Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, October 31, 2016


Rosemary Clooney.


  • Lee Child, Worth Dying For.  A Jack Reacher novel in which the main character is and alway will be taller than Tom Cruise.  "There's deadly trouble in the corn country of Nebraska...and Jack Reacher walks right into it.  First he falls foul of the Duncans, a local clan that has terrified an entire county into submission.  But it's the unsolved, decades-old case of a missing child that Reacher can't let go."
  • Peter Lovesey, Stagestruck.  A Peter Diamond mystery.  "Pop diva Clarion Calhoun has packed the house with a celebrity appearance in Bath's Theatre Royal production of I Am a Camera.  But within moments of her much anticipated onstage appearance, she's pulled out of character as she screams and claws at her face.  When her tainted makeup is found to have caused the disfiguring burns, fingers point to her makeup artist.  Detective Peter Diamond investigates when the makeup artist is found dead, pushed from a catwalk far above the stage.  As diamond digs deeper, he uncovers bitter rivalries among the cast and crew and is forced to confront his own mysterious theater phobia to find the killer."  I've enjoyed every book by Lovesey that I've read and his Peter Diamond series is superlative.  I'm looking forward to this one.

Sunday, October 30, 2016


Today is my 70th birthday and, although I wonder how I got to here, I am more than grateful that I am here.

Birthdays are a good time to take stock and. all things considered, I'm doing well.

Physically, things look good.  My heart and lungs work fine.  I can still eat whatever I want to without my digestive system giving off alarm bells.  My bones and joints are stiff and my back is a bit wonky, but I can still move around pretty well.  My back (which has been the bane of existence for so long) is cooperating with me more than it had for decades.  I had a small bout with skin cancer a few years ago and a TIA a few years before that, but here's nothing threatening on the horizon.  My blood pressure and cholesterol counts are very good.   I am overweight and need to loss at least some of the excess poundage but I haven't been able to psych myself into doing so...perhaps this year, perhaps not.

I am blessed by being married to the most wonderful woman in the world.  They say the initial chemical responses in a relationship wear out after a few years, but I still look at Kitty with the same eyes and feelings I did over fifty years ago.  Being with her has made me a much better person.  I don't like the younger me very much; he was stubborn, immature, and a bit sexist.  I am far more comfortable with the person I am now and I owe the person I am now to Kitty.  I've also been bless by two wonderful daughters and five fantastic grandchildren -- each one as different from the others as night and day and each gifting the world simply by being here.

I do have to get out more and meet new people.  We haven't had much of a chance to socialize since we moved here a year ago.  I have made good friends and met many people through this blog and I keep up with old friends on Facebook but physical interactions are always welcome.

Money has never mattered much to us because we've never had much of it.  Our tastes are simple and we're careful how we spend what little we have.  The move to Florida hit us hard financially and I really don't think we've been this broke in thirty years but, again, we manage and there will be better times ahead.

I am still in awe with this world and the beauty that surrounds us.  (Well, except for spiders.  Spiders are ugly, evil creatures who should be dispatched on sight with a flamethrower.  Nasty spiders.  Hate 'em.  Kitty feels the same, except with moray eels.)  The immensity of the universe amazes me and the very possibility of other universes and other dimensions bowls me over -- the mere fact that humanity continues to unlock those vast secrets humbles me.

I am thankful that I am still very childlike in that my brain is like a sponge, constantly seeking out new things.  I read a lot.  I listen a lot.  I absorb a lot.  All of which allows the me of today to be just a little bit smarter than the me of yesterday.

I still like to laugh.

I still cry.  I'm an optimistic guy and despite some of the horrors happening in the world today I have hope for us.  I believe mankind is basically good, no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary.  I weep for the lost and the abused and the unloved and the thrown away and the increasingly larger group of have-nots and all of the pawns in the games of the powerful.  I weep for our planet with its rising temperatures, its depleted oceans, its unclean air, its polluted water, and its endangered species.  I strongly believe that we are supposed to be the stewards of the earth and that we are falling down on our job.  But I also believe that we can be better -- can do better -- than this.

I love watching people, watching their faces and the way they walk.  Each person is so different and so magnificent in his or her own way.  This is a habit I picked up from my father and I am grateful to him.

 My wife's late cousin Mark was a fantastic guy.  Everybody loved him and he loved everybody with just one notable exception, Richard Nixon.  Oh, he hated Nixon.  Although I feel Nixon did have some redeeming qualities, I did understand where Mark was coming from.  I, myself, can find a source of redemption in just about everyone with just two exceptions, Dick Chaney and Donald Trump.  And I'm not happy with myself because I feel this way, but there you are.

Looking back, I see I've built up 70 years of snark.  Not a bad thing really, just a way of acknowledging human foibles.

I am grateful to be living today.  A century ago I probably would not have survived birth.  Now I live in an age of marvels with the knowledge of the world at my fingertips, just a few clicks way.  I expect another ten, fifteen years, or more before my warranty expires.

As I enter my 71st year, I am content.


Doc Watson.

Saturday, October 29, 2016


From 1938, some early jazz from New Orleans trumpeter Wingy Manone and His Orchestra.


Let me take a walk down memory lane.

More years ago than I'd like to remember I had a good friend named Willie Franson.  Willie was a great guy, but not too interested in studying.  He had a great sense of humor, a warm heart, and a fondness for alcohol, cards, and bad television.  It was the bad television we bonded over.  We used to guess how many weeks The Lawrence Welk Show would reuse the same sets (I think the record was five weeks).  Because I actually studied a little bit, Willie got to watch far more television than I did but he would gladly keep me up date on the shows he had watched.  (Understand that the only television station available in those pre-cable days was one small station from a very small Nebraska town.)

One day, Willie told me about a show he had watched that he called "Susie and Her Toothbrush."  It was an old documentary from the Fifties, he said, and it was probably twenty minutes long.  It went like this:

Susie was a very pretty high school girl who lived with her grandmother.  Susie, however, was not popular and she could not figure out why, so one day she brought her problem to her grandmother.  Granny began asking Susie some questions.

"Susie, when you're getting ready to go to school, how much time do you spend in the shower?"

Susie had to think on this one.  "Gee, Grandma, about fifteen minutes, I guess."

"And Susie, how much time do you spend fixing your hair?"

"About the same amount of time I guess.  About fifteen minutes."

"And how much time do you spend picking out your outfit for the day?"

"About fifteen minutes again, Grandma."

"And how much time do you spend on your makeup each morning?"

"Fifteen minutes."

"And," said Granny, going in for the closer, "how much time do you spend brushing your teeth?"

