Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, March 31, 2016


Thirty-six years ago today, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad ran its last train as the railroad was forced to liquidate its assets, bring the end to an era.

Here's the Weavers from 1963.


Charles Dickens' classic horror story has had a long history on radio, appearing in three separate versions on Suspense (1953, 1956, and 1959), as well as on Nightfall, Lights OutColumbia Workshop, Hall of Fantasy, Seeing Ear Theater, CBS Mystery Theater,and Sleep No More.  As "The Thing in the Tunnel," it was broadcast on Weird Circle and (perhaps a different version) on NBC Presents:  Short Story, as "Hello Below There" (and perhaps as "The Train") on  Beyond Midnight, as "Who Stopped the Train?" on The Creaking Door.

Phew.  That's a lot of versions.

A railroad signalman continues to see a mysterious figure at the end of a tunnel.  Why?

The Suspense episode below, from February 1959, stars Ellen Drew and Ben Wright, from a script by Irvin Reiss.  The episode is introduced by William N. Robeson.

For the curious, the link below should take you the Project Gutenberg site for the original story by charles Dickens.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Perry Como and the Fontaine Sisters -- put them together and what have you got?


Some people get the wrong idea about me and think I'm condescending.  That means I talk down to people.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


From 1977, here's Johnny Paycheck.


While trolling through Youtube yesterday, I came across this honey of a Bollywood suspense thriller.  Admittedly, I have not watched it and am foisting it upon you in a rather off-handed manner.

Now for the good news.  This 2003 flick was inspired by ...wait for it...the Brad Pitt/Morgan Freeman classic Seven!

Not being familiar with Bollywood actors, I can only tell you that Samay stars Sushmita Sen, Sushant Singh, and Jackie Shroff.  Written by Robby Grewal and Sameer Kohli, Samay was also directed by Grewal.

Also, according to the comments, Suchmita Sen is pretty hot.

Enjoy.  (Let me know if it's any good.  I may be watching it soon.)

Monday, March 28, 2016


Doc Watson.


Once again, a week with no Incoming.

Surprisingly, you can have a great week without buying books!  Hard to believe, I know.

While in New Orleans we did a lot of tourist-y things and had some great food but never got to a bookstore.  **sigh**

Then our anniversary came around and Kitty and I had a fantastic time.  (Just as the past 46 years have been fantastic.)

Also, this week Jack (the Kangaroo) kept calling us for play dates.  Who can resist a three-year-old?

Easter Sunday we went over to Christina's for some KFC.  (The working theory was that, since the Easter Bunny has taken over the egg duties, chickens were fair game.)  This was followed by a two-hour attempt to paint like Bob Ross.  The art world has nothing to fear from Chrisstina, Erin, Ceili, Kitty, or myself.

Who knows?  Next week...maybe books.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Career analyst Dan Pink discusses things sociologists know but most mangers don't.  A TED Talk.


Clara Ward and the Clara Ward singers.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


Fortry-six years ago today I did the smartest thing I have ever done in my entire life.

I'm still not sure why someone as wonderful as Kitty married a schlub like me.  It was certainly not for my distinct lack of wealth, and my bride assures me it was absolutely not for dancing ability or for my singing ability.

Every day she makes me a better and happier person.  Every day is brighter than the one before.

I am the luckiest guy on earth.

Every day I continue to honor her and cherish her and try to be better man for her.

Happy anniversary, Kitty.  I love you.


As always, this one is for Kitty.


What do you get when you take an all-American boy and put him in cowboy hat and boots and transplant him to the West?  You get Bobby Benson, the young titular hero of a popular radio drama that ran from 1949 through 1955.  Benson was a 12-year-old lad who inherited a working ranch, the B-Baar-B, from his parents.  With the help of his ranch hands, Bobby's ranch prospers while he encounters all sorts of bandits and owlhoots.

Bobby Benson actually began on the airwaves in 1932 on a fifteen-minute radio show aired on a network of four stations in Buffalo, New York.  The show was created by Herbert C. Rice, a transplanted Englishmanwho had a long and successful career in radio.  (Rice is also sredited with discovering an 11-year-old local musician named Robert Emil Schmidt, who later went on to become Howdy Doody's Buffalo Bob Smith.) At that time the ranch was named the H-BAR-O because the sponsor was the Heckler H-O Company, the producer of H-O Oats cereal.  All of the characters except Bobby were also different.  The show moved to New York after a successful first year and the entire cast and crew were replaced.  The character of Buck Mason (Bobby's foreman and guardian) was renamed Tex Mason and ranch hands Windy Wales and Harka the Indian were added to the cast.  Billy Halop (later of Dead End Kids fame) played Bobby.  A young Tex Ritter played occasional roles on the show.  This first incarnation of Bobby Benson ended in December 1936.

Moving on thirteen years, Rice is now a Vice President at Mutual Broadcasting and decides to resurrect Bobby Benson.  The Ranch is now named the B-Bar-B and the cast is whittled down to five regulaar characters:  Bobby, Tex Mason, Windy Wales, Harka, and the newly added Irish.  Young Ivan Curry plays Bobby and -- in a bit of casting magic -- Don Knotts plays the comic relief character Windy.  In less than to years Curry leaves for greener radio pastures and is briefly replace by Bobby McKnight, who had been making personal appearance as Bobby in Europe because Ivan Curry's mother refused to let him travel there.  But McKnight turned out to be unsuitable for radio and was soon replaced by British youngster Clive Rice (yep, Herbert C.Rice's nephew).  A few diction lessons to give young Clive an American accent and he joined the cast in April of 1951.

