Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, March 31, 2014


Bill Crider has reported the death of Joe Frazier, one of the founding members of The Chad Mitchell Trio, a group that I have enjoyed since high school.  I met Frazier only once, when he asked if family members could sit next to us during a concert which featured the Trio; he was a warm, engaging person with a sincere desire to know more about Kitty and me.  In the last few years, when Chad Mitchell would introduce members of the group, he would say, "And on my left, Joe Frazier."  And Frazier would reply, "Far left!"  Frazier was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1973 and served in parishes in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and California.  He was 77.


Lotte Lenya


  • Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones.  Nonfiction.
  • William W. Johnstone, with J. A. Johnstone, The Family Jenson:  Hard Road to Hell, Luke Jenson, Bounty Hunter, Sixkiller, U. S. Marshal:  Eight Hours to Die, and Strike of the Mountain Man.  Four westerns in four different series, written by a dead guy and his "carefully selected" supposed nephew.
  • "T. J. MacGregor" (aka,Trish Janeshutz), Out of Sight.
  • Henning Mankell, Before the Frost, The Dogs of Riga, The Man Who Smiled, and Side-Tracked.  Kurt Wallander mysteries.  Also, The Pyramid, a collection of five Wallander stories.
  • Randy Wayne White, The Man Who Invented Florida.  A Doc Ford mystery.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


The Thing in the Attic by James Blish, a LibraVox recording read by Gregg Margarite.

UPDATE:  Oops.  Wrong link.  Fixed now.  Sorry


Radujsia Maria, a Ukranian religious song sung by Savrion Brothers.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Astrud Gilberto, the girl from Ipanema, turns 73 today.  I won't tell you how many times I listened to this in 1964.


Eddie Peabody, the King of the Banjo


Jack Binder (brother of Otto and Earl) did the artwork for the adventures of The FightingYank in this issue.  The Fighting Yank is really Bruce Carter III.  "Armed with the invisible cloak of his patriot ancestor, Bruce Carter III takes up his role of the FIGHTING YANK and enters a thrilling battle in defense of America!"  He's aided by his girlfriend, "good old Joan" Farwell who knows how to operate a steam shovel (and a good thing, too!).

The Fighting Yank began his adventures in Starling Comics #10 (September 1941) and was created by Richard L. Hughes and drawn by Jon L. Blummer.  A year later, he was popular enough to earn his own title.  His cloak, which gave him super strength, invulnerability, and (at one point) the ability to fly, came from the ghost of his Revolutionary War ancestor, Bruce Carter I.  The Flying Yank was one of many superheroes fighting stereotypical (read not PC) enemies during World War II.  He lasted through the Forties and has been revived and transformed several times since he first appeared on the scene.  In 2001, Alan Moore revived the  character only to have him killed off while protecting his daughter Carol Carter, who eventually became the Fighting Spirit.

In addition to three adventures of The Fighting Yank, this issue also features Mystico the Wonderful (who uses his powers of magic for good) and the Rio Kid and his mighty horse Rajah (saving Miss Jeanie's ranch and avoiding romantic entanglements, naturally).


And don't forget to buy those War Bonds, kids!

Friday, March 28, 2014


Perry Como and the Fontane Sisters --put them together and what have you got?


Night of Shadows by Ed Gorman (1990)

Before the turn of the last century, a woman named Anna Placak became the first uniformed female police officer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa,  and, perhaps, in the world.  The real-life Anna Placak became the inspiration  for Ed Gorman's Anna Toland, the detective in Night of Shadows, as well as in several short stories by Gorman.

Anna, a widow, is a police matron, favored by the chief of police and desired by police detective David Peary.  She has some distinctly modern ideas for 1895 and hopes to move beyond be a matron to becoming an actual constable.  She has studied the latest police methods and investigative techniques but is having a hard time convincing others of their worth.

