Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Here it is.  The last day of April and it's cold and wet outside.  Makes me wish for a red, red robin to come bobbing along.

Here's "Whispering'" Jack Smith and Carson Robinson.


I had amnesia once.  Maybe twice.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Closing credits from The Music Man.


This is a movie you either love or hate.

But really, how can you hate a movie that has the Ritz Bothers, an "old dark house," a murderous gorilla, and Bela Lugosi?  And, just for good measure, let's throw in Patsy Kelly and Lionel Atwill.

It's mindless fun and the only vexing question you might have is whether the Ritz Brothers are second-tier Marx Brothers, or second-tier Stooges, or if they are on a level all of their own.


Monday, April 28, 2014


  • "Nicholas Adams" (Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald) - Santa Claws.  YA horror.
  • David Alexander - Star Trek Creator.  Roddenberry's authorized biography.
  • David Baldacci - First Family.  A King and Maxwell thriller.
  • Caroline B. Cooney - Enter Three Witches.  YA horror based on the Scottish play.
  • Matthew Costello - Unidentified.  Horror.
  • Glen Ebisch - Grave Justice.  A Roaming New England mystery.
  • Parke Godwin - The Snake Oil Wars.  SF, the sequel to Waiting for the Galactic Bus.
  • Zane Grey - The Buffalo Hunter.  Collection of five western stories edited by Grey's son, Loren Grey.
  • Donald Hamilton - The Intriguers.  A Matt Helm spy novel.
  • Laurence Henderson - Sitting Target.  Suspense.
  • David M. Humphrey, Sr. - Dark Things.  Religious horror.  (Yes, I know to some that be a redundancy.)
  • Elwyn Jones - Barlow Comes to Judgement.  A Detective chief Inspector Barlow mystery.  Barlow was a character in the British television show Z Cars.
  • Faye Kellerman - The Beast.  A Pete Decker/Rina Lazarus mystery.  Also published as Predator.
  • J. Gordon Melton -  The Vampire Book:  the Encyclopedia of the Undead.  900+ pages of all you ever wanted to know.  According to the cover, this edition has been "Completely Revamped."  Cute.
  • Arthur Myers - Ghostly American Places.  Supposedly haunted homes and landmarks;  originally published as The Ghostly Gazeteer.
  • James Reynolds - Ghosts in Irish Houses.  More ghosts.  These, I assume, drink Guiness.
  • Karin Slaughter - Broken.  A Dr. Sara Linton/Will Trent crossover mystery.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014


The Alan Price Set.


From May 1953 comes a comic book promising explosive action!

First we meet Ed Wells, "Government Courier," whose hair dark hair turned snow white following his most dangerous assignment.

Then, Neal Raymond and Tom Carmichael are two feuding steeplejacks until one's life is in danger in "Blackout."

In our third story John Nichols, customs agent, wages a battle against the purveyors of "Morphine."

There follows a one-page text story in which famed otologic surgeon Dr. Nestor performs the Lempert fenestration under very explosive conditions.

The final tale, "Revenge!," tells another story of workplace feuds -- this time among lumberjacks.

It's an interesting mix of stories with the last three drawn by Pete Morisi.  The first story was drawn by Don Heck, whose villains seemed to talk with lop-sided mouths.  Heck also drew the cover which shows two thrilling scenes completely unrelated to the comic book's content.

Along the way, there are some neat advertisements.  One leads the reader to God, another can get you a real Dutch garden, while a third will help the kiddies to quit smoking.


HAPPY 100th, H.L. GOLD!

H. L. Gold, science fiction writer and founding editor of Galaxy science fiction magazine was born 100 years ago today.  Galaxy, along with another upstart SF magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, changed the shape of science fiction -- all for the better IMHO. 

Friday, April 25, 2014


The Lovin' Spoonful.


Revelations of a Lady Detective, published anonymously (1864)

Until recently, this seminal work in the mystery fiction canon was itself shrouded in mystery.  Copies of this book were all but impossible to find; indeed, it was rumored that the only known copy lay in the British Library.  A very few other copies have since turned up and one of the stories ("The Mysterious Countess", the first in the book) was reprinted in Laura Marcus and Chris Willis' anthology Twelve Women Detective Stories (1997).  It was generally assumed from that first story that Revelations of a Lady Detective was a bland collection of mystery stories whose only significance was that it was the first to feature a female detective. 

Frederick Dannay, in his role as one half of  "Ellery Queen," contributed to the confusion when he issued the Queen's Quorum, a chronological listing of the most significant volumes of short stories in the history of crime literature.  There at #5 was:  "Anonyma" - The Experiences of a Lady Detective - 1861."  Unfortunately Dannay got several things wrong.  The author was not "Anonyma"; no author was listed at all on the book.  There was, however, a previously published book titled Anonyma from the same publisher which became known as the first of a series.  The Anonyma books had nothing in common with each other except as a hook for the publisher to sell more books.  For years, many researchers were trying to figure out who the female author "Anonyma" was, or if "Anonyma" was a female at all.  Authorship of the book was variously attributed to an unknown stable of male writers, to two woman writers of the day, to E. L. Blanchard, and to Bracebridge Hemyng, until finally landing on W. Stephens Hayward, an author known to have written two of the titles in the Anonyma Series (Skittles and The Soiled Dove), as the most likely author of Revelations of a Lady Detective.

Queen also got the title wrong.  Revelations of a Lady Detective was the book's original title and it was reprinted under that name in 1868.  The next reprinting, in 1870, titled the book The Lady Detective:  A Tale of Female Life and Adventure.  Also in 1870 (and again in 1884) the book appeared as The Experiences of a Lady Detective.  And if Queen had gotten the book's date correctly, it would have become #6 on the Queen's Quorum, placing it directly behind Aldrich's 1862 Out of His Head and directly ahead of Twain's 1867 The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.

There's an even chance that Queen was correct in stating the book was the first collection to feature a woman detective.  There is also an even chance that honor goes to The Female Detective, another anonymously published book (now credited to Andrew Forrester, Jr., itself a possible pseudonym) which appeared at almost the exact same time.  It's impossible to determine which came first.

Both Revelations of a Lady Detective and The Female Detective were finally made available to the general public in The Frist Female Detectives (1864), an omnibus transcribed, edited, and introduced by Dagni Bredeson and published  by Scholars Facsimiles & Reprints (Ann Arbor, MI) in 2010.  (Much of the information I have given above was gleaned from Bredeson's informative introduction.)   Revelations of a Lady Detective received a separate publication under Haywood's name as author by The British Library Publishing division in 2013.

What of the book itself?

