Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, April 30, 2021


"Could TED DUSTIN, rocket explorer, and MAZA, beautiful princess of Lunar, srem the powerful hordes of GREEN MONSTERS whjo sought to conquer the World?

A one-shot SF title from Avon Comics from 1951, complete with beautiful princess in a skimpy bra and a split skirt that shows off her fantastic gams.  (The skirt that is -- not the bra -- showing off the legs.  Ted Dustin wouldn't be hlding nher so tight nif that were the case, right?)

Also in this ish:  "The Death Doll," Flash Harper, crack news photographer for Daily Slant and reporter Amy Bell, travel to Slavonia to face off with an underground crime organization that uses voodoo dolls.


NOTE:  As David Lee smkith points out below, this is a rip-off of Otis Adelbert Kline's Maza of the Moon.  Also I screwed up and posted the wrong link.  Fixed now.


 Phil and Don.


 A Shadow of Death by :Gordon Ashe (John Creasey) (1968)

John Creasey, author of more than 500 books, published fifty-seven thrillers about Patrick Dawlish from 1939 to 1976 under the name "Gordon Ashe," one of more than twenty pseudonyms Creasey used to manage his prodigious output.  Dawlish started his career as a British Military Intelligence operative, parachuting into occupied territory to  both rescue allies and to sabotage German works.  Following the war, Dawlish "retired" to a farm, while also acting as an unofficial private detective who specialized in lost causes.  The series took another turn with  1960's The Crime Haters, in which Dawlish is recruited to join the International Crime Conference as Britain's representative, and having the title Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Crime at Scotland Yard created for him.  The Conference, a far-reaching assembly of police officials from dozens of countries, was formed with the task of hunting down international criminals and had far more power than Interpol.  The group was soon dubbed The Crime Haters and Dawlish rose to become one of its most important members.

Since this is a John Creasey series, the Crime Haters soon became involved in massive international criminal plots that threatened the safety of the world and at the forefront was Dawlish, a stereotypical romantic hero full of derring-do.  A Shadow of Death was the ninth Crime Haters book and the fiftieth in the Dawlish series.  The threat this time is science fictional and apocalyptic; with a little tweaking this could have become on of Creasey's Dr. Palfry's world-ending thrillers.

A research physicist has developed the ultimate weapon from an ingot of nuclear waste -- capable of giving off rays that can reduce men to ashes within minutes.  Anyone within the the "shadow" of these rays is doomed.  The rays can penetrate any material and their range is not known.  The rays can only be blocked by a special container which not only holds the ingot but is able to aim it.  The ingot has the capability of destroying both cities and governments.

A somebody has stolen it.

Charged by England's Minister of Defence to find the weapon before it is used by some individual, organization, or rogue government, Dawlish enlists the help of the Crime Haters.  With few leads, Dawlish puts his life on the line in search of this weapon and those who threaten to use it against an innocent population.

Like all books in the series, A Shadow of Death is a fast-paced, highly readable thriller designed merely to give the reader a few hours of enjoyment.  It is as unmemorable as many of Creasey's works, but while you are in the clutches of the story you are compelled to race through the pages to its expectedly happy conclusion.

Creasey's books are like peanuts, popcorn, and potato chips -- it's hard to stop at just one.  I usually read four or five Creaseys in a row.

Thursday, April 29, 2021


Von Schmidt was a staple of the 60s folk music revival and a major influence on artists such as Bob Dylan and Tom Rush.  Among the notables Von Schmidt had recorded with were Richard Farina, Rolf Cahn, "Blind Boy Grunt" (Bob Dylan), Jeff Muldaur, Maria Muldaur, Fritz Richmond, Mel Lyman, David Blue, James Burton, Louis Shelton, Earl Palmer, Paul Butterfield, Amos Garrett, Garth Hudson, Ben Keith, Billy Mundi, Jim Rooney, Chance Brown, Samuel Charters, Paul Geremia, Bobby Charles, and Rick Danko, 

He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2002 and spent the last thirty years of his life concentrating on his career as a painter and illustrator.  He died in 2006, age 75, following a stroke.

"Joshua Gone Barbados":

"Baby, Let Me Lay It on You":

"Wet Birds Fly at Night":

"Envy the Thief":


"Champagne Don't Hurt Me, Baby":

"Turtle Beach":

(A teenager's protest song) "Fast Acne":


"Cocaine" (with Richard Farina & "Blind Boy Grunt"):

"If I Had a Good Dog":

"Fair and Tender Ladies":

"The Alamo":

"Susie Q" (with Dylan taking the lead):

"Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out":

This last song helped give me my philosophy of life.  I haven't found a clip of it on YouTube, so here is his daughter Caitlin.  "100 Acre Wood":


 Betty Everett.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021


 The Adventures of Superman began its radio run in "some put of the way radio stations" as a test in 1938.  The program officially got its start on February 12, 1940, with fifteen-minute episodes three times a week.  By April of that year, three-part episodes were appearing each week.  The syndicators, in a case of corporate stupidity, cancelled the program in March of 1942, never realizing how popular the show was with the nation's youth.  After receiving thousands of letters protesting the cancellation, which led to Mutual reviving the program that August with five episodes each week.  (Mutual had just lost Jack Armstrong, All-American Boy to the NBC Blue Network and need a popular juvenile show to replace it.)   The Adventures of Superman then continued on Mutual until February 4, 1949, after which it moved to ABC radio on Saturday nights on October 29.  On June 5, 1950, the program moved back to afternoon, twice a week episodes.  The series ended on March 1, 1951, having logged in 2088 episodes.

Superman, of course, was played by Bud Collyer. George Lowther (1940-41), Jackson Beck (1943-1951), and Ross Martin (1951) did the announcing duties, introducing each program with the famous "Faster than a speeding bullet" speech..  Collyer was replaced by Michael Fitzmaurice during the show's last year.

Enjoy this early episode of the Man of Steel.


 Little Eva.


"I was born by Caesarian section...but not so you'd notice.  It's just that when I leave a house, I go out through the window."   -- Stephen Wright

Tuesday, April 27, 2021


 "That in Aleppo Once..." by Vladimir Nabokov (first published in The Atlantic Monthly -- month uncertain; later collected in in Nabokov's Dozen, 1958)

Told in the form of a letter to V., a Russian-born novelist living in New York, "That in Aleppo Once..." is a plea from the narrator (a poet) that V. make sense of the narrator's experience escaping from Vichy France with his new (and much younger) bride.  The narrator proclaims that he has documents to prove his marriage, but also says that he is positive that the wife never existed.

He had gone out with the woman a few times but did not realize his passion for her until he first touched her hair -- an experience he likened to an innocent soldier picking up a booby-trapped doll:  a blinding flash, then darkness peppered by bits of light.  Shortly before the Nazis  invaded Paris, the narrator determines that he and his wife must leave before this happens.  The Germans would not take kindly to some of his works that ridiculed them.  

His wife said she had a cousin in New York, married with a deaf daughter, and he would surely help them in America.  She writes a passionate letter to her cousin but no answer ever came. In desperation, hey board a train, one of many that had an uncertain destination in this confused time.  His wife begins to cry.  When asked she replied that she was thinking about the poor dog they had to leave behind.  There was no dog.  She said the one they were considering buying at the pet shop.  There was no pet shop.  While the train was making a brief stop, the narrator left for just a few minutes to buy some food for the two of them.  When he got back the train was gone.  A callous stationmaster told him he should never have left the train.

Not knowing what his wife would do, the narrator then goes to Nice, the train's final destination.  There was no sign of his wife.  He then goes to where they had originally boarded the train.  Again no sign.  He checked with various Russians exiled to the area to no avail.  After a week, a detective named Holmes (shades of Sherlock) tells him he has found his wife.  Taking the narrator to an apartment building he introduces the narrator to a woman he has never seen.  Both the narrator and the woman insist that Holmes is  mistaken while the man in the woman's bed looks on.

The narrator wanders by a food store with a long line.  At the end of the line he spots his wife.  He seems confused.  She tells him that, after she could not find him, she fell in with some Russian ex-patriots and stayed with them for a while.

The two now try to obtain official papers and enter the world of bureaucracy.  They are bounced from one office to another trying to get papers which would allow them to get other papers which may allow then to get the papers needed to apply for a visa.  Also during this time, she tells him that she has been lying -- she was actually being kept by a rough-looking man.  She did this because she was certain that the narrator had abandoned her and although she did not enjoy making love to him, it became a little more tolerable each time.  Later, she is tell him that this man was a figment of her imagination.  Just before they are to sail to America, she disappears, taking all her clothing and belongings with her. 

The narrator could not find her anywhere, although one old  woman called him a cad who did not deserve her.  She said that his wife had come to her, telling tales of beatings and mistreatment.  His wife (she said) told her that she had met a rich man who had a grand estate and that she was going to be with him.  The narrator sails to America alone, where he sends this letter to V., asking for his advice.  V. indicates that his friend might as well commit suicide.