The claim that Bobby Benson was the longest-lasting children's adventure drama on the radio is true -- if you are squinting real hard in an unlit room at night with out your glasses.  The show was the last of its type to go off the radio, outlasting Superman, The Green Hornet, Sky King, and others. But even if you included both incarnations, Bobby had only nine years on the radio; Superman had sixteen and The Green Hornet had a total of fifteen.  Nonetheless, Bobby Benson was a phenomenon.  There were all sorts of product placements, two short-lived television shows (one of which gave away a live pony in a contest), and a comic book from Magazine Enterprises which lasted for twenty issues.

All issues of the comic book book were written by Gardner F. Fox, a comics legend wrote more than 4000 stories for the comics and created many well-known characters and devices (such as Batman's Batarang).  Artwork in the early issues is by Bob Powell; Frank Frazetta did the later issues.

Bobby's adventures took place in a modern-day 1950s west, comic book style.  That meaant that characters wore the stereotyped B-movie western outfits, carried guns in their holsters, rode horses, and held up express companies.  Once in a great while you'd some sort of modern device.  Bobby's early adventures pitted him against various outlaws; later adventures included spies, mad scientists, Communists, and super villains.  In issue #6 we are still in mundane villain territory.

In "Trial by Night," Bobby and Tex interupt a bank robbery.  They manage to capture one of the robbers but the other gets away.  Two weeks late Bobby and Windy are returning from the big city on a bus where they meet a nice elderly couple who are traveling to Cactus City to see their son, who haad ran away from home several years before but now (they said) has settled down and has a nice job on a nearby ranch.  Bobby and Windy recognize the son as Lefty Samson, the owlhoot who was captured in the bank robbery.  Bobby is afraid the truth will break the old couples' hearts, so he and Tex convince the sheriff to release Lefty into their custody where Lefty will pose as a B-BAR-B ranch hand.  Lefty's parents are proud that Lefty has made something of himself, but will Lefty actually redeem himself?

While riding his golden palimino Amigo on a far corner of his ranch, the horse trips over a miner's pick that had been mysteriously buried vetrically in the ground.  As Bobby investigates the old pick, he is shot at.  Pick in hand, he hops on Amigo and Skedaddles away.  Thus begins "The Mysrery of Juan Garcia's Pick!"  Turns out the pick is part of the key to discovering a Spanish treasure of gold and three ne'er-do-wells are determined to get the treasure by any means necessary.  Before you can say, "Golly, that's an impressive plot point," Bobby finds himself trapped in a cave with the gold.  Fear not, Bobby wins the day and donates the gold to the local library while keeping the pick as a souvenier.

Amigo proves he is the fastest horse in the county when Bobby beats all comers, including Sheriff Dodds, at the races at the County Fair.  This draws the attention of a couple of crooks, one of whom figures that if he has the steed he could commit a robbery and get clean away -- not even Sheriff Dodds' fast horse could catch him.  After couple of attempts, they succeed in "The Capture of Amigo" but do not count on bobby's cleverness.

The one-page text story required by the Post Office was probably also written by Fox.  It's the story behind the cover which has Bobby rescuing Windy from a stampeding steer,

Rounding off the issue is a tale of the Lemonade Kid, a western hero whose adventures were often included in Bobby Benson's B-BAR-B Riders.  The Lemonade Kid is kind of interesting because he is really Tex Mason, the foreman of the B-BAR-B.  As The Lemonade Kid he wears mask and a yellow and lime-green outfit, but for some reason the mask is missing in this story.  Mason wears normal cowboy outfits for the Bobby Benson stories and The Lemonade Kid is never mentioned in those stories, although the B-BAR-B is referenced in the Lemonade Kid stories.  Somewhat confusing compartmentalization there.

Anyway, in "Brain Storm" the area is plagued by a frightening gang of robbers led by The Brain, who  plans their robberies in such great detail that the law is flummoxed.  With the aid of the Indian ranch hand Harka, The Lemonde Kid infiltrate the gang's lair and puts and end to their reign of terror.  To do this they knock out a couple of sentries and wear their clothes over their own, fooling the gang long enough to bring them to justice.  For a fearsome gang, these dudes are rather dim bulbs.

To join in on the fun, just click the link below.

Friday, March 25, 2016


From our At Least It's Not a Dead Teenager Song Dept., here's Jody Reynolds.


"The Whispering Gorilla" by Don Wilcox (1940) and "Return of the Whispering Gorilla"  by "David V. Reed" (David Vern) (1943); both published in book form as The Whispering Gorilla as by "David V. Reed" (1950)

Yep, apes are cool.  From King Kong to Mighty Joe Young and from Congo Bill's Congarilla to Gil Brewer's "The Gorilla of the Gas Bags," these mighty creatures have fascinated discerning aesthetes (such as me, and probably a few others) for years.  One of the coolest is Steven Carpenter, the man who became The Whispering Gorilla.

The Whispering Gorilla first appeared in a story by Don Wilcox in the May 1940 issue of Fantastic Adventures.  Wilcox (1905-2000)* was a popular writer for the the Raymond Palmer-edited magazines during the Forties and Fifties.  (Palmer was the SF editor/huckster who transformed Amazing Stories into a slam-bang juvenile action-adventure magazine either loved or despised by fans, and starting the similar fantasy-ish based Fantastic Adventures.  Palmer was also instrumental in starting the 1950's flying saucer craze, the so-called "Shaver Mystery" -- parts of which seemed to have been morphed into Scientology -- and in fostering the claims that Jesse James was not killed by "that dirty little coward who shot Mr. Howard.")

After a space of three years, the Whispering Gorilla came back, again in the pages of Faantastic Adventures (February 1943 issue), this time in "Return of the Whispering Gorilla" by Wilcox's stablemate David Vern (1914-1994) under his "David V. Reed" pseudonym**.  (Vern and Wilcox were just two of a number of writers who churned out stories under a variety of names for Palmer and the Ziff-Davis magazines he edited; other writers include William P. McGivern, Robert Bloch, and Charles F. Myers -- all of who went on to bigger things, Myers under the pen name Henry Farrell.  Later members of the Ziff-Davis stable included Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, Henry Slesar, and Randall Garrett.)  Vern also wrote the not-quite classic book The Thing That Made Love (aka, "The Metal Monster Murders") (1954).

