Small House of Everything
Saturday, August 28, 2021
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CEILI!
Friday, August 27, 2021
SCOTCH JOKES (1944)
FORGOTTEN BOOK: NO TRAVELLER RETURNS
Thursday, August 26, 2021
UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSIC: THE TOP 100 WESTERN SONGS
Have your heroes always been cowboys? If so, here is a link for you! The 100 top Western songs as voted on by the Western Writers of America. We statt with the #1 song, "Ghost Riders in the Sky" and continue all the way to #100, "His Master's Call." Just click on the song title. Information about each song is also available.
MUSIC FROM THE PAST : BEFORE THE NEXT TEARDOP FALLS
CABIN B-13: THE BRIDE VANISHES (DECEMBER 13, 1948)
Cabin B-13 was a short-lived radio show that began in July 1948 and lasted for 25 episodes. Only hree episodes are known to survive. Each week we boarded the ocean liner Mauevania as the ship's medical officer, Dr. John Fabian, relates stories about the ship's passengers. The stories range from mystery to adventure.
"The Bride Vanishes" tells of an impossible disappearance from a villa balcony on the isle of Capri. Arnold Moss plays Dr. Fabian. Also in the cast are Joseph Curtin. Mary Patton, and Rod Hendrickson. John dietz directed. The scripts for the series were written by that master of mystery, John Dickson Carr.
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
...THE OTHER SIDE
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
MUSIC FROM THE PAST: SWEET SUMMER BLUE AND GOLD
The Stone Poneys featuring Linda Ronstadt.
SHORT STORY WEDNESDAY: THE SWISS PEASANT
"The Swiss Peasant" by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (first pubished in late 1830 in The Keepsake for MDCCCXXXI as "by the author of 'Frankenstein';" included in the posthumous collection Tales and Stories, 1891)
In the mountainous region of Switzerland, the threat of an avalanche is very real to the humble cottagers who live there. One such is Louis Chaumont, whose large family includes his very young daughter Fanny, "whose beauty is heartfelt but indescribable: hers was the smooth candid brow, the large hazel eyes, hair soft, half wild; the rounded dimpled cheek, the full sensitive mouth, the pointed chin, and (as to framework the picture) the luxuriant curly chestnut hair, and voice which is sweetest music." Fanny's beauty and sweet soul caught the attention of Madame de Marville, the wife of the governor who commamded the district. Ten years old, she became a frequent visitor to the chalet that overlooked the cottages below. She soon became a favorite of the governor and the favorite playmate of their only son, Henry.
One day when Fanny had dined with the family, a sudden and fierce storm arose and it was decided that it would be safer is Fanny spent the night. The was the night of the avalanche which swept away her tottage and her family, leaving her an orphan. Thus the peasant girl was raised in the chateau and given a "bourgeois eductation, whihc would raise her from the hardship's of a peasant's life, and yet not elevate her above her natural position in society." As the years past, Fanny grew more beautiful and more charming and Henry, whenever he returned home from school, found the young orphan more and more fscinating. Henry's attraction to Fanny may not have recognized by the girl, who was innmocence personified, but it was noted by Madame de Marville, who began to fear that Henry may pursue her young ward. Luckily, Fanny's heart turned to Louis Chaumont, a distant relative ten years older than Fanny. Louis' family had been oppressed and reduced to po verty by some feudal tyrant. His mother had died brokenn-hearted and his father raised Louis to hate the "proud oppressors of the land," tracing all social ills to a system that made a few "the tyrants of the many."
Fanny and Louis became engaged and thus Madame de Marville was glad that a misalliance between her son and Fanny was avoided. Henry, however, did not take this news well. His jealousy of Louis consumed him and the two often had to be separated by Fanny, who urged both her fiends to reconcile. The feud had reached a point where it felt that Henry should be sent to Paris for a while -- something Henry resented and felt was banishment. On the eve of Henry's departure, the two rivals got into a "scene of violence and bloodshed." Monsieur de Marville, the governor, obtained an order for Lousi to quit the country within 24 hours and he commanded Fanny to give up her lover. Madame de Marville then persuaded Fanny to stay with them until Henry had returned, which would be in about a year.
But what a year! Fanny had no news of Louis, and despaired. The French revolution had taken hold and had infected Switzerland, whose people began to rebel against the government, and Monsieu de Marville "was an aristocrat of the most bigoted species." The chateau was attacked and the rioters repelled for the moment. Soon came word that a great leader of the rebellers, known as the champion of liberty and the sworn enmy of Monsieur de Marville, was coming to lead the charge against the chateau, upon which the governor would be executed. The rebel leader? none other than Louis Chaumont.
Henry meanwhile had been denounced in Paris and his life was in risk. He made his way home just as Louis was about to arrive. The governor, deisguised, had already made his escape from the chateau; his wife and Fanny were to follow. Henry, enraged by what had happened, wanted to go forth immediately and challenge Louis, but was disuaded by Fanny and his mother. Instead the three would leave with Henry hidden in a cart to join the governor at a prearraged safe location.
On their way, they were met by Louis. Fanny's pleas to him saved Madame de Marville from capture and deaath and they were allowed to go their way. The cart however hit a ditch, turned over, and revealed Henry. Louis was about to kill his enemy when Fanny begged him not to, saying that she and Henry were married. Louis' love for Fanny overcame his hatred of Henry; as much as he dispised the man he could not stand to see Fanny suffer. He gave them safe passage. Louis left and was not seen again.
A few weeks later the government regained control. Without Louis to lead them, the rebellers fell apart. The years passed. Fanny did not go back to the chateau, refusing to live under the same roof as
Henry. Madame de Marville died. Henry married another women, more fitting to his stature. Fnny went to live with a relative in Soublaco. War engulfed Europe, followed by peace. Soldiers returned home and one soldier, who had no home to return to, stopped by a small cottge in Soublanco asking for shelter. He had been wounded and was grievously sick, on his way to Italy to meet up with a friend.
The soldier, of course, was Louis, and the cottage was that where Fanny was staying. Louis, disillusioned by the rebellion, had wandered and eventually joined the French army. He had given up all of his hatred and anger. Life without Fanny was meaningless to him. Thus a changed Louis and a grateful Fanny were reunited.
The author (1797-1851) needs no introduction. Her classic Gothic novel Frankenstein was a cultural phenomenon and is still widely read today. Her affair and eventual marriage to the poet Shelley has been the source of many stories, as has that "contest" which produced Mary's most famous novel and significant works by Shelley and John Polidari. After her husband had drowned in 1822, she returned to England and devoted herself to raising her son and writing novels, as well as editing and promoting the writings of her husband. She died in 1853 of a brain tumor.
