Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, October 31, 2019


Michael Jackson.


This classic radio play was written by Lucille Fletcher (Sorry Wrong Number, And Presumed Dead, Night Watch) and first presented by Orson Welles on The Orson Welles Show on November 17, 1941.   Welles reprised the play three more times on radio:  on Suspense, September 2, 1942, on The Philip Morris Playhouse, October 16, 1942, and on The Mercury Summer Theatre of the Air, June 21, 1946. The haunting music for all four radio shows was composed by Bernard Herrmann, Lucille Fletcher's then husband.

Rod Serling famously adapted the play for the first season of The Twilight Zone in 1960.

Ronald Adams, driving cross-country from New York to California, first sees the hitch-hiker as he leaves Brooklyn.  He sees him again at the Pulasky Skyway, and again and again as he crosses the country -- always the same man, always hitchhiking.  There is no logical way the hitchhiker cold continually appear ahead of him on so many points of his journey.  Adams becomes terrified of the apparition and becomes determined to run him (it?) down the next time he sees him.  A close encounter in Texas leads to a shocking conclusion in the New Mexico desert.

A truly frightening program, just right for Halloween day.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


From 1933, Borrah Minnevitch & the Harmonica Rascals.


Those darned neighborhood kids!  They smashed my Jack-o-lantern on the sidewalk!

Not to worry, though.  I fixed it with a pumpkin patch.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


Bessie Smith.


Here's a fairly obscure classic for your Halloween week.

Dorothy Burgess plays Juanita Lane, whose parents had been killed in a voodoo ritual.  Now married with a young daughter, she returns with her family to the island of her youth to confront her past.  greeted as a voodoo priestess, she slowly descends into madness.  Fine performances from Burgess, Jack Holt (playing the husband), and Fay Wray (as the family's nanny), a literate script, and evocative cinematography make this one a winner.

A great example of pre-code horror.  Directed by Roy William Neill (Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, Doctor Syn, numerous Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies) and scripted by Wells Root (I Cover the Waterfront, 1937 and 1952's The Prisoner of Zenda, Texas Across the River) from a story of the same title by Clements Ripley*.

Enjoy this little and effective chiller.

* IMDb noted incorrectly that Ripley's story was taken from Cosmopolitan Magazine; it actually appeared as a serialized novel in Nash's Pall Mall Magazine in 1933.

Monday, October 28, 2019


The Classic IV.



           The curtain rises, morning light fades in on the Sheriff's office.  WINSTON, a deputy sheriff               inclined to matter-of-fact laziness, sits at the desk, speaking on the telephone.  On the desk are             an intercom, radio apparatus, sheafs of papers, and so forth.  The wall-clock reads 8:10.

WINSTON: [Plaintively]  Baby...didn't I just tell you?  I can't leave till Bard gets here.  [He listens]         Listen, baby -- this night shift gets my goat as much as it does yours.  You think I wouldn't like to       be in that nice warm bed?  [There is a buzz on the intercom on the desk]  Hold it.  [He speaks into       the intercom]  Yeah, Dutch?
DUTCH'S VOICE:  Winston...Bard's going to want those Terre Haute reports right away.
WINSTON:  [Irascibly, into the intercom]  What do you think I'm gonna do with ' 'em for            breakfast?  [He flips off the intercom, returns to the phone]  Hello, baby...[Listens]  Yeah, that's            what I said, isn't it?  In that nice warm bed with you.  Who'd you think I...[Listens]  Okay, okay,          baby...go back to sleep and wait for papa.  [Hangs up, shakes head, pleased; speaks with gusto]          Give me a jealous woman every time!

-- Joseph Hayes, The Desperate Hours (1954), a three-act play based on Hayes' novel of the same title.  First produced at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York, on February 10, 1955, ran for 220 performances, winning a Tony as the outstanding play of the season; an additional Tony went to the play's director, Robert Montgomery.  The play featured such talent as James Gregory, Karl Malden, Paul Newman, and George Grizzard.  The book on which the play was based was a major bestseller and a major book club selection.  Hayes gained a hat trick with his story, writing the screenplay for the 1955 movie adaptation, which won an Edgar Award for best motion picture.  The film had a solid cast of leading and character actors:  Humphrey Bogart, Frederick March, Arthur Kennedy, Gig Young, Martha Scott, Whit Bissell, Ray Collins, Simon Oakland, Bert Mustin, and Joe Flynn.  The story was later turned into a regrettable television film in 1967, about the less said the better.  A 1990 film remake by Michael Cimino starring Mickey Rourke was also a dud, despite the fact that Joseph Hayes contributed to the screenplay -- or, perhaps, because Hayes did not have complete control of the script as he had in the 1954 play and 1955 film.  If you have not read the original book, seen the play, or seen the 1955 film, consider that all three should be on your bucket list.  All three are that good.

  • [Anonymous editor], Beyond the Stars:  Tales of Adventure in Time and Space.  YA SF anthology with ten stories and seven excerpts.  "Seventeen stories from the exciting world of science fiction, including Star Wars and Doctor Who and tales by Jules Verne, Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke.  this spectacular collection is illustrated throughout with specially commissioned drawings."  A very minor (and somewhat overblown) collection.
  • Peter S. Beagle, We Never Talk About My Brother.  Collection of nine fantasy stories and one poem cycle from 1981 to 2009.  "The nine extraordinary stories in Peter S. Beagle's new fantasy collection are profound explorations of love, death, transformation, and the choices that define just who we are and what we are.  Ranging from an artist' loft in 1950s New York to the lacquered hallways of a feudal Japanese castle, each is a singular world of the imagination, told with wit and timeless wisdom.  - A modern-day angel of death moonlights as an anchorman on the network news; - King Peles the Sure, short-sighted ruler of a gentle realm, betrays his kingdom by dreaming of a manageable war; - An American librarian discovers -- much to his surprise, and to his wife's sadness -- that he has become the last living Frenchman; - Bitter rivals in a supernatural battle over love and real-estate forgo pistols at dawn in favor of dramatic recitations of dreadful poetry."  Beagle is the real thing.
  • Carole Bugge, The Star of India.  Pastiche.  "Holmes and Watson find themselves caught up in a complex chess board of a problem, involving a clandestine love affair and the disappearance of a priceless sapphire.  Professor James Moriarty is back to tease and torment, leading the duo on a chase through the dark and dangerous back streets of London and beyond."  This is from "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" series by various authors from Titan Books.  Some of the reprints in this series are wonderful additions to the Holmes legend, so I thought I'd give this one a try in spite of its lackluster back cover blurb.
  • Andrea Camilleri, Excursion to Tindari.  An Inspector Montalbano mystery.  "A young Don Juan is found murdered in front of his apartment building early one morning, and an elderly couple is reported missing after an excursion to the ancient site of Tindari --- two seemingly unrelated cases for Inspector Montalbano to solve among the daily complications of life at Vigta police headquarters.  But when Montalbano discovers the couple and the murdered young man lived in the same building, his investigation stumbles onto Sicily's brutal 'New Mafia,' which leads him down a path more evil and far-reaching than any he has been on before."  This is the fifth of (so far) twenty-seven books in the Montalbano series.  It was a finalist for the CWA's 2006 International Dagger Award.  Translated by Stephen Sartarelli from La gita a Tindari.
  • Jck Dann & Gardner Dozois, editors, Beyond Flesh.  SF anthology with ten stories from 1957 to 2001.  "In the future, the human race will no longer evolve.  It will upgrade...Welcome to an existence without boundaries, where the rules of humanity no longer apply, a future time when consciousness is no longer restricted to the prison of the flesh.  In this astonishing anthology, a host of the world's most expert dreamers are taking you there.  So open up, gain access to the heretofore unexplored regions of the body and the mind, and check all limitations at the door."  Authors include Poul Anderson, Greg Egan, Michael Swanwick, Ian R. MacLeod, and Stephen Baxter.
  • John Lutz, Frenzy.  A Frank Quinn thriller.  "Pretty Maids all in a row -- Six dead women in a hotel room.  Five of them students, still in their teens.  tied up.  tortured,  The NYPD recognizes the suspect's signature -- three bloody initils carved into each victim's forehead.  Ex-cop Frank Quinn has faced this madman before.  Both bear scars from their last encounter.  Killer and cop, hunter and prey..In a deadly game of matched wits, only one can prevail.  It's not just about who gets killed.  It's about who will survive..."  This book includes a bonus story:  the e-short "Switch."  For the past twenty years or so, Lutz has had a profitable career turning out paperback original page-turners, ten of them featuring Frank Quinn.  Does anyone else miss the earlier novels Lutz wrote about Alo Nudger and about Fred Carver?
  • Chris Robertson, editor, Adventure, Vol. 1.  Anthology of 17 stories with pulp sensibilities.  "The first volume of an annual anthology of original fiction in the spirit of early 20th-century pulp fiction magazines.  this inaugural edition features stories from all genres, promising both literary sophistication and pulse-pounding action."  There was no second volume.  As for the stories:  "ICEBOUND SURVIVAL ON AN ALIEN WORLD...BOXING TOE-TO-TOE WITH FLESH-EATING GHOSTS...A SUPERHERO'S LAST STAND...A GUNSLINGER IN WONDERLAND...THESE AND MORE IN ADVENTURE."
  • Thomas E. Sniegoski, A Kiss Before the Apocalypse.  Fantasy novel, the first in the Remy Chandler series.  "Boston PI Remy chandler has a life any man would envy, with friendship, a job he's good at -- and love.  But Remy is no ordinary.  He's an angel who chose to renounce heaven and live on Earth.  so he's able to will himself invisible, hear thoughts, and speak and understand any language -- of man or beast.  Talents that will become invaluable to him when his angelic past returns to haunt him...The Angel of Death has gone missing, and Remy's former colleagues have come to him for help.  But what at first seems to be about tracing a missing person turns out to involve much more -- a conspiracy that has as its goal the destruction of the human race.  And only Remy Chandler can stop it..."  A popular series I have not gotten into yet.  I find it interesting that the back cover blurb writer did not capitalize "heaven" but did capitalize "Earth."  Don't know why I find it interesting, but I do, and a quick scan of the book shows that Heaven is capitalized in the text.