Although this is an age of electricity and telephones (and stories of the possibility of flying machines!), Cedar Rapids is straddled between the days of the old west and modern times.  When it is learned that notorious gunslinger Stephen Fuller is returning to his home town to pay his respects to a dying boyhood friend, plans are made to make his visit as peaceful as possible.  Fuller is known to have a hair trigger when drinking and has left at least a dozen bodies behind to back up that reputation.  Anna is assigned to keep the gunfighter out of trouble.  Fuller, however, is old and tired and doesn't want trouble but a drunk with a secret past tries to goad him.  Fuller settles the argument with his fist rather than his gun.  Embarrassed, the drunk tries to shoot Fuller down on a lonely street later that night.  Before either could fire, the drunk is shot in the back by someone else and Fuller is accused of the crime.

Anna is convinced that Fuller is innocent.  What no one realizes is that Cedar Rapids also harbors a grotesque serial killer who has remained hidden from sight by his doting mother.

As with any Gorman novel, there are twists and turns and surprises.  It's a fast-paced ride with more than its share of thrills and a (dare I use the adverb?) lovingly portrayed historical look at Cedar Rapids and the times.  But  the heart of the book is Anna and the challenges facing her as a woman -- challenges from her colleagues and from the mind-set of the times as well as challenges from her own self-doubts.  The thread that Anna weaves throughout the story adds a dimension to this book, transcending it from a good novel to a must-read.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Batman Mystery Club was supposed to be a radio show in which Robin introduces Bruce Wayne/Batman [evidently Bats did not mind his secret identity being exposed to the kids in the Batman Mystery Club] who told scary mystery stories, emphasizing that there is always a logical explanation for the supposedly supernatural.  "The Monster of Dumphries Hall" is told at 103rd meeting of the Club*.  The first part of the show has Batman explaining the solution to the previous story**, and -- like Sherherezade -- Batman adjourns the meeting before the Dumphries Hall mystery is explained.  Kids will have to wait until the 104th meeting of the club to get the answers.  Always keep 'em hanging, that's the Batman motto***.

This was evidently recorded on September 5, 1950.  I have no idea who produced is, who directed it, who wrote it, or who appeared in it.  In this case, ignorance can be bliss.

You might as well listen to it anyway.  It's only 12 minutes, 46 seconds long.

*  Hah!  Fooled you kids!  There were no meeting before the 103rd.  This was a proposed audition tape for a daily show that never materialized.

** Double hah!  There was no previous story for this to be a solution to.  (see note above)  Batman evidently loved to jerk the kids' chain.  Psych!

***Triple hah!  There was no 104th meeting.  (see notes above)  You kids**** are going to be hanging forever, 'cause that's the way this Batman rolls.

****And keep off my lawn, dagnabbit!


I'm in the mood for some great blues music.  How about you?

Drinkin' Wine

Born and Livin' with the Blues (Brownie McGhee solo)

Bring It on Home to Me

Walk On

Key to the Highway (introduced by Pete Seeger)

Hootin' Blues

Hole in the Wall

Easy Rider

God and Man

Anna Mae (another Brownie solo)

Key to the Highway

On the Road Again

With Lightnin' Hopkins and Big Joe Williams doing Whiskey Blues

People Get Ready

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


How cool is this?  "The Ballard of Davy Crockett" sung by Davy Crockett's great-great-great-granddaughter!

Hat tip to Evan Lewis.


Forty-four years ago I became the luckiest man in the world and I've considered myself even luckier every day since.  Today, on our anniversary, Kitty's beauty still takes my breath away.  I remain in awe by her tenderness, her intelligence, and the kindness of her heart.   She makes each day brighter and makes me a much better person.  The phrase "better half" must have been created with her in mind.  I love her.


What's the difference between an oral thermometer and a rectal thermometer?  The taste.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


The talented Judy Henske.


I'm not a sports-oriented person, although I used to follow the Red Sox on occasion -- March Madness doesn't mean the same thing to me as it might to others.  Anyway, here's a bit of alternative madness for your March.

From 1942, Johnny Downs, George Zucco, Anne Nagel, and Glenn Strange in The Mad Monster:

From 1940, Son of Inagi -- the first Black horror film and featuring a female mad scientist:

Finally, not madness, but a little bit of March -- Colonel March of Scotland Yard, that is.  Here's the July 17, 1956 episode of the television show that starred Boris Karloff as the title character.  Two interesting things here:  first, Colonel March is based on the character created by John Dickson Carr and second, the show began in 1954, then skipped a year and returned in 1956 for a total of 26 episodes.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Preserving pulp fiction.


