Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, February 29, 2020


The "Paradox" Trio -- Frederic (Rex Smith), The Pirate King (Kevin Kline), and Ruth (Angela Lansbury) -- from Act II of The Pirates of Penzance.

Frederic (sadly) was apprenticed to a pirate band until his 21st birthday.  {Alas and alack) Frederic was born on February 29, 1856 and, because he was a Leap Year Day baby, he will not 21 until February 29, 1940 (horrors!).  In typical Gilbert and Sullivan fashion, the lot thickens.



The official name of this comic book is United Comics but the cover emblazons Fritzi Ritz.  And who is Fritzi Ritz? I hear some of the younger whippersnappers ask.  She started off as a flapper in a comic strip created by Larry Whittington in 1922.  Whittington left after three years to be replaced by a young (20-years-old!) Ernie Bushmiller, who soon began to model Fritzi on his then fiancee (and later wife) Abby Bonhet.  Fritzi live with her father and aunt (who was later retrofitted to become her mother!), eventually gaining employment as an actress working for Star Studios where her boss was Mr. Blobbs.  Fritzi's first boyfriend was Ted, an impoverished guy, although rich Bobby Bonds kept trying to date her.

When Bushmiller took over the strip, Fritzi gained a new boyfriend, Wally.  In 1933, Fritzi's niece Nancy appeared and comic strip history was made.  Eventually Nancy took over the strip and in 1938 Sluggo Smith was introduced and the daily strip was renamed Nancy.  Poor Fritzi Ritz faded ito the background for a while.  When Guy and Brad Gilchrist took over the strip, Fritzi once more gained an important role in the strip.  She also gained a new boyfriend, Phil Fumble, who at one time (beginning in 1931) had his own Sunday strip.  In the last of the Gilchrist's strips, Fritzi and Phil got married.

In 1918, Olivia Jaimes rebooted Nancy and brought back Fritzi Ritz as Nancy's unmarried guardian.

Fritzi Ritz/United Comics #17 not only reprinted Sunday Fritzi Ritz strips, but also published two other United Feature syndicate strips -- Russell Patterson's Mamie (which ran from 1951 to 1956; "a flapper strip that somehow wandered into the wrong decade," according to comics historian Maurice Horn) and Raeburn Van Buren's Abbie an' Slats (1937 to 1971, with J. Pierpoint "Bathless" Groggins coming center stage in later years.)

Nothing truly exciting here, although Patterson's artwork is stunningly detailed and Bathless Groggins is always a treat.  As for Fritzi Ritz, she'll always come second to Nancy.

Enjoy these samples of Sunday morning comic strip entertainment.

Friday, February 28, 2020


Google has reminded me that today is Sir John Tenniel's 200th birthday.  So...


Fireside Mystery Book, edited by Frank Owen (1947)

This is the third of three older collections of mystery stories I have read in recent weeks.  More than a  little bit less than the massive doorstop anthologies (The Mystery Book and A Second Century of Creepy Stories), Fireside Mystery Book weighs in at just over 300 pages, compared to the thousand page-plus of the other two.

Owen (1893-1968) published a number of early novels as by "Roswell Williams," leading some to mistake the pseudonym as his real name.  As Owen he is best known for his oriental fantasies, many of which appeared or were reprinted in Weird Tales and have been collected in such books as Pale Pink Porcelain, The Wind That Tramps the World, The Purple Sea, Della Wu. Chinese Courtesan, and The Porcelain Magician.  In addition to Fireside Mystery Book, Owen edited Murder for Millions (1946) and Teen-Age Mystery Stories (1948).

The twenty stories in Fireside Mystery Stories are sourced mainly from the pulps and the slicks of the 1930s and 1940s.  The quality ranges from the very good to the serviceable.  Top marks go to Cornell Woolrich for both "Fountain Pen" and, under his "William Irish" pen name, "Leg Man."  John Collier contributes one of his wild and wonderful tales, "Little Memento".  William MacHarg is present with a minor O'Malley story, "Information Obtained."  Ellery Queen's radio script "The Adventure of the Mouse's Blood" maintains the quality of the radio program.  One of the best pieces in the book is William Roughead's fascinating article about an 1835 murder, "The Melbuie Murder."  The other nonfiction article in the book, Jared van Wagenen, Jr.'s "The Huddleston Murder" is nearly as entertaining.  For the most part, though, the book presents typical and readable mystery and detective tales from a by-gone age.

The stories:

  • Allan Vaughan Elston, "The Belfry" (from Adventure, October 15, 1932) 
  • "William Irish" (Cornell Woolrich), "Leg Man" (from Dime Detective Magazine, August 1943, originally published as by Woolrich)
  • Steve Fisher, "Goodbye, Hannah" (from Double Detective, December 1938)
  • Frederick Skerry, "Chance Observer" (from Street & Smith's Detective Story Magazine, May 1944)
  • "Sax Rohmer" (Arthur Sarsfield Ward), "Black Magic" (from Collier's, February 5, 1938; a Bazarada story)
  • Frank Owen, "Pale Pink Porcelain" (from Mystery Magazine, April 1927)
  • Richard Sale, "Figure a Dame" (from Double Detective, November 1937)
  • Jared Van Wagenen, Jr. - "The Huddleston Murder" (from New York Folklore Quarterly, [Month?] 1946; true crime)
  • "Ellery Queen" - "The Adventure of the Mouse's Blood" (from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, September 1942; radio play, first aired May 26, 1940; presumably this episode was written by Frederick Dannay)
  • "Richard Kent" (Frank Owen) - "A Study in Amber" (original to this volume)
  • "Louis Paul" (Leroi Placet) - "The Cruise of the Lola Montez" (from Esquire, December 1940)
  • Norman McGlashan - "The Skull" (original to this volume?)
  • John Collier, "Little Memento" (from The New Yorker, September 17, 1938)
  • William MacHarg, "Information Obtained" (from Collier's, February 21, 1942; an O'Malley story)from 
  • William Roughead, "The Mulbuie Murder" (from Roughead's collection Malice Domestic, 1928; true crime)
  • "David Kent" (possibly Herman Hoffman Birney), "Phi Beta Copper" (original to this volume?)
  • Vincent Starrett, "Holding the Bag" (original to this volume?)
  • Philip Ketchum, "I'll Be Killing You" (from Street & Smith's Detective Story Magazine, July 1944)
  • Walter C. Brown, "The Man on the Roof" (from The Blue Book Magazine, September 1945)
  • Cornell Woolrich, "Fountain Pen" (from Street & Smith's Detective Story Magazine, April 1945, as "Dipped in Blood")
 Not a major anthology but a pleasant page turner.

Thursday, February 27, 2020


I have always loved children's folk songs.  I hope you do, too.

Ella Jenkins is "The First Lady of Children's Folk Songs."  Here's her 1955 album "Multicultural Children's Songs."

Pete Seeger loved to perform for children.  Here's one of his albums of animal songs for children, ""Birds, Beasts, Bugs & Fishes:  Little & Big Animal Folk Songs."

The popular folk group The Limeliters recorded one of their children's concerts, "Through Children's Eyes."

We used sing a number of Rosenshontz songs to our children (still do, even though they are in their forties).  Here's their "Greatest Hits" album.

Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer entertain first graders from Leckie Elementary School and show them how music is made in this Library of Congress Video.

Here's Tom Glazer with a few entertaining songs in these old 78s.  Then we have his album "On Top of Spaghetti," a classic, for sure.

Peter, Paul & Mary Mommy had a special link to the magic of childhood.

There are many more artist who could be spotlighted here, but let me just leave you with a Bob Dylan song recorded by Pete Seeger.


That guy from Margaritaville.


Once again Nero and Archie take to the radio waves to solve a puzzling murder. The incomparable Sidney Greenstreet plays the incomparable Nero Wolfe.  Larry Dobkin is Archie Goodwin.  William Kendall Clark wrote the script.  J. Donald Wilson directed.  "The Case of the Impolite Corpse" first aired on December 8, 1950.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020


Fourteen years ago our son-in-law Michael was preparing to go golfing when he collapsed in the living room from a fatal heart attack.  He was 31.  The horror of that day still remains with us.  The evening before he was making homemade soap with his girls, Ceili, 9, and Amy, 7.

Michael would have been proud of the beautiful , sweet women Ceili and Amy became.  He would have been proud of the way Jessamyn has held the family together and has guided the girls.

Today, our thoughts go out as always to Jessamyn, Ceili, and Amy, and to his parents, John and Carol.

As long as someone is being held in our memories and as long as they continue to have a positive effect on those who loved them, they live on.


Gary U. S. Bonds.


I was walking down the street the other day and these construction workers were hammering on the roof working away.  One of them told me I was a paranoid morse code.  -- Emo Philips

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


Professor Longhair.


