Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


The Dixie Cups.


Milt Caniff's popular adventure comic strip Terry and the Pirates was the basis of a syndicated television series which lasted for eighteen episodes from June 26 to November 21, 1953.   The comic strip began in 1934 and garnered Caniff the first Cartoonist of the Year Award from the National Cartoonist Society in 1946.  The strip reached 31 million readers from 1934 to 1946.  In 1937 Terry and the Pirates started on the airwaves on the NBC Red Network and soon moved to the NBC Blue Network until 1939.  After an absence of two years, the show returned weekdays on Chicago Tribune's WGN radio shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor; the weekday broadcasts moved back to the Blue Network in 1943 and continued for another five years before closing shop on June 30, 1948.  In 1940 Terry and company were featured in an unimpressive fifteen-part movie serial.

USAAF Colonel Terry Lee goe to the Far East to locate a gold mine left to him by his grandfather.  He soon finds work as a pilot for a commercial and passenger airline owned by the slightly shady Chopstick Joe; his friend and co-pilot is Hotshot Charlie (whose real name is Charles C. Charles -- I assume his parents had little imagination).  And of course there's Burma, the beautiful blonde romantic interest, and a mysterious nemesis known as The Dragon Lady.

Playing the title role was bopyishly handsome John Baer, who never again had a starring role.  Baer kept busy with films and television during the Fifties and Sixties, retiring in the Seventies for a career in real  estate.  Jack Reitzen (Appointment with Murder, Mask of the Dragon, Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl) spent most of his career appearing in television shows through the early Sixties.  Hotshot Charlie was played by William Tracy (Angels with Dirty Faces, Brother Rat, Tobacco Road) ws a youthful actor actually played Terry Lee in the big screen serial of Terry and the Pirates twelve years before playing Terry's friend on television.  The role of the lovely romantic interest Burma was played by Sandra Spence, who -- with one exception -- had uncredited roles in film.  Spence did land a regular role in television's Whirlybirds in 1957.  She died from cancer sixteen years later at the young age of 48.  The mysterious and seductive Dragon Lady was played by Gloria Saunders, who also appeared in numerous television shows in the Fifties.  Saunders was disfugured in a car accident in 1945 but a series of plastc surgery operations eliminated all signs of facial scarring, allowing her to continue her actng career.  She was married for three years to Tommy Thompson who would go on to produce The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy!, Designing Women and other well known televicion shows.
Among those appearing in episodes of Terry and the Pirates were Key Luke, Victor Sen Yung, Phyllis Coates, Michael Ansara, Lyle Talbot, Tristam Coffin, and a definitely not Rolling Stone Keith Richards. 

Here's an episode titled "Macao Gold."  Enjoy. 

Monday, August 29, 2016


Ray Stevens.


  • T. T. Flynn, Last Waltz on Wild Horses.  Wesern collection with four stories from 1934 to 1953.  From the pages of Dime Western, Western Story and Zane Grey's Western come the gold old stuff.
  • Robert J. Randisi, Double the Bounty.  Western.  "Brian Foxx was a legend.  According to numerous eye witness, he'd held up a bank in Wyoming and one in Arizona -- on the exect same day at the exact same time.  Decker has no idea how Foxx pulled it off, but he's got a legend of his own to maintain:  no matter how wily the opponent or impossible the crime, Decker always gets his man."  

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Why is August 28 such a great day?  Because so many great and wonderful people were born on this day...writers Goerthe and Tolstoy...and Jack Vance (born a hundred years ago today)...Elizabeth Seton, one-time nun and present-day saint...actors as diverse as Chalres Boyer and Jack Black...championship skater Scott Hamilton...singers Shania Twain and Leann Rimes...comics legend Jack Kirby, who gave us the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Thor, and hundreds of other characters...

But outshining them all is Catherine Delaney Dowd -- known as Ceili (pronouced KAY-lee) -- who happens to be my oldest granchild and the light of my life.  May this day and every day forward bring her the happiness and laughter she brings to us.

Happy birthday, lovely girl!


  • Sarcastic fringeheads are found of the Pacific coast of North America.  Watch two of these bad guys go at it in battle.

  • Once scientist thought that there a planet between Mercury and the sun.  Read how Einstein destroyed the myth of the planet Vulcan.

  • The time the U.S. went to war and killed a pig.

  • William Dampier, the scientist-pirate.

  • Lost continents.  No, not Atlantis, Mu, or Lemuria.

  • What goes up must come down:  a brief history of the codpiece


  • The fifty weirdest foods from around the world.  Spam is number 7.


Shirley Caesar.

Saturday, August 27, 2016


The Four Tops.


This weeks comic book tells of the wild Yukon and the brave men who plice it, a wild land where the native Americans speak Tonto-English, the glass often shows temperatures of forty degrees below zero, the women are pneumetically enhanced with large, perfect breasts (and with great gams showing a lot of thigh), and the Mounties always get their man -- usually dead because that saves on hanging.

In "Hunt the Human Wolverine," Albert Johnson has been stealing pelts from native traps, but when the Mounties go to bring him in, he proves far more elusive -- and deadly -- than they had anticipated.

"Paydirt Pierce," appears to be an old prospector down on his luck.  Because the comic book needs a lot of Good Girl Art, he saves the voluptuous daughter of a miner from a vicious panther.  She's on the way to the assayer's office to stake a claim for her father.  Strangely, every claim submitted to the assayer seems to have already been staked by one of the assayer's cronys.  But the bad guys don't count on Paydirt Pierce, who

*******************************SPOILER ALERT!********************************

is really a Mountie who has gone undercover to stop this nefarious businees.

*****************************END SPOILER ALERT******************************

Then, in "Goldrush Junction,"  we met a trio of muderous meanies -- two ugly guys and a zaftig beauty -- who blithely kill their way to a hermit's cabin, intent on taking their gold.  Of the trio, the woman proves to be the most deadly.  Did you know that bears could stand upright on the top of a hill and hurl boulders onto the people below?  I didn't.  Anyway this story has no Mounties, but the hermit who is dressed like a sterotypical hillbilly and the bear make up for that lack.

