Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, June 30, 2018


This song is one of my major earworms.

Here's the great Josh White with two versions:

And the equally great Dave Van Ronk with his take:

And, from 1944, Tony Pastor and His Orchestra:

And The Andrews Sisters:

Lest we forget, Ol' Blue Eyes (joined by Lou Costello):

Let's go full circle and close with Josh White, Jr.:


The T-Man of the title is Pete Trask, a tall, lantern-jawed man with a dash of oh-so-sophisticated gray at the temples and a pencil-thin mustache.  Created by Joseph Millard for Quality Comics Police Comics #103 (December 1950), where he appeared for 22 of the next 25 issues.  During this run, quality also gave T-Man his own comic book, which lasted for 38 issues until Quality closed its doors and DC Comics took over their properties.  DC evidently had no use for Pete Trask, never using the character.  Thus, after T-Man #38 (December 1956) Pete Trask joined so many other comic book heroes in Comic Book Valhalla.

In this issue:

Trask is at the dentist, not realizing that the dentist fearing discovery by Allied agents -- has placed a microfilm intended for Communist spies in one of Trask's teeth.

When a baron with diplomatic immunity steals a secret military code book, Trask must get it back.

A stampeding elephant in India uncovers a subversive printing operation located in a mosque.  Pete is on the case.

This issue also introduces Jack Cole's 'The Teen Terrors,"  Augie Moore, Marcie Blayne, Slope Carr, and Red are typical teenagers hanging around the malt shop.  They decide to become detectives -- with disastrous results.


Friday, June 29, 2018


Roy Orbison...nobody did it better.


Felony File by "Dell Shannon" (Elizabeth Linington) (1980)

Under the name "Dell Shannon," Elizabeth Linington (1921-1988) published 38 novels about Los Angeles Detective Luis Mendoza -- her most popular character -- beginning with the Edgar-nominated Case Pending in 1960.  This one was number 31 in the series.

The prolific author also wrote 13 novels under her own name about Hollywood police sergeant Ivor Maddox, 13 novels about lawyer Jesse Falkenstein as by "Leslie Egan,"  and 13 novels about cop Vic Vallero (also as by "Leslie Egan").  She also wrote seven novels and one collection under her own name and as "Dell Shannon," "Lesley Egan," "Egan O'Neill," and "Anne Blaisdell."  Linington was one of the first women to write police procedurals and was known as "The Queen of the Procedural."

She was also a conservative activist and a member of the John Birch Society.  I can't really say how much that influenced her work since Felony File was the first book of hers I read, although I have several others lurking about.

For someone raised on the police procedurals of Ed McBain, and later, Dorothy Uhnak, Linington's take is a bit jarring, albeit perhaps a tad more realistic.  The cases for Mendoza's Robbery-Homicide Squad come fast and furious, some being solved quickly, others less so, many are resolved through happenstance, others through deductive skills.  As the novel starts, a previous case is about to go to trial.  By the story's end the hunt is still on for one killer, no decision has been whether to charge his accomplice, and there are more robberies to solve.  Crime and violence never stop.

A gang has been using a very sophisticated plan to rob department stores, following several similar robberies in other states.  A blowsy blonde has been robbing smaller stores, managing to outwit the police.  A nine-year-old girl is brutally raped and murdered while her mother's boyfriend is passed out drunk in the next room.  An "Avon lady" shoots a woman who answered her knock.  A man caring for his paraplegic brother is brutally murdered during a home invasion.  An unidentified woman's body is found in a park.  A kidnapped victim of a sadistic rapist and murderer managers to escape from her captor but cannot say where or by whom she was held.  A teacher is stabbed.  A twelve-year-old boy mugs an woman in her eighties.  A businessman is murdered and found near the dead body of a cleaning lady who had been posed as if she had been sexually assaulted.

Through all this we are treated with glimpses into the lives of Mendoza and the members of his squad.  The problem, for me, was that I kept confusing all the different policemen -- they shoot in and out of the book so quickly that -- probably because I was not familiar with the series -- despite their individual home lives, they appear interchangeable.  Even Mendoza is not well-defined.  He's a dedicated professional who deprecates sloppy police work.  He wears expensive tailored suits (which tend to get destroyed while he's on the job), drives a Ferrari, and is devoted to his wife and children.  His family, along with various retainers who have been absorbed by the household and three cats and an old English sheepdog, is about to move into a large estate in Burbank -- evidently inherited by Mendoza's wife, Alison.  To please their five-year-old twins, Mendoza has decided to add some horses to the family menagerie, and somehow managed to also get five sheep -- with hints from the author that the sheep will be giving Mendoza trouble in an upcoming book.  Beyond these trappings, the reader does not get to know Mendoza at all.

A running thread throughout Felony File involves Mendoza's rescue of a cat in a burning building.  To Mendoza's chagrin, a photo taken of the rescue has gone viral and he is besieged by well-meaning cat fanciers and animal rights activists.  This amusing thread provides a final coup de grace to the book.

About that title.  It's about as generic as you can get and does little to enhance the plot.  Not much effort appeared to used in the title.

Despite my misgivings, this is a very good book.  An entertaining book.  At times, a ruthlessly realistic book.  I believe he more books in the series that you read, to be more understandable and readable Lieutenant Luis Medoza and the Robbery-Murder Squad would be.

So that's what I hope to do.  Soon.

Monday, June 25, 2018


I took a toss on my driveway yesterday and really bunged up my wrist -- a severe sprain, or possibly I broke it.  Whichever.  It hurts like @#$%^&.

I'm taking a few days off from blogging while it heals.  Back soon.

Sunday, June 24, 2018


The keynote address from the Sixth Annual Writer's Symposium by the Sea, April 2001.

Ray Bradbury has been an important voice in American life.  Perhaps he is even more important now, six years after his death.


Ruth Brown.

Saturday, June 23, 2018




Once again let's travel to the ever-dangerous jungle with Frank Riddell's Kaanga (Fiction House's Tarzan wannabe), his mate Ann (a Clark Kent-colored -- so black it's blue -- raven-haired beauty ever so fashionable in a two-piece leopard skin outfit), and N'geeso (their native warrior friend) where they face off against a giant ape man (no, not Tarzan, but a brutish Neanderthal-type giant).

Then, we can hop over to India with Roy L. Smith's Wambi the Jungle Boy (who talks to, and is friends with, the jungle animals.  Wambi's friend, the large ape Ogg (along with many other creatures) , has been captured and caged by strangers intent on selling the jungle animals.  Wambi may be non-violent, but the bad men are.

Another white jungle lord is Tabu, drawn by Howard Larsen.  This necklace-wearing man is a jungle lord with a difference -- he has strange magical powers.  He turns an old log into an angry hippopotamus, leaves into vampire bats, and a women's hair into snakes, a la Medusa.  Tabu must use his mighty powers to stop n invading tribe.

Then, Simba, King of the beasts, goes against an evil witch doctor who hopes to wreak vengeance on the tribe that banished him.

Follow this up with stories about Captain Terry Thunder of the Foreign Legion and Camilla, Queen of the Jungle Empire and you have an action-packed issue.


