Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Wednesday, July 28, 2021


 The tribe is headed off to Cape Cod for a well deserved vacation, so the blog will be on hiatus until August 10.  I'm planning on some Olympic-level relaxation,  The ladies are planning on some Olympic-level shopping.  There's sightseeing, whale watching, and eating (lobser! yum!  and real fried clams, not those wimpy little clam strips! yum again!) on the itinerary.

On Tuesday, August 3 -- assuming the whale watching boat doesn't sink that morning -- we'll be meeting up at Kimball's Ice Cream in Westford, Massachusetts.  Legendary sundaes and banana splits and much more.  If you are in the area, come and join us.  We're a friendly crowd and we don't bite.

See you on the other side.


 The Standells/

Tuesday, July 27, 2021


 "The Robbery on the 'Stormy Petrel' " by Richard Marsh (from his collection The Seen and the Unseen, 1900; any earlier publication unknown)

The Hon, Augustus Champnell is a detective of sorts -- or, at least, a solver of problems; his exact status is unclear -- and on this one morning he is engaged by three different persons for three different tasks, all of which were resolved without any due strain on either Champnell nor his abilities.

First, two messengers enter his dwelling carrying a large chest, with the compliments of the Marguis of Bewley, who requested that the chest be drowned in a cistern of water until the Marquis should appear.  Champnell declines the request and a few moments later the Marquis shows up, somewhat amazed that Champnell did not obey his request.  The chest (the Marquis said) could well contain an "infernal device" (a term once used to describe a thing that goes boom!).  The Marquis was a member of a certain secret society and, over the years, the Marquis had broken just about every rule and regulation of the society; the perhaps-soon-to-be-exploded chest might well be the society's way of reprimanding the Marquis.  Champnell carefully opens the chest.  It did not explode, but inside were thirteen small boxes that could possibly explode.  The Marquis offers Champnell 150 guineas if he could discover the origin of th chest -- 200 if he could definitely prove that is did not come from the secret society.

Shortly after the Marquis leaves, Golden, the junior partner of a famous firm of jewelers, Mssrs. Ruby and Golden, appears with his personal tale of woe.  A long-time customer of the firm, Lord Hardaway, has not been paying on his account and owes the firm a large sum of money to the point where Golden infomed Hardaway that his acount would be closed until the monies due are paid.  Hardaway, it seems, is engaged to the daughter of a very wealthy soap manufacturer.  Once wed, Hardaway would have more than enough money to pay off his account.  Hardaway is planning on taking his fiancee on a cruise abord his ship, the "Stormy Petrel."  He has asked Golden to deliver a number of precious items to the yacht so that he might choose one to give to the lady.  If Golden agrees, Hardaway's account will paid in full; if not, Mssrs. Ruby and Golden would have to "whistle."  Golden does not want to go along with this but the senior partner, Ruby, overrules him, so Golden goes out to the docks with 20,000 pounds of jewels for Hardaway's inspection.  It is a cold, windy, stormy night as Golden (and his sea-sick stomach) is rowed out to the ship.  There he seems to pass out, wakening to find that the case with the valuable is missing.  Hardaway points to a man rowing from the ship, telling Golden that this man stol the jewels.  Hardaway gives chase, only to find that the man was an innocent fisherman.  In the meantime, Hardaway sails away.  Golden asks Champnell to either recover the jewels or to get Hardaway to pay for them.  Because of the firm's reputation (and Mr. Ruby's aversion to publicity) it was decided to go to Champnell rather than the police.

After Golden left, Champnell detects s light motion from on of the thirteen boxes from the chest that the Marquis had left.  The box explodes, covering Champnell with noxious sea water, and there in the remains of the box was a necklace -- one of the items stolen from Golden several days before.  As if on a synchronized timer, the remaining boxes explode, revealing all of the remaining missing jewels, as well as turning Champnell's lodging into an odorous mess. 

Champnell gathers up the jewels and heads off to Ruby and Golden's office.  On the way he spots a familiar figure.  It's Lord Hardaway.  Hardaway tells Champnell that yes, he did take the jewels and bnox them up and sent them to the Marquis.  A ripping good joke, eh?  Champnell explains that, although it was a ripping good joke, it was also illegal and Lord Hardaway could well be prosecuted -- something that Hardaway had overlooked.  English aristocracy can be somewhat dense and English police can be somewhat unforgiving of a ripping good joke.  Hardaway then engages Champnell to save his bacon.

Champnell then goes on to the jewelers, getting a promise from them that, if the jewels were to be returned, Ruby and Golden would accept them no questions asked and with no prosecution forthcoming.  They agree and Champnell gives the unsuspecting duo the jewels.  

It was a fortuitous morning.  Champnell received three commisions totalling 500 guineas without doing any real work.  Jewells were returned.  The Marquis was satisfied that the secret society was not targeting him.  Hardaway avoided any potential prosectution and was set to marry the soap czar's daughter almost immediatelly and could pay off his debts.  And Champnell ended up propping his feet on the mantle-shelf and relaxing with a cigar.

Richard Marsh (born Richard Bernard Heldmann, 1857-1915) was a very popular and prolific english writer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  He was best known for the supernatural thriller The Beetle, published in the same year as Bram Stoker's Dracula, 1897, outselling Dracula six times over.  Marsh published almost eighty books in vrious fields -- horror, crime, romance, and humor (Whoops!  I mean humour).  He began his writing carrer as Heldmann, and was brief the co-editor of the well-known boys' weekly newspaper Union Jack, suddenly departing after eight or nine months.  Since that time, he published under the Richard Marsh pseudonym.

His abrupt departure from Union Jack remained a mystery until recently when it was dicovered that he had been sentenced in 1884 to eighteen months hard labor (Sorry...labour) for passing forged checks (Sorry again...cheques); when he was arrested, he had another man's watch and a second man's overcoat.  Upon his release, he began publishing stories inder the Marsh name and had his first novels published in 1893.

Among Marsh's best-selling books were the horror novels The Goddess:  A Demon (1900) and Joss:  A Revertion (1901), crime novels Philip Bennion's Death (1897) and The Datchet Diamonds (1898), the proto-science fiction novel A Spoiler of Men (1905), and the fantasy novel A Second Coming (1900).  Among his other short stories collections -- each providing a mix of genres -- are Marvels and Mysteries (1900), Both Sides of the Veil (1901), and Between the Dark and the Daylight (1902).  His 1898 collection Curios concerns two rival collectors who pass on to each other items of a strange and disturbing nature.  among Marsh's more popular characters are Miss Judith Lee, a lip-reading detective, and Sam Briggs, one-time office clerk who becomes a soldier in World War I.

Marsh has been described as " a writer with a good sense of the literary market but who often transcended the ideological and aesthetic boundaries that his contemporaries established."

It should be noted that Marsh was the grandfather of Robert Aickman (1914-1981), who many (including me) feel was the greatest writer of supernatural stories in the last half of the Twentieth century.

The Seen and the Unseen, along with many other of Marsh's books, is available to be read online.


A classic from the great Noel Coward.


Veteran character actor Guy Kibbee takes the lead in this film as the title character, a detective who comes out of retirement to find find a missing emerald insured for $100,000.  Finding the emerald was easy, but then there was the problem of getting it back to its rightful owner, as well as a murder in which an inncent man was fraamed.

Also featured in this film are Tom Brown (The Adventures of Smilin' Jack, In Old Chicago, Freckles), Lucie Kaye (a contract player for six months for Republic; this was her only role while there), Catjherine Doucet (Age of Indescretion, There's One Born Every Minute, The Dude Goes West), and Edward Gargan (The Saint Strikes Back, While New York Sleeps, and as Detective Bates in the Falcon mysrery franchise.

The film was loosely based on Octavus Roy Cohen's collection Jim Hanvey, Detective (1923; #70 on the Queen's Quorum of the 125 most important crime/detective books).It was adapted by Eric Taylor and Courtland Fitzsimmons, with a screenply by OliveCooper and Joseph Krumgold.  Phil Rosen directed.

It's always fun to see Guy Kibbee work.  Enjoy this overlooked gem.

Monday, July 26, 2021


 Willie Nelson.


 Openers:  A committee from the Phoenix Athletic Club and one from the Pres ott Club had met, and after considerable discussion had arranged a match to decide the Amateur Championship of Arizona.

As the Phoenix and Prescott clubs were far and away the foremost athletic organzations in the Territory, the contest was looked forward to with great interest, especially as an intense rivalry existed between the two cities.  

"Let the contest be fair and square on both sides," said Smith, the chairman of the Phoenix committee.  "Let each club sent its best man, who is strictly an amateur, of course, and a member of the club, in good standing, and let the best man win."

"Them's my sentiments exactly," responded Johnson, the chairman of the Prescott committee.  "Fair play and honors to the best man, say I!  I did think of sending a young fellow I know in our club who took some sparring lessons in 'Frisco last year, and is qjuite clever; he's a gunsmith by profession, but the trouble is he's been teaching the boys during his spare time when he could get away from the shop, and that makes him a professional, doesn't it?"

"It does," said Smith, "and I am glad to find you are as particular as I am in such matters; let me tell you, it is a pleasure to meet a man like yourself who tries to be fair and square, and to take no advantage of anybody.  Let's take something."

-- "The Amateur Championship" by Charles B. Cory (from his collection Montezuma's Castle and Other Weird Tales, 1899)

You know where this is going.  When both parties agree to being "fair and square," neither means it.  Smith, the chairman from Phoenix, writes to his brother. a saloon owner in Chicago. to secure "some one who is a sure winner, and can punch the stuffing out of this amateur duck from Prescott."  For two hundred dollars (and expenses) he got the services of a well-known professional who had never been out West and who could "lick" anything on the Pacific Coast, amateur or professional.  The Prescott club, meanwhile, had sent a representative to San Francisco who had found an Australian professional who nhad just landed in America and was un,likely to be recognized.  This gentleman had a long string of victories in Australia and vowed to "knock the bloomin' head off any bloomin' duffer," for the bargain price of seventy-five dollars.

There was far more than honor at stake here.  Each group expected to clean up on the betting on the match.

Came time for the battle and the Chicago pug was introduced as a Phoenix banking clerk and the Australian as a Prescott drug store clerk.  Both men in their trunks looked far more buff than any clerk had a right to be.  The first round was a cautious one, with each fighter sounding the other out.  In the second round the fighters went at it hammer and tongs.  By the third round, each realized he was ot against an amateur and each developed a professional stance.

During the one-minute intermissions between rounds, the referee (Watkins, the Phoenix sheriff) was talkng to a friend by the ringside, while looking strangely at the drug store clerk.  Round four had each fighter using any professional trick they thought they could get away with -- eye gouging, elbowing, head smashing, and so on.

