Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Sunday, July 31, 2016


Once again, we bring the information you need to know!


98-year-old Lois Cunningham performing at the Grand Ol Opry.

Saturday, July 30, 2016


The Troggs.


Jack Binder's Doc Strange, the man made mighty by alosun (a distillate of liquid sun-atoms), battles the fiendish Mephisto.

The American Crusader (Professor Archibald Masters, who gained superhuman strength after being exposed to the rays of a giant atom) battles the saboteurs.  (Will those Nazis ever learn?)

Lucky Lawrence, Leatherneck, breaks up a spy ring.  Hoo-rah!

Lt. Calvin McKay tells the story of a missionary's son in Northern Australia who stumbles a Japanese plot in this brief text story included to comply with mailing regulations.

The Ghost, a master of yogi magic, struggles with the villainous Dr. Fenton, inventor of the Time Machine.

Flying Ace The Lone Eagle soars into action after two out of three experimental prototype airplane prototypes are sabotaged.

Another brief text story, "Rustler's Hideout" by Sam Brant, features western hero Jimmy Blue.

Valiant reporter Hale of the Herald uses invisibility to fight crime.  This time he finds himself in a runaway roller coaster and facing a dangerous tiger.

Perhaps as a sop to the distaff side, the final story in the book features Peggy Allen, The Woman in Red.  This costumed and masked heroine shows a lot of leg as she goes after mobsters who have stolen a jeweled idol.  (The Woman in Red has no powers except for athleticism and moxie.  Does she not deserve superpowers, or does she just not need them to get the job done?  You decide.)

Sixty-eight pages of pro-American, anti-Axis thrills -- how can you go wrong?

(And, as a nod to Crider, I picked an issue that has a toothy crocodile on the cover.)

Friday, July 29, 2016


Pinetop Perkins.


Rocket Jockey by "Philip St. John" (Lester del Rey) (1952)

First published as part of the Winston "Adventures in Science Fiction" series (back in the days when Young Adult wasn't even a category so it was published as a juvenile) and reprinted more than a quarter of a century later under the del Rey name, Rocket Jockey is the story of the eighteenth Armstrong Classic race throughout the solar system for bragging rights and lucrative contracts for the winning planet or colony.  The Classic was held every ten years.

Jerry Blaine was a student at Earth's Space Institute and had just received his junior navigator's permit when he was unceremoniously ousted from the school.  His brother Dick was piloting the Last Hope, an Earth entry in the Classic.  The Last Hope was testing a new rocket fuel that their father had developed and, if proven, would secure both their fortune and advance humanity's grip on space.  Because of circumstances beyond Dick's control, the Last Hope was suddenly an engineer short and Dick needed his brother to step into that position.  Jerry agreed and joined Tod MacLane, a crusty old engineer and long-time family friend, to round out the crew.

Mars, the winner of the last three classics, is determined to win once again and is willing to do so through trickery and time-delaying sabotage, if necessary -- as the men of the Last Hope soon discover.  What's worse, Dick becomes ill and the ship interrupts its race to bring him to Mars for an emergency operation.  Although his brother is unable to continue, the race is still on and Jerry finds himself piloting the now two-man vehicle.  As he settles down to his new role, Jerry also finds he has a determination he did not realize he had, a determination to complete the race -- win or lose -- with the best time possible.  And the classic is one race where a mistake could mean death for everyone in the ship.

 Del Rey has provided an action-filled plot where know how and instinct balance precariously on the thin line of survival.  Jerry has to create new ways of piloting to offset the many time-delaying accidents, ruses, and incidents of sabotage the Last Hope encounters.  This is one of the many types of writing that del Rey excelled in and that del Rey provided in all his entries in the Winston series.

The Winston "Adventures in Science Fiction" series were eagerly read by my generation, with most books ranging from very good to excellent, and with few clunkers.  Lester del Rey wrote ten novels in the series (using four names) and prided himself on being as scientifically accurate as possible.  The edition I read was the 1978 del Rey paperback that was published under the Lester del Rey name and appears to have been updated for the edition.  (I doubt the race was called the Armstrong classic in the 1952 edition.  Whether there were any other tweaks is uncertain, but the book still reads well 62 years after its first publication and 38 years after the edition I read was published.)

Sometimes it's good to go back to the old days.

Thursday, July 28, 2016


Today is Bill Crider's 75th birthday.  As many of you know, Bill is battling a very aggressive form of carcinoma and is scheduled for his first appointment at M. D. Anderson today.  Bill is going in today with the love and support of a legion of friends and fans -- all of whom want his special sort of kindness, humor, and talent to continue.  So I am just one of the legion.

Happy birthday, Bill, and may you have many more.


Connie Francis was a hit pop performer in the late Fifties and early Sixties.  From 1957 through 1969, she had 43 top 100 hits, twelve of which were top ten hits.  Despite highs and lows in her career and her personal life, Francis has continued performing and remains popular on the concert scene.  One of the main secrets to her success is her ability to change and adapt to popular mucis styles with the times.  She has bounced back from the trauma of a well-publicized rape, the murder of her brother, and four failed marriages -- and has kept on singing.  Face it.  The woman has grit.  And talent.

