Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, December 31, 2018


Bobby Darin.


Openers:  No other student in Crownover University had a part-time job quite like Bill Latham's.  He worked in the city morgue five evenings a week,Monday through Friday.

-- Talmage Powell, The Thing in B-3 (1969)

Another Rotation Around the Sun:  Looking back on 2018, we have to admit that it was not the greatest year on record.

In January, we learned that global warming may put the future supply of chocolate at risk.  An increase of 2.1 degrees Celsius predicted for 2050 will severely limited the growing range for the cacao plant.  Valentine's Day swain will not be happy.  Also in January, nine out of twelve National Park System Advisory Board members resigned in protest to then-secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.  Zinke had refused to meet with the Board.   Coincidentally (?) we also learned that the US life expectency had dropped for two years in a row, the first time time since the early 1960s.  And CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald resigned on the last day of the month after it was reported that she invested in Japanese tobacco shortly after she had been appointed.

In February the mystery community (as well as many readers of this blog) were sadden to hear of the death of Bill Crider, author and person par excellence.  And, since we mentioned Ryan Zinke above, let's not forget that a company with close ties to him was given a FEMA contract to provide 30 million units of food to hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico.  Only 50,000 meals arrived.  and speaking of meals, Ikea began offering bug versions of their meatballs and hamburgers because there's a lot of protein in mealworms, I guess.  We also learned that Spain effectively outlawed political satire as a measure to counter terrorism; the country had previously jailed rappers for their song lyrics.  On the bright side, a nonoparticle was developed that may be able to track and kill breast cancer cells.

Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Britain ran out of chicken.  Customers were not chuffed.  Undaunted, KFC announced they we working on edible coffee cups (made from a wafer coated with sugar paper and lines with white chocolate).  Questions arose about how Melania Trump had been able to get an EB-1 immigration visa (often referred to as the "Einstein visa").  Delta Air ended a discount program for NRA members, a move that so upset the pro-gun right that Georgia legislators killed a jet fuel tax exemption that would have saved the airline some $38 million.  It turned out that only 16 people ever took advantage of Delta's NRA discount so each discount cast the company about $3 million in tax breaks.

In April we learned that the Trump administration invested far more resources and aid to Texas following Hurricane Harvey than it did for Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.  Trump, of course, had earlier learned that Puerto Rico was an island and was surrounded by water.  The Atlantic crunched some figures to learn that Trump's cabinet was the most predominantly male administration since the Reagan years.  Since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass killings, Donald Trump had been proposing arming teachers and school personnel as a way to counter possible future attacks.  One chemistry teacher, Sean Simpson, when interviewed on MSNBC agreed.  In April, Simpson left his Glock in a beach restroom.  By the time he realized what he had done, a drunk had found the Glock and fired a bullet into the wall.

May...Tariffs, tariffs, tariffs, Roseanne.

June:  Trump and Kim Jung Un meet face to face in Singapore.  Kim brought his security force and his own food; Trump brought nothing of value.  Melania Trump, however, made her first public appearance since surgery, bringing an end to some rumors and (presumably) starting a few more.  Archaeologists discovered a 3000 year old sculpture but had no idea who it represents.  The information for this month comes from the End Times Prophecy Headlines site -- "End Times Biblical Prophecy and News, End Times Deception, Societal Collapse, Apostasy, False Christs, Prophets, Apostles & Teachers, Whore of Babylon Church, Opinion, Commentary & Bible Teaching, Demonic Power, War, Rumors of War, Famine, Pestilence, Salvation in Jesus Christ, NWO, UFOs, Earthquakes, IHOP, All Roads Lead to Rome, Counterfeit Christianity, New World Order, Conspiracies, Nephilim, Giants, New Apostolic Reformation, Heresies, Signs and Lying Wonders, Dominionism, End Times Sin & Corruption"  **phew**  But, IHOP?

And that was just the first six months of 2018...

But we muddled through those six months and the six months following, just as we will muddle through 2019.

But at the stroke of midnight tonight I will be pulling the covers over my head.

Florida Man/Woman/Child/The Whole Famdamily:  I cannot end the year without looking back on the very special place Florida has in our national culture:

Gone:  We have lost many people this year, but let me just mention three who died over the past few days.

  • Jane Langton, 95 (just a few days shy of her 96th birthday), mystery and children's book author and creator of Homer Kelly, a quintessential New England detective.  When she signed books, she would add a little line drawing.  She was a nice lady.
  • Billie Sue Mossiman, 71, author of over 100 books, many of which are mysteries and thrillers.  When you picked up one of her books, you knew you were going to be entertained.
  • Sister Wendy Beckett, 88, Catholic nun and appreciator of art.  An unlikely person to win fame as a television celebrity but her sheer joy when explaining masterpieces of art was unsurpassed.  Her life and her passions, both spiritual and aesthetic, were simply explained:  "This is the real power of joy, to make us certain that, beneath all grief, the most fundamental of realities is joy itself.: 

Look Who's 41 Today:  Donny, Jr.

Today's Poem:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne my jo,
for auld lange syne,
we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stoup!
and surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two hae run about the brae,
and pou'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit
sin' auld lang syne.


We twa hae paddl'd in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
sin' auld lang syne.


And there's a hand, my trusty friere!
and gies a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught
for auld lang syne!


-- Robert Burns

Sunday, December 30, 2018


Zane Gray loved to fish and he caught some big ones, as evidenced by this photo montage presented with the music of Jimmy Buffett.


Reverend Gary Davis.

Saturday, December 29, 2018


Nobody does this better.  Van Morrison.


Let's face it.  2018 has been a very scary year.  Between natural disasters and unnatural politics, between school shootings and economic uncertainties, between Thanos and Mariah's been a year to a year to have me shaking in my boots.  What to do?

I say if you have a theme going, stick with it!

So let's close 2018 with a few scary stories from the premiere issue of Black Magic, a title published by Prize Comics for 50 issue from 1950 to 1961.

Black Magic was an exceptionally cool title for two reasons.  First, it was packaged by the legendary team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.  Second, (well not cool, but certainly odd) Prize comics continued the numbering after Black Magic was cancelled with #50; issues #51-53 were given to the short-lived Cool Cat.  In 1973, DC brought back the title for a nine-issue reprint of Simon-Kirby stories.

Brace yourself with tales about an evil doll, a dead hitchhiker, a family tradition of death, the horrors of the afterlife, the evil that lies within a mirror, and the unseen terror that follows you.


And may 2019 be better than 2018!

Friday, December 28, 2018


Patti Page.


The Yellow Claw by Sax Rohmer  (1915)

Let's go back a little over a century ago to when England was still England and fog still enshrouded the mysterious sections of London, and certainly no part of London was more mysterious and alien than Limehouse.

Limehouse.  Where life is cheap and crime is controlled by enigmatic Chinese.  Where lives are ruined and dreams are fulfilled by the fruit of the poppy.  Where vast undercover chambers and secret passages hold danger for the unwary Englishman.

Yes, let's go back tp a place that never really existed except in the fevered imaginations of such writers as Thomas Burke, Achmed Abdullah, and Sax Rohmer.  To a time of jingoism and oriental masterminds controlling webs of evil that stretched to the major cities of the world, hidden just below the surface and unknown to the average citizen.

