Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


Maxine Nightingale.


The Intruder was a box office bomb, a fact that director Roger Corman blamed on star William Shatner's performance.  When Corman later re-released the film under the title I Hate Your Guts Shatner felt that the new title was Corman's way of expressing his displeasure at his performance.

Actually, Shatner wasn't too bad in this civil rights era exploitation flick.  Shatner plays a provocateur inciting the flames of hatred  as a small Southern town's high school is about to be integrated.

Filmed in part in East Prairie, Missouri, Corman used that town's high school as an important set piece.  However, the sheriff ran Corman and his crew out of town, reportedly because they were thought to be Communists.  Corman and an assistant had to sneak into town to get one final needed shot of the high school, fleeing after getting the shot and seeing the sheriff's car coming after them.

For a one-note film, The Intruder has garnered a surprising amount of followers over the years.  Part of the reason, I suspect is the screenplay and the source novel, both written by the talented Charles Beaumont.  Beaumont was a highly regarded fantasist who died all too young (and all too horribly) at the age of 38; although his by-line appeared up to his death, his friends complete many of his stories without credit.  Among his many accomplishments, he had the honor of being the first person to have an original story published in Playboy magazine.  Next to Rod Serling and Richard Matheson, Beaumont contributed to more episodes (22 in total) for the original The Twilight Zone.  He sold his first story in 1951 and by the end of the decade had moved into television and screen writing.  Among his films were Queen of Outer Space (written with Ben Hecht), The Premature Burial (written with Ray Russell), Burn, Witch, Burn (written with George Baxt and Richard Matheson), The Masque of the Red Death (written with R. Wright Campbell), and the absolutely amazing (IMHO) 7 Faces of Dr. LaoThe Intruder was the second of Beaumont's only two novels; the first -- Run from the Hunter, written with John Tomelin and published under the joint pseudonym "Keith Grantland as a Gold Medal original paperback -- was the inspiration for the television series The Fugitive.

Featured along with Shatner are Frank Maxwell (By Love Possessed, Madame X, and a gazillion telesion shows), Beverly Lunsford (whose brief fifteen year career included The Crawling Hand and a recurring role on television's National Velvet), screen heavy Leo Gordon (Hondo, Riot in Cell Block 11, Baby Face Nelson), and Robert Emhardt (The Magnificent Yankee, 3:10 to Yuma, Wake Me When It's Over).  Charles Beaumont also acted in the film (as Mr. Paton, his only film role) and his writer friends George Clayton Johnson and William F. Nolan also appeared as, respectively, Phil West and Bart Carey.  Johnson and Nolan went on to write Logan's Run.

It has been moted, but unconfirmed, that voice actress June Forey (the voice of Rocket J. Squirrel, Natasha Fatale, Dudley Do-Right's Nell Fenwick, Tweety Bird's Granny, Witch Hazel, Cindy Lou Who, Pogo Possum, and so many others) provided the voice of The Old Hotel Clerk.

The lore behind this film and its filming is interesting but should not detract frommthe fact that this is a pretty good B movie.


Monday, April 29, 2019


Just because Willie is cool.


Openers:  It was evening on the plain of Angora in the year of our Lord 1394.  The sun was a glimmering ball of red, peering through a glimmering haze of dust at the caravans of Bayezid the Great, surnamed the Thunderbolt, sultan of Osmanli and Seljuke Turks, master of the Califate and Overlord of the Mamelukes of Egypt.

-- "The Great Cham" by Harold Lamb (Adventure, July 3, 1921)

Kismet:  A unnamed man in Puerto Penseco, Mexico, had a restraining order against him filed by his ex-girlfriend for domestic battery -- which, as any "real" man will tell is just a silly piece of paper.  So he dug a large hole from which he could spy on his ex, and...(you're way ahead of me here) it collapsed around him, trapping him.  He's in jail now.  I suppose the moral here is one should take a good, hard look at one's best-laid plans before they gang agley.

Chutzpah:  A 36-year-old man shoplifted items from a Sportsman Warehouse in Gillette, Wyoming, twice in the same day.  On his second light-fingered trip, he also asked to fill out an employment application.  Perhaps he wanted an employee discount.

On This Day:  In 1861 the Maryland House of Delegates voted not to secede from the Union.  Sucessionists got their back in 1939 when the House of Delegates voted to make Maryland, My Maryland the official State Song.  The song was written in 1861 in response to the Baltimore riot of 1861 in which Confederate sympathizers battled with Union state militias called up by Washington;
twelve civilians were killed and hundreds wounded in what would be known as the "First Bloodshed of the Civil War."  The song itself is a call to arms against the Union and refers to Abraham Lincoln as a tyrant, a despot, and a Vandal.  It also does not have nice things to say about the Union:  "She [referring to the state] is not dead, nor blind, nor dumb --/Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!"  Attempts to repeal or replace Maryland's state song have failed nine times, from 1974 to this year, including an attempt to change its designation from "Official State Song" to "Historical State Song."  And Bing Crosby included the song on a 1961 album as part of a medley.

Also on this day in 1945, the Dachau concentration camp was liberated by Allied soldiers.  Holocaust deniers take note.

And it's the birthday of Rafael Sabatini (b. 1875), who famously wrote, "He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad"; of Duke Ellington (b. 1899), who won fourteen Gammies (and was nominated for eleven more), was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, France's Legion of Honor, and a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for his contributions to music and culture; and of Willie Nelson (b. 1933), who is cool.

Florida Man:  Despite increased activity by Mexico Man and Wyoming Man (see above), Florida Man held his own this week.  Anthony Sabella, 49, of Spring Hill, threatened landscapers as they returned to his home to remove grass clippings they had left on his driveway.  Sabella began by shouting at them and using racial slurs.  then, as they were leaving, he approached them, waving a gun and threatening to kill them.  He was arrested for possession of a firearm/ammunition by a felon and on two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm.  Sabella is being held without bail.  Although news reports didn't say so, alcohol may have been involved.

And Felipe Oquendo, 39, of Fort Walton Beach (about a half hour drive from my house), locked his girlfriend in a bathroom and began attacking a mattress, looking for a man allegedly "hiding inside."
Oquendo stabbed the mattress with a bedpost and then began tearing it apart with his hands.  He later told authorities that he found the mannin the mattress and fought him but the man manged to escape.  And the news reports did say so, meth was involved.

Greater Naples firefighter Buddy Tomei is under investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for posting a video of him using a pistol to shoot a shark.  The Commission is trying to determine whether he was past the nine-mile limit when he shot the shark (which would be legal) or not (which would be illegal).  In the meantime Tomei is getting a firestorm of criticism on social media -- something which does not please him.  "You can shoot a nuisance giraffe, but if you take care of a shark that runs divers out of the water you're a bad person?"  Tomei posted a picture of himself with a shark costume that made it appear the shark was eating him:  "Does this make all you haters happier?  Just act like it's real so you can sleep better.  Bunch of radicles (sic)!"

Today's Poem:

Tracks carve through Florida florid wetlands
wilderness breaks down my estuarial intent
                                                      he fell in love with the s-curve of her neck to spine
                                                                                          simple mathematics
                                                      could explain the reappearance of other things too
do we all dream of swash-buckling adventures
and text anxiety   mothers sharpening knives
let's track green dots on trees
out own operation of marking up boundaries
discern the legibility of protons and casual time
shadows of moths passing between light
spread across your sleeping face

-- Megan Kaminski

Saturday, April 27, 2019


Here's a couple of appropriate songs.

First up, Billie holiday:

Then the ever-feisty Malvina Reynolds:


From its very beginning America has had a long history of xenophobia.  Indigenous Americans, religious dissenters, Blacks, Jews, Catholics, Irish, Chinese, Muslims, Hispanics, the LGBTQ community ...the list is long and getting longer.  Despite the teachings of our major religions and our best nature to go beyond our darker fears, there will always be a few who are happy to revert back to white supremacy and/or nationalism.  Which brings us to the Ku Klux Klan.

First a brief history.  The Klan has existed in three separate incarnations.  First organized in Tennessee in the late 1860s by six former confederate Army officers and was overtly a social club.  Within a year it began transforming into an amorphous mass of individual groups throughout the South with the stated purpose of promoting white supremacy and resisting the post-war Republican rule.  They became a vigilante group which used threats, violence, and murder to further their ends.  By 1871, the Klan was virtually dead -- brought down by poor leadership and and a large number of criminals and sadists in their ranks.  But by this time they had given rise to a number of paramilitary vigilante groups in the South.