Was the marriage real, or a figment in the mind of a man gone mad under the pressures of the day?  If real, was the wife simply a fabulist or insane?  What hope does the narrator have being hopelessly in love with someone he will never see again, if he had actually seen her in the first place?  Was the man's mania a symptom of the chaos and evil that the Nazis had given the world?  

Nabokov laces this very short story with literary references from Conan Doyle to Othello to Pushkin, adding to the story's sense of unreality.

Nabokov (1899-1977) was one of the twentieth century's greatest literary stylists.  He wrote his first nine novels in his native Russian while living in Berlin.  His reputation began to grow once he started writing in English -- Lolita, Pnin, Ada or Ardor:  A Family Chronicle, Wild Fire, and Speak, Memory are among his most praised works.

"That in Aleppo Once..." can be read online.


Sugarfoo, Sugarfoot

Easy lopin' cattle ropin'


Carefree as the tumbleweeds

A joggin' a-long

With a heart full of song

And a volume of the law

Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot

Never underestimate a Sugarfoot

Once you get his dander up

Ain't no one who's quicker on the draw

You'll find him

On the side of law and order

From the Mexicali border

To the rolling hills of Arkansas

Sugarfoot Sugarfoot

Easy lopin' cattle ropin'


Riding down

To cattle town

A joggin' a-long

With a heart full of song

With a rifle and a volume of the law

From 1957 to 1961, Will Hutchins played the amiable Tom Brewster in 69 episodes of Sugarfoot, an early Warner Brothers western in a rotating Tuesday night slot with Cheyenne and Bronco.  Brewster was a correspondence student who came to the Oklahoma Territory to become a lawyer.   Because the sarsaparilla-drinking Easterner appeared to have little or no cowboy skills, he was dubbed a "sugarfoot" -- a somewhat derisive term that placed him lower than a tenderfoot.  In reality, of course, Brewster could handle a gun well but refused to because of his dislike for violence.

The television show had nothing to do with the 1951 Randolph Scott oater Sugarfoot, nor the Clarence Budington Kelland novel the film was based on.  Rather, the first episode was a remake of a 1954 Will Rogers, Jr., vehicle called The Boy from Oklahoma, using the same plot and characters.  Sheb Wooley and Slim Pickens repeated their film roles for the pilot, which also included Dennis Hopper as Billy the Kid.  Hutchins also reprised his character for a number of crossover episodes in various Warner Brother westerns.

"The Trial of the Canary Kid" has Tom Brewster reluctantly defending his cousin Abram Thomas (the "Canary Kid," played  by Hutchins in a dual role) for murder.  It turns out that the Kid's gang is holding a judge hostage and is threatening to kill if the Canary Kid is not freed.

Also featured in this episode were Frances Bavier (Mayberry's Aunt Bee), Red Barry (Red Ryder), Lisa Gaye, Olan Soule, and Warner Brothers crossovers Ty Hardin (Bronco) and Peter Brown (Lawman); also in the cast was Adam West, reprising his Lawman role of Doc Holliday.

The episode, which led off the show's third season, was directed by Montgomery Pittman, who directed three of the four episodes that featured the Canary Kid.  Pittman also provided the story for "The Trial of the Canary Kid."  Script duties fell to Catherine Moore (as Catherine Kuttner), a well-known and popular science fiction writer who left the field after the death of her husband and collaborator Henry Kuttner and turned to television writing.  This was the fifth episode of Sugarfoot that she worked on.  She also wrote for Warner Brothers shows Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip.


Sunday, April 25, 2021


 The previous post brought to mind this song.  Kitty's cousin, Mark Thomas Burns, was a drummer in several country western bands.  He would occasionally do vocals and this song from the Oak Ridge Boys was always a favorite with the audience.  So this for him, still missed after all these years.


Somehow that big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff has struck once more.  I blinked once or twice and grandson Mark is suddenly 21 today.  Really?   It seems that just yesterday he was born.

That was a scary day.  Christina has great pregnancies and terrible births.  With Mark, we came very close to losing both of them.  Christina's blood pressure had bottomed out and the baby was forced out with forceps, leaving a significant scar on his cheek.  The forceps had damaged him, causing him to have difficulties speaking.  He also was born with seven small holes in his heart, which closed up after a few months.  

Mark went into an early intervention program as they attempted to teach him to talk.  I don't know how they did it, but they played with the eighteen-month-old with shaving cream and feathers and bubbles.  Mark's first word was "bubbles," and we were over the roof with happiness.  When he was two, he entered a special needs program, boarding a school bus by himself everyday with a bottle and diapers in his backpack.  The kids in this program covered every possible need; Mark immediately bonded with Joey, a crippled boy who had gone through many operations, and Melissa, a sweet little girl with Down syndrome.  Mark spent that year as their best friend and protector.

Our worst fears came to naught as Mark had quickly showed himself not to have any brain damage from his hard birth.  He was quiet (well, duh, he couldn't speak), happy, and found many ways to keep himself amused -- often lining up hot wheels and humming a relaxing tune.  He was a major Bob the Builder fan and later graduated to Power Rangers.   Around that time he became an expert in dinosaurs, followed by sharks and other monster fish.  His other grandfather taught him the joys of fishing and of going to the hardware store.  When he was in second grade, Mark moved into a regular classroom and socialized well with the other kids.  Mark has always been and always will be shy, but his kind nature and sense of humor has always made him popular with the other kids.

Mark is a problem solver, from the time when he would draw up complicated plans to save his family during a zombie apocalypse.  He's athletic, soccer and lacrosse were his chosen sports (he did not care for football); both have been replaced by running.  He has done remarkably well in marathons, half marathons, 10K, 5K, and other races, often coming in first in his age group and also often coming in among the first to cross the finish line.  Determination,  thy name is Mark.

For a fantastically smart kid, Mark is blazingly oblivious.  He has a summer job at a camp in Alabama coming up.  When asked what kind of camp it was, he did not know.  What would he be doing there?  He doesn't know.  In his easy-going manner, he just knows that he will do whatever they ask of him and do it well.  This tends to surprise the more obsessive compulsive, anal retentive of us.  Yet there is our firm knowledge that whatever challenges come up for Mark, he will meet them with a smile and a supreme competence.

Sometimes folks underestimate him.  He is also extremely handsome and girls really like him.  He's quiet but has hidden depths.  Throughout his life, he has always gravitated to the "good" kids; we have never had to worry about him being lead astray.  He is probably the kindest person I have ever meet.  He's empathetic and caring.  

Everybody loves him and it's easy to see why.

Christina and Walt had a difficult time naming him.  Names one would like, the other didn't.  Finally it was down to two names -- Mark and Thomas -- and they just could not decide.  The problem was solved when Kitty said, "Why not call him Mark Thomas?"

(Mark Thomas also happened to be the name of Kitty's cousin, another fantastic guy whom everybody loved.  He was a radio station manager, session musician, and drummer in a country band.  He died tragically in a late night accident over a quarter of a century ago, hit by a drunk driver who was speeding the wrong way on a highway exit ramp.  He was due to be married and they had put off an earlier date because her father was overseas in the Navy.  A terrible tragedy.  I look at our Mark and realize how much of the other Mark is in him.  Somehow, somewhere. someone controlling the universe did not want the world to go on without this very special type of person.)

Do I need to say how proud I am of this man who has overcome many early obstacles to become one of the finest people I know?  I don't have to.  I'll just direct you to any worthwhile dictionary to look up "great guy" -- the first definition will be Mark.

We love him.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021


 "The Elusive Melody" by "George Egerton" (Mary Charvelita Dunne Bright) {from her collection Fantasias, 1897)

Part ghost story, part fable, part parable, part modernist fin de siecle romance, "The Elusive Melody" is heavily influenced by both Nietzschean darkness and sexual expression.  It's a strange little meandering story -- not the writer's best, but certainly one that displays her powers as an influential turn of the century author.

At the end of a long avenue there is a deserted house, quite unlike any of the others on the street.  As if to point out its uniqueness, in the yard stands a cypress tree, the only one in the area.  Both the house and the tree exude a feeling of strangeness.  One day, a woman and her three daughters move into the house.  Soon "many strange noises, the thud of falling bodies, ringing bells, doors that opened noiselessly cause maid after maid to leave."  The middle daughter, ghe grey-eyed one, is drawn to an old clock and its pendulum, constantly sitting in front of it, listening to the pendulum and the sound of tiny footsteps behind it, which turn into louder steps, then a faltering stride; the little girl says she is just "watching the feet."

One day, the older girl,  just ten years old, the one with the gypsy eyes, sits at the piano and begins to play.  This child had never played before and was noted for not having a musical ear or any talent whatsoever, yet she flawlessly plays pieces that she has heard before to the delight of guests.  Until, one day. she can't.  The youngest child, the one with the steady eyes, raged against the visions the middle child had.

Soon the family moved to smaller quarters, because the mother was expecting a fourth child.  No man, no father, is mentioned in the story.  The mother is not well and is bordering on poverty.