"About five minutes, Grandma."

"Aha!" Granny shouted, pointing a finger at Susie.  "Equal time for equal tasks!"

Both Granny and Susie nod knowingly.

Fade to black.

Whether this show actually existed or whether it was an alcohol-induced dream of Willie's, I don't know.  If it did exist I'm sure it was produced for some dental organization or some company selling toothpaste.  The story has stuck with me for five decades and -- to me -- it represents the epitome of documentaries produced in the Forties and Fifties designed to "enlighten" school children.

Which brings us to today's comic book, a 16-page one-shot produced by the Genral Electric Company as one of their "Adventures in Science" series.  Want to bet there's a pro-electric message here?

The comic begins with the words "The two powerful forces that have given shape and form to America's greatness were born almost two centuries ago...but the "chain reaction" they set off is building a better world today...and promises an even greater future for us all!"

Our story starts with two teenagers escaping from behind the Iron Curtain, avoiding armed guards and crawling through barbed wire to freedom.  By the next page they -- siblings Karl and Marya -- are in America and are being introduced to their new high school class.  (The teacher is drawn as a Fifties-style Stepford wife, an omen that propaganda is about to be unloaded.)  America students Johnny and Jane think their new schoolmates are swell and they befriend them.

We quickly flash by Karl and Marya learning and adapting to American ways.(Marya at an ice cream fountain drink something called an "Idiot's Delight" with extra chopped nuts, Karl tackling Johnny in a game of football, Johnny teaching Marya how to roller skate.)  Soon the kids are disagreeing why Americans are so different from other people.  Karl thinks it's the location.  Jane thinks it's our natural resources.  And Johnny thinks -- who the hell cares what Johnny thinks?  Certainly not whoever wrote this script because he leaves Johnny hanging.  Somebody's big brother Ed (Johnny's?  Jane's?  Who knows?) drives up and because he's older, smarter, and cooler, they pose the question to him.  Ed dodges the question and sets the foursome off to find the answers for themselves and to report back to him in a few days.

Karl and Marya see people happy at their work because (in the examples we see) of power.  Their father gets promoted to foreman because of his hard work.  Their Uncle Vanya runs a successful foreign language newspaper that he started when he came to America because success comes to those who earn it.  Karl and Marya are amazed at the selection available at the stores here;  It makes Marya feel like a queen.  And in America one can speak one's opinions openly.  Marya and Karl decide America is different because of freedom.

Meanwhile Johnny and Jane realize how much easier thing are today than they were fifty years ago.  Power helps make homes brighter and housework easier.  It increases the efficiency of the American worker.  It provides us better health, better education, better communication, better transportation, better income, shorter working hours, more leisure time.

Big brother Ed tells the kids they are both right.  America is different from the rest of the world because of both freedom and power.  Because "If we preserve those freedoms of ours...and strengthen our power...who knows what wonders the future might bring?!?"

The entire cast then proclaims, "That's for us...MORE POWER TO AMERICA!"

(And, with an electric toothbrush, little Susie may now need only five minutes to brush her teeth.)


Friday, October 28, 2016


Television horror host John  Zacherle died yesterday, one month after his 98th birthday.  Known simply as "Zacherley," he was the gateway for many kids into horror films.  For me and countless others, however, his two anthologies from Ballantine Books, Zacherley's Midnight Snacks  and Zacherley's Vulture Stew (both 1960) were gateway books into horror and fantasy fiction.  Both had excellent stories and still hold up well today.


Bobby Rydell.


Sorry. Wrong Number by Allan Ullman and Lucille Fletcher (1948)

It's 9:30 at night and Leona Stevenson is alone and worried.  Her husband had promised to be home by 6:00 but had not yet arrived, nor had she heard from him.  Her constant calls to his office have been met with busy signals, indicating that someone was at the office.  Or, perhaps, that there was something wrong with the phone line.   Leona calls the operator to have her try the number from her end.  That's when her nightmare really starts.

The operator makes the connection.  There's a voice on the other end.  Leona doesn't recognize the voice.  And then there's another voice.  She asks who is it one the line, but neither person can hear her.  Somehow the telephone lives had been crossed and Leona is the unwilling witness to a murder plot.  The men are discussing the murder of a woman at exactly 11:15 that evening -- that's when the noise of a passing train will disguise the killer's entry to the home through a kitchen window.  A woman, alone in the house, is to be murdered.  Whoever hired these men did not want the woman to suffer, Leona heard, the job was to be done quickly with a knife.  The killer would then take some jewels from the home to give the appearance of a robbery.  The conversation is then cut off before Leona could learn the name of the victim or her address.

Leona -- rich, spoiled, imperious, and a hypochondriac -- is a semi-invalid with a heart condition.  What can she do?  She tries the telephone company but they are not able to tell her where the call came from.  The police log in the information but can do nothing with the flimsy information given.  No one is able to help her.  She's not even sure that anyone believes her.

Slowly, as the evening progresses to 11:15 -- over a series of phone calls -- Leona begins to learn that her doting husband may not be the man she thinks he is.  Slowly she begins to climb out of layers of denial to suspect that she herself might be the intended victim.

The clock, and the novel, continue its claustrophobic advance to the fatal time.

Sorry, Wrong Number began as a radio play on the May 25, 1943 episode of Suspense.  It was reprised seven times between then and 1960, with Agnes Morehead starring each time.  Orson Welles called it the greatest single radio script ever written.  Fletcher adapted it for the 1948 film version starring Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster.  Stanwyck received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her role.  A 1959 adaptation of the play won an Edgar award for Best Drama.

While the story is certainly not forgotten and while the play's theme had been repeated with various twists over the years, the novel adapted from the play is less known.  Lucille Fletcher (1912-2000) was a well-known author of radio plays.  She had two daughters from her first husband, the composer Bernard Hermann; her second husband was the novelist and playwright  Douglass Wallop (The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant/Damn Yankees).  Sorry, Wrong Number was the first of ten novels she would write.  Allan Ullman (1908-1982) was a promotional director at Random House and novelized several thrillers based on screenplays.  He went on to become an executive of the Book-of-the-Month Club and head of The New York Times book and education division.  He co-wrote one other book with Fletcher and also published under the name "Sandy Alan"

Robert Arthur included Sorry, Wrong Number in his 1965 ghost-edited anthology Alfred Hitchcock presents:  Stories Not for the Nervous.  As far as I can tell, this has been the last time the book was reprinted.