The second incarnation of the Klan began in 1915 Georgia by William Joseph Simmons, who was inspired by the romantic image of the Klan portrayed in D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation.  Simmons and the newly recruited Klansmen began public marching, most notably to an Atlanta screening of Griffith's film.  By 1921 the Klan developed a business plan and began to grow to a nationwide organization though the use of paid recruiters and the image of being a "fraternal" society.  Promoting "One Hundred Percent Americanism," the Klan opposed Catholics, Blacks, Jews, and immigrants from Eastern Europe, among others.  This new Klan was also fiercely puritanical and supported Prohibition.  A splinter group was formed by D.C. Stephenson in 1923.  Two years later, Stephenson was convicted of the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a white schoolteacher, Madge Oberholtzer, and both Klans began a slow decline, although small independent groups managed to continue on. bringing terror and death to white and Black alike.  It should be noted that the second Klan was mainly an urban organization and that a number of Klan groups, mainly rural areas of the North, could find nothing to protest, becoming (as one paper put it) "night shirt knights."  (In the small New England town where I was raised, the local Klan (long gone before my birth) had little or nothing to do until (finally!) a Catholic family moved in the white Protestant community; the Klan members were overjoyed that they now had a place to burn a cross.) By 1944, the second incarnation of the Klan was dead.

The third and current incarnation of the Klan began in the 1950s as a response to the civil rights movement and as an attempt to hold onto their idea of white supremacy.  Homes were bombed, activists and protesters were killed, people were hanged, innocents slaughtered,   The atrocities -- too numerous to number -- burn in our brains to this day.  The modern Klan has morphed to embrace White Nationalists, neo-Nazis, hate speech, racism, antisemitism, and homophobia.  By 2016 the number of Klan chapters grew from 72 to 190.  The current administration appears to condone, if not support, the hated.

All this is a lengthy introduction to Our Own Ku Klux Klan, a newspaper comic strip that ran in the New York Evening Post in 1921.  I have not been able to find any information on this strip, including how long it last or in how many newspapers it appeared. It was written and drawn by Al Zere (born Alfred Ablitzer, 1889-1968), who began selling his drawings in 1904.  The few references I found for Zere mention his strips So This Is Married Life (1924-26), The Wows (1930-33), Flossie (1935-37), and Rookie Joe (1941), as well as taking the reins on Earl Hurd's Susie Sunshine for a year in 1930.

Zell's Klan is a friendly, helpful group looking out for the little man.  Terror is just not their thing.  One has to remember that many ordinary citizens favored some of the goals, if not the actions, of the Klan.  Supreme Court justice Hugo Black had been a long-time Klan member, laving the organization only after he had been elected to the Senate.  D. W. Griffth immortalized a romantic version of these night riders.  Black Mask magazine had a special "Klan" issue, printing stories both in favor of anf against the Klan.  Respected fantasy author and regional historian Many Wade Wellman had great respect for the original Klan and its purpose; and Wellman's personal hero, Wade Hampton, was supported by Red Shirts (an offspring of the Klan) and may well have been a member of that group. And, as indicated above, many supported the Klan as a fraternal organization without (amazingly) being aware of  its atrocities.  I assume it is the latter people the strip was aimed at.

All I have been able to find of Our Own Ku Klux Klan are three strips reprinted by Comic Book Plus, linked here for your perusal:

Friday, April 26, 2019


I'm a full day late with this but Mark will forgive me because is the kindest person I have ever met.

Nineteen years and one day ago my oldest grandchild came into the world.  It was a difficult birth and we almost lost both mother and child.  Mark's face was scarred and some muscles were injured by the forceps the doctor had to use.  He was born -- if I remember correctly -- with seven holes in his heart; but they slowly closed over his first few months.  The scar on his face has faded so that only his mother could find it now.  The weakened facial muscles meant that he was slow to talk -- only after intense therapy would he utter his first word:  "bubbles!"

Yet from the very beginning he was very bright and organized.  By the time he was two, he was boarding a school bus (with his bottle and diapers) for an early intervention program the city provided.  He became part of a triumverate with Joey, a crippled boy in braces and who had to undergo a series of operations, and Melissa, a Down syndrome girl; Mark served both as best friend and protector.  By the time Mark entered kindergarten, all developmental issues were gone -- thanks to the hard work of his teachers, social workers, medical staff, and his family.  He made friends easily
and was well-regarded by both peers and teachers.

Mark has always been a quiet person and very bright.  Even prior to kindergarten he was an "expert" on dinosaurs, able to recognize each type from its picture.  His goal was to be a Power Ranger.  In elementary school, he would draw up plans for his family to survive the zombie apocalypse.  He became enthralled with soccer and would draw up complicated soccer plays to pass the time.  From the beginning he loved animals (in his household  that was a given) and had a succession of lizards, snakes, and turtles to mingle with various dogs, cats, and goats in the household -- well the goats were not in the house, they had their own outside pen.

He can be very shy but is foremost a loyal friend.  Despite his shyness people look up to him and for good reason:  he was a strong moral fiber backed by a sense of decency and a foundation of kindness.  He has a quiet, wry sense of humor that can surprise people with its dead-on accuracy.

While in junior high school he took an interest in running.  Several years ago we took him to participate in a 5K; he came in third, first in his age group, and well ahead of the fourth-place runner.  At sixteen, he entered the Pensacola Marathon and placed first in his age group.  This year he ran the race again but was unable to practice due to both inclement weather and to his school activities -- Mark still ran with the top ten percent in that race.  He has grit.

Mark is also extremely handsome -- something he will not admit and perhaps embarrasses him.  He is a private person and does not like to call attention to himself.  Those he does let into his circle should be very proud.  Do not get the idea that he is stuck up; Mark is a kind, generous, and giving young man, always willing to help.  He seeks out the best in people and finds it. 

He's smart and methodical.  Recently he has been able to integrate his rational side with his spiritual side, which perhaps surprised some but not most who know him.  He has always marched to his own beat and those who find themselves marching with him along the way are the lucky ones.

He is now nineteen and finishing his first year of college.  Whatever the future hold for him, he will meet it with grace, gratitude, kindness, and a certain assuredness.

He is a swell kid and we are so proud of him.  We could not love him more.


After reading Wells' Star-Begotten I had to revisit this Kinks classic.


Star-Begotten by H. G. Wells  (1937)

Wells (1866-1946) is perhaps best remembered today as one of the earliest science fiction authors, with such seminal works as The Time Machine, War of the Words, The Invisible Man, The First Men in the Moon, Food of the Gods, and The Island of Doctor Moreau establishing or solidifying themes for many later works in the genre.  A social critic and futurist, Wells infused much of his writing with Utopian and socialist ideals wile maintaining a sense of reality in even his most imaginative works.  Wells' popularity declined as he spent more of his time promoting his social ideas, some of which had lost favor among the general population; as G. K. Chesterton put it, Wells "is a born storyteller who has sold his birthright for a pot of message."

Star-Begotten is one of Wells' lesser-known works and a difficult one to categorize.  It is not a science fiction book, but was one of two novels included in his collection 28 Science Fiction Stories.  For the most part the novel has been shoehorned into a  science fiction label whenever it was printed.

From its very first sentence, we learn the theme and plot of the book:  "This is a story of an idea and how it played about in the minds of a number of intelligent people."

Joseph Davis is a solid middle-class citizen, much in the mode of "A Well Respected Man" from the song by the Kinks.   His philosophies are well-crafted to fit his world view of predictability and class:

"It was being conveyed to him that it really did not matter what foundations of myth and fantasy the existing system of Western civilization was built upon; the fact that mattered was that it was built upon that foundation and that a great ritual of ceremonial and and observance, which might be logically unmeaning, and an elaborate code of morality, which might ultimately prove to be arbitrary, nevertheless constituted the co-ordinating fabric of current social life and that current social life could not now go on without them.  So that all this freethinker and rationalist stuff became irrelevant and indeed contemptibly crude.  Reasonable men didn't assert.  They didn't deny.  They were thinking and living at a different level.  You could no more reconstruct religion, social usage, political tradition, than you could replan the human skeleton -- which was also open to considerable criticism."


 "When he took his side he should, like a sensible man, have stopped thinking."