The Florida Man Bandwagon:  Seth Meyer has hopped aboard:

Killing bin laden Al-Baghdadi:  I couldn't stand more than a minute or two of Trumps' press conference announcing the death of the ISIS leader.  Any minute I expected Trump to chortle and rub his hands in glee.  He was like a kid reliving the most exciting movie he had ever seen, something that may not be far from the truth since he watched the in-progress raid live.  (I wonder if he had his own box of popcorn.)  Finally, here was an accomplishment for his administration to match one of the signature ones of the previous administration.  The photograph from the Situation Room shows the president and his advisers posing sternly around a table and is meant to show (I assume) America's resolve in the fight against terrorism.  Compared to the photo released after bin Liden was killed, the one released today appears to be pure PR.   We all know that Trump single-handedly has defeated ISIS because he has told us so enough times, but sometimes those pesky facts get in the way.  The operation that killed Al-Baghdadi was accomplished in spite of the president and not because of him, although Trump did give the go-ahead order.  The chaos of Trump's lack of a coherent foreign agenda and of his disruptive and uncertain policies had worked -- and may still work -- in ISIS's favor.  The president's grand-standing announcement may possibly embolden ISIS further; there are still many powerful ISIS leaders tasked with operational duties still out there.

Make no mistake about it.  I'm glad Al-Baghdadi is dead.  He was an evil man and the world is much better off without him.  I am sorrowful that be took three children with him.  I doubt that his followers will consider his death the act of cowardice that Trump proclaimed.  Instead he may be considered a martyr who refused to be humiliated by being captured.  Trump's raging narcissism distorts his view of reality; in his black-and-white, living-in-a-John-Wayne world there is no room for nuanced considerations -- something that has allowed him to blunder through the world stage without thinking.

There are time when I wish our president would keep his mouth shut, or at least temper his remarks.  Trump has called this a good day for the United States, and it is.  He then went on to say it was a good day for Turkey and Russia.  Jesus.

383 Years Ago; or, My, How Time Flies:  On this date long ago, the Massachusetts Bay colony voted to establish a theological college, which would eventually become Harvard University, which, in turn, allowed this to exist:

Halloween:  I love it.  It's my favorite holiday.

On the Good News Front:

Today's Poem:
The Night Wind

Have you ever heard the night wind go "Yooooo"?
'T is a pitiful sound to hear!
It seems to chill you through and through
With a strange and speechless fear.
'T is the voice of the night that broods outside
When folks should be asleep,
And many and many's the time I've cried
To the darkness brooding far and wide
Over the land and the deep:
"Whom do you want, O lonely night,
That you wail the long hours through?"
And the night would say in its ghostly way:

-- Eugene Field

Have a great Halloween!

Sunday, October 27, 2019


I didn't even know there was an Oleomargerine Act of August 2, 1886, much less that someone got a three-year sentence for violating it.  And then there's the dude who got caught with an onion in his cell...

This one's a two-parter.


Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys.

Saturday, October 26, 2019


Our friend Rick Robinson is really old.  Really, really old.  (Unlike myself, who is a spritely youth a full year and four days younger than doddering old Rick.)

Since today is Rick's birthday (yes, he's older than dirt), I thought I'd post the number one song the week he was born.  Think of it as a tribute to Rick, who is really, really, old.  (Unlike me!)



At least, that's what the cover of this comic book promises and who am I to argue?

Skeleton Hand in The Secrets of the Supernatural was a bi-monthly anthology horror publication from American Comics Group (ACG) that ran for six issues in 1952 to 1953.  The editor (and presumably writer) was Richard Hughes; artwork for issue #1 was provided by Ken Bald, Pete Riss, Charles Sultan, John Blummer, and Frank Simienski.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this issue is that there is no Skeleton Hand.  True, the cover does have a shrouded skeleton (Death, I gather) playing the violin at what appears to be a monster's ball, but the contents show no skeleton, no skeleton hand, no bony narrator or host...nothing to indicate who or what Skeleton Hand is.  Go figure.

The tales themselves are typical pre-code horror.  "Deathless Mortal" is a black magic story; Largo the Magician is actually a wizard who has made a deal with "the spirits of evil old" (winged evil imps) to become young again by stealing youth from his lovely assistant.  In "Sea of Retribution" James Simon is  imprisoned for sabotaging the Merchant Marine by selling defective steel plates to shipyards.  It turns out that even the penitentiary is not  safe from from the ghost of John Paul Jones (founder of the Navy) and the dead sailors drowned because of Simon.  "Death for Hire" has executed hired killer Cracker Schultz but a mad professor has used the "secret from the witch doctors in the jungles of Haiti" to bring Cracker back as a zombie to continue his role as a hit man.  Leo Groman, the crimeboss who used Cracker while he was alive, is about to regret using Cracker after he is dead.  Scylla, the mythical "Monster of the Deep" who haunts the Straits of Messina rises to destroy the enemies of Italy -- in this case, evil Russians.  Turns out Scylla is a pretty ugly woman with a bare, flat-chested torso whose breasts (if she has any) are hidden by her flailing tentacles and she has an additional six terrible dog-like heads that can bark loudly.  Neat.  The issue closes with a one-pager, "The Corpse Under the Carpet," in which a man kills his nagging wife and places her body under a carpet nailed to the floor; over the following hundred years no occupant of the house has stayed for more than a couple of days because of the ghost under the carpet crying, "Let me out you old skinflint.  LET ME OUT!"  Must be one of those very long-lasting carpets.