A tight, fast, and suspenseful read

Thursday, October 27, 2016


Kids in the Fifties thrilled to the adventures of Wild Bill Hickok on both television and the radio.  Hickok was a real life gambler, gunman, and lawman whose life was super-sanitized for these shows.  Because of a cleft palate, Wild Bill was originally know as "Duck Bill."  He left his Illinois farm home at 15 after his father died.  (There is a strong possibility that he shot and killed his father.)  He grew a mustache to hide his cleft palate and began calling himself "Wild Bill."  He had a rather bloody, checkered life -- one source called him "a ruffian,..a drunken, swaggering fellow" -- but his legend grew, in part because he was the hero of the first western dime novel.

The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok began on the mutual Radio network in 1951 and starred Guy Madison in the title role and Andy Devine* as Wild Bill's pal, deputy, and comic relief Jingles.  A few months later, the two also began starring in a television show, an oddity by having the radio cast play the same roles on television.  The radio show lasted for 271 episodes, ending in 1956, while the television show continued until 1958 with a total of 113 shows.

Both shows were aimed for kids, although they could also be enjoyed by adults.

Every cowboy star had to have a horse.  Wild Bill had Buckshot and Jingles had Joker.

"A Little Lady in Distress" begins in the Santa Fe office while Wild Bill was away and Deputy Jingles held down the fort.  A little girl named Marybeth comes into the office looking for help.  She ran away from home and is afraid for her father.  When Wild Bill and Jingles investigate they come upon a duplicitous plot.

This episode first aired on May 27, 1953.  It was directed by Bud Pierce from a story by head scriptwriter Larry Hayes.  Charles Lyons was the announcer and Dick Aurandt was on the organ.  As always, the show was sponsored by Kellogg's.


* Of interest to me (and probably no one else) is that Andy Devine's wife of 43 years was Dorothy House.  No relation.


Willie Mae Thornton was born in 1926, one of seven children born to an Alabama baptist minister.   she dropped out of school at an early age when her mother died and went to work, doing -- among other chores -- the cleaning of spittoons at a local bar.  At the age of fourteen, she left home and with the help of Bessie Smith's half-sister Diamond Teeth Mary, got her first professional singing job with a Harlem revue.  Her style was heavily influenced by her early singing in the Bapatist church and by Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie.  Then came the newly popular rhythm and blues style...

He first big hit was "Hound Dog" and she was the first to record that Leiber and Stoller classic.  That recording was to be out-shadowed by the Elvis Presley version three years later.  He career was marked by ups and downs and racial discrimination.  She became an alcoholic and people began to openlt question her sexuality.  Nonetheless, she remained influential and respected among her peers and enjoyed success in Europe.  Her demons finally won out and she was found dead of heart and liver problems in 1984 in a L.A. rooming house.  Her weight had shrunk from 350 pounds to 95 pounds.

Hound Dog Blues:

Ball and Chain:

Everything Gonna Be Alright:

Rock Me:

My Heavy Road:

Down home Shakedown:

Let's Go Get Stoned:

Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out (with Aretha on this great Bessie Smith song):


Born Under a Bad sign:

Little Red Rooster:

Sometime I Have a Heartache:

They Call Me Big Mama:

Wade in the Water:

Unlucky Girl:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Guitar Slim.


The Presidential race will soon be over.  Hopefully everybody will be able to go back to 1948 on the Wayback Machine to cast votes for Howdy Doody.

What's that? 

"No, you're the puppet."

"You're the puppet!"

"You're the puppet!"

"You're the puppet!"...

Speaking of puppets, click on the link below.

Monday, October 24, 2016


The Five Satins.


  • "Jack Ketchum" (Dallas Mayr), Cover.  Suspense.  "Lee is a veteran who came back from war a changed man.  He's haunted and scarred.  And his grip on reality is weakening, especially since his wife and son left him.  He keeps to j\himself, deep in the woods.  But today he's not alone.  A group of campers have intruded on his fragile world.  For Lee this means he's back in the war.  For the unsuspecting visitors it means a fight to stay alive."

Sunday, October 23, 2016


(A very occasional attempt to write a story of 55 words.)

                                                                 EMBODIED SPIRITS

     This was not what he had expected for the afterlife.  No one told him the heaven was a nudist colony.

     After death, he had found himself standing among mist-enshrouded clouds.  A voice behind him was saying, "And then I wrote Bring 'Em Back Alive!..."

     He turned around and saw --

     Good Heavens!  Buck naked!


The election is rigged!

Well, not really.  Candidate He Who Shall not Be Named has a habit of grasping at straws and wacked-out excuses when things don't go his way.  His treatment of women, his cheating of his contractors, his lie of the week day hour, and his outrageous claims -- the only result of his ordering the tide to stop would be to say the ocean was rigged.

It's true that in the past, several Presidential elections have had questionable results:  Bush-Gore and Kennedy-Nixon come to mind.  But Al Gore accepted the supreme Court decision on that election and Richard Nixon felt it would harm the country to protest the results of the Kennedy election.

In 1876, their was another election that was in doubt, one that would be referred to as "The Stolen Election."  Rutherford B. Hayes vs. Samuel Tilden.

For today's lesson in American history, go to the link.


Jim and Jesse McReynolds.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


Harry C. Browne, 1922, with a Stephen Foster song.


This assortment is from Jumbo Comics #9 to #14 (August-September 1939 to April 1940).  "Weird Stories of the Supernatural" began life as "Diary of Dr. Hayward" in Jumbo Comics #1, changing its name and character focus with issue #9, pushing Dr. Haywood back into a supporting role while laboratory assistant Stuart Taylor became the main focus of the series.  The series was illustrated by "Curt Davis," a house name for Fiction House's comic book line.  Jack Kirby drew the first four "Diary of Dr. Haywood" adventures ( three of the stories in the first issue of Jumbo Comics represented Kirby's second foray into comic books), after which Lou Fine continued through issue #14.   Various artists, none of them big names, penciled the series afterward through to issue #140 (October 1950). ( Jumbo Comics itself faded from sight a few years later, a victim of Dr. Frederick Wertham's mania.)

Despite its title, "Weird Stories of the Supernatural" was a time-travel series.  Although many of the adventures had a mystical component, In an early episode. Stuart Taylor, his girlfriend Laura (originally named "Lora" in the first issue), and Dr. Hayward 20,000 to a world where cavemen and dinosaurs both exist and are taken captive by a race of tiger-headed men ruled by the beautiful, heartless queen of a fantastic city.  In other adventures we travel with them to a quasi-medieval desert kingdom to save a princess, to a 14th Century castle to battle a sorcerer, to a future threatened by giant intelligent insects, and also meet an evil green-skinned dwarf who has created half human-half robot giants.  