Finally, we meet "Rose of the Yukon," "a bold-hearted lass alone except for a young sister against the terrors of the Northland!  And the worst of these were the human coyotes -- the despised pelt poachers!"  Rose and her sister are both well-devloped ladies.  The evil Batiste has been raiding her traps and trying to run her off her land.  All of a sudden, SHOUTS! (yeah, in this comic book whenever someone is in trouble and cries for help, The main character startles, says, 'SHOUTS!" and comes to the recue.  In this case, it's a handsome young man being attacked by a pack of wolverines.  Rose sums up the situation:  "TARNATION!  That young bucko shore drew hisself a mess o bad cards!"  Again, no Mounties...Just Rose with her flashing legs and instincts.

Tough people, a bitter environment, brave heroes, very bad people (usually killed in the end), and more good-looking girls than any place has a right to...


Friday, August 26, 2016


From the year my mother was boprn, here's Sophie Tucker.


The Day He Died by "Lewis Padgett" (Henry Kuttner and C. l. Moore) (1947)

The Kuttners' second mystery novel avoids the humor of the previous The Brass Ring (aka Murder in Brass) and carries a much darker tone, reading like a more psychological Cornell Woolrich thriller.
Caroline Hale writes mystery stories for the pulp magazines.  He uncle and only living relative is Jonas Bruno, an exporer who writes best-selling accounts of his exotic travels.  Three years after the end of her eigth-month marriage to the violent Ray Kerry, Caroline thought she was getting her life back, but a number of unexplained things in her life begin to shake her confidence.

She's been getting tired and groggy.  Things go missing our suddenly appear in apartment, her dreams have become vivid and disturbing and she wonders if they are really dreams, she begins to see things...hallucinations.  Worse, a story she submitted was found to have a dialogue lifted directly from Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importance after its publication.  Five time since then she has found passages in her manuscripts that have been copied from well-known works.  Caroline has no memory of plagerizing these works but no one but her could have written them;  her apartment was securely locked and chained, she put thread across her doorways and poured flour on the floor of her apartment in hopes in an atttempt to discover who ws doing this.  The results proved that no one else could have done it, that she herself was acting unconsiously.

At the same, her former husband showed up, wanting to come back to her,  Ray had been living for the past few years with a medium who, at times, did not have to fake her spiritual connections.  Now Ray, who never had any money, appears flush.  Caroline fears that Ray is stalking her, but now nobody knows where Ray is and a lot of people want to find him -- people who think Caroline can lead them to her ex-husband.

With Caroline's world spinning out of control, she is present when someone slashes the throat of a washed-up reporter.  A body is found buried in her uncle's cellar.  $40,000 in drug money is missing and a crime syndicate wanrs it back.  Connecting all three events is Caroline, who fears she is being watched and in danger.  The stress leaves her in and out of a fugue state.

The reader feels (and hopes) that Caroline is being gaslighted, but there is this doubt that she is not, that her delicate mental balance is tipping the scales toward madness.  The authors have weaved a suspenseful thriller with strong psychological overtones.

A good read. Recommended.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Broonzy was an major force in the development of blues music in the 20th century, transitioning easliy from country blues to urban blues while also adapting many traditional folk songs.  Born in 1893 in either Alabama or Mississippi -- accounts vary -- and was one of seventeen children.  He learned music on homemade instruments, a cigar box fiddle and a homemade guitar, and played at social and church functions.  Broonzy worked as a sharecropper and a preacher until he found himself in the Army in 1917.  A year after his army discharge, he moved to Chicago where he improved his guitar playing under the tutelage of minstel show performer Papa Charlie Jackson, who would eventually pave the wat for Broonzy to get a record with Paramount Records.  Broonzy's first recordings did not sell well but eventually he began to make a name for himself.  He performed in New York City, worked regularly in Chicago clubs, and toured with Memphis Minnie.

By 1934, Broonzy had added a R&B sound to his songs.  Four years later he filled in for the late Robert Johnson in a concert at Carnegie Hall.  His career as a songwriter -- he had over 300 songs copyrighted -- was taking off.  His repetoire expanded into different genres, appealing to a sophisticated urban market as well to his country roots.  He toured with a folk music revue, I Come for To Sing, in 1949, after which he took a couple of years off for health reasons.

He returned to touring in 1951, in Europe this time.  Returning back to America, he become a featured act with a number of well-known folk performers.  His tour of England in the Fifties was a great sucess and helped clarify the British view of folk music.  Many later British performers, includng, Johnlennon, cited Broonzy as a major influence.

Broonzy was inducted in the first class of the Bllues Hall of Fame and in the first class of the Gennett Records Walk of Fame.  He was an influence on many artists, including Muddy Waters, Memphis slim, Ray Davies, Ronnie Wood, and Eric Clapton.

Broonzy died in 1958 of throat cancer.

'Trouble in Mind"

"Key to the Highway"

"Hey, Hey"

"Long Tall Mama"

"The Glory of Love"

"Low Light & Blue Smoke""In the Evening (When the Sun Goes Down"

"Black, Bown and White"

"Sixteen Tons"

"Summertime Blues"

"When I Been Drinkin'"

"All By Myself"

"Kansas City Blues"

"How You Want It Done?"

"I Feel So Good"


Gene Vincent and The Blue Caps.


George Harmon Coxe's Jack "Flashgun" Casey, Crime Photographer, takes a "Photo of the Dead".  (Go figure, he did that every episode; this time he's exposing a swami.)  Staats Cotsworth  and Jan Miner (as newspaper reporter Ann Williams) star in this episode from July 17, 1947.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Tina Turner.


L. Frank Baum produced this film based on one of his classic Oz novels under the guise of The Oz Film Manufacturing Co.  J. Farrell MacDonald directed.

In their modest home, there is no food (the bread trees in the back yard had no yield) and Munchkin Ojo (Violet MacMillan) insists the he and hs guardian Unc Nunkie (Frank Moore) go to the Emerald City because nobody starves there.  Meanwhile, the crooked magician Dr. Pipt (Raymond Russell) is working on the Elixir of Life -- a task that has occupied his for six years.  Pipt's wife (Leontine Dranet) is tired of doing housework and decides to use the elixir to make a servant girl.  She heads to the attic and gathers old cloth and rags to make her servant -- the Patchwork Girl.

On their journey, Oj and Unc Nunkie stop at Dr. Pipt's house where Pipt's wife is about to animate the Patchwork girl, who has very little in the way of brains because the less brains a servant girl has, the better.  But mischievious Ojo sneaks into a Magic Brain cabinet that holds the various things that make up a brain (Judgement, Intelligence, Ingenuity, Cleverness, etc. -- but with very little Obediance).  Ojo, that scamp. infuses the Patchwork Girl with brains.