Henry Leroux is such a citizen.  A novelist and the creator of the great detective Martin Zeda, Leroux is a quiet and withdrawn man, undemanding in his personal life.  His wife is on one of her frequent extended trips to Paris and Leroux is alone -- the few servants are out.  There's a frantic pounding on the door, begging for help.  Leroux opens the door and a young, attractive women -- clad in civet fur -- stumbles into his flat and collapses, but not before saying that "Mr. King" is after her.  Prone on the floor, and sticking out from the fur, is an ankle!  A shapely, bare ankle.  Good Heavens!  I say, Good Heavens, sir!  That sort of thing does not happen in Henry Leroux's quiet and ordered England!

Leroux rushes out to get help from Doctor Cumberly, who lives in the flat above with his daughter Helen.  The noise also alerts John Exel, an MP who lives in the flat below and ho had just returned home.  The three return to Leroux's flat to discover the young woman dead...strangled during the few minutes that Leroux had gone to get help.  No trace of the murderer can be found and the three witnesses swear that no one exited the building by its solitary stairwell.  How had the murderer escaped.

The case falls to Detective-Inspector Dunbar and his assistant, Detective-Sergeant Sowerby.  The dead girl was an opium addict and what few clues there are point the Chinese of Limehouse.  (An individual Chinese person, BTW, is seldom referred to as "Chinese," but rather as a "Chinaman."  White superiority rears its mighty head.)  The case appears to be going nowhere, but then two people arrive in London.

The first is Denise Ryland, the woman with whom Mrs. Leroux was to be staying in Paris.  Denise Ryland had not seen her friend in over a year, yet Leroux insisted his wife had gone to visit her at least four times that year.  So where has Mrs. Leroux been if not with her friend?  And where is she now?

The second person is Gaston Max, the famous French detective of the Surete.  (Max is the lead character in several of Rohmer's novels and the subject of a half dozen BBC plays in the early Forties.)  A man of supreme intellect and will, Max has spent the last year investigating an international ring of opium traffickers led by the mysterious Mr.King.

Suddenly, The Yellow Claw takes a complete shift as it follows the minor criminal Soames, who had placed as Leroux's valet for a nefarious purpose.  Soames had fled when he found out about the dead body in Leroux's flat.  With the help of an unpleasant Greek criminal, Soames is placed in an underground labyrinth in Limehouse and given to work in an opium den.  Here we also meet the elderly Ho-Pin, the ruthless Said, and the beautiful but deadly Mahara.  For nearly a hundred pages, the flow of the story is interrupted by Soames plight among the lavish rooms and corridors hidden under the streets of Limehouse, where the walls and doors themselves seem to appear and disappear.

Max himself manages to get into the opium den and experiences some of the dreams and fantasies that opium -- and the lovely Mahara -- can provide.

The Yellow Claw is a diffuse novel that often loses its focus.  Eerie and exciting parts abound, but so do dull and plodding sections that could have been more effectively used.  For most of its 426 pages, the main question of who "Mr. King" is is completely lost.  The book may have helped cement Rohmer's reputation as a master of the thriller a century ago but most readers of today would demand a strong editor.

Thursday, December 27, 2018


How many do you remember?


If you had a radio in England* and wanted to laugh in the 1950s, you would turn on The Goon Show, an inspired bit of comedy heaven created by Spike Milligan.  The show began on May 28, 1951 under the uninspired title Crazy People but was soon re-titled as The Goon Show after a character (Alice the Goon) from the Thimble Theater/Popeye comic strips.

The Goons, precursors to That Was the Week That Was, Monty Python, and Benny Hill, were Milligan, Harry Secombe, and Peter Sellers.

Enjoy this episode from 1955.

* Or in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, India, or Canada -- but likely to be edited to remove controversial content.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


Feisty Malvina Reynolds with a message for today.


Sometimes the simplest things are the best.  Sunrise Earth was a documentary series whose title explained it all.  Several fixed location high-def cameras placed on a particular spot around the world record the sunrise.  No narration.  No ads.  No moving cameras. Just ambient sound and a view of some special place in the world waking up to a new day..  What could be simpler, more beautiful, and more relaxing?

The locations are often wildlife parks, or areas by water.  Sometimes there would be an Eastern European farming valley or a remote spot in China.  One episode may take you to Venice, another to New Zealand; you may find yourself viewing a tropical lake or a remote sea side.  No matter.  It is all relaxing and wondrous.

The episode I have chosen to link to is sunrise at Machu Picchu.  It's been a little over a year since our friend Bill Crider had to stop blogging, so I'm posting this in honor of him.  Also, there's llamas and mist and a certain majesty.

Also this is a special Christmas present to you from me.  Enjoy.


I hope you have enjoyed the Christmas musical selections I chose for this month.  I sincerely wish that you all, no matter what faith or belief, have peace and joy over this holiday season and for all the days to come.  I'm sure my wish will come true because no one who reads my blog could ever be on the naughty list.

For Christmas Day here's my favorite, I Wonder As I Wander, performed by Peter, Paul and Mary.

Monday, December 24, 2018


Kitty's favorite Christmas carol is Come, O Come Emmanuel.  here, she's picked the version by Enya for the day before Christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2018


A short story by Arnold Bennett, read by Ruth Golding.




For over 200 years the Handel and Hadyn Society has been a fixture in Boston.  Growing up, Christmas was just not Christmas without their performance of Handel's Messiah.  Here they are in 1955 under the direction of Dr. Thompson Stone with a full performance.  Enjoy.

Saturday, December 22, 2018


I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by The Carpenters.


A classic car song by Jan and Dean.  Also, a classic stupid teenager song.

DOLL MAN #34 (JUNE 1951)

Who's the minuscule marvel who really packs a punch?

Who's the diminutive dynamo of law and order?

Who's the mighty mite in the blue and red suit fighting for justice?

It's Doll Man, a six-inch tall superhero who has the strength of a full grown adult.

Doll Man was created by Will Eisner for a four-page spread in the December 1939 issue of Feature Comics published by Quality Comics.  Doll Man appeared in Feature Comics through the October 1949 issue.  He also had his own title that ran for forty-seven issues, from 1941 to 1953.  After Quality Comics folded, many of their characters were picked up by DC comics.  Eventually DC had the original Doll Man go insane and to this day he remains in an asylum.  No good deed goes unpunished, I guess.

Doll Man's alter ego is research chemist Darrell Dane, who creates a formula allowing him to shrink.  (He is also credited as the first shrinking superhero in comic books.)  Dane is soon able to shrink using the power of his mind.  When he shrinks his day-to-day clothing vanishes and he is wearing his caped Doll Man outfit, a costume sewn by his fiance Martha Roberts..  Don't ask me how.  (Martha, by the way, becomes Doll Girl in issue #37.)  Doll Man's constant companion is a great dane, Elmo the Wonder Dog.  Elmo often serves as Doll Man's steed.  I don't think PETA was around back then so I guess that's okay.

Doll Mam #34 has four stories about Doll Man and one story about Jeb Rivers back in the Mississippi steam boat days.


Friday, December 21, 2018


John McCutcheon with "Christmas in the Trenches."


Danny and the Juniors.


The Caligari Complex by Basil Copper (1980)
The Secret of Shark Reef  by "William Arden" [Dennis Lynds] (1979)

Today I have two Forgotten Books for your consideration.  Consider it a Christmas bonus although neither have anything to do with the holiday season.  In fact, that, and the dates of original publications, are the only things remotely the two have in common.