Although this is The Colgate Comedy Hour, this episode is sponsored by Frigidaire and the opening credits show The Comedy Hour.  And since this is one of the occasional episodes of the show hosted by Bob Hope, the YouTube clip is labelled The Bob Hope ShowThe Colgate Comedy Hour NBC, 1950-1955) had a roster of rotating hosts, such as Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, Fred Allen, Eddie Cantor, and Abbott & Costello.

The November 26, 1950, show was the twelfth episode and the first hosted by Hope.  I chose this specific episode because one of the writers was Larry Gelbert (M*A*S*H, Tootsie, A funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), who was born on this day in 1928.  (Happy birthday, Larry!)

Guests in this episode include singer Jimmy Wakely (singing "Lonesome Train" and -- with Hope -- "Tumbling Tumbleweeds"), actress and eye candy Marilyn Maxwell (playing Mata Hari in a sketch), the Hi-Hatters (tap dancing to "Me and My Shadow"), vocalists The Taylor Maids (singing "Orange Colored Sky"), with Les Brown leading the orchestra.

Times were simpler then.  Enjoy.

Monday, February 24, 2020


The Ink Spots.


Openers:  In Paris the gambling was hidden but easy enough to find.  This one was in the fifteenth arrondissement near the Citroen factory.  The thick door had an iron ring for a handle; a thug absurdly disguised as a doorman admitted Kendig and there was a woman at the desk, attractive enough but she had a cool hard air,  Kendig went through the tedium of establishing the credentials of his innocence -- he was not a fic, he was not Sicilian, he was not Union Corse, he was not this or that.  "Just a tourist.  I've been here before with Mme. Labrie.  There isn't a message for me by any chance?"

Brian Garfield, Hopscotch  (1975)

Garfield (1939-2018) was a prolific writer of crime and western novels, best known for Hopscotch, which won the 1976 Edgar Award for Best Novel, and for Death Wish, the basis of the Charles Bronson film franchise.  He wrote his first published book. Range Justice (1960), when he was 18; an abridged version was published in 1961 under the title Justice at Spanish Flat -- Spanish Flat was a fictional Arizona town; it and several characters from the book were later featured in a series about Marshal Jeremy Six.

Garfield wrote under a number of pseudonyms including Frank Wynne, Brian Wynne (Garfield's full name was Brian Francis Wynne Garfield), Frank O'Brian, Bennett Garland, Justin Harris, Alex Hawk, Drew Mallory, and John Ives.  Following the death of author William Ard, Garfield wrote the seventh book in Ard's Tom Buchanan series, Buchanan's Gun (1968), under Ard's pen name now turned house name "Jonas Ward;"  the Buchanan series was continued by William R. Cox as Ward.  Coincidentally, when Cox died, Garfield anonymously completed the final book in Cox's Cemetery Jones series, Cemetery Jones and the Tombstone War (1990).

A number of Garfield's works have been filmed.  Death Wish (1974) began a five-film franchise (the third of which also became a video game) for Charles Bronson as vigilante Paul Kersey, dispensing with the  nuances of the source material.  The film was rebooted in 2018 by director Eli Roth for an unremarkable film starring Bruce Willis.  Death Wish was also the uncredited source for the 1975 Turkish film The Executioner (Cellat), with mustached actor Serdar Gokhan bearing a slight resemblance to Bronson. 1976 saw the release of The Last Hard Men, based on Garfield's novel Gun Down (not to be confused with his earlier novel Gundown) and featuring Charleton Heston and James Coburn.  His 1972 novel Relentless became a television film in 1977 starring Will Sampson.  This film may have been the first major-company movie in which the Native American hero was played by a top-billed Native American.  Garfield's 1978 novel Wild Times, a nominee for the American Book Award, became a television miniseries starring Sam Elliott in 1980,

The thriller Hopscotch  transformed into a comedy thriller starring Walter Matthau as a retired CIA agent who writes a tell-all book and now must elude his former employers.  Garfield also co-wrote the screenplay (with actor/director/producer/writer Bryan Forbes) for this 1980 film.

Garfield's only musical, 1983's Legs, was a television movie based on an original story and script by Garfield; co-produced by Radio City Music Hall, it featured Gwen Verdon, John Heard, Sheree North, and The Rockettes.  His 1978 novel Fear in a Handful of Dust was filmed as Fleshburn in 1984,  a disappointing desert survival film.  1978's Necessity became a made-for-TV film starring Loni Anderson in 1998.  Kevin Bacon starred in a 2007 adaptation of Garfield's Death Sentence (1975), keeping the story's title and little else.

Based on a story by Garfield and a script by Donald E. Westlake, 1987's The Stepfather became a cult horror classic, spawning two sequels.  It was also remade as a confusing 2009 Iranian film, 24th Street (Khiabane Bisto Chahar).

At least one of Garfield's short stories made it to episodic TV.  "Scrimshaw" (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, December 17, 1979) was an episode on Tales of the Unexpected, airing on July 28, 1985 (almost twenty months after the death of the episode's star John Hackett).

What works by Garfield should you read?  Almost everything he has written is entertaining.  Certainly Hopscotch, Death Wish, or Wild Times.  The Jeremy Six westerns written as by "Brian Wynne" (Mr. Sixgun, The Night It Rained Bullets, The Bravos, The Proud Riders, A Badge for a Badman, Brand of the Gun, Gundown, and Big Country, Big Men) are fast-moving westerns.  (A final Jeremy Six novel, Gunslick Territory, was ghosted by Dean Dudley McGaughey and published as by "Brian Wynne."  Arizona was a finalist for the Golden Spur Award.  Gangway! (written with Donald E. Westlake) is a great humorous western heist novel.  Checkpoint Charlie is a highly recommended collection of espionage tales.  Manifest Destiny is a historical novel about a young Teddy Roosevelt.  The Paladin is a historical suspense novel, co-written with "Christopher Creighton" (real life spy-guy and Olympic Gold Medalist John Ainsworth-Davis).  Suspense novels The Threepersons Hunt and What of Terri Conniston? are nail-biting suspense.  Non-fiction The Thousand-Mile War:  World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in History.  Western Films:  A Complete Guide is just what it proclaims to be and a valued addition to any western fan's shelf.  The Meinertzhagan Mystery is a well-research biography of "a storied British hero of natural science, exploration, espionage, military intelligence, and front-line warfare" who was almost completely a fraud.

With some 70 books to his credit, there is something for everyone in Garfield's works.  What are you waiting for?


  • Jack Ehrlich, Bloody Vengeance.  Crime novel.  "They were tired, hard-working cops who'd had enough...And when the courts let loos a rotten punk to murder and steal again, they finally struck back.  They not only nailed him but they unleashed a wave of vengeance that left no hoodlum unscathed.  Nothing and no one was safe from their wrath -- from the pushers on the turf to the Mafia dons in the penthouse suites.  And throughout the nation, their  loody movement grew..."  Blogger "Paperback Warrior" reviewed this book in January 2019:  "Guys, this is a fantastic paperback.  It's a crime-fighting, right-wing, wish-fulfillment fantasy with awesome action scenes that never veer into cartoonish territory.  I'd go so far to call it among the best 1970s vigilante novels I've ever read -- rivalling Pendleton's "War Against the Mafia" for top spot."  Ehrlich's earlier (1970) novel The Drowning was nominated for a Best Paperback Edgar, and his 1972 western The Fastest Gun on the Pulpit was a television movie in the seventies starring Slim Pickens.
  • Eric Frank Russell, The Mindwarpers.  Science fiction novel, first published as With a Strange Device.  "WARNING  WARNING  WARNING  WARNING WARNING  LOCK YOUR BRAIN  The government's most vital scientific laboratory.  No enemy could steal its secrets, because no enemy could possibly get in.  But men's minds were another matter.  It began with key scientists leaving -- just quitting their jobs and drifting away.  Then master metallurgist Richard Bransome began to remember a past  he had completely forgotten -- a past in which he had been a cold-blooded murderer.  and he set out on a strange, solitary mission to learn the facts -- the fact about himself, and the facts about America's most incredible enemy.  But how could he do either...when he couldn't even trust his own sanity?  Eric Frank Russell, England's great science-fiction writer, returns in this book to the kind of theme he explored in his classic Sinister Barrier and Dreadful Sanctuary.  The result is an astonishing tour de force of science and suspense."  Actually, this is said to be one of Russell''s slower-moving books.  Russell's quality of writing could swing wildly but he remains (for the most part) worth reading.

