Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, October 31, 2022


 Happy birthday to film actress Laura La Plante (nee Laura Laplante), born 118 years ago today.  A tunning beauty, he made her film debut at age 15 as a Christie Comedy Bathing Beauty.  he quickly moved on to being featured as Nora, the beautiful daughter of Jiggs, in three shorts based on George McManus's popular comic strip Bringing Up Father (later Maggie & Jiggs).  By 1923 she was named one of that year's WAMPAS Baby Stars.  (each year the Western Association of Mlotion Picture Advetissers would pick thirteen young actresses they felt would become major stars; although most failed to live up to the hype, among the more noted  WAMPAS Baby Stars were Clara Bow, Janet Gaynor, Fay Wray, Delores del Rio, Mary Astor, Joan Crawford, Loretta Young, Jean Arthur, Joan Blondell, and Ginger Rogers.)  During the 1920s, La Plante appeared in more than 60 films, mostly for Universal Pictures and was the sutdio's most popular star.  The Cat and the Canary was one of her most popular films.

With the advent of talkies, La Plante made the transition easily but soon found that the talkies brought with it an abundance of new talent which soon overshadowed her.  One film, the semi-talkie Show Boat (1929) was filmed as an adaptation of Edna Ferber's novel and not the musical; at the last minute, producers added some musical numbers to the film for "insurance.'  La Plante can be seen playing the banjo in the film, but she was surprised to learn that her songs were dubbed by another actress.

La Plante made 90 films between 1921 and 1935.  she returned to make another film in 1946. a television episode in 1955, another television episode in 1956 as well as a final film.  She died in 1996 from complicatins from Alzheimer's.

In 1954, she made a surprise guest appearance on Groucho Marx's quiz show You Bet Your Life undr her married name of Mrs. Laura Asher; it took Marx just a few minutes to recognize her.  LaPlante donated her winnings -- $215 -- to the Motion Picture Relief Fund.

The Cat and the Canary was a comedy-thriller melodrama based on the famous 1922 play by John Willard.  Eccentric millionaire Cyrus West is dying.  On his deathbed he announced that his will was going to be locked in a safe and would not be read for 20 years.  When the twenty years had passed it was discovered that a second will had mysteriously appeared in the safe -- this one not to be opened unless the conditions of the first will were not met.  Mammy Pleasant, the caretaker of the West mansion, feels the will was put there by Cyrus West's ghost.  Come midnight and the time to read the will, the nephews of Cyrus -- Harry (Arthur Edmond Carewe), Charlie (Forrest Stanley), and Paul (Creighton Hale) -- along with Cyrus's sister Susan (Flora Finch) and her nieces Cicly (Gertrude Astor) and Annabelle (La Plante) gather to learn that Cyrus left everything to his ?most distant relative bearing the last name West," who is Annabelle; if Annabelle is unable to inherit, the second will must be opened.

Well, dang.  That puts Annabelle in danger.  then word comes that an escaped lunatic who calls himself the Cat is either in the house or on the grounds...

The Cat and the Canary has been filmed five other time, most notably in 1939 with Bob Hope and Pauiline Goddard.

The 1926 version has its own charms.  Check it out.

And here's a clip of La Plante on You Bet Your Life

Sunday, October 30, 2022


 (You may recognize the origin of a well-known childhood rhyme in the following poem; t help yuut, I've marked that part in red.)

Alonzo the Brave, and Fair Imogine:

A Warrior so bold, and a Virgin so bright

Conversed, as They sat on the Green:

They gazed at each other with tender delight;

Alnz the Brave was the name of the Knight,

And the maid's was the Fair Imogine.

'And Oh!' said the Youth, 'since tomorrow I go

To fight in a far distant land,

Your tears for my absence soon leaving to flow,

Some other will court you, and you will bestow

On a wealthier Suitor your hand.'

'Oh! hush these suspicions,' Fair Imogine said,

'Offensive to love and to me!

For if ye be living, or if ye be dead,

I swear by the Virgin, that none in your stead

Shall husband of Imogine be.

'If e'er by lust or by wealth led aside

Frget my Alonzo the Brave,

God grant, that to punish my falsehod and pride

Your Ghost at the Marriage may sit by my side,

May tax me with perjury, claim me as Bride,

And bear me away to the Grave!'

To Palestine hastened our hero so bold;

His Love, She lamented him sore:

But scarce had a twelve-month elapsed, when behold,

A Baron all covered in jewels and gold

Arrived at Fair Imgine's door.

His treasure, his presents, his spacious domain

Soon made her untrue to her vows;

He dazzled her eyes; he bewildered her brain;

He caught her affections so light and so vain,

And carried her home as his Spouse.

And now had the marriage been blest by the Priest;

The revelry now was begun;

The Tables, they groaned with the weight of the Feast;

Not yet had the laughter and merriment ceased,

When the bell of the Castle told -- 'One!'

Then first with amazement Fair Imogine found

That a stranger was placed by her side:  His air was terrific;

He uttered no sound;  He spoke not.  He moved not.

He looked not around.

But earnestly gazed on the Bride.

His vizor was closed, and gigantic his height;

His armour was sable to view:

All pleasure and laughter were hushed at his sight;

The Dogs as They eyed him drew back in affright,

The light in the chamber burned blue!

His presence all bosoms appeared to dismay;

The Guests sat in silence and fear.

At length spoke the Bride, while She trembled;

'I pray, Sir Knight, that your Helmet aside you would lay,

And deign to partake of our chear.'

The Lady is silent:  the Stranger complies.

His vizor lie slowly unclothed:

Oh!  God!  What a sight met Fair Imogine's eyes!

What words can express her dismay and surprize,

When a skeleton's head was exposed!

All present then uttered a terrified shout;

All turned with disgust from the scene.

The worms, They crept in, and the worms, They crept out,

And sported his eyes and his temples about.

While the Spectre addressed Imogine.

'Behold me, Thou false one!  Behold me!' He cried;

'Remember Alonzo the Brave!

God grants, that to punish thy falsehood and pride

My ghost at thy marriage shall sit by thy side,

Should tax thee with perjury, claim thee as Bride

And bear thee away to the Grave!'

Thus saying, his arms round the Lady He wound,

While loudly She shreiked in dismay;

Then sank with his prey through the wide-yawning ground:

Nor ever again was Fair Imgine found, 

Or the Spectre who bore her away.

Not long lived the Baron; and none since that time

To inhabit the Castle presume:

For Chronicles tell, that by order sublime

There Imogine suffers the pain of her crime,

And mourns her deplorable doom.

At midnight four times in each year does her Spright

When Mortals in slumber are bound,

Arrayed in her bridal apparel of white,

Appear in the Hall with the Skeleton-Knight,

And shriek, as He whirls her around.

While They drink out of skulls newly torn from the grave,

Dancing round them the Spectres are seen:

Their liquor is blood, and this horrible Stave

They howl -- 'To the health of Alonzo the Brave,

And his Consort, the False Imogine!'

-- M. G. Lewis, from his novel The Monk:  A Romance, 1796


 Here are few comic books for you to enjoy this Halloween, some scary and some not so much :

The Addams Family

Adventures Into the Unknown

Amazing Adventures

Amazing Aventures soon morphed into Amazing Fantasy, which in issue #15 introduced a high school student named Peter Parker

The Beyond

Black Magic

Casper the Friendly Ghost

Ghost Comics

Ghost Stories

Hot Stuff

Wendy the Good Little Witch

And, to counteract Wendy, here's Vampirella



For me, Hallween always needs a vampire lurking about somewhere, and there has never been a film vampire more scary than Max Schreck in this 1922 classic.  The German word "schreck" aptly signifies "fright, scare, or terror."



 The Devil's Carbuncle:

RICARDO PALMA, the Lima correspondent of La Raza Latina, has been collecting some curious South American traditions which date back to the Spanish Conquest.  The following legend, entitled "El Carbunclo del Diablo," is one of these: -- 

When Juan de la Torre, one of the celebrated Conquistadores, discovered and seized an immense treasure in one of the huacas near the city of Lima, the Spanish soldiers became seized with a veritable mania for treasure-seeking among the old forts and cemeteries of the Indians.  Now there were ballesteros belonging to the company of Captain Diego Gumiel, who had formed a partnership for the purpose of seeking fortunes among the huacas of Minaflores, and who had already spent weeks upon weeks in digging for treasure without finding the smallest article of value.

On Good Friday, in the year 1547, without any respect for the sancity of the day, -- for to human covetousness nthing is scared -- the three ballesteros, after vainly sweating and panting all morning and afternoon, had not found anything except a mummy -- not even a trinket or bit of pottery worth three pesatas.  Thereupon they gave themselves over to the Father of Evil -- cursing all the Powers of Heaven, and blastheming so horribly that the Devil himself was obliged to stop his ears with cotton.

By this time the sun had set; and the adventurers were preparing to return to Lima, cursing the niggardly Indians for the unpardonable stupidity of not having been emtombed in state on beds of solid gold or silver, when one of the Spaniards gave the mummy so ferocious a kick that it rolled a considerable distance.  A glimmering jewel dropped from the skeleton, and rolled slowly after the mummy.

"Canario!" cried one of the soldiers, "what kind of a taper is that?  Santa Maria! what a glorius carbuncle!"

And he was abut to walk toward the jewel, when the one who kicked the corpse, and who was a great bully, held him back with the words: --

"Halt, comrade!  May I never be sad if that carbuncle does not belong to me; for it was I who found the mummy!"

"May the devil carry thee away!  I first saw it shine, and may I die before any other shall possess it!"

"Cepos quedos!" thundered the third, unsheathing his sword, and making it whistle ariund his head.  "So I am nobody?"