In recent yearss, scholars have more and more turned their attention of her six other novels and her travel writings and various articles. As a liberal, as a woman, and as a poligtical radical, and as a major romantic figure, Mary shelley still has much to offer the modern reader, 170 years after her death.
"The Swiss Peasant" is available to read online, as are her other works.
MUSIC FROM THE PAST: (S.O.B.) SAME OLD BOY
A country novelty song by Gary Gentry.
OVERLOOKED FILM: SCREAMING MIMI (1958)
Monday, August 23, 2021
THERE MAY BE A BRIEF HIATUS...
MUSIC FROM THE PAST: TALLAHASSEE LASSIE
This one is for Erin, who moved into her dorm room at FSU yeasterday/
BITS & PIECES
Openers: Captain Sir Haddingway Ingraham Jameson Ingraham of his Majesty's Royal Frontier Houssa Police -- less formally known as Hiji from Lagos to Bathurst -- was engaged in the pleasing and harmless pastime od shooting crocks.
A grinning Krooboy, naked save for a breech-clout and a blue celluloid comb thrust in his kinky hair, squatted along the river bank with a long pole in his hand. Attacjhed to the pole was a length of strong, stout string, and at the string's far end there dangled the remains of a deceased cooking dog which swished slowly through the muddy waters of the Luabala with a motion counterfeiting swimming. Crocks are always hungry and ever guiltly of the sin of gluttony, and the appetizing scent of the defunct dog wasalure no crock, no matter how inhibited, could withstand. So presently there showed a long, triangular ripple on the surface of the water, and at its apex was the long pointed armored snout and knob-set eyes of a voracious saurian. The Krooboy was an old hand at the game and played the crocodile skillfully. Without appearing to do so, the bait increased its rate of speed, and the crock paddled faster, caution lost in appetite. The dog came closer to the shore, the crcodile in hot pursuit. Then Hiji raised his 9.5-mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer, took quick aim, and fired.
Your African crocodile is a tough customer. From ten to twenty feet in length, and armored like a tank, his skull is thick and hard as metal, his brain pan small, his vitality enormous. You can shoot him full of holes as a fly-net, yet cause him little more than temporary inconvenience till you hit a vital spot, and vital spots are few and far between. But Hiji was no duffer with a rifle. He could put a bullet through the trefoil of the ace of clubs at thirty paces, and the lone pip on the ace of clubs is considerably smaller than a cdocodile's eye. Also a Mannlicher-Schoenauer fires a bullet weighing 261.7 grams with a muzzle velocity of 2,600 feet per second and strikes with the power of 4,200 foot pounds. The crock lashed once or twice with his long tail, then sank beneath the surface or turned belly-up, webbed feet and short legss pointing to the sky. Post-mortems were invariably the same. The newly deceased crcok's cousins, aunts, sisters, and brothers swam to devour him, and Hiji potted one or two of them before they dragged him under or swam out of range.
-- "The White Goddess of the Khiva" by Seabury Quinn (from Short Stories, October 25, 1947
In a story riddled with stereotypes and a rascism that woiuld not sit well with today's readers, Seabury Quinn did what he usually did -- concoct an interesting and exciting tale. Quinn was never a stylist but, like Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard, he was able to propel a story, no matter how trite, into a rollercoaster of thrills and action.
Here we have Hiji, the brave, young, and practical leader of British troops sent to enforce English law in Centrl West Africa, an admistrator whose determination and swift action made him feared and respected by the tribes he oversaw. Hiji's reputation has kept the various tribes or or less settled, leving him little to do save for indulging in his hobby of shooting crocdiles. But his pastime is interupped by the appearance of a delegation of four Iliki wariors who had traveled 300 miles on the Luabala to presnt a grievance to Hiji.
Six months before the Khiva, a fierce tribe of cannibal warriors, began worshipping a powerful white goddess. Blonde, beautiful, and silent, she communicates only with the witch doctor Hiksoka during the dead of night. Since this goddess appeared, the crops were full, game was abundant, many male children had been born, and people were less inpacted by sickness. Truly this was a powerful goddess. The she instructed the Khiva to go to was against a small village and the Khiva wiped out the village and feasted on the dead bodies. When the Khiva attacked the Iliki, they managed to repel the invaders at a heavy cost. Since then the Khiva have been consorting to sorties, stealing the Iliki goats and grain, capturing their men, and tking their women for the slave trade. Now the Iliki are appealing to the powerful Hiji for justice. Hiji's reaction? A stout curse: "My Aunt Mehitabel's best Sunday-going-to-meetin' bustle!"
Hiji feels the tale of a white goddess was a bit of hokum. A white goddess is on the par with the Loch Ness Monster or the Jersey Devil -- there can be no such thing. He sets out to finds the truth with a troop of soldiers on his utility boat, the Wilhelmina. The boat travels along the Luabala and when it reaches the confluence of the Mendi-Mendi, which would lead to the territory of the Khiva, the boat continues up the Luabala. When Khiva spies reprted this to the fat King Hefela, the king prises the white goddess who obviously led Hiji away from the tribe. They tribe celebrated and danced and ate a young man randomly selected for sacrifice by Hiksoka.
Ah! But Hiji was cunning. He and some twenty soldiers had left the vessel downstream before it had reached the Mendi-Mendi and were now traveling through the jungle to surprise the Khavi. But King Hefela was also cunning, he had warriors posted as guards along all the trails leading to his village and one of the guards reported of Hiji's advance. Since there was only one trail from that direction leading to the village, Hefela knew of the perfect spot to waylay Hiji and his men. And so they do and Hiji and his soldiers are captured and about to be sacrificed. Hefela asks Hiji if his liver is tough enough to be made into a drum.
Golly, things look dire! But don't worry. Hiji carries the White Man's Burden well and comes out on top. And who -- or what -- was the white goddess? Sorry, but that would be telling.
Seaabiry Quinn was a lawyer who practiced mortuary law and taught mortuary jurisprudence in mortury schools for many years. He wrote a two textbooks on the subject. For 15 years he was also the editor of a mortuary trade magazine, Casket and Sunnyside. He also contributed to The American Funeral Director, Dodge Magazine (an enbalming magazine for the Dodge Chemical Company), and othe trade journals. All of which is a fitting background for his over-the-top weird tales of horror and grotesque crime. He is best known for his series about the occult detective Jules de Grandin, who battled supernatural forces in over ninety tales published in Weird Tales. Quinn was the popular author in the magazine, more so than H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, or Robert E. Howard (the three big names most commonly assiciated with Weird Tales), and Quinn's name on the cover would resuilt in increased sales.
