Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Glenn Miller.


Late one night my brother was speeding on a country road when he was pulled over by a policeman.  The cop said, "Do you know how fast you were going?"

He replied, "No officer, I was too busy trying to get away from the robbery to notice."

The policeman became very concerned.  "You mean someone was trying to rob you?"

"Oh, no," my brother chuckled.  "I was the one doing the robbing."


"Yeah, I have the loot in the trunk of the car.  It's right next to my wife's body."

At this point the policeman drew his gun.  He said, "Let me see some identification, fella!"

My brother sighed.  "I would, officer, but my identification is in the glove compartment but I don't want to open it because then you'd find the illegal guns I have stored there."

The cop ordered my brother out of the car and, gun still drawn, he handcuffed him and locked him in the back seat of his patrol car.  Only after that was done did he call for backup.  Soon the place was crawling with cops.

One cop, obviously the most senior of those there, pulled my brother out of the patrol car and said, "This officer said you committed a robbery, have the loot locked in your trunk along with your wife's body, and that you have several illegal guns in your glove compartment."

My brother looked that cop right in the eye and said, "And I bet that lying son of a bitch said I was speeding, too!"

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


The not-quite immortal P.D.Q. Bach is nowhere near as immortal as Johannes Sebastian Bach, but that's not from a lack of effort from Peter Schickele.

Enjoy this near-classic piece of non-classical music.


Veteran actor Fritz Weaver died this Saturday.  He was 90.  A consciencous objector, Weaver served in Civilian Public Service during World War II.  He began acting in the early Fifties.  He garnered a Tony nomination as Best Featured Actor in a Play for The Chalk Garden -- his first Broadway role.  He later won a Tony for Best Actor in 1970 for Child's Play.  He appeared in many films, including Fail-Safe, Marathon Man, and Black Sunday.  Weaver made a gazillion television appearances in a gazillion shows and may be best remembered for his portrayal of Dr. Joseph Weiss in 1978's miniseries Holocaust.  (He also had the distinction of playing the first ever T.H.R.U.S.H. agent to appear on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.)  Often cast in character actor roles, Weaver brought a sense of dignity and professionalism to much of his work.

For an episode in Roald Dahl's chilling anthology series Way Out, Weaver was part of a talented cast that also included Henry Jones, Mildred Dunnick, and Barnard Hughes.  "William and Mary" was written by Dahl, based on his own short story.  Marc Daniels, who already earned his directing chops on such series as The Ford Theater Hour, I Love Lucy (he was the one who suggested Vivian Vance for the role of Ethel Mertz), and I Married Joan, directed.  Over his career, Daniels directed such hit shows as Star Trek, Marcus Welby, M.D., Hogan's Heroes, and Alice.

"William and Mary" first aired on March 31, 1961.


Monday, November 28, 2016


The Doobie Brothers.


No incoming books this week but, because of the Thanksgiving holiday, there were a goodly amount of pies incoming...cherry, pecan, pumpkin*, sweet potato, wild berry and pear*, and blueberry,   And pies are like books -- you can never have enough!  Yum!

* Made by my granddaughter Amy.  Fantastically good!

Sunday, November 27, 2016


A TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson. Robinson is a Professor Emeritus at Warwick University and a leading proponent on education in the arts.  Among his many honors are the George Peabody Medal, the Benjamin Franklin Medal, the Gordon Parks Award, and the Arthur C. Clarke Imagination Award.

A serious TED Talk that is also seriously funny.


Willie Nelson.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


(I'm late with this.  It should have been posted Thursday, but Thursday was Thanksgiving.  Normally, I'm  distracted by bright shiny things, but this time I was distracted by turkey and pie.  C'est la vie.)

The Crests were a doo-wop group (and the first interracial vocal group in the United States) formed in the late Fifties by J. T. Carter, with original members Talmadge Gough, Harold Torres, Patricia Van Dross (sister of Luther Vandross), and lead singer Johnny Mastrangelo, who changed his name first to Johnny Mastro, then to Johnny Maestro, but sometimes recorded as "Johnny Masters."  The group's first hit was 1957's "Sweetest One," followed the next year by "16 Candles," which soared to number 2 on the charts.

As with many other groups, the line-up kept changing.  Patricia Van Dross left the group in 1958.  Johnny Maestro left in 1961, later forming the group Johnny Maestro and the Crests,and then became the lead singer for the Del Satins.  Tony Middleton came in to take over the lead, but his one single failed to hit the Top 100 -- a first for the group.  Lead vocals were then taken over by James Ancrum.  Gough left the group and was replaced by Gary Lewis (no, not that Gary Lewis).  According to Wikipedia, "By the late 1960s, Torres was gone;" whether he left the group or died is unclear.  Carter, Ancrum, and Lewis continued with the group until 1978 when the group disbanded and Carter moved on the The Drifters.  He reformed the group in 1980 with an entirely new line-up and, in the late Nineties he sold the trademark "The Crests' to Tommy Marasciullo (a.k.a Tommy Mara) who has continued the group.  This year Carter formed a new group as J.T. Carter's "Crests," performing to a sold out crowd.

Whatever the line-up, whatever the name, The Crests produced some great music.

"The Angels Listened In"

"16 Candles"

"Sweetest One"

"It Must Be Love'

"Earth Angel"

"Step by Step"

 "In the Still of the Night"

"My Juanita"

"No One to Love"

"Did I Remember"

"Paper Crown"


Scream Comics began around 1944 as a magazine featuring funny kids, funny animals, funny jokes, and puzzles.  By the second issue the words "FUNNY PICTURE STORIES" were emblazoned across the front cover.  The first fifteen issues featured little pranksters on the covers, but all that changed with issue 16 which had a beautiful red headed teenage girl with a Veronica Lake hairstyle on the cover.  She had on a two-piece sun suit as she relaxed in a field with a bottle of soda pop, and text proclaiming, "Introducing LILY-BELLE from the deep south, sur!"  Scream Comics had officially gone from funny kids to funny teenagers, most likely in the hopes of capturing some of the Archie Comics market.  It didn't work.  Scream Comics soon folded after issue #19.

The last four issues, however, gave us an overabundance of supposedly funny high school teenagers.  Unfortunately, the writers, artists, and editors of this comic book had no clue on how to compete with Archie Andrews and company.  The plots were thin and unfunny and the high school boys were homely, geeky, conniving, and often mean-spirited.  The one saving grace were the high school girls.  They were beautiful and voluptuous, often drawn to push their ample bosoms forward.  Even the freshman girls -- who should have been 13 or 14 -- had Jane Russell bodies.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, from a sexist point of view, that is.  And at least some of the girls had brains and grit.  Only a few were shallow.

Lily-Belle was the only girl to be featured in a story.  The remaining four stories in the comic book  each featured a very forgettable (and sometimes distasteful) character, be it Andy, Orville, Adelbert, or Ernie.

If you decide to read it at the link below, at least enjoy the Good Girl Art.

Friday, November 25, 2016


Phoenix Without Ashes by Harlan Ellison (2011)

Come, sit around me by the fire, children.  Let me tell you a cautionary tale about those b*st*rds in charge of making television shows...

Once upon a time there was a writer named Harlan.  He was a darned good writer and had won many awards, but he also had a bad rep because he was always insisting on quality (this is known as tilting at windmills, children, and it can be a very frustrating thing, indeed).  Back in the days when everyone was younger, a television producer came up to Harlan and asked him to come up with an idea for a science fiction television series to pitch to BBC in hopes that they would co-produce the show.  Harlan suggested a "generational starship" premise.  (Now generational starships as a plot device have been around since the days when everyone was much, much younger, but this generational starship was to be BIIGGG, big enough to explore a different culture every week BIIGGG.)  Alas, the BBC said, "Sorry, guv."  The producer then decided to take the show through the syndication route, eventual selling it to a number of NBC stations and to Canada's CTV network.  And Canada would give the producer lots of money if the show was filmed there and used a lot of Canadian talent.  So Canadian writers were hired to rewrite Harlan's script and Harlan's good buddy Ben Bova was hired as a science adviser for the series.  (A science adviser for a television series is like a science adviser for the Republican Party -- no one listens.)  And the budget was cut here and the budget was cut there and Harlan's BIIGGG idea was whittled down to manageable size and it lost its scope and power and Harlan was p*ssed  and said that, instead of putting Halran's name on the credits, the name "Cordwainer Bird" should be used -- because, when you are p*ssed it is somewhat satisfying to flip someone the "Cordwainer."  And Harlan walked away and nobody liked the show and it sank after only 16 episodes and many people thought that 16 episodes was 16 too many.  The end.