Basil Copper was perhaps best known for his horror short stories and his gothic-like horror novels, but he was also an accomplished mystery writer, penning over fifty novels featuring LA P.I. Mike Faraday.  The Faraday books can be viewed as delightful romps into a crazy alternate world.  First, the author was British and his detective American yet the books make no attempt to write the first person narratives in American English.  So Mike refers to the trunk of his car as the boot, humor is spelled humour, and Britishism abound.  Then there is Faraday himself.  A somewhat crude person who has a surprising knowledge of the finer things in goes into detail describing expensive furniture, decor, and clothing.  (He's admittedly no expert on art but identifies a painting as an original Constable, for example.)  Faraday is an amalgorithm of the tough private eye of the Thirties, forties, and Fifties pulp fiction.  He does very little actual detecting and just hangs around, stirring the pot.  He doesn't wear shoes; he wears size nines.  Women are often called twists and they automatically fall for him immediately, yet they are often untrustworthy.  He refers to himself in the third person -- "You've done it again, Mike [or Michael]."  And he grins more than a Micky Spillane character, sometimes three or four times in a chapter.  Basically, Mike Faraday is a cross between Race Williams and Mike Hammer and, like those two, does not hesitate to kill a bad guy.  And he has a beautiful and smart secretary who makes coffee and comes up with ideas to move the plot along.

In The Caligari Complex Mike is hired by Esau Martin, a "businessman on a fairly large scale who had interests in timber, real estate and marine development."  Martin claims his business is being targeted by something supernatural.  Fires, injuries and accidents have plagued the business and the week before his business parter had committed suicide by jumping off a 200-foot crane, leaving behind a notebook stating that monstrous figure had been haunting him for weeks. After Faraday takes the case the bodies begin to pile up and the key to the mystery seems to be the 1920 German silent horror film The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari.  Make gets knocked out several times (his brain should be absolute mush by this time), escapes death several times, and is seduced by a blonde Swedish knockout named Inga.

Great fun.  Be warned, though:  a little Mike Faraday goes a long way.  I usually space his adventures over months, reading only two or three books a year.

"William Arden" was Dennis Lynds, who, as "Michael Collins," wrote the seminal Dan Fortune PI series.  As 'Arden, Lynds wrote five novels about detective Kane Jackson and continued the juvenile series The Three Investigators (revamped as The 3 Investigators) after the death of creator Robert Arthur.  Arthur had been closely tied to Alfred Hitchcock as the ghost editor of a number of anthologies, created the series as a tie-in to Hitchcock and the books were presented as "Alfred Hitchcock's The Three Investigators" and contained a introduction written by 'Hitchcock."  (Later volumes and reprints dropped the Hitchcock tie-in altogether and had the introductions written by a fictional mystery writer, Hector Sebastian.  Lynds wrote thirteen books in the series, interspersed with books by M. V. Carey, March Brandel, and Kim Platt.  In all there were 43 books in the original series, of which The Secret of Shark Reef  was number 20. 

The Three Investigators are Jupiter Jones, a former child actor billed as "Baby Fatso," who remains rather chunky and has great deductive skills, Pete Crenshaw, the athlete of the trio who dislikes some of the dangerous parts of their adventures, and Bob Andrews, the studious researcher of the group.  Their secret headquarters are hidden in a junkyard owned by Jupiter's aunt and uncle.  Although station in the fictional town of Rocky Beach, California, the boys' adventures often take them far afield.

Bob's father, a reporter, is assigned to cover environmental protests against an offshore oil drilling operation and has taken the three boys with him so they can sea an oil rig first-hand.  The rig, dubbed Shark Reef Number One, is located just outside a reef that (you guessed it) is infested with sharks.  Tempers on both sides of the issue are getting hot and someone has been sabotaging both the rig.  A protester's boat has also been sabotaged by somehow removing some of the fuel so that the boat cannot make it back to shore.  The boys are aided in their investigation by the head enviromental protester, a mystery writer named John Crowe.  ("John Crowe" just happens to be one of Lynds' many pseudonyms, this time for a series of six regional mysteries taking place in a fictional California county.)

The cast includes a pair of hot-headed protesters, the mean-spirited owner of an oil company, the sympathetic manager of the oil rig, a Japanese businessman, a young Japanese gardener, a sunken World War II submarine, sharks (both friendly and hungry), and a supposed hidden treasure,  And at stake are millions of dollars.

Jupiter's junkyard and many of the usual supporting characters in the series are missing from this adventure, but the boys, through quick wit and bravery, are able to clear up the many threads of this mystery.

The Three Investigators still have a large world-wide fan base, despite being juvenile fare.  You can count me among them.

Thursday, December 20, 2018


The Irish Rovers drink to Good King Wenceslas.


From 1979, Bob Marley & The Wailers.


This one starts off with nearly 6 and a half minutes of local news from a Kansas City radio station and also includes the original commercials.  It's interesting to hear about Nixon, Watergate, Patty Hearst, and a certain high school athlete named Moses Malone.

"The Horror Within" first aired on April 17, 1974.  It was repeated on July 7, 1974, and on February 1, 1980.  Directed by Himan Brown and scripted by Milt Wisoff, the program featured Don Scardino, Delores Sutton, Joe Julian, Robert Dryden, and Earl Hammond.  E.G. Marshall was show's host.

'Following the death of his girlfriend, a young man prays for special powers to prevent future pain and suffering in the world.  But as his faith weakens, his desire to use his powers grows."  Sometimes the greatest horror is that within the human mind.


Wednesday, December 19, 2018


Let's go with a little bit country with Rascal Flats -- Joy to the World.


R. I. P., Penny Marshall.


I happened to be driving by the prison just as an escape was happening.  There was a midget climbing over the wall.  He saw me and gave me a sneer as he was jumping over the wall to freedom.  I thought, "That's a little condescending."

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


The Knoxville Gay Men's Choir brings you The First Noel.


From Rotten Tomatoes:  "Full of disorienting visual effects.  Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr is as theoretically unsettling as it is conceptually disturbing."

And from The Village Voice:  "Vampyr is Dreyer's most radical film -- maybe one of my dozen favorite movies by any director.'

Diffferent...gripping...striking...compelling...distinctive...dreamy...surreal...disorienting...atmospheric...Vampyr is now recognized as a masterpiece of film craftsmanship.  But it not ever so.  The film first received a poor reception, critical panning, and a riot in Vienna when theater owners refused to refund the audience's money.  Vampyr was a financial failure.

Director Dreyer had wanted to film the movie as a silent but pressures intervened.  Dreyer filmed his actors three times, speaking English, French, and German in turn so that the sparse dialogue would sync with their mouth movements.

Vampyr is loosely based on two stories from J. Sheridan Le Fanu's 1872 collection In a Glass Darkly -- the classic vampire tale "Carmilla" and the romantic adventure/horror story "The Room in the Dragon Volant."



Gary B. B. Coleman.

Monday, December 17, 2018


The Holly and the Ivy, sung by Judy Collins.


The old folks -- including Chuck Berry -- wished them well...


