Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, April 30, 2018


The Beach Boys on The Ed Sullivan Show.


Openers:  Now, touching this business of old Jeeves -- my man, you know -- how do we stand?  Lots of people think I'm much too dependent on him.  My Aunt Agatha, in fact, has even gone so far as to call him my keeper.  Well, what I say is:  Why not?  The man's a genius.  From the collar upward he stands alone.  I gave up trying to run my own affairs within a week of his coming to me.  That was about half a dozen years ago, directly after the rather rummy business of Florence Craye, my Uncle Willoughby's book, and Edwin, the Boy Scout.  -- P. G. Wodehouse, "Jeeves Takes Charge"

April Incoming:  

  • "Luke Adams" (house name), Apache Law:  The Lonely Gun.  The second of four in the Apache Law western series.  I don't know who wrote this one, but Bill Crider wrote the second and third books in the series.
  • Donald Beman, Dead Love.  Horror novel.
  • William Bernhardt, editor, Legal Briefs.  Mystery anthology with 11 stories.
  • M. V. Carey, The Mystery of the Blazing Cliffs.  A Three Investigators YA mystery.  This series is addictive.  Carey wrote fifteen books in the series, following Robert Arthur, "William Arden" (Dennis Lynds), and "Nick West" (Kin Platt).
  • Terry Carr, editor, Universe 5.  Part of the long-running, critically acclaimed SF anthology series.
  • Sean Chercover, Trigger City.  The second in the Ray Dudgeon, P.I.  mystery series.  This one was a 2009 Dilys Award winner, and a finalist for the Anthony, Barry, and Macavity awards.
  • "Jackson Cole" (house name), Trigger Law.  A Jim Hatfield western.
  • Michael Connelly, The Fifth Witness.  A Lincoln Lawyer mystery.
  • Blake Crouch, Good Behavior.  Fix-up thriller featuring Letty Dobesh.
  • Gordon R. Dickson, The Stranger.  SF collection with 14 stories.
  • Walter B. Gibson & Litzka R. Gibson,  The Complete Illustrated Book of the Psychic Sciences.  Nonfiction bushwah.
  • Ken Goddard, Outer Perimeter.  Thriller.
  • Christopher Golden, Tin Men.  SF novel.
  • William Harms, adapter, Charlaine Harris' Grave Sight.  Graphic novel version of the first Harper Connelly novel, with art by Denis Medri.  The dead tell Harper how they died.
  • Joan Hess, Mummy Dearest.  A Claire Malloy mystery.  Claire finally remarries and her honeymoon is murder.
  • Jonathan Kellerman, Evidence.  An Alex Delaware mystery.
  • Damon Knight, A Reasonable World.  SF novel, the sequel to CV and The Observers!
  • Kozuo Koike, Lone Wolf and Cub, Volume 6:  Lanterns for the Dead.  Manga with art by Gosaki Kohma.
  • Richard A. Lupoff, Edgar Rice Burroughs:  Master of Adventure.  Nonfiction from a Burroughsphiliac. This is the 1968 revised edition.
  • Lia Matera, editor, Irreconcilable Differences.  Mystery anthology with 20 stories.
  • "P. J. Parrish" (Kelly Nichols & Kristy Montee), South of Hell.  Thriller.
  • Tom Robbins, Villa Incognito.  A novel from a cult writer who claimed soul with Another Roadside Attraction many year ago.
  • Jay Williams & Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn, Scientific Detective.  YA mystery/SF novel.  this series is another of my guilty pleasures.
  • F. Paul Wilson, Deep Is the Marrow.  Thriller.
  • Brian Wood, Northlanders, Book One:  Sven the Returned.  Graphic novel with art by Davide Gian Felice.

I've Been Reading:  Not much.  The silly thing called life kept interfering.  I'm halfway through August Derleth's The Milwaukee Road, a history of railroads in Wisconsin (and beyond).  There's a lot of interesting things there -- personalities, politics, chicanery. and greed.  Plus several of the historical characters mentioned have been the protagonists of some of Derleth's historical novels that I have enjoyed.  It's not that long a book and it's not a bad book but sometimes it's hard to concentrate.  So what to do?  I landed on Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell's new collection, Bizarre Romance.  Niffenegger (The Time Traveller's Wife) and cartoonist husband Campbell (From Hell) combined their considerable talents to make this book a delight.  Since that took me halfway there, I next landed on Jason Aaron and Jason Latour's Southern Bastards, Volume 1:  Here Was a Man and Volume 3:  Homecoming.  (I had previously read the second volume.)  What their series Scalped did to Indian reservations, this series does to small town football in the South.  Good and gritty.  Finally, I read the Manga version of Stephen Moffat's Sherlock:  A Study in Pink, an adaptation of the first episode of the BBC series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.  One of those start at the back and read right to left books. Amusing.  I started five books this week and pput each one down; with luck, I'll be able to get back to them this coming week

The Name Game:  Erin was inducted into her high school's National English Honor Society this week, along with half a gazillion other kids.  As always, I'm interested in the diversity of names among the students.  (There were three Erins honored, a name that is not usually found in the South.)  Anyway, take a look at the names.  Are these millennials, or what? 

Zachery, Katherine, Lauren, Benjamin, Josie, Juliana, Ava, Kaitlin,Bailey, Sydney, Clayton, Emma, Ashley, Douglas, another Clayton, Kendall, Ana, Brittan, Eden, Christina, Amirah, Madie, Riley, another Benjamin, Kaylie, Jackson, Mary Kate, Breanna, Sally, Trevor, Erin, Chloe, Courtney, Caroline, Bickston, Britton, Bethany, Adelyn, Solo, Allison, Carrington, Shealan, Anna, Sachi, Hannah, Elizabeth, Matthew, another Ashley, Kellen, Brianna, Abby, Frances, Savannah, Abigail, Serafina, Siena,Kayla, Kimberly, McKenna, Ryan, Tulla Bee, Gabrielle, John, Brooke, Hadleigh, another Erin, Annalise, Mary, Ashlinn, the third Erin, Morgan, Luke, Alexandra, Parick, Emma, Joshua, Mammoon, Mya, Julina, Ashton, Bridget, another Emma, Alexia, Olivia, Ian, Shayla, Merigrace, Lizabeth, Alyse, Victoria, and another Allison.

Some Jokes Come with Their Own Punchline:  In science news this week, it was announced that Uranus has a foul odor.

Lone Wolf:  Comic Michelle Wolf has been getting some flak from her presentation at the White House Correspondents Dinner this week.  She gave a raunchy, profanity-laden, take no prisoners speech.  What did they expect?  This what she does.  This is what comics do.  This is what court jesters have done throughout history.  They use humor to bring truth to power.  Depending on the comics viewpoint, this may be a liberal truth or a conservative one, but each serves an important function.  Wolf's comments about Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders drew the most fire.  Well, no one actually cared about the Kellyanne comments because she is Kellyanne.  Sarah Sanders, on the other hand, was sitting stoically at the head table, while Wolf ripped her apart -- leaving many people sorry for this wife and mother.  I, too, felt embarrassed for Sanders, but -- as Wolf said -- if you tella joke when the subject is not present, you should be able to when he or she is there.  What do you think?  Did Michelle Wolfe cross the line?  I don't think so.  Comics are supposed to make you feel uncomfortable.

Meanwhile:  POMOTUS (Pathetic Old Man of the United States) avoided the whole deal by skipping out of Washington and going to Washington, Michigan, for another self-love fest. POMOTUS's comic stylings there left me flat.  

"It's Worse Than That...She's Dead, Jim":  The world's longest living spider (that we now of) has died at age 43.  The previous record was 23.  Good riddance, I say.  I hate spiders.  Hate'emhate'emhate'em!

Birthday Boy:  Poet John Crowe Ransom was born 130 years ago today.  Here's a poem:


The Queens of Hell has lissome necks to crane
At the tall girl approaching with long tread
And, when she had caught up even with them, nodded:
"If the young miss with gold hair might not disdain, 
We would esteem her company over the plain,
To profit us all where the dogs will be out barking;
And we'll walk by the windows where the young men are working
And tomorrow we will all come home again."

But the Queen of Heaven who had advanced and stood
In the likeness, I hear, of a fine motherly woman
Made a wry face, despite it was so common
To be worsted by the shrewd ladies of hell,
And crisped her sweet tongue:  "This never will come to good:---
Just an old woman, my pet, that wishes you well."

Endings:  This week we lost Pamela Gidley, who played murder victim Teresa Banks in the Twin Peaks prequel Fire  Walk with Me;  Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey; and Golden Girls producer Paul Junger Witt.


Sunday, April 29, 2018


From a couple of years ago, Lee Child sits down with Reacher fan Stephen King.



Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.

Saturday, April 28, 2018


Tina Turner


More than four decades before Gene Autry introduced Frosty to the world, Frappe the snowman became animated in this rare and short-lived Sunday comic strip.  The Strange Adventures of Frappe, the Snowman, and His Papa ran from December 4, 1904, to April 9, 1905 in the McClure Sunday section.  The comic strip was unsigned, so the cartoonist remains unknown.

The little boy in the strip is Frappe's "Papa," since he created the snowman.  I'm not sure whether Frappe actually came to like (like Frosty) or whether he is a figment of the little boy's imagination (as in Calvin and Hobbes).

