor, L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume XVI.  SF anthology with 13 stories from the 2000 quarterly contest as well as four articles.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign.  SF novel in the Vorkosigan saga.
  • Orson Scott Card. The Ships of Earth.  SF, Volume 3 in the Homecoming series.
  • John Carnell, editor, New Writings in SF - 4.  SF anthology with seven stories.
  • Terry Carr, editor, New World of Fantasy.  Fantasy anthology, the first in the series, with 15 stories.
  • Vera Chapman, Blaedud the Birdman. Fantasy.
  • "Samantha Chase" (Ruth Glick & Eileen Buckholtz), Needlepoint.  Thriller.
  • Lee Child, editor, The Best American Mystery Stories 2010.  Mystery anthology of 20 stories from 2009.  Otto Penzler serves as the series editor, giving Child a preliminary list of 50 stories to choose from.
  • Arthur C. Clarke, Voices from the Sky.  Nonfiction collection of 24 articles.
  • Ralph Cotton, Showdown at Rio Sagrado.  Western.
  • "Kit Dalton," Buckskin #28:  Apache Rifles.  Adult western.
  • Cynthia DeFelice, The Light on Hogback Hill.  YA mystery.
  • Thomas M. Disch, 334.  Classic SF novel
  • Sara Douglass, Starman.  Fantasy, Book Three of The Wayfarer Redemption.
  • Gardner Dozois, editor, The Year's Best Science Fiction:  Eighth Annual Collection and The Year's Best Science Fiction:  Ninth Annual Collection.  SF anthologies with 25 stories from 1990 and 28 stories from 1991.
  • "Lesley Egan" (Elizabeth Linington), Scenes of Crime.  Mystery.
  • Howard Engel, Crimes of Passion.  Nonfiction.  The author of the Benny Cooperman mysteries turns his attention to over 25 real-life crimes of passion.
  • Thomas Gifford, Hollywood Gothic.  Thriller.
  • Charles Boardman Hayes, The Mutineers.  YA sea adventure.  A solid book published in 1925 and it looked really interesting for a dime.
  • Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson, Dune:  The Battle of Corrin and Dune:  The Machine Crusade.  SF entries in the Legends of Dune series, indeterminably following Frank Herbert.
  • Nancy Holder, Pearl Harbor, 1941.  YA historical romance. 
  • Richard Horne, A Is for Armageddon.  A catalog of all the many ways the world as we know it can end.  There are a lot of ways.
  • John Irving, Trying to Save Piggy Sneed.  Collection of three memoirs, six stories, and three homages.
  • Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Anthology Volume 1.  SF anthology of 26 items from the first three years of IASF.
  • Steven L. Kent, Rogue Clone.  SF.
  • Damon Knight, editor, Orbit 12.  SF anthology with 13 stories.
  • Ursula K. LeGuin, Tales from Earthsea.  Fantasy collection with five stories.
  • Michael Moorcock, editor, New Worlds Quarterly #1.  SF anthology with ten stories and an essay. 
  • Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club.  I'd tell you about this book but that violates the first rule of this book.
  • Frederik Pohl, Pohlstars.  SF collection of twelve stories.
  • Byron Preiss & Michael Reaves, Dragonworld.  Fantasy.
  • Dan Schmidt, ghostwriter, Don Pendleton's Stony Man #70:  Ramrod Intercept.  Men's action adventure.
  • "Jon Sharpe" (house name), The Trailsman #68:  Bullet Caravan.  Adult western.
  • David Sherman, Demontech, Book II:  Rally Point.  military fantasy.
  • Sterling Silliphant, Bronze Bell and Steel Tiger.  John Locke (nope, not the character from Lost) thrillers.  Silliphant did some great work for television and the movies, so the novels are worth a try.
  • Robert Silverberg, editor, Chains of the Sea.  SF anthology with three novellas.
  • Cordelia Titcomb Smith, editor, Great Science Fiction Stories.  YA SF anthology with ten stories and one novel excerpt.
  • Whitley Strieber, 2012:  The War for Souls.  SF.  The Mayans were right.
  • Rosemary Sutcliffe, The Shining Company.  YA historical.   
  • Dariel Telfer, The Caretakers.  Novel, pretty hot for 1959.
  • Joan Vinge, The Snow Queen and The Summer Queen.  Fantasies.
  • Per Wahloo & Maj Sjowall, The Terrorists, bound with Mignon G. Eberhart's Family Fortune and Georges Simenon's Maigret and the Apparition.  A Detective Book club volume.
  • Leslie Waller, Trocadero.  Thriller.
  • Margaret Weiss & Tracy Hickman, Forging the Darksword.  Fantasyk, the first volume in the Darksword trilogy.
  • Donald E. Westlake, Money for Nothing.  Comic thriller.
  • Kate Wilhelm, The Good Children.  Thriller.
ALSO:  I picked up a paperback copy of Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth's Search the Sky (Ballantine #61, 1954) in fairly good condition (some spine wear, lower corner fold on cover, some marking on inside front cover, tiny mar on back cover).  For a dime, I just couldn't leave it there -- especially with that great Powers cover.  It's available, first come first serve; just let me know by e-mail ( with your mailing address and I'll ship it off. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Here's a one-shot comic book from American Comics Group about the syndicated television series starring John Bromfield as Frank Morgan, the modern-day sheriff of -- you guessed it -- Cochise County, Arizona.  At least he was sheriff for the first two seasons; in seasons 3 and 4 both he and the series became U. S. MARSHALL because studio head Desi Arnez did not want the character to be limited to just one county.