Openers:  Joe Trilling had a funny way of making a living. It was a good living, but of course he didn't make anything like the bundle he could have made in the city.  On the other hand he lived in the mountains a h  alf mile away from a picturesque village in clean air and piney-birchy woods along with lots of mountain laurel and he was his own boss.  There wasn't much competition for what he did:  he had his wife and kids around all the time and more orders than could fill.  He was one of the night people and after the family had gone to be he could work quietly and uninterruptedly.  He was happy as a clam.
     -- Theodore Sturgeon, "Occam's Scalpel"  (If, July-August 1971)

A Peach of a Teach:  Virginia Partain has been teaching high school English for more than twenty years, so when the California fire destroyed her her home as well as most of the town of Paradise she had her priorities straight.  She saved her cats and her students' college essays. 

"There's a part of us that we're always the teacher and they had to get their essays done to get into college," she explained.  Partain may have lost just about everything in the blaze but her dedication to her students remained strong.  The mere fact that their college essays survived has given hope to many of her students.  "I know that I go to school tomorrow, and I teach the kids and I bring them hope, that it's gonna be okay, that we'll make it through this," she said.

Kudos to Virginia Partain and all teachers who make their students a priority.

So Long, Farewell, auf Wiedersehen, Adieu:  Some of the people we lost this week;

  • Bob Bryan, 87, the co-creator (with Marshall Dodge, died 1982) of Bert and I, the folksy down-home Maine characters popular in the 50s and 60s. Among their records was 1961's The Return of Bert and I:  How the Bluebird II Plugged the Hole in the Machias Maru, Thus Saving the coast of Maine and Other Stories.  I wonder if not for Bryan and Dodge would we have had Garrison Keillor's stories from Lake Wobegone?
  • Jessica Starr, 35, meteorologist at Detroit's WJBK television, by suicide.  Two months ago Starr had LASIX vision correction surgery and last month began complaining of dimming vision.  It is not known whether this had anything to do with her suicide.  Starr, married with two children, was well-liked by her colleagues and viewers.
  • Joe Osborn, 81, bass guitar player and session musician, four-time winner of the Academy of Country Music's Bass Player of the Year Award.  You may not know his name but you have heard his music on such records as Ricky Nelson's "Travelin' Man," Johnny rivers' "Memphis," The Mamas & the Papas "California Dreamin'," The Associations' "Windy," Richard Harris' "MacArthur Park," The 5th Dimension's "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," Simon & Garfunkel's "The Only Living Boy in New York" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water," The Carpenters' "For All We Know," The Grass Roots' "Midnight Confessions," and America's "Ventura Highway."
  • Nancy Wilson, 81, multiple Grammy winner and musical force of nature.
  • Mary Louise Watson, 99, civil and voting rights activist who was instrumental in desegregating the Nashville public school system.  "Segregation never helped nobody.  I hope what we did back then has made a lot of difference.  I am glad we made the effort anyway.  while we've come a long way since 1957, there is still a lot of work to do."  Amen.
  • Sondra Locke, 74, forever linked as Clint Eastwood's one-time girlfriend (1975-1989).  She was much more than that.  her powerful performance in 1968's The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (her debut film) still stays with me.

Florida Man:  No further explanation necessary.

Eye of the Beholder:  Someday when I'm back up in Massachusetts I going to make a trip to the Museum of Bad Art in Somerville.  Not today, though.  The gallery is closed for renovations.  So until that day when I can admire all those pieces of bad art in person, I have to make do with this online sampling;

Some neat -- and terrible -- stuff here.

Poems of the Day:


(Sung at the opening of the Haverhill Library,November 11, 1875)

                                        "Let there be light!" God spake of old,
                                         And over chaos dark and cold,
                                         And through the dead and formless frame
                                        Of nature, life and order came.

                                        Faint was the light at first was shone
                                        On giant fern and mastadon,
                                        On half-formed plant and beast of prey,
                                        On man as rude and wild as they.

                                        Age after age, like waves, o'erran           
                                        The earth, uplifting brute and man;
                                        And mind, at length, in symbols dark
                                        Its meanings traced in stone and bark.

                                        On leaf of palm, on sedge-wrought roll;
                                        On plastic clay and leathern scroll,
                                        Man wrote his thought; and ages passed,
                                        And to!  the Press was found at last!

                                        Then dead souls woke; the thoughts of men
                                        Whose bones were dust revived again;
                                        The cloister's silence found a tongue'
                                        Old prophets spake, old poets sung.

                                        And here, to-day, the dead look down,
                                        The kings of mind again we crown;
                                        We hear the voices lost so long,
                                        The sage's word, the sybil's song.

                                        Here Greeks and Romans find themselves
                                        Alive along these crowded shelves;
                                        And Shakespeare treads again his stage,
                                        And Chaucer paints anew his age.

                                        As if some Pantheon's marbles broke
                                        Their stony trance, and lived and spoke,
                                        Life thrills along the alcoved hall,
                                        The lords of thought await our call!

                                        -- John Greenleaf Whittier

Sunday, December 16, 2018


Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and The Plastic Ono Band, with the children in the background being from the Harlem Community Choir.


Two hundred forty-five years ago...


Doc Watson with Rosa Lee Watson.

Saturday, December 15, 2018


Happy birthday, Cindy Birdsong.


For the Parrotheads, here's Jimmy Buffett with Mele Kalikimaka.

TONY TRENT #3 (1948)

Created by Matt Bailey, comic book character Tony Trent first appeared as his alter ego The Face in Big Shot Comics #1 (May 1940).  Trent s a radio announcer who witnessed a murder by gangsters disguised as policemen.  In a classic "something's got to be done about this" mode, Tony decides to fight crime.  Although he is an excellent marksman, swordsman, and unarmed fighter, Tony has no superpowers so he decides to fight crime wearing a frightening green mask (complete with fangs) the will frighten neer-do-wells.  The Face appeared regularly in Big Shot Comics through issue 362 (September 1946), after which the feature was titled "Tony Trent."  Tony Trent continued his adventures in the comic book until it's demise with issue #104.  In addition, The Face had its own short-lived title as did Tony Trent as you can see below.

In this issue, Tony and wife Babs are in an unnamed European (?) country to cover that country's elections.  The powers that want to be are not interested in free elections and are using violence and intimidation to secure their win.  Once they win, control of the press will be theirs and they can begin executing their opponents.  Tony and Babs are taken captive by a red-suited army captain wearing a blue cape, brass helmet, and riding a white horse.  Tony secretly records the head bad guy as he explains his evil plot.  He fights his way free and, using the captain's fancy uniform, rides the white horse to the American embassy where the recording is played to the country.  Evil is thus easily defeated.

In the second story, Tony and Babs plan a nice night out with dinner and theater.  Plans go awry when six truckloads of munitions are stolen from an army depot. Tony then gets a tip that six trucks have arrived at the docks.  Leaving Babs ("I'll be back almost before you can pick up the menu"), Tony rushes off.  It doesn't take a genius to know that things will get complicated for Tony while Babs stews about having dinner and going to the theater alone.  Who said marriage was easy?

The next tale take place just after World War II, when Tony and Babs were still in the military and before they married.  With them in an air liner are the lovely (and rich) Gloria Amelton and her fiance. Gloria keeps making obvious passes at Tony while Babs stews (something she is apprantly good at).  The plane crashes into a Philippine jungle where Moro headhunters live, and just a short hop from Gloria's father's estate.  The headhunters never show up but danger does.  Turns out Gloria's father and her fiance have been plotting to overthrow the government.  It also turns out that Tony had been sent to get the goods about the plot and that he was just "acting" each time Gloria threw herself at him, so Babs no longer has to stew.