Well, not quite.  Harlan's original script won the Writer's Guild Award for Best Original Screenplay, so take that, you television industry Luddites!  And Ben Bova wrote a satirical book based on his experiences with the show and the sad tale of ineptness cut to the bone.  And then Harlan and Ed Bryant published a novel adaptation of the original script titled Phoenix Without Ashes in 1975.  (Although Ellison's name was on the book, I understand that most -- if not all -- of the novelization was written by Bryant.)  Then in 2010, Ellison rewrote the novel in graphic novel form, giving "Special thanks to Ed Bryant for his invaluable assistance.'  And that graphic novel is my Forgotten Book for this week.

The graphic novel and film are both visual media and, in this case, the graphic novel captures some of the wonder that had been in Harlan Ellison's original script.  Illustrator Alan Robinson and colorist Kote Carvajal have combined their talents to give us some scope of this universe, at times seeming vast and, at others, claustrophobic.  And Ellison?  Well, Ellison's simple approach to the story magnifies the concept.

The year is 2785.  Centuries before, Earth faced destruction from some unknown force.  To save humanity, a vast starship containing hundreds of interconnected biodomes was built to bring humanity to a new planet.  Each biodome extended at least fifty miles across and each was people by a different culture.  Early in the voyage however, an accident happened, the starship's crew were killed, the starship veered off course, and each biodome was sealed off.  In the five hundred years since that accident, the various cultures in the biodomes lost their histories and each developed in unplanned ways.

Devon is a young man in a biodome that originally supported a 18th century agrarian society that has now become rigid, patriarchal culture, deeply religious, and ruled by a demanding God through Elder Micah.  God has ruled that young Rachel is to marry Garth, Devon's best friend.  Now, Garth does not love Rachel and Rachel does not love Garth.  In fact, Rachel and Devon love each other.  But what are you going to do?  If God decrees something, you've got to do it, right?  But Devon is a stubborn guy and begins making a squawk, saying that God must be wrong (aa well as finding proof that Elder Micah is a fraud).  Before you say, "Religion is the opiate of the masses," Devon is locked up and sentenced to be stoned to death.  Devon escapes and somehow finds his way to a corridor that hooks his biodome to others, where a friendly computer clues him in on what's what.  Devon returns to his biodome, determined to bring the truth to his people and we all know how that is going to turn out.  Devon and Rachel flee, followed by Garth.

A simple story against an impressive backdrop told with power and imagination makes for a quick and impressive read.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Today and every day I am thankful for so many blessings...Kitty, our girls, our grandchildren, out home, our friends, the sky, the plants, the water, even my aching joints...

This year, more than ever, I am grateful to be living in America.  Even in these challenging times, I look to the future in hope.  Here are three songs that encapsulate my feelings for the promise of a new day.



Happy Thanksgiving!

One of the many things I am thankful for is Stan Freberg.  

He's never been better than with Stan Freberg's America.  For fans, here's a chance  to experience it again.  And for those who have never listened to it, what are you waiting for?


Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Nat King Cole.


For Thanksgiving Week, we present a drive-in double bill feature, The Brain That Wouldn't Die ( 1962) and The Head (1959).

In Brain, beautiful Jan Compton (soon to be Jan in a Pan), played by Virginia Leith, loses her head when she is decapitated in an automobile accident,  Luckily (?) Jan is engaged to brilliant surgeon Bill Cortner (Jason Evers, here as Herb Evers) who has been illegally experimenting with transplanting heads on human subjects.  (Nice guy.)   Bill manages to 'rescue" Jan's head and keeps it alive until he can find a suitable body for it.  Of course, a suitable body has to belong to a beautiful model.  How unfortunate for Doris (Adele Lamont), who happened to have a disfigured face but a wowser of a body.  There's strippers, a cat fight, and a monster in the closet.  An Elvira and MST3K  classic!

Although Virginia Leith's films include Violent Saturday and A Kiss Before Dying, her career's high point was this cult classic role.  Jason Evers had a busy career in television, including features roles as Picairn in Wrangler, Joseph Howe in Channing, and James Sonnett in The Guns of Will Sonnett, but like Virginia Leith, he is probably best known for The Brain That Wouldn't Die.  Adele Lamont's film career was short; she appeared in one television episode in 1959 and one in 1960 and in this movie.  Since The Brain That Couldn't Die was filmed in 1959, although released in 1963, her career was actually very short.

The Brain That Wouldn't Die was directed by Joseph Green, who ran the very small film distribution  Joseph Green Company.  (When I say small I mean that Green also answered the phone.)  This was the first of two movies he would direct.  He also wrote the screenplay for this (his only one) and is credited with the original story (with Rex Carlton).

The Head is a thematic companion piece to The Brain That Wouldn't Die.  In this badly dubbed German film, Professor Abel (Michel Simon) has been transplanting dog heads because...because why not?  When his heart gives out, scientist Dr. Ood (Horst Frank) perfects a serum to keep Abel's head alive.  Need I mention that Ood is mad?  There's also a murderess (who is also a stripper) whose perfect body would be a good swap for a woman with a damaged spine.  Head Abel has no success in trying to reason with Mad Ood.  Good girl Irene and her new stripper body tries to escape Ood's clutches.  And any sexy shots have been deleted from the film, if they ever existed in the first place.

Michel Simon was a big star in France but some tainted makeup had temporarily partially paralyzed his face and body.  Desperate for work, he agreed to do this flick, knowing that they would basically use only his face and assuming that the (very) low budget film would sink without a trace.  But assumptions are notoriously untrustworthy and the film was a hit all over Europe.  Quel domage.

Top heighten your drive-in experience there are previews, and intermission, ads for the snack bar, requests not to honk during the show and to also keep your headlights off until you exit the theater.


And there's a cartoon.  And that's why I'm featuring this on Thanksgiving week.  It's a Thanksgiving carton by Tex Avery.


And enjoy your turkey (and these two turkeys)!

Monday, November 21, 2016


Jefferson Airplane.


