Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


And you thought Bobby "Boris" Pickett was a one-hit wonder and you're right.  Nevertheless, you can see that he had range in his material.


For your Halloween viewing pleasure, here's John Barrymore as Dr. Henry Jekyll.  No.  Wait. I mean here's John Barrymore as Mr. Edeward Hyde.  No.  He's Dr. Jekyll...wait, he's Hyde.  Er...Sweet mother of R. L. Stevenson, did I just give away a major plot point?  Please ignore all of the above.

Ahem.  Here's Nita Naldi in a flick from 1920.

Monday, October 30, 2017


Why am I posting this?


Another week with no Incoming.  It seems that since I have been making a deliberate effort to reduce the number of books coming into my house, every other week I have no Incoming to report.  I'm not sure why it has worked out like that.


I do have a belated Incoming to report.  How belated?  How does 71 years sound?

Today is my birthday and I think 71 is old enough to put me on the geezer bus.  I'm older than my father was when he died.  I'm older than my sister was when she died.  In fact I may be older than everyone else.  Except Crider -- that guy's older than dirt.

A lot has happened since I first came out among the top of the Baby Boom.  No flying cars, alas, but a bunch of other things.  When I was a kid, our television received just three channels -- local NBC, ABC, Educational Television outlets (this was before PBS).  Actually there may have been four since I'm not sure when Channel 9 out of Manchester, New Hampshire, began.  I distinctly remember the excitement when the local ABC station opened up.  Before that, it was radio, not that we listened to it that much except for weather reports from Boston's E. B. Rideout with his unique nasally voice (my father farmed, so weather reports were important).  We got our first television when I was four -- the first show he watched was Art Linkletter's House Party.  Those were the wild old days, before I settled in to a steady diet of Hopalong Cassidy (I even named a cow Lucky, after one of Hoppy's sidekicks).

We lived in a small town.  About 5000 people when I was born.  When I was in high school, the population had grown to over 25,000.  At one point it was the fastest growing town in the country.  And it was white and solid Yankee.  My father had to think for a second before calling some candies "chocolate babies" and saying "catch a tiger by the toe" in the eeny-meeny-miny-mo chant.  He had become a custom home building contractor, and once told me that he hoped a black family would not ask him to build a house in town because he was afraid of what that might do to his business; he would do it of course, he said, but to be the first person to break the color barrier would be a risky business move.  Thankfully, times changed quickly and the town changed with it.  Racism is still with us, sadly, but those who practice it are now firmly on the wrong side of history (and I include the alt-right and the neo-nationalist who seem to be enjoying a bright spurt but who will soon fizzle out into nothingness).  I should mention that a few decades before I was born, the first Catholic family moved into my home town -- something which pleased the local Ku Klux Klan (yes, we had them in New England, but they were long gone before I was born), because here was something they could get excited about.  Local lore has it that a cross was burned on their lawn -- evidently to no lasting effect because the vast majority of townspeople just wouldn't go along with that sort of antics.  Also, long before I was born, the town was staunchly Republican.  When one person changed her affliation to Democrat in a primary election because she supported one specific person, she was not allowed to change her status back to Republican; state law now mandated that the local Board of Election have at least one member of both parties -- since she was officially the only Democrat in town, she had to remain so and serve on the board.  Again times changed and when I was older, my home town tended to vote Democratic on local elections and Republican on state and national elections.

Over the years I have made it through the sexual revolution, Vietnam, economic ups and downs, civil rights, the computer and information explosion, abortion rights, gay rights, environmental rights, population explosions, and all manner of social and technological changes.  I went from solid Republican to wild-eyed liberal, flirting for a brief while as a Libertarian until I wised up.  I have gone from a firm belief in Christianity to a firm belief in mankind, and wonder if they might not be the same thing in essence.  I have survived Nixon and Reagan and both Bushes and may even survive Trump.  I pulled back the curtain to see each man behind it and found pettiness, bigotry, cruelty, and stupidity.  The Democrats were not much better.  Still I have faith and hope in the system because I have faith in us.

I'm certainly more mellow now.  I appreciate things much more.  I'm lucky that I have such a wonderful family.  I am grateful for all the people I have met along the way; each has had their own special spark of uniqueness that has had an impact, whether major or minor, upon me.  I'm thankful for animals (except for spiders -- burn them all with flamethrowers, I say!)  because they add so uch to the world and my life.  I am humbled by the vastness and complexity of the universe; the sky fills me with wonder.

I may revel in my snarkiness but my sense of humor is at its heart a reflection of my deep love for the world.

Astrology may be (and is) a steaming pile of male bovine excrement, but I am proud to be a Scorpio.

I am also proud to share my birthday with my wonderful niece Sarah, and with our dear friend Ellen  (who claims she's eighty but is actually younger than springtime), and with my high school classmate Pam.  I also share this day with Christopher Wren, John Adams, Richard Sheridan, Admiral Halsey, Ezra Pound, Charles Atlas, Ruth Gordon, Ruth Hussey, Fred Friendly, Louis Malle, Grace Slick, Henry Winkler, Andrea Mitchell, Harry Hamlin, Larry Wilmore, Nia Long, and (God help us!) Ivanka Trump.

Happy birthday to us all!

Sunday, October 29, 2017


...of 2 sentences each.


For your pre-Halloween entertainment, here's a creepy story by Manly Wade Wellman from Weird Tales, October 1937.


Tennessee Ernie Ford with the Jordanaires.

Saturday, October 28, 2017


The Shangri-Las.

FLYIN' JENNY #1 & #2 (1946 & 1947)

Flyin' Jenny was a newspaper comic strip by aviation artist Russell Keaton, who also knew how to draw a well-turned leg.  Jenny was a pretty blonde battle-hardened babe who could fly a plane with the best of them.  The strip started in October 1939 with the daily and Sunday strips carrying separate story lines.  Keaton died in 1945 at the all-too-young age of 35 from acute melanoma and, despite efforts to continue the strip by Marc Swayze and Glen Chaffin, the Keaton magic was gone and the comic strip died the following year.  Later in 1946, the small published Pentagon Press published the first of two issues of Flyin' Jenny, utilizing the original strips.


Issue #1:

Issue #2:

Friday, October 27, 2017


Joe Diffie.