Suddenly we shift to some years ahead.  The youngest girl never made it to her teens, having met a grim, unnamed death.  The middle girl sailed to America and became sadder than ever.  No mention is made of the mother, nor of the child she was carrying.  The oldest girl grew into a solitary person, content in her aloofness and that she had no need form men.  One day, the muse that allowed her to play the piano came back, Euterpe the muse of music but as Euterpe the muse of lyric poetry.  She was given words, "words like arrows winged with silver, that never failed to hit the mark; golden-tipped words that tickled to laughter, or others that moved to tears -- hosts that wore her livery and stepped into their duties in her time of need."  These words swept over her so much the she forgot she was a woman.  She wandered into a meadow and met a huntsman who was chasing butterflies.  When he saw her the huntsman blew on a lure and he, who knew almost every species of butterfly, realized that he had come upon a rare one.  He drew the girl onto his horse and they raced away, as if by magic.  The girl, who had never dreamed that she would attract a man, began to see the world differently.  

Finally, one day they rode through the gate of a city:  "It was a curious gate fashioned out of fossilized human hearts set in the most original manner between a quaint tracery of vows, alas, much chipped."  In a temple they plucked the only genuine flower...and found it to be an ordinary bloom.  Soon their ardor faded and the huntsman went out in search of butterflies and the girl stayed home and wilted.  One day the to were out and came to the entrance of a graveyard in which the paths divided.  A caretaker explains that this is the burial ground of lost illusions.  "Many people never do any good until they are bourne through it; for then they turn their undivided attention to some practical pursuit."  As they entered the gates the huntsman spied a beautiful butterfly.  As he chased after it he realized that the girl was too delicate and not robust enough to stick a pin through.  The girl, for her part, went to the right side of the graveyard where dwelt the poets and dreamers.  Suddenly the words came back to her, blazing in poetry, but just as suddenly the lute strings of her heart broke and "The magic words could no longer fall into place; the ashes of love lay thick in the path of the rhythm."  

There the story ends, in bleakness and despair.

The author, Mary Bright (1850-1945), had a singular life.  Born in Australia and spending her childhood there and in New Zealand and Chile, her family moved to Ireland when she was eleven.  She spent her formative yerss there and considered herself "Totally Irish."  She wanted to be an artist and spent two years in school in Germany, but when he mother died she returned to Ireland to take care of her siblings.  She eventually trained as a nurse.  She had several romantic encounters and in 1888, she caused a scandal by eloping with a married man.  The man's wife claimed he was a bigamist, having been married before her.  The claims were false, the man divorced his wife and married Mary later that year.  During the elopement, Mary's father tracked the couple down and shot the man.  He recovered and they moved to Norway, and he died a year after he and Mary were married,  

While in Norway, Mary had  brief affair with future Nobel Laureate Knut Hamsun.  Mary translated Hamsun's first novel for English audiences.  She married a second time, to a penniless adventurer and author.  It was then  that she began to write fiction, both as a means of escaping poverty and of escaping boredom,  she chose to write under the name "George Egerton."  Her first book of short stories (illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley) was wildly successful and she became a literary sensation.  She was friends with the likes of George Bernard Shaw, J. M. Barrie, among others.  Her work influenced such writers as Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Jean Rhys, and D. H. Lawrence.  Mary and her second husband divorced in 1901, the year that he died.  In June of that year she married for a third time, to Reginald Golding Bright, a drama critic some fifteen years her younger.  Their marriage evidently lasted until his death in 1941

She was an advocate for feminism, sexual freedom, women's education, and financial freedom.  She was critical of religion and (despite being married three times) of marriage as an institution.  Along with sexual freedom, she advocated for same sex partnership and single parenting.  Mary became a critical link in the sexual transgressiveness of later writers.  Little read today, she has become increasingly popular with academic scholars.

Her collection Fantasias is available to read online.

Monday, April 19, 2021


 From 1969, Fairport Convention.



 Openers:  Lightning washed the girl on the cliff.  It showed her blue eyes wide, staring, terror-glazed.  Her slender body was set stiffly against the tearing, maniac fury of the storm.

Again she heard it.

The sound set the horny feet of terror creeping along Robin Dell's spine.  The thin scream cut through the roar of the ocean.  It was like the cry of a child in anguish.  And its animal strangeness ripped her soul with talons of eldritch dread.

Again, lightning shattered against the cliff beyond her.  The storm-torn sea was a mad grey turmoil.  Upon great black rocks, far below, green water was exploding into white clouds of spray.

And then fear closed on her white throat, like thick, cold serpent coils.

For she saw now a thing that moved.  Some huge bulk loomed grey and slimy in the brief light.  It swayed toward her, its movement boneless, flowing.  It was monstrous -- yet somehow, unmistakably, it suggested the human.

Obscenity leered from that hint of humanity, and horror beyond words.

-- Jack Williamson, "Grey Arms of Death" (from Thrilling Mystery, December 1935)

Hoo doggies!  Does that set up the scares!  That's pulp with a capital P!  The blurb to this story adds to the excitement:  "A Giant from the Depths -- Half Man Half Octopus -- Vents Its Sadistic Fury!"

Thrilling Mystery started out as a "terror" pulp, featuring stories that combined sadism, sex, horror, and often racism.  They sold like hotcakes in the Thirties.  The target audience was men looking to escape their boring work and their boring lives with a little bit of self-indulgent fantasy.  Each story had a brave, handsome hero and a beautiful and pure girl.  She would often be captured by sick psychopaths (often Orientals) and tortured while being shorn of her clothes.  The hero saves her, protecting her purity while getting an eyeful of her nakedness, and all is well as she falls into his arms.  Not the most mature plotline, granted, but it appealed to the horny thirteen-year-old mind that many readers escaped to.

There were variations on the plot.  A number of the pulp hero magazines, close cousins to the terror pulps, focused on the terror and sadism part and downplayed the sex part, although often using deranged Orientals as villains.

None of this is politically correct nowadays, but it remains fun, escapist reading.

There was a stable of writers who specialized in the terror pulps, although many were also active in other aspects of the pulp magazine market.  But a fast-paced story with lots of action and little logic could be churned out easily and these stories helped pay the bills.  The covers displayed all the features of the story, with mad, deformed baddies threatening barely-dressed zaftig girls with all sorts of torture instruments and deadly animals, while the hero barges into the scene with guns blazing.

And the titles were a work of art.  Here's the contents of the December 1935 issue (which was the mag's second issue):

  • "The Flame Demon" by Wyatt Blassingame (one of the most prolific writers of weird menace stories for the terror pulps)
  • "Voice from Hell" by Jack D'Arcy (a pseudonym for D. L. Champion, who wrote a number of Phantom Detective novels as "Robert Wallace" and "G. Wayman Jones," as well as many crime stories for the pulps)
  • "Ghouls of the Green Web" by G. T. Fleming-Roberts (author of Secret Agent X stories under the house name of Brant House, as well as stories about the Green Ghost, the Black Hood, and Captain Zero)
  • "Blood in the Night" by James Duncan (pseudonym of Arthur Pincus, who wrote over sixty stories for the crime and terror pulps during the Thirties)
  • "Forest of Fear" by Saul W. Paul (possibly a pseudonym; he had about a dozen stories in the spicy pulps from 1934-1936)
  • 'Devils in the Dust" by Arthur J. Burks (one-time  military aide to General Smedley Butler, Burks wrote over 800 stories for every type of pulp except love and western; he was a staple for the terror pulps)
  • "Hooks of Death" by H. M. Appel (who wrote nearly fifty stories for the detective and terror pulps during the 1930s}
  • "Grey Arms of Death" by Jack Williamson (a Grand Master of Science Fiction, Williamson was active in the field from 1928 until his death in 2006; this was the first of three stories that Williamson would publish in the magazine)
Thrilling Mystery ran for 88 issues under a variety of title changes.  The first issue was in October 1935.  During the early 1940s it gradually changed its format from weird menace to more traditional mysteries.  In September 1942, it became a hero pulp with the adventures of the Green Ghost began appearing after the character's own title was discontinued.  The title changed to Thrilling Mystery Novel Magazine with the Winter 1945 issue and featured a full-length reprint mystery novel along with filler short stories; among the authors featured were Dorothy B. Hughes, "John Spain" (Cleve F. Adams), Baynard Kendrick, Hake Talbot, and Margaret Millar.  The Summer 1947 saw another title change, to Detective Novel Mystery Magazine; this incarnation lasted for ten issues, ending with the Fall 1949 issue.  Novels reprinted here included those by John Dickson Carr. Phoebe Atwood Taylor, Will Oursler, and Leslie Charteris.  One final title change for the Winter 1950 issue to 2 Detective Mystery Novels Magazine, did  not help save the dying magazine -- it limped on and died with its fifth issue, Winter 1951.  among the Authors reprinted here were Fredric Brown, W. T. Ballard, John Dickson Carr (under his own name and that of "Carter Dickson"), Leslie Ford. and Rufus King.

If you're a weird menace fan, go for the issues in the Thirties.  If you're a pulp detective fan, the early Forties are your best bet.  And if you like traditional mysteries. the novels reprinted in the late Fortis/early Fifties should be your cup of tea.

