Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


The mellow sound of The Mills Brothers.


Motion picture pioneer D. W. Griffith made an astonishing 108 short films during 1909 -- a rate of a little more than two a week!  Edgar Allan Poe, released on February 8 of that year, is a seven-minute movie loosely based on Poe's "The Raven" and on Poe's own life.  The title cards for this short have gone missing, so the viewer must rely only one the acting itself.

We open in a poor garret with Poe's sick wife Virginia (Linda Arvidson, Griffith's real life wife) who is barely able to hold it together either physically or mentally.  Upon a shelf is a bust of Pallas.  Enter Poe (Barry O'Moore, acting under his birth name, Herbert Voss)  in despair.  He covers his wife with his coat to give her some warmth.  (Voss, a stage actor, was embarrassed by the work he had to do on film so for many of his more than 100 movies he used the rather phony-sounding "Barry O'Moore" moniker.  Among his repeat roles were those of Henry Craig in seven or eight films, Nelson Wales in eleven films, and Frederick Arnold Kummer's Octavius the Amateur Detective in twelve films.)  Suddenly there appears a (obviously stuffed) raven on the bust of Pallas.  With a burst of inspiration, Poe begins to write.  (By write, I mean quickly drawing his quill across the page rapidly several times.  I mean, really?)  He does this, stopping to show his ill wife each stanza as it is written.  Then off he goes, coatless, to try to sell his poem, meeting with rejection at the first publisher's office.  The second publisher's wife also scorns the poem and reads part of it mockingly to her husband.  As Poe turns to leave, the second publisher calls to the disheartened poet.  He recognizes something in the poems cadence that appeals to him.  He buys the poem, giving Poe some money.  (One source says that it is ten dollars, but the amount is not clear from this print.)  Poe returns home, joyous, carrying food and a blanket to keep Virginia warm.  Alas, she is dead.

Yes, I know I've given away all the plot to this very brief film, but it's worth a look anyway.


Monday, January 30, 2017


Curtis Lee and the Halos.


  • Douglas Clegg, Afterlife.  Horror novel.  "In years past, there was a special school for children with psychic ability.  Called the Daylight Project, it was shut down after a horrific murder.  Today, grieving widow Julie Hutchinson gets the news that someone is out there...her husband's murderer...someone who very much wants to find her.  In a Manhattan brownstone, a psychic dreams of blood and lost souls...and an innocent young girl has become host for uninvited voices of the dead.  Their paths are about to intersect.  His name is Michael Diamond,  He harbors unspeakable secrets.  and he's prepared to do anything in this life -- or the afterlife -- to keep them buried forever."
  • Graham Masterton, The 5th Witch, Edgewise, and Night Warriors.  Horror novels.  In The 5th Witch, a "new and powerful crime alliance holds Los Angeles in a grip of terror.  Anyone who opposes it suffers a horrible fate...but not by human hands."  "Lily Blake's first mistake" in Edgewise "was getting involved with dangerous forces she didn't understand.  But she was desperate.  Her children had been taken.  The police were no help.  And George Iron Walker claimed he could summon the Wendigo, a Native American spirit that can hunt anyone...anywhere...forever."   In Night Warriors, a "woman's dead body gives life to unutterably foul offspring.  she has become the first mother of the Nightspawn.  she will not be the last,  The Nightspawn will cover the earth.  Unless three ordinary people can tap the powers within them.  Unless they can learn to be Night Warriors, pursuing unstoppable evil through the nightmares of the and the sweet sleep of the most innocent.  The battle for humankind must be fought in dreams..."
  • Norvell Page. City of Doom.  Omnibus of three pulp hero novels featuring The Spider, originally published as by "Grant Stockbridge" in The Spider magazine:  "The City Destroyer" from Januiary 1935, "The Faceless One" from November 1939, and "The Council of Evil" from October 1940.  'Thousands die as skyscrapers, bridges and Grand Central Station itself are brought crumbling down!  A disfigured maniac mastermind p[oses as the Police Commissioner!  Six arch-criminals band together to plunder banks and the Federal Reserve's gold deposits by bringing Gotham to its knees!"  Of course it falls to Richard Wentworth, scion of wealth, veteran of war, and the master of men known as The Spider to foil the ne'er-do-wells!  Great stuff!
  • John Wagner, A History of Violence.  Graphic novel with art by Vince Locke.  This was the basis of the 2005 David Cronenberg film starring Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, and William Hurt.  "It's just another quiet day in small-town USA, until a couple of wanted killers walk into tom McKenna's diner looking for trouble.  when Tom gives them more than they bargained for, he and his family are thrust int the kind of white-hot media spotlight that attracts a lots of questions -- and questions about Tom's past.  Is he really an easygoing small town guy, or is he something more?"

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Philosophy professor Christopher Tollefsen gives this TED Talk on the philosophy of truth.  IMHO, truth is a discussion we should all be having nowadays.


Blind Joe Taggart.

Saturday, January 28, 2017


In keeping with today's Indian theme, here's Johnny Preston with an arrangement that gets more uncomfortable every time I hear it.


The Cheyenne Kid's real name is unknown.  Raised by the plains tribe, he left the Cheyenne to find his white heritage.  With typical hyperbole, The Cheyenne Kid was mooted to be "the strongest, the fastest, the bravest" of them all.  He made his first appearance in Charlton Comics' Wild West #7 (April 1957).  The comic book changed its title to The Cheyenne Kid on the next issue and ran under that title for 92 issues, ending with #99 (November 1973).

