Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, January 31, 2023


 "Moozeby" by James F. Sullivan (from The Strand Magazine, February  1892;reprinted in Queer Side Stories, 1900, as by Jas. F. Sullivan)

A gentle satire on Theosophy and other such occult and mystic philosophies that were prevalent around the turn of the century.

A group of friends set out in a boat aloong the Thames for a picnic:

"We had selected a beautiful landing-place on the bank of the Thames, and had the added advantage of the shadow of a large notice-board -- a board declaring the land, river, air, sky, clouds, and other articles around and above to be the private property of someone or other, and warning strangers not to land, fish, breathe, exist, or otherwise trespass near the spot.  The shadow of this board served nicely to keep the rays of the sun from the butter and champagne.  We only regretted that Moozeby had not been able to join us."

They selected a nice dry spot to lay their blanket and spread out their viands, but suddenly a wisp of a fog appeared there.  It began to grow and thicken, nds as the picnickers attempted to put their hands through the mist, they met with some resistance.

The fog soon solidified and it was Moozeby, seated (unfortunately) on their little repast.  Moozeby greeted them with apologies. It ws nothing supernatural, just precipitation -- something he had been practicing for a while.  In hs efforts, he did not properly get his bearings -- he had meant to precipitate on a nearby stump, not on the food.

Well, the picnic was ruined.  Then one of them suggested:  if Moozeby had learned to precipitate, why didn't he precipitate some grub.  Moozeby was certainly willing to try.  His first effort brought a ham sandwich that unfortunately appeared on Wortleworth's head -- right on the bald spot.  The sandwich, however, proved edible.  Soon Moozeby had precipitated an entire platter of sandwiches.  Only Mrs. Wimbledon refused to eat, declaring the food "nasty, unwholesome, supernatural."  The picnickers hoped that Mrs. Besant did not psychically pick up on that comment.  (Annie Besant was a well-known Theosophist and social reformer of the time.  Later, our narrator notes, "It is very strange to reflect that this useful power, exercised by H. P. B. and our friend Moozeby , should have been so long neglected by civilized men!"  "H. P. B." refers to Helen Petrovna Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society.)

Precipitation, at least how Boozby practiced it, does not fully work.  When it began to rain, Boozeby precipated umbrellas and rain gear for the picnickers, but some of the umbrellas did not materialize completely and water leaked down on Pinniger and his fiance, Maud Wimble.

The rain delayed the picnickers and by the time they reached the rail station, they found they had missed their train and would have to wait an hour and twenty minutes before the next rain, and that one would take them home by way of Clapham Junction, Willesden, and Loughborough Park, meaning that they would not reach home until morning.

What to do?  They were in a quandry until Pinniger suggested that Moozeby precipitate a train for them.  This was a larger task than Moozeby had ever before attempted, made all the more difficult because Moozeby had no real conception of what the train should be.  He imagined an engine bt forgot to put a train around it.  Eventually, a strangely-formed train began to appear on the tracks -- to the dismay of the stationmaster because an express was due through in twelve minutes.  By this time Moozeby was tired and he was not able to make the train any more complete, nor was he able to make it disappear.  The picnickers tried to push Moozeby's train off the tracks, but they ended up only pushing holes into the flimsy thing.  When the express came roaring through, it smashed the phantom train into light flimsy pieces, and rushed on through without any damage to itself.

The picnickers were forced to walk.  After half a mile or so, Moozeby began to get his strength back and once again attempted to make a train -- this time on a side track.  The train (somewhat insubstantial and incomplete) soon formed.  Then they realized that none of them knew how to drive a train, so Moozeby had to precipitate a driver.  His first attempt got him the wrong type of driver:  a pig-driver.  His next attempt was better -- a train driver, but with one insubstantial leg, so he had to keep hopping around the cab.  Soon they were on their way home, going ever so slowly because Moozeby did not know how to create a more powerful train; and with the floor of the carriage occasionally disappearing so Thripling fell through and Maud Wimble sank through the floor with only her head and shoulders in the carriage.

The moral of the story -- if there is one -- is laid out in the final paragraph:

"It is foolish to attempt such a thing as a train, when one is tired; it brings discredit on Theosophy and makes the uninitiated incredulous about it."

Sullivan (1852-1936) was a British satirist and cartoonist (not to be confused with his brother, the illustrator Edmund J. Sullivan).  The special object of his satire was nineteenth century British mores.  His most popular book was the graphic collection The British Working-Man, By One Who Doesn't Believe in Him, 1878.  The target of his Belial's Burdens: Down with the McWhings, 1896, was the self-important British writer Marie Corelli.  The Flame-Flower and Other Stories, 1896, contained the novella "The Island of Dr. Menu," a satire on H. G. Wells.  Other collections include So the World Goes, 1898, Here They Are!, 1899, and Here They Are Again!, 1900.

From the first issue of The Strand Magazine, Sullivan occupied the back pages of the magazine with a series of tales, many fantastical, under the heading of "The Queer Side of Things."  Nineteen of these stories are collected in Queer Side Stories, including one further tale about Moozeby.  Queer Side Stories is available online at Internet Archive.


Pappy noticed his son leaving the house one night carrying a lantern.  "Where are you a-goin' with that lantern, son?"

The boy replied, "I'm goin' a-courtin' Peggy Sue."

Pappy said, "Well, when I was a-courtin' your mother, I didn't need no danged lantern."

The boy smiled and said, Sure.  And look what it got you."


Two free-lance photographers are sent to the Mexican border to photograph mysterious lights in the sky that have been reported by airplane pilots.  They come across a dead alien.  (Flying saucers were big in the Fifties.)

William Bishop and Lynn Bari star as the husband and wife team.  Also featured are Charles Evans, Tony Barrett, and Christopher Dark.  As always, Truman Bradley is the host and narrator.   This episode was directed by Henry S. Kesler from a script by Lou Huston.

Produced by Ivan Tors and Maurice Zim, Science Fiction Theatre was a television anthology series that ran in syndication from April 9, 1955 to April 6, 1957 for a total of 78 episodes.  The show tried to take itself seriously with a semi-documentary approach and emphasized science over drama while it explored various topics such as robots,, telepathy, flying saucers, extraterrestials, and time travel.  Many of the show's concepts were based on recent articles in Scientific American.  Truth to tell, at times this approach made for pretty boring television.

Over its two season, Science Fiction Theatre featured such well-known actors as Basil Rathbone, Victor Jory, Vincent Price, Gene Barry, Edward Glenn, Ruth Hussey, and Howard Duff.  Among the actors who played multiple roles in various episodes were Dabs Greer, Whit Bissell, Bruce Bennett,and Dick Foran.

Most of the episodes were original; many were created by Tors.  Three of them were adapted from stories by Jack 'Finney, Anna Hunger and R. DeWitt Miller, and Stanley G. Weinbaum.  Among the directors used throughout the series were Jack Arnold, Herbert L, Strock, Leslie Goodwins, Paul Guilfoyle,  and William Castle.

Give this one a try.

Sunday, January 29, 2023


Openers:  Nights on the Cuban blockade were long, at times exciting, often dull.  The men on the small leaping dispatch-boats became as intimate as if they had all been buried in the same coffin.  Correspondents, who in New York, had passed as fairly good fellows sometimes turned out to be perfect rogues of vanity and selfishness, but still more often the conceited chumps of Park Row became the kindly and thoughtful men of the Cuban blockade.  Also each correspondent told all he knew, and sometimes more.  For this gentle tale I am indebted to one of the brightening stars of New York journalism.

"Now, this is how I imagined it happened.  I don't say it happened this way, but this is how I imagine it happened.  and it always struck me as being a very intersting story.  I hadn't been on the paper very long, but just about long enough to get a good show, when the city editor suddenly gave me this sparkoing murder assignment."

-- Stephen Crane, "An Illusion in Red and White"  (a posthumous work, apparently written around 1899 and perhaps completed/revised after his death in 1900 by his mistress/common-law wife Cora Taylor, who deemed herself "Mrs. Stephen Crane"; from Crane's collection The Monster, British edition, 1901 -- which added this and three other stories to the 1899 American edition)

A very short story of murder nd brain-washing by an author who not only represented the Realism tradition, but also the nascent America Naturalism and Impressionism traditions.  Remarkably prolific during his short life (he died at age 28 of pulmopnary disease) Crane is condiered one of the most innovative writers of the 1890s.  His novels The Red Badge of Courage and Maggie: A Girl of the Streets are considered classics, as are such stories as "The Open Boat," "The Blue Hotel," and "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" -- all of which are well worth reading.

