Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, July 31, 2015


The Three Palladins by Harold Lamb (1977)

Lamb, noted for his historical novels and biographies, first published this novel about a young Genghis Khan  as three-part serial in Adventure magazine in 1923.  Donald M. Grant did pulp fiction fans a great faor when he rescued the tale from its tattered pulp pages and published this novel in a limited edition in 1977 with full color illustrations by Cathy Hill.

Fifteen-year-old Mingan, a prince of Cathay and nephew of the Emperor, is about to accompany his uncle's court on a hunt to celebrate the feast day of Hao.  This day has a special meaning for Mingan for at last he will be allowed to wear the insignia of manhood and nobility for the first.  Unable to sleep soundly the night before, he is awakened by a shadow moving stealthily across the screen in his room.  It's the executioner known as "The Servant of Mercy" -- so-called because he strangles those nobles whose rank is too high for beheading.  Mingan narrowly escapes this attempt on his life, as well as several other attempts that day.

Who in the Emperor's court would order Mingan's execution, and why?  The answer comes pretty soon:  Chung-hi, the heir to the throne and Mingan's old playmate.  Chung-hi is systematically eliminating any possible claimants to the throne in anticipation of the eventual death of the old emperor, including Mingan who, acccording to prophecy, is destined to  have a great future in his country.

Fleeing past the Great Wall, Mignan finds himself in Mongol territory where he meets and befriends a boy his own age, Temujin, the son of the Mongol Khan.  Riding together, they soon learn that Temjujin's father is dying, the victim of poisoning.  They arrived at the Khan's camp too late.  The old Khan has died and many of the tribes and clans loyal to him refuse pledge their loyalty to his young and unproven son.

Left with only a few loyal followers, Temujin struggles over the next few years as several loyal clan leaders die and as the Mongol herds are attacked by unknown raiders.

Things come to head when Podu, the head of the gypsies arranges for a festival for all the clan leaders.  The leaders plan to strip Temujin of any power and to elect a new Khan.  Podu hopes to arrange the marriage of his daughter Burta to whoever emerges as the new Khan.  Temujin, who was not expected to show up at the festival, arrives with a small force of oldiers and with his three palladins:  Mingan the Cathay, Chepe Noyan (the Tiger) who is a Christian from the court of the mysterious and legendary Prester John, and Subotai (the Buffalo), a giant Tatar.

Things go south pretty fast.  Jamuka, an old enemy of Temujin, has allied himself with Prester John.  He murders Podu and tries to kill Temujin.  Temujin, his palladins, and Burta escape, but not before Mingan is speared through the lung during the battle.  It takes months for Mingan to recuperate under Burta's care.  In the meantine, Temujin as recruited many of the clans and has become the Great Khan -- or Genghis Khan, also known as the Man-Killer.

Jamuka stumbles across the isolated spot where Mingan is healing.  He buries the wounded palladin upto his head in sand to let the desert seal Mingan's fate.  He captures Burta and carries her to the palace of Prester John.  Mingan is discovered, barely alive, by Chepe Noyan, who had been sent ot check on his comrade and Burta.

Now our heroes must travel into the heart of Prester John's Territory to save the gypsy princess and to wreak their vengeance.  The shadowy and powerful Prester John, rumored to be centuries old, awaits them.

A fast-moving, slam-bang adventure tale -- the type the pulps did so well back in the day.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


We signed papers with a real estate agent.  Our house will be going on the market next week.  Home prices in this area are very depressed  --  as a result so are we.  **sigh**  C'est la vie.  Actually, Sigh la vie.

Very slowly going through my books.  Thus far, twenty-one bankers boxes have gone to various charities, as have some pieces of furniture.

Still have no idea where in Pensacola we're going to live.  We really should be working on that soon.

On another note, my Uncle Arthur's widow, Thelma Paignon House, passed away at age 102.  Despite blindness in recent years, she manage to stay at home until the end.  Thelma was always a gracious lady.  She will be missed.  Thelma was the last of the Paignons and the last of that generation of my family.  With her death, a page of my personal history has been closed.

Monday, July 27, 2015


Nope.  Not really.  Fooled ya.  Nothing new this week. Hah!

The reason?  I've been concentrating on Outgoing this week.

We're moving.  So long Southern Maryland.  Hello Florida Panhandle.  And, no, there's not a posse chasing us.

Our son-in-law Walt is headed to Pensacola.  He does some sort of computer work for the government (exactly what, we don't know...that way they won't have to kill us) and Pensacola is apparently the place to be.  All this came up as a very "tentative" two weeks ago and became a sure thing this past week.  Walt and Christina went down to Pensacola a few days ago and bought a house.  If all goes well, they be moving around Labor Day and we'll be going with them.

Exactly where Kitty and I will be going is unknown at present.  An apartment.  A small house.  A cardboard box under the bridge.  The possibilities are endless.  That's something we'll work out in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, there are things to do.

Like sell our house.  Because of the current state of the economy (thank you,George Bush), we'll be taking a financial bath.  Our house is about thirty years old -- not old enough nor new enough to have us come out of this on the plus side.  It's a comfortable place on a good lot of land and has served us well for the past decade.  I hope we can find something as comfortable within our price range in Florida.  I also hope we can find a place that will take our dog, three cats, and our (soon-to-be) nineteen-year-old granddaughter.  (Christina's new house will be filled with the three kids, three dogs, three cats, the Burmese python, the bearded dragon, the tortoise, the hedgehog, and (I'm sure I'm forgetting some animals, so     [inset animal type here]  . Sadly, the goats won't be coming along.)

And then there's the problem of my books.  I just can't take them all -- especially since I d have to get rid of a lot of them.  So the next few weeks I'll be culling them down to just an umpty-ump thousand or so.  And what to do with the culled books?  Oy.

And Christina and Walt have to sell their house.  And move all their stuff.  And all their soap-making equipment; Cove Lake Soapworks will no longer be at Cove Lake.  And Christina will have to go job-hunting.   And the Kangaroo will have to get a new team of medical experts.  And we'll have to line up doctors for our various, albeit pretty insignificant, problems.  And Ceili will have to find a new job.  And.  And.  And...