L'Orfeo:  What many consider the first fully developed example of opera, Claudio Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, with a libretto by Alassandro Striggio, made its premiere on this day in 1607 at a court performance at the Carnival at Mantua.  Several works by Jacapo Peri (notably 1597's Dafni, most of which is now lost) may lay claim as the earliest opera, L'Orfeo is the one that is still continuously performed.

Based on the Greek legend of Orpheus and his failed attempt to rescue his dead bride Eurydice from Hades, L'Ordeo divides it scenes between the countryside of Thrace and the Underworld.

Following a prologue, we meet the lovers on their wedding day and we learn that Orfeo's love for his bride has brought him sublime happiness.  Alas this happiness is short-lived.  While picking flowers, Eurydice is fatally bitten by a snake.  Orfeo vows to enter the underworld to persuade Plutone, the King of Hades, to release his bride.  (He sings this, of course.)  Properpina, Queen of Hades, hears him and is charmed  by his singing and pleas Orfeo's case to Plutone.  The god agrees under one condition:  that Orfeo not look back while escorting his bride out of Hades.  Even those unfamiliar with the myth can figure out what happened then.  Startled by an off-stage noise, Orfeo looks back and Eurydice vanishes as Orfeo is propelled out of Hades.  Orfeo mourns his bride and his lost chance.  The god Apollo appears before him and offers him a chance to join him in the heavens where he will be able to view Eurydice's likeness among the stars.  Since it would be rude to refuse the god's offer Orfeo agrees and ascends to the heavens.

There is an alternate (actually, an additional) ending to Striggio's original libretto.  A chorus of Bacchantes (wild, drunken women) appear, proclaiming the wrath of Bacchus who is mad because, in both mourning eurydice and in agreeing to Apollo, Orfeo is forsaking the company of women.  Bacchus vows not to let Orfeo escape his wrath and the longer Orfeo delays this fate the worse his lot will be.  In this ending Orfeo's fate is uncertain and more closely follows the original Greek myths.

Here's the Act 1 Prologue "Dal mi permesso":

February 24:  Today is Shrove Monday.  Now, Shrove Tuesday is traditionally celebrated with pancakes but it is today that is International Pancake Day.  Go figure.  Today is also World Bartender Day, which may have something to do with celebrating the days  before Lent, or not.

Today is also Forget Me Not Day, but not really.  National Forget-Me-Not Day is November 10 and is meant to remind Americans of the sacrifices returning soldiers have made.  It was created in 1921 to raise monies for injured and disabled soldiers.  On February 24, 1926, the first Forget-Me-Not Drive was held by the Disabled Veterans of America; the little blue flowers were meant to be a reminder of the spring flowers the soldiers had seen on the graves of their fallen comrades.  Apparently various local DVA organizations hold their Forget-Me-Not Drives at different time of the year.  To my mind, it doesn't matter what day this is celebrated because we should be be aware of the meaning of the day every day.

Needless to say, I will not forget you today.

Florida Man Plus Florida Woman -- A Potent Mixture:

  • Florida Woman Rebecca Lynn Duarte, 23, punched out a window and violently attacked her boyfriend after he refused to have sex with her.  In his defense, they had just returned from bowling and who needs sex after bowling?  Alcohol may have been involved because Duarte's breath reeked of it.  The boyfriend was lucky; in July of last year, a different Florida Woman head butted, then stabbed her boyfriend because he would not come across, claiming to be "too tired."
  • Florida Man John Wayne Parker or Palatka, 32, was arrested for stealing drills, cigarettes, batteries , and "other sundry items" to pay for ankle monitor fees accrued during a previous arrest.  (Ankle monitors can cost between $175-$200 to set up and daily fees can run between $5 and $20.  Use of monitors can save up to $14,000 a year per felon in lieu of incarceration costs.  The morality and ethics of monitor fees can be discussed later.)
  • An unknown (and therefore uncaptured) Florida Man zipped into a Winter Haven Walmart on hover skates and stole some $500 worth of merchandise.  It's not a jet pack but what the heck?  You've got to give the guy some points.
In other Florida news the state Supreme Court has put a temporary kibosh on an attempt by the Republican-led legislature to weaken a a referendum overwhelmingly approved by voters allowing former felons the right to vote.  Seems that most of the state's former felons are black and tha most of Florida's blacks are Democrats.  The legislature passed a caveat that only those former felons who had paid all state fees owed will be allowed to vote.  If a felon does vote while owing any fees, he or she will be committing a felony.  Since there is no centralized database of such fees owed, and since many persons are unaware of whether they owe any fees, the legislature has effectively silenced thousands -- if not hundreds of thousands -- of voters through a campaign of fear.  The State Supreme Court ruled that such a requirement effectively made voting a matter of who could afford it, much like a poll tax.  The Supreme Court also said that requirement had no legitimate reason for existing.  Republican Governor Ron DeSantis will appeal.

Something to Consider:   "Men build too many walls and not enough bridges." -- Joseph Fort Newton

Grrr:  Our nine-year-old car died this week, a quick and premature death.  We tend to drive our cars into the ground, hoping to get 250,000 miles out of them.  This little Kia had only half that.  So now it's off to get a new car that (we hope) will actually last us 250,000 miles.  What we normally do is finance a car, drive it for a few days to see if it suits us, then pay the damned thing off completely.  (I really don't like paying close to the full price of the car in interest over more years than most people would keep the car.  With luck we will have one by the end of the day.  Now to get rid of the old car. 
As usual we had paid for the car completely within a week after we had bought it.  What we just discovered is that the finance company never bothered to remove the lien on the car so we can't even scrap it.  This means I probably will have to take a couple of days calling the finance company, being bounced from person to person, until I convince someone that they should remove the lien on a car that I had completely off nine years ago.  Grrr.   Part of it is on me; I should have the original release documents from when I bought the car but they have gone walkabout sometime over the past year.  Double Grrr.

Good News:

Today's Poem:
The New Cow

The new cow came through the gate,
And her calf came later, a little late.
No longer willing to be led,
The calf went on ahead, 
While she stood to look around
Over the hills and lower ground
Stood shyly, defiantly there,
Smelling flower-fragrant air,
And gazed toward the old cows
Grouped along the way before.
Knowing not how she might stay
Among them, stranger still,
She hesitated yet, now they had turned
At the foot of the hill
And seemed to wait for her at the gate,
To wait for her who was strange and thin,
Til she came on,
And they opened up their ranks
To take her in.

-- August Derleth (February 24, 1909 - July 4, 1971)
Happy Birthday to the Sage of Sauk City!

Sunday, February 23, 2020


With all the hoopdeedoo about the primaries and caucuses, presidential pardons, Mardi Gras, the weird weather, Covid19, and whatever Gwyneth Paltrow is selling now, it is easy to lose sight of the important things, like banana bread.

To celebrate National Banana Bread Day 2020, here are 21 proven, yummy banana bread recipes -- some with a unique twists.

Do you like banana bread?  Are you willing to bake some today to celebrate?  And, most importantly, are you going to send what you bake to me for testing?


Cowboy Copas.

Saturday, February 22, 2020


Here is the first commercial recording of this popular folk song.  From 1926, Dave "Pistol Pete" Cutrell of McGintry's Oklahoma Cow Boy Band sings.

According to lore, if the light from the Special shines on your cell, you will soon be released.


It's 1941, kiddoes, and like all true comic book heroes of the time, The Green Mask and Domino are busy fighting the enemies of America.

The Green Mask is Michael Shelby, who had been put in a vita-ray machine by a scientist and something went wrong, leaving Shelby a supercharge miracle man with the power to zoom through the air and perform superhuman feats.  As a superhero, he needs a boy sidekick and his is none other than young Don, the miracle boy who can pack a punch as Domino.  They have nifty full-body costumes with capes, nach.

Bring equal opportunity spy-hunters, the two find themselves up against the beautiful (and treacherous) Loo Lan and her evil father Dr. Tsu, who are out to get a new formula for a new steel armor plate from the Navy.  This yellow peril has a wide reach and The Green Mask and Domino must escape death a number of times before putting paid to this Oriental menace.

Then the pair are up against German spy Kurt Ebler and his spy ring, who are ought to get the plans for a new bombsight.  Not only bust GM and Domino fol the plot but they must also rescue beautiful Marilyn Parker, a captured U.S. intelligence agent.

The Germans are a pesky lot and there sure are a lot of them in the U.S.  In the next story, The Green Mask and domino come face to face with Lana Gelb, Nazi spy, and local bund leader Hans Funkel.  Lana has wooed her way into the heart of Charles Peters, president of an aeronautical company.  Lana has bombs planted at Peters' company ready to blow at any moment.  Can Green Mask stop the sabotage before the entire company goes sky-high?  That's a rhetorical question so don't bother answering.

That's it for The Green Mask in this issue, but their are still three action-packed stories to go.