An Illusion in Red and White was made into a short film in 2014.  Take a look:


  • William Pater Blatty, Twinkle, Twinkle, "Killer" Kane.  Almost Gothic-like novel.  "ANights grotesque old mansion, a group of seeming madmen, and psychologist Hudson Kane.  The stage is set.  The players have arrived,  But who are the patients and who is the doctor?  And why has a deceased horror star's mansion become a citdel of one of America's most closely guarded secrets?"  Blatty later heavily revised this novel as The Ninth Configuration.
  • Jay Bonansinga, Frozen.  Horror/thriller novel.  "Deep in the Alaskan wilderness. a mummified body is discovered in the ice, the victim of a bizarre ritualistic killing that happened six thousand years ago.  For journalist Maura County, this story is her ticket to the big time -- if she can get the help of the FBI's top criminal profiler.  Special Agent Ulysses Grove is the best of the best -- a born manhunter.  He's also a man on the edge, haunted by both personal tragedy and a recent spate of horrific, unsolved homicides.  Now, in a remote lab, he's about to make a shocking discovery.  Everything about the prehistoric murder -- signature, M.O., the tiniest of details -- matches up with the serial lkiller who has eluded Grove for months.  As past and present collide, County and Grove are plunged into a nightmare journey that will take them into the darkest reaches of the human heart as they try to stop a cycle of evil as eternal and powerful as time tiself."  This is the first of two books featuring Ulysses Grove.
  • Eric Brown, Necropath.  Hard science fiction novel, the second of four in the Bengal Station series.  "Bengal Station:  an exotic spaceport that dominates the ocean between India and Burma.  Jaded telepath Jeff Vaughan is employed by the spaceport authorities to monitor incoming craft for refugees from other worlds.  When he discovers a sinister cult that worships a mysterious alien god. he's drawn into a deadly investigation.  Not only must he attempt to solve the murders, but he has to save himself from the psychopath out to kill him."  (I think the blurb writer for this book could have done much better.)  The copyright page states "Portions of this novel were previously published as Bengal Station," presumably the first book in the series.
  • M. R. Carey, Fellside.  Fantasy novel.  "Fellside is a maximum security prison on the dge of the Yorkshire moors.  It's not the kind of place you want to end up.  But it's where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life.  It's a place where even the wlls whisper.  And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess.  Will she listen?"  The book jacket hints strngly that this is a sequel to Carey's best-selling The Girl With All the Gifts.  Hinting is all it can do, because the book is not a sequel, nor, as far as I could tell, is it related in any way to that sequence.  **sigh**  As Mike Carey, the author writes the polular Felix Casto series of novels about a free-lance exorcist.  A prolific comic book writer, Carey created the Neil Gaiman spin-off series Lucifer (75 issues, and basis of the television show) and had significant runs writing Hellblazer (40 issues) and X-Men:  Legacy (53 issues, if I counted correctly), among many other titles.
  • Ann Cleeves, The Moth Catcher.  A DI Vera Stanhope mystery, the seventh of ten novels in the series (thus far).  "Life seems perfect in Valley Farm, a quiet community in Northumberland.  Then a shocking discovery shatters the dream.  The owners of a local country estate have employed a house-sitter, a young ecologist named Patrick, to look after the place while they're away.  But Patrick is found dead by the side of the lane leading into the valley.  DI Vera Stanhope arrives on the scene with her detectives, Holly and Joe.  When they look around the big house, Vera finds the body of a second man.  All the two victims have in common is a fascination with moths -- and with catching these beautiful, intriguing creatures.  The others who live in the Valley Farm development have secrets too, and as Vera is drawn into the claustrophobic world of this increasingly strange community, she realizes that the secrets trapped here may be deadly..."  This novel was one of those televised for the ITV television show.
  • George Mann, Ghosts of War.  Super-hero, steampunk, occult, thriller with pulpish tendacies, the second in the series featuring The Ghost.  "New York City is being plagued by a pack of ferocious brass raptors -- strange, skeletal creations with batlike wings that swoop out of the sky, attacking people and carrying them away into the night.  The Ghost has been tracking these bizarre machines in an effort to locate their nest and discover the purpose of the abductions, but so far he has found himself foiled at every turn.  Meanwhile, Inspector Donovan of the NYPD thinks he may have stumbled upon a plot to escalate the cold war with the British Empire into a full-blown conflict, a war that would bring utter devastation, not just to Britain, but to the world.  Their efforts to put an end to this conspiracy bring the two men into an uneasy alliance with Peter Rutherford, a British spy who is loose in Manhattan, protecting the interests of his country.  They also have the unlikely assistance of Ginny, the Ghost's drunken ex-lover and sharpshooter, who walks back into his life having disappeared six years earlier under mysterious circumstances.  Suffering from increasingly lucid flashbacks to World War I and subjected to rooftop chases, an encounter with a mechanized madman, and the constant threat of airborne predators, can the Ghost derail the conspiracy and prevent the war with the British from excalating out of control?  The fate of the world is hanging in the balance."
  • One of Jonathan Maberry's most popular series is the Joe Ledger sequence of books, now totalling ten novels and three collections of short stories. Ledger is a former Baltimore cop wha has been recruited for the Department of Military Sciences, a secret organization that combats various types of extreme science threats.  I picked up four of the novels this week.  The Dragon Factory is the second in the series.    Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences "go up against two competing groups of geneticists....One is creating exotic transgenic monsters and genetically enhanced mercenary armies; the other is using twenty-first-century technology to continue the Nazi master race program begun by Josef Mengele.  Both sides want to see the DMS destroyed and they've drawn first blood.  Neither side is prepared for Joe Ledger as he leads Echo Team to war under a black flag."  The King of Plagues is the third book in the series.  "Saturday 09:11 Hours:  A blast rocks a London hospital and thousands are dead or injured...10:09 Hours:  Joe Ledger arrives on scene to investigate.  The horror is unlike anything he has ever witnessed.  Compelled by grief and rage, Joe rejoins the DMS and within hours is attacked by a hit team of assassins and sent on a suicide mission into a viral hot zone during an Ebola outbreak.  Soon Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences begin tearing down the veils of deception to uncover a vast and powerful secret society using weaponized versions of the Ten Plagues of Egypt to destablize world economies and profit from the resulting chaos.  Millions will die unless Joe Ledger meets this powerful new enemy on its own terms:  fighting terror with terror."  Assassin's Code is the fourth novel in the series.  "When Joe Ledger and Echo Team rescue a group of American college kids held hostage in Iran, the Iranian government asks them to help find six nuclear bombs planted in the Mideast oil fields.  These stolen WMDs will lead Joe and Echo Team into hidden vaults of forbidden knowledge, mass murder, betrayal, and a brotherhood of genetically engineered killers with a thirst for blood.  Accompanied by the beautiful assassin called Violin, Joe follows a series of clues to find the Book of Shadows, which contains a horrifying truth that threatens to shatter his entire worldview.  They say the truth will set you free....Not this time.  The secrets of the assassin's code could set the world ablaze."  Predator One is the seventh book in the series.  "On opening day of the new baseball season, a small model-kit airplane flies down from the stands and buzzes the mound, where a decorated veteran pilot is about to throw the first ball.  The toy plane is an exact replica of the one flown by the war hero.  Everyone laughs, thinking it's a prank or a publicity stunt.   Until it explodes, killing dozens.  Seconds later, a swarm of killer drones descend upon the panicked crowd, each one carrying a powerful bomb.  All across the country artificial intelligence drive systems in cars, commuter trains, and even fighter planes go out of control.  The death toll soars as the machines we depend upon every day are turned into engines of destruction.  Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences go on the hunt for whomever is controlling these machines, but every step of the way they are met with traps and shocks that strike to the very heart of the DMS.  No one is safe.  Nowhere is safe.  Enemies old and new rise as America burns.  Joe Ledger and his team begin a desperate search for the secret to this new technology and the madmen behind it.  But before they can close in, an enemy virus infects Air Force One.  The president is trapped aboard as the jet heads toward the heart of New York City.  It has becone Predator One."
  • Robert Silverberg, Exotic Adventures of Robert Silverberg, edited by Robert Deis & Wyatt Doyle.  In 1958 Robert Silverberg had a secure and lucrative career churning out science fiction stories for the many SF magazines that existed then.  Then, in 1959, the market abruptly died; dozens of magazines suddenly ceased publication and the book market (basically one hardcover and two paperback publishers) was not large enough to support mid-tier writers such as Silverberg.  So Silverberg switched gears.  He wrote for the crime, mystery, and other genre digests, he contribuited to  the various men's magazines, he ghosted some novels, he wrote hundreds of books for the softcore novel and the juvenile nonfiction markets,  Silverberg was a facile writer, producing quick, clean, readable copy geared to his markets.  One of those markets was Exotic Adventures, a short-lived, lower-tier men's adventure magazine, to which he contributed twenty-one articles and short stories for five of the magazines six issues -- pieces with titles such as "Attacked by Monster Crabs,"  "I Watched the Secret Sex Rites of Uganda," and "Tahiti, Lusty Island of Untamed Women," all springing from Silverberg's imagination and made out of whole cloth.  Each of the twenty-one pieces was published under a different pseudonym; some of the first person "true-life" accounts were also published "as told to" another pseudonym; most of these pseudonyms were only used once.  The pseudonymns used were David Challon, Leon Kaiser, Stan Hollis, Donald Gorman, Lloyd Lawrence, Dave Callahan, Norman Reynolds, Malcolm Hunt, Martin Davison, Leonard Colman, Mark Ryan, David F. Killian, Sam Mallory (the only pen name used twice -- once as the author and once as the "as told to" writer), Len Patterson, Lawrence F. Watkins, Lin Charles, Jim Hollister, Karl-Heinz Kirschner, Ronald Bradman, Richard Banham, Mal Ford, Nick Thomas, Martin C. Burkhalter, Anna Lukacs, and Les Fields,  No great literature here, just an interesting snapshot of a market and a time long gone.  Also included are a number of vintage ads and cartoons geared to the magazine's market.  NOTE:  I picked up the hardcover edition; the softcover edition has 26 fewer pages and eliminates four stories.
  • Chris Van Allsburg, The Z Was Zapped.  Children's alphabet art book.  Noted chldren's author and illustrator Van Allsburg (Jumanji, The Polar Express, Zathura) has created "a play in twenty-six acts," each featuring a letter of the alphabet and its eventual fate:  "The A was in an Avalanche.  The B was badly Bitten..." and so on.  The single-page artwork is magnificently done.  It reminds me a little bit of what Edward Gorey might have written.

