Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, April 30, 2015


Born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien in 1939, Dusty Springfield was one of the most popular and talented female singers of the Sixties.  Over her forty year career she had six top 20 singles in the United States and sixteen in her native England.  As for her personal life, it's as if the fates had conspired against her,  She had a history of alcoholism, drug abuse, and self-harming. Early in her career she was concerned that being a lesbian would harm her career but by 1970 she bravely came out.  She was also a successful record producer.  She died much too soon at age fifty-nine following a recurrence of breast cancer.

She began singing with her brother Tom.  She soon joined the girl group The Lana Sisters.  One of their best-known songs was "(Seven Little Girls) Sitting on the Back Seat"

After three years with The Lana Sisters, Dusty left to form the folk rock group The Springfields.

In November 1963 -- a month after The Springfields held their final concert -- Dusty released her first single, which reached number 4 on the British charts and sold over a million copies.

From that point on the songs just kept pouring out.

Finally, here's Dusty introducing another group, then interviewing them between the two songs in the set.  (Gosh.  Were we ever that young?)


"Philo Vance needs a kick in the pance."  Thus was the snobbiest of Golden Age detectives described by Ogden Nash.   Hard to believe, but there was a time when S.S. van Dine's sleuth was one of the most popular fictional detectives in the world.  He's still fun to read (in moderate doses, IMHO).  And he's still fun to listen to (Again, in moderate doses.)'s a passel of episodes from the 1948-1950 radio series starring Jackson Beck as Vance.  Pick an episode and enjoy,

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Bobby Darin from 1959.  A great talent.


Famous stripper Ann Corio (1914-1999) appeared in only five movies, four of which were aptly titled:  Swamp Girl, Sarong Girl, The Sultan's Daughter, and this one, Jungle Siren.  (The fifth movie, Call of the Jungle, has Corio playing the white jungle girl, Tana.)  Corio's acting talents aside, she was a natural for wearing skimpy costumes on the screen.  In Jungle Siren, she's plays Kuhlaya, a girl raised in the jungle (skimpy costume) who aids the film's hero in stopping a Nazi plot to start a native uprising.

And the hero?  None other than Buster Crabbe, Olympic swimmer and former Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers.  Crabbe plays Captain Gary Hart, a guy who seems to wander aimlessly with his buddy Sgt. Mike Jenkins until they meet Kuhlazi and face an evil Nazi and his witchdoctor buddy.  The Santa Anita Park Race Track Botanical Gardens plays the jungle.

Not a movie with an intricate plot, nor great dialogue,   Jiust good old-fashioned Saturday matinee fodder.


Monday, April 27, 2015


Today is the 99th birthday of baseball great Enos Slaughter.

To celebrate, here's the Ventures doing a well-known Richard Rogers number.