The final tale in this issue brings back The Face, who has been taking down foreign agents "belonging to the most dangerous sp- ring ever to invade the United States."  The head of the spy ring is also The Fencing Master of Europe and vows to skewer The Face, not knowing that The Face is an expert swordsman and that Tony has been out-thinking him all the way.   Poor deluded spy guy!

Sandwiched among these tales is a humorous story about Brass Knuckles, a hapless jamoke who finds a leprechaun in his house.  This one is signed by "Marty Marion," a joint pseudonym for Matt Bailey and Marion Bailey.


Friday, December 14, 2018


Lekita Werts performs Hark, The Herald Sings a cappella.


The Simon Sisters -- Carly and Lucy -- from their 1964 debut album.  Carly went on to a widely successful solo career and Lucy became a noted Broadway composer.  Here's their take on a popular folk song.


The Red Spider by "Kenneth Robeson" (Lester Dent) (1938, or 1979 -- take your pick)

Pulp hero Clark "Doc'' Savage blazed his way through 181 issues of Street & Smith's Doc Savage Magazine, from March 1933 through the Summer 1949 issue (the title changed to just Doc Savage starting with the November 1937 issue and, during the last few years of publication the words Science Detective were added to the cover until...but more of that in a moment.  Since then many other Doc Savage adventures have been (and are being) published, most of which have been written by Will Murray.  The vast majority of the original Doc Savage stories were written by Lester Dent under the house pseudonym "Kenneth Robeson."  All the original magazine adventures were published in paperback by Bantam beginning in the 1960s.

One of Dent's Doc Savage novels, title "In Hell, Madonna" was never published in the magazine.  The story had been scheduled for the October-November 1948 issue but was killed by editor Daisy Bacon.  The magazine just skipped that issue and went to the Winter 1948 issue; by that time few people noticed the missing issue. The remaining two issues of the magazine (all with Doc Savage adventures by Dent) appeared in 1949 as quarterlies.

What happened?  World War II had ended and a new global threat began to emerge as the Cold War began.  Doc Savage and his crew were re-purposed for what were basically spy stories, with emphasis on global politics and propaganda.  Doc Savage became an international troubleshooter for the U.S. State Department.  After returning from maternity leave, Doc Savage editor Babette Rosmond soon resigned in early 1948 to pursue a free-lance career..  Taking over the reins from Rosmond was William J. de Grouchy, who stayed in the position for only a few months but, while he was there he commissioned Dent to write a Doc savage novel, working title "In Hell, Madonna."  De Grouchy hated the proposed title but, as far as I can tell, never settled on a better one.  Enter de Grouchy's replacement, Daisy Bacon, the respected editor of Street & Smith's Love Story and Detective Story magazines.  Bacon soon saw that sales of Doc Savage were dropping, and the magazine got many letters from readers complaining about the spy/Cold War motif of recent issues.  Readers demanded a return to the old Doc -- the fantastic hero of so many fantastic adventures.  That convinced Bacon:  no longer will "Doc Savage saving the world" be the thrust of his adventures.  So Daisy Bacon scuttled the poorly named "In Hell, Madonna," as well as the October-November issue.

The words "Science Detective" were dropped from the next issue's cover as the bronzed hero returned to his roots -- all in vain, however, Doc Savage (as noted above) only lasted for three issues after the missed issue that was to have "In Hell, Madonna."

Time past.  Dent died.  And in 1975 pulp author and historian Will Murray discovered hints of an unknown and unpublished manuscript while going through the files of Street & Smith.  a two-year search ended when Norma Dent, Lester's widow, came across a carbon copy of the novel among Dent's papers.  Two years later, the story -- renamed The Red Spider -- finally saw print as #95 in the Bantam Books Doc Savage reprint series.


A long journey, but worth it.  The Red Spider is considered one of Dent's best Doc Savage novels, a pared-down, fast-moving tale with plenty of action and humor that takes Doc and two of his assistants to Joseph Stalin's Russia.

The Red Spider is an unknown Soviet official hidden in the center of a web, holding the strings of all Stalin's secret plots, including a rumored plan to build an atomic bomb.  Doc's mission:  find this "spider," pump him with truth serum, get a recording of everything he knows, and escape safely with the recording to expose Russian plans to the world.  Easy peasy.  Not really.

Caught and faced with a firing squad, Doc Savage must use all his talents and resources to complete his mission.  Along the way, there is enough misdirection and trickery to worthy of Robert Redford's movie The Sting.

Dent clearly wanted to take Doc Savage into modern times but, because of editorial and publishing realities, was not able to.  It's a shame but still we are left with a wonderful, pulpish action hero, as well as with this novel, so I can't really complain.


Thursday, December 13, 2018


Johnny Cash sings O Little Town of Bethlehem.


Forty-six years ago astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt became the last people to set foot on the moon.  **sigh**

From 2010. here the the absolutely glorious Renee Fleming singing Antonin Dvorak's "Song to the Moon" from 1901's Rusalka -- and doing it absolutely gloriously!  Jiri Belohlavek conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Here is the English translation;

Moon, high and deep in the sky
Your light sees far
You travel around the wide world,
And see into people's homes.

Moon, stand still a while
And tell me where is my dear.

Tell him, silvery moon,
That I am embracing him.

For at least momentarily
let him recall the memory of

Illuminate him far away,
and tell him, tell him who is
waiting for him!

If his human soul is in fact
dreaming of me,
may the memory awaken him!

Moonlight, don't disappear,


The Adventures of Superman rode the radio airwaves from February 12, 1940 to March 1, 1951 for a total of 2088 episodes.  It began on New York City's WOR station and was first syndicated to only eleven stations, airing three times a week with fifteen-minute episodes.  As it gained popularity (and radio stations) the show moved to the Mutual Radio Network on August 31, 1942 and continued its thrice-weekly (sometimes five times a week), fifteen-minute format until February 7, 1949, when it began airing half-hour episodes three times a week until June 24 of that year.  On October 29, the shop moved to ABC Radio for a once a week airing, then expanded to two times a week From June 5, 1950 to the show's close.

The radio show was created by David Ducovny, a DC comics press agent, and pulp writer Robert Maxwell.  Frank chase produced the early episodes, which were written by George Ludlam.

The identity of the actor playing Superman was not announced until 1946. when it was revealed that Bud Collyer played the Kryptonian superhero (and his Clark Kent alter ego).

Linked below is episode 7, "Yellow Mask Steals Fuel for Atomic Beam," narrated by George Lowther.  Rolly Bester (wife of SF author Alfred Bester) plays Lois Lane, Julian Noa is Perry White (a character created for the radio show -- bet you never knew that!  And he was originally going to named "Paris White" -- another bet you didn't know that!).  (Jimmy Olsen [another character created for the radio show], played by Jack "Jackie" Kelk, did not make his debut until April 15 episode.)  Julian Noa also plays the evil Yellow Mask, who wants to used the atomic beam to destroy the Daily Planet building.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Somehow a driving percussion beat works in Sarah McLachlan's Angels We Have Heard on High.  enjoy.