It's not known who wrote the early issues of The Cheyenne Kid; many of the later episodes were written by Joe Gill (often in collaboration).  Issue #15 features artwork by Rocke Mastroserio (who also drew the cover), Bill Molno, Sal Trapani. Al Williamson (whose artwork in this issue was panned), and Pete Morisi, along with an unknown artist.

In this issue has our erstwhile hero blazing his through four stories:  Yuh Can't Eat Gold, Ghost Town Rendezvous!, Sudden Reform, and Six Gun Caballero.  In another story, Renegade's Return, tribal chief Wise Wolf and young brave Two Eagles must fight a banished warrior and some gunslingers who have come to claim the oil buried beneath tribal lands.

The western action starts now!  Enjoy.

Friday, January 27, 2017


Blind Blake, from August 1929.


Make Room!  Make Room! by Harry Harrison (1966)

It's 1999 and a new millennium is about to approach.  The world's population has exploded. Natural resources are almost drained.  The planet is wallowing in pollution and near anarchy.  Crime is rampant and their are not enough police to control it.  The dead are left in the street for sanitation crews to pick up. Water is scarce.  Food consists of various types of pressed vegetable matter, ground processed snail meat, and just about anything else the government can come up with.  Meat -- what there is of it -- is for the very rich, sometimes a small piece of beef, often leg of dog.  As humanity's population grows, more and more species are becoming extinct.  Rationing, demonstrations, riots...

There are 35 million people living in New York City.  There is not enough room for them all.

Billy Chung is an undernourished, seventeen-year-old product of the slums.  Billy breaks into an apartment house to rob a man who turns out to be a well-connected mobster, a major go-between for the syndicate and the government.  Billy mistakenly believes the apartment to be empty and is surprised by the mobster.  Without thinking, Billy swings a tire iron at the man, killing him instantly.

Andy Rusch is a detective called to the scene.  There's little Andy can do except write up a report.  Very few crimes are solved in this world of 1999.  The city's crime bosses are nervous.  Was the killing directed at them?  They wrongly think a New Jersey crime outfit have thrown down the first gauntlet in an attempted takeover.  Pressure is put on the police to actually solve this murder and the scapegoat chosen to pursue the case is Andy.

Andy meets and falls in love with the dead man's mistress.  When she is kicked out of the apartment with no place to go, he moves her in with him in the tiny room Andy rents from his friend Solomon Kahn.  A thin partition divides Andy's room from Solomon's slightly larger room in the crowded apartment.  Solomon has hooked up a stationary bicycle to a generator to provide power to the apartment.  There is little comfort in the apartment but Solomon, Andy, and Shirl -- the dead man's mistress -- are about to get by.  In the meantime, Billy Chung is on the run.  These four characters provide the template through which we see a world slowly disintegrating.

Make Room!  Make Room! was adapted as the classic film Soylent Green.  If anything, the book is more powerful than the film.  (And, contrary to the film -- and to Fox Muldar -- Soylent Green is not people.)

A true classic of an overpopulated dystopia.   Recommended.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


Before his untimely death at age 29, Richard Farina blazed a career as a counter-culture hero through his poetry and songs, as well as his classic cult novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me.   At age 22, he was a Greenwich Village regular where he met folk singer Carolyn Hester, marrying her 18 days later.  While in Europe in the spring of 1962 he met Mimi Farina, teenage sister of Joan Baez.  Shortly afterward, Hester divorced Farina, who then married the 17-year-old Mimi in 1963.  They recorded three albums together, the late being released after Farina's death in a motorcycle accident.  Both Richard and Mimi Farina were active in the protest movement and  a number of liberal causes.  Mimi Farina continued performing after Richard's death.  She founded Bread and Roses in 1974, a non-profit cooperative designed to bring free music and entertainment to institutions.  Mimi Farina died from cancer in 2001.  Her Bread and Roses organization continues providing some 500 concerts a year.

"Pack Up your Sorrows"

"A Swallow Song"

"House Un American Blues Activity Dream"

"Bold Maurader"

"Children of Darkness"

"Birmingham Sunday"

"Reflections in a Crystal Wind"

"Blood Red Roses"



"Celebration for a Grey Day"

"Hard Lovin' Loser"

"The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood"

"Lemonade Lady"

"Michael, Andrew, and James"


"The Fall of the City" was the first verse play to appear on American radio.  Written by Archibald MacLeish, it premiered on April 11, 1936 on CBS Radio's Columbia Playhouse, the network's "experimental theater of the air."  Orson Welles and Burgess Meredith starred in this half-hour allegory of fascism; the 22-year-old Welles, whose role as the announcer allowed him to act as Greek Chorus while also commenting on the events of the play, became a star because of his performance.

Inspired by the 1521 conquest of the Aztec city Tenochtitian by Hernado Cortez, the play is set in an unnamed city where a recently deceased woman delivers a prophecy.  Soon after, a messenger arrives to announce the coming of a conqueror.  An orator urges the populace to accept the conqueror.  A second messenger announces that the conquered have accepted the new conqueror.  A priest exhorts the people to religion.  A general urges the population to resist, but his calls are unheeded.  It is only when the conqueror arrives that we realize his impact and meaning.

MacLeish (1892-1982) was a noted poet, playwright, and essayist who served five years as the Librarian of Congress, where he initiated the process for the position that would become the United States Poet Laureate.  He won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry twice and for drama once.  He also won the National Book Award for Poetry, the Bollingen Award for Poetry, and Tony Award for best drama, as well as being named Commandeur de la Legion d'honneur.  He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.

"The Fall of the City" was named one of the best broadcasts of the year by The New York Times and has been added to the National Recording Registry.

An entertaining and powerful play that resonates today.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Damita Jo.


