Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Watching the first episode of HBO's The Brink has provided me with this ear worm.  Here's CCR.


Pat Gallagher and Stoney Crockett are a pair of Treasury Department agents working in the American West in this 1952-3 syndicated series.  Russell Hayden (who played William Boyd's sidekick Lucky Jenkins in about a zillion Hopalong Cassidy oaters) played Gallagher and former child actor Jackie Coogan (The KidPeck's Bad Boy, Oliver Twist, Circus Days; later known for playing Uncle Fester) was Crockett.  Cowboy G-Men was based on a story by producer Henry B. Donovan.  The series lasted for 39 episodes.

"Silver Fraud" aired on March 14, 1953.  Gallagher and Crockett are sent to the mining town of Bodee where the silver sent to the Treasury Department was found to contain a great deal of lead.  Soon bullets are flying.  As Crockett remarks, "Somebody's always shooting at us!"  And as Gallagher tells him, "You'll get used to it."

Cowboy G-Men employed a lot of character actors whose resumes are peppered with roles as 'Henchman," and who appeared on many television shows in the 50s (and were also were able to labnd a few recurring roles).  This episode features Paul Kearst (who had a recurring role on Casey Jones), Bob Wilke (his recurring role was as Captain Mendoza on Zorro), Brad Johnson (best known as Lofty Craig on Annie Oakley), the ubiquitous Harry Lauter (Clay Mason on Tales of Texas Rangers, Atlasande on Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, and Jim Herrick on Waterfront), John Cason, and Riley Hill.  (Five of these supporting players appeared (in various roles) on more than one episode of Cowboy G-Men:  Wilke, Hill, and Lauter were in two episodes apiece, while Johnson appeared in five episodes and Cason appeared in ten.)

"Silver Fraud" was written by Buckley Angell and Tod Ballard.  Angell was an active writer of television westerns.  Ballard was Willis Todhunter Ballard, a cousin of Rex Stout and a popular writer of western and mystery novels; he wrrote four episodes for this series.  (Another well-known western novelist who contributed to this series was William R. Cox.)


Monday, June 29, 2015


Tom Rush.


  • Stephen Booth, The Dead Place.  A Detective Constable Ben Cooper/Detective Sergeant Diane Frye mystery.  The anonymous phone call could have been from a crank, but then a woman vanishes from a parking lot and an unidentified female corpse left in the woods for more than a year is discovered.
  • Simon Brett, Blood at the Bookies, Bones Under the Beach Hut, and Death Under the Dryer.  Fethering mysteries featuring Carole Seddon.  At least Fethering, England, has less murders than Cabot  Cove, far.
  • "K. C. Constantine" (Carl Kosak),  Blood Mud.  ARC.  A Mario Balzic mystery.  Retired police chief Balzic returns to Rocksburg where a sudden personal crisis crosses path with a sudden murder.  Constantine is a master of dialogue and a pure pleasure to read.
  • Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Havoc.  Historical novel in the Richard Sharpe series.  Chronologically, this is the eighth book in the series and has Sharpe in the Campaign in North Portugal in the Spring of 1809.
  • Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry, The Tombs.  A Fargo Adventure.  One of the tombs in the title may be that of Attila the Hun (complete with fortune).  I'm not much for Cussler but I'm very pro Thomas Perry.  This, by the way, is Perry's first go-round with a Fargo adventure;  the previous ones were coauthored with Grant Blackwood.
  • Tim Downs, Less Than Dead.  A Bug Man mystery.  Forensic entomologist Nick Polchak is called in when strange bones are found on a U.S. senator's property.
  • Richard Lederer, The Word Circus.  Fun with words:  spoonerisms, kangaroo words, homophones, anagrams, acrostics, palindromes...I love this kind of book.
  • Paul Levine, False Dawn.  A Jake Lassiter mystery.  Jake's client admits to murdering a man with a forklift but Jake doesn't believe him.  Throw in some Faberge eggs, Fidel Castro, the CIA, and a newly "democratic" Russia and you have a bloody recipe for mayhem.
  • Less Martin, Young Indiana Jones and the Gypsy Revenge.  YA television tie-in novel.
  • Patrick McGrath, Trauma.  Psychological thriller.  Charlie Weir, a product of a dysfunctional family, approaches the abyss after his wife leaves him and his mother dies.
  • Adrian McKinty, Dead I Well May Be.  Irish noir.  Michael leaves Belfast and the Troubles and ends up working for a violent Irish gang in Harlem and making the dire mistake of fooling around with a crime boss' girlfriend.  Violence ensues.
  • John Jackson Miller, Star Wars:  The Lost Tribe of Sith, Collected Stories.  Movie franchise tie-in collection of eight stories (originally published as eBooks) set 5000-3500 years before Star Wars: A New Hope.
  • Paul Milo, Your Flying Car Awaits:  Robot Butlers, Lunar Vacations, and Other Dead-Wrong Predictions of the Twentieth Century.  Why did I think of Bill Crider when I bought this one?
  • John Mortimer, A Rumpole Christmas.  Five stories featuring Britain's favorite barrister,
  • Carol O'Connor, Crime School.  A Mallory mystery.  The dead call girl was someone from Kathleen Mallory's past and the crime scene was one from Mallory's youth.  Wass she looking for a copycat murderer or a serial killer?
  • Abigail Padgett,The Last Blue Plate Special.  A Blue McCarron mystery.  Female political leaders are dying of strokes -- the deaths are too many too close together.
  • Heinz R. Pagels,  The Cosmic Code:  Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature.  Science popularization. 
  • Robert B. Parker, Double Play.  It's 1947 and a wounded veteran is hired to bodyguard Jackie Robinson.
  • Karin Slaughter, Cop Town.  Atlanta, 1974:  A cop is gunned down and female officers Kate Murphy and Maggie Lawson are sidelined during the hunt for the killer.  But these two women refuse to be sidelined.
  • Megan Stine & H. William Stine, Young Indiana Jones and the Journey to the Underworld.  YA television tie-in novel.
  • Kate Wilhelm, The Price of Silence.  Mystery.  Todd Fielding begins work at a small-town newspaper when a local girl vanishes.  No one seems concerned.  After all, five other girls have disappeared over the past twenty years.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Have you ever wondered what famous people in the past sounded like?  Here's 25 snippets -- dating from 1890 to the mid Thirties -- of some rare recordings of historic voices* from the past:

  • William Jennings Bryan
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • Grover Cleveland
  • William McKinley
  • William Howard Taft
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Vice President Garrett A. Herbert
  • Ernest Shackleton
  • Robert E. Peary
  • Thomas A. Watson (Edison's assistant)
  • Thomas Edison
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • W. B. Yeats
  • George Bernard Shaw
  • G. K. Chesterton
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Leo Tolstoy
  • Harry Houdini
  • Florence Nightingale
  • Edwin Booth
  • General Nelson A. Miles (Commander of the US Army in the Spanish-American War)
  • Andrew Carnagie
  • Buffalo Bill
  • Pope Leo XIII

*There's some question whether the recording of Oscar Wilde is really by him (see comments to the post).


Colton Dixon - Through All of It.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Spider John Koerner & Willie Murphy.


This is a rare one from Sun Publications, a former pulp publisher (10-Story Book, Golden Fleece) who made a brief entry into the comics field one year earlier with Sun Fun Komiks #1 (evidently, there was never a #2).  As for Colossus Comics, one issue appears to have been it.  To get this scan for Colossus #1, several sources had to be used; material for a complete scan of Sun Fun Komiks #1 has not yet been located.

