Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


From 1957, Joe Bennett and The Sparkletones.


My 62nd birthday was very short.  It lasted only a minute, actually.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Blind Blake (Real Name Arthur Blake, 1896-1934) was a master of the ragtime style of guitar picking, a precursor to the Piedmont style that became an important part of the blues guitar genre.  He recorded about 80 songs over a seven-year period for Paramount Records, ending when Paramount went bankrupt.  "Police Dog Blues" was released in 1929.


I don't know how overlooked these are.  When I was a kid they used to be on the Saturday morning cartoons, but I hadn't seen one in a while.

Eighteen of these cartoons were produced between 1941 and 1943.  The cartoons were produced by Max Fleischer Studios (later Famous Studios) and were distributed by Paramount.  The cast of radio's The Adventures of Superman supplied the voices for the cartoons:  Bud Collyer, Joan Alexander, Jackson Beck, Julian Noa, and Jack Mercer.

Linked below is just over an hour's worth of Superman cartoons.


Superman (1941)

Superman:  Volcano (1942)

Superman:  The Mechanical Monsters (1941)

Superman:  The Eleventh Hour (1942)

Superman:  The Arctic Giant (1942)

Superman:  Billion Dollar Limited (1942)

Superman:  Jungle Drums (1943)

Superman:  The Underground World (1943)

Sunday, January 28, 2018


Brook Benton.


Happy Birthday!:  Actor John Forsythe was born 100 years ago today, although back then he was known as Jacob Lincoln Freund.  Although he had a long career that included radio, the stage, and movies, he is best known for his iconic television roles in Bachelor Father, Charlie's Angels, and Dynasty.  An original member of the Actor's Studio, he taught such actors as Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Julie Harris, Patricia Neal, and his future Dynasty Joan Collins.  The secret to his success?  "I'm a vastly usable,not wildly talented actor."

January Incoming:  It's a bit larger than I expected, due to a "fill a bag for two bucks" deal.
  • Mary Higgins Clark, editor, Manhattan Mayhem.  Mystery Writers of America anthology with 18 stories taking place in the Big Apple.
  • Don Cortez, CSI:  The Killing Jar.  Television tie-in.  Let's see if this guy writes them as good as Max Allan Collins did.
  • Greg Cox, CSI:  Headhunter.  Television tie-in.  Ditto on what I said above.
  • John Ellis, Diary of a Hangman.  Marketed as True Crime in this British paperback edition, the book is memoir (of sorts) from Britain's official executioner from 1901 to 1924, during which time Ellis executed 203 people, including Dr. Crippen.
  • Clifton Fadiman, general editor, The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes.  Six hundred double column pages of anecdotes about famous men and women from all walks of life.  In a quick skimming I found some old chestnuts among more than a few gems.
  • Lillian Garis, Connie Loring's Dilemma.  A "Girl's Book" from 1925, the second of two books about young Connie.  Lillian Garis wrote hundreds of books for the juvenile market, including some of the earliest Bobbsey Twins stories.  (Her husband, Howard R. Garris, also wrote gazillion juveniles, including the Uncle Wiggily books and most of the original Tom Swift series.)  This copy has been totally beat to ****, with both covers torn off, the spine missing, end papers torn out, and pages crinkling with age
  • Ken Goddard, CSI:  In Extremis.  Television tie-in.  What I said for Cortez and Cox, above.
  • Harvard Lampoon, The Hunger Pains.  Parody.  Back in the day, one crew wrote the James Bond parody Alligator, later another crew wrote Bored of the Rings.  Let's see if this 2012 crew can do as well.  (Note:  I have not read the Harvard Lampoon's sparkle in the daylight Nightlight.)
  • James Herbert, Others.  Horror novel.
  • Hans Holzer, Great American Ghost Stories.  Holzer, a well-known ghost hunter (who may have been serious), made a good living gulling the public with supposed true tales of hauntings and supernatural escapades.  This book gives us eighteen tales "culled from his own investigations" and all "accounts are based on sound scholarship."  And I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.
  • L. Ron Hubbard, Slaves of Sleep & Masters of Sleep.  Fantasy; the first story coming from the July 1939 issue of Unknown; its sequel from the October 1950 issue of Fantastic Adventures.  This is pre-Dianetics and pre-Scientology Hubbard, from when he could tell a fairly good tale.
  • Charlie Huston, Six Bad Things.  Crime thriller, the second in the Hank Thompson series.
  • Larry Niven, Ringworld's Children.  Science fiction.  the fourth book in the Ringworld series.
  • Otto Penzler, editor, The Big Book of Rogues and Villains.  Doorstop anthology with 71 stories.  A late Christmas present to myself.  Yummy!
  • Donald E. Westlake, The Road to Ruin.  Crime comedy.  A Dortmunder novel.
Books Finished This Week:  Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing, a good, absorbing read; Roger Dee's An Earth Gone Mad, a routine half of an Ace Double about an alien attempt to influence humanity; Skottie Young's Rocket Raccoon and Groot:  Tricks of the Trade, a graphic novel with various artists; Jason Aarons' The Unworthy Thor, a graphic novel with art by Olivier Coipel and others; Michael Avon Oeming & Daniel Berman, Thor:  Ragnaroks, graphic novel with art by Scott Kolins &Andrea de Vito and with the most annoying lettering in comicdom; and the penultimate Sheriff Dan Rhodes novel from Bill Crider, Dead, To Begin With.  I'm currently reading The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes by Lawrence Block.

A Not-So-Dreary Anniversary:  Poe's "The Raven" was published on January 29, 1845, in New York's The Evening Mirror.  It's influence in popular culture cannot be underestimated.  Since 1953, the Mystery Writers of America have handed out the Raven Award to non-writers for contributions to the mystery genre.  Past winners have included Tom Leher, Dorothy Kilgallen, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Phyllis McGinley, Alfred Hitchcock, Joey Adams, Isaac Beshevis Singer, Edward Gorey, Vincent Price, Bill Clinton, Otto Penzler, and Jon and Ruth Jordan.

Texas Leads the Way (with apologies to Bill Crider):  Oscar, the wayward mule, wnt walkabout from his Wise County farm two years ago.  The most diligent search could not find him.  Then this month he reappeared and was very thirsty.  It seems that Oscar is a Dr. Pepper junkie and missed his favorite drink.  Sheriff Dan Rhodes feels your pain, Oscar.

But Kansas Also Leads the Way:  In selling Tide Pod donuts, that is.  Kansas bakery chain Hurts Donut is now selling donuts decorated like Tide Pods.  That's one challenge I can get into.

Florida Man!:  This one's from 2017, but what the heck, I like it.  This particular Florida Man is Miami attorney Stephen Gutierrez's pants caught on fire while he was defending a client on a arson charge.  Was it the batteries from his electronic cigarettes that caused his pants to combust, or was it merely fate?

Sing Along:  An old Kellogg's Corn Flakes commercial with Homer, Jethro, an abominable snowman, and a catchy tune.


Nnedi Okorafor, Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award winner, is a leading Afrofuturist writer.  In this TED Talk, Okorafor discusses the inspiration and roots of her work.


Willie Nelson.

Saturday, January 27, 2018


My wife couldn't stop laughing at this.

Here's Bonnie Tyler's video of  "Total Eclipse of the Heart," described in song by Persephone Maewyn.



From Wikipedia:

"Buck Ryan was a UK adventure newspaper comic strip created by Jack Monk and writer Don Freeman.

"Monk and Freeman were doing an adaptation of Edgar Wallace's Terror Keep for the Daily Mirror.  When it was dropped shortly due to a rights problem, Monk and Freeman decided to fashion their own strip, and Buck Ryan was born.  It ran in the Daily Mirror from 22 March 1937 to July 1962.

"Buck Ryan started again in the Daily Mirror in 2015."*

Buck Ryan was a tough-guy private investigator who fought crime, particularly "the lady crime boss Twilight along with various kidnappers and German spies."

The comic strip was noted for Artist Jack Monk's great attention to detail.

