Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


The realization that I was color-blind came completely out of the green.


A car song from 1964, courtesy of The Challengers.


Man Ray (born Emanuel Radnitzky, 1890-1976) was an American visual artist who spent most of his career in Paris.  his work spanned the visual arts and he was best known for his photography although he considered himself a painter.  He was a major contributor to the Dada and Surrealist schools of art and forged friendships with Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst, and photographed such luminaries as  Picasso, Dali, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Peggy Guggenheim.  His work was displayed in exhibitions with Jean Arp, Joan miro, Picasso, and Ernst.  He was named one of the 25 most influential artists of the 20th Century, and was specifically cited for "his explorations of film, painting, sculpture, collage, assemblage and prototypes of what would eventually be called performance art and conceptual art."

In the 1920s he made a number of significant short avante-garde films.  Les Mysteres du Chateau du De (The Mysteries of the Chateau of Dice) was a twenty-seven minute film which had Ray and a number of his friends visit a chateau for to days.  All the characters were masked.  They play dice, exercise, play by a pool, dance, and play dice again.  The gardens are exquisite, the surroundings expensive, the details strange and surreal.  A mannequin's hand holds the dice  Don't look for a plot.

It helps to know that dice were a symbol of the Dada movement. 

It should also be noted that, although the film was twenty-seven minutes long, all copies seem to run twenty minutes with no indication of any cuts in the film.  It is likely that the film was made at a different speed than the copies run.

Enjoy.  Or be confused.  Your choice.

Monday, July 27, 2020


The Rolling Stones.



 1)  Yes.
 2)  Male (?)
 3)  c/o Terminal 3, London Airport, Heathrow.
 4)  Twenty-seven.
 5)  Unknown.
 6)  Dr. Barnado's Primary, Kingston-Upon-Thames; HM Borstal, Send,Surrey; Brunei University            Computer Sciences Department.
 7)  Floor cleaner, Mecca Amusement Arcades, Leicester Square.
 8)  If I can avoid it.
 9)  Systems analyst, Sperry-Univac, 1979-83.
10)  Manchester Crown Court, 1984.
11)  Credit card and computer fraud.
12)  Guilty.
13)  Two years, HM Prison, Parkhurst.
14)  Stockhasuen, de Kooning, Jack Kerouac.
15)  Whenever possible.
16)  Twice a day.
17)  NSU, Herpes, gonorrhoea.
18)  Husbands.
19)  My greatest ambition is to turn into a TV programme.
20)  I first saw the deceased on 17 February 1986, in the chapel of London Airport.  He was praying           in the front pew.

-- J. G. Ballard, "Answers to a Questionnaire"  (Ambit, Spring 1985)

"Ambit  is a London-based 96 page literary and art magazine that features poetry, prose and art.  We strive to feature fresh voices and visions from across the world, placing emerging writers alongside giants of the scene.  Started in 1959 by London paediatrician Martin Bax, the magazine helped discover and establish Edwin Brock, Carol Ann Duffy, J. G. Ballard, Eduardo Paolozzi, William Burroughs, Fleur Adcock, Liz Berry, and Sir Peter Blake, among others.  Discover the greats of tomorrow today -- buy Ambit."  After more than six decades, Ambit is till being published; the latest issue (#240) was ;published this year.  J. G. Ballard served as an editor for the magazine, beginning in the late 1960s.

The short story above, "Answers to a Questionnaire," goes on to ultimately give 100 answers to this supposed questionnaire; we never see the questions and it is up to us to interpret them.  The respondent is a young person who questions his sexuality s we question his sanity.  We are left to conclude that he had been recruited by the Son of God (who may or may not have originated near the star Betelgeuse in the Orion constellation), who can bless humanity with immortality through a synthetic DNA introduced to the human germ system.  This being may or may not be just a huckster out to scam some of the most important people on the planet.  The questionee eventually distrusts this being and . deciding he did not want to spend eternity in his own company, assassinates him at an important function where either the assassin or the being is seated between Princess Diana and the Governor of Nevada.  Sentenced to death we learn that the assassin has been spared the immortality injection, whose side effect is sterilization, and is now responsible for restoring the national birthrate.

All this in just four pages and 100 questions.  On the surface this is a far out story, or is just results of the ramblings of a madman?  We will never know.  Our conclusions are drawn slowly as the fantasmagorical plot unfolds.  Within the answers there are some truths:  we see what we believe to be some true psychological motivations.  We also get a glimpse of man's obsessions with fame, sex, violence, and technology, all major themes in Ballard's work.  There is a coy wit that infuses this tale; we smile as we are taken along the winding paths that eventually reveal the actual plot.  Because we are smiling and appreciating the author's ingenuity, we can dismiss the story offhand but, after some reflection, it grows on us and takes on a more horrifying direction.

The story provided the basis of the short Italian film Grand Anarca (2003), directed by Alvise
Renzini and written by Lucio Apolito.  The 18-minute film is "a dark and twisted story of a genetic experimentation carried out in a block of flats.  Driven by the authoritative voice of the narrator, the purpose of the experiment seems by turns protective and malevolent -- until its real basis is revealed.  Even though the film is an account of the experiment, it's the treatment of the subject itself that is most significant:  using the authoritative, clipped language and the forms, lists and matrices concomitant with bureaucrats, Grand Anarca constructs a murky, labyrinthine world with considerable style.  An inventive and ingenious animation."  [www,]

James Graham Ballard (1930-2009) was one of the most influential and inventive writers of the last seventy years, at least as far as science fiction goes -- and probably mainstream fiction also.  H may be best know for his semi-autobiographical novel Empire of the Sun, which was filmed as a major motion picture by Stephen Spielberg.  In the science fiction world Ballard was one of the founders of the "new wave" of experimental fiction that defined much of the fiction of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  His stories of the future fantastical resort Vermilion Sands, where future artists expand the definition and meaning of art to include all sorts of technological and surrealistic breakthroughs.  His early short stories were noted for their stylistic acuity, depth of vision, and poetic sensibilities.  His first novels were Apocalyptic visions -- The Drowned World, The Crystal World, The Burning World, and The Wind from Nowhere -- all of which incorporated a distinctive, almost nihilistic, vision.  Ballard loved to experiment with his writing and he loved to explore the links between technology, sex, fame, obsession, and violence.  During the late Sixties and early Seventies he produced a number of nonlinear satires he called "condensed novels" with such titles as "The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race," "Plot for the Assassination of Jacqueline Kennedy." "Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan," "You: Comma: Marilyn Monroe," and "Queen Elizabeth's Rhinoplasty."  Needless to say, some of these stories were attacked by various groups, all of whom were looking at the surface of the stories and not the meaning and symbolism within.  Ballard's next three novels took a look at the disintegration of the individual and the worship of technology:  Crash (made into a controversial film by David Cronenberg), Concrete Island, and High-Rise.  Following the success of Empire of the Sun, which won the Guardian Fiction Prize and (famously) lost out on the Booker Prize (despite being the bookies' -- and the public's -- favorite), Ballard moved on to more semi-autobiographical work, psychological fantasies, and crime(ish) novels.  His Collected Stories of J. G. Ballard, a massive assemblage of 1196 densely packed pages and 98 short stories that covered four decades, is destined to become a mainstay of contemporary letters.

A distinctive and major voice, well worth exploring.

Dolly Parton, Old Style:  Like every other right-minded person in the world, I admire Dolly Parton, her voice, her talent, her personality.  I even do not mind her "Coat of Many Colors" song.  But there was a time when I  got sick and tired of "Jolene."  We were driving to Disneyworld and, just as we entered Georgia, Kitty picked up a cassette of Dolly's greatest hits.  Now Kitty bows to no one in her love for "Jolene."  As a result we played the @#$%! song repeatedly until we landed in Orlando, with Kitty and our two girls singing joyfully along.  For me, that was just a bit too much for one song...

A couple of weeks later I was able to listen to the song again with pleasure.

When I came across this version of the song recorded by Hildegard von Blingin done in medieval style, I had to post it somewhere and dedicate to my wife and children.  Here it is:

School Days:  Public schools in Florida were due to open on August 10, per order of the state's governor.  The timing of this was a little bit weird because Florida had designated its tax-free weekend for school shoppers to be August 7-9.  Yeah, let's go buy a backpack the kid'll like the day before school opens when choice and quality will be  at its most limited.  And school clothes?  Will there be any in the right size?  Or any that the child will wear?  And classroom supplies?  What will be left?

Because of COVID-19, our county school system is planning a (ahem) "safe" opening.  Children will be wearing masks, "when feasible."  They will socially distance, "when feasible."   Temperatures will be taken.  Students may enter the school at staggered times, although there will be just one school day for all students.  School buses will seat the kids two to a seat, rather than three, and the first to be picked up will be seated in the rear-most seats, and so on...did they even consider how stupid that sounds?  Students also have an option of remote learning but once a style of education is decided, the student is stuck with it for the entire school year.  Brick and mortar kids cannot become remote learning kids and vice versa.  And, at least for the elementary school children (the only ones I am familiar with because Jack is going into the third grade), parents have been given a list of school supplies for the entire year which they must deliver to the classroom at the beginning of the school year -- of course that is only for the kids actually attending a physical school.

School officials are working very hard to ensure have as safe an environment as possible (and "when feasible," I assume).

Florida is seeing a huge spike in COVID-19, thanks in part to the governor's insistence of opening the state far too early.  (He is an admitted sycophant of Donald Trump; that was the platform he ran on.)  There is an unproven theory that children are less likely to develop COVID-19, so schools should be relatively safe for them.  Well, there are a lot of theories about the disease, most of which are based on incomplete data and magical wishes.  The bitter truth is that we do not know much about the disease; doctors and scientists are learning more and more about it every day but that is a small drop in the bucket compared to what we need to know.  Remember when it was just old people with preexisting conditions in nursing homes who died?  A recent study indicates that children aged 10 to 18 are able to spread the disease as effectively as adults.  Oh, did I mention that a nine-year-old girl in Florida just died of the disease?  And one school (was it in Tennessee?) that opened last week had to close when on of their students tested positive.