And then...well, things get complicated.

The Patchwork Girl of Oz is a surprisingly clever and witty film.


Monday, August 22, 2016


Some craziness from Spike Jones.


It's a western week.  Someone donated a of the lot of Max Brand paperbacks to a local thrift store. How could I resist?

  • "Max Brand" (Fredrick Faust), The Bandit of Black Hills, Brothers on the Trail, Dan Barry's Daughter, Destry Rides Again,  The False RiderThe Fastest Draw, Fightin' Fool, Fire Brain, The Galloping Broncos, Galloping Danger, Ghost Rider, Gunfighter's Return, Gunman's Legacy, The Happy Valley, Hired Guns, The Iron Trail, The Jackson Trail, The King Bird Rides, Lawless Land, The Man from Mustang, Montana Rides Again, Mystery Ranch, Outlaw Valley, Pillar Mountain, Pleasant Jim, Rawhide Justice, The Revenge of Broken Arrow, Riders of the Silences, Rippon Rides Double, The Seven of Diamonds, Showdown, Silvertip's Search, Silvertip's Trap, The Smiling Desperado, South of the Rio Grande, Tenderfoot, Thunder Moon, Thunder Moon Strikes, Timbal Gulch Trail, Trailin', Trouble Kid, and War Party.  Why is it when I'm trying to cull down my books they throw these at me?
  • Blake Crouch, Pines and Wayward.  Horror.  The first two books in the Wayward Pines series, which has been made into a television series.  Crouch has written some good thrillers so I thought I'd give these a try.
  • "Maxwell Grant" (Walter B. Gibson), The Shadow #22:  The Silent Death.  Pulp thriller.  This time the Shadow faces off with a mad scientist and his plague of invisible death.  The #22 is the listing in this Jove/HBJ paperback.  The original pulp novel was published in April 1933.
  • Alan Le May, The Unforgiven.  The classic western.

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Very funny.  Very true.  Language.


The Dixie Hummingbirds.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Sandra Dee.


Publisher Ned Pines put out 59 issues of Real Life Comics under his Standard Comics label from 1941 to 1951.   One has to wonder about the tagline on the cover (TRUE ADVENTURES OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST HEROES!) because by issue #58, they appear to be scraping the bottom of the barrel.  The cover story (signed by John Severin and Will Elder) is about the "Robber Baron of Arizona" Jim Reavis, an army deserter, con man, forger, and murderer.  The issue then took a turn for the heroic with a Korean War story about the rescue of Ensign Ray Sanders whose plane was shot down over enemy territory.

We then learn about Raveneau de Lussan, a "gentleman pirate" and terror of the Spanish Main.  A pious, courteous, and brave man, de Lussan was railroaded into becomng a privateer for France and soon won a reputation for "correct conduct" as he avoided needless bloodshed and graciousness to his enemies, eventually retiring in France and writing of his adventures.

"The Story of Iron and Steel, Giants of Metal" traces the history of metals from the Stone Age on until (on the fifth of six pages) we light upon the supposed focus of the story, Henry Bessemer, who steps off stage for the final page.

All pretense of real life heroes goes out the window with the final story, "Bonus Rookie."  Chet Dugan is a "star pitcher from a small high school somewhere in the USA..."  Chet signs with a major league team without going through the minors and has to learn how to perform at a higher lever.

An eclectic mix in this issue.  You'll have to decide for yourself how true these "Real Life" adventures are.


Friday, August 19, 2016


Steve Herman.


The Brass Ring (aka Murder in Brass) by "Lewis Padgett" (Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore) (1946)

Although Seth Colman owns a successful detective agancy he hates being a detective because he gets too emotionally involved in his cases.  He now lets others run his agency while he sits back, does no work, and reaps the profits.  His beautiful wife Eve, however, loves the idea of Seth being a detective.  She finds it exciting and she loves to involve herelf in his cases, which is why she railroads Seth into taking a case involving a missing mental,patient.

Bruce Farr has been in a catatonic state for five years.  Presumably, his condition stemmed from finding his father's body after he committed suicide.  He was being cared for at his mother's large house.when he somehow knocked his nurse out and ran away.  His mother, for some reason, fears that Bruce is homicidal and hires Seth to find him.  Soon the local doctor is found murdered.  Then a retired actor, who happens to have a passing resemblance to the father of Bruce's ex-fiance, is murdered at night outside the ex-fiance's home. Numerous searches throughout the small town fil to find the missing man.  Seth also discovers that the small town is also hiding a blackmailer -- one who is blackmailing Seth's own wife.

There's a lot about this case that doesn't add up.  Why did Angela Farr fear her son was homicidal?  How did Bruce break out of his catonic state?  How could a madman think reasonably enough to leave no fingerprints at the murder scenes?  Did Bruce's father really commit suicide?  How does everything tie in with the death of a spinster several weeks before?  Why does the sight of anything brass upset Bruce so much?  Who is the blackmailer. does he or she have anything to do with the murders and the missing man, and what hold does the blackmailer have on Eve Colman?

Aiding Seth is Art Bedarian, a man who was let go from Seth's agency because of his unreliability, his drinking problem, and his obsession with women.  Bedarian also claims to possess a form of ESP, which often allows him to hone in on murders.  While this sixth sense, if it exists, has solved a lot of cases, it has failed enough times to put its existence in doubt.

The Brass Ring is clearly embedded in the world of seventy years ago and some references may escape today's reader.  Kuttner and Moore's first description of Anglea Farr as "a woman who belonged in a Peter Arno cartoon" struck me as completely spot on and clearly defined the character; I'm not sure how someone unfamiliar with Arno would read it.

The Brass Ring moves smoothly through complicated twists and turns as Seth struggles to put the puzzle pieces together.  The book straddles a fine line between the hard-boiled private eye story and the screwball mystery.  The comic moments, although overused, work well.  The dark, tough prose displays a depth of character.  The combination results in an enjoyable, although not outstanding book.

Although best known for their work in the science fiction and fantasy genres (both alone and in collaboration), Kuttner and Moore produced seven mystery novels, of which this is the first.  As far as I can tell, The Brass Ring had one hardcover edition (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1946) and one paperback edition (as Murder in Brass, Bantam #107, 1947).  The book cries out to be reprinted.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Dee Clark.