  • Alcott Anderson, The White Stone, a Mystical Novel from Early Ireland.  No description from the back cover blurb except that the book "joins the list of significant works in which a memorable tale imparts a larger meaning."  That, and the fact that the novel is published by a company named Cosmic Connections does not bode well.
  • Kingsley Amis, The Alteration.  Alternate history SF.
  • C. Dean Andersson, Torture Tomb.  Horror.
  • Kelley Armstrong, The Summoning.  YA fantasy, Book One of the Darkest Powers series.
  • Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, and  Charles G. Waugh, editors, Encounters.  SF anthology with 16 stories.
  • Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Demon in My View.  YA fantasy published when the author was 15.  (She wrote her first published novel when she was 13.  Part of me hates precocious children.)
  • Robin W. Bailey, Philip Jose Farmer's The Dungeon, Volume 4:  The Lake of Fire.  Fantasy in a multi-author series based on a concept by Farmer.
  • L. Frank Baum, The Treasury of Oz, 15-in-1 Omnibus.  Omnibus containing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, The Road to Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, The Patchwork Girl of Oz, Little Wizard Stories of Oz, Tik-Tok of Oz, The Scarecrow of Oz, Rinkitink in Oz, The Lost Princess of Oz, The Tin Woodman of Oz, The Magic of Oz, and Glinda of Oz.  That's all of Baum's Oz books except 1905's The Woggle-Bug Book, which is not very politically correct and contains many ethnic stereotypes.  (1960's The Visitors from Oz was a collection of rewritten stories of some comic strip continuities Baum wrote in 1904-5.)
  • Greg Bear, Dead Lines.  Horror.
  • "M. C. Beaton" (Marion Chesney), Death of Yesterday.  A Hamish Macbeth mystery.
  • Ben Bova, Prometheans.  Collection of 16 SF stories and articles.
  • Richard Bowes, The Queen, the Cambion, and Seven Others.  Collection of eight fantasy stories.
  • Allison Brennan, Cold Swap.  A Kincaid family thriller.
  • Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Colony.  Television franchise tie-in.  A "Stake Your Destiny" book, which is evidently Buffyverse-speak fo "Choose Your Own Adventure."
  • Jim Butcher, Furies of Calderon, Academ's Fury, Cursor's Fury, and Captain's Fury. Fantasy, the first foubooks of the Codex Alera sequence.
  • Lou Cameron, The First Blood.  WWII war novel.
  • "Nick Carter" (house name), Nick Carter 100.  The hundreth (?*) Killmaster book in the series.  This one contains a new novel (Dr. Death, ghosted by Craig Nova), a reprint of the first novel in the series (Run, Spy, Run, ghosted by Michael Avallone and Valerie Moolman -- although Moolman's contribution has been disputed in some quarters), and an 1895 short story featuring the original Nick Carter ("A Preposterous Theft," perhaps ghosted by Frederick Van Rensselaer Dey, perhaps not).
  • Mary Higgins Clark, Nighttime Is My Time and On the Street Where You Live.  Two from the "Queen of Suspense."
  • Max Allan Collins, Dick Tracy and the Nightmare Machine, a graphic novel, and Early crimes, a collection with two early stories and Shoot the Moon, an unpublished novel from the Eighties.
  • Bruce Coville, Philip Jose Farmer's The Dungeon, Volume 2:  The Dark Abyss.  Fantasy in a multi-author series based on a concept by Farmer.
  • William R. Cox, Cemetery Jones and the Dancing Guns.  Western, the third in the series.
  • Leif Davidsen, The Woman from Bratislava.  Thriller.  Translated from the Danish by Barbara J. Haveland.
  • Charles de Lint, Philip Jose Farmer's The Dungeon, Volume 5:  The Hidden City.  Fantasy in a  multi-author series based on a concept by Farmer.
  • Ron Dee, Succumb.  Horror.
  • Gardner Dozois, editor, The Year's Best Science Fiction:  First Annual Collection.  SF anthology of 25 stories from 1983, with a summation of the year by Dozois.  Dozois previously had five other "Best of" collections, continuing from editor Lester del Rey.  The first three collections in this newer series were published by Bluejay Books before the series moved to St. Martin's Press.  The Bluejay collections are rather rare.
  • C. S. Forester, Commander Hornblower.  Historical novel, the eighth in the Hornblower saga.
  • Ken Goddard, The Alchemist.  Crime novel.
  • Georgette Heyer, Detection Unlimited, Lady of QualityPenhallow, They Found Him DeadThe Unfinished Clue, and Why Shoot a Butler?  Kitty is a big Georgette Heyer fangirl.  We picked these up so she could be reunited with some old friends.
  • Tami Hoag, Deeper Than the Dead.  A Tony Mendez mystery.
  • Hans Holzer, Inside Witchcraft.  Occult bushwah.
  • Rich Horton, editor, The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2011.  SF anthololgy with 28 stories, the third in Horton's combined annual series (previously he had separate volumes for science fiction and for fantasy).
  • "Celia Jerome" (Barbara Metzger), Trolls in the Hamptons.  Humorsous fantasy.
  • Bill Knox, The Interface Man.  A Colin Thane, Scottish Crime Squad mystery.
  • Richard Laymon, Come Out Tonight.  Horror.
  • Robert Joseph Levy, Buffy the Vampire Hunter:  The Suicide King.  Television tie-in Stake-Your-Destiny book.
  • "Elizabeth Lowell" (Ann Maxwell), Whirlpool.  Thriller originally published under the title The Ruby as by Ann Maxwell.
  • George Mann, editor, The Solaris Book of new Science Fiction, Volume Two.  SF anthology with 15 stories.
  • Peter Maravelis, editor, San Francisco Noir.  Mystery anthology with 15 stories.
  • D. R. McAnally (oh, how I pity that name!), Irish Wonders:  Popular Tales as Told by the People.  Folklore.
  • Ashley McConnell, Days of the Dead.  Horror.
  • Ric Meyers, Living Hell.  Nope, not a life under a Ted Cruz presidency.  This one's a plain ol' horror novel, number 2 in the Book of the Dead sequence.
  • Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden, Joe Golem and the Drowning City.  Fantasy.
  • Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon.  SF/PI mashup.
  • Barbara Neely. Blanche on the Go.  A Blanche White mystery.  Signed.
  • Otto Penzler, editor, Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop.  Anthology of 17 stories published as annual holiday chapbooks from Penzler's Mysterious Bookshop, 1993-2009.
  • Terry Pratchett, The Wit and Wisdon of Discworld.  Compilation of  wise and funny stuff from 36 Discworld novels.  Compiled by Stephen Briggs
  • Roger Price, The Tomorrow People:  Four Into Three.  Television tie-in collection of three YA stories from the Thames Television series of the 1970s.
  • Stan Rice, compiler, Bride of Dark and Stormy, It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, and Son of "It was a Dark and Stormy Night".  Sample entries from the annual Bulwer-Lytton contest.  Atrociously good first lines for nonexistant stories.
  • Rick Riodan, The Last King of Texas.  Before Percy Jackson made him a gazillionaire wrote some kickbutt mysteries featuring Texas PI Tres Navarre.  Like this one.
  • Peter Rubie, Werewolf.  Horror.
  • A. E. Silas, The Panorama Egg.  SF.
  • Jean Simon, Ghost Boy.  Horror.
  • Thomas E. Sniegoski, Dancing on athe Head of a Pin.  A Remy Chandler fantasy.
  • "S. P. Somtow" (Somtow Sucharitkil), The Aquiliad, Volume I:  Aquila in the New World, Volume II:  Aquila and the Iron Horse. and Volulme III:  Aquila and the Sphinx.  An alternate world SF series.
  • Troy Soos, Streets of Fire.  Historical mystery.  New York City in 1895.
  • Vernor Vinge, Rainbow's End.  SF.
  • Barbara G. Walker, Feminist Fairy Tales.  Collection of 28 fantasy stories.
  • Chris Ware, Novelty Library.  Comic collection.
  • Herman Wouk, Slattery's Hurricane.  Adventure.
*  Wikipedia lists this one as #96 in the series and The Katmandu Contract (by Jim Bowser) as #100.  Go figure.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Neil Giman assures us we have nothing to fear from buttons...


Red Allen, with mandolin by Frank Wakefield.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Written by Louis Prima and performed by The Benny Goodman Orchestra, it's good, good, good.


