Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


This one seems to fit in with today's overlooked television show, below.

Here's The New Vaudeville Band:


Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, P.G. Wodehouse...what a combo!

The British comedy series ran from 1990 to 1993 -- four seasons, 23 episodes of pure delight.

Here's the first episode, "Jeeves Takes Charge," also known as "In Court After the Boat Race," which aired on April 22, 1990.


Monday, February 26, 2018


The Lovin' Spoonful.


Now That's Pulp:  Blurbs to stories in the February 1945 issue of Strange Detective Stories:

  • The Japs had Steve Pulos and Matt Mercer's left arm when -- six thousand miles from the South Pacific -- three more of the little yellow men threatened to take Matt's kids if he didn't fork over the missing piece of rice paper which would bring terror and wholesale slaughter to half a million Yankee fighting men -- and cold, deadly terror to our biggest war producing center...  (Day Keene, "So Sorry You Die Now!")
  • "My wife," I told the detective, "is asleep.  She's nervously worn out...."  But only that thin door stood between him and the dead body of the girl I once had loved....  The same fragile barrier that was keeping me from that last grim walk to the electric chair....  (Cyril Plunkett, "Deathwatch")
  • Instead of his girl and his best friend meeting Nick at the station, he found a hackie who took him for a murder-ride and threw in the cab and the corpse free...with no questions answered!  (Ken Lewis, "Homecoming in Hell!")
  • Uncle Caleb collected antiques -- strange ornaments, vases, candelabra and oddities of mystic meaning -- but before the night was out he had a record collection of corpses on his hands.  (Larry Sternig & W. Fredric Kruger, "The Fatal Flower")
  • Lollie and Beau were two kids the world had forgotten -- thrown together by Big Jumbo....  But when the cops found Jumbo looking like one of his own hamburgers, it took them no time at all to remember Beau -- an Beau remembered nothing!  (Robert Turner, "Coffins for Two")
  • Gladly would those three men and the woman have traded their stolen fifty thousand dollars for a glimpse of civilization....  But the lonely, remote hill night was filled with strange noises that whispered, over and over again, "Murderers....will die before dawn!"  (Talmage Powell, "Kill Once -- Kill Twice!")
  • Stranded and alone, Mike and Diane looked upon Pa Grubb as a good Samaritan when he offered to take them home with him for food and bed....  But they found, too late, that the price for accommodations at that remote farmhouse was payable in blood and terror!  (Steve Herrick, "Bargain in Bones")
I've Been Reading:  This week I finished Michael Fairless's collection The Roadmender, a strange blend of Christian and nature writing and my FFB this week.  I also went on an Edgar Rice Burroughs kick, reading three minor books by him -- The Efficiency Expert (a mainstream romance-detective novel that took place in Coincidence City), The Scientists Revolt! (a 1939 SF novella that was revised by magazine editor Ray Palmer [uncredited] and eventual release in book form in 2013; no great shakes), and Official Guide of the Tarzan Clans of America (a once rare pamphlet that is now available to read on the internet; interesting in a gosh-shucks, gee-whiz way).  Although Neil Gaiman is credited as the author of the graphic novel How To Talk To Girls at Parties, the adaptation of Gaiman's story was done by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba, who did appear to veer too far from Gaiman's original concept.  And finally, I've been catching up with Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples' Saga graphic novels, having polished off Volumes Four through Seven this week; this series deserves all the accolades it has received.  I'm currently reading F. Paul Wilson's Panacea (part of his Secret History of the World cycle; the sequel, The God Gene, is in the chute for next week) and Sarah Pinborough's psychological thriller Behind Her Eyes -- one book is by the sofa and the other is by the bed and I'm too damn lazy to carry a book from one room to the other, so I'm switching back and forth.

Conspiracy Theorists:  David Hogg, an outspoken seventeen-year-old survivor of Florida's Parkland shooting, has been targeted as a "crisis actor" and worse by conspiracy theorists.  It has reached the point where his family has been getting death threats.  He realizes that all the wacko theories floating out there are actually aiding him in getting his message out there.  As for the wackos themselves?  "I feel for those people, honestly.  They've lost faith in America.  But we certainly haven't.  And that's OK, because we're going to outlive them."

Smart Marketing:  The San Diego Girl Scout Council is investigating a scout photographed selling Girl Scout cookies in from of a marijuana dispensary.  Evidently, selling in a "commercial area" is not allowed although we've all seen these young ladies hawking cookies at shopping centers.  The business in question, Urdn Leaf, posted the picture on its Instagram account, inviting customers to stop by and buy some cookies.  I wonder how many boxes she sold.

Happy Valentine's Day:  A Texas woman was arrested for theft at a Corsicana grocery store.  In an effort to hide the drugs hidden in her underwear, the woman defecated on her stash, which consisted of 2.3 graams of crack cocaine, a crack pipe, and a Valentine's Day card, because nothing says love like pooping on a card for your beau.

Of Course:  They should arm teachers.  How can they write on the blackboard is they don't have arms?  (I'm dating myself.  Do they even have blackboards anymore?)  On the other hand, the thought of my high school English teacher, Helen Poland, packing a gun terrifies me.

And Not a Drop to Drink...:  Miami is one of eleven major cities that would most likely run out of potable water according to UN-endorsed predictions.  Of the 500 largest cities in the world, fully one-fourth of them have what is termed "water stress."   In Miami's case it is because salt water from the Atlantic continually invades the city's main aquifer.  The remaining ten cities on the list are (in no particular order) London, Tokyo, Cape Town, Sao Paulo, Beijing, Mexico City, Moscow, Istanbul, Cairo, and Bangalore.

Round Trip:  On this day in 1616, Galileo Galilei was formally banned by the Church from teaching or defending the idea that the Earth rotated around the sun.  Truth is a hard-won thing.

Happy Birthday!:  Buffalo Bill Cody, were he still alive, would be 172 years old today.  Here's a song about him:

Gas:  There are three "cheap" gas stations near me.  Each station seems to follow the pricing of the others.  Last week, one of them jumped up five cents in a twenty-minute period.  Another recently jumped up ten cents.  The prices always waver but seem to rise faster than they decline.  As a mere mortal, I cannot figure out the logic behind these daily spurts and starts.  I understand it is supposed to be tied to fluctuations in supply and cost from the sources, but really?  I'm leery.

Sunday, February 25, 2018


A few words from the creator of Travis McGee and the author of The Damned, Murder in the Wind, The Executioners, and so many others.


Jim Reeves.

Saturday, February 24, 2018


We've lost another one.  RIP, Nanette Fabray.