At the end of round four, Watkins stopped the fight, saying that the drug store clerk had been recognized as the "Ballarat Boy" from Australia -- a professional; and that the other battler was "a damn sight too good for an amatoor."  He declared the fight a draaw and that all bets were off.

Walking back to their lodgings after the bout had been cancelled, the charmen of both clubs bemoaned the fact they were each duped by a professional fighter.  But, "It was a lovely scrap while it lasted."

"That's what it was."

Chalres B. Cory (1857-1921) was an American ornithologist and sportsman.  Born to a wealthy Boston family, Cory never had to work.  Instead much of his time was devoted to his hobby, ornithology.  By age nineteen he had already collected the best collection of Caribbean and Gulfm of Mexcio birds in existence and was elected to the Nuttil Ornithological Club, the oldest such club in America,  He was one of forty-eight ornithologists invited to found the American Ornothological Society in 1883.  Cory published extensively on birding, including such titles as The Birds of Haiti and San Domingo, The Birds of the West Indies, and The Birds of Illinois and Wisconsin.  His four-volume Catalogue of the Birds of America was completed by Carl Edward Hellmayr after Cory's death.

Cory donated his collection of 19,000 birds to the Field Museum in chicago and was then named Curator of Ornithology.  His collection of 600 ornithilogical volumes also found its way to the museum.  In 1906 Cory lost his entire fortune but was named Curator of Zoology at the museum and was still able to make collecting trips and to finance ocassional trips for other naturalists.

In 1882, Cory purchase an island in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, for a summer retreat and game preserve.  There he entertained dignitaries, including president Grover Cleveland.  He and his friend Charles Richard Crane fundedand played on  the Hyannis baseball team (now the Cape Cod Baseball League) and brought in well-known professional and amateur players to play on the team.  In 1902, Cory entered the summer Olympics as a golfer, competing in the individual event.

Montezuma's Castle and Other Weird Stories is an outlier among his works and his only collection of fiction.  None of the stories are listed in the FictionMags Index so it is likely that all sixteen stories in this volume are original to the book.  Another outlier was his book Hypnotism and Mesmerism (1888)

Montezuma's Castle and Other Weird Stories is available to read online.

In the Upper 50% of Ursine Intelligence:  Black bears are getting to be a problem in Gulf Breeze where I live.  Weel, not necessarily where I live but up the street a couple of miles where my daughter lives.  Bears have forever roamed the area but, with expanding development, they are approaching human habitats more and more.  Christina has always had bears crossing her front yard at night, perhaps two or three time a year.  For the past two nights, however, a mother bear and two cubs have been ransacking the sealed trash cans stored in her side yard.   A neighbor videotaped them last night and the cubs are really cute.  But it is not a wise thing to anthropomorphize them.  Mama bears are very protective.  I remember, yrars ago, stopping behind a car at Yellowstone Park.  A woman took her two young children out of the car and posed them by three bear cubs for a photograph.  The mother bear was down the road a bit and immediately charged to rescue her cubs.  Photograph taken, the mother ushered her kids into the car and blithely took off, never realizing that had she been five seconds slower, she and her kids would have been bear prey.  I think Christina had better find space in her over-crowded garage for the trash bins from now on.

This Week's Grump:  My major grump for this week is stupid people.  This includes people who refuse to get the Covid vaccines, as well as the politicians and media yahoos who support them.  My disdain also goes to lazy and unthinking jamooks -- the ones who litter and think nothing of it.  Lately the white sands of Pensacola Beach have been littered with unsightly and dangerous pieces of plastic and sytrofoam.  Ugh!  The world gives us so many beautiful things and some people are too ignorant to respect this.

And while I'm at it...This week marked the 80th birthday of Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old boy who was viciously murdered by white supremacists -- a crime that shocked much of the nation and one that should have shocked the entire nation.  Not that Emmett Till was alone in having his life brutally cut short; children have been the subject of horrific violence at every time in history.  Each child's death robs the world of an individual shining potential that may have made the world a better place.  Emmett Till, however, holds a special ,place for many of us.  The publicity surrounding his death was a stark reminder of how an unreasoning evil can infect our country.  As with many of you I continue to mourn this young lad.  And as with many of you I remain ashamed as to how our country and the world continues to devaue the worth of our children.

Brrr!:  The Whaley House in San Diego is reputedly one of the most haunted houses in America.  It doesn't help that the house was built on what was once a graveyard.

Built in 1867, the home once housed the general store of Thomas Whaley.  Whaley, nis wife, and their three children lived in the Greek Revival home until Thomas, Jr., Whaley's second child, died of scarlet fever at age eighteen months.  Then the store burned down. Whaley and his family moved to San Francisco, where the couple had an addirional three children.  A bit over none years later, Whaley repaired the old house and he and his family moved back to San Diego in December of 1868.

On January 5, 1882, Whaley's two oldest daughters married in a double ceremony in san Diego.  anna married her first cousin, John T. Whaley, while Violet had the unfortunate luck to marry George T. Bertolacci, a con man who had hoped to gain a large dowry through the marriage.  Two weeks into the honeymoon, Violet woke up to find her husband gone.  On returning home without her husband and (gasp!) unchaperoned, Vilet found herself shunned by the polite society of San Deigo.  Nineteen-year-old Violet's divorce was finalized a year later but her public humiliation and betrayal had brought about a severe case of depression.  She committed suicide on August 18, 1885, shooting herself in the chest with her father's .22.  Coincidentally, Violet was also 22.  Violet's suicide note read:  "Mad from life's history, Swift to death's mystery, Glad to be hurled, Anywhere, anywhere, out of this world." -- a passage from a poem by Thomas Hood.

The third Whaley daughter, Corrine, was engaged, but her fiance broke it off due to the scandal.  Whaley then moved his family to a single-story house downtown, leaving the Whaley House unoccupied for two decades.

As the house fell into disrepair, Thomas Whaley died in 1895 and his eldest daughter, Anna, passed away in 1905.  In 1909, Whaley's oldest son, Frank, began another storation of the Whaley House, turning it into a tourist attraction.  Frank, along with his mother, Anna (Thomas Whaley's widow), his sister Corrine, and brother George moved back into the Whaley House in 1912.  Anna died the following year, followed by Frank in 1914, George in 1928, leaving Corrine to remain in the house until her death in 1953.

Guests at the house reported having seen a ghost or ghosts of the family members who had died in the house -- Thomas, Jr., Violet, Anna, Francis, George, or Corrine.

But that was not all.  Back when the Whaley familky originally moved in, they reported having heard heavy footsteps in the house -- footsteps which they believed to belong to James "Yankee Jim" Robinson, who had been hung on the propertyin 1852 for stealing the only row boat in San Diego Bay.  (Cave J. Couts [great name!] was the jury foreman who sentenced Robinson to be hanged.  The jury also happenedto include the two men who owned the row boat.)   Robinson was reportedly well-known for waylaying and murdering miners but, since he did not do this in San Diego, he was left alone -- shunned, but left alone.

The Whaley House has been featured in a  number of paranormal documentaries and scripted shows.  Television host Regis Philbinclaimed to have a paranormal encounter with Anna Wahley in 1964:  "I know a lot of people pooh-pooh it because they can't ee it.  But there was something going on in that house."

Your F.B.I.:  A great-nephew of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Joseph Bonaparte created the F.B.I. on this day in 1908.  Charles Bonaparte was a lawyer and political activist was born in Baltimore.  During Theodore Roosevelt's administration he serve as, first, Secretary of the Navy, then later, as U. S. Attorney General.  As Attorney General, Bonaparte became know as "Charlie the Crook Chaser."  On July 26, 1908, he issued orders to immediately staff the the Office of the Chief Examiner, creating the Bureau of Investigation under the Department of Justice, with Stanley Finch as the Chief of the new 34-member Bureau.  The Bureau's first official task was to visit and usrvey houses of prostitution in order to aid the passage of the Mann Act.

Three full-time and one acting Chief followed Stanley Finch in heading the BOI until J. Edgar Hoover was named Chief by Herbert Hoover on May 10, 1924.  On July 1, 1935, the name of the Bureau was officially changed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Hoover was given the title of Director.  In total, Hoover headed the agency for 47 years and 357 days.  Following Hoover's death, his assistant Clyde Tolson served as acting director for exactly one day.  Hoover's reign at the F.B.I. ended in a storm of controversy as it was revealed both before and after his death that the Bureau frequently abused its power, harassed political dissenters, gathered secret files on political leaders, and used illegal methods to collect evidence.

Hoover and his shenanigans aside, today's F.B.I. is mainly served by dedicated agents and workers who strive for political independence.  It is an effective tool in investigting and identifying crime, terrorist threats, and public corruption, as well as protecting the nation';s civil rights.

INTERMISSION:  A broken fiber optic cable stopped my cable and internet service for about seven hours today.  I do not like my provider, Mediacom.

Back now.  I'll be late in posting this.

Litho Stereo Cards:  Back before there was radio, or television, or DVDs, there was the steropticon for entertainment.  For those on a ow budget, real photo stereo cards were just too expensive so many people  had to rely on litho stereo cards to see the many wonders of the world.  Here's a collection of 144 of them.  NOTE:  It takes a couple of seconds for each one to upload.

Florida Man:

  • Florida Man Reza Beluchi has failed in his attempt to runacross the sea from Florida to New York.  The giant cylindrical contraption (he calls it a "hydropod") in which he was to make the run floundered ashore after he started the voyage in St. Augustine.  Some of his safety and navigational equipment necessary for the trip had been stolen, he said.  Earlier he had tried to run from Florida to Bermuda in a homemade hydropod.  He has however run from Los Angeles to New York Twice and once circled the US perimeter in a 11,270 mile trek.  His latest stunt was meant to raise money for "first responders, sick children, and people who are homeless," he said.  Meanwhile, the Flagler County sheriff wants Beluchi's hydropod removed from the beach where it landed but the weather is comlpicating efforts.
  • Florida Man and not a gentleman Gentry Burns, 27, is now headed to jail for two years for having sex with multiple women without telling them he was HIV-positive.  At least two of his known victims have cpontracted the disease.  Gentry was known to have traveled extensively along the East Coast and may well have infected others.  He is not a nice man.  About 1,2 million people in America have HIV and about 13% are unaware they have the disease.
  • Another not nice Florida Man is Danny Brandner, 37, of Volusia County.  Brandner was arrested for beating and dragging a five-month-old puppy.  When arrsted he asked officers, "Why?  What did I do that was illegal?"  Brandner then denied abusing the puppy but the police had video recorded by Brandner's disgusted neighbors of the act.  The floor of Brandner's apartment was covered with urine and dog feces from the beating.  Some Florida Men give other Florida Men a bad name.  
  • Does being arrested in Florida for a murder in Chattanooga make one a Florida Man?  If so, welcome Paul Hayden, 52, of Chattanooga, to the ranks.  Hayden was arrested in a Walgreen's parking lot in Tallahassee for the June slaying of Maurice Wallace.  Evidently arguments in Chattanooga can become quite heated.
  • For those who missed it, the documentary series Florida Man Murders is available on Bravo.  to which I say, Only eight episodes?

