Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, September 30, 2017


The Ink Spots.


One of my favorite daily stops on the blogosphere is Evan Lewis' delightful Davy Crockett's Almanack.  So when I came across this issue of the original almanack, I had to read it.

Supposedly written by Davy himself (they weren't), the almanacks began with the 1835 edition.  The first four were printed in Nashville, maybe, but certainly in the South or the West.  The next three were printed in Boston despite the cover claim that they were printed in Nashville.  The Crockett almanacks not only strengthened the myth of Davy Crockett, but they were sure fire money makers -- about 55 different almanacs appeared in various parts of the country from 1835 to 1859.  Crockett himself died at the Alamo on March 6, 1836.

The almanacks were filled with frontier humor and tall tales written in the vernacular.  Men, women, and animals are larger than life. often brave, sometimes foolish. always entertaining.


Friday, September 29, 2017


You don't have to wait for the midnight hour to enjoy Wilson Pickett.


The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl (1977)

Roald Dahl was a slow and meticulous writer, although he wrote nineteen novels -- eleven of them were very short YA tales and another seven were just a bit longer, all of these being children's books of which he is now best known, leaving just one full-length adult novel.  His short story output is basically the same -- seven major collections, with fifteen additional collections that basically remixed the contents of six of those collections.  He also wrote two memoirs, several very short books of rhymes, a few films, and a couple of cook books.

His first collection, Over to You, was a short book with stories about World War II.  His second and third, Someone Like You and Kiss, Kiss, covered many of the wonderful, mordant tales on which he built his early reputation.  Most of the fourth, Switch Bitch, were sanitizingly sexy stories about Uncle Oswald.  The remaining two were Two Fables (just 61 pages) and Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life (179 pages, with seven stories, two of them reprints from Kiss, Kiss).  A small, but very major, output.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is a mixed bag.  It includes his first published story, an account of his experience of being shot down in Libya during the war.  Their are also two nonfiction pieces: "The Mildenhall Treasure" (about the discovery of Roman artifacts in an English field) and "Lucky Break" (an autobiographical piece about becoming a writer -- most of which was revised for his later memoirs Boy:  A Tale of Childhood and Going Solo).  Of the remaining stories:

  • "The Boy Who Talked to Animals" -- A sensitive boy protests the capture of a giant sea turtle.  He and the turtle disappear and he is later seen riding the turtle out to sea.
  • "The Hitchhiker" -- A man who has picked up a hitchhiker gets stopped for speeding.  The hitchhiker, however, is a very special man with a very special talent.
  • "The Swan" -- A young bully gets a rifle for Christmas and he and a friend (also a bully and a thug) go off to shoot some birds.  They come across young, thin boy and begin to torture (torture, not torment) him.  In the end they kill a protected swan, cut off its wings, tie them to the boys arms, force him to climb a tree, and order him to jump.
  • "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar" - An odd little novelette about a bored man who learns to see with his eyes closed, but after he attains his goal, he finds his entire personality has changed.
As expected, the stories are wise, witty, and unique.  In other words, they are written by Roald Dahl and are totally entertaining.


As far as I can tell, Dahl wrote only one story that has not appeared in any of his books.  It's really not even a story but a deleted scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Charlie, Mike Teevee, Veruca Salt, and Augustus Gloop were not the only ones to receive a golden ticket.  There was also Miranda Piker, a snotty little girl who loves school and hates fun.  "Spotty Powder" is the story of her comeuppance from Willy Wonka.  A short but delightful tale.  It can be found in Peter Haining's YA horror anthology Scary!  Stories That Will Make You Scream (1998).  Check it out sometime.

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Folklorist Francis James Child (1825-1896) spent the last half of the nineteenth century collected English and Scottish ballads and their American variants.   As a professor of rhetoric at Harvard University, Child supervised the publication of a massive 130-volume collection of British poetry, some of which he also edited; a number of these volumes brought some poets to the general reading public for the first time.  In 1876, Child had an offer to become a research professor at the newly created Johns Hopkins University; in order to retain him at Harvard a new position  -- Professor of English -- was created for Child, freeing him from many mundane duties and allowing him to devote his time to collecting and researching English ballads, their origins, and their variants over the years. In the end, he published 305 ballads in the ten volume The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898; the last being published posthumously), citing some thirty different language sources.

The Child Ballads soon became popular with both American and English folk singers and many of them have been recorded many times.  Their themes of love, sex, persecution, and murder have resonated well over a century after they were first published, not only with traditional folk singers but with popular British and American performers such as Fairport Convention, Pentagle, Steeleye Span, The Everley Brothers, Art Garfunkel, Fleet Foxes, among others.

This link takes you to such artists as Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, Pete Seeger, Jean Ritchie, Shirley Collins, Rick Lee, and Moira Craig performing over three dozen songs (with some repeats):

And this link brings you to some of "the most disturbing Child Ballads" from Jean Hewson, Steeleye Span, Matty Groves, Joan Baez, The Wainwright Sisters, Abner Jay, Jerry Garcia & David Grisman, Harry Belafonte (whoops, this one is blocked), and Tom Waits, among others:



One of my favorites from John Denver.


Crime Classics was CBS radio's anthology series that focused on true crime stories.  The docudrama ran for a year, from June 15, 1953 to June 30, 1954.  Classic Crimes was the brainchild of Elliott Lewis, who produced and directed the series.  The series was co-written by Morton Fine and David Friedkin.  The narrator was "Thomas Hyland" (actor Lew Merrill). 

Webster (1793-1850) was a professor of chemistry and geology at Harvard Medical College and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  He accused of murdering  Dr. George Parkman, of whom he owed money, on November 23, 1849.  The case, one of many notable ones called "The Crime of the Century," for the early use of forensic evidence in identifying the body, which had been partially cremated.  There was some controversy as to whether Webster actually did the deed.  Webster could not testify in his own defense (per Massachusetts law of the day), his lawyers appear to have done an inadequate job, and the principal judge was a close relative of Parkman's and instructed the jury to come back with a guilty verdict.  Webster was found guilty and later signed a confession.  He was hanged on August 30, 1850

"The Terrible Deed of John White Webster" aired on July 13, 1953 and featured the voices of Herb Butterfield, Jay Novello (as Webster), Jean Howell, Junius Matthews, Paula Winslowe, Larry Thor, and Martha Wentworth.