And therein lies the rub.  Some two-and a- half years ago, Joseph Davis began to realize that his wife was becoming "enigmatical, extremely enigmatical."   His life and his marriage were pleasantly predicable.  Then  thing began to subtly change.  An author, he began to be dissatisfied with his books and his approach to writing.  His wife  began to change, expressing not only ideas of her own but her dissatisfaction with previous interests.

Finally there was that fateful day at his club.  The Planetarium Club had always been a good place for lively (and less than mundane) discussion.  The topic that day veered to cosmic rays and their ability to modify genetic make-up.  One wag remarked that it would be a good way for a civilization from anther planet (say, Mars*) to attack mankind.  Could not that civilization, far advanced than ours, control cosmic rays in such a way as to target men, changing their brains slowly to resemble their own brains? -- in a way, perhaps, to keep the human body, but to replace the brains with their own, alien brains?  Surely such a move would be a way for a dying populace to survive and continue on.  And the scientists present at this discussion felt that, given the original theses, this could be possible.

A fancy argument, indeed, but as Joseph Davis considered this theory it seemed to fit nicely into the changes in his own and his wife's slow and unrelenting changes in attitude.  Davis pesuades himself that this could be happening.  And, as he posits the question to his doctor the medico begins to accept the thesis...

The book presents an unproven theory and uses it as a springboard for a wonderfully comic social novel.  There is no alien race using cosmic rays to modify mankind, and this is not a science fiction novel, but it does use science fiction tropes to good effect.  The snark was a boojum you see.

I found this late-in-his-career novel to be both witty and wise and wonderfully entertaining.

* "Mars, the planet which is being frozen out, exhausted, done for..  Some of you may have read a book called The War of the Worlds -- I forget who wrote it -- Jules Verne, Conan Doyle, one of those fellows..."

Thursday, April 25, 2019


A lot of these are not underappreciated, at least by my generation, but may surely be underappreciated by the young whippersnappers out there.  In 1964 The Beatles controlled the airwaves and the "British Invasion," Motown, girl groups were all big things, Yet there was room for the likes of Dean Martin, Al Hirt, Sammy Davis Jr., and the Ray Charles Singers.

The Number One hit single of 1964 was "I Want To Hold Your Hand"

Number Two:  "She Loves You"

Number Three:  "Hello Dolly"

Number Four:  "Pretty Woman"

Number Five:  "I Get Around"

Number Six:  "Everybody Loves Somebody"

Number Seven:  "My Guy"

Number Eight:  "We'll Sing in the Sunshine'

Number Nine:  "Last Kiss"

Number Ten:  "Where Did Our Love Go"

Number Eleven:  "People"

Number Twelve:  "Java"

Number Thirteen:  "A Hard Day's Night"

Number Fourteen:  "Love Me Do"

Number Fifteen:  "Do Wah Diddy"

Number Sixteen:  "Please Please Me"

Number Seventeen:  "Dancing in the Street"

Number Eighteen:  "Little Children"

Number Nineteen:  "Love Me With All Your Heart"

Number Twenty:  "Under the Boardwalk"

Rounding out the Top One Hundred were songs by The Dixie Cups. The Dave Clark Five, The Four Seasons, The Newbeats, Gene Pitney, Jan and Dean, Jay and the Americans, Peter and Gordon, The Honeycombs, Serendipity Singers, Betty Everett (both solo and with Jerry Butler), Dusty Springfield, Leslie Gore, Dionne Warwick, the Animals, Ronny & The Daytonas, Johnny Rivers, Danny Williams, The Rip Cords, Millie Small, Major Lance, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Chad and Jeremy, Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto, The Shangri-Las, Bobby Freeman, The Impressions, The Four Tops, Diane Renay, The Bachelors, The Markeets, The Hondells, Roger Miller, The Reflections, Rick Nelson, The New Christy Minstrels, Joe Hinton, The Temptations, Al Martino, The Trashmen, The Trams, The Kinks, Sammy Davis Jr., The Impressions, The Jelly Beans, The Kingsmen, The Searchers, Tommy Tucker, The Ventures, Robert Maxwell, Jimmy Hughes, Andy Williams, Jumpin' Gene Simmons, and more songs from The Supremes, The Drifters, Roy Orbison, and The Beatles.


From May 1, 1947, Casey is sent to the circus in search of a story about the "King of the Apes" -- a man whose act includes a number of nasty orangutangs.  While Casey is on the scene, the orangutangs kill their trainer.  Or did they?

Stats Cotsworth stars as George Harmon Coxe's Casey in a story scripted by Alonzo Deen Cole.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019


Jim Croce.


H. F. Heard's classic 1941 Sherlockian mystery novel A Taste for Honey served as the launchpad for this 1955 episode of The Elgin Hour, a short-lived ABC anthology series.

The Elgin Hour only ran for 19 episodes, from October 5, 1954 to June 14, 1955, alternating its Tuesday night slot with U. S. Steel Hour.  "Sting of Death" was the program's eleventh episode, airing on February 22, 1955.  Boris Karloff played Mr. Mycroft, a man who has retired to wjhat should have been the quiet English countryside.  Also featured in this episode are Hermione Gingold, Martyn Green, and Robert Fleming.  Alvin Sapinsley adapted Herd's novel, one of three teleplays he wrote for the series..  Daniel Petrie directed this one, as well as seven other episodes in the series.

(A Taste for Honey was also adapted for the 1966 movie The Deadly Bees, co-scripted by Robert Bloch.  This film got the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment in 1998)

The plot:  Beekeepers in the local area are going out of business.  The one exception is the sinister Mr. Hargrove.  Hargrove's neighbor, Mr. Mycroft, warns visiting honey enthuisiast Mr. Silchester that Hargrove's bees are deadly -- they have been bred to wipe out the neighboring colonies.  Hargrove's wife, as well as Mycroft's dog, have become victims to the killer bees.  When Hargrove uses his bees to try to murder Silchester, the honey enthusiast teams up with Mycroft for a special type of "sting."


Monday, April 22, 2019


Wilson Pickett.


Openers:  White-robed and dusky-faced, the ayah hurried with trembling footsteps along the narrow path that threaded tortuously the tangled underbrush of that arid thicket.  Her feet and ankles were bare to the knee, and the fine gray dust that covered them deep with its clinging powder bore witness eloquently to the distance she had already carried her precious burden -- a pretty, sleeping, two-year-old baby.  It was not her own, but a white man's daughter; and the white man was a great English sahib.  At every rustle of the bushes in the jungle by her side, the woman shrank back with terrible earnestness -- shrank, and pressed the sleeping baby tight to her bosom; for tigers lurked among the tangled brake, and the cobra might at any moment cross her path with his deadly hood erect and hissing.  But still she hurried along, alone and breathless, one solitary Hindu figure, tall and graceful in her snowy robes, with the unconscious white child strained against her breast, and her heart leaping wildly a at every step the bangles clanked together on her brown ankles.  The fierce hot sun poured down upon her head mercilessly from above, and the little green lizards darted away with lithe and sinuous motion at the fall of her naked dusky foot upon the staring grey line of the path behind them.

-- Kalee's Shrine by Grant Allen and May Cotes (1886) [Note that some editions do not credit May Cotes as co-author.  Cotes was a young woman who came up with the story's plot.  She contacted author and folklorist Andrew Lang, who suggested she collaborate with Grant Allen, a popular writer of the time.  The actual contribution Cotes made to the book -- beyond the original idea -- is unknown.]

Chick-fil-A:  This Youtube video showed up yesterday on the wonderful Bits & Pieces blog. *  I had to share:

*  The blog name is oh-so similar to this regular Monday blog post.  Pure coincidence.  I took the title from an old newspaper column I used to write in the early Seventies.   I'm sure you'll find the Bits & Pieces blog, begun in 2002, far more entertaining than my Monday posts.  Besides, I have never been to St. Louis.


Cassie Bernall
Steve Curnow
Corey DePooter
Kelly Fleming
Matt Kechter
Daniel Mauser
Daniel Rohrbough
Rachel Scott
Isaiah Shoels
John Tomlin
Lauren Townsend
Kyle Velasquez

The Teacher:

Coach Dave Sanders

The Shooters:

Eric Harris
Dylan Klebold

Fifteen names.  Fifteen dead people.  Thirteen victims, fifteen if you consider the shooters to also be victims and, perhaps, they should be.  Columbine High School, April 20, 1999.  This list does not count the other victims:  the wounded, family, friends, schoolmates, educators, workmates, responders, and more...people left with physical or mental anguish.  Since that day two decades ago there have been many more senseless tragedies with lasting consequences.  Two former Parkland high school students recently committed suicide, as did the father of one of the young victim at Sandy Hook Elementary.