Quinn was prolific and wrote many other stories in the detective and oriental fantasy fields. His novella Roads, which used original Christian legends to come up with a new origin for Santa Claus, is considered a classic. A three-volume set of stories he wrote for Dodge Magazine under the pseudonym "Jerome Burke," This I Remember: Memoirs of a Funeral Director, has been published by Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, a company which has also published all of Quinn's known work.
- Dan Simmons, The Fifth Heart. Mysery. "It is 1893, and Sherlock Holmes and Hanry James have come to America to solve the mystery of the 1895 'suicide' of Clover Adams, a member of the same Adams family that has given the United States two presidents. Holmes and James suspect foul play -- and that it may involve matters of national importance. On his Great Hiatus after his 'death' at Reichenbach Falls, Holmes explains that his powers of deduction have led him to a shocking conclusion that he -- Sherlock Holmes -- is a fictional character. This disturbs James with the question: If his fellow investigator is a work of fiction, what does that make him? Teeming with vividly drawn historical characters, The Fifth Heart is a fascinating and often amusing thriller with surprises at every turn." Dan Simmons writes big fat books, all of them well plotted, detailed, and addictive. There are few who can equal him.
- Florida Man Steven Wayne Yoakum, 51, of Wildwood, has not learned his lesson. Convicted of stalking his ex-girlfriend, he served more than six months for violating his parole by stalking the same woman. After his release from jail, guess who he began stalking once again. He is currently being held on $10,000 bail.
- Florida Woman Darlene Ann Schoff-Brock, 62, of Dania Beach, evidently did not what to do with the body of her brother whom she allegedly murdered in 2014, so she buried him in her backyard. Following a tip. the Broward County Sheriff's office set uip an interview with Schoff-Brock to talk about her brother, Donald Marks Schoff, whom Schoff=Brock had said had been out of the country for several years. The following day, her lawyer called to cancel the interview. Police dug in Schoff-Brock's backyard and found a body which had been shot in the back of the head and which DNA analysis had shown belonged to a male child of Scoff-Brock's mother. Neighbors decribed Schoff s "nice" and "mostly quiet." The motive for the slaying is unclear, although the pair had been known to argue over money, with Schoff accusing his sister of stealing from him.
- Pinellias County Florida Man Steven Jordan, 31, ws arrested for threatening Disney on Twitter. Jordan had opened a Twitter account on August 8 and made 186 tweets within a three-hour period. Two of those tweets were directed at Walt Disney World and its executives, threatening to "blow up all of your exec houses with C4" and to "toss a hand grenade through their loft window." Jordan admitted to authorities that he was responsible for those tweets, as well as other directed against Activision Games and at current litigation issues. As with Yokum (above), he is being held on $10,000 bond. We have no idea what his beef was against the Mouse, but Twitter shut his account the following day.
- This guy may not be Mike Tyson, but Florida Man James Lenn Williams, of Port St. Lucie, was arrested for biting off part of a friend's ear during a brawl at a Key West hotel. Williams was partying with a male friend and two women when one of the women passed out. Williams put the woman in a maintenance wheelbarrow and began wheeling her to a hotel room; he also poured beer on the unconscious woman and verbally insulted her. The woman then awakened and the trio tried to calm Williams down. Williams responding by pushing both women to the floor. this did not sit well with his male friend and the brouhaha started. Williams began by choking his friend and then advanced to biting off part of his ear. I am tempted to write "ear today, gone tomorrow," but I have much better taste than that.
- Locals digging a well accidently discover a $140 million star sapphire weightin half a ton https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/2-5-million-caret-sapphire-discovered-in-sri-lanka-weighing-half-a-ton/
- Solar-powered beach-combing robot filters even tiny particles of plastic 30 time faster that humans can https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/beach-cleaning-robot-helps-4ocean-clean-plastic-from-beaches/
- Teen rescues a bumblebee and now it won't leave her side -- even sleeping in a jar beside her bed https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/teen-rescues-bumblebee-and-now-it-wont-leave-her-side/
- Man's dog went missing two years before, then he recognizes him on television https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/man-sees-his-dog-on-tv-that-went-missing-2-years-ago/
- Police dog trained to find weapons aces special assignment to find lost wedding ring on a sandy beach https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/police-dog-finds-lost-diamond-ring-on-beach-elsa-green/
Sunday, August 22, 2021
THE BATTLE OF BOSWORTH FIELD
Saturday, August 21, 2021
MUSIC FROM THE PAST: DE DE DINAH
Friday, August 20, 2021
THE ADVENTURES OF MASCARA NEGRA (1957)
"Mascara Negra" is Spanish for "Black Mask."
I have forgotten every bit of Spanish I learned in school, so I am going to be of no help to you with this one.
She is a masked mystery crimefighter, appearing in the Spanish pulp El Encapuchado and in a weekly comic strip in Coyote. She appears in a tight-fitting (Is there any other kind in Comicbookland?) with white gloves and a long flowing cape. And there is a reporter named Bob.
That's about all can tell you except there are guns and cars and derring-do.
This is a compilation from the first several issues of Coyote that Mascara Negra appeared in. The artwork -- which ismpretty neat -- is evidently by Adriano Blasco.
This Mascara Negra should not be confused with the title character in a 1982 Spanish television show, Mascara Negro: that "Black Mask" is Don Carlos, a Spanish Zorro. Nor should it be confused with Mascara Negro, a short gay porn film from Brazil, circa 2010,
MUSIC FROM THE PAST: YOU MAKE ME FEEL BRAND NEW
Thursday, August 19, 2021
FORGOTTEN BOOK: ATTACK THE BARON
Attack the Baron by "Anthony Morton" (John Creasey) (1951)
I'm still on my John Creasey reading kick. So far in 2021 I've read twenty-five books by Creasey, with another twenty rmaining on Mount TBR. Since Creasey wrote some 560 books, there will still be plenty to read after the pile on Mount TBR is exhausted.
One of Creasey's most popular characters is John Mannering, a retired jewel thief -- think Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief, or Jean Servais in Rafifi, or even David Niven in The Pink Panther. During his jewel thief days, Mannering was known as The Baron (The first nine books in the series had him known as Blue Mask -- perhaps a side-handed nod to Bruce Graeme's fictional burglar Blackshirt -- Creasey changed the name to the Baron and reissued editions of the early novels in the series reflected this. Mannering's career followed three steps: first as an elusive and talented thief out for the bootie, then as a thief who resorts to crime to help others, and finally as a retired jewel thing and current owner of Quinn's, London's premiere store for rare jewels, fine art, and objets d'arte. Mannering's former identity as the Baron remains a secret, although his on-again, off-again friend Superintendent William Bristow of Scotland Yard strongly suspects his past and, with no available evidence, refuses to arrest him. Bristow dreads the day may come when he does have evidence against Mannering.
