Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Waylon Jennings.


Judge for Yourself was an NBC quiz show that ran from August 18, 1953 to May 11, 1954.  The show was subtitled "The Fred Allen Show," most likely because it was hosted by Fred Allen -- okay, probably more than most likely.  The format of the show involved three contestants who were "judged" by two separate panels -- one consisting of professionals and one of members of the studio audience.  If one member of the studio audience rated the acts in the same (1, 2, and 3) as the professionals, he or she won a cash prize.  A familiar voice -- Don Pardo -- was the announcer.

The episode linked below features a lawyer, a bank teller, and a book dealers as the audience judges; the professional judges were two people I had never heard of and Arthur Fiedler, the conductor of the Boston Pops.  (Off topic, one of Kitty's favorite memories of Durgan Park, the Boston restaurant where the food is great and the waitresses rude, was of being seated next to Fiedler..  Another favorite memory of that time when everybody smoked was when Muddy Waters bummed a cigarette from her at the the much-missed Club 47.  Good times.)

The episode of Judge for Yourself presented here first aired on December 29, 1953.  The format was designed to give Allen opportunities to deliver one-liners and zingers, a la Groucho Marx in You Bet Your Life.  The third contestant on this episode proidedplenty of fodder for Allen:  he claimed to be the living reincarnation of Nostradamus.

By the way, today would be Fred Allen's 122nd birthday.


Monday, May 30, 2016


Trace Adkins.


  • Steve Brady & Frank Roderus, Murder Revisited.  True crime.  "Lying Bob" Grantham had staged his own murder several years ago and now he has vanished again and his abandoned canternr is discovered covered in gore in the parking lot of Tampa's International Airport.  Was this another scam, or has someone finally got to "Lying Bob"?
  • Richard Lee Byers, The Haunted Lands, Book II:  Undead and Book III:  Unholy.  Gaming (Forgotten Realms) tie-in novels.  A "vicious civil war fraught with undead and powerful magic."  Now I just need the first book.
  • C. J. Cherryh, The Collected Short Fiction of C. J. Cherryh.  SF collection of 29 stories and novellas, including Hugo-winning "Cassandra."  This volume includes Cherryh's collections Sunfall (1981) and Visible Light (1986), along with many other tales.
  • John Connolly, The Black Angel.  A Charlie Parker thriller.  PI Charlie Parker joins the search for a vanished young woman and soon "discovers links to a church of bones in Eastern Europe, a 1944 slaughter at a French monastery, and to the myth of the Black Angel -- considered by eviI men to be beyond priceless.  But the Black Angel is not a legend.  It is real.  It lives.  It dreams.  And the mystery of its existence may contain the secret of Parker's own origins."  I'm a big fan of Connolly and of Charlie Parker.  The boks sing and Parker reminds of a mix of Repairman Jack, Dave Robicheaux, and Jack Taylor.
  • Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg, The Chase.  A Nicholas Fox/Kate O'Hare thriller.  This time around, a corrupt White House chief of staff steals a rare Chinese artifact from the Smithsonian, threatening U.S./Chinese relations.  It's up to Fox and O'Hare to steal it back.  Evanovich and Goldberg are both top-notch authors and it's good to see them working together on this series.
  • J. F. Gonzalez, Survivor,  Horror novel.  It was supposed to be a romantic weekend for Lisa and her husband but her husband ended up arrested and Lisa was kidnapped.  The kidnappers don't want a ransom.  They want Lisa to star in their homemade snuff film.  Sometimes it pays to stay home on weekends.  This one has been optioned for a motion picture.  Gonzales was a rising star in the fields of horror and dark suspense when he died in 2014 of cancer at the much too young age of 50.
  • Cathy Hapka, Lost:  Endangered Species.  TV tie-in novel.  An early novelization of a show I loved.  The showrunners kept throwing in so many plotlines and surprises that they didn't know how to tie up all the loose ends, but it was fun while it lasted.
  • Edward Lee, The Black Train and Slither.  Horror novels.  Running behind a historic bed and breakfast is railroad track.  At night the rooms of the house whisper and you can hear the sries of the things chained to the prison cars of The Black Train.  This one is a revvised version of Lee's limited-edition 2007 book Gast.  In Slither, a new subspecies of the trichinosis worm appears and this one is thirty feet long instead of a few millimeters in length.  Things are not looking too good for a zoological expedition on a certain deseterted tropical island.  No, not good at all.
  • Adrian McKinty, Hidden River.  Crime novel.  Disgraced former policeman Alexander Lawson is hired by the family of his high school girl friend to investigate her murder.  This requires Alex to travel from Northern Island to Denver.  "Bodies begin to ;pile up, and soon Alex is wanted by both the Colorado cops and the British police."  He's on the run and the murderer is closing in.  McKinty is oneof the best of Ireland's current crop of crime writers, which means he's very good indeed.
  • Norman Spinrad, The Druid King.  Historical fiction.  Vercingetorix of Gaul versus the Roman legions of Julius Caesar.  Spinrad may be better known for his controversial science fiction such as Bug Jack Barron and The Iron Dream, but he tells a good tale no matter what he writes.
  • Charlie Stella, Charlie Opera and Eddie's World.  Crime novels.  Stella's novels of underworld crime are noted  for their sharp dialogue and crisp plotting.  Think George V. Higgins without a Boston accent.
  • James Swain, Grift Sense.  A Tony Valentine mystery.  This is the first of at least nine books featuring the retired New Jersey cop with a special talent for ferreting out casino cheaters.  Richard Robinson and others have sung Swain's praises over the internet, so it's near  time for me to get on the bandwagon.