Seventy-seven years ago, Adolph Hitler declared the imminent extermination of the Jews.  He tried hard but failed, in part due the faith and courage of the Jewish people, as evidenced by this song which came from prisoners of the Bogermor concentration camp.

Here's Paul Robeson with a song that defines the human spirit.


Midgets and dwarfs have very little in common.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Happy birthday, Big Mama Thornton.


Once upon a time Erskine Caldwell was a very popular writer, chronicling the lives of of the Southern poor in his novels and short stories.  Such books as Tobacco Road and God's Little Acre were best-sellers.  When I was young, it seemed like paperback publisher Signet Books made a cottage industry issuing reprints of Caldwell's books.  Tobacco Road was adapted as a play by Jack Kirkland in 1933, a year after the book's publication, and became one of the most successful Broadway plays on record, running for eight years.  (It is the 19th longest running play on Broadway and the 2nd longest running non-musical.)  Tobacco Road, the movie, was directed by John Ford, from a screenplay by Nunnally Johnson.  The film scrapped much of the book's realism and relied heavily on comedy.  As director Ford said, "We have no dirt in this picture.  We've eliminated the horrible details and what we've got left is a nice dramatic story.  What we're aiming at is to have the customers sympathize with our people and not feel disgusted."  (Ford's hidden reason was an effort to avoid low ticket sales in the South, where the book was in disfavor due to the nature of it's plot and characters.)  Still, there were fears of censorship of the film, leading to no publicity being given while the movie was shot.  In the end, the film was only banned in Australia and for unstated reasons.

NOT SO FUN FACT:  Caldwell, despite his life-long sympathy for the plight of the working poor -- both white and black -- in the South, could be a pure-dee bastard in his thinking, espousing both eugenics and the sterilization of Georgia's poor whites -- views he inherited from his Presbyterian minister father.

Anyway, here's the film version of a powerful novel and play.  It features Charlie Grapewine (Uncle Henry in The Wizard of Oz; Grandpa Joad in The Grapes of Wrath; Marjorie Rambeau (Primrose Path, Torch Song, A Man Called Peter, The View from Pompey's Head); Gene Tierney (Laura, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Leave Her To Heaven); William Tracy ( "Hotshot Charlie" in television's Terry and the Pirates and Terry himself in the serial version of Terry and the Pirates); Elizabeth Patterson (Intruder in the Dust, Matilda Trumbull for three seasons on I Love Lucy); Dana Andrews (Laura, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Best Years of Our Lives); Ward Bond (It's a Wonderful Life, The Searchers, television's Wagon Train); Slim Summerville (All Quiet on the Western Front, Captain January, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm); Grant Mitchell (Arsenic and Old Lace, The Life of Emile Zola, The Grapes of Wrath); and Zeffie Tilbury (The Grapes of Wrath, Comin' Round the Mountain, Werewolf of London.)



O Holy Night by Nat King Cole.

Monday, December 10, 2018


O, Come All ye Faithful.  From the 2013 Christmas Eve service at Westminster Abbey.

Sunday, December 9, 2018


From Hank Garner's Author Stories Podcast, here's a recent interview with 3-time Edgar winner T. Jefferson Parker, author of two dozen highly acclaimed books.  Parker's latest thriller, Swift Vengeance, was published in August has PI Roland Ford on the trail of the killer who is beheading CIA drone operatives.  Criminal Element called this novel a "timely and terrifying story [that] packs an emotional; punch...powerful stuff.'


Chance McCoy & the Appalachian String Band.


Jose Feliciano wishes us Feliz Navidad.

Saturday, December 8, 2018


For a change of pace, here's Eric Bogle's Santa Bloody Claus.


On this day in 1660, a woman first appeared on the English public stage in an acting role.  Either Margaret Hughes or Anne Marshall (accounts differ) played Desdemona in Shakespeare's Othello.

In recognition of this, here's Helen Reddy.


There's plenty of flying action, Good girl Art, and nasty Germans and Japanese in this fast-moving issue of Wings Comics from Fiction House.

We open with an adventure of Captain Wings by Major T. E. Bowen.  (Several of the tales in this issue are signed with a military rank included, something typical of many of the pulp magazines of the time.)  Wings is recuperating from having "his mangled legs crushed in Colonel Kamakazi's inhuman torture chamber" and hoping to get a medical okay to get back to duty.  As Wings is flown into a military rehab center, a beautiful blonde (showing plenty of leg, cleavage and midriff) grabs a rifle and runs off, attempting to shoot another newly-arrived patient, Colonel Sir Reginald Grayson (complete with uniform, kilt, and sporran), but is stopped before she could do harm.  Her name is Olivia, an amnesia patient who reacted violently to Sir Reginald..  What gives?  Well, Grayson is a secret Fascist and Olivia knows something...which does not prevent Olivia from running around for much of the tale in her underwear.  And there's something about a Nazi attempt to bomb Russians (who at that point were our friends) and Wings and Olivia have to spring into action.

Red-headed Jane Martin is guarding a top secret jet.  Of course there are Nazis,  And of course Jane wins out.

Greasemonkey Griffin is strutting done the street in his new suit when he is mistaken for a pilot by Nazi spies trying to flee the FBI.  A perfect plan...if only Greasemonkey Griffin knew how to fly.

Japanese and German spies plot to us a stolen atomic bomb on American troops but neglect to account for The Phantom Falcon, a Navy ace long thought dead.

Suicide Smith is tapped to fly a plane with a cargo of diamonds.  This should be a milk run but two other planes with the same cargo have vanished.  The zaftig daughter of the plane's owner has stolen aboard to spend some time with suicide and the two (plus plane, plus diamonds) are pulled out the sky by a giant zeppelin.  Can they escape and foil the evil man behind the diamond thefts?

Finally, there's a little spooky tale about a Ghost Squadron.  A downed pilot is saved from Nazis by the spirit of a sunken ship.

There's a lot to like in this issue.


Friday, December 7, 2018


Mary's Boy Child by the great Harry Belafonte.


Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines by Ray Bradbury (1998)

Last week I reviewed Richard Matheson's children's oriental fantasy Abu and the 7 Marvels.  This week it's time for another children's oriental fantasy -- similarly titled -- by Ray Bradbury.

Bradbury's story is simple.  Ahmed, the twelve-year-old son of a caravan leader, falls off his camel during a caravan and is left behind in the desert.  Buried in the sand, Ahmed fights his way to the top and discovers that he is now alone.  Below his feet is something hard.  Clearing the sand he finds the head of a large statue of some ancient god.  Realizing he is doomed, the young boy burst into tears and pleads to the inert statue:

'"Oh, ancient god, whatever your name...{H}elp this lost son of a good father, this evil boy who meant no harm but slept in school, ran errands slowly, did not pray fromm his heart, ignored his mother, and did not hold his family in great esteem.  For all this I know I must suffer.  Bur here in the midst of silence, at the desert's heart, where even the wind knows not my name?  Must I die so young?  Am I to be forgotten without having been?"

His tears fell on the statue, wakening it.  It is the ancient god Gonn-Ben-Allah, who recognizes in Ahmed as the one he had been waiting for, "the keeper of the skies, the inheritor of the dream, the one who flies without flying."