Abysmal drawing and poor color highlight this issue, which contains:

  • "Colossus AD 2640"  Plantaliens, defeated in a war sixty years previously, have regrouped and have gained superior weapons and are about to re-invade the solar system.  At the same, Dr. Blitzmann has perfected (he thinks) a glandular formula to control human growth.  Richard Zenith, a lowly lab assistant, is given the formula just as Eve Blitzmann rushes in to tell her father that she screwed up mixing the ingredients for the formula.  Too late!  Zenith grows and grows and grows until he is over two thousand feet tall.  With that height and strength -- and taking. the name Colossus -- he decides he can rule the world.  So Colossus grabs Eve because, hey, she's a good looker who wouldn't give him the time of day, especially with manly Bryn Hale hanging around.  Let's mention that Eve is wearing some sort of misbegotten futuristic hat, that Colossus is stomping around destroying everything, that there is something definitely phallic about the Plantaliens' space ships, that Bryn Hale's manly body resembles that of a lurching ape, and that the only thing decent things artist Bernie Weist draws in this entire story are Eve's legs.  The story, luckily, was to be continued in the next issue that never happened.
  • "Educational Adventures of Panda-Lin"  A one pager featuring a young Chinese panda and his father.  They accidentally power a flying carpet and land at the Taj Mahal.  The story ends before the educational part begins.
  • "Lucky Lucifer, Flyer of Fortune"  Lucky has joined Allied fliers and is flying over France when attacked by German ace von Fleissig, the Nazi scourge of the skies.  Wounded and with his plane aflame, Lucky leaps out and lands on a plane flown by his buddy Slipstream Barry.  Nothing slows Lucky Lucifer down.  Shrugging off his wound, Lucky is back in the air that afternoon to rescue a pretty French spy from behind enemy lines -- and for another encounter with von Fleissig!  If the April issue had ever come out, Lucky would have faced "The Flaming Death!"  Who would name their all-American hero Lucifer?  Sheesh.
  • "The Ghost of Buzzard Mounting" is Part One in the adventures of Lum Sims.  Lum is the poor man's Li'l Abner (only uglier and dumber) with a dash of Robert E. Howard's Breckinridge Elkins.  Lum climbs Buzzard Mounting to recover his hawg that done got stoled by the fersome ghost.  Or something.  Lum was also slated to return the following month.
  • "Boomerang"  A two-page story/promotional advertisement.  Kids -- you, too, can enjoy this new sport of boomerang throwing just like Zurro did in this story when he rescued Yombi from the giant kangaroo!  For just one dollar you can get this GENUINE MURCHIE BOOMERANG (a 50 cent value) and a one-year (twelve issue) subscription to Colossus Comics (a $1.20 value) -- an amazing 70 cent savings!
  • "Mory Marine" is out on the town with his girl Sally and his leatherneck buddy Chubby when they hear the blast of a machine gun.  A postal inspector has been shot.  The dying man gives Mory a packet that must be delivered to chief Inspector Flint.  The bad guys then kidnap Mory and Sally (with Sally showing some well-turned gams), but do they really think they can keep a good marine down?
  • "The Gold of Gartok" featured the Tulpa of Tsang, a Tibetian lama with mystical powers.  A local robber baron has joined forces with an evil (is there any other kind?) Nazi to loot local monastaries.  Tsang avoids many tortures, throws poorly-drawn cobras at the baddies, and **SPOILER ALERT!** dips the robber baron's decapitated head into molten gold.  Mystical lamas are tough!
  • "The Black Heart of Red Beard"  A two-page text story by "Nick Nomad."  Bernie Weist illustrated this one, showing us that the guy can actually draw.
  • "Blonde Garth, King of the Isles"  Cast ashore as a child, Garth is raised by Bubu the Medicine Man and grew to be the mightiest of them all.  When the island king refuses to give his daughter Tara to a neighboring king, things begin to get out of hand.  First a giant killer shark (and I mean giant; this sucker makes Jaws look like a minnow) is smuggled into the lagoon and kills the heir to the kingdom, then the king himself is killed, then the tribe is turned against Garth and Princess Tara by an evil witch woman.  Things certainly look dire.
  • "Ruggey"  This story is meant to be humorous, I think.  The King Joe of Bulmania cannot pay the $65 owed to Phil Thelucre, so Phil forecloses on the kingdom.  Needing a brainless sap to run the kingdom for him, Phil chooses  Ruggey the cab driver.  Ex-king Joe is not a good guy.  He has Hitler hair and a Hitler mustache.  He plots to regain the kingdom while Ruggey eats oatmeal.  Alas, eating oatmeal is a no-no in Bulmania.
With all the stories and characters to be continued in the next issue, it seems hopes were high that there would be a second issue.  In fact, a new superhero character, the winged Icarion, was promised to make his debut in issue 2.

Colossus Comics #1 announced a large contest with 200 prizes for picking a feature in that issue and writing in 25 words or less why that feature is 'the best comic strip."  Prizes included five streamlined bicycles, 20 pairs of skates, 50 league baseballs, and 125 official Murchie Boomerangs.  I wonder if any of those prizes were actually awarded.  And I wonder what Sun Publications did with all those danged boomerangs.


Friday, June 26, 2015


From 1935, Lucille Bogan shows how NSFW was done way back then.  Not for the timid or the easily offended.


Great Balls of Fire!  A History of Sex in Science Fiction Illustration by Harry Harrison (1977)

I really shouldn't have enjoyed this one as much as I did, but the 13-year-old boy in me took over.  That's okay, I suppose, because much of early science fiction was aimed at young (by "young," read "awkward") teenage boys.  Zaftig women in metal brassieres fending off tentacled monsters and being rescued by dashing space heroes were something we could relate to, even if the mysteries of what lay under those bronze bras and of what might ensue after said rescue were actually beyond our ken.  Our teen-aged imaginations may have been faulty but we didn't care; our romantic ideation of sex sustained us.

It was the illustrations that shouted sex, never the stories themselves.  Magazine and book editors were businessmen first and dreaded the thought of confronting an angry mother over a less than pure story.  But those zaftig girls on the cover usually sold more copies than those of a tentacled monster alone, so a compromise was established.  What was promised on the cover was not delivered in the content.  **sigh**

(One need only to look at the early covers of, say, the Avon Fantasy Reader or the Galaxy Novels, and compare them to later covers to realize how effectively the publishers got the message.)

Harrison covers the whole gamut of SF in his overview, from comics to magazine to novels, and from science fiction to fantasy and to horror.  He starts his informal survey with what he calls "dirty books" -- most commonly known as Tijuana bibles, although Harrison seems unfamiliar with that term -- and moves to the early science fiction magazines with their schizophrenic attitude to sex, and journeys though the years to the mid-Seventies and the burgeoning boom in what he calls "stories in illustration" (graphic novels).  He gives a nod to Philip Jose Farmer and Theodore Sturgeon for their contributions to advancing the genre, but (perhaps rightly) gives an extraordinary amount of time and illustration European publications and artwork.  (Harrison was, after all, an ardent internationalist.)  He also gives (murkily) some of his personal experiences in the field to illustrate points.