And a tremendous fight began around the three comrades.

The follwing day some Milayos found the dead body of one of the combatants, and the other two riddled with wounds, begging for a confessor.  Before they died they related the story of the carbuncle, and how it illuminated the combat with a sinister and lurid light.  But the carbuncle was never found after.  Traditin describes its rigin to the Devil; and it is said that each Good Friday night travelers may perceive the baleful rays twinkling from the huaca Juliana, rendered famus by this legend.

-- Lafcadio Hearn, from the Daily Item (New Orleans), November 2, 1889; reprinted in Hearn, Fantastics, and Other Fancies, edited by Charles Wdward Hutson, 1914


 Alpheus Bings -- Thrill Hound:  The Death's-Head Mystery:


At the age when a youngster likes marbles and tops,

And indulges in bull's-eyes and pink lollipops,

A certain young person named Alpheus Bings,

Showed a positive bent for more serious things.

And nothing was able so strongly to rouse his

Attention and interest as old haunted houses,

And graveyards and specters with skeleton features

And goblins and such supernatural creatures.

Now when he attained man's estate, and the rank

Of a shiny-sleeved, pen-pushing clerk in a bank,

By day he filled ledgers with stunts in addition,

While at night, he'd fare forth on some thrill-hunting mission.

From outward appearance, you'd never have dreamed

That our hero was anything more than he seemed --

A spectacled clerk, with a rather weak chin,

A high bulging forehead, and feet that turned in,

A prominent nose and pale watery eyes,

And a definite passion for loud socks and ties.

Now, Alpheus Biggs had been told of a place,

Where a curious vision -- a death's-head face,

Would appear ev'ry night like an evil eye,

To scare timid persons meadering by.

The night that he heard the tale, Alpheus went

To the house which the specter was said to frequent --

A lonely old shack in a sparce-settled section,

It stood in the moonlight imviting inspection.

He had gone at an earlier hour of the day,

To examine the cottage and find out the lay

Of the land from a neighboring factory watchman --

A surly old son of a gun of a Scotchman,

Who said he'd been twenty-odd years on his post,

And had never observed any sign of a ghost.

When told about others who'd seen it, he laughed,

Then shifted his pipe and opined they were daft.

The hut was locked up all the time -- not a doubt of it;

Not even a ghost could get in or get out of it!

'Twas midnight when Alpheus Bings traveled back

To take up his vigil around the old shack.

Approaching on tiptoe, he strained ears and eyes

In the hope that he'd catch a stray spook by surprise;

But nothing rewarded his earnest endeavor.

The shack was as dark and deserted as ever.

And then he walked briskly, with firm swinging stride

Around to examine the opposite side.

He gasped in amaze.  The sight was too horrid!

A cold perspiration broke out on his forehead.

His knees knocked together; his wisdom teeth chattered.

His wits momentarily left him and scattered.

For, clearly revealed -- thought the moonlight was dim --

A grim, grisly death's-head was grinning at him!

Closer and closer young Alpheus came,

Till within just a foot of the shack window frame.

Then he halted abruptly, again seized with fear,

For a weird groaning sound was assaulting his ear.

'Twas not overloud, yet how plaintive and sad!

Like the moan of a soul who has gone to the bad.

His panic passed quickly; his heart again reckoned

Its usual quota of pulse beats a second.

The joy of the thrill hunt imbued him deliciously.

Discarding all fear, he advanced surreptitiously.

Another tense moment, then Alpheus lunged

And straight at the specter courageously plunged

As it squatted there grinning in horrible mockery.

A crash of glass followed; a clatter of crockery.

The weird groaning sound ceased abruptly, and then

He heard a voice shouting:  "Hoot, mon!  Do ye ken?

If ye want to come in, there's a dure o' the shack ajar.

Ye spook-hunting loon, ye have broken my 'bacca jar."

He followed the words with a haymaking swing

At Alpheus' head, which began then to sing,

And dizzily hum in a set of gyrations,

The while he saw dozens of bright constellations.

The watchman, it seemed, had a habit of shirking,

And snored in the shack when he should have been working.

His tobacco jar, fashioned to look like a skull,

He kept on the window, so that he could lull

His overwrought nerves with a pipeful on waking;

And this was the start of the ghost story's making.

One thing, though, is clear, you can say what you wish.

You can even call Alpheus Bings a poor fish.

You can censure his conduct throughout the whole history,

But you can't say he didn't unravel the whole mystery!

-- Rnald Oliphant, from The Thrill Book, April 15, 1919


 Hark!  The Rattle!:

We sat in the Purple Lily -- Tain Dirk, that far too handsome young man, and me.

I drank coffee; Tain Dirk drank liquor -- secretly and alone.  The night was drenched with sweating summer heat, but I felt cold as ice.  Presently we went up to the Palm Grove Roof, where Bimi Tal was to dance.

"Who is this Bimi Tal, Hammer?" Dirk asked me, drumming his fingers.

"A woman."

"You're a queer one, Jerry Hammer!" ssaid Dirk, narrowing his cold eyes.

He still drummed his blunt fingers.  Sharp -- tat!  tat!  tat!  Something deep inside me -- my liver, perhaps -- shivered and grew white at hearing that klirring sound.

I didn't answer him right away.  Slowly I sent up smoke rings to circle the huge stars.  We sat in a cave of potted palms close by the dancing floor.  Over us lay blue-black night, stange and deep.  Yellow as roses were the splotches of stars swimming down the sky.

"It shows you've been away from New York, Dirk, if you don't know Bimi Tal.  She's made herself more famous as a dancer than ever was Ynecita.  Some mystery is supposed to hang about her; and these simple children of New York love mysteries."

"I've been away three years," said Dirk sulkily, his eyes contracting.

"That long?  It was three years ago that Ynecita was killed."

"Well?" asked Dirk.  His finger-drumming droned away.

"I thought you might have known her, Dirk."

"I?"  His wide lips twitched.  "Why, Ynecita was common to half New York!"

"But once," I said, "once, it may be assumed, she was true to one man only, Tain Dirk."

"I'm not interested in women," said Dirk.

That was like him.  He drank liquor only -- secretly and alone.

"I was interested in Ynecita, Dirk  We used to talk together --"

"She talked to you?" repeated Dirk.

"Strange how she died!  No trace, no one arrested.  Yet she'd had her lovers.  Sometimes I think, Dirk, we'll find the beast who killed Ynecita."

Tain Dirk touched my wrist.  His blunt fingers were cold and clammy.  Incomprehensible that woman had loved his hands!  Yet they were artist's hands, and could mold and chisel.  Wet clay, his hands!

"What makes you say that, Hammer?"

I looked up at the stars.  "It was a beast who killed Ynecita, Dirk.  Some vile snake with blood as cold as this lemon ice.  Those marks of teeth on her upper arm!  Deep in, bringing blood!  What madman killed that girl?  Mad, I say!"

Dirk twisted.  He wiped his brown forehead, on which sweat glistened in little beads like scales.  "Too hot a night to talk about such things, Hammer.  Let's talk of something else.  Tell me about this Bimi Tal."

"You'll see her soon enough," I said, watching him.  "A girl of about your own age; you're not more than twenty-four, are you?"

"Born first of January, '99."

"And famous already!"

"Yes, said Tain Dirk.  "I guess you've heard of me."

"Oh.  I've heard lots of you," I said; and saw he didn't like it.

"You've heard I'm fast with wmen, eh?" asked Dirk, after a pause.

"But Ynecita --"

"Why do you talk of her? asked Dirk, irritably.  "I never knew her."

"Those marks of teeth on Ynecita's arm -- two sharp canines, sharp and hooked; barely scratching the skin -- like fangs of a snake, Dirk --"

Tain Dirk's hand crept to his lips, which were thin, red, and dry...The light in his eyes darkened frm yellow to purple.  Softly his blunt fingers began to drum his lips.  Tat!  Tat!  Tat!  But silent as a snake in grass.

"A curious thing about teeth, Dirk -- you're a sculptor; maybe you've observed it -- a curious thing that no two are quite alike.  We took prints, Dirk, of those marks on the arm of Ynecita --"

Dirk's thin lips opened.  His coursely-formed, but marvelously sensitive, fingers felt the hardness of his teeth.  That gesture was sly.  At once he knew I'd seen him.  He crouched back in his chair, his strong, broad head drawn in between his shoulders.

"Who are you?" he hissed.

Again the krilling of his fingertips -- a dusty drumming.

"Why, I'm only Jerry Hammer -- a wanderer and a soldier of bad fortune."

"Who are you!"

"Brother of Stella Hammer, who was known as Ynecita, the dancer."

Upon the Palm Grove Roof, beneath those gigantic stars the orchestra began to play.  A brass and cymbal tune.  The air was hot.  From far in the pit of streets rose up the noises of the city.  Loud!  Discord shot with flames.  I trembled.

Tain Dirk's fingers drummed.  His head commenced to sway.


Bimi Tal danced barefooted on the glazed umber tiles of the Roof.

Her dark red hair was free on her naked shoulders.  Stamp! stamp! stamp! her feet struck flatly on the tiles.  Her head was bent back almost to the level of her waist.  Bracelets jangled on her wrists and ankles.

"I am the daughter of the morning!  I shout, I dance, I laugh away...."

Shaking her clump of red hair; her strong muscled limbs weaving; laughing at me with all her eyes.  How like she looked to a man dead long years before!  How like her glances to the glances of Red Roane!  On her breasts two glimmering shields of spangles.  About her waist a kirtle seemingly woven of long strands of marsh grass, rustling, shivering with whispers.  The sinews of her trunk and limbs rippled beneath her clear brown skin.