Gonn then gives Ahmed the gift of flight and the two soar off into the night through time and space, visiting ancient cities and modern marvels, all with their sorrows and hopes.

As is usual for Bradbury, the message is hope and living life to the fullest.  Typical Bradbury, full of wonderful words, childhood dreams, and a sentiment that is effective in small doses.  Don't get me wrong.  I love Bradbury's writing.  I just have a low threshold for saccharine, probably magnified by having read Matheson's book the week before.  The Matheson, published a few years later than this one, was a much better book IMHO.  If I hadn't read the Matheson, my react to Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines would certainly have been better.  Also, Bradbury's book was illustrated by Chris Lane while Matheson's was by William Stout.  No contest.

Recommended, especially for children and for Bradbury fans.  As I said, Bradbury is best taken in small doses.  Luckily, this is a small book.


The Carson Robison Trio with a song of its time.

Thursday, December 6, 2018


The Virgin Mary [Had a Baby Boy] by The Chad Mitchell Trio.


Let's go back to 1930 with Harry Richmond & Earl Burnett's Biltmore Orchestra version of Irving Berlin's "Puttin' On the Ritz," which grabbed the number 1 spot for eight weeks.

Am I the only one who keeps hearing Peter Boyle's version from Young Frankenstein whenever this song is played?


From May 28, 1947's The Crime Club comes "Murder Makes a Mummy." 

Mutual Broadcasting's The Crime Club was radio's second incarnation of a weekly radio series based on books published by Doubleday's Crime Club imprint.  The series ran for 47 episodes, from December 2, 1946 to October 16, 1947.  A brief scouring of the internet did not turn up the source novel for this episode which involves a recent corpse wrapped as a mummy and displayed at a museum event.

"Murder Makes a Mummy was produced and directed by Jock MacGregopr for Roger Bower (who directed most of the episodes) from a script by Stedman Coles.  Featured players were Lawson Zerbe, Jane Harvin, Al Hodge, Lon Clarke, and Ted Osborne.  Your host, known only as "The Librarian," was most likely Raymond Edward Johnson, who also served as host for radio's Inner Sanctum.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018


Orla Fallon with What Child Is This?


Happy birthday, Richard Wayne Penniman!


Back when he was younger my brother used to make dates for 12:59.  He really enjoyed that one to one time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


Band Aid 1984:  Do They Know It's Christmas?  Formed by Bob Geldorf in 1984 to raise awareness and money for famine-torn Ethiopia, Band aid gathered forty major artists from (mainly) England and Ireland to produce one of the most important recordings of the last forty years.  The vocalists were Robert "Kool" Bell (Kool & the Gang), Bono (U2), Pete Briquette (The Boomtown Rats), Adam Clayton (U2), Phil Collins (Genesis), Chris Cross (Ultravox), Simon Crowe (The Boomtown Rats), Sarah Dallin (Bananarama), Siobhan Fahey (Bananarama), Johnny Fingers (The Boomtown Rats), Bob Geldorf (The Boomtown Rats), Boy George (Culture Club), Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17), Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet), John Keeble (Spandau Ballet), Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet), Martin Kemp (Spandau Ballet), Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran), "Marilyn" (British/Jamaican pop singer Peter Robinson), George Michael (Wham!), Jon Moss (Culture Club), Steve Norman (Spandau Ballet), Rick Parfitt (Status Quo), Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Francis Rossi (Status Quo), Sting (The Police), Andy Taylot (Duran Duran), James "J.T." Taylor (Kool & the Gang), John Taylor (Duran Duran), Roger Taylor (Duran Duran), Dennis Thomas (Kool & the Gang), Midge Ure (Ultravox),
Martyn Ware (Heaven 17), Jody Watley, Paul Weller (The Style Council), Keren Woodward (Bananarama), and Paul Young.  The musicians were Phil Collins (drums), John Taylor (bass), Andy Taylor (guitar), and Midge Ure (keyboard).

It heartens me this holiday season that, despite the divisive rhetoric from a few, most people today are as committed as they were in 1984.


Also known as 'The Mighty Quinn."

Here's Bob Dylan.


Z Cars (pronounced Zed Cars) was a popular and gritty British television cop show that ran from 1962 to 1968.  It centered on the mobile police in the northern England fictional town of Newtown.  During the show's run of 801 episodes, the shifting cast included over 40 main characters, with actor Stratford Johns appearing in the most episodes as DCI Inspector Barlow for 565 episodes.  Among the actors who had appeared over the years were Joss Ackland (40 episodes as DI Todd), John Thaw (perhaps best known today as Inspector Morse; 4 episodes as DC Elliot); Monkee Davy Jones (3 episodes); and a young Judi Dench (who up-staged everyone in an early two-parter).

In the beginning, the show met with some oppsition from the real police, who felt that the portrayals were too realistic.  But the long run of the series is a firm indication of its lasting popularity.  the original show;s run ended in 1965, with actors Stratford Johns, Frank Windsor, and Robert Keegan were spun off into a new series, Softly, Softly.  In 1967, desperate to revive a time slot occupied by a failed soap opera, BBC revived Z Cars and the show continued for another decade.

Of note, Z Cars was one of the last BBC dramas to be screened live.

The episode presented below, "People's Property," two small boys are caught trying to break into a warehouse.  Placed on bail (due to a lack of youth institutes), the boys soon get into further trouble and run of to Wales with the police in pursuit.

Aired on May 15, 1962, this episode was written and directed by John McGrath, who ended up directing nine Z Cars episodes but wrote only this one.

The quality of this print is not the best, but I'm sure you will enjoy this episode.

Monday, December 3, 2018


Here's the complete performance of Ghosts of Christmas Eve by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  It's well over two hours long, so block out some time top watch -- it's worth it.


My personal and political opinion of George H. W. Bush aside, America lost an icon this weekend with his passing. 

Here's "The George H. W. Bush Campaign Song."


Openers:  "I am visiting the planet Uranus tonight!"

I stared at Robert Hunt.  He was leaning forward in his chair as he spoke, his keen face gleaming with suppressed excitement.  Both he and Jean Hunt, his slim,dark-haired sister, seemed watching the effect on me of what he had said.  We were sitting in the soft-lit living-room of their up-state country home, where their telegram had brought me this night.

"Visiting Uranus tonight, Hunt?" I said finally, smiling.  "Is Jean going with you or is this only a weekend trip?"

"I'm not joking, Devlin," Hunt said calmly, and his sister nodded affirmation.  "Rob is really in earnest, Dev."

     -- from "The Terror Planet" by Edmond Hamilton (Weird Tales, May 1932; reprinted in The Reign of the Robots:  the Collected Edmond Hamilton, Volume 4)

I'm Back:  Maybe.  At least I hope to be blogging on a regular basis again.  A quick update:  We decided to sell our house and the real estate agent (a friend of a friend) did not really know what he was doing.  For example, we were listed as having a two-garage when we did not have a garage; or homeowner's fees were listed at $204 a month, instead of a year; he listed the house a full two weeks before we were ready and included the most off-putting pictures possible in the listing; and so on and so on.  We fired him but we had already lost the momentum of a new sale and of first appearances.  In the meantime we rented a small, older apartment -- which had its own problems.  All during this our oldest girl was undergoing chemo and then radiation for breast cancer and out youngest daughter and her husband were taking their part-time soap business (Cove Lake Soapworks -- look them up on Etsy -- they have fantastic products) to a new level, renting warehouse space, moving the operation from their home, and coming up with new products.  Basically, I just did not have the time to put into the blog.