Enjoy this brief sampler of an early and obsure comic strip.

Friday, April 27, 2018


It's a difficult life when you are a Star Trek red shirt.

"Filk" songs are (usually) musical parodies with a science fiction theme and are often performed at SF conventions.

This one is by Ensign in Red, obviously.



Futures to Infinity edited by Sam Moskowitz (1970)

Sam Moskowitz was arguably the most prominent science fiction historian of the Fifties and Sixties.  An avid science fiction fan and collector, his history of early science fiction fandom, The Immortal Storm, won a Hugo award in 1955.  His profiles of individual science fiction authors, collected in Explorers of the Infinite and Seekers of Tomorrow, while flawed, remain an important resource.  As editor and ghost-editor, many of his anthologies traced the historical growth of science fiction themes.  Often, though, his emphasis on historic rather than quality hurt the readability of his books.

This was most evident in many of the paperback anthologies he produced late in his career, and in his four-issue revival of Weird Tales in 1973-74.  The Classics of Science Fiction line of early science fiction books Moskowitz edited for Hyperian Press released well over three dozen books first published in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century; again, readability was not an essential requirement.

Futures to Infinty was released as a Pyramid Books paperback in 1970 and has never been reprinted in English, although there were Italian, French, and German editions -- one each -- in the early Seventies.  It contained ten never-before-reprinted stories by nine science fiction greats and Moskowitz himself.  If one wonders why these stories had never been reprinted before, one must simply read the book.  The stories themselves range from to good to readable to slight.

  • Alfred Bester, "The Probable Man," from Astounding Science Fiction, July 1941.  Written two years after his first story was published, this was Bester's eighth story.  It was eventually republished in a Bester retrospective, Redomolished, published thirteen years after the author's death.
  • Clifford D. Simak, "Rim of the Deep," from Astounding Science Fiction, May 1940.  Another early work by an author who would one day become a science fiction legend, this story was eventually republished in Volume 10 of The Collected Works of Clifford D. Simak, The Shipshape Miracle and Other Stories (2017)
  • Robert A. Heinlein, "Heil!," firt published in Ray Bradbury's fanzine Futuria Fantasia, Summer 1940, under the pen name Lyle Monroe.  Heinlein revised the story for Futures to Infinity and allowed it to be printed under his true name.  The story was later reprinted in the author's Expanded Universe (1980) under the title "Successful Operation."
  • L. Sprague de Camp, "The Incorrigible," from Astounding Science Fiction, January 1939.  this is the second of four stories about intelligent bear Johnny Black and has not been reprinted. (the third story in the series, "The Emancipated," has also not been reprinted, while the first and fourth stories have been reprinted numerous times.
  • Henry Kuttner, "Beauty and the Beast," from Thrilling Wonder Stories, April 1940.  The cover of this issue showed a giant reptile attacking Washington, D.C., and -- as was often the case -- the cover art came first and an author (Kuttner, this time) was assigned to write a story around it.  "Beauty and the Beast" was later reprinted several times, first in Terry Carr's Creatures from Beyond (1975), then in Michael Parry's The Rivals of King Kong:  A Rampage of Beasts (1978), then in Hank Davis' The Baen Big Book of Monsters (2014), and finally in The Watcher at the Door: The Early Henry Kuttner, Volume 2 (2016).
  • L. Ron Hubbard, "The Dangerous Dimension," from Astounding Science Fiction, July 1938.  Before Dianetics and Scientology, Hubbard was a reliable pulp writer who produced some very good and some mediocre fiction.  F. Orlin Tremaine, editor of Astounding, convinced Hubbard to try his hand at science fiction; this was his first SF story, although by the time it was published, John W. Campbell, Jr., had replaced Tremaine as editor.  Hubbard's large ego and mythomania has been subsumed by the Church of Scientology, which has been releasing his pulp stories in short, trade paperback editions; "The Dangerous Dimension" was reprinted in one such, The Professor Was a Thief (2009), and in the massive, thousand page-plus Stories from the Golden Age (2012).
  • A. E. van Vogt, "The Green Forest," from Astounding Science Fiction, June 1949.  This story eventually became chapters 14-16 of van Vogt's fix-up novel The War Against the Rull (1959).  The story itself was reprinted in the British paperback The Best of A. E. van Vogt (1974).
  • Isaac Asimov, "The Secret Sense," from Cosmic Stories, March 1941.  It "was my twelfth published story and I think it's lousy," Asimov has admitted.  The story had been "donated" to editor Donald A. Wollheim's magazine, and on advice from others in the field, Asimov went and asked payment for the tale; Wollheim paid Asimov $5, at a rate of $2.50 a word, telling Asimov that he was paying for Asimov's name, the only worthwhile part of the story.  Asimov included it in The Early Asimov or, Eleven Years of Trying (1972)
  • Ray Bradbury, "The Piper," from his fanzine Futuria Fantasia, Summer 1940, under the pen name Ron Reynolds.  Bradbury and his agent at the time, Julius Schwartz, supposedly sat down on a curb and revised the story for professional publication and the revision appeared in the February 1943 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories.  the revised version has been reprinted in Fantastic Story Magazine (Spring 1955) and Peter Haining's The Future Makers (1968),  Both versions were apparently reprinted in The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury:  A Critical Edition, Volume 1:  1938-1943 (2011).
  • Sam Moskowitz, "The Way Back," from Comet, January 1941.  Moskowitz writes that he personally submitted this story to editor F. Orlin Tremaine, who made him expand the story in order to leave no loose ends.  The story was reprinted in the Canadian magazine Uncanny Tales, February 1942.  It also appeared in Potugese, French, Dutch, and German translations.  Clunkiness, thy name is Moskowitz.
Ten stories and/or curiosities.  Not prime SF, but interesting.  Most written by authors before they perfected their craft.  Worth while?  I think so.

Thursday, April 26, 2018


She was known as "The Mother of the Blues."  Gertrude Pridgett was born on this day in either 1882 or 1886 and began  performing as Ma Rainey after her 1904 marriage to Will Rainey and the couple formed the Alabama Fun Makers Company before joining with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels in 1906.   the two were billed as "Black Face Song and Dance Comedians, Jubilee Singers [and] Cake Walkers."  A few years later, Ma Rainey was billed as "Mrs. Gertrude Rainey, our coon shouter."  These were not nice times to be black.

She began recording in 1923 and eventually recorded 94 titles between then and 1928, and soon her popularity reached beyond the South.  She retired in 1935 and died four years later of a heart attack.  She has been inducted into The Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and The Grammy Hall of Fame.  Her song "See See Rider Blues" has been added to the National Recording Registry.  In 1994 a postage stamp was issued commemorating her.

"Deep Moaning Blues"

"Trust No Man"

"Booze and Blues"

"See See Rider Blues"

"'Ma' Rainey's Black Bottom"

"Daddy Goodbye Blues"

"Bo-Weavil Blues"

"Jelly Bean Blues"

"Moonshine Blues"

"Louisiana Hoo Doo blues"

"Shave 'Em Dry Blues"


The classic radio program Suspense began in 1942 with a broadcast of John Dickson Carr's The Burning Court with Charlie Ruggles and Julie Hayden.  To follow that, the second episode (airing on June 24, 1942) was an adaptation of John Collier's "Wet Saturday," a classic story from The New Yorker and later collected in the author's Fancies and Goodnights.  These first two episodes set a template for quality for the 20-year run of the radio program.

It's a rainy Saturday and the Princey family was staying in, so they were home when the curate stopped by...and was killed by Millicent Princey because he had no interest in marrying her.  The head of the family, Frederick Princey, rightly does not want all the fuss and bother that comes with a murdered curate.  The question is how to get rid of the body, or, failing that, how to find someone else to blame.

The story -- with the same script adapted by Harold Medford -- was presented two further times:  on December 16, 1943 (starring Charles Laughton) and on March 20, 1948 (starring Dennis Hoey).    The original broadcast featured Clarence Derwent and was produced and direct by Charles Vanda.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Our grandson Mark turned 18 today.  Anyone who has followed this blog has at least an inkling about what an awesome person Mark is.

Mark is extremely personable.  Everyone likes loves him.  No one has ever said (or could ever say) a bad word about him, for he has a kind and open heart.

He also has a wicked sense of humor, often sarcastic, never hurtful.  His quick wit is matched with a sly, knowing smile.

He is constantly surprising us with his determination, whether on the soccer field, playing percussion, or while running.  Since moving to Florida, Mark's school schedule has put running in the forefront; he regularly competes on his school's cross country team as well as with a number of races locally -- usually a 5K or 10k, or with a half marathon.  He did his first marathon at age 16 and is gearing up for his second in November. 

Mark doesn't realize just how smart he is.  His weak spot is math.  He can be very good at it but it bores him.

He loves animals and the outdoors.  Swimming, not so much.  And he's not into cars -- there are far too many things out there that are more interesting.

Mark is also (pay attention here, ladies) extremely good-looking, but he is innately shy.  So girls, if you are interested, you will probably have to work at it.