Some of the Good Stuff:
  • Check out this support cat who helps kids with eye problems feel better about wearing glasses
  • And how about a support owl named Louie who helps a man with PTSD go on hikes?
  • Keeping with the aninmal motif, here's a lucky tortpise with a back scratcher made from broom heads
  • 39-year-old becomes the first American to have a prosthetic artificial heart implanted
  • Watch hero officers and a good Samaritan rescue an unconscious woman from a sinking car
  • This thank you note from a woman eating alone left her waitress in tears
  • Students build an epic baby stroller for a new dad in a wheelchair

Today's Poem:
The Great Panjandrum Himself

So she went to the garden to cut a cabbage leaf
to make
an apple-pie;
and at the same time a great she-bear,
coming down the street, pops its head
 into the shop.
What!  no soap?
So he died,
and she very imprudently married the Barber:
and there were present
the Picininnies                      
                                  and the Joblillies,
and the Garyulies,
and the Great Panjandrum himself, with
the little round button at top;
and they all fell to plahying the game
of catch-as-catch-can,
till the gun;owder ran out at the heels
of their boots.

-- Samuel Foote

This early nonsense poem was one of sixteen picture books illustrated by Randolph Caldecott in 1885.
The text had been written and published by Samuel Foote in 1775, who had written it to test the memory of actor Charles Macklin, who claim to be able to repeat any text verbatim after hearing it once.

Sunday, July 25, 2021


  Borscht Belt comic Jackie Mason died yesterday at age 93.  In the early Sixties Mason began appearing on television's most popular variety shows.  This came to a screeching halt in October of 1964 Ed Sullivan, host of The Ed Sullivan Show, thought that Mason had given him the finger during an appearance.  Sullivan was mistaken but remained furious and cancelled Mason's contract for upcoming shows.  Because of Sullivan, Mason was "branded as unreliable, volatile, and obscene" and Mason ended up  virtually banned from substantial television work for the next two decades.  It should be noted that Sullivan publicly apologized to Mason two years after the incident but by then the damage was done.

In 1985, Mason starred on Broadway in a two-year run of his one-man show The World According to Me!.  This was followed by many other hit shows and  film and television appearances.

Over the years, Jackie Mason won a Special Tony Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, two  Ace awards, two Emmy Awards, and a Prime-Time Emmy Award, and has been nominated for Grammy, a Lawrence Olivier Award, another Tony Award, and a Drama Desk Award..In 2005 Mason was voted #43 in the top 50 comedy acts and was names #63 in Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time.  He holds the record for the longest-running one-man show in Broadway history and for the longest-running stand-up show in London's West End.

Mason was noted for his sharp, irrevelent, sometimes politically incorrect humor, as well as for his delivery and voice and his prediliction for innuendo and puns.  He was a very funny man.

Once a Democrat, Mason became a Republican, then a very right wing Republican.  Among his controversial views was his ultra-pro-Israel/anti-Palestinian stance.  His late political views do not resonate with me at all but that does not detract from his comedic genius.

Here's a sample:


 Sister Wynona Carr.

Saturday, July 24, 2021


 Leslie Gore.


 "All lions have tails:  some -- like the one here -- remarkably long ones.Some Lionels I know have 'Legends' instead.  The Lionel for which this was made is a great devourer of them, and he also has an appetite for pictures to paint..."

And so begins the preface to this children's book "in pen and pencil" by noted illustrator Walter Crane (1845-1915).  Crane "was one of the most important, versitile, and radical arists of the nineteenth century:  a painter, decorator, designer, book illustrator, poet, author, teacher, art theorist, and socialist."  Morna O'Neill, "On Walter Crane and the Aims of Decorative Art")

Legends for Lionel is a surreal trip through a child's landscape in which we meet Jack Frost, St. George, Jack Horner, King Frost, Green Spring. and Good Luck, as well as various animated and imaginative objects and foodstuffs.  Lionel's journey begins near Christmas time and continues through spring as he morphs from child to traveling tinker to magician.  Strange things happen.


Thursday, July 22, 2021


The Touch of Death (1954) [Dr. Palfrey #16]

The Terror (1961) [Dr. Palfrey #20]

The Depths (1963) [Dr. Palfrey #21]

The Inferno (1965) [Dr. Palfrey # 23]

The Unbegotten (1971) [Dr. Palfrey #28]

     -- all by John Creasey

Dr. Stanislaus Alexander Palfrey, "Sap" to his friends and co-workers, heads up an international crime-fighting organization known as Z5.  Z5 is funded by governments, large and small, but is independent from any government control.   It does not concern itself with local politics, only with crime that crosses borders of two or more countries.  Z5 has agents and offices scattered around the world, all connected by a sophisticated communications network.  In addition, there are thousands of "part-time" agents willing to help the organization.  

Althoough its brief is international crime, Z5 increasingly finds itself against large, well-funded plots to take over the world (or, at the very least) large parts of it.  At the heart of these plots is usually a mysterious, previously unknown, megalomaniac or a mad scientist who has managed to recruit a dedicated and zealous following willing to die for their cause.  The victims in each of the books tend to number in the thousands, the damage runs in the billions.  After each threat, the world seems to go on as before, basically ignoring the damage done, although there may be some passing reference to previous cass at times.  In this sense Palfrey's world is a renewable playground.

The threats, often of Biblical proportions, are often science fictional.  A world-wide flood, devasting earthquakes controlled by the bad guys, the ability to control and target tidal waves,the human control of fire, material that cause instant death, the sudden sterilization of a population, highly controlled atomic weapons...The book titles cn give you a clue:  The Plague, The Drought, The Sleep!, The Flood, The Famine, The Blight, The Smog...

And the villains...many of them are able to construct large, elaborate, city-like lairs under the sea, underground, or in space, all without the awareness of or detection by the world's greatest intelligence and defense agencies.

And Palfrey?  His wife and only son were killed in an earlier book, leaving him to pursue the villains with  single-minded purpose.  Palfrey can be as cold-blooded as they come and is not averse to torture (or worse) to get the goods on the villain.  He has been known to sacrifice his own people in order to destroy his enemies and he will unblinkingly cause the destruction of thousands in that pursuit.  Nice guy, huh?  Yet his people love him.

In The Touch of Death, a rare radioactive by-product of the Hiroshima explosion is discovered to cause instant death to anyone who comes in contact with it, or comes in contact with anyone it has killed.  This compound can be weaponized further by applying it to animals.  ("O, look at the pretty kitty, Mummy!  Can I pet it?")  This silent killer is able to wipe out large chinks of the population withut warning.  This is the one book of the five I read where Drusilla, Palfrey's wife, was still alive.

The Terror appears to come from space in the form af a nuclear-armed rocket aimed first at Russia, then at the United States, and finally at England.  The world is blackmailed -- give up and destroy your weapons and disband your armies or face total detruction.

Someone has figured out how to control and target tidal waves in The Depths, destroying ships and coastal areas at random.  Top scientists are disappearing at a disarming rate...could they have been "captured" by these massive waves?  Just as the governments of the world are about to give into a madman's demands, Palfrey manages to eliminate the threat in the most chilling manner.

Fires in the major cities of the world are being set from a single location in Englnd in The Inferno.  To begin with, these "intelligent" fires target slum areas but the threat looms large.  The fires can advance or retreat at will.

In The Unbegotten, three wide swarths of Britain are experiencing zero population growth.  Women are no longer getting pregnant.  This phenomena soon spreads world-wide, affecting tenpercent of the population and threatens to get larger.  The human race is dying out and no one can figure out why.  Then there's Sam. a child-like woman captured after a rocket crashed.  She has a hard time trying to understand lowly humans and their disgusting, animal approach to sex.  Palfrey begins to gain her trust by giving her chocolate cream candies -- something she soon becomes addicted to.  It may not make much sense but it's a major plot point.

Pure melodrama, requiring a severe dispensation of belief, written to hurry you along to an eciting conclusion.  This is not great literature, folks.   But it is enoyable reading.

The Palfrey books are lkke peanuts.  Best not to have just one  but to consume several at the same tine.


 The Rolling Stones.


 U.S. Marshal Lightning Jim Whipple, with his horse Thunder and his deputy Whitey Larson, meet many of the famous people who populated the Old West in this short-lived series which played from 1938 to 1939 on the West Coast.  This western series delves into historic Western figures, Union Pacific history, outlaws, and stereotypical Indians.  The show was revived in the 1950s as Lightning Jim.  

Little is known about this show and few episodes survive.


Wednesday, July 21, 2021


 Tom & Jerry, who became a more famous duo.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021


 "Kootchie" by H. D. Umbstaetter  (first published in The Black Cat, December 1895, under the pseudonym "Harold Kinsabby"; reprinted in Umbstaetter's collection The Red-Hot Dollar and Other Stories from "The Black Cat", 1911)

Here's a brief sketch that has all the makings of an Aesop fable.  It's early on a summer evning where the temperature registers at 95 in the shade of the stately elms in Boston Common.  Since it is summer many families have left the city for the country, including one who left their pug Buttons with their butler to remain in the city.  Buttons is sleek and fat, with a harness studded with ornaments, hence the name.   The butler is also sleek and fat, brimming with self-importance, and carrying a "wicked little cane with a loaded head."  The two are taking a walk for an evening's airing.  Then there was the cat.  Not just any cat, mind you, but one that had been left behind by another family off for the summer and left to fend for its own on the city's streets.  Now hungry, thin, and bedraggled, the cat has wandered into the Common in search of food -- a sparrow, perhaps, or maybe an unaware frog from the pond.