Spoons:  One of the simplest and most versatile percussion instruments are the spoons.  Just plain old spoons.  Playing the spoons takes talent, stamina, and a stronf sense of rythym.  Here are Chris Rodigues and Abby the Spoon Lady covering a Robert Johnson tune:

Abby the Spoon Lady is 41-year-old Abby Roach, spoonplayer, story teller, and activist.  Her home page is

Douglas McCurdy:  John  Alexander Douglas McCurdy (1886-1961) was a Canadian aviation pioneer who joined Alexander Graham Bell's Aerial Experiment Association in 1907.   The following year he helped fellow AEA member Glenn Curtiss set up the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company.  McCurdy became the first British subject to fly an airplane in the British Empire, using the Silver Dart owned by the AEA; it was the first powered aircraft to fly in Canada.  He was the ninth man ever to fly a mechanized craft after Orville Wright.  In 1910, McCutdy became the first Canadian to be issued a pilot's license.  The following year, he made the first flight from Florida to Cuba and became the first person to fly an airplane out of the sight of land.  His attempts to fly to Cuba were not without difficulty.  

The plan was to fly out of Key West to Cuba, breaking the world record for traveling over water.  The Havana Post and the City of Havana offered McCurdy $8000 (more than $100,000 in today'smoney) to make the journey.  Just in case he did not make it, McCurdy hired a tinsmith to make hollow pontoons to attach to the wings of his plane.  The U.S. Navy lined six torpedo boats along the way, each emitting smoke to help guide McCurdy.  He had planned to take off in mid-January but bad weather stalled his departure.  It was not until seven days later that the weather cleared up enough for McCurdy to make a test fight to see how favorable conditions were.  After his liftoff, though,  a crowd of onlookers swarmed the landing field, making it impossible for him to land, so McCurdy decided to begin the flight to Cuba then and there.  He flew at a height of 1000 feet and at a speed of 48 miles an hour.  He was within sight of Havana's waterfront when his cylinders began to die, soon leaving him without a working engine and forcing him to try a water landing.  The pontoons kept the plane afloat while three 14-foot tiger sharks circled the plane.  Within four-and-a-half minutes, the USS Pauling had reached the downed aviator for the first recorded airplane rescue at sea.  "I didn't even get my feet wet," he said.  This took place on this date 112 years ago.

Even though he did not fully reach his intended target, McCurdy broke several records; the Cuban government promised him the prize money because he had made to Havan's harbor.  At a gala ceremony at Havana's opera house, Cuban President Jose Gomez handed McCurdy an envelope with red and green seals.  When MCCurdy later opened the envelope, he found that it was empty.  A diplomat told him that there was no "easy or political way" to get the money and to forget about it -- which McCurdy did.

He went on to set many Canadian and American records until poor vision basically grounded him in 1916, although at his death he held the world's oldest active pilot's license.  In 1915 McCurdy established the first Canadian flying school, which operated from 1915 to 1918.  He was the first manager of Canada's first airport.  He helped set up Canadian Aeroplanes, Ltd., a manufacturing company that supplied airplanes to the RAF during World War I.  In 1928 McCuirdy created Montreal's Reid Aircraft Company and was its first president -- a position he continued to hold until World War Ii, even  after a merger had created the Curtiss-Reid Aircraft Company.  At the beginning of World War II, he became the Assistant Director General of Aircraft Productrion, a position he held until 1947, when he was named Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia; remained in that position until 1952.

McCurdy was awarded the McKee Trophy from the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute on the 50th  anniversary of the first flight of the Silver Dart.  The Institute of Aircraft Technicians created the McCurdy Award at McGill University in his honor in 1954.  When Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame was created in 1973, McCurdy was one of the first to be inducted.  In 2009. the Sydney Airport was renemd the J. A. Douglas McCurdy Airport.  In 2012, he was inducted into the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame.

For a soft-spoken lad from Braddeck, Nova Scotia, Douglas McCurdy left an indelible mark on the history of aviation.

Big Mistake:  On this date in 1933, Adolph Hitler took office as Chancellor of Germany.

Today:  Today is Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day.  As anyone who has happily whiled away the time popping the bubbles on bubble wrap should knows, this is a significant holiday.  As for anyone who hasn't. are you sure you are my friend?

Today is also National Croissant Day.  Here's 26 ideas for great croissant fillings to make your day even better:     Chocolate?  Check.  Almond past?  Check.  Brie and jam?  Check.  Bacon?  Double and triple check.

Want to have some fun?  Celebrate National Insane Answering Machine Day.  In ow you can come up with some real goodies.

Want to have your neighbors hate you?  It's also Yodel for Your Neighbors Day.  Bwa-ha-ha!

Most importantly, today is School Day for Non-Violence and Peace.  May there never be another Stony Brook, another Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, another Uvalde.  May there never be any more stifling of freedom of thought and expession in our schools.  May there never be any more supression of fact in our schools.  May our elected officials listen to reason and the wishes of the vast majority of the American people.  May all parents learn to act like adlts and set a good example for our kids.

Don't Let Me Down:   54 years ago today, the Beatles held their last public perfromance, an inpromptu session on the rook of Apple Records in London:

Black Holes:  A fascinating concept.  What's inside a black hole?  And what's on the other end of a black hole?  We will probably never now.  The concepts are beyond my imagining but the questio9ns are intriguing.   Here's James Beacham, a particle physicst at CERN's Large Hadron Collider, an interesting talk on black holes as he wonders if our universe is actually inside a black hole.  Worth an hour of your time.

Yeah, I Married Into Clan McDonald:   "Scottish-Americans will tell you that if you want to identify tartans, it's easy -- you simply look under the kilt.  If it's a quarter-pounder, you nnow it's a McDonald's."  -- Billy Connolly

Quote:  "If you do not love too much, you do not love enough."  -- Blaise Pascal

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man Stephen Munoz Espinoza, 43, of Delray Beach, is silently thanking the rude person who cut in front of him while in the line to buy a ticket from a lottery machine.  The scratch-off ticket he ended up with won him a $1 million prize.  The guy who cut in front of him got bupkis. 
  • That'll teach them!  Florida Man Obviously Unclear on the Concept Marc Hermann, 53, of Longwood, was upset at his Homeowners Association and decided to teach them a lesson by setting his own apartment on fire.  The fire led to an explosion with injury and damages.  Law enforcement officers and fire and rescue personnel found Hermann sitting on the ground outside the burining buil;ding draped in towels and with a bloody face and hands.  When asked what had happened, Hermann said that the blood had been caused by a gun and that he had shot himself in the neck after startting the fire.  He blamed everything on the management company hired by his homeowner's association.  Three neighboring apartments were also damaged.  Hermann was charged with four counts of arson.
  • 31-year-old Florida Man Devonta Gilmore, a teacher at Union Academy Magnet School in Bartow, was arrested after he was refused entry to a gated communiyt and pulled out a gun, asking, "What?  You want to bump?"  Gilmore told detectives he felt disrespected when refused entry as he tried to pick up his girlfriend's belongings at the gated community.  Gilmore later attempted to return to the community but stopped after seeing law enforcement officers at the gate.  Police later found him hiding in the bushes.
  • 15-year-old Florida Girl Nicole Jackson-Maldonaldo has been sentenced to 20 years of prison time followed by 40 years probation after accepting a plea deal for a 2021 standoff with police officers when she was 14.  Jackson-Maldonaldo was a resident at a children's home in Enterprise where she attacked a worker there and then fled with a 12-year-old boy.  The two broke into a Deltona home. armed themselves with the owner's guns, and vandalized the premises.  When police arrived on the scene they were confronted with gunfire.  Once Jackson-Maldonaldo eventually exited the building, she aimed a shotgun and fired at deputies, who were forced to return fire.  The deputies were able to subdue her without injury to her or to themselves.  She was charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.  The 12-year-old boy was sentenced to a maximum risk assessment program to be followed by conditional release not to exceed his 21st birthday.
  • Florida Man Patrick Abbott, 31, was arrested after trying to rob a Publix Suipermarket in Miami with a stapler.  His finely honed criminal plan did not work.
  • 41-year-old Jean Evenel Innocent appears to have been anything but.  Charged with getting a thirteen-year-old girl pregant, Innocent claimed that voodoo was responsible.  When  the girl appeared at a West Plam Beach hospital complaining of severe abdominal pains, tests showed that she was six months pregnant.  Durng a telephone call with the girl Innocent was heard telling her to make up a story about a boy.  Instead the girl told authorities that Innocent had had sexual intercourse with her four times since she had abdominal surgery in 2020, despite her saying "no."  Innocent told police that he could only remember having sex with the girl two times, and that it did not last that long.  Exactly how voodoo fits into the entire affair is anyone's question.

Good News:
  •  "Brave Bessie" gets her likeness on a new Barbie as Mattel honors the first female Black pilot
  • Zoo celebrates the birth of a Przewalski horse foal prviopusly extinct in the wild
  • This toddler is best friends with a frog -- they eat together, watch TV, go on walks
  • Cargo ship flies giant kite to save fuel and cut emissions
  • Once "biologically dead," England's Mersey River is the "best environmental story in Europe"
  • Alabama town shocked to learn that local farmer had secretly paid pharmacy bills for a decade
  • This may be a case of TMI, but a railroad worker has recued a raccoon whose butt hair was frosen to the tracks

Today's Poem, In Honor of the Poet's 157th Birthday:

Purple Cow

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one
But I can you, any how,
I'd rather see than be one.

-- Gelett Butgess

Saturday, January 28, 2023


 Wow.  Just wow.