Friday, June 22, 2018


The Holy Modal Rounders (Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber).  In some later configurations of the group, the actor/playwriter Sam Shepard served as drummer.  Stampfel married Betsy Wollheim and became an associate editor ar DAW Books.  According to The Holy Modal Rounders Facebook page, Steve Weber is immortal.

Two somewhat different versions, one by W. C. Handy, of this song were published in 1915.  the versions, both combined and adapted has become a jug band and blues standard.  More than 45 artists have recorded the song over the years, including Duke Ellington, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Janis Joplin, Willie Nelson, and Jelly Roll Morton.


Weeping May Tarry by Raymond F. Jones and Lester del Rey (1978)

Let's talk a little about Lester del Rey (1915-1993), the feisty and opinionated talented writer/editor who was named a Grand Master by The Science Fiction Writers of America in 1990, the eleventh to hold that title.

Much of what del Rey claimed about his past was pure fabrication.  He claimed his full name was Ramon Filipe San Juan Mario Silvio Enrico Smith Heathcote-Brace Sierra y Alverez-del Rey y Los Uerdes, that he was partially of Spanish extraction, the son of a poor sharecropper whose parents, brother, and sister were killed in an automobile accident in 1935.  Actually, his name was Leonard Knapp and it was his first wife who was killed in the 1935 accident and not his birth family.  If memory serves, he claimed he wrote his first story as a teenager when challenged to do so by a girlfriend.  His first story was published in 1938.  (He also claimed that, since he was fifteen, he had not gone without sex with a woman for more than five consecutive days.)  He served as the model for "Emmanuel Rubin" in Isaac Asimov's long-running series about the Black Widowers dining club, having been a member (with Asimov) of the real-life Trap Door Spiders banqueting club.

Del Rey was a gifted writer and editor.  Many of his early stories became classics -- "Helen O'Loy," "Nerves," "the Coppersmith," "The Luck of Ignatz," and others.  He showed that he could write with amazing sensitivity or with brutal realism.  Many of his books were well-regard juveniles, often in the Winston "Adventures in Science Fiction" series.  (Reportedly, many of the plots used in that series were devised by del Rey and Milton lesser while they were working for the Scott Meredith Literary Agency.)  As editor, he helmed five SF magazines in the early Fifties; he put out five Best of the Year science fiction anthologies for Dutton (1972-76); selected the 45 volumes of the Garland Library of Science Fiction in 1975; he joined his fourth wife Judy-Lynn del Rey to edit fantasy books for her del Rey science fiction line for Ballantine Books in 1977 (yes, he was the one who inflicted Terry Brooks' Shannara upon an innocent populace)  and also edited the science fiction books for that line after his wife's death until he retired in 1991.

Del Rey's writing, while still effective, diminished in quality during the later part of his career.  Six novels published as by del Rey were ghost-written by Paul W. Fairman from extensive outlines by del Rey.

Which brings us to Raymond F. Jones (1915-1994), who published a slew of capable science fiction stories in the Forties and Fifties, including the well-regarded Renaissance and This Island Earth.  In his 1950 story "Tools of the Trade," Jones became the first to posit 3-D printing, calling it "molecular spray."  His writing and enthusiasm seemed to dry up in the Sixties.  He published three novels in Roger Elwood's ill-fated Laser Book series from Harlequin in the Seventies, as well a ten undistinguished short stories.  Weeping May Tarry appears to be one of the last science fiction stories that Jones wrote.  (He had at least one additional story published after Weeping May Tarry, "Death Eternal" in the October 1978 issue of Fantastic.)

In 1954, del Rey published a controversial novella, "For I Am a Jealous People!," in which God basically throws His hands up with humanity and selects another "chosen people," an alien race which then comes to Earth to destroy mankind...but god may have underestimated man.

Weeping May Tarry is a thematic -- though not direct -- sequel to del Rey's novella.  I have no idea what or how much input del Rey had on this novel -- whether del Rey physically wrote part of the book, or provided an outline for the novel, or just provided the theme through his earlier story.  The writing in Weeping May Tarry is journeyman-like but uninspired.  Basically it is a swan song from two talented writers.

A millennia ago, the planet Alcor avoided a self-destructive war that had destroyed many other civilizations on various worlds and at various times throughout the galaxy.  At that time the religion of the Keelong was formed and its wide-spread practice saved Alcor.  Alcor became ruled by a theocracy, with control given to the Supreme Hierarchy, the only group that was privy to many of the religion's secrets.  Alcorans did not know if the Keelong itself was a divine entity or an incorporate something; what was known was that the planet and its people survive because of daily, rigorous obeisance.  The high priests (and enforcers) of this religion were the Amas.  Any undertakings had to be approved by an assigned Ama, such as Toreg, a hard-liner assigned to the spaceship Prohorus -- one of many ships sent throughout space to promulgate the Keelong and to investigate any planets that were destroyed by inner warfare.

After visiting the ruined planet Zenk 12, Prohorus's astrogators stumbled on a nearby and unknown planet that was just off from the ship's scheduled flight.  While entering that planet's atmosphere, an accident happened that left the ship and crew abandoned on the unknown planet with no way to contact Alcor or any ship.  The planet, we soon learn, is Earth -- once home of ten billion people and now an unpopulated orb in space.  The ship's commander, Cromar, and its captain, Mohre, determine to make the best of their abandonment.  The crew would begin to make a permanent home on the planet and -- just in case they were to be rescued -- their original assignment would be carried out.

Among the ruins of a city, they come across a large building obviously constructed for an important purpose.  Hanging on a wall was a horrendous statue of a tortured man, bloody and nailed to a cross.  The Alcorans cannot understand this display of brutality.  They assume the building must be a "War Building" and the statue must represent one of the horror committed by their enemies.  They also found a book, intact, with a symbol of a cross on its cover.

Ama Toreg struggles with life on their new planet and with the fading beliefs in the Keelong by the ship's crew.  Strangely, it is Toreg who provides the clue that allows the book to be slowly translated by the ship's highly sophisticated computer.  Each day a few more lines are translated and read to the crew.  For its part, the crew seems more interested in (and more impressed by) what is in the book than in the Keelong.  Somehow Toreg must suppress the book and the statue if he is to save the Keelong from the rapidly disbelieving crew.

What happens then?  Hint:  the ending is about what you would expect.

Oh.  And there is subplot (actually just a few offhand references) about a supposed revolution against the Keelong.

The Keelong religion and Alcor's stratified society are as well-developed as possible without going into great detail.  The Alcorans, as a race, however, raise many questions for the reader.  They appear to be a reptilian race, but appear to be warm-blooded.  Alcor is much warmer than Earth and has never had snow.  The approach of winter and its blizzards leave the Alcorans fearful and mystified, although they are able to survive in this strange white substance that has covered the ground.  Their reactions, their motives, and their feelings are all too strangely human, as are their family relationships.  It is as if the authors could not be bothered to create an alien race beyond a few scales, rudimentary tails, and strangely colored eyes.  In short, the Alcorans are basically pulp fiction cardboard cutouts with some religious mania added.