  • Stephen Baxter, The Massacre of Mankind.  SF novel, the "sequel" to The War of the Worlds.  "It has been fourteen years sine the Martian invasion.  Humanity has moved on, always watching the skies but confident that they know how to defeat the alien menace.  The Martians are vulnerable to Earth germs.  the army is prepared.  Our technology has taken great leaps forward, thanks to machinery looted from abandoned war-machines and capsules.  So when the signs of launches on Mars are seen, there seem little reason to worry.  Unless you listen to one man, Walter Jenkins, the narrator of Wells' book.  He is sure that the first incursion was merely a scouting mission, a precursor to the true attack -- and that the Martians have learned from their defeat, adapted their methods, and now pose a greater threat than ever before.  He is right."  Stephen Baxter is one of the most acclaimed British science fiction writers today and the winner of many awards.  An earlier book if his, The Time Ships, was written as a sequel to wells' The Time Machine.
  • Adam Roberts, Superfast Primetime Ultimate Nation:  the Relentless Invention of Modern India.  Nonfiction.  A look at the problems and promises of modern India and how it might reach its full potential to become a truly powerful nation.  The author spent five years in India as the Economist's South Asia correspondent.

Patriots Day:  Today is Patriots Day in Massachusetts and in four other states.  It's a day commemorate the first battles of the Revolutionary War (and the Revolutionary War is big in Massachusetts).  Parades, picnics, fireworks -- the whole shebang happens all over the state.  Lately it has been officially celebrated on the third Monday of April, but April 19th will always be Patriots Day to me.  Patriots Day is also when the Boston Marathon is held and when "Boston Strong" became a meme several years ago.  In some parts of the state (and because Yankees notoriously go their own way), today is known by other names -- in Charlestown, it's Bunker Hill Day, and in the small town of Acton, it's Crown Resistance Day.

My hometown of Chelmsford has a purported tie to Bunker Hill.  One resident claimed to have been the first man to fire a shot at that battle.  He made the claim at a local pub, so alcohol may have been involved -- both in claim and in actual fact.  Nonetheless I stand proud of our local footnote in history.  (A more reliable footnote for my hometown is that it was there that the first sulfur matches in America were made.)

Apropos of nothing, National Velociraptor Awareness Day was yesterday, April 18.  Contrary to popular opinion, the little beasties were small -- about the size of a large chicken.  They had feathers and did not hunt in packs.  But those talons, out!

GaetzGate:  Our local US Representative appears to be sinking fast although his support is still strong locally.  Most of his Republican allies are on the sidelines, hoping the whole thing will go away.  Evidently this because showboating Matt is universally disliked by his peers.  Gaetz, we have learned, paid $85,000 for his campaign funds for legal advice just as his buddy the Seminole County Tax Collector was indicted.  We also learned that Gaetz asked his friend, governor Ron DeSantis, to appoint his Bahama buddy Jason Pirozzolo -- a marijuana entrepreneur, hand surgeon, and Gaetz campaign donor -- as Florida's Surgeon General.  DeSantis did not do this but appointed Pirozzolo to a lucrative position on the governing board of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.  Gaetz meanwhile, has been taking a page from the Roy Cohn-Donald J. Trump playbook by not learning to keep his mouth shut.

Here's One for Women's Rights:  In 1713, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI was concerned that he had no male heirs.  Wanting to keep the title in the Hapsberg line, he created the Pragmatic Sanction, which would ensure that his title could go to a female.  His eventual heir and successor, Maria Theresa, was born several years later, in 1717.  Charles spent most of his life shoring up the Pragmatic Sanction, finally dying in 1740.

But politics played a role in delaying Maria Theresa the title of Empress.  She was, however, on Charles' death, the Queen of Bohemia (a title she held until the end of the following year) and The Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Croatia, titles she maintained until her death in 1780 at age 63.  It wasn't until 1745 that she became Empress of the Holy Roman Empire.  She ruled as Empress for just one month shy of twenty years.

She pushed for institutional, financial, medical, and education reforms and she promoted commerce and agriculture.  She also reorganized Austria's poor excuse for an army, improving the country's international standing.  Alas, on the negative side she was a religious bigot, despising both Jews and Protestants, and pushed for a state church and denied religious pluralism.  She also supported torture.

Maria Theresa married Francis Stephen, the Duke of Lorraine in 1739.  She evidently loved him deeply although he was a rogue who had many extramarital affairs.  That did not stop from having 16 children, 13 of which survived infancy, in a period of twenty years.  Many of her children were born in times of turmoil, with Austria at war with various factions; Maria Theresa has once said that. had she not been burdened by her frequent pregnancies, she would have been on the battlefield herself.  Three of her children died of smallpox; three others, as well as Maria Theresa, survived  bouts of the disease, although it theorized that Maria Theresa's 1769 smallpox eventually led to her death of edema in 1780.

Following the death of her husband in 1765, her official title became "Maria Theresa, by the Grace of God, Dowager Empress of the Romans, Queen of Hungary, of Bohemia, of Dalmatia, of Croatia, of Slavonia, of Galicia, of Lodomaria, etc.;  Archduchess of Austria; Duchess of Burgundy, of Styria, of Carinthia and of Carniola; Grand Princess of Transylvania; Margravine of Morovia; Duchess of Brabant, of Limburg, of Luxemburg, of of Guelders, of Werttemburg, .of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Milan, of Mantua, of Parma, of Piacenza, of Guastalia, of Auschwitz and of Zator; Princess of Swabia; Princely Countess of Hapsburg, of Flanders, of Tyrol, of Hainault, of Kyberg, of Gorizia and of Gradisca; Margravine of Burgau, of Upper and Lower Lusatia; Countess of Namur; Lady of the Wendish Mark and of Mechlin; Dowager Duchess of Lorraine and Bar; Dowager Grand Duchess of Tuscany."


For the  most part her reign was considered a success.  She brought Austria into the modern age of statehood and her rule was considered one of "absolute enlightenment," perhaps with the emphasis more on absolute.  Nonetheless she was loved and admired by her subjects.

She was the last of the Hapsberg rulers.

I Am So Happy:  A helicopter has flown on Mars!  Here's a short, ten-minute film on helicopters from 1953:

Keep Calm and Remain Vigilant:  William Amos, a Liberal Party MP from the Quebec district of Pontiac, is apologizing for appearing starkers du\ring a virtual parliamentary meeting. Willie could be seen standing between a flag of Canada and a flag of Quebec.  Luckily, Willie's willie was blocked by a mobile phone.  Amos apologized, saying that it was an accident and that he did not realize that the video was on.  Speaker Anthony Reid has reminded MPs to "be vigilant" whenever near a microphone or a camera.

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man Elvis Harold Reyes came up with a fool-proof plan to provide himself and his girlfriends an easy $411,00-.  Well, it was fool-proof until he got caught.  Reyes posed as an immigration attorney and filed a number of fraudulent applications on behalf of his undocumented "clients."  Reyes operated out of a Christian nonprofit called EHR Ministries, charging $5000 to his clients, most of whom did not speak English, to represent them on immigration related matters.  The Tampa man filed more than 225 false applications. He was sentenced to 20 years, a little less then one year for every 12 phony applications.
  • Florida Man Walter Medina, 34, of Escambia County (near where I live), has been charged with assaulting his girlfriend, throwing her on a bed, and smelling her.  The smelling part was to see if she had cheated on him.
  • Florida Man and (ahem) pardoned Trump Ally Roger Stone is being sued by the Federal Government for nearly $2 million in unpaid taxes and interest.  Stone and his wife owe some $1.4 million from tax years 2007 to 2011, while Stone himself owes more than $400,000 from 2018.  Stone and his wife had been making scheduled payments of $20,000 a month to the IRS.  Shortly after his indictment in 2019, he formed a trust and used funds from a company they controlled to buy a home in Fort Lauderdale in the name of the trust.  They transferred funds and deposits into the company they controlled rather than into their personal accounts, thus evading IRS collection efforts.  The "use of Drake Ventures [the company they created] to hold their funds allowed them to shield their personal income from enforced collection and fund a lavish lifestyle despite owing nearly $2 million in unpaid taxes, interest, and penalties," according to the complaint. 
  • Florida Man and former circuit court judge Thomas Lynch is under investigation for violating election laws during his recent campaign to become Broward County's public defender.  The investigation was revealed in an executive order issued by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on April 6.  It has not been revealed what election law or laws were violated.  In fact, Lynch did not learn of the the investigation until last Thursday.  Lynch came in last in the three-way race.  "I truly welcome any investigation because I did nothing wrong.  I got beat fair and square," Lynch said.  The case has been assigned to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office because Lynch's son is a current judge in Broward County, where the case would normally be held,
  • Florida Yuckies the Pine Rockland Trapdoor Spiders, first spotted in 2012 have now been officially declared a new species.  A zookeeper at Zoo Miami was checking the reptile rearch traps at the zoo when the spider was first spotted.  He took a photo of the spider but the conservation and research arm of the zoo did not recognize the species.  Two years later another specimen was found and shipped off to a researcher at Georgia's Piedmont College.  The spider has now been confirmed as a previously unknown species -- Ummidia richmond.  The new species is very rare and no female spider has yet been found.  For myself, I hate spiders.  Hate 'em, hate 'em. hate 'em.  In response to this discovery I am starting a GoFundMe site to provide a flamethrower for Zoo Miami.