We can be a better country than this.  

When will we learn?

Four Years and One Day Earlier:  April 19, 1995, the day of the Oklahoma City bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.  168 dead...171, if you count the unborn children as some are likely to do.  168 persons, too many to list by name here, snuffed out in a single act of terror -- the worst this country had seen until September 11, 2001.

Remember these victim also.

On a Happier Note:  Today is the 49th anniversary of the first Earth Day and the third anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement to fight global warming.  Despite the braying and delaying of the current administration, most people are recognizing their duties as stewards of the Earth.  that's a good -- and hopeful -- sign.

Florida Man:  Our favorite internet meme has been a busy beaver lately.  Here are some of the headlines:
  • Florida man commits murder over imaginary girlfriend
  • Florida man gropes technician who was fingerprinting him for disorderly conduct charge
  • Florida man pretended to be an officer, then tried to pull over an undercover cop
  • Florida man foils police speed trap by putting up a handmade sign warning drivers*
  • Florida man arrested for wrestling a fake alligator at a shopping mall
  • Naked Florida man wanted for burglarizing concession stand
  • Police:  Florida man thought he was stealing drugs, not laxatives
  • Florida man misspells school on crosswalk**
  • Huge alligator captured by 80-year old Florida Man:  "That thing tugged me all over"
  • Florida woman (Florida great-grandma) fends off 300-pound burglar with baseball bat
  • Florida man charged over threats to Democrats that mentioned Ilhan Omar
  • Florida man charged in racist threats to against Cory Booker and Rashida Talib
  • Florida man busted for singing dirty song to neighbor
  • Florida man accused of trying to set American flag on fire at Miami Beach church
  • Florida man fights the police with a cucumber up his ass***
* The cops thanked him
*** Say what?

Today's Poem:
Sea Turtle

There's a wide green map 
on Sea Turtle's back.
Currents?  She knows
their flows, never slows,
needn't stop for directions
wherever she goes,
flapping her elegant
paddle-shaped toes.

Saturday, April 20, 2019


Since today is Hugh O'Brien's birthday...

(When I was a kid, we would sing, "Quiet burp.  Quiet burp.  Grave, outrageous and old..."  I suspect some of you did the same.)

CURLY KAYOE #2 (1946)

Once upon a time there was a comic strip named Joe's Garage, created by Vic Forsythe and there was no Curly Kayoe.

Once upon a later time Joe's Garage changed its name to Joe Jinks and there was no Curly Kayoe.

Once upon a time in the late 1920s Joe Jinks became a fight promoter and there still was no Curly Kayoe.

Then, in September 1944, Joe Jinks hooked up with Curly Kayoe, a fresh-faced powerhouse boxer and the rest is history.  Vic Forsythe had left the strip which was then taken over by the Brothers Neff.   Sam Neff did the writing while his brother Mo did the artwork. 

Sam signed the strips while Mo remained anonymous, mainly because Mo was penciling Joe Palooka for Ham Fischer at the time and Curly Kayoe looked suspiciously like Joe Palooka.

By 1945 Curly had become so popular that the strip's name was changed to Curly Kayoe.  By 1947 Joe headed west and ws dropped completely from the comic book roster.

Things went well for curly for quite a while, then history repeated itself as a secondary character became more popular than the title character and the strip was renamed Davy Jones in 1961 and the strip continued until 1971, but without Curly.

From 1946 to 1950, United Feature Syndicate produced eight issues of a Curly Kayoe comic book.  Later, in 1958, Dell would produce a single issue of the title.  Curly fared much better in Australia where 56 issues of a Curly Kayoe  comic book were issued through 1955 by New Century Press Pty. Ltd.

Recapping the first issue, we learn "Curly Kayoe, son of boxing immortal, the late 'Killer' Kayoe, has won his first fight.  On his way home, Curly met 'Times Square" Tessie and offered her a home.  Curly's manager, Joe Jinks, has lined up his next bout..."  And so we segue to issue #2.

The fight is scheduled for Madison Square Garden against Phil Zablo, a good fighter with a powerful right.  Curly and Zablo are scheduled to go on right after the main bout, after most of the crowd has gone home.  The sports reporters, who were scheduled to leave at the same time to write up the main bout, lingered when they saw the impressive Kayoe-Zablo fight had begun; the also suddenly realized that the powerful blond kid was the son of the famous "Killer" Kayoe.  The battle lasted only three rounds with Curly getting a knockout. 

The next morning, the newspapers were proclaiming a new boxing star on the horizon.  (In one panel, we see clips of three different news reports, one of which was by-lined Oscar Fraley, the real-life sportswriter who made Eliot Ness famous with his book The Untouchables.) 

Curly and Zablo were scheduled for a rematch at a benefit event, but Zablo's doctor convinced him to retire from the game for his health.  With the benefit match about to be cancelled, contender Charlie Tann offered to take Zablo's place.  Charlie is a nasty piece of work who insults Time Square Tessie, which angers Curly.  By the time they meet up in the ring, Curly is so mad he begins to make mistakes.  Is Curly's boxing career over?  (I think not.  After all, he does go on in the strips and the comic books for quite a while.  But you'll have to read this issue to see if I'm right.)


Friday, April 19, 2019


Dar Williams.


The Vanguard of Venus by Landell Bartlett (1928)

Landell Bartlett (1897-1972) was a Colorado-born accountant, editor, columnist, local historian, and  poet.  He published three science fiction stories and was said to have been a friend of Robert A. Heinlein.  He was a member of the Colorado science fiction fan community up to at least the 1950s.

The Vanguard of Venus was issued as a free promotional item from Amazing Stories, given to anyone who wrote in and requested a copy.  One did not have to be a subscriber to the magazine.  Eidtor/publisher Hugo Gernsback's aim seems to have been to compile a list of where the magazine readers were from, something that helped him later on when he published Air Wonder Stories and Science Wonder Stories.

Bartlett's story never appeared in print in Amazing Stories and the original pamphlet has become a prized collector's item.  The tale was reprinted the fan magazine The Gorgon (2 parts, July and September 1947), put out by fellow Colorado Springs native Stanley Mullen.  It was later added as a fill-in story to meet page requirements at the end of Ancient Sorceries, a reprint by Ken Krueger's Fantasy House (as Fantasy Classic #4) of the Algernon Blackwood's classic John Silence story.  The original pamphlet has recently become available on Internet Archive, which is where I read it.

Barlett's only other SF tales were also printed in The Gorgon:  "Operation Venus" (a sequel to The Vanguard of Venus) in the March-April 1948 issue and "Coma Berenices" in the final, twelfth issue (Vol. 2 #4, 1948).

What about the story?  Well, it's published by Gernsback so it's a decidedly clunky tale, but not as clunky as it could be.  It's only 24 pages long and I am calling it a book as a courtesy because it was first released as a single publication.

Stanley Murdock is a geologist working in the southwest United States.  He quit his well-paying job in 1923 and moved to India to write this document, placing copies in banks in Bombay and Madrid, with instruction that they be mailed to him, if still alive, on June 21, 1931.  If he had died before that date, his executors were given permission to retrieve the documents.  Murdock was killed in a train wreck in India in February 1927.  His executor, believing the document to be a work of fiction, sent it to his cousin, a publisher, to do with what he wished.  The story, therefore, has been published as a work of fiction.

In January 1923, Murdock and his assistant were exploring desolate parts of New Mexico for Murdock's employers.  Camping out one night, Murdock is awakened at one in the morning by something, a sound, perhaps, or a premonition.  Their horses are acting nervously and, as Murdock goes to calm them, he notices a large rock that had not been there when he went to sleep earlier.  Suddenly the rock opens up, large hands grab him from behind, and he is knocked unconscious by something sweet, like chloroform.

He wakes up in a large chamber in complete darkness.  Although he is free to move around, there appears to be no escape.  Then he hears someone coming toward him.  An unseen being who claims to be a Venusian named Oomlag-Tharnar-Illnag.  It seems Venusians had come to Earth a century before and have been living in New Mexican caves ever since.  They are preparing a conquest of Earth as well as the eventual eradication of humans.  (Once that's done, they will move on to Mars and obliterate life there.  Not because they have any use for the Red Planet like they have for Earth, but just because they can.)