Let's face it.  This disease is a killer that could have life-time consequences.  President Trump and many of his followers want the schools to open so the economy can improve, thereby increasing the (fairly dim, I hope) chances that he will be reelected.  Our government's initial response to this disease has been at first to ignore it, then to discredit the facts about it, and finally pretending that they have been effectively fighting it all along.  As a result of this poor, politically-focused, leadership, our country's population is now some 150,000 less than what it should be...and we are nowhere near to getting a handle on the outbreak.  The second wave -- which most people and doctors outside of the Republican party feel is inevitable -- could be much worse than what we are going through now.

COVID-19 has definitely thrown the economy and our social structure for a loop.  People are out of work.  Businesses have been forced to close.  Hospitals are overworked, undersupplied, and are being force to lay off staff because of falling income.  We are looking at some 13 million possible evictions in the future.  Those who are renting out apartments are becoming unable to pay their bills.  Our supply chain is broken and many of its essential workers are afraid to go to work.  Our border policies are working against us and against hundreds of thousands of immigrant families.  Unidentified and untrained forces in unmarked cars are being sent our cities -- mostly the ones who have Democratic mayors and governors -- to restore law and order, even though protesters were acting legally and peacefully, by gassing and attacking American citizens and arresting (kidnapping?) them without due cause or explanation. (I'm fudging a little bit on the protesters acting legally part, a few of them have been guilty of spraying graffiti, at least until recently when the federal government's actions became really overbearing.)  We now have walls of mothers and veteran's to shield protesters from the police.  One innocent protester struck in the head by a "nonlethal" rubber bullet will suffer permanent brain injury.  One protester had her mask forcibly removed so pepper spray could be sprayed in her eyes.  Is this the America we recognize.

No doubt about it.  Hard times are ahead.  There are no easy answers.  But are we willing to put the economy over our children's lives?  Or are we so morally bankrupt that we can allow that to happen?

Florida's governor has now delayed school opening for another two weeks.  And Florida is offering another learning choice for its students.  But we are still in the same mess.  Our schools do not know how to protect our children, despite the very best efforts of each school's administration and staff.  Yes, kids will suffer psychologically and socially if not allowed to go school, but perhaps they will live.  The economically disadvantaged and many minorities are going to be hardest hit and that should not be allowed to happen, but we are locked into an educational and economic system that is not working and that will punish the least of us.

The betting money is that schools will reopen and within a few weeks be forced to close anyway.

This whole situation sickens me.  The only way out of it -- if there is a way out of it -- is to let the grown-ups take over.  The petulant, narrow-minded children who are running this country have had their chance.

And, for Pete's sake, wear a mask!

Prejudice?:  As many of you know, I am a lefty, pinko, liberal, commie, red, socialist, progressive type of guy who tries to believe in humanity's best practices.  Bill Maher once said to Trump supporters. "I will stop calling you stupid if you meet me halfway and STOP BEING SO STUPID!"  Now, in my lefty, pinko, yadda-yadda way I have to agree with him.  But I also know that there are some well-meaning, rational people who still support the president.  So why am I so prejudiced against them?  This is a character flaw I have been trying to work on since the 2016 election.

I am basically a child of the 60s, raised on protest music.  Now, in 2020, there is a plethora of protest music (or social/political satire songs, if you will) from many different people.  For quite a while, with my 60s' mindset, I thought these songs were limited to the anti-Trumpers.  But then I stumbled across songs from the other side.  These pro-Trump, anti-liberal, anti-Hilary Clinton tunes seem to be pretty weak tea to me, oozing with invective.  I wonder if that's true or is that my prejudice?

Here's a random sample, one song from each side.  Tell me if I'm right.

Ha!  Ha!  Ha!:  Here's a Betty Boop cartoon from Max Fleischer that was supposedly banned for drug use.  I haven't been able to verify that this 1934 cartoon was ever banned or censored.  The cartoon was included in a DVD titled "Cartoon Crazys:  Banned and Censored," but this could well be just a marketing ploy.  The drug use in question is laughing gas.  And the cartoon is a wild fantasy that includes dental work for Koko the Clown (in his last cartoon appearance).


Florida Man:

  • Florida Man Alex Bancroft, 30, of Hillsborough County, has been arrested for making online threats of shooting Black Lives Matter protesters.  His post, which had been shared twice within the first sixteen minutes, read, " [deleted] black lives matter you [deleted] racists u can yell black power but when I yell white power I am the raciest [deleted] all of you I am going to start target practice on these mother [deleted] with there signs"  I suspect Black lives don't matter to this yahoo.
  • Florida Man and Christian radio host Rick Wiles has asked Donald Trump to use hollow-point bullets to put down "this communist revolution" in Portland, Oregon.  Making his remarks on his program TruNews. Wiles said that Trump has possession of 2 billion "Obama bullets" (hollow-points) that "Barack Hussein Obama hoarded to round up Christians and constitutionalists under a President Hillary Clinton."  Wiles had previously warned (before the 2018 midterm election) that if the Democrats won the election they "would slaughter tens of thousands of Christians."  He had also warned the MCNBC's Rachel Maddow was preparing to lead a bloody coup to overthrow the Trump Administration.  And, yes, Wiles does hold white House press credentials.  Somehow I don't think the man knows the meaning of the word Christian.
  • Florida Man Michael Womer, the self-styled "Gator Crusader," feeds hot dogs to hungry alligators by placing the weiners in his mouth.  And, yes, he has filmed himself  not losing his nose while doing this stunt.  No word on whether the hot dogs were kosher.
  • Where there is a Florida Man, there is a Florida toilet.  Well, quite often.  Florida Man Gregory Scott Jeffries, 53, of Micco, was arrested for kicking and punching his roommate while he was on the toilet.  (The victim was on the toilet, not the perp.  In case you're confused.)  Jeffries left before the police arrived at the scene, but came back later to confront once again, whereupon the victim conked Jeffries with a baseball bat.  According to police, it was determined that the victim was acting in self-defence.  And Florida Man Dave J. Toliver, 36, had to travel to East St. Louis for his toilet adventure.  Tolliver is charged with throwing a toilet through the front window of a Board of Education office.  And where was Tolliver when he was arrested?  A few blocks away, sitting on an old toilet at the corner of 11th Street and Cleveland Avenue.  Finally, there's Florida woman Nichole Nespolini, 40, of Melbourne, does not need any stinkin' toilet.  When arrested for drunk driving (with her baby in the back seat) she kicked the arresting officer and urinated on him.  Ah, motherhood...isn't it grand?

And Some of the Good Stuff:

Today's Poem:
Bugs Bunny (Loony Tunes)

I am here to tell you a story
of someone quite funny.
He's a cute little rabbit
by the name of Bugs Bunny.

He has lots of adventures
all over the world.
He is loved by the young and the old,
by both boys and by girls.

He loves to play pranks
and outsmart all his foes,
He puts dynamite in their guns
and lights matches between their toes.

He is surrounded with other characters
and other cast you may know.
Sylvester and Tweety, Taz,
and Elmer Fudd are just a few from his show.

Daffy Duck gets very jealous
of all the attention Bugs receives.
Daffy's the best on the show,
or so he believes.

Bugs is a timeless classic
watched by most kids.
I know for one my son loves him
just as much as i did.

-- written by rdl19732000, 12/2/2005

[Posted here because today is the 80th anniversary of the release of  A Wild Hare, the first Bugs Bunny cartoon]

Sunday, July 26, 2020


Who doesn't like goats?

And who doesn't like penguins?

So let's see happens when they get together...

Since that went so well, why not have the goats visit a Patagonian mara names Chupacabra ("Goat sucker")...SPRONK!


Nathan Pacheco.

Saturday, July 25, 2020


The Yardbirds cover a Chuck Berry classic.


British publisher Gerald Swan was one of the leading wartime publishers of books, magazines, and comics, in part because he had a large stockpile of cheap paper on hand when paper began to be rationed.  His output was cheaply produced and the quality was normally substandard.

Thrill Comics ran for 35 issues between 1940 and 1950.  None of the issues were dated.  In an accidental bit of symmetry, issue #16 had 16 pages -- 16 basically forgettable pages.

We lead off with a one-pager about Nosey Ned.  It is supposed to be funny.

Then we have a story of Ivan the Wolf Boy.  Ivan is a Russian-style Tarzan who, with his wolves, have been causing the Germans all sorts of trouble.  A ploy allows the Germans to capture him (sans wolves) but just as they begin to torture Ivan with a swastika-shaped branding iron, guess who shows up to help save the day?

Before the next major story, we are inflicted with a one-pager about Professor Crackpot, Our Crazy Inventor.  Prof C discusses some of his tired and pun-ish inventions for our elucidation.

Now that we have cleansed out palate. we can move on to an adventure of The Invisible Spy.  Yep.  The guy's invisible, thanks to his invisible cloak.  And he's a spy.  Lucky for us he works for the good guys.   In this tale he has to destroy an enemy "inaudible" submarine somewhere off the island of Heligoland.  The Invisible Spy causes some havoc at the submarine base through his invisible tricks.  He also steals the plans from the Germans and destroys the sub -- all in four pages.

Sam the Sticker is tasked by his superior officer to find a rebel native  near their base in Africa.  I now you can see this coming.  World War II...British soldiers...African natives...Stereotypes up the wazoo!  An African native captures Sam and is about to put him into the cooking pot, then...well, never mind; these stereotypes weren't funny then and have not mellowed with age.