If you are fascinated by true crime, this should be just your cup of tea.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Big Brother and The Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin.


Q. :  How many people with ADD does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A. :  Wanna go ride our bikes?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Very early Beatles.


From 1916, this silent film from George and Ernest Williamson's Williamson's Submarine Film Corporation utilizes the brothers' under-the-ocean photography to produce "The First Submarine Photoplay Ever Filmed."

The film's director, Stuart Paton (who sometimes used the name Stuart Payton), was also the anonymous writer of the movie, which conflated Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island and took a few liberties with both.  Paton began directing short films in 1914, also writing a number of scenarios.  His first full-length film (Courtmartialed) was released in 1915.  From 1915 through 1937 Paton directed 53 full-length movies.  He also served an uncredited producer for Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Allen Holubar starred as the tortured Captain Nemo.  Holubar was a prominent dramatic actor when he gave up the stage for a brief movie career, spanning from 1913 through 1917, when he gave up acting to form his own production company.  He died in 1923 at the shockingly young age of 35 from complications following gallstone surgery.

Professor Aronnax, who started out as one of Nemo's prisoners, was played by Dan Hanlon, who made only three films -- all in 1916, with this as his final film.  Not much is known about him.  He died in 1951, age 85.

The rough and ready whaler Ned Land was played by Curtis Benton, who appeared in fourteen silent shorts and four full-length movies from 1915 through 1917; Benton then concentrated on screenwriting and was credited with nineteen films through 1929.  Benton restarted his acting caree in 1931 appearing in thirteen films  -- all as one kind or another of announcer (radio, racetrack, car racing, flight radio, etc.) and all but two uncredited.  His last role was as an announcer in 1937's Kid Galahad.

I don't remember Professor Aronnax having a daughter on the Nautilus when I read the book, but she certainly is in this film.  The lovely and gamin-like Edna Pendleton filled the role of 1916 eye candy very well.  Not much is known about her, but she was probably twenty-nine when she made this film, the last of eight listed on IMDb.  She married in late 1915 and presumably gave up acting soon after.  If alive today (which I strongly doubt) she would be a respectable 130.

Join us now on a classic (under) sea adventure of revenge, discovery, and marvels as we silently follw Nemo and his wondrous adventure through the oceans' depths.

Monday, September 25, 2017


An indie folk song that you may have already seen.  To paraphrase Dylan, "The Times They Is a Strange 'Un."


  • Eric Brown, Helix.  SF novel.  "Five hundred years from its launch, the colony vessel Lovelock is deep into its sub-lightspeed journey, carrying four thousand humans in search of a habitable planet.  When a series of explosions tear the ship apart, it is forced to land on the nearest possible location:  a polar section of the Helix -- a vast, spiral construct of worlds, wound about a G-type sun.  While most of the colonists remain in cold sleep. the surviving crew members of the Lovelock must proceed up-spiral in search of a habitable section.  On their expedition they encounter extraordinary landscapes and alien races, meet with conflict and assistance, and attempt to solve the epic mystery that surrounds the origin of the Helix."  Five years after publishing this 2007 novel Brown returned to this strange construct in Helix Wars.
  • James Herbert, Creed.  Horror novel.  "Sometimes horror is in the mind.  And sometimes it's real.  Telling the difference isn't always easy.  It wasn't for Joe Creed.  He'd just photographed the unreal.  Now he had to pay the price.  Because he had always thought that demons were just a joke.  But the joke was on him.  And it wasn't very funny.  It was deadly..."   Herbert was a major player in the horror genre and I've enjoyed the books of his I have read.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


In which our favorite possum tells us about The Neighborhood Youth Corps.

From 1965:


Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis is in the building.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


The Young Rascals.


Talk Like a Pirate Day was this week so I thought I would make the occasion with a nautical comic book today.

Pulp writer and prolific men's paperback adventure novel author Manning Lee Stokes (writing as Thorne Stevenson) starts us off with "Murder Goes Native!" -- an adventure of South Sea Girl.  South Sea Girl is Alani, the warrior ruler of the Vanishing Isles, a girl who takes no guff and seems never to be without Cheeta, her leopard.  When a movie company films an adventure on Alani's turf, the imperial star of the film becomes jealous of Alani and tries to murder her.  Bad idea.

Stokes also wrote the closing story in this issue:  a Harbor Patrol Adventure, signed only as "Manning."  When a gang of thieves steal uranium from a government lab, they head to the docks where they rendezvous with Cindy Ford, a ruthless female with her own submarine.  The Harbor Patrol is understaffed, leaving only Steve and Squeaky to bring the neer-do-wells to justice.  Easier said than done after the two patrolmen are captured and held prisoner in the sub.

The other major story (and it's a very minor story) in this issue features The Ol' Skipper, a retired sea captain living in the restored wreck of a ship.  A developer is about to evict him when Skipper tells a story about a sea rescue that brought him his home.

There's the usual one and two-page fillers, all nautical related, and a five-page story that covers the career of Joshua Slocum, as well as a four page tall tale written by the aptly named "Watt A. Lyre."

Most of the ads are aimed at boys/men who want to be admired by girls/women.  For only 98 cents you could receive the handy book How to Get Along with Girls.  Then, for $1.98, you can get Master Key to Hypnotism  and apply those skills to women.  Now that you know how to get girls and how to hypnotize them, you're ready (for another 98 cents) The Date-Getter, which allows to score the girls you go out with and includes such things as Date Score Sheets, a Rating Form for Gals, a Date Analyzer, an Automatic Date Selector, and Alibis and Repartee -- and, if you value your life, none of which should be used today.  Each of these three books come in a plain wrapper.

Ignore the ads and dip your toes into this issue of Seven Seas Comics.


Friday, September 22, 2017


Jackie DeShannon.


Keep the Baby, Faith by "Philip DeGrave"  (William DeAndrea) (1986)

There are times when you instinctively know that an author just came up with a cute title and them wrote the book around it.