And come May, once Amy graduates high school. Jessie will also be be moving to the Pensacola area.  Amy's college plans for Maryland's Eastern Shore have been replaced by any decent Florida school with a Marine Biology focus -- and there are a lot of them on the Gulf.

And for the next few weeks blogging will be light.  I hope to get back to regular blogging soon.

Moving is a pain in the butt.  It'll be worth it.  I'm looking forward to what the next chapter in our lives will bring.

Monday, July 20, 2015


  • John Joseph Adams, editor, The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Dominion.  SF anthology with 22 stories. 
  • Robert Adams, editor, Phantom Regiments.  Fantasy anthology with fifteen stories of military ghosts.  Pamela Crippen Adams and Martin H. Greenberg are included in the copyright notice.
  • "Alan Burt Akers" (Kenneth Bulmer), Transit to Scorpio, The Suns of Scorpio, Warriors of Scorpio, and Prince of Scorpio.  Planetary romance novels a la Edgar Rice Burroughs. These are the first three and the fifth novels in the Delian Cycle of the Dray Prescot series.  There were 52 volumes in the series, comprising of at least nine "cycles."  A number of later books in the series were also printed as by "Dray Prescot," while some later books appeared only under the author's true name.  
  • Poul Anderson, Kinship with the Stars.  Sf collection with eight stories and the short novel "A Bicycle Built for Brew" (previously published in book form as The Makeshift Rocket).
  • Todhunter Ballard, Lost Gold.  Western collection with the title novel and a short story.  Mary Thorne must match wits with a notorious cutthroat if she is to survive and claim her grandfather's treasure. 
  • Kate Bernheimer, editor, XO Orpheus:  Fifty New Myths.  Fantasy anthology with 50 twists on old myths and stories.
  • David Brin, Existence. SF novel.  Gerald Livingston makes his living collecting space debris, then one day he "collects" an alien artifact.
  • Bill Brooks, Dakota Lawman:  Killing Mr. Sunday.  Western novel, the second in a series.  Legendary gunman Billy Sunday is dying and wants to reconcile with his daughter, but there are a lot of people who would rather see him dead.
  • John Carnell, editor, New Writings in SF -- 12.  SF anthology with six stories.
  • Lin Carter, Lost Worlds.  Fantasy collection with nine stories, including posthoumous collabrations with Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith.
  • James P. Coyne, Strike Eagles.  SF.  "A Visual Novel of the War of Tomorrow."  See also Michael A. Palmer, below.
  • John Curran, Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks.  Compiled and edited by Curran from 73 handwritten volumes of notes, lists, and drafts.  Includes two unpublished Hercule Poirot short stories.
  • Gordon R.Dickson, Invaders! and Survival!  SF collections with eight and twelve stories, respectively.
  • David Drake, The Voyage.  Military SF novel.  Lissea Doorman gathers a crew of mercenaries for a desperate mission to the Lost Colony. 
  • Alan Dean Foster, STAR TREK LOG FIVE.  Television tie-in collection of three stories adapted from the animated Star Trek series.
  • Hal Foster, Prince Valiant, Vol. I:  1937-1938 and Vol. 2:  1939-1940.  The first two volumes of the collected strips.  Evan Lewis featured Vol. 6 on his blog last week so when I serindipitously had a chance to pick up these drool-worthy collections, I jumped at it.
  • Christopher Golden, editor, 21st Century Dead.  Zombie anthology with 19 stories.
  • Heather Graham (a.k.a., Heather Graham Pozzessere), The Keepers.  Paranormal romance novel, the first in a series continued by Alex Sokoloff and Deborah LeBlanc.  Fiona MacDonald is a Keeper, one designated to maintain a delicate balance with the unworldly in New Orleans; she must join vampire detective Jagger DeFarge in a hunt for a killer who could tear the city apart.
  • Joseph Green, Conscience Interplanetary.  Sf fix-up novel from four short stories.  Allen Odegaard is a member of the Practical Philsopher Corps, trained to detect intelligent life-forms on newly colonized planets.
  • Martin H.Greenberg, editor, My Favorite Fantasy Story.  Eighteen fantasy authors present their favorites by other authors.
  • Martin H. Greenberg and Brittiany A. Koren, editors, Fantasy Gone Wrong.  Fantasy anthology with 16 stories..
  • Miriam Gross, editor, The World of Raymond Chandler.  Nonfiction anthology with 14 articles on Chandler.
  • Paula Guran, editor, The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2010.  Annual collection with 39 stories from 2009.
  • Steve Hamilton, Blood in the Sky and Ice Run.   Steve McKnight mysteries.
  • M. John Harrison, The Centauri Device.  SF novel.  John Truck is the last of the mysterious Centaurians, and the only one who can operate the bomb they left behind.
  • Carl Hiaasen. Paradise Screwed.  Nonfiction collection of selected columns from the Miami Herald, arranged in 24 sections.  Edited by Diane Stevenson.
  • Alfred H. Holt, Phrase and Word Origins:  A Studyof Familiar Expressions.  Nonfiction.  Who doesn't lovvve words?
  • Jay Hopler, editor, The Killing Spirit.  Crime anthology with seventeen stories and novel exerpts about hired killers.
  • Carla Jablonski, The Books of Magic:  The Invitation.  YA fantasy novel, the first of six based on the graphic novel series created by Neil Gaiman and John Bolton.  Thirteen-year-old Timothy Hunter may be the most powerful magician of his time...if he survives.
  • Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga, The Walking Dead:  Rise of the Governor.  Teleision tie-in novel.  The story of how one of the television show's greatest villians became the Governor.  Kirkman is the creator of The Walking Dead comic books.
  • Andrew Klavan, Dynamite Road.  A Weiss and Bishop crime novel.  The "Shadowman" is the anme tagged on to every heinous crime that goes unsolved.  Corruption at a California airport leads PIs Weiss and Bishop on the trail of Shadowman murders.
  • Louis L'Amour, The Man from Broken Hills, Ride the River,and The Warrior's Path. western novels in the Sacketts saga;  Kiowa Trail, western novel;.  Lonigan, collection of six western stories, and The Outlaws of Mesquite, western collection of eight stories; The Riders of High Rock, Hopalong Cassidy novel first published as by "Jim Mayo; The Haunted Mesa, a "modern" western novel; and The Walking Drum, a historical novel.
  • Keith Laumer, Back to the Time Trap.  SF novel.  Roger Tyson is one a several earthmen bouncing back and forth through time via an alien timegate.  
  • Stan Lee, editor, The Ultimate Silver Surfer.  Comic book tie-in anthology with 15 stories.
  • Donna Leon, Friends in High Places.  A Commissario Brunetti mystery.  Bureaucratic red tape leads to murder in Venice.
  • The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,   November-December, 2012.
  • Richard Matheson, Other Kingdoms.  Fantasy.  An injured American soldier recuperates in a small English village in 1918; the neighboring woods are said to harbor malevolent spirits.
  • David McDaniel, The Arsenal Out of Time.  SF novel.  A spy, an archeologist, and a lady try to find some super-race's hidden weapons cache.
  • Vonda N. McIntyre, Star Trek III:  The Search for Spock.  Movie tie-in novel.
  • Merril, Judith, The Best of Judith Merril and Out of Bounds.  SF collections with seven and eleven stories, respectively, with some overlap.
  • Michael Moorcock, The Nomad of Time.  Sf omnibus containing three Oswald Bastable novels:  The Warlord of the Air. The Land Leviathan, and The Steel Czar.
  • Andre Norton, The Magic Books.  YA fantasy omnibus containing Fur Magic, Steel Magic, and Octagon Magic.
  • Norvell Page, Robot Titans of Gotham.  Pulp hero omnibus containing Satan's Murder Machine, Death Reign of the Vampire King, and The Octopus.  The first two feature The Spider and were originally published as by "Grant Stockbridge;" the last features  Dr. Skull and was originally published as The City Condemned to Hell under the name "Randolph Craig."
  • Michael A. Palmer,  Arctic Strike!  SF.  "A Visual novel of the War of Tomorrow."  See also James P. Coyne, above.
  • [Perry Rhodan], #11 The Planet of the Dying Sun by Kurt Mahr, #12 The Rebels of Tuglan by Clark Darlton, #21 The Cosmic Decoy by K. H. Scheer. #22 The Fleet of the Springers by Kurt Mahr, #24 Infinity Flight by Clark Darlton, #26 Cosmic Traitor by Kurt Brand (title page credits Clark Darlton), #27 Planet of the Gods by Kurt Mahr, #28 The Plague of Oblivion by Clark Darlton, and #34 SOS:  Spaceship Titan! by Kurt Brand.  Bottom-level SF series about the "Peacelord of the Universe" comes Germany and was created by Karl-Herbert Scheer and Walter Ernsting.  The series began in 1961 and is still going strong with #2815 (!) due out at the end of this month.  The American translations (by Wendayne Ackerman) were edited by Forrest J. Ackerman and published by Ace Books; later books were published in digest form by Master Publications.  145 books in the series were translated into English.  Many of the Ace books have additional material.
  • Samuel H. Post, anonymous editor, The 6 Fingers of Time.  Sf anthology with six stories from If (the cover erroneously state the stories are from Galaxy).
  • Byron Preiss, editor, Weird Heroes, Volume Eight.  SF/fantasy anthology with five stories.
  • Steve Ramey andd Jamie Lackey, editors, Triangulation:  Last Contact. 2011 edition of this annual speculative fiction anthology; 28 stories in this one.  Signed and inscribed to previous owner by Ramey.
  • Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Star Trek:  Prime Directive.  Television franchise tie-in novel taking place in the last year of the Enterprise's original five-year mission
  • Mike Resnick, The Soul Eater.  Sf novel.  Nicobar Lane is a hunter for hire.  The Soul Eater is a myth of the spaceways.  They meet up in the depths of space, but who will be hunting who?
  • Mike Resnick and Robert T. Garcia, editor, Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Homage SF/fantasy anthology with eleven stories
  • David B. Riley, editor, Six-Guns Straight from Hell 2.  Weird western anthology with nine stories.
  • David Robbins, Nowhere, TX.  Western novel, one of those labeled "a Ralph Compton novel,"  and supposedly one written with the flavor of that dead writer.  Nowhere, Texas, was a border town overrun with outlaws, then the citizens decided to change that.  There are probably more Ralph Compton novels written by other hands than by Compton himself.
  • Arthur W. Saha, editor, The Year's Best Fantasy Stories:  13.  Fantasy anthology with eleven stories from 1986.
  • "Jon Sharpe" (house name), The Trailsman #249:  Silver City Slayer and #287:  The California Camel Corps.  Adult westerns.  I'll let you guess the real authors.
  • Dennis Sanders & Len Lovallo, The Agatha Christie Companion:  The Complete Guide to Agatha Christie's Life & Work.  Nonfiction.  A 1984 edition.
  • Geroge Scithers, editor, Asimov's Choice:  Extraterrestials & Eclipses.  SF anthology with twelve stories from IASFM.
  • Bob Shaw, Orbitsville Departure.  SF novel.  Orbitsille is an artificial world  -- a shell enclosing its own sun -- with a mass of fivve billion earths.  Gary Dallen tries to discover who built it, and why.
  • D. L. Snell & Elijah Hall, editors,  The Undead:  Zombie Anthology.  Horror anthology with two dozen storie
  • Tim Somheil, The Destroyer #143:  Bad Dog.  Men's action adventure novel in the series created by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir.
  • Michael Stadther, 100 Puzzles, Clues, Maps, Tantalizing Tales, and Stories of Real Treasure.  Half puzzle book and half stories of arious lost treasures and historical puzzlers.  Many of the puzzles seem simplistic and a number of them involve famliar optical illusions.
  • Brian M. Thomsen, editor, The American Fantasy Tradition.  Fantasy anthology with 43 stories.
  • Jay Williams & Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn and the Swamp Monster.  Juvenile SF novel in the once-popular series.
  • Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr, editors, World's Best Science Fiction 1971.  The seventh annual edition of this SF series with 15 stories from 1970.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


Here's Harlan Ellison being interviewed by audiobook producer Stefan Rudnicki.  On writing, his career, "The City on the Edge of Forever", audiobooks, the Rolling Stones, and much more.


Dock Walsh -- Going Back to Jericho -- bluegrass gospel from 1926.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Lefty Frizzell.


From the Fury Comics website:

"The character of Peter Wheat was created by Walt Kelly, as part of a promotional campaign, for Peter Wheat Bread and Bakers Associates.  The Peter Wheat product, as opposed to the character, was a prepackaged bread.

"The 'Adventures of Peter Wheat' comic book was produced by Dell Publishing and then sold to bakeries and stores, who then had their names printed on the cover.  The comic books were given away free as part of the promotion.

"The book containing 16 pages was published between 1948 and 1956.  There are a total of 66 known issues, plus a several fun  books containing coloring pages and puzzles.  Also part of the campaign was the smaller 'Peter Wheat News'.

"Peter Wheat is a very small boy who has a close circle of animal friends, such as birds and beetles.  Peter is the same size as the animals and the stories relate the adentures they have together.

"The first 35 issues featured Walt Kelly's stories and art work and were published monthly.   Issues after this were written by Del Connell and drawn by Al Hubbard and were produced at irregular times."

If, as the above implies, the artwork was done by Hubbard, he did a fantastic job copying Kelly style.

Enjoy.  And be sure to buy some Peter Wheat, on second thought, better not -- I think Peter Wheat Bread went belly-up some time ago so any you might find could be pretty moldy.

Friday, July 17, 2015


Today would have been my mother's 93rd birthday.

She never cared for the name given her at birth and I can't blame her:  Millard was a lousy name for a president and a lousy name for a little girl.  (Her mother's name was MILdred and her father's name (not that he used it) was BernARD -- get it?)  Luckily her middle name was Harriet, which she was known by.  When she was old enough, she decided she preferred Harriette -- "with two ts and an e."

When she was seven, her father was killed in a gas explosion.  Her mother, a somewhat flighty person made even more flightier by widowhood, moed to Florida with my mother's baby sister. y mother stayed in New England with the woman who raised Mildred.  (She was a relative, but I'm not sure what the relationship was; it was a fairly common practice to take in orphaned relatives and raised them.)  This was during the depression; even though there was not much money, there was a comfortable roof over her head and plenty of food -- a benefit of living in a farming community.

She was nineteen when she married my father, who called her Peg.  ("Peg o' My Heart" was a poopular song.)  She moved in with him on the farm were he worked.  My sister Linda was born in 1943, followed by three failed pregnancies.  The Rh factor was just beginning to be understood by the time I was born, the first person in our area to survive this condition, thanks to numerous blood transfusions.  My brother Ken came along 14 months later but, despite blood transfusions,  remained sickly; finally the hospital sent him home to die but Ken fooled'em and began to thrive.

My mother had a basic laissez faire attitude to raising boys.  We were allowed to run wild.  My sister, though, was somewhat different.  My mother taught her and some of her friends how to cook and helped run her Brownie troop.  My mother was basically a housewife; her two attempts at working in later years were short-lived.  She remained active in the community for most of her life.

She had a few health problems.  A minor bout with cancer.  Moving about with a bad back earned her the name "Scoots," a name given her by my brother and not by me, despite thoughts to the contrary.  We called her Scoots from that point on.

After my father died, she was lost for a while.  Eventually she started seeing a local man, a local man who was recently widowed.  They remained companions for over twenty years.  She died at home at  age 84.

She had a long life and a good one, speckled with some heartache, but not enough heartache to be overwhelming.  We should all be so lucky.


The latest addition to our family turned three yesterday.  Christina and Walt adopted the Kangaroo this past January, but he has been with us almost from the git-go.  They began fostering him when he was only six-weeks-old, following his six-week stay at Children's Hospital detoxing from drugs.  (Normally I would give the mother of a drug-addicted child some benefit of the doubt because few people deliberately become addicted but in this case, the Kangaroo's birth mother was terrible on so many counts.  Thank God her parental rights were terminated last winter, making it possible for Christina and Walt to go through with the adoption.)

Because of his start in life, Jack has some hurdles to overcome and he has already overcome many.  He is a bright, sweet, loving boy who likes to run and sing and dance and watch Curious George.  (A mistake was made when Walt watched an episode of The Walking Dead while Jack was in the room; he now loves zombies.)  Jack gives great hugs (with pats) and makes friends wherever he goes.  He brightens our days and tires us out with his energy.  We love him more than we could have imagined.

Jack spent his birthday bouncing on a trampoline and watching big sister Erin get her ears pierced,  Time with Erin is almost as special as time with Mommy and Daddy.

Congratulations, Jack!  If you thought two was a good age, wait until you see what three has in store for you!


Kay Starr.  From 1954, an English language version of Edith Piaf's "Hymn l'Amour."


Mists of Dawn by Chad Oliver (1952)

Chad Oliver (1928-1993) was a Texas-raised science fiction fan who peppered the letter columns of the SF magazines when he was a teen, signing his missives "The Mad Lad."  He went on to become an anthropologist and a a professor of anthropology at the University of Texas.  Oliver's fiction often combined his two loves -- anthropology and the American Southwest -- producing a distinquished stream of novels and stories.

Mists of Dawn, his first novel was written when he was a doctoral student and rigorously used the latest anthropological knowledge to build a fast-paced, entertaining story about a youth trapped in the Neandethal world of 50,000 B.C.  17-year old Mark Nye is accidently thrown against the controls of his uncle's experimental space-time machine and finds himself in the distant past.  Stalked by Neandethals, Mark finds refuge with a group of Cro-Magnons.  The basic problems remains, though:  How can Mark bridge the 52 millenia that separates him from his home?

George Kelly's recent 'Time Travel Week" on his (always excellent) blog brought back memories of some of the time travel novels I read as a kid. most notably those featured in the Winston Adventures in Science Fiction series -- books such as Evan Hunter's Find the Feathered Serpent and Danger:  Dinosaurs, Poul Anderson's Vault of the Ages, as well as Mists of Dawn.

Mists of Dawn was exciting when I read it as a kid.  It's still a darned good read.


Thursday, July 16, 2015


Harry Belafonte.


The Hall of Fantasy was a half-hour anthology radio program that began in 1947 with eight episodes, then ran weekly from 1949 to 1954 from KALL studios in Salt Lake City.  The show was written and produced by Richard Thorne and featured both original and adapted works.  (One source gives Robert Olson as the writer and Thorne and Cral Greyson as announcers.)  Leroy Ollinger was the director and music was by Harold Turner.

This episode is based on a short story by Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, and stars Eloise Kummer.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Dougie MacLean.


Why can't you hear a pterodactyl going to the bathroom?

Because the p is silent.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Today is Bastille Day.  It is also my late mother-in-law's birthday.  (There is some argument whether she was there at the first Bastille Day but I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.)  Usually every year we go out for Chinese food to celebrate her birthday; we're going to delay that a day or so because the weather's a bit miserable.

Why Chinese food?

Well, shortly before she died, Eileen decided to take us out to lunch.  We went to the nearby Chinese restaurant she specified.  When we were seated, she pulled out a discount coupon and told the waiter she wanted the special that was on the coupon.  Trouble was, the coupon was from a different restaurant,

The waiter was confused.  Eileen was insistent.  The waiter tried to explain, but Eileen figured a coupon was a coupon.  The item on the coupon wasn't even on that restaurant's menu,  but Eileen thought that was silly because it was on the coupon.  We tried to explain to Eileen, but she held steady.  We slunk down in our booth and the waiter went to the kitchen.  Eventually he came out with Eileen's order, and at the price listed on the coupon.  After the meal, Eileen paid the check and as Kitty walked her out, I left the healthiest tip I had ever given in my life.  Kitty and I never went back to that restaurant.

So in honor of Eileen we try to have Chinese food every Bastille Day.

There were many, many good attributes to Eileen, but there were also a few quirks.

Rest in peace, Eileen.


The Tarriers --Erik Darling, Bob Carey, and Alan Arkin (yes, that Alan Arkin).


Arthur Godfrey's public avuncular and folksy persona was at odds with his controlling and egoistic personality.  Tired of the stiff and formal delivery given by radio announcers at the time, Godfrey adopted a looser style, person talking directly to the audience as if he were having a conversion with each person in the comfort of his or her living room.  He encouraged new talent, often taking contestants from his talent show program and showcasing them on his other programs; among those getting this treatment were Julius LaRosa, the Chordettes, Carmel Quinn, Frank Parker, and the Hawaiian singer Haleloke.  (Godfrey himself got his start on a local talent show.)  Others who appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts were Lenny Bruce, Patsy Kline, Pat Boone, Marilyn Horne, Tony Bennett, Roy Clark, and Don Adams; among those rejected were Elvis Presly and The Four Freshmen.

Behind the camera, though, he would fly into rages with his staff, intimidating them.  He insisted that all his television "family" -- who were known as "Little Godfreys" -- take both vocal and dancing lessons, whether their talents lay in that direction or not.  Also, the Little Godfreys were not allowed to have their own managers; Godfrey's staff could handle that for them.  He was quick to take affront and merciless in his response.  Godfrey is perhaps now most famous for firing popular singer Julius LaRosa on air.

Arthur Godfrey was strongly anti-communist, libertarian in principle, an environmental warrior, and a believer in technology (except when it conflicted with his environmental concerns; his opposition to SST aircraft was a major the United States lost interest in producing the planes -- and, reportedly, launched a string of Nixon-era IRS investigations in response).  An advocate of civil rights, Godfrey fought back criticism from some Southern CBS affiliates (as well as from Georgia's governor, among others) when he featured The Mariners, a vocal group of Coast Guard veterans -- two white and two black.

Once one of the most popular and powerful radio and television personalities in America, Godfrey's star began to fade after the LaRosa firing.  (And numerous firings shortly after.)  Following one of the earliest successful  hip replacement surgeries in 1953 (he had been badly injured in auto accident in 1931), Godfrey became crankier more persnickety.  In 1959, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and ended his television programs, although he would continue his radio show until 1972.  The lung cancer was successfully treated.  He died in 1983 of emphysema at age 79.

Godfrey was a man of great talent and one who instinctively knew how to play to the American audience.  A major American influence, warts and all.

From 1959, here's an episode of The Arthur Godfrey Show, with guests Johnny Nash and Elaine Malbin.

Monday, July 13, 2015


Blogger Randy Johnson passed away last night.  A good man with many friends, Randy was an incisive person of humor, compassion, and strong interests.  He will be missed.


From 1968, Memphis Slim.


  • Richard Benson, F in Exams. Humor.  A collection of the "very best totally wrong test answers."  Test question:  There are 300 students in the 10th grade.  Mary and Mark want to find out the 10th grade's favorite color.  Mary asks 30 people.  Mark asks 150 people.  Mark says, "My conclusions are more likely to be reliable than Mary's"  Why does Mark think he is right?      Answer: Because Mark is a man 
  • Gene DeWeese, Beepers from Outer Space.  Juvenile SF chapter book, originally titled Black Suits from Outer Space.  Two young people meet a visitor from outer space who badly needs their help.
  • Simon Drew, Gin'll Fix It.  Art/word play book.  Subtitled "A Guide Book for the Confused." Guess I 'm his target market.  From The Curse of Tutankhamun ("It's bloody dark in here") to Freudian Slippers...a joyful little book.
  • Selden Edwards, The Little Book.  Literary time travel novel.  Wheeler Burden is transported from 1988 San Francisco to 1897 Vienna.  A first novel, more than 30 years in the borning.
  • Alan Dean Foster, Transformers:  Ghosts of Yesterday.  Toy franchise tie-in, a prequel to the 2007 Transformers movie.
  • Edward Gorey, The Evil Garden.  Unclassifiable.  (It's Gorey!)   This was one of the umpty-ump books included in Amphigorey Too. the
  • Eric Grzymkowski, The United States of Strange.  Compendium of odd facts.  Although the book is dated 2012, some of references are from several decades earlier, so some of the facts may have been superceded.
  • James W. Hall, Silencer.  A Thorn thriller.  A wealthy ranch is killed just before he was to donate his ranch to the state to prevent the land being developed.
  • Charlaine Harris, editor, Crimes by Moonlight.  Mystery Writers of America anthology with 20 stories.
  • Maxim Jakubowski, editor, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica.  Anthology with 45 stories from 2001-2002.  (A base canard!  Two stories are copyrighted 1998.)
  • Alex Marwood, The Killer Next Door.  Thriller.  A South London rooming house harbors harbours (It's British, y'know) a killer.
  • David Mitchell, Black Swan Green.  Literary novel.  A year in the life of thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor.
  • David Morrell, The Fraternity of Stone.  Thriller, the second in the Brotherhood series.  David MacLane, a former assassin, has been living in a monastery for six years; now someone has tracked him down, in a most bloody way.
  • Louise Penny, A Fatal Grace.  A Chief Inspector Gamache mystery.  A disliked woman has been electrocuted in the midst of a curling match, but no one has seen a thing.
  • Kate Ross, Cut to the Quick.  A Julian Kestrel historical (1820s London) mystery.  The woman in Julian's bed was young, beautiful, and dead.
  • Daniel Silva, The Messenger.  A Gabriel Allon thriller.  Israeli spy Allon races to stop a possible al-Qaeda attack on the Vatican.  This one won the 2007 Barry Award for best thriller and was a finalist for 2006 Steel Dagger Award and the 2007 Thriller award.

Sunday, July 12, 2015


As many of you know, we lost a great talent when author Tom Piccirilli died yesterday following a long battle with brain cancer.

The link below takes you to a brief interview with Tom by Keith Rawson, "10 Questions with Tom Piccirilli."


Jim Nabors, singing my mother's favorite hymn.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Laura Nyro, a talented voice gone too soon.


Sue (the blonde) and Sally (the brunette) Smith are nurses working for the Emergency Corps, a medical group who provide help wherever needed in the world.  Dedicated, feisty, and high-minded, the two place the welfare of others above all else.

In "Sahara Mission," a typhus epidemic is spreading among workers installing a pipeline in Northern Africa.  Sue, Sally, and Dr. Higby rush to provide medical aid.  There they meet Shiek Alal Farad, the handsome, Princeton-educated owner of many oil wells in the area.  When the native workmen refuse to come in for treatment, Sue goes to plead with Alal Farad.  He agrees to order his men to be innoculated.  Alal Farad is anxious to ask Sue a question but her work keeps interfering.  From his conversation, Sue and Sally believe Alal Farad  wants Sue to join his harem.  Finally Alal Farad rides into camp, swoops Sue up upon his horse, and rides into the desert.  Desperate to save Sue, Sally and Dr. Higby give chase.  **SPOILER ALERT** All ends well.

And in "The Man Nobody Loved," after viewing an interview program on television, Sally sympathizes with Paolo Alvarijo, a rebel farmer in an unnamed Latin America country.  The  country's dictator has been using fear and terror to bleed his citizens dry.  When she discovers the Emergency Corps is planning a mission to the country, Sally and Sue manage to get signed on.  Once there, Sally meets the impressive Alvarijo.  She also meets the brutal Major Perez, the chief of the dreaded secret police.  Sally stands up to the major but, in the process, Alvarijo is shot.  The medical of the Emergency Corps save Alvarijo's life, but he is scheduled to be executed by firing squad.  Sally hides the rebel, again defying Perez.  **SPOILER ALERT** Come the revolution, Sally is a hero.

Sandwich between these two stories are "Unwilling Heart," in which newly-wed Carol refuses to compromise with her husband, and "Doctor's Love," in which 16-year-old Sandra falls in love with her handsome doctor (Sandra's logic:  "Age doesn't matter that much -- and I'm almost eighteen!")

This comic book could have been titled Sue and Sally Smith Really Need and Editor.  Words are misspelled, speech balloons point to the wrong person, letters are dropped (or erased?) from words, and in one panel Sue is horribly misshapened   (As they ready for bed, Sally dons red babydoll pajamas; Sue apparently sleeps in the nude but her right arm -- certainly  it couldn't be her breast, could it? -- is incomplete and horribly distorted.)

This could well have been one of the romance comics my sister used to read.  No wonder she turned out the way she did.

Friday, July 10, 2015


Suzanne Vega.


I just haven't read anything this week that I would call a Forgotten Book, so I thought I'd post a few notes about a writer who has been somewhat forgotten.

C(ecil) Day Lewis (1904-1972) is perhaps best known today as the father of actor Daniel Day Lewis, but he was also one of the most noted British poets of the 20th century.  (Lewis was actually Anglo-Irish -- he was born in Ballintubbert, Ireland) -- but identified more closely with Britain, especially once Ireland tacitly supported Adolph Hitler.)  He published about three dozen books of his own poetry, wrote over a dozen books of criticism, and edited over a dozen poetry anthologies. And, reportedly, began writing mystery novels to pay for repairing a leaky roof.  Mystery fans should put up a shrine to that roof.

All of his mysteries were published under the pseudonym "Nicholas Blake."Sixteen of the twenty Blake mystery novels featured Nigel Strangeways, Oxford graduate and amateur detective, one of no particular occupation or means of living.  The Strangeway novels walk a fine line between adventure and detection.  The plots are tricky and varied, the murders vile, and the stakes are high.  Over his thirty-plus year career, Stangeways ages and matures much in the way his author did.  Each book is solidly set in its time, with topical references and psychological theories of the day;  leftist characters become less palatable (Day was an avowed Communist and, like many other intellectuals of the day, soon became disillusioned with the whole thing).  Strangeways meets his wife in the second book of the series only to lose her later in a German bombing.  The loss affects him deeply although later in the series he is able to find happiness with another woman.

The Strangeway books are classic Golden Age British mysteries, laced with literary references -- although not enough to detract from the plot.  The books are immensely readable and typically (and atypically British).  Nicholas Blake is in a league with such worthies as Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, and Dorothy L. Sayers.

Lewis never looked down at the mystery field and took as much care crafting these stories as he did his other works.  And Lewis remains the only mystery writer to be named Poet Laureate of England.

The Strangeway books:

  • A Question of Proof (1935)
  • Thou Shell of Death (1936, also published as Shell of Death)
  • There's Trouble Brewing (1937)
  • The Beast Must Die (1938)
  • The Smiler with a Knife (1938)
  • Malice in Wonderland (1940; also published as The Summer Camp Mystery and as Malice with Murder)
  • The Case of the Abominable Snowman (1941; also published as The Corpse in the Snowman)
  • Minute for Murder (1948)
  • Head of a Traveller (1949)
  • The Dreadful Hollow (1953)
  • The Whisper in the Gloom (1954; also published as Catch and Kill)
  • End of Chapter (1957)
  • The Widow's Cruise (1959)
  • The Worm of Death (1961)
  • The Sad Variety (1964)
  • The Morning After Death (1966)
Try one.  I think you'll enjoy it.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


Howlin' Wolf.


Before television there was radio, and before David Janssen as Richard Diamond,  there was Dick Powell as Richard Diamond.

Richard Diamond, Private Detective was created by Blake Edwards and aired (in its radio version) from 1949 to 1953.  Along with Dick Powell, the cast included Virginia Gregg as Diamond's girlfriend Helen, Ed Begley as Diamond's former police partner Walter Levinson, and Wilms Herbert as the comic relief cop Otis.

(The television show, 1957-1960, had Regis Toomey, Russ Conway, and Barbara Bain supporting Janssen.  The television series had a slightly darker tone to it, but the television series also had Mary Tyler Moore's legs.  Can it possibly be true that MTM's legs only appeared in seven episodes?  Boggles the mind.)

"The Plaid Overcoat Case" was broadcast on NBC radio on December 28, 1951.  You may recognize the voice of Sheldon Leonard as tough guy "Duke."  This episode was written by Dick Carr and was directed by Nat Wolff.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Another Wynter Rain Early pick.  She's got a lot to be blamed for.

The Eurythmics.


(This is compliments of Wynter Rain Early.  Blame her.)

Velcro.  What a rip-off!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


The Limelighters.


From 1910, here's Thomas Edison's "liberal" adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.  Charles Ogle is the monster, while Augustus Philips and Mary Fuller play Victor Frankenstein and his love Elizabeth.  This short film was written and directed by J. Searle Dawley for the Edison Manufacturing Company.

The creation of the monster is a must-see, IMHO.


Monday, July 6, 2015




  • Joe Abercrombie, Best Served Cold.  Doorstop stand-alone fantasy.  Monza Murcatto has been betrayed and left broken.  For this, seven people must die.
  • James Lee Burke, Pegasus Descending.  A Dave Robicheaux mystery.  Twenty-five years ago Robicheaux could not save Dallas Klein.  Now Klein's daughter is in Louisiana and Dave has a chance to atone -- if he can live that long.  I haven't read a Burke novel in more than a decade.  How foolish of me.
  • Tana French, The Likeness.  Mystery.  Cassie Maddox has transferred out of Dublin's Murder Squad with no intention of returning until a corpse is discovered of a woman who is Cassie's double and who has an ID with the name Cassie once used on an undercover job.
  • Eddie Stone, Donald Writes No More.  Biography of Donald Goines, author of cult ghetto crime novels. Goines was an addict and pimp who turned to writing but his demons overtook him.  His 1974 murder remains unsolved.
  • Robert Knott, Robert B. Parker's Ironhorse.  A Virgil Cole/Everett Hitch western, the first in the series by another hand.  This is Knott's first novel but not his first outing with Parker's characters -- he co-wrote the movie based on Parker's Appaloosa.  Cole and Hitch are on a train returning from Mexico when an old enemy of Cole's comes aboard.
  • Scott McGough, Outlaw:  Champion of Kamigawa (Book One), Heretic:  Betrayers of Kamigawa (Book Two), and Guardian:  Saviors of Kamigawa.  Gaming (Magic:  The Gathering) tie-in novels in the Kamigawa Cycle.  Princess Michiko must join forces with the rogue ronin Toshi Umezawa as a war between the spirit world and the human realm threatens everything.
  • Dan Nokes, Adam and Eve Bizaare Love Triangle in the Zombie Apocalypse:  The Complete Undead Omnibus, The Paranormals:  10th Anniversary Complete Chronicles and The Pistoleers:  Murder, Vengeance and Family Ties.  Graphic novels.  Nokes is a Southern Maryland cartoonist (turns out he lives in the same development as I).  He had a table at the Fourth of July "makers' market" at the Annemarie Sculpture Garden and Art Center in Dowell, Maryland.  Nice guy.  All three books were signed.  On two of them, he took the time to draw a character from each book; the the third he drew a picture of my 18-year-old granddaughter Ceili as a vampire.  (She was thrilled.)  Dan also signed a comic book, Tristan & the Cuddly Defenders:  Out of the Attic.  Tristan is a teddy bear and was co-created by Dan. (It seems teddy bears have been protecting children from Monsters under the bed since 1902,) also got a signed Zombies Against Animal Cruelty poster.  Free plug:  Dan runs 21st Century Sandshark Studios ( and Tristan lurks at www,  Check them out.
  • "James Rollins" (Jim Czajkowski), Ice Hunt.  Thriller.  Ice Station Grendel has been deserted for more than seventy years, but something unnatural is now moving within the old Soviet Union stronghold.

Sunday, July 5, 2015


Albert Schweitzer -- doctor, humanitarian, philosopher, theologian, and Noble Peace Prize laureate -- was also an accomplished musician.  Here he plays four organ chorale preludes by Bach.



Saturday, July 4, 2015


Who else but Jimmy Cagney? And let's add Mickey and Judy to the mix.  Have a great fourth!

U.S. JONES #2 (JANUARY 1942)

For the Fourth of July, here's a patriotic hero somewhat unlike any other patriotic hero in American comics:  U.S. Jones followed on the footsteps of Captain America and The Shield, but this guy wasn't satisfied with just beating up the baddies and gathering young fans.  Nope, U.S. Jones was actively priming American kids  for war.  Red-blooded American kids could become U.S. Jones Cadets and receive a membership card, a secret decoder book, an official pin back, and a set of instructions on how to organize an air raid courier service!  Kids had to pledge to defend democracy at all costs and to uphold the Constitution and the Ten Commandments ('cuz, y'know, separation of Church and State is for wussies).  

Kids were urged to always follow these ten rules:
  • Keep fit.  (You need strength and endurance to battle america's enemies.)
  • Prevent accidents.  (America can't afford to lose any able-bodied person.  And look both ways before crossing the street.)
  • Know your neighborhood.  (To better protect it.  This includes scoping out potential air raid shelters.)
  • Learn first aid.  (Including fire prevention.)
  • Keep your town sanitary.  (On the other hand, piles of trash in the street could slow the enemy's advance.)
  • Conserve.  (Recycle aluminum by turning it in to your local police station.)
  • Know your neighbors.  (Paranoia could be your friend.)
  • Learn to use your Code.  (Remember that secret decoder book?  If worse came to worse, your Code may be the only safe way to communicate.)
  • Speak up for Democracy.  (Shout down defeatist  propaganda.)
  • Buy Defense Stamps.  (The Government needs the help of every patriotic child.)
Follow these rules, kids, and we will force "the black hand of fascism to break against the red-blooded freedom of...America!"

All this shortly before America entered the war.

This patriotic fervor, alas, did not translate into a long life for U.S. Jones.  The comic book only lasted two issues.  (The Cadet premiums, however, constitute a Holy Grail among collectors, commanding high prices.)

U.S. Jones made one appearance before earning s own comic book -- in Wonderland Comics #28 (August 1941).  Jones, by the way, had no back story -- real American he-men don't need no stinkin' origin stories! -- he just was, like a force of nature.  We also have no idea who created the character.

Issue #2 showcases four adventures of  U.S. Jones.  First, in "Death's Master Mind," top army generals are suddenly dying and being replaced by doppelgangers.  Then, U.S. Jones and his partner Grumbler are assigned to protect the Crown Jewels of the exiled Polish government from "The Crimson Saint."  The third adventure has our hero's buddy Grumbler used as bait in a deadly trap set by Jones' arch-enemy in "The Return of The Crimson Saint."  Another arch-enemy, the  Nazi Moloch, returns, leaving a blood-soaked trail in "The Case of the Choking Death;" a group of U.S. Jones Cadets help put paid to the Nazi's plans.

Also in this issue are adventures of Dirk Delancey (a rough and tumble American agent), The Topper (a masked crime fighter in top hat and tails), and Peg Miller, Girl Detective.

Let's face it.  The Nazis never stood a chance.


Friday, July 3, 2015


Pete Seeger.


Footsteps in the Attic by Stanley McNail (1958)

Forgotten Book?  Not really.  Forgotten?  Yes.  Book?  Well, you decide.

From Wikipedia:  "Stanley McNail (1918?-1995) was an American poet.  Born in Southern Illinois, from 1950 he lived in San Francisco, where he edited and published Nightshade, an occasional broadside of fantasy and the macabre in poetry, and The Galley Sail Revue, which The San Francisco Examiner described as "one of San Francisco's most respected poetry magazines."  He also directed Galley Sail Publications and The Nine Hostages Press, and was poetry editor for Renaissance magazine."

McNail was the author of Something Breathing, a small book of macabre poetry published by August Derleth's Arkham House in 1965 -- a volume I greatly enjoyed, so when I had to a chanceto read his first macabre collection, Footsteps in the Attic, I jumped at it.  Something Breathing contained 32 poems; Footsteps in the Attic contains only ten.  (Poetry books are often very small.  Dunno why.)  Anyway, here are the poems, the longest of which is a mere twenty-five lines:

  • Return to an Old House
  • These Antlers
  • Pursuit
  • The Wino
  • Walpurgis Nacht
  • At the Moment of the Earthquake
  • The Zolzales
  • The Judgment of Fish
  • Three Sisters
  • Elsie's House

The poems are clever, immensely readable, and provide some interesting images.  Dead fish lie on cold beaches "like awkward questions."  During an earthquake, "in the Title and Trust Building there was a ripple of scared little clerks."  Something emerges from a closet, bounces to the kitchen sink,  and goes down the drain, "mocking my poor efforts with a plunger, leaving me weeping and probing with a broken stick."  And the Zolzales (rhymes with "doll sales") are terrifying creatures from the Otherwise Land whose main function is "to mete out a certain kind of poetic justice" with "the clamp of their jaws which can pulverize stones; they masticate tourists and spit out the bones.  They wolf down cats, but they won't touch fish.   Homeric children are their favorite dish.  The blood-red screams as they clobber and clout even jazz and Rexworth can't drown out."  I love the San Francisco-ish "jazz and Rexworth" reference.

Not surprisingly, the book was published by McNail's Galley Sail Press.

There are far worse ways to spend ten or fifteen minutes.  And you may find yourself coming back to some of these poems.

Other poetry volumes by Stanley McNail include The Black Hawk Country (1960), Sorceror's Showcase (1986), and At Tea in the Mortuary (1990).  I hope to get to them sometime in the future.

In the meantime, there's a chance that next week's Forgotten Book might be far more substantial wordwise.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Not to sure how I missed this one, but Charles W. Runyon passed away on June 8th at age 87.  Runyon wrote 14 mystery novels (including three of the "Ellery Queen" original paperbacks) and four science fiction novels.  He also published works as"Mark West."

His books were solid and workmanlike:

  • The Anatomy of Violence (1963)
  • Color Him Dead (1963)
  • The Death Cycle (1963)
  • The Last Score (as "Ellery Queen," 1964)
  • The Killer Touch (as "Ellery Queen," 1965)
  • The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed (1965)
  • Bloody Jungle (1966)
  • The Black Moth (1967)
  • Kiss and Kill (as "Ellery Queen," 1969)
  • No Place to Hide (1970)
  • Pig World (1971, SF)
  • Power Kill (1972, a finalist for the Edgar Best Paperback Award)
  • Ames Holbrook, Deity (1972, SF)
  • Something Wicked (1973)
  • Soulmate (1974, SF)
  • I, Weapon (1974, SF)
  • To Kill a Dead Man (1976)
  • Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die (1977)

Try one of his books.  I bet you'll enjoy it.


Woody Guthrie channels the meanness of anti-union activists.


From Suspense, November 1, 1949, Ronald Coleman stars in this adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft's classic horror tale.