Then there's another one-pager, this time about The Boss, who is a sort of Mr. Moneybags from the game Monopoly, only without the mustache.  This one is also supposed to be funny, as when The boss tosses a bomb meant for a bank into a well, the explosion brings up a cat that someone was trying to drown.

Fear not, our torture is almost over.  The final story, Meet Our Batty Brains Trust, takes the form of a quiz who with inane questions and answers that might -- just might -- tickle a three-year-old.

File this one under:  I read it so you don't have to.

However, if you are a sadist, here's the comic book:

Friday, July 24, 2020


The Founders Sing...and Jesus strikes back!


Edge #5:  Blood on Silver (1972), Edge #14:  Paradise Loses (1974), and Edge #49:  Revenge Ride (1985) -- all by "George G. Gilman"  (Terry Harknett)

Once upon a time in the 70s, seven UK writers would meet in a London pub.  They became known as the Piccadilly Cowboys, responsible for a large stream -- some 300 titles -- of paperback "adult westerns" in the 1970s and 1980s.  Their influence on today's western cannot be overstated.  They were Terry Harknett, Angus Wells, Kenneth Bulmer, Mike Linaker, Laurence James, Fred Nolan, and John Harvey.  Those seven also wrote more of their share in other genres, such as science fiction, crime, mystery, and historical;  Harvey, for example went on to write the best-selling Charlie Resnick mystery series.

Let's talk about Terry Harknett, who published books under his own name and as "George G. Gilman," "Joseph Hedges," "William R. James," "Charles B. Pike," "Thomas H. Stone," "Frank Chandler," "Jane Harmon," "Alex Peters," "William Pine," "William Terry," "James Russell," and "David Ford" as well as at least one book ghost-written for Peter Haining.  His most noted western series was Edge, with 61 volumes in the main series and 3 books in a crossover series with his character Adam Steele (who had 49 volumes in his own series by Harknett),  Both the Edge and Adam Steele series appeared under the pen name "George G. Gilman."

Edge is the name that Josiah C. Hedges took after the Civil War.   A half-breed of Mexican and Swedish descent, he entered the war as an innocent Iowa farm boy; during the four years of that war, he transformed into a vicious killer who slaughtered without compunction or remorse.  After the war he returned home to find his family murdered -- starting him on a bloody trail of revenge.  For Edge, the primary goal is survival.  He is not a psychopathic killer.  Someone may be able to point a gun at him once and live; not the case if he points the gun a second time.  And do not try to steal from him -- that would be a fatal  mistake.  But for the most part he just survives, neither causing nor looking for trouble.  Also for the most part, he has an expressionless face which sometimes can hide cold fury and white-hot anger.  Edge carries  rifle and a revolver, as well as a sharpened razor hidden in a pouch on the back of his neck, underneath his long dark hair; he can be lethal with all three.

In Blood on Silver, Edge stops by a farmhouse in the foothills of the Sierras.  There's a wedding going at the back of the house, with dozens of neighbors in attendance.  While Edge was in the barn seeing to his horse, a gang of killers headed by a renegade Quaker rode in and slaughtered everyone at the wedding -- men, women, and children -- except for the bride.  While Edge watched from the barn, the Quaker tied the bride upside down by her ankles over a well, demanding to know where a cache of silver was hidden.  The tortured bride had no answer and soon was killed also.  After the gang rode off empty-handed, Edge got out of the barn and fixed himself something to eat.

Edge then comes across a couple of hard luck, not very intelligent robbers, who were to meet up with the rest of their gang which had stolen two and a half grand from a wealthy businessman.  The two hardluck outlaws tried to kill Edge but he ended up capturing them for their bounty.  Riding to turn the two in he comes across the other members of the gang, who draw on him.  Edge kills the four outlaws, including their leader, Miller, and commandeers the loot for himself.  Twenty-five hundred dollars was far more than the hundred he would have gotten on the bounty for his two prisoners, he takes the money on hand and lets the two go.  One of them tells him that he has killed the son of Jake Tabor, the man who led the raid on the wedding party, and Jake Tabor was not the forgiving kind.

Not only does Edge have the Tabor gang on his trail, he crosses with a brutal band of Shoshone warriors, a giant Zulu loyal to Mason Wilder (the man who lost the two and the half grand), who then hired Edge to safely get his daughter to San Francisco.  And then there was a fortune in silver to be had.

Paradise Loses has Edge come across two men bound and dangling over a flooding river, destined to drown as the river rises.  He frees the two and off they go.  Soon riders from the town of Paradise come up.  Paradise is a religious community settled by strict Puritans who are quick to punish those who violate their rules.  It turns out that the two Edge had rescued had drifted into the town with another man and the two had lecherous thoughts about on of the town's women.  Thus they were bound over the rising river and God would decide their fate.  The third man had gone so far as to put hands on the woman so he was sentenced to die; Edge would soon see him thrown over a cliff to have his body severed on landing.  Edge figures that none of this is his business since in the previous book he had been a town called Hate where they hanged a man for spitting in the street.

Edge leaves Paradise fairly unscathed, not realizing that the "Angels" (as the people in Paradise are called) had picked his pocket and taken all his cash.  As he leaves, the two men he had rescued came back looking for vengeance, and they brought a band of twenty bloodthirsty Spokane Indians with them.  Massive slaughter follows.

Paradise Loses is also the sixth book in the series to incorporate Edge's Civil War experiences in a series of flashbacks.  The flashbacks actually take up more than half the book, with each chapter having a flashback, followed by Edge's experience in Paradise.  (The only indication that you are switching from one storyline to another is a single space line, making it a bit confusing for the ready to figure out where he is.)   During this series of flashbacks, Edge and his company of six men  try to assassinate Jefferson Davis, fail, and are captured.  Brought to the Confederate prison in Richmond, they have until morning to escape the gallows,  Edge's men are as lethal as he is, although some of them kill just for the fun of it.  The bloodbath that follows has dozens of Confederates blown up, shot, dismembered, drowned, and otherwise meeting a dismal death.

Revenge Ride begins when Edge rides up to an isolated ranch near the Mexican border, hoping he can find water and food.  What he finds, however, is a man tied and buried up to his neck, burning in the hot Southwestern sun, a group of buzzards waiting nearby for the man to die.  The man says that he was knocked out and buried by the two women who own the place.  The women were lesbians and he thought one of them was interested in him so he tried to have his way with her.  The women then rode off to town for supplies.  Edge frees the man and is rewarded by being hit in the back of the head by a shovel.  He comes to (with some possible aftereffects) to find the women treating his wound.  His guns, money, horse, and saddle are all gone; the once-buried man, named Delmar Pyle. had also wrecked the women's home and possessions.  Edge is determined to go after Pyle, regain his possessions, and kill the man.  The two women are also hungry for revenge, and promise to stake Edge if they allow them to accompany him and if he does kill Pyle.

Pyle, a hard luck loser and addicted gambler, has a title to half interest in a Mexican gold mine said to be worth more money than a man could spend in a lifetime.  As he heads toward Mexico, Edge and the women follow.  Along the way, Pyle keeps falling to his gambling habit and has to kill a number of people to regain a stake.  The  body count in this novel pales in comparison to the other two, but be assured that there are guts, brains, and innards strewed throughout the landscape in this tale, along with needless killing and torture.

The Edge series was touted as the most violent western series ever and it basically earns that reputation.  As noted, however, much of the violence does not come from Edge, who appears to be just trying to get along and to survive.  Edge's world is a dystopian one.  Violence and death are an everyday occurrence.  Few people survive an Edge novel.

Unlike many of the adult westerns of the time, and those that followed, there is no emphasis on sex.  Despite having opportunities, Edge is not interested in sex when his survival is at stake.  Violence may happen to some women and occasionally one will be stripped naked, but there is no rape and very little titillation.  Edge is also tolerant of homosexuality.  In the flashback's in Paradise Loses, a member of Edge's group is gay; the other members make fun of this, but Edge does not.  A person's worth lies in his ability to help Edge survive and not in his sexual preferences.  Edge does not disapprove of the lesbians in Revenge Ride.  He figures that each person o\f made differently and it is none of business how.

The Edge books are also laced with quirky humor, anachronistic jokes. and tasteless puns -- something that added to their popularity.  The action is spaghetti-western fast and while Edge is not a character to emulate, he is one to empathize with.  It is no wonder that the series has gained cult status.

It may not be your particular cup of tea, but for those with a semi-strong stomach, the series is orth checking out.

Thursday, July 23, 2020


In the annals of bad songs ever, this one must rank very high.  Ohio Express has a lot to answer for.


When I think of Paladin I think Richard Boone.  But there was a different Paladin on the radio:  John Dehner.  Paladin is hired by Nevada's governor to deliver a kidnapper to Carson City.  There are complications.

Also featuring Ben Wright and Virginia Gregg.


Wednesday, July 22, 2020


From 1934, The Dorsey Brothers' Orchestra, with solo vocals from Kay weber, Tommy Dorsey, and Glenn Miller.


My neighbor's wife left him because he was too OCD.  He said, "Fine.  Don't forget to close the door five times on your way out."

Tuesday, July 21, 2020


The Moody Blues.


Here's one for those who give a Hoot about old westerns

Hoot Gibson as Buck Bonner assume the role of The Morning Glory Kid, a recently killed outlaw.  Bonner is sent by the governor to bring in the Mort Ringer Gang.  Things go south when two outlaws expose Bonner as a U.S. Marshal.

Also featuring Stanley Blystone as Mort Ringer, Ruth Mix (daughter of Tom Mix) as Chita Ringer, June Gale as eye-candy and Rancher's Daughter Jessie McCoy, Buzz Barton as Annoying Little Kid Tony, and Slim Whitaker and Budd Buster as Slim and Bud, the two owlhoots who bust Bonner's identity.