This issue brings you three stories:  "Ghost Town," "Buckskin Bandit," and "Menace at Miller Peak!"  Although this is a contemporary series -- akin to Broderick Crawford's Highway Patrol -- The titles in this comic book certainly give you a sense of the old west.

Also included is a nifty one-page advertisement, the 1957 Mobilgas grade guide, which tells you what grade of gasoline is just right for 18 different types of cars.  How many of you remember DeSoto, Packard, Willys, or Hudson?  Not to mention Studebaker, Rambler, and Nash.

I remember watching this show with my father and wondering why a sheriff was driving a car and not riding a horse.  I never came across this comic book until today, though.  Too bad. My prepubescent self would have loved it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


A new study has just been released about married women's attitudes.

85% of those studied said that their ass had gotten too fat since they were married.

13% of those studied said that their ass was just about as big as it was when they got married.

The remaining 2% said they didn't care, they love him and would have married him anyway.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


[Heyer] was first made aware of the possibility of plagiarism in May 1950, when a fan wrote to inform her of an author who had been "immersing herself in some of your books and making good use of them."  She was referring to Barbara Cartland who had recently published her first three historical novels...Barbara Cartland was a socialite with connections in the "best circles," an occasional columnist for the Daily Express and the author of several works of nonfiction, three plays, and some thirty moderately successful modern romances.  She had written A Hazard of Hearts [the first of a trilogy of Georgian historical novels] after a woman's magazine had commissioned her to write her first historical romance...[A]n initial cursory reading of Cartland's first two historical novels left her inclined to dismiss the author as no more than "a petty thief" of names, characters, and plot points.  Among Cartland's more obvious "borrowings" were several names from Friday's Child, including Sir Montagu Revesby, alter to "Sir Montagu Reversby;" Hero Wantage, now "Harriet Wantage;" Viscount Sheringham was "Viscount Sherringham," while Lord Wrotham remained "Lord Wrotham."  Georgette identified many additional "lifts" from this and others of her novels, including The Corinthian, The Reluctant Widow, and The Foundling...Aware that there "was no copyright in names" or in Regency parlance, Georgette's initial thought was to write a strong letter of protest to Barbara Cartland.  but on reading Knave of Hearts, she changed her mind and wrote to her solicitor instead..."For her main theme Miss Cartland has gone solely to THESE OLD SHADES, but for various minor situations and other characters she has drawn upon four of my other novels...Georgette not only sent a cross-indexed copy of The Knave of Hearts in which she had "ringed all names and period phrase, in red ink, and indicated in black ink, giving title of my own book and page of passage, all situations identical or too like mine, and all paraphrases," but also a ten-page list of the main points of similarity between the novels, with examples of Cartland's historical and linguistic errors.  It was not only Regency dialogue which her imitator appeared not to understand but also Regency fashion,,,But even worse to Georgette's mind was Barbara Cartland's "travesty" of the characters which "she had done her best to model on mine" and "a certain salacity which I find revolting, no sense of period, not a vestige of wit, and no ability to make a character 'live.'"..."I think I  could have born it better had Miss Cartland not been so common-minded, so salacious and so illiterate.  I think ill enough of the Shades, but, good God!, that nineteen-year old work has more style, more of what it takes, than this offal which she has written at the age of 46!"...There is no record of a response to her solicitor's letter to Barbara Cartland but Georgette later noted that "the horrible copies of my books ceased abruptly."

----Georgette Heyer by Jennifer Kloester (Sourcebooks, 2013)

And in a footnote, Kloester has this to add:  "In 1971, Knave of Hearts was reissued under a new title, The Innocent Heiress, with a heading:  "In the Tradition of Georgette Heyer."