The Lady Detective is Mrs. Paschal, a widow in her forties who has found employment with the Metropolitan Police.  (This being some years before the real police officially began hiring female officers, and the mostly as matrons, although the is some evidence that the police and individual officers has used women as hired detectives prior to 1864.)  In any event, Mrs. Paschal has a police identification card and is well-known to the officers at headquarters.  She reports to a Colonel Warner, the head of the Detective Department of the Metropolitan Police and with whom she appears to be on good terms.  Warner offers her assignments that he feels are suited to her talents, which Mrs. Paschal may accept or reject .  This indicates that she is employed on a contingency basis.  (Often she is paid by clients themselves.)  It's all pretty confusing to me but it is apparent that Mrs. Paschal has got herself a sweetheart deal.

In "The Mysterious Countess," Mrs. Paschal as a maid to a woman who is spending far more money than should be possible. Mrs. P. trails the Countess through a series of dark tunnels to discover she is robbing gold from a bank vault.  Why the bank never figured out that a vault with an extraneous and unexplored tunnel would be a security risk is beyond me.

In "The Secret Band," An Italian revolutionary is marked for death for betraying his compatriots an Mrs. P. once again goes undercover to apprehend the leader of the gang.  Captured, she is to be crushed to death in an abandoned mill.  Horrors!  What would we do without our friend, deus ex machine?

"The Lost Diamonds" in the next story belong to the Duke of Rustenburgh, whose monomania concerning gems is threatening his marriage.  With the help of a young former-pickpocket friend, Mrs. P. is able to restore order and make things right, although she is prevented from making an arrest.

In "Stolen Letters," Mrs. P. is once again undercover, working in a Post Office which has had valuables and letters go missing.  Not only does she suss out the culprit and the mastermind behind the crimes, but she treats us to an examination of a modern marvel, the pneumatic tube (I prefer to think of it as a "whoosh machine") through which letters travel.

In "The Nun, the Will, and the Abbess," our heroine takes on a private client to release the client's daughter from a convent before she takes her vows and turn her entire fortune over to a scheming abbess.  (The anti-Catholicism here almost drips off the pages.)  Mrs. Paschal is once again under cover. this time as a novitiate.  She manages to free the girl, unite her with her true love, and bribe the abbess with merely half of the girl's fortune.  Huh?

"Which Is the Heir?" is the question bothering the newly title Lord Northend.  A former maid claims to have switched her child with the infant Lord Northend, in order to cash in when the title comes down to the baby.  Mrs. P. unravels the nefarious plot and lets us know how vile gypsies are.

Sir Castle Clewer, a notorious rake, is accused of killing a teenaged shopgirl who had rejected his lecherous advances and was then "Found Drowned."  Mrs. Paschal unmasks the real killer, thereby acquitting the dirty old man.

In "Fifty Pounds Reward," a young and foolish wife falls under the influence of a grasping woman who convinces her to forge one of her husband's checks.  It's up to Mrs. Paschal to set things right and give the evil woman her comeuppance.

Lastly, in "Mistaken Identity" a twin long thought dead commits a crime that his respectable brother is accused of.  Despite all evidence, Mrs. Paschal becomes convinced of the respectable brother's innocence.  Not only does she solve the mystery, she reunited the brothers, manages to avoid the twin's arrest, and sets him on the path to respectability.

"Incognita" is the name of a former actress who has seduced a wealthy young man and is draining him of his fortune.  They are not, as was assumed, living together, but they about to be married.  Mrs. Paschal is hired by the man's mother to convince him to break off relations with the girls.  Once again undercover, this time as a maid, Mrs. P. works to uncover Incognita's secrets.

Revelations of a Lady Detective was published as a cheap "yellowback," sold at railway stations to a public looking for a quick, thrilling, and often sensational read.  These yellowbacks were never meant to be lasting literature, but they did serve their  purpose.  The stories in this volume were surprisingly varied, and several of the episodes had more than their share of thrills.  We learn little of Mrs. Paschal.  She relies more on intuition than on ratiocination.  She is able to blend in at almost every level of society; she came from a good family but she worked as a barmaid in her early years.  She sympathizes with a number of those she must capture and, in at least one case, she helps him.  Mrs. Paschal is determined in her pursuit.  She believes in -- and is proud of -- her job.  (She often reveals herself as "a lady detective!" to the amazement of the culprit, who (depending on the culprit) either wonders at such a thing, or who has heard of the remarkable successes of lady detectives.

The stories are interesting while not being the best written.  They should be taken with full awareness of their limitations and of the prejudices of the time.  With that in mind, perhaps you will enjoy them as much as I did.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


It may be a stretch to call Robert Johnson's music unappreciated.  His influence has reached from the 1920s to today and will assuredly continue into the far future, yet I wonder how people actually listen to him today.

The myth that he sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads to become a great guitarist has become a part of American culture and can be found on the printed page, in film, and on television.  There's no doubt that Johnson was one of the best guitarists of all time.  Spin magazine ranked him number 1
out of 35 guitar gods.  Rolling Stone had him at number five out of a hundred guitar greats. was only slightly less enthusiastic, placing him ninth out of the 50 best guitarists.  Four of his songs was entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame list of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.  He's in the Grammy Hall of Fame.  The U.S. Post office even issued a commemorative stamp of Johnson.

Robert Johnson has been praised by Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, John Hammond, Elton John, and Rory Block, among others.  Bands that have been influenced by him include Fleetwood Mac, Rush, and Slipknot.

It's not just his skill on the guitar that has brought him praise.  His voice, singing style, and his ability to write lyrics place him as one of the most outstanding musicians of the Twentieth Century.  But just who was this man?

He was born, perhaps in 1911, in Hazlehurst, Mississippi.  His  mother married Charles Dodds, who has forced to flee the area by a white mob.  Robert and his mother moved to Memphis for two years before Robert was sent back to Mississippi to live with his father, who had changed his last name to Spencer.  Thus Robert was known at that time as Robert Spencer.  Sometime prior to 1929, he adopted the last name of his natural father, Noah Johnson.  He married a sixteen-year-old girl who soon died in childbirth; the story went around that this was Robert's punishment for playing secular music (i.e., the blues).

He became an itinerant musician, playing on street corners, dances, and juke joints throughout the Mississippi Delta and beyond.  The record is spotty, in part because he used so many aliases while traveling.  He was a friendly, talented man who loved to drink and mess around with women.  The enigma that was Robert Johnson died in 1938.  One story has it that he was poisoned by a jealous husband, another that he died from syphilis.  He was, it is believed, 27.  He was buried in an unmarked grave, the location of which is uncertain although at least three sites claim  to be his final resting place.