Tharkol, Lord of the Unknown  by Edmond Hamilton (1950)

Edmond Hamilton, pulp master extraordinaire, burst on the scientifiction (as opposed to science fiction) scene in 1926 for a career that lasted just over half a century.  His early stories gave him the nickname of "Worldwrecker" Hamilton because of the way he blithely destroyed planets with his purple prose.  His penchant for action, adventure, and super-science eventually brought him to the creation of Captain Future, one of the icons of the pulp SF field.  There was another to Hamilton, though, a thoughtful and literate side which appeared in his later career but had always -- as also with his wife, Leigh Brackett -- been lurking behind much of his fast-moving, pulse-pounding early fiction.

Tharkol, Lord of the Unknown, however, is pure escapist fiction.  First published in the third issue of Startling Stories (May 1939) under the title "The Prisoner of Mars," the tale was published in paperback form by Consul Books in Australia; as far as I can tell, this was the only book publication of the novel.  Also, as far as I can tell, the book's title is virtually meaningless.  The story is not about Tharkol and nowhere was he called the Lord of the Unknown, but it's an interesting title, don't you think?

Thirty years previous, a naked and wounded man was found wandering in a Canadian forest.  The man had no memory of his past and, as it turned out, would never regain it.  The man was taught English, given the name John Crain, and eventually moved to the United States, married, and had a son, Philip Crain.  As the novel opens, Philip and a few friends are listening to a Mercury-Theater-War-of-the-Worlds type radio program, when Philip suddenly has a panic attack and vague...memories(?) of an alien invasion.  Philip's father, dead these past five years, turns out to have been an alien -- Tharkol, King of Mars, sent to Earth on a doomed mission to save his dying planet by robbing Earth of its oceans.  Martians, by the way, have a mild sort of racial memory that is passed on genetically, thus Philip's vague memories.

Philip and his friends, thinking John Crain might have been a downed airplane pilot, journey to the Canadian wilds in an effort to find the remains of his father's ship.  What they find is a type of spaceship and a matter transmitter which brings Philip to Mars.  With the knowledge that the matter transmitter works, the long-delayed plan to rob Earth of its water goes ahead.  Because Mars is losing its water, the population has been reduced to only a million persons residing in the five remaining Martian cities, while millions more Martian have been placed into a mindless stasis to ration the planets dwindling resource.

Eager for the planet to be revived are the revered scientist, Dandor, and the current king of Mars, Lanu, who happens to be Crain's half brother and identical look-alike...and the plot begins to take a Graustarkian turn.  Naturally, there are evil people plotting to take the throne.

The Martians had once developed amazing robots, but the fear that the robots might rebel against them convinced the Martians to destroy all of the robots except for one -- Kro, a giant robot given to Dandor out of respect to Dandor's contributions to science.  One robot that was assumed destroyed was The Brain, a super-thinking machine whose intellect caused it to disdain the Martian Race.  (The Brain is a robot because the concept of a supercomputer was not around in 1939.)  The Brain, of course, was not destroyed but is now working with the bad guys.

Tharkol, Lord of the Unknown is rip-snorting planetary adventure, filled with marvelous inventions, ray guns, evil plots, danger, robots, giant mechanical worms, insurrection, mistaken motives, impending doom, treason, forbidden love, a race against time, and much more.  At the center is conflicted Philip Crain, half-Martian and half-Earthling.  No matter which side he chooses, the other side is doomed.  Or is it?  Can Crain beat almost impossible odds to save both planets?  Crain has a plan that might work (at least in the days of pre-ecological awareness, not so much in the 21st century).

They seldom write them like this nowadays.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton (1926-1984) was one of the great rhythm and blues singers who was unfortunately overshadowed by popular covers of her work.  She was the original artist to record "Hound Dog"  but some guy from Tupelo covered it four years later with much greater success.  She wrote and recorded "Ball and Chain" but it's Janis Joplin's version of the song most people remember.  Such seemed to be the lot of many black performers of the time.  A heavy drinker, she was found dead from heart and liver disease in her hotel room in 1984; the once 350-pound woman weighed only 95 pounds when she passed.  Her powerful voice, gospel influences, and determination to make every song her own have earned her a solid place in the blues and rock and roll pantheon.

"Everything Gonna Be Alright"

'Little Red Rooster"

"Ball and Chain"

"My Heavy Load"

"Mixed Up Feeling"

"Rock Me"

"Big Mama's Bumble bee Blues"

"Tom Cat"

"Wade in the Water"

 "School Boy"

"Don't Talk Back'

"Hound Dog"


Glen Campbell performs a classic John Hartford song.


Here's another old-time radio show for your pre-Halloween entertainment.  Dark Fantasy was a short-lived anthology show from NBC, lasting only 31 episodes.  "Rendezvous with Satan" aired on May 29, 1942 and starred Ben Morris and Fred Wayne.  The original script was by Scott Bishop.  Tom (not the singer/songwriter) Paxton announced the program.

Enjoy...with a little frisson of horror.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


The Yardbirds.


So why are the last four letters in the word "queue" silent?  I think they are just waiting their turn.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Fred Neil, Joni Mitchell, and Debbie Anderson.


Here's another one for Halloween:  a silent film classic of German Expressionism. 

What is the line between reality and fantasy?  Between insanity and sanity?  Perhaps this film will answer those questions for you.

Enjoy, even though this way may lead to madness.

Monday, October 23, 2017


Bobby Bare with a song about the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.


