Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, January 31, 2020


Dionne Warwick.


The Annotated Peter Pan by J. Barrie, edited with an introduction and notes by Maria Tatar (2011)

I admit that I am a fan of annotated books; they can add depth and understanding to classics works like those edited by Martin Gardner or Leslie Klinger.  Alas some tell us more about the annotator than they do about the author and his work.  This is not one of those.

When you talk about Barrie's Peter Pan, you have to be careful about what book you're speaking of.  It could be The Little White Bird; or, Adventures in Kensington Garden (1902, a sort of precursor) or Peter Pan in Kensington Garden (1906, another precursor) or Peter and Wendy (1911, later published as Peter Pan and Wendy), or Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up (the play, first staged in 1904, published in 1928).  You could even add When Wendy Grew Up, an Afterthought ( the epilog to Peter and Wendy, separately published in 1957).  For the sake of this volume, we're sticking with Peter and Wendy, which allows this annotated edition to be "The Centennial Edition."

Thanks to Walt Disney, as well as Mary Martin, Sandy Duncan, Cathy Rigsby,and even Allison Williams, most of us know the basic story of Peter Pan, although in a somewhat sweetened version. And most of the texts we have read have been abridged and sanitized -- as have a lot of children's literature from the past.  So some of us may have a hard time reconciling the bloodthirsty murderous instincts of Peter and the Lost Boys, they were an important part of Barrie's original vision.  Peter and the Lost Boys are not the only ones who can kill with abandon; Hook and his pirates, as well as the Indians, also slay without compunction.  (The Indians proudly carry around the scalps of both the Lost Boys and the pirates they have killed.)  Death seems to be a game with all concerned.  Peter and the Boys often go looking for battle and Peter was just as apt to switch sides in the middle of fighting.  At least once, when Peter switched sides to join the Indians in fighting the Lost Boys, the rest of the Lost boys decided to follow Peter and also switch sides -- leaving the Indians no choice but to also switch sides so Peter and the Boys were playing Indians fighting the Indians playing the Lost Boys.

Tiger Lily's Indian tribe, by the way, had the now very unfortunate name of the Pickaninnies.  (The name "derives from the Portuguese pequenino [boy, child], a noun based on the adjective for 'very small boy'.")  The racially sensitive word was in racially sensitive use since the 17th century, so Barrie does not get a pass for this.

Both Barrie and Peter Pan suffer the attitudes of the time although every once in a while we get a glimmer of more progressive social commentary;  at one point Lost Boy nibs says, "all I remeber about my that she often said to father, 'Oh, how I wish I had a cheque-book of mn own!"

The annotations also allow us to understand some of the now-outdated references.  We learn that Hook was "the only man that the Sea-Cook feared," and are reminded that the Sea-Cook was a nickname for Long John Silver and that Robert Lewis Stevenson had originally planned to title Treasure Island as The Sea-Cook.  Or that "pickle" was a term for a mischievous child.  Or that Tinker Bell was originally to be called Tippy or Tippytoe.  Or that one of Hook's pirates was named Alf Mason in honor of the writer A. E. W. Mason, the author of The Four Feathers and the Inspector Hanuad mysteries.

This volume is gloriously illustrated with drawings from various editions of (and about) the book (including Arthur Rackham's complete drawings from Peter Pan in Kensington Garden), as well as photographs of various early productions of the play and of Barrie and others.  There are also numerous articles on Barrie and Peter Pan and details on the Peter Pan in the cinema, and the various prequels, sequels and spin-offs by other authors.

Barrie married actress Mary Ansell in in 1894.  They were divorced in 1909, following her affair with Gilbert Cannan.  Barrie, whom his friend H. G. Wells described as a man of "little vitality," was rumored to never have consumated the marriage.  His attention was focused instead on the four young sons of widow Sylvia Llewelyn Davies; there is no indication that this attraction was sexual, but may go a lot to explain parts of  Peter Pan.  "Barrie himself apparently never had the desire to stray with adults.  His adoration of the Llewelyn Davies boys and his devotion to Sylvia had always been enough to sustain him."  Barrie's childhood was marked by a recurring thought/horror that he would one day no longer be a child, that he would grow up.  As an adult, he was a generous and kindly person, even while friends described him as "reticent," "morose," and gloomy."  Like Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie never wanted to become an adult.

Reading Peter and Wendy as an adult was an unexpected pleasure, magnified greatly by Tatar's annotations and her highly readable articles and analyses including in The Annotated Peter Pan.

Good stuff.

Thursday, January 30, 2020


Bob Shane, the  last surviving member of The Kingston Trio, died this week, age 85, closing another chapter of my youth.  I really should not call the group "underappreciated."  After all, The Kingston Trio has  a zillion-minus-one fans (it used to be a solid zillion, but Bill Crider passed away, dammit).   Still, this is as good a time as any for me to recognize (and thank) Bob Shane, as well as Dave Guard and Nick Reynolds, as well as later members of the group John Stewart, Pat Horine, Jim Connor, Roger Gambill, Bill Zorn, George Grove, Bob Haworth, Rick Dougherty, Josh Reynolds (Nick's son), Mike Marvin (Nick's cousin), Tim Gorelangton, and Don Marovich. 

The entire Kingston Trio catalog would run for 17 hours.  Hear are a few of their songs:

"Tom Dooley"

"Chilly Winds"


"The Tijuana Jail"

"Scotch and Soda"

"Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

"Try to Remember"

"Desert Pete"

"A Worried Man"

"They Called the Wind Maria"

"Reverend M. Black"

"The Merry Minuet"

"Oh Shenandoah"

"Take Her Out of Pity"

R.I.P. Bob Shane.


Nelson S. Bond's "Conqueror's Isle" (Blue Book, June 1946) was adapted by John Dunkel for this March 5, 1949, episode of Escape.  A bomber pilot is forced down on a strange, uncharted desert isle and discovers a race of superior humans prepared to take over the world.  David Ellis, Bill Johnstone, and Ted von Eltz star.  Producer Norman McDonald directed.

Enjoy this adaptation of a SF classic.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020


Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys.


It's been a pretty cold winter in New England.  My brother called the other day and told me his furnace was broken.  "You should check into a hotel until you can get it fixed or else you'll freeze, " I told him.  "Nah," he said.  "I have a better plan.  I'll save money and just stand in a corner of the living room; it's ninety degrees."

Tuesday, January 28, 2020


From The Porter Wagoner Show, Dolly Parton nails it.  To my  mind, Dolly's original take is light years beyond whitney Houston's cover.  What do you think?


Long before Timmy fell in the well...actually he didn't, it was Lassie who fell in the well, but no matter; long before then there was Jeff Miller (played by Tommy Rettig) who inherited a collie named Lassie and before you could say, "Here, girl," Lassie became a household favorite. So began the fifth longest-running primetime television series in history, going from September 1954 to March 25, 1973, and taking Lassie through multiple owners.  The first four years -- the Jeff Miller/Tommy Reddig years -- were syndicated as Jeff's Collie.

So we start off with Jeff, his widowed mother Ellen (Jan Clayton), and his grandfather George "Gramps" Miller (George Cleveland) on a small farm in an unnamed state.  Usually Jeff or someone else got into trouble and Lassie would have to come to the rescue because that's what dogs do.  Also hanging around the farm were also Jeff's buddy Sylvester "Porky" Brockway (Joey D. Viera, back when he was known as Donald Keeler) and his basset hound Pokey.

In the fourth season, George Cleveland died and both Clayton and Rettig wanted to leave the show.  Besides the juvenile star was growing facial hair.  So Gremps death was written into the script, the farm was sold, and Ellen and Jeff moved away to the big city (if I remember correctly).  The  big city was probably Capital City, the oft-mentioned county seat.  And because they could not take Lassie to the city, she stayed behind on the farm when Paul and Ruth Martin (played first by Jon Shepodd and Cloris Leachman, then by Hugh Reilly and June Lockhart) and their foster kid Timmy, the one that never really fell down a well (Jon Provost).  Lassie continued doing his doggy duty by saving Timmy for the next seven years.

The next cast switch took Lassie into the U.S. Forest Service for five or six years.  Lassie then wandered around on her own for a season before ending up at the Holden Ranch for orphaned boys for the last two years of the series.

But let's head back to the beginning -- season 1, episode 1, a two-parter which set up the Jeff-Lassie relationship.


Episode 1, part 1, September 12, 1954:

And episode 1, part 2, also September 12 1954:

Monday, January 27, 2020


The Fifth Dimension cover Laura Nyro.


Openers:  Flight Officer Robert Craig surrendered the tube containing his service record tapes and stood waiting while the bored process clerk examined the seal.

"Your clearance," said the clerk.

Craig handed him a battered punch card and watched the man insert it into the reproducer.  He felt anxiety as the much-handled card refused for a time to match the instrument's metal contact points.  The line of men behind Craig fidgeted.

-- Frank Quattrocchi, "Sea Legs"  (Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1951)

Here's a great example of extrapolating the future and getting it wrong.  Who was to know that computer punch cards would become passe?   And a reproducer with metal compact point?  Just what is that?   An attempt to visualize what might have become a scanner?  A tube containing service record tapes -- how does that work?

It all sounds very futuristic and it all was made meaningless in a few year's time.  Yet, kudos for trying to make a future where such things might be commonplace.