Friday, January 27, 2023


 The Jungle Drums of Death

When is an Edgar Rice /burroughs character not an Edgar Rice Burroughs character?  When she is Nyoka the Jungle Girl. 

Nyoka first apeared as the title character in the 1941 movie serial Jungle Girl, where her name was given as Nyoka Meredith and was played by Frances Gifford.  The film was supposed based on the 1931 Burroughs short story "The Land of Hidden Men," which was expanded into the novel Jungle Girl the following year.  Burroughs was one of seven writers credited in the serial, but other than the fact that there was a jungle and there was a girl, the film had little to do with the novel.  There was no Nyoka in the book, nor was there any sort of Nyoka-like character.  Burroughs had set his story in Cambodia and his Jungle Girl was an Asian princess called Fou-Tan, who happened to live in a jungle area.  Nyoka, on theother hand is a Caucasian woman who lives in Africa.  When the time came for afilm sequel -- the 1942 serial Perils of Nyoka, featuring Kay Aldridge (whose photo would grace some of the covers of the Nyoka the Jungle Girl comic books) -- Burroughs name was dropped from the credits completely, and Nyoka's last named was changed to Gordon

The film Nyoka was used as the basis of the Fawcett comic books, beginning with the Winter 1942 issue and ending with the June 1953 issue.  After Fawcett ceased publication, Charlton Comics purchased the character and published nine issues, from #14* (November 1955) to #22 (November 1957).  After Charlton Comics ceased publication, the right to Nyoka were purhased by AC Comics which came out with five issues of The Further Adventures of Nyoka the Jungle Girl between 1988 and 1989.  Sinc ethe Nyoka has appeared as c aharacter in other AC titles.  Most of the AC issues consisted of reprints and movie stills. 

I could not find the first issue of Nyoka the Jungle Girl online, so let's start with issue #2, which features a four-part story, "The Voodoo Drums of Death."  Rich, spoiled playboy Zoot Swoot -- a real "jitterbug" --has dreams of starting his own swing band and he needs a gimmick for it -- a "genuine native African voodoo drummer" -- and he wants Nyoka to be his jungel guide.  Without Zoot's knowledge, his father has made a deal with Nyoka for her to accept the job.  Meanwhile King High (a baddy if there ever was one) has taken a heafty life insurance insurance policy on Zoot to cover a $100,000 gambling debt.

Nyoka is soon facing death from an explosion, a shipwreck, shark-infested waters, vicous savag cannibals, and a pair of killers sent by King High.  Can Nyoka save Zoot, her boyfriend Larry, and herself so that she can continue on for more than eighty issues?  Your guess is as good as mine.

The lot isn't much and the characterizations are weak at best, but at least you have a jungle, and a girl.

 Give this one a try.

* Fawcett  published 76 issues of Nyoka; I assume the Charlton comic book took over the numbering of another Charlton comic book.

Thursday, January 26, 2023


I haven't finished anything that would be considered a forgotten book this week.  My current reading is divided among Wiliam Godwin's THINGS AS THEY ARE; OR, THE ADVENTURES OF CALEB WILLIAMS (1794), Rex Stout's early psychological novel HOW LIKE A GOD (1929), and C. S. Lewis's CHRONICLES OF NARNIA (1950-1956).  One of the above may be featured next Friday.  I usually have one book on the computer, one for the car and various appointments, and one on the bedside table.  I think many of you have read NARNIA.  What about the other two?  Any opinions?

Wednesday, January 25, 2023


This one aired the same day my brother was born!

Lucky Driscoll can be a very polite guy.  In fact, the first rule of his gambling house is to always be polite to the suckers.  As for the second rule, Lucky always collects -- even if he has to use means that aren't quite legit.  "A genuine 'evil eye' is really of the devil...and can really kill!"

Lon Clark stars as Nick, with Charlotte Manson playing Patsy.  Bob Marshall was the announcer.  This episode was produced and directed by Jock MacGregor from a script by Jim Parsons.


Tuesday, January 24, 2023


 :Henry Horn's Super-Solvent" by Dwight V. Swain (from Fantastic Adventures, November 1941)

Henry Horn is a nebbish of a scientist who likes to experiment, often without thinking of the consequences.  In the past he's blown the roof off the laboratory of the guinea pig breeding farm where he works, blighted every peony within a ten-mile radiu, and tried to create a death ray that only made every guinea pig in the facility sterile.  Now he's decided that he would try to create a universal solvent.  Surely there had to be a market for that.

His friend and supervisor Professor Paulson asked him where he was going to store the super-solvent if he did manage to create it -- because any container would surely dissolve if the solvent were truly universal.  Horn admitted that he had not thought of that and decided to end his experiments.  Before Paulson could stop him, Horn poured the various liquids he had been experimenting with into a bin, accidently creating the super-solvent he had been seeking.  The solvent -- a pinkish cloud -- settled on the labortaory table and dissolved it, along with a lot of lab equipment and what few notes Horn had made on his experiments.  And it kept dissolving things...

Paulson suggested they suck it up with a fan and release it into the outside air where it would certainly dissipate.  The pink cloud dissolved the fan, made a huge hole in the outside wall, and floated away without dissipating.  It blew past a passing Douglas DC-3 and dissolved its rudder fin.  Luckily the crew were able to land the plane safely.  Over the next few days there were reports of a chimney on a local landmark wrecked, a tail disappearing from a statue of Grant's horse, a reservoir wall collapsing, and a standpipe broken in the middle.  

Horn and Paulson tried to report the experiment ot the local police, but they disbelieved them until the pink cloud descended and ate a cornice from the station-house.  From there it went on to dissolve a junkman's horse.

Experts were called in:  an airline meteorologist, a chemist from the area's largest industrial firm, an Air Forces Combat Command colonel, two physicists from the local university.  Something had to be done before the sovent destroyed a human life, rather than just property and the occasional animal.  The "experts" were in a quandary how to dissipate the pink cloud.  TheAir Force colonel, being a military man, decided to bomb the hell out of it, but the cloud just ate the bombs.  Incendiary devices did not work, either.  A famous physicist declared that it would eventually dissipate, but that it must be contained until it did so.  He proposed using wind currents to drive it to a remote mountain, where it could attatch itself there.  That worked -- until the cloud ate the mountain and broke loose.

Henry Horn decided that, since he had created the super-solvent, he must come up with a way to destroy it.  Professor Paulson knew that Henry's ideas always turned out disasterous, so he locked Horn in a bedroom to prevent him from reaching his laboratory.  The twenty-foot drop from the bedroom window did not deter Henry Horn -- there were plenty of spare sheets he could use to make a rope to escape...

This was the first of four stories about Henry Horn to appear; two in Fantastic Adventures, and two in its sister magazine Amazing Stories.  Horn went on to invent a racing ray, a blitz bomb, and x-ray eye-glasses.  The editor of Fantastic Adventures, Raymond A. Palmer, was a popular author of science fiction stories in the 1930s.  When Ziff-Davis bought Amazing Stories, editor T. O'Connor Sloane resigned, and the magazine was moved from New York to its Chicago headquarters.  On the advice of author Ralph Milne Farley, Ziff-Davis hired 27-year-old Palmer to be its editor.  Palmer was a four-foot tall, enthusiastic hunchback, the result of a broken back he suffered when he was 7 years old after being hit by a truck.  Palmer immediately turned the stodgy science fiction magazine into one aimed at a juvenile audience, with fast-moving adventure tales with little or no concern about rationalization or credibility. Logic be damned, keep the story moving.  Palmer's appraoch was an immediate success.  Sales climbed through the roof and Amazing Stories served its juvenile audience as well as the more mature Astounding Stories would serve a more scientifically literate audience in the days of John W. Campbell, Jr.  In 1939, Palmer added a companion magazine, Fantastic Adventures, to serve as a fantasy counterpart to Amazing Stories.

One hallmark of Fantastic Adventures was the a number of original, off-trail, often humorous series, the most notable of which was Robert Bloch's Damon Runyon-ish Lefty Feep saga.  Other characters (both humorous and otherwise) included Leroy Yerxa's Freddie Funk, William P. McGivern's Tink, Thornton Ayer's The Golden Amazon, Manly Wade Wellma's Hok, Nelson S. Bond's Lancelot Biggs, James Norman's Oscar, Detective of Mars, Miles Sheldon's Ebbtide Jones, Elroy Arno's Willowby Jones, and Palmer's own (under his "Robert Pelkie" pseudonym) Toka, King of the Dinosaurs.  The list can go on and on.  Most of these characters were forgettable but Palmer's audience ate them up.

Dwight V. Swain (1915-1992) was a pulp writer who eventually joined the staff of the University of Oklahoma's Professional Writing Program.  "He pioneered scripting documentaries and and educational/instruction movies using dramatic techniques, rather than the previously common talking heads."  Swain wrote a number of nonfiction books about the craft of writing and was a popular speaker at writing conventions throughout America and Mexico.  He was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame.

"Henry Horn's Super-Solvent" was Swain's first published story.  The November 1941 issue of Fantastic Adventures can be read online.



The People's Choice was an NBC sitcom starring former child star Jackie Cooper.  It ran from October 6, 1955 to September 25, 1958 for 104 episodes.

Cooper plays Socrates "Sock" Miller, a former Korean War vet, ornithoplogist, and budding politician who live with his Aunt Augusta (Margaret Irving) and his beagle Cleo in a trailer park in New City, California.  One theme that runs through several of the episodes is the common belief that trailer park residents are somehow a lower class of people because of where they live.  Thi may be why the town's mayor, John Peoples (Paul Maxey), does not approve of Sock, who has begun dating his daughter Mandy (Patricia Breslin).