Sunday, May 29, 2016


Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth nations is their memorial holiday for fallen soldiers.  It falls on November 11, the same day Americans celebrate Veteran's Day.

In London's Paddington Station there stands a statue of the Unknown Soldier.  Kate Pullinger takes it from there in this TED Talk.


Andy Griffith.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


After last Sunday, I decided it was time to Hold the Doors!


Veteran science fiction and comics writer Otto Binder gets the credit for adapting Irving Pitchel's 1950 film classic Destination Moon for Fawcett Comics.  Based (in part) on Robert A. Heinlein's YA novel Rocket Ship Galeleo, the movie was scripted by Heinlein, Alford "Rip" von Ronkel, and James O'Hanlon.  Heinlein also served as a technical advisor on the film, while famed artist Chesley Bonestell served as a technical advisor for astronomical art.  This was the first American science fiction film to strive for accurate technical detail. The highly promoted film was produced by George Pal and was filmed in Technicolor.  It won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

The comic closely follows the film.  After a failed rocket launch. the army washes its hands with the effort to go into space, yet one army general and a rocket designer are determined to continue on.  With financing from private business, a type of atomic fuel is developed which should take a manned rocket beyond Earth's atmosphere.  A crew is selected but before the flight could take place, word come that the government is issuing an injunction, fearing what might happen if the atomic fuel should explode.  Before the injunction can reach them, the general, the dessigner, and the main busness inestor decide they would test the rocket themseles, taking along a communications expert.  The remainder of the story details the very real problems that may be encountered on a space to the moon and back.

I'm from the Gosh Wow Sense of Wonder gemeration.  I believe strongly in a space program and that space exploration hold's mankind's best chances for survival.  Reading this comic book I got the same thrill that I had when I first saw the motion picture -- a great thrill, but nothing like the thrill I got in front of a television when Neil Armsrong first stepped on the moon.

There's a strong sense of patriotism in both the film and the comic book, which was fine with me even I believe space is mankind's challenge, not just America's.

The artwork by Dick Rockwell does much to support the story.

Read it for yourself, and enjoy.

Friday, May 27, 2016


From 1935, a bit of Cajun music from Lep Soileau & His 3 Aces.


Tom Swift and His Giant Telescope by "Victor Appleton" (in this case, Thomas Moyston Mitchell)

Tom Swift, young inventor, first arrived in 1910 in Tom Swift and His Motorcycle, or, Fun and Adventure on the Road, which introduced Tom, his chum Ned Newton, and his fathers, cientist Barton Swift.  Although the first two books in the series were mundane juvenile adventures, young Tom soon began to tinker with way in science fiction territory where his inventions were as astounding as his adventures.  Tom wove his way into the hearts of young readers, first with a series of forty novels from 1910 to 1941, then, as "Tom Swift, Jr.," with a series of 33 novels from 1954 to 1971.  Since then there have been an additional 30 books in three additional series, ending in 2007. Over 30,000,000 Tom Swift books have been sold worldwide.

Tom Swift was invented by publisher Edward Stratemeyer, who had developed a syndicate to churn out hundreds of books for young readers.  Most of the Tom Swift books were written by Howard Garis from a brief outline usually written by Stratemeyer.  Statemeyer's daughter, Harriet, wrote the last three book in the series that were published by Grosset & Dunlap.  (Harriet would later produce the Tom Swift, Jr. series.)  The last two books published in the original series were written by Thomas Moyston Mitchell and were published by Whitman as "Better Little Books" (think Big Little Books, but...well, I guess...better).  These two Better Little Books measured bout 3 5/8" by 4 1/2" by 1 1/2" to make it easy for young hands to hold.  The first of these two books, Tom Swift and His Giant Telescope, was heavily (and poorly, IMHO) illustrated by James Gray.  (The second, Tom Swift and His Magnetic Silencer was illustrated by J.R. White.  According to Whitman's BLB internet page, the second was specifically written and illustrated to fit the BLB size requirements.)

Both books measured 432 pages, but when you consider the size of type and the heavy use of whte space and illustrations, each book shrinks down to about an hour's reading time.  One sentence paragraphs.  Little description.  Huge leaps from scene to scene.  And why give the neer-do-wells motivation?

The plot is simple.  In the previous book, 1935's Tom Swift and His Planet Stone (written by Harriet Stratemeyer Adams), Tom investigated a large meteor that had landed in a jungle land.  Tom had the recovered a part of the meteor and brought it to his lab.  Now Tom has extracted a material from the meteor which is either an unknown compound or an unknown element (toss a coin, take your pick).  With this material he has devised a new type of powerful lens.  Tom arranged to have the meteor shipped to him so he can get enough material to make a much larger lens.  Tom, you see, has hypothesized that the meteor was sent by intelligent beings from Mars.  With a larger lens, he can direct the telescope to Mars and prove his theory.  Alas, the ship carrying the meteor encountered a bad storm and had to jettison the cargo at sea.  Plucky Tom races to where he has determined the meteor was dumped in order to raise it (and rescuing two divers from a giant fish at the same time).
Meanwhile, two neer-do-wells (remember them?) steal Tom's formula for the powerful lens.  All
ends well and Tom discovers an advanced Martian civilization although neither he (nor the sereis) does anything with the discovery,

Let me admit than I am a fan of the original Tom Swift series.  I've read about twenty of them and found them all to have a charming innocence and innovation that is appealing.  (I gloss over the inherent racism and xenophobia that is prevelent in books of that time.)  The move to Better Little Books, however, sucked the life out of the series.  