In these adventures everything but the kitchen sink is thrown in.  And, no matter where in time Stuart and his companions go, everyone -- including the giant insects -- conveniently speak English.  It's all great imaginative fun.

Please note that the first story in this compilation is not reproduced in color.  Sorry about that.


Friday, October 21, 2016


Ella Mae Morse with the Freddie Slack Band, from the film "Reveille with Beverly."


How To Spend Money by "Walter Drummond"  (Robert Silverberg) (1963)

Although best known for his science fiction, Robert Silverberg has published in many areas and under many pseudonyms in his storied career.

As "Walter Drummond," Silverberg wrote two books in the short-lived Regency Books paperback line -- Philosopher of Evil, which was a biography of the Marquis de Sade, and this one, touted as "The complete guide to savoir-faire, and enjoying the most good living for your dollar without losing the chance to make much more."  This fits in with the demographic that many of the men's magazines in the Fifties and Sixties (think Playboy and its ilk) were targeting.  Publisher William Hamling had one such magazine, Rogue, which, like Playboy, was aimed at young men who wanted to picture themselves as successful and sophisticated; some actually were but many were wanna-bes.

(Hamling, who also published soft-core paperback novels under several lines, including Nightstand, Corinth, and Greenleaf, started Regency Books as an upmarket publisher, bringing in Harlan Ellison to work double duty as an editor.  [Ellison moved on about a year at after he helped birth Regency, but other capable editors took over.]  Regency published many notable books during its short lifetime:  a nonfiction by Avram Davidson, nonfiction by Eric Frank Russell, mainstream novels by Philip Jose Farmer and Robert Sheckley, the first collection from Cordwainer Smith, Robert Bloch's Firebug, two Ellison collections, a collection from B. Traven, a quick-and-dirty book about Harry Truman and the Pendergasts from Algis Budrys, and several more.)

How to Spend Money is more interesting to read today than it was in 1963.  It's aimed at the young professional who earns about $14,500 a year -- this was 1963, remember -- and thus has some disposable income and who wants to use that income to enjoy life:  fine dining, travel, good hotels, gracious home living, having a well-stocked bar, and having a secure financial future.  Drummond/Silverberg takes that young professional by the hand as an older brother or kindly uncle would, explaining what works and what doesn't and what is crass and what isn't.  The result -- for me -- is a delightful display of 1960's-era pretentiousness.  (Please note that I have never had to be taught how to spend money.  In my case, it spends itself and I have never had what could be called disposable income.)

Please do not think that Silverberg himself is pretentious.  He is a well-traveled sophisticate who does know fine dining and how to enjoy life but I doubt very much if he has ever talked down to someone in the manner that "Drummond" does.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book although I will take few lessons from it.  The Sixties (and me, in the Sixties) are far different than today.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


The Flamingos.


 Speed Gibson is a fifteen-year-old orphan being raised by his Clint Barlow.    Speed is "a typical American boy:  interested in short wave radio, aviation and most of all -- The International Secret Police."  Clint and his buddy Barney Dunlap happen to work for -- what else? -- The International Secret Police.  A phone call from Headquarters interrupts Speed and Clint's vacation plans with a news case involving The Octopus, a mysterious international criminal,

Speed Gibson of the International Secret Police ran for almost three and a half years, from January 2, 1937 through May 25, 1940.  Speed, Clint, and Barney spend the first one hundred 15-minute episodes traveling the Orient in pursuit of The Octopus.  The remaining 78 episodes, titled "Speed Gibson and the Atlantian Syndicate," have our heroes continue pursuing The Octopus through Africa.  The Octopus is finally captured in the final episode.

The show was written by Virginia Cook and Eliot Lewis (perhaps, but who actually played Speed is not documented) starred Elliot Lewis, who we know played one of the Octopus' henchmen.  Howard McNear played Clint, while John Gibson was cast as his partner Barney.

With cliffhangers galore, the series was packed with excitement, action, thrills, and enjoyment -- enough to keep a youngster glued to the radio.

The link takes you to all 178 episodes.  Start with the first few and see if you will be hooked.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Dave Guard, one of the original Kingston Trio, would have been 82 today.  Here he is with the Whiskeyhill singers, a group he formed in 1961 after he left the Trio.


I though I would post  a time travel joke here, but you didn't like it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


From 1928, here's the great Bessie Smith..


Here's a short film written, directed, produced, and featuring Walt Disney,

Back in the days when Disney was a 22-year-old struggling artist and director, he saw five-year-old Virginia Davis in an advertisement and decided to hire her.  Alice's Wonderland, the first in a series of short live action/cartoon films was shot in the Davis home in Kansas City with a small role going to Virginia's mother, Margaret Davis.  With that film, Walt Disney moved to Hollywood to start his storied climb to stardom.  The Davis family soon followed and Disney put little Virginia under contract for $100 a month and began more "Alice" films, shooting in Disney's uncle's garage with brother Roy Disney handling the camera work.  There were always neighborhood kids around and Walt would hire them as extras for fifty cents apiece.  Walt soon became more interested in animation than with live action and, after thirteen  additional "Alice" films, Virginia's contract expired.  Virginia went on to a number of uncredited roles, ending with 1946's The Harvey Girls.  During this time, she also did some work for Disney, who gave her tips on how to ink and paint.   Virginia married in 1943 and soon left acting to earn a degree in Interior Design.  She then went on to edit a magazine, Living for Young Homemakers.  Later in life she was active in silent film festivals and in Disneyland and Walt Disney World events.  She dies in 2009, age 90.

In Alice's Wonderland, a young girl visits an animation studio where she watches the animators at work and where the cartoon characters come to life and she interacts with them.  Featured in the film are animators Disney (of course), Hugh Harman, Rudolf Isling, and the legendary Ub Iwerks. 


Monday, October 17, 2016


Nothing this week.

But I did get caught up on two favorite series:  Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce novels and Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire novels.  (Okay, I still have to read the Longmire that came out earlier this month, but I'm now well-placed to do so.

Over the years I have bounced back and forth with my most-very-favorite-and-special living authors.  For the past decade or so, it's been these five:  Ed Gorman, Bill Crider, Max Allan Collins, Bill Pronzini, and Joe R. Lansdale.  Now, dammit, I have to fill in a hole in this list.

Who would you recommend?

What are some of you favorite series?

Sunday, October 16, 2016


Roy Rogers.