Scok is a newly-elected member of the City Council and is studying on his own to be a lawyer.  (One did not need a law school degree to take the bar exam.)  Scok and Mandy both assume that her father's disapproval would disappear once Sock passed the bar and became a lawyer.  Confiodent that he would pass the bar, the pair elope to Las Vegas and get secretly married the day before the exam.  On the drive back, however, Sock gets stopped for a traffic violation and spends the night in jail and misses the bar exam.  The newlyweds decide to keep their marriage a secret from mher father until Sock can take the exam and pass it.  This sets the theme for the first season.

The breakaway star of the show was Cleo, the beagle.  She (voiced by Masry Jane Croft) would speak to the audience with sidecracks.  During the show's run, the popularity of the breed increased significantly.

"An Adventure of Sock" takes full advantage of Cleo's popularity.  In it, Cleo relates how she joined the Miller family and how Sock almost married the wrong woman when he retuirned from the army.  The episode was directed by Peter Tewksbury and written by Alan Lipscott and Bob Fisher.


Sunday, January 22, 2023


Openers:  It was the first time in twenty yearsof handling pottery that I've ever dropped a piece.  It smashed to bits on the tile floor, and a twenty-dollar gold piece rolled out.

My assistant, Mr. Linchan, picked it up and said, with his customary. ill-advised sense of humor:  "Maybe we ought to smash the rest of them, eh, Doc?"

I reminded him cooly that my title was "Doctor," took the eagle from him and put it in my pocket.  We began to assemble the fragments of the piece that had been broken.  It proved to be a quart jug, one-eared, of a raw-earth color fired with a peculiar transparent crackle-glaze over a bisque body,  When I picked up the piece inked with the catalog number I looked in my ledger.

"American Ceramics Gallery," said the page. "#6684503, gift of Hannes Schlectman, Reading, Pa. 3/5/39 -- thrown and fired circa 1920, maker unknown, insured $10."

-- "A Ghoul and His Money" by C.  M. Kornbluth (first appeared in Dime Detective Magazine, September 1946; reprinted in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, January 1993; collected in Hard-Boiled Detectives, edited by Stefan R. Dzienmianowitz, Robert Weinberg, and Martin H. Greenberg, 1992)

Our unnamed narrator is basically a cold fish. a humorless depratment head of an East Coast ceramics museum, and prideful of his knowledge about his chosen field.  His preferred breakfast is a slice of dry toast and a glass of warm watert, although weak tea would also do.  He gives "Little Talks on Pots," whiohc have been "received wuith so much enthusiasm by the habitues of the museum."  He is not what one could consider a hard-boiled detective.

When he reported the incident to his supervisor, the man basically told him that such a piece did not belong in the museum anyway, and he questioned our narrator's judgement in accepting it.  This led to a heate argument between the two.  Later, our narrator was called before the museum's board of directors and was given a month's vaction with full pay.  Since our narrator's supervisor was due to retire within the month, this solution meant that the b oard need not take any action that might result in negative publicity.  Our narrator decides to use the month to trace the origins of the destroyed piece.

It takes him to a small Pennsylvania town, where he discovers that the jug was made by a woman who had died of cancer some years before.  The potter who made the piece called herself Miss Henderson, although she was really Mrs. Hobbet -- after her abusing hiusband had beaten her, causing her to lose her unborn child, he had disappeared and she reverted to her maiden name.  This had happened some twenty years before, around the time that the broken jug had been fired, and also the time when the town's bank had been robbed of a large sum of golden eagles and double eagles. Neither the robbers nor the money were ever found.  Our unassuming narrator soon discovers small town corruption, a double murder, and impendng death at the hands of a murderer.  Only his knowledge of the art of pottery making saves him.

C. M. Kornbluth (1923-1958) was best known as talented and prolific science fiction writer of the 40s and 50s who published under his own name and some fourteen pseudonyms (some in collaboration).  A member of the Futurians, a group of science fiction fans who eventually became distinquished and influential professionals (Frederik Pohl, Donald Wollheim, Robert A. W. Lowndes, James Blish, Judith Merril, Damon Knight, Richard Wilson, Isaac Asimov, and others), his career was cut short by his death after shoveling snow before heading to New York for an interview to assume the editorship of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  In addition to his science fiction and some paperback "pot-boiler" novels published in the 1950s, Kornbluth published eighteen pulp mystery short stories, all but two of them in the 1940s.  His was a blazing talent.  there were few better when he took the time to craft a story.


  • Rhys Bowen. Oh Danny Boy.  A Molly Murphy mystery.  "In turn-of-the-century New York City, Irish immigrant Molly Murphy is contemplating giving up PI work for something a little less complicated, less exciting.  Molly has had quite enough excitement recently, thank you very much.  Especially from the handsome but deceptive NYPD captain Daniel Sullivan, whom she'd like to avoid completely.  But when Daniel is accused of accepting bribes and lands himself in The Tombs, the notorious city jail, he begs Molly to help prove he was framed, and after everything they've been through, she cannot turn him down.  As she finds herself drawn further and further into the case, she begins to fear that Daniel's trouble is related to one of his investigations -- catching the East Side Ripper, a serial killer who is targeting prostitutes.  Oh Danny Boy arks Edgar-Award finalist Rhys Bowen's triumphant fifth installment in her New York Times bestselling Molly Murphy mystery series."
  • W. J. Burley, Wycliffe's Wild Goose Chase.  Mystery "Wycliffe's home overlooks a peaceful, West Country estuary -- buit even here he can't get away from crime.  One Sunday morning he is walking along the shore when he comes across a service revolver with one chamber recently fired.  In recent years Wycliffe has often regretted the fact that his rank cuts him off from the early stages of an investigation, but here he is, in at the very start.  The case takes Wycliffe into the world of art robberies and crooked dealers, to a suicide which may be a murder, and a hunt for a missing yachr.  Aa the investigation escalates, Wycliffe begins to wonder exactly where the clues are leading."  
  • Max Allan Collins, CSI:  Crime Scene Investigation:  Dark Motives.  Computer game.  "Team up with the entire cast of CSI and a new imporved crime lab to track down the heinous truth in five complex new crimes.  No crime is ever perfect.  Your job is to find the flaw."  Collins scripted four of these CSI computer games back in the day.  When I across this used copy I thought I'd give it a try.  If my Luddite brain can figure out how to work it, that is.  I picked it up because I'm a big MAC fanboy.
  • Elizabeth Daly, The Book of the Lion.  A Henry Gamadge mystery.  "Avery Bradlock wanted Henry Gamadge to tell him the value of his famous late brother's unpublished correspondence.  But after one curious evening with the Bradlock household, Gamadge became far more intereeted in the strange circumstances surrounding Paul Bradlock's death two years earlier.  What had the well-known poet and playwright been doing in Central Park on the night he was murdered?  Could the woman whose apartment Pul had visited supply the answer?  When Gamadge went to question the lady, he discovered that his most promising witness, indeed his only witness, was suddenly dead.  Someone was writing the final act to a deadman's play in blood."  Daly wrote good old-fashioned mysteries and Gmadge has been called "the American Peter Wimsey."
  • John Farris, Catacombs.  Thriller/horror/adventure mash-up.  "John Farris's tribute to H. Rider Haggard and King Solomon's Mines is an action-packed thriller with international espionage, rare, powerful jewels and a lost race of cat people."
  • A. J. Hackworth, The Library of the Unwritten.  Fantasy.  "Many years ago, Claire was named head librarian of the Unwritten Wing -- a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library.  When a hero escapes from his book and goes in search of its author, Claire must track and capture him -- with the help of former muse and current assistant librarian Brevity and the nervous and sweet demon Leto.  But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horribly wrong when  the terrifying angel Ramiel attacks them, convinced they hold the Devil's Bible.   The text of the Devil's Bible is a weapon in a power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the ability to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell...and Earth."  I'm a sucker for librarians in Hell novels.
  • Maurice Proctor, Rogue Running and Somewhere in This City (original Biritish title, Hell Is A Ctiy0.  Inspector Martineau mysteries.  Rogue Running:  "It started at a football game.  Detective Brabant, who should have had his eye out for pickpockets, discovered that his own wallet had been lifted, along with all his police credentials -- a serious matter to a man in his position...But the worst was yet to come -- with an elderly businessman missing, his secretary turning out to be more than a secretary, and a famed football player turning out to be real trouble.  Soon Brabant and wily Chief Inspector Martineau found themselves in a pro game of deception and detection where every move might be their last -- where the next play was sure to be murder..."  Somewhere inThis City:  "Inspector Matineau and his men turned the town upside down in their hunt for Don Starling, thief and murderer.  But Starling eluded them.  He had a perfect hiding place -- and one thing he had to do...kill Martineu!"  Proctor was a long-serving British police constable and the author of 26 novels, 14 of them in the Inspector Harry Matineau series.  Hell Is a City was released as a 1960 film starring Stanley Baker, John crawford, and Donald Pleasence; I haven't seen the film but it is reportedly very watchable.
  • Connie Willis, Futures Imperfect:  Three Short Novels.  Sceince fiction omnibus.  Uncharted Territory:  "There's no better team than Carson and Findriddy when it comes to surveying uncharted territory.  But they aren't making much progress on the plantet Boothe, and the government back home is making noises.  It's the governments own protocol that slows things down -- rules meant to protect indigenous ecosystems and cultures.  Fin and Carson pay stiff fines to their native guide, Bult, for every infraction, and Bult knows a good thing when he sees it.  He spends most of his time fining them for 'verbal abuse of indigenous fauna' (yelling at one of their uncooperative mounts) or 'disruption of land surface' (leaving footprints).  So Boothe's uncharted territory remains uncharted...and filled with indigenous surprises."  Remake.  "Yes, Virginia, there is a Hollywood, but nobody makes live-action movies there anymore.  Why bother, when computer technology allows you to remake any film with any actor you choose?  An expert like Tom, for instance can give Casablanca a happy ending or replace Bogart with River Phoenix.  And mucking up a classic doesn't bother him, much.  What bothers him is Alis.  She wants to dance in the movies -- really dance -- and she won't listen when he tries to explain why it's impossible.  Unfortunately, her obsession touches off his own:  he can't stop thinking about her -- even after she disappears from the Hollywood scene.  He keeps seeing her, or thinking he does, dancing in old, old films..."  Bellwether.  "Sandra Foster is the expert on fads at HiTek, a research and development firm in Boulder.  The company Management is convinced that by learning what triggers a fad, they can launch one at any time and make a fortune.  But fads are unpredictable -- at least most of them are.  The latest fad sweeping through HiTek is another story.  When Management expresses interest in winning a million-dollar grant, the entire staff jumps on the bandwagon.  Even Sandra gets caught up in the trend to conduct research that will pay off, teaming with chaos theory scientist Bennett O'Reilly for an experiment involving the education of sheep.  Together they make a discovery at once serendipitous and profitable..."

