Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, May 31, 2018


From 1968, a musical take on the classic William Faulkner story by The Zombies.


I went to the dentist yesterday and he did bad things to my mouth.  I am currently jacked up on painkillers so today's blog will be brief.

Nightfall was a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation horror anthology series  running from 1980 to 1983. Fittingly, I picked an episode that first aired on October 29, 1982, titled "The Dentist."

I don't want to be the only one squirming at the thought of a dentist this week.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


The Dave Clark Five.  (And happy birthday to Lennie Davidson!)


How many freshmen at Mahoney Dingfoot College does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
None.  That's a sophomore course.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


Also known as Sherlock Hound, here's a catchy tune from the animated series in which The Great Detective is a dog.  Don't ask.


From 1979-1980, here are four episodes of a rare Sherlock Holmes television show, starring Geoffrey Whitehead as Holmes and Donald Pickering as Watson.  This was a Polish-British production as you can tell by the credits.  Writer Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange) served as script consultant .

"A Motive for Murder" was directed by Freddie Francis and written by Harold Jack Bloom and Sheldon Reynolds.  Reynolds, the producer of this series was also responsible for 39 episodes of a previous Sherlock Holmes show, starring Ronald Howard.  (A number of the Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson episodes were remakes of the earlier series.)  In this episode Watson meets Holmes for the first time.  Look for Downton Abbey's Julian Fellowes in a small role.

According to the link, "The Baker Street Nursemaids" was the second episode in the series but IMDb lists it as episode 11, so perhaps the episodes were shown out of order.  A crying baby is left in a basket at Holmes' doorstep and the game is afoot.  Directed by Val Guest and written by Joseph Victor, this episode begins with a crying baby left in a basket at Holmes' doorstep -- and the game's afoot!  This one has a mostly Polish cast.  This was a remake of an episode of the same name from the earlier Sherlock Holmes series starring Ronald Howard.

In "The Perfect Crime" (either the third or the fifth in the series, take your pick), a daring jewel thief has targeted London and has even stolen jewels from the Queen Elizabeth Museum.  Holmes is relulnctant to take on the case, but why?  Directed by Roy Stephens from a script by Joe Morheim.  This was a remake of "The Neurotic Detective," a 1955 Holmes episode starring Ronald Howard.

The last episode of the four is fittingly called "The Final Curtain," another one directed by Val Guest.  Again Joe Morheim provided the script.  (Again, this is either the fourth episode or the fifteenth, depending on who want to listen to.)  With hours to go before his execution, a death row inmate asks Holmes to find the real killer of his wife.  This was a remake of the 1955 episode "The Impromptu Performance" from the Ronald Howard Holmes series.

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson ran for one season only for a total of twenty-four episodes, each about twenty-five minutes in length.


Monday, May 28, 2018


The United States Army Band, "Pershing's Own."


Openers:  His very high forehead jutted to a distinct ledge, and then dropped at an angle, exactly matching the hawk-beak angle of his aquiline nose.  With his square face and coldly intelligent, though mismated, eyes, he looked exactly what he was -- a highly educated, unusually capable professional man.

But Val Vickers was the only member of his unique profession in the world.  He was the one and only Specialist in the Impossible.

-- Curtiss T. Gardner, "Sorcery in the Death House" (Dime Mystery Magazine, September 1943).  This was the first of three Val Vickers stories that Gardner wrote for Dime Detective Magazine.

I've Been Reading:  Lee Goldberg's True Fiction is an engaging romp involving a writer who is suddenly embroiled in a sinister conspiracy.  Interestingly, the writer is named Ian Ludlow, the pseudonym under which Goldberg first published his Jury series.  Bentley Little's The Handyman starts slowly as the narrator recalls an inept handyman whose shoddy work cost the narrator's young brother his life.  The suspense and the horror builds as we learn that the handyman has been destroying lives throughout out the western part of the country for years.  The story reaches a terrifying and deadly conclusion in a supernatural maze-like house in the desert -- think the famous Winchester House on other-worldly steroids.  Little is really good at this stuff. Trigger Law by "Jackson Cole," a Texas Ranger Jim Hatfield tale, was my FFB this week.  A good, old-fashioned, pulpish western.   A hat tip to James Reasoner for letting us know that the name behind the house pseudonym was A. Scott Leslie.  Finally, I read Nnedi Okorafor's Bindi:  The Night Masquerade, the final book in the trilogy published by  Interesting and likable, although I probably would have gotten much more out it had I read the first two installments.  But this one was available, so what the heck.

Currently reading John Connolly's mainstream novel He, about Stan Laurel's relationship with Oliver Hardy.  Mega-good so far.

Memorial Day:  Sometimes, when people find out my first name is Ralph, they ask where did Jerry come from...your middle name?   I tell them, yes, my middle name is Harold.  They usually just stare.  Some people just can't handle the truth.  Ralph was my father's name and since he was (and remains) the person I most respect, I am proud to carry his name.  My folks added the Harold to honor a friend of theirs, Harold Speed, who died in world War II at Guadalcanal.  Harold Speed was nicknamed Jerry.  (No one knows why; no form of Jerry can be found in his legal name.  I guess I'm just continuing a strange Jerry tradition.)  Anyway, I've been known as Jerry since the day I was born and I am kind of proud of the name.  Today is the day when we honor the war dead.  Today is the day when I honor Harold Speed and so many others.

I hate it when politicians say that our soldier heroes gave their lives for our freedom.  Andy Rooney once said our war dead did not give their lives, rather their lives were taken from them.  I wish that Harold Speed had not had his life taken.  I would have loved to know him.

Here is my go-to song for this day:

Rest in peace, the fallen.

Graduation Day:  Saturday, our grandson Mark graduated from high school, one of over 400 in his class.  It was a beautiful morning.  Alberto held off gifting us with his rains until late afternoon.  Speeches were short.  There was no guest speaker and much of the program was run by the kids.  Mark was a little nervous walking for his diploma, making him one of many.  I could not help but notice that 128% (my rough estimate) of the girls had long, below-the-shoulders hair.  Everyone looked great.  Some looked surprised that high school was over.  It was a good time, but, really, has any high school ever had a decent school song?

Afterwards, there was a family cook-out where Walt prepared hamburgers, Italian sausages, pulled pork, cole slaw, and deviled eggs.  Yum!  I was told there was also potato salad but someone forgot to put it out.  A super-yummy brownie trifle capped off the meal.

Mark will be going to the University of West Florida in the fall, transitioning from a Gulf Breeze Dolphin to a UWF Argo.