The Good Stuff:
  • Washington state man finds $10,000 and returns it to owner, was given a jar of homemade applesauce "made with love and care by his family" in gratitude, plus promises of more treats
  • First human trial of HIV vaccine brings a 97% rate of immune response
  • Endangered trout may soon return to Los Angeles
  • Frat brothers pay off mortgage for house cook
  • Deaf sheepdog returns to herding her flock after learning 'sign language"

Today's Poem:
You Fit Into Me

you fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye

-- Margaret Atwood

Sunday, April 18, 2021


 Our little Amy-Daisy, Blondie-Bear turned 23 today.  How

 did that happen?

Golden hair, bright eyes, and a winning smile, Amy was a styrofoam child, small and thin.  When she was two or three, we had to keep a close watch on her while she was outside because buzzards had been attacking small animals and could lift up to nineteen pounds, and Amy did not reach that limit.

She can march to the beat of a different drummer.  One year, the top spot on her Christmas list was for a 3-hole punch.  She was really into office equipment.

Amy is a water child.  She loves swimming.  She is also a great sleeper.  We have a photo of her with her head by the side of a boat during rough water, fast asleep, when she was in Sea Scouts.

She makes fantastic shirts and uses her artistic abilities to the utmost.

She loves animals, especially her gigantic "puppy."  And her snake.  And her cats.  And the senile pug.  For a number of years, she was an animal shelter volunteer.  When she was younger, she made friends with a tiny spider, "Spidey," that lived in a corner of her bedroom.  That last  bit makes me doubt she is related to me because the only thing a spider needs is a flamethrower.

This morning a pod of dolphins appeared at the beach to celebrate Amy.

Amy has a wicked, genuine sense of humor.  She is never cruel.  She is empathetic and caring.  Her turn-offs are injustice and meanness.  Amy is the epitome of a good person.

She gives blood.

Did I mention that she's amazingly beautiful?  (Of course, all three of my granddaughters are.)

And she's whip-smart.  Far smarter than I.

She is our most perfect granddaughter.  (Of course, all three of my granddaughters is the most perfect -- each one being more perfect than the others.)

She makes us happy.  She makes us proud.  She especially makes us glad to share this wonderful world with her, a world that would be far less wonderful without her.

We love you so much, Amy.  Have a fantastic birthday and a fantastic year!


 Interviewed by Stacey Cochran for Raleigh Television Network, Michael Connelly is one of the most respected author of detective and crime fiction novels.  His books have sold more than 74 million copies worldwide and he has been translated in 40 languages.  He has won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Dilys, Shamus, Barry, Audie, Los Angeles Times Best Mystery Thriller, Ridley, Maltese Falcon, 38 Caliber, Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere, and Premio Bancarella Awards, as well as the 250,000 Euro RBA Prize for Crime Writing.

He's that good.



 The Carter Family.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Friday, April 16, 2021


 Cartoonist Gene Byrnes (1889-1974) created the popular comic strip Reg'lar Fellas, which ran from 1917 to 1949.   With a recommendation from Winsor McKay, Byrnes got a job with the New York Telegraph as a sports cartoonist, which led to a regular feature, It's a Great Life If You Don't Weaken, which had its own subset (a feature within a feature, if you will) called Things That Never Happened, which ran from 1915 to 1919.  In 1917, the Reg'lar Fellas characters were introduced in this feature and continued regularly.

In 1919, Byrnes went to the New York Herald with Wide Awake Willie, a Sunday strip with Reg'lar Fellers starting as a daily strip the following year; at the same time the Sunday comic strip changed its title to match the daily strip.

Reg'lar Kids made Byrnes a wealthy man.  The strip was syndicated in over 800 newspapers.  There were also book reprints and comic books, as well as baseball and football equipment merchandising.

The comic strip collections were published by Cupples & Leon; their "First Series" (linked below) features young Jimmy Dugan, a kid who tries to understand the adult world about him literally.  The jokes may be old and somewhat corny, but they have a charm about him that is missing from most of today's "funny papers."



 Gordon Bok.

Thursday, April 15, 2021


 A Rabble of Rebels by "Gordon Ashe" (John Creasey) (1971)

Patrick Dawlish is a typical John Creasy hero:  smart, handsome, tall, physically powerful, and well-liked by his peers for his willingness to take risks that other men would leave to their underlings.  Dawlish, whose career spanned 51 books, began as a Bulldog Drummond type of character in 1938, taking it upon himself to solve crimes rather than the police.  As World War II heated up, Dawlish worked for MI5, where he would often parachute into occupied Europe to rescue prisoners of the Nazis -- earning him a reputation of a modern day Scarlet Pimpernel.  Retiring at the end of the war, he essentially became an unpaid private eye -- fighting injustice with all the fervor of a man who hated crime and its effect on innocents.  Then, 36 books into the series, he was appointed Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Crime at Scotland Yard and was assigned as England's representative to an international consortium of police officials assembled to battle crime that crossed national borders -- a group that became known as the Crime Haters.  Dawlish's work for the Crime Haters drew international attention after major criminal organizations were brought down one after another, and he became more and more integral to its workings.

A Rabble of Rebels was one of the last books in the series published before Creasey's death in 1973.  (Creasey was so prolific -- he once had seventeen books published in a single year -- that books under his various pseudonyms continued to be published for several years after his death.)  Creasey quite often -- especially late in his career -- would use current events as a springboard to his stories.   Something that may not wear well a few years after the book was published.  In this case the theme was student riots triggered as a response, whether to racism or political exploitation or antiwar fervor or what have you.  Sadly, Creasey's theme here still strikes a chord in this post-Trump era of rising white nationalism.

Student protests were rising at Mid-Cal, a university in San Francisco, urged on by a highly organized group of professional agitators.  Gerald Lee and his sister Catherine were outside among the fringe of protesters when they both realized that the crowd would soon turn ugly.  Getting ready to leave, Gerald saw a group of four young thugs trying to prevent three girls from also leaving.  Gerald intervened, and was thrown to the ground and was viciously kicked to death by the four -- an early casualty of the student violence that was beginning to appear in cities across the world.

One member of the Crime Haters was New York City Assistant Police Commissioner Randy Patton.  Patton had become close to Dawlish during a tragic, earlier case.  Patton's daughter Dodie, now a college student in Boulder, also became close to one of Dawlish's aides, Gordon Scott.  Dodie returns home to tell her father that there is something shady going on with the protests on her campus.  At the same time, Gordon Scott arrives in New York to investigate for Dawlish and Scott uses the opportunity to propose to Dodie.

Patton had had an underground agent on site at Mid-Cal and the agent was now on his way to report some of his findings.  Patton's man never made it -- he was killed on the flight to New York.  The three girls whom Gerald Lee had rescued from the thugs during the protest, were killed by a bomb blast, along with their mother and a policeman.  This left only Catherine Lee as the surviving witness to her brother's murder and she is put under police protection.  Gordon Scott, now on the West Cost, falls instantly in love with Catherine the moment he meets her.  (But what of Dodie, you ask?)  Just before a bomb-throwing car reaches Catherine's apartment building, Dawlish arrives on the building roof in a helicopter and rushes Catherine and Scott away.  As they pull away, they see the building explode and burst into flames.  A number of policemen and residents of the apartment building were killed'

A pattern is emerging for the student riots, indicating that they are controlled by a powerful organization.  But for what purpose?  Dawlish and his colleagues had called for an emergency meeting of the Crime Haters to gather all information from the different countries on the increasingly violent student unrests.  It was decided to hold the meeting in the newly-formed, little-known African country of Golana.  But even here they could not escape the terrorists.  The country's new university, due to open that fall, is burned in an attempt to thwart the upcoming meeting.  Several attempts are made on Dawlish's life; one in London also threatened Dawlish's wife Felicity.  The student riots are becoming more deadly as the body count rises in universities throughout the world.  The situation in some countries has escalated enough to threaten political instability and the fall of governments.  Can Dawlish and the Crime Haters do anything to stop the madness and catch the persons responsible?

And what of Gordon Scott's unintended love triangle?  That, at least, will have to wait for another book.

A slam-bang thriller with a menace that requires more than a dollop of willing suspension of disbelief, dated in some of its attitude, and naive in its approach, A Rabble of Rebels still hits the spot and shows why Creasey was one of the world's most popular thriller writers.


 A novelty song, first introduced in 1924, became a surprising hit for Lonnie Donegan in 1959.

And here's the original recording by Billy Jones and Ernest Hare, a duo known as The Happiness Boys:


 When the world is headed to planetary disaster, where do you run?  That's the problem facing Arctic scientists.