Check it out.  And if you can find a Skeleton Hand, you're better than I am.

Friday, October 25, 2019


Here's a strange one circa 1960 from Phil Jones and The Lonely Ones.


Erle Stanley Gardner created many series characters in his long career:  Perry Mason, Bertha Lam and Donald Cool, Doug Selby, Gramps Wiggins, Lester Leith, Ed Jenkins, Terry Clane, Jerry Bane, Bob Larkin, The Old Walrus, Buck Riley, Peter Wennick, Jerry Marr, Senor Arnez de Lobo, Barney Killigen, Bob Crowder, Dred Bart, Rex Kane, Whispering Story, Ken Corning, Steve Rainey, El Paisano, Sidney Zoom, Dudley Bell, Paul Pry, Jax Bowman, Helen Chadwick, Ngat T'oy, Black Barr, Speed Dash (the Human Fly), Sheriff Bill Eldon, Perry Burke, Major Brane (no relation to Donald Trump!), Norma Gay, Dane Skarle, Dick Bentley, Denny Clay, Phil "Go Get 'Em" Garver, Sam Selby, Sheriff Billy Bales, Ye Dooey Wah, Ed "The Headache" Migrane, Dave Barker, Sid Ranger, The Patent Leather Kid, Fish Mouth McGinnis, Key-Clew Clark, The Man in the Silver Mask, The Man Who Couldn't Forget, Mr. Manse, Big Bill Delano, Double Decker, Jax Leen, Lui Sing Fong, Lee Sparler, Bald Pete, and Small, Weston & Burke.  That's a lot of character and that's a lot of writing, but Gardner was a "Fiction Factory." after all.  Many of these characters you have probably never heard of, lost to the chipped and yellowed pages of pulp heaven, although who knows?  Many of the old pulps are being made available on-line; perhaps these tales will someday also be be.

One series character I did not mention above is Pete Quint, a fast-talking, optimistic sales man who appeared in three stories in the Saturday Evening Post in 1941.  Gardner's only other fictional appearances in SEP were with serialized novels about Perry Mason and D.A. Doug Selby, making Quint a special case.  Most likely modeled on the success of the Alexander Botts/Earthworm Tractors stories by William Hazlett Upton, who appeared in 98 SEP stories from 1927 to 1974, Quint was soon jettisoned by Gardner and SEP for more popular characters.  Yer there remains a certain charm about Quint and his partner Ed Feldon; quick thinking, complicated action, and a little bit of luck was all it took to put quint on top and Gardner's typical now-you-see-it-now-you-don't, all-balls-juggled-in-the-air plotting is in full force.  You know Quint will succeed, but you jst don't know how he is going to do it.

The first story, "The Last Bell on the Street" (5/3/41) has Quint and Felton down on their luck, out of gas, and with just enough money to buy a couple of hamburgers.  Quint coasts their car to a gas pump outside an old diner attached to a store selling reclaimed tires.  The owner of the gas pump, the diner, and the tire business is George Fox, who had been conned into signing a unreasonable contract by a tire distribution company.  Fox is two months in arrears to the distribution company and is also about to be foreclosed by the local bank. 

Ed Felton explains:  "Pete figures an individual financial depression is because Lady Luck has taken a powder.  Pete calls he 'The Dame.'  He says she runs out on a guy once in a while just to see if he can take it.  Just keep your chin up and keep pushing doorbells until you come to the last bell on the street, and she'll come back, Pete claims."  And George Fox is the last bell on the street.  Pete begins his sales talk, because sees an opportunity and (just maybe) because Fox has a pretty red-haired daughter.  In turning George Fox's (and his own) fortunes around, Pete has to deal with a recalcitrant banker, local business who expect cash rather than talk, and a trumped-up jail sentence.  But Pete has a secret weapon (beside his wits) -- an army of young local boys.

In "That's a Woman for You!" (5/3/41), the tire business is expanding rapidly -- so rapidly that Pete is running out of operating capital.  Looking for a good sideline that would bring in an influx of cash, Pet strikes a deal with a bottle-making company:  if he can talk hard-nosed Jim Halloran into buying their machine instead of their competitor's, Pete will be granted a three-state sales territory.  While eating at a lunch counter before seeing Halloran, Pete strikes up a conversation with a pretty real estate agent trying to make a deal with a very deaf customer.  Pete gives her some sales hints that appears to help.  The meeting with Halloran does not go as well; Hlloran kicks Pete and ed out of his office.  Undaunted, Pete comes up with a plan that might turn the tide, only to be sabotaged by the competition.  The unscrupulous Halloran, meanwhile, has no plans to buy from either bottle manufacturer.  He plans to sell his land to a wildcat oil company.  Without Halloran, Pete seems up a creek with no sales in sight.  With a bit of salesmanship, a bit of luck, and some fancy footwork, Pete lands the contract and gives Halloran his comeuppance.

The final story, "The Big Squeeze" (11/15/41), sees Pete and Ed in Los Angeles hoping to become manufacturers' agents -- something to add to their successful tire and bottle manufacturing businesses.   The Puckley Air Conditioning Company's current distributor has too large a territory and urgently needs a representative in the desert, where they are losing business to an inferior competitor.  Pete and Ed team up with the daughter of a local mine owner and get to work.  The mine owner has had a track record of putting all his eggs in one basket, sometimes going broke on his all or nothing approach and his daughter hopes her commissions might offer a little financial stability.  Just as Pete comes to town, word goes out that the mine has suddenly gone bust, hundreds will be put out of work, and within a month the quiet community of Sandyville will become a ghost town.  Bad luck indeed for all but the town's most ruthless businessman, who begins to buy up property dirt-cheap; it turns out that he has been arranging for an explosive manufacturer to use the town's remote location as a testing site -- something that will bring prosperity back to Sandyville, which he, in effect, owns.

Gardner had always had a love affair with the California desert and its people.  In this tale he is able to bring some of his love to the printed page, especially with a character of an old desert rat with a penchant for tall tales -- the type of person Gardner had met many times over in his desert travels.  Pete uses this character to turn the situation around, sell a lot of air conditioners, and give the girl and her father financial security they need.  Just how he does all this, you have to read for yourself.

Luckily, Internet Archive has made back issues of Saturday Evening Post available online and you can check out all three stories here:

"The Last Bell on the Street" (May 3, 1941:

"That's a Woman for You!" (May 31, 1941):

"The Big Squeeze" (November 15, 1941):

And while you're at it, check out the other issues in the Saturday Evening Post archives.  There's a lot of great stories and great authors buried in those pages!

Thursday, October 24, 2019


Lizzie Bordon took an ax...

Or did she?  The question of what really happened at that Fall River home on August 4, 1892, still swirls about us more than 125 year later.  Lizzie has become a part of American popular culture, the subject of books, novels, stories, and film.

Here's another look at Lizzie Bordon, this time in an opera by Jack Beeson and Kenward Elmslie.



Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band.


With Halloween just a week away, I thought we'd take a trip down Scary Memory Lane with Old Nancy the Witch, and her "Wize Black Cat, Saten." Old Nancy was played by Adelaide Fitz-Allen (1855-1939).  After Fitz-Allen's death, thirteen-year-old Mirian Wolfe took over the role of Old Nancy; despite her young age, Wolfe's cackle was impressive enough to get her the role. 

The Witch's Tale ran from 1931 to 1938. and was radio's first horror anthology program.  The show's creator and producer Alonzo Dean Cole wrote the show's all 332 scripts (a number of them adapted from classic horror tales).  (Cole also played a number of roles throughout the series, including always Saten the cat.)  Feeling the program had no lasting worth, Cole destroyed all of his personal recordings in 1961; only a handful of episodes are now known to exist.*  Cole did not appreciate the program's influence:  nearly all radio, television, and comic books in the horror genre relied heavily on the conventions that began with The Witch's Hour; the Old Witch from EC comics The Haunt of Fear was directly lifted from Old Nancy, for example.