ED GORMAN, 1941-2016

Ed Gorman was one of the best writers of our time in any genre.  His short stories could go arrow-swift into the heart of the human condition.  Read "The Face" or "The Reason Why."  He was spot-on in portraying middle America in the Fifties and Sixties.  Read his Sam McCain novels.  His knowledge of politics and it's dirty underside are -- if this is the word -- joyous.  Read the Dev Conrad books.  His compassion, enthusiasm, and friendship was important to many, many people.  Read today's post on Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine.

There's a hole in the world that will be hard to fill.


Depending on who you listen to, America will soon/probably soon/no way in hell elect it's first female president.  Of course, women have led great countries -- for both good or ill, but usually for good -- in the past.  I thought it would be interesting to take a brief look at one such woman.

Sources differ, but today may be the 632nd anniversary of the crowning of Jadwiga (or Hedwig or Hedvig) as the King of Poland, even though she was a woman.  Her reign lasted for fifteen years, until her death, and she is generally regarded as one of the greatest rulers of Poland,   Two years into her reign she married Jogaila, the grand duke of Lithuania; although she then shared the throne with him she remained the leading personality in the realm.  It was only after her death that Jogaila could have any authority over the country.  Jawiga's popular rule helped to establish a century old peace in the region through canny alliances and spreading Catholicism.  Her championship of education helped establish Krakow as the center of Polish civilization and influence.  She was canonized in 1997 by Pope John Paul II.

Here's the Wikipedia entry on this extraordinary woman:


The Cathedrals.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


The Four Preps.


Clarence Linden Crabbe II was much more than a gold medalist Olympic swimmer, film and television actor, and swimming pool businessman.  According to this comic book, the "All American Hero" somehow found the time to have some amazing adventures "in the Jungle, on the Range, and thru Space Outer Worlds."  By the time kids read this issue, Buster would be in India with his eight-year-old son "Cuffy" for more adventures.  (Remember "Cuffy"?  He played the kid on Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion.  Nepotism, anyone?)

In the world of comic books, Buster Crabbe began with twelve issues of Buster Crabbe Comics from Eastman Color (1951-1953) and then moved over to Lev Gleason's The Amazing Adventures of Buster Crabbe for four issues.

This issue begins with "The Jungle Talked Back," in which Buster takes a group of young boys for a trip to Africa in the summer of 1948.  One of the boys, 'Tiny" Prince, was almost not allowed to go because of his small size.  Tiny vanishes on the trip and one week later a bloody shirt with Tiny's name on it was found by the river.  Convinced that Tiny is dead and that his body will never be recovered, Buster returns to New York to break the news to the parents.  Fast forward five years...a newspaper story reports that a mysterious white boy has been spotted in the African jungles.  Buster and Tiny's parents head to Africa on the first ship out, a freighter captained by a ruthless drunk.  The captain wrecks the ship and leaves Buster and the Princes to drown.   The captain and his crew land among a tribe of cannibals, which they soon take control of; in the meantime, the three abandoned passengers manage to make it to shore a few miles away where they run into a feral white jungle boy -- Tiny!  Soon Buster and the Princes are captured and are about to be fed to lions.  It's up to Tiny to remember his past and save his parents and Buster.

The next story, "Dead Man's Gold," takes Buster back to the Old West where he is delivering three fierce bulls (trained to attack anything red) that will eventually go to the Mexican bullfights.  Young Chet Waring (in his red shirt, natch) is late for school so he sneaks a ride on the back of Buster's wagon.  When the bulls begin to get antsy, Buster discovers Chet, warns him about his red shirt, and lets him ride up front. Later that day, Buster is getting a shave at Laredo's local barber shop when the crooked McCandless brothers decide to steal the bulls, knowing they could get a thousand dollars apiece for them.  The bulls get loose and chase Jess McCandless up a tree where Buster captures him.  Before Buster can take Jess to jail, however, his brother aims a rifle at Buster.  Enter young Chet, his red shirt, and his knowledge of bullfighting.  The bad brothers then go on to kill Chet's father and rob him.  When Buster brings in one of the brothers, the town's cowardly lawman  lets him go.  It's up to Buster and Chet to bring justice to Laredo.  The story ends with Buster being named sheriff of Laredo.

Did you know Buster was a professor of ichthyology?  He's a man of many talents, that guy.  In "I Cover Mars," the first four expeditions from Mars to Earth led to the death of Martians from Earth's poisonous oxygen atmosphere.  One of the rockets from the fifth expedition goes astray and lands in the Atlantic off the coast of Maine where Buster and his student Johnny are studying marine life from a bathysphere.  The Martians are surprised to find intelligent life on Earth -- intelligent life that lives on land with a poisonous oxygen atmosphere!  Buster helps the government devise a helmet that will allow the Martians to move about Earth, but one of the Martians exhibits a classic case of xenophobia and works to poison his home planet against the Earthmen.  Can interplanetary peace ever become a reality?  Of course, it's all up to Buster.

For one man to do all this -- in the past, the present, and the future -- is mind-boggling.  But, hey, Buster can do just about anything, you know.  I'm convinced.

Read this and you, too, may be convinced that Buster could do anything and everything.

Friday, October 14, 2016


Time to do the polka with Frank Yankovic.


                 Alfred Hitchcock's 14 Suspense Stories to Play Russian Roulette By 
                                                   edited by Alfred Hitchcock (1964)

The legacy of Alfred Hitchcock in mystery fiction lies in the use of his name.  For more than 60 years it has been emblazoned on the masthead of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (currently Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine) and, for over seventy years, far over one hundred anthologies, as well as a a highly popular series of juvenile mysteries by Robert Arthur, "William Arden" (Dennis Lynds), and others.  In 1960, the Mystery Writers of America honored Hitchcock with a Raven Award "for his contributions to the mystery genre" and in 1973 they named him a Grand Master.

Not bad for someone who hadn't written a thing that we know of.

Hitchcock's contribution to the mystery field lays in the films he directed and in the various incarnations of a television anthology show that bore his name (and his well-known introductions).  Knowing the value of publicity and marketing, Hitchcock also licensed the use of his name to both anthologies, the magazine, and the television show.

The first time Hitchcock's name appeared as an "author" was in the introduction to Lee Wright's The Pocket Book of Great Detectives (1941, Pocket Books); whether Hitchcock actually wrote the introduction is unknown.  The first time he was credited as a book editor was with Suspense Stories (1945, Dell, "selected by Alfred Hitchcock").  The actual editor is unknown, although my money is on Don Ward, a free-lance editor and writer with a history with Dell publications.  Ward is generally credited with editing the second Hitchcock anthology, Bar the Doors! ( 1946. also Dell).

Suspense Stories contained 14 stories, as follows:

  • Carl Stephenson, "Leiningen Versus the Ants"
  • Phyllis Bottome, "The Liqueur Glass"
  • A. D. Divine, "Flood on the Goodwins"
  • Hanson Baldwin, "R.M.S. Titanic"
  • Wilbur Daniel Steele, "Blue Murder"
  • "Ralph Milne Farley (Roger Sherman Hoar), "The House of Ecstasy"
  • Capt. William Outerson, "Fire in the Galley Stove"
  • Frank Stockton, "The Lady or the Tiger"
  • Ambrose Bierce, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"
  • Margery Sharp, 'The Second Step"
  • Albert Payson Terhune, " The Blue Paper"
  • James M. Cain, 'The Baby in the Icebox"
  • Ralph Straus, "The Room on the Fourth Floor"
  • Stephen Vincent Benet, "Elementals"
The Stephenson, Stockton, and Bierce are recognizable classics.  The Steel and the Cain are among those authors best-known stories.  Bottome, Sharp, Terhune and Benet were well-respected authors in their time.  Farley was best known for his science fiction writings.  I'm afraid I know little about the remaining four authors, although the Straus story has been reprinted a few times.

Third Alfred Hitchcock anthology (and the first hardbound collection) was Alfred Hitchcock's Fireside Book of Suspense Stories (1947, Simon and Schuster).  It contained 27 stories -- eleven of which were cannibalized from Suspense Stories, omitting the Steele, Stockton, and Bierce stories.
The remaining sixteen stories are:
  • Perceval Gibbon, 'The Second-Class Passenger"
  • Grahame Greene, "The News in English"
  • Edwin Corle, "If You Don't Get Excited"
  • Donald Henderson, 'The Alarm Bell"
  • Ross Santee, "With Baited Breath"
  • Sidney Herschel Small, "Sunset"
  • John Dickson Carr, "The Hangman Won't Wait"
  • "William Irish" (Cornell Woolrich), "After-Dinner Story"
  • John Metcalfe, "The Tunnel"
  • Allan Vaughan Elston, "Triggers in Leash"
  • Harold Lamb, "The Three Good Witnesses"
  • T. P. Beechcroft, "The Ringed World"
  • Robert Bloch, "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper"
  • Lord Dunsany, "The Two Bottles of Relish"
  • "Ex-Private X" (A. M. Burrage), "Smee"
  • W. W. Jacobs, "His Brother's Keeper"
Again, we have recognizable classics (Bloch, Dunsany), authors well-known today (Greene, Carr, Irish), and well-known authors of the time (Gibbon, Santee, Metcalfe, Elston, Lamb, Jacobs).  The Burrage and the Beechcroft stories have been reprinted several times.  Corle, Henderson, and Small are authors I'm not familiar with.

So, at last we come to Alfred Hitchcock's 14 Suspense Stories to Play Russian Roulette By, which is a 1965 Dell Reprint of Suspense Stories, dropping the Stephenson story and adding C. B. Gilford's
"Never Kill for Love", a tale from the April 1960 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.

It's interesting to note that although Hitchcock's movies and television show filmed works by a number of the 31 authors listed above, only two of the stories listed were adapted for Alfred Hitchcock Presents:  Allan Vaughan Elston's "Triggers in Leash" (aired October 16, 1955) and Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (aired December 20, 1959)

All three books are available from the usual suspects.  Any of the three are worth your time.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Marty Robbins.


From January 18, 1935, comes this tale of romance and money-making.  Lum, Abner, and the denizens of Pine Ridge, Arkansas were on the airwaves for twenty-three years.



(I'm a day late with this.  And to compound this heinous transgression, I'm using a nerdy math joke.)

I poured my root beer into a square glass and now it's just beer.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


The Hi-Tombs.


Oliver Goldsmith's classic novel gets the truncated treatment in this silent movie directed by Theodore Marston, taking a 215-page novel and condensing it to ten and a half minutes.  Was anything lost in the process?  You tell me.

Monday, October 10, 2016


Sorry.  This isn't the B. B. King version.  This is the heavy funk version by Johnny Holiday.  Forgive me.


  • Simon R. Green, The Unnatural Inquirer.  P.I. fantasy, the eighth in the author's Nightside series.  In this outing, P.I.  John Taylor is ;'offered one million pounds to find a man who claims to have evidence of the Afterlife stored on a DVD...Troubkle is, someone else -- someone very powerful -- is on the trail, too."
  • Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, Necrochip.  The third detective Inspector Bill Slider mystery.  Slider has a new superior, Detective Superintendent "Mad Ivan" Barrington, who is determined to be new broom in the department.   "It's all par for the course for Detective Inspector bill Slider as he faces the unhygienic fact of a dismembered corpse in a catering establishment -- and is plunged into the sort of seedy underworld a sensitive chap would sooner avoid."  This book has also been published under the title Death To Go.  The eighteenth book in the Slider series was published last year.
  • Michael Moorcock, Von Beck.  Dark fantasy omnibus.  This is the second of at least fifteen omnibus editions in The Eternal Champion series.  This one includes novels The War Hound and the World's Pain, A City in the Autumn Stars, and  The Dragon in the Sword, as well as the short story (originally published under the "James Colvin" pseudonym) "The Pleasure Garden of Felipe Sagittarius."  Moorcock's Eternal Champion saga is a convoluted and interlocking tapestry of stories that it is difficult to assign each piece to a specific category, thus this omnibus does not contain all the stories about Von Beck and his family and The Dragon in the Sword is often placed in another sub-series.  Anyway, the stories in this volume from 1995 were revised by the author.
  • Oliver Onions, The Collected Ghost Stories of Oliver Onions.  Massive ghost story collection (689 pages) with 19 stories.  Onions (1873-1961) was the popular author of over 40 novels published during the first half of the 20th century, all of which are pretty much forgotten.  Not forgotten, however, are many of his ghost stories, especially the classic "The Beckoning Fair One" (1911).  And yes, his last name is pronounce the same as the root vegetable.
  • M. P. Shiel, The Best Short Stories of M. P. Shiel.  Fantasy/mystery collection with twelve stories selected by Shiel's friend and literary executor, the poet "John Gawsworth" (T. I. Fytton Armstrong).  The collection includes three Prince Zaleski stories and one Cummings King Monk story among the contents, along with some of the author's better- (and lesser-) known stories.  Shiel was an odd duck whose novels The Purple Cloud, The Lord of the Sea, and How the Old Woman Got Home are probably most familiar to modern audiences.  Shiel claimed to be king (King Felipe) of Redonia, an uninhabited and small rocky isle in the West Indies, having been (supposedly) crowned such on his fifteenth birthday. (Whether Shiel actually believed this -- or used this as a lifelong hoax -- is open to question.) After his death, the "title" was passed on to Gawsworth.  Young girls (or child-like women) were featured in a number of his works and it was recently discovered that a prison term Shiel had spent supposedly for fraud was actually for the statutory rape of a twelve-year-old girl.  His predilection for young girls caused problems in his second marriage while he was living off her income.  He was not a nice man.
  • Dan Simmons, Ilium.  Far future SF epic novel.  "The Trojan War rages at the foot of Olympos Mons on Mars -- observed and influenced from on high by Zeus and his immortal family -- and twenty-first century professor Thomas Hockenberry is there to play a role in the insidious private wars of vengeful gods and goddesses.  On Earth, a small band of the few remaining humans pursues a lost past and devastating truth -- as four sentient machines depart from Jovian space to investigate, perhaps terminate, the potentially catastrophic emissions emanating from a mountaintop miles above the terraformed surface of the Red Planet."  This one was a Locus Award winner and came in second (to Lois McMaster Bujold's Paladin of Souls) for a Hugo.  Nobody works this kind of literary magic like Simmons.  The cycle, inspired in part by Homer, was continued in Olympos, a Locus Award nominee, coming in second place to Charles Stross' Accelerando.