Tony Roberts and Kristopher Tabori star in this original story written by Arnold Moss.  E. G. Marshall is your host.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Tuesday, April 13, 2021


 "Wings Against Time" by Frank Edward Arnold (first published in Science Fiction Quarterly, Winter 1942: reprinted in Arnold's 1946 paperback collection Wings Against Time)

Hold on to your hats, buckaroos.  This is going to be a wild ride.  Here's the blurb from the story's original magazine appearance:

"Across the veil of five thousand years he was taken. to aid the beautiful winged people of tomorrow in their struggle against the super-evolved heads."

"Wings Against Time" was written with all the naivete, imagination, pseudoscience, stereotypical tropes, and just plain wrong-headedness that marks such works as Edgar Rice Burroughs' Caspak or Amtor novels.  It reads as though the author was an enthusiastic teenager rather than the twenty-eight-year-old science fiction fan he was when the tale was published.

It opens with the disappearance of collegiate Jimmy Langley, a very promising chemistry student, jokester, and athlete.  Langley excelled in all types of sports, despite being barely over five feet tall, with short legs.  Langley is engaged to pretty Mary Parkes, "who was known to suffer from amnesia."  At a college meet, with over five thousand fans watching, Langley attempted a 13-foot pole vault...and disappeared in thin air halfway through the leap.  The narrator, a reporter and a friend of Langley's, is told by the college's board of governors that the disappearance must have been a trick of the sun and ordered him to write the incident as such .. "and as no one would bear me witness to the truth I had to."

Fast forward two years.  The narrator gets a strange message from Langley:  "I'm back in the world of the 1940's and I need advice badly."  H rushes to an out-of-the-way boarding house and finds his friend in bed, wrapped under heavy blankets.  Then Jimmy Langley tells him where he has been over the past two years.

In the midst of his pole vault, Langley was encircled by darkness and strange lights and visions and then unconsciousness.  He woke in a bed assuming he had fallen and hit his head during the jump.  But there was a beautiful seven-foot tall woman standing on the window sill of the strange room and she had white wings.  The wings had a twelve-foot span and started at he shoulders and ran all the way down to her ankles.  (How the heck could she then walk? I wondered.)  She was wearing a tunic.  (How the heck could she wear that with neck to ankle wings?  I wondered.)  She flew into the room by his bedside and Langley, being naked, quickly wrapped some sheets around his body.  Then a winged, tuniced, thin man entered; he was eight-foot tall.

The man was Brecon and the woman Laura.  They told Langley that he had been transported five thousand years in the future by Sarconis, a Head who controlled North America.  They were in New York in a strange building and in a room a thousand feet above ground level.  America had been reduced to four fantastically designed cities.  Everyone now had wings.

Way, way back in ancient times, the world became overpopulated.  For some reason space travel was impossible.  Mankind had reached its limits of science and imagination and was slowly devolving.  Then someone had the bright idea of evolution --- if man could continue to evolve, he could regain his ancient glory.  A scientist "analyzed light rays far beyond the ultra-violet and found at the uttermost end of the spectrum the black ray of evolution."  After a few false starts, mankind was back in business.  At first, man evolved into a magnificent physical specimen.  There was some pushback from those who felt the mind should evolve, rather than the body.  These dissenters separated from the others and began their own experiments, increasing their brains greatly, to the point that their heads grew so large they had to be physically supported.  Meanwhile the rest of humanity, now physically perfect, and "as strong in proportion as the ants who carry as much as seventy times their weight,"  began to increase their intelligence.  After some centuries, the "Heads" decided to come out of hiding and destroy the others, which they  mostly did with quick dispatch and with robots bearing super-science weapons.

The Heads then retreated to their various single lairs scattered across the world.  There are only a handful of Heads. Sarconis is the only Head in North America and his headquarters are in London.  (What?).  Sarconis is interested in time travel and, because "time was a transmitting force," you see, so he built a time machine to snatch people from the past for his experiments.  Langley was the latest victim.

By now the rest of humanity had "sworn a Code of Clans which bound all Supermen to save men from the Heads at any cost."  Hearing that Sarconis had snatched another person from the past, Brecon and Laura donned invisibility units (what?)and snatch the unconscious Langley from Sarconis' lair.  His two winged friends urged Langley to become a Calnsman and to work and fight with them.  Langley agrees, knowing full well that he could never return to his own time and his beloved, amnesia-prone Mary.

So much for setting the scene.

But now come to a bit of geography that a good copy editor should have resolved.  I mentioned that Langley woke up in New York.  Also that Sarconis ruled America.  Not only is Sarconis' headquarters are in London, but now it appears that what the author told us was New York is really Northumberland, and that one Superman whose invisibility unit failed him at the worst possible moment -- when he was attempting rescue another time traveler from Sarconis' lair -- was forced to run (How the heck is he supposed to run with wings attached all the way down his body to nhis ankles? I again wonder.) across Essex to get away from three killer Mecanicals [sic] robots sent after him.   (If he had taken to air for his escape he would have been destroyed by rays, you see, so he had to run, superfast.)  The robots chasing him are invincible to any weapons the Clansmen have developed,  But the robots didn't count on Langley, who rolled a giant rock off a cliff to crush all three Mecanicals.  The idea of crushing their enemies was never in the Clansmen's wheelhouse evidently.

Now that they know how to defeat them, the Clansmen start to gather rocks and make big, heavy things to drop on the enemy.  But let's add another improbable wrinkle to the mix.  The other time traveler whom Sarconis had captured was none other than Langley's beloved, amnesia-prone Mary Parkes!   What are the odds?  (Well, we readers knew that was going to happen, didn't we?)  Sarconis had planned to mate the two twentieth century prisoners and experiment on their offspring.  (Sarconis is a fat-headed -- literally -- cad.)

Let's rush through a lot of gobbledygook about the attack on Sarconis' lair and get to the part where Langley is reunited with his beloved, amnesia-prone Mary.  It turns out she is now seven feet tall and -- at least momentarily -- doesn't remember him.  Luckily, when you are prone to get amnesia, you are also prone to snap out of it, which Mary does.  They get away (kind of) and then they get captured again.  Langley has grown to Mary's height (don't ask) and both now have wings (please, please, don't ask).  Alas, they are still captives.

The Clansmen attack once again and Sarconis is slain, but Langley accidently falls into the time machine and is transported back to 1942, leaving his beloved, amnesia-prone, Titaness, winged Mary five thousand years in the future.  His one hope is that Mary may have told the Clansmen not to destroy the time machine and that they are working to bring him back to the future (which would be a good title for a movie).  

Langley's friend, the reporter who happens to be named Frank Edward Arnold, says that he knows the editor of Science Fiction Quarterly and that he will write up Langley's story as a fiction tale for him.

Langley spreads his wings and flies off.

The author (1914-1987) was a well-known British science fiction fan from the 1930s until his death.  From the 1940s on, Arnold oversaw the visitor's book for the "First Thursday" pub meetings of British fans.  He wrote only five science fiction stories from 1939 to 1942.  Three stories from the SF magazines and one original story were published in Wings Across Time, a 120-page paperback published by the short-lived Pendulum "Popular" Spacetime Series of which Arnold was the editor.  (I can't determine if this publisher issued any other book.)  He also wrote a few articles and book reviews; most --if not all -- were published in a 2017 e-book from David Langford's Ansible Press.

The Winter 1942 issue of Science Fiction Quarterly is available to read online.   In addition to "Wings Across Time" the issue contains stories by contains stories by Arthur J. Burks, Damon Knight, David H. Keller, "Millard Verne Gordon" (Donald A. Wollheim), Walter R. Preston (his only known story), "Hugh Raymond" (John B. Michel), "Arthur Lambert" (Arthur L. Widner, Jr.; a well-known SF fan of the 30s and 40s), "Richard Morrison" (Robert A. W. Lowndes). and J. Harvey Haggard.  The editor was Robert Lowndes, who relied mainly on SF fans to write the contents, including some fellow Futurians.  Futurian "Hans Bok" (Wayne Francis Woodward) provided a great illustration for "Wings Across Time."


 Bob Marley,


"This is an Official United States Civil Defense Film Produced in Cooperation with The Federal Civil Defense Administration"

How to protect against the "weapons" of the atomic bomb:  blast, heat, and radioactivity.  You'll be glad to know that most people in Japan who suffered from radiation sickness recovered fully and had "normal" children.  Also solid walls can protect you from the heat, and a well-constructed building can protect you from the blast, provided you avoid flying glass and debris.  If an atomic attack happens, our factories, offices, and homes will be battle stations and posts of duty, not to be deserted.  What's needed is a basement if you have one (with a heavy bench to hide under), or a first floor interior hallway if you don't.  Apartment dwellers should go to civil defense shelters -- memorize their locations.  Be sure to have a couple of canned goods ready.  Also a bottle of water, a flashlight, and a radio.  Listen for the warning sirens and act fast.  If there is no time for advanced warning, dart into a nearby doorway or just lay down where you are and duck and cover.  The danger should pass in a minute or so -- unless the blast is on the ground or water.  Then radioactive dirt and water will be falling from the air.  In that case, cover your windows with blankets,  If you are exposed to radiation, wash -- especially your hair.  If the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had known about these tips...well, things would have ended much differently, for sure.