Christina and Walt had a hard time coming with a name for him.  They were torn between "Mark" and "Thomas" (almost every other name was nixed by one of the other).  They finally decided on "Mark Thomas" -- an easy decision but, as first-time parents, they hadn't considered it.  "Mark Thomas" also happened to be the name of Kitty's cousin, who was killed by a drunk driver going the wrong way on a road.  That Mark Thomas was also a special kind of person -- sweet, good-natured, with never an unkind thought to anyone (except Nixon, he hated Nixon).   He could go anywhere in the country and one of his friends would put him up for the night.  I see a lot of Kitty's cousin in my grandson.  He's a person who just makes everything better.

Eighteen years ago, Mark had a very difficult birth and we came very close to losing him.  There were struggles with the birth trauma but he eventually conquered all of them.  And along the way he continued amazing us with every thing he did.

I keep thinking that if things had gone another way eighteen years ago, how gray the world would be now without this very special young man shining like a beacon.

Happy birthday, Mark.  We love you.


Joe Walsh.


What do you get when you cross a rabbit with a Rottweiler?
Just the Rottweiler.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Happy 76th birthday, Barbra!

Here she is with Judy Garland.


Edmund Lowe played newspaper columnist David Chase in the short-lived Dumont Network television series Front Page Detective.  Although the show ran from July 6, 1951 to November 1953, it was off the air for a full year during that time, producing only 46 episodes.  The show took its name from the popular true-crime magazine of the day and its stories were based on articles in that magazine.

David Chase aided police in solving particularly difficult mysteries, such as that in "Murder Rides the Night Train," (linked below) in which a racketeer's (Lyle Talbot) enemies try to stop his train to Washington to testify before a Congressional committee -- permanently.  Also appearing in the cast were John Sebastian, John Harmon, Pamela Blake (billed as Pam Maguire), 2' 11" Angelo Rossitto, and Pat Gleason.  Arnold Wester, who helmed more than half the episodes of Front Page Detective, directed "Murder Rides the Night Train" from a script by Herbert Moulton and pulp legend Robert Leslie Bellem.

From June 15, 1951, enjoy this episode of Front Page Detective.

Monday, April 23, 2018


Back when John Mellancamp was John Cougar, before he was John Cougar Mellancamp and then John Mellancamp again


Openers:  As I fortuned to take my voyage into Thessaly, about certaine affaires which I had to doe (for there mine auncestry by my mothers side inhabiteth, descended of the line of that most excellent person Plutach, and of Sextus the Philosopher his Nephew,  which is to us a great honour) and after that by much travell and great paine I had passed over the great mountaines and slipperie vallies, and had ridden through the cloggy fallowed fields, perceived that my horse did waxe somewhat slow, and to the intent likewise I might repose and strengthen myself (being weary with riding) I lighted off my horse, and wiping the sweat from every part of his body, I unbrideled him, and walked him softly in my hand, to the end he might pisse, and ease himselfe of his weariness and travell: and while hee went grazing freshly in the field (casting his head somewhat aside, as a token of rejoycing and gladnesse) I perceived a little before me two companions riding, and so I overtaking them made the third.  -- Lucius Apuleius, The Golden Asse, 2nd Century AD (exact date uncertain); translated by William Adington, 1566

I've Been Reading:  My FFB this week was Six-Gun Gorilla, a fifteen-part serial from a weekly British boy's magazine in 1939.  According to Todd Mason, there have been two comic book adaptations of the book; I'll have to get my hands on them.  This week I read two good mysteries:  Ken Bruen's The Ghosts of Galway and Mickey Spillane's The Last Stand.  The Bruen was another excellent entree in his Jack Taylor series, taking Jack into further depths of heartbreaking loss.  The Spillane celebrated the author's centennial and included two short novels, one from the mid-fifties and one being the last full manuscript he wrote.  Good stuff, and a tip of the porkpie hat to Max Allan Collins and Charles Ardai for making this book happen.  Sticking with mysteries, I also read a manga version of Sherlock:  The Blind Banker, based on an episode of the Steven Moffet/Mark Gatiss created television show starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.  The story was written by Steve Thompson and the art was by someone who signed himself/herself "Jay."  Originally published in Japan, the panels are filled with Japanese sound effect.  Also, Martin Freeman's nose is gloriously overdrawn. Finally, I read A Year at the Races, by Robert P. Parker and Joan Parker, a coffee table book about the world of horse racing.  A very minor part of the Parker oeuvre.

Tough News:  Thursday my daughter was diagnosed with breast and lymphatic cancer.  She's 45, has been a widow of 12 years, and has two daughters.  We circled the wagons and Kitty, Christina, Jessamyn, and her two daughters have been meeting with doctors (I cowered in the waiting rooms) to be sure we are all on the same page.  Coming very soon will be a double mastectomy, radiation and chemo, plus at least a year of meds.  The cancer is one of the more aggressive types but also one of the most treatable.  She has an excellent team of doctors and the hospital is highly rated.  Jessamyn is in for a tough time, but her spirit and determination are good.  About the cancer, she says,"I'm going to kick that shit to the ground!"  She has started a remarkable blog to detail her experiences (Life Is a Roller Coaster at  Our current and (hopefully) on-going status:  concerned, not fearful or panicked.

Schaudenfreude:  Trump, Comey, Hannity...Does this make me a bad person?

Question:  I watch The Gorilla, a 1939 B movie.  How were the Ritz Brothers ever a thing?

Holes:  A NASA Arctic flyover has captured an image of strange circular holes in the Arctic ice which have scientists befuddled.  No one has ever seen anything similar before.  The holes are in an area of thin ice and could be caused by warming, but no one is sure.  My advice:  Approach carefully, very carefully.  I've seen a number of horror movies about things hidden in ice.

Earth Day:  Yesterday was Earth Day.  Here's a poem for children (and others) by Jane Yolen:


I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
Each blade of grass,
Each honey tree,
Each bit of mud,
And stick and stone
Is blood and muscle,
Skin and bone.
And just as I need every bit...
Of me to make my body fit
So Earth needs
Grass and stone and tree
And things that grow here
That's why we
Celebrate this day.
That's why across
The world we say:
As long as life,
As dear,
As free,
I am the Earth,
And the me.

Florida Man:  A Florida Man was arrested this week for breaking into Taylor Swift's Soho digs, using her shower, and sleeping in her bed.  Swift was not in the townhouse at the time.  No word on whether he sang "Look What You Made Me do" while being handcuffed.

Endings:  Today, April 23, marks the end of the world according to conspiracy theorists.  The world will end with either a) the arrival of Planet X, or b) the second coming of Christ.  So better not make plans for later in the week.

But, wait!  Self-styled Christian numerologist David Meade has said, "Not so."  According to Meade, the end of the world won't come until sometime between May and December.  "Nibiru" (Planet X) "is here and the earth will be prepared for the next event on its calendar."  But not today. So you can make plans for later in the week.

But wait!  Meade has been wrong before -- numerous times!  So what to do?  Do you RSVP for Saturday's party or not?  Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, April 22, 2018


Here Kate talks about her Barbara Holloway mysteries, the book industry, and e-books.

Lord, she will be missed.


Roy Rogers.

Saturday, April 21, 2018


Malvina Reynolds.

Happy Earth Day!


In 1953 British publisher C. Arthur Pearson ventured into science fiction with his terribly titles Tit-Bits line.  Nineteen 64-page science fiction paperbacks were published from 1953 to 1955 by some of the most prolific British SF writers of the time -- E. C. Tubb, "John Rackham," John Russell Fearn, and Francis G. Rayer among them, most writing under pseudonyms.  At the same time Pearson also published Tit-Bits Science Fiction Comics, created (and mostly drawn by) legendary artist Ron Turner.  The comic book line, alas, was around for only six issues; a seventh had been prepared but was later issued only in French.

Tit-Bits Science Fiction Comics offered decent stories, great art, and truly alien aliens.  The first issue offers three stories:
  • "The Dome of Survival" - Due to "a process of electrostatic decomposition," the natives of Pluto are losing their air.  Ships were sent out to see if one of the inner planets could be colonized.  No viable planets were found.  Earth itself was just a pile of molten rock, a long way from becoming the verdant planet we know.  Faced with certain doom, the Plutonians sent eight robots throughout the solar system, one each to orbit a planet...and wait.  In the meantime, the Plutonians built the Dome of Survival, with would house five selected Plutonians (or, Tegali, in their own language) in suspended animation while the rest of the planet died.  Flash forward to our future.  Mankind is about to build its first space station and spacemen Rex Ripley and Max Henchman are bringing materials to place in orbit when they are contacted by the Plutonian robot.  Rex, Max, and their space ship are kidnapped by the robot and are rushed to Pluto, where the robot releases the five Tegali from their suspension.  The Tegali are basically giant six-armed starfish, where the arms can roll up (fruit roll-up-style).  They are immensely strong and scientifically advanced...and they are determined to destroy humanity and claim Earth for their own.  Can Rex and Max foil their evil plans?
  • "The Inner World" - Taking a page from Ray Cummings' Worlds-within-Worlds motif.  Professor Elmo Cately has invented a ship capable of shrinking into an atom, where Cately believes a miniature universe exists.  This particular atom is located in the graphite point of a pencil.  Communication with Cately is lost as he passes an electron "the size of the moon."  Captain Ace Diamond of the Interplanetary Investigation Bureau is sent. with two crewmen, to find out what happened to Cately.  They end up on the subatomic planet Zepos and are met by a humanoid-ish alien with an ant-like head and a disintegrating ray.  Zepos is afraid that the graphite pencil point which holds their universe might be destroyed.  To prevent that from happening, the planet is sending out a space army to destroy humanity.  How can Ace and the gang stop this foul plot?  And can they still find and rescue Cately?  And when all is said and done, can they destroy the submicroscopic universe?  I mean, really?  A whole universe of sentient beings?  SPOILER ALERT!  Of course they blowing up the tiny piece of graphite with an atomic bomb!  overkill, much?
  • "Escape from Varl!" - The ruler of the planet Varl is the evil Skor, who has enslaved humans to work in his uranium mines under the brutal supervision of Skor's Tigermen -- giant striped humanoids with Sphinx-like heads.  One slave, Lestos, manages to to escape and free a number of the slaves.  They manages to get to a ship and pilot to an unexplored planet "on the other side of the heavens -- far from Varl!"  They are met by a T-Rex type monster (with longer arms, an ovoid head, bulging eyes, long forked tongue...and not really reptilian).  Before the monster can eat them, another monster appears and they fight to the death.  Because the monsters are so big, Lestos figures they must be the only two on the planet.  (Lestos is a little short in the brain department.)  They build a city, defeat another monster, and decide to go back and free all the slaves of Varl.  Phew!