If I had my druthers, the original series would have ended at 38 books, rather than 40.

Thursday, May 26, 2016


The amazing talents of Tim Buckley were laid to waste in 1975 when, at the age of 28, he died after ingesting a bag of heroin.  Moving from folk sound to other types of music, Buckley was an instrumental and vocal innovator who was not a great commercial success during his lifetime but who became more and more influential after his death as people began to recognize his abilities.

Buckley was a popular student in high school and captained the school's football team; an injury during one game left him with two permanently damaged fingers which left him unable to play certain guitar chords and pushed him into using extended chords.  An unhappy home life with an increasingly abusive father, a "shotgun" wedding to his high school sweetheart leading to a disruptive and short-lived year-long marriage, and an even shorter (two weeks!) college career all led to a full-time dedication to music.  All of this may have had some role in his self-destructive obsession with the fast life; according to his lyricist,  "He continually took chances with his life.  He's drive like a maniac, risking accidents.  For a couple of years he dranks a lot and took downers to the point where it nearly killed him, but he'd always escape.  Then he got into this romantic heroin-taking thing.  Then his luck ran out."  Nonetheless, his overose took friends, family, and fans by surprise.

Buckley's son Jeff was born a month after his divorce from his first wife and was raised by his mother and stepfather.  Jeff met his father only once -- when he was eight, the same yeaar when Tim Buckley died.  Jeff Buckley became a successful musician and died in an accidental drowning in the Mississippi River.  He was only thirty -- two years older than his father when he died.  Unlike his father, there was no question about drugs being inolvved in his death.

The link brings to what one Youtuber feels was the ten best songs of Tim Hardin -- strangely, the link contains 13 songs.  Oh well.

And here's son Jeff with a fantastic cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah":


Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon.


Last night I read a short story by Ken Greenwald, an adaptation of Denis Green and Anthony Boucher's radio script "The April Fool's Day Adventure," first aired on the April 1 (naturally), 1946 episode of Mutual Radio's The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.  The story -- plot and twist ending provided by Boucher; background and most of the dialogue by Green -- was based on an incident alluded to in Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet.  The story took us back to those erly days when Doyle and Dr. Watson were just getting acquainted and set the scene for some of Holme's best-known adventures.

After reading the story, I had to look up the original broadcast in order to share it with you.

Relax, travel back to the timeless London of the world's greatest consulting detective, and enjoy the marvelous voices of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Jesse Colin Young.


This was Gracie Allen's recipe for roast beef:


     one small roast beef
     one large roast beef

Put both roasts in the oven.

When the little one is burnt, the big one is done.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


The Seekers.


This was the first of at least four adaptations of Agatha Christie's classic short story "Philomel Cottage" (and of Frank Vosper's stage adaptation of the story).  There is some confusion concerning this version and a verssion released the following year; in fact the information at the link refer to the 1938 Edna Best/Bernard Lee film rather than this one.

Beautiful Ann Harding (It Happened on Fifth Avenue, The Magnificent Yankee, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit) plays beautiful Carol Howard, who falls in love and marries dashing Gerald Lovell (Basil Rathbone, in one of the most controlled over-the-top performances of his career) and soon suspects he is a killer.

Scripted by Frances Marion, one of the most respected screenwriters of the 20th century, and helmed by B movie legend Rowland V. Lee, Love from a Stranger/A Night of Terror surpassed its budgetary restrictions to become a nuanced suspense classic that honored Christie's vision.

Of special interest is the appearance of Joan Hickson, who would become what some think of as the definitive Miss Marple some 55 years later.


Monday, May 23, 2016


Jimmy Preston, one of the founding fathers.


  • Stephen Baxter, Flood.  SF novel.  Earth's waters are rising, flooding from the planet's mantle.  As land (and countries) disappear, it becomes eident that the entire planet will be flooded within fifty years.  This is the first of a duology (followed by 2009's Ark).  Baxter also returned to this series with three novellas collected in last year's Landfall.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


Do you remember being pissed off back in the day when Barbie dolls were programmed to say, "Math class is hard!"?  And if you weren't pissed off, you should have been.

Here, Cassidy Williams talks about being a girl in STEM classes.

Which brings to mind this Peggy Seeger song:

Sexism, like racism or any other unfounded bigotry, has had its day.  It's time to move on.


The Davis Sisters.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


The Pozo-Seco Singers with a Phil Ochs classic.


"Hard fighting, hard-fisted and hard to kill---expertly trained in everything and ready for anything-- attracting trouble wherever he goes and loving every minute of it-  that's Jeff Jordan U.S. AGENT"


Jeff Jordan, that's who.  And he's a U.S. agent.  Not only that, according to his badge, he's a "Special U. S. Agent."  So special, the reader has no idea what department he works for and no indication of what he does except for finding trouble and solving murders.  He has a girlfriend:  Peg Powers, ace reporter for the Evening Graphic, a zoftag raven-haired beauty with a Veronica Lake do and ajealous streak.  He has a pal and an assistant all rolled into one in the form of tough, bald-headed Marty McCann, a fellow who was not designed to be a dim bulb but is surely one nonetheless.