A Folk Music Top 40 - 1986:  I was in a nostalgic mood this week and tagged some of Dick Cerri's Music Americana radio programs on YouTube.  For some 35 years, Cerri was the host of Music Americana, The Folk Music of America on various radio stations in the Washington, DC area.  In 1982, Cerri and singer/songwriter Tom Paxton formed the World Folk Music Association, a major promoter of contemporary and traditional folk music.  I thing I miss most about living in the DC area is the various concerts and showcases that WFMU sponsored.

Here is the program featuring the show's 1986 Top 40 Songs as voted on by its listeners.  1986 was the fifth year that Cerri spotlighted the Top 40.  Some damn good listening here, along with a trip down memory lane.


Batons:  The singer introducing the show above is Christine Lavin, who, besides being a great talent, is a baton twirler.  It is my firm belief that everyone should appreciate her skill at baton twirling.  So...

A Good Year for Nepotism:  On this date in 393, the Roman emperor Theodosius I proclaimed his 8-year-old Honorius co-emperor.  Theodosius ruled the Roman Empire for 16 years until his death in 395.  As emperor he won an important war against the Goths, and also put down two civil wars.  Under his rule, the Nicean Christian Catholic orthodoxy was recognised as the official state religion of the empire.  He was the last emperor of a whole Roman Empire, before it was split into two, with a western and an eastern court.  His eldest son Arcadius was named co-emperor in 383, but he proved to be a weak ruler, dominated by his ministers and his wife.  Arcadius became the ruler of the eastern half of the empire after his father's death.  The second son of Theodorius, Honorius, named co-emperor in 393, was no great shakes as a leader either. Following his father's death, he ruled the western half of the empire.   As a child ruler, he was dominated by his principal general (and guardian) Stilicho -- who became his father-in-law when Honorius married Stiliocho's daughter Maria.  After Maria's death in 407, Honorius married Thermantia, the second daughter of Stilicho.  In 408, a rival of Stilicho convinced Honorius that his father-in-law was conspiring with barbarians to overthrow him.  In response, Honorius had Stilicho and his son executed, and had Thermantia taken from the throne and given to her mother.  With the death of Stilicho, the military strength of Rome was severely weakened.  By 410, Alaric and his Goths were able to sack Rome.  A few years earlier, the Roman general Constantine had declared himself Western Roman Emperor in Brittania in 407, and became co-emperor from 409 to Constantine III.  The Western Empire slowly began to erode.   In 417 Constantine married Honorius's half-ssiter, and Honorius named him co-emperor in 421, but Theodosius III (who had succeed Arcadius in the 
East) refused to recognized him.  Meanwhile, Honorius became physically attracted to his half-sister, forcing Constantine to move her and her two childrten to Constantinople.  Honorius died of edema in 423, leaving no heirs.  By that time, Britain, Spain, and Gaul had been ravaged by barbarians.  Eventuially Theodosius managed to seat his cousin Valentinian III on the Western throne.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll:  There have been times recently when it appeared that Mother Earth was out to get us.  Nothing, however can compare with what happened 467 years ago in Shaanxi Province in China.  The dealisest earthquake on record happened then, killing an estimated 830,000 people -- over 100,000 dying direct;ly from the earthquake, with more than 700,000 dying n the aftermath from starvation or plague.  More than 97 counties in Shaaxi and surrounding provinces were affected, with the earthquake reaching a scale of 8.0.  The earthquake destroyed an 840K-wide area (520 miles).  In some counties as much as 60% of the populationj was killed.

Ernie Kovacs:  Today is the birthday of Ernie Kovacs (b. 1919).  Where would America be without the Nairobi Trio?

Buffalo Bill:   Frm 1898, here's an actual voice recording of Buffalo Bill Cody.

Vampire Lore (French Edition):  To kill a French vampire you must drive a baguette through its heart.  Sounds easy but the porcess is pain-staking.

The Cuckoo Murder Case:  An Ub Iwerks mystery with Flip the Frog.

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man Leonard Irvin Wayne Tucker, 56, has been accused of dragging an 87-year-old Pensacola woman across the floor, using her as a mop to clean up dog urine.  Tucker had been living with the woman since 2018 as her caretaker and was reported to have been a family friend since the 1990s.  The incident was recorded on videotape.  Tucker had previously spent 11 years in prison from 2005-16 on homicide/manslaughter charges stemming from an incident in Santa Rosa County, the charges stemming from a house fire which left one man dead.
  • Sometimes Florida Men come out smelling like roses.  Maybe.   Five Florida Men -- Carlos Duvergel, 58, Juan Crespo, 46, Felix Castillo, 49, Asnay Fernandez, 32, and Ishmael Manzano-Suarez, 25 -- were convicted of stealing $1.3 million in perfume from a New Jersey warehouse.  One presumes they did the theft in Jersey because Florida don't need no stinking perfume.
  • Love means never having to say you're sorry, especially in Florida, and especially if you have a squirt gun and some ricin handy.  50-year-old Kevin Jones of Kissimmee was sentenced for intended to spray his former partner with the ricin loaded gun.  Jones, already a convicted felon, had intended to go on vacation after immediately spraying the woman with ricin so that he would have an alibi.  When arrested, he was found with five tubes of home-made ricin along with the squirt gun; a search of his home disclosed five addition tubes of the bniological toxin and nearly 200 rounds of ammunition.  He was forced to surrender two firearms that he owned illegally.  Jones will have ten years in prison to contemplete true love's ways.
  • Florida Man David Reed, 54, of St. Petersberg, was arrested in Kentucky after state troopers noticed his car driving erratically.  As troopers approached his car, Reed took off, leading them on a three-county chase in which several police cars were damaged.  When stopped, the troopers found a woman's body -- her name and cause of death thus far unreleased -- in the trunk.  Reed was arrested for murder, domestic violence, abuse of a corpse, fleeing or evading police, tampering with physuical evidence, and resistng arrest.   Kentucky police evidently do not take kindly to bodies in car trunks.  Maybe Reed should have left her in the back seat instead.
  • Somewhat off-topic.  Mys son-in-law and grandson spent last week in the Florida Everglades hunting pythons.  Although they spotted all sorts of neat animals, they did not encounter any pythons.  I think I know what happened -- they were looking in the swamp itself and not on the road:

Good News:
  •  Fooled ya!  It turns out that five historical torture devices were never used but were invented by con men
  • A crew of street veterinarians treat the pets of skid row homeless
  • Cancer plummits, guinea worm eradicated, bye-bye ebola -- three huge wins for humanity
  • What's in a name?  A man from Luck, Wisconsin won the $15.1 Megabucks jackpot
  • Man who broke into school to save 20 peopple in a blizzard gets Super Bowl tickets from the Buffalo Bills (another reason for George Kelley to be proud of his home team)
  • 90-year-old woodcutter biult his own "Hobbit" house, where he lives in charming comfort
  • Singing bus driver becomes a star after making video to show family in India what he did for work

Today's Poem:
The Everglades

Gren and blue and white, it is a flag
for Florda stitched by hingry ibises.

It is a paradise of flocks, a cornucopia
of wind and grass and dark, slow waters.

Turtlrsd bask in the last tatters of afternoon,
frogs perfect their symphony at dusk --

in its solitude we remember ourselves,
dimly, as creatures of mud and starlight.

Clouds and savannahs and horizons,
its emptiness is an antidote, its ink

illuminates the manuscript of the heart.
It is not ours though it is ours

to destroy or preserve, this the kingdom
of otter, kiongfish, alligator, heron.

If the sacred is a river within us, let it flow
like this, serene and magnificent, forever.

-- Campbell McGrath


 The Thomas Cumberland Choir.

Friday, January 20, 2023


 They seek him here,

They seek him, there --

Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.

Is he in Heaven?

Is he in Hell?

That demned elusive Pimpernel!

Well, seek no longer.  He's at the link below.