Both stories were then published as The Whispering Gorilla in paperback by England's World Distributors in 1950.  Both were then reprinted in 1998 by Gary Lovisi's Gryphon Press as The Whispering Gorilla/Return of the Whispering Gorilla.

What about the stories themselves?  Steven Carpenter is a crusading journalist who has gotten too close to a story about a large crime syndicate dealing in weapons to potential enemies of America.  An attempt on his life led to the death of two of his colleagues and Carpenter's editor sent him to Africa for his safety and to allow him to continue his expose.  Rather than stay in a large city or town, Carpenter opts to stay at Dr. Devoli's compound at the edge of the jungle.  Devoli, it turns out, has been experimenting on a gorilla in ways to give the animal human speech.  Meanwhile, the syndicate has discovered where Carpenter is hiding and has dispatched an assassin to Africa.

The assassin does his dirty working, killing Carpenter.  Dr. Devoli, mourning the young reporter, makes a desperate attempt to bring Carpenter back to life by transplanting his brains into the gorilla's  body.  Over a period of weeks, Carpenter's brain assumes control of the beast, slowly learning to speak and slowly remembering what had happened to him.  Two things become foremost in Carpenter's mind:  the bride he had left behind in America and the thirst for revenge on the crime cartel.  Carpenter sneaks out of Dr. Devoli's compound and makes his way back to America.  (Impossible, you say?  Read on, o doubter.)  It happens that a ship travelling to America also carried Roland Fuzziman and his troupe of actors returning from an African tour.  Carpenter, having gained money to puchase passage, was assumed to be a man wearing a gorilla suit for publicity purposes.  Fuzziman agreed to take Carpenter on and soon produced a long-running show that starred "The Whispering Gorilla."  Carpenter was also determined to take down the syndicate and began penning expose articles signed "W.G."

Of course, no one knew that the Whispering Gorilla was really Steven Carpenter.  Carpenter's wife widow, now working as a secretary for his old editor, is assigned to help type the Whispering Gorilla's stories.  And naturally, his wife has now fallen in love with his best friend so we are in for some simian angst.  And of course there are thrills and chills and derring-do culminating in the destruction of the syndicate and the apparent destruction of Carpenter's personality.

Fast forward a couple of years.  Dr. Devoli has taken the gorilla back to Africa where he has managed to devise a potion that allows Carpenter's personality to regain temporary control of the gorilla.  But the ingredients for the potion are now impossible to find because of the war.  A Nazi major connects some dots and believes he can us Devoli to create a race of super-apes that will win the war for Germany.  As Carpenter devolves more and more into a mindless ape, will he be able to stop the evvil Nazi's nefarious plan?

Yeah, I think you know the answer to that one.

I found these stories to be great fun.  They would have made a great series of B-movies in the Forties or early Fifties.  Consider that praise from a googly-eyed fanboy.

You can find ut for yourself.  Here are the links to the two issues of Fantastic Adventures containing the stories:

* His full name was Cleo Eldon Wilcox, although he at one time claimed (evidently falsely) that his true name was Cleo Eldon Knox
** One source claims that David V. Reed was the author's true name and not a pseudonym.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


We just spent three days in New Orleans so I thought I'd share some Professor Longhair with you.
Laissez les bon temps rouler!


Go to the Mardi Gras:

Big Chief:

Tell Me Pretty Baby:

Bald Head:

Rockin' Pneumonia:

Whole Lotta Loving:

Stagger Lee:

Her Mind Has Gone:

Every Day I Have the Blues:


From 1939, thrill to the Adventures of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.  "The Mechanical Mole" was a seven-part series; each episode ran about 10 minutes and all seven are at the link below.


Monday, March 21, 2016


  • Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, November  2015 and January-February 2016 issues.  These were free so I grabbed them.  It's been a long time since since I read an issue of AHMM.  I had a subscription once, but delivery was spotty -- a full third of the issues never made it to my mailbox.  When I complained, I was told they couldn't send me the missing issues.  I dropped the subscription like a hot potato.  My luck with magazine subscriptions has never been stellar.
  • James Lovegrove, Sherlock Holmes:  The Stuff of Nightmares.  "A spate of bombings has hit London, causing untold damage and the loss of life.  Meanwhile a strangely garbed figure has been spied haunting the rooftops and grimy back alleys of the capital."  The mysterious figure is known only as Baron Cauchemar and he appears to be the scourge of crime and villainy.  But is he really?  It's up to Holmes and Watson to uncover the truth.
  • Michael Malone, Handling Sin.  On the Ides of March, Raleigh Hayes learns that his father has discharged himself from the hospital, taken all his money out of the bank and, with a young black female mental patient, vanished in a yellow Cadillac convertible.  thus the advventure begins...

Sunday, March 20, 2016


We're headed off to New Orleans tomorrow for a 3-day mini-vaca.  We'll be doing some touristy things and I'll probably be looking for some bookstores and certainly for some good food.

 I may or may not be blogging -- exception: tomorrow's Incoming (which is prepared ahead of time since I list the books as I get them).  If not, see you Thursday.


Mike Rowe (one of the coolest guys going) with a TED Talk about dirty jobs.


Reverend Gary Davis, with Pete Seeger, Donovan, and Shawn Phillips watching with admiration.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


The Weavers.


I came across the press book for the film Bomba on Panther Island and I thought I'd share this cool bit of nostalgia with you.

Bomba the Jungle Boy began in a series of boy's adenture books produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate (the same folks who brought you the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, the Bobsey Twins, and so many more characters) under the house name "Roy Rockwood."  Many of the twenty books in the series were written by John William Duffield (although one on-line article posits Howard Garis as the main author).  