Navy buddies "Spark" Stevens and Chuck Dawson of the U.S.S. Dragon have a brief shore leave in Hawaii before heading out to the Phillipines.  As Spark gets ready for a hot date with the gorgeous Aloita, Madam Kakymamie (great name, that) and her nest of Japanese spies discover when the flotilla is scheduled to leave the harbor and plot to plant mines to destroy the fleet.  By coincidence, Madam Kakymamie and her spies have captured Alita and her father and are using their house as a headquarters.  Japanese spies v.  the U.S. Navy with Spark and Chuck?  No contest.

We shift to China where Chen Chang, the "villainous Chinese plots with fiendish wiles against the white race he hates."  Chen destroys a munitions dump to distract officials from town while Chen and his men rob the bank.  Seeing through this ruse are American adventurer Richard Kendall and New York Chronicle reporter Lynn Rover, who must stop Chen from using the stolen gold to buy rifles for his war on the white race.

The final story takes us below the sea where Navy Jones and Princess Coral of the Undersea Realm go after "pirate" warships out to sink U.S.ships.  Now Navy, Coral, and her kingly father are all human (I guess) and can breathe underwater.  Their ally Captain Nemo (of Jules Verne fame) is human and must use a diving suit and helmet.   The people of the Undersea Realm are green, gilled creatures not unlike the one from the Black Lagoon.  I think I missed the backstory on this one.  The "pirate" fleet are Nazis and Navy and his cronies make short work of the "pirate" submarines while the actually U.S. Navy mop us the pirates' surface ships.  As Navy Jones says at the end, "As long as we maintain a powerful fleet, freedom of the seas is assured!"


Friday, February 21, 2020


Bobby Charles, born Robert Charles Guidry on this date in 1938, an ethnic Cajun from Louisiana.  He wrote and recorded this song which was later made famous by Bill Hailey & his Comets.  He also wrote "Walking to New Orleans" and "It Keeps Raining" for Fats Domino, as well as "(I Don't Know Why) But I Do," which Clarence "Frogman" Henry later recorded.  The swamp pop legend died in 2010.


A Second Century of Creepy Stories edited by Sir Hugh Walpole (1937)

Here's another doorstop British anthology from the 1930s, this time weighing in at 1023 pages and containing 27 stories.  The publisher this time around is Hutchinson & Co., which published a slew of similar volumes including the first A Century of Creepy Stories (anonymously edited).  Some of Hutchinson's related titles were A Century of Detective Stories (anonymously edited, but introduced by G. K. Chesterton), A Century of Ghost Stories (also anonymously edited), A Century of Humorous Stories (edited by P. G. Woodhouse), A Century of Sea Stories (edited by Rafael Sabatini, who also edited their A Century of Historical Stories), A Century of Ghost Stories (edited by Dennis Wheatley), and like-minded collections of Popular Romances, Boy's Stories, Girl's Stories, Nature Stories, and Western Stories.

Once again we have a combination of familiar and unfamiliar stories, ranging from suspense, to mystery, to the supernatural.  As in Odham Press's The Mystery Book (covered here last week), Henry James' The Turn of the Screw is included.  Also included are Le Fanu's "Camilla," de Maupassant's "The Horla," Bierce's "A Watcher by the Dead," Oliver Onion's "The Beckoning Fair One," and F. Marion Crawford's "The Upper Berth" (if you have not read all of these readily available tales, please correct this deficiency post haste)Other writers of note include Wilkie Collins, Walter de la Mare, Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, M. R. James, Margaret Irwin, and Ann Bridge.  Writers who may be unfamiliar (or nigh well forgotten) include Michael Joyce, Shane Leslie, Hector Bolitho, T. O. Beechcroft, Ralph Straus, "Bartimeus" (Lewis Ritchie), and A. M. Burrage (who has two stories here, one as by "Ex-Private X").

Depending on your previous reading in the field, this volume may be either a treasure trove or a minor anthology.  Most of the writing is dated (although some of the tales are timeless), and couple of the stories can be rated as just plain meh.  All in all, however, this can stand as a cornerstone of creepy tales from the early part of the twentieth century and the latter part of the nineteenth.

The stories:

  • William Wilkie Collins, "Mad Monkton" (from the collection The Queen of Hearts, 1859)
  • John Metcalfe, "Mortmain" (from the collection Judas and Other Stories, 1931)
  • Anonymous, "The Dead Bride" (translated from the French [1912] by "Marjorie Bowen" for her 1933 anthology Great Tales of Horror
  • Sheridan Le Fanu, "Camilla" (first published in four parts in the monthly magazine The Dark Blue, December 1871 to March 1872; the story has also been published as "Blood and Roses," "Vampire Lovers," "Camilla:  A Tragic Love Story," "Camilla:  A Vampyre Tale," and "Camilla:  The Vampire Lovers")
  • "Bartimeus" (Lewis Ritchie), "The Green Door" (from the collection An Off-Shore Wind, 1936)
  • Sir Hugh Walpole, "Tarnhelm" (from Liberty, December 28, 1929; also published as "Tarnhelm, or The Death of My Uncle Robert")
  • Ambrose Bierce, "A Watcher by the Dead" (first published in the San Francisco Examiner, December 29, 1899)
  • Walter de la Mare, "The Trumpet" (first published in the Virginia Quarterly Review, October 1936)
  • Ralph Straus, "The Most Maddening Story in the World" (first published in The Sovereign Magazine, August 1920)
  • Arthur Machen, "Change" (from the collection The Children of the Pool and Other Stories, 1936)
  • Algernon Blackwood, "Keeping His Promise" (from the collection The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories, 1906)
  • "Ex-Private X" (A. M. Burrage), "The Oak Saplings" (first published in The London Magazine, October 1928)
  • M. R. James, "Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance" (from the collection More Ghost Stories from an Antiquary, 1911; also published as "The Maze")
  • Oliver Onions, "The Beckoning Fair One" (from the collection Widdershins, 1911)
  • Guy de Maupassant, "The Horla" ("Le Horla") (first published in Gil Blas, October 26, 1886, then expanded in 1887; probably the first English translation [of many] from the anthology Modern Ghosts, 1890)
  • F. Marion Crawford, "The Upper Berth" (first published in The Broken Shaft:  Unwin's Annual for 1886, edited by Sir Henry Norman, 1885; also published as "What Was in the Upper Berth?)
  • Hector Bolitho, "The House in Half Moon Street" (first published in Nash's Pall Mall Magazine, March/April 1934)
  • "Marjorie Bowen" (Gabrielle Margaret Vere Campbell Long), "The Crown Derby Plate" (from the collection The Last Bouquet:  Some Twilight Tales, 1933)
  • Henry James, The Turn of the Screw (first serialized in twelve parts in Collier's, January 27 to April 16, 1898)
  • Margaret Irwin, "Monsieur Seeks a Wife" (first published in Nash's Pall Mall Magazine, December 1934)
  • "Ann Bridge" (Mary Dolling Sanders O'Malley), "The Accident" (from the collection The Song in the House:  Stories, 1936)
  • Martin Armstrong, "Mrs. Vaudrey's Journey" (first published in The Story-teller, February 1933)
  • A. M. Burrage, "Browdean Farm" (from the collection Some Ghost Stories, 1927)
  • Michael Joyce, "Perchance to Dream" (first published in The London Mercury, December 1930)
  • Shane Leslie, "The Drummer of Gordonmuir" (first published in Ainslee's Magazine, January 1906)
  • Rupert Croft-Cooke, "Banquo's Chair" (apparently original to this collection)

Not a bad collection if this is your cup of tea.

Thursday, February 20, 2020




From 1946 to 1954, Schuyler "Sky" King took to the ABC radio airwaves as the rancher and pilot combined the western with flying, catching the bad guys and rescuing lost miners a generally doing good in the fictional town of Grover, Arizona.  The popularity of the radio show led to a television series from 1951 to 1954 featuring Kirby Grant in the title role.  On the radio, Sky was played by various actors including Roy Engel, Jack Lester, Earl Nightingale, Carlton KaDell,  and John Reed King.

Sky's ranch was The Flying Cloud and his plane was the Songbird.  Also along for his adventures were Sky's niece Penny and his nephew Clipper.  The show promoted a wholesome family image. 

(Many other young lads besides myself were more than smitten with Gloria Winters, the lovely young lady who played Penny.  I shed a tear when Winters died in 2010 at age 78.)

Sky King was based on a radio story by Roy Winsor and was created by Robert Morris Burtt and Wilfred Gibbs Moore, who also created Captain Midnight.