I caught an interesting couple of movies on DVD this weekend.

Odd Thomas

Based on the first book in the popular series by Dean Koontz, this movie features Anton Yelchin (Star Trek's Sulu and the voice of Clumsy Smurf) as everybody's favorite fry cook.  Odd has the power to  see (but not hear) the dead.  He can also see bodaches -- eerie, dark, smoke-like creatures from another reality who appear whenever something violent is about to happen; the  more bodaches, the greater the body count.  Bodaches are infesting the California town of Pico Mundo.  Something terrible is about to happen and Odd must figure out how to prevent the slaughter.

Also featuring Addison Timlin (Californication and Zero Hour) as Odd's girlfriend Stormy Llewellyn.  (When they were children, a gypsy fortune-telling machine had told them that they belong together forever.)  Willem Dafoe is Wyatt Porter, Pico Mundo's chief of police and a close friend of Odd.  Patton Oswalt plays writer Ozzie Boone and Schuler Hensley is Fungus Bob, the man who draws Bodaches to him like flies.  Look closely and you might also spy 50 Cent and Arnold Vosloo in the film.

Written and directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, Van Helsing, G. I. Joe:  The Rise of the Cobra),the film follows Koontz's novel fairly closely, although Odd is a bit flashier with a spatula over the grill than I remember from the book.  All in all, a pretty interesting flick.

Machete Kills

A completely different type of thriller.  The follow-up to Machete, finds the title character tasked by the American president to stop a threat to the country.  This is another grindhouse film by Robert Rodriguez, so there's plenty of violence, sex, and absurdity.  Machete, of course, is the great Danny Trejo, who was born for this role.  The villain is Mel Gibson, who has rigged a failsafe device to his heart; if his heart stops beating, the missiles will launch.  Sofia Vegara is Desdemona, a killer brothel owner who has guns implanted in strategic places in her underwear.  Someone called "Carlos Estevez" (who looks a lot like Charlie Sheen) plays a slightly whacked-out president of the United States.  The movie is a lot of fun and is loaded with well-known names:  Amber Heard, Michelle Rodigues, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderos, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Vanessa Hudgens, Alexa Vega (who now goes by Alexa Penavega since marrying New Dimension idol Carlos Pena), Tom Savini, William Sadler, Elon Musk (as himself), Jessica Alba, Cheech Marin.

The body count is impressive, the seriousness is nonexistent, and the film ends with a preview of the (probably never-to-be filmed) Machete in Space.

The movies made for a  fun weekend.


Richard Awlinson, Tantras.  Caming (Forgotten Realms) tie-in novel; Book Two of the Avatar Trilogy.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


The Case of the Missing Clue with Perry Mason by Tommy Flach (1959)

Mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner was used to getting a lot of letters, but one he received in 1958 tickled his fancy.  It was from Tommy Flach, a 9-year-old fourth grader at the Nathan C. Schaeffer School in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.  Tommy was evidently a big fan of the Perry Mason television show and, since his grandmother had given him a new pen, he decided to try it out and write his own Perry Mason story.  The result -- a fifteen page playlet -- he sent along to the creator of his favorite detective.

Gardner love the story, complete with misspellings and odd jumps here and there.  The result was that he sent the "manuscript" to his publisher William Morrow which, in turn, published it as a book priced at one dollar.  The book included a facsimile of young Tommy's fifteen-page handwritten manuscript along with a three page introduction by Gardner.  The introduction was actually longer than the little play.

To quote Gardner:

"The script is good for a laugh anywhere, and then it is worthy of a sober second reading.  Beneath the evidence of immaturity in execution there is a real appreciation of dramatic values, an appraisal of life which is indicative of the rapidly changing times in which we live...There is no limit to what imagination can accomplish once imagination is given free rein and permitted to develop...[R]ead it a second time.  I say again -- to my mind this is a very significant document."