I can't tell you much about the author.  There is  no listing for him at The Enclopedia of Science Fiction.   A cursory look online yielded no information about him other than he had eight short stories published in the science fiction magazines from 1951 to 1955.  Only two of his stories were anthologized.  One of his stories* was made into a mediocre British SF/horror film, 1966's The Projected Man (one reviewer on ISFDb called it "77 minutes of nothing"); the flick was skewered in one of the better episodes of Mystery Science Theatre 3000.  (Wikipedia calls Frank Quattrocchi a Hollywood screen writer, but IMDb's only listing for him is as the source for The Projected Man,) The story above, "Sea Legs," was adapted for the radio show X Minus 1 in 1951.

A lot of writers enter the science fiction field, publish a handful of stories, and then vanish, whether from disappointment, life changes, or for greener pastures.  Some of these writers make a splash, some don't.

If anyone has any further information about Quattrocchi, I would be interested to hear it.

For those interested, here's a ;list of Frank Quattrocchi's stories:

  • "Assignment in the Unknown," Astounding Science Fiction, February 1951; Astounding Science Fiction (UK). August 1951
  • "Sea Legs," Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1951; Galaxie (1ere serie) #45, August 1957 [French translation]; Project Gutenburg, 2016; adapted for X Minus 1, May 1, 1956
  • "Brother," Marvel Science Fiction, May 1952; Skyworlds, February 1978
  • "Gramp and His Dog," Astounding Science Fiction, July 1952
  • ""The Sword," If, March 1953; Authentic Science Fiction Monthly #35, July 1953, as "The Sword in the Sky"; If (UK), November 1953; Project Gutenberg, 2010; reprinted in The Spear of Mars. edited by Reginald Bretner, 1980
  • "Kid's Game," Authentic Science Fiction Monthly #41, January 1954
  • "Addict," Authentic Science Fiction Monthly #44. April 1954
  • "He Had a Big Heart," The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1955; reprinted in An ABC of Science Fiction, edited by Tom Boardman, Jr., 1966
All of the above are available for viewing online at Internet Archive or Luminist Archives.

  • Isaac Asimov, The Birth of the United States  1763-1816.  Nonfiction, the second of Dr. Asimov's survey of United States history, following The Shaping of North America.  "Most of us are familiar with the events of these years, but with Dr. Asimov as a genial, insightful guide, mew perspectives emerge.  For here, as always he brings to his subject his remarkable lucidity, his ability to clarify without over-simplification, and his rich store of anecdotes that renders human beings of the fuzzy figures of history."
  • Ariana Franklin, Mistress of the Art of Death.  Historical mystery novel, winner of the Ellis peters Historical Dagger Award.  "In Cambridge, four children have been murdered.  Wrongly accused of the crimes, a small community of Jews threatened by Catholic mobs is given sanctuary by Henry II.  To assist in proving their innocence, he summons an expert in the science of deduction and the art of death.  She id Adelia, a prodigy from the Medical School of Salerno, and an anomaly in a medieval world., who is forced to conceal her identity and her purpose from England's grave superstitions and condemnation.  One man is willing to work with her is Sir Rodney Picot.  His personal stake in the investigation makes him an invaluable ally -- and in Adelia's eyes, a suspect as well.  From navigating Cambridge's perilous river to penetrating the dark shadows of the Church, Adelia's investigation will not only reveal the secrets of the dead, but in time, the far more dangerous ones buried by the living."
  • Graham Masterton, The Devil in Gray.  Horror novel.  "A young woman is brutally hacked to poeces in her Virginia home -- with a weapon over a hundred years old.  A retired Army officer butchered -- by an invisible attacker.  A young man blinded in his bathtub -- then boiled alive.  What do all these victims have in common?  What madness stalked them?  He is not dead, but not truly living.  He cannot be killed, only trapped.  and for years he was trapped, buried alive in a desperate attempt to end the terror.  But now he is free again, free to complete his ghastly mission -- free to slaughter the unsuspecting.  Was he ever human?  What is...the devil in gray?"
  • Gail Simone and others, The NEW 52!  Bargirl, Volume 3:  Death in the Family.  Graphic novel with art with art by Daniel Sampere and others.Three years ago, the Joker took everhything from Barbara Gordon.  Now he wants more.  Returning to Gotham City after a long absence, the Clown Prince of Crime is out to free Batman from his closest allies -- his 'family."  He targets Batgirl, putting Barbara face-to-face with her worst nightmare:  the man who put her in a wheelchair.  But the attack on her and her fellow Bat-heroes is only the beginning of Batgirl's family problems.   Her mother -- newly returned after more than a decade of estrangement -- has been captured.  Her father has been poisoned.  And her brother, a psychopathic Arkham Asylum escapee, may actually be working with the Joker."

Dirt:  I was struck by news that actress Salma Hayek recently apologized for praising the book American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins.  The book is about a Mexican woman whose husband and other family members have been murdered by a Mexican drug cartel.  I haven't read the book but it has evidently been praised by Stephen King, Ann Patchett, and others.  It is currently on the best-seller list and has been selected for Oprah's Book Club -- both of which have absolutely no relevancy to the quality of the book.  And Selma Hayek praised it.  Then some critics slammed the book "for being a poorly informed narrative about Mexico that reinforces stereotypes."  And Selma backpedaled.  Again I have not read the book.  I knew little about it until this story broke and the story says more about the critics and Hayek than it does about the book's worth.

R.I.P. Kobe:  I am not an avid follower of sports but even I have heard of Kobe Bryant.  His death saddens me, as does the death of everyone else involved in the accident.  I was especially stricken to hear that his thirteen-year-old daughter was also killed in the crash.  Whenever someone that young dies I feel diminished.  All that potential vanished from the world.  So sad.

Trumplestilskin:  As the impeachment trial continues we are getting more and more collaboration of Trump's misdeeds from outside sources.  Yet the likelihood that the Republican-controlled senate will not approve either documents or witnesses is strong.  These jamokes are doing -- and have been doing all along -- a disservice to both the country and to their oaths of office.  Trump will probably be acquitted -- at least if McConnell has anything to say about it, and he does -- and will go on destroying the economy, the environment, and America's reputation as he continues to foolishly dismantle the country.  Vote every one of the evil, selfish, greedy bastards out.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day:  It's today.  Never forget.

A Bit of History:  Seven hundred eighteen years ago, Dante Alighieri was exiled from his home city of Florence.  He never returned.  To do so would mean burning on the stake.  Politics, religion, and Dante's temper all played a part in this.  During the 12th and 13th centuries Italy was embroiled in the Guelph-Ghibelline conflict.  The Guelphs supported the Papacy and the Ghibellines The Holy Roman Empire.  Dante was a Guelph and fought against the Ghibellines in the Battle of Campaldino.  The Guelphs were the eventual victors in the conflict but soon began to quarrel among themselves and dividing into two camps -- the White Guelphs and the Black Guelphs, in which the Whites wanted less papal interference in the affairs of Florence and the Blacks supporting the Pope.  Dante was a White Guelph and the Whites took power and expelled the Blacks.  Pope Boniface VIII began planning a military invasion  of Florence to give the power back to the Blacks.  At the same time, Dante was part of a delegation sent to Rome to determine the Pope's intentions.  The Pope sent the delegation back but had Dante remain in Rome.  While he remained in Rome, the Blacks invaded Florence and, over a period of six days, slaughtered many of the Whites.  Dante (who was still in rome) and his family were exiled for a period of two years and ordered to pay a huge fine.  Boniface suggested that Dante remain in Rome.  Dante refused to pay the fine, either because he was innocent or because all his money was back in Florence.  To add to Dante's woes the Blacks accused him of corruption during the two months that he held a city position.  Because Dante stayed in Rome, the Blacks accused him of absconding and permanently exiled him.  If Dante ever returned without paying the fine, he would be executed.

Dante got his revenge, of sorts.  During his exile he conceived and wrote The Divine Comedy, placing many of his enemies in Hell.

He's Still at It:  By "he" I mean Florida Man, naturally.

  • A Florida man was waken from his sleep by a stranger sucking his toes.  When asked what he was doing, the toe-sucking Florida Man replied that he was sucking the man's toes.  He then grabbed to victim by the genitals before the victim could go for a gun (of course there's a gun; this is Florida).  The victim managed to force the toe-sucker away.  Said toe-sucker smashed an window and then destroyed the windshield on the man's car before escaping.  The police pulled DNA from the victim's toes and brought in a police dog to no avail.  Florida toe-sucking Man is still at large.  Just another typical day in Bradenton.
  • Florida Woman Nancy Goins, 32, was arrested for breaking into a house.  She told police that she was from the Special Victims Unit of the CIA and that Donald Trump was her handler.  So her story was pretty believable up to then, but then she also claimed that the Clintons were here parents.  O, and JFK was also her father and he was still alive.  Needless to say, the 'Special victims unit" of the CIA did not comment, nor did the Clintons or JFK.  Donald Trump may have commented but I doubt it -- he would leave that job to Rudy.
  • In High Springs, Florida Man Donald Watts was hiding from police under a mobile home.  Unable to get Watts to come by persuasion, and then by stun guns, police sent police dog Casper after Watts, who responded by biting Casper in the ear, to which Casper responded by  biting Watts in the head.  I believe this is the first man-bites-dog story of the year and it had to happen in Florida.
  • Florida Woman Qualisha Williams, 22, an Ocala prison guard, was caught on video putting bleach in an inmate's cup after the two argued.  In her defense, it might have been better than standard prison food.
  • Florida Man Antoine McDonald hed become a online sensation after a video of him in a bunny costume fighting another man went viral was arrested this week after a hit and run.  Police said he tried to elude arrest by once again wearing the bunny costume.  Just another typical day in Orlando.
  • In St. Petersburg Florida Man Kristoff King was arrested for kicking a friend to death in an attack that went on for 79 minutes, which must be a record, even for Florida.
  • The five Florida Men who make up the current Florida Supreme Court (there are two vacancies) have reversed a previous decision requiring that a jury be unanimous in voting for the death sentence, throwing 100 to 150 cases into legal limbo.  The state Supreme Court said that it had made a mistake with the previous decision.  Whoopsie.