The compilation below ran from April 2, 1945 to June 26, 1945 and consists of the 24th story arc in the comic strip.  In this sequence, elite members of the Bund Deutscher Madel, "fanatical Nazi girls  --- trained from childhood to worship Hitler," are being used in murderous way behind the front line.  Scotland Yard puts Buck on the case, putting Buck and his assistant/girlfriend Zola in uniform, to be aided by a well-mustached (and unnamed) British colonel.


* The current Buck Ryan is just colorized reprints of the original strip.

Friday, January 26, 2018


Everyone was doing it in 1975, according to Carl Douglas.


An Earth Gone Mad by Roger Dee (1954)

Roger Dee, the name Georgian Roger Dee Aycock (1914-2004) used for some fifty+ science fiction stories from 1949 through 1962 (with one additional tale in 1971), published only one novel in his lifetime -- and that appeared as one-half of an Ace Science Fiction Double.  Dee's only other "book" that I know of is an e-Book collection of thirteen public domain stories that Wildside Press published as a science fiction "megapack;" ten of the thirteen stories are also available from Project Gutenberg.  (Wildside also is the only English publisher to republish An Earth Gone Mad, as a trade paperback in 2012.)

The book -- actually a novella -- first saw print in the November 1952 issue of Startling Stories as "The Star Dice," billed as a "complete novel."  It was expanded (ever so slightly, I believe) for it's Ace publication and packaged with the needlessly retitled The Rebellious Stars (original title The Stars Like Dust) by Isaac Asimov.

The story itself is run-of-the-mill pulp SF. 

Paul Shannon is a space engineer for Solar Services who survived a crash landing on Jupiter's moon Io -- an isolated and deadly orb.  He survives with the help of the Kyril, a member of a secretive Ionian race who has befriend Shannon and who has spent two years helping him to jury-rig Shannon's spaceship into serviceable order.  Knowing that he has been lost to his fiance for the past two years, he is anxious to get back to Earth.  He takes off in his not-ready-for-prime-time ship,aiming roughly for Earth.  He lands somewhere in Colorado to a much different world than that he had left.

A bit over a year and a half ago, mysterious cubes (the "star dice" of the magazine title) appeared in the skies.  These solid cubes began to influence humans, giving them a complete sense of peace.  This sense of peace included a total lack of resistance to just about anything.  Some of these "Cubists" have been used by others as willing slaves.  The number of Cubists is growing rapidly and the cubes may soon take over the entire human race.  Supporting the Cubists are the syndicates, including Solar Services, who have a vested interest in the cheap labor the Cubists provide, and the government, who see the Cubists as a major political bloc.  Opposed to the Cubists are the Guilds, who espouse violence in getting rid of the Cubists.  There also several small groups of scientists; one, utilizing a recently discovered faster than light drive, plans to send an arc to 61 Cygni to rebuild humanity; another, led by Shannon's best friend, plans to use the light drive for another purpose (I don't think this purpose was ever mentioned, but then this is pulp -- keep the story moving, don't worry about details).

Shannon's fiance and her mother have both become Cubists and Shannon is stunned at the compliant, cow-like person his fiance has become.  While trying to sort out his thoughts, she is sent to a Cubist "Peace Center" in another part of the country.  His fiance's mother has been murdered by Guild members. Shannon is thrown in with Ruth Nugent (she of the "deep breasted roundness"), the daughter of the inventor of the light drive.  They team up with Gil Lucas, Shannon's childhood friend, and find themselves on the run from the many factions vying against each other.  standard pulp chasing and derring-do follow.

Question remain.  What are the cubes?  What is their purpose?  Where did they come from?  Can they stopped?  Should they be stopped?  Can any side or faction be trusted?

Are there any deeper themes to this story?  I suppose if you squinted real hard just after dusk in an unlit room, you might find a dystopic anti-McCarthyism thread here and there.  Or not.  I doubt deep thoughts were not at the forefront when this was written.

Anthony Boucher, reviewing this book in F&SF, said An Earth Gone Mad "is routine cosmic melodrama in the manner of a road company van Vogt, far removed from the originality of Dee's best shorter stories."  And, in Galaxy, Groff Conklin dismissed the book with:  "Dee's ominous-pitched piece of turgidity about a world of tomorrow in which some sort of alien 'things' are gradually taking over the human race, individual by individual, turning them into willing slaves."


My opinion is slightly better.  This is not a great book and it is not a good book, but I found it a fairly entertaining book.-- one of those easily digested and quickly forgotten time-wasters that I occasionally seek out and devour.  I am not too proud to say that I had fun with it.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Theodore Bikel (1924-2015) was an Austrian-American Jewish actor, musician, and activist whose powerful voice brought world folk music to our living rooms.  On Broadway Bikel created the role of Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music and still holds the record for performing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof more times than any other actor.  In films he appeared in such movies as The African Queen, The Enemy Below, The Defiant Ones, and The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.  Bikel was also a guest star on many popular television shows from the 1950s on.

As a singer, he recorded more than twenty albums.  He could sing in 21 languages, including Yiddish, Hebrew, German, Russian, Hungarian, Romanian, French, medieval Spanish, Zulu, and English.   He was a co-founder of the Newport Folk Festival and opened the first folk music coffee house in Los Angeles. the Unicorn, which led to a second coffee house, Cosmo Alley, which, in addition to folk music, also featured such differing artists as Maya Angelou and Lenny Bruce.

bikel was a staunch supporter of civil rights and humanitarian causes.  He co-founded The Actors Federal Credit Union and had served as president of Actors Equity and the Associated Actors and Artistes of America.  He served a six-year term on the National Council for the Arts.  After one performance of The Sound of Music, producers were surprised when "he was picked up backstage by a limousine carrying Eleanor Roosevelt and he accompanied her her to a Democratic rally as her special guest."  He was arrested in front of the Soviet embassy protesting the plight of Russian Jews.

The following link takes you to 32 of some of his best songs.  Here, he sings in Hebrew, Spanish, Yiddish, French, Russian, Bolivian, Roumanian, Ukrainian, and (of course) English.  In this playlist is one my favorite Theodore Bikel songs -- "Die Moorsoldeten," or, "The Peat Bog Soldiers."



From the album The Poetry and Music of the Kesh by Ursula K. Le Guin & Todd Barton.

"Kesh Musics"

"Heron Dance"


Ursula K. Le Guin died this week at age 88.  She will be missed and her work will live on.

Here's a radio dramatization of her short story "Field of Vision" (Galaxy, October 1973).


Wednesday, January 24, 2018


From 1969, Tony Joe White.


My brother has always been a few colors short of a full crayon box.  Once he had to take a trip to New York, so he called AAA and asked, "How long does it take to drive from Boston to New York?"

The operator said, "Just one moment."

"Thanks," he said, and hung up.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


The Turtles.


Perhaps the best known of J. B. Priestley's plays, An Inspector Calls has been presented many times in films and television.  Below is the 1982 BBC 3-part miniseries (don't worry; it totals out to 90 minutes) featuring veteran television actor Bernard Hepton (I, Claudius, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Smiley's People) in the title role.  Also featured are Nigel Davenport (A Man for All SeasonsChariots of Fire, Zulu Dawn), Margaret Tyzack (2001:  A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, I, Claudius), Simon Ward (The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers, Zulu Dawn), Sarah Berger (New Tricks, Dr. Who, Lovejoy), David Sibley (New Tricks, Downton Abbey, Misomer Murders), and Jean Leppard (Wire in the Blood, A Touch of Frost, Chemical Wedding).

Evidently not an adaptation, but taken directly from Priestley's play (he's given sole writing credit), the mini-series was produced by Roland Smedley and directed by Michael Simpson (who has directed shows based on works by Agatha Christie, Dorothy L.Sayers, John Mortimer, and others).

A well-acted play that can be viewed on several levels.


Monday, January 22, 2018


Jackson Browne.