Gardner's introduction -- titled The Case of the Boy Who Wrote "The Case of the Missing Clue with Perry Mason" -- was mistakenly credited as the title of the book and the book (further mistakenly) credited to Gardner himself in the St. James Guide to Crime & Mystery Writers.  So this is not a missing Perry Mason book, but it is an interesting curiosity.

I won't go into the plot (such as it is), but I will say it involves a brutal death, a missing will, and a surprise ending.

As far as what happened to Tommy Flach your guess is as good as mine.  A brief search of the internet (really brief, actually) shows a Thomas C. Flach who lived in Pennsylvania who would be the right age.  Wherever and whoever he is, I hope Tommy is enjoying a long and happy life and is secure in the knowledge that he contributed to one of the many interesting side roads of mystery fiction.


Peter, Paul and Mary...

Saturday, March 22, 2014


About the polar vortex, perhaps?


John Aman is The Amazing Man.  Trained since a child by The Council of Seven in the remote reaches of Tibet in strength, knowledge and courage, he also has the ability to turn himself invisible.  Known as the "Green Mist" to his enemies, Aman has vowed to always be good and kind and generous -- sometimes, however, the evil psychic baddie the "Great Question" is able to take over Aman's mind.  On the plus side, The Amazing Man was drawn and written by the great Bill Everett.

Also included in this issue are The Shark, Iron Skull (who's got to be the creepiest looking superhero around), The Miniature Man, Chuck Hardy, and Mighty Man.


Friday, March 21, 2014


Here's a couple of tunes from an old radio broadcast.


The County of Gaston by Robert F. Cope & Manly Wade Wellman (1961)

Manly Wade Wellman was a proud Southerner and many of his books, both fiction and nonfiction, are set in his beloved state of North Carolina.  He wrote histories of several counties in the Tarheel State (Warren, County, Moore County, and Madison County) and wrote or co-wrote a number of the pamphlets that made up the 13-part Winston-Salem in History series.  For The County of Gaston, Wellman teamed up with local historian Robert Cope to come up with a surprisingly entertaining piece of local history.  (Wellman went on to use Gaston County and its history during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars as settings for several of his books, most notably his juvenile historicals Rifles at Ramsour's Mill, Battle for King's Mountain, Clash on the Catawba, and The South Fork Rangers.)

Gaston County lies about two-thirds into the southern part of North Carolina coming from the east and abuts South Carolina.  The county was officially established in 1846 after having been a part of several increasingly smaller counties over the years.  As enough settlers moved into an area it was often divided to form a new county, thus Gaston Country was formed from Lincoln County. which was formed from Tyron County, which was formed from Mecklenburg County, which was formed from Anson County, which was formed from Bladen County, which was formed from New Hanover County, which was formed from Clarenden County, which was form from Albemarle County.  (Phew!  It's like going though a list of biblical "begats.")  The county was named for Judge William Gaston, a revered citizen who had passed away just three years earlier.

The county was divided into eight areas or "companies," keeping with old militia organization, each with its own constable, justice of the peace, and patrol committee.  In 1850, the first census since its formation, Gaston County had 8,073 residents, including 2,112 slaves and 26 free Negroes.  Industry included textile mills, mines, and a brick manufacturing plant.  Textile mills remained an important part of the local economy -- an appendix in the book lists 65 active mills as of 1935 and 103 mills that had been discontinued, merged, or sold in the county's first 91 years.

Although I have no proof, I'm certain that most of the charm of this history is due to Wellman.  Figures from the past are brought to life with their various quirks, passions, and opinions.  Wellman's love for the country and its people are clearly evidenced.  Anecdotes are sprinkled throughout to illustrate the temper of the day.  The detailed research that went into the book is certainly on a par with that used by Wellman in other nonfiction books.  (The University of North Carolina library seems to have been Wellman's second home.)

We are able to see an area transform from virgin forest, through its infant stage of development, to the chaos and tragedy of the Civil War and Reconstruction and the emergence of the Ku Klux Klan, to periods of boom and bust, and through labor unrest and World Wars.  The book covers the first century of Gaston County and no mention is made of the burgeoning civil rights struggles that were going on before the publication date.