The subject of homosexuality is breached.  Harrison's opinions:  Batman was not gay but Conan probably was, if only unintentionally so.  Feminism, too, is discussed briefly, but (methinks) grudgingly.  The Sixties and Seventies are cited for opening the floodgates and casting aside the metallic bras, steps that Harrison hails.  Finally, the mystery of what those torture implements conceal has been revealed!

So what do we end up with?  A fairly obvious narration.  A few outspoken opinions.  Some great artwork.  Some not-so-great artwork.  A need to brush up on my French to read the caption balloons in some of the illos.  A mild attempt at inclusiveness, although (to be fair) SF has always been a basically white hetero male field and most of the welcome changes to that template have come after this book was published.  And a romp down Memory Lane.

Recommended for the 13-year-old boy in me.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


One of the most refreshing voices and talents to come out of the 60s folk music boom was Patrick Sky.  His first album's were well-received and he became a staple one the scene, playing with Buffy Ste. Marie, Mississippi John Hurt, Eric Anderson, and others.  He is noted for having Mississippi John Hurt singing Gilbert and Sullivan and for regaling audiences with the groaning-worthy story of Siberian Peach Pie.  His 1973 album Songs That Made America Famous provided a scathing satire of American life and took several years to find a home.

Sky now lived in North Carolina with his wife Cathy where they perform, produce, and write about traditional Irish music, and where Sky handcrafts traditional Irish uillean pipes.

"Many a Mile"

"Separation Blues"

"Modern Major General"

"The Ballad of Ira Hayes"

A NSFW riff on prejudice:  "Bake Dat Chicken Pie"

An even more NSFW song:  "Fight for Liberation"

"Rattlesnake Mountain"

"Nectar of God"

"Every Time"

"Keep on Walking"

"A Girl I Once Owned:

"Are You from Dixie?"

"Give to the Cause" (with the Gilbert and Sullivan intro)

"The Farmer's Cursed Wife"

Finally, a short piece on Patrick Sky's uilleann pipes:


Johnny Horton.


George R. Stewart's classic 1949 post apocalyptic novel (and winner of the first International Fantasy award in 1951) was adapted for this two-part episode of Escape on CBS radio.

Produced and directed by Norman McDonnell (the co-creator of Gunsmoke), the program aired on November 5 and 12, 1950.  John Dehner (after a decade of mostly uncredited film appearances) starred as Isherwood Williams, an ecologist working in the Northern California woods.  Returning to town, he finds it empty -- an epidemic has wiped out most of mankind, leaving a few scattered survivors.  Also in the cast were Lawrence Dobkin, Peggy Weber, Michael Ann Barrett, Parley Baer, Ron Brogan, Lou Krugman, and a relatively young Paul Frees.  David Ellis wrote the adaptation.

Those who read the book will notice that the radio adaptation begins to veer from the novel in the second half, omitting many of the book's controversial themes.  It seems that this was done not to aoid these issues, but to compress the novel into two 30-minute episodes.  It should also be noted that this was the only two-parter in Escape's seven year history on radio.

A powerful show.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


From 1939, when a pre-Roy Dale Evans was a big band singer with Anson Weeks and His Orchestra.


Evolution:  Life's a niche, then you die.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Big Joe Turner.


A remote English castle...a family curse...werewolves...a Scotland Yard investigation...

The Undying Monster was 20th Century Fox's first foray into the horror genre and followed the success of Universal Studios The Wolfman.  Directed by John Brahm (who would go on to direct Laura and Hangover Square), this atmospheric B movie evoked the spirit (and a bit of the plot) of Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Written by Lillie Haywood and Michael Jacoby and based on the 1922 horror novel by Jessie Douglas Kerruish, the film stars James Ellison, Heather Angel, and John Howard.

A neat little movie that doesn't suffer many of the flaws of its type and time.


Monday, June 22, 2015


The divine madness of the Smother Brothers.  And watch out for the pumas!


  • Lloyd Alexander, The Iron Ring.  YA fantasy.  A young king forced into bondage after losing a dice game must make a perilous journey to regain his honor.
  • Jessica Auerbach, Sleep, Baby, Sleep.  Thriller.  Cally's six-week-old baby has been taken but no one will believe Cally.
  • Joan Bauer, Squashed.  YA novel.  Ellie wishes her pumpkin were heavy enough to win a prize and that she were less heavy to attract the attention of the new boy.
  • "M. C. Beaton" (Marion Chesney), Death of a Witch.  A Hamish Macbeth mystery.  Hamish becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a newcomer to the Scottish village of Lochdubh.
  • "C. C. Benison" (Douglas Whiteway), Twelve Drummers Drumming.  The first Father Tom Christmas mystery.  A young girl has been bludgeoned and placed inside a large Japanese o-daiko drum and Father Tom, the new vicar of Thornford Regis, suspects the killer must be one of his parishioners.
  • Jack Du Brul, Charon's Landing.  A Philip Mercer eco-thriller.  A former KGB leader and an Arab oil minister plot to control the U.S. supply of oil.
  • James Grippando, Lying with Strangers.  Thriller.  After being run off the road, Peyton Shields thinks she being stalked and that it is her husband who wants her dead.
  • Theodore Solotaroff, editor, New American Review #1.  Paperback literary magazine from 1967 following in the tradition of the 1950s New World Writing series.  The thirty-four stories, articles, and poems include early work by William  H. Gass, Louise Gluck, and Philip Roth.  Stanley Moss serves as poetry editor.
  • Roy Torgeson, editor, Chrysalis 8.  SF anthology with twelve original stories.  This series ran for ten volumes from 1977 to 1983.
  • "Robert Westall, editor, Ghost Stories.  YA horror anthology with 22 stories.
  • Kate White, A Body To Die For.  A Bailey Weggins mystery. Reporter Bailey Weggins stumbles upon a corpse while at a spa weekend in Massachusetts.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


A TED talk by Correctional Officer Calvin Williams, speaking before prisoners at Ironwood State Prison.


For Father's Day, here's Tennesee Ernie Ford.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


From 1954, Kay Starr.


Who knew he had his own comic book?  Not me.  This 1951 issue from Fawcett Comics shows us the positive effects of baseball and sportsmanship and a world where racism doesn't appear to exist.

Wholesome reading.


Friday, June 19, 2015


The murders in South Carolina this week have shocked and saddened the nation while also bringing to mind so many other senseless deaths in the past.

Here's Richard Farina.


If This Goes On edited by Charles Nuetzel (1965)

Extrapolation.  It's the basis of most fiction.  If A happens, then B, or C. or D...

In science fiction it can be an easy way to come up with a plot.  How many end of the world stories were there in the Fifties when fury of the atom became general knowledge?  How many mutant monster tales radiated to drive-in movie screens?  In the Sixties, when overpopulation began to be a favored topic, or when geopolitical concerns and an unpopular war burned their existence into the minds of a whole generation, didn't science fiction follow suit?  Pick a topic -- any topic -- from ecology to feminism to racism to religious fervor and you will find the science fiction prophets riding the wave, and -- following Sturgeon's Law -- most of these hodads wipe out.  Obvious, right?

For a rookie SF anthologist, as Nuetzel was, it may seem that "if this goes on" would be a good theme for a book.  And it may explain why Nuetzel's career as an anthologist never took off.  As an author, Nuetzel found his niche as a minor writer of potboilers and exploitation books published by small, short-lived California paperback publishers and of stories in second- and third-tier magazines using such pseudonyms as Alex Rivere, David Johnson, Alberto Augustus, Jr., and Charles English -- just four of at least thirty names under which  he has been published.