And the Good Stuff:

Today's Poem:

Hope Is the Thing with Feathers

"Hope" is the thing with feathers --
That perches in the soul --
And sings the tune without the words --
And never stops -- at all --
And sweetest -- in the Gale -- is heard --
And sore must be the storm --
That could abash a little bird
That kept so many warm --
I've heard it in the chillest land --
And on the strangest sea --
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb -- of Me.

-- Emily Dickinson

Sunday, January 26, 2020


Yesterday I watched Renfrew of the Royal Mounted, the first of eight films about the popular boy's book character.  Renfrew, if you don't know him, was a straight shooter former Royal Flying Corps officer who brought peace and justice to the Canadian Northwest in ten books (1922-1941) and well over a dozen short stories by Laurie York Erskine..

Like many American cowboys -- and unlike Sergeant Preston (who debuted two years after the first Renfrew film) Renfrew sang (blame the popularity of Nelson Eddy's singing mountie in 1936's Rose-Marie).  Renfrew often sang with a backup chorus of mounties who conveniently knew the words.

(Renfrew's first name, by the way, is Douglas, a name not used in the film.  Everyone just calls him Rennie.)

Renfrew sings, cooks, and arrests the bad guys in the same manner -- excellently.  In the film, he is challenged to a barbecue sauce cook-off with the cook of a well-known resort.  Not only does Renfrew come up with the sauce, he sings it.  Here's James Newell as Sergeant Renfrew singing a barbecue recipe from Renfrew of the Royal Mounted (1937):

This recipe, as you can tell, it not recommended.  So how about a few recommended recipes, keeping in mind that barbecue sauces and tastes can differ widely.

A tangy Memphis barbecue sauce:

Kansas City barbecue sauce.

North Carolina barbecue sauce:

And, an Asian flavored barbecue sauce:

Which do you prefer?


Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Kraus.

Saturday, January 25, 2020


From 1958, Dickey Lee with a doo-wop song, Memphis-style.


As with The Cryptkeeper, The Old Witch, and others, Fawcett Comics' This Magazine Is Haunted had a character who introduced each story of horror and the supernatural; in this case it was Doctor Death -- a lipless ghoul-like man with deep pits for eyes, pointed ears, and wearing a top hat and opera cape.  Unlike other such characters, Doctor Death had no sense of ghoulish humor; he juisy told it like it was in as frightening a manner possible.

I don't know if this is typical for the whole series but, as several commentators noted, the artwork is great but the colorist did a lousy job, lessening the impact of each tale.  O well.

Let us begin.

"Something moved in the leeching mud---slimy and serpentilian!  Some weird unearthly form that poked and clawed and reached out for 'Goldie' Ricon---to submerge him forever in...The Slithering Horror of Skontog Swamp!"  Goldie is on Death Row in Skontog Penitentiary and is next in line to be executed.  He managed to escape by holding the warden captive, which brought him to the dreaded Skontog Swamp, where every other escapee before him returned a drooling madman.  Chased by guards and hounds, he lies flat on the swamp floor and smells something like burning flesh.  Rising above him is a dark, misshapen monster with charred flesh,  rawling on all fours and pulling at him, trying to drag him further into the swamp.  Now other monsters are rising from the swamp.  Goldie manages to escape them but not before one bites him on the shoulder.  Somehow he made it through the swamp and managed to contact members of his gang.  Hiding out in a large house, his shoulder wound grows worse, he becomes pale and his eyes grow haunted.  He finds himself walking unconsciously through town, images of those swamp things surrounding him.  He begins to lose his grip on sanity.  Soon he is recaptured and finally sent to the electric chair.  He is supposed to be dead but Goldie finds himself back in the swamp, surrounded by the slithering creatures of his dreams, only to find that he is now one of them -- "the electrocuted dead -- seeking vainly forever to cool our charred flesh in the swamp, from the burns of the electric chair!"

"The Ghost of Fanciful Hawkins" takes us back to the late nineteenth century, back to the Ozark hills, where awkward, big-footed  Fanciful Jones has won the heart of Nell, the prettiest girl in the area.  this doesn't sit well with Hugh, the town bully, who wants Nell for himself.  Hugh pummels the smaller man and Fanciful falls in the river and drowns.  Hugh now thinks the way is clear for him with Nell but she spurns him.  Walking home, he hears something following him.  It's Fanciful's shoes.  They seem to follow him everywhere for days and days.  Finally as Hugh is walking by the cemetery, Fanciful's ghost rising from the grave, surrounding by flames.  The ghost grows and soon towers over the murdering bully.  Running away from the apparition, Hugh slips, falls in the river, and drowns.  Fanciful may be dead, but he returns each night to dance with Nell in her cabin.  Sixty-eight year later, now an old crone, Nell waits happily for her nightly dance with the only man she loved.

Finally, we have a story scripted by "Earl Hammer, Jr.," who probably was the novelist and television writer Earl Hamner, Jr. misspelled.  Hamner was probably best known for his novel Spencer's Mountain, which he adapted into the long-running television show The Waltons.  Among his many other credits were eight episodes of The Twilight Zone.  The story is titled "The Last One" and concerns four carnival workers looking for a place to stay.  The hotel in ton wants to charge them each five bucks for a night.  That's too rich for these carnies so they decided to find some barn or some place else to spend the night.  Even better than a barn is the old deserted Geyer house, rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Edward Geyer, who killed his friends there with a hammer.  Well pish posh to superstition; carnies are made of stern stuff.  The house is a large mansion and each man stakes out a bedroom for himself.  They are wakened by the tapping of a hammer.  Actually, three of them are wakened -- the fourth is in his bed with his skull crushed.  They are confronted by a "shadow" carrying a hammer and run from the house screaming.  The three survivors decide to sleep on the floor of the carnival tents but the ghost follows him and soon there is just one left -- "The Last One."  His hair has turned white overnight and soon he comes face to face with the hammer-weilding ghost.

By now you realize that I have included spoilers for each story.  No matter.  You would have figured them out after a few page anyway.  the stories are surprisingly well written and the artwork is good.  It it weren't for that darned colorist...

Enjoy these little trips to terro.

Friday, January 24, 2020


Dusty Springfield


Across Time by "David Grinnell" (Donald A. Wollheim) (1957)
Edge of Time by "David Grinnell" (Donald A. Wollheim) (1958)

Wollheim (1914-1990) was, in his words, a "fair to middling" writer.  In truth, he was better than that.  While certainly not a great writer, he was an entertaining and reliable author who provided exactly what his audience was seeking.  And he was one of the most important figures in the science fiction field.

From his very beginnings in the early days of science fiction fandom, Wollheim was an outspoken voice and a force to be reckoned with.  He helped organize what is deemed the first American science fiction convention, published influential fanzines, participated in feuds, and was a founding member of the Futurians -- a key group of science fiction fans who would go on to become some of the most important professionals in the field.  (The Futurians tended to be radical in their politics and insistent in the forward-thinking role the genre should play, although some of the members joined merely because of their interest in science fiction.  Members over the years included Frederik Pohl, C. M. Kornbluth. John Michel, Judtith Merril, Damon Knight [back when he was damon knight], Robert Lowndes, Richard Wilson, Larry Shaw, Isaac Asimov, James Blish, David Kyle, Arthur Saha, and Hannes Bok.)  A number of the Futurians, including Wollheim, managed to persuade publishers into letting them have their own (abysmally low-budgeted) science fiction magazines to edit -- Wollheim's were Cosmic Stories and Stirring Science Stories.

A few years later, Wollheim edited the first mass-market anthology of science fiction, The Pocket Book of Science Fiction.  He also edited the first hardcover anthology from a major publisher (it was also the first omnibus), The Viking Portable Novels of Science, as well as the first anthology of original science fiction stories, The Girl with the Hungry Eyes.

In 1947 he became editor of Avon Books, publishing books by the little-known authors H. P. Lovecraft, A. Merritt, Jack Williamson, C. S. Lewis, Ralph Milne Farley, Stanton A. Conlentz, and others.  While at Avon he also edited magazines The Avon Fantasy Reader and The Avon Science Fiction Reader.

In 1952, Wollheim moved to Ace Publishing to start their paperback line Ace Books, and introducing the two-cover, two book paperback in which one book (and cover) was published upside down.  The Ace science fiction line published original books as well as reprints of older works and novels that had previously appeared only in the pulps.  With Ace Books, science fiction hit the newsstands in a major way, helping to pioneer its mass market popularity in the 1950s and 1960s.  Among the many authors published by Ace were Philip K. Dick, Robert Silverberg, John Brunner, Ursula Le Guin, Andre Norton, Roger Zelazny, Avram Davidson, Fritz Leiber, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Jack Vance.  Wollheim also paved the way for epic fantasy publishing when Ace released an unauthorized edition of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Ace also reintroduced Edgar Rice Burroughs to the paperback audience and republished Frank Herbert's Dune.  Also while at Ace, Wollheim began his best-of anthology series World's Best SF with Terry Carr.  He also allowed Carr to edit the now legendary "Ace Science Fiction Special" line.