Connie Francis was one of my sister's favorite singers, something that makes her a sentimental favorite for me..

Everybody's Somebody's Fool

Who's Sorry Now?

Lipstick on Your Collar

I Will Wait For You

Where the Boys Are

Love Is a Many Splendored Thing

Don't Break the Heart That Loves You

Stupid Cupid

Tennessee Waltz


Ave Maria

And here's her first recording, Freddy.  MGM Records signed her because this was the name of the son of one of its vice-presidents and he thought it would make a nice birthday gift for him.  The record (as well as her next eight solo singles) bombed.  Let this be a lesson to all:  if at first you don't succeed...


Dunninger the Mentalist, with guest Dorothy Killgalen, February 23, 1944

Joseph Dunninger (1892-1975), "The Amazing Dunninger," was a world-famous mentalist and magician who was one of the first to perform magic on radio and television.  Granted, it is difficult to do this type of act on radio.  I mean. really.  But if Edgar Bergan could get away with ventriloquism on radio, I suppose Dunninger could do his act on radio.

Dunninger was a noted debunker of fraudulent mediums, although he also offered $10,000 to anyone who could prove he used confederates in his act.  However, like James Randi later, he also offered the same sum to any medium who could prove any physical phenomena by psychic or supernatural means that could not be explained by scientific means.

Dunninger wrote many books on magic, some of which were published by Hugo Gernsback.  a number of articles published under the Dunninger name were ghost-written by Walter B. Gibson, and it has been suggested that Gibson used Dunninger as a model for The Shadow.

Dunninger's radio program ran under different titles and on various networks from 1943 to 1946.  This particular program ran on the Kem-Tone Blue Network from January 5 through December 27, 1944.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Simon and Garfunkle.


A teenager was gong to the prom with his best gal, so he went to rent a tux.  The tux rental store was very busy and her had to wait in line for over an hour before he got his tux.  Then he went to rent a limo but the rental agency had a long line and it took him more than two hours to get the limo.   Then he went to the florist to buy flowers and, once again, he faced a long line; it took a long time to get the flowers.  Finally it came time to pick up his girlfriend.  At the prom, they were having a great time when his girlfriend said, "I'm pretty thirsty.  Could you get me a cup of punch?"  Less than a minute later he comes back with the punch because in this story there's no punch line.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


John Mellancamp.


Take one uncharted tropical island, one mad scientist/Nazi who doesn't realize the war ended twelve years earlier, a bunch of stormtroopers who ditto, a bevy of beautiful girls in bamboo cages, a violent tropical storm, an impending bomb test, a quest for a perpetual motion machine, human experiments to cure a terribly scarred face, and then throw in Sheena and Jimmy Chan/Hop Sing and you have B-movie drive-in fare that is entertainingly bad.

Tod Griffin (who appeared in a couple of dozen television shows in the Fifties) plays Fred Macklin is the captain of a boat that is shipwrecked on an unknown island during a hurricane.  Also shipwrecked is spoiled little rich girl Jerrie Turner (Irish McCalla) and crewmate Sammy Ching (Victor Sen Yung).  They immediately discover is about to be used for bomb tests, then they discover lovely girls (The Diane Nellis Dancers, yes, they are the She Demons of the title) doing a jungle dance.  When the girls are not dancing, they are kept in bamboo cages and are used in glandular experiments by Nazi Colonel Karl Osler (Rudolph Anders, a German-born actor who changed his name during World War II to Robert O. Davis, for obvious reasons).  Osler is trying to find a glandular cure for his wife Mona (Leni Tana, who acting career consisted of this film, one part of a two-part episode of One Step Beyond, and an uncredited appearance as "Woman in Queue at Post Office" in Hitchcock's Torn Curtain), who had been horribly disfigured during a laboratory accident.  Naturally crazy Nazi guy falls for Sheena and Mona gets jealous.  More things happen, but who cares?

Then there's the underground lab that has a window looking out onto the jungle.

This is the type of movie that is best appreciated ;late at night with a couple of rowdy friends and a lot of popcorn.  As far as I know, She Demons never got the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment, but it deserves it.  Maybe Tom Servo and the gang will get to it in the upcoming season.

In the meantime, enjoy.

Monday, July 25, 2016


Dion and the Belmonts, in prime 1958 form.