Names:  I am always interested in the names of the kids in our grandchildren's classes.  they range from the traditional to the creatively spelled, to the is it a boy or a girl, to dear God what were their parents thinking.  Here are the approximately 430 names from Mark's graduating class:

Daniel, John, Rion, Joshua, Madeline, Herminio, Grace, Thomas, Blair, Tyler, Zoe, Robert, Audric, R. (?), Meghan, Alyssa, Dominique, Jacob, Cloe, Winston, Erin, Taylor, Sadie, Austin, Rian, April, Lucy, Anthony, Mason, Katherine, Caleb, Faith, Natalie, Taylor, Hunter, Katelyn, Melanie, Philip Rachel, Noah, Ryan, David, Melinda, Aiden, Alanna, Ryan, Ashton, Madison, Jasper, Jacob, Alexandra, Daniel, Dylan, Jenna, Sydney, James, Lauren, Brianna, Jackson, Ronald, Sidney, Kedron, Kyran, William, Bryce, Angeli, Charlotte, Andrew, James, Casie, Chase, Nicole, Erin, Hobbie, Morgan, Sydney, John, Margery, Andrea, Carmen, Mary Alyssa, Keirstin, Morgan, Delaney, Alexander, Avery, Kiehler, Paul, Lancelot, Nicholas, Briana, Jack, Pierson, Alex, Rachel, Justin, Kayleigh, Jackson, Brooklyn, Molly, Isaiah, Collin (because of the small italicized typeface used on the program, I had to look twice to be sure his name was not Coffin), Cody, Haylee, Enrique, Hunter, Reagan, Ethan, Kane, Andrew, Connor, Dagan, Charles, Spenser, George, Heidi, Alexander, Madelyne, Seth, John, Jeremiah, Jessica, Katriah, Kayla, Anders, Zoe, Xavier, Adeleine, Andrew, Antonia, Daniel, Steven, Ryan, Kelsey, Grace, Patrick, Carson, Olivia, Kort, Sierra, Orion, Joseph, Marissa, Christian, Luke, Ashton, Noah, Stephen, Lauren, Annabelle, Caleb, Ashton, Alexandra, Dylan, Amber, Skyler, Tessa, Matthew, Ethan, Landon, Kamryn, Micah, Morgan, Olivia, Zachary, Nathan, Alexander, Dawson, Madison, Matthew, Logan, Jessica, Alexandria, William, Erica, Andrew, Jiyu, Joseph, Margeaux, Keanu, Shayla, Katherine, Nautia, Abigail, Alexander, Brianna, Alexander, Aaron, Landrie, Nicholas, Noah, Katlund, Kaylah, Madeline, Taylor, Tyler, Samantha, Morgan, Samuel, Jordan, Rowan, Anna, Emma, Brandon, Catherine, Katherine, Jack, Kaden, Justin, Milly, Grant, Samantha, Ava, Alexa, Marissa, Tory, Caleb, Riley, Peyton, Alyssa, Maverick, Benjamin, Christopher, Alyssa, Kaelan, Maria, Tyler, Wyatt, Avery, Garrett, Hanah, Alanna, MacKenzie, Mallory, Dovie, Madelynn, Isaiah, Fiama, Macy, Aubrey, Colin, Casey, Lauren, Terra, Meredith, Kyle, Jacqueline, Emily, Colton, Kendall, Joseph, Tiffany, Elliott, Gabriel, Taylor, Alfredo, Jake, Maddilyn, Chandler, Kyler, Robert, Richard, Ghulam, Nicholas, Cameron, Shane, Jenna, Benjamin, Cythia, Rainey, Brandon, Brittany, Sadie, Aiden, Mason, Rocky, Haley, Katherine, John, Pike, Chandler, Emily, Grace, Madison, Stephen, Madelyn, Michael, Savannah, Preston, Heather, Gunnar, Karla, Isaiah, Arianna, Kasey, Sydney, Victoria, Jordan, William, Mary, Reagan, David, Emily, Marshall, Mary, Russell, Carson, Sidney, Israel, Dalton, Lexis, Benjamin, Kasey, Kaia, Ana, Mariana, Xiomara, Hailey, Brianna, Mark (our man!), Sarah, Nathaniel, Katherine, Alexandra, Joseph, Sophia, Leandro, Alura, Joshua, Lindsay, Vincent, Kyle, William, Adam, Michaela, Brandon, Brandon, Adam, Logan, Luke, Braden, Brinker, Ashten, Leanne, Christa, Sheila, Caroline, Claudia, Andrew, Harrison, Tannen, Laurie, Destin, Grayson, Jackson, Justin, Grace, Grant, Bianca, Sarah, Katelyn, Connor, Andrew, Autumn, Lauren, Alec, Tyler, Emen, Makayla, Avery, Kandace, Slade, John, Hunter, Karlee, Jacobe, John, Madison, Ethan, Tyson, Jacob, Amaya, Michael, Jonathan, Feather, Griffin, Sarah, Jackson, Jacob, Jenna, Joshua, Lawrence, Hunter, Blayke, Ryan, Philip, Terra, Hannah, Alec, Carissa, James, Jackson, Julia, Emily, Gabriel, Jake, Keith, Ethen, Derek, Alyssa, Natasha, Edward. John, Bayleigh, Brent, Joseph, Lauren,Tanner, Teagan, Colton, Connor, Kyle, Lexis, Abigail, Chloe, Walter, Nathan, Abigail, Benjamin, Palin, Broccoli, and Phew.  (Okay.  I made those last two up.)  And, yes, I proofed the list to be sure I got the spellings right.

I wish each and every one of these amazing kids a bright future.

Sinkhole:  So the White House now has a sinkhole.  I'll forego the obvious correlation with the president.  Free free to make up your own jokes.

Gardner Dozois (July 23, 1947-May 27, 2018):  A great writer and a great editor.  Damn!

Astronaut Alan Bean:  The fourth man to walk on the moon, dead at 86.  Another hero gone.

Trail of Tears:  On this day in 1830, President Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act.

A Seven-Character Quatain:

right and wrong gain and loss each hard to picture clearly
so I began to study wisdom of the ancients willy-nilly
but closed the books I'd double up with laughter
and have to get up pace the floor and rub my belly

-- Xin Qiji (1140-1207)

Sunday, May 27, 2018


Robert Silverberg was that year's Toastmaster.  Clifford D. Simak was Guest of Honor.  Harry Warner, Jr.,  was Fan Guest of Honor. Hugo winners that year were Larry Niven (Ringworld), Fritz Leiber ("Ill Met in Lankhmar"), Theodore Sturgeon ("Slow Sculpture"), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, artists Leo and Diane Dillon, Locus, Richard E. Geis, and Alicia Austin.  Bob Shaw brought his lilting Irish accent from across the sea.  Lester del Rey gave a moving tribute to the recently deceased John W. Campbell.  Isaac Asimov embarrassed his "beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed" 16-year-old daughter.  Harry Warner gave an impassioned speech about the need for space exploration.  Somewhere in the audience Kitty was singing "42nd Street" with Forrest J. Ackerman.

Ah, memories...


Texas Gladden.

Saturday, May 26, 2018


"Along the Rio Grande, the river that borders the south-west territories of the Unites States and Mexico, a tall mysterious stranger, who, accompanied by a large wolf-like dog, appears from time throughout the years never seeming to grow older is known as El Lobo, el hombre a ninguna parte -- the wolf, the man from nowhere.  His habit of quietly appearing in troubled areas where his amazing prowess as a gunfighter earns for him the fear and the respect of the just and the unjust, adds to the legend of this strange man."

Here's an interesting western comic book from Australia.  Written and illustrated by Keith Chatto, El Lobo -- The Man from Nowhere ran for 23 issues beginning in 1956.

This episode, part of a saga titled "The Four Winds of Diggers' Reach!" puts on display Chatto's incredible artwork.


Friday, May 25, 2018


Jerry Woodard.


Trigger Law by "Jackson Cole" (1952)

"Jackson Cole" was a house name used the the main story in each issue of Better Publications pulp magazine Texas Rangers (1936-1938).  The name was used by such western stalwarts as Tom Curry, A. Leslie Scott, and Peter Germano.  One of the main characters used by "Cole" was Texas Ranger Jim Hatfield, a.k.a. The Lone Wolf, the hero of over two hundred stories.   As a true pulp cowboy hero, Hatfield is an expert shot, a quick draw, an expert fighter, an experienced cowboy, and a whole bunch of other stuff.  And he's tall and good-looking.  A loner bringing justice to a wild frontier...