"The Lady Sheriff" first aired on April 12, 1951 with Earl Nightingale as Sky.  The program's announcer and shill for Peter Pan Peanut Butter was a young Mike Wallace.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020


From 1952, here's Pearl Bailey,


For some reason I always preferred Roy to Gene (but Hoppy was my all-time favorite).  Didn't care much for Dale, though.  Pat Brady was always fun and Nellybelle the jeep always made me laugh.   Trigger was okay.  Bullet, meh.  And don't get me started on Buttermilk.

The Roy Rogers Show ran on NBC for 100 episodes from December 30, 1951 to June 9, 1957.  "Money Is Dangerous" was the show's 79th episode and first ran on January 29, 1956.  a former rancher, thought to be a miser, hires a neerdowell to act as his bodyguard and protect his money.  Instead, the man steals the money.  It's time for Roy and Trigger to ride into action.  Harry Harvey, Lucien Littlefield, John Truax, Craig Duncan, and James Macklin round out the cast.  George Blair directed from a teleplay by Dwight Cummins.



Fats Waller.


Openers:  They were in a basement somewhere, just the three of them, and it was late at night.  The place was full of shadows, and the shadows made six of them, one extra for each.  There was Moylan, better known as the Big Guy, and Hammond, one of his henchmen, and an individual known simply as the Screw, with that bull's-eye appropriateness underworld nicknames often have.

-- Cornell Woolrich, "Leg Man" (first published as "Dipped in Blood" by "William Irish," Street & Smith's Detective Story Magazine, April 1945)

Cornell George Hopley-Woolrich (1903-1968) left Columbia University without graduating when his first novel, Cover Charge, was published.  Cover Charge, was the first of six mainstream 'Jazz Age" novels written under the influence of F. Scott Fitzgerald.  This first novel was apparently written while he was invalided with a foot infection.  Woolrich's second novel, Children of the Rich, nabbed him a $10,000 prize in a contest sponsored by College Humor and First National Pictures, and led him to Hollywood as a screenwriter.  His stint as a screenwriter failed, producing no screen credits, and returned to writing novels but, by the 1930s the Jazz Age was dead -- Woolrich had failed to establish himself as a serious writer and his seventh novel was roundly rejected -- it ended up literally in a dustbin.  Also failed was a brief, unconsummated marriage to the 21-year-old daughter of one of the founders of Vitagraph Studios, while at the same time he was pursuing an active and clandestine homosexual love life.

Still determined to write, Woolrich begin writing for the detective pulps, which is where he found his true calling.  Many of his stories involved innocent people caught up in unexpected peril.  A prolific writer, he soon had to adopt the pseudonym "William Irish" to keep up with his output.  He moved back to New York to live with his mother in a series of seedy hotels, eventually ending up in Harlem's Hotel Marseilles, among a group of thieves, prostitutes and lowlifes that would not be out of place in [his] dark fictional world."  There he remained with his mother until her death in 1957, after which he moved to more up-scale digs.

Following the death of his mother, Woolrich isolated himself and began a sharp physical and mental decline.  An alcoholic driven by guilt over his homsexuality and self-doubt, Woolrich ignored his diabetes, leading to the amputation of a leg.  Following the amputation, he converted to Catholicism.  Staff employees would take him in his wheel chair to the hotel lobby where he could watch the traffic.  He weighed 89 pounds when he died -- a wizened mockery of a man.

He remains one of the best pulp detective story writers of his time.  He published 26 novels from 1926 to 1960, including such classics as The Bride Wore Black, Phantom Lady, Deadline at Dawn, Night Has a Thousand Eyes, Nightmare, and The Black Angel.  A final novel, completed by Lawrence Block, appeared in 1987.  Sixteen short story collection have also been published.  More than five dozen movies have been based on his works, as well as nearly ninety television episodes.  Among his short stories are "Rear Window," "Nightmare," "Three O'Clock," "I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes,"  "Marijuana." "Bluebeard's Seventh Wife," "Papa Benjamin," "The Boy who Cried Murder," "A Dime a Dance," and "I'll Take You Home Kathleen."

Despite -- or because of -- his tortured life, Woolrich left us a treasure trove of remarkable stories that exposed the dark and unexpected side of life.


  • "G. H. Ephron" (Hallie Ephron & Donld A. Davidoff) - Obsessed.  A Peter Zak medical mystery.  "Dr. Peter Zak is obsessed with finding the stalker who is terrorizing his new intern Dr. Emily Ryan, and sets out on a trial of escalating violence as it leads him into dark and deadly places too close to home.  Obsessed with isolating a cure to a fatal brain disease that could mean international recognition and millions of dollars, researchers will stop at nothing, break every rule, use every deviant act -- including mutilation and murder -- to achieve their goal.  Bent on destroying the vicious web of deception, sexual jealousy, and death that threatens Ryan and the lives of his patients, Dr. Peter Zak must expose the deviant killer even if he has to risk his own life to do it..."  The blurb uses the word "deviant" twice.
  • Stephen Fry, The Liar.  Comic novel.  And who isn't a Stephen Fry fan? "Stephen Fry's breathtakingly outrageous debut novel, by turns eccentric, shocking, brilliantly comic and achingly romantic..."  "The Liar is hilarious -- page after page of the most outrageous and often filthy jokes, delicious conceits, instant, brilliant ripostes that would only occur to ordinary mortals after days of teeth-grinding lunacy." -- Literary Journal  "It's very unfair.  It took Joseph Heller seven years to write Catch 22.  Stephen seems to have knocked this one off on a couple of wet Wednesday afternoons in Norfolk." -- Hugh Laurie  

President's Day:  When I was a kid we looked forward to February.  First, it was winter and there were bound to be at least a couple of snow days.  And, in those pre-PETA days, there was Groundhog Day and we kids really believed there was magic in the groundhog lore.  And Valentine's Day -- yes, everyone would get stupid cards (many from kids we didn't like) but there was always a chance of candy.  February was also the shortest month, an outlier if you will, and even with another day popping up out of nowhere every four years, it still remained the shortest month; we kids always rooted for the underdog.  And finally, there were Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday, two school holidays crammed into one short month.

Today, we have President's Day.  One measly day instead of two.  And we have to celebrate all the presidents, not just the cool ones like Lincoln and Washington and Ike, but others we never heard of like Chester A. Arthur and Franklin Pierce.  As an adult, I don't mind honoring our presidents -- most of them -- but, geez Louise, there are limits.  Can we just honor 44 of them?  I'll even throw in Nixon and George W. Bush and count Grover Cleveland twice, just let me drop 45.  I do, however, honor the office of the president, so I'll settle for Office of the President's Day.  Please?

On This Day Yesterday:
  • In 1600, on his way to be burned at the stake for heresy, philosopher Giordano Bruno has a stake impaled in his tongue to prevent him from speaking.  No more spreading that nasty philosophy for Giordano.  Simpler times, simpler solutions, even if they don't achieve what you hoped for.
  • In 1621, Myles Standish was appointed the first military commander for the Plymouth Colony.  Standish was a hawk and believed in a strong preemptive action, using a brutality that disturbed some of the colonist (and did not endear him to the local native Americans).  Longfellow portrayed him as a shy romantic in "The Courtship of Myles Standish," so there's that.
  • In 1801, the U.S. House of Representatives named Thomas Jefferson president and Aaron Burr vice president after the two were tied in electoral college votes.  History has lauded Jefferson (Sally Hemings notwithstanding) and Burr went on to kill Alexander Hamilton in a dual (something Manuel Lin Miranda fans will never forgive), and then plotted with England to capture the U.S. western territories.  Jefferson tried to influence Burr's trial for treason by proclaiming that Burr was guilty "beyond question" before Congress.  Golly, a president trying to interfere with the workings of justice...who woulda thunk it?
  • In 1864, Australian  bush poet and the author of "Waltzing Matilda," Banjo Patterson was born.
  • In 1867, the first ship passed through the Suez Canal.  The original canal was a single lane waterway with no locks buy with two locations that would allow ships to pass.  It reduced the voyage from London to Arabian Sea by 5,500 miles, bypassing the South Atlantic and southern Indian oceans.  Strategically placed, the canal was the focus of an international crisis in 1956, when Gamal Adbel Nasser, the president of Egypt, began making friends with the Soviet Union, forcing Great Britain and America to withdraw their support for the building of the Aswan Dam.  Nasser then nationalized the canal and closed the Straits of  Tiran to Israeli ships.  This led to a conflict in which Britain, France, and Israel occupied the canal zone.  In order to prevent the situation escalating into a full-blown war, the United Nations formed its first international peacekeeping force.  The Suez Canal also played a part in the Arab-Israeli Wars of 1967 and 1973.
  • In 1912, writer Mary Alice Norton was born.  Better known as "Andre Norton," she was the gateway drug for many of into the world of science fiction.  Norton is credited with over 300 books, although a number of the later books were collaborations or written by other authors using her characters and ideas.  She is probably best remembered for her Witch World series.  Norton was named a Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy. an SFWA Grand Master, and was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.  She wrote novels for more than 70 years.  Shortly before her death in 2005 the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America established the Andre Norton Award, given yearly to an outstanding book of Young Adult or Middle School science fiction or fantasy.
  • In 1930, English mystery author Ruth Rendell was born.  Baroness Rendell published 80 books, 24 of them about her series character Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford.  Out side of her police procedurals, she is known for her psychological suspense novels written both under her own name and as "Barbara Vine."  She received the Silver, Gold, and Diamond Dagger Awards from the Crime Writers Association, three Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America, the Arts Council National Book Award, and The Sunday Times Literary Award, among others.  She was a patron of Kids for Kids, a charity to help children of Darfur and was an active member of the Labour Party in the House of Lords.  Her novels have been filmed (if I counted correctly) 69 times, 50 of them for the television program The Ruth Rendell Mysteries.  I would hazard that she is one of the most honored female English mystery writers since Agatha Christie.
  • And in 2009, perhaps the most famous female bullfighter in the history of the "sport," Conchita Cintron died at age 86.  Her first public appearance was in Lima in January 1936.  In one appearance in 1940 she was gored by the bull and taken to the infirmary but refused treatment and returned to the ring, dispatching the bull with one thrust before collapsing.  Durong her career she killed more than 750 bulls.  "Her record stands as a rebuke to every man of us who has ever maintained that a woman must lose something of her femininity if she seeks to compete with men."  -- Orson Welles.  Fans of the bullfight must forgive me if I assert that there is nothing noble in killing a large pot roast charging at you.

