Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, May 31, 2014


The Seekers.


The Rover was a British boys' story magazine that ran from 1922 to 1973.  It was one of a number of boys' magazines published by D. C. Thomson known as "Tuppenny Bloods" because of the two pence price of each issue.  The Rover was also one of the "Big Five" boys' papers from Thomson; the others were Adventure, Skipper, Hotspur, and The Wizard. Television eventually drew many boys from the story papers and, by 1961, The Rover absorbed Adventure, and by 1963, The WizardThe Rover limped along for another decade before closing its doors.

Here's the October 29, 1927 issue:

Friday, May 30, 2014


                               A Bit of Doggerel To Celebrate Hal Clement's 92 Birthday

Barlenna captained the Bree
On a world with great gravitee;
He trekked cross his globe
To recover a probe
-- An Astounding achievement, you see.


Just because today is Wyonna's 50th birthday.


Thean Tim thought Books of Magic 4:  Consequences by Carla Jablonski (2003)

When you find the decapitated head of the imaginary friend you had when you were five...well, you know you're going to have a difficult day.

Let's back up a bit and talk about The Books of Magic. Back in 1998,Neil Gaiman received a call from Karen Berger, an editor for DC Comics; she wanted him to write a comic about the history of magic in the DC Comics universe.  "Sort of a who's Who, but with a story?"  Gaiman at first declined, but the idea gnawed at him until he relented.  Teaming with artist John Bolton, he produced the first four volumes of The Books of Magic comics featuring 13-year-old Timothy Hunter.

Young Tim receives a visit from a group of people he calls The Trenchcoat Brigade, among them were John Constantine and the magician Zatanna.  They inform Tim that he is (or, at least, has the power to be) the most powerful magician ever.  They take him to the past where he saw Atlantis sink, and across the Atlantic to America, to the Land of Faerie, and to the end of eternity.  Back in London, young Tim is left to digest all of this.  Being the most powerful magician ever might have been something cool except poor Tim  doesn't know how to perform magic, and when he does, it's by accident and doesn't turn out exactly as he wants.  The Books of Magic a monthly title for DC and the writing duties were taken over by John Ney Reiber.  In 2002, Carla Jablonski began writing YA novels based on the comic book.Consequences was the fourth in the series and was based on The Books of Magic:  Summonings, a story serialized in 1994 and 1995.

By this time, Tim has learned that his real father is Tamlin, the Falconer of Queen Titania of Faerie and who had sacrificed himself to save Tim from Queen Titania.  (The man who had raised Tim and whom he had thought of as father had married Tim's mother while she was pregnant, knowing that he was not the child's father.  Tim's mother had died in an automobile accident tht has also taken his father's arm.)  Tim also has met Molly O'Reilly, a fearless girl who has become his best (actually, only) friend.  Tim vaguely realizes his feelings about Mollie may go beyond friendship -- something to do with hormones or something, I guess.

Anyway, Mollie is his best friend and Tim feels guilty about not telling her that he is a magician.  He is determined to finally tell her the truth when he stumbles on the severed head of his childhood imaginary friend.  He soon realizes that thoughts have consequences and that, since he learned about his powers, his thoughts that he had when he was very young have taken on a reality of their own.  Tim's last adventure had been in Free Country, a land where unwanted children could live safely forever as children.  (Any relation to Never Never Land is intentional.)  Young teen Marya had decided that she did not want to be a child forever so she snuck along as Tim left Free Country.  Marya's friend Daniel thinks that Tim had seduced Marya and fostered a strong hatred toward Tim.  Daniel vows to leave Free Country, find Tim, and destroy him.

Meanwhile in Faerie, King Auberon is bored and decides to visit the world of the humans for a bit of adventure.  And, in the sewers of London, a clockwork Fagin-like character named Slaggingham is using magic to suck the souls from his minions.  And a unicorn is roaming about London.  And Awn the Blink is busy making things not work.  And Queen Titania really, really wants to kill Tim.  And Marya is busy taking dance lessons.  And Daniel has arrived in a choking dust cloud made of his rage and anger.

And all Tim wants to do is have an ice cream with Mollie.

A fun book and a fun series.  I'm going to have to read the others.

(And by the way, if you need a really neat steampunk swear, there's one in the book:  "Tippy-tappy torque wrench!"  Feel free to use it whenever you are mad or frustrated.)

Thursday, May 29, 2014


From February 26, 1944, here's George Harmon Coxe's famous detective Flashgun Casey in "The Clue in the Clouds."  Frank Lovejoy was originally cast as Jack "Flash" Casey, but it was Jim Backus who originated the role on CBS radio.  Alas, Backus was Magooed out by the sixth episode to be replaced by Staats Cotsworth and shortly after "The Clue in the Clouds" aired, Alice Reinhart replaced Jone Allison as Ann Williams ( a role also played at one time by Betty Furness).  John Gibson played comic relief Ethelbert, the bartender at The Blue Note Cafe.  Scripts in 1944 were handled by Charles Holden.


Not really overlooked, but sometimes overshadowed in the British Invasion.  Here's a dozen blasts from the past.


Can't Nobody Love You

She's Not There

Brief Candles

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

Tell Her No

The Time of the Season

Gotta Get a Hold of Myself


Hung Up on a Dream

I Love You

The Look of Love

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Herb Jeffries, R. I. P.


The postman dropped an envelope through my mail slot yesterday.  It said "DO NOT BEND."  I still haven't figured out how to get it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Ramblin' Jack Elliot and Tom Russell.