In "Graveyard Mansion," two brothers inherit a Louisiana mansion that has been abandoned for a century.  It's known as "the house of the living dead" and locals shun it.  Next to the mansion is the family graveyard that seems to hold...something.

The cast of "Graveyard Mansion" is unknown.

The link below is interesting:  the script has been transcribed and runs with the narration -- an experiment that I wish other episodes and shows would follow.


And shiver.

* The show, with a different cast and crew, ran in Australia from 1938 to 1943.  Many of the surviving 55 episodes are from the Australian program.  It's estimated that less than twenty are from the original American program.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


Nina Simone.  Animation by Nick Parks.


Back in 1923, Laurie York Erskine wrote the first of a popular series of boy's novels about Douglas Renfrew of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, Renfrew of the Royal Mounted.  The series ended after ten novels and some 17 short stories with 1941's Renfrew Flies Again.  By that time Renfrew was identified with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and had been the subject of a popular radio program from 1936-1940.

Renfrew hit the movie screens in 1937, when singing cowboys were all the rage and a year after Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy sand their way through Rose-Marie.  The die had been cast and Renfrew was fated to become a singing Mountie.  The title role went to James Newell, an opera-trained radio singer; Newell was featured in all eight films in the Renfrew series.  The romantic interest was provided by Carol Hughes (later Dale Arden in  1940's Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe)  as 19-year-old Virginia Bronson.  Songs are sung.  Dirty work is afoot.  And counterfeiters are smuggling phony money inside frozen trout.

As a precursor to Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Renfrew has a dog named Yukon King Lighning.

In 1953, the films were re-edited for a syndicated television series.

Enjoy this "Northerner" directed by Albert Herman and scripted by Charles Logue.

Monday, October 21, 2019


John Denver with a loving  version of this classic.


Openers:  A scream, rending the stillness of an Indian night, is  not unusual.  The scream which stopped Chowkander King on that mysterious by-street of Delhi, where a man is wise to move on, and mind his own business; that turned his face toward a forbidding-looking doorway, and sent his feet, a second later, flying up a narrow, winding staircase more forbidding than the doorway -- that scream pulsed with mortal pain and terror.

"Four Doomed Men" by "Geoffrey Vace" (Oriental Stories, Summer 1931)

For a long while I though "Geoffrey Vace" was a pseudonym for Hugh B. Cave, one of the most prolific of pulp fiction writers, and I was right.  And, perhaps, I was wrong.  According to fThe FictionMags Index, Vace was a pen name for Geoffrey Cave, the brother of Hugh, and that Hugh sometimes borrowed the name from his brother.  FictionMags lists Geoffrey Cave as the author of this story and other other two Chowkander King stories from Oriental Stories and, after its name change, The Magic Carpet Magazine; ISFDb lists Hugh as the author of this story.  You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Chowkander King was a Secret Service agent with British Indian Intelligence during England's rule of India.  He is fast-thinking, fast with his fists and his service revolver, and has a dogged sense of justice.  There are very few secrets that are kept from this Secret Service professional; he appears to know players in the cat and mouse game of fomenting a Sikh rebellion.  His deductions, though, are more of instinct than logic and the raid pace of his adventures -- like with all good pulp stories -- leave little room for the reader to consider plausibility.  As readers, we are just along for the thrill ride.

Whether the author is Geoffrey or Hugh, the story is in the classic pulp mode.  and that's good enough for me.


  • "Ann Bannon," Odd Girl Out.  Ann Weldy (b. 1932) wrote six classic lesbian pulp novels under the name "Ann Bannon," earning her the title of the "Queen of Lesbian Pulp Fiction."  Odd Girl Out was the "first novel in The Beebo Brinker Chronicles, the classic 1950s love stories from the Queen of Lesbian Fiction."  In the early Fifties, Gold Medal books had published Women's Barrack, a lesbian novel by Tereska Torres, fictionalizing some of her experiences in the Free French Forces.  It was an immediate hit and led Gold Medal to begin publishing lesbian novels by "Vin Packer" (Marijane Meaker).  After reading Packer's Spring Fire, Weldy (married at the time) began her first novel in an attempt to come to grips with her sexuality.  Packer took Weldy under her wing, introducing her to Gold Medal editor Dick Carroll, resulting in the publication of Odd Girl Out.  Weldy stopped writing after her sixth book was published and went on to a career in academia, totally unaware that her novels were adopted by the burgeoning lesbian movement.  "Odd Girl Our begins the saga of Laura, off on her own at college, appallingly shy and terminally polite.  Laura meets Beth, whose brash straightforwardness and friendly attitude take the younder woman by storm, leaading to an equally stormy affair..." (Metro Times)  "Little did Bannon know that her stories would become legends, inspiring countless fledgling dykes to the Village, dog-eared copies of her books in hand, to find their own Beebos and Lauras and others who shred the love they dared not name."  (San Francisco Bay Guardian)
  • John Farris, King Windom.  "King Windom's blazing sermons can cleanse a hundred sinning souls in a single night.  He can heal with the merest touch of his hand -- until his powers fail him, until earthly flames consume his church.  But these flames are no match for the fire in King's soul...With his eyes set upon Heaven,  King cannot see the Devil's work on either hand...a woman whose love is becoming obsession, and a preacher whose jealousy verges on madness..Even the hand of the Lord may not be enough to save King Windom from the damnation of Hell."  Farris is the best-selling author of such thrillers as When Michael Calls and the Harrison High novels and of science fiction thrillers as "The Fury" series, as well as a slew of Southern Gothic horror novels.

11,000 Virgins:  399 years ago today the Portuguese explorer Joao Alvares Fagundes discovered the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, off the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador.  Known officially as the Collectivti d'outre-mer de Saint-Pierre-et-Maquelon (Overseas Collectivity of Saint Pierre and Maquelon), the islands -- a self-governing territory -- are the only part of New France to remain under the control of France.  Fagundes' original name for the islands was the Islands of 11,000 Virgins.  My first thought on reading this was, he counted?  

But no, Fagundes named the islands in honor of St. Ursula, whose feast day is October 21.  According to legend, Ursula was a fourth century British princess who was sent, along with 11,000 holy virgins, by her father to marry a pagan king in Breton.  A miraculous storm brought Ursula to Gaul from southwestern Britain in a single day; when she landed she declared that she would take pilgrimage to Rome before her marriage.  She persuaded Pope Cyriarcus (not found in the papal records, although there was a Pope Sincius around that time) to join her pilgrimage.  At Cologne, they were beset by Huns, who beheaded the virgins and killed Ursula with an arrow.  That's the story.  There is some record of virgins being killed on that site at some time.  It took some 600 years before Ursula was named was attached as one of the slain virgins.  Anyway, back to Saint Pierre and Maquelon.