  • Martin Delrio, Spider-Man Super Thriller:  Midnight Justice.  Comic book tie-in Ya novel.  "Venom challenges Spider-Man to a deadly midnight showdown, at Manhattan's criminal-court building, in the middle of the worst snowstorm of the century.  It's a brutal no-holds-barred contest, in which all the advantages seem to lie with Venom.  Spider-Man must bag the crazed villain, or go down in the attempt."  Venom, for those who don't know, is a deadly alien symbiote, this time using Eddie Brock as its human host.  In more recent times, Venom has merged with Flash Thompson to become a sort of hero.  I have one question, though:  Just when did a 144-page story become a "super thriller"?
  • Christopher Golden, Spike & Dru:  Pretty Maids All in a Row.  Television (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) tie-in novel.  "It's 1940, and europe is ravaged by World War II -- an ideal environment for demon paramours Spike and Drusilla.  The anniversary of Dru's resurrection as a vamp impends, and Spike wants to celebrate.  what better gift than Freya's Strand -- a powerful necklace rumored to allow its wearer to shape-shift at will?  Spike learns of a demon named Skrymir, who claims to possess the bauble and is willing to trade.  Spike's task is to infiltrate the Watcher's Council headquarters and get his hands on the list of young women in training to take over as Slayer should they be called.  In exchange for Freya's Strand, Spike must kill the reigning Slayer, a brazen young woman named Sophie, as well as the Slayers-in-Waiting.  And if he succeed, it could mean the end of the Chosen One -- all of the chosen Ones -- forever..."  I'm a Buffy fan and a Christopher Golden fan, so I'm happy.
  • Donald Hamilton, editor, Iron Men and Silver Stars.  The 1967 Western Writers of america anthology, with eleven stories by Carter Travis Young, Tom W. Blackburn, Elmer Kelton, Brian Garfield, Todhunter Ballard, Lin Searles, John Prescott, Wayne D. Overholser, Luke Short, Thomas Thompson, and Donald Hamilton.  A great line-up and, I'm sure, some pretty great stories.
  • Phil Hardwick, Mississippi Mysteries #3:  Captured in Canton.  Mystery novella.  "The nationally renowned Canton Flea Market was the destination of the pilot who crashed his plane in nearby Barnett Reservoir.  But divers couldn't find his body or the priceless cargo he was carrying.  Jack Boulder, Mississippi's premier investigator, is called on to sort out this tangled web of greed and ghosts, but he must avoid becoming one himself in the process."  This series has reached ten volumes so far, each set in a different Mississippi town.  This copy was signed and inscribed to the previous owner.
  • Ernest Haycox, The Wild Bunch.  Western.  "There he was, Theo McSween, the man he had hunted so long, the man he had come to kill.  and now McSween lay dying in front of him, his body ripped by pain, his voice thick with death.  But there still was strength enough in the man to breathe out a curse, just before his body ceased to stir --"'you'll be in hell...a long time...before you die.'  The curse came true with the shocking speed of a .45.  And Frank Goodnight found himself the target for the fires of hell that burst from the guns of two gangs of cattle thieves.  He had hunted down a Nevada killer -- now they were hunting him."
  • Nancy Holder, Buffy the Vampire Slayer:  The Book of Fours.  Television tie-in novel.  "From a place of nightmares -- which Buffy and Faith share -- a terrible evil invades Sunnydale, setting off disaster.  Clearly, the big evil is linked to the Slayers' nightmares, which revolve around four figures:  one burning, one dripping wet, one covered in mud, one shrouded in windswept linen.  Each carries a box of grafted skin and bone.  Giles learns that the last slayer to encounter a similar container was India chosen -- Buffy's immediate predecessor."  Did I mention that I'm a Buffy fan?
  • K. W. Jeter, Star Wars:  Slave Ship.  Movie franchise tie-in novel, Book 2 of The Bounty Hunter Wars.  "He's both feared and admired, respected and despised.  Boba Fett is the galaxy's most successful bounty hunter.  Now he finds himself the hunted in the oldest game of all:  survival of the fittest."  The Star Wars universe keeps getting bigger and bigger and I'm having a hard time keeping up -- and, in some cases, wanting to keep up.
  • John Vornholt, Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel:  Seven Crows.  Television mash-up tie-in novel.  "In a sleepy little town on the border between Arizona and Mexico, Agent Riley Finn and his operative wife, Sam, have tracked down an international smuggling ring involving vampires.  surprisingly the call for reinforcements is answers by Buffy Summers and the atoning vampire Angel."  Did I mention that I'm a Buffy fan?

Saturday, October 21, 2017


Moving stones, hobbits, fairy stones, Anastasia, lights on Ceres, Nazca lines, and more...

As you can tell from many of the comments, the explanations given here are in dispute by many.  Oh, well...


A bit of Southern bluegrass gospel from The Bishops.




You got your dime's worth with this comic -- 68 pages and at least twelve stories and a number of fillers.

  • The Black X battles espionage in war-torn France (with great art by Will Eisner)
  • Detective (or is it defective?) Philpott Veep solves the case of the Signs and Shadows
  • When crooks throw a ringer into the big hockey game at Cliffside, it's up to Chip Chance to make things right
  • Abdul the Arab, son of Ali Bey, is called upon to solve the mystery of stolen oil in the persian Gulf
  • Captain Cook of Scotland Yard tackles The Case of the Stolen Bullion
  • "Sportraits" features a look at bobsled driver Bucky Wells, record holder for the Lake Placid course
  • Henry Hazzard and His Iron Man go after "Batzi" sabotage  (Really?  Batzis?  And their leader Hitlin?  Time to grow some, Smash Comics.  And could this Iron Man have been an influence on Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's hero of the same name for Marvel comics?  At least Tony Stark didn't have to deal with Batzis.)
  • Archie O'Toole, the king of Pyromania, wants to make his land a perfect country; it doesn't work (again, written and drawn by Will Eisner)
  • Chic Carter, Ace Reporter, gets the lowdown on the curse of the Star of Egypt diamond
  • The Invisible Hood goes after the Voodoo Master
  • Flash Fulton and Andy search the Amazon jungle for missing pilot Roger Hart
  • John Law, Scientective, (he's both a noted scientist and a lawyer) continues his crusade against The Avenger,who has targeted thirteen prominent and wealthy men
  • Wun Cloo, the Defective Detective, has to wrestle the great champion Mugwa in order to win the $100,000 prize money needed to save the town from bankrupcy
  • When an enemy dirigible bombs and destroys the Tennessee Valley Dam, it's time for Wings Wendall of the Military Intelligence to jump in
  • As well as a few more features and stories to fill out the issue

Like I said, a bargain.  And it doesn't even have to cost that dime.


Friday, October 20, 2017


Donovan and Crystal Gayle.


Chasing the Bear:  A Young Spenser Novel by Robert B. Parker (2009)

Spenser (no first name) is the Boston P.I. featured in 40 novels by Robert B. Parker, as well as six (and counting?) novels by Ace Atkins, who continued the series after Parker's death in 2010.  As the subtitle hints, Chasing the Bear may have been planned as the first in a series of 'Young Spenser" books (perhaps along the the lines of the "Young Jack" and "Jack:  The Early Years" books F. Paul Wilson wrote about his protagonist, Repairman Jack), but the author never go around to writing more.  It's just as well.

Parker may have a lot of faults as a writer and the Spenser books can be extremely irritating (I should know, having finally finished the entire Spenser oeuvre this week), but the books are readable and entertaining.  Thirty-four years after publishing his first novel, Parker branched out into YA fiction, first with Edenville Owls (a sports novel), followed by 2008's The Boxer and the Spy (about teenagers and the drug scene), and finally with this one.  I found Edenville Owls to be forgettable; The Boxer and the Spy to be a fairly decent read; and this one...?