Instead of a Rant:  I'll just repeat two quotes that's been trending on the internet these last few days -- "A shutdown falls on the President's lack of leadership.  He can't even control his party and get people together in a room.  A shutdown means the President is weak." -- Donald J. Trump, 2013  And, "The problems start from the top and have to get solved from the top.  The President is the leader, and he's got to get everybody together in a room and he's got to lead."  -- ditto

Books I Finished This Week:  Three collections by Joe Lansdale -- Hap and Leonard, Trapped in the Saturday Matinee, and Hap and Leonard:  Blood and Lemonade (the last being what Lansdale called a "mosaic novel;" two lesser books by Edgar Rice Burroughs -- Minidoka, 937th Earl of One Mile M (a children's fantasy a la Lewis Carroll and L. Frank Baum, the earliest completed story by Burroughs and evidently based on bedtime stories he used to tell) and You Lucky Girl! (a three-act play written for, but never performed by his daughter Joan; the only full dramatic play he ever wrote); The Beetle Horde by Victor Rousseau (early SF and my FFB this week; this one was the very first story (and serial) published in Astounding Stories; Jon Rivera & Gerard Way's Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye, Vol. 1:  Going Underground (a graphic novel featuring underutilized DC characters, mainly Cave Carson and Wild Dog); and Doogie Horton's A Very Die Hard Christmas (a retelling of the film as "The Night Before Christmas").  I'll admit I'm ashamed to include the last one as a book, but it is what it is.  I'm currently reading Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, even though she spells her first name wrong.

Porn Actresses Are Dying:  Five in the past ten weeks -- accident, overdose, suicide, and unstated causes.  It's one of those things that's coincidence, not conspiracy, BUT...  Well, there's your plot for that mystery novel you've always wanted to write.

Two IUDs:  They were detonated yesterday in a Florida mall about 30 miles from Tampa.  No one was injured, of course.  Police are looking for a very confused man who believes people actually go to malls nowadays.

Millie Bobby Brown:  She caused a bit of a stir at the SAG Awards when she appeared wearing white Converse sneakers because she wanted to dance after the ceremony.  The 13-year-old actress also has a boyfriend, to which Judge Roy Moore could only say, "Dang!"

Speaking of Show Biz:  Transformers:  The Last Knight is the "worst of the worst" films nominated for this year's Razzies.  Somehow, I suspected all along that there will be no surprises when the winners are announced.  Also up[ for a Razzie are Fifty Shades Darker, The Mummy, Baywatch, and The Emoji Movie.  Actors nominated are Mark Wahlberg, Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Jamie Dorman, and Zac Ephron.  In the actress category:  Tyler Perry (that's correct), Katherine Heigl, Dakota Johnson, Jennifer Lawrence, and Emma Watson.  Among the nominations are "Any combination of two human, two robots or two explosions" in Transformers:  The Last Knight.  And you wonder why I don't go to the theater any more.

This Will Probably Lose Me Most of the Few Followers This Blog Has:  Go Patriots!

This Week in Florida Man:  "Drunk Driver Gets Areested after Mistaking a Bank Drive-Thru as a Taco Bell"  Florida Man, this time 28-year-old Douglas Francisco, also passed out at the wheel of his car, blocking access to the ATM.  When arrested, he apparently "made several statements that were differing with reality."  Florida Man, for keeping alive the tradition of stupidity and weirdness inn the state, we salute you!

Sunday, January 21, 2018


"May you live in interesting times" -- old curse

While the effects of a government shutdown are beginning to be felt, its impact will be increased tomorrow as the work week begins.

Government shutdowns are a recent thing in our country's history.  Here's a look at the past government shut-downs.


The Vaughan Quartette (more often spelled "Quartet").  James T. Vaughan was a successful publisher of gospel songbooks, selling more than 30,000 in 1909 alone.  The following year he organized a quartet to go on the road and help sell his books; his sales doubled.  The quartet was so popular that Vaughan kept adding more of them until, by the mid-1920s, there were sixteen quartets traveling throughout the country.  This recording, from the 1920s, is undated.  I have no idea which "Quartet" this is, nor do I know who any of the singers are.  The picture of The Vaughan Quartet show five people -- one, I assume, is their pianist.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


Heading this ticket is Mountain:

Followed by CCR:


The first issue of this pre-Code Fawcett horror comic book consists of three stories introduced by The Mummy, a shriveled green creature with most of its wrapping gone and wearing a red robe and cowl.  Yes, this is an attempt to ride on the coat-tails of the EC horror comic book line, but it's a pretty good one.

The first story, "Ghost Hounds of Trelawney," is the best of the lot, with some great artwork by bob Powell.  The title is presented in two lines, with the first letter of each word printed in red, spelling GOTH -- a neat little trick that probably went unnoticed by many of its readers.

"Out across the moors, above the eerie shriek of the wind, the howling, wailing, moaning that came of no earthly thing gave stark irrefutable evidence of the --- GHOST HOUNDS OF TRELAWNEY"

John Marshand has inherited fifty acres of land in Trelawney and has put it up for sale but no one has shown interest in buying or farming it, so he has traveled to that remote Scottish village to find out why.  Arriving at night, he is told by his cab driver that no one has farmed in Trelawney for more than a half century. Dropping him off in front of the local inn, the cab driver -- obviously scared -- says it is almost 11:00 and drives quickly away.  Entering the inn, he sees locals racing to lock the doors, bolt the windows, and extinguish the lights.  It is almost 11:00 after all.

Marshand is told of a local legend concerning two rival squires known for their cruelty and their hatred of each other.  Each squire had several viscous hounds trained to kill and would set them loose on their tenants with impunity.  Eventually, the tenants rose up and hanged both squires, but the evil did not die.  Each evening at 11:00, the ghost Squire Ghastney and his evil hounds walk the land that once was his.  Well, pish-posh, thinks Marshand, so when he hears what might be the howling of a hounds, he goes outside to investigate.  Naturally he soon spots a luminescent figure coming toward him.  It is Squire Ghastney with three leashed, snarling, slavering hounds.  The vengeful ghost spots Marshand and gives chase, as Marshand is forced to run into a marshy wood where he gets bogged down in the mud.  Freeing himself, he crosses a stream, thinking that that might stop the ghost.  It doesn't because the ghost and his demon hounds walk on top of the water toward Marshand.  Just when all seems lost, the sun rises and squire and hounds vanish.  Marshand tries to leave town but no one will help him.  As darkness comes and there seems no way for him to get to the nearest railway station, he steals a wagon hitched to two horses and drives madly toward the station.  Too late?  Suddenly it is 11:00 and the ghost and his hounds appear.  In a desperate race, Marshand sees the train pulling out of the station.  He hops from the wagon, leaving the horses to be savaged by the ghostly hounds, and manages to board the moving train.  The train picks up speed.  Marshand believes he has escaped, but out the window he sees the squire, running even faster than the train in pursuit, for the ghost has got his scent.  How can Marshand defeat this terrible spectre?

The second story is titled "The Nameless Horror."  "Real and terrible beyond all words -- defying all description -- this ghastly, gargantuan monster appeared for human eyes to witness for the first time!  At the sight of it -- fear drove men to madness or suicidal death!"

An African safari.  An unexplored jungle.  The terrorized natives will go no farther.  They have entered the land of Tangunu, the white ape, the god and soul of all apes!  Clay Brener, the cruel and amoral man who headed the safari with his beautiful finance Enid, is determined to capture this legendary beast to sell to a zoo.  Forcing the natives on with gun and whip, he finds the giant ape, with its "beady eyes gleaming, fangs gnashing and "with a fury that was as a raging sea and stormy lightning-rent skies!"  A strong steel-mesh net and a heavy dose of chloroform prove to much for the savage creature.  Locked in a strong steel cage for the ocean voyage back to the states, the white gorilla is continuously taunted by Brener in what the tale calls (in an obviously poorly-edited panel) "his saddistic divertisement."  It's not nice to taunt a jungle god, especially when you get too close to the cage and said jungle god manages to bite you on the shoulder.  Brener is taken to the ship's infirmary, where he soon begins to feel odd:  "My hands are stiff -- appear swollen larger than usual!  and my skin -- the texture is so coarse and more hairy!...M-My jaw is ponderous and my cheekbones high and large!  And my breathing -- so deep and labored!" ...