The link below takes you to his complete recordings -- 29 songs recorded in 1936 and 1937.


Bessie Smith.


Patti Abbott, our favorite Forgotten Books wrangler and all-around good person, recently issued another flash fiction challenge:  produce a story around the phrase "you can't lead a maybe life." For better or worse, here's mine.



                                "Invasion from Space"

CHAPTER 2:  Death at the Railway

The buxom nude redhead writhed as she lay prone against the Vice President's lap.  Chet's hand swung down once more to land on the girl's rounded buttocks with a resounding slap.

"Oh, you know what I like, Mr. Vice President,"  the girl moaned.  'Hit me again!  And again and again!"

Although this was a type of love play that Chet had hitherto not been familiar, and although it did very little to excite him, Chet was always the gentleman in his affairs with the ladies and tried his best to do their bidding.  Besides, the glowing redness of the girl's gluteus maximus was beginning to match the color of her long, flowing hair.  "I've always been a sucker for redheads," Chet thought wistfully.  Once again he raised his hand.

Suddenly the door to the room burst open and Binky -- Chet's best friend, confidante, and sharer of adventures -- rushed in.

"Chet!  The president has been shot!"

The words had an instant effect on the man.  He shot up, tumbling the young redhead to the floor.  There was only one thing the Vice president of the United States could say.

"Those sonofabitching Martians!"


There was a decided hush in the carriage as the horse clopped its way through the mid-morning streets toward the railway station, Chet and Binky both lost in their own thoughts. In the hot summer sun of Washington, few people ventured out in the streets of the sleepy capital city. 

It was Binky who interrupted the quiet pall.  "Are you sure it's the Martians, Chet?"

"Who else could it be? We've known that they have been here for at least a month, bent on the surreptitious takeover of our great country and, eventually, the entire planet.  They have become aware of the plans we were putting in place to foil their heinous plot, I'm sure of it!  This has to be a plot to stymie those plans, but those foolish fiends did not realize that it was I who made and was about to execute those plans, not the President.  This attempt on Jimbo's life was in vain.  Sad.  Sad."  The Vice President fought to keep back tears for his fallen friend and his iron resolution succeeded in that task.

"What ho, Binky!  We approach the railway station."

The Baltimore and Potomac Railway Station was crowded with curious passersby and with political hangers-on.  Chet strode up to a uniformed police officer who appeared to be charge of controlling the throng.  He was immediately recognized by his strong, intense eyes, well-known features, and his stride of authority.

"Mr. Vice President sir!"  The officer straightened to attention.

"How lies our fallen leader, good sir?"

"Alas, it is not well.  The President is not expected to last the evening.  He has been taken to the White House for treatment, but it does not bode well, not well at all."

The Vice President looked past the officer to the floor of the station where a bright red pool of a patriot's blood lay congealing.  "And what of the assassin?"

"Taken in charge, sir."

Chet nodded.  "Good.  Come, Binky, there is much for us to do!"  He turned around and strode back to the waiting carriage, Binky eagerly following him.


The anterooms of the White House were crowded with politicos awaiting news of the fallen President.  Chet pushed his way past them to a silent, weeping woman alone in a corner.  Crete Garfield was a woman of rather plain appearance, but Chet knew from experience that the bulky clothing that she wore hid a luscious body of want and desire.

 "Oh, Chet!" she cried, drawing him to her and pressing warm, full bosom to his chest -- an action that, in other circumstances, he would have looked upon with delight.  "I fear the worst and the doctors give little hope."

Even as those dire words were spoken, the door to the President's bedroom opened and chief physician Willie Bliss descended the stair.  The mutton-chopped medico went to the First Lady, brushing considerable amount of dandruff from his shoulders, and said, "The fever is high and we cannot locate the bullet that struck him and as we speak remains hidden in his body, poisoning him further.  I, myself, have tried to locate it, pushing my fingers deep into the wound to no avail."

At this news, Lucretia Garfield uttered a low moan and fell swooning to the floor.  It was only Chet's quick reactions that saved her.  He propped her up, holding her from behind, one hand firmly grasped on her full and rounded breast.

Doctor Bliss coughed.  "Well, I must get back to my patient."  With that, he inserted a finger in his nostril and, extracting a booger with the digit, turned and headed back to the stair.


The jail cells in the capital were a fitting place for the criminal dregs of mankind.  Dank, moldy, and ill-lit, with floors covered with vomit and other human excretions.  A gray and dirty rat scuttered into the shadows as Chet and Binky approached the cell that held Charles Gateau, the lunatic office-seeker who had shot the President.  The prisoner was seated on the floor in a dark corner of the cell amidst a puddle of what was surely urine.

"What have you to say, assassin?"  Chet's voice echoed through both the cell and the long, musty corridor.

Gateau remained silent, bright red eyes glaring at the Vice President, a heavy blue bottle fly droning near the fiend's head.  Suddenly a long, thin, forked tongue shot out some fifteen inched from Gateau's mouth, snared the insect, and drew it back in.

Chet turned to Binky.  "I've seen enough.  Martians, for sure."


"I'm in a quandary, Binky.  I am unsure where to turn next."  Chet and Binky had traveled back to New York and were now ensconced in Chet's finely furnished drawing room.

"You'll think of something, Chet.  You always do."  Binky had survived too many perilous adventures with his friend to think otherwise.

"I know, old comrade, but I wish Ellen were still with us," the Vice President sighed.  "Her advice was always so solid."  Chet's wife had passed away the before, one of the many victims of the Great Chicken Attack at Albany, a dark time, indeed for the country.  Because the event had to be hushed over, the story was given out that she -- as well as the seven hundred twenty other victims of the attack -- had passed away from pneumonia.  Chet pined for his wife, the only woman whose mind and soul attracted him as much as her body.

Chet's reverie was interrupted by the ringing of the bell at his door.

"I'll get it," Binky said, rising.

Chet heard his compadre open the door.  Then he heard a soft grunt and a thud, as if something heavy had struck the floor.

Chet raced to the door to see his friend laid on the floor, a sickly green cloud descending upon him.  Chet's eyes rose from the floor upward to see the shape therein.

"You!" he gasped.

The beautiful and voluptuous yellow woman entered, stepping over Binky's comatose body.
"Yes, it is I," the lilting voice replied.  "It has been too long since we last met, my lover.  And worry not about your friend.  He will recover in a few hours. I have no reason to see him dead."

"So, Fun Sin, what then brings you to my door?"