P.S.  The remaining five issues are also available st  Check them out.

Friday, April 20, 2018


Six-Gun Gorilla, written anonymously (perhaps by more than one author from internal evidence), 1939

Gorillas are pretty neat, especially when they roam the wild west, packing heat and out for revenge.

This particular gorilla also has a pretty neat gorilla name...O'Neil.  Well, it's better than Konga.

Six-Gun Gorilla first appeared as a fifteen-part serial in the British boy's magazine The Wizard, beginning with the March 18, 1939 issue.  Don't be frightened because the story was written for boys almost eighty years ago.  While the language is somewhat simplified and the story tends to have one of two sentence paragraphs, there's enough blood and humor (whether wittingly or not) to satisfy even the most jaded gorilla-phile.  I'm surprised an excerpt did not make it into Rick Klaw's essential 2013 anthology Apes of Wrath.

We open with Bart Masters, an aged gold miner and hermit, deciding that it was time to retire.  Over the years he had accumulated about ten thousand pounds (pounds, not dollars -- this is a British magazine, remember?) of gold dust and nuggets -- enough for him to spend the rest of his life in ease.  Although Masters is a hermit, he does have a partner, of sorts.  O'Neil, the giant gorilla, had been by Masters' side for eight years, ever since he was purchased in San Francisco from a sailor.  Masters trained the young gorilla, who grew to be devoted to him.  Masters even taught O'Neil how to fire a gun -- an act made somewhat difficult because the giant ape fingers could not fit in the trigger guard.  True, O'Neil was a very poor shot, but the gorilla had learned the fundamentals.

That evening, with sacks of gold on the table, Masters slept in his cot.  O'Neil slept in a corner, chained to the wall -- the chain being a remnant of the two's early days together, although by now it was used out of habit more than anything else.  Quietly, four figures came into the cabin.  It was the Strawhan gang, four of the most vicious outlaws in the West, led by Tutt Strawhan.  In a few short minutes, Masters was dead and O'Neil was knocked unconscious by a bullet that grazed his skull.

O'Neil woke to find his friend and master dead.  Still chained, he tore the chain from the wall, taking part of the wall with him.  His only thought was to avenge himself on the four outlaws.  Awkwardly at first, he strapped on Masters six-gun and, with a bandolier across his chest, set out following the scent of the Strawhan Gang.

O'Neil's efforts often seemed to little, too late, but he soon avenged himself on the gang one by one -- and in a bloody manner I might add.  Along the way, he destroyed a saloon, fought an enraged bull buffalo, battled Redskins, and more...a trail of vengeance that spun over forty-five chapters.

Not great literature, but Six-Gun Gorilla is an interesting read, not only because of its unique hero and way out plot, but because its fun to see British pulp writers attempt to write an authentic western.

The complete serial is available at Gutenburg Australia and probably else where on the web.  Check it out.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


Bobby Hebb was basically a one-hit wonder with this song.

I saw him person only once in the way-long-ago when he opened for the Beatles.  My major memory of that performance was his deer-in-the-headlights look when he accidentally dropped his mike.  He recovered quickly and danced widdershins around the stage as if it were a part of his act, then calmy picked up the mike and continued with the song.


George Valentine, fresh out of the service, had an idea to make money.  He started with an ad:

     Personal notice:  Danger's my stock in trade.  If the job's too tough for you to handle, you've
     got a job for me.  George Valentine.

It worked well enough to maintain Let George Do It for eight years and 416 episodes on the radio, from 1946 to 1954.  In the beginning, the show added a humorous sit-com feel to its private eye background, but -- over the years -- it evolved into a hard-boiled mystery program.

I'm not sure exactly why the program is not better known.  It's star, Bob Bailey, went on to star in the much better-known Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.  Yet, of the two, Let George Do It had a longer run life.  Ah, the winds of fate...

"The show is carried by the performance of George Valentine by Bob Bailey.  Valentine doesn't easily fit in with gruff hard boiled detectives like Marlowe and Spade, nor is he a self-assured intellectual like Sherlock Holmes or Nero Wolfe.  Valentine is good natured and personable, but he carries himself like a poker player.  Valentine plays it close to the vest, then at the end of the episode when he comes up with the solution, you realize he's been carrying a full house."  -- Adam Graham

Valentine's secretary/assistant is Claire Brooks (sometimes referred to as "Brooksie"), played by  veteran actress Frances Robinson.  Occasional members of the cast were Claire's kid brother Sonny (played by Eddie Robinson) and elevator man Caleb (played by Joseph Kearns). 

Let George Do It was produced by Owen and Pauline Vinson and directed by Don Clark.  Scripts were written by David Victor and Jackson Gillis.  John Heistand served as announcer.

The opening episode, "The First Client," was produced as an audition tape on May 14, 1946; the actual pilot program aired on September 20, 1946, on the Don Lee-Mutual Broadcasting Network. (Some sources give the air date as October 18, 1946.)  For this one episode, Shirley Mitchell appeared as Claire; Frances Robinson began her run with the second episode.

George's first client is a famous writer who tells the fledgling detective that someone is trying to murder him, then collapses on the spot.  Things get really interesting when the bopdy disappears.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018


They are called seagulls because they fly over the sea.  If they flew over a bay, then they would be bagels.


Music for today and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow...

How can you not be in love with Amy?


Our sweet little blondie girl turns 20 today -- two decades of awesomeness!

She brings light to our world.

The poet Konjit Berhane described her perfectly in this poem:

Amy, we love and always.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Today's the day!

Every year I solemnly vow to do my taxes early and every year finds me doing them on April 15th.  Well, not his year!  This year Tax Day is today!  Woot!  And I did my taxes early!  Yesterday, on the 16th.  I am so proud of myself.

So, in celebration...

Schoolhouse Rock - Tax Man Max:

Gene Autry - I Paid My Income Tax Today:

Johnny Cash - After Taxes:

Johnny Paycheck - Me and the IRS:

Cheap Trick - Taxman, Mr. Thief:

Republican Tax Cut Song:

...and, of course, The Beatles - Taxman:


If there was an overlooked film that was for the birds, this was it.

A review by Trilby 1989 on Internet Archive explains it much better than I could:

"So Cool It Hurts!
"Welcome to Chirpendale, where life is a lark until the raven mad Black Menace swoops down upon the tweet citizenry and brings normal life to a screeching halt.  The role of protecting the roost falls upon our hero, poor but hardworking young taxi driver Bill Singer.  Madly in love with hotel heiress Miss Coo.  Bill must save her and all of Chirpendale from the hateful old crow - twice.  It's a chippy shot for clever, grit-in-the-craw lovebird Bill!
"Swallow 'a few' droppings of bird puns, empty the bird-seed from your pockets and get into the fly-by-night circus, and duck when you see the Black Menace - it's a hoot!"

Based on an idea by entertainment personality Ken Murray (who also produced the film), Bill and Coo was directed by Dean Riesner (his only directing stint) from a screenplay by Riesner and royal Foster. 

Ken Murray, Elizabeth Walters, and George Burton provided the prologue, while the acting came courtesy of Burton's Birds provided most of the acting chops, although Curly Twiford's Jimmy the Crow had the villain role as The Black Menace.  An uncredited Pinto Colvig, "the Dean of Hollywood Voicemen" (perhaps best known as the creator of Bozo the clown, as well as the original voices for Goofy, Pluto, Grumpy, Sleepy, and Popeye's Bluto), sang for the film.

This one-of-a-kind novelty film is charming.  It also holds the distinction of having the smallest set in movie history -- a village mounted on a 30' by 15' table.  Bill and Coo received an Honorary Academy award in 1948.

Gather your family, flock together, and enjoy.

Monday, April 16, 2018


Cheryl Wheeler.  I heard her do this on Mountain Stage this weekend on public radio.  I had forgotten how good this song is.