Wollheim's publisher, A. A. Wynn, died in 1971 and Ace Books was sold to consortium led by a bank.  The new owners knew nothing about publishing and soon bills began to be ignored, author payments were greatly delayed, and budgets were cut back.  Having had enough, Wollheim quit.  The following year a new company, DAW Books, published its first title.  DAW (gee, wonder where they got that name?) was the first mass-market specialty publisher of science fiction and fantasy books.  Beginning with issuing four titles a month, DAW continues strongly to this day -- thirty years after Wollheim's death.

As a writer, Wollheim may be best remembered for his juvenile series about Mike Mars, which extrapolated NASA's missions and projects.  He wrote three books for Winston's popular juvenile "Adventures in Science Fiction" series, as well as a handful of science fiction adventures for Avalon Books, World Publishing, and Ace.  His most famous short story, "Mimiac," was filmed in 1997 (briefly featured in his first film role was Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead fame; you're welcome TWD fans) and spawned two sequels.

Now to the books in question, the first two to be published under Wollheim;s "David Grinnell" pseudonym.

Across Time is the story of Zach Halleck, an Air Force test pilot in the late 1950s.   While in the air, Zach comes across a mysterious flying green sphere -- and actually hits it.  What happened then is hazy, his seat ejected and he blacked out, finding himself bruised and shaken.  After a stint in the hospital and before he got the okay to fly again, he was called in to see a major in the Pentagon.  Told that a few pilots had encountered similar experiences, he was going to be assigned to work with a scientist who was researching the phenomena in Oregon until he was ready to fly again.  The catch:  the scientist was his estranged brother Carl.

Back in 1951, while flying his fourteenth mission over Korea, his plane was downed behind enemy lines and Zach was declared dead.  By the time Zach had made his way through enemy territory and returned home, he found that Carl had married Zach's girlfriend Sylvia.  Zach walked away from his family homestead and never spoke to Carl or Sylvia again.  Now he had to work with them.

Carl had converted the family farm into an experimental lab with several buildings.  Carl had adapted the concept of radar to track these flying spheres and follow them during their flight.  Unfortunately Carl's equipment would also allow the spheres to home in on Carl's signal.  The equipment was powered from an out building.  When a group of these mysterious spheres was spotted and appeared to be coming directly at the farm, Carl asked his brother who was in the power building to turn off the power so that he would not be a target.  Zach hesitated and the next thing he knew the farmhouse was destroyed and both Carl and Sylvia had disappeared, presumably destroyed in the explosion.

While searching the area for the pair, Zach saw another glowing object -- roughly diamond shaped this time -- headed to him.  The was a flash.  And then he woke up.  One million years in the future.  How he got there and why was unknown.  The world was populated by almost human-like beings.  Zach learned the human race that he knew no longer existed.  Now the world was populated by another simian descendent, a nearly human race that had replaced Zach's own people.  Then Zach met a white glowing sphere.

Turns out that humanity had evolved to the point that they no longer needed their bodies.  The spheres were the descendents of the human race.  The greenish spheres were mechanical "robots" sent to explore the Earth of Zach's time.  They were controlled by a rebel group that now occupied the further side of the galaxy.  That minority group's aims were to conquer the galaxy by sending robots back in time to alter events in a way that the majority group would no longer exist.  And. surprise of all surprises, the rebel group was holding Carl and Sylvia on the other end of the galaxy and Carl was working with the rogue spheres.

Joined by the Ever Perfect Lieutenant, an evolved and highly intelligent space ship, Carl travels across the galaxy to rescue his brother and his former fiance and to prevent history being altered.

In Edge of Time, something strange is happening in upstate New York.  Strange phenomena appear and disappear -- dinosaurs, jungles, mountains and volcanoes, as well as strange strange beings and animals.  Warren Alton, a feature writer for the popular magazine People (not the People of today, but a 1950's rival of Life and Look) is assigned to track down this "silly season" story.  Accompanying him is a new photographer, Marge McElroy.  The center of the strange sightings appears to be an isolated laboratory in the mountains.  Turns out it is part of a fantastic project that combined ultimate speed with ultimate cold and managed to create a miniature universe.

Rather than have the story printed, the government worked a deal with the magazine's publisher to have Warren and Marge work at the project, gathering story material to be published only after the project is completed.

Now, about this miniature universe.  It's actually a complete galaxy and it runs on a different, much speeded time frame than ours.  Thus the scientist were able to observe the creation of that galaxy's stars and planets, watch the planets form and cool, and observe the beginning of life on many of the planets...The scientists had developed a series of telescopes that allowed them to watch these nascent worlds in detail.  The miniature galaxy with its billions of stars was self contained and restrained by an atomic force field that the scientists had developed.  Since time and space are relative, the inhabitants of the various planets experience time just as we do.  It's just that billions of years to them may be only a few weeks to us.  And the scientists developed a way to send one's mind into the bodies of the people in the tiny universe.  Once there, the scientist's mind can access all memories and experiences of its host without the host being aware of its "passenger."  while a few minutes pass in our world, months or years may pass for the mind hooked up to one of the natives of the tiny galaxy.  Not only can the scientists view the physical life of a galaxy, but they can also watch various humanoid civilizations rise and fall on a number of planets being viewed through this strange mind meld.  All the planets observed appear to go through similar stages of progress and civilization.

Now the time has come for these worlds to surpass ours in technology and the scientists begin to gather date about new inventions and scientific breakthroughs, from space travel to climate control and beyond.  This information can transform our world and enemies of America will do anything to get it.  Attempts are made to breach the project's security as, on a different plane, interstellar empires and federations are being formed, eventually to become one galaxy-wide federation.  Since the inhabitants of the miniature galaxy are in a closed system, they have no idea there could be anything beyond their own perview; their universe is the one galaxy -- there could be no other.  But since the universe is closed and their galaxy expanding, something had to give.  The expanding galaxy hit its outer limit and began to contract in on itself, eventually to destroy itself. 

Then there appeared The Oracle, a mysterious woman who appeared to eb reborn over and over again across the centuries.  The Oracle believes that there is something beyond her galaxy and that the many different races of people can break through the galaxy to this "elsewhere."  Although the planets and the galaxy may be destroyed, its people could survive.  As the millenia and eons pass in the contained galaxy, The Oracle has the various races build gigantic ships in an effort to escape eventual destruction.

During all this time, Warren and other volunteers entering the life and thoughts of these people and experiencing what they are.  We get an idea of how the civilizations advance through these experiences, allowing reader to identify with the peoples of the contained universe.

Both Across Time and Edge of Time deal with cosmic, centuries-expanding ideas, done in an exciting (albeit from a clunky Fifties-style point of view) manner.  There's nothing major about either of these books, but if you are in the mood for a good old gosh-wow, sense of adventure science fiction read, either volume would do nicely.

Thursday, January 23, 2020


While most of the nation is gripped by cold, it's good to look forward to warmer times.

Here's Lady Day.


Howdee and sorry, straight shooters.  Very few episodes of this long running (1933-1950, with one year off during World War II) radio show have survived, and -- since the stories were serialized -- no full story arc exists.  To give you a flavor of the series, here's one of the existing episodes, the "rump end" of a story arc.  This one first aired on August 14, 1946, and starred Joe "Curly" Bradley as Mix.  Yes indeed, buckaroos, Mix never starred in his own radio show.  Mix's voice was unsuitable for radio because of a bullet to the throat and numerous broken noses.  Playing Mix were a series of actors -- first, Artells Dickinson, followed by Jack Holden, Russell, Thornton, and finally, Curly Bradley.  Mix himself had died in 1940 at age 60 when his car went into a ditch.

Enjoy this surviving episode.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020


The Hollywood Argyles.


Historical accuracy be damned!

When Billy the Kid is framed and convicted for murder his buddies Fuzzy and Jeff help him to escape...and off they go to Santa Fe where Billy becomes the sheriff.  Things get even stranger then.

Bob Steele plays Billy, Al "Fuzzy" St. John is Fuzzy, and Rex Lease is Jeff in this alternate reality where Billy the Kid was not a cold-blooded killer.

This was the sixth of ten Billy the Kid movies that Sam Newfield directed under different names from 1940 to 1942.   Joseph O'Donnell scripted this one, as well as three others in the series.

Saddle up, partners!

Monday, January 20, 2020


It's Martin Luther King Day1

Here are The Staple Singers.


Openers:   They called me -- when I walked the earth in a body of dense matter -- Richard Devaney.  Though my story has little to do with the war, I was killed in the second battle of the Marne, July 24, 1918.

-- Willard E. Hawkins, "The Dead Man's Tale"  (Weird Tales, March 1923)

Hawkins (1887-1970) was a pulp writer and the editor of The Author & Journalist (formerly The Student Writer) from 1916 through 1938, a self-published magazine at the beginning and -- presumably -- throughout its existence.  According to Hawkins published over sixty stories, most of them in the western field where he had several series, including one about two characters called Dingbat Jones and Chuck McGee.  He published 10 stories in the science fictipn field from 1940 to 1952.  "Dead Man's Tale" appears to be an outlier, his only horror story; his next published fantastic work was "The Dwindling Sphere" in the March 1940 issue of Astounding Science Fiction.  "The Dwindling Sphere" was his most successful story, having been reprinted in anthologies edited by Laurence Janifer, Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg, and Hank Davis.  I think it is safe to say that Hawkins was not the greatest writer to come down the pike and may be justly called a forgotten writer.