From an advertisement from the original publisher:  "Bomba lied far back in the jungles of the Amazon with a half-demented naturalist who told the lad nothing of his past.  The Jungle Boy was a lover of birds, and hunted animals with a bow and arrow and his trusty machete.  He had a primitive education in some things, and his daring adventures will be followed with breathless interest by thousands."  Bomba, of course, was just one of the crowd following in the wake of the success of Tarzan.  Others of that ilk included Maurice B. Gardner's Bantan (in the jungle islands of the South Pacific) and Harold Sherman's Tahara (whose adventures were set in some jungle and some some desert. as well as in the Yucatan).  (Sherman had his greatest success as a psychic expert and exponent of ESP; he also wrote a long string of boy's sports novels and well as some simple-minded science fiction for Amazing Stories.)  The Bomba books themselves were overtly racist.  Bomba, being white had a fully engaged soul, the natives, being black, had souls that were "sleeping" -- but this at a time when such stereotypes were common in literature and accepted blindly by an enthusiastic juvenile audenience.

The Bomba books originally published by Cupples & Leon were:
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy; or, the Old Naturalist's Secret (1926)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy at the Moving Mountain; or, The Mystery of the Caves of Fire (1926)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy at the Giant Cataract; or, Chief Nascanora & His Captivves (1926)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy on Jaguar Island; or, Adrift on the River of Mystery (1927)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy in the Abandoned City; or, A Treasure Ten Thousand Years Old (1927)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy on Terror Trail; or, The Mysterious Men from the Sky (1928)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy and the Swamp of Death; or, The Sacred Alligators of Abarago (1929) *
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy Among the Slaves; or, Daring Adventures in the Valley of Skulls (1929)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy and the Underground River; or, The Cave of Bottomless Pits (1930)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy and the Lost Explorers; or, A Wonderful Revelation (1930)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy in a Strange Land; or, Facing the Unknown (1931)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy Among the Pygmies; or, Battling with Stealthy Foes (1931)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy and the  Cannibals; or, Winning Against Native Dangers (1932)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy and the Painted Hunters; or, A Long Search Rewarded (1932)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy and the River Demons; or, Outwitting the Savage Medecine Man (1933)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy and the Hostile Chieftain; or, A Hazardous Trek to the Sea (1934)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy Trapped by the Cyclone; or, Shipwrecked on the Swirling Sea (1935)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy in the Land of Burning Lava; or, Outwitting Superstitious Natives (1936)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy in the Perilous Kingdom; or, Braving Strange Hazards (1937)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy in the Steaming Grotto; or, Victorious Through Flame and Fury (1938)
After Johnny Sheffield became too old to play Boy in the Tarzan films, he was type-cast in a series of twelve Bomba films:
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy (1949)
  • Bomba on Panther Island (1949)
  • The Lost Volcano (1950)
  • The Hidden City (1950)
  • The Lion Hunters (1951)
  • Bomba and the Elephant Hunters (1951)
  • African Treasure (1952)
  • Bomba and the Jungle Girl (1952)
  • Safari Drums (1953)
  • The Golden Idol (1954)
  • Killer Leopard (1954)
  • Lord of the Jungle (1955)
Here's the plot of Bomba on Panther Island, according to EBRzine

 "After the death of his pet monkey by a maurading panther, Bomba goes after the killer beast.  Its trail leads him to Andy Barnes' home where architect Rob Maitland is trying to clear for an agricultural project.  He has brought his sister Judy is [sic] with him to help set up the plantation, although she has no desire to stay.  The panther kills two of the native workers, but their superstitious companions do not want the animal molested.  The natives also believe that the servant girl, Losana, has the evil eye.  Bomba takes an interest in Judy, but she wants no part of life in the jungle.  When Rob accidently causes a forest fire, Bomba and the girl are forced into a cave where the jungle boy has to kill a panther.  A rainstorm puts out a fire, and everybody learns a valuable lesson, including Judy, who decides to stay and help her brother."

Sadly, I couldn't find the film available online, although it occassionally pops up on TCM.

Without further ado, here's the Press Kit designed to promote the film:

*  This certainly must be Crider's favorite.

Friday, March 18, 2016


Sheb Wooley started a nation-wide craze with this novelty song shortly before be began his long run on the television show Rawhide.  Along with every other kid in America I was belting out the chorus of this song while riding on the schoolbus.  (Though, in my case, it was sung completely  out of tune.)  For my age group, this was the biggest song since "The Ballad of Davy Crockett."

Do you remember all the words?


The Primal Urge by Brian Aldiss (1961)

In a career spanning over 60 years Brian Aldiss has steadily showcasing and experimenting with  his considerable literary talents.  His Hothouse series of stories won a Hugo Award in 1962.  He served as literay editor of the Oxford Mail for eleven years. beginning in 1958.  With his colleague Harry Harrison, he co-founded the first magazine of science fiction criticism.  Also with Harrison, he edited a critically acclaimed annual series of the year's best science fiction from 1968 to 1976.  His novella "The Saliva Tree" won a Nebula award in 1964.  His "Acid Head War" series (published in book form as Barefoot in the Head) was a hallmark of the New Wave movement in science fiction, owing its sensibilty in both the drug culture of the time and a deconstruction of Joycian works.  His 1973 history of science fiction, The Billion Year Spree, won a special award from the British Science Fiction Association; its 1986 revised and expanded edition (published as The Trillion Year Spree) picked up a Hugo Award for best nonfiction work.  His 1968 novel Report on Probability A has been called the first science fiction anti-novel.  His collection The Moment of Eclipse was a BSFA award winner.  His 1986 novel The Eighty Minute Hour is a "space opera" in which the characters actually sing.  His deconstructions of well-known science fiction and fantasy novels -- Frankenstein Unbound, Dracula Unbound, and Moreau's Other Island -- display a deep respect for the original novels while expanding their literary boundries.  Frankenstein Unbound was made into a 1990 film directed by Roger Corman.  His book Brothers of the Head (about Siamese-twinned rock stars who have a third head growing out of them) was also made into a film which remains a cult favorite.  His short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" was to be made into a film by Stanley Kubrick; the project was completed by Stephen Speilberg after Kubrick's death as A.I.:  Artificial Intelligence.  He has been credited with inventing an extremely short form of story called the Ministory.  He was the president of the H. G. Wells Society and served as co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group.  He has been named a Grand Master by The Science Fiction Writers of America and has been inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.  He was elected to The Royal Society of Literature and has been given an OBE for services to literature.  In 2013 Aldiss was given a World Fantasy Special Award.  The three books in his Helliconia series (Helliconia Spring, Helliconia Summer, and Helliconia Winter) have won a BSFA Award and a Campbell Award, and have been nominated for two additional BSFA Awards, two Nebula Awards, and two Locus Awards.  Aldiss is also a respected poet, essayist, and critic.  His mainstream novels include the Horatio Stubbs Trilogy and the Squire Quartet.  His love for traditional science fiction, as well as for the expanding boundaries of the genre, has led to a number of ground-breaking anthologies, including the early Penguin Science Fiction series.