  • Edward S. Aarons, Don't Cry, Beloved.  Cold War espionage thriller.  Phil Royce is the security chief for a classified military project in the New Mexico desert.  A boring job, sure, but it led to his meeting Sarah.  But their affair was "an invitation to death and dishonor.'  Aaron, best known for the long-running Sam Durell, also penned over thirty standalone thrillers and mysteries, many of them paperback originals.
  • "John Benteen" (Ben Haas), Sundance:  The Bronco Trail.  The sixth book in the adult western series  about a "Man of Violence."  "The Tucson Ring, a group of greedy business men,. were getting fat on keeping the Indian Wars alive in Arizona Territory.  One of their plans was to keep Geronimo on the loose by supplying him with whiskey and ammo.  General Crook had a plan to stop them, and Jim Sundance was part of his plan.  He said to Jim,'I want you to go to Arizona.  I want you to find out who's selling whiskey and guns to Geronimo.  I want you to bring Geromino in for good.'  The fate of the whole Apache nation hung on the answer Sundance was to give General Crook."  Gee, I wonder what the answer was.
  • Michael Bishop, editor, Nebula Awards 24.  SF anthology.  The Nebula Awards are sponsored by The Science Fiction Writers of America for the best science fiction (and fantasy) published in a given year.  This edition covers 1988.  Here are winners from Connie Willis, George Alec Effinger, and James Morrow, as well as stories from several runners-up, poetry from the Rhysling Award winners of the year, appreciations for 1988's Grand Master Ray Bradbury, along with an original poem by Bradbury, and a number of essays -- including one each memorializing Clifford D. Simak and Robert A. Heinlein.  A meaty collection.
  • Merle Constiner, Outrage at Bearskin Forks/Short-trigger Man.  An "Ace Tall Ten Western," repackaged from two earlier Ace editions.In the first book, Charles Wheeler, a cattle dealer, returned home from a trip to find his young son dead in his table, and both gold and horses missing.  Tracks from the scene led to the notorious Simmons Gang.  wheeler follows the tracks, bent on revenge.  In the second, Watts Denning had hung up his guns six years before to follow the life of a roving bartender.  Hired to go Folshee, Montana, to tend bar and to watch over the owner's son, Denning finds a much different -- and deadlier -- situation waiting for him.
  • Margaret & John Harris, The Medicine Whip.  Western.  "Like Primrose, other men had underestimated Bradon's strength without his 20-foot whip.  Steve Chard, a ruthless army major, claimed Bradon was a coward without it.  When Chard and Bradon made the long hazardous trip to save Fort Gillam from disaster, Chard was out to prove to the world that Bradon was less than a man.  And for Chard and Bradon, there was still another prize to battle for -- the lovely Tracy Brown, a girl so spirited that she made the terrifying trip to Fort Gillam with the two men who loved her, and there faced the deadly vengeance of 2,000 savage Indians!"
  • Harry Harrison & Malcolm Edwards, Spacecraft in Fact and Fiction.  Coffee table book chock full of art and photographs detailing spacecraft as portrayed in proto-science fiction, pulp science fiction, motion pictures, historical photographs, space race photos, and planned, proposed, and imagined space vehicles.  The text is pretty good, too.
  • Marvin Kaye, The Stein and Day Handbook of Magic.  How to be a professional magician in 19 easy chapters.  (Well, not how I could be a magician, because I am all fumble fingers.)  Kaye is perhaps best known as an anthologist and editor, although he has also published some interesting SF and mystery novels.
  • Barry Malzberg, Phase IV.  Movie tie-in novel.  "Is there a creature who could challenge man's supremacy on earth?"  (Well, yeah.)  "The answer came one hot day when a horde of ants turned a thriving city into a ghost town.  Then it was only a matter of time until the final confrontation.  The terrible battle pitted the human race against a formidable insect civilization that far surpassed Man's paltry brain and weapons!"  A fairly trite premise that made a fairly trite film.  I suspect this early Malzberg is not top-notch.
  • Robert J. Randisi, Lancaster's Orphans.  Western.  "It certainly wasn't what Lancaster had expected.  When he rode into Council Bluffs, he thought he thought he would just stop at the bar for a beer.  How could he know he'd ride right into the middle of a lynching?  Lancaster couldn't let an innocent man be hanged, but when the smoke cleared and the lynching was stopped, a bystander lay dying on the ground, caught in the crossfire.  With his last breath he asked Lancaster to take care of the people who had been depending on him -- a wagon train filled with women and children on their way to California!"  Randisi can always be counted on for a crisp, entertaining story.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


The more we learn about our world, our universe, and ourselves, the more we stand in awe.  Here's Robin Ince, host of The Infinite Monkey Cage.


Roberta Martin.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


Moby Grape.


Question:  Why does a romance comic aimed at young girls have a full-page ad on the inside front cover for male bodybuilding courses?

Answer:  Dunno.

Once you get past that ad, there a little note with the Comics Code Authority seal that ensures you that this comic book meets "the high standards of morality and good taste required by the code."  Good to know as we enter the first story, "My Sister's Beau."

So Clint Foley started seeing Carol's older sister five years ago when the was working on a federal dam project; Carol was fourteen and her sister was twenty and Carol had a big crush on Clint.  When the job was over, Clint moved off but kept writing Carol's sister.  She, however, had little interest in Clint and married someone else.  Carol began writing to Clint, pretending to be her sister.  Carol is now nineteen and Clint is finally coming back to see, her sister.  When Clint comes back he immediately goes into a passionate clinch with Carol.  Carol confesses who she really is and Clint confesses her knew all along and they go into another passionate clinch.  The moral of this story, I guess, is that a five-relationship build on deceit from both parties is a solid foundation for a happy future.  Also, if Clint knew that it was Carol who was writing him beginning when she was fourteen, doesn't that raise a few warning flags about Clint.  Shouldn't he be on a sex offender list, or something?

Helen, the main character in the next story, "Rich Man's Bride," has been groomed since birth for marriage to wealth.  Doesn't matter who the guy is, as long as he has money, everything's jake.  When rich boy and all around cad tries to put the moves on Helen, the neighborhood beat cop, Frank, comes to the rescue.  Soon, Helen is head over heels with Frank ("He's kind to children.  He's brave.  He's my idea of a man."), but Helen's mother doesn't approve.  Then she does.  Why?  Dunno.  Doesn't make sense to me.  The end.

In "The Fragile Heart," young Betty was jilted at the altar by Alan (that cad!).   Betty mopes around for two months, then old friend Dutch Joe comes home after a high steel construction job and persuades Betty to go with him on the town.  As friends, of course.  Betty kisses dutch Joe goodnight and -- KAPOW!  WHAM!  ZOWIE! -- sparks fly and Betty realizes she's macking for Dutch Joe big time.  Embarrassed, she runs into the house and doesn't come out until Dutch Joe has gone off to another construction job.   Remember Alan (that cad!)?  Turns out he was really a cad.  He realized that Betty was in love with somebody else without knowing it.  So Alan is not a cad, just a weak-kneed coward.  Betty realizes that she does love Dutch Joe and goes off to get him, never wondering what kind of man would have 'Dutch Joe" for a nickname.

Next, we meet Hedi, "The Forgotten Fiance."  She's engaged to Jon but they have to keep it a secret for four months because (according to Jon) of his Dad's will.  Jon's Uncle Walter controls the estate until Jon turns 25.  Uncle Walter shows up with Betty, a beautiful redhead, in tow and begins fixing her up with Jon.  Hedi gets jealous.  Jon kisses Betty or, did Betty kiss Jon?  Hedi has enough and calls the engagement off.  Jon admits he's a spineless coward but he loves Hedi, so he tells Uncle Walter where to get off with the money.  Walter chuckles, hehehe, and says it was all a test.  Jon gets Hedi and the estate money.  Geez.  This one makes even less sense than the previous stories.

Josh Bailey is hired as a salesman for Kate Leeds' father's firm in "You're Fired, Darling."  You can guess what happened in this one.  They fall in love, but Josh is a terrible sales man.  He is, however, a damned good writer.  Kate fires Josh and avoids him for months.  Over that time, she has convinced several people to back Josh's play.  It's a hit.  Hollywood is nibbling.  Josh finds out what Kate has done for him ("You framed me, Kate!  You fired me right to the top of the heap!  I've had a Hollywood offer already!  I'm a success!")  Following this deluge of exclamation points, they kiss and Kate accepts his offer of marriage..  My mind has been officially boggled.

Nobody in these stories was actually a bride, young or otherwise.

The comic book ends with a full-page ad for the Slim-A-Waist girdle, although the word girdle or corset is never mentioned, but it does have "seven brand new exclusive features takes inches off your waistline.  Provide vital back support!"  And the inside back cover has a full-page ad for another body-building outfit; this time it's Charles Atlas. **sigh**

Anyway, here's your chance to get in touch with the romantic in you.  Enjoy.

Friday, November 18, 2016


Carl Perkins.


The Ship That Never Was by Mickey Spillane (1982)

Fast opening.


Outrageous plot.


Fast moving story.


Zaftig girls and plenty of sex...

Uh.  No.

Wait.  I thought this was a Mickey Spillane book.  Oh.  It's a Mickey Spillane Young Adult book.