From the 1953 film The Band Wagon:


Cartoonist Clifford McBride (1901-1951) used his uncle, former lumberjack Henry Elbe Eastman, as the prototype for Elby, a character who sometimes appeared in his early comic strips.  From there it was a simple step to include his uncle's dog, Napoleon.  The dog got his own daily comic strip, Napoleon in 1932.  McBride added a Sunday strip (signing it as Clifford M'Bride) in 1933 and in 1934 the title was changed to Napoleon and Uncle Elby.  The comic strip, once carried in over 80 newspapers, lasted for 29 years, ending in 1961.

Uncle Elby was an overweight, natty-dressing bachelor.  Napoleon was maybe an Irish wolfhound...or maybe not.  A big, playful, kindly but clumsy animal who was often oblivious to the consequences of his actions, Napoleon was a good companion to Elby, who had a lot of patience when it came to his pet.  Elby lived alone with Napoleon and (sometimes) other dogs.although young nephew Willie bolstered the cast.  There were also a lot of puppies and a panda who keep Napoleon company and several goats for Willie to play with.

McBride's artwork was clean but detailed where it needed to be.  He was able to have Napoleon's facial expressions display a wide range of emotions -- see the January 26 strip for a good example.  His humor was quiet and often centered on the unpredictability of his star canine; it was the gentle type of humor that is often seen in some of today's comic strips like Mutts.

Here are the 234 dailies from 1948.  I think you will get a kick out of them.

Friday, February 23, 2018


RIP, Barbara Alston, legendary singer for The Crystals.


The Roadmender by "Michael Fairless" (Margaret Barber) (1902)

Margaret Barber (`1869-1901) was an English woman whose health began to fail in the early 1880s when she came down with a spinal condition.  In 1884 she went to London to train as a nurse and did charitable work in that city.  As her health deteriorated, she began to lose her sight and was soon in continual need of care.  Luckily a wealthy family took her in and cared for her.  No longer able to do charitable work, she began to write religious fiction, adopting the pseudonym "Michael Fairless."  Her first novel, The Gathering of Brother Hilarius, was published the same year she met her early death.  Her second book, The Roadmender, which was basically a book of meditations, was an instant success; it was reprinted 31 times over its first ten years.

The Roadmender is sectioned into three parts (or stories, if you will).  In the first eponymous section we meet The Roadmender, a poor man in his forties who spends his days by the side of the road near a hedge hammering stones to be used for repairing roads.  He also uses this time to notice and take joy in the things around him.  The birds, small animals, and insects are his "little brothers."  He glories in the wind and the trees, the soft green grass and the mysterious movements of the sea.  Occasionally he sees people travel the quiet road:  a woman chasing a chicken that wants a safe place to lay her eggs; Old Gem, the wagon driver who brings sacks of flour from the mill and who refuses to use a whip in his horses; a seventy-year-old grandmother left to raise her four-year-old grandson; an eighty-four-year-old man walking to the workhouse after his son (who is expecting another child) and can no longer afford to keep the old man; a couple hauling a man's father back from the workhouse in a coffin to be reunited with his dead wife; a preacher who feels a roadmender's work is demeaning...

There is no plot here, just quiet observations couched in a Christian framework.  I'm not much for organized religion, but the author strikes a chord in me with her love and fascination with nature and with her anti-materialist philosophy.

The second section, "Out of the Shadow," our narrator is no longer a roadmender, and now spends his time observing the city, the river, and the sea.  His observations remain interesting but are tinged with a heavily Christian message and the idea that death is nothing to be feared but, in many cases, to be welcomed.  The text in this section is more opaque and ethereal.  The narrator's reminisces of people and events now turn to a moral bent with a far more involved spirituality,  More and more, the gifts of nature are likened (and surpassed) by eternal mysteries.

The final section is titled "At the White Gate."  The roadmender has now come home to die and spends much of his time in a beautiful garden near his beloved road.  He thinks back on his life to when he and a few others helped a local farmer to reap a ten-acre field of ripe grass by hand.  On the third day they were joined by the women who came to harvest the grass.  Among them was one woman who was shunned because she had a child out of wedlock.  (Interestingly, the community saw nothing wrong if a woman gave birth just a month after marriage.)  The shunned woman loved her child and drew happiness from him, but this particular story seems to go nowhere and is followed by some confusion ruminations on faith and God.  This is then followed by a few more memories and some loving descriptions of nature.  Although this section -- and, indeed, the whole book -- can almost read as a paean to pantheism, it is firmly rooted in modern Christianity but without glossing over some of its flaws.

So what to think of The Roadmender?  I decided to read the book because it was listed in Donald H. Tuck's The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, although with no indication of its content.  There is little, if any SF&F here.  It's a book heavily invested in the wonders of this world and in the quiet acceptance of the next.  In linking the two there is a mawkish sentiment, abetted by some confusing passages and (to me) some incomprehensible writing.  This is a book you slog through.  As I consider the author's brief and tortured life with the threat of death her constant companion, I can clearly see where her gentle acceptance arises.  Que sera, sera.

One final note.  The edition I read was the expanded edition, first published in 1926, with additional material, namely "Toutseil" (an unfinished -- and promising -- story about a deal with a supernatural creature) and extracts from a series of letters the author wrote from May through October, 1900 (also interesting).

Thursday, February 22, 2018


People react to bad moods in different ways.  One person I went to school with, Chris, would go into the men's room at a bar, rip the urinal off the wall, causing a flood, and then would sit at a table drinking flaming shots and glaring at everyone in the bar.  You could say this was an extreme case.

Since the shooting in Parkland last week, I have not been in the greatest of moods.  The response from the right and the NRA tools could darken the mood of even the most positive of persons.  These days, I respond by posting articles that offer solutions on Facebook and on other media and by calling BS on the outlandish conspiracy theories that have (inevitably) been popping up.  Back in my college days, however, I responded differently.  (No, not by ripping out urinals.)  I had a record album, Clark Kessinger, Old Time Fiddler, and I would crank that thing up full volume with my dorm window opened wide.  Nothing shares your dark mood like blasting out "Turkey in the Straw" as loud as possible to passing college students:

Kessinger was a great musician and in happier moods I would enjoy his fiddling at a decent decibel level.  Take a listen to this Folkways album from 1966:

You may wonder what music I blasted out of my dorm window when I was in a good mood.  The answer is obvious:

and this:

Do have special music for special moods?


Some weeks you just need to laugh.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


The Kinks, one of the reasons that made the Sixties so great.


What's the difference between a chickpea and a potato?