Phew.  And that's just scratching the surface.  Suffice to say that Aldiss is one of the best writers (not only of science fiction and fantasy, but of any category) we have today.  His unending curiosity and sly sense of humor have embued his work longer than many of us have been alive.  Now, at age 90, he says the he has published his last novel and a retrospective series of collections covering his career decade by decade has just been published.

Even if Aldiss never publishes another word, he has a rich legacy for us to mine.  Case in point, this week's Forgotten Book.

The Primal Urge is the story of an England that has abandoned its traditional British reserve.  A neat little invention called the Emotional Register, or ER, is a circular metal object (the book refers to it as tin, but the metal may not be tin) is surgically implanted one's permanent -- it cannot be removed and, by law, every British citizen is manddated to have one installed.  The device measures (to put it nicely) one's desires, or (to put it bluntly) one's sexual attraction to others by turning shades of red -- from a faint pink, indicating a mild (or incipient) sexual interest, to a bright cerise, indicating boy howdie.  There is, of course, some opposition to this enforced plan, along with (surprisingly) a great deal of support.  Can a new age of openness and honesty be on the horizon?

Jimmy Solent, a sexually awkward young man, is one of the first to get an ER.  He lives with his elder brother (a minor official for the British Industrial Liasons party) and his brother's girlfriend -- neither of whom plan to get an ER and thus face imprisonment.  Jimmy works at the nonprofit Imternaational Book Association, organizing an exhibit on Haiti's literary tradition.  The worlds of the BIL and the BIA soon intertwine with those of British politics and the manufacturers of the ER.  Strange conspiracies and hidden agendas soon draw in Jimmy and his friends, only to be compounded by Jimmy's brief liason with a mystrious woman calling herself Rose English.  As the deadline for full compliance with the ER mandate comes closer, other nations begin to clamor for the technology.  But England wants to foist the technology onto its enemies -- why turns out to be the final twist in this entertaining novel

This satire is marked with glorious language, wicked wit, and sly invention.  In lesser hands this could have been a mere exercise in salaciousness.  With Aldiss, it's a smooth romp that never lowers itself to that level.

I really liked this one.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Here's Don and Phi, bring back a few memories.


From circa 1992, here is a 4-part BBC Radio presentation of the great Agatha Christie novel with John Moffatt as Hercule Poirot and Simon Williams as Captain Hastings.

Directed by Enyd Williams and dramatized by Michael Bakewell, Thirteen at Dinner revolves around the murder of Lord Edgware.  His wife wants a divorce but Edgware refuses to grant her one.  Lady Edgware jokes with Poitot that she may have to kill her husband...then he dies and it's no longer a joke.

Am I spoiling things by mentioning that Nicola Pagett gives two stellar perfromances here?  I am  Well, forget I said that.

Enjoy this classic mystery thriller.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


From 1929, here's lee Morse.


A bit of dating advice, girls:  Never go out with a guy who asks, "Does this rag smell like chloroform to you/"

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


FDR's campaign song.  This is a 1930 recording from Hotel Pennsylvania Music, led by Phil Spitaly.


Today is Primary Day in Florida, enabling Floridians to go to the polls and vote for the clown car of their choice.  In honor of the day, my Overlooked Film this week is The President's Mystery, a gimmicky film based on a gimmicky book.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was a fan of mystery and detective stories, suggested this plot during a lunch with magazine editor Fulton Oursler:  "How can a  man disappear with five million dollars of his own money in negotiable form and not be traced?"  Seeing an opportunity, Oursler gathered five (with himself making number six) well-known writers of the time -- Samuel Hopkins Adams, John Erskine, Rupert Hughes, "Anthony Abbot" (Oursler),  "S. S. van Dine" (Willard Huntington Wright). and Rita Weiman -- and set them to turning the idea into a collaborative novel.  The book, with proceeds going to FDR's Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, was a moderate success.

Republic Pictures released the movie just six weeks before the president's 1936 reelection campaign, making it a paeon to FDR's programs.   Modern reviewers have given the book and movie mixed reviews.  Either way, it's an interesting bit of history.  It makes me wonder what sort of mystery plot our next president can come up with.  How about it, maybe-presidents Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, Clinton, Sanders, and/or "Write In Name Here"?

Directed by Phil Rosen, with a screenplay adapted by Lester Cole and Nathaniel West, The President's Mystery maybe the only feature film to give a writing credit to a President of the United States.  The movie features the acting talents/efforts of Henry Wilcoxen, Betty Furness, Sidney blackmer, and Eelyn Brent.

Enjoy.  And, if you are from any of the primary states today, vote.