Time was you couldn't swing a cat without hitting an Edgar Wallace book.  Wallace (1875-1932) wrote over 170 novels, 975 short stories, and 18 stage plays, as well as a boatload of journalisn, screenplays, poetry, and non-fiction.  His publisher once claimed that fully one quarter of all books read in England were written by Wallace -- a claim that might well be true.  He created The Four Just Men, Sanders of the River, Mr. J. G. Reeder, and wrote (shortly before his death) the first draft of the script for King Kong.  Wallace was once dubbed the most popular thriller writer of the Twentieth Century.

That was then.

Today few people remember him.  From 1959 to 1972, Germany's motion picture industry produced almost three dozen very popular "krimis" based on Wallace's thrillers, many of which are available on-line but -- alas -- are not translated or subtitled.  From 1960 through 1965, Britain produced an amazing 42 films in its Edgar Wallace Mysteries series.  To date, over 160 films have been made based on Wallace's work.

One of those films is 1940's The Case of the Frightened Lady, based on Wallace's 1931 stage play which, in turn, he novelized in 1933.  It's a pretty good flick.


Monday, May 26, 2014


My Memorial Day go to song, this time by JohnMcDermott.


  • Iain M. Banks, The State of the Art.  SF collection of eight stories.
  • John Barnes, A Princess of the Aerie.  A Jak Jinnaka SF novel.
  • "Eluki bes Shahar" (Rosemary Edghill), Archangel Blues.  SF, third in the Hellflower series.
  • Frank  Bonham, Bold Passage.  Western.
  • Ben Bova, Peacekeepers.  SF.
  • C. J. Box, Savage Run.  A Joe Pickett mystery.
  • Marianne Carus, editor, 13 Scary Ghost Stories.  YA anthology with 13 stories.
  • Richard E. Clear, Old Magazines. Value guide listing magazines from Abbott's U.S. Monthly (1883) to Zoom (1931), and everything in between.  Second edition.   A fun book. Great pictures.
  • Michael Connelly, Crime Beat: A Decade of Covering Cops and Killers.  Nonfiction, 22 articles.  Originally published as Crime Beat:  Selected Journalism 1984-1992.
  • John Connolly, The Wrath of Angels.  A Charlie Parker mystery.
  • Greg Cox, Lost and Found.  Comic book tie-in novel, the first book in the X-Men/Avengers crossover Gamma Quest trilogy.
  • "Michael Cross" (Michael Cecilione), Merciless.  Thriller.
  • Jon DeCles, The Particolored Unicorn.  Fantasy.
  • Paul Doherty, The Horus Killings.  Historical mystery set in ancient Egypt.
  • Esther Friesner, Gnome Man's Land.  Humorous fantasy, the first in a series.
  • Harry Harrison & Robert Sheckley, Bill the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Bottled Brains.  SF.
  • Guy Gavriel Kay, A Song for Arbonne.  Fantasy.
  • Nancy Kress, Oaths and Miracles. SF thriller, the first featuring FBI agent Robert Cavanaugh.
  • Dennis Lehane, The Given Day, a crime novel, and Moonlight Mile and Sacred, Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro mysteries.
  • Gary Lovisi, Collectible Paperback Price Guide.  From 2008, another fun book with lots of great photos.
  • Patricia J. MacDonald, Little Sister.  Horror.
  • Charles Mackay, LL.D., Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.  Nonfiction, a reprint of the 1852 second edition.
  • Cynthia Manson & Charles Ardai, editors, Aliens & UFO's.  SF anthology with 19 stories from IASF and Analog.
  • Vonda McIntyre, The Crystal Star.  Motion picture (Star Wars) tie-in novel.
  • Adrian McKinty, Hidden River.  Crime novel.
  • Jon F. Merz, The Fixer.  Vampire novel.
  • L.E.Modesitt, Jr., The Fires of Paratime.  SF drawing on Norse myths.
  • Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, & David Malki, editors - Machine of Death.  Thirty-four stories about people who know when they are going to die.
  • Jake Page, Operation Shatterhand.  Alternate history SF.  Nazis versus Indians in the American southwest.
  • Robert B. Parker, Blue-Eyed Devil.  A Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch western.
  • Charles Pellegrino & George Zebrowski, The Killing Star. SF apocalyptic novel.
  • Louise Penny, How the Light Gets In.  A Chief Inspector Gamache mystery.
  • Gary Phillips, High Hand.  A Martha Cainey (but don't call her Martha) mystery.
  • Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Gideon's Corpse.  A Gideon Crew thriller.
  • William Rabkin, Psych:  Mind-Altering Murder.  Television tie-in novel.
  • Mike Resnick, Soothsayer.  SF novel in the Santiago universe.
  • Michael Robertson, The Baker Street Translation.  The third Reggie and Nigel Heath mystery.
  • David Rotenberg, The Hua Shan Hospital Murders and The Lake Ching Murders.  Detective Zhong Fong mysteries, the second and third in the series.  
  • George R. Simpson & Neal R. Burger, Thin Air.  Thriller.
  • Alexander McCall Smith, The Sunday Philosophy Club.  An Elizabeth Dalhousie Mystery.
  • Midori Snyder, The Flight of Michael McBride.  Fantasy western.
  • S. P. Somtow, The Riverrun Trilogy.  SF omnibus containing Riverrun, Armorica, & Yestern.
  • William Browning Spencer, Irrational Fears.  Horror novel, with a nod to Lovecraft.
  • Christopher Stasheff, editor, The Gods of War.  Shared world fantasy anthology with eleven stories featuring Tek, a fairly militant deity.
  • Whitley Strieber, The Secret School: Preparation for Contact.  Supposedly non-fiction.
  • Walter Sullivan, We Are Not Alone.  Non-fiction.  Scientific explanation of the possibility of alien life.  Revised edition. Winner of the 1965 International Non-Fiction Prize.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien, The Shaping of Middle Earth.  More background on Middle Earth:  "Poems and prose, maps and chronologies, detours and diversions along the road..."
  • A. E. van Vogt, Null-A Three. SF.  Gilbert Gosseyn returns.  