Yes, there is a woman named Faith and, yes, she is pregnant.  When the book opens, four attempts have been made on Faith's life in a deliberate attempt to kill her unborn child.  Faith is alone and friendless in New York City.  The only person she knows in the Big Apple is her best friend's older brother -- Harry Ross, a newspaper man (as opposed to a journalist) who is responsible for the television listings in a great metropolitan paper referred to as 'The Grayness.'

Harry has known Faith since she was in diapers back in Scarsdale but had not seen her for three years, since he moved to New York city after college graduation.  That was also when Faith graduated from high school and decided not to go to college.  Instead she took her inheritance and her parents' life insurance payment -- about $30,000 -- and moved to Paris to experience that city.  An accidental meeting with the handsome but pale Paul Letron, a man about fifteen years older than the teenager.  Within a week, Letron had proposed to her, within two weeks she accepted.  Letron had a couple of secrets.  First, he was incredibly rich, the very savvy business owner of a large cosmetics company.  And, second, his paleness, which he attributed to anemia, was indicative of something far worse -- a viralant form of cancer.  For the past year, he has been in an irretrievable coma and is now at death's door.

Paul's family had consisted of his step-mother, three step-brothers, and a step-sister-in-law.  Paul himself had inherited control of a small company from his father, which he then grew into a multinational business.  His father's will had specified that, in case of Paul's death, a comfortable living would be given to his wife if he should marry, with the remainder to be split among his second wife and her three children.  But...if Paul fathered a child, the vast amount of the estate would go to the child.  Paul knew how sick he was but did not want to father a child while he was so ill.  He arranged to have his sperm frozen and had Faith agree to artificial insemination when and if he fell hopelessly ill.  So now Faith is pregnant and close to term.  She is convinced that Paul's family is behind the attempts on her life; if she dies before the baby is born (and if the baby is born before Paul dies), her in-laws stand to reap a much larger inheritance.  Now she needs a place to hide until the child is born...And Harry is the only friend she has in New York.

Faith's story is, on the surface, fairly ridiculous and Harry is a trust-but-verify guy.  Faith's story appears to check out.  It seemed much more plausible when Harry and Faith were nearly killed by a homemade bomb, which killed another person.  Then another person dies of poisoning in from of Harry and Faith.  There is a murderer out there, but who is it?  Which family member is out to get Faith and her baby?  Or was it all of them?

Keep the Baby, Faith is a fast first-person read.  Harry is kind of a nebbish with a strong Jewish sense of guilt, and although his Jewishness is somewhat underplayed.  He has a nagging Jewish mother, for example, but she's not that nagging.  Harry is also a bit slow on coming up with ideas and on solving the murders; homicide Lieutenant Craig Rogers is always at least one step ahead of Harry but Harry's help is needed in getting the final proof.

There are references to Doctor Who (this was during the Tom Baker era)and there's even a l;awyer named Hi Marks (which I assume he got).  All-in-all, a solid but not great read.  I'll probably forget all about the book in a week or two, but it was a pleasant way to spend a few hours.

Keep the Baby, Faith was the second of two books William DeAndrea published under the tongue in cheek pseudonym Philip DeGrave.  Under his own name he published eighteen mystery novels (winning an Edgar award twice), one collection of short stories, and the well regarded (and Edgar winning) reference book Encyclopedia Mysteriosa.  I believe he also wrote at least one historical novel under a house name for the Lyle Kenyon Engel fiction factory.  DeAndrea was also a well regarded mystery columnist.  DeAndrea died much too young at 44 from cancer, leaving his wife, mystery writer Oriana Papazoglou/"Jane Haddam" and two young children.

DeAndrea created four popular series:  Matt Cobb (network television investigator), Niccollo Benedetti (professor of criminology), Clifford Driscoll (American spy), and Lobo Blacke and Quinn Booker (DeAndrea's homage to Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, set in the Old West).  He also wrote two interesting historical detective novels.  It's fair to say that his early death robbed the mystery field of interesting and unwritten books.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


The Temptations.


Chic Young's Blondie began as a comic strip on September 8. 1930.  Eighty-seven years l;ater it is still going strong,having spawned two television shows, a successful film series, a long-running radio show, animated cartoons and several books.

Originally, Dagwood Bumstead was the scion of a wealthy railroad family.  He dated Blondie Boopadoop, a lovely "flapper" and (apparently) showgirl.  When the two got married, Dagwood's family disowned him and the married couple had to survive on their own.  Blondie evolved into a suburban housewife, while Dagwood went to work as the J. C. Dithers Construction Company's office manager.  They had a son, Alexander, originally called Baby Dumpling; then a daughter, Cookie.  Both are eternal teenagers now.  In the 60s, their dog Daisy had a litter of five unnamed pups.  Daisy has stayed with the strip, but the pups are now long-gone.  The Bumstead's now live in an unnamed suburb, which was once in the Joplin, Missouri, area.  In popular culture, the comic strip has given the world the Dagwood Sandwich.

The Blondie radio show began on CBS as a summer replacement show for The Eddie Cantor Show.  The show continued on CBS (moving briefly to NBC for a few months in the latter half of 1944) until June 1949.  It spent its final season on ABC and ended in July, 1950.  Arthur Lake and Penny Singleton reprised their roles from the film series.

"Dagwood's New Suit" was first broadcast on October 30, 1939.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017


The Four Seasons.


Saw this ad on Craig's List:

          64" color television, $3, volume is stuck on loud.

I thought, "Well, I can't turn that down."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Gene Pitney.


Here's a first for this blog:  a Sherlock Holmes Herlock Sholmes mystery done totally with marionettes!  It also features the lovely Anna May Wong Anna Went Wrong.  Much of the action takes place in a Limehouse Limejuice opium den.  I have no idea where grandfather's porridge fits into this 9-minute extravaganza.




A lot of references I just didn't get, maybe because I'm not a 1930 Brit.

This one appears to be a love-it or a hate-it with no middle ground.

Enjoy.  (Or not.)

Monday, September 18, 2017


After Harvey and Irma and Jose (maybe) and whatever the K and L storms are called, a bunch of wind called Maria is lurking in the Atlantic.  No one know how powerful it could become nor whether if will make landfall.

Still, it seems an apt time to post this song.