On seeing the cat, Buttons gave chase, driving the cat to a nearby tree.  The butler then shook the branh, dislodging the cat, which then managed barely to escape the dog by gaining a perch on a nearby fence, where the poor animals stared at its tormenter, terrified.  A nearby man, sitting on a bench with a little girl, asked the butler why he would torture the cat.  Just "having a bit of fun," was the answer.  "Buttons is death on cats."  The man got up, freed the cat, allowing it to escape, and sat back down on the bench.  The cat went hungry that night while its faraway owner was presiding at the one hundred eleventh seaside anniversary of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The next evening, the butler and Buttons went ouot for another walk, looking for fun.  They came across the same gentleman and little girl on the bench.  This time, however, there was a large paper bag placed between the two.  There was a rustling and the bag moved.  This got the pug's attention.  Buttons came closer to investigate.  The bag moved again and Buttons retreated a little bit and began barking.  The butler, not seeing the bag move, said, " Cat, Buttons.  where's the cat?"  This seemed to give the dog courage and he charged toward the bag.  The gentleman twisted open the bag and a furred head popped out.  The gentleman said, "Hi, hi, Kootchie!" and a bobcat jumped out and had at Buttons, with fur and buttons flying.  The butler tried to smash the feral cat with his stick but the man held his arm, saying, "Buttons is death on cats.  Kootchie is death on pugs.  You like fun.  I like fair play."  The butler ended up taking what was left of Buttons away.  Kootchie then went up to the little girl whi cradled the big cat in her arms.  "Kootchie is my little puddy tat, she proclaimed."

Exactly how a bobcat became a pet is not explained, nor need it be.  Sometimes one bad turn deserves another and this little story of the biter bit is a nice example, told with sly humor and with a negative view on those who would bully.

Herman Daniel Umbstaetter (1851-1913) had lost a fortune by the time he was forty.  He recouped the fortune and more by publishing The Black Cat, a popular fiction magazine from 1895 to 1913.  He was noted for nurturing authors, including Jack London, who wrote the introdusction to Umbstaetter's collection.  Umbstaetter published fifteen stories in the magazine, many under the pseudomyns of "Harold Kinsabby" and "Barnes MacGreggor."  Although a general fiction magazine, The Black Cat published its share of fantasy and is considered by some to be a precursor to later magazines like The Thrill Book and Weird Tales.

The Red-Hot Dollar and Other Stories from "The Black Cat" is available to read online, as are many issues of The Black Cat.


 Three completely different takes on "Mack the Knife."

First, Liberace:

Then, Bobby Darren:

Last but not least, Louis Armstrong and Lotte Lenya:


 A wun ana two...

And the premiere of The Lawrence Welk Show, July 2, 1955.  (Long before the show's notorious misinterpretation of "One Toke Over the Line.")  Here's Myron Floren, Buddy Merrill, Alice Lon, Jimmy Roberts, Norman Bailey, Rocky Rockwell, Bob Lido, Dick Dale, Buddy Hayes, Dick Kesner, Aladdin, Larry Hooper, Curt Ramsey, Johnny Klein, and many more.  Bring on those Bubbles in the wine!


 Openers:   A.D. 10,000.  An old man, more than six hundred years of age, was walking with a boy through a great museum.  The people who were moving arouond them had beautiful forms, and faces tht were indescribably refined and spiritual.

"Father," said the boy, "you promisd to tell me to-day about the Dark Ages.  I like to hear how men livef anf thought long ago."

"It is no easy task to make you understand the past," was the reply.  "It is hard to realize that man could have been so ignorant as he was eight thousand years ago, but come with me; I will show you something."

He led the boy to a cabinet containing a few time-worn books bound in solid gold.

"You have never seen a book," he said, taking out a large volume and carefully placing it on a silk cushion on a table.  "There are only a few in the leadibng museums in the world.  time was when there were as many books on earth as inhabitants."

"I cannot understand," said the boy with a look of perplexity on his intellectual face.  "I cannot see what people would have wanted with them; they are not attractive; they seem to be useless."

-- "In the Year Ten Thousand" by William Harben (from The Arena, November 1898; reprinted in H. Bruce Franklin's anthology Future Perfect:  Science Fiction in the Nineteenth Century, 1966, revised edition, 1978)

Thus begins a short trip through an utopian future where life has been extended and people are really happy and fulfilled, a world where speech is passe and people communicate via telepathy (or "thought-intercouse," a term that would get any present-day junior high school student a-giggling).  The book which the two are examining is a history of the world through the year two thousand, so it naturally has pictures of George Washington, a Roman Catholic church, and Gladstone ("a great political leader in England").  Back then art had "paintings," which had acrual paints on canvas, or whatever, rather than throwing "light and darkness into space in the necessary variations" to create realistic images.  Music is also created from light and darkness.  Way back in history men used to kill each other in wars and were declared heroes; men even -- gasp! -- killed each other ourside of war.  People were also delusional enough to believe in God (or Gods, or a bunch of different Gods).  There was, of course, a man called Jesus Christ, who was the most spiritually developed man in history, but many people mistakenly believed him to be the son of God.  And, way back innhistory, people actually ate meat!  Raw, at first, but then cooked.  (Ugh! to both)  Luckily the people of the year ten thousand are wisely vegetarians.  People also used wood and stone to build building, rather than growing them from crystals.  And the people of eight thoudand years ago were ugly -- perhaps none more so than the last queen of England, Victoria.

What else?  The people of the future discovered a race of men in the valleys of the arctic region who believed the earth was a monster and they were condemned to live on its hide.  And thought-communication had advanced so much that people were now in communication with people (? beings?) on other planets.  

Questions still remain, though.  Humans are long-lived but not immortal.  Immortality must be...well. immortality must be love immortal.

William Nathaniel Harben (1858-1919. who often signed himself Will N. Harben) was known for his novels and short stories about the people of his native Northern Georgia mountains.  His father ws a noted abolitionist who was a spy for the Union and later a scout for General William Tucumseh Sherman.  The family had to leave Georgis for several years, returning during Reconstruction.  William Harben became a merchant in his home town, beginning his writing career at age 30.   His first big success was Slave (1899), a novel about a white girl raised as a slave in the American South.  Understandably, Harben moved his family to New York after the book's publication.  His 1901 collection Northern Georgis Sketches (1900), about Georgia hillbillies, was probably his best-selling book.  He published 30 books, including romances, three detective novels featuring the sleuth Minard Hendricks, one science fiction novel (The Land of the Changing Sun, 1894, a "lost world" adventure), and one fantasy (The Divine Event, published posthumously in 1920), as well as writing two screenplays.  His religious novel Almost Persuaded (1890) gained enough popularity that Queen Victoria requested a copy.

"In the Year Ten Thousand" is presented as an Utopian tale, although it is no Utopia in which I would like to live.  It's short, cute, wide-sweeping, and plotless.  The November 1899 issue of The Arena can be read on-line, as can many of Harben's novels.  I don't know if this short story was ever published in any of Harben's books.


  • "William Arden" (Dennis Lynds), The Mystery of the Dead Man's Riddle.  YA mystery, #22 in The Three Investigators series.  "When Diego Towne's will was read, his relatives got a nasty shock.  Old Diego had left his fortune to whoever could find it!  Six baffling riddle-clues hinted at the hiding place.  along with hundreds of others, The Three Investigators plunged eagerly into the wild treasure hunt -- only to discover deadly booby traps planted along the way!"  This 1984 edition is slightly revised from the original 1974 edition, eliminating the Alfred Hitchcock framing device and substituting fictional author Hector Sebastian in his place.
  • David Baldacci, editor, Face-Off.  Anthology from the International Thriller Writers organization -- 11 short stories featuring 22  popular characters from 23 best-selling authors, each story pairing two of Thrillerdom's favorite characters:  Dennis Lehane's Patrick Kenzie and Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch,   Ian Rankin's John Rebus and Peter James's Roy Grace, R. L. Stine's Slappy the Ventriloquist's Dummy and Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's Aloysius Pendergast, M. J. Rose's Malachi Samuels and Lisa Gardner's D. D. Warren, Steve Martini's Paul Madriani and Linda Fairstein's Alexandra Cooper, Jeffrey Deaver's Lincon Rhyme and John Sanford's Lucas Davenport, Heather Graham's Michael Quinn and F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack, Raymond Khoury's Sean Reilly and Linwood Barclay's Glen Garber, John Lescroart's Wyatt Hunt and T. Jefferson Parker's Joe Trona, Steve Berry's Cotton Malone and James Rollins's Gray Pierce, and Lee Child's Jack Reacher and Joseph Finder's Nick Heller.  This may be a gimmicky anthology but the stories look solid.
  • Ken Bruen & Jason Starr, Bust.  Crime novel, the first of four in a series published by Hard Case Crime.  "5 important lessons  you can leard by reading Bust:  1.  When you hire a hit man to kill your wife, don't pick a psychopath.  2.  Drano is not the best tool for getting rid of a dead body.  3.  Those locks on hotel room doors?  Not very secure.  5.  A curly blond wig isn't much of a disguise.  5.  SECRETS CAN KILL."  Two of the very best writers on the scene today.
  • Max Ehrlich, Spin the Glass Web.  Crime novel.  "Don Newell was a top TV writer.  Paula was an actress.  'Paula's no good,' warned Henry Hkinge, Don's research man.  'She'd ruin any man she got her hands on.'  But Don couldn't help himself.  There was something about her.  An almost angible aura of sex, as real as perfume.  There was also something else -- she was dead.  All Don could do was run.  And sweat,  And run."  Spin the Glass Web (1952) was Ehrlich's second novel, following the SF novel The Big Eye.  The most famous of his fourteen books is The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, the basis of the 1975 classic film, with a scfreenplay also by Ehrlich.
  • Brian Garfield, Arizona.  Western.  "They were misfits.  Cowboys with no cattle.  Ranchers with no l;and.  Rebels with no war.  And i 1890, america was closing in on them.  so there, on a piece of land fit only for misfits, they built a town.  And for that twon a thousand desperate men and women, there was only one man for sheriff -- Ferris Rand.  Tough enough to keep themm in line and smart enough to keep the rest of the world out.  But Ferris Rand has something to hide.  A  mistake he made years ago.  A  mistake that one day rode into town witha gun and a vengeance.  A mistake a man can pay for in only one way -- with his life."
  • Richard Laymon, Body Rides.  Horror novel.  "Nel has been carrying a gun in his car lately -- just to be safe.  And it looks like it's a good thing he has.  When he spots a woman tied naked to a tree and a man ready to kill her, he has no choice but to shoot the attacker.  As a reward, the woman gives Neal something unimaginable.  Neal's reward is a bracelet.  A very special bracelet.  It enables its wearer to step inside other people, to see through their eyes, to feel whatever they feel.  To take "body rides."  But Neal has a big problem.  The man he shot isn't dead.  And he wants revenge,  First he's going to finish what he started with the woman,  Then he's going after Neal..."  Laymon was a master at this stuff.
  • Daniel Stashower, The Ectoplasmic Man.  A "Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes."  this one was a nominee for the Best First Novel Edgar in 1986 under its original title, The Adventure of the Ectoplasmic Man.  "When Harry Houdnii is framed and jialed for espionage, Shelock holmes vows to clear his name, and with the two joining forces to take on blackmailers who have targeted the Prince of Wales.  It's a case that requires all of their skills -- both mental and physical.  Can the daring djuo solve what people are calling 'The Crime of the Century'?"  The floodgates were ajar when this was first published; now they are wide open and you can't swing a cat withut hitting a book-length Holmes pastiche.
  • Donald A. Wollheim, Mike Mars at Cape Kennedy (originally, Mike Mars at Cape Canaveral).  Juvenile (read Young Adult) novel, the third in a series of eight novels, taking the hero from test pilot to astronaut.  "Mike barely escapes with his life when the Starfighter jet he is piloting to Cape Kennedy is fired upon -- by another American plane!  But that's just the beginning of his danger-filled efforts to complete a successful test flight of his space capsule.  For someone -- or something -- was determined to destroy Project Quicksilver, and Mike's along with it!"  Sadly, the Mike mars novels dated pretty quickly.  The series ran from 1961 to 1964, and titles were briefly reprinted in the mid to late Sixties.  Time seems to have passed Mike Mars by during the last fifty years.