The Mummy introduces the final story:  "Their blind eyes were all-seeing, as they sought Charlie Deffer even behind walls of stone and bars of steel!  And their dead limbs pursued -- and bony, bleached-white fingers reached out to ensnare him for their...CUSTODIAN OF THE DEAD!"

Charlie Deffer is a small-time crook and he likes money.  What better way to get money than to be a grave robber?  Especially when the cemetery has such an impressive grave where a lot of money went into its erection.  Surely there must be some valuable stuff buried with the corpse -- and there is!  A heavy gold ring on the bony finger of one hand!  But when Charlie Deffer goes to remove the ring, the hand clenches tight.  Charlie faints in horror and when he wakes up there is an old man standing over him.  He is the graveyard's caretaker, but rather than turning Charlie over to the police, he brings him to his cottage and feeds him.  Inexplicably, the old man gives Charlie the key to a strongbox that holds a lot of money and also gives him the deed to his house, telling Charlie that he no longer needs them.  Caretakers, it seems, are actually chosen by the dead and the dead have chosen Charlie.  There is no escape for the dead will follow the caretaker everywhere he goes.  Except prison, it seems.  Desperate, Charlie assaults a policeman and is sent to prison for a year, hopefully breaking this curse.  But when Charlie is released from prison...

All in all, a pretty neat issue.  Effective (although at times cliched) writing and some good to very good artwork make this one a winner.


Friday, January 19, 2018


The Beetle Horde by "Victor Rousseau" (Agvidor Rousseau Emanuel, 1879-1960) (1930)

Rousseau was a popular pulp writer in the first half of the last century and whose first novel was published in 1901.  much of his work in the pulps did not appear in book form until after his death.  His most famous science fiction were The Messiah of the Cylinder (1917) and The Surgeon of Souls (a collection of stories first published in various magazines in 1909-10 and released in book form in 2006).  He used a number of pseudonyms, most often "H. M. Egbert;" as "Lew Merrill" he wrote the cult favorite story "Bat Man" and as "John Grange"he wrote a few of the adventures of Doc Savage-clone Jim Anthony, Super Detective.

The Beetle Horde has a unique place in the history of science fiction.  It began as a two-part serial in the first issue of Astounding Stories of Super-Science (January 1930), the storied magazine that would morph into Astounding, then into Analog, which is still published today, 89 years later.  As the lead story of that issue, it received the magazine's first cover and was the story that the magazine published.

The tale concerns an expedition of the South Pole, several years after another expedition led by the famous archaeologist Bram was lost.  Among the current expedition were Tommy Travers, a well-known aviator, and Jimmy Dodd (not the head Mouseketeer from days of old), a scientist who had argued with Bram about some of his more unorthodox theories.  The two make a startling discovery -- the "fossilized" carapace of a giant beetle, some five feet long.  The they the take off in Tommy's plane in search of more of the fossils.  Entering a thick cloud, Tommy loses control of his aircraft and crashes, not into snow and ice, but into a warm crater which holds a large pile of these giant beetle carapices.  Foraging in this pile is a beautiful girl, Haidia, a native of the underground world from which the giant beetles came.  Evidently human, Haidia's race has evolved underground to have nictitated eyelids to help them see in the gloom.  Haidia's hair has grown long enough that she has braided the ends to wrap around her body life a shift.

The three are attacked by some live beetles, and each hides under a carapace.  They are captured and are taken below the earth's crust to Submundia, the vast underworld kingdom that is ruled by Bram, who was not dead as had been believed.  Bram is now totally insane.  Rumored to have been a morphine addict before, he is now completely controlled by the drug.  He has somehow found a way to control the savage beetles and now lives as a solitary mad king.  Besides the current beetle horde. there is large mass of trillions of larvae about to be hatched.  Then they mature, Bram intends to release them upon the upper world and destroy humanity because they scoffed at some of his theories.

Haidia's race of humans have been divided into three parts by Bram:  one for mating, one for slaves, and the third are culls -- those not fit, for some reason, to be in one of the other two classes.  Haidia is a cull.  Why?  Who knows?  Pulp stories don't have to explain themselves.

What follows is standard fare.  Escape.  Capture.  Escape. Battle scenes.  Death.  Destruction.  Rescue.  Finale.  Denouement.  All told in an early pulp style that thrillingly pushes the plot to its finale.

 Last week I panned another classic pulp adventure, Lieut. Gulliver Jones:  His Vacation.  While I found that one plodding and somewhat aimless, The Beetle Horde is different.  The writing can be clunky, to wit:

"'If we are attacked, you must sacrifice your life for me, Tommy, so that I can carry back the news.'
"'Righto!' answered Tommy with alacrity.  'You bet I will, Jim.'"

Underlying the entire book is a bright satire about academia, science, and competing theories.  Bram is perfectly willing to let Tommy, Jimmy, and Haidia live if only Jimmy will admit that he was wrong about Bram's theories.  Jimmy and Bram are both bull-headed; their own ideas are the most important part of them.  Jimmy is willing to die for his; Bram is ready to destroy the world for his -- something concerning a marsupial lion.  This conflict is well played throughout the book.

An entertaining and well-paced story that may be of interest to the modern reader.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


Rod Stewart.


From January 17, 1948, host Robert Montgomery presents a radio adaptation of James M. Cain's 1942 novel Love's Lovely Counterfeit.  This would be the second time Suspense presented this tale; the first being on March 8, 1945, starring Humphrey Bogart.  This time the starring role is played by James Cagney, with support from Cathy Lewis and Wally Maher.  At the end of the show, Montgomery and Cagney talk with James M. Cain about this performance and about Cain's writing.

The novel was adapted by Robert L. Richards and "Jason James" (a pseudonym for screenwriter Jo Eisinger because of his contract with Columbia Pictures; Eisinger would go on win an Edgar Award for his script for the television series Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, "The Pencil").  William Spier produced and directed this episode..

It's time to sit back and relax and enjoy the story of Ben Grace, a gangster who rises to the top on the coat-tails of a reform politician.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


The very unforgettable Nat King Cole.


Generally considered the first modern detective story, Poe's tale has had a long and not always faithful place in motion pictures, from a long lost 1908 silent film that replaced the detective with Sherlock Holmes to a made for TV movie starring George C. Scott.  Along the way, this 1932 film starring Bela Lugosi (one year after his brilliant turn in Dracula) was released by Universal Pictures.

A somewhat loose adaption, Murders in the Rue Morgue changes the name of the detective C. Auguste Dupin to Pierre Dupin for reasons that are beyond me.  The plot of Poe's story , if not the basic crime, is also altered.  Lugosi plays the mad Dr. Mirakle, who kidnaps young women and injects them with ape blood in an effort to prove his theory that man and ape are related.  Dupin, played by Leon Waycroft (better known in his later career as Leon Ames) is engaged to the beautiful Camille L'Espanaye (Sidney Fox, whose promising career started a downhill slide, ending with her suicide in 1942 at the age of 34).  Dr. Mirakle sees Sydney and decides she would make a fine wife for his ape Eric.  When Camille is kidnapped, Dupin suspects Mirakle and vows to get her back.

Also included in the cast are Bert Roach (a former Keystone Kop who is best known as a comic supporting actor), Betty Ross Clarke (a stage actress best known as Andy Hardy's aunt), Noble Johnson (an Africa-American character actor who co-founded Lincoln Studios to make so-called "race films," and a young Arlene Francis in her first credited role as "Woman of the Streets."  Look closely and you'll see Iron Eyes Cody as an "Indian at the Carnival."

Murders in the Rue Morgue was directed by French-born Robert Florey (The Cocoanuts, Meet Boston Blackie, The Beast with Five Fingers).  Florey also adapted Poe's story with help from screenwriters Tom Reed and Dale Van Emery; John Huston was also thrown into the mix to add some dialogue.