Trump won't pay to have a potato on the bed.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Happy birthday to singer-songwriter and social activist Buffy Sainte-Marie!


German director Robert Weine followed up his The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari with this expressionistic film which some feel to be the red-headed step-child of Caligari.  It's the story of a seductive woman named Genuine (Fern Andra) who is the non-blood sucking vampire of the title.  Genuine ends up in a slave market where she is purchased by an old man who keeps her in a cellar.  She vamps and seduces young men until one of them rouses the townspeople against her.

Sounds silly, doesn't it?

Wrapped in a glorious set design that harkens back to Caligari, this confusing and condensed public domain version of the film has few admirers.  It is of historic importance, however, and many of the technical aspects of the film are superb.

Also featured in the film are Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, Ernst Gronau, Harold Paulson, Albert Bennefeld, John Gottowt, and Louis Brody.

Carl Meyer, wrote also wrote Caligari for Weine, penned this one. 

A few words about Fern Andra.  The Illinois-born Andra began her career at four, when she performed a tightrope act.  After touring the U.S. and Europe, she settled in Germany to become one of the most popular actresses in German silent cinema. As World War I began, some considered her an allied spy because of her birth; to disprove this notion she married a titled Prussian who died in the war shortly after.  And she really was an allied spy during the war.  She went on to marry three other men, one of them twice.  She survived a plane crash which killed her director and the pilot, Lother von Trichthofen (the brother of Red Baron von Richthofen).  For her role in Genuine, artist Cesar Klein created a "costume" of full body paint for Andra.  From 1928 on she worked in the UK and the United States, expanding her repertoire to radio and television.  She died in 1974 in Aiken, south Carolina, at age 80.

I'm not sure if you will enjoy this, but give it a try.  It's less than 45 minutes.

Monday, February 19, 2018


The Chords.


Openers:  Even when I woke up in the taxi, throat parched, eyes bleary, and found Sam Richard's corpse in the seat behind me, I couldn't believe it was real.  It was just a dream -- vague, half-remembered, even with the evidence of my own guilt staring me in the face.  -- Ken Lewis, "Honeymoon in Hell!" (Dime Mystery Magazine, January 1945)

I've Been Reading:  A Digit of the Moon, an oriental fantasy by F. W. Bain from 1899; The Bloody Spur, the third Caleb York western from Mickey Spillane and Max Allen Collins, engaging, but with a bit slower pace than the previous two books; The Grave's a Fine and Private Place, Alan Bradley's latest book about Flavia de Luce, the eleven-year-old (although she's probably twelve or thirteen by now) detective and expert on poisons; Stop the Presses!, the eleventh of twelve (so far) continuation of the adventure of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin by Robert Goldsborough, a decent read but somehow lacking Rex Stout's deft touch; Brother Men:  The Correspondence of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Herbert T. Weston, edited by Weston's great-grandson Matt Cohen and provides an interesting, albeit limited, look at both men who had been friends since their military school days; and Brian K. Vaughan's Saga, Volume Two and Volume Three, graphic novels from the award-winning series drawn by Fiona Staples.

The Kids Are Angry:  And that's a good sign.  Following the slaughter of seventeen students and teachers at the Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School, student survivors immediately called out our weak-kneed politicians and the NRA, demanding responsible gun control.  Their outrage has been picked up by students throughout the country, demanding change.  Five years ago, at Sandy Hook, twenty kids aged six and seven, as well as six adults, were murdered.  The kids who survived were not old enough to express their rage, only their hurt and confusion; their parents have done a remarkable job in fighting the madness, but they are adults -- which limits them.  The Stoneham Douglas kids are old enough to know what should be (and what should have been) done and are young enough to believe it can be done.  That is the rage that we need.  That is the rage that is infectious.  I look back at the Fifties and Sixties with the civil rights and anti-war movements and I see the seeds of another great movement now.  One Florida Republican, a former member of Congress, has supported voting out all Republicans so that the nation can move forward with sensible gun control.  The standard pro-gun comment whenever there is a mass shooting of now is not the time to politicize about gun control will no longer wash.  Ohio governor John Kasick, perhaps eyeing another presidential run and seeing which way the wind blows, has deleted the pro-gun section from his website.  And as for the men hiding behind the it's-not-a-gun-issue-it's-a-mental-health-issue curtain, I just look to something I saw on the internet this week:  "Isn't it strange how mental illness hardly massacres anyone in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom?"  (I'm even willing to excuse the lack of an Oxford comma.)  The kids are calling for school strikes, walk-outs, and marches to help get their message across.  Yep, the kids are angry and rightly so.  I, for one, am glad.

The Black Panther:  Outperformed expectations.  Whose expectations?  Not mine.  Not those of anyone I know.  Methinks the industry analysts who had lower expectations knew not of what they spoke.

On This Day:  The Supreme Privy Council was was established in Russia (1726).  I looked it up and it is definitely not what I thought it was.  And in 1913, Pedro Lascurain became President of Mexico.  His term lasted all of 45 minutes.  We should be so lucky.

Speaking of Presidents:  It's their day.  No presidents were born in my hometown of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, but the father of one was.  The story goes that the father of Franklin Pierce was 14 when the Battles of Lexington and Concord were fought.  The young boy grabbed his rifle, said, "Ma, I hear the shots," and set off for the fray.  Lexington and Concord are three and two towns over from Chelmsford and Pierce's home was in the part of Chelmsford that was later ceded to Lowell so, in effect, young master Pierce was four and three towns away from the fighting.  How could he hear the rifle fire?  Could this particular story be apocryphal?

Speaking of Apocryphal:  Chelmsford had another Revolutionary War hero.  His name escapes me and I can't be bothered to look it up, but this guy claimed to be the man who fired the first shot at Bunker Hill and to my knowledge his claim has never been denied.  He evidently would repeat his claim at local taverns, which makes be wonder if he was blitzed when he pulled the trigger at Bunker Hill.  Don't fire until you see the double of the whites of their eyes!

Happy 75th, Lou Christie:

Poor Fashion Judgement:  You can also file this under EW!  28-year-old model turned fashion blogger Tracy Kiss has used her private parts to create designer jewelry.  I will not go into detail except to note that glitter was also used.  You can read about it here:

And how was your week?

Sunday, February 18, 2018


A greatly missed and powerful writer...

Not one of Charlie Rose's best interviews, but Octavia Butler shines!

Part One of the interview:

And Part Two:


Sister Rosetta Tharpe & Otis Spann.

Saturday, February 17, 2018


Jackie DeShannon.