From February 15, 1956. here's an adaptation of Robert Sheckley's great short story "Skulking Permit."


Monday, August 15, 2016


A number of years ago -- it seems almost like yesterday, but it was back in the time when airplane hijackings were becoming all too common -- Kitty was offered a job as a federal air marshal.  Kitty decline the job because on the same day she discovered she was pregnant.  We were overjoyed and scared stiff.  We had only been married for two years and we wondered if we were actually ready for a child.  I mean, my God, children are for grown-ups, right?

This was back in the days when natural childbirth was not the norm.  We were one of the first couples to have natural childbirth in our area.  Kitty's doctor was all for it, but the maternity ward nurses did their best to dissuade us.  (Kitty threatened to kill me if I listened to the nurses and camp out in the waiting room.)  I stayed; Kitty did all sorts of breathing and before we know it Jessamyn Celia House introduced herself to the world.  She was the most beautiful baby in the world (argue with me if you want -- it won't do any good) and she grew into a beautiful girl and into a beautiful woman.  During her first 24 hours she developed jaundice and was placed under a new-fangled invention called bilirubin lights, which the hospital had recently acquired.  That's when we discovered she also was the type of child who had to be heard.  She didn't like the lights and she bucked and arched and wailed at the very top of her dulcet tones.  A couple of days later we took her home, one of the best things that ever happened to us.

She had beautiful long, blonde curls.  Until she was about three. when a playmate found a pair of scissors and cut off half her hair (the right half, if I remember correctly).  The girl's mother apologized profusely before he let us see Jessie -- "Now, don't be mad.  Please, don't be mad!  They"...meaning her daughter..."didn't mean to do this!  Please don't be mad!"  And that was the worst thing that happened to Jessie for a couple of more years.

When she was five, there was a cyst on her head that seemed to be changing.  Kitty could get no support from the pediatricians, so she phonied a reference and brought Jessie to a surgeon.  The surgeon was all "now, now, let's not jump to conclusions" but he called in a diagnostician from Boston.  It was a very rare form of cancer that had not metastacized, normally discovered when a child reached puberty and then almost only fatal.  The spot that they biopsied did not heal and for five weeks, the doctors tried to cauterize it until they decided not wait any longer and excised it.  The night before the operation, the nurses at the pediatrics unit told us they expected to see a very sickly child, especially since they could not find the type of cancer she had in any of their medical books.  They did not expect a very active five-year-old who was soon doing wheelies in her wheelchair -- something her grandfather taught her.  After the surgery, the surgeon was very proud of himself.  ("I had to really hit the books last night for this one, you know!)  The cancer (actually a pre-cancer) was completely excised.

We had thought that would be our only major medical emergency for a while, but we didn't count on Jessie.  One evening, while cooking dinner, Kitty told her, "Don't touch!  Hot!"  Of she touched.  she turn a whole pot of hot turkey grease on her.  Kitty has always been good in emergencies.  She stripped Jessie down and, using the hose at the kitchen sink, sprayed her down while I filled the tub with cold water.  We wrapped a towel around Jessie and rushed her to the emergency room.  Jessie was shivering.  Of course she was was the water in the tub was cold. it was a cold night, and the poor kid had only a towel around her.  We were told the damage could have been extensive except for the actions Kitty took.  Jessie was told (by the nurses), "The next time Mommy says don't touch, don't touch!"  She ended up with a tiny scar on her leg that only she or Kitty would be able to find.

Our pediatrician began to say the Jessie's middle name was "Takeitout," because every mole had to be excised -- just in case.   When she was twelve, it appeared that the cancer had returned, but after another operation the surgeon was relieved when he told us it was merely scar tissue pushing through.  On her last day of junior high school we got a panicked call from her school, saying she had been stabbed.  It turned out a boy was fooling around with a compass (you know, those pointy things used to make circles), swinging it around near some girls, and stabbed Jessie on the skin fold between her thumb and index finger.  Didn't even need stitches.  Then when she was fifteen and trying out for some sport, she pulled a muscle (she thought).  To be on the safe side, they x-rayed and found a spot where the leg joined the hip.  This one had the doctors arguing.  One said he didn't think it was osteosarcoma; his partner said of course it is.  So they sent us to Boston Children's, which had the best pediatric cancer experts in the area.  The first sentence from the doctor's mouth after they saw Jessie was, "It's not osteosarcoma."  It was just a cyst that had pearlized.

If anyone wanted to know where my gray hair came from, I would just point to Jessie.

All these things aside, Jessie was a joy and delight and a source of pride.  Once, while working at a local theater, a patron had an epileptic attack.  Jessie calmly (and on her own) placed stanchions around the woman and her caretaker and kept crowds away from the woman until the attack was under control.  How many 16-year-olds would be able to have that clarity of mind?

Fast forward a number of years.  Jessie is mother of two wonderful young girls when her husband Michael has a fatal heart attack in the living room.  Despite her devastation, Jessie was able to hold her family together, easing the girls' heartbreak and doing whatever had to be done.  She and the girls stayed with us for several years and, when she felt she was ready, moved the three of them to Massachusetts to be on their own.  Now that Amy, her youngest, has graduated high school, everybody has moved down to Florida.  Both girls started college today.  Also today, an offer was made on a house (which everyone hopes will be accepted -- it's a really cute house!).

So my beautiful, wonderful girl is starting a new year and a new beginning.  Look out, Florida!  Jessamyn is here and she's loaded for success! 


Today was the first day of school for all five of my grandchildren.  To help mark the occasion, here's Chuck Berry on Amertican Bandstand.


  • "Brian Craig" (Brian Stableford), Warhammer:  Storm Warriors.  Gaming tie-in novel, the third book in Orfeo trilogy, following Zaragoz and  Plague Daemon.  Orfeo is a minstrel who struggles "against the dark powers that threaten the Warhammer world...a story of terror, betrayal and evil Dark Elves in the ancient haunted land of Albion."  Stableford is an undersung writer who has lately been translating and adapting classic French science fiction for Black Coat Press.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Journey back forty years to the first World Fantasy Convention, held in Providence, Rhode Island, to hear recordings of two panel discussions.

The first, on how writers got their start, is moderated by Gahan Wilson and features Joseph Payne Brennan, Robert Bloch, Frank Belknap Long, and Manly Wade Wellman.