Neither this nor the plot's sappy premise should deter you.  It is not a bad read and might have become a classic had it been published in the Thirties or Forties, rather than in the somewhat more sophisticated Seventies.

Thursday, June 21, 2018


The talented and tragic Frankie Lymon, with supposedly the last song he recorded with the Teenagers.  Although it was originally released as by Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers, the song was actually recorded by Lymon with backing by session singers.  Lymon died in 1968 of a heroin overdose.  He was only 25.


Challenge of the Yukon began on Detroit's radio station on WXYZ in 1938.  (WXYZ was also the station that launched The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet.)   In 1947 Quaker Oats became the sponsor and the show moved to ABC, expanding the program from 15 minutes to 30 minutes.  In 1950, Challenge of the Yukon was retitled to the now more familiar Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, airing now three times a week. It aired on the Mutual Broadcasting System from 1950 to its end in 1955.

This episode, "Man in Hiding," aired on October 9, 1951.  Paul Sutton played Sergeant Preston and the part of Yukon King was played a sound effects man, either Dewey Cole of Ted Johnson.

Now, "On, King!  On, you huskies!"

'Well, King this case is closed.'

Wednesday, June 20, 2018


This song reached number 3 in 1961.  

I've always wondered who was the "Norman" Sue Thompson was singing about?  Norman Fell?  Norman Lear?  Norman Vincent Peale?  Norman Reedus? Norman Rockwell?  Norman Schwartzkopf?  Greg Norman?  I may never know.


"Ma'am, your husband has had too much to drink.  He just slide under the table."
"No.  My husband just walked in the door."

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


Ahh, we were young then...


It's been a while since I featured a jungle flick on the blog, so here's Frank Buck traveling to Malaya to stop the Nazis and the Japanese from destroying the rubber industry.  Buck, naturally, plays himself.  June Duprez (The Four Feathers, The Thief of Baghdad, And Then There Were None) serves as eye candy.  Duncan Renaldo ("Hey, Ceesco!"  "Hey, Pancho!") is also featured.

Enjoy this bit of low-budget entertainment from the Forties.

Monday, June 18, 2018


Ian and Sylvia with  one of the many great songs that Ian Tyson wrote.


Openers:  Bob Fairfield strolled from the taxicab to the train gate at the Southern Pacific depot with that subtle something in his manner which indicated a seasoned traveler.  There was nothing in his expression or in his bearing to indicate that a small fortune in diamonds reposed in the light handbag  which he was very particular to keep only in his left hand.
-- "Crooked Lightning" by Erle Stanley Gardner (Detective Fiction Weekly, December 19, 1928)

I've Been Reading:  Continuing my mini-Edgar Rice Burroughs read-a-thon, I read two minor novels in his oevreThe Oakdale Affair has been tagged as the third novel (and final) in Burroughs' "The Mucker" series.  It really isn't, but it does follow the adventures of Bridge, the hobo who had a significant role in The Mucker.  First published in The Blue Book Magazine for March 1918, The Oakdale Affair did not receive book publication until 1937 -- and then jointly with another minor Burroughs novel, The RiderThe Oakdale Affair was a far better read than The Girl from Ferris's (first serialized in All-Story Weekly, September 23 to October 14, 1916, and issued in book form in 1959, and then only in a limited edition of 250 copies from a fan press).  Both are excellent examples of the coincidence theater that Burroughs masters in his books.  My FFB this week was Thomas Tessier's Phantom, a well-written but deliberately inconclusive novel about a nine-year-old boy haunted by...something.  Finally, I read the penultimate volume in Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser series, Swords and Ice Magic.  I first came across these two heroes when I was in high school and my admiration for them and their author has not waned one whit in the intervening years.

I'm currently reading three books.  they are strategically placed around the house and,depending where I am sitting determines which one I'll pick up:  August Derleth's The Shadow in the Glass, Sax Rohmer's The Green Eyes of Bast, and Lester del Rey and Raymond F. Jones' Weeping May Tarry.  The latter is based on del Rey's noted novella "For I Am a Jealous People."

Pie:  Is there anything better?  Of course there is.  I just can't think of it right now.

Bad Day for Bobcats:  A forty-six-year-old Georgia grandmother, DeDe Phillips, was attacked by a rabid bobcat in her driveway, so she did what any feisty lady would do.  She strangled it.  "All I thought was: 'Not today.' I wasn't dying today," she said.  She also had to keep quiet during the attack; her five-year-old grandson was in the house and she was afraid he might come to the door.  She now has to undergo a lengthy and expensive treatment to ensure she does not get rabies from the animal.  The first series of shots has cost her $10,000.  The bobcat attacked her as she finished putting a bumper sticker on her new truck.  (It's Georgia.  Of course it was a truck.)  The sticker read:  "Women who behave seldom make history."

Good Day for Nicknames:  Prince Charles has a nickname for his new daughter-in-law.  He calls Duchess of Sussex "Tungsten" because she is tough an unyielding, like the metal.  For her part, Megan must settle in on a nickname for the Queen, to be used a sometime in the future.  It would be acceptable for her to call the Queen Ma'am, or Mama, but Megan has not yet gone that route.  There is speculation that she might use a "secret" name that was also used by Diana, Princess of Wales.  She will not be using "Lillibet," a pet name reserved for very close family and friends.  Gone are the days of nicknames like "The Barracuda," which is what I used to call my mother-in-law.

Our National Clown Car:  It just keeps rolling along.  Our president is doubling down on his lies and the press ("the enemy of the american people," according to Trump) is beginning to call him on it.  A backlash has come from the administration's family separation policy, which has been called immoral, unethical, and cruel by opponents, and has been "justified" by the Attorney General though the use of a certain biblical passage -- ignoring many other biblical passages and the basic tenets of religion.  Trump is being played by Kim Jung Un and cannot see it.  He tears up government documents into small pieces after using them, leaving aides to tape the pieces back together because each piece of paper legally must go to the National Archives.  Trump is alienating our traditional allies, including Canada now, while praising such repressive regimes as those in Russia, China, North Korea, and Turkey, places run by strongmen of the type Trump envisions himself to be.  All of which would be laughable except that it isn't.

Florida Man:  This week Florida Man Douglas Peter Kelly, 49, felt he was given bad meth from a dealer.  What would any fuzzy-thinking Florida Man do in a case like this?  Right.  He contacted the sheriff's department, asking them to test the drugs so he could press charges against his dealer.  The sheriff's office, "always ready to assist anyone who feels they were mislead in their illegal drug purchase," invited Kelly to drop in with the drugs he wanted tested.  He did...because he's FLORIDA MAN!

Mendelssohn's Concerto in E Minor:  This was the first 12-inch LP issued (by Columbia Records) on this day in 1948.  It was a recording of the New York Philharmonic conducted by Bruno Walter with Nathan Milstein on the violin.  Take a listen.

Today's Poem:


FRIEND, you have wealth and power,
Men go and come at your call,
Yours are the whims of the hour --
What have you done with it all?

I am only a poet
Fighting a bitter fight,
Fate will not even grant me
Leisure in which to write.

You said as your thin lips curled:
"Money is better than bays."
Battered and bruised by the world!
I still have my golden days.