Hawkins does have a place in fantastic literature.  "The Dead Man's Tale" happens to have been the first story in the first issue of the legendary magazine Weird Tales, probably the most important fantasy/horror magazine of the Twentieth century.

The premiere issue was not much to speak of.  The most noted story in the issue was the cover story "Ooze" by Anthony Rud. a popular pulp writer who became the editor of Adventure the before he died at age 40.  "Ooze" has been reprinted at least eleven times since its first publication.  (Sadly, it's not a very good story.)  The March 1923 issue contained "Twenty-Two Remarkable Short Stories," Three Unusual Novelettes," and "A Strange Novel in Two Parts."  A more rational person than the one who came up with these lines wold say the issue had twenty-five and a half stories.  Most of the writers here are completely unknown; the better-known writers included Joel Townsley Rogers, R. T. M. Scott, Harold Ward, future Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright, and Otis Adlebert Kline.  (Kline was the author of that issue's serial, "The Thing of a Thousand Shapes," which began fairly well in this issue and ended with a thud in the next.

Publisher J. C. Henneberger was an admirer of Edgar Allan Poe's works.  After a number of well-regarded writers told him privately that they seldom write fantastic stories because there was no true market for them, Henneberger decided to start one, giving it the subtitle "The Unique Magazine."  The first Weird Tales editor was Edwin Baird, who published early stories by H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and Seabury Quinn, as well as stories by Frank Owen and Vincent Starrett.  Other writers, such as Francis Stevens and Austin Hall, found that Baird was receptive to their unpublished, trunk stories.  "The Loved Dead" by C. M. Eddy, Jr. (actually written by Lovecraft), gained notoriety in 1924 for touching on the subject of necrophilia while gaining a (mostly apocryphal) reputation for having forced the issue to be banned.

The magazine's second editor, Farnsworth Wright ("Farnie the Rat" according to HPL, because of his typically slow payment) started off with Frank Belknap Long and Greye La Spina in his first issue.  Other authors introduced during his reign included Conan's Robert E. Howard, E. Hoffman Price, August /Derleth, Donald Wandrei, Manley wade Wellman, Nictzin Dyalhis, Donald Wandrei, Robert Bloch, C. L. Moore, Henry Kuttner, Henry S. Whitehead, G. G. Pendarves, and many other legendary names.  Wright also improved the look of the magazine, making it far more attractive and introducing such artists as Margaret Brundage, J. Allan St. John, Hannes Bok, and Virgil Finley, among others.  Wright also lessened the amount of science fiction tales in the magazine while at the same being receptive to almost any type of  "unique" story; Edmond Hamilton, for instance, began sending many of his SF stories to other markets while reserving Weird Tales for his pure fantasy stories.  Wright also would publish controversial stories once in a while, realizing that a bit of controversy is healthy for a magazine; this was sometimes done reluctantly -- he once held one of E. Hoffman Price's stories (in which Christ meets Satan) for six months before publishing it.  .Under Wright the entire quality of the magazine improved although the quality of many stories remained mediocre.  Overall though, there were enough excellent writers and stories to make the magazine's legendary status secure.

After Wright's death, the magazine fell to Dorothy MacIlwraith, who concurrently edited Short Stories.  Authors represented during MacIlwraith's term included Ray Bradbury, Fritz Leiber, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, Joseph Payne Brennan, Theodore Sturgeon, and Richard Matheson.  Artist Lee Brown Coye was also heavily featured.  A limited budget and growing competition hindered McIlwraith and her tenure was considered by some to be not as successful as Farnworth's, although others feel the overall quality of the magazine improved.  In November 1954, Weird Tales closed its doors, presumably for good.

During the Fifties and Sixties, the magazine's reputation grew as fantasy and science fiction became a viable market for both paperbound and hardcover books.  Individual stories from Weird Tales were reprinted in anthologies, Weird Tales authors (previously limited to publishing houses such as Arkham House) had collections issued, and several anthologies featured only stories from the magazine.

Publisher Leo Margulies had acquired rights to Weird Tales in the Fifties, but plans to relaunch the magazine did not come into fruition until the summer of 1973, when the magazine was reborn, mainly as a curiosity.  Edited by Sam Moskowitz, the new incarnation creaked through four issue before being closed.

Robert Weinberg bought the rights to Weird Tales from the Margulies estate and licensed them to Lin Carter, who then revised the magazine into a quarterly paperback anthology from Zebra Books.  Carter, a talented editor and imitative writer, brought out only four issues.

In 1984, Brian Forbes tried to publish another incarnation of Weird Tales.  Muddled management, poor finances, and even poorer distribution killed this version after two issues.

Weinberg then licensed the magazine to Terminus Publishing, a group formed by George H. Scithers, John Gregory Betancourt, and Darrell Schweitzer.  Their version of Weird Tales was attractively packaged, smartly edited, and marketed to direct subscribers and specialty stores.  Hardcover versions of each issue were also available.  Each of the early issues spotlighted an important author in the field:  Robert Bloch, Ramsey Campbell, Gene Wolfe, Tanith Lee, Keith Taylor, Avram Davidson, and others.  After the Spring 1994 issue (featuring artist Phil Parks), Terminus lost the license to the magazine but continued publishing under the title Worlds of Fantasy & Horror -- essentially Weird Tales under a different title.  Four issues of this magazine appeared between 1994 and 1996.

Weird Tales returned in 1998 under the editorship of Scithers and Schweitzer, published by DNA Publications, but struggled financially.  Betancourt in the meantime had formed Wildside Press and joined as a co-publisher of the magazine beginning with the July/August 2003 issue.

Wildside Press bought the magazine in 2005 and, with Scithers and Schweitzer once again joining Betancourt as editors, began publishing in September 2005.   The Magazine That Would Not Die was revamped in 2007 with Stephan H. Segal as the editorial director.  Ann Vandermeer, fiction editor under Segal, became the magazine's editor in 2010.  Betancourt sold the magazine the following year to Nth Dimension media with Marvin Kaye as editor; this incarnation lasted until 2014 with issue #362.  In late 2009, the magazine was once again revived with Jonathan Maberry as editorial director and issue #363 was sold only through the magazine's website.  The quality of the magazine fell distinctly since 2007 and it suffered from several controversies involving editorship.

Despite its rocky history, Weird Tales remains both in history and fact one of the most important fantasy and horror magazines ever.  All issues of Weird Tales through the Dorothy McIlwraith years are available to view online, as are many of the subsequent issues.


  • Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois, editors, Unicorns.  Fantasy reprint anthology with fifteen stories.  (Yes, one -- Frank Owen's "The Unicorn" -- is reprinted from Weird Tales.)  Authors include Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. Le Guin, Theodore Sturgeon, Roger Zelazny, T. H. White, Larry Niven, and Vonda McIntyre.  A good mix of familiar and not-so-familiar stories dating from 1939 to 1982.
  • Suzanne Marrs & Tom Nolan, editors, Meanwhile There Are Letters:  The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross MacDonald.   Marrs is the expert on Welty and has published three earlier books on the writer.  Nolan is the expert on MacDonald; he has edited several books by MacDonald and his biography of MacDonald won the Macavity Award and was nominated for both the Edgar and the Anthony Awards.  Just skimming through the volume I could tell the book is magical.  "Across barriers of gender, background, region, and literary practice, two writers extend the gift of friendship to one another.  The result is literature itself."  -- Kevin Starr, The University of Oklahoma
  • April Genevieve Tucholke, editor, Slasher Girls & Monster Boys. YA horror anthology with fourteen stories.  Authors whose names I recognized are Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Jonathan Maberry, and Carrie Ryan.  The book is attractively packed.  I expect the stories to be pretty good.

Time for a Change?:  Lee Child, author of the best-selling Jack Reacher novels, has decided to stop writing the series.  Rather than killing off the character (something which child considered) Child is passing the authorial torch to his brother Jim Grant, already an established thriller writer.  The times they are a-changin'.

Stoogemania:  Thi week marks the 80th anniversary of You Nazty Spy, the first Hollywood film to satired Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party.  While I am not as big a fan of The Three Stooges as some people, I think Larry, Moe, and Curly did some mighty fine work on this 18-minute short.  See for yourself:

Florida Woman:  Combining the Adventures of Florida Woman with People at Walmart comes the tale of Emily Stallard, 37, who was arrested for making a homemade bomb in a Tampa Walmart using only the materials available in the store.  This do-it-yourself project resulted in a nail bomb in a mason jar that Stallard was about to light as store security and an off-duty police officer swooped in.  Stallard was arrested for attempted arson, fire bombing, child abuse (she had her young son with her), and battery of a police officer.

Yesterday, Leigh Lundin of the SleuthSlayers blog imagined how it all happened.  Leigh's "reconstruction" of the crime indicates he has far too great a knowledge of Walmart.