Jim Hatfield and Jackson Cole also made it to paperbacks in the early Fifties, evidently both as reprints and as original novels.  Trigger Law appears to be a paperback original (no story under that name was published in Texas Rangers) and Worldcat lists the author as Oscar Schisgall, who has not been identified as one of magazine's house writers.  UPDATE 5/26:  Once again, I am wrong.  Rather, Worldcat is wrong.  See James Reasoner's comment below.)

In Trigger Law, the wild frontier that Hatfield brings justice to is the cow and mining town of Sanders, near the Mexican border.  Hatfield's superior has sent him to investigate stories about an outlaw gang known as Roma's Raiders.  Before he got to the town, however, he stumbles on an old Mexican man who is dying from a snake bite.  Hatfield gives the man the last of his water, but the man dies minutes later.  His last act is to thrust a strange metal object into Hatfield's hand.  Minutes later,a stranger with a gun tries to take the object from Hatfield -- not a wise move.  Then, in the distance, comes a band of men firing guns at him.  Hatfield hops on his horse to make a fast escape, only to come to face another band of men, pistols blazing.  The only way out is down a steep canyon wall to the gulch below.  Luckily, a hero ranger needs a hero horse such as Goldie, Hartfield's magnificent steed.

When he arrives in Sanders, Hatfield finds a town on edge.  The outlaw gang has spread terror throughout the area.  Because they are masked and because they seldom leave victims alive, no one knows who is in the gang and no one knows whom the mysterious "Roma" is.  Roma could be anyone -- even a respected member of the town -- and suspicions are heightened.  Without revealing that he is a lawman, Hatfield takes a job on a nearby ranch where some gold had been discovered and a mining operation begun.

The action comes fast.  Shoot-outs, murders, sabotage, arson, a train robbery, attempted large-scale rustling, a lost Aztec treasure...all take place in rapid sequence.  I don't think it's a spoiler to say that on the last page Hatfield rides off into the sunset toward another adventure.

Pure pulp here.  Nothing major or "lit'ry."  Just plain enjoyable and colorful writing with some inventive descriptions:

"The big fellow seemed to take unto himself wings.  He flew through the air, great limbs revolving, landed on his back and stayed there.  Hatfield rubbed his tingling knuckles and spoke, his voice quiet and unhurried."

Except for some unnecessary (albeit interesting) padding, Trigger Law is a pleasant way to spend a few hours.

Thursday, May 24, 2018


I don't know if Sam Phillips realized the he would be making music history back in 1952 when he started Sun Records in Nashville.  Phillips loved rhythm and blues and wanted to bring it to a white audience and, in doing so, he brought out the first records of Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins.  Other sun artists included Conway Twitty, Charlie Rich, Howlin' Wolf, and Little Milton.

The link takes you to The Legendary Sun Records Story, a compilation of sixty great tunes with that essential Sun Records touch.

Let's start rockin':


By most accounts old-time radio ended in the early Sixties, pushed aside by music, new, sports, and talk radio.  Radio drama was not completely dead.  In the Seventies such programs as CBS Radio Mystery Theater, Theater of the Mind, and Radio Adventure Theater were all launched, as was The CBS Radio Theater.

Successful producer-directors Elliott Lewis and Fletch Markle pitched a unique idea for a multi-genre radio drama series.  The CBS Radio Theater would present  a different genre each weeknight, each with their own host.  Lorne Greene would host western night; Andy Griffith, comedy night; Vincent Prince, mystery night; Cicely Tyson, "love and hate" night; and Richard Widmark, adventure night.  The show premiered on February 5, 1979 and  ran through February 28 the following year for a total of 266 episodes with 129 original scripts-- some of the repeated scripts were aired with a different cast.

"The Hamster Caper of Curtis Cleever" aired on June 28, 1979 and featured Robert Towers and Noelle North as "a college student and his girlfriend, hoping to become overnight millionaires, go into the hamster-breeding business -- with a gimmick."


Wednesday, May 23, 2018


RIP, Clint Walker.


There are only two true definitions of an optimist.

One, an accordion player with a pager; and

Two, a banjo player with a mortgage.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


There was a story this morning on NPR about the resurgence of black lung among central Appalachian coal miners.  An extrapolation of available figures indicates that as many 20% of the miners have the disease. 

It's an apt time to post this Tom Paxton song from 1970.


Captain Video and His Video Rangers (Dumont Television Network, 1949-1955) was the first science fiction series to appear on American television.  Known for its stilted one-shot acting, juvenile plots, cheesy sets, and frequent use of stock footage, it set a very low standard for low-budget television.  Many well-known science fiction writers contributed to the series, including Robert Sheckley, James Blish, Milton Lesser, and Jack Vance.  Sadly, most of the over 1500 original broadcasts have been destroyed; nineteen of the twenty-four surviving episodes can only be seen by appointment at the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

The episode below, "Operation Microwave," aired April 21, 1952, and stars Al Hodge as Captain Video.  Hodge took over the title role from Richard Coogan in 1951.  Also featured is Don Hastings (perhaps best known as Dan Hastings, a long-running character on As the World Turns) as the teenage companion known as The Video Ranger.  Helping to round out the cast are Scott Tennyson, Jack Davis, Gordon Mills, Arny Freeman, LeRoi Operti, and a young Jack Weston.  The episode was directed by Steve Previn and written by George Lowther.

Enjoy this blast from the past,

Monday, May 21, 2018


I just finished reading Ace Atkin's latest continuation of Robert B. Parker's Spenser series.  In honor of that book, here's Louie Prima and Keely Smith.


Openers:  "Hold it, horse!"

Jim Hatfield snapped the command as Goldie, his great golden sorrel, shied so violently as to almost unseat his tall rider.  He glanced down, saw the raised body and head of a sidewinder that had almost fanged the horse with his vicious lateral strike.  -- Trigger Law by "Jackson Cole" (Pyramid Books, 1952)

[Cole was a house pseudonym used for the Jim Hatfield (and other) stories in Texas Rangers magazine; among the writers using this name were Tom Curry, Peter Germano, A. Leslie Scott, and Walter A. Tompkins.  A search through titles of the Jim Hatfield stories in Texas Rangers show none with the title "Trigger Law."  The story may have been retitled for book publication, or it may have been an original novel using the Hatfield character.  If the latter, the author could be D. B. Newton, who had written four Jim Hatfield magazine stories in the early fifties.  I have nothing to back up that theory, but Newton had been published by Pyramid Books around that time and he wrote the first original mass market paperback novel, Range War, Pocket Books, 1949.  Mea Culpa Update (5/22/18):   It looks I guessed wrong.  According to Worldcat, the author is Oscar Schisgall, who wrote some 4000 short stories and articles (including some pulp) and ended his career as a corporate historian, writing books about Proctor & Gamble, Xerox, Greyhound Bus Lines, and others.]

I've Been Reading:  I finished Dean Koontz's The Crooked Staircase, the third volume in his Jane Hawk series.  (The fourth book, The Forbidden Door, will be published later this year.)  As I have mentioned before, Koontz is addictive despite his faults.  This series takes a major plot point that Koontz has before, in the stand-alone Night Chills (1976); the premise remains disturbing more than 40 years later.  My FFB this week was C.M. Kornbluth's Not This August, and SF novel that predates Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle.  Kornbluth's early death robbed us of a major writer.  I also read Ace Atkins' Robert B. Parker's Old Black Magic, the latest continuation in the Spenser saga.  Atkins does Spenser better than Parker did and this fictional take on the Elizabeth Stewart Gardner Museum art heist (twenty-eight years old now) makes for fascinating reading.  (I may be prejudiced because Kitty and I toured the Gardner about a month before the robbery and the painting that most impressed me -- Rembrandt's "Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee" -- was one of the artworks stolen.)