The beautiful Chinese replied, "My father, the honorable Dr. Fung, wishes to see you."  She drew a revolver from the folds of her dress and pointed it at Chet.  Chet wondered how a revolver could have been concealed in so tight an apparel of clothing.  "My father insists."

Dr. Fung was the leader of a vast criminal organization which had its fingers into every debased type of crime imaginable.  A great, yet mad, man of science, Fung's evil influence stretched to every corner of the globe and his megalomania had no equal that Chet knew of.  Chet and Dr. Fung had crossed swords several times in the past and, often with the help of the beautiful Fun Sin, was able to prevail.  The hapless girl, however, since fell victim to her father's mind control and has been rumored to have performed depravations that outdid those of her wicked father.

"Mayhap I would rather stay here and disappoint you father, Fun Sin."

A look of steel determination crossed the girl's lovely yellow face.  "You can't lead a maybe life, at least, not where my father is concerned.  The question is whether you will meet him with a bullet in your belly or without."

Chet controlled his emotions.  "Well, then, let us not keep your father waiting."

As the woman who was once one of his most demanding lovers pressed the gun to the small of his back.  Chet went out into the fog-enshrouded street to an unknown destiny.

                                     TO BE CONTINUED NEXT MONTH!



Chet and Binky must journey to the sweltering jungles of South America in search of the hidden treasure of the Gwanbeedit in their efforts to discover the link between the evil Dr. Fung and the Martian invasion.  Thrill as they meet a vociferous horde of army ants, a dangerous tribe of love hungry Amazons, deadly creatures unknown to man, and the pestilence that walks on six legs.  Even if they overcome all these odds, will Chet be able to handle

                             "The Breasts of the Snake Goddess"

Also in this issue, thrilling tales by Captain H. G. McIntyre, Charles Battles, Geoff. van Dine, and more of your favorite action writers.  Don't miss this exciting issue!

                                                     On Sale May 3rd!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Cisco Houston.


A farmer bought a new border collie to watch his herd of sheep.

At the end of the first day, the dog went up to the farmer and said, "Well, here they are, all safe and sound.  All forty of them."

"Wait," the farmer said.  "Forty?  I only had thirty-eight sheep."

The dog replied, "I rounded them up."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Fats Domino.


It's Earth Day!  So let's salute a movie with "Earth" in its title for this week's overlooked film.

Here's a cheapie directed by Roger Corman, written by Charles B. Griffith (Little Shop of Horrors, Death Race 2000) and Mark Hanna (The Amazing Colossal Man, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman), and starring Paul Birch (for the most part) and Beverly Garland.

Birch, who had a distinguished stage, film, and television career, got pissed off at director Corman and walked off the film before shooting ended.  Birch's remaining scenes were filmed with Lyle Latell as his stand-in.  Birch went on to play mystery author Erle Stanley Gardner in the television series Court of Last Resort, Mike Malone in the series Cannonball, and Captain Carpenter in 13 episodes of The Fugitive, among many other roles.  IMDB lists 111credits for Lyle Latell, including
playing Dick Tracy's partner Pat Patton in four films in that series.

Beverly Garland may best be remembered as Fred McMurray's wife in My Three Sons, as well as in recurring roles Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Seventh Heaven, Lois and Clark, Remington SteeleMary Hartman, Mary Hartman, The Bing Crosby Show, and Decoy.

Roger Corman, of course, is best remembered for being...Roger Corman.

Enjoy this cheesy tale of an alien out to get human blood to revive his race.

Monday, April 21, 2014


I have spent the last four days flat on my back, said part of my anatomy having decided to throw itself out.  My back has been giving me trouble since I was fifteen years old; when it acts up, I tend to list to one side, sidle like a crab, and fall down with great regularity -- but only when I'm able to stand at all, which is seldom and only with two canes propping me up.  Sometimes my muscles seize up and others the problem is with the spine itself (stenosis, arthritis, a fractured disk, and the tendency for the nerves within the spinal column to adhere to the inner walls of the spine).  No matter what the cause, it's never pretty so I treat my back kindly. No matter how kindly I treat my back, sometimes it just spits back out of pure meanness.

Anyway, in honor of my dorsal region, here's Lowell Fulson.


  • Edward Abbey, One Life at a Time, Please.  Twenty-one essays covering politics, travel, books and art, and nature love.
  • Orson Scott Card, Children of the Wind.  SF, the conclusion to the Ender Quartet.
  • Joseph A. Citro, Cursed in New England:  Stories of Damned Yankees.  Folklore.
  • "Lionel Derrick" (Mark K. Roberts, this time), The Penetrator #29:  Aryan Onslaught.  Men's action adventure.
  • Martin Edwards, The Coffin Trail.  A Lake District mystery.
  • Russell H. Greenan, The Secret Life of Algernon Pendleton.  A modern gothic-y, humorous mystery -- it's hard to classify Greenan.
  • James W. Hall, Hell's Bay.  A Thorn mystery.
  • Elizabeth Linington, The Anglophile.  A historical novel from a writer better known for her mysteries.
  • Ruth Manning-Sanders, A Book of Witches.  Juvenile collection of twelve retold folk tales.
  • Jack Pearl, Stockade.  Novel of life in an army prison stockade.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Carly and Lucy Simon


My neighbor was too busy to handle some of the household chores so he called the local handyman, "Paint my porch and I'll give you a hundred dollars."  A while later, the handyman knocked on the door and told my neighbor, "It's all done.  And, by the way, it was a Mercedes."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Penniman is in the house.


Every year I promise to get my taxes done early.   Every year I put it off and off and off.  Procrastination, thy name is Jerry!  Guess when I end up doing my taxes every year?

So after this morning's rasslin' match with Form 1040 -- please note I did them this morning rather than this evening, so maybe I'm getting better -- anyway, I was in the mood for some comedy and  one of my go-to people for comedy is Buster Keaton.

The Cameraman was Keaton's first film under contract for MGM.  Co-starring with Keaton is the lovely Marceline Day.  Buster Keaton's brother and sister can be seen as uncredited extras in the swimming pool.

Enjoy, but only after you've done your taxes.

Monday, April 14, 2014


The Holy Modal Rounders


  • Joan Hess, A Conventional Corpse.  A Claire Malloy mystery.
  • "Barbara Michaels" (Barbara Mertz), Witch.  Romantic Suspense.
  • Alexander McCall Smith, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive and The Right Attitude to Rain.  The first is a Mma Ramotswe novel; the second, an Isobel Dalhousie novel.
  • Jon Tuska, editor, Western Stories:  A Chronological Anthology.  Sixteen stories, from Owen Wister (1892) to Louis L'Amour (1959).  Originally published as The Western Story:  A Chronological Treasury.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


R.IP., Jesse Winchester.