Chasing the Bear has a lot going for it and a good deal against it.  In it Spenser is 14-years-old, going on 15, and is being raised by his father and his mother's two brothers (Spenser's mother died in childbirth).  The setting, although never spelled out in the book, is Wyoming.  The three adults raising him are trying to instill in the boy what it means to be a man and why one should never shirk responsibility.  These lessons form the basis of the adult Spenser's code of honor and this book uses them like a trudgeon.  (Also, the linking material in this book has the adult Spenser reminiscing about his youth to the annoyingly perfect Susan Silverman, the love of his life. I truly believe that every reader of the Spenser books must have asked him(or her)self, Why?  Anyway, Susan reinforces Spenser's worldview with pithy psychological insights about how these experiences worked to form the adult Spenser.)

Back to young Spencer.  His friend Jeannie comes from an abusive home.  Her mother had finally divorced her drunken father, which the man did not appreciate.  Spencer sees the father's truck going down the rode and Jeannie is in the passenger seat, panicked and mouthing, "Help.  Help me."  Going to the authorities would waste time and allow Jeannie's father to get away, so Spenser follows the truck on his bicycle.  After a bit of harrowing derring-do, young Spenser rescues Jeannie.  She is so grateful she falls for him.  He declines her advances because 1) he doesn't know what to do, 2) he only wants to be friends with her, and 3) even at this young age, he subconsciously knows that he is seeking his soulmate Susan.

So Jeannie agrees to just be friends, while remaining hopeful that Spenser's gonads will one day allow them to go beyond that.  Jeannie has a friend in school -- a quiet Mexican boy -- who is being bullied by the bigger kids, including some of the white kids on Spenser's football team.  Spencer, quixotic from the git-go, agrees to help stop the bullying.  There's more preaching on what it means to be a man.  (For one thing, being a man doesn't include bigotry -- thus paving the way for Spenser's later friendship with characters like Hawk, Chollo, Lee Farrell, and others.)

So there's a heavy load of preaching, not much action, and the exasperating Susan, yet somehow Parker makes it all readable -- as he has done with every piece of fiction he has written*

     *That's a lie.  It should read:  "with every piece of fiction he has written with the sole exception being 1983's nauseating Love and Glory."  When waterboarding didn't work at Abu Ghraib, they gave the prisoners copies of Love and Glory.  That's how bad that novel is!

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Written by Phil Ochs, this is one of my favorite songs, here performed by Jim and Jean.  Jim Glover met a young Phil Ochs at Ohio State, where he got Ochs interested in folk music and taught him to play the guitar.  They briefly formed a folk duo called "Singing Socialists."  Glover moved to New York, met and fell in love with Jean Ray.  they were featured a few times on Art Linkletter's television program, probably because Jean's mother was Linkletter's secretary;  their first issued recording was on a compilation album title Jack Linkletter Presents a Folk Festival in 1963.  When Phil Ochs moved to New York the next year, he stayed with the couple, who then introduced him to his future wife, Alice Skinner.  Jim and Jean issued three albums; their career evidently ended when their marriage did, although they did reunite thirty years later for a single performance in 2006.  Jean Ray died in 2007; Jim Glover now lives in Florida and has long been a peace activist.


The February 15, 1948 episode of Escape presented an adaptation of Algernon Blackwood's classic horror story "Ancient Sorceries."  Paul Frees stars as Arthur Llewellyn, a man whom people recognize in a Welsh town where he had never been before.  Also featured are Kay Brinker, Ann Morrison, and -- playing double duty on this show as both a cast member and the show's announcer -- William Conrad.  Produced by William N. Robson, directed by Norman McDonnell, and adapted by Les Crutchfield, the story was considerably shortened and altered to fit into Escape's half hour format.

Time to shiver:

For those interested in Blackwood's original story, it was the second story in his collection John Silence, Physician Extraordinay, at the link below:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


The Traveling Wilburys.


"My roommate is super arrogant.  She always refers to her breasts as 'the twins,' which I think is funny, because I've seen the twins, and they're fraternal." -- Jamie lee

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Joe Cocker, with a great Beatles cover.


Halloween is two weeks away, so it's a good time to look at this classic take on Dracula.  For me, Max Schreck is the greatest vampire in cinematic history -- his portrayal sparked rumors that he was a real vampire, something that formed the basis of  2000's Shadow of the Vampire with Willem Defoe.  In reality, Schreck (the word means "terror" in German) was a successful stage actor in Germany who drifted into silent films and survived the advent of talkies until his death in 1936.  Schreck was well-known for his innovative use of costume and make-up.

A surprising number of people have never seen Nosferatu.  It is one of the best films ever made and is a striking example of German expressionism in silent film.  This print has the added benefit of a great score.

Enjoy.  Or shiver.  Or both.

Monday, October 16, 2017


The Lovin' Spoonful.


  • Stuart Kaminsky, Behind the Mystery.  Seventeen interviews with well-known American mystery writers:  Sue Grafton, Elmore Leonard, Donald Westlake, Faye and Jonathan Kellerman, Martin Cruz Smith, Robert B. Parker, Lisa Scottoline, James Lee Burke, Tony Hillerman, Ann Rule, Mickey Spillane, Michael Connelly, Evan Hunter/Ed McBain, Sara Paretsky, Joseph Wambaugh, Lawrence Block, and John Jakes.  A great line-up of authors (half a dozen of whom are no longer with us), interesting interviews, wonderful (and multiple) photographs of each subject (along with pics of homes, work spaces, pets, etc.) by Laurie Roberts, all in all a very attractive book (marred by at least one glaring inaccuracy/typo I spotted while thumbing through the book).  A keeper.
  • Robert B. Parker, Rough Weather.  A Spenser novel.  "Heidi Bradshaw is wealthy, beautiful, and well connecte -- and she needs Spenser's help.  in a most unlikely request, Heidi, a notorious gold digger recently separated from her husband, recruits the Boston P.I. to accompany her to he private island, Tashtego, for her daughter's wedding.  Spenser is unsure of what his role as personal bodyguard will entail, but he consents when it's decided that he can bring his beloved Susan Silverman along.  It should be a straightforward job for Spenser:  show up for appearances, have some drinks, and spend some quality time with Susan.  Yet when his old nemesis Rugar -- the Gray Man -- arrives on Tashtego, Spenser realizes that something is amiss.  with a hurricane-level storm brewing outside, the Gray Man jumps into action, firing fatal shots into the crowd of guests and kidnapping the bride -- but Spenser knows that the sloppy guns-for-hire abduction is not Rugar's style."  I've been catching up on Parker and Spenser recently.  Despite the fact that Susan is annoying and Spenser is a bit too-too, I've been enjoying the read-a-thon.  I'll probably wrap up the entire series over the next week.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Two different edition of Charles Perrault's classic children's story with interesting illustrations.  No dates of publication are given but it's safe to assume it was before my time.  The second appears to be from the 1880s.  The first is filed under "filicide."  Fairy tales were much tougher back then.