Monday, March 14, 2016


Leon Redbone.


No new books came into the house this week.  Quel dommage!

I have been busy this week, though.  Colds and flus took up much of our time.  And grandkids.

We took grandson Mark (age 15) to run an 8K sponsored by the Pensacola Running Association.  He came in third (and first in his age group) with a time of 34 minutes 12 seconds -- a fantastic time but he was disappointed because he wanted to run it in 32 minutes.  Turned out that 95 percent of the course was on sand and much of it uphill, which slowed everyone down.  One runner said that the sandy uphill part felt lilke swimming backwards in slow motion; another that she thought the sand would never end; and a third said, "I'm never, ever, in this lifetime, ever going to run this course again."  There were still runners finishing an hour after Mark had, so I guess Mark did all right.  Afterwards there was a free pancake breakfast.  We're going to get Mark a sign -- WILL RUN FOR PANCAKES!

Wa capped the week off by attending the Kangaroo's first soccer game!  Christina signed him up for a two- to three-year-old league, so at three-and-a-half he's one of the older ones.  The game was scheduled to begin at 11:30 in the morning but through a mix-up in communication the other teams thought the time was 12:30.  So the Kangaroo's team (they are The Pikes and were a pinkish jersey) spent dome time scrimmaging, which for this age group means running around like banshees.  The kids love to kick a ball up to the point when they are supposed to, at which point a solid kick turns into a wishy-washy nudge, followed by everybody standing frozen like statues while parents and onlookers are shouting,"Kick it!  Kick the ball!"  Well, everyone is frozen except for a girl named Olivia who inherited the kicking gene from a mule.  Olivia raced around kicking the ball everywhere.  As long as the ball was being kicked she felt she was doing her job.  Onside offside, front, back, sideways, under the parents legs -- it didn't matter as long as the ball was kicked.  A few times the ball went into the right net and a few times into the wrong net, but mostly it zigzagged all over the place.  Several of the kids who were happy to run all over the place started crying when the ball was placed on the court, and continued crying for the rest of their time there.  The other team finally showed up and the game began.  If it was chaos with only one team on the court, imagine it with two.  Nobody knows what the final score was or who kicked what into whose goal.  The kids for the most  part had fun.  Parents and grandparents had a great time. From little acorns, right?  Look out, FIFA!

Not that any of the above is of interest to you.  So let me leave you with a bit of P. G. Wodehouse:  a Librvox recording of My Man Jeeves, eight marvelously funny stories.  Any one of the eight will dispel your Monday blahs and help you get over the shock of Daylight Saving Time.  Enjoy,

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Stephen Frye gives a brief overview of the history of Daylight Saving Time. Frye


The Charioteers.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


The Holy Modal Rounders.


Today's comic book is a one-shot from Dell covering the life (up to then) of recording star Brenda Lee.  This one is a publicist's dream come true for Brenda Lee can do no wrong.

How much of this comic book is true and how much is hyperbole, I'll leave up to you.  the book begins at the beginning with Brenda Lee's birth at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta in 1944.  Um...well and good, but she was born at Grady Memorial Hospital in the charity ward of that segregated hospital.  It's true that Emory University has a relationship with Grady Memorial, but giving the hospital that name is like calling Trump University "Bad Hair University" -- true, there's a correlation there but it's just not cricket.

Also there's no mention of Brenda Lee's birth name -- Brenda Mae Tarpley -- nor any mention of her father (who died when she was nine) exept for an oblique reference to her "widowed mother" near the end of the comic.  As with many authorized star biographies, this comic was polished and buffed until it shone as bright as the sun.

How do you present the life story of someone who's onnly seventeen?  You concentrate on the sunshine and lollipops.

So we have Brenda Lee making her radio debut at six and her television debut at eleven when her ecording career began.  And we have Brenda Lee who, despite a burgeoning career, remains an A student, president of her class, co-captain of her high school cheering squad.  Brenda is a mature, practical young lady who loes to travel, learn languages, meet people, and strives for excellence in everything she does.  Yes, she thinks it's ok for kids to dress casual, but "never sloppy."  she loves her mother, her siblings, her baby niece, and just everybody else.  She limits herself to a budget of $5 a week, saving the rest.  She amazes everyone with her maturity and her talent.  She learns to drive a dog sled sled.  She learns to ice skate.  She learns to type, because a girl should have something to fall back on.  She's popular with all the kids -- boys and girls -- but there's no mention of a romance.  (The real-life Brenda Lee was married at 18 -- a successful and happy marriage it appears.)  Awards, honors, hits, and more awards, honors, and hits.

As with many Dell Comics, I found the artwork to be poor, although Brenda actually looks like Brenda in a few panels.  I didn't recognize Perry Como and Danny Thomas is only recognizable by an exaggerated hook nose.  And Brenda's chest seems to have expanded greatly in several panels.

The real Brenda Lee is a good person and a great talent and -- as far as I can tell -- someone to be greatly admired.  How much of her is included in this piece of fan fluff is, however, unknown.

The Comic Book Plus web site has only one review of this comic book -- and it gave the book ten stars.  Brenda Lee still has at least one active fan, and probably many, many more.

Enjoy this little biography.  Then sit back, relax and enjoy some Brenda Lee.

"I'm Sorry"


"Break It To Me Gently"

"Fool Number 1"

"The End of the World"

"All Alone Am I"

Friday, March 11, 2016


Doug Kershaw, Mr. Swampgrass himself.


The Day They H-Bombed Los Angeles by Robert Moore Williams (1961)

Robert Moore Williams (1907-1977) was a journeyman science fiction writer who, although he never made it into the top tier of SF authors, provided a large number of eminently readable (but ultimately undistinquished) stories in the 1940s and 1950s pulp magazines before he moved on to write a string of original paperbacks for the Ace science fiction line.  He is probably best remembered for his Jongor series about a Tarzan-like hero in the mythic past and his Zanthar series about a scientist with Jongor-like strength in the future.