So don't worry much about an atomic bomb attack.  It will probably be no big deal.

A laughable eight and three-quarter minutes for those of us from the drop-and-cover generation.  No mention of private fallout shelters, though.


 Openers:  I always thought my father took a long chance, but somebody had to take it and certainly I was the one least likely to be suspected.  It was a wild country.  There were no banks.  We had to pay for the cattle, and somebody had to carry the money.  My father and my uncle were always being watched.  My father was right, I think.

"Abner," he said, "I'm going to send Martin.  No one would ever suspect that we would trust this money to a child."

My uncle drummed on the table and rapped his heels on the floor.  He was a bachelor, stern and silent.  But he could talk...and when he did, he began at the beginning and you heard him through; and what he said -- well, he stood behind it.

"To stop Martin," my father went on, "would be only to lose the  money; but to stop you would be to get somebody killed.

I knew what my father meant.  H meant  that no one would undertake to rob Abner until after he had shot him to death.

-- Melville Davisson Post, "The Angel of the Lord"

Uncle Abner is a core character in the history of the mystery short story.  The twenty-two short stories written about the character brought to life Western  Virginia before the Civil War and gave readers a unique detective:  a tall, strong, deeply religious man who saw himself as the tool of God's justice.  "Abner belonged to the church militant and his God was a war lord...the god of the Tishbite, who numbered his followers by the companies who drew the sword.  The land had need of men like Abner."

Although strong in his austere belief, Abner is portrayed as a sympathetic and somewhat likeable character.  His affection for his nephew Martin is evident.   Behind his rough exterior lies an intelligence that can sort out the most difficult of puzzles.  Post's stories about him are delightfully readable.  Abner is a character who can stand toe to toe with such literary detectives as Sherlock Holmes, Chesterton's Father Brown, Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey, And Christie's Poirot and Jane Marple; he's that good.

The author, Melville Davisson Post (1869-1930), trained as a lawyer but had to give up that profession because of ill health.  He had begun writing stories while in law school and eventually turning to writing as a full-time occupation.  Some of his earlier stories were about a lawyer named Mason who would explore legal loopholes to ensure that justice was done.  Sound familiar?  More than one person has suggested that Randolph Mason was a prototype for Erle Stanley Garner's Perry Mason.  Post also used real-life crimes and incidents in many of his stories; "indeed, they brought about some changes in the law," according to editor Marie Smith.

Post married in 1903 and was devoted to his wife.  After their only child, a son, died of typhoid at eighteen months, they they traveled extensively in Europe.  Later they bought and managed a stable of polo ponies.  His wife died of pneumonia in 1919, leaving him devastated and he spent the rest of his life in loneliness.  Post had built a home in Western Virginia, where he became devoted to horses.  He died from a fall from a horse in 1930.  He was 61.  His boyhood home "Templemoor," near Clarksburg in Harrison County, West Virginia, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Following Post's death, his estate asked writer John Suter to continue the Uncle Abner Series.  Suter wrote fifteen tales about the implacable Methodist.

"The Angel of the Lord" was the first Uncle Abner story, published in The Saturday Evening Post, June 3, 1911, under the title :The Broken Stirrup-Leather."  It, and many other Uncle Abner stories can be read online.


  • P . Curran, Stay Out of New Orleans:  Strange Stories.   A self-published collection of thirteen stories,  "A crass tour of feral streetlife in the 1990s.   A lucid walk through the shadows of North America's best and weirdest city, a place that bewitches some visitors and infects others.  A Bohemia stretching back to the dawn f absinthe.  A town of hidden doors and open secrets.  Each day a fresh crime waiting to happen, transcendent, fertile.  Death lurking in every bar.  No one knew it was a Golden Age.  See what the flood washed away."  This was a pig in a poke purchase since I know nothing of the author or the book.  Evidently the author's records were destroyed in 2005; he (she?) notes that some of the stories appeared in print magazines and cites examples from memory.  One appeared in Tribe in January 1996, but the author was never paid.  One story was sold to Grue, "but I think they suspended publication."  And "Either "Time from Texas" or "Cadiz & Cadizn't" first appeared in Skin 'N Bones around 1999."  Note that the book was published by Cadiz & Cadizn't.  I'm not too sure what to expect from this book.  Maybe disappointment
  • Lyndsay Faye, Dust and Shadow.  Sherlockian novel, "an account of the Ripper killings by Dr. John H. Watson."  "As England's greatest specialist in criminal detection, Sherlock Holmes is unwavering in his quest to capture the killer responsible for terrifying ,London's East End.  H jhires an 'unfortunate' known as Mary Ann Monk, the friend of a fellow streetwalker who was one of the Ripper's earliest victims; and he relies heavily on the steadfast and devoted Dr. Watson.  When Holmes himself is wounded in Whitechapel during an attempt  to catch the savage monster, the popular press launches an investigation of its own, questioning the great detective's role in the very crimes he is so fervently struggling to prevent.  Stripped of his credibility, Holmes if left with no choice but to break every rule in his desperate race to find the madman known as 'the Knife' before it is too late."  How many stories/books pit Sherlock against Jack the Ripper?  Certainly not hundreds, but it sure feels like it.
  • Joyce Carol Oates, Haunted:  Tales of the Grotesque.  A collection of sixteen stories from the ever prolific Oates.  "Citation to Joyce Carol Oates upon receiving the Rea Award for the short story, given annually 'to honor a writer who has made a significant contribution to the short story as an art form':  'One of the magical, things about Joyce Carol Oates is her ability constantly to reinvent not only the psychological space she inhabits but herself as well, as part of her fiction.  She can operate, as a writer, out of a combination of bewilderment and immediate, intuitive understanding -- turning to fiction whatever impinges on her life, wherever she chooses to live  it.' "
  • Joshua Viola, editor, Nightmares Unhinged:  Twenty Tales of Terror.  "Nightmares come in many forms.  Some rend the veil of sleep with heart-stopping madness.  Others defy sanity to leave a helpless corner of your mind twitching for release.  Sometimes, hours after waking, a nightmare across your memory, tainting you day with wisps of discomfort.  Nightmares Unhinged reveals horror in all its mutable forms -- object to absurd -- through twenty tales of terror."  Authors include Steve Rasnic Tem, Stephen Graham Jones, Mario Acevedo, and Edward Bryant.  Signed and inscribed by one of the story authors, Dean Wyant.

I Watch So You Don't Have To:   Atlantic Rim (2013), featuring Graham Greene, Anthony "Treach" Criss, David Chokachi, & Jackie Moore; written by Richard Lima, Thunder Levin, & Hank Woon, Jr. ; directed by Jared Cohn.  Also known as From the Sea.

First off, this was a direct to video made to capitalize on the moderately successful kaiju  action thriller Pacific Rim, and was released just a few days after that film.  As are many direct to video films, this one is bad, bad, bad.  The acting is abysmal; the only actor of any real weight is Graham Greene and he just phoned it in.  The efforts of rapper Treach and former Baywatch pretty boy Chokachi are ludicrous.  Jackie Moore proves she is much better eye candy than actress.  (BTW, a romantic triangle between those three goes nowhere because the filmmakers forgot about it the moment it was introduced; Treach and Chokachi were well into their 40s when this was made and Moore was in her mid-20s.)  The plot is riddled with holes, the cinematography looks like a junior high school project, the CGI is cheap, the kaiju are laughable, there's certainly nothing special about the special effects, the editing is willy-nilly, the same edited clips of planes and boats are reused over and over, several recognizable extras are seen in various background roles (one is shown twice as an army guy, then as a policeman), and the director should have returned his paycheck.  If this were a comedy, some of this might be forgiven.  It's not a comedy -- just a cheap rip-off.

So why did I watch this turkey?  Well, it was filmed in Pensacola and there were many familiar landmarks, some of which were "destroyed" by bad special effects.  The film was originally to be shot at the Pensacola Naval Air Force base  but after a member of the top brass read the script he denied permission because of its junior high school treatment of the military.  So the scenes meant to be shot at the base were moved down the road to a helicopter facility in Perdito Bay.  This necessitated a lot of last minute changes that did not help the film -- as if anything could.

The lesson to be learned is that you may be better off not viewing a flick that was shot near your home.  It was fun seeing some familiar sights on my television screen, but the pain of it all just wasn't worth it.

Before this, I thought the worse thing tat happens to Pensacola in recent years was the destruction of the Pensacola Bay Bridge during Hurricane Sally.  I was wrong.

Speaking of Bad Things to Happen in Pensacola:  There was a doozy of a storm here Saturday morning.  Trees were knocked down,  Cars crashed.  A flying piece of metal impaled a house.  The roof of a downtown beer emporium collapsed.  Winds were at 90 miles an hour and we got at least six inches of rain in a couple of hours.  Tornadoes were reported in the area.  Luckily, injuries were very few and no deaths were reported, unlike areas to the west of us.  So this was a bad thing but not a bad thing.  My early morning sleep was rudely interrupted by a feeling that World War III had begun, though, which was also a bad thing.