Winking at Sinus Pain:  From The Week, July 23,2021:

"A New Zealand woman who suffered chronic sinus pain waas shocked to discover that a tiddlywink had been lodged in her nose for 37 years.  Mary McCarthy spent decades feeling discomfort and finally sought out a doctor when a Covid swab test worsened the pain.  Under his questioning, she remembered putting a tiddlywink in her noose as a chjild.=, accidently inhaling it.  'I remember being terrifed, thinking, where has it gone,' she said.  Afraid to tell her mother, she put the accident out of her mind.  'I always had difficulty breathing through my nose,' M cCarthy said after the yellow disc was removed, 'but never gave it much thought.' "

Birthdays:   Yesterday (July 19) was the birthday of both Benedict Cumberbatch and Lizzie Borden.  Coincidence?  You decide.

Today (July 20) is the birthday of Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll, infamous mob hitman (born Uinseann Mac Colla, 1908-1932) and on the day Coll was killed (February 8, 1932 -- gangland style...15 bullets) noted composer John Williams was born; to my mind, that was a good trade.  Today is also the birthday of Pope Innocent IX (1519-1591), who held the Pontificate for only two months (October 19-December 30) before his death from a cold caught during a pilgrimage.

But what about holidays (I hear you ask)?  Yesterday was Global Hug Your Kids Day, National Diaguiri Day, and Stick Out Your Tongue Day.   If you missed celebrating any of these, I'm sorry.

Today is Eid al-fitr, the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal and marks the end of Ramadan.  Eid al-fitr is marked by special prayers, family visiting, gift-giving, and charity.  Today is also National Lollipop Day and National Moon Day.

Batman:  This week, Kitty and I have been streaming Titans, a series featuring DC Comics heroes Robin, Raven, Starfire, and Beast Boy, with special appearances from Hawk and Dove, The Doom Patrol, Wonder Girl, Jason Todd, Batman, and others.

The link takes you to the first issue of Batman (Spring 1940), as well the rest of the first 50 issues of the comic book.  Where's Bill Finger? you may ask.  That's another story.

Kidney Soup:  Some Americans, me especially, are averse to eating kidneys.  Some may be braver than I.  For those, here's a recipe for kidney soup from Miss Manby Smith:

Ingredients:  One-half ox kidney,  2 small turnips,  2 carrots,  2 onions,  1 head celery,  2 quarts water or stock,  1 oz. dripping,  pepper and salt.

Method:  Cut up kidney and vegetables, and dredge with flour.  [Note:  Flour is not included in the ingredients.  JH]  Dissolve dripping in saucepan, and put all in covered saucepan, and allow to stand on stove for one hour to draw juices, then add water, and simmer for three hours, removing scum as it rises.

-- from Great Grandmother's Recipe Book:  Containing Over Two Hundred Practical and Useful Recipes  (London:  Jerrold, 1900)

Bon appeit!  (Although any recipe that includes constantly removing the scum may be looked upon with askance, IMHO.)

Billy Mink:  :The Green Forest and the Smiling Pool are full of adventure for Billy Mkink and his animal friends -- Bobby Coon, Jerry Muskrat, Jumper Hare, and the others.  But danger works with a plot from the Robber Rats.  How will Billy Mink win the day?"

Thornton W. Burgess (1874-1965) was the author of more than 150 charmiing books for children, inclulding Old Mother West Wind, The Adventures of Peter Cottontail, and Peter Rabbit Puts on Airs (Peter Rabbit was the creation of Beatrix Potter; Burgess once said, "I think that Miss Potter gav e Peter a name known the world over, while I with Mr. Cady's help (Cady was Burgess's illustrator) perhaps made him a character."

Here's an audio recording of Billy Mink, broken up in forty short chapters -- about two and half to three hours.  Enjoy.

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man "Bubba" -- also know as William Hodge, 32 -- stole an alligator from a mini-golf course, was upset when the gator protested being taken, engaged in a brief wrestlking match and slamming it to the ground by its tail, and ended up throwing the poor crocidilian onto the roof of a bar "to teach it a lesson."  Bubba has been charged with five felonies.  The alligator has been returned to the mini-golf course and is presumably avoiding anyone who looks like he may be named Bubba.
  • Sometimes I am slow in reporting Florida Man news.  In November, 2019, 25-year-old florida Man Christian Dominic Shay, a big fan of cake frosting and feces, broke into the Bear Lake Elementary School in Seminole County and 1) covered chairs, desks, and drawers in one classroom with cake frosting, 2) left a trail of frosting-covered footprints, 3) left an open can of frosting and a child's sweatchirt covered with frosting and feces in a trash can, 4) left feces-covered hand and footprints on w indow ledge where Shay reportedly broke into the school, 5) placed a stapler inside a toilet, 6) left a feces/frosting covered remote in the bathroom 6) put a laptop in the trash outside the building, and 7) hung soiled underwear outside the building.  Did I mention that he was "nearly naked" and that indecent exposure was one of the charges leveled against him?
  • Florida Man Paul Hodgkins, 38, of Tampa, has the distinct honor (?) of being the first person sent to prison because of the January 6 insurrection.  Florida leads the way!
  • Florida Man Michael Taylor regularly strolls Florida with an AR pistol -- a shorter version of the AR-15-style rifle -- fully loaded, with a round in the chamber, to prove a point.  Tylor, who hosts a YouTube channel called The Armed Fisherman, has found a loophole in the Florida law against openly carrying firearms.  Taylor regularly provokes police reaction and films it for his YouTube channel.  At Clearwater Beach he fist-bumped a man with a tattoo of the Three Percenters, an anti-government group, and complimented him on the tat.  I am not anti-gun, although at times I feel I should be, but I am anti-stupid.

Good News:
  • The "Wizard of Paws" makes prothestics to fit any animal
  • Unsuspecting pedestrians trigger a "dance party"
  • Man gives his terminally-ill dog one last walk up their favorite mountain -- in a wheelbarrow
  • After facing down a thief wholstole his dog, man pays for her rehab rather than calling police
  • Teenager invents clever fire extinguisher and vows all profits to be sent to fire risk areas

Today's Poem:
A Smile

When someone's having a bad day,
A smile could go a long way,
So make sure to put one on
And keep it until the day is gone.
You don't know what this deed
Could do for a friend in need.
It might save them from the pain
Of a sadness they can't contain.
Don't ask what a smile can do
Because I'm sure it once helped you.

-- Malak Meleka

Monday, July 19, 2021


 Threw my back out.  The painkillers they gave are effective.  Very, very effective.  Will likely have today's posts up tomorrow, unless I sleep through it.  Did I mention the drugs are effective?

Sunday, July 18, 2021


 First off, this whole thing may be a joke or a hoax but, with the way some people are nowadays, I tend to doubt it.

An unnamed couple -- possibly of British origin, from the spelling on the card -- have sent out an RSVP with their wedding announcement which indicates that the more expensive a wedding gift, the better the guest will be fed at the reception.  Pictures of the RSVP card have been circulating.

There are four tiers for meals, depending on the size of the gift:

At the lower end -- the Loving Gift -- persons who give a gift worth up to $250 will be given the option of roast chicken or swordfish.

For a gift worth from $251 to $500 (the Silver Gift), the option is expanded to sliced steack or poached salmon (of course, the roast chicken or swordfish still apply).

From $501 to $1000?  This is the Gold Gift level, with the choice between any of the above or filet mignon or lobster tails.

Then there is the Platinum Gift, worth $1001 to $2500 or more.  Guests at this level can choose from any of the above or a two-pound lobster plus a souvenier champagne goblet.

Vegetarian and kosher meals are available only at the Platinum Gift level, as is the souvenier champagne goblet.

Real or hoax, this exemplifies the tackiness, greed, and shallowness that seems to be (to me, at least) rising around us lately.  Yes, it's always been there in some fashion but now it appears to be reaching reality television levels.

Many years ago, I briefly worked for a boss who had the saying -- popular at the time among some -- hanging in her office:  "He who dies with the most toys, wins."  I found the saying abhorrant and my boss pitiful.  (She was taking night classes in management and one could tell exactly where she was in the curriculum by the edicts she would deliver each week.  **sigh**)

I was never much of one for trite sayings  but there was one going around at the same time that I felt some kiinship to:  "Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow, a mystery.  Today is a gift; that's why they call it the present."

I wonder what level meal that gift would bring?


 Willie Nelson.

Saturday, July 17, 2021


 A little bit of classic reggae from Barrington Levy.


 Here's an odd little item:  an eight-page color comic book give-away about venereal disease -- told in atrocious rhyme.

Joe has a "sidewalk romance" and now he thinks he might have VD.  "Joe met a dame under the moon/His hard luck as he found out soon."

His friend tells him he'd better see his doctor.  The doc gives him the bad news:  "To be exact the trouble's this:/ -- The disease you have is syphillis."

So Joe goes off to a clinic for several days of "recreation, good food, and a nice clean bed," as well as some friendly doctors and nurses.

Now cured, Joe spends him time warning others of the dangers of a "Sidewalk Romance."


Not a word about the symptoms, the dangers, or the exact treatment for the disease other than fun, food, and a clean bed.  As for catching the disease, you get it through a "spree" (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) and that's all the information you need.  Somehow the reader comes away with the impression that all women (with the possible exception of your mother, your sister, and your future bride) are walking pools of syphillis.  One wonders if there's an eight-page color comic book warning women about VD, possibly explaining that all women (with the three possible exceptions noted above) are born with the disease.

Give me a break.

Not as frightening as an Army training film but just as effective, methinks.