I like to think of myself as a fairly tolerant guy, but there are some things that push my buttons.  Near the top of the list, Scientology.  There are, of course, many nice Scientologists sincere in their beliefs, just as I am sure there are many nice Flat Earthers who are sincere in their beliefs, but at the core of this so-called religion is a mean-spirited disregard for people.  Scientology is hucksterism taken to the nth degree and I believe it has harmed far more people than it has helped.

So why this rant today, the 18th of February?  Well, today happens to be the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the first Church of Scientology, in Los Angeles.  Arising from L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics, Scientology was eventually recognized as a religion by the Internal Revenue Service, giving it a tax-free status and turning it into an even larger cash cow.

Twenty-four years to the day earlier, Clyde Tombaugh discovered the planet Pluto.  Pluto is no longer a planet.  I wonder how long it will take until Scientology is no longer a religion?

Anyway, to mark the occasion of Scientology's sixtieth anniversary, here's a short (four minutes, fifty seconds) little film.

Monday, February 17, 2014


  • [Absolutely Zippo!], Absolutely Zippo!  A Fanzine's Anthology.  Collection from 1988-1998.  Counter-culture stuff, I guess.  Lots of bad drawings and hand printing.
  • Jo Clayton, Skeen's Search.  SF, the third in the Skeen trilogy,
  • Susan Cooper, The Boggart.  YA fantasy.
  • Roger Elwood, Angelwalk.  Religious fantasy.  After leaving SF (and having edited almost 150 anthologies and collections), Elwood turned to the religious field where he stayed until his death.
  • Christopher Farnsworth, The President's Vampire.  A Nathaniel Cade horror/thriller.
  • Kenneth C. Flint, The Riders of the Sidhe.  Celtic fantasy, the first in a series.
  • Heather Graham, Beneath a Blood Red Moon.  Paranormal romance.
  • James P. Hogan, Entoverse.  SF novel in the Giants series.
  • Jaye Maiman, I Left My Heart.  A Robin Miller mystery.
  • Richard Monaco, Runes.  Fantasy.
  • Nancy Springer, The Golden Queen.  Fantasy, the third in a series.
  • Tom Standage, A History of the World in 6 Glasses.  Nonfiction.
  • Jay Williams & Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn and the Fossil Cave.  Juvenile SF, the sixth in the series.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


The Lost Howlin' Coyotes add a little bluegrass to your Sunday.

BONUS:  I just caught this one when the Bits and Pieces site picked it up.  Lovely.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


"...Ronnie always said my legs were nicer than Betty Grable's..."  Ah, Ronnie, why did you leave her?

Tales of heartbreak...tales of lose...and, ultimately, tales of love triumphant.

Long before the Teen Moms fouled the airwaves (cablewaves?) with a twisted sort of reality, there was Teen-Age Brides, a short-lived comic book in the early Fifties.

And then there is Comfo-Gard, "the amazing new menstrual shield that gives sure, safeprotection differently."  Just the thing a romantic pre-pubescent girl (a goodly part of the comics audience, methinks) needs, and certainly worthy of a one-page spread in the middle of the book.  (there's also full-page ads for something called the Young Bra and for tummy flatteners.)

Anyway, thrill to such stories as "Too Young to Know," "Runaway Husband," "Ugly Rumor," and "I Married for Fun."  And, if you were back in 1953, you could then dive into the companion comics:  First Love, First Romance, Hi-School Romance, and Love Problems.

Valentine's Day was only yesterday, and shouldn't the spirit of the day last all year?  So break out the pimple cream and read these stories of blazing passion!

Friday, February 14, 2014



Sherlock Holmes Through Time and Space edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin Harry Greenberg, & Charles G. Waugh (1984)

The first science fiction anthology about Sherlock Holmes was the small press The Science-Fictional Sherlock Holmes published in 1960 by the Council of Four, a Denver-based affiliate of the Baker Street Irregulars.  Almost from the beginning of Sherlock's career, various writers have satirized, parodied , and played homage to the great detective and, given such hints from Watson about giant rats and remarkable worms, it is no wonder that many of those stories over the years had a fantastical bent.  Today there are a number of anthologies about a science fictional Holmes, but(methinks; please correct me if I'm wrong) it took another 24 years after The Science-Fictional Sherlock Holmes for the next major anthology to appear.