The following day was bright and sunny and the whole tribe went out to celebrate Granddaughter Amy's birthday, first with lunch at a sushi restaurant (with fried cheesecake for dessert), and then a trip to the Gulf Breeze Zoo.  It's a small zoo, but well laid out and well organized.  The most popular exhibits for our group happened to be the most mundane -- a budgie cage that you entered to feed the budgies and they would come right over and sit on your hand or arm or shoulder or head was surprisingly peaceful, and areas where you handfeed goats and highland cattle -- We had a hard time getting my wife away from this exhibit because, well, goats, you know.  The more zoo-ish animals -- primates, tigers, lions, elephants, hippos, sloths, alligators, exotic birds, and so on were amazing to watch but, for some reason, the budgies, the goats and the highland cows stole our hearts.

Hound Dog:  The great Chicago blues guitarist and singer Hound Dog Taylor was born 106 years ago this past Monday in Natchez, moving to Chicago when he was twenty-seven.  A true polydactyl, Taylor was born with six fingers on each hand.  The extra fingers were small and unworkable, though; he reportedly severed the extra digit on his right hand with a straight razor -- and, yes, alcohol was involved.  Taylor was little-known outside the Chicago area, playing basically at small black clubs.  Bruce Iglauer was so impressed by Taylor's playing that he used his inheritance of $2500 to form Alligator Records to record Taylor's first album, Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers.  Alligator Records went on to become a major blues label and Iglaur became Taylor's manager, booking him with such acts as Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.  His favorite instruments were cheap Japanese Teisco guitars.  His virtuosity and driving beats led one critic to call him "a spiritual and cultural miracle."

Taylor died at age 60 of cancer and was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1984.

Here's a sample:

Something to Celebrate:  Yesterday (when this post was supposed to appear) was D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) Day, and also Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day.  Both can be celebrated at the same time.

Today is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's -- get thee hence!  It's also National Peach Cobbler Day (Yum!).  Today is also Be Kind to Lawyers Day, although I'm not sure if I am on board with that. 

And, it's never too late.  Last Tuesday was National Sexual Assault Awareness Month's Day of Action.  Sponsored by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, this is a day to focus awareness on sexual violence prevention through social media campaigns, events, and more, as well as providing ways to support victims through the month and year.  More information at their website.  Apologies for not being aware of this sooner.

Money, Money, Money:  A copy of Action Comics #1, which introduced Superman to the world, has sold through an online auction for $3.25 million.  It was a private sale and the buyer's name was not released.  It is estimated that there exist about 100 copies of the rare comic book, in varying conditions.  The record-setting comic book that was auctioned is "one of the best-kept ones."

Although he's no Superman -- a point that might be argued by some fans -- Tom Brady's rookie football card just sold for $2.25 million, also through an online auction.  The record-breaking price towers over the previous record holder, also a Tom Brady rookie football card that went for $1.32 million last  month.

Also joining the big bucks club, in a less spectacular way, is Sophia, a robot created by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics.  Sophia's artwork, "Sophia's Installation," just sold for $688,888; the piece was sold as a NFT, or non-fungible token.  (Don't ask me to explain NFTs because I can't.  Like Lethal Weapon's Danny Glover, I'm too old to for this s**t.)  Sophia is now reportedly contemplating a music career.  It/she is also the world's first robot citizen, having been granted a Saudi Arabian citizenship in 2017.

Like Clockwork:  I just found this interesting:  A 2009 auction catalog for Renaissance Clocks.  The workmanship and the detail are amazing.  Truly pieces of art.

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man Branden Dion Pearson, 27, has been arrested after beating and stabbing a ,man begging for food outside a KFC restaurant in Broward County.  The man approached Pearson and an argument started which soon escalated into punching and rock throwing, at which point Pearson stabbed the man in the head.  Pearson then entered the restaurant, sat down, and waited for police.  Bail has been set at $50,000.
  • There's a reason why motorcycles do not have child safety seats, as Florida Man Dontrell Stanley found out when he ran a stop sign in Tampa, swerved to avoid an oncoming car, and crashed his motorcycle -- all while carrying a 17-month child on his lap.  The child, a girl, was thrown from the bike and landed under the car, suffering serious injuries.  Stanley, who was the child's stepfather, received minor injuries and an arrest for child neglect and operating a  motorcycle without a license.
  • Tough Florida Woman Tillie Tooter, of Pembroke Pines, was 83-years-old when she was run off the road on Interstate 595 back in April 2000.  Her car went over the retaining wall and fell over 50 feet into mangroves and muck.  and there she stayed for three days before being found, surviving only on rain water, a cough drop, and cussed determination.  22-year-old Scott Campbell was eventually arrested for rear-ending Tillie's car and pushing it over the retaining wall.  Campbell was placed on five years probation and ordered to pay Tillie's medical bills in exchange for pleading guilty to leaving the scene of an accident; charges of filing a false police report and culpable negligence were evidently dropped with the plea deal.  A witness seeing Tillie's car going over the wall reported the incident to the Florida Highway Patrol, which failed to send an officer to investigate.  Another witness reported the incident to Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue.  Campbell's lawyers claimed that the young man fell asleep at the wheel and thought he might have the concrete abutment; Campbell himself stated that he wanted to apologize directly to Tilly but that his lawyers prevented him from doing so.  Tilly eventually forgave Campbell and said she hoped he would make a good life for himself.  Being made of stern stuff, Tillie Tooter lived for another fifteen years, dying in 2015, aged 98.

Good News:
  • New brain cancer immunotherapy shows promise in clinical trails -- most patients show no tumor growth in three years
  • Nearly-retired couples adopts seven siblings who had just lost their parents
  • Cancer-surviving girl scout sells 32,000 boxes of cookies, with the proceeds going to sick kids
  • Dick Van Dyke hands out money to struggling people standing in line for jobs
  • Scientists find evidence that there may be "fifth force" in nature, something that would turn physics on its head.  This force, if it exists, will be one of the most important scientific discoveries of our time.
  • Boy hero saves sister from choking after watching John Cena
  • Air pollution and attributable deaths drop significantly in California

Today's Poem:
A Receipt for Writing a Novel

Would you a fav'rite novel make,
Try hard your reader's heart to break,
For who is pleas'd. if not tormented?
(Novels for that were first invented).
'Gainst nature, reason, sense, combine
To carry on your bold design,
All those ingredients I shall mention,
Compounded by your own invention,
I'm sure will answer my intention.
Of love take first a due proportion --
It serves to keep the heart in motion:
Of jealousy a powerful zest,
Of all fomenting passions best;
Of horror mix a copious share,
And duels you must never spare;
Hysteric fits at least a score.
Or, if you find occasion, more;
But fainting fits you need not measure,
The fair ones have them at their pleasure;
Of sighs and groans take no account,
But throw them in to vast amount;
A frantic fever you may add,
Most authors make their lovers mad;
Rack well your hero's nerves and heart,
And let your heroine take her part;
Her fine blue eyes were made to weep,
Nor should she ever taste of sleep;
Ply her with terrors day and night,
And keep her always in a fright,
But in a carriage when you get her,
Be sure you fairly overset her;
If she will break her bones -- why let her;
Again, if e'er she walks abroad.
Of course you bring some wicked lord,
Who with three ruffians snaps his prey.
And to a castle speed away;
There close confin'd in haunted tower,
You leave your captive in his power;
Till dead with horror and dismay,
She scales the walls and flies away.

  Now you contrive the lovers meeting,
To set you reader's heart a beating,
But ere they've had a moments leisure,
Be sure to interrupt their pleasure;
Provide yourself with fresh alarms
To tar 'em from each other's arms;
No matter by what fate they're parted,
So that you keep them broken-hearted.

  A cruel father some prepare
To drag her by her flaxen hair;
Some raise a storm, and some a ghost,
Take either, which may please you most.
But this you must with care observe,
That when you've wound up every nerve
With expectations, jhope and fear,
Hero and Heroine must disappear.
Some fill one book, some two without 'em,
And ne'er concern their heads about 'em,
This greatly rests the writer's brain,
For any story, tht gives pain,
You now throw in -- no matter what,
However foreign to the plot,
So it but serves to swell the book,
You foist it in with desperate hook --
A masquerade, a murder'd peer,
His throat just cut from ear to ear --
A rake turned hermit -- a fond maid
Run mad by some false loon betray'd --
These stores supply the female pen,
Which writes them o'er and o'er again, 
And readers likewise may be found
To circulate them round and round.

  Now at your fable's close devise
Some grand event to give surprise --
Suppose you hero knows no mother --
Suppose he proves the heroine's brother --
This at one stroke dissolves each tie,
Far as from est to west they fly;
At length when every woe's expended,
Clean the mistake, and introduce
Some tatt'ling nurse to cut the noose,
The spell is broke -- again they meet
Expiring at each other's feet;
Their friends lie breathless on the floor --
You drop your pen; you can do no more --
And eer your reader can recover,
They're married -- and your history's over.

--Mary Alcock (1799)