The Venusians are technologically superior and cannot be stopped, according to Oomlag.  They do, however, need Murdock for some unexplained reason, so he will be held underground for several years.  While showing Murdock his new digs, Oomlag can't help boasting about Venusian science, showing Murdock many of the wonders they used to reach Earth, as well as the weapons they will use to destroy Earth's cities.  This gives Oomlag a chance to spout the scientific mumbo-jumbo that allowed Gernsback to claim the stories he published were based on real science.  The Venusians came to this planet by ships powered by radio waves.  they selected a landing spot by use of an atomic telescope.  They communicate with a portable wireless apparatus the uses "Venusite," an indispensable element with not yet discovered by humans.  Venusite guns will also be used to send power waves to destroy the planet's cities on August 21, 1931.  (Why that specific date, who knows?) And so on and so on.

Then the author ran out of steam.  The Venusians decided they did not need Murdock after all, (and remember that we have no idea why they needed him in the first place.), so they are going to release him because it's much easier to that than to kill him.  Besides, no one will believe Murdock's story anyway.

Rather than immediately trying to warn earth, Murdock decides he cannot take eight years worth of humiliation and disbelief until the August 1931 deadline of doom.  He writes this document, ensuring its release two months before the invasion so that he will endure only two months of humiliation and disbelief before we are conquered and destroyed.  He knows eight years worth of lead time will not work, but in the two months before Venusians strike he will be able to warn the world properly.  wht the hell?

Anyway, that's the story and I am sorry for all the spoilers.

But I did say, the story was not as clunky as it seems.  Bartlett's description of the New Mexico desert are pretty good.  So there!

As for the rest of the story, here's his description of the Field General, the Venusian in charge of this century-old invasion plan.  He "was a terrible thing to look upon.  A tall figure, well over seven feet, with unbelievably long, skinny arms and legs, a torso like a pouter-pigeon, and above it, set on a short, thick neck, a head shaped like an ostrich egg.  The head was entirely bald, covered with skin like parchment and of a most revolting ochre yellow color.  The ears tapered almost to a point; the eyes, small and set close together, burned like those of a cat in the dark, the nose was very wide and flat, almost pig-like; and the mouth, thick-lipped and exceedingly wide, was doubly hideous due to the total absence of chin.  In conversation he later revealed his teeth, the front four evidently filed to a point and the rest flat; all of a dark gray color.  He was clothed in some sort of tight-fitting dull green garment which, together with a brick-red jacket or vest over his huge, round chest, gave him the appearance of a grotesque turnip."

One particular sentence had me scratching my head.  On entering the dining hall of the Venusian lair, we find  "a chamber about a hundred feet square and about fifteen feet high, containing a dozen large, round tables of smooth rock, with smaller stools, also of rock, serving as chairs."  Now I know that in 2019 a hundred square feet corresponds to a ten-foot by ten-foot area, or even a five-foot by twenty-foot area.  Geometry may have been different in 1923, but I really, truly, deeply doubt it.  I can only Murdock was a pretty stupid geologist or that the author's knowledge of math was severely limited only to accounting.

This story is just a curiosity and can only be recommended for the curious.

Thursday, April 18, 2019


She defies the stereotype about blondes.  She's whip-smart.

She's also cute, sweet, witty. kind and empathetic.  She loves animals and she loves the water.  It goes without saying that she has a thing for whales.  She owns a couple of pythons and a couple of cats and dearly loves the two old, blind, deaf, senile pugs who make the household such a joy.  She's striking out on her own this fall and heading back to Massachusetts.  The Commonwealth's gain is our loss.  We will miss her.

When you spend some time with Amy, you end up thinking she's all-knowing. She just gives off that vibe.   Don't get me wrong; she's not pushy or arrogant or egotistical.  She has a quiet self-assuredness.  You know that she is taking in everything in her quiet way and that sooner or later -- almost out of nowhere -- she'll come out with the wittiest, on-target remark that leaves you gobsmacked.

On Sundays, when our entire family takes time out to enjoy a beach on the Gulf of Mexico, she's with us and her quiet presence seems to merge with the incoming waves to amplify our appreciation of the beauty surrounding us.  It's an experience that is hard to explain but it's just one of the reason that our little Amy-Daisy Blondie-Bear is so very special to us.

For her birthday this weekend we're going to an Escape Room.  Because I am an old poop I have no real idea what that is but I am sure that Amy will rock it -- just as she rocks us.

Happy birthday, Amy.  We love you.


Rest in peace, Joe Terry.


From May 30, 1939.

Once again the Lone Ranger's grandnephew takes takes to the streets for truth and justice with his faithful Japanese servant Kato.  (Poor Kato!  the producers were about to saddle him with an identity crisis by eliminating his Japanese nationality.  By 1940 Kato became just a "faithful servant," and soon after he became a Filipino.  Shades of 'victory cabbage" and "freedom fries"!)

Our masked crimebuster was played by Al Hodge.


Tuesday, April 16, 2019


One person wrote yesterday, "A sad moment to listen to this.  We will never near this sound again.  But it is comforting to know that we have it saved."

Here's Olivier Latry, one of four titulaires des grands orgues of Notre Dame Paris.


It's a sad time in France and around the world today.  The Notre Dame Cathedral was a treasure for the entire planet, not just the French, not just Catholics.  This architectural masterpiece was a symbol of beauty and of man's achievement.  The treasures it held within it were priceless.

It was not always considered so.  Once, modernists wanted to raze the cathedral; it was old and smelly.  In response Victor Hugo wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame a work the not only told a great romantic story but also pointed out the beauty and the history of the building.  Following the publication of the book resistance to Notre Dame Cathedral vanished and it began once again to be accepted as the treasure it was.

The story has been filmed many times.  Here's the 1923 version with Lon Chaney, Sr.


Monday, April 15, 2019


From 1955, here's Somethin' Smith & The Redheads.


Openers:  Margie even wrote about it that night in her diary.  On the page headed May 17, 2155, she wrote. "Today Tommy found a real book!"

--"The Fun They Had" by Isaac Asimov (first published in "Boys and Girls page", "NEA service", December 1951; reprinted a zillion and a half times)


  • Mike Ashley, editor, New Sherlock Holmes Adventures.  Mystery anthology with 26 Sherlockian tales, originally published as The Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures.  Authors include H. R. F. Keating, Edward D. Hoch, Basil Copper, Martin Edwards, David Stuart Davies, and Peter Tremayne -- a great roster.  I'll be looking forward to these tales.
  • Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September/October 2006.  A freebie.  Stories by Margaret Maron, Nancy Pickard, Brendan DuBois, Doug Allyn, Gary Alexander, Margaret Lawrence, and (naturally) Edward D. Hoch, among others.  Another great line-up.  Added bonus, the cover is a reprint og a great 1946 cover by George Salter.
  • Martin H. Greenberg & (uncredited) Ed Gorman, editors, White House Horrors.  Themed horror anthology with 16 stories.  Some stories are about historic presidents (Jefferson, Lincoln, W. H. Harrison, Truman, FDR, JFK), others feature fictional presidents.  Authors include Bill Crider (yea!), Barbara and Max Allan Collins, Robert Randisi, Billie Sue Mosiman, Terry Beatty & Wendi Lee, Richard Chizmar, Tom Piccarelli.  Many of Greenberg's anthologies are a mixed bag but I suspect this is one of the very good ones. 
  • James Herbert, James Herbert's Dark Places:  Locations and Legends.  Non-fiction.  Herbert was one of the premiere British horror novelists in recent times.  In this book he takes us on a tour of locations in Britain that have inspired some of his writing -- either directly or indirectly.  Excerpts from some of his novels are included to illustrate the influences these places have had on his writing.  Heavily illustrated with photographs by Paul Barkshire.
  • ----------, Nobody True.  Horror novel.  Our narrator is dead, horribly murdered...mutilated... chopped into pieces by a serial killer.  He wasn't there when he died; he was having an out-of-body dream.  His spirit (soul?) remains alive although he isn't.  Can he somehow find his own killer and prevent future slayings?