The Man in Black rocking a gospel song.

Saturday, October 14, 2017


From when you and I were young,'s Bob Dylan.


Historically, Major George W. Lillie (1860-1942) was the man known as "Pawnee Bill."  A brief look at Wikipedia tells me nothing about any military service he might have had, nor where he got the title Major.  In 1879, when he was nineteen, he was working as an interpreter at the Pawnee Indian agency in Indian Territory.  At age 24 he was a Pawnee interpreter at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and it was there that he was first called Pawnee Bill. In 1888, he and his wife started the Pawnee Bill Historic Wild West show, which lasted for twenty years when he joined forces with his old employer Buffalo Bill to form the Two Bills Show.  Lillie had a number of various business interests, much of which rested on his Pawnee Bill reputation and that reputation appears to rest more on image than on any Old West activities.

In the comic book world, Avon Comics published White Chief of the Pawnee Indians, based on Major Lillie/Pawnee Bill.  Beyond the name and the long hair and mustache, that's probably where the resemblance ends.

The comic book features a three-chapter story.  The introduction to Chapter One tells us: 

     Pawnee Bill:  A major in the U.S. Cavalry, hunter, miner and scout, he respected and was respected by the Indians!  As white chieftain of the Pawnee tribe, this man lived the legends that grew up around his colorful exploits!  He typified the Old West, and is best remembered for his part in the --- "Fight for Oklahoma"

And the intro to Chapter Two:

     Pawnee Bill has turned the knife of Gray Wolf aside, and has won victory, where before there was only defeat!  But, Gray Wolf will not forget, and between this renegade Pawnee chief, and Pawnee Bill's deadly enemies, the Daltons, he will one day taste the full bitter sting of. --- "Gray Wolf's Revenge" --- !

Which brings us to the final chapter:

     The Daltons have failed to kill Pawnee Bill, but they must try again and succeed, or lose Oklahoma's rich grazing lands for their employers, the powerful cattlemen!  And as fire -- destruction -- and death sweep the range, Pawnee Bill and his friends fight the nightmarish terror created by --- "The Nightriders"

Phew!  Can't get much more Wild West than that.

Also included in this issue is "Prisoners," an action-packed story featuring "the frontier's most famous scout," who also happens to be a well-endowed, raven-haired beauty.


Friday, October 13, 2017


Bobby Vinton, bringing back memories of 1963.


Past Times by Poul Anderson (1984)

Poul Anderson (1926-2001) had a remarkable 55 year career:  a seven-time Hugo winner and a three-time Nebula winner, as well as a four-time Prometheus winner.  He was a SFWA Grand Master, A Gandolf Grand Master of Fantasy, and has been inducted in to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.    Although best known for his science fiction, Anderson also wrote fantasy, mysteries, historical fiction, and nonfiction.  I can't count the number of books and short stories he published over the years, almost all of them eminently readable.  His stories, always thoughtful and logically drawn, often reflected social and political concerns, often clothed with blazing adventure or sly humor. 

During the Eighties and Nineties, both Tor and Baen published a number of collections of Anderson's stories, mixing both previously collected and uncollected tales.  One of these, Past Times, collected a seven time travel stories and one essay.  Time travel, of course, was one of Anderson's favorite themes.

There's not a loser in the bunch.  One I particularly liked, dating from 1953, was "The Nest."  It opens with a Cro-Magnon who, while riding his iguandon during the Oligocene, rescues a naked girl from a Nazi.  Soon we are thrust in a tale of political intrigue in a land populated with warriors, criminals, and mercenaries from every era of the human race through to the 22nd century -- Huns, Goths, Mongols, Nazis, Roundheads, Confederate rebels, even a beautiful Martian Communist.  It's a wildly logical sword-and-machine gun tale of super-science that has to be read to be believed.

Another one I loved was "The Little Monster," about a twelve-year-old boy named Jerry (such a noble name, don't you think?  I wonder why I liked this one so much.) who is accidentally thrust 1,500,000 years into the past, where he becomes the first (and perhaps only) to come across a small tribe of pithecanthropuses. The sections of the story from the tribe's point of view are told in short, primitive bursts; interestingly, the more we get into the story, the sections from Jerry's point of view begin to be told in the same manner, creating an effect that becomes more obvious once Jerry is returned to his own time.  The plot and its ending are fairly common in science fiction, but Anderson makes it powerful and effective through his approach.

The contents:

  • "Wildcat" (originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1958)
  • "Welcome" (originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1960)
  • "The Nest" (originally published in Science Fiction Adventures, July 1953)
  • "Eutopia" (originally published in Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison, 1967)
  • "The Little Monster" (originally published in Science Fiction Adventure from Way Out, edited by Roger Elwood, 1973)
  • "The Light" (originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction, March 1957)
  • "The Discovery of the Past" (essay original to this collection, although "a small part of this essay was published in Profanity magazine, [copyright] 1977 by Bruce Pelz")
  • "Flight to Forever" (originally published in Super Science Stories, November 1950)

If you are a fan of great science fiction or of Poul Anderson*, you owe it to yourself to pick up this book.  Reasonably priced copies are available through the usual internet sources.

* A redundancy.  Fans of great science fiction are fans of Poul Anderson.  I really didn't have to tell that, did I?

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Subversive in many ways, Frank Zappa was first and foremost a major talent.


On July 7, 1952, Michael Redgrave began his run as C. S. Forester's popular British naval hero.  The radio program ran to July 17, 1953, for a total 52 episodes.