My wife read The Day They H-Bombed Los Angeles while in high school and was suitably impressed aalthough she had not read (nor still reads) much science fiction.  She revisited it when I picked up a copy for her year or so ago and -- while not as impressed -- found she still enjoyed it.  I decided I should give it a try.

The book's title takes up a third of the cover as it is emblazoned across a painting of a fiery mushroom cloud.  Spread across the top of the cover are the words A SCIENCE FICTION SHOCKER and the back cover tells us A REAL SHOCKER!  Suitably warned, the reader must be prepared to be shocked.

The story takes place nine years into the future, in 1970.  The first H-Bomb falls in the second paragraph and we're off an running.  Tom Watkins has just pulled his sports car into a mall parking lot which conveniently happens to be near a bomb shelter.  Tom has the presence of mind to make it to the bomb shelter; others are not so lucky.  Huddled in the bomb shelter, Tom and a group of survivors begin to wait.  Among the survivors is an FBI agent, a dentist's secretary, a movie actress, and an engineer.  By the end of chapter one a second bomb explode, and a third at the end of chapter two.  This third bomb destroys much of the shelter, killing many of the survivors.

From the FBI agent we learn that the government has been searching the Los Angeles area for several months for an unknown -- but very real -- threat.  After heavy rains have washed most of the fallout from the sky, Tom and his group try to get out of Los Angeles, only to find that the city is barrica ded by the army who will shoot anyone who tries to get out.  Slowly, the realization comes that the government itself had dropped the bombs on Los Angeles, killing hundreds of thousand -- if not millions -- of its own citizens.  What kind of threat would cause the government to do this?

Now here's where coincidence rears its ugly head.  Cissy, the dentist's secretary, tells Tom her boss owns the building where his practice is and that he uses its large steel and concrete enforced cellar as his laboratory.  They head there seeking shelter.  The dentist is old Doctor Smith and he's only a part-time dentist.  He's also a world-famous physicist who was hired by the government to help identify the unknown threat.

Throughout the nights Tom's group has heard a weird howling and isolated sreams of terror.  During the day, they come across horribly mutilated bodies.  Throughout the streets of LA, groups of shambling, zombie-like survivors are murdering anyone who is not like them.  Something has taken ordinary people and regressed them into a bestial state.  A young woman with tiger-like grace seems to have escaped this regression but controls armies of these "zombies" and sets them against the group of survivors.

How can a small group of people survive in a nuclear wasteland that was once a great city,  penned in by government forces and under constant threat by a "zombie" army?  Did I mention that somewhere in this group of survivors are some traitors bent on destroying them?

This is just thing if you're in the mood for a fast-paced adventure story that does not veer far from the author's pulp roots and have a couple of spare hours for an enjoyable read.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


The great Darlene Love with a song produced by the no longer great Phil Specter.


Frontier Gentleman was a short-lived half-hour western program airing on CBS radio from February 2 to November 16, 1958.  The chances are high that this was the only radio show that began with the word "herewith."

"Herewith, an Englishman's account of life and death in the West.  As a reporter for the London Times, he writes his colorful and unusual accounts.  But as a man with a gun, he lives and becomes a part of the violent years in the new territories."

The Englishman is J. B. Kendall, played by future radio Paladin John Dehner.  Dehner's long career was preceded by stints as a Walt Disney animator, a disk jockey, a professional piano player, and an army publicist.  Dehner's striking baritone voice made him a natural for both film and radio.  Dehner had auditioned three times for the role of Matt Dillon in radio's Gunsmoke; he eventually turned down the part because he did not want to be typecast as a cowboy.  On television, Dehner was best known for his roles in The Roaring Twenties and The Doris Day Show, as well as some two hundred appearances from 1953 to 1988.

"The Honkeytonkers" was the third episode in the series to be aired.  A bar girl, Crystal, plonks herself down on Kendall's lap -- something that Wild Bill Bascom doesn't take kindly to.  Wild Bill's life soon depends on Kendall saving him, while the saloon goers take bets on whether Bascom will live or die.

As Kendall's newspaper report states:  "There are places west of Missouri, where gambling stakes are rather high.  This is paticularly true when the wager depends on a man's life."

"The Hinkeytonkers" first aired on February 16, 1958.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Here's Chris Bouchillon from 1926 with the first "talking blues" song.


What's green and fuzzy and has four legs and falls out of a tree and hits you?  A pool table.

What's green and fuzzy and has four legs and doesn't hit you when you when it falls out of a tree?  A poorly-aimed pool table.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Marty Robbins.


Based in part on the Sherlock Holmes stories "The Final Problem" and "The Empty House," this movie was believed to be lost after the only known print went issing in 1955.  The film shown below is an amalgam of two partial prints of differing quality.

The film was adapted by Cyril Twyford, who also wrote two other Sherlock Holmes stories for the production company (and possibly a fourth, which has been completely to time) and two films based on classic mysteries by A. E. W. Mason in the early Thirties.

Sherlock Holmes' Fatal Hour was produced by Julius Hagen Productions, which operated under six fifferent names from 1927 to 1938, producing a total of 61 mostly forgettable films.  Helming the film was Leslie S. Hiscott, notable for directing second tier and "quota quickie" films; his most lasting contribution to the British film industry was in co-founding Twickenham Films Studios.

The cast included a Who's That? of British actors including Arthur Wontner as Sherlock, Ian Fleming (no, not him; in fact this Ian is credited as Jan Fleming in this movie), Minnie Raynor as Mrs. Hudson, Normaan McKinel as Moriarty, Louis Goodrich as Sebastion Moran, and Philip Hewland as Lestrade.

Enjoy this oft-overlooked adenture of the World's Greatest Detective.

Monday, March 7, 2016


For some reason these songs are going through my head today.