As far as I can tell, Jeff appeared in only this one issue of a doomed comic book title.  I have no idea who wrote his adventures, nor who drew them (at least two artists over the three stories in this ish), nor who the punctuation-deaf letterer was.

In the first story, "The Stamp Forgers," Jeff is strolling along the deserted waterfront one night when he hears a splash.  Running to investigate, he sees a beautiful woman climbing from the water ont the dock.  Before he could get to her, a knife is thrown into her back and she plunges once again into the water.  He dives in to rescue the dying woman only to has her expire in his arms moments later -- but not before she utters a few cryptic words.  Lying on the dock is a small box the woman had dropped, containg a single stamp.  Not just any stamp -- an ultra rare stamp.  Only two of its kind exist, both in the hands of rich and powerful men who happen to live in the city.  But each of the two still have their stamp but the third one must be counterfeit although expert opinion shows absolutely no difference between the three stamps.  (Yeah, you could drive a truck through the plot holes.)  Fists fly, thugs get tossed, bullets fire, and flames roar as Jeff closes this case.

In the "The Man He Could Not Forget," Jeff and Peg go to the movies.  While purchasing the tickets, Jeff notices a man who seems familiar.  Once the film starts, Jeff remembers who the man is -- ""Rock" Davito, a gangster who specializes in armed robbery.  As Jeff rushes out of his seat, shot are fired.  The theater manager is dead and Rock and his gang are escaping.  Jeff goes in pursuit and soon both bullets and fists are flying.  It seems Peg is doomed never to have a quiet date with her beau.

Finally, in the third (and untitled) story, agent Gene Fox -- a friend and colleague of Jeff -- is shot down in St. Louis.  Jeff instinctively knows the deed was done by Speed Schneider, the Flying Dutchman," one of the smartest killers in the country.  Schneider always has an unbreakable alibi for this and several other killings in the past -- when death strikes Schneider was always hundreds of miles away flying his small plane and had the fight records and airport authorities to prove it.  Jeff has a hunch and lets a rumor drop that he and Marty will fly to St. Louis on a commercial passenger to prove it.  While in the air, the plane is strafed by someone firing from a smaller plane; the pilots hide in a cloud cover and manage to land the plane safely.  Jeff and Marty are not so lucky when they take a cab from the airport.  They are captured by Schneider's thugs.  More fists, more bullet, and an escape leading to a final confrontation and the big reveal.

There's a lot of fast action and a hard-boiled sensibility in this comic book.  Jeff Jordan may not have been a lasting hero, but he cretainly was an interesting one.

Check is out.

Friday, May 20, 2016


Bob Marley.


Marionettes, Inc. by Ray Bradbury (2009)

Some of my favorite writers are favorite in small doses only.  Case in point:  Ray Bradbury, a brilliant writer who has left an indelible impression on his time but whose prose is often overwritten, maudlin, and simplistic.  But Bradbury was also a powerhouse writer whose emotionally charged work celebrated the glory and mystery of life, love and wonder.  Few people could read a Bradbury story and not be effected.  Whether writing about Mars, the Illustrated Man, Green Town ,the Elliott family, Ireland, Halloween, carnivals, the twin captains Ahab and Nemo, dinosaurs and veldts or any one of a thousand other subjects, Bradbury touched the basic core of humanity in his readers.  Childhood, for him, was something to be cherished and honored and never something to be abandoned.  That's what Ray Bradbury gave us -- hope, optimism, a delightful feeling of fear, and an appreciation for ewhat is around us.

Marionettes, Inc. was a limited release (2000 copies) hardcover from small press publisher Subterranean Press, collecting five stories (one previously unpublished) and an unpublished film treatment written over a period of twenty years or more.  The common theme is robotics and its effect on ordinary people, with the longest (and most well-known) story being "I Sing the Body Electric," also known from its televised title as 'The Electric Grandmother."

The contents:

  • "I Sing the Body Electric!" (from McCall's, August 1969; reprinted in Bradbury's collections I Sing Body Electric!, 1969; To Sing Strange Songs, 1979; and The Stories of Ray Bradbury, 1980)
  • "Marionettes, Inc." (from Startling Stories, March 1949; reprinted in Bradbury's collections The Illustrated Man, 1951; Ray Bradbury, 1975; and The Stories of Ray Bradbury, 1980)
  • "Changeling" (from Super Science Stories, July 1949; reprinted in Bradbury's collection Bradbury Stories:  100 of His Most Celebrated Tales. 2003)
  • "Punishment Without Crime" (from Other Worlds Science Stories, March 1950; reprinted in Bradbury's collections Long After Midnight, 1976; The Stories of Ray Bradbury, 1980; and I Sing the Body Electric! and Other Stories, 1998)
  • "Wind-Up World" (previously unpublished)
  • "Murder by Facsimile" (previously unpublished screen treatment)
As you can tell, this is a thin book (118 pages, some of them blank).  The previously published stories are readily available elsewhere and surely most Bradbury fans have read them.  Of the two unpublished stories, 'Wind-Up World" is a mere four pages and "Murder by Facsimile" is six.  The first is a throw-away shaggy dog story, the second merely a bare bones summary.