The history itself covers 197 pages.  Appendices, notes, and an index cover an additional 75 pages.  The financing for the book's publication by the Gaston County Historical Society was made by 81 sponsors listed in Appendix G.  The other appendices list the county's Revolutionary War soldiers, the Clerks of the Court, Sheriffs, and Registers of Deeds from 1847 through 1955, the Gaston County members of the state legislature from 1846 through 1961, the Gaston County confederate soldiers by company and regiment, the county's Spanish-American War soldiers, and the county's texile plants from 1846 through 1935.  A lot of nit-picking detail there, but if you were a local resident, you might really want that information.

The book is an interesting read, but the subject matter makes it interesting only to history buffs and Wellman completists.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


  • "Ace," Teri Woods Presents, Predators.  Mystery (plus the mystery of who the heck "Ace" is).
  • William Beinhardt, Hate Game.  A Ben Kincaid mystery.
  • Lawrence Block, The Burglar on the Prowl. A Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery.
  • Rhys Bowen, Tell Me, Pretty Maiden.  A Molly Murphy mystery.
  • Austin S. Camacho, Blood and Bone, a Hannibal Jones mystery, and The Orion Mystery, a Morgan Stark/Felicity O'Brien mystery.  Both books signed and inscribed to previous owner.
  • Orson Scott Card, Homecoming Harmony.  SF omnibus of the first three novels in the Homecoming sequence:  The Memory of Earth, The Call of Earth, and The Ships of Earth.)
  • John Connolly, The Infernals.  YA horror featuring Samuel Johnson.
  • Tim Dorsey, Pineapple Grenade.  Thriller.
  • Tana French, Faithful Place.  The third novel featuring the Dublin Murder Squad.
  • John Hart, The Last Child.  Thriller.
  • Laura Lippman, Hardly Knew Her.  Mystery collection with 17 stories.
  • Anne McCaffrey, The Dolphin's Bell.  SF novella in the Pern series.
  • John Morrisey, Kingsbane.  Fantasy collection with three stories; Book Three in the Iron Angel trilogy.
  • "Ellis Peters" (Edith Pargeter), Brother Cadfael's Penance, The Confession of Brother Haluin, Dead Man's Ransom, The Devil's Novice, The Heretic's Apprentice, The Hermit of Eyton Forest, A Morbid Taste for Bones, The Pilgrim of Hate, The Potter's Field, The Sanctuary Sparrow, St. Peter's Fair, and The Virgin in the Ice.  Brother Cadfael mysteries.  Also, A Rare Benedictine, a collection of three Brother Cadfael stories.
  • James Rogers, The Dictionary of Cliches.  Nonfiction.
  • [TV Guide], TV Guide Book of Lists.  Nonfiction.
  • Douglas E. Winter, Clive Barker:  The Dark Fantastic.  Biography.


News has just come in the Fred Phelps, Sr. has died.


...and here's a springtime song to welcome the season


An old-time favorite.  I remember listening to this when they were together in the Jim Kweskin Jug Band at Club 47 in Cambridge way. way. way back in the day.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


The late, great Paul Clayton.


Many years ago, my mother-in-law opened the morning paper and saw her name in the obituaries. 

She telephoned us, "Did you see today's paper?  They said I died!"

"Yes, we did," I told her.  "Where are you calling from?"


It's been a while since I last posted on the blog.  Contrary to popular opinion, the House of Everything was not forclosed, or condemned, or battered into matchsticks by any of several polar vortexes.  I was merely the victim of a vast web wing conspiracy.  I think.

Whatever happened, my computer died.  As many of you know, I am not a computer savvy, technically oriented person.  My tech guru had to use the most basic computer lingo to explain it to me.  He said that the framgombally rozenfratzed the transection of the the grnz while Saturn was on the cusp of cleopatra.  Or words to that effect.  I think he means that a big wad of Declan's dog hair got stuck in the tubes and pipes that make up the internet.

Now all that is in the past.  The computer now functions, although it seems to insist that I make a blood sacrifice of a squirrel to it fortnightly.

And now...