The second, presented here in two parts, is about the business of publishing.  Again moderated by Gahan Wilson, this one features Robert Bloch and Donald A. Wollheim,

Good stuff.


Jim and Jesse.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


The Mills Brothers.  Smooth, very smooth


Tom Mix (Thomas Edwin Mix, born Thomas Hezakiah Mix, 1880-1940) lived a life that makes it difficult to separate fact from fiction.  Often called the first major Western star by those who overlook William S. Hart, Mix was raised in Pennsylvania, rather than the wild West.  His father was a stable master for a wealthy businessman, and it was from his father that Mix learned to ride.  As a boy, Mix wanted to be in the circus and. to this end, he practiced knife throwing.   In 1908, he enlisted in the army.  Although the Spanish-American War was in full swing, he never went overseas and, in 1902 while on furlough, he married and never bothered returning to the army.  (He was listed as AWOL, never court marshaled, and was never officially discharged.  His army desertion was something that he kept secret.)  The hasty marriage was soon annulled.

Mix rode with a group of 50 horsemen in the 1905 inaugural parade; the group included several former Rough Riders and some of Mix's later publicity would try to spin that he had been a Rough Rider -- something blatantly untrue.  Mix drifted to the Oklahoma Territory where he held some odd jobs, finally landing a position in the Miller Brothers touring Wild West show, eventually winning several national riding and roping championships.  He began his film career in 1909 with Selig Polyscope and appeared in over 100 short films, mostly documentaries.  In 1917 Mix signed with Fox Studios and began making action filled, scripted films.  Mix's clean-cut film persona enthralled children at Saturday matinees and he (and his horse, Tony) became famous.  Only nine of the 291 movies Tom Mix made were not silent films.

Mix's stunts, his sense of showmanship, and his colorful costumes held him in good stead.  He drew fantastic salaries for the time and he should have been a wealthy man, but the Depression, profligate spending, and four ex-wives had their toll.  Mix toured with circuses and even owned on himself.  His career in the talkies ended in 1935 when the injuries from doing his own stunts made him retire.  In 1940, at the age of sixty, while driving to Phoenix in his Cord 812 Phaeton he came to a bridge washed away in a flash flood.  Unable to stop, he overturned in a gully.  Behind his head was a large aluminum case filled with cash, traveler's checks, and jewelry.  The case slammed forward, breaking Mix's neck.  I don't know why he had so many valuables in the case.  His last phone call, shortly before the fatal accident, was from a popular drinking and gambling spot.

In addition to his movies, Tom Mix also had a popular radio show, although Mix's voice (which had been damaged by a bullet to the throat (!) and an oft-broken nose.  The show ran from 1933 through the early fifties, less a year during World War II.

In comics, Tom Mix first appeared in the Whitman Publishing (Dell) Popular Comics, which collected various newspaper strips, beginning in February 1936 and ending that December.  (I have not been able to glean any information about the newspaper strip, althoug, admittedly, I did not look very hard.)  Mix then moved to Whitman's The Comics for a six-month period in 1937, and then to 18 issues of Crackajack Funnies from June 1938 to December 1939.  The compilation below covers the Crackerjack Funnies issues, inexplicably excluding Crackerjack Funnies #4, which carried the last two pages of the first story and the first two pages of the second story.

The five stories here are:

  • "Fence War in Painted Valley," very ineptly drawn (with an occasional caption balloon pointing to the wrong person) by someone who signed himself Al Lewin
  • "The Canyon of Lost Trails," again  by Lewin
  • "The Kidnappers of Cholla Wash," by Jim Stevens
  • "The Payroll Bandits," unsigned.
  • "The Story of Hoodoo Ranch," also unsigned
All five stories depict the traits of Tom Mix's movie persona.


P.S.  What about those missing pages from the first and second stories?  Fear not, gentle friends.  Here's the link to Crackerjack Funnies #4.  The missing pages are on pages 63 through 66.

Friday, August 12, 2016


One of the things that made 1957 enjoyable.  Here's The Rays.


Son of the Flying 'Y' by Will F. Jenkins (1951)

Bud Hornaby is an immature and coddled young man.  It's not his fault; his father -- a Texas legend who can outshoot, outshout, outfight, and outswear anyone in the region -- was distant and protective, never letting Bud to take risks of to have a normal.  Then, too, Joe Bradley, King Hornaby's trusted ranch foreman, never tired of telling King how useless his son is.  This type of poison is accepted King.  All of this leaves Bud wanting to leave his father's grip and the large Flyng 'Y' ranch and to prove himself to be a man.  The only person who listens to Bud and who accepts him is Bud's Uncle Paul...then Paul is killed in a gun duel.

Clem Short has been tracking Paul for years, intent on killing him.  Paul acknowledges that short has good reasons for killing him but won't say anything further.  Clem finds Paul in a local saloon and confronts him.  When Bud arrives on the scene, Paul has Short covered with his gun but doesn't want to shoot him.  Short, in turn, calmly states if Paul puts down his gun Short will shoot him...or, Paul can face him in the street for a shootout.  Paul reluctantly agrees and the two face off.  Both men empty their guns and Paul is killed, Short is merely wounded.  Witnesses agree it was a fair fight and allow Short to leave town,  Bud, however, is incensed and vows to kill Short.

Bud is humiliated when his father's men keep him from following Short.  The rage that has been building up inside of Bud for two decades has reached the boiling point.  A few days later, he escapes the Flying 'Y' and sets out in pursuit of Short and with a determination to erase the ranch and his father from his life and to himself a man.

His adventures lead him along the cattle trail towards Dodge City.  Along the way he gets suckered by a dance hall girl, joins up with an unemployed cowboy (and, in true The Prince and the Pauper style, switched identities with him), helps a herd of reluctant cattle to ford a river, saves the herd from Indians, falls in love (with complications, naturally), foils a large cattle rustling enterprise, and comes face to face with his nemesis, Clem Short.

Son of the Flying 'Y' is a bildungsroman set on the dusty cattle trails of the Old West.  It's not an outstanding western but it's a darned good one.  The characters are well fleshed out and the vision of the West rings true with detail.  Bud Hornaby's adventures provide a fast-paced narrative that kept me reading well into the wee hours -- long after I should have turned out the light.