Fast Fiction was a short-lived -- five issues -- comioc book from Seaboard Publishing, running from October 1949 to March 1950.  Each issue covered a well-known novel in graphic format, much like the Classics Illustrated line.  All five issues were reissued by Seaboard in 1950 with different covers and under the title Stories by Famous Authors (Famous Authors Illustrated).  In addition to Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel, title covered were Raphael Sabatini's Captain Blood, H. Rider Haggard's She, John Buchan's The 39 Steps, and Percival Wren's Beau Geste.  Announced for the sixth issue, but never appearing, was Cornell Woolrich's "The Boy Cried Murder!," which was the basis for the Bobby Driscoll/Barbara Hale film The Window.

Enjoy this version of the adventures of Sir Percy Blakeney:

Thursday, January 19, 2023


 Walking the Perefect Square by Reed Farrwl Coleman (2001)

Moe Prager is an ex-New York City cop, "retired" after he suffered a disasterous work-related knee injury.  How he injured his knee was as prosaic as most of his police career:  he slipped on a piece of carbon paper on the floor.  This was in December 0f 1977, back when arthroscopes and MRIs weren't standard operating practice, and "the docs cut me up pretty good."  

The only thing of note that happened during Prager's police career occurred five years earlier, when seven-year-old Marina Conesco vanished on an Easter Sunday trip to Coney Island.  For four days, police and volunteers searched for the little girl before admitting that she was probably dead.  It was on the fourth day, however, while searching after hours with two firemen, that Prager had an intuition -- they began to search rooftop water tanks and found the young girl in the fifth tank they searched.  She was in half a foot of water, her skull fractured, as were her right arm and left ankle, but she was alive, suffering from shock and hyperthermia; she had been molested for two days and then thrown in the tank to die.   Another time, another place, and this would have been a career-maker for Prager.  But this was the Seventies and money in the city was tight, and Prager was a Jew; to advance in the police force one had to be of the right sort and to have the right political connections.

For several years, Prager and his big brother Aaron had been pooling their resources to make Aaron's dream of owning his own wine shop come true.  Aaron had found the perfect store for his dream,  but Prager and his brother were several thousand dollars shy from closing the deal.  Prager's best buddy from the department, Rico Tripoli, offered to put up the rest of the money for a share in the business, but Aaron wanted this to be strictly a family affair.  Then Rico found a way for Prager to come up with the money himself.

Patrick Maloney was a college student at Hofstra who had gone missing several weeks before at a college fundraiser held at a Manhattan bar.  One moment the was there and the next he wasn't.  People -- and often college students -- go missing all the time but, in this case, Patrick was the son of Francis Maloney, a sanitation commissioner for the county and a powerful political figure -- the best fund-raiser the county Democratic machine had.  Maloney could make the government wheels spin and sing to any tune he wanted; making and breaking people was a hobby with him.  If Prager could find the boy, Maloney would see that he got the money needed, tax-free, to close the deal on the wine shop.  In addition, he would grease the regulatory wheels of the liquor commission -- as long as Prager made a sincere effort, whether it succeeded or not.

Francis Maloney was not a nice man.  He was an out-and-out racist who showed no true concern for his son (always referring to him as "the boy."), and he appeared to be approaching Prage strictly to appease Patrick's mother.  Maloney admitted that he would prefer not to hire Prager, but "a deperate man plays even the low cards in his hand when the picture cards aren't winning."  Maloney also told Preger to relay anything he found out to Rico Tripoli instead of himself -- he did not really want to be bothered with Prager.  Prager knew he was being called in only for appearances sake.

Then Prager discovered that Maloney was deliberately trying to thwart efforts to find his son.  Why?  And Patrick Maloney was a mystery -- a reclusive yet friendly young man, talented but unwilling to explore his talent, an obessive-compulsive who could be prone to violence, a man who normally avoided girls but would fall in love at the drop of a hat...

It was the late Seventies and America was changing, soon to grow out of its "est, disco, and shag rug" stage into something else.  Personal and social attitudes were being examined.  And Prager soon had to examine his own personal attitudes and biases.

Through it all, Moe Prager remained a quiet observer. although questioning everything that is happening around him.  He is a strong famiuly man, with a deep love for his brother and sister and their families.  As the case continues and becomes more and more complicated, Prager also finds comfort in newly-formed friendships.  Prager is surrounded by deceit, hatred, bigotry, corruption, and violence, but his personal sense of humanity and loyalty protects him and, in the end, may betray him.

Reed Farrel Coleman is the author of nine books in the Moe Prager series, including the award-winning The James Deans.  Coleman's books have won the Anthony, Audie, Barry, Macavity, Scribe, Shamus, and Spinetingler Awards, and is a four-time Edgar nominee finalist, a four-time Barry Award nominee finalist, a three-time Anthony Awrd nominee finalist, a three-time Macavity Award nominee finalist, and a Gumshoe, INDIEFAB, and Thriller Awards nominee finalist.  Coleman has also authored the Dylan Klein, Joe Sharpe, Gulliver Dowd, Gus Murphy, and Jack Kenny series of books, as well as two standalones.  In addition, he wrote six books in  Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone series.  Coleman has been called the "noir poet laureate."

If you have not encountered his work before, what are you waiting for?


 James Stewart reprises his title role from the classic 1939 western in which the son of a famous lawman is called in to clean up a town.  Al;so featured in the radio version is Joan Blondell.

Destry Rides Again was supposedly based on a 1930 western novel but was really more based on the novel's title.  The meat of the film comes from Brand's "Twelve Peers," a sixpart serial that appeared in Western Story Magazine beginning on February 1, 1930.  The story had been filmed earlier in 1932 with Tom Mix and Zazu Pitts.  Audie Murphy starred in a 1954 remake.  It also had a successful run in 1959 as a Broadway musical starring Andy Griffith.  The 1939 version was selected for the Library of Congress National Film Regsistry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."  The movie marked James Stewart's first entry into the westerns field and also revived Marlene Deitrich's flagging career.

Enjoy Destry riding again again.

As a bonus, here's Marlene Deitrich singing "The Boys in the Backroom":

Tuesday, January 17, 2023


 "A Heart Divided" by "Louisa Carter Lee" (Will F. Jenkins, a.k.a. "Murray Leinster"), Love Story Magazine, June 12, 1926

Will F, Jenkins (1896-1975) had a long career as a writer of genre fiction, beginning in 1915 when he began publishing poems, short stories, and miscellania in H. L. Mencken's magazine The Smart Set.  It was Mencken who suggested that Jenkins begin to use a pseudonymn for items publ;ished in other magazines.  Jenkins began placing stories in Saucy Stories and Sanppy Stories under the name "Jean Farquar," and first used the name "Murray Leinster" for a story in the August 1917 issue of The Smart Set, an issue n which he had already placed a story under his real name.  By the beginning of 1918 stories by Murray Leinstert began appearing in The Argosy and All-Story Weekly, two of the most popular pulps then running.  As the pulps became more and more popular, genre-specific titles began to appear and Jenkins began appearing in those -- he wrote westerns for the western pulps, as well as detective stories, jungles stories, science fiction stories, and horror stories for the magazines specifically catering to those tales.  In 1921 he began publishing romance stories in Love Story Magazine under the name "Louisa Carter Lee."  In all, he published 37 stories in that magazine between 1921 and 1928 -- including one serial and one full-length novel which was later published by Chelsea House (which would go on to publish two other romance novels under the "Louisa Carter Lee" pseudonym).

"A Heart Divided" introduces us to Phyllis Dean, a 20-year-old typist from humble beginnings who is employed by prominent politician Francis Tremb.  Many people of wealth and influence visit the Tremb estate but Phyllis, knowing her place in society, does not interact with them.. one person who tries to interact with Phyllis, thought, is Bertram Grey, a handsome and flirtatious man of breeding.   Phyllis, because of her social standing, has a low opinion of herself and assumes that Grey is paying attention to he because he pities her; she is quietly pleased by his attentions but, because she is a girl of great common sense, does not place much weight on them.  For his part, Grey flirts because that's what he does; he has no real feelings for Phyllis at all.

One evening, when Mrs. Tremb is holding a fancy ball, Phyllis was working late in the office.  When she was finished, she snuck apeek at what was happening.  Grey spotted her and followed her into a study.  Grey had spent the entire evening bored with the company and had imbibed perhaps a bit too much.  He began flirting with Phyllis once more but his boredom and the liquor overcame him and he proposed marriage to her.  PhylLis was astounded and, in he4r innocence, felt that his offer was real.  As she demurred, he became more insistent.  She liked Grey but did not love him but truly took him at his word that he loved her.  Her concern in not rteplying was not due to any feelings she might have had, but to a concern whether such a marriage would be fair to Grey, given their social differences.  Grey tried to draw her into an embrace, but she eased out of it, telling him that she would have to think about his proposal and that she would let him know her answer the next morning.

The next day she sent him a letter accepting his proposal.  Grey was then  called out of town and she never saw him again.

Two days later, Grey's brother Essex appeared, telling Phyllis that the marriage could never take place   He offered her a thousand dollars to release Grey from his pledge -- basically accusing Phyliis of being an adventuress.  Phyllis became angry and order Essex out of the house, saying that she never wanted to see him again.  There was something in Phyllis' anger that made Essex realize the he had been wrong about the girl.  In fact, Phyllis' reaction was so strong that Essex began to realize that he was falling for this determined girl.  (Yeah, love can sneak up on a person like that in the romance pulps.)