The head of Tain Dirk swayed sideways, slowly.  The drumming of his finger on the table was a reiterative rattle.  His eyes -- liquid, subtle -- dulled with a look near to stupidity, then blazed to golden fire.  Thin and wide were his unsmiling lips.  His tongue flicked them.  Tat! tat! tat!

"She's a beauty!" whispered Dirk.

His terrible eyes seemed to call Bimi Tal as they had called other women.  Mesmerism -- what was it?  Singing, she pranced toward the den of potted palms where we were sitting.  Her skirt rustled like the marshes.  Wind of summer.

Little searchlights, playing colored lights on Bimi Tal, grew darker.  Red and violet deepened to brown and green.  Still the hot stars above us.  In that artificial paper Palm Grove, with the silky puffy women and the beefsteak-guzzling men, was born the mystery of the great savannahs.

Dirk's head nodding.  Dirk's thin lips slowly opening.  Dirk's golden eyes glimmering.  Tat! tat! tat!  Dirk's steady fingers.

The great savannahs and the tropic marshes.  Bimi Tal dancing.  Stealthily, the music softened frm that brass and cymbal tune.  It rustled.  It crawled. It reared fanged heads.

For a little while I did not see Bimi Tal nor Dirk, but the steamy Everglades.  Winter noon.  Grass leaves silvered by sea-wind; puddles stirring at the roots of the grasses.  Silence booming like the loud silence of death.

Bimi Tal was dancing her snake dance.  Dirk's lips quivered.

The marsh wind makes a little stir (it is the whispering flute).  The marsh waters make a little moan (it is the violin).


Where was the soul of Bimi Tal dwelling that tropical winter so many years ago?  On her mother;s breast, a little bud of love, crooned over with the song of sleep?   Or meshed in bleeding poinsettia or rose?  Or a soul yet unborn?

I close my eyes.  The vision does not fade.  Florida; the marshlands; winter noon.  January's first day, 1899.  Where was lovely Bimi Tal on that stifling day we saw the fanged thing coil, and death struck us there by Okechobee?

Your eyes, Bimi Tal, are the laughing eyes of Red Roane!...

Now the snake dance.  The piccolo screams.

Life immortal in your glistening lips, Bimi Tal; in your deep bosom promise of everlasting fecundity.  Passion and power of the earth!  Life is immortal.  Your laughing eyes, Bimi Tal, will never dull.  Yet I saw Red Roane die....

Beneath the shifting lights, Bimi Tal leaped and spun, scarcely treading the floor.  Her eyes sparkled at me.  She did not see Tain Dirk.  Stamp!  Stamp!  Stamp!  Her bare feet struck the tiles, tightening the muscles of her calves.  Her bangles rang.

I could not keep my eyes from Dirk.  His broad brown-and-golden head swayed continually.  His thin lips worked, and I caught the flash of his teeth.  His eyes drowsed, then flashed open with sudden flame.  Tat! tat! tat!  The rattling of his fingers was never still.

That swaying head!  It was loaded with the wisdom of the serpent that harkens to the wind, swaying with the marsh grass, winding its golden coils, curvng its neck to the sun -- Hark!  The rattle!

...Red is the sun.  Two men plow through the marshes.  O endless pain (the harsh viol quivers), a life struggles in the womb.  Who will die, and what will die, that this new life may be born?  Whimpering agony.   And an old crone singing a song....

All the people who sat within the Palm Grove were hushed, watching Bimi Tal.  Fat hands fanning powdered breasts; sillk handkerchiefs wiping ox necks; sweat beneath armpits.  Still heat.  Far away thunder.  The stars going by.

Music swelled.  Beneath its discord sunded a steady drumming rhythym.  The arms of Bimi Tal waved about her head.  She shouted for joy of life.

The pale eyes of Dirk, basking in mystery, gleamed into fire, blazed up with fury and hate undying!  His dry lips opened.  I saw his teeth.

...Through the breast-high grasses surge on the two marching men.  Their boot sough in the muck.  (Softly strums the bass viol.)  Something waiting in the marshes!  Something with golden eyes and swaying head.  Hark!  The rattle!  Beware, for death is in the path!...

Bimi Tal was close to Dirk, not seeing him.  She laughed and waved her jangling arms at me.  Dirk's eyes sparkled with madness, his lips were tightened terribly.  Bimi Tal was almost over him.  His fingers drummed.  Louder played the mussic.

...Hark!  The rattle!  Gaily the two men plow through the bladed grasses.  The coiled thing waits, hate within its eyes.  They are nearer --nearer!  (Drums begin to beat)....

In an avalanche of sound, crashed viol and violin, and stammering drum.  Dirk's drawn head lunged upward with his shoulders, his lips opened and lifted.

Venomous his look.  Deadly his intensity.


Strong and young, fresh from the Cuban wars, Red Roane and I went north from the keys to the Everglades of Florida.

Through the fens as in God's first day.  Through the reptile age, alive yet and crawling.  Through strangling vegetation, which steams and rots beneath eternal suns.  Through the everlasting Everglades, with their fern and frond and sorrowful, hoary cypress.  Red Roane and I went north.  Onward with laughter.  What joy lay in our hearts!  We sang many songs.

Fern and flower embracing in fecundity.  Grasses thick with sap.  Blossoms wilting at a touch.  Mire teeming with creeping life.  Above all, the gray sun.  Beneath all, the coiling serpent eyes and the open fangs.  Hark!  The rattle!

We sailed lagoons in crazy craft; dreamt on shady shores through sultry noons; shouted to the dead logs on river banks till they took fear, and dived and splashed away.  We pitched our tents by black waters.  We beat brave trails through the fens.

"I'd like to stay here forever," said Red Roane.

By what way I go, with what drinks I drink, in what bed I lie down, I remember you who got your prayer, Red Roane -- you who are in the swamp grass and swamp water forever.

Beating our way slow and heavily, at high noon, of the new year's first day of 1899, near Okechobee in the marshes, came we two on a hidden hut.  It was fashioned of the raff of the slough -- dead fronds, rotting branches, withered marsh grasses.  Its sad gray-green were in the living wilderness like a monument to death.  Better the naked swamp.  Better the clean quickmire for bed.

An old crone, moaning within that dreary hut, drowned out the sharp, short gasps of another woman.  Red Roane came up singing, slapping his deep chest, swinging his muscular arms.  Sunlight on his brown face, and sunlight in his red hair.  At the hut's door, facing us, lounged a man with yellow eyes.  Poor white trash.  A gun was in his arm's crook.  He spat tobacco juice at the earth.  There was loathing, murder venom in his face!

Red Roane faltered back from that stare.  He stopped short, and laughter left him.  His brave eyes were troubled by that madman's hate.  Yellw eyes staring -- eyes of a rattlesnake!

An old Indian crone peered out beneath the crooked elbow of the ruffian in the doorway, she who had been delorously singing.  With a scream, she thrust out her skinny old arm, pointing it at Red Rane.

"He dies!" she screamed.  "We want his soul!"

Another woman, hidden, moaning within the hut; a wman in her travail.  New life from the womb -- a life must die!  I grasped the arm of Red Roane.

"Come away!" I said, "Come away from these mad witches!"

In three steps that gray-green hovel was hidden in the cypresses.  But we could yet hear the old witch woman singing.  Something dragged at our heels, and it was not suction of the muck.

Toe to heel, Red Roane paced me, and we sang a song together.  A crimson flower, short-stemmed, yellow-hearted, was almost beneath my boot.  I stooped -- who will not stoop to pick a crimson wild flower?  A rattling, like the shaking of peas.  A klirring like the drumming of a man's fingertips.  Hark!  The rattle!

A yawning head flashed beneath my hand, striking too low.  Heavy as a hard-flung stone, the snake's head struck my ankle; yawning gullet, white-hooked fangs of the deadly rattlesnake.  Out of the crimson flower that beast of gold and brown.  It's yellow eyes flickered.  Its thin lips were dry.  How near I had touched to death!

"Thank God for those heavy boots, Jerry!"

With blazing eyes the snake writhed, coiling for another strike.  Its sharp tail, pointed upward, vibrated continually with dusty laughter.  Its golden rippling body was thick as my arm.

Red Roane swung down his heavy marching stock.  Crash!  Its leaden end struck that lunging mottled head.  Halted in mid-strike, that evil wisdom splattered like an egg, brain pan ripped wide.

The rattler lashed in its last agony, its tremendously muscular tail beating the grund with thumping blows, its yellow eyes still blazing with hate, but closing fast in doom.

I tried to say, "Thanks, Red!"

Some mesmerism in those yellow dying eyes!  Shaking with disgust, Red Roane bent over that foul fen watcher, put down his hand to pick up that stricken sin, over whose eyes thin eye-membrane already lowered in death.

"Don't touch it, Red!  Wait till the sun ges down."

Hark!  The rattle!  Those opaque eyes shuttered back.  Those yellow glances, though in mortal pain, were still furious and glistening.  Those horny tail-bells clattered.  Fangs in that shattered, insensate head yawned, closing in Red Rane's arm above the wrist.

I see him.  Sweat upon his broad brown forehead; his laughing eyes astounded; his thick strong bdy shivering; wind stirring up his dark red hair.  Beneath him the brown-green marshes, grasses rippling, a stir going through their depths.  His cheeks had never been so red.

Before I could move, he unlocked those jaws and hollow fangs, gripped hard in his arm with mortal rigor.  He shivered now from the knees.  His face went white.

"Cut!" he whispered.  "I'll sit down."