First off, I had never heard of Cynthia Doyle until I read this comic book but I was interested in this woman who has been in love for 71 (!) issues.  Does this mean she has been in love with 71 different men, or, perhaps she's been in love with one man all this time and has not been able to land him?  Usually in the romance comic books all it takes is eight to twelve pages for the girl to end up with the right man and live happily ever after.

(And why is it that romance stories are always told from the woman's point of view?  Gender stereotyping at its worst, I say.)

Anyway, it's 1963 (which would be a few years after my sister stopped reading romance comics, perhaps explaining why I had never heard of Cynthia Doyle) and our heroine has evidently been in love with Dr. Doofus Mcjerk Edward Benson for the past 70 issues.  Benson is a dedicated doctor who is oblivious to women.  Cynthia is a knock-dead gorgeous redhead who is Benson's favorite nurse necause of the nurse thing and not because of the gorgeous thing.  This issue contains two stories of her unrequited love for the handsome doofus doctor.

In the first, famous ballerina Malina Talova has been experiencing weakness in her leg, but is it real or imagined?  Tests the next morning will determine this but, alas, she is in a devastating car wreck.  Will Benson have to amputate her leg, or can he save it?  She would rather die than lose her leg, but Cynthia's lightning quick reactions managed to grab a bottle of pills from her.  (And what, pray tell, is a bottle of pills doing at her hospital bedside?)  Also, there's a new doctor of pediatrics at the hospital, the super beautiful Iris Carter.  Iris keeps paging Benson to help her in pediatrics.  Benson seems to be totally smitten with her.  Will Cynthia now lose the man who ignored her romantic advances for 70 issues?  Fear not, valiant reader, for all will prevail (of sorts) by the last panel.

In the second story, a beautiful, rich society woman is about to have a baby she doesn't want.  At least, that's what she says.  And her millionaire husband doesn't want a kid either.  Cynthia and Benson go outside the hospital so Benson can have a cigarette (it's 1963, remember?) and talk over the case.  (Why had no one found about the woman's attitude in the previous nine months? I wonder.  And --get this -- her husband didn't know she was pregnant because he was out of the country and she didn't tell him!)  Anyway, back to the action.  Walking nearby is a woman and her young son.  A dog appears and rushes to attack the child.  Benson leaps to save him and is bitten himself.  Benson leaped a little too slowly because the child is also bitten.  The dog runs off.  Does the dog's behavior mean it was rabid?  Dunno.  Can't find the dog.  The boy will be okay because there is rabies medicine, but Benson will not be okay because it turns out he is allergic to the rabies vaccine and almost died from it as a child.  Worry, worry, fret, fret, stew.  Will Benson survive?  He's leaning on Cynthia for emotional support, so will he realize her love for him?  Will the socialite want her baby?  Again we are kept hanging to the very end.

Sandwiched in between these two stories is a tale of Dr. Tom  Brent, Young Intern, whom, we are told by a slashing banner across the first panel, now stars in his own comic book.  Brent has been assigned to help Dr. Charles Henry by collating data Henry obtained from eight years in the jungle to develop an anti-virus serum.  Those eight years have paid a toll on Henry's health -- his ticker is getting sicker.  Brent discovers an error on a tally sheet and, bringing to Henry's attention, asks to look at the doctor's raw data.  Dr. Henry goes ballistic, saying that the data is his personal property and nobody is going to look at it.  Turns out the data isn't there; it had been destroyed in a fire in the jungle and Henry has been relying on his memory to reconstruct it.  This is unscientific, unprofessional, dangerous, and blows any chance of Henry's anti-virus.  Tormented by his ethics, Brent realizes he must inform the head of the hospital, even though it may destroy Henry's career and reputation.  Brent is seconds away from doing this when **SPOILER ALERT** Dr. Henry conveniently dies from a heart attack so Brent doesn't have to squeal on his colleague after all.  Dumb story.

And then there are the ads.  Two different outfits are offering nurse correspondence training.  One says that the nurse's training can be completed in a couple of months, or even in a few weeks, allowing their students to earn $65 dollars a week and up as a nurse.  The other says it takes ten weeks to graduate and the student can earn $70 and up.  If neither of those appeal, you can purchase a real doctor's stethoscope (army surplus, from the U.S. Army Medical Corps) for just $2.95 ppd.  The ad says you can use it to play doctor (!) or as a spying device -- because it has "a SPECIAL SECRET USE that will enable you to listen in on conversations in the next room by placing the sensitive rubber disc on the wall of any room (just like the FBI and private detectives)."

Put a little love in your heart and enjoy the romantic angst of Cynthia Doyle.  (And check out the linking male and female symbols on the cover!)

Friday, February 16, 2018


This one's for Kitty. because all that springs from her is good.


The Descent of the Sun, a cycle of birth by F. W. Bain (1903)

Francis William Bain was an Oxford-educated student of the classics.  In 1892 Bain enterd the Indian Educational Service and spent 21 years as a history professor in the Deccan College of Poona.  In 1899 he published the first of thirteen fantasies, purported to be translated from the ancient Sanskrit.  As he published more books, it soon became evident that these books were not translations but were created by Bain from whole cloth.  The books were short,written in stilted language, and included many footnotes in which Bain used many puns -- to good effect, I might add.  They were fairly popular and all were eventually reissued in a thirteen- volume set, The Indian Stories of F. W. Bain.

About fifteen years ago, I read one of Bain's oriental fantasies, A Heifer of the Dawn, and was less than impressed.  Recently I decided to give Bain another go and cautiously dipped into his second novel, The Descent of the Sun, and was happy to find the book quaintly charming, enough so that I immediately read another -- his first, A Digit of the Moon, a Hindoo love story.  I expect that over this year I will read all thirteen of the books (yes, including a re-read of A Heifer of the Dawn, which I suspect holds far more than I saw on my first reading).  I have become a fan of F. W. Bain.

About The Descent of the Sun:  It tells the story of Kamalametra, a young king of the Spirits of the Air, who spent a hundred years "performing penances of appalling severity" when the Lord of Creatures was moved by his dedication and decided to grant the young king a boon.  Kamalametra asked for a wife whose eyes were "full of the dusky lustre of thy throat and thy moon" so that she be a conduit between his devotion and the Lord of Creatures.  Because he could look into the future, the god divined that such eyes would cause trouble.  Nonetheless, he granted the boon.  Soon, Kamalametra met his future wife, Anushayini, who was very beautiful and had the most beautiful eyes.  Soon, through their pride, the couple earned the curse of an old ascetic who would separate them and cast them into the mortal world; the curse would be ended until "one of you shall slay the other."  Then, poof!, the two lovers vanished.