Note:  The film actually begins thirteen and a half minutes into the link.  The first part of the link gives you the good old movie experience from touting the snack bar to previews -- fun, if that's your thing.


Monday, January 15, 2018


The Simon sisters, Lucy and Carly, with a song from the Robert Burns poem.


A Pulpish Opening:  You may say I'm crazy, but if you look at me you won't laugh while you say it.  You will turn away from me, shutting your eyes tightly, shaking your head in an effort to forget.  It's not that I'm deformed, and my face is not hideous.  But you will see in my eyes some shadow of the things I have seen -- and you will wnt to forget.  -- Wyatt Blassingame, "Song of the Dead" (Dime Mystery Magazine, March 1935)

I've Been Reading:  Books finished this past week:  Edwin Lester Arnold's Lieut. Gullivar Jones:  His Vacation (yes, I did finish it), Charles Osbourne's Spider's Web (a novelization of an Agatha Chrisite play), Donald E. Westlake's Forever and a Death (the James bond that wasn't from Hardcase Crime), Brian Michael Bendis' Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2:  Angela (a graphic novel with the title character created by Neil Gaiman), and Ryan North's The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 1:  Squirrel Power (a graphic novel with my new favorite super heroine).  Currently I'm reading The Beetle Horde by "Victor Rousseau," The very first story to printed in Astounding/Analog, back in January 1930 when the magazine began as Astounding Stories of Super-Science, it's a two-part serial about (are you ready for this?)...giant beetles!

No More Three-Armed Models?:  I see that CVS is doing away with photoshopped or manipulated images on their CVS beauty brands and are placing labels on those from other sources.  A good thing, methinks.  There is a beauty and freshness in reality that is not present in marketing fantasies.

Norwegians Are Staying Put:  Surprisingly, they don't want to move to the United States despite what our president wants.  Going around the internet now is a quote from Bob Phillips:  "I wonder if parents in shithole countries have to tell their idiot kids not to eat Tide laundry pods."

Today Is Martin Luther King Day:  It was not a federal holiday when we first moved down to Virginia from Massachusetts in the 1990s; with true Southern resistance January 15 was designated Lee-Jackson Day. later changed to Lee-Jackson-King Day.  Kind of reminds me of Irish Alzheimer's, where you forget everything but the grudge.

Going to Pieces:  Besides the Rev. Dr. King (and Generals Lee and Jackson), today marks the anniversary of the discovery of the dismembers body of Elizabeth Short in Los Angeles in 1947.  The so-called "Black Dahlia" has never been solved.  The crime has been featured in many novels and stories, including those by James Elroy, John Gregory Dunne, Max Allan Collins, Craig McDonald, and Joyce Carol Oates.  Over 500 persons have confessed to the crime (including some who were not yet born) and various writers and experts have put forward a number of suspects.  John P. St. John, an L.A. detective working the case, is quoted as saying, "It's surprising how many people offer up a relative as the killer."

Speaking Of:  Let's take Professor Peabody's Wayback Machine to last October when Senator Ben Sasse said he had spilled Dr. Pepper on Ted Cruz during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, to which someone tweeted, "If I was sitting next to the son of the guy who killed Kennedy Imight do worse than spill some Dr. Pepper."  To which Sasse tweeted the he was wearing his "Lee Harvey Oswald was framed" t-shirt.  Cruz tried to get into the fun and tweeted a cryptic letter by the Zodiac Killer.  The problem is Cruz has no sense of humor and his trying to prove that he does went over like a lead balloon.  I'd tell Cruz not to give up his day job but that's exactly what I hope he will do. 

#FixTrumpIn5Words:  That's what's trending on Twitter.  Any suggestions/

My Sunny Personality:  It's finally warming up here after a few days of frigid weather.  I say it's my sunny personality, my wife disagrees.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


Tim Ferris is a self-help guru, business consultant, and entrepeneur.  He is the author of the New York Times number 1 bestsellers The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body, as well as the Wall Street Journal number 1 bestseller The 4-Hour Chef.  His books have been both praised and panned; depending on which side you fall on, Ferris is either glib or thoughtful.  Until 2015, he was one of the planet's leading angel investors in technology;sine 2015 he has been concerntrating on his writing and his media projects.

In this TED Talk, Ferris outlines a process he calls "fear-setting," which helps one to survive in high-pressure environments and allows one to specify what one can control and what one cannot.


Marian Anderson.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


So I guess I'm no longer a Yankee.  It's been in the thirties and forties here on the Florida Panhandle with a wind chill factor of WTF.  Although moving around should warm me up, I have preferred to stay huddled up on the sofa, which is why my man post for today was late and why I missed posting yesterday's Music from the Past.  To make up for that, here's a twofer for today.

There may be a theme with these two.

Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban:

The Serendipity Singers:


Gerald G. Swan Ltd. was one of the most successful wartime paperback publishers in England, mainly because he had stockpiled his paper and had an abundant amount during war rationing.   His magazines relied on a few British "talents," most of whom were not very good writers, and U.S. reprints of stories published by Columbia Magazines.  A few of the novels the company published are actively sought out by collectors.  One author in their stable was Elleston Trevor, who went on to write the Quiller thrillers as "Adam Hall;" Trevor wrote a number of school stories for boys and school stories for girls for Swan.  Of the 49 separate comic book titles Swan published in the 40s and 50s (a total of 537 issues), some were reprints of American comics (notably Archie) while others covered the gamut from western to war to superhero to love.

As far as I can tell Swan's Kiddy Fun Album ran for six annual issues, from 1947 to 1955 -- skipping 1947.  Aim at the youngest of comic book readers, each issue had short -- one page or less -- stories of talking animals, fairies, and cute kids, with simple words for the not-quite beginning reader.  Words of two syllables were printed with hyphens to make it easier for readers to sound them out.

Among the many characters are Pip the Pixie, Willie Whiskers, Tiger Ted, Bunny, Monty Mouse, Charlie Chimp, Billy Goat, Pimple the Pup, Tiny Tim, Wizzy the Wizard, Pop Corn, Little Pussy Boy, Jungle Jim, and Gyp the Gnome, ad nauseum.  Some of the more questionable characters include Sambo (a stereotypical Black), Golly (ditto), Snowball (ditto again), Darkie (yet another ditto), various little native boys (the return of ditto), Hee-Hee the Cheery Chinee, Tich an Arab (? or maybe Indian?) boy whose curved pointed shoes seem just a little smaller than those of British music hall comedian Little Tich), Wig and Wam and Little Elk (American Indian boys), and Ben-Ana the Little Hindoo.  Curiously, the Blacks look remarkably like the monkeys drawn in this book.  For some, I assume, the British Empire never shrank.

The stories are not very funny.  Some characters and actions are offensive.  The artwork is so-so.

Interesting for a look at how some British publications view what would entertain young children in the late 40s.

Friday, January 12, 2018


Lieut. Gullivar Jones :  His Vacation (a.p.a. Gulliver [sic] on Mars by Edwin Lester Arnold (1905)

I read so you won't have to.

Actually, this is one of those rare times when I have not finished a Forgotten Book before the review is posted.  I'm a bit more than half-way through and the slogging is tough; I'll finish the book this weekend, but I doubt it will change anything in this post.

Edwin Lester Arnold (1857-1935) was the son of Sir Edwin Arnold (1832-1904), a noted poet and follower of Buddhism in his later life. Edwin Lester Arnold studied agriculture and ornithology; one of his early books was Bird Life in England (1887).  Arnold's first novel, The Wonderful Adventures of Phra the Phoenician (1890) appears to have been well-received.  The same can be said of his next three novels, Rutherford the Twice-Born (1892), Lepidus the Centaurian:  A Romance of Today (1901), and the novel under consideration here.  In fact, the failure of Lieut. Gulliver Jones convinced the author to stop writing fiction altogether.  Arnold also published a collection of short stories, The Story of Ulla and Other Tales (1895), the only book of his that I have previously read -- I was not impressed.