There are times I'm glad I was not a kid in 1936, and there are times I wish I were.  This, the first issue of The Comics Magazine, makes me hover between the two positions.  Here are stories by Seigel & Schuster, Sheldon Mayer, and Walt Kelly, along with enough jingoistic folderol to sink a battleship.

The Comics Magazine was evidently the first title in the Centaur press line of early comic books.  Six months later, the magazine introduced the first costumed superhero in comic books, George Brenner's The Clock.  The Comics Magazine had a kitchen sink editorial philosophy:  fill the magazine with everything but the kitchen sink -- one shots, text stories, articles, and serialized tales were shoved in willy-nilly.  Some of the serialized stories are only two pages long -- really too short to make a kid willing to wait a full month for the next episode, IMHO.

A word of warning.  No, not about the political incorrectness rampant through this issue -- that's a given.  This warning is about the readability of the issue:  the color justification is all off-whack, making several stories difficult to read.  Also, in at least one case, the pages are reversed, giving us the end before the beginning.   There may also be a missing page (the count doesn't add up).  Oh. well, on to the issue.

  • The first story is a two-pager featuring "Chikko Chakko," an offensively stereotypical Hispanic who has a fighting rooster.  It's supposed to be funny.  It isn't.
  • Next is a two-pager by Siegel and Shuster featuring "Dr. Mystic," the occult detective who battles the supernatural and is able to grow to tremendous heights, become transparent, and (it seems) to fly.  Summoned by his friend Zator to come to the aid of "The Seven" (some mystic group in India -- not explained), Mystic travels through the dimension, sees a naked lady with a big rack in trouble, is attacked by monsters summoned by Koth, and...and nothing.  To be continued.
  • Then we meet "Koko," an offensively drawn and mischievous jungle prince, who brags about his bravery until a tiger shows up.  Two pages and we are left hanging; this may be where the missing pages should be.  Again, this is supposed to be funny.
  • "Dickie Duck," a "funny animal" in a world of kids takes two pages to settle a bully's hash.  Sheesh, did kids 78 years ago really have no sense of humor?
  • "Skinny Shaner" is a fat kid who lives to eat, sort of a Y-chromosome precursor to Harvey Comics' Little Lotta.  'Nuf said.  Another two pages wasted.
  • "Big Sid" is a large, strong boy with a small, weak brain.  I have been reading a lot of Robert W. Howard's Sailor Steve Costigan and Breckinridge Elkins stories lately and these two pages would fit in nicely with them.
  • "Captain Bill of the Rangers" tries to track down the kidnappers of a brother and sister in this realistically drawn story by W. M. Allison.  Fur pages into the story we find we have to wait a month before we know whether Captain Bill will catch up with the kidnappers.
  • A four-page text "action detective" story, "Behind the Curtain" by Wallace Kirk is next:  "Grim Tragedy Lurked in the Shadows of the Stage Setting and the Law Rushed Detective Larry Speed to Solve the Dark Mystery That Dropped the Curtain on a Baffling Crimson Terror."  Wallace Kirk is also credited in a few early DC comics -- beyond that, I've got nothing, but we are told that Kirk will have a dog story in the next issue.
  • Tom Cooper's dim-witted "Cap'n Tripe" takes two pages go against a rotten piece of pork in the next unfunny sequence.
  • Then we're back to racial stereotypes with "Porkchops 'n' Gravy," two layabout Blacks, shufflin' their way into the piano moving business.  Sweet Jesus, they're even eating watermelon.  This two-pager would have gone over well at a Klan meeting.
  • "Lefty Peters" is a kid who draws his grandfather's lies adventures in Tom McNamara's "My Grandpa."  This tale is about a wild west bank robber whom Grandpa catches by tripping him over the "state line."  Three pages, somewhat imaginative.
  • Professor Phillip S. Pace has a page and a half article about stamp collecting; the article first appeared in part in a stamp collecting catalog.
  • Another page and a half is taken by book reviews written by Frances Hope.  Books covered are Heroes of the Shoals, stories of the Coast Guard by Allen Chaffee, Farm Yard Puppies, cute pictures and poems by Cecil Alden, One Day with Tuktu:  An Eskimo Boy by Armstrong Sperry, probably the one book reviewed worth reading, The Loyal Traitor ("There is considerable history in this story, and the beautiful English in which it is written should prove to be a fine example to all boys and girls who are not as careful as they might be of the way in which they speak"), a "girl detective" story by Helen E. Waite, Horns of Gur, a tale of a white boy captured by Indians, by Maribelle Cormack and William P. Alexander, and Nicodemus and His Gran'Pappy, one of a series about a "little black boy who lives in the south" from Inez Hogan.  These reviews would put the average kid off of reading for the rest of his or her life.
  • The centerpiece of the comic book is "Ridin' Point," a four-color two-page drawing by W. M. Allison.  The color justification here is almost good.
  • The next page tells kids how to perform the disappearing coin trick.  The inference is that "The Magic Hand" by "Presto" Merritt will be a regular column.
  • Back to the disappearing coin trick is the subscribe-to-our-comic-book trick.  You can get a subscription for yourself, a friend, a relative,,,it doesn't matter, just send us money.
  • There's also a half-page spread (with photo) of Walter Tetley (in a kilt), "one of the few really great child actors."
  • A two-page, to be continued, "true" story about the childhood of Major Frederick Lord is next.  Oh, will the gibes of childhood bullies be avenged by a life well-lived?  we can only wait.
  • Another two-page, to be continued story follows about "Skipper Ham Shanks" and his pal Poss Fash in the South Sea Islands.  Supposedly humorous, this tale has the twosome out to recover a chest full of sunken gold.
  • "Evidence Eddy" is a humorous (?) detective who is assisted by his man Watchem in a case of blackmail against Sir Throttlebottom.  Again, we leave the story for a month after two pages: Watchem has just been shot in the rear end by an arrow with a threatening note.  Will he have to keep the arrow imbedded in his butt for a full month?
  • A "funny animal" one-pager featuring Alfy Elephant is followed by a pointless one-pager featuring kids "Shocky Plus Gus," itself followed by a one-page lesson in cartooning.  then there's a crossword puzzle page and a two page article about aviation -- the first in a series -- by Captain Raymond Clark.
  • Adventurers Bill Horton and Jake Blythe head to "The Black Lagoon" of Crater Island to dive for pearls.  Unfortunately, the lagoon and the pearls are guarded by a monster octopus.  Also unfortunately, we go four pages into the story without meeting the octopus while meeting the dreaded "to be continued" notice.
  • "Stubbie" is an effete-looking boy who lives with his grandmother.  When their home is about to be foreclosed for back taxes, this plucky little girlie-boy grabs his shoeshine kit and goes out into the world, determined to earn the needed money and save their home.  Another two pages then wait until next month story.
  • Sheldon Mayer's "The Strange Adventure of Mr. Weed" introduces the time-travelling adventurer who goes a hundred years into the past.  I really wish they had given this one more than two  time he tries to pages before continuing the story.
  • Next up are two one-pagers about "Freddy Bell (He Means Well)," a kid who screws up every time he tries to do a good deed.  Better than most of the "funny" stories in this issue.
  • "Spunk Hazard" needs rent money and his manager inks a deal to net him a hundred bucks; all Spunk has to do is parachute off the Empire State Building.  Predicable, not too offensive, and taking up another two pages.
  • The link has reversed the two pages of Sheldon Mayer's continued story "J. Worthington Blimp, Esq."  As with the previous story by Mayer, this one was cut off way too early.
  • Two one-pagers about "Prof. Nertz," who can invent just about anything, follow.  Harmless and not too funny.
  • Next up:  Walt Kelly!  Sadly, there are only four panels (two-thirds of a page) of "Back to Nature with Cannonball Jones."  But those four panels are glorious.
  • The remainder of the page has a one-liner joke cartoon, "Time Waits for No Man."  Ho-hum.
  • And that's it, except for an ad for Hugo Gernsback's Science and Mechanics magazine and a back cover ad for a noiseless portable typewriter for ten cents a day.
So, the majority of this comic book is either offensive or bland, but there are a few glittering jewels here.  You pays your money -- ten cents -- and you takes your choice.  (No, you actually have to pay ten cents -- that dime could go to your daily typewriter payment -- all you have to do is click on the link.)