Kids today are too tech-savvy.  Yesterday, I heard a little girl telling her friend, "I'm never having a baby.  I heard they take a whole nine months to download!"

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Eddie Cochran.


The Cases of Eddie Drake was a short-lived (13 episodes) private eye show on the Dumont Network.  It was based on the George Raft radio show The Cases of Mr. Ace, which in turn was based on the 1946 George Raft/Sylvia Sidney film Mr. Ace, in which Mr. Ace was a gangster rather than a detective.  The movie was written by Fred F. Finklehoffe.  The movie flopped, the first Raft movie to do so in ten years.  Jason James adapted the show for radio and later for television.  Raft never made it to the television version; the role of Eddie Drake was played Don Haggerty, a B movie actor who played cops and cowboys and later starred in the 1954-1955 syndicated PI show The Files of Jeffrey Jones.

The show was filmed by CBS Television -- anyway, nine episodes were -- but were never shown on CBS, which sold the episodes to Dumont, which began airing them on March 6, 1952.  These episodes also featured Patricia Morison (the original lead in Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate; she turned 100 in 2015 and may still be alive -- at least I've found no obituary for her) as psychiatrist Karen Gayle.  Dumont filmed four additional episodes on its own, replacing Morison's character with criminologist Dr. Joan Wright, played by Lynne Roberts, a B actress who appeared in 21 westerns starring the likes of Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Monte Hale, Kirby Grant, and Tim Holt.  Female co-stars were not unusual for television shows of the time, but to feature two in high-profile, professional jobs was very unusual.

The episode I have linked below, "Shoot the Works," was one of those filmed by CBS in 1949 and shelved until Dumont showed it in 1952.


Monday, January 23, 2017


Neil Sedaka.


It's been a wet and foggy week with a number of distractions.  So, nothing new this week.

Instead, how about a Libravox recording of Henry C. Barkley's 1896 Studies in the Art of Rat Catching, a rather interesting treatise most people are not familiar with?  Since it's a bit over three hours long, I don't expect you to finish it in one go, but you never know when the information may come in handy.

Appropriately enough, the book is read by Clive Catterall.

From a five star Goodreads review:  "Bafflingly lovable!  A profession that hardly exists anymore, described both practically, passionatly [sic] and and adventurously with a great deal of humour."


Sunday, January 22, 2017


  • Walter Cronkite is the actual name of the second highest mountain in the Andes.

  • The man who invented numbers was born with six toes on each foot.  He used his fingers to count.  Unfortunately he lost two toes in what was called The Great Saber-Tooth Calamity.  That is the real reason why we count in base ten.

  • People are not interested in the president's tax returns.

  • Madagascar was once a Southern slave state.  When the Confederacy seceded from the Union, it seceded with it.  In an economic move, the Governor of Madagascar cut the budget for the ropes that tied his state to South Carolina and Madagascar was blown out to sea during the "Great Wind" of 1863.

  • Doorknobs are more intelligent than shoelaces.


Amy Grant.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


Joe Cocker.


"Fear gripped Centerville as its inhabitants cowed before a nameless terror that killed and pillaged wantonly.  Justice was a thing of mockery as marshal after marshal fell victim to the contemptuous blasts of owlhoot guns.  Then Barney Regan made a vow that no matter what the peril, he would restore law and order to The Old Frontier!"

Saddle up, cowboys.  The action begins on page one of this adaptation of a Monte Hale oater.

Barney Regan (Monte Hale) is just sworn in a town marshal (the last marshal was killed) with Skipper, an out of work riverboat captain (Paul Hurst, "It's not my fault the river dried up!") as his deputy when shots ring out.  Yep, those nasty owlhoots have robbed the bank, shot a man, and have ridden off with Regan close after them.  Regan wounds one of the outlaws and brings him to his friend Dr. Tom Creighton (William Henry) for some doctoring.  The secret boss of the gang, lawyer John Wagner (Tristam Coffin) sends hypochondriac henchman "Pills" (William Haade) to kill the wounded man before he could talk.  Somewhere along the line, Dr. Tom gets accused of the murder of county judge Ames (Victor Kilian).  (Oh, woe!)  Dr. Tom's sweetheart Betty Ames (Claudia Barrett), the niece of the dead judge is bereft.  Can Barney Regan fulfill his vow to restore law and order to Centerville?

That's the plot of both the movie and the comic book.  There's fights and shootings and skullduggery.  If you like B westerns and comic books, this might just be for you.


Friday, January 20, 2017


The Zombies.


The Woman in the Case by Ellery Queen (1966)

The cover of this Bantam Books paperback states "FIRST TIME IN PAPERBACK!" -- leading one to infer that there had been a previous hardbound edition.  'T'aint so.  In fact, this edition (simultaneously published in Canada) was the only edition ever published.   A quick check on Worldcat lists only six copies held in libraries -- exactly the number currently available on Abebooks with a price range from $3.50 to $36.00.  Add to this the fact that the book is the second of only two true crime collections published by Queen and you have what could deservedly be called a Forgotten Book.

Assembled here are nineteen brief articles first published in the Sunday newspaper supplement The American Weekly, from 1958 and 1959, all dealing with women who killed or who were killed..  Rhonda Belle Martin poisoned her husband for a $2,500 life insurance policy.  Irene Schroeder shot two policemen during routine traffic stop, killing one of them while her young son watched.  Young Eileen Soule bashed her roommate's head with a flat iron, her motive still in question.  Apartment house janitor Joe Nischt got rid of Rose Michaelis' body by incinerating it in the building's furnace and Nischt's wife eventually sued the tavern where he had been drinking the day of the murder, claiming he would never had killed if he had been sober -- she got $5,000 in damages.