I read the News Today, O Boy:  O boy, o boy, o boy...Dog the Bounty Hunter reveals that he's broke: medical costs for his late wife's illness, the lack of a TV contract, and supporting his 12 children, 11 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren have left a hole in his finances...Also less wealthy than before are Harry and Megan who have given up their royal funding and have agreed to repay 3 million pounds in taxpayer money that had been used to refurbish their official residence at Windsor Castle.  No longer "working royals," the couple have also lost their royal titles.  Prince Charles has indicated that he will provide some private monetary support for the couple.  Looks like going on the dole is not in the cards...The first official "Space Force" uniforms have been revealed.  The jungle camouflage uniforms will blend in nicely in the blackness of space...The National Archives blurred images of the anti-Trump wording on signs in a photo of the 2017 Woman's March.  Following an outcry, the image has been removed from display...Us officials are not only confident that the number of separated children at the border is 4,368, they are "highly confident"...President Trump, speaking privately to donors at his Mar-a-Lago resort, gave details of the raid that killed Iranian general Soleimani.  Trump did not mention imminent strikes against US embassies among the reasons he called for the strike.  Trump also railed against environmental protections that are hindering his border wall, saying kill all the turtles and rattlesnakes...As the impeachment trail grows closer more details are beginning to come out, some of which appear to implicate Attorney General Barr, Vice President Pence, and Republican Representative Devan Nunes.  Mitch McConnell has already betrayed the oath he took as an impeachment juror to judge the proceedings impartially and a former Bush administration ethics officer said that this makes McConnell guilty of perjury.  McConnell continues to spread the canard that the trial is a political one and not a legal one.  Evidently the Speaker of the House is unfamiliar with the Constitution,,,Australia continues to burn...The Florida Supreme Court rules in favor of making felons pay off their fines before getting their voting rights restored -- something I feel goes against the intent of the electorate when it voted to restore a felon's right to vote...The Trump administration is rolling back on Obama-era regulations on school lunch programs...Winter storms are causing havoc across the country...and so it goes...

Happy, Happy:  In good news this week:

"Three things in human life are important.  The first is to be kind.  The second is to be kind.  The third is to be kind." -- Henry James

Today's Poem:
Forgive Me

Sometimes I come too soon
Like I came into this world
Or sometimes too late
Like I loved you at this age

I am always late for happiness
I always go to misery too soon
Either everything has already come to an end
Or nothing has started yet

I am at a step of life that is
Too soon to die, too late to love
I am latte again, forgive me my love
I am on the verge of love, but death is closer.

-- Aziz Nesin (1915-1995)
(translated from the Turkish)

Sunday, January 19, 2020


It's been 100 years to the day that the American Civil Liberties union was formed.  Sometimes lionized, sometimes vilified, the ACLU has remained a steadfast pillar in the fight for liberty and human rights.

From Wikiedia:

"The ACLU was founded in 1920 by a committee including Helen Keller, Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, Walter Nelles, Morris Ernst, Albert DeSilver, Arthur Garfield Hayes, Jane Addams, Felix Frankfurter. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, and Rose Schneiderman.  Its focus was on freedom of speech, primarily for anti-war protesters.  During the 1920s, the ACLU expanded its scope to include protecting the free speech rights of artists and striking workers, and working with The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to decrease racism and discrimination.  During the 1930s, the ACLU started to engage in work combating police misconduct and supporting Native American rights.  Many of the ACLU's cases involved the defense of Communist Party members and Jehovah's Witnesses.  In 1940, the ACLU leadership voted to exclude communists from its leadership positions, a decision rescinded in 1968.  During World War II, the ACLU defended Japanese-American citizens, unsuccessfully trying to prevent their forcible relocation to interment camps.  During the Cold War, the ACLU headquarters were dominated by a anti-communists, but many local affiliates defended members of the Communist Party.

"By 1964, membership had risen to 80,000, and the ACLU participated in efforts to expand civil liberties.  In the 1960s, the ACLU continued its decades-long effort to enforce separation of church and state.  It defended several anti-war activists during the Vietnam War.  The ACLU was involved in the Miranda case, which addressed conduct by police during interrogations. and in the New York Times case, which established new protections for newspapers reporting on government activities.  In the 1970s and 1980s, the ACLU ventured into new legal areas, involving the rights of homosexuals, students, protesters, and the poor.  In the twenty-first century, the ACLU has fought the teaching of creationism in public schools and challenged some provisions of anti-terrorism legislation as infringing on privacy and civil liberties.  Fundraising and membership spiked after the 2016 election; the ACLU's current membership is more than 1.2 million."

Some of the ACLU's stands have not been popular, but that is what can happen when one is standing for a principle.


The Jubalaires.

Saturday, January 18, 2020


Carl & Jay Perkins, with Lloyd Perkins on bass and "Fluke" Holland on drums.  This is the good stuff.


The Montana Kid is really Kid Montana, whose name was switched around on the cover of issue 344 (January 1964).  The change was for the cover only -- the indicia and the stories continued to call the hero Kid Montana.  Why?  Who knows?

The comic book started out as Davy Crockett, Frontier Fighter, cashing in on the popularity of the Disney character portrayed by Fess Parker.  Since Davy Crockett was a real-life person, there was nothing to stop Charlton Comics from using the name for one of their own comic books.  As fads fade, so did the marketability of Davy Crockett, so Charlton changed the book with issue #9 (November 1957) to Kid Montana and introduced a completely new hero.  Wait.  Did I say "completely new"?  The name and image may have been new but the concept was pretty old hat -- a man is wrongly accused of being an outlaw, yet he travels the west doing good things and helping people.

Charlton editor Par Masulli created the character; Rocke Mastroserio was the original artist.  In late 1961 Pete Morisi took over the artist's chair, aging the Kid by giving him gray streaks in his hair (a la Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four).

Montana Kid/Kid Montana lasted longer than other western comic book characters, making his last appearance in March 1965 (issue #50).

Issue #47 features two adventures of the Kid.

"The Hostage" has Kid Montana hired as a meat-hunter for the cavalry.  While elk hunting with Colonel Mike O'Dowd the pair are attacked by Sioux Indians, and O'Dowd is captured while Kid Montana is left unconscious on the frozen ground.  O'Dowd is loved by his men but is hated by the Sioux.  O'Dowd's men suspect the Kid was involved the colonel's capture.  The Kid has to lead the army's hunt for O'Dowd while preventing rash officers from leading them into a trap, as well as preventing the army from blaming and punishing him.

The "New King of Brimstone" is Kid Montana.  Brimstone was a robber's roost, led by the brutal Abe Kincaid.  When the Kid rode into town, he was challenged by Kincaid but the Kid's gun was faster.  The outlaws in the town called the Kid their new king and, as such, the Kid was entitled to a share of all the illegal loot and goods in the town.  The owlhoots did not realize that the Kid had been sent investigate the activity in Brimstone by Sheriff John Baker.  Now the worst of the outlaws plan to attack Reed City and it's up to "King" Montana stop the gang and avoid innocent bloodshed.

Also in this issue is "An Invalid Dies," a five page tale that has supposed invalid come west to die so that his family might be spared sorrow.  Cruelly left alone in the wild by his evil cousin, Gerald Watkins learns that he is not as much an invalid as he thinks.  From fending off a pack of wolves to becoming a fierce hunter and fighter, he finds his true self.

Enjoy this issue.  It's pretty predictable but also pretty entertaining.

Friday, January 17, 2020


Neil Sedaka.


Outside the Universe by Edmond Hamilton (1929, 1964)

Edmond ("World Wrecker") Hamilton (1904-1977) was one of the founders of the old-fashioned, galaxy-spanning space opera.  Both Hamilton and his good friend Jack Williamson helped blaze the path that led to E. E. "Doc" Smith's equally wide-ranging but somewhat more cohesive Skylark and Lensmen novels.  Hamilton began publishing with "The Monster-God of Mamurth" in 1926 and continued into the 1970s.  In the middle of his career much of his work was in juvenile SF with th Captain Future series of adventures which he originated in 1940 and continued through 1951.  Captain Future was based on an idea by magazine editor Mort Weisinger, who then moved over to DC Comics and took Hamilton and several other writers with him.  There, Hamilton worked on Superman, Batman, and others. He created many of the characters and tropes for both caped heroes, including their first team-up. (Perhaps most notably perhaps, to internet surfers anyway, Hamilton wrote the story in which the popular internet meme of Batman slapping Robin appeared.)  Hamilton's SF writing in the Fifties and beyond. became more polished and more well-plotted than his earlier work.  Although he still concentrated on planetary adventure and space opera, Hamilton managed to bring it to a more sophisticated audience.  His versatility and talent beyond his standard tropes became evident in a number of sophisticated, emotional tales.  Hamilton wrote to entertain, something he did in spades over six decades.

Although his very first stories were well-received, Hamilton began getting major recognition in the field with "Crashing Suns" (1928), the first story in his Interstellar Patrol series.  Man has joined the many races of the Galaxy in an organization of Federated Suns, with the Interstellar Patrol being part of the justice divisions of the Galaxy.  Here we get to have adventures limited only by Hamilton's imagination -- distant planets, strange beings, interstellar threats, the fates of entire worlds...all laid out in exciting prose to capture the reader's sense of wonder.  Outside the Universe was the only novel in the series and its a darned good one.  It first appeared as a four-part serial in Weird Tales magazine and was eventually published by Don Wollheim's Ace Books as a paperback in 1964 and can also be found in 2009's The Collected Edmond Hamilton, Volume Two:  The Star-Stealers:  The Complete Tales of the Interstellar Patrol*.

The first thing you have to do is jettison your senses of logic and science.  In these pages pseudoscience rules:  things are the way they are because the author says they are.  In this melieu, a galaxy is considered a universe, so traveling to other universes is simply (simply, hah!) traveling to another galaxy.  Also, because super-science says it's so, some ships can travel at a speed of over a million light years.  Relativity ain't relative in space opera.