Saddle up, partners!

Monday, July 20, 2020


A history lesson from the ever-feisty Malvina Reynolds.


Openers:  Four men were in Sargon's back room that night.

What their names were didn't matter, because nobody used his right name in Martinique -- not if he could help it.

There ere the times when the island was dominated by the Vichy government, when a man's life was valued only in terms of his wits,  what these men were was known only to themselves -- individually.

In those days, almost everything was illegal in Fort de France, the capital of Martinique.  Tension smoldered the hidden fires of Mount Pelee, the towering volcano which twenty years before had all but blasted the island off the map.

What might blast Martinique next was anybody's guess.

-- "Maxwell Grant" (Walter B. Gibson), A Quarter of Eight (originally from The Shadow Magazine,October 1, 1945)

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?  The Shadow knows!"  And so did millions of radio listeners and readers in the Thirties and beyond.

The Shadow had a humble beginning on July 31, 1930, as the mysterious narrator of Detective Story Hour, a radio program created by Street & Smith to promote their pulp magazine Detective Story Magazine.  Soon they discovered that customers were going to newsstands asking for "that Shadow detective magazine."  Realizing that they has a good thing, they began planning a magazine featuring the character.  They hired Walter B. Gibson to develop and flesh out the character.

Gibson (1897-1985) began his career as a reporter and crossword puzzle writer for Philadelphia newspapers.  In 1928, he was recruited to edit True Strange Stories for MacFadden Publications; the magazine lasted for eight issues (March 1929 to November 1929) and Gibson used the pseudonym "Webster Scofield" on the masthead.  Beginning in the late Twenties, Gibson -- a professional magician -- wrote over a hundred books on magic, the occult, various games and tricks, true crime, and psychic phenomena.  He was a ghost writer for Harry Houdini, Howard Thurston, Harry Blackstone, sr., and Joseph Dunniger.  Gibson wrote at least five of the Biff Brewster juvenile mysteries as "Andy Adams."  He novelized Preston Sturges' The Sin of Harold Diddledock, published as by popular humorist Harry Hirshfield; Hirshfield had been contracted to write the book but couldn't, so Gibson stepped in.  He adapted a number of Rod Serling's scripts for The Twilight Zone for two collections.  As a homage to the magician Blackstone, he created Blackstone, the Magic Detective for both the radio and comic books.  He wrote many comic book stories for twenty-two separate titles from nine publishers.

The first Shadow story from Gibson appeared nine months after the narrator of Detective Story Hour first appeared.  It was The Living Shadow, the first of 325 Shadow novels to appear in The Shadow Magazine, and Gibson wrote 282 of them.  (The remaining Shadow stories were written by Bruce Elliot, Theodore Tinsley, Richard Wormser, and Lester Dent (the author of the Doc Savage series).

The popularity of The Shadow led to a radio series on Mutual radio, beginning on September 26, 1937.  For the first year, Orson Welles voiced the character; later The Shadow was voiced by Bill Johnstone, Brett Morrison, John Archer, and Steve Courtleigh.  The radio series lasted for 17 years, ending on December 26, 1954. 

The radio Shadow was different from the pulp character.  In the pulps, the Shadow's secret identity was Kent Allard, a World War I flying ace.  After the war, Allard falsifies his death in the South american jungles; he returns to America to fight crime under a number of aliases.  On the radio, he is Lamont Cranston, a  wealthy young man about town.  The radio also introduced Margo Lane as Cranston's love interest.  The pulps also had the Shadow as Cranston, but this Cranston was a real person whose identity The Shadow assumes,  Gibson hated the idea of The Shadow having a love interest but eventually also introduced her to the pulp stories.  The radio Shadow had "the mysterious power to cloud men's minds, so they could not see him."  The pulp Shadow's identity and background remained ambiguous during the first half of its run.  The Shadow also had a large roster of "assistants" to help him in his adventures; most of these assistants were cut out of the radio episodes for the sake of simplicity.

Fourteen years after The Shadow Magazine, Belmont Books began a series of nine new Shadow novels under the :Maxwell Grant" pen name.  The first of these was actually penned by Gibson, and the remainder by Dennis Lynds.  Over the years, The Shadow novels have been reprinted in fits and starts by various publishers, sometime with editing both light and heavy.  In 2006, Sanctum Books began issuing the novels in omnibus editions; 151 volumes and two annuals were published through this January, covering 279 of the original novels.  Due to the expiration of their license to reprint to saga, three of The Shadow's adventures -- all written by Bruce Elliot -- remain without a reprint.

The Shadow has also appeared in numerous comic books from 1940 until the present day, a daily comic strip that ran or two years in the early Forties, and a series of films from various studios, beginning in 1930 and culminating in 1994's The Shadow, starring Alec Baldwin.

This past week it was announced that The Shadow will return.  Best-selling author James Patterson will release a number of new Shadow novels, beginning in the Fall of 2021.   Something to look forward to.

Over his career, Walter B. Gibson wrote over 15,000,000 words about The Shadow, and that doesn't count his other writing.  At his peak, Gibson wrote some 168,000 words a year.  His legacy left an enduring mark on american popular culture.


  • Raymond Chandler, Later Novels & Other Writings.  a Library of America edition containing the novels The Lady in the Lake, The Little Sister, The Long Goodbye, Playback, the movie script Double Indemnity (written with Billy Wilder). five essays, and eleven letters.  It's hard to believe that I first read most of these more than half a century ago.  They still remain fresh today.
  • Joseph L. French, editor, Great Sea Stories.  this volume combines the two Great sea Stories volumes that French had edited, "with such additions from today's [i.e., 1943 or earlier] stirring tales of the sea as carry on the spirit in which the original stories were gathered."  together,"  A total of 29 stories, mainly fictional, from such authors as Wilkie Collins, James Fenimore Cooper, Richard Dana, Bret Harte, Victor Hugo, Jack London, Captain Marryat, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, W. Clark Russell, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Frank R. Stockton.
  • "George Gilman" (Terry Harkness), Edge #5:  Blood on Silver, Edge #15:  Paradise Loses, and Edge #49:  Revenge Ride,  Violent westerns all "not for the faint-hearted."  Edge is the "meanest, most vicious killer the West has ever seen."  "Because he has no pity, follows no rules, and lives only to win, he always has the edge."  The series, beginning in the early 70s and continuing through the 80s, was wildly popular and ran for 61 volumes, most being reprinted several times.  Blood on Silver brings Edge to the Comstock silver lode, where he faces off against the Tabor Gang, led by a renegade Quaker, a band of brutal Shoshone Indians, and an African giant.  Paradise Loses takes Edge to the town of Paradise, run by severe and uncompromising Puritans, who do not hesitate to use a whipping post, a pillory, or a stake stacked with brushwood for burning.  Revenge Ride has Edge teamed up with "a hot-blooded pair of hard women on the corpse-littered trail of a homicidal losr, whose bound for Mexico and a fortune in gold."
  • Otto Penzler, editor, Dangerous Women.  An anthology of 17 original crime and suspense stories about the fair (and very deadly) sex.  The  authors are Ed McBain, Michael Connelly, Joyce Carol Oates, Walter Mosley, Laura Lippman, Nelson DeMille, Thomas H. Cook, Andrew Klavan, John Connolly, Lorenzo Carcaterra, J.A. Jane, Ian Rankin, Jay mcInerney, S. J. Rozan, anne perry, Elmore Leonard, and Jeffrey Deaver.  With a line-up like that, how can you go wrong?

Florida Man:  Gosh, I didn't have to write anything about Florida Man today because Leigh Lundin covered it pretty well in his column for Sleuthsayers yesterday.   Check it out.

Sleepy Time:  Today would have been the 85th birthday of legendary singer Sleepy La Beef, who died last year on December 26, and whose final performance had been just four months earlier.  He was born Thomas Paulsley LeBeff in Smackover, Arkansas (isn't that a great name?), the youngest of ten children whose father farmed cotton and watermelons.  He earned the nickname "Sleepy" because he had a lazy eye.

When he was eighteen he moves to Houston and began singing gospel music on the local radio and less religious stuff with bar bands, and on such country radio programs as Louisiana Hayride.  During the 1950s he stuck mainly to rockabilly music and expanded to a more country style in the mid-Sixties.  His wide repertoire included "root music, old time rock and roll, Southern gospel and hand-clapping music, black blues, Hank Williams-style country.  We mix it up real good."  He had over a thousand songs that he could perform at a moments notice.  He was indefatigable on stage.  That, and his looming six foot six inch presence, help make his concerts -- at one time he was performing 300 days a year -- unforgettable.  I saw him over twenty years ago at Boarding House Park in Lowell,!

The link below takes you to his June 25, 1988 performance at the Amesbury Day celebration in Amesbury, Massachusetts.  The play list will give you an idea of his range:  "Jumbalaya," "You're Humbugging Me," "Hello, Josephine," "Blue Suede Shoes," "Lost Highway." "Poke Salad Annie," "These Boots Are Made for Walking," Welcome to My World." "Your Cheatin' Heart." "Move It on Over," "Life Turned Her That Way," "Big Mamu," "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," "Loving Cajun Style," "School Days," "Little Queenie," "Blue Moon of Kentucky," "Whole Lot of Shakin'," "I Got It," "Have Some Fun Tonight," and "Boogie Woogie Man."