  • Jay Bonansinga, Shattered.  A Ulysses Grove thriller.  Grove is an FBI profiler; this time he's up against the Minnesota Ripper, a killer who "likes to work in pairs -- of victims.  For every dead body laid to waste, a second one faces it, a grotesque mirror image of terror."
  • Jeffrey Deaver, More Twisted:  Collected Stories, Vol. II.  Sixteen stories by a writer worth reading.
  • J. T. Edson, Trigger Fast.  A Floating Outfit western.  "Karl Mallick was a genius at the real estate business.  Anybody who was reluctant to sell at his price was challenged by Mallick's Double K gun thugs.  Then Mallick hit a snag.  Three Texans were waiting at the Lasalle ranch:  Mark Counter, the Ysabel Kid, and Dusty fog..."  Ooooh, Mallick, you'se in trouble now!
  • "George Gilman"  (Terry Harknett),  Adam Steele No. 6:  The Killing Art.  A violent adult western in a popular (and violent) series.  Steele finds himself in a shooting match during an Independence Day celebration at Friday Wells.  Somehow, I think things will not turn sun shiny.  In fact, I predict things will get a little wild for Adam Steele.
  • "J. R. Roberts" (Robert J. Randisi), The Gunsmith #18:  High Noon at Lancaster.  An early entry in the  (very long-running) adult western series.  A young ranchhand is eager to take the job of sheriff in Lancaster, Texas, after the last sheriff fled from a gong that vowed to destroy the town.  Problem is, the ranchhand doesn't know the first thing about the lawman business. so Clint Adams, the Gunsmith, takes the young man under his wing.  The ranchhand happens to be named Pat Garrett.
  • Tomothy Zahn, Terminator Salvation:  From the Ashes.  Movie tie-in prequel.  Terminator Salvation was an absolutely terrible movie with no redeeming qualities whatever.  (Tell us what you really thought about the flick, Jerry.)  Here's hoping this prequel novel has some redeeming qualities.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


Sometimes you just need a laugh.  At times like that, who better to turn to than Bob Newhart.  Here's one of his classic routines.


Joey & Rory.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


The great Merle Travis.


Not a comic book this Saturday but a small-press magazine about comic book heroines.

  • Trina Robbins has an interesting article about three women comic book artists of the Thirties and Forties:  Lily Renee, Fran Hopper, and Tarpe Mills.  Renee and Hopper worked for Fiction House, a company that was noted for hiring "undesirables."  (Their best cartoonist happened to be Black.  Horrors!)  Mills, a former fashion model, syndicated her heroine Miss Fury and then published her in a comic book format.
  • Debi Dunn's article, "In the Dark." covers Darkstar, a minor Marvel heroine (well, minor, but she did save the world once).  Darkstar is a patriotic Russian who seems to spend a lot of time in Los Angeles with The Champions; her superpower is the "dark force," a rather nebulous power that seems to be able to do anything.   Darkstar's origin, like her superpower, is never explained.  She's now believed to be back in Russia.  Not that many people care.
  • Supergirl first appeared in Action Comics in 1959 and made 125 appearances in that comic book, departing exactly ten years later.  Supergirl's earthly identity was Linda Lee, one of the many double Ls in the Superman canon (Lex Luther, Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Limmy Lolson -- just kidding about that last one).  In her tenth adventure, Supergirl got her very own super-pet, Streaky the cat (take that, Krypto!); she eventually got a second super-pet, Comet the super-horse (Comet was a one-time centaur under a magical hex).  Scott Gibson gives an in-depth look at the super-blonde and her travails.
  • Cat Yronwode chimes in on "The Lovely Charms of Leiku Wu, Mistress of the Master of Kung Fu."  A -- dare I say it? -- kick*ss article.
  • Steve Johnson's column "The Golden Age Girls" looks at Sun Girl, a heroine who was the original Human Torch's girl Friday.
  • Plus:  a letter column, club news, and some stunning artwork
A good time for all!


Friday, July 22, 2016


The Hollies.


The Snake by Mickey Spillane (1964)

Say what you will, Mickey Spillane could write, and (in IMHO) knew just what he was doing whenever he sat down at his typewriter.

Tough-guy private eye Mike Hammer blasted his way through six best-selling blockbusters before taking a ten-year hiatus.  When he returned in 1962 with The Girl Hunters, we learn that Mike has been on the bottle for years, mourning his vanished and long-thought dead secretary, the voluptuous Velma.  In The Girl Hunters, Mike learns that Velma is alive and has been working the spy guy game on something important to national security.  Velma is being hunted by an assassin and Mike blasts his way through the enemy to save her.  In the end, Velma is safe -- although she is never seen in the book; that's something reserved for this follow-up.

The Snake begins with the short-lived Hammer-Velda reunion, interrupted by a bad guy with a gun, who -- in turn -- is interrupted by two bad guys with guns.  Bullets start flying and Mike finds himself on another case.  This one involves a not-so-young Lolita type who is the adopted daughter of a powerful and likable pol who is running for governor.  The girl is convinced that her father is trying to kill her.  But one near miss by a careless driver and one episode of feeling someone is following her does not a murder plot make.

Things get complicated when a thirty year old heist and three million dollars in missing cash are added to the mix.  The bodies pile up and the new D.A. and new police inspector are out for Make's blood but, because of his work in the previous book, Mike has a get-out-of-jail-free card from the federal government.  That card doesn't help Mike when various gangsters and killers go after him.

As with any Spillane book, this is a fast-moving, nonstop train ride. and Spillane is having a ball with it.  Mike may have bounced back from his seven-year binge but he wouldn't have survived this caper without several over-the-top dei ex machina.