On top of Mount TBR are Lee Goldberg's latest, a Bentley Little horror novel, Patti Abbott's latest (and most magnificent, based on what I have read so far) collection, John Connolly's Laurel and Hardy novel, and a Nameless collection from Bill Pronzini.  Happy reading days ahead, for sure.

They're Married Now:  So can we just let Harry and Meghan get on with their lives?

The Week in Trump:  More corruption, more lies, more dissembling, more crises, more ineptitude, more bloated ego.  In other words, more of the same.  I realize that both political parties have behaved badly in the past, especially when in power.  This, however, is ugliness on steroids.  Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan remain culpable for their cheerful dancing to Trump's tune.  The motto 'In God We Trust" should be replaced by "Party Over People."  Ptah!  And, Mr. President, please learn your wife's name.

And If I Wasn't Disgusted Enough:  Sweet Jesus, another school shooting!  When will we ever learn?

A Sign of the End Times?:  Beyonce bought herself a church.  To be more acccurate, she bought herself a building; the 100+ year-old New Orleans building has not been used for religious services for a while.  Jay-Z may be inspired to some preaching, though.  This follows a "Beyonce Mass" held at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco earlier this month.

Lest You Think I'm a Downer:  There was some feel-good news this week:
  • Four-year-old Lio Ortega, who suffers from brain cancer, threw out the first pitch at the Air Force Academy-University of New Mexico game this weekend.  Lio also hit a home run!  Kudos to the college athletes who made Lio's dreams come true.
  • A simple act of kindness has attracted a lot of attention.  Louis Jordan, a Houston teenager, was picking his mother up from work when he noticed a woman in a wheelchair sitting in the blazing heat at a bus top.  Remembering he had an umbrella in the trunk of his car, he retrieved it an used it to shade the lady -- for an hour and a quarter until her ride finally showed up.  This has started a great friendship.  Whenever Louis sees the woman, Michelle, at the bus stop, he and his umbrella spent time with her.  "Come to find out, she likes pork chops," Louis said of his new friend.
  • An Ohio teacher has donated a kidney to a ten-year-old student in her school.  Sometimes the best things taught are not in textbooks.
  • Anaya Ellick, a nine-year-old from Virginia, has won a national penmanship contest.  Anaya was born with no hands.  To write, she must balance between her forearms.
  • Roland Martineau, a 95-year-old decorated World War II vet, will soon be walking the stage at Leominster (MA) High School to receive his high school diploma.  Martineau always wanted to go back to earn his diploma after leaving the navy but was never able to find an opportunity to do so.
Happy Birthday: To Manly Wade Wellman (1903-1986), the gentleman from Chapel Hill.  If I had silver strings on my guitar, and if I had a guitar, I'd strum an Appalachian folk song for him, assuming I had enough musical talent to do so, which I don't.  **sigh**

A Poem to Remember:


Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed sunset shores shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles.  From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridge harbor that twin-cities frame.
"Keep, oh ancient lands, your storied pomp," cries she
With silent lips.  "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to be free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost, to me,
I lift my lamp before the golden door!"

     -- Emma Lazurus

Sunday, May 20, 2018


Not the greatest interview, due not to Fritz Leiber but to the unprepared interviewer who starts off by mispronoucing Leiber's name, but but remains an interesting look at one of the greatest writers of fantasy and science fiction.  (Many would say one of the greatest writers, period.)  This interview took place about six months before Leiber's death at age 81.


Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.

Saturday, May 19, 2018


Congratulations, Meghan and Harry!


The Chicago Defender (1905-present) is a weekly newspaper aimed at an Afro-American audience   Over its long history it has become one of the most important and influential newspaper of its kind.  The paper was a strong voice during the Jim Crow era.  It urged southern blacks to move north, contributing to the "Great Migration."  It fought segregation in the U.S. Army during World War II...

And, far less importantly, it gave the world Bungleton Green, a long-lasting "race comic."

Bungleton was created by  Defender editorial cartoonist Leslie L. Rogers, who drew the strip until 1929.  (A black artist and a black main character were certainly rarities in 1920.)  Over its 43-year long run, three other artists contributed to Bungleton Green.

Bungleton was a short, balding, needle-nosed man with a top hat and large feet.  Often he was portrayed as a scam artist whose plots seldom succeeded, but over the years Bungleton assumed many roles.  He was poor, he was rich, he somehow became a judge...a common laborer...a tycoon.  He even joined a group called the Mystic Commandos and traveled to the future, where he acquired superpowers.  He married (twice, with no mention of the first wife), had a son (Cabbage) who was replaced with a niece, and was sued several times for breach of promise.   Through many of the strips, Bungleton Green reflected the hopes and aspirations of its urban black readership; social and racial justice themes were woven into the comedy.

In a fairer world, Bungleton would have been much better known.  But if the world had been fairer, there would never had been a need for Bungleton.

Here are five of the strips from 1927.  Enjoy.

Friday, May 18, 2018


Another day, another school shooting.

Sadly, this song by Christine Lavin gets more and more relevant as time goes by.


Not This August by C. M. Kornbluth (1955, 1981)

Once upon a time there was a group of alienated young people who formed a loose group of science fiction fans that called themselves the Futurians.  Almost all of them turned professional and helped to shape the SF field as we know it.  Both core and periphery members were Frederik Pohl, Donald Wollheim, R. A. W. Lowndes, Isaac Asimov, damon knight (back when he eschewed capitalizing his initials), Richard Wilson, Dirk Wylie, John Michel, Judith Merril, Walter Kublius, Arther Saha, David Kyle, Hannes Bok, Larry Shaw, and -- perhaps the most talented of them all -- Cyril Kornbluth.  (Kornbluth did not have a middle name; he later added the initial M in honor of his wife Mary.)

Most talented? you scoff.  Admittedly that characterization can never be proved, but Kornbluth stood out among this group of proto-writers, editors, publishers, critics, and artists for his sardonic quick wit and his grasp of the fundamentals of writing.  Much of his work was hackneyed and hurried. (Reportedly, he once locked himself in a hotel room and wrote a full novel in a weekend.)  Behind all of his writing, though, there was a germ of stellar talent.

When Not This August was first published, The New York Sunday News, one ofthe largest circulation newspapers in the world at that time, published a lead editorial  about the book, praising it as having "[A] far more powerful effect on the American Reader than George Orwell's 1984."  True, the News has not the most high-brow of newspapers, but this was the only time that journal used its editorial pages to plug a novel.

The story itself rises from the Communist scare of the Fifties.  Russia and China, having conquered most of the world, are at war with the United States.  They win and (like Philip k. Dick's later The Man in the Iron Castle) split the country into two zones:  the eastern side goes to the Russians, the western to the Chinese.  At first, all seems hunky-dory.  The conquerors are respectful enough and, with a few exceptions such as the quotas everyone is expected to meet, life goes on as before.  Then things turn very dark.  There's profiteering, mass murder, and executions for the slightest infractions.  On the Soviet side, America's wealth is being stripped and shipped to Russia.  Communication is stifled and there are rumors of plague outbreaks in the cities.

In a small new York village, Billy Justin, a commercial artist turned reluctant dairy farmer with eight cows, is trying to get by the best he can but things keep interfering, mostly his agreeable good nature.  Soon he finds himself the holder of a great secret (and a great weapon) -- a rocket armed with three dozen powerful nuclear bombs.

Very few people come off well here.  Governments, their militaries, and their bureaucracies are short-sighted and fundamentally fl;awed.  Rebels are disorganized, inefficient, and working against each other.  The conquered and the collaborators seem delusional.  And the pretty new mail carrier...