The Ship That Never Was is the second of two YA books that Spillane published, both featuring Larry Damar and Josh Toomey, two friends who like to sail the waters near Josh's Caribbean island home.  Their ages are never stated but they appear to be about twelve or thirteen years old.  In the previous book, The Day the Sea Rolled Back, the sea around Peolle Island went out -- and stayed out, giving the boys a chance to search for a treasure that was supposed to be hidden under the tropical waters.

In this second book, the boys had been lazily sailing for about an hour when they spotted what looked like and old wreck on the open sea.  Coming closer, they see that it is an old -- very old -- strange-looking boat and in it is an old man, dehydrated and nearly dead.  The boat turns out to be a longboat, a type that had been used as a utility boat for British galleons centuries ago.  The longboat was constructed in a way that had been abandoned many years ago and, despite the real possibility that the boat was probably built over 200 years before, it was in impossibly good condition.  The name painted on the boat was H.M.S. TIGER.  Stranger still was the old man who was on the boat, who spoke an unknown language and was completely unfamiliar with the modern world.

Towing the longboat back to Josh's home, where the boy's fathers awaited them, they soon found out about the the TIGER.  It had been built in England in the late 18th century and its construction had been overseen by a man who was recognized as the finest shipwright in the country.  But the ship seemed cursed.  Numerous accidents and several deaths delayed the ship's construction and the ship soon got a reputation as a jinx.  It's trial run was supposed to last three months, but the ship limped back into port after only one month -- its crew sick and injured.  Cannons had blown up, water casks that leaked, forcing the men to live on rainwater, food had spoiled, the ships caulking had begun to leak, a sudden squall had strangely ripped the sails apart.  Superstition about the ship grew and spread throughout England.  The government was afraid to destroy the ship and crews refused to sail her.  Finally the ship was repaired and fully outfitted, then was pushed out to sea with no one on board, fated to sail the Atlantic as a ghost ship until it would inevitably sink.  The ship was never heard from again.  Yet here was the ship's longboat.  How did it get here and what had happened to the TIGER?

The man they rescued soon regained his health and slowly they learned his incredible story through drawings and pantomime.  He came from a small island where his people, the descendants of the exiled royal court of the European country of Grandau survived hidden from the world.  The royal line still continued but the population of the island was drastically shrinking.  The old man had found the longboat and decided to take it out and reach the outside world, hoping that the royal documents he had with him would help place his people back in their exiled home.  What the old man did not know was that, since the exile, Grandau had been ruled by a long line of brutal dictators.

And this is where Murphy's Law comes in.  Somehow the dictatorship of Grandau discovered that an attempt was being made to bring the royal line back to the country.  Two assassins were sent to find the island and exterminate everyone on it, as well as kill anyone who was privy to the discovery.  The assassins placed a large bomb in the Toomey house, rigged to be triggered when people were there.  While placing the bomb they discovered maps in the house the boys and their fathers used to determine the location of the mysterious island.  Taking that information, the killers headed for the island.

In the meantime, the boys were already heading to the island, their fathers to follow a few days later once their boat had some necessary repairs done.  The boys reach the island, making friends with the exiles and the one surviving royal, a twelve-year-old girl named Tila.  Through a short wave radio, they learn from their fathers that men are on their way to kill everyone on the island.  The boys must figure out how to defend the island without weapons.  And what the boys do not know is that, following the assassins, is a submarine which intends to blow the island to pieces.

Spillane knows how to propel a story but this particular one falls a little flat.  Spillane seems uncomfortable with the young adult form.  The characters are little more than cardboard cutouts, with the exception of the young princess Tila, who comes across as a bit naive, a bit imperious, and a bit spunky.  Most of the violence, and the one murder, is done offstage.  The thrills are subdued and the settings are one-dimensional.

While many people have disdained Spillane as a writer, many others (myself included) consider Spillane to have been a talented and skilled author.  I enjoyed the book but, as I read it, I couldn't help but think it could have been so much better.  There's a reason that this book marked the end of Spillane's short-lived career as a YA adventure writer.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


The Tremelos.


Max Allan Collins' blog post this week was a tribute to Jerry Lewis, a celebrity whose work many love and many hate -- and, if you are French, I think I know what side you are on.  I loved his early films; many of his later films, not so much.  When Lewis and his one-time partner Dean Martin first hit the scene, they were hailed as comic geniuses.

Here's an early radio show from the duo, with their special guest, Peter Lorre.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016


B. B. King and Ruth Brown,


My brother is a secret cow tipper wannabe, so this one is for him.  Taken from a Wikipedia page on "cow tipping":

Tip #2

If you succeed in tipping a cow only part way, such that only one of its feet is till on the ground, you have created lean beef.  Such a feat is well done.  Naturally, being outside, the cow is unstable.  When it falls over, it becomes ground beef.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Wally Cox exercises his yodeling chops on this comic take on a classic.


I remember watching Wally Cox in Mr. Peepers when I was a kid and I remember enjoyinbg it, but I really don't remember much beyond that.  The show ran on NBC from  Julu 3, 1952 to June 12, 1955, beginning as a summer replacement series.  It's popularity p[laced in the Thursday night lineup that October, replacing Doc Corkle, a fast sinking sitcom.  In 1953, Mr. Peepers won a Peabody award and was nominated for an Emmy for best Best Situational Comedy.  It went on to be nominated for four Emmies in 1954 and three in 1955.

Cox ortrayed Robinson J. Peepers, a timid junior high school science teacher.  Shot before a live audience, the sitcom  also featured Tony Randall as the handsome ladies man (and history teacher) Harvey Weskit, Jack Warden as phys ed coach Frank Whip, and Marion Lorne as Mrs. Gurney, the scatterbrained English teacher and wife of the school's principal.  Other cast members were Patricia Benoit, Georgann Johnson, Joseph Foley, Norma Crane, Ernest Truax, and Sylvia Field.

In the first episode, Mr. Peepers arrives at Jefferson Junior High only to find that construction on a new wing is behind schedule and that he will have to wait a month until jhis classroom is ready and he will be able to teach.  In the meantime he is assigned to assist another science teacher, Mr. Wadd.  Wadd tries to undermine Mr. Peepers, giving him meaningless tasks.  In a classic case of the biter bit, Wadd leaves the school in shame and Mr. Peepers takes his place as science teacher.  This pattern continues throughout the series:  Mr. Peepers finds himself in unusual and unintentional situations but always manages to extract himself.

Wally Cox himself did not care for Mr. Peepers; the character was too goody-two-shoes for Cox's sarcatic personality.  Cox was bright and quick-witted, though, and was able to portray the shy Peepers perfectly.  Cox was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, where he was a childhood friend of Marlon Brandon.  He trained as a metal worker and became a mast craftsman.  In New /york, jhe and Brando renewed their friendship and, for a while, became roommates.  It was Brando who convinced Cox to try acting and Cox began studying under Brando's acting coach Stella Adler.  Cox was active in television in the late Forties and early Fifties.  He became a major star with Mr. Peepers.  He later went on to star in The Adventures of Hiram Holliday in 1956 -- a show I remember fondly,   In the Sixties he was the voice of the cartoon character Underdog.  Cox is perhaps best remembered today as the upper left hand sqaure in Hollywood Squares, a show he appeared on from its debut in 1966 to his death in 1973.  Offstage, Cox wrote a number of books, cut records for three labels, and was an enthusiastic motorcycle rider.  He died sudenly at age 49 from what was reported to be an accidental overdose of sedatives, although Brando insisted he friend had died from a heart attack.  Brando kept Cox's cremated remains hidden in a closet for three decades and often talked to them; after Brando's death, both his and Cox's cremains were scattered at the same time.

Here's the first televised episode of the series, produced by Fred Coe, directed by James Sheldon, and written by series creator David Swift, along with Jim Fritzell.


Monday, November 14, 2016


Some @#$%^&! local radio station has already begun playing Christmas songs 24/7.  Hello?  We haven't even reached Thanksgiving!

So, as a personal protest, here's Adam Sandler:


  • Ben Bova, New Frontiers.  SF collection of 14 stories from one of the most respected voices in the field.  The stories cover a span from 1978 through 2014 and include one Sam Gunn story from 2012.  Bova just turned 84 this week.  Happy birthday!
  • Anna Dewdney, llama llama gram and grandpa.  Children's picture book.Over the years, I've been reading Dewdney's llama llama to a succession of grandchildren.  This one was a late birthday gift and it just so happens that the Kangaroo is four years old.   The author, Anna Dewdney, wrote 18 llama llama books before her all-to-soon death two months ago at age 50.
  • Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, Blood Lines.  An Inspector Bill Slider mystery, the fifth in the series.  "With his love Joanna off playing violin at a British opera festival, Detective Inspector Bill Slider puts aside his pub time to get involved with the Arts himself.  At the BBC studios, a prominent music and opera critic has apparently committed suicide in the gentlemen's loo prior to his scheduled appearance on a panel discussion program."  Harrod-Eagles has one foot planted firmly in detective fiction and the other in historical fiction.  To date she has published at least 90 novels.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


My 16-year-old grandson Mark likes to run.  For some reason he enjoys it and running may well have taken over soccer as his main interest in life.  (Full disclosure:  I don't run.  I have a hard enough time walking.)

Mark's been running for a couple of years now and he's competed in small runs (5-8K) here and when he lived in Maryland.  This year he moved on to half marathons and decided early on that he wanted to run the full Pensacola Marathon this weekend.  He's one of those quiet people who, once they make up their mind, will just do it.  So Mark's been practicing his running a lot around town, sometimes doing 15 to 20 miles in a day.

He's also on his high school cross-country team and, while not the fastest, he puts in great effort.  The varsity cross-country squad consists of the seven fastest runners on any given week.  Often he races varsity and sometimes he just misses the squad by seconds.  (And, yes, his high school has some mega-fast runners.)  Mark was the member of the cross-country team to sign up for the Pensacola Marathon, although at least one other member signed up for the half-marathon.

The Pensacola Marathon is a pretty big deal.  Runners come from all over the country and from well over a hundred foreign countries to compete.  Thousands of people participate. Three races are run simultaneously:  the full marathon (26.2 miles), a half-marathon, and a 5K.  Runners in the half-marathon run the same route as those in the 5K, with additions to make up the distance, just as runners in the full marathon run the same basic route with some additional legs.

Because this was his first marathon, we had people stationed at various parts of the race to check on Mark and to be sure he was doing okay.  Kitty and I were at mile 16 of the race, on a quiet residential street.  We got up at 0-Dark-Hundred to be sure we were in our spot early and to avoid running into the runners on our way to mile 16.  We got there about half an hour before the actual race started and we were the only people there for a couple of hours until two young men from the neighborhood walked up to view the runners.

The first runners came by at 7:11.  We knew they were from the 5K because there was no way that the marathoners were running under three miles an hour for every mile.  We cheered them on as they came -- some fast, some not so fast.  A lot of them were buff and a lot were not.  Some of the runners were older than me (and some days I feel older than dirt).  Some looked as out of condition as I felt.  Some ran, some power walked, and some struggled walking slowly.  More than a few were panting.  But these people -- every one of them -- were amazing.  We told them they was doing great and we cheered and some reached out for high fives or fist bumps.  And these fantastic people just kept coming, wishing us a good morning.  At least sixty people thanked us for our support as they ran by.

In the meantime, we kept getting text messages.  Mark had just passed the six mile mark.  The nine mile mark and still looking good.  The twelve mile mark and he doesn't appear tired at all.  Then he passed us with an easy gait, one of a group of about six keeping the same pace, although some of them looked a little worse for wear.

Along the route there were encouraging signs, as well as some signs with fun facts for the runners.  Did not know that sharks cannot swim backwards?  Or that Albert Einstein slept ten hours a day?
 If you saw some of those signs you did.

Once he passed us we headed for the finish line, taking a circuitous route to avoid roads closed for the race.  By the time we got there a number of runners in the various races had finished.  We were just in time to see the first female cross the line for the full marathon.  As every single person ran/walked/dragged themselves across the finish, an announcer would congratulate them by name and where they came from to the cheers and applause of the spectators.  There were tents all over the place from various running groups.  There was free food donated by various local restaurants.  Publix Supermarkets offer bananas, mini-muffins, and orange slices.  (One sign along the race route said, "I run all this time -- just for a free banana!")  There were tables set up for free massages, first come-first serve.  A great atmosphere.

Before the race Mark had a goal of running under four hours.  Mark sets high goals for himself and some he makes while others he doesn't.  Mark's unofficial time was 3 hours, 50 minutes, and 30 seconds!


(I say unofficial time because he started out` in the middle of the pack, so we could expect a few seconds to be shaved off officially.)

His official time was 3:49:59, with a mile pace of 8:47.  He came in second in his age group and 45th overall out of a group of 383 runners!  Way to crush your first marathon!

Among the other runners was the husband of one of the computer science teachers at Mark's high school.  He was hoping to qualify for the Boston Marathon and to do so he needed a time of under 3 hours 55 minutes.  Which he did.  Everybody was congratulating everybody else, some on running the time they wanted, some on running close to the time they wanted, and some on just finishing the race.

After a major disappointment with this week's election, this was the place and the atmosphere where I needed to be.

My most sincere congratulations to all who participated.

And, of course, to Mark, who was absolutely amazing!


Jim Nabors.

Saturday, November 12, 2016


Lee Wiley.


I had planned to post a war comic book this week in honor of Veteran's Day but then I stumbled across this little charmer subtitled "The Story of Marine Boot Camp."

Leatherneck, the Marine Corps magazine, explained it much better than I could, and in far fewer words:

"Here is a cartoon booklet especially for boots, prospective boots, and perennial boots.  In 44 outrageous pages, Ted Ritter and Bob Gadbois manage to present an accurate satirical commentary on life -- if you can call it living -- in a Marine Corps boot camp." (Leatherneck, February 1950)

The book was published by Victoria Publications of New York, which was more formally known as the Victoria Military Company.  They published at least three similar books by Ritter and Gadbois (Bet Your Boots, 1948; You've Had It:  The Story of Basic Training, 1950; and Off We Go:  Tjhe story of Air Force Basic Training, 1953), as well as 1945's Johnny Comes Marching Home.  I gather that a lot of these books were handed out as basic training souvenirs.  The authors did several spiral bound books of a similar nature in 1944 concerning a naval air force recruit named Elmore, but there is no indication of who published these.

I did a cursory check of the internet but was not able to find any personal information about either Ritter or Gadbois. Perhaps some out there can help fill in the gaps.

Because of a medical deferment, I did not serve in the armed services (despite a low draft number).  I honor those who did.  And I think that anyone who did serve will appreciate this gentle satire of one's first immersion into military life.


Friday, November 11, 2016


My go-to song on this day.  This one by the talented trio of Gordon Bok, Ed Trickett, and Ann Mayo Muir is perhaps my favorite version.  Ed Trickett takes the lead..

And here's Liam Clancy with another of my favorites for today.  Both songd, incidently, were written by Scots-born Eric Bogle.

Let us remember and honor all veterans today and every day.  And let us pray that their sacrifices be never again in vain.


Anti-Man by Dean R. Koontz (1970)

The near future is an overpopulated Malthusian nightmare and while human life is valued, it is not valued much.  Decisions were made to let people die and not to try to prolong life.  Cryogenics laboratories were made illegal.  Doctors could still ease suffering but they also did not try very hard to save lives, letting the old just die because there were so many younger ones to take their places.  And so certainly did not try to bring the dead back to life.

For reasons that do not make sense to me, the World Authority created an android capable of (among other things) manipulating his hands for form microscopic appendages that could harmlessly reach into a human body and remove cancers, blood clots, and toxins.  The android was much more than they expected.  He was changing...evolving, and he had a conscience.

So when the android used his skills to revive a a dead man, the World Authority Secret Police determined that he must be destroyed.  Dr. Jacob Kennelmen has worked with the android and bitterly opposed his destruction.  Kennelmen kidnaps the android and the two flee.

What do you name the first of its type?  Any name seems trite so Kennelmen just calls him He (or Him, depending on the grammatical usage).  This gives us the picture of the android as Divinity and, as we soon learn, Her feels that if he is allowed to evolve, He can save mankind.  (How is not really stated, but He would be able to teach men how to control their cells as He can.)

As the two criss-cross the country, evading capture but not really harming anyone (both He and Kennelmen have moral objections to killing), they find themselves in a large Alaskan park in the cold of winter.  He is changing and he needs the energy that raw flesh can give him to effect that change, so He kills some rabbits barehanded and (again barehanded) skins them and eats them, leaving only fur and bones.  Evidently the aversion to killing did not apply to animals.  A bit later when they are attacked by a band of starving wolves, He does the same with one of the pack.

As He continues to rapidly evolve, Kennelmen realizes that He is a being far beyond man and becoming more so.  He evidently does not need Kennelmen to survive.  As He becomes more evolved (more Godlike, if you will), how will He look on Kennelmen and the rest of humanity.  Will they be viewed as just more fresh, raw meat?

Anti-Man is a very early book by Koontz, his seventh published novel (his first was published only two years before) -- long before he discovered the secret to best-sellerdom.  Two obvious things -- aside from the writing style -- clue you in that it's an early book:  the use of his middle initial and the lack of a dog.  And, as with much of his work, there's a Catholic (as well a a pulp) sensibility here.  It's a good, enjoyable book, but nothing great.

The book is an expansion of his short story  'The Mysteries of His Flesh" (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, (July 1970). (The book is dedicated to then-F&SF editor Ed Ferman.)  Neither the book nor the short story have (to my knowledge) been reprinted in English.  A quick check of AbeBooks show 24 copies available, priced from $9.70 to $65.00, not including shipping.

A couple of words about the cover.  It's ugly.  Perhaps uglier than any other book ever published by Paperback Library, a publisher which had some pretty sad and ugly covers in its day.  The cover also tells us that this is "THE SCIENCE FICTION STUNNER OF THE SEVENTIES!"  It's not.  It's a quick enjoyable read if you are willing to overlook the logic behind the plot.  Also the front and back cover blurbs call the android "Sam," which shows us that the blurb writer merely scanned the first few pages and missed this sentence on the second page, "Somehow, naming a mileston Sam did not seem right to any of us."  As well as these, at the end of the paragraph, "And our android, flawless as a hydroponics apple, was the archetype, so it seemed, of Man.  He:  a fitting title."

Feel free to ignore the last paragraph.  I've been a tad cranky since the election.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


I had to.  here's the chad Mitchell Trio performing at the Lizzie Borden House in 2010.


From the time I was a teenager I had an interest in the Lizzie Borden case.  The month I was born, Weird Tales published Robert Bloch's classic tale "Lizzie Borden Took an Ax."  In 1961 I read Edward D. Radin's persuasive (and Edgar-nominated) study Lizzie Borden:  the Untold Story.  (Interestingly, Lillian de la Torre called Radin "the soundest crime expert of our generation.")  I waited for months for a copy of Evan Hunter's Lizzie to be available at my local library.  I've sung along to the Chad Mitchell Trio's song many, many times.  I sat through an excruciating performance of the opera when it appeared on PBS.  (My interest in Lizzie Border has no relation to the fact that one of my six most favorite nieces is named Lizzie.)

A few weeks ago I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) Walter Satterthwait's latest novel New York Nocturne:  The Return of Miss Lizzie.  And so I thought it was time to reacquaint myself with Lillian de la Torre's marvelous play Goodbye, Miss Lizzie Borden.

Lillian de la Torre (1902-1993) was best known for her historical mysteries about Dr. Sam: Johnson -- 33 marvelous detective short stories (collected in four books) that helped usher in the historical detective story as a popular sub-genre.  Her 1955 book The Truth About Belle Guinness was nominated for an Edgar in  the Best Fact Crime category.  She also served as President of the Mystery Writers of America.

Goodbye, Miss Lizzie Borden was first aired as a radio play on CBS Radio's Suspense on October 4, 1955, featuring Irene Tedrow, Paula Winslowe, and Virginia Gregg.  It was later adapted as a television episode (as "The Older Sister") on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, with Carmen Matthews playing Lizzie.

Over the decades there have been many theories about who killed Andrew and Abby Borden on August 4, 1892 in their Fall River, Massachusetts, home.

Enjoy this one possible explanation by Miss de la Torre.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Jimmy Cliff.


"I cannot stand people who disagree with on the issue of Roe v. Wade...which I believe is about the proper way to cross a lake." -- Stephen Colbert

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


This might be how you are feeling:

Or you might be feeling like this:

But I fervently wish that this is how we, hand in hand, will end up feeling:


Okay.  So you've voted and now you are anxiously (fearfully?) awaiting the results.  Why not take a few minutes and cleanse your mind of politics?

Here's a 1933 Flip the Frog cartoon from Ub Iwerks.

Monday, November 7, 2016


Lefty Frizzell.