Hornblower's fictional career began (although not in order of publication) as a Royal Navy midshipman during the Napoleonic War, eventually rising to Admiral of the Fleet.  His adventures ran through ten complete novels, one unfinished novel, six short stories, and one nonfiction "companion."  His stirring adventures have thrill readers and audiences throughout the world.  Hornblower has influenced later literary characters such as Bernard Cornwell's Richard Sharpe, Patrick O'Brien's Jack Aubrey, Douglas Reeman's Richard Bolitho, and Dudley Pope's Lord Rampage.  In the science fictional world of Star Trek, both James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard were influenced by Hornblower, as were other science fictional characters such as A. Bertram Chandler's John Grimes, Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan, David Feintuch's Nicholas Seafort, and David Weber's Honor Harrington.  I'm sure there are many other literary character who owe a tip of the hat to Forester's character.

Your journey through Horatio Hornblower's career should begin with the first episode, at the link below.

It's time to set sail, head to sea, and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


From May 24, 1933, the last recording of Jimmie Rodgers, "The Singing Brakeman."  Rodgers passed away two days later.


Watson:  "Good heavens, Holmes!  It's just a head!  What happened to the body?...And, look!  Some fiend cut the nose off his head!  How can we identify the corpse?"

Holmes:  "Nobody knows, Watson, nobody knows."

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


From 1957, here's Mickey and Sylvia.


There were a lot of great comedians in the silent film era, but, for my money, few could top Buster Keaton.  His timing and pacing were impeccable.  His mild manner belied his athleticism.  His deadpan reactions were always perfection.  And he was funny.  Very funny.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, the introduction of the talkies did not slow him down.  His career in film lasted nearly fifty years, from his first short in 1917 to his final (and wonderful) performance in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1966, the year he passed away.

In The Electric House Keaton plays a botany student who is mistakenly given a degree in electrical engineering and things go downhill from there.  Keaton's real-life parents and sister play his parents in sister in the film.  Also featured are Virginia Fox (soon to become the wife of Darryl F. Zanuck), Laura La Varnie (Mickey, Raggedy Rose, Who's Your Friend), Steve Murphy (The Circus, Rolling Stone, The Fighting Skipper), and Joe Roberts (The Paleface, Little Lord Fauntleroy, The Misfit) -- of the four, only La Varnie made it past the silent era, and that for a very small part in one picture in 1930.  The cast knew how to put together a silent film comedy, especially under Keaton's direction.

Enjoy this one.  You know you need a laugh.

Monday, October 9, 2017


Linda Ronstadt.


  • Erin Blakemore, The Heroine's Bookshelf.   Nonfiction, twelve essays on remarkable women in literature.  Each woman is categorized according to their strength:  Self (Lizzy Bennett, Pride and Prejudice). Faith (Janie Crawford, Their Eyes Were Watching God), Happiness (Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables), Dignity (Celie, The Color Purple), Family Ties (Francie Nolan, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), Indulgence (Claudine, Colene's Claudette novels),  Fight (Scarlet O'Hara, Gone With the Wind), Compassion (Scout Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird), Simplicity (Laura Ingalls, The Long Winter), Steadfastness (Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre), Ambition (Jo March, Little Women), and Magic (Mary Lennox, The Secret Garden).  All of which leads me to the shameful confession that I have read none of these books.  Yet.
  • Gene DeWeese, Murder in the Blood.  Mystery. "When local history teacher Lou Cameron disappears, Farrell County Sheriff Frank Decker is puzzled by accusations of embezzlement, even if they do come from wealthy and influential Nathaniel Wetherstone, whose family owned half of Farrell County for a century.  Was Cameron -- who moonlighted as an insurance salesman -- stealing moony from Wetherstone's company?  Decker doesn't think so, especially when Cameron's car is found submerged with the body of a stranger inside.  But two questions trouble Decker:  who is the dead man and where is Cameron?  The answers lead Decker on a strange and twisted trail back into the Wetherstone family secrets, where a century-old murder holds the key to the scandalous secrets lurking in Decker's backyard -- as well as a face-off with a killer that proves famliy ties can bind in sinister and shocking ways."  DeWeese also wrote gothic novels as "Jean Deweese" and tie-in novels for various franchises, including two Man from U.N.C.L.E novels, in collaboration and under the joint pseudonym "Thomas Stratton.T
  • Jason Nickles, Immortal.  Horror novel.  "It was the perfect replica of a vampire.  a harmless relic from a forgotten carnival brought to New York for study.  Archaeologists called it a charlatan's toy.  David Kane called it...Master.  In a city that never sleeps, he has found the perfect place to initiate the innocent.  Now, a lonely woman wanders the streets offering salvation from the open wounds in her wrists,,,a man awakens to a room of freshly mauled executive spends his lunch hour feasting on the flesh of strangers.  Welcome to New York."

Sunday, October 8, 2017


ComedianRalphie May died this week at the all too young age of 43.  Friends described him as a genuinely nice person.  And a very funny one.  Here, he tells about the time he and his son attended a gay wedding.  Be warned:  This one is NSFW.


Ralph Stanley and friends.

Saturday, October 7, 2017


From 1946, a great song from Hoagy Carmichael.


Captain Condor, brave spaceship pilot in the 3000 who "was outlawed for opposing the dictator who ruled the planets," was created for the weekly British boy's newspaper Lion in 1952 as their answer to Dan Dare, a popular character in rival paper The Eagle.  Condor was the creation of writer Frank S. Pepper (1910-1988), who went on to co-create the well-known sports strip Roy of the Rovers for Tiger.  (Ironically, Pepper also wrote for Dan Dare.)  Ronald Forbes contributed the first artwork for the strip.  Captain Condor ran for 177 issues -- through September 10, 1955, then revived from November 18, 1961 through 1968.

This compilation includes the following stories:

  • "The Mystery of the Vanished Spaceship" - Condor's friend Pete finds a hole in space.
  • "Captain Condor and the Robot Spacemen" - When a band of men opposing the dictator are exiled to Mercury, Condor tries to rescue them.
  • "Captain Condor Fights the Space Pirates" - Asteroid-X is hurling toward Earth when Condor discovers that it is actually a pirate spaceship.
  • "The Menace on Space-Station J.9" -  Venusian convict Vargol Skurn has managed to get into Space-Station J.9's strongroom to loot it.  Skurn, protected by a deadly electro-screen, has even managed to defeat one of Condor's robots.  Can Condor capture this dastard?
  • "Prisoners of the Space Outlaws" - While searching for a lost spaceship, Condor and his crew meet up with a gang of space pirates and their deadly monstrous robot.
  • "Captain Condor -- Space Detective" - Sent to Memfu, the capitol of Krypto, to investigate rumors of the capture of a supposedly extinct dynotrop, Condor meets with palace intrigue, the stolen eyes from the statue of the rajking, and that marauding dynotrop intent on destroying the city.
And there's nary a girl around in the stories.  Evidently they were a no-no for British boys of the time.  To make up for that, there's action, valor, and well-drawn artwork.  