With hunting knife I slashed his arm, deep driving four crossed cuts.  He laughed and tried to shout.  Howling would have been more pleasant.  I sucked those wounds, out of which slow blood was spouting from an artery.  We panted now, both of us.  He leaned heavily n my shoulder -- he, the strong.  I bound his arm, my own fingers so numb I fumble at the work.  Sweat on Red Roane's face was cold, and cold his wrists.

My arms clung about him.  He swayed, almost toppling.  I piccked up his marching stock and beat that golden, gory thing within the mire.  Beat it till clay-white flesh, and bone and skin were one with the mucky mire of the swamp.  But still its heart ebbed with deep purple pulsing.  A smashing blow, and that, too, died.

"It's over!"  Grimly I flung the bloody stave into the swaying gress.

"Yes, Jerry," whispered Red Roane, "it's nearly over."

I could not believe it.  Red Roane, the strong man, the shouter, the singer, the gay-hearted lover!  Is death, then, so much stronger than life?

"A woman, Jerry," he whispered, "in Havana -- Delores!  She dances --"

"For God's sake, Red, wake up!"

"Dances at the --"

"Red!  Red Roane!  I'm here, boy!"

Out from the way, whence we had come, faintly I heard a cry.  Who wept thus for the soul departing, sang paean for the dead?  Was it the wind over the stagnant grasses?  Frail in the solitude, rose that wail again.  The whimper of new-born life!  In the squatter's hut the child had found its soul!

"Delores!" whispered Red Roane.  Beneath that brazen sky he whispered the name of love.  "Delores!"

Past a hundred miles of swamp, past a hundred miles of sea, did Delores, the dancer, hear him calling her?


I hope she heard, for he was a god lad, though wild.

With a throat strangling in sobs, I sang to Red Roane.  His eyes were closed, yet he heard me.  Old campaign songs, songs of the march and the bivouac.  Marchers' tunes.

Then he whispered for a lullaby, and , last of all, for a drinking song.


Bimi Tal had danced up to us --

Bimi Tal, daughter of Red Roane and of Delores, the dancer.

She laughed and tossed her dark red hair.  Her broad nostrils sucked in the hot night wind.

"I am the daughter of the mrning!

"I shout, I dance, I laugh away.

"Follow, lover!  Hear my warnings

"I, the laughter, do not stay...."

Stamp!  Stamp!  Stamp!  Her body rippled.  She cast her eyes at me.

Tain Dirk's head was rising.  His thin, dry, red lips opened wide.  His golden eyes burned with undying hate.  Tat! tat! tat! his fingers drummed.

"Im a minute, Jerry," whispered Bimi Tal, not pausing from her dance.

Her lovely eyes looked downward, seeing Dirk.  She screamed.  The music silenced.  She struck her arm at him, not knowing what she did.

Mad! the Man was mad!  His jaw was opened wide.  He bit her arm above the wrist.

Before the rush of frantic people had fallen over us, I struck his venmous face.  With both fists, blow on blow.  Blood came from his damned lips.

What madness had seized him I don't know.  Likely it was memory ssurging back thrugh dead life -- the venom of the rattler, hate undying.  But of that, who can say?  A strange thing is memory.

Yet I know for sure that to him, the mad sculptor, born in that hut in the hot savannahs, has passed the soul of the dying rattlesnake.

Hands dragged me back from him.  I shouted and tore.  He quivered, wounded heavily.  His nervous fingers faintly clattered on the table, drumming with dreadful music.  Police came in.

"Look!" I shouted to them.  "Look at those marks on Bimi Tal's wrist.  Two deep fangs.  There's the man who killed Ynecita, the dancer!"

-- Joel Townsley Rogers, from Weird Tales, March 1923

Saturday, October 29, 2022


 Rest in peace, Jerry Lee.


 First off, what a cover!  An army of Nazi humanoid frogs rising from the sewers to attack the White House, with only Captain Freedom to stop them!  It' too bad there wasn't a story in this issue to support the cover.  At least this issue is chock-full of American heroes giving it to those evil Nazis over and over again -- with 100-page comic books like this against them it's amazing the Germans held out as long as they did.

First off, Shock Gibson (who is really Robert Gibson, the millionaire who has "humanized" electricity, and now goes around in a neat lightning-themed costume and a small mask that does as much to hide his secret identity as Clark Kent's glasses do) enters "The Weird Whirlpool" to "tackle the Nazi bundits who were working a diabolical scheme to wreck the allies naval forces."  A a pecial attraction we have guest appearances from FDR and a certain carpet-eating, wallpaper-hanging madman with a mustache.

(Shock Gibson returns later in the issue with a two-page text story, "Shock Gibson Rides the Airways.")

Next, Captain Freedom (who is Don Wright, fearless publisher) and the Young Defenders (Lefty, Slim, Joanie, and a third boy whose name is never given) come acrros the Hermit of Strange Isle and a "gigantic murderous plot."  Yes, there are Nazis -- plenty o' them.  Yes, there are evil plans afoot.  And there is even graping, muderous Nazi seaweed!

Even the humorous fillers can't get very far from Nazis.  Art Helfant's Biff Bannon, U.S. Marine, uncovers a Nazi spy posing as an instructor at "Marine School."  The most interesting thing about this one is nobody -- including Helfant -- seems to know the difference between a globe and an atlas.

Art Gates gives us a story about Crash, Corky, and Baron -- The Three Aces.  Our heroes are somewhere south of the border and while Crash and Corky are lured away by a beautiful woman and an easily won poker game (respectively) Latino bandit head El Toro waylays the Bron and forces his to fly .his plane to Santa Peato where a band of...wait for it...Nazis (!!!) await to take possession of the aircraft.  The Nazis plan to use the Baron's plane to attack the defenses at the Panama Canal.  But, because they are Nazis, they naturally double-cross El Toro, who joins forces with the Baron, just a sexy Mexican firebrand joins forces with Crash and Corky -- all to defeat the Nazis.

Pat Parker, War Nurse (calf-length boots, super-tight short-shorts. midriff-baring, bazoom-squeezing halter top, and a white handerchief with a red cross logo worn in reverse to mask her identity), battles Nazi invaders in bomb-torn England.  Here she faces the insidious creator ot "The Silent Death,"  An especially virulent type of sleeping gas.  Of course he's a Nazi, but special lagniappe in this tale is that he had been thought dead and was buried by the British; he survived but his body -- well, we only get to see his head -- decayed.  Yucky!

Art Helfant returns with a two-page filler featuring "Bimbo's Beanery."  So no Nazis.  Not much humor either.

Speed Taylor of Clayton College, the famous freshman athlete, go in search of buried treasure.  Professor Brooks has discovered a valuable secret treasure map and now a gang of international theives have threatened to kill the professor and blow up the college is he does not turn it over to them.  Speed manages to find the treasure and defeat the crooks just in time to win the highly anticipated footnall game against Travard (and also winning the girl, red-headed Diane, Professor Brooks' daughter.)  No Nazis in this one, either.

Ted Parrish, Man of Faces, is is a famous Hollywood film star who uses his mastery of disguise to cope with "The Deert Rat."  While filming the movie Bleeding Sands, a hideous, Nosferatu-like character with green skin, claiming to the Desert Rat, King of the Rolling Sands, threatens the film's director -- leave, or the cast dies one by one.  Bad things begins to happen, only to be thrawted by Ted Parrish.  Finally, Parrish disguises himself as the director to allow himself to be kidnapped by the Desert Rat and his men.  Turns out it was all a plot to steal a gold mine. So, any Nazis in this fInal tale in the comic book?  Nope.  Nary a one.

And I sure miss the Nazi frog-beasts marching toward the cellars of the White House...

Check it out.

Thursday, October 27, 2022


The Quest of the Sacred Slipper by "Sax Rohmer" (Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward) (first book publication 1914; first published in eight parts in Novel Magazine, September 1913 (#102) to April 1914 (#109); also published in eight parts in Short Stories, November 1913 to June 1914 [with the first three parts titled Hasan of Aleppo -- The Quest of the Sacred Slipper and the remaing parts titled The Quest of the Sacred Slipper], and in eight weekly parts in The P. M., February 2, 1924 to March 22, 1924 under the title The Sacred Quest, and in eight weekly parts in Pearson's Weekly, August 28, 1926 to October 16, 1926)

Sax Rohmer, the creator of Dr. Fu Manchu and the best-selling author of many novels of mystery and horror, has always been (to me, at least) a hit-and-miss author.  Sadly, The Quest of the Sacred Slipper is a miss.

London reporter Cavanagh (does he have a first name?  Perhaps not.)  is headed back home from the Middle East on a cruise ship.  A porter carrying a box suddenly has his hand cut off with a sword.  No one saw who did it.  The box the porter carried belongs to Professor Deeping, a noted archaeologist; it contains a Moslem holy relic -- a slipper that had belonged to the prophet Mohammed.  The professor had stolen it from a shrine in Mecca with the intention of displaying it at a British museum.  (This should tell you everything you need to know about the British mindset of the time.)  A centuries-old religious order known as the Hashishin had been the protectors and guardians of the relic.  (The Hashishin got their start in Syria at the end of the first millenia and are skilled assassins [from whence the word came] who use hashish in their rituals.)  Because the slipper is sacred, any infidel who touches it (or the case it is in) suffers the traditional Islamic punishment of losting a hand (or, I suppose, if the Hashishin are in a bad mood, his life).  They are not targeting Professor Deeping yet because it would be too difficult to smuggle the relic off the ship and back to Mecca; better to wait until the professor (and the slipper) are in London where it would be easier to smuggle the slipper out of the country.

I believe it was Damon Knight who raled against the "idiot plot," that can be found in way too many novels.  Basically, nothing can happen to advance the story unless the protagonist is an idiot.  You have a whole lot of idiots in this book.