Jenkins, of course, is the real name of the man better known as "Murray Leinster," the one-time "Dean of Science Fiction."  In addition to his science fiction, Jenkins/Leinster was prolific in the Western field where his gripping sense of plot and narration served him well.  His western novels are difficult to come across these days -- most have not seen print since the Fifties, a real shame.  Son of the Flying 'Y' was the second of two he wrote for Gold Medal books.  A quick check of Abebooks shows four copies -- all from outside the US -- available for $12 -$26, including shipping; other retailers may have less expensive copies.

A fast, gripping read.  Recommended.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Today would have been my father's 100th birthday.  I've written about him before on this blog but I can't pass up this opportunity to say what he meant to me and how much he shaped me.

He was born in small-town Massachusetts, one of eight (actually, nine, if you count cousin Al, which we do -- Al was eventually adopted by my grandfather).  His father was a truck farmer among other things.  (My grandfather at one time also was responsible for the local cemetery, one that began when a Revolutionary War soldier spent a night with some locals home when returning home.  Turns out the soldier had smallpox...  My grandfather was clearing out land for a new portion of the cemetery when he accidentally upturned the unmarked grave of an infant.  He sank to the ground and held the child's bones and cried unashamedly -- one of the few stories my father would tell about his father and goes a long way to explaining both men.)

My father was popular in school and was captain of the football team his senior year.  The team had a losing season and there is a story (that my father never confirmed) that during one game he managed to kick the ball and his right shoe well down the field.  There's also the story (unconfirmed by my father, but confirmed by others) about the Halloween when he went outhouse tipping, not realizing the outhouse was occupied.

He was a hard worker, first as a farmer, then as a building contractor.  He had a reputation for honesty, integrity, and quality work.  He was active and respected in the community, belonging to a number of organizations and was a proud Freemason.  He believed in helping people quietly, not wanting credit.  He was loyal to his family and friends, taking a special interest in kids.  He had a common-sense approach to life.  He loved people of all types and enjoyed watching the wide variety that passed him by.  He was described as a great, big, friendly bear of a man.  Everybody loved him.  He died as the result of an accident, less than a month from his 65th birthday.

He was very proud of his children, although he must have wondered how an old Yankee Republican sired such liberal kids.  Actually, it was his love and respect for others that became the core of my social conscience and, although many find it hard to believe, I consider myself a conservative in the original sense of the word (conserve what works and change what doesn't).  My father's political views, I suspect, would have a difficult time with the politics of 2016.  (He got a kick out of the year he voted for a Democrat for the first and only time in his life while Kitty voted for a Republican for the first and only time in her life -- it was the Massachusetts governor's race:  Ed King, an ultra-conservative Democrat, vs. Frank Sargent, a liberal Republican.)

If I take an unflinching look at myself, all the good parts are a reflection of my father.  And, if I take an unflinching look at myself, there are not that many bad parts.  I owe him a lot.

I wish he could have seen my children grow up.  I wish he had lived to see my brother's girls.  I wish he could have seen my sister's children grow up.  I wish he had seen my grandchildren.

If any of these people look at myself or my brother or my late sister, I'm sure they will see some shining reflections of my father.


Ike and Tina.  Actually, this one is Tina from the word go.  She owns this.


Mr. Moto was a Japanese-American detective created by John P. Marquand, who created the character for The Saturday Evening Post to fill the void made by the death of Charlie Chan creator Earl Derr Biggers.  From 1935 through 1957, Marquand wrote six novels about the detective.  Today the character is probably best known through the eight movies that starred Peter Lorre from 1937 to 1939.  Moto also appeared in a better forgotten 1965 film with Henry Silva as the title character.  (One Moto book was also used as the "basis" of a 1957 movie although Marquand's plot was scrapped, as was the Moto character -- to be replaced by Robert Wagner.  Sic transit gloria.)  More recently Mr. Moto was featured in a comic book and a graphic novel from Moonstone Books.  Moto never gained the popularity or the success of that other Asian detective whose shoes he had been created to fill.

Mr. I. A. Moto ran on NBC Radio for five months from May 20 through October 20, 1951 -- a total of 23 episodes.  The show was produced by Carol Irwin (who would soon become increasingly involved with her hit television show Mama) and sometimes by assistant producer Doris Quinlan.  Harry W. Junkin (from NBC's hit Radio City Playhouse) was chosen to direct and write the series, although Robert Tallman (Cavalcade of America, Sam Spade, Suspense) actually wrote most of the scripts, with Jim Haines also penning some of the scripts.  Veteran stage and radio actor James Monks took to the radio waves as Moto, who was cast as an International Secret Agent who battled Communism and (occasionally) mundane crime.  The entire program was a class act, from the direction and writing to the acting;  many of the West Coast's best radio actors were used in supporting roles, including Mason Adams, Julie Stevens, William conrad, and Ross Martin.

"The Case of the Dry Martini" was the final show in the radio series.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Bobby Lewis.


A statistician decided to go into ranching.  He started with 196 steer but when he rounded them up there were 200.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


The Tru-Tones.


First off, who the h*ll is Ingagi?  He/she/it is not mentioned at all in this film.  Well, Ingagi is an African gorilla and the title character of the 1930 B-movie Ingagi.  No one connected with the first movie -- not the director, writer, producer, actors, no characters -- has anything to do with Son of Ingagi.

Secondly, this film is of historic note, if only because it is (debatedly) the first all-Black horror film made.  That's a good thing and a bad thing.  Good because it's a mildly entertaining piece of history; bad because of its low budget, sometimes amateurish acting, multitude of plot holes, and predictable storyline.  Also the only (?) surviving print of this movie has been cut by about ten minutes and it really shows.

The plot:  Eccentric Dr. Helen Jackson (Laura Bowman, Drums o' Voodoo, Murder in Harlem) has a reputation as a mad person and a "black magic" woman.  Once she was in love, but her object of her affection married another and she left the country immediately after their wedding to become a missionary in Africa.  Returning to America, she brought with her $20,000 in gold and an apeman companion.  Wait.  What?  Yes, an apeman, but not just an apeman -- a giant, hunchbacked, simple-minded apeman named N'Gina (Zack Williams, 1929's The Four Feathers, uncredited role in Gone With the Wind).  Of course the apeman is hidden in her (also hidden) basement and secret laboratory.  Dr. Jackson is working on a medical discovery that will be the biggest advance in medicine since Pasteur (her own words) and a benefit to all mankind.  We have no idea what this discovery is because it doesn't matter since N'Gina drinks the only test tube containing the wonderful discovery.  This boon to mankind turns N'Gina into a homicidal apeman.  (The effects may be intermittent, because for most of the rest of the film N'Gina is his simple-minded shambling old self except on occasion when he lackadaisically kills a few other people.)  Jackson has a prominent lawyer (Earle Morris, The Bronze Buckaroo, Mystery in Swing) and an ex-con brother (Arthur Ray, Mr. Washington Goes to Town, Professor Creeps), both of whom are trying to get her hidden gold.