Ray Bradbury famously wrote every day and much of what he wrote never saw print.  Many of his later collections were padded with some of those previously unpublished stories and poems and some of these "trunk" items have been successfully mined by specialty small press publishers.  In most cases, this is not a bad thing, IMHO, and there certainly was a market for this limited book.  But for what is basically ten pages of unpublished minor prose, $35 seems a steep price.  This one's for collectors only.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Popular British music hall performer Harry Champion with one of his hits from 1910.


I make no secret of my love for Jack Benny, whom I consider one of the greatest comic talents of all time.  This appeciation also extends to Eddie "Rochester" Anderson.  As Rochester, Anderson was the first African-American to have a regular role on a nationwide radio program.  In their quiet way, Benny and Anderson -- good friends in real life -- did much to change racial perseptions in America.

When I came across this episode of The Jack Benny Show, I couldn't resist.  Sorry, but I don't have a date when this first aired.

Enjoy the magic.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Considering the past week I've had, this song by Hank Locklin seems appropriate.


My uncle has very poor hygiene, but at least we've convinced him to put on new socks every day.  Now his shoes won't fit.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Another year has past a few changes have happened.

A year ago we were living in Southern Maryland with no expectation of moving.  Then Christina took us aside and asked if we'd like to move to Florida.  Walt was thinking of getting a job in Pensacola and, if they were going to move, this would be a good year to do so, but they would still need help with the kids.  So everybody moved to Florida.  (Well, not everybody; Jessamyn and Amy are still in Massachusetts but will be moving down in July after Amy's graduation.)

All the things I have written about Christina in the past still hold true, but this year I hold her accountable for the Florida sunshine and warmth.  The move has allowed her to hone her sign language interpreting skills -- there's far more work available here than there was in Southern Maryland -- and to keep up with her cardiosonography skills.  All their soapmaking equipment has made the move south and Cove Lake Soapworks is now in the process of developing custom candles.  Walt is able to keep busy at work and still have time for a jillion fun projects around the house.  Erin has made many friends and loves it down here, even though she's nervous about going into high school.  Mark is getting more serious about running and has done well in several half marathons, as well as in shorter races; he'll be doing his first full marathon this November.  The Kangaroo is thriving -- he's socializing well in his pre-school and in his soccer and swimming lessons.  The animals have also coped well with the transition.  Sadly, they lost their hedgehogs, but they did gain a tegu to join the dogs, cats, python, bearded dragon, and tortoise.  Christina has discovered the white sands of Pensacola Beach and just last week saw her first dolphin swimming in Pensacola Bay; this week she saw her first sea turtle.

Life is good.

Christina is able to juggle many balls successfully while remaining the same warm, caring person she has always been.  (If you remember, while working as an ER tech. she would sit with dying patients because no one should die alone.)  She's clear-headed, determined, empathetic, smart, and talented.

When Christina was three-years-old, my father told us, "Always put your money on that one."  He was right and I'm sad he never got to see the wonderful woman she has become.

A father is allowed to be proud of his children and I am so proud of both my girls.  But today, I celebrate Christina's awesomeness.

Happy birthday, darling.  I love you.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


From my Facebook page:

Also celebrating a birthday is our mostest favorite 31-year-old niece, Lizzie! Lizzie is composed 100% of smiles, laughter, and joy -- an absolute delight. I'm sure all the positive things in her make-up come from her mother; certainly they couldn't have come from my brother, who has been known to make disparaging remarks about banjos. (Or, perhaps she inherited them from her younger sister * -- I'm not really clear on how this whole genetics thing works.) Anyway, to know Lizzie is to love her. Massachusetts' loss was Arizona's gain. Lizzie is newly married and I can't wait to see what life has in store for her and Steve. May the joys of today follow them well into the future. Happy birthday, Elizabeth Finocchiaro!
*another mostest favorite niece


From my Facebook page:

Kitty's college roommate turns mumble-mumble years old today. She's the same age age as Kitty, and I'm fairly sure Kitty is 28. Although she probably doesn't realize it, Pat Fiorello Wittenbach has been a major influence on Kitty. Pat is always smiling, exuding kindness and love 24/7. It's impossible not to like her. She's a woman of faith, a loving wife, mother, and grandmother, and an important member of her community. She recently had a devastating stroke -- or it would have been devastating to anyone else, but through courage, faith, grit, and the support of loved ones is climbing back, meaning we will be able to wish her happy birthday for many years to come! Pat, you are an inspiration and a friend and we hope you have a simply marvelous day! (We also understand birthday cakes in Michigan are especially tasty!)

Thursday, May 12, 2016


Took a toss yesterday morning.  Nothing bad, but I need a couple of days to recuperate.  Be back soon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


A children's song from Pete Seeger.


This (If I counted correctly) was Helen Gibson's 95th film.  She began in 1914 and became a major serial mstar when she took over the role of Helen in The Hazards of Helen from Helen Holmes.  Gibson counted on her athletic abilities to do dangerous and exciting stunts.  In the early Twenties, she phased out her major acting career to concentrate on being a stuntwoman -- the first professional stuntwoman, according to some.  She did continue doing bit parts and uncredited parts all the way to 1962's The Man Who Shot Libery Valance.  Her first marriage, to cowboy star Hoot Gibson, ended in diorce after seven years.

The Ghosts of the Canyon is the story of two competing railroad companies.  Gibson plays spunky Helen Mortimer, the daughter of railroad chief J. F. Motimer (played by S. D. Wilcox in his second film).  Helen's beau, Tom Forrest, is played by Millard Wilson in his second (and last) film.  Burton Law (In the Days of Buffalo Bill, Under Two Flags, The Oregon Trail) rounds out the cast.