Now, we're pretty much ensconced in the new place and we're meeting with a new (and knowledgeable) agent today to plan out a sales strategy on the old house.  Jessamyn is responding to treatment very well and, fingers crossed, may be declared cancer-free in a year.  Christina and Walt have moved their operation and are now experimenting with holiday gift baskets.  I did something evil to my back a couple of weeks ago and can't do anything around the house so I'm able to sit in front of the computer more.

So things are ducky, albeit sore, for me.

Please Keep in Mind:  Things are not necessarily ducky for others however.  Please keep Kevin Tipple in your thoughts.  His beloved wife Sandi passed away a year ago this past Saturday and this anniversary (as well as the entire past year) has been very hard on him.  Kevin is the president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society and blogs at Kevin's Corner (

Also, please keep Patti and Phil Abbott in your thoughts.  Phil has been battling cancer and has had a few bad turns recently.  Patti is our Friday's Forgotten Fiction Fearless Leader and a very accomplished writer in her own right.  She very popular site at  is a go-to location for many of us, although she has been basically on hiatus for a couple of weeks while she deals with personal stuff.  Patti and Phil are two of the good ones.

I know that all of us have people that are dealing with difficulties.  Please keep them all in mind.  Kind thoughts and kind deeds can make the unbearable bearable.

Florida Man:  While I have been inactive, Florida Man has not been.

This past week, an unidentified Florida Man went shopping at Walgreens in South Beach wearing only a long Santa hat, white boots, a red garter. and angel wings.  Perhaps we should change the words of the holiday songs "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" and "Jingle Bells.'

Not to be outdone, Tallahassee Florida Man Philip Bailey was arrested for urinating on a bus stop seat and then flashing a policeman.  Spreading the joy of the holiday season, perhaps.

In Marion County, a 21-year-old Florida Man admitted to having sex with a miniature horse.  Reminds me of Tom Leher's old joke of majoring in animal husbandry until they caught him at it.

And in Sebastian, Florida Man brought a decaying human skull into a Publix supermarket and was using it as a hand puppet.

And a few miles from where I live, an intoxicated Florida Man burned down his house while trying to bake cookies on a George Foreman Grill.  And, yes, he was naked.  Naked seems to be the official uniform of Florida Man.

Finally, although this happened a few months ago, I have to report that an armless Florida Man used his feet to stab a Chicago tourist in Miami.

91 Years Ago Today:  The first Laurel and Hardy film, Putting Pants on Philip, was released.  This seems like an apt time to recommend he, John Connolly's wonderful fictional biography of Stan Laurel.

Happy Birthday:  To Ludwig Holberg, author of 1741's The Journey of Niels Klim to the World Underground (born 1684); to American painter and portraitist Gilbert Stuart (born 1755); to novelist Joseph Conrad (born Josef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski in 1857); to African-american songwriter Gussie L. Davis, whose more than 300 published songs included "Irene, Good Night," which formed the basis of the folk song 'Goodnight, Irene," and the horribly un-PC "There'd Never Been No Problem If They'd Kidnapped a Coon" (born 1863); to singers Ferlin Husky (born 1925), Andy Williams (born 1927), and Ozzy Osbourne (born 1948); and to newly-wed Daryl Hannah (born 1960).

Donald Trump:  Ptah!  Can he get any worse?  Wait, don't answer that!

This Week's Poem Haiku:


by Michelle Faulkner


                              Crowned in icy white
                                        Polar robe of regal snow
                              Consort evergreen

Sunday, December 2, 2018


It Came Upon a Midnight Clear with Tennessee Ernie Ford.


Mary Maxwell was asked to give the invocation at the 2009 Convention of Home Instead Senior Care Caregiver of the Year dinner.  Her prayer was wise, compassionate, and funny.  I found this on YouTube and just had to share this senior's marvelous insights.



From the early 1940s, here's Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Saturday, December 1, 2018


John Denver with one of the most cherished Christmas songs ever.


Happy birthday, Lou Rawls!


There's very few police in this issue but it is jam-packed with heroes and superheroes:
  • The Firebrand (Rod Reilly) is a masked crime-fighter with a see-through shirt and great athletic ability.  A millionaire playboy socialite, Rod Reilly becomes crime's greatest enemy when there is evil afoot in Reed Crandall's "Introducing the Firebrand."
  • 711 was not a chain of convenience stores back in 1941, but it was the prison number of Daniel Dyce, a young attorney who took the rap for a friend who wanted to stay free until he saw his soon-to-be-born baby.  When his friend dies without confessing, Daniel decides to remain in jail and fight crime from the inside in George Brenner's "The Origin of #711.".  Daniel may have severe judgement issues.
  • Super Snooper is a comical in trench coat and slouch hat.  In Gil Fox's untitled vignette, the evil Dr. M. Balm sends a man-eating plant after our hapless hero.
  • Eagle Evans, Flyer of Fortune, and his camera-toting sidekick Snap Smith arer sent to investigate reports of enemy armored divisions within the quarantined Middle Eastern city of Cyranis.  In Clark Williams' (a house name) "The Attack of Ali Harid," Eagle is arrested for violating a treaty, yer somehow he must stop an evil Nazi plot.
  • The Sword is really reporter Chic Carter who stumbles on a murder plot by the Black Baron in "The Legend of the Black Baron."   Whennot reporting, Chic wears a black mask and carries (what d'ya know) a sword.  This ep[isode may have been written and drawn by Will Eisner.  Or maybe not.
  • Jack Cole's legendary Plastic Man makes his debut in this issue.  Criminal Patrick "Eel" O'Brian has a vat of acid spilled on him while fleeing a crime scene, giving him the ability to stretch...and stretch...and stretch.  He forsakes a life of crime and joins the other side in "The Origin of Plastic Man."
  • Steele Kerrigan, wrongly imprisoned, saves the life of the warden and is paroled but criminals try to pin another rap on him in Al Bryant's "The Redemption of Steele Kerrigan."
  • DA Bill Perkins dons a mask and cape to investigate aliens smuggled in this country in the carcasses of fish as The Mouthpiece, pitting him against Peg-Leg Friel in "The Alien Smuggling Racket" by Fred Guardineer.
  • The Phantom Lady is really Sandra Knight, the daughter of a senator.  Aided by the mysterious black light and her own athletic ability, the Phantom Lady (clad in a yellow one-piece and a green cape) is the bane of spies and neer-do-wells.  In Arthur Peedy's "the Coming of the Phantom Lady," Sandra rescues a kidnapped scientist who has developed a new type of explosive.
  • Young hillbilly Dewey Drip reacts to a draft notice in a one-page vignette by John Devlin.
  • And, finally, Roy Lincoln is The Human Bomb in Paul Gustavson's "The Origin of the Human Bomb."  Roy is helping his scientist father develop a powerful explosive -- 27-QRX -- when enemy agents break in, kill Roy's father, and try to steal the explosive.  Rather than let it fall into enemy hands, Roy swallows the explosive and his body changes.  No, not puberty.  Roy glows, is bulletproof, and has a literal explosive punch.  Nazis beware, the Human Bomb is a-comin' for you!

That's a lot of bang for a dime!