Can Billy Justin save America?  Should he?

Science fiction tropes and coincidences abound in Not This August as Kornbluth lets his satirical hand run free.  Originally published in 1953, the novel was "revised" by Kornbluth's long-time friend Frederik Pohl.  I suspect the revision was very slight because Kornbluth's ironic vision shine through.  (Pohl himself developed into a major writer but, in the Fifties, Kornbluth could write rings around him.)

How far Kornbluth could go if he had not passed away so young is a question that cannot be answered.  While shoveling snow in his driveway on March 23, 1958, Kornbluth collapsed and died.  He was 34 and was being considered to become editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

A good book.  Perhaps an essential book.  recommended.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


I don't know how it happened, but I lucked out in the family department...a wonderful wife, two terrific daughters, five super grandkids.  I can't imagine it being better than that.

Take Christina, for example.  (Not that you can.  She's ours and we're not giving her up.)  She's smart, beautiful, compassionate, talented,  and a totally nifty person.  She's a wonderful and supportive wife and a loving and caring mother who is teaching all three of her children to be the best human beings they can possibly be.  She loves and respects animals and nature, something that should be a big plus in anybody's book.  I've mentioned before how, during the years she worked in a hospital, that she would sit with the dying because no one should die alone.

No matter what challenge has come before her, she faces it with determination and grit -- whether it be getting her black belt in tae kwon do or taking on a difficult career change. 

She even has a sense of humor, although it sometimes takes her a minute or so to get a joke.  Nonetheless Christina's wit shines through and she is almost always able to land some zingers.

Christina always listens to her mother and always takes her advice (sooner or later).

There are some things that she is not good at.  She doesn't like to cook; luckily, her husband does and is a great cook.  She has no color sense (something I know  she inherited from me); luckily she has her mother and her sister to set her straight.

And there are many things she's getting much better at.  I think she's a knockout coach for Jack's soccer team for five-year-olds.  I don't know how she juggles everything -- home, work, husband, kids, appointments, animals, trips, the soap business, her sister's health crisis...everything! -- but she does it well.  No matter what the environment, Christina is the one you can count on.

It seems like yesterday when she was born, bringing so much extra joy into our lives.  That day, I wrote her a letter.  It began, "Hello.  I love you..."  That has not changed.  It could never change.

Happy birthday, darling.


From 1953, the first single from Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters.


The Hall of Fantasy started as a low-budget mystery program created by staffers Dick Thorne and Carl Greyson in 1946 at Salt Lake City's KALL radio station.  The series ended about a year later when the two left KALL and went their separate ways.   By happenstance, the two reunited at Chicago's WGN station in 1949.  With a bigger budget this time, Thorne and Greyson resurrected The Hall of Fantasy and evntually achieved full syndication through the Mutual network in August of 1952.

The revived radio show concentrated on horror and the supernatural.  Most of the programs were written by Thorne, who also acted in many of the episodes.  The program announcer in Chicago was George Bauer.

"The Temple of Huitzilipochle" concern two geological surveyors searching for uranium in the deepest jungles of Brazil -- "a country where the veil of time is lifted and the supernatural reigns as king.".  The two are taken captive and marked for sacrifice by a modern day Aztec tribe descended from escapees from savage Spaniards.  This episode first aired on June 29, 1953.

Because the format of the show did not include credits, I have no idea who was in the cast.  That should not stop you from enjoying this half-hour episode, however.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


Time to celebrate Liberace, born 101 years ago today.


The three toughest mice in New York City went into a bar and started drinking flaming shots.  After the fourth round, one of the mice said, "I try to keep in shape.  When I come across a mousetrap I lay down on it on my back and then set the trap off with my foot.  When the bar comes down I catch it with my paws and bench-press it fifty times.  And before I leave I never forget to take the cheese."

Another round and the second mouse said, "Every morning I take some rat poison pellets.  I grind them up into a powder and add it to my coffee.  This wakes me up enough so I can start the day fresh."

After still another round, the third mouse looks at his watch and winks at the other two.  "Sorry, fellas.  Got to go.  I have a date with a cat."

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Judy Collins with a classic song from Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera.


The Three Mesquiteers ride inro danger, murder, treasure, and an Indian cult in the lost city of Lukachuke.  Join Stony Brooke (Robert Livingston), Tucson Smith (Ray Corrigan), and Lullaby Joslin (Max Terhune) on one of their strangest adventures.   Mary Russell plays the pretty archaeologist because a flick like this really needs a pretty archaeologist.


Monday, May 14, 2018


Hard to believe, but he would have been 82 today.


Openers:  He liked to drink sparingly after dinner. but now he noticed he had let Chet Burney force three of his extra-potent highballs on him, and he guessed that they were the equivalent of six drinks at a bar.  Chet believed firmly in the social prowess of alcohol, and when Chet and Alice gave a large cocktail party, there were many critical cases of remorse the next morning, and many earnest vows to be more careful at the next Burney affair.  -- John D. MacDonald, Clemmie (1958)

I've Been Reading:  August Derleth's The House on the Mound was his second historical novel featuring Hercules Dousman, fur trapper turned businessman and once the richest person in the greater Wisconsin area.  Published sixty years ago, it may be a bit dated for some readers but I loved it.  Similar to Neil Gaiman's Make Good Art graduation speech, Carl Hiaasen's brief Assume the Worst:  The Graduation Speech You'll Never Hear is chock-full of humor, wisdom, and common sense.  The illustrations by Roz Chast are also great.  As for graphic novels, I read four volumes of Robert Kirkman's Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta (that's the official title, with Kirkman as writer and Paul Azaceta as artist) -- Volume 1:  A Darkness Surrounds Him, Volume 2:  A Vast and Unending Ruin, Volume 3:  This Little Light, and Volume 4:  Under Devil's Wing.  Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and has been instrumental in performing exorcisms.  But there is no God and there is no devil, so what is this evil that has been stalking Kyle and those close to him?  A nifty atmospheric series that is slow to reveal its secrets.

Currently, I'm about one-third into dean Koontz's latest Jane Hawk novel, The Crooked Staircase.  Typical Koontz, with writing so good that one overlooks his faults.  Coming up, John Connolly's mainstream novel about Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, He.  Plus, any bright, shiny, sparklies that happen by and I'm overdue for a pulp short story binge.

Imagination:  I never had any imaginary friends when I was young, not -- to my knowledge -- did anyone I knew.  Then came adulthood...still no imaginary friends.  But my young nephew Brendan had three (Rosie, Bumpy, and Pokey) and would regale us with their antics.  When Brendan and his imaginary friends went to a Montessori pre-school, my brother-in-law could not complain because he was paying for one kid and not all four.  When my granddaughter Amy was very young, her imaginary friend was Spidey; she spent several miserable days because Spidey was mad at her and refused to talk to her.  And now we have Jack.  I don't know if Jack's imaginary friend has a name, but the other day he was having a pretend telephone conversation with him and Jack got mad at him, yelling,"You're a jerk!  G-E-R-C or K!"  Kindergarten phonics at work!

Jessamyn Update:  Things are moving apace.  Thursday she had a port installed, followed by a meeting with her oncologist.  Today is MRI time, tomorrow she starts chemo, and on Wednesday she will have a PET scan.  We know this will be a long haul but the outcome looks very bright.