Over the next eight months, Phyliis continued on with her work.  Bertram grey never appeared at the Tremb house again but Essex did appear a few times to conduct business with Francis Tremb; each time Phyliss managed to avoid him.  But one day Essex laid in wait for her in the study.  He tried to apologize but Phyllis would have none of that.  Finally Essex admitted that he was in love with her and wanted to marry her.   Phyllis erupted and told him no uncertain terms that she enver wanted to hear from him again.  Because Essex would occassionaly have business with her employer, she made the hard decision to leave her job.  She went to live with an aunt who lived in straightened conditions.  After four months of unemployment -- she refused to give the Trembs as refrence for fear that she might end employed by someone who knew Essex or Bertram Grey -- she finally managed to secure a post with the household of Mr. Ulverston, a man who spent almost all his time travelling on business.

Will Phyllis ever find love, or even happiness?  Will Essex ever fin Phyllis and win her heart?  We all know the answer:  "He opened his arms and she went into them with something of the sweet simplicity and confidence of a child."

Ah, happy endings.  They can bring a tear to my eye.

Trite and formulaic?  Yes, but their is something of the Jenkins/Leinster magic here.  Phyllis is a full-blown character and she may act a bit like a turnip-brained fathead at times, the author makes us spympahize with her; indeed, even respect her.  As for the brothers Grey, they appear to be nothing more than plot devices -- which is as they should be.

The "Louisa Carter Lee" stories are a very minor part of Will F. Jenkins output but they proved him capable of writing in almost every genre.  He went to published over 80 books over his long creer, as well as more than 1500 short stories and articles, 14 movie scripts, and hundreds radio and television plays.  Somewhere along the line, he also found time to be a successful inventor.  As a writer, he was always readable, always enjoyable -- a claim that many others cannot make.

The June 12, 1926 issue of Love Story Magazine is available online at Internet Archive, as are several issues of that magazine with "Louisa Carter Lee" stories.

Monday, January 16, 2023


 Few people did it better than Buster Keaton.

Enjoy this short film.

Sunday, January 15, 2023


 Sorry, no Bits & Pieces post today.  Que sera.


 Gordon Bok, Ann Mayo Muir, & Ed Trickett.

Friday, January 13, 2023


 You say you never heard of Zippo?  I don't blame you.  He was a costumed hero appearing in Hillman's Clue Comics #1-8.  Created by Pierce Rice, Zippo's day-to-day identity was that of private detective Joe Blair.  Blair had this thing about crime, see -- he didn't like it.  So he came up with a crime-fighting invention:  super-speedy wheels that could go up to 65 miles an hour.  Just the perfect thing for catching crooks.  The wheels are attached to the sides of his boots and are propelled by pressurized air in his specialized belt that moves the driving rods running down his legs, thus propelling the wheels.  The wheels themselves are large and are made of carborundum steel, allowing Blair to use them as cutting tools should the occasion arise (and it does).  Such an invention calls for super-duper costume and Blair's is a tight yellow suit with blue boots and long blue gloves.  On his chest is emblazoned a large red "Z". He also wears a futuristic-type helmet and mask.  His shirt collar flairs up in the back.

Why the name Zippo?  Who knows?  Perhaps because he can zip around on those wheels.  And perhaps because Zippo was a (marginally) better name than "Trying-to-Keep-Your-Balance-Man."

In his first outing, Zippo goes against labor racketeers led by the Pirate, a nogoodnik who kills his opponents with a pirate's sword (when he doesn't have one of men mow them down with a tommy gun).  To Zippo's mind, the Pirate's biggest offense is that his labor racket is harming the war effort.

Then he tackles the Lynx, who uses a doll factory to cover up the sale of unlawful defense steel.  After that he has to stop the Nazis from blowing up Boulder Dam and cutting off power to West Coast defense industries.

A mad scientist develops a serum that will reduce government officials to the mental capacity of  stone age cave men so that he could rule the country.  Racketeers extort money from those new to our shores by threatening their families back in Europe.  A prisoner that Zippo had previously nabbed has secret sabotage plans hidden somewhere and Zippo must find where they are, but first he must go through The Fly, a freak whose bite is poison.  A madman uses an amusement park as a death trap for his employees.   A mobster who died twenty years ago comes back with a tommy gun blazing to take over the city.  It's all grist in the mill for Zippo.

Enjoy.  And try not to wonder why the War Department and the FBI keep calling on Joe Blair to single-handedly do their work for them,

Thursday, January 12, 2023


Morbius:  The Living Vampire, by Roy Thomas, et al., 2019

Michael Morbius is a comic book character -- he's a Nobel Prize-winning scientist turned vampire.who first appeared as villain in the October 1971 issue of Marvel Comics' The Amazing Spider-Man.  Suffering from an incurable blood disorder, Morbius tries to create a cure using fluid extracted from vampire bats, along with an electrical shock treatment designed to create new blood cells; also included ion the projected treatment is some sort of "deadly radioactive materials."  (Of course, this makes no sense, but this is a comic book, after all.)  The experiment, conducted by Morbius's best friend and assistant, Nikos, did not go as planned -- it changed the brilliant scientist into a living vampire.

A bit of explanation here.  As a "living vampire," Morbius is a scientically-created blood drinker, as opposed to the traditional supernatural vampire who is one of the living dead.  A living vampire is not affected by religious crosses, holy water, or any of the other things that would normally deter a supernatural vampire.  A living vampire does not burn up in the sun's rays at daylight -- although sunlight does appear to weaken Morbius.  A living vampire casts a shadow.  A living vampire cannot create another vampire by drinking its blood.  Most of the supernatural claptrap that affects a supernatural vampire just does not apply to Michael Morbius.  Morbius, as a scientist, does not believe in supernatural vampires --  a belief that holds up for a number of adventures.  As a living vampire, Morbius has great strength and agility.  He has hollow bones, which aids him in gliding through the air with a special costume that has "wings" attached to the arms.  Morbius does have an overwhelming thirst for blood -- warm, thick blood, bubbling up from his victims.   The thirst can overwhelm him at night, turning him into a ravining, unthinking beast; during the day, however, the urge lessens and the guilt over what he has done sinks in.  Morbius is a vampire with a sometimes conscience.

Got that?  Good.  Back to the origin story.  The experiment has turned Morbius into a vampire and his first victim was his friend, Nikos.  Immediately after Nikos is murdered, Morbius attempts to go his fiance Martine for help but then his thoughts of the "warm -- rich blood coursing through her veins" frightens him; instead of going to her, he flees and attempts to drown himself.  Alas, vampires are not easy to drown.

Thus Morbius is condemned to roam, occasionally attempting to find a cure (and always failing), occasionally trying to avoid the blood thirst overtaking him (and almost always failing), and occasionally finding a sympathetic human to bond with (and that never works out well).  Because he is a "scientific" vampire, the conceit was to have his adventures fall into the science fictional realm.  Eventually, though, many of his adventures dealt with the supernatural.  Sometimes the two genres melded, resulting in tales which were unintentionally silly.

Morbius:  The Living Vampire is a large (over 850 pages!) omnibus containing every comic book appearance of the character for his first ten years -- 41 comics worth.  The stories may be light and predictable but, make no mistake, this is some heavy reading -- I weighed the book on my bathroom scale and it topped off at 6.4 poundsThe book has a cover price of $100.

One problem with the Morbius saga is the ever-changing line-up of writers and artists, as well as the fact that his adventures cover a total of twelve different comic book titles, from The Amzing Spider-Man to The Savage She-Hulk.  Some of the two-part stories suffered when the original writer (or artist, or both) was pulled from the story and assigned to a different title and whoever took over the task of completing the tale had no idea what the intended conclusion was.  Some consistency came about when Morbius was the feature character in a dozen issues of Adventures into Fear.  Most of his appearances were in the "regular" color comic books that were bound by the industry's Comics Code, a requirement that had been instituted in the Fifties durng the nation's great "comic book scare" that was destroying the morals of the nation's youth.  Not covered by the Comics Code were the full-size (8 1/2" by 11") black-and-white comic magazines which allowed more graphic blood, gore, violence, and sex.  After viewing the success of Warren Publications' entries into this field (Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, etc.), Marvel joined the trend with several titles, including Vampire Tales, which featured Morbius and other characters, such a Blade, the vampire hunter.  The black-and-white magazines featured artwork several levels above that of the color comics.  The stories were more nuanced, although in the case of Morbius, sex was never a big factor.  (Females were drawn with wasp waists, large tat-tas, and plunging necklines -- but that was about as far as it went.)

The color comics were cruder in their approach to both art and story.  Monsters were often pathetically drawn and, in the rare cases where the story tried to be truly original, the artist could not live up to the challenge.   One sequence had a monster of a gadzillion eyes, each of which was a gateway to a nightmare dimension; it was impossible for the artist to capture the scripter's vision and the monster ended up drawn in the most laughable manner ever.  In another sequence, a mutant being from Acturus had a large eye for a head; the eye was round and white, the pupil pink, distinctly resembling a nipple surrounded by areola -- the only real attempt to breach the Comics Code that I could find in the book.

Also included are a number of letter columns from the black-and-white issues, full of gushng praise and puerile critism, as well as some remarkably on-point observations -- all giving the reader a sense of what was trying to be accomplished, outide of increased sales.

Consistency was not a hallmark in these stories; since they were often pubished months apart, that was not a large concern for either readers of Marvel.

It's not a title that will appeal to most people.  You probably know already whether you would enjoy something like this.  Let me end up by saying that I was hooked.  I had planned merely to dip into the book but, once I read the first story I just kept reading.  I really don't know if that was because of the character or because of the medium.  I finished the book in two days (fully convinced I would never have to lift arm weights again.)   And, yeah, I feel guilty for enjoying the book so much.

One final caveat:  Don't be like me -- this is a book that should be approached in bits and pieces.