You have lost the power to enjoy,
You tire of each plaything new,
Mine is the heart of a boy;
Friend, I am richer than you!

-- George Essex Evans (1863-1909)

Sunday, June 17, 2018



I've been watching Lords and Ladles recently,  a television show in which three Irish chefs prepare meals that had been served in the past -- a hundred years ago, or longer.

There is a danger to this sort of cooking.  I remember all too well, during the country's Bicentenial celebration, I was tasked to find a recipe from that time that might have been served in New England homes.  I dug up a two hundred-year-old recipe for gingerbread and had the local technical high school cook up a batch to be served at one of my hometown's bicentennial events.  About half an hour before it was to be served, I found that it had grown a significant amount of mold.  Bleah!

I don't think there's much danger in this recipe, which dates back (at least) 2700 years to ancient Greece.  As a matter of fact, it sounds pretty yummy.  All you need are flaxseeds, homey, and olive oil to make some chrysocolla.



From 1928, The Bessemer Sunset Four.

Saturday, June 16, 2018


First, The Hoosier Hot Shots with "I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones"

Then, Groucho and Zeppo with a number from Horse Feathers, "I'm Against It"

And The Cash Cows give some sage advice with "Never Hit Your Grandma with a Shovel"

Finally, I cannot leave you without a sample from the world's most unappreciated classical composer, P.D. Q. Bach.  Here's his "Pervertimento for Bagpipes, Bicycle and Balloons, S. 66"


Derek "Splash" Page, ace reporter for the Daily World, was a friend and sometime aide to Sexton Blake, the great British detective.  He moved to world of comic strips in Comet, a British comic book that ran for 587 issues from 1946 to 1959.  Splash Page was drawn by Alex Oxley.  this sequence, taken from issues in 1950, starts with Splash and his assistant Jill Brent watching a motorcycle speed trial by his friend Tony Marsh.  The motorcycle is called "The Grey Rocket" and it can reach 132 mph, making tony a sure bet to win the famous T.T. Race on the Isle of Man.  This does not sit well with unscrupulous motorcycle manufacturer Lou Millan, who sends thugs out to ensure that Tony and the Grey Rocket do not race.  Tony is injured and cannot race but, coincidentally, Splash Page has done some motorcycle riding before...

An interesting and well-drawn strip, full of action and derring-do.


Friday, June 15, 2018


Phantom by Thomas Tessier (1982)

For reasons known only to the Universe and not to me, I had never read anything by Thomas Tessier before.  Tessier, after having written three books of poetry, joined the horror boom in the late Seventies; unlike many others he stayed in the field after the bubble burst.  By 1997 Tessier had published eight well-reviewed novels when he began to concentrate on short stories (four collections) and other fields (he has written several books on golf, for instance).  His last novel in the field was published in 2007.

Phantom was Tessier's third novel and (Spoiler Alert!) follows his well-known reputation of difficult and/or unresolved endings.  It was nominated for a World Fantasy Award.

I found it to be a weird book, both in subject and in presentation.  Let me explain.

The protagonist of the book is young Ned Covington, a nine-year-old boy who appears far too mature for his age who also embodies a child's imagination and lack of sophistication.  An only child, Ned and his parents move to an old house -- known as the Farley house to the locals, after the family that first occupied it some eighty years before -- in Lynnhaven, an isolated village on the shores of the Chesapeake.  It's summertime.  School has not started.  Ned has not met anyone his own age.

As he explores his new surroundings, Ned comes across an old, rickety, rundown bait shop.  It's run by an old, rickety, rundown man named Peeler (who sleeps in an rusted-out car because his shack is filled with empty beer cans) and his equally rickety friend Cloudy.  Ned forms a strong bond with the two and spends much of his time with them.  For their part, Peeler and Cloudy try to protect the young boy from the bad things that have happened in the town.  Ned's new home, for instance, is the site of a vicious family murder and, since then, has had an evil influence.  Also, near the town is an abandoned spa which, decades ago, was the driving economic force in the village and is now a dangerous ruin haunted by something.

Ned, too, is haunted, by strange occurrences and feelings.  He doesn't know what is behind them, but he has put a label on it -- the phantom.  Just what the phantom is is and why it wants Ned is a mystery.

Phantom is a well-written evocative novel that tends to jump around too much, although that is the effect the author is going for.  There are several truly terrifying passages, along with a vision of Heaven (or Hell?) that is absolutely disturbing.  there are also some great scenes of compassion and humanity.  The characters are all well defined, with the possible exception of Ned's father, who is -- let's face it -- something of a tool.

Phantom is not an easy book to follow and few questions are answered.  But that is the essence of horror, and of life, isn't it?

Thursday, June 14, 2018


Today my father-in-law would have been, what? 98?  His birthday is easy to remember because it is also Flag Day.  (His wife, Eileen, was born on Bastille Day.  No, not the original Bastille Day, despite the rumors I have tried to spread -- but on the anniversary of Bastille Day.)

Harold died shortly before his first great-grand-son Mark was born, which is a shame because he would have gotten a great kick out of Mark.

Harold was a short, re-headed man with a fireplug body that belied his County Cork ancestry.  He was a product of the final days of the "No Irish Need Apply" era -- something that galled him all his life.  He was a gentle man, warm and funny, but he had a temper.  Problem was Harold was not the type of person to know what to do with a temper.

When World War II came about, he and his cousin Eddie joined the Navy.  Because each had a condition that might have excluded them from service, they switched identities and papers for part of their physicals and both were okayed for service.  Harold ended up in the Pacific and had a lot of funny stories about the war.  Like so many others who served, he only told funny stories and avoided talking or thinking about things that were absolutely not funny.  When his ship had its middle blasted out by the Japanese, Harold was tasked with going below and restoring the ship's electricity -- while standing in waist-deep water.  He won a Bronze Star for that.

After the war, married and with a child, Harold enrolled in Georgia Tech.  He supported himself by selling newspapers.  (He had an opportunity to make more money by running moonshine, but Eileen put her foot down.)  When close to graduation, Georgia Tech found out that Harold had never graduated from high school and tried to expel him, saying that he had lied on his application.  He had them bring out his original application, showing them that he left the space for high school graduation blank.  (He was always scrupulously honest.)  So Harold graduated and began a long career as an engineer, most often in the space program and sometimes working on something so top secret that his family did not know where he was working.

He loved the water and he loved kids.  He was a genuine good guy.

He also loved ice cream, often taking the family to Kimball Farms in Westford, Massachusetts, where they make the most killer home-made ice cream, sundaes, and splits -- a single serving could substitute as a meal.  (Coincidently, yesterday number of members of my high school class held a min-reunion at Kimball's; fifteen hundred miles away, I'm jealous.)  So, every year we celebrate Harold's birthday by having ice cream for dinner.

I can't think of a more appropriate way of honoring him.


Ethel Waters.


There's a lot of confusion about Stand By for Crime on the web, evidently confusing it with a television show of the same name.  The television show featured veteran newsman Mike Wallace from the days when he was Myron Wallace.  The show evidently aired at a time when Wallace was hosting/announcing/presenting a boat load of radio shows from Chicago.  Evidently there are no episodes extant of this early television show.