(drum roll, please)

...on with the blog!

Monday, March 10, 2014


  • Poul Anderson, Harvest of Stars.  SF.
  • David Brin, The Transparent Society.  Nonfiction.  Published 16 years ago, this book focuses on technology's role in the choice between privacy and freedom.  The more things change...
  • Wesley D. Camp, Camp's Unfamiliar Quotations from 2000 B.C. to the Present.  Reference.  Some of the quotations aren't that unfamiliar, but the book is good fun.
  • Lee Child, Bad Luck and Trouble.  A Jack Reacher thriller with not a Tom Cruise in sight.
  • Don Coldsmith, Walks in the Sun.  Western.
  • Michael Connelly, 9 Dragons and The Scarecrow.  A Harry Bosch mystery and a Jack McEvoy mystery.
  • Patricia Cornwell. Black Notice, Scarpetta, and Trace.  Kay Scarpetta mysteries.
  • Richard Erdoes & Alfonso Ortiz, editors, American Indian Myths and Legends.  Folklore.
  • Linda Fairstein, The Kills.  An Alexandra Cooper mystery.
  • L. Ron Hubbard, Clear Body, Clear Mind.  Bushwah.
  • Eric Van Lustbader, Black Blade, French Kiss, The Kaisho, The Ninja, and White Ninja.  Thrillers; the last three feature Nicholas Linnear.
  • Todd McCaffrey, Dragonheart.  SF novel in the Pern series.  His second solo novel in the series, but his mother's name is still most prominent on the cover jacket.
  • Todd McFarlane, Spawn, Book 1, Spawn, Book 2, and Spawn Book 3.  Graphic novels.
  • Doug Moench, Batman & Dracula:  Red Rain.  Graphic novel.
  • George Pelecanos, What It Was.  A Derek Strange mystery.
  • Rick Reed, The Cruelest Cut.  Thriller.
  • John Ringo & Julie Cochrane, Honor of the Clan. SF.
  • R. A. Salvatore, Canticle, In Sylvan Shadows, and Night Masks.  Fantasy, the first three volumes in the Cleric Quintet.
  • Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, DragonLance Chronicles, Volume 1:  Dragons of Autumn Twilight, DragonLance Legends, Volume 1:  Time of the Twins, DragonLance Legends, Volume2:  War of the Twins, and DragonLance Legends, Volume 3:  Test of the Twins.  Gaming [DragonLance] tie-in novels.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


British SF writer and fan William F. Temple (1914-1989) would have been 100 years old today.  A member of the legendary British Interplanetary Society and editor of their bulletin, Temple was a flatmate of fellow BPI member Arthur C, Clarke prior to World War Two.  (A semi-autobiographical account of that time can be found in his 2000 collection 88 Gray's Inn Road.)  He is best known for his novel (and the film based on the novel) Four-Sided Triangle.  He published at least nine other science fiction novels (including three juveniles in the Martin Magus series), a detective novel, and two nonfiction books about space travel.  Temple published almost 70 science fiction stories; fourteen of them are currently available in A Niche in Time and Other Stories (Ramble House, 2011).  Temple is one of many forgotten writers who is worth checking out.


The Statler Brothers...

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Joe Palooka Visits the Lost City (1945)

He may be a boxing champion, but Joe Palooka is an all-American good guy, which is why this 1945 one-shot comic has him in the army.  Private Palooka and his buddy Jerry Leemy find themselves in the Mid-East battling fascists.  Along the way, Joe meets up with a number of friends, both old and new, among them Ibi ben Abou (Benny to his friends) and Queen Margaret Louise Francesca Maria Ursula Stephanie of Borovia (Maggie to her friends), as well as more than a few enemies.  Look quickly and you might even see Knobby Walsh.

With such clean-cut, wholesome men like Joe Palooka fighting for Uncle Sam, it's no wonder that we won World War II.

Of course, Ham Fisher is credited with both writing and drawing this giant-size (164 pages!) comic book.


Friday, March 7, 2014


She is the very best thing that has ever happened to me.  Her beauty still takes my breath away.  May this day and each following day continue to bring her love, joy, and wonder.