  • Analog Science Fiction and Fact, May 2003.  Stories by Steven Bratman, Ken Wharton, Larry Niven, John  C. Bodin & Ron Collins, Don D'Ammassa, and Ian Randall Strock; the conclusion of a serial by Rajnar Vajra; and an article by Richard A. Lovett.  I had given up a regular diet of Analog years ago, but sometimes it's just fun to pick up a random copy.
  • "Alex Archer" (Jon Mertz this time), Rogue Angel:  The Oracle's Message.  Men's action adventure series with a fantasy slant. This is the 32nd in the series about archaeologist Annja Creed.  While scuba diving in the Philippines and having a close encounter with a tiger shark, "Annja Creed finds herself drawn into a group of German divers.  They are treasure hunters searching for a fabled pearl...The race is on to possess the pearl.  But no one realizes the true nature of the artifact, or the danger it poses to them all."
  • Burl Barer, Broken Doll.  True crime.  Tough, disturbing reading here.  Richard Clark, a convicted pedophile, kidnapped 7-year-old Roxanne Doll from her Everett, Washington, bedroom and murdered her.  Clark, a trusted friend of the family, had previously been convicted of the 1988 kidnapping of 4-year-old Feather Rahier; luckily in that case, Feather was rescued just as Clark was beginning to remover her clothing.  Barer is the author of a number of true crime books and an Edgar winner for his comprehensive The Saint:  A Complete History in Print, Radio, Television, and Film.  He's also a long-time radio personality and the host of True Crime Uncensored,  Barer is the uncle of writers Lee Goldberg and Todd Goldberg and a distant relation of the man who composed the Mighty Mouse theme song. 
  • "M. V. Carey" (Mary Virginia Carey), The Mystery of the Wandering Cave Man.  A Three Investigators juvenile mystery.  Someone has stolen the cave man's bones from Newt McAfee's museum.  Or did they?  The night watchman swears he saw the cave man just walk away!  Enter Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw, and Bob Andrews -- young detectives extraordinaire.  This is the 34th book in the long-running series, following books by Robert Arthur, "William Arden" (Dennis Lynds), and  "Nick West" (Kin Platt); three of the later books in the original series were written by Marc Brandel.  I've read all the books by Robert Arthur and several by "William Arden" and have enjoyed them.
  • Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, May 1982.  Stories by Isaac Asimove (Black Widowers), Patricia Moyes, John F. Suter (Uncle Abner), Patricia McGerr, Cornell Woolrich, George Baxt, and Edward D. Hoch (Nick Velvet, plus another under his "R. L. Stevens" by-line), among others.  EQMM is always guaranteed to give you pleasure.
  • Philip Jose Farmer, More Than Fire.  Science Fiction, the seventh and final volume in the World of Tiers series.  "Across myriad universes, Kickaha, the roguish adventurer from Earth has wandered, always fighting the decadent Lords in their domains.  Now the time has come for the ultimate battle with the most powerful Lord of all, Red Orc.  Welcome again to the World of Tiers, where the fate of universes depends on the strength of one strong man."
  • Katherine V. Forrest, Daughters of a Coral Dawn.  Lesbian science fiction novel, the first of a trilogy.  Generations of descendants of a woman from Verna III have grown too large and may enflame the wrath of unwitting males, forcing the women to consider finding a new home away from Earth.  The writing appears to be smooth and easy in the few chapters I have already read.  (So far the book is very entertaining but the politics behind the story seems over-simplified.  We'll see.)  Forrest is a pioneering and award-winning lesbian author perhaps best known for her popular books about lesbian police detective Kate Delafield.  I have several of the Delafield books on Mount TBR.
  • "Alfred Hitchcock" (Peter Haining this time, probably), ed., Alfred Hitchcock Presents:  This One Will Kill You.  Anthology of 14 stories, dating from 1962 to 1969, taken from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.  This is the 1971 Dell edition.  The Hitchcock Zone wiki does not name an editor for this edition, but there is a 1972 New English Library (British) edition with the truncated title This One Will Kill You credited to Hitchcock -- the Hitchcock Zone wiki does list Haining as the ghost editor of this one.  The content of both the Dell and the New English Library editions are the same.  So...
  • Charlie Huston, Already Dead.  Vampire P.I. novel, the first in the Joe Pitt series.  "There's a shambler on the loose.  Some fool who got himself infected with a flesh-eating bacteria is lurching around, trying to much on folks' brains.  Joe hates shamblers, but he's still the one who has to deal with them.  That's just the kind of life he has.  Except afterlife might be a better word."
  • Brandon Keith, I Spy:  Message from Moscow.  TV tie-in juvenile novel, a Whitman "authorized" book.  I know nothing about Brandon Keith except that he wrote at least four Whitman tv tie-ins -- this one, two Man from U.N.C.L.E.s, and a Green Hornet.  I have the two U.N.C.L.E.s and may one day read the three books in a BrandonKeithathon.
  • Stanislaw Lem, A Perfect Vacuum.  Satire, subtitled Perfect Reviews of Nonexistent Books, in which Lem dissects 16 books that don't exist.  Sounds like fun.
  • Frank Miller, Sin City, Volume 1:  The Hard Goodbye.  Graphic Novel.  Gritty.  Gritty.  Grittty.
  • E. Phillips Oppenheim, The Treasure House of Martin Hews.  A 1928 thriller by the prolific (over 100 books between 1887 and 1943) Mr. Oppenheim.  At least sixty-five of his early books are available to read on the internet but not this one, which I got for a buck at a thrift store.
  • Tom Piccirilli, The Last Whisper in the Dark.  Thriller, a follow-up to The Last Kind Words.  Prodigal thief Terrier Rand has returned home to his law-breaking family.  Terry's old friend Chub hasn't been seen since he supplied a getaway car for a heist the went wrong.  "Terry just wants to bring Chub home to his wife.  Instead, he's dodging mobsters, moguls, and murderers...and the truth about one crime of his own."  Piccirilli was an amazing writer, struck down by cancer at a far too early age.
  • Kit Reed, Fort Privilege.  Science fiction.  New York has become a city under siege with uncounted riots, murders, fires, and disasters.  Most decent people have fled but the privileged upper crust are safe in their barricaded luxury apartment building, the Parkhurst.  As the residents gather to celebrate the centennial of the Parkhurst, they feel secure.  But are they?

Sunday, November 6, 2016


Another 55-word story...


     The snake's bite could paralyze within seconds, kill within a minute.

     It took a long time and much of my money to acquire it, but it will be the prize of the collection my wife loves so much.

     I had it sewn into the lining of her fur coat as a birthday surprise for her.


Louis Armstrong with a jazzed-up version of a Bible story.

Saturday, November 5, 2016


Kay Starr, R.I.P.



Walter Melon is driving down a country road on his way for a date with Cynthia, one of the most popular girls in high school and one whom I would loosely describe as a witch with a b.  (Walter is a bit of an insecure nerd with an out-sized head which leads Cynthia to call him "Melon Head.")   Walter is run off the road by gangsters fleeing from the police.  As the gangsters swerve to avoid a collision, a suitcase full of loot is thrown from their car.  Walter finds the money and wants to turn it in to the police, but he's late for his date with Cynthia.

He and Cynthia go to the drag races where Cynthia moons over dreamy Scot Jackson and his souped-up Ford Falcon.  Of course we know what Walter is thinking.  Here he is with all this money and he could use it to buy a cool car like Scot Jackson's, making Cynthia moon over him instead of Scot.  And we now that will lead to trouble for Walter, but just what kind of trouble?  We'll have to wait until January 10th (when the next issue of Drag-Strip Hotrodders goes on sale) to find out.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in issue #14, the state police have closed of a section of the road over Shadow Mountain while a new bridge is being built, making perfect for Rocky Serrano and Fletcher Hayes to race their cars.  Tough luck for Fletcher! -- motorcycle policeman John Winkler catches them.  If Fletcher gets another speeding ticket, he'll lose his license.  Winkler gives them both a warning, though, and suggests they channel their energy and gasoline by entering the Appalachian Classic (The Twin peaks Grand Prix...are you listening, David Lynch?) in the novice class.  The two agree to help each other get their cars ready for the race.  Who will win?  I bet the big winner will be their friendship.

Moving on.  In "9 Second Quarter," Kennan thinks his new Holly 4-barrel car and Mallory ignition will help him win street races.  He's wrong.  Then engineering genius called Bugeye offers to help him start from scratch and build a car that will help[ him compete in Class A or B fuel drags.  They put a Chrysler hemi in a 1923 Ford Roadster and give it a chrome Moly tube frame.  Things work out well, although they forgot include a chute pack for their first race.  (Ah, these impetuous kids!)  Things get better.  The future looks bright.  And it turns out to be cool to hang out with the smart kids.

Ken King must drive his motorcycle through "The Terror Tube." Why?  Ken has been "wrongly accused of wrecking his best friend, Jerry Gerard, in an effort to win a race" and "has become the most hated guy in racing...Ken could clear his name by getting Gerard's signed papers clearing his name..." (okay,so the writing here is a bit redundant) "but Rudolph Funk, has demanded a high price for these papers, $15,000..." (and evidently know knows how to punctuate properly) (Ken has $10,000, and getting the rest would be easy for a man with Ken's driving ability, except for one rub...nobody will let him race...they hate the sight of him..."  (Dear God in heaven, please -- please! -- deliver me from this opening paragraph!)

Spoiler alert!  Ken makes through the Terror Tube and gets the needed money.  But will that be enough to clear his name?  Dunno.  Again, we have to wait for the next issue (for sale on January 10).  Dammit.

Confession time.  As a teenage and as an adult, I have had and do not have any interest in cars and motors.  Cars are God's way of getting me from point A to point B.  They have a go pedal and a stop pedal.  That, I feel, is all I really need to know.  I have been dragged on occcasion to stock care races and drag races and found them as exciting a watching paint dry.  You may not feel the same way.

If so, enjoy.

Friday, November 4, 2016


Danny & the Juniors and an echo chamber.


The Adventures of Professor Thintwhistle & His Incredible Aether Flyer by Dick Lupoff and Steve Stiles (1991)

Richard A. Lupoff is one of those underrated writers who amaze you with every book, making you wonder why the world has not bowed down before him and kissed his feet.  He goes his own way, writes what he wants, and is equally at home with acerbic wit and with smooth, graceful language.  Lupoff started out in the trenches of science fiction fandom and, now 81, still has one foot solidly implanted there.  He began writing professionally in the Sixties while working part-time as an editor for Canaveral Press.  At Canaveral he produced several books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, leading to his first book, a biography of Burroughs.  He published his first novel in 1967, became a full-time writer in 1970, and has published more than fifty books of astonishing variety.