In a well-known case from New Zealand, teenagers Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme murdered Parker's mother.  Because of their ages, they could not be given the death penalty; rather, they were ordered "detained at her Majesty's pleasure."  Queen's final paragraph in this article was short-sighted:  "Her Majesty's pleasure, according to New Zealand Authorities, will keep the teenage 'women' in this shocking case in prison for the rest of their natural lives."  Well, that didn't happen.  Both girls were eventually released, never to have contact with each other.  Juliet Hulme's name was changed to Anne Perry and she became a noted mystery author.

There's nothing major here for true crime aficionados who would be better served reading cases by William Roughead, Edward D. Radin, or any one of dozens of classic true crime authors.  Still, the pieces in The Woman in the Case are written in an entertaining, breezy style.   They may not have have depth, but they are quite enjoyable.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


From 1933, The Girls of the Golden West.  The "Girls" were sisters Millie and Dollie Good (nee Goad) who recorded over five dozen songs from 1933 to 1938.


The November 6, 1945 episode of Inner Sanctum features Boris Karloff as a husband who strangles his wife and walls her in their rundown mansion.  For forty years, her ghostly wails haunt poor Boris,  showing you can strangle and wall up a good woman but you cannot shut her up -- especially when she has something to say.  (Something to keep in mind on Saturday as women march on Washington and other cities throughout America.)

Paul McGrath is your host and Mary Bennett hawks Lipton Tea for this original episode.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Lucille Bogan (1897-1948), one of the first American blues singers to be recorded, here with one of her most famous songs.  WARNING!  This one is definitely NSFW (or almost anywhere else)!


I was in the mood for a bad movie with Tor Johnson.  I got a very movie with Tor Johnson.

The Beast of Yucca Flats, written, directed, co-produced, edited, presented (whatever that means, but IMDb gives it as a separate credit, and featuring (as narrator, gas station attendant, and man buying newspaper) Coleman Francis, had a budget (I'm guessing here) of just under $3.  In true Mickey and Judy "Hey, let's put on a show!" style, four of the six persons listed as various producers had acting roles in this flick.  One producer also had his brother in a role.  Coleman Francis' two sons were also roped into acting in this turkey. One of the producers served as makeup artist/department.  "Guest Star" Tor Johnson shows up at number 17 (of) 17 in the credits, even though Johnson had the "Starring" role on the movie posters, rather than a "Guest Starring" role.

The movie opens up with a loud and irritating clock ticking effect as naked Lanell Cado pats her face dry with a towel before she is unconvincingly strangled by an unknown person.  This takes one minute 31 seconds of the 53 minute 52 second run time I will never get back.  (For those interested, the nudity takes up all of 27 seconds and -- not to knock Lanell -- is not very interesting and has nothing to do with whatever passes for the plot.

Oh.  The plot.  The movie's tag linen is "Commies made him an atomic mutant!" -- in fancy red type and all caps so you know it's serious.  Tor Johnson plays a defecting Russian scientist caught in an atomic explosion who now roams Yucca Flats as a monster.  That's it.

If you scroll down on the Internet Archive link, you'll see some positive reviews:

  • (T)his is *THE* worst film ever made.  Every single second scrapes at your psyche...My mind will never recover from this unholy torment.
  • (A)void and move to another film and don't look back.
  • (A)t least the set doesn't wobbly [sic] being mostly natural.
  • It has to be one of the most inept pieces of cinema ever made.
  • (T)he most exciting part of the film, the first fifteen seconds.*
  • (M)ind-numbing tedium.  I hope Tor Johnson got paid.
  • Man, from Plan 9 to this?...Budget was $34,000**...Sombody [sic] walked of with $33,900!
And this was about as positive as these reviews got.

You know you're dying to watch this now, aren't you?

Go ahead.  I won't tell.

* Well, there's one Lanell Cado fan, I guess.
** Okay, so my guess of a less than $3 budget was off.

Monday, January 16, 2017


Holly Near and Ronnie Gilbert.


  • "Pauline Ashwell" (Pauline Whitby), Unwillingly to Earth.  SF collection with four stories about the very capable young Lizzie Lee, including "The Lost Kafoozalum," a finalist for the 1961 Hugo for Best Short Fiction, and "Unwillingly to School," a finalist for the 1959 Hugo for Best Novelette.  The remaining two stories placed number 12 and 20 for the 1983 and 1989 Locus Awards, respectively.  All stories originally appeared in Astounding/Analog.  The author also used the pseudonym "Paul Ash" for some SF stories.
  •  Poppy Z. Brite, The Crow:  The Lazarus Heart.  Comic book and film franchise tie-in novel.  "five, four, three, two...Jared Poe counts the days on Louyisiana's Death Row.  The controversial S&M photographer has been comdemned to die for killing his lover.  He doesn't know who did it.  Only that he didn't.  Can he clear his name and find the real killer in time?  No.  for this is no ordinary thriller.  We are in the dark realm of The Crow, and Jared must feel the cold shudder of Death; must hear the beating of black wings; must prowl the shadowy goth netherworld of New Orleans, to prove he was no killer when he died.  And find out what kind of killer he has become."
  • Charles de Lint, Spiritwalk.  Urban fantasy collection with five stories.  A sequel to the author's 1984 novel Moonheart.  "Tamson House, in modern, urban Ottawa, is a rambling, eccentric curiosity of a house -- and a place of hidden Power.  built at a point where the leylines meet, upon a land that was once a sacred site, it is the gateway to a spirit-world where Celtic and Native American magicks mingle and leak into our own."  Nominated for the 1993 World Fantasy Award for Best Collection.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


Bobby Rydell.