Sunday, May 25, 2014



"I'll Fly Away"

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Merle Haggard.  (following a very annoying ad)


In the early Forties Ace Comics bundled stories of their most popular costumed heroes into a title called Four Favorites.  The lineup for the first issues included Magno and Davey, Lash Lightning, Raven, and Vulcan, with Blitz Buster in a bonus story.  The cover of the first issue showed the four favorites taking turns to beat the crap out of Hitler.  (Let's not forget to buy war bonds, guys.)

Issue #8 (December 1942) showcased Magno and Davey, Lash Lighting and Lightning Girl, the Unknown Soldier, and Captain Courageous.  Captain Gallant and His Mini-Sub also pop in for an adventure.

Contributors to this issue included Harvey Kurtzman and Lou Ferstadt (or, at least, people from the Ferstadt Studio).

Enjoy "The Corpses That Wouldn't Stay Dead," "Master of the Roto-Dynamo," and three other tales.

Friday, May 23, 2014


The Brothers Four.


Red Threads by Rex Stout (1939)

Nero Wolfe's antigonist New York Police Inspector Cramer (was he ever given a first name) takes on a case of his own in Red Threads, the only Rex Stout to place him as the lead detective.

Val Carew, a one-time Oklahoma gambler who made good on Wall Street, was deeply in love with his Cherokee Indian wife, Tsianina.  When she died, he used a portion of his riches to build a magnificent tomb for her; not Taj Mahal magnificent, mind you, but you get the impression that it was a near second. Carew visited the temple often and, being very superstitious, "consulted" his dead wife there on important business and personal decisions.  And it was there, in the tomb on the steps leading to his dead wife's glass-topped coffin, that his body was found bludgeoned and scalped.  The only clue was a piece of red thread clutched in Carew's hand.

The thread was a piece of bayata, an old Spanish yarn made with a vegetable dye from Persia in the sixteenh and seventeenth centuries.  The yard was used to make pants for Spanish soldiers at the time. When soldiers were killed by Indians, the Indians would take the pants, unravel the yard, and make blankets from it.  The yard, of course, is now very rare. but some was used to make a jacket gifted to Carew's son Guy in appreciation for charity work he had done for Indians in the West.  A couple of weeks after the murder, Guy had given the jacket to Jean Farris, a rising star in fabric design, to use in fashioning a skirt and jacket for herself.  Two weeks later, while wearing the newly made skirt and jacket, Jean is knocked unconscious and the clothing is stripped from her body and stolen.

Enter Inspector Cramer, called back from a long-overdue vacation to take charge of the case.  Although the crime was committed in another county, the New York Police Commissioner had agreed to put Cramer on the case because all the suspects lived in the city.

One of the main suspects is Guy, who inherited his father's fortune.  Another is Val Carew's fiancee who had had a short-lived affair with Guy eight years before.  And there is Jean who, despite having met Guy only weeks before, has decided she wants to marry him.  Other suspects present when Val Carew was murdered include Melville Barth, whose wife had invested his money in a fashion, business. his wife, who had left a moist peach pit near the crime scene, Leo Kranz, whose precarious financial position would be improved if a deal with Carew came through, Amory Buysse. the curator of the National Indian Museum that was endowed by Carew, and Woodrow Wilson, a stoic old Indian who worshiped the dead Tsianina.  Most of the suspects had reasons to stop Val Carew from marrying his fiancee.

Red herrings abound, false alibis are rife, and confusion reigns as Cramer plows through a miasma of deceit.  (Cramer even gets a couple of off-scene assists from his co-hort in the Nero Wolfe series, Sergeant Purley Stebbins.)  Red Threads is a good read enlivened by such interesting characters as the fearless and determined Jean, the clueless Guy, and the unflappable Woodrow Wilson.  Cramer himself comes across in a more humane light than we have previously seen him.

A somewhat weakish ending, but a good choice for those fans who have gone through the Wolfe canon.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Today would have been the 100th birthday of Martin Gardner, mathematician, puzzle-make, Oz afficiando, rationalist, and a man who brought joy (and brain-scratching) to millions.  To commemorate the occasion, here's a short video on how to make a flexagon.


Tim Hardin.


If you have not had your daily dose of corn today, here's Lum and Abner in "The Pine Ridge Moving Picture Company."  From 1938 and brought to you by Postum, the drink the whole family can enjoy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


 Vic Damone.


A man arrested for murder bribed an Irishman on the jury with a hundred dollars to hang out for a verdict of manslaughter.  The jury were out a long time and finally came in with a verdict of manslaughter.  The man rushed up to the Irish juror and said, "I'm obliged to you, my friend.  Did you have a hard time?"  "Yes," said the Irish "A h-ll of time.  The other eleven want to acquit yer."

from A Bunch of Yarns and Rare Bits of Humor, compiled and arranged by F. J. Cahill, comedian (New York & New Orleans: Carey-Stafford Company, 1906).  [1906 was evidently a good year for all sorts of ungracious ethic jokes, to judge by this book. There is a reason this post begins with the word "BAD,"  you know.]