More Family Stuff:  Since yesterday was Mother's Day, the entire family got together for portraits.  It had been four years since the last time we did that.  Ceili thought she did not smile enough (she did).  Kitty thought she looked a bit washed out (she was beautiful).  Christina thought she did not photograph well (she did -- beautifully).  Erin thought her hair was too curly (again, she was beautiful).  Everybody laughed.  The photographer thought we were crazy.  One shot was taken of me with a white background; as Jessamyn said, who thought that would be a good idea with my white hair?  I looked like the top of my head had been removed.  Jack decided that a clip-on tie would work great over his tee-shirt.  He also thought a cap with fur ear flaps would complete his outfit.  Many strange pictures were taken -- enough to last us another four years, perhaps.

Equality:  Actor Benedict Cumberbatch will refuse roles if his female co-stars are not paid equally.  Good for him.  I wish everyone could afford to take a similar stand.

The Trump Dump:  Fox news host and woman who makes Ann Coulter seem almost reasonable Jeanine Pirro says that Trump is fulfilling a biblical prophecy by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.  This is evidently lost on most countries who did not send envoys to the opening ceremonies.  POMOTUS, however, fulfilled another biblical prophecy by sending his B team of Ivanka and Jared to represent his administration at the ceremony...The Israeli soccer team Beitar Jerusalem has renamed itself Beiter "Trump" Jersalem in honor of Trump's decision to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.  Someone should tell them that putting the Trump name on something -- whether it be steaks, a university, or just about anything else -- is not necessarily a formula for success...Mr. America First has pledged to rescue the Chinese cell phone manufacturer ZTE Corp...Sean Hannnity and Donald Trump like to chat before going to bed.  Does that sentence sound strange?...POMOTUS is praising Kim Jung Un's promise to publicly destroy North Korea's main nuclear test site.  What Kim forgot to tell Trump was that the site is that too many tests have rendered the site useless.  While Trump is basking in the (im)possible chance that he will get a Noble Peace Prize, he appears totally unaware that Kim is playing him...The Noble Committee has made the unusual move of announcing that Trump's nomination (that's right, he was "nominated" two years in a row) has been proven to be forged (twice)...Highly placed leakers in the Trump administration have taken to impersonating each other to disguise themselves...The nominee to head the C.I.A., Gina Haspel appears to have enough votes for Senate approval this week, despite having been once in charge of a secret enhanced interrogation site...For once I agree with Mitt Romney who has denounced the choice of Dallas-based pastor Robert Jeffress to lead the prayer at the dedication ceremony of the new Israeli embassy.  Jeffress has disparaged Jews, Muslims, and Mormans in the past (perhaps it was the last that got Romney's goat).  His one saving grace, at least in the eyes of POMOTUS, appears to be his stanch support of Trump and his defending Trump in the Stormy Daniels affair...In a Mother's Day video Trump released yesterday, he praised his own mother but made no mention of Melania.  Could there be another Eastern European beauty waiting in the wings.

Disturbing on Every Level:  On this day in 1939, Peruvian Lina Medina, age five, became the youngest confirmed mother in medical history.  Suddenly I don't feel very clean.

In Other News:  Do not take your bear to Dairy Queen for ice cream.  At least not during work hours.


I admit it.  I'm a lexophile.  I'm likely on some list!
If there's a play on words somewhere, I really can't resist.
A twist of phrase, a brutal pun, or the turn of a sonnet fine,
Will fill my soul with childlike bliss, be it deft or unrefined.
Consonance, or assonance,or dissonance that splatters,
A doggerel mess, or the good bard's best, it really doesn't matter.
Homonyms and antonyms and synonyms galore,
Give the plot a wicked curve and I'll come back for more.
It's all about the words my friends and how you make them tumble.
Make them smooth or honey sweet or ghastly in a jumble.
I'll take them scrambled, fried or raw, whatever you may may mete,
Because baby, I'm a lexophile; a boiled egg's hard to beat!
     -- Dean Wood

Sunday, May 13, 2018


The 1964 World Science Fiction Convention was held in Oakland, California, with Anthony Boucher as Toastmaster.  Guests of Honor were Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton.  This 35-minute audio with images has Tony Boucher announcing that year's Hugo awards and Guests of Honor speeches by Brackett and Hamilton.  Leigh Brackett was a screenwriter (The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo, The Empire Strikes Back), Spur-winning western writer (Follow the Free Wind), mystery and suspense novelist (An Eye for an Eye, The Tiger among Us), and author of both planetary romance ("The Purple Priestess of the Mad Moon," "Sea Kings of Mars") and more mature science fiction (The Big Jump, The Long Tomorrow).  Her husband, "World Wrecker" Edmond Hamilton, was a master of space opera and super science stories (Crashing Suns, Tharkol, Lord of the Unknown), creator of Captain Future, and writer for such classic comic books as Superman, Batman, and Legion of Superheroes.

Toastmaster Anthony Boucher was one one the most important influence in mid-twentieth century mystery and science fiction as a critic, editor, author, and mentor. 

Enjoy this blast from science fiction's past.


Mississippi John Hurt.

Saturday, May 12, 2018


It's been a while since I posted a song by the great Ian Tyson.


Hiram Hefty is the fat man in this syndicated comic strip from 1909 drawn by "Weston."  Who Weston was I have no idea.  Also, I have no idea on when this strip started nor on how long it ran.  

The catch phrase "Nobody loves a fat man" had some popularity during that decade and later.  There is a postcard dated 1909 that showed a fat dog with that phrase printed on it, and Arthur Collins recorded a song "No One Love a Fat Man" in 1909.  The song -- or at least a song by that title has been recorded over the years, with a 1917 version by Ernie Mayne described as a music hall song.  In 1910, a cartoon depicting president Howard Taft wearing a cowboy outfit and sitting by a chuck wagon wit the caption, "Oh hell!  nobody loves a fat man!"  Also in 1909, a film short was released with the title Nobody Loves a Fat Man all details about this have evidently been lost to history.  The title was later used for a Fatty Arbuckle short.

What we have is 52 cartoons from 1909 about Hiram Hefty, a man scorned by one and all because of his size.  Fat shaming has been with us for quite a while now, folks.

The pattern of the strip reminds me of Winsor McCay's "Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend," a classic newspaper strip begun in 1904.  (Oddly enough, Edison's 1906 silent short based on McCay's strip has at times been mistakenly dated 1903.  Just for jollies you can view the film here and examples of McCay's strip can be viewed here  You can compare them with "Nobody Loves a Fat Man" yourself.)

From more than a century ago, here are the misadventures of Hiram Hefty.

Friday, May 11, 2018


The Spencer Davis Group.


The House on the Mound by August Derleth (1958)

August Derleth (1909-1971) was a literary polymath perhaps best known today for his association with H. P. Lovecraft and the co-founding Arkham House, the publishing company that promoted Lovecraft's work after that author died.  For many mystery fans, Derleth is known for the creation of Solar Pons, a Sherlock Holmes pastiche who solved his way through some five dozen cases.  (The Pons stories were continued after Derleth's death by Basil Copper and by David Marcum.)  During his lifetime Derleth was also noted as a gifted regional writer whose Wisconsin Saga (and its subset, the Sac Prairie Saga) explored the world through its microcosm of Derleth's home state.  Novels (historical, literary, regional, mysteries, and juveniles), short stories, poetry, journalism, and nonfiction were blended in a vast literary output that spotlighted Wisconsin and its people.  Derleth's promotion  of both Wisconsin and of Wisconsin writers was tireless.

The House on the Mound was the second novel about Hercules Dousman (1800-1868), a fur trader turned businessman and real estate speculator.  Dousman became the richest person in Wisconsin and was instrumental in the development of first the Territory, then the state.  Dousman's influence in the area is difficult to overstate; he even gave his neighboring territory the name Minnesota.

Dousman, as imagined by Derleth, was a scrupulous man whose business interests helped expand the country's westward growth through his connections with the steamship and railroad expansions, as well as his many real estate dealings.  Dousman was respected by settlers, business leaders, politicans, and Indians alike.

The House on the Mound is a novel about the inexorable movement of change -- both within a society and within individuals.  It opens a few years after Dousman has built a magnificent two-story house in Prairie du Chien for his second wife Jane and their infant son.  Jane was the widow of Rousman's partner, Joseph Rolette, a man of weak and self-destructive character.  Dousman had done what he could for Rolette, but the man died heavily in debt and much of his property reverted to Dousman.  Two years after Rolette's death, Hercules Dousman married Jane Rolette.

Jane had three children by Rolette -- a married daughter only briefly mentioned in this novel, a somewhat lazy son who sponged money from Dousman and who soon leaves the novel, perhaps to start a political career, and a daughter who died tragically young.  Dede, the infant son of Jane and Dousman, is subconsciously a replacement for Jane's lost daughter.  Hercules Dousman was a long-time widower with one daughter who moved in with her aunt after Dousman married Jane when the girl was thirteen.  Five years later she returned to Prairie Du Chien to marry and bear a passle of children and does not play a major role in the novel.

Some time after Dousman's first wife had died and while Jane was still married to Rolette, Dousman had a brief affair that ended when the woman suddenly left town.  Unknown to Dousman, the woman was pregnant with his son.  The child, named George, was taken in by Joseph Rolette's sister and his birth remained a secret.  Less than a year after his birth, George's mother died.  (Note:  Derleth had to invent a character for George's mother; the mother in real-life was killed off for plot reasons in the earlier novel Bright Journey.  The lesson here?  Plan ahead.)

George's foster mother had nothing but hatred and animosity for Dousman.  A self-serving woman, she did nothing to help her brother during his last years but still she loved him and could not see his faults.  In her mind, Hercules Dousman was the villain who drove her brother to death and stole both his business and his wife.  Now she had Dousman's son and was raising him to hate his father.

The boy was about six years old when Dousman became aware of his existence and, even then, he was loath to believe the boy could be his.  But the boy was the spitting image of Dousman at that age and slowly he came to realize the truth.  But what to do about it?  Dousman wanted to bring the boy to his home, raise him, and secure his future.  The boy, for his part, spit on Dousman the first time he met him.

Dousman's attempt to claim his son is the thread that runs through the novel, but the book's strength is the growth of America through the lens of Wisconsin.  Tales of voyageurs, Indians, and immigrants weave their way into the story, as do the politics and social standards of the time.  We met -- sometimes briefly, sometimes obliquely -- other historical characters from other novels in the Wisconsin Saga, as well as others, such as Ulysses Grant and Zachery Tyler, and glimpses at William Henry Harrison, James K. Polk, and Chief Black Hawk.  One subplot involves Dousman's secretive clerk, who turns out to be the son of a man murdered by agents of Astor's fur company and who himself is marked by assassins.

Dousman's world is a patriarchal one and his views may be off-putting for today's reader.  Perhaps this is offset by some of the political commentary, which still rings true today.

In the end, this is a well-written novel which brings to life the sights, sounds, and smells of Derleth's beloved Wisconsin as it emerges from a frontier to a well-settled country.  Derleth's appreciation for nature is well displayed here, as is his knowledge of the human heart and its aspirations.

This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoyed the book greatly.

Thursday, May 10, 2018


The Bay City Rollers.


The Haunting Hour was a short-lived radio program of which little is known.  It was a half-hour anthology horror/suspense program originating out of NBC Philadelphia affiliate KYW.  At least 53 distinct scripts were produced, with a possible another 39 to 52 scripts.  Because NBC syndicated the program, no specific dates can be given for episode premieres; for example,  "The Case of the Lonesome Corpse" aired on Sunday, December 16, 1945 4:00 pm on KYW, and at 8:30 pm the previous evening on Sacramento's KFBK, yet the Tucson affiliate began airing The Haunting Hour as early as June 1945.

Information on this particular episode is also hard to find.  The writer?  No idea, but writers for the series included Max Erlich (The Big Eye, The Reincarnation of Peter Proud), Edwin Wolfe (director of this series and a radio, television, and stage actor), and -- possibly -- Brett Halliday.  Among the actors used in the series were Frank Lovejoy, Jackson Beck, Eve Arden, Betty Furness, and Jed Prouty -- not the really big name actors, but solid, dependable pros.

So, let's join host Barry Kroeger as he welcomes you, "No, no!  Stay where you are.  Do not break the stillness of this moment, for this is a time of mystery -- a time where imagination is free and moves forward swiftly -- silently.  This is The Haunting Hour."


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Tuesday, May 8, 2018


Chris Smither.


Time Out for Ginger was an unsold television pilot based on Ronald Alexander's hit 1953 play.  The show had been adapted once before for television for a 1955 episode of the anthology series Shower of Stars, with Jack Benny and Ruth Hussey.  The version we are concerned with here was filmed around 1960 and aired as the September 18, 1962, episode of The Comedy Spot, a summer replacement for The Red Skelton Show.  (The Comedy Spot was basically an excuse to burn up unaired pilots.)

The Ginger in the title is Ginger Carroll, a precocious 13-year-old girl, very loud and very determined.  Ginger's big sister Joan needs a car for her date so spunky li'l sis decides to buy one.  Insert standard Fifties sitcom material here.

Ginger is played by Candy Moore, who went on to play the daughter in The Lucy Show and Jeff's girlfriend in The Donna Reed Show.  She appeared in a few films, including Night of the Grizzley and Raging Bull, but had quit acting around 1981.  For most of the Seventies she was married to Paul Gleason (All My Children, The Breakfast Club, Die Hard).  Now 70, Candy Moore is currently teaching English in Los Angeles.

The role of Joan went to Roberta Shore, who began singing at age ten in Tex Williams' Knotts Berry Farm show.  The next year she joined The Pinky Lee Show, then went on to be featured in a number of Disney productions, including The Shaggy Dog.   A devote Mormon, she left show business in 1965 to concentrate on raising her family.  She is currently a manufacturer's representative for a furniture company.  One interesting note:  Shore was the first person to record the song "Let There Be Peace on Earth."

Ginger and Joan's parents were played by Karl Swenson and Margaret Hayes.  swenson had a long career in radio, film, and television as a character actor and had recurring roles in Little House on the Prairie and Cimarron Strip.  Margaret Hayes started on Broadway in 1940, then quickly moved to film, often playing the second lead.  In the late Forties, she became fashion editor for Life magazine, leaving that position to return to acting.  Hayes kept busy -- mainly in small roles and guest roles in television -- throughout the Fifties and into the Sixties when she retired once again from acting.  She became a fashion and jewelry designer, model, and boutique owner.  She passed away in 1977 from cancer.

Margaret Hamilton (The Wizard of Oz and a gazillion other great performances)  played the Carroll family's housekeeper, Lizzie.

Not the greatest and not the funniest, but Time Out for Ginger could have been a contender had it been allowed to grow past the pilot stage.


Monday, May 7, 2018


An all-too-true song from Lou & Peter Berryman.


Openers:  There appeareth in these days of ours (of which many do believe that they be the last days) among the common folk, a certain disease which causeth those who do suffer from it (so soon as they have either scraped and higgled together so much that they can, besides a few pence in their pocket, wear a fool's coat of the new fashion with a thousand bits of silk ribbon upon it, or by some trick of fortune have become known as men of parts) forthwith to give themselves out gentlemen and nobles of ancient descent.  Whereas it doth often happen that their ancestors were day-laborers, carters, and porters, their cousins donkey-drivers, their brothers turnkeys and catchpolls, their sisters harlots, their mothers bawds -- yea, witches even:  and in a word, their whole pedigree of thirty-two quarterings as full of dirt and stain as ever was the sugar-bakers' guild of Prague.  Yea, these new sprigs of nobility be often themselves as black as if they had been born and bred in Guinea.  -- The Adventurous Simplicissimus (also known as Simplicius Simplicissimus) by Hans Jakob Christof von Grimmelshausen (1668)

[Not the most politically correct way to start off a novel, I know.  Despite tha, this book is a true comic treasure.]

I've Been Off:  Sine last Tuesday.  Why?  Take your pick:
     a) Life interfered, or
     b) You're not the boss of me, Internet! or
     c) Both of the above.

I've Been Reading:  Well, I finally finished August Derleth's The Milwaukee Road, a history of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway from its humble start as the Milwaukee & Mississippi Rail Road Company in 1847 through its first century.  Behind Derleth's detailed (perhaps too detailed) look at the growth of a small line to a powerhouse reaching the Pacific, are the people and anecdotes that made the Milwaukee Road one of the best-operated and progressive railroads in the country.  Interesting reading, although the inclusion of some decent maps would have been helpful.  I also read Antiques Wanted, the latest Trash n Treasure mystery from Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins writing as "Barbara Allan."  This time Vivian decides to run for sheriff.  Throw in an explosion at a nursing home and an autographed poster of Gabby Hayes and we are often to another wonderful adventure of Brandy and Vivian Bourne.  It's difficult to keep a series like this fresh and funny, but the authors manage it easily.  Recommended.  Lumberjanes:  Beware the Kitten Holy collects the first four issues this comic book.  Set at Miss Giunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, five young kickass girls meet up with three-eyed foxes, river monsters, talking statues, werewolf boys, and poison ivy.  Written by Noelle Stevenson and Garace Ellis and illustrated by Brooke Allen, this one's great fun.  Also great fun but a lot darker is Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead, Compendium Three which covers issues #97-144 of the comic.  The comic varies from the television show quite a bit, but this is the volume that covers the war with Negan -- essential reading for TWD fans.
     Coming up:  The House on the Mound, a historical novel by Derleth, part of his Winconsin Saga.  Due soon from the library are Steven King's latest, Dean Koontz's latest, and Ace Atkins latest post-Robert B. Parker Spenser novel.

Haunted?:  The house at the end of Christina's road just went up for sale, the third time in the three years we've been here.  It reminded us of a house near where Kitty's brother lived in the Mount Vernon area of Arlington, Virginia.  That house went on sale several times a year and we always wondered why no one stayed there very long.  Was it haunted?  Built on top of an old Indian burial ground?  Were there bodies inside the walls or beneath the floorboards?  Was it a former meth house and dangerous to occupy?  Were biker gangs and neo-Nazis determined that no one should live there?  Or, since the land was once part of Geo. Washington's estate, could the ghost of George be dropping in on a regular basis, demanding to know what had happened to his wooden teeth?  The possibilities are endless.  Feel free to use this in a story.

One of Many Things I Can't Understand:  Gas prices.  They go up when oil production goes down.  They don't go down when oil production rises.  They vary depending on demand or season.  there are three "cheap" gas stations in my immediate area -- usually their prices are seldom than a penny off from each other.  Last week one jumped up ten cents; two days later the others jumped up ten cents while the first dropped four cents.  Yesterday they were down to the price they were at last week.  We can drive by a station on a brief errand and return ten minutes later to see the price jump up three cents.  This past week one station changed its price three times in one day!  I think these gas stations enjoy playing with my mind, but why?  I'm going to buy the gas anyway.   Does the ever erratic price of gas drive you crazy, too?

Props:  I have to give props to the Green Gators, Jack's soccer team for five-year-olds.  Friday night only three kids on his team showed up, meaning that Jack, Cooper, and Rachel played the entire game against the rotating team of the Purple Lasers who had six kids show up.  A gallant effort was made but the Green Gators lost 9-2.  (The score is approximate because five-year-olds playing can be confusing.)  Rachel got her first goal ever (we think; she may have scored after the whistle for the quarter's ending was blown -- but what the hell, give it to her).  The second goal the green Gators got was actually kicked in by one of the Purple Lasers.  During the third quarter, Jack and Cooper played alone because Rachel had to run off the go pee.  Christina spent a lot of time trying to convince Jack that when there only three players on your team, it's not a good idea to play defense -- especially when the other two players are hesitant to kick the ball.  One of the coaches for the other side took the game to heart, jumping up and down and screaming; to his credit he did scream his profanities, only the non-profanities.  Anyway, a valiant effort on the part of all players.  Kudos.

Another of the Many Things I Can't Understand:  The though processes of other people, such as the 26-year-old Denver woman who was cited after a 7-11 microwave blew up a urine sample she had place in it. 

Rudy:  In response to Trump's hiring his latest personal lawyer, Robert Mueller has taken to relaxing in a hammock with a margarita while letting Rudy do his work for him.

Happy Birthday, Gabby:  George "Gabby" Hayes was born 133 years ago today in Stannards, New York.  He played semi-professional baseball while in high school, ran away from home at 17 and joined a stock company and became a successful vaudevillian.  He retired at age 43 in 1928 and lost his savings in the 1929 stock market crash.  His wife suggested that he try his luck in films.  They moved to Los Angeles, where he began his career as a character actor, eventually becoming best known as the sidekick of William (Hopalong Cassidy) Boyd, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Wild Bill Elliott, Randolph Scott, and John Wayne in many.  Although most identified with westerns, Hayes had never ridden a horse before he was well into his forties.  In real life, Hayes was an "intelligent, well-groomed and articulate man."
    An autographed poster of him plays a part in Antiques Wanted by "Barbara Collins"  (see above).

Amaryllis:  Here's a poem by Edward Arlington Robinson:


Once, when I wandered in the woods alone,
An old man tottered up to me and said,
"Come, friend, and see the grave I have made
for Amaryllis."  There was in the tone
Of his complaint such quaver and such moan
That I took pity on him and obeyed,
And long stood looking where his hands had laid
An ancient woman, shrunk to skin and bone.

Far out beyond the forest I could hear
The calling of loud progress, and the bold
Incessant scream of commerce ringing clear;
But though the trumpets of the world were glad,
It made me lonely and it made me sad
To think that amaryllis had grown old.

Endings:  Th-Th-That's all folks!  -- P. Pig (1953 on; although the phrase had been used by other cartoon characters [Bosco, Buddy, Beans] earlier)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018


Dick Dale, King of the Surf Guitar..


No mummy.

No monster.

What it is is an interesting film from the great German director Ernst Lubitsch with early appearances by Pola Negri and Emil Jannings.

Pola Negri plays Ma, a dancer who is kidnapped and held in an ancient Egyptian temple.  She is rescued and flees to London with her mysterious captor following her.  Emil Jannings lays Radu, a mysterious and sometimes comical Arab.  Harry Liedtke provides a bit of romance as the painter Albert Wendland.

(An interesting note and completely off-topic:  Liedtke was killed in 1945 by Red Army soldiers when he tried to prevent the rape of a young girl.)

The tagline for this film was:  "Bewitching Pola Negri as an Oriental dancer who comes from the burning Sahara to capture London society by storm.  All the charm and mystery of the East caught into a passion-swept romance irresistible appeal."

Enjoy this film, but watch out...because "The eyes are alive!"