The realistic, but short-lived, radio crime program Stand By for Crime.starred Glen Langan as Chuck Morgan, a Los Angeles radio news anchor.  Morgan gets crime tips from his police buddy Lieutenant Bill Miggs.  Morgan sniffs around crime with his Girl Friday, Carol Curtis (played by Adele Jurgens, Langan's real-life wife).  The banter between Langan and Jurgens adds a bit of humanity to a show that otherwise would have the same vibe as Mr. District Attorney or Dragnet.

There were 26 or 27 episodes of the original radio program, but additional shows were then produced in Australia, possibly rewrites of the earlier episodes.

I have no idea when this particular episode aired.

Nonetheless, enjoy "The Mark Adams Murder."  It's an interesting one.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


First, Betty Everette.

Then, The Swinging Blue Jeans.


A man had his beloved dog collapse in his living room.  Minutes later, he came rushing in to the neighborhood vet's office with the limp body of the dog in his arms.  "Help me!  I think my dog is very sick!"

The vet ushered the two into an examination room, and had the man put the dog on the table.  He carefully inspected the animal from head to tail.  Shaking his head sadly, he said, "I'm sorry sir, but I'm afraid your dog is dead."

"No!  It can't be!  You're wrong!  You're wrong!"

"We'll see," said the vet, as he opened to door to the exam room and whistled.  In walked a cat who went over to the body, jumped on it, and walked up and down, sniffing at the dog.  The cat looked at the vet, meowed once, and left the room.  "Sir, I'm sorry.  The cat also thinks your dog is dead."

"No!  I don't believe it!"

"We'll see," the vet said and whistled twice.  Two Labrador retrievers walked into the exam room.  One started at the head and the other at the tail, walking toward each other until they met in the middle.  Each dog barked once and left the room.  "They dogs say that your pet is dead, too."

The man, obviously in emotional anguish, finally had to admit that his beloved dog was indeed dead.  "I'm sorry, Doc.  It's such a hard thing to accept.  What do I owe you?"


"What?  that much?  You hardly did anything."

The vet explained, "Only $50 of that is for my personal services.  The remaining $600 is for the cat scan and lab tests."

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Actress Pearl White became an international sensation with 1914's The Perils of Pauline, the fifth serial chapter play ever made.  At one time she was the most popular star in silent films, edging out Mary Pickford.  Her fresh and wholesome good looks, her blonde hair (a wig), her willingness to do her own stunts (soon curtailed by the studios after she gained immense popularity) -- all combined to make her a success.  Doing her own stunts took its toll, however, as she took to alcohol to dull the pain of her many injuries.  A failed attempt to move beyond serials to major films also added to her alcoholism (as did two failed marriages and a dalliance with drugs designed to curb her alcoholism) and she died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 49.  Despite all this, White was a successful and savvy businesswoman

White followed The Perils of Pauline with The Exploits of Elaine, a thirteen-part serial based on the popular Craig Kennedy novel by Arthur B. Reeve.  Craig Kennedy, Scientific Detective, was created by Reeve in 1910 and went on to star in numerous collections, novels, films, and in a 1951 television series.  As the serial appeared in sections on the movies screen, Reeve was publishing the novel serially in newspapers, releasing the book version only after the public had seen the entire thirteen chapters of the serial.

White plays Elaine Dodge, a woman who seeks the help of Craig Kennedy to find the man who killed her father -- the man known only as "The Clutching Hand."  Naturally, each episode ends with a cliffhanger, but it's hard to beat the cliffhanger on Chapter Ten where Elaine is killed.  Yep.  Killed.  Dead.  Shuffled off this mortal coil.  Finito.  Exited the building.  Lifeless.  (But fear not, Intrepid Viewer, it is not for nothing that Craig Kennedy is known as a "scientific detective.")

Kennedy is played by Arnold Daly, a stage actor and producer who introduced many of George Bernard Shaw's plays to the American public.  Daly went on to play Kennedy two more times, in The New Exploits of Elaine and The Romance of Elaine (both 1915).  Daly went on to portray detective Ashton-Kirk in three films.  He died in an apartment fire in 1927 at age 51.

The serial also features Creighton Hall, Raymond Owens, Sheldon Lewis, Edward Arden, Bessie Wharton, and Riley Hatch.  Look closely and you may also see Lionel Barrrymore -- he's supposed be in there somewhere.

The Exploits of Elaine is viewed by some as a far better picture than The Perils of Pauline.  It was entered into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1994.  It was supposedly the favorite film of Czar Nicholas II.  White's weekly salary for Elaine was twelve times that she received earlier that year for Pauline

The link below takes to the infamous Chapter 10, "The Life Current," mentioned above.  I wasn't able to find the complete serial online, but this should give you an inkling of the full work.


Monday, June 11, 2018

Sunday, June 10, 2018


Openers:  "Celery," said Larry Crystal.
     "Huh?" the boy behind to lunch counter grunted.
     Larry Crystal slowly closed the menu and looked up at the skinny waiter, whose acne-scarred face was not exactly the type to inspire confidence in the restaurant' food.
     "I said celery.  I want a dish of celery.  And black coffee."
     The boy grinned.  "Diet, huh?"
     "Maybe.  Or maybe I could exercise.  Like throwing you right through that front window."
     -- "John Miles" (Jack Bickham), Dally with a Deadly Doll (1961)

I've Been Reading:  I've just finished Stephen King's latest, The Outsider, a mystery/horror mash-up linked to King's Bill Hodges trilogy.  A gripping read.  Not top-shelf King, but pretty close.  My FFB this week was Michael Crichton's Easy Go (originally published under his "John Lange" pseudonym), a crime story involving a raid on a previously-undiscovered tomb in Egypt.  The book has also been published under the title The Last Tomb.  2016's Zigzag by Bill Pronzini may be the last collection of "Nameless Detective" stories.  (Nameless retired in 2017 in Endgame, but we'll see what happens.)  This collection has two original novellas and two reprinted short stories.  Anything by Pronzini is more than worthwhile.  Finally, I went on a mini-Edgar Rice Burroughs binge, reading his two juveniles, The Tarzan Twins (1927) and Tarzan  and the Tarzan Twins with Jad-bal-ja the Golden Lion (1936).  The Tarzan Twins are young cousins, one of whom is a distant cousin of Lord Greystoke.  Despite the nine year gap between the books, both stories take place during the same summer.  As a lagniappe to the above, I also read Escape on Venus, the last full book in the adventures of Carson Napier, based on four stories Burroughs first published in Fantastic Adventures in 1941 and 1941.

The Tonys:  Congrats to Melody Herzfeld, the Majorie Stoneman Douglas High School drama teacher who kept her students safe during the Parkland, Florida, shooting, for receiving a special award last night.  Her students then took the stage to perform "Season of Love."  An inspiring moment.