Florida Man:
  • 27-year-old Florida Man Gregory William Loel Timm was arrested after driving into a voter registration booth in Jacksonville -- two counts of aggravated assault on a person 65 years or older, one count of criminal mischief and driving with a suspended license.  Police reports did not specify which political party sponsored the registration booth, but the Republican Party of Duval country tweeted that "six Trump Campaign volunteers were intentionally targeted while registering voters."  Separately, GOP Chairperson Ronna McDonald tweeted, "We will not be silenced by cowards, and these disgusting acts only make us work harder to win in November."  Whether the incident was intentional has yet to be shown and McDonald's use of plurals indicates that the incident will be politicized.  Intentional or not, the incident should not be condoned.
  • Florida Man Nelson Gibson is upset that he isn't allowed to bring his life-size cardboard cutout of Donald Trump to his thrice weekly, three-and-a -half hour kidney dialysis sessions for emotional support.  Gibson's son told television station WPBF, "what I would really like to happen is for them not to infringe on my father's freedom of expression and speech and allow him to bring in the lifesize cardboard cutout that takes up less service area than a garbage can."  Gibson's family said that they were not sure when he would return for treatment.
  • Acting on a tip from the U.S. Marshal's Service, Hardee County Sheriff deputies went to locate Florida Man and fugitive (from what was not reported) Mario Orosco.  When they arrived at the location, a residence, deputies heard loud music and laughter.  They knocked but were not admitted for a half hour, and were told by Janesse Orosco that she had been taking a nap.  The deputies found Mario Orosco hiding in the attic.  They also found a heart-shaped chocolate box containing 17 baggies of marijuana.  It was, after all, just before Valentine's Day.
  • Romance is not dead for Florida Man Jim Cocci who encountered a large great white shark during a dive off Riviera Beach.  It turned out that the shark was one that had not been previously registered in the great white database of the Massachusetts Shark Research Program, which then entered the shark into the database and gave Cocci the honor of naming the shark.  Cocci posted on Facebook:  "Our 'new' shark has been entered into the database and is named 'Colleen' after my loving wife, very best friend and greatest diving buddy ever!  Happy Valentine's Day, Honey!"  Well, it wasn't a candy box full of marijuana.

People (and Things) Can Be Good Dept.:

This Week's Poem:
Old Man Platypus

Far from the troubles and toil of town,
Where the reed beds sweep and shiver,
Look at a fragment of velvet brown --
Old Man Platypus drifting down,
Drifting along the river.

As he plays and dives in the river bends
In a style that is most elusive;
With few relations and fewer friends,
For Old Man Platypus descends
From a family most exclusive.

He shares his burrow beneath the bank
With his wife and his son and his daughter
At the roots of the reeds and the grasses rank;
And the bubbles show where our hero sank
To its entrance under the water.

Safe in their burrow below the falls
They live in a world of wonder,
Where no one visits and no one calls,
They sleep like little brown billiard balls
With their beaks tucked neatly under.

And he talks in a deep unfriendly growl
As he goes on his journey lonely;
For he's no relation to fish or fowl,
Nor to bird or beast, nor to horned owl,
In fact, he's the one and only!

-- Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson

Sunday, February 16, 2020


Guy Winch is a licensed psychologist, author, and speaker.  He is the author of Emotional First Aid:  Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts and other books.  In this TED Talk he makes a compelling case for emotional hygiene -- taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies.

My late mother-in-law used to swear by "Irish* Alzheimers" where you forget everything but the grudge.  It doesn't have to be that way.

* Insert whatever nationality or ethnicity in your family.


Jim Reeves.

Saturday, February 15, 2020


B. B. King.


The New REPUBLIC PICTURE Starring Vaughn Monroe, Ella Raines and Walter Brennan!

The famous singing star of records and radio is a fighting western heros in this thrilling movie!

VAUGHN MONROE plays a bearded outlaw and a fighting sheriff in the big REPUBLIC picture, SINGING GUNS!  Don't miss it!

In Tru Color -- with Ward Bond, Jeff Corey, Barry Kelley, Harry Shannon, Tom Fadden, Ralph Dunn, Rex Lease, George Chandler, Billy Gray, Mary Bear, and Jimmy Dodd; with Elinor Donahue as "Mike Murphy's kid" -- Screenplay by Dorrell & Stuart McGowan -- Based on a novel by Max Brand -- Directed by R. G. Springsteen

Who is the dread Rhiannon, the outlaw?  Where is his secret hide-out with more than a million dollars of stolen gold, goal of the most intensive search in history?

A B-comic book based on a B-western.  What more could you want?

I thought you'd say that.  Enjoy.

Friday, February 14, 2020


It's Valentine's Day and Kitty is my valentine, now and forever.


The Mystery Book, edited by H. Douglas Thomson (1934)

The 1930s appear to have been the Golden Age of doorstopper British mystery anthologies, many of them published by Odhams Press in London -- big fat books with small yet still readable type.  Case in point is H. Douglas Thomson's The Mystery Book, collecting 50 stories and weighing in at a daunting 1086 pages.

Thomson divides the book into three sections:  Stories of Mystery and Adventure,Stories of Crime and Detection, and Stories of the Supernatural.  Due to the nature of the beast there is some overlap among the three sections.  Here you find stories both familiar and rare.  And you will meet up with such once-popular sleuths as Reggie Fortune, Max Carrados, Inspector Wilson, Lord Peter Wimsey, J. G. Reeder, Martin Hesselius, and Sherlock (may his light ever shine!) Holmes; throw in a couple of rogues such as Arsene Lupin and Raffles; add a large amount of other tales from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; mix well and you have an interesting tome that will occupy you for many nights.

Also included are two novels (harumph! -- novellas really), The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells and The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.  Thomson takes great pride in including both in a single anthology, the first (and probably not the last) this was done.  Two one-act plays are also included:  Thread o' Scarlet by Scotland's J. J. Bell and A Night at the Inn by the Anglo-Irish phenom Lord Dunsany.

There's May Sinclair's sexually understated "Where Their Fire Is not Quenched," a Russian detective story from Anton Chekhov, one of Dickens' "Sketches by Boz," Wilkie Collins' classic "A Terribly Strange Bed"( with its device that has since been used over and over in films and on television), Stacy Aumonier's unfairly forgotten "Miss Bracegirdle Does Her Duty," one of A. J. Alan's curious tales first read on the radio, and the minor classic "The Smile of La Gioconda" by Morley Roberts, among others.