So what is so special about Lieut. Gullivar Jones?  It holds the claim to being (perhaps) the first planetary romance (or "sword and planet" novel).  It almost certainly was a template for Edgar Rice Burroughs'  John Carter/Barsoom.  (It should be noted that Richard Lupoff, who first posited this idea, also felt that John Carter may have also been modeled in part on Arnold's Phra the Phoenician.)  When the novel was published in paperback by Ace Books in 1964 as Gulliver of Mars (note the spelling), the book reached a much wider readership.  In 1972, Marvel Comics transferred Gullivar to the modern day as a Vietnam Veteran as "Gullivar Jones, Warrior of Mars," incorporating some of Arnold's characters.  Later, Alan Moore incorporated Gullivar and John Carter in Volume 2 of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Jean-Marc & Randi Lofficier had Gullivar meet up with Edgar Allan Poe in a 2007 novel, and a Dynamite Entertainment comic had Gullivar's Martian princess become the mother of Burrough's Dejah Thoris.

Gullivar is a naval officer on leave and, while walking down a dark alley one night, he collides into a strange-looking man wrapped in a rug.  The man loses his footing, stumbles, and smashes his head on the ground, killing him.  Gullivar flags down a cab and takes the man to a hospital where he is pronounced dead.  The rug is left in the cab and the driver, not knowing what to do with it, drops it off at Gullivar's temporary address.  Gullivar brings the rug into his rooms, spreads it out, and,while standing upon it, bemoans his dissatisfaction with the city, wishing he were somewhere else, anywhere.  He vocalizes this desire by saying, "I wish I were on Mars."  Rugs are notoriously literal and this one heeds Gulliver's command.  It wraps itself around our hero and flies out of the window, going ever upward until it deposits him on Mars.

Mars is surprisingly Earth-like and its people are human.  They appear to be divided into two classes, one wearing brightly colored robes and the other wearing yellow robes.  The yellow robe people are slaves, but they don't appear to have it to bad.  Few do any work.  All their desires are met and they seem to spend their time lolling about, admiring the scenery, and laughing.  Gullivar first meets a young Martian named An and believes An is a male but is proven wrong.  An takes Gullivar under her wing and into the city.  She is unable to answer any of Gullivar's questions because knowledge seems to be of no matter to the Martian.  Perhaps, she says, Hath (who serves as a type of "king") can answer Gullivar's questions.  There is also a princess, Heru:

"Who am I, a poor quarter-deck loafer, that I should attempt to describe what poet and painter alike would have failed to realize?  I know, of course, your stock descriptives:  the melting eye, the coral lip, the pinky cheek, the raven tress; but these were coined for mortal women -- and this was not one of them.  I will not attempt to describe the glorious tenderness of those eyes she turned on me presently; the glowing radiance of her skin; the infinite grace of every action; the incredible soul-searching grace of her voice, when later on I heard it -- you must gather something of these things as I go -- suffice it to say that when I saw her there for the first time in the plenitude of her beauty, I fell desperately, wildly in love with her."

[From that passage, you may get a glimmering of why I am having trouble with this book.  Usually, though, I revel in books of a certain age.  Not with this one, though.  I've been reading it in spurts for the past three days, having to take time to cleanse my palate with enjoyable books.]


Princess Heru has an annual duty:  to read the future in a large pot.  (Really.)  If the liquid is clear -- and it always is -- the coming year will be a good one.  About ten thousand Martians gather in the square for the ceremony.  Heru looks into the pot...and the liquid is a fiery red!  So we know that something is going to happen.

There is also a communal marriage ceremony, all available women are mated (presumably at random) with the men, including, it seems, Gullivar.  Hours before the ceremony, Gullivar and Heru fall in love with each other.

It also turns out that these Martians have an ancient enemy.  Their was has been over for a very long time, but the enemy sails their ships into the harbor once a year and loads the ship with tribute.  They also take one female of their choice -- the fairest they can find -- with them, never to be seen again.

In another twist, Gullivar finds an abandoned library.  The heavier books are being used as mousetraps.  (Go figure.)  One of the books indicates that describes ancient Egyptian history.  Could the Martians have come from Earth, or could the Earthmen have come from Martians?

Did I mention that the Martians -- or some of them, anyway -- can move things with their minds?  I didn't?  Well, take it from me that they can.

On to the part that I will read this weekend.

From The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction:  "[It tells the story of...his rescue of a princess, his witnessing of the destruction of her domain, their adventures together, and his return to a trustful fiance and a promotion."  His trustful fiance is Nelly, a Southern belle with whom he had hopped to marry at the beginning of the book but who pales in comparison to Heru.  Not the best ending for Gullivar, but he was always a hapless hero anyway.

I can't recommend this book, except to say that your mileage may vary.  The next book I read from the beginning of the last century should be better.

UPDATE:  Rich Horton also chose to review this book today.  Check it out at

Thursday, January 11, 2018


The Supremes.


"Mr. District Attorney, champion of the people, defender of truth, guardian of our fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!"

The nameless district attorney of radio fame was played by Jay Jostyn during most of the run of the show, from 1940 to 1952.  During 1939, during the show's first year the character was played by first, Dwight Weist, then by Raymond Edward Johnson; David Brian played the character in transcribed syndication from mid-1952 through 1953.  The crusading D.A. did not have a name until the show became televised -- Paul Garrett; the name was then used during David Brian's run with the series.

Mr. District Attorney (or, "Chief," as he was sometimes called) had a faithful secretary in Edith Miller (played by Vicki Vola) and a chief investigator, Len Harrington (played by Len Doyle from 1940 onward).

The show was inspired by the early career of Thomas E. Dewey.

"The Case of the Deadly Snowflake" aired on May 26, 1948.


BONUS:   Can you guess how Mr. District Attorney solved the case of the COP KILLER?

From Radio-TV Mirror, February 1952, a two-page photo-spread!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Here's an early Gary Cooper western from the novel by Zane Grey, a tale of wagon trains, fighting Indians, and duplicitous traders.  Coop stars as a frontier scout who must navigate between the beautiful Lili Damita and the above mentioned perils.  Also featuring Ernest Torrence, Tully Marshall, Fred Kohler, and the always watchable Eugene Pallette, Fighting Caravans was directed by Otto Brower and David Burton, with a screenplay by Edward E. Paramore, Jr., Keene Thompson, and Agnes Brand Leahy.

As the original poster for this film puts it, "Writing, in flames and blood, the vivid history of those epic days."


Monday, January 8, 2018


Connie Francis.


A Sentence I Liked:  "It was widely known in the Caxton that to ask David Copperfield even the simplest of questions required one to set a good portion of one's day to listen to the answer."  -- John Connolly, "Holmes on the Range"

Speaking Of:  Sherlock Holmes turned 164 this past week.  He has not had any cases for quite a while; he's retired in Suffolk, minding his own bees-ness

Books Read This Week:  Will F. Jenkins, Dallas (a 1950 Gray Cooper western tie-in), John Connolly, Night Music:  Nocturnes, Volume 2 (his second collection of short stories, mainly supernatural), and Brian Michael Bendis, Guardians of the Galaxy:  New Guards, Volume 2: Wanted and Guardians of the Galaxy:  New Guards, Volume 3:  Civil War II (both comic book compilations, and when did Ben Grimm become a Guardian anyway?  **sigh** Gone are the days -- the 60s and 70s -- when I kept up with the Marvel Universe).  I'm currently reading Donald E. Westlake's Forever and a Death, the James Bond that never was, a book cannibalized from a James Bond movie treatment that Westlake wrote in the late 90s.  No Bond here, but an interesting plot about a wealthy and amoral businessman who is planning to destroy Hong Kong.  In a bit of prescience. at times the villain reminds me of Donald Trump, except the villain is smart.