Take your pick:

The Kingston Trio,

and Harve Presnell,

and Robert Goulet,

and Frankie Laine,

and Sam Cooke,

and The Browns,

and Vaughn Monroe,

and Ed Ames,

and Robert Horton,

and Bob Oates,

and Karntner Landesjugendchor,

and, to close this out, The Smothers Brothers.


No Incoming this week.  Thus sadness reigns over Jerry's House of Everything...

But. wait!

Maybe I can cheer myself up with this pressbook for 1948's Bomba on Panther Island -- starring Johnny Sheffield (once he outgrew the role of Tarzon's Boy).  This was the second film (of seventeen) in the franchise.  The plot is inane and the script is terrible but the stock footage isn't to bad.  Too bad that's the most exciting part of the movie.

Somehow, the press kit males all seem worthwhile.  But Hollywood is the land of make-believe, isn't it?

Welcome to the hype.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


B-movie screenwriter and director Ib Melchior didn't make it see his one hundredth birthday today but he came close, passing away about two and a half years ago at age 97.  Born and raised in Copenhagen, the son of famous opera tenor and actor Laurentz Melchior, Ib Melchior wrote or co-wrote such films as The Angry Red Planet, The Time Travelers, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and Retilicus, and contributed to such television shows as The Outer Limits, Men Into Space, and 13 Demon Street.  The classic B-movie Death Race 2000 was based on his 1952 short story "The Racer."  In 1960 Melchior created an outline for a proposed television series; producer Irwin Allen lifted from Melchior's script to create the hit show Lost in Space.  While Melchior never received onscreen credit from Allen for his idea, he was hired as a consultant for the 1998 Lost in Space film and was eventually paid $90,000 (in lieu of 2% of the films gross).  In 1963, as a "gimmick" story for the science fiction magazine Gamma, Melchior used a number of lines from Shakespeare to create a Sf story, "Here's Sport Indeed!" -- making him probably the only author to co-write a SF magazine story with the Bard of Avon.

Science fiction was just a part of Ib Melchior's life.  A decorated war hero, he served in the Army's Counterintelligence Corps, helped liberate the Flossenburg concentration camp, participated in the discovery of stolen gold and art at the Merkers-Kieselbach Cavern, and aided in the capture of a German Werwolf unit.  In addition to receiving the Bronze Star from the U.S. Army, Melchior was also dubbed Knight Commander of the Militant order of Saint Bridget of Sweden.

In 1976, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films gave him its Golden Scroll Award of Merit for Lifetime Achievement.

He won the 1982 Hamlet Award for best playwriting from the Shakespeare Society of America.

Melchior was never a major influence in science fiction, but he provided me and others of my generation many hours of entertainment.  So, thank you, Ib Melchior, and rest in peace.

To celebrate his centennial, here's a clip from 9 Lives in 90 Years:  The Ib Melchior Story:


The great Jim Reeves.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Rosco Gordon, with a Number 1 R&B hit from 1952..


This first issue of Super-Mystery Comics is of special interest for pulp magazine fans.  Two of the stories are adaptations of tales by two giants of the pulp era:  Lester Dent and Paul Chadwick..

Dent, of course, was the main writer of Doc Savage's adventures under the pseudonym "Kenneth Robeson," as well as many other stories for the pulps.  Here, his story"The Frozen Phantom" (Western Trails, April 1933) has been adapted as "The Flame Maiden."  The writer (possibly Robert Turner) changed the name of the hero but kept the villains name and the plot.  Corporal Andy Flint of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police is investigating reports of crazy men running around the frozen wastes.  His Eskimo guide Bill-Bill has been warned by the "Flame Maiden" to leave the area or face "The Terror."  Andy poo-poos this superstition until he meets the Flame Maiden a beautiful red head who mysteriously vanishes from a cliff.  Nothing frightens a Mountie from his job, even when Bill-Bill is captured and is placed in the "coffin of the mad."

Paul Chadwick (not to be confused with today's Paul Chadwick, b. 1957, known for his comic book work) was the creator of Secret Agent X under the pseudonym "Brant House," and under his own name, the adventures of Wade Hammond.  His story, "Octopus of Crime" (Secret Agent X, September 1934) was adapted for this issue by Robert Turner as "The Octopus Gang."  Magno, the Magnetic Man, "is able to draw to himself anything of metal.  In addition, he can hurl himself through space, attracted by anything magnetic.  With such powers Magno could rule the world.  Instead he chooses to devote his life to fighting evil of all kinds."  And there is evil across the entire nation in the form of an organized gang of crooks led by the elusive criminal genius who calls himself the Octopus.  Who is the Octopus and can Magno stop his reign of terror?

Also in this issue are stories about Vulvan, the Volcanic Man (who is a literal flaming red head), Sky Smith (a flying ace), Q-13 (America's spy fighter), and Larry Hannigan 9American adventurer in the Foreign Legion).


Friday, September 15, 2017


The original (and in my opinion, the best) Hank Williams.


The Wind Leans West by August Derleth (1969)

August Derleth juggled a lot of balls in the air during his lifetime.  He created the much-loved Solar Pons (arguably the best Sherlock Holmes clone in literature), as well as the lesser known Judge Peck.  He co-founded Arkham House, the small press which did much to promote H. P. Lovecraft (to the joy or dismay of current Lovecraft fans, depending on your viewpoint), Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howardand many others, as well as fostering the early careers of modern horror masters Ramsay Campbell and Brian Lumley.  His prodigious output of short stories also covered the gamut, from pulp science fiction and horror to "literary" fiction and sly pieces of humor.  A distinguished poet, Derleth also promoted other poet through his anthologies and his "little" magazine Hawk and Whippoorwill.  He was one of the country's most respected regional writers, detailing the history and people of Wisconsin through historical novels, mainstream novels, juveniles, journals, poetry, and non-fiction.  The broad scope of this part of his writing was what he called "The Wisconsin Saga," with an important subset titled "The Sac Prairie Saga" -- Sac Prairie being a thinly disguised Sauk City, Derleth's home town.  Whatever field he wrote in, Derleth's love of his native land rang true.