Anushayini was reincarnated as Shri, the beautiful daughter of a powerful king.  The fly in the king's ointment was that Shri refused to be married -- no other man could interest her because she would have only one husband; she did not know his name but only that he would come from the Land of the Lotus of the Sun to claim her.  Neither the king nor anyone in his kingdom had ever heard of such a land.  Nonetheless. the king issued a decree that his daughter and a share of his kingdom would go to a man from the Land of the Lotus of the Sun.  Many claimants came forward and all were rejected because they did not come from the Land of the Lotus of the Sun, wherever that might be.

Kamalametra, in the meantime, had been reincarnated as Umra-Singh, the son of a king in a distant country.  Umra-Singh refused to marry anyone but the lady of his dream but he had no idea whom this lady was.  Umra-Singh soon escaped his kingdom and went searching for the lady of his dreams, which eventually brought him to Shri's kingdom.  There he found the lady of his dreams but was rebuffed because he had not come from the Land of the Lotus of the Sun.  Determined to win Shri, he began an odyssey to find this land that no one had ever heard of.

The main body of the story covers the perils of Umra-Singh's quests -- monsters and magic and dangers.

And so he finds the mystical city, returns and wins Shri, and one ends up slaying the other (I'm not saying who or how), ending the curse.

So...happy ending.  For Kamalametra and Anushayini at least; not so much for Umra-Singh and Shri.

Not your typical fantasy ending.  But somehow the story remains charming and entertaining.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


A memorial service for Bill Crider will be held at 1:00 pm on Monday, February 19, 2018, at the First United Methodist Church of Alvin, 611 W. South Street, Alvin, Texas  77511.

"In lieu of flowers, a donation to the library of the donor's choice would be appropriate."


I'm too pissed at politicians and the NRA to post anything today.  Back tomorrow with a Forgotten Book.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

BILL CRIDER (1941-2018)

Like many of Bill Crider's friends I have never met the man in person, and like many of his on-line friends Bill has been an important and valued part of my life.

Bill was kind, gentle, loving, generous, witty, and smart.  He was also a very talented writer and educator.  His mystery novels about small town Texas sheriff Dan Rhoades are sure to stand the test of time, as are so many of his other books -- well over 65 of them.  Mysteries, suspense, westerns, horror, juveniles...Bill made them all look so easy.  There was a humanity to his characters that few writers could approach.  His gentle, laser-focused approach to small town living could easily serve as a sociology textbook about America in the last 35 years.

Bill was an expert on the mass market paperback.  His reading of the old Gold Medal paperbacks and others helped to solidify his talent.

He was always willing to promote new writers, giving a hand wherever needed.  He would be there with kind words and support for friends who were ill or undergoing difficulties.  When at least one writer fell behind on a contract because of illness, Bill finished writing the book for him while refusing any credit.  His blog, Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine, was an important daily stop for those who needed a dash of the Crider humor, excellent reviews and notes on upcoming books, good music, a sprinkling of nostalgia, odd news, and reasons why Texas Leads the Way.

When his beloved wife Judy passed away from cancer several years, Bill appeared lost.  Judy was the leading light in his life beside which all others paled.  He soon bounced back with the support of his family and his many friends, channeling part of his grief into various recollections of his courtship and life with Judy; both touching and beautiful, these memories gave us a glimpse of an enduring love affair.  Bill also found three abandoned kittens in his neighborhood and brought them home; the VBKs (Very Bad Kitties) not only helped him cope but gained an enthusiastic following on Facebook.

Bill had been battling cancer for the past several years, although he downplayed it to his friends.  Last December, he posted that doctors had recommended he go into hospice, saying that he had perhaps a few weeks or months left.  The news hit his friends and fans like a thunderbolt and tributes came pouting in.  Bill joined Judy yesterday.  His brother posted "My brother, Bill Crider, passed away this evening at 6:52 PM CST, Monday, February 12, 2018.  It was a peaceful end to a strong body and an intellectual mind."

Bill leaves a son, Alan, and a daughter, Angela Crider Neary, both sources of pride.  He also leaves three VBKs, all of whom have now been re-homed.

A true gentleman.  To say that he will be missed is an understatement.

Monday, February 12, 2018


How Three Words Can Set a Mood:  "Anton looked out the bay window of Sarh's Boulangerie toward St. Thomas's Church, while Jacqueline stood at the worktable behind the counter and kneaded.  Pummeling the dough."  -- Louise Penny, Glass Houses

I've Been Reading:  This week I finished Shrine by James Herbert, my FFB.  A good, albeit plodding, book; for the most part I read in 20-page segments but I'm happy I was rewarded after finishing the 450-page novel.  I also read the latest Flavia De Luce novel from Alan Bradley, The Grave's a Fine and Private Place.  Like many others, I am addicted to that series.  Flavia is probably the best eleven-year-old (now probably twelve) expert on poisons in literature.  Finally, I read The Descent of the Sun by F. W. Bain, who wrote a number of short novels near the beginning of the twentieth century that were supposedly fantasies translated from Sanskrit (or, as Bain put it, "Hindoo").  It took a number of books before people wised up to the fact that these were not translations, but the mystical background of each made them very popular for their time.  Currently, I am reading the third (and latest) Caleb York western from Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins.

Drizzle:  Isn't the word for it.  The past few days have brought severe thunder storms.  It has been raining like there's no tomorrow, my friends...dark and gloomy.  Of course that's when our streaming service decided to go haywire.  On the bright side, if I had a lawn it would probably be pretty green this spring.

Mardi Gras:  Oh...and Pensacola celebrated Mardi Gras this weekend with a large, cold, wet parade.

Our Flim-Flam Artist-in-Chief:  President Cheese Doodle has (at least in public) been defending abusers who have been on his payroll -- something to be expected, since he has called the nineteen women who have accused him of sexual misdeeds liars.  In cases like this, he always stands with the accused and denigrates the accusers.  I suppose this is because, as he has said over and over, nobody respects women as much as he does.  Which makes me think someone should give this jamook a dictionary so he can see what the words he uses really mean.  Of course the dictyionary would have to be, at a max, on a fourth grade reading level.

Winter Olympics:  I'm bored.  I'm tired of the pomp and ceremony and the political posturing.  I'm tired of cities and countries sinking massive amounts of dough into Olympic stadiums that will soon fall into disuse.  I'm tired of the chicanery that goes on at the top level.  I'm tired of commentators struggling to come up with commentary.  I'm tired of steroids and HGH.  I'm tired of increasingly dangerous courses.  The great athletes who give their all for their sport deserve much better.