Hillman Periodicals changed the title of its Air Fighter Comics to Airboy Comics to capitalize on their most popular air ace character.  Airboy is just that, a boy.  The blond-haired lad sports yellow gauntlets and boots, blue pants and scarf, and a red shirt with a buttoned yellow "V" on the chest.  Our hero has just flown 2100 miles mainland China to deliver the "spot," a new invention designed to wipe out the Japanese High Command.  The American commander of the base refuses to send Airboy to tokyo for the final leg of the mission because 1) Airboy is just a boy, and 2) Airboy is too valuable to be sacrificed on what is sure to be a suicide mission.  Like any red-blooded boy hero, Airboy ignores the orders and steals a plane to deliver the devastating "spot" to the enemy.  It turns out that 'the spot is a radioactive element.  Its attractive electronic force is attuned to whole bomb loads in our ships -- and it will draw those bombs right to it!  Whoever carries the spot will probably be killed -- it's a suicide job!"  The spot is also drawing bullets from the fleet of Japanese Zeroes trying to stop Airboy.

Airboy is shot down but is able to send a radio signal to his "bird-plane."  (I see you're scratching your heads.  The "bird-plane" is just a plane that obeys Airboy's commands and has with bird wings that flap.  Okay?)   Birdie takes Airboy to the outskirts of Tokyo and Airboy decides to destroy his beloved plane rather than let the Japanese capture it.  Instead of capturing the bird-plane, the Japanese capture Airboy and begin to torture him, but the scrappy lad will not talk.  (All ends well and I have a feeling the Japanese will lose the war.)

Airboy is not the only air hero in this comic book.  There's also Sky Wolf, who fights the Nazis while wearing a white wolf's skin and head.  This time he's trying to solve the mystery of the bird with one wing -- a token that somehow will bring renewed power to the Third Reich.  For grins, there's Pvt. Skinny McGinty, a hapless soldier on guard duty at an American base when a Japanese spy mistakes him for his contact.  Through dumb (and the emphasis is on dumb) luck, Skinny does a number on the spy.

If you thought the guy in a wolf costume was stretching it, wait until you see the Iron Ace.  This flyboy wears a full set of armor.  He even wears the armor, including helmet, when infiltrating a Japanese camp while disguised as Uncle Sam.  Honest!  (Uncle Sam looks a bit bulky because of all the armor underneath the costume.)

They just don't make them like this anymore.


Friday, January 13, 2017


Greg Brown.


Isaac Asimov's Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction #6:  Neanderthals edited by Robert Silverberg, Martin H. Greenberg, & Charles G. Waugh (1987)

So, when is an Asimov/Greenberg/Waugh anthology not an Asimov/Greenberg/Waugh anthology?  When it's a Silverberg/Greenberg/Waugh anthology.  I'm not sure why, but there it is.

From 1983 to 1991, Signet Books published two anthology series from Issac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, & Charles G. Waugh:  Isaac Asimov's Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction (with ten volumes) and Isaac Asimov's Magical Worlds of Fantasy (with twelve volumes).  Each was a highly readable themed collection combining the more familiar with the decidedly less so.  Each -- with the exception of this volume -- was co-edited by Asimov.  Silverberg was a great choice to fill in for the Good Doctor.  An experienced editor and one who is very knowledgeable about the science fiction and fantasy fields, Silverberg, like Asimov, has had a long writing career divided between highly regarded fiction and diverse and entertaining non-fiction.  Silverberg also expanded three of Asimov's best-known stories into novels:  Nightfall (1990, based on the story of the same title"), Child of Time 1991, a.p.a., The Ugly Little Boy, based on Asimov's Story "The Ugly Little Boy," also known as "Lastborn"), and The Positronic Man (1992, based on "The Bicentennial Man").   From 1979 though 1992, DAW Books published the Asimov/Greenberg anthology series The Great SF Stories, with each volume covering a specific year, from 1939 through to 1963, 25 volumes in all.  In 2001, Greenberg joined with Silverberg to expand the series by one year with Robert Silverberg Presents the Great SF Stories, 1965 (NESFA Press).

Although not edited by Asimov, Neanderthals does have an introduction by him and features his story "The Ugly Little Boy."

Neanderthals are a good breeding ground for science fiction writers.  Many of us have some Neanderthal in our DNA#3, which indicates cross breeding at some point in our distant past.  How did this happen?  How did the Neanderthals cope with population pressures, competition, and technological changes?  How did Neanderthal Man die out?  Or, is he still alive today.  And, if alive, is he hiding or hiding in plain sight?  These and many more questions have been SF fodder for decades.

Like all the other books in the series, it's hard to go wrong with this one.

The line-up:

  • "Introduction:  Neanderthal Man" by Isaac Asimov
  • "Genesis" by H. Beam Piper (a Paratime Police story, from Future Combines with Science Fiction Stories, September 1951)
  • "The Ugly Little Boy" by Isaac Asimov (from Galaxy Science Fiction, September 1958 under the title "Lastborn")
  • "The Long Remembering" by Poul Anderson (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1957)
  • "The Apotheosis of Ki" by Miriam Allen deFord (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 1956)
  • "Man o' Dreams" by Will McMorrow (from Argosy All-Story Weekly, January 5, 1929)
  • "The Treasure of Odirex" by Charles Sheffield (an Erasmus Darwin story, from Fantastic, July 1978)
  • "The Ogre" by Avram Davidson (from If, July 1959)
  • "Alas, Poor Yorick" by Thomas Easton (a Howie Wyman story, from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1981)
  • "The Gnarly Man" by L. Sprague de Camp (from Unknown, June 1939)
  • "The Hairy Parents" by A. Bertram Chandler ( although not part of a series per se, this features Chandler's alter ego, George Whitley; from Void #2, November 1975)
  • "The Alley Man" by Philip Jose Farmer (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1959; this placed second in the 1960 Hugo Best Short Fiction category)
  • "Afterward:  The Valley of Neander" by Robert Silverberg (an extract from Silverberg's 1964 non-fiction book Man Before Adam.)