Other regular characters in the series are Lorna, Mannering's wife, who is the country's premiere portrait artist and -- just perhaps -- the main reason Mannering gave up thievery, Larraby, Quinn's shop manager and a former thief, and Chitterington, a newspaperman always willing to help Mannering while in search of a story.
Fabulous gems, rare antiques, and valuable paintings provide enough background material and motivation for Mannering's exploits, which ranged over 47 novels from 1937 to 1979.
Attack the Baron was the 20th book in the series and it starts out with a bang. Literally. During a robbery at Quinn's Mannering was shot in the head. The robber, a youth in his early twenties, made off with the fabulous Festinas diamond collection, worth about $25,000 pounds (that's in 1951 currency). As Mannering hangs between life and death, police make little progress in solving the crime, althoug they have a rough description of the robber. An emergency operation is successful, although Mannering had to remain in the hospital for two weeks, then in a nursing home, and then finally to rest for several more weeks. During the time, the robber, Reginald Allen, is found murdered. No trace of the gems were found.
The reader is forced to swallow a gigunda amount of disbelief at Mannering's recovery. Although he had been close to death, the bullet in his head resulted in no brain damage and no physical repercussions. Once that accepted, the story flows quickly and evenly through a tale of sordid crime, extortion, and blackmail. Mannering, of course, is in the thick of things, once again putting his life at risk while saving a beautiful girl. The girl, by the way, has captured Chittering's heart and the two become engaged two pages before the novel's end.
The Baron books, like most of Creasey's other series, are quick, engaging, and well-plotted adventures. They may not be great literature but they are damned entertaining and a pleasant way to pass a few hours.
MUSIC FROM THE PAST: EIGHTEEN WHEELS AND A DOZEN ROSES
THE NEW ADVENTURES OF NERO WOLFE: ROOM 304 (APRIL 27, 1951)
He supposedly weighs a seventh of a ton (272 pounds), although Archie Goodwin has said that his weight is between 310 and 390 ponunds. He avoids physical exertion. He raises prize orchids. He is a gourmand and has hired one of the best chefs in New York as his personal cook. He seldom leaves his brownstone. He is a genius who likes beer and good books.
Of course he's Nero Wolfe. The 33 novels and 4 novellas and short stories about the character were nominated at the best mystery series in 2000 and Rex Stout, its creator, was nominated at Best Mystery Writer of the Century. Wolfe also appeared in two theatrical films, Meet Nero Wolfe (1936) and The League of Frightened Men (1937), after which Stout declined to sell any further movies rights. (A wise choice based on the quality of those films.)
In 1959, Nero Wolfe was scheduled to air as a television series beginning in September 1959, with Kurt Kazner as Wolfe and William Shatner as Archis Goodwin; the series was never produced, although the half-hour pilot was. Then, in 1977, Paramount television filmed Nero Wolfe, based on Stout's The Doorbell Rang. The idea was to have Orson Welles play the great detective in the TV movie and in a series that would follow, but Welles dropped out of the project and Thayer David stepped into the Wolfe role. Unfortunately, David died before the film could be aired and the showing was delayed until December 1969. Then in 1981, NBC aired Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe a one-hour series starring William Cnrad and Lee Horsley. This one lasted 14 episodes, placing the series in comtemporary New York. Come 2000, Maury Chakin and Timothy Hutton appeared in the A&E television movie The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery, The ratings were a success and this spawned the network's A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2001-2002), with a reptory group of actors who played various parts in each episode.
Wolfe was also busy in other countries. There was a German TV miniseries in 1961, an Italian series that ran from 1969 to 1971, a Russian series of television movies from 2001 to 2005, and an Italian series in 2012. Italy also produced a stage adaptation of a Wolfe story in 2009. And back in America both The Red Box (2014) and Might as Well Be Dead (2017) were staged.
Wolfe has also shown up in a newspaper comic strip, in Japanese manga, on a Nicarguan postage stamp. and with his own digest-sized mystery magazine. Wolfe's adventures and deduction continue in 16 (thus far) authorized novels by Robert Goldsborough and in countless pastiches and parodies by others.
And then there's radio...
There have been four radio series over five networks: The Adventures of Nero Wolfe (New England Network, then on ABC, 1943-1944), The Amazing Nero Wolfe (Mutual, July 17-November 30, 1945), The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe ( NBC, 1951-1952), and Nero Wolfe (CBC, January 16-April 10, 1982).
Of these, certainly The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe must be considered the best, if only for the remarkable Sidney Greenstreet playing Nero Wolfe. Rex Stout, who felt that Charles Lughton would make a perfect Nero Wolfe, enjoyed Greenstreet's performances. Twenty-six episodes were aired (all but one are extant). Greenstreet was in failing health with diabetes and Bright's disease. He had made his final film in 1949 but his role as Wolfe kept him in the public eye. He dies in January of 1954.
"Room 304" was the final episode of The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe. It was produced by Edwin Faadiman and directed by J. Donald Wilson. The script was by Alfred Bester. Don Stanley was the announcer.
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
MUSIC FROM THE PAST: CIA MAN
BAD JOKE WEDNESDAY
"Honesty may be the best policy, but it's important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy." -- Geroge Carlin
Tuesday, August 17, 2021
WEDNESDAY'S SHORT STORY: THE DEATH'S HEAD
"The Death's Head" by "F. Laun" (Friedrich August Schuler) (first published in German in 1811 as 'Die Todtenkopf"; translated into French in Fantasmagoriana: ou Recueil d'Histoire d'Apparitions, de Spectres, Revenans, Fantomes, &c. Traduit de l'Allemand, pas un Amateur, 1812, anonymously edited by Jean Baptiste Benit Eyries; then translated from the French in Tales of the Dead, 1813, anonymously edited by Mrs. Sarah Elizabeth Brown Utterson)
Utterson's Tales of the Dead is one of the very first horror anthologies to appear in English. It contains five of the seven stories that in the French edition of Fantasmagoriana, which, in turn translated its stlories from the original German tales, many of which were evidently based on folklore and legend. Utterson also included one of her own stories, supposedly based on a legend told her.