A Mike Hammer novel would be a Mike Hammer novel without a healthy dollop of (looking back) pretty mild sex.  Mike Hammer has a strong, albeit slightly bent, sense of honor.  He may bed all sorts of women, but he refuses to bed Velma until they are married.  (He also, in his way, tries to stay faithful to her.)  Velma, we learn, is still a virgin and is eager to have Mike alter that status.  This leads to several cases of third-basus interruptus (if I can coin a phrase) and most often the interruptus is a bad guy (or guys) with a gun.

Mike Hammer may be a mythic feature but that doesn't mean the author can't have fun with him.

Hammer may not be everyone's cup of tea but he remains a strong cultural figure for good reasons.  I, for one, have always enjoyed his adventures, both the ones written by Spillane and the posthumous ones produced by Max Allan Collins from Spillane's notes and partial manuscripts.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


I love each one of my nieces more than the others, but I must say Julie has the sweetest smile.  She's a heart breaker and I'm damned proud she's part of the family.

May today and every day bring to you the joy that you bring to the world, Julie.


Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton.


Thinking of Bill Crider today.  This one from CBS Radio Mystery Theater, January 6, 1974, epitomizes geezer power.

Heal well, Bill.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


From 1939, The Smoothies, with Hal Kemp & His Orchestra.


You say you're in the mood for an Ed Wood movie?  I'm sorry, no one is in the mod for an Ed Wood movie, but I have one for you anyway -- and this one stars Lyle Talbot, an actor whose credits stretch a mile and a half long.

It also features Delores Fuller, one-time angora-sweater-wearing girlfriend of Ed Wood and the co-star of Glen or Glenda?  Sara Jessica Parker, who portrayed Fuller in Ed Wood, called her "The worst actress in Hollywood."  Fuller went on to become a song-writer and founder of a record company and helped launch the careers of Johnny rivers and Tanya Tucker, among others.

Also featured is Herbert Rawlinson, a one-time silent film star who morphed into a character actor in the talkies.  The story is that Rawlinson died the day after he finished shooting his scenes for this Jail Bait -- which may or may not say something about this movie.

As a special treat, you also get Steve Reeves -- Mr. Hercules himself -- early in his career.  (Actually, it's his first film.)  Jail Bait  is supposedly only one of two movies in which the audience hears his actual voice; all of the Italian muscle-man flicks he made used a dubbed voice.

Timothy Farrell supplemented his job as a L.A. Sheriff's Department bailiff.  While filming one movie he appeared in was raided, the set was raided by police, which caused him "professional embarrassment."  (The movie evidently had a few key scenes with strippers.  At the same time he was also working in religious films under his real name, Timothy Sperl.)  Farrell went on to a 20 year career as a deputy marshal, eventually being appointed County Marshall.  Shortly afterwards, he was convicted on felony charges and was given (due to poor health) six months probation.

Rounding out the main cast is Clancy Malone in his only acting credit.  Malone had earlier worked as a unit director on Glen or Glenda?  Beyond that, I could not find any information about him.

You may have noticed I haven't said anything about the plot yet.  Let me correct that oversight.  First off, the title does not refer to underage sex, rather to a gun.  (It's Ed Wood.  Go figure.)  Clancy Malone is the son of world-famous plastic surgeon Herbert Rawlinson.  Malone starts hanging around vicious small-time crook Timothy Farrell.  A robbery goes wrong and Farrell kills a night watchman.  Malone wants to turn himself in but Farrell has a different idea, which leads to plastic surgery being performed at gunpoint on a living room sofa.  Lyle Talbot and Steve Reeves are cops.  Delores Fuller is Malone's sister and Rawlinson's daughter.  The film is a mish-mash of sincere ineptitude that is the hallmark of Ed Wood.

Grit your teeth and enjoy this one.

Monday, July 18, 2016


Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler, from the 1934 film Dames.


  • A. A. Aguirre, Bronze Gods. An Apparatus Infernum novel, the first in the series of steampunk detective novels.  Janus Mikani and Celeste Ritsuko are the most successful pair in the Criminal Investigation Division.  Assigned to find a missing heiress, the girl is instead found murdered, her body charred to cinders.  "It soon becomes clear the bogeyman has stepped out of nightmares to stalk the gaslit streets, and it's up to them to hunt him down."  "A. A. Aguirre" does little to hide the fact that the author is Ann Aguirre.
  • "Max Brand" (Frederick Faust), The Jackson Trail.  Western.  First published as "The Giraldi Trail," a four-part serial in Western Story Magazine (6/11/32-7/2/32).  Giraldi was a character in The Killers, a book that Faust published in 1931 under his "George Owen Baxter" pseudonym; to avoid confusion about the pen names, publisher Dodd, Mead changed the character's name to "Jesse Jackson" (where have I heard that name before?) for their 1932 book edition; Five Star Books changed the character (and title) back to Giraldi when they reprinted the book in 1999.  The book has also been published as The Outlaw Trail.
  • Celeste Lasky, Ghost Stories of the Estes Valley, Volume 1.  A chapbook of eighteen stories, supposed (hah!) true, told to the author by residents of the Estes Valley in Colorado.  I've mentioned before that I'm a sucker for this kind of thing, as well as folklore and tall tales.
  • Jeff Gelb & Michael Garrett, editors, Stranger by Night.  The sixth in the long-running Hot Blood series of erotic horror anthologies.  Eighteen stories.  Judging from some of the other books in the series that I've read, this one probably contains a healthy mix of excellent tales and some clunkers.
  • Adrian McKinty, Hidden River.  Alexander Lawson, forced to resign from Northern Ireland's police force in disgrace, learns that his high-school girlfriend has been murdered in Denver.  Lawson goes to Colorado to investigate and soon the bodies pile up, while Lawson is hunted by both Colorado and British police.  This one sounds very familiar and I may well already have a copy; I'll find out later this year when I finally get around to cataloging my books.
  • "P. J. Parrish" (Kristy Montee and Kelly Montee),  An Unquiet Grave.  A Louis Kincaid mystery.  Kincaid is bi-racial cop turned P.I.  An infamous sanitarian is about to be razed, along with its long-forgotten cemetery when it is discovered that the body in Claudia Olsen's grave is that of an unknown person who had died horribly.  This one won the 2007 Shamus and Thriller Awards for Best Paperback