My grandson Mark turns 15 today.  How the heck did that happen?  It seems like he was just learning to walk yesterday.  Half marathon coming up next Sunday.

He lives for soccer and running.  He's quiet, kind, and has a fantastically dry sense of humor.  And, girls, he's good-looking!

On the negative side, sometimes he forgets to turn in his homework.  (It's always done.  That's the importnt part, isn't it?  Isn't it?)

Life without Mark would be very drab and dismal.

Mark is the kid you point to and say, "I'm so proud of you!"

We love him with every fiber of our being.

15 is a fabulous year, Mark, enjoy it to the hilt.

Here's some things you would never do:

And a few more things you would never do:


Granddaughter Amy turned 17 last Saturday.  To celebrate that morning, she took her driver's license test...and passed!

Beautiful, smart, talented, funny,,,she melts my heart.

Amy, your ukelele is on its way.

Happy Birthday!


Once again, famed inventor Captain Jim "Red" Albright dons his costume to become Captain Midnight to fight evil and save democracy!

  • Mad scientist Barlow Craig vows to destroy America with floods.  Can Captain Midnight and his latest invention, the "Evaporator," foil the plans of a madman?*
  • Jagga, the Space Raider from Pluto, comes to plunder Earth.  Can Captain Midnight defeat this extraterrestial baddie in an epic battle on the planet Mars?*
  • Ichabod Mudd, Captain Midnight's trusted assistant, decides to become an author.  To get inspiration, Icky walks the street as "Sergeant Twilight," seeking danger --  finds it!  Can Sergeant Twilight stop the Mad Maniac before he bombs the city?*
  • Doctor Osmosis, king of the smugglers, has captured Captain Midnight despite Midnight's use of secret "Chameleon Oil" and left him bound in a rat-infest sewer.  Will Midnight be ravaged by rodents or will he escape and put paid to another criminal career?*
Also in this issue Sam Spade solves "The Case of the Tell-Tale Comb" in an ad for Wildroot Cream Oil, Pokey Joe wins a baseball game with the help of his P-F Flyers, we learn that the new Eveready flashlight battery last 93% longer (with enough energy to hit two hundred home runs), Thom McAn and his magic "Bazooka-Shoes" take a trip into the past to view a famous sports flub, Little Beaver and Red Ryder tell us the ten sportsman's safety rules when using a Daisy Air Rifle, we learn how to make a model city with a Betty Crocker cereal tray (well, actually six different cereal trays), homerun champ Hank Greenberg is featured in av ad for Wheaties, Pilot Pete has a dream, Bob Feller touts the Popsicle brand treats made in "approved" clean sanitary plants while Popsicle Pete shills for his free Fun Book, seven interesting invention ideas submitted by readers, the Gilette Bicycle Tire Bear givves us some "Bear Bicycle Facts," Captain Tootsie dresses as a mummy to foil some museum robbers because of the quick energy he got from Tootsie Rolls, in an installment of "Johnny Blair in the Air" there's an unknown stowaway who may know something about the missing engineers, there's an ad for Monark (sic) super bikes, and Red Skye races to stop an execution in a story by R. Gordon Kraus.

An issue pack with adventure and ads!  What more can you ask for?



* You do know these are rhetorical questions, don't you?

Friday, April 24, 2015


Sharon, Lois & Bram sing "Fish & Chips & Vinegar."


In keeping with today's theme, here are the Skatalites,

And a rejected theme song for the Warren Beatty film.

And, finally, the Chants.


Dick Tracy and the Nightmare Machine by Max Allan Collins and Dick Locher (1991)

Here's a quick read culled from the daily comic strip Dick Tracy, slightly revised and edited to fit the paperback format, and published by Torin the wake of the major motion picture release of Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy.  Collins took over the writing duties of the strip in late 1975 following the retirement of the strip's creator, Chester Gould.  Locher, one-time assistant to Gould, began drawing the strip after artist Rick Fletcher died in 1983.

In this story, Tracy has been having nightmares of some of his old villains coming back for vengeance.  In the meantime, Diet Smith Enterprises has been funding research into dreams.  The  is head of the dream research is Dr. Morpheus, a brilliant and, sadly, mad scientist.  One of Diet Smith's advisors, Dr. Citpecs, has been recommending the the Morpheus research be de-funded.  Just as a decision was made, Citpeks dies in his sleep and the Dream Research project has a stay of execution.  Diet introduces Tracy to Morpheus, who tells the detective that he may be able to help him.  Morpheus' theory is that one can learn to control one's dreams and, eventually, two people can share the same dream.  The hope is that, through dream control and sharing, diseases can be cured by convincing the individual mind to erase them -- sort of a high-tech Christian Science-ish approach to disease control.  But, remember, Dr. Morpheus is mad.

One of Morpheus' sleep subjects is hired killer Nick Eramthgin, a.k.a. Nick Nightmare, a.k.a. The Wraith.  The Wraith uses a machine that Morpheus has invented to enter the dreams on his "contracts" and murder them, leaving the victims dead from apparent heart attacks.  Morpheus uses The Wraith to eliminate his own enemies.  Soon Tracy susses all of this, leading to a final showdown against The Wraith in tracy's own dream.