Backtracking a bit, the movie begins with the wedding of beautiful Eleanor (Daisy Bufford, uncredited role in Gone With the Wind, uncredited role in Charlie Chan in the Chinese Cat) and fashion mishap Bob (Alfred Grant, Golden Boy, The Vanishing Virginian).  Turns out Eleanor is the orphaned daughter of Dr. Jackson's former love and (unknowingly) the sole heir in the doctor's will.  It also happens that their house is next door to Dr. Jackson's and within viewing distance of foundry where Bob works (and where he was to go to work the day after his wedding).  Unfortunately the foundry blow up (offscreen) on Bob's wedding night, so Bob starts off marriage unemployed.

That's basically all you need to know, but here are some highpoints of the film.

Bob and Eleanor's house has knotty pine walls and a knotty pine door so it looks like there are big black eyes all over the place.

The vocal quartet The Toppers, along with some friends, crash the wedding night for a party with strange dancing (both with and without music).  The Toppers sing "So Long, Pal"  and "You Drove the Gloom Away,"  Pleasant music which sounds nice but nothing to advance the plot.

N'Gani sleeps on a cot in a cage but the cage door is always unlocked, but they have to establish the cage for the film's ending.

Did I mention that Dr. Jackson creates a formula that will change medicine forever, but that we never know what the formula does?  Besides make N'Gani homicidal, that is.  Also, she's the most unscientific scientist evaah.  (Nonetheless, Laura Bowman is the second most interesting acto in the film.)

The most interesting actor?  Spencer Williams (Andy in television's Amos and Andy) plays the bumbling plain clothes detective Nelson.  He's the comic foil but his schtick with the disappearing sandwiches is entertaining.  (And he leaves the refigerator door open when he leaves the kitchen.)

N'Gani is the quietest apeman ever.  Nobody hears him moving around the house.  In fact, nobody sees him (despite his frequent excursions to raid the refrigerator) until it's too late.

Gunshots in the basement can be heard on the second floor, but not on the first.  Also, there's selective hearing while people are screaming.

I really, really want Bob's sports jacket and tie but Kitty (she of good taste) won't let me get it.

Six bullets cannot stop N'Gani.  In fact, they don't really bother him, although an itty bitty finger cut does.

N'Gani's make-up earned the film an Oscar nod.  Not.

Except for the dead people, all ends well.


Monday, August 8, 2016


Here's one from the original Mickey Mouse Club.


  • Martin H. Greenberg and Russell Davis, editors, Lost Trails.  Western anthology with fourteen stories, thirteen of them original.  A pretty good lineup of Western authors, including Elmer
    Kelton, Loren D Estleman, Don Coldsmith, Johnny D. Boggs, William W. Johnstone, and (the one reprint) Louis L'Amour.

Sunday, August 7, 2016


Here's one of those "Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend" from Winsor McKay, the father of animation.  This one is from circa 1927.



Arizona Dranes.

Saturday, August 6, 2016


Boxcar Willie.


I can't tell you much about this comic book.  It's undated.  It comes from Australia.  It's printed in black and white.  I have no idea who the artist is.  I have no idea who the writer is.  I have no idea if it was reprinted from another source.  I do know that Davy's coonskin cap looks like it had a tussle with live electric socket -- which is probably why you don't see many people wearing a coonskin cap.

In "The Pennsylvania Rifle," Davy meets a man who could outshoot him.  Horrors!  Either the man is a better shot, or he has a much better rifle,  Turns out it's the rifle -- a new-fangled one made in Pennsylvania.  So Davy starts walking to PA.  Davy gets the rifle and names it "Old Betsy."   On his way back home Davy comes across a town that's having a fair day -- with dancing (not interested) and contests (ooh. contests!  Including wrestling and shooting).  This is a chance for Davy to test his new rifle.  He's pitted against Bull Munson, the town braggart considered the shoo-in for both contests.  Wonder if Davy will win?  Okay.  So this one is a ho-hum story.

"Forest Runners" -- "evil men with black hearts who preyed on lonesome hunters and bands of trappers...!"  You know they're evil because one has an eyepatch, another has a bad guy's mustache, while a third looks like Abraham Lincoln...oh...wait...I mean, the third has a bad attitude.  Davy leaps into action (literally.  From a tree.) to give them "salt and vinegar" (which is frontier talk for a can of whoop-ass).  All the trappers are happy except the big surly one who looks like Tor Johnson.  Davy's instincts tell him that anyone who looks like Tor Johnson can be up to no good, so Davy again leaps into action -- again from a tree.  Not as ho-hum as the first story, because how could anything with Tor Johnson be ho-hum?

Davy's absent in the next tale, "Ben Norton X Trail Blazer."  The X, I assume, is a trail-blazing mark.  The Delaware Chief Red Bear tells Ben his tribe's tale of woe.  High winds have chased game away and fires have destroyed the tribe's crops, leaving the tribe to face a long, hard winter.  The neighboring Huron's, who had just lost their chief, refused to help.  Speaking for the tribe, a Huron warrior named Martok tells Red Bear that the gods are angry with the Delaware because they killed the Huron chief.  Despite Red Bear's protests that they had nothing to do with the chief's death, Martok refuses to help the Delaware and orders them off Huron land.  Ben sneaks onto 
Huron land with some of Red Bear's men.  They kill thirty deer (I'm hoping one of them was not Bambi's mom) and they Indians head home with the kill while Ben stays behind to wipe out their trail.  Alas, Ben has to use his rifle to kill an attacking bear and the Huron hear the shot and capture him.  Ben is tied to a tree while the Huron throw axes at him.  Evidently, 1) the Hurons are dong this for fun because all of the axes narrowly miss Ben until it is Martok's turn, and 2) the dudes have some mad ax-throwing skills.  Remember that the title of this comic book is Fearless Davy Crockett, but Ben Norton out-fearlesses Davy any day of the week.  I mean, Ben doesn't even break into a sweat with all those axes heading toward him.  Anyway, all's well that ends well, and Martok is made to work for the squaws as a very non-PC, Nineteenth century punishment.