Harlan Ellison's The City on the Edge of Forever:  The Original Teleplay That Became the Classic Star Trek Episode by Harlan Ellison (expanded edition, 1996)

More years ago than I like to remember, back in the Dark Ages when we would go to science fiction  conventions, we would always hear at least half a dozen stories about Harlan Ellison, the enfant terrible of the science fiction world.  Ellison is now 79, which is kind of old for an enfant terrible, but the reputation still follows him, in part because of a long-running feud he once had with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry -- a feud that stemmed from Ellison's screenplay of "The City on the Edge of Forever," an episode that many feel was the finest that program ever produced.

Let's get a couple of things straight from the get-go.  Ellison is not, and has never been, an enfant terrible.  Nor has he ever been a mean-spirited, childish brat.  What Ellison is -- and always has been -- is an honest and highly principled man.  Yes, he is prone to anger-- but never without cause.  At times he has been a hack and a hustler, but he is also the solid professional we all hoped we could be.  Ellison  is a man who knows his own self-worth and the value of his writing.

Ellison is not a man you want to be pissed at you.  He can be pissed at you if you are duplicitous or meretricious; if you are false-faced; or if you spread falsehoods about his professionalism.  For years, Gene Roddenberry had been spreading lies about Ellison's relationship with Star Trek and with this script in particular.

This book is Ellison's response thirty years after the fact.  (Actually, Ellison first responded in a Roger Elwood anthology, Six Science Fiction Plays, in 1976 with the original script for the episode -- the one that won the Writer's Guild award for best dramatic-episode teleplay of the 1967-68 season.
In 1995, a small-press edition of this book was published; a year later, White Wolf published this expanded version.

So what was all the hoopla about?  If you don't already know, I suggest you read this book.

And what's in the book?  Ellison's 75-page introduction, for one; Ellison's introductions are always worthwhile and this one is a doozy.  Then there's Ellison's original treatment, dated 21 March 1966, and his second (revised) treatment, dated 13 May 1966.  The core of the book is the original teleplay, dated 3 June 1966, followed by the prologue and act one of the second revised draft of the teleplay, dated 1 December 1966.  There are also interesting afterwards by eight people closely associated with Star Trek:  ST novelist Peter David, ST scripter and executive D. C. Fontana, ST scripter and writer David Gerrold, ST:TNG executive Melinda Snodgrass, and ST actors DeForest Kelley, Walter Koenig, Leonard Nimoy, and George Takei.

Read this is you are interested in Ellison, Star Trek, how Hollywood works,  or if you just like to read a great story.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Having been born and raised in New England, I have a proper appreciation for seafood.  I love it.  Now that I am in Southern Maryland my appreciation has been slightly altered, but remains strong.

See, in New England they have real fried clams -- the ones with the bellies.  Yeah, when I was a kid there were a few places that wimped out and sold fried clam strips (I'm looking at you, HoJo's!) but if you went into those places you kind of skulked in, hoping your friends didn't see you while at the same time being embarrassed for your parents who were the ones who dragged you in there in the first place.

In Southern Maryland, the big things are oysters and crabs.  Now I like oysters, but fried oysters just don't hold a candle to fried clams.  (And crabs -- they're darned tasty but the people around here boast about crabs only because they don't have lobster!)

So we've been looking for a place around here that serves decent fried clams and it turns out there's a little hole-in-the-wall diner a couple of miles away that has them.  I hope to check it out this week.  I really am tired of driving 500 miles to Cape Cod every time I get a hankering for clams.

(The very best fried clams we ever had were from another hole-in-the-wall place off the rotary by the Hyannis airport.  The place was there for only one season and has been mightily mourned ever since.)