Friday, July 16, 2021


He was just six weeks old when Christina and Walt fostered him; he had spent his first six weeks at Washington Children's Hospital in de-tox.  It took a couple of of years junping through legal hoops before he could be officially adopted, but he had already charmed his way into our family long before then. Because of the circumstances of his birth, raising Jack has always been a challenge.  Christina, Walt, brother Mark, and sister Erin have met these challenges admirably.  Kitty and I, as well as Jessie and her two girls, have also joined in to give Jack the support, love, and care he needed.  There will be more challenges in the future, but this sweet and loving child has made all the effort worthwhile.

Jack is an active kid who loves soccer, basketball, and Legends of Tomorrow.  He loves to run and jump and tumble over because, well, he's nine.  He has discriminating tsste --  he was able to appreciate all the subtle nuamces of that passed by his mother in Godzilla vs. King Kong.  Jack can be whip-smart when he wants to be -- he has all the dubious intellect of a nine-year-old innocent while occasionally giving us glimpses of the wisdom of a graybeard.  He can be far better at math than he lets on.  He can be truly funny but is also wise enough not to laugh at my jokes.

Growing up in a house that currently has three dogs, two cats, a turtle, a ball python, a South American tegu, and a bearded dragon has given Jack a love and appreciation for animals.  He has never met an animal he didn't like.  He is learning the beauty and worth of nature and often goes on nature walks with Daddy.

Jack is a likable kid.  He makes friends easily and can be a leader as well as a follower.  He is an extremely good-looking and dapper kid.  Jack has is own style and dresses accordingly.  He is one cool dude, a fashion setter.

A few months ago he told us he has a girlfriend, Olivia from his third grade class.  They even kissed and now they were engaged.  That romance lasted just a few weeks, but may be a precursor to his teenage years.  (**gulp!**)

The essence of Jack is his dual nature, both sweet and adventurous.  He seems to have no fear -- something that we discovered when he began swimming.  Gotta teach him to think more of consequences when he attempts a stunt.  

But he is also sweet and kind.  The most important lesson Kitty has tried to instill in our girls and all five grandchildren is to have a kind heart.  Jack has that in spades.  And he's still young enought to give the very best hugs.

The absolute wonder of Jack has made our lives so much richer.  I've often said that We love each of our grandkids more than the others.  Jack is no exception.   May being nine continue to help him grow and overcome challenges, and may his appreciation of this wonderful world continue to grow and expand because a good part of this world's wonder is having Jack in it.

We love him and can't imagine life without him.


 Stan Rogers.


 The Face in the Abyss by A. Merritt  (1931)

"At his left was a garden!  A garden of evil!

"There, a narrow stream ran over the floor of the cavern in curves and intricate loops.  It was crimson, like a stream of sluggishly running blood.  Upon its banks were great red lilies, tainted and splotched with venomous greens; orchid blooms of sullen purple veined with unclean scarlets; debauched roses; obscene thickets of what seemed to be shoots of young bamboo stained with verdigris; crouching trees from whose branches hung heart-shaped fruits of leprous white; patches of fleshy leafed plants from whose mauve centers protuded thick yellowish spikes shaped like hooded adders down whose sides slowly dripped glistening drops of some dreadful nectar."

Clunky and purple those sentences may be, but they are just a small part of a book that has enthralled readers for almost a century.  Abraham Merritt had already earned a reputation among fantasy fans with "The Moon Pool" (All-Story Weekly, June 22, 1918) "The Conquest of the Moon Pool" (All-Story Weekly, in six parts, beginning February 15, 1919); the two combined to form the novel The Moon Pool (1919).  This was followed by another adventure of one of that book's protaganist, Walter Goodwin, in The Metal Monster (Argosy All-Story Weekly, in eight parts, beginning August 7, 1920; book publication in 1945 in the author's preferred text -- about 25% shorter than the 1920 serialized version).  Then came the magazine versions of The Ship of Ishtar (1924), Seven Footprints to Satan (1927), and The Dwellers in the Mirage (1932).  All five books are classics of the imagination, if not those of sterling prose.  Merritt knew how to take his readers on a wild ride and his public loved it.

"The Face in the Abyss" was a novella published in Argosy All-Story Weekly, September 8, 1923, and reprinted in Hugo Gernsback's Amazing Story Annual in 1927.  Merritt did not get around to publishing its sequel, "The Snake Mother" until 1930 in a seven-part serial in Argosy, beginning with the October 25, 1930 issue.  The two were combined -- with considerable cutting -- as The Face in the Abyss in 1931.

Among the books yellowed pages are a brave hero, a beautiful and mysterious native woman, treasures untold, a hidden city deep hidden somehwere in the Andes, a hunting party of man-sized dinosaurs led by a man on an even larger dinosaur, giant spider-like intelligent creatures, lizard men, a lost city, an ancient Lord of Evil imprisoned in stone (the giant "Face in the Abyss" of the title, which weeps golden tears and can melt men into those golden droplets to fall into the darkness of the abyss), decadent immortals, political intrigue, rebellion, the surviviors of an ancient race from when the Antarctic was a jungle, winged serpents that can turn invisible, advanced tehnology (somewhat illogically erratic, in the best pulp tradition, and Adana -- the incredibly ancient Snake Mother, part woman, part serpent.

Hmm.  Did I miss anything?  I'm sure I did, because Merritt packed a lot into this book.

The book ends with a final clash between the forces of Good and the forces of Evil.  Guess who wins?

Read this one for a roller coaster ride of adventure m-- early Twenieth Century pulp style.  Thousands of others have.

Thursday, July 15, 2021


 The Leo Reisman Orchestra with the #1 song of 1934.


 Ray Goulding takes the lead on this 1949 episode from WHDH in Boston.  (Bob Elliot was on vacation.)  Records are played.  Postcards were read.  Philco air conditioners were touted.  A headline was read.  The radio staff in the background was laughing.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021


 The Journeymen:  John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, and Dick Weissman.  Phillips and McKenzie were childhood friends.  After the group had some success, Phillips was suggested as a replacement for Dave Guard in The Kingston Trio  turned down(which he turned down) and MacKenzie began to develop mental health issues.  As McKenzie's problems worsened, the friendship deteriorated.  Phillips married Michelle Gilliam and the trio disbanded in 1963.  John  and Michelle Phillips jined Marshall Brickmn to form The New Journeymen.  When Brickman left that group, Phillips recuited Dennie Doherty.  In 1965 the trio joined Cass Elliot to form the Mamas and the Papas.  McKenzie, who had often taken the lead in singing, had a hit in 1967, San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Slome Flowers in Your Hair), written and co-produced by Phillips.

Phillips had a well-known drug problem, but when later reliable stories of his incestuous affair with his daughter McKenzie Philips, cam oput, he was revealed to be a horrible man.  Still, for what it's worth, he had talent

Tuesday, July 13, 2021


 "Insects I Have Met" by William Henry Bishop (from his collection Anti-Babel and Other Such Doings, 1919; any previous publication unknown)

The narrator of this tale has known  lot of insects in his lifetime:  the wasp, the mosquito, the midge, the black fly, the housefly, the katy-did the lightening bug, the water bug, the ant, the cstapillar, the cricket-on-the-heath, the hornet, and the dragonfly (which he avoided as boy because, as we all know, it would sew up ypur ears if you gave him a chance).  The insects that would "exert the profoundist influence on my chrcter and destiny forever more" were a samll group in dried and specimen from.  This is the story:

Anson Bushwick, 27, the secretary of an impirtant manufacturing comapny in Rhode Island, has arrived at the only hotel in Squamquit, a small Massachusetts seaside town, for a needed rest after being ill with a "nervous fever."  There are few residents at the hotel and it turns out that Bushwick is the only male guest staying there.  While settling inton his room, he notices "attached to the door, a large card of bugs, apparently of the grasshopper order, neatly labeled."  He takes the card down to inspect it and there is a kknock on the door.  It is a young lady with an older woman.  The girl is Dorothea Hanford, the previous occupant of the room, which she had taken briefly while her aunt's house -- where she was now staying -- was put in order.  She had left the card of insects there to be taken on her last trip moving her things to her aunt's.  Bushwick handed the card and she looked at it, saying, "I will thank you for the Acrydium Americanum, if you please."  For there in the center of the card, in the place of honor, so to speak, was an empty spot.  The insect must have jarred loose when Bushwick too the card from the door.  Bushwick immediately dropped to the floor to search for it, and soon there was a crunch!  Bushwick picked up the mangled body and threw it out  the window.  With a sob, Dorothea left the room.

Dorothea was a woman of passionate interests, which at the time included entomology, which she was studying under a Professor Gregg, who would come up twice a week from New Bedford to direct her studies.  Dorothea had recently graduated from college and was hoping for an offer of post-graduate work.  She was at Squamquit because this small town was the hotbed of Acrydium Americanum, which was quite rare elsewhere.  What Bushwick would gather from two of the other guests at the hotel, Taylor and Smith, two younger girls who owned a single camera between them and photographed Dorothea's collection for her, was that Dorothea had blown through many passionate interests, from fine arts to music to  library work to nursing to raising mushrooms for profit, and now to entomology.  For how long she would be passionate about entomology was uncertain, according to Taylor and Smith.  Bushwick felt better about stepping on the Acrydium Americanum then; Dorothea would soon move on to another interest, he was sure.

As the days rolled by and as he watched Dorothea go after insects with both net and vigor, Bushwick realized that Dorothea's passion for her insects was real and he began to feel guilty.  Bushwick decides that he must do something to make up for his accidental error of destrying Dorothea's prize specimen; he must try to capture an Acrydiuum Americanum himself and present it to her.  So off he goes and purchases a net and soon he is catching all manner of bugs, just not the prized grasshopper.  Some of the insects he captures, though, are also rare and pleaase Dororthea.  She warms to him and regrets her being cold to Bushwick so unfairly.  For his part, Bushwick begins to appreciate Dorothea's intellect -- such a lot of knowledge in such a small head, a head topped with luxerious red hair.  He also notices while she is swimming that she is what the French call a fausse maigre, that is, "one who appears to be thin but is really delectably plump."

According toTaylor and Smith, Dorothea is entranced by her mentor, Professor Gregg.  she follows him lovingly and listens to his every word.  It' difficult to say how this could be because Gregg is an unattractive and unplesant man.  For his part, Gregg appears to want to marry Dorothea.  In order to save Dorothea from such a possible fate, Bushwwick vows to pursue her himself.

One day, while walking with Dorothea and Taylor and Smith, the younger girls suggest they go in two different way to see who would reach their destination first.  Bushwick and Dorothea head off in one direction, eventually coming across a large grouping of brambles.  One branch poked itself under Dorothea's hat and got tangled in her hair so much that she could not release it.  Bushwick then slowly -- very slowly and lovingly -- attempted to untangle the hair from the branch, with Dorothea's face turned up to him.  Impulsively, he kisses her.  On the lips!  Immediately he apologizes for commiting such an affront.  Dorothea, however, did not seem to mind.