Openers:  Mr. Harrington shivered.
     People usually did when Professor Herschel W. Giddens turned upon them with the full battery of his brain, which, beneath a number eight-and-a-quarter, neat bowler hat, topped a wizened body of five feet four.
     -- Achmed Abdullah, "A Full House"  (People's Favorite Magazine, February 10, 1919)

I've Been Reading:  The only novel I read this week was Edgar Rice Burroughs' I Am a Barbarian, a historical novel about Caligula and not Burroughs' usual fare.  The book was written in 1941 and then shelved, appearing in print in 1967, years after the author's death.  Other than that, for the most part, it's been a graphic novel/comic strip compilation week.  Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon:  1948 reprints the second year of the comic strip; the book actually runs from late December 1947 through to February 1949.  Interesting, but the strips were cramped and sometimes hard to read; also, some strips were repeated due, I assume, to a copy editor's oversight.  Jason Aaron's Southern Bastards, Volume 2:  Gridiron (with art by Jason Latour) is a gritty crime story about a Southern football coach.  If you liked Aaron's series Scalped, you'll like this one.  Charlaine Harris' Grave Sight was adapted by William Harms from the first book in the Harper Connelly series.  Harper is a young woman who can "see" how people die -- a gift that can lead to deadly consequences.  The Silence of Our Friends, written by Mark Long and Jim Demonakos, is a searing look at race relations in 1968 Houston, based on events from Mark Long's childhood.  The artwork is by Nate Powell, who drew Representative John Lewis' three-part graphic novel autobiography March.  His work is just as powerful here.  Highly recommended.  I also read three Batman GNs:  Matt Wagner's Faces, Doug Moench's Hong Kong (with art by Tony Wong), and Frank Miller's classic The Dark Knight Returns.  Lastly, and moving away from graphic novels, I read Robert B. Parker's Spenser's Boston -- a book of photographs by Kasho Kugamai with a framing device by Parker wherein Spenser and Susan take Rachel Wallace on a one-day exploration of Boston.  The book is also padded out with quotes from various Spenser novels.
     On deck I have Mickey Spillane's The Last Stand, Ken Bruen's The Ghosts of Galway, Robert B. Parker and Joan Parker's A Day at the Races, and August Derleth's non-fiction look at The Milwaukee Road.  I wonder how many I'll read this week before something brighter and shinier grabs my atten----Look!  a squirrel!

The Amazing Mr. Pence:  Sarah Sanders released a photo of President Trump in the Situation Room while the Syrian air strikes were going on.  I believe this was an effort to show us how Trump was hands-on on top of the situation.  Also in the photograph was Mike Pence, who, at the same time, was in Latin America.  I did not know he had that superpower.  I wonder if he told Mommy.

On This Day:  In 1818, the Senate ratified the Rush-Bagot Treaty, establishing a boundary with Canada.  No mention of a wall...Also, in Dodge City, Kansas, in 1881, Bat Masterson fought his last gun battle.  Two men had threatened Masterson's brother Jim and that would not stand.  Bat accosted the two and they ran behind to local jail and began firing shots.  More people joined in the shooting fray on each side.  The battle went on until one of the two men -- a drunk named Updegraff -- was wounded.  Bat was fined $8 and he and his brother were allowed to leave Dodge City.  Three years later, Masterson dipped his toe into journalistic waters by starting a newspaper in Dodge City.  It failed after one issue.  Nearly two decades later, he returned to journalism with a thrice-weekly sports column in The New York Morning Telegraph, running from 1903 until Bat's death in 1921...Today is also the birthday of John Millington Synge (born 1871), the Irish playwright and poet.  He died from Hodgkin's disease less than a month before his 38th birthday, a death that might have been prefigured by this poem:

                                                       TO THE OAKS OF GLENCREE

My arms round you, and I lean
Against you, while the lark
Sings over us, and golden lights, and green
Shadows are on your bark.

There'll come a season when you'll stretch
Black boards to cover me:
Then in Mount Jerome I will lie, poor wretch,
With worms eternally.

Mellow Mice:  When hundred of pounds of marijuana went missing from a police station in Argentina, local police blamed mice.  The cops were fired when experts stated that the mice woud not be interested in eating the weed.  In the meantime, reports are coming in about gangs of mellow mice mugging pedestrians for their Twinkies.

NASCAR News:  Because of a stuck door Bubba Watson was stuck on a bus just before a race and had to exit through the toilet.  Any jokes I might have made have already been made by Watson himself, know, NASCAR.

In Pop Culture News:  A Kardashian did something, or maybe something was done to a Kardashian.  Who knows?  Who cares?

Boston Marathon Today:  Five years after the bombing, Boston remains strong.  Best wishes to all those who run.

Sunday, April 15, 2018


Isaac Asimov with his only appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, October 21, 1980.  Asimov had just published the second volume of his autobiography, In Joy Still Felt (his 221st book).



A little bit of mountain gospel from Frank Proffitt.

Saturday, April 14, 2018


The Beau Brummels.


Super Detective Library was a British digest-sized comic book published twice a month from 1953 to 1960, alternating a detective story with a science fiction story for much of its run.  Many of the early issues featured stories based on characters from popular authors -- Leslie Charteris, Edgar Wallace, Sax Rohmer, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Graham Greene, John Creasey, Victor Canning, and others.  Most issues had original stories from anonymous American, Canadian, and British writers and artists (among them Harry Harrison, Bill Lacey, Ron Embleton, and Ron Turner),  although some of the later issues featured reprints from the Rip Kirby comics strip.  Characters created for the series included Rick Ransom, Lesley Shane, Special Agent John Steel, Buck Ryan, and Dirk Rogers.

"The Men from the Stars" features "Rod Collins -- Agent in Space!" as he manages to foil an extraterrestial invasion.  As we open, Rod Collins is a test pilot flying a plane "affectionately known as Nuclear Nellie" when he ordered to fly the top-secret plane to America's Mount Arapaho, home of the world's largest telescope.  A "comet" is approaching Earth, but it is not acting like a normal comet.  Rod is ordered to take Nuclear Nellie and photograph the approaching object.  It is not a spoiler to report that the comet was actually an alien spaceship.

A large saucer-shaped disk is released from the alien ship.  It hovers closely over a small hamlet; when it rises, the hamlet is gone!  Earth's defenses are powerless against the invaders and their machines.  The aliens are using their advanced technology to capture villages, machines, and other spoils of war -- all the while leaving a path of destruction.

A new nuclear plane is developed and Rod is tasked with flying it but the plane -- and Rod -- is captured by the aliens and brought to the mother ship, where Rod discovers that the aliens had not only attacked Earth but had also attacked other, unknown, planets.

How can Rod defeat the aliens and free their human hostages?

Find out when you click on the link and enjoy a great tale from the early 1950s and it superb artwork.

Friday, April 13, 2018




I Am a Barbarian by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1967)

In 1941, Edgar Rice Burroughs appeared to low on originality.  The Tarzan series was in a slump, his latest series (Carson Napier of Venus, begun in 1935) lacked the flare of his Barsoom and Pellucidar novels, and his next series -- the ever-so-brief Podola/"Farthest Star" tales -- never went anywhere.  Then, too, Burroughs was becoming immersed in his duties as a reporter and war correspondent.  Most likely influenced by Robert Grave's I, Claudius Burroughs wrote his second historical novel (it would be poor sportsmanship to call it I, Barbarian), a sweeping epic about the life of Caligula as viewed from the eyes of a slave.

Opinions on this book widely differ.  Some consider it one of his best novels; some fell it is pure dreck.  Unquestionably, it is the most un-Burroughs book that Burroughs ever wrote.

The book is written from the viewpoint of the great grandson of a fierce chief of a small tribe in Briton.   By age eight, our narrator was driving war chariots into battle for this tribe.  A reversal of fortunes caused the tribe to abandon Briton, crossing the channel in an attempt to conquer Belgium.  This attempt did not pan out and the entire surviving members of the tribe were captured and passed around for two years before becoming the property of the Roman general Germanicus (nephew and adopted son of the Emperor Tiberius) and his cruel wife Agrippina.  ("Agrippina was a bitch," we soon learn.)   For some reason, the pair's spoiled four-year-old child Caligula liked our narrator.  Agrippina named our narrator Britannicus Caligulae Servus; we never learn his original name.

Germanicus and his legions were based on the Rhine.  Caligula often roamed the camp and was well-liked by the soldiers, who called him "Little Boots."  As he grew older, the spoiled and petulant child became meaner and began to exhibit the insanity and the epilepsy that ran through the Julian bloodline.  Despite being a slave, Brittanicus remained unwavering in his dignity and pride, refuring ever to bend the knee.  Early on, when Claudius spat at him, Brittanicus slapped the boy hard across the face -- something that should have had been crucified on the dread Via Flaminia.  Britannicus avoided that fate then but grew up in the knowledge that his life depended on the caprice of Caligula and his half-mad mother.

As the years went by, Caligula grew madder and crueler, taking delight in the pain, torture, and death of others.  In this he was in good company -- each of the descendants of Caesar vied to be the most corrupt.  The jockeying for power in Rome, and for who would eventually succeed Tiberius, led to a long bloody trail of murder and betrayal.  And then there was one:  Caligula, who became emperor in 37 AD.