Sunday, October 9, 2016


The Prague astronomical clock was installed in 1410 on the southern wall of the Old Town Hall in Prague's Old Town Square.  It was the third such clock in the world and the oldest one still operating.   The oldest part of the clock was made by Mikulas of Kadan, a clockmaker, and Jan Sindel, who would later teach mathematics and astronomy at Charles University.  Some eighty years later a calendar dial was added, as well as gothic decorations.  Over the years, other features -- statues, figures of the apostles, a crowing rooster -- were added.  The clocks astronomical dial shows the position of the sun and the moon.  "The Walk of the Apostles" features moving statues, including Death striking the hour.  The calendar dial shows the months.

The video below shows the 600th anniversary celebration of the clock on this date in 2010.



From 1930, Elder Curry & His Congregation.

Saturday, October 8, 2016




Detective Denny Colt was supposedly killed in the first story of The Spirit (June 2, 1940), but he was actually put into suspended animation by the evil Cobra.  When he woke up in a cemetery, he decided to use his apparent death to adopt the crime-fighting persona of The Spirit.

The Spirit began as a 16-page newspaper comic book insert -- the first eight pages (later to be seven, then twelve pages) containing a Spirit adventure, followed by other comic books stories, usually about Mr. Mystic or Lady Luck.  "The Spirit Section" eventually ran in 20 newspapers (with about five million readers), ending in 1952.

Eisner himself was drafted in late 1941 and the government gave him about six months to wrap up his affairs, so this episode was probably written by ghost writers hired by the The Register and Tribute Syndicate newspapers (the distributors of the comic book), most likely either Manly Wade Wellman or William Woolfolk.  Throughout the run of the comic book, a number of artists assisted Eisner, including Jack Cole, Jules, Feiffer, and Wally Wood -- Cole or Lou Fine are the most likely candidates for pencilers for this issue.

Let's travel back almost three-quarters of a century for a look at one of the greatest comic book characters ever.  As a bonus, S. R. Powell's Mr. Mystic tackles a Fascist spy in a story narrated by a dog!


Friday, October 7, 2016


As Bill Crider is wont to say, when will the persecution stop?  Here's Paris Hilton.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


Quicker Than the Eye by Ray Bradbury (1996)

Ah, Ray Bradbury, what can we do with you?

Were you the poet laureate of memory or a purveyor of bloated and saccharine emotion?  Or were you both and, if so, was that necessarily a bad thing?  Many of your early stories burned themselves into our brains with a heat higher than 451 degrees F.  But your later many of them can we name the way we can name stories like "The Veldt," "There Will Come Soft Rains," "The October Game," or "Uncle Einar"?

I think the problem with Bradbury is that he remembered.  He remembered what it was like to be a child who looks at the world with wonder.  Bradbury has famously said that he remembers being born, the trauma of being pushed out of the womb.  This may or may not be true but I'm sure he believed it.  He wrote every day.  Stories, poems, plays...some of what he wrote was published; other pieces may have been too personal or -- perhaps -- not good enough for publication.  Some went into a drawer lest he flood the markets with his work.  A portion of the drawer stuff was used to pad out many of his later collections, not necessarily a bad thing.

Bradbury has always been best as a short story writer, where incident can hold reign over plot and where stilted dialogue can be forgiven amongst the sweep and grandeur of his words.  Bradbury evokes emotion.  He brings us back to childhood, a childhood of both fears and an awed wonder of a mysterious and wonderful world, a childhood where we breathe the mystery and the wonder deeply and accept that breath as our natural due.  Bradbury exorcises our modern traumas and brings all of us back to the Greentown, USA of our collective psyche.  He may do it in a overwrought manner but he does it and that's the important thing.

Quicker Than the Eye was Bradbury's first new collection in almost a decade following 1988's The Toynbee Convector -- a long time for Bradbury fans to wait.  (In the intervening years he produced to essay collections, a mystery novel, a novelized fix-up of some of his Irish stories, and dozens of episode of The Ray Bradbury Theater.)  It contains twenty-one stories, twelve of which (according to the copyright page) were previously published.  (But don't believe it.  The hand is quicker than the eye and the magician holds all the cards.  At least one story supposedly original to this collection, "The Electrocution," was published first in a magazine in 1946 and later in a 1980 chapbook with another story.  Another story, "The Very Gentle Murders," likely also saw earlier publication.)

Here's the line-up:

  • "Unterderseaboat Doktor" (from Playboy, January 1994)
  • "Zaharoff/Richter Mark V"
  • "Remember Sascha?"
  • "Another Fine Mess" (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1995) 
  • "The Electrocution" (supposedly original to this collection but first published in The Californian, August 1946)
  • "Hopscotch"
  • "The Finnegan" (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,  October 1996)
  • "That Woman on the Lawn" (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1996)
  • "The Very Gentle Murders" (supposedly original to this collection but ISFDb indicates a 1994 publication, source unknown)
  • "Quicker Than the Eye" (from Tales of the Impossible, edited by Janet Berliner and David Copperfield, 1995)
  • "Dorian in Excelsus" (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1995)
  • "No News, or What Killed the Dog?" (from American Way, October 1994)
  • "The Witch Door" (from Playboy, December 1995)
  • "The Ghost in the Machine"
  • "At the End of the Ninth Year" (from American Way, January 1995)
  • "Bug"
  • "Once More, Legato" (from Omni, Fall 1995)
  • "Exchange"
  • "Free Dirt" (from American Way, October 15, 1996)
  • "Last Rites" (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 1994)
  • "The Other Highway"
  • "Make Haste To Live, An Afterward"
Here is the wonder that was Bradbury.  Stories that can speak to the soul.  Stories whose faults are also their strengths.  Stories that may unknowingly stay with you, lurking deep inside to strengthen your appreciation of the glorious world around you.  I don't think Bradbury ever grew up, so why should you?