The Dixie Cups.

Sam Cooke.


I make no bones about it:  I am the luckiest person on earth.

You were sixteen when I met you.  I was much younger -- a callow and immature nineteen.

The first thing I noticed about you was your contagious smile.

Then I noticed the depths of your eyes and they knocked me out.

As I got to know you I was amazed by your beautiful soul.

Then the damnest thing happened.  You fell in love with me.  For my part, It seems I have loved you throughout eternity.

Everything in me that is good I owe to you.

We have been married forty-five years -- forty-six later this month -- and every day I have loved you more.

We have laughed and cried together.  Fought and conquered.  Raised two amazing girls who have gone on to spread the joy you have given them.

You have brought peace to my troubled soul.  You have shown me beauty.  You have given me understanding.

You were beautiful at sixteen and that beauty has only increased every day I have known you.

I love your strength.  I love your character.  I love your compassion.  I love your smile.  I love your eyes.  I love everything that makes you you.

I always will.


  • Ernesst Cline, Ready Player One.  The highly acclaimed SF novel about a future where virtual reality is preferred to the real thing.
  • "Tabor Evans" (house name), Longarm on the Devil's Trail.  The fifteenth in the long-running adult western series.  Longarm searches for hijacked silver in the Superstition Mountains and (of course) meets a "fortune-hunting charmer."  I'm not sure who the author is although most of the books published during this period were written by series creator Lou Cameron, William C.Knott, and Melvin Marshall.
  • Craig Shaw Gardner, The Batman Murders.  Original comic book/movie tie-in novel.  Leading citizens in Gotham City are turning up  dead, each dressed in a Batman costume -- certainly the work of the Joker, but what's his game?  This one came out in 1990, shortly after Gardner wrote the tie-in to the Batman movie.

Friday, March 4, 2016


Jimmy Evans.


The Monster in the Box by Ruth Rendell (2009)

A funny thing happened on the way to Ruth Rendell Day on Friday's Forgotten Books:   Life got in the way and I was not able to finish the book -- something I should accomplish this evening.  So here's a partial review with my apologies.

First a confession.  I like Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford mysteries; I like Ruth Rendell's short stories; and I have never been able to finish any of her stand-alone psychological novels.  Don't know why.  She's a great writer.  Her stand-alones have won all sorts of awards.  But every time I pick one up, I can't get through the first few chapters.  It's me, I know, not Rendell.  (I also have had the same problem with some of P. D. James' books.)

Luckily, The Monster in the Box is an Inspector Wexford mystery, one harking back to his first days as a policeman.  Elsie Carroll, a young housewife, is found strangled in her home.  Back then, murdrrs were rare in Kingsmarkham and this was the first murder in two years.  Wexford, the low man on the toem pole was called to the scene, along with a police Sergeant, two DIs, and a Detective Inspector.  Elsie's husband, supposedly visiting his sick mother, later confessed to being with another woman.  The woman later denied her involvement with the husband and the husband became the prime suspect.  While leaing thee scene of the crime, Wexford notices a man  the house who stood staring at him.  The man then gave a slight nod, then turned away.  It was then that w/exford instinctiely knew that the man -- Eric Targo -- was the murderer. Soon, Elsie's husband was arrested, went to trial, was conicted, and on appeal was freed due to a technical error.  And Targo began silently stalking Wexford.

Over the years, there were a few more murders in which Wexford suspected Targo was involved but there was no evidence to back up that suspicion.  Eventually Targo moved away.  Wexford stored his suspicions in the back of his memory and also moved on.

Now, after all these years, Targo is back.  Wexford spots him on the street and quietly follows him to a house once occupied by Wexford's long-time partner, Mike Burden.  Targo briefly meets with a young Asian man there, then leaves.  Wexford then sees a teen-age girl in a headscarf walk toward the house.

Mike Burden thinks his partner may be mistaken about Targ.  After all, there has been no evidence that Targ was involved in any murder.  Mike has other things to worry about:  his schoolteacher wife feels that something is wrong with one of her star students, sixteen-year-old Tamima Rahman -- the girl Wexford going into the house shortly after Targo had left.

With the narration travelling back and forth from both ends of Wexford's career and the interspersion of Targo's activitiess and of Tamima's problem, the early parts of the book can be a confusing read.  Soon the book picks up speed, though, and I am anxious to finish it.

What is Targo's game and what is his relationship with the respectable Rahman family?  I'll find out tonight.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


Ben Selvin's Knickerbockers.


While Richard Boone was Paladin-ing his way through the Old West on television, John
Dehner was doing the some on CBS Radio, ofter using scripts adapted from the television show.

The Have Gun -- Will Travel aired 106 episodes from November 23, 1958 to November 27, 1960.  After the first 29 episodes, the radio show sequed to original scripts rather than relying on adapting television scripts; the recycledplots (it was felt) were the cause of the lower than expected popularity of the radio show.  The new focus seemed to have worked.  That is, until 1960.  The costs of producing the television show were rising greatly and the production company made a decision to axe the radio show without bothing to tell anyone.  A script was produced that had Paladin inheriting a fortune from a Boston relative and he then left San Francisco forever.  Only at the end of that show's recording were the surprised cast told not to come in the next week.  Paladin, however, remained in San Francisco until the television show ended in 1963 to the confusion of anyone who follwed the show on both radio and television

"Killer's Widow"  -- first aired as a television episode on March 22, 1958 -- hit the radio waves on February 8, 1959.  there's a hidden stash of loot and no one, not even the killer's widow -- knows where it is.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016


The Zombies.


What do you call a lawyer with an I.Q. of 100?

     Your honor.

What do you call a lawyer with an I.Q. of 50?


Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Little Eva.


A little song.  A little dance.  Any seltzer in your pants?

March may come in like a lion, but here it's coming in with a laugh.  Here's Stan and Ollie from 1943