Three of the six stories in Tales of the Dead were signed by F. Laun; a fourth story included in Fantasmagoriana was omitted from the Utterson volume. Laun was a pseudonym for Friedrich August Schuler, born in Dresden, Electorate of Saxony, Holy Roman Empire, in 1710. He was a popular and somewhat prolific novelist. With Johann Apel, he edited Des Gespensterbunch ("The Ghost Book," in six volumes, 1811-1816). Thomas de Quincy translated a number of his stories, saying "the unelaborative of Laun are mines of what is called Fun."
In "The Death's Head," Colonel Keilholm has recently purchased a large manor for himself and his family. Relaxing on a stone bench in front of the mansion, he sees two odd wagons pulling up to the nearby inn. One wagon is crowded with both adults and children who are obviously not related and who each has a discontented look of hatred on them. From the back of the wagon comes a good-looking young man who introduces himself as Calzolaro, the leader of this troupe of rope-dancers. Showing Keilholm the proper passports, he asks if he could camp on the property for a few days. It turns out that Calozaro was the son of the recently deceased schoolmaster, Schurster. Calozaro was to be in the village for a few days while he disputed his father's will.
The old schollmaster had hope that his only child would follow him in his profession and had educated and trained him to do so. But Colozaro had fallen into a wrong crowd and soon began to have other ideas. When he left the village to form his troupe, his father cut off all communication. Over the years, Colozaro had realized his mistake but was too endebted to others to kleave the troupe. His father's will, written with rancor, left his estate to a distant female relative with only a pittance for his son. Colozaro intended to to have the will overturned. The local priest, knowing what distress the son had caused the father, begged Colozaro to stop any such efforts, while the young woman who had inherited the estate offered to give Colozaro half. Colozaro refused and vowed to gain the entire estate.
In the meantime, Colozaro's troupe put on a performance for the colonel and was well recieved. Colozaro explained that each member of the troupe had a particular expertise, in fact, his was ventriloquism. This interested the colonel and he asked if Colozaro would be willing to put on a display for his friends. Seeking to make a jest at his friend's expense, the colonel suggested that Colozaro have a "conversation" with a death's head. It could be done in a darkened room at midnight with all sorts of eerie trappings. Colozaro agreed, if the colonel could get a real human skull for the ventriloquist's prop.
The colonel had the local sexton provide a skull from the graveyard. At the performance, Colozaro, dressed in a gaudy oriental costume, lit some incense, walked around the skull three times while muttering strange incantations, and drew a sword from his side. The audience, the colonel's friends and neighbors, took these actions in good humor, believing it all to be humbug. Colozaro then lifted the skull up with the point of his sword and, before speaking, fell in a panicked swoon. Recovering, he said that the skull had transformed into an image of his father, who the castigated him for his life. No one else saw or heard this, but Colozaro swore it had happened.
The sexton admitted that the skull was that of the old schoolteacher, and cited an old superstition that if one held a dead parent's skull at midnight, it would talk to him. The skull was immediately sent to the sexton's house for reburial. The sexton's wife had done this at exactly one o'clock -- the time Colozaro had recovered from his spell.
There is nothing like hlding your father's skull at swordpoint and having it talk to you. Colozaro vowed to give up his current career and abide by his father's wishes. He dropped all idea of a lawsuit. The heiress met with him and again offered to split the inheritence, but Colozano refused. However, sparks began to fly between the two and soon they were wed. At the wedding both heard the old schoolteacher's voice blessing the two. The colonel arranged a position for Colozano -- now reverting his name back to Schurster and all was well.
Had this been a typical tale in Weird Tales or some other pulp. it have ended with Colozano fainting at the apparition, perhaps with some sort of added nastiness. As a child of the 18th century, however, the happy ending was somewhat de rigeuer, with the requisite morale. You can decide which approach would be better.
MUSIC FROM THE PAST: OLD JOE CLARK
Doc and Merle Watson.
OVERLOOKED FILM: THUNDER ROCK (1942)
Michael Redgrave plays a disillussioned journalist who has retreated to being a lighthouse keeper on Lake Michigan -- it's sole resident. James Mason is his friend who arrives at the lightouse when it is found that Redgrave has cashed none of his paychecks. Redgrave, it seems, has combatted his loneliness by talking to the ghosts of those who have drowned in a shipwreck ninety years before.
A bit hokey, but a well-acted and well-staged fantasy that also serves as war propaganda, directed by Ray Boulting from the play by Robert Ardrey. Ardey's play was adapted for the screen by Jeffrey Dell and Bernard Miles. Also featured are Frederick Valk and Lilli Palmer, with a minor role going to a young Barry Morse.
I happen to be a big fan of James Mason's work. His commanding presence always lifts any film, from mediocre to good and from good to great. It ws wonderful to see him in this movie.
Monday, August 16, 2021
MUSIC FROM THE PAST: THE TIME OF MAN
BITS & PIECES
Openers: Although the man's back was turned toward me, I was uncomfortably conscious that he was watching me. How he could possibly be watching me while I stood directly behind him, I did not ask myself; yet, nevertheless, instinct warned me that I was being inspected; that smehow or other the man was staring at me as steadily as though he and I had been face to face, and his faded, sea-green eyes were focussed upon me.
It was an odd sensation which persisted in spite of logic, and of which I could not rid myself. Yet the little waitress did not seem to share it. Perhaps she was not under his glassy inspection. But then, of course, I could not be either.
No doubt the nervous tension incident to the expedition was making me superssensitive and even morbid.
-- "The Third Eye" by Robet W. Chambers (first published in Hearst's Magazine, February 1915; reprinted in Chambers' collection Police !!! that same year)
Our narrator is Percy Smith, a man dedicated to science and the "Chief of the Anthropological Field Survey of the great Bronx Park Zoological Society." We first meet him as he is about to embark on scientific expedition that he has kept secret for fear of ridicule. With him are Evelyn Grey, a hotel waitress who was along for scientific purposes only because, as Percy puts it, "Science knows no sex," Also along is their guide, Grue -- a rough, unkempt "cracker" whom Percy had found fishing. It was Grue who gave Percy that uncomfortable feeling. They are on their way to meet Professor Billy Kemper, the remaining member of the expedition.
Percy has kept the object of the expedition somewhat secret, as I said, for fear of ridicule. He is in search of a different kind of human being -- one with a third eye. Evelyn Grey had made friends with Tiger-tail, a Seminole Indian, who claimed that such a race existed. Besides having a third eye on the back of their skulls, these beings are able to breath through their pores and have a coating of thick, silky hair on their bodies, allowing them to stay under water as long as a turtle could. Percy is determined to capture one of these people, cage him, and bring him back to New York for the glory of science and the Bronx Park Zoological Society. Nothing, not even the attractions of the pretty young waitress, will get in his way. Perhaps this is just as well because Billy Kemper -- much younger and far more handsome than Percy -- has become smitten with Evelyn.