Three stories.  That's it.  Just 28 pages.

Throw a shrimp on the barbie as you peruse this issue.  Enjoy.

Friday, August 5, 2016


Here's Judy singing the title song from the film, with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Yip Harburg


I Could go on Singing by John D. MacDonald (1963)

I Could Go on Singing was Judy Garland's last film.  It was also John D. MacDonald's last movie tie-in novel.  (I'm cheating here -- it was also JDM's first, and only, movie tie-in novel.)

I haven't seen the movie, but what I could gather from comments on IMDb. The flick bombed, mostly because of its maudlin storyline.  From all accounts, Garland's performance was fantastic and co-star Dirk Bogarde put in a good performance which cold not match Garland's presence.  The movie, which drew some parallels to Garland's life, is evidently an absolute treat for Garland fans.

I don't know why MacDonald agreed to novelize this movie, but he was able to add depth to the plot by introducing a main character and love interest who were not in the original film.  Jason Brown is a screenwriter still climbing back from a writer's block following the accidental death of his alcoholic young wife.  Long before his marriage, he had a brief affair with singing sensation and movie star Jenny Bowman, who herself was recovering from a disastrous marriage.  Their brief affair ended amicably.  Jenny went to another disastrous marriage and divorce, while Jason went on to his short-lived marriage.

Jenny harbors a secret that has been kept from the press and the general public.  Early in her career, she had an affair with a married man that led to an illegitimate child.  The powers that be in her career, convinced he to give up the child and to keep her entire pregnancy a secret.  The child's father, David Donne, and his wife agreed to adopt and raise the child on the condition that Jenny have no contact with the boy, Matthew.  Matthew is now 13 and lives with his now-widowed father in England.

Throughout her career, Jenny has refused to perform in England, fearing that she may want to come into contact with her child, who has no idea of his parentage.  Guilt and lost opportunity have plagued Jenny to the point where she has scheduled London concerts in the hope of meeting her child.  The studio executive in charge of her next movie is frightened of what might happen if the story of Jenny's illegitimate son became public, so he blackmails Jason into going to London, hoping he will have a calming effect on Jenny.

In London, Jason falls for Lois Marney, Jenny's manager's secretary and another victim of a disastrous marriage.  As a result of her marriage, Lois has shut down emotionally.

Things come to a head when Matthew accidentally discovers who his real parents are.

In this story, almost everyone is damaged goods and it's interesting to see how each manages to face (or not face) inherent flaws.  MacDonald adds a depth of character to the story by playing on the effect of Jenny's obsession on those around her.  This is not one of his best books, but it is a highly readable book.  MacDonald has turned a sow's ear into a moderately respectable silk purse.

I Could Go on Singing was a 1963 Gold Medal paperback published in both an American and a Canadian edition.  To my knowledge, it has never been reprinted -- one of the few JDM books that have not been reprinted.  Copies are available on with prices ranging from $27.95 to $105.00.

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Marianne Faithful.


Well. howdy, boys and girls...and moms and dads too.  Join Roy, Dale, and Gabby Hayes in their first adventure sponsored by Quaker Cereals, which sponsored the program from 1948 to 1951.  (The show's first sponsor, Goodyear Tires, sponsored the show from its start in 1944 to 1945.  Miles Laboratory took over the sponsorship in 1946 until the end of March 1947, following which the show was on hiatus for a year.)

"The Case of the Mysterious Puppet" was evidently recorded on March 28, 1948, although the season did not begin until that August.  I'm not sure what the actual air date of this episode was.  For this new season, The Sons of the Pioneers were replaced by Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage.  Gabby Hayes, as Roy's sidekick, hung on through the Quaker Cereal years to be replaced by Pat Brady in the Fall of 1951.

The show aired on the Mutual Network on Sundays from 6:00 to 6:30.

I never caught Roy on the radio as a kid, although my eyes were glued to the TV for his television show.  Never cared much for Dale, but I did like Roy and Pat Brady and Nelly Belle, the 1946 Willys CJ-2A jeep with a mind of its own.  (In real life, the jeep actually belonged to Roy.)

Happy trails to you.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Walter Van Brunt.


My brother went to the doctor recently and complained about his hearing.  His doctor asked him, "What are the symptoms?"  My brother said, "They are those yellow characters on the television."

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


From 1925, here's Ethel Waters & Her Ebony Four.


Edgar G. Robinson hunts hunts Nazi war criminal Orson Welles in this noir thriller.  Loretta Young is the beautiful daughter of a Supreme Court Justice and an innocent victim as Welles assumes a new identity.

Edgar G. Robinson: great.

Orson Welles:  great.

Loretta Young:  great.

The movie, IMHO:  great.


Monday, August 1, 2016


Sam Cooke.


  • Hans Holzer, The Ghost Hunter's Favorite Cases.  Sixty-two paranormal cases across America that were "investigated" by professional ghost hunter Holzer.  I mentioned before that I am a sucker for this kind of book, kind of a cross between folklore, gossip, and fantasy.  Holzer may be full of hokum, but he's far preferable to others of his ilk, notably the Warrens (even though such writers as Ed Gorman and Ray Garton made valiant efforts ghosting the ghosts).
  • The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 1982.  This issue was at a local thrift store.  Stories by Bruce Sterling, Isaac Asimov, Gregory Benford, Michael Shea, and others; Asimov's regular science column; Baird Searles on film; Algis Budrys on books; a poem by Jane Yolen; and Competition results, with first prize going to Lawrence Watt Evans and with Pat Cardigan as a runner up.  F&SF is always a good read.
  • Graham Masterton, Prey.  Horror novel.  "There's something in the attic of Fortyfoot House.  Something that rustles.  Something that scampers and scratches.  Something with fur.  But it isn't a rat.  It's something far,far more terrifying than a rat."  Dick Cheney in a fur coat, perhaps?
  • J. E. Pournelle, "creator" & John F. Carr, associate editor, There Will Be War, Volume VI:  Guns of Darkness.  SF anthology with 14 stories, eight essays, and five poems.  The There Will Be War anthology series ran for nine volumes, from 1983 through 1990, with a tenth volume appearing last year.