Several of these stories border on fantasy, but let's not quibble.  Each one is a gem.

For those interested, here's a list of Asimov's "Wonderful Worlds" and "Magical Worlds":

Isaac Asimov's Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction:
  • #1  Intergalactic Empires (1983)
  • #2  The Science Fictional Olympics (1984)
  • #3  Supermen (1984)
  • #4  Comets (1986)
  • #5  Tin Stars (1986)
  • #6  Neanderthals (1987; edited by Silverberg, Greenberg, & Waugh)
  • #7  Space Shuttles (1987)
  • #8  Monsters (1988)
  • #9  Robots (1989)
  • #10  Invasions (1990)

Isaac Asimov's Magical Worlds of Fantasy:
  • #1  Wizards (1983)
  • #2  Witches  (1984)
  • #3  Cosmic Knights (1985)
  • #4  Spells (1985)
  • #5  Giants (1985)
  • #6  Mythical Beasties (1986)
  • #7  Magical Wishes (1986)
  • #8  Devils (1987)
  • #9  Atlantis (1988)
  • #10  Ghosts (1988)
  • #11  Curses (1989)
  • #12  Faeries (1991)
Check 'em out.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


Look closely and you may see Richard Robinson.


Dave Dudley.


Although Internet Archive bills this as a radio program from 1938, it's evidently an LP that was issued in the 70s (or, maybe the 60s).

Whatever.  It's a pretty good show.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Mary Black.


There was a heated discussion among three animals as to which one was the best.

The hawk said, "I'm the best.  My eyesight is perfect.  I have sharp talons and a fierce beak.  I can swoop down from the heights and capture my prey."

The lion said, "No.  I'm the best.  I'm the king of beasts.  I am very strong and no one dares challenge me."

The skunk said, "Well, I don't have sharp talons or mighty claws but I believe I am the best.  I have a natural weapon that can fend off any predator like a hawk or a lion."

The argument kept going on and on, and over and over again, until a large bear came along and swallowed them all:  hawk, lion, and stinker.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


From 1926, Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers.


Jack Perrin's career as a western hero was on its deep down-hill slide by the time he starred as Border Patrol Captain Jim "Hair-Trigger" Casey in this low-budget oater.   For most of the Twenties he eked a living working for the ultra-low budget companies.  Then, at the end of the decade Perrin moved to Columbia to star in a series of Canadian Mountie pictures.  His fortunes did not last with the advent of the talkies and he soon sank down to the bottom feeders of the Hollywood industry.  From 1936 through 1962 he appeared in over 180 films in uncredited roles.  Beginning in 1952 Perrin appeared in various episode of 39 television series, also in uncredited roles.  Basically he went from movie star to extra.

When one of his ranch hands is murdered, Jim Casey goes home on leave to investigate and finds that his ranch foreman has been involved in smuggling Chinese into the country.  Backed by a well-known cast, Hair-Trigger Casey swerves between action and boredom throughout its 56-minute run time.

Backing up Perrin is Starlight the Wonder Horse, who "acted" in 82 films from 1921 to 1936.  The two-legged cast includes Betty Mack (perhaps best known as a Mack Sennett and Three Stooges foil) as the obligatory female, Ed Cassidy (Alias Billy the Kid, Son of Zorro) as the villainous human trafficker, Fred Toones (once again as his well-known comic Black foil "Snowflake"), western regular Hal Taliaferro (Red River, The Yellow Rose of Texas) this time acting under the name of "Wally Wales," Robert Walker (Phantom of the Desert, West of Cheyenne), former vaudevillian Phil Dunham (Kiss Me Kate, Robin Hood, Jr.), Dennis Moore ("Smokey" Moore in the Lone Rider series and "Denny Moore" in the Range Buster series), and Victor Wong (King Kong, Son of Kong) as the vengeance-seeking Chinese.

The man to blame for this film was Harry L. Fraser, who directed this as one of his more than four score motion pictures from 1925 to 1952.  Fraser also provided the story (under the pseudonym "Monroe Talbot") and the screenplay (under the pseudonym "Weston Edwards).

The one review included at the bottom of the link was less than stellar.  My own opinion is somewhat kinder.  Decide for yourself.

Monday, January 9, 2017


Don McLean.