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Geoff Muldaur.


From 1912, the very first gangster film.  Directed by D. W. Griffith, it stars Elmer Booth, Lillian Gish, and Robert Harron.  Seventeen minutes of Hollywood history.


Monday, May 19, 2014


Bob Nolan & The Sons of the Pioneers


  • Ilsa J. Bick, Keith R. A. DeCandido, John J. Ordover, Terri Osborne, & Cory Rushton, Star Trek:  Corps of Engineers:  Wounds.  Television tie-in collection of six stories originally published separately as e-Books.
  • Brett Cogburn, The Texans.  Western.  According to the back cover, the author is the grandson of Rooster Cogburn.  Yes, that Rooster Cogburn.
  • Glen Cook, The Silver Spike.  Fantasy.
  • Larry Correia, Monster Hunter Alpha.  Fantasy, the third in the Monster Hunter series.
  • Juanita Coulson, Outward Bound and Legacy of Earth.  SF.  Books Two and Three of the Children of the Stars series.
  • Peter Crowther, editor - Infinities.  SF collection of four novellas.
  • Richie Tankersley Cusick, Silent Stalker.  YA horror.
  • Keith R. A. DeCandido - Supernatural:  Nevermore.  Television tie-in novel.
  • Esther Friesner - Harpy High.  Fantasy, a sequel to Gnome Man's Land.
  • Jeff Gelb & Michael Garrett, editors, Hot Blood XIII:  Dark Passions.  Collection of 20 erotic horror stories.
  • Simon R. Green - Ghostworld, the second in the Twilight of the Empire SF series, and Nightingale's Lament, a fantasy novel in the Nightside series.
  • Maxim Jakubowski, editor, The Best New British Mysteries.  Anthology of 28 mysteries stories from 2003, originally published (inexplicably, to my mind) as The Best British Mysteries 2005.
  • Ric Meyers,  Fear Itself.  Horror, the first in the Book of the Undead series.
  • Nick Pollotta, Full Monster.  Gaming (BUREAU 13 STALKING THE NIGHT FANTASTIC) tie-in novel, the third in the series.
  • Mike Resnick, The Soul Eater.  SF.
  • Keith Roberts, Kiteworld.  SF.
  • John Shirley, Kamus of Kadizhar:  The Black Hole of Carcosa.  Fantasy/P.I. novel based on a character created by Michael J. Reaves.
  • Charles Stross, The Family Trade.  Fantasy, Book One of The Merchant Princes.
  • Robert Weinberg, A Calculated Magic.  Fantasy, the sequel to A Logical Magician.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


My baby girl celebrates yet another birthday today, a beautiful, intelligent, empathetic, and talented woman whom I remember as a beautiful, intelligent, empathetic. and talented little girl.  Where has the time gone?

Well, the time has gone to a wonderful husband and three magnificent children:  quiet Mark, with his understated and genuinely funny sense of humor, giggly Erin, who is smart enough to take on the world and win, and the ever-active, ever sweet Kangaroo, who has reached the Terrible Twos a few months early while maintaining the ability to charm everyone he meets.  [As many of you know the Kangaroo is a foster child who has been with Christina and Walt since he was six weeks old.  They hope to officially adopt him soon, and when that happens...PARTY!]

And the time has gone to a series of careers, all of which somehow involve helping people.  From ambulance driver to EMT to Paramedic, to a medical technician who could make an emergency room run smoothly and who would sit with dying people because no one should die alone, and to an echo cardiologist whose skill has helped save many lives.  For the past several years she has been training to be a sign language interpreter, going to school in Baltimore (a two-hour trip each way) while continuing to work, maintain a home, raise kids and a bevy of animals, be active in all the sports and activities the kids are involved in, and also be involved in the Kangaroo's special needs.  When nominations for Wonder Woman are open, be sure to remember Christina's name.

Southern Maryland is a great place for Christina and her family.  The kids roam the woods, fish in the lake at the end of the street, and everybody enjoys the short walk to the Chesapeake for swimming and kayaking.  Museums, aquariums, and zoos are all within easy reach.  But Christina and Walt also like things a bit more adventurous.  (Christina is fairly well-traveled.  In high school she went to Germany, Austria, and England as well as being an exchange student in Japan.)  She and Walt have been to Italy and have explored ruins in Belize.  Ten years ago they went kayaking in Alaska, five years ago it was driving through Ireland (with those roads, it was an adventure), and this summer they and Mark and Erin are going to the Galapagos.

Things don't necessarily come easy for Christina.  She has had to work hard, whether it was for her black belt in tae kwon do or the careers she has mastered.  What she sets her mind to she does.  You are unlikely to find a more determined person (a trait that can also be found in young Erin, who may someday rule the world).

I hope Christina has a fantastic birthday today.  I know she has a fantastic year ahead of her.  And many more fantastic years to come.

Am I proud of her? Damned straight.

And do I love her?

What do you think?


Helen Kane, the "boop-boop-a-doop" girl.


The latest incarnation of Godzilla brings to mind (my mind, at least) a slew of "let's forget physics and give 'em giant monster" movies, including 1960's giant ape movie Konga.  My first awareness of Konga was from the cheesy Monarch paperback tie-in by "Dean Owen"  (Dudley Dean McGaughey)with its classic cover of a pneumatic Claire Gordon and a leering Konga.  The film itself, a classic of its kind, was coproduced by British company Anglo Amalgamated and American International Pictures.  Directed by John Lemont and written by Herman Cohen and Aben Kandel, it starred Michael Gough, Margo Johns, and Jess Conrad, along with the aforementioned pneumatic assets of Ms. Gordon.