Here's the lineup:


  • Stacy Aumonier, Miss Bracegirdle Does Her Duty
  • Max Beerbohm, A. V. Laider
  • J. J. Bell, Thread o' Scarlet
  • Ambrose Bierce, The Man and the Snake
  • Algernon Blackwood, The Occupant of the Room
  • W. Wilkie Collins, A Terribly Strange Bed
  • Guy de Maupassant, The Horla
  • Charles Dickens, The Black Veil
  • J. S. Fletcher, The Ivory God
  • Mrs. Gaskell, The Squire's Story
  • O. Henry, The Furnished Room
  • Thomas Hood, A Tale of Terror
  • Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher
  • Morley Roberts, The Smile of La Gioconda
  • H. G. Wells, The Invisible Man

  • A. J. Alan, My Adventure at Chislehurst
  • H. C. Bailey, The Nice Girl
  • Ernest Bramah, The Game Played in the Dark
  • Anton Chekhov, The Swedish Match
  • J. Storer Clouston, The Envelope
  • G. D. H. and M. I. Cole, The Missing Baronet
  • Freeman Wills Crofts, The Mystery of the Sleeping Car Express
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Speckled Band
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe
  • E. W. Hornung, The Wrong House
  • Michael Kent, Another Shot at the Locker
  • Maurice Leblanc, The Black Pearl
  • Dorothy L. Sayers, The Cave of Ali Baba
  • Robert Louis Stevenson, Markheim
  • Edgar Wallace, The Green Mamba
  • R. H. Barham, Jerry Jarvis's Wig
  • Agatha Christie, The Last Seance
  • F. Marion Crawford, The Upper Berth
  • Allan Cunningham, The Haunted Ships
  • Daniel Defoe. Mrs. Veal
  • Walter de la Mare, Out of the Deep
  • Lord Dunsany, A Night at the Inn
  • W. W. Jacobs, The Monkey's Paw
  • Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
  • M. R. James, Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad
  • Charles Lamb, The Witch Aunt
  • Perceval Landon, Thunley Abbey
  • Sheridan Le Fanu, Green Tea
  • E. Bulwer Lytton, The Haunted and the Haunters
  • Frederick Marryat, The Werewolf
  • Mrs. Oliphant, The Open Door
  • Sax Rohmer, Tcheriapin
  • Sir Walter Scott, Wandering Willie's Tale
  • May Sinclair, Where Their Fire Is Not Quenched
  • Bram Stoker, The Judge's House
There are a number of stories you have read -- probably many years ago -- but they are worth revisiting.

The Mystery Book is available cheaply from the usual online outlets, with the shipping costs from the UK far greater than the price of the book.  It is also available through Interlibrary Loan, which is where I got my copy.

Thursday, February 13, 2020


Steely Dan.


Nick Carter, Master Detective first hit the Mutual Radio airwaves on April 11, 1943, with Lon Clark on the title role.  Based on the long-running dime novel and detective magazine hero, Carter has changed quite a bit over the years in print and other media, from detective to the super-spy of the original paperback Killmaster series.  The show had a difficult time finding anchor on the Mutual network -- it occupied eleven different time slot in  three years, finally settling comforting  to a Sunday evening spot from 1946 to its end in 1952.

Clark maintained the title role for the entire life of the series, some 700 episodes.  In the early years of the program, Helen Choate played Carter's secretary, Charlotte Manson.  Sidekick "demon reporter" Scrubby Wilson was by John Kane.

"Murder in the Crypt" (or "Nick Carter and the Jackal God") first aired on August 2, 1943, from a script written by Walter B. Gibson.  A dead body in found in front of a statue of Anubis, the Jackal God.  Nick takes the measure of the case (pun intended).

Enjoy this walk into the Golden Age of Radio.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020


The Carpenters.  (And I will never forgive you, Karen, for dying so young.)


It's past time that we took a look at Ed McBain's The 87th Precinct, which ran from 1961 to 1962 on NBC.  Let's join Steve Carella (Robert Lansing), Bert Kling (Ron Harper), Meyer Meyer (Norman Fell). and Roger Havilland (transformed into a good cop for the series; played by Gregory Walcott) as they investigate a case of  the kidnapping of the wrong child.  Featuring Charles McGraw, Nancy David (yes, Mrs. Ronald Reagan), and John Astin, "King's Ransom" is based upon the book by McBain.  Directed by James Sheldon and scripted by McBain himself (one of only two episodes out of 30 that he scripted).   Cast member Gina Rowlands, who played Carella's deaf mute wife, does not appear in this episode.

When a couple of ex-cons set out to kidnap the son of wealthy shoe manufacturer Douglas King, they mistakenly grab the son of King's chauffeur.  Trying to cash in on their mistake, they still demand a hefty ransom from King.  King, afraid the demands will ruin him financially, refuses to pay. 

This episode first aired on February 19, 1962.  The following year saw the release of Akira Kurasawa's classic film High and Low, which was based on McBain's King's Ransom.

The long-running series of 87th Precinct books by McBain set the location in the fictional city of Isola (hah!  Everyone knows that this was a thinly veiled New York City.) but the television series transformed Isola back into New York City.

Enjoy meeting (or reacquainting yourself with) the men of the 87th.

Monday, February 10, 2020


Ray Stevens.


Openers:  On the pleafant banks of the Garonne, in the province of Glafcony, ftood, in the year 1584, the chateau of Monfieur St. Aubert.  From the windows were feen the paftoral landfcapes of Guienne and Gafcony ftretching long the river, gay with luxuriant woods and vines, and plantations of olives.  To the fouth, , the view was bounded by the majeftic Pyranees, whofe summits, veiled in clouds, or exhibiting awful forms, feen, and loft again, as the partial vapours rolled along, were flmetimes barren, and gleamed through the blue tinge of air, and fometimes frowned with forefts of gloomy pine, that fwept downward to their bafe.  Thefe tremendous precipices were contrafted by the  foft green of the paftures and woods that hung upn their fkirts, among whofe flocks and herds, and fimple cottages, the eye, after fcaling the cliffs above, delighted to repose.  To the north, and to the eaft, the plains of Guienne and Languedoc were loft in the mift of diftance; on the weft, Gafclony was bounded by the waters of Bifcay.

-- Anne Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolfo, a romance (1794)

The quintessential Gothic romance that helped p[ave to a spate of ruined castles. seemingly supernatural events, nasty villains, persecuted (and virtuous) heroines, and ;physical and psychological terror.  I tried to read the book several years ago, by was put off by "f" for "s" typography of the time and only got about halfway through book 1 (of 4).  I hope to fish it sometime this year, but you can bet I'm going to get a modern English version.


  • Hallie Ephron - Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel.  Nonfiction, from 2015.  "This comprehensive guide covers every aspect of mystery writing...By the time you finish reading part one of this book, you will have a blueprint for your entire story.  Parts two and three take you blueprint from idea to well-polished novel.  Part four is an insider's guide to getting it into an agent's or publisher's hands."  Coming from a highly respected family of writers, Jungle Red Hallie is a highly successful mystery writer and knows what's what.  This thrift store find appears to be well-read, with many parts underlined and whole sections marked with sticky notes.  I wonder if the previous owner actually wrote his/her novel and had it published.  I certainly hope so.

Oh, Freedom:  The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the high civilian honor a citizen of the United States can receive, although it has been given to a numbers of foreign nationals.  The medal is given "for meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."  Those honored are selected by the president, sometimes with the recommendation of the Distinguished Civilian Service Awards Board.

The first awards were given by President John F. Kennedy in 1963.  Receiving the award in 1963 were Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (architecture), Andrew Wyeth (art), E. B. White (literature), Edmund Wilson (literature), Thornton Wilder (literature), Marian Anderson (music), Pablo Casals (music), Rudolf Serkin (music), Edwin H. Land (photography), Edward Steichen (photography), Clarence B. Randall (business and economics; Randall was chairman of Inland Steel Company, advisor to both Eisenhower and Kennedy, and spokesman for the steel industry during the 1952 steel disputes), Genevieve Caulfield (education; Caulfield was a blind teacher who started a school for the blind in Thailand), James Bryant Conant (education; Conant, a noted chemist was a transformative president of Harvard University, utilizing many reforms -- of which racial equality, alas, was not one); Alexander Meiklejohn (education; Meiklejohn was an educational reformer, free speech advocate, and president of Amherst College); George W. Taylor (education; Taylor founded the academic discipline of industrial relations and served as a mediator to settle more than 2000 labor strikes); Annie D. Wauneka (humanitarian; Wauneka was a member of the Navajo Nation Council and worked to improve the health and education of the Navajo); Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter (Law), John F. Enders (medicine; Nobel Laureate Enders has been called the "Father of Modern Vaccines", J. Clifton MacDonald (philanthropy; damned if I can find anything about MacDonald; any information will be gratefully received), Ralph J. Bunche (diplomacy), Ellsworth Bunker (diplomacy), Robert A. Lovett (cabinet member; Truman's Secretary of Defence), Herbert H. Lehman (U.S. Congress; senator [D-NY] from 1949-1957 and former governor of New York; he was an early and vocal opponent of Senator Joseph McCarthy), Luis Munoz Marin (first democratically-elected governor of Puerto Rico), John J. McCloy (American High Commissioner for Occupied Germany, president of the World Bank, and advisor to all presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan), George Meany (labor union leader),  Jean Monnot (French political economist and diplomat), Alan Tower Waterman (science; a physicist, Waterman was the first director of The National Science Foundation), and Robert J. H. Kiphuth (head coach of the Yale University men's swim team; during his 41-year tenure Kiphuth had  record of 28 wins to 12 losses and brought the Elis to four NCAA titles).  All 31 honorees were given their medals by Lyndon B. Johnson in December of 1963.  Johnson also awarded a posthumous medal to JFK.