Florida Man is Alive and (Un)Well:
  • Florida Man Thomas Lane, 61, of Indialantic, was arrested for (among other things) threatening to unleash an army of turtles to attack the public.  Lane said that he was "the Saint."  He probably wasn't referring to Simon Templar.
  • Ben Padgett, 32, approached an Olive Garden in Collier County, repeatedly saying, "I could beat your ass."  An employee asked him to stop and was threatened.   Padgett then  followed the employee inside, asking him what kind of genitals he had.  By the time police arrived, Padgett was sitting on a bench, shirtless, and shoving spaghetti into his mouth.  Alcohol may have been involved.
  • Andrew Lippi, 49, just bought a private island for $8 million.  To celebrate, he stole $300 worth of merchandise from a Key West K-Mart.  According to one radio announcer, this is an unbelievable story:  "There are still K-Marts?"
  • Marvin Hajos, 75, of Gainesville, had an undignified death.  He was killed by a bird he owned, a cassowary.  A cassowary can grow up to five feet and weigh up to 200 pounds.  With dagger-like claws that could be up to four inches long, "the cassowary is rightly considered the most dangerous bird in the world," according to the San Diego Zoo.  Hajos kept the bird for breeding purposes.  Hmm.
  • So many stories, so little time...

Today's the Day:  It's Income Tax Day!  I hope everyone has filed.  Today is also Holy Monday, Emancipation Day, Jackie Robinson Day, Boston Marathon Day, National Glazed Spiral Ham Day, National Rubber Eraser Day, National Griper's Day (see Income Tax Day, above), MacDonald's Day (Ray Kroc opened the first one on 4/15/55), Microvolunteering Day, National That Sucks Day (see Income Tax Day and National Griper's Day, above), World art Day (a.k.a. Art History Day), Titanic Remembrance Day, Patriots' Day, Take a Wild Guess Day, National Poet Day (in Peru), Father Damien Day (in Hawaii), Day of the Sun (in North Korea, celebrating the birth of Kim Il-Sun; it's the country's most important holiday, kinda like Christmas --  without the joy), and the Universal Day of Culture.  Plus, according to the Urban Dictionary, it's National Grab Anything Day, in which anything is defined as any body part, but more specifically it's Grab a Vagina Day -- surprisingly our president has not tweeted his support for this day.  Yet.  It's still early, folks.

If that's not enough, for GoT fans it's Maisie (Arya Stark) Williams' birthday and for Potterheads its Emma (Hermione Granger) Watson's birthday.  Also for Potterheads, it's Emma (Sybill Trelawney) Thompson's birthday.  For James Bond fans it's Lois (holly Goodhead) Chiles' birthday.  For blues fans it's Bessie Smith's birthday.  For classic literature fans it's Henry James' birthday.  For art enthusiasts it's Thomas Hart Benton's birthday, as well as Leonardo de Vinci's birthday.  And if you happen to be into the Ottoman Empire, it's the birthday of Suleiman II.

There's a lot to celebrate today.

But wait, there's more. The entire month of April is National Poetry Month, Black Women's History Month, Child Abuse Prevention Month, Global Child Nutrition Month, and National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.  It's also Adopt a Ferret Month, Amateur Radio Month, Confederate History Month, Fresh Florida Tomatoes Month, Frog Month, International Twit Award Month, National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month, National Kite Month, National Licorice Month, National Pecan Month, National Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Month (I can't tell is this one is for or against), Prevent Lyme in Dogs Month, Soy Foods Month, and Straw Hat Month.

As I said above, a lot to celebrate.

Today's Poem:
Good Bones

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I've shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
I'll keep from my children.  The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that's a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake.  Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children, I'm trying
to sell them the world.  Any decent realtor
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones:  This place could be beautiful,
right?  You could make this place beautiful.

-- Maggie Smith

Saturday, April 13, 2019


The Holy Modal Rounders.


This isn't your mother's (or your father's, or your grandparents, or your weird Uncle Walter's) MAD Magazine.

Nope, it's one of the many rip-offs, this time from Charlton Comics.  The humor is strained; the artwork, sometimes good, sometimes iffy.  The women in this comic tend to be large-bosomed and sexy.  So things weren't so bad for boys who shelled out a dime for this issue in 1954.

First off, there's "Liberitchy!" -- a parody on a certain smiling blond popular piano player.  The story tells how he caused New Yak City to be destroyed by his music.  Cute at times, but strained, really strained.

Then we move on to "I Love Loosely," featuring a Latin-American musician and his red-headed wife, re-imagined as hillbillies.  Loosely wants to sing in hubby Hickey Recordo's band,  but Hickey says no.  But she's determined and dresses in a revealing two-piece bathing suit, urging the band members to kill each other until someone gives her a chance.  Not very funny, but there's some interesting wordplay in this cross between L'il Abner and Fearless Fosdick.

Next up is "The Steve Alley Show," featuring a hip guy who looks a lot like Steve Allen.  Steve's television show is being haunted by the ghost of Father Knickerknocker.  Father K. has a ghostly bottle and glass balanced on his tri-corner hat.  (Does anyone else remember Knickerbocker Beer?  I do, fondly.) 

Finally, we have "Beat the Cluck," a game-show parody featuring Spud Collarad.  Any resemblance to Bud Collyer is certainly not coincidental.  Contestants are falling left and right, many of them falling for Spud's voluptuous assistant.  Predictable and ho-hum.

As the piece de resistance, there's a two-page parody of Mike Hammer in the form of "Mack Bulldozer -- defective" by one "Tricky Explain."  This is a preview of I, the Fury!; or, Vengeance Is My Quick Gun on a Lonely Night.  Not many comic books of this era would include a bit on sex-change operations, so it felt a little bit strange reading this one.

There's a good reason why Eh! could not stand up to MAD, or even Sick or Crazy.  Parody is an art form, something that seems to be missing here.

There are a few smiles and a few outrageous ideas here.  see if you can find them.

Friday, April 12, 2019


Consider this an adjunct to my Forgotten Book today.

Here's Lenny Welch.


Kiss for a Killer by "G. G. Fickling" (Forrest and Gloria Fickling) (1960)

Oh, Honey.  The blonde bombshell of my childhood.  A cross between Marilyn Monroe and Mike Hammer.  The not-so-tough tough PI with a problem of keeping her clothes on.  The babe who deliciously packed a pair of 38s (and I'm not talking about guns -- she measures 38-22-36).

The Honey West books made a lot of money for Pyramid Books back in the day.

I suppose I should make a confession here.  I only read one Honey West book when I was in high school, and I've completely forgotten which one.  I'll try to explain why.

The Ficklings -- sportswriter Forrest and fashion writer Gloria -- were friends with Richard S. Prather, the creator of Shell Scott.  Shell Scott was one of my favorite fictional characters while I was in high school (and after).  Honey West was marketed as a female Shell Scott, so I thought I'd give her a try.  (That sentence doesn't read like I thought it would.  Sorry.)  The Shell Scott books were fast-moving, action-packed adventures heavily laced with implied sex and humor.  Honey West  had fast-moving, action-packed adventures, but the implied sex was boring and the humor was somewhat hard to find, and when you did it was forced and decidedly unfunny.  So, thanks anyway, Honey.  I'm going back to Shell Scott.

Shell Scott's adventures could be zany.  Honey West's were incomprehensible.

Nonetheless, the Honey West series lasted for eleven books from 1957 to 1971 and one short story.  Her popularity zoomed a bit with the appearance of a Honey West television series from producer Aaron Spelling (30 episodes, 1965-6), starring Anne Francis.  The series also spawned a one-shot comic book, a board game, a Honey West doll (with accessories), and a music soundtrack.  Over the past decade, Moonstone comics revived Honey with a series of comics books and comic book crossovers with such chacters as T.H.E. Cat and Kolchak, the Nightstalker, as well as an anthology of original Honey stories.  In 2009, John Frederickson attempted to de-bimbo Honey in his book Honey West; the books appears to have approached the television honey rather than the book Honey.

The TV Honey was vastly different from the Honey created by the Ficklings.  For one thing, the television Honey kept her clothes on.  For another, the television Honey had a pet ocelot named Bruce.  (WTF??!!??)   And since this was the mid-Sixties and James Bond and john Steed and Napoleon Solo were  a thing (dang!  another sentence that doesn't read like I though it would), Honey became a detective/intelligence agent tooling around in a high-tech crime van with her partner, Sam Bolt (whose was Johnny Doom in the books, a character introduced later in the series and who appeared only in a few books)

Let's go back to Kiss for a Killer.  This was the sixth book in the series.  Honey is running H. West Investigations, which she took over when her father Hank was murdered some five years before.  Hank's killer was never caught -- something that seems to bother Honey once in a while.  Honey is somewhere in her late twenties and has three close male friends:  Charlie April, a 300-pound bookie who runs her answering service, Mark Storm, a police lieutenant and occasionally more than a friend (if you get what I mean -- nudge, nudge, wink, wink), and Fred Sims, one-legged newspaper reporter and combat hero, complete with a Congressional Medal of Honor.