The Wind Leans West is part of the Wisconsin Saga, a book that, on its surface, appears to be a bit of a drag.  Here's the first paragraph from the jacket copy:

"This new novel in August Derleth's Wisconsin Saga is less a novel than a fictionalized account of the part played by Alexander Mitchell in the struggle to establish banks and sound banking practices Win the Territory and later the State of Wisconsin.  Persuade to come to America from his native Scotland, Mitchell landed in Milwaukee in 1839, carrying a carpetbag containing $50,000, with which to open an insurance business for his employer, the well-known midwestern promoter, George Smith."


To top it off, there's no violence (well, very little)...and just a small dab of excitement.

Despite all of the above, The Wind Leans West is a cracking good story.  Alexander Mitchell is almost too good a protagonist -- an honest man pursuing his dream with a single-mindedness that overcomes the many obstacles in his path.  Banks were outlawed in the Wisconsin Territory and most of the banks in surrounding areas were fly-by-night scams that preyed upon their customers.  Rather than open a bank, Mitchell opened an insurance company and ran it like a bank, provoking powerful machinations of business rivals and political enemiess.  Historical detail and real-life persons are woven seamlessly into the story.  Rather than boring, the book is a fast and pleasant read, spiced with a naturalist's detail of the countryside -- its plants and animals, its waters and its fertile fields, and the colors, smells, and sounds that can define a time and place..

This was a good 'un.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


Hank Ballard & The Midnighters.


From Arch Obeler's Lights Out, October 27, 1942, here's a little scary tidbit.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017


The Fifth Dimension.


Technically not a bad joke but an amusing piece of political humor.

Miss Cellania posted this video from 1941 and I couldn't stop laughing.  (There is also a similar video featuring Kim Jong Un available on Youtube.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


A song as only Eartha Kitt could sing.


Trouble with Father (or The Stu Erwin Show or Life with the Erwins or The New Stu Erwin Show -- the program sporadically changed its title) ran from 1950 to 1955, totaling 130 episodes (1953-54 season consisted of repeats only).  Stuart Erwin (Palooka, Pigskin Parade, Our Town) and real-life wife June Collyer (East Side, West Side, Charlie's Aunt, Murder by Television) star as June and Stu Erwin, a married couple with two girls.  Stu is the sometimes bumbling principal of the local high school and June is a typical 1950s sitcom housewife, patient and understanding.  The oldest daughter is boy-crazy high schooler Joyce, played by a fourth cousin of Mary Todd Lincoln, Ann E. Todd (How Green Was My Valley, The Blue Bird, King's Row); for the show's final season the role was played by Merry Anders (Mike McCall in all 52 episodes of How To Marry a Millionaire, The Time Travelers, Raiders from Beneath the Sea).  The role of tomboy daughter Jackie went to Sheila James, best known as Zelda Gilroy on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.  (She shifted gears after acting, earned a law degree and was later elected as the first openly gay member of the California State Assembly where she served for six years before she moved to the State Senate, serving for eight years; she remains active in Los Angeles politics.)  The other regular cast member was Willie Best (The Ghost Breakers, Cabin in the Sky, High Sierra) as Willie, a stereotypical (for the time) Black handyman who often joined Stu in some of his schemes.

The episode linked below under the title "Spooks" was first shown on December 23, 1950, and is better known under the title "Problem Party."  It features Margaret Hamilton as Mrs. Bracker, a representative of a women's league concerned with juvenile delinquency, and a young Martin Milner as Drexel Potter, a high schooler who occasionally dated Joyce; in the final year of the series Milner would play Jimmy Clark, Joyce's new husband.  It was directed by Howard Bretherton and written by Arthur Hoerl.


Monday, September 11, 2017


The Pozo Seco singers.  R.I.P., Don Williams.


  • Steve Alten, Phobos:  Mayan Fear.  Thriller with SFnal/fantasy overtones, the third in the Domain series.  "Immanuel Gabriel travels to the end of the world and back for one last shot of global; salvation....Immanuel, the surviving hero foretold in the Mayan creation story, finds his world rocked after an encounter with his deceased grandfather, archaeologist Julius Gabriel.   Julius reveals everything the Mayans knew and feared -- from the very secrets of creation to the presence of extraterrestrial benefactors; from mankind's intended purpose to the preordained End of Days.  If Immanuel is to thwart Judgment Day, he must act swiftly."  This 2011 book follows Domain and Resurrection (2004), and ends on page 512 with these words:  to be continued...  Since then, Alten has published nine books not in this series but has hinted that Book 4 will come.  Let's just wait.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Outlaw of Torn.  Historical romance.  "The most feared warrior in England.  at 17 -- The greatest swordsman in England.  At 18 -- A price on his head.  At 19 -- The leader of a band of a thousand.  Who was this Norman of Torn?  Where did he come from?  All that anyone knew was that his blade was sharp, his arm strong.  Then -- as he was about to uncover the secret of his birth -- he found himself in the greatest peril he'd ever known."  first published as a five-part serial in New Story Magazine in 1914, it was released as a book in 1927.  This is the Ace paperback with a neat Frazetta cover.

Sunday, September 10, 2017


It's almost 8:15 pm Sunday (Central time -- we're just a few miles from the Eastern/Central time divide) and things are looking better for us.

Irma is taking a more northern path rather than north-western as had previously been predicted.  Earlier estimates had Irma's western edge at Fort Walton Beach (ten miles or so from us), then to Panama City, and now even further east.  Good news for us.

Despite all the predictions, hurricanes can be unpredictable.  Irma is now a Cat 2 and perhaps becoming a Cat 1 as it moves north.  Or not.

We brought in anything that could be wind borne indoors.  Some of our neighbors haven't, so there's a chance various lawn ornaments, toys, fire pits, and whatever could visit us.

Flooding is still a possibility (as is a power outage) but seems remoter as time passes.

Irma has been and continues to be a devastating storm.  The number of properties, livelihoods, and lives that will be destroyed is great, from the Caribbean to the Keys and Florida, and beyond.  Please take a moment to think of and pray for those affected.  If you can donate, please do so.  Cash is usually best, perishables perhaps not so much.  If you do donate, please go online and research what would be the best way for you to give.  I don't want you to be scammed out of your cash or to have your donations sit in some warehouse and never get to those who need it.  Another advantage to cash:  there will be a lot of rebuilding to do and using local supplies and local help can go a long way in helping the local communities.