Rollo:  Speaking of anniversaries, on this date in 911, the Viking leader Rollo laid siege to Chartres, France.  This may sound familiar to those who watched National Geographic's television series Vikings, which imagined Rollo as the brother of Ragnar Lothbrok (Ragnar himself was a legendary character who may of may not have been real).  Rollo was born about 860 AD somewhere in Scandinavia of either Danish or Norwegian stock and was perhaps of noble lineage.  A fierce warrior, Rollo successfully led his band of Vikings in a siege of the strongly defended, highly fortified city of Chartres.  Charles III (known as Charles the Simple) rallied his forces to rout Rollo's men.  Rollo made a defensive wall by slaughtering the livestock from his ships; the sight and smell of the rotting corpses stymied Charles' men and apace was negotiated with the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte.  rollo was given the Duchy of Normandy in exchange for vassalage, religious conversion, and a vow to defend the Seine's estuary from Viking incursions.  Well before that time, the Normans or their descendents had conquered England, Southern Italy, parts of Africa, Ireland, Wales, and made incursions into Byzantium.  Rollo's descendent William I of England is the 32nd great-grandfather of the current queen, Elizabeth II.  Legend has it that Rollo was also an ancestor of Charlemagne.

Not bad for a man who shares the name with a candy bar.

Good News:

Just for the Heck of It:  Here's a 1942 anti-Hitler cartoon, The Ducktators:

Today's Poem:
A Still Moment

Take a moment.
Put the worries behind.
Take in the beauty around.
Let it relax your mind.

Watch the golden glow
Of the rising morning sun.
Embrace the peaceful aura
Of the break of dawn.

Savor the soft caress
Of the gently moving breeze.
Listen to its nifty tune
Among the swaying trees.

Enjoy the lovely scene
Of a floating butterfly.
Graceful flight and happy tweets
Of a bird perched up high.

Peruse the evening sky
In its dazzling splendor.
The wide and open pallet
Merging shapes and colors.

Relish the locing sight
Of children having fun.
Skipping feet and carefree voices
Under the setting sun.

Spare a still moment
Every once in a while.
Take in the beauty around.
Take it in with a smile.

-- Abimbola T. Alabi

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Saturday, July 18, 2020


Here's a little known title from R. B. Leffingwell & Co., a minor publisher who also put out one  issue of Pop-Pop Comics around 1945.  Jeep Comics lasted only two quarterly issues, vanishing into the mist with the Spring 1945 issue, only to reemerge three years later with issue #3, from Spotlight Publishers (another low-budget minor house) in March-April 1948.

Ah, but there was another totally unrelated Jeep Comics, a weekly compilation of such characters as The Phantom, Flash Gordon, Blondie, Tarzan, Red Ryder, Jungle Jim, The Katzenjammer Twins, and more.  This thin (usually 16 pages) comic book was a giveaway comic for the US armed services and was never available to the general public.  Since this is not the Jeep Comics I'm talking about, just ignore this entire paragraph.

Jeep. a recently discharged hero of the Battle of France, was given an old jeep in lieu of discharge pay.  Working in his garage, he invented a rocket attachment for the vehicle, which enabled the jeep to fly.  (Presumably, Jeep has also worked out a way to control his flying jeep. because it can do all sorts of flying stuff.)  (Also, did I mention that Jeep wears a large red cape with a black circle inside two white circles on it?  I didn't?  Well, he does, although I have no idea why.)  So Jeep goes on his maiden flight on his jeep. taking along his young pal, Peep.  The sight of Jeep and Peep in a flying jeep astonishes the town -- but not so as the trees in the town becoming animated, "robbing banks, jewelry stores and citizens."  Jeep immediately comes to the only logical conclusion -- the trees are reacting to chemical rays of some they must be controlled by a large plane flying overhead!  Jeep flies out to investigate.  We now go inside the plane to hear the criminal mastermind Dr. van Duyvil gloat, The chlorophyll atomic animator is working perfectly!  those trees will soon be clutching everything they can get their branches on...then our men down there will collect and meet us at our secret air field!"  The bad guys send out an atomic chemical field to balk Jeep, who falls down into the branches of an animated tree.  But let's not forget Peep!  The plucky young lad uses a two-handed lumber saw by himself to cut down the tree and save Jeep.  Jeep then borrows a new electronic de-atomizer from the Army and goes after the baddies once more.  Fear not, kiddies!  Jeep and Peep and jeep win the day and even save a shipment of gold destined for the governments in liberated Europe!

This issue also has stories featuring Superstitious Al-O-Ysius (the pixie-like son of the goddess Fortuna), Toto (the little boy from Mars),  Chriss Cross (the master lock-picker), Captain Power (Ernioe Power, that is, an Army Ranger), and "Solid" Jackson (a.k.a. Professor Xerxes Herakles Jackson, scientific crime fighter).

All in all, a solid mix of stories for both younger and older readers.


Friday, July 17, 2020


My mother would have been 98 today.

She was born Millard Harriet Ford in 1922.  In a case of what were they thinking? the Millard came from a contraction of her parents' first names -- MILdred and BernARD.  Luckily, she went by Harriette (some time along the way, she added the final T and E; "It's Harriette, with two Ts and an E."  Her father died tragically in a gas explosion when she was seven; by that time her mother had another baby.  As far as I can tell, her mother was a bit of a scatterbrain.  She decided to move herself and the two girls from Massachusetts to Florida.  That's when my great-grandmother, Celia, put her foot down, saying that Harriette was staying with her.  And so she did, she was raised by Celia who was a retired school teachers and one of the first female members of a town school board in the state -- so learning was of a high value in that household.  (It should be noted that Celia was not her actual grandmother; she was a relative who took in Mildred when she was young and raised her -- something that was not uncommon with extended families of that time.  Celia was always "Ma" to my mother and to us.}

My mother grew up as a pretty, giggly, and popular girl, but the feeling of being deserted by her own mother never left her.  After high school she studied nursing but gave it up when she married my father when she was 19.  My father worked on a local farm run by an old bachelor and later become a full partner in the farm.  My mother moved onto the farm with my father, the bachelor and two maiden aunts.  It was not the happiest time for her; there was some isolation and money was tight.  Her first child was my sister, Linda, followed by three miscarriages.  Then I came along, a sickly infant due to the Rh factor (the reason for the three  miscarriages), and was the first baby to live with this factor in the area, due to a lot of blood transfusions.  I became healthy and went home.  My younger brother, Kenny, was not as fortunate; he was kept in the hospital as the doctors worked to save him until they finally sent him home to die.  Spoiler Alert!  He didn't and grew up healthy.

Around the same time, my father began building houses in his spare time. eventually growing the  business and becoming  a leading building contractor in the area.  My mother's social world expanded, mixing well with others in the town.  My father had a strong, outgoing personality and he and Peg (his nickname for her -- "Peg o' My Heart") made a great combination.

Through it all, my mother remained bothered by her mother's desertion.  She was timid and afraid to speak her mind, bowed to the will of others (especially doctors and lawyers), more willing to follow than to lead.  She could be a snob.  She was afraid to drive and only got her license the day before she turned 36.  Still she was a good mother, kind at heart, and a mother figure to many of their younger friends.

She was also a bit of a hypochondriac, with good reason.  She had a bout of cancer when we were young.  For a while she shuffled along, causing my brother to name her "Scoots" -- a name that followed her until the day she died.

She was 58 when my father died from a horrifying accident.  She went into a shell for a while and only got out of it when she started dating a widower friend.  They spent over twenty years together. 
A few weeks before she died, she had my father's leather chair recovered in some godawful color called sea foam.  She was so proud of that.  The chair is now with my daughter Jessie.

My mother had a hard life.  She also had a good life, thanks to my father.  He adored her and made her both proud and happy.  As kids, we were basically ignorant of the hard times and just a little less ignorant of the good times -- kids live in their own world, not their parents' world.  As we got older. we became more aware of her painful past, but that never held a candle to her feelings for us.  She was a good mother, loved us and was proud of her kids, and allowed us to grow up as independent people and thinkers.

Two other things come to  mind:  She had a great voice and was a pretty good piano player.

And at her funeral, her gentleman friend's son-in-law, a Baptist minister, was scheduled to speak for just a few minutes.  The sonuvabitch railed on for over half an hour with a hellfire and brimstone sermon that had little to nothing to do with my mother.  I'll never forgive the miserable bastard for that.

My mother was a good person who worked hard to overcome the tragedies of her childhood.  As with many of us, she did the very best she could.  I'm proud of her and I miss her.

Happy birthday, Scoots!


Glenn Yarborough.


The Thing That Made Love by "David V. Reed" (1950)

Published in a cheap digest edition with a provocative (for the times) cover from Uni Books, here are some of the blurbs:

  • Out of the swamp crept this figment of a fevered prey...
And from Mammoth Detective, November 1944, where the story first appeared under the title "The Metal Monster Murders":
  • The Most Unusual Mystery since "The Hound of the Baskervilles"
  • Before your very eyes you see a monster kill a lovely girl!  But can you believe what you see?  Here is the most terrifying, mysterious, weird tale of murder you have ever read!
  • Three women and a man died -- murdered by a metal horror.  Yet two of them still stalk the streets; to provide a mad alibi!
And that provocative cover?  A Marilyn Monroe look-alike on  mountain of metal, her blouse torn down to her midriff, her low-cut, black lace bra showing a lot of breast, looks up in horror as a dark figure with a metal hand looms over her.

Zowie!  Wow!  With that kind of hype this could have been a contender.  Except it wasn't.  The 1950 Uni Book edition was the only book edition of this novel, which sank without a trace.

The author, "David V. Reed" (David Vern, born David Levine, 1914-1994, or perhaps 1984 -- both dates have been given), began publishing in 1939; most of his stories were published in magazines -- science fiction and otherwise -- edited by Raymond A. Palmer.  In other words, they were quick, facile, and aimed at a younger audience.  Reed was perhaps best known for his sequel to Don Wilcox's "The Whispering Gorilla," aptly titled "The Return of the Whispering Gorilla"; the two stories were combined in 1950 as The Whispering Gorilla.  He was also the author of Murder in Space, an attempt to merge the murder mystery with a western in outer space.  Much of his work was published under house names, many of which are not known, but include Alexander Blade, Craig Ellis, Clyde Woodhouse, and Peter Horn.  In the 1950s, he had a noted run writing Batman adventures for DC Comics; he returned to Batman for a three-year stint in 1975, replacing writer Denny O'Neill.