We open with Mark calling Honey to report that football player Rip Spensor has been found dead, run over by a steam roller.  Rip and Honey had had a fling a while ago and remained friends.  Honey hops into her care to go to the scene but someone has sprinkled the inside of her car with trap door spiders.  Honey is bitten and passes out.  If you think this is ludicrous, look what happens next.

Honey is forced off the road by a naked driver.  The man, tall and really buffed, hops into Honey's car and says he wants to hire her.  He is Adam Jason, a Sun Soul, a follower and Director of Thor Tunny's "health" cult in the San Bernardino Hills.  (Rip, it turns out, had briefly been a member of the cult. ) Adam then "blesses" Honey with a full kiss on the lips.   Honey leaves Adam in her office where he puts on some clothes -- one of Honey's blouses and a partially zipped skirt.   This is a no-no, even in the swinging Sixties.  Honey digs around and finds some of her father's old clothes and tosses them to him.  (Yes, she's been keeping a dead man's clothes in her office for half a decade.)   Leaving Adam there she heads home where a naked Italian movie star pulls a gun on her.  This is Angela Scali, who had disappeared several months ago on the same night she had won an Oscar.  Evidently she had been at Tunney's clothes-not-optional cult the whole time.  How she managed to get from there to downtown Los Angeles stark naked is not explained.  She wants to kill Honey for killing Rip.  Then somehow a mental switch in her brain is pulled and Angela has no idea where she is or what she is doing there or why she is naked.  The last thing she remembers is receiving her Oscar.  Suddenly the lights in Honey's apartment goes out.  Someone crashes through her door.  And Angela uses her gun to clock Honey unconscious.

Things begin to get confusing.  We meet Thor Tunny, who is using his money-making cult for sex and torture games.  (And why does his smarmy, superior personality remind me of Donald Trump?)  We meet Toy Tunny, Thor's twisted daughter who is into S&M.  And Rip's cousin Ray Spensor, who has a college boy grin and a penchant for deceit. To this mix let's add Angela's agent, Sol Wetzel, another kinky person, but with the added attraction of a gambling addiction.

With a few exceptions, every male in the novel is lusting after Honey.  And, to be honest, I've lost count of how many times Honey is nude, stripped naked (or partially so), or is forced to take off her clothes.  The authors, although happy to include a whole bunch of these scenes, gloss over them in a boring fashion, which begs the question WHY?  (Yeah, I know why, but these scenes are so tame they wouldn't even get a teenage boy's juices flowing.)

Anyway, Angela is found dead, stabbed over twenty times and then hung from a tree.  And Sol Wetzel is killed, stabbed in what could be called a "locked" room.  And sicko Thor Tunny manages to hypnotize Honey into taking off her clothes and threatens her with a torture chamber before she manages to escape.  Then Toy Tunney manages to tie Honey (naked, of course) to a chair and leaves her to die of cold and/or starvation in a mountain cabin.  Honey's friend Fred tries to kill her with his cane.  Honey's car goes over a cliff and hangs precariously above the rocks by a broken guard rail.  Honey stumbles onto a drug-crazed party where she is almost raped and tortured.  Fred tries to throw Honey off a roller coaster.  Yadda.  Yadda.  Yadda.

Throughout the book, Mark and Honey exchange banter where Mark continues to refer to Honey with a "Four Poster" nickname and hints that she will sleep with anyone.  Fun times.  And a real nice guy, that Mark.

With all the above, why the hell should you read the book?

Damned if I know.

I do now that I will probably read more of Honey's incoherent adventures because I'm that kind of guy.

And I have no taste.

Thursday, April 11, 2019


This 1998 song by the Manic Street Preachers was inspired by sisters June and Jennifer Gibson, known as "The Silent Twins" because they only communicated to each other.

The sisters were Yemeni-born twins who were raised in Wales.  As children, more significantly as the only Black children in their school, they were often bullies.  They spoke a particular form of Creole which made them hard to understand.  Soon their language became more incomprehensible, making it impossible for others to understand and became an example of cryptophasia with each girl mirroring the other.  In the end they spoke only to each other and to their younger sister, Rose.

Both girls turned to writing fiction, writing novels that were self-published.  They were unable to find any professional markets for their work.  They then turned to various sorts of crime, including arson.  They were committed to the high security Broadmoor Hospital.  As juveniles, they were supposed to be there only two years but remained incarcerated for 14 years, heavily medicated on antipsychotic drugs.

The sisters had an agreement that should on of them die the other would begin speaking.   Later, they felt it was necessary that one of them die and Jennifer said it should be her.  In 1993, they were transferred to more open clinic.  When they got there, Jennifer could not be wakened and soon died of a myocarditis.  No drugs or poisons were found in her systen and it appears she may have just willed herself to death.

In honor of the twins' birth 56 years ago, here's the Manic Street Preachers.


The NBC Radio news from April 11, 1939, with Bob Hope and Betty Grable.

Thanks for the memories...

Wednesday, April 10, 2019


The Dave Clark Five.


A man and a giraffe walk into a bar.  The man orders drinks for both of them.  They toss the drinks down down and the giraffe suddenly coughs, falls off his bar stool and dies.

With a sad sigh, the man gets up to leave.

The bartender stops him, "Hey, you can't leave with that lyin' here!"

The man replies, "It's not a lion. It's a giraffe."

Tuesday, April 9, 2019


Happy birthday, Tom Leher!


Based on Tennyson's poem, Enoch Arden is the story of a man (Wilfred Lucas) who woos and weds Annie Lee (Linda Arvidson), winning her from his bitter rival Philip Ray (Francis J. Grandon).  But fortunes turn.  Arden, married and now with three children, is in financial difficulty.  He sets sail to China in hopes of reversing his fortune.  Annie, bereft that Enoch is leaving, gives him a locket with a curl from their baby's hair.  As Annie says goodbye to Enoch on the beach, Philip watches.  Could this be his chance?

Years pass, as Annie waits by the shore, hoping for Enoch's return, but his ship was destroyed in a tropical storm.  Enoch and two others survive, washed up on a desert island.  Meanwhile Philip presses his suit for Annie who, still waiting in vain for Enoch, rebuffs him.  years pass.  The children grow.  Enoch, now graying with a long beard and wearing tatters, has outlived his two companions but is still wearing the locket that Annie gave him.  Annie -- with all hope gone -- finally relents and marries Philip.  But wait.  What ho!  A ship finally comes and rescues Enoch.  He finally makes it home to find Annie married to his rival and with a new baby.  Determined not to mar Annie's new-found happiness, Enoch wanders off.  Enoch dies.  Bummer.

Directed by D. W. Griffith, this 33-minute two-reeler was filmed by Billie Bitzer.

And, for the curious, here's Tennyson's poem:

Monday, April 8, 2019


Hank Williams.


Openers:  Turk Ordway took the stubby derringer from the box in which he had carefully preserved it in oiled rags against this day of need.  He removed his black coat and brocaded vest and twisted his suspenders within reach.  He was very chary of spoiling his shirt.

-- "Code of the Dishonored" by William R. Cox (10 Story Western Magazine, May 1947)


  • "Jonathan Aycliffe" (Denis MacEoin, who also writes as "Daniel Easterman") - The Matrix.  Horror novel.  From the back cover:  "After the death of his beloved wife, Andrew Macleod finds solace in his research.  His interests in the ancient practices of magic is purely academic until the soothingly hypnotic rituals and mysterious ceremonies begin to lure him into a consuming quest for knowledge.  When his passion escalates into an obsession for power and mastery, he unwittingly becomes the apprentice of Duncan Milne, who has a strange hold over Andrew."  
  • H. Bedford-Jones, The Graduate Fictioneer.  Non-fiction.  Bedford-Jones, the "King of Pulp fiction Writers," had previously written a pamphlet for inspiring writers, The Fiction Business (1922).  Here, he follows up with advice for the newly-published author who wants to continue his or her career in this digest-sized 1932 paperback from The Author & Journalist Publishing Company.  Introduction by Erle Stanley Gardner, who began selling stories only after reading Bedford-Jones' 1922 pamphlet.