Few persons would quibble about the first recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Later recipients would include I. M. Pei, Norman Rockwell, Martha Graham, John Wayne, Carl Sandburg, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, Ansel Adams, Sam Walton, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, Will and Ariel Durant, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Thurgood Marshall, Edward R. Murrow, Lowell Thomas, Fred Rogers, Carol Burnett, Jonas Salk, Chuck Yeager, Colin Powell, Bill and Melinda Gates, Eric Hoffer, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Height, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, Rachel Carson, Roger Tory Peterson, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, Lech Walesa, Angela Merkel, Elliot Richardson, Madeleine Albright, Betty Ford, Claire Booth Luce, Margaret Chase Smith, Representative John Lewis, Sargent Shriver, Pope John XXIII, Billie Graham, Desmond Tutu, Pope John Paul II, Margaret Mead, Stephen Hawking, Neil Armstrong, "Buzz" aldrin, Michael Collins, John Glenn, Sally Ride, "Hidden Figure" Katherine Johnson, Jesse Owens, Arthur Ashe, Roberto Clemente, Mohammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Arnold Palmer, Babe Ruth, and Yogi Berra.

And that's just skimming through some of the names.  Medal of Freedom winners have added to our culture, our entertainment, and our way of life.

But because the ultimate say-so goes to the President of the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom has also been used for political purpose on both sides of the political divide. During the Iraq War, George W. "Mission Accomplished" Bush caused controversy by awarded the Medal of Freedom somewhat prematurely to three key players in the War: L. Paul Brennan, the civilian administrator of Iraq after the invasion of Baghdad, retired General Tommy Franks, who led the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and George Tenet, the former director of the CIA.  Of these three. let's look at Bremer and Tenet.  Bremer was involved in the postinvasion decision to disband the Iraqi army in 2003, leaving thousands of armed Iraqis with no work, helping to fuel the insurrection and the horrendous looting in that country.  Tenet assured Bush repeatedly before the Iraq War that Irq possessed banned weapons; he has also been faulted for the lack of better cooperation, communication and analysis prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks.  The Iraq War was a clusterf**k because the Bush administration had absolutely no plan for after the war.  Cheney figured the oil would pay for the war and really didn't care what happened after.  This lack of planning, of which all three Medal of Freedom recipients were involved. has led to billions of American dollars disappearing, violence, and political instability.  We are still suffering from this legacy.

Enough ranting about the Bush era foolhardiness.  Let's go on to Trump -- the reason I started going down the Presidential Medal of Freedom path.

Trump has awarded the Medal of Freedom to Elvis Presley (posthumously, of course), Arthur Laffer (Republican advisor and conservative economist who blamed the great recession on Barack Obama), Alan Page (former football great and the first African-American to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court and an advocate for children's education), Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (posthumously), Edwin Meese (Ronald Reagan's Attorney General), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Babe Ruth (baseball; posthumously), Roger Staubach (football), Tiger Woods (golf), Bob Cousy (basketball), Jerry West (basketball), Mariano Rivera (baseball), Roger Penske (auto racing), and, last week, Rush Limbaugh.

Rush Limbaugh?  Rush Limbaugh!  Perhaps not America's greatest bigot, but he's up there.  

Here's a few gems:

"Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream of society."

"When a gay person turns his back on you, it is anything but an insult; it's an invitation."

After Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke testified before Congress on the importance of health insurance covering birth control, "What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says she must be paid to have sex -- what does it make her?  It makes her a slut, right?  It makes her a prostitute."

On LGBT politicians getting elected:  "I guaranteed there'd be some people in the Republican establishment who will now think, 'Yeah, we need to do this.  We need to provide a home, we need to provide a comforting atmosphere for the tranny community and the gay community.' But those people are voting Democrat anyway."

"Have you ever noticed that all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"

"The NAACP should have riot rehearsal.  They should get a liquor store and practice robberies."

"I love the women's movement, especially when walking behind it."

"Obamacare is ...the largest tax increase in the history of the world."  This unfounded statement is rated Pants on fire.

"11 straight years of no major hurricane striking land [in the United States] bores a hole right through the climate change argument."  Another Pants on Fire ill-informed blathering.

President Barack Obama "wants to mandate male circumcision."  OMG!  Pants really on Fire.  Supposedly Rush from this one from Fox News.

Obama shut down NASA flights and turned the agency into "a Muslim outreach department."  Pants on Fire so much it's burning your chin whiskers.

The Obama administration "planned the influx of illegal children at the border."  Wrong.  Wrong. Wrong.

A black caller, upset at Limbaugh's racist tirade was told to "call back when you take the bone out of your nose."

He accused Michael J. Fox of "faking" Parkinsons.

He called then 12-year-old Chelsea clinton a "dog."

He was an early and vocal supporter of the "Birther Movement."

He repeatedly compares gay marriage to bestiality.

He made up a story about journalist Krystal Ball, saying that she posed nude when she was 14.

"The people who are shooting up schools more than likely vote Democratic when you get right down to it, if they vote."

Al Qaeda may have given up Osama bin Laden "for the express purpose of making Obama look good."

Among the right-wing conspiracy theories Limbaugh has promoted concern the death of Clinton White House aide Vince Foster, that Obama might cancel the 2012 elections, and that Obama was an African Colonial or an anti-colonialist (make up our mind, Rush).

Limbaugh also said the his Presidential Medal of Freedom is lessened because of several African-Americans who had previously been given that honor.Florida Man sets off

Limbaugh's career has focused on racism, misogyny, and utter nonsense, delivered in a hateful, offensive, and poisonous manner designed to fuel white rage.  Is there any wonder Trump threw red meat at his base by giving the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Limbaugh the day after Limbaugh announced that he had an advanced form of lung cancer?

For the record, I do not with cancer on anyone, even Rush Limbaugh, and I wish him well in his battle.

Phew!:  That took much longer than I intended.

Florida Man: 
  • If there ever is a Florida Man Hall of Fame, surely Kizer Pontoon, 28, will be one of the first inducted.  He was just arrested for the 66th time, and, no, that is not a typo.  God, I love Florida.
  • Willard Hawkins, 47, was arrested for killing his ex-girlfriend's 95-year-old lover at a Port St. Lucie nursing home, smothering the old gent with his own pillow.  Police did not have enough enough to arrest Hawkins back in September when the murder occurred, but they were able to charge him back then for driving his victim's Cadillac into a lake. Talking about killing the old geezer, Hawkins said, "I accomplished my life's goal, okay?  whatever happens to me after, that's fine."  Florida relationships can be tricky.
  • An unnamed Florida Man set of a Level 3 Hazmat alert when he began pumping gasoline into a fishing pole slot instead of hs boat's gas tank.  He dispensed some $60 worth of gas onto his boat's deck and onto the ground of a local 7-11. He evidently realized what he was doing and continued to pump the gas.  Alcohol may have been involved.
  • Florida Man Michael Offie, 42, of Groveland, has been arrested for criminal mischief and resisting an officer after smearing dog feces on a water meter lock.  Asked why he would do that, Offie told police, "Wouldn't you if they shut off your water?"  No, Mr. Offie, I wouldn't.
  • Florida Man and Stalker Deron Randall broke into a married couple's home.  He had made inappropriate comments on the woman's social media beginning several years ago.  She blocked him twice so he sent her a refrigerator and twice before broke into her home.  This time he left lotion, sado, and chips outside the couple's bedroom before being accosted by the husband.  While held at gunpoint before the police arrived, he began taking off his clothes, which is how police found him, naked and mumbling the woman's name.  The husband had to fire off a warning shot into a sofa to convince the man to stay.  As I said above, Florida relationships can be tricky.
  • Florida Woman Joanne Mercader, 59, threw a bucket of human feces on her landlord who was trying to evict her.  She then spread feces over herself to make it appear that the victim was the one flinging the human waste.  Police worked to get to the bottom of this crappy situation.  Mercader eventually confessed that she was the s**t-thrower but said she meant to throw a bucket of water on the victim and just grabbed the wrong bucket.  Who has a spare bucket of feces lying around the house?

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy -- Here Comes the Good News:

Today's Poem:  




ing edge of

(inquiry before snow

-- e. e. cummings

(Let me admit here and now that I don't understand this poem.)