Reed was not adverse to adding his professional friends and colleagues in his work.  He appears as himself in The Thing That Made Love in a major role.  Peripheral characters in the original puplp magazine story include Alfred and Rollie Bester, "Craig Ellis," John Broome, Henry Kuttner, David Wright O'Brien, "Lee Rogow," and Manly Wade Wellman.  Ellis and Rogow were pseudonyms used by Reed.  Many of these nods to his friends carried over to the 1950 novel, as did mention of Dashiell Hammett's Continental Detective Agency.

The book itself is a compilation of documents, notably a "diary" written by Elliott Hammond, a newspaperman accused of murder; the diary is more a collection of memories and impressions, written after the fact by a very unreliable narrator.  This is backed up with various letters, court transcripts, newspaper stories, and David V. Reed's editorial comments.  The last fifty pages includes various theories on what just did happen in the novel.

Elliot Hammond has long been in love with Jean Lowell.  While on assignment to write an article about growing war production, including scrap, Hammond goes to a large scrap yard -- hundreds of acres of mountains of metal intertwined with a labyrinth of paths, all located on a swamp -- and meets the man in charge who happens to be his old friend Jim Shilling, whom he hadn't seen since Shilling mysteriously left three years before.  We later learn that Shilling had spent the time hopping from country to country, finally ending up in Peru.)  Hammond and Shilling renew their friendship and shortly thereafter Hammond brings Jean to a party on the barge by the scrapyard where Shilling lives.  When Jean and Shilling meet they fall instantly in love.  Realizing he now has no hope with Jean, he does the noble thing and approves of their relationship, continuing to remain good friends with Shilling.

But there is something wrong with the scrapyard.  Both Hammond and Shilling hear mysterious voices.  And there's a sense of...something...something wrong.  Soon they begin to hear a disembodied voice from the scrapyard, reciting poetry from Whitman and Milton among others.  Then they begin to get thoughts from somewhere outside their experience.  Whatever is in the scrapyard is telepathic and can enter either of their brains.  Eventually they realize that this is a living thing of unknown origin, a thing made of metal.  (Think Swamp Thing, or Theodore Sturgeon's "It.')  And it slowly dawns on them that the Thing has other, inexplicable powers.

The Thing (now capitalized) is trying to understand its place in the world and trying to relate to human emotions and feelings, including sex.  At the same time it is antagonistic to mankind and fears it.  One evening, it enters the mind of Katherine Gray, who was leaving Shilling's barge.  Katherine was mentally ravaged, dying in ecstasy, and somehow strangled.  Hammond had witnessed this but could not prevent it; the Thing had made a small part of itself visible -- a thin, metal coil about two inches long and glowing with a red hotness, floating in the air.  For the most part, the Thing remained invisable.  Later, the Thing mentally controls Katherine's body, making her walk past the scrapyard watchman as if nothing were wrong and leaving the scrapyard.

Then Hammond's newly-wed wife is murdered, her dead and strangled body somehow appearing at their apartment.  And Hammond is beginning to have strange dreams and hallucinations.  Will he be able to convince others -- and himself -- about what is really happening?  And what is really happening, anyway?  Two more people then die in a violent explosion,  were these deaths accidents or murder? 

Despite being a newsman, Hammond's mental state and his inability to put much of what he knows and feels into words makes his "dairy" writings confusing and, at the beginning, off-putting.  It is only after you get about a third of the way in do you begin to get a glimpse of what might have happened.  This may be why the book never made it into reprint.  A shame, because The Thing That Made Love is actually a very good book (heavy on the psychology, which only adds to the mystery and horror) despite its herky-jerky-ness and its inconsistencies.  The titillating parts aren't; they are about as exciting (but nowhere as explicit) as an army hygiene film.  This could be another reason why the book was not very successful.

For a pulp story that originated in a Ray Palmer magazine, this stands far above RAP's typical editorial fare.  The experimental nature of the story, combined with Hammond's confusing and unreliable story, mask a well-told mystery/horror story that is well worth plodding through the first 50 pages or so.

Abebooks lists two copies of The Thing That Made Love for a hundred bucks and more.  For the curious, Mammoth Detective November 1944 issue with "The Metal Monster Murders" is available online at Internet Archive.

Thursday, July 16, 2020


Today Jack turned eight.

Our grandson has been an important part of our family since he was six weeks old, when Christina and Walt began fostering him.  A few years later -- after many legal complications and much patience -- he was adopted into the family who loved him.

Jack is a character.  Outgoing, personable, witty, and (sometimes) wise beyond his years, he ia apt to come up with questions and statements that no eight-year-old should.  Energetic, he put the "act" in "active," running, jumping, tumbling, dancing...

He is super-cool and often dresses like a dude.

His smile could kill.

He likes Legends of Tomorrow, The Transformers, and movies about dogs.

When he is in the mood or is very, very tired, he gives the best cuddles.

He loves his parents because they are the best.  He loves his brother and looks forward to running with him.  He loves his sister because he can frustrate her.  Yes, Jack can be frustrating, but what eight-year-old isn't?

Life without Jack can be boring.  We are lucky because our life is not boring -- certainly not for the last eight years.

Jack has added so much to our lives.  We can only try to add as much to his.

As this amazing young man continues to grow and mature, we look forward to being there with him and for him.


Seals and Crofts, from 1972.


Man from Homicide is Lieutenant Lou Dana, a cop who has a "dirty, dangerous job that doesn't end until the killer is found.  I don't like killers."  The show ran on ABC Radio in 1951 for at least 14, and possibly 18 episodes, starring both Dan Duryea and Charles McGraw at different times. 

From  "Man from Homicide brought audiences gritty stories, seedy criminals, sordid crimes and an outline of police procedure infused with drama.  Lt. Dana is a cynical yet determined detective who has seen it all, and uses that experience to outwit less seasoned criminals and bring them to justice."

Planned as a summer replacement show, Man from Homicide was not picked up for additional episodes.  Why is a mystery to me; the show had all the ingredients for further success.

"The Winthrop Case" has Dana (Charles McGraw) investigating murder at a shady love nest.  this was evidently an audition tape that evidently aired as the premier episode during the program's regular run as "The Spoiler," It was recorded on September 16, 1950.  By the second episode McGraw had been replaced by Duryea.

Only three episodes survive.  Enjoy this one. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020


From 1959, Ray Smith.


ChicYoung's comic strip Blondie began in 1930 and is still running today in more than 2000 newspapers and in 35 languages.  In the beginning, Blondie Boopadoop was a gorgeous showgirl with a knockout figure being wooed by Dagwood Bumstead, the bumbling son of a wealthy family.  Even though his family threatened to disinherit him if Dagwood married Blondie, they tied the knot.  Cut off from his inheritance, the two begin domestic life and soon have a son, Alexander (Baby Dumpling), to be joined later by daughter Cookie.  Over the years, they have assembled a solid cast of characters and a series of running gags.

Blondie hit the movie screen with a self-titled B feature from Columbia in 1930 starring Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake.  Eventually there were 28 Blondie films, ending with Beware of Blondie in 1950.   Singleton and Lake took their characters to the radio in 1939 for an eleven-year run, and Lake reprised his character in the first of two Blondie television series in 1957, with Pamela Britton as blondie; the second series ran for the 1968-1969 season and featured Patricia Harty and Will Hutchins.  Blondie has also appeared in numerous comic books, comic strip collections, animated television shows, and several novels. and has spawned a gazillion merchandising items.  Dean Young (Chic's son, who took over the strip after his father's death) created a chain of Dagwood Sandwich Shop's, which struggled for four or five years before going belly-up with shops nly in five states rather than the proposed 13.000 locations nationwide.

(The official Dagwood sandwich included "three slices of deli bread, hard salami, pepperoni, capicola, mortadella, deli ham, cotto salami, chaddar, provolone, red onion, green leaf lettuce, tomato, fresh and roasted red bell peppers, mayo, mustard, and a secret Italian olive salad oil."  Yum!)

Blondie Meets the Boss was the second movie in the series.  Dagwood's long awaited vacation is postponed by his boss Mr. Dithers and Dagwood quits in frustration.  Blondie pleas with Dithers to give Dagwood his job back and Dithers agrees, providing Blondies runs the office while Dithers nis out of town on business.  Blondie goes back to work while Dagwood stays home with Baby Dumpling.  Complications ensue, including a totally innocent but compromising photo of Dagwood clutching a girl, a land deal that Dithers wants Blondie to close, and Dagwood accidently entering a jitterbug contest. 

It's funny and warm.  You might enjoy this one.

Monday, July 13, 2020


Happy Birthday, Louise Mandrell!


Openers:  My uncle was a genius and a poet -- of course, he was as poor as David's rat, and lived in a garret.  He was a kind-hearted man, and I loved him too sincerely to hesitate at putting my neck in jeopardy once a day by climbing the crazy ladder, which afforded the only means of reaching his celestial abode.  Yet after taking all this trouble it frequently happened, that I found my uncle too busy with the Muses to bestow any of his attention on so insignificant and animal as his nephew.  On these occasions he contented himself with shaking me by the hand in silence, laying his finger on his lip, and pointing to a joint-stool, which stood close by the window, for he occupied himself the only chair in the room, and even that had but three legs to boast of:  the joint-stool therefore though not so dignified a seat, was in fact a much more secure and comfortable one.