And keep a good thought for the responders -- those involved in rescue, in shelter, in protecting persons and property, in saving pets and wildlife, in keeping or restoring essential services, and in providing comfort.  Good and neccessary people all.


This week I read that some studies indicate that natural selection might eliminate Alzheimer's disease completely.  Good news.  Bad news:  it could take several thousand years to do so.

Take heart, though, there are a number of amazing medical advances in numerous areas that are happening now.  Below is the Cleveland Clinic's Top 10 list of breakthrough technologies for 2017 as discussed by a panel of experts.


"Ain't No Grave" sung by Jamie Wilson.

Saturday, September 9, 2017


It's hard to believe that Hurricane Irma is on its way.  I've seen the pictures of the devastation and have heard all the weather reports about Irma's projected path, but this morning the sky was a clear blue, it was comfortably warm, and there was a gentle breeze.

One projection today had Irma stretching to about ten miles from my house.  A weather report from Mobile said we might get rain and 35 mile per hour winds.  It's difficult to know what to expect but most projections indicate we will be safe.

One concern is any storm surge.  Last week, a report indicated that -- if we had the rain amount of rainfall that Houston had with Hurricane Harvey -- my street would be under three and a half feet of water.  Luckily, most predictions indicate that rainfall and storm surge should not be a problem for us.

Anyway, we've decided to hunker in place and see what happens.  I don't think this is a stupid move and we have several contingency plans dependent on what happens.

What could happen is that we lose our power.  If that's the case, this blog may go quiet for a while.  I've put Sunday and Monday's post in the queue but from Tuesday on, it's up in the air -- literally.

I know the Florida peninsula will be hit hard.  My thoughts and prayers are with all those in Irma's path, both now and over the next few days -- whatever path she takes.

See you on the other side!


The Mills Brothers do Duke Ellington's "Caravan, vocalizing the instuments.


Since this is the early Forties, it should not come as a surprise that comic book super-hero The Black Terror was Caucasian.  It should also be no surprise that his civilian identity strongly resembles that of Clark Kent, right down to the glasses, strong jaw, and bluish hair.  Like Superman with Clark Kent, nobody seems aware that The Black Terror and druggist Bob Benton are one and the same (although The Black Terror does wear the tiniest of Domino masks, one that (just) covers his eyelids and brows).  A big difference between Superman and The Black Terror, though, is that Clark Kent is "mild-mannered" while Bob Benton is "meek."  Oh, and superman came from another planet while The Black Terror got his powers through inhaling "formic ethers," with which he had been experimenting.

The Black Terror wears a full black costume trimmed with gold and a black/red reversible cape.  Across his chest there is a large white skull and crossbones.  As with so many super-heroes, The Black Terror has a young side-kick, his assistant at the drugstore, Tim Roland, whose costumed super-hero name is "Tim."  (Okay, so neither one is that great at choosing their super-hero names.)  Tim wears the same costume as The Black Terror except smaller in size.  The two were collectively known as the "Terror Twins."

Bob Benton has a girlfriend -- Jean Starr, who is secretary to the town mayor.  Jean is unaware that Bob is The Black Terror.

The Black Terror first appeared in Exciting Comics #9 (May 1942) and became a very popular hero in the Nedor/Pines/Standard/Better stable, also appearing in America's Best Comics and in his own title.  All three comics died an ignominious death in 1949, with the company itself going belly-up a few years later.  

Many of the company's character fell into popular domain.  Since then he has appeared in (in various guises and at various times) for AC Comics, Alter Ego, Darkline Comics, Eclipse Comics, America's Best Comics, TLW Comics, Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Metahuman Press, Heroes Inc.,  Curse of the Black Terror, and Moonstone Books,, as well as in prose from Wild Cat Books and Deadskull.


As for this issue,
  • Goebbels tweaks Goering about his lack of success in doing harm to America.  Goering then orders Trupp, his best agent in America, to step up his efforts.  Trupp knows he can do nothing effective until he eliminates that darned Black Terror.  Always prepared, the Terror Twins attend a local airshow and foil Trupp's plans.
  • Jean and the mayor travel to vichy in an effort to rescue American journalists held by the Gestapo and are, themselves, captured and taken to Germany.  The Terror Twins then launch their own rescue mission.
  • Dr. Metz (as evil as they come) has a formula that can give Japanese soldiers the appearance of Caucasians.  Once again it's time for the Terror Twins to act!
Also in this issue,
  • Steve and Ploppie, recent college graduates, open "The We Do It Boys" agency and become The Crime Crushers.
  • A three-page "funny" story about Bob the Hobo and the girl who got away.
  • Three short text stories:  "Money on Ice" by Donald Bayne Hobart,  "Kidnap Clue" by Richard Stanton, and "Arthur's Salvage" by Kerry McRoberts.
All in all, a pretty good issue.


Friday, September 8, 2017




Weird Tales -- English anonymous edited, possibly by William Paterson (1888)

In the 1880s, London publisher William Paterson issued a series of books known as Nuggets for Travellers.  There were at least eighteen volumes in the series: four in the Tit Bits of Humour series (English, Irish, Scottish, and American), three in the Jests and Anecdotes series (Irish, Scottish, and American), five in the Classic Tales -- Serious and Lively (Voltaire, Goldsmith & Brooks, Marnportel, Hawkesworth. and Johnson, Mackenzie & Sterne), one by Thomas Crofton Croker titled Love Tales:  Irish, and five in the Weird Tales series (English, Scottish, Irish, American, and German).  At least some appear to have been republished by Dent in the 1890s and at least the Weird Tales series was republished by Paterson in 1922).  All the volumes are quite rare, but four of the Weird Tales series are available online at Hathi Trust.