Justified:  This week Justify became the thirteenth horse to win the U. S. Triple Crown.  The first to do so was Sir Barton ninety-nine years ago on this day.  The other eleven horses were Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1941), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978), and American Pharoah (2015).  The only jockey to win more than one Triple Crown was the great Eddie Arcaro with Whirlaway and Citation.  England's Triple Crown has had fifteen (or twelve; man experts discount the inners of 1915, 1917, and 1918) winners since 1863.  The last winner of the England's Triple Crown was Nijinsky, jockeyed by Lester Piggott in 1970.  Piggott, you may remember, was the subject of a biography by Dick Francis.

Stanley cup:  Congrats to the Washington Capitals!  It took them forty-four years, but they did it.

Educational Florida Man?:  Last month, Florida Man extraordinaire Otis Ryan climbed on top of playground equipment in Clearwater Beach began to yell at children aged between four and six, telling them exactly where babies came from.  So as not confuse the little ones, I assume, Florida Man disdained the used of technical terms, opting for far more vernacular ones.  Moments before, Mr. Ryan was making inappropriate comments to women, hoping to get their boyfriends to attack him.  No stranger to the Florida justice system, he was fined $118 and ordered to stay away from the playground.  The link below takes you to the story and an amazing mug shot of Mr. Ryan.

First Offense?:  As part of Stamford's "Art in Public Places" annual event, the Connecticut city has placed twenty-six statues on loan in various locations in the downtown area.  One of them, a twenty-six foot tall lifelike statue of Marilyn Monroe in a famous scene from The Seven Year Itch, happened to be placed in front of -- but facing away from -- the city's First Congregational Church.  The statue's subway vent-blown skirt has the statue's white-pantied butt directly facing the church.  One resident has also complained about children climbing the statue's legs and looking up the skirt.  It may be art but some like it not.

Egotist: (n) A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in  me.  (from The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce)

To Celia:  Here's a poem from Ben Jonson, born this day in 1572:


Drinke to me, onely, with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kisse but in the cup,
And Ile not looke for wine.

The thirst, that from the soule doth rise,
Doth ask a drinke divine:
But might I of Jove's Nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.

I sent thee, late, a rosie wreath,
Not so much honoring thee,
As giving a hope, that there
It could not withered bee.

But thou thereon did'est onely breath,
And send'st it back to mee:
Since when it growes, and smells, I sweare,
Not of it selfe, but thee.


Detroit-born Saladin Ahmed won the Locus award for Best First Novel with Throne of the Crescent Moon (2012), the first book in a planned trilogy based on 1001 Nights.  The book was also a finalist for the 2012 Nebula Award and the 2013 Hugo award for Best Novel.  Ahmed was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award in 2010 and 2011.  His story "Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela" was a Nebula finalist in 2013 and his story "Where Virtue Lives" was a finalist for the 2009 Harper's Pen Award. He has also been a finalist for the Crawford, Gemmell, and British Fantasy awards.  Ahmed wrote the first year of Marvel Comic's Black Bolt and is currently writing both Marvel's Exiles and BOOM! Studio's Abbott.

Ahmed struck a blow for diversity last year when he pointed out on Twitter that the only brown corn pop on the entire cereal box of Kellogg's Corn Pops was the janitor.  The post went viral, leading to Kellogg's promise to change the artwork on future boxes.

Here, Ahmed discusses Muslim American fantasy at Grand Rapids Community College.



Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.

Saturday, June 9, 2018


Here's a well-known tune by a guy named George.

I'm dedicating it to another guy named George -- George Kelley, the pride of upstate New York and wrangler of Big Orange, who turned 69 today.  I can't say whether George Kelley actually has rhythm, but he does have Diane, and who can ask for anything more?


From 1938 to 1942, the United Features syndicate reprinted some of their newspaper comic strips in their Single Series comic books.  Each of the 28 issues featured a single newspaper strip character, many of whom -- Iron Vic, Little Mary Mixup, Broncho Bill, Danny Dingle, Joe Jinks, Mr. and Mrs. Beans, Peter Pat, and Frankie Doodle, among others -- have been relegated to obscurity, known only to the most dedicated fans of old comic strips.

Jim Hardy was created by Dick Moores, a former assistant to Chester Gould on the Dick Tracy strip, who first envisioned the character as Jim Conley, a hard-as-nails ex-con vowing to go straight.  Newspaper editors balked at the concept, which was then revised as Jim Hardy, one of millions of down on their luck men during the Great Depression.  Jim Hardy was still a tough guy with an urge to do the right thing.  Eventually he became a reporter (an ace reporter, mind you) with a girlfriend and a kid companion.

Jim Hardy was not not very successful.  Moores had a talent for story telling, but these talents were just not suited for a fast-moving adventure series.  He was geared more to quiet, character-driven stories -- he found much greater success when he took over the Gasoline Alley from Frank King.  Late in the strip, Moores introduced Windy (a cowboy) and his horse Paddles.  The two soon became to focus of the strip and Jim Hardy faded away.  The strip was killed in 1942 and Jim Hardy became just another forgotten comic strip character.

United Features used Jim Hardy strips for two issues in their Single Strip series:  first for issue # 6 (January 1, 1939), and then for #27 (linked below).  Some of the comic strips have also been reprinted in UF's Tip-Top Comics, Giant Comic Editions, and Treasury of Comics.

Enjoy these adventures of a (mainly) unsung comic strip hero.  He cudda been a contender!

Friday, June 8, 2018


Jim Croce.


Easy Go by "John Lange"  (Michael Crichton) (1968) -- also published as The Last Tomb

Best-selling author Michael Crichton got his start writing paperback thrillers under the pseudonym "John Lange," a pen name that caused some confusion a few years later because John Lange was the real name of the man who, as "John Norman," authored a long series of sexist science fiction novels set on a planet named Gor.

A total of eight novels were published under the Lange pseudonym, all of which have been reissued by Hard Case Crime as by "Michael Crichton writing as 'John Lange.'"  (Crichton used two other pseudonyms during his career:  "Michael Douglas," for a novel co-written with his brother Douglas, and "Jeffrey Hudson," for A Case of Need, an atrocious book that somehow won an Edgar.)

Easy Go is not an atrocious book, despite being the third novel Crichton published.  (And the first written, according to Wikipedia -- supposedly written in one week.)  It's a caper novel and a pretty good one.  The caper in point is the raiding of a previously undiscovered Egyptian tomb.  Crichton's descriptions of Egypt, its history, and its late 1960s political environment add considerable depth to an interesting plot.

Harold Barnaby, an Egyptologist whose expertise in hieroglyphics has led to many corrections of previously translated works, stumbles upon a papyrus revealing a hither-to undiscovered tomb, belonging to an unknown nineteenth-dynasty pharaoh. The pharaoh's vizier had overseen the building of the secret tomb and then killed all the workman who had knowledge of the tomb.  An unopened, unknown tomb means fabulous riches, or so Barnaby hopes.

He approaches Robert Pierce, a freelance journalist who craves excitement.  Piece agrees to join Barnaby and will arrange for a team to find the tomb and raid its bounty.  Lord Grover, an immensely rich and debauched patron, agreed to fund the venture.  Smuggler Alan Conway and daring thief Nikos Karagannis round out the crew.  Joining them will be the beautiful Lisa, Lord Grover's private secretary.