  • Ben Bova, The Sam Gunn Omnibus.  A 2007 SF collection featuring "every story ever written about Sam Gunn, and then some."  Space jockey Sam Gunn is one of Bova's most popular creations and this book gives us over 700 pages of his adventures.  Bova is a natural storyteller but he's so darned prolific that people sometimes overlook how darned good a writer he is.
  • Lee Child, One Shot.  A Jack Reacher thriller.  This is the one that started the film franchise.  (Can two Tom Cruise flicks thus far be called a franchise?)  "Six shots.  Five dead.  One heartland city thrown into a state of terror.  But within hours the cops have it solved:  a slam-dunk case.  Except for one thing.  The accused man says:  You got the wrong guy.  Then he says:  Get Reacher for me.  And sure enough, ex-military investigator Jack Reacher is coming.  He knows this shooter -- a trained military sniper who should never have missed a shot.  Reacher is certain something is not right -- and soon the slam-dunk case explodes.'
  • Nick Harris, A Seal Walks into a Club.  British joke book, some of which are just too lame to be on Bad Joke Wednesday, to wit:  Why did the blonde climb over the glass wall?  To see what was on the other side.  (Laughter is optional.)
  • Will Henry" (Henry Wilson Allen), The Bear Paw Horses.  Western.  "The magnificent Bear Paw horses were hidden high in a rock-walled pasture.  They had been stolen when the Oglala Sioux came into the reservation.  Then one old medicine mad and a knife-wielding squaw rounded up and drove out the nearly 400 ponies over Bad Face Pass.  And with the surprising help of a horse-thieving con man with a lightning draw, they dared to carry out the last desperate orders of the great, feared warrior chief -- Crazy Horse."
  • Nick Kyne & Lindsey Priestley, editors, Planterkill.  SF gaming (Warhammer 40,000) tie-in anthology with seven stories.  "Brutal green-skinned orcs, mysterious eldar and the deadly champions of the Chaos powers all seek to conquer the galaxy.  The forces of the Immortal emperor, the stalwart Imperil Guard and the superhuman Adeptus Astartes are the only defence against enslavement and slaughter.  Fro in the grim darkness of the far future there is only war!"
  • Chris Wangler, Ghost Stories of Georgia:  True Tales of Ghastly Hauntings.  True?  Yeah, right.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


Gerard Vlemmings' wonderful blog The Presurfer linked to this article a couple of days ago.  I found it fascinating and beautiful.  I think you will, too.


Here's Aretha.

Saturday, January 7, 2017


Red Sovine.


This is an interesting comic book -- an educational comic that employed the art work and perspective of many of the science fiction titles of its time.  Check out Henri Becquerel's 1896 laboratory and his facial features on page 4 or the top-hatted (and somewhat satanic) cynic on page 31.  The artwork in this issue is amazing.

Science Comics was published by Humor Publications, one of several different companies run by A. A. Wynn, who would go on the found paperback publisher Ace Books in 1952.   Wynn's companies published nearly 50 comic book titles from 1940 to 1956, including Andy Comics, Crime Must Pay the Penalty, Revealing Romances, Space Action, War Heroes, Indian Braves, Challenge of the Unknown, Ten-Story Romance, Web of Mystery, and Mr. RiskScience Comics appears to be the only "educational" one of the bunch.

(BTW, the first letter of each chapter title in David McDaniel's Ace book The Monster Wheel Affair
spells out, "A A WYNN IS A TIGHTWAD.")

The January issue contains four main stories, covering the atomic bomb, penicillin, and carbon dioxide's use as a fire retardant:

  • "The Bomb That Won the War" (art by Rudy Palais)
  • "White Magic:  The Miracle of Penicillin"
  • "How 'Soda Pop' Gas Fights Fire" (art by Rudy Palais)
  • "Marconi:  Inventor of the Wireless"
In addition, there are features on aerodynamics and weather forecasting, as well as a p[age on "Science Oddities."


Friday, January 6, 2017


Artie Shaw.


Survival..Zero by Mickey Spillane (1970)

Mickey Spillane.  Love him or hate him.  I love him.  Usually.

Let's get this out of the way:  Survival...Zero is a lousy book.  Sadder yet, it's a lousy Mike Hammer book.

Spillane's Hammer career can be viewed in three stages.  First, from 1947 to 1952, when Mike Hammer exploded onto the scene with I, the Jury and continued for another five novels.  Second, from 1962 to 1970, when Hammer reappeared in The Girl Hunters and blazed his way through four additional novels, ending with Survival...Zero.  And finally, Hammer returned for 1989's The Killing Man and 1996's Black Alley.  I suspect by the time Spillane was writing Survival...Zero he was just phoning it in.  And, perhaps, he was trying to come to grips with the sea change in societal norms during the mid- to late-Sixties.

Spillane's writing chops were honed on comic books, where he wrote an uncounted number of stories for such titles as Captain Marvel, Superman, Captain America, and Batman.  Hammer himself was first conceived as a comic book character.  In the novels, Hammer lives in a two dimensional fantasy world, one where there is good and there is bad and no in between.  Hammer himself is the hammer of God, punishing evil with death from his .45 with no remorse.  Hammer is a Walter Mitty fantasy, a tough guy who brooks no nonsense, who always comes out on top, and who always incites sexual yearnings in beautiful women.  All this and a porkpie hat.

Survival...Zero has all the earmarks of a Mike Hammer story.  A friend of Hammer's is brutally murdered and Hammer vows vengeance.  Along the way he crosses paths with a big-league gangster and the head of a giant conglomerate, rubbing elbows with the high and the low.  We, as readers, know that somehow this case is tied into the murder of another mob boss and the unexplained death of an unknown person in the New York subway.  There's also an Stalin-era Soviet plot to destroy America that has recently been put into play and neither the Russians or America can do anything to stop it.  Worse yet, those who originated the plot did not realize that it put the entire world at risk, not just the United States.  And for sex appeal, we have the ever-beautiful, ever-faithful Velma, a beautiful, drug-addicted actress with an eye tattooed on her navel, and a beautiful, thrill-happy corporate accountant.  Two these women keep stripping down, trying to seduce our hero.  The language -- particularly as it relates to sex -- is more liberal than one expects from a mike Hammer novel.  A reaction to the changing times, perhaps?  Long-haired hippies are always dirty.  Again, a reaction to the times?