As with most Asimov/Greenberg/Waugh anthologies, this one is a good mix of familiar and unfamiliar tales, some heady and some slight, but all great fun.  I was pleased to see some of my favorite characters included -- Sterling Lanier's Brigadier Ffellowes, Fred Saberhagan's relentless Berserkers, Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson's Hokas, and Asimov's own Black Widowers.  Fifteen stories that should appeal to the Sherlockian in each of us.

  • Sherlock Holmes, introduction by Isaac Asimov
  • The Adventure of the Devil's Foot by Arthur Conan Doyle (The Strand Magazine, December 1910) [a story that is "most nearly science fiction]
  • The Problem of the Sore Bridge -- Among Others by Philip Jose Farmer writing as "Harry Manders" (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1975) [a Wold Newton story; Harry -- or "Bunny" -- Manders was the Watson to gentleman burglar A. J. Raffles' Holmes; Raffles was the creation of Doyle's brother-in-law E. W. Hornung]
  • The Adventure of the Global Traveler by Anne Lear (Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, September-October 1978)
  • The Great Dormitory Mystery by S. (Sharon) N. Farber (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, December 1976) [a snippet, or -- if you will -- a Feghoot]
  • The Adventure of the Misplaced Hound by Poul Anderson & Gordon R. Dickson (Universe Science Fiction, December 1953) [a Hoka Story]
  • The Thing Waiting Outside by Barbara Williamson (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, December 1977)
  • A Father's Tale by Sterling E. Lanier (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1974) [a Brigadier Ffellowes story; this one was nominated for the 1975 World Fantasy Award]
  • The Adventure of the Extraterrestial by Mack Reynolds (Analog Science Fiction - Science Fact, July 1965) [nominated for the 1966 Nebula award]
  • A Scarletin Study by Philip Jose Farmer writing as "Jonathon Swift Somers III" (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1975) [a Wold Newton story featuring Ralph von Wau Wau; Jonathan Swift Somers III was a character created by Edgar Lee Masters; supposedly Somers was born on the same day as Sherlock Holmes]
  • Voiceover by Edward Wellen (apparently original to this volume; a major retrospective of Wellen's work is long overdue)
  • The Adventure of the Metal Murderer by Fred Saberhagen (Omni, July 1980) [a Berserker story]
  • Slaves of Silver by Gene Wolfe (If, March-April 1971)
  • God of the Naked Unicorn by Richard Lupoff writing as "Ova Hamlet" (Fantastic, August 1976) [a Wold Newton-ish story featuring Dr. Watson and various members of Personages United in League as Protectors -- including Holmes, Tarzan, The Avenger, The shadow, Flash Gordon, Captain Future, John Carter, David Innes, The Spider, and The Green Lama.  The very demented "Ova Hamlet" gave Lupoff an opportunity to parody many of his favorite writers.   **unsolicited advertisement** The Complete Ova Hamlet is available from Ramble House.  Be there or be square! **end of unsolicited advertisement]
  • Death in the Christmas Hour by James Powell (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, January 1983) [a quirky story in which Sherlock solves the murder of two toys]
  • The Ultimate Crime by Isaac Asimov (More Tales of the Black Widowers by Isaac Asimov, 1976) [yep, a Black Widowers story]
355 pages of pure joy.


Thursday, February 13, 2014


Jeff Pierce over at The Rap Sheet reminds us (with a hat tip to the blog Down These Mean Streets) that yesterday was the 74th anniversary of Superman on the radio.  So let's sit back and enjoy the first six episodes.


Inherit the Dead edited by Jonathan Santlofer (2013)

Take twenty of the best mystery writers around and set them to write a thriller and the result will be pure gold, right?


And somehow wrong.

Inherit the Dead came about because best-selling author Linda Fairstein wanted to draw attention to an organization called Safe Horizon, of which she is a board member.  Safe Horizon is an organization that provides support to victims of crime and abuse and is the largest provider of domestic violence service in America.  "Safe Horizon envisions a society free of family and community violence and leads the way by empowering victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking to move from crisis to confidence."  A good cause, a good organization.  Check them out at

Jonathan Santlofer agreed to put the book together and arranged for nineteen other writers to contribute a chapter apiece. The lineup in order of appearance is

  • Jonathon Santlofer
  • Stephen L. Carter
  • Marcia Clark
  • Heather Graham
  • Charlaine Harris
  • Sarah Weinman
  • Bryan Gruley
  • Alafair Burke
  • John Connolly
  • James Grady
  • Ken Bruen
  • Lisa Unger
  • S. J. Rozan
  • Dana Stabenow
  • Val McDermid
  • Mary Higgins Clark
  • C. J. Box
  • Max Allan Collins (who somehow manages to get his name misspelled twice on the cover jacket!)
  • Mark Billingham
  • Lawrence Block
Lee Child provides the introduction, while Linda Fairstein says a few words about Safe Horizon.