Entering another's dreams is an old science fiction  concept and has been used effectively by John Brunner, Philip K. Dick, and many others.  Collins' use of the theme in a comic strip demonstrates the maturity he brought to Dick Tracy.  Under Gould, Tracy had always been up-to-date (and even up-to-dater) with technological devices.  Toward the end of Gould's run, however, he jumped the shark by introducing a race of moon people and their futuristic technology.  This, combined with efforts to make the strip more "hip" and Gould's increasing conservatism, brought Tracy to his nadir.  Collins managed to eliminate much of this claptrap while keeping Tracy very much up to date.  He sparingly integrated SF tropes into some of the strip's story arcs, beginning with the advent of Putty Face, while honoring the spirit of the strip.  Tract, under Collins, is a more fleshed-out character -- Gould's Tracy would never be so affected by nightmares, for example.  There is more complexity to the strip while still covering a variety of crimes and master criminals, ingenious ways of murder, and unique and deadly traps for Tracy and his fellow detectives.  There remains a tongue-in-cheek hokiness (i.e., giving some shady characters a reversed spelled name -- Dr. Citeps, Nick Eramthgin) and a wry sense of humor in the background.  Plots seem better thought-out than in Gould's day when action scene piled on action scene at a snowballing and careening pace.

The artwork by Locher seems more comic strip-y than Gould's, and perhaps less menacing.  Still, Locher's  art meshes comfortably with Collins' take on the characters.

Enough of comparisons.   Dick Tracy and the Nightmare Machine is an entertaining exercise, guaranteed to please any Tracy fan.