We all know where this is going, especially when we see Grue leap onto birds and drag them under water until they drowned. The light eventually dawns on Percy as he realizes that Grue is one of those beings he has been seeking. Grue manages to escape into the Florida waters and Percy is left without a specimen and without a girl.
Oh well, there's always the next story...Percy Smith, with his ongoing searches for strange animals, is the main character in six stories by Chambers, all of which were collected to form Police !!! Chamber had earlier written another six stories about the Bronx Park Zoological Society that features another character, Gilland the Zoologist; these have been apparantly collected in 1905's In Search of the Unknown.
Robert W. Chambers (1865-1933) was an artist and a popular writer of romance and historical novels, a number of which became bestsellers. Some of his earlier books ventured into the supernatural and the fantastic, including what is probably his most remembered book, The King in Yellow, which was an influence on H. P. Lovecraft and many who followed him. In all, Chambers published at least 82 books, including seven children's books and nine collections of short stories. Between 1908 and 2001, 28 films were based on his work -- the vast majority of them were made from 1916 to 1924. As with many popular authors of his time, Chambers' books remain virtually forgetten today with the exception of The King in Yellow. In 1974, Marion Zimmer Bradley published an interesting study, The Necessity for Beauty: Robert W. Chambers & The Romantic Tradition; think what you will of Bradley, but this book has some interesting insights.
- James Blish, The Star Dwellers. Science fiction novel, ostensibly a juvenile. Energy beings, many from the beginning of the universe, are discovered. As with many of Blish's novels, science, philosophy, and adventure are thrown into an imaginative mix to make a satisfying read. A sequel, Mission to the Heart Stars, was punished several years later.
- Philip Jose Farmer, The Purple Book. Science fiction fix-up novel that includes the Hugio-winning short novel "Riders of the Purple Wage," as well as "The Oogenesis of Bird City," "Spiders of the Purple Mage," "The Making of Revelation, Part I," and "The Long Wet Purple Dream of Rip Van Winkle." An unpredictable novel that occasiolnally veers into profanely purple territory.
- Donald Goines, White Man's Justice, Black Man's Grief. Prison novel. "This is the story of Chester Hines. who though he was the baddest man to come down the street. Behind prison walls, he was nothing more than fresh meat." Goines became addicted to heroin while serving in the Air Force. Upon his honorable discharge, he turn to crime to support his habit and was sentenced to prison several times. While in Michigan's Jackson Penitentiary, Goines -- influenced by Iceberg Slim's Pimp: The Story of My Life -- he began writing novels of inner city life. He complete 16 novels in his short life. On October 21, 1974, Goines and his common-law wife were found murdered in their apartment. Bothnhad multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and head. Donald Goines was 37. His killers were never caught. One theory has it that basing some of characters on real-life criminals had offended the wrong persons; another, that he was killed over money owed for drugs.
- Pat Graverson, Stones. Horror novel. "Ever since Cami's dad died in a plane crash, life hadn't been easy for ther and her mother, Proter. Noe they had moved into a big old house in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where Porter was going to run a rare book store. It seemed like things were finally going to be okay again. Then the stones arrived. They were a strange grayish green, and about the size of robins' eggs. Dad had collected the stones on that last trip to Turkey, and it had taken all this time to catch up with them. Cami thought they were weird, but Porter decided to decorate the garden with them, and they did look pretty neat, all in cicles around the bushes. The only trouble was, every morning the stones were in a different design. Cami knew her mother thought she was doing it. But she wasn't. Cami had a terrible feeling that they had planted something evil in their very own garden. Especially when she noticed that the stone were moving little by little into a distinct and horrifying pattern..."
- Mick Herron, Slow Horses. Spy guy thriller, the first in a series. "Slough Hlouse is a dumping ground for British intelligence agents who've screwed up a case -- say by leaving a secret file on a train, or blowing a surveillance. River Cartwright, one such 'slow horse,' is bitter about his failure and about his tedious assignment transcribing cell phone conversations. When a young man is abducted and his kidnappers threaten to broadcast his beheading live on the internet, River sees an opportunity to redeem himself. But is the victim who he first appears to be? And what is the kidnappers' connection with a disgraced journalist? As the clock ticks on the execution, River finds that everyone has his own agenda." This one was nominated for a Steel Dagger.
- Edward Loti, Murder by Magic. A Cranberry Country Mystery, evidently the fifth in a series. "In the course of her investigations as a self-styled detective, Lena Lombardi has on occasion found herself -- figuratively -- in some arther tight spots. But this time the deep hole she's fallen into is real. And there's no one nearby to help her out -- no one except three angry pursuers who, she has reason to believe, are out to kill her. It started innocently enough: Lena, trying to help out a friend suspected of jurder. But was it murder? Peter Gilbert's body showed no signs of foul play. He simply froze to death. If it was murder. it could only have been done by magic. Or so it seemed. And then there was the so-called Hickman Secret. Was that connected with the two deaths? Yes -- the first death was followed by a second. And no doubt about it, this one was murder. So the joke was on Lena. She was quite sure she knew the identity of the killer. She even had evidence of sorts. But wht good would it do her -- or her friend -- if she ended up dead herself, like a rat in a hole?" I picked this one up, not knowing if it was any good, because it was set on Cape Cod and the detective was a woman of a certain age. Time will tell if it was worth my investment.
- Octave Mirbeau, Torture Garden, originally published in 1899 as Le Jardin des supplices. "One of the strangest tories ever written...Here is a novel that is hot withnthe fever of estatic, prohibited joys, as cruel as a thumbscrew and as luxuriant as an Oriental tapestry. This exotic story of Clara and her insatiable desire for the perverse and the forbidden has been hailed by the critics: '...here is a thriller and shocker that will cause the blood to creep and the spine to tingle....' Charles Hanson Towne" A classic novel of its kind, translated by Alvah C. Bessie in 1931. This is the 1955 Berkley Books paperback edition with a fantasically nifty cover illustration.
- Alexei Panshin, Rite of Passage. Science fiction novel, winner of the 1968 Nebukla Award. "In 2198, after the desperaate wars that destroyed Earth, Man live precariously on a hundred colony worlds and in the seven giant Ships that once ferried man to the stars. Young Mia Havero has lived a safe and happy childhood aboard one of the great Ships. But now Mia approached the age of The Trial -- when children are tested against the hostile wilds of a colony world -- to survive or perish!" Panshin is also the author of the delightful Anthony Villiers series of three novels (the fourth remains unpublished) which brought echoes of Georgette Heyer to the SF field. He is also a science fiction critic of note.