Internet Archive's Pulp Explosion:  Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library of books, music, film, and websites, has been one of my main go-to places for fun, entertainment, and knowledge.  One of their many section is their "Pulp Magazines Archive," which is just what the label suggests.  Currently it has over 12,500 books and magazines available.   Recently, there has been an upsurge (tsunami, perhaps?) in items available there.  Added to the library just since March 1 are issues of:
  • Modern Mechanix from 1936-7 
  • Realms of Fantasy, 34 issues and counting
  • Tit-Bits, a British tabloid, 1 issue from 1951
  • Tit-Bits Christmas Extra, 1934
  • Tit-Bits Crime Library, containing a full novel, 1 issue
  • Tit-Bits Science Fiction Library, each containing a full novel, 6 issues
  • Thrilling Western Magazine, edited by R. A. W. Lowndes,  2 issues
  • World-Wide Adventure, another title edited by Lowndes, 5 issues
  • Adventure, the classic pulp, 13 issues from 1921 -1963
  • Weird Tales, 44 issues, including the first issue from 1923
  • Macabre Cadaver, a small-press horror magazine,  10 issues from 2008-11
  • Simulacrum, SF/fantasy magazine, 14 issues from 2003-2006
  • Detective Fiction Weekly, 7 issues, 1928-51
  • Mark Twain Quarterly, a 1943 Stephen Vincent Benet tribute issue
  • Triple Detective, Fall 1948
  • Western Adventures, April 1943
  • Famous Science Fiction, another magazine from Lowndes, 4 issues, 1966-69
  • Science Wonder Stories, April 1930
  • Avallaunius:  The Journal of The Arthur Machen Society, 2 issues
  • The Magazine of Horror, Lowndes again, an almost complete run
  • Scientific Detective Monthly, a short-lived magazine from Hugo Gernsback combining SF and mystery, 
  • Fantastic Stories, 3 issues from the Ted White era
  • Popular Magazine, August 1, 1930
  • 10 Story Detective, January 1942
  • Thrilling Detective, 5 issues, 1939-1952
  • Science Fiction Film Classic #1:  Star Wars
  • Ghost Stories, 1 issue from 1930
  • New Detective, 1 issues from 1950
  • The Science-Fiction Collector/Megavore, fan publication, 14 issues from 1978-1981
  • Fate, a magazine of fringe beliefs, 10 issues
  • Escape!, Inside, Luna Monthly, Hyborian TimesThe Burroughs Bulletin, Mirage, Fantasy Newsletter, various issues of these fanzines
  • Sexton Blake Library #76 and #145 (Series 1), #54 (Series 3), complete novels
  • Frontier Stories, Fall 1949
  • 2-Gun Western, May 1957
  • Two Complete Detective Books, 4 issues from 1943-1951
  • Espionage Magazine, first issue, December 1984
  • Lurid Confessions #1, 1986
  • Dime Detective Magazine, 5 issues, 1938-1953
  • Astounding Science Fiction, issues from 1936 & 1940
  • Super Sports, December 1947
  • New Detective, May 1940 & March 1948
  • Blue Book, April 1924 & March 1939
  • The Hobo News, January 22, 1946; QUERY:  One of the editors is listed as Benjamin Benson; could these be the mystery writer Ben Benson?  The St. James Guide to Crime & Mystery Writers lists Benson as the author of an early non-fiction book as by "Hobo" Benson.  I'm just curious.
  • Down Beat, several issues from the late 1960s and one from the 1930s
  • Western Story Magazine, November 11, 1939
  • Detective Fiction Weekly, 5 issues
  • .44 Western, May 1954
  • Marvel Stories, April 1941
  • The War Library, February 26, 1887
  • Western Trails, July 1947
  • Thrilling Western, February 1948
  • New Sports Magazine, April 1950
  • Life, July 26, 1963
  • Love Book Magazine, April 1938
  • Galaxy, February 1962
  • Clues Detective Stories, May 1936
  • Unknown, February 1940
  • Bestseller Mystery, 1942, with Erle Stanley Gardner's Murder Up My Sleeve
  • American Detective, August 1938
  • Ace G-Man Stories, January-February 1940
  • 5 Detective Novels, Winter 1952
  • Golden Fleece, November 1938 & March 1939
  • The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 1970
  • Star Western, July 1949
  • Strange Tales, 2 issues from 1932
  • Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, 9 issues from 1956-1982
  • F.B.I. Detective Stories, October 1949
  • Short Stories, February 25, 1936
  • Five-Novels Monthly, May 1934
  • The Popular Magazine, February 7, 1919
  • The Wide World, July 1950
And the following books and ephemera:
  • The Thrill of Horror, edited by Hugh Lamb
  • Tom Corbett, Space Cadet Coloring Book
  • Dixon Hawke's Case Book #7, 16, & 20, the British pulp detective, averaging about 20 stories in each book, 1941-1953
  • The Sexton Blake Casebook (1987)
  • Great Railroad Stories of the World, edited by Sam Moskowitz
  • Strange Signposts, edited by Roger Elwood and Sam Moskowitz
  • The Great Ones by Jon Deegan, British SF novel (1953)
  • Lunaria and Other Poems by Stanley Grauman Weinbaum
  • Various compilations from famous pulp artists
  • Seven British SF novels from the early 1950s by "Vargo Statten"
  • A serial from Amazing StoriesThe War of the Worlds (Wells)
  • The Vanguard of Venus, by Landell Bartlett (SF, a free booklet issued by Gernsback in 1928, to my knowledge the story has only been reprinted once)
  • Mirror of the Century:   The Strand Magazine, 1891-1950, by Reginald Pound
  • A Requiem for Astounding, by Alva Rogers
  • The Face in the abyss, by A. Merritt
  • A collection of various rejection letters
  • Startling Stories covers, 1939-1955
  • Magazines I Remember, by Hugh B. Cave
  • A serial from Weird Tales, "The Bat-Men of Thorium (Bertram Russell)
  • An Index on the Weird & Fantastica in Magazines

And this is just what has been posted in the last forty days!  By the time you read this more will have been added.

I am not claiming any great literary value to these items but pulp fiction, when done right, can hook the reader with the first paragraph and pull him through an entertaining, fast-paced story.  When done wrong, pulp fiction can still be a hoot.  So what are you waiting for?  Click on Internet Archive and begin browsing, dipping into a story here and a story there, or, perhaps, an entire magazine.

Trump:  What can I say?  Windmills cause cancer.  The country is full.  Anyone who makes unwanted advances on women shouldn't be president, but that applies only to Biden and not Trump.  The voters have shown that they do not care about Trump's taxes because they voted for him (even though he promised to eventually release them), and besides it's illegal to subpoena tax record.  (Huh?)  Let's close the border with Mexico.  Let's not.  

Geez.  Life in 2019 America is just one surreal roller coaster ride where the track might vanish mid-ride.

But Enough About Trump:  Let's move on to one of his most "Peter Principle" appointees.  Here's Randy Rainbow:

On This Date:  In 1093, Winchester Cathedral was dedicate by Walkelin, the first Norman Bishop of Winchester.  Walkelin began work on the cathedral 14 years earlier.  For the wood to build the Cathedral, King William II granted Walkelin all the timber from the Forest of Hempage Wood that his carpenters could cut and haul in four days and nights.  Sneaky Walkelin amassed an army of carpenters and managed to cut down the entire forest in the time period allotted, much to the King's displeasure.

Winchester Catheral still stands, although only the crypt, transepts, and the basic structure of the nave fro Walkelin's time survive.  Among those buried at Winchester Cathedral are Isaak Walton and Jane Austen.  The Cathedral also gave a boost to Tony Randall's singing career:

Today's Poem:

On Sundays, the preacher gives everyone a chance
to repent their sins.  Miss Edna makes me go
to church.  She wears a bright hat
I wear my suit.  Babies dress in lace.
Girls my age, some pretty, some not so
pretty.  Old ladies and men nodding.
Miss Edna every now and then throwing her hand
in the air.  Saying Yes, Lord and Preach!
I sneak a pen from my back pocket,
bend down low like I dropped something.
The chorus marches up behind the preacher
clapping and humming and getting ready to sing.
I write the word HOPE on my hand.

-- Jacqueline Woodson