And while I'm gorging on what I hope are fried clams that live up to their local reputation, I thought I'd give you a recipe to try for yourselves.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014



A busload of politicians were traveling down a country lane when it veered off the road and smashed into a large tree.  A nearby farmer happened on the scene, inspected the wreckage, then dug a large pit and buried the politicians.  A few days later, the county sheriff drove by and saw the wrecked bus and the nearby grave and the farmer told him about the accident and that he had buried the politicians.  "Good heavens!  They were ALL dead?"  the sheriff asked.  "Well," the farmer replied, "a couple of them said they weren't, but you know how all them politicians lie."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Tales of Frankenstein:  The Face in the Tombstone Mirror (1958)

Just as Victor and Igor did when cherry-picking body parts for their monster, so too did Hammer Studios and Columbia Pictures did when they partnered to produce this failed television pilot, taking a standard Hammer plot and throwing in stock scenes from several Universal pictures.

British actor Anton Diffring (The Man Who Could Cheat Death, The Beast Must Die) plays Baron Frankenstein to Don McGowan's (The Creature Walks Among Us, Tarzan and the Valley of Gold) Monster.  Also featured in the half-hour pilot are Helen Westcott (Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Monster on the Campus), Ludwig Stossell (Ramar of the Jungle, From the Earth to the Moon), Richard Bull ("Nels Oleson" on Little House on the Prairie; he passed away last month at age 89), Raymond Greenleaf (Pinky, All the King's Men), Peter Brocco (Radar Men from the Moon, Johnny Got His Gun), and Sidney Mason ("Inspector J. J. Burke" in the 1952 series Craig Kennedy, Criminologist).

The show was directed by Curt Siodmak, brother of director Robert Siodmak and the screenwriter of many classic horror movies:  Donovan's Brain, The Wolfman, Black Friday, I Walked with a Zombie, House of Frankenstein, Son of Dracula, The Beast with Five Fingers, Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, Bride of the Gorilla, The Magnetic Monster, and the list goes on and on.  Siodmak also acted as associate producer and provided the story for Tales of Frankenstein:  The Face in the Tombstone Mirror.  The actual scripting duties went to Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore, legendary names in the SF and mystery fields.  According to IMDb, Jerome Bixby, the SF writer/editor whose story "It's a Good Life" was one of the most memorable The Twilight Zone episodes, had an uncredited hand in the teleplay as well.


Monday, March 3, 2014


  • Cameron Judd, Beggar's Touch, Caine's Trail, and Cherokee Joe.  Westerns.
  • T. M. Wright, The Place.  Horror.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

VOODA (1955)

How many white jungle queens does it take to change a light bulb?  I have no idea, but surely, out of all the umptitty-ump white jungle queens out there in Comic Book Land and Pulpland, there has to be at least one who knows how to do it.  I mean, there's a passel of them out there.

And one of them is Vooda.  Seriously, that's her name.

In the June 1955 issue (#26), Vooda is talked into starring in Hollywood's latest jungle epic, replacing a shallow star in "The Intruders."  And in "The Trek of Danger," Vooda is tricked into going on a long journey, allowing an evil rival to convince the natives that Vooda has died.  Alas, Vooda's outfit is pretty modest throughout.  No tiny leopard skin outfits for this jungle queen!

The jungle is a pretty big place -- big enough for a few more jungle characters.  In "Trapped!," Kimbo the Jungle Boy faces off against the evil witch doctor Taglee and an ancient powerful weapon; in the end Kimbo proves that good outlives evil.  (Doesn't it seem like kids in the Fifties had to be reminded of that over and over again?)  In "Congo Champ," Zaan, a clean-cut boxer who has retired to his family's small farm in Africa, is thinking of going back into the ring when two crooked promoters kidnap his father, hoping to force Zaan into signing with them.  (Again, Fifties kids learn a moral lesson:  Things should be "acquired by honest means, the only true reward for any man.")

Also in this issue, two one-papers:  a funny animal strip featuring Koko the Kongo Kid and an unfunny strip in which Uncle Otto has a dream.

To comply with postal regulations, comic books usually had a two-page print story in each issue.  This time it's "The Ape Trail!"  White boy of the jungle Ken Hammond crosses paths with a mad scientist who has been transplanting the brains of humans into the bodies of apes.

As you can tell, none of this is very P.C., and the truly innocent among us might well ask why there were no black jungle queens.  The "white man's burden" has always been a racist concept, but those of us who grew up with Tarzan and Bomba and Sheena can still enjoy such stories while rejecting the conceit behind them.