Cavanagh (remember him?) strikes uo a shipboard acquaintance with the professor.  Back in London, the professor summons Cavanagh, tells him about the slipper, gives him the keys to the box containing the slipper, and tells him to be sure the slipper goes to the museum if anything happens to him (the professor).  The professor has made out a legal document naming Cavanaugh the guardian of slipper.

Say what?

Remember what I said about the idiot plot.

Anyway, the professor expects the hashishin (and their fanatical leader, Hasan of Aleppo) to try to murder him, and, by golly!, they do.  In a locked room, no less.  Not only do they kill the professor but they try to break into the locked box but they can't.  Because, just because.  and Cavanagh has the keys.

Enter Detective-Inspector Bristow of New Scotland Yard, who (for no obvious reason)  enlists Cvanagh as his assistant in the investigation.  The two spend most of the rest of the book rescuing each other as they are knocked out, drugged, gassed, what have you.

Ant then there is a mysterious beautiful woman with violet eyes.  What can she have to do with the affair?  (We later learn that America's "top" thief has his eyes on the slipper also and the mysterious woman is close to him.  Is she his girlfriend?  wife?  partner?  protege?  We never learn.)

Denning, whom Cavanagh met only during the voyage to England, is describd everal times as Cavanagh's "good friend," as if they were life-long besties.

Anyway, people are being murdered and knocked out all over the place and hands are being lopped off at a steady pace.  Hasan of Aleppo threatens Cavanagh and also wheedles with him to turn the slipper over to him.  Deformed midgets are running all over London doing Hasan's biding and murdering people or knocking them out.  One falls from the sky with a bullet in his brain -- another impossible killing.

From the author we hear that Islam was once a religion on the rise but now is fading rapidly.  Somewhere along the line we come across a Muslim with slanted eyes and yellow skin, as if Rohmer was confusing his oriental villains.

The prose is purple.  The writing racist.  And despite doing their best to keep the slipper from its rightful owners, Cavanagh and Deeping frequently state that the slipper belongs back in Mecca and that they have no right to try to keep in London.  At one point the writing goes from a first person narration to a third person narration for an entire chapter; the next chapter we're back in the first person and then halfway through the chapter we go back to the third before finally going back to the first for the rest of the chapter and ther rest of the book.  For the most part the chapters are short; occasionally they are disjointed.  The writing is unfocused and appears hastily written.


The pacing is fast.  The lurid writing is exciting enough.  


The action is repetitive.  This is a book that you really have to be in the mood for to enjoy.

And it ends abruptly with a whimper, not a bang.

I have read many reviews that have highly praised the novel, so maybe it's me.

Or maybe those reviewers have been fed a bit too much hashish.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022


 The classic mystery/horror story, "The Hands of Mr. Ottermole"  by Thomas Burke, as presented on the Suspense radio show on December 2, 1948.  Burke's original story was first published in 1929 and has been reprinted numerous times; in 1949 critics voted the story "the best mystery of all time."

Claude Raines and Vincent Price star, ably supported by Verna Felton and Raymond E. Lawrence.  Paul Frees serves as the annuncer.  The episode was produced and directed by Anton M. Leader; the script was written by pulp and mystery author Ken Crossen.

 Perfect for Halloween week, I hope you enjoy this episode.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022


 The Hammer Horror Film Omnibus by John Burke  (London:  Pan Book, 1966)

With Halloween less than a week away, it's time to turn some classic horror stories, courtesy of England's Hammer Film Corporation.  Four of the famous Hammer films have been adapted for this book.  Although the cover of the proclims them as "novels," in reality they are actually short stories or, at most novelettes, which means I feel it safe to include them in this Short Story Wednesday post.

"The Gorgon" takes place early in the Nineteenth century in a small village in Bavaria.  Recently there had been a number of strange deaths in and around the village.  The conditions of the bodies have been kept a secret because all of the victims had been turned to stone.  Local superstition pointed to the ruins of the centuries-old Castle Borski which looked down upon the village and of a Gorgon -- a beast in the form of a woman with snakes for hair -- who had the power to assumed the shape of a normal woman when not yeilding her terrible power.  New to the village was Bruno Heitz, a young artist who had gained the attentions of the local innkeeper's lusty daughter, Sasha.  Sasha tells Bruno that she is pregnant and the jubulant Bruno rushed off into the night to confront her father who must now at last give his permission for Bruno to marry Sasha.  Sasha rushes after Bruno but gets lost in the darkness and confronts the gorgon.  Sasha turn to stone and is found the next morning; a little ways off is Bruno, dead, hanging from a tree.  Bruno's father, Professor Jules Heitz, arrives to find out what had happened to his son.  The professor is met with resistance, vague answers, and a refusal to let him view the body.  Determined to get answers, the professor writes to his surviving son, asking him to join him, and then goes to Castle Borski where he, too, is turned to stone.  Paul Heitz arrives at the village to find that his father, too, had died.  Paul also meets with resistance from lovl officials and from the town's Dr, Nmaroff, the head of the Vandorf Medical Institution.  Paul also meets (and falls in love with) the beautiful Carla Hoffman, Namaroff's nurse.  A few years before, Carla had suffered from bouts of amnesia which had been cured by Namaroff.  Carla now feels compelled to stay with Namaroff.  Is it because he cured her, or is it because she still needs his cure.  Could the bouts of amnesia been recurring?  And, if so, what was Carla doing during the times she had no memory?

"The Curse of Frankenstein" has Victor Frankenstein attempting to animate life.  His assistant in this process is Paul Krempe, originally hired to serve as young Victor's tutor.  From childhood, Frankenstein had been betrothed to his cousin Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth's mother died, Frankenstein had her brought to his estate to run the household she would one day be mistress of.  Speaking of mistresses, Victor had been having an affair with the young maid Justine, who read more into the arrangement than waas there, fully expecting one day to marry Victor.  Victor and Paul meanwhile had been assembling body parts, while Paul slowly realized that what they were attempting was wrong.  Victor invites Professor Bernstein, Europe's greatest living physicist, to is estate and kills him, making it seem like an accident.  Frankenstein's creation must have an extraordinary brain, you see.  Paul rebels and leaves the estate but stays in the village hoping to protect Elizabeth, who refuses to leave Victor.  The creature is animated although restrained because its condition was delicate and time was needed for the creature to heal properly.  The creature healed fater than expected and tore loose of its bonds while Victor was out of the laboratory.  Justine informed Victor that she is pregnant and tht he must marry her.  Victor laughs at this and locks her in the laboratory with the creature, who kills her.  Paul kills the creature and, duty done, leaves the village.  But, fie on you, Paul -- Victor reanimates the corpse.  Locals are becoming suspicious.   Victor destroys the creature.  Authorities discover the body of Justine and arrest Victor.  Vicotr's rambligs that a creature had killed the maid go unheeded because there is no creature to be seen, andVictor is condemned to death.

"The Revenge of Frankenstein" takes up immediatelt after the previous story.  Victormis about to hanged the next day.  He has entered into a bargain with Werner, the mishappened dwarf who was his guard.  If Werner could somehow find a way for Frankenstein to escape the gallows (in the film, kit was the guillotine), Frankenstein would create a new body for Werner -- one strong, healthy, and not deformed.  Werner came through and the priest who accompanied Frankenstein to the gallows wwas hanged instead.  No longer ale to be Baron Frankenstein, Victor relocated himself in Carlsbruck as Dr. Stein.  As Stein, Victor slowly  amassed a reputation and eough money to continue his researches.  He volunteered at the Workhouse Hospital, giving him access to the body parts he needed, even if he had to amputte them from his patients.  Victor gave short shrift to the local medical establishment, gaining him a number of enmeies among them.  One who was not an enemy, though, was Hans Kleve, a young doctor who had recognized Victor as the infamous Baron Frankenstein.  Kleve was eager to work with Frankenstein and to learn from him.  After several years of preparation, Werner's new body was ready for him and the brain was removed from the dwarf and placed into a healthy body.  Again, it takes a while for the reanimated body to heal and to adjust to its new environment; during that time it had be restrained.  A young, kind-hearted volunteer at the hospital came across the bound patient and, out of pity, loosened the restraints.  Werner frees himself much too early and goes to Victor's lab and destroys his old body.   He then vanishes.  One problem that Victor had had in the past with the animals that he worked on was that the reanimated beasts reverted to cannibalism.  Victor felt, given time, he could eliminate that defect in Werner, but victor no longer had that time.  Wernor's brain is beginning to force his new body to revert, to take on the mishappened appearnce of his old body.  Werner kills a local girl, then bursts on a social gathering Victor was attending and begged him, "Frankenstein, help me!" before dying.  Frankenstein and Hans destroy Werner's new body, but the fact that the creature had called him Frankenstein has started the rumor mill going.  Autorities dig up what was supposed to be Frankenstein's grave and discover the body of the priest.  They go to arrest him.  Meanwhile the patients at the Workhouse Hospital realize what Frankenstein had been doing to them and attack him, mortally wounding him.  Baron Frankenstein is now dead and uried.  But Hans disinters him and reanimates him.  Now in England and in a new, unrecognizable body, Frankenstein is free once again to perform his evil experiments.