Friday, April 11, 2014


Fifty years ago today, we lost Hannes Bok.  His lush art style, moving from the highly romantic to the highly grotesque, was derived from his friend Maxfield Parrish and earned Bok an early Hugo award for his cover drawings.  His few prose writings were influenced by A. Merritt.

Bok was a strange fellow who became more and more reclusive in his later life.  He died, at age 49, from a heart attack or, perhaps, as Forrest J. Ackerman maintained, from starvation.

The link will take you some of his artwork.  (Ignore the dates it attributes to Bok; I don't know where the heck those came from.)  Gorgeous and imaginative work from a genius who died far too young.



Haunting...from Phil Coulter.


The Darings of the Red Rose by Margery Allingham (1995)

The third book published by Crippen & Landru, The Darings of the Red Rose collects tales first published anonymously in the British magazine Weekly Welcome over a period of eight weeks in 1930.  To call these early stories slap-dash may not be totally accurate, but they were written at a rapid pace by a young writer just beginning to hone her craft, have written mainly stories adapted from films of the time in Girl's Cinema.  This is a pre-Campion Allingham, although there are hints of the early Albert Campion scattered throughout the stories.  (Albert Campion, over his long career, evolved from a slightly shady, picaresque well-born adventurer into a mature, into a mature and responsible detective -- only Ellery Queen (the detective) came close to having as many shifts of changing persona, methinks.)

The Red Rose is the name that Scotland Yard has given to the daring Robin Hoodish adventuress Betty Connelly.  Born to wealth, she was driven to poverty, along with her entire home town, by the barely legal (and highly immoral) machinations of a syndicate of eight financiers.  Luckier than her other townspeople, Betty was raised from her enforced poverty back to wealth by a surprise inheritance.  Now rich and influential, Betty has vowed to exact financial revenge on each of the eight financiers.  All else -- including her romance with Tommy Kempis, the son of an earl and a man with connections to Scotland Yard (whether Tommy is an amateur dabbler, a consultant, or a true detective is unclear) -- must take a back seat to Betty's plans for revenge.

Handsome Tommy is a bit of a dim bulb, as is just about everyone in the stories.  In one story, Tommy does not know if the Red Rose is a man or a woman, later he knows it is a woman, and even later he refers to the Red Rose as a man.  Betty never really declares her love for Tommy, although she is terribly "fond" of him and it is assumed they will get married after the eight men get theirs.

The characters are stock, cut from cardboard.  The capers are laughable.  The villains are as ugly as they are evil.  Coincidences abound.  Crucial details are never explained.  Inconsistencies weave their way through the tales like a drunken bumble bee.  None of this matters.  Taking these stories at face value is all that Allingham's readers in Weekly Welcome needed:  a beautiful and romantic heroine, unjustly wronged, braves a man's world to set things right.

What is interesting is that the Red Rose gets money from her eight victims in eight different ways and manages to funnel the money back to the impoverished residents of Wellside (her home town) in as many different ways.

The Darings of the Red Rose provides an interesting look at Allingham's early career (her first novel -- a non-Campion that she later managed to keep from being reprinted during her lifetime -- was published the same year), but I really think this one is best left for Allingham completists.

(For those who do wish to read the book, I suggest they also read Grant Allen's much earlier [1897] collection An African Millionaire, which shows how a "biter-bit" story should be written.)

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Yo-Yo Ma.

I do love a cello.


I was a kid when I first saw anything by Heinrich Kley -- Bantam Book paperbacks covers some of Ray Bradbury's and Charles Beaumont's collections.  Wow.  Several years later I picked up the two Dover collections of his drawings.  Double wow.

The link takes you to 33 of his witty, subversive pen and ink drawings.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Dave Lamb and MorganLee Swain performing as Brown Bird:  Fingers to the Bone:


Josh White.

And, passing it on, Josh White, Jr.  (With apologies for the quality of the video.)


We lost Mickey Rooney this week.  He was a performer for 92 of his 93 years.  Beginning at age six or seven, he starred in 78 "Mickie McGuire" films, based on the Toonerville Trolley comic strip.  and, of course, we all remember him as Andy Hardy or from working with Judy Garland.  By the time he was 19, Mickey was the biggest movie star in the world.  From Boys Town and Young Tom Edison to The Black Stallion and Night at the Museum, he always delivered the goods.  Ever the hoofer, he wowed everyone on stage with Ann Miller in Sugar Babies

For me, though, one of his most memorable performances was in the atrocious1960 film Platinum High School, in which he played a tough ex-marine investigating his son's death at a posh military academy.  I couldn't find that movie online (although there were trailers and clips of Conway Twitty singing the title song), so let me present 1950's Quicksand, starring Rooney, Jeanne Cagney, and Peter Lorre.  (Look closely and you'll see future Mouseketeer leader Jimmy Dodd as "Buzz.")  Written by Robert Smith (who also wrote Platinum High School) and directed by Irving Pichel (The Most Dangerous Game, Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid, and Destination Moon, among others), Quicksand is a neat little noir and well worth your attention.