The islands were evidently uninhabited when Fagundes arrived, although they were probably visited by the Mi'kmaq, who hunted and fished in the area.  Jacques Cartier claimed the islands for the king of France in 1536.  By 1670, there were a total of four permanent residents in the islands.  The same year, the islands were annexed to New France.  By 1691, the islands could claim 22 residents.  The British Navy, however, continually harassed the French settlers.  The islands were again uninhabited by the early 1700s and were given to England in 1713 by the Treaty of Ultrecht, whereupon British and American settlers began to arrive.  The Treaty of Paris returned the islands to France in 1763.  Since the French sided with the Americans in our Revolutionary War, Britain invaded the colony in 1778, sending the now-2000 settlers back to France.  In 1793 Britain invaded again and tried to create their own settlement on the islands.  France stopped that and the islands went back to France in 1802 with the Treaty of Amiens.  Treaties are not worth much -- the British reoccupied the islands the next year.  In 1814 the Treaty of Paris gave them back to France, but Britain reoccupied the islands once again.  Everything on the island had been razed or destroyed by this time.   The islands were resettled in 1816 and by the mid-century, they began to flourish due to an increase in the fishing trade.  The colonists considered joining the United States in 1903 but I'm not sure how serious that idea was.  During World War II, Charles de Gaulle seized the islands from Vichy France.  In 1958 Saint Pierre and Miquelon were offered a choice:  become a self-governing state of France, or remain a territory.  They chose to stay a territory.  They officially became an overseas territory in 1946, an overseas department in 1976, and a territorial collectivity in 1985.  That's a heck of a lot of history for two small islands with a combined population of barely over 6000 -- some 5000 less than the number of virgins for which it was named.

Purple Nails:  It was a minor car crash, but two responding Utah firefighters are getting major kudos for their quick action.  No, they did not save anyone, but North Davis Fire District Chief Allen Hadley and Captain Kevin Lloyd went above and beyond as they tried to comfort a crying and screaming young girl whose mother had just been taken off by an ambulance.  How to calm the girl?  By letting her paint their nail with purple polish, of course.  Their quick thinking and quick action in this situation is not unexpected -- both are fathers of young girls after all.  Check out their pretty new nails:

Meanwhile, in Florida:  Someone should tell television news reporter Steve Barrett of WFTV News that reporters are supposed to report the news, not become it.

Keep the Good News Coming:
In these times of political greed, expediency, and horror it is important to realize that there is still wonder and beauty and kindness all round us and none of us have to look far to find it.

"Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in human character and goodness.  People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness."  -- Anne Frank

Today's Poem:
To the Rain

Mother rain, manifold, measureless,
falling on fallow, on field and forest,
on house-roof, low hovel, high tower,
downwelling waters all-washing, wider
than cities, softer than sisterhood, vaster
than countrysides, calming, recalling:
return to us, teaching our troubled
souls in your ceaseless descent
to fall, to be fellow, to feel to the root,
to sink in, to heal, to sweeten the sea.

-- Ursula K. Le Guin

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Saturday, October 19, 2019


From 1975, Paul McCartney.


Feature Funnies started out as a newspaper strip reprint comic book in October 1937 from Quality Comics.  It published strips from three syndicates:  the McNaught Syndicate, the Frank J. Markey Syndicate, and the Register and Tribune Syndicate.  Among the featured strips in the first issue were Mickey Finn, Jane Arden, Lala Palooza, and The Bungle Family.  New material -- including superhero stories -- was provided by the comics packagers, notably the Harry "A" Chesler shop , and then the Eisner & Iger shop.  With issue #21 the title was changed to Feature Funnies; under that name the comic continued until May 1950, closing with issue #144.

Issue #21 gave its readers stories about Mickey Finn, Espionage (featuring Black X, written and drawn by Will Eisner), Jane Arden, Big Top, Captain Cook of Scotland Yard, The Clock, Lala Palooza (by Rube Goldberg), the Bungle Family, Richard Manners, Slim and Tubby, Ned Brant, Toddy, Reynolds of the Mounted, Dixie Dugan, and Joe Palooka, along with such features as  Off the Record and They're Still Talking.  Sixty-eight pages for one thin dime.  What a bargain!  And it allowed its readers to catch up on strips that may not have appeared in their local newspapers.

Enjoy this blast from the past.

Friday, October 18, 2019


Ken Curtis, perhaps best known as Festus on TV's Gunsmoke, was also a talented singer who immediately replaced Frank Sinatra in the Tommy Dorsey Band and was the lead singer for The Sons of the Pioneers from 1949-1952.


Worlds Within by "Rog Phillips" (Roger Phillip Graham) (1950)

Roger Phillip Graham (note there is no "s" at the end of his middle name, despite a popular misconception) was a journeyman science fiction writer who wrote 3 million words under 20 pen names, mainly for the lower-level magazines -- most often those edited by Raymond A. Palmer and Plamer's successors.  His best-known work was published under the "Rog Phillips" pseudonym, including "The Yellow Pill" (Astounding Science Fiction, October 1958), which has been anthologized by Judith Merril, Edmund Crispin, Brian W. Aldiss & Harry Harrison, Joan Kahn, Isaac Asimov, Jean Marie Stine, among others, and has been televised twice.  During his lifetime, Graham published three novels:  one hardcover from Avalon Books (expanded from a story in Fantastic Adventures) and three paperback originals from low-level Chicago publisher Century Books.  Graham was also an active science fiction fan and published a regular column of fanzine reviews and commentary, "The Club House," which appeared in three of Palmer's magazines; Graham's godson, Terry Earl Kemp, collected and published those columns in a 2014 book.  Kemp also published four volumes in The Best of Rog Phillips series (2012-2014).  The quality of Graham's writing was always far better than that typically found in Palmer's magazines and, if much of his work was not consequential, it certainly was not unconsequential.  He could be fun to read.

"Fun to read" describes Worlds With, a strange mash-up of outrageous ideas, pseudo-science, pulp sensibilities, and lack of transitions that borrows from Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. Merritt, and (Godhelpus!) Richard S. Shaver alike.  Let me try to describe it.

Our hero is Lin Carter, which also happens to be the name of a well-known SF fan and burgeoning writer who would go on to be a prolific writer of imitative science fiction and fantasies and the editor of Ballantine Books' influential Adult Fantasy series.  Carter is in his late twenties when the story takes place about 1960, some ten years in the future; he works as an aircraft designer for Lockheed.   As he is getting ready for an important meeting, there's an urgent knock on the door and a beautiful girl rushes in, wearing a very strange belt and a parachute pack.  As she hides a duplicate belt under a davenport pillow, Carter's door smashes in and two thugs enter the apartment.  Carter turns to see the girl -- who has not uttered a word -- sink through his living room floor!  The thugs jump in the ir and they too sink through the floor.  Not your typical way to start the day.

A few seconds later the girl reemerges from the shattered door.  She retrieves the extra belt and hands it to Carter, introducing herself as Edona Morell, the daughter of Carter's professor when he was at college.  She says he must see her father asap, so Carter drives them to a nearby airport where they rent  small plane.  At 14,000 feet, Edona gives Carter a parachute and tells him to push a red button on the strange belt and jump.  Of course he does...and he finds himself on a strange land with no familiar landmarks and, in the sky, a sun that has turned red.  As they walk to their destination, Carter holds Edona's hand and falls in love.  For some unstated reason (this was published in 1950, after all) hand-holding is a sensual act that closely approximates sex, at least to Carter.  (It should be noted that there are only two females in the book, Edona and someone we'll come to soon, and Graham lets us know unequivocally that both have "pointed breasts" -- something good to know.)

Anyway, Carter and Edona soon come to a village inhabited by Indians.  Not your run-of-the-mill Indians, no, these are Incas, or maybe Aztecs.  (There are spots where the two seem interchangable; although the preference seems to be with Incas even though individual Indian names tend to have an Aztec/Mayan/Toltec feel to them.)  And not your run-of-the-mill Incas/Aztecs, either; these are scientifically-advanced Incas/Aztecs and there are both red and white Incas/Aztecs.  Yes, there are white Incas/Aztecs -- a race that is unknown on Carter's (our) earth.  It turns out that Carter is on Earth V, one of seven alternate dimension that abut each other.  Carter's Earth -- our Earth -- is Earth III.  Earth V has a circumference some two miles larger than Earth III, And Earth III has a circumference some two miles larger than Earth II.  Centuries ago, the Aztecs of Earth V conquered space and were able to bridge dimensions through some complicated hopping through gates where the dimensions are hinged.  Got it?  Well, I didn't; the pseudo-science mumbo-jumbo was just too much for me.   Anyway, the secret seems to hinge on something called heavy-iron, which is not like the iron that we know and love, even though it seems to only exist two miles below our (Earth III's) surface and has been secretly mined by the Incas/Aztecs for millennia.  For some mumbo-jumbo reason, for instance, the space-travelling Incas/Aztecs could never reach the opposite side of Earth V, a virtual terra V incognito.  As a matter of fact, the side of Earth V that the Incas/Aztecs live on is inhabited by many unknown tribes which the Incas/Aztecs couldn't be bothered to investigate.  There are actually only about 3 million of the advanced (read:  scientific) Incas/Aztecs and they (tacitly) deny any others to be "real" people.