As with many films of the time, a comic book version was produced.  Charlton Comics used the talents of a pre-Spiderman Steve Ditko to draw it in June of 1960, long before its 1961 American premier:

The comic and the movie both proved popular.  This put Charlton in a bind.  They wanted to continue with a Konga  comic book series but [SPOILER ALERT!] they had killed off the giant ape [END OF SPOILER ALERT!].  What to do?  What to do?  In the second issue of the comic (August 1961 -- more than a year after the first issue), they introduced a second cash-cow, um, giant ape named Konga, one that would fight giant prehistoric monsters and have a thing for pretty girls:

Konga continued as a comic book through 1965 with 23 issues.  A 24th issue was retitled Giant Monsters then the comic book went the way of the first Konga.

Friday, May 16, 2014


Theodore Bikel.


Mask of Glass by Holly Roth (1954)

Jimmy Kennemore, a young private in the Army's Counter Intelligence Corps, is assigned the task of finding John Viola, Ja disaffected army deserter.  It's a difficult job because the deserter had no family, no place he could call home, no work history, and not even a library card.  Although Viola had dropped out of high school some fifteen years before, this was the only possible lead Jimmy could find.  A clerk in the school's office told Jimmy that there was only one teacher on staff that had been there fifteen years before, but there was no record of whether she had ever taught Viola.  The teacher, a Mrs. Clark, remembered Viola, a "Hulking boy.  No Brains.  No Manners.  No interests."  But he did have one friend, a boy named William Smith.

There were a lot of Williams Smiths in New York and a lot of William Smiths who had moved out of the city or had died in the previous fifteen years but, by going over the school's records, Jimmy found two possibles -- a William Ramirez Smith and a William Pershing Smith.  A check of the city directory gave Jimmy the business address of William Pershing Smith, a small camera shop on Canal Street.  Going to the shop, Jimmy show his identification and asks to see Smith.

That's when things went south.

Jimmy, you see, has a somewhat unique talent.  He is able to identify telephone numbers by the sound of dialing.  He hears Smith dialing a number -- the number of Jimmy's CIC office.  Jimmy is told that he accidently stumbled on the secret headquarters of the CIC.  Smith then orders Jimmy to come with him to an abandoned warehouse, where Smith and his henchmen suddenly overpower Jimmy, tie him to a chair, and leave him with a ticking bomb.  Jimmy manages to loosen his bonds but the bomb explodes before he is able to escape.  Horribly wounded and unsure of who to trust, Jimmy manages to make it to an old friend, Doc Steinfeld.  Steinfeld treats Jimmy secretly and becomes his ally in his search to uncover a plot that eventually reaches to high positions in the military, the FBI, and the Congress.  The conspiracy also comes close to home for Jimmy; his unknown adversary has murdered everyone who knew Jimmy had been searching for a William Smith, and Jimmy's childhood sweetheart is now being threatened.

Mask of Glass is a fast-paced, rather short novel (the copy I read -- the 1955 Berkley paperback --  is a mere 128 pages) that is clearly a product of its time.  Russia is bad.  Communism is bad.  And an unnamed J. Edgar Hoover has a significant heroic role toward the end of the story.   Despite its age, Mask of Glass remains a effective suspense story.

The author, Holly Roth, was a former model and a popular mid-list mystery writer in the 1950s through the early-Sixties, until her death at age 48 in 1964.  Today, she is best remembered for her mysterious death -- she presumably fell off a small yacht in the Mediterranean; her body was never found.  Her books are ripe for rediscovery.

Mask of Glass was, I believe, Roth's second novel.  Her published books in the field were:
  • The Content Assignment (apa, The Shocking Secret), 1954
  • Mask of Glass, 1954
  • The Sleeper, 1955
  • The Crimson in the Purple, 1956
  • The Coast of Fear, 1957, as "K. G. Ballard" (apa Five Roads to S'Agaro, 1958)
  • Shadow of a Lady, 1957, the first of two novels featuring CID Inspector Richard Medford
  • The Silent Thread, 1958, as "P. J. Merrill"
  • The Van Dreisen Affair, 1960
  • Bar Sinister, 1960, as "K. G. Ballard"
  • Trial by Desire, 1960, as "K. G. Ballard"
  • Operation Doctors, 1962 (apa, Too Many Doctors, 1963), the second Richard Medford novel
  • Gauge of Deception, 1963
  • Button, Button, 1966 (completed by Roth's editor after her death)

This is Fifties mystery week for the Forgotten Books gang.  For links to other "Forgotten Fifties," check the blog of Patti Abbott, our fearless leader, at  You'll also find reviews of some great non-Fifties Forgotten Books there.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Sharon, Lois & Bram.


In 1928, Tailspin Tommy took to the air in America's newspapers.  Drawn by Hal Forrest and written by Glenn Chaffin, Tommy was one of many characters created in the wake of Lindbergh's transatlantic flight to feed America's hunger for stories about brave pilots.  Soon Tommy was appearing in 250 newspapers.  In 1934, he hit the big screen in a 12-chapter serial; another serial followed in 1935, then a series of one-hour films were released in 1939.

Shortly before the comic strip ended in 1942, Tailspin Tommy hit the airwaves, to the delight of kids throughout the country.  Tommy Tomkins, his girlfriend Betty Lou Barnes, and his best friend "Skeeter" Milligan fought for goodness and humanity on a weekly basis.