Friday, October 6, 2017


From 1935, Cleo Brown, a great blues vocalist who could really rock the piano.


Scary!  Stories That Will Make You Scream! edited by Peter Haining (1998)

I picked up this YA anthology because it had a story by Roald Dahl -- the only story by him that has not been reprinted in any of his books.   It turned out that "story" may be overstating it; "Spotty Powder" is a five-page scene that was written for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and was cut from the book for editorial reasons.  It introduces (and disposes of) Miranda Piker, another golden ticket holder, along with Charlie, Mike Teevee, Veruca Salt, and Augustus Gloop.  As the Oompa-Loompas described her in a song:

     "Oh, Miranda Mary Piker,
     How could anybody like her,
     Such a Priggish and revolting little kid.
     So we said, 'Why don't we fix her
     In the Spotty Powder mixer
     Then we're bound to like her better
     Than we did.'
     Soon this child who is so vicious
     Will have gotten quite delicious
     And her classmates will have surely understood
     That instead of saying, 'Miranda!
     Oh, the beast!  We cannot stand her!'
     They'll be saying, "Oh, how useful and now good!' "

You can tell tell that Miranda is a little blot because she has never missed a day in school in her short, obnoxious life.  She is also opposed to holidays and vacations and believes children are meant to work, not play.  She's a nasty one, all right, and a joy to Roald Dahl fans.

The remaining thirteen stories in the book are reprints, eleven of which I previously read -- some several times.  The two that were new to me were R. L. Stine's "The Spell," in which an also-ran teenager masters the art of hypnosis and puts it to murderous ends, and Leon Garfield's "The Restless Ghost," in which a twelve-year-old boy meets his ghostly doppleganger.

The contents:

  • "The Spell" by R. L. Stine (first published in Thirteen:  Tales of Horror, edited by Tonya Pines, 1991)
  • "It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby (first published in Star Science Fiction Stories, Number 2, edited by Frederik Pohl, 1953)
  • "'Drink My Red Blood"' by Richard Matheson (first published in Imagination, April 1951)
  • "Something Nasty" by William F. Nolan (first published in The Dodd, Mead Gallery of Horror, edited by Charles L. Grant)
  • "The Restless Ghost" by Leon Garfield (first published in The Restless Ghost:  Three Stories by Leon Garfield, 1969)
  • "The Thirteenth Day of Christmas" by Isaac Asimov (first published in The Key Word and Other Mysteries by Isaac Asimov, 1977)
  • "Hush!" by Zenna Henderson (first published in Beyond Fantasy Fiction, November 1953)
  • "Spotty Powder" by Roald Dahl (first -- and only -- publication in this book)
  • "A Baby Tramp" by Ambrose Bierce (first published in The Wave, August 29, 1891)
  • "The Man Upstairs" by Ray Bradbury (first published in Harper's, March 1947)
  •  "Dead Language Master" by Joan Aiken (first published in The First Panther Book of Horror, edited by Anthony Rampton, 1965)
  • "Here There Be Tygers" by Stephen King (first published in Ubris, Spring 1968)
  • "The Trick" by Ramsey Campbell (first published in Weird Tales #2, edited by Lin Carter, December 1980)
  • "A Toy for Juliette" by Robert Bloch (first published in Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison, 1967)
Some pretty good stuff here.  If you are a young reader or someone new to the field. this book will knock your socks off.  If, like me, you are familiar will most of the contents, reading this will be like meeting up with old friends.

Thursday, October 5, 2017


Paul Revere and the Raiders.  Love the outfits.


Cary Grant stars in this adaptation of Cornell Woolrich's The Black Curtain from Suspense, December 2, 1943.

Enjoy, perhaps with a glass of Roma Wine.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


It's been a devastating couple of weeks.  For some, the death of Tom Petty was the loss of a cultural icon.

This one is dedicated to the people of Puerto Rico, those who feel the practice of free speech and legal protest are things to keep and cherish, and the people who are for sensible gun laws while being told that this is not the time...this is for the people who remember the dead, the injured, and the marginalized.


A guy in a wheelchair just stole my camouflage jacket.  He won't get away with this -- he can hide but he can't run.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


There have been a lot of dead teenager songs, but there's also this 1958 not-dead teenager song from Jody Reynolds.


"IT JUMPS!  IT JIVES! It rocks with red hot rhythm!"

1942's Private Buckaroo is a lavish musical enlistment brochure.  Featuring Harry James (and His Orchestra), The Andrews Sisters, Dick Foran, Joe E. Lewis, Donald O'Connor, The Jivin' Jacks and Jills, Peggy Ryan, Shemp Howard, Huntz Hall, and Helen Forrest.

The plot (what there is of it) is simple:  Harry James is drafted, as is his lead singer Lon Prentice (Foran).  Foran is not hot on the idea of regulations and training -- certainly not for someone as famous as he.  There's singing.  And there's Shemp Howard doing his best work as a sole Muggsy Shavel.

If that's not enough, there are characters with names like Lancelot Pringle McBiff, Bonnie-Belle Schlopkiss, Corporal Anemic, and Nightclub Patron Awaiting Table.  (Well, blink and you'll miss that last one.)

Private Buckaroo was directed by former Keystone Kop Edward F. Kline ( The Bank Dick, Private Snuffy Smith, Ghost Catchers) and written by Edmund Kelso (The Oregon Trail, King of the Zombies, Freckles Comes Home) and Edward James (Over My Dead Body, The Adventures of a Rookie, Rookies in Burma) from a story by Paul Girard Smith (Harold Teen, Topper Returns, You're in the Army Now).