Weird Tales -- English was #5 in the Nuggets for Travellers series and contained a dozen stories, five from anonymous sources:

  • "The Pythagorean:  A Tale of the First Century" by A. Stewart Harrison. "Reprinted by kind permission of Messrs. Bradbury, Evans & Co."  
  • "The Old Man's Tale About the Queer Client" 1836) by Charles Dickens. (No attribution given.)
  • "In Defense of His Right" by Daniel Defoe.  (No attribution given)
  • "Sixteen Days of Death."  (No author credited; no attribution given.)
  • "Adventure in a Forest" by [Tobias] Smollett.  (No attribution given, but the story features Ferdinand Fanthom so I assume it is from The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fanthom, 1853)
  • "Cader Idris:  The Chair of Idris" by John [Berwick] Harwood.  "Reprinted by kind permission of Messrs Bradbury, Evans & Co."
  • "A Skeleton in the House" by Edmund Yates.  "One of the earliest productions of this popular author's pen, it having been written about 1858, while he was still in his twenties.  Reprinted by his kind permission."
  • "A Night with a Madman."  (No author credited; "reprinted by kind permission of the proprietors of Chambers's Journal.")
  • "The Poisoned Mind." (No author credited; "reprinted by kind permission of Messrs. Bradbury, Evans & Co.")
  • "A Dire Prediction." (No author credited; no attribution given.)
  • "The Postponed Wedding."  (No author credited; no attribution given.)
  • "[The] Haunted House of Paddington" (1841) by Charles Ollier.  (No attribution given.)

The stories run the gamut of 19th century sensationalism:  women in danger, cannibalism, ghosts, murder, legends, and curses.  A man must switch positions with a corpse in order to survive.  A young woman's life is ruined because of a premonition and then she has a premonition far worse.  An ancient legend causes the unexplained death of a girl.  A man and his lover are chained together to die.  A greedy step-mother plots to gain her husband's wealth only to meet a mysterious specter.  A journalist on vacation in Devon comes across a ghost.  A young man sacrifices himself so that his mates can feed on his body.  Gruesome stuff, indeed.

Some of the tales are a bit clunky and some of the dialog is flowery, or tortured, or both. but for the most part these twelve stories a very readable, imbued with a sense of time and place, as well as with a sense for the macabre.  A few of the stories have a sly humor interspersed with the horror.

This collection may well be too old-fashioned for some tastes.  For me, it was interesting and enjoyable read.  You can decide for yourself.  The link below takes you to the Hathi Trust site which contains this volume, as well as three other volumes in the Weird Tales series.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


The Ronettes.


I'm hedging a little bit here.  The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was one of a number of Holmes radio shows in the past.  At times during its run from October 2, 1939 to July 7, 1949 the show dropped the first four words of the title and was aired simply as Sherlock Holmes.  Information about the show is contradictary.  For example one source gives the actors in this episode as Luis [Louis] Hector as Holmes (Hector also played Moriaty in several of the Holmes films) and Harry West  as Watson; the actors, however, are clearly Tom Conway and Nigel Bruce.  Other sources state that the show ended in 1950.

Each episode of the show had its narrator, "Joseph Bell" (the name of the Scottish surgeon who was Conan Doyle's inspiration for the Sherlock Holmes character), stopping by the home of the retired Dr. Watson, who would then relate that week's tale from his memories of the past.  (Evidently Watson retired to California.)  Nigel Bruce as Watson was also top billing, probably because of the show's format.  Joseph Bell may or may not have been the true name of the actor who narrated the show.

Tom McKnight produced this episode.  I don't know who wrote it, but this was aired during the Dennis Green-Anthony Boucher era.  The story itself was suggested by an incident mentioned in "The Final Problem."

"The Haunted Bagpipes" aired on October 29, 1946 as a Halloween program.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


One hundred seventy years ago today the American outlaw Jesse James was born.  Kitty's mother claimed that she was related to him through an aunt of his -- whether that's true or not, it's a good time to post this song from The Kingston Trio.


The May 5, 1955 episode of Four Star Playhouse is a gem:  a P. G. Wodehouse story adapted by Oscar Millard (The Conqueror, No Highway in the Sky, The Salzburg Connection) and starring David Niven (who also produced this episode) as Uncle Fred.  Robert Nichols plays Fred's nephew Pongo.  Also featured are Norma Varden, Jennifer Raine, Leon Tyler, Alex Frazer, Tudor Owen, Marjorie Bennett, and Charlotte Knight.  Roy Kellino, whose television career comprised some 114 episodes of various anthology series, directed.

In typical Wodehouse fashion, Uncle Fred descends on a suburban home, wreaks havoc, and unites two lovers, as Pongo watches on in horror and is enlisted by Uncle Fred for his plan.

Niven and Nichols played the same characters in a 1953 version which aired on Hollywood Opening Night.  Then, in 1967, Wilfred Hyde-White and Jonathon Cecil played Fred and Pongo for Comedy Playhouse.  Uncle Fred first appeared on television in 1950 and was played by Arthur Treacher in The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse adaptation of Wodehouse's novel Uncle Dynamite.  And Ballard b\Berkeley played Uncle Fred in the 1981 adaptation of Uncle Dynamite on Thank You, P. G. Wodehouse.

It's obvious that television loves Uncle Fred.  I think you will, too.


Monday, September 4, 2017


Sing along with Pete.


The Highwaymen.


Once again there is no Incoming this week.  I seem to be doing fairly well with reducing the amount of books I purchase.  No more weeks with dozens (or hundred) of new books.

This week our thoughts are with the people of Texas and Louisiana who are struggling with the aftereffects of Hurricane Harvey.  

Before Harvey, there was Galveston.  The category 4 hurricane that hit that Texas city on September 8, 1900 took from 6,000 to 12,000 lives and cost some $850,000,000 in damages (in 2016 figures), making it the worst natural disaster ever to hit America.  With Harvey, the death count of 39 is sure to rise and the cost of the devastation will be in the billions of dollars.  Harvey could have been much worse.  (Short-sighted politics actually made Harvey worse than it could have been.)

Instead of Incoming this week, here's a look at the Galveston Flood as filmed by Albert Smith for Thomas Edison Films on September 24, 1900.

Nature can be a bitch.  Let us hope that common sense and advance warnings will greatly reduce her impact in the future.

Sunday, September 3, 2017


Gavin Pretor-Pinney is the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society.

It's time to slow down, relax, appreciate...

...and find the shapes in the clouds.


Sierra Jordan.