- Jack Seabrook, Martians and Misplaced Clues: The Life & Work of Fredric Brown. The first full-length study of this noted author of mysteries and science fiction. A well-detailed and well-research book, as well as an enjoyable read. A must for anyone who is a fan of Brown's work. Seabrook currently blogs at bare-bones e-zine, along with Peter Enfintino, John Scolari, and Jose Cruz -- check it out.
- "Curtis Steele" (Federick C. Davis), Legions of the Death Master. Pulp novel featuring Jimmy Christopher, also known as Operator 5, agent extraordinary of the U.S. Intelligence Service. This is #7 in the series, first appearing in Operator 5, October 1934. "The Nation writhed in the throes of a crisis...torn by treason, fevered with internal discord and mob violence. Destrcutive forces towered menacingly on every side, while espionage and subversion swarmed within, aided by the well-intenioned and powerfully placed dupes of a sinister conspiracy. Only Operator 5, top agent of the nation's intelligence network, could hpe to pull this country back from the perilous brink of bloody chaos...and soon it seemed that the very government he strove to rescue had turned viciously on him, threatening his death even as it blundered headlong toward its own!" Weapons of bacteria, plague, and terrible diseases are aimed at America by a foreign demagogue. Operator 5 ran for 48 issues, April 1934 to November 1939, each with a new novel about the character. The first twenty were written by Davis, who left because of the publisher's demand that he think up a new evil super-power trying to destpoy America every issue. Davis was replaced by Emil Tepperman with issue 21, who solved the problem by writing 13 interconnected novels, beginning with issue #26 that made up "The Purple Invasion" sequence, which is now looked upon as a classic in pulp writing. Wayne Rogers stepped in to write the last nine novels.
- "Grant Stockbridge" (Norvell Page), Corpse Cargo. Pulp novel featuring Richard Wentworth as The Spider, the tenth in the series, first published in The Spider, July 1934. This is a paperback reprint from Dimedia, Inc., which lists it a #2 in their series (which lasted for three books). "Thousands die as modern pirates prey the passenger railroads with deadly science. The S[pider swings into action as he tracks down the blood-thirsty fiends whose credo is 'Dead men tell no tales.' " I love Page's take on The Spider because of the way the bodies pile up -- usually by the thousands. I suppose this indicates that there is something very wrong with me.
- Florida Man Cameron Herrin, 21, began his 24-year sentence in April for killing a mother and her 21-month-old daughter in a vehicular accident. At the time of the accident Herrin was 18. By this July, a world-wide twitter campaign was decrying the severity of his sentence. By the end of July, there were at least 100,000 such tweets, with a new one coming in every 30 seconds. Videos relating to Herrin have been viewed 1.7 billion times. It turns out that most of those tweets came from the Middle East, most likely part of a paid campaign. Some of the tweets may have been real, but the large amount of tweets, where they were originated from, the similarity of language in some of them and the misspellings in others, point to an organized effort to influence others from fake accounts; one account, for instance, had been used to promote the K-pop music group BTS and switched exclusively to tweeting about Herrin. It is not known who is responsible for the tweets or what the true motivation is.
- Florida Man Jack Foraker's brand new Ford Ranger pick-up truck was struck by lightning and the event was caught on his dashboard camera. "It sounded like a shotgun blast to the back of my truck," The truck only had 4000 miles on it. Foraker, who lost his power steering and power brakes, managed to pull the truck to the side of the road. He was unhurt but his truck was in intensives care for 40 days at a local garage before Foraker resigned himself to buying a replacement vehicle.
- Florida Man Charles Harrington went on a spree and stole two trucks, a car, a four-wheeler, and a forklift, according to the Volusia County Sherriff's Office. Harrington told police that hw was just ouot "swimming" with his "old lady." was looking for a ride to the store. was k ocking on a door to ask for water, and that he "didn't do nothing." Evidentlyk there were also some shoes that were stolen but the news reports did not go into that.
- An unidentified Florida Man, in his twenties, has been hospitalized after jumping into the jaguar cage at the Jacksonvill Zoo and Gardens. He was evidently taunting the jaguar and the jaguar, just as evidently, did not like that.
- Florida Teen Rafael Woloski, 18, of Vero Beach, has, if not an alibi. at least an explantion as to why he burgled a number of homes in his neighborhood. He was told to commit the felonies by Satan himself, and to use the ill=gotten gains to pay for college. Well, in that case, sir...
- Florida Man PJ Nilaha Patterson will stand trial for beating and torturing an iguana to death. Patterson will be relying on a "stand your ground" defense.
- Boy raises $700K for hosp[ice by camping out for 500 nights after a dying man gave him a tent https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/boy-raises-700k-for-hospice-by-camping-out-500-nights/
- 10-year-old boy inspires the world to donate half a million books for kids https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/orion-jean-is-on-a-mission-to-donate-500k-books/
- New film tells the inspiring story of the fastest blind man in the world https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/untethered-film-features-blind-world-record-sprinter/
- Life saving treatment for heart attacks found in venom of poison spider https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/spider-venom-blocks-damage-after-heart-attacks/
- Wisconsin town falls in love with a wayward beach ball https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/stoughton-wisconsin-roly-poly-ole/
- Target is offering debt-free degrees to more than 340,000 Target team workers https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/target-debt-free-degrees-and-books-for-workers/
- And Walmart announces plan to pay 100% of college tuition plus nooks for its workers https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/walmart-announces-plan-to-pay-100-of-college-tuition-for-its-workers/
- Real-life Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Star discovered found https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/underwater-robot-finds-spongebob-and-patrick-in-north-atlantic/
- Israeli woman donates kidney to 3-year-old Palestinian boy in Gaza https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/kidney-transplant-palestine-israel-idit-harel-segal/
- And from the August 20, 2021 edition of The Week: Envirnmental activist Garrett Stuart, known as "Captain Planet." is installing artificial reefs in Sarasota, Florida. Each reef provides a home for 300 fish and 200 crabs a year and purifies some 30,000 gallons of water a day...and the reef critters fight the bloom of red tide.
Sunday, August 15, 2021
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESSAMYN!
For a kid who was grounded for half of her high school career, she turned out pretty good. Actually she's always been better than pretty good. Jessie is a bright, smiling, loving person and we have always been proud of her.