Our three heroes are Dur Nal, the human Captain of Patrol Squadron 598-77, and his two associates,Korus Kan and Jhul Din.  "Korus Kan, of Antares, was of the metal-bodied races of that star's countless worlds, his brain and heart and nervous systems and vital organs encased in an upright body of gleaming metal whose powerful triple arms and triple legs were immune to all fatigue, and from whose ball-like upper brain-chamber or head his triangle of three keen eyes looked forth.  Jhul Din, too, was as patently of Spica, of the crustacean people of that sun's planets, with his big, erect body armored in hard black shell, his two mighty upper arms and two lower legs short and thick and stiff, while from his shiny black conical head protruded his twin round eyes.  Drawn as the members of our crew were, from every peopled star in the galaxy, there was yet nostranger or more dissimilar shapes among them than these two..."

Our heroes are on patrol at the galaxy's rim when thousands of strange ships from the galactic void descend and attack.

"Even as we swerved, though, there leapt from the foremost of the up-rushing craft a pale broad beam of ghostly white light that stabbed upward and past us, grazing our ship, and that struck the foremost of the ships of our squadron behind us.  I saw the broad beam strike that ship squarely, saw it playing on it and through it, and for a moment could see not effect apparent.  Then, as the great pale beam played across the ship in a swift slicing sweep, I saw that as it shone through that ship's pilot room the figures inside it suddenly vanished!  The next moment the ship had suddenly driven crazily into space, whirling blindly away without occupant and crew, all life in it wiped out instantly from existence by that terrible death-beam that had played through it!  Now the attacking ships were leaping up toward us, flashing up lightning-like with ghostly beams of death whirling and stabbing about and toward us..."

The battle is joined by the main force of the Interstellar Patrol, but the deadly invaders are proving too much for them.  Dur Nal's ship is badly damaged but manages to land on top of one of the invading ships.  He, his lieutenants, and his remaining men gain access to the alien ship and are amazed to discover what the invaders were.

"Serpent people!  Long, slender shapes of wriggling pale flesh, each perhaps ten feet in length and a foot in diameter, without arms and legs of any kind, writhing swiftly from place to place snakelike, and coiling an end of their strange bodies about any object they wished to grip.  Each end of the long, cylindrical bodies were squarely cut off, as it were, in in one such flat end of each were the only features -- a pair of bulging, many-lensed eyes like those of an insect, big and glassy and unwinking, and a small black opening below that was the only orifice for their breathing.  These were the beings who had come from outer space to attack our universe!  These were the beings who had annihilated the galaxy's fleet and were preparing now to seize the galaxy itself."

Hundreds of these serpent-beings attack our heroes.  At the end of that bloody fight, the serpent people were dead, along with much of Dar Nal's crew.  Korus Kan is able (dunno how) to pilot the utterly alien ship back to the Interstellar Patrol's home base, where eventually a bit of alien writing was able to be translated (dunno how).  It told of the serpent people's home galaxy dying, with only a few remaining stars left, and how the serpent people, determined to save their race, readied mighty ships to conquer a neighboring galaxy, wipe out all life there, and settle in their place.  To this end, a scouting fleet of thousands were sent to the Andromeda galaxy, but were driven back by that galaxy's natives.  (Andromeda was the nearest to their home galaxy.  Because their galaxy consisted of mainly dark, dead stars it was hidden and completely unknown to us.) They then turned to our galaxy.

The serpent people had ships and weapons far advanced from our galaxy's science, yet the Andromedans were even further advanced -- so much so that the serpent people did not dare attack them.   Now the serpent people have settled on the planets around Canopus at our galactic rim, waiting for their main force to come to complete the conquest of our galaxy.  The only hope our galaxy has is to take the stolen alien ship to Andromeda and persuade those inhabitants to come to
our aid.  Our three heroes (with an expanded crew) were chosen for that mission.

Alas, as they approached Andromeda they were captured by the serpent people and taken to their dark galaxy.  In case you are wondering if their galaxy was populated by races other than the serpent people, it was once.  The serpent people keep the few survivors of the other races in a state of suspended animated, presumably for experiments and probably just for the fun of it.  Our heroes learn the serpent people are working on a giant ray that can destroy all life on a planet in a single shot; once this ray is completed, the entire serpent galaxy will begin the conquering of our galaxy.

Of course our heroes escape and, despite many harrowing battles with fleets of serpent-people ships, make it to Andromeda.  The Andromedans are peopled by gaseous people.  (No, they did not live on beans, but were actual columns of gas.)  Their technology has allowed them to reconfigure their galaxy into many circular rings of stars with thousands of planets orbiting inside the rings.  Yep, they have ships that can move stars around.  They decided to help in the fight against the snake people and (dunno why) they place Dur Nal in charge of their fleet of tens of thousands of ships.

Epic battles ensue.  And ensue.  And ensue.

All this may sound a bit repetitive, but the actions scenes are well-done, as are the many cliff-hangers.  The thirteen-year-old boy inside of me was thrilled.  If you are interested into dipping into a good, old-fashioned, sense-of-wonder space opera, you may be thrilled, too.

*  Highly recommended.

Thursday, January 16, 2020


Happy birthday, Jim Stafford!


From September 10, 1951, Bob Hope and Lucille Ball star in the radio adaptation of their 1950 film Fancy Pants, which in turn was an adaptation of the thrice-filmed Ruggles of Red Gap (from the 1915 novel by Harry Leon Wilson.

Hope is an actor impersonating an English butler and is hired by woman to help refine her husband and daughter, with Ball playing the daughter.  Complications ensue when the town believes Hope is actually an English earl.  And then there's the impending visit from FDR.  Adapted by S. H. Barnett and directed by Earl Ebi, Fancy Pants is an enjoyable little comedy.

Check it out.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


The Grateful Dead.


Okay, the answer to this is pretty obvious but when you die, what part of the body dies last?

Everyone knows the pupil dilate.

(hat tip to Jonco's Bits & Pieces blog)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020


I haven't read Ken Bruen's latest Jack Taylor novel Galway Girl yet.  To prepare myself here's Steve Earle's song of the same title.


"It's a well known fact that cannibals differ from the rest of us in their dietary customs."

Anyone who makes that statement has to be a great detective, right?  In this case the great detective is Thatcher Colt, the New York City police commissioner who was featured in eight popular detective novels and to short stories written by Fulton Oursler under the pseudonym "Anthony Abbott"from 1930 to 1943.  In this case, the film was based on the Liberty magazine serial (Oursler was the editor of Liberty at the time) rather than the published 1932 novel About the Murder of a Circus Lady.

Oursler was an interesting character who would late gain fame as the author of The Greatest Story Ever Told, followed by The Greatest Book Ever Written and The Greatest Faith Ever Known.  Raised in a devout Baptist family, he became an agnostic at age 15 and a few years later became a reporter, then moving on to becomes a magazine editor and general writer.  In the 1920s Oursler was helping Harry Houdini expose phony mediums.  Before Thatcher Colt came on the scene, Oursler was best known for the twice filmed stage play The Spider (1928, written with Lowell Brentano).  In 1935 be began writing A Skeptic in the Holy Land (1936), about a tour of the Middle East and the Holy Land.  He said that he began the book as a skeptic but by the final chapter he was "almost converted." Oursler began to have a growing interest in Christian ethics, especially with the rise of Fascism and Communism, which led to the writing of The Greatest Story Ever Told (1949).  In 1943, six years before the book was published, he joined the Catholic faith.

The above paragraph has nothing to do with the film in question, but I thought it was interesting.

Adolphe Menjou starred as Thatcher Colt -- his second outing in the role, having played the detective in The Nightclub Lady the year before.  Menjou (The Front Page, Little Miss Marker, Father Takes a Wife) began his film career as an extra in 1914 and had over 150 film and television credits through 1961.  Known for his suave manner and impeccable dress, Menjou elevated almost every role he had.

Playing Thatcher Colt's secretary Miss Kelly is Ruthelma Stevens, who had originated the role in The Nightclub Lady (which was also Miss Stevens' first film).

Colt, needing a brief respite from the office after six years of fighting crime, head to the quiet upstate town of Gilead with Miss Kelly.  "But when a small time circus rolls into town they soon find themselves caught up in a sordid tale of marital infidelity, murder, cruelty to animals, and cannibalism."  (How I would have loved to be in the pitch meeting for this movie.)

The soon-to-be-dead circus queen is Greta Nissen, a heavily accented Norwegian actress who starred in Howard Hughes unreleased silent version of Hell's Angels; because of her accent she was replaced in the sound version of the film by Jean Harlow.  In incomparable Dwight Frye (ever in my heart as Renfrew in Dracula) is Flandrin, the jealous husband.   Donald Cook (Baby Face, Show Boat, The Public Enemy) plays The Great Sebastian, the third side of the triangle. 

The Circus Queen Murder is a neat little atmospheric time passer directed by Roy William Neill (Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, Doctor Syn, the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films).  Jo Swerling adapted Oursler story.  Swerling had a long career writing for films and the stage.  He was one of the many uncredited writers working on Gone With the Wind and provided additional scenes for It's a Wonderful Life.  He was nominated for an Oscar for The Pride of the Yankees and won a Tony for co-writing Guys and Dolls.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy this entertaining flick.

Monday, January 13, 2020


This has got to be the Austin Lounge Lizards, right?


Openers:  Lofty volcanic plateaus frowned east and west of the torrid lowlands.  The heat had formed a veil of mist over the wide river that wound sluggishly along the heart of the valley, and to the south, behind a long arm of the sea, hung a dim blue bank of storm clouds.  Far to the north, faintly silhouetted in mauve infinity, the great shoulders of the barren uplands marked the head of the basin.