"The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb" opens with the Kng Expedition to Egypt to open the tomb of Egyptian king Ra Antef with its many fabulous treaures.  But we all know that Egyptian tombs are cursed.  One of the expedition's two leaders, Pierre Dubois is vicously killed, his hand severed.  The other leader, Sir Giles Dalrymple, along with Dubois' daughter Annette and Dalrymple's assistant John Bray, decide to close up shop and remove all treasures and the sarcophagus of Ra Antef to Cairo, where the Cairo Museum has made a generous offer for the entire trove.  Dalrymple feels that the tomb's contents belong in Egypt and urges the expedition's financier, Alexander King, to accept the offer.  King (a typical crass American) feels that much more money can be made by putting it up on exhibit, travelling across the world, charging a mere dime to view the mummy of the king; his overall profits should equal at least ten times what the Cairo Museum has offered.   Dalrymple is shocked and disgusted at King's decision and resigns, but urges John Bray and Annette to stay on with King in the hope that they may be able to blunt some of the American's instincts and preserve some dignity for the long-dead king.   As the party sails to England where King plans to first display the mummy and the wealth of the tomb, an aristocratic stranger named Adam Beacham ingratiates himself to Annette and Bray and ends up helping them with the exhibit.  A millenia-old talisman that Annette's father had given her the day before he was murdered goes missing,  At the opening of the exhibit, Ra Antef's sarcophagus is opened -- it is empty; the mummy is missing.  And then the killings begin in earnest...

All four stories are quickly told and follow the pacing of the films.  There's not much room for detail or nuance here.  Taken for what they are, the stories are effective in portraaying the charm (is that the word I want?) of the original films.  The Hammer Studio horror movies may be looked dow upon by film critics for their by-the-books storytelling and melodramatic flare, but as I get older I find myself appreciating the the films more and more.  Great art it may not be, but it sure is pretty neat story-telling.  And transferred to the written page, what more can you ask for for a Halloween season's reading?

 It may be difficult to find a copy of this book.  The British paperback was reprinted only once by Pan, in 1973.  There were no other English language editions, although a Dutch translation appeared in a trade paper edition in 1983.  No copies are currently available on abebooks or eBay.

Burke followed this one with The Second Hammer Horror Film Omnibus in 1967.  That volume included adaptations of The Reptile, Dracula -- Prince of Darkness, Rasputin -- The Mad Monk, and The Plague of the Zombies.  An earlier Pan paperback was Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), which incorporated five stories within the framing device of that film.

John Burke (1922-2011) was a prolific British writer in  many genres, including at least four dozen adaptations of films and television shows (among them The Entertainer, Look Back in Anger, The Magnificent Air Race -- from the film Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Dad's Army, and A Hard Day's Night -- the last was almost never published because Clarence Paget, the Diretor of Pan Books, felt that the Beatles were just a passing fad; Burke and members of the Pan staff lobbied for the book, which eventully sold 1.25 million copies).

A brief look through the internet fails to find a complete bibliography for Burke, but he published well over 125 books under his own name and as Jonathan Burke, J. F. Burke, Sara Morris, Jonathan George (a joint pseudonymn with George Theiner), Owen Burke, Martin Sands, Robert Miall, Harriet Esmond (a joint pseudonym with his wife, Jean Burke), Joanna Jones, Russ Ames, and Roger Rougiere.  Burke's first novel, Swift Summer (1949) won the Atlantic Award for Literature.  His suspense novels and science fiction stories, many written early in his career, proved to be very popular.  From 1963 to 1965 he served as London story editor for 20th Century Fox.  He became a full-time writer in 1966.  Four of his later novels features psychic investigator and occult detective Dr. Alex Caspian; the careful reearch that went into these, as well as the "Harriet Esmond" suspense novels is evident.  Burke's non-fiction works include at least fifteen books on British travel and history.  Burke has also translated novels from the Danish and has written for the screen, television, and radio.  In 1985, Burke reached the semi-finals in the long-runnng British quiz show Mastermind; his wife Jean also reched the semi-finals two years later.

For your perusing pleasure, here are the original trailers for the four films adapted in The Hammer Horror Film Omnibus; all should be available to watch in full on YouTube:

The Gorgon (1964), with Petter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Richard Pasco

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) with Peter Cushing, Chrisstopher Lee, Hazel Court, and Robert Urguehart

The Revenge of Frankentein (1958) with Peter Cushing, Francis Matthews, and Eunice Gayson

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964) with Terence Morgan, Ronald howard, and Fred Clark

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2022


 For 156 episodes over four seasons from October 3, 1955 to September 1, 1959, Broderick Crawford played gruff Dan Matthew, the head of the Highway Patrol in an unnamed western state.  In this episode a cafe owner's grudge against motorcyclists leads to the accidental death of a motorcycle officer.

Featuring Jack Edwards. Paula Houston, a young Clint Eastwood, John Compton, Jay Douglas, Steve Masino, and Sandy Sanders.  Artyt Gilmore provided the narration.  Directed by Lambert Hillyer from a script by Don Brinkley.  Theme music for the show was composed by David Rose.

Crawford, who won an Academy Award for his role as Willie Stark in All the King' Men (1949), always a compelling actor, was underserved in early supporting roles because he did not fit the handsme leading man image that Hollywood demanded.  For my money, it's hard to go wrong with a Crawford performance.

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did.

Sunday, October 23, 2022


 Openers:   Kris sat in the basement, hunched over her guitar, trying to play the beginning of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man."  Her mom had signed her up for guitar lessons with a guy her day knew at the plant, but after six weeks of playing "Twinkle Twinkle Littl Star" on a JC Penney acoustic, Kris wanted to scream.  So she hid in the park when she was supposed to be at Mr. McNutt's, pocketed the $50 fee for the two lessons she skipped, combined it with all her savings. and bought a scratch-to-hell Fender Musicmaster and a busted-up Radio Shack amp from Goldie Pawn for $160.  Then she told her mom that McNutt had tried to watch her pee, so now instead of going to lessons Kris huddled in the freezing cold basement, failing to play power chords.

Her wrists were bony and weak.  The E, B, and G strings sliced her fingers open.  The Musicmaster bruised her ribs where she leaned over it.  She strapped a claw around the guitar's neck and pressed her sore index finger on G, raked her pick down the strings, and suddenly the same sound came out of her amp that had come out of Tony Iommi's amp.  The same chord 100,000 people heard in Philly was right there in the basement with her.

-- We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix  (2018)

Kris Pulaski lived for metal because metal never, retreats, metal never surrenders, metal never dies.  Sshe would never be a great player, but that didn't matter.  She could be a player.  And she could make music.  It was the music tht mattered.   Gathering together other metal heads, she formed a  band, Durt Wurk.  Firsst they played for themselves, then for small gigs wherever they could.  As medium-sized fish in a small pond, known only locally, they released a couple of albums and were working on the third, Troglodyte.  Although poorly recorded, that album had a raw power, perhaps coming from the mythology that Kris had created when she wrote it.  Durt Wurk's lead singer Terry Hunt then deliberately sabotaged their one chance for the big-time when they signed to open for a name group.  Terry walked off the stage and Durt Wurks was fired.

Durt Wurk's manager, Rob, had planned the whole thing.  He and Terry had signed with a major label in a lucrative deal.  They offered a token payment    To the other band members for all rights to their music.  In addition, they could perfrom with Terry but only as employees, able to be fired at any minute.  Plus, they must promise never to perform any of their old songs anywhere.  Terry and Ron got three of the band members drunk.  Kris, while she also drank, was too mad to do much of anything and tormed out.  She returned later that night to find her bandmates passed out, having signed the contracts that Rob had pushed on them.  Rob and Terry were gone.  She roused her friends, got them into a car and began to speed after Rob and Terry.  Then came the accident that totaled the car and put one of her friends in a wheelchair for life.  That was the end of Durt Wurk and that was the end of Jris's music career.

But that was not the end of Terry Hunt's career.  He went on to become music's biggest star.  And over the following twenty years while Kris's life was in a shambles, Terry kept soaring to new heights of fame and power.  Now Terry was staging his "Farewell Tour" -- three cities, five dates, pay-per-view cable hooked up to arenas all over the country.  Terry had taken everythibg from Kris and now it seems with the large nation-wide billboards proclaiming his tour and displaying his face, that Terry was just rubbing it in.  But Kris is metal and metal never retreats, metal naver surrenders, metal never dies!  And metal can carry a grudge.

Death and terror follow Terry as she travels across a paranoid-infused country for her final showdown with her enemy.  With the entire nation out for her blood, Terry finally remembers the horrifying events of that fatal night as it truly happened, not as it had been implanted in her memory.  The fate of millions -- and perhaps th world -- rests on Kris's showdown with Terry, the Blind King.

Grady Hendrix is on a roll.  His best-selling novel Horrorstor (2014) -- which answers the question we hve all asked ourselves, "What happens when an IKEA store turns evil? -- has been optioned for a television series from FOX and for a film.  His second novel, My Best Friend's Exocism (2016).  His Stoker award-winning non-fiction paean to papeback horror novels, Paperbacks from Hell:  The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction (2017) has been incorporated into an ongoing series of reissued novels from Valancourt Press.  His third novel (discussed above) was a new look at the deal with the devil trope and has garnered positive reviews.  The Sputhern Book Club's Guide to Slaying vampires (2020) has been optioned for television as has Hendrix's next book, The Final Girl support Group (2021).  In addition, Henrix has published several novellas, Occupy Space (2012; reissued as Badasstronaut, 2022) and Satan Loves You (2012).  He has also pubished a graphic novel cookbokk and Li'l Wimmin, a graphic novel take on the classic Louisa May Alcott novel.  A short story collection, Dead Leprechauns & Devil Cats, came out in 2020.  His book on Kung Fu movies, These Fists Break Bricks, was published last year.  His latest book, How to Sell a Haunted House, will be released early in 2023.

For those interested in fresh takes on classic horror memes, Grady Hendrix is a must-read.