But when I found myself established on my joint-stool, how was I to employ myself?   -- When my uncle was seized with one of these fits of inspiration, they frequently continued for a considerable time:  where then was I to find amusement during this interval?  My uncle was too much an author to think any body's works worth reading except his own; for those I happened to have no great taste, and I did not care to affront him by asking for the productions of any other brain.  Reading then was out of the question; but in order that my eyes be not quite idle, I employed them in examining what was going on in the house opposite to us.  By the help of a pocket telescope, [I] could distinctly see every thing which passed our neighbour's first and second floor; and after indulging myself for some days kin these observations, I became so well acquainted with every member of this unknown family, that I felt myself as much interested about their proceedings, as if I had been a member of it myself.

You will say that this systematic espionage was not very honourable:  I allow it -- But then, on the other hand, it was very entertaining; and I am now going to bribe you to approve of my conduct, by admitting you to a partnership in my stolen knowledge.

-- M. G. Lewis, :"My Uncle's Garret Window:  A Pantomimic Tale" (from Romantic Tales, 1808)

Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775-1818) was most noted for his early Gothic horror novel The Monk, first published anonymously when he was 19.  It was an immediate sensation and often decries as semi-pornographic.  The novel concerns Ambrosio, a monk with a flawless reputation who is nonetheless a lecher, rapist, and murderer, and Matilda, a young novice whom Satan uses to propel the monk deeper into villainy.  It is considered one of the most influential of the early Gothic novels.
Inspired by Horace Walpole's Castle of Otranto and Anne Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho, Lewis went a step further, eliminating the sentimentality of those novels and vividly describing horrors rather than obliquely alluding to them.  Another influence may have come from the German genius Goethe, whom Lewis met during a sojourn to Weimar in 1792; at the time Goethe was formulating his Faust, portions of which are reflected in The Monk.  Unlike what might assume from the  novel, Lewis himself as not a profligate, but rather was a sensitive, intellectual, and kindly man.  When it came time for a second edition of the book, Lewis toned down the novel, publishing it now as Ambrosia; or, The Monk, but even this somewhat milder version was considered scandalous.  Throughout his lifetime, Lewis became known as "Monk" Lewis.

The son of a diplomat, Lewis had been trained to follow in his father's footsteps.  His father at one time served both as the Chief Clerk of the War Office and Deputy Secretary of War.  Lewis' mother left her husband when Lewis was six, going off with the family's music master.  Divorce was seldom granted in those times, and his parents remained married, although separated until his father's death in 1818.  Lewis sided with his mother and was upset at the relatively poor financial condition his father had left his mother; when able, he supported his mother, who eventually became a Lady in Waiting for the Princess of Wales.

Lewis was also a member of Parliament and he owned two large tracts of land in Jamaica, along with 500 slaves.  In a "have your cake and it eat" mode, Lewis was supportive of the antislavery movement and made arrangements for his slaves to be freed upon his death.

Lewis was an active writer and translator.  He composed many plays and translated some works, other foreign works he freely adapted for tales of his own.  Many of those stories -- both fantastical and not -- are included in his four-volume work Romantic Tales.  He also wrote a number of poems, including "Alonzo the Brave, and Fair Imogene," which was the inspiration of  "The Hearse Song" (Remember when you were a kid, singing "The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out,,," to the tune of Gounod's "Funeral March of a Marionette"?)  For the curious see Today's Poem, below.

Lewis died of yellow fever at age 42 while sailing from Jamaica to London.  Fearing contagion, the captain buried him at see.  In a final macabre twist, the weights meant to sink the coffin broke loose, and the coffin holding the author of The Monk floated off into the distance, heading who know where.

Yahoo, Seriously?:   From a text conversation between our daughters and my wife:

J:  I had to listen to a coworker today rant about how the virus is a Democratic hoax to get Trump out of office.

Kitty:  For real?

J:  100% believes it.  Won't wear a mask, the flu kills more people than the "so called virus" and it's just a cold.

Kitty"  OMG, I hope she doesn't spread it to you.  You're immunity compromised.  [Note:  My daughter battled breast cancer last year]  Which one is she?

J:  I'm not compromised.  My immune system is just fine.  She's the hick from Alabama.

Kitty:  OK.  I thought it might be.  Loves Trump, right?

J:  Yup.

B:  Is this the same lady whose son has good arguments for being a flat-earther?

J:  It is the same lady.  Hick.

     And a couple of days later:

J:  The hick has now started going on about how quarantine is infringing on her civil liberties.

Kitty:  Oh, mercy me!

B:  Exactly how is she doing that?  What is it that she wants to do so much that she is being prevented
from doing?

Kitty:  Does she want to go to buck-a-beer night somewhere?

J:  Her grandchildren live in Texas, and that is a hot spot state, so if she visits, she has to self quarantine when she returns.  Unpaid self quarantine.

Kitty:  Aha!  Inpaid is against her rights.  Why don't they come to her?

J:  A____ can't afford to get her and the three boys here.

B:  She can go and just not tell anyone she did it.  They don't ACTUALLY lock you up for a self quarantine.

Kitty:  Just goes to show that kids and parents should live in a 10 mile radius of each other.

     Please not that the term "hick" does not apply to all Alabamans.  The vast majority of Alabamans are intelligent, reasonable people.  But, if the shoe fits...

School Days:  So Trump wants all the schools to be open in the fall, coincidently just before the November election.  Brick and mortar, person to person learning.  Most states seem to be willing to go along with this, although a growing number of individual school districts are pushing back.  If states are again closing bars and restaurants because of Covid-19 resurgence, why are we reopening schools?

Don't get me wrong, I want the schools to reopen safely.  I just don't think they can.  Not the way Trump and the Republicans think they can.  Public schools have always had to fight for their budgets.  Most classrooms are overcrowded and small.  Teachers have had to purchase student school supplies out of the own money.  Kids are apt to forget or ignore pandemic safety rules.  In Florida, schools are mandated to open August 10 and the recommended guidelines should be followed "as feasible. "  So many things, however, such as social distancing are not feasible.

Some claim that children are far less likely to catch the disease and far less likely to infect others.  In truth, we have no idea what rules Covid-19 follows.  We have no idea what this disease is capable of.  We're learning more and more about it every day and what we're learning is increasingly scary.  Many school children are in close contact with those we know can be harmed by the disease; many live with their grandparents or someone else who may be compromised.  The potential effect on teachers and staff may be significant.  Remote learning is possible but not ideal.  Many students do not have access to a computer.  Many do not perform well with remote learning.  Developing and monitoring a curriculum for remote learning takes a lot of time and technical skill that some teachers just do not have.

In higher education, many colleges are shifting to on-line classes.  This puts foreign students (who provide a good percentage of a school's income) in a quandary.  If these students are not attending brick and mortar classes, they will be deported -- many will have a hard time returning to this country once the pandemic is over and things return to sort of normal.  Some schools are opting to have their foreign students to attend one on campus class a week to get round this dilemma,  We'll see now that works.

I don't have any answers.  Our educational system has been caught flat-footed.  Tight budgets and a lack of innovative planning have finally caught up with us.  Students must continue their education with as little disruption as possible.  To keep the schools closed will have a profound effect on our kids and on the economy.  To open the schools prematurely or unwisely may just kill both them and others.

Welcome to 2020.

Recommended Reading:  I have pronounced on this blog several times my appreciation of author Max Allan Collins.  I just finished reading the fifth western about Caleb York bylined Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins.  The first novel in the series,The Legend of Caleb York, was adapted by Collins from an unproduced movie script written for the production company of his friend John WayneThat initial outing told how Wells Fargo detective and fast gun Caleb york became the sheriff of the small New Mexico town of Trinidad in the latter part of the eighteenth century.  In the books that have followed, Collins used discarded ideas and snippets from Spillane's drafts of the script to build his stories.

Collins is noted for using historical incidents and characters in many of his novels but, for the most part, he has set reality aside and has used the mythic west as the backdrop to the Caleb York saga.  In the latest book in the series, Hot Lead, Cold Justice (Kensington, 2020), he breaks the mold slightly and uses the historical "Big Die-Up" -- a fierce and fatal blizzard that swept the western states in 1866 to 1867, reaching even to the lower parts of New Mexico -- as a backdrop to the tale.  Actually, one could consider the Big Die-Up to be an important character in the book.

Caleb York has been in Trinidad for a year now and things are usually calm.  As the temperature plummets and the storming is edging into town, York's deputy, former desert rat Jonathan P. Tulley borrows York's dark frock coat and black hat to keep himself warm during his rounds.  Tulley is ambushed, shot twice; although he has lost a lot blood, he survives.  York, who has bad his share of enemies over the years, figures that he was mostly the intended target and that Tulley, wearing his outer clothing during a dark, stormy night had been mistaken for him.

There were three suspicious characters in town, cozying up to the owner of the town's harness shop.  Later they were joined by another sinister-looking man with one dead, milky eye.  From the description, York knows the man to be Luke Burnham, a cold-blooded killer who used to ride with Quantrell and whom York had captured a decade before, sending him to ten years in prison.  By the time recognizes Burnham, he and his three cohorts have ridden our of town, into the ever-increasing storm.

The gang heads to Las Vegas, New Mexico, a town some thirty miles away.  There, they rob the bank, slaughtering a guard and the bank's president, and flee back to Trinidad where they plan to hide out until things blow over.  What the bad guys did not reckon on was the ferocity of the storm -- all four of their horses froze on the road to Trinidad.  Luckily for them a wagon stopped by and offered the four a lift into Trinnidad; unluckily for the man and his son in the wagon, they were murdered.  Back in Trinidad, Burnham becomes obsessed once again with killing York.

If that wasn't enough, York is feeling guilty on his inability to decide between two lovely women he is attracted to.

Hot Lead, Cold Justice is a well-plotted, realistic western with well-defined characters and great sense of place.  It's a fast-paced, action-oriented read, just right for pandemic night's entertainment.