Saturday, July 16, 2016


Jesse Colin Young.


Despite two years of college Spanish, I neither speak nor read that language.  In fact, I speak no languages outside of English and Pig Latin and I have a hard enough time with those.

So, here's a Spanish language comic book and have no idea what it's about.  Alan Duff is evidently some kind of tough guy, maybe a private detective because he dodges a knife and punches a guy -- both de rigueur actions for a private eye.

Alan Duff was written and drawn by Julio Vivas (born Julio Vivas Garcia in 1923).  Vivas created the Alan Duff comic for Editorio Marco in 1952.  The web site Comic Book Plus has 30 of the Alan Duff adventures available.  I don't know if there are any others.  In fact, I can find very little about Alan Duff on the internet (except for the fact that his name is shared by a New Zealand author) and very little information about Julio Vivas (except that he shares a name with a baseball player and with an actor).

The joy of foreign language comic books is that you can make up your own stories to go with the pictures.  I do the same thing with the telenovelas on Spanish Language television.

Anyway, here's "El Vampiro."  (Should I mention that I didn't see anything resembling a vampire in the artwork?  No, I think not.)  If you happen to read Spanish, you're in luck.  If you happen to have a Spanish language dictionary, you're also in luck.  If you choose to make up your own story with the pictures, let me know; I'd be very interested in what you come up with.

Pasaria bien.

Friday, July 15, 2016


Does it get any better than Darlene Love?


Crime Stories from The Strand, edited by Geraldine Beare (1971)

The Strand Magazine was founded in 1891 by publisher George Newnes and at one time was the most popular periodical in England.  It published general fiction and articles of general interest.  It is probably best known today for publishing the original Sherlock Holmes stories.  Along with historical, adventure, and romance fiction, the magazine published a good deal of crime and detective stories, many written by leading authors in the field of that day.  The magazine ceased publishing in 1950, although it was revived in 1998 and continues as a mystery magazine.

Ms. Beare has assembled twenty stories dating from 1892 to 1942 featuring many of the most popular mystery authors of that period, as well as a couple of authors not generally known for crime fiction.  Some of the authors may not be familiar with today's readers but almost all hold an important place in the history of the detective story.

  • Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous creation was Sherlock Holmes, and two stories in the canon are presented here:  "A Scandal in Bohemia," the first Holmes short story (1891) and "The Adventure of the Dying Detective" (1913).
  • "Dick Donovan" was a pen name for Joyce Emmerson Preston Muddock, a reporter and author of many popular sensational novels.  "The Jewelled Skull" (1892) concerns the titular item and a cult of drug users.
  • Grant Allen was popular writer who also wrote books about social and general science.  His novel The Woman Who Did, about a woman who rejected the concept of marriage, was extremely controversial for the Victorian era.  Here he is represented by a tale of "The Great Ruby Robbery" (1892).
  • L. T. Meade and Robert Eustace collaborated on a number of mystery stories, with Eustace, a medical doctor, providing the scientific background to the mysteries.  Meade was also a prolific author of girl's stories.  Here they combine their talents in "The Death Chair" (1899)
  • E. C. Bentley, author of the classic novel Trent's Last Case and inventor of the poetic form known as the clerihew, gives us a Philip Trent story, "The Clever Cockatoo" (1914).
  • "Sapper" was the pseudonym of H. C. McNeile, the creator of Bulldog Drummond. In "A Point of Detail" (1917), a knowledge of regimental tailoring is critical in unveiling a spy in this dark tale set in as World War I battlefield.
  • Edgar Wallace at one time was the author of 25% of the books sold in England.  "The Man with the Canine Teeth" (1921) features The Four Just Men.
  • Edgar Jepson was an author of detective, adventure, and fantasy fiction, as well as the translator of Maurice LeBlanc' Arsene Lupin stories.  "The Tea-Leaf" (1925), co-authored with Robert Eustace, is about an impossible murder with an impossible murder weapon.
  • Roland Pertwee was better known as a radio and screen writer.  His "The Voice That Said 'Good-Night"" (1927) employs his expertise in radio to solve the murder.
  • Rudyard Kipling was not known for detective fiction; in fact, "'Fairy Kist"' (1928) may have been his only detective story.
  • Agatha's Christie's "Poirot and the Triangle of Rhodes" (1936) features a certain Belgian detective and his little grey cells.  I'll let you guess who that might be.
  • "The Vampire of the Village" (1936) is one of over fifty Father Brown adventures chronicled by G. K. Chesterton..
  • Quentin Reynolds was an American journalist and war correspondent who seldomed ventured into fiction.  "The Man Who Dreamed Too Much" (1936) takes place in pre-war Germany.  Four distinguished guests are invited to dinner and one of them is a murderer.
  • Margery Allingham presents a story about the always delightful Albert Campion, "The Old Man in the Window" (1936).
  • Speaking of always delightful, Lord Peter Wimsey pops up in Dorothy L. Sayers' "The Haunted Policeman" (1938).
  • One of John Dickson Carr's lesser-known detectives, Colonel March takes center stage in "The Silver Curtain" (1939) by 'Carter Dickson."
  • A young boy disappears at the sea side.  One year later, another young boy disappears.  It's up to Reggie Fortune to provide an explanation in H. C. Bailey's "Primrose Petals" (1940).
  • A. E. W. Mason, the jingoistic author of The Four Feathers as well as the stories of
    Inspector Hanaud of the Surete, features Hanaud in "The Ginger King" (1940).
  • To cap off this collection, Agatha Christie returns with a second story, this time featuring Miss Marple -- "The Case of the Retired Jeweller" (1946).
In addition, there's a knowledgeable introduction by mystery author and critic H. F. R. Keating, whose taste is not diminished because it differs at time from mine.