The Adventures of Professor Thintwhistle & His Incredible Aether Flyer has its roots in a dinner conversation at the 1966 World Science Fiction Convention about proto-science fiction books published from 1880 through 1920, when Lee Hoffman said that would make good grounds for parody.  Lupoff began writing Professor Theobald Uriah Thintwhistle's adeventures in comic book form later that year.  Artist Steve Stiles used the illustrations from Lupoff's collection of proto-science fiction books to give the panels a steampunk flavor. (This was long before steampunk ever existed.  The Thintwhistle adventures are a forerunner of this popular sub-genre.)  The first Thintwhisle strips were published in a fan magazine as by "Fenton Farnworth" and "Pascal Pascudniak."

Attempts by Lupoff to sell the strip as a book went nowhere, although Dell offered to by the story if Lupoff transformed it into a novel.  And so the 1974 novel Into the Aether was born.  Five years later, Ted White asked Lupoff and Styles if they would like to recreate the strip for Heavy Metal, he leading comic book story magazine.  Thintwhistle and company ran as a serial in that magazine from February through November, 1980.

 As we know, many good things take time.  In 1990, Kim Thompson of Fantagraphics asked Lupoff and Stiles if they would like the strips issued as a graphic novel.  They would.  They did.  And so, 25 years to the month after that original Worldcon conversation in a Cleveland Chinese restaurant, The Adventures of Professor Thintwhistle & His Incredible Aether Flyer appeared in book form.

So, what's the book a book about? It's about ten chapters long.

Okay, wise guy, what's the story about?  Well, that's something that's a bit harder to explain.  Imagine if Ova Hamlet met Edgar Rice Burroughs met William Burroughs met Philip Jose Farmer met the kitchen sink.  Now, kind of squint your eyes so that everything's a bit blurry.  Next, drink a surfeit of intoxicants.  That should give you some idea of the story.

We begin with Herkimer, a spiffily dressed young man on his velocipede, pedaling though the town of Buffalo Falls, Pennsyvania, to visit his learned friend Professor Thintwhistle.  (Bleach Herkimer's hair, put him in a red suit, and give him a horse named Horse, and you'd have a good imitation of a [slightly dimmer] Dudley Do-Right.)  Thintwhistle has created a coal-powered machine (dubbed the "Chester A. Arthur) to fly through the aether to the moon.  With Herkimer and Jefferson Jackson Clay (Thintwhistles' not-to-be-trusted blackamoor servant), the Professor soon takes off on an incredible journey.  They land on the moon.  No, that's not right.  They innocently land on the left breast of the giant Selena, Queen of the Moon.  Also innocently, they plant a flag deep in the "lacteal faucet" of said giantess. causing 1) a fissure, and 2) the abrupt deflation of said portion of the anatomy.  Our heroes and their ship is sucked into the fissure and find themselves in a strange universe of  feathered serpents, giant King Charles Spaniels, Spanish pirates, cat people, intrigue, and danger.

Concurrently, Thintwhistle's colleagues Miss Taphammer and Winchester Blont investigate the Professor's disappeance and determine they must have gone through the aether.  Once that was determined, Miss Taphammer determine to build another aether machine -- the Susan B. Anthony, this time -- and follow the Professor to effect a rescue.  Meanwhile somewhere in the alternate cosmos, Jefferson Jackson Clay sheds his servile demeanor, changes his name to Manelik XX Chaka and steals the Chester Alan Arthur!

A wild and incredible romp that may not be to everyone's liking,  I loved it.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Lou Reed.


We're deep into the last week of the Presidential election and I need a break.  I suspect you do, too.  So here's an episode of The Jack Benny Program from October 15, 1939.

Since we all seem to be afraid that one of the two main candidates is going to win this election, we need a few laughs.

Have at it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Today is Ed Gorman Day on the blogisphere, a chance to honor the man and his writings on what would have been his 75th birthday with memories, thoughts. discussions of his books and stories, and so on.

I never met Ed, never talked to him, never communicated with him, but through his writings he became an important part of my life.   Ed was a fierce, honest, funny, and kind curmudgeonly sort.  He didn't like crowds, hated to travel, and loved to talk to people over the phone during late night calls.  He loved story, the ability to translate experience and thought into words.  He especially loved story that spoke to real people, the type of story that's rarely found in film or novels but could be found in the movies of Budd Boettticher or in forgotten Gold Medal paperbacks.  With Robert Randisi, he founded Mystery Scene magazine to help promote those underappreciated authors as well as new and current writers.  He worked with his good friend Martin H. Greenberg to bring attention to these writers.  He encouraged, sympathized, and aided other writers.

Ed wrote like a dream.  He poured his deep understanding of the human soul into his characters; they were flawed but oh so human.  He wrote some of the best westerns going.  His mystery and suspense novels gave us such unforgettable characters as Jack Walsh, Anna Tobin (the first real-life female police officer in Cedar Rapids), Robert Payne, Sam McCain, and Dev Conrad.  His horror novels, written under his "Daniel Ransom" pseudonym were chilling -- despite the fact that he was disappointed in them because (he said) he never knew how to end them properly.  His short stories were heart-wrenchingly honest and sympathetic to the ordinary man.  He ghosted a lot of books, many of them under house names and -- for the most part -- they were enjoyable.  (Best to avoid the ones he wrote for ghost-hunting hucksters Ed and Lorraine Warren, though.)

For a dozen years or so he suffered from multiple myeloma, the evil sonofabitch disease that finally claimed him.  Like the Energizer Bunny, Ed kept going and going.  Writing, helping, advising, consoling, befriending, and touching every one he met.

He didn't have a charmed life; there were some ugly years early on.  I think the last forty years or so were charmed, though, because of three things:  he found his writing voice, he found many friends, and he found his wonderful wife Carol.

I had originally written a long, long, long appreciation for Ed Gorman Day.  I scrapped it when I realized that it was as much about me as it was about Ed, and because there are many others more qualified than I to write about him.  You'll find links to them all at Patti Abbott's blog at  Go there and see what sort of person Ed Gorman was and why he was so loved..


From 1923, Rosa Henderson, with Fletcher Henderson (no relation) on piano.


So there were two cats -- an American cat named "One-Two-Three" and his French cousin named
"Une-Deux-Trois."  They were taking a leisurely stroll in the woods one day when they came across a very bad-tempered, cat-hating bear.  The bear gave chase and the cats ran for their lives.  They ran and ran and then, in front of them...a raging river!  With the bear gaining on them, the two had no choice but to jump into the river and try to make it to the other side.

Sadly, only one of them survived.  One-Two-Three made to safety but the Une-Deux Trois cat sank.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Uncle John Scruggs.  Filmed in Powhattan, Virginia; the set is phony, the kids are actors, Uncle John is falsely stereotyped, but this all fed into prejudices common in 1928.  Scruggs, born a slave, was an important influence in roots music.


This 1939 oater stars Leonard Slye and George Hayes as Confederate scouts in 1861 Missouri.  The Civil War has broken out and Missouri, although a Union state has a lot of Southern sympathizers.  Roy and Gabby's job is to stop Val McBride (Stuart Hamblin) and his gang of mercenaries.  Hamblin has been using his Confederate uniform to pillage the countryside for his own gain and the Confederate army has disavowed him.

One sticking point:  Roy's friend Dave Allen (David Kerwin) is part of McBride's gang.  Roy tries to talk Dave into leaving the gang but the lure of easy money is too much of a temptation to Dave.  Complicating the relationship are 1)  Dave has saved Roy's life, and 2) Dave and Roy are both in love with the same girl, Laura Bradford (Sally March).  The subplot of Roy and Dave ends when Roy has to make a terrible decision.

Guns blaze.  Roy sings.  Gabby is Gabby.  What more can you ask for?

One nagging question remains.  Why the "Arizona " Kid?  99.99% of the movie takes place in Missouri, where Roy is supposed to hail from.  Yes, the movie opens with Roy and Gabby driving horse from Arizona to Missouri but that's about the only Arizona reference in the film.  I'll admit that Arizona sound more westerny than Missouri, but what the heck?

This one was directed by Joseph Kane and scripted by Luci Ward and Gerald Geraghty.