But how to locate the tomb without the Egyptian authorities' knowledge?  And how to get the treasure out of Egypt's tightly controlled borders?  And how do they get an estimated $50,000,000 of historic artifacts converted to cash?  Pierce comes up with a plan that may possibly work, however it is impeded by constant visits and inspections from Hamid Iskander, the regional representative of Egypt's Bureau of Antiquities.

As the plot unfolds, the five conspirators grow closer together.  (This is not a rehash of The Treasure of Sierra Madre, despite a very few early hints.)  All the pieces of the plan begin to fall in line.  there's is a McGuffin that appears in the last quarter of the book which leads the reader to wonder if the tomb raiders will succeed.

A nice, easy romp with likable characters and an ingenious scheme.

From the very beginning of his career, Crichton seemed to be in full control of his nascent writing ability.  

Give this one a try.

Thursday, June 7, 2018


First off, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong.

Second, the crooning of bing Crosy.

Third, one of the best renditions of the song ever (IMHO), from Cass Elliott and The Mamas & The Papas.


In 2002 The Twilight Zone was refashioned for the radio, adapting stories from the original television series for syndication.  Taking the place of Rod Serling as your host was Stacy Keach.  As near as I can figure out, some 156 original episodes were adapted for the series; an additional 20 episodes were not based on television originals.  There may be more shows available.  The series appears to still be in syndication.  The series was produced by Roger Wolski and Carl Amari; episodes were directed by Amari and JoBe Cerny.

This episode, "Dead Man's Shoes," was adapted by Dennis Etchison from Charles Beaumont and O. C. Rich's original television script.  Bill Smitrovich led the cast.

If there is a moral to this tale, it is this:  If the shoe fits, don't wear it!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


My girlfriend has quite an imagination.  She's accused me of being a stalker.

Well, to be totally accurate, she's not my girlfriend.  Yet.


Hawaiian Eye was one of a gazillion television programs from Warner Brothers that blankete the airwaves in the late Fifties and early Sixties.  Hawaiian Eye, Bourbon Street Beat, 77 Sunset Strip, and Surfside Six all featured a cast of private detectives in exotic and maybe not-so-exotic places around America. 

Hawaiian Eye Starred Robert Conrad, Anthony Eisley, and (later) Grant Williams.  They are joined by a ukulele playing cabbie (Poncie Ponce) and an endlesslessly perky photographer (Connie Stevens).  The show's third season kicked off with "Satan City,"   The manuscript of a novelist's (Virginia Gregg) no-holds-barred expose of  her former publisher (Arthur Franz) has gone missing and so, after hiring the Hawaiian Eye agency, does the author.

"Satan City aired on September 27, 1961.  It was directed by Paul Landres from a script by Ed Jurist and Gibson Fox and Darryl Hickman & Gordon Hunt.  (Always be suspicious when there are multiple names listed as scriptwriters.)  On the bright side (perhaps), Connie Stevens sings.


Monday, June 4, 2018


Johnny and the Hurricanes.


Openers:  Katie had never been more surprised in her life than when the serious young man with the Charles Dana Gibson profile spirited her away from his friend and Genevieve.  -- P. G. Wodehouse, "Crowned Heads" (The Argosy, June 1914)

May Incoming:

  • Edward S. Aarons, Assignment -- Angelina.  A Sam Durrell spy-guy adventure.
  • Neil Asher, Prader Moon.  Science fiction novel in the Polity  series.
  • "James Axler" (Mel Odom, this time), Outlander:  Sargasso Plunder.  Post-apocalyptic SF men's action adventure.
  • Gregory Benford & George Zebrowsli, editors, Skylife:  Space Habitats in Story and Science.  SF anthology with 12 short stories and three essays.
  • Kate Bernheimer with Carmen Gimenez Smith, editors, My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me.  Anthology with forty modern takes on fairy tales from well-known (and mainly mainstream) authors.
  • "Max Brand" (Frederick Faust) - Brothers of the Trail, Silvertip's Chase, and The Stolen Stallion.  Western novels all.
  • [Buffy the Vampire Slayer], Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1.  Television tie-in omnibus of three YA novels:  Coyote Moon by John Vornholt, Night of the Living Rerun by Arthur Byron cover, and Portal Through Time by Alice Henderson.  Yeah, I'm a Buffy freak. (And don't get me started on Firefly.)
  • "Sarah Caudwell" (Sarah Cockburn), The Sirens Sang of Murder and Thus Was Adonis Murdered.  Literate and legal mysteries featuring Hilary (is he a boy or is he a girl?) Tamar.  Great fun.
  • Mark Cerasini, 24 Declassified:  Trojan Horse.  Original television tie-in novel feraturing human Eveready battery Jack Bauer.
  • Gardner Dozois, editor, Nebula Awards Showcase 2006 and The Year's Best Science Fiction:  13th Annual Collection.  Two anthologies; the first covers the 40th Nebula awards with ten stories, a novel excerpt, two poems, and various commentary, the second collects 24 stories from 1995.  As an editor, Dozois was one of the most important influences on modern science fiction.  He will be missed.
  • [Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine], five issues -- April 2003, September-October 2004, July 2004, May 2008, and August 2008.
  • Medora Field, Blood on Her Shoe.  One of two mysteries published by the Georgia author (and friend of Margaret Mitchell).  A cemetery ghost hunt leads to murder.
  • Jo Grossman & Robert Weibezahl, editors, A Second Helping of Murder.  Cook book with recipes and comment from 148 current mystery writers, plus a few other crime-related recipes.
  • Donald Hamilton, The Removers  and  The Ambushers.  Spy-guy, the third and sixth outings, respectively, for Matt Helm, code name Eric.
  • Henry Edward Helseth, The Chair for Martin Rome.   Suspense.  A condemned killer escapes, looking to settle some unfinished business.  This was made into a film starring Victor Mature and Richard Conte.
  • Hans Holzer, Ghosts, Haunting & Possessions:  The Best of Hans Holzer, Book 1.  Holzer claimed to be a ghost hunter and inflicted a number of books about this bushwah and other occult topics on an innocent public.  As faithful Readers of this blog know, I am a sucker for this type of bullhockey.  The book was edited by Raymond Buckland (another bushwah artist) for Fate magazine. and, yes, there was a Book 2.
  • Elmer Kelton, Buffalo Wagons.  Western.
  • Donald Keyhoe, The Flying Saucers Are Real.  A classic UFO book from 1950.
  • Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kohma, Lone Wolf and Cub, Volume 1:  The Assassin's Road.  Graphic novel.
  • Cynthia Manson, editor, Murder Takes a Holiday.  Instant remainder mystery anthology with 43 stories culled from EQMM and AHMM.
  • Yvonne Navarro, Final Impact.  SF novel about a rogue planet about to crash into Earth.
  • Danielle Paige, Dorothy Must Die.  Fantasy novel that turns L. Frank Baum's Oz on its head.  The first in the series.
  • Steven Popkes, Caliban Landing.  SF novel, part of the "Isaac Asimov Presents" series of yore.
  • [A Prairie Home Companion], Pretty Good Joke Book, 4th edition.  Some pretty good jokes.
  • Robert Randisi, editor, The Funeral of Tanner Moody.  Nine western stories about the title character told at his funeral.
  • James Reasoner, Wind River.  Western, the first of seven books in the Wind River series.  This one is copyrighted by both James and Livia.
  • David J. Schow, Gun Work.  A Hard Case Crime novel.  I have so many of these to catch up.  They are consistently readable.
  • Georges Simenon, Maigret.  Mystery novel translate by Rob Schwartz.  Also known as Maigret Returns.
  • Dan Simmons, Drood.  A haunting doorstop novel about Charles Dickens and his obsession with Drood.  Simmons is always a worth-while read.
  • James Swallow, 24:  Live Another Day.  Television tie-in novel.  Jack Bauer goes through hell.  Again.
I've Been Reading:  Three teeth (and an accidental sliver of bone) removed this week has left me unequipped to concentrate on reading this week.  I did read Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Outlaw od Torn, the second novel he wrote, and enjoyed it despite its many freshman sophomore flaws.  I also read the third Michael Gray mystery from Henry Kuttner, Murder of a Mistress, a good journeyman work from that talented author.  All four of Kuttner's Michael Gray novels are being released in an omnibus edition from Haffner Press and it's about time; most have not been reprinted since their original paperback appearances in the late 1950s.  The glue on my copy of Murder of a Mistress gave up the ghost long ago and I had to read it like a pile of loose-leaf paper.  I've been working my way through John Connolly's He and Stephen King's The Outsider ever so slowly -- a reflection of the pain pills I'm on and not on the quality of either novel.