A solid lineup of good writers and good people.

Pericles (call him Perry; only his mother is allowed  to call him Pericles) Christo is an ex-cop, now P.I., who was drummed out of the force in a political cover-up that cost him his job, his family, and his reputation.  His hard scrabble life now affords little chance to turn down a case, so when he gets a call from uber-wealthy Julia Drusilla late at night, he comes calling.  Julia wants him to locate her estranged daughter Angel who has been missing for two weeks.  Julia will be twenty-one in a few days and is due to inherit half of a sizable trust on her birthday if -- and only if -- she signs for the money on her exact birthday.

Perry agrees and the case takes him to Angel's alcoholic, drug-infused gay father, then to her supposed best friend, and from there to her violent grease-monkey boyfriend and to her politically connected lover.  Two things become clear to him:  everybody he has talked to, including his client, is lying, and Angel is a beautiful siren, able to entrance every man she meets.  In his mind, Angel becomes a proxy for his own fifteen-year-old daughter whom he feels he has let down.  Perry becomes obsessed with finding and saving Angel.

On the way to the novel's violent conclusion, we are treated to Perry's angst, his guilt for losing his family, and his anger at having lost his job with the police department.

Inherit the Dead is a fast and pretty seamless read, satisfying on many levels. Each section rings true -- a tribute to the writers involved.  And yet...

Remember Raymond Chandler?  A great writer with great books..and a tendency to leave plot holes and unfinished threads in his novels -- something you don't really notice while reading because the narrative and the writer are so compelling.  On reflection, there are several things that concern me, several things that need explanation, and several things that fit into the novel only because of plot convenience.  I won't detail them here.  Read the book yourself; you may not find them as glaring in your own rearview mirror.

The problem is not with any of the writers.  The book, as I said is a fast and enjoyable read and I certainly can recommend it.  Perhaps the problem lies in the process itself.  I don't know.  Certainly the book and the cause are worth your money.  You also may want to consider donating some money directly to Safe Horizon.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I went into the post office today and there was a man sticking those LOVE stamps onto pink envelopes.  Every time he put a stamp on the envelope, he would spray the envelope with a little spritz of perfume. There were piles and piles of those pink envelopes on the counter around him.

Curiosity got the best of me and I ask the man what he was doing.  "I'm going to mail anonymous valentines to a thousand people."

"Why?" I asked.

"I'm a divorce lawyer."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Since this Friday is Valentine's Day, I thought I'd offer you a few items on the theme.

First, from Ozzie and Harriet, their 1953 Valentine show.

And what's Valentine's Day without mention of the 1929 massacre?  Paul Sorvino narrates this feature-length film from The History Channel.

And from 1922, an early Rudolph Valentino (Valentino, Valentine -- get it?) film with Nita Naldi and Lila Lee, Blood and Sand.

And if you have no date for Valentine's, what to do.  Perhaps, like Hank, you decide to draw a girlfriend.

And let's top the day off with some Sweethearts for your sweetheart, athough you have to go through a pretty disgusting ad to get to it.

Monday, February 10, 2014


  • "Alex Archer" (house name, used by Victor Milan this time), Rogue Angel:  Secret of the Slaves.  Men's action adventure.
  • Orson Scott Card, Ender in Exile.  SF novel in the Ender series.
  • Angela Carter, The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman.  Fantasy.
  • Richard Dalby, editor, Vampire Stories.  Horror anthology with 18 stories, many familiar.
  • Georgette Heyer, The Black Moth.  Romance.  Kitty's a big Georgette Heyer fan is currently reading a biography of the author, so I picked this up for her.
  • Alex Kava, Fireproof.  Thriller.
  • Elizabeth Linington, Strange Felony.  An Ivor Maddox mystery.
  • James Lowder & Voronica Whitney-Robinson, Spectre of the Black Rose.  Gaming (Ravenloft) tie-in novel.
  • "Barbara Michaels" (Barbara Mertz), Patriot's Dream and The Sea King's Daughter.  Mysteries published as by "Elizabeth Peters writing as Barbara Michaels."
  • China Mieville, Un Lun Dun.  Fantasy.
  • Kat Richardson, Labyrinth.  Fantasy in the Harper Blaine, Greywalker series.
  • Karin Slaughter, Criminal and Indelible.  Thrillers, the first featuring Will Trent and Amanda Wagner, the second featuring Jeffrey Tolliver and Sara Linton.  Criminal also includes a bonus Will Trent/Amanda Wagner short story.
  • Osamu Tezuka, Astroboy, Volume 2.  Manga collection of four stories.  Translated by Frederik L. Schodt.
  • Brian Thomsen & Martin H. Greenberg, editors, Alternate Gettysburgs.  SF collection of twelve stories and five articles.
  • "Charles Todd" (Caroline and Charles Todd), A False Mirror.  An Inspector Rutledge mystery.
  • Harry Turtledove, The Legion of Videssos and Swords of the Legion.  Fantasy, Books three and Four in the Videssos Cycle.
  • Karl Edward Wagner, editor, The Year's Best Horror Stories:  Volume XVII.  Horror anthology, the tenth in the series to be edited by Wagner, with 20 stories.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