And, so long, Mickey.

Monday, April 7, 2014


Stan Rogers.


  •  Dan Abnett, The Horus HeresyHorus Rising and The Horus Heresy:  Legion.  Gaming (Warhammer 40,000) tie-in novels.
  • Aaron Allston, Doc Sidhe.  Pulp hero fantasy.
  • Richard Awlinson - Waterdeep.  Gaming (Forgotten Realms) tie-in novel; Book Three of the Avatar Trilogy.
  • John Barnes, In the Hall of the Martian King.  SF novel featuring 36th century secret agent Jak Jinnaka. 
  • Linda Barnes, Heart of the World. A Carlotta Carlyle mystery.  I haven't read a Carlotta Carlyle book in several years; maybe it's time to get back.
  • Neal Barrett Jr. - Stress Pattern.  SF.  Barrett will be missed.
  • Michael Brian Bendis - Sam and Twitch, Book One:  Udaku.  Graphic novel.  Pencils by Angel Medina.
  • Lillian Jackson Braun, The Cat Who Talked Turkey.  Jim Qwilleran and his cats Koko and YumYum take on another mystery.  I have always found this series to be a little too twee and best taken in small doses.  This is an uncorrected proof.
  • Martin Caidin, The Ragged Rugged Warriors.  The story of the early air war with Japan.
  • John Clark, Nobody's Angel.  Mystery from Hard Case Crime.  Used Hard Case books are pretty rare in my area.  I guess a lot of people like to hold onto them, not that I blame them.
  • David Cook, Soldiers of Ice.  Gaming (Forgotten Realms) tie-in novel in the Harpers series.
  • Peter Crowther, editor, Mars Probes.  SF anthology with 17 stories.
  • Richard D'Agostino, Rite of Passage.  Thriller.
  • William C. Dietz, Legion of the Damned.  Military SF.
  • Alan Dean Foster, Transformers:  Ghosts of Yesterday.  A prequel to the Transformers film, "based on a story by David Cian."
  • Alan Furst, Mission to Paris.  Historical spy-guy novel from one of the best in the business.
  • Jon Guenther, ghost writer, Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan:  Diplomacy Directive.  Men's adult action novel stemming from the Executioner series.
  • Barb & J.C. Hendee, Dhampir.  Vampire fantasy.
  • Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson, Dune:  House Atreides.  Sf, a prequel to Frank Herbert's Dune.
  • Victoria Holt, Bride of Pendorric and The Shadow of the Lynx.  Romantic suspense.
  • Rich Horton, editor, Fantasy:  The Best of the Year, 2008 Edition.  Nineteen stories from 2007.
  • Diana Wynne Jones, The Magicians of Caprona.  YA fantasy in the world of Chrestomanci.
  • Mercedes Lackey, The River's Gift.  Fantasy novella.
  • Richard Laymon, Blood Games.  Horror.
  • Stan Lee, editor, The Ultimate Spider-Man.  Anthology with a dozen stories about the comic book superhero.
  • Tanith Lee, A Bed of Earth (The Gravedigger's Tale).  Fantasy, Book III of the Secret
    Books of Venus.
  • James Lowder, The Ring of Winter.  Gaming (Forgotten Realms) tie-in novel in the Harpers series.
  • Brian Lumley, Necroscope:  Avengers.  Horror, the thirteenth book in the series.
  • William P. McGivern, Savage Streets.  Crime.
  • Juliet E. McKenna, The Gambler's Fortune.  Fantasy in the Einarinn series.
  • Mike Moscoe, The First Casualty.  Military SF.
  • Kate Mosse, Sepulchre.  Thriller.
  • Ogden Nash, The Pocket Book of Ogden Nash.  Every once in a while you need to escape into Nash's poems.  This book was my introduction to Ogden Nash, way back in junior high.  Originally published as Verses from 1929 On.  (And, no, I was not in junior high in 1929.  Sheesh, how old do you think I am?)
  •  Kate Novak & Jeff Grubb, Song of the Saurials.  Gaming (Forgotten Realms) tie-in novel, Book Three of the Finder's Stone Trilogy.
  • Norman Partridge, Dark Harvest.  Horror with kick-butt cover art by Jon Foster.
  • Steve Perry, Spindoc.  SF murder mystery.
  • Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Icefire.  Techno-thriller.
  • "Mike Shepherd" (Mike Moscoe), Kris Longknife:  Defiant.  Military SF, the third (I think) in the series.
  • "Ian Slater," Showdown:  USA vs. Militia.  Military thriller.
  • Alexander McCall Smith, La's Orchestra Saves the World.  Novel about life in England during WWII.
  • Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, The Hand of Chaos.  Fantasy in the Death Gate series
  • Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman and others, The War of the Lance -- Tales II Trilogy, Volume Three.  Gaming (DragonLance) tie-in anthology with eleven stories.  Is there a more rambling, over-burdened book title around?
  • Laurence Yep, Dragon of the Lost Sea.  Juvenile fantasy.
  • Jack Zipes, adapter (from the Richard Burton translation), The Arabian Nights, Volume II.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Featuring two stories about brave Indians.  In the first, Swift Arrow works to keep a treaty with the white man and, in the second, Lone Eagle battles a traitor.  Also included is a western mystery and a modern western in which the ghost of a sheriff works for justice.  Also included in this 36-page comic are ten pages of ads, including (Evan Lewis, take note) one for 100 TOY SOLDIERS ( a base canard because only 50 are military personnel; the remaining 50 are planes, tanks, jeeps, ships, and cannons -- and somebody should have told the Modern Toy company that sailors, Waves, and Wacs are not considered soldiers).

And, in another ad, Yogi Berra shills for Cloverine Brand Salve, promising kids great prizes for selling the stuff.  I wonder if anyone actually sold enough salve to win the real live pony?

I read a lot of comics as a kid (never this one), but the things I remember most are all those neat ads aimed at gullible kids.  No ads for those neat X-ray glasses in this issue, though.



Recently we learned that Vladimir Putin dissed Dubya's dog Barney, saying that his (Putin's) dog was "bigger, stronger, and faster."  So, Vlad, this one is for you.

Friday, April 4, 2014


The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.