There's more than enough here to please any lover of the classic mystery story.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Contrary to my usual statements, my late mother-in-law was not born 600 years ago, was never the target of a Puritan witch hunt, and did not have a large wart on her nose.  Instead, she was a pretty nice person who had a lot of trauma in her life.  Orphaned at nine, she was raised by a loving uncle and aunt in a rather financially unstable home during the Depression.  He first fiance was killed in World War II, and somewhere along the line a vibrant young woman became a sociophobe.

Despite all that, she had a kind heart behind her rough exterior and her true personality emerged more and more during her later life.  She had three sons and a daughter and I am partial to her if only for the daughter.  Anyone who could bring someone like Kitty into the world must be pretty good in my book.

To Eileen, I was always "that damned South Chelmsford farmer that Kitty married," although in late life she would admit that I was a pretty good guy.  She lived with us for the last three years of her life and we tried to keep her as independent and as comfortable as possible.  It was heart-warming to see her interact with her young great-grandchildren.  More people than she could have realized were saddened by her passing.

One time, she decided to treat Kitty and me to a Chinese restaurant.  She had found a coupon in the local paper and really wanted to use it.  Unfortunately, the restaurant she took us to was not the same restaurant that issued the coupon.  In fact, the item on the coupon was not even offered by this restaurant.  That really didn't matter to Eileen, who felt that a coupon was a coupon.  As Kitty and I slunk down into our seats, she confused the waiter enough so that the dish she wanted was prepared and given to her at the coupon price.  Thus, in honor of Eileen, every Bastille Day -- her birthday -- the family goes out for Chinese food, although we do not try to use a random coupon.

How do you celebrate the birthdays of departed loved one?

UPDATE:  So we decided to get the Chinese food to go.  Since we're new to the area, we were not sure where to get decent Chinese food.  Somebody suggested one place, but checking online, we found it was mainly Thai and Japanese food.  Then someone else said that there was a decent place by the Wal-Mart parking lot.  Great.  What's the name?  I don't know.  Then someone said, I think the place by Wal-Mart is called Shang Hai.  I looked it up online and the menu seemed pretty decent.  Christina said she would pick up the food when she picked Mark up from the high school if we would call the order in.  So I called in the order.  Turns out there are two Wal-Marts in town, about fifteen miles apart -- each with a Chinese food restaurant by the Wal-Mart parking lot.  So Christina picks up Mark at the high school and travels the fifteen miles to the Wal-Mart nearest us and the lady at the Chinese restaurant there tells her that no one called in an order but she'd be glad to make one up for her PDQ.  In the meantime, the lady from the other Chinese restaurant has telephoned me three times wondering when somebody was going to pick up the food.  It urns out that the Shang Hai restaurant is by the Wal-Mart across from the high school where Christina had picked up Mark.  So Christina had to reverse herself and drive the fifteen miles back to where she had picked up Mark.  When she got there, there was one customer ahead of her, dithering about how he wanted his order and taking up about four of the longest minutes Christina had endured.  All ended up well, but we ate over an hour later than we had planned.  It did seem like a fitting tribute to Eileen that we ordered from one restaurant and went to another to pick up the food.

After she got here, I did ask Christina if she tried to use a Domino's coupon at the register.  She just glared at me.


Skeeter Davis.


Today's old-time radio program is from the CBS Radio series Suspense.