When I hear the phrase "boy mastermind," I think more Artemis Fowl than I do Frank and Joe Hardy or Encyclopedia Brown.  That's because I had never heard of Dan Taylor before.

The cover of Boy Detective #1 (May-June 1951) shows young Dan on his bicycle leading two motorcycle policemen and chasing a ne'er-do-well who is leaning out of a getaway car with a tommy gun.  Each of the policemen have a gun drawn, but Dan, on his bicycle, has a gun blazing in each hand!  Really?  That's the boy mastermind?  Seems like a pretty stupid thing to do to me, but maybe the meaning of the word has changed over the past sixty-plus years.
Although Dan Taylor is sixteen years old, he's drawn to look like twelve or thirteen, with boyish good looks and blond hair sweeping down his forehead.  Three years earlier, public enemy number 1 Lefty Riccardi had killed Dan's father and another policeman shortly before Riccardi himself died in a fiery car crash.  Jim Taylor's boss and best friend, Captain Ted Elliot, Chief of Detectives at the 200th Precinct, adopts the orphan Dan.  Dan becomes the mascot of the homicide bureau and spends all his time study criminology at the station, guessed it!  A boy mastermind!

(Elliott calls Dan's father "Jim Tyler," which shows us that proofreading was a lost art in 1951.)

Anyway, one day at the precinct, Dan overhears wealthy broker John Billings demanding action over a stolen $50,000.  Dan is startled because he recognizes Billings as Lefty Riccardi, the supposedly dead man who had killed Dan's father.  The fact that none of the professional policemen at the station recognized Riccadi show us what a boy mastermind Dan is.  Riccardi has had his face and fingerprints surgically altered to become the wealthy broker, under which guise he continues his criminal  career.  Dan investigates, gets caught, and is put in danger, and thus begins his career as a boy detective.

Boy Detective #1 follows Dan through three adventures.  Also in the line-up is a story featuring brothers Rusty and Dusty Ames, two lads from a loving, good family who capture a Fagin-like character, and one very embarrassing, supposedly humorous two-pager featuring a Chinese caricature called Foo Shampoo.

Times were much simpler then.  Not better, just simpler.


Friday, February 7, 2014


SF writer Henry Hasse was born 100 years ago today.  Hasse's first solo science fiction story was "He Who Shrank" (Amazing Stories, August 1936); it made quite a splash in its day but age has not been kind to it.  Likewise, "Pendulum" (Super Science Stories, November 1941), which he co-wrote with Ray Bradbury and which was Bradbury's first professional sale.  Hasse died in 1977.

To celebrate Henry Hasse's centennial, here's a link to one of his stories, "Walls of Acid," from the first issue of Fantasy Book (July 1947).


The Sundial by Shirley Jackson (1958)

This is Shirley Jackson day for your intrepid Forgotten Books crew. 

How to describe Jackson's writing?  In 1966, a posthumous (Jackson died in 1965 at the age of 48) collection of her stories was published which title described her writing to a tee: The Magic of Shirley Jackson.  Her work was magical.  When I was in high school, I was reading a paperback copy of The Lottery and a friend of my mother's saw the cover.  "That can't be the same woman who writes all those funny stories in The New Yorker, can it?" she asked.  One of the stories in that collection was "Charles" -- not from The New Yorker, but from Mademoiselle -- which was also included in her fictional memoir Life Among the Savages.  In that book the story was knock-down funny, yet when included in The Lottery, "Charles" was deliciously creepy.


Some books come at you like a roaring train, sweeping you up while you inhale its pages, dizzy with its speed and excitement, while others beg you to read them slowly, savoring each line and every description.  The Sundial is one of the latter.  It begins:

"After the funeral they came back to the house, now indisputably Mrs. Halloran's."