During the first year of his rule, Caligula appeared to be a good ruler and was well-liked by his people.  Then he had a long epileptic seizure, emerging to plunge Rome into a sadistic and debauched hell.

The first two-thirds of the novel centered on Britannicus, his experiences in Rome and with Agrippina, Caligula, and the entire tainted descendants of Julius Caesar.  We follow him through his growth, his meeting and falling for a fifteen-year-old slave girl, and his stint as a champion chariot racer.  Unlike most Burroughs' heroes, Britannicus does not have much action and show his heroism only twice in the novel.  What we do get is a semi-detailed view of ancient Rome from the eyes of one who hates Rome and all things Roman.

The final third of the book concentrates on Caligula's horrific four-year reign with almost a catalog-like listing of his atrocities.  Burroughs goes over Caligula's depravity with an almost prudish-like sensibility.

As flawed as it is, I enjoyed the book.  Because the novel is so unlike Burroughs, it may be one of his best books.  But it would have been much better if the author had not shelved it, but had bothered to complete a final draft.

Thursday, April 12, 2018


From the days of the British Invasion, here's Gerry and the Pacemakers.


Since this is radio you don't get a chance to see Poirot's glorious mustaches, but you do get to hear Harold Huber as the famous Belgian sleuth as he solves "The Adventure of the Money Mad Ghouls."

What is behind the recent series of grave robbing?

From September 13, 1945.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band with some toe-tapping music.


I was going to post a joke about a broken pencil.  But really, there's no point to it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


It's been a while since I posted a car song.  Here's Hank Sundown & The Bopsters.


You say you want a bad jungle flick?  You say you want Buster Crabbe go against the Nazis?  You say you'll settle for a film shot at the Santa Anita Park Race Track Botanical Gardens rather than Africa?  You say you want a white jungle goddess in the form of famous striptease artist Ann Corio (who gets top billing over Buster Crabbe)?  You say you want a no-talent chimpanzee companion named Greco who does nothing to lighten the already bad script?  You say you want to see the younger brother of famous character actor Guy Kibbee act?

Well, lucky you!  I've got all that for you in Jungle Siren, a 1942 stinker directed by the legendary B movie king Sam Newfield (Queen of Burlesque, The Monster Maker, The Terror of Tiny Town).

Buster plays Captain Gary Hart, who -- with Sergeant Mike Jenkins (Paul Bryer, who had a 45-year career as a bit player in films and television, such as Card Player #1 in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) is attached to the Free French during World War II.  The two are sent to a small African village to build an airfield, but the natives are restless.  The natives are controlled by the evil chief Selangi (Jess Lee Brooks, Two-Gun Man from Harlem, Dark Manhattan, Drums of the Congo), who, in turn, is controlled by a married pair of nogoodnik Nazis.  Arno Frey (Arizona Gang Busters, Secret Agent X-9, They Came to Blow Up America) and Evelyn Wahl (who had only one other credited role, in Parachute Nurse, also 1942).

Enter Ann Corio as Kuhlaya, the Jungle Siren -- a white girl brought up by natives after Chief Selangi killed her parents.  Kuhlaya is a female Tarzan and it is she who has that miserable chimp Greco.  She is watched over by kindly Doctor Harrigan (Milton Kibbee, who surprisingly had three times the film credits than his more famous brother).

Anyway, you know what's going to happen and who is going to prevail over whom, so...

"You can't go wrong when you see Ann in a sarong, in a back-to-nature romance, she meets the Perfect Man -- and life begins for both in the African jungle!"


Monday, April 9, 2018


For those of a certain age (i.e., those approaching geezerdom), this song may evoke memories.  The younger whippersnappers out there may just scratch their heads and say, "Huh?"

Here's Tom Leher.


Openers:  "Some years back I came here and heard him preach, and I didn't like him.  Stayed after one of his sermons and talked to him about, how shall I say, being more Christ-like and less Joshua-like, since being Christians, we weren't supposed to be worshipping the old ways, but the new ways of Jesus.  You see, he talked the Old Testament and tossed in lizard men from time to time."
     "Say what?" Leonard said.
-- Joe R. Lansdale, Jackrabbit Smile

I've Been Reading:  Most of the week was spent dipping into 2004's The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker, a massive, over-sized, 600+ page compilation of cartoons from 1924 to 2004 -- the book only, not the two accompanying CDs containing over 64,000 cartoons.  It's surprising how many of the cartoons have held up (and how many times I laughed).  George Price, George Booth, Gardner Rea, Chas Addams, Roz Chast, Charles Barsotti, Peter Arno, Gahan Wilson, Saul Steinburg, and -- of course James Thurber...they are all there, and many others.  The original hardcover (there was also a paperbound edition) cover price in 2004 was $60 and Abebooks currently lists 258 copies ranging from $2.95 (hardbound, in acceptable condition) to $408.83 (in very good condition), plus shipping.  I got my copy, in mint condition, for $1.50 at a thrift store.  This week I also finished Manga Shakespeare:  King Lear, a graphic novel re-imagining the old British King as an Algonquin chief during the French and Indian War.  An interesting take and my FFB for last Friday.  I also finished Sarah Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes, a domestic thriller that takes a surprising turn into fantasy and horror.  I also read Bill Pronzini's The Bag of Tricks Affair (a Carpenter and Quincannon mystery set in 1890's San Francisco) and Joe R. Lansdale's latest Hap and Leonard novel, Jackrabbit Smile (quoted from above).  Good reads, both.

Sad and Glad:  This week we heard from Kitty's Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Don, both in their 90s and living the good life in Coeur d'Alene.  Their granddaughter Serena, whom we had never met, had just passed away after a long bout with cancer.  She was in her forties, married, with a child.  We could hear the pain of the loss shrieking from the the ink on Charlotte's note.  Cancer is a vile, indiscriminate evil and the pain it leaves behind is thoughtless and cruel.
     A few days later we heard from Kitty's niece Sarah, who is now engaged to be married.  Huzzah!  Sarah is a bright, funny, and thoughtful woman who is a joy to be with, notwithstanding the fact that she is a die-hard Republican.  (She is one of the few people who can out-snark me and I love her for it.)  Her fiance is a genuinely good guy and they should have a great life together.
     These two events got me thinking about Kitty's father, who passed away almost eighteen years ago from pancreatic cancer, just days before his first great-grandchild (Mark) was born.  He would have been tickled pink by Mark and proud of the young man he has grown up to be.  My father, who died almost forty years ago and never got to see his grandchildren grow up, would have been the same.  The circle of life continues, singing its sad and joyful song.

Blankets Hugs:  A Canadian friend of one of our close friends has started a Canada-wide project in response to last Friday's horrific Humbolt Broncos junior hockey team bus crash that killed at least fifteen people and injured more than a dozen others.  Michele Kane of Winnipeg is a member of the Facebook group Canadian Crocheters.  She put out a call to its more than 1500 members to help make blankets fro the families of the bus passengers.  The response has been so great that she now hopes to provide a blanket for everyone effected by the accident, including the tractor trailer driver, first responders, and others.  "It's a warm hug, from strangers really, but fellow Canadians. Just to say that we're thinking about you, we're here for you, and here's a hug from us,"she said.  Each participating member of the Facebook group will complete a blanket square in yellow and green (the Humbolt Broncos colors) and will include a note from the maker saying where the square was made, along with any thoughts or prayers for the recipient.  It takes forty-two squares to make a blanket.  The individual squares will be sent to Kane, who will have a small group of crocheters assemble them into blankets.  All blankets will be completed and ready to be delivered by the end of this month.  "This is a small thing for us to make a square, it doesn't take very long..." (Each square takes about an hour to make --)  "... but it means a lot."
     Hats off to these Canadians.  It reminds me of the days immediately after 9-11 before the neo-cons pushed an anti-Muslim agenda, when Americans would go up to Muslims on the street and ask it they were okay, if they felt safe.  You know, the good old days when America did not define someone by their race or religion.  (Well, actually and sadly, we almost always did.  Ask the Blacks, the Jews, the Irish, the Chinese, the Cambodians, the Mexicans, or most anyone else.  But in those very few days after 9-11, we did show our better selves to the world by standing up to hatred and caring.)

Faster, Pussycat, Kill, Kill:  Since Florida launched a new high-speed train in January, it has struck and killed four people, the latest yesterday.  Three other people have been hit and survived.  At the moment it appears the victims did not heed safety warnings, although it could be that the safety warnings are inadequate.  Is this an example of the Darwin Awards in action or of the Peter Principle?  Ah, progress...

Copycat:  I have watched all four episodes of the new CBS show Instinct and I am less than impressed.  Starring the talented Alan Cumming, the show sounded like it might have legs, but it proved to be totally imitative and boring.  How totally imitative, you say?  Well. the third episode ripped off a 2009 episode of Bones.  Michael Rausch, the series creator (from a book by James Patterson and Howard Roughan), as well as show runner, issued a somewhat dubious (to me) apology.  The script writer, Christopher Ambrose, has been in the game since 2001 and has written at least 32 previous television episodes, including four episodes for Bones.  Ambrose's script may have been a case what is called cryptomnesia, but the the fact that it aired without someone raising a flag is disturbing.  For a more in-depth look (and a description of cryptomnesia), click on this link:

The Good Days: "The last execution  of women for political offenses took place in the year 1685.  One of these, Mrs. Alicia Lisle, gave friendly shelter to two fugitive rebels after the battle of Sedgemoor.  Judge Jeffries, having caused her to be found guilty, sentenced her to be burnt alive.  a petition procured for her the less terrible doom of death by the axe.  The other victim ,who was tried a few days later, was Elizabeth Gaunt, who had assisted one Burton, concerned in the Rye House Plot, to escape from justice.  Afterwards, to screen himself, he basely betrayed his preserver, and appeared at principal witness at her trial.  The hapless woman was burnt alive."  Famous Crimes Past and Present, Volume 1 (1903), edited by Harold Furniss
     The same issue reprinted an anti-capital punishment poem by "W. W. W." from September 13, 1873.  The last two lines of the poem are:  "Shame on the laws that boast as their last hope/A palsied hangman and a yielding rope!"

Be Afraid.  Be Very Afraid:  Homeland Security wants to compile a list of reporters, bloggers, and "media influencers."  Jeez, Louise.

Sunday, April 8, 2018


In 1890 George Newnes launched The Strand, one of the most influential magazines of it times.  It published most of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, as well as many other detective tales.  Black Mask was started in 1920 by H. L. Mencken (The Sage of Baltimore) & George Jean Nathan as a general fiction magazine to help support financially The Smart Set, their "important" magazine.  Mencken and Nathan jumped ship after eight issues, and Black Mask began to feature  hard-boiled, realistic detective stories...Carroll John Daly, Dashiell Hammett, Erle Stanley Gardner, Raymond Chandler, Cornell Woolrich...the list goes on...

Here's a brief look at both magazines.


The StapleSingers.

Friday, April 6, 2018


Merle Travis & His Westerners with Judy Hayden.


Manga Shakespeare:  King Lear adapted by Richard Appignanesi (2009)

This is not your parent's Classics Illustrated comic book.  It's 200 pages of manga (sans Japanese schoolgirls in short skirts) designed to get students Grade 8 and up to like Shakespeare.  A British publisher called Self Made Hero has published at least fourteen adaptations of Shakespeare's plays as graphic novels for the school market -- fairly successfully, I might add.

To my mind, a decent and enthused teacher should be able to promote a love of Shakespeare without resorting to gimmicks like manga comics.  I realize, however, this is difficult for several reasons.  Many teachers are not enthused about Shakespeare, having not had decent and enthused teachers themselves.  School curricula are often rigid and boring; when I was a lad such books as Silas Marner, The House of Seven Gables, and Great Expectations were merely ordeals to get through; it was only later that I began to glimmer their worth. 

Then, too, in the case of Shakespeare, youngsters need to be be protected from the crudities that helped make these plays popular for the audience at the high school, Shakespeare's character don't piss.  The Manga Shakespeare books are abridged and bowdlerized, although the artist did managed to spread some surprising cleavage here and there

To make Shakespeare palatable for the middle school and high school crowd, why not turn the plays into manga stories?   That is something kids can relate to, right?  Actually, that's not a bad idea.

I have not seen any of the other Manga Shakespeare books, but this one uses Japanese-style manga, although not the Japanese-schoolgirl-in short-skirt style that I am most familiar with.  (Wait.  Does that make it sound like I'm kinky?)  The illustrator, British artist/writer Ed Hillyer signing himself as "Ilya," is an acknowledged expert on manga and anime.

So...King Lear.  My absolute favorite Shakespeare play...passion, power, betrayal on an operatic scope...all set during...

...The French and Indian War?

Yes.  King Lear re-imagined during the time of The Last of the Mohicans.  Lear is now an Algonquin chief.  Gloucester is cast as a trapper.  Edmund is half black. Rochester is an Indian brave.  Goneril and Regan are both married to English fops.  The raging torrent is now a mountaintop blizzard.  Somehow, it all works.

I gave my copy to my granddaughter.  She loved it.  Perhaps you will, too.

Thursday, April 5, 2018


Just because you're too good to be true...


Most likely airing on November 23, 1955 (rather than November 30 as stated at the link), Nelson S. Bond's "the Vital Factor" was adapted by Howard Rodman for NBC Radio's X Minus One science fiction anthology show. Bond's story first appeared in the August 1951 issue of Esquire and was included in Bond's 1954 collection No Time Like the Future.

"The Vital Factor" is the story of Wayne Crowder, a ruthless "millionaire who wants to launch the first space ship.  He is stymied when no one can develop a power plant capable of propelling the craft beyond the earth's atmosphere, until an odd little man proposes the 'anti-gravity principle' and and joins the financier for the surprised filled flight."  Raymond Edward Johnson, Joe DeSantis, Luis van Rooten, and John McGovern star.

If you like hearing a boss from hell get his comeuppance, this program's for you.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018


How about a little zydeco?

Here's Nathan Abshire & The Rayne-Bo Ramblers from 1935.

This clip mixes the song with a dance scene from 1953's Mesa of Lost Women.  Why not?


Many Mexicans are upset about Donald Trump's proposed border wall but they'll get over it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


Mary Johnson.


Some people feel that Mack Sennett's talent went downhill after the age of the silents -- the talkies he directed have had mixed revues.  Such is the case of Ghost Parade, a 17-minute short comedy featuring Andy Clyde and Harry Gribbon.

Clyde wants to sell Mosby Manor but strange noises at night make him believe that the place is haunted by the civil war ghost of his uncle.  Perhaps not.  It turns out that mice have been scurrying across musical instrument that have been stored in the attic.  But when they show the house to some buyers, strange things happen...

Early in his 45 year film and television career, Clyde's familiar face and comedic talent graced many of Mack Sennett's shorts.  Some fans recognize him as California Carson, Hopalong Cassidy's sidekick in a dozen westerns in the late Forties.  On television he may be best remembered as Walter Brennan's neighbor George McMichael on The Real McCoys.  Clyde died in 1967 at age 75.  IMDb lists 391 credits from 1921 to 1966.

Harry Gribbon's film career started with Fatty Arbuckle and Mabel Norman shorts in 1915.  the tall (over 6' 5") Gribbon was known as "Silk Hat Harry" for his many portrayals as a top-hatted, mustached comic villain for Mack Sennett.  In Ghost Parade, Gribbon plays a local constable sent to investigate the goings-on at Mosby Manor, but his interest is more centered on Clyde's daughter, played by winsome Marjorie Beebe.

During Beebe's early career she was viewed as one of the best comediennes of her time.  she appeared in about forty shorts for Sennett, many of which he wrote especially for her.  Sennets career tanked in 1933 and Beebe never regained her former stardom.  She retired from films in 1940 and passed away in 1983 at age 74.

Ghost Parade also features a talking dog and a man (Charles Gemora) in a gorilla suit, which means that -- no matterhow many people knock the film -- it remains aces with me.


Monday, April 2, 2018


Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.


Openers:  The glare of the lights terrified and blinded me.  I crouched there, in a corner of the room, looking at the empty bed, and seeing, in the corridor beyond, women in nurse's uniforms passing from room to room.
          I tried to fly, and discovered that my left wing was injured.  I could only crouch there, shaking with terror, in spite of my frantic desire to fly round and round the walls of the little room, in search of some refuge beyond the reach of earth-bound creatures.
          -- "Lew Merrill" (Avigdor Rousseau Emanuel), "Bat Man," from Spicy Mystery Stories, February 1936

March Incoming:

  • Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, January 1979.  Nine stories in this issue.
  • Richard Appignanesi, Manga Shakespeare:  King Lear.  Yes, Shakespeare being done manga-style, one of at least ten Shakespearean manga plays from this publisher.  King Lear has long been my favorite by the Bard so I'm eager to read this one, especially since the author has moved the setting to the French and Indian War!  The artwork is signed by someone called "Ilya"  -- not Kuryakin, I'm sure.  Any ideas who is behind this pseudonym?
  • Tim Callahan, Timmy & Susie & The Bootlegger's Revenge.  YA adventure novel, the fifth in the Kentucky Summer series from a religious publisher.  Signed by the author.
  • Orson Scott Card & Emily Janice Card, with Zina Margaret Card, Laddertop, Books 1-2.  Graphic novel omnibus.
  • Loren D. Estleman, White Desert.  A Page Murdock western.  I love this series.
  • Pauline Rush Evans, editor, Best Book of Mystery Stories.  YA anthology with 16 short stories.
  • Jasper Fforde, The Woman Who Died a Lot.  Fantasy/mystery novel in the Thursday Next series.
  • Randy Henderson, Finn Fancy Necromancy.  Fantasy.  A first novel and the first in the series.
  • L. Ron Hubbard, Under the Black Ensign.  Adventure novella.
  • Kazuo Koike & Gosaki Kochma, Lone Wolf and Cub, Volume 7:  Dragon Wind Tiger and Volume 8:  Chains of Death.  Graphic novels.
  • Nancy Kress, Flash Point.  YA science fiction novel.
  • Robbie Macauley & George Lanning, Techniques in Fiction.  Non-fiction writing advice from the editors of The Kenyon Review.  Macauley went on to become the fiction editor of Playboy, then to be a senior editor at Houghton Mifflin; Lanning's novel The Pedestal was nominated for a Best First Novel Edgar.
  • Robert Mankoff, editor, The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker.  A giant, doorstop book with over 20,000 cartoons and a 2-CD set of all 68,647 cartoons published in the magazine from February 21, 1925 to February 23, 2004.  Time for an update, maybe?
  • Michael Moorcock, The Life and Times of Jerry Cornelius.  Eleven SF stories about Moorcock's New Age anti-hero and avatar of The Eternal Champion.
  • Jill M. Morgan, editor, Creature Cozies.  Mystery anthology.  The copyright also acknowledges Ed Gorman and Tekno Books (Martin H. Greenberg's company).
  • Lillian O'Donnell, The Phone Calls.  The first entry in the Norah Mulcahaney series.  Mulcahaney was the first female police detective as the lead character in a book series.
  • E. Phillips Oppenheim, The Golden Beast, The Man Without Nerves (also published as The Bank Manager), Prodigals of Monte Carlo, and Up the Ladder of Gold.  Four standalone thrillers from one of the best-selling authors from the first half of the twentieth century.
  • Sydney J. Van Scyoc, Cloudcry.  SF novel.
  • Philip Wylie, Crunch and Des:  Stories of Florida Fishing.  The fourth of eight books containing the 69 stories in the popular series about Captain Crunch Adams, master of the charter boat Poseidon, and his partner Des "Desperate" Smith.  The series, most of which appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, spawned a short-lived 1956 syndicated television series starring Forrest Tucker and Sandy Kenyon.  (I watched at least one episode when I was a kid but remember nothing about it.)
I've Been Reading:  Not much.  Gordon R. Dickson's Spacial Delivery, my FFB this week.  A 1960 Ace paperback about a race of rustic giant ursine-like creatures and political chicanery.  Good.  Ms. Marvel, Volume 3:  Crushed, a graphic novel written by G. Willow Wilson with artwork by Elmo Bondoc and Takeshi Miyazawea.  Wilson's Ms. Marvel is a Muslim Pakistani-American high school student from a strictly religious family.  Her good friend Bruno is in love with her but romance is out of the question because he's a Catholic.  In this volume, she crosses swords with Loki, stumbles upon some evil inhumans, has a brief romantic encounter with a Muslim boy who is more than what he seems, and meets the school lunch from Hell.  Great stuff.

I've Been Plugging Along:  The rest of this week's reading have been me flitting around from book to book, not landing on anywhere for long.  Everything is all bright and shiny and I just can't find the wherewithall to to finish one before going to the next.  I'm near the end of Sarah Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes, a great psychological thriller, that for some reason, I can only read in small chunks.  Ditto Donald E. Westlake's The Comedy is Finished.  I started Bill Pronzini's Carpenter and Quincannon mystery The Bag of Tricks Affair, then misplaced it, then found it and will get back to it very soon.  I've also been dipping into Isaac Asimov's The Road to Infinity, a collection of his F&SF essays.  I'm also reading the first year (1947) of Milt Caniff's Steve Canyon comic strip, the super-sized doorstop of The New Yorker cartoons (mentioned above), and the Manga Shakespeare version of Shakespeare's King Lear, re-imagined as taking place during the French and Indian War (also see above).  Sooner or late I will finish them all, along with Joe R. Lansdale's Jackrabbit Smile, which just came in from the library.

Jelly Beans:  Saturday morning.  We picked grandson Mark up at 6:45 and drove him to a church in Pensacola so he could run in the first annual Jelly Bean 5K.  The weather was beautiful.  Over 150 people had registered to run.  Well, some to walk or to jog along pushing carriages.  The participants and the spectators covered all age groups.  Coffee and homemade breakfast burritos were available at a food booth which also gave out free yogurt parfaits to the runners.  A local sports medicine clinic had a booth in case any of the runners had problems.  A neighbor across the street had set up a booth to gather signatures for an upcoming election.  Some people brought their dogs -- all of which were well-behaved and sweet.  The PA system played some rocking oldies and toddlers broke out into spontaneous dancing.  The church ladies (bless them) had been baking and each of the top male and female runners in various age categories would go home with a homemade cake. Following the 5K there was a Fun Race for the little kids:  a 50 yard dash to a man wearing pale blue rabbit ears and costume and 50 yards back; the prize was chocolate.  The Easter bunny guy spent most of the morning hopping -- literally hopping.  Stamina thy name is a guy in an Easter bunny costume.  There was a guess-the-number-of-jelly-beans jar.  (I guessed 1970 -- the year Kitty and I were married -- and lost.  There were one thousand, five hundred thirty-something beans; the winning guess came within two numbers of the actual count.)  It was just a fine, friendly way to start a gorgeous day.
     And Mark?  He came in third overall and first in his age group (15 to 19) and, yes, he got a cake.  Mark had injured his knee earlier this year and had been slowly getting back to running.  He was satisfied with his time of 19:20.  Not his best time but pretty good, all things considered. 
     As the older (and slower) runners came in, people ran out to help them cross the finish line.  One of the last runners in was a pregnant woman pushing a baby stroller while holding the hand of her two-year-old daughter for the entire 5K.  a pretty neat mother if you ask me.

Waves for Water:  The Jelly Bean 5K was a fundraiser for Waves for Water, a non-profit, non-denominational group which provides water filtration systems for villages in Central and South America.  Volunteers undergo a three-week training session before they are are paired with a targeted community with which they work closely on the project.  Water-borne disease is a killer in many rural communities throughout the world, most often targeting children.  Helping to provide clean water is  humanitarian mission of the first order.  The church in Pensacola raised enough money to send six people to training.  (The eventual cost for each volunteer is about $25,000, which covers all expenses related to the project, including the water filtration equipment.)  A check with Charity Navigator shows that Waves for Water has not yet been rated; only five of the 310 clean water charities listed have been rated.  If you wish to support a clean water charity, you have a lot to choose from.

Getting Their Kicks:  After the Jelly Bean 5K, Kitty and headed to the Green Gators first soccer game of the season.  The Green Gators are Jack's soccer team -- all five- and six-year-olds.  Because there was no one else available, daughter Christina is their coach (sometimes aided by Mark).  In this age group, the word soccer translates to "It's fun to kick the ball.  who cares where it's going?"  There are six kids on the Green Gators.  Two of them are somewhat good players, two are just plum pitiful, and two range in the middle.  Four kids are on the field at any given time -- well, that's the plan, but at this age, they are basically free-ranging -- and Christina tries to have only one good player and one plum pitiful player on the field at any given time.  The kids run and trip and fall and have great fun.  There's orange slices and grapes at half time and juice boxes and cookies after the game.  What more could they want?  Because of the disorganized chaos, I have no idea who won nor what the score was, nor did anyone else.  And does it really matter.  Each team got at least three goals, including those when the ball was kicked into the wrong goal.  No matter.  The kids had a great time.  And Christina has great patience.

I Did Not Wear an Easter Bonnet:  So my thinning pate was sprayed with SPF-40zillion yesterday as the entire family went for an Easter outing at Blackwater (no relation to Erik Prince or Betsy DeVos) River State Park.  There was hiking (which I did not participate in), swimming (which I did not participate in, and eating (which I did).  It was a great relaxing time, full of laughter and stories, in a beautiful setting.  Despite the warning signs, there were no alligators to be seen.

The Two Continent Problem:  A giant rift opening up in Africa has spurred questions on whether Africa is splitting in two, to be divided by a new ocean some fifty million years from now.  Property values for those eventually to become seaside lots have not begun to rise, though.  Many Africans are taking a wait-because-I'll-never-see stance on the situation.

Organ Music to My Ears:  Scientists have identified a new organ in the human body called the interstitium, a complex network of protective cells.  The interstitium has been there all along but no one seems to have paid attention to it.  (Kind of like your family with the Nazi uncle at Thanksgiving.)  Expect new medical advances now.

Does It Matter?:  Galaxy NGC 1952-DF2 evidently has no (or very little) dark matter -- something sciensts has thought was impossible.  Dark matter is a mysterious and invisible thing that makes up about a quarter of the universe.  We can't see it and we don't now what it is, but we know it's there.  It had been theorized that dark matter was essential in the formation of galaxies.  Well, back to the drawing boards, fellas.

Marching Into History:  Last month was crazy.  We are living in interesting times and the Huffpost gives us this day by day rundown:

Yum:  Here's a delicious way to celebrate April with thirty delicious springtime recipes;

And the Winner Is...:  This week's Waste of Protoplasm Award goes to...(drum roll,please)...Ted Nugent!

Ah, Spring!:  There are many versions of this spring poem out there.  I like this one:

As I awoke one morning, when all sweet things are born
A robin perched upon my sill to greet the coming morn
His song was cheerful, bright and gay
And then a hush, a moment's lull
I gently closed the window
And crushed his !@#$ing skull.

Sunday, April 1, 2018


Here's an Easter mystery short story from King's River Life Magazine, August 30, 2015.

Margaret Hamilton is the author of the Lavender Cottage Interiors mystery series.  



Okay, so this isn't a hymn.  But today is Easter and if you change one letter in the title, it's is sort of appropriate.