The good news: You've just won the sweepstakes!  The bad news:  The winning ticket is buried with your husband.  What will Agnes Moorehead do?

This episode first aired 70 years ago, on April 4, 1946.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Ever wonder where Ethel Waters got those peepers?


Well sure, Superman can hardly be overlooked now, can he?  I mean, he's all about the flying around,wearing a red cape, bending steel, and wearing his underwear on the outside.  You just can't overlook something like that!

Nevertheless, he's the subject of today's Overlooked post.  Live with it.

Here's a Max Fleischer cartoon from 1942.


Monday, July 11, 2016


The Sons of the Pioneers with Bob Nolan taking the lead.


  • Peter Lovesey, Cop to Corpse.  A Peter Diamond mystery.  Three cops have been shot dead in less than twelve weeks and "the hot-headed commander of the Serial Crimes Unit and his politically connected second-in-command bungle the case at every turn."  Lovesey has written so many great books but his Peter Diamond series shows him at the top of his form.

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Blind Lemon Jefferson.


Hank Williams -- The Old Country Church.

Saturday, July 9, 2016


Here's a 132-page one-shot (of sorts) from Ziff-Davis -- mainly because #2 never materialized.  Actually it's a collection of four comic books rebound with a new cover:  He-Man #1 (Fall 1952), The Hawk #3 (November-December 1952), Football Thrills #2 (Fall 1952), and Crusader from Mars #2 (Fall 1952).  Something for almost everyone.

The Ziff-Davis comics line began and ended in the early Fifties, although one title, G.I. Joe, ran until 1957.  Most of the Z-D comics however, including the four combined here, lasted from one to three issues.  During this same period, the Z-D pulp science fiction magazines were going through major changes; Amazing Science Fiction was shifting away from the Ray Palmer action-adventure and Fantastic Adventures was being closed to create the more mature Fantastic.  (The Z-D pulps soon sank back into mediocrity only to rise some years later under the sure hand of Cele G. Lalli.)  The covers of the Z-D comics were rendered in the same style as their pulp magazine brethren.

Enjoy this "four-fer."

Friday, July 8, 2016


The Great Legend by Rex Stout (1916; 1997)

This week is Rex Stout Week for your Friday's Forgotten Book crew.  Stout is best known for his stories about the one-seventh of a ton sleuth Nero Wolfe.  But Wolfe is just one part of his oeuvre.  In the mystery field alone, Stout also wrote books about Dol Bonner, A.B.C. Hicks, and Tecumseh Fox -- even Wolfe's frequent foil, Inspector Cramer, was featured in a novel of his own.  Stout is also credited with a cookbook, two mystery anthologies, a lost race fantasy, a political thriller, several romances. a Graustarkian novel of intrigue, assorted thrillers, and -- my favorite -- The Illustrious Dunderheads, a 1942 scathing litany of sitting isolationist and pro-Nazi members of the sitting House of Representatives.

And then there's The Great Legend, the story of the Trojan War from the viewpoint of one (dare I say it?) feckless, albeit well-placed, Trojan.  It first saw light as a five-part serial in All-Story Magazine from January 1 through January 29, 1916.  It took over 80 years for the tale to make it to book format when issued by Carroll & Graf in 1997.

It's now the ninth year of the Siege of Troy.  It's been sort of a lackluster siege.  Sure, there have been fights and sallies and people have been killed on both sides, but there have been no major battles, no epic fights to be recorded in song and legend.  Perhaps a good reason for this is that Achilles, Greece's greatest hero, has been sulking in his tent and refusing to fight.

The story is told by Idaeus, the twenty-two year old son of Dares, the priest of Muciber.  Idaeus is a flawed character, certainly not a hero in the Greek (or Trojan) sense, but a somewhat rash youth who has a higher opinion of himself than is merited.  When the only brother of Idaeus is killed on the battlefield, Dares uses his influence to have Idaeus appointed as keston (sort of a cross between chief of staff and aide de camp) to King Priam.  Idaeus soon finds himself in a confusing relationship with three women:  the Argive Helen (a coquettish troublemaker), Hecamed (a slave. born a princess, captured by Achilles and then stolen by Idaeus), and Gortyna (a low-born slave serving Helen).  Idaeus' total misunderstanding of each of these women move the plot forward and insure Troy's doom.

Idaeus also seems handicapped because he is an atheist.  Practically everyone else in the saga believe in (or at least give lip service to) the gods.  His individuality feeds into his sense of pride and his sense of pride leads to several grave missteps.

None of the players in this novel come across nobly.  King Priam is a befuddled old man whose best days are well behind him.  Aeneas is a passe blowhard given to long speeches.  Paris is an egotistic popingjay who is one of the weakest of Priam's fifty sons.  Anchises is old and ugly, certainly not the type Venus would choose to give her a son like Aeneas.  On the Greek side, Menelaus is weak and boring.  Ulysses is untrustworthy and has little honor.  Ajax is a bully.  Nestor does not keep his word.  Agamemnon, mostly offstage, is imperious.  Of the two heroes, Achilles is a pouty and Hector is tragically overconfident.  Idaeus himself seems to have perfected the art of retreat (though able to come up with acceptable excuses) and fights only when absolutely necessary to save his neck.  Of the whole kit and kaboodle, only Cassandra -- doomed never to be believed -- comes across as sympathetic.