If This Goes On was published by Book Company of America, a Beverly Hills paperback publisher which born in 1964 and died the following year after publishing 17 titles.  The anthology was one of three SF titles; the others being an A. E. van Vogt reprint collection and an original novel Felix Mendelsohn, Jr.'s Club Tycoon Sends Man to Moon (remember that one?).  (Of the remaining fourteen books, nine were non-fiction -- with five reprints -- and two were suspense novels; there were also one contemporary novel, one western, and one war novel.)  Cheap packaging and design and spotty production values seem to have been the norm for this publisher.  The cover of  If This Goes On has (IMO) a poorly rendered, slightly phallic painting by the editor's father, science fiction artist Albert Nuetzell (please note the extra "l").  There is no table of contents or a copyright page; an acknowledgements page serves kinda/sorta as a copyright page.  The cover, the acknowledgements page, the introduction, and the preface ALL boast a Ray Bradbury story which is not included in the book.  The introduction to each story is disconcertingly attached to the end of the previous story. There are a bunch of typos, the most glaring of which is the misspelling of an author's name.  The fifty-year-old paper has held up well but the paper's acid smell is the strongest I have ever encountered.

With all of this said and done, what we have here is an enjoyable (albeit minor) minor book just right for anyone in the mood for a non-demanding read.

The stories:

  • Introduction by Forrest J. Ackerman and Preface by Charles Nuetzel.  Understandingly praise-worth hyperbole, more so on the part of Ackerman.
  • "The Test" by Richard Matheson.  From The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1954.  Not the best best Matheson but good enough so you can't throw a stick at a pile of anthologies without hitting this story.
  • "The Earth Killers" by A. E. van Vogt.  From Super Science Stories, April 1949.  A minor story from the author published when he was near the end of his glory days.
  • "The Racer" by Ib Melchior.  From Escapade, October 1956.  Filmed as Death Race 2000 in 1975 (with David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone,and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it performance by John Landis) and as Death Race in 2008 (with Jason Stratham and Joan Allen).
  • "All the Troubles in the World" by Isaac Asimov.  From Super-Science Fiction, April 1958.  An oft-reprinted super-computer story.
  • "Friends and Enemies" by Fritz Leiber.  From Infinity Science Fiction, April 1957.  Another minor story, seldom reprinted.
  • "No Land of Nod" by Sherwood Springer.  From Thrilling Wonder Stories, December 1952, and inexplicably reprinted in the 1953 anthology The Best from Startling Stories (which had only five of the eleven stories coming from Startling Stories, the remaining six coming from Thrilling Wonder Stories; both magazines were from the same publisher, so what the heck).  Anyway, the story was a daring -- but not too daring -- tale, popular when it was first published.
  • "A Very Cultured Taste" by "George Frederic."  From who knows where; the story was copyrighted in 1960 by Billingsley Publications which I suspect produced lower-tier men's magazines.  A gimmick story whose ending is telegraphed by the title.  "Frederic" is one of the editor's many pseudonyms.
  • "The Mute Question" by Forrest J. Ackerman.  Originally printed in a 1945 fanzine, the story got its first professional publication in Other Worlds Science Stories, September 1950.  A very short gimmick story and 4EJ-ish.
  • "The Homo Sap" by Charles Nuetzel.  Apparently original to this anthology.  The third gimmick story in a row.
  • "Aquella" by Donald A. Wollheim.  From Super Science Stories, November 1942, where it appeared under the title "A Planet Called Aquella" under the pseudonym "Martin Pearson."  OMG, another gimmick story!  Wollheim holds an important place in science fiction, but as a writer, he was middling.
  • "The Climbing Wave" by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  From The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1955.  An early story from Bradley and the longest story in the book.  An attempt at feminism flawed by stereotype.
  • "Your Life in 1977!" by Willy Ley.  From Science Fiction Digest, February 1954.  An essay.
  • "Preposterous" by Fredric Brown.  From Brown's 1954 collection Angels and Spaceships.  Flash fiction.  Gimmicky.
Gee, I see I've used the word "gimmick" a lot.

An entertaining but very minor collection.  It's like eating from a bowl of mixed nuts where the vast majority of the nuts are peanuts and it's difficult to find the cashews and other really good nuts but you just keep on eating because the peanuts are okay.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


From 1964, The Searchers.


Journey once again to a West that never was with Guy Madison as Wild Bill and Andy Devine as his sidekick Jingles.  Wild Bill Hickok ran on the Mutual Broadcasting Network from April 1951 through December 1954 for a total of 271 episodes.  When the show made the transition to television in 1955 it kept not only its cast but also its sponsor, Kellogg's cereals.  On television. Wild Bill Hickcok ran from 1955 through 1958 on CBS and (simultaneously!) from 1957 through 1958 on ABC.

I loved the television show as a kid but had never heard the radio show until now.

It wasn't until I was much past childhood when I learned that "Wild Bill" was originally (and derisively) called "Duck Bill" because of a cleft palate (that his mustache would later hide) and that he was basically a psychotic killer.  Thus are childhood illusions shattered.

Naytheless, I can still transport myself to that innocent, wide-eyed tot who devoured the shoot-'em-ups.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Anne Murray.  This one, as always, is for Kitty.


I was walking down the street and some thug began throwing bottles of milk and chunks of cheese at me.  How dairy!

Monday, June 15, 2015


  • V. C. Andrews (r) (probably Andrew Neiderman), Broken Flower.  Modern gothic,  The first book in the Early Spring series.  I haven't been able to get into an Andrews novel yet (whether written when she was alive or dead), but hope springs eternal.
  • James Barney, The Genesis Key.  Thriller.  A biologist discovers a gene that could expand human life by hundreds of years but a lot of dangerous people don't want that to happen.  A first novel.
  • Joshua Corin, While Galileo Preys.  Thriller, the first about Esme Stuart, housewife and crime fighter.  The sniper known as Galileo terrorizes Atlanta and Esme's family may be in the crossfire
  • D. J. Heinrich, The Dragon's Tomb.  Gaming (Dungeons & Dragons) tie-in novel.  The second volume in the Penhaligon trilogy.
  • William W. Johnstone with "J. A. Johnstone,"  The First Mountain Man:  Preacher's Fury.  Western.  When preacher's old enemy attacks the Assiniboine Indians, Preacher and the few survivors seek vengeance.  Like V. C. Andrews, above, Johnstone remains a cash cow long after death,
  • Faye Kellerman, The Mercedes Coffin, a Pete Decker/Rina Lazarus mystery, and Straight Into Darkness, a murder mystery set in 1929 Munich.
  • Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden, Joe Golem and the Drowning City.  Fantasy/steampunk/mystery/supernatural mash-up involving a 14-year-old girl, an aging psychic, an amnesiac, and city under thirty feet of water.  You can't go wrong with either Mignola or Golden.
  • Brent Monahan, The Manhattan Island Clubs.  Historical mystery set in 1906 New York.
  • John Mortimer, Rumpole Misbehaves.  Mystery.  Everybody's favorite curmudgeonly barrister defends a child arrested for playing soccer on a posh street (!) and, in the process, becomes enmeshed in the murder of a prostitute.
  •  Otsuichi, Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse.  YA horror collection containing three stories.  the title story, written when the author was 17, won the sixth Jump Short Fiction/Nonfiction Prize.  Otsuichi was nominated for the 2009 Shirley Jackson Award for his novel ZOO and is one of the most popular YA writers in Japan.  Translated from the Japanese by Nathan Collins.
  • Michael Reaves, Star Wars:  Darth Maul:  Shadow Hunter.  Movie franchise tie-in novel.  This edition includes a bonus story previously available only as an e-Book.
  • Wendy Corsi Staub, The Good Sister.  Thriller.  Murder comes to a Catholic girls' school.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Remember the good old days when J. Edgar Hoover never misused his power and when all criminals come to their just desserts?  Those days before crooks realized that there was a safer living on Wall Street?   Those days when honest living was its own reward and dishonest living was a recipe for getting caught?  You don't?  Obviously you never lived in a comic book world.

So let's take a jaunt to the comic book world of 1952 and see what life really was not like:

Allie Corcoran and his wife Kate live in a tarpaper shack near the garbage dump.  Allie, who has had trouble with the law before,  promised he would go straight but the restraints and frustrations of the mundane world are chafing at him.  He dreams of finding a racket that will make him big money.  One day, they spot a car in the distance.  A body is thrown out and guns riddle the body.  It's Kel Matzon, one-time king of the rackets, and -- by some miracle -- he is still alive.  Allie and Kate take Matzon to their shack and nurse him back to health.  Matzon wants vengeance on those who betrayed him and he convinces Allie to throw in with him.  With Matzon's brains and Allie's youth they could make  millions.  What follows is a blood-splattered trail leading Allie and Kate to riches they had never dreamed of.  But the money and power soon go to Allie's head, and
                                                        **SPOILER ALERT!**
Crime Doesn't Pay!
                                                      **END SPOILER ALERT**
(Actually, the title of this story, -- "Road to the Morgue" --  is kind of a spoiler all by itself.)

Danny Conway, a punk with a gun, shoots a reported who has the goods on him.  The reporter lives long enough to finger Danny, so Danny goes on the run, vowing not to end up with a rope around his neck.  Danny is sure that he is smarter than the cops, but
                                                          **SPOILER ALERT**
he isn't.
                                                     **END SPOILER ALERT**
(Darn!  The title of this one -- "Danny Conway's Fate" -- is kind of a spoiler all by itself.)

Claire Nolan, a Veronica Lake look-alike, is in love with small-time crook Larry Brock.  Claire's brother Pat, a policeman, tries to convince his sister that Brock is no good but, hey, ladies love outlaws.  Brock tries to knock over a pawn shop, gets, trigger-happy, kills the owner, and goes on the lam with Claire.  Trapped in a remote cabin, Brock uses Claire as a shield, whereupon the light descends on Claire as she realizes that crooks are slime balls.  Brock is captured, but he pulls out a hidden knife and
                                                        **SPOILER ALERT**
well, bad guys seldom make it out alive in comic books of the late Forties/early Fifties.
                                                    **END SPOILER ALERT**
(And the title -- "The Gun Moll" -- doesn't give much away this time.)

Barney Rioden and his gang have made a specialty of high jacking trucks, but they finally high jack the wrong truck and a police trap is set.  In a rage, Barney kills the truck driver.  The rest of the gang get away but Barney is captured.  That night, the gang busts Barney out of jail and they hide out at an out of the way motel owned by ex-con Harry Quinn.  Barney takes a shine to Quinn's fiancĂ©, telling her, "Get this straight...I like you, and what I like I take!"  Quinn tries to interfere and Barney kills him but the girl rats on Barney and
                                                        **SPOILER ALERT**
He dies in a blaze of police gunfire (probably while thinking that girls are so fickle).
                                                    **END SPOILER ALERT**
(The innocuous title "On the Lam!" doesn't do much in the way of spoiling.)

Finally, there's a 3-page filler on the value of tipsters in solving crimes.  Yessir, report all your suspicions to the police and we will soon live in a crime-free world.  Or something.


Friday, June 12, 2015


Jessamyn and Amy just drove in ten minutes ago.  In honor of their 500-mile drive, I thought I'd post this classic by Dave Dudley.


Orbit 2 edited by Damon Knight (1967)

It's been a slow week for reading as other activities vied for my attention.  I thought it would be a food time to dip into Damon Knight's SF anthology series Orbit, reading and rereading some of the best SF stories of the 60s and the 70s.  I started with Orbit 2, the nearest on hand.

First, about Damon Knight, author, critic, editor, artist, teacher, and one of the shapers of modern science fiction:  He was a members of the Futurians,  An amorphous, left-thinking group of science fiction fans, most of whom went on to become highly influential professionals in the field.  Members included Frederik Pohl, C. M. Kornbuth, Donald A. Wollheim, John Michel, Judith Merril, Issac Asimov, James Blish, Robert A. W. Lowndes, Hannes Bok, Virginia Kidd, Dirk Wylie, and David Kyle, among others.  As an author, Knight is probably best known for his sharp, mordant stories such as "To Serve Man," "Not With a Bang," "Be My Guest," and so many others.  Knight was an unrelenting critic whose reviews were judged by an adherence to literary standards.  He was a co-founder of the Milford Science Fiction Writers' Conference and a major force in the Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop.  Knight served as the first president of the Science Fiction Writers of America, an organization he had long espoused.  He translated a number of French science fiction stories, introducing those writers to the English-speaking world His work as a reprint anthologist resulted in some two dozen highly praised anthologies, including 100 Years of Science Fiction and A Century of Science Fiction.  He has been known to use his spoon to launch peas at unsuspecting people at banquets.  And he edited the Orbit series of original anthologies.

About Orbit:  From 1966 to 1980, Knight edited 21 volumes of what he termed "the best new science fiction."  The emphasis here should be on "new."  Literate and sophisticated, the stories Knight selected helped push the field to new heights in the 70s.  Orbit followed Frederik Pohl's Star Science Fiction as the seminal anthology series of its time.  The instant success of Orbit spurred the creation of many other anthologies and after Orbit 12 the series lost its original hardcover publisher, G. O. Putnam's & Sons.  Berkley, the series paperback publisher, brought out Orbit 13, the last of the series to appear in paperback.  The last eight volumes in the series saw hardcover printings only fr omHarper and Row.  The series ended on an anemic note, with Orbit 21 containing many stories by little-known or unknown writers, although, to its credit there were also stories by Carol Emshwiller, R. A. Lafferty, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Gordon Eklund.  Knight also edited a retrospective, Best from Orbit:  Volumes 1-10, a must-have collection;  the editor's comments are worth the price of admission alone.

Orbit 2 contains ten stories:

  • "The Doctor" by Ted Thomas, a time travel story that was later reprinted in Alpha One edited by Robert Silverberg), in Dawn of Time:  Prehistory through Science Fiction (edited by Silverberg, Joseph Olander, and Martin Harry Greenberg), The Young Oxford Book of Timewarp Stories (edited by Dennis Pepper), and Knight's The Best from Orbit:  Volumes 1-10.
  • "Baby, You Were Great" by Kate Wilhelm, a 1968 Nebula nominated story, later collected in the author's The Downstairs Room and Other Speculative Fiction and in the Wilhelm and Knight Collection Better Than One, as well as being reprinted in Silverberg's Alpha Five, Women of Wonder (edited by Pamela Sargent), Approaches to Science Fiction (edited by Donald L. Lawlor), The Penguin Book of Modern Fantasy by Women (edited by A, Susan Williams and Richard Glyn Jones). Future Media (edited by Rick Wilbur), and Knight's The Best from Orbit:  Volumes 1-10.
  • "Fiddler's Green" by Richard McKenna, a previously unpublished story by the late author of The Sand Pebbles.  It later appeared in McKenna's posthumous collection Casey Agonistes and Other Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories and was reprinted in Knight's Dimension X.
  • "Time Trap" by Gene Wolfe, which was later included in his collection Storeys from the Old Hotel.
  • "A Dimple in Draco" by astronomer Robert S. Richardson writing under his "Philip Latham" pseudonym and was reprinted in David G, Hartwell's The Science Fiction Century.
  • "I Gave Her Sack and Sherry" and "The Adventuress," the first two Alyx stories by Joanna Russ; both were collected in Russ' The Adventures of Alyx, with "I Gave Her Sack and Sherry" retitled as "I Thought She Was Afeared Till She Stroked My Beard."  Alyx, the tough time-traveling feminist icon would later appear in Russ' award-nominated first novel, Picnic on Paradise.  "I Gave  Her Sack and Sherry" was reprinted in Knight's The Best from Orbit:  Volumes 1-10; "The Adventuress" was reprinted in The Sword and Sorcery Anthology (edited by Jacob Weisman and David G. Hartwell).
  • "The Hole in the Corner" by R. A. Lafferty, which later appeared in Lafferty's collections Nine Hundred Grandmothers, Lafferty in Orbit, and The Man Who Made Models and was reprinted in Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow... (edited by Bonnie L. Heintz, Frank Herbert, Donald A. Joos, and  Agorn McGee), in Timegates (edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois), and in Knight's The Best from Orbit:  Volumes 1-10.
  • "The Food Farm" by Kit Reed, which later appeared in Reed's collections Other Stories and...The Attack of the Giant Baby, Weird Women, Wired Women, and The Story Unitl Now:  A Great Big Book of Stories, and was reprinted in SF12 (edited by Judith Merril), Voyages: Scenarios for a Ship Called Earth (edited by Rob Sauer), Sargent's Women of Wonder, Silverberg's Alpha 6, and The Science Fiction Weight-Loss Book (edited by Isaac Asimov, Greenberg, and George R. R. Martin).
  • "Full Sun" by Brian W. Aldiss, which was reprinted in The World's Best Science Fiction:  1968 (edited by Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr), in Carr's Creatures from Beyond, and in Werewolf! (edited by Bill Pronzini).  (Surprisingly, "Full Sun" does not appear to have been included in any of Aldiss' English-language collections, although it was included in a 1979 Dutch-language collection.)
And not a turkey in the bunch!

Thursday, June 11, 2015


Ed McCurdy.


From Escape, M. R. James' great ghost story "Casting the Runes," starring John McIntire.

Escape hit the air waves on CBS Radio on July 7, 1947 and continued until September 25, 1954, presenting over 230 adapted and original episodes.

"Casting the Runes" was the 15th episode in the series, airing on November 19, 1947.  It was adapted by Irving Ravetch.

Get ready for some chills.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Tome Rush, channeling his inner Bo Diddly.


I saved a lot of money on my car insurance by switching to reverse and leaving the scene,

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Linda Ronstadt.  A great song and a great performer.


Charles Bickford plays the dedicated prison chaplain who feels sorry for a young man (Dennis Moore) given a harsh sentence for forging a ten dollar check, while Barton McLane is the tough prisoner who uses Bickford's interest to plan a breakout.  Mutiny in the Big House was inspired by the 1929 Colorado State Prison riot in which twelve people were killed.

A preachy and predictable, but interesting prison flick.


Monday, June 8, 2015


A voice and a conscience.  One of the greats.  RIP, Ronnie Gilbert (1926-2015)


  • Elizabeth Becka, Trace Evidence.  Mystery, both a debut novel and the first about Evelyn James, a forensic trace evidence expert in Cleveland.
  • Madison Smartt Bell, Straight Cut.  Mystery.
  • J. Madison Davis, Law & Order:  Deadline.  Television tie-in novel.
  • Antonia Fraser, Jemima Shore's First Case Stories.  Mystery collection with 13 stories, five of the about the title character.
  • Ruth Fenisong, Widow's Plight. Mystery novel.  Also published as Widow's Blackmail.
  • Meg Gardiner, The Dirty Secrets Club.  A Jo Beckett mystery.  Becket is a forensic psychiatrist living in San Francisco.  Want to create a detective?  Be sure to include the word "forensic" in his/her job title.
  • "Jack Higgins"  (Harry Patterson), The Killing Ground.  A Sean Dillon spy-guy thriller.
  • Tom Holland, Slave of My Thirst.  Vampire novel featuring Dr. John Eliot and his sidekick, Bram Stoker.
  • Mickey Huff and Andy Lee Roth with Project Censored, editors, Censored 2013.  Nonfiction.  The top censored stories and media analysis of 2011-12.  see also both Carl Jenson and Peter Phillips, below,
  • Alan Hunter, The Scottish Decision.  A George Gently mystery.  Also published as Gabrielle's Way.
  • Carl Jenson and Project Censored, editors, Censored:  The News That Didn't Make the News and Why and 20 Years of Censored News.  Nonfiction.  More censored; the first from 1993 and the second covering the years from  1976 through 1995.  See also Mickey Huff (above) and Peter Phillips (below).
  • William W. Johnstone with "J. A. Johnstone," Flintlock:  Gut-Shot.  Western.   Another seires "inspired by Mr. [William W.] Johnstone's superb storytelling."
  • Kay Kenyon, The Entire and the Rose, Book One:  Bright of the Sky and Book Two:  A World Too Near.  SF novels about a five-armed radial universe in a dimension parallel to our own universe.
  • Laurie R. King, Garment of Shadows.  A Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mystery.
  • [The Amazing Kreskin (born George Joseph Kreske)], Kreskin's Super Secrets.  This is an odd one -- 84 pages that evidently preach how the mind-body connection can help improve your life.  No publication or publisher information given and no author credited.  A few first person references imply that the author was Kreskin.
  • Henning Mankill, Before the Frost.A Linda Wallander mystery.  Translated from the Swedish by Ebba Segerberg.
  • "Michael Marshall" (Michael Marshall Smith), The Intruders.  Thriller with supernatural overtones.  A finalist for the 2007 Steel Dagger award.
  • T. Jefferson Parker, Cold Pursuit.  Mystery involving family grievances between a homicide cop and a murder victim.
  • Louise Penny, Still Life.  The first Inspector Gamache mystery.  Winner of the 2006 New Blood Dagger, the 2006 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel, the 2007 Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the 2007 Barry Award for Best First Novel, the 2007 Dilys Award, and a finalist for the 2010 Barry Award for Best Novel of the Decade.
  • Peter Phillips and Project Censored, editors, Censored 2000, Censored 2003, Censored 2004, Censored 2006, and Censored 2007.  Nonfiction.  More censored. See also Mickey Huff (above), Carl Jenson (above), and the item below.
  • Peter Phillips and Andrew Roth with Project Censored, editors, Censored 2008.  Nonfiction.  More censored.  If you liked Barry Hoffman's Gauntlet magazine, This is a series for you.  Sadly, the previous owner must have smoked like a chimney because these volumes reek!  I'll have to get rid of these as soon as I am finished.  These hefty books cost me a dime apiece, so for that I'll stick a clothes pin on my nose and will keep them away from my other books.
  • Gladys Schwartz and Vic Crume, editors, The Haunted House and Other Spooky Poems and Tales.  Children's anthology of four stories and several handfuls of poems and excerpts.  Pretty tame stuff.
  • Charles Scribner, Jr., In the Company of Writers:  A Life in Publishing.  Autobiography based on the oral history by Joel R. Gardner.
  • "Charles Todd" (Charles and Caroline Todd), An Unmarked Grave.  A Bess Crawford mystery.  Winner of the 2013 Macavity Award for Best Historical Mystery and a 2012 finalist for the Best Historical Mystery.
  • Victor Thorn, JFK's Gay Slayers.  A 38-page homophobic screed of innuendo, half-truths, bigotry, and (for some reason) UFOs.  Total garbage...but fascinating in a train wreck sort of way.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


Here's a "camera interview" of  author Rider Haggard at his Norfolk country house in 1923.


The Choir of Hexham Abbey.

Saturday, June 6, 2015


Will Holt (1929-2015).  RIP.

DOLL MAN #35 (AUGUST 1951)

Before Antman there was Doll Man, a diminutive caped superhero in a skin tight blue suit.  Not as small as today's Antman, Doll Man appears to be about the same size as a Chatty Cathy, Betsie Wetsy, or Ginnie doll.  Small he may be, but he packs a punch -- a teeny, tiny, potent punch.  I don't know if he can fly or just leap high, but several panels show him in mid-air as he's about to deliver a can of whoop-ass.

Doll Man is really scientist Darrel Dane, which is funny because his companion is Elmo the Wonder Dog -- a Great Dane.  Elmo seems to be much smarter and a better judge of people than Doll Man who,frankly comes across as a dim bulb.  To become Doll Man, all Darrel has to do is concentrate.  Now, neither Darrel nor Doll Man wear masks, nor does Darrel wear glasses, a la Clark Kent, so it's a wonder that people do not realize that Doll Man looks exactly like a small Darrel.  Secret identities seem to be secret by way of a gentleman's agreement in Comic Book Land.

Also, beautiful, shapely women are either gangsters or spies in Doll Man's world.  This fact probably 1) panders to a very young male audience, and 2) allows our hero not to come down with a bad case of cooties.

Doll Man is the star of three adventures in this issue.  First, he goes against The Prophet of Doom who predicts that the small town of Barville will be struck by a meteor.  In the second, a gang of thugs (dressed like Klan members) are led by Rama, a voodoo master who is targeting government men.  Finally, Doll Man faces spies armed with a paralyzing ray.

Blonde bombshell Torchy (Hubba!  Hubba!) stars in a comic story in which Torchy's two-piece bathing suit draws unwanted attention from every man on the beach.

The inside front cover of issue #35 has a full page ad for Wilson's Cloverine Brand Salve.  Remember that?  If you sell enough salve, kids, you can win a bicycle of a watch or an air rifle or a doll or...As far as I know, no kid in my neighborhood ever fell for this scam (just as no kid I knew sold GRIT, America's newspaper).  I did have a friend who fell for a Charles Atlas ad such as the one on the back cover.  With Atlas, once you complete the first step of training you would be sent a "solid gold pin."  My buddy was really p.o. when he was sent a solid gold colored plastic pin.  The words he used to describe Mr. Atlas then were not suitable for a boy of his age.

Enjoy Doll Man #35.  But don't fall for the ads!

Friday, June 5, 2015


A bit of calypso from Edmundo Ros.


WT50:  A Tribute to Weird Tales (1974) and The Weird Tales Story (1977) written and edited by Robert Weinberg

Weird Tales, "The Unique Magazine," began with the March 1923 issue,  It was published by J. C. (Jacob Clark) Henneberger and J. M. Lansinger's Rural Publications, Inc., a new company which started Weird Tales and Real Detective Tales and Mystery Stories at the same time.  Both magazines were edited by Edwin Baird, assisted by music critic Farnsworth Wright and author and later literary agent Otis Adelbert Kline.

Weird Tales, arguably the first magazine of it's kind, did not click.  Sales were poor and Baird proved to be an erratic editor.  Henneberger, who had long dreamed of publishing an all-fantasy magazine, had faith in the concept and purchased the magazine from his partner.  Part of the deal had Baird remaining editor of Real Detective, which was now completely owned by Lansinger.  Henneberger tapped Farnsworth Wright to edit the newly restructured magazine,

It was a wise choice.  Wright knew what his readers wanted.  He filled his magazine with stories of literary merit and with slam-bang lesser stories that appealed to the general reader.  Despite being handicapped with progressively worse Parkinson's Disease, Wright transformed Weird Tales into one of the country's most important pulp magazines during his seventeen-year tenure. Regular contributors included H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Seabury /Quinn, Robert Bloch, Henry Kuttner, Henry S. Whitehead, E. Hoffman Price, Frank Belknap Long, Greye la Spina, August Derleth, Edmond Hamilton, Hugh B.  Cave, H. Warner Munn, Carl Jacobi, C. L. Moore, Mary Elizabeth Counselman,  Manly Wade Wellman, Nictzin Dyalhis, David H. Keller, and Jack Williamson, among many others.  Wright also published a not very good story by 14-year old Thomas Lanier Williams -- the first professional publication by an author who would later be known as Tennessee Williams.  Wright also nurtured the careers of artists such as Virgil Finley, Hannes Bok. Margaret Brundage,   Hugh Rankin, J. Allen St. John, and Curtis C. Senf were among the well-known artists recruited for Weird Tales.

In 1940, the magazine was sold and Dorothy McIlwraith became the editor.  (Toward the end, Wright's palsy was so bad he could not hold a pencil in his hand.  He died several months later.)  McIlwraith continuing publishing many of the magazines mainstays as well as newer authors such as Ray Bradbury, Fritz Leiber,  Joseph Payne Brennan, Margaret St. Clair, and Fredric Brown.  SF legend Robert E. Heinlein even made an appearance.

By the end of that decade, it was obvious that times were changing.  Prosperity, competition, and such things as television were changing America's habits.  Pulp magazines were on the way out.  Budgets were tight and, despite moving to a digest format, Weird Tales died, it's final issue dated September 1954.

In 1973, Robert Weinberg -- an acknowledged expert on the magazine -- began editing and writing WT50:  A Tribute to Weird Tales, to commemorate the magazine's fiftieth anniversary.  The self-published, perfect-bound, typed book contains 17 articles and remembrances by people associated with the magazine and by noted fans, as well as five stories by Robert E. Howard (two stories), Carl Jacobi, Joseph Payne Brennan, and H. Warner Munn.  An obvious work of love, the remembrances are the heart of the collection.  Here, E. Hoffman Price pays tribute to his friend Farnsworth Wright, giving new insights into the man.  Robert Bloch, Frank Belknap Long, Wallace West, and others tell of their experiences with the magazine.  Joseph Payne Brennan explains what Weird Tales meant to him and how important it was to have a story accepted by the magazine.  And Weinberg pays tribute to the magazine's great cover art and artists in a longish article bedecked with many examples (reprinted in black and white, alas).

In 1972, T. E. Dikty and Darrell Richardson founded FAX Collector's Editions, a small press devoted to publishing material from and about pulp magazines.  In 1977 they published Weinberg's The Weird Tales Story, an expanded look at the magazine that incorporated much of the material in WT50.  Included is a detailed history of the magazine under its three editors and remembrances (some of which had been included in WT50) by Frank Belknap Long, E. Hoffman Price, Greye la Spina. H. Warner Munn, Robert E. Howard, Edmond Hamilton, Wallace West, Manly Wade Wellman, Carl Jacobi, Robert Bloch, Robert Barbour Johnson, Lee Brown Coye, and Joseph Payne Brennan.  There are also long sections on the magazine's cover and interior art with many examples include (again, alas, reprinted in black and white).  The magazine and the people around it come through clearly in this second tribute.

Weird Tales is the magazine that will not die.  The title was purchased by Leo Margulies who brought the magazine back in 1973 under the editorship of Sam Moskowitz,  It lasted four issues,  Weinberg himself bought the rights to the magazine several years later from Margulies' widow.  In 1980, he leased the rights to Lin Carter who revived the magazine as a quarterly paperback series.  this, too, lasted for four issues.  A third (and somewhat murky) attempt to back the magazine was done by West Coast publisher Brian Forbes who put out two issues, one in 1985 (dated 1984) and one in 1986 (dated 1985).  The current incarnation began in 1988 when Terminus Publishing Company leased the rights with George Scithers, Darrell Schweitzer, and John Gregory Betancourt as editors.  Betancourt left in 1990 and shortly after Schweitzer became the sole editor with Scithers as publisher.  In 1994, rights to the title expired and the magazine changed it name to Worlds of Fantasy and Horror.  This lasted for four irregularly published issues.  Warren Lapine of DNA Pulblications became published in 1998, with Scithers and Schweitzer as editors.  Betancourt, now with Wildside Press, rejoined the magazine as co-publisher in 2003.  Weird Tales now had three publishers (Terminus, DNA, and Wildside) -- a confusing situation which only added to an erratic publishing schedule, By 2005 the dust had settled somewhat and Betancourt was the sole publisher and co-editor.  In 2010, Ann Vandermeer was named editor as the magazine moved more to 'new Horror."  In 2011 Weird Tales was sold again, this time to Marvin Kaye, who took over as editor in 2012.  The future of the magazine -- or, at least, this incarnation -- is iffy, but if there is one thing history has shown us it is that we can never count Weird Tales out.

There have been many reprint anthologies taken from the brittle and browned pages of Weird Tales but very few books about the legendary magazine.  These two by Weinberg are keepers.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


The Beau Brummels,  A favorite song from back when.


The Horrible Hamburger in this story is the name of a restaurant and not the sandwich my granddaughter made for me tonight.  (It was yummy, Ceili!)

Leslie Charteris' character has had many incarnations:  in novels and stories, in film, on the radio,  in the self-named mystery magazine, on television, and in comic books.  Simon Templar -- to say nothing about the little stick figure with the halo -- was at one time one of the most recognize in popular culture, right up there with Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Superman, and Mickey Mouse.

One of the radio shows (from 1947-1951) featured Vincent Price in the title role.  The show was featured first on CBS Radio, the the Mutual Network, and finally on NBC Radio.  Price was a good fit for the character, far better than Tom Conway (one-time movie Falcon and the brother of George Sanders, a movie Saint), IMHO.

From September 10, 1950, here's the Robin Hood of Modern Crime.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Jean Ritchie (December 8, 1922-June 1, 2015).  RIP.


It was Roy's birthday and Dale had given him the most beautiful pair of boots that he had ever seen.  Roy's heart was bubbling  over with love -- for Dale, for his new boots, for the whole gosh-darned world.  Roy decided he go riding for a bit while Dale stayed at the ranch crocheting a vest for Bullet, so Roy saddled up Trigger and away he went.

It was a gorgeous morning.  Blue sky, crisp morning air, a magnificent vista, and a mean mountain lion.  Yeah, there was a mountain lion and he was in a very bad mood.  He leaped and knocked Roy right off the saddle.  Trigger, being the smartest horse in the world, high-tailed it out of there.  (I said he was smart, not brave.)

The mountain lion should have known better than to mess with the King of the Cowboys, but he didn't so they fought.  They fought for five minutes before the mountain lion had had enough and scurried away.  Roy was unhurt, but his brand new boots were a mess, scratched and torn and dirty and full of teeth marks.  Dejected, Roy headed back to the ranch where Trigger was waiting for him.

Later that afternoon, his crew went off riding and returned about an hour later.  Tied across one saddle one saddle was a very dead mountain lion.  The ranch foreman said, "Pardon me, Roy, is that the cat who chewed your new shoes?"* **

* insert rim shot here
**Thanks, Richard

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


 British comedian and actor Arthur Askey.  It is true that he and the Queen Mother were never seen in the same room together. but it doesn't necessarily follow that one was the secret identity of the other, as the magazine Private Eye would suggest on the 1970s.


Remember those days when war was fun and the good guys always win?  When our soldiers were clean-cut and bathed.  Where each individual members of a team that the one quirk which defined them?  Ah, those were the glory days of WWII!  Especially in the hot sands of North Africa -- a North Africa peopled by friendly, unresentful natives.

From September  1966, here's the pilot episode of The Rat Patrol,  "The Chase of Fire Raid," staring Christopher George, Gary Raymond, Lawrence Casey, and Justin Tarr as the jeep-riding quartet who harass and pester German forces.  In this episode, they must find and destroy a buried fuel supply before the Germans get to it.


Monday, June 1, 2015


  • John Barnes, Daybreak Zero and Directive 51.  Sf technothrillers in the Daybreak series.
  • Stephen Baxter, Coalescent, Manifold:  Origin, Manifold:  Space, Manifold:  Time, and Moonseed.  Hard SF.
  • Eoin Colfer, The Wish List.  YA fantasy.
  • Justin Cronin, The Passage and The Twelve.  Post-apocalyptic SF.
  • Dorothy Dunnett, Dolly and the Starry Bird.  A Johnson Johnson mystery.  "Dolly" is Johnson's yacht.
  • Linda Gerber, The Death by Bikini Mysteries.  Mystery omnibus containing Death by Bikini, Death by Latte and Death by Denim.
  • Holly Lisle, Hawkspar.  Fantasy.
  • Michael Malone, Handling Sin.  Literary novel,
  • Steve Parker, Gunheads.  Gaming (Warhammer 40,000) tie-in novel in the Imperial Guard series.
  • Steve Perry, Aliens, Book 1:  Earth Hive.  Movie franchise tie-in novel.
  • Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, The Wheel of Darkness.  a Pendergast thriller.
  • "Spencer Quinn" (Peter Abrahams), The Sound and the Furry.  A Chet and Bernie mystery.
  • "Sandy Schofield" (Kristne Kathryn Rusch & Dean Wesley Smith), Predator:  Big Game.  Movie franchise tie-in novel.
  • Manny Segarra, The President's General 505:  A Crude Affair.  Spy guy thriller.  The author is a nephew of William Kennedy, author of Ironweed.  This copy is signed by the author and inscribed to the previous owner.
  • "Darren Shan"  (Darren O'Shaughnessy), Cirque du Freak #8:  Allies of the Night.  YA fantasy.
  • John Stewart, Naked Pictures of Famous People.  Collection of 19 humorous essays by the host (for a few more weeks, anyway) of The Daily Show.
  • L. B. Taylor, Jr., Civil War Ghosts of Virginia.  I can be kind and call this folklore, or I can be snarky and call it psychic phenomena bushwah, or I can just let you decide.  This copy is signed by the author and inscribed to the previous owner.
  • Gene Wolfe, The Knight.  Fantasy,  The first half of The Wizard Knight.