Strange Gateways by E. Hoffman Price (1967)

Price (1898-1988) was a diversified pulp writer (he called himself a "fictioneer") who published well over 400 short stories and novelets in his long career, as well as eight novels, 13 serialized novels, and many articles.  A one-time professional soldier, Price was an orientalist and practicing Buddhist, as well as a champion fencer and boxer.  He was the only pulp writer to have met Robert E. Howard in person, and the one to have met Howard, Lovecraft (with whom he collaborated), and Clark Ashton Smith -- the great Weird Tales triumvirate -- face to face.  Jack Williamson once wrote that Price was a "real live soldier of fortune."

Strange Gateways was Price's first collection -- one of two published in his lifetime -- was the 94th publication from the legendary Arkham House and contained a dozen stories from the pulps and the digests from 1924 to 1953:
  • "The Fire and the Flesh" (Fantastic Universe, June-July 1953) - Wade Harmon has developed a new type of rice which he is growing on a volcanic island.  The volcano is becoming active and , as a result, the crop is failing.  The locals tell him a gift will appease the volcano.  He doubts them until he meets a beautiful girl whom no one else has ever seen.  She is a goddess, an incarnation of the volcano itself.  And volcanos can become jealous.
  • "Graven Image" (Adventure, September 1964) - A missionary has spent 35 years in a Chinese village and has never converted a single native.  When the Japanese invade the area, he must choose between the Christian god and the ancient Chinese gods.
  • "The Stranger from Kurdistan" (Weird Tales, July 1925) - A stranger attends a Black Mass and finds it unusual for its type.  Considered one of the author's best stories and was quite controversial when first published.
  • "The Rajah's Gift" (Weird Tales, January 1925) - A rajah decides to bestow a gift upon his most faithful servant and the servant choses one that most likely will be deadly.
  • "The Girl from Samarcand" (Weird Tales, May 29) - A tale of obsession, reincarnation, and oriental rugs.
  • "Tarbis of the Lake" (Weird Tales, February 1934) - Could the beautiful Tarbis really be centuries old?
  • "Bones for China" (copyright page does not note original publication, but it came from Speed Adventure Stories, July 1945) - An old man returns his grandfather's bones to his hometown during the Japanese invasion.
  • "Well of the Angels" (Unknown, May 1940) - An oil executive in Mosul resorts to magic in order to get out of a five-year contract.
  • "Strange Gateway" (Unknown, April 1939) -  Price sets this and the next two stories in America, in this case to Arizona.  Gateways closed to normal senses may be opened through fasting, fever, or drugs.  For the protagonist in this story, the gateway was opened by sheer fatigue.  Bill has been driving for three days in order to get some money owed to him by a prospecting friend in Arizona -- money urgently needed for his brother's medical expenses -- and now finds himself embroiled in murder, treachery, and astral projection.
  • "Apprentice Magician" (Weird Tales, August 1939; also appeared in Tiger Girl, a 36-page, two-story pamphlet with the title story by Jack Williamson, published in the "American fiction" series by Utopian Publications [England] in 1945) - Panther Buckner leaves Georgia to live with his great-uncle Simon in California in hopes that he might become the old man's heir.  Buckner (a literary cousin to Price's Simon Grimes and to Robert Howard's Pike Bearfield and Breckinridge Elkins) learns that his uncle is a master magician and is drafted into becoming his apprentice.  Then the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet takes a liking to our hero.  An enjoyable and humorous story.
  • "One More River" (Strange Tales, February 1941) - Hank Tate, on learning an old friend is dying, puts aside a fifty-year feud and starts to walk through the California wilds to share one last drink with him.  the only thing that stands between him and reconciliation is a fierce blizzard.
  • "Pale Hands" (The Magic Carpet, October 1933) - Davis Lawton learns that he will be arrested by French officials the next morning for conspiring with a Moroccan rebel.  Facing either Devil's Island or a firing squad, he prepares to leave the country, but first he must determine who betrayed him to the Surete Generale.  For this he uses the Gray Goddess, his term for the absinthe that seems to heighten his awareness,
All in all, a good selection of Price's weird and oriental stories.  Recommended.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Yma Sumac was a popular Peruvian singer noted for her range of over four octaves (sometimes she claimed five octaves).  During the Fifties, publicists decided to cloak her in mystery, claiming that she might be Incan princess, a direct descendent of the last Incan king, or she might be a Brooklyn housewife whose real name was Amy Camus.  Neither claim was true.


My daughter has been studying to be a sign language interpreter.  She has worked at a large variety of events the past few months, but I don't think she has ever signed a Betty Boop cartoon.

Hope she pays attention to this one.  (You never know when opportunity will knock, Christina.)

From 1935 and voiced (for those who do not need the signing) by Mae Questel.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Bessie Smith.


The patient said, "Doc, I can't stop singing 'The Green, Green Grass of Home.'"

"Well, it sounds like you have a bad case of Tom Jones Syndrome."

"Is it common?"

The doctor said, "It's not unusual."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Well, today's the day for it, right?


Judge Roy Bean,  Episode 31:  "Deliver the Body" (1956)

I was a moderate fanboy of this series, but always wondered what the deal was with Bean's fascination with Lily Langtry.

Edgar Buchanan starred as the storekeeper turned justice of the peace who became "The Law West of the Pecos."  Jackie Laughery was the eye candy of the series, playing Roy Bean's niece Letty (Eve Brent had the role for one episode); Laughery had been crowned as the first Miss USA in 1952 and, shortly after the series ended, became the third Mrs. Jack Webb.  Jack Buetel, who had played Billy the Kid opposite Jan Russell in The Outlaw, was Deputy Jeff Taggert.  A number of familiar television and movie faces showed up in Langtry, Texas during the show's 39 episodes, including X Brands (Pahoo-Ka-Ta-Wah from Yancy Derringer) for sixteen episodes as Ben Logan, Lash Larue for fours turns, once as gunfighter John Wesley Harding, Tristram Coffin, Myron Healey, Sammee Tong, and Gloria Winters (Penny from Sky King).

Unlike many TV westerns of the time, this one was shot in color.

As far as I can tell, Lily Langtry never appeared as a character in the series.  (In real life, the actress did visit Langtry, Texas -- but only after Roy Bean had died.  Ah, well.)

"Deliver the Body" was directed by Nate Watt, one of nine episodes in the series he helmed.

The script was written by Buckley Arpell, a television writer who did not work on every western series going, although it looked as if he sure did try:  his credits include Rawhide, Laramie, Cheyenne, Sugarfoot, Death Valley Days, The Cisco Kid, Have Gun, Will Travel, Gene Autry, Cowboy G-Man, and Range Rider.