Monday, April 20, 2015


  • Ace Atkins, The Lost Ones.  A Quinn Colson mystery.
  • Steven Barnes, Gorgon Child.  SF.
  • Laurien Berenson, Hush Puppies.  A Melanie Travis mystery.  The cover depicted four pug puppies, so I said "Aaw!" and bought the book.
  • Carl Bowen, Predator & Prey:  Vampire.  Horror novel, Book One in a six-volume multi-author series.  See also Gherbod Fleming, below.
  • Jay Brandon, Loose Among the Lions.  Legal thriller.
  • "Hamilton Caine" (Stephen Smoke), Carpenter, Detective.  Mystery.
  • Lin Carter, Sky Pirates of Callisto.  Fantasy, the third in the Callisto series.
  • Joelle Charbonneau, Skating on the Edge.  A Rebecca Robbins mystery.
  • Sean Chercover, Big City, Bad Blood.  The first Ray Dudgeon PI novel.
  • Martha deMay Clow, Starbreed.  SF.  A first novel.
  • Ned Collier, editor, Great Stories of the West.  Western anthology of fourteen pulp stories from West, collected by a former editor of the magazine.
  • Michael Coney, Mirror Image.  SF.  This was Coney's first novel.
  • Barnaby Conrad & Nico Mastorakis, Keepers of the Secret.  Thriller.  "After two thousand years, it was about to be revealed -- and it could blow the Vatican wide open!"  I think I've seen this plot before...
  • N. J. Crisp, The Gotland Deal.  Mystery.  Another first novel.
  • Freeman Wills Crofts, Crime at Guildford.  An Inspector French mystery.
  • "Peter Dawson" (Jonathan Hurff Glidden), A Pride of Men.  Western.
  • Gardner Dozois, editor, The Year's Best Science Fiction, Sixteenth Annual Collection. SF anthologyof 25 stories from 1998.
  • Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine, Vol. 2, No, 6, January 1965.
  • Barry Eisler, Rain Storm.  Thriller featuring samarai assassin John Rain.
  • Walter Ernsting & Kurt Mahr, Perry Rhodan #4:  Invasion from Space.  SF.  English translation by Wendayne Ackerman of two novellas (the title novella and "Base on Venus").
  • Gherbod Fleming, Predator & Prey:  Judge and Predator & Prey:  Jury.  Horror.  Books Two and Four in a six-volume multi-author series.  See also Carl Bowen, above.
  • "James M. Fox" (Johannes Matthijs Willem Knipscheer), A Shroud for Mr. Bundy.  A Johnny and Suzy Marshall mystery.  This is a Raven House (a short-lived mystery line from Harlequin) paperback with a copyright date of 1981, but according to the Thrilling Detective website, the book is dated 1952 and is the thirteenth of fourteen books in the series.
  • "George G. Gilman" (Terry Harkness), Adam Steele #21:  Wagons East.  Adult western.
  • Christopher Golden, Snowblind.  Horror.
  • "Berkeley Gray" (Edwy Searles Brooks), Countdown for Conquest.  A Norman Conquest thriller.  (Norman Conquest as in the character, not the event.)
  • Robert Greer, The Devil's Hatband.  The first C. J. Floyd mystery.
  • "Brett Halliday" (probably Robert Terrall this time; can anyone verify?), Lady, Be Bad.  a Mike Shayne mystery.
  • "Cyril Hare" (C. P. Gordon Clark), Tragedy at Law.  a Francis Pettigrew mystery.
  • Rick Hautala, Beyond the Shroud.  Horror.  A Wraith:  The Oblivion novel.
  • Simon Hawke, A Mystery of Errors.  A Shakespeare and Smythe Elizabethan mystery.
  • Ernest Haycox, The Wild Bunch.  Western.
  • James Hilton, Lost Horizon,  The classic fantasy of Shangri-La.
  • Del Howinson & Jeff Gelb, editors, Dark Delicasies II:  Fear.  Horror anthology with 19 stories.
  • Dean Ing, Firefight 2000.  SF collection with ten stories.
  • "Michael Innes" (J. I. M. Stewart), Appleby and Honeybath.  Mystery mash-up of the author's two detectives:  Sir John Appleby and artist Charles Honeybath.
  • Captain W. E. Johns, Biggles in the South Seas and Spitfire Parade.  Two novels in the British boys series about air ace Major James Bigglesworth.
  • Will C. Knott, Golden Hawk #7:  The Eyes of the Cat.  Western.
  • Kelly Link, Pretty Monsters.  YA fantasy collection with nine stories.
  • C. S. Lewis, On Stories and Other Essays on Literature.  Collection of 20 essays.
  • "Jake Logan" (house name; don't know who did these), Slocum and the Lakota Lady and Hot on the Trail.  Numbers 279 and 264 in the long-running adult western series.
  • John J. Marcatante & Robert R. Potter, American Folklore and Legends.  A popularization of various folklore stories, designed for school use.
  • John McPartland, Tokyo Doll.  Spy adventure.
  • David Mercer, Stillborn:  A Story About Reincarnation.  Fantasy novel.  My expectations for this one are fairly low.  I have never heard of this author (have you?) and it's a British paperback from a company I have never heard of.  The book announces three forthcoming fantasy/horror novels from the same author; no other books or authors are promoted, (This book has a copyright date -- not a printing date -- of 1991 and the three promoted books are said to be released in 1995 and 1996.  Neither the author nor the publishers are listed in ISFDb.  All of which leads me to believe this may be a self-published vanity item.  **sigh**
  • Mary Ann Mitchell, Quenched.  Horror.  The Marquis de Sade as a vampire in San Francisco.
  • "Robert Morgan" (C. J. Henderson), All Things Under the Moon.  A Teddy London supernatural mystery.
  • Andre Norton, Ralestone Luck and Stand & Deliver.  Two adenture novels.  The first was Norton second published book and this edition (the first paperback) has deceptive cover art that screams "Fantasy!!!"  (It's not.)  The second is a Regency novel.
  • Kevin O'Brien, Make Them Cry.  Thriller.
  • Rebecca Ore, The Illegal Rebirth of Billy the Kid.  SF.
  • James Patterson, Cross My Heart and Kill Alex Cross.  Alex Cross thrillers from the man responsible for more trees being destroyed than Agent Orange.
  • Eliot Pattison, Water Touching Stone.  Mystery featuring Beijing Inspector Shan Tao Yun.
  • John Passarella, Kindred Spirit.  Horror.
  • Tom Paxton, The Story of the Tooth Fairy.  Children's picture book by one of America's musical treasures.
  • Ralph Rambo, Lady of Mystery (Sarah Winchester).  16-page booklet about one of the great eccentrics of California -- the woman responsible for the famous (or infamous) "Winchester House."  This booklet is No. 1 in the Pioneer Series, covering the Santa Clara Valley in its "Pioneer Era."  It's hand-lettered and illustrated by the author, who has written at least a dozen books(? pamphlets? brochures?) about the Santa Clara area and history.  A major drawback (to my mind, anyway) is that this booklet (as well as the eleven others Rambo produced) is published by the Rosicrucian Press, LTD.  Go figure.
  • Trina Robbins, Tender Murderers:  Women Who Kill.  True crime.  22 women you do not want to get mad at you.
  • "Marilyn Ross" (W. E. D. Ross), The Aquarius Curse.  Paperback gothic, complete with young girl running from dark house that has only one window lighted,
  • Alan Ryan, Dead White.  Horror.
  • Fred Saberhagan, A Century of Progress.  Time travel SF.
  • Darrell Schweitzer, We Are All Legends.  Fantasy collection of twelve stories.  Signed.
  • "Luke Short"  (Frederick D. Glidden), Ambush.  Western.
  • Robert Silverberg, editor, Between Worlds.  SF anthology with six stories.
  • "Grant Stockbridge," The Spider, Master of Men! #2.  Omnibus of two pulp novels from The Spider Magazine:  Dictator of the Damned (January 1937) and The Mill-Town Massacres (February 1937).  I presume the author is Norville Page, but I haven't checked.  This book is from the Carroll & Graf series of Spider reprints.
  • Julian  Symons, The Man Who Lost His Wife.  Mystery.  And, as editor, Penguin Classic Crime.  Mystery anthology with 25 stories.
  • Paul Theroux, Chicago Loop.  Thriller.
  • Jessamyn West, The Friendly Persuasion.  The noted novel of Quakers during the Civil War.  West was a cousin of Richard Nixon, but I won't hold that against her.  In fact, we named our first daughter Jessamyn.
  • Colin Wilson, Mysteries:  An Investigation into the Occult, the Paranormal & the Supernatural.  What the title says.  One of Wilson's major interests.
  • Charles Willeford, The Shark-Infested Custard.  Crime novel.
  • Terri Windling, editor, The Armless Maiden and Other Tales for Childhood's Survivors.  A mainly fantasy anthology with 22 stories, 17 poems, and seven memoirs and essays about survivving childhood abuse.  Some strong stuff here.

Friday, April 17, 2015


Scalps by Murray Leinster (1930)

"Murray Leinster," as many of you know, was the pen name of Will. F. Jenkins, who -- until his death -- had the longest-running career for a science fiction writer (his first science fiction story was published in 1919, before the term science fiction existed).  His writing career started before that; his first publication was the short story "The Foreigner" in the May 1916 issue of Smart Set., the first of more than 1500 stories and articles he would publish -- add to that his dozens of books, 14 screenplays, and many television and radio scripts, plus the occasional poem and you have a formidable talent who managed to remain popular for more than 60 years.  Leinster wrote almost every type of fiction.  If there was a market, he probably wrote for it:  SF, mysteries, westerns, romance, sports, adventure...

He wrote under at least eleven names:  Will F. Jenkins (or William Fitzgerald Jenkins), "Murray Leinster," "Willam Fitzgerald" "Louisa Carter Lee," "Joe Gregg," "Rafaele Ybarro," "Earl Stanley Gardner" (note the spelling of the first name), "Kenny Kenmore," "Jean Farquar," "Pepe Gomez," "Burt L. Standish," and "Florinda Martel."  There may have been more.