Monday, October 2, 2017


  • Lin Carter, The Quest of Kadji.  Sword and, excuse me,this is, per the paperback's cover, "Lin Carter's classic tale of sword and sorcery" [emphasis mine].  Well, the book is copyrighted 1971 and this Belmont/Tower book is dated 1972, so this is a pretty short time for a book to become a classic.  I would submit that few books that Lin Carter wrote (and he wrote many) could be called classics.  (Well, maybe his Thongor series -- if you look at it in a dark room while squinting really hard.)  Carter spent much of his career writing pastiches of former fantasy, science fiction, and pulp writers.  He was, at best, an entertaining writer and (through the Adult Fantasy series he edited for Ballantine) a very influential editor.  Anyway, back to this book:  "Zarouk, Lord Chief of the fighting Kozanga, sent his fierce young grandson, the warrior Kadji, to hunt the vile imposter to the throne of the Dragon emperor and bring back the sacred medallion as proof.  With his two companions, beautiful redhaired Thyra and the clever magician Akthoob, Kadji rode East to World's End to vanquish his deadly for; knowing full well that if he failed it would mean another dread evil was in the Dragon Empire, that he would be branded coward -- and worse."  This is the first volume in the Chronicles of Kylix trilogy.  Time to swash your buckles, kiddies, and suspend your sense of disbelief!  I think I'll actually like this one.
  • Brendon DuBois, Blood Foam.  A Lewis Cole mystery.  "Ex-intelligence analyst Lewis Cole is already in deep trouble for using his unique skills to save a friend.  Still, he can't resist when a former girlfriend, Paula, asks him to locate her missing fiance.  But he soon discovers that successful lawyer Mark Spencer's life is not what it appears.  His hometown has never heard of him, and his employer won't discuss him.  Then Paula is nearly abducted, and Lewis must take her on the run only steps ahead of the police.  As Lewis risks his life to unravel Mark's past and protect Paula, deceptive clues and treacherous witnesses pull him deeper into a decades-old tale of betrayal and obsession.  As his every move fuels a sadistic killer who can't wait to settle scores and teach Lewis a lesson in shattering loss..."  A few standby tropes here, but I'm betting the author spins gold out of them.  DuBois is one of the better writers we have.
  • Libby Fischer Hellman, Set the Night on Fire.  Mystery novel.  Hellman was already writing two successful series when she wrote this, her first stand-alone novel.  "spoeone is trying to kill Lila Hilliard.  First her family home goes up in flames, then she is attacked by a mysterious man on a motorcycle.  As Lila desperately tries to piece together who is after her, she uncovers information about her father's past in Chicago during the volatile late 1960s...information he never shared with her, but that now threatens to destroy her.  She finds an ally in ex-convict Dar Ganter.  after decades behind bars for his role in a protest act that killed three people.  Dar wants to make amends.  Instead he ends up on the run with Lila, dodging a killer intent on eliminating the former activists and their families.  Time is running out, and someone from the past is ready to put a stop to their future..."  I haven't read anything by Hellman, a popular and award-winning author, so I felt I should correct that shortcoming.
  • Peter Haining, editor, Scary!  YA horror anthology, subtitled "Stories That Will Make You Scream!" Fourteen stories, mostly familiar, from R. L. Stine, Jerome Bixby, Richard Matheson, William F. Nolan, Leon Garfield, Isaac Asimov, Zenna Henderson, Roald Dahl, Ambrose Bierce, Joan Aiken, Stephen king, Ramsay Campbell, and Robert Bloch.  Some pretty good stuff here, and a good bargain for readers new to the field.  I picked this one up for the Roald Dahl story "Spotty Powder," a five-page quickie that had been cut from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and has never been printed in any of Dahl's books.
  • Charles H. Meeker, Folk Tales From the Far East.  Juvenile, published in 1926 by the John C. Winston Co. as part of their Winston Clear-Type Popular Classics line.  There are 34 stories here (actually, 35, because one was embedded in the introduction.  I have no idea if these stories are based on real folk tales or if the author made them up from whole cloth.
  • Kris Neville, Spacial Delivery, bound with Dave Van Arnam, Star Gladiator.  SF, billed as "Two Complete, Full Length Science Fiction Novels" by the publisher.  Actually, these are novelettes (or maybe novellas...potato, potahto),  The Neville originally appeared in Imagination, January 1952 (reprinted in the same magazine in August 1958 and in William F. Nolan's 1965 anthology Man Against Tomorrow, and also appeared in 2011 bound with Charles F. Myers' No Time for Toffee).  "Earth had been silently, stealthily invaded.  No Earthman was aware of the attack.  No man or woman realized alien races walked among them...or knew that the strange packages everyone received through the mail contained the weapons which would destroy their planet.  Earth had been silently invaded, but can you fight something you can't see?"  Neville was an underrated SF author whose body of work deserves attention.  David Van Arnam was a fan who co-authored a nonfiction book abour Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom and Amtor in 1963.  He wrote or co-wrote SF eight novels and two novellas from 1967 to 1972; one of the novellas was Star Gladiator, a story original to this book.  'survival for Jonnath Gri was merely a word droning incessantly in the ancient rites from mother Earth.  Survival became a bloody reality in the dreaded arena of the Star Games.  Parents slaughtered by the Star Guards, his fiance abducted, tall Jonnath was captured and thrown into the blood-soaked arena to fight for the amusement of the citizens of the Ten Star Complex.  Weaponless and naked, he had to fight against the most treacherous animals to be found on 50 planets -- the most advanced weaponry developed on untold worlds.  Weaponless?  The is one weapon of unlimited power...Revenge."  Sounds like the Van Arnam was the B-team on this match-up.
  • Harry Price, The Most Haunted House in England.  Nonfiction or bushwah?  You decide.  As you might have guessed, this book is a history of England's famous Borley Rectory.  Price (1881-1948) was a British psychic researcher and self-professed ghost hunter who also exposed fraudulent spiritual mediums.  Borley Rectory was never known as the most haunted house in England until Price published this book in 1940.  Price rented Borley Rectory in 1937 for the purpose of psychic investigations.  The history of the house and its supposed occurrences are put forth in great detail in the book.  Sadly, the book was never looked at critically when it came out and soon became a mainstay in the paranormal game of tricks.  After Price died, more critical eyes prevailed and most -- but not all -- feel that Price faked a number of occurrences and that others could be explained by natural phenomena -- wind, rats, and so on.  Oh, well.
  • Ian Watson, The Very Slow Time Machine.  SF collection, Watson's first, with thirteen stories from 1973 to 1978.  A prolific and thoughtful writer, Watson should be on every SF lover's list.

Sunday, October 1, 2017


Mickey & Sylvia.


One of the great urban legends of our time is that of Area 51.  All sorts of weird stories, often involving cover-ups of space aliens, are rife.  Gee, as a 24/7 skeptic I have to say I'm skeptical.

Here's a short film from 2012 that tells us what's Behind Area 51.


An early recording from The Chuck Wagon Gang.