This 24 minute short was directed by Robert Myles and written by R. A. Dillion.  Neither of these worthies have a listing on IMDb.

And, yes, since it's a western and a railroad flick and has a daring young stuntwoman in the lead, of course Helen is going to be tied to the railroad tracks.


Monday, May 9, 2016


The Kinks.


  • "Richard Avery" (Edmund Cooper), The Expendables #3:  The War Games of Zelos.  Sf novel.  The Expendables are a group of criminals and misfits selected to explore new planets for colonization.  The planet Zelos was not supposed to harbor human life.  Nonetheless, the Expendables find a Viking-like civilization of human descendants from Terra.  Hoping not to have to eliminate this population, the Expendables find themselves in peril.  Short, short chapters and (hopefully) fast action in this, the penultimate book in the series.
  • L. Sprague de Camp & Catherine Crook de Camp, The Stones of Nomuru.  SF/fantasy novel.  "Mild-mannered Terran archeologist Keith Salazar was just minding his own business, digging up the alien past on an out-of-the-way planet Kukulcan, when suddenly he was beseigedby ibtruderss on his scholarly peace:  hostile natives, an indifferent ex-wife, and a demon developer with rapacious eyes glued on both his site and his true love."  This one has giant reptilian predators.  This 1989 book is the ninth novel in L. Sprague de Camp's Viagens Interplanetarias series that began in 1949.
  • James B. Johnson, Daystar and Shadow.  Post-apocalyptic SF novel.  Daystar and Shadow, two wanderers in the desert that once was America.  'When the two finally met and joined minds, the world would be transformed -- and the final struggle for Earth's dominion would be launched."
  • E Phillips Oppenheim, The Man from Sing Sing.  Old style thriller.  Also published as Moran Chambers Smiled.  Reuben Angels testified against his former partner Moran Chambers, resulting in a ten-year sentence for Chambers.  Since then Angels has living in fear of Chambers' revenge.  Between 1887 and 1943, Oppenheim produced some 150 books, in addition to plays and scripts.  Oppenheim, along with Edgar Wallace and Sydney Horler, ruled the British thriller scene during the first half of the Twentieth Century.
  • Richard Pini, editor, Dark Hours:  Blood of the Ten Chiefs, Vol. 5.  Graphic novel tie-in anthology with nine stories.
  • Steven Popkes, Caliban Landing.  SF novel.  The scout ship Shenendoah lands on the planet Caliban, a world of brightly colored trees and the fur-colored Calabi, who could neither speak no hear.  When a native is accidently killed, the crew of the Shenendoah must somehow prove their innocence to this entire strange world.
  • Richard Purtil, The Stolen Goddess.  Fantasy novel, the second in the pre-Grecian Kaphtu trilogy.  Ducalion has a quest set upon him by Apollo himself, leading to "a descent into the fabled regions of darkness and shadow where the lord of the deathlands had taken the daughter of a jealous goddess."  A journey into Thomas Burnett Swann land by an expert on Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.
  • Bob Shaw, Medusa's Children.  SF novel.  "The Clan knew almost nothing of the giant globe of water in which they lived.  They knew only of the unending quest for precious bubbles of air, the omnipresent fear of the giant tentacled Horra,,,and Ka, the dark, brooding prescence at the core of the world.  But Ka, age-old master of the Horra, knew that the liquid planetoid, the ancestors of the Clan -- and Ka himself -- had originated on earth.  The way was open for return...and conquest."  Shaw was a much-loved writer and fan.
  • Hugh Zachary, Munday.  Mystery.  Fortier Beach is suppposed to a quiet, peaceful Noth Carolina town.  But then there's the high school girl's supposed suicide, the two runaway girls,   As the body count begins to climb, Police Chief Dan Munday's daughter disappears.

Sunday, May 8, 2016


A middle school class brought to tears by this.


Donna Bradley on piano for this 1864 hymn.

Saturday, May 7, 2016


From 1959, Gene Wyatt.


My father thought The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show was "damned foolishness," but I -- and millions of others loved it.  Where else on television could you get such a brave squirrel or such a noble moose -- not to mention all the other madcap characters who made the half hour so enjoyable?

The cheesy jokes and inspired lunacy did not end at the television set.  Comic books (all titled Bullwinkle and Rocky) were relased by various companies -- Dell, Gold Key, Charleton, Star).  Movies, toys, records, video games, product tie-ins, and even an opera followed, as did this one-shot comic from Dell.

Familiar nursery rhymes are given the special Frostbite Falls treatment which involves twisting not only the words  but the story behind them.  Covered in all their glorious wackiness are "Sing a Song of Sixpence" (...the King ran from the dining room...he thought the meal was screwy!  The queen was in the kitchen!  She was ordering chop suey!); "The, Boris and the, Natasha" (who went to sea in a Pottsylvanian boat); "Old Mother Hubbard" (with a few editorial comments from Mr. Peabody);"The House That Jack Built" (a modern all-glass house which took plenty of jack to build); "Little Miss Muffet" (as Boris and Natasha try to figure out what a tuffet is); "There Was a Crooked Man" (with Snidly Whiplash in an obvious case of type casting); and a "Mother Moose Medley (Rock-a-Bye, Rocky...Humpty Dumpty...Twinkle Twinkle (with rhinestones because diamonds are too expensive)...Here We Go Round the Mulberry Poison Ivy-Bush; and Sherman Be Nimble, Sherman Be Quick.  As a bonus, Dudley Do-Right enacts "Little Bo Peep" and Bullwinkle presents "Old Mother Moose."