Scalps was the first of six mystery novels he published, either as "Leinster" or under his own name.  Sammy Dawson runs a four-passenger plane service in Arizona.  He doesn't make a lot of money but earns enough to keep his plane in top condition and a little bit to put away, so when Sammy had an extra $300 and no upcoming bills he decided to take a little vacation to San Francisco.  There, he met a beautiful nightclub singer and went out with her a couple of times.  He didn't know the singer was the girlfriend of a deadly mob boss.  He also did not know the singer had a habit of leading men on to make the mobster jealous.  And, finally, he did not know that the mobster had already murdered three men who had gone out with the singer -- and Sammy was the scheduled to die.

After a wild, bullet-filled chase through the San Francisco streets, Sammy manages to escape and returns to the quiet life in Arizona.  Or so he thought.  Donovan, the mobster, still wants Sammy dead.  It turns out that Donovan owns a near-by dude ranch as a cover for smuggling operations and as a hideout for his cronies whenever San Francisco became unsafe for them.  Knowing none of this, Sammy has been flying "vacationers" to the dude ranch for months.  Sammy's latest client was drunk when he picked him up for a flight to the dude ranch.  The man continued drinking during the flight and soon passed out.  Arriving at the ranch, Sammy was unable to rouse the man so he got some of the ranch men to either wake him or carry him off the plane.  That's when it was discovered the man was dead, stabbed through the heart.  When the man's hat was removed, there was even a greater shock -- the man had been scalped!

Things look bad for Sammy.  The man was alive when he entered the plane, dead when the plane landed.  There was no one else in the plane and Sammy swore he had not stopped anywhere during the flight.   And it turns out that the dead man was the gangster Donovan who had sworn to kill Sammy.

Sammy is arrested and that night gangsters riddle his cell with bullets.  Sammy manages to avoid being hit but even if he survives the next attack, he is likely to be convicted at trial and evecuted.  His only option is to get loose and to try and figure who the real murderer is and how it was done.  Thus, being the hero, he escapes.

There are suspects aplenty.  The one-quarter Indian, Heidelburg educated deputy who freely admits he is crooked. The man who may or may not be a secret servece agent.  The rancher whose son was killed by Donovan and who who had been shot three times when he tried to get revenge on the mobster.  Jessie, the night club singer, who knows she will be killed whenever Donovan tires of her.  The dude ranch manager who may have his own reasons for seeing Donovan dead.  Members of Donovan's gang, some of whom are loyal and some decidedly not.  The only one not a suspect is the rancher's pretty daughter...

Scalps is a fast-moving, entertaining read, true to its pulp roots.  It's interesting to see the "locked airplane" take on the standard locked room mystery.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


My apologies.  Blogging has been light (or nonexistent) recently and will remain so for several more days.  I should be back to my regular schedule some time next week.

Monday, April 13, 2015


  • Richard Adams, The Day Gone By.  An autobiography by the author of Watership Down.
  • Kevin J. Anderson, Of Fire and Light.  SF.  Book 5 in The Saga of Seven Suns sequence.
  • "Lyle Brant" (Michael Newton), Rebel Gun.  Western.
  • James Lee Burke, Heartwood.  A Billy Bob Holland mystery.
  • Lee Child, Persuader.  A Jack Reacher thriller.
  • Reed Farrel Coleman, Robert B. Parker's Blind Spot.  The fourth post-Parker Jesse Stone mystery, following three noels by Michael Brandman.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Through the Magic Door.  Non-fiction.  A survey of some of the author's favorite books by way of a tour through his personal library.  Yes, the book is available online, but this paperback edition spoke to me.
  • Joan Hess, Deader Homes and Gardens.  A Claire Malloy mystery.
  • George R. R. Martin, editor, Card Sharks, Jokers Wild, and Marked Cards.  Three volumes in Martin's Wild Cards series -- anthologies disguised as "mosaic novels," in which an alien virus produced a world of superheros.
  • Larry Niven, creator, Man-Kzin Wars XII.  Shared world SF anthology with six stories, part of Niven's Known Space series.
  • "J. D. Robb" (Nora Roberts), Delusion in Death. Indulgence in Death, and Memory in Death.  Near future mysteries featuring Eve Dallas.  I'm beginning to think Roberts writes one of these every other day.
  • Laura Joh Rowland, The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria. A Sano Ichiro mystery, set in 17th century Japan.
  • Karin Slaughter, Undone.  A Will Trent/Faith Mitchell/Sara Linton mystery.
  • Jason Starr, Lights Out.  Crime novel.
  • Randy Wayne White, Everglades.  A Doc Ford mystery.
  • R. D. Zimmerman, Blood Trance.  Mystery, the second in theseries featuring brother and sister detectives Maddy and Alex Phillips.

Friday, April 10, 2015


Today is National Sibling Day.  I'm lucky enought to have a very cool and strange brother and to have had a dearly missed sister.

I wonder if my brother Ken* will be giving me a present?  I think I deserve one.

* He thinks his name is Kenny.  He -- like Denny Crane -- suffers from mad cow, you know.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


After I posted the previous post, I got a hankering for some Tom Paxton (not the radio announcer) music.  So, not being one not to share...


Dark Fantasy was a horror/mystery program that first broadcast on station WKY, Oklahoma City, on November 11, 1941.  Maybe.  The history of the show is muddled.  There is no doubt that Scott Bishop, creator of The Mysterious Travveller, created and scripted all of the episodes.  Some have it that Dark Fantasy aired for several episodes before being picked up nationally by NBC Radio.  The first national broadcast of the show was on the Noember date above.  Thirty-one shows were produced.  The quality of Dark Fantasy was impressive at the time, although episodes may seem a bit weak for some of today's audience.

Fearful that the show was too scary for the kiddies, it was placed in the Friday evening, 11:30 p.m. slot.

"The Sea Phantom" was directed by John Prosser and featured the talents of Ben Morris, Fred Wayne, Muir Hite, and Garland Moss.  The announcer was Tom Paxton (Not the folk singer Tom Paxton; he was only five years old and living in Chicago at the time).


Wednesday, April 8, 2015


"I believe a lot of conflict in the Wild West could have been avoided completely if cowboy architects had just made their towns big enough for everyone." -- Stephen Wright

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


From 1860, perhaps the earliest sound recording of a song.  The singer is unknown, the song is in French, and the recording is understandably poor.   Still, I think this is pretty neat, don't you?


Yes, this post is NSFW.

I normally wouldn't post such a thing, but this movie is so cheesy, it's practically harmless...and justly overlooked.

Without further ado (or explanation)...

Monday, April 6, 2015


I'm getting too old to attend a Jimmy Buffett concert.  I'm at the point where I like listening to the music and not the antics of those in the audience, drunk or sober*.

Yes, I fear I am a geezer.

Nonetheless I still like the songs he sings, and this is one of the best.

*When my daughter was working as an EMT, the Jimmy Buffett concerts would keep her busy all through the concert.  Never volunteer to work Rescue if you want to listen to the music.


  • Piers Anthony, Wielding a Red Sword and And Eternity.  Fantasy.  Books Four and Seven in the Incarnations of Immortality series.
  • Maurice G. Dantec, Babylon Babies.  SF, translated from the French by Noura Wedell.  This is a movie tie-in edition for Babylon A.D., a Vin Deisel flick.
  • A. J. Hartley, Act of Will.  Fantasy.
  • "Nathan Hollander" (Marc Olden), The Harker File.  Thriller.
  • Janet LaPierre, Run a Crooked Mile.  Mystery from a writer we sadly lost earlier this year.
  • Larry Niven, The Ringworld Engineers.  SF novel in the Ringworld series.
  • Karen Miller, The Awakened Mage and The Innocent Mage.  Fantasy, comprising the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology, part of the larger Kingmaker, Kingbreaker universe.

Sunday, April 5, 2015


As a cultural icon of the 21st century, she needs no introduction.  Here's Amanda Palmer with a TED Talk which she later turned into a book.  Fascinating stuff.


With best wishes for a Happy Easter!  And a Happy Passover!

Here's the Edwin Hawkins Singers wishing you a Happy Day.

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Speaking of World War II, here's Anne Shelton:


The question arises:  Are these America's best comics?  Well, judging from the kick-butt cover where Black Terror, American Eagle, Pyroman, and Doc Strange wreak destruction on Nazi Germany, it surely is.

Doc Strange, muscle-bound and powered by alosun, the secret distillate of liquid sun-atoms, starts us off by facing a giant Nazi gorilla.  The giant gorilla on the splash page introducing the first story is purely symbolic.  What does happen -- after a suitable number of narrow escapes -- is the defeat of an invading German force, thanks to Doc, his pals, and two "young American" kids, Billie and Ruth.  (In case you haen't figured it out by now, this Doc Strange is no relation to the Marvel Comics Doctor Strange.)

Next up is the Black Terror (who is white but wears a black body suit with a white skull and crossbones displayed on the chest), who is really Bob Benton, a meek (ha! if they only knew) young American druggist.  This time around, Bob, Jean (the clueless blonde), and Tim (Bob's Young sidekick who secretly has the same strange strength that Bob has, as well as a black body suit) are in occupied France, where an evil Nazi scientist has invented a death ray.  With a little bit of tweaking,  this ray can also turn ordinary men into giant mindless zombies.  Guess who tries to mess with Black Terror in this story?

In the running for the most unfortunate superhero name is Pyroman, actually mild mannered Dick Martin imbued with electrical energy (which can also create a magnetic beam).  This time, Pyroman is up against Nazi pyromanics who are burning and blowing up government facilities and are led by a homicidal dwarf.

"A prehistoric Egyptian formula yields dream-forfilling lamesis, an elixir that transforms meek professor Nelson Drew to the fearless crime-smashing Liberator!"  A sky-writing plane drops a weapon that pierces the skull of Professor Pickard before he can finish the anti-tank gun he was working on for the government.  Drew finishes work on the new gun and, fearing sabotage, arrives at the testing facility as the Liberator.  While the gun is being successfully tested, the Liberator is busy stopping a Nazi plot to bomb the proving grounds.  The evil sky-writing plane is toast.  And so is a Nazi submarine lurking off the coast.  The Liberator's costume, by the way, consists of high brown boots, tight red shorts, and an armless (and tight) blue shirt bedecked with white stars...a very popular look among superheroes, I'm sure.

The final story...hey!  What happened to American Eagle?...features Lucky Lawrence, Leatherneck.
A German spy stows aboard an aircraft carrier and manages to send its location to an enemy submarine.  The spy escapes in a plane and Lucky Lawrence and his pals jump into another plane in pursuit.  They spot the plane but are downed by an enemy battleship.  Captured by the Germans, what can they do?  Well, maybe, sink the battleship and seven Nazi submarines.

It's a wonder the war lasted as long as it did.

And, as we are told at the end of each story:  Buy War Bonds!  And Stamps!


Friday, April 3, 2015


Jimmy Valentine was a character created by O. Henry in his short story "A Retrieved Reformation."  Valentine was the alias used by a notorious safecracker.  The character's fame grew in 1910 when Paul Armstrong wrote the popular play "Alias Vimmy Valentine," based on the O. Henry story.

The Peerless Quartet, who made this recording, was a group assembled for Columbia Records.  In 1907, when they began recording for other companies, their name was changed from The Columbia Quartet (of The Columbia Male Quartet) to The Peerless Quartet.  Members at the time of this recording were tenor Henry Burr, Albert Campbell, Arthur Collins, and John H. Mayer and were led by Burr.

This was one of my favorite songs in my salad days.


Papa La-Bas by John Dickson Carr (1968)

It's 1958 and Richard Macrae, Her Brittanic Majesty's Consul in New Orleans, has been in the city for a year.  The duties are light and he has been fortunate to make some good friends and acquaintances, but for the past seven weeks he has had a strange feeling that he was being followed and spied upon.  He is also in love with a mystery woman he has seen only once.

Expecting a new consular assistant from England, he is surprised by a visitor instead -- Isobel de Sancerre, the wife of his friend Jules de Sancerre.  Madame de Sancerre is concerned about her daughter Margot, who has been acting strangely and asking questions about Delphine LaLaurie, who was said to have a penchant for torturing her slaves, and about Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.  Interestingly, Margot's unusual behavior began about the same time that Macrae began feeling he was being watched.

Harry Ludlow, the young consular assistant, arrives and Macrae's close friend Tom Clayton decided Harry should be introduced to the city's many pleasures by first attending a quadroon ball -- where many of the city's most beautiful and available quadroons appear wearing masks.  (Clayton, by the way, has been seeing Margot.)  Macrae joins the two and, on arriving sees a carriage pull up containigng his mystery woman another beautiful woman.  Macrae lingers outside the ball while his friends and the other woman go in.  He learns his mystery woman's name -- Ursula Ede -- and after some repartee, Macrae finds himself still smitten with the woman, and she appears to be smitten with him.

The woman who accompanied Ursula was Margot de Sacerre, Clayton's sweetheart and the one who had been acting oddly.  Soon there was a rucus from the hall, and Margot ran out, fleeing, and got into her carriage, ordering the her driver to go away fast.  Margot is followed from the hall by the notorious gambler Square Nat Rumbold and Tom Clayton.  Rumbold, seeing Margot masked, assumed she was an quadroon and made improper advances.

Ursula and Macrae race after Margot's carriage, keeping a watchful eye on both doors to her carriage.
When her carriage pulls up to the de Sancerre mansion, it is empty!  The locked room mystery for the author is justly known is a runaway carriage mystery in which a woman vanishes while the carriage was under constant surveillance.

Macrae and Ludlow join friends at the de Sancerre mansion in an effort to solve this mystery.  One of them, a respected jurist falls down a flight of stairs and is killed.  Accident or murder?  Five friends were witness to the fall and could swear there was nobody at the top of the stairs with the judge.  Another friend arrives, Senator Judah P. Benjamin.  Despite the impossible circumstances, Benjamin is convinced that the judge was murdered.  Benjamin insists that they call police sergeant Tim O'Shea, the  most capable man on the New Orleans police force, to the scene.  O'Shea, however, was on the way, having earlier received a card warning him of Margot's disappearance.  The card bore the mysterious signature of Papa La-Bas, another name for the devil.

An impossible disappearance.  An impossible murder.  Mysterious messages from Papa La-Bas.  An unknown spy,  Unexplanable behavior.  A link to the long-dead Delphine LaLaurie and to the feared Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau.  John Dickson Carr mixes them well with a knowledgable detail of New Orleans history and customs.

Papa La-Bas is a later novel from John Dickson Carr, the second or third published after the author suffered a stroke that paralyzed his left side.  He would publish only three more novels before his death.  To my mind, Carr's later novels fade in comparison to earlier books.  The spark is somewhat less bright.  The macabre elements less eerie.  The puzzles less complex.  But even minor Carr is worth-while, and so is Papa La-Bas.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


It will never die as long as Danny and the Juniors have their way.  I remember them performing (well, lip syncing) on American Bandstand back in the days when I thought they were the greatest group ever.  (Back then my "greatest group ever" appellation changed frequently; whenever I heard a new song, truth be told.)

 From 1958:


Dead air is aradio station's nightmare.  When a line failure caused programming to cease for station WMAK one day in 1930, announcer Wilbur Budd Hulick grabbed the first person he could find, lumberman Frederick Chase Taylor, who happened to be walking down the hall, and the two ad-libbed their way into radio history.  Hulick introduced Taylor as his special guest, Colonel Stoopnagle.  Taylor played the pipe organ and the duo exchanged barbs.  Hulick and Taylor had never met before that moment.

Stoopnagle and Budd were an instant hit and became a regular feature on the station.  The following year, they began their program, originally called The Gloomchasers, on CBS radio.  They were radio's first satirists, the forerunners to Bob and Ray, Fred Allen, and others.  Their show featured voice characterizations of well-known people, skits mocking other radio shows, spoonerisms, and much more.  The partnership ended in 1937 with no explanation as to why, and Stoopnagle and Budd went their separate ways.

Taylor, by the way, was a first cousin of H. P. Lovecraft and one of Lovecraft's most famous correspondents, Robert Bloch, was rumored to be a scriptwriter for the show -- something Bloch denied, saying that he only sold them a few jokes shortly after he left high school.

The episode below is from March 15, 1935 and is titled "If We Supervised Radio."


Wednesday, April 1, 2015