  • Raymond Mungo, Tropical Detective Story.  A novel, at least that's what it claims to be.  "This tropical detective story is nothing more of less than the sstory of my own life, how I committed the crime, then became my own detective, where I found the clues, and how I finally caught myself and sentenced myself to death.  Now I know who I am.  I'm a has-been.  I'm dead.  Some proud impersonator stalks mountains, claiming to be me.  Don't believe it. Asleep at home, asleep at church, I dreamed an elaborate and perfect dream, of peace and ease on the mother planet.  Peach trees bloomed, the wind was high, the moon appeared behind the graveyard.  But in my pastoral village hearts swelled at possiblities, the smallest promise of paradise, perfect love!  As the warmth and security of the idyllic communities grew, fears fell down.  I reached out for it. I took the greatest leap of faith and lunged for paradise, the real fulfillment of my life's purpose in the cosmic scheme.  I challenged God.  I fell in love.  It didn't work.  I woke up.  I found out.  And when I woke up I was on the moon..."  (And the inside cover blurb goe on and on.  Yadda yadda yadda.)  Raymond Mungo is probably best known for his counter-culture classics Famous Long Ago and Total Loss Farm.  Total disclosure:  I knew Mungo briefly during my college days.  I didn't care for him.  To me he was smarmy and totally in love with his own intellect.  I had been wrong about many, many things back in those days and I sincerely hope that I was wrong in my judgement of him.  Also, his younger brother Dickie played guitr as my wedding as a personal favor to Kitty.  Kitty told me that Dickie (who I did not know but Kitty said he was a nice guy) totally hero-worshiped his older brother.  So there's that.  For fifty cents at a thrift store, I thought I'd give this book a try.
  • Terry Pratchett, The Bromeliad.  Omnibus collection of three fantasy novels, Truckers, Diggers, and Wings.  "I.  There was the Site.  II.  And Arnold Bros (est. 1905) Moved upon the face of the site, and Saw that it had Potential.  III.  For it was On High Street.  IV.  Yea, it was also Handy for the Buses.  V.  And Arnold Bros. (est. 1905) said, Let there be a Store such as the World has not Seen hitherto...  Nomes are four-inch-high people who inhabit the corners of our world.  Like most tiny creature, they live at a faster pace than we large folk do; ten years is ancient in their eyes.  For as long as anyone can remember, nomes have been living comfortably in the recesses of the Store -- Arnold's department store in London.  Then the young hunter Masklin and his small band arrive, thoroughly upsetting the status quo -- speaking of the 'Outside' and carrying a mysterious black box which, they claim, will guide them all home.  The other nomes scoff.  Outside?  Nonsense.  Grass and Sky and Sun, and Rain?  They're just crazy legends.  But when the devasting news arrives that the Store is to be demolished, the nomes turn to Masklin to lead their escape.  And an epic journey through the huge and perilous Ouside begins -- a journey that will ultimately reveal not only the secrets of the human world, but the real purpose of the black box, the surprising facts about the nomes' remarkable past, and the truth about their astonishing destiny."
  • Warren Murphy, Scorpion's Dance.  Political thriller.  "Special Agent Mark Donovan had watched the politicians let Abu Beka and his 'Army of God' terrorize the West for too long.  The self-styled 'holy warriors' struck when and where they wanted, taking hostages and killing with an almost mystical frenzy of hatred.  Negotiations were pointless and attacks on their scattered strongholds only wasted time.  Donovan knew the only way to crush the fanatics was to beat them at their own deadly game:  to fight fire with fire until the smoke cleared in peace.  Russia and the United States had no other recourse and joined forces in the greatest test of glasnost yet.  Donovan and his Soviet counterpart, Anton Petrov, were given only one directive:  stop Abu Beka.  It was only the first step in what would be a lethal Scorpion's Dance."

This Incoming Deserves Its Own Space; or, Why Jerry Is Apt to Rant More and More in His Dotage:
  • Benjamin Wiker, Ph.D., 10 Books That Screwed Up the World (And 5 Others That Didn't Help).  Opinion, upon which I call bullshit.  "You've heard of the 'Great Books'?  These are their evil opposites.  From Machiavelli's The Prince to Karl Marx's The Communist Manifesto to Alfred Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, these 'influencial' books have led to war, genocide, totalitarian oppression, family breakdown, and disasterous social experiments.  And yet these authors' bad ideas are still popular and persuasive -- in fact they might influence your own thinking without realizing it.  Here with the antidote is Professor Benjamin Wiker.  In his scintillating new book, 10 Books That Screwed Up the World (and 5 Others That Didn't Help), he seizes each of these evil books by its malignant heart and exposes it to the light of day.  In this witty, learned, and provocative expose, you'll learn:  - Why Machiavelli's The Prince was the inspiration for a long list of tyrannies (Stalin had it on his nightstand)   - How Descartes' Discourse on Method 'proved' God's existence onlly by making Him a creation of our own ego   - How Hobbes's Leviathan led to the belief that we have a 'right' to whatever we want   - Why Marx and Engles' Communist Manifesto could win the award for the most malicious book ever written   - How Darwin's The Descent of Man proves he intended 'survival of the fittest' to be applied to human society   - How Nietzche's Beyond Good and Evil issued a call for the world to be ruled solely by the 'will to power'   - How Hitler's Mein Kampf was a kind of 'spiritual Darwinism' that accounts for his genocidal anti-Semitism   -How the pansexual paradise described in Margaret Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa turned out to be a creation of her own sexual confusions and aspirations   - Why Alfred Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human Male was simply autobiograaphy masquerading as science   Witty, shocking, and instructive, 10 Books That Screwed Up the World offers a quick education in the worst ideas in human history -- and how we can avoid them in the future."  Phew.  There's a lot to unpack here.  The other books that supposedly have done humanity dirt are Rousseau's Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men, John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism, Lenin's The State and the Revolution, Margaret Sanger's The Pivot of Civilization, Freud's The Future of an Illusion, and Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique.  It's no surprise that the book's thesis has a strong conservative, pro-religious (er, the right kind of religion, that is) bent.  The aauthor is a noted Roman Cathlic ethicist and professor of political science and Human Life (note the capitals) studies at Franciscan University of Steubenville and the author of such books as 10 Books That Every Consevative Must Read :  Plus Four Not to Miss and One Imposter, The Darwin Myth:  The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin, Moral Darwinism:  How We Became HedonistsArchitects of the Culture of Death, and Worshipping the State:  How Liberalism Became Our State Religion, among others.  The book was published by Regnery Publishing, Inc. -- an uber-Consevative political and religious publisher.  It was a main selection of the Consevative Book Club.  (I had no idea there was a Conservative Book Club; I can only imagine that its monthly offerings usually include a burned copy of a children's book that dares to mention gender.)  Anyway, the book consists of cherry-picking, extreme generalizations, rigid thinking that brooks no opposition, a not-so subtle subjugation of women, conclusions not based on fact, a lack of historical awareness, and a holier-than-thou attitude that just makes me want to smack someone on the face.  In the face of this, I am happy to note tht one copyright holder -- The Kinsey Institute for Reseach in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction -- flat out refused to llow Wiker to quot anything from Knsey's book.  The author says that the Institute does not want itss namesake to be judged by his own words, which is a typical weasel way to put it.  More likely, the Institute did not want to have the words cherry-picked and distorted to suit the author's purpose.  The book was published in 2008 and would probably do well today if marketed as red meat for the MAGA crowd.

Sad News:   Word has come down that the Liz Truss School of Economics is closing down.  The revered institute, located in the bucolic English village of Trickle Down-on-Bullskat, had never fully achieved its purpose of promoting economic theories that ran counter to reality.  Indeed, its graduates tended to become politicians and pundits rather than bonafide economists.  A last-minute attempt to save the ivied halls of LTSOE by changing the school song from 'The Impossible Dream" to "You Can't Always Get What You Want" was deemed "just too little, too late."

But then, there'ss\ this:

Also, to test her durability a Prime Minister, a Britissh newspaper livestreamed a head of lettuce to see which would last longer, the lettuce or Truss as Prime Minister.  The lettuce won.

Big Mama:  Legendary blues singer Willa Mae "Big Mama" Thornton (1926-1984)was honored Saturday in ther hometown of Ariton, Alabama, with a renaming of a treet to Big Mama Thornton Circle.during which her career wa highlighted and a meet and greet was then held at the Ariton Baptist Church.  Also on Saturday the street where traditional blue artist J. W. Warren (1921-2003) lived was renamed J. W. Warren Alley.

The songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were amazed when they first heard Thornton sing.  It took them about fifteen minutes to write her biggest hit, "Hound Dog," specifically for her.  "Hound Dog" was the first record that Leiber and Stoller produced.  (The song also did wonders for a young man from Tupelo who covered later three years later.)

She was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1984.  One of the songs she wrote, "Ball 'n' Chain," a later hit for Janis Joplin, was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll."

She died at age 57 of heart and liver disorders due to long years of alcohol abuse.  She had lost 355 pounds during the illness, going from a weight of 450 to 95 pounds.

 Acoustic guitar bluesman J. W. Warren was born in Enterprise, Alabama, but spent his youth sharecropping with his family in Ariton.  Extreme poverty, the conditions of the Jim Crow South, and the Depression took its toll:  his schooling was minimal and he was barely able to read and write.  As a teenager be began playing in local juke joints and at barbecues.  A veteran of World War II, he spent fourteen years in the military, returning afterward to Ariton.  He briefly dated Big Mama Thornton when they were young.  (Thornton later came out as a lesbian.)  As an exemplar of the acoustic country blues style, "Warren played two or three guitar parts, simultaneously picking out bass lines, rhythm, melody, and harmony.  He used a variety of guitar tunings and was a stunning slide player, using an old jackknife for a slide."