On This Day:  In 1297, Francois Grimaldi, disquised as a Franciscan monk, captured, with his men, the fortress at the Rock of Monaco, holding it for four years before being driven out.  It was up to his cousin and step-son  (families were a lot more intimate in those days, I guess) Ranier I, to establish the bloodline that would rule Monaco, with a few interuptions, to this day.  The Grimaldi family purchased the tiny principality from the Crown of Aragon, cementing their claim.

It's also the birthday of Wilkie Collins, born 1824, author of The Moonstone and The Woman in White, two early mystery novels well worth reading today.  And William Hartnell, the first Doctor Who, was born today in 1908.  And Elvis wiggled his way onto this mortal stage in 1935.  You may want to have a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich in his honor.

And on this date, Terry-Thomas (in 1990) and Pat Buttram (in 1994) shuffled off this mortal coil, taking their wonderful senses of humor with them.

The Golden Globes Were Presented Last Night:  The awards are given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a very small group of critics -- some of whom have written only a few reviews.  How then, are the Golden Globes more often an indicator of  good shows than the Oscars and the Emmys?  Just look over a list of Oscar-winning best films and count how many times you say, "Huh?"

News You Don't Have To Use:  An electrical fire on the roof of the Trump Tower was quickly extinquished by the New York City Fire Department.  Damage was slight and no one was evacuated.  The president and his family were not in residence.  UPDATE:  Two people have been reported injured -- a firefighter treated for minor injuries when debris fell on him and an engineer who and an engineer who refused medical treatment.

In Thailand, an American tourist overdosed on Viagra and went naked through the airport, yelling incoherently and throwing feces.  Airlines are now considering adding a new "feces fee."

Jake Tapper abruptly cut off an interview with White House spokesman Stephen Miller, saying, "You've wasted enough of my viewers' time."   The president used this an excuse to blast tapper for his treatment of Miller, a pugnacious know-nothing.

It's Warming Up:  A week of temperatures in the 30s and snow in parts of Florida, it's beginning to warm up here on the Florida Panhandle.  It's raining this morning, but I can live with that.

And How Was Your Week?

Sunday, January 7, 2018


I can't think of anything scarier.

Here's Megan Phelps-Roper, granddaughter of Fred Phelps.  She and her sister left the church in 2012.  Her family remaining in the church have cut all ties with her.

Her TED talk is from February 2017.


Ray Charles & Johnny Cash.

Saturday, January 6, 2018


The Beach Boys.

FLIP #1 (APRIL 1954)

With the success of MAD, the mid-Fifties spawn a trove of imitating comic books:  Crazy, Madhouse, Bughouse, Eh!, Nuts, Get Lost, Wild, Panic, Riot, Whack...and probably others.  By some accounts the second-best of these parody comic books was the short-lived Flip, published by Harvey Comics.

The talents behind the first issue of FLIP were Howard Norstrand and Bob Powell.  Norstrand began as an apprentice to Powell six years before.   For Flip #1, Norstrand did two stories and Powell did three, but Norstrand's flair for parody soon put him charge of the entire comic book.  Unfortunately, the creation of the Comics Code Authority in September 1954 caused Harvey Comics to put the kibosh on their humor and horror comics and basically ended Norstrand's career in the medium.  Norstrand came back in 1959 with a noted run doing the Bat Masterton comic strip based on the popular television series.  He later did some highly regard work for National Lampoon.

In this issue we have such gems as "Puncho Villa" and "V...for Wampire" by Norstrand and  "Alladin's Lamp-oon," "For the Love of Mike," and the one-page "Phony Crime" by Powell.  Also included in this scan is the original black-and-white artwork and a bonus story, "Vas You Dere?," revealiong (perhaps) the true story of Christopher Columbus.


Friday, January 5, 2018


Jethro Tull.


Dallas by Will F. Jenkins (1950)

"He had nothing left but for the Confederacy and his family, and both were dead,but they'd left him a legacy of vengeance to be satisfied."  (page 95)

Jenkins is better known under his pseudonym "Murray Leinster" as a prolific and popular writer of science fiction, but his actual range was far broader.  His books and stories range from science fiction to westerns, mysteries, adventure, historicals, and romances -- everything except (perhaps) sports.  Leinster was one of the few who easily traveled back an forth between the pulps and the slicks.

Dallas, one of two original westerns he wrote for Gold Medal paperbacks, was his first tie-in novel, sticking pretty closely to the 1950 Warner Brothers film starring Gary Cooper, Ruth Roman, Steve Cochran, Raymond Massey, and Leif Erickson.  (Jenkins would go on to write six more tie-ins, all science fiction, all based on television shows, and all as by "Leinster.")

Blayde Hollister, a 22-year-old colonel in the Fifth Georgia Cavalry, refused to surrender his troops to Union soldiers at the end of the Civil War; instead, he formally disbanded his regiment and began his trak home to his family's farm in Valdosta, Georgia (also the home town of Doc Holliday, not that that has anything to do with the plot).  But there was no home to go back to.  A gang of marauders had struck, leaving he farm a burnt-out hulk, his parents were murdered, and his sister kidnapped and shot the next day.  Hollister's home had been taken for taxes and divided up in twenty-acre plots for freed slaves.

The gang that destroyed Hollister's home and family were led by the Marlow brothers -- William, Cullen, and Bryant (their mother was fond of the noted poet).  They had moved on, spreading a path of destruction and death. until the gang had been cornered, but the three brothers managed to escape and to reform their gangs.  Hollister, now a wanted man himself, vows to track down the trio and kill them.

As his search leads him throughout the South, his reputation grows.  Now dubbed "Reb" Hollister by the law, there are wanted posters of him spread across the defeated Confederate states.  Hollister places his own poster -- offering $5000 for information where to find the Marlows -- next to the federal posters about him.  His search leads to other gangs led by brothers, the James gang and the Younger gang, but to no avail.  In Springfield, Missouri, he is befriended by Wild Bill Hickok.  Hickok is about to give up his career as a Marshal for the bright lights and big money of performing in a show back east.  The two arrange a fake gunfight in which Hollister would be "killed," leaving the young rebel free to continue pursuing the Marlows without being wanted by the law.  Their plans go somewhat awry with the arrival of Marshal Martin Weatherby, on his way to assume a post in Dallas.  Weatherby is a motivated but inexperienced lawman and tries to arrest Hollister.  It doesn't work out; Hollister holds Weatherby captive until Hickok leaves town.

Weatherby comes from a rich and influential family from Boston, where he had met and fallen in love with a visiting Antonia (Tonia, in the movie) Robles, who is from an equally rich and influential family from Dallas.  The two becomes engaged.   Weatherby is to travel to Dallas to meet Antonia's family and to explore a lucrative business potential.  His father manages to get him named a federal marshal in order to raise his status in Dallas.  Weatherby's deputy marshal. who would end up doing all the work, was to be Hickok.  Weatherby also tells Hollister that the Marlow brothers are in Dallas and are continuing their reign of terror. 

Hollister and Weatherby travel to Dallas.  Weatherby, realizing how inept he is as a lawman, agrees to have Hollister impersonate him, while Weatherby will pretend to be the deputy -- at least until Hollister manages to complete his vengeance.  The only person to know of this deception is Antonia, who slowly falls in love with Hollister.

In essence, this is a stereotypical western.  A lone man against impossible odds.  A love triangle doomed from the start.  A town terrorized by a ruthless gang.  Bushwacks and gunfights, land grabs and murder. 

The original film is entertaining enough, but is nothing special except to Gary Cooper fans.  Jenkins' novelization takes a minor film and pads it with historical detail, at times leaving on to wonder when the action will start.  In true Jenkins/Leinster style, he never lets the reader forget the major conflicts in the plot, revisiting them often in matter-of-fact narration.  This, however, is not a drawback.  The author is a pro and knows exactly what he is doing.  Despite an average plot, Dallas is a fast, entertaining read and compares well with much of the author's journeyman work but never reaches the heights of his best work.

Thursday, January 4, 2018


Today my brother takes one further step toward decrepitude.

Although he is far less handsome, far less talented, and far less macho than I am, I have never tried to rub it in, poor sod.