All the above is part of the joy of the novel.  There's action aplenty,as might be expected from an All-Story serial, and the entire story of the Trojan War is viewed from a fresh, entertaining, and pulpish angle.

If you want to try something different from early in Stout's career, this book may suit the bill.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Conway Twitty.


To prepare you for this Friday's Forgotten Books tribute to Rex Stout, here's Sidney Greenstreet as Nero Wolfe.


From April 27, 1951:

Sunday, July 3, 2016


A little slice of history.

Saturday, July 2, 2016


A railroad song from Utah Phillips.


From the mid-Forties Archie Comics concentrated on the teen-age humor that the company's title implied.  One exception was the short-lived, seven issue series Sam Hill Private Eye,which was published under the imprint of Close Up Comvics

Sam Hill came to the hard-boiled comic book world late in the game -- the first bi-monthly, undated issue appeared in February 1950.  Sam Hill is a former Ivy halfback with a white streak through his black hair.  He has a beautiful secretary named Roxy, a blue suit, and a red bow tie.  Fvor a tough private eye in the Fifties, what more do you need?

The art was by Harry Lucey, a talented artist perhaps only second to the great Bob Montana in the Archie Comics line-up.  It's not known who wrote the scripts.

tough action, a few wisecracks, and a lot of good girl art...all things that make me happy.


Friday, July 1, 2016


It may vbe tvimvev vvto think about vgvvvvvevvvtting a new computervv.  The v key has decided to go wonko.  The letter inserts itself at random times, as can be seen in the first sentence of this post.  At times the computer flat out refuses to do uppercase letters.  Shift left, shift up, shift down, and page down have stopped working altogether.vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvEvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvverytime I write a line I hae vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv/vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv
to spend three minutes of ore to correct things.

I am not happy.

I'll continue to soldier through until I figure out what I will ultimately do.  til then, my apologies for the the quality of my posts.


The Big Bopper.


Mistrust; or Blanche and Osbright by M. G. Lewis (1808)

Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775-1818) is best known for his classic gothic novel The Monk.  He had hoped to be a dramatist but his early efforts were rejected, although later works were staged.  His translated/adapted works from the Continent were popular, although they led to charges of a lack of originality; some critics felt this lack extended to The Monk, which used many elements of previously published tales.  Nonetheless, The Monk and many of the stories contained in his four volume 1808 collection Romantic Tales are effective tales of gothic horror.

I tend to divide the stories of this era into two categories:  Unhappy (everyone dies) and Happy (the heroine and her lover live.  "Mistrust" is not a Happy story.

It's tricky to classify "Mistrust."  Is it a short story (as many have called it)?  A novella?  A novel?  In the original edition of Romantic Tales it took up 251 pages, but the type was kind of large, the pages small, and the use of white space creative.  I think I'll just call it a novella.

Our hero Osbright, the heir to Frankheim, has just returned from the war.  Osbright leaves his scarf to let Blanche know he has finally returned.  Osbright has loved her since the time he had saved her life some time before.  She, in turn, has fallen in love with he unknown rescuer.  Unknown?  Yes, for Osbright had rescued her while armored and the visor of his helmet covered his face.  Frankheim and Orrenburg (Blanche's family) have been enemies for years.  Osbright plans to reveal his identity to Blanche in the hopes that their union will put a stop to the feud between the families.

Having left his scarf, Osbright hurries to Frankheim and finds the estate in deep morning.  Sneaking into the chapel he discovers that his beloved younger brother Joscelyn has been killed, A servant of Orrenberg discovered over the bloody body.  Tortured on the rack, the servant finally says the name of Gustavus of Orrenberg, Blanche's father, before dying.  Osbright's father swears vengeance on Gustavus, his family, his servants, and Orrenberg itself.  Osbright hides himself in the chapel, vowing not reveal himself until he discovers the true cause of his brother's death.

Several months earlier, Blanche's brother, and Gustavus' only surviving son, had died mysteriously.  A rumor circulated throughout Orrenberg at the boy had been poisoned by Rudiger, the Lord of Frankheim -- despite fervent denials by Gustavus himself.  Thus, we now have two powerful estates in which each feels the other caused the death of a child.

Rumor, suspicion, innuendo...all the bases of mistrust.  The theme gets more intense as misdirected good intentions cause the mutilation of Rudiger's illegitimate son, and the dismemberment of one of Rudifer's emissaries, and the equally disgusting dismemberment of Gustavus' emissary.  Things continue to snowball until we are left with the destruction of both houses and the Unhappy ending where everybody dies.

Lewis pulls no stops in this tragic romance.  His plotting is superb, with twists and turns truly labyrinthian.  His sense of the Gothic is opposed to the sensibilities of Ann Radcliffe and to the rationalism of Mary Shelley.  Many readers familiar with only The Monk would do well to check out some of his other work.