Here's a taste of Big Mama:

"Hound Dog"

"Ball N' Chain"

"Rock Me Baby"

"Nobody Knows You When You're Down: (with Aretha Franklin)

"Little Red Rooster"

"Big Mama's Bumble Bee" (with the Muddy Watrs Blues Band)


"I Smell a Rat"

And here's a little bit of J. W. Warren:

"You Gonna Miss When I'm Gone"

"Rabbit on a Log"

"Have You Seen Corinna?"

"Hoboing Into Hollywood"

"Careless Love"

"Sundown Blues"

Diwali:  Today is Diwali, the "Festival of Lights," one of the most important festivals within Hinduism.  Diwali actually runs for five (and, in some areas) six days, but today is the day of Lakshmi Puja, the main festival day of Diwali and is an official holiday in India, as well as Fiji, Guyana, Malaysia, Muritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suiname, and Trinidad and Tobago.  It symbolizes the "spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance."

From Wikipedia:  "During Diwali, people wear their finest clothes, illuminate the interior and exterior of their homes with diyas [oil lamps made from clay or mud] and rangoli [an elaborate and colorful art form created on a floor or tabletop; the word roughly means "rows of colors"], perform worship ceremonies of Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, light fireworks, and partake in family feasts, where mithal (sweet) and gifts are shared.  Originally a Hindu festival, Diwali has transcended religious lines and is also celebrated by Jains and Sikhs.  It is a major cultural event for the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain diaspora."

I can go along with anything that celebrates good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.

For a taste of Diwali, try these sweets:  Sitaphel Barfi, Pista Barfi, and Karela Pak.  Recipes courtesy of Chef Swapnadeep Mukherjee, Executive Chef, Metropolitan Hotel and Spa.    NOTE:  A lot of these ingredients may not be found in the typical American kitchen, but the sweets will be worthwhile for those of you who are patient and determined.

Take Back Your Time:  Today is also Take Back Your Time Day, created to bring attention to the epidemic of overwork in America.  This is a day to mindfully take back your time, celebrate relationships, promote work-life balance, and restore balance in our communities.


Florida Man:
  • 49-year-old Florida Man Jacob Spinoza of Spring Hill has been arrested for possession of 1.2 pounds of fentanyl -- enough to kill 200,000 people.   In a search of Spinoza's home, Hernando County Sheriff deputies also found roughly 2.5 grams of methamphetamine, 34 suboxane strips, approximately 130.9 grams of marijuana, three guns, and over $2000.  Needless to say, police suspect Spinoza of being a narcotics dealer.
  • Florida Man and Daytona Beach store owner Eddie Kastul is being lauded for the inventive way he successfully waterproofed his store, Midwest Motorcycle Sales & Rentals, from hurricane Ian.  Kastrul covered his store with spray foam and Flex Seal.  Kastul did not know if his idea would work but after the storm, he found the store completely dry inside.  Katul posted video of his store on Facebook and Tik Toker Cori Bosco re-posted the video to her account where it has been viewed over a million times.  Bosco herself had tried the standard methods of protecting her home from the hurricane by attaching panels to her windows and doors but that didn't work.  Hopefully, Kastrul unique method may help save other homes and busnesses when the next big hurricane hits.
  • Florida Grandfather David Towner, 62, of Port Orange, forgot something when he returned a rental car at the Hertz car rental at Daytona Beach international Airport -- his one-year-old granddaughter who was found by Hertz employees some 45 minutes after the car was returned.  The rental vehicle was locked and parked in an unshaded area.  The toddler was warm and her face was streaked with tears but she was breathing normally.  Paramedics at the scene determined that she was not harmed.  The girl's mother said that Towner had originally told her that he had left the girl at his home while he returned the car.  Towner was arrestd on one count of child neglect.
  • Remember the handful of former felons that Florida Man Ron "Just Put Me in Front of the Cameras" DeSantis had arrested for voter fraud earlier this year?  It turns out that most, if not all, were told that they could vote by various state and election officials; none, it seems, had any intention of committing fraud.  Voters in Florida passed an election measure that would restore voting rights to felon,, but the Repubican-led state legislature stepped in and passed a few caveats.  Felons had to meet certain requirements, but the requirements were nebulous and difficult to pin down.  One, for instance, required felons to pay back any money they owed the state.  Most were not aware nor were they told they owed any money and the state record keeping was so diffuse and erratic it was impossible to tell in many cases who owed money for what.  Evidently there was also some required paperwork that many felons and state employees were never told of.  Many of the officers who were sent to arrest these people had no idea why they were told to arrest them; several said they had never heard of such a charge; some officers seemed to apologize to the ones being arrested.   The law that caught these evildoers states clearly that the crime was in "knowingly" voting falsely, which these poor souls did not.  As more and more videos and stories about this "crime wave" become public, more and more people are questioning DeSantis's motives.   Should they?  I mean, here's a guy using Florida taxpayer money to bus supposedly illegal immigrants from Texas to Democratic-run cities in the North, opening himself up to possible charges of coercion, false imprisonment, fraud, and kidnapping -- all for the promotional glory.  And a guy who is firmly opposed to relxed mail-in voting laws but, because of Hurrican Ian, has eased voting restrictions for three counties that tend strongly Republican while refusing to do the same for Democratic counties that were hit much harder and suffered greter losses.  Certainly, reasonable people cannot call Florida's governor self-serving, can they?  Or can they?

Good News:
  •  The first wild bison in 6000 years has been born in the UK
  • Amazing 4th century mosiac depictng the Trojan War unearthed in war-torn Syria
  • Watch a sea lion hug a snorkling teenager
  • Dog ha collected over 600 lot golf balls at golf course; they are now being donated to charity
  • Hero honeymooners ressscue sleeping babies from nursery fire in Spain
  • Boy uses birthday money to start a food bank in his garden shed
  • Texas trucker named "Highway Angel" for stopping to rescue trooper pinned beneath his car

Today's Poem:
Stay Home

I will wait here in the fields
to see how well the rain
brings on the gress.
In the labor of the fields
longer than a man's life
I am at home.  Don't come with me.
You stay home too.

I will be standing in the woods
where the old trees
move only with the wind
and then with gravity.
In the stillness of the trees
I am at home.  Don't come with me.
You stay home too.

-- Wendell Berry

Saturday, October 22, 2022


 The Fabulous Davis Sisters.

Friday, October 21, 2022


 Here's a pretty jumbled mess.  I'm not sure what Fox Features Syndicate was thinking.  The cover is for a one-shot, Women Outlaws; what should have been page (which includes the indicia) showup as page 37 here and indicates that this is the first issue of Cody of the Pony Express.


In "Wagons of Death" Will Cody "had been in many a tight corner before, but never had death lurked so close as now!  Would he live to avenge the bloody death of his pard?"  [Spoiler:  Yes]  Will's pard, Buck, was guiding a wagon train through Indian territory when they were attacked -- supposedly by Indians, but we know better.  As Will holds his dying friend, Buck gives a message for Will to give to his (Buck's) fiance:  "Tell Helen...ARRRGGHH!"  Not the best message to deliver to anyone's betrothed, so Will lets Linda Graham (the daughter of the man who runs the way station for the stage and the pony express at Nugget City) deliver the bad news while he rides off to settle scores.  With guns blazing (and the held of Chief White Cloud and his warriors) will manages to payback outlaw leader Pecos and his gang.  What's the most amazing thing about Will Cody?  After interupting his pony express route to check out the ruined wagon train, find his frind Buck, watch him die, and them bury him, Cody made it to the way station only three minutes late!  What a man!

Next, Cody faces a "Powdersmoke Payoff" after his horse has been "shot out from under him...afoot on the savage prairieand stalked by a gang of gun-hung killers.  The bad guy this time is Ace Torrent, the Cactus Pprings gambler "whose ambition goes beyond a deck of crooked card and a pair of loaded dice" and who aims to take over a lucrative Wells Fargo contract by stopping Will, who is carrying the bid for honest Jeff Cabot.  What's Will to do?  His shot out from under him and now alone on the prairie with no help of getting Jeff Cabot's bid in on time?  There's nothing to do except capture the legendary wild black stallion folks call "The Panther" who has been stealing mares to build up his harem, tame him, and ride him like lightning to Larribee City.  Easy peasy for a hero like Will Cody.  Of course there's some fancy gun shootin' involved.  In the end, all is well and Will, realizing that The Panther "needs his freedom...the wild, unbridled life he was born to," lets the stallion go to "roam free until the trumpets blow."

Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for some Women Outlaws.

Instead I get Will Cody again, this time in "Sleepy Time Six-Shooters."  Exhausted after riding for twenty-four hours straight for th Pony Express, Will is looking forward to a good night's sleep at Graham's way station.  There has been bandit trouble all alone the line to Cactus City and one of the riders, Reins, left his gold shipment at the waystation for fear of being help up.  We all know how that is going to play out for Will...

So now we have just one more chance for some Women Outlaws but -- dang it! -- the last story is about Jim Coulter, fearless veteran of the Lewis and Clark expedition, who "tries to establish a fablous fur empire in hostile Blackfoot territory," only to have to "Race for Life."  His first attempt left his Crow guides slaughtered and Jim spent two months recovering from his wounds.  His next attempt left his friend Steve dead and Jim captured and being forced to run barefoot through a cactus patch chased by bloodthirsty Blackfoot (Blackfeet?  Blackfoots?).  Jim survived that ordeal and a year later was at it again, this time guiding the U.S. Calvary and routing the Blackfoot tribe.  As stories go, this one rates a meh.

So no Women Outlaws, unless they were hiding behind some sagebrush in one of the panels.  **sigh**

Give this one try, anyway.