Saturday, September 2, 2017


From 1966, here's Paul Revere & The Raiders.


Once again, Captain Midnight braves overwhelming odds for the cause of justice.

  • Fangs of the Werewolf  -  "A vast underground network of Nazi resistance fought on in defeated Germany!  It was Captain Midnight's job to uncover this werewolf menace, and, in doing so, restore honor to a valiant American boy!"
  • The Ice Cream Plague of Palmyra Island  -  "When production of vital anti-bomb nets is suddenly curtailed on Palmyra Island, trouble shooting Captain Midnight is confronted by and amazing and horrible menace...time:  during the  a secret American base in the Pacific Ocean"
  • "Captain Midnight and Chuck sometimes go far afield in their constant search for scientific oddities but seldom have they traveled so far, and never have the dangers been as fierce, as when they journey to South America, in search of the 'Flying Dinosaur'!"
And there are a number of filler stories, including "Sgt. Twilight's Last Round Up" and Johnny Blair in the Air's "Night Ride".

What I found really interesting were a couple of the advertisements:
  • In an ad for Daisy Air Rifles, Little Beaver recites the ten rules in the Sportsman's Safety Club to Red Ryder:  "Me will never point-um gun at anything me not intend to shoot-um.  Me will never load-um gun when muzzle is pointed at anybody.  Me will never cock-um gun or pull-um trigger just for fun.  Me will never shoot-um at object which make bullet bounce-um off.  Me will never handle gun without first take-um peek to be sure gun is empty.  Me will never carry my gun while it is cocked of off safety -- you betchum.  Me will never shoot-um at song-bird, illegal game or live tree, me think-um.  Me will never shoot-um at anything before me make-um sure me not injure something if me miss-um target.  Me will always be plenty careful when climbing through fence by point-um gun muzzle through fence first.  Me will always clean and oil-um me gun pronto after using it."  Sage advice.
  • An ad calling for kids to join Captain Midnight's "Share Thru CARE Corps" by starting a 15-15 Crops and "Help Captain Marvel Answer Europe's Children's SOS."  It's easy and you can be president of your 15-15 Corps!  "Get all your friends to contribute 15c or more to join your Corps whose object is to raise $15 for one CARE package -- 49 pounds -- the kind the army gave its parachute teams to keep them strong.  I will send you members' buttons FREE when your check is received -- one for each member and a beautiful CITATION scroll for you, the President.  Each Corps competes with each other.  For each additional Food Package your Corps sends I will give you an OAK LEAF to add to your citation.  When you get FOUR OAK LEAVES on your citation you get a CAPTAIN MARVEL GOLDEN CITATION.  The President of the Corps sending the greatest number of Food Packages will speak on Short Wave Radio with a boy in Europe that his Corps has fed -- on Perry Como's CHESTERFIELD SUPPER CLUB PROGRAM on N.B.C."  The food packages would be going to Austria, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, France, Germany: American (Zone), and Germany:  British (Zone).  Sorry Germany:  Russian (Zone).
Take a trip back seventy years in time and enjoy this issue.

Friday, September 1, 2017


The Youngbloods.


Look Out for Space by William F. Nolan (1985)

Why isn't William F. Nolan better known?  He has published more than 80 books (including the SF classic Logan's Run, written with George Clayton Johnson) and has had over 750 pieces published in over 250 magazines.  His work has been anthologized more than 300 times.  I think the answer to my question lies in Nolan's wide range of interests -- his works are spread all over the genre map.

Nolan has written a lot about automobile racing, on of his great loves. He has written biographies of people he admires, including Steve McQueen, Dashiell Hammett, Phil Hill, and Max Brand.  He has written science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, suspense, westerns.  He has published books of poetry and reference books.  He has had a successful career writing for television and the big screen.  He has edited a number of anthologies, both fiction and nonfiction.  He created Mickey Mouse adventures for Disney.  He has written books on the craft of writing.  He has compiled bibliographies.  He has been honored for both his individual work and for his lifetime achievements.  He's been a cartoonist, an actor, and a well-regard public speaker.

Nolan is a good writer who churns out professional work every time.  And some of his work rises above the merely professional to a level that sticks in your mind years and decades after you read them.

Nolan's Sam Space stories are a cross-eyed, lop-eared, off-kilter SF tribute to Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade.  Spade has appeared in two novels, five short stories, a movie treatment, and a movie script.  Look Out for Space was Nolan's second novel about the character.

Space works from a sleazy office:

"[O]n Mars.  In Bubble City, where I grind for bread.  what can I say about my office?  It's cheap and seedy.  Worn nearcarpet.  A jammed flowdrawer in the faxfile.  And my glowindow doesn't Glo."

Sam's work is usually ordinary:

"I'm not complaining.  Sure, I get lonely sometimes.  And depressed.  But I'm in a lonely depressing business.  I don't get many jobs as colorful as the Milo Petrovanny onion case.  Most of my time is spent on dull, routine capers such as uncovering a multi-dimensional star dodge tax racket on Ganymede, or doing a tail job on a girdle importer from Outer Capella who runs off with the overweight underaged daughter of a rich but diseased Neptunian pork stuffer."

But Sam's luck is about to change when he is hired by Brother Thaddeus of the Universal cosmic Church Realized.  Brother Thaddeus has bought an asteroid in the Horsehead Nebula that has been stole.  (The asteroid, not the entire nebula, silly.)  Sam has to find and retrieve the asteroid, money no object.  So begins a caper that will take Sam across the universe and back several times in an adventure that is as wacky as anything that could be dreamed up by Harry Harrison, Ron Goulart, or Keith Laumer.

Spade stumbles on a slave trading racket that specializes in insects and worms, works closely with a three pinch mouse detective, stumbled across an unexpected body, gets seduced by a beautiful lady and refuses to get seduced by a bevy of distinctly odd extraterrestials, gets framed and sent to a Hellish planet where he is forced to shovel muck with a spoon, has his head placed on backward, and almost loses his nose and ears.  And also, some unusual stuff happens before Space wraps up the case in a Hammett/Spillane fashion.

A wild and outrageous romp, but not one for all tastes.  I really enjoyed it, though, as I followed Sam Space through space while upholding the classic PI code.