You see, doom is coming to Earth V in the form of a large renegade meteor that will wipe out all life on the planet and the Incas/Aztecs are thinking of moving (all 3 million of them, and to hell with the lesser races with a population in the billions) to Earth III with its billions of people.  But an Inca/Aztec bad guy, yclept Montakotl, has plans to send the meteor to another plain to wipe out Earth III.  Dr. Morell (Edona's father, remember?) wants Carter to find a way to stop the upcoming cataclysm.  (Because if anyone can do it, Carter can.  Why?  Who knows?)  Also, can Carter protect and take care of Edona?  Morell can't do any of this because he's dying.

Okay.  A little bit of backtracking here.  I mentioned there are gateways to to the various planes/dimensions.  Over the millennia, some people have inadvertently stumbled through these gates.  Five years go, Morell and his fifteen-year-old daughter were stumble-throughers.  They made friends with the Incas/Aztecs, learned their languages, and taught them English.  Now, the ancient Incas/Aztecs of Earth V (the space travelers, remember?) had developed cold weapons, based on the environment of Earth VI.  Now, there is no Earth on the Earth VI plane, it is just a formless void of absolute cold (perhaps even absolute zero, it is hinted); but the Earth VI plane is inhabited by winged snakes made of electricity.  These snakes have a sharp hooked bill they can use to enter their victims bodies and freeze them.  Anyway, the ancient Incas/Aztecs made these weapons utilizing the cold and left them lying around and Dr. Morell decided to investigate them and had gotten cold-zapped and is dying, hence the need to pull Carter from Earth III to save the day and take care of Edona.  Got it?  Don't kick yourself if you haven't been able to keep up.  Things are about to get more confusing.
Now about these winged snakes.  They are openly lifted from A. Merritt's book The Face in the Abyss with the hint that Merritt may have had some knowledge about the various planes/dimensions.  Graham also supposed that this was also the origin of Richard S. Shaver's "Shaver Mystery" tales that were promulgated as based on fact in Palmer's SF magazines.  This was also a probable basis of the concepts of heaven and hell, Carter posits, as well as some of the so-called mystical properties of Mt. Shasta and similar places on Earth.  These winged snakes just love to attack and kill people.  But, wait.  It turns out there are good winged snakes and bad winged snakes and they are at war with each other.  And the winged snakes are intelligent.

Now back to the various Earths.  We've covered Earth V, III, II, and VI.  What about Earth IV?  Well, it doesn't exist -- there is only dust where the Earth should be on that plane, although there are planets that correspondent with those others on our plane.  And Earth I?  It's a small, dust-covered nothing of a planet from which there appears to be no escape.  But there are also the killer winged snakes on Earth I and they chase Carter and Edona back to Earth V and are working on destroying everyone on that plane, and will then presumably move on to eliminate life from Earth II.  (And, yes, I said there was no escape from Earth I, but Carter and Edona manage to do it somehow; I'm not quite clear how, but mumbo-jumbo works amazingly well in this book.)  And what about Earth VII?  The ancient Aztecs knew what lies there,  but no one else does, so Earth VII remains a mystery that might be explained at the end of the book and might not.  Way to keep us in suspense, Mr. Graham.

I mentioned there were two females in the book.  The other female (also with pointed breasts) is Mara, the wife of Jax (one of the Aztecs who befriend Carter at the beginning of the book -- both Jax and Artaxl, the other friendly Aztec, are killed off early in the book, alas).  Mara happens to be the the half-sister of the villain Montakotl and is a spy for her half-brother.  Mara is also a hot-pants vixen who has cast her many lovers away after a brief fling.  She tries to seduce Carter and Carter begins to respond, so rather than submit to her lust, Carter cold-conks her.  Carter compares Edona's pure innocent kisses and hand holding to Mara's unbridled passion and Mara gets the short end of the stick.  Yep, Carter is a noble pulp hero (and probable eternal virgin).

Did I mention the dinosaur-like creatures of Earth V?  They crush everything in their path and are really, really big.  (Their heads alone are the size of automobiles.)

About halfway through the book Carter and Edona join up with Art Gates, an Earth III reporter in search of a scoop.

And let's not forget the runaway meteor that's about to smash either Earth V or Earth III.

Worlds Within is a fast-paced, illogical romp that pretends to take itself seriously.  Abandon your critical thinking and any semblance of logic and you'll have a rip-roaring time with this one.

P.S.:  Kudos should also go to Malcolm Smith who provided the Good Girl Art (pointed breasts included) for the cover of the Century Books paperback.

Thursday, October 17, 2019


Big Joe Turner and His Blues Kings got the country shaking, rattling, and rolling back in 1954.  When he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, the Hall called him "the brawny voiced 'Boss of the blues'."  Was he ever!


Lou wants to win $1000 and all he has to do is spend a night in a haunted house, but nothing comes easy for Abbott & Costello.

With Halloween just a couple of weeks away, I thought it would be a good time to post this one.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Sam Cooke.


A horse is a horse, of course, of course...

But this is a horse of a completely different color.  The first Mr. Ed -- the one in this pilot -- was a chestnut gelding, while the Mr. Ed we are more familiar  with was a golden palomino.  And this Wilbur is played by Scott McKay rather than Alan Young.  Wilbur's wife was played by Sandra White.  In fact, in this Bizarro world, Wilbur's last name is Pope, rather than Post.  But this pilot (financed by George Burns, with Jack Benny also behind the scenes somewhere) did not sell, so the series was retooled.  The plot of this unaired pilot was followed closely by the eventual pilot that did air and the rest is history.


BTW, Mr. Ed was based on a series of sketches written by Walter Brooks (who also penned the wonderful Freddy the Pig series of children's books) that first appeared in Liberty magazine.  For those interested, here's some of the original stories by Brooks, courtesy of Internet Archive:

Monday, October 14, 2019


Delaney & Bonnie with Eric Clapton.


Openers:  Two brief reviews by Anthony Boucher (William Anthony Parker White):

(with a preface by Lillian Smith) (Messner, $1).

Not so much a book as a visual education exhibit, this large pamphlet sponsored by the Council Against Racial Intolerance in America vividly portrays the record of the Negro in our arts, sciences, sports and history.  It's a fine job but I'd hate to prophesy its success.  Christ opened the eyes of the blind but even he got nowhere with those who will not see.  (APW)

(Doubleday, $2.50).

If you want local color, a sketchy plot about buried treasure, a do-nothing hero, a heroine chiefly characterized by having breasts, more local color, a sinister one-legged villain, a minimum of action and some local color, this is your dish.  God help you.  Mr. Frisbie showed a pretty appreciation of his coyly nauseous style when he entitled his first volume "The Book of the Puka-Puka."  (AB)

-- Both reviews from The Anthony Boucher Chronicles:  Reviews and Commentary, 1942-1947, edited by Francis M. Nevins, 2001, an absolutely delightful volume that shows the breadth of Boucher's interests (and there were many), as well as his unfailing (and highly readable) critical eye.  The vast majority of reviews here are of detective and mystery novels, although there are also over a hundred pages of reviews covering, fantasy, science fiction, true crime, biography, drama, language, music, art, history, religion, politics, current events, cartoons, crosswords, and such hobbies as stamp collecting and cribbage.  A truly fascinating book, giving insights to a truly fascinating man.  Highly recommended. 

  • Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois, editors, Angels!  Twelve stories and two poems about you guessed it.  "They live in the place of the heart where miracles can happen...and in the very air itself, where they watch over us, waiting to work their magic.  And wherever there is a whisper of wings, their guiding light can be found -- if you are willing to believe..."  Well. that back cover blurb (printed in pink to add emphasis, I guess) seems to be pandering to those who literally believe in angels, doing a disservice to the book, the editors, and the authors.  What we actually have here are a variety of pieces (seven from Asimov's, two from F&SF, and two from Omni, with the remaining three from single sources) by some of the most talented fantasists going:  Silverberg, Dick, Wilhelm, Zelazny, Yolen...The contents range from scary to funny to poignant to thought-provoking.  Dann and Dozois published 22 of these fantasy anthologies (often based on mythical creatures and loosely described as the Exclamationary series because of the punctuation mark after each one word title) for Ace Books between 1980 and 1998.  Each one is a gem.
  • Candace Fox, Hades.  Mystery novel, winner of Australia's Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut Crime Novel.  "Twenty years ago, to children were kidnapped and left for dead...Homicide detective Frank Bennett has a new partner -- dark, beautiful, coldly efficient Eden Archer.  Frank doesn't know what to make of her, or her brother Eric, who's also on the police force.  Their methods are...unusual.  But when a graveyard full of large steel toolboxes filled with body parts is found at the bottom of Sydney harbor, unusual is the least of their worries.  Fro Eden and Eric, the case holds chilling links to a scarred childhood -- and the murderer who raised them.  For Frank, each clue brings him closer to something he's not sure he wants to face.  But true evil goes beyond the bloody handiwork of a serial killer -- and no one is truly innocent..."  Brrr.

We Get Our Kicks in 1066:  Today marks the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings which began the Norman conquest of England.  To celebrate, let's mark this day with a bit of poetry:

And, perhaps, a little bit of art history:

And to top it off, a little bit of history in song:

Florida Man Is Alive and Well In, Where Else?, Florida:

  • Timothy Kepke and Noah Osborne, Florida Men brave and true were arrested this month for illegally taking an alligator.  a prime piece of evidence was a video of Osborne handing the young gator to Kepke, who then apparently allowed the reptile to bite his arm, after which Kepke was filmed pouring beer into the alligator's mouth.  Alcohol may have been involved.
  • Ever the romantic, Florida Man Leonard Thomas was arrested after he pulled a machete on a woman who refused to date him.  Perhaps he was coming on a bit too strong in his quest for true love...
  • In a Florida Man trifecta of incredibly bad decisions, Guy Raynik decided to party a bit before he went to work.  He snorted some cocaine and took some meth.  At ,luch time, he followed that by taking a bunch of Xanax and passing out at the local Burger King.  Waking up in the hospital emergency room he did the only rational Florida Man thing to do -- he masturbated, followed by some urinating on himself as he crawled through the mess.  Emergency room workers just don't paid enough.  Did I mention that Raynik is a public middle school teacher, although it is likely that he is not one now?  Clean up on aisle two!
  • In Marion County on October 9,  Florida Man mutant was arrested.  Photos and explanation at the link:
  • Lest you think Florida Woman has been taking it easy, consider the unnamed woman on a bicycle arrested at a traffic stop for having no lights and -- coincidentally -- a crack pipe between her buttocks.  Where else would you put a crack pipe, I ask you.  From the arresting officer's report:  "The item removed from           s buttocks was a gall pipe with black residue (Crack pipe) know [sic] to me through my training and experience as an instrument used to consume narcotics."
  • Jessica Kropp, a completely different Florida Woman, was stopped in Marrion county after an officer noted her registration was expired.  Turns out she had five outstanding warrants on her, was driving on a suspended license, she had no insurance, and could not find her car registration.  When told to exit the car, the officer noted that she had a cute little bow in her hair made from a plastic baggie and containing meth.  She was held on a 423,210 bond.
  • And Casey Anthony, Florida Woman Extreme and nobody's Mother of the Year, has let it be known that she would like another baby.  she's hoping she can "find some meaning in her life."  Any takers?

Let's Cleanse Our Palates with Some Good News:

Today's Poem:
maggie and milly and molly and may

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways by blowing bubbles; and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as the world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you and a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea

-- e. e. cummings (1894-1962)
whose birthday is today

Saturday, October 12, 2019


Pink Floyd.


The cover of this issue shows three motorcycle policemen overtaking a speeding car.  At the top of the overpass are two more policemen, one firing a rifle and hitting the top of the car.  Two of the motorcycle cops have their weapons drawn; one of them, holding his gun two-handed (!) while speeding down the highway, fires his weapon, hitting one bad guy's gun hand while calling out, "Pull over!!  Or the next shot will be for keeps!!"  The policemen on the overpass are saying, "Got here just in time!" (that's the cop firing the rifle) and "Those hoods don't stand a chance!" (that's his ever-observant partner).  The wounded bad guy is saying, "Owww!!  They hit me!  H-how did they get to us so fast?"

How, indeed?


To hit the point home, the cover also bears the comic book's motto:  "THE LAW WILL WIN"  Ah, the optimistic Fifties...

Thrilling Crime Cases appears to have been a reprint title from Star Publications, at least inn the case of this issue.  Two of the three stories have been traced back to Guns Against Gangsters (v2 #1) and Murder Incorporated (#13).

We start off with ""State Prison Slaughter" (based on a true crime case, natch!).  Danny Daniels is sent to the state prison for a 26-year stretch.  During a prison riot, Danny and two of his friends manage to capture over a dozen guards.  Danny kills one to send a message to the warden, threatening to keep killing guard until his demands are met.  Danny keeps killing guards while attempts to stop him fail until finally, Danny is left with just three bullets.  (I won't even bother with a spoiler alert here.)  In the last panel, we pivot to a woman reading a newspaper:  "Danny Daniels!  He was a bad character!  Well, maybe that's the way they all start...small crimes at first...then..."

In "The Deadly Game," Officer Greg "The Gunmaster" Gayle is headed to the North Woods Big Game club to lecture on guns, bringing a few guns with his as examples.  Before he can get to his train, though, he spots a suspected member of a gang that has been plaguing the city with their daring rooftop robberies.  He follows the suspect to an abandoned skyscraper due for demolition but is captured before he can notify the police.  The leader of the gang "kills" Greg with his own gun, not knowing that Greg had loaded the gun with blanks for his lecture demonstration.  Off goes the gang to pull their biggest and most daring robbery ever, blithely unaware that the Gunmaster is alive to foil their evil machinations.  Unlike the two stories bookending it, we are not told that this tale is based on a true crime story.  I found two things of interest in this story.  First, Greg's boss is named Captain Glumm and he is.  Second, the artist who drew the story made Greg look like a Dick Tracy villain. 

Finally, we go to the turn of the last century for "Crime of Terror."  Gus, Harvey, and Peter were violent, heartless criminals whose "terrorization of Chicago set a horror record which only the gangsters of the Prohibition Era could equal!!"  After a string of vicious robberies, the three are caught and sent to prison.  When they have served their time, the three immediately go on a robbery-murder spree, killing three people in three different robberies the same day.  As their crimes continue and escalate, police are desperate to find the "terror trio" who leave no witnesses behind.  They get their lucky break when Gus is captured in a barroom brawl.  To protect themselves, Pete and Harvey unsuccessfully try to kill Gus before he can talk, marking the beginning of the end for thee cold-blooded killers.