The house is a grand one, part of a large estate, and built by Mrs. Halloran's father-in-law.  The funeral was for her son Lionel, who had done a rather poor job managing the estate.  Despite the fact that the house was "indisputably" hers, the house and the estate belonged the Mrs. Halloran's invalid husband who is slowly descending to senility.

Mrs. Halloran (Orianna) and her husband Richard are only some of the people who live in the house.  There's the family Richard's much younger and much ignored sister Aunt Fanny, Lionel's widow Marijane who hates her mother-in-law ("Maybe she will drop dead on the doorstep.  Fancy, dear, would you like to see Granny Drop dead on the doorstep?"), and Marijane's ten-year-old daughter Fancy (who dutifully replies, "Yes, mother." and then asks, "Shall I push her?").  Also part of the household is Miss Ogilvie, Fanny's tutor, who keeps hidden the treasured notes sent her once a day by Richard until he became wheelchair bound four years earlier, and Essex, who was ostensibly hired to catalog the estate's library and whom Aunt Fanny visits in the night.

And then there is the house itself:

"The character of the house is perhaps of interest.  It stood upon a small rise in the ground, and all the land it surveyed belonged to the Halloran family.  The Halloran land was distinguished from the rest of the world by a stone wall, which went completely around the estate, so that all inside the wall was Halloran, all outside was not...There were twenty windows to the left wing of the house, and twenty to the right; because the great door in the center was double, on the second floor there were forty-two windows across and forty-two on the third floor, lodged directly under the elaborate carvings on the roof edge; Mr. Halloran had directed that the carvings on the roof be flowers and horns of plenty, and there is no doubt that they were done as he said...On either side of the door the terrace went to the right for eighty-six black tiles and eighty-six white tiles, and equally to the left. There were a hundred and six thin pillars holding up the marble balustrade on the left, and a hundred and six on the right, on the left eight wide shallow marble steps led down to the lawn, and eight on the right.  The lawn swept precisely around the blue pool -- which was square-- and up in a vastly long lovely movement of a summer house build like a temple to some minor mathematical god; the temple was open, with six pillars on either side."

The house was as rigid in its design as its occupants were rigid in their respective roles -- with one exception in each case. 

"Intruding purposefully upon the entire scene, an inevitable focus, was the sundial, set badly off center and reading WHAT  IS THIS WORLD?"

And Aunt Fanny.  Early in the morning before sunrise, joined by Fancy, she goes for a walk down a side path and through the secret garden.  The fog rises, they stray off the path, Fancy points out a gardener trimming the hedges from a ladder, Fancy runs on ahead and Aunt Fanny becomes disoriented and lost, crying for help which never comes.

"Somehow, sobbing, Aunt Fanny came through the mist and into the summer house and in four wide steps was running down the lawn toward the sundial in the darkness, and then she heard a voice.  It was huge, not Fancy at all, echoing and sounding around and in and out of her head:  FRANCES HALLORAN, it came to her, FRANCES, FRANCIS HALLORAN.  Twisting as she ran, moving wildly, she put out her hands; FRANCES HALLORAN, the voice went on, FRANCES."

The voice belongs to her dead father:  "Frances, there is danger.  Go back to the house.  Tell them, in the house, tell them, in the house, tell them that there is danger.  Tell them in the house that in the house it is safe.  The father will watch the house, but there is danger.  Tell them."

Aunt Fanny goes back to the house and tells her story.  Fancy denies ever walking in the garden with Aunt Fanny and everyone knows that a gardener trimming hedges in the dark is an impossibility, but everyone also listens to Aunt Fanny when she tells them that the world is going to end and they must stay in the house to be safe.  For various reasons, everybody yields to Aunt Fanny and the household prepares for the end of the world.

Old Mrs. Halloran is also expecting guests, Mrs. Willow, and old friend, and her two adult daughters.  When they arrive, we see that

"Mrs. Willow was a large and overwhelmingly vocal woman. with a great bosom and an indefinable air of having lost some vital possession down the front of it, for she shook and trembled and regarded herself with such enthusiasm that it was all the casual observer could do at first to keep from offering to help.  Whatever she lost and was hoping to recover, it was not her good humor, for that was unlosable, and seemed, in fact, as much a matter of complete insensitivity as of good spirits; Mrs. Willow was absolutely determined to be affable, and would not be denied."

Now the stage has been set and the players in their respective places for this neo-Gothic tale to take place.  What happens next, you'll have to discover for yourself.