How can you go wrong?

The entire issue was written by Al Kilgore, who probably also did all the artwork.


Friday, May 6, 2016




Biltmore Oswald:  The Diary of a Hapless Recruit by J. Thorne Smith, Jr., U.S.N.R.F. (1918)

This week, many of your Forgotten Books crew are concentrating on debut novels.  Patti Abbott will have the complete links at pattinase.

Thorne Smith (1892-1934) is probably best remembered for his comic fantasies such as Topper, Topper Takes a Trip, The Night Life of the Gods, and Turnabout.  He was born at the U.S. Naval academy in Annapolis.  His father, Commordore James T. Smith, served as the supervisor of thee Port of New York during the first World War.  His maternal great-grandfather was the "Maxwell" of Maxwell House Coffee.  He was not an academic wonder, dropping out of Dartmouth in 1912, after which he wrote advertising copy for Lyon's Tooth Powder.  He loed the sea and looked forward to oyages with his father whenever they were possible.  In 1917 he joined the Navy and began to work on The Broadside, A Journal for the Naval Reserve Force, starting as a writer and quickly being named editor.  During his tenure, the publication expanded from five to fifty pages -- partly in response to a series of humorous articles Smith wrote about a fictitious recruit named Biltmore Oswald.  Long before No Time for Sergeants, See Here, Private Hargrove!, Don't Give Up the Ship!, and Gomer Pyle, there was Biltmore Oswald, one of the original miltary fish out of water.  These articles proved popular with enlisted men and officers alike -- so much so that many of the articles were collected in Biltmore Oswald, Smith's first book.  The remaining articles were collected in his second book, Out o' Luck:  Biltmore Oswald Very Much at Sea (1919).  Together, the books sold over 70,000 copies.

Smith's greatest ambition was to be a poet.  His next book would be his only book of poetry, many of them reprinted from The Broadside, Haunts & By-Paths (1919), which was a critical flop.  About this time Smith met and married Celia Sullivan and, licking his literary wounds, went back to advertising.  The following year Smith's father died, naming Smith his sole heir -- which is a little bit strange because Smith had an older brother.  Because his brother Skyring had a family, Smith gave him the family home, while he and Celia went on vacation to France.  Returning, Smith bought a home in New Jersey while he and his wife blew through the rest of his inheritance.  The couple were not good at money and spent most of their lives in debt.  Smith was also an alcoholic.

His next effort at a book was a literary novel with a tinge of fantasy, Dream's End, which he could place anywhere.  The book after that was Topper (1926), a rollicking fantasy laced with copious drinking and sexual innuendo, which was an instant success.  With Topper such a success, Smith was able to sell Dream's End (1927).  Dream's End was not neccessarily a bad book, but it was not a good book and it was unfocused.  (The Saturday Review of Literature called the book "a wallow of fevered flapdoodle.")  So it was back to the humorous fantasy that made Topper such a hit.

Smith's talent in that direction can be seen in Biltmore Oswald.  One section included "a true story if it were true and I'm not saying it is" related by an old salt about his encounters with a risque mermaid wearing a hat and nothing else.  Pure fun.

Oswald is surely the worst naval recruit in history, as narrated by his diary.  Physically, his chest would be mistaken for the lower part of his neck if there were not arms sticking from it.  His wide-eyed innocence and his incredibly bad luck combine to make his superiors try to turf him off to others.  (They refuse to give him an ineptitude discharge because, as loyal Americans, they refuse to saddle the civilian world with him.)  He fails at every job given him.  On the day of a big review, he manages to lose ten thousand men.  On top of this, his doting, over-protective mother keeps invading the camp on his behalf.  The entire story is told with a quiet, gentle humor that any enlisted man could relate to.

Biltmore Oswald takes our hapless hero through training and ends as he is about to ship out.  His adventures at sea continue in Out o' Luck.

An interesting and amusing book which clearly shows the author's burgeoning talent at humor.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


From Sesame Street.


Tab Hunter had the #4 song hit of 1957 with this song.


Ned Wever is America's favorite square-jawed policeman in this 14 episode arc that aired from February 8 to February 25, 1938 on radio's Dick Tracy.  Walter Kinsella plays fellow cop Pat Patton. The identity of many of the other actors have been lost to time.  The Dick Tracy radio show ran on various networks from 1934 through 1948.  This particular arc of fifteen-minute episodes ran on NBC Radios's weekday afternoon schedule.  Sound effects were probably by Bill McClintock.

This compilation has eliminated extraneous introductions to the various episodes, as well as commercials, leaving a smooth-running narrative.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Perry Como.


"I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time".  So I ordered "French Toast during the Renaissance." -- Peter Kay

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Scott Joplin.


Based on Horace McCoy's classic thriller, this film was Jimmy Cagney's followup to the classic White Heat.  Cagney again plays a ruthless gangster, this time the sadistic Ralph Cotter, who manages to escape from prison while murdering a fellow convict.  Backing up Cagney in this exciting film are Barbara Payton (Dallas, Only the Lonely), Helena Carter (The Golden Hawk, Invaders from Mars), Ward Bond (all around film tough guy and the more sympathetic star of television's long-lasting Wagon Train), Barton MacLane (The Treasure of Sierra Madre, Tarzon and the Huntress, and television's I Dream of Genie), Luther Adler (D.O.A., Wake of the Red Witch). Rhys Williams (How Geen Was My Valley, Raintree County), William Frawley (television's I Love Lucy, My Three Sons), Kenneth Tobey (The Thing from Another World, television's Whirlybirds), and Frank Reicher (King Kong, Son of Kong).  Among the uncredited actors were Neville Brand, William Cagney (brother of Jimmy), and King Donovan.

Directed by Gordon Douglas (The Sins of Rachael Cade, In Like Flint, Tony Rome) and adapted from McCoy's novel by Harry Brown (A Place in the Sun, Sands of Iwo Jima), this movie was produced by William Cagney through a production company form by his brother Jimmy and himself.


Monday, May 2, 2016


Bobby Vee.  There's some serious early Sixties hanky-panky going on in this video as Bobby tries to do his best Ken doll impression.


  • Steve Alten,Domain.  Thriller.  As the Mayan calender ends, "a rare galactic alignment occurs, and a space transmission reaches Earth."
  • Glen Cook, The Dragon Never Sleeps.  SF novel.  "For Millennia, the Guardships have patrolled Canon Space, maintaining peace -- and human hegemony -- with an iron gauntlet.  Guardship dictate is law, and those merchantile houses that dare defy Canon rule are harshly dealt with -- through interdiction or outright sterilization -- by the massive, sentient starships with immortal crews and vast armies kept ready in suspended animation.  To date, no attempt to overthrow the Guardships has succeeded..."
  • L. Sprague de Camp, The Heroic Age of American Invention.  Nonfiction. The story of 32 men who made the modern American era.  According to the blurb, this 1961 book "is the only book currently in print which is devoted solely to American inventors."  Portions of the book first appeared as articles in Science Digest.
  • Alane Ferguson, The Angel of Death.  Young adult mystery, the second in the Cameryn Mahoney/Forensic Mystery series.  Seventeen-year-old Cameryn is an assistant to her coroner father.  As such, she has seen aylr O'Neil, the most popular guy in school, finds the gruesome corpse of their murdered Enflish teacher in his own bed."
  • Alan Dean Foster, A Call to Arms.  SF, Book One of The Damned.  "For eons, the Amplitur had searched space for intelligent species, each of which was joyously welcomed to tke part in the fulfillment of the Amplitur Purpose.  Whether it wanted to or not.   When the Amplitur and their allies stumbled upon the union of races called the Weave, the Purpose seemed poised for a great leap forward.  But the Weave's surprising unity also gave it the ability to fight the tthe Amplitur and their cause.  And fight it did -- for thousands of years."  Will Dulac was looking for a place of solitude at a tiny reef of Belize.  "What he found instead was a group of alien isitors -- a scouting party for the Weave, looking for aliensamong what they believed to be a uniquely warlike race:  Humans."
  • Carolyn Guesr, A Southern Mansion Mystery 3.  Mystery novella, evidently self-published and the third of at least five set in mansions throughout the South.  This one is set at the Amelia Island Williams House in Fernandina, Florida.  "In a hushed voice Edna whispered, 'Catherine, I need your help as soon as possible because no one else will believe me. [sic] And then she hung up!  Something was dreadfully wrong!"  (That quote does not bode well for either Edna or the reader.)   Oh, look, there's also five recipes from the Williams House.  The author lives/lived one town over from us.  This is a signed copy.
  • James Burl Hogins, editor, Literature:  A Collection of Mythology and Folklore, Short Stories, Poetry, Drama, and Literary Criticism.  Textbook with 44 stories, eight ;plays six articles of litcrit, and a jillion (398 pages of a total 962 pages) poems.  Judging from a brief scan of the contents, the editor might be a bit generous in his definitions of mythology and folklore.
  • Susan J. Morris, editor, Realms off the Dead.  Gaming (Forgotten Realms/The Haunted Lands) tie-in anthology with a dozen stories.
  • Billie Sue Mosiman, Malichi's Moon.  Vampire novel, sequel to Mosiman's Red Moon Rising.  Malachi was a dhampir, born of a vampire mother and a mortal father.  He faces  danger on two fronts:  from Balthazar, a predator organizing a secret army to overthrow the established vampire order, and from Charles Upton, a "made" vampire, imprisoned for long years in a monastery in Thailand, all the time planning to seize control of the vampires and unleashing a reign of bloody terror that threatens to destroy all vampires and mortals alike.
  • Carrie Patel, The Buried Life.  Fantasy novel.  "The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hides secrets and lies.  when Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the urder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of preservation -- Ricoletta's top-secret historical research facility."  This one's an ARC.
  • Robert Sheckley, Aliens:  Aliens Harvest.  Movie franchise tie-in novel.  "With a highjacked spaceship and a crew of hardcase misfits, [scientist Stan Myakovsky and skilled thief Julie Lish search] for the ultimate pot of gold at the end of a bloody intergalactic rainbow:  royal jelly from an alien hive.  The only problem is that the fortune lies on the universe's most godforsaken planet.  And once they get their hands on it, they'll have to fight their way past the aliens to get off the planet alive."

Sunday, May 1, 2016


Leslie van Gelder with a TED talk about the archeology of intimacy.


Dock Walsh, the Banjo King of the Carolinas.  I'm not sure if this dates from his time leading the Carolina Tar Heels.