Here, they tackle the problems of "The Hidden Mine" and "The Midnight Patrol."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


I just received word that my nephew Joe passed away last night, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot.  A warm, smart, and sensitive man, Joe was the guy who could make anyone laugh.  My daughters could never drink anything when he was around because they would choke with laughter and spit their drink out through either mouth or nose, and sometimes both.  Whatever demons lay within Joe to commit this senseless act have gone with him, and we who love him are left with a void in our lives.  There is sorrow and a sense of hopelessness; there is also anger and resentment because suicide is so often a foolish and selfish act.  There are very few things that justify suicide.  The hole in our lives -- and especially in that of his sister and her husband, with whom Joe lived -- is real and palpable.  A young man who had so much to give the world can no longer do so.  And there is nothing I can do about it.

Had I the power, I  would have hugged his demons away and told him how much I -- we -- loved him.  But I don't have that power.  The demons won and the world has lost a bright flame.

It's a damned shame.


Jonathan Guyot Smith.


From 1973 Yugoslavia.  'Leptirica" translates as "The She-Butterfly."

Can this be the "scariest vampire film ever"? You decide.

Monday, May 12, 2014


The Stanley Brothers.


  • Amazing Stories, July 1968.  an issue from Harry Harrison's brief run as editor.  A lead novelet by Samual R. Delany and reprints from Edmond Hamilton, Paul Fairman, "Ivar Jorgenson" (Randall Garrett this time out), and Milton Lesser.
  • Brian Ball, Montengrin Gold.  Mystery.
  • Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, editors - Zombies vs. Unicorns.  YA fantasy anthology with twelve stories.
  • Chaz Brenchley, Bridge of Dreams.  Fantasy.
  • Marjorie Dorner, Family Closets.  Suspense.
  • Gordon R. Dickson, Lost Dorsai.  SF, a short novel and a short story from Dickson's Childe Cycle, as well as an except from David W. Wixon's A Childe Cycle Concordance.
  • G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man.  The history of the world as informed by the Incarnation.  Chesterton considered this book's content to be more history than religion.
  • Clive Cussler & Paul Kemprecos - Blue Gold.  Thriller from the NUMA Files.  I like Kemprecos.
  • "Tabor Evans," Longarm and the Killer Countess.  Number 383 in this long-running adult western series.
  • Christopher Golden, Strangewood.  Horror from one of the best in the genre.
  • Denis Johnson, Jesus' Son.  Literary collection of eleven stories.
  • Dean Koontz, What the Night Knows.  Thriller.  This edition also has the novella Darkness Under the Sun, previously only available as an e-Book.
  • Virginia Lanier, Blind Bloodhound Justice.  Dog mystery.  Signed.
  • "Jake Logan," Slocum and the Trick Shot Artist.  Number 402 (!) in this long-running adult western series.
  • Barry B. Longyear, Sea of Glass.  SF.
  • Elaine Mercado, R.N., Grave's End.  Paranormal.  Mercado's supposedly true story of living in a haunted house in Brooklyn.  Introduction by "ghost hunter" Hans Holzer.  As you can tell, I love this sort of bushwah.
  • Christopher Rice, A Density of Souls and Light Before Day.  Thrillers from a rising author who happens to be the son of Anne Rice.
  • R. A. Salvatore, Starless Night.  Gaming (Forgotten Realms) tie-in novel.
  • Patricia Sprinkle, Sins of the Fathers.  A Family Tree mystery.
  • "Charles Todd," Wings of Fire. The mother and son writing team with a historical mystery featuring Inspector Ian Rutledge, the second in the series.
  • Donald E. Westlake, The Road to Ruin. A Dortmunder caper.
  • Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Angel's Game.ake Literary mystery.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


...using only an orange?  Well, actually you also need a rock and a stick.  Not very useful information, but it IS information.


Here's an up-tempo contemporary gospel song from Ethiopia.  I have no idea what the words mean but sisters Hawani and Ebisse sure do.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Ray Stevens.


From December 1939 comes the first issue of Silver Streak Comics, featuring work by Jack Cole and Bill Everett, among others.

In this issue you will meet...

...The Claw! who needs a woman to aid in his world conquest!

...Mister Midnight! the crime fighter who can stop time!

...Red Reeves, Boy Magician! -- a young (and rather stupid, IMHO) lad with a genie!

...Captain Fearless! the brave adventurer who faces off against the evil Ting Ling (and whose story will be continued in the next issue)!

...The "Duke," Ace Inspector (police inspector, that is)! a cop full of derring-do!

...The Wasp! Crime's greatest enemy! whose alter ego is Burton Slade, mild-mannered reporter!

,,,Barry Lane, the Adventure-Hunter! heads out West to mete out "Mesa Justice."

...Spiritman! who detects crime with his futuroscope and who travels distances instantly to arrive invisible with the aid of powerful mistodine rays!

With all those exclamation points, you know it's going to be a thrilling issue!



Friday, May 9, 2014


Joy Gray, Betty Casey Jackson, and Pat Seamount.


Robert E. Howard is best-known for his stories about Conan the Barbarian.  Many also know him for his weird stories.  Few outside of a coterie of admirers are familiar with the wider range of his work, which stretches from boxing stories to historical stories, from tales of oriental menace to tales of adventure, from poetry to westerns.  Howard's output in the thirty short years he was on this planet is impressive.  And, as a pulp writer, he would alter stories that did not sell to one market to fit another market.  Howard stories featuring such character as Buckner J. Grimes, Pike Bearfield, or Grizzly Elkins are Breckinridge Elkins stories dressed in different clothing.  During the Howard revival of the late 1960s and early 1970s, a number of his tales and unpublished fragments were rewritten by other authors -- a practice that continued in the small press and specialty publishers to the present day -- the result being that many of his stories now survive in several forms.

One market for Howard's western stories was Action Stories, which published Howard's tall tales about Breckinridge Elkins, a not-too-bright behemoth of a man from Bear Creek, Nevada.  Thirteen Elkins stories were slightly rewritten for continuity and published as a novel, A Gent from Bear Creek, by London Publisher Herbert Jenkins in 1937, the year after Howard's death by suicide.  Twenty-seven years, in 1965, later the book was finally published in the U.S. by Donald M. Grant.  Grant published a further collection the following year, The Pride of Bear Creek.  Then, after a gap of thirteen years, Grant published the final Breckinrige Elkins collection, Mayhem on Bear Creek, in 1979.  All three books were published in the paperback omnibus Heroes of Bear Creek by Ace.

The Pride of Bear Creek (the cover shows a dazed and bruised mountain lion with its tail tied in a knot) presents seven stories:

  • The Riot at Cougar Paw (Action Stories, October 1935)
  • Pilgrims to the Pecos (Action Stories, February 1936)
  • High Horse Rampage (Action Stories, August 1936)
  • The Apache Mountain War (Action Stories, December 1935)
  • Pistol Politics (Action Stories, April 1936)
  • The Conquerin' Hero of the Humbolts (Action Stories, October 1936 as "The Conquerin' Hero of the Humboldts" and was titled "Politics at Blue Lizard" in Howard's draft)
  • A Ringtailed Tornado (as "Texas John Alden" in Masker Rider Western, May 1944.  Also appeared in Hopalong Cassidy Western Magazine, Fall 1950, and High Adventure, November 2012; this was originally written as a Buckner J. Grimes story titled  "A Ring-Tailed Tornado" and was rewritten by someone at the Otis Adelbert Kline agency.)

These tall tales should probably be read sparingly; they are basically one-note stories, after all.  Elkins is the biggest, strongest, meanest, fightin'est, shootin'est, and (possibly) dumbest person in the West.  (And his horse Cap'n Kidd is the biggest, fastest, strongest, and meanest animal in the West.)  He's often thrust into his adventures by members of his large extended family and a misguided sense of family honor.  In several of these adventures Breckinridge runs across (and fights) his Texas cousin Bearfield Buckner; along the way they have a contest on who can kill the most members of a Mexican outlaw gang.  In most of the stories Breckinridge is shot, stabbed, and hit on the head by a large rock or a piece of lumber --all of which tends to rile his pleasant nature.

Fun and funny -- in small doses.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


The Nat King Cole Trio.


The Carter Brown mystery books are quick blasts of strangeness.  I would read four or five in a day when I was in college.  The books, written by Australian Alan Yates under the "Carter Brown" pseudonym, were published in paperback by Signet in the U.S. and featured a dizzying array of series heroes, invariably cops or private eyes.  (It's been asserted that Yates wrote all of the books although Robert Silverberg evidently wrote four of them for the Scott Meredith agency; it is not known whether any of Silverberg's CB books were published, so Yates may have actually written all the CB books published.)

It's been a long while since I have read any Carter Brown, but I was happy to find some recordings of a Carter Brown radio show from Australia on Internet Archive.

So here are ten mysteries.  Put a shrimp on the barbie, mate, and enjoy.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.


Dinner last night went well -- well, that is, until the end.  That's when the dessert kept trying to jump off the table.  I ordered the lemming meringue pie.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Jim Jackson.


Veteran actor Roscoe Karns starred as Police Inspector Rocky King for the Dumont Network from 1950 through 1954 in one of the network's most popular live programs.  Earl Hammond (now perhaps best known as a voice-over artist for many children's television shows) played King's fellow police officer, Detective Sergeant Lane; if Lane ever had a first name, I don't know it.  Grace Carney, an occasional film and television actress, was the voice of King's wife, Mabel, with whom King would chat over the telephone at the end of each episode.

The following episode, from December 14, 1953, has King and Lane trying to save an innocent man scheduled to be executed in three hours. It was written by Frank Phares, who wrote for six other television series in the 1950s, and was directed by Wes Kenney, who later became executive producer for the soap opera The Young and the Restless.

Enjoy "Murder, Ph.D."

Monday, May 5, 2014


From 1927, Josephine Baker.


  • Isaac Asimov, Comets and Meteors.  Juvenile nonfiction.
  • Steven Brust, Dragon.  A Vlad Taltos fantasy.
  • Frank Defelitta, Golgotha Falls.  Horror.
  • David Gordon, The Serialist.  Suspense.
  • Heather Graham, Ghost Shadow and Ghost Moon. The first and third volumes in the Bone Island trilogy.  Also, Ghost Walk, paranormal romance that is not part of the Bone Island trilogy.
  • Tarquin Hall, The Case of the Missing Servant.  A Vish Puri mystery.
  • Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches. Fantasy, Book One of the All Souls trilogy.
  • Ellen Hart, Hallowed Murder.  A Jane Lawless mystery.
  • David Jacobs, 24 Declassified:  Head Shot.  Television tie-in novel.
  • Alex Kava, Damaged.  A Maggie O'Dell mystery.
  • Larry King & Thomas H. Cook, Moon Over Manhattan.  Another celebrity writes a mystery with the "help" of a well-known mystery novelist.
  • Katherine Hall Page, The Body in the Gallery.  A Faith Fairchild mystery.
  • Candace M. Robb, The Lady Chapel.  An Owen Archer mystery set in 1365 York.
  • Dorothy Simpson, Wake the Dead. An Inspector Luke Thanet mystery.
  • Patricia Wentworth, Beggar's Choice.  Mystery.

Sunday, May 4, 2014



Here's a great drink to celebrate tomorrow's Cinca de Mayo:

Actually, I think it's a great drink.  I don't drink myself, but it sounds good.  To be sure, why don't you have a dozen or so tomorrow?   Then if I see your name on Tuesday's Police Log, I'll know the drink has served its purpose.

Have a great Cinca de Mayo!


From the early 70s, a helicopter flyover across several pre-Columbian sites, Mayan including Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and Teotihuacan.  Narrated by Orson Welles.


Reverent Gary Davis.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


Today would have been Pete Seeger's 95th birthday.  Ways to celebrate:

  • Sing something.  Doesn't matter what and it doesn't matter if your singing voice (like mine) frightens the cows).  Music connects every one of us.
  • Fight pollution and be a champion for the environment.  Seeger devoted much of his later life to cleaning up the Hudson River and educating children on the importance of clean rivers.  I live near the Chesapeake and one of the very small things I do is to NOT use fertilizers and chemicals that would seep through the ground and harm the Bay.
  • Exhibit kindness and recognize individual worth in everyone.  The Donald Sterlings and the Cliven Bundys of the world are on the wrong side of history.  Place yourself firmly on the right side.
  • Speak up.  Speak out.  Speak sense.  Confound the politicians.  Follow Davy Crockett's advise:  Be sure you're right and then go ahead.
  • Embrace the younger generation.  They have a lot to teach us and we have a lot to teach them.
  • Support fair trade and free markets.  Do not support corporate greed and the ever-growing income equality.  The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  Who says it has to be that way?
  • Enjoy all the wonderful things that life has to offer.
  • Did I mention sing something?

"Being generous of spirit is a wonderful way to live." - Pete Seeger


Big Bill Broonzy.


In doing my part to celebrate, here's the comic book adaptation of George Pal's 1950 movie
Destination Moon (based, of course, on a Robert A. Heinlein story).  The comic book was scripted by another old SF hand, Otto Binder.


(And don't forget to drop in at your local comic book store!)

Friday, May 2, 2014


Supposedly the only Leadbelly song he owned the copyright for.


Pulptime:  Being a Singular Adventure of Sherlock Holmes, H. P. Lovecraft, and the Kalem Club, as if Narrated by Frank Belknap Long, Jr. by Peter H. Cannon (1984)

The plot of this little exercise is simple.  It's 1925 and Lovecraft has taken a small apartment in New York after his wife Sonia has left for work in the Midwest.  One of the upstairs apartment has been taken by an old bearded man calling himself Mr. Altamont.  Altamont, of course, is Holmes, coming out of retirement for one last case.  On the recommendation of a mutual acquaintance, Harry Houdini, Holmes was seeking out Lovecraft to help him regain some stolen documents that are of vital importance to his unnamed British client.

Along for the ride is our narrator and Lovecraft's good friend and protégé, Frank Belknap Long.  the documents are in the hands of the secret crime boss Jan Martese.  Martese's girlfriend is the lovely Cordelia Garrison, a psychic to New York's social elite.  Holmes and Lovecraft soon enlist the help of Lovecraft's "gang," the Kalem Club -- a "literary" group of men who meet every other week for general discussion, called the Kalem Club because all original members had last names that began with K, L, or M.

There's atmosphere aplenty, and some thrills, but the main attraction of Pulptime is Cannon's portrayal of the characters taken from real life.  Lovecraft's quirks and affectations are one full display, as of those of Long, and, to a lesser extent, Houdini, poet Hart Crane, and the Kalem Club -- Samuel Loveman, Rheinhart Kleiner, Everett McNeil, George Kirk, Wheeler Dryden, and James Morton.  Holmes, although faculties appear remain sharp, is shown as someone who's mind drifts a bit and who is begin to fail physically. (I really liked the scene where teetotal Lovecraft has to visit a speakeasy and runs into a drunken Hart Crane.)

Cannon, a Sherlockian and a Lovecraftian, has a fine old time crafting the story.  (I really liked the scene where a teetotal Lovecraft has to visit a speakeasy.)  The novella was first published by W. Paul Ganley's Weirdbook Press and more lately in Cannon's collection The Lovecraft Papers (which also contains the stories from Scream for Jeeves, a Bertie Wooster/Cthulu mash-up --also recommended).

Long himself contributes the foreword in which he explains his mother's over-solicitous behavior to her son (Long was recovering from a major heart attack in 1925 and his mother was concerned about his health; never fear, though, Long lived to be 92 and died in 1994).  Robert Bloch's afterward explained about Harry Houdini's public persona and his private life; it was the public persona Cannon portrayed in the story.

I had a great time with this book, although I suspect those with no interest in Lovecraft would not be as appreciative.  But then, those persons wouldn't have picked up the book anyway.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Rob Carlson & Benefit Street.


Let's have a Morris Dance!  (And sorry about the darkness of the video, but it was at night, you know.)

The Thaxted Horn Dance:

Or, perhaps a Morris dance in a school gym?

The Bristol Morris Men with "Pepper in the Brandy":

Or, we can dance around the Maypole as these people did at the Weoley Castle Roundabout May Day Celebrations in 2012:

Or, you could just sit back and enjoy The Lusty Month of May"

Fiona Fullerton: