Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


The Spinney Brothers.


Why does a moon rock taste better than one from Earth?

Because it's a little meteor.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Porter Waggoner.


This Friday Patti Abbott's cheerful group of Forgotten Books minions will be celebrating "Ed McBain Week" at  Since I am not sure I will have something by "Ed McBain" (or Evan Hunter, S. A. Lombino, "Richard Marsten," "Curt Cannon," "Hunt Collins," "Dean Hudson," "Ezra Hannon," "John Abbott," "D. A. Addams." or even "Ted Taine") for Friday, I thought I would at least post something here for my Tuesday Overlooked Television contribution.

Evan Hunter's relationship with Alfred Hitchcock has been documented in his short memoir Me & Hitch (1998).  He famously wrote the screenplay for Hitchcock's The Birds, but his dealings with Hitchcock go back a few years earlier when two of his stories were adapted for the Alfred Hitchcock Presents Television show.  Then in 1959, he scripted this episode based on a story by Robert Turner.

"Appointment at Eleven" was directed by Robert Stevens, who helmed 44 episodes of Alfred Hithcock Presents and another five episodes the later Alfred Hitchcock Hour and was the only director of either show to win an Emmy.  "Appointment at Eleven" stars Clint Kimbrough, who had a minor television acting career in the late Fifties and early Sixties; his best-known film was probably 1970's Bloody Mama in which he played Arthur Barker.  Also featured in "Appointment at Eleven were Norma Crane (who played Miss Dean in Mr. Peepers), Clu Culager (The Virginian, The Tall Man, and a bazillion other television shows), and Sean McClory (The Californians, Bring 'Em Back Alive, and many others)

Arthur Baker is man with an appointment at eleven, or so he tells almost everyone he meets.


(And don't forget to catch Ed McBain week at

Monday, September 28, 2015


How about some traditional Irish pipe music?


Another quiet week, with only a couple of lesser works purchased.
  • Gene Deweese, Something Answered.  Horror novel from 1983.  A writer's bestselling horror novel is being made into a film.  He returns to his hometown to throw a big party to celebrate, making sure that he invites all the people who shunned him and hurt him when he was younger.  His pleas and prays for revenge on those who have wronged him, and something answers.  DeWeese (1934-2012) was a writer who specialized in science fiction, media tie-in novels, and (often writing as "Jean DeWeese") gothics. Yes, the cover on this one has a dark house with one lighted window; young lady in a flowing gown and/or negligee fleeing the house, though.  Note at the cover and title page give the author's name as "Deweese," while the copyright notice correctly gives it as "DeWeese."
  • "Wallace Moore" (Gerard F. Conway), Balzan of the Cat People #2:  The Caves of Madness.  Science fantasy novel from 1975.  There were only three novels in this unsuccesful series about "the Tarzan of outer space!"--  all written by Conway  This was one of a zillion series created and packaged by Lyle Kenyon Engel, whose most famous packaging was the best-selling Bicentennial series by John Jakes.  This series was nowhere -- and I mean nowhere -- as successful.  One internet reviewer evidently called it "cretinous swill meant for slackjawed teenagers."  [Ouch!]  Conway is a well known comic book writer (he created Marvel's The Punisher and wrote Gwen Stacey's death for Spiderman) and script writer and producer (Father Dowling Mysteries, Law and Order, Law and Order:  Criminal Intent, Matlock, Perry Mason, etc.)  The Balzan novels were obviously early works that should best be forgotten.  Sadly for Conway (and for myself), I did  not forget.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


This is a recording of a story by Mark Twain, who said, "If there is a decent word findable in it, it is because I have overlooked it."  It's about Queen Elizabeth I and flatulance, among other things.  Because of its content, this is not one of Twain's better known stories.  Be warned:  This is not a flowery Elizabethan romance.



From 1949, here's the legendary Delta bluesman Blind Willie McTell.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


From 1891, here's the first recording by an African-American, George Johnson.  It's a sign of the times that the song was titled "The Whistling Coon."  (I feel creepy just typing the words.)

George Johnson was born a slave in Virginia in 1846.  Raised as the servant and companion to a white farmer's son, Johnson was taught to read and write.  He was freed in 1853.  Around 1870 he made it to New York and earned small change whistling on ferry boats and sidewalks, which is how he was discovered.  "The Whistling Coon" (again, feeling creepy) was a popular vaudeville song at the time Johnson recorded it.  It became highly popular and by 1895, this song and Johnson's "The Laughing Song" were the best-selling recordings in the United States.  By 1905, Johnson's popularity had faded and he worked as an office doorman until moving back to Harlem several years later.  He died in 1914 from pneumonia and myocarditis.

Following his death there were rumors that he was either lynched or had been hung for murder.  He did have at least two common-law wives.  The first was found dead in their apartment, but no charges were filed against Johnson; the second was found beaten in their apartment and died several days later.  Johnson was arrested by murder but was found not guilty.

Johnson's 1986 recording of "The Laughing Man" was included in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry in 2014.  As of 2014, only 425 recordings of cultural, historic, and aesthetic import to life in America have been included in the Registry.  (Others entered into the Registry that year were both the Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee versions of "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?," a 1942 radio episode of The Goldbergs, Louis Jordan's "Caldonia," Art Blakey's 2-volume recording of A Night of Birdland, "Cathy's Clown" by the Everly Brothers, Vaughan Meader's The First Family, the original cast recording of Sweeney Todd, and Jeff Buckley's cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah.")


Day Twenty-Six:  August Derleth.

DANIEL BOONE #6 (1957)

Here's a British take on an American legend.  Published by L. Miller & Son Ltd, London, the publication notice informs us that all names and characters are fictitious, which is just as well, because their Daniel Boone travelled much further west than the historical Boone did.  Although there's a full-colorcolour cover, the interior is printed in black and white.

Boone appears in two adventures.  The first, "Daniel Boone and the Smoke Signals," has Boone and his young friend Sam land in the middle of a tribal war being instigated by an outcast Indian; the second, a two-part story titled "Daniel Boone and the Leaderless Tribes," has Boone rescuing two young prospectors searching for gold in Comanche country where two leaderless comanche tribes are warring with each other.  Not only does Boone rescue the prospectors, he rigs up an explosion which blows him clear across a ravine (!), and manages to unite the two tribes.  Whatta guy!

Boone's counterpart, the unsophisticated and unintelligent Dan'l Goone, appears in two one-page humor story, each reviving an old chestnut.

The remaining story in the book, "Rock Riley and the Imposter,"  Outlaw Rock Riley rides into the town of Broken Tooth to visit his old friend Sheriff Warner.  Warner's new clerk Spot Spenser has just captured notrious killer Bunk Barrow and has been given the reward money.  Of course this is a scam:  Spenser and Barrow are partners and will split the reward money.  Spenser lures the sheriff out of town and, after incapacitating Riley, frees Barrow and the two escape with the cash.  What they do not count on is Riley's determination to capture the neer-do-wells.  All I can say is that Rock Riley must be the strangest outlaw in western comics.

This British version of Daniel Boone ran for 35 issues from 1957 to 1959.  Some of the issues had variant titles Exploits of Daniel Boone, Daniel Boone Special Western, and Daniel Boone Adventure Strips.  Some issues also featured US reprints from Charlton Comics.  The publication notice in Daniel Boone #6 states that all stories and pictures are the copyright of the publishers, which indicates that this issue may not have had any reprints but, remember, the notice also says that all names and characters are fictitious.  Caveat emptor.


Friday, September 25, 2015


Well here I am in Florida and it's very nice here.

We were scheduled to move into an apartment a week and a half ago, but that fell through.  That was probably a good thing because the apartment wasn't that good and the location was pretty poor (about forty miles from Christina, not a good distance if we were to watch the kids on a regular basis).  So we've extended our stay in Christina's spare bedroom and will there for at least a month.  Walt went back to Maryland while their house there is for sale.  They've had a number of showings and a few nibbles but nothing concrete yet.  He skypes a lot but Christina and the kids miss him.  Today, the Kangaroo asked if Walt could send him a picture because he missed Daddy so much; Walt immediately texted a copy of his passport and photo.  Kitty and Christina are boggled by the Y chromosome mind.  I'm not.

While we are here we have tried to be useful.  The house has three bathrooms and the Kangaroo has flushed strange things down all of them, the last item being his pants.  Kitty, Christina, and myself are boggled how a three-year-old mind works.  I have become an expert with the bathroom plunger.  We also assembled a lawnmower for Christina and I repaired her weed wacker.

We have spent the last week driving around looking at neighborhoods.   We found one that we really liked and went out this morning with Real Estate Amy (who was Christina and Walt's real estate agent) and viewed several homes.  We put a bid on one -- a three-bedroom, two-bath home a little bit larger than the one we had in Southern Maryland.  The house has good bones and can be made into something we would enjoy.  It was built in 2003 and has a few problems.  One bathroom is filthy, the inside of the refrigerator is also filthy, ditto the microwave and the stove.  The back yard slopes toward the house, which could cause flooding problems, but there's absolutely no indication of that happening at any time in the past thirteen years.  (The back yard is very sandy; heavy rains could hae been easily absorbed; if we get the house, we'll keep and eye on things and may have to install drains in the back yard.)  At one time, there were lot of bushes in the back and side yards; someone recently chopped them down to ground level without removing the roots -- something else for the to-do list if we get the place.

In the meantime, we have all our ducks in a row for passing papers on our Southern Maryland home.  Everything is scheduled for this coming Wednesday at noon.  We spent yesterday signing all the paperwork needed for passing papers, getting the signatures notarized, and Fed-Ex-ing the papers back to the title company.  Today we found out that there was another paper that needed to be signed.  The paper was e-mailed to us but there is no working printer here at the moment.  (Actually it was e-mailed to us twice; the first time had the wrong date on it.)  So we headed to the local public library (about fifteen miles away) to use their equipmentment.  Three attempts later (and with the assistance of three other people) we managed to get the document printed -- the equipment at the library has a problem printing documents from Word, it seems.  Then, because the library did not have a scanner, we headed to Office Depot to have the signed document scanned and e-mailed.  Again, it took a few false starts. but the document was e-mailed.  We thought.  When we got back to Christina's there was a panicked call from Gail, our Maryland real estate agent (who has started to call herself "Anal Gail" because of her finicky attention to detail) -- she received the cover page but not the document.  So I
called Office Depot and they once again sent the e-mail.  A few minutes later Anal Gail called -- the e-mail was received and all was right in her world.  Just as well.  It cost me a whole twenty-six cents at Office Depot and I wanted to be sure I got my money's worth.

And so it goes here on the Florida Panhandle.  Next week, we'll be going to Pensacola Beach (Christina says it's beautiful there, but it's beautiful here too) and maybe to the local zoo (they have a new baby hippo) and probably to many other interesting places.


I was taken to the woodshed by my brother for not including these songs in my Underappreciated Music post about Dave Mallett yesterday.  So this post is for Kenny and Julia and Daphne and the many Dave Mallett fans.


A poignant song from the amazing Eric Bogle.


They Came From Outer Space:  12 Classic Science Fiction Tales The Became Major Motion Pictures edited by Jim Wynorski (1980)

The subtitle of this anthology stretches the truth a tad.  It is hard to call some of these stories "classics" just as it is hard to believe some of the films they inspired were "major motion pictures."

No matter.  This is a fun book with some pretty interesting stories -- some familiar, some not so much.  There have been a number of similar anthologies published (notably ones edited by Forrest J. Ackerman and by Peter Haining) and They Came From Outer Space is certainly equal to those.

There is a vast difference between a motion picture and the story on which the film was based, if only due to the requirements of the two media.  Most of these motion pictures, however, have veered sharply from their source material, often because of the whims of the producers, directors, scripters, or actors.  A good story does not necessarily mean a good picture, or vice versa.

So, let's check out the stories and the movies.  Something should pique your interest -- either a story, its film, or both.

  • "Dr. Cyclops" by Henry Kuttner (from Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1940; expanded to a novel by Kuttner published under the "Will Garth" pseudonym); filmed as Dr. Cyclops, 1940.
  • "Who Goes There/" by John W.  Campbell, Jr. (from Astounding Science Fiction, August 1938); first filmed as The Thing from Another World, 1951.
  • "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates (from Astounding Science Fiction, October 1940); first filmed as The Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951.
  • "The Fog Horn" by Ray Bradbury (from The Saturday Evening Post, June 23, 1951); filmed as The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, 1953.
  • "Deadly City" by "Ivar Jorgenson" [Paul W. Fairman] (from If, March 1953); filmed as Target Earth, 1954)
  • "The Alien Machine" by Raymond F. Jones (from Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1949; the first of three stories which made up Jones' novel This Island Earth); filmed as Tis Island Earth, 1955.
  • "The Cosmic Frame" by Paul W. Fairman (from Amazing Stories, May 1955); filmed as Invasion of the Saucermen, 1957.
  • "The Fly" by George Langelaan (from Playboy, June 1957); first filmed as The Fly, 1958.
  • "The Seventh Victim" by Robert Sheckley (from Galaxy Science Fiction, April 1953, as "Seventh Victim"); filmed as The Tenth Victim, 1965.
  • "The Sentinel" by Arthur C. Clarke (from 10 Story Fantasy, Spring 1951); filmed as 2001:  A Space Odyssey, 1968)
  • "The Racer" by Ib Melchior (from Escapade, October 1956); filmed as Death Race 2000, 1975.
  • "A Boy and His Dog" by Harlan Ellison (from New Worlds #189, April 1969; expanded by Ellison in his July 1969 collection The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World -- not known which version appears here); filmed as A Boy and His Dog, 1975.
Also included in the book is an introduction by Ray Bradbury, "The Turkey That Attacked New York," which goes into the transformation of his story "The Foghorn" to the motion picture The Beast from 20,000 Fanthoms.  The "turkey" in Bradbury's title does not refer to The Beast from 20,000 Fanthoms, but to the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis remake of King Kong.

Jim Wynorski, by the way, is a producer, director, and screenwriter of exploitation films, among which was the "classic" Sy-Fi Channel film Dinocroc vs. Supergator (which I'm sure is one of Bill Crider's favorites).  This anthology is the only credit given to him in ISFDb

A good book for dipping into.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Dave Mallett is a songer/songwriter perhaps best known for the "Garden Song."  His music is lyrical and poignant.  His voice flows like honey.

Sung by school kids everywhere, the "Garden Song" (also known as "Inch by Inch")  has become an American standard.  Pete Seeger, in introducing the song, once mistakenly said it was written by "an old New England farmer."  Mallet hailed from Maine, but he was anything but old:

"This Town":

A song about a personal disaster, "Fire":

"This Town":

"My Old Man":

Emmy Lou Harris once called this the perfect love song.  'Red, Red Rose":

Haunting.  "Arthur":

One of my favorites.  "The Candle and the Cape":

A simple love song.  "Moon Upon the Left":

A cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "Second Cup of Coffee":


A bit of nostalgia.  "I Knew This Place":

"The Haying Song":

Here's a song that Mallett wrote in honor of his friend, the late folk singer Jed Strunk.  "Change of the Seasons":


Dusty Springfield.  From 1963, her first big hit.


My wife has a soft spot for Jimmy Durante because he looked a lot like her grandfather who was once in vaudeville.

The Jimmy Durante Show was a revamped version of  The Durante Moore Show, which aired (first on NBC Radio, then on CBS Radio) from 1943 to mid 1947, when Moore left to begin a career on television.  After a brief hiatus the show returned (this time on NBC Radio) on October 1, 1947 and ran for another three years until Durante, too, left for  television career.  During its three-year run, The Jimmy Durante Show was constantly rated in the top ten radio programs.

Sponsored by Rexall and featuring Peggy Lee (who was a recurring guest star), this episode from March 3, 1948, features Jimmy taking "Flyng Lessons."  Howard Petrie is the announcer.

Listen, laugh, and enjoy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Melissa Etheridge.


I reread Paul W. Fairman's SF short story "The Cosmic Frame" this week, so I thought I'd feature the B flick that it inspired.  Invasion of the Saucermen owes little beyond the basic plot to Fairman's tale.  Director Edward L. Cahn was first going for shock but soon realized that the teenaged drive-in (its co-feature was I Was a Teenage Werewolf) audience would react to the monster makeup with laughter.  He changed gears and opted for a teenage SF sendup.  His decision was probably made easier  by the "teenage" stars Steve Terrill and Gloria Castillo, both of whom looked like they would soon be collecting social security.

This "classic" AIP release was produced by James H. Nicholson and Robert Gurney, Jr.  Samuel Z. Arkoff executive-produced.  Al Martin wrote the screenplay (with additional dialogue from producer Gurney).  Special makeup (the cheesy monsters) was created by Paul Blaisdell.

In addition to Terrill and Castillo, the cast featured a young Frank Gorshin, Lyn Osborn, Raymond Hatton, Russ Bender, Douglas Henderson, Sam Buffington, Bob Eisner, and Jason Johnson.

Abandon all hope for a classy picture, hunker down, relax, and enjoy the zaniness of Invasion of the Saucermen.

And, for those who are interested, Fairman's original story is available at

Monday, September 21, 2015


Has anyone ever done gunfighter songs better than Marty Robbins?


Still buying books, but not anywhere near as many as before.  This week, three thrift shop finds at fifty cents apiece:
  • Irving Crump, Mog the Mound Builder.  A 1931 juvenile.  Crump (1887-1979) was editor of Boys' Life for twenty-five years and wrote a number of successful novels for boys, including a series of prehistoric novels about Og, a boy in what would become Europe:  Og, Son of Fire (1922), Og, Boy of Battle (1925), Og of the Cave People (1935), and Og, Son of Og (1965).  As you can see, Crump did not have to go far to find a name for his title character in this "prehistoric America" novel.
  • Alexander Key, The Golden Enemy.  Juvenile SF taking place in a post-holocaust world where people don't eat meat.  Boy Jaim goes in search for a giant, impossible beast, the Golden One.  Key is best known for his juvenile SF book Escape to Witch Mountain and for his books about Sprocket, the little robot.  This one is an old school library copy signed and inscribed by the author:  "To Mrs. Sidell/and her Fifth Grade/of Harriet Bishop School/from/Alexander Key/1970."  Update:  Just found out that today would have been Key's 111th birthday!
  • Spider Robinson, Time Pressure.  SF, Book Two of the Deathkiller Trilogy.  A woman from the future visits an American commune in Nova Scotia to study the human race of our time.  She cannot return to her own time, but will she destroy ours?  Robinson is a favorite who has been in poor health since a 2013 heart attack.  Here's hoping he will be able to continue writing long into the future.  (His wife and sometime collaborator, Jeanne, died from cancer in 2010, and their daughter Terri passed away from cancer last year.)

Sunday, September 20, 2015


The Groks Science is a radio show about science.  Each week, the hosts take an in-depth look at recent events in the world of science, along with an interview with a leading scientist or researcher about their field.  It's a fun show.

In this episode from December 22, 2010, Mark Abrahams discusses  the winners of that year's Ig Nobel awards.



Saturday, September 19, 2015


A classic from the time of the Civil War, sung by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.


One of my favorite newspaper comics when I was a kid was Our Boarding House.  I loved the antics of the pompous Major Hoople and his never-ending battle with his wife.  These Sundays were among the last from creator Gene Ahern, who left the strip early in 1936.  Ahern created the strip in 1921.  The Sunday strip ended sixty years later in 1961; the daily strip continued until late December 1984.

The comic strip made it to radio as Major Hoople for ten months, beginning in June 1942, with Arthur Q. Bryan (who also played Doc Grumble in Fibber McGee and Molly and was an early voice -- and inspiration for the character's physical appearance -- of Elmer Fudd) in the title role.  Playing one of his boarders was the great Mel Blanc.  Sadly, no copies of the radio program are known to exist.


Friday, September 18, 2015


Buckwheat Zydeco.


He Is Legend:  An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson edited by Christopher Conlon (2009)

Richard Matheson...I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man, "Duel," The Night Stalker, Somewhere in Time, Hell House, fourteen episodes of the original The Twilight Zone (including "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," "The Invaders, and "Steel"), winner of  the Hugo, Edgar, Writers Guild, Emmy, Golden Globe, World Fantasy, Spur, and Bram Stoker Awards (among many others), an acknowledged major influence on Stephen King and many other writers...yeah, this guy is a legend.

He Is Legend contains fifteen original stories by major fantasy writers, each based on or influenced by Matheson's work.  Joe Hill and Stephen King start things off on a grand scale with the outstanding "Throttle," a tale of a homicidal trucker taking out a motorcycle gang with his semi.  Another high point of the anthology is Nancy A. Collins' "Return to Hell House," which tells of Benjamin Fischer's first encounter with the murderous Belasco House.  Both stories do Matheson an honor by going beyond horror to an examination of human motives and character.  (Matheson himself eschewed the term "horror," preferring instead "terror," a term that adds a human element to the genre.)

The contents:
  • Editor's Note
  • Forward:  "Matheson the Master" by Ramsey Campbell
  • "Throttle" by Joe Hill and Stephen king (inspired by "Duel")
  • "Recalled" by F. Paul Wilson (a sequel to "The Distributor")
  • "I Am Legend, Too" by Mick Garris (a prequel to I Am Legend}
  • "Two Shots from Fly's Photo Gallery" by John Shirley (a sequel to Somewhere in Time)
  • "The Diary of Louise Carey" by Thomas F. Monteleone (a variation on The Shrinking Man)
  • "She Screech Like Me" by Michael A. Arnzen (a sequel to "Born of Man and Woman")
  • "Everything of Beauty Taken from You in This Life Remains Forever" by Gary A. Braunbeck (a sequel to "Button, Button")
  • "The Case of Peggy Ann Lister" by John Maclay (a sequel to Someone is Bleeding
  • "Zachry Revisited" by William F. Nolan (a sequel to "The Children of Noah")
  • "Comeback" by Ed Gorman (a tale inspired by "Finishing Touches")
  • "An Island Unto Himself" by Barry Hoffman ( a variation on "Disappearing Act")
  • "Venturi" by Richard Christian Matheson (a tale inspired by "Legion of Plotters")
  • "Quarry" by Joe R. Lansdale (a sequel to "Prey")
  • "Return to Hell House" by Nancy A. Collins (a prequel to Hell House)
  • "Cloud Rider" by Whitley Strieber (a tale inspired by Collected Stories)
Good stories all, the weakest being the Strieber, which veers direction and mood halfway through the story, somewhat diluting an otherwise very readable tale.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Jerry Lee Lewis.


Mr. Lucky was a popular 1943 movie (based on a story "Bundles for Freedom" by Milton Holmes) starring Cary Grant as the title character and Lorraine Day as the wealthy socialite who falls for him.  Grant plays a professional gambler and grifter who has managed to lie his way out of the draft in the early days of World War II.  He scams a local War Relief Board into allowing him to run a "charity" casino, the profits of which (supposedly) would be used to purchase a relief ship.  Lorraine Day plays a Relief Board officer who soon falls for Grant's charms.  Grant, of course, sees the light and attempts to stop the plot to steal the money from the charity.  All ends well.

Blake Edwards turned the title character and the idea of a gambling boat into the 1959 television series of the same name.  Edwards directed and co-wrote the first episode.  Jack Arnold, a well-known producer and director served as the series producer and also wrote a number of episodes.  Henry Mancini wrote the music; the theme song reached number 22 on the charts and spawned two popular albums for Mancini.  John Vivian played Mr. Lucky, with Ross Martin co-starring.  The major link between the film and the television show was that the title character was very suave.  Even the gambling theme was changed soon into the television show's first (and only season) -- Lucky's gambling ship soon became a floating restaurant.

Shortly after the release of the movie and long before the television show began was an hour-long adaptation of the the film for Lux Radio Theater on October 18, 1943, with Grant and Day reprising their original roles.  And that's what I have for you today.




Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


A great cowboy song from the great Ian Tyson.


Joseph Cotten plays Victor Frankenstein in this Italian exploitation flick.  Alas, he is soon killed by his creation and his daughter Tania (played by Rosalba Neri, acting under the name Sara Bay) continues his experiments with the help of Frankenstein's assistant, Charles Marshall (Paul Muller).  Tania and Marshall fall in love and decide to transplant Marshall's brain into a much stronger (and younger) body.  You know that's not going to end well.

This one is NSFW, what with the sex and the violence and the nudity.  Actually, it's the cheesy monster makeup that makes Lady Frankenstein worthwhile IMHO.  Check it out and see if you agree.

Monday, September 14, 2015


Ron MacCloskey put on his Allen Sherman hat to produce this riff on the Jimmy Dean/Roy Acuff classic "Big John."


I'm buying books again!  It is a sickness, and I'm slowly dipping my toes into that diseased water.  Also, these two were a buck apiece.  Can you blame me?

  • Christopher Conlon, editor, He Is Legend:  An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson.  Fifteen stories based on or inspired by works by Matheson.  Stephen King, Joe Hill, F. Paul Wilson, Mick Garris, John Shirley, Tom Monteleone, Michael Arnzen, Gary Braunbeck, John McClay, William F. Nolan, Ed Gorman, Barry Hoffman, Richard Christian Matheson, Joe Lansdale, and Nancy Collins...How can you go wrong?
  • Stanley Wiater, Mattthew P. Badley, & Paul Stuve, The Twilight and Other Zones:  The Dark Worlds of Richard Matheson.  Nonfiction anthology of 27 appreciations and reminiscences of Matheson, together with a detailed (as of 2009) bibliography and filmography of his works.  A lot of great stuff here.
There's a lot of Matheson I haven't read.  Obviously that needs to be fixed.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


Maria Konnikova explains it all.

(Another item for Richard Robinson.)


Tennessee Ernie Ford sings "Whispering Hope."

Saturday, September 12, 2015


The Brothers Four.  If you're in the DC area, they will be appearing at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club on November 11, sposored by the World Folk Music Association.  Sure to be a great show!


Richard Robinson is currently celebrating Sherlock Holmes Month at his Tip the Wink blog so, in Richard's honor, I thought I'd post this comic book with its exciting (?) Padlock Homes and Doctor Whatsis adventure.  Stramded on a Pacific Island after an airplane crash, Homes learns that his enemy "The Professor" (who works for the really bad "Green Ghost")  is on his way with the "Fiendish Four" to annihilate the natives of the tiny island of Lava.  Racial sterotypes abound.

Meanwhile, in the lead story of this issue, Captain Freedom and the Young Defenders battle Adam Skrooge, a man so mean that he kicks a cat in the first panel in which he appears.  Skrooge is using neighborhood kids to collect scrap metal to be ferried over via a secret dirigible to be used in Nazi war plants., but when Captain Freedom and his scrappy young allies face the Nazis, "steely fists thunder a devastating tattoo."

Shock Gibson, the master of electrical energy, faces Baron Kido, a Japanese scientist who has learned how to control the weather and is destroying war plants with terrifying lightning.  Sadly for Shock, all this fighting the Axis interferes with romancing.

The not-so-bright Biff Bannon (U. S. Marines) mistakenly captures a chimpanzee, thinking it's a Japanese sniper.  Soon after, Japanese spies decide to infiltrate the Marine camp disguised as monkeys.  Can Biff be fooled twice?  Apparently not.

Movie star Linda Turner is secretly the Black Cat.  Nobody recognizes her in the same way nobody draws a connection between Clark Kent and Superman.  While she is visiting troops in the Mid-East, she stumbles on a Nazi plot to foment a religious war in order to control the Suez Canal.  Will these Nazis ever learn?

Flossie is a little girl with a red bow in her hair.  She wants an egg sandwich but there are no eggs available.  What to do?  Well Flossie can always get a box full of chicks to raise egg sandwiches.  Which she does, hiding them in a new tank that is due to be inspected by a Congressional committee.  Hilarity ensues.  (Or, what passes for hilarity in 1944.)

Finally, drawn from the ranks of the fearless ladies of the United Nations, are the Girl Commandos a gallant squad that has earned the veneration of democracy's millions.  While in the Saraha, desert raiders kidnapped one the Girl Commandos -- one of the two blonde ones, natch.  When rescuing their fellow Commando, the girls uncover a Nazi plot to turn the desert tribes against England.

Sandwiched in these stories is a two-page text "story behind the cover," in which the Young Defenders are thrown into a pit of alligator-like sea serpents.  No, they were thrown in there by readers tired of their hi-jinks; they were thrown in there by...wait for it...Nazis!  Of course the Nazis are once again foiled.

One question remains:  Why the hell didn't we win the war much sooner?


Friday, September 11, 2015


Come, Tell Me How You Live* by Agatha Christie Mallowan (1946)

A chronicle of her experiences during two seasons of an archeological expedition in Syria in the years before World War II, Come, Tell Me How You Live was Agatha Christie's solo venture into autobiography until she published An Autobiography in 1984.  Unlike her fiction, this book has no solid structure and rambles along like a fireside story and, like a fireside story, it contains warmth, humor, and insight into the narrator.

Christie's second husband was the reknowned archeologist Max Mallowan.  She joined him late in 1934 (the book hints a later year) in a search for prehistoric artifacts.  Here, Max considers ancient Romans the enemies because they left so many artifacts that sully the sites with their clutter, making it difficult to find the earlier native artifacts that he is seeking.  Max comes across as an absent-minded professor, oblivious to any discomforts and chortling gleefully at the thought of finding hidden artifacts.  Max, of course, speaks Arabic;  Christie, of course, does not.  Max is a calm hand who understands the native workers and able to assuage them when needed.  For Christie, the native mind is alien -- their priorities and their attitudes were not British!

Christie lovingly (and somewhat self-deprecatingly) describes how she came to appreciate the people and the land.  From references to her stoutness to her attempt to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol and through her minor misadventures, Christie displays her wit more evenly here than she does in her mysteries.  This is Agatha's story -- not Max's, not the expedition's -- and she tells it well.

Reading the book today, one cannot help but compare the attudes, mores, and customs of the mid-Thirties with those of today and question whether some of the stereotypes we now hold are valid.

An entertaining and fascination book.  An absolute pleasure.

*There is some question about the comma in the title.  The dust jacket on the first edition omits it but Christie's official web site includes it.  Who am I to argue with an official website?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


* Gratuitous Cliff Arquette/Charlie Weaver reference. If you don't understand it, don't worry:  it just means that I'm old and you're not..

Well, here we are in sunny Florida!  It was an effort to get here but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

Christina and Walt left on Saturday (the day before we took off) but were not able to get on the road until after 4 in the afternoon.  Walt had ordered a small trailer for his truck and it turned out to be much smaller than he expected, so a lot of boxes were left behind.  As a result, we did not have a chance to stage their house properly.  And, as a result of all that, their house will go on sale a week later than planned; this will allow Walt (who will be back in Maryland on Sunday) a chance to put the finishing touches on their house.

Their drive down was fun.  They took Rte. 95 South to Rte 85 to cut diagonally across to Pensacola.  Christina drove the car with Erin riding shotgun and the Kangaroo safely buckled in his car seat; Duncan, the smallest dog, rode with them.  Walt took Mark and the two big dogs. ( I'm not sure who had the snake, the bearded dragon, the tortoise, the hedgehog, and the three cats.)  The first night they stopped over in Charlotte, NC (after a couple of cat escapes and an emergency stop at Walmart) to the sound of gunfire as they pulled into their hotel.  Police helicopters were overhead.  A lot of noise, a lot of confusion, not much sleep.  We're not sure what had happened but there was an item on the news later about a nine-year-old girl who had been shot.  Sad.

After that, things went fairly well except for the torrential rainstorm that reduced visibility to zero, during which downpour the Kangaroo managed to open his door.  Erin jumped across the front seat, simultaneously trying to close the door and to keep the dog from jumping out while Christina pulled over to the shoulder.  Once on the shoulder with dog and Kangaroo safely ensconced and door locked, it took a long while for the storm to abate enough for Christinas to see well enough to get back on the highway.  Oh, they also got lost somewhere in Alabama.

Meanwhile, we managed to re-home our two cats.  The day we left an appraiser was scheduled to come by and inspect our house -- a condition of the buyer's lender.  The day after, the buyer was going to have a handyman stop by a do a few small jobs that she wanted.  All that could be done without us.  So off we went.

We packed up our car Sunday, leaving small spaces for each of us to breathe and no room to wriggle our toes.  We got off to a great start, courtesy of Mapquest, which screwed us up royally and had us searching for a road that did not exist.  Lost half a day's traveling time.  On the plus side, we saw some really remote places.  The first night was spent in a not-quite five-star motel.  There was a four-inch crack below the water line in the toilet bowl.  On our second day, we blew the tread on our right front tire.  We limped the car to Walterboro, SC, found a Walmart and had new tires installed.  Interesting fact:  The only places that seem to be open on Labor Day were Walmart and Dollar Tree.  Another interesting fact:  Dollar Tree neither sells nor installs tires.

During our two-hour, $400, Walmart wait we struck up a conversational with a very nice lady who also had a tire problem.  She was an associate pastor at her church so I was blessed an extraordinary amount of times over 120 minutes.  (Truth to tell, I probably need all the blessings I can get.)  When she was a little girl, she had an imaginary friend called Mahalia Jackson and they would sing together; in her imagination they both sang equally well -- and loud.  It was a pleasure meeting her.

That night, our motel had mattresses with absolutely no support.  From my side I kept rolling downwards to the middle; from Kitty's side she kept trying to avoid rolling off the bed completely -- gravity was not her friend that evening.  Not much sleep.  The next day, those torrential rainstorms that bothered Christina and Walt decided to amble down to Rte 10W across the Florida Panhandle to pay us a visit.

We finally made to Pensacola, crossed Pensacola Bay, and found Christina's new house.  Our pod had been delivered there and Christina and Walt emptied the contents into their garage.  We emptied our car into their garage and finally had room to breathe and to wriggle our toes.

Christina's house is beautiful!  Roomy.  Big.  Empty, because her pod hasn't arrived and they have to sleep on the floor until it shows up.  And it turns out the washer and dryer did not convey so dirty laundry is piling up.  And Jack locked Christina's keys in the car.  Fun times.  Walt is busy building up a fence in the back yard for the dogs.   Slowly things are getting organized.  Cable television and internet will be hooked up tomorrow.  (Or not...if Cox Cable is anything like Comcast, our rightly-despised Maryland cable company.  Put this one in the believe-it-when-we-see-it column.)

Erin and Mark started school today.  Erin's happy because she made a friend!  The school does not offer a Spanish II class on her grade level so she will have to take the class online.  Mark is not able to join the track team because all twenty slots have already been taken; there's a chance he may be able to practice with them, though.  His running time is better than those of the teams captain, and no one on the team has ever run a half marathon as Mark has done.  He will be able to try out for the soccer team later.  The high school does not separate its band and marching band so there may be some adjustment there for Mark.  Oh, and Mark missed the bus on his first day.  Oh, well.  Jack will be starting pre-school tomorrow.  He's excited.

We are haphazardly finding our way around Pensacola, which is very confusing for newcomers.  We were using Google maps on Ceili's phone until it ran out of power.  We got lost several times.Much of the territory we covered was probably not necessary. We did find an apartment with a six-month lease.  (Yea!)  This will allow us enough time to find a permanent spot, an apartment or a house -- although Kitty really does not want the hassle of a house right now.  If all goes well, we will move in next Wednesday.

On the schedule for the coming week are 1) familiarizing ourselves with the area, and 2) furnishing our new place.

The sunsets on the Bay are beautiful.  Tomorrow we'll check out the sunsets on the Gulf of Mexico.

*Update to the Update:  Christina and Walt's pod landed in New Orleans for some arcane reason that defies explanation; it should be here Monday.  We had ordered a bed and mattress for our new apartment so they are using that now instead of sleeping on the floor.

Friday, September 4, 2015


The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by John Dickson Carr (1949)

There have been so many biographies of Conan Doyle that it is hard to swing a Giant Sumatran Rat without hitting one, but this early, somewhat imperfect, is worth the time for those who want an insight into the man and for thosse who simply want a good read.  Carr and Adrian Conan Doyle (Sir Arthur's son) spent two years going over the vast files of Conan Doyle's estate.  Those files contained notebooks, dairies, press cuttings, thousands of letters to and from Doyle, as well as significant ephemera -- records large enough noted to have been fully organized until 16 years after the author's death.  Every detail noted and every quote cited, when not taken from the 22 other sources available to Carr, came from this treasure trove of Doyleania.

The result?  Although Carr presents the biography like fiction, he insists that is not a novelized biography.  By depending on sources that stem mainly from the man himself and those closest to him, Carr gives us a portrait of Doyle's persona instead of the man and, perhaps, in this case the two are not widely different.   And Carr is a gentleman as well as a hard-headed romantic, as was his subject; and as a gentleman, some things may well have been glossed over.  Indeed, some things appear to have been buffed  to a shine while others have been ignored completely.  All in all, however, Carr gues a fascinating account of a fascinating man.

The biographer has a way with words.  Here he is describing Doyle's family's affairs shortly after Doyle left medical school:  "But the situation at home was now really desperate.  His father's health was breaking.  charles Doyle, frail and old when only middle-aged, had twice been forced to spend a week in bed.  The Office of Works raised ominous eyebrows at this slackness after only thirty year's service."  With an economy of words and with a stinging wit, Carr aptly describes the tenor of the times.

Doyle himself emerges as a larger than life character, driven by what could best be called a sense of chivalry and all that too-mythical word implies.  His mind was ever probing, ever curious.  He rallied to causes, fought for tthose he felt were being treated unfairly, and never backed down.  During the Boer War, he served in a field hospital where disease was rampant and even when the doctors became fatally ill, he never flinched.  He returned to England with sensible recommendations that could save soldiers' lives and fought for those ideas for years.  Just prior to World War I, he tried to  warn a complacent war department of the threat German submarines posed to the British Navy; all too late was his warnings heeded.  Doyle undertook the lost causes of George Edalji and of Oscar Slater and won -- although in Slater's case it took year's to get justice.  (Slater himself was a poor use of protoplasm, but Doyle championed him because he had been treated unfairly.  That sense of chialry, you see,)  Doyle, an Irishman himself, had strong views on the Irish question, and voiced them widely.  He was an early and vocal supporter of divorce athough he would never consider it for himself.  (He was very fond of his first wife but realized that he had never loved her after he met and fell in love with the woman who would be his second wife with whom he had a very long -- and presumably unconsummated -- relationship until his first wife died after suffering from tuberculosis for thirteen years.)  He was a great sportsman, loved boxing and cricket, and introduced skiing as a sport to Switzerland.  He loved gadgets, especially motorized ones, and was almost killed when he flipped his automobile once (always denying that he was a bad driver).  His mind was always on the lookout for new ideas, new interests.

Doyle had a rather slow start as a writer.  Although he sold the first story he had written, it took a while for his second sale.  Even his Sherlock Holmes stories were not popular at first.  Doyle never intended Holmes to become a series character; it was only at the insistance of his editor (who had a better sense of prophecy than Doyle of his audience) that the adventures continued.  Doyle famously disliked the sage of Baker Street, and felt that his popularity diminshed the public perception of Doyle's historical novels -- the work that Doyle was most proud of.  In fact, notwithstanding the great popularity of Sherlock Holmes, Doyle's historicals were wildly successful, perhaps too much so as later reviewers dismissed some of Doyle's greater historicals as merely rousing reads as they had come to expect from the author.  While certainly not dismissing Holmes, Carr considered Brigadier Gerard to be one of Doyle's greatest characters.  Doyle's other main character, Professor Challenger is Doyle himself in all but appearance; Challenger gave Doyle the ability to express thoughts he might have otherwise left unsaid.

One interesting point about the Holmes stories:  Doyle got the idea of The Hound of the Baskervilles from his friend and fellow writer Fletcher Robinson (Robinson wrote The Chronicles of Addington Peace, a book that is listed as #33 in the Queen's Quorum, a chronological list of the 125 most important detective and crime story collections); Doyle and Robinson work out the plot of the book together but Robinson decided not collaborate on the novel.

Carr also addresses Doyle's devotion to spiritualism.  Common thought had Doyle suddenly convert to spiritualism after the death of his eldest son but Carr points out that Doyle had a thiry-year history of interest in that subject before that point.  Doyle neither believed nor disbelieved in the subject; he was familiar with many of the astonishing stories about the subject but did not believe the facts were strong enough to accept as proof.  (Carr -- like myself -- is not a believer, but tried to put forward Doyle's beliefs as impartially as possible,)  In 1914, for what he considered good and sufficient reasons, Doyle began to accept the validity of spiritulism.  He publicly announced his belief in 1916 -- before the 1918 death of his son Kingsley (from pneumonia) just two weeks before the Armistice.  A few months before Kinsley's death Doyle had published his first book on spiritualism, The New Revelation.  Shortly after the death of his son, Doyle's beloved younger brother Innes also died from pneumonia.  These deaths, coupled with the death of so many friends and relatives in the war, prodded Doyle to devote all his energies (and any future earnings) to the cause of spiritualism.

Carr emphasizes that Doyle was not tricked into his beliefs, rather that Doyle was a rational pragmatist who slowly began to realize the validity of spiritualism.  Doyle was not one to be gulled.  How, then, to explain Doyle's vocal support for the Cottington fairies?  Carr doesn't.  That entire episode is missing from this biography.  (Two young girls claimed to have photographed fairies in their garden.  The "fairies" were actually cut-out figures that -- to my jaded eyes -- look like cut-out figures.  You can go online and see them for yourself.)   This omission makes one  wonder what else may have been omitted from this biography.

Carr's The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may be flawed, but it is damned interesting.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Between the Living and the Dead  by Bill Crider (2015)

It's always a pleasure to spend an evening with old friends and I certainly consider Bill Crider's Sheriff Dan Rhodes a good friend.

In Rhodes' twenty-second full-length outing, Rhodes tangles with a ghost hunter (it had to happen sooner or later):  his pain-in-the-butt, almost-friend Seepy Benton has decided to take the summer off from teaching to become a paranormal investigator.  And according to local lore in Buckland County, Texas, the most haunted house is the old Moore place where its owner was left dead for days to be eaten by his dog. ( Of course, the fact that the dead owner had no dog, just a bird, does not displace the rumor.)

It may or may not be haunted, but when gunshots are reported from the house, Rhodes discovers the body of a local drug dealer.  During the course of the investigation, Rhodes must deal with the victim's not-so-bright criminal relatives, take a bull by the horns (literally), and stumble on a 40-year-old corpse hidden in the old Moore house.

And Buckland County wouldn't be Buckland County is Rhodes did not have to deal with local politics, his wife's idea of healthy meals, feral hogs, Seepy Benton's excesses, and the banter of Hack and Lawton, his dispatcher and his jailer.

As always, Bill Crider is spot-on with his chronicle of life in a small community.  The story is told with warmth, humor, and insight, and Dan Rhodes remains a relunctant hero for the ages.

My good friend Dan is highly recommended in this and in all previous adventures.