Later, Taylor and Smith overhear Dorothea telling Gregg that she would not do it.  Later, maybe, but not now.  Give her time.  (The reader goes, "Hmm.")

One day, while out withhisnet, Bushwick spies an Acrydium Americanum, the first live one he has seen.  (Although Squamquit is the breeding ground for the species, it has been a rather bad year for them.)  Bushwick goes in pirsuit of the wily insect, who leads him on a merry chase through swampy waters and brambles and then to a field belonging to a disagreeable farmer named Groffin.  And in Groffin's field was a bull.  Bushwick convinces himself that the bull would not harm him and enters the field.  The Acrydium Americanum, meanwhile, has taken refuge at the top of a tree in the field.  Biushwick decides to wait it out.  And wait,  and wait.  Eventually he decides to climb the tree to go after the elusive grasshopper.  Swinging his net wildly, he loses his footing and crashed to the ground.  Bushwick awakens a few minutes later, but whre is the grasshopper?  There it is -- it has landed between the horns of the bull.  Bushwick swings the net.  It gets caught in the bull's horns.  The bull is startled and angry and begins to toss his head.  Bushwick is knock to the ground once again.

 As he recovers at the hotel, Dorothea comes up with his net and thanks him.  It seems that the bull had charged out of the field, still wearing the net on his head, and traveled a long distance before he stopped on the highroad.  Bushnell's net had been dislodged a short distance from Dorothea's home, and it had been brought to her.  In the net was the Acrydium Americanum, totally unharmed -- a far better specimen than the one Bushwick had stepped on during his first meeting with Dorothea.

Bushwick feels his obligation to Dorothea has been paid and he (the fool!) tries to distance himself from her, but he can't.  The two eventually become engaged but before they are to be wed, Dorothea goes on to graduate studies, as well as degrees in in industrial manual training and landscape gradening.  Bushwick, meanwhile, has also gotten engaged to mabel Taylor (of Taylor and Smith).  Dorothea is currentlyin Europe and, having completed her study of monarchical governments and of the architecture of Northern Italy. will soon be headed home.  Now that she seems to have exhausted all distracting pursuits and has continued to say nice things about Bushwick in her letters, she may even marry Bushwick.  Perhaps in a year.

William Henry Bishop (1847-1928)  was an American novelist, short story, and travel writer, born in Hartford, Connecticut.  There is some confusion about him online.  He is evidently not the William Henry Bishop who published the Utopia The Garden of Eden, USA:  A Very Possible Story in 1895.  He may or may not have been (I suspect not) the William Henry Bishop who was an American consul, photographed in Italy holding the skull of James Smithson, with Alexander Graham Bell and others.

Anti-Babel and Other Such Doings can be read online.

Sunday, July 11, 2021


 Everything happens at once...a recalcitrant computer (now fixed), a very minor, somewhat bloody accident (doing fine now, thank you), a couple of medical issues (being resolved), and various famiy obligations (which I don't mind at all -- keep 'em coming, please)...anyway, I haven't been blogging for a few days, something that will continue for a few more, probably.

I do have a Short Story Wednesday post in the queue (I try to write those two weeks in advance) and will most likely be back by then, good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021


 "The Face of the Master" by Alfred Noyes (from Walking Shadows:  Sea Tales and Others, 1918)

Jonathan Martin is a talented portrait artist who is able to capture not only the likeness of his subjects, but their essence.  He has the ability to see beyond the surface and to reveal undrlying truths that others may have missed.  This talent is not reseved only for his artwork but for his entire approach to the world.  To listen to Martin speak is to discover the hidden, often obvious, depths of the subject.

The time is Christmas Day, 1914.  The narrator has just received a letter from Martin in which he relates "the most haunting and dramatic episode I have encountered durong these years of war" -- something "so slight it is difficult to put into words."

It's the early days of the war, and Martin is riding on top of an omnibus through crowded London streets.  He spots a theatrical poster of a serpentine woman ("a kind of Aubrey Beardsley vampire") which has been half obliterated by words written in red:  "Kitchener wants a hundred thousand men."  He half believes that it is the "great scibble of the Hand that writes history," signifying a regeneration of art and life in London.

Later the day, he sees a blind man, walking assuredly and carrying a sign.  On one side of the sign are the words "Venez a moi, vous tous qui etes travailles et charges, et je vous soulagerai."  The same was written on the other side, only in English:  "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."  The blind man carried the sign  proudly.  It had no advertisement for a church and he did not ask for alms.  He walked lkike a soldier.  Perhaaps he waas wounded kin a previous war, perhaps his mind was affected, perhaps he ws a religious fanatic.  No matter, Martin soon forgot the incident.

Later that day, Martin was walking by the Strand, pausing to take in Nelson's Column, when he noticed a large crowd gathering outside Charing Cross Station.  He asked what was happening, but no one really knew.  The police had blocked off entrance to the station.  Soon ambulances appeared and ambulance personnel entered the station.  Now it seemed obvious.  The war had hit home and the first of the wounded have arrived in London.

Firsst came the sitting-up cases, four soldiers to a cab, many with bandages on their heads. Then came the officers, folowed by a smiling, japing soldier who prnced about and stuck his tongue out at the crowd.  Another soldier told the crowd that the man was shell-shocked.  Suddenly the crowd began to realize the horror that had faced these men and became silent.  As the wounded men passed then came "a motley stream of civilians, the Belgian refugees.  They came out of the station like a flock of sheep, and the fear of the wolf was still in their eyes."  They came with few possessions.  The women were weeping.  Some families had been separated in their flight.  Then some faces lifted and a radiant light seemed to come from them as they looked off in the distance.  At the foot of the Nelson Column was the blind man's sign, with the French inscription facing the station.  Why he had placed it there, Martin could not tell.  Perhaps it was by accident or perhaps by human or superhuman design.  It did not matter.  The refugees looked and, with the sign, saw a friend.  And hope.

Alfred Noyes (1880-1958) is best known for his poen "The Highwayman" (1906), which was voted englnd's fifteenth favorite poem in 1965.  He attended Exeter College, Oxford, but did not graduate because on the day of his finals he instead was arranging the publication of his first volume of poems with his publisher.  In 1907, he married the youngest daughter of a former Civil War veteran and the U.S. Consul in Hull.  Six years later he began his first tour of America, in part to appease his wife and in part to lecture on world peace and disarmament.  The trip was successful and he returned to America later that year for a six month stay.  there, he was asked by Princeton university to become a visiting professor in modern English Literature.  For the next nine yearss, he and his wife divided tehir time between england and America.  His wife passed away in 1926 while they were visiting fiends in France.

A year after his wife's death, Noyes married the widow of a lieutenant from an old Catholic family who had been killed in the  can be read online.war.  Later that year, Noyes converted to Catholicism.  Seven years later he described his journey from agnoticism to the Cathlic faith in The Unknown God, which became a popular work of Christian apologetics.

Noyes was a pacifist who felt that a nation should not fight unless it was facing an agressive and unreasoning enemy.  He opposed the Boer War for the reason,  but supported Britain during both world Wars.  Because of poor eyesight, Noyes could not serve at the front during World War I.  He did his militrary service working for the Foreign Office, while also publishing short stories, odes, and lyrics designed to boost British morale.  During the second World War, he comtinued to write patriotic poems, but with more depth.  

Noyes published at least fifteen books of poetry.  His famous poem "The Victory Ball" came about afetr attending a ball after the armitice in which he saw the thoughtless friviolity of the dancers and wondered what the ghosts of slain solfdiers would think of them.  The title poem in his 1952 collection Daddy Fell into the Pond and Other Poems has become a children's favorite and was reprinted in two major poetry anthologies in 2005.  Among his novels is The Devil Takes a Holiday in which the Devil, vactioning in Santa Barbara, discovers the he is redundant because humans are doing all his work for him.  Noyes also published biographies, criticism, essays, a children's novel, and two collections of short stories.

He died of polio at age 77.

Walking Shadows:  Sea Tales and Others can be read onlilne.



How about a nice B-movie about a stolen Shakespeare folio, a crooked cop, a good cop, forgery, some pissed-off Nazis, and a library.

Since we all love libraries, this flick is a keeper.

Plus, a great cast with George Sanders as a baddie, Gail Patrick as an unscupulous dealers, Richard Deming as the good cop, and Sidney Blacker as a Nazi.

Directed by John Francis Larkin, who also adapted the script from Lawrence Blockman's novella "Death Walks in Marble Halls" (American Magazine, September 1942; also published as Murder Walks in Marble Halls, 1951).


Monday, July 5, 2021


Openers:   Comformably to the request of the Great Council of Atlantis, I here set down the tale of the wonderful journey we four residents of the twenty-fourth century made from one period of time to another.  We left behind us a world properouos and happy, to enter one 283 years later, sunk in misery and despair, in which the whole race of mankind had become hardly more than domestic animals, under the power of the robber-star -- Druso.

But to we four it was given to kindle the holy fire of the struggle for freedom against the Drusonians.  We conquered, because the inhertiance of human-kind in science, in patience, and last but not least, in pride, remain still inexhausted.

I am now in my seventy-third year; or if I count in the time of my unconscious journey of sleep, my three hundred and fifty sixth.  I have been through to much to do more than report what I have seen, simply and without any pretense at possessing the art of the story-teller.  Much of what I am going to tell you Atlanteans will seem obvious, since you have grown up in a new age of swift scientific progress; but also much will doubtless seem foreign and strange to you.

-- Druso by Freirich Freska, translated by Fletcher Pratt (from Wonder Stories, May 1934, in the first of three installments; translated from Druso oder die Gestohlene Manschenwelt, 1931)

Early science fiction magazines (read Hugo Gernsback) relied heavily on German science fiction stories.  Otto Willie Gail's interplanetary novel The Shot Into Infinity (Der Schuss ibs All) and its sequel The Shot from the Moon (Der Schuss vom Mond) appeared in Gernsback's Science Wonder Quarterly in 1929 and 1930, respectively.  Otfrid von Hanstein had five novels translated in Wonder Stories and Wonder Stories Quarterly between 1930 and 1935.  Bruno Burgel's The Cosmic Cloud was translated in the Fall 1931 issue of Wonder Stories Quarterly.  Ludwig Anton's 1922 novel Brucken uber den Weltraum appeared in Wonder Stories Quarterly in 1933.  Austria's Max Valier contributed a novella and an article to Gernsback's Wonder Story group.  