For links to more Forgotten Books and stories by Shirley Jackson and others, go to Patti Abbott's blog Pattinase.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Monday, February 3, 2014


From IMDb:  "Jesse James keeps so busy skirt-chasing that his outlaw career starts to suffer."

No, we're not talking the Kat von D and the five-wives-including-Sandra-Bullock Jesse James.  This one is the real deal.  Kinda.

Directed, co-written, and co-produced by Don "Red" Barry, this one stars...Don "Red" Barry.   D. D. Beauchamp, a writer best known for his westerns (although he also penned Abbott and Costello Go To Mars), is credited with the story.  As for the screenplay, there were a lot of fingers in the pie; in addition to Beauchamp and Barry, Barry's co-producers Lloyd Royal and Tom Garraway got co-writing credits, as did William R. Cox, a popular western and mystery author.  ( I suspect Cox was brought in to make sense of the changes the co-producers made in the script.  That's often the way.)

Barry, of course, stars as Jesse James, Jack Buetel as his brother Frank, Sam Keller is Cole Younger, and Michael Carr plays "that coward" Robert Ford.  Jesse is hiding out, not as "Mr. Howard", but as J. Woodsen.  What about Jesse James' women?  There's Waco Gans (Peggie Castle), Delta (Lita Baron), Caprice Clark (Joyce Barrett, as "Joyce Rhed"), and Cattle Kate Kennedy (Betty Bruek).  Not one of Jesse's women is Angel Botts (Laura Lea).

Rotten Tomatoes has not rated this film, but notes:  Not much of a western, Jesse James' Women is recommended for fans of cimematic "cat fights."

That's good enough for me.  (Plus, according to family legend, Jesse James is a distant relative of my wife.  How can I resist?


I just got a message that the link takes you to episode one of The Adventures of Smilin' Jack.  My face is as red as this typeface. is the correct link:

Just consider the Smilin' Jack episode as a bonus.  (Actually, with my lack of computer skills, I'm lucky I don't pull a snafu two or three times a week.)


She's smart and beautiful, a dynamo of curiosity and kindness.  At her birthday party sleepover this weekend the giggles and squees could be heard across the Chesapeake.  I love her more than life itself.  There's something magical about being twelve, Erin, enjoy it to the fullest!


I saw my shadow yesterday so I went back to bed.  Luckily, I had these books to keep me company.
  • Mario Acevedo - X-Rated Blood Suckers.  a Felix Gomez mystery cum vampire novel.
  • Piers Anthony, Demons Don't Dream and Harpy Time.  Fantasies in the Xanth series.
  • Lloyd Biggle, Jr., A Galaxy of Strangers.  SF colle ction of eight stories
  • Clive Cussler & Paul Kemprecos, Lost City.  A Numa Files/Kurt Austin thriller.  I've mentioned before how much I like Kemprecos.
  • Keith R. A. DeCandido, Buffy the Vampire Slayer:  The Deathless.  Television tie-in novel.
  • David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer, editors, Year's Best SF 14.  SF anthology with 21 stories from 2008.
  • Mo Hayder, Ritual and The Treatment.  Jack Caffery thrillers.
  • Jesse Kellerman, The Genius.  Thriller.
  • "E. E. Knight" (Eric E. Frisch), Enter the Wolf and Way of the Bear.  SF omnibuses of the first six books in the Vampire Earth series:  Way of the Wolf, Choice of the Cat, and Tale of the Thunderbolt in the first volume and Valentine's Rising, Valentine's Exile, and Valentine's Resolve in the second.
  • James Laurence, The Faith Trials, Volume 1.  Television tie-in collection of four stories.
  • Archer Mayor, The Surrogate Thief.  A Joe Gunther mystery.
  • Anne McCaffrey & Jody Lynn Nye, The Death of Sleep.  Sf novel, the second novel in McCaffrey's Planet Pirate series and the first to be co-written by Nye.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


Question:  If Clark Kent didn't wear his glasses would people recognize him as Superman?

Sandra Knight doesn't wear glasses and her alter ego Phantom Lady doesn't even wear a mask, so how come nobody puts two and two together?  I can't figure it out.  Perhaps no one ever looks at Phantom Lady's face.  Because, I swear the Phantom Lady is drawn with a much larger set of, shall we say, bazongers than Sandra Knight possesses.

No matter.  Phantom Lady is a superhero by dint of her portable black out ray, which looks a bit like a fat iphone.  Without it, she's toast.  (Well, that's what they'd like you to think, but she still remains pretty scrappy.)  How many other superheroes have to rush to a taxi and say, "Follow that cab!"?

For your enjoyment, the December 1954-January 1955 issue of Phantom Lady: