Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Sunday, August 31, 2014


The Kangaroo, at two years one month of age, has taught himself to fart on command!

He's very proud of himself.


The Soul Stirrers with Sam Cooke.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


The Hollywood Argyles.


This guy really needs no introduction.  He's everyone's favorite caveman and possibly the only caveman to have his own commemorative stamp.

Anyway, here's Alley Oop, Ooola, Dinny the dinosaur, Guzzle (the king of Moo), Oompa, Foozie, Dr. Elbert Wonmug, and the rest of the gang.  Enjoy.

P.S.  If you're interested in Alley Oop and his creator V. T. Hamlin, you really should check out Max Allan Collins' documentary Caveman:  V. T. Hamlin & Alley Oop (2005), available on DVD.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Marty Robbins.


Hell-for-Leather Rider by "Jake Foster" (1991)

The men behind the "Jake Foster" house name this time are James Reasoner and Ed Gorman, two of the best western writers we have today.

Young Jim McReady has a low opinion of himself.  He's a coward and a drifter.  Escaped from an East Coast reform school and wanted by the police for a crime he didn't commit, Jim has been moving ever westward, running -- in part -- from himself.  We first meet him as he is finishing a grueling ten-mile walk across some badlands to the town of Flat Rock, exhausted, feet blistered and swollen, with only a dollar to his name.  Jim makes a deal with Deakins, Flat Rock's livery owner, for work in exchange for sleeping in one of the stalls.  Soon this becomes a permanent arrangement as Deakins recognizes that Jim has some grit in him.

A flyer in town announces that the Pony Express is coming to Flat Rock and that riders are needed.  Jim applies for one of the jobs and, despite his being a novice rider, is hired.  Jim is given clothes, a bible, and weapons, and is briefly shown how to use the weapons.  His route from Flat Rock to Moss City ndiancovers forty miles and passes through the Prophet Mountains, the home of the legendary outlaw who calls himself Nightshade.  Nightshade has been terrorizing the area for twenty years.  The cowled figure dressed in black has reached mythic proportions in that area, bringing more fear than even the Piute indians who live and range by the Prophets.

On his very first run, Jim is handed off the mail pouches he is to deliver to Moss City.  He has to wait a moment, though, to add one letter to the pouch and notices that it is address to a Miss Virginia Rawlings.  Feeling important and a little bit nervous, Jim heads out and, as he enters the Prophet Mountains, is waylaid by Nightshade and his gang.  Left without his pouches, Jim continues on to Moss City in failure and knowing he will probably be fired once he returns to Flat Rock.

Of all the mail he was to deliver, Jim knows only one name, Virginia Rawlings, the name on the letter he was handed back in Flat Rock.  He decides to find her, apologize for losing her letter and explain what happened.  Virginia, of course, turns out to be a pretty girl his age.  She reacts badly to the news that the letter had been stolen.  Her father has spent the last eight years in prison and the letter contained information that would prove his innocence.  Jim is determined to redeem himself by trying to retrieve the letter from Nightshade...and if he failed, well, his life wasn't worth much anyway.

The girl is determined to go with him in search of Nightshade and her letter.  The trek is dangerous and the two continually face death at the hands of rogue trappers, indians, and a gang or rival outlaws before coming face to face with Nightshade himself and the truth about who is behind the black cowl.

Although relying a bit too much on coincidence, Hell-for-Leather Rider is a good read that provides strong character development, fast-paced action, and a possibly supernatural tone.  Paperback copies may be difficult to find but luckily the novel has been released as an e-Book under the title The Man from Nightshade Valley and under the authors' true names.


Thursday, August 28, 2014


My beautiful darling Ceili turned 18 today.  In my mind she was born a blink of an eye ago.  I remember as they took her out of the delivery room, tightly swaddled, eyes wide open, she had a quiet serene look about her -- unlike her mother who greeted the world kicking and screaming.  Ceili had a dignity about her; she knew this world was her due.  She was happy to be here and she was happy just to be.

And now she's eighteen.  She's lovely, smart, talented...with a heart and a kindness that astounds me.  I am so proud of her and the woman she has become and the person she will be as she travels on in life.  I wish her father were alive to see her now; he, too, was always so proud of her.

My birthday wish for Ceili?  That she have a full life of serenity and fulfillment and that she brings her special kind of joy to everyone she meets.

Happy birthday, Ceili.  We love you.



From Gordon Bok, a beautiful folk song about a lonely man and a selkie:

And the words:


Clarence Williams with the Alabama Jug Band.


According to one source, not only was Dr. Daniel Danfield obnoxious, but the show itself was probably the worst radio detective show ever and "consistently featured some of the worst acting and writing of any detective show to reach the airwaves."  The show began on August 18, 1946, and -- after 26 episodes -- faded away ignominiously on April 13, 1947.

And who brought this audio fecal matter to life?  Fingers point at four directions.  Michael Dunn starred in the title role and JoAnne Johnson played Rusty Fairfax, his secretary.  Ralph Wilkinson wrote the episodes, which were produced by Wally Ramsey.

For your listening agony, The link takes you to all 26 episodes.  You can thank me later.

Or not.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


The Ink Spots.


Grandpa starting buying from the internet this elixir that promotes youthfulness.  Darned if he didn't wake up this morning feeling like a sixteen-year-old.  Thank goodness he couldn't find one.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Stan Rogers.


The Dow Hour of Great Mysteries:  The Bat (1960)

Here's the classic Mary Roberts Rinehart/Avery Hopwood mystery play, adapted by Walter Kerr and featuring Helen Hayes, Jason Robarts, Jr., Bethel Leslie, and Margaret Hamilton.  (The host for The Dow House of Great Mysteries was attorney Joseph N. Welch, who famously said to Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy Hearings, "You've done enough.  Have you no sense of decency, sir?  At long last, have you left no sense of decency?")

The Dow Hour did not last long, only seven episodes.  The program presented live performances of mystery classics, the remaining being John Dickson Carr's The Burning Court, Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White, Richard Marsh's The Dachet Diamonds, John Willard's The Cat and the Canary, Sheridan Le Fanu's The Inn of the Flying Dragon, and E. Phillips Oppenheim's The Great Impersonation.  The Bat the show's premier episode.

What an impressive line-up!

Enjoy this episode:

The Bat, based on Rinehart's 1908 novel The Circular Staircase, premiered as a play in 1920 and had two Broadway revivals, in 1937 and 1953.  Three movies were based on the play, in 1926, 1930, and 1959.  (Artist Bob Kane has credited the 1930 film as an inspiration for his Batman comic book character.)  There were also two television films besides the Dow Hour episode, in 1953 and (in Germany) in 1978.  In 1926, the play was novelized (re-novelized?) as a novel as The Bat by Mary Roberts Rinehart; it has long been rumored that this novelization was ghosted by Stephen Vincent  Benet.  In 1933, RCA Victor released The Bat as one of the first recorded books.  Libravox has issued a sound recording of the novelization of the play, read by Alan Winterrowd.  The link to the Libravox recording is below:

Monday, August 25, 2014


Peggy Seeger.


  • Forrest J. Ackerman, editor, Best Science Fiction for 1973.  SF anthology with eight stories and one essay (Fredrik Pohl's Guest of Honor speech for the 30th World Science Fiction Convention).  This was Ackerman's only outing editing a contemporary best-of-the-year SF anthology; some years later he did edit a best-of anthology for 1926 -- the year the first strictly SF magazine was founded.  Also, GoshWow! (Sense of Wonder) Science Fiction, an anthology of 19 SF stories dating from 1923 to 1935.  Some good stuff and some clunkers interspersed with contemporary comments and Ackerman's reminiscing about the good ol' days.
  • J. G. Ballard, Cocaine Nights.  Novel.
  • Diana G. Gallagher, Buffy the Vampire Slayer:  Spark and Burn.  Television tie-in novel.  This one is based on 25 (!) episodes of Buffy and 3 (!) episodes of Angel.
  • Alyssa Maxwell, Murder at the Breakers.  Historical mystery set in 1895 Newport Rhode Island.  (I've visited the Vanderbilt mansion The Breakers several times and never stumbled across a murder victim.  Just as well.)
  • Christopher G. Moore, The Risk of Infidelity Index.  A Vincent Calvino mystery.  The author should not be confused with the satirist Christopher Moore.
  • "Ellery Queen." Ellery Queen's International Case Book.  Collection of 20 true crime articles from The American Weekly, 1954 and 1955.
  • Christopher Stasheff, The Warlock's Last Ride.  The thirteenth (and final) fantasy novel in the Warlock series.
  • Don Winslow, The Winter of Frankie Silver.  Crime novel.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Dorothy Fadiman has produced documentaries about a wide range of social problems.  Although concentrating on the 2006 presidential election, this 2008 film also touches on the elections of 1996, 2000, and 2002, as well as other elections held in 2006.  

An interesting nonpartisan take.


The Jubalaires

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Roger Miller.


From Lev Gleeson Publications comes a pre-Marvel Daredevil.  This Daredevil is named Bart Hill and his head-to-toe costume is a two-toned vertically bisected one -- the right half is in blue and the left in red.  Issue #37 boasts "2 FULL LENGTH DAREDEVIL STORIES."  Well, not quite.  The first features The Little Wise Guys, a young group of street kids who often assist Daredevil.  This time out The Little Wise Guys are basically on their own with Daredevil making only a token appearance, touting the importance of justice.  Yorky Tate, a kid who plays ball with the Wise Guys, gets involved with burglary, an act that escalates to murder, and the Wise Guys feel it their duty to see the case to its end.  Daredevil takes a more active role in the second care, involving embezzlement, blackmail, and tax fraud.  Both tales were written by Charles Biro, who also edits the comic.  Aside from his costume, I can't see much of the superhero in this Daredevil, certainly neither the acrobatic prowess and extrasensory "radar" that Matt Murdock displays in the Marvel series.

Also included in this 68-pager are stories about Sniffer (a homely tough thug who decides to go to charm school and is targeted as a patsy by a pair of crooks), Go-Along Gallagher (a young  fighter who looks disturbingly like Joe Palooka), and Dickie Dean (the boy inventor who uses his latest invention, the terraplane, to foil some baddies out to steal a silver mine).

One ad in the issue really impressed me.  Shilling copies of Betty Lee's instruction book "Dancing," also including two free books ("Tip Tip Tapping" and "Swing Steps"), is "Dale Evans, talented young dancing star of Republic Pictures.)  Yep, take a tip from lovely Dale Evans:  "It's Easy To Learn Dancing!"

Click on the link to take a look at a comic that's (marginally) older than I am.

Friday, August 22, 2014


Nat Shilkret & His Orchestra, with vocals by Billy Murray and chorus (1928).


Blood Relations:  The Selected Letters of Ellery Queen, 1947-1950, edited by Joseph Goodrich (2012)

I'm stretching things by calling this a forgotten book:  it's a niche book, neither known to many nor read by many.  And it's fascinating.

First off, let me say that I have always been a fan of Ellery Queen.  The writings and the character developed and changed over the years but, to me, always remained crisp, well-plotted, and ingenious.  Queen, of course, is the pseudonymn of two cousins -- Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee -- and their partnership is legendary for locked horns, arguments, and hurt feelings.  As Dannay put it in one of his letters to Lee, "If the situation between us were put into a book, it would be damned as utterly incredible."

The cousins were both born in Brooklyn in 1905.  Dannay grew up in a small town atmosphere in Elmira, New York, while Lee remained in the tough streets of Brooklyn.  Both cousins were highly competitive and both were prone to feel under appreciated.  Dannay loved mysteries and was a student and a collector of the genre;  Lee was not a big mystery fan and preferred a more realistic and "literary king of writing.  Their collaboration was split was meant to be strictly divided with Dannay devising detailed plotting and Lee doing the actual writing, but Dannay resented when Lee would deviate from his instructions in order to produce his manuscript, and Lee resented Dannay for insisting the outline not be deviated.  Each thought the other undervalued his work in the partnership.  Thus, the fireworks.

Truth be told, both were too sensitive, reading things into their interactions that were not there or blowing things out of proportion.  They were the old married couple who fought bitterly but, at heart, loved each other.  The letters reveal their hypersensitivities and their jealousy while also reveling their deep respect and concern for each other.

The letters included in this volume were culled from the Frederic Dannay Papers in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University.  The years covered are from the middle years of their so-called Third Period (1942-1958), which began with the publication of Calamity Town and ended twelve books later with The Finishing Stroke.  The letters specifically cover the plotting and writing of Ten Days Wonder, Cat of Many Tails, and The Origin of Evil, with very brief mention of Double, Double.  During most of this time the cousins were separated by a continent, with Lee living in California while Dannay lived in New York.  Both cousins were undergoing health problems that they either downplayed or tried to hide from the other.  Dannay, a widower, had just remarried and in 1948 a son, Stephen, was born with severe disabilities (Stephen died in 1954 at age six).  Lee was undergoing severe depression, had married his second wife and was struggling with integrating two families while medical bills were draining his resources.

The letters in Blood Relations cover all this while detailing what goes into plotting and writing a book.  (Well, not just any book, an Ellery Queen book!)  For anyone interested in the process of creation, these letters are a goldmine.  For anyone interested in one of the most unique relationships in literature, This book is a must.

And, for an Ellery Queen fan (me!), this book is a sad reminder that much of their work is out of print and that many of today's readers have never had the joy of matching wits with Ellery Queen.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Austin Lounge Lizards.


A chilling episode from the Canadian horror anthology series Nightfall.  The series ran for three years from 1980-1983 and 101 episodes (including two BBC rebroadcasts); "Love and the Lonely One" was the first program in the series and aired on July 4, 1980.  It was written by John Graham and hosted by "the mysterious Luther Krants," a character created by executive producer Bill Howell and who was played by Henry Ramer.

Now sit back, relax, and discover why medical students should never pull a prank with an old woman's corpse.

For more information on the series, go here:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Danny and the Juniors.


Fifteen terrible Game of Thrones jokes:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Dion and the Belmonts.


From the 1864 poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson comes the tale of a shipwrecked sailor (Arden) who returned home ten years after being thought to have been lost at sea, only to find his wife has remarried and lives blissfully with Arden's childhood friend.  Not wanting to disturb the happiness of his wife and children, Arden sneaks away without announcing himself.  He dies a sad, lonely man.

Does anyone else think downer?  Noble, perhaps, but a definite downer.  Sorta like Sydney Carton heading off to the guillotine.

Directed by D. W. Griffith (who also has an uncredited role as Walter Fenn), this version stars Alfred Paget in the title role, Lillian Gish as his wife Annie Lee, and Wallace Reid as Annie's new husband. (An earlier [1911] version of the film was directed by Christy Cabanne and featured D. W. Griffith's wife, Linda Arvidson.)

British-born Paget, whose silent film career lasted the dozen years from 1908 and 1919, was featured in 244 films, mostly in character roles.

Gish, of course, was one of the great legends in cinema.  She began acting on the stage at age 6 and, with her sister Dorothy, has a storied stage career until 1912 when she began making films for D. W. Griffith. She appeared in two of Griffith's most famous films, The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance.
  Gish's career concentrated mainly on the stage in the Thirties.  Three years after her return to films in 1943, she received an Acadeny Award nomination for Duel in the Sun.  She continued making films until 1987, including a fantastic performance in 1955's Night of the Hunter.

Handsome Wallace Reid (1891-1923) appeared in 214 films beginning in 1910, as well as directing 70 shorts.  His screen image was that of the ideal American man, masking a tortured private life.  An alcoholic, he became addicted to morphine after being treated with the drug after being injured in a train crash, spending his last years in and out of hospitals and sanitariums.  He died, of influenza, at age 31 in his wife's arms in a santarium.  IMDB notes that Reid was the third major Paramount star to be involved in a scandal in 1922*.

One of the children was played by an uncredited Mildred Harris.  Harris, at on time one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, had a brief but interesting life.  At age seventeen, she became Charlie Chaplin's first wife; their son was born with severe disabilities and died when he was three years old.
In 1922, she and Chaplin divorced and she began an affair with the Prince of Wales.  She had a major impact on history when she introduced the prince to Wallace Simpson.  She married and divorced twice more, dying shortly after the third divorce at age 42.

Hollywood is full of all sorts of stories, happy and sad.

Here's one of the sad ones.

*The other two scandals involved the murder of William Desmond Taylor and the third Fatty Arbuckle trial, for those keeping score.

Monday, August 18, 2014


From 1922, vaudevillians Ed Gallagher and Al Shean.


  • Edward Abbey, The Best of Edward Abbey, a selection from ten of the author's books, both fiction and non-fiction, and Black Sun, a novel.
  • Piers Anthony & Philip Jose Farmer, The Caterpillar's Question.  SF novel.  In an afterword Anthony explains the convoluted way the novel came about.
  • Tom Arnett (writing as "Dick Stivers"), Able Team #22:  The World War III Game and #24:  Blood Gambit.  Men's action adventure, a spin-off from the Don Pendleton Executioner/Mack Bolan series.
  • Todhunter Ballard, Loco and the Wolf.  Western by Rex Stout's prolific cousin.
  • Jan Burke, Nine.  Mystery.
  • "Frederick H. Christian" (Frederick Nolan), Stop Angel.  Western, ninth in the series about Frank Angel, a special investigator for the Department of Justice.
  • Reed Farrel Coleman, Walking the Perfect Square.  The first  Moe Prager mystery.
  • John Creasey, The Baron and the Mogul Swords.  A John Mannering/The Baron mystery.  Originally published as A Sword for the Baron under the pseudonym "Anthony Morton." 
  • Lindsey Davis, See Delphi and Die and Shadows in Bronze.  Marcus Didius Falco historical mysteries set in ancient Rome.
  • Jocelynn Drake, Nightwalker.  Urban fantasy/horror.  The first novel in the Dark Days series.
  • Mick Farren, Vickers.  SF.
  • Gregory Fitz Gerald, editor, Neutron Stars.  SF anthology with nine (mostly familiar) stories.
  • Karin Fossum, The Indian Bride.  An Inspector Sejer mystery.  Translated from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund.
  • Alan Dean Foster, Dark Star.  Movie tie-in novel.
  • Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere.  Fantasy.
  • Caroline Graham, The Killings at Badger's Drift.  The first Inspector Barnaby mystery, the basis for the long-running Midsomer Murders television series.
  • William Haggard, A Cool Day for Killing.  A Colonel Charles Russell espionage novel.
  • Naomi H. Hintze, The Stone Carnation.  Supernatural novel.
  • Walter H. Hunt, The Dark Ascent.  Military SF, the third in the Dark Wing series.
  • Kathy Ice, editor, Magic:  The Gathering:  Distant Planes.  Gaming tie-in anthology with 15 stories.
  • Arnaldur Indridason, Jar City (also published as Tainted Blood) and Voices.  Detective Erlendur mysteries.  Both translated from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder.
  • Peter James, Dead Man's Footsteps.  A Roy Grace mystery.
  • K. W. Jeter, Farewell Horizontal.  SF.
  • Diana Wynne Jones, The Chronicles of Crestomanci, Volume I (containing Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant) and Volume II (containing The Witches of Caprona and Witch Week).  YA fantasies.
  • James Patrick Kelly & John Kessel, Freedom Beach.  SF fix-up novel.
  • Andrew Klavan, Man and Wife.  Suspense.
  • Damon Knight, CV.  SF.
  • Damon Knight, editor, The Golden Road,  Fantasy anthology with 19 stories.
  • Mercedes Lackey, The Fire Rose.  Fantasy.  The author's take on the Beauty and the Beast story.
  • R. Karl Largent, The Witch of Sixkill.  Horror.
  • Herbert Lieberman, Shadow Dancers.  Thriller.
  • Jack Livingston, Hell-Bent for Homicide.  A Joe Binney mystery.
  • F. Van Wyck Mason, Trouble in Burma.  A Colonel Hugh North mystery/spy guy novel.  Once upon a time, North was a popular character and Mason was a best-selling author.  Times have changed.  **sigh**
  • Matthew P. Mayo, Double Cross Ranch.  A "Ralph Compton" western.  Compton, of course, is long dead, but his name remains emblazoned in large type on these books.
  • Elizabeth Moon, Remant Population.  SF. 
  • Patricia Moyes, Black Widower.  A Henry Tibbett mystery.
  • "John Norman" (John Lange), Captive of Gor.  SF novel, seventh in the series with a misogynic, male sexual fantasy slant.
  • Joseph D. Olander & Martin Harry Greenberg, editors, Time of Passage:  Science Fiction Stories about Death and Dying,  SF anthology with 15 stories.
  • Jerome Preisler, Homicide:  White Butterflies.  Television tie-in novel.
  • "Ellery Queen," The Woman in the Case.  True crime collection with 19 articles first published in American Weekly from 1958-9.
  • Ruth Rendell, A New Lease of Death.  Mystery.
  • Dusty Richards, Ambush Valley.  Western.
  • John Ringo, Hell's Faire.  Military SF, fourth in the Posteen sequence.
  • Henry Rollins, A Preferred Blur:  Reflections, Inspections and Travel in All Directions.  What can I say?  It's Rollins.  A signed and numbered copy.
  • R. A. Salatore, Homeland.  Gaming (Forgotten Realms) tie-in novel, Book One in the Dark Elf trilogy.
  • Christopher Stasheff, editor, The Day the Magic Stopped.  Fantasy anthology with 13 stories.  Packed by Bill Fawcett & Associates.
  • Whitley Strieber, The Forbidden Zone.  Horror.
  • Thomas Wylde, Roger Zelazny's Alien Speedway:  Pitfall.  SF, the second in a trilogy.  (The first book was written by Jeffrey Carver, the third by Wylde.)

Sunday, August 17, 2014


From 1898 to 1910, animal acts, physical feats, dancers, was much simpler then.


Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Kraus.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Willie Brown.


Joining the bandwagon of MAD imitators comes Get Lost, a snappy parody comic book from Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, the pair who formed Mikeross Publications.

Takeoffs in this premier issue include Shane "Strain," Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde "Dr. Jerkyll Became Mr. Hide," I, the Jury "Me?  The Verdict?," and Flash Gordon "Ace of Space," featuring Four-Flush Gordon.

Somewhat dated and not the greatest, but still pretty funny.

Friday, August 15, 2014


Our current cable television package has too many channels that we don't (or will ever) use, so I called the Comcast 800 number number and was told that I could downgrade my package at my local Comcast office. I went there yesterday and was told that the people working in the office were only allowed to upgrade television packages, and not downgrade them.

I finally got that settled and was given a digital adapter ("It's easy and fast to install on your own!") that would allow the downgraded system to work.  (That adapter was something new that Comcast began to require a few months ago.)  The adapter would be free for a time (no one knew how long because, well, you know, it depends), after which there would be a monthly charge (probably just $1.99, maybe).

Got home and discovered I had to connect the cable wire to the adapter and the adapter to the television.  Guess what they did not give me?  The cable to hook up to the television.

(By the way, it's a half-hour trip to the Comcast office.)

Go figure.


Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra.


The Werewolf:  In Legend, Fact & Art by Basil Copper (1977)

Following the success of his 1973 book The Vampire:  In Legend, Fact & Art, Basil Copper decided to continue the theme of writing companion volumes about legendary monsters, beginning with the werewolf.  For reasons unknown Copper never published a third volume.

Copper plays a bit loose in his definition of lycanthropy, adding information about a number of different man-into-beasts throughout the book.  (He considers Elwart T. Jones' How Now, Brown Cow to be a novel of lycanthropy, for example; the book is actually about a lady who turns into a cow.) 

The werewolf as an archetypal model is found in many ancient civilizations where natural things were often given supernatural origins.  They have been used as demonic symbols to bolster the authority of the Church.  People who confessed to being werewolves (or witches, or warlocks, or even vampires) did so under psychological duress, often believing their confessions to be true.

Then, too, the deprivations of real wolves were sometimes credited to werewolves.  A person with excessive body hair may be accused of being a werewolf.  There are psychological abnormalities that might make one act like a wolf.  Copper also uncovers a rare type of genetic porphyria, dubbed "the Werewolf Disease," that may explain the prevalence of so-called werewolves in certain areas of Europe.  And there are recorded examples of feral children -- those supposedly raised by animals -- who never gain most human attributes.  The werewolf legends can be traced to these sources.

All of this makes fascinating reading, but for those who appreciate Copper's other books -- particularly his horror and gothic stories -- his examination of the werewolf theme in literature is telling.

Prior to the nineteenth century, literature has generally overlooked the werewolf, the exceptions being works such as William and the Werewolf in the fourteenth century.  Maturin, Weber, Marryat, Dumas, and Sutherland Menzies all briefly touched on the theme, but it was penny-a-worder George W. M. Reynolds who brought the theme full flower with his Wagner, the Wehrwolf, published over a year and a half as a 77-chapter penny dreadful.  Dreadful, indeed, but it remains a fascinating read.

For Copper, though, the werewolf novel reached its literary peak with Guy Endore's The Werewolf of Paris (1933).  Copper spends over 20 pages and two chapters gushing over this novel like a fannish schoolboy, liberally sprinkling superlatives throughout his discussion of the book.  It's a good book, no doubt, but many of the things he raves about can be found in his own work.  Objective?  No, but telling in how Copper approached many of his horror and gothic stories.

Copper then spends some time discussing individual stories by Stevenson, Bierce, Blackwood, and Gilbert Campbell before moving on to the werewolf in the cinema, particularly The Werewolf of London, The Wolfman, and The Curse of the Werewolf.  The latter Copper found to be extremely gush-worthy; no wonder, it was based (loosely) on Endore's novel.

All in all, The Werewolf:  In Legend, Fact & Art is a mixed bag, a journey through werewolf lore perhaps tainted by the author's preferences.  I prefer to think of this journey as Copper's personal one, along the same line as what Stephen King did in Danse Macabre.  For all its flaws, the book is interesting and will lead the reader to a number of good works, both fictional and non-fictional, on the subject.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Leonidus Witherall was a teacher at a New England boys' school and an amateur detective extraordinaire cum mystery novelist in a series of eight books written by Phoebe Atwood Taylor (1909-1976) under her "Alice Tilden" pseudonym.  Taylor is perhaps best known for her mysteries about Asey Mayo, the  Codfish Sherlock; Mayo's Yankee common sense throughout 24 books made him one of the most popular detectives of his time.  Witherall's adventures are more farcical than Mayo's, and readers got caught up with the madcap pace of the novels that eshewed plot for action.

The Adventures of Leonidus Witherall aired on the Mutual Broadcasting for a little under a year, from 1944 to 1945 with one of the mainstays of the American stage, Walter Hampden, in the title role.

The link takes you to seven episodes: "Square Nazi Jack Boot" (the first episode in the series), "Mrs. Mullet Disappears," "Murder at Dandy's Dream," "Murder at the State Fair," "Murder on the Train" (and, no, everybody on the train did not do it), "The Corpse Meets a Dealine," and "The Four Killers."


Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Fats Domino.


A blonde joke;

A blonde was just about at the end of her rope so she knelt down and prayed:  "Dear God, I've lost my business.  I have no money.  I can't pay my rent and I'm facing eviction.  Please, Lord, let me win the lottery this week!"

The week passed and someone else won the lottery, so she prayed again:  "Oh, God, my situation is getting worse.  I've been evicted from my apartment and the bank is about to repossess my car.  Please, please, God, let me win the lottery this week!"

That week passed and the blonde did not win the lottery, so for the third time:  "Oh, God, why have you not answered my prayers.  I've lost my business.  I've lost my car.  And I just lost my car.  I don't know if I can take any more!  My faith in you is weakening.  Please, this week let me win the lottery so all my problems will be solved!"

Suddenly the sky opened up and a thunderous voice from the heavens pealed out:  "Meet me half-way, Blondie.  Buy a lottery ticket for once!"

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


(Robin Williams, of course, first gained prominence as the spaceman Mork from Ork.)

The Byrds.


We lost another great one yesterday.

Monday, August 11, 2014


Ella Jenkins.


  • John Barth, The Development.  Nine stories about the denizens of a gated community on the Chesapeake Bay.
  • James Lee Burke, The Tin Roof Blowdown,  A Dave Robicheaux mystery.  Dave faces the aftermath of Katrina.
  • Lee Falk (ghost-written by Basil Copper), The Story of the Phantom:  The Ghost Who Walks.  Comic strip tie-in novel, the first in a series of fifteen published by Avon in the early '70s and written by various authors.
  • "Sean Flannery" (David Hagberg), The Zebra Network.  Spy-guy.
  • Arthur H. Lewis, Hex.  True crime.  Witchcraft and murder in 1928 Pennsylvania.
  • [The Museum of Television and Radio], Jack Benny:  The Radio and Television Work.  An over-sized book produced in conjunction with an exhibition of the same title at the Museum in 1991.  Edited by Ellen O'Neill.  Benny always makes me laugh.
  • John Ringo, A Hymn Before Battle and Gust Front.  Military SF, the first two books in the Posleen series.
  • Karen Russell, Vampires in the Lemon Grove.  Collection with eight stories, many of them verging into fantasy.
  • David Thompson, Wilderness #50:  People of the Forest.  Western.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Well, maybe not every day...but let the Crazy Russian Hacker show you the best way to dunk Oreos into milk and nine other tips that might make your life just a little bit easier.


Bill and Gloria Gaither.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Woody Guthrie.


Captain Midnight was originally former World War I army pilot Captain Jim "Red" Albright, now head of the Secret Squadron, a paramilitary group of fliers formed to fight espionage and sabotage just prior to World War II.  The radio show ran from 1938 to 1939.  Once America entered the war, the Secret Squadron focused on unconventional Axis villains on an international stage.  Postwar, the Secret Squadron focused on crooks as well as spies.  (Albright, by the way, was called Captain Midnight because he returned from an  extremely dangerous mission at the stroke of midnight.)

Captain Midnight drew a large audience, split down the middle between adults and kids.  This led to a short-lived comic book from Dell in 1941 and a longer-living one from Fawcett from 1942 to 1948.  Fawcett's Captain Midnight differed greatly from the radio series.  Here, he was a brilliant inventor wearing a tight red suit and with an array of marvelous inventions.

Also in 1942, the Captain began being featured in his own comic strip.  This one followed the radio show rather closely.  The same year, a 15-part movie serial was released with Dave O'Brien in the title role.  Gone from the serial were the Secret Squadron and the Captain wore a mask to protect his identity as Albright.

Most familiar to many of us was the television show starring Richard Webb which ran from 1954 to 1956, with Sid Melton as Midnight's assistant Ikky and Olan Soule as scientist "Tut" Jones.  For copyright reasons, the show and the title character were renamed Jet Jackson and the new name was dubbed over in the worst possible way whenever Captain Midnight had been uttered in the original show.

In 2010, Moonstone revived the character for one story and Dark Horse brought Captain Midnight back on a planned regular basis in 2013.  Also in 2010, Moonstone published and anthology of new Captain midnight stories as Captain Midnight Chronicles, incorporating elements of the previous versions of the character.

Here, from May 1945, are four tales of America's ace trouble-shooter as he "dons the blazing uniform that spells terror to Axis rats and becomes that iron-fisted fighter for freedom -- CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT!!"

(Also, take a gander at the consulting editor and the editorial advisors listed on page three.  No way this comic book could harm America's impressionable youths.  Take that, you Axis rats!)

Friday, August 8, 2014


Old Blind Dogs.


The Devil in Scotland:  Being Four Great Scottish Stories of Diablerie edited by Douglas Percy Bliss (1934)

To my knowledge this book has never been reprinted after the original London edition from Alexander Maclehouse.  A shame, because this is a lovely book.

The four stories reprinted here are all familiar and are available online from several sites:

  • "Tam O' Shanter" by Robert Burns
  • "Wandering Willie's Tale" by Sir Walter Scott
  • "Thrawn Janet" by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • "The Tale of Tod Lapraik" by Robert Louis Stevenson 
If you have never read any of these. I'd recommend that you do so -- they're all classics in the field.

So why would I recommend a book in which all the stories are commonly available?  Because the 35-page introduction, "The Devil and His Folk in Scottish Life and Literature" by the editor, is worth the price of admission alone.  Add to that the 39 original woodcuts by the editor an you have a book worth savoring.

The copy I read came from the Wellesley College library.  Someone had cut out a long book review from a British newspaper (sorry, no indication which newspaper) and inserted within the pages.

Here's the last  paragraph of the review:

"It was a happy inspiration to produce the four tales together in one book with, perhaps for the first time, illustrations in a concatenation according, and not the familiar 'tidy grey engraving.' with the tucks of the cutty sark let decently down.  These are, as they almost have to be, in woodcut, thirty-nine of them, by Mr. Douglas Percy Bliss, who has also prefaced the tales with a lively and learned essay on the Devil and his folks in Scots life and letters.  The engravings fit superbly with the text; their temper varies from the roaring joy of Tam at the glorious stage, the yelling leap of the witches through the rain, to the still and terror-stricken candle-light of Hutcheon and Dougal hearing the dead laird's whistle; and their decorative pattern is perfectly matched by the magnificent Plantin type, that on fine parchment paper exactly keeps the tone with the strong black and white of the woodcuts:  it has the force and colour of black-letter and the bold clearness of a Roman inscription.  The delicious jacket* of bogles is impishly worthy, and even the smoke-grey and fire-red of the boards have a shrewd diablerie in the curves of their marbling.  The book, in fact, is a collector's piece, in everything but the surprising price**. No man who prides himself on a palate for port is likely to leave it on the bookseller's counter."

In short, a glorious book.

*Alas, the jacket was not available on the copy I read.
**8s. 6d.  I have no idea what that would translate to in 2014 prices.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Peter and Gordon.


I picked up a book on Jack Benny's radio and television work this week and this got me to go looking for online for some of his shows.

Here are the complete 38 surviving shows from 1939, beginning with the New Year's Day program. Here are Jack, Phil Harris, Eddie Anderson, Mary Livingstone, Kenny Baker (through the June 18 show), and Dennis Day (beginning October 8, replacing Baker).

Please note that there are a few glitches in these recordings.

Enjoy these true radio classics.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


The Holy Modal Rounders.


What do the initials DNA stand for?

National Dyslexics Association.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


George Rose as Major General Stanley in the Joseph Papp production of The Pirates of Penzance, recorded live at Central Park's Delacorte Theater and starring Kevin Kline and Linda Rondstadt.


This short (11 minutes) feature was suggested by Poe's "A Cask of Amontillado," or by "La Grande Breteche"  by Balzac, or perhaps by both, or maybe neither -- sources (i.e., guesses) differ.

Arthur V. Johnson (1976-1916; he died less than three weeks before his 40th birthday) was a popular actor who appeared in over 325 silent films from 1905 to 1915.  In this film he plays the king of an undisclosed country in an undisclosed time.  His love interest (His queen?  His mistress?  Who knows?) is played by 27-year-old Sarah Bernhardt lookalike Marion Leonard, whose career of over 200 films spanned from 1908 to 1915.

The king, desiring some alone time with his love, seals off a section of the castle to give them privacy, leaving only one entrance.  What the king does not realize is that his gal has been canoodling with the court musician (played by Henry B. Warthall) while he's away.  (Warthall was a respected stage actor before he entered films.  Among the 325-plus films he appeared in were THE BIRTH OF A NATION, WINGS, AFTER MIDNIGHT, and THE DEVIL DOLL; he had been cast to play the High Lama in 1937's LOST HORIZON, but died shortly before filming began.)

While the queen/mistress/whatever and the court musician are dallying in the private room, the king realizes he has been cuckolded.  He orders the room sealed.  (The illicit lovers are too wrapped up in each other to notice -- or even hear -- the masons who seal them up.)  Too late they realize their fate and die from a lack of air in record time, all the while he king laughs and gloats outside their make-shift tomb.

As plots go, it's pretty straightforward.  (Sorry if I spoiled the ending with the above description.)

Directed by D. W. Griffith and written by Frank E. Woods, the film features the single-camera work of G. W. Bitzer.

Look closely and you'll see Mary Pickford as one of the three ladies-in-waiting and Mack Sennett as a soldier.

Monday, August 4, 2014


The Tokens.


  • Dan Abnett, Eisenhorn.  Gaming (Warhammer 40,000) tie-in omnibus containing Xenos, Malleus, and Hereticus.
  • Greg Bear, Dinosaur Summer.  SF, a follow-up (of sorts) to Conan Doyle's The Lost World.
  • Leonard Bishop, The Everlasting.  Fantasy about reincarnation.
  • Campbell Black, The Piper and The Wanting.  Horror.
  • William V. Blankenship, Brotherly Love.  Horror.
  • Ben Bova, Voyagers III:  Star Brothers.  SF.  In case you couldn't tell, this one is the third in a series.
  • Chaz Brenchley, The Devil in the Dust.  Fantasy, the First Book of Outremer.
  • Art Buchwald, Irving's Delight.  "A cat story for the whole family."
  • Michael Cavallaro, adapter, L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz:  The Graphic Novel.  An interesting take on the classic.
  • Glen Cook, Bleak Seasons.  Fantasy, Book One of Glittering Stone, a Black Company sequence.
  • Basil Copper, The Story of the Phantom:  The Slave Market of Mucar.  Comic book tie-in novel, based on an original story by Lee Falk.  This is the second (of three) Copper wrote for the Avon Books series in the early Seventies.  The other twelve books in the series were written by Ron Goulart, Bruce Cassiday, Warren Shanahan, and Falk himself.
  • [Detective Book Club], two omnibuses:  Velda Johnston's The People from the Sea, Michael Underwood's Smooth Justice, & Robert B. Parker's Wilderness, and Velda Johnston's The Silver Dolphin, Michael Underwood's Anything But the Truth, & Robert L. Fish's Pursuit.
  • Gordon R. Dickson, Invaders and The Man the World Rejected.  SF collections with eight stories each.
  • "Lesley Egan" (Elizabeth Linington), Chain of Violence and Nightmare.  The first is a Vic Varallo mystery, the second, an Edgar nominated novel first published as by "Anne Blaisdell."
  • Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, April 1993.  Tony Hillerman's photo graces the cover.
  • Herb Fisher, Doctor Death #3:  Slaughter Island.  Men's action adventure novel.  Not to confused with Doctor Death's featured in the old pulps.  Fisher may be a pen name.
  • Ken Follett, The Shakeout.  Thriller.
  • George MacDonald Fraser, Flashman.  The first in the beloved series featuring Harry Flashman, the school bully from Thomas Hughes' Tom Brown's School Days, soon to become the greatest cad to serve in Her Majesty's army.  
  • Zane Grey, Wanderer of the Wasteland.  Western.
  • Parnell Hall, $10,000 in Small Unmarked Puzzles.  A Puzzle Lady mystery.
  • Cliff Howe, Scoundrels, Fiends and Human Monsters.  Non-fiction with fifteen true crime accounts,  An old Ace paperback from 1958.
  • John Jakes & Martin H. Greenberg, editors, New Trails.  Western anthology with 23 stories.
  • William W. Johnstone, Cat's Cradle.  Horror.
  • William King, The Space Wolf Omnibus.  Gaming (Warhammer 40,000) tie-in omnibus containing Space Wolf, Ragnar's Claw, and Grey Hunter.
  • Louis L'Amour, Brionne, Chancy, The Cherokee Trail, Dark Canyon, The Empty Land, Guns of the Timberland, Heller with a Gun, The High Graders, Hondo, Killoe,  Last Stand at PapagoWells, Matagorda, North to the Rails, The Quick and the Dead, Radigan, The Sackett Brand, Shalako, Showdown at Yellow Butte, Taggart, To Tame a Land, To the Far Blue Mountains, Utah Blaine, and Where the Long Grass Blows.  Westerns all. Also, Monument Rock, a collection of seven western stories, and West from Singapore, a collection of seven adventure stories.  Yeah, there was a box of Louis L'Amours priced at four dollars.  These are the ones I'm keeping; 22 others were duplicates.
  • Barry N. Malzberg & Bill Pronzini, editors, The End of the Summer:  Science Fiction of the Fifties.  SF anthology with ten stories.
  • Mabel Maney, The Case of the Good-For-Nothing Girlfriend.  Gay detective pastiche featuring Nancy Clue and Cherry Aimless.  Great fun.  Maney also writes about The Hardly Boys.
  • Ellen Kindt McKenzie, Taash and the Jesters.  Juvenile fantasy, an ALA Notable Book.
  • Marcia Muller, Cyanide Wells.  A Sharon McCone mystery.
  • Andrew Neiderman, Child's Play.  Horror.
  • Jo Nesbo, The Redeemer.  A Harry Hole mystery, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.
  • "Clarissa Ross" (W. E. Dan Ross), Glimpse Into Terror.  Gothic.
  • Michael & Teri Williams, The Dark Queen.  Gaming (DragonLance) tie-in novel, Volume VI in the Villains series.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Doug Kershaw.


This is a pretty neat issue with lotsa slam-bang action and crudely drawn and lettered stories.  A number of the pages aren't colored, or are partially colored, but that just adds to the charm.

I loved it!

And check out the ads on the inside back cover for some cool series books:  The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Don Sturdy, The Lone Ranger, The X-Bar-X Boys, Ted Scott, Jerry Todd, Beverly Grey, Judy Bolton, The Dana Girls, and more.

Friday, August 1, 2014


Illustrator Ed Cartier was born this day in 1914.  He first knocked out with his header for the Brass Tacks department in Astounding/Analog.  I soon began looking for his distinctive style and was never disappointed.  He died in 2008, leaving a hole in science fiction and fantasy illustration.


Tom Chapin (Bless him!).


The Other Passenger:  18 Strange Stories  by John Keir Cross (1944)

John Keir Cross (1914-1967) was a prolific writer for BBC radio who later moved to television, adapting such books as John Wyndham's The Kraken Wakes and Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities and The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  He also edited three well-respected horror anthologies.  Along the way, he wrote a number of juvenile books (some as "Stephen Macfarlane"); I reviewed The Angry Planet and The Red Journey Back as Forgotten Books in January 2012.

In the US he is probably best known for The Other Passenger, his second (of two) story collections and the only one published under his name.  Lippincott published the American edition in 1946, but it was the Ballantine paperback Stories from The Other Passenger in 1961 that most people remember.  It was one of the Ballantine horror series with the great Richard Powers covers that grabbed your attention from the get-go and then let the stories take you down strange and wondrous paths.

The stories? They're good.  Some are damned good.  In my mind I can't help comparing them to the stories in another book, Tomato Cain by fellow BBC writer Nigel Kneale  and the Cross stories fall a little bit short of those by Kneale -- just a little bit.  And, from me, that's great praise.

Here's the line-up with the stories from the Ballantine edition marked by an asterisk:
  • The Glass Eye*
  • Petronella Pan
  • The Last of the Romantics*
  • Clair de Lune*
  • Absence of Mind
  • Hands*
  • Another Planet
  • Liebestraum
  • Miss Thing and the Surrealist*
  • Valdemosa
  • Amateur Gardening
  • The Little House*
  • Esmeralda
  • Music When Soft Voices Die
  • Cyclamen Brown
  • Couleur de Rose
  • The Lovers*
  • The Other Passenger*
Copies of the full collection are available from on-line sellers, starting in the $20 range.  The paperback is (of course) available for less.

Give it a try.  I think you'll be impressed.