Robert Johnson, the guy who supposedly made a deal with the devil at a crossroads.


Laugh along with 'Scalping Baseball Tickets."

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Our new cat was trying to watch a movie on DVD but was getting very frustrated.  Turns out he had the movie on paws.


We found the snake at 7:03 this morning!  She was cold and thirsty but nonplussed about her adventure.  To celebrate, here's Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Sometime during the night, granddaughter Amy's python escaped her cage and is now lurking somewhere around our house.  We've been looking and searching, and shifting things but -- so far -- no snake!  I'm sure she will show up in time.

In the meantime, I am reminded (don't know why) of this Shel Silverstein piece.


Mexico may have its masked wrestlers and its Aztec mummies, but Brazil has its Coffin Joe, or Ze do Caixao.  Coffin Joe is the alter ego of actor and director Jose Mojica Marins.  Coffin Joe made his debut in 1963's At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul.  Coffin Joe is evil, amoral, and obsessed with trying to find the "perfect" bride and he leaves a lot of corpses behind in his quest.  He has been featured in film, television, songs, videos, and comic books.

Surprisingly, Coffin Joe is not featured in The Strange World of Coffin Joe.  The movie instead is a compilation of three shorter exploitation films written and directed by Marins.

Hold on to your hat, this is going to be a wild ride!

Monday, October 3, 2016


The Four Vagabonds.


  • Martin H. Greenberg & Charles G. Waugh, editors, Vamps. Vampire anthology with 18 stories, some from newer writers (Stephen King, Tanith lee), some from older writers (Robert Bloch, Manly Wade Wellman, William Tenn), some from mucho older writers (Julian Hawthorne, F. Marion Crawford, Theophile Gautier, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Sheridan LeFanu).  A lot of familiar stories here.
  • Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Acorna's Rebels.  SF novel. the eighth in the Acorna (The Unicorn Girl) series.  "acorna's people, the Linyaari, have begun reclaiming their homeworld from the ravages of the brutal Khleevi.  But the first wave of explorers has unlkocked a larger mystery about the origins of the Linyaari -- one that has led Aari, Acorna's beloved lifemate, on a dangerous journey from which he may never return."
  • Frederik Pohl, The Boy Who Would Live Forever.  Fixup SF novel in the Gateway/Heechee series.  "Stan and Estrella, two young people from Earth, journey to the Gateway asteroid looking for adventure, and discover each other during a flight on a Heechee ship.  they settle among the Heechee on a planet in the galactic core, never suspecting that the two of them may be the last, best hope to save the humans and Heechee in the core from destruction be a crazed madman."  Pohl was one of the most consistently good SF writers of the last sixty-five years.
  • John Ringo & Brian M Thomsen, editors, Citizens.  A posthumous (for Thomsen) military SF anthology with 15 stories written by (mostly) familar writers who have served in the military.  Every anthology has to have a hook, right?  Luckily, the stories (at least those I'm familiar with) are first-rate.
  • Dan Simmons, Black Hills.  Supernatural thriller, and much more.  Another big, fat book (618 pages) from Simmons, this time he ranges from the Battle of Little Big Horn to the creation of the Mt. Rushmore monument.  Every Simmons book is an event.
  • Jon Tuska, editor, The Lawless West and The Untamed West.  Western anthologies with three novellas by Louis L'Amour, Zane Grey, and Max Brand in each.  Tuska, who dies earlier this year, was a knowledgable editor and literary agent in the western field; his passing left a great hole.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and Ching Shih...If you meet any of these ladies on a cruise, RUN!


From 1956, a 14-year-old Aretha.

Saturday, October 1, 2016


Richie Valens.


Stories by Famous Authors Illustrated... was published by Seaboard Publishing and lasted for 13 issues, providing competition for the elephant in the room, the much bigger and better known Classics Illustrated.  Not only did Seaboard usurp the concept from Classics Illustrated, but it used some of the same artists, angering Albert Kanter (the owner of CI ) who bought the tiny, pesky competition.  What was to be Stories by Famous Authors Illustrated...#14 (The Red Badge of Courage) was published as Classics Illustrated #98, perhaps the thinnest comic book in that line because the story (following Seaboard's usual length) was only 32 pages long.

A major exception to the 32-page length was issue #7, which came out 52 pages.  This issue also differed from the others by featuring a story that was a bit unlike anything else Seaboard published in the series, which had previously adapted The Scarlet Pimpernel. Captain Blood, She, The Thirty-Nine Steps, Beau Geste, and Macbeth, and would go on to adapt Hamlet, Nicholas Nickelby, Romeo and Juliet, Ben Hur, Svengali, and Scaramouche.  Also, The Window was adapted from a movie, RKO's 1949 adaptation of Cornell Woolrich's "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" (Mystery Book Magazine, March 1947). 

The film starred twelve-year-old Bobby Driscoll, Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy, Ruth Roman, and Paul Stewart.  Directed by Ted Tetzlaff from a script by Mel Dinelli, the movie was actually shot in 1947 but was shelved by studio head Howard Hughes for two years.  Woolrich's original story was later published under the title "Fire Escape" in his pseudonymous collection  Dead Man's Blues by "William Irish."; it has been republished several times, most notably in two anthologies edited by Bill Pronzini.  A proposed remake of the film eventually morphed into 1984's Cloak & Dagger, featuring Henry Thomas and Dabney Coleman.

Back to Stories by Famous Authors Illustrated...:  Tommy Woodry is a young boy prone to exaggeration and telling stories.  His world of make-believe included, cowboys, Indians, gangsters, and whatever else his vivid imagination could conjure.  Of course, no one believes his tales and the adults get very tired of his fabulations.  So when Tommy is the only witness to a murder he is not believed.  Except by the killer.

Woolrich's tale for the comic book was adapted by Dana Dutch and drawn by Henry Keifer (perhaps the best-known of the artists who were poached from Classics Illustrated).

Enjoy this bit of comic book noir.