The plot doesn't move along as much as it stumbles, going from point to point in a rather lurching manner.  The action seems minor; even a major gun battle is quickly forgotten.  Hammer's detecting seems to be minimal, relying on half a dozen or so denizens of the varied NYC streets to do the work for him.  The most Hammer does through the first 90% of the book is grin at various lowlifes who quiver and quake under the grin.  (He does spend a lot of time with the naked ladies, though, leading them on while heroically resisting them.  Ho hum.)

Spillane could have -- and has -- done much better.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


Carl Perkins.


From 1981, an adaptation of M. R. James' classic ghost story.  Brrrr.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


The Everly Brothers.


When the caterpillar finally came out of his cocoon, he immediately fell into a lake.  He tried to swim for shore but was stricken and died.  It was a butterfly stroke.


Today is my brother's birthday and it is pure coincidence that it falls on Bad Joke Wednesday.

The kid turned out much better than I thought he would.  He has a great wife, two beautiful daughters, a one-eyed dog, and a weird sense of humor.  I'm proud to call him my brother.

Have a great day, Kenny!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


Johnny Ray.


Before there was American Idol, before there was something called a Ryan Seacrest, and even before Ted Mack, there was Major Edward Bowes, whose Original Amateur Hour ruled the radio airwaves from 1934 until bowes' death in 1946.  At that point, Bowes' assistant, Ted Mack, took over the hosting duties as the program touted it was "produced by the Major Bowes staff."  The program soon shifted over to the fledgling medium of television and Ted Mack's name eventually replaced that of Bowes.

Edward Bowes was born on June 14, 1874 in San Francisco.  He ran a successful real estate business that was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.  He then headed to New York where he found show business to be lucrative and began composing, arranging, and conducting music, as well as producing Broadway shows.  He had hosted some amateur nights in the past and in 1934 He brought the concept to New York's station WHN in 1934 and a juggernaut was born.  He insisted that he be addressed as "Major," a title that seemed to fit his brusk and overbearing style.  Whether he actually held that rank in active-duty service in World War I or was given that rank in the Reserves is in question.

Over the years, Bowes introduced a few major talents among the vast majority who went nowhere.  Among those now well-known:

Frank Sinatra:

Teresa Brewer:

Maria Callas:

Beverly Sills:

Deanna Durbin:

And, just see what Major Bowes hath wrought, here's a 7-year-old Gladys Knight from the Ted Mack Amateur Hour:

Monday, January 2, 2017


Charlie Pride.


  • Erle Stanley Gardner. writing as "A. A. Fair," The Knife Slipped.  The long-lost Bertha Cool/Donald Lam novel from Hard Case Crime.  This was meant to be the second book in the series but the publisher wavered because Bertha Cool was being too Bertha-like.  The novel was shelved, the book forgotten until now.  I remember reading a comment from Anthony Boucher about five decades ago that many (perhaps most) readers preferred Gardner's Cool/Lam books to the Perry Mason books.  I can see why.  They've been a favorite of mine since I first discovered them.  Up until last year I could say that I had read all in the series.  But now there's this gift that, in its very minor way, helps to offset a terrible 2016.  This one's gong to be fun.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Hard to believe, but 2016 is now in the rearview mirror.  It was the year that just seemed it would not end; the hits kept coming -- from the overabundance of celebrity deaths to the violence in Syria and elsewhere, from the rise of white nationalism to the election of a dangerous buffoon.  Things got so bad that Buckingham Palace was forced to announce that the Queen was not dead.  (Her Nonegenarian Majesty has been sick for the past eleven days or so but in her British stiff upper lip way she told 2016 to eat it; I sincerely hope she also makes it through 2017.)

There were many good things about 2016 and we should not forget them.  On a personal level, my family came through the year happy and healthy.  Across America and the world an amazing amount of people performed acts of kindness.  2016 brought a new determination among many of us to fight for the important things such as man's stewardship of the earth and against such stupidities such as the blind prejudice against people based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, economic status, or which professional sports team they favor.  And, love her or hate her, the majority of American voters elected our first woman president.  Too bad she won't be taking the Oath of Office later this month, but the way has been cleared for the real first woman president at some time in the future, hopefully sooner than later.

The New Year is a time for resolutions.  A time to buckle down and try to become a better person, physically or otherwise.  As we progress through the year, most resolution begin to evaporate until even the mist has disappeared.  That's the reason I try not to make resolutions.  This year I think I'll make a plan, not a resolution.

This year my plan is to keep on keeping on.

Yep, I'm going to continue what I've been doing for as long as I am able.

I am going to continue showing my wife, my family, and my friends how much I love and respect them.

I am going to continue being empathetic and non-judgmental whenever possible.

I am going to continue being judgmental where it counts.

I am going to continue being snarky because there's not enough snark in this world.

I am going to continue finding beauty and wonder in what's around me.  Each of us lives in a beautiful spot on a beautiful planet in a beautiful universe.  I will not to forget that.

I am going to continue to read and watch and listen and question.

I am going to keep calling bullshit on false claims, false science, false facts, and false people.

I am going to continue to weep and mourn and rage because some bad shit is bound to go down.

I am going to continue to laugh because I am not an inanimate, unthinking object.  I am man, hear me guffaw.

I am going to continue sending my prayers and good thoughts to you and your loved ones, even though you may not realize I'm doing so.  I am going to cheer your accomplishments, even though you may not realize I'm doing so.  Part of my spirit will be with you during the hard times, even though you may not realize it.  I am going to cherish your connection to me, even though may not know who I am.

I am going to keep on keeping on.

While at the same time wishing you a very happy and prosperous 2017.


Be Thou My Vision.