Young Man Afraid of His Horses:  Thasunke Khokiphapi (or as near as I can represent his birth name), was a Oglala Sioux Indian chief born in 1836.  Best known by his English name, Young Man Afraid of Horses, he was the fourth in a line of Oglala chiefs to bear that name, which is more properly translated as His Horse Is Feared, or They Fear His Horse -- meaning that he was such a warrior in battle that even the sight of his horse would induce fear.

(The Oglala Sioux were part of the Lakota Nation.  Many modern-day Oglala reject the term "Sioux" because it may have stemmed for the Ojibwe term [with negative connotations] for "snake"; the Ojibwes were traditional enemies of the Oglala.  The current preferred term is "Ogala Lakota.")

The 1864 Sand Creek Massacre (in which the U.S. Army attacked and destroyed a Cheyenne and Arapaho village in the Colorado Territory, killing an estimated 70-500 natives, about half of whom were women and children) brought about retaliatory raids by the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Oglala Sioux. During these raids, which lasted several months, Young Man Afraid of His Horses was a leading warrior during these raids.  In 1866, the American government called a council of the Indian leaders, who had been upset because Army forts had encroached on their hunting territory, to obtain a right of way from the Lakota for forts and roads.  During the conference, however, the Army began to construct Fort Kearney without Lakota consent.  This infuriated Young Man Afraid of His Horses' father (who was now known as Old Man Afraid of His Horse) and he stormed out of the council.  This was a major precipitating factor in Red Cloud's War of 1866-1868, the only Indian war to end in defeat for the United States.  Again, Young Man Afraid of His Horses had an instrumental role in this conflict.

In 1868 the Oglala council bestowed one of their highest honors -- a head shirtwearers and protectors of the people -- on Young Man Afraid of His Horses, American Horse, Crazy Horse, and Sword Owner; these four were the last head Oglala shirtwearers, and Young Man Afraid of His Horses was the only one of the four to keep his shirt until he died,

Following Red Cloud's War, Young Man Afraid of His Horses, while remaining staunchly Lakota, worked tirelessly for his people, negotiating with the Federal government and pleading for just treatment.  He attended delegations to Washington, acted as a negotiator for his people, and served President of the Pine Ridge Board of Councilmen.

As we all know, the government did not have Native American rights and wellbeing foremost in mind.  More and more land was taken from them.  In 1889 the government reduced the Lakota beef issue by 20%.  The following year came a devastating drought that killed many of the tribe's cattle, leading to many Lakota deaths.

In 1890, the Ghost Dance mania swept across many tribes.  The Ghost Dance was a religious ceremony that promised Native Americans a return to the old ways, the restoration of the buffalo, unification of then Indian nations, and a reunion with the dead.  much of what the Ghost Dance promised seem to speak to the Lakota and Young Man Who Is Afraid of Hid Horses and several other leaders sent delegates to Nevada to learn more.  Many Oglala then became ardent supporters of the movement but Young Man Who Is Afraid of His Horses was not one of them; instead he took his band on an extended hunting trip outside the reservation and thus avoided both the killing of Sitting Bull and the Massacre at Wounded Knee.

Young Man Who Is Afraid of His Horses had made peace with his old enemies the Crow.  On this day, 127 years ago, he left his reservation to visit his former enemies and fell dead from his horse, suffering a heart attack or a stroke.  He was 56 years old.  Young Man Who Is Afraid of His Horses was buried with military honors at Pine Ridge Reservation.  A link with the old ways of the Lakota was severed.

The Name Game:  One British mother needs help.  She named her daughter Clara and regrets it.  Two years in the name just "doesn't fit."  And besides, there are about four other Claras the same age in the neighborhood.  So she's asking for ideas.  Among the names that have been suggested so far ar Lally, Lara, Loretta, Claire, Coco, and Carrie.  A few people have been crass enough to ask what the hell was wrong with Clara.  So far she's leaning toward either Coco or Carrie.  No word on what the kid thinks.

Is this a prime example of First World problems?

Simple Gifts:  To the anonymous person who gifted me with a Whataburger wrapper and a used candy bar wrapper by tossing them on the back seat of my car two nights ago, thank you.  Your kindness and generosity will not be forgotten and please don't do it again.

Florida Man:

  • Florida Man Bill Dunn, 65, of  Holiday, has been banned from his local Publix supermarket after a "highly irate" encounter over face masks.  Unlike many other Floridians, Bill is not refusing to wear a mask.  Quite the opposite.  The stink he raised with management was about other customers not wearing masks while he was in the sub line.  Bill has diabetes and sometimes needs to use an oxygen machine, so he got quite vocal about employees telling the Publix customers to wear the masks.  He got even more vocal when "they said, 'No, we're not enforcing the law.' "  Good for Bill; boo and hiss to Publix.
  • St. Johns  County Commissioner Paul Waldron, a Florida Man through and through, is now hospitalized with Covid-19 -- a week after he voted against mandatory face masks.  Hr is now in "the most critical of conditions" having gone into septic shock and with many of his organs struggling.  I sincerely hope he recovers, but be careful of what will come back to bite you.
  • Florida Man Jack Vasileros went fishing off the coast of Clearwater in a winged rainbow unicorn floaty and landed a huge tarpon.  Luckily friends were nearby in a real boat to help him load the fish.  A floaty is less intimidating to a tarpon than a regular boat, so it is more apt to come near it, Vasileros said.
  • Florida Man and absolute waste of protoplasm Steven Anthony Shields, 24, crashed his minivan through the front door of Ocala's Queen of Peace Catholic Church and set the church afire with an incendiary device.  Several parishioners were inside but no one was hurt.  Shields then lead police on a vehicle chase before being apprehended.  the ATF is investigating.
  • Florida Man and former Miami cop Jordy Yanes Martel, was arrested after video surfaced of him placing his knee on a pregnant Black woman's neck after tasering her twice during an incident last January.  The woman later suffered a miscarriage.  Martel was fired but until the video surfaced last week had not been charged.
  • Glib, fast-talking Florida Man David Terrell, who owns an agricultural spraying company, convinced the Wauchula City Commission to allow him to spray the town with hydrogen peroxide to fight Covid-19.  There is no data to say that this will work.  Of course, there's no data to say it won't.  Let's wait and see.

Happy, Happy:

Today's Poem:
Alonzo the Brave, and Fair Imogine

A warrior so bold, and a virgin so bright,
Conversed as they sat on the green;
The gazed on each other with tender delight:
Alonzo the Brave was the name of the knight, --
The maiden's, the Fair Imogine.

"And O," said the youth, "since to-morrow I go
To fight in a far distant land,
Your tears for my absence soon ceasing to flow,
Some other will court you, and you will bestow
On a wealthier suitor you hand!"

"O hush these suspicions," Fair Imogine said;
"Offensive to love and to me;
For, if you be living, or if you be dead,
I swear by the Virgin that none in your stead
Shall husband of Imogine be.

"If e'er I, by lust or by wealth lead aside,
Forget my Alonzo the Brave,
God grant, to punish my falsehood and pride,
Your ghost at the marriage shall sit by my side,
Shall tax me with perjury, claim me as bride,
And bear me away to the grave!"

To Palestine hastened the hero so bold,
His love she lamented him sore;
But scarce had a twelvemonth elapsed, when behold!
A baron, all covered with jewels and gold,
Arrived at Fair Imogine's door.

His treasures, his presents, his spacious domain,
Soon made her untrue to her vows;
He dazzled her eyes, he bewildered her brain;
He caught her affections, so light and so vain,
And carried her home as his spouse.

And now had the marriage been blest by the priest;
The revelry now was begun:
The tables they groaned with the weight of the feast,
Not yet had the laughter and merriment ceased,
When the bell at the castle tolled -- one,

Then first with amazement Fair Imogine found
A stranger was placed by her side:
His air was terrific; he uttered no sound, --
He spake not, he moved not, he looked not around, --
But earnestly gazed on the bride.

His visor was closed, and gigantic his height,
His armor was sable to view;
All pleasure and laughter were hushed at his sight;
The dogs, when they eyed him, drew back in affright;
The lights in the chamber burned blue!

His presence all bosoms appeared to dismay;
The guests sat in silence and fear;
At length spake the bride, -- while she trembled, -- I pray,
Sir knight, that your helmet aside you would lay
And deign to partake of our cheer."

The lady is silent, the stranger complies --
His visor he slowly unclosed;
O God!  what a sight met Fair Imogene's eyes
What words can express her dismay and surprise,
When a skeleton's head was exposed!

All present then uttered a terrified shout,
And turned with disgust from the scene;
The worms they crept in, and the worms they crept out,
And sported his eyes and his temple about,
While the spectre addressed Imogine:

"Behold me, thou false one, behold me!" he cried,
:Remember Alonzo the Brave!
God grants that, to punish thy falsehood and pride,
My ghost at they marriage shall sit by thy side;
Should tax thee with perjury, claim thee as bride,
And bear thee away to the grave!"

Thus saying his arms round the lady he wound,
While loudly she shrieked in dismay;
Then sunk with his prey through the wide-yawning ground;
Nor ever again was Fair Imogine found,
Or the spectre who bore her away.

Not long lived the baron; and none, since that time,
To inhabit the castle to presume;
For chronicles tell that, by order sublime,
There Imogine suffers the pain for her crime,
And mourns her deplorable doom.

At midnight, four times in each year, does her sprite,
When mortals in slumber are bound,
Arrayed in her bridal apparel of white,
Appear in the hall with the skeleton knight,
And shriek as he whirls her around!

While they drink out of skulls newly torn from the grave,
Dancing round them the spectres are seen;
Their liquid is blood, and tis  horrible stave
They howl:  "To the health of Alonzo the Brave,
And his consort, the Fair Imogine!"

-- M. G. Lewis