While I'm Bitchin':  It seems that every day this week there have been stories of mass shootings.  As a country, we will never learn.  But as a country, we seem to be The United States of NRA.  The NRA is a powerful pissant group that ignores common decency and common sense.  Their numbers are small, several million I understand, but I also understand their numbers are inflated.  Their political power extends from a strange (my word) reading of the Second Amendment, as codified by a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court, as well as from a distorted public relations push and a Congress more interested in power and money than in the public good.  If Newtown (remember that one?) did not affect change, then nothing will.  But please understand that nobody wants to take way your guns.  But would it hurt to put limits on some firearms?  To limit the sale of guns to some people?  The founding fathers could never imagine the type of firearms we have today.  And the theory that all it takes to stop one bad man with a gun is one good man with a gun is laughable.  The "one good man" is more likely to shoot his own toes or someone else.

Unclear on the Concept:  The BostonPolice Department tweeted a Black History Month tribute to Red Auerbach, the former Boston Celtics coach and president.  For those too young to remember Auerbach, let me just say he was white.  Very white.

Tropical Cyclone Gita:  Is expected to be the worst storm in history to hit Tonga.  I sincerely hope that is not the case.  Puerto Rico will not recover from their hurricane for years; the same situation -- or worse -- could be in store for Tonga.  Meanwhile, the world stands in awe of Tonga Flag Bearer Pita Taufatofua, who is competing in cross country skiing.  (See my great athlete comment, above.)

FloriDUH:  That's the name of a regular column in the Sun Sentinel, which gives us the following headline:  "Black Friday shoplifters found clad only in bra and undies, deputies say."  Two women shoplifted from a Tommy Hilfiger store and made their getaway.  Police traced them to outside a local hotel, where they had stripped down to their underwear, figuring no one would recognize them withoput their clothes.

Sunday, February 11, 2018


Read by Benedict Cumberbatch, this letter was addressed to a headmaster who had burned copies of one of Vonnegut's books in the school furnace.


Big Bill Broonzy.

Saturday, February 10, 2018


The Zombies.


Comics on Parade was one of the very first newsstand comic books, debuting in April 1938.  Published by United Features Syndicate, it reprinted various newspaper comics -- both Sundays and dailies -- owned by the syndicate.  Each issue featured a different character on the cover.  The July 1938 issued featured the Katzenjammer Kids on the cover, with stories about Abbie 'n' Slats, Cynical Susie, Broncho Bill, Looy Dot Dope, Colonel Wowser, Joe Jinks. Fritzi Ritz, Billy Make Believe, Buster Beans, Benny, Opportunity Knox, Little Mary Mixup, Ella Cinders, and Danny Dingle.  Plus crafts and activities for kids, a biography of Gary Cooper, chapters seven and eight of Wayne Webster of Waverly Prep by Lieutenant Fred A. Methot, and several other filler pieces. 

Because of copyrights, this scan omits stories about Tarzan and L'il Abner.  Nonetheless, there is a lot of good stuff here, including many comic strip characters who have faded into history.


Friday, February 9, 2018


This is a song that Flavia de Luce's sister Feeley sings in Alan Bradley's latest novel The Grave's a Fine and Private Place.  I had to look it up, then I had to pass it on to you.

Here's English music hall performer and actress Gracie Fields with her homage to the women who worked the factories during World War II.


Shrine by James Herbert (1984)

James Herbert (1943-2013) was one of the most popular British horror writers of the last fifty years. producing 23 novels and one graphic novel over a career that spanned thirty-eight years, and being honored with an OBE and being named a World Horror Grand Master.

Shrine, Herbert's ninth novel, tells the story of an eleven-year-old girl who suddenly gained "miraculous" powers; it drew heavily on the author's Roman Catholic heritage.  Journalist Gerry Fennwas driving down a lonely country road one night when a small figure darted in from of his car.  Fenn was able to stop in time, but the girl, clad only in a nightgown, ran across the road, into the brush, and across an old graveyard.  Following her, Fenn finds her in the middle of a field, sitting in front of an old oak tree.  She appeared to be in a serene trance, uttering only three words:  "she's so beautiful."  Fenn takes her to the nearest lighted building, the home of Father Hagan, the priest of St. Joseph's Church.  Fenn learns that the girl, Alice Padgett, has been a deaf mute for the past seven years.

Soon a cult develops around the young girl, drawing believers and the curious both to the small church.  Alice reports seeing the Virgin Mary in the oak tree.  She appears to give people a needed sense of peace.  The she "cures" five people of different  chronic ills.  She levitates.  She truly appears blessed by God.

But some have doubts.  Father Hagan notes an "emptiness" in the church.  Monsignor Delgard, the Church's paranormal investigator, is also hesitant to proclaim Alice's visions and powers as inspired by God.  Fenn, himself a disbeliever, searches for a rational explanation.

And then three people close to young Alice die.  An explosion at a gas station kills more.  A statue of Mary in St. Joseph's begins to change.  Records for the first millennium of church, which dates back to the 700's, are missing.  When Fenn finally finds them, he is attacked by another statue of Mary.  Centuries-old sins echo forward to the present day.  A ghastly burned figure haunts the area.  There are hints of reincarnation, ancient curses, and demonic possession.  Despite the violent apocalyptic ending, the reader is left to decide as to what was behind everything.

As usual for Herbert, this is a very good horror novel.  Unusual, perhaps, is the pace of the book.  It often plods, especially in the first half of the book.  Minor characters are introduced, and then dropped for a couple hundred pages, then suddenly reappear -- leaving the reader to puzzle out who the hell they are, and to backtrack through the novel to find their backstories.  The ending is rushed and inconclusive.

As I said, this is a very good horror novel.  With a stern and judicious editor it could have been a very great horror novel

Thursday, February 8, 2018




From September 10, 1945, Superman meets Batman and Robin for the first time in any media!

...and rest is history.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018


Harold and Margaret Winter.


what do you get when you cross a t-rex and a chicken

nothing but death

-- from @KidsWrite Jokes

One of these kids doesn't like Jessica, as evidence by this joke:



-- Ibid.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


Donna Fargo.  (Fun fact:  I once worked with the "original" Donna Fargo; the singer married the original's brother and used that name for her career.)


Ira Levin wrote the teleplay of this adaptation of a Fredric Brown short story for Lights Out, airing on May 28, 1951.

Lights Out, a televised continuation of Arch Oboler's radio series in for four episodes in 1946, then began its regular run on NBC in July 1949 for a total of 160 episodes.