Sometimes it hasn't been easy for her. When she was five, Kitty noticed something stange on Jessie's head while washing her hair. We brought her to the doctor to check it out and Kitty got a lot of "There, There, you're just an over-reacting mother"s. Still we pursued and got eventually a diagnosis of a very rare cancer -- one that is seldom detected before puberty and, by then, was fatal. The biopsy they had taken would not heal and she had to have that wound cauterized once a week for five weeks; she got through this because we allowed her to wear the gaudiest outfits, costume jewely, and real make-up each time. (Well, that, and Kitty held her very tight.) When we brought her into the hospital for the operation, the nurses -- who had never heard of this particular type of cancer -- were expecting a weakened and sickly child, not a laughing little girl whose grandfather taught her to do wheelies down the hospital corridor in her wheel chair. The surgery was a success, but the surgeon told us he had to go back to the books before operating. From then on, our pediatrician exercised caution toward any bump, mole, or bruise. He joked that Jessie's middle name was "Take It Out." When she was twelve, the scar from the operation began to change. Afraid that this was a recurrance, another operation was scheduled and the surgeon was surprised that this was just the old scar pushing out. While he was telling us the good news, Jessie (who had been sedated) walked out of the operating room to say hello to us.
Then, when Jessie was fourteen, she was taking a physical for some sports thing -- I can't remember what - and we were told we should have her upper leg x-rayed. We did and there was a nasty-looking spot on her leg. A specialist told us it was osteosarcoma, which meant that the elg would have to amputated at the hip. His partner, however, disagreed, and they argued over the diagnosis for more than a week, after which time we brought her into Boston Children's Hospital for a further diagnosis. After an hour or so waiting, the head of the Oncology Department came out and his first words were, "It's not osteosarcoma." It turned out be some type of pearlized that would not get any bigger and that was not a threat -- no treatment was necessary. Immediately both Kitty and I began to cry. Throughout this entire saga, Jessie showed no fear or worry. She had that 14-year-old belief that -- even if she needed her lag amputated -- all would be well. She remained her smiling, sweet, positive self.
A year or so after that, Kitty and I were house managers for an Actors' Equity theater and we often brought the girls and some of their friends to help out and serve as ushers. During one intermission, a woman had a major epileptic seizure. Jessie calmly (and immediately) arranged stanchions around the woman and kept gawkers away while the woman's caretaker tended to her. That reaction epitomized Jessie and was just one of many reasons we are so proud of her.
I can't begin to explain how amazing she is. Her warmth, her intelligence, her sense of humor, and her deep sense of empathy shine through. She has hobnobbed with Presidential candidates, U.S. Senators, and renowned actors. as well as with the poverty-stricken, treating one and all with the same respect. She has overcome the hardships of early widowhood and managed to raise two amazing daughters. A few years ago she beat breast cancer with her typical up-beat outlook and humor. She has earned a reputation at her work as a problem solver. I truly cannot think of anyone who does not love and respect her.
She's our kid and we love her.
LET'S ARGUE OVER THIS LIST
Lists can be fun while also being very frustrating. Take this list of the 25 most important events in human history.
The items on this list are broad, Western-centric, and sometimes ill-informed and, at the same time, ignore the events that directly led some of those on the list.
No matter. What do you think of this list that ignores Buddha, the harnessing of electricity, the discoveries of Galileo, Newton, and Einstein, the interstate highway system, the slave trade, the establishment of schools and libraries, and much of the history of Asia, Africa, and South America? How would youn change this list?
Let the arguments commence.
Friday, August 13, 2021
MUSIC FROM THE PAST: SCARBOROUGH FAIR
Happy birthday, Sarah Brightman!
CAPTAIN ATOM #1 (JANUARY 1948)
Captain Atom, a popular australian comic book superhero, was created by writer Jack Bellow (as "John Welles") and artist Arthur Mather. First published by Atlas Publications, the comic book lasted for 64 monthly issues. During its first two years the book was published in color, reverting to a standard black and white when the costs of color (colour) production became prohibative. The character was envisioned as a cross between Fawcett's Captain Marvel and Quality Comics' Captain Triumph. Compared to other many comic books of the time, the artwork appeare crude and amateurish, but that did not stop Captain Atom from having its own merchandising and a fan club that numbered 75,000.
Who is Captain Atom? He's the enemy of evil! "Into the world of today clmes the ATOM MAN! The greatest of them all! Drawing on his super-human powers from the limitless reservoirs of atomic force the world's greatest man dedicates his life to defeating the machinations of the wicked!"
On an uncharged atoll near Bikini Island the wise white king's beautiful daughter Lais spots a strange craft coming to shore, In it is a baby with a note attached to his clothers: "These twin boys were born at Bikini the instant the atom bomb exploded -- they miraculously escaped death but their parents and all arounf them perished -- the mystery of their survival holds the secret of the future -- who guards them guards the future of the world."
Whoa. Wait. Twin boys? There's only one baby. Well, no matter. It is felt that this child will guard "the secret of the atoll."
A couple of weeks pass and the baby becomes a boy. Naturally they suspect the kid is no ordinary mortal. Within a few months he had grown to a man. The wise white king named the boy Bikini so maybe the white king was no so wise after all. Fast forward a few more months. The king andLaia reveal to Bikini the contents of the note and that he supposedly had a brother.
Meanwhile...a villainous crew led by a masked man land on the island. Their intent is to kill everyone on the island except for the king and the daughter. Once they are forced to reveal "the secret of the atoll," they, too, will be killed. Bikini, who happens to be on a nearby cliff top, hears the gunshots and sees smoke coming from the village. He rushes to the scene but is soon captured. Tie to a tree and threatened with death, Bikini wishes that his twin brother was there to help him. Then Bikini utters a strange word, "EXENOR!", and transforms to Atom Man. Bullets cannot stop him and he rips a tree from the ground and tosses it at the villains. The bad guys escape as Atom Man releases Lais and the king.
So who is Atom Man? He is the twin brother of Bikini. While Bikini is visable, Atom Man is invisable; while Atom Man is visible, Bikini is invisable. Neat trick, huh?
The bad guys fire guns from their boat, wounding the king. Before he dies he tells Lais and Atom Man that they (and Bikini) must protect "the secret of the atoll." Lais leads Atom Man to an underground cavern where they meet the Prophet of Exenor who tells them that millions of years ago there was an advanced scientic race on Earth which went down the path of evil and destroyed themselves with atomic power. It is up to Captain Atom to gor against the evil forces that might use the atom for evil. So off go Captain Atom and Lais to save the world.
Also included in this issue is an adventure of Dick Hawke, pipe-smoking detective, in "The Case of Murder on the High Seas." Six people, set to share a large inhetience equally. are on a cruise as they get murdered off one by one. Hawk manages to solve the case when they is only one heir left. He also smokes his pipe very oddly on occasion.