German science fiction was, according to Gernsback, popular with his readers.  I also suspect they were cheap to translate and reprint, as Gernback never met a nickel he couldn't squeeze.  Here's his introduction to Druso:

"Our readers have always been enthusiastic over foreign science-fiction -- particularly the German.  The present tale, like all German stories, is characterized by its thoroughness of plot and action.  As an interplanetary yarn, it is a masterpiece and the author gives it an altogether different treatment than would our American writers.  

"We are not introduced to the creatures of another world on the first page -- nor in the first chapter, but the story develops gradually, unfolding with increasing interest until the reader feels as though he has lived with the characters.  It is a human story with all the convincing qualities of a literary accomplishment.

"We have gone to considerable expense* to import this story and have it translated, for we known that it shall be favorably accepted as proven by the increasing number of demands that we have received for German translations."

For some reason, German translations fell out of favor near the end of the decade.  Wonder why?


* Here I doubt Hugo's veracity, but that's me.


  • Isaac & Janet Asimov, Frontiers II.  Non-fiction, the last science book that Asimov wrote, completed by his widow Janet Asimov.  124 articles written for Asimov's weekly science column for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate; earlier columns had been published in Asimov's book Frontiers.  An introductory note from Janet Asimove note that three-quarters of the articles were written by Asimov alone, eleven of the aricles were co-written by Janet Asimov during Asimov's final illness, and 24 were written by Janet Asimov after Asimov's death.  These short articles (about three pages apiece) are divided into four sections:  1) Life:  Past, Present, and Future, 2) Our Planet and Our Neighbors, 3) Science and Technology, and 4) The Universe from Quarks to the Cosmos.  Easy, entertaining reading explaining science to the layman.  Asimov was the Great Explainer and his rational viewpoint is extremely missed.
  • William Campbell Gault, Day of the Ram.  Mystery novel, the second (of fourteen) featuring exx-football player turned L.A. PI Brock "the Rock" Callahan.  Johnny quirk was a kid who had it all.  He was a talented athlete from a fithy-rich family.  Maybe he even had some brains too -- that is, if an Ivy league sheepskin still counted for everything.  The first time Brock 'the Rock' Callahn sw him, quirk was making history on the football field.  He ;played the kind of game Callahn could appreciate as a forner gridiron star.  The Callhan saw him again.  This time he was stretched out on a table at the morgue.  Callahn's been in  the game long enough to know that dead clients don't pay.  But nobody kills one of Brock the Rock's clients and gets away with it."  Gailt is now pretty much an underappreciated writer, which is a shame.
  • Megan Stine & H. William Stine, The Three Investigators Crimebusters #6:  Thriller Diller.  Young adult mystery (they used to call them juveniles) based on the characters created by Robert Arthur for the Alfred Hitchcock Three Investigators series.  This one, issued in 1989, is part of a reboot of the original series.  I, like many others, really like the original series and I'm not sure how this one will hold up.  "Suffocation II is going to be the next hit horror film, but the really spooky scenes are happening off-camera.  The handsome leading man, Diller Rourke, has done an ugly disappearing act.  the genius director is on a demented ego trip.  And the big-bucks producer is weird with worry?  Can this jinxed movie be saved?  Investigator Pete Crenshaw tries to do a solo job of scaring up the  issing star, but the difficulties leave him gasping.  He needs the smarts and the savvy of fellow detectives Jupiter Jones and Bob Andrews to dig to the bottom of the case.  But can the trio unearth Diller before this thriller buries them alive?"  I ho;e this piss-poor blulrb is not indicative of the actual writing in the book.
  • Richard S. Wheeler, Bannock, a Barnaby Skye Novel.  Western novel from one of the very best.  "If Barnaby Skye had not wanted the new Henry repeating rifle so badly, he would have thought more than twice about leading this particular group of pilgrims from Fort Laramie into the new Idaho territory.  The comapny includes Alvah Riddle, a marriage broker, escorting three mail-order brides; Goldtooth Joyce and other sporting women from a house in Memphis, looking to get rich quick; Blueberry Hill, a runaway slave and piano player; and a man calling himself Cornelius Vanderbuilt -- a gambling man with a fixed deck and hidden guns.  Even before the tripbegan, Skye knew this group would be trouble.  then came the deserterss. the flash flood, and the village at Old Bull's.  And after that, things got bad..."  When it comes to westerns, you can't go wrong with Wheeler, a six-time Spur Award winner.

  • NPR should be much more careful, especially in repeating Terry Gross's interviews.  She has interviewed anybody and everybody over the past forty years and, when someone notable dies, NPR airs an interview that she had done with that person years before.  So this week I'm driving along and I tune into NPR and there's Terry repeating an interview she had done with...Bruce Springsteen!  "OMG!" I thought, "He died!"  Well, no, he didn't.  The interview was to mark the return of his one-man show to Broadway.  Phew!  But, NPR, stop jerking me around like that!  I do not appreciate it.
  • We got rid of out landline a long time ago and we now have just a single cell phone to which Kitty appears addicted.  Almost every phone call we get is tagged Spam Alert, or is trying to get us to renew the warranty on the car we got rid of two years ago.  Most of our communicating (with family and friends) is done via instant messaging on our phone or over the computer.  Other stuff (medical appointments, etc.) is done via phones calls, but basically if the phone call does not have our area number we just ignore it, letting whoever called leave a message.  97% of the messages we receive are junk.  The other 3% concern things we should attend to.  The problem is that I am lazy and check the messages only once a week or so.  My grump is that people who leave messages no longer leave the day and time they called so I have no idea when they called, or (often) what they wanted.  Almost always it turns out to be something that I had taken care of earlier that week.  Sometimes when I return the call, I get a large department (usually medical or financial) which does not know why I was called.  Bah!  I could solve the whole problem by answering very call, but answering calls willy-nilly can leave one vulnerable, but perhaps not as much as opening every e-mail you get.  I could also check my messages daily, but that's a pain.  So what to do?  Nothing but grump!
  • Why is there a "Check Engine" light?  The light basically means, "I'm jerking your chain," right?  You can drive forever with the light on and nothing will probably happen.  Or, if you are like me, you'll lift the hood to check the engine and find, yep, it's still there.  Instead of a Check Engine light, they should have an "OMG!  Your car is going to exxplode" light, or, at least a "Danger, Will Robinson!  Danger!" light...a light that makes you know that your car isn't kidding.

Why there Are No Knock-Knock Jokes About the Fourth of July:  Because fredom rings!

Holidaze:  Yesterday was not only Independence Day but it was also Alice in Wonderland Day, Invisible Day, National Barbecue Day, National Caesar Salad Day, National Country Music Day, and Jackfruit Day.  Surprisingly there are no country music songs about jackfruit for those who wish to combine some of these observances, but -- for what it's worth -- there is this song:

If you wish to combine two of these  celebrations, here's the "Ultimate BBQ Jackfruit Pulled Pork" recipe:

As for today, July 5th, it is Bikini Day (and July 4 to July 10 -- seven days -- is confusingly dubbed Nude Recreation Weekend; celebrate at your own risk), Mechanical Pencil Day, National Apple Turnover Day, and National Graham Cracker Day.  To celebrate, here's a mechanical Pencil cartoon, an apple turnover recipe, and pictures of glasses of milk to dip your graham crackers in:

And, as I'm sure everyone already knows, tomorrow is International (or World) Kissing Day.  Please approach this one with caution.

Spam:  Eighty-four yers ago today, Spam was introduced to the world, a product of the Hormel Foods Corporation.  If you are ever in Austin, Minnesota, be sure to visit the Spam Museum.  If it wasn't for Spam, we would not have had this:

Florida Man:
  •  Sometimes a Florida Man has to do what a Florida Man has to do.  Florida Man John King felt th staff at the AdventHealth New Smyna Beach Hospitalt were ignoring him when he requested his clothes, so he decided to get their attention by setting his bed on fire.  Actually he did not intend to set the bed on fire; he just set plastic bags on fire while in his hospital bed.  The $4000 bed ws a total loss, but evidently King wasn't since hospital staff managed to put the fire out in time.
  • Florida Man Alonzo Sanchez, 21, was arrested for humping a tree while naked and for punching a deputy.  The unclothed man was spotted "hugging and hip thrusting a tree" in Lehigh Acres.  Before police could get to him, Sanchez ran into the street and was nearly hit by a car.  During the struggle to arrest him, Sanchez punched and officer in the face.  It is not known whether Sanchez had had a long-term relationship with the tree.  Yes, drugs were involved.
  • Here's an oldie-but-goodie from 2004.  Florida Man Jerry Allen Bradford, then 37, of Escambia County, had seven three-month-old shepherd mix puppies that he could not find homes for, so he opted for the Florida Man thing -- shooting the puppies instead.  In a biter-bit scenario, one of the puppies managed to hook its paw on the revolver's trigger and shoot Bradford instead.  Score one for the victim.
  • Speaking of puppies and guns, Florida Man Jamie Militana was upset when a puppy he bought from the Puppies and Rescue pet store in Pembroke Pines turned out to be sick.  Militana phoned the pet store and threatened the employees, saying he had a shotgun.  His wife then immediately called the store and said her husband was "just kidding."  Militana told poplice that he was frustrated and that he "overreacted."  He was sharged with making a false report of an explosive weapon.
  • You know you have hit the big-time when you have become a category on Jeopardy.  Well, that's what happened to Florida Man back in October 2016 and the rest is history
  • It pays to advertise.  That's what Florida Man Jose Plantin of Fort Myers tought when he decided to advertise for his concealed weapons class by pulling his pants down and exposing himself to drivers at the intersection of College Parkway and Cleaveland Avenue and barely (hah!  a pun!  get it?) managed to avoid being hit by a passing car.  When asked by police why the unique marketing plooy, Plantin replied, he "had something in his head."

Good News:
  • The world has finally caught up with science fiction:  Flying car completes first-ever flight between airports
  • China has been cerified malaria-free by the World Health Organization
  • Amputee who can only walk for twenty minutes at a time climbs Britain's three highest mountains
  • Simple blood test that can detect 50 types of cancer is now accurate enough to be rolled out
  • Teen folds a thousand origami cranes in 9 hours 31 minutes for a new world record, raising over 2300 pounds for NHS Charities Together

Today's Poem:

Endurance is trudging on a little bit longer
It is not giving up -- but getting stronger.
Endurance is growing taller
When you want to grow smaller.
It is believing in you
When others fail to;

It is holding your chin up high --
Instead of looking down with a sigh.
Endurance is bearing fear and pain
It is the sun amongst gray clouds of rain.
Now what is Endurance, you may ask?
Endurance is simply sticking to the task.

-- s./j. goldner