John Forsythe stars as Al March, a man haunted by the death of three people from a bombing in an army barracks six years before.  Awaiting surgery, March tells his sister (played by veteran television character actress June Dayton) that he had just killed three people.  He believes that the three who died six years ago are angry because they died and he didn't, so they have been following him all this time trying to kill him.  It's a case of kill or be killed, you see.  Also featuring Richard Sanders as Dr. Grove (his only IMDb credit) and Chris Gampel, Rex Williams, and Rita Gam as the supposed bloodthirsty trio.

"The Pattern" was produced and directed by Herbert Swope, Jr.


Monday, February 5, 2018


Here's Hank.


First and Foremost.  Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles!  I don'r really follow sports but I understand it was a great game with good commercials and a meh half-time show.  We watched an Irish detective show on Netflix instead.

Anthropomorphic Air.  "The roar of air was amplified by the tight confines of the stone building, assaulting his ears with its frenzied screaming." -- James Herbert, Shrine

I've Been Reading.  Well, not much:  I finished Lawrence Block's The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes, and read a mainstream novel (and my FFB) by Edgar rice Burroughs, Marcia of the Doorstep, and Now We Are 600:  A Collection of Time Lord Verse by James Goss, a hat tip to A. A. Milne which seemed to be designed for a person with an encyclopaediac knowledge of the Whovian universe and a great tolerance strained rhymes.  As you might tell from above, I'm currently reading the James Herbert book.  I have also been dipping into Ursula Le Guin's No Time to Spare:  Thinking About What Matters, a collection of her blog postings, and have been slowly savoring every word.

She Was Eleven Years Old and Forced to Marry Her Rapist.  And she was only ten when she was raped and impregnated.  By the time she was able to leave him, she was fifteen and had five children.  The Florida courts allowed this.  The woman is now in her fifties and an effort is being made to repeal the laws that allowed this to happen.  The Florida senate has approved the measure but sadly/insanely the state house of representatives is balking.  The whole thing is so disgusting it doesn't deserve a "Florida Man" heading.

On This Day.  In 62 AD, it was Earthquake v. Pompeii and Pompeii lost, suffering major damage and perhaps making the way for the great Volcano v. Pompeii bout seventeen years later, which Pompeii also lost.  Big time.  Also, in 1917, Mexico's current constitution -- which mentioned nothing about a wall -- was adopted.  Ole!

Happy Birthday!  To David Selby, 77, perhaps best known for his role in Dark Shadows.  Evidently, I looked a lot like him during the DS days because little kids would come up to me and ask me if I was Quentin Collins; today, alas, I look more like Newt Gingrich.  Also, it's the birthday of Al (not Alice) Cooper, 74, who has given us such great songs as "As the Years Go Passing By:"

New Orleans Leads the Way.  What's been clogging up the city's storm drains?  About 93,000 pounds of Mardi Gras beads, at least that's what workers on The Big Easy's drainage system found.  Each storm drain will now have a sign saying, "If you must bead, please don't feed."

Great Career Choice.  A Swiss University is now offering classes in yodeling, with both bachelor's and master's degrees.  Limited job opportunities, though.  I don't think the current Ricola guy is about to give up his gig.

Great Platform.  A neo-Nazi holocaust denier is running unopposed in the Republican primary for the house of representatives in an Illinois district that includes part of Chicago.  These days, I suppose he's considered a moderate Republican.

Ask Me If I Care.  Kylie has had a baby.  Who's Kylie?

Sunday, February 4, 2018


McGee and John D. were an influence, but somehow I can't picture Jack Reacher living on The Busted Flush at Slip F-18 at Baria Mar, riding around in Miss Agnes, or learning all about economics from Meyer.  Nonetheless, Reacher and McGee could be brothers from another mother. 


The Davis Sisters.

Saturday, February 3, 2018


Granddaughter Erin turned sixteen today.

"The Song of Erin" is based on an ancient Irish poem.  I'm posting this because she is as beautiful and fascinating as the country is.

Happy birthday, sweet girl!


In 1954, St. John comics issued Approved Comics as a means of testing possible titles and former titles.  You wouldn't know that if you just saw the cover; with one exception, each of the twelve issues had a different title on the cover.  Few of these comics made to their own series (or, some cases, to have their series renewed..

The issues:

#1  The Hawk ("Fighting Marshal of the Wild West" -- includes "Six-Gun Showdown" "Blood Brothers")  Went on for 11 issues in 1955
#2  Invisible Boy (includes "Terror in the Streets")  A flop.
#3  Wild Boy of the Congo (includes ""The Witch Doctor")  Six issues published previously.
#4  Kid Cowboy ("Boy Marvel of the Wild West" -- includes "Six-Gun Justice" "Crisis in the Valley")  Picked up by Ziff-Davis for 14 issues
#5  Fly Boy ("Thrilling Adventures of Flying Cadets" -- includes "The Killer Instinct" "The Big Buzz")  Picked up by Ziff-Davis for 2 issues
#6  Daring Adventures (includes "The Son of Robin Hood" "Frog Men Against Belzar" "Devil's Arena")  One previous issue (in 3-D!); a flop.
#7  The Hawk (the only title to appear more than once -- includes "Claim Jumpers' Curse" "The Devil Horns In")  See #1, above
#8  Crime on the Run ("Startling Cases of Men who Defied the Law")  A flop,.
#9  Western Bandit Tales (includes "Death Valley Double-Cross" "Assassins of the Ozarks") Three issues published previously
#10  Dinky Duck ("A Terrytoons Comic")  Fourteen issues published previously; the character appeared sporadically from other publishers through the 60s
#11  Fightin' Marines ("Action Stories of the Devil Dogs in Korea!" -- includes "Leatherneck Jack")  Twelve previous issues; picked up by Charlton Comics for 162 issues
#12  Northwest Mounties (includes "The Snow Sirens [sic] Secret")  Four previous issues

Crime on the Run follows the same template as Lev Gleason's Crime Does Not Pay and other crime comics of the 1950s.

"A Tough Beat" pits an honest cop against his hoodlum son.

"Durable Mike Malloy" was an alcoholic tramp who proves hard to kill when a syndicate tries (and tries, and tries) to kill him.  Even after they succeed, Malloy has the last laugh.

"The Squealers" has a defiant killer trick into a confession.

"Kill-Crazy John Dillinger" tells the story of you-know-who.

In "The Dream Horse Winners" has Horace Fraser, a man who knows nothing about horse racing, able to somehow pick winners in his dreams.  His brother, a gambler from the git-go, uses these dreams to make a bundle.  Then a couple of gangs try to get in on the action.