There has always been a mystery surrounding his birth.  Growing up, I would hear vague stories about an isolated laboratory, a lightning storm, some sort of a hunchback (presumably the nurse), and some nonsense about stolen body parts.  When he first began school, my parents would attach a note to his jacket:  "My name is Kenny.  If I am lost, don't bother."  His high school yearbook notes that he was "voted most likely to be a pod person."

After high school, he attended M.I.T. and became officially smart.  He knows math, computers, and how to play the guitar.  When he sings, the neighbors seldom complain.  He was lucky enough to marry the wonderful Carmen.  They have two beautiful daughters of whom anyone would be proud, the lovely Lizzie and the equally lovely Julie.  For some reason, he likes banjo jokes and is fixated on goats.  At a restaurant, he always checks the dessert menu first so he'll know how much food to order.  He is a firm believer in at least one pie per person at mealtimes.

Overall, he is a pretty good guy and I have no problem bragging that he is my brother.

I hope he has a fantastic day and a fantastic year.  He deserves it.


Frankie Lymon.


A long time ago (about three weeks after the wheel had been invented) I went to college.  Several thing saved my sanity then:  a lot of beer, late night horror movies, and...Chickenman.

Chickenman a short (about two-and-a half minute) radio program created by Dick Orkin for Chicago radio station WCFL in 1966.  It soon went syndicated and wormed its fowl way into the hearts of many fans like myself.

Who is Chickenman?  He's Benton Harbor, the world's newest costumed hero, who became chickenman because that was the only costume left at the costume store.  The question remains:  is he more underappreciated than inept, or is he more inept than underappreciated?  In any event, Chickenman is the bane of Midland city's Police Commissioner Benjamin Norton and his beleaguered secretary, Miss Helfinger. This bumbling, albeit feathered hero, patrols Midland City in his yellow crime-fighting car, the Chicken Coupe.  He accesses the Chicken Cave through a trapdoor in his bedroom closet.

IMHO, the Chickenman series is pure genius.  My wife disagrees and can't stand the show, "It's dumb!"

I believe episode of Chickenman are still being rebroadcast somewhere.  I hope so.

Orkin passed away the day before Christmas, aged 84.  In tribute to him, I am posting the complete recording of a 1966 album, The Best of Chickenman.

Enjoy the adventures of a mild-mannered department store shoe salesman cum costumed hero.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


That history teacher...from Freddy "Boom-Boom" Cannon.


A teacher asked her class who had a favorite letter.

One boy raised his hand, "I do.  It's G."

The teacher then asked him, "And why is that, Angus?"

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


LaVern Baker and the Gliders.


From Four-Star Playhouse for September 30, 1954, comes a terrifying tale of a psychologist who learns that a patient that he has committed to a mental institution has escaped.  The escapee has previously tried to kill the psychologist's wife.  Meanwhile, at home, his young daughter begins talking about a friend who lives in the cellar.  Of course, it's an imaginary friend, isn't it?

Charles Boyer, Fay Baker, Beverly Washburn, Mae Clarke, and John Doucette are featured in a sorty scripted by Gwen Bagni from a story by Marc Brandel.  Bagni wrote eighteen episodes of Four-Star Playhouse, as well as episodes in some thirty-five television shows and a number of films, including With Six You Get Eggroll.  Robert Florey (The Beast with Five Fingers, God Is My Co-Pilot, Meet Boston Blackie) directed.

Despite the fact that Boyer and Baker utilize an "idiot plot" (that's one in which the plot moves forward because the characters are idiots), this is an effective and taut episode.


Monday, January 1, 2018




Welcome to 2018!

Last July, I made a solemn vow to lose a significant amount of weight.  Today, I'm ashamed to admit that not only did I not lose the weight, but I'm up a couple of pounds.  That should indicate how well I've done with New Year's resolutions in the past.  So, instead of resolutions per se, this year I will make some directions.  That is, I will look to a place where I want to be and not worry how I'll get there or even if I'll get there.

I have been doing this blog for a number of years now and I'm pretty happy with it,especially with the online friends I have made over the years who have added so much to my life.  I write it for my own amusement and am pleased with its modest reception.  I cover much of the things that I like and have fallen into a pleasing pattern.  On Sundays, I post Hymn Time not because I am overtly religious, because I like the music -- especially Southern Black gospel and bluegrass.  Sundays also are for a general post on a subject that interests me -- lately it has been TED or STEM talks.  The remaining six days of the week, I post a song from the past; again, it is music I like, especially rock and roll from the 50s and 60s and folk music.  

Mondays have been reserved for Incoming, I list of books I have bought over the previous week, sometimes with comments on the books or the authors.  Lately, the Incoming posts have been brief because I am not buying as many books as before.  Gone are the days where I will list several dozen or a hundred books each week.  I just can't afford to buy as many books as I once did.  For many of my working years, I was disabled; that is, until I turned 65 when Social Security informed that I was no longer disabled but was retired.  Long story short, I live basically on Social Security, which gave us a 2% increase for 2018 while upping the cost of Medicare and Drug coverage to the point where we are getting less in 2018 than we did in 2017 -- not a major loss, but a significant one.  We will be fine, I think.  We own both the house and the car, neither Kit nor I smoke or drink, and our expenses are low, but we will have to curtail some things, such as my book buying.  Long story short, Incoming is going on hiatus.  There may be an occasional Incoming round-up, but it will not be a regular feature on the blog.

(Let me note just on final Incoming, though, the last [and only] book I bought this past week: a 2010 western anthology edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Russell Davis, Ghost Towns, with fifteen stories [fourteen original] by some of the best writers in the field.)

I'm not sure what will replace Incoming.  Perhaps a listing of the books I have read over the past week (something that I had reserved for the Monday comment section on Rick Robinson's blog Tip the Wink, which is currently on hiatus).  Perhaps a rant --- political or otherwise; with the advent of Trump, I find myself veering into political rants more and more, but I fear that for many of you, this would just be preaching to the choir.  Mondays also are when Patti Abbott usually posts her "Things That Make Me Happy" and I have been listing some of the things that made me happy over the past week in her comments section.  I find this to a great help in centering myself (thank you, Patti) and some version of that may fit in on my Monday blog.

Everything else will probably remain the same.  Tuesdays are for Todd Mason's Overlooked Film, Television, and or A/V meme.  Here I try to provide a link to whatever item I am posting.  Wednesdays are reserved for Bad Jokes.  It's difficult sometimes to come across a bad joke that isn't a) familiar, or b) overly sexist, racially insensitive, or truly offensive in some way.  I prefer just plain, dumb jokes.  Thursdays are for linking to an old-time radio show.  I loved Ed Walker's The Big Broadcast on WAMU radio when I was living in the D.C. area and I hope my coverage of these shows provide some amusement and interest in those great days of yore.  On Fridays I participate in Patti Abbott's Forgotten Books, one of my great delights of the week.  I also love checking out what other bloggers have contributed to this project; I have discovered a lot of great writers and great books through Patti's Forgotten Books.  Finally, Saturdays are devoted to old comic books, some amazing and some just plain silly.  Throughout the week I might just add a random post about something that interests me.

Kitty has been after me to add pictures, a blog roll, and other things to Jerry's House of Everything.  That may come, but I am such a technological Luddite that I am amazed that I can even produce a rudimentary blog.

I have felt a lot of outrage this past year, but it has all been directed at the national and global scenes where it appears basic human dignity is under assault.  Personally, it has been a very good year, despite a few ups and downs.  My entire family is healthy and doing well and 2018 is looking to continue that trend.  Several of my friends, both online and off, are facing serious challenges and my thoughts are with them.  One of my friends just posted what her word for 2018 is:  "resolution,"  not in the sense of New year's resolution but in the sense of being resolute.  I guess my word(s) for 2018 will be "muddle through." I am looking forward to muddling though this new year and seeing what wonders it  holds for me.

May 2018 hold many wonders for you.

(By the way, my 2017 count for books read is 253.)