Near the plateau rims the jungle thinned to rolling plains, threaded by tortuous arroyos, dotted by ox-like bison and diminutive desert horses.  Here roved the fierce bird beast, the diatryma, seven feet tall, with beak as long as a crocodile's jaws; here, too, was the haunt of the horn-armored glyptodon, the giant armadillo of the prehistoric Americas.

-- Richard Tooker, The Day of the Brown Horde (1929)

Prehistoric romance was a popular sub-genre in early science fiction, often featuring discoveries of technology or weaponry or the battle of prehistoric men against other, less developed, human species.  As a cousin of the lost-race race story so often found in the works of Burroughs, Haggard, and others, the prehistoric romance found its niche -- rightly or wrongly -- in science fiction.  H. G. Wells ("A Story of the Stone Age," "The Grisly Folks"), Bulwer Lytton, Andrew Lang, and others did much to cement its place there.  An argument can be -- and has been -- made that this particular form of imaginative fiction could not have been possible before the acceptance of Charles Darwin's theories on evolution.

Tooker's The Day of the Brown Horde was a popular addition to the sub-genre and became even more popular after it was the feature novel in the September 1944 issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries.  Other early examples were James DeMille's A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder (1888),  Jack London's Before Adam (1907), Irwin Crump's stories about Og, Son of Fire (1925, with additional books as well as a popular series of at least eleven stories in Boy's Life), and J. H. Aine Rosny's Le felin geant (1920; translated as The Giant Cat, 1924, and as Quest of the Dawn Man,1964).  A more modern variant is Jim Kjelgaard's Fire-Hunter (1951).

Variants on the theme touch on lost races.  In one of Manly Wade Wellman's Hok stories, his hero visits Atlantis.  William L. Chester's Kioga series takes place on an island above the Arctic circle.  Perhaps being contrary, Charles B. Stilson set his Polaris series in the Antarctic.

Of course, you can't have a science fiction sub-genre without having some time travel thrown in.  J. Leslie Mitchell's Three Go Back and Evan Hunter's (as "Richard Marston) Find the Feathered Serpent and Danger:  Dinosaurs are good examples.  (Yes, dinosaurs do appear in some prehistoric romances -- what are you going to do?)  Chad Oliver's The Mists of Dawn is a juvenile with a solid anthropological background.

The theme is also evident in popular film.  2001:  A Space Odyssey opens with a prehistoric scene.  One Million B.C., Prehistoric Women, and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth add to the nadir of this film genre.  Doctor Who has made it to prehistoric times and Fred Flintstone is the epitome of anachronism on television.

Modern examples of prehistoric romance include William Golding's The Inheritors, Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear sequence, Katherine O'Neal Gear and J. Michael Gear's long running "People" series (at least 18 books beginning in 1990 and counting), Megan Lindholm's the Reindeer People (1988), and William Sarabande began a long-running exploration of pre-history with Wolves of the Dawn (1986).

Harry Harrison's Eden series (West of Eden, Winter in Eden, and Return to England) adds a brilliant modern-day alternate world riff to the prehistoric romance.

For those interested, this is a fertile literary are to explore.  The link below takes you to an exhaustive (but by no means, complete) list of prehistoric fiction:


  • "Francis Beeding" (Hilary St George Sanders & John Palmer), The Norwich Victims (1935).  Mystery novel.  "a middle-aged schoolteacher wins the French lottery and looks around for somewhere safe to invest her prize.  Unfortunately for her she decides to consult the unscrupulous John Throgmorton, and he seizes a once in a lifetime opportunity.  This ingenious police procedural features Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Martin."  This edition is an Arcturus Publishing "Crime Classic," and features photographs of models representing five of the main characters.  The authors collaborated on nearly forty mystery novels, including the classic Death Walks in Eastrepps and The House of Dr. Edwardes, which was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock as SpellboundThe Norwich Victims was the first of three books featuring Inspector George Martin.
  • D. M. Devine, The Sleeping Tiger (1961).  Mystery novel, another reprint from Acturas Publishing's "Classic Crime" series.  "A guilty verdict against solicitor John Prescott seems inevitable.  The history presented by the prosecuting counsel reveals fateful meetings, and the rupturing of relationships in a small town shattered by violent death,  Prescott is powerless in the face of overwhelming evidence against him.  And yet some one else, one of the witnesses, must have been the killer.  But which one?"  Devine was the author of thirteen crime novels, and was noted for his superb plotting and for his "classic" detective style.  He was one of Agatha Christie's favorite authors (she had nominated his first novel as winner of a Collins Crime Club contest).  His books were centered in Glascow and usually involved either academic or medical settings,  His last seven novels, beginning with The Sleeping Tiger, were published as by Dominic Devine.
  • John Zakour, The Sapphire Sirens (2009).  Humorous science fiction detective novel. "My life is full of questions...Such as:  why have I been knocked out by the beautiful sapphire-haired amazon Kiana and man-napped to her home isle of Lantis, a forcefield-hidden ocean queendom of exactly 10,000 women, all of whom can dominate men with their minds?  Well, partly because Kiana's mother, the queen, was murdered, and their "utopia" society isn't prepared to deal with such a crime without an expert.  but mostly, I think, it's because I'm Zachery Nixon Johnson, the world's last freelance P.I., and the universe just loves to mess with me.  There I was with my holographic A.I. sidekick HARV, and the royal family of Lantis said they needed us to sniff out the gal who snuffed out the queen.  But something didn't smell right, and it wasn't just a plumbing problem at the public baths.  Because while the similarity if Kiana's sisters -- Luca the kindly social worker, Mara the hyper scientist, and Andra the aggressive warrior security chief -- ended with their sapphire hair, each could have a motive for the murder.  And since you mentioned it, Kiana could, too..."  The Sapphire Sirens is the seventh and (so far) last of the Zach Johnson novels, the first three of which were written with Lawrence Ganem.  (A short story, "The Peach-Blonde Bomber," by-lined by Ganem and Zakour was published as a chapbook in 2018 by JABberwocky Literary Agency; no further information.)

Mayonnaise Jello?:  I think I just lost my appetite.  Mayonnaise jello is just one of many bad-bad-BAD recipes that were pushed in the not-so fabulous Fifties.  The secret is in using Knox unflavored gelatine so you get the full mayonnaise flavor.  Yum?  Check out this and other unsavory recipes brought to you by food companies hoping to expand their markets:

But wait!  There are far worse things, including fizzy 7-Up milk!

I hope you don't think I'm letting you easy.  There's also this --  a bologna cake, and more!

Two Years, Already?:  It was just two years ago that Hawaii (and rest of the world) was thrown into a panic when a false emergency alert warning of a missile strike was issued.  Let's hope that any future alerts will also be false.  But in the current political climate...

Things I Didn't Know, a.k.a. Things I Didn't Want to Know:  This past Saturday we watched an old (1996) episode of Poltergeist:  The Legacy with Helen Shaver as Rachel Corrigan.  There's one scene in which Shaver is seduced by a demon and **blush** there's nudity.  The one thing I now know and really didn't want to know or even need to know:  Supergirl has nipples!  Shatter my childhood illusions, why don't you?

He's Still at It, That Rascally Ol' Florida Man:  Florida Man Akbar Akram, 44, has pled guilty to illegally smuggling more 20 monitor lizards from the Phillipines to the United States -- in socks!   Akram stuffed the lizards into socks -- one sock per lizard, I presume -- and sealed each sock, placing them in boxes of electronic equipment so they would not be found.  

Florida Man Kelvin Conlon, 19, was arrested for animal cruelty for flinging a cat by its tail.  (Our cat Willow thinks this is horrid; the spirit of Rosie, our long-ago Manx cat tells me that that is what you get if you are stupid enough to have a tail!)

Rick Wilson a long-time Republican activist and consultant from Tallahassee, has released his second anti-Donald Trump tome.  Running Against the Devil doesn't have as much punch as the title of his first anti-Trump screed, Everything Trump Touches Dies.  Other Republicans in this reliably pro-Trump part of the state are upset with Wilson. Which brings up the question:  Are Trumo supporters Republicans?  And, if so, whatever happened to the moderately sane Republicans?

Florida Man David Wayne Aring, an attorney for a  Florida  regulatory agency, was arrested on ten felony counts of possessing counts of child pornography and one misdemeanor count of possession of obscene materials.  What was his agency regulating?

Florida Man Group Florida Citizens Alliance, a conservative group that has the ear of Governor Ron Desantis, is urging the state to prosecute schools over books with sex and LGBTQ references.

And (not even) Florida Man Company Advantage Capital apparently helped to draft a $25 million plan that would supposedly rural and hurricane-stricken areas in the state, although it will mainly benefit financial firms such as Advantage Capitol.  Advantage Capital is headquartered in Louisiana but has been instrumental in drafting similar legislature in many states.

Good News:

"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." -- Mohammed Ali

Today's Poem:  

There is a silence in the world 
Since we have said farewell;
And beauty with an alien speech
An alien tale.would tell.

There is a silence in the world,
Which is not peace nor quiet;
Ever I seek to flee therefrom,
And walk the ways of riot.

But when I hear the music moan
In rooms of thronging laughter,
A tongueless demon drives me forth,
And silence follows after.

-- Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961)

Smith, along with H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, was one of the three major fantasists of the Weird Tales school.  As a protege of George Sterling, he was also a recognized poet dubbed "The last of the great Romantics."  Today would have been his 127th birthday.