Bullets are blazing in this issue and neer-do-wells get their due!  Enjoy.

Friday, February 2, 2018


A song for today from The watson Family.


Marcia of the Doorstep by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1999)

Welcome to another exciting episode of Coincidence Theater.

Today's example was written in 1924 but was not published until 1999 when Donald M. Grant, Publisher issued the book along with another unpublished Burroughs work, the three-act play You Lucky Girl!  According to the introduction by Danton Burroughs, his grandfather submitted the work several times during his lifetime, yet it remained unpublished.  Danton Burroughs gives no reason for this, although there are hints as to why.

Burroughs wanted to be more than the author of Tarzan.  "But every time he attempted to write something besides Tarzan of the Apes; John Carter of Mars; David Innes of Pellucidar; or Carson of Venus; his editors complained that they wanted another Tarzan story.  Sometimes the only way that he could sell something else was to promise the editors another story about the inimitable Tarzan."  His first foray into romance and mystery was The Girl from Farris's, written in 1914.  Five years later, he produced The Efficiency Expert and in 1921, The Girl from HollywoodMarcia of the Doorstep was his fourth and final romantic mystery novel.  Burroughs then concentrated on more books about Tarzan and on interplanetary heroes, with an occasional foray into other genres.

Marcia of the Doorstep, at 125,000 words, is the longest novel Burroughs ever wrote.  It could have been much longer.  The ending is rushed in an attempt to tie up as many loose ends as possible.  Many of the trademark ERB effects are here:  a seemingly doomed romance, a plucky heroine and a handsome and noble hero, racial stereotypes (although certainly was more of a trademark of the times and not limited to Burroughs by any means) a shipwreck, a jungle, opposing camps of good and evil, the amazing ability of characters to wander all over the place just missing one another, and coincidence after coincidence.  For all his faults, Burroughs could tell a good story and here he plunges the reader into a fast-moving (albeit hackneyed) tale.

The story opens with John Hancock Chase, Jr., the son of a rich and influential former United States senator, being blackmailed by a shady lawyer who claims that Chase, already married, had a drunken one-night affair resulted in an illegitimate child, a daughter.  The lawyer, Heimer, has bled young Chase dry and threatens to release the evidence if he doesn't produce another ten thousand dollars.  At his wit's end, Chase commits suicide, leaving his family to wonder why.  At about the same time a baby has left at the doorstep of a thespian couple.  They decide to call the baby Marcia and to raise her themselves.

Fast forward sixteen years.  Marcia is now a beautiful, talented, and well-admired young lady with hopes of being a professional singer.  She is doted upon by her parents who have made no secret that she was a doorstep baby.  She has a steady beau in the form of Dick Steele and the two hope to one day be married.

Marcia's father, Marcus Aurelius Sackett, is a talented stage actor who scoffs at trivial attempts to entertain such as musical comedies.  For him, the stage is a noble profession and his talents should be used on only the highest of dramas.  Unfortunately, they time are changing.  Motion pictures are now the vogue, followed by stage farces and musical comedies.  His latest venture, as a player in the Belasco stage company, has failed and the company has folded without paying its actors.  Now, broke and unemployed, he cannot even afford to continue paying for Marcia's voice lessons.  Belasco's attorney, who coincidentally happens to be Heimer, meets with Sackett and is introduced to Marcia.  Upon learning that Marcia is a doorstep baby and the date she was left there, Heimer goes to Chase's father and tells him he has a granddaughter.  The old man is outraged:  here is the probable reason for his son's suicide.  He agrees to give his granddaughter a thousand dollars a month and to give the Sacketts a lump sum of twenty thousand dollars to repay them for raising the girl, but there is a caveat -- neither the girl nor the Sacketts shall know his identity and he shall never meet with them.

Marcia, in the meantime, is friends with Patsy, a girl in her vocal class.  Patsy has been asked to sing at a reception by her sister, Mrs.Homer Ashton, and is looking for someone to sing with her...and who better than Marcia.  The Ashtons are thrilled with Marcia's talent, grace, personality, and manners.  They are planning a trip to the Orient and asked Marcia to come with them nd be a companion to Patsy.  At first, Marcia is hesitant but, after learning of her thousand dollar a month windfall, she agrees.  Accompanying them will be Banks van Spiddle, a harmless but well-meaning popinjay who falls for Marcia; and meeting them in Hawaii will be Jack Chase, a young army officer.  Wait.  Chase? Where have we heard that name before?...Right...he's Marcia's brother!  Too bad neither of them realize it.

Did I mention that some of the crew on Ashton's boat are "damned wobblies" bent on fomenting trouble and mutiny?  Anyway, Jack falls for Marcia and Marcia falls for Jack but neither do anything about it because Patsy told Jack that Marcia is engaged to Banks and Marcia thinks Jack love Patsy.  Phew!  Then comes the sudden storm and the shipwreck and the crew with Jack and Marcia end up in one boat with the rest of the passengers in another.  The boats get separated and each group believes the other is lost.  After many weeks of drifting, Jack and Marcia's boat lands on a deserted island. 

Then, coincidence upon coincidence, blah, blah blah.  The head of the damned wobblies has designs on Marcia but Jack defends her honor.  Did I mention the pirates?  Back in the States, Heimer has defrauded Marcus Sackett of all his money, leaving the couple in direr straights than ever.

It would be a mistake to look at this book critically.  It's many flaws are minor compared to Burroughs' story-telling. 

A fun but minor part of the ERB canon.

Thursday, February 1, 2018


Joni James had three of the Top 30 Billboard Hits in 1953.  This was one of them.


My old-time radio selection for today is an adaptation of Walter Van Tilberg's novel The Track of the Cat.

An isolate Nevada ranch...trapped by a violent snow storm...a hunt for a killer mountain lion, but could the lion be the same one that an old Indian claimed to have killed his family 80 years ago?

The Track of the Cat is one the best-known works by Walter Van Tilberg (1909-1971), who is best-known for his novel The Ox-Bow Incident.  Both books were adapted for the screen:  The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) starred Henry Fonda and was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar; Track of the Cat (1954; note the slightly truncated title) starred Robert Mitchum in a wonderful performance.

Richard Widmark is no Robert Mitchum, but he was certainly a great choice to star in this February 18, 1952, episode of Suspense.  Also in the cast for this half-hour presentation are Elliot Lewis, Lee Millar, Jr., Martha Wentworth, and Sharon Douglas.  Sylvia Richards adapted Van Tilberg's novel.