This issue also has a one-page puzzle story (hint:  it's the cop's neer-do-well brother!) and the de rigueur two-page text story to skirt postal regulations.

And then there are the ads, so glorious in their cheesiness.  Miss Lee-Fashions offers two special dresses (up to size 48):  Style #313 -- Sorceress and Style # 645 -- Cinderella   I honestly can't decide which is more hideous.  Sorceress has cheap applique discs attached to the sleeves and circling the hem of the the dress, and it will "please him with your teasing torrid shoulders seductively showing through chic slit sleeves."*  Cinderella has imported chantilly lace!  Its "exquisitely sheer filmy marquisette helplessly caresses bare shoulders -- mysteriously veils the whispering lace of the provocatively curve-clinging bodice, the star-pointed skirt of shivering rayon taffeta."  Be still, my beating heart! 

Feeling a bit porky?  You can reduce up to 5 pounds a week with Dr. Phillips' amazing Kelpidine Chewing Gum -- 100% guaranteed and it's fun!  No drugs.  No starving. No massage.  No exercise.  No steaming.  No laxatives.  Just $2 for a 25-day supply!  Why, it's a scientific marvel!

If chewing gum  isn't your thing, there's the Figure-Adjuster -- a torturous-looking girdle with a unique "magic panel," yours for only $4.98 (down from $6.30) plus postage.  Send no money.  Act now and get the free booklet "Secrets of Loveliness."  Do it for your figure's sake!

And then there are the sensational book bargains.  You can learn to play the piano.  You can learn to play boogie-woogie.  You can learn to dance.  You can learn to fight four different ways.  You can learn to make love, starting with the art of kissing.  You can learn fortune telling.  You can learn to interpret dreams.  And you can get some of the latest sleaze romance novels from Croyden Books.  Ain't it fun to be literate?

Ward's Formula will stop hair loss and give you a healthy scalp by going after four hair-destroying germs:  pityrosporium ovale, morococcus, staphlococcus albus, and microbacillus.  You'd better act now before it's too late.  Once your hair is gone, it's gone.

And what would a Fifties comic book be without a pitch to kids for fabulous prizes?  This time you're sent 45 Xmas packs (containing two Xmas cards, two envelopes and eight sparkling Xmas stickers) to be sold at just ten cents each.  Once you sell your 45 packs, just mail the money to us and choose you prize from the 75 listed in out Big Prize Book!  What an opportunity to start your entrepreneurial career!

All this, and more!  Just click on the link:

* For your next party/drinking game, have everyone say "chic slit sleeves" ten times fast.

Friday, October 11, 2019


Jazz great Art Blakey was born 100 years ago today.  Let's celebrate!


Dydeetown World by F. Paul Wilson (1989)
I had a hard time getting into this one. 

"Was back in my office cubicle, whiffing up some tay.  Had just let Ignatz loose to start gobbling up the cockroaches and was watching Newsface Six doing this interesting interview with Joey Jose when some graffiti about inhumane treatment of chlor-cows warped into the holochamber.  Wondered if they had this much datastream graffiti in the Western Megalops or Chi-Kacy or Tex-Mex.  Annoying at times, especially when the datastream was interviewing my favorite comedian."

Give me a break!  I know you're trying to portray a future world that is far different than ours, but really?  The first few chapters of the book are pretty heavy-handed.  Add to that Baen Books' inept packaging and totally unattractive cover, and I was hard-pressed to continue.

But this was F. Paul Wilson, whose later books I have truly enjoyed, so I trudged on to find a fairly entertaining read lurking beyond the opening pages.

Much of Wilson's early work were science fiction stories for Analog and other markets that presented a somewhat libertarian view of the future in his LaNague Federation series.  Dydeetown World was the fourth book published in the loosely connected series.  It was based on three previously published novelettes:  "Dydeetown Girl" (Far Frontiers, Winter 1985), "Wires" (New Destinies, Summer 1988, and "Kids" (New Destinies, Spring 1989). 

The scene is a future New York where the best of humanity has left Earth for "Out Where All the Good Folks Go," seeding the various planets with a multitude of civilizations.  Earth remains a very restrictive planet desperate to control its burgeoning population with a strict one couple/one child policy.  Children outside of this policy are either aborted prenatally or are "aborted" after the fact; those trying to save their extra child abandon their infants to the streets where they become urches -- raised by gangs of fellow urchins to a life of crime and hard survival.  When an urch ages out of his or his or her gang, he (or she) is set loose into the city to fend alone.  Urches are not recognized as people by the government which refuses to admit their existence.  Regular citizens consider then pariahs.

Also considered as pariahs are clones.  People who own a clone (and they can only own one) give up their chance to have a child under the government policy.  The clones, recreated somehow from DNA from famous people of the far-forgotten past, are used as sex objects for sale to "discriminating" customers.  The clones, their owners, and -- by extension -- their customers are all viewed with disgust by the general populace.

In this future dystopia people are virtually illiterate.  Urches speak a mumbling, distorted slang.  Clones have limited intelligence.

Dreyer is a private eye and not a very good one.  A Jean Harlow clone (Jean Harlow-c) wants to hire him to find her boyfriend, a Realperson.  The  boyfriend, Kyle, was going to take her with him Out where All the Good Folks Go.  Harlow-c showed Dreyer an "official" green card given her by Kyle that would allow her off-world.  Dreyer knows this is horsepucky and that a clone would never be allowed to travel; he's sure that Kyle was just leading her on.  Later when it turns out that Kyle is not Kyle, Dreyer finds Kyle's body (what's left of it -- just a head and extremities connected by nerves).  Along the way, Dreyer encounters a treacherous crime queenpin and her per tyrannosaurus...

Another "client" shows up:  a man who had given up his second child to the urchingangs and who wants Dreyer to locate his daughter, now about three years old.  Dreyer soon discovers that urches are being kidnapped and returned mentally altered.  At least two young urches are dead from a 60-story fall.  Someone who doesn't want Dreyer to investigate stretches a thin, razor-sharp microwire across his office doorway and nearly decapitates him.  Like any tough PI would do, Dreyer holds his head tight against his neck until he can get medical help.  WTH?

Despite his initial revulsion against clones and urches, Dreyer finds himself attached to both Jean Harlow-c and to the urches -- especially a young urch known as B.B.  (The most common names for urches are B.B. and B. G. -- Baby Boy and Baby Girl.)  As he brings both cases to conclusion, Dreyer manages to bring hope to the disadvantaged and to change the course of history.

**cough, cough**

Okay.  So this whole thing sounds like a mess.  And in less able hands this would be but, after a confusing (and disappointing) start, Wilson manages to use pulp tropes to move the story swiftly and surely to a satisfactory conclusion.

Just goes to show, you can't judge a book by its cover, or even by its first few chapters.

Thursday, October 10, 2019


A touch of gospel, a smattering of anatomy, and a precursor to Halloween from The Delta Rhythm Boys.


Where do you get your ideas?

That may be the most asked question of mystery writers.

The answer, if you are reporter turned mystery novelist Dan Holiday, might be Box 13.  To seek inspiration, Holiday has placed a classified ad in his old newspaper:  "Adventure wanted, will go anywhere, do anything -- write Box 13, Star-Times."  The answers he received -- 52 of them, one a week -- were enough to keep this syndicated radio show going for a full year.

Dan Holiday was portrayed by Alan Ladd, whose production company created and produced the series.  Several attempts to move the series to television failed, although one radio episode was reworked for an outing on General Electric Theater in 1954.  Shortly before his death in 1964, Ladd announced plans for a Box 13 movie; the movie unfortunately died when Ladd did.  Luckily we are still left with the original radio programs.

To get a flavor of the series, see what happens in the premiere episode, when Holiday receives "The First Letter."