Not sure what's coming up, but a Bill Pronzini collection and a couple of Fritz Leiber books seem to be moving their way up on Mount TBR.

Toddler?:  POMOTUS met with parents of the victims of the Santa Fe High School shootings this week for about an hour.  One mother said it was like "talking to a toddler."  On the flip side, another mother was impressed with Trump's compassion.  I'm going with toddler.

Florida Woman!:  She was caught this week shaving her legs in a crowded hotel swimming pool.  "Of course this happened in Florida.  It's the trashiest state in the union," one person said.  As far as I can tell there is no law against this, although thanks to Florida Woman, there may well soon be.  Also, I have not been able to find out which hotel where this took place, so it may be best to avoid all Forida hotels.

The Ever-Evolving Florida Man:  Not to be outdone, Florida Man Robert Hardister was arrested for the eighteenth (at least) time.  The link below shows you how much this 26-year-old man has evolved over the past seven or eight years.

Killer Plastic:  A whale in Thailand has died after swallowing more than 80 plastic bags.  Attempts to save the whale proved futile, although the whale did regurgitate five of the bags.  Thailand is one of the world's largest users of plastic bags and hundreds of sea creatures die on its shores each year from ingesting the plastic.  This idea of mankind being the shepherds of the earth is not working out very well.

Happy Birthday, Val McDermid!:  My wife wants you to write some more Tony Hill novels, PDQ!

A Moment's Indulgence:

I ask for a moment's indulgence to sit by thy side.  The works
that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.

Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest or respite,
and my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of toil.

Today the summer has come at my window with its sighs and murmurs; and
the bees are plying their minstrelry at the court of the flowering grove.

Now it is time to sit quiet, face to face with thee, and to sing
dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure.

     -- Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

Sunday, June 3, 2018


Highlights from a much longer speech.

And here is a much younger John le Carre, from a 1965 interview on The Merv Griffin Show.


The Soul Stirrers.

Saturday, June 2, 2018


Paul Revere & The Raiders.


C. Arthur Pearson, the British publisher, released a series of comic books in 1959 under the umbrella title TV Picture Series.  Each issue would take an episode from a television series and adapt it in comic book form.

O.S.S. ran for one season (1957-8) for a total of 26 episodes.  Filmed in England, it starred Austratian actor Ron Rendell as Captain Frank Hawthorn, an O.S.S. agent operating behind German lines in France during World War II.

"Operation -- Sweet Talk" was the tenth episode shown, airing on November 26, 1957.  To counter propaganda from the seductive radio voice of  Germany's "Axis Sally," the Office of War Information plans to launch their own seductive voice, that of beautiful dancer Kyro Caro.  Frank Hawthorn is assigned to watch over Kyro.  At the same time, German operatives are determined to rid themselves of freedom-loving rival to Axis Sally.

The comic book follows the television episode closely.


Friday, June 1, 2018


The Merseybeats.


The Outlaw of Torn by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1914; 1927)

Although not published in book form until 1927, The Outlaw of Torn was the second novel that Burroughs wrote, sandwiched between A Princess of Mars and Tarzan of the Apes, and published as a five-part serial in New Story Magazine in 1914.

It shows.

Although Burroughs was never a polished writer, his imagination and his ability to propel a narrative made him one of the most popular writers of the twentieth century.  Even today the Burroughs estate is busy pushing new works based on ERB's classic characters.

The Outlaw of Torn is a historical romance taking place in 13th century England..  It plays havoc with facts and historic timelines, but that never stopped Burroughs from churning out an exciting story.  Prince Richard is the young son of King Henry III.  He is kidnapped by Jules De Vac, the greatest swordsman of his age and, despite being French and secretly hating all things English, a sycophant in Henry's court.  An argument with the king led to De Vac being banished from the kingdom.  Playing the long game for revenge, the swordsman uses the young prince as part of his terrible vengeance.

Disguised as a nameless old lady, De Vac raises Richard to hate the English and to view the destruction of Englishmen his only purpose.  The boy was taken at such a young age he no longer remembers who he was nor who his parents were.  Eventually the nameless old lady vanishes and, in her place, and old man whom the boy is taught to call father.  De Vac then teaches the boy swordsmanship and eventually he comes close to his master's skill.  All the time while under De Vac, the boy did not have a name.  As a young adult he finally gets a name when De Vac calls him Norman of Torn.

When Norman goes out into the world, he must wear a visored helmet so no one may see his face.  It turns out that he is a dead ringer for Prince Edward -- the brother he does not remember he had.  Norman soon gathers a group of outlaws around him, raiding English barons.  He becomes powerful and has over a thousand men in his gang.  Although he's a ruthless murderer, carving his initials on the foreheads of those he has killed, he cannot stray far from his noble side -- he helps the poor and respects women.  How nice.

Soon he meets and falls in love with a beautiful woman, the niece of the king -- making her a first cousin.  Royalty and inbreeding go hand in hand, it seems.  Love for a fair maiden turns him around and he becomes a good guy, his nobility shining through like a flashlight accidently left in the stomach cavity following surgery.

Meanwhile, he's still a wanted man.  Le Duc keeps giving Norman's location to the king's men.  Le Duc wants them to capture Norman and hang him.  Le Duc could then go to the king and say, "Lookie there, you just hanged your own son," and the swordsman's long plan for vengeance would be complete.

Of course it is a silly plot with many holes in it, but somehow Burroughs makes it readable.

Historians out there may carp because Henry III never had a son named Richard.  Burroughs explains right at the beginning that Richard's name has been deliberately erased from history, without saying why or how.  At the very end of the book, he says the same thing